94 A Large-scale Negotiation
Ta Lai smiled as he interrupted Rong Jin’s antagonism towards Gaoqin Jiuye.
“It’s pointless to keep bickering or fighting. How about everyone be forthright about their goals, and we try to reach a solution after hearing what everyone has to say?”
Everybody quietened at once, probably since no one expected Ta Lai to say something like this.
I looked around and pondered for a moment before I spoke, “No matter what the dispute is between you guys, my goal is very clear. You Ji, get out of my Western District with your people, and I will not acknowledge you as someone from the Western District in future either. Apart from that, soul snatcher Rong Jin, I don’t know what you and Du Yue are plotting and aiming for with this experiment, but know that as long as you hurt my people in the Western District, I will not let you get away. Please return Yu Liang to me as well, and I’ll not give up in my search for Laurel and Song Lu either.”
You Ji smirked. “You really thought I was interested in your position of Western District Commander? Your friends are people, how about mine? The Seven Demons are nowhere to be found in this pile of rubble, and you think I would leave things like this without finding out where they went?”
Rong Jin continued, “Crazy girl, I can begrudgingly accept that Song Lu is not with you. But you have to explain what happened here in the Western District. As for Yu Liang, I regret to inform you that I’m not aware of the situation nor am I interested in it. I only focus on things I am interested in, and like Ta Lai said, since we’re trying to reach a mutual understanding here, I shall not make things too difficult for you. I just want to take that stone statue with me.”
Dream on! Ha, I sneered inwardly and raised my brows, not bothering to give a reply.
You Ji promptly added, “Just taking Old Man Fan is not enough. Li Shen, you best come clean with me. What sorcery did you use and where did you take my Seven Demons?!”
My heart sank. I too want to know what exactly happened in the Western District!
Tired of squabbling, I just looked at Ta Lai.
Ta Lai nodded at me, and addressed the rest, “Everyone’s goal is clear now. After Gaoqin Jiuye arrived, he didn’t ask how the Western District turned into a pile of rubble. This means that Gaoqin Jiuye’s goal is simply to take Rong Jin with him, is that right?”
Gaoqin Jiuye sniggered menacingly. “That’s right, I don’t care about what happened here, nor whatever you want to investigate. I am only here on Si Luo’s orders to bring Rong Jin with me.”
His gaze seemed to briefly sweep past me when he spoke.
My heart hurt slightly. When Gao Qi was alive, he was proud, free and unbridled. But you, Gaoqin Jiuye, Si Luo is your only reason for existence. Apart from your looks, seems like you are nothing like Gao Qi!
Seeing some sort of resentment from my gaze, Gaoqin Jiuye seemed bemused.
Ta Lai nodded. “Gaoqin Jiuye wants to take Rong Jin with him, and Rong Jin, you want to take the stone sculpture with you, while You Ji wants to find out what exactly happened in the Western District. Let me tell all of you clearly now, we truly do not know what happened here.”
You Ji gritted her teeth and looked at me with vengeful eyes, before asking, “Ta Lai, as a soul splitter, why are you helping Li Shen?”
I shot a cold look at her. You Ji, do you just hate it that people are on my side?
Ta Lai smiled. “Not only am I helping her, I‘ll tell all of you plainly that this experiment of yours will definitely fail. I will stop Du Yue, and it doesn’t matter what you and Rong Jin’s goal is. My advice is not to get involved with Du Yue, and if you insist on participating in her absurd acts, I am not going to sit back and ignore it.”
“Also,” Ta Lai swiftly turned to Gaoqin Jiuye. “Gaoqin Jiuye, would you tell me what’s happening with Si Luo?”
Gaoqin Jiuye’s expression changed.
The dark shadow also stopped moving suddenly.
Ta Lai continued with a smile, “Is there a need to keep it from me? Du Yue has already gone to look for him on her own, and he hasn‘t appeared for a while. If I were to guess, something must have happened to him. How about sharing this information, on what actually happened to Si Luo, and we can work together to think of a solution.”
The dark shadow remained still.
Gaoqin Jiuye’s eyes darkened. “Si Luo’s condition seems to be worsening. We’re not sure why, but it could be because of his body in the real world.”
The dark shadow shuddered. “You…”
Gaoqin Jiuye shot a dispassionate look at Rong Jin. “He will find out sooner or later.”
Ta Lai’s eyes brightened. “You’re saying that, Si Luo is now showing symptoms we’ve previously only ever heard about?”
“That’s right,” Gaoqin Jiuye nodded. “Before we find out the reason to this and a solution, I will not allow anyone to try and hurt him or jeopardise the Southern District!”
After speaking, his eyes swept past Rong Jin momentarily.
