242 Why Would You Be Responsible?
"You've always been like this, blaming yourself for everything. Think about it though, if you weren't here in the Split Zone, would we be free from this pain? Are you trying to make us owe you one by putting the responsibility all on yourself? Remember this, Li Shen, each individual is in charge of their own lives, and that has nothing to do with you at all. Similarly, there's no one who's responsible for your life."
Jiao S sounded serious, and that attitude of hers was apparent as she spoke.
I couldn't help but end up a little stunned at this.
She continued gently as I did not respond. "Ah Shen, there's something else you have to remember. No one has changed. It's difficult to change a person entirely. It's the same for Laurel and Song Lu. You think Laurel has changed, but didn't she still save you guys in the end? She saved us. You think Song Lu has changed, but she didn't imprison you the very moment she saw you, even when she definitely has the ability to do so.
"No one has changed. It's just circumstance that might be forcing them to act like somebody else, but they haven't really changed. They might have lost some things, causing a certain part of their personality to be more apparent. For example, they might become more cruel and ruthless. But there's always a limit to that. Everyone has a limit, and no matter how much they've exceeded it, that has nothing to do with you at all. You might be a tiny factor that caused it, but they will still be the one responsible for themselves."
For some reason, I calmed down after hearing her say this.
Jiao S sighed again. "I know that you've always been hiding ever since you've arrived in the Split Zone. You've been avoiding things, and that has caused you to lose many things. You blame yourself for it, and this is why you're forcing yourself to face everything head-on, to the point that you're trying to take responsibility for everything, even if it has nothing to do with you. But this isn't your life, it's ours. Why be so hard on yourself, Ah Shen?
"I understand that you want to help us, but that heart cannot come from guilt. It's no longer sincere if it's guilt that's driving you. It's because you're our friend that you want to save us and help us. It's because you treat us as your friends from the bottom of your heart that you're willing to do all this for us, not because you have to take responsibility for us. If you're trying to take the blame for everything, not only are you being way too hard on yourself, you'll end up pushing me away at the same time.
"Ah Shen, you're no longer alone now. You need to learn how to accommodate others and how to borrow their strength, the strength of your friends. You shouldn't be taking it all upon yourself, you get that?"
Learn how to accommodate others…
"Ah Shen, there's one thing you haven't gotten used to ever since arriving here in the Split Zone. You keep thinking that you're alone. You're no longer living in solitude like when you were alive. I've already realized that, so when will you be able to realize it too?" Jiao S choked a little on her words, and my tears just wouldn't stop.
She was right.
I was no longer alone. There were always people by my side through both the good and bad times, and we went through it all together. Why did I have to look at myself like a freak which would bring disaster to the rest? Why did I have to keep a distance from the others?
"Out of them all, Nie Zun was the only one who was able to enter your heart. You might not have realized this, have you?" Jiao S continued.
I wiped my tears as I said, "No, I'm clear about that. I've been together with him once."
Jiao S would definitely have looked at me with wide eyes if she still had her eyeballs. "What do you mean by 'been together once'?"
I answered simply, "That's in the past."
"Why did you break up?"
"Because he's being cold and distant to me all of a sudden. But I believe he has his reasons for doing so."
"Yes, there must be a reason behind it. To be honest, I used to envy you. I've heard a lot about you even before I met you. I envied you for the fact that Li Qing favored you, and I heard that there was always someone following behind you. I envied that too. Don't you understand, Li Shen? We're all lonely here, most of us who end up in the Split Zone are. But there have always been others by your side in this lonely place, and there are many who are willing to trust and protect you. You're definitely lucky."
Was I the only one who belittled your presence, Nie Zun?
Even though she couldn't see me, I nodded in response. "Yes, Nie Zun has always been by my side, and I've not been able to see that for the longest time. But it was already too late when I realized this. I refuse to fall in love with another, because I've caused the death of someone else before. But I can't let Nie Zun carry this burden from my past. He's lonely too, so what right do I have to force him like this?"
I looked at Jiao S as I continued. "You're right, my heart is too fragile. I've been looking at everything through distorted lenses. I have to make everything right, everything."
