183 Demon Cave in the Mountains
"Even though Nie Zun isn't beside you now, I'd still think of him when torturing you. He's just like this weird presence that seems to follow you around. Just how horrifying is that."
This conversation is getting too long. I was beginning to tire and I didn't want to continue anymore.
I finally spoke. "You won't be able to force her out of me this way. You might be scaring her away like this. I'll admit that I did want to know more about whatever you told me about, but don't try to use that to force me to do anything. You could've chosen to keep quiet, since I would've found out about these things sooner or later. As for Nie Zun, do you really think you can uncover his secrets even when I can't explain his existence?"
I made it clear that I was the main character here, especially on things that had to do with Nie Zun. No need for you to worry, Li Wen. I don't know everything about Nie Zun either, so who are you to try and find out more about him.
Li Wen smiled as I spoke. Her smile looked stiff and it didn't look like it belonged to a victor. "I didn't think that you'd actually speak because of him."
"No, you're wrong. I didn't speak because of him. I spoke because I didn't want to continue wasting time on this with you."
Actually, you were right.
But I would never admit that.
Li Wen sighed. "Fine. You're right too, I was thinking about the aim of this meditation just when you spoke earlier. Maybe my real aim was to actually talk to you about these things."
"No," I disagreed immediately. "Meditation is effective. It helps train my endurance. I've also learnt how to better control and manipulate my MF in the process of trying to balance all the MF in my body while keeping still."
"You'll have to thank me for this then."
I smirked. "You're thinking too much."
Li Wen looked at me, and she finally said, "Continue sitting then. It has only been five hours."
Is Li Wen muddled?
Why continue sitting…
I moved stiffly. "I'll tell you the truth, this won't work. Ta Lai and Si Luo had both tried to force her out by reaching into my consciousness, and neither of them succeeded. I actually want to meet her as well, so why not we use my method? I'll work with you since we have the same goal."
Doubt appeared in Li Wen's eyes.
I scoffed, "I know my obedience must be suspicious to you, but you should know me well. Since I want to meet her too, I'll work with you on this. I don't think you have the ability to control her, so I'm willing to bet on this. You've always been confident of your abilities, so you're not afraid now, are you?"
Li Wen thought for a moment. "What do you plan to do?"
I stretched my neck. "It's simple. Bring me to that cave they were talking about to look for Nie Zun."
"Look for Nie Zun?"
I nodded. "Yes, you've witnessed it earlier, that Nie Zun is my only weakness. So how about we find this weakness in order to force her out of me. You would know this right, considering how well your information network is. I activated my split symbol because I wanted to protect Nie Zun. If you can bring me to Nie Zun, you'd be able to use my weakness. You'd definitely be able to see her then."
Li Wen frowned a little. "But you have to know that if we look for Nie Zun, I might attack him to force your second personality out. You'd still want me to do it in that case?"
I answered her in a calm and composed tone, "Frankly, I don't think you have the ability to threaten me with Nie Zun. You said it yourself, that you can't see through Nie Zun's abilities. So I think you wouldn't be able to make use of him even if we could find him."
Li Wen found this funny. "Then why should I agree with you if that's the case?"
I looked her in the eye. "Because you're Li Wen. Li Wen is confident and proud. No matter what I've said, you'd still think that you can use Nie Zun to threaten me. You'd definitely give it a try since you've finally found my weakness."
Li Wen had an inscrutable gaze.
We continued looking at each other for a long time before she finally broke into a smile. "Fine, I'll bring you to that cave. But I'll tell you this first. Even I don't dare to explore too deeply, and I don't know if they were able to survive in there. What I can do is to take you there. If we aren't able to find them before we reach the restricted area in the cave, I'm not following you in any further. At that point, I want you to return with me."
My body was finally less rigid now. I stood up and adjusted my dress. "Let's go then."
A dense forest was right outside the cave. The trees and flowers were all identical to what we would see in the real world, and there were even clear springs to be seen here. As I walked, I began to wonder just what kind of a place the Northern District was.
Li Wen did not talk much, probably because she had already spoke a lot earlier, and she no longer wanted to talk to me about anything else.