Rong Jin burst out laughing. “I think you are the one hankering for the Southern District and trying to hurt him!”
Gaoqin Jiuye did not speak.
Ta Lai’s eyes were shining brightly as he said, “So it’s like this, I understand now. Du Yue sought him out as she probably wanted to get some information from him. This sounds like what she’ll do. But if this were the case, what I don’t get is why you, Rong Jin, joined forces with Du Yue when you’ve always been loyal to Si Luo?”
I turned to look back at Nie Zun. It was obvious I could not do much in this situation, and Nie Zun seemed to be concentrating while looking into the distance. I am sure he was listening intently to the conversation.
The ghostly shadow did not reply.
“I know why he is doing this.”
Hearing the familiar, hoarse voice, I looked up in surprise!
As expected, Jiao S was walking towards us unhurriedly. Jie Pa and the three masked men in white wearing bamboo hats followed behind her.
As she slowly walked towards us, a black layer seemed to cover the grey sky, and it became dark in an instant.
It was night.
Visibility shrunk to 10 square meters, and the dark shadow was nowhere to be seen as it blended into the night.
Jiao S walked into my vision field, and her sudden appearance crowded out my vision slightly.
Walking with a steady pace, she finally stopped beside me, with Jie Pa and the bamboo hat trio.
She flashed a stiff smile at me, and I was put at ease immediately. She is telling me that she has some results.
Rong Jin’s shrill ghostly voice rang out in the darkness, “Jiao S, you linger around even more so than Gaoqin Jiuye. Why aren’t you chasing after Si Luo?”
Jiao S gave a rigid and savage smile. “No need for you to fret.”
I hastily asked, “What did you mean by that?”
Jiao S spoke steadily, “Ta Lai, you might not be familiar with me, but I know some things about you. On behalf of the Soul Snatcher, I can answer your question for him. The soul snatcher, Rong Jin, simple-mindedly thought Du Yue’s experiment could provide a way to save Si Luo, so he thought he was helping Si Luo. However, in reality, he was merely used by Du Yue.”
I frowned. “You saw Du Yue?”
“No,” Jiao S said, shaking her head. “I just thoroughly investigated all that happened, and the clues led me to this. I haven’t seen Ta Lai before either.”
The ghostly voice sounded again, “You mean to get involved in this complex situation while solely relying on these guesses and your deduction? Jiao S, you are still as annoying as before!”
Ta Lai cut Rong Jin off, smiling, “Jiao S, I know you, the Eastern District Commander. I too know some things about you. Please continue, I’d like to hear what you have to say.”
It was apparent that Ta Lai was not civil with Rong Jin as he said this, and although the shadow cannot be seen, Rong Jin did not speak further. He seemed to start dreading Ta Lai.
Jiao S nodded stiffly. “Firstly, since Si Luo’s situation is no longer a secret, I would not need to hide it further. Yes, I did receive news that Si Luo’s body had started to deteriorate, something never before seen in the Split Zone. Normally, this will not happen to people in the Split Zone, and his body in the real world is still fine. This then became a mystery. For now, I want to ask, who are all of you people and what are your identities? Shouldn’t all of you be frank and come clean?”
At this point, Jiao S seemed to be rather amused, and her keen gaze brushed past Gaoqin Jiuye and Ta Lai.
Ta Lai smiled as he said, “I’m a soul splitter, you should know that.”
Jiao S had a sinister smile on her face. “From that black hole above the Northern District’s Great Hall?”
Ta Lai remained smiling while he asked, “Who told you that?”
Jiao S’s expression changed. It looked like she did not want to speak about this, but I knew who it was. This was what Li Wen told the few of us back then, when she said the black hole above the Northern District’s Great Hall was the world of the soul splitters.
“Li Wen,” Jiao S begrudgingly said the words in the end.
Ta Lai remained indifferent. “Her again. Seems like she’s hiding many things…”
Ta Lai looked down briefly, as if in deep thought, and lifted his head again to speak, “I know what you’re trying to get at. Yes, just as you had no significant reason to keep Si Luo’s situation a secret, I don’t have any significant reason to hide it either. Gaoqin Jiuye and Rong Jin, both of you don’t mind that I reveal Si Luo’s secret, right?”
Rong Jin’s voice did not sound in the darkness, but a gust of wind blew past me, lifting a little corner of my dress.
There seemed to be something different in Gaoqin Jiuye’s eyes, and he tilted his head to look at me. I looked back in confusion, not able to understand what he was trying to say.
“That’s right, Si Luo is just like me, we are soul splitters,” Ta Lai said.
As if satisfied that what she predicted had now come true, Jiao S breathed a sigh of relief.
But I was dumbstruck. This was something I could not wrap my head around. Si Luo is a soul splitter too?