Qiu Ling rushed back in record time, only to find Jing He lying on his back and staring up at the sky blankly. He hastened his steps further, pulling his beloved up into a sitting position and delivering the water he had gotten straight to his lips. “Here.”
Jing He looked at Qiu Ling’s expression and suddenly felt better. He knew he probably should have taken the cup from his hands but he didn’t. Instead, he leaned against Qiu Ling’s shoulder again, reaching out to hug Qiu Ling’s waist, and then gently took a sip from the cup that Qiu Ling was still holding. So what if he was shameless? He couldn’t have what he wanted. So he should make use of this one opportunity he had gotten. This little bit shouldn’t be too much.
Qiu Ling was startled been Jing He reacted like this and couldn’t help but feel that he seemed to have gotten drunk after all. He helped him continue to drink before he put down the cup. Then, he brushed back his hair again and held him gently. “It’s alright. The effect will disperse after a while. Just … lie down again and it will stop soon.”
Jing He nodded but didn’t actually let go. Instead, he held even more tightly onto Qiu Ling, not wanting to be pushed out of his arms again. No, he barely made it to where he wanted to be. How could he make it so easy for Qiu Ling to shake him off?
He smiled to himself and rubbed his cheek against Qiu Ling’s shoulder, not even realizing it himself. Yes, despite what he had thought, he had definitely lost some of his inhibitions after drinking these two cups. Maybe calling him drunk wouldn’t be so wrong after all.
Qiu Ling felt strangely helpless now that he actually held Jing He in his arms once. Usually, he would’ve been ecstatic about this course of action from his beloved but he also realized that this wasn’t necessarily because Jing He wanted this but mostly because he had somehow gotten drunk enough to behave like this. And while he had thought that it might be nice to get him slightly tipsy so that he would be more open, seeing him like this, he felt that he couldn’t go ahead with this any further. No, Jing He might not even be aware of what he was doing right now. He wouldn’t deserve to be his husband if he took advantage of this.
He sighed to himself and then just continued to hold Jing He, looking up at the sky as well. “Well, don’t you want to lie down again? Did that not help before?”
This time, Jing He didn’t even answer and just continued to stay curled up in his arms.
Qiu Ling gave a hum and then figured that it couldn’t hurt to make him lie down just in case. Anyway, it was said that you could sleep off the effect of alcohol, right? In that case, he should make him sleep for a bit and he would definitely fall asleep the easiest if he was lying down.
Thinking of that, Qiu Ling pulled him to the ground, still holding him in his arms. “Well, go to sleep a little. I’ll stay here and guard you.”
Jing He finally raised his head when he realized that Qiu Ling wasn’t going to make him lie down alone again. Looking at him, he wasn’t sure what to say. He somehow felt that he should do something but he just didn’t know what. Thinking for a bit, he looked away again and then quietly spoke. “I do feel a bit better like this. Would you … would you mind telling me another story?” His voice was barely a whisper, but with his head still lying on Qiu Ling’s shoulder the words were still audible.
Qiu Ling glanced at him and gave a hum. Right now, he would have fulfilled any requirement Jing He had, not to mention something as easy to do as telling him a story. “What kind of story would you like to hear?”
Jing He kept quiet for a while, thinking about what it was that he really wanted to know. It should be something … “Something from your youth? From … when you were younger? It doesn’t matter what kind of time really, just … just something about you.”
Qiu Ling glanced at him sideways, wondering what exactly was up. Was that the wine talking? Or was Jing He really willing to admit that he was interested in his past? Well, no matter what the reason was, he would be happy to oblige.
He rubbed Jing He’s arm, then pulled him a little closer, giving another hum. “I sure don’t mind. Let me think about what I can tell you. Before that though, are you warm enough? I should have a blanket somewhere.”
Jing He pulled back one hand, using it to shield his face. He was afraid of Qiu Ling seeing his expression. Because right now, he couldn’t help but wonder how they had to look from further away. Curled up together like this, if they also added a blanket, people would surely have some odd thoughts about them.
Qiu Ling didn’t get a response but figured that maybe this just wasn’t important to Jing He. He rubbed his arm again, wanting to calm him down so he wouldn’t be too worried about his own state, and tried to think of some kind of story that he could tell him. There really wasn’t a lot that he felt worthy to bring up.
When he was younger, still a child living in the capital city, he had always made trouble. That wasn’t really the kind of person he wanted Jing He to see him as so he didn’t want to bring that up. But while he had lived outside with his parents, nothing much had happened. And then, when he was alone after their death, that had been the case even more so. His life … fr the longest part, had been boring. The most interesting … “Well, did I ever tell you how I became the dragon king?”
At this, Jing He looked up, feeling curious. “Isn’t it said that the war against the demons was won because of your help and that was why it was decided you should be the one leading the dragon race?”
Qiu Ling looked at him and nodded but his expression was subtle. “That is the gist of it, yes. But there was more. Do you want to hear?”
Jing He nodded. To be honest, he didn’t care too much about what Qiu Ling finally told him. He had hoped that it would be a more personal story but he’d take whatever he could get. If Qiu Ling was willing to tell him about this, then he also wanted to hear it.
Qiu Ling nodded when Jing He seemed willing to listen to the story and then thought back. “Well, you should know how usually, the previous king will mention who he wants his successor to be. It does have an influence but the king can’t make a final decision.
“No, usually, everybody has the right to try their hand at showing they are suitable as the next king. There will be a test with several stages, that will require you to prove that you have what it takes: the physical but also the magical abilities, a quick enough mind, as well as the diplomacy to keep the relations with the gods and solve conflicts among the important people in the realm.
“It isn’t easy. Back in the day, my father and the person who later became Longjun Jinde both attempted that trial at the same time. My father didn’t make it but Longjun Jinde did and that was what finally got him the title. He wasn’t the preferred person of the king before him but he was the one who was able to convince in the trial. That should tell you what kind of importance the king’s opinion and the trial hold respectively when it comes to choosing the successor.”
Jing He nodded, feeling that he had heard bits and pieces of that here and there.
“Well, when Longjun Jinde died, he supposedly never named a successor. With him having reigned for such a long time but not having said who he preferred and maybe never even thinking about who his successor should be, there weren’t any people willing to give it a try.
“I guess the grief ran too deep and nobody had the guts to attempt the trial with his passing fresh in their minds. Not to mention, how would you look if you couldn’t do it? It would seem arrogant. And not to mention that, it was also still a time of strife between the dragons and the demons that was fraught with danger. Being seated on that throne at such a time might be an honor but it was also an easy way to get yourself into major trouble or even get yourself killed.
“Anyway, I always believed that this was all there was to it. But one day, when I was out in the wilderness, I was approached by a member of our people. That person is usually referred to as an ancestor of our race. He is a person that was born slightly after the time when the supreme ruler descended to the immortal realms.”
Jing He’s eyes widened slightly, never having imagined that there actually were people like that around. “The dragons actually have people from that time still living among them?”
Qiu Ling sighed at that question. “No, I’m afraid it can’t be said like that. Not if you are imagining there to be several … elders or something. He is the only one who survived which is why he has a very special status.
“From what I know, he was quite close to Jinde. In fact, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that he was one of his staunchest supporters.” His expression turned a little strange when he thought back to that time. He definitely didn’t have good feelings for that man but he had to give him that he was indeed strong and was indeed able to make a difference when supporting a king.
Qiu Ling raised his brows and then shook his head, pulling himself out of his thoughts. “Either way, imagine my surprised when this person walked up to me and suddenly told me that — contrary to what I had believed — Longjun Jinde had actually named a successor and that the one he wanted to take the place was, in fact, me.”