Jing He and Qiang Yan exchanged a glance.
“Scholar An Bai … Just what kind of heart is this?”
An Bai lowered his hand and looked at the God of War, smiling wryly. “This seems to be the heart of a golden-tailed Heaven climber.”
“A golden—” Jing He turned to his uncle and grabbed his arm in a rare show of concern. “Isn’t this a mythical beast residing between the immortal realms and High Heavens? It should be on par with the strength of the immortal races, shouldn’t it?”
Qiang Yan glanced at the fingers tugging into the fabric of his robe. Oh? Don’t tell him Longjun had actually managed to make his nephew this concerned about him in just a few days. How … interesting. It seemed his sister had been right as always when she chose Longjun out of all people as his possible spouse.
Qiang Yan hurriedly patted his nephew’s hand. “You’re right about that but don’t worry. Didn’t Scholar An Bai already say that Longjun is a strong warrior? And he has headed the dragon race for a long time. I doubt he would overestimate his strength that much.”
Jing He nodded but he wasn’t completely reassured yet. He turned to An Bai and smiled apologetically. “I’ve truly enjoyed speaking with scholar An Bai but considering these circumstances, it might be better if you returned to the dragon realm for now. Somebody should make sure that Longjun is alright.”
An Bai smiled. He also doubted that anything was wrong with his king. Well, at least not physically. There had long been something wrong with his head, after all. He still wouldn’t reject the idea though. If he told his king that the crown prince had been worried about him … Ah, he could imagine how happy he would be. Even if there had been any injuries, he would immediately forget about them.
“Your Highness is naturally right. I should go and make sure that His Majesty is alright. Please excuse me for leaving so abruptly.”
“Ah, no need to worry. It’s understandable. Furthermore, the dragons have long been our allies. We wouldn’t want for anything to happen to Longjun either.”
“Mn. If Your Highness is willing, we could continue our conversation at another time.”
An Bai nodded to both Jing He and the God of War before turning around.
Qiang Yan hurriedly followed him. “Let me show you out, Scholar An Bai.”
An Bai nodded again and the two of them left the crown prince’s palace.
Jing He sighed when they vanished out of the door.
Longjun … It had only been a few days since they met but somehow his whole life only seemed to revolve around that man since then. It was either him coming over or other people coming over in his name, someone talking about him or he himself worrying about him … This man really had a special kind of presence. As soon as he appeared once it was almost impossible to forget about him.
He sighed again. Well, there was nothing he could do even if Longjun was injured. He might as well go and take a look at the garden. He turned and found himself faced with a black robe.
Jing He gave a shriek and staggered backward only to be caught by a strong pair of arms. From the gate, the steps of the guards sounded.
“Careful!” Qiu Ling very happily pulled his beloved back onto his feet, not caring at all about the guards that had stormed in with their weapons drawn.
The two of them stared at him blankly. “Long … jun? How did you get in here?”
The dragon king naturally didn’t deign to answer. He tried to look into Jing He’s eyes and tried to flatter him. “You’re looking especially beautiful today.”
Not only Jing He’s lips twitched at that but he was the first one to regain his composure. He let go of the robe that he had instinctively grabbed onto and stepped back, much to Qiu Ling’s disappointment.
“You’re flattering me, Longjun.” Before the dragon king got the chance to respond he turned to the guards. “Huang Lan, Mu Kun, thank you for checking on me but everything is alright. I was … just surprised to see Longjun.”
“Of course.” The two of them bowed and left the palace while Qiu Ling finally saw his chance.
He inched a little closer, even though he still left at least a step between them. “You don’t have to be surprised. If I can, I’ll come over every day now. How do you feel? … Your Highness.”
Jing He glanced upward before turning to the side and gently closing the chest with the heart. When Qiu Ling saw his present standing on the table, his eyes sparkled. So his beloved had missed him so much that he was longingly looking at his present! Ah, thankfully, he had decided to come over!
