Chen plans to build a Great Wall in Border Town to hold off the demonic beasts from the Evil Months. He appoints Karl as the head construction manager and chief of the Administrative Office / employee office.
Carter says: “Even if we had three years it would not be enough! Building a wall would require many workers, for setting the foundation they have to compress the earth and every one or two feet would have to be reinforced; otherwise it would have a high risk to collapse. This would be the simplest of the earthen walls. Brick and stone walls are even more difficult to build and it would need hundreds of masons who would first have to cut the stones or bake the clay into bricks. Afterwards they would need to build it block by block. Your highness, all walls were built this way, without exception. A city being built in the time of a day and a night, that is only the stuff of legends.”
But Chen remains undaunted. Previously he had checked the edges of the Border town: the northern slope of the mountain and the Chishui River were only separated by 600 yards at their closest point, it was a natural bottleneck. And due to the all year round mining in the North Mine, it was surrounded by rock gravel mined from the cave.
These gravel cast offs were ash gray, containing plenty of calcium carbonates, which could be used as limestone after grinding. With the limestone he had his solution, it would be equal to cement.
Yes, this would change the history of mankind, to be able to build with a water hardening material, with raw materials which were easily to obtain, which were simple to prepare, it truly numbered among one of the most efficient tools for tilling the fields.
Roland estimated the needed time, even if he would implement new technology, even with cement he wasn’t sure if it was possible, the amount of cement they actually needed was too big, he wasn’t sure if they could calcine so much cement powder within three months. And concrete toughness would be inferior, in the end they would need to reinforce it with steel, thus the probability to succeed in building a concrete city wall was not that great.
They had to maximize the usage of the existing materials and save cement, so building a fieldstone wall would be the most appropriate choice.
The so-called fieldstone, was a stone which had not undergone any grinding, it was just a natural byproduct of mining. This stone, because of the irregular shape of the edges and corners, there was no way to directly using it to build, instead it first need to be processed by the stonemason into usable bricks. But building a fieldstone wall while using cement as binder was possible, regardless of how oddly shaped the stone was it could be used, the gap between the stones was filled by the cement, saving cement and using leftover materials.
With this the big direction was set, but the actual implementation, he was afraid he would have to do it by himself, thought Roland. Regardless of whether it was the calcined cement or fieldstone wall, both were new things. Except for himself, no one had seen these things, and also no one knew how to make them. He was afraid he would be very busy for the next three months.
Soon the cement production got on the right track, in order to permit Anna a sufficient amount of rest, the kiln was only used two to three times a day. To obtain the most out of each calcining process, they had to get more raw materials. For this, Roland once again issued orders to recruit more workers, until their current numbers were doubled.
But he also knew that he could not rely on only Anna to do the firing. People who were working long-term in a dusty environment, would eventually become sick; furthermore, once future production scale increased, Anna alone would not be enough to satisfy the demand.
The witches should not be used as consumables. Instead, they should serve as an engine to promote the development of civilization.
Digging out the foundation for laying the City wall had already started in order to connect the northern slope with the Chishui River To increase the production speed, he personally took charge of the overall project. He dug out the first shovel of earth with his own hands in front of the shocked masses of surrounding onlookers.
Although Cheng Yan had a strong theoretical background in engineering, building the real deal was always more daunting.
It took an entire week to dig out barely half of the foundation they needed. This dug out foundation which was hard to dig, came out as shallow groove, rather than the foundation of the wall. It more suited to be called a drainage ditch. Despite Roland’s descriptions, the width they dug out was more or less individualized. Thus, the width got clearly out of shape, becoming more and more narrow. While standing at a distance, the foundation practically resembled a curving and twisting snake.
After more than two weeks of construction, about 100 meters of the city wall had been built. In the absence of the theodolite distance measurement, Karl asked the craftsmen to use a piece of wood at the same time every day, according to the shadow of the sun, to determine the distance and flatness. At a distance of every ten wood markers, a viewing tower was set up to play a role in stabilizing the city wall.
Such large-scale employment naturally caught the attention of the town's nobility. However, other than getting some information from Barov, they made no further movement, as if the situation had nothing to do with them. Roland did not mind this. These people's family businesses were in Longsong Stronghold and would certainly not stay here to help him guard Border Town. Not just the nobility, but businessmen were the same. In previous years in Border Town, once animal fur traders realised nothing could be purchased, they also returned to Stronghold.
It should be at least fifteen feet high, six feet wide, allowing four men to advance side by side.
“So it would require us to dig a trench one man deep to stabilize the upper part of the wall, in addition, for a six foot wide top of a fifteen foot high wall, the width at the base needs to be at least doubled.” Karl replied quickly, “Thus just digging the trench will consume a lot of manpower. Your Highness, if you give me a hundred and fifty people, I should be able to dig this trench in the months prior to the demons’ arrival .”
“A trench cannot stop the evil beasts,” Roland answered noncommittally.
“That’s true, but if we build the upper section of the city wall with stone masonry, it would take three years. In order to only stop the evil beasts, you needn’t build the wall so high, approximately 12 feet high should be enough. The width can also be reduced by a third, resulting in a six-foot wide foundation. With the simultaneous digging of the trenches and building of the wall, as well as an increase of the workers to two hundred… That way, I could finish it by January next year, before the arrival of the demons.“
Karl paused, then said, “Please forgive me, Your Highness, this really isn’t a good time to start. In case the construction of the wall is not on time, even if the trenches were dug well, they will lose their original form after the soaking rain and snow throughout the winter. When you return, instead of finishing it, you would need to spend more time and manpower just to clean up the softening trench, excavating and deepening it one more time. “
“Say, in case we only build the wall twelve feet high and four feet wide, how long would you need to dig the trenches?”
“It should be finished within one and a half months,” Karl replied.
“Then do it according to this plan, trenching and masonry at the same time, so that we succeed a month prior to the arrival of the demonic beasts.” Roland waved his hand, interrupting Karl, “I know what concerns you, but take a look at this, this is the latest work from the Graycastle alchemical workshop.”
Naturally, he had no time to allow the stonemason to see the gluing process. Instead, he showed him two bricks, glued together from before. Fortunately, when the prince spoke, almost no one dared to question him. When Karl heard that this alchemical adhesive cement can turn from a liquid into a solid form overnight, furthermore, it came with a sky-high adhesion effect, his face exposed his incredible shock. As a stonemason who had dedicated half a lifetime into his work, he could naturally recognize how great this invention was. Apart from stone binding, the most important fact was that it was possible to freely shape its figure! Wouldn’t that be equivalent to no longer needing a second cutting and polishing process, being suitable for any loosely shaped stone? The time-consuming processing stage could be abandoned, and the construction rate of any building would be raised to a whole new level. This alone was exciting enough!