QZ Chapter 18
Quality Checker: Isalee
First Published on Ainushi.
“Dr. Yao!” Medical personnel rushed over from other locations. All of them were waiting for her instructions.
But she only waved her hand. “Initiate a lockdown immediately. All of you, split up and search for him.”
After dismissing the group of people, Yao Tai strode toward Ping Zong.
Of all people present, Ping Zong was the most disturbed. Ever since he heard the news about Lan Sheng’s disappearance, he had been standing there bewildered. Even as he watched Yao Tai walking toward him, his mind was in a tizzy—unable to make out a single thought.
“Close your eyes,” said Yao Tai as she pressed on his shoulders. “Focus.”
Ping Zong followed her words and closed his eyes, but his concern for Lan Sheng clouded his mind. He just couldn’t focus successfully.
Yao Tai talked slowly. Her voice was so gentle that it almost sounded like some kind of hypnosis, forming a distinct contrast with the pressing situation at the moment.
“Feel his position.”
Ping Zong tried to think toward the direction she was guiding him, but he was still repelled by Lan Sheng’s mental barrier. The other person’s resistance was even stronger than he had expected. Ling Xiao felt like he could feel Ping Zong’s conflicting emotions just by looking at his face. He wished he could do it for him.
Compared to him, Ying Feng was much calmer. From Yao Tai’s words, he learned for the first time that Qizhu’s mental force could spread to such an extent. No wonder it was said that Qizi had no freedom at all.
His eyes shifted from Ping Zong to Ling Xiao. The former was still struggling to make a decision, while the latter stood nervously on the side—his brows were tightly furrowed and his fists were firmly clenched as if he was actually the one exerting the force.
Yao Tai was still guiding him, “Slowly concentrate inwards, onto yourself. Feel his position.”
Ping Zong shook his head painfully and opened his eyes, “I can’t do it.”
“You can, you must,” Yao Tai kept her pace as she spoke, “You’re his Qizhu. This is your privilege. You must stay determined and resolute. Don’t let his feelings influence you.”
Ping Zong had no choice but to close his eyes once again. From time to time, he would frown or shake his head. Minutes slowly tickled by, but there was still no progress at all.
Watching Ping Zong, Ling Xiao felt breathless with anxiety. Abruptly, Yao Tai’s soft tone turned harsh, taking everyone by surprise.
“Hurry up! If you can’t find him, he’ll die!”
Ping Zong suddenly opened his eyes, “Roof! He’s on the rooftop!”
Everyone thought Lan Sheng had run away, but it turned out he was actually on the rooftop. Ling Xiao was the first one to dash out after hearing where Lan Sheng was, and abreast of him was Ying Feng, whose speed was as fast as Ling Xiao’s. As the person most desperate to see Lan Sheng, Ping Zong was left far behind by everyone else because his body still hadn’t completely recovered yet.
Ling Xiao arrived at the rooftop first, but when he saw the scene in front of his eyes, his heart almost jumped out of this throat. Lan Sheng was standing on the edge of the high wall. Just one more step forward and his life would be over.
His clothes were flapping wildly in the wind, his body swaying with the breeze. Everyone stopped simultaneously for the fear that the sound of their next step would cause him to accidentally fall off the edge.
Ping Zong was the last one to arrive. His line of sight was blocked by the people in front of him, so he anxiously attempted to push away Ling Xiao and Ying Feng. However, those two people stood even closer to each other. They refused to budge so much as an inch as if their feet were rooted to the ground, trying to push back the arrival of truth for as long as they could.
The noise they made alarmed Lan Sheng. He quietly cast a glance back at them. Ling Xiao’s pupils constricted violently. Like a negative being exposed, this glance burned so deeply into his heart that he would carry the scar forever.
That was not the Lan Sheng he knew. Every bit of vitality in this person was lost together with the black pigment in his eyes.
From this glance alone, he clearly realized that Lan Sheng really wanted to die. Not even one word Yao Tai said in Ping Zong’s sickbed was an exaggeration just to scare them.
Stupefied by this realization, Ling Xiao felt his legs become unsteady. He was immediately pushed to the side by Ping Zong. As a result, the same scene also revealed itself to Ping Zong.
As if he was woken by it, Ling Xiao turned his head, and shouted nervously, “Ping Zong!”
However, he was left speechless after those two words. He had no idea what to do next.
After all, Yao Tai had experienced this kind of event more than once, and therefore she was much calmer than the other three Nestlings here. She took a step backward in silence and secretly requested help from colleagues through her personal terminal without showing anything on her face, hoping that they could arrive in time for the rescue.
Right at this moment, she heard Ping Zong’s voice.
“Lan Sheng,” His voice was horribly shaky, “I didn’t mean to fight back. I was really out of control, and I too have no idea what was going on. Can you trust me, please?”
