In the Nine Heavens, Jing He’s expression had turned from the initial surprise to … a completely blank one. He had thought that the likelihood of getting a demonic beast was low and that this certainly had to be a spiritual beast. The idea that it might be a mythical beast hadn’t even crossed his mind.
He looked at the fluffy thing relaxing in his arms and felt even more that it was simply incomprehensible. This was a mythical beast? But then, compared to the one painted in the book, there was still a notable difference in size and expression. This simply wasn’t a full-grown mythical beast but most likely a cub.
Jing He picked the little beast up and raised it until they came face to face.
The beast blinked its eyes and then reached out, the soft pads beneath the paw touching Jing He’s cheeks. Of course, the claws had long been retracted to ensure it wouldn’t scratch him. This person, it really liked, after all.
“Huh.” Jing He only gave a soft sound before pulling the beast back into his arms. Either way, it was very cute. And if he thought about it more carefully, it didn’t seem so outlandish that Qiu Ling would catch a mythical beast for him. After all, hadn’t he once before fought against a mythical beast to prove his love to him? Catching a small cub to protect him and maybe play with didn’t seem that different.
He turned his attention back to Qiang Wei, his expression already returned to the usual graceful smile. “If adviser Qiang Wei doesn’t mind, may I take a closer look?”
Qiang Wei stared at him in a daze and then wordlessly handed the book over. It seemed … the Son of Heaven didn’t have a problem with this revelation? Well, that was good. He’d hate to have brought more problems to his king when the situation was already like this.
Jing He nodded and leafed through it until he found the right page again. He didn’t mind Qiang Wei’s wordless response. He might not know Qiu Ling’s advisers too well but for them to be a little more taciturn didn’t seem odd to him. Yes, in his mind, this was simply Qiang Wei being a serious person instead of not knowing what to do because he had no idea how to deal with his king’s fiance.
Jing He rubbed the head of the little beast while reading through the text. According to this book, what he held in his arms was called a ‘Flame Heart’. It was a rare mythical beast that could only be born in the hottest of places which were rich in spiritual energy of the fire element. The idea was that it would literally be born in the heart of the flame and when curling up their body covered in flames looked very much like a heart, hence both reasons had led to this name.
Because of its rarity, encountering a Flame Heart was said to bring good fortune. Although, on the other hand, one should be careful when meeting them. Even the cub of the Flame Heart was dangerous.
Just a few weeks after being born, the heat in their bodies was externalized, causing constant flames to leap up that were able to burn any attackers even when outside its homestead.
Later, at about three to six months, the claws would have developed enough to be used as a weapon as well. They would harden further throughout the cub’s life up until the time it reached maturity. Depending on the age, this meant that the claws could deal with different types of enemies.
Jing He stared at the description of the claws for a long time, not sure what to think. He should be able to tell how old this cub was based on the claws. At the same time, he couldn’t help but worry.
Qiu Ling had found this cub for him and somehow managed to snatch it to bring it back. Had the claws been highly developed at that time and caused him wounds? Actually, forget about the claws, what about the fire? Dragons were creatures of the wind and water. Injuring them with fire attacks should be easier. Had he taken damage?
Jing He hesitated for a while and then couldn’t help but turn his gaze back to Qiang Wei next to him. “Adviser Qiang Wei …”
Qiang Wei had been looking around, trying to look as if he was busy. As soon as he heard Jing He’s voice, he swiveled back though. “Your Highness?”
“Longjun … he didn’t get injured, did he?”
Qiang Wei immediately froze. Had the crown prince figured out what was going on? But … how? He didn’t think that that guy from the Court of Justice had said anything just now. And he surely hadn’t given away anything himself. Or had he? He tried to think of everything he had said but they had hardly exchanged a few words since Jing He woke up. No, it was absolutely impossible for him to be the reason that the Son of Heaven knew.
Jing He lowered his gaze after noticing Qiang Wei’s reaction. “So it is true …” He felt distressed for Qiu Ling and his motion of rubbing the little Flame Heart’s head stilled.
That man … spoiled him too much. Of course, he was happy to receive something from him. And having a cute beast that could even protect him might be the best gift he could have given him. And yet, he still wished Qiu Ling wouldn’t have done it if it meant getting injured.
He wanted him to be well. He never wanted to see him injured and especially not for his sake. And yet, it had happened. Maybe not even for the first time. Knowing this … it made his heart squeeze in pain.
Jing He looked up at Qiang Wei again, trying not to show his feelings too openly but some of that sadness and grief still manage to shine through in his eyes. “Then, with the battle … how is he doing now?” After all, even if his trial had been on the longer side, it wouldn’t have taken more than three and maybe a half months. Not to mention that likely, Qiu Ling hadn’t left to get the beast immediately.
In that case, would the wounds have hindered him? Would he have suffered further injuries in the battle after all because of the risk he had taken for him? It wasn’t impossible. It wasn’t impossible that Qiu Ling’s advisers would try and keep this from him as well. After all, Qiu Ling himself wouldn’t want him to worry. That was just the type of man he was.