Published at 4th of September 2017 05:28:04 PM
Chapter 86
Chapter 86: Natural Resource Survey

  「Can you keep going at this speed?」(Lodurr) 「Yes…… I can still go…… at this speed . 」(Valetta) 

While intensely running on the dry ground towards the mountain that could be seen in the distance, Valetta and Lodurr exchanged words . Both of them was running at a speed that surpassed the average record of 100 meters running in the world, but there was no sign that it was particularly difficult for them .  Valetta, who didn’t usually run too much and not accustomed to it, was running while paying attention to her pace and breathing, but Lodurr still had energy left to spare .  「By the way, when I went to the mountain last time, I find an abandoned tunnel . Perhaps, there might be ores like the ones on the photograph you had shown me near it . 」(Lodurr) 「A…… Mine?」(Valetta) Compared to Lodurr who was talking smoothly without any change, Valetta replied while matching it with her breath .  「Yes, perhaps it was dug long ago…… Ah, if it’s hard for you, you don’t need to reply . It will be fine if you just listened to it . 」 (Lodurr) Valetta nodded at Lodurr’s suggestion, so she quickly returned on looking at the front and concentrate on runningNormally, there won’t be a problem of running while not talking, but if she talked while keeping her speed at it is, the difficulty level will immediately increase . It wasn’t like she didn’t have any energy to talk, but it was a difficult task for the current Valetta to talk normally like Lodurr while running until reaching the mountain . Even if she could do it for the first few minutes, her breathing might go disordered and her stamina would be depleted immediately as the result .  「I believe that it’s an abandoned mine with an exhausted vein, but the stone that they discarded in the surrounding had become a huge mound . I don’t remember if there is any red stone like in the photographs, but there is a merit to try to visit it once . 」(Lodurr) Even though Valetta was running carefully so her breath won’t be disordered, she was delighted at the information that Lodurr gave . In the middle of the discarded rock pile from the already mined tunnels, perhaps there might be iron ore mixed in it . If she found a place where the iron ore was dumped altogether, then even without any mining, she could easily obtain it .  「So, when I find that mine, there was a heavy rain coming down . I entered it thinking to shelter from the rain, but there is a large nest of bats inside . The bat dung under my feet had piled up so deep, on the other hand, if I went outside then I will be quite drenched up from the rain…… In the end, I stood inside the tunnel while my feet smeared with dung until the rain is over . That experience is so agonizing . 」(Lodurr) Lodurr who was deeply narrating his experience, made Valetta unconsciously slipping out a smile . Then, while continuously listening to Lodurr’s reminiscence story, they ran for one hour . Without taking a single break on their trip, both of them arrived at the open field at the mountain’s foot . This mountain was part of the mountain district located on Isteria northwest, or the mountain located north from Grisea Village .  There was groves of dense trees stretched out in front of them . Since the tree grove was overgrown with trees and grasses, they couldn’t see what lies behind it .  「Fuu . Finally, we arrived…… Are you alright?」(Lodurr) Lodurr worriedly asked Valetta who was putting her hand on her knees while panting for air .  「Haa, haa…… I-I’m al, right…… Let’s rest, awhile……」(Valetta) Valetta was breathing roughly as sweat dripping off from the tip of her nose and chin .
In the other hand, Lodurr there was sweating on his forehead and his breath had become a bit faster, but it wasn’t as bad as Valetta who was gasping for air and sweat like a bucket . The difference in the fundamental physical strength that could be compensated just by physical strength enhancement was vividly depicted in this situation .  Lodurr recommended to sit down and take a rest, so Valetta sat down at that place and then wiped out the sweat with the cloth towel she brought while resting her body . During that time, Lodurr casually entered the mountain overgrown with trees and quickly returned with one branch as big as an adult’s arm . He cut that branch with his hatchet and at the slanted cut cross-section into a clean ellipse shaped . From the branch cross-section, water was dripping down .  「Here, Valetta-san . If you tip this branch then water will come out . Don’t drink too much or you could get stomach ache…… Though, we had drank it numerous times till now so it might be fine . 」(Lodurr) 「Ah, thank you very much……」(Valetta) Valetta received the branch from Lodurr and then tip the cut out branch into her mouth . And then, a lot of water immediately flowed out from the branch . Its taste had a bit peculiar bitterness, but it wasn’t a problem at all for drinking it .  Valetta’s throat made gulping sounds as she drunk the water and then she presented the branch to Lodurr .  「Ah…… I feel more refreshed . Do Lodurr-san also want to have a drink?」(Valetta) 「Hm…… No, I’m fine . Also, if I received it, Kazura-san might be angry . 」(Lodurr) 「Eh? …… A……u……」(Valetta) When she noticed that she was about to hand over the branch that had entered her mouth, Valetta looked down with blushed face at Lodurr’s words . Seeing Valetta behaving like this, Lodurr raised a laugh and once again entered the mountain .  Then five minutes passed . Valetta, who had completely regained her stamina, stood up and brushed off leaves or sand that stuck to her clothes when Lodurr came back from the mountain . The sack behind his back had become a bit bulged, so it seems he had taken something from the mountain .  「Lodurr-san, I’m already alright . Let’s search for the ores . 」(Valetta) 「I understand . Then for now, let’s go to the riverbed . 」(Lodurr) Lodurr nodded at Valetta’s words and took out the hatchet from his back and walked once more into the trees . At times Lodurr would swing the hatchet to cut obstructing ivy so it won’t be a hindrance and Valetta followed several steps behind him .  「What have you picked not long ago? It seems that there’s something inside your bag . 」(Valetta) 「I picked a polishpowder branch . Recently the sliding door in the house had become bad, so my wife asked for it . 」(Lodurr) The polishpowder branch that Lodurr was speaking about was a branch from a tree that was smoothly covered with a white powder on its surface . If this powder was spread over the threshold of a sliding door that had become bad from years of use, its slide will immediately become better . It was far more effective than using wax, so bringing this branch home was very handy . As long as the branch was stick into the ground then it will continue to produce powder for awhile, so everyone in the village could use it .  「Ah, I also want to use some . The barn door’s slide had become bad recently……」(Valetta) 

