On the morning of the third day, when the sky wasn't even lit yet, the horsemen left from the West Gate in groups.
Ren Baqian was waiting for them somewhere near the city.
After all, someone just tried to assassinate him not long ago. This time around, Ren Baqian was traveling to the mountains, which were some distance away. As such, he couldn't help but be extra cautious.
Even though Great Xia's diplomats were all locked up in prison and had been forgotten by people, this didn't mean that there wouldn't be any scouts from Great Xia lurking around the city.
In particular, those trade merchants that seemed honest and well-behaved. Ren Baqian was absolutely certain that there was a Great Xia scout among them.
Ren Baqian was sitting in the carriage while Lin Qiaole was sleeping in accordance with the rocking of the carriage's side. The other carriage consisted of two officials from the Ministry of Works, and there were over 50 imperial guards who were all above the level of Earth Wheel.
After the assassination attempt, the empress upgraded his guards to higher level experts, but assigning 50 guards to protect him was also the limit.
However, if something were to happen in reality, he could only count on the forever drowsy Lin Qiaole.
From time to time, there were young girls arriving together. Some of them arrived under the escort of their servants, yet sent their servants back home.
"How many people have arrived?" Ren Baqian lifted the curtain and asked.
"Sir, 22 people have arrived." Someone immediately answered.
This person was Ren Baqian's new guard leader and also someone that was familiar to him, Shi Hu.
"Alert me when everyone is here." Ren Baqian nodded.
Another minute passed, and the sky was already bright. The last three people had finally arrived.
Under Ren Baqian's command, the entire troop set off. As he got further away from Lan City, Ren Baqian began to feel more relaxed.
It wouldn't be that easy for him to be discovered out here.
As a matter of fact, there were more foreign trade merchants in the districts where the remnant citizens of the Hao Nation lived in the south. Only a few cities in the north had these foreign trade merchants; for example, Lan City.
It was extremely difficult for Ren Baqian to run into them outside of the city.
Cheerful conversations and noises from the many students could be heard from the back of the carriage. Occasionally, Tong Lan's crisp voice, which sounded like a bell, could be heard as well. Although her tone was always fierce and filled with malicious intentions, not many people cared about it.
After traveling on the road for a day, Ren Baqian incessantly shifted from the carriage to the back of a fork-horned cow and vice versa.
The carriage was too bumpy, but it wasn't comfortable riding the fork-horned cow. As a result, he continuously changed between these two positions from time to time.
At this moment, he was actually envious of Lin Qiaole because she actually slept so well in the carriage. No matter whether it was bumpy or noisy, nothing could disturb her sleep. The only time she would get up was during lunch, and she would return to sleep after consuming ten times the amount that Ren Baqian ate.
Ren Baqian even wondered if she would still be sleeping after he was killed.
After setting up the tents and having dinner, Ren Baqian was listless, so he turned on the radio station.
"Your Majesty, are you there?"
A short moment later, the empress's voice could be heard. "What happened?"
"Nothing's wrong, I just wanted to know where Your Majesty is, if you ate well, and whether the journey was tough or not?" Ren Baqian laughed mischievously.
To put it simply, he was just fooling around.
The empress, "..."
After a long time, Ren Baqian thought that the empress had turned off the radio station when she finally replied, "We have arrived in Gu City."
"Your Majesty, what did you have for dinner? I saw that you didn't bring along any chefs from the imperial kitchen. As such, I wonder if you are used to the food served there." Ren Baqian continued to tease.
"When the enemy army is outside, there's no need to pay particular attention to such a minor issue." The empress answered.
"How can this be possible? Your Majesty is the ruler of a nation. Even if the enemy is outside, issues regarding Your Majesty shouldn't be neglected. I will get the imperial kitchen to send someone over now."
Ren Baqian was stumped by what he heard. He didn't even have time to speak. Who was this person?
"May I ask who this is?" Ren Baqian questioned.
"I am Shi Qing!" The other party said.
