For the entire morning, Ren Baqian told a story to the empress. It was a good way for the empress to pass her time while travelling to her destination.
And Ren Baqian did not need to suffer. At least he did not need to eat dirt for the entire morning and become a dirt-covered refugee.
Even if he was to ride the mountain-gazing bird all the way, it would still be an arduous journey for him.
When it was about noon, everyone arrived at the destination. It was a plain at the foot of a mountain. Beside the plain, there was a meandering brook. It was a good place to set up camp.
The moment they arrived, the five hundred horsemen scattered and scouted the area. The guards that stayed behind were for ornamental purposes. Given the empress's strength, she did not need be scared of any danger.
By the time Ren Baqian got out from the royal carriage, the rest of the people had run to the brook to wash up.
The nobles from the other three countries also set up their camp in the distance.
In reality, not many tents were set up as most of them rode here in carriages. Only Ning Caichen, Mister Emptiness, and a few other people rode here on their mounts.
It was lunchtime and everyone brought their own food. In the morning, Ren Baqian went to the plaza in a hurry, and he forgot to bring his own food. He even needed Tie Dao to remind him to fill up his water bag.
Fortunately, he had a plan. Since the empress did not bring any chefs with her, he would be the one preparing lunch for her.
There were fruits on the royal carriage, and as such, he only needed to prepare some meat dishes.
After preparing the fruits, he asked one of the guards for some meat to roast. After all, these guards were not participating in the event, and they had brought food here.
After waiting for a while, the guard brought back a fanged rabbit and two wild birds that were of similar size to a wild goose.
After instructing two guards to skin the rabbit and the wild birds, Ren Baqian began to start a fire.
The people in this world used flint to start fire. Therefore, when Ren Baqian took out a windproof lighter to start a fire, he piqued the interest of the people around him. After all, Ren Baqian could produce fire by giving the lighter a press. This was much more convenient than using a flint.
After setting up his fire, a huge man squatted beside him and said, "Brother, can I exchange for your fire-spitting equipment with something?"
Ren Baqian turned around to see who it was. He seemed to see this man somewhere before. After looking at his clothes, Ren Baqian recognized who he was. He was the big man that rode on the saber-toothed tiger. Even when he was squatting down, he was still taller than Ren Baqian.
But is it suitable for you to call me "Brother" when you look like you're thirty plus years old?
"May I know how old are you?" Ren Baqian asked with curiosity. He felt that his ego was hurt.
Is this man blind? How can I be older than him?
"I am going to be seventeen years old soon." The huge man grinned.
Ren Baqian's face twitched. The huge man's face looked very mature.
"I can give to you for free but you must let me follow you later, deal?" Ren Baqian said as he checked the items inside his sleeping bag.
"But I'm going deep into the mountain, I might not return tonight," the huge man said.
Ren Baqian knew the Great Hunt would start on noon today and end tomorrow noon. Usually, people would return tonight as they needed to rest after all.
It seemed that this man wanted to hunt better prey; otherwise, he wouldn't be going into the depths of the mountain.
Ren Baqian was slightly hesitant. The night in the mountain was much more dangerous than the day. Previously, Caretaker Shi had told him this mountain had many fearsome beasts. Ren Baqian's initial plan was to roam around the edge of the mountain and hunt a few small animals.
"I will give it to you tomorrow then, I might still need it tonight. I will give it to you for free tomorrow after you come back from the mountain," Ren Baqian said. It was just a lighter that cost roughly ten yuan. As such, Ren Baqian had no qualms gifting it to him. One had to know that these people were the children of powerful court officials. It would be a great deal for him if he could befriend one of them using just a lighter.
"Thank you, Brother. My name is Du Changkong, I will find you tomorrow after I come back from the mountain." Du Changkong chuckled.
Ren Baqian smiled.
After a while, the two wild birds and the rabbit had been washed and sent to Ren Baqian. Du Changkong was still squatting beside Ren Baqian. Ren Baqian turned around to look at him and asked, "Is there anything else?"
"I see that you have a lot of fun-looking gadgets, can you let me play with them?" Du Changkong grinned and pointed to Ren Baqian's mountain-gazing bird that had been driven far away.
Ren Baqian actually did not want to drive it so far away, but the perfume on its body was far too strong. Even after so many hours had passed, the intensity of the perfume did not decrease at all.
