275 A Cage for Humans
“But Ah Shen, what I’m most interested in knowing is whether you blamed her or not after you learnt about all that.”
Jiao S’s question got me in a bind. Instead of thinking about my answer, I realized I actually had to think about how I could even go about answering her.
Shouldn’t it have been a straightforward ‘no’? Why did I hesitate? Did I really blame Li Qing?
I knew that I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for Li Qing. Whether it was the courage she had given me to continue living, whether it was Scorpion Ray, or whether it was a heart that took responsibility for others and believed in love, these are things I couldn’t live without.
Did I even have the right to blame her for anything? But could I really confidently say that I didn’t blame her at all?
I didn’t know why I hesitated, and if I really did blame her, I didn’t know why I did. I felt helpless.
I looked at Nie Zun. Even though he looked like Guan Nie now, his figure from the back still looked lonely like before.
A sorrow began to fill my heart.
Jiao S held my hand gently as she sensed my emotions. Her hoarse voice turned gentle as she said, “I get it. There’s no need for you to answer.”
I forced myself to put on a smile.
Upon arriving at the Central Plaza, I realized that some places in the Split Zone were extremely similar to the places that existed in the real world. This plaza could have belonged right smack in the middle of the human world, except that this place did not have middle-aged ladies dancing to loud music in the center.
The only other difference was that there was a huge iron cage in the middle of the plaza.
It was just a simple iron cage placed right in the middle of the plaza and it was so huge it looked like more than a hundred individuals could fit in it. Using it to lock the few of us up made it seem like a waste of resources.
Du Yue gestured for us to continue as she stepped in front of the cage. “This is it. I’d have to trouble the few of you for a few days.”
What’s with this politeness? You’re not merely troubling us, are you?
Nie Zun smirked. “This doesn’t look like a cage for prisoners. This looks like a cage that’s used to exhibit animals.” The corners of my mouth started twitching at his comment. Wasn’t he just putting himself down like this? Don’t drag me into this, please.
Du Yue returned the smirk. “What’s the difference between animals and people who’ve lost their freedom?”
Hah, see? She makes it sound as if she captured us. This woman is so full of herself. She was the one asking us for help on this and we are only doing this because we’re working with her now.
Ignoring her, I stepped into the cage without hesitation when it opened. Let’s see if this cage can really take my freedom away.
Seeing me step in, Si Luo and the rest followed.
Though the plaza wasn’t crowded at this time of the day, some of the passers-by looked over at this seemingly rare sight.
Although those who looked over regarded us with suspicion and surprise, there was no one who seemed to be talking about it.
I believe that was because all of them knew and recognized Du Yue, and they were keeping their distance from her. The fear in their eyes was palpable when some of them glanced past Du Yue.
I guess Du Yue is also notorious in the Gate of Heaven.
Du Yue stood outside the cage after ordering those weird sisters to lock us in. She spoke in a low voice, “According to reliable sources, Cang Ming has already arrived at the border of the Gate of Heaven. I didn’t expect him to arrive here so quickly, so there’s no time for us to put on a show. Though this plan is put together rather shabbily, he’d be here soon. Just play it by ear and don’t forget our common goal.”
Common goal? We were working with each other to achieve our own goals, but did we really have a ‘common goal’ here?
Du Yue seemed anxious as she led the two ladies away after getting them to lock the cage.
Her attitude about this made me suspicious. This cage looked suspicious as well.
“We didn’t just walk into a trap, did we?” I looked around as I asked.
Si Luo and Nie Zun were extremely calm. The both of them found a comfortable corner and lay on the floor, propping their head up with a hand, as if it had nothing to do with them even if the world gets blown to bits.
The cage did not look like it belonged in this plaza at all, and this made me feel extremely uncomfortable.
There were currently two males, whose beauty were out of this world, laying somewhere within this huge cage looking relaxed, while two females were standing right in the middle of the cage. One of them looked emotionless and stood unmoving, while the other was looking around with shifty eyes. It’s no wonder people had to take a second look at us. I knew I would definitely be staring.
