Chapter 16: Horseman Never Talks In A Roundabout Way
What kind of identities should they use to enter the town was the first problem they faced. Fortunately, there was no such thing as a travel permit in this world, and also no limit or prohibit on commercial circulation. On the contrary, the pursuit of wealth by the elves had even greatly stimulated the development of commerce, allowing many large and small merchants to be active throughout the empire.
Liu Li’s understanding of this world was not much higher than Wu Qingsong’s. After consulting with Ling, Wu Qingsong decided to assign his identity as a member of a certain chamber of commerce. Such people were more common and would not attract other people’s attention. It was certainly strange to take action with two maids by his side, but some wealthy half-elf merchants often took vassal beastman subordinates and bodyguards with them around. So, their actions were not too glaring and abrupt, it could only be considered eccentric.
He took the decision to distribute the money evenly and hid them on each of them so that they could avoid putting all the money on one person. If the target was too big and was being targeted, then reduce the risk of being stolen or robbed. At least before he had sufficient ability to protect all of them, it should be like this. But what he did not think of, was that such an arrangement evidently surprised and delighted Ling and Liu Li, especially Liu Li. Wu Qingsong reckoned that she had never had so much money before. After getting excited for a long time, she suddenly began to worry, worry that she would somehow lose this money. Wu Qingsong and Ling appeased her for a while before she became cheerful again.
When entering the town, Wu Qingsong had no choice but to accept the fact that he was being treated as a half-elf. Such a misunderstanding seemed to have morphed into his label in the world. But due to this, the guards were not as hard on him as they were to everyone else, so much so that not even a question was thrown at them. After collecting the entry fees of twenty coppers from each of them, the three of them were allowed to pass through the city gate.
Thus, Wu Qingsong got his first chance to truly take a look at the towns of this world.
According to Nina’s introduction, this town called Caragados was the fourth largest town in the Illiar barony. Because it was surrounded by plains, it was one of the main grain-producing areas in the region. Yet, according to Wu Qingsong’s standard, it could only be regarded as a slightly larger village. The walls were similar to Leimu Town in that they used logs. There were watchtowers at regular intervals, as well as walkways for the soldiers to patrol.
Perhaps it was because the news that the Leimu Town was burned down by the fire had already arrived here. The number of soldiers was obviously a bit too much, and the number of civilians on the street was a little less.
Wu Qingsong estimated that there were no more than 2,000 residents in the whole town. There were not many shops on the street, and there was no place to shop. So they quickly asked for directions to the place where they could ride a carriage. After paying the fare of fifty copper coins each and got on a worn-out four-wheeled carriage, they went on their way to Umbel.
There were not many passengers in the carriage, which might be one of the reasons for the high fares. Wu Qingsong did not care to observe and guess the identity and occupation of other passengers. He was looking at the fields outside the carriage with interest.
Most of the fields were distributed on both sides of the road. With the sparsely distributed low-rise wooden houses as background, some short beastmen whose race was unidentifiable were working hard in the field. But from their clothes and appearances, they should definitely be categorized as one of the people who were malnourished and leading a hard life.
Every now and then, they could see a slightly taller building that was like a wooden fortress with a sentry tower. A small number of soldiers were on duty, which gave the entire journey a sense of crisis as though they were passing through a battlefield.
One particular detail worth mentioning was that when they were resting in one of the wooden forts, they encountered a group of beastmen wearing ragged clothes but armed with weapons. They probably had less than ten people. Their leader should be a half-elf, but the elvish characteristics were not obvious, and the hair was obviously too much.
“They should be a mercenary group,” when the coachman heard his question, he looked at him with amazement and replied. “These guys are like those ratmen, they could be found all over the world. Customer, if you are traveling on foot, be sure to be careful with these people.”
“Why?” Wu Qingsong actually had a vaguely good feeling for mercenaries. Because, in many games with a western fantasy background, the protagonist’s identity was mostly a mercenary.
“These guys are not good people!”
The coachman was a horseman, and after he snorted heavily from his nose, he said, “In the face of wealthy and powerful people, these guys are like dogs, but if they meet a lone traveler in the wild or a weak caravan, these guys can become robbers at any time!”
“No way right? They don’t have the sense of honor that mercenary should have?”
“The sense of honor of the mercenary? What is that?” the horseman asked in confusion. “If there is a sense of honor, then they will not be mercenaries. A bunch of treacherous people, what kind of sense of honor would they have!?”
Fine, this might not be the last time that one of Wu Qingsong’s notions got ruined, but it was definitely one that makes him feel very disappointed.
He found out that the horseman seemed to be very open to conversation, so he moved his seat and began to inquire from him news about Umbel.
“Where are you from, customer? How did you not know these?”
Many questions might have inadvertently exposed his ignorance of this world. This made the horseman very doubtful, but on account of the tip given by Wu Qingsong, he just came clean about everything he knew.
As Nina said, Umbel was a free city, but the so-called freedom was only relatively speaking. It was still a territory within the Niselle Marquisdom. Only that the Port Guild, Commerce Guild, and the Craftsmen guild jointly obtained the autonomy of the land from the hands of the Marquis of Niselle at the cost of 200,000 Renals per year.
Apart from this, the Marquis could obtain a certain number of goods from Umbel every year, and send a representative and a regular army of troops to the city to demonstrate their authority.
Everyone who had settled in Umbel for more than a year and had paid taxes could proudly claim that they were free citizens and were protected by the Freeport Act.
However, Umbel was not the largest port in the entire Benares Sea. There were only less than 30,000 people here and they were mainly involved in the leather processing, wood and furniture industry as well as ore and iron industry. Whether it was the number one free sea in the empire, Boboloross, Phoenix, or the port of Benares, in the capital of the Benares Dukedom, or the free port of Bolobolor, known for its disorder in the east, they were all far larger than Umbel.
“The advantage of a small place is that it is easy to make a living, the competition is not so intense, but the opportunities are also little.”
The coachman probably thought of him as a half-elf who had just started to make a living for himself and said like a know-it-all, “As I see it, Umbel is actually not a bad place. At least the rent and labor costs are much cheaper. The head tax and the commercial tax are much lower than in other places. Starting from this place is always easier than places like Phoenix!”
Wu Qingsong slightly nodded his head.
His words might not be all correct, but before he fully understood the common sense of this world, it was obviously a good choice to live in a place with lower prices.
“Look, we’re going to arrive soon!” the coachman suddenly said.
Behind a vast field, a tall greenish stone wall suddenly appeared in their field of vision. Looking out from here was, of course, still very blurry. They could only vaguely see the huge gatehouse, like a scene right out of a movie. Yet this was enough to make Wu Qingsong feel excited.
This place finally gave him some more real sense of participation. Such a place was similar to the different world town that he once longed for, a stage that belonged to him.
“Jia!” the coachman lightly poke the horse’s body using a pole. The next instant, they sped up along the gravel road towards the town.