He creased his eyebrows thoughtfully, saying, “It would die quickly if you were to pluck it by force.” With a gentle gaze, he continued, “It is a very dignified ceremony to enter this place, acquire a symbiotic flower, and become the strongest warrior. Everyone respects the tradition, and no one would enter using a ventilator; thus, no one has succeeded. I’ve heard that you only need to enter the water and wait in devotion. The symbiotic flower that senses your call will come to you on its own.”
I smiled, replying, “Alright, let me try- hold on. You said they’re poisonous. Will they sting me?”
He shook his head and looked at me gently, saying, “No, they wouldn’t take the initiative to attack. Plus, their poisons vary, and are rarely fatal.”
“I understand.” I slid down the rock and returned to the water. I spread my arms and lay on the water in silence. I looked up at the beautiful world, feeling a sudden desire to bring Ghostie here to see it. He would definitely like it here.
The water here was warm, like a mother’s embrace. It was as though I had returned to infancy.
My heart gradually calmed down, and so did my mind. There was only the beautiful pattern in sight. It resembled a colorful galaxy, looking as though a rainbow had been diffused through it.
Xing Chuan sat by the shore and watched me in silence. It was as if only he and I were left in the world.
“If the other Xing Chuan hadn’t done what he did, would you like him?” I heard him asking softly in the quiet world.
I stayed silent and closed my eyes. I didn’t think about that person, because it would affect my calm emotions.
“I know that you don’t want to talk about him, but I can’t help being bothered thinking about him,” he said softly. “Why does he exist? Why me? Why not Xing Ya? What’s his superpower? What’s the intent of the person who cloned him? Does he know of my existence?”
“He doesn’t.” I was certain that the other Xing Chuan had no idea about the existence of this one. “I’m sure. He doesn’t even know this place exists.”
Xing Chuan looked at me in silence. He was stubborn when it came to the other Xing Chuan. No, he was as stubborn as the other Xing Chuan. Yeah, they were supposed to be the same person, all right.
“If he knew, he would definitely destroy this place, based on his temperament. Because he wouldn’t be able to accept that he’s a clone,” I said, smirking coldly. That was just how the other Xing Chuan was.
“He’s that brutal? Isn’t he me?” Xing Chuan shook his head in disbelief. “I wouldn’t do that.”
Xing Chuan was confused and silent. He seemed to find it hard to believe that the other him, who had come from his own DNA, could have possibly become so brutal and overbearing.
At birth, man is fundamentally good in nature.
Before experiencing life, as mere primary school students, which of us would have said that they would definitely become a bad person in the future?
All Young Pioneers swore under the national flag that they would be great students who practiced the five stresses, four points of beauty, and three loves. When they grew up, though, who would remember the contents of that pledge?
Many would fail to hold on to those moral values.
In the adult world, after all, there was only one passion: Money.
People could throw away their bottom line for money. They could abandon their beautiful souls. They could betray their beliefs. They could become violent keyboard warriors. They could intentionally spread rumors and take pleasure from fooling the public.
Back in my world, it wasn’t the end of the world. But on the internet that could be merciless and violent, I’d seen a place that shared many similarities with the post-apocalypse.
The environment could change a person. On the internet, anyone could hide behind a virtual identity, and anonymity only sped up that terrifying chemical reaction. It completely unleashed the demon in people. They were scaredy-cats in reality, but they could vent their anger and hatred on the internet.
Maybe we thought we could take control of the transition between reality and the virtual world. But somehow, people in reality would be affected by their identities in the virtual world.
Once the demon was unleashed, it was hard to return to its prison.
We, who were once innocent, had slowly been changing too.
“Actually, I envy him,” Xing Chuan said after a long silence. “He is a powerful metahuman and a king. He led the entire Silver Moon City. He led everyone in a war! I am only an ordinary guy on an island. I suddenly feel like I have a very outstanding brother, heh...” He chuckled lightly, but there was a complicated feeling behind his words.
It made him sound like a useless younger brother who lived in the shadow of his twin brother.
“You don’t have to be envious of him. What’s there to envy about a b*stard?” I said coldly. “Even killing him a few times wouldn’t be enough to sate my anger!” I suddenly felt a cool sensation on the back of my hand. My eyes were subconsciously drawn to it, and I saw a blue tentacle in the water.
“Don’t move!” Xing Chuan immediately shouted, with an excited look on his face. “She wants to take root in your body.”
I didn’t move an inch, and the tentacle slowly rose above the surface of the water. It swayed in the air like a stamen, and gently landed on the back of my hand.
The symbiotic flower could bloom into a beautiful pattern on one’s body, growing intertwined with the heart. It could manifest as an animal or a plant, or show nothing at all. And yet it would always reflect a secret, an emotion hidden deep in one’s heart.
I recalled the spider lily on Xing Chuan’s body. Lycoris radiata: The gentle demon, a symbol of both rebirth and decay.
Rebirth or decay - both of those things seemed connected to Xing Chuan, who teetered constantly on the edge of humanity. Maybe that was the reason why his flower had manifested as the spider lily.
He was a demon, and yet he desired a new life. In the end, though, he chose to descend to the world and continue to be a demon.
I felt the cool sensation on the back of my hand moving closer. The transparent, wriggling stamen entered my skin, and it felt as though something had been injected into the back of my hand.
Suddenly, the surroundings vanished and I stood in a rainbow world. Rainbow rings encircled me, slowly spreading out in ripples of color.
Is this an illusion?
A colorful dragon appeared from the rainbow circles. As it came to me, the many colors faded away, replaced with a single shade of ice blue. The creature resembled an ice dragon, its blue tendrils fluttering before me.
I lifted my hand and touched its face. Ice Dragon had been my first spaceship, the first gift that Raffles had given to me. It felt as though Raffles was at my side, guarding me in a different form.
Suddenly, red wings began to grow on the dragon, resembling Harry’s hair flowing through the air. A red phoenix started to take shape, standing high and proud atop Ice Dragon’s back.
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