308 Gratitude and Grudges
Whether or not I’m eventually able to return to the real world, I don’t think I would ever be able to forget about the Split Zone.
I was living like a tiny ant here, and I ended up falling in love with a devil. Turns out I’m also a devil myself. Isn’t it funny?
“I’m a devil? Hahaha!” I laughed until I almost teared. “Have you seen such a weak devil like me?
“If I really was a devil, I’d have killed every single pretentious person I saw in the Gate of Heaven,” I said to Feng Zhu coldly as I pointed at Ta Lai and Du Yue.
“Amitabha. The ‘evil’ you’re thinking of could be exactly as you described, and in terms of being a ‘devil’, it’s the demon in the heart that manifests itself in actions. Sometimes, it doesn’t manifest in evil deeds, it might manifest itself in your ‘good’ deeds.
“I understand how you feel, Li Shen, but facts are facts. Don’t you find that you have always been able to escape with amazing luck every time something untoward was about to happen? If you didn’t have that kind of ability in you, wouldn’t you already be six feet under?”
I interrupted him. “What are you trying to get at?”
I realized at this point that Feng Zhu had a long string of prayer beads in his hand. The beads were huge, bright and shiny, and he moved them methodically along his hand.
“What I’m trying to say is simple. You’ve been a unique entity in your world, and it’s the same here in Split Zone 13. Because of that, you turned into a target here.”
I smiled faintly. “So? According to you, I’m the target because I’m a naturally unique entity. And you feel that this is my fault?”
Feng Zhu said, “Amitabha. This monk has no intention of blaming anyone on this. What I meant was that this identity of yours would lead to disharmony among the three Gates and disrupt the current peace in the Split Zone. This is why I have to resettle you in order to bring peace to the Split Zone.”
I couldn’t help laughing at this. Under many curious gazes, I laughed my fill before I answered Feng Zhu. “Resettle? I think it’s more of settling a punishment. You people from the Split Zone are really interesting. So what if I’m naturally unique and have a special ability? I didn’t create chaos among the soul splitters here in the Split Zone nor have I fought anyone over any territory. I haven’t hurt anyone. If you guys didn’t hurt my friends in the first place, I wouldn’t have left the Western District at all. I’d have just stayed there forever. It’s because the greed of soul splitters is insatiable, and it’s the soul splitters who are itching for a fight. They’re the ones who are hankering after my power and that becomes my fault?”
What Feng Zhu said made me realize something. It was the same in the real world as well. There was no need for me to feel inferior or guilty because I had two personalities. I haven’t hurt anyone else before I killed Gao Qi, and no matter how weird I was, no matter how I couldn’t fit into this world, I haven’t disrupted the lives of others. How was I at fault?
It was my fault that I killed Gao Qi, and I deserved to be punished by serving time here in the Split Zone. But that was what happened in the real world, and it did not mean that I would hurt anyone from the Split Zone because of that. They had no right to judge me or attempt to control me like this.
I stared at Feng Zhu coldly. “If I remember right, all you soul splitters have a real identity back in my world. You’re a part of their humanity, right? How about you? Who are you a part of? You talk about justice all day and create excuses for all your actions, saying that it’s to ‘keep the peace’. From this alone, I can tell that you guys had really come from my world. There’s that greed and the ignorance I see in you.
“You’re actually even worse than the scum in our world, since you’re merely a part of our humanity. Your personality is incomplete and because of that, your judgements on right and wrong are flawed. You have no right to judge if I, a complete human being, am good or bad. You say that I had the ability to influence and change others, and to disrupt the balance in the Split Zone. But if these people did not want to be influenced, how could I have actually influenced them?
“If those in the Split Zone did not hanker after my power and for things that didn’t belong to them in the first place, would I have ended up as a threat to the peace here?”
Feng Zhu’s eyes glinted. I couldn’t tell what went through his mind.
I smirked. “You can’t even convince the masses with your words, monk. Your reasoning sounded something like this. A precious gem appeared in a house, and everyone in the house started fighting with one another because all of them were greedy and wanted to get their hands on that gem. However, as a passer-by looking at the situation, you’re suddenly saying that you want to punish the gem as if it’s the gem’s fault.”
