"You, you think of something…" I tried to move.
Gaoqin Jiuye let me go suddenly. "Since we can't use MF, let's try to move. At least we'll be able to warm ourselves up a little bit with some exercise…"
But we both knew this was not a long-term solution.
I tried to grab hold of the ice around me. The ice still shattered upon the slightest touch.
I then had an epiphany. I looked at Gaoqin Jiuye. "Remember how we solved the problem when we were in between the stone doors?"
Gaoqin Jiuye's eyes shone. "You mean we swim towards the bottom of the river?"
I nodded. "Though this has its risks, since we might end up frozen under the water, it beats just staying here and doing nothing."
Gaoqin Jiuye stretched out a hand towards me, and I hung onto that tiny bit of warmth from his palm. "Let's go together then."
Seeing his resolute gaze, we dived into the water hand in hand.
The water was extremely clear. We were swimming towards the bottom at an extremely slow pace, since we couldn't use our MF for now. I opened my eyes wide as I tried to take in everything that was in the water.
It was so cold that my eyeballs felt like they were frozen as soon as I opened my eyes. Though the water was clear, we were not able to see far. No matter how much MF I focused on my eyes, visibility remained the same.
We had been swimming for quite some time now, but there was nothing but white. As I looked up, I realized we were already quite a distance away from the surface.
My body was so rigid that it felt like ice now. Without that tiny bit of warmth from Gaoqin Jiuye's hand, I might even think that I was actually made of ice.
As time passed, I began to wonder if I was still swimming. I was beginning to lose all feeling in my body.
When it seemed like all was lost, a bright light appeared in front of us. Gaoqin Jiuye and I looked at each other, overjoyed at this. We swam towards that light with newfound motivation.
The light got brighter and brighter as we neared it. As we were finally surrounded by that light, my eyes seemed to be pierced through by it. I shut my eyes in pain, letting go of Gaoqin Jiuye's hand.
The bitter cold disappeared in an instant. Heat overcame me. I snapped my eyes open. Looking around, Gaoqin Jiuye and I had already surfaced.
Where is this place. We looked at each other, both lost.
This seemed to be a secret room. It was very wide, like an underground palace. We were standing in a squarish vat of water. But why was the water bubbling?
In the next second, I realized it was actually boiling!
"That's hot." Activating my MF, I leapt out of the water quickly. Gaoqin Jiuye had already jumped out before I did.
Gaoqin Jiuye and I ended up on opposite sides of the vat. I waved my arms around as I tried to cool them down. The water was so hot that my arms had already turned red.
More and more bubbles appeared in the water we just jumped out of. The water was boiling now…
"Where's this place?" Gaoqin Jiuye looked around with a frown.
The room looked like it was made of stone, as if it was created by digging into the ground. There was an upside down torch on the wall, giving this place an empty and mysterious vibe.
This stone room was extremely large. There were vats of different sizes, and some stone stairs. It looked like it was a connection of stone palaces.
"Let's go and take a look around." I waved to Gaoqin Jiuye.
"This demon cave is really weird. The scene changes so quickly, but there's no one to be seen here. Does such a cave only exist in the Gate of Ghost?" I asked as we started walking.
Gaoqin Jiuye shook his head. "If you're referring to demon caves, there's only one that's this mysterious in the Gate of Ghost. I'm not sure about the Gate of Heaven and the Gate of Exit, since I haven't been there for a long time."
"Right, why did you and Si Luo decide to leave the Gate of Heaven in the past?" I looked at Gaoqin Jiuye.
He pondered for a moment before speaking. "No particular reason. The world of soul splitters is a complicated one. It's more cut-throat than you think. Though I'm no saint myself, I'm sure you can see it too, that Si Luo is a rare breed. He's someone who has a sense of justice. He's an exception among the soul splitters."
With this, I think I would have understood Gaoqin Jiuye even if he didn't explain any further.
When someone is described as being the 'exception', it can mean only one of two things - that they are either adored or despised.
"Most soul splitters do not agree with Si Luo's views and his mindset, even when we were in the Gate of Heaven, where we tried to keep the peace as our way of life. Some things happened, and Si Luo left the Gate of Heaven. As for me, I left with him willingly."
"So, do you mean that most soul splitters in the Gate of Heaven can be considered kind? Are those in the Gate of Ghost evil then? But I don't find Satan Cang Ming that bad of a person. How about the Gate of Exit? What're they like?"
Gaoqin Jiuye looked into the distance. "In conclusion, the Gate of Heaven is a representation of justice in the world of soul splitters. The Gate of Ghost is a representation of evil, and the Gate of Exit, they can be considered neutral. But you know, it's always difficult to separate good and evil so clearly. To the soul splitters in the Gate of Heaven, the ones in the Gate of Ghost are evil. But to the ones in the Gate of Ghost, the Gate of Heaven is evil."
He heaved a sigh at this point. "It's difficult to decide what's good and what's evil. This is just a fight between different factions."
I became curious suddenly. "Then how did you guys get separated into these factions?"
Gaoqin Jiuye's eyes gleamed, but he did not respond. Seeing that he didn't want to continue, I didn't force him to answer either.
We walked up a flight of stone stairs to reach what was supposed to be a door, but there was no door to be seen in the stone doorframe. Looking at each other, we stepped through the frame. We were met with another flight of steps going downwards, leading us to another stone room. The room was incredibly spacious, and it was brightly lit with numerous upside down torches.
A stone platform was right in the middle of the room. The platform looked a like an altar, with a stone tablet on it.
A person was embedded in that stone tablet.
As I realized who it was, I ran over as quickly as I could, forgetting about Gaoqin Jiuye.
"Nie Zun…" I shouted as I activated my MF on both my eyes and my feet, trying to reach that stone tablet as quickly as I could while taking a clearer look to see if it really was Nie Zun.
Sadly, I could always recognize Nie Zun easily and there was no way I could've seen wrong.
The stone room was too huge. Only when I closed in did I realize the stone platform was an entire head taller than me. The stone tablet was right in the middle on top of the platform. The tablet was about three meters tall, and it had the width of about two persons standing shoulder to shoulder.
Nie Zun was embedded in that tablet. He no longer had those ugly scars on his face, and he was still dressed in black. His gloves were gone and his eyes were shut, looking like he was in a restful sleep.
There was a red mark in between his brows. Upon closer look, it resembled a flame.
I felt uneasy about this platform. I tried to leap up onto it, but something weird happened at this moment.
As I was about to touch the platform, it produced a light, and I seemed to have been bounced backwards by that light. The reflective force was very strong.
Gaoqin Jiuye managed to catch me as I fell, and we both tumbled on the ground. The light then slowly dissipated.
I shook my head. "Impossible. What's happening?"
I wanted to try again, but I was stopped by Gaoqin Jiuye. "Don't be too hasty. Let's take a look at the stone platform first."
I was afraid for Nie Zun as I wondered what that mark on his forehead meant. Though filled with worry, I still listened to Gaoqin Jiuye.
That light appeared once again as we touched the platform. Both Gaoqin Jiuye and I were forced to retreat with its force. We looked at each other, and Gaoqin Jiuye signaled for me to go over to the back to have a look.
It was about a five-meter walk to reach the back of the stone platform. The platform was a square, and it looked the same from both the front and the back.
We looked up at the back of the tablet. It was a bluish-gray, and we could not really tell what it was made of. A word was engraved in red on the back of that tablet. The word was huge and it was the height of a human being.
The word was…