303 Returning to the Split Zone
“No!” I almost ripped my throat out screaming. I couldn’t believe what I just witnessed. That face was burning with smoke and the features were already gone. That creepy smile on Mi Fu’s face haunted my vision like a nightmare.
“Ah Shen.” Old Man Fan grabbed me, preventing me from going any closer.
“There’s no use even if you go any closer. Don’t look, close your eyes.”
“No. Old Man Fan, he’s such a good person. Why? Just why?” I asked in tears.
Old Man Fan dragged me out of the room so that I wouldn’t see anything else.
“Listen carefully, Ah Shen. I want to tell to you everything since there’s not much time left.” Old Man Fan shook me by the shoulders when we were in the corridor.
My mind had stalled after witnessing that horrific scene. That was so much more frightening than anything that I’ve seen in the Split Zone in the past.
Terrifying incidents like these seemed to be a normal, daily occurrence in the Split Zone since it was a place where the weaklings get beaten down by those who were stronger. However, this was the real world.
Something like this in the real world would make one’s hairs stand. Furthermore, Mi Fu was only a young child.
But why did she do such a thing? Why did she do such a thing to Huan Qing?
My thoughts were in a mess, but I told myself to calm down and listen to what Old Man Fan had to say. There might be a reason behind everything that had been happening so far.
I listened closely to Old Man Fan’s words. “There’s no need to be afraid, Ah Shen. Whatever you see isn’t real. I know it’s confusing if this continues, and your head will feel like it’s in a mess, but that doesn’t matter. There’s no need for you to think too much about it.
“You just have to remember one thing; that this crack in space actually exists. My consciousness ended up being trapped in this space after I used the spatial transference technique twice. But this crack in space isn’t permanent. This isn’t important, and it doesn’t matter whether I live or die. The thing is, the secret of returning to the real world is found here, and I’ll have to tell you about it.”
Old Man Fan spoke anxiously, but before he could finish, the orphanage started shaking.
I looked up in fear, but Old Man Fan held me tight. “This is bad. I thought we’d be able to have more time. There’re still many things that you haven’t been able to see. It’s actually an illusion that you landed in this space. I created whatever that you’ve seen, including that boy and that woman, as well as Huan Qing and Mi Fu.
“What I want you to know is that, Ah Shen, even though these are all illusions, it’s a fact that none of them have returned to the real word. They are all trapped in different parts within this crack in space. I’m unable to help them return since I’m trapped here too. All I can do is to create illusions like this so that you’ll be able to remember what happened clearly. Forgive Grandpa for this. It’s the only solution Grandpa could think of.
“Remember this, Ah Shen. Every soul splitter in the Split Zone is a part of that humanity which used to belong to a corresponding person in the real world. That part can either be good or evil, but whatever it is, remember that you have to leave this place. If the one who rules the Split Zone doesn’t die, there’d be no way for any of you to return to the real world even after undoing the split symbol contract.
“Remember this, you have to first kill the one who’s controlling everything in the Split Zone. He’s the very person who created the Split Zone with all that lost humanity from humans. You have to kill him first.”
My mind was spinning just as the world before me was breaking apart. I didn’t know what to say, and all I felt was an impending sense of loss; a feeling where I would be losing everything I had again. I tried to grab Old Man Fan tightly, but I felt him getting further and further away.
Old Man Fan said, “Remember this, Ah Shen. The illusion will break apart in a moment. I don’t know what happened to you in the Split Zone, but you must have been in a deep illusion. Someone is trying to save you from that very illusion by breaking through it. The force feels familiar, and it should be Li Qing.
“I can’t do much in the crack in space, but I can do things like adding another layer of illusion onto an existing one while two forces of MF are going against each other. This is why I created this spatial illusion. I want you to know that the crack in space does exist, and if you want to save Huan Qing and the rest, you’ll have to kill the ruler of the Split Zone.
“There’s not much time left. You’ll end up back in Li Qing’s illusion very soon. Don’t turn back until you see the door labeled with ‘Gate of Heaven’. If you do, you won’t be able to open it and you won’t be able to borrow Li Qing’s power to return to the Split Zone.”
