306 Ruler of the Gate of Exit
This time though, instead of passing out, I felt myself landing on flat ground. I could also move immediately after that.
I looked around myself as I stretched.
All of us were in our original positions, except that we were no longer on Guan Nie’s ocean. Guan Nie was paper-white as he coughed up blood.
There were two individuals who joined us. They were Li Qing and Li Wen.
Momentarily, I thought I had been transported back in time; that I was the Li Shen of the past and they were still in the Western District. Li Qing was still in that silver armor of hers and Li Wen was in her favorite pale yellow dress.
But I knew that the situation was different now.
Li Wen was standing a little bit behind Li Qing, and both of them had their eyes on me. It felt like the both of them had this mutual understanding and telepathy between them, something that could only be built when people have been together for a long time.
Refusing to take a passive role, I spoke first. “I heard you’re actually a soul splitter?” I looked straight at Li Qing as I posed the question.
I didn’t bother on small talk because I didn’t have any extra time to waste. I had already wasted too much time before this, I was too weak. I will no longer be indecisive and hesitant from now on.
Li Qing nodded. “That’s right. Apart from that, I also rule over the Gate of Exit. The Gate of Exit, the gate of Li, is named after Li Qing.” (T/n: ‘Lidao’ is the phrase used in Chinese for Gate of Exit.)
She continued before I could respond. “It’s not the time to talk about this. I’m here to save you, Ah Shen.”
No, don’t call me Ah Shen. I’d turn soft like this. I’d turn back into the old me where I relied on you for everything, where I hid behind you all the time.
I didn’t have to worry about anything as long as you, Li Qing, were there. Even if you weren’t, Li Wen would take care of everything else. Even when you had gone missing, You Ji was the one who helped me take care of Western District matters.
But things changed so quickly. Right now, I want to rely on myself even though you’re back.
Please don’t give me false hope.
“This is rare. The Gate of Ghost’s Cang Ming and even Li Qing, ruler of the Gate of Exit, are both visiting the Gate of Heaven. Is this an auspicious sign of sorts?” Ta Lai was smiling as he spoke calmly, but there was no hint of friendliness in his eyes.
Cang Ming did not bother responding to Ta Lai, but Li Qing spoke.
“Ta Lai and Du Yue, both of you have the gall to target someone of mine without my agreement? The Gate of Exit is nothing to you guys now, is it?”
Du Yue smirked. “We aren’t scared of you even if you are the ruler in the Gate of Exit. You say they are your people, but don’t forget that they are still heirs. You’re just like us, a soul splitter. How could a soul splitter help outsiders like that? I can understand if it’s Li Wen, since she’s been with you for a long time. But it’s been so long since you’ve left the Western District and you haven’t been involved with Li Shen when you’re ruling over the Gate of Exit now. Isn’t it a bit too much of a stretch for you to say that Li Shen is your person when we are in my territory here in the Gate of Heaven?”
A hint of a smile appeared on Li Qing’s face as Du Yue finished, and before anyone realized what was happening, Li Qing flew up with a raised hand and landed right in front of Du Yue, giving her three hard slaps.
Slap, slap, slap.
The crisp slaps resounded in the plaza. One could hear the power in Li Qing’s slaps, and all three of them were equally powerful.
Not only was Du Yue stunned by it, we were all stunned.
Li Qing then spoke in a calm and casual manner. “There is hierarchy in the world of soul splitters to maintain the balance between the three gates, and that agreement helps the three parties co-exist. Feng Zhu, the ruler of the Gate of Heaven, would also have to be respectful to me. Moreover, I’m the one who came over here to visit a lowly soul splitter like you. Even if you are a ‘lord’ in the Gate of Heaven, don’t you think you’re being too audacious by speaking to me like that?”
Li Qing’s tone turned sharp when she commented about Du Yue being too audacious. That fierce and domineering aura caught everybody’s attention.
It was not the first time I saw Li Qing like this, but it was a side of her I rarely saw.
