Chapter 553.1: The Way Home

After the three finished their discussions, they returned to camp.

Brothers Caganbhara and Harbhara had completed the formal master-disciple ceremony. With Uncle Alham as their translator, some members of the Minuo tribe started to learn 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 about tracking bugs, and Lu Heng was in charge of negotiating with the Xiyue officials on behalf of the tribe.

Since 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 Xiyue officials to 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 for his actions.”

He received unanimous approval from the officials for his decision. Most of them were finally able to heave a mental 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 two tribes partitioned their settlements, they decided to govern themselves separately and live together in peace. Pang Xiao then focused on selecting whom to place in charge from the Xiyue’s officials.

He eventually 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 Ji.

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 concluded that Li Ru was an incredibly suitable candidate for the post and summoned him to the palace for a secret discussion.

As for what exactly was discussed, Qin Yining wasn’t present and thus didn’t know. When Li Ru left the palace, however, his eyes shone brightly of 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 previous royal family merely used one of the legends written in the sacred texts to give the people a tiny bit of hope, to draw an enormous pie for their imagination. It was just throwing them a bone, and their patience would’ve 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 mine 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, that means the tribe 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 in it for themi, of course Li Ru would be excited.”

Qin Yining nodded with a smile before leaning on Pang Xiao’s shoulder. 

"Truth be told, I quite like this place. If only our families could come settle down here—we could live out our lives in peace, never to be troubled again 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 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 with simple, uneventful joy. We won’t have to think about anything other than how to have two children within three years.”

Qin Yining flushed beet red at this.

Although she and Pang Xiao were married, they’d only spent one month together after their wedding. After that, they’d 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 had yet to look deeply into the matter.

Pang Xiao suddenly raising the issue had her 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.

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