“He was … pretty withdrawn, wasn’t he?” Actually, he would’ve used another word to describe Jing He’s behavior but he felt that it wouldn’t be appropriate in front of Qiu Ling. He really didn’t want to make him think that there was another area where he was inferior to him.
Qiu Ling nodded his head. “To a certain degree, yes. I guess it’s understandable from his situation. If you always need to show only your best side to the people around you, that must be exhausting. He was good at pretending but I guess even though he didn’t have the energy to pretend all the time. It would’ve tired him out.”
Jing Yi’s gaze flickered. Tired him out … Could that be the reason? Was that why his soul had started to become unstable? After all, that person in the demon realm had told him that this had started even before Jing He had engraved his soul. Was it really just because of his relationship with Qiu Ling or could it be that there was more to it?
From his own memories, he knew that Qiu Ling should have made the most impact in Jing He’s life. For several years, all his thoughts had revolved around this person. It also seemed that there hadn’t been too many other people in his life. There were parents and his uncle but that was about it.
There were some people he saw more often like the guards in front of his palace or some of the higher-ranking gods that would be able to see him every now and then but he hadn’t been close with any of these people.
For the most part, Jing He had been alone. That kind of desolate life that would only be interrupted for a while and then had to be filled with lies … It should have impacted his soul, shouldn’t it?
He glanced at Qiu Ling, wondering if he should say something about this. Obviously, the two of them also hadn’t talked too much about you Jing He’s matters. And with how much Qiu Ling cared about that person, he would probably like to know.
Jing Yi bit his lower lip. Even though he knew that Qiu Ling might want to know, he still didn’t want to say it. Actually, he didn’t want to talk about this person at all. He would have much rather talked about their own relationship. But at the same time, he couldn’t help but be curious about Qiu Ling’s thoughts about Jing He. What did he think? What did he feel? What did Jing He mean to him? Was there … any way to replace him in his heart?
While Jing Yi pondered these questions, Qiu Ling sighed. “It’s a little strange when thinking about it now but what drew me to him in the first place was the image that he had cultivated to show the world.” He snorted and shook his head. “It was actually the fake front that captured my attention.”
Jing Yi’s heart thumped. What did he mean with that? He couldn’t mean that even though he had later come to love Jing He, his love hadn’t always been that all-encompassing? Then what had happened for it to become that way? Was there nothing he could do? He also … also wanted to have a chance to capture this person’s heart. Wasn’t he able to achieve that?
Jing Yi grabbed Qiu Ling’s hand tighter and gave a smile. “Then what about afterward? It seems that that isn’t the only thing?”
Qiu Ling nodded. Talking about his beloved, his mood that had fluctuated a lot over the last few days finally settled down. Ah, that just was the effect that Jing He had on him. “Afterward, we spent more time together. With time, I realized that there was more to him than could be seen at first glance.”
“Like what? I do remember a bit about him but nothing stood out to me as really special.”
Qiu Ling smiled and his gaze softened even further. “Everything about him is special. Maybe not in the eyes of others but it certainly is to me.” He sighed and shook his head. “Maybe it has more to do with me than it actually has with him.
“I was also always very conscious of the fact that I wasn’t pure-blooded. Since the day I found out that my mother was half-demon and that my own demon blood had awakened after killing her I could never rest easy. Even after I became the king of the dragon race, I didn’t feel secure. Not in the least. On the contrary, I was terribly afraid anybody might notice.
“For the longest time, I tried to avoid people and put up a front just like Jing He. I pretend to be a person that I wasn’t because I felt that if I was the true me, then they would pick up on it. I was afraid that there would be something about me that was demon-like. Something that would be a telltale sign to any true dragon.
“I didn’t want to expose that flaw because, in my heart, I always considered myself to be a dragon. That was what I grew up as, that was what I lived as. It was all I wanted to be.
“I never wanted to be like my mother: Able to marry somebody she didn’t love, able to kill the father of her child.” He took a shaky breath and looked at the ring on his finger. “Falling in love is important to the dragons. Finding that person that you will spend your life with, that you’re willing to share your own soul with … that is what really makes you a dragon.
“Unfortunately for me, I didn’t find that person for the longest time. It really made me afraid that my demon blood might actually be stronger than my dragon blood. But then came Jing He and every doubt I ever had was blown away as if it had never existed. Seeing him, hearing his voice, smelling that light fragrance lingering in the air, feeling the warmth of his hands … All of that reassured me in who I was.”