Chapter 49 – Mining (middle part 1)
The place for mining was a cliff where a landslide had taken place.
In the past, Eiji had been guided by Philip to a place where they had to walk from one mountain to another.
Gaps in the cliff were completely exposed due to the landslide. Till its inside, one could notice the sight of magnetite.
Iron is one of the most numerous kinds of ore that appears on the surface.
Its distribution is worldwide.
However, if one is to describe iron ore, there are several type of them.
Among them, magnetite is the type that is easiest to apply in smithing.
Were it to be a low quality version of hematite, the cost performance ratio would probably be far cheaper than now.
It probably wasn’t easy to refine a good-quality iron.
Being able to collect magnetite is indeed a good fortune.
There was no end to Eiji’s gratitude for Philip, who brought him to this place upon knowing every nook and corner of all the mountains.
Eiji and there rest lined up in front of the cliff. With each of them holding a pickaxe, they looked up at the cliff.
It was almost 6-7 meters in height.
The cliff was expanding horizontally; nevertheless, there was a single vertically ray-shaped spot that cut into the mountain. That was where ores had been excavated till now.
He would drop the ores together with the soil from above and carry them out on a wheelbarrow.
The top of the cliff was going toward the vertical ray-shaped spot while creating steps that acted as a foothold under the place of mining.
– Well then, we will begin shortly. Is every one of you holding a pickaxe?
– Yeah, I’m going to show you my strength.
– We are ready!
– Then, I’ll have you dig here for the ores that contain iron needed for smithing. Still, I’ve got a single piece of advice for you: excavate the ones from above first, so as not to injure yourself.
– What’s the deal? Won’t it be faster to dig the ores directly?
– You see, I said that because it’s meant to prevent them from falling.
Why do we have to use such a sluggish method? – At Dante who had question marks appearing above his head, Eiji smiled wryly.
There was a single reason for that.
Katharina understood the meaning and feeling behind Eiji’s words well.
– To begin with, the foundation here is loosened, causing landslides in this place. That however, formed a place where we could find iron ores. Because there’s a fear that we might be trapped under the soil if anyone of us make a single mistake, let’s start with digging from the top.
Mining ore is generally divides into two categories: open air mining and cave mining.
Open air mining is safe in terms of cave-in incidents, still, it requires lots of effort to dig to the spot that has a vein of ore.
What’s more, there’s one negative aspect of doing so, which is environmental destruction caused by thoroughly excavating the ground from the surface.
However, the reason why Eiji was so particular about the open air mining till now was due to the fact that it won’t contribute to one’s loss of life.
Eiji’s only plan was to make use of the environment.
If they strip down the upper part of the cliff to its part below, it will take them far less time to dig ores rather than usually doing it on the ground.
This procedure used to be one of the mining methods applied in practice.
– Damn, I was also thinking that way.
– Your power will come handy for the part that takes lots of time, so I have expectations in you.
– O-Oh, leave it to me.
Was he perhaps not used to being praised? Dante rubbed beneath his nose as if feeling bashful.
After that, he would nervously scratch his head while putting a broad grin on his face.
They might be unexpectedly obedient people – Eiji thought.
What was worthy of praise was their pure heart, but on the other hand, their weak point was the fact that they were still brats.
They somehow managed to grow up without even knowing what the gentle side of human nature is, so they will probably be fine that way.
Provided that Eiji treats them adequately, it might be possible for them to be lively during their work.
By working every day to the fullest in the sweat of one’s brow, one can notice the joy of what one does.
And when it comes to that, won’t they grow into fine humans with the presence of mind?
As for today, there seemed to be some anxiety about their growth, but, a small light of hope was visible.
However it will turn out, they are people whom Eiji will come face to face with from now on.
For someone who’s in a superior position, believing in one’s subordinates is the only thing they can do.
All the members climbed onto the top of the cliff and dug up the ground with their pickaxes.
Raising their pickaxes overhead, they swung down as if making their tools’ weight bite into the soil directly.
stab – the end of their pickaxes pierced into the ground.
A shock ran not just through their hands but also their elbows and shoulders.
Doing it in a manner of inserting the end of the pickaxe with the principle of a lever, lumps of earth rose up and crumbled.
Once they repeated that procedure several times, they kicked down the content toward the bottom of the cliff.
