240 Underground Prison
Nie Zun answered while I was still wondering how to respond. "We had already been together once."
Turning red, I said, "There's no need to go around announcing this."
Nie Zun blinked at me in mock innocence, but I could tell he was teasing me with those eyes of his. "Did I say anything wrong? Weren't we together as lovers once?"
Gritting my teeth, I said, "I know what you're trying to get at. Just continue pretending like this."
Song Lu asked with genuine surprise, "You were together once? Why did you guys get separated then?" There was a hint of that adorable Song Lu of the past as she posed her question.
Well, there's no real need to hide this anyway. I thus answered without hesitation, "Because he lost his memories."
Song Lu looked shocked at this. She turned to Nie Zun. "You lost your memories? Do you still remember me then?" She even waved a hand in front of Nie Zun, as if he had turned blind.
Warmth emanated from my chest as I saw the kind Song Lu in this very moment.
Sometimes, pain can temporarily change a person, but it's difficult to erase somebody's personality entirely.
I didn't give Nie Zun a chance to answer this time. "He has already regained his memories, it's just that he's changed a lot. Probably because he ate something that was unclean." I was still upset at how cold he was acting towards me.
There seemed to be a hint of a smile on Song Lu's face, and I wasn't the only one who realized this. I could tell that she realized it too. Her face froze a little when she found herself talking to me just like in the past. She turned around and said, "We're arriving soon."
Shortly after, we arrived in a dungeon-like place at the end of the spiral staircase. There was a square room separated by iron bars on one side. This place did not look like a modern prison at all. It looked like a dungeon used in medieval times.
There were arms trapped in the iron shackles that were connected to the wall. The woman currently trapped in those shackles should be Jiao S, though I couldn't see her clearly from where I was.
She was seated leaning against the wall, dressed in white. Her head hung and she was completely still. I wanted to call out to her, but I hesitated, unsure if it really was her.
Song Lu kept quiet as she looked at me, as if waiting for my next move. Just as I was about to call out, the woman in the cell lifted her head slowly.
Rendered speechless, I covered my mouth in shock upon seeing her face. It was definitely Jiao S, but she had no eyes. Her eyeballs were replaced with two black holes, and those huge eyes of hers were gone.
The first time I saw those eyes, I was afraid, and I even hated them. But slowly, I found myself liking them. I couldn't believe that those emotionless eyes were nothing but two bloody holes now.
Pale, dry lips moved on a blood-streaked face. "Is it… Ah Shen?"
I couldn't bear it anymore as I heard her feeble voice. Rushing forward, I grabbed onto those iron bars. "It's me. What happened to you, Jiao S?"
Jiao S smiled. "I knew it was you."
I wasn't able to stay calm like her. I turned and stared at Song Lu. "What happened here? What did you do to her?"
Song Lu shrugged. "I don't know. I didn't do anything to her. I'm just in charge of keeping an eye on her. You should be asking her what happened instead."
At this moment, Nie Zun appeared right beside Song Lu. "Where's Jie Pa?"
Song Lu gave an enchanting smile. "Are you worried about that doctor of yours after seeing Li Shen's friend like this?"
Nie Zun smirked, and I saw him take his right hand out of his pocket. "I don't have much patience. You'd better give me an answer, or else I'll wreak this place."
Song Lu pointed at me. "I can only bring you to one individual at any one point of time. If she refuses to leave now, I can't bring you to Jie Pa. How about you ask her if she's willing to leave this place and go to Jie Pa with you?"
She was trying to drive a wedge between me and Nie Zun. She knew how important Jie Pa was to Nie Zun, and how important Jiao S was to me.
Nie Zun just glanced at me coldly without saying anything.
Turning back to face those iron bars, I poured MF into them as I took the opportunity to try and pry them open.
Jiao S spoke softly, "Ah Shen, don't do that. This is different from what we've seen before. Those bars have been enchanted, and MF is no use. It'll just be absorbed."
I did not want to give up just like this, but I felt a cold wind on my palms, evident of MF being sucked away. These iron bars felt like sponges absorbing my MF.
Defeat overwhelmed me. There was nothing I could do when my close friend was trapped in there.
As if she knew what went through my mind, Jiao S smiled and consoled me. "It's alright, Ah Shen, stop trying. I wouldn't be trapped here if I could have escaped earlier. The materials here are all specially-made, and it's like nothing I've ever seen before in the Eastern or Western Districts. You don't have to blame yourself."
Hearing this made me even more upset. I tried grabbing those iron bars again, but that feeling of my MF being sucked away made me let go of them immediately.
Song Lu said in a casual manner, "It's no use. MF does nothing to it."
I turned around to face her. "Then what do I have to do to save her? I'm sure you have a way."
Nie Zun was in front of those bars now as he tried touching them. He spoke calmly. "I think this can only be activated with a key."
Clap, clap, clap. Song Lu started clapping out of nowhere. "What great imagination. Even I might have been fooled."
Nie Zun continued, "You mean to say this gate isn't activated with a key? From the looks of it, I'm guessing you have the key, right?"
I stared at Song Lu.
Song Lu glanced at me before she smirked. "That's right. We do need a key to open this gate here. But you've only gotten half of it right. Du Yue is the only one who has the key to this gate."
Frowning, I asked, "Is there any other way to open it?"
Song Lu remained silent, but she turned to look at Nie Zun. I followed her gaze to see Nie Zun backing away a little before stretching out a palm towards those iron bars.
A rotting smell accompanied the black mist that emanated from his palm. The mist wrapped itself around the iron bars, but nothing happened. Nie Zun then said, "Seems like using the key is the only way."
Grabbing those the bars again, I tried using mere strength to pry them open this time.
"Do you think you're Popeye?" I heard Nie Zun's voice from above me. I met his eyes as I looked up, but this wasn't the time to be immersed in them.
"Help." I spoke curtly without much thought, and I didn't expect him to really help me out. To my surprise, he actually grabbed those bars and tried to pull them apart.
Jiao S then spoke in her hoarse voice. "Stop it, Ah Shen. I've tried everything."
Taking a deep breath, I tried to speak as calmly as I could. "Tell me, who did this to you? And why aren't you healing? Is it Du Yue?"
Instead of answering my questions, Jiao S said, "That's not important. Tell me who else is here, apart from you and Nie Zun."
"Song Lu," I answered softly.
Jiao S seemed to flinch a little at this.
"Was it… you who did this to her?"
Song Lu still had that enchanting smile on her face. "So what if I did?"