157 The Smartest Individual
A pleasant, familiar and slightly husky voice was calling at me.
I opened my eyes unwillingly as I felt something cold beside my face. I was simply too exhausted.
Nie Zun's scarred face met my eyes as I opened them fully. Though he had a face full of scars, it could not take my attention away from the gentle light that shone through those starry eyes of his.
Wait, his eyes…
I sat up, staring at him. "Your eyes have recovered?"
No, I shouldn't be asking like this.
"You, you've recovered?"
Nie Zun's eyes seemed to darken for a moment before he answered, "I think so, except for this ugly face."
A bittersweet smile appeared on his face.
I was heartbroken at how he seemed to hate himself.
Looking around, I realized we were already in a building in the Southern District. Nie Zun was sitting on the bed, and I was asleep in his arms previously.
I grabbed his arm. "You look better this way. At least your eyes and hands are fine."
Nie Zun laughed, and I saw the defeat disappear from his eyes. "You're really bad at consoling others. Why would you tell someone they look better with a face full of scars?"
I asked, "But seriously, what happened?"
Something flashed in his eyes. "Nothing."
With a slight frown, I pulled his arm towards me in a sudden motion. He was caught unawares as I pulled him much closer to me.
It was the first time I saw an expression that looked like embarrassment on his face.
I stared at his face, still holding onto his arms tightly with my hands. I asked in a severe tone, "Tell me what happened. Why did you disappear after I activated my split symbol? What happened in this time? I'll bite you if you don't tell me."
I was trying to be a little bit more girlish, hoping that I could lift his spirits a little since he did not feel good about the disfigurement, and he was definitely blaming himself and regretting that he attacked me when being controlled.
Nie Zun's gaze softened as he sighed.
"Nothing much, actually. I was badly injured that day, and for some reason there was this demonic energy leaking from my hands. You know that this pair of hands had already caused the deaths of so many around me when I was alive. I was afraid of it happening again. When I saw that demonic aura, I didn't know what to do, so I decided to leave temporarily. But then I realized I could actually be more than 500 meters away from you, so I just left."
Furrowing my brows, I pouted. "You just left? What do you mean you just left? You left me merely because of this?"
It was only after I finished speaking that I realized I was acting like such a little girl by asking such a thing.
I was a little tense, and my face seemed to be a few degrees hotter.
With Nie Zun's disappearance, I was now very sure of his place in my heart.
Though I didn't dare admit it, what I felt for him was what I felt for Gao Qi at that time, or rather, I should say that this was completely different. I couldn't tell whether it was love.
But I knew that I couldn't live without Nie Zun.
Subconsciously, I squeezed his arm as I felt a little upset.
Nie Zun's eyes shone, as if he felt a slight change in me.
"I never thought of leaving you. I wanted to be on my own for just a little while, just to make sure that this pair of demonic hands wouldn't hurt the people around me. I planned on returning after that because I'd never risk hurting you, never ever.
"Even if I had to leave, I'll never let anything hurt you."
Nie Zun's voice slowly regained that unique steadiness and confidence he had, and I began to find familiarity in him again.
"Never knew you were this good at sweet-talk." I just had to chide him. I rolled my eyes at him, but my hands were still holding onto him firmly, not letting go.
Nie Zun's lips turned up in a slight smile. "Never knew you could be so adorable either. You were always ignoring me, and even though you were such a weakling, you were so ill-tempered it was crazy. Weak, ill-tempered and egoistic."
My lips twitched. Haha, how could I have forgotten that Nie Zun was a devil that could never say anything good?
"What happened in the end then?" I changed the topic since I did not want to discuss how 'not adorable' I was in the past.
I could feel Nie Zun freeze a little, so I waited patiently for his answer.
"In the chaos, I passed through the East-West border line and arrived in the Eastern District where I happened to meet Ta Lai. The demonic aura was spreading continuously from my hands, and I was badly injured. He told me that he'd be able to help, and since I knew him from before, I didn't suspect anything and simply went with him. I lost my consciousness as I entered that dark space of his, and he already planted the curse in my left eye when I woke up."
I listened quietly, but my heart was hurting.
I knew Nie Zun too well. He had amazing endurance and an ability to not crack under pressure, possibly because he had always been living under a certain kind of pressure when he was alive. This could also be the reason why he looked at everything in such a cold and calm manner. However, to protect me, he lost his restraint in that battle with Gaoqin Jiuye, causing that demonic aura to be released from his hands. This might all be because of me, and I just might be the trigger.
Not only did Nie Zun have amazing endurance, he did things carefully and he was a rational person. When that demonic energy seeped out from his hands, the first thing he thought of was not of what will happen to him, but of whether he would hurt me with it. To protect me and to prevent himself from being a ticking time-bomb if he was by my side, he chose to leave, and he did not even think about going to Jie Pa to treat his wounds first.
As long as I was implicated in some way, he was no longer able to think through the next steps calmly. How else would he have run all the way to the Eastern District and get taken away by Ta Lai so easily?
He was always intelligent and cautious, calm and collected. If it were not for me, how else would Ta Lai be able to convince him with just a few words?
All this was because of me.
I started tearing up, and I tried to silently take a deep breath to control my emotions.
"I knew something was wrong after he planted that weird curse in my left eye, so I decided to go against him. At that time, my injuries had not healed, and I was tortured by him under the restrains of that curse."
Nie Zun used a light-hearted tone to say this, and he kept his eyes on me the whole time. I knew he was afraid I would be upset to hear this if he didn't use such a tone.
But what he didn't know was that I would still feel heartbroken no matter how he told the story.
I was already heartbroken when I saw him again with his face full of scars and a hand that was missing three fingers. I could not imagine these horrifying things happening to him, I could not imagine it could change him, my Nie Zun, in this way.
Nie Zun's eyes regained their calm gaze as he continued his story.
"He has this knife he specially uses to carve those wooden puppets that become giants. These scars were left by that knife of his. That demonic energy was still seeping from my hands, and though I tried strangling him, I couldn't beat that curse he placed, and he was able to cut three fingers off my hand."
"Why don't these wounds heal then?" I looked at him in worry.
He shook his head. "I don't know either. It could be because of that knife. I was shocked at the time, but I didn't have much time to think about it. He kept controlling me through the curse. I tried to oppose him initially, but in the end, he used that knife to leave a mark on my face every time I tried to oppose him."
He laughed at himself. "Though I'm a man, I'd be lying if I said I didn't care about my appearance at all. So as time passed, I began to be controlled by him entirely."
"Why did Ta Lai do such a thing?" My voice was trembling slightly, heartbroken at how he was tortured by Ta Lai.
Nie Zun shook his head again. "I don't know. He said it was because of your betrayal, saying that you're making plans to leave the Split Zone even though you promised not to leave. But I'm sure it's not because of this. Ta Lai is an intelligent person who's great at mind games, there's no way he would do this to me just because of this."
"That's right, he doesn't look like someone like that either. There must be some other reason to it."
"Yes, and Ta Lai returned to the Northern District with Du Yue previously. So why did he appear in the Eastern District so quickly again? I suspect he has his own reasons for doing so, but I can't tell if it was by mere chance that he met me. What I can be sure of though, is that there's something else going on, something he didn't reveal.
"Also, he seemed a little different when he first met me, when he used that knife to scratch my face." There was no longer pain and self-loathing in Nie Zun's eyes. He now looked extremely collected as he recalled what happened, trying his best to look for clues.
I felt relieved as I looked at that expression. This is the real him, this is my Nie Zun.
Nie Zun is not someone who can be easily defeated.
If he was a devil, then he would be the most intelligent devil I've met.