300 The Past 2in1

    With regards to this video, Phecda communicated with FBM multiple times but the answer was always they were still checking the uploader's location. What did the video mean? What was its purpose? To taunt? To declare a war? After watching the video, Gu Jun felt extremely uneasy. Danger was imminent but he had no idea what form it would take.

    "I wish to have another conversation with Deng Ximei." He told Elder Tong. Gu Jun was desperate enough to talk to the girl to attempt to catch another break. Deng Ximei was still imprisoned at the Spell Department. Following Gu Jun's request, she was escorted to the foot of the hill beside the base. This was to be yet another private conversation between the two. After grabbing some stuff, Gu Jun headed to the meet up spot. When he arrived, Deng Ximei was already there. The place was peacefully serene. She stood next to a tree with the serenity around her reflecting on her face. The guards stood a distance away from the duo. Despite the location, the place was heavily guarded, so escape was impossible.

    "Miss Deng, please take a look at these." Gu Jun handed a stack of documents to her, "These are the wills of all the victims who have died in the legionella pneumonia epidemic." Deng Ximei looked at him before reaching out to take them. For the past 2 days, she was given permission to acquire some outside information so she had some brief ideas regarding the extent of the epidemic's damage.

    "The global fatality rate is over 2000000 people." Gu Jun said heavily. "If every victim was given a chance to write their will, we would be drowning in them. Honestly, I cannot tell what is really going through your mind but I implore you to consider the situation we're in and come to the right decision." Deng Ximei looked through the wills silently. When she reached the fourth will, something changed in her eyes. "I've watched the video before I came here, I believe it is the initiation of some kind of sacrificial ritual..."

    "Miss Deng," Gu Jun interrupted her, the most crucial problem now was to find out whether she was trustworthy or not. "Instead of the video, do you mind telling me everything from the start?"

    Deng Ximei looked up into the night sky. After a pause, she answered with a determination in her voice. "I can but I might succumb to insanity as an effect. It's an irreversible process so... good luck."

    "What do you mean by that?" Gu Jun asked with a frown. Weirdly enough, it did not sound like she was lying.

    "Gu Jun." Without looking at him, Deng Ximei continued as her voice hardened, "Back then, you were the only one who escaped. In fact, for so many years, you were the only one who managed to do that."

    Gu Jun's heart chilled. "You mean..."

    "Spirit barrier." Deng Ximei said apropos to nothing. She walked forward as the night breeze lifted her long black hair. "Once upon a time, there was a little girl who was trapped inside a small cage since she was born." She began, "She was forced to do things that she did not want to every day, but the girl knew a psychological technique from a different world. And she provided herself with the necessary succor to survive through it. She imagined for herself a different life, a different world, creating a spirit barrier so her sanity would remain intact."

    The meaning of her words seeped into Gu Jun's veins like ice. The whole background that Deng Ximei had constructed for herself was a kind of spirit barrier, essentially a sweet bubble that she resided in. Once she was forced to face the real truth, she would need to face her real self... And sometimes, the hardest thing to face in one's life was oneself. Once the spirit barrier was lowered, Deng Ximei might sink into a psychological whirlpool for her true self was created solely for the perpetuation of chaos and madness.

    "We can take this slowly." Gu Jun loosened a breath. It was not that he did not trust her but he did not want to push her to the brink.

    "No, you listen." Deng Ximei demanded, "This is a good season for change and time has come for me to wilt."

    "Wait a minute!" Gu Jun halted her again. He was suddenly reminded of something, "I might have a better idea." Other than the sweet dream forged with Lucky, he still had another empty sweet dream bubble. He intended to use it to build another bubble with Wu Siyu, it would help tremendously in their teamwork. However, a better use now presented itself. Furthermore, he could tell whether Deng Ximei was lying or not in the sweet dream bubble. Instantly, Gu Jun briefed Deng Ximei about the concept and asked for her sweetest dream.

    "My dream?" Deng Ximei was quiet for a moment before answering, "I suppose it'll be walking through a blooming season for every flower in the world among the mountains."

    "No problem, it's called a sweet dream bubble for a reason." Gu Jun held her hands and closed his eyes to focus. He was not fearful of her tricks for there were snipers watching them closely and he made sure to keep part of his consciousness alarmed... Perhaps due to the special bond between Spirit Children, the process of building Deng Ximei's sweet dream went very smoothly. Soon inside the small theatre, the only audience morphed into the lanky girl. Deng Ximei looked around and her expression lit up with surprise as she looked at the stage.

