40 He's Not Gao Qi
I tried shouting again. And again, there was no response. I'd never come across a situation like this before.
Turning to Gaoqin Jiuye, I asked, "How long ago did Si Luo discover he couldn't make contact?"
Suddenly, a fear came over me. It wasn't because I was a coward, but all the events that had occurred seemed to hint at an imminent disaster. This disaster wouldn't just be a setback or a difficulty. This disaster would be an inevitable, unescapable punishment from the heavens that we would all be forced to bear.
My intution has always been accurate. Though I may not know what these bad omens mean precisely, I do know that I'm very frightened of what's to come.
One day, many years later, I would recall this day, and I would regret it. I should have avoided the disaster when faced with it. Like I always had before, I should have avoided it, instead of charging forward bravely.
But in that moment, I couldn't predict what lied ahead in the future. Instead, I said, "So what should we do now? It seems our only option is to turn over all of the Southern District to find any other experiment sites. But before Si Luo appears, it probably wouldn't be good for us to act unscrupulously, right? Gaoqin Jiuye, are you truly planning to continue hiding Si Luo from us?"
A dejected expression appeared on his face. "I cannot—No matter what else happens, I cannot bring you to Si Luo."
"That's enough, Gaoqin Jiuye!" Jiao S suddenly shouted out, enraged. "Without Si Luo, can we resolve this situation? Even if you can, do you think that by hiding him away like this, Si Luo will be safe?"
Gaoqin Jiuye shot her a cold look. And suddenly, a deathly aura permeated the air. He shouted, "Jiao S, don't act like you're infallible! No matter how much you may know about Si Luo's situation, remember that it has nothing to do with you! I will protect Si Luo! You don't need to get involved!"
A ruthlessness showed in his eyes. "Moreover, how can I be sure that all of this isn't part of one of your plots? Who knows if you're the one who planned all of this, just to draw out Si Luo. But I'm afraid you've wasted your efforts. Jiao S, listen clearly. No matter what you do, Si Luo will never be attracted to you! It's impossible between the two of you!"
I couldn't help feeling shocked at his cold, resolute words.
"It's impossible between the two of you!"
"Li Shen, it's impossible between the two of you!"
The words once spoken to me echoed in my ears again. I looked at the person before me, who looked exactly like Senior Gao Qi. Seeing the gentlest and warmest person I'd known suddenly speak so firmly, my body subconsciously stepped forward.
I walked up to Gaoqin Jiuye. The audience around me looked somewhat startled, as if watching a person who'd been possessed. But Gaoqin Jiuye, instead of looking surprised at my strange behaviour, continued to look at me with his chilly expression.
When I finally stood in in front of him, I raised my head and looked at his face, imagining that it wasn't stiff and cold. I imagined that there wasn't cruelty and ruthlessness in his eyes. I imagined that his lips, that spoke with the world's most enchanting voice, hadn't just sharply attacked another.
I felt my eyes grow moist.
"Li Shen, you and he will never be together."
The voice echoed in my head. Like a child praying to heaven, tears streaming down my face, I looked up at Gaoqin Jiuye.
He finally looked a bit shaken. Confusion and suspicion crossed his eyes. But there was also a kind of helplessness...and sympathy? Was I mistaken?
I continued to stare into his eyes, motionless.
This was how charming he was. I couldn't look away; I wanted him to be completely mine.
Mine? Why should you have him? You didn't have him enough yet?
You killed him!
No, no. He didn't die. Isn't he here, right in front of my eyes?
There seemed to be another voice inside my head.
"Heh. Gaoqin Jiuye, do you really enjoy tempting people this much? You must, don't you?" While I'd been distracted, Guan Nie had walked over to me, his gown swaying with each step. His beautiful eyes were locked on Gaoqin Jiuye as he spoke.
Suddenly, I felt my thoughts clearing up.
God, what was I just doing? How could I have been so entranced that I stared at Gaoqin Jiuye like that? He's not Gao Qi!
Feeling a bit embarrassed, I quickly moved away from Gaoqin Jiuye. As I hurried away, I glanced at Nie Zun. There was a strange gloominess in his eyes that I couldn't understand. It felt like I was never able to understand his expressions.
