Zhu Hong’s lips twitched when this happened. This time, they weren’t behind the person in question so he couldn’t just reach up and cover his eyes. It also didn’t feel right to remind him again. After all, he had just done that a few minutes ago. It was just that despite Zhen Zhu knowing, he was probably so surprised at everything new he saw that he was unable not to stare.
In the end, Zhu Hong could only rub his back again and then give the two guards an apologetic smile. He would’ve said something but he also didn’t want to embarrass Zhen Zhu.
The two men took a look at Zhen Zhu and then at his husband’s expression and felt that they somewhat understood what was going on. They didn’t say anything and just motioned for Zhu Hong to raise his arms, giving him a short pat to make sure that he wasn’t carrying any weapons that shouldn’t be taken inside.
Actually, it didn’t play much of a role in his case. A dragon was lethal not because of some kind of weapon that they carried but just because of the type of being they were. But it wasn’t the same for quite a few of the people that came to the city so these guards still had to check.
They also had Zhu Hong open his spatial realm to take a quick look and when they didn’t find anything suspicious, they nodded. Turning to Zhen Zhu, the guard felt uncomfortable but finally also motioned at him to do the same as his husband. When he patted him down, he couldn’t help but glance at his husband at the same time.
Even though this was his job and everybody knew that they had to do this, there were quite a few people who had a problem with it if their partner was touched like this. Having to fight off an enraged spouse who felt their partner was being disrespected wasn’t anything fun. So in case it would happen, they’d rather have a moment more of warning.
When the guard finished, he realized that Zhu Hong hadn’t done anything though, and instead seemed calm. Well, this was a nice surprise. Realizing this, he also wasn’t worried any longer. Instead, he turned back to Zhen Zhu. Seeing how young he looked, he couldn’t help himself and gave a faint smile, even going so far as to lower his voice. “I need to take a look at your spatial realm as well.”
Zhen Zhu nodded. He had seen his husband do it, so he hurriedly followed suit, just waiting for the guard to finish before he closed it up again.
The two men nodded and then waved for them to go inside before they turned to the person next in line.
Zhen Zhu couldn’t help but cling to his husband’s arm and look over his shoulder. “Did you see the two of them?”
Zhu Hong’s lips twitched once again. They definitely weren’t out of earshot yet. “I did. They were directly in front of us.”
Zhen Zhu was still looking over his shoulder. “In the line before us, there was also somebody with horns. Is that something that a lot of people have outside of the dragons and phoenixes?”
Whether it was in the valley or the forest, he had never seen somebody like this. But now, there had already been two people and their horns were quite different. Instead of short ones like on the head of the guy in line in front of them, the guard just now had had a pair of curved ones that were probably about as thick as the wrist of a man at the base of his head.
Zhu Hong figured that they probably wouldn’t get around a couple more of these situations if he let things go on like this. No, it was time for an explanation. “Well, in this world, there aren’t just dragons and phoenixes, even though those others probably wouldn’t be contained much in the memories of your clan. If you think deeply, maybe you can remember that there are some other tribes out there.
“Some of those are born with horns or tails, some others have a different head shape or hands and feet that differ from ours. Other tribes might just diverge from how we look in details like how the iris of their eyes is shaped.
“Because of this, when you leave places like the valley or the forest that are the home of just one or two tribes and instead come to a city such as this where many people from different tribes come together, you’ll be able to see all of those different appearances.”
Zhen Zhu nodded, feeling that this made sense. To be honest, even though he was thinking deeply just as Zhu Hong had told him to, he couldn’t remember any other tribes. He didn’t know if that was because he had only absorbed the memories from the mother tree for a week before hatching or because he hadn’t gone back to get more afterward but he just drew a blank when it came to this.
He only remembered the dragons and the phoenixes. Well, that probably wasn’t strange considering that it was what he would first need to know to get along with his spouse. He also didn’t mind. In any case, he had Zhu Hong to explain these things to him. He didn’t need to know them before.
Thinking of that, he clung more tightly to his husband and gave him a brilliant smile. “When we encounter anything new, you have to tell me all about it!”
Zhu Hong smiled faintly and leaned down to give him a kiss on the lips this time. “I’ll do that. Just tell me if there’s something that you don’t understand.”