“He’s telling the truth,” Ling Xiao immediately chimed in. “The truth is nothing like what Dr. Zhi Shang told us. He lied to us. Ping Zong is a victim too. Actually, everyone will be forced to fight during Adult Ceremony. It’s fine if you refuse to believe anyone else, but how can you not trust Ping Zong? He once so sincerely wanted to offer you his heart-tip blood. Do you really think this unexpected turn in the end was something he hoped to see?”
Their words couldn’t stir Lan Sheng’s heart at all. An almost mechanical voice came through the wind into everyone’s ears.
“The result is already finalized. Would it make any difference whether it was done unintentionally or not?”
That was definitely not the Lan Sheng that Ling Xiao was familiar with. The person Ling Xiao knew would never say these words to Ping Zong. Even though he had a sharp tongue and had been a jinx all these years, he would never speak so coldly to the person he loved.
At this moment, Ling Xiao finally understood what the mental disorder caused by the hormone imbalance that Yao Tai talked about was like. It was enough to transform a person into someone else, blind his heart, manipulate his actions, and even destroy his feelings.
“Can you come down first? Then we can take our time to talk about it.” Ping Zong was still trying to persuade him, “Dr. Yao said you are just having a temporary hormone disorder right now. If we can stay together for just 72 hours, your mental state will return to normal. Don’t do anything stupid at this moment, please!”
“Telling him this is useless now,” Yao Tai whispered rapidly behind him, “His current mental state makes him unable to communicate like an ordinary person. He won’t listen to anything you say.”
Ping Zong paused for a second. He obviously hesitated.
“Use the method I’ve taught you. This is your only way out now. If you want him to stay alive, you must control his mind. There’s no other choice!”
“Lan Sheng!” Ping Zong called again. He was unwilling to give up.
Yao Tai couldn’t pin her hopes on his indecisiveness anymore, and Ling Xiao’s nervousness was not any less than Ping Zong’s. She had to signal Ying Feng with her eyes. The other person understood at once. Decreasing the range of their movement as much as they could, the two of them went around from two different directions and tried to slowly approach Lan Sheng who was on the fence.
Now, Yao Tai could only hope that Ping Zong and Ling Xiao could buy them as much time as possible.
“Lan Sheng, do you still remember that Dr. Yao and Dr. Zhi Shang once said that any two people, as long as their hearts are equal, then so will their status be? I don’t know why things have turned out the way they did, but what I can guarantee is that, whatever you promised to me before, I can promise them to you as well. If neither of us abuse our rights, why do you have to care so much about what identities we have?
“Lan Sheng, I can ensure you that I will love you, respect you, and protect you with the rights and abilities I have obtained, that I will never use Qizhu’s status to oppress you in my life. Our relationship will be just like before. Nothing will change. I beg you, not as your Qizhu, but as your spouse, I beg you to please come down, all right?”
——I will offer my heart-tip blood voluntarily and become his Qizi in this life.
——I will also protect him with the rights and ability I have obtained, and never use Qizhu’s status to oppress him in my life.
Every word Ping Zong said was what Lan Sheng had said to him in the past. Those words once steadied his resolution to spend the rest of his life with this person so much that he would not even hesitate to voluntarily offer his heart-tip blood. However, the exact same words could not move the person before him in the slightest. No matter how hard Ping Zong tried to touch his emotions, his expression stayed indifferent.
“Dr. Yao and Dr. Zhi Shang said that as long as two people’s hearts were equal, so would their status be.” Lan Sheng slowly turned around. Every bit of his movement made people hold their breaths.
“But they also said that Dr. Zhi Shang voluntarily offered his heart-tip blood on the Adult Ceremony, and he never regretted it.”
Yao Tai’s face tensed as she heard these words.
“Which one should I believe?” asked Lan Sheng. “Dr. Yao lied to me, Dr. Zhi Shang lied to me, and even you have lied to me.”
“I…” Ping Zong wanted to explain, but he was unable to refute the facts staring him in the face.
“For so many years, I’ve been flaunting myself as your protector, and I was even proud about it. Thank you for gratifying my vanity for so long. My doubt only lasted for a second, and that was when you blocked Ling Xiao’s attack. If it was me, I definitely couldn’t have accomplished it without being hurt. I’m afraid that Ling Xiao also found out about it long ago.
“Even a person as obtuse as him could tell you had been humoring me all these years. Now that I think about it, I am actually the most stupid one out of us three. I always believed myself to be so capable, while in fact, I am good for nothing…”
“You’re not!” Ping Zong retorted vehemently, “I’ve never thought like that!”
“All the Adults lied to us, my best friend has been hiding things from me, and even my beloved one cannot be trusted.”
