After the three finished their discussion, they returned to camp.
Brothers Caganbhara and Harbhara had already undergone the formal master-disciple ceremony at this point in time. With Uncle Alham as their translator, a few of the Minuo tribe learned how to raise and control tracking bugs.
In the days to come, everyone threw themselves into preparation work—the Minuo made arrangements for their permanent settlement in Xiyue, the brothers continued learning the tracking bug technique, and Lu Heng was in charge of negotiating with the Xiyue officials on behalf of the tribe.
However, as Pang Xiao was the heaven-appointed Prince of Xiyue and the goddess as his consort, the court officials were rather obedient to their new liege. Therefore, negotiations proceeded quite smoothly for Lu Heng and Pang Xiao’s subordinates.
First and foremost, Pang Xiao made arrangements for Zhou Meng's wives and children. Instead of taking out his anger on them as they’d feared, he summoned all of the officials before him and announced that the former imperial harem would not be dealt with harshly.
“There is no reason why others should shoulder the blame for wrongs committed by the Zhous. The women and children are innocent. They are also people of Xiyue and do not deserve to be dragged down into the muck of his actions.”
He received unanimous approval from the officials for his decision. Most of them were able to mentally heave a sigh of relief—if the newly-coronated Prince and Princess Consort of Xiyue were willing to show mercy to even Zhou Meng’s wives and children, there was even less reason for them to be hard on innocent officials.
After the people of the Xiyue and Minuo tribes partitioned their settlements, they decided to each govern themselves and live together in peace. Pang Xiao then focused on selecting whom to place in charge from among Xiyue’s officials.
Finally, he chose a thirty-four year old official named Li Ru.
The man’s ancestors had migrated to the oasis with the Xiyue tribe, and both his father and grandfather had been high-ranking officials in Xiyue’s court in the past. His ancestors had also been provincial officials in Northern Yi.
Though he had a good head on his shoulders, his intelligence and experience didn’t make him any less loyal or kind. After questioning and testing the man at length, Pang Xiao came to the conclusion that he was an incredibly suitable candidate and summoned him to the palace for a secret talk.
As to what exactly was discussed, Qin Yining wasn’t present and thus didn’t know. When Li Ru left the palace, however, his eyes shone like he was filled with hope for the future.
Smiling, Qin Yining served Pang Xiao a cup of tea. "What did you say to him? Why is he so excited?”
"I merely appointed him in charge of the affairs of court in my stead,” Pang Xiao laughed. “I informed him of the current situation outside and revealed my true identity to him.”
Astonished, Qin Yining exclaimed, "He knows who you are? Then doesn’t that mean he knows you’re no heaven-appointed Prince of Xiyue? Why is he still so excited?”
“Though the people of Xiyue all follow their religion, there’s no harm in thinking more deeply on certain matters.” Pang Xiao smiled. “Li Ru is a man of reason—after all is said and done, the people didn’t live particularly well under Zhou Meng’s reign.
“The royal family merely used one of the legends written in Xiyue's sacred texts to give the people a shred of hope, to draw them an enormous pie for their imagination. It was just throwing them a bone, and their patience would run out sooner or later.
“The people believed the legend of the goddess so fervently because their situation was dire. When someone with a powerful background like me promises to help them leave this no man’s land if they so please, that no one will go hungry, and to eventually establish trade with Great Zhou, Xiyue will no longer be bound to this place as if they’re prisoners. They can leave whenever they’d like, and with so many benefits, of course Li Ru would be excited.”
Qin Yining smiled and nodded before leaning on Pang Xiao’s shoulder. "Truth be told, I quite like this place. If only our families could come and settle down here—we could live out our lives in peace, never again to be troubled by the turmoils of the outside world. Even if we wouldn’t have the luxuries of beautiful clothes, exquisite cuisine, or servants who wait on us hand and foot, we would still be quite happy living as ordinary people.”
Pang Xiao wrapped out a long arm around her shoulders and drew her into his arms. He kissed her forehead, the look in his eyes becoming especially firm.
“Such days will come. Once there are no longer people who threaten us and our families, we can live out our days in simple, uneventful joy.We won’t have to think about anything other than how to have two children within three years.”
Hearing this, Qin Yining’s face flushed beet red.
Although she and Pang Xiao were married, they’d only spent one month together after their wedding. After that, they wandered here and there on this matter or another. Handling disaster relief had been especially mentally and physically taxing, leaving them positively haggard. As for how to "have two children in three years", she actually had yet to look deeply into the matter.
Pang Xiao saying something like this had Qin Yining wishing she could burrow into the ground. She punched him on the shoulder and muttered, “Don’t be ridiculous.”
“How is that ridiculous?” Pang Xiao absolutely loved how charming she looked with her cheeks glowing red like the sunset. He pinched her chin and stole a kiss before murmuring, "I, for one, think this is a very important matter.”
Though Qin Yining wanted to refute him, she ended up swallowing her words into her belly; all she could do was collapse into his arms and let him have his way with her.Previous Chapter Next Chapter