With her entire body submerged in warm water, it felt like all of her pores had opened up to breathe. The sweat and bad luck that had been ground into her body by her illness also seemed to be washed away along with the grime and the dirt.
One of the maids helped scrub her body while the other washed her hair with great care. Every single one of their actions spoke of tenderness and care; when slim fingers scratched her scalp, it felt that they thought it a great offense to even cause her to lose a single strand of hair.
Qin Yining closed her eyes for a moment to think deeply, and waited until she had gotten her bearings before she asked nonchalantly, “Where is this place?”
The two maids exchanged a look and the slimmer one answered, “We can’t blame the goddess for not knowing. When you descended from the heavens with grain, you were ill. This is Xiyue, an oasis within the uninhabited region of the desert.”
So she hadn’t been brought out of the desert alone. It was the Minuo tribesmen who’d found an oasis and taken herhere! But why did these people say that she’d descended from the heavens with grain? And why did they call her a goddess?
Qin Yining didn’t bat an eyelid at that answer, and continued asking, “Where are my people?”
“Please be at ease, Goddess. Other than that young master Lu, your other people have been appropriately settled down elsewhere outside the palace.”
Outside the palace? So this was a palace? Qin Yining couldn’t help but sneak surreptitious looks around her. This palace was undeniably a little... too basic.
Since they were so careful towards her, as if they feared this ‘goddess’, she deepened her voice and glowered with displeasure, “Then where is young master Lu?”
The maids sanswered apprehensively when they saw that Qin Yining seemed to have grown angry, “Goddess, please don’t be angry. It really was because young master Lu clashed with the prince that he was locked up.”
“Clashed? Why did they clash?” Her tone became even more domineering.
Flustered, the maids quickly dropped to their knees and hung their heads. “Goddess, please don’t be angry! You must have heard our devout prayers since you brought grain and seed to Xiyue! When we first arrived here, generations of tribesmen and princes have prayed for the goddess in our sacred books to bring grain to save us and deliver us.
“The sacred books decreed that once the goddess arrived at Xiyue, she must be our princess consort. However, young master Lu vehemently opposed His Grace’s announcement that he would be marrying you. In a fit of anger, His Grace locked the young master up. But since he is the goddess’ tribesman, no one made things difficult for him.”
Qin Yining listened with open-mouthed shock. The prince that these maids were speaking of… was he that uncle she’d previously seen?! No wonder he looked at her with such ardent eyes! Did he think to ask for her opinion before marrying her?
Burying her wrath and misgivings at the bottom of her heart, Qin Yining continued to ask solemnly, “So that’s what happened. I’d expect that it must have been over a hundred years since your tribe first came to this oasis?”
The two maids nodded. “The goddess speaks rightly. Us Xiyue have been here for over a hundred years.”
Judging from how reverent and fearful these two were toward her inexplicable status of ‘goddess’, her manner couldn’t be excessively overbearing. Regardless, she had to act in accordance to their impression of a goddess, so didn’t press on with her questions.
She could already conclude from the information they’d imparted that this was still within the uninhabited region of the desert, and that the Xiyue tribe had been at this oasis for over a hundred years. The accent and customs of these people resemble that of southern Great Zhou where it bordered Great Yan, but their accessories and totems also indicated that they were a minority ethnic group.
But from what she knew, this place had been pure desert a hundred years ago. In other words, the Xiyue were just like the Minuo; they’d entered the uninhabited region and crossed the desert of their own volition, and happened upon this oasis by sheer luck.
The Minuo had been running for their lives and only entered the uninhabited region because they had no other options.
With such terrible surroundings whereupon it was easy to enter but difficult to exit, the Xiyue couldn’t very well go sightseeing with their entire tribe in tow, could they?
Thus, Qin Yining deduced that they must have been forced by circumstances to come here a hundred years ago. Taking into account the complex geology of the uninhabited region, like the Minuo, they probably couldn’t find their way out. Even if one knew the general direction they should move in, it would be extremely difficult to walk out of the desert.
Besides, the fact that this oasis was able to nourish an entire tribe for a hundred years, grant them the effort to spare for constructing a palace, and were in no way miserly with their use of water indicated that this oasis should be very large and didn’t lack water.
However, the two of them described her as a goddess that’d descended from the heavens with grain. This implied that the tribe lacked grain; or at least, that they’d lacked grain when they first arrived at this oasis.
Qin Yining understood clearly the tactics of a ruler. When grain was in short supply and they were afraid of a revolt, they would use any method they could think of to placate the masses. Therefore, they must’ve created this silly legend that said a goddess would descend from the heavens with grain in order to give the commoners a thread of hope.
However, it was more a way to pull the wool over their eyes. Even if the commoners didn’t understand anything, the prince would surely understand this concept.
However, the prince had still referred to her as goddess, indicating that he was also trying to push events to follow the same direction as what was described in the sacred books, intending to fashion himself into a legitimate king.
These conclusions were what Qin Yining was temporarily able to deduce from the information at hand, and the details had to wait until she could continue investigating. Right now, the most urgent task was to find a way to meet the Minuo and rescue Lu Heng.
Once she’d decided on a course of action, she closed her eyes in repose, maintaining an air of mystery.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Honestly, all you flies stop buzzing around our Yining!