198 It's Not Time Yet
I realized quickly that I was over-confident this time.
It was difficult for me to hide my surprise when I saw how the Northern District really looked like.
When we passed through the forest with Du Yue, I was met with my world.
Tall buildings, the streets and crowds - this was exactly like the real world. Li Wen was right. It was difficult for an heir who lived in the Western District not to show any signs of surprise when suddenly immersed in such an environment.
No matter how much I tried to suppress how I felt, this looked exactly identical to the real world. Was it that difficult to get used to? Don't look surprised, don't look surprised… I couldn't help myself and as I took a look around, I got a greater shock instead.
It was extremely weird here. There would be a tiny old house right beside a shiny and tall new building. The roads were very wide and there were very few vehicles around. There were various makes and models of vehicles, both modern ones and vintage cars were around.
The people here looked similar to those in the real world, except they were dressed in garb from different eras.
The best way I can describe this would be that there was an impression that space and time were confused here in the Northern District. It was as if things from different time periods and eras were all combined together in a painting right here.
Li Wen said softly to me, "I told you that you'd be shocked, right?"
I calmed myself down before I asked, "What's going on here?"
Li Wen laughed, as if she was filled with joy at my confusion. "If I tell, that would be the equivalent of giving away the secret of the Split Zone. You can try guessing. You should be able to find out with this many clues right in front of you."
Are you saying that I'm stupid?
I felt a familiarity when she laughed just now. It was just like when we were still on good terms. She was always like this. She looked gentle and soft on the outside, but she was in fact very gutsy and mischievous.
I wasn't aware of this at that time, that she also had a twisted, ruthless and cruel heart behind that mischievous demeanor.
A tiny seed of sorrow seemed to sprout in me. What was it that changed us?
Was it… solitude?
Li Wen seemed to be able to sense my emotions. She was always this perceptive. "What're you worried about? Worried about Nie Zun?"
Yes, there's still Nie Zun.
"Can you tell me more about that king in the Gate of Ghost?" I looked at Li Wen.
Li Wen smiled. "He has been in love with Li Qing for the longest time. The three Gates didn't exist in the Northern District in the past, but Li Qing parted with him because she didn't agree with his views and mindset regarding bodies of consciousness. The both of them ended up like this eventually, one of them the king in the Gate of Ghost, the other…"
Li Wen turned pale and stopped speaking, as if suddenly realizing that there was something she shouldn't have revealed.
I tried to lessen her guilt by asking, "So do all the soul splitters in the Gate of Ghost have extraordinary abilities?"
I knew I wouldn't get any information out of Li Wen if I continued with my previous question. In this case, it'd be better for me to change the subject to diminish any doubt she might have.
As expected, Li Wen looked much more relaxed at this. "Of course not. No matter where we are, people will always be categorized in this world. It's even more apparent here in the Split Zone. Most soul splitters have a slightly higher MF than their corresponding heirs, and one of the reasons for that is to prevent the heirs from undoing their split symbol contracts easily. Their MF is usually higher by about five."
Prevent heirs from undoing split symbol contracts easily.
Are you kidding me? I'm living with my life on the line even as the Western District Commander. Even if you soul splitters have zero MF, you wouldn't be at risk of losing your lives as long as you don't leave the Northern District.
If that's the case, wouldn't soul splitters be considered immortal as long as they don't leave the Northern District ever?
Would this mean that there'll only be more soul splitters and no decrease in their numbers here? How would their numbers increase then?
Just what exactly are soul splitters… Was it because of this that drove them to find methods to kill each other?
Well, seems like it's difficult for them to enter and leave the Northern District and travel in and out of the other districts. If that wasn't the case, my life in the Western District would probably not have been that peaceful.
Seeing me silent, Li Wen continued. "There's actually nothing you need to worry about. To be frank, heirs live like insects here in the Split Zone. Du Yue's right. No matter how much you worry, there're only two possibilities in the end. One of them is dying here, and the other is to return to your world. If your goal is to change this place, then I can only say that it's the equivalent to dreaming of being a superhuman in the real world."
