The two of them left the stall afterward and even exited the small square, instead just wandering through the neighborhood with the sounds from the festival once again becoming a quiet backdrop.
Jing He was still holding onto the small chest, looking at the small necklace inside.
Qiu Ling glanced at him, his lips curling up in a smile. “What a coincidence that it is from the dragon realm of all places.”
Jing He looked up at him, stopping in his tracks. A coincidence … Maybe that was what it was. Or maybe … there was something more to that. “Has Longjun ever heard of the story of Lu Yu and Yong Xia?”
Qiu Ling didn’t really know where he wanted to go with this but he still shook his head honestly. “I guess it is a story of the god race. That is, unfortunately, not something I’m very familiar with.”
“Then would Longjun like to hear it?”
Qiu Ling stepped closer, lightly touching Jing He’s hand. “Are we really back to using our titles now?”
Jing He’s face flushed red and he turned away, putting the small chest in his spatial bracelet. “If you don’t want to hear it, then you don’t have to.”
Qiu Ling kept up with him, not disturbed in the least. In fact, the fact that Jing He had neither used his name nor his title just now brought a small smile to his lips. “To be honest, I would like to hear it.” In fact, whether it was this story or any other story, he would like to hear it as long as the one telling it was Jing He. He held back from saying that though. There was a line that shouldn’t be crossed. “So, just what happened with these two? It sounded like they were a pair of lovers?”
Jing He calmed down when he heard that question and nodded. “They were indeed. They were … a quite unlikely pair if I may say so. Yong Xia was originally born a mortal like I said before in answer to that riddle. He cultivated to immortality and became an ascended deity, entering the Nine Heavens.
“The ascended deities … they are free to settle down wherever they want. Just like any trueborn god would as well. Yong Xia decided to leave the capital city where he arrived and instead went to the Northeastern Heaven. There, he met a trueborn god named Lu Yu.”
“I presume the two of them fell in love?”
Jing He nodded. “You’re right with that. Some versions of the story say that it was love at first sight while others say that it was a long path until the two of them were mutually in love. Who knows what exactly transpired? It is only known that one day, Lu Yu was caught in an accident and lost his life.”
The two of them stopped in their tracks as if say had agreed on it and turned to look at each other. Qiu Ling reached out, gently taking Jing He’s hand again and holding onto it, not saying anything.
Jing He didn’t prevent him. He just looked at him as well, his gaze difficult. “The story might’ve been over just like that but Lu Yu was in a slightly special situation himself. At the time when the two of them met, he had been undergoing a trial.
“Normally, one would do so in the mortal realm but it was an exception. Nobody knows why something like that would happen or if there was some deeper meaning to it. Some would say that maybe it was prevision, something destined in the High Heavens to allow these two people to meet. In any case, while Lu Yu woke up in his true body, his memories were not yet intact.”
Qiu Ling lightly raised his brows. “He did not remember his lover?”
Jing He nodded. “Not for the time being anyway. As it is with these trials, they would be useless if one knew that it was a trial. The god in question will only ever remember their original life when returning to their body. And they will only remember the life they led in the trial after a few days of adjustment. It is quite normal. But in this case, it could’ve ended fatally.
“Yong Xia was devastated. He had never loved a person as much as he loved Lu Yu and he was unable to deal with this loss. A few days passed but he still couldn’t accept it. Others might’ve waited and tried to deal with these feelings on their own but Yong Xia wasn’t willing to do so. He did not know much about the immortal realms but he had heard of the High Heavens and also of Tian.”
There was a faint smile on Jing He’s lips when he mentioned that person, making Qiu Ling feel a little unhappy. Before he could say anything though, Jing He already continued.
“So before Lu Yu could regain the memories of his trial, Yong Xia went and climbed up the mountain to the High Heavens, the highest realm. It is said that he did meet Tian there and that he asked for Lu Yu to be reborn. Nobody knows what exactly happened there but in the end, Tian sent him back down, telling him where he would be able to find his lover Lu Yu’s true self.
