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Qiu Ling felt an alarm go off in his head. Shit! This guy … was trying to trap him.
Indeed. Xin Lan looked over his shoulder at Qiu Ling’s slightly pale face and the corner of his mouth that wasn’t covered by the mask curled up where Qiu Ling couldn’t see it. „You don’t know?“
„Well … We know each other. You could do it for the sake of our old feelings.“
„Mn. I could. Unfortunately, I’ve never liked you. In fact, rather than helping you to get your beloved out I might as well add another array on top to make sure he stays in there forever.“
Qiu Ling shut up before the words he had prepared could get out. Alright. He shouldn’t try to negotiate with him that way. He looked at the floor and pondered before clearing his throat.
„Well, you don’t like me but … the old geezer wanted me to follow in his footsteps, didn’t he? So, shouldn’t you want to help me?“
Xin Lan finally completely turned back around. „Now you’re starting to consider how I think. Unfortunately, you running after your beloved doesn’t have anything to do with you being king. I don’t see any reason to help.“
„I can only be king as long as I live. And you know … how dragons work.“
„Mn, Heaven’s curse. Without your beloved …“ Xin Lan slowly paced up and down. „At least that’s what’s being said.“
„That’s how it is.“
„Is that so? Then I really wonder how your father managed to survive all those years after betraying His Majesty.“
Qiu Ling wanted to retort but he had no words. Yes, honestly, how had his father done that? He couldn’t imagine it at all. If it was him … „You’d have to ask my father about that. I certainly can’t imagine. So please. Help me get him out of there.“
Xin Lan didn’t answer and just continued slowly walk up and down.
„What do you want me to do? Beg you? I’ll do that. I’ll even get down on my knees if you want that.“
Xin Lan stopped. „That would certainly be nice to see.“
Qiu Ling instantly moved to do what he promised but Xin Lan’s next words froze him in place.
„Unfortunately, it won’t be enough. What use is there in you kneeling down? The short pleasure I might derive from that … it’s so fleeting. That’s not something I pursue.“
Qiu Ling straightened up again. „Then what do you want? I’d do anything as long as I can get my beloved back.“
Xin Lan looked at him. Ah, hearing him say that he actually felt that this boy wasn’t so detestable. At least he was better than his father. He would actually try to stay with the one he claimed to love even if the circumstances were adverse.
„Well, it’s quite moving hearing you talk about him like this. I guess it’s not impossible for me to help you. It’s just that I’m quite a busy man seeing that I still have to accomplish the task His Majesty gave me. If I actually leave for a while to help you, then you should make this worthwhile for me.“
„I’ll do whatever I can. Is there something you want? I’ll go and get it for you.“
„Mn, there is. And you know what it is already.“ Xin Lan stepped closer and smiled. „So, I’ll help you save your beloved … if you tell me where His Majesty is.“
Qiu Ling opened his mouth but Xin Lan shook his head.
„This isn’t negotiable. There always was and always will be only one person I care about and that is His Majesty. So either you tell me what you know or … you might want to look for somebody else to help you.“
Qiu Ling lowered his gaze. He knew it! Ah, damn this. Had he known before … He shouldn’t just have talked aloud. He sighed and looked up again. „I know you admired him very much, so naturally, I’d really like to help you with this. But we both know that he is dead. In fact, you were the one who told me back then. I wasn’t in the dragon realm back when it happened. So why do you insist that I would know more about his death than you do?“
„You said it before.“
„I misspoke. As I’ve said. You also know that this is insane. So please, let’s talk about something I can really do to get your help.“
Xin Lan smiled. „Qiu Ling, you coming here and saying all that … Do you think I wouldn’t be able to find out about it on my own? I don’t know why but he probably descended to the mortal world and went into hiding somewhere. When you went there you found him by chance which ultimately made you come here when you needed help because His Majesty couldn’t help you.
In other words, I’d just have to backtrack the steps you took in the mortal realm and I would find him sooner or later. Now, there are two possibilities: One, I’ll go and search for him and finally find out what I want to while you … still have to find a way to save your beloved.
Two, you make matters easier for me and tell me where to find His Majesty and as a show of my appreciation for you saving me a bit of time I’ll free your beloved. Now, which one do you want?“
Qiu Ling closed his eyes. He didn’t want to sell the old geezer out but it seemed it was too late. He had already unwittingly revealed it. He sighed and nodded. „Alright, I’ll bring you there. But I will only do so after you’ve helped me save my beloved.“
„Tch. You think I’d fall for that?“
Qiu Ling shook his head. „I’m being serious here. You don’t like me, that’s obvious. So shouldn’t you hold up your end of the bargain first? Furthermore, I’ve already confirmed what you wanted to know. You could go and find him yourself. So, you help me first then I’ll tell you.“
Xin Lan leaned forward. „Alright. But you better don’t try to play any tricks. If you don’t do what you’ve said … or even try to hinder me in finding His Majesty then I will take revenge. And not against you but against your beloved and I assure you that you wouldn’t like what I’d do to him. Do you understand?“
Qiu Ling gritted his teeth. Yes, unfortunately, he understood too well. „Don’t worry. I wouldn’t risk his life. Never.“
„Mn, I certainly hope so.“ Xin Lan turned away. „Alright, then let’s go.“ With that, he left the room and Qiu Ling could only follow him with a sigh.
Suddenly, the great idea to find this guy to help him didn’t seem so great anymore.
Sorry, old geezer, I’ll have to sell you out in the end after all.
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