I got the gist of it. The reason why I couldn’t turn back was because of Old Man Fan’s additional layer of illusion.
I’d be returning to that path again now that the time’s up for this illusion. I can’t turn around before reaching that door to the Gate of Heaven, and I should end up back in the Split Zone, outside of Guan Nie’s illusion, after I walk through that door.
Even though I understood everything, I was reluctant to let Old Man Fan go. He was like a close relative to me in the Split Zone, and he was leaving me once again. I could not bear to see him go like this.
Old Man Fan looked at me with gentle eyes, as if trying to reassure me that he would be back some day.
Before the illusion crumbled, he said, “You have to kill the ruler of the Split Zone. He’s the key to everything. He’s…”
The space crumbled around us just as he said a name. I couldn’t hear it clearly at all.
Back in that gray space, I began running on that long and tiny path. The sky was a dark gray and the end of the road was nowhere to be seen.
I wasn’t sure how I returned to this space. I might not even have left this space in the first place. I might have just been running on this path from before, and my mind could have just made up that memory of me being in the crack in space.
Whatever it was, my face was wet with tears.
Wiping my tears, I continued running forward. I wanted to go back to the Split Zone, and I knew running away was not a solution. I had to help them get away. Get away from this place that was full of demons.
With renewed confidence, I focused on the path in front of me as I patiently waited for that door to appear.
After some time, I saw a door somewhere in the distance, partially obscured by that grayish fog. I quickened my pace.
I heard Nie Zun’s voice behind me before I could reach the door.
No, I can’t turn around. I cannot turn around.
“Shen’er, they’re all lying to you. Don’t enter that door. This is your only chance to go back. Turn around and you’ll be able to return to the real world.”
Huh, do you think I’m really a fool? Nie Zun wouldn’t say something like that, you liar. I won’t ever turn around.
I thought the voice would continue enticing me to turn around, but there was nothing but dead silence behind me.
Finally, I arrived at the door. Another hand touched mine as I reached for the door. It was an old and gnarly hand.
Old Man Fan’s voice said, “Ah Shen, I haven’t finished. Listen carefully before you return.”
This made me forget that I should have been careful. The thought of Old Man Fan trying to use the last of his strength to tell me the identity of the ruler of the Split Zone made me momentarily forget that I should not have turned back.
There was nobody and nothing else but a grayish-white fog behind me. There was nothing but silence. My heart sank.
I was duped yet again.
Whatever was behind me started crumbling at this moment.
I tried to pull open the door that was right in front of me.
It was just like what Old Man Fan said. The door was locked because I had turned around. I couldn’t open it no matter how hard I pulled.
Thunderous crashes surrounded me as dust and debris scattered. The feeling of being in a space currently facing a catastrophic destruction was more than horrifying.
I continued pulling on the door. This was the first time I was so close to the edge of destruction, and I couldn’t do anything to stop it.
Just as I was about to give up, I caught sight of a tiny hole beside the door handle.
For some reason, I thought of that tiny gold key I had with me.
I fumbled for that key which was given to me by that boy in the Split Zone before he died. Without any hesitation, I stabbed the key through that tiny hole in the door.
There was a loud crash behind me before the ground started shaking violently. The space was going to collapse anytime.
There was nothing I could do but close my eyes and await my end.
I didn’t expect the key to work, but I heard a click as I inserted it through that tiny hole.
I stumbled through the door at the very moment when everything behind me turned to dust.
It was like I just teleported through the door back to that ocean of illusion. Everyone was looking at me.
Guan Nie, Si Luo, Cang Ming, Ta Lai, Du Yue and Jiao S were there.
Gaoqin Jiuye and Nie Zun were there too.
Everyone was still there.
None of them spoke, and all of them had this grim look on their faces. Following their gazes, I looked up and realized that the gray sky was beginning to crumble. Li Qing’s efforts to break this illusion from the outside might just be working.
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