184 Stuck Between the Stone Doors
That individual was Gaoqin Jiuye.
Gaoqin Jiuye was first surprised to see me, and he looked rather shocked as he realized that it was Li Wen beside me. Frowning, he asked, "Why're you here? And you've even gotten involved with her."
Right. Although 'gotten involved' did not sound too good, that phrase described this situation quite perfectly, since I couldn't really 'get involved' with her in reality. (T/n: The Chinese character used here for 'getting involved' is gao, which is usually used to describe the situation when a man and a woman 'get involved' with each other.)
I couldn't be bothered to answer Gaoqin Jiuye, and I asked him, "Why're you here then? I thought you had left much earlier to save them. It's already been a day now and you're still here? I think it took me only about an hour to arrive here from the entrance."
Gaoqin Jiuye sounded a little exasperated as he responded. "Please, that's because you took the path that I took earlier, of course it'll be quicker. You really think the cave was like this originally, that there was nothing on the way?"
What did that mean?
Seeing how confused I looked, he continued with his explanation. "This demonic cave is a restricted area in the Gate of Ghost, and it's called a restricted area because it has a preternatural structure that changes every few days. This is why everyone who has ever been here describes the place differently.
"What's amazing is that even those from the Gate of Ghost don't know anything about this demonic cave. What I've heard is that the cave had already existed even before the Gate of Ghost was created. Though everybody describes this place differently, the only common thing in their descriptions was that one shouldn't continue exploring the cave when you see the word 'demon', because all who continued never came out of the cave again.
"This is the legend of the demonic cave, and whatever path you took earlier was the exact same path I took. It probably didn't change since it's still within the day. When I entered, that path was full of monsters. I was the one who cleared them and you dare say I'm slow when all you've done is to enjoy the fruits of my labor."
Looking at Gaoqin Jiuye's annoyed face, I had to admit that I was too quick to judge this time.
I simply waved my hand at him. "Thanks for that. Did you just arrive here then? What's behind that stone door?"
Gaoqin Jiuye looked like he was about to punch me in the face. "I'm looking."
I then had an epiphany. "Oh… is it like that time in the Southern District? We melt a hole in the stone door?"
I decided to stop messing around with him. "What can you see?"
Gaoqin Jiuye shook his head. "I can't see anything… Wait. Why are you the one asking me questions now."
Gaoqin Jiuye glanced at Li Wen. "You haven't told me why you're here and why you're together with her."
Li Wen interrupted. "Gaoqin Jiuye, no need to be this surprised to see me. It's not like we don't know each other anyway."
Gaoqin Jiuye smirked. "I know you probably have something up your sleeve because I know you. Unlucky are the ones you approach."
Li Wen smiled warmly. "Don't be so unfriendly."
As if tired of speaking to her, Gaoqin Jiuye addressed me, "I'm asking you."
Hmm, it's a bit of a chore to explain this.
"Jiao S and I fought against Du Yue and Ta Lai after you left. In the end, Du Yue, Ta Lai and Bian Ying were all frozen in the river by Jiao S. Jiao S is also inside the river. Li Wen then appeared and took me away. We arrived here after that. Have I explained it clearly enough?"
Gaoqin Jiuye raised his brows. "Jiao S can freeze all of them? Is she that good?"
Li Wen pointed a slender finger at herself. "I accidentally helped her out, so she did it."
Gaoqin Jiuye's gaze was wintry. "What're you doing here in the Gate of Ghost?"
Li Wen walked towards Gaoqin Jiuye. "Don't be so fierce. Why? Afraid that I'm here for her? There shouldn't be anything that Gaoqin Jiuye fears, right? Haha. But then again, why can't I be here when you're here too?"
The 'her' that Li Wen was talking about seemed to refer to me.
"Gaoqin Jiuye, do you know that the Eastern, Western and Southern Districts have all been destroyed?"
Gaoqin Jiuye's eyes darkened. "Why ask when you should know that all soul splitters should be aware of this by now."
Li Wen laughed manically. "This is exactly the face I wanted to see. At that time, you and Si Luo abandoned the Gate of Heaven and left for the Southern District. It's been a hundred years and all that great effort spent to protect the Southern District has all come to naught. I had to see for myself how you'd react to the news, what you'd look like when you heard it."
There was a gleam in Gaoqin Jiuye's eyes. "You even have time to observe my reactions now? I guess Li Qing isn't giving you important tasks anymore." This seemed to be one of Li Wen's weaknesses. Li Wen looked incensed as she heard this.
