RSH Stratagem 18: Get to Know Your Beloved by Heart (3)

Author’s Note:

Do you remember how back in the summer the 2nd Oh. My. Fate?! anniversary, as well as the publication of the 500th revision chapter and 1000th original version chapter all fell in the same month? Well, back then, I wrote two specials and additional chapters for the OMF universe. Of course, I didn’t exclude RSH in that but because we’re so far ahead with the RSH chapters on Patreon, you didn’t get to see them – until now, that is.

Today, Stratagem 18(3) to 18(7) will all go up! So look forward to a small after anniversary celebration 😉

~~~***~~~***~~~

It took Qiu Ling several hours to finish both of the masks but when he looked at them side by side, he could not help but smile to himself. Taking each of them as just one, they were beautiful works of art that would definitely draw a few gazes. But taking them as a pair … They transcended the realm of mere beauty. This was a statement, this was a manifestation of the words he wanted to say to the man he loved, this was the peak of perfection.

Qiu Ling carefully placed the masks on the table in his spatial ring and then continued to ponder. A mask was one thing but he needed more. Unfortunately, he did not have the right materials for that. He’d need to go out and get them first.

Qiu Ling turned to look at the light that spilled through the window. By now, the night was already over again. He hadn’t slept a wink but he didn’t care. Anyway, he could always sleep later but he needed to make sure that he would be in time for that festival.

He jumped down from the wooden beam and sneaked out of the palace, returning to the Nine Heavens. While it was important to gather the materials, he first had to tell his beloved about his plan. After all, Jing He would certainly be worried if he didn’t hear from him after he sent him that letter.

He jumped onto the branches of the same tree as the last time, shooting the guards that were still loitering around Jing He’s palace a dirty look before he searched for the small bird from the other day.

The little animal came fluttering over on its own when it saw him and chirped happily.

Qiu Ling’s eyes lit up. “Great! I knew I could count on you.” He took out a scroll of paper again, ripped off a corner, and scribbled down a message. Tying it to the bird’s leg, he motioned over to the palace. “Bring that over to the same beauty from last time. He’s probably eagerly waiting for me to contact him.”

The bird chirped and then flew off, landing on the windowsill.

At that time, it was still early in the day. The guards outside had recently changed shifts while Jing He had only gotten up a while ago. He had washed up and gotten dressed and was sitting at the dressing table and doing his hair at this moment. Looking at the mirror in front of him, his expression was one of being lost in thoughts though.

He just couldn’t help but wonder how things would turn out to be in the future. Originally, he had led a quiet and secluded life, not seeing anybody for days on end if good manners did not make it necessary. He would go and visit his parents out of courtesy but he still preferred to stay by himself.

Not seeing anybody, not having to speak with anybody … That was the kind of life he led, the only one he had known for more than half of his life. It had not always been like that but his memories from before that had mostly faded away and the ones he did remember made him wish to continue this kind of life.

It was just … suddenly, a man had stepped into his life and disturbed everything. And while he had tried to keep contact to a minimum, that man had somehow managed to change his perception over time.

Now, he felt unaccustomed to being alone. He could not help but think about him regardless of what he did. When he got up in the morning and chose his robe, he would unwittingly wonder how that man would like to see him and then decide based on that. He would style his hair how he felt that man would like it and when he finished, he would take a look around to see if he had already arrived unbeknown to him.

The worst thing was that if he hadn’t, he would feel strangely disappointed. Yes, with time, he had somehow come to develop expectations. And normally, those expectations had been met. For more than two years, he would see Longjun almost every day. It had made him feel that things would continue like that. It had made him feel that … he could put his trust in this person and depend on him.

And he really could. Longjun had not disappointed him. But while his feelings for this person slowly grew and he decided that it might not be such a bad idea to accept his proposal after all, his father had not relented at all. He had interfered more and more until now …

Jing He looked over to the window, prepared to once again see those guards standing there to make sure nobody could enter or leave the palace without notice. When he did, his gaze changed though.

He got up from the small chair in front of the dressing table and hurried over to the window, reaching out to the small bird that was sitting on the windowsill, his lips curving into a smile that showed even more happiness than he ever would have admitted feeling.

“Did you come back, yes?” He let the bird hop onto his hand and glanced outside.

One of the guards had turned around at hearing his voice, his eyes taking in the scene at hand. When he saw that it was just a bird, he lightly bowed and then turned away.

Jing He’s gaze darkened for a moment but he soon turned away and carried the bird further inside. He put it down on the table and then went to take out a small bowl, filling it with some seeds.

“You have some.” He took the message from the bird’s leg while the animal happily chirped at him and unfurled it with his heart beating wildly.

‘My love, I am sorry for still not being able to come and see you but worry not! I have understood your message and will soon come to free you. Just give me a few days to prepare. I love you just as much as usual. If anything, having to separate has made me grow even fonder of you. I hope you are also thinking of me.’

Jing He unwittingly smiled. He rolled the message up again and put it into his spatial ring. Yes, this was precisely the kind of thing he would expect Longjun to say if he did indeed come to see him. He would probably also ‘forget’ about the distance he was supposed to keep and take his hands or maybe even …

Jing He’s cheeks reddened when he thought back to lying in Qiu Ling’s arms. He could not deny that it was a possibility but it certainly wasn’t one he should indulge in imagining.

He shook his head at himself and then watched the bird, wondering where exactly Longjun might be. Should he once again write back to him? But then again, the guards had just seen him. Since they had been sent by his father, they would likely report back to him. Seeing this bird land on his windowsill and him indulging in taking care of it for a bit was one thing but if they spotted his answer, it would be a different one altogether. And when his father found out, he would be furious. Not at Longjun this time but at his disobedient son who dared to deceive him.

Jing He sighed and finally decided against it. Longjun should understand, shouldn’t he?

As for the person Jing He deemed to be understanding … he was still squatting in that tree, fixing the palace with his gaze. He waited and waited, wondering just where that damned bird was. Or could it be that his beloved was writing a very long response this time?

He waited an hour and then two and finally had to accept the fact that he had gotten it all wrong. He pursed his lips and finally left the tree top and then the Nine Heavens, going to search for the materials that he needed.

Mn, that festival wasn’t far away. He could at most take two days to prepare the materials and then another three to finish his masterpieces. After that, he would need to take a short rest, and then it would already be time for the festival. Ah, he really was on a tight schedule. Well, that was nothing that could trouble a mighty person like him. He’d just have to make sure that he focused on the task at hand and didn’t get sidetracked.

It was a pity though that he hadn’t been able to read his beloved’s response …

« ToC »

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