Li Yao’s face seemed to indicate that a venomous scorpion had stung his bottom. He jumped to his feet in astonishment. Rubbing his hands and brimming with curiosity, he asked, “Come on. Brother Guo. Tell me your story! You didn’t know that all the time, did you?”
Guo Chunfeng wiped his face hard and managed a smile that was even uglier than when he was crying. Holding the bucket, he said, “Of course I didn’t, or I wouldn’t be Abyss. I didn’t know anything… until a night three months ago!
“Before that night, I had always thought that I was a human Cultivator named ‘Guo Chunfeng’. My past was simple and clear like the ink on a piece of paper, and my present was full of delight and satisfaction despite the troubles. If possible, I wished that my life went on just like that. I didn’t need any change for my future!
“My name was Guo Chunfeng. My hometown was the Grand Desolate Plateau. My parents were both Cultivators. When I was young, my hometown encountered a large-scale beast tide and was ruined. My parents and other family members all passed away in the fierce fight, but I lived on, with the deepest hatred against the demon race. After moving to multiple places, I grew up and joined the Secret Sword Bureau, where I received the harshest training and carried out the most dangerous tasks. Eventually, I was promoted to the supervisor of the Demon Execution Division of the Secret Sword Bureau with the heads of thousands of demons!
“I didn’t remember too much about my hometown and my parents. If I thought about it too hard, I would have a strong headache. I asked a lot of brain surgeons and Meditation Healers to examine me. They told me that it was because I was too traumatized in the beast tide and my brain automatically erased the terrible memories in case my soul was heavily wounded again.
“It was a perfectly normal phenomenon. Many war orphans that experienced beast tides had similar symptoms. Even many adults had short-time amnesia after the terrifying beast tides!
“I was good at the techniques of all four fields myself. I had a profound understanding about the development of the brain and the arts of meditation. I knew that the doctors and the Meditation Healers were not wrong. Such amnesia did not have satisfactory treatments. Also, it didn’t really affect my life. Therefore, I didn’t think too much of it but simply brought out the photos of my parents and myself when I was young and imagined a childhood based on the mottled memory pieces in my head to comfort myself.
“All in all, I didn’t feel the slightest doubt about my identity as a human being before three months ago, and I hated the demons’ guts! As the supervisor of the Demon Execution Division, I’d seen too much damage caused by the demons. For both the national interest and my personal grudge, I believed that the evil demons needed to be annihilated as a whole!
“Hehe, if it weren’t for the prudence in my nature which made me reject Lu Zui’s offer out of habit, I perhaps would’ve joined the Patriots Partnership, too!
“But then, one night, three months ago…”
The muscles on Guo Chunfeng’s face were twisting. With a half confused and half horrified expression, he mumbled, “I clearly remember that it was several days after the assault on the capital city took place. The whole capital city was still in chaos, and the curfew was still in effect. The best forces of the police department and the military were stationed in the key nodes, while the operation squads of the Secret Sword Bureau were searching for the demons who were on the run or lurking citywide.
“That night, we discovered a heavily wounded demon king by scanning the demonic energy. After a fierce fight, we slew him successfully!
“I hadn’t slept for days. After the fierce fight, I felt that I was fatigued and decided to rest for a while in the temporary command shuttle. It was supposed to be a nap, but I was stuck in a extremely weird state. It felt like… like my soul had been pumped away from my body, swallowed by a bottomless swamp, and trapped in a bizarre nightmare!
“In my trance, it felt both like a dream and reality. A life of more than ten years suddenly expanded deep inside my soul!
“In the ‘dream’, I was no longer ‘Guo Chunfeng’, a human being born and raised on the Grand Desolate Plateau, but a young demon who grew up in a certain underground city in the Nether Spring Kingdom in the Blood Demon Sector. I had a brand-new name, Ye Yuya, and I had a new, hideous appearance!
“In the terrible world that was filled with the smell of sulfur, venomous gas, and demonic fungi and plants, I was cleansed by secret medicines all day long. I fought the demon beasts and learned the arts of all kinds of blades, demonic artifacts, and magical equipment! In this world, there were no companions in my eyes, only prey, enemies, and… my father. Every time he showed up, he brought me more prey and enemies, which meant more rigorous training, more crazy battles, and more brutal suffering!
“You must’ve guessed it. In the dream, Elder Nether Spring was the father of the young Ye Yuya!
“The dream seemed to only last one moment, yet it felt that it went on for more than ten years. All in all, at the end of the dream, I swallowed a certain drug that was stinky and spicy. Then, I was smeared with ointments and secret medications before being sent into something resembling a cocoon! Before the last piece of shell was sealed, I saw that Elder Nether Spring looked at me in a complicated expression. He said good night to me. Then, I was swallowed by the darkness, as if I’d died!