"You want to take a look at my crossbow, right?" Ren Baqian immediately knew what Du Changkong was talking about. Only the sleeping bag, the crossbow, and the arrow quiver were hung on the side of the mountain-gazing bird.
"That's called a crossbow? I have seen a crossbow from Great Xia before but it doesn't look like yours at all." Du Changkong's voice was filled with excitement. "Yours looks better."
Naturally, a modern crossbow looked more technologically advanced. An ancient crossbow simply paled in comparison to a modern one, especially when Ren Baqian's crossbow had a scope attached to it.
When Ren Baqian saw the eagerness on Du Changkong's face, he knew their relationship was progressing well. Aboriginals' muscles operated at a faster speed than their brains.
A few fools were already running towards his mountain-gazing bird. Just now, he had already noticed many people were looking at the crossbow that hung on his mountain-gazing bird.
"Tell them don't spoil it, I still need it to hunt," Ren Baqian reminded Du Changkong.
"Okay, I will break the balls of whoever spoils it." Du Changkong chuckled and ran towards Ren Baqian's mountain-gazing bird.
After a while, alarmed cries broke out around Ren Baqian's mountain-gazing bird. There were a few people looking through the scope of Ren Baqian's crossbow.
The glass of the scope and its magnifying effect seemed extremely magical to them. They kept on snatching it from each other as though it was a precious treasure.
As Ren Baqian tried to pierce the wild birds and the rabbit with a wooden stake, he looked at those people with his heart racing. Those fellows better be careful with his crossbow. If they broke it, how was he going to use it to hunt later on?
Then, he saw Du Changkong kick someone into the air. That person flew eight meters across the air. Following which, he elbowed another person onto the ground and took the crossbow to somewhere else to show off.
Ren Baqian could not see where he went or what happened. His line of sight happened to be blocked by a guard. He focused on roasting the rabbit and the wild birds. Every now and then, he could hear alarmed cries resounding through the air.
When the rabbit and the wild birds were half-cooked, Ren Baqian began to sprinkle some spices over them. Within seconds, an extremely strong aroma pervaded through the air.
Those who smelled the aroma turned their heads to the direction of Ren Baqian. They wanted to see what smelled so good.
The spices that Ren Baqian used could only be found in the imperial palace and beast park. Even the court official did not know much about them, let alone these people.
After an hour, the rabbit and wild birds were cooked, and Ren Baqian's forehead was drenched in sweat. It wasn't easy to roast these animals. After all, he had to keep turning the wooden stake to prevent the meat from getting burnt.
Then, he brought the roast rabbit and wild birds to the royal carriage. Qing Yuan was already waiting for him there.
Ren Baqian asked the guard for another two pieces of mutton as he prepared to cook a meal for himself.
After Ren Baqian finished roasting the meat, he felt someone squatted beside him again. He turned around and realized it was Du Changkong, who was grinning at him.
"Where is my crossbow?"
"I will get it back for you, save one piece for me!" Du Changkong yelled as he ran off.
Ren Baqian realized Du Changkong was had the heart of a child even though he had the face of a middle-aged man.
Soon after, Du Changkong returned with a bitter-looking face and said, "I'm afraid I can't get your crossbow back."
"It's in the hands of the Hong girl, I can't defeat her."
"You have already promised me that you will not lose or spoil it. Now you come back empty-handed just because you're defeated by a girl? Where is your backbone? Where is your awe of a man? How're you going to find a wife in the future? Other people will look down on you. If you're a real man, go all-out on her. Even if you die, you have to keep your promise! How can you be called a man if you can't even keep your promise?" Ren Baqian egged Du Changkong on with a low voice. He did not care at all who the Hong girl was.
After hearing Ren Baqian's words, Du Changkong's face was filled with determination. He said, "Don't worry, since I have promised you just now, I will get it back for you. I will fight the Hong girl to death." After finishing his sentence, Du Changkong left in an imposing manner, looking as though he wasn't coming back until he accomplished his task.
Ren Baqian looked at Du Changkong's back view and nodded his head. A seventeen-year-old, foolish youngster indeed could not stand being incited.
In his heart, Ren Baqian praised himself for his wit. He felt a sense of pleasure from outsmarting someone, even though the other party was just a seventeen-year-old, foolish youngster.