RSH Stratagem 4: Choose a Heartfelt Present (1)

Since he couldn’t make time move faster he could only try to make the most out of this time when he had to be separated from his beloved. With that thought in mind, Qiu Ling sent someone to get Fu Min for him. This person had done such a good job at gathering information about his beloved! He should trust him to help a little more.
When a guard came by his house to tell him that his king had specifically requested to see him and none of the others Fu Min felt like walking on clouds. He immediately floated over to the palace and right into Qiu Ling’s study. “My king! You called for me?”
Qiu Ling nodded earnestly and even made the effort to wave at the chair opposite him.
Fu Min wanted to prostrate himself at his king’s feet and turn into a happy pile of goo. Ah, he was so lucky! His king actually remembered him! He was even so nice!
Qiu Ling waved again when Fu Min didn’t react, his brows twitching. This guy should better hurry up! He still had to plan for tomorrow!
Under his king’s oppressive stare Fu Min finally sat down but he was still beaming. “How may I help you, Your Majesty?”
“We have to devise a plan how I’ll woo my beloved tomorrow!”
“Uh … tomorrow? Are An Bai and Xiang Yong back already? Did the Heavenly Emperor allow you back in?”
“Who cares?” Qiu Ling frowned. “My beloved invited me to come back tomorrow so I’m going to see him whether that old man likes it or not.” He raised his chin and harrumphed.
Hmph. That bearded old man, he could forget that he would abstain from seeing his beloved just because of some whim. He hadn’t done anything wrong! He had just expressed his feelings. It might have been a bit too direct for the gods but even his beloved himself hadn’t minded. The old man should get over it.
“His Highness invited you? How did that happen?”
Qiu Ling smiled with an ‘I’m glad that you asked’-expression. “Well, I did what you told me when I visited him today and he seemed really happy so we agreed to see each other again tomorrow.”
Fu Min paled. “You went to see His Highness today? While the Heavenly Emperor’s ban was still in order? How did you even do that?”
Qiu Ling blinked. “I sneaked in, ah. The guards in the Nine Heavens are nothing much. Actually, I think it would be better some of our people would guard him. Isn’t he way too vulnerable with only those sad sacks around?” Qiu Ling tilted his head. This issue really deserved some thought. If he could break in as easily as that, wouldn’t other people be able to do the same? He needed to make sure nobody would threaten his beloved!
Fu Min rubbed brow. Alright. His king had broken into the Nine Heavens while he had been expressly banned from going there and while two of his subjects were trying to get back on the Heavenly Emperor’s good side. He probably shouldn’t think more deeply on that. Fu Min nodded to himself before looking up at his king again.
“So, you’re going to see His Highness again tomorrow. Was there anything special today you could take up tomorrow?”
“Hm …” Qiu Ling pondered. “Well, I gave him a present.”
“A present?”
“Mn! It was a pretty white flower. Jing He was really touched! He immediately planted it.”
“Ah, that sounds good! Then you could ask how it is doing tomorrow to break the ice. What do you know about the flower? Maybe there is something else that could be used?”
Qiu Ling’s expression grew troubled. “I don’t know anything about it. I just thought it suited him because it’s so pretty.”
“Uh. Uhm … How about … asking An Bai for help?”
“An Bai?!” Qiu Ling straightened up. He certainly wouldn’t ask his love rival! He hadn’t forgotten that that guy wanted to get his hands on his beloved too!
Fu Min’s eyebrows shot up. Why did it seem as if His Majesty didn’t like An Bai? “Well, An Bai knows a lot about plants. Actually, he knows a lot about many things. So asking him would be the fastest way to find out more about it.”
“Aren’t you good at finding out things too?” Qiu Ling wasn’t convinced. He definitely wouldn’t ask his love rival!
Fu Min squirmed on the spot. So his king actually thought so highly of him! Ah, he never would have thought! Unfortunately, he couldn’t just bask in this glory. He had to make sure his king knew that he wasn’t the right person for this job. “Well, yes, but that’s more about people. If we’re talking about things and all that abstract stuff, you should better go and see An Bai. He really knows a lot.”
“Hmph.”
Fu Min scratched his head. Alright. That hadn’t worked too well. “Uh, well, do you still have one of those flowers? I’ll take a look to see if I know it. Maybe there is at least some information I can provide.”
