28 With Beauty Comes Poison
Though I’ve always been afraid of the strange Jiao S, at the moment, I couldn’t help but feel worried for her.
I quickly returned to the school building. I’d arranged for Jiao S to have the room diagonally opposite mine and Nie Zun’s room. A long while after I hastily knocked on her door, it finally opened, and my eyes were greeted with Guan Nie’s alluring face. His eyelashes fluttered as if he hadn’t quite woken yet.
Damn it! This guy was beautiful beyond words. The world was really too unfair.
When he saw me staring at his face, he raised his eyes slightly and said, “Ugly girl, what are you doing in the middle of the night?”
Recalling my original purpose, I immediately asked, “Where’s Jiao S?”
Guan Nie rolled his eyes at me and turned, closing the door with him. He added faintly at the end, “Her room is next door!”
Had I recalled incorrectly?
I quickly moved to knock on the next door over. But even after a long time, there was no answer. A bad feeling flowed into my chest. I tried turning the door knob. With a creak, the door opened. I leaned forward into the pitch black room and walked inside.
The door closed behind me, taking with it the last sliver of light. Though the visibility radius allowed me to see, the room still felt very dark.
“Jiao S?” I looked over at the bunk bed. No one on the bottom. What about the top? I tiptoed to check. No one there either. Then I called out twice, but again, there was no reply.
I turned around, about to turn on the lights, when suddenly, I felt something grab my ankle. Because my split symbol was on my ankle, my feet were exceptionally sensitive. I immediately jumped into the air, which seemed to free me of their hold, and then I looked down.
It would’ve been better not to look. The scene caused me to jump back in fright. Jiao S looked to be sprawled on the floor behind the door. Lying there on the ground, in her school uniform, one of her hands kept trying to grasp onto me. Her uniform was soaked through with blood.
She lifted her head slightly, towards me. Her eyes were large and black, staring at me without even the slightest tremble. Her face was covered in blood, as was the rest of her body. A bloody path traced her crawl from the puddle of blood at the door over to my feet. She neither groaned nor gasped, just silently crawling over.
“You! You’re…” I cried out in alarm.
“Shh…” she commanded, signalling for me to stop shouting. But the action seemed to have been difficult for her. I immediately crouched down beside her.
“How did you get injured?” I looked at her body covered in blood, unsure where to hold her.
She lightly rested her head back on the floor, wanting to save some energy. “Help me up first. Over to the bed.” I nodded and quickly helped her up.
I couldn’t see a wound on her body, and yet, for some reason, blood kept seeping out from her skin. It was as if there was a layer of blood coating her skin.
Without care to the blood dirtying my clothes, I helped her over to the bed and let her lie down. As she lied down, I saw her frown slightly. I understood that kind of endurance; it must have been very painful.
“What happened? Was it Gaoqin Jiuye?” I crouched down by her bed and looked at her skin, still leaking blood.
Jiao S eyes trembled, and she quietly sighed, “No. We did run into each other, but nothing happened then.”
“Then, what’s going on here?”
For the first time, it seemed that a hint of distress crossed her eyes. “This scene must be very surprising for you. But for me, it’s already become commonplace.” Though I was very curious about her words, for the moment, I decided to stay silent.
She lied on the bed before me, quiet and still. Her expression and complexion looked lifeless, her eyes looked empty. “Do you know how I ended up here?”
I lowered my head, silent.
“I killed someone.” Her voice was faint, like a demon’s whisper, easily floating into my ears. I didn’t speak, but the slight tremble in my fingertips belied the change in my emotions.
“The pity is that she ended up living. I stabbed her so many times, but she still lived.” Jiao S didn’t sound like she was talking about killing a person, but rather retelling a warm story. “Now… She must be sitting at my bedside, scraping at my skin with a small knife, one cut at a time, causing this to happen.” She gently lifted a hand, watching the blood continue to flow out.
I frowed. “You’re saying that, this situation is happening, because someone is harming your physical body in the real world?”
She turned her head, and her neck cracked. “Yes. But these are small wounds, so she must be cutting me secretly. I can just imagine it—her back to my parents as she holds a small blade, gently marking my skin. Once, twice, three times…”
I couldn’t hold back any longer. I reached out and held her arm. “Don’t speak anymore.”
She glanced at me, seemingly a bit surprised.
I looked back at her. “It must hurt.”
A dim speck of light sparkled in her black eyes. “This small pain hardly feels like anything.”
