An Bai managed to send the God of War on his way but the next morning a smiling god stood in front of his door again and motioned outside. “Scholar An Bai, how about following me to the Nine Heavens?”
An Bai furrowed his brow but still stepped outside. Ah, what else could he do? Their king had fallen in love with the Son of Heaven. This God of War was the Heavenly Empress’ older brother so, in the end, he was the uncle of their king’s future consort. Could he deny such a person a favor? Certainly not.
Especially not in the current situation where their king was still trying to woo the Son of Heaven. Everything they did and said right now would reflect on their king and might very well lower his chances to realize this relationship if they made a blunder. On the other hand, they might help to make their king and the Son of Heaven become closer if they managed to raise the gods’ impression of them.
With this possibility in mind, An Bai closed the door behind him and nodded at the God of War. “If the God of War requires my help with something, it’ll be my pleasure to assist. May I ask what this is about?”
Qiang Yan smiled happily when the scholar he had found reacted this sensibly. “Well … I’m a little embarrassed to bring it up but Scholar An Bai certainly remembers that I asked about a favor yesterday?”
“Sure. You didn’t mention yet what it was though. Could it be the God of War already wants me to do him this favor today?”
Qiang Yan nodded and motioned for An Bai to set off. He certainly couldn’t allow him to get second thoughts and remain in the dragon realm when he heard what this was about.
An Bai could imagine what the other man thought but he still soared into the sky and followed him toward the Nine Heavens. He had no other choice, after all. Ah, as long as their king managed to woo the Son of Heaven … All sacrifices were worth it.
After all, not attaining the person of his heart might very well result in death for a dragon. They couldn’t allow that under any circumstances! Their king might not act very responsibly but he had still managed to bring a time of peace to them. Putting their own preferences aside for a while was the right thing to do if it could assure that things would stay this peacefully.
An Bai gave a smile when he thought of that. He turned to Qiang Yan in mid-flight. “The God of War has no need to be this tense. I know this probably isn’t the right way to go about this but let me be frank: Our king is very much in love with the Son of Heaven. As a scholar of the dragon race, I have also long admired His Highness and if I might boldly declare this, I am very much in favor of this union. So if there is anything I can do for the gods, then the God of War just needs to say so. Whatever it is I’d be happy to lend my help.”
Qiang Yan smiled back. “I thank you for being this frank. Actually, I like that. It helps to prevent some misunderstandings that could otherwise arise.”
“Mn, I am of the same opinion. So, please speak of the issue that is troubling you.”
Qiang Yan nodded and slowed down a bit. “Actually, this is about my nephew. He has only recently come of age and you can imagine that he has been treated very carefully until now considering his status. Longjun’s approach was … a little forceful. Especially that heart yesterday …”
An Bai sighed. “Yes. His Highness was probably troubled by that very much.”
“Mn, indeed. But you did explain that it was a custom of your race so we can hardly hold it against him.”
An Bai’s smile became strained. Not hold it against him? It had been ages since somebody followed that custom! Why was their king this old-fashioned? An Bai cleared his throat. He should probably try to explain again. “Well, Longjun is very knowledgeable about our customs so —”
“You don’t have to say anything.” Qiang Yan grinned. He had already met the dragon king more than once but that guy never seemed able to remember him when they met again. His subjects could say what they wanted, he wouldn’t fall for their crappy explanations. That wasn’t what he was interested in anyway. He only cared if that person would do his nephew any good and that … seemed to be the case. Well, as long as he didn’t give him any hearts, that was.
Qiang Yan sighed. “Scholar An Bai already said that he is in favor of this relationship so I won’t beat around the bush. Even though I didn’t have the opportunity to get to know Longjun better, I still think of him as a good man and I could imagine that he would be able to make our crown prince happy. As his maternal uncle, it is my wish to see such a future for him. Unfortunately, there have been some misunderstandings up until now and I’m afraid that things would go on like that if nothing is done.
“In my opinion, the most important thing would be for our crown prince to learn about the dragons and for the dragon king to learn about us gods. That way further misunderstandings might be prevented. When I met Scholar An Bai yesterday I felt that our crown prince would get along with him very well so I’d like to ask you to take some time out of your schedule and teach our crown prince a little about your race.”
An Bai nodded. “So that was what the God of War had planned. I see.”
“Would that be possible?” Qiang Yan stopped and An Bai also halted.
“Well, I’m not against it. I just wondered if it wouldn’t be better to let His Majesty explain these things.” Although he wasn’t sure if his king actually could. He hadn’t struck him as a scholar until now. Still, if such an opportunity was proposed it should be given to their king. In the worst case, he would just brief him on the most important customs and history of their race and then let him visit His Highness so he wouldn’t embarrass himself.
Qiang Yan smiled wryly. “Well … Normally, I’d agree with you. It’s just that our crown prince might not be too fond of the idea of seeing Longjun right now.”
An Bai’s brows lifted. Don’t tell him their king had already lost his chance of winning His Highness’ heart?
Qiang Yan coughed when he saw An Bai’s expression. “It’s not as bad as it sounds. He’s a little wary of him right now but that is nothing that an explanation couldn’t fix. I’ll rely on you for that.” Qiang Yan cupped his fists and motioned to the Nine Heavens again.
An Bai followed him and the two of them finally arrived in the capital city. Qiang Yan nodded at the guards and had one of them go and announce them to Jing He. After what had happened yesterday, he definitely couldn’t bring a dragon to his nephew’s palace without a proper heads-up.
Qiang Yan turned to An Bai with a smile to win some time for his nephew to prepare. “Scholar An Bai has already visited the Nine Heavens several times if my memory doesn’t fail me. If there’s still something you’d like to ask me nonetheless, please feel free to ask me.”
An Bai nodded and took a look around. There wasn’t really any question he had about the Nine Heavens but he understood what the God of War was doing so he felt like he should try to come up with something. “Well … I’ve only ever been to the capital when accompanying His Majesty so I didn’t really have time to see the rest of the Nine Heavens. I was wondering if it is actually split into nine parts.”
Qiang Yan’s brows raised. “Oh, yes, it is indeed. The capital itself counts as one Heaven so there are eight others outside. If Scholar An Bai ever gets around to visiting them, you might notice that there are slight differences between each realm. Overall, they are quite similar though.”
“I see. Thank you for explaining.” An Bai nodded and didn’t pose another question. The crown prince should already know that they were coming.
Qiang Yan also didn’t say anything else and just silently led An Bai to his nephew’s palace. Ah, he really hoped Jing He was mentally prepared for this. He definitely didn’t want to scare the boy. Yesterday had been too much already.
The two of them finally reached the palace. Qiang Yan straightened up and nodded at the two guards at the door. “Go and announce to His Highness that the God of War Qiang Yan and the Scholar An Bai of the dragon race have come.”
The guard nodded and hurried inside. A moment later, he stepped out again and motioned inside. “His Highness asks you to step inside.”
Qiang Yan nodded and entered the building. An Bai took a deep breath first. Ah, he really hoped this would benefit his king. He couldn’t do a bad job with this.