31 Worth to Revisit
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The city was big enough that just two days were hardly enough to try everything. And even though they hadn’t taken a single break on the second day either the same was true for Zhen Zhu and Zhu Hong. In the evening, they returned to the guesthouse, going to lie down in the same nest again, and fell asleep completely exhausted.

This time though, Zhu Hong rubbed Zhen Zhu’s neck, wanting him to stay awake just a little longer. "We should return to the valley tomorrow morning. In any case, we didn’t tell the others how long we would stay and we didn’t even make it here on the first day. So we should go back to at least tell them what is up."

Zhen Zhu nodded and then snuggled up to his husband’s chest. To be honest, he didn’t need a big discussion about this. He had seen a lot in the last two days and he was very happy about that but he was also dead tired.

He just wanted to sleep now and, for the time being, he would prefer it if things were a little … slower. Just a few lazy days with his husband sounded like the perfect thing to do after all this excitement. So he didn’t have a problem with this at all.

Zhu Hong wasn’t quite sure what to make of his reaction but he figured that he should just ask again tomorrow morning to get a clearer response. And in the worst case, they could just send a message over. It wasn’t like that was impossible. Although, to be honest, he also wouldn’t mind a short break. At least for a few days.

Like this, the two of them fell asleep once again. The next morning, they actually both slept in, not waking until the sun had long gone up and was even nearing the zenith.

Zhu Hong blinked his eyes, kind of surprised to see this. Then again, the last two days had indeed been quite strenuous, or, no, make that the last four. Visiting the phoenixes’ forest had also taken quite a bit of strength. And with rushing back to the dragons’ valley and Zhen Zhu learning how to fly, it wasn’t like they had gotten a break in all these days.

He sighed and then got up, glancing at his husband who was also waking up. "Do you still remember what I said yesterday evening?"

Zhen Zhu changed his form and rubbed his eyes, looking at him tiredly. "Which part?" In any case, they were always talking a lot so he wasn’t sure what he was supposed to remember this early in the morning.

Zhu Hong chuckled at that. "The part where I said that it might be better to go back to the valley."

Zhen Zhu nodded and dragged his body out of the nest, putting on his robe with much less energy than the day before. "I do remember. I don’t mind. Actually, I think I want a break." He looked at his husband with teary eyes, prompting Zhu Hong to walk over and pull him into his arms.

"Don’t worry. You can have a break while I carry over there. So, let’s eat something and then go back."

Zhen Zhu nodded and then snuggled up against his husband’s chest, not feeling like moving at all.

Zhu Hong couldn’t help but be afraid that he would have to actually carry him out of the guesthouse. Well, not that he would mind. If that was what Zhen Zhu needed, then that was what he would do even though it would probably look a little strange.

He hesitated for a moment but then motioned over to the table. "Why don’t you sit down? I’ll get us something to eat and bring it back here. You don’t look like you want to go anywhere else."

Zhen Zhu didn’t answer immediately. Instead, he turned to look at the window and thought of the city outside. They had taken a whole week before they came here so even though he was really tired and wanted to go home and just sleep some more, he was also reluctant to leave. If he had one last chance to see something, he also didn’t want to miss out on that. "No, wait. Let’s go to eat somewhere in the city. It doesn’t have to be too far away though."

Zhu Hong laughed and nodded before he pulled Zhen Zhu out of the room. He bid farewell to the person at the counter on the first floor while Zhen Zhu was just hanging onto them and then, they already left the guesthouse.

They stood on the street for a moment and Zhu Hong looked around for some kind of restaurant that wasn’t too far away. Zhen Zhu really didn’t look like he would be able to take a long walk right now. And while he didn’t mind carrying him out of the guesthouse, it would be strange to carry him through the streets of the city to look around for a place to eat.

Ah, in moments like these, it would’ve been good if Zhen Zhu had stayed such a small chick as he had been in the beginning. Then he could have changed his form and just sat on his shoulder while he carried him around. Most likely, nobody would have found that strange. In any case, there were stranger things to see in the city.

After a moment more, he finally spotted a food stall at the side of the road. It was even in the direction of the closest gate. Perfect! This way, they wouldn’t need to walk as long to get out of the city either.

He nudged his spouse and motioned over there. "Let’s go over there. Can you walk that far?"

Even though Zhen Zhu looked as if he could fall right over, he still bravely nodded his head. "Of course, I can! I’m not that small anymore." He still tightly held onto his husband. Clearly, he would’ve preferred it if he was actually carried all the way.

Zhu Hong chuckled but didn’t say anything and just wrapped an arm around his waist, half-dragging him over there before he pushed him on a chair, and then went to get them some food.

After eating some hot food and gulping down some of the cold beverage that the waiter brought over a moment later, Zhen Zhu at least revived a little. He was still exhausted but at least he didn’t look like he would fall over any moment to sleep wherever he currently was.

