105 Different Means to the Same End
Du Yue paused for a while before she finally nodded. "Alright, I'll promise you. Return to the Northern District with me, and I will not step foot into the Western District ever again."
You Ji hastily added, "But my Seven Demons are still nowhere to be found, and we're just going to leave the Western District experimental grounds like this…"
"Don't forget your promise to me, You Ji. The Seven Demons have extraordinary abilities, but there are still others more powerful than them. I'll provide you with stronger subordinates," said Du Yue firmly.
You Ji shot a sharp look at me, her eyes filled with hatred. I stared back at her.
"Where're the Seven Demons? Why don't I sense their presence even after the Western District is restored?" You Ji asked me angrily.
"Old Man Fan sealed the Seven Demons, and I don't know how to release them either," I decided to tell her honestly.
Although I blame You Ji for betraying me, I know she cares for her subordinates as much as I care for Song Lu and the others. Since we were once as close as sisters, I do not hate her as much even though she let me down.
Agony flashed past You Ji's eyes, however, she had no choice but to obey Du Yue.
"Alright, bring me back too," You Ji said to Du Yue.
Du Yue nodded, then turned to address Ta Lai, "Go with me now."
"Hold on." Ta Lai raised his hand as he smiled elegantly.
The world became pitch black in an instant.
It's that technique to distort the four senses!
I snapped alert, looking at the blackness around me.
"Li Shen, although Du Yue is a cruel character, she keeps her promises. Once I leave with her, she'll stop her reckless acts in the Western District. Although I can't see through Old Man Fan's technique, everything still ended positively. I hope you'll rebuild the Western District after I'm gone, and I'll help you gather information about the friend who's in Du Yue's hands. If you still trust me, please don't go searching for her in the meantime. You are still not strong enough to go against her."
"Also, don't forget my training. I hope you'll be able to perfect your use of Piercer through everything I've taught you in the past few days."
"One last thing, don't ever desire to return to the real world. I can help you in all matters, be it rebuilding the Western District or saving your friends, as long as you keep the promise that you won't return to the real world. Although I don't know what you witnessed through Old Man Fan's spacial transference, you can be sure that I'll be taking your life if you go back on your word."
Before I could ask further questions, the world was restored to brightness.
"Where is he?" I looked around. Ta Lai, Du Yue and You Ji were gone, and only the row of us was left.
"What was that?" Jiao S asked, frowning.
"That's the ability of the man in the navy jacket, Ta Lai. It's a space that distorts the senses," I explained patiently after a sudden realisation that all this was unknown to Jiao S.
"I heard Jie Pa say he is a soul splitter?"
"That's right, both he and Du Yue are soul splitters. Du Yue is the mastermind behind these experiments, and she's also the one who injured Huan Qing. Her goal is to develop a method that can kill soul splitters, and for now, it seems like this is all to go against a woman named 'Bian Ying' and to compete with her to obtain Ta Lai's love."
Jiao S's listless eyes gleamed as they widened. "Bian Ying? That unique case in the history of the Split Zone?"
"Seems like you already know about it. Gaoqin Jiuye told me as much, he said her case is identical to mine, someone who arrived in the Split Zone with double identity disorder. But, how is she a soul splitter too?"
"From all we've heard so far, the world of soul splitters should be in the Northern District," said Jie Pa.
"Oh, where did Old Man Fan bring all of you to? Did you meet your families?" I asked curiously.
Pain flashed past Jiao S's eyes, slightly startling me.
Jie Pa met Nie Zun's eyes, but they did not say a word.
What's this all about…
But as I thought of my mother, I quietened. Perhaps everyone was in low spirits just like me…
"We're able to at least get a temporary reprieve now that they've all gone. I've settled the matters of those who died, and also inspected every single one of my Eastern District residents, so there isn't much of an issue on my side. You should go to the experimental grounds and settle the issues in the Western District as soon as you can," Jiao S told me, turning her neck stiffly.
"Do you need to go over to Si Luo's side to get a sense of the situation?" I asked cautiously.
Jiao S suddenly looked up at the sky and was silent for a moment. She smiled as she turned back to look at me, her usual pale and stiff face looking a little more lively.
"I'll go over to take a look now. You're okay here, right?"
I smiled as I said, "I'm okay. I still have Nie Zun and Jie Pa with me. Seems like the Western District needs new protectors."
