When Qiang Wei returned to the room with one flask of wine in hand and another couple of flasks in his storage ring, he found a strange woman in the room. Uh … It seemed he had gotten the door wrong? He stepped back and wanted to close the door but the woman leaped to her feet.
“Ah, wait, wait!”
Qiang Wei paused. “What may I do for you, Miss?”
“Er … He said he is going to see his mother-in-law.” She pointed at the table where Qiu Ling had sat before.
“His mother-in-law?” Qiang Wei raised his brows. He had seen Madam Zhong on the lower floor just now, so the mother-in-law his king had mentioned could only be the other one. What was he doing in the Nine Heavens again? Shouldn’t he have been here to keep an eye on the crown prince’s mortal reincarnation? Had he just left him alone? “Did he say why he wanted to see her?”
“To talk to her?”
Qiang Wei suppressed a sigh. “Thank you for telling me, Miss.” He nodded at her and wanted to go back down but the woman followed him and grabbed his sleeve.
“Uh, say, the crown prince … Who is he?”
Qiang Wei raised his brows again. “Why would you ask that?”
“Mn, I was sent down to …” Hong Bao hesitated. She couldn’t tell him the truth. The crown prince’s lover hadn’t reacted how she hoped. This one would probably be the same. They were all on the crown prince’s side, these bastards! “To … help with the trial.”
Qiang Wei narrowed his eyes. Really? Wouldn’t the Heavenly Emperor rather send some guards? This should be about making sure the crown prince was safe, shouldn’t it? “And you are …?”
“Oh! I’m Hong Bao!”
“Hong Bao? I’ve never heard of you.”
“I’m … working for the palace of the Fate’s Scribe.”
“Ah.” Qiang Wei smiled. “I’m sorry. I was … a little suspicious. The crown prince is important to us dragons too.”
“Mn.” Hong Bao tightened her lips. She’d really like to know how that crown prince had gotten so many people on his side. She had to move fast if she wanted to save Shun Tao! “So could you tell me who he is now? I’ve never seen him before.”
“Of course. He’s on the lower floor. Just follow me.” He left the room and led the way down.
Hong Bao touched the dagger she had secured in her dress and tried to calm her heart. She didn’t want to hurt someone but wasn’t it better to hurt the reincarnation of the crown prince a bit than to have Shun Tao die? She didn’t believe for one moment that the crown prince’s lover would help her. He’d probably tell on her and then Shun Tao would be in even more trouble. So she didn’t have another choice. She had to make her move!
“See there? At the counter?” Qiang Wei vaguely motioned to the other side of the room.
Hong Bao looked over. There were only two children and a man frowning at a tray with tea.
“So that’s him …” Hong Bao felt disappointed. After everything his lover had said, she had expected some otherworldly beauty but the crown prince was only so-so. Even if she didn’t compare him to a handsome man like Shun Tao, he was still lacking. How had his lover been able to praise him that shamelessly if he looked like this?
“Is everything alright?” Qiang Wei examined her expression and wasn’t sure what to think. Who exactly was that woman? It certainly didn’t seem strange that the scribe’s palace would send someone down but why did she seem so … emotional?
“Yes, yes!” Hong Bao nodded and smiled. “I was just … overwhelmed for a moment.”
But you looked exactly the opposite? Qiang Wei thought so but didn’t utter his opinion. It was better not to cause any problems with the gods. Their relationship was strained enough considering that their king had wooed the gods’ crown prince for so long without the Heavenly Emperor’s consent.
“Mn … What will you do now?”
“I guess I’ll wait for His Majesty to return and guard the crown prince for the time being.”
“Oh.” Hong Bao looked at the door. What could she do? She needed to divert his attention somehow. But how? She had never done anything like that.
Qiang Wei looked at the woman who was evading his gaze and smiled. “How about sitting down and having a cup of tea? It’ll take a while until His Majesty returns and you’ll certainly stay here for some days before you report back to the scribe’s palace, won’t you?”
“Ah … yes!” Maybe this would be an opportunity! She had to hurry though. If the crown prince’s lover returned before she found a way, her mission would get even more complicated. The sooner all of this was solved the better.
Qiang Wei motioned to the table and smiled at her. It seemed like this goddess was quite young. She was probably not even a trueborn goddess but had ascended as a deity somehow. “Is this your first mission in the scribe’s palace?”
Hong Bao looked at him, completely stunned. “How did you know?”
“Er … You seemed a bit … nervous, I guess?”
“Oh.” Hong Bao looked down. Oh no! She had almost given herself away! She had to be more vigilant! She tried looking neutral but Qiang Wei only smiled.
Ah, now she was looking even more nervous. He shouldn’t have called her out on it. Maybe he should try to help her ease up a bit? Let’s see, how could he do that? He tapped the table with his fingers and narrowed his eyes, making Hong Bao only more nervous.
Oh no! This guy was seeing right through her. She should run away and try to find an opportunity when he wasn’t here! Hong Bao’s gaze flitted to the door. She didn’t know who the man in front of her was but she couldn’t imagine him to be all that good if the crown prince’s lover could kick him out onto the street like that. It shouldn’t be difficult to run away from him. But she had to be careful regardless.
“Mn, so …” Qiang Wei had finally resolved to ask a bit more about her job to divert her attention. “How long have you —”
“Oh, no! I forgot the cakes in the oven!” Hong Bao threw out this excuse, leaped to her feet and dashed out of the teahouse.
A dumbfounded Qiang Wei followed her departing figure with his gaze. This … seemed somehow strange? In the end, he could only sigh and shrug his shoulders. Whatever. With how His Majesty was, he didn’t have time for a woman anyway. Though, she had looked cute.