Jing He had made up his mind. Even though he knew that he couldn’t do much and that this little bit of effort might not mean too much in the grand scheme of things, he still wanted to make Qiu Ling happy. Just as he had said, that was simply what you would want to do for the person you loved.
Qiu Ling hadn’t voiced many wishes. In these six years, it could probably be said that save for marrying him, he hadn’t asked for anything. Today, when he wanted his reassurance that he requited his feelings to a degree, it seemed to be the first time that he directly told him what he desired.
Of course, Jing He had already decided in his heart that he would fulfill this wish. It had seemed like the right choice before but that had mostly been because he realized that Qiu Ling’s feelings might fizzle out otherwise and because he himself wanted the dragon king to know that he indeed cherished him.
Now though, this decision seemed to be given new meaning. And of course, this wouldn’t be all. In the future, he should pay more attention to what Qiu Ling said and try to see what else there was that he wanted. Then, he could indeed do his best to fulfill his wishes, no matter how big or small. Yes, as long as they didn’t go past the boundaries of what decency allowed him to do, he would fulfill his every wish.
The two people looked at each other, both with their own thoughts in their hearts.
Qiu Ling was the one to pull himself out of this strange atmosphere first. He lightly cleared his throat and then picked up the topic they had originally discussed. “Anyway, as I said, the Nine Heavens are very varied in how they are shaped.
“You have islands that you can see from the shores of the mainland, the rivers and lakes dotting the landscape in many places, mountains towering above the cities at their feet, and rolling hills shading the green meadows next to them. The dragon realm has the same with the only difference being how everything is distributed.
“So in a sense, you could say that … there is no real difference between the realms, only a superficial one that you can see past at a second glance. It is just like how the gods and the dragons are similar in how we are immortal races shaped by Tian that live in the same realm, just that the customs might differ slightly.”
Jing He nodded, feeling that Qiu Ling didn’t seem to be wrong. “There is hardly a difference between a lake in the Nine Heavens and a lake in the dragon realm just that the surrounding landscape is of different makeup. But maybe you could even find a spot that was the same if you just looked long enough. Just like there are gods and dragons who hold the same ideals if you just bother to bring them together.”
Qiu Ling gave a hum. “That is what I would like to think, yes.”
Jing He’s gaze lowered but then slipped back to Qiu Ling just as fast. “Then … after seeing all of this, what is your favorite place?”
Qiu Ling looked into his eyes, his lips curving up. “You mean other than a certain palace in the capital city of the Nine Heavens?”
Jing He’s face flushed. He might not have caught Qiu Ling’s drift earlier but this time had been much too obvious. He hurriedly looked away and faintly cleared his throat, pretending that this hadn’t happened. “Anywhere is fine. Just … I wonder what type of place you would generally prefer.”
Qiu Ling thought for a while. He knew he wasn’t always completely honest with Jing He but he tried to be when he could. In this case, while he might not want to explain why he wasn’t as eager to be close to the water as other dragons, the answer to this question could still be given.
“Between the wind and water, I guess I was always more partial to the energy of the wind. Of course, you can find that in almost any place but it becomes more pronounced the higher up you travel. So for me, a place I would like in general would be the top of a mountain.
“Flying up there or even just walking and leaving everything else far behind until there is nothing but the stone beneath you and the sky above … there is a wild beauty to it that I cherish.”
Jing He looked up again, stealing a glance at Qiu Ling’s expression. There was an almost wistful look in his eyes that made Jing He inevitably think of a certain expression. He hesitated but then still spoke up. “It is often said that it is lonely at the top. Usually, people use that sentence to speak about those in power. But hearing what you said, I believe the top of a mountain shouldn’t be any different.”
Qiu Ling’s lips curved up again and he nodded. “You’re not wrong. But … I think there is a difference. Among people, you feel lonely because you can’t trust them or because you notice how much they differ from you. It is … a feeling of desolation that overcomes you. It weighs down on you and becomes a burden on your shoulders.
“Sitting on top of a mountain is different. You are alone and the world is … far away. It might be lonely but you don’t really feel alone. You just feel … a certain quietness to everything. The world seems peaceful when looked at in this way.”
Jing He’s gaze deepened. “It sounds beautiful when you describe it like this.”
Qiu Ling nodded. “It is.” He turned to look at Jing He and his gaze softened. “In the future, I can show you if you want to. Although … maybe with me at your side, you wouldn’t feel lonely no matter where we are.”
“I …” Jing He wanted to speak up but didn’t know how to say what was going through his mind. He thought for a moment and finally forced himself to go on. Either way, he had decided to be more open with the dragon king. “I do indeed not feel alone while with you. It is more as if … the world had suddenly become smaller.” He glanced at Qiu Ling’s expression but then hastily lowered his head, not daring to look any longer. Had that been too forthright? It sure seemed that way.
Qiu Ling didn’t respond immediately. He quietly looked at Jing He but then reached out, finally cupping his cheeks. “I know what you mean. The world seems … endless when you are on your own or with others as if you were small, almost negligible. But sometimes, there are people who make you feel that … actually, the world isn’t that big and scary. Instead, it might just be one city or one palace, or even one room. And being with them at that place is more than enough.”
Jing He had raised his head as soon as he felt Qiu Ling’s touch. Now, he also raised his gaze to meet Qiu Ling’s but he couldn’t react in any other way. The words simply seemed stuck in his throat. But yes, in his heart, that was what he had meant. And the fact that Qiu Ling was able to understand that made him feel happier than anything else ever could have.