RSH Stratagem 14: Keep the Truth Hidden (2)

When An Bai didn’t answer, Jing He felt even more sure of his conjecture. “So it truly was like that …”

An Bai was pulled out of his thoughts by these words and hurriedly shook his head. “No, no, that’s not it. It’s not a problem at all. In fact, most dragons are very proud of their other form and would love to show it. I … was just wondering why His Majesty didn’t show you. Would you mind telling me a bit more about the situation?” He wasn’t sure if asking further was a good idea. After all, he had no idea why His Majesty had reacted that way. But it was still better than letting the Son of Heaven believe he had done something wrong. With how things had gone in the past two years, that really would be a reason to worry.

Jing He almost heaved a sigh of relief. So it hadn’t been that he did something wrong. It just hadn’t been the right moment and Longjun might not have known how to say that. That was much better than what he had feared. “Well, we were a little outside the capital city. Longjun had …” He pondered how to say that but in the end, decided to be direct. Anyway, as his adviser, An Bai should know. “He asked me to have a picnic with him.”

An Bai nodded slowly. “Maybe it was because of that. A dragon’s other form is … several times larger than the form we normally use. Especially when changing from one to the other, there can be some mishaps.” He nodded to himself, feeling that this was a likely explanation. Also … “Well, other than that, the sheer size might also seem a little frightening when seen first. Maybe His Majesty felt that showing you his other form would destroy the atmosphere?” After all, a picnic did sound romantic. If he had done well up until then …

“I see.” Jing He’s thoughts went in a similar direction. The relationship between him and Qiu Ling had gotten better over the past two years. They weren’t as awkward around each other anymore and especially with how he had decided against his father’s wishes yesterday, he had been more open than usual. Maybe Longjun had felt that and had thus been more sensitive to any possible changes. It was a pity that his thoughtful reaction had made him overthink and thus have this end.

Jing He sighed. “Thank you for telling me, Scholar An Bai. It seems I thought too much.”

An Bai shook his head. “Even if you did, it is better to ask. This way, further misunderstandings can be circumvented. Just know that His Majesty likely has your best interests at heart.”

Jing He nodded. “I do not doubt that.” The two of them stayed quiet, not quite sure how to continue. Finally, Jing He spoke up again. “Other than the size, is there anything I should know about a dragon’s other form? Just in case …”

An Bai pondered. “Well, our other forms correspond to parts of our appearance in this form. For example, my hair is white so my scales in the other form are white as well.”

Jing He nodded. “So Longjun’s scales should be black.”

“Yes. Other than the scales, there are the eyes and claws. My eyes are blue so the eyes of my dragon form are also blue. This color corresponds to the one the claws have as well.” He held out his hand, showing Jing He his nails. “With most dragons, this can also be seen in this form. My nails have a tint of blue. This color often gets darker with age. A young dragon might only show a fracture of the final color their claws will have.

Jing He took a long and thought back to the black claws Qiu Ling had shown him. His nails had also had a hint of a dark color before even though they weren’t completely black.

An Bai looked at Jing He. With how observant the crown prince was, he should know the colors His Majesty had. In that case … this was probably a good opportunity to toot his horn?

He cleared his throat with some awkwardness and gave a smile. “I don’t know if His Majesty mentioned this when you talked but since the dragons are quite … body-conscious, they also pay a lot of attention to appearance. The color is very important for that. Rare colors are always looked upon favorably, as are rare combinations. A dragon with just one color for both his scales, eyes, and claws would be considered very attractive in the dragon realm.”

“Oh, so Longjun …”

An Bai nodded with a smile. “He originally had a lot of suitors.”

Jing He’s brows slightly raised. A lot of suitors … It made him feel strange to hear that. But he probably should have known that. Even though he could not quite understand the way the dragons thought about beauty, he also couldn’t deny that the dragon king was a very handsome man even from the perspective of the gods. “Well, I guess he comes very close to perfection then. Other than a hint of red in his eyes, the only color he shows should be completely black.” He looked at An Bai to make sure he had understood right but only met with a stunned expression that seemed to hold a sliver of shock. “This … Did I say something wrong?”

An Bai pulled himself out of his thoughts and shook his head. “No. I just …” He cleared his throat. “I was just surprised. I wouldn’t have thought …”

Jing He’s cheeks flushed red. Yes, indeed. Why had he said that? And even if he said it in another way … He had actually looked so closely that he was able to tell that Longjun’s eyes weren’t completely black. Even though the dragons were in favor of his relationship with their king, they would naturally feel that it was too straightforward. Or, well, they probably didn’t think that but were just surprised that he would be. After all, this didn’t fit him at all.

He also knew he was in the wrong here. It was just … with Longjun coming over almost every day and spending so much time with him, how couldn’t he have noticed? And somehow, this man had managed to attract and hold his gaze several times already.

An Bai lowered his gaze and gave a shallow smile. “Well, I’ve answered the question you had. If there is nothing else, I should probably return to the dragon realm. His Majesty might have some things to say about today. If I don’t return soon …”

“Ah, of course!” Jing He got up and then bid his farewell. When he watched An Bai leave, he couldn’t help but sigh. There were some things he should think about well. Obviously, things had started to change between him and the dragon king. That was something he couldn’t let be. He at least … had to find out what he wanted to do in the future.

« ToC »

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