Everyone fell silent. This was indeed what they had feared. But now, it was hard to say what exactly had happened. Jing He falling would have an effect on Qiu Ling but Jing He being harmed by a fallen god might be the same if his soul was affected. There was no way to say right now.
Bai Fen furrowed her brows and shook her head. “I’ll come along. Since the signs have faded this fast. The fallen god has to have left. It’ll be safe for us to leave here and check it out.”
Her husband nodded and got back to his feet as well. “Yes, let’s go!”
Qiang Yan inclined his head, glanced at Jinde and Leng Jin Yu, and then took the lead. Even though it seemed that most of the danger was over, they couldn’t be sure. Considering the position of his sister and her husband, he naturally couldn’t let them go ahead without checking first.
Jinde and Leng Jin Yu trailed behind the three trueborn gods, letting a bit of space open between them. They weren’t out of earshot but Jinde still leaned over and cast his husband a thoughtful glance through the veil. “Do you think it could be Xiang Yu?”
“The one who took Jing He?” Leng Jin Yu pondered. Xiang Yu had been staring at Jing He for Qiu Ling so he would have known if something was up. It couldn’t explain Qiu Ling’s current condition though unless there was more going on. “I don’t think it’s likely but I suppose there is a possibility in case the guards only saw the two of them but there was a third person. I doubt it though.”
Jinde nodded. “Yes. The guards assigned to him should be specially trained. Sure, they can’t contend against a fallen god but they should be able to spot another threat.”
“Exactly. So I don’t think it’s likely that there is a benign explanation for this. After all, they all recognized the signs of a trueborn god falling. Those wouldn’t appear just because an already fallen god appears.”
Jinde shook his head. This situation really wasn’t good. He didn’t even want to imagine what they would come back to when they returned to the dragon realm later. Qiu Ling … even apart from having bound his soul, he simply loved Jing He and he did so deeply. If anything happened to his beloved … he wouldn’t be able to deal with it.
Jinde raised a hand beneath the veil and rubbed his forehead. “That child originally told me he hadn’t bound his soul. I really wish he hadn’t. This just makes the whole matter more difficult.”
Leng Jin Yu nodded. “Yes, but we can’t change it.” And he really had no room to judge. In his life as Chun Yin, he had bound his soul to Jinde’s long before they were an official couple. It had simply felt right at the time so he went ahead with it. But see where that had gotten him! Still, he would always do it again if it meant that they could find one another in his next life.
The two of them stopped talking and rushed after the three trueborn gods that had pulled away further, reaching the palace of the Son of Heaven just a step later.
Currently, Jing He’s usual guards stood at the side of the palace with distraught expressions, the other pair of guards the Heavenly Emperor had sent to inquire a few steps away, looking grim.
Qiang Yan glanced at his brother-in-law but considering that he didn’t know much about investigating this kind of matter, he took the lead. “What exactly happened? Don’t leave out any details.”
The four guards all inclined their heads and Mu Kun started. “This morning, His Highness went to the Heavenly Emperor’s palace. He returned about twenty minutes ago, looking slightly off. He was …” He furrowed his brows, not sure how to explain it, and glanced at Huang Lan.
The other guard hummed. “He seemed to be in a daze. Usually, he’ll pay attention to the people around him and greet them, maybe even exchange a few words, but this time, he didn’t even look at us. He just walked past as if we weren’t even there.”
Mu Kun nodded. “Yes, exactly like that! We thought it was odd at that time but also didn’t feel that it was our place to say something so we simply continued to stand guard. We couldn’t hear anything out of the ordinary and only wanted to check on him when the storm got worse and lightning struck outside.”
At this point, Huang Lan took over again. “I was the one who called out but His Highness didn’t respond. Coupled with his previous odd behavior, we felt worried so I entered the palace. I couldn’t see him though so I stepped back outside to discuss with Mu Kun.”
“Yes, I thought it was odd for him to go out with the signs up above. I mean, they’re really hard to ignore and even if he thought it was a regular storm, why would he run outside? I thought he should have returned here because he didn’t want to be anywhere else with a storm raging outside.”
“Either way, we rounded the garden and His Highness was there. Behind him, it was like …” Huang Lan shook his head. “I don’t know what to call it but it looked as if the air had been cut and let you have a look into another dimension. Through that cut, we could see the figure of a man who stepped outside.
“We didn’t recognize the person and with how he silently appeared behind His Highness, we figured he should be a threat. We wanted to rush over but the storm had gotten so bad that we were unable to get any closer. We called out to at least warn His Highness but he didn’t seem to hear.”
Mu Kun nodded. “The next moment, he stumbled and then fell down but that man caught him and retreated into that cut in the air. After that, it closed. That was when we informed you. The storm raged for a while longer but slowly abated until it’s like this now.” He motioned around them where only the devastated garden could be seen in the distance but not a sign of the actual storm. In fact, there was not even a breeze in sight.