182 My Weakness
"Li Qing had always looked at you differently, but I just couldn't control myself and I found myself liking you. I began wishing that you were mine.
"But I couldn't catch you. You were always changing."
This sounded more and more like a confession.
"Ah Shen, only when I cut Yuan Shen's corpse right in front of you did I realize that you've really changed. You've become stronger now. This really terrifies me.
"I understand why you didn't stop me from cutting him up. It's because you've decided to take responsibility for his death, and since you've decided to let Yuan Qian hate you for it, you'd rather add to that crime to be able to accept Yuan Qian's hatred for you even more realistically.
"You didn't owe her anything before this, but you owe her something now.
"You also knew it was useless even if you had stopped me. It's the Split Zone. His body would dissipate into light soon after, and you don't want to do something that would practically be useless."
That's right. Whether you've cut his head off or cut his body into pieces, the corpse will still dissipate into light eventually.
Sadly, you've only gotten this part right.
I didn't let you cut him into pieces so that I could face Yuan Qian more convincingly. It's not because I thought it was useless that I didn't save him either.
I'll never tell you why I did it, so you can keep guessing. You'll never be able to catch up with me. I'm always changing, and you're always regressing.
People who get jealous too easily will never improve.
I looked at her with mocking eyes.
I knew she'd be able to understand me.
As expected, she was enraged by my gaze. She stood up. "What do you have to be proud of? Who do you think you are to look at me like this…"
I finally saw an agitated Li Wen. She was ugly like this too.
I used to think she was the most beautiful lady in the world, but I realize now that she would still turn ugly when provoked.
No woman looks good when hysterical. That's the way of the world.
I continued looking at her with that mocking gaze.
That's right, Li Wen. You've already lost when you started talking.
I know your aim is to rile me up. You wanted to rattle me with your words, and you wanted to enjoy that look of mine when I wasn't able to say or do anything in response.
But you were wrong. Sometimes, the most powerful thing in this world is silence. When you tried to hurt me with your words, I'd win if I simply kept quiet.
Why do people respect Bodhisattva? Because Bodhisattva doesn't speak.
It's the same between married couples. It's the worse when one party decides to give the other the silent treatment, and that triggers anger very easily.
You're now a clown triggered by anger, and you deserve to be mocked by me.
Li Wen looked like she was about to blow, but she took a deep breath to calm herself down. That angry, wrinkled face smoothened.
I smiled inwardly. That's the Li Wen I know. Yes, this war will be interesting only if you're like this. You're that worthy opponent.
Du Yue's ruthlessness and You Ji's schemes - they have nothing on you.
You, Li Wen, are the opponent who's most worthy.
A mysterious smile appeared on Li Wen's face.
She sat down slowly, holding her chin in one hand and an end of her pale yellow dress stained with Yuan Shen's blood in the other.
"I've underestimated you, Li Shen.
"Since I couldn't make you move, how about I just tell you some things that you want to know."
Expectation flashed in her eyes.
That really annoyed me.
"You want to know if Li Qing is still alive, right?"
My eyes opened wide.
I expected her to look excited when she saw such a reaction from me, but her eyes seemed to darken for a moment.
"I'll tell you if you want to know.
"Li Qing is still alive, in the Gate of Exit."
She was continuously fiddling with the bloodstained part of her dress.
"So as long as you do what I tell you to - wake the other person asleep within you and lend me her power, I can help you save Jiao S and return Song Lu to you. I can even take you to Li Qing.
"Even if I don't wish for you to see Li Qing ever again."
I shut my eyes for a second, and reopened them again. That's okay. I just need to know you're alive, that's the most important. I don't have the guts to face you now anyway.
The Western District was destroyed in a mere two years after I took charge. Apart from a few lucky ones, the rest are all dead. I don't dare face you like this.
"This is the first thing that you want to know.
"You might find the second thing even more interesting.
"Do you know why both you and Bian Ying arrived in the Split Zone even though you both suffer from double identity disorder?
"In reality, even Bian Ying doesn't know how she arrived here in the Split Zone. The only thing she's sure of is that she wasn't captured by Ta Lai. She should've already told you about the third kind of existence here.
"No need to look at me with that surprised face. I heard every part of your conversation because I was right by the riverbank.
"What I want to tell you is this. That day when Bian Ying said she didn't know, when she said she couldn't explain it to you."
She seemed to have gotten hold of some sort of trump card at this point, and she continued with a smile.
"Gaoqin Jiuye actually knows everything about you, including the fact that you killed your beloved senior. He already knew this. The Split Zone and the real world are connected in some places, and Gaoqin Jiuye knew you from a long time ago. Possibly even before Gao Qi met you.
"You should've fallen in love with Gaoqin Jiuye instead of Gao Qi."
That was her trump card. It was like a bomb that exploded right in my chest, shattering my heart into a million pieces.
I had to ask. I had no idea what she was talking about.
Li Wen seemed to have anticipated my actions and she continued before I could say anything. "No need for you to ask questions. I wouldn't answer you even if you asked. I can only reveal this much regarding Gaoqin Jiuye. If you're fated to meet him in future, you can ask him about the rest yourself.
"As for you, there're only two things I'm not aware of."
Li Wen turned serious. "The first has to do with your second personality. Although I've thoroughly investigated you, I still don't know what that second personality is, what power she possesses, and under what circumstances would she appear.
"She's just like a ghost and no one can predict when she'll appear. That's pretty scary.
"This is why I'll have to force her out of you no matter what. I want to meet the real Li Shen."
The real Li Shen.
The real Li Shen is right in front of you. It's me.
I don't care whether she really is me, and I don't care whether I'd be able to eventually accept her one day. All I know is that I'm the real me.
No matter how powerful she is, she's still second place. I am Li Shen.
"The second thing I can't wrap my head around is about a person."
My heart sank as I could already guess what she was going to say.
Li Wen's eyes brightened as she said, "That person is Nie Zun."
My heart sank further. For some reason, I didn't want to think about him these few days. Ever since I arrived in the Northern District, I kept telling myself to stay calm, stay rational, and be strong.
But these were all gone once Nie Zun was there. These qualities just disappeared into thin air. This was the truth even if I wanted to deny it.
The truth was that he had become my weakness, my only weakness.
Li Wen's eyes were shining. "You know Li Shen, your eyes will always betray you. I finally understand it now. He's your weakness."
I shut my eyes. It's true that I couldn't hide any of my emotions when it comes to him.
"Nie Zun is even more terrifying than that second personality of yours. He's just like a shadow of yours that's always by your side. I'll see him wherever you are. He's just there, not upset, not sad, not happy. He's just standing behind you without any expectations, always looking at you with those eyes that were full of solitude.
"With the way he looks at you, I'd always feel that I could never be close to you.
"His power seems to be even more unpredictable. Those hands of his are terrifying.
"You know what's most terrifying?"
I don't know. I only know that I'm terrified every time someone uses Nie Zun to threaten me in any way.
"The scariest part is that I don't know where his split symbol is, and who his soul splitter is.
"In the Split Zone, I'm aware of where the split symbols are on most heirs and who their corresponding soul splitters are, but I know nothing about Nie Zun. Even Li Qing knows nothing about him.
"I'm aware of many things that others aren't privy to. Even if it was about the secretive Gaoqin Jiuye, I know many of his secrets. But for Nie Zun, I know nothing at all."
Li Wen leaned in closer. "Why do you have so many people protecting you?"
I might have said something in jest in the past, something like they probably thought I was kind and cute. But right now, I didn't have the mood to joke around. If Nie Zun wasn't mentioned, I could continue suppressing my worry for him.
But now, I couldn't do it anymore.