The carriage stopped a stone's throw away from Ren Baqian. The female general gave an order, and Ren Baqian was dragged towards the kirin by the two soldiers. He promptly found the steel blades at his neck once again.
The carriage door was pushed open, but a curtain of pearls prevented people from seeing clearly inside. Someone appeared to be lying down, surrounded by a few others who were standing.
Aware of his imminent brush with death, Ren Baqian forced all distracting thoughts out of his mind.
"Identify yourself." An indifferent voice came from within the carriage. It sounded like a woman.
Upon hearing the voice, Ren Baqian felt immensely pressured. He was unsure of whether it was the steel blades pressing against his neck or the woman's voice that was causing him this discomfort.
"I am Ren Baqian from the Northeastern provinces of China and have wandered here by accident. I am proficient in mathematics, physics, chemistry, agriculture, smelting, poetry, theatrics, and am a gourmet as well. I believe I can be of some use to Your Highness," Ren Baqian said as he tried hard to stay calm. Not knowing who the other party was, all he could do was provide more details and pray that something stuck.
"Oh? China? Never heard of such a place. What's mathematics, physics, chemistry? Poetry? Let's hear you recite one." The voice remained lofty and indifferent.
Ren Baqian felt that the other party wasn't very interested in what he had to offer.
However, since the other party had requested it, he promptly recited the first poem that came to mind.
"I saw the moonlight before my bed,
and two pairs of shoes on the floor.
I raised my head and gazed at the full moon.
I bowed my head and thought of home."
The poem completely reflected his current mood; he was practically dying to go home.
At least back in his own world, there weren't people who hastily ordered beheadings.
What he failed to realize was that the poem he recited was rather off (second phrase is wrong)
"The nerve of this guy. Drag him away and behead him!" This time, the cold, unfeeling voice was tinted with mockery.
Ren Baqian was struck dumb. Was he about to be beheaded right after reciting one poem? He now understood why exactly that soldier from before was so quick to call for beheadings.
Seems like he was merely imitating his superior. Considering how the higher up behaved, it was no small wonder why the soldiers were like that.
Barbaric, these people were too barbaric.
"I know a lot about agriculture and metallurgy. I can design farming machines to increase production rates, and even provide expertise on smelting steel. I have a good understanding of various weapons and will be more valuable than a million soldiers!" Ren Baqian shouted in desperation.
The two men who were standing behind him had already grabbed him by the shoulders.
Ren Baqian knew that he was as good as dead once they finally dragged him off.
"Stop," the voice lazily commanded. The two soldiers obediently froze.
"That's quite a lot of things you know!" said the lady from inside the carriage in a rather sarcastic manner.
"Yes, I read widely. I am also well-versed in storytelling, as well as cooking all sorts of exotic food. I can teach you mahjong, dominoes, and other card games to relieve your boredom. I am knowledgeable about skincare routines too." Ren Baqian spewed out hurriedly. The person who had been speaking from within the carriage sounded like a lady, so he quickly threw in his knowledge about skincare in a bid to save his own life.
As if that last sentence really hit the nail on the head, the curtain of pearls was pulled aside.
Ren Baqian peeked into the carriage and finally saw the person within.
A woman dressed in a majestic crimson robe was lying down inside. Beside her stood two females wearing white. One of them was busy fanning her while the other fed her grapes.
She appeared to be about twenty years old or so with sharp eyebrows that sat above a pair of eyes that were as bright as the stars. Her refined facial features, combined with her eyebrows, made her look incredibly imposing.
The only word Ren Baqian could think of to describe her was "cold". He felt chilled to the bone.
To him, her face was the perfect representation of indifference and utter disregard. He could not see a single ounce of color or emotion.
The fact that the person they referred to as "Her Majesty" was a woman also surprised Ren Baqian. He had instead expected a male emperor of sorts.
It seems like the titles used in this world were a little different from those on the Earth he knew.
The lady's bright eyes gave Ren Baqian a quick scan before she looked him in the face.
Ren Baqian felt that her gaze changed momentarily but was unsure of what he saw.
Moreover, it was only for an instant.
"Where are you from?" she asked coldly.
"Northeast China," Ren Baqian felt slight relief at the thought that he just might survive this.
Asking him about where he came from meant she had some renewed interest.
"Where's that? I've never heard of it before. Is it some tiny country in the outskirts?" The woman asked in her trademark nonchalant manner as she grabbed a small cup of wine from her palace maid.
"I don't really know how to explain it to you. I really have no idea how I got here either," Ren Baqian answered honestly. Knowing that his words would determine whether he lived or died, Ren Baqian decided to be truthful in case the other party discovered otherwise.
"What's your name?"
Looking pensive, the lady took a sip from her cup. Ren Baqian was like a prisoner on trial: sweating buckets as he awaited his judgment. His clothes were soaked with sweat as if he had just gone for a swim in them.
"Your Majesty, are we to behead him?" The female general from before broke the silence after ten minutes.
Ren Baqian almost passed out from frustration when he heard this.
Why does everyone here only talk about beheadings?
According to the titles used on Earth, this lady must be an emperor. An empress?
Or could it be that the two worlds had similar vocabulary but different meanings?
"Bring him back," The lady in the carriage said as the pearl curtain was drawn.
Ren Baqian was carried to the side of the road. Having finally escaped the ordeal, he greedily gasped for air. His heart was beating so hard the whole time that he thought it might just burst out of his chest.
At least he would be kept alive for a while longer.
Watching the carriage advance, all Ren Baqian could think of was the color red.
It was a while before he regained his senses and began to check out his surroundings.
The road beneath his feet was made of dirt, but it was wide and surprisingly even. In a world without cement, this was probably the main road.
All he could see for miles were plains filled with wheat-like plants.
It was July when he left his world, and it seemed like it was around the same period here as well.
After walking for almost half a day, he finally saw a city.
"Magnificent" was the word Ren Baqian would use to describe it.
It was hugehumongous even.
He estimated the city walls to be around least twenty meters tall, about as high as a six story flat. It was completely built out of gigantic cut stones, indicating that the amount of manpower and resources used was insane.
Soldiers clad in shining armor stood along the main road. Behind them was a sea of people kneeling down with their heads bowed low. No one dared to make a single noise.
The city looked even bigger from the inside. Stores lined the streets, painting a picture of extravagance. If not for the large number of people kneeling by the streets, the city would probably look much grander.
Walking on for another two hours, he passed through another inner castle. Ren Baqian could see a building complex, or rather, a cluster of palaces in the distance. He had an inkling that this might be his destination.
What happened next proved him wrong. Just as he was about to reach the palaces, Ren Baqian was dragged towards the middle of a courtyard and swiftly thrown into a dark jail cell.