the-greatest-estate-designer (NOVEL) - chapter 3
The rumor had spread. It spread very quickly. There wasn’t a place where people lived without gossiping. However, considering that, it still spread stronger and faster than usual. It was because the content of the rumor was so unique.
“Young master Lloyd is finally going crazy.”
“I heard he’s been shoveling.”
“What do you mean shovelling?”
“Literally. He’s shoveling at the backyard of the tavern. Digging up soil and packing it.”
“I don’t know either. Have you heard that he threatened the tavern owner?”
“What do you mean threatened?”
“I bet he robbed the land in the backyard. Let’s just wait and see.”
“Haha, that’s kind of….”
Someone lamented over the table. Another whisper could be heard from people in the vicinity.
“Did you hear? I think young master Lloyd is going to commit suicide.”
That’s what they say. People said they were digging the ground yesterday and today they’re doing it again.”
“What do you mean, digging?”
“He keeps on muttering to himself, something about laying flat stones on the ground.”
“You don’t think that’s….”
“If it’s not a grave to bury a coffin, then what is it?”
Different and various speculations based on hearsays run rampant. It was said that the drunkard young master, the Baron’s son, was brewing his own alcohol and storing it under the ground. There was even the rumor that he was digging a tunnel to avoid his father’s surveillance or that he had opened his eyes to a new preference.
A crowd of onlookers gathered because of the rumors. Amidst all that, the ondol gradually took shape.
‘People, all of you are splendid at gossiping.’
Lloyd wiped the sweat off his forehead. Mud was smeared on his face. But, he didn’t care.
He looked around. A small ondol room with an area of 3,6 meters in length and width. Within a few days, the foundation and the walls had been built.
‘It was hard.’
Making an ondol room was not easy. In fact, it was even harder than expected. First of all, it was because there were no advanced modern tools used to work in the field like in Korea.
‘Because I don’t have any electricity-powered tools.’
Everything had to be done by hand. He established the foundation by utilizing his past experiences working in the military and part-time jobs. The process took two full days. Full-body muscle pain was a bonus. He processed the wood obtained from the administrator. It was used to make a traditional wooden frame. He even built a gable roof to the frame. Reinforced wood was woven between the pillars. Then, he applied the sticky clay and straw mixture. The walls were completed just now after working for three days straight.
“Did you call me?”
“Are you tired?”
“I’m just getting used to it.”
ven in this situation, Javier was out of breath. No matter how well-built your physiques are, this is different. He must’ve wasted a lot of energy because he used the muscles he doesn’t normally use. And yet, he was still being so calm?
‘It means his remaining amount of power is different from mine in the first place.’
He was amazed by the future master swordsman’s level of stamina. As expected, he’s reliable. Especially when he did it for free like this. Lloyd said he lucked out with a small, soft voice.
“Then, do what I tell you to do.”
“Are there any more?”
“Because we haven’t finished building the ondol room yet.”
“But, Lloyd-nim only asked me for a little help.”
“Yes, you did.”
Javier cut him off with his characteristic cold way of speaking.
“Lloyd-nim first asked me to help shovel. You said that was all I had to do. However, you kept on changing your words afterward. When I finished digging the soil, you asked me to help you cut the wood. And then later you asked me for help while saying that it was tough to compact the clay straw mixture.”
“Hmm, so you hate it?”
“Because you’re a knight?”
Javier didn’t answer. But, Lloyd knew his silence meant he was right.
Maybe he was right. Handling shovels and saws instead of swords, with dirt all over his body. Everybody would think that it was inappropriate for the knight’s honor. But, Lloyd saw a gap in that perspective.
“By the way, aren’t knights supposed to help the weak?”
“You think so too.”
“Of course, it’s….”
“Right? So this is a knight’s job too. This is a chivalrous activity because it helps the weak. Does that make sense? Even at this moment when we’re like this, the tavern owner’s mother must be shivering because of the cold, right?”
Ah, if only we could finish this one day earlier, happy laughter would bloom at the mother’s lips….”
“What else can I do?”
Javier sighed deeply. Lloyd smiled wickedly.
“Let’s do some axing.”
He pointed outside the ondol room.
“Did you see those logs in the corner of the tavern’s backyard?”
“I saw it.”
“Yes, well done. Those are red pine trees. Cut that with an axe and make some panels for the roof.”
“What is a panel?”
“It looks like this.”
Scarth scarth. Lloyd roughly drew a picture on the dirt floor.
“One-span width, two-span length, and one finger thick. If you think of it as a longer version of an aiPad tablet….
Oh you don’t know what a tablet is, do you? You can think of it as a plate but instead, cut the size evenly. Do you understand?”
“Wouldn’t it be better to use a saw rather than an axe?”
“Yes, but no. The axe is better.”
