When An Bai and Xiang Yong returned from the Nine Heavens they made their way to their king’s palace first to report how their mission had gone. Before they even reached the gates they were ambushed.
Qiu Ling grabbed An Bai by the lapel and pulled him closer. “You!” He knitted his brows and took a closer look at An Bai’s face. Ugh. This guy was really handsome! He definitely couldn’t let him get close to his beloved. Well, never mind. He would find a way to prevent that later. First things first. “Tell me a good present for my beloved!”
An Bai stared at his king blankly. Why was he asking something like this? “Your Majesty, we’ve just returned from offering the Heavenly Emperor our apology. I don’t think —”
“I don’t care! Tell me a good present for my beloved! It can’t be some flower though. I want something impactful.”
An Bai wanted to turn to Xiang Yong for help but his king turned him in the other direction.
“I didn’t ask him! Who is he even?”
“I’m Xiang Yong, Your Majesty.”
“I don’t care! Now tell me a good present for my beloved.” He stared at An Bai intently and tried to gauge something from his expression. Unfortunately, it was completely blank. An Bai hadn’t recovered from the shock yet.
Qiu Ling frowned. Could this guy really be planning something? Had he actually thought of a good present but didn’t want to tell him? What a bastard!
Behind him, Xiang Yong coughed. “Uh, Your Majesty, even though you didn’t ask me, my opinion is that it should be something with a cultural impact.”
Hearing a few sensible words did wonders for An Bai’s condition. He nodded. “Indeed! That’s a good idea. We’ve already apologized to the Heavenly Emperor but His Highness might also have some misgivings about the way you behaved. Giving a cultural present and explaining its significance to the dragon race would remind him that there are certain differences between our races and thus lessen the impact of your …” An Bai reeled. He couldn’t say ‘your rude behavior’ to his king, could he?
Qiu Ling tilted his head. “My?”
“Uh, your … direct approach.”
Seeing his friend feeling helpless Xiang Yong piped up again. “Right. It will help him understand that it is considered normal in the dragon race and something he can feel honored by.”
Qiu Ling nodded. What this Xiang Yong guy said wasn’t wrong. His beloved had indeed seemed calmer after he explained that matter. He already knew now but it probably wouldn’t be wrong to reinforce this knowledge again. So, now he only needed an appropriate cultural present. Something really typical for their race …
Qiu Ling tilted his head further. Come to think of it … Hadn’t his father told him about that super-romantic present he had gotten for that old geezer back then? If he remembered correctly, then his old man had said that it was an old custom of the dragon race. So maybe …
Qiu Ling’s face lit up. Yes! This was certainly the best possible present! He let go of An Bai’s lapel and grabbed his shoulders instead, a grin on his lips. “You did well! I’ll be generous and forget about your previous offense.” Then he dashed off.
An Bai blinked.
Xiang Yong blinked too. “What previous offense?”
“I don’t have any idea. But rather than that … I have a very bad feeling about this. He was so excited. Who knows what he thought of?”
Xiang Yong sighed. “Probably nothing good. Was there anything else in the treasury we could bring the Heavenly Emperor?”
An Bai shook his head. “Not after we offered the phoenix feather in apology. There’s nothing greater than that.”
Xiang Yong sighed again. “We shouldn’t have given that. With how His Majesty is, it should have been obvious he’d make another blunder soon. Eh, maybe we should get Fu Heng to go out and hunt for some things? Even if it’s not a phoenix feather, something from a mythical beast might still be worth a try. And the Heavenly Emperor wouldn’t be so unreasonable to expect something of that scale every time, would he?”
“Every time …” An Bai gave a sigh himself and turned away from the palace. “Let’s just wait and see what kind of atrocity His Majesty planned this time. We’ll deal with it afterward.”
“Mn. That will probably be for the best.” Xiang Yong followed him, trying to ignore the nagging feeling that their king would once again make things difficult for them.
The two of them had no idea just how justified their worries were.
Their king vanished for the entire night and half of the following day and when he had finally secured his present he naturally didn’t return to the dragon realm to ask for anybody’s opinion. He was sure he had found the perfect present! Thus he immediately hurried to the Nine Heavens.