Qiu Ling gave a smile in return. Ah, it was so nice to work with such good people! “Of course, I have! I feel like this has to be a specialty of our dragon realm. There are really a lot of them.” He stood up and went to the window to point to a flower growing in the courtyard.
Fu Min blinked. There was actually some special flower in His Majesty’s courtyard? He pondered and finally thought that it made sense. Hadn’t the previous dragon king been highly attained in the refinement of herbs? Maybe there were still some of his plants left in the —
Fu Min stared at the ‘flower’ his king had pointed out and his eyelids twitched. He turned around to him somewhat mechanically. “Your Majesty, I think it would be better to find another gift to bring over tomorrow. This one … it isn’t too good. Find something with some cultural value or the like.” Ah, his king couldn’t be helped anymore. He wanted to go home!
Qiu Ling blinked. He really couldn’t understand what Fu Min was going on about. Wasn’t this a really pretty flower? And his Jing He had especially liked it!
At the same time, the Heavenly Empress reached her son’s palace in the Nine Heavens. “Jing He!” She called out to him but there was no response. Her heart thumped and she hurried in, only to find her son sitting at the table and staring outside blankly.
She hurried over and grabbed his hands, her expression anxious. “Jing He! What happened? Don’t you feel well?”
Jing He slowly emerged from his thoughts and looked up, still a little dazed. “Ah, mother, I … I’m sorry. What did you say?”
Bai Fen observed her son’s expression and finally relaxed. It seemed he had only been deep in thought. He was alright. She took a relieved sigh and sat down next to him. “What had you this preoccupied? You didn’t even notice me coming in.”
Jing He lowered his gaze and smiled. “I’m sorry, mother. I didn’t want to slight you.”
“Aiya! What are you talking about, child? Now, you still don’t want to tell your mother what you were thinking about? If you don’t, I’ll have to assume it was about a man.”
Jing He’s cheeks flushed. “That … It’s not like that!” He looked away, his hands twisting in his lap. “I … I just …”
Bai Fen looked at her son, stunned. “You were really thinking of Longjun?” It couldn’t be that this man had indeed managed to do what he said and already made her son fall in love with him, could it? No. This was impossible. It was Jing He they were talking about here. With how closed-off he was, it was impossible for him to fall in love this fast.
Jing He didn’t know what to say so he just stayed silent.
Bai Fen sighed. “Don’t be like this, ah. You’ve seen him so much the last few days. It’s normal to think about him every now and then.”
“I just … I was wondering about his gift.”
“Gift?”
“Mn.
“You mean the wine he gave … your father?”
“No. He …” Jing He stood up and took a few steps, feeling restless. Ah, why had his mother had to see him musing about it? Now he’d have to explain. He wet his lips and turned around. “He came by today and gifted me a … flower.” He motioned at the window sill where Qiu Ling’s gift was basking in the sun.
The Heavenly Empress looked at it and her brows raised. Wasn’t this … No, she had probably seen wrong. She stood up and went closer to make sure but it still remained the same. She turned to look at her son. “Isn’t this Drifting Cloud Grass?”
Jing He looked away instead of an answer. He really couldn’t bring himself to say it out loud!
Bai Fen looked at her son’s embarrassed expression and laughed out loud. “Ahaha, so Longjun came by, declared his love for you again and gifted you a weed? Ah, I can’t believe it! Jing He, you should have told me immediately! How can you keep such a hilarious story to yourself?” She clutched her stomach and waved her other hand to get some fresh air.
“Mother!” Jing He was less happy about this. His cheeks had turned red in embarrassment again but he still ran over when he saw his mother having difficulty breathing. “Are you alright?” He took her arm and got his hands patted in return.
“Ah, this Longjun … He probably thought he was giving you something very special.”
“He did. I … I asked him if he was knowledgeable about plants. He said he wasn’t. Do you think … I should have told him? But I felt that that would be impolite.”
Bai Fen patted her son’s shoulder. “Don’t worry too much about it. Even if Longjun ever finds out, he’ll be able to take it. I feel like … he has very thick skin.”
Well, she was right about that. And her self-proclaimed future son-in-law was once again going to prove this fact in the dragon realm. Ah, he didn’t mind at all! As long as it could make him acquire his beloved, he didn’t need a thing as useless as face. Well, not that face anyway. He only needed the one you could look at to make sure he was to his beloved’s liking.

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