Chapter 113

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Chapter 113: Did the Air Balloon Succeed or Fail?

In the Northern Hebei, within a grand courtyard belonging to the Prince.

This courtyard was extremely luxurious, serving as a place where the Prince of Northern Hebei received martial arts heroes, as well as a place for researching and manufacturing the celestial artifact known as the “Air Balloon.”

Ever since obtaining Lin Beifan’s method of manufacturing the balloon, the Prince of Northern Hebei had gathered numerous skilled craftsmen and invested significant manpower and resources into developing the balloon.

After half a month had passed, finally, good news arrived.

The military advisor Zhuge came to congratulate and said, “Congratulations, Your Highness! Congratulations, Your Highness! Our first heavenly artifact, the Air Balloon, has been successfully manufactured. We will soon be able to conduct a flight experiment! Your Highness, you are one step closer to achieving your grand ambition!”

“Ascending to the heavens, attaining immortality, it’s within reach!”

“Excellent! Truly excellent!” The Prince of Northern Hebei was overjoyed.

The successful development of the Air Balloon not only meant a step closer to the throne but also…

Attaining immortality!

Achieving eternal life!

For any king, this was an irresistible temptation!

Thus, the Prince of Northern Hebei couldn’t wait and said, “The court has already produced 20 Air Balloons. Time waits for no one! We will conduct a test flight tomorrow. What do you think?”

“Yes, Your Highness! I will inform everyone about this matter!”

The next day, the Prince, along with his trusted followers, arrived early at the courtyard.

The martial arts heroes who had joined the Prince also gathered here, witnessing this rare and extraordinary flight experiment.

The Prince stood beneath the balloon, which was being filled with hot air, and exclaimed, “This is the Air Balloon! It’s truly astonishing that such a peculiar-looking object can actually take flight!”

A martial arts hero smiled and said, “Your Highness, if it weren’t for the confidential information, I wouldn’t believe that this thing can actually take flight! It can only be said that Lin Beifan is truly talented. He deserves to be the literary star from heaven, coming down to earth. He has actually invented this artifact!”

Upon hearing this, the Prince nodded with a smile on his face, displaying a sense of pride.

Now, Lin Beifan, the top scholar, could be considered one of his men.

When others praised Lin Beifan, it felt as if they were praising himself.

“However, Your Highness, I still have some concerns. Can this thing really take flight?” The Prince expressed his uneasiness.

When it came to things he had not witnessed with his own eyes, he always felt uncertain.

Zhuge, the advisor, smiled and reassured him, saying, “Your Highness, rest assured! This celestial artifact is identical to the one produced by the court! And it was the same person who provided the manufacturing method. So, there is absolutely no problem with its ability to fly!”

The Prince was very pleased and declared, “Good! If this test flight is successful, everyone will be handsomely rewarded!”

“Thank you, Your Highness!” Everyone present smiled.

As the balloon filled with hot air, it gradually expanded into a huge sphere, as tall as three or four stories. Even when standing outside the courtyard, it was clearly visible and attracted the attention of many people.

However, the Prince made no effort to conceal it.

Now, all the major princes and countries were developing balloons.

Even if the court found out, what could they do to him?

He was not as guilty as everyone else; he could only acknowledge it reluctantly!

Thinking this way, he admired Lin Beifan, who was far away in the capital, even more.

With a small plan, he helped him solve future troubles!

Truly a great talent!

The Prince stood beneath the balloon, watching it expand, and his ambition swelled along with it.

“This time… we must succeed in flying to the heavens!”

At that moment, a soldier reported, “Your Highness, the balloon is fully inflated. We can proceed with the first test flight!”

Everyone’s eyes became filled with excitement.

“Your Highness, let me be the first to take flight!”

“Your Highness, please assign this task to me!”

“Your Highness…”

Watching the martial arts heroes eager to take the lead and the generals and soldiers eager to try, the Prince laughed heartily, “Heroes, there’s no need to compete. Everyone will have their turn! Young hero Liu, how about letting young hero Liu be the first?”

Liu, whose full name was Liu Zhenyun, was a young hero who had recently joined the Prince of Northern Hebei’s faction.

At less than 20 years old, he was full of youthful vigor and impulsive passion, eager to accomplish great things alongside the Prince.

This move was just right for winning the other party’s favor.

As expected, when Liu Zhenyun heard the Prince entrusting him with this precious opportunity, he was overjoyed and said, “Thank you, Your Highness! I will definitely live up to your expectations!”

He then eagerly jumped into the basket and waited for the balloon to ascend.

Seeing this, others were no longer interested in competing, as they knew there would be opportunities in the future.

At this point, the balloon had slowly begun to rise, hovering about a meter above the ground.

Everyone was filled with excitement.

“It’s taking off!”

“It really took off!”

“It’s going to fly to the heavens!”

The Prince of Northern Hebei was delighted and said, “It really took off! Truly the Air Balloon!”

As they spoke, the balloon had already risen three to four meters above the ground.

Everyone was even more thrilled.

“It’s already three to four meters high, taller than a building wall!”

“Fly even higher!”

“Fly up to the sky!”

Amidst everyone’s anticipation, the balloon continued to rise slowly.

Unbeknownst to them, it had already reached a height of over 30 meters above the ground.

Adding to its original height, it had reached a maximum height of 50 meters, visible to almost everyone in the city.

Everyone was ecstatic and dancing with joy.

From below, the Prince shouted, “Young hero Lin, how is everything going?”