"I've never thought of saving others. I only want to save my friends and return them their peaceful lives. In fact, I haven't really thought about whether I want to leave the Split Zone," I said softly.
Li Wen said, "Then why do you always look like you want to save the world? I hate that expression of yours, it makes me jealous."
I finally stopped looking around me. My gaze landed on Li Wen.
Li Wen's eyes shone, her lips upturned in a smile.
"Don't you think you've already said too much?" Gaoqin Jiuye turned around to face us, hands in his pockets.
Li Wen raised both her arms. "Fine fine fine. I shan't say any more since Gaoqin doesn't want me to. I'll return her to you, alright?" Her words were laced with sarcasm.
Li Wen skipped a few steps ahead, her pale yellow dress billowing in front of me. In a second, she was already way ahead of us.
Du Yue seemed to stop momentarily as she sensed that Gaoqin Jiuye stopped moving. But it lasted only for a split second. She continued walking after that.
I sped up and caught up with Gaoqin Jiuye. "We're still partners, right?" I glanced at him, speaking softly since I was unsure if Du Yue and Li Wen can hear us.
Gaoqin Jiuye did not meet my eyes. He simply continued walking forward. "Have you forgotten that you left Si Luo with the enemy? Who'd dare partner up with you?"
Gaoqin Jiuye looked at me with a funny stare. He must be wondering why I was laughing when he made it so clear that he wasn't on the same team with me.
I knew him well enough now. If he said this, it means he still sees me as being on the same team. Though the word 'partners' might not be the most accurate, it described our current relationship best.
"You must be thinking of looking for Nie Zun as we're on the way, right?" Gaoqin Jiuye spoke in such a low tone that I had to focus MF on my ears to be able to hear him.
I was a little surprised as I realized what he said. Could he read my mind?
Seeing that I didn't deny it, he continued, "Western District Commander is really quite the loyal individual, unwilling to give up on either friend or lover."
I raised a brow. "Are you jealous?"
"Why should I be jealous?"
Giving him a sideways glance, I asked, "Didn't you confess to me earlier?"
Gaoqin Jiuye spoke without hesitation, "Yes, but you've seen it too. I'm merely using you as a shield in front of her." He pointed his chin towards Du Yue who was in front.
The smile on my face froze. I then said, "I think the word 'loyal' would describe you better…" This word was usually used as a compliment, but between us, it became a weapon of sarcasm.
Gaoqin Jiuye accepted my 'compliment' rather graciously. "I've always been loyal."
I turned serious. "There's something I always wanted to ask you."
Gaoqin Jiuye reverted to that cold expression as he sensed that I was about to ask a serious question. "Go ahead."
I looked him in the eye. "Li Wen told me that you've always known about my existence. I'm talking about when I was still alive. You know everything about me, including those memories I've lost. What's more interesting is that she said you were actually the person I liked, that it wasn't Gao Qi. What did she mean by that?"
Gaoqin Jiuye's eyes shone, hiding his emotions in them. "You believe her?"
"I wouldn't believe her in the past. But we've known each other for quite some time now, and I feel that you might have known me. You were pretending from the very first day we met. You're aware of so many secrets that I'm not aware of, but you just won't reveal them to me."
Gaoqin Jiuye laughed. It was not his usual cold laughter, it was a laughter that seemed to be full of solitude. "Why don't you believe me when I tell you I like you, but you choose to believe her words? You didn't believe it either when I said I know you better than you know yourself. Li Shen, you're always trusting the wrong people. You're missing out on those you should trust."
My brows furrowed. "Is that a denial?"
Gaoqin Jiuye raised a hand to his face. The artificial sun in the sky shone on him, but it could not shine upon that darkness within his eyes.
He regained that usual malice in his voice. "Try to stay alive for now. Only those alive have the right to know the truth. I'll tell you everything when it's time." He continued walking forward after that.
You'll tell me everything when it's time? When would it be time? I looked at Scorpion Ray on my wrist. It seemed to be able to sense my emotions as it glowed faintly.
I caught up with Gaoqin Jiuye quickly. As I reached him, I said casually, "You seem to have forgotten to ask Du Yue where Guan Nie went."