I felt my palm slowly wet with her blood. “That’s true. Compared to the pain you’ve inflicted onto others, your pain should hardly be considered painful.”
I raised my head and made eye contact with her. “Jiao S, the first time I saw you was when you came to the Western District, when you tore apart that girl whom Li Qing greatly regarded. Do you remember her? Her name was Li Wen.”
I felt my palm gradually turn cold.
I’ll remember that scene forever. Li Wen was Li Qing’s favorite disciple. Li Wen always called Li Qing ‘Master.’ I’d heard that her name was bestowed onto her by Li Qing as well. Li Qing had said then, “I bestow this name to you, and so your life belongs to me. Before I command your death, you are not to die.” But Li Wen still went missing.
Before Li Qing died, I saw with my own eyes, Jiao S leading a large group of her S Clan into the Western District. They’d surrounded the girl in the district center, allowing Jiao S to tear her to pieces in front of the crowd. Jiao S had stripped her naked and then dismembered her over and over again, silently shaming her.
After that incident, Li Wen disappeared. And Li Qing hadn’t done anything to stop the attack.
I hated bloody scenes like that, scenes that seemed to put the darkness of human nature on display. That’s why, from that point forward, Jiao S became a demon in my mind.
I’m tired of all these demons attaching themselves to people, be it Jiao S, Nie Zun, or myself.
Jiao S hadn’t expected for me to bring up Li Wen so suddenly. The blood on her body seemed to have finally stopped spreading.
She nodded. “Li Wen, the woman whom Li Qing adored.”
I let go of her arm as my lips curved into a smirk. “So, of the pain you’ve suffered today, and the pain you had inflicted on her, which do you think is more painful?”
Jiao S’ eyes turned and she looked over me, seriously. Finally, she looked me in the eyes and said, “Do you hate me?”
I returned her stare and shook my head. “I don’t hate you. I simply don’t understand your cruelty.”
Li Wen had been a sweet and gentle girl. To everyone, her first impression had been that of a sweet, kind, smiling girl. A fine and good girl who lived in the world. When you saw her, you may not exclaim at her beauty, nor would you find her overbearing, but you would think she was a good person.
Once you saw how wonderful a person she was, how could you bear to watch her body be broken into pieces, like slabs of meat?
Jiao S suddenly smiled. Her face had always been stiff as a board before, so seeing her smile felt rather odd. “Li Shen, do you know this? Beautiful things are always carry poison. The more beautiful they are, the more poison they carry. The beautiful things you see may not genuinely be that beautiful. All good things are adorned with evil.”
Those were words that I could not dispute.
She continued, “I took note of you then, watching from among the shuddering crowd. Like everyone else, you looked at me with frightened eyes, and your body trembled from fear. But I saw something more in your eyes, that others lacked.”
Her eyes wandered. “A goodness. A cruel goodness, the kind that belonged in the Split Zone. I’d seen that look in another person’s eyes once before, and he became someone I’ll never be able to forget. Fortunately, you were a girl, otherwise you’d have become entangled with me for all of time.”
Her last line seemed to be a joke, and she had a childlike smile on her face. I was taken aback.
Jiao S suddenly sat up. “I’m going to wash this blood off of me. Don’t tell anyone about what happened today.”
She took a few steps, and then abruptly turned back around, a playful radiance in her eyes. “If you tell anyone, who knows, you might be the next one I tear to pieces.”
I wasn’t the slightest bit scared by her words. Rather, on the contrary, I found her a bit cute. I waved my hand, dismissing her and telling her to go wash. I won’t tell anyone.
Jiao S turned and looked at the bloodied floor. Her eyes swept the room, and then the air suddenly started hissing and cracking. The blood on the floor condensed together and then disappeared into the air.
After Jiao S walked into the bathroom, a knock suddenly came on the door. Since Jiao S didn’t come out to ask about it, I walked over to open the door myself. The door opened slowly, and then a carefree and indifferent face greeted me.
Nie Zun leaned against the door frame, a light smile on his face. “Done chatting? If you’re done, you should come back.”
I cast a sidelong glance. “What, you already miss me?”
Nie Zun’s lips opened gently, “It’s not so much that I miss you as it is that Yu Liang and Song Lu are missing.” He spoke as if he were telling a calm story, without emotion, without alarm. But I couldn’t remain so unaffected. When I heard his words, my eyes widened and I clutched my hands together tightly.