OMF V1C51 You’re Thinking Too Much

Back in the mortal world, the Zhongs needed another week to get out of the mountains and the forest. After that, their travel got smoother. With the horses, they could cover more than double the distance of what they had tackled on foot. In only one week, the high walls of the capital city appeared in the distance.
Jing Yi’s eyes went wide. He looked at Qiu Ling and waited for him to explain.
Qiu Ling smiled. There wasn’t much he could say. It had been ages since he had last set foot into the mortal realm. How would he know what was going on there? Thinking about that … he had once proposed to visit the mortal realm with Jing He. Not as part of the crown prince’s trial but just for them to spend a little time together and have fun without people watching every one of their steps.
Wouldn’t it have been fun to pretend to be a human couple? They could have spent some leisurely days as normal mortals. Strolling through the streets of a human city, frequenting some of their shops, trying their food … And it would have been just the two of them. No family, no followers, no guards. Just them. Just Jing He and he.
Well, maybe they would be able to make up for that after they were married.
Since Qiu Ling didn’t know about the city and since Jing He also knew that he hadn’t really been to the mortal realm in a long time he didn’t bother to pretend. “That in front is the capital city. I haven’t been here before so I can’t tell you more about it. But your father’s cousin is living here. You should ask him or someone from his family when you get there.”
“I’ll do that, grandfather.” Jing Yi smiled sweetly again.
Mn, this smile … Qiu Ling gazed at him, lost in his thoughts again. The more time he spent here in the mortal realm with him, the more often he thought of Jing He. Seeing him would have been nice. Even though Qiu Ling knew that Jing He’s soul resided here in Zhong Jing Yi’s body, this wasn’t the person he had fallen in love with. He’d love to look into Jing He’s dark eyes again. Even if it was just for the length of a heartbeat.
Madam Zhong shifted a little uncomfortable in the saddle. She had noticed Qiu Ling’s gaze and not for the first time. With each passing day, she grew a little more restless. Really, why did this man help them so much? It certainly wasn’t as easy as coincidentally passing by that night. No, more likely, this man had known about her son even before he came. His help had been given because it was Jing Yi that was born that night.
Qiu Ling pulled himself out of his thoughts and motioned to the gates. “I’ll come with you into the city. It would look a little strange to bring five horses if you’re only two people and a child.” He looked at Mister Zhong to see if his future father-in-law was satisfied with this arrangement.
Mister Zhong scratched his head. “Will that be alright? Those aren’t our horses …”
Qiu Ling looked up at the sky. So there really was someone who would worry about whose property the horses of some dead bandits were. “You’re too nice. These horses were probably not the bandits’ horses either. So there’s no need to think about it too deeply. Look at it this way: If you sell three or four of them, you’ll be able to support your wife and child even without your cousin’s support. Wouldn’t that be great?”
“Yes, but —”
“You’re thinking too much,” piped Madam Zhong up too. She might be curious and maybe a little wary of Qiu Ling’s motives but she still felt that he was helping them. She trusted him.
Mister Zhong nodded. “Then we’ll do it like that.”
Qiu Ling didn’t say anything more and the four of them made their way to the gates where a queue had already formed. Qiu Ling dismounted. The Zhong husband and wife couple had also learned how to get onto the horse and back down again, so they didn’t need his help anymore.
Soon, they reached the front of the queue. Guards stood on both sides and inspected the people and their luggage but there wasn’t much to look at with the Zhongs. They had a slightly longer look at Qiu Ling but since he looked like an old man and even one that was immaculately dressed they didn’t want or rather didn’t dare to act rashly and just let them in.
What Mister Pi had said about the capital hadn’t been wrong. There were a lot of influential people there that could make life difficult for ordinary citizens with just the wave of a hand or some casual words. Of course, some of the guests were of equally high status so someone guarding the gates wouldn’t risk offending anyone. Even more so, if the person in question displayed the bearing of a noble.
Qiu Ling and the Zhongs went down the main road together. At one of the intersections, Qiu Ling stopped and turned around to them. “We should part ways here. Your family might already be waiting. Do you know how to find them?”
Mister and Madam Zhong exchanged a glance. They had never been to the capital before so how would they know where Mister Zhong’s cousin lived? Mister Zhong looked down the street. His cousin’s family seemed to have done well in the last couple of years but it certainly wouldn’t be good enough for anything more than a food stall in one of the smaller streets. How difficult could it be to find them?
Mister Zhong scratched his head again. In the worst case, he would just ask around. “It should be alright.” He nodded at Qiu Ling before he remembered what he had seen Mister Pi do in the village if someone of slightly higher status came by. Thus he cupped his fists and bowed a little. “Thank you again for saving us and escorting us all the way to the capital. We’re really grateful.”
“No need to thank me.” Qiu Ling smiled and turned around to Jing Yi to pat his head again. “If something happens, just call for me. I’ll be there right away. If I’m a little late, I probably had something to do. Just wait a while longer then, alright? There’s no need to be afraid.”
“Mn!” The boy smiled and gripped his hand. “I’ll do that, grandfather!”
“Good boy.” Qiu Ling squeezed his hand and disappeared into the crowd. Of course, he only searched for a place out of sight before he hid his figure from the eyes of the mortals and hurried back to where the Zhongs stood.

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