“Then, my dream ended.
“I leapt up from the abyss, only to feel that my head was aching, and I could not focus. I felt that I was both struggling before my death and had just revived from death!
“But deep inside my brain, a hideous face popped up, Elder Nether Spring’s!
“Grinning, he told me that, now that I was aware of my identity, I should be prepared. He would come to me in several days. By then, I would naturally learn the whole plan!”
Holding his head, Guo Chunfeng’s face was extremely pale, as if he were back to the horrid night again. After catching his breath, he struggled to continue. “The dream and the conversation made my head turn blank. I wasn’t back to myself until almost twenty minutes later!
“My first feeling was not that my real self had awoken but that I, as Guo Chunfeng, was possessed by a guy named Ye Yuya!”
Li Yao nodded quickly in agreement. He had once been possessed by Ou Yezi, a master of refining from forty thousand years ago. He had experienced a weird, bizarre dream, too, which was perhaps more than ten times longer than Guo Chunfeng’s.
Therefore, Li Yao understood the feeling when one was just freed from the state very well.
Guo Chunfeng went on. “My hands groped around my body subconsciously, only to find the dead body of a bug that had been broken. Some bright blue mucus was flowing out of the bug. Then, after I sensed it more carefully, I discovered its mouthpart in the back of my head. It was obvious that the bug had injected something into my head!
“As the supervisor of the Demon Execution Division, I knew the form of every demonic bug. Even the most rarely-seen demonic bug wouldn’t escape my attention!
“Also, during urgent times when we are in the middle of an assault, a man in my place is very likely to be assassinated by the demons. Therefore, I established a spiritual shield and many alarm rune arrays when I was sleeping. I didn’t sleep too tightly, either. It should’ve been impossible for a minor demonic bug to approach me!
“But this very demonic bug pierced through my spiritual shield and injected something into my head without waking me up!”
Li Yao was deep in thought. “Let’s assume that the demonic bug was sent by Elder Nether Spring. He could grasp your whereabouts easily through other Children of the Nether World. The liquid that the bug injected into your head was likely to some ‘activation drug’ that could turn you from the ‘hibernation state’ to the ‘awakened state’. Is that so?”
“Yes.” Guo Chunfeng took a deep breath and tried to keep himself calm. “I got rid of all my subordinates and staggered to the underground district where I found a dump. I crouched for half a night and sorted through everything before I reached the same conclusion.
“So, I’m not Guo Chunfeng. The real Guo Chunfeng was killed decades ago. I’m merely a demon named Ye Yuya who substituted him! Everything I thought to be real was false and carefully planned by Elder Nether Spring!
“I was disgusted, infuriated, and scared. I couldn’t help but throw up on the garbage!
“After vomiting, I was caught in confusion. Elder Nether Spring would come to be a few days later. What should I do?”
Li Yao’s eyes moved. “You didn’t want to help him?”
“Of course not!” Guo Chunfeng shook his head quickly. “For me, the life of the young demon Ye Yuya was just a dream. Real as it felt, could it be any realer than my own life in the previous few decades?
“Yes, maybe everything in my life was false. My identity was false, my appearance was false, my ethnicity was false, and even my accomplishments and position were perhaps facilitated by Elder Nether Spring, too!
“Even if everything was false, at the very least, my wife and my daughter are real! Elder Nether Spring is my father. So what? Yao Li is still my wife, and Guo Xiaohe is still my daughter!”
Li Yao slapped his thigh. “Well said!”
Guo Chunfeng smiled bitterly. “A good speech doesn’t mean a damn thing. Now, Elder Nether Spring had the greatest secret of mine in his hands. If my real identity was revealed, not only would my own reputation be tarnished, my wife and my daughter would be burdened, too. What should I do?
“If I refused to cooperate with Elder Nether Spring, he definitely would not hesitate to do such things. He didn’t need to kill me. Just dealing my wife and my daughter would be enough!
“Moreover, for some reason, ever since I heard his words in my head, I had an untamable urge to obey him!”
After pondering for a moment, Li Yao said, “Can we assume that Elder Nether Spring had a certain secret art that would make other people obey him unconditionally? Of course, based on the information we know, he was perhaps already good at it. But decades ago, in the early phase, the secret technique was still immature. It couldn’t be performed on anybody but could only work on the blood relatives, preferably children, right?
“It is quite easy to understand. Parents are natural authorities to their children. All the secret art needs to do is to build up the authority!
“That must’ve been the reason he chose his son as Abyss!”