Zhen Zhu nodded and then didn’t think about it any longer. “Well, let’s go then! I want to see everything in the city!” His eyes were glittering. He was clearly looking forward to this. In fact, before Zhu Hong could say anything else, Zhen Zhu had already rushed ahead and he had to run to keep up with him.
Even though he had just said that he wasn’t hungry and didn’t need to eat, Zhen Zhu first rushed over to the door of a restaurant. He couldn’t help himself. It just smelled so nice!
He stuck his head in, looking around curiously. The dragons’ valley wasn’t actually that small but there wasn’t much in terms of places to eat. Since they didn’t normally have guests and the only guests that were coming over were the phoenixes that were related to them anyway, people would just host them privately. Thus, Zhen Zhu had never seen a restaurant from inside.
Now, seeing all those tables and chairs and all the different people that were sitting there, eating together and talking or laughing, his eyes went wide. The many different smells that were wafting toward him also did their part in making him feel almost overwhelmed.
Zhu Hong followed him and couldn’t help but lean in. “Do you want to eat something after all?”
Zhen Zhu continued to look around for a bit but then shook his head. “No need! Let’s go look at something else!” With that, he turned around and rushed off, running over the street and stopping in front of a store.
Zhu Hong’s eyes followed him and then returned to the restaurant in front of him, not quite sure what to make of this. Had he just wanted to take a look? He wouldn’t have thought that a restaurant could be counted as something worth looking at but maybe his ideas of that were too narrow. In any case, he couldn’t forget that Zhen Zhu had never gotten the chance to take a look at anything that didn’t exist in the valley or the forest. To him, everything was new. No wonder that he felt that even a restaurant would make something worth looking at.
He followed him over to the store and tried to look at it like a person might that had never seen something like this.
Just like the gate to the city, the door of the store had been painted brightly as had the windows. All of them were open, inviting people to take a closer look at the things inside. There was the faint, shimmering layer of a barrier making sure that nobody could just reach in and steal the wares that were presented right behind it. From the looks of it, this place was selling jewelry: One of the windows held a wide assortment of bracelets, the next one rings, and then there was one for hairpins.
Looking at all of this, Zhu Hong’s lips curved up a little. He had had some robes and the accompanying jewelry made for Zhen Zhu but those were just the basics that he definitely needed. He had never gotten the chance to take him out, let him have a look, and tell him what he wanted. That feeling of really pampering his spouse … he would really like to have that once.
Thinking of that, he wrapped an arm around Zhen Zhu’s waist and then leaned down, his chin almost landing on his shoulder. “If you see something that you like and want to have, just tell me. Your husband will get it for you.”
Zhen Zhu laughed at that and rubbed his head against Zhu Hong’s, feeling that his husband was really too nice. There currently wasn’t anything that he really wanted though. No, right now, he just wanted to look around. If he found something while he did so, then he wouldn’t mind telling Zhu Hong, but right now, there was nothing yet.
“Let’s go to look over there!” He wriggled out of Zhu Hong’s arms, rushing over to the store next door.
Zhu Hong sighed when he realized that he wouldn’t get to realize his dream of pampering his lover that soon. He silently followed him, taking a look at the store as well: This one was selling fabrics, as well as some small accessories made of fabric like bags or pendants for the belt. There were even some ribbons that could be tied into one’s hair as well.
Zhen Zhu stopped for a moment, looking around curiously but then already rushed off before Zhu Hong was able to say anything. He just wanted to take a look at the store next door when he saw something on the other side of the street that made his eyes glitter.
“Zhu Hong, look at this! Is that for doing your hair?” Without waiting for his husband to respond, he rushed over, wanting to go in and ask if they could do his hair.
Zhu Hong looked over and then rushed after him, wrapping an arm around his waist and pulling him back. “It’s for doing somebody’s hair but it’s only for you if you have a pair of antlers hidden on that head of yours.” He motioned to one of the windows that showed a model of a head with a pair of white antlers sticking out, that had some jewelry draped over them while the hair was artistically done around them.
Zhen Zhu stopped in his tracks and stared at the model, not sure what to make of that. Those antlers were probably like the horns he had seen on the men before but it still seemed strange to him. Still, it was really beautiful. And he had to say that he kind of regretted that he didn’t have antlers like this because it seemed like you could do a lot with them.
Zhu Hong saw his husband’s expression and felt a hint of a headache coming in. “You’re born with them or not. There is no way for you to get any.”
