The Empress's Gigolo Chapter 718
Dayao was vast, but sparsely populated.
To what extent?
Other than the Sixty Thousand Mountains, it was about a quarter of the size of China.
Tianjing Basin occupied one-sixth of that, which was around 400,000 square kilometers of land. This was equivalent to the size of two ordinary provinces, and it had a population of around ten million.
The remaining two million square kilometers of land, which was equivalent to the size of ten ordinary provinces, had a population of less than 400,000 aboriginals.
Out of more than ten million aboriginals, around ten million of them resided in the Sixty Thousand Mountains.
Only 400,000 people lived on the piece of land that was the size of ten provinces. This showed how sparsely populated Dayao was.
It was commonplace to not see a village over a period of two to three days of travel. The further it was from Lan City, the more desolate it became. Other than the fearsome beasts that were living in the mountains and forests, there were also boundless pasturelands where large groups of fork-horned cows and jumping goats were herded.
It was a magnificent sight to see hundreds of thousands of fork-horned cows and jumping goats moving about in the fields.
However, Ren Baqian was most troubled by the roads in this area.
There were practically none.
There was only a bumpy dirt road that was in much poorer condition than the roads in other areas. It would turn muddy after a rainfall, often causing the wheels of the carriages to get stuck in the mud.
After a week of arduous travel, they finally arrived at their last destination before entering the Sixty Thousand Mountains.
As the towering peaks in the distance grew visible, Ren Baqian and his party finally arrived at the last and largest city outside the Sixty Thousand Mountains, Ya City. This city was the hub of interaction between the Sixty Thousand Mountains and the outside world.
It was also known as Savage City.
This city was a remnant of the Hao Nation's previous dynasty. They referred to the aboriginals as barbarians, so the name also represented the uncivilized territory that was located in the land beyond.
At present, the Hao Nation had already perished 70 years ago, but the name of this city still remained. Even the aboriginals themselves referred to this place as Savage City most of the time.
"I'm Colonel Zhang Jushan of the Protectorate of the South. Greetings, Your Majesty!" A group of 1,000 soldiers stepped forth to welcome the empress. All of them were wearing leather armor and carried long blades.
However, Ren Baqian somehow felt that there was something different about them. They seemed slightly tougher and fiercer than the soldiers from other places.
The empress lifted the curtain and revealed herself to the soldiers outside before faintly saying, "Let's enter the city!"
After another half day of travel, they drew closer to Ya City, but what attracted Ren Baqian's attention the most were the mountains in the distance.
The mountain peaks were towering and looked as if they were pillars that supported the sky as they pierced through the clouds.
By a rough estimate, there seemed to be at least a few hundred of these mountain peaks, and the view was magnificent.
In between those peaks, there were also some winding mountain ranges that were much lower in elevation. Their boundaries stretched so far that it was completely out of sight.
From where Ren Baqian stood, he could see practically nothing but mountains.
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After the party arrived at the walls of Ya City, Ren Baqian finally shifted his attention to this place.
The city walls were made from large gray rocks and looked very grave and stern. There were pieces of sharp objects, which looked like fangs of wild beasts, that lined the top of the entire wall.
These fang-like protrusions at the top of the wall were installed in the past to prevent the aboriginals from attacking the city. There was no telling how much aboriginal and Jing Tribe blood had been spilled here.
After entering the gates, they were greeted by rows of tall stone houses. Their doors were three meters tall and almost every house was about four meters tall. There weren't any decorations, so they all looked very simple and unadorned.
The aboriginal commoners that stopped by to watch were what caught Ren Baqian's attention.
Some wore cloth garments, some wore animal hides, some bared their skin and had a body full of tattoos, and some even wore clothes woven from straw.
Some of them had bird feathers tied to their heads while others had animal tails draped over their shoulders. Some hung a luoweng's horn from their necks, and many of them wore necklaces made out of animal fangs.
There were many tamed beasts here as well. There were saber-toothed tigers that were entirely white, black masters that had strong odors, giant snakes that had intertwining gold and silver patterns across their bodies, quick-witted monkeys that were roughly the same size as humans, and gigantic birds that were twice as tall as two men…
It was diverse.
Ren Baqian felt as if he had entered a different world.
The one thing that everyone had in common was the wild nature that emanated from their bodies.
"These people hail from different regions. People from every region have their own distinctive traits that indicate their identities. For instance, people from the Black Mountain have bird feathers on their heads. Those from the Chi Tu Peak have saber-toothed tiger tails draped over their shoulders, whereas those from the Stone Mountain have furry fox tails…" the empress explained as she looked at the people around her.
Ren Baqian turned to her and asked, "You have been here before, Your Majesty?"
"Once, when I was young," she replied faintly.
"You have an excellent memory, Your Majesty." Ren Baqian was speechless. It happened so many years ago, yet she could still remember it so clearly.
She was undoubtedly an outstanding person.
"They are my people. Naturally, I have to remember." The empress lifted the curtain of her carriage as she spoke and stepped out to look at the people around her.
"It's the little emperor!"
"Our little emperor has returned!"
"Her Majesty is back!"
The situation suddenly became chaotic. Many people shouted that their little emperor had returned with their voices filled with joy.
They seemed to feel very happy after seeing the empress.
She had already been on the throne for nine years, but still remained the little emperor in the eyes of these aboriginals who lived so far from Lan City.
"Your Majesty, do you still remember the Moon Spring Village on the Chi Tu Peak? You rested in our village back then!"
"You had a meal there as well! You ate the golden-feathered eagle that my father hunted!" someone immediately shouted.
These people didn't understand what etiquette was, but this was the simplicity of the mountains.
Even though it was rather rowdy, the empress felt inner peace and tranquillity.
"Stop shouting! What are you doing shouting all over the place in front of Her Majesty?" The high-ranking official who greeted her earlier reprimanded the commoners.
"It's fine!" The empress waved her hand, glanced across the people around her, and said, "I have returned to enter the mountains and to see if you've been living well."
"We are fine, but salt is too expensive! There's also nobody buying animal hides anymore!" someone immediately yelled out.
"This is all temporary. The north is still at war now. Once we win, we will have large amounts of saltpans, and the price of salt will fall. Keep your animal hides for the moment because there will be buyers in time to come." The empress looked undisturbed as she answered the people.
"That's great! Let us know if you have a shortage of people and need more to fight in the war! My child was one step too late and didn't manage to become a soldier back then!"
"Definitely!" The empress smiled.
"Little emperor, are you getting married soon?" An unknown voice suddenly shouted this question.
The empress smiled and nodded, saying, "Yes, there will soon be people delivering news about my wedding to you."
Ren Baqian stepped out of the carriage, cupped his hands toward the people around him, and said, "Greetings, everyone."
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