I always knew that Li Qing was highly-respected back in the Western District, even though nobody knew she was a soul splitter and she looked merely like someone who was great in battles. Compared to the rumors about the cruel Jiao S in the Eastern District and the mysterious Si Luo in the Southern District, Li Qing was not tagged with any unique characteristics of sorts.
Even so, she was well-respected by the people. Whoever it was and wherever she went, others would always give Li Qing some sort of respect. Even Mr Blond took her words into careful consideration.
I thought this was because Li Qing was someone upright and someone who never hid her intentions from anyone.
Li Qing did not mind minor brawls as long as her ‘children’ were not hurt.
Those children referred to us. They referred to every single resident of the Western District.
It was rare to see her like this, where she did not care about Du Yue’s dignity.
Du Yue was extremely stunned, probably because no one else had dared to treat her like this.
Li Qing maintained her smile. “Upset? Am I wrong? You’re trying to argue with me instead of showing respect when you’re merely a ‘lord’ in the Gate of Heaven when I’m the ruler in the Gate of Exit? Who’s the one who gave you such guts and who taught you how to disregard the rules, Du Yue?”
Even if what Li Qing said made sense, I didn’t think that Du Yue would just take it lying down. I expected her to retaliate.
But I was wrong.
Shock, embarrassment and anger passed over Du Yue’s face as Li Qing spoke, but she responded calmly. “Yes, I was too audacious. As the ‘lord’ in the Gate of Heaven, it should be my pleasure to welcome the ruler of the Gate of Exit into the Gate of Heaven for a visit. I hope that as ruler of the Gate of Exit, you would be able to oversee this mistake.”
I raised my brows in surprise. Du Yue was a stubborn character, especially when it came to issues that involved me. She would usually refuse to back down, but she actually said something like that even after Li Qing slapped her three times in front of everyone. I guess there are also times when I underestimated others.
Li Qing looked satisfied with Du Yue’s answer. She wasn’t someone unreasonable. She waved a hand and said, “Fine. I’m not here to start a war of sorts today, so you don’t have to worry about that, Du Yue. I’m here to collect my person, so I hope that Ta Lai and Du Yue, both ‘lords’ in the Gate of Heaven, would not make things too difficult.”
Ta Lai spoke, “Please don’t misunderstand, Lord Li Qing. We didn’t force Li Shen to come here, and I’m sure everyone else here would know this. She came over voluntarily, and neither of us made things difficult for her in any way. Of course, Lord Li Qing would also be aware of the rules and hierarchy among the three gates. I wonder if other soul splitters would find your actions respectable if they knew that you had used your rank against us minions before you even visited Lord Feng Zhu.”
Ta Lai’s tone was steady and calm.
“Disgusting, so disgusting. I’ve had enough of these pretend conversations between you people. Why beat around the bush if you are looking for a fight? What’s the use in that? It’s no wonder you people always criticize us in the Gate of Ghost, saying that we do things as if we were evil demons and how we don’t adhere to the rules. If you people were the good guys here, then I think that all the good guys deserve to die.”
Though Cang Ming was harsh, his words had some logic to it. If the justice in those places was simply made up of nothing but pretense, then it was definitely not worth listening to these people.
Instead of getting angry at Cang Ming, Li Qing addressed Ta Lai with a smile. “Look, someone is berating us now. No more beating around the bush then. Let’s all place our cards on the table and see how we can work it out. How about that?”
Ta Lai returned the smile. “Work it out? I’m afraid that wouldn’t be your only goal now that you’re here in the Gate of Heaven. I believe it if you say that you’re here to save Li Shen, but I don’t think that’s your only goal, is it?”
Li Qing raised a brow. “Oh, what other goals might I have then?”
Ta Lai kept silent with a smile on his face.
“Amitabha, have mercy.”
I heard a sound in the distance. It felt very familiar, as if I have heard it somewhere before, but I just could not recall it.
However, at the very moment I turned around to look at the source of the sound, I remembered it.
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