Chapter 68: Black iron ore bestowed from the gods
It was narrower inside the mining cave than Han Shuo had thought. The dwarves had shorter statures and could walk around with ease, but Han Shuo found it a bit inconvenient. Even with the light from oil lamps along the way, it was still rather gloomy inside the cave.
After a few minutes of walking, Han Shuo had to start stooping his body. The farther down they walked, the danker and more humid it got. Broken shards of stone could be found all over the ground, and when Han Shuo discovered that it was becoming difficult to progress even when stooped over, that was when the three dwarves finally stopped.
The dwarves ahead held metal spades and hammers in their hands, exerting themselves to the utmost as they mined. The sounds of tapping rang out continuously. When they discovered that Han Shuo had come in, they all involuntarily stopped their motions and measured up Han Shuo with suspicious gazes.
“The cave will become more and more spacious as we make our way past this narrow juncture. Although there are more iron and copper cores inside, rocks rain down from above when we transport the ores. There was a collapse a few days ago, and we spent an enormous amount of effort to reopen the path.” Bennett leaned back somewhat tiredly on the hard rock wall as he looked at Han Shuo when explaining.
Nodding, Han Shuo said, “Alright, make some space for me. I’m going to summon the skeletal warriors and have them go inside to mine the ore.”
In accordance with Han Shuo’s instructions, the dwarves cleared out of the area, starting from those furthest inside the cave. When there was no longer any dwarves within the cave, Han Shuo started the necromancy magic incantation. Seven skeletal warriors, in a row, appeared within the passageway, completely blocking it off.
Han Shuo had only been able to control six skeletal warriors originally, but now that he had meditated using the round green ball, his mental strength had improved again and was now able to manipulate seven skeletal warriors simultaneously.
“Put your iron spades and hammers on the ground. I’ll command the skeletal warriors to use your tools and mine the ore inside.” After the seven skeletons had appeared, Han Shuo looked at and spoke to the dwarves who had retreated.
The dwarves hesitated upon hearing Han Shuo’s words, and then flung out the mining tools in their hands one by one upon Bennett’s persuasion. Han Shuo manipulated the skeletal warriors, commanded them to cast out the bone daggers from their hands, and pick up the mining tools on the ground instead. Each of them arched their bodies and slowly plodded into the depths of the mining cave.
A “wraith” was released and floated into the depths of the cave along with the skeletal warriors, according to Han Shuo’s instructions. With the aid of this wraith, Han Shuo could observe the environment surrounding the wraith. With the wraith leading the way, Han Shuo could observe the sights of the depths of the cave as if he were there in person.
It was as the dwarves had said, the skeletal warriors had to stoop and slowly thread their way through an exceedingly narrow entrance, after which the space became increasingly larger. Except, there were no light facilities inside. Thus, Han Shuo was unable to clearly see all of his surroundings.
As the “wraith” and the skeletal warriors covered a large distance, to the point where Han Shuo felt that he would no longer be able to manipulate these dark creatures, he issued the mission to start mining ore. According to the “wraith” vision intermediary, Han Shuo focused his concentration and manipulated the seven skeletal warriors to start tapping and hitting the ores around them.
Loud rumblings noises sounded out, accompanying the skeletal warrior’s movements. After a short while, Han Shuo could clearly feel via the “wraith” that because of the skeletal warriors’ digging, the rocks at the top of the mining cave had started to shift. Some large rocks actually fell down after a while, directly smashing the skeletal warrior in a pile of bone fragments.
Focusing his concentration, Han Shuo closed his eyes and stood in front of the dwarves, carefully manipulating the skeletal warriors. He sent the “wraith” floating to the top of the cave and observed the loosened rocks with utmost care. He would hastily send the skeletal warriors dodging to the side whenever the rocks fell.
After proceeding like this for a while, another skeletal warrior was directly smashed to smithereens by another large rock. Han Shuo’s mental strength was severely depleted and he felt a wave of vertigo in his mind. He immediately understood that he had over exhausted his mental strength and hastily commanded the remaining five skeletal warriors to stop mining ore, pick up the ore fragments that they’d extracted, and start moving them backwards.
When the five skeletal warriors started moving the ores on the ground one by one to the narrow pass, the dwarves on Bennett’s side cheered and started walking to the pass without waiting for Han Shuo’s instructions. They picked up the ores from there and moved them safely to Han Shuo’s side.
