He lived like a zombie.
He hadn’t had a good sleep within these 20 years. The life, lived on the blood and meat of his close friend who went through fire and water with him, was saddled with heavy shackles from the very beginning.
He couldn’t eat any kind of meat those years. He even forced himself to swallow but as soon as it entered into his mouth, his instinct defeated his will, refusing any meat.
As long as he tasted the meat, he couldn’t help remembering that night 20 years ago.
Gao Rui was by his side.
He cut down his body… due to the starvation.
When a human falls into the depths of despair, they will only be ordered about by their instinct.
"I… can never forget it."
Professor Qin Fang lost his soul, looking as if he had aged 10 more years again.
He gazed at the trembling hands, "I held Gao Rui’s blood and drank it. I was too hungry, I had no idea, I told myself this… while looking at Gao Rui’s eyes, I knew he didn’t die… He stared at me… unable to speak. But I knew, he must be asking me, swearing, cursing, and hating me… whereas, I was still drinking and biting… I abandoned everything belonging to me and became a wild beast that even myself loathed!"
"I became a wild animal! Without humanity! An animal that even ate my own brother’s blood and meat!!"
Due to the strong emotions, Professor Qin Fang started to cough blood. With those abnormally strong emotions and sad self-accusations, he fell down.
Moods of the only several audiences were different, who heard the professor’s secrets that were hidden in his heart for 20 years.
Zhang Qingrui now showed a natural face, it seemed the professor’s confession had no influence on her.
"He’s also a pitiful guy."
Cai Wenji’s faint voice broke the silence.
You Ye then walked to the professor and check, raising her head, "He probably became over agitated and fainted. Do I have to wake him up?"
Luo Qiu shook his head, "No, let him wake up naturally. He spent everything he had to speak out these words he hid for 20 years."
"What Mr. Qin needs, is not our tolerance," Cai Wenji said faintly.
Luo Qiu asked curiously, "I’m curious as to why you know the matter that happened to the professor that year? You said you were trapped in the stone coffin."
Cai Wenji said, "Though concubine couldn’t leave the rock coffin, the tomb concubine was buried in was part of that array. With the help of the array that absorbed energy from 4 directions, concubine was able to sense part area surrounded."
"Really…" Luo Qiu nodded, standing up and saying, "You should know how to get back to your tomb from here right? After you find it, I’ll send you to your husband’s tomb."
Cai Wenji was waiting for this opportunity, now she made a deep bow, "Thanks for your kindness."
Not long after, following the lead of Cai Wenji, Luo Qiu easily found the tomb she stayed previously.
As the professor had said, this tomb chamber had been affected by the explosion 2 decades ago. It was pressured by the upper layer. However, no matter how many things collapsed, it probably wouldn’t change much of what was beneath.
Luo Qiu asked then, "Which direction?"
Cai Wenji stretched out her hand… bones to point, "It should be above the chamber of the four tombs."
Luo Qiu nodded. He walked to the wall and touched it, activating his ability ‘mind’s eye’. Soon, his vision viewed all space of this tomb chamber.
Suddenly, Luo Qiu withdrew his hand and turned about, "This layer might not be the fallen one; instead, it is the third floor under it. The collapsed part even shattered the second layer."
"Then… Do you mean there’s no way to find Gao Rui’s body?" Zhang Qingrui showed disappointment.
"It’s not necessarily so."
You Ye said softly, walking to the center of this tomb chamber. She squatted and pressed the flagstone by her hands, "Master, please be careful."
After saying the words, You Ye increased her strength slightly, pushing against the floor.
As if nothing happened, merely pressing the floor gently.
Yet, in an instant, a slight cracking sound was heard… At this moment, with the servant girl as the center, the floor of the chamber crumbled at a terrifying speed!
Before Zhang Qingrui could react, she felt her body losing all the weight, falling down along with broken rocks!
Nevertheless, she felt something holding up her body.