We were outdoors in the daytime, but the air felt suffocating here.
“Are we really going to act like monkeys on exhibit and stay in here until someone passes by or something happens?” I could no longer hold it in.
Si Luo spoke slowly with squinted eyes as he lay on the floor in those flowy white robes. “Isn’t it great here? We have fresh air and just the right amount of sunshine. I miss this. What’s wrong with just enjoying nature?”
I was not the least bit convinced. But apart from that, there seemed to be nothing else we could do either. I looked at Jiao S.
Jiao S was currently looking at Si Luo with a gaze that spoke volumes.
I stared at her, forgetting that I was actually in the midst of trying to formulate a response to Si Luo.
Jiao S’s gaze revealed her emotions. Though I might not be able to feel what Jiao S is feeling exactly, I could tell she was in some sort of dilemma and reluctance when it comes to Si Luo.
I’ve seen this look on Nie Zun before, and I was very sure that if I liked to look at my own reflection, I’d definitely have seen this look on myself multiple times.
It was this look of hers that made me realize I was being self-centered again. I failed to consider the feelings of my friends yet again.
If what I had with Nie Zun was love, then it could happen between others too.
If I could be frustrated with Nie Zun, does it mean that Jiao S would be carefree all the time?
We were all responsible for our own feelings. She was able to empathize and provide me with some sort of comfort, but I haven’t even considered her feelings.
I did the same thing she did before.
I walked over and took her hand in mine gently. The pain in her eyes wavered slightly when I touched her hand, and a glint of appreciation flashed past her eyes when she looked at me.
This was the first time I felt that I was actually useful. I liked being silent too much and I had remained silent for too long.
I said to Jiao S, “Sorry. I’ve left you all alone in this time. I’m not planning to ask what you’ve been through, and there’s no need for you to tell me about it either. You don’t have to apologize, let me do it instead. I’ll feel uncomfortable if I don’t.”
I pointed at where my heart should be as I said this.
Jiao S put on her serious face as she said, “I’m not planning to reject your apology. Shouldn’t I be gracious about it if someone apologizes to me?”
She made me laugh just like this. I then happened to glance at Nie Zun.
Nie Zun was lying beside Si Luo with those coquettish eyes belonging to Guan Nie. But that cold gaze definitely belonged to Nie Zun.
This was the man I loved. No matter how he looked like and what he became, there was no way to hide that solitude buried so deeply in that gaze.
Nothing could bring him out of that solitude.
I spoke to Jiao S while looking at Nie Zun. “Look, aren’t they quite similar?”
Jiao S followed my gaze to the two of them who were on the floor. “This is getting more and more interesting. So many things have happened in a year. If we could turn back time, I don’t think any of us would be able to predict this happening. Does this mean that there’s no way we can predict what might happen in the coming year too? I’m kind of scared of this feeling of uncertainty when I think about how unpredictable the future is. Look at how we are now compared to how we were in the past.”
I smiled. “We don’t even know if we’d be alive in the coming year. But it’s because things are getting worse that we begin to cherish our lives. Humans are funny creatures. We only begin to cherish life when we sense danger around.”
Jiao S seemed to be in deep thought following what I said, as if she found my words worth pondering over.
She finally spoke when I was planning to sit on the floor after having stood for a while. “It’s never wrong to cherish life. But how about cherishing feelings? If we can cherish our feelings just like how we cherish our lives, wouldn’t many things turn out to be different?”
I gave her a bitter smile. “Feelings are fickle, and even if we cherish it, we might not get an equal amount of reciprocation. It might even drag people down in certain situations, especially now that we’re no longer in our world.
“We shouldn’t forget this, that we’re the weirdos in this world. We’re the ones who’re thinking about how to escape this place. We’re not soul splitters who originally reside here.”
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