Things weren’t going well in the dragon realm. Meanwhile, everything seemed peaceful in the Nine Heavens. The Heavenly Emperor still had to stay at his palace to wait for Qiang Yan to return and report much to his dismay. But at least they weren’t under attack and it didn’t seem like anything would change about that.
Jing He didn’t mind that his father hadn’t come by yet. Anyway, he could imagine how that would go when it happened and with how his mind was currently elsewhere, it was better if he had more time to prepare.
Right now, he was taking the bath he had been thinking about while continuing to observe the little beast he had woken up to. At this moment, it was lying at the side of the tub, apparently not too fond of water even if it was hot.
Jing He leaned against the rim of the tub, cupping one cheek while he smiled at it. “You don’t like water? Do you not even want to give it a try?” He didn’t know how old the beast was. Judging from the size and the features, it seemed quite young but that appearance might be deceiving. Maybe its kind simply looked like this, no matter the age.
Either way, since he wasn’t sure about its past, it was hard to say what kind of experiences it had made before. Had it ever gotten in contact with water? Had the temperature played a role in why it didn’t like the experience? He could only guess randomly.
The little beast made a small sound that could have meant anything.
To Jing He’s ears, it sounded a little wronged. He shook his head, feeling that it was alright no matter what it was. “Well, you don’t have to. Just wait until I’m done. After that …” He pondered for a moment, his thoughts inevitably returning to Qiu Ling.
Surely, Qiu Ling wouldn’t return any time soon. Yi Zan and Qiang Wei might not have said it outright but it was clear that Qiu Ling would be very busy for quite a while even after the battle was over. It should be a few days at the very least. If he was lucky, Qiu Ling would be able to take a moment in-between to come here and see him before he had to rush back. If that was possible …
Jing He gave a hum and stretched out a hand to the little beast, grabbing the soft paw. “I don’t know when Qiu Ling will come back so we have to stay here as much as possible. It’s important to know what you are though so after I finish my bath, we can go over to the Tower of Wisdom if Qiu Ling’s advisers don’t think it’s too dangerous.”
The little beast swished its tail and stretched out its other paw to hold onto Jing He’s hand. Just as he had said, the water was hot so his fingers were as well. It really was comfortable to hold.
Jing He smiled more brightly. “Alright, let me hurry up. If there isn’t much time, we have to use it well.” He indeed hurried up but it still took him quite some time to finish. After all, he hated feeling dirty and he also wanted to look his best for Qiu Ling whenever he came by. How could he do a halfhearted job when cleaning up?
Finally, he was satisfied with the result. He dried his body off using his magic and put on the inner robe. Considering that times seemed troubling, he went for more muted colors with this set of robes. It might not be the most eye-catching but it seemed like the right thing to do. Anyway, Qiu Ling had known him for ten years, one outfit should not make such a huge difference, right?
He put on an overcoat after tying his belt and then looked at the little beast. “Now, I’m done. How do your paws look?”
The little beast made another sound and then stretched out its paws. Needless to say, they were still dirty.
Jing He smiled, picked up a piece of cloth, and carefully moistened it. “Don’t worry, it’s not wet. There is only enough water on this to tidy you up a bit. I can’t have you leaving paw prints all over my robe again.” He carefully grabbed the little beast’s paw and cleaned it up as gently as he could.
The little beast wasn’t happy at first but still let Jing He do as he pleased because of how careful he was. After a moment, it realized that the feeling wasn’t too bad. It hardly felt the water and only the warm temperature. Actually, it was quite comfortable.
It made a sound of agreement and turned onto its back, stretching out all four paws so Jing He could continue. Anyway, if they were already at it, it might as well take full advantage.
Jing He smiled, quite happy that the little beast was so docile. He had actually worried that it might not like the idea and would make trouble so he’d finally have to carry it around with all the soot still clinging to its body. If Qiu Ling found him wearing a robe covered in ash … he would be mortified. Of course, he couldn’t let that happen!
Having made sure that the little beast was clean, Jing He finally picked it up. He didn’t leave his palace immediately and instead just stood on the spot for a moment, holding it and brushing through the soft fur.
He didn’t know anything about caring for beasts but surely, when they did something they might not like too much without complaining, you should do something they did like in return. Since he didn’t know too much about this little beast yet, petting it was the only thing he could think of for the time being. Thus, he took a moment to do so before he finally went back to the door to the garden to see which of Qiu Ling’s advisers was still there.