「Then, I’ll give several branches when we returned to the village . Since I took a lot, I plan to split them with everyone in the village . 」(Lodurr) While having such conversation, they walked for about 20 minutes . Using their high physical strength, both of them considerably forceful in pushing through the mountain, they moved in almost straight line until they arrived at their destination, the dry riverbed . Because during the heavy rain of the rainy season had washed the soil away with a flash flood, the dry riverbed surface was mostly bedrock . On the cliffs that ran on both the riverbed’s side, there were places where various sized rocks had piled up as if it had been sweep to gather them up .  「Waa, what a beautiful place!」(Valetta) At the beautiful scenery that unfolded before her very eyes, Valetta’s eyes brightened as she raised words of admiration .  At the rocky ground that covered most of the riverbed, there was one deep river flowing from the mountain beyond this point between the rocky cliffs that stood at both sides . The sound of flowing water and the songs of birds and the murmurs of the trees that echoed from the forest, orchestrated an ambiance that was truly refreshing .  「Isn’t it? When I came to hunt in this mountain, I will make a campfire and pass the night in this place . There are many potholes around this place just the right sized where you could bath into, occasionally you can even catch a fish inside that pothole . This is my favorite place . 」(Lodurr) Valetta walked towards the direction Lodurr pointing at and there was a hole that was waist deep close to the river . The hole was about 3 meters in diameter and the river water slowly flowed into the hole . Perhaps because the water constantly being replaced, the water was so clear that she could see until the bottom of the hole . The rock surface of the hole was really smooth, so even if someone’s skin touching it when entering the hole, they wouldn’t get injured .  By the way, a pothole is a hole opened on the rock because of water current over a long period of time .  「It’s nice that the water is clear…… Ah, it’s quite cold . 」(Valetta) Valetta squatted down beside the hole and placed her hand in the water . The snow-melted water that came from the mountain felt cold to the touch, so it felt good on the hot skin from walking through the mountain . Due to the river source located near the summit, the water temperature was lower than the water at the river that flowed near Grisea village .  「So, I often saw the stones in the photographs around this area . Look, there . 」(Lodurr) Valetta lifted her face when Lodurr spoke up and followed his line of sight .  「Ah, you’re right . There are a red stone . 」(Valetta) Amongst the jumbled pile of rocks beside the cliff, there was a red discolored hematite, that could be considered as an iron ore, mixed in it . Valetta stood up and then dashed atop the rocks towards that rock piles .  While being careful not to slip, she dashed atop the rocky surface and arrived at the big rock piles . Valetta squatted down at that place, took out the book from her sack and then opened the bookmarked page . She compared the color of the ore in front of her with the color photograph in the book . From the surface appearance and the color, it appears that it was unmistakably hematite . [1] 「How is it? Is that stone the correct one?」(Lodurr) 「Yes, there is no doubt that this stone is iron ore . There are also a lot of it . 」(Valetta) Amongst the large amount of stones, not only hematite but magnetite[2] could also be seen mixed in it . Just by a glance, she could see that there was quite an amount, so if these stones were properly sorted then it is possible to obtain a large amount of iron ore .