    "Miss Deng, can you feel it?" Gu Jun's voice echoed in the theatre. "This place can isolate out your consciousness so any impact on it will be minimized. I suppose you can view it as another version of the spirit barrier. Voice what is on your mind but do stop if you're feeling uncomfortable, I do not wish to see you lose your mind."

    "...Hmm." Deng Ximei was silent for a while before nodding. Her face changed due to the evocation of memory. At this place, Gu Jun could tune into the girl's melancholy and intractability clearly and got a sense of what she had been through...

    Deng Ximei looked at the blooming flowers on stage and continued her tale. She appeared to be sharing her tale with the flowers as well as with herself, the self who had hidden for so long within her self-constructed spirit barrier.

    "My name is Deng Ximei, the earliest memory I have was waking up inside a bandit's lair. I am a Spirit Child and I was surrounded by other Spirit Children. At the time we were too young to know what we were doing, we simply did what we were told.

    "Looking back, I realized these people never did consider the Spirit Children's future because the experiments conducted on us were filled with uncertainty. We are nothing but tools for them to abuse and sacrifice. Not every Spirit Children could be considered a qualified product, and even among the qualified ones, there was varying degree of success. You were the most successful one and I was one of the forgotten ones. You had given us language and with it, I offered them stories. This was a talent that I had since I was a child, I could write out poems and novels that once existed in the other world, bringing them a glimpse of the forgotten civilization.

    "We knew each other when we were children and we were especially close. Don't you remember the childish promises that we've made? Then again, that is probably a good thing because both of us fail to live up to fulfil any of them.

    "Not long after you left, I was led into the forest. At the time, I was only seven. I was trapped there to attach myself to nature. Apparently, I was an attempt to extend a Spirit Child's spirituality through isolation from the world. They hoped to get more stories out of me. Honestly, I do not dislike being in nature but I hated being around them. My parents... yes, they were my biological parents. Every Spirit Child has an identity in the foreign world, so I have another name, 'Lydia'. 'Miss Lydia' was how my parents referred to me. Actually for so many years, I've only seen them a few times. The older I got, the more knowledgeable I became and the more I suspected the things that were done to us. I started to question... their malice, madness and injury of the innocent...

    "But I have hidden all of these thoughts, I cannot allow the organization to discover them in me. I did not tell them about the spirit barrier, it was a layer of protection I have given myself. Due to my scepticism, my inspiration started to dry up, and the stories that I came up with became lifeless. One day last year, Lai Sheng Company decided that I've lived to my expiration date. But before disposing of me, they wished to enter and dig out anything valuable which was left in my mind. My mind would be hollowed out and I'd end up a lifeless husk. They sent out my parents to accomplish that mission. Since those two were my blood relations, we were innately spiritually close and even though they were my parents, I wouldn't put it past them to do something like that. After all, I was never a human in their eyes, I was merely a product.

    "They had my parents bring me on a 'vacation' but it was just a transfer to a different mountain. They wanted to use the privacy of the mountains and our close proximity to strengthen the bond. I did not mean for things to end up that way..."

    At this moment, Deng Ximei's emotions were greatly impacted. Cracks started to spread under her feet. It swiftly extended out to cover the whole theatre. The flowers on the stage wilted and the whole bubble started to shake. Gu Jun instantly had her stop because he could sense the authenticity in her tale. If not for the sweet dream bubble, the pain and the madness would be enough to shatter her spirit barrier and then swallow up her mind. Her mental defence was too fragile to stand up to the revelation.

    Gu Jun knew what happened that night but Deng Ximei insisted on continuing her story. Her face turned inscrutable due to the constant shifting of expressions. There was pain, loneliness, chill, elation, relief...

    "At the start, they were very kind and I tasted the sweetness of familial bond for the first time in my life but soon, as we started that bonding game, their malice reared its ugly head. They wanted to use spells to push my mind into the darkness. They assumed I would come up with more stories that way... But the bond went both ways, I also gleaned some information from their minds. Among them were Phecda, the communication bases and the coordinates that I remembered just not too long ago.

    "My spirit barrier saved me from the darkness. I did not fall into madness as they wanted but instead I have come to a decision. It was not a sudden urge nor would I claim that madness had overtaken me. To be perfectly honest, I had been contemplating that decision for a very long time. I have taken all factors into consideration before attempting it. I killed my own parents, I used the very ropes that they have prepared for me on them. Then I left the place, ran out of the mountains and right towards Phecda, towards my new life."


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