It was a repetition of a simple work.
– Damn, indeed, it’s solid.
– So h-hard～. Uff～、so heavy—.
– Yo ho. It’s the matter of getting the knack. Once you become used to it, you will be able to perform it easily.
Eiji could understand Dante’s feelings well, as he clicked his tongue while looking at his hands.
Within a short amount of time, small blisters appeared on his hands.
What’s more, since this was their first time mining, it might have caused them a great trouble. Eiji could grasp what Katharina was feeling as well.
He handed her the lightest and shortest type of pickaxe, but regardless of that, it still was probably putting her under a great burden.
However, swinging with a pickaxe was actually part of smithing too.
Despite saying that she’s a girl, as long one doesn’t possess the minimum strength needed for smithing, that person won’t be able to craft anything good.
What is almost common between smithing and mining is that they both require the person to perform the action of swinging downward with something heavy.
Therefore, all the similar muscles, like the ones from the back to the shoulders, and the ones in arms, are used.
Rather than having them swing with a hammer, hold a pair of fire tongs, or forge iron every day from now on, first, there was a need for them to build up some body mass.
Among those who were holding a pickaxe, Pietro was the one who performed the best.
What’s more, he was the one who had been doing most of mining-related tasks as a form of observational study.
Due to Pietro’s growing period, his body outline was still thin, however, he was quicker and smarter in his actions than the rest.
Eiji too understood that as they had been going together for mining numerous of times in the past half of a year.
Pietro’s way of using the pickaxe was exceptionally skillful.
He wasn’t applying that much of power, still, it was certain that his pickaxe sank deeper into the ground.
On top of that, Pietro skillfully made use of his weight when digging up, which made it more difficult for him to get tired.
In addition to him working proficiently, the pickaxe probably won’t wear out quickly.
Those who know how to operate a tool, and not just a pickaxe, are the ones that can use them the longest.
Their sights gathered naturally.
Both Dante and Katharina watched how Pietro was being familiar with his work. They tried to learn while asking to themselves what they were lacking.
And then, Pietro himself probably noticed their glances.
Once he stopped moving his hands, his face flushed red as if feeling a little bit shy. Nevertheless, after he made a single cough, Pietro began instructing Katharina.
– Hey, Katharina-san. It will be better if you grip the handle a bit shorter. What’s more, you’re holding it too tight, so loosen a bit your grip.
– L-Like this?
– That’s right, that’s right. Because we will be continuing our works till the sun sets, we ought to do it skillfully, otherwise it will be troublesome.
– T-That’s right. We can only do this till the evening…
– Hey, teach me too.
– Dante-san, you’re only using your arms. On top of that, you’re putting too much of your strength into it. It’s better for you to use your whole body more. And then, there’s a problem in how you operate the tip of the pickaxe. Rather than knocking it against the ground, you should use it with the sense of piercing in your mind.
Pietro, who was the youngest among them, boldly took the initiative of teaching the pupils how to properly use the pickaxe.
Dante too, nodded toward Pietro’s words as he checked out his piece of advice by using the method of trial and error. On the other hand, Pietro continued to swing while pointing out their mistakes from time to time.
Age doesn’t matter as long one possesses the proper skills that can be taught.
Of course, they might feel like being taught by a junior; nonetheless, Pietro was actually doing a magnificent job of instructing them.
Not boasting with the skills he possesses, he taught them politely with lots of pride.
It was the appearance of a splendid senior apprentice.
Pietro grew up favorably, even though half year ago Eiji couldn’t tell what would become of his disciple.
Seeing his growth, Eiji felt a hot sensation gushing from the inside of his chest.
Till now, Pietro had been pouring all his heart into his duty as a subordinate while gaining experience with his body. Thanks to that, he was now able to convey what he had learned.
It was probably still not enough to teach him smithing-related skills, however, his time as an apprentice will remarkably reduce. As soon that happens, he will be able to teach others even more than now.
I guess, I too, cannot lose. – Eiji thought.
– Pietro, I’ll be going to the village and returning back later, so I’ll entrust you with the job here. I should be back before the sun sets.
– Got it. I’ll make sure that we take a proper break during the day.
– I’ll leave that to you as well.
Being satisfied at hearing a reliable answer from Pietro, Eiji passed through the forest once more and returned to the village.