218 Call Me Shen’er
After some walking, we finally reached some sort of checkpoint.
There was heavy white fog in front of us.
Nie Zun and I looked at each other before walking towards the fog.
I realized the creatures had stopped. They seemed to be avoiding the fog.
As we closed in, we realized that the fog had obscured the path forward. To continue, we had to go through the fog. However, it looked like our vision would be obscured once we walked into it.
“Should we go through?” I asked, unsure.
Nie Zun answered without hesitation, “Why not?”
I looked back at those creatures. They were still now, none of them moving an inch.
There’s nowhere else to go but forward then.
“Let’s go.” I pulled Nie Zun along.
Ever since he had lost his memories, I’ve always wanted to hold his hand every time he’s beside me, afraid that I’ll lose him again. I’m willing to do this even though he treats me like a stranger, or even if he doesn’t care about what I do.
I wanted him to remember me, but there would be times when I hoped this could last forever.
Nothing could be seen around us as we walked into the fog.
A pain shot through my wrist as I tried to hold his hand tight, and his hand just slipped away like this.
I looked around the whiteness as I called out, “Nie Zun.”
I flailed my arms about as I tried searching for him, but there was nothing around me.
Stay calm, Li Shen, stay calm.
I looked around me again. Everything was white fog, including the ground.
I was sure this was an illusion.
Though the demon cave was an unpredictable place, there was something else going on right here. It might be the work of a powerful illusionist.
I suddenly thought of Guan Nie, who had been missing in the Gate of Ghost for quite a while now. Would he be in here?
“Where are you, Nie Zun?” No one answered when I tried calling out again.
I took baby steps forward as I spread my MF all around me, trying to get a better sense of my surroundings.
Surprisingly, I couldn’t sense a thing.
While I was at a loss of what to do, the white fog right in front of me seemed to dissipate slightly.
I walked up quickly to the empty space that appeared.
That space was surrounded by white fog, as if it was right under a huge spotlight.
Why did this feel so familiar?
This was the scene when Si Luo stuck his hand into my heart the last time.
Was this an illusion created by MF?
I hesitated a little before deciding to walk over to that bright, empty spot.
I heard my name just as I stepped into the space.
I looked around me. It can’t be… Will the same thing happen again?
I smiled bitterly to myself as I saw him emerge from the fog. I guess the same thing will happen again.
But it was Gaoqin Jiuye the last time. Who was it this time?
I asked slowly, “You’re Gaoqin Jiuye? Or Gao Qi?”
He was dressed exactly like Gaoqin Jiuye, but he had a rather expressionless face.
He looked at me with a deep gaze. “You can’t tell me apart from him now, can you?”
This… What did that mean?
I looked down at his waist as he moved closer to me. Shen Qi… wasn’t there.
I felt his cold breath on my face as he said, “He had always wanted to take you away from me, always. I tried ways and means to prevent him from doing so, but you? You still left with him in the end.”
What is he saying?
I looked up at him in confusion. “Are you Gao Qi? Gao Qi, what’re you talking about?”
Gao Qi laughed. “That’s right, I’m Gao Qi. I’m here to visit you in the Split Zone, I’m here to bring you back.”
My heart seemed to explode at this with a force that could destroy an entire city, the shrapnel cutting me right through the bones.
Something seemed to be reemerging from within my memories. Did he say something like this to me before?
Yes, I remember seeing him in Huan Qing’s illusion at the time when I just arrived in the Southern District.
Pomelo was present too.
He told me to leave with him at that time, that he was here to pick me up from the Split Zone.
But, in the end?
Nie Zun’s ‘Shen’er’ brought me back to reality. Gao Qi and Pomelo were both gone. I was still in the Split Zone, and no one could bring me back.
I smiled bitterly. “You’re an illusion, right? Great. It just so happens that there’s something I want to say.”
I moved in closer and caressed his face. I’ve fallen head over heels for that face once, but it felt a little foreign now that I looked at it again. “I’ve always wanted to say sorry, that I’ve killed you. I know you’re a nightmare living in my heart, and I know that I’ve lost most of the memories we had together. But I know that you’re still here in my heart. Please forgive me.”