Gaoqin Jiuye turned to the side slightly, as if unwilling to face Guan Nie straight on. Instead of answering Guan Nie's nonsensical question, he turned to Jiao S. "I will, to my utmost ability, uncover the truth. However, I won't be allowing you to meet with Si Luo. I still hold my suspicions about you. But I will make things clear."
His remarks seemed to be a move to wrap up this talk. He essentially agreed that that situation was suspicious, and he offered to help us investigate.
Jiao S had remained motionless since his jeering remarks earlier. Now, the crackling of her turning neck sounded. "Since you refuse to allow me to meet Si Luo, we should start investigating these things. But you'll have to bring out the soul snatcher, Rong Jin. You can do that, at least, can't you?"
Seeing Jiao S compromise, I let out a relieved sigh. For some reason, I didn't like watching everyone make Gaoqin Jiuye out to be the enemy. Even though we're not from the same group, in our situation, fighting amongst ourselves wouldn't help us at all.
Gaoqin Jiuye suddenly laughed without restraint. "I rarely interract with that illusionist and soul snatcher, so naturally, I don't know there whereabouts either. I'm starting at the same point as all of you, so let's just search together."
Jiao S was unexpectedly compliant. "Okay. With how arrogant you are, it would be true that you don't end up interacting with many people. Then, for now, we'll remain in the Southern District, and you'd best stay with us while we investigate."
I suddenly thought of something, and I probed, "Speaking of... Gaoqin Jiuye, do you know how to travel across the South-North border?"
Everyone was quiet, and everyone seemed surprised that I would ask such a question.
Gaoqin Jiuye scoffed. "Traveling across the border? I don't know about that, but you shouldn't spend so much time worrying about impossible things as that. I don't care about the blond's disappearance. I am only responsible for the Southern District."
Then he walked towards the window. "You should stay here. I'll check the news going around. Before I return, I hope you won't make any moves. Since we've agreed to cooperate, we should discuss our plans together." It wasn't a request as much as a warning.
After he finished speaking, he jumped out the window.
Guan Nie's eyes lit up. As he watched Gaoqin Jiuye's disappearing figure, he said, "You all discuss. Same as before, when you've decided what you're doing, have my pet let me know."
Seeing Guan Nie about to start tailing Gaoqin Jiuye, Jiao S grabbed him. "Don't do anything to him. Got it?"
Guan Nie gave a sidelong glance. "Yeah, got it."
Jiao S stared at Guan Nie's face, before finally releasing him. And then Guan Nie's white robe floated out the window.
"Ms Ah Shen, you should rest. Your hand hasn't healed completely yet, so you should be resting more these few days. It won't be easy to uncover the truth here, and rushing will do us no good. We need to make sure that we're strong first," Jie Pa urged.
Jie Pa was right. I nodded in agreement. "Don't worry, I'll be sure to rest."
Jie Pa walked over to Song Lu. "Ms Song Lu, I'll have to inconvenience you to stay with me for a few days. I can't be certain if your body will have any reactions, so I'll need to test your blood again."
Song Lu nodded. I signaled to Song Lu, and after her eyes met mine, she left with Jie Pa to their room.
As Jiao S left, she walked past me and glanced over. Her expression was unreadable as she said, "Gaoqin Jiuye is most definitely not a nice guy. You'd do well not to get involved with him."
Her coarse voice was usually emotionless, but for some reason, I thought I heard some concern in her voice. So I responded with a slight smile.
The room was empty but for Nie Zun and me. He leaned lazily against the wall, with his hands in his pockets. His eyes swept around the room, not looking at anything in particular.
I felt a bit tired, so I returned to the bed and quietly lied down. Nie Zun remained leaning on the wall. After everyone left, he hadn't spoken a word.
I glanced at him, and finally asked, "What's... What's going on under your gloves? You can't touch anything?"
I recalled the times that Mi Fu and the bald boy touched his hands; their faces had been filled with terror. And then I recalled that when I fell down while we were in the stone room, he hadn't helped me with his bare hands.
Nie Zun's hair blocked his eyes from my view. Quiet and unhurrieed, he said, "If that's the case, what of it?"
Nie Zun felt a bit different today. I sat up and looked at him. "What's wrong?"
I turned around to the window for a look, startled to see that the sky outside was already dark. Had I been in a trance for that long during the day?
Nie Zun's clear voice came from behind me. "Li Shen, he's Gaoqin Jiuye, not the Gao Qi you killed."
My back was facing him. In the darkness, I bit my lip.
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