RSH Stratagem 25: The Perfect Spouse (1)

Qiu Ling couldn’t necessarily be called a patient man. Also, he wasn’t too eager to try something new in front of an audience. So after Xiang Yong came over, he only managed to try playing for a few more minutes before he gave up in a bad mood. “Whatever. I’ll practice a bit more later again.”

Xiang Yong looked up, his expression wavering between hopefulness and terror. If he understood this correctly, this meant that his king wanted to stop playing now. That was definitely something to look forward to. Unfortunately, it also sounded like he wanted to pick up the instrument again later on. That was something he definitely didn’t want to see or rather hear.

He hesitated for a moment but then cleared his throat. “Your Majesty, are you sure that you want to do this?” He wasn’t quite sure but he felt that his king probably didn’t have any musical talent.

Unfortunately for him, Qiu Ling was serious about this. “Jing He loves music. Of course, I would put in the effort and time to make this work. Just wait. I’m sure that in a few weeks, I’ll be able to play something nice for him.” In any case, it didn’t need to be difficult. His beloved would probably be happy to hear a slightly simpler tune as well. Or maybe he should just try to learn one melody and play that? Ah, no, he should definitely have two or three in his repertoire that he could perform for him depending on his mood. If he wasn’t able to play anything else, that wouldn’t be a problem. This was just for showing off once. Although maybe he could learn other tunes later on so he could play for him again. Yes, this idea wasn’t bad.

Xiang Yong had no idea what Qiu Ling was up to but he still didn’t like the thought of him practicing anymore in the dragon king’s palace. By all right, this place was Qiu Ling’s but there were still other people living here. The dragons weren’t like the gods after all where every titled god had a palace of their own. No, the important people of the dragon race all lived together in this very building. So did their king really need to torture them every day from now on?

He cleared his throat and then tried to have a conversation about the problem. “Your Majesty, I really don’t think it’s a good idea to practice here.”

Qiu Ling furrowed his brows. “What are you talking about? What’s so bad about practicing here?”

Xiang Yong wasn’t quite sure how to answer that for a moment. He didn’t think that his king was necessarily the type of person that would actually care about what others thought of how well they were able to live their lives. Thus, he couldn’t try to explain it with that. If he did, his king would likely just harrumph and tell him that these people should probably better get used to it or something.

No, if he wanted him to listen, he could only bring this back to His Highness. Somehow, that was the only type of explanation that his king was willing to listen to. “Well …” He drew out the sound, trying to give himself a bit more time to think of something.

Qiu Ling’s brows slowly rose. “Yes?”

Xiang Yong cleared his throat in a last attempt to gain another second before he started with the best explanation he had been able to come up with. “Well, this is supposed to be a surprise for His Highness, right? In that case, is Your Majesty really willing to risk the surprise element of gaining this new talent by playing here? If somebody who didn’t know that this was supposed to be a surprise was to talk about it and it reached His Highness’ ears, then wouldn’t that ruin your great idea?” The longer he talked, the more confident he became in his idea so he just went on after making the first point. “Also, don’t you want to make it seem like you have had this skill all along? In that case, wouldn’t it be better to not let somebody hear your … diligent practice in the early days? Otherwise, if word gets out that you were only starting to practice now, His Highness might have different thoughts on this.”

Qiu Ling gave a hum. Somehow, he felt that this guy had been making that up just now but he couldn’t deny that there was some merit to what he said as well. It might indeed be better if he didn’t play here. “Well, I guess you’re not completely wrong. In that case, I will try to find a better place.”

Xiang Yong barely held back a sigh of relief and finally just slightly inclined his head. “Very well. If I should help you find a place, then please say so. I will immediately see what I can do.”

Qiu Ling pursed his lips but then shook his head. Throwing the instrument into his spatial ring, he got up from where he had been sitting. “No need. I know the dragon realm well enough. I’m sure I can find something on my own.” He turned away and then just left An Bai’s study, as well as the dragon king’s palace.

Outside, he immediately pushed off the ground, rising into the air, and wondered where he should go. Leaving the capital city behind him … he finally found himself in the Nine Heavens again.

