Xiang Yu looked at the worn-out book in confusion. “Are you sure this will work?” He raised his head and felt slightly reassured when Jinde nodded earnestly.
“Of course, it will! Just choose one story and reenact it with him. I’m sure Xin Lan will fall head over heels for you!”
“Yes. Well, not the one that’s marked.”
“I … I already tried it with my husband.”
Xiang Yu blinked his eyes but didn’t say anything. It couldn’t have gone too well if Jinde told him not to use that one. He shouldn’t pour salt into his wounds and ask any further. “Alright, I know. Then I’ll go and read.”
“Sure, sure! Do your best! Work hard!” He waved while Xiang Yu opened a portal and stepped through, disappearing from Jinde’s home.
Leng Jin Yu sighed. “Are you sure this is a good idea?”
“Why not? I think those two can use a bit of help.”
“They certainly can but … Are you sure Xiang Yu will be able to do this?”
“Aiya!” Jinde shook his head. “What are you even saying? That child isn’t stupid!”
“No, not stupid but … a little strange. Who knows what he’ll come up with?”
Jinde blinked his eyes and then looked at the place where the portal had been a moment ago. There was a hint of concern in his eyes but then he waved as if it wasn’t a big thing. “Anyway, that’s also what’s lovable about him. Xin Lan will be enthralled!”
“Let’s hope you’re right …”
Meanwhile, Xiang Yu sat down in a corner of the palace he had occupied in the High Heavens and read through all the stories in the book. He didn’t want to choose the wrong one so he couldn’t do this arbitrarily.
There was one about a person with very beautiful hair that he would have liked to choose but then he remembered that Xin Lan had always liked Jinde’s hair so he decided against it. No, no, he couldn’t use a story that would remind the other of somebody else! He had to find something that would link just the two of them.
Xiang Yu finally reached the end of the book. He pursed his lips and thought for a while, then he put it away and hurried to prepare everything. When he finished, he wrote a message for Xin Lan so that he would know where he had gone and handed it to Tian.
The high god read the message without a shred of a guilty conscience and slightly raised his brows. “The northern ice desert? Why would you go there?”
“To sell flints.”
Tian looked at the fallen god with an unreadable gaze.
“What? Is there a problem with that?”
“No, just … why are you doing this?”
Xiang Yu took out the book and gave it to Tian as well. “Jinde said that reenacting a story from this book with your lover would make you get closer.”
“… I see.”
“Alright, then you tell Xin Lan about the message, yes?”
Xiang Yu smiled happily, turned around and opened a portal that revealed the snow flurry of the northern ice desert. He didn’t look back even once and just stepped through, the portal closing behind him.
Tian continued to stare at the place where he had vanished before he returned to his palace. Reenacting a story from the book to become closer … He glanced at the person in his palace and then looked away. They … were probably past that point, weren’t they?
Meanwhile, Xiang Yu searched for a good place and then started to build two houses in the northern ice desert. With his spiritual energy, it wasn’t that hard so he was soon able to huddle down in the street he had left between them. Then he took out the flints he had prepared and looked at them in a daze. Now, what?
Time went by and in the High Heavens, Tian lost his patience. He opened a portal himself, grabbed the person on the other side by the collar and pulled him over. Then, he slapped the message against his chest before opening another portal and pushing him through. “Xiang Yu is waiting for you,” he yelled after him and then, the High Heavens finally returned to their peaceful state.
Snowflakes gathered in the hair and on the face of the dragon who had a hard time figuring out what had just happened. It seemed … that asshole Tian had just pulled and pushed him around because of that fallen god? What was that idiot up to now?
He raised the piece of paper that Tian had given him and his brows raised. “Come to the northern ice desert? What is he doing there?” He looked around and his brows twitched. “Here. What is he doing here? And where exactly is he? Does he have any idea how big the northern ice desert is?” He shook his head, put the message into his spatial ring and then pushed off the ground, turning into a silver dragon and flying over the expanse of land clad in white.
What he saw … As strange as it looked, the big dragon’s brows twitched as well before he shot toward the two houses that had appeared in the desert and turned back into the handsome man. “What are you doing here?”
Xiang Yu looked up and blinked his eyes. His hands and cheeks had turned red from the cold. Tears had spilled out of his eyes and frozen on his lashes. There even seemed to be a thin layer of frost on his skin.
Xin Lan’s expression turned gloomy. This idiot!
Xiang Yu didn’t seem to notice. He raised the flints in his hands, making the frostbite even more obvious. “I’m selling flints!”
“You …” Xin Lan clenched his hands into fists to keep himself from grabbing the idiot by the lapel and pulling him off the ground. He certainly couldn’t beat him up after he had already suffered like this.
Xiang Yu blinked his eyes, making the ice crack slightly. Then, he threw the flints away and raised his arms. “Grandfather! Did you come to take me to Heaven?”
Xin Lan glared at him but still bent down and picked him up, once again rising into the air. He even pulled out a cloak from his spatial ring and threw it over him. “So what is this nonsense about selling flints in the northern ice desert? Nobody lives here and even if somebody did, they’d certainly not buy flints from you!”
“My father told me to do it.”
“Your father is dead!”
“Oh.” Xiang Yu looked away. That was true. Maybe he had chosen the wrong story, after all?
Xin Lan glared at him but still sped up so that they would reach the end of the ice desert sooner. “So what is this really about?”
Xiang Yu pursed his lips and snuggled up against Xin Lan’s chest. “I won’t tell you.”
“It’s a secret.” After all, he still had to try again!
Xin Lan kept quiet. Finally, they reached the end of the ice desert and he slowed down, taking a look at Xiang Yu’s face that slowly got some color back but looked especially gloomy as if he currently hated life.
Xin Lan tightened his lips and continued moving forward. “So … if you can’t tell me what selling flints in an ice desert is about, can you at least tell me why I was greeted as ‘grandfather’ and supposed to bring you to another man?” He tightened his lips even further when he asked that. He certainly hadn’t sounded miffed just now, absolutely not! If Xiang Yu thought so, he must have heard wrong.
Xiang Yu didn’t notice though. He just pursed his lips and played around with the cloak Xin Lan had given him. Maybe … this wasn’t the right approach with him either. “That … It’s because of the story.” He regretted having given the book to Tian right now. If he still had it, he could give it to Xin Lan so he would understand. “In the story, there’s this little girl that sells them but nobody wants to buy them so, in the end, she’s taken to Heaven by her grandmother. You can’t pass as my grandmother though so I called you grandfather.”
Xin Lan’s brows twitched. “I don’t pass as your grandfather either,” he muttered under his breath but he still nodded. “I see now.” After that, he fell quiet for a while. When they reached the next town, he landed and carried Xiang Yu into an inn, calling for the innkeeper to get them a room and a basin with warm water.
When Xiang Yu was finally taking a hot bath to make sure the ice would melt, Xin Lan gave a sigh. “Next time Jinde tries to make you do something, think about it on your own for a few minutes. Or better, you tell me about it. It’s not worth it if you hurt yourself over this.”
Xiang Yu looked at the folding screen separating them and hugged the edge of the basin. Stupid grandfather dragon! How did he want to know whether it was worth it or not? If he said it was, then it definitely was! No need for him to try and figure it out for him. Although … it was a little nice to hear that he didn’t want him to get hurt.
With this thought, Xiang Yu closed his eyes and drifted off into sleep. Not noticing at all how a certain someone finally cursed and saved him out of the water before he could drown, all the while grumbling to himself how being in love truly was too troublesome.