Of course, it’s more convenient to cut it with a saw. It’s easier to adjust the size to a specific size. However, abrasion will occur severely in the cutting process. The tree’s texture is ruined as a result. When water seeps into the broken texture, it’ll rot away in no time.
“If you don’t want to have to change the roof after less than a year, do it with an axe.”
“….. Alright. But.”
Come to think of it, Javier was looking at me with a slightly strange look.
“Where did Lloyd-nim learn things like this?”
“Like this? Building a building?”
His stare was still cold. But, there was a faint glimpse of emotion hidden in that coldness. It was intense curiosity. Lloyd answered frankly without hiding anything.
“I learned it at Korea University.”
“I’m serious. I’m not lying.”
“But I’ve never heard of such an academy.”
“Ah, of course. You’ve never heard of me going to an academy somewhere, have you?”
“Then just keep wondering. Come on, let’s go. We have a lot of work to do, so let’s move on.”
Lloyd waved his hands. He sent Javier outside.
Cutting red pine trees and making panels for the roof with an ax, it was something that Javier could do better than himself. It was because of the difference in talent. Whether it was a person or a tree, Javier had the best talent in cutting a target into two with a bladed object.
‘Because he’s already a High-Level Sword Expert.’
It was from the beginning of the novel ‘Iron-Blooded Knight’. In fact, nobody in the territory knew. Even the baron, baroness, and Javier himself didn’t know. However, at this point, he already had a marvelous amount of power.
High-Level Sword Expert. It was just a rank below the Sword Master, the topmost rank. In a small country, there were only three to four of them. They were literally just like knight commanders in a small and medium-sized kingdom.
‘I’m only 20 years old now.’
It wasn’t until Javier left this territory that he realized his tremendous talent. It was a future that was yet to come.
‘Anyway, let’s move.’
I took a good rest. Lloyd began the next phase of his work. It was the alpha and the omega of the ondol room. The gleam, salt, and red bean paste of a sweet red bean bread. The graphic card of a high-end gaming computer. It was the floor of the ondol construction.
‘It’s really important from now on.’
No matter how good-looking the building is, if the ondol doesn’t work properly, it would be a disaster. Knowing this fact very well, Lloyd exerted his utmost concentration.
‘It’ll be from here to here as designed.’
When he was in the military, the regimental commander was suddenly stuck on a clay sauna. Then he was transferred to the regiment’s headquarters as a representative to build a red clay sauna room. What was the result? The happiness index of the regiment’s wife had risen dramatically. He even was rewarded a vacation thanks to the grace of the regimental commander, who was very satisfied.
Lloyd made use of his experiences and memories from that time. He dug the floor to build a passageway where the heat and smoke from the furnace will flow inside.
‘So the heat can circulate around the longest path and pass through the floor.’
He carved his way around the passage. Meanwhile, he didn’t forget to carefully adjust the height of the passageway.
‘This is how the heat stays as long as possible without escaping all at once.’
First, when the fire is lit in the fireplace, the heat and hot smoke will pass through the passageway under the room. Because of the arrangement of the flat stones, the heat that comes will stagnate. The clay will spread the stagnant heat effectively to the flooring. Then, the heat will be caught one last time before escaping. Finally, the chimney stones will prevent rainwater and cold air from coming inside the passageways. (tl/n: I might made some mistakes while translating this part. I’m not very sure.)
Be even more careful. Reduce errors as much as possible. Dig and check it. Check and refine it again.
After that, the passageway’s walls were coated with red clay. I dried the red clay sufficiently and then placed flat stones meticulously on the passageway.
‘Thick stones on the lower end near the furnace and thin stones on the opposite upper end.’
It was laid out carefully. The upper part was too far from the furnace so it would be heated more slowly and less warm. Therefore, if the thickness of the stones were different, it was possible for the floor to be warmed evenly.
‘Now, it’s your turn.’
The crevices between the flat stones were filled. The surface was then covered with clay dough. Dry mud was laid on top of it and was compacted again. It was applied as a plaster to flatten the floor and then dried thoroughly. After that, the surface was scraped and finished with the thinnest layer possible.
It took him three full days to get to this point. The core of the ondol construction was completed but he had to postpone the opportunity to test it.
“Excuse me, Master Lloyd?”
When I was happy seeing the newly-made ondol floor, a servant came inside.
“The Lord is looking for you.”
The Lord, Baron Arcos Frontera. It was his father’s call.
He had to go right now, so Lloyd left the unfinished ondol room. The gossips and chatterings of the spectators, who had gathered in groups of twos and threes, stopped at once. Lloyd passed through the awkward silence and headed for the baron’s mansion.
“I heard there’s been a strange rumor going around these days.”
