RSH Stratagem 17: Expect Setbacks after Successes (5)

The Heavenly Empress couldn’t help but chuckle when she saw the way her son looked at the piece of paper in his hands. One could actually assume that he was writing a message that would concern life-and-death.

She went back to her seat at the table and shook her head at him. “Don’t think so much. Longjun will misinterpret whatever you write anyway and make it into a fiery love confession on your part.”

His mother’s words weren’t helping his nervousness at all. Jing He’s cheeks flushed red and he hurriedly shook his head. “How could that be?” He stared at the piece of paper and couldn’t help but wonder how he could make it clear to Longjun that he should better stay away for the time being since his father was really mad this time. If Longjun made anything out of this message that wasn’t there, wouldn’t that mean even more trouble? He didn’t even dare to think about it.

Finally, he sighed and went into his study, sitting down to write. As much as he wanted to take care of all possibilities and make sure that nothing bad would happen, he also knew that his mother was right. There was no way for him to write a message that couldn’t be misinterpreted by Longjun. After all, he had already seen just how well this man was able to twist his words when speaking to him. When he wasn’t there to try and intervene, wouldn’t it be even worse?

With that thought, he finally wrote down a few words and then folded the piece of paper, returning to tie it to the bird’s leg. “You … You will bring this back, won’t you?” To be honest, he was a little worried now that he had done this. The dragons might be able to command animals but the same couldn’t be said of the gods. What if this bird rushed off with his message? What if this got into the hands of somebody else? Maybe he shouldn’t …

He wanted to reach out and take it back but his mother had already come over again and shooed the bird off.

“Don’t think too much. I’m sure Longjun is already waiting eagerly for your response. You shouldn’t make him wait even longer.”

Jing He wasn’t sure if this was the right decision but the bird had already flapped its wings and flown off. What could he do now? He had to live with it.

The bird flew back to the tree where it had been caught by Qiu Ling before and sat down on the branch in front of him, chirping happily.

Qiu Ling nodded and patted the bird’s head, taking the message from it. “Let’s see …” He unfurled the small piece of paper and couldn’t help but grin madly when he saw his beloved’s beautiful handwriting. “Ah, he’s just perfect all around, isn’t he?” He looked at the bird that once again chirped as if to agree with him.

Satisfied, Qiu Ling looked back at the piece of paper. “I didn’t really ask him to answer so I guess you could say that he wrote this message to me on his own accord, don’t you think so?” He glanced at the bird again and once again got a chirp in return.

Qiu Ling nodded, patting the bird’s head once more. “You’re really such an intelligent creature. You understand every word I say and you are actually so smart to know the answer. I should probably come and speak to you a bit more often from now on.” He nodded to himself and then finally turned to read the message.

‘I am honored that Longjun would spend so many thoughts on me but I have to ask you to refrain from coming over. My father isn’t happy with what happened yesterday so I would deem it unwise to meet again lest his opinion of Longjun is implicated.’

Qiu Ling lowered the piece of paper and then looked up, narrowing his eyes. “He wrote some message in which the true meaning seems to be hidden among the actual written characters. I’m pretty sure that this is just a ploy to make sure that nobody unrelated would be able to gather his real intent in case his message was intercepted halfway.”

He waved the piece of paper and then put it into his spatial ring. “He said that his father was unhappy which I believe at once but he also said that he didn’t want me to come over in case his father finds out. I’m pretty sure that means that he wants to tell me that I should be very careful when I sneak in the next time. It’s probably because he doesn’t want us to be disturbed.

“Also, this has to be a sign of his great love for me. Actually, this could probably be called his very first love letter to me, don’t you think so?” He glanced at the bird that tilted its head and then chirped back. “Mn, I know. It makes perfect sense. Now, I only have to find out how to get inside. Or maybe I could make him come outside?” He pondered but still couldn’t find a way. The guards were standing in a way that made it impossible and knowing his beloved, Jing He probably wouldn’t dare to defy his father so much that he actually left the palace when he wasn’t supposed to.

“I guess there’s only one way to make this work out.” Qiu Ling got up, flashed the bird a smile and then jumped out of the tree, rushing to another palace in the Nine Heavens.

When he arrived, the person he wanted to see was nowhere to be seen though. He pursed his lips and then finally went to wait on the roof of the palace. Anyway, she would have to return sooner or later.