The chamber started to fall. Soon, everyone fell down into a seemingly cyan world! It was not a complicated maze like the two upper layers. There were only vast columns that were propping up the whole underground palace of the third layer!
Here, one could see dead bodies lying in different postures everywhere! Heaps of bones made it seem like a sea of bones!
Some of them were even shattered!
A cyan light source came from the inside of those heavy columns, which lighted up the third-layer underground palace.
Luo Qiu looked up, estimating the place where they were, before starting to look with his mind’s eyes… This place was quite gloomy and cold, like the city of ghosts.
Zhang Qingrui’s body quivered, she dared not to move her foot at all. Now, probably due to the loud noise from the falling stones, Professor Qin gave several hacking coughs, waking up gradually.
Professor Qin Fang looked around, but his view focused onto something abruptly.
He gave several hacking coughs again, then his weak body started to crawl on the ground. He swept off those bones in front, clearing the way has he crawled.
Finally, he stopped… in front of a dead body.
Probably due to the extreme cold, the dead bodies turned stiff, instead of decaying.
This dead body should have struck a column when it fell, hence it was now in a sitting posture with its head lowered.
Yet, Luo Qiu and others could still obviously see the bones and traces of being bitten, from the arms, neck, even the torn parts of its clothes…
Qin Fang’s hands trembled, without saying anything else. It was as if he used up all his strength. He then slowly adjusted the dead body.
"Gao Rui… Old Qin, I finally found you… I came to see you."
Qin Fang’s quivering hands touched the face of his brother, holding it in a daze, "I know you have been waiting for me. During these 20 years, I know, I can hear it every night. That monster that was eating your meat and drinking your blood. Yet, you didn’t say anything. However, I can hear, that you must be cursing me virulently time and time again. I know that…"
Qin Fang started to tidy Gao Rui’s clothes while saying in a hoarse voice, "I heard a sound that day, then found that Niu Zi and others didn’t die and were instead staying nearby. I dared not bring you out. I wiped away the blood on my lips, rolling on the floor to let the soil cover the traces on my body. That time fear and self-accusation overcame my conscience. I didn’t know how to face Niu Zi and others, and your wife."
Qin Fang suddenly had a sad smile, "When I left, I didn’t dare to take a glance at you. Because when I saw you, it was like seeing myself, the one who lost the humanity on you."
He took a long sigh. "I was asking myself all these years, why did we dig out the tomb for originally? We comforted ourselves by all sorts of excuses, but they were all self-deceptions. Actually we did it for money, but why do we desire money for? Of course for our lives. We were greedy for everything and came to this fate. I’m the only person alive, but I asked myself, am I still alive?"
Qin Fang started to clear up Gao Rui’s messy hair, "Don’t worry, I’ve raised your kid, Chuyu. She’s fine now, don’t worry. I’ve written my will before this year, everything of mine will be transferred to her… And your wife has been buried in the backyard of your house in your hometown. I’ll build a grave for you beside her."
Qin Fang fell silent suddenly. A moment later, he said, "But now I know, I dare not to bring you back. I’m ashamed to bring such a fragmented body back home."
Suddenly, Qin Fang drew out a bright dagger from his boot, saying softly, "So, at least I have to mend the parts you lost, and then bring you back… Gao Rui, can I give the part I ate back to you?"
He cut down his other arm forcibly with the dagger, cutting apart his skin and meat, deeply to the bone before dragging it.
With a screech, he pulled out fresh red meat from his arm.
"This is the first bite."
He didn’t stop, instead, drawing out the dagger, and having another cut towards his arm!
One cut, after another.
It was the third cut.
Watching such a horrifying spectacle, Zhang Qingrui wanted to go to stop him, but was pulled back by Luo Qiu at her arm.
"It’s… so cruel. It’s not necessary to…"
Luo Qiu shook his head. "The professor has started to find the thing he lost, are you going to stop him?"
