101 Gan Jiang Mo Ye
(T/n: Gan Jiang and Mo Ye refer to a swordsmith couple in Chinese legend.)
Such intimacy was familiar yet foreign, and I backed away slightly in my uneasiness.
Gaoqin Jiuye's expression darkened.
I thought for a moment, and decided to change the topic. "Oh yes, I wanted to ask you some things about Piercer."
"Go ahead," Gaoqin Jiuye said as he slotted a hand back into his pocket.
"The person who gave me Piercer is named Zou An. He's the owner of a weapon shop in the Western District. His wife, Ah Wen, died in the course of this experiment. She was harmed by You Ji."
Gaoqin Jiuye's gaze momentarily turned cold. "Yes, I'm aware of that. I investigated it."
"Ah Wen and you seemed to be old friends. Why didn't you avenge her when you saw You Ji?"
Gaoqin Jiuye looked at me squarely. "Avenge? Dead people can't be revived. Furthermore, there are many other complicated issues entangled within. It's not as simple as you think it is."
"So what if it's complicated. You probably won't care no matter how complicated it is, since you do everything solely for Si Luo."
Gaoqin Jiuye smirked. "You were hoping I could put myself in your position to consider things?"
"You're reading too much into this," I said while rolling my eyes at him.
"Also," I turned serious. "I saw Zou An after Ah Wen's death, and he's putting the blame on me for what happened. Could you tell me a little about him, since he seemed to have known you as well? I don't wish for that misunderstanding of his to continue."
Gaoqin Jiuye's gaze dimmed. "He might perhaps be aware that you were not at fault, but in order for him to continue having the will to live, he needs to direct his hatred at something."
"Hatred? Then why is he hating me and not You Ji? Although I might not have been a responsible district commander, Ah Wen's death wasn't something I wished for either. Why is everyone blaming me?" I suddenly felt so wronged, and this might be due to the fact that he did not defend me on the matter.
Gaoqin Jiuye sighed. "What I meant was, I hope you can understand him. Zou An is a pitiful person. Though I always find it a bother to tell stories, I'll just tell you more about him."
Cut the bullshit and be quick about it…
"Zou An and Ah Wen were a loving couple who had lived in the Split Zone for many years, and they opened a weapon shop in the Southern District because they both had a passion for the research and development of weapons. Days in the Split Zone might have gotten a little lonely, as Ah Wen suddenly had a grand wish."
"What was her wish?" I asked while crinkling my brows.
"She wanted a child."
"What? A child? How can the consciousness in the Split Zone produce a child!" I was shocked. This was not only an extravagant wish, it was something that can never be realized!
Gaoqin Jiuye glanced at me coldly as he continued, "You really don't know the real purpose of the Split Zone. That place is where we depend on MF to live, and MF comes from our subconsciousness, that is, our mental strength within us. Technically, as long as our mental strength is strong enough, there is nothing we can't do."
"Nothing we can't do? Even so, having a child should be impossible, wouldn't it? Even if one had the willpower, a child can't possibly appear out of nowhere. If the child was created with MF, then it wouldn't be a real child either."
"That's the reason why there is a high price to pay to realize such wishes. The more difficult it is to get what you want, the greater the sacrifice you'd have to make. It was initially a mere thought, but over time, Ah Wen wished for it more and more. I can understand why she had such a wish, but you might not be able to empathize with her. You haven't tasted the loneliness in the Split Zone, since you've only been there for less than two years. But this is especially so for lovers, when they see each other every day and there's nothing else to do. Even love cannot ease such loneliness."
I admit that what he said made sense. But, Gaoqin Jiuye, how can you be so sure that I am not able to empathize? I lie on my bed every single day, practicing my skills with the bow and arrow, and you think I'm not lonely? But Split Zone 13 is a place with no escape. Should we then all start hoping for something that we definitely won't be able to obtain?
I no longer want to go through the experience of hankering for something that did not belong to me, and end up paying some unknown price for it.
Seeing that I was silent, Gaoqin Jiuye continued, "Ah Wen and Zou An's desire for a child grew day after day. Finally, someone named Cang Ming found them, and told them that he could fulfil their wish, as long as they forged a living weapon for him."
"Who's Cang Ming?"
Gaoqin Jiuye's gaze looked unfocused for a moment. "He's also a soul splitter, from the Northern District's Ghost Gate."
Did this Ghost Gate refer to one of the three huge doors labeled 'Heaven', 'Ghost' and 'Exit' Song Lu and Yu Liang saw in the Northern District?
