107 Bloody Experimental Grounds
We were at the rooftop of the Residence.
There were two groups of people standing behind Jie Pa. I recognised one group - the various floor managers. According to Jie Pa's investigation, they were already unhappy with how You Ji was running things. Furthermore, she was always keeping secrets from them. However, as a rather useless district commander, they could not put their trust in me either.
This time, they chose to pledge their loyalty to me because of Old Man Fan's technique, and also because I played a part in chasing You Ji away.
The other group was Jie Pa's intelligence network. I heard that they were all outstanding individuals - there were computer experts and people involved in scientific research. (Me: Maybe people with a high IQ are more susceptible to psychological problems, since there are so many geniuses here in the Split Zone. Passerby A: You're definitely not one of them.)
I was not aware of the existence of this intelligence network previously, since I did not bother about such things. It was under the leadership of Jie Pa, and Nie Zun had been using this network, while I was in the dark.
There were about 30 individuals in the group, and everyone looked dapper and gentlemanly in their suits. The leader of this group was named Chou Yu.
"Miss Ah Shen, I've already briefed them on everything that happened. Is there anything else you'd like to add?" Jie Pa asked as he adjusted his glasses.
I looked at the two groups in front of me. Some of them were looking at me suspiciously, some looked worried, while some of them just looked at me like I was a total stranger.
I sighed inwardly.
"First, go with me to the experimental grounds. I'll tell you what I want to say there. I know all of you might not trust in my abilities right now, but please, trust me this once," I said in a committed voice.
They looked at one another, and nodded eventually.
One of the floor managers spoke, "District Commander, You Ji's experimental grounds had always been on the 27th floor. She connected a number of rooms on the 27th floor, turning it into a top-secret area which was always guarded by her Seven Demons. Anyone who tells after hearing about it would turn up dead the next day. We've always been afraid but we weren't able to tell anyone about this."
In that instant, I felt so apologetic. As District Commander, how could I have not been aware of what was happening to the residents?
"Bring me to have a look." Now was not the time to feel sorry. I had to change things!
"It's right here."
All of us walked up to the 27th floor with poise, and there were some curious glances directed at us from residents who happened to pass by.
The Residence is usually divided into different zones. There was a lift in between each zone and one zone usually contained 10 or so rooms.
"All the rooms in this particular zone had their walls removed and have been connected, forming a continuous path. The zone is sealed at both entrances, and the lifts are not in service either. We have no idea what's happening inside."
"Both Jie Pa and you were unaware of this too?" I asked Nie Zun.
Nie Zun shrugged. "No. You Ji probably got an illusionist to hide this place, so I didn't know such a place actually existed."
Suspicion grew in me as I looked at Nie Zun's eyes.
Was he really not aware? Or did he just not bother to find out more…
Nie Zun, you don't care about anything usually… Am I right to assume that you're actually doing all this, for my sake…
I had no luxury of time, and I walked to the door of this sealed-up zone.
There was a seal on the double doors, looking like the crime scene tape from television dramas.
"You Ji said no one lives here and it was used for storage, then she sent the Seven Demons to seal it."
"How should we open this?" I looked towards Jie Pa.
Jie Pa thought for a moment before saying, "Since we don't know what's inside, I'd suggest using a long-range attack."
I nodded and signaled for everyone to retreat.
I backed away and as I swung Piercer with my left hand, I felt a chill which went from my palm into my heart. It was this chill that made me accurately feel the MF merging with Piercer.
As the violet blade swung out, I heard low exclamations from behind. They were acknowledging my ability.
I started to feel smug. The door opened easily, though it was now horribly destroyed. Before we could see what was behind those broken doors, we were assailed by the strong smell of blood. I gagged at the odor.
As the doors crumbled to the ground, the inscriptions on the seals glided off.
I felt like choking and throwing up as the smell of blood, together with something rotten, spread into my nose and mouth. The inscriptions might have kept the smell and the noise in previously, but now that the seal has been destroyed, we could only stare at what was before us.