Clang. The fork moved. The iron fork picked up a crude homemade sausage. However, the Baron’s hands stopped there. He didn’t bring the fork to his mouth. I casted my eyes to the opposite side of the table.
“You’re doing something in the tavern backyard, aren’t you?”
That gaze wasn’t warm. To put it bluntly, it was icy. Rather than looking at a son, he looked as if he was looking at a troublesome problem. That look in the Baron’s eyes made Lloyd feel bitter again. ‘This body has its drawbacks.’
The owner of this body that he owned now, Lloyd Frontera, was a typical scumbag. Gambling away and doing vandalism from binge drinking and drunkenness. In addition to the unfathomable truth, he had such splendid history and karma. Maybe that was why he always had to face the prejudice from people around him. In other words, no matter what he did, people would look at him with a crooked look.
What is that rascal doing this time? What kind of accident is he trying to cause? Has he lost his mind? Or is it his time to die? Please don’t cause any inconvenience to the people around you…
and so on. It was the same even now.
“Let’s hear it. What are you up to this time?”
The Baron’s voice was as cold as his gaze. As soon as I heard it, I realized. That wasn’t a question. It was a reproach. Lloyd shrugged.
“If you’ve heard the rumor, you’d know. I’m making the ondol that the tavern owner ordered.”
“Are you trying to fool your father with empty words just like how you fooled the tavern’s owner?”
“I can’t help it if you think so.”
Lloyd glossed over roughly. At this point, will you believe what I say? On the contrary, it seemed better if he would just buy useless misunderstandings. Because, it was hard to persuade the Baron in front of me. It was awkward.
‘If I talk too long for no reason, I could get caught.’
Somehow parents can recognize their children. I am not Lloyd Frontera. I am Kim Suho, who took over this body. I was worried that I would be suspected without any reason. So, I chose to avoid a deep conversation.
“If you have nothing to say, I’ll finish my meal now.”
Just like the damned Lloyd did, I spoke out and focused on my meal. Before he could start talking about anything else, I thought I should just fill my stomach with the food in front of me and get up quickly. But then, the Baron’s question reached my ear.
“Is it because of the family’s situation?”
“If you have eyes and ears, you’re bound to know what’s happening these days. Did you do this on purpose because you were upset about it?”
Did he refer to the seizure because of the swindler? As expected, the prediction was correct. “But it’s all right. It’s just a passing windfall. It’s no big deal. Who am I? I am Arcos Frontera of the family who has protected this territory for five generations. This father can overcome this kind of hardship in no time, so don’t let it get into you too much.”
“This father will give you strength, so don’t let it shake you either.”
I’ve heard things like that before. Suddenly Lloyd raised his head. He looked at the Baron. The baron was a handsome middle-eastern man. But, his face looked somehow exhausted. I could see my father’s face that I had seen that day overlapped with his face.
‘It’s the same as it was then.’
It was my last vacation from the army. At that time, my father, who was suffering from investment fraud, had that same look on his face. He suddenly grabbed my hand tightly. Don’t worry. It’s okay. It’s not a big deal. Just mind your studies. He smiled and pleaded me to do so. I really didn’t know back then, I thought he was really okay.
A year after that, I didn’t know that my parents, who couldn’t get out from an enormous debt, would make an extreme choice. The Baron in front of him now had the same expression as my father at that time.
He was not okay. He was trying to pretend he was okay in front of his child.
Thud. Lloyd put his fork down, The thought of focusing only on eating had long since vanished. He also gave up his commitment to distance himself from the Baron for a while. And he unwittingly opened his mouth.
“Don’t give up. I’ll do my best too.”
If I could go back to that time a few years ago, it was something I wanted to say to my father. Then, I rose up quietly from my seat. The baron looked at me with strange eyes. With a look of determination that was different from the coldness before. The gaze felt burdensome so I hurried off. Fortunately, the Baron didn’t hold onto me.
The construction continued. The ondol in the backyard of the pub quickly took shape. The gazes from the onlookers were pouring in. Amidst the misunderstandings, murmuring, and rumors, I charred the panels. It was to get a thin film of carbon coating on the wood to prevent deterioration. I wasn’t used to it at first, so I messed up a few. Some were so burnt that it split, and some recoiled. However after several attempts, I got the hang of it. The key was to burn only up to 3 millimeters deep from the surface of the red pine panel.
The panels had become durable and lighter. Water didn’t soak in easily. I think this would last at least for 10 years. We weaved the roof with these panels.
The straw was rolled skillfully, covered up with red clay, and then dried well for the flooring. I applied a slightly thicker sheet of laminated paper lacquered with oil, coated it with stiff glue, and pasted it above.
On top of that, soybean oil was applied to the panels and then finished with pine resin to complete the waterproofing process.
It was the completion of the ondol room. I lit a fire as a test for the ondol and touched the floor.
‘This is enough.’