When Zhang Tie left the logistics headquarters, he had received a new military officer’s certificate. One more star was on the epaulet of his military uniform, indicating that Second Lieutenant Zhang Tie had been officially promoted to First Lieutenant Zhang Tie. Additionally, he got two months' pay and provisions. Along with various subsidies for his battle wounds, he received as much as 71 gold coins. Plus his private booty from the battlefield, Zhang Tie's purse, which had shrunk when he left Blackhot City, slightly bulged again this time as he had more than 100 gold coins in total.
As an old Chinese saying went, "Real men should not have no power while average men should not have no money", Zhang Tie felt that he was born to be an average man as he didn't care about power at all. Who knows why that was so, maybe because he was used to being poor. But once alive and having some gold coins in his pockets, he would felt reassured.
Colonel Scharto assigned a major from the Personnel Affairs Department to drive Zhang Tie around the place where he would work so as to help him recognize the road.
The alleged "No. 9 Equipment Administration, Comprehensive Logistics Relief Branch of the Logistics Department of the Iron-Horn Army" was actually a maintenance plant in the logistics base in the east of Blapei City. As Blapei had no city wall, Zhang Tie didn't know whether this logistics base was in Blapei or outside it.
This plant was not desolate for Zhang Tie could see a wide area of cornfields surrounding it and a neighboring village. Strictly speaking, this plant seemed to be in the the suburbs. Close to this plant was a large-scale, airship landing field and several material warehouses.
There were many soldiers walking to-and-fro, as well as military vehicles, on the surrounding roads.
The major task of No. 9 Equipment Administration, Comprehensive Logistics Relief Branch of the Logistics Department of Iron-Horn Army was the maintenance of Logistics Department’s vehicles, so the plant occupied at least 10 mu . Half of it was made up of semi-closed sheds and garages temporarily built using steel frame and steel tiles.Many vehicles were parked inside them for maintenance.
Besides Zhang Tie, there were in total 136 people in the No. 9 Equipment Administration, Comprehensive Logistics Relief Branch of the Logistics Department of the Iron-Horn Army, most of whom were non-commissioned technical officers. Before Zhang Tie arrived here, the position of the director had already been vacant for more than five months, however, everything here was in normal operation, leaving no fault at all.
As the former director suffered from some health problems and had reached the age of retirement, he had retired before the Iron-Horn Army had attacked the Andaman Alliance.
After acquiring the relevant information, Zhang Tie understood that this position was especially provided for the aged. A first lieutenant would not be requested to repair vehicles. Additionally, no big problems would happen in this plant as it was related to repairs.
Colonel Scharto had really arranged a good position for Zhang Tie.
The major from the Personnel Affairs Department directly summoned all the 136 people in the maintenance shop to greet Zhang Tie. Among them, the one with the highest rank was second lieutenant, namely the vice director. Of course, he became Zhang Tie's assistant here. Hearing the major introducing Zhang Tie's current status, the second lieutenant looked a bit weird.
"First Lieutenant Zhang Tie was previously a military officer of the Iron-Blood Camp of No. 39 Division. Because of excellent military exploits, he has been awarded with the Iron-Blood medal only half a month after arriving to the Kalur battle zone!"
Noticing the weird expressions, the major only added one sentence that immediately made all the 136 people look solemn. Upon hearing that last sentence, many people were shocked and silently swallowed their saliva. At the same time, their eyes filled with respect.
Everybody in the Iron-Horn Army understood that there were only one kind of people in the Iron-Blood Camp who were awarded with the Iron-Blood medals—terrifying butchers who killed numerous enemies on the battlefield. However, this person had received an Iron-Blood medal only half a month after he came to the Kalur battle zone, which meant that this person had killed no less than the number of people standing right here in only half a month.
Thinking of this, many people started to feel a shocking, icy killing intent coming from this young first lieutenant who had a poor face. This killing intent was the qi as fierce as tigers and wolves which had been accumulated through killing numerous people. All the tough Iron-Blood fighters would reveal such a killing intent.
After introducing Zhang Tie to them, that major turned to Zhang Tie and asked him,"First Lieutenant Zhang Tie, what do you want to say to them?"