Jiao S nodded slowly. "It's good that you can look at things like this. Nie Zun isn't like the others, you aren't either. I'm sure of that. Nie Zun is different from everyone else here in the Split Zone. Though everyone is technically different, he makes a lasting impression. In the past, I thought he existed just to protect you, but that doesn't seem like the case now. He is his own person, and he doesn't exist for anybody else. But his heart belongs to you, and you should cherish and protect that."
I smiled as my tears dried up. "It's not only him that I have to protect. I have to protect you too, and many others. I'll not be taking everything upon myself this time, but I can at least protect you guys. This isn't something I feel responsible for, it's something that I want to do from the bottom of my heart."
Jiao S's lips then turned up at an angle.
"Right, can you tell me all that has happened after you ended up here?"
Jiao S's smile faded slowly as she answered, "I'm not sure about the others, since I ended up here alone. I was already in here when I woke up, and Du Yue was the one who gouged my eyes out. I don't know if there's anything else she used, since it's not healing."
"Have you lost the ability to regenerate?"
Jiao S shook her head. "No. I've tried it and realized that I could still regenerate. It's just that my eyes wouldn't. I find it weird though. According to Du Yue, she did this in order to target you. There could be something going on with those eyes, and it's possible that she's using it as bait to lure you over. You have to be careful. You can't be impulsive just because you want to get me out. We could lose everything with just one wrong move. Do you understand that?"
"I get that. But I don't understand what she can do to me with those eyes of yours. She went to the Gate of Ghost to look for me, and I've arrived here with that pill you gave me. She wouldn't have been able to anticipate all that had happened so far. She might not even know that I'm already here in the Palace of Cold Blood, so what else can she do with your eyes?"
"I don't know either. But are you sure you arrived here through that pill?" Jiao S asked suddenly.
"You mean I didn't?"
"Somebody has to create an enchantment over on this side for that pill to work. Tao Lie and Mu Li were the ones in charge of that pill I gave you. How would you be able to come here without either of them?"
"I've heard that they're both in the Palace of Cold Blood too. Du Yue said this to me personally."
Jiao S had a complicated expression on her face. "Actually, I've thought about this. Everyone in the Western District might have been brought here, and I ended up here because I passed out from using up too much of my MF during that fight with Du Yue and Ta Lai. This means that they haven't seen each other.
"But that doesn't sound right. If you arrived here with Tao Lie and Mu Li's help, you would have appeared right before me instead of ending up in some random corner inside the Palace of Cold Blood."
I nodded in agreement. "Yes, I find that fishy too. There's definitely something going on here. Are you able to use your MF now?"
Jiao S shook those iron shackles. "This restricts me from using it. Du Yue has the most amazing things."
"Have you seen any others apart from Du Yue and Song Lu?"
"No, I've been here all the while. The only person I've met is Song Lu. Though she does seem different from before, I believe that she has her reasons. I don't think she's being totally controlled by Du Yue. Du Yue should be well aware of this too.
"What's interesting is that Du Yue has been giving Song Lu more and more power and freedom, and it seems as if she wants to push Song Lu's boundaries by doing that. But Song Lu has never broken so far."
Song Lu jiejie… I knew she had always been intelligent, and she has always treated Yu Liang and me with nothing but sincerity.
"Ah Shen, there's something else you need to prepare yourself for. In order to get my eyes back, Song Lu might have to pay a price. I'm not sure what exactly that is, but I hope you're not too anxious about this, because I don't want to put you in a difficult position. I'll look into this and figure this out. Don't be impulsive for now."
Song Lu has to pay a price? What does that mean?
No, I should forget it. I'll believe Jiao S if she says she can figure this out.
I smiled at her. "Okay. I'll play by ear when Song Lu gets back. Don't worry, we'll definitely be able to turn the tables. There's nothing I fear with you and Nie Zun by my side."
Though I said this, I didn't feel confident at all. Nie Zun was ignoring me, and Jiao S was locked up.
They were literally just being 'by my side'.