Jing Yi remembered many places in the Nine Heavens’ capital city as long as it was somewhere that Jing He had been before. The palace close to the ascension platform they had been given wasn’t directly one of those but after living there for several weeks and being shown around he knew where it was relative to the Court of Justice and other important palaces. Thus, he knew exactly how to get from there to Jing He’s palace.
Not only that, he also had a good grasp on how to get there without running into people thanks to Jing He’s antisocial behavior. Of course, when the crown prince went somewhere, he would always try to evade others on the way. After all, to him, he felt it difficult enough to maintain the right expression and show others the image that he deemed appropriate. Add in meeting people and having to talk to them would just make things worse for him.
Thus, whenever Jing He had gone out, he liked to be on his own and chose paths that weren’t frequented as often by other people. Or if that wasn’t possible he often went out with a person who would make people look at them instead like his parents or his uncle. Then, he could stand back and pretend to just be a demure youngster who knew his place and would not get involved in matters of the older generation unless he was asked for his opinion. Now, this specific knowledge came in quite handy.
Jing Yi silently made his way through the city, making sure that he didn’t run but still went at a fast pace. He didn’t want to seem suspicious but he also couldn’t waste any time. If he didn’t make it before Qiu Ling returned or the God of justice sent somebody else after him, then he could forget about this. He had one chance. Only one.
Finally, he found the familiar streets around Jing He’s palace and clenched his hands. Now, the only thing left to do was to get around the building so that the two guards at the gate wouldn’t see him.
He didn’t think that it would be difficult. From what he remembered, Qiu Ling had often entered the palace from the door to the garden and surely, he was still doing the same when he went there to see Jing He now that he was on his trial. So the guard should be used to hearing some things from back there. And as long as they didn’t know that Qiu Ling was currently at the Heavenly Emperor’s place, they would have no reason to suspect that it was anybody else entering.
Jing Yi didn’t get close to the building at first and instead moved around it far in the distance where the guards were less likely to notice him. Only when he was out of their field of vision did he get closer and finally passed by at the back of the building.
His gaze was drawn to the window that he knew to be right above Jing He’s bed. He narrowed his eyes and looked at it but he couldn’t see anything through it. Still, even without being able to see, he knew that right now, there should be guards inside as well. He didn’t think that Qiu Ling would ever let Jing He be alone and unguarded considering that he was in no position to protect himself.
Getting around those guards would be the trickiest part but it should be doable. After all, he had a very good excuse at the moment.
He passed by the window and then finally saw the garden for the first time in this life. Even though it had been years since Jing He had left for his trial, this place was still looking just as splendid as in his memories. The flowers were wafting in the air, carrying over a sweet scent. The pavilion where Jing He and Qiu Ling had sat together in the past, drinking tea or playing a game, sometimes even just talking for hours towered above the flowerbeds. He knew that if he went over and sat down, he would be able to overlook the beautiful sea of colors around him in all directions, having the best view from any of the points around the palace.
Jing Yi clenched his hands further when he saw this and then turned around, marching over to the door. He made sure to step over the threshold before he stopped and looked to Jing He’s bed-chamber.
As expected, at least one person was standing next to Jing He’s bed. What he hadn’t expected was that he actually recognized the person. His eyes widened and then he smiled. This might make things easier. “I remember you!”
Qiang Wei looked at him, needing a moment before he recognized Jing Yi. It had been some years since he had seen him in the mortal realm, so Jing Yi had naturally changed. Still, after a moment longer, he saw the resemblance to the mortal parents he had seen as well and also a hint of the former child.
He unwittingly requited his smile. “What’s the matter?” To be honest, he felt a little strange to suddenly see him here and that without his king. Actually, thinking of that … His brows furrowed a little. “Did something happen?”
Jing Yi hurriedly nodded, putting some worry into his expression before he spoke in a hurried tone. “Yes, I’m not sure how exactly it happened but Qiu Ling is really in a bind right now. He is at the Heavenly Emperor’s palace and I heard they almost came to blows. He needs all the help he can get but I didn’t know how to reach anyone in the dragon realm. Please! You have to go and help him! I’m afraid that he won’t get out of this alone.”
Qiang Wei wanted to storm outside when he heard that but then he stopped in his tracks, looking at Jing He. “But His Highness …”
Jing Yi shook his head. “Don’t worry. Aren’t Huang Lan and Mu Kun still outside at the front? Also, I’ll stay here. Back in the mortal realm, Qiu Ling taught me some defensive techniques. I wouldn’t be much help at the Heavenly Emperor’s palace but over here, I will be able to buy us some time at least until the guards can help.”
Qiang Wei finally nodded. “Alright, I’ll be back as soon as I can!” He didn’t feel good about leaving Jing He alone but then again, what Jing Yi was saying sounded logical. And contrary to An Bai who had spent some time with Jing Yi and realized that he held quite some unresolved anger toward Jing He, he had no idea about the undercurrents of the situation. Thus, he didn’t realize that the one he should actually be worried about was the person who had just sent him away.