Zhang Tie glanced at that second lieutenant with a bulging abdomen whose eyes were still filled with awe.
"Since everything has run well before I came here, I hope it will continue do so from now on as well. You can do your own work now..."
Seeing them all leaving, that major smiled and talked to Zhang Tie. "First Lieutenant Zhang Tie, I can see it, Colonel Scharto appreciates you very much, that's why he arranged this position for you. Once you stay longer, you will find this position very interesting!"
The major's words were full of hints, which moved Zhang Tie a bit. However, it was not the right time to ask for the details now. He had to first find settlement.
Seeing that major driving away, the 30-odd second lieutenant officer with a bulging abdomen revealed a big smile towards Zhang Tie. At the sight of the luggage in Zhang Tie's hand, he hurriedly stretched out his hand, intending to take it for him.
At first glance, Zhang Tie recalled the booth owners in the railway station’s flea market in Blackhot City.
Noticing that the guy wanted to flatter him, Zhang Tie didn't refuse him, instead, he straight away threw his luggage into the man’s hand. Never be too polite to this kind of person; if this kind of person flattered you, you should be polite to him. Otherwise it’d be similar to a gentleman showing his courtesy to you and you spitting saliva in his face.
As expected, seeing Zhang Tie directly throwing his luggage to him, that person's smile became even more enthusiastic than before, and even the oily gleam on his drunkard's nose became brighter.
"Second lieutenant, what's your name?"
"Director, I'm Pi Ping!" After giving Zhang Tie a careful look, he added, "Would you want to take a round or go to the office to check the files and account books?"
"No need, I'm very satisfied with everything here. As I've just left the hospital today, I have no place to live. You find a vehicle and show me around to seek for a residence first!"
After staying in the hospital for such a long time, taken care of by people all the time, Zhang Tie couldn't wait to check the Castle of Black Iron.
Hearing Zhang Tie's order, Second Lieutenant Pi Ping became happier and hurriedly took Zhang Tie's luggage, walking away. "Wait a minute please, I will go get a car!"
As the whole Blapei had almost no military camps, all the available places and public facilities across the city had been occupied by the Iron-Horn Army for free. Except for No. 21 Division which occupied a military camp in Blapei and had some military officers allocated with a dorm, most of the other military officers of the Logistics Department had to rent a house by themselves. As Blapei was already the territory of the Norman Empire, of course, the soldiers of the Norman Empire could not disturb civilians and plunder their properties.
In less than half a minute, Second Lieutenant Pi Ping had already parked a Mountain Cat SUV before Zhang Tie. Opening the car's door, Zhang Tie sat down on the passenger seat. After that, Second Lieutenant Pi Ping drove out of the plant.
"Later, I will not usually come here; everything in No. 9 Equipment Administration runs like before. The major who just left here told me that the director position is very interesting. So you shall continue to deal with everything here for me. I don't want to make you lose your fun. Neither do I want to be treated as an idiot. The moment I saw you, I knew you were clear. Don't let me down!"
Sitting in the car, Zhang Tie put it straight to Second Lieutenant Pi Ping. After staying in the Iron-Blood Camp for a while, he had no mood to waste time on such trivial things. Only people who had experienced life or death situation understood that for a soldier, with the exception of life or death situations, everything else was bullsh*t.
Not having imagined that Zhang Tie would be that straightforward, Second Lieutenant Pi Ping's hand slightly quivered before recovering its composure. He even became a bit thrilled.
"Trust me, director, I won't let you down!"
"Director, what kind of residence do you want? I've stayed here for several months and have become very familiar with all the streets and alleys!" Second Lieutenant Pi Ping continued enthusiastically.
"As I'm not well, I need to stay tranquil during this period. Therefore, the place should not be too noisy..."
"Oh, I know a place that you may like..."
More than ten minutes later, Second Lieutenant Pi Ping brought Zhang Tie to a riverside in the north of Blapei, to a block with a relaxed atmosphere to it. That block's roads were paved with fine pebbles. On both sides of the roads stood many 3-4 story civilian houses and buildings. These houses and buildings were totally different from those in Blackhot City.