Du Yue stared at me angrily. “How dare a mere heir be this audacious!”
I turned to her. “An heir may be lowly to you, but to me, you guys are a part of us. You’re not all that high up either. If I dare say things like that, it means I’m no longer afraid of anything. Haha, I’m really curious to see what are the punishments you lot have in store for me.”
Feng Zhu shot Du Yue a look before she could continue, causing her to swallow her words.
Fiddling with his prayer beads, he said, “Don’t be too quick to judge, benefactor. This monk has not finished, so there’s no need to be this agitated.”
Haha, benefactor? This monk? You really think you’re an abbot now, don’t you? You’re trying to imitate whatever happens in my world now.
“I told Yue’er and Lai’er to invite you over to my Gate of Heaven in order for me to take a better look at you, but my two disciples might have misunderstood me on this. Benefactor Li Shen may have also misunderstood my disciples on this, and this has led to the situation that we all see right here.
“Actually, everyone has similar goals. You guys want to return to your homeland, and we want to protect ours. This isn’t some sort of pretense nor is it wrong. I understand Benefactor Li Shen doesn’t want to harm others, and it’s just like what you’ve said, that it isn’t your fault. But the thing is that there are others who are eyeing your power so that they can wreak havoc in the Split Zone. As the ruler of the Gate of Heaven, how could I simply sit and watch? I have my duties as a ruler, so I hope to seek your understanding on this as well, benefactor.”
Li Qing frowned. “Feng Zhu, when have you become someone who likes to beat around the bush like this?”
Feng Zhu spoke to me with a smile, but his expression seemed to change a little when he spoke to Li Qing. I still couldn’t figure out his thoughts, but from that minute change in expression, I could surmise that there was probably some sort of disagreement between the two of them.
He said, “I should’ve been there personally to welcome the ruler of the Gate of Exit when you’ve just arrived in the Gate of Heaven. But Lord Li Qing seems to favor stealth now. I wonder if it’s because I wasn’t a good host the last time you visited, or is it because you still blame me for what happened in the past?”
Li Qing was calm as she spoke. “There’s no point in blaming anyone for what’s already past. What’s upsetting is that I haven’t blamed you at all for it, but you seem to think that I’ve been putting the blame on you.”
Feng Zhu stared right into Li Qing’s eyes. “You don’t blame me? How is it possible that you don’t blame me now that Huai Du is like this? I was the one who turned him into a bloodthirsty monster, and I was also the one who separated the Split Zone into three clear areas – the Gate of Heaven, the Gate of Ghost and the Gate of Exit. Even so, you’re still going to pretend and say that you don’t blame me?”
There was no change in Li Qing’s expression. “I’ve just said it. The most upsetting part is that you keep thinking that I blame you when I actually don’t. Also, he isn’t a monster.”
A tiny fire lit up in Feng Zhu’s eyes. That fire did not seem to match the overall aura of the kasaya he was wearing.
But that fire was extinguished as quickly as it rose, as if it was tamped down by a sudden memory.
“Why don’t you stop him if you’re so protective of him? Why are you letting him be when he’s just acting as he pleases? What you’ve done is simply to abandon the Gate of Exit and take on a role of District Commander among the heirs.”
Li Qing’s eyes darkened. “I didn’t.”
Feng Zhu continued. “Do you think you can avoid all this once you’ve run away to the world of the heirs? Did you think that he’d let you live in peace? Did you really think that all those monsters and experimental subjects were the work of my subordinate, Du Yue, in all these years? You should know very well that he was the one behind it all, since you’re the one who knows him best, aren’t you?”
I recalled the fight with the basiliscampus and how Li Qing did not want us to continue looking into the matter. Maybe it was not merely for training that she cut my arm off. She might have wanted to distract Nie Zun and shift his focus away from the basiliscampus.
No, I shouldn’t doubt Li Qing like this. But why was I terrified? It felt as if there was something cold and dark that was trying to claw its way out from the deep recesses of my heart.
I turned to Li Wen subconsciously.
Li Wen simply regarded me with an unfathomable gaze.
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