He blinked his eyes and then very naturally went to Jing He’s palace. Nobody had said that he needed to find a place to learn how to play that instrument immediately. He might as well check whether his father-in-law was still bothering his beloved. If not, then he could as well have a look to see how he was doing and spend some more time with him. If he was still there, he could probably just leave again.

Well, at the very least, this was what Qiu Ling told himself. Needless to say, that absolutely wasn’t what happened.

Qiu Ling landed on the roof and bypassed the array keeping people from eavesdropping on the conversations held inside just as usual. He had to try and find out what was going on in the room below after all. What he heard was the sound of steps. They weren’t the light steps of his beloved though. Instead, they sounded quite a bit like those of his future father-in-law.

Qiu Ling pursed his lips, not quite happy with this. He had hoped that he would be able to go in and speak with Jing He but now it seemed that this really wouldn’t work out as he had hoped. Well, on second thought, steps might mean that he was about to leave so Qiu Ling stayed put and continued to listen.

For a few minutes, there was nothing else but that sound. The steps weren’t going toward the door but were instead shuffling from one side to the other and then back again as if the Heavenly Emperor was pacing up and down. Qiu Ling was a little curious about what had happened but there was no way to find out.

Inside the palace, Jing He had lowered his head but was keeping an eye on his father who was indeed walking up and down in a tangled mood. He kind of regretted what he had said before. He had thought that it was innocuous enough to just say that the dragon king wasn’t as bad as he had thought. At the very least, this wasn’t making his true feelings for that man known.

He knew that if he told the whole truth, his father would definitely overreact. But he had thought that just this bit might still be alright. As it turned out, he had gotten it completely wrong. Even this much was too much for his father to bear. As soon as he had heard it, his expression had changed and a moment later, he had gotten to his feet and started pacing.

Since then, he hadn’t stopped even once. He was mumbling to himself every now and then but hadn’t really engaged in conversation any longer. By this point, Jing He was weary. He hadn’t slept much last night and also hadn’t been able to make up for it over the day. If he could, he really would have liked to rest by now but with his father being like this, he also didn’t think that he could just tell him to leave. How would that look anyway? Thus, he just stayed silent, hoping that his father would soon come to a conclusion for whatever it was he was currently pondering.

Another few minutes went by without any change in the situation. Jing He actually felt his eyelids become heavy. He really would’ve liked to just go back to sleep. Since that wasn’t possible, he finally reached out to brew another pot of tea and pour himself a cup.

The movement from his son finally made Rong Su stop and turn around. Looking at Jing He with a complicated expression, he finally went back to the table and put his hands on his shoulders. “Jing He, dear, we’d better speak frankly.”

Jing He immediately forgot about the tea when his father behaved like this and looked up at him, blinking his eyes that seemed a little misty. “What is the matter, father?” In fact, he knew that he couldn’t speak frankly. If he did say his true thoughts, who knew how his father would react? He wasn’t willing to risk it. So in this case, he could only lie, no matter how wrong that would be.

Rong Su looked at his son, the bad feeling in his stomach getting even worse. His son was too beautiful and excellent all around. How did a man like the dragon king deserve him? No, he wouldn’t let that happen. He had to slowly but surely steer Jing He in the right direction. “If you were able to choose, then what kind of characteristics would you like your future spouse to have?”

Jing He’s expression blanked. “My … future spouse?” So far, his father had never really spoken about this. At most, he used to comment on how this or that man wasn’t good enough and that there was still a lot of time before they even needed to think about this. Where was this talk about his future spouse suddenly coming from?

Rong Su could see that his son was a little confused and actually felt complacent inside. Look at this! Even though the dragon king was trying to lead his son astray, Jing He also wasn’t that easy to fall into the trap. He might still be too young to completely understand but at the very least, he hadn’t had any useless thoughts.

“Well, you don’t need to think about it yet but you’ve also come of age now. Sooner or later, you will be getting married. At that time, we naturally have to make the best decision for you. You can’t just marry anyone, can you? So, the ideal spouse, what would you imagine them to be like?”

Up on the roof, Qiu Ling’s eyes widened. His beloved’s ideal spouse … it seemed he should take some notes on that.

« ToC »

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