Chapter 534.2: Currying Favor

When her thoughts traveled here, the maid fell to her knees on the floor. 

“Goddess, please don’t be angry. The goddess only descended to Xiyue after a hundred years of praying. The prince didn’t know the goddess would arrive, so to prevent the tribe from dying out, he had no choice but to wed and take concubines. If the prince had known earlier that the goddess would arrive, he definitely would’ve waited for you!”

Qin Yining was dumbstruck by her reply, torn between laughter and tears.

It seemed that the Xiyue tribe deeply revered their religion, sacred texts, and goddess. Compared to that lecherous prince, ordinary Xiyue likely grew up with the belief that a goddess would descend from the skies with food, and thus believed it without doubt.

So from this, it was clear that this oasis really needed crop seeds!

Qin Yining frowned and pretended to sigh worriedly. “You may rise. What is your name?”

“In response to the goddess, this servant is called Biyu.” 

“Mhmm. There’s no need to be so nervous, I won’t do anything. Since I’ve come to Xiyue, I won’t leave so easily or rashly take the supplies away. I just want to understand the situation here and I hope you can tell me more.”

Biyu grew even more nervous when she heard that. Saying that she wouldn’t leave so easily or rashly take the supplies away meant that there was no guarantee she wouldn’t! They had to serve the goddess well and make her want to stay!

“Goddess, this servant will explain everything.” Biyu bobbed her head rapidly. “There is the first princess consort, second princess consort, third princess consort, and fourth princess consort by His Grace’s side. The fourth consort was just granted her title last year. 

“There are also thirty-seven concubines, some newly bestowed. Some of them are old concubines who have given birth to young masters and misses. So far, the prince has yet to sire a crown prince.” That meant if Qin Yining married the prince and bore a son, her son would be the crown prince. 

It appears that competition to become a concubine or princess consort was actually quite fierce in Xiyue?

The characters used for their titles, apart from how there were four princess consorts, all seemed to have been taken from Northern Ji. Whether it was princess consort, concubine, crown prince, master, or miss, they were all terms of address from when Northern Ji was split up between the various princes. 

So the people here must hail from Northern Ji. It was likely that for some reason, one of the old princes had to flee and ended up bringing his people here. 

While Qin Yining asked further questions, a shout suddenly sounded outside. 

“Imperial Physician Wang has arrived.” 

“Cousin, you should let the imperial physician look over you,” Lu Heng interjected. “You must take care of your health.” 

Qin Yining nodded with a smile before taking a seat on the heated brick bed. Lu Heng, Uncle Alham, and the rest naturally clustered around her. 

Imperial Physician Wang looked around fifty years old, walking with a slight slouch that made his back appear hunched over. His face was covered in wrinkles, making him appear like a pitiful old man crushed by grief. 

After going through all of the courtesies, he carefully took Qin Yining’s pulse. “The goddess’ cold is much better now. However, your body is still weak and needs to be carefully nursed with tonics.” 

Biyu and another maid, Xinyu, hurriedly asked what medicine Qin Yining needed. She took advantage of the distraction to wink a few times at her people.

Lu Heng couldn’t help but nod with a smile. Under the imperial physician’s care, the best medicines, and the best treatment, her health would surely improve. This was an immensely reassuring development. 

As the sky slowly darkened, an imperial bodyguard summoned Biyu to pass on a message. “The prince said to invite the goddess’ people back to rest.” 

Qin Yining frowned with reluctance. 

“Are you afraid of spending the night here?” Uncle Alham asked softly.

“There’s nothing to be afraid of. Everything is still under discussion, so I’ll be safe here. You all should go back, the tribespeople will be uneasy in the evening.”  Qin Yining smiled at Lu Heng again. “Cousin, you should go back and rest as well.” 

Lu Heng understood Qin Yining’s intentions. She wanted him to take strict control of the tribe when he returned and take note of their surroundings to form a precise plan. 

It was a good thing they could now meet everyday and exchange information to plot out countermeasures. Separating now would make it convenient to scout the situation outside the palace. 

Apart from fear of Zhou Meng harming Qin Yining, everything else coincided with Lu Heng’s intentions. Although he was worried, in their current situation, Lu Heng’s group had no choice but to leave. 

Qin Yining told Biyu to send them off while she took medicine with Xinyu’s help.

When the sky was mostly dark, oil lamps flared to life in the palace halls. Biyu and Xinyu carried dinner over from the kitchens. A soft, thick bean porridge made up the staple of the meal, accompanied by a few pickled dishes for appetizers and a dark green apple as dessert.

Beans were a common sight in the north. She was in the imperial palace and the Xiyue prince wanted to curry favor with her, so he definitely would’ve ordered the servants to treat her well. Despite all that, the food they served were the same beans seen in a commoner’s meal, without anything like rice or flatbread. It was clear that they were truly lacking in foodstuff. 

Biyu and Xinyu watched Qin Yining stared at the beans without picking up her chopsticks and grew a little nervous. 

The wagons the goddess brought along had held rice, maize, and even wheat. Although most of it was beans as well, with the goddess’s identity, she probably wasn’t used to eating beans or liked the food item either.

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