Xiang Yong watched his king intently. He wasn’t sure if his plan was working. Right now, there didn’t seem to be much of a response. But then, if they didn’t do anything, it was even more unlikely for this to be resolved.
He hesitated for a moment but then spoke up again. “Your Majesty … should we return?”
Return? Qiu Ling chewed on the idea for a moment but he didn’t see how it could help. Return … where to, even? His beloved was already gone. No matter where he went, that couldn’t be changed. He wouldn’t find him.
He continued to stare at the Heaven mountain, his head slowly tilting to the side. Find him … He remembered the story Jing He had told him back then: How Tian’s lover had fallen and vanished, how the supreme ruler went and searched for him everywhere. Had he found him? Jing He hadn’t known the answer and neither did he. But surely, if there was anyone who would … it should be Tian himself.
Qiu Ling lowered his head and raised his hands, staring blankly at them. Someone like him … might not deserve that kind of love. And yet, he was not willing to give up. He could let go of anything but not the one he loved.
He looked up again and finally rushed toward the mountain. No matter what, he had to try.
Behind him, Xiang Yong’s eyes widened and he rushed after him, Lei Jiang directly behind. The two of them exchanged a bewildered look, not sure if things had turned out the way they wanted them to or if they should be even more worried now.
Yes, their king was traveling to the east now but … why was he flying toward the southeast? It was as if he was going to the Heaven Mountain directly and not to the Nine Heavens on the other side. It really didn’t help their worry that he hadn’t said anything before rushing off.
The three of them made their way through the mountains, the distance between them widening slightly. As the one who chose the path, Qiu Ling pulled further ahead, finally reaching the foot of the Heaven Mountain while the other two were still lagging behind.
“Your Majesty!” Xiang Yong’s eyes widened. He had been afraid that there was something wrong for a while now and when he saw Qiu Ling reach the foot of the mountain, he was afraid that he had been right all along. Their king wasn’t trying to reach the Nine Heavens at all. Somehow, he had decided on scaling this mountain!
Qiu Ling didn’t even seem to hear the voice from behind. He continued to rush ahead, flying up the mountain at the fastest speed. Just like when Xin Lan had gone to the High Heavens in the past, Qiu Ling was soon also greeted by the pressure from above. He couldn’t fly using his spiritual energy any longer and instead landed, climbing up the mountain on foot.
Xiang Yong and Lei Jiang still stood at the foot of the mountain, the former’s expression dismayed while the latter simply looked at him with worry.
“What should we do now?”
Xiang Yong shook his head. “What can we do? It’s unlikely we’d manage to make it even close to the top. If he comes down later, we might even miss him. It’s better to stay here and hope he’ll take the same way down that he just went up.” Even though he said so, his brows still tightly furrowed.
To be honest, the chance that Qiu Ling would take the exact same path down was small. In fact, he might even end up on the other side of the mountain. This really wasn’t something Xiang Yong wanted to see, especially not after their king had already been traveling nonstop for so long. By then, he would be exhausted. It was much too easy for something to happen to him in such a state. Unfortunately, even though he was aware of that, there was nothing he could do.
Xiang Yong sighed and shook his head. “We can only wait and hope. Let’s pick two positions just far enough apart that we can still see each other. This way, we’ll at least be able to keep an eye on a bit more of the mountain.”
Lei Jiang nodded. He also knew it wouldn’t be enough but what choice did they have? “Should we call over other people?” They’d need a lot to cover the whole base of the mountain but at least one half of it would heighten their chance to spot their king tremendously.
Xiang Yong hesitated but finally shook his head. “This might not officially be the demon realm any longer but I don’t think we should make too much of a fuss. Anyway, it’s the Heaven Mountain. I don’t think the supreme ruler would let anybody act too outrageous.” Of course, that included their king so maybe he shouldn’t put too much hope into that.
He rubbed his forehead and then motioned for Lei Jiang to move while he also rushed in the other direction, only stopping when Lei Jiang’s figure almost vanished from his side. Then, he stared up at the mountain, looking for that figure that already couldn’t be seen any longer.
Really, what had gotten into their king? Wasn’t he eager to see His Highness again? Didn’t he want to make sure that he was alright after his trial? It was normal to want to avenge Zhong Jing Yi first and since Yong Hai was dead, whatever other demon he could grab was the only option for that. But scaling the Heaven Mountain? That idea was so far out there that he couldn’t even begin to imagine how their king had come up with it.
But then, a dragon who just lost their soul-bound partner wasn’t necessarily sane. They could probably count themselves lucky if he managed to even survive this ordeal whether it had happened during the crown prince’s trial or not. This … was precisely what they had feared after Zhong Jing Yi’s ascension. Now, it seemed to have come true despite all their precautions.