An Bai’s wish was bound to be left unfulfilled. While he had settled down in the other room with a cup of tea and some snacks, the owner was still nervous after seeing him enter. After all, Scholar An Bai had just borrowed instruments for the king to choose from. If it turned out that the king hadn’t liked any of the ones he had chosen as a selection, then how could he let his adviser wait to pick up something else? And if the king was satisfied, then he also shouldn’t keep Scholar An Bai from tending to his own work.
Thus, the owner made it a point to hurriedly explain the situation to the other customer and then rushed over, looking a little exhausted. “Scholar An Bai, I’m very sorry to let you wait for so long.”
An Bai who had just made himself comfortable to drink the cup of tea looked up with a complicated expression. Sometimes, being well-known could also be a curse. He smiled but hurriedly shook his head. “There is no need to apologize. To be honest, I’m feeling sorry that I’ve disturbed your work. If you want to finish up on that front first, you should absolutely do so. I do have some time.”
Naturally, the owner couldn’t let that happen. “Ah, don’t worry. I’ve already explained to the other customer. It is alright to first finish this matter, especially since it is done on behalf of the king. It naturally takes priority over all other matters.”
An Bai nodded, feeling that it really was quite tragic. For once, he actually wanted to shirked his responsibilities for a short while but no matter what he did, people wouldn’t let him. He also didn’t know what else to do to make the owner reconsider. Well, in this case, he couldn’t change it. He could only give in to fate and answer the owner’s unasked question. “The king was very satisfied. He finally decided on one of the huqin. So I’ve come back to return the others.”
The owner heaved a sigh of relief. “His Majesty was satisfied. That is very good. If there’s anything else the king needs …”
An Bai shook his head. “No, not for the moment. Should there be something in the future, then I will naturally return here to discuss with you.”
The owner nodded and then didn’t quite know how to continue. “Well, Scholar An Bai is probably too busy to stay. Do you want to return the other instruments immediately and then …” He trailed off, unsure how to continue. He didn’t want to make him feel like he wasn’t welcome but he was afraid of keeping this person for too long. This man was important. How could he just sit around in his store?
An Bai smiled wryly. He had wanted to spend a bit more time here but somehow, that didn’t seem to be possible. In that case, he should probably just get it over with. “Well, you have another customer so it would be rude of me to stay any longer. I can just take care of matters with your assistant. No need to ignore the other customers because of me. In any case, it isn’t like I’m trying to choose something. I’m sure that the other people would need more help.”
The owner nodded and smiled warmly. He couldn’t help but think that this Scholar An Bai was really such a nice and polite person. Even for a simple merchant like him, he would think so much ahead. “Well, if it truly doesn’t bother Scholar An Bai, then I will indeed return. Don’t worry. My assistant is able to handle everything.”
An Bai gave a hum and inclined his head, watching the owner leave. When he was out of earshot, he couldn’t help but sigh. Ah, this really wasn’t how he had imagined things to turn out. It seemed that he would have to return in just a moment and see how His Majesty was doing. Well, there was nothing he could do about that.
At that time, back in the dragon king’s palace, Xiang Yong was sitting with his head in his hands. He had thought that this audible torture couldn’t go on for much longer. But now, it had been at least half an hour and the horrendous sounds had not stopped for even a second. He couldn’t hear any kind of improvement and his patience was really wearing thin. He didn’t mind if An Bai wanted to test some disciples but did he have to do it at this kind of time where normal people wanted to work? And for such a long time as well?
Finally, he couldn’t help himself. He sighed, got up, and went over to knock on the door. The sounds from inside stopped but nobody asked him to come in.
Well, Qiu Ling saw no reason to actually answer. In any case, this wasn’t his study. Whoever came here likely wanted to talk to An Bai. And since An Bai wasn’t back yet, what good would it do him to invite that person in? He looked at the door for a moment and then just shrugged his shoulders, turning around, and trying the huqin out again.
Xiang Yong who had just started to hope that the people inside might have gotten a hint immediately flinched when the so-called music started again. His brows twitched and he finally just opened the door after a second knock didn’t get an answer either. When he saw that his king was the one sitting there … he didn’t know how to continue.
Qiu Ling stopped moving the bow and looked over his shoulder, giving Xiang Yong a long look. “What are you doing?”
Xiang Yong opened his mouth, but nothing came out. In any case, he also didn’t know what to do. This person … didn’t he realize how awful his playing sounded? Xiang Yong stepped inside and then closed the door behind him. He forced himself to smile and then motioned at the instrument in Qiu Ling’s hands. “Your Majesty … picked up a new hobby?”
Qiu Ling also looked at the huqin at that and then gave a hum. “Ah, I intend to show my beloved my wide range of skills.”
Xiang Yong gaped at him and couldn’t help but gulp. “May I ask when Your Majesty is intending to do so?” Because if this was anytime soon, he was afraid that the only thing he would manage to do was to make the Son of Heaven flee in horror. This sounded as if he had no idea how to play!
Qiu Ling pursed his lips. He could also imagine just what it was that Xiang Yong wanted to say. “Well, I only started learning today so naturally, I will take some time to get better. As soon as it sounds better, I’m going to use it.” He still maintained the thought that if he just tried enough, it couldn’t take too long. Thinking of that, he once again started to play.
Xiang Yong pulled up his shoulders and then went over and motioned at the other seat. “What about An Bai? I guess that Your Majesty came here so he could teach you?” He knew that An Bai was at least a decent musician. He should be able to teach His Majesty better than this.
Qiu Ling gave a hum. “Well, he went to bring back the other instruments. I don’t know when he’ll be back.”
Xiang Yong nodded, his expression a little difficult. Right now, he really wished that he knew more about music so he could teach him himself. That way, he at least wouldn’t need to be tortured anymore. Unfortunately, growing up, he had never had the chance to learn. It had been difficult enough to learn the skills he needed to become an adviser later on. He had never had the leisure time to pick up something like this which could be considered a useless skill to him. Who knew that today it might actually come in handy? “Well, is there nobody else who could teach you?”
Qiu Ling looked at him pensively but couldn’t think of any names. Well, even if one of his other advisers was able to play, he also wouldn’t know it. “No. Well, I’m sure I’ll be able to teach myself.” With that, he just went back to trying to play the huqin.
Xiang Yong held his forehead and inwardly felt like praying that An Bai would return as soon as possible. He definitely wouldn’t be able to take this noise much longer.