“Stop saying stupid things, okay?” Ling Xiao was so mad that he started to ramble, “If you want to talk about hiding, you hid the fact from me that you two were dating for three years. Have I said anything about it? Who was the one that said to become Qizhu or Qizi would be decided through sheer ability? Even if those lies didn’t exist, by the time the Adult Ceremony starts, you are still going to lose, and you are still going to become Qizi. How is the result going to be any different from today’s?”
“He’s right,” Lan Sheng admitted it as if it was but a trivial matter. “I lost to you in the Adult Ceremony due to my own incapability. I shouldn’t blame you for it.
“But I can’t accept this kind of ‘me’. I can’t accept myself living on as a loser.”
“You’re not a loser!” Ping Zong couldn’t stand it anymore and roared, “Back then when I willingly decided to be your Qizi, you didn’t see me as a loser either, did you?”
“It’s true that I said those words to you, and I really did mean it. I still love you even now. It’s just that I can’t identify with myself. Thank you for tolerating me for so many years. I’m very sorry that I’ve been a burden to you in this life. In the next life… No, I’m afraid there might not be a chance for me to make up for it even in my next life.”
Lan Sheng’s voice sounded as calm as tranquil water, “Goodbye, Ping Zong.”
In the end, he glanced at Ling Xiao who was standing next to Ping Zong. Without any hesitation, he leaned backwards, his hand sketching an arc in the air.
Ling Xiao rushed to the edge of the wall desperately. Yao Tai and Ying Feng, who were closer than him, had already thrown themselves at Lan Sheng from both sides. Yao Tai missed, while Ying Feng was lucky enough to get hold of a corner of Lan Sheng’s sleeve. But the area was too small to support Lan Sheng’s weight, he was still slipping down slowly.
Ling Xiao didn’t even think about it before he grabbed Ying Feng’s hand and started to pull him up. He reached out with his other hand, trying to grab Lan Sheng, whilst turning back and yelling anxiously at Ping Zong who was still nailed to the spot, “What are you doing over there? Come over and help!”
Yao Tai smoothly jumped over the fence. She grabbed the edge of the wall with one hand and reached out the other hand towards Lan Sheng who was now hanging in mid-air, trying to pull him up.
“Watch out!” Ling Xiao’s eyes were sharp enough to see Lan Sheng drawing out the dagger from his waist and stabbing it towards Yao Tai, who was also hanging outside the wall. Yao Tai’s body swayed a little from dodging and she almost released grip. So Ling Xiao had no choice but to let go of Ying Feng and pull her up.
Right at that moment, the dagger in Lan Sheng’s hand changed direction abruptly. With a sudden ripping sound, he cut off the piece of cloth ruthlessly. The weight on Ying Feng’s hand suddenly disappeared, and the three of them could only stare blankly as Lan Sheng fell straight down.
“Lan Sheng!” Ling Xiao let out a heartrending cry, and at the same time, an enormous white light flashed by. Ling Xiao had a hallucination and saw Ping Zong suddenly appearing next to Lan Sheng who was falling rapidly. He gently embraced him, and the speed they were falling at became slower and slower. In the end, they both landed safe and sound.
Yao Tai pulled herself up with her right hand and jumped back onto the rooftop. When Ling Xiao turned back, Ping Zong was already nowhere to be found.
“Wh-what’s going on?” Ling Xiao had a bad feeling. He looked at Yao Tai again. The latter turned away her head, and she closed her eyes that were overflowing with grief and lament as though she didn’t have the heart to watch anymore.
Ling Xiao asked with a trembling voice, “Dr. Yao…”
“In the end, he was still able to grasp one of Qizhu’s abilities,” Yao Tai softly said to herself, “an ability that can only be used once in a lifetime, the ultimate, and also the most powerful ability.”
“Could it be…?”
“Life Exchange. That is what a Qizhu’s supreme authority is.”
On the ground far below them, soberness gradually returned to Lan Sheng’s eyes. Just that there was an incomprehensible perplexity mixed within it.
“Ping Zong, your body…”
Ping Zong’s body was already starting to turn transparent. “Lan Sheng, I remember you saying that a life was a life, that you would not place your hopes in the imaginary next life. Should misfortune befall us, and force me to leave you first, you would still keep on living alone while cherishing your memories of me.”
He gently caressed the other person’s cheeks, but all Lan Sheng could feel was a strand of smoke. “As usual, you are such a jinx.”
Countless sparkling facula sprung up around his body. They became brighter and brighter, and their numbers gradually increased. In the end, they coagulated into a blue light globe, glittering with almost dazzling rays of light.
Lan Sheng reached out, but all he could grasp was nothingness.
Early morning that day, all the Bikong people who got up early saw with their own eyes an azure light ball rising from the medical building. It passed through layers of clouds, flew towards the direction of the Soul Lighthouse, and never returned.