Even though Jinde had that kind of thought, he didn’t say so out loud. He could get away with almost anything in front of Xin Lan just based on the other’s feelings for him but he knew not to go too far. Instead, he turned to his painting and sighed. “You’ve stayed with him for so long, what do you think? Will he be able to cope without you being around?”
Xin Lan gave a dissatisfied harrumph. He could accept his Master paying attention to his husband but coping with this brat was more difficult.
Jinde sighed again and folded the scroll up, making to get up to hide it away. If Jin Yu saw this painting, he’d have a lot to explain. He certainly didn’t want to open this can of worms.
Xin Lan also sighed and took the scroll from him, getting up in his stead and putting the scroll below the others lying on the shelf. “Your soul isn’t healed yet. Even though it’s only a matter of time, you should still take the time and rest. The better your condition is, the faster you might recuperate.”
Jinde nodded even though he wasn’t too sure if that was true. “It’s my soul that needs to recuperate. Who knows if my body would really have an impact on that. But I guess it can’t hurt to try.”
Xin Lan nodded and returned to his side. He hesitated but still spoke up in the end. “I’m sure he’ll manage. Of course, me being there was of great help to him but he is strong by himself and with that harem of his …” He shut up when Jinde gave him a peculiar look. “What?”
Jinde shook his head. He really didn’t want to talk about this.
“You mean the harem? Well, you can’t deny he’s a demon. And in their realm, there is no way for him to hold onto the throne alone. Only with the right people around him, he has a chance to survive and continue holding onto the reins. You shouldn’t be surprised by that, should you?”
Jinde shook his head. “Obviously, I shouldn’t. Jian Heng was the same. His predecessors were the same, weren’t they? And his successor was the same too.”
Xin Lan nodded. “Jin Ling did a good job when choosing his people. If he manages to maintain order among them, then things will turn out well for him. If he doesn’t …” He shook his head. There was no need to say anything more. There were no familial ties in the demon realm and even until this day, Jin Ling didn’t have a single child. So even if anyone cared about that kind of relationship there, he wouldn’t have any help.
The only ones still around where Jiang Heng’s other relatives that had survived the fight for his succession. But their relationship with Jin Ling … To put it kindly, they were waiting for him to slip. To put it more bluntly, they were all sharpening their weapons, looking for an opportunity to drive in into his body, preferably puncturing his heart or otherwise giving him a lethal injury.
“Then what is your impression? Is he able to maintain order?”
Xin Lan wanted to nod but couldn’t bring himself to do so in the end. “Normally, there’d be no doubt about that. But even while I was still around there, he was a little distracted.
“All these years, he’s been thinking about you. But with your supposed death and even your soul dissipated, that was nothing more than a fleeting thought. But he never gave up hope and with a few hints that there might be something more to this, I wouldn’t be so sure that he’ll ever give up. If he invests too much time and energy into this …” He shook his head. Jin Ling’s infatuation with Jinde was too deep. It had been back then and it was still like that now. If they couldn’t prove to him that Jinde was truly dead, then he wouldn’t give up. He would continue to search for him. And while he did so, he might lose his grasp on the throne of the demon realm.
Jinde sighed. “That child … He really doesn’t have it easy.”
Xin Lan harrumphed. For all he cared, this child could go and die. Unfortunately, his Master would be sad if that really happened. “If you want me to, I can go and have a look before accompanying that fallen god.”
Jinde shook said. “He’s been under your protection for so long. If I still don’t let him manage the demon realm on his own, that would be like not trusting him that he can do it. Furthermore, you won’t be able to stay around forever. Jin Ling … He needs to do this on his own. This is his inheritance, his task. We dragons shouldn’t get involved too much. Not forever.”
Xin Lan nodded. “In that case, I’ll just stay here with you. I’d really like to see if the way that fallen god proposed will really allow you to heal your soul.”
Jinde reached over and grabbed his hand. “You wouldn’t be feeling bad just because you didn’t think of it, would you?”
“I’ve lived for so long. I even went and challenged Tian. Shouldn’t I have known?”
“Even if you did, it wouldn’t change anything. It’s just a matter of when my soul was healed. It’s not like I’m dead, after all.”
Xin Lan gently turned that slender hand around and brushed the pale scar on Jinde’s wrist. “If I had known, then maybe you wouldn’t have needed to use the soul engraving dagger. It must have hurt.”
Jinde just gave a noncommittal smile. Saying that it hadn’t hurt would be a lie. To be honest, this type of pain was almost as bad as what he had felt when he found out that Chun Yin had passed away or when he had been rejected by him completely. He still felt that he wasn’t qualified to say anything about that though. “Even the sheltered Son of Heaven was able to engrave his soul. And he didn’t just cut it up. How could I, as a member of the dragon race, as the dragon race’s previous king, say that it hurt?”
Xin Lan continued to look at that scar. The Son of Heaven … He also wouldn’t have thought that something like this was possible. He couldn’t help but wonder what had driven a child like that to do something this grave. “Isn’t he just an idiot? You did so to save your life, to save your soul. Why did he do so? He isn’t cursed like the dragons but he still insisted to engrave his soul to mimic the curse. It’s stupid.”
Jinde just smiled and turned to look out the window. Maybe it was stupid. No, it definitely was stupid. But that was what love made people do. They became stupid enough to do the strangest things, not caring about whatever it meant to themselves. They only had one thing they thought of and that was this other person. For them, they could do everything.
He could only hope that Xin Lan would one day have the chance to experience this for himself. Being stupid once or twice … Maybe that wasn’t too bad.