This place was truly much more tranquil than the downtown, and with a nice environment.
The moment Zhang Tie's car drove into the block and started to slow down, some 8-9 old kids started to chase after the SUV without any fear of strangers.
Because there had been no casualties in Blapei when it was occupied by the Iron-Horn Army and the good deeds of soldiers of the Norman Empire had won them good reputation, the civilians in Blapei didn't fear the figures in dark red military uniforms.
"Sir, you only need to give Rabby some copper coins, I will tell you everything you want to know!" A 8-9 old boy with freckles on his face ran close to Zhang Tie, chasing after the SUV while he introduced himself.
Zhang Tie told Pi Ping to park the car. Soon after the car was parked, Rabby also stopped running.
"I want to rent a house, do you know where can I get a proper one?" Zhang Tie asked the boy.
"Sir, I know everything here. Besides some beer hotels, there are more than 20 houses for rent in the neighboring blocks. Everyone would be very happy to rent their house to a generous military officer of the Norman Empire..."
Zhang Tie pulled out a silver coin and flicked it towards the boy. The boy called Rabby had a nice catch.
"Get in the car!"
Zhang Tie glanced at the back seat. The boy called Rabby then jubilantly jumped inside under the admiration filled eyes of his pals.
As Zhang Tie thought that beer hotels would be filled with people from all walks of life, he finally chose a rather tranquil house whose owners were also of a simple family background.
It was a four-story house. The owners were an old couple of more than 60 years old. They had no offspring and lived on the first floor. The second one was rented out to a couple with a 4-5 old son. It was said that on the third floor lived a woman, and the fourth one was vacant, therefore, Zhang Tie lived in the fourth floor.
The rooms on there were well cleaned by the owners. Everything was well matched: two bedrooms, one parlor, one kitchen, and a washroom. As the house was made of bricks and stones, there was also a fireplace in the parlor where you could light a fire on cold days.
The rent for the fourth floor was 16 silver coins per month, not including the water rate. Second Lieutenant Pi Ping strove to spend two gold coins for Zhang Tie at once for one year's rent and the water rate. After Zhang Tie decided to live in here, the vice-president drove the car and bought many daily-use goods for him. He was as solicitous as an order.
The entire afternoon after he left the hospital, Zhang Tie was always busy: reporting for duty, arranging work for his subordinates, and renting a house. When it was the time for supper, he ate a roasted beefsteak with Second Lieutenant Pi Ping in a hotel nearby. When Zhang Tie came back to the house he had rented, it was already dark.
A melodious sound of violin drifted from the owners' room. There was no way to know who was playing it. A kid's cries drifted from the second floor while the tenant on the third floor was not there.
Going back to his residence on the fourth floor, Zhang Tie didn't lit up the lamps. After locking the door and pulling the curtains down, he sat down on the sofa besides the fireplace alone in the parlor.
It had been a very long time since Zhang Tie had felt this tired. He was very weak, to the point where he would even gasp when he climbed on to the fourth floor. When he finally reached it, Zhang Tie already felt a bit tired. His physical situation was even worse than he had imagined. Even worse than a commoner's. He was not even able to resist the wind, the idiom of not being able to bind a chicken being very proper to describe him.
As he had not entered the Castle of Black Iron for more than one month, even if he was able to enter it right now, Zhang Tie became slightly hesitant and afraid. He was a bit contradictory inside. For him at this moment, the small tree in the Castle of Black Iron carried all of his hopes.
Zhang Tie knew that it was very hilarious to count on the hope for solution on that small tree whenever he met a problem. It was almost visionary and foolish to solve problems that way. Because it was karma on what fruit the small tree would bear. It would never bear a fruit according to his own demand for no reason.
Zhang Tie only hoped that the small tree could give him a chance to recover.
After sitting in the pitch-dark house for a long time, Zhang Tie finally gritted his teeth. 'I've already died one time, nothing is more terrifying than death.'
After locking on that marvelous arch door in his mind, with a slight shake, Zhang Tie disappeared from the dark parlor.
——Handsome and Magnificent Castle Lord, welcome to the Castle of Black Iron!