"As it turns out, it's Sir Shi! This thing is very useful. I can even hear Sir Shi speak from a great distance away." Another person spoke, and his voice was very charming. It sounded like the voice of a middle-aged man.
Ren Baqian was speechless.
"May I ask who else is on this frequency?"
"You are Principal Ren from the Black Bamboo Academy, right? I have heard about you for a long time. I am Li Qianqiu. I didn't expect that I would meet you under such circumstances." That person said.
Ren Baqian immediately knew who this person was once he revealed his name. Protector General of the Center, Li Qianqiu, who was one of the five Protector Generals.
"I see, it's Sir Li. This item is indeed pretty good. Your Majesty, I will go get someone to inform the palace!" Shi Qing responded.
"Your Majesty is also here? Li Qianqiu pays his respect to Your Majesty. I wonder, where is Your Majesty now at this moment?" It seemed like Li Qiuqian heard what Shi Qing said, thus he immediately paid his respects to Her Majesty.
"Greetings, Your Majesty. I'm Xi Wangu. As I have duties, I am not able to personally pay my respects to Your Majesty. Please pardon my negligence."
"Skip the formalities. Are there any unusual movements in the south?" The empress asked enthusiastically.
"Those people have never been content. Over the past few days, I have executed a few more people, and it finally made them slightly more well-behaved. This, however, is also only on the surface. Some people are still collaborating privately. I'm indubitably sure that Great Xia, the Yun Nation, and the other nations are using all their strength. Once I have these tigers by their tails, I will definitely capture them all in one go." Xi Wangu replied coldly.
"Li Qianqiu, what about your side?" The empress inquired.
"We have already arrived at Qinghe Stream in the mountains, and the front line has reached Rao City. Currently, Great Xia's army has branched out to five different routes. Among the five routes, two surrounded Ping City and Shun City. As for the other three routes, they were headed in the direction of Yusheng City, Guke City, and Liao City, respectively.
Both Guke City and Liao City have 1,000 garrison soldiers, 2,000 soldiers who withdrew from the Protectorate of the North, and several tens of thousands of commoners. As for Yusheng City, there are only 1,000 soldiers over there. I'm afraid that it's difficult to obstruct the invasion of Great Xia's troops.
I have already transferred 1,500 soldiers over, and they are hurrying to Yusheng City throughout the night. I'm just not sure if they will arrive in time," Li Qianqiu said in a deep voice with a concerned tone.
Ren Baqian witnessed them using the radio station as a group chat while they greeting one another and talking about military affairs. Although the radio stations should be utilized this way, he still found it to be a strange phenomenon.
Furthermore, none of them spoke previously. It was only after he greeted the empress that everyone appeared out of nowhere. What in the world do all of you want?
Ren Baqian listened to the ongoing conversations from the radio station.
Lin Qiaole was awakened by the noise. She opened her eyelids with great difficulty. "Why is it so noisy? Who is talking?"
"Go back to sleep." Ren Baqian gently patted her head.
Like a cat, she swatted away Ren Baqian's hand before changing position to continue sleeping. In no time, Lin Qiaole's deep breathing could be heard, and she even began to drool in her sleep.
After quite some time, Li Qianqiu and Xi Wanya took their leave because they had work to do. After realizing that there wasn't anyone else around, Ren Baqian asked, "Your Majesty, are you still there?"
"I'm here!" the empress declared.
"Even though I can't see Your Majesty now, we are under the same starry sky at this moment, so it feels like we are much closer now," Ren Baqian continued to tease.
Nearly a thousand kilometers away, the empress pushed open a window and looked at the sky above her with a smile on her face.
"The stars tonight are really bright, but it seems like the wind is springing up. It may rain tomorrow," Shi Qing's voice was suddenly transmitted from the radio station, and this made Ren Baqian feel like strangling him.
Why didn't I find this old man as annoying in the past?
A metal chain quietly probed from the top of Ren Baqian's head and looked in all four directions. Then, it extended its front section out of the carriage's window, as if it was curious about the outside world.
Before Ren Baqian could sense anything, the metal chain retracted back at lightning speed.