When Jing He emerged from his thoughts, the two of them had already put quite some distance between themselves and the teahouse they had gone to before. In fact, looking around, he couldn’t recognize this place at all.
Glancing over his shoulder, he realized that none of the palaces that he was used to were in sight. It seemed that they had already left the part of the capital city where the titled gods were living and working.
He slightly furrowed his brows and then hurried up, falling into step next to Qiu Ling. “Long…” He interrupted himself and glanced at Qiu Ling’s face but with the mask on, he couldn’t see his expression. “Qiu Ling.”
Qiu Ling immediately stopped and looked over, pulling Jing He closer. “What’s the matter?”
Jing He hesitated for a moment but with another look around, he finally couldn’t hold back. He was indeed worried. “Where are we?”
Qiu Ling looked around and found himself presented with the very same problem. Yeah, where were they?
In fact, it wasn’t a wonder that he didn’t know. Anyway, he had only ever come to the Nine Heavens to see Jing He. How could he know every single place here? It was great already that he was able to find some of the more important palaces.
Even though that was the case, Qiu Ling was naturally unwilling to admit that he had done something wrong. “Uh … Weren’t we going to play some games?”
Even though Qiu Ling had no idea where they actually were either, he managed to look so confused at Jing He’s question, that the Son of Heaven couldn’t help but second-guess himself. Maybe this was actually the right way? Maybe it was him who was wrong because he normally didn’t leave his own palace and only took the same ways. It could very well be that the dragon king who had come to visit him several times already might’ve seen more of the capital city than he who actually lived here. There was such a possibility.
Thinking it through, Jing He finally gave a slightly embarrassed smile. “That was my fault then. I will just follow … Qiu Ling.” He almost would’ve used his title again but caught himself at the last moment.
Qiu Ling looked at him in a daze, way too happy that Jing He had used his actual name when addressing him to realize that he was in a bit of a pinch right now.
Jing He glanced up after a moment when Qiu Ling didn’t start walking again and slightly raised his brows behind the mask. “Is something the matter? We can continue. I’m sorry for stopping you before.”
Qiu Ling cleared his throat and shook his head. “There’s really no reason for you to apologize. If there is a question you have, then you should always ask it.” He held Jing He’s hand, gazing into his eyes.
He looked really calm on the surface. Inwardly, he was panicking though. Ah, now, he had pretended that he actually knew what he was doing and that they were on the way to do something. If he wasn’t able to lead Jing He to a place where they could actually take part in one of these games, then that really wouldn’t be looking good for him.
He once again cleared his throat and then turned around, pulling Jing He with him. He didn’t say anything for once and instead made use of his senses to try and figure out the way to go.
Most people had been gathered in the center of the capital city just a bit away from the palaces of the Imperial family and those palaces of the titled gods that helped with running the matters of the Nine Heavens. By now, they had long left that place though so the big crowds weren’t anywhere to be seen.
In fact, there were hardly any people close to them and there wasn’t any indication that the festival was actually going on around them. It was as if everyone had gone to the center of the capital to celebrate there. Well, that actually wasn’t too strange. It was just very inconvenient for him.
Realizing this, Qiu Ling panicked some more. This really wasn’t good. In any case, he couldn’t change it though. Thus he could only go to the noisiest place in their vicinity and hope that there were at least some festivities going on there. Well, maybe Heaven would be on his side and this would actually work. He should be having at least a bit of luck, shouldn’t he?
A few minutes later, the two of them arrived at a small square. It definitely couldn’t be compared to the big ones in the middle of the capital city. In fact, it couldn’t even be compared with the smaller ones but it was still big enough that a few stalls and several dozen people had room.
Qiu Ling almost heaved a sigh of relief when he saw the square but he held back at the last moment. Instead, he turned to Jing He and lightly inclined his head toward him. “See?” Feeling that this explanation wasn’t good enough yet, he even made up an excuse as to why they had come here instead of going to visit one of the stalls in the center. “I know that you dislike crowds. So even though we’re both wearing masks and probably wouldn’t be recognized, I thought that you might feel better if we went to one of the smaller squares instead of the big ones over there.”
