After he had seen his nephew’s condition, Qiang Yan did indeed not lose any time and immediately rushed to the dragon realm as soon as the sun went up the next morning. Reaching the capital city, he didn’t waste any time either, and went to the dragon king’s palace, intending to catch one of his advisers.
Considering their past encounters, he decided that the best one to ask about this would be An Bai. But when he came to his study, he actually found that An Bai wasn’t alone. Raising his brows, Qiang Yan looked from one person to the other, not quite sure if his objective could still be reached as easily. “Adviser An Bai, adviser Xiang Yong, what a surprise!”
While An Bai just greeted him normally, Xiang Yong gave a faint smile. “Since the God of War he dropped by, the ones who should be surprised are us I believe. What may I do for the God of War?”
Qiang Yan smiled wryly, feeling that his chances of inquiring for the truth had drastically diminished. An Bai was clearly a very honest person but this Xiang Yong was a shrewd man. If he felt that it would be beneficial to his king to lie, then probably not even a single word of his could be trusted. Unfortunately, he also couldn’t pull back now or he would have trouble inquiring in the future since he would make Qiu Ling’s advisers suspicious. Thus, he could only persevere and speak up.
“Ah, actually, it’s not much. I heard that the anniversary of Longjun’s coronation was coming up soon.” He cleared his throat, still looking a little uncomfortable. “In the past, we usually had somebody from the Court of Justice handle this kind of matter but considering the relationship between Longjun and my nephew right now, we figured that it might be better to change things a bit.”
An Bai’s brows raised imperceptibly and he motioned toward the other chair in front of the desk. “We’re honored that the gods would think so much on our king’s behalf. Why does the God of War not take a seat? I’m sure that whatever it is that you want to inquire about, we can certainly find a satisfying answer.”
Qiang Yan nodded and went over, taking a seat together with the two of them. So far, things weren’t going that badly. He just didn’t quite know how to casually inquire about what the king was doing right now. “Well, to be honest, there isn’t much. We thought that’s sending a gift would be the appropriate way to show appreciation for Longjun and the alliance between our races. Longjun has managed to make a long period of peace possible. Naturally, us gods are also thankful for that.”
Xiang Yong gave a hum, clearly agreeing with him. “Well, I can’t say that there’s anything wrong with that. What exactly is the God of War’s question though?”
“Well, my nephew picked something out but there’s the question of how appropriate certain gifts might be. I wonder if adviser Xiang Yong and adviser An Bai would have any recommendations?”
The two of them exchanged a glance, a hint of surprise flashing in their eyes. Finally, it was An Bai who spoke up. “There aren’t really any customs that would need to be observed there. In any case, this is a present that comes from somebody who isn’t of our race. I think that in this case, the God of War should just trust in His Highness’ choice.”
Qiang Yan slightly raised his brows, feeling that the two were too easy-going. But then again, Longjun would definitely be ecstatic as well if he heard that Jing He had picked out the gift for him himself. Naturally, his advisers would be in favor of that. “Do you not even want to take a look?”
“His Majesty’s gift, how could we presume to lay eyes upon it first?” Xiang Yong gave a noncommittal smile and looked at him as if he was just waiting for him to ask more.
Now, Qiang Yan really felt the pressure. There weren’t really any other questions. The only important one would be what exactly the dragon king was doing right now. But he felt that it was still too early. “Then, might I inquire about the timeline a bit? I’m sure that right now, the preparations will already have started, right?” He looked from Xiang Yong to An Bai and back again as if looking for confirmation.
Xiang Yong nodded. “Actually, they have been going on for several weeks already. Right now is the busiest time. After all, it’s only a few more days.”
An Bai nodded, and then couldn’t help but inquire further. “What exactly about the process is it that the God of War wants to know more about?”
“Well, it really isn’t much. But we were wondering about how exactly to send the present. Is there a time that would be suitable for that? And how important would be just who sends it? I was of the impression that maybe this anniversary would be a special kind?”
Once again, he saw the two advisers share a glance, but at least An Bai was clearly a little puzzled. So, whatever the reason was, this anniversary wasn’t that special that it would make Longjun pay more attention than usual. Just what was the backstory? Right now, while he had indeed found out that everyone was busy, he didn’t know anything that his nephew would care about. This was really vexing.
Xiang Yong finally turned back to him with a smile that wasn’t quite a smile. “God of War, let’s cut straight to the chase: What is it that you really want to know?”
Qiang Yan’s lips twitched but he was actually a little happy as well that this adviser was so straightforward. “Longjun has been behaving a little strange lately. I was wondering if maybe … there was something up.”
