“So what do you think about him?”
“About Longjun?” Jing He’s brows drew together.
“What?” The Heavenly Empress hugged her son’s arm and smiled mischievously. “Was there somebody else who proposed to my son?”
“Mother …” Jing He shook his head. “How could this be? I can hardly believe there was even one person.”
“Don’t say that. You’re beautiful and obedient and smart. You’re such a good catch! Whoever marries you will have such a blissful life.”
Jing He just smiled. He couldn’t imagine that either.
“Mn, next time, let your mother take a closer look at him. I’ll see if that Longjun is really suitable for you.”
“Father doesn’t like him.”
“Hmph.” Bai Fen stopped walking and turned her son around, grasping his hands. “You have to promise me one thing, Jing He: Don’t you ever marry someone your father chose. His family has no taste whatsoever when it comes to arranging marriages.”
“But you …”
“Tch.” Bai Fen pulled him along again and shook her head. “Don’t even talk about it. I certainly wasn’t the woman your grandfather selected. Do you know which woman your father was supposed to marry?” She lifted her brows and watched Jing He’s thoughtful expression.
“It should be someone with a high status.”
“Oh, status she had.”
“Then … Jin Hui of the East Sea?”
Bai Fen pondered. “I’m afraid if your grandfather had had as much taste as you, I wouldn’t have become the Heavenly Empress. No, it wasn’t her. The one he decided on … was Yin Lin Lin.”
“The …” Jing He’s lips twitched as he nearly blurted out the wrong title. “The idle goddess?”
Bai Fen snorted. “I’m glad there’s still someone who knows she’s an idle goddess. How long has it been that she runs around proclaiming herself to be the goddess of love?”
Jing He didn’t dare comment on that. “Well, her status was certainly a match. Wasn’t her father the previous god of war?”
“Indeed. But don’t you think she’s a terrible choice?”
Jing He averted his face. How was he supposed to answer this? He certainly couldn’t say she was a good choice but neither did he dare to badmouth her. What if somebody besides his mother heard?
“Aiya, child, you’re too good. It’s a blessing your father didn’t marry her. She would have brought disaster to the Nine Heavens.” She smiled and patted Jing He’s arm. “And her child would never have been as great as mine.” Bai Fen sighed. “Anyway, this proposal from Longjun came quite unexpected. It’s a good thing though. You’re old enough to marry already.”
“So you think I should accept?”
“Let’s not be hasty. His status might be appropriate and he certainly is good-looking but we still don’t know how your personalities will fit. We should take it slowly and observe first of all.”
“So you want to know if we get along first?”
“Mn. And, well, I don’t like saying this but we should also see how long he persists. I don’t want to lose my lovely son to a man who loses his head in passion. If he manages to hold on for a while, I’ll be much more at ease.”
“Then …” Jing He lightly rubbed the hem of his sleeve. He had been too intimidated earlier to take a good look at Longjun. Despite the fact that he was tall and probably very strong and dressed well he couldn’t say anything more about him. He certainly hadn’t had thought of trying to gauge his personality. “Do you think he’ll hold on?”
The Heavenly Empress Bai Fen pondered. “It’s not that easy to say. I don’t know much about the dragons. I couldn’t even tell you with certainty if they only take one spouse or not. Ah, we should make sure of that first of all. I’ll certainly never hand you over to someone who’ll keep some mistress beside you.”
Jing He nodded. He wasn’t too sure about this though. If it was just an arranged marriage, he wouldn’t mind sharing his husband. In fact, it might be good since that would allow him some time for himself and lessen the burden on him. But if maybe …
He lifted his hand and lightly touched his chest. It was probably impossible. How could he have so much luck as to find someone he could truly love? Furthermore, someone who would love him back? Wasn’t that just indulging in a flight of fancy?
Bai Fen wasn’t finished with her thoughts yet. “Despite that, your status could actually prove troublesome, too. You’re expected to follow in your father’s footsteps one day while he is the king of the dragon race. You’d both have to stay in your own realm most of the time. Those aren’t the best conditions for a fulfilling marriage.”
“Then maybe we shouldn’t consider him.”
