Jing He lowered his gaze and stepped over the threshold of the tower. He might not know what the future held for Qiu Ling and him but pondering it wouldn’t change that either. For now, he should use the time until Qiu Ling’s return to find out more about this little beast. Then, after Qiu Ling was back, they could talk about their engagement.
Originally, Qiu Ling had wanted to bring it up to his father again but he had asked him not to do so and to let him broach the topic instead. He knew that Qiu Ling might not have liked this suggestion. To him, it might have been a matter of pride to talk to his father about their marriage. But he had known that his father would never agree if Qiu Ling did so. That was why he had insisted and gone to his father’s palace to try and convince him himself.
Unfortunately, his father had never listened closely to him and before he could bring up the matter of his relationship with Qiu Ling, the trial had been brought up. At that point, he hadn’t known how to make it up to Qiu Ling. Not only had he taken the task of talking it over with his father from him, but he had also failed to produce any results. Qiu Ling’s calm reaction to that news was a testament to his good character.
Still, they had never really talked that through. He had prepared for the trial instead and then, he simply left. So now that he had returned from his trial, that matter was still unresolved.
He could have gone to his father now, of course. But he didn’t think that he would listen. Most likely, he would be making a fuss about the trial instead and how much he had missed him. He would hardly get in a word and if he did, his father would react even worse. So maybe … maybe he should leave it to Qiu Ling after all. Not to mention that he worried whether his trial had changed anything.
He didn’t know how long it had lasted or what had happened. He was sure that he wouldn’t have betrayed Qiu Ling while in the mortal. He had made sure of that ahead of time. But that didn’t mean that Qiu Ling’s feelings couldn’t have undergone a change.
His leaving his advisers with him was a good sign but that could also be simply because of the type of person Qiu Ling was. Even if he fell out of love with him, he wouldn’t just abandon him. No, a man like him … he would ensure that he was alright despite lacking the feelings. So really, the promises from before … he was afraid he couldn’t just rely on them.
He tried not to let that thought get to him and simply walked up to the god manning the counter of the Tower of Wisdom.
When the man looked up, his eyes widened and he almost jumped to his feet before he caught himself. “Your Highness!” He had been working in the Tower of Wisdom for several years and Jing He was somebody who had regularly come by so he was familiar with him. Recently though, he hadn’t seen him even once.
The people in the Tower of Wisdom had talked about it but they hadn’t been able to come up with any explanation. The officials from the Court of Justice had also refused to say anything so suddenly seeing him came as a shock.
Jing He inclined his head. This reaction reminded him once again that he had been gone for a while. In fact, it suggested that his trial might have been on the longer side. Otherwise, would it be that surprising to see him? No matter what he thought, he still smiled. “I am here to have a look at some books regarding beasts.”
The other man nodded in a daze, only now noticing the small beast in the crown prince’s arms. “Of course, of course. Do you require any help?” To be honest, he wasn’t even sure why he was asking. The Son of Heaven had never asked to receive help before so it surely wouldn’t be different today.
Just as expected, Jing He gently shook his head. “Thank you but I should be able to find what I need. I will gladly come back to your offer though should some questions arise.”
The man gave a hum and then just stared at him for a moment. Ah, it really was a treat for the eyes when the Son of Heaven visited them. He had almost forgotten how good-looking he was.
Jing He felt uncomfortable under that gaze but he was used to it and his expression didn’t change at all. “I will be going then.”
“Oh, sure!” The man hurriedly bid his goodbye and then watched him leave. Right now, he couldn’t leave his post. Otherwise, he certainly would have gone to discuss with the others. But then, they’d find out soon enough that the crown prince was back.
Jing He made his way up the staircase, soon noticing that something was different from usual. The Tower of Wisdom tended to be a quiet place. You could always see a few people working here but there seldom were more than a handful on each floor at a given time.
Right now though, that was completely different: Whether it was the first or the second floor, he could see a group of officials from the Court of Justice sitting at the tables, going through documents. There were several more carrying books to the tables or away. No matter how he looked at it, something major seemed to be going on.
Jing He was confused but he didn’t simply walk up to them to ask. No, even though it wasn’t a problem to talk about having been on a trial after the fact, it simply didn’t seem right to bring it up. Thus, he instead went to look for the books he was interested in, trying not to think too much about what was currently going on.