The Empress's Gigolo Chapter 48

Chapter 48: Well Salt

Ren Baqian became certain upon hearing Na Gu's words.

He had a flash of inspiration when he heard about the poisonous salt water. Even though it was poisonous, all things in this world were formed from ions and atoms and could, as such, undergo chemical reactions when subjected to the right conditions.

In other words, the salt could be extracted from the water, or the toxins could be removed.

Brine that was black and stank of rotten eggs was a kind of subterranean phenomena that could be found on Earth as well. About two thousand years ago, people from ancient times used their knowledge to extract salt from these subterranean brine sources.

This was the predecessor of the famous "well salt". Upon understanding more of how things worked in this world, Ren Baqian had gone back to find out more information about well salt. What he found was that salt could be harvested in places far from the sea, and that it was possible to obtain salt deep inland as well.

There were numerous methods to do so. Drying surface brine and saline soil under the sun was the simplest way to produce salt. Other methods were present in places where these sources were unavailable and obtaining well salt was one of those.

Brine wells came in many different types, including black brine wells, yellow brine wells, and rock wells. The main idea behind such methods was to obtain seawater that had been trapped beneath the Earth's crust after geological activity. It was kind of like collecting seawater that had gone bad.

Black brine wells were the ones that contained poisonous black brine. This type of brine was typically found three hundred meters beneath the ground but could also be brought up to the surface as springs or pools by geological activity.

Because he knew all of this, Ren Baqian immediately picked up on their conversation about poisonous salt water.
"What about brown-colored water, do you have that over there as well? It's also salty and poisonous," Ren Baqian immediately asked.

He asked this because black brine contained large amounts of sulphuric acid while yellow brine contained barium. Both were toxic to the human body but could crystallize into barium sulfate when mixed in the right proportion. Doing so would remove the toxicity and allow for extraction of well salt.

Of course, all of this hinged on the fact that the Black Pool was indeed filled with black brine, and that it did not contain any other poisonous substances.

According to what he had heard, Ren Baqian was quite confident that it was black brine. Whether or not there were other poisonous substances was something he was less sure of.

"Nope," said the huge man coldly. Knowing that Ren Baqian worked at the beast park only served to reduce the huge man's animosity towards Ren Baqian; it did not mean that he was going to treat him amiably. Seeing Ren Baqian's skinny frame reminded him of people from the Yun Nation and Great Xia. His displeasure towards such people was deeply engraved in his bones.

"Yes!" Na Gu retorted as if she had a sudden spark of inspiration. "We previously encountered one in the mountains. Da Gong was so thirsty that he drank a mouthful and became extremely lethargic. He even shot a fanged beast in the face after that and almost got killed by it. Wasn't that water exactly as this guy describes?"

"Hng," the huge man snorted as he turned away.

Na Gu look towards Ren Baqian and said, "A small crevice in the mountain contains the kind of water you described. It's a little brownish and isn't drinkable."

Ren Baqian was filled with joy when he heard this.

He had casually inquired about it and was not expecting such an answer.

"May I ask where your stronghold is?" Ren Baqian questioned.

"Why do you need to know?" Na Gu snapped, clearly on guard.
"How can I find this Black Pool and the brown water if I don't know where your stronghold is?" Ren Baqian pressed.

"Why are you looking for such stuff? You really think it can be used as salt? I thought I made it clear that it was poisonous." Na Gu glared at Ren Baqian suspiciously.

"All poisons can be countered in some way. Everything in the world has a polar opposite."

"Hng, I don't believe you!" Na Gu instantly replied.

"We won't know till we try. I'll hire you as my guide if we go look for it. I'll even pay you with salt, how about that?" Ren Baqian tried to tempt her with rewards.

Na Gu rolled her eyes and lifted a finger at Ren Baqian, "I'm a skilled hunter, I won't accept anything less than half a catty of salt."

Ren Baqian looked at the raised finger and wondered how she would sign one catty. Would she raise two fingers?

At this point, Ren Baqian subconsciously extended two fingers and asked, "How much is this?"

Na Gu was momentarily stunned before she replied angrily, "Do you take me for a fool?" She raised her fist that was twice as large as that of woman from Earth and charged at Ren Baqian like a provoked cat.

