Meanwhile, back on the first floor, the other dragons were also a little confused as to what was going on. In the beginning, the dragon king had mentioned two parts and they had done the first in full and the second at least for some people. But now, he had asked some people for something else. It made them wonder just what was going on. But in any case, they wouldn’t dare to ask.
Qiu Ling gave a hum and then turned to Fu Min who was still sitting to the side, watching him intently. He raised his brows at him, feeling that this guy was just here for the gossip. “Adviser Fu Min, why don’t you go and take a look at how things are going over at the palace? I’m not quite sure how long adviser An Bai will still take.”
Fu Min pursed his lips but still got up and bowed, rushing outside.
Seeing as he had left, Qiu Ling turned back to the musicians, giving another hum. “Well, since he isn’t here yet, I would feel awkward letting you just stand around. Who else wants to play something?”
The dragons exchanged glances, feeling that their king seemed really amenable today.
A young man hurriedly stepped out, inclining his head. “I would like to, if Your Majesty wouldn’t mind.”
Qiu Ling nodded even though this was one of those flute players. In any case, he didn’t mind either way. Every tune he got to know was a nice addition. Although, come to think of it …
He tilted his head, his eyes narrowing a little. “Is there somebody among the other musicians that you know a little closer?”
The young man froze, unsure how to answer that question. Since most of them were from the capital city and all shared the same interest in music, he naturally knew most of them well. But it somehow seemed like the king wanted to hear a specific name? Then who should he name? Why was the king even asking in the first place?
One of the others hurriedly stepped forward as well when the young man didn’t answer, nodding toward the king. “There would be me, Your Majesty.”
Qiu Ling nodded. “And have the two of you ever played together?”
The other musicians couldn’t help but exchange glances while the two of them felt put on the spot. Well, they certainly had, but it wasn’t like they had practiced anything for the occasion.
Qiu Ling wasn’t quite sure why they were making such a big deal out of it. The people that were gathered here were some of the best musicians the capital city had to offer, as well as some people from outside who were sure enough of their skills to come here to impress. So even if they hadn’t prepared directly, he was pretty sure that they would still be able to do something. “Well, you don’t have to but I would really like to hear something you could play together.”
His grand goal might be to woo Jing He with his playing one day when he was actually able to play well, but at that time, maybe it would also be nice to be able to do something together. He was pretty sure that Jing He would appreciate something like that. It was the kind of quiet pastime that he enjoyed.
The two musicians might not feel that their skills were up to par but since it was the king who asked them, they still inclined their heads. “If that is what Your Majesty wants, then we will give it a try.”
“Yes, just please keep in mind that we have not prepared for this kind of performance so it might not be up to par.”
Qiu Ling waved. “I’ve heard all of you play today so I have a rough grasp of how good you are and am not worried at all. Your worst will still be good enough. That is something I can say about all of you.”
While the two sitting in the front were still feeling awkward and like they definitely couldn’t do bad, the other musicians couldn’t help but swell with pride at the king’s praise. He had just complimented them, hadn’t he? And he had even done so like it was just an offhand comment as if he felt that this was just to be expected of them. Why hadn’t they known that they were held this high in his regard?
While everyone was still slightly distracted, the two dragons in the middle finally started to play.
Qiu Ling silently listened but he had to admit that this was far out of the realm of his skill. He had already realized that this was the case with some more complicated tunes before but now, he was unable to follow. He could say that it was a nice melody but it made no sense to him in the way of playing.
Each of the two had his own part, forming a melody of its own. But then there was also the overall one, parts intersecting, overlaying, sometimes giving way to each other. Even if he had wanted to, he wouldn’t have been able to remember even one part because it seemed to rely on the other as well. This was an entirely new realm of music to him.
By the time the two of them were halfway through, An Bai quietly stepped into the pavilion, standing to the side so as to not disturb them.
Qiu Ling glanced up at him, he couldn’t help but figure that he might need to ask him for help pretty soon. While he had originally wanted to ask the musicians up on the second floor for help, thinking that they should be able to help him with making progress without him needing to expose more in front of An Bai, he was slowly realizing that this might not be enough.
There was much to learn and he was only at the beginning of his journey when it came to playing an instrument. While the musicians could advise him a little, it would not be enough and he couldn’t follow up with them either without making himself vulnerable.
In that case, he’d rather ask An Bai after he had learned from this experience as much as he could. He really didn’t think that he would be able to get to a level that would be acceptable for playing for Jing He just based on this one day. So using other opportunities in the future would be vital.
Well, he’d think about that after today was over and he had had time to practice more. After all, the more he knew, the better everything new he learned could be used. He’d just have to hope that he could learn more from today than he had hoped.
Finally, the two dragons finished. They actually weren’t all that happy but seeing the king nod at their performance, they finally heaved a sigh of relief. It might not have been perfect, but apparently, it had really been good enough for the king.
“Thank you very much. I know I’ve asked a lot of you but I really enjoyed hearing that.” To be honest, he hadn’t known how big of an ask this was but when he saw their expressions and how everyone else had reacted, he had gotten a general idea of it so he felt that this was an appropriate thing to say. “Well, it seems that adviser An Bai has also arrived.”
An Bai stepped forward, inclining his head. “Your Majesty. I’m sorry it took me so long. There were still a lot of matters to take care of over at the palace.”
Qiu Ling just smiled. “Oh, it’s not a problem. I’m sure we all had fun. Now though, this has been going on for quite some time and there are still some other things I’ll have to attend to. If I could ask you to take over here? There are still quite a few people that haven’t been able to present the song they chose.”
An Bai nodded again and then stepped to the side, completely expecting the king to just leave. Instead, he saw him go over to the staircase and walk up. For a moment, An Bai looked startled, but then he inwardly chalked his king’s behavior off to the usual insanity, feeling that he was probably going to leave from up there so that nobody would bother him. That would be like him.
Meanwhile, he went to sit down and inquired about who hadn’t been able to play yet. Then, things reverted to the way they usually were, with one person playing after the other, all of them just presenting the songs that they had specifically chosen.
It was much simpler than what their king had sprung on them before but at the same time, there was also some of the excitement missing. The dragons really weren’t sure how to think about that.