When the rest of the merchants arrived, they all surrounded Roland and Andonara in a circle and made a "V" gesture while shouting, "Cheese!"
Then, they all laughed and dispersed in satisfaction, resuming their business.
The wagons were pulled to the meadow in a circle, and the players set up sheds and fires.
Very soon, a fire was started, and a huge pot was placed over it.
The first player who took a photo with Roland was pointing his fingers nonstop, as if he was uploading the photo to the forum.
Seeing how weird these people were, the six magic apprentices subconsciously gathered near Roland, and Andonara said, "Your compatriots seem rather odd."
"In fact, theyre very normal," Roland said. "Except that they may have slightly different habits and behaviors."
Speechlessly, Andonara watched what was going on before her.
After setting up a shed, the players soon sat down in a circle and took out simple musical instruments from their system Backpacks.
One of the players even took out a pair of hammers.
Some players spread a blanket over the meadow, and the rest of them piled fruits and meatloaf on it.
The guys with instruments started playing, and the players who sat down around the blanket began to sing loudly: "Dont give up your dream as long as you still have heart"
Their voices were as not exactly pleasant, but it was entertaining nonetheless.
The players who had fruits clapped their hands and echoed the lyrics now and then, making the camp very lively.
Normally speaking, traveling merchants would keep a low profile for fear that they might attract professional bandits, or that they would piss off other travelers who would turn into bandits and attack them.
In many cases, there was not a clear boundary between merchants and bandits in the wilderness.
But what were those Golden Sons doing?
They were singing loudly!
They were more like a team of cocky nobles on a trip than a group of merchants.
The first player who took a photo with Roland seemed to have uploaded it. He rubbed his hands and walked to Roland, then said, "Almighty Roland, I didnt expect to meet you and the beautiful queen here. How lucky I am!"
Roland was amused. "I dont have any evidence, but I suspect that youre being sarcastic."
"Thats a groundless accusation," the player said with wide eyes. "I respect you as the almighty Roland from the bottom of my heart"
Roland rubbed his eyebrow and said, "Are you doing this on purpose, bro?"
"Dont be angry. Im just kidding." The player continued, "I am Ashrosfin, the deputy chairman of Cornucopia, the guild of merchants!"
The player then looked at Andonara and said, "Your Majesty, greetings."
Andonara snorted but didnt say anything, because Ashrosfin just called her a "beautiful queen" in a frivolous tone that she didnt quite like, and in front of Roland, too.
She feared that Roland might have misunderstood her.
Ashrosfin was a businessman, and businessmen were good observers. He immediately said with a smile, "You and Roland are a perfect couple, Your Majesty, your children will definitely be both beautiful and smart."
Andonara was much more fond of Ashrosfin after hearing his adulating remark.
She had thought about it herself too. If she ever had a baby with Roland, the baby would definitely be both beautiful and smart regardless of its gender.
With that, she found Ashrosfin much more agreeable. "Im pleased to meet you."
Ashrosfin nodded at Andonara and spoke to Roland. "I read news and watch your videos on the forum all the time and Ive always admired them. Its not easy to meet you in person."
"Theres no need to admire me. I was just lucky enough to obtain some rare resources."
"Youre only being modest," Ashrosfin said in admiration. "Why did you get the rare resources when others couldnt? Only because youre capable. I do envy you."
At this point, the other players had finished their song. They roared at the players who were playing instruments, demanding the next song.
Roland glanced at them and moved his eyes back. Then he asked, "I remember that you used to do business by suicide. You carry the goods in the system Backpack and kill yourselves at specific locations, so that you can be instantly resurrected in a remote Temple of Life. Why are you shipping goods with wagons now?"
"That was the 1.0 version of business. Death means a great loss of experience points, which are essentially wealth too," Ashrosfin said with a smile. "Everybody has to make progress. Now, were merchants in the 2.0 version. The valuable goods are stored in our system Backpacks, and the goods that are in demand are in the wagons. Though were not strong as individuals, we are quite good as a team. Only a team of soldiers of over two hundred people can expect to loot us."
At this point, a player who had been busy with the pot tapped the pot with a spatula and shouted, "Time for dinner!"
Hearing that, the players who were listening or playing music dropped whatever was in their hands and swarmed to the pot. Then, everybody took out a big bowl from their system Backpacks and waited in line before the player who was in charge of distribution.
At this point, the fragrance of cooked noodles drifted over.
Ashrosfin said to Roland with a smile, "Lets have it together. Bring your friends."
Roland felt hungry the moment he smelled the noodles. He looked at Andonara and Vivian.
But Andonara, Vivian, and the others all shook their heads, because the players who had gotten their bowl of noodles had squatted in a line next to the road and started gobbling and slurping the noodles noisily.
Born as nobles, Andonara and the magic apprentices were rather unaccustomed to that.
Roland, however, did not have such concerns. He asked the distributor to give him a bowl of noodles. After thanking the man, he squatted at the end of the line and devoured the noodles.
The noodles were rather delicious, made with meat and vegetables from this world.
More importantly, the noodles were hot. Having hot food in the wilderness was really enjoyable.
Soon enough, Ashrosfin squatted next to him with a bowl of noodles and asked, "How does it taste?"
Ashrosfin smiled and said, "We made the noodles and the meat. Its a shame that people in this world are mostly too poor to have food in restaurants, or we couldve started a nice noodle restaurant."
"You can make business with the nobles, cant you?"
"No, someone tried it before." While eating, Ashrosfin said, "The nobles are truly generous, but their tempers are too bad, and they may propose outrageous requests. For example, they ask for our recipes, or a share of the profits of the restaurant. Weve suffered enough in reality. Why on earth would we suffer more in this game? So, weve decided not to serve those people. The bottom line is, its not easy to run a restaurant in this world."
"But nobody gives you a hard time when youre doing business?"
"Were selling the goods in demand. They all need us. Haha." Ashrosfin eyed Roland and remarked, "Thats a rather strange squatting-and-eating posture. Are you from Guanzhong?"
"Not exactly." Roland shook his head and said, "But I spent more years in Xiluo in college."
"Then you are a half-Guanzhong native." Looking at Andonara who was eating meatloaf gracefully under a tree far away, Ashrosfin nudged Roland and said, "You will pass Bianca City if you go this way with the queen. Are you not worried?"
"Worried about what?" Roland was rather stunned.
"Bianca City is the first princes territory. The brothers and sisters of Cornucopia are almost all over Hollevin." Ashrosfin drank his soup and wiped his mouth. "Therefore, we have collected a lot of information that may or may not be useful."
"Because of your native squatting-and-eating style, let me tell you something for free," Ashrosfin said. "About a month ago, the first prince had a party. He was drunk and made a statement."
Looking at Ashrosfin in the eyes, Roland said, "Would you like to enlighten me?"
"The first prince said, Queen Andonara is a bi*ch. Its a shame that she is in Delpon and too far away from me. If she ever comes to Bianca City, Ill definitely capture her and give her a good time. After Im tired of her, Ill return her to my father. "
Roland looked rather gloomy. "Is this first princes head full of s*it?"
"No. On the contrary, hes very smart."
 part of Shaanxi, China
 part of Shaanxi, China