He had no idea how he had gotten here. At first, Shen Jiu was sure this was some failed Dream Demon realm, but none of his ploys to break out of the enchantment were working, and neither did the demon show itself. It was only then that he had decided to reach out to his meridians, and panicking when he did not feel them respond…He didn’t feel them at all.
[You are undergoing a Qi Deviation.]
It was dark, the only light just enough to illuminate Shen Jiu’s torso and face. The light came from a…translucent scroll, lettering and borders casting a blue haze onto the figure. The words, although daunting and terrifying, gave Shen Jiu the information he sought.
He was sure this image had been brought upon by the qi deviation, something he could move past, but after an hour of attempted escape, Shen Jiu knew there was nowhere to go. Finally, relinquishing himself to this fate, he turned his eyes back to the glowing, floating box.
[Exchange your life to prevent Yue Qingyuan’s demise?]
Shen Jiu almost snorted. Did Yue Qingyuan really deserve his life too when he had already given him so much, without anything worthy in return? Was Shen Jiu really selfless enough to exchange himself, his life, everything he worked so hard for, and give it all up for Yue Qingyuan, that unworthy bastard? Why shouldn’t he drag his Qi-ge down with him, so they could finally both suffer, but this time together?
“How will my demise do anything to save Yue Qingyuan?” Shen Jiu spat at the screen, hoping it would provide the answers he asked for; it had done so so far.
Another box appeared, above the one the previously stated, with his answer;
[If you choose to exchange your life for Yue Qingyaun’s, a new soul will inhabit your body, and this new soul will be able to avoid the revenge that will cost both of your lives, created by your actions. If you choose not to, all memories created from this moment will be erased and life will continue unchanged.]
Of course, this was all his fault. He wasn’t even trying to mess things up for Qi-ge, and yet he was still destroying his life. Of course, he would never have his trust.
Of fucking course.
“Will Yue Qingyuan know that it isn’t me if that new soul takes my body?” Shen Jiu asks, trying to hide his acceptance of this new, terrible fate of his.
[Although we have protocols in place to avoid detection of replacement souls, due to the nature of Yue Qingyuan’s relationship to you, there is a high chance the soul exchange will be noticed.]
“Is there any way that you can prevent that?”
[There is a way if you would like to undertake a punishment protocol. Then we can prevent Yue Qingyuan from ever noticing your soul’s absence.]
The truth felt bitter, burning in a way Shen Jiu did not think was undeserved. In the end, despite all his Qi-ge did and did not do, he couldn’t bring himself to hurt Yue Qingyuan when he knew he could prevent the harm. When the thought came to him, Shen Jiu couldn’t help but laugh before being overwhelmed into a self-deprecating silence.
He did not deserve Yue Qingyuan’s attention or his faith. He didn’t deserve anything he had to offer, and neither did Yue Qingyuan. When they parted in their childhood, they should have stayed that way; apart. Things would have not gotten this out of hand.
“I will take the punishment, and I will exchange my soul,” Shen Jiu told the floating box, the [Yes] box lighting up brighter than the rest.
[The system apologizes for the following experience…
After you witness Yue Qingyuan’s and your own end, your soul will perish and be replaced with replacement soul; Shen Yuan. Do you accept?]
“Of course.” Was Shen Jiu’s bitter reply, hated that he had been pincered in, given no way out but the one he chose. In the end, even when he still wanted to live, desperately, he would not forgive himself, could not, if it was at the cost of Yue Qingyuan’s life.
As the void wrapped around him further, extinguishing all light, Shen Jiu whispered out one more thing;
“Anything for Qi-ge.”