RSH Stratagem 10: The Skills of a Mature Man (3)

Even though Jing He was worried, he wouldn’t reject Qiu Ling. After all, he had already promised yesterday and this person was the king of the dragon race. Rejecting him after agreeing to his proposal would be in bad taste.

Qiu Ling led Jing He into the study and helped him sit down, taking the place next to him. “I’m very happy that Your Highness agreed.”

Jing He smiled although his gaze grew even more complicated. He hadn’t seen any other way than agreeing yesterday but he did wonder if it wouldn’t have been better if he tried harder to find an excuse. Well, it was too late now.

He picked up a scroll of paper and handed it to Qiu Ling was a pleasant smile. “I’m happy for Longjun to have made that proposal. Spending more time with you in these two years has shown me that even though there are a lot of differences between our races, we also share many similarities.”

Qiu Ling accepted the scroll while his eyes flashed with happiness. Was this a hint that his beloved was giving him? Did he want to say that he was seriously considering how to bring up their marriage?

He put the scroll down on the desk that Jing He had put up next to his own. “The differences are nothing much. Whether one is a god or a dragon, at heart everyone is just a person. And as long as the heart is true, what do some traditions account for?”

Jing He who had just reached out to pick up the brush stand couldn’t help but pause. Yes, was race really that important? If he thought about it, then back in the old days when the sovereign had descended from the High Heavens to the Nine Heavens because he had fallen in love with a normal god, hadn’t it also been just a matter of the heart?

Actually, the sovereign could hardly be considered to be a god. He was part of neither of the three immortal races. He was more than each of them, without any comparison possible. So in a way, they hadn’t been both gods even though Tian had pretended to be.

So Longjun was probably right to say that these differences were nothing much. After knowing about them, after deciding what one wanted and making sure that the heart was indeed true, it wouldn’t account for anything.

He finally picked up the brush stand and pushed it to the middle of the desk, smiling a little more genuinely. “What Longjun said has merit. I never thought about it that way.” Normally, he wouldn’t like to admit his shortcomings but he felt that it was the right thing to do in this situation. This person … He was older than him and he had apparently much more experience with his view on the world being much richer than his own. Yielding to him and admitting his mistakes, it was also to be expected, wasn’t it?

Qiu Ling who had no idea that he had just been deemed a knowledgeable and wise person picked one of the brushes and smiled. Ah, painting with his beloved … This was too great! If they painted very slowly, he could stay here until the evening and they would only have to part very late.

Seeing that Qiu Ling had picked up the brush, Jing He took the ink stick and started to grind the ink. He didn’t say anything though. In fact, he didn’t know what to say. Even though he felt that he had gotten slightly closer with this person over the last months they still weren’t familiar to a degree where he felt it easy to converse freely. They had spent too much time together to merely make small talk but they didn’t know each other well enough to have a lengthy discussion.

Well, that was probably his own fault. Longjun had tried very hard to get to know him better while he … he had just taken this man’s attention as a given and hadn’t tried enough.

Jing He glanced over at Qiu Ling and couldn’t help but feel that seeing him with a brush in hand made for an unexpected picture. “Longjun has already mentioned long ago that he was fond of painting. I’m afraid I didn’t show enough interest back then. May I ask how Longjun picked this activity up? It seemed quite surprising to me that you would have this kind of interest considering what I have come to know about the dragons by now.” That was to say, he had actually expected that his only interests might lay in weapons and fighting.

“It is nothing much. I just saw something beautiful and felt that if I’m not able to look at it all the time, I should find a way to make up for that at least a little.”

The way he looked at him made Jing He’s cheeks flush. This man … He wouldn’t be trying to say that this beautiful thing he had seen was him, would he? Well, he could imagine that Qiu Ling would try but wasn’t it a little too direct?

And hadn’t they only met two years ago for the first time? Then his skill couldn’t be very high but Scholar An Bai had lauded them very much. Even if he hadn’t trusted Longjun very much in the beginning, he did have quite a bit of faith in Scholar An Bai’s appraisal. Since he had said that his king had surprising talent in this regard, then he should have. In that case, he shouldn’t have started learning how to paint only two years ago. No, that couldn’t be. He had to be talking about something else.

Jing He put down the ink slab and his smile turned self-deprecating. What had he even thought? Was he really that conceited that he would link everything positive to himself? Naturally, the dragon king hadn’t meant him. It seemed his character was even worse than he had thought. He should learn to be more humble. Otherwise, wouldn’t he be letting the expectations their sovereign had had for their race down?

He picked up his own brush and then motioned at the paper scrolls. “Everything is prepared. So if Longjun isn’t missing anything, we can begin.”

Qiu Ling nodded. He didn’t really understand why his beloved was looking like that but as long as they were together, he was happy. And he would probably find a way to make his beloved happy too while they were spending time together. He was sure he could.

Thus the two men dipped their brushes into the ink and started to paint.

Jing He hadn’t seen much of the world yet. So everything he could paint was the sights in the capital city and the few things he would imagine on his own every now and then.

Meanwhile, Qiu Ling had indeed seen a lot of the world but there was only one thing left in his mind: his beloved. So he very passionately started to paint a garden in full bloom that just served as the backdrop to the most beautiful person he had ever seen.

Ah, his beloved was really too perfect! Just painting him like this … He immediately felt very happy. Well, not that he hadn’t felt happy before. After all, his beloved was right next to him. Being this close, he was naturally very happy already.

Jing He didn’t even glance over. Even though he was curious to finally see the skill of the dragon king, he felt that he would be intruding. Taking a look and appreciating each other’s painting after they had finished was one thing but if he watched him paint, then he would feel that he was going overboard. Thus he didn’t notice that the face that Qiu Ling painted was actually his own.

Time slowly trickled by and the light falling through the windows grew brighter before slowly dimming again. Finally, Jing He put away his brush and just looked at the painting.

Qiu Ling had already finished a long time ago and had used the rest of the time to happily watch his beloved paint. Now that Jing He had obviously finished, he inched closer and gave a smile.

“That looks lovely.”

Jing He had painted was the garden behind his palace with the pavilion in the middle. He didn’t feel that it was anything special but Qiu Ling’s happy tone made him feel that maybe it wasn’t too bad either. He looked up and gave a smile. “Thank you. Longjun’s praise means very much to me.”

Qiu Ling smiled even more happily. Ah, his beloved cared so much about him! This had to be a sign of his growing love. Well, it was obvious, wasn’t it? He motioned at his own painting. “Look, I also painted your garden.”

Jing He looked over and indeed, that could be called his garden. His expression turned subtle though. The person that Longjun had painted leaning against beams of the pavilion with a wistful expression … That was him, wasn’t it? So what was with that expression?

He glanced up at Qiu Ling and even though the person in question didn’t seem quite as excited as last year, there still was a glint in his eyes that told him just what this person had been thinking when he made this painting.

Well … Despite the differences between their races maybe not accounting for much, there were still some things that he hadn’t quite got gotten used to even after two years. It seemed he had to try harder to get to know this person and fulfill the expectations resting on his shoulders.

« ToC »

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