Of course, Qiu Ling didn’t take the risk to go through the front gate. Who knew if that bastard of a Heavenly Emperor would try to hinder him from seeing his beloved? No, Qiu Ling very naturally sneaked in again and secured a position on the roof of Jing He’s palace to make sure the situation was favorable.
Mn, it looked good. There weren’t many guards around since his beloved liked it quiet anyway and nobody else had come to see him either. This was probably the best opportunity he would get. Unfortunately, there was still something he had to do first. Well, as long as he was fast nothing should prevent him from presenting his gift afterward.
He quietly jumped down from the roof and landed in front of the window. He crouched down to make sure his beloved wouldn’t see him if he was inside and cautiously raised his head until he could peer over the windowsill.
There it was! That failed first present. Argh, he would forget about it! This stupid weed had never existed in the first place! His cultural, super-romantic and heartfelt present from today was the real one!
He grabbed the plant including the pot and without a better alternative, threw it into his spatial ring. There. Now it was out of sight. His beloved would have forgotten about this embarrassing part of their relationship soon and move on to only remember what would happen today.
Qiu Ling smiled brightly and peeked further inside to find out where his beloved was right now. Mn! There he was! And he was looking splendid in that robe. The fabric was of the color the sky showed at sundown while apricot-colored embroidery added some highlights. Mn, how beautiful! He should really go in now and take a closer look while he presented his gift!
With that thought, Qiu Ling sneaked into Jing He’s palace and pretended to have come in from the main entrance. “Your Highness.”
Jing He flinched at the sudden voice behind him. He took a deep breath before getting up and turning around with a smile. “Longjun, you came to visit me again?”
Qiu Ling nodded and stepped forward, his gaze appreciating the robe on Jing He’s slender body. Mn, it was even more beautiful looking at it from up close. His beloved’s shiny, black hair contrasted well with the color, especially with the lighter embroidery. Ah, what a feast for the eyes! He wanted to look at this for the whole day! Just why had he taken so long to get his present? He should have come by way sooner. Now he had missed out on seeing this beautiful vision for several hours already.
Jing He grew self-conscious when Qiu Ling didn’t say anything and just stared at him. Had he done something wrong? Or did the dragon king just not know what to say? Maybe he should find something to say? But what should he say? Ah! He could just refer to the previous day. After that, he could see how Longjun reacted and go further from there on.
“Right. The flower —”
Qiu Ling tensed. Oh no. His beloved still remembered it! He had to do something! “What flower?”
Jing He blinked and took a peek at Qiu Ling’s face. The dragon king seemed confused as if he had no idea what he was talking about. Jing He lowered his gaze again. What was happening? “I mean the flower from yesterday. The one with the little white petals?”
Qiu Ling’s smile grew strained. Thankfully, Jing He wasn’t looking at him though. He could still get out of this and wash this stain from his history! “Little white petals? That sounds like a weed from the dragon realm.”
Jing He blinked in surprise and his gaze flitted to the window sill. Sure enough, there was no flower with little white petals. Ah, so the dragon king had probably found out what this so-called ‘flower’ really was and taken it away since he was embarrassed. It was his own fault for bringing it up.
Jing He lowered his head further and nodded. “It’s my fault. I must have remembered it wrong.”
“How could that be? You must have had a nice dream of me where I gave you a beautiful flower. How could that be wrong?”
Jing He’s smile tensed. Was this really something you were supposed to say to someone who was more or less a stranger? Why would he dream of him?
Qiu Ling didn’t mind that his beloved didn’t answer. Instead, he grew even happier. Ah, look at this! He’s so shy. How lovely! He cleared his throat and prepared to hand over his present.
“Well, speaking of presents. I came to give you something.”
He took Jing He’s hands and stuffed his present into them with a bright smile. Look at this, my love! Don’t you think it’s very fitting? So romantic!
When Jing He looked at his present his face paled. This … What was this? His hands shook and he gulped.
What the dragon king had stuffed into his hands … was obviously a bloody heart.