I felt warm skin under my fingers. This felt extremely realistic.
His eyes looked like they were sighing. “Why don’t you believe me? Yes, it was me who had hurt you so badly in the past, and that had caused you to forget me. You’re still wary of me and you refuse to believe me now… It’s all my fault…”
“What are you… talking about?” I asked in confusion.
Gao Qi looked me in the eye, entrapping me with that gaze. “You’ve always been in love with Gaoqin Jiuye, not me. And I’ve always been jealous of him. Because of that, I was afraid that he’ll take you away from me, and that was why I did it. I should be the one saying sorry. I should be the one who should have left. But, not only did I fail in doing that and returning you a peaceful life, I’ve pulled you in here instead.”
My heart felt like it twisted into a knot. I didn’t understand him at all. This was all nonsense to me.
Wasn’t I living in the real world before?
Wasn’t it Gao Qi I fell in love with? My senior, Gao Qi? Even if I killed him with my own two hands, even if I’ve forgotten most of what happened between us, I was very sure of whatever I could remember. I knew who it was that I loved. Why was he saying this?
Unease crept up on me. If this was an illusion, it would have to be based on whatever was deep inside my heart. No matter how unpredictable this demon cave was, the illusion had to come from somewhere.
Why did the Gao Qi in front of me say things like this? I felt extremely uneasy.
There was nothing but doubt and tons of questions in my mind right now. I could only clarify them one by one.
“Why are you saying that Gaoqin Jiuye was the one I fell in love with, not you? I didn’t know him before I arrived here in the Split Zone.” I tried to calm myself down, but I could hear my voice trembling.
Gao Qi’s eyes suddenly turned gentle. His gentle gaze melted me every time, but this time, when I was met with that gaze again, all I could think of was… Nie Zun.
I was distracted momentarily.
I looked away quickly, embarrassed to meet his eyes.
Gao Qi answered in that enchanting and mesmerizing voice of his, “He’s the one you love. You’ll know everything if you uncover the secret of the Split Zone…”
“Enough,” I said loudly. I was getting a little emotional now.
Uncover the secret of the Split Zone? I’ll know everything once I uncover the secret of the Split Zone?
But I don’t know what secrets there are in here!
I’ve lost too many people because of this secret. My peaceful life from before had been interrupted. The Western District had been destroyed. And you guys are still trying to get me to chase after some secret?
Some tell me that the time isn’t right, while others tell me that I’ll uncover it someday.
What day is someday?
I couldn’t stand this anymore.
“Are you going to tell me? Or not? If you’re not going to tell me about it, then please leave.” I looked at the person in front of me with slightly teary eyes.
Gao Qi’s gaze remained gentle. He did not frown nor did he sound like he blamed me for anything. “I’ve owed you too much, Ah Shen. The only thing I can do for you now is to take you away. I admit that I have my own selfish reasons for doing so, and I’d rather choose to believe that you still love me, even if it’s just a tiny bit. That it isn’t Gaoqin Jiuye you love. Come with me, Ah Shen. Return to the real world with me.”
Haha. What a great illusion. He could even promise to bring me out of this place.
So leaving the Split Zone was actually such an easy thing to do.
Gao Qi spoke again. “I know you don’t believe me. But you can try. I can take you with me as long as you wish for it to be. Try it. You won’t be losing anything again…”
You can take me with you as long as I wish for it to be?
What if I don’t?
I was surprised by my own thoughts.
But what was it that made me think like that?
Was it because of that particular reason? That I was afraid I’d continue being ostracized in the real world because of my mental disorder?
“Look, Ah Shen, my eyes are no longer like what they were in the past. Have you fallen in love with Gaoqin Jiuye in the time that you hung out with him?” Gao Qi’s voice sounded like a steady anchor in all that white fog.
But I suddenly felt lonely.
I missed Nie Zun so much.
No, I can’t stay in this illusion forever. I need to wake up soon. I need to get his memories back. I want him to remember me.
I want him to call me Shen’er.
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