Jing He had no idea that his precaution had been interpreted this way. He inconspicuously touched his cheek. He hadn’t slept too well last night so his face was probably pale. Had Longjun not noticed? He could only hope so. He certainly didn’t want to disgrace the gods by coming off as frail. How would that seem to a race that regarded strength highly? Speaking of that …
He turned back and glanced at Qiu Ling’s body. He couldn’t see any injuries but that didn’t have to mean anything. “I’ve been well. Rather than that … How does Longjun feel?”
“Mn. I always feel great when I see you.”
Jing He nodded and motioned at the chest. “I was told this is the heart of a golden-tailed Heaven climber?”
“Mn. Do you like it? I thought they look pretty so I chose it for you.”
Jing He’s lips parted but he didn’t know how to proceed. Tell him that it was indeed pretty, even though he felt creeped out? But wouldn’t that just encourage him to give him similar gifts? Ah, Longjun really had a talent for making him speechless.
“You … don’t think it’s pretty?” Qiu Ling’s face fell. “I could get you another one. Is there anything you’d —”
“No need.” Jing He looked up, stunning Qiu Ling into silence.
Ah, his beloved was so beautiful! If he looked at him directly, it was even more obvious!
“Yes?” Qiu Ling straightened up and hardly held back a smile. So beautiful!
“I … feel very touched that you deemed me worthy of receiving such a valuable present. It’s just that I don’t want to be responsible for any injuries you might receive.”
Jing He turned to look at the garden outside and rubbed the hem of his sleeve. Longjun wasn’t as menacing as he had thought at first. If he could talk to him about it, something like this likely wouldn’t happen anymore. He just had to do it in a way that would be acceptable considering the values of both their races.
“I’m relieved to hear that. In fact, I never doubted that. Isn’t Longjun the strongest warrior in the dragon race?”
“Mn.” Qiu Ling nodded, his heart racing. Was his beloved … praising him right now?
“Still. I can’t help but be a little worried. Longjun is very important to his subjects. I wouldn’t dare to put him into danger. I wouldn’t want to either.”
Qiu Ling beamed. So his beloved was worried about him! How cute! He almost grabbed his hands but held back at the last possible moment, his hands awkwardly hanging in the air. With a cough, he took them back and straightened his sleeves in an attempt to cover his mistake up. “Your Highness doesn’t need to worry about that.”
“Would you do me a favor?”
“Immediately! Just tell me what you’d like me to do!”
The corners of Jing He’s lips curved up against his will and he had to force them back down into a demure smile. “It would truly put my mind at ease if Longjun could promise not to undertake anything dangerous for my sake in the future.”
“Actually … we gods often prefer simple things. I’ve heard Longjun is talented in the use of the brush?”
“Ah?” Qiu Ling felt even more bewildered. Since when was he talented with anything but his claws? And even more important: Even if he was, who would tell his beloved about it?
Jing He’s fingers tugged deeper into the fabric of his robe. “Ah, Scholar An Bai of the dragon race mentioned it to me. He lauded Longjun’s skills very much, making me a little curious. Actually, I also have some interest in painting. So maybe …
“I mean I don’t want to be presumptuous. I certainly don’t expect Longjun to gift me anything but should Longjun ever feel like it again, then just taking a bit of your time and painting something for me would already make me very glad.”
“Paint something?” Qiu Ling tilted his head. That would make his beloved happy?
Jing He hurriedly nodded. It didn’t seem as if Longjun was completely against it. He probably just hadn’t expected this. “Yes. This might sound selfish but I also know that Longjun heads many people and will be occupied with his duties most of the time. Having some of that time dedicated to me …” He glanced upward only to find a peculiar look on Qiu Ling’s face.
He was unsure how to proceed and just let the first part of the sentence stand on its own, lowering his gaze again. Little did he know that the seemingly very busy dragon king was only wondering just what kind of duties should keep him from dedicating his time to his beloved. Wasn’t his whole day reserved for him anyway?