Back in the mortal realm, nobody thought of any impending danger. The Zhongs were sitting in a study on the second floor of the restaurant and chatted happily about what each of them had experienced in the last couple of years.
Yes, it already had been ten years since Mister Zhong and his cousin, Zhong Gang, had seen each other the last time. Even before that, they had only seen each other a few times. But when they met they had hit it right off. That was why his cousin immediately thought of Mister Zhong when he needed someone for his second establishment. Which person could be better suited than someone from his own family that he got along with well?
The two men talked away a good half of the day until they finally arrived at the story about how the Zhongs had traveled to the capital.
"You really had incredible luck!" Zhong Gang exclaimed and shook his head. "Ah, I don’t even want to imagine what could have happened if you didn’t know that Daoist Master!" He couldn’t help but blame himself. He shouldn’t have invited them so casually! "I had heard of the bandits in the mountains but who would have thought? I should have written that in my letter. I’m really sorry, Ah Lei!"
"It’s nothing, it’s nothing!" Mister Zhong, Zhong Lei, scratched his head. "You also know I can’t read. Writing it down wouldn’t have made a difference. Haha, if not because the Daoist Master told us where to find your restaurant, we would have searched for some food stall in a side road. I wasn’t expecting …" Mister Zhong looked around and smiled wryly. "You said you were doing good but it’s more than that."
"Haha." Zhong Gang laughed too and slapped Mister Zhong on the shoulder. "Don’t say that, Ah Lei, don’t say that! This is the capital after all. It’s to be expected to be different from a village, no?"
Mister Zhong winced, stealthily gripping his shoulder when his family didn’t look. It felt like that slap just now had aggravated his wound again. Unfortunately, not even Qiu Ling was paying him attention.
The dragon king was once again caught up in observing Jing Yi. The boy had reined his curiosity in for some hours but finally couldn’t hold back and started to run around, examining every new thing he found. And he found a lot.
The village he grew up in had only things that were absolutely necessary for daily life. This restaurant was obviously meant for a more affluent clientele, so everything about it resonated with such people. The beautiful carvings on the furniture, the decorative scroll hanging on the wall, even the writing brush and ink were new to Zhong Jing Yi. With wide eyes he took everything in, not caring about the conversation behind him.
Finally, he returned to his parents’ side but he wasn’t satisfied. He wanted to see the rest of the restaurant! He turned toward the man his father was chatting with and trained his gaze on him.
Zhong Gang still spoke with Zhong Lei but soon felt an unwavering gaze on him. He turned toward the child next to his cousin and couldn’t help but smile. He reached over and pinched his cheeks. "Ah, you’re such a cute boy! Why can’t I have such a lovely child?"
In fact, Zhong Gang had a daughter. Unfortunately, as a cute girl in the capital that associated with the children of the rich merchants she had grown conceited. Seeing an innocent child like Zhong Jing Yi that could be excited by such simple things like a brush or an ink stone Zhong Gang couldn’t help but compare to his daughter. Zhong Gang thoughtfully stroked his beard. Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to let them spend some time together …
Qiu Ling’s eyes narrowed. He didn’t know what Zhong Gang was thinking but he didn’t like his contemplative gaze one bit. His intuition told him that he should be cautious. Something might happen to his beloved! He had to guard him even more closely from now on.
Zhong Gang had no idea that he had alarmed a certain dragon king with his behavior. Instead, he leaned forward and smiled at Jing Yi. "You seem to be really interested in the things around here, Jing’er. How about having a look around the rest of the restaurant? Only staying here in my study must be boring for you."
Jing Yi nodded eagerly. "Mn! Thank you, uncle!" Jing Yi seldom smiled as carefree as this. Two small dimples showed on his cheeks.
Qiu Ling clasped his chest and breathed deeply. Oh, heavens! What had he just seen? This was … too cute! Ah, he also wanted to pinch his cheeks! His fingers twitched but he held back. There would be opportunities in the future! A lot of opportunities! He would definitely make up for it.
Meanwhile, Zhong Gang stood up and waved his cousin’s family with him. "Come, come, let’s have a look around. After that, how about I’ll bring you home? You can get to know my wife and daughter." He smiled while his gaze fell on Jing Yi again. "I’m sure you’ll get along with my daughter Guanyu very well!"
Qiu Ling perked up. This gaze … Those words … Wait! "Daughter?" He tilted his head to the side. It seemed he’d have to remind Jing Yi soon that little girls were something to steer clear off.
His lips held a sinister smile and his eyes sparkled. He’d make sure nobody dared to set their eyes on his beloved!