Qiu Ling rounded the corner only to be hit by clamor and the smell of blood. His eyes widened and he accelerated his steps, rushing into the palace. His gaze zeroed in on the cut on that white robe and he rushed over, falling down next to the bed and grabbing Jing He’s shoulder to make sure that he was alright.
When he touched him, the body on the bed moved and a faint trace of blood became visible across his neck. Qiu Ling stared at it with widened eyes, shaking gently to wake him up, to get any sign of life out of him.
There was none.
It was already too late. No matter what he did, no matter how much he shook him, no matter how much he yelled, Jing He just wouldn’t open his eyes.
Qiu Ling gathered his body into his arms, tears streaking down his face while he sobbed. Jing He, his beloved, had he really left him behind? How could this be? How could this be?! He did not want to believe it, he did not dare to believe it. If this was true … then what was he supposed to do? How should he go on living?
He could not see anything in his future. Not with Jing He gone. No, without him, his whole life seemed … empty. What use was there in that? Why should he? Why should he go on? Did he really have any reason left? He had never had a family. And anyway, it wasn’t like Jinde and his father’s reincarnation wouldn’t soon move on. Jing He was everything he had. Now, he was gone.
Not thinking much, Qiu Ling extended his claws and reached for his own throat. Since things were like this, he might as well end it.
The sharp pain made Qiu Ling wake up with a start and sit up in bed. He stared ahead into the darkness, not knowing what was going on for a moment. Jing He … It had happened but not like this. His beloved, while having come close to actually losing his life, was unharmed.
And he … he took back his hand, forcing his claws back, and then rubbed his throat, his fingers coming back slick with blood.
He stared at his hand, not actually seeing much in the darkness but still realizing what was going on. In his dreams, he had really believed that he had lost Jing He, and in his desperation, he had tried to end it for real. Just like any bonded dragon would that had lost their partner.
He continued to sit there, his whole body shaking. This … could have ended badly.
He had no idea what to do. He didn’t dare to go back to sleep. Anyway, after seeing that in his dreams, he wouldn’t dare to try and fall asleep either. Never mind that he might unconsciously try something stupid again, he didn’t have the strength to see his beloved die in front of his eyes again.
He swung his legs over the edge of the bed and got up, walking over to the door to the courtyard. He hesitated for a moment but then stepped outside, hoping that the cold air would be able to clear his head.
Closing the door behind him, he paced around for a moment, holding his head while he waited for some kind of effect to set in. Unfortunately, nothing happened. His mind was still filled with scenes from what had happened earlier in the day and also from what had happened in his dreams. Together, they made him feel like he was going crazy.
He closed his eyes and cursed under his breath. Maybe he was already. Now, what to do? He knew that he probably shouldn’t be alone right now. He should probably go and get help from somebody. Maybe Jinde, considering that he had also experienced something similar even though he had found out that Chun Yin had died only long after the fact. Maybe he could even ask Leng Jin Yu, considering that he had his father’s memories.
But somehow, he couldn’t bring himself to go there. No, not to mention that he wasn’t sure which room they were in, there was only one thing that he really wanted to do right now. He hesitated, arguing with himself whether this was a good idea or not but, in the end, he couldn’t help himself.
He pushed off the ground, flew over the palace, and then rushed through the dark of the night, toward the border between the dragon realm and the Nine Heavens.
His traveling speed seemed too slow. He had to see him. He had to make sure that he really was safe, that there was not a hint of blood on his throat, that nothing had happened to his Jing He.
Even though he usually never would, Qiu Ling stopped and closed his eyes, focusing for a moment before he changed his form. As much as he hated it, he was faster this way, and getting there fast was the only thing he currently wanted.
Having changed, he looked around, and then rushed ahead. In any case, it was the middle of the night and thankfully, the moon wasn’t out tonight. There was hardly enough light to see his figure, especially with his mostly black scales. Nobody would be able to notice how exactly he looked. Anyway, nobody would know that it was him so as long as he changed back shortly before he reached the capital city of the Nine Heavens, it should be alright.
Telling himself this, he rushed ahead, indeed changing back just before he reached the capital. Nobody seemed to have seen him or if they had, then he hadn’t noticed. Anyway, all of his thoughts were on the person he wanted to see.
He rushed to the palace, dropping down right in front of the door to the gardens, only to find a pair of unfamiliar guards there. He stopped in his tracks, staring at the two of them.
This … it probably shouldn’t surprise him. After what had happened, of course, the safety measures around Jing He’s palace would be heightened. After all, nobody wanted a repeat of what had happened earlier this day.
The guards also looked at him, their hands immediately raised to attack.
Qiu Ling awkwardly cleared his throat. “I’m here to see the Son of Heaven.” He really wasn’t used to announcing himself like this but currently, that was clearly the right thing to do. He wouldn’t even expect to be left alone with Jing He at the moment.
The two guards furrowed their brows. “Longjun, it’s the middle of the night. I do not think it is appropriate for you to pay courtesy visits right now.”
For all anyone else but Jing He and Qiu Ling knew, there wasn’t an official relationship between them yet, just Qiu Ling trying to woo Jing He. Could an unrelated man just come by in the middle of the night to see their Son of Heaven? They didn’t think so!
Qiu Ling didn’t want to argue but right now, it wasn’t a good idea to force his way in either. Just when he wondered what he should do, the Heavenly Empress appeared in the doorway.
Stopping there, she looked at him and finally motioned inside. “You’re back. Come on in then. I won’t let you stay long though.”