Looking for a chance to put in a good showing, the senior and third princess consort immediately latched onto the second consort’s words.
“Our prince has passed and we Xiyue cannot go a day without a ruler,” the senior consort proclaimed solemnly. “We need to start thinking of who will inherit the throne.”
The officials nodded, also finding this quite reasonable.
However, the second consort frowned, her slender fingers gliding across the words “Prince of Xiyue” on the flyer. “Let’s not be too hasty, we should get a handle on the situation first.”
Her caution was answered by a sneer, the senior consort hardly appreciated the input. “Whether it comes to family backing or seniority, your son will never be the next prince, so save your blathering and this display of grandiose showmanship.”
Everybody looked at each other. They were all familiar with the senior consort’s temper, so any son she’d raised might not be a good ruler. But no matter how they looked at it, the second consort’s son really wasn’t in the running at all.
The senior and third consort busied themselves with funeral arrangements, calling their children over to grieve and hold vigil. Thus the morning passed by in the blink of an eye.
In the afternoon, the guards atop the palace walls noticed how a crowd was suddenly gathering in the plaza. As time went on, more people seemed to be turning up. Faces turning pale with the development, they hastily headed inside the palace to report on the happenings.
Before long, the princess consorts, officials, and Zhou Meng’s children had all received word. They clustered at the palace walls, curiously peering down below. The crowd continued to grow until it seemed like everyone in Xiyue was assembled!
When everyone was present, a large entourage appeared in the distance. Men and horses formed a protective flank around wagons in their midst. The crowd held its breath until the procession slowly reached the point where they could be clearly seen.
More than fifty black-clad cavalry escorted the group. A beautiful woman dressed in red sat alone on her horse, galloping shoulder to shoulder with a handsome young man in black. Heavily burdened wagons trundled behind them, protected by nearly a thousand men.
Silence reigned at the scene. When the Xiyue commoners saw the display of military strength, the goddess’ celestial bearing, and the provisions in view, they naturally parted to the sides to make way for the procession. One after another, they knelt and kowtowed with loud shouts,
“Goddess! The goddess has brought seeds to us! Long live the goddess! Long live the goddess!” The cheers of thousands of people rose and fell like the waves, shaking the earth and quaking the heart!
The princess consorts, officials, and young heirs on the walls even seemed to feel the bricks tremble beneath their feet. An ashen second consort clutched her sleeves tightly, poking her head out to take in everything.
The group slowly rolled to a stop when they entered the plaza, enabling the red-clothed goddess and imposing young man to ascend to the stage. An ominous feeling brewed in the second consort’s heart.
Qin Yining pursed her lips and pressed her arms slightly downwards to indicate for silence. Surprisingly, the people promptly followed her gesture and quieted down. She cleared her throat and spoke crisply, “People of Xiyue! The gods have heard your devout prayers and sent me here with provisions and seeds!”
“Wonderful! Wonderful!” Raucous cheers and whoops immediately broke out. Those at the front passed on the goddess’ words to those who couldn’t hear clearly in the back. Emotional applause broke out, and some elders and children dabbed at their eyes.
Qin Yining raised her hand again, gesturing for silence. Once more, the crowd immediately calmed down, but faint sobs could also be heard this time.
“Although I am here on behalf of the heavens, the situation in Xiyue is truly unsatisfactory. The heavens decreed that I am to descend with provisions and marry the Prince of Xiyue. However, Xiyue’s prince was a fake!
“Many of you saw what happened yesterday. The reason why I didn’t marry Zhou Meng was because he is not the prince that the heavens have selected for Xiyue.”
Dazed horror slammed into the people.
“How can our prince have been a fake?”
“Impossible, our prince was born and grew up here. He can’t be a fake!” The revelation sent the crowd into a frenzy. Exclamations and retorts rose and fell, everyone talking over each other in their agitation. Qin Yining just listened quietly to their reactions.
When the discussions died down somewhat, she chuckled softly. “A mistake was made in the succession of Xiyue royals. Otherwise, the heavens wouldn’t have waited for almost a century to send an emissary to you.
“All of you believed in the wrong prince. Only after seeing the true Xiyue prince and receiving a decree from heaven above did I learn that Zhou Meng was actually an imposter!” Pausing for emphasis, Qin Yining stepped aside and pointed at Pang Xiao beside her. “According to the appointment of the heavens, this man is the true master of Xiyue’s throne.”
Pang Xiao regarded the crowd loftily. His hands behind his back, he wasn’t shy about displaying his handsome appearance to anyone who looked at him. His noble bearing imparted an unapproachable aura to his figure; compared to the Xiyue prince they knew, this man’s princely aura was a hundred times stronger.
The look of someone who commanded an army and campaigned year round on the battlefield was naturally different from an ordinary person’s. It held a natural flair that spoke of domineering ruthlessness.
One after another, the people fell silent as they considered Pang Xiao. Under this man’s gaze, they could think about nothing but kneeling down in deference. No one could find any words to voice.
The officials on the palace walls looked at each other, dumbfounded by the situation. Color drained from the second consort’s face at the implication of these events.
Oho, clever. Methinks the senior consort will have something to say about this though... I wonder if the people buy this?