Zhen Zhu looked up and blinked his eyes in surprise. “I think they’re really beautiful but I wouldn’t necessarily want them.” Looking back, he tilted his head and then shook it. “It’s probably really impractical having something like that on your head. How do they even go through doors?”
Zhu Hong looked at him, not sure how to answer that question. How would they go through doors? Well, at their own place, the doors would certainly accommodate their taller height. As for a city like this, the stores that were especially for them would do the same while anywhere else, they would just need to lower their heads a little. It wasn’t that difficult, was it?
Zhen Zhu continued to stand on the street, looking at the door with fervent eyes as if he really couldn’t wait to see just how a person could go through there.
Zhu Hong wasn’t sure what to do about it either so he could only wait until Zhen Zhu would get tired of this. To his surprise, his little husband actually had quite a lot of patience when it came to finding out something like this. They probably stood there for several minutes, just staring at the entrance of the store while the people around them passed by, some of them giving them strange looks.
Zhu Hong put on a wry smile but didn’t say anything. If Zhen Zhu wanted, then they could wait and see what happened. In any case, they were here so he could make new experiences. And while he could tell him these things, finding out for himself was probably also good for Zhen Zhu.
Yes, as tempting as it was, he shouldn’t always get involved. In fact, he should learn to take a step back and just trust in Zhen Zhu. His little husband would be able to do all of these things himself. He didn’t always need his help. He’d do better to finally keep that in mind no matter how difficult that was for him.
After Zhu Hong had reminded himself not to hover too much, things got a lot more laid-back. If Zhen Zhu rushed over to a place that was offering services for a specific tribe that had nothing to do with them like doing somebody’s hoofs, he’d just let him go in to find out for himself.
Usually, the owners were a little confused at first but seeing that this was just an overly curious young phoenix, they didn’t mind explaining everything to him and then saw him off with a smile.
Zhu Hong just kept in the back, smiling to himself while he did, and then followed Zhen Zhu again when they left the store. He would only get involved in things if he felt like Zhen Zhu might get into trouble because he had happened upon some rather grumpy person.
As it turned out, he didn’t need to worry too much though. Even if the store owner wasn’t happy with his appearance, the customers usually were and even happily showed off whatever it was that they were having done. Most likely, it was quite endearing to them to see a young phoenix so excited about something that was completely normal to them.
After three hours had gone by, the two of them had only managed to make it through two streets. By now, Zhen Zhu was really tired and felt like he would like to sit down somewhere, just taking a break for a bit.
Zhu Hong smiled and reached out, rubbing his neck. “Do you want to go and eat something now?”
Zhen Zhu looked up and then his expression lit up. “Can we? And can we go to a restaurant like the one we saw when we first came here?” He still remembered how exciting it had looked from inside. Even though he hadn’t been hungry so he hadn’t wanted to go inside, he was still curious about it. If he had the chance to stay for a while in one of them, he would definitely love that.
Zhu Hong nodded and then motioned down the street. “Sure we can. Let’s just go to the next one we pass. How about that?”
Zhen Zhu nodded wildly, once again rushing ahead to see just what they would find. The building they finally stopped in front of was three stories high and quite noisy. He wasn’t quite sure what to make of that so he stopped in his tracks for probably the first time ever and looked back to his husband, clearly waiting for backup.
Zhu Hong laughed and went over, wrapping an arm around his waist again. “You don’t like it?”
Zhen Zhu looked back up at the building and shook his head. “It’s not that I don’t like it. I just … Well, it seems a bit loud. Is that normal?”
Zhu Hong looked up at the building and finally nodded. “From the looks of it, there should be quite a few people inside since there are three whole stories. If you want to go somewhere a little quieter, that’s okay. We can look around for a bit longer.”
Zhen Zhu shook his head though. “No, it’s not a problem. As long as it’s not dangerous, we can just go in. In any case, I’m also curious to see a bit more.” In fact, more people sounded great. He wanted to see as many people as he could. On the way here, he had already seen quite a few from very different tribes. He was curious to see just how many more there might be.
Zhu Hong nodded. “In that case, let’s go in.” He didn’t mind either way. As long as Zhen Zhu was happy, he would also be happy. Thus, the two of them walked into the restaurant and were immediately engulfed by a wave of noisiness.