Zhang Qingrui lowered her head, turning around to avoid viewing that. While listening to the screams constantly being emitted from Professor Qin Fang, her blood froze and she couldn’t bear it any longer. "Can’t we do something to him?"
Luo Qiu blinked his eyes. He suddenly found something still hidden on Gao Rui’s body… it was like a flame, which jumped up.
The soul belonging to this dead body hadn’t completely died out yet… was it sleeping all this while? It might be due to the special environment of the third floor.
Luo Qiu shifted his attention to the professor subconsciously.
When he finished his tenth cut, the meat of that arm had separated with the bone, becoming unbelievably horrific.
After the eleventh cut, Qin Fang intended to cut his thigh next.
Then Luo Qiu acted. He walked quickly to Qin Fang, stretching out his hand to hold his arm with the dagger.
"Don’t stop me!"
"Professor, the first cut is for your guilt, and so does the second one… and others." Luo Qiu didn’t change his expression, "Do you think cutting one arm won’t be enough, or are you feeling a sense of pleasure by redeeming yourself through self-mutilation? I thought you’ll stop by yourself."
"What… did you say?"
Luo Qiu heaved a sigh, "Professor… do you know you’re laughing?"
Qin Fang’s body turned stiff all at once. His fingers grabbing the dagger suddenly loosened, the dagger dropped down, with a clanging sound.
"I… I just…"
Luo Qiu gazed at his left arm which meat and bone were already separated, tearing up his own clothes silently slice by slice and binding up the part from arm to shoulder. "I have actually no right to stop you… But I was just curious. Professor, you said before that your brother was just looking at you quietly that year, right?"
Qin Fang gave a start.
Luo Qiu stood up and pointed at the forehead of Gao Rui’s dead body, "He’s still alive, maybe he could tell you the answer."
Before their eyes, some white fog started to gush out from the cold and dried dead body.
That white fog spun around gradually, like white pigment diffusing into water. Then it slowly formed a man who had the same face as the dead body.
"Gao… Gao Rui!"
The one that was set free from that dead body was exactly the man who should have died 20 years ago.
"Gao Rui! It’s you!" Qin Fang eyes opened wide, gazing at the soul appearing in front excitedly, "You… you’re here!"
Gao Rui’s soul merely shook his head, saying in the familiar tone lodged deeply in Qin Fang’s memory, "Old Qin, do you know, I’m not able to chew on such old meat of yours?"
Qin Fang knelt down on the ground again, both shoulders quivered with a sorrowful look, wept bitterly and said with a hoarse voice, "Sorry!! I’m so sorry!"
"Chuyu, my kid, is she beautiful now? Thanks for your care these years!"
"Sorry! Sorry! Sorry!"
"And thanks for the trouble with my wife and dealing with her funeral affairs."
"Sorry! I’m sorry!"
"Old Qin, you just asked why we did such things that would ruin our next lives for…"
"Sorry, sorry, sorry."
"I’m thinking about it… but couldn’t get an answer. Maybe it is just as you said, for money and to satisfy our greed. But did you forget the agitation, joy, unbeatable satisfaction, and the happiness we shared with our brothers when we managed to conquer an ancient tomb, no matter how greedy we were?"
"I couldn’t walk anymore that time. My legs were broken, but you still took me to the end right?"
"I really couldn’t walk. But what about my wife and kids? I had to stay alive and get out… but I wouldn’t make it out alive. I knew you were hungry…"
"Do you know why I didn’t say anything when you were eating me?"
"Because… if you can escape, I know you’ll treat my wife and kid well. Old Qin, thank you for taking care of them."
Gao Rui put his hand at Qin Fang’s back gently, "Hey, man, when you cry, you seem like a woman. An old and ugly woman."
Qin Fang put his head on Gao Rui’s shoulder. He kept on apologizing, saying the words which couldn’t be spoken out when he was eating the meat and blood that year.
What professor owed him, was not the meat and blood, merely this apology.
"I’ve forgiven you from the beginning… Old Qin."