Chapter 295: Illusion in the Forest
Examining Deng Ximei’s sylphlike face, Gu Jun’s mind was frazzled. Illusions danced around the corner of his eyes. ‘Did we meet when we were children or she is just making up stories?’ He had read the stories that she wrote while in imprisonment, they were all fantastical stories based on her experience living in the countryside. The main characters were either plants or animals. They were extremely well-written so it suggested that the girl was a master story-teller, which Gu Jun had to be cautious about.
“Indeed, I do not remember much.” Gu Jun admitted. “It’s like someone has placed a lock on my memory.” He could not remember many details about his childhood before he was age 6 or 7. In terms of actual characters, other than his parents and the wilted faces from the Son of Misfortune evocation ritual, he could not remember any other person featured in his memory. He tried meditation and hypnosis but they were to no avail.
“Miss Deng, please tell me whatever it is that you remember.” Gu Jun said seriously.
“I can reveal to you some superficial impressions.” Deng Ximei replied evenly. “We knew each other when we were young, in fact we were quite close. But as you know, superficialities are often unreliable.”
“Is that so?” Gu Jun countered, “But how come you said you do not remember any other Spirit Children when Phecda conducted their investigation last year?”
“I did not wish to answer that question at the time.” Deng Ximei admitted but did not explain further. Gu Jun could sense her stubbornness, even now she held back information from him. Nonetheless, he had to push further, that was his purpose for being there. After getting a better read of this girl, he would hopefully know more about the other children and Lai Sheng Company. He felt a kinship with Deng Ximei but not from memory, instead that familiarity came from the sense that Gu Jun felt like he was staring at a mirror when he sat across from her.
Gu Jun hoped that would work to his advantage. Gu Jun was more predisposed to persuasion than interrogation... If Deng Ximei was someone like him, force and oppression were not going to get him anywhere. Only by showing her his sincerity that he could break through her mental walls.
“Miss Deng, how about we go out for a walk?” Gu Jun suggested. Anyone would feel distressed in the room being watched by so many cameras. Deng Ximei nodded silently. A smile softened her face or was that Gu Jun’s imagination?
Originally, the two Spirit Children’s first meeting was supposed to be closely monitored, a walk was definitely not part of the plan but Elder Tong knew how difficult Deng Ximei was to crack. Instead of getting nothing, he allowed Gu Jun to try his method. The permission was given mainly due to the trust placed in Gu Jun. So Gu Jun led Deng Ximei out of the interrogation room, and walked towards the nearby park. The other members tailed from a distance.
The night was dark with the streetlamps providing orbs of brightness. The leaves rustled in the wind. As they sauntered through the park, Gu Jun was suddenly reminded of a description from Deng Ximei’s writing, “The wind was travelling through. The wild grass waved in its trail as if urging the wind to bring them away on its journey. They wished to break through the imprisonment of the ground, despite knowing the risk that it would deplete them of their lives.” If one was to read from her writing, it featured themes where she fought against fate through her depiction of struggles in nature. This was noted by the Review Department who screened through her writing as well. It was why they were so confused about her, which fate was she fighting against? The fate of the common people or her own fate?
With her intellect, Deng Ximei knew that her writing would be closely deciphered, but she still wrote them down. Or was this a double subterfuge? With her brilliance, it was not impossible...
“I’ve read your writing, they are very good.” Gu Jun tried to forge a bond with her.
“Thank you... Writing is my only outlet when I miss life in the wild.” Deng Ximei nodded.
Based on her files, Deng Ximei claimed she spent her life from 7 years old to 20 years old growing up in the untamed wilds. Gu Jun commented, “Some belong in concrete jungle, while others in the real one. Despite the many inconveniences, I’m sure there are plenty of fun to be had in nature, yes?” Perhaps he was one of the latter too because the sense of illusion grew stronger when they left the interrogation room, or was it due to the company he had...
“There are plenty of both.” Deng Ximei said softly, “My parents were expert survivalists, they were the ones who taught me everything I know.” Gu Jun could detect the faded melancholy in her voice, she must have a good relationship with her parents... He said unprompted, “Actually I envy your relationship with your parents, mine was lost at sea when I was ten. It was probably the work of Lai Sheng Company.”
Deng Ximei turned to him and suddenly announced, “Mr. Gu, I too wish to destroy the Lai Sheng Company.” Gu Jun could read the determination in her eyes, and it excited his heart. “Actually I’ve been thinking about that since I approached Phecda.” As if moved by Gu Jun’s revelation, Deng Ximei added, “I know my captivity was due to the horrible consequences that I’ve caused from my unearthed memory. But I really did not wish for that to happen. I am not a member of the Lai Sheng Company, I too wish to destroy them, for myself, for my parents... for you and for other Spirit Children.” There was that moment where Gu Jun was touched and he believed her fully. This was because he shared in her emotions, the sting of loneliness, the helplessness from being suspected, the willingness to face tremendous danger...
“I do not know what else I can do but I just remembered a few new information about Lai Sheng Company.” Deng Ximei confessed. “I have not told them to anyone before but I will disclose all of it to you.”
“Miss Deng.” Gu Jun reached out his right hand, finally things were progressing. “I’m sure we can achieve our goal.”
Deng Ximei stared at him before finally reaching out to grab his hand. Suddenly the accumulated illusions caused Gu Jun’s head to spin. She was a medium, triggering an illusion. His grasp tightened as the image of Deng Ximei blurred, melting into the background of trees.
‘Is that a little girl?’ Gu Jun believed he saw a girl standing between the trees, no wait, there were other children around her...
All of a sudden, the image clarified. No, it was not a little girl but a young woman. Inside a desolate forest where the old trees twisted, he could see two figures lying on the forest ground carpeted with fallen leaves. The young woman’s gloved hands worked two nooses around the supine figures’ neck. She made sure to tighten the knot. Initially the two figures struggled with minor kicks but gradually their activities died down. After that, the young woman climbed onto the tree. She tossed the rope over a thick branch and jumped down, using the branch as a leverage to lift the two bodies into the air. The young woman looked serene and Gu Jun recognized her as Deng Ximei.
Gu Jun felt slammed into mentally as the illusion faded away. He took a deep breath as he turned to study the thin woman before him. He shrunk subconsciously backwards as anger lashed against his heart. It was her, she was the killer. She murdered her parents in cold blood and covered up her tracks.
“Miss Deng.” Gu Jun looked into her eyes while still holding onto her hand. His voice was hoarse as he got right to the point. “I just saw your parent’s death, and they are a bit different from what you described.”
Deng Ximei’s expression remained unchanged. She barely even blinked. She responded as if she predicted this. “That was merely the superficial impression. It is not the truth.”
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