“Ah, you don’t have to worry about that yet. It might be easier with another god but it’s not like it’s impossible. We’ll slowly figure it out when that time comes. If it comes.” She took a look at her son’s face. He didn’t seem all that enthusiastic but she didn’t worry about that.
Jing He might be of marriageable age but that didn’t mean that he wasn’t young. Something like love … he hadn’t experienced it yet. Well, maybe she could entrust the task of making him fall in love to Longjun. Mn, it was a good idea but she had to make sure he was a good guy first. Her son was too serious. If he actually fell in love, he probably wouldn’t be able to take it if that person had only played with him.
If she remembered correctly, the dragons were formidable warriors. Maybe her brother would know about him?
“Alright.” Bai Fen patted her son’s hand and smiled. “It was a long day and your father will hog you to himself tomorrow, too. You should get some rest.”
“Mn. Thank you, you should retire soon, too, mother.”
“Certainly.” Bai Fen watched her son go. As soon as he disappeared from her sight, she turned on her heel and hurried to her brother’s palace. The guards bowed but she didn’t have time to acknowledge them for long. That Longjun would return soon enough. Until then, she needed to have a better understanding of him.
“Qiang Yan! Qiang Yan!” Bai Fen stormed right into his quarters. If anyone saw her like that, they would probably wonder if this really was the Heavenly Empress.
The God of War looked up and sighed. He probably should have expected her to come by. “I also don’t know much about him.”
“I don’t care. Just tell me everything that you do know. It doesn’t matter how little it is.” Bai Fen sat down next to him and pricked up her ears. She needed to get at least a rudimentary understanding of her possible future son-in-law.
“Well … he is known as the strongest warrior of the dragon race. His father was the late king Jinde’s right-hand man, Chun Yin. He was famed for his sword arts so the current Longjun probably learned a lot in that regard. I haven’t seen him fight, though. It’s just an inference.”
“That’s good.” A warrior was indeed good. She wouldn’t have to worry about her son’s safety then. “What else? Do you know anything about his personality?”
“Not really. He’s a bit … reclusive. If it isn’t something where he absolutely has to come like your husband’s birthday banquet today, then he won’t come. Even if he’s there …” Qiang Yan shook his head. “I’m afraid he’s just physically present. He doesn’t really pay attention to what is happening.” He snorted. “Actually, I’ve met him a few times already but each time one of his subordinates introduces me as if it was our first meeting.”
Bai Fen laughed. “I bet you’ve never experienced something like that!”
Qiang Yan smiled wryly. “Wait until it happens to you. If I understood correctly, he wanted to come by tomorrow to talk about the wedding?”
“Mn. Knowing Rong Su he’ll probably ignore him, though. Tch, such a childish man. Why did I marry him?”
“He was good-looking back then.”
Bai Fen slapped her brother’s shoulder and shook her head. “I’m a little afraid for Jing He’s sake. Looking at the surface that Longjun wouldn’t be a bad choice but we don’t know anything about him.”
“And your husband doesn’t like him. Do you really expect Jing He to accept a man his father doesn’t approve of?”
Bai Fen leaned back and sighed. “That’s the second problem. I doubt it’ll be a problem to get to know Longjun better. If he really is as crazy about Jing He as he seemed today …”
“If it lets you be at ease: I’m sure about that. As I said, he normally doesn’t pay attention to anyone around him. The way he looked at Jing He today …” Qiang Yan shook his head and snorted again. “I wouldn’t think it possible if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes but that was probably love at first sight. He’s head over heels for your son.”
“That’s good, that’s good.” Bai Fen’s brows furrowed a little, enveloping her in a gloomy air.
Qiang Yan sighed. “Jing He, that boy, he stops smiling as soon as he thinks nobody is looking. If Longjun manages to get his heart but isn’t serious it might just end in a tragedy like back then. But I really think he’s honest with his feelings. Maybe even a bit too honest. Today was a bit embarrassing to watch. But I’d say Jing He needs such a spouse. He’s … too focused on upholding his image. He needs someone to show him that he doesn’t need to be perfect.”
Bai Fen nodded. “I just hope Longjun can really be that person. Well, we’ll see about that. Qiang Yan, be a darling and try to find out a bit more about him. We need as much information as we can get.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’m sure everything will be alright.”
“So what do you think about him?”