Zhu Hong smiled but didn’t tease him about it. In any case, they had really done a lot in the last few days. It was no wonder that Zhen Zhu was like this. Also, it probably wasn’t strange that he might overestimate his strength. After all, even though he was an adult phoenix, he had only hatched a while ago.

There were still many things he needed to find out, not only about the world outside but also about himself. So, it wouldn’t be strange if he thought he could do more than he actually could.

The fact that he usually had a ton of energy probably didn’t help with that. This way, he would just feel that he could always run around to do new things. And only when his energy was finally depleted would he realize that it wasn’t endless and that he needed a break every now and then just like everyone else.

While Zhen Zhu continued eating, he looked around the street, feeling reluctant. "We’ve only been here for two days and now, we’re already leaving."

Zhu Hong nodded. "We are but that doesn’t mean we can’t come back. I think that we do deserve a break though. Also, when we’re back in the valley, there are a few things to take care of. For example, you will need to practice flying, right? Then after that, maybe we can have another visit. By then, we can even fly over together."

Zhen Zhu nodded, feeling a bit better after his husband promised this. In any case, it was true. The city wasn’t out of the world just because they left today. It wasn’t like you could only visit once in your life or even once a year. He didn’t have to worry. "Well, I’m happy. Even though we can’t stay any longer for now, I’ve already seen a lot. I feel like there are a lot of things that I’ve learned here. It was really interesting."

Zhu Hong nodded at that. "I thought that you would like it. Well, in the future, you’ll get to see even more interesting cities. This one is the one that is closest to the dragons’ valley. That is why I chose it for our first journey out of the valley. I didn’t want to go too far away so that we could return on short notice if something happened.

"In the future, when you can fly better and know a bit more about the tribes out there and everything else you might need to know, then we can also go and take a look at cities further away. Including those at the sea if you still want to. But there are also many other interesting places in the world."

Zhen Zhu looked at his husband, once again feeling like he saw a hint of that wonder in his eyes that he had admired the night when they climbed up the tower. "You’ve seen a lot of places already, haven’t you?"

Zhu Hong nodded. "I have. Remember how I said that I waited with going up the mountain for a few years because I wanted more experience?"

Zhen Zhu nodded. How could he ever forget that? To be honest, he had felt hurt when Zhu Hong said that. But he also realized that he had had his reasons. And this wasn’t anything that had to do with him personally. It had just been Zhu Hong’s conviction regardless of who his partner would be in the future. He shouldn’t overthink that. "I do. Is that why you know so much?"

Zhu Hong nodded. "Precisely. Among the tribes in our world, the dragons are some of the strongest. That is why other tribes will often give us tasks. Those are the missions that we usually do. Of course, there are also some that are given by other dragons who aren’t able to do something but most of them come from other tribes.

"In any case, those missions will often require us to get resources that can only be found in a dangerous place or maybe escorting people somewhere. Sometimes, we also just need to deliver a message when the person themselves can’t do it. So that is why after doing many missions, I have seen a lot of places."

Zhu hong wanted to stop the explanation at that but then reconsidered. Since they were already on the subject, he might as well tell him some more. "We aren’t doing those missions just out of the good of our heart. The risk is much too big for that. In return for our help, the people giving the missions will have to pay us. That can either be with money or with things that we need from those tribes.

"This is how the dragon tribe has been living for a long time. It is enough to sustain all of that. Usually, the dragons that go on a specific mission will be chosen according to their strength compared to the risk of the mission. More often than not, we will form groups with people of similar strength that will go on missions together all the time. It helps with coordinating and letting us mitigate some of the risk just based on how well we can work together.

"There is also such a group for me. But we can also decide if we want to go on additional missions with other groups or take a break for some time. When I was old enough to venture out regularly, I told Grandelder Zise that I wanted to take on as many missions as I could before getting married. Thus, I traveled with my own group, as well as others, and sometimes even alone when a mission was simple and wouldn’t be too dangerous."

"So it was like this. I didn’t know how the missions worked." Zhen Zhu had been wondering about it but hadn’t bothered to ask. In his eyes, it had just been something that the dragons did. He wouldn’t have thought that there was more to it. Now, he finally realized that he had been wrong. It was actually this important and had such a long-standing history.

Well, even if he had asked before, he wouldn’t have understood it anyway before he hadn’t seen people of other tribes. Now, everything Zhu Hong said instantly made sense. For example, since the merpeople couldn’t go on land, they naturally needed other people to get things from there, right? And while the dragons could live on the land and also in the air and from what he knew, they could at least swim. As for whether they could live in the sea as well … that was actually quite the interesting question.

Zhu Hong raised his brows when he saw his husband’s curious expression. "You can ask if there’s something that you want to know."

"Say, can dragons live in the water?"

Zhu Hong smiled at that. "Some can. Not all of us though. I am not the type that can if that is what you were wondering about. I think there are only one or two specific tribes of dragons that can live there. Maybe you’ll have the chance to meet some of them in the future."

