The two of them went to the door of the palace together and knocked.
Inside, Jing He had just been picking out a new outer robe. He hastily grabbed one of those he had been torn between and put it on as fast as he could, not caring any longer whether it was the perfect choice for his reunion with Qiu Ling. Naturally, he couldn’t let the ones outside wait without giving a response so he called out in a rush. “One moment, please!”
Yi Zan and Qiang Wei exchanged a glance.
“Did we disturb him?”
Yi Zan shook his head. “It shouldn’t be a problem.” He didn’t know what the Son of Heaven might be doing though.
Inside, Jing He hurriedly finished dressing and closed the door to his wardrobe before turning around. “Please, come in!”
Qiang Wei didn’t want to waste any time so he immediately opened the door. Seeing where Jing He stood, he suddenly felt like he had a rough understanding of why they had been told to wait outside. He almost heaved a sigh of relief when he realized. Thankfully, they didn’t have the habit to barge into rooms like their king sometimes did. Otherwise, he might need to blind himself now in apology for the disrespect he had committed.
He inclined his head and then even kept his gaze on the ground when he thought of that. “Your Highness, we just received news from the battlefield.”
“Did the battle end?” Jing He hurriedly walked through the room, only stopping when he reached the table. He motioned inside, his expression worried. “Why don’t you come in?”
Qiang Wei gave a hum and stepped over the threshold. He wasn’t sure what else to say. Anyway, there wasn’t much news. “It has indeed. We weren’t given my details but it seems the demons were rather dissatisfied with their new king and ended the battle mostly on their own. Casualties were kept low thanks to that.”
“Then Longjun …”
Qiang Wei drew a blank. Well, their king … that was the problem, wasn’t it? What was he supposed to say now?
Yi Zan gave him an angry look. If he waited forever to answer, it would seem suspicious to the Son of Heaven no matter what he said afterward. If their king didn’t appear for a while after that, he’d surely think he was grievously injured and worry himself sick. Then when their king actually did return, who’d be at fault?
He shook his head at Qiang Wei and then looked at Jing He. “Don’t worry, Your Highness. From what we know, he wasn’t wounded. It is just that …” He put on a troubled expression that was only partly an act. “The battle might have been on the shorter side but there will still be many things to take care of. I’m afraid His Majesty won’t be able to return all that soon.”
He felt embarrassed lying to him like this and it showed on his face. Thankfully, to Jing He, it simply seemed like they felt that he wanted to see Qiu Ling soon and felt awkward having to tell him that it wouldn’t be possible. Without the knowledge of all that had happened throughout his trial, he didn’t suspect a thing.
He smiled faintly, some of his relief actually showing in his expression. “Please don’t apologize to me, adviser Yi Zan. I am just glad that he is alright and that your people didn’t suffer too many losses. Speaking of which, since the danger is over, the two of you don’t have to stay here. The heavenly guards will be more than enough to ensure my safety. You should return home to your own families and see how everyone is doing.”
The two of them looked at him in a daze and then exchanged a glance.
Qiang Wei couldn’t help but think that he understood all too well why their king had fallen in love with the Son of Heaven. He really was perfect, wasn’t he? But then … “You’re likely right but we are here on His Majesty’s orders. Before he retracts them, I don’t think we should leave.”
Yi Zan nodded. “If anything happened to you, His Majesty would never forgive himself. And neither would be if our presence here could have prevented it but we had shirked our duties.”
Jing He held back the smile that wanted to appear when he heard those words. “Well, I can’t force you. If you feel that it would be a good compromise, I do think that I would feel sufficiently protected with just one of you here though.”
Yi Zan and Qiang Wei once again looked at each other. Actually, this might not be too bad of an idea. If one of them left but the other stayed, they could indeed have both and then later switch. Also, the crown prince would likely want more news about their king. So if they went back and inquired more closely, they might be able to bring back something he wanted to know. The two of them finally nodded at each other before turning back to Jing He.
“Thank you very much, Your Highness.”
Jing He faintly shook his head. “It is nothing. You are Qiu Ling’s people and should have been able to be there in the first place. This must be a small consolation.”
“Oh, no, not at all.” Qiang Wei hurriedly cleared his throat before Yi Zan and the crown prince could exchange more polite remarks. “Either way, in that case, we should leave you alone.”
Jing He gave a hum and waited for them to leave and close the door behind them before he heaved a sigh of relief. He turned back to the bed where the small beast was still lying in the box, went to pick it up gave a bright smile. “Did you hear that? The battle is over and he isn’t injured. He merely has to take care of some matters before he can return to me.
“In that case, the two of us should go and take that bath after all. It wouldn’t do not to put my best foot forward when Qiu Ling arrives.” He smiled and then went to carry the small beast around the folding screen that had been put up instead of closing the doors to the side room, starting to prepare the bath.