Duan Ming stared at the pendant that had been worn beneath the clothes of the crown prince and suddenly felt himself at a loss. He had said he would pass on a message and he wouldn’t go back on his words. In case he was perceived as a rival in love, bringing a token of love with him also seemed like the better option because it would prove that he wasn’t trying to cause strife but was actually doing this on behalf of the Son of Heaven.
Seeing the pendant though, he suddenly wondered what the dragon king would say when he saw this pendant in his hand. Most likely, he had seen it before and knew that the crown prince was usually wearing it? He wasn’t known to be a reasonable person so if another man suddenly had this …
Duan Ming had some misgivings about what would happen but could only force a smile. “Well, I will get it to him as soon as possible.” Actually, he might not even need to speak to Qiu Ling directly. And even if he did, they had already known each other in the past so the dragon king shouldn’t feel threatened by him, right?
He picked up the pendant and stored it in his spatial ring before looking up at Jing He again. “Since this has been agreed upon, I shouldn’t take up more of your time. Your father can’t actually force you to have these meetings. If you don’t like it, you can just excuse yourself after a few moments and leave. What is he going to do about it?”
Jing He smiled faintly. What would his father do? “He might just arrange an actual wedding ceremony.
Duan Ming’s own smile turned lighter. “He might but it’s not like he can force you every step of the way. As long as you refuse, he’ll have to give up.”
Jing He gave a hum but he knew deep inside that he couldn’t actually refuse. This person was still his father. Even if he did not agree, even if he resented his choice, he couldn’t act against him. It simply wasn’t possible.
Duan Ming didn’t know him well enough to see his hangups now that Jing He had somewhat calmed down and wasn’t showing his emotions clearly any longer. He simply figured that he had said what needed to be said so their encounter should come to an end here. “I will take my leave then. Have a nice day, Your Highness.” He got up and inclined his head before hurriedly turning away. The less time they spent together, the better. Otherwise, who knew what else would happen?
Jing He quietly bid his farewell and turned to look out the window. They were in one of the side halls deeper in his father’s palace. There was a small garden next to it that had likely been cultivated by his mother once upon a time and even though it hadn’t seen enough care in a while, it could still be considered to be a peaceful place suited to having a heart-to-heart chat.
If not for the fact that his own heart was already set on Qiu Ling and they had even decided to marry each other, this place would indeed have been suitable to get to know a suitable marriage candidate. Unfortunately for his father, he had been a decade too late. If he had arranged this right after he came of age, he would have gone along with everything. But after knowing Qiu Ling and realizing his feelings, it was impossible.
He raised a hand and touched his chest, wondering what he should do. It was good that he was able to send Qiu Ling a message to reassure both his lover and himself. He knew that this couldn’t solve the situation though.
They hadn’t seen each other even once in the past three weeks. Before his trial, they had never gone such a long time without meeting. Now, it was one week first, then another three shortly after. It made him feel that his family was even more cursed than expected. After falling in love, there would actually be such suffering.
Come to think of it, maybe this thought wasn’t too far off. Didn’t the legends say that even though many people had been involved back then, the main driving force behind Xing’s fall had been his own family? This was why Tian had bothered to put another curse on top of the regular curse of the trueborn gods for the bloodline of the Heavenly Emperor from back then. This cursed blood, it ran through his father’s veins and also his own. Why would his life not be like this?
Jing He got to his feet and walked out of the room and into the garden. Right now, he couldn’t see his father even though he was sure that he wasn’t far away. If not him, then probably a bunch of guards that would move as soon as Qiu Ling appeared, causing a ruckus that would make his father rush straight over.
Actually, Qiu Ling could win against him. In a fight one-on-one or even one-against-many, there was not a chance for Qiu Ling to lose against his father or the heavenly guards. The only one who might have a slight chance of winning against him was his uncle or maybe if all the titled gods came together, they could defeat him with their strengths combined.
Since this was the case, Qiu Ling could probably just swoop in, grab him, and take him away, right? And yet, even though he could, Qiu Ling hadn’t done so, likely because he didn’t want to aggravate the situation further. Yes, he was probably still trying to find another way that wouldn’t cause his father to resent him for all eternity but still allow them to be together in the end. It was just … finding such a way should take a long time.
Jing He looked down at his hands, wondering if he had been too careful just now when he gave Duan Ming that pendant. Reassuring Qiu Ling was nice but … he wanted to become his spouse, to solve this issue once and for all, and not allow for his father to separate them any longer. Maybe instead of sending him a token to declare that his feelings hadn’t changed, he should ask him to not mind anything else and just come and get him. As long as he said he was willing, Qiu Ling probably wouldn’t hesitate for even a heartbeat, right?