RSH Stratagem 24: Better Yourself for Your Beloved’s Sake! (2)

Meanwhile, the person in question had rushed back to the dragon realm and then barged into An Bai’s room without bothering to knock. “You! It’s your lucky day!”

An Bai was startled into letting go of the book in his hands, making it drop to the ground. “Your … Your Majesty!” He stared at the king vigilantly, wondering what it might be this time. Somehow, he felt that his ‘lucky day’ might not be so lucky after all.

Qiu Ling didn’t bother about that and went over to the table, planting himself on the chair in front of it. “Quick. You teach me how to play an instrument.” He put his hands on the table, looking at An Bai expectantly.

An Bai continued to stare at him, wondering what this might be about. “An instrument …?”

Qiu Ling furrowed his brows. “Yes, didn’t I just say that? Why are you still talking so much?”

An Bai really didn’t know what to do with this person. “Your Majesty, while I certainly don’t mind teaching you anything, you will have to be a little more specific. What kind of instrument are we talking about?” He might not be a master with any of them but he definitely had solid skills with quite a few. So he really didn’t know which one it was that his Majesty was interested in. As for the reasons behind this … he had no illusions that his king was trying to better himself. This was definitely about the Son of Heaven again. He was probably just trying to impress him.

Well, An Bai wouldn’t complain about it. No matter why his king was doing this, the end result would still be the same. Learning something new was definitely good. As the king, he should always strive to grow both as a person and as a ruler. Not that he could complain about his king in that regard. While his attitude regarding his reign was a little lacking, An Bai knew that he tried hard. If there was a conflict, the king was sure to resolve it. If only he was a little more interested in other things … But, this was likely the best thing about him falling in love with the Son of Heaven: It was likely that His Highness would be able to inspire such wishes in him. He was definitely looking forward to that.

Qiu Ling looked at An Bai with a pensive gaze. “Well … What do you think is the best instrument to woo somebody?

An Bai’s brows twitched. He had known that this was the reason but that his king would actually announce it so blatantly … He couldn’t help but be a little astonished. Even though he probably should’ve been used it by now. “I guess it will depend on the person. Is there one that the Son of Heaven likes the most?”

Qiu Ling didn’t answer immediately. To be honest, this was difficult to answer. In his eyes, his beloved was definitely capable of doing anything. As for instruments … he could probably play an assortment of them. Who knew what his favorite one would be? “Can’t you teach me all of them?”

An Bai gave his king a look, trying to figure out if he was being serious or not. He usually had a hard time doing so. The things his king said … they were so absurd half of the time that he figured that it couldn’t have been what he actually meant. But then again, his expression always suggested otherwise. He just didn’t know what to make of this man’s behavior. In the end, An Bai could only smile wryly and give an honest answer as if he was sure that his king was not saying so in jest. “No, I’m afraid that will be impossible.”

Qiu Ling pouted as if he had actually expected another answer.

An Bai couldn’t help but explain a little more. “Well, I’m likely not telling Your Majesty anything new but mastering an instrument will take several years. Also, the Son of Heaven has likely spent more than a millennium working on his skills. He will be able to tell the difference.”

Qiu Ling slid down in his chair, his hands falling into his lap, and stared up at the ceiling. “I guess this won’t work. Well, forget about it then.” He got up and wanted to leave but An Bai hurriedly rushed after him and grabbed his sleeve.

“Your Majesty, wait!”

Qiu Ling looked back, staring at the hand that was holding onto his sleeve. It couldn’t be that he had misunderstood and this guy wasn’t into his beloved but into him, could it?

An Bai hurriedly retracted his hand. He knew that the last time, he had only gotten away because the Son of Heaven had spoken up for him. He definitely didn’t want to do anything wrong while he was alone with the king. “I’m sorry. I get overly excited. It’s just that I think that Your Majesty’s idea was very good. Even if you cannot master an instrument instantly, I am sure that the Son of Heaven would value that you are putting in the time to learn something for him. So I would suggest we think about what to do and find a way to make this work.”

Qiu Ling raised his brows. He was somewhat doubtful but he liked the idea that Jing He would like something that he did so he finally went back to the table and sat down again. “Well, I’m all ears.”

An Bai heaved a sigh of relief and followed him, sitting down on the chair opposite from him. “I do not know too much about His Highness but from what I know, I would guess that he should be especially proficient in all types of stringed instruments. They are something that is rather popular among scholars so he will likely have an interest in them as well. They are very … gentle and refined instruments so I guess they suit him.”

Qiu Ling nodded along, feeling that this was indeed the case. “So do you want me to learn that?”

An Bai shook his head. “To be honest, I would refrain from learning this kind of instrument, especially because His Highness knows so much about them. He will notice if Your Majesty’s ability isn’t up to par even sooner than he would with another instrument. Instead, I would suggest that Your Majesty goes with something that he might be less well-versed in himself and maybe surprise him instead. It will seem … intriguing.”

This time, Qiu Ling straightened up, happy with what he was hearing. “You mean I should make myself more interesting by learning something that he wouldn’t have thought I could play.” He really liked this idea!

An Bai nodded. “Yes. There are a lot of instruments that could fit. We should look for something that Your Majesty has a bit of affinity with. Let’s see what you would be interested in and then you can focus your efforts on learning this one instrument. You will not be able to play well immediately but with a bit of time, I’m sure that you will be able to show His Highness that you have the skills.

“Should it come to a situation where you have to play before you have been able to master it, you can always say that your duties have kept you from being able to practice regularly, making your skills slightly rusty. His Highness would surely understand.”

Qiu Ling nodded slowly. This really was a good idea. And this guy had even come up with the right excuse in case it didn’t. Not bad! It seemed he would need to be a little nicer to him in the future. “So, what kind of instrument do you think we should try?” Since An Bai had demonstrated that he was able to give good advice, Qiu Ling didn’t bother trying to be standoffish and immediately deferred to his opinion. He had to make the best out of this situation!

An Bai slightly furrowed his brows and pondered. Stringed instruments were a no-go, then that left either a wind instrument, a bowed instrument, or percussions. While he felt that his king might do well with percussion instruments, he wasn’t too sure if His Highness would like them. Most were also difficult to take along and set up quickly. Instead, the wind instruments or bowed instruments would likely be better in terms of that. “Well, how about this? I will go out and try to find a few samples so Your Majesty can give them a try. While I might be able to give some advice it is still better if Your Majesty can try them out on your own after all.”

Qiu Ling nodded, not feeling too worried. “Alright. You just hurry up! I’ve already waited for so long. How could I wait any longer? If it needs a lot of time to learn, then I should better start soon.”

An Bai got up and inclined his head, promising to hurry up. In any case, he didn’t think it would make a difference but if it made his king happy, then who was he to refuse?

« ToC »

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