After this went on for a few minutes. Han Shuo felt that his mental strength could no longer sustain the skeletal warriors’ continued actions and so immediately and decisively chanted an incantation again, sending the remaining skeletal warriors and the “wraith” back to the other dimension.
At this moment, the cave opening in front of Han Shuo was already filled with dozens of large and small pieces of ore. The dwarves cheered as they fell over each other to free the ore from the surrounding rocks, placing the ore into the packs behind their backs.
“Oh, dear friend, because of your help, our haul today is greater than the amount of ore we’ve obtained in a week. These adorable iron and copper ores can be used to forge beautiful weapons after they’ve been refined. What a joyful happening.” Although Bennett was very tired due to his injuries, he was in extraordinarily fine spirits now as he gazed upon his companions jubilantly knocking off the excess rock and picking up the ores. He excitedly expressed his gratitude to Han Shuo.
The other dwarves picked up the ores with great delight, laughing heartily as they took out the wineskins that they always carried with them, happily pouring beer down their throats, emitting hearty “glugging” sounds.
“Oh, goodness, what’s this, what’s this?” A dwarf suddenly screamed shrilly, attracting the attention of all the other dwarves as they all surged up to this dwarf.
Han Shuo was also similarly surprised and glanced involuntarily at this dwarf, but he had already been surrounded by the other dwarves, completely blocking Han Shuo’s vision. He speculated to himself, was something the matter?
Just as Han Shuo’s mind was rife was suspicion, Bennett suddenly lost his composure and laughed wildly, even throwing the wineskin of beer into the air as he cut a caper. Exceedingly elated, charged yells came out of his mouth, “Black iron. Damn, black iron. I am sure this is black iron. Oh my gosh, there’s black iron inside. The chief will go crazy when he finds out about our find!”
The other dwarves also flushed thoroughly red upon hearing Bennett’s words as they too danced wildly, raising their hammers to crazily hammer at the walls on all sides. The loud sounds they raised rather gave Han Shuo a fright.
Han Shuo heaved a private sigh of relief upon hearing Bennett’s words, understanding that the dwarves must have obtained a marvelous metal to be so crazy with excitement. He too was happy on the inside.
After a while, Han Shuo asked after the dwarves, who were finally began to calm down, “Bennett, what kind of ore is this black iron? Is it very precious?”
Bennett nodded repeatedly like a little chick pecking at rice, saying excitedly, “Of course, exceedingly precious. Precious to the utmost! The density and hardness of black iron is the highest amongst all ores, but its weight is the least amongst all metal. It also never rusts, and can change color through adding other materials. It’s the most supreme material in crafting weapons, and a gift bestowed upon us from the gods!”
Han Shuo was about to congratulate them when something suddenly flashed through his mind and a patch of memories flooded in. He suddenly realized that according to the properties of this black iron, the black iron, according to Chu Cang Lan’s memories, was actually a precious material used to forge magical treasures — Mystical Metal.
“What a pity there’s only a small piece. Looks like there’s only enough to forge a small dagger.” After expressing his excitement, Bennett looked at the black iron in the dwarf’s hand and said with a bit of regret.
“Bennett, don’t be dejected, there’s bound to be more black iron inside. Perhaps we’ll be able to mine a larger piece next time, that way we can forge the sharpest weapon!” The dwarf Benson said.
“Dear friend, thank you so much for your help. We are willing to share our mining cave with you. Can you continue to help us? We are willing to share the ore that is mined.” Bennett turned a face full of desire towards Han Shuo and pleaded after hearing Benson’s words.
“I’m very happy that you trust me so, and am also quite willing to help you, but I’m too weary today and need to rest a night. I’ll come back tomorrow and continue helping you mine, alright?” Han Shuo chuckled privately to himself and said humbly to Bennett.
“Of course, of course. We’ll be here early tomorrow morning with the village chief. I hope you can stop by again!” Bennett hastened to reply.
Nodding, Han Shuo smiled, “Then I’ll see you tomorrow!”
Han Shuo didn’t leave with a single piece of ore after saying this and walked in a natural and unrestrained manner to the mouth of the mining cave, leaving behind a few widely excited dwarves continuously taking large gulps of beer.