“Yong Xia followed his words and came to find his lover in his true body on the other side of the Nine Heavens. There was a period of adjustment, naturally, since he was not exactly the person that he had fallen in love with before. But their feelings were strong enough. After some time, the problems were overcome and they found happiness again. They were a match made in Heaven, after all.”
The two of them kept quiet for a while until Qiu Ling gave a low hum. “A match made in Heaven … I can see that this notion seems to have quite some appeal to you.”
Indeed. Speaking of this story, there was a small, almost unnoticeable smile on Jing He’s lips and his gaze showed wonder and maybe a hint of longing. Obviously, his feelings on this were quite strong.
Jing He’s gaze was puzzled when it met Qiu Ling’s. “Longjun’s meaning is …”
Qiu Ling didn’t answer immediately. He continued to look at him for a while and then reached up, taking off his mask. Looking at Jing He with his face uncovered, he finally reached out to take off Jing He’s mask as well. He pulled him over to a nearby boulder and the two of them sat down side by side.
Jing He didn’t know what to expect. He could only look at this man, feeling his breath faintly being stuck in his throat. He did not know why but his heartbeat seemed to accelerate. He deeply felt that whatever Longjun would say in the next moment … it might change everything.
Qiu Ling put down the masks and then grasped Jing He’s hands again, looking at him deeply. “The other day we spoke about what your deepest wish was. I promised you that I would realize on my own and I swore to myself that — if it was possible at all — I would fulfill it.
“I feel like I see now.”
Jing He looked at him, unable to retract his gaze. He waited for him to continue to speak with bated breath.
“A match made in Heaven … That is what you are looking for, isn’t it? A partner that will be true to you from the first day on and stay so for all eternity. Somebody that will never fail you, never betray you, never look at anyone but you. To love you, to hold you, to realize your heart’s every wish.”
Yes, this was Jing He’s most heartfelt wish. It was so obviously the case, that Qiu Ling wondered how he had been able to overlook it until now. Hadn’t he come close to this realization often enough? Why had it taken him until now to fully realize and speak these words?
But whatever the case, he had finally come to know. He pulled Jing He’s hands closer and then leaned toward him, his breath brushing Jing He’s cheeks. “I’ve told you that I love you the moment I fell in love. Nothing has changed about my feelings in these years and it won’t do so in the future either. I’m just afraid that you will have trouble believing it.”
Jing He wanted to speak up and deny it but there was no sound coming out. He could only stare at the dragon king, his gaze saying too much.
Qiu Ling lightly shook his head and raised one hand, putting a finger against his lips. “Don’t say anything. I … I can understand. I’ve lived long enough to see what people are able to do. One day, you might think that they love you but the next day, you will end up with a blade in your back. Being careful … it isn’t wrong. In fact, it might be better to be.
“You don’t have to believe me immediately. I will show you. Bit by bit, I’ll prove to you that I can be that person for you. I don’t know how long it will take and I don’t know yet what I will have to do for you to believe me but I promise you that I will. Whatever you require of me, I will do it.”
Jing He looked at him, the doubts he had felt already alleviating by quite a bit. He wanted to believe it. He really did. In fact, maybe a part of him was already willing to do so. Maybe part of him was able to see this future of theirs that the dragon king was painting for him. It was not impossible. In these years, his feelings had already changed. And seeing the dragon king stay at his side for this long even without any hope given to him, he did feel that maybe he was the right one.
Qiu Ling leaned closer, finally just pulling Jing He into his arms, their cheeks brushing against each other. “I do believe that we are a match made in Heaven. And I will wait until you believe it as well. I will not give up. Never. That is the promise I will give you.”
Author’s Note: This is already the end of the second volume of “Romancing the Son of Heaven”. How many volumes there are overall? No idea 😅 We are still in volume 3 over on Patreon and there is still quite a bit more to come. But there may or may not be exactly 69 stratagems in this series so take that for what you want 😏