In that way, a few hours went by. Finally, steps could be heard in the courtyard below him and Qiu Ling raised his head. He listened for a while and then sneaked down, stepping into the room before the person actually living there and sitting down at the table, looking up with an expectant expression.

When Bai Fen returned to her chambers, she froze on the doorstep and widened her eyes. “Longjun … Would you care to explain what you’re doing here?”

Qiu Ling blinked his eyes as if he couldn’t understand why she was even asking. “Of course, I came to see you!”

Bai Fen rubbed her forehead and then gave him a dark look. “Longjun. I’m pretty sure that you’ve come to see me. What I want to know is why you would think it is acceptable to step into the palace of a married woman and wait there without even announcing yourself.”

In return, Qiu Ling looked at her with righteous indignation. “You’re my mother-in-law!”

Bai Fen gaped. “I’m not your mother-in-law. Just in case you don’t realize that yet, you haven’t married my son yet. So I’m not your mother-in-law. I’m an unrelated, married woman.”

Qiu Ling gave her a suspicious look. “You want to say you fell in love with me? That’s not good, mother-in-law. You know that I want to marry Jing He. Even though I do admit that you are pretty, I still won’t reconsider.”

Bai Fen’s brows twitched. “What is that supposed to mean?”

Qiu Ling handsomely shrugged his shoulders. “I’m just saying. I mean Jing He has to have gotten his good looks from somebody and it’s certainly not your husband. That is a fact I have to admit. But I’m a very faithful person so regardless of how good-looking you are, I will still stay true to your son. And the same is true for any other person that would try to get close to me, you can rest assured of that. In fact, since they are not my mother-in-law, I probably wouldn’t tell them off this nicely.”

Bai Fen was speechless for a moment but finally forced herself to smile. “Longjun, I’m sure that you realize that this isn’t the moment to make jokes. Your behavior was inappropriate. You should at least acknowledge as much.”

Qiu Ling gave her a long look that somehow made Bai Fen nervous. She almost wanted to ask what it was but considering how this person normally behaved, she wasn’t sure if that would be a good idea. Who knew what he was going to do next? Maybe it was better not to invite trouble.

Unfortunately for her, Qiu Ling wasn’t about to let the matter go just like that. He continued to look at her and finally smiled as if he didn’t have a care in the world. “I should acknowledge that I was behaving inappropriately?”

Looking at his expression, Bai Fen wasn’t sure if she would like whatever he came up with afterward but this was what she had said and meant as well. “Yes, I would be very happy if you could do that.”

Qiu Ling once again fell quiet as if he was thinking about it. “Well, if that is so important to the gods, then I guess I can only comply. But in that case, maybe you should also remind your husband that his behavior is just as inappropriate. After all, regardless of what he thinks of me personally, I’m still the king of the gods’ allies. Unless … The gods want to call off that alliance?” He cocked an eyebrow, looking at her deeply.

Bai Fen was left speechless. This … How had he gone from the playful banter that made him look like an idiot to him threatening to call off the alliance between their races? Wasn’t that escalating a little too quickly? She gave a wry smile and shook her head. “Ah, Longjun, I really don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m not involved in this kind of matter.”

“Well, your son will be one day. After all, he is your only child. One day, his father will step down. Then Jing He will be required to pick up his mantle and sit on the throne. How is he supposed to deal with all that if he isn’t allowed to even see me? Don’t you think that is worth a thought?”

“That is certainly worth a thought, Longjun. I’m just afraid that you aren’t saying this because you’re worried about Jing He’s future.”

Qiu Ling who had just been making such ominous statements suddenly returned to his usual smile. “Of course not. Why would I be worried about your son’s future? Anyway, as soon as we get married, he’ll be living in the dragon realm. He’ll be able to count on me and on our subjects. Naturally, he won’t want for anything.” With that, he got up from the chair and then walked over to the door. “I just remembered that there was still a lot to do back at home. I’ll come by again tomorrow.

“Who knows? Maybe those guards will be gone by then. Or maybe I’ll be able to find a way to get in despite them. Wouldn’t that be great?” Without waiting for a response, he just walked out, leaving Bai Fen with quite a bit to chew on.

« ToC »

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