I frowned inwardly. What did that mean? Li Wen was still working under Li Qing? How could that be? According to my deductions, shouldn't Li Qing be controlled by Li Wen even if she was still alive?
I didn't ask, since it wasn't important right now.
Li Wen answered coldly, "There'd not be many of us left in the Southern District if Si Luo doesn't come back. I'll see how long you can continue being like this."
A quick gleam shone in Li Wen's eyes, as if she suddenly thought of something. "Oh yes, I heard there were three individuals captured from the Southern District sometime earlier, and that they're here in the Gate of Ghost. One of them seems to be the great illusionist from your district. Your people have already been captured here by unknown forces, and you're not going to look for them, not going to investigate at all?"
Seems that Huan Qing and the rest had really been kidnapped. I grabbed Li Wen. "Where are those three now?"
Li Wen raised her brows. "Why? When did you start caring about the people from the Southern District? You really think you're the messiah now?" She whipped my hand away. Her mood had been absolutely spoiled by Gaoqin Jiuye's appearance.
Gaoqin Jiuye harrumphed. "No need for you to worry about things happening in our district. I don't care what your aim is here, but if you dare get involved in any of this, I'll make sure you pay with your life."
Li Wen wanted to argue, but I interrupted them loudly, "How long more do you guys want to argue? Are we going in or not? I'm not here to play with you guys like this."
To my surprise, the two of them stopped arguing after that. Gaoqin Jiuye turned back and continued creating a hole in the stone door.
"I can't create a hole on this stone door," Gaoqin Jiuye said with a frown.
"Then let's just break it open," I said.
Li Wen pointed to somewhere beside the door. "I don't think we need to use violence. Isn't there some sort of mechanism over on that side?"
Gaoqin Jiuye and I looked towards it. There it was. A primitive button made of stone was right beside the door.
I looked at Gaoqin Jiuye. "Wow. You didn't see that huge button there? And you're asking us to break it open. How violent and brainless of you."
Li Wen ignored the both of us and stepped up to push the button. There was a series of loud noises and the stone door started going up.
We were dealt another blow when it opened.
There was another stone door behind the original one. This stone door looked exactly the same, and the distance between the two doors was less than half a meter.
I deadpanned. You think you're Kakashi's mask? (T/n: Kakashi is a character in the Japanese animation series, Naruto. He always wears a mask that hides half of his face, and when it was finally taken off, another mask was revealed to be under the original mask.)
Gaoqin Jiuye was obviously surprised by this as well. He approached the new stone door and tried to create a hole on that door. "Hey, there can't be another stone door behind this one, I hope." I walked up behind him and slapped him gently on the shoulder.
I heard a loud crash even before I finished speaking.
Humans always have gut reactions to external stimuli, and I don't know why I didn't back away when I felt the stone door behind me coming down. Instead of backing away, I stepped forward and ended up sticking to Gaoqin Jiuye's back.
I automatically leaned in closer to Gaoqin Jiuye when the stone door came down behind us so suddenly. The space between these doors was extremely small. Gaoqin Jiuye was initially bent at the waist, but now, he was almost flat against the door in front of us while I leaned flat against his back.
"Hey hey hey, what do you think you're doing," Gaoqin Jiuye said in an irritated manner with both arms lifted as if he was surrendering.
I couldn't do anything but continue to lean flat against his back. "I couldn't do anything. The stone door just came down behind us so suddenly. We're both stuck in this space now."
"What. We actually managed to get stuck in this tiny space between these doors here…"
I felt the cold stone door press against my back. It was so cold that I tried my best to lean into Gaoqin Jiuye. I was almost sticking to him. "You think I want this to happen… there's no choice since it's so tiny here."
Gaoqin Jiuye was speechless.
I heard Li Wen's voice from behind the door. "Hey, are the both of you okay?"
I wanted to roll my eyes. But the air here was suffocating, and I didn't have the extra energy for an eye-roll. I answered as loudly as I could, "Yes, we're fine. Why didn't you tell us when the door was coming down?"
"The door came down too quickly, I didn't have the time to say anything."
I rolled my eyes this time. "Break it open quickly then."
Gaoqin Jiuye said, "Hey, we'd get hurt if it breaks open. We're so close to it now."
"You're scared it'd hurt?" I asked immediately.
Nothing but silence followed as we heard the sound of sword against stone.
I couldn't hear Li Wen no matter how hard I tried.
"Hey, Li Wen. You done?"
Li Wen's voice sounded from behind. "This door… It can absorb MF… It absorbs any force used against it."