Normally, Qiu Ling didn’t leave Jing Yi’s side for even half a step. So the question was: Where had he gone?
The answer to that question … Haish. It’s hard to say, but Qiu Ling was currently standing in an alley, staring intensely at his water mirror and grooming himself. Not only that, had an immortal walked by, that wasn’t affected by the spell hiding Qiu Ling from mortal eyes and ears, he might have heard him muttering to himself.
“This isn’t right, this isn’t right. I definitely have to be my most handsome self! What’s with these wrinkles? Does one need to have those ugly things as a human? Damn this!”
How come, the supposedly mighty and awe inspiring dragon king was fussing so much about his appearance? Well, the short answer to that question was: His future father-in-law was right. Qiu Ling was incredibly vain.
It wasn’t that strange if one knew that the dragon race in general paid more attention to their appearances. But Qiu Ling was still a rather extreme case. As for the reason to that … He had been asked once.
Quite a few men had wondered about it and finally made a bet to decide which of them would go and ask. Their king didn’t have a bad temper like the heavenly emperor. Well … he normally didn’t have a bad temper. It was another case if it had something to do with crown prince Jing He.
But asking such a question still seemed a problem, because who knew what their king would answer? What if they didn’t know how to react? They’d lose face in front of their king! Nobody dared to imagine that. Even though Qiu Ling might have his quirks, the people of the dragon race still worshiped him. Losing this bet … it would be a devastating blow to that person.
But the men still made the bet knowing the possible outcome. They were just too eager to know the answer. And who knew? The unlucky one might not even be them! That was, what all of them thought.
At that time, there were five men surrounding a table in a dimly lit room. The bet hadn’t taken place yet. No, right now, those men were still negotiating the terms of their bet.
“I say, we draw straws. Simple and easy.” This proposal came from Fu Heng, the strongest warrior of the dragon folk. Well, disregarding their king, that was.
“Ts. That would just be leaving it to luck!” Fu Min, who shared part of his name with Fu Heng though they weren’t actually related, crossed his arms. “I say, we decide this with our abilities.”
“Heh. I like how that sounds, Min Min! How about a fight?”
“How shameless can you get, Fu Heng! Wouldn’t the winner be clear already if we did it like that?”
“Oh?” Fu Heng lifted his brows. “So you do know that I’m stronger than you.”
“Damn, you —”
“Heh, heh, heh!” Qiang Wei grabbed both of them by the shoulders before Fu Min could lounge himself at Fu Heng. “Calm down. I agree with Fu Min that drawing straws isn’t acceptable. This is an important issue, after all. But we also can’t use something to bet that makes the winner or loser obvious. We have to decide on something, every one of us has the same chances.”
“Wouldn’t that be drawing straws? Really, this is not right, that is not right, let’s just decide on something! Anything is fine.”
Qiang Wei looked at the man next to him, who had kept mum until now. “What do you say, Xiang Yong?”
“I wouldn’t mind drawing straws. But Fu Min’s idea also isn’t bad. Whatever we decide on, we need someone to judge. Maybe we should rather discuss who we are going to ask for help. That person might have an idea what to do for the bet.”
“As expected of the smartest one of us!” Fu Min threw himself at Xiang Yong, his arms accurately circling his neck. “Xiang Yong just always knows what to do. Unlike a certain someone!” Fu Min stuck his tongue out at Fu Heng.
“Hmph.” Fu Heng pressed his lips together and turned away, but he didn’t forget to direct a vicious glare at Xiang Yong before doing so.
Qiang Wei rolled his eyes. “Come on. Let’s talk about whom we trust enough for this.”
Fu Heng snorted. “The only one all of us trust enough to consider him impartial would be His Majesty.”
“What are you even talking about? How can we ask the king if this is about him?”, Fu Min snapped.
“I didn’t say to ask him!”
Xiang Yong patted Fu Min’s back. “It’s alright. Let us ask more than one person then. If they judge together, we should all be able to trust their decision.”
“Hmph.” Fu Heng was clearly not happy, but he didn’t know how to retort. In comparison to Xiang Yong he really wasn’t that smart. He couldn’t win him in a battle of words.
“Alright. Then who do you propose?” Qiang Wei took the matter into his own hands.
The result was a major headache. Fu Heng and Fu Min tried drowning out the other’s voice through crying out names louder and louder.
Qiang Wei put a hand to his forehead. He didn’t know what to do anymore. He must have been nuts agreeing to betting with these guys!
“Mh.” The one person, who hadn’t said a word until now finally cleared his throat.
The fight between Fu Heng and Fu Min instantly stopped and both turned around. That was just the kind of effect An Bai had. He didn’t say much normally, but people tended to listen, whenever he did. That was even true for their king. Because of that, the other four were listening with rapt attention.
“How about asking the women?”
“Women?”, asked Fu Heng and Fu Min together. The two exchanged a glance and looked away just as fast.
An Bai nodded. “Yi Zan’s sister, Fu Heng’s niece, Fu Min’s two cousins and Xiang Yong’s sister.”
The other men exchanged glances. For outsiders this arrangement might have seemed strange, but they all knew how close-knit that group of women was. They wouldn’t favor any of them just because they were related.
