187 Who Are You
Gaoqin Jiuye looked quite perturbed.
I looked at Gaoqin Jiuye blankly. "I thought we shouldn't explore further when we see the word 'demon', but there doesn't seem to be anywhere else around here that we can explore, is there?"
Gaoqin Jiuye lowered his head in thought. "Maybe the word is here to warn us not to go too close to this platform."
I was slightly agitated at this. "Then how about Nie Zun? Why is he there? What'll happen to him…"
Gaoqin Jiuye shook his head. "I don't know either. I really don't."
I ignored him and walked back to the front of the platform.
Gaoqin Jiuye followed closely behind. "What're you doing? Li Shen, we should think about this first. We don't have any idea what's going on here. Have you forgotten that stone door and the river? They all absorb MF. It's dangerous here. Can you please just calm down?"
Calm down? I can only do that if it doesn't involve Nie Zun. I did not respond.
I pulled my arm away when he grabbed it. "Li Shen," Gaoqin Jiuye shouted at me loudly.
I stopped in my tracks, not turning around.
"Li Shen, do you like Nie Zun?" Gaoqin Jiuye asked suddenly.
I remained silent, continuing on my path after a couple of seconds.
"Li Shen." He called out again.
I did not turn.
"Isn't Gao Qi the only one you love?
"Why did you betray him if he was the only one you loved?"
I shut my eyes.
I turned around as I opened them, rushing towards Gaoqin Jiuye as I did so.
I looked straight into his eyes. "When have I betrayed Gao Qi? How I wish I did betray him, since that's far better than killing him. He'd leave me forever if I killed him, so I'd rather everyone hate me for betraying him. Why do you keep asking me this? Yes, I love him, so what? I still ended up killing him in the end."
My eyes were turning red. "I caused his death.
"Why are all of you forcing me? I didn't want to be District Commander, I didn't want to lose Li Qing, I didn't want to leave this place, I don't want to see the people around me die because of me. Why are all of you forcing me…
"I just have an extra personality, where did I go wrong? Why did I have to be ostracized… Why must I become a weapon in the war amongst soul splitters just because I have a second personality…"
I stared at him with angry tears. "What did I do wrong? Why do you have to keep mentioning Gao Qi… Do you think I'm happy to see someone who looks exactly like him…"
I realized I was a little too emotional at this point.
Gaoqin Jiuye's eyes darkened.
I looked away after taking a few breaths. "Sorry, I was too carried away."
I wiped my tears away as I turned around, making my way towards the platform once again. "Gaoqin Jiuye, Nie Zun had been by my side for two whole years. I've lost too many people, and I don't want to lose any more of them."
I stopped. "You Ji is dead, killed by Du Yue. Yuan Shen is also dead. You might not know him though. He's a friend of mine from the Western District.
"I don't want to lose anyone else."
When I reached the platform this time, I scrutinized it very closely. Gaoqin Jiuye was right. I had to stay calm. A solution can only be found when we look at it with a clear head.
Gaoqin Jiuye walked up to me while I tried to think of a solution. "I shouldn't have said all that," he said softly.
I kept quiet. He looked up at Nie Zun, and laughed in self-mockery. "I don't know what's gotten over me at times. When I'm with you, I'm just like a child who didn't get his candy. You can just treat me like I've gone insane."
My heart hurt a little at this.
"Right now, let's think of a way to save him." Gaoqin Jiuye pointed at Nie Zun.
I looked around the place. "Did you see any exits when we walked in from the previous stone room?" There was nothing else except for stairs, vats of boiling water, torches, and this huge platform in the middle.
Gaoqin Jiuye pondered for a moment. "No, I'm sure of it. Even though both rooms are similar, there's nothing like a door here. This place is probably sealed."
I frowned. How did Nie Zun get in here?
"I know you must be wondering how Nie Zun ended up here. Don't forget that we leapt out of almost boiling water earlier. This is the demon cave, weird things happen here, so it's not that surprising that he's here too.
