The trueborn gods and ascended deities started to pour onto the square in front of the Heavenly Emperor’s palace. Rong Su and Bai Fen were standing at the top of the flight of stairs, Jing He and Qiu Ling a few steps to the side, while Jinde and Leng Jin Yu had retreated almost to the side of the palace.
Jinde leaned against his husband and sighed. “Seems like the festival is about to begin.”
“And you’re not happy about that?”
“That’s not it. Where do you think Xin Lan and his partner are?”
“Why? Do you miss him?”
Jinde tsked. “What missing him? Aren’t you curious at all? Xin Lan started out as a womanizer and then stayed alone for so long. Just who is it he wants to bring?”
“Whoever it is it’s not our problem, is it?”
“Hmph. It might not be a problem for us but I’m burning with curiosity! Shouldn’t you want to satisfy me?”
“I do want to satisfy you but I’m afraid I can’t in this regard. As for everything else …” He shrugged his shoulders.
“Now you’re saying that. Weren’t you the one who insisted he wanted to come?”
The Heavenly Emperor raised a hand to make the gods below quiet down and Leng Jin Yu also stopped talking. As much as he enjoyed bickering with his husband, he wouldn’t allow himself to make the gods think less of Jinde.
Rong Su lowered his hand and cleared his throat. “This year …” He glanced up at the sky. Could he just say ‘this year’s Mei Xin festival may commence’ and call it quits?
Bai Fen reached over with a smile and poked his waist. Her husband should better not dare to do anything strange!
“This year’s Mei Xin festival …”
The poking intensified.
“Uh … It’s very special. For the first time, our son Jing He will be participating. But don’t worry! It isn’t a shame to reach the second or third place on the list of beauties.”
The gods stared at the Heavenly Emperor. Uh … what were they supposed to say to this? Sure, the crown prince was a beauty but did their sovereign need to tell them this blatantly? This was basically destroying all hope they had left! Actually, couldn’t there be a rule against someone who married out of the Nine Heavens to be banned from participating?
A few of them turned to look at the pair that was standing further away. Alright, even if they barred the crown prince from participating by that logic, there was still the person who had married into the Nine Heavens … Was Heaven toying with them?! If anything, there was only the third place left for them!
The Heavenly Emperor didn’t bother with the dark faces and went on. “The rules for the votes are the same as in the previous years. As for everything else … you may do what you want to.”
Bai Fen’s brows twitched but she forced herself to smile. “For those of you who didn’t participate in the previous years and didn’t hear about it, let me say a few words about what you can expect. The Mei Xin festival is a joyous occasion for couples and a celebration of love. If you have a partner, then you should stroll through the city and visit all the sights and events that were created in order for you to make memories together and further your feelings. Those who don’t have a partner yet may also participate. Who knows? Your other half might just be somewhere among the participants.”
The Heavenly Emperor nodded hastily. “Yes, yes. I am sure everyone is eager to go and try their luck. So we won’t keep you any longer. Please go and enjoy yourself. Don’t forget to vote.” He didn’t say ‘for my son’ but everyone understood anyway. If the crown prince didn’t end up as today’s most beautiful person, then they’d have to pay for it!
Most of the people stole a few glances at Jing He. Well, it couldn’t be denied that he was really very pretty.
On top of the stairs, Qiu Ling frowned. These guys! How could they eye his beloved in front of him?! Shouldn’t this have stopped now that they were married?! He pulled Jing He into his arms and whirled around with him, turning his back to the gods on the square and covering Jing He from their sight.
“You …” Jing He wanted to chide him but in the end, he kept quiet. Ah, never mind. His husband was just like that. Guarding him, protecting him, taking care of him … Wasn’t that what he had fallen in love with? He grabbed onto Qiu Ling’s robe and closed his eyes. They could just wait until the crowd had scattered.
Qiu Ling smiled when his lover leaned into his chest. Ah, this festival wasn’t bad at all. They should take part in this kind of thing more often! He leaned down and kissed Jing He’s cheek, making him smile just the same. “That list of beauties … where do I have to go to have your name put on it?”
Jing He laughed lightly. “I can take you over there when there are fewer people.”
“Ah, why don’t we go now? I want to be the first one to bring up your name. As your husband, shouldn’t that be my privilege?”
“Mn. That’s also true. Let’s go then.”
Qiu Ling rubbed his hands and picked Jing He up. “Just point the direction, my love!”
Jing He laughed again and pointed southward. “There’s another square a few hundred meters further. The scribes should have put the desks up there.”
Qiu Ling nodded, jumped into the air and shot to the square his beloved had pointed out. He landed … right in front of the desk the Fate’s Scribe himself had set up.
Shun Tao’s lips twitched when he saw the person in front of him. “Longjun. You probably came to —”
“I want to have my husband’s name registered!” Qiu Ling puffed out his chest without bothering to put Jing He down whose cheeks were flushed red.
“Qiu Ling …”
“Write it down, fast! I have to be the first one to suggest him!”
“Uh … Sure.” Shun Tao shook his head but dipped his brush in the ink and wrote Jing He’s name down.
“Great! How about you also write down that it was me who made the suggestion?”
“Qiu Ling …”
“That’s not what this is about.”
Qiu Ling wanted to disagree but his beloved tugged at his robe once again. “Mn? What is it, my love?”
“Put me down, please.”
“I …” Jing He glanced at the streets leading to the square. The first gods were coming over if he wasn’t wrong. Could he really let them see him like this?
Qiu Ling didn’t mind. “Ah, don’t worry about it. I am very powerful. Naturally, I’m able to carry you for much longer. You should trust your husband!”
Jing He sighed in exasperation but didn’t ask again. In the end, Qiu Ling wasn’t wrong. They were a married couple. What was wrong with his husband carrying him around like this? He hugged Qiu Ling’s neck and smiled at Shun Tao. “Fate’s Scribe. Please record my husband’s name for me.”
“Ah?” Shun Tao stared up at their crown prince. Wasn’t he normally prim and proper? How come he suddenly asked for this?
Qiu Ling beamed. “Didn’t you hear? My husband thinks I’m the most handsome!”
“Uh … Sure …” Shun Tao shook his head and recorded Qiu Ling’s name in the same manner before waving at one of his scribes.
The man hurried over, glanced at the list and nodded. Then he hurried away and went to note them down on a large board that had been mounted at the wall of a house that took up part of the square’s side.
Qiu Ling beamed. “Look at that, my love! We’re officially the most beautiful couple in the Nine Heavens now! The gods really know us well!”