Qiu Ling’s lips twitched when he saw his expression but there was nothing he could do. Since they were already here, they couldn’t just leave. Not to mention that Jing Yi had looked as if he wanted to have this kind of slow afternoon where they simply listened to stories.
He glanced at his fiance and Jing Yi indeed seemed especially interested. In fact, it wasn’t a wonder. Back then, he had heard a rough account of this story from his parents but they had been simple villagers and he had only been a child, one that was sheltered to boot. Now, he finally had the chance to hear the full story. Naturally, he was happy about that.
Qiu Ling might not understand but to Jing Yi, this was something that bridged the distance to his past, to the roots that he came from. Not as the reincarnation of Jing He but as the mortal Zhong Jing Yi. Simply put, it reminded him of a time when things had been easier and he cherished those times.
Seeing his expression, Qiu Ling’s own gaze softened and he turned back to the storyteller. “Well, you look like there is more to it. Tell us then if everyone else doesn’t mind.”
The rest of the audience was quick to assure both Qiu Ling and the storyteller that they didn’t mind. For one, who would dare to offend an extravagantly dressed person in the capital city? And second, this story was a well-known classic that you couldn’t hear often enough.
The storyteller picked up his teacup with a satisfied expression, feeling like he had made the right call. Then, as soon as he put the cup down with an audible click, he launched into the tale.
“It was a time of great peril when a man by the name of Shui Jin Ning rose up above the masses. He defeated the bandits that were wreaking havoc in the countryside and he marched against the foreign enemies with his loyal brothers. Finally, he established what has today become the capital city of the Long kingdom and from there, he ruled the people in peace and prosperity.
“When talking of the first emperor, what people can not fail to mention is the person at his side: Lang Ling who hailed from the dragon race and was sent down to this mortal world of ours to restore the peace. Lang Ling was powerful and wise but he was not familiar with the customs of the mortals when he first arrived. Thus, he decided to observe first before he decided on his plans.
“What he saw was that the mortals were already moving themselves to restore the peace and for a while, Lang Ling thought to himself that he should leave and return to the immortal realm as the human race clearly did not need his help. But then, while he was still lingering to observe the changes happening around him, it came to a fateful encounter.”
The storyteller paused for impact and looked at Qiu Ling with expectation. To his surprise, this guest wasn’t paying much attention to him and was instead looking at the youth next to him. The storyteller blinked his eyes and then also looked at him. Well, at least one person was listening with rapt attention, it seemed, so he picked up where he had left off, this time paying more attention to Jing Yi. Having a willing audience was always a joy.
“At the place where we can find the Long mountain range today, there was once a beautiful valley with lush meadows bordered by verdant forests. In some hidden places, you could find hot springs between the rocks. It was a sight to behold and also a place that many wary travelers would come to.
“Lang Ling had made the side of one of those springs his home for the time being as dragons love the water. At that time, he was resting in the water, his emerald hair shimmering in the sun. At one glimpse, he seemed like a vision that came straight out of a dream, not like a person of flesh and blood.
“As Heaven had willed it, Shui Jin Ning and his men were riding by not far away. They had been on the road for a long time and longed to take a break. Seeing the beautiful valleys not far, Shui Jin Ning motioned at them and had his men venture there. With a few, loyal followers, he himself also walked through the meadows, finally arriving precisely at the spring where Lang Ling was resting.
“It was love at first sight when the dragon opened his eyes and the two gazed at each other. Lang Ling had long heard of Shui Jin Ning’s exploits and he was impressed by the service he had done for the human race. On the other hand, the man who was about to become emperor was smitten by the beautiful appearance of the man in front of him.
“It did not take long for the two of them to be deeply involved and all thoughts of leaving the mortal world behind were lost to Lang Ling now. Instead, he stayed, and he helped the human race not because he had been told to do so but because of his feelings for Shui Jin Ning, vowing to accompany him until the day he died.
“With Lang Ling’s help, Shui Jin Ning’s success was even greater and soon, the foreign enemies invading the land he had pacified were struck down and the capital erected. When it came time to name the dynasty, Shui Jin Ning did not think of himself. Thinking of the origin of his lover, he named the dynasty the Long dynasty and his kingdom the Long kingdom, and the people of the dragon race were said to be the benefactors of the people of the Long kingdom forever.”