In Zhong Gang’s teahouse, people were conversing while tasting the snacks and drinking Nie Huang’s tea. Nobody regretted that they had listened to the guests from yesterday and decided to come here to give the teahouse a try too. The happy atmosphere really made people want to linger.
Well … As long as they ignored a certain table, that was. Madam Zhong observed the expression on her self-proclaimed son-in-law’s face and sighed. How long had it been? She still hadn’t found out what had happened. She only knew that when she came back from the kitchen, Guanyu had been lying on the ground bawling her eyes out, the old woman that had come by yesterday was totally stunned and Shao Hai was gently hugging a blushing Jing Yi. Since then, Qiu Ling’s expression seemed to grow darker with every passing hour.
Well, although Madam Zhong didn’t know what exactly had happened she could imagine half of it: Guanyu must have bothered her son again and Shao Hai stepped in, stunning the old woman and angering the Daoist Master.
What she didn’t understand was that the Daoist Master was furious but hadn’t done anything to the boy. Not that she wasn’t happy about it. This was a blessing but it made her feel strange nonetheless. This man seemed to be the petty type. He shouldn’t be sitting around and only stare off into space.
Madam Zhong sighed again and continued to work. She didn’t know if it was because Zhong Gang had a good reputation or if the customers from yesterday had spread the word that far but today, there wasn’t even one table on the lower floor unoccupied and even most of the rooms on the upper floor had been rented.
Since they opened the doors in the morning, Madam and Mister Zhong had been running around, getting more tea, more snacks, a bit of water, taking away the used dishes, answering some question … There was too much to do and not enough time and hands.
But both of them were smiling. If the teahouse was doing good, they wouldn’t have disappointed Zhong Gang and the good life they could live in the capital wasn’t just them taking advantage of him and his family but the result of their own hard work. With that in mind, Madam Zhong didn’t pay any more attention to Qiu Ling and concentrated on what she could do to make this chance Zhong Gang had given them up to him.
When a young man entered the teahouse, she rushed over with a smile. She wanted to greet him like she always did but the words got stuck in her throat.
This man … She looked at his clothes and gulped. It looked quite similar to what the Daoist Master had worn when he showed his true appearance. Was he here because of him? Madam Zhong looked over and indeed: The man nodded but then stepped past her and went over. The Daoist Master lifted his hand.
Qiang Wei stared at his king’s hand. What was this? Did his king want something? Looking at his face, it seemed just as listless and grumpy as before when he contacted him in the Nine Heavens. Maybe … his king wanted to be consoled?
Qiang Wei bent down, extended his arms and tried to give him a hug.
Qiu Ling lifted his brows, not understanding what was happening. Where was the wine? Before he had time to ask, he was embraced tightly. His eyelids twitched. What was happening here?! Why was this guy …
Qiu Ling’s gaze slipped to Jing Yi who was sitting next to Shao Hai at the counter, stealing peeks at the older boy every now and then. Wuwuwu, his beloved didn’t care at all.
Qiu Ling’s heart throbbed. He had followed his beloved down and suffered seeing him being so close to somebody else. And now someone was just shamelessly hugging him and his beloved didn’t care. No, that was an understatement. He didn’t just not care, he didn’t even look! He was completely concentrating on that merchant’s son, not even considering looking over at him!
This was … Ah, how could it have turned out like this? He wanted to go back to the Nine Heavens!
Qiu Ling pushed Qiang Wei off and frowned. “Where’s the wine?”
Qiang Wei tightened his lips. He hadn’t expected a ‘thank you’ but at least a greeting would have been nice. “I got some from Lao Chun so Your Majesty should be careful.”
Lao Chun was the one to go to in the dragon realm if you wanted wine. Brewing it, drinking it, cooking with it, talking about it, gifting it to others, … Whatever could be done with wine, he would do it. It seemed to be the sole meaning of his life. Naturally, he also had a humongous collection of wine in his cellar. He had everything one could think of and some things that people normally wouldn’t think of. Even if someone wanted to get the dragon king drunk in as short a time as possible Lao Chun would have something that could get the job done.
With a solemn look, Qiang Wei took out a big flask.
Qiu Ling frowned. “What? That’s it? When I told you to bring some wine over I meant something a little different.”
“Just try it.” Qiang Wei pushed the wine forward and sat down opposite his king. He would have preferred standing but he had already drawn quite a few glances.
Speaking of which … Qiang Wei looked around. Why were there so many women? Almost all of the tables were taken up by women. The men scattered in the teahouse seemed lost between them.
Qiang Wei eyed his king. It couldn’t have been him, could it? No, he had taken on a mortal appearance and even though he was still good-looking, he wasn’t as breathtaking as his true self. Those women wouldn’t go that far. Besides … quite a few of them were old. They couldn’t all have a weird taste for seemingly younger men, could they?
Then what was the reason? He wanted to observe further but Qiu Ling already opened the wine and Qiang Wei didn’t dare let him out of his sight anymore. Who knew what would happen when he became drunk?
Qiu Ling carelessly threw the flask’s lid aside and waved at Madam Zhong to bring him a cup. Madam Zhong had already seen the flask but didn’t want to go get a cup. This man … he couldn’t be trying to drown his sorrow in wine, could he? She didn’t want to see that.
Qiang Wei furrowed his brow and turned around. “Woman, are you blind? Get His Ma—” He coughed. “Get him a cup.”
“How are you talking to my mother-in-law?!” Qiu Ling kicked his shin.
Qiang Wei almost doubled over. Damn it! What did he come down here for?! It couldn’t be that his king didn’t just want to drink but also itched to beat him up?
Qiu Ling didn’t care about Qiang Wei’s feelings. Instead, he smiled at Madam Zhong. “Mother-in-law, please be so kind and get your son-in-law a cup, alright? You see, some guest came to visit him. How couldn’t you let them have a cup so they can enjoy themselves?”
Madam Zhong sighed. In the end, him drinking was better than him doing nothing. She had been worried about his unusual behavior anyway. Maybe this would lighten his mood. She nodded and got two cups from the kitchen. “Don’t drink too much. It’s not good for your health.”
Qiang Wei wanted to chastise her for speaking to the king like that but his shin once again made the acquaintance of Qiu Ling’s foot.
“Thank you, mother-in-law. Ah, look! Qiang Wei is so touched by your warm welcome that there are even tears in his eyes.”
Qiang Wei stared at him. Bastard! If you weren’t my king I’d kill you!
Qiu Ling smiled, knowing exactly what he was thinking. “Even if I wasn’t your king, you wouldn’t be able to,” he mouthed back at him, stunning Qiang Wei.
Damn. His thoughts had been seen through. “Ah … haha, look, how nice! Here, here, let me fill your cup.” He took the cups and filled them in record-breaking time.
Qiu Ling smiled and sipped the wine. “Mn, not bad. Come on, let’s drink!” He raised his cup and downed the rest of the wine.
Yes, today, he’d get as drunk as he could possibly get. He’d not stop until he was unable to stand straight! Maybe then, his damned heart would stop hurting.