Zhen Zhu blinked his eyes. There were actually several dragon tribes? He hadn’t thought about that before but it made sense. After all, weren’t there also several bird tribes? Although maybe that wasn’t quite the same.

Ah, thinking about it made his head hurt. He really needed some more sleep first. But anyway, he still wanted to know some more at least. "Did we see any of them in the city?" Probably not, otherwise, Zhu Hong probably would have told him already. But still, it was quite strange. The city was so big and there were so many people. How had there not been a single dragon other than Zhu Hong if there were more tribes outside of the dragons’ valley?

Zhu Hong indeed shook his head. "No, we didn’t. Quite a lot of the other dragon tribes tend to keep to themselves. Some don’t even like to take on this form and just stay in their dragon form all year round. They hate going to places like the city where they are forced to change. But I’m sure that Elder Bi can tell you much more about this than I. I actually didn’t have that much to do with the other tribes yet either but it’s different for him and others of his generation."

Zhen Zhu nodded, trying to keep in mind that he had to ask the Elder about this. This was something that he was really interested in. Both the other dragon tribes and the other bird tribes. He felt like he should know more about all of them. Actually, while he was at it, he might as well ask Elder Bi about the other tribes out there too.

Zhu Hong motioned to his bowl that was already empty and then toward the gate. "Anyway, it looks like you are finished. Do you want to leave? It will still be some time until we reach the valley." Since he would fly, he could fly fast if Zhen Zhu didn’t want to look around. Right now, he didn’t think that his spouse would want to. Even though he seemed a little more awake now, he was probably still not quite back to normal. So who knew how he would feel about it?

Zhen Zhu looked over there and then back in the other direction as if he wanted to still say goodbye to the city. "Will we really come back here?"

"As often as you want to. And we will also visit any other city that you want to see. Elder Bi has a map at home with all the places around the valley and the forest. You can have a look and then we can make a plan when to go where. I will have to take on a mission or two sometime soon but in-between we can always go out and travel to take a look at new places. We can also stay in the valley if that is what you want. Just tell me and I’ll make it possible."

Zhen Zhu nodded and then got up and finally, the two of them left the city again.

As soon as the dragons’ valley came into view several people gathered on the ground where they would likely land. Zhu Hong cursed inwardly but also couldn’t help but show a faint smile at the same time. Elder Bi’s family was really like his own family.

He nodded at them as soon as he landed only to be scolded immediately.

"Staying out for so long! You really think nobody’s going to worry about you, are you?" Elder Bi was in his face right away but then changed his tune immediately. "Well, let’s have a look at you! Any injuries?" When he saw that Zhen Zhu was leaning powerlessly against his husband, he was even more worried and felt the need to pat down their bodies, trying to find out where exactly something was wrong.

Zhu Hong just smiled wryly. "No injuries, just tired. We rushed to the city for two days with hardly a break. Let me bring him home first. Zhen Zhu needs some sleep. And I could use some as well. We’ll tell you about everything else afterward."

Elder Bi clearly had something to say about that but Chengse already grabbed his arm and shook her head at him.

He grumbled a bit but finally nodded. "Well, go home then! No, wait, we’ll come with you!"

Zhu Hong really didn’t feel that it was necessary but he didn’t have the energy to argue with Elder Bi so he just nodded and then led Zhen Zhu over to their house.

Zhen Zhu didn’t even say anything and just walked into the bedroom, falling down onto the bed without as much as taking off his robe.

The others couldn’t help but give him an alarmed glance.

Zhu Hong just chuckled though. "You should’ve seen him this morning. It was even worse then. I think somebody overestimated their own strength. In any case, he’ll be better after sleeping for a few more hours and then having another meal. Tomorrow, he’ll probably be back to his old self and already asking to go back to the city. It was hard enough to get him to come back here."

Even Elder Bi couldn’t complain about that. "You did well to do so though. It’s better for him to rest up a bit. These young phoenixes … they’re all the same."

Chengse gave him a look, clearly having some other thoughts about that but she didn’t want to argue with Zhen Zhu sleeping. Instead, she just patted Zhu Hong’s shoulder. "Your husband is doing the right thing. You should follow suit. Rest for a few hours and then when you’ve woken up, come by our house. You don’t need to make a meal of your own, just come over and eat with us. We’d love to have you around."

Zhu Hong nodded, feeling warmth course through his body. They really were too nice. Sometimes, he figured that he was probably a bit too cold in comparison. Even though he knew that they saw him as a member of their family, he still wasn’t sure about his own place.

Maybe that was something he should revisit. After all, just like with Zhen Zhu, he didn’t know everything. Maybe it was time to just rethink all of his relationships. But that was definitely not something he wanted to do right now. Thus, he just nodded and thanked Chengse before he sent the lot of them off and then also returned to the bedroom, lying down next to Zhen Zhu.

He pulled him into his arms and then closed his eyes, not saying another word before he also fell asleep.