Jing Yi didn’t notice Qiu Ling’s mood and continued with his line of questioning. “Was there really no one? But wouldn’t that have been really boring? And lonely? I really couldn’t imagine living like that.”
Bai Fen sighed. “Well, your life has been pretty different from Jing He’s. Naturally, it would be difficult for you to imagine this.” She didn’t say anything more as if the matter had been finished for her.
Jing Yi wasn’t quite happy but he had the distinct feeling that asking any further would indeed not yield any result and might actually make things more difficult. That wasn’t what he wanted so he instead tried to come up with something else. He had never really had the chance to think about this before though since he hadn’t known that he would get such a chance so he had a bit of trouble coming up with something right at this moment. “You mentioned that he liked painting a lot. Can I see something that he did?”
Bai Fen was a little taken aback when she heard that question. She couldn’t even explain it herself. Actually, this one was innocuous enough. Compared with the one from before, it could even be said to be a much better one. She couldn’t detect anything mean-spirited from it. Maybe it was because of that that she hadn’t expected it to go this way and didn’t quite know what to say.
“Well, I guess there’s nothing speaking against that.” In any case, Jing He was very talented when it came to painting. Showing one of them to somebody would never be a problem. Even though he was self-conscious, even Jing He knew that there was no reason to be self-conscious about these paintings. And even when the other person was Jing Yi, she didn’t think that there was any problem with it. Well, other than one maybe.
“I’m afraid I don’t have any of them. I’ll have somebody go and fetch one from his palace.” In any case, she knew that Jing Yi would have liked to go over there and take a look himself, but she absolutely wouldn’t allow that. Just like Qiu Ling, she also had the distinct feeling, that it wouldn’t be a good idea and would only make more trouble later on.
Jing Yi nodded in response. To be honest, he would’ve thought that Bai Fen would have at least one of his paintings at her palace. “Did he never gift you one?”
Bai Fen motioned at one of the maids to go and get one of the paintings and then shook her head at Jing Yi, not thinking too much about his question. “No, I guess in his mind, they weren’t very fitting. Jing He always paid a lot of mind to etiquette and even though I wouldn’t say that his paintings are bad, it wasn’t like he was a renowned painter. So gifting one of his paintings to his mother probably wouldn’t have been the right thing to do in his mind.”
Jing Yi raised his brows, feeling that this was quite strange. “But you are his mother. Surely, you would’ve liked to receive something personal from him, right?” He was pretty sure that his own mother would have been like this.
Bai Fen also nodded. “No matter what it was, I always would have been happy. Jing He is my child. Naturally, I will be happy no matter what it is that he chooses. Just the fact that he thinks of me is good enough. He doesn’t need to go to any pains to find a good gift.
“But that isn’t what this is about. Both of us have a certain status in the Nine Heavens. With that, there are some consequences. Gifting just anything could look bad to outsiders. And Jing He isn’t the type of person to let that happen.” She kept quiet for a moment and then sighed. “I can understand why this might be confusing to you. You weren’t born in a family like ours.
“But even in the mortal realm, it would be the same in an Emperor’s family. Families with some more status would also observe such rules, although it might not be to the same degree. But you came from a simple village if I remember this right. Naturally, things would be different there. You simply don’t put the same emphasis on such things.” Even though she didn’t know much about Jing Yi’s life, she had still heard the rundown of Jing He’s mortal fate from one of the scribes to make sure that she would be able to be there for him when he returned. So she had at least a general idea about Jing Yi’s life.
Jing Yi couldn’t help but furrow his brows when she said that even though he knew that she was right. It was just that he was once again reminded that Jing He had something more in this regard than him. And also, he was much closer to Qiu Ling because of that and would be able to stand beside him. As the dragon king, Qiu Ling definitely also had to follow a lot of rules. Jing He would do a much better job at supporting him in that regard than he ever could. No wonder his advisers liked him.
After another moment, the maid returned with one of the paintings that Jing He had done. Since all of them were filed away in Jing He’s study, it hadn’t been difficult to find one. She handed it to the Heavenly Empress and then retreated.
Bai Fen looked at it and wondered if this was really a good thing to show Jing Yi. Glancing at him, she finally sighed. In any case, there were a lot of paintings and the things he had drawn especially for the last years before he descended to the mortal realm were pretty much all following the same pattern. So even if she sent the maid back to get another one, there wouldn’t be much of a difference because she would definitely bring back something very similar to this one. Thus, she merely sighed and then handed it over.
“This should be a painting that he did shortly before the start of his trial.” She wondered if she should say something more about it but then decided against it. In any case, it should be pretty self-explanatory.