As we stepped through, we were faced with a long and continuous path. Lighting was sparse as all the windows were sealed. There was nothing but our footsteps.
Splat, splat, splat. Each step resounded, leaving a bloody print behind. Everyone quietened, and only footsteps on the wet ground could be heard.
My breathing became heavy as the strong odor engulfed my senses, prickling my eyes and assaulting my nose. I kept telling myself to stay calm as I looked around. Don't cry, don't get angry, I have to remain composed.
My heart started racing as I took in the sights around me. There was a row of rusty iron cages against the wall on the left. Each of these were a little over a meter in height, and every cage contained something that looked part-human and part-animal, all huddled up in their dead forms.
We could not tell if these things were humans or not. Some of them had the head of a cat and the tail of a snake, while others had wooden stakes driven all over their bodies. Animal and human parts were merged together, and two bloody holes replaced the eyeballs in all of them.
I heard Jie Pa's voice in the darkness. "There are no signs of life, they're all dead."
There was a label with a number on each of the iron cages, and 'Experiment No. 2' was written in dark red.
All the rooms in this area were connected, resulting in a very long path. As we ventured deeper, we could hear the sound of gears grinding slowly. Clack, clack, clack.
The further we walked, the darker it got. It smelt so rotten that I just wanted to close my eyes so I would no longer have to look at all the blood on the floor. How can anyone be so cruel and do something like this?
I lifted Piercer with my right hand, and as I felt its chill spread through my entire arm, I swung it several times, shattering the sealed windows. The gloomy skylight was finally able to come in, but the smell of blood did not dissipate.
I widened my eyes at the sight as we neared the end of the path.
There was a sealed wall at the end, and there was a gigantic device hanging from the ceiling. It looked similar to a torture device in medieval legend - the iron maiden. The human-shaped casket was open, and there was a body impaled within. There were no signs of life in the body, and the chains below the device led to a wooden pail on the floor. The blood which flowed onto the chains was already dry.
There were gears on the ceiling still rotating slowly, and the body was gradually crushed into smithereens by a circular device on the other end.
It was unusually quiet behind me, but I did not have the guts to turn around and look at their faces.
I took a deep breath, welcoming the smell of rotten blood, as I walked up to the row of wooden pails. Looking into one, there was nothing in it apart from pieces of solid, dried blood.
Picking up a piece with a handkerchief, Jie Pa sniffed at it. "They used human blood to feed the leeches. But whatever was in here should have been an imperfect form of leech spawn. It might not be sustainable for Rong Jin to continue capturing souls from the real world to create the leeches, so they might be thinking of using human blood and human bodies to create a suitable environment for breeding leeches."
Jie Pa calmly gave his analysis, but I could not remain calm after hearing that. My heart knotted painfully, as if it was continually being squeezed by a powerful hand, causing me to be a little unsteady on my feet.
I tried my best to keep my emotions in check. After what I witnessed in that stone room, I am now no longer that fearful of such a cruel and bloody sight.
"That Du Yue woman is practically insane. Sacrificing so many lives just to kill her rival in love? These bodies have all been bitten by the leeches, and they can no longer heal, right?" I asked, pointing at the pile of bodies in front of me.
Jie Pa nodded. "Yes."
I frowned. "No wonder Rong Jin was so interested in Old Man Fan's statue. He wanted to find out more about Old Man Fan's technique, because once he is able to break that barrier between the two dimensions, he'd be able to capture as many animal souls to create the leeches!"
Nie Zun added, "That's highly possible. That man is a mystery. There's nothing known about him, and apart from that shadow, no one has ever seen his face. We know nothing about that man, except for the fact that he'll not turn against Si Luo."
I gritted my teeth as I thought of how I could have actually felt some sympathy for him. No matter what, I cannot forgive him for taking so many innocent lives!
But, how is Gaoqin Jiuye related to him? Why did he bring Rong Jin back to see Si Luo?
Who can I actually trust?