Thus, their female relatives were chosen to be their judges. Though, one of the men should regret agreeing to that decision soon. He could have known seeing how all five women smiled mischievously after hearing of the bet. But in that moment the possibility of those women colluding to harm him wouldn’t even have crossed his mind.
“Asking the king why he cares so much about his appearance?” Fu Min’s first cousin repeated disbelievingly.
Fu Min nodded. “Yes, yes! Don’t you also want to know?”
“Ts.” His cousin gave him a look of only-you-would-think-of-something-like-that.
His second cousin nodded, too. “Isn’t it obvious? It’s because he’s naturally handsome! It would be a shame if he didn’t pay attention!”
“Aiya, don’t argue with them over that.” Xiang Yong’s sister waved their comments away. “I know exactly what to do in that case!” She looked at Yi Zan’s sister and smiled. “Since you’re asking after his appearance, your own appearance should decide who loses the bet!”
The men didn’t understand, but also didn’t dare ask. Fortunately, Yi Zan’s sister explained: “Wouldn’t it be strange if someone handsome asked him such a question? The least good-looking one should go.”
The other women all nodded. “Well, asking me …” Xiang Yong’s sister smiled apologetically and looked at Qiang Wei. “I’m sorry, but that would be you, Qiang Wei.”
“Me?” Qiang Wei was a little taken aback. He wasn’t really vain, but had anyone asked him which of them was the least attractive … He wouldn’t have offered his own name. He glanced at Xiang Yong. He wasn’t bad looking, but still a little plain. He’d probably vote him to be the least attractive one?
Unfortunately, the women didn’t seem to share his opinion. Fu Min’s two cousins nodded. “Yeah, me too!”, the first one said.
“Why do you even need to ask?”, the second one agreed.
Qiang Wei felt like objecting, but didn’t know what to say. They had agreed they trusted the women. How could he say now that he didn’t? He’d be a sore loser!
Qiang Wei looked to Yi Zan’s sister for help. She certainly wouldn’t say the same, would she?
Yi Zan’s sister had to repress a smile. “Qiang Wei … Well, I feel like you’re not bad-looking. Though the others …”
“Aiya, Ai Hua, don’t force yourself.” Fu Heng’s niece gripped her arm. “Everyone knows Qiang Wei is friends with your brother. Of course you can’t say he’s the worst looking of them. Just name someone else.”
“Well … I feel like … Xiang Yong is looking a bit plain. No offense, Xiang Yong. I just think, you could do more for your appearance.”
“None taken.” Xiang Yong smiled. It was painfully obvious, that Ai Hua had only named him so she didn’t have to take Qiang Wei. He could definitely live with that.
Fu Heng’s niece shrugged. “Do I even need to say anything? It’s obviously Qiang Wei!”
Like that it was decided that Qiang Wei was the least attractive among those five men. Not only that, besides suffering a heavy blow to his confidence, he still had to go and ask the king that damned question.
Qiang Wei bemoaned his fate, but he could do nothing about it. He had dared to make the bet so he couldn’t chicken out of it now. He had to go.
Watching him leave, Yi Zan smiled cruelly. “That’ll teach you a lesson. We’ll see if you dare take my little brother for granted the next time!”
Qiang Wei fortunately knew nothing about the fact that his relationship with Yi Zan had brought this misfortune about. He was completely concentrating on the way to Qiu Ling’s palace. His heart beat heavily entering the throne room. He and Yi Zan were probably the ones who had the closest relationship with their king, but Qiang Wei still wouldn’t have thought of asking such a question on a normal day.
Thus, he eyed Qiu Ling warily, circling around the subject for quite some time, before he finally breathed deeply and did what he promised: “Your Majesty … Why do you insist to … look handsome?”
Qiu Ling lifted his brows. “Isn’t that obvious?”
“Ah … no. It isn’t.”
Qiu Ling lifted his head, staring into space. “Imagine the demons invaded our realm and we beat them back. You know that king of theirs? Jin Ling? I can picture how they’d grovel before him, crying about how they couldn’t fight well because I was looking too hideous!”
“You …” Qiang Wei didn’t even know how to ascertain what he had just seemed to understand.
But Qiu Ling’s vivid imagination had the dragon king already fuming with rage anyway, so he didn’t notice the lack of reaction. “Damn that guy! What is he doing besides pursuing beauty? How shallow! I’ll make sure he can’t be shameless in front of me. I’ll let the whole world know that the dragon king Qiu Ling is so handsome even the demons love fighting him! And then nobody will dare say he’s more handsome than me.”
“Mn.” Qiang Wei saved the effort to comment and went to Yi Zan, sighing heavily. “What do I tell the others? In the end, wasn’t the reason just because he’s really vain? This seems to be a fault with his character.”
“Just make something up. They wouldn’t dare ask anyway. How about saying there is an old legend about how the dragon race will climb to never before seen heights under the rule of the most handsome king?”
Qiang Wei furrowed his brow. “Would anyone believe that?”
“If the only alternative is to accept that our king is just vain … They will.”
And thus, on that fateful day a new legend was born. If any of the dragons actually believed it … Who knows for sure?
Normally, Qiu Ling didn’t leave Jing Yi’s side for even half a step. So the question was: Where had he gone?