“A fallen god?” Qiu Ling furrowed his brow even more. “I’ve never heard of them.”
Jing He seemed surprised. “Not? Well, there aren’t many of them. They are even too few to call them a race of their own. Moreover … fallen gods aren’t like us. They were gods in the beginning but then something happened that …” He paused and silently rubbed the cup in his hands. “I guess it’s not wrong to say they lost their minds. The reason for that can be anything. In Xing’s case, it was probably his loneliness. He had no family or friends just his husband and then it seemed like he would lose him, too. He couldn’t take it any longer and these thoughts, this fear of his …”
“Mn. I understand.” This time, Qiu Ling reached indeed over and grabbed his hand. Jing He retracted his own, though. He really was too proper to accept that so soon. Qiu Ling leaned back, too. “He must have felt really lonely. It might have been alright had he never known Tian but after finding out how his life could be with somebody else at his side he probably feared losing that support.”
Jing He lowered the cup in his hands and just looked at him. Qiu Ling wasn’t sure if he saw it right but … it seemed as if something had changed between them just then? Before he could be sure, Jing He had already looked down.
“I think so, too. Unfortunately, Xing was too weak to fight for this love of his. It wasn’t that bad, though. Some gods descend into a killing frenzy after they are fallen and slaughter whoever stands in their way. Xing … he just vanished. He fled immediately after he had fallen.”
“He probably didn’t want his husband to know … Mn, then how did the gods know that he fell? Did Tian search for him and still find him in the end?”
“He did search for him but it isn’t known whether he found him or not. It’s rather that there is a phenomenon that shows when someone falls. The gods just needed to look at those of them that were still there to know that it was Xing.”
“I see.” Qiu Ling frowned. “But if Tian didn’t find him … then why is this story so important to the gods?” He had thought that maybe Tian had become even more important in the future or that maybe those two had a child that later on became the new Heavenly Emperor. After all, this story had something to do with Jing He’s title as the Son of Heaven. It couldn’t be over yet.
“Well, the day Tian left the gods found out that he was someone they shouldn’t have provoked. Tian. His name alone might have been enough of a clue. He was Heaven himself, the one who had established the Nine Havens and all those other realms and judged the different races since the beginning of time.”
Even Qiu Ling didn’t know what to say to this revelation. The gods had managed to drive the one Heaven had fallen in love with to insanity. Someone of his status … would he just let it go?
“He slew the Heavenly Empress and all children of the Heavenly Emperor except for one. Then, he cursed the gods. After that, he left and couldn’t be found anymore.” Jing He sighed. “It is said that … he traveled through all the immortal and mortal realms in search of Xing but nobody knows if those two ever reunited.”
“So, in remembrance of this story, the gods started to take the children of the Heavenly Emperor more seriously?”
Jing He smiled lightly. “There were many changes. First of all, the gods stopped to take more than one wife. And yes, they did pay special attention to the children of the Heavenly Emperor after that. Well, ‘children’ might be the wrong word. Since that day the Heavenly Emperor never managed to have more than one and even that one child … often died.”
“So they became even more important to the gods. Just like Xing should have been.”
Jing He nodded. “Yes, just like that.”
“So, the gods aren’t thrilled that a dragon would dare to set his sights on their Son of Heaven.”
Jing He didn’t dare to nod but Qiu Ling took his silence as acquiescence.
“There is one thing I don’t understand, though: Xing was the Heavenly Emperor’s son but Tian’s lover. So shouldn’t they be calling you Heaven’s lover instead?”
Jing He coughed. “You … How … How can you even say that?”
Qiu Ling grinned. Ah, he would say that once again if he was given the chance. He had never seen Jing He lose his composure like this! He was completely intrigued. “Ah, I’m sorry!” He leaped to his feet and hurried over. His hand slipped below Jing He’s hair and silently rubbed his back. Ah, he couldn’t believe how silky his hair was!
“Well, if you were Heaven’s lover then I might consider holding back. But since you’re not …” He smiled and just continued until Jing He really couldn’t stand it anymore.
He rose from his seat and took a step back. “Longjun, please behave yourself. This … this is highly inappropriate.”
“Mn.” Qiu Ling had nodded but his gaze had said exactly what he was thinking: You might still call it inappropriate now but I won’t stop until there is no need to think that anymore.
“Why don’t you have a seat again, Longjun?”
“Sure.” Qiu Ling sat down again as if he had been nothing but well-behaved the whole time.
Jing He hesitated a bit but finally took a seat again, too. “About why it is the Son of Heaven … I guess they found it inappropriate to call the person his lover. It is said that Tian called the Heavenly Empress too conceited before he slew her. The gods tried to be more humble since then.”
“They should be pretty happy with you then. You’re … a great beauty but still so humble.” Qiu Ling’s eyes gleamed. In his eyes everything about Jing He was perfect. He had no idea how that Xing had been but Jing He couldn’t be any less perfect. In fact, he was certain that his Jing He was even better.
Jing He ignored his statement and just continued with the original topic. “There is also the belief that through Tian’s actions the gods were created anew so he is seen as their father. The Heavenly Emperor’s child … it is his creation. Thus, the Son of Heaven.”
“The title comes with some expectations …” Jing He’s eyes dulled for a moment but he soon smiled again and picked up his cup.
That was one of the expectations he had just mentioned. The Son of Heaven … he couldn’t have that kind of personality. He had to be a happy person. Someone who could be loved by everyone and who could embrace everyone with equal feelings of goodwill.
Qiu Ling picked up his own cup and reciprocated the smile. “It seems like I’ll have to show the gods I’m not any worse than Tian then.”
“You …” Jing He had looked exasperated but deep down he actually hoped that Qiu Ling would. Because, even though Qiu Ling himself didn’t know about it, Jing He had started to ask himself that day if maybe, just maybe the person sitting opposite him that very moment might be his own Tian. He certainly longed for such a person in his life.
In case anyone is wondering about the story of Xing and Tian: Tian indeed managed to find Xing several centuries later. The story of the two doesn’t have a happy end, though.