Ren Baqian considered how strong the people of Dayao were and stared at Na Gu's fist. His liver would probably fly out of his mouth if that huge thing hit him squarely in the chest.

"Half a catty of salt, deal." Ren Baqian immediately said.

"Hmm? Hmm, it's your blessing to have a hunter as skilled as me be your guide!" Na Gu said, proudly raising her head and lifting her chest as she withdrew her fist.

"Are you really from the beast park?" Na Gu racked her brains and asked.

Ren Baqian took out a tablet from beneath his clothes, "See for yourself."

"Don't recognize this, can't understand it." Na Gu spread out her hands in indifference.

"I thought I told you that this is Caretaker Ren of the beast park. Do you think we'd try to scam you?" Tie Dao refuted.

Na Gu glanced at Tie Dao then glanced at Ren Baqian. She replied, "I'll believe you for now. Our stronghold is at Nine-Peaked Mountain. After exiting the city, head southwest and you should arrive within a day. There's a luoweng horn at the bottom of the mountain that you should use to notify me."

"What horn at the bottom of the mountain? How am I supposed to find it?" Ren Baqian asked with his hands out. How was he supposed to find a horn at the base of a mountain? How is this any different from searching for a needle in a haystack?

"Not just any horn, it's a luoweng horn. Don't you know what a luoweng horn is? The horn is hung on a pole at the bottom of the mountain." Na Gu's eyes opened wide as she stared at Ren Baqian.

Upon seeing Na Gu stare at him as though he was an alien, Ren Baqian looked to Tie Dao for answers. "What is this luoweng horn?"

"The luoweng is a wild beast that lives up on the mountains. It has a single horn and is quick as lightning. Once removed, the horn can be blown into to generate a sound that can be heard for five kilometers," Tie Dao explained.

"Five kilometers, for real?" Ren Baqian gaped in disbelief. How could blowing into a horn make a sound that could be heard for five kilometers? Five kilometers would take an average person practically an hour to walk.

Even in the empty wilderness, a sound like that must reach at least a hundred and twenty or thirty decibels.

The sound must be almost as loud as an airplane taking off or the sound of thunder.

Ren Baqian could not bring himself to believe that blowing on a beast's horn could produce a sound of this magnitude.

Tie Dao rambled on, "Those who live in mountain strongholds often rear large-eared monkeys or similar animals. These animals are able to pick up the sound of a luoweng horn from far away, informing the stronghold that there are visitors.

Ren Baqian finally understood how it worked.

He turned his head around and wanted to ask Na Gu for the horn's exact location, but did not bother to in the end. He was pretty sure she could not explain it well anyway.

"Alright, we'll head back first then. We'll look for you at the Nine-Peaked Mountain when we go looking for the Black Pool."

"Remember to bring the salt," Na Gu reminded.

"I won't forget. See you." Ren Baqian cupped his hands in farewell.

After walking for some time, Teng Hulu asked, "Caretaker Ren, can salt really be dredged out of that Black Pool?"

"Extracted, not dredged. As for whether the extracted salt is poisonous or not, we'll have to wait and see," Ren Baqian said. He was not too confident about it.

"It'd be great if salt can really be obtained." Teng Hulu was excited.

"We'll have to get Her Majesty's approval first," Ren Baqian announced unhurriedly.

"As long as Caretaker Ren has a way, Her Majesty will surely approve it," Teng Hulu replied. "You'll definitely receive a position as an official too."

Ren Baqian twiddled his lips from side to side. This was also one of the reasons why he had enquired about the Black Pool. Having teleported all the way here, he could not possibly stay in the beast park as a caretaker forever, could he? Perhaps earning some money by peddling his earthly wares was enough?

If he was in a world similar to ancient China he might have considered doing so. Living a carefree life sounded great.

This world was however filled with uncertainty. Many things could not be properly understood without a higher position.

Take the kirin for example. He had yet to see that magnificent beast again; although, he had heard that someone took care of it conscientiously.

Being in this world filled with immensely strong people left him feeling vulnerable. Attaining a high position was the only way he could obtain a sense of security.