"What's… Ghost Gate? Why would there be soul splitters there?"
Gaoqin Jiuye seemed briefly shocked at my ignorance, but he regained his composure quickly. "It's nothing much. I can't explain in too much detail to you about Northern District matters. I can only tell you that Cang Ming is a notorious soul splitter in Split Zone 13, known as 'Satan's Soul'."
"Satan's Soul… What a cool nickname…"
Gaoqin Jiuye seemed amused by my awed expression, and his eyes shone for a fleeting moment. "He's a devilish character who appears relatively often, and many want him dead. However, he's still living freely with 'Satan' as his moniker. He'll sometimes appear in the Eastern, Western and Southern Districts. What I've heard is that there will be bloodshed and mourning wherever he goes."
"Being so mysterious, nobody really knows Cang Ming's whereabouts. There are many legends about him, and I'm drunk on the fact that as a district commander, you actually know nothing of this character." (T/n: 'Being drunk' is Chinese slang used when faced with a situation that one finds absurd or ridiculous, and is usually used as a scornful remark. The phrase describes a state where one doesn't even bother to give any reaction or reply because he or she is too drunk to do so.)
Do you need to use slang when chiding me? That's intelligent…
"So he had a method for Ah Wen and Zou An?" I asked.
"That's right. I hear that there's nothing he can't do, and he's an evil maniac just like Satan. He can fulfil your desires, but he can also bring you ultimate pain."
Ultimate pain… Isn't 'ultimate' usually used to describe something positive…? How horrid would ultimate pain be then…
"Anyway, there used to be only three living weapons in the Split Zone – 'Sealer', 'Leopard Slasher', and my 'Shen Qi'. Cang Ming wanted a living weapon of his own, one filled with absolute malice. So, he looked for the couple who were good at forging weapons, and requested for a living weapon. In exchange for that, he promised to give them a child of their own."
"This deal sounds pretty good. But like you said, since Cang Ming was just like Satan, the price for it would probably be high…" I muttered.
Gaoqin Jiuye nodded in agreement. "Yes, it's not a simple task to create living weapons. A voluntary soul, that is, somebody's consciousness, would have to be willing to be sacrificed. I don't know how Ah Wen and Zou An created Piercer, but I know that it was made by them, and it is powerful."
"What else?" I unconsciously reached out to touch the violet whip hanging at my waist, and suddenly felt like I wanted to know more about its past.
"After Piercer was finished, the couple passed it to Cang Ming's servant maid, Bian Ying, since he was nowhere to be found. Bian Ying gave the couple a pill in return, telling Ah Wen that she'll have a child within seven days of swallowing the pill. Bian Ying took Piercer, and Ah Wen took the pill."
"Wait," I interrupted Gaoqin Jiuye as I heard the familiar name. "Bian Ying? Who is she?"
"She's Cang Ming's servant maid. You might have heard Ta Lai mention it, as she used to be his lover. I don't know what happened between them, but I know that she's serving Cang Ming now. She's the only one who can reach Satan Cang Ming and also the only one who knows everything about him. Word has it that she fell in love with Cang Ming at first sight, and could even abandon Ta Lai for him. But I'm not too sure about the details, since these are just stories about the soul splitters."
I grew silent. Ta Lai always seemed calm and composed, and if I did not witness him having a nightmare, there is no way I would believe he could be that loyal to any woman. It seemed to be a memory filled with heartache, or Ta Lai would not be trapped by that recurring nightmare of his.
"Ah Wen did give birth to a child after seven days, and the process of labour and delivery was exactly like what would happen in the real world, but with a much shorter duration. Zou An and Ah Wen were elated at having a child, and did not have further worries. What's weird is that the child grew and cried like normal children in the real world did. The child grew very quickly, and not long after, the child already looked like a one-year-old."
I shivered as I listened. That was way too weird.
"However, something shocking happened. Living weapons can either be dormant or resurrected, and resurrected living weapons are like another soul, becoming partners to their owners during fights. Piercer resurrected on its own before Bian Ying could hand it over to Cang Ming, and it devoured Bian Ying's consciousness."
"What?" I was stunned. Piercer can devour consciousness?
"Yes. I don't know how it happened either. From this, we already can see that Piercer is different from the other three living weapons."
"Bian Ying, she…"
Gaoqin Jiuye's eyes darkened. "If it was somebody else, it would be equivalent to death. Luckily for her, Bian Ying is an outlier. Apart from you, she's the only one with double identity disorder in the Split Zone."