What was lying inside the box was a spatial ring. Usually, this type of thing wasn’t anything special in the immortal realms but the story behind this particular one changed things somewhat. This ring was from a time before the curse. Even back then, it had been their family that reigned over the Nine Heavens. But the gods had not been monogamous yet and had instead had several partners. This was especially true for the Heavenly Emperor who was said to need to pass down his bloodline as often as possible to ensure that the family would not die out in the future.
In a long line of rulers that followed this idea, there was only one person that stood out because he refused to follow the same path. He was the oldest son of the Heavenly Emperor at that time and also the one born by the Heavenly Empress. Thus, he was the one most likely to inherit the title. But when his father and mother sent women for him to marry, he would refuse without fail, only stating that he would never marry a person that he didn’t love.
Who knew what it was that had made him think like this? Maybe he had seen that the relationship between his parents was not as close as he wished to have one with his spouse. It was absolutely possible. In any case, he staunchly continued to refuse, no matter what it was that his parents tried to convince him.
The Heavenly Empress was especially distraught because it wasn’t like her husband didn’t have other children. If need be, the throne could be given to somebody else. Where would she put her face then? And … who knew what would become of her son?
Contrary to the stories that Jing He had heard from the mortal realm, it hadn’t been the usual path to harm your siblings even in the fight for the throne. The laws of the Nine Heavens had forbidden that from the very beginning. And even though this position of Heavenly Emperor was one that many longed for, the law was upheld without fail. There had even been a few cases where somebody tried to actually usurp the throne, but they had always been killed after getting caught. With time, this kind of practice died down. Nobody wanted to risk their lives for a vague chance after all. It really needed a deranged person for something like that.
In any case, the legitimate son of the Heavenly Emperor was still the best candidate to inherit if not for this one problem. Thus, the Heavenly Emperor was willing to give him a chance. After all, passing down the throne was not just about who he favored among his children personally but about doing what was best for the people. And he could also see that among the children he already had, this one was the most promising.
Thus, instead of trying to blindly introduce somebody to him, his parents instead tried to make him spend time with some candidates so he could actually fall in love. Unfortunately, things did not turn out as intended. After all, what his parents chose these people for weren’t their likable personalities and great charm but the benefits this relationship would have for their son’s reign. How could he fall in love with any of them?
Furthermore, unbeknown to his parents, he already had somebody in his heart. It was just that this person was really not eligible to become his spouse. But with this person in front of his eyes each day, how could he fall in love with somebody else?
Finally, the three of them reached an impasse, and the Heavenly Emperor started to consider his other children more, feeling that there really was no reason to focus on this one child so much if he was unrepentant and still didn’t intend to get married and fall in love.
The Heavenly Empress really was at the end of her rope at this point. She did not want her son to miss out so she constantly went to him, trying to get him to finally mend his ways. But her son really did not seem to have any interest in doing so.
In the end, even though the Heavenly Emperor had looked for alternatives, it was still this son who he chose to pass his throne to despite the fact that this son still hadn’t gotten married and also hadn’t indicated that there was anybody he was interested in. The Heavenly Emperor was worried, but after deliberating for a long time and testing his other children, he just realized that no matter what, this one was still the best choice. He was quite angry at him, but what could he do?
In any case, in the following years, it turned out that the Heavenly Emperor had made the right decision. His son’s reign was one that could even be said to surpass his own. No matter which of the nine Heavens one looked at, the people were thriving, the economy flourishing, and they had reached a cultural peak that other periods could hardly compare to.
When everything had been achieved and there really was nothing anybody could say about his rule, the newly crowned Heavenly Emperor finally made his move. The person he asked to be his one and only Empress … was none other than the servant that had been at his side all along.
Who knew when he had fallen in love? But he had always kept his feelings in his heart, to the point where even the recipient of these feelings was left shocked when they were finally confessed.
It took some time to get used to, but in the end, the two of them got married. They had a set of twins later on, and one of them had acceded to the throne, continuing with the ways of the Heavenly Emperors before his father and taking more than one spouse, until Tian’s curse finally hit the three immortal races.
No matter which aspect of the story Jing He considered, he felt that it was one that stood out in the history of the Nine Heavens. It was the story of a pair of lovers that were clearly meant to be. It was one of perseverance, longing, and proof that if one worked toward a goal, then even the unlikeliest of relationships could come true. If he did not give this to the dragon king, then what else would he gift?
Furthermore, the necklace that they had won the other day at the Jiyi festival had been left in his hands and it was something that was from the dragon realm, even though it had been in the hands of a trueborn god. Now, this was another token of love from the Nine Heavens but it was supposed to go to the dragon realm. He felt that it was quite apt.
The Heavenly Emperor noticed that his son had suddenly started to smile to himself and couldn’t help but go over to look what was happening. Seeing the box in his hands and the ring inside, he couldn’t help but slightly furrow his brows. “Do you want to give that to him?” He felt that it didn’t look like much.
The ring was actually quite simple. Considering the identity of the one receiving it, the Heavenly Emperor back then had made sure to use a rather plain ring that was able to show his feelings and how much he was willing to consider the side of the one he had asked to be his empress.
Jing He froze when his father suddenly spoke up and remembered that he definitely couldn’t let his true thoughts be found out. He turned to his father, a faint smile on his lips, that was neither too bright nor too faint. “Does father not think that it is appropriate?”
The Heavenly Emperor pursed his lips. “Well, I still don’t see why exactly we are supposed to send anything over. I guess if we have to, then this kind of small thing should be enough. Don’t think too much about whether it is appropriate or not.”
Jing He’s expression was a little complicated when his father said so. He really didn’t know what to say to this. But, well, he probably shouldn’t be surprised at this. Hadn’t his father always been like this? “Longjun is a person who values his appearance very much and I think it fits his style.”
The Heavenly Emperor pouted even more. “That’s a nice way to say that he is vain and will like anything that is gaudy.” Why was his son paying so much attention to that guy anyway?
Jing He gave a noncommittal smile and closed the box. “If father is not against it, then I think we should indeed send this.”
Even if his father thought about this badly, even if the dragon king would never find out what the true meaning behind this gift was, to be able to give it to the dragon king and knowing in his heart that it was his love confession was already enough. He didn’t need more. Just knowing that, in his own way, he had at one point made his feelings clear and stopped doubting himself was enough.
As for outright admitting to these feelings, he knew that he couldn’t do it. Maybe he would never be able to do so. But at least this kind of hidden confession should be allowed.