Jie Pa stepped forward to address me, "Miss Ah Shen, rest assured. My intelligence network is back now that everyone from the Western District has returned. Nie Zun and I have been working for the past year to pick those able to help you protect the Western District. We'll be able to get to the bottom of this matter. We'll also think of a way to release Old Man Fan from that sealing technique."
I nodded. "Look, Jiao S, I have these two awesome, handsome guys - Jie Pa and Nie Zun with me. I'll be fine, so you go ahead. I'm not sure what the situation at Si Luo's side is, but I probably can't help much before I finish settling the matters here. After I've gotten things more or less sorted out, I'll go with you to investigate what's happening in the Split Zone and Si Luo's matters."
Jiao S smiled and nodded. "Although we have to part after we've just met, and I'm a little reluctant to do so, now is not the time to sit around and chat either. I’ll send someone to investigate in the Southern District, and I'll help you look into Laurel's wheareabouts. Just like what that person said earlier, your priority should be the matters in the Western District, everything else can be done later. You still have me, and everything can surely be solved, even if our opponents are soul splitters."
From the day I got to know her, I have never heard Jiao S say such things to me with such a friendly expression. All I could do was nod.
Jiao S, I will no longer be cowardly. Trust me, I will fight alongside you.
Jiao S also said something else before she left.
"Li Shen, although that world is not a nice place, I still want to return. I'm sick of everything in the Split Zone, and even though I've found a reason for existence here, I still want to bring Si Luo back. I know you have the same thoughts deep down in your heart, even if you're not aware of it now."
I did not answer.
Just like how I did not answer Ta Lai or Li Qing when they asked.
Even now, I am still not certain of my answer. Old Man Fan is right, I should look for what I really want. Gaoqin Jiuye is also right, running away cannot solve anything.
I believe that I will be able to find the answer as long as I continue on this path. What I should believe in, what I should grab hold of, how I should live, where I should live – the answers to these questions will one day be known. I am firm in my belief.
"They've all left. It's just the three of us now." I arranged my hair and flashed a brilliant smile at Nie Zun and Jie Pa.
"The bamboo hat trio following Miss Jiao S looks really familiar," Jie Pa suddenly said.
I shrugged. "Haven't seen their faces, and haven't witnessed much of their skills either."
Jie Pa adjusted his glasses. "Miss Ah Shen, I'm going to look for my intelligence network to analyze the current situation in the Western District and find individuals who will be able to assist you."
"What about the experimental grounds?" I asked.
Nie Zun spoke, "Let Jie Pa go first, I want to speak to you. After Jie Pa is done assembling the people, we'll go to the experimental grounds located in the Residence."
"Alright." I nodded.
"Both of you go ahead to the Residence first, we're in front of the Marketplace and you'll need 10 hours to go back from here. I'll look for the both of you once I'm done assembling the people."
After speaking, Jie Pa walked into the Marketplace building.
I looked at Jie Pa's figure slowly disappearing into the building in front of me, and looked at the statue of Old Man Fan on the stone ground in front of the building.
"Nie Zun, where did you go when we were in the real world? Why were we separated?" I turned back to ask Nie Zun.
Nie Zun gave a slight smile, but for some reason, it did not seem genuine.
"Didn't you always wish to be separated from me. Now that it's happened, why're you asking so much." His voice was icy.
My heart knotted slightly. Something was not right about him, and it felt as if he was angry.
But, what was he mad about? What an odd guy! I didn't provoke you!
I rolled my eyes at him angrily. "That's right, I can't wait to be separated from you and I wanted to stay in that crack in space forever so that I wouldn't have to come back and look at this icy face of yours. You, you, you, what're you doing?"
Before I could finish, Nie Zun took a big step towards me. His usually indifferent gaze seemed to fill with intense emotion and a burning anger.
He took my head in his gloved hands, and pulled my face towards his. Leaning forward, his gaze locked on mine.
"You, you, what are you doing…" I slowly lost the will to speak. The closer I was to his eyes, the more intense his fiery gaze felt.
"You're angry…? But what are you, you, you mad at…"
His fingers bent slightly and I felt his grip tighten on the back of my head, as if afraid that I would run away. His voice was no longer idle and indifferent; it was alluring, steeped in layers of emotion. "You really want to just be with him in that crack in space?"
I was a little astounded. What?
"Have you fell in love with him again?" His voice trembled slightly, and I wondered if I had heard wrong.