 「Lodurr-san, is this river the same river that flowed near the village?」(Valetta) 「Yes, it’s the same river . Though midway it split into and merge with several other rivers . 」(Lodurr) At Lodurrs explanation, Valetta nodded happily . If this river and the river near the village was connected then it is possible to easily transport the ores obtained in this place to the village by using a raft .  Not only the timber material for the raft could easily be obtained from the surrounding mountain, after the raft descended the river and arrived at the village it could be used as firewood, so there would be no waste . Though the fault was that it took time to reach this place, since this place was located very deep in the mountain, there shouldn’t be any interference from other people . In addition, there was no need to do any mining for the present, so it was surely a perfect ideal location .  The charcoal used for iron smelting, could be obtained by establishing charcoal making hut either in this place or the village . Since there was a lot of wood that could be gathered from the village’s surrounding, there was no need to worry about the fuel . Charcoal making knowledge and methods to build iron smelting furnace was recorded in details in the technical book and regional history that Kazura had brought . Since they were fully borrowing the knowledge of the previous pioneer, there shouldn’t be any major failure when performing the operations .  「Do you also want to see the abandoned tunnel?」(Lodurr) 「Yes, since I have gone this far, let’s try to see it . I want to know where and how many ores it have . 」(Valetta) Valetta put the book into the bag before standing up and looking at the surrounding riverbed . Then, she happened to notice the red and black striped pattern on the surface of the cliff .  「What’s wrong?」(Lodurr) Seeing Valetta stopped moving when she saw the cliff’s surface, Lodurr tilted his head and asked her . Valetta hurriedly opened the bag and took out the book before flipping through the pages . Finally, she found the color photo she wanted and looked once more at the cliff that she saw before .  「…… Banded…… Iron Formation……」(Valetta) While muttering those words, she followed the cliff surface into the direction of the river upstream . The striped pattern that could be looked at the cliff surface, continued on and on without interruption .  Valetta turned to look at the other cliff and she also found the same striped pattern drawn at the surface .   「Eh…… . then, this whole……」(Valetta) Valetta muttered dumbfounded and looked at the photograph of the same pattern on the riverside cliff in the page . What Valetta had witnessed was the cross section of a geological stratum of iron ore veins that was called banded iron formation (BIF) . There is no mistake, this place had a large iron ore vein .  ✦✧✦✧✦ Afterward, Valetta and Lodurr once again climbing the mountain and arrived at the abandoned tunnel that Lodurr had discovered before . This tunnel was located at the upstream from the riverbed . It was dug in a place about 30 minutes following the river upstream and about 100 meters away from the river itself .  The tunnel entrance was covered with dense vegetation that the inside was dark and felt ominous . The entrance was reinforced with wooden support, however, it looks like it had been abandoned for quite a long time, that most of the support already tattered and rotting . It has an eerie circumstances that ghosts might even appear .  「This is the tunnel . Just like when I came before, as soon as we enter, there will be bat dung, so it’s better if we don’t go inside . 」(Lodurr) 「It’s so dark that anything couldn’t be seen . 」(Valetta) Valetta tried to look at the inside from the tunnel’s entrance, but the inside was so dark that she couldn’t see anything . She thought that she might find some ore vein inside the tunnel, but if she went too far then she might get injured, so for today, it might better to not enter and leave it for now .  「The discarded rocks don’t change at all . It’s quite an amount, though . 」(Lodurr) Valetta turned to look at the direction where Lodurr was looking and saw a large mound of rocks . The soil that had been carried by wind and water was plugging the gaps between the rocks, where grasses and ivies grow . It might need a bit work, but if the grass and ivy at the surface were cleared then it’s possible to retrieve the stones .  Valetta walked towards the rock mound and observed the rock that could be seen at the surface .  「Ah, it’s limonite[3] . But not much . 」(Valetta) Amongst the rocks there was a small amount darkish yellow iron ore called limonite . Since it was mixed up on the discarded rocks, then if she searched the tunnel she might found a vein .  Valetta once again returned to the tunnel entrance, she put her hand on the tunnel and tried to look at the walls inside . However, she couldn’t see any ore vein on the wall near the entrance, it was just a normal rock surface . She squatted down and then using a fallen twig nearby, she tried to clear the ground surface a bit . Then some dark brownish thing scattered when she moved the twig, it might be the bat dung .  「……Ah . 」(Valetta) 「When we return to the village, let’s make leather boots . It wasn’t that deep around the entrance, but if you go inside a bit then the dung will become greater . Spare me from entering the cave just by wearing these straw sandals . 」(Lodurr) Valetta looked fixatedly at the ground that she had brushed off, but she nodded at Lodurr’s words and quickly stood up . Since it wasn’t like she must search the tunnel right now, she could continue on another day .  From the gap of the ground that Valetta had brushed with the twig, there was a slightly white thing peeked out .  ☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽☾☽  


  [1] Fe2O3[2] Fe3O4[3] FeO(OH)·nH2O