294 A Horrifying Punishment
“I’m begging you, just do it now. Nothing else should be the priority right now. I’ve asked you before if you wanted to leave. You said no at the time. Do you still think that you made the right choice?”
I stared at him. “Of course. I’ve never regretted it, and I don’t plan on regretting anything else.”
“What else would you like me to do for you? Tell me so that I can send you away as soon as possible.”
This sounded rather comical as I said it. It sounded as if I could send him back by turning back time.
“Stop this. I’m right outside. You’re talking to the real me now. Don’t think too much about it. This illusion is not that difficult to break. You’ll be able to find the weak link if you look properly.”
I looked at him and said, “If you’re here to say this, you are welcome to leave right now.”
It’s time to send the guest away.
But Gaoqin Jiuye did not move.
I thought the problem would be solved after some more conversation, but I was wrong.
Nie Zun appeared before I could send Gaoqin Jiuye away.
I happened to glance further down the path and I saw Nie Zun a short distance away.
Nie Zun had both hands in his pockets and he was dressed in black from head to toe.
“You’re here to talk to me about Gaoqin Jiuye as well?” I asked impatiently.
“No. I’m here to deliver your heart to you.” Nie Zun answered casually.
That indifferent demeanor of his was difficult to replicate. This was definitely him.
“Then where is it?” I asked as I pointed at my empty chest.
“The heart is completely fine here with me. I have a request before I give it to you.”
“After getting your heart back, no matter what you recall or what you see, you have to promise that you’ll never talk about this ever again.”
Is this some sort of agreement to secrecy?
I was really curious about his request, so I agreed without hesitation.
Nie Zun reached towards his own chest.
Gaoqin Jiuye stared at me in anger. “Haven’t I told you that everything is fake? Don’t be fooled by him. He’ll attack you once you go over to take your heart back.”
No, he wouldn’t.
Nie Zun might not love me, he might have changed drastically, and he might not be protecting me anymore.
But he would never hurt me.
He would never do that.
Unless someone was pretending to be him, but that was impossible in this situation. There was only one thing to do now, that is, to continue on my path.
I thought that I’d be stopped only a couple of times after that, but I didn’t expect Nie Zun to be so adamant on having me make a promise.
“Where are you going? You haven’t promised me.”
I looked at Nie Zun with exhaustion. “Honestly, I don’t really care about anything now. Nie Zun, you’re the one who took the heart, and you’re also the one who’s trying to return it to me now. And you don’t want me to tell anyone about this either. Just what are you trying to do?”
“I’ll tell you the truth since you want to hear it that badly,” Nie Zun said.
Emotion overwhelmed me at this point. I really wanted to know why he took my heart away,
To my surprise, Gaoqin Jiuye rushed forward to obstruct Nie Zun’s path. “Don’t say it.”
He stared at Nie Zun.
“What are you doing, Gaoqin? Don’t you know that this is my goal?” I asked with a frown.
Gaoqin Jiuye shot a sharp look at me. “Didn’t I tell you to keep your distance from him too? Li Shen, I’m willing to send you away and throw away my life for it. Is it that difficult for you to leave this place? Is it that difficult to go back the way you came?”
It wasn’t difficult at all, but I didn’t know why I chose not to do so either.
Seeing my silence, Gaoqin Jiuye was enraged. Nie Zun still had his eyes on me, as if he was calculating his next steps.
Nobody could have predicted what happened next.
Gaoqin Jiuye stuck a hand right into Nie Zun’s chest.
“What are you doing…” I said.
“I’m looking for your heart.” Gaoqin Jiuye looked crazed, as if he was bent on helping me find a way to escape.
His hand was already embedded deeply in Nie Zun’s chest, but Nie Zun’s face remained expressionless.
Gaoqin Jiuye seemed to be picking from a raffle box that was literally Nie Zun’s chest.
It looked disgusting. I decided to continue walking forward without wasting any more time. All these tricks were just to confuse me.
I glanced at the two of them just as I passed them, but something made me stop in my tracks even as I decided that I would never turn back.
It was so sudden.
It was like a computer crashing. There was nothing I could do but to wait for help.
But I was the one who needed help this time.
I caught sight of the skull ring on Nie Zun’s finger with that glance.
The ring meant a lot to me, and I had a feeling that all the mysteries would be unraveled with that ring.
Basically, in my subconscious mind, there was something special about that skull ring.
Accessories cannot be worn in illusions.
A beating heart was in Gaoqin Jiuye’s bloody hand as it emerged from Nie Zun’s chest.
At once, I knew it wasn’t mine.
Nie Zun collapsed behind me with a thud as I turned to my side to look.
At first, it felt like I was simply watching a movie unfold before me, but I recalled that the ring can’t be worn by an illusion. This meant that it was the real Nie Zun I’m seeing right now.
This wasn’t hearsay, because that ring belonged to me, and it belonged to Nie Zun as well. Who knows, it might have also belonged to Gaoqin Jiuye.
I didn’t know why I had the feeling that an illusion couldn’t wear the ring, but the thought simply appeared in my mind. If I could see Nie Zun wearing this ring right now, it meant that he was no illusion. He was right there.
Instead of unraveling the mystery, everything seemed to turn into a bigger mess.
If that was really Nie Zun… What do I do?
I didn’t have time to think any further. Looking at that dark red heart in Gaoqin Jiuye’s hand, I turned back in an attempt to help Nie Zun up. I had to see if it was real. I had to see if he really had that ring on him.
At the very moment I turned back, I realized that there was nothing there. Nie Zun wasn’t there. Jiao S wasn’t there.
All I could see was an endless path which led to somewhere unknown.
If I had a heart now, I was sure I would feel it dropping to the ground.
I was tricked.
Where did I go wrong? I saw that skull ring so clearly. Rather than believing in the logic of this place, I’d rather believe my gut.
My gut told me that I was right, that it was definitely the real Nie Zun who had that black skull ring on him.
But where did Nie Zun go?
I turned back around. Gaoqin Jiuye, who was originally waiting for my answer, had disappeared too.
I was tricked and I turned around, but nothing happened.
This was absolutely terrifying.
I wouldn’t have been so terrified if it was a ferocious ghost that met my eyes. I could at least try to fight it.
But there was absolutely nothing behind me when I turned back.
The scariest part is waiting in the absolute silence and stillness for the judgement and punishment when you are aware that you’ve broken the rules and that you have to pay for it.
You couldn’t help but be afraid of what you’d have to face, but you have no choice but to wait for the judgement to arrive.
I was at a total loss of what to do when I felt the environment change around me.
I looked around warily as the gray fog dissipated and the scene changed slowly.
It was as if it was becoming transparent. A world that looked familiar met my eyes.
Fear crept up on me as I began to realize what was happening. I realized what the punishment was.
That fear made me shiver.
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