Lin Zhenyun, standing in the basket, was extremely excited and replied, “Everything is going well, Your Highness. Please rest assured!”

“Good!” the Prince laughed heartily.

“Congratulations, Your Highness! Congratulations!” Zhuge Liang exclaimed, bowing and saying loudly, “This experimental flight can be considered a success! With this flying artifact, what can hinder our great cause?”

“Congratulations, Your Highness! Congratulations!” everyone chimed in unison.

“Hahahaha…” the Prince laughed heartily, realizing for the first time how close he was to his dream.

But just then, a “puff” sound was heard.

The balloon unexpectedly stopped ascending and began descending slowly.

The king was bewildered, asking, “What’s happening?”

Everyone turned to look at the chief craftsman in charge of developing the balloon.

Wiping the sweat off his face, the old craftsman hesitantly said, “Your Highness, it seems that the gas envelope of the balloon has ruptured.”

The Prince pressed on, “What will happen if it ruptures?”

“According to the manufacturing method, the balloon relies on the hot air inside to ascend. If it ruptures, the air will leak, and the hot air inside the balloon will escape. Without the hot air, the balloon cannot fly.”

As they spoke, the flying balloon slowly descended before the astonished gazes of everyone.

Taking another look, they discovered a hole in the balloon through which the hot air was escaping.

“Please forgive us, Your Highness!” The craftsmen immediately knelt down, trembling.

The Prince’s expression darkened.

The first flight experiment turned out like this!

Moreover, it happened in front of everyone, causing embarrassment.

Advisor Zhuge quickly spoke up, “Your Highness, this first flight experiment can already be considered a success! The air leakage might be due to the craftsmen’s lack of experience in their first attempt! Give them more opportunities, and they will surely create a flying artifact, the balloon, that will satisfy you and conquer the vast lands!”

The Prince’s expression eased slightly, as he still relied on this group of craftsmen to help him build the balloon.

If he were to punish them, it would undermine their motivation.

With this in mind, the Prince revealed a gentle smile and said, “The advisor is right. This flying artifact, the balloon, can already be considered a successful development. It just encountered a minor issue in the process. Craftsmen, please rise quickly. The ground is too cold!”

“Thank you, Your Highness!” The craftsmen were both surprised and relieved, expressing their heartfelt gratitude.

Other martial arts heroes seemed to witness this scene and nodded one after another.

This was the broad-hearted and virtuous prince they had in mind!

This was the enlightened ruler they swore to follow to the death!

“Next, I will continue to trouble all the craftsmen!” The Prince smiled kindly and said, “Please strive to produce a large number of flying artifact balloons as soon as possible! Once the task is completed, I will reward generously and bestow higher ranks. It won’t be a problem!”

“Yes, Your Highness!” The craftsmen’s faces were filled with ecstatic joy.

At this time, in the Southern Jiang.

Another balloon slowly ascended but fell down before reaching a height of forty to fifty meters.

A group of astonished people stood below.

Among them, a person standing in the middle appeared somewhat dignified and overweight.

This person was the Prince of Southern Jiang. He gazed at the falling balloon in front of him, his eyes vacant. “Is this flying artifact considered a success or a failure? Can anyone tell me?”

Wang Fugui, who had done business with Lin Beifan, bravely spoke up, “Your Highness, naturally, it can be considered a success!”

The Prince of Southern Jiang turned his head and asked, “Why do you say that?”

“Your Highness, it has already flown dozens of meter in the sky. Isn’t that a success? If we look back in the past, was there any other divine object that could carry people more than dozens of meter into the sky? There was none!” Wang Fugui said, bowing respectfully.

“Very well, you make a valid point!” The Prince of Southern Jiang’s expression brightened.

“According to the manufacturing method, the gas envelope of the balloon has strict requirements, and there should be no room for error! It’s possible that our craftsmen lacked experience in developing balloons for the first time, leading to some problems. If we try more times, there shouldn’t be any issues!” Wang Fugui continued reporting.

“You make a valid point. Let’s continue to manufacture balloons! Let’s make 50 of them… no, 100!” The Prince of Southern Jiang declared emphatically.

Wang Fugui was startled, “Your Highness, isn’t it too many? It will require a lot of money!”

Prince of Southern Jiang shook his head, “Not at all! The court has already developed 20, and I don’t have a single one. How can I contend with the court? In a while, they might have forty or fifty! Therefore, we must seize the time and quickly manufacture a hundred air balloons to surpass the court!”

“As for money…” Prince of Southern Jiang proudly said, “Am I a person who lacks money? I’m only left with money! Immediately gather a large number of skilled craftsmen to manufacture a hundred air balloons!”

“Yes, Your Highness!”

At this time, other vassal kings and nations also conducted their first flight experiments with air balloons. However, without exception, all of them failed to fly beyond 50 meters and fell back down.

Yet they all considered themselves successful, believing it was just a minor mistake. After all, it was their first production attempt, which could be understood. Consequently, they all intensified their efforts to produce air balloons, not wanting to fall behind.

This situation quickly reached the palace.

The Empress smiled triumphantly, “As Lin Beifan predicted, the air balloons they developed have significant problems. They can’t even fly 20 zhang! What threat can a balloon that doesn’t reach 20 zhang pose?”

A balloon that can’t reach 20 zhang is simply a conspicuous lantern, easily shot down with a single arrow. It can’t pose any threat without reaching a height of 70-80 zhang.

(TLN: 1 zhang= 3.3 meter)

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