Though there was sunlight on the ground, both Li Wen and I did not have any shadows.
Imitations can never be the real deal.
"We'll see the entrance of the cave after we pass those trees up front," Li Wen said as she pointed in front of her.
"Why is everything so similar to the real world here?" I asked.
"Everything here is an imitation of the real world. These were created by the soul splitters based on your world." Li Wen gave a mysterious smile.
"What?" I frowned.
Li Wen shrugged. "I have no interest in revealing the secrets of soul splitters to you right now, but I just might do it one day when I'm in a better mood. Anyway, there's no need for you to be surprised if you see anything here that's similar to the real world. You just have to remember that everything in the Northern District is created through MF. Put simply, whatever you can think of can be manifested in the Northern District, since these things are all created through imagination. The only criterion is whether you have the MF to be able to create something."
I remained silent. There was no use in asking further questions since no one wanted to reveal any secrets regarding the soul splitters. I'll take whatever comes my way. I was just a little unaccustomed to these realistic scenes, probably because I've stayed in the world of heirs for too long.
"There, it's that cave."
I looked in the direction in which Li Wen pointed. The dark entrance of the cave was at the foot of a mountain.
From here, the cave looked like a normal one, and you couldn't tell that there was anything special about it. There were also no signs with words like 'Water Curtain Cave' or 'Cave of Demons' on it. (T/n: 'Water Curtain Cave' is the home of the Monkey King in the Chinese epic, Journey to the West.)
There was nothing but a giant mushroom in front of the cave.
That giant mushroom was the height of about two human beings, but apart from that, it looked like any other ordinary mushroom. It was so huge the sunlight was completely blocked as we went under it, like an enormous umbrella.
It was a colorful mushroom that looked extremely beautiful.
But I know that beautiful things were usually poisonous.
Li Wen and I passed the mushroom and entered the cave.
Looking inside, it was pitch black.
"Let's go. It's right here." Though Li Wen was pointing at the entrance, she did not move.
I knew she was waiting for me to make the first move. But I hesitated as well.
I had an ominous feeling about this cave. There'd usually be the sound of wind blowing when we stood at the entrance of caves, but there was nothing but silence here.
There was only darkness, and silence. It was a terrifying silence.
Taking a deep breath, I stepped into the cave. I had to find Nie Zun no matter what.
I focused some MF onto my eyes when entering, trying to widen my field of vision. I realized that the Northern District was extremely different from the other districts. Even though it was pitch black, visibility could be greatly increased through MF.
This cave was very different. It was unlike any in the real world. Its walls were lined with moss and countless stalactites hung from its ceiling. The cave was rectangular inside, forming a straight path of well-chiseled stone walls.
No matter how much MF I focused on my eyes, there was only darkness in front of me. It was a path that seemed to be never-ending. Li Wen and I continued walking like this for a long time before we were met with a fork in the road.
The path was neatly divided into two by the fork.
"Where should we go?" I asked.
Li Wen shook her head. "I don't know. I've never been to the Gate of Ghost before this, so I wouldn't know the way in this cave either."
"I hope that restricted area isn't right after this fork in the road."
"No. I know that there's the word 'demon' in that area. If we want to stay alive, we shouldn't explore any deeper when we see that word. I don't know anything more than that since I'm not from the Gate of Ghost. So, you choose where to go."
I thought for a moment before I chose to continue on the path that was on my left.
That's because I know that Nie Zun would choose this path.
The path became infinitely narrower after that fork. If we walk shoulder to shoulder in a row, this path could only hold about five individuals. The ceiling became lower and lower as we went deeper.
"What kind of demonic cave is this, there isn't a single soul to be found here," I complained.
"There's a door in front." Li Wen pointed at somewhere in front of us.
Taking a closer look, I realized there was a stone door.
What. Why were there stone doors everywhere? Were there also wooden barrels and a breeding ground for poisonous leeches here?
Li Wen and I realized very quickly that there was someone else there. In front of that stone door, there was someone bent at the waist, looking inside. We weren't able to recognize that person immediately since we couldn't see the individual's face. However, that individual turned around as Li Wen and I closed in.