Xiang Yong didn’t know what to make of this but An Bai’s expression changed as soon as he heard what Qiang Yan. This … wouldn’t be because of what he had told his king, right? But the more he thought about it, the more he felt that he had to be right. Their king had indeed taken his comments to heart and started to pull back a little. Now, it seemed that maybe his thought process had been wrong. Maybe giving the Son of Heaven more space hadn’t actually worked out that well. Maybe it would have been better to just continue as he had before. At the very least, they wouldn’t be in this situation.
Qiang Yan also saw An Bai’s expression and raised his brows. “Adviser An Bai knows something”
An Bai gave a wry smile in return and wasn’t quite sure how to phrase this. As his adviser, it was also his task to make sure that his king wouldn’t look bad in front of the gods. Right now, he wasn’t quite sure just what it was that the God of War was after, so he also couldn’t say what the best course of action would be.
Qiang Yan also realized that with the way An Bai was, it was unlikely he would be able to get anything out of him unless he gave him a reason. “Adviser An Bai, I know that this is probably something I shouldn’t inquire about. Also, I don’t want to make it sound as if I don’t trust your king. If he says he’s busy, he most likely is. But Jing He is my only nephew. I can’t help but be a little worried if he is in a low mood because of this. So I’m just trying to find out a bit more.”
Xiang Yong and An Bai exchanged another glance. A low mood? Could it be … had the Son of Heaven actually started to have feelings for their king? In that case, it was the perfect opportunity to work further in that direction.
An Bai cleared his throat and put on an apologetic smile. “To be honest, I’m afraid this whole issue is my fault. His Majesty noticed that the Son of Heaven wasn’t doing too well recently so he came to me and asked for advice. I might have misinterpreted as cause and effect there and given the wrong advice.
“I told His Majesty that maybe he was pressuring His Highness a little too much with constantly going over and professing his feelings so I told him that it might be helpful to back off a little and allow him to just rest up a bit. Now, it seems that this has caused His Highness to worry even more. I am sorry about that. I’m afraid I don’t know His Highness nearly well enough to give any kind of advice. I should have told that to His Majesty instead of going out on a limb and spouting nonsense as a result of that.”
Qiang Yan was dumbfounded. This was actually because the dragon king had been trying to be mindful of his nephew? This really was … well, he didn’t even know how to say it. All the worries that Jing He had suffered … there really hadn’t been a reason for any of them, had there?
He sighed, and give a wry smile. “Well, I’m glad that adviser An Bai is this honest with me. Actually, I was a little worried. Longjun has been quite intent that his feelings for my nephew won’t change. To suddenly see him behave so differently … I couldn’t help but start to doubt his words a little.”
An Bai looked like he had quite a bit of a guilty conscience but he also knew that it couldn’t be changed anymore. “Well, the God of War can definitely rest assured. There is no way that His Majesty’s feelings have changed. He is a very …” He paused as if he had to think about an appropriate word before he continued speaking. “A very decisive person. If he has already decided on His Highness, then he really won’t change his mind anymore.”
Qiang Yan nodded. “Well, I can indeed put my mind at ease then. In any case, I would still like to know about the other things that I asked. Even though it was a bit of an excuse for coming here and inquiring about what I really wanted to know, we really don’t want to make a blunder with this. Since my nephew went to the pains of choosing something himself, I wouldn’t want his effort to be diminished just because I did something wrong in delivering his intentions.”
An Bai smiled, glad that things had been able to be resolved easily. “The God of War doesn’t need to worry. I’m sure we can come up with a good way to deal with this matter. Although I think that it might be best if we spoke with His Majesty about this first. Since this is something that was chosen by His Highness, I’m sure that he might have some preferences of his own.
“So how about this? I will inquire about His Majesty’s thoughts and then get back to the God of War. In any case, there are still a few days. And most likely, there will not be much to be prepared in that regard anyway. His Majesty isn’t very particular about this kind of thing.”
Qiang Yan nodded, not having expected anything else. The dragon king … he was surprisingly down to earth. Maybe a bit too down to earth. He really didn’t care about his status at all. But, well, who was he to judge? “Thank you for your effort, adviser An Bai. Then I will not disturb the two of you any longer. I’m sure there are still many other things to prepare for the two of you.” He got up and then left the two of them, rushing back to the Nine Heavens.
Meanwhile, the two advisers exchanged a glance, a tacit understanding contained in their gazes that they should better solve this issue soon. It was just … in the past weeks, they also hadn’t been able to see much of their king. Maybe they would indeed need to contact him themselves. Whether he would actually react … that was a completely different question altogether.