Jing He who had been watching the scene in front of them felt a pang set his heart ablaze. To think that the dragon king would think so much on his behalf … Ah, and he had actually thought that maybe he had just lost his way! How could he think this badly of him? Obviously, whatever this man did, it was always with more than enough contemplation and he would even take his feelings into consideration. This man … Jing He couldn’t help but feel that he did not deserve such treatment.
He turned to him, his gaze unprecedentedly gentle. “Thank you. I … I can hardly believe that you would do this for me.”
Qiu Ling’s heart thumped and he really wanted to pull him into his arms but since they had already come here, he felt that it wouldn’t be the best moment. No, they should first enjoy the festival and then, he could still try to get closer. “I would do anything for you. Come on, let’s go and have some fun.” He pulled at his hand and the two of them made their way over to a stall that had several people crowded around it.
The man on the other side was a slightly older-looking gentleman with a hearty smile. At this moment, the man was addressing the crowd in front of him. “What? None of you know the answer? Don’t tell me my small riddle is being too hard for you!”
Some people were jokingly calling him shameless for coming up with a riddle that nobody would be able to solve while some others were sheepishly looking away, clearly a bit embarrassed that they didn’t know what the answer was.
Qiu Ling looked at the ones around them and then raised his brows. “What was the question?” Actually, he somewhat doubted that he would be able to solve it considering that he wasn’t even from the Nine Heavens. It might very well be that the question would be something that he had no knowledge of. Still, since he had come here and said that they would play a game, he would also feel strange if he didn’t at least ask.
Jing He didn’t complain but he was a little embarrassed when everybody turned to look at them.
The old man also turned to them, raising his brows. “What? Did the two of you just arrive?” He looked them over, his brows raising a little further when he noticed that they were wearing masks but he didn’t say anything about it. Anyway, quite a few people liked wearing masks for the Jiyi festival. That wasn’t anything strange.
Qiu Ling smiled at the man, thankful that he had just given him the opportunity to show off and then pulled Jing He closer to the side. “Yes, my fiance and I are from the Western Heavens. We came specifically to experience the festival in the capital city.
“I heard that you gave them a riddle. Could we also have a try? I can’t promise that I’ll know the answer but since we are already here I feel like we should at least give it a try. I wouldn’t want my fiance to say he missed out on anything after we return.” He turned to Jing He, pulling him even closer.
Jing He hurriedly lowered his head, obviously embarrassed.
The people around them couldn’t help but laugh. “Yo, young man, aren’t you a little too passionate? Even your fiance is embarrassed by your behavior!”
Qiu Ling just shook his head. “He’s just shy.” He nuzzled Jing He’s head, now that he finally had the opportunity to get close without having to worry about the positions before he turned back to the man that was manning the stall.
Jing He slightly turned in his arms, trying to bury his head at his neck. At the very least, that way, he wouldn’t have to see the other people.
Some of them were still chuckling but they quieted down when the older man cleared his throat.
“Well, seeing that this is such a special occasion for you, I’ll let you take part. In this game, you’re trying to guess a story. I will give three hints and you have to tell me who the story is about. If you can guess it with less than three hints, you’ll get a little something extra as a reward. Do you think you can do that?”
Qiu Ling blinked and then turned to look at Jing He in his arms. His own chances were probably pretty low but Jing He might be able to do it. “Well, I guess we won’t know who you don’t give it try, will we? So let’s go!”
The old man laughed and stepped aside, giving a nod at Qiu Ling. “Very well. Then listen closely! The first hint is the following: One of the people in the story climbed from the lowest to the highest of all realms.” The man stopped at that, looking at the two of them expectantly as if he felt that it should be perfectly obvious even though nobody else had been able to guess the answer before.