"I wonder where Si Luo, Cang Ming and Guan Nie are…"
"Oh." I turned to face him. "Weren't you together with them earlier? Why did you guys get separated?"
"We arrived at the entrance of this cave and Cang Ming didn't want me following them. But I heard Cang Ming's voice shortly after they entered, saying that they fell into Du Yue's trap. He then asked me to return to help Bian Ying out, afraid that Du Yue would hurt her."
So it's like this… That made sense. According to Du Yue, she set up an illusion in the cave, so Cang Ming and the rest might have lost their way within the illusion. Since the structure of this cave changes daily, we didn't take the same path as Cang Ming and the rest.
However, we'll probably end up at the same destination, because we'd see the word 'demon' at the end.
But if Du Yue trapped them in an illusion, would they still be able to arrive here?
Maybe Du Yue's aim wasn't to hurt them but to stall them, so that they couldn't return to me and Bian Ying so quickly. Or maybe it just so happened that Cang Ming and the rest weren't able to go too deeply into the cave because of Du Yue's illusions. But it was different for Nie Zun.
I don't know about the others, but I knew it was difficult to trap Nie Zun with an illusion.
I've realized this much earlier, and it was proven time and again when he tried to bring me out of an illusion. He had some sort of immunity to illusions since he had that pupil technique of his. He used his eyes for that, and since illusions are formed through the eyes, it was difficult to control Nie Zun through his eyes. It might have been because of this that Nie Zun arrived here on his own.
But why was he trapped on the platform?
"How about this," I said to Gaoqin Jiuye. "I'll use Piercer and you use Shen Qi. Let's see if it does anything to the platform."
Gaoqin Jiuye whipped Shen Qi out. "Got it."
As I took Piercer in my hand, I suddenly felt touched by Gaoqin Jiuye's actions. I had to admit that I thought he did not have a heart. He was still pretty cold and emotionless, and he'd still choose Si Luo above everything else. I could understand this, but I just thought that he should have been an extremely selfish individual, since he only cared about that one person alone.
I'd think it normal if he did, but I realized he seemed a little different when it came to me. It was not gratitude, but I was still a little touched by what he did. He whipped Shen Qi out without the slightest bit of hesitation just because I suggested it. It just didn't seem like something he would have done.
"Why're you blanking out? Let's attack this platform together. You want to continue staying in here? I don't want to be trapped here." Gaoqin Jiuye waved a hand in front of me. I take back my words about him.
We lifted our weapons. Lift, whip. Lift, slash. Two rays of blinding light raced towards the platform.
The platform produced a dazzling light. Three sources of light seemed to congregate for a second before everything disappeared. Though the force wasn't reflected, it did not seem to have any effect on that platform either.
I was a little deflated at this. "No change at all."
Gaoqin Jiuye said seriously, "That's funny. The force should've been reflected by the platform just like earlier. The only difference now is that we're using living weapons instead of plain MF. Why did it get cancelled out instead of being reflected this time?"
That's right, it was a little different compared to before.
"Shall we try again?" I asked Gaoqin Jiuye.
He thought for a bit before shaking his head. "I'm trying to figure out why this happened. Have you noticed that the light produced by the platform was a little different this time? The light wasn't this bright earlier, and it didn't feel so… alive."
"What do you mean by alive?" I asked, confused.
Gaoqin Jiuye looked serious. "Before, it felt like it was some sort of reflective force, like the platform had a reflective screen. It did not have any attacking prowess, and it felt like a mere defense mechanism. But just now, it felt like more than just a defense mechanism at play. It felt like it was some kind of force belonging to a living person."
Force belonging to a living person? Was there someone else here? I suddenly thought Gaoqin Jiuye made a lot of sense. I started looking around again. No one was in sight.
As my eyes landed on Nie Zun, I realized who this 'someone else' was.
Nie Zun, asleep earlier, had his eyes open now. The mark resembling a flame in the middle of his brows was glowing bright red.