The two dragons nodded and then left Qiu Ling and Jing Yi alone, retreating to their own rooms.
Xiang Yong followed An Bai into his, giving him a long look. “You don’t seem happy.”
An Bai turned back to him and sighed. “Was it that obvious?” He shook his head and then sat down at the table, pulling over the teapot that was standing to the side. “I just can’t help myself. You know that I always got along very well with His Highness. He is …” He fell quiet for a moment and started to brew the tea, not quite sure how to say what was going through his mind.
Xiang Yong just smiled though and put a cup down in front of each of them. “He is the type of person that you like. Somebody quiet, educated, somebody who will listen to others, and speak his mind cautiously, making sure to never hurt anyone with either his words or actions. This Zhong Jing Yi is different in that. Clearly, what he said before in the Court of Justice was used to attack the Heavenly Empress, and what he just said about the Heavenly Emperor and His Highness’s relationship with him would’ve hurt just as much if it was being heard by the person in question. His Highness would never condone such behavior. He would’ve found it to be distasteful. As you do.”
An Bai nodded. “Yes, that’s precisely it. I’m just afraid that it won’t do me any favors. Things have just been cleared up with His Majesty and should be moving in a better direction now. But if his current partner is like this, won’t that make things troublesome between us again?”
Xiang Yong gave a hum, pondering the same question. To be honest, he had never had much to do with the Son of Heaven. He was happy that their king had found somebody of such high status who would be able to behave in a way that would be acceptable to everyone in both their race and among the gods.
But other than that, he couldn’t care less who exactly their king’s partner was. If he had fallen in love with a bagger on the streets, it also would’ve been alright. In any case, if there were some egregious faults, the person could still be taught. But he could understand why An Bai was feeling differently. For him, this was a much more personal thing than it was the Xiang Yong. “If the gods manage to find a way to deal with this, you won’t have that problem for long.”
“I’m just afraid that they won’t be able to do so. In any case, things are complicated. His Majesty can’t let Zhong Jing Yi come to harm knowingly. And right now, we are completely in the know. It would take a genuine accident for him to be killed and His Highness to wake up again. I really don’t know what we’re supposed to do with this.”
“Well, the God of Justice seems like a very conscientious person. He is somebody that doesn’t let go of a matter after he starts working on it. Even if it takes some time, I’m sure that he will find a solution to this. Also, the Heavenly Emperor has quite a big interest in solving this as well. I don’t think we need to fear that there won’t be enough people working on this. If you want to, you can even help.”
An Bai shook his head at that. He picked up the teapot, pouring both of them a cup. “You know, I would love to do that but I can’t go behind our king’s back like this. He has already made his decision. He wants Zhong Jing Yi to live. What can I do about it?”
“Finding a solution could also mean that he doesn’t have to be killed. Maybe there is a way to satisfy both sides. In any case, you know the most about the gods and you are somebody that is able to work with almost anyone. I do believe that your temperament is also quite in line with what the gods like. So they will have an easier time accepting it if it is you. And they definitely won’t refuse any help if they can get it. Not if that means getting their crown prince back sooner.
“And also …” He picked up the cup, the steam rising from the top blurring the lines of his face. “His Majesty might have decided to save Zhong Jing Yi today but that doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t prefer having His Highness at his side.
“If you can find a way to go about this that will not hurt the mortal reincarnation but give him back the Son of Heaven, he would choose that option without hesitation. We shouldn’t have any illusions about that. And neither should that boy. I’m afraid he also knows that which is why he’s been acting this way today.”
An Bai’s gaze turned thoughtful. “It probably isn’t a wonder. His situation … it is an uncommon one and one that has put him at a clear disadvantage in regard to every part of his life. Whether that is the person he loves or the place where he lives, even his own life is in danger. I probably shouldn’t expect him to keep calm in such a situation. There is only so much a person can bear.”
Xiang Yong nodded. “That is how I see it as well. So cut him some slack but don’t keep yourself from working on getting His Highness back. It would be doing all of us a favor. If the dragons were an active part of this and if you were even able to make it sound as if His Majesty is fully behind this or even suggested you helping the gods with this, that might pave the way for His Majesty and the Son of Heaven to get married as soon as the soul returns. We can’t forget that that is our end goal.”
An Bai nodded. “Then I will do so. There will have to be a way.”