Her caterwauling had everyone’s eardrums throbbing, and expressions sank on a few of the officials’ faces.
“The third princess consort shouldn’t voice such unfounded nonsense! The goddess brought large quantities of provisions and seeds to Xiyue, just as our sacred scriptures said she would.”
“The marriage foretold hasn’t happened only because of an unexpected development. I would believe it if it were said you’re a fake princess consort, but never if you say the goddess is not who she is. No one in Xiyue would believe that, either!”
“Indeed! If she weren’t the goddess, how could she have traversed such a wide expanse of the desert to bring provisions to Xiyue soil?!” The officials piped in one after another, each with exceedingly serious expressions on their faces.
The second princess consort frowned slightly before agreeing, “This princess consort also believes the incident to be unrelated to the goddess. However, the prince’s passing is most peculiar. It does seem like he passed away naturally, so perhaps, he was indeed summoned by the gods?”
The senior princess consort turned around and jabbed a finger at the second and third princess consorts. “You two must have murdered the prince!”
The death of the prince meant that an heir had to be selected, and that heir had to be her son! These two bitches had to die!
Those who saw the situation clearly knew full well what the senior princess consort was plotting. She didn’t have any effort to spare for the one she shared a bed with—now mysteriously dead—but had more than plenty if it came to transference of power and seizing it for herself.
Dumbstruck by the accusation, the third princess consort stared blankly, then flung herself at the other with a yowl. She yanked out a handful of hair and clung to the senior princess consort’s robes. “Slander! You lie! You’re the one who killed the prince! You’re the murderer!”
Giving tit for tat, the two women tangled together and fell to the ground in their struggles, kicking and hitting each other as they rolled around on the floor.
The rowdy and ludicrous scene had officials shaking their heads with pinched brows. As the most level-headed of them all, the second princess consort frowned at them. “What is everyone doing? Pull the princess consorts apart!”
The maids hadn’t dared touch their mistresses and hurried to separate the two women only after receiving their orders.
Not caring how the other two women were or how they would take this treatment, she cautioned, “Now is not the time to fight over this. The most urgent matter at hand is to get ahold of the situation. I hear another fifty of the goddess’ tribesmen have arrived, all of them clothed in black and tall, strong, brave, and skilled at fighting as if they were soldiers and generals descended from the heavens. Are they camped with the rest of the goddess’ tribe?”
Seeing the turn of events, the officials nodded. Compared to the nonsensical tantruming of the senior and third princess consort, the second princess consort’s steady temperament had their eyes shining with approval.
“It is as Her Highness says—roughly fifty guards came to Xiyue in the name of the goddess yesterday at noon,” responded someone. “It was those guards in black that spirited the goddess away. One of them shot an arrow at the prince and nearly killed him, cutting off a significant amount of the prince’s hair.”
Fear filled the second princess consort’s heart at the sound of this.
“Who do you think those men are?” she asked urgently. “Are they really subordinates of the goddess? What do they intend to do in Xiyue? Did the prince send anyone to investigate?”
These concerns had never crossed the senior and third princess consort’s minds; they listened on, dumbstruck, while general respect for the second princess consort grew.
“In response to Her Highness,” officials hastily replied, “if those people are indeed subordinates of the goddess, perhaps they didn't come here with the intention of being enemies with us.
“After demanding her presence at the banquet last night, the prince left soldiers stationed in a perimeter around the goddess’ camp. When her tribesmen arrived and engaged our soldiers in battle, they were clearly the superior side. Despite that, they didn't kill a single person.”
This greatly surprised the second princess consort. “They didn’t kill anyone? Not a single person?”
“Indeed. Not only did they refrain from killing our soldiers, but they didn't ransack the people’s dwellings either. They kept to themselves to the campsite and left only once to hand out flyers.”
“Yes.” The official produced a flyer from his sleeve and presented it to the second princess consort with both hands.
She quickly scanned its contents, her eyebrows rising. “The Prince of Xiyue and the goddess will be holding a wedding today at noon, and will also be distributing seeds to the people of Xiyue?”
Everyone collectively looked at the stiff body on the bed. The man was already dead, how did they intend to hold a wedding?
“They’re not killing anyone and also giving seeds to the people. They evidently bear us no ill will, but what is this wedding they speak of?” After a moment of silence, the second princess consort continued, “I feel that since they don’t mean us harm, we shouldn’t brashly leap into military action. We might incur the wrath of the goddess if we do so, and they might decide not to give us a single seed. If that happens, the people are the ones who suffer for our deeds.”
“As Her Highness says,” the officials agreed, finding the second princess consort to be even more dependable than the prince.
The senior and the third princess consort snatched the flyer out of their peer’s hands for a look; the contents confused them even further.
Meanwhile, the worried second princess consort issued further orders. “Have our soldiers prepare for battle, but don’t launch an offensive. Remain in the palace and see how events unfold. As for the prince’s funeral, I know little of what must be done, so I think it best for the senior and third princess consort to oversee it.”