The night gradually passed, and as the first ray of sky light shone on the island, Ziz set out from the central sealed land to patrol the entire island.
Dong Zheng and the fish-firm sage talked all night. At dawn, he caught a pheasant nearby and, together with the fish picked by the fish-form sage, they had a decent breakfast. .
Afterward, Dong Zheng went to the north of the island. He knew that Cui Zuojing and his past self should have just encountered the Sphinx. Soon after, they would reach the Northern Temple, and the past Dong Zheng would use a knife to pry a tile from the temple’s wall.
When he looked through the gap, he triggered the blessing of the fallen angel Abraxas, which directly led to the first awakening of his kernel. But when the temple collapsed, it knocked him and Cui Zuojing unconscious under the rubble.
Dong Zheng moved forward at the fastest speed. Behemoth was sleeping in the wilderness near the northern temple, and the explosion of mental power was likely to alarm Behemoth. Therefore, things might get troublesome if he doesn’t hurry.
It wasn’t until he finally reached the Norther Temple did Dong Zheng dare to stop and catch his breath. He stood under a tree and looked at the figure of the distant temple. As he did so, the temple kernel suddenly made a dull resonance.
The temple in his kernel was more magnificent and taller than the one in front of him. The statue of Abraxas, with the symbol of an angel and a devil was holding a sword and a shield, and the six wings of its body emitted a faint golden light. In Dong Zheng’s consciousness, the statue of the fallen angel at the entrance of his kernel seemed to come alive, and looked down at him.
-I bless the dead.
-Everything will be destroyed.
A violent, external energy fluctuation blasted through him, shaking his indestructible firewall. It was his mental power of the same origin. The fallen angel raised the sword high and let out a long and silent scream. Dong Zheng took two steps back and looked toward the temple. Two years ago, he’d this same golden light through the gap from the wall of the North Temple.
The firewall disintegrated the impact of the violent mental power, leaving only the purest essence, which entered his kernel and was sucked into the temple. The entire temple inside his kerne began to changed at a speed visible to the naked eye. It became larger, more majestic and sophisticated, glittering with a layer of stardust. There was a dripping sound in the circulating pool, starlight was everywhere, and a phantom appeared in the middle of the second floor where the power of the body was stored—It was a child in a wheelchair, as thin as a gust of wind. She was sitting quietly, seeming completely harmless.
Dong Zheng’s eyes widened, and he realized that this was the “meme” that Murphy left in his mind.
He was now…even aware of the existence of the meme.
The sound of the temple collapsing brought Dong Zheng’s attention back to the matters at hand. He suddenly remembered that he still had more important things to do. The grass blades under his feet were all impacted by the mental power that had burst out from the past Dong Zheng’s body, so much so that they were pressed almost parallel to the ground. Meanwhile, Behemoth, who was resting in the wilderness not far away, was startled and let out an ancient roar.
At this time, if the person or creature that came into contact with the past him had weak mental powers, he or she would be immediately shocked into a fool and might even die. Just like Dong Zheng had inadvertently killed that pilgrim back at the ship.
But the violent mental power that had spread out from the past Dong Zheng’s body couldn’t even damage his firewall. However, the Arabidopsis thaliana in his kernel was nourished, and dots of small flowers appeared.
Although the blood contract had already been terminated, Dong Zheng still took great care of the grass, which represented the young man he put into the center of his world.
Dong Zheng walked towards the collapsed temple step by step. He stepped on the broken stones, and amid the sound of the giant beasts approaching, he accurately found the young man buried under the ruins.
Cui Zuojing had lost consciousness. His eyes were closed tightly, and when Dong Zheng picked him up, he poured warm mental power into Cui Zuojing’s eyebrows, protecting his soul that had been severely impacted. Feeling the young man’s familiar breath, Arabidopsis shook a few times, wanting to get closer to this long-lost person.
The heavy weight in his arms was incredibly reassuring. Dong Zheng held Cui Zuojing horizontally, letting the young man’s head rest weakly against his chest, watching as his drooping eyelashes cast shadows on his face. He looked like a cat that had fallen asleep with its claws retracted.
Dong Zheng then walked towards the source of the mental explosion. The past Dong Zheng was half-buried in the rubble, with fine beads of sweat on his forehead and his expression twisted in pain. The Naive Bayes Algorithm was loading with the construction of the temple, just waiting for him to push open the door that led to a whole new world in his kernel.
The mental energy burst lasted for fifteen minutes. Dong Zheng waited until the disorder gradually weakened, and he was sure that his past self could withstand it; only then did he quietly hugged Cui Zuojing and left.
The fish-form sage was waiting for him in the Western Temple.
Dong Zheng held Cui Zuojing the entire time, unwilling to bear carrying him on his back. He was very afraid that he might never have this opportunity again. After crossing the dense forest, after walking for about two and a half hours, until finally reaching the vicinity of Wester Temple, Dong Zheng stopped. He gently put Cui Zuojing near the river, plucked a clean leaf, and scooped up cool water to moisten Cui Zuojing’s dry lips and feed him a little.
The youth’s lips became red, but he was still asleep, with no signs of awakening. Dong Zheng combed his somewhat messy hair, brushed the dust off his cheeks, sat next to him, and stared quietly at Cui Zuojing’s sleeping face.
In the past, he’d woken up countless times in the morning to gaze at his lover next to his pillow, watching his quiet sleep, watching his sleepy-eyed fascination as he woke up from a dream. Everything had become some kind of unattainable luxury.
A sudden strong impulse rose up in Dong Zheng’s heart. Before he could stop himself, he leaned down and pressed a light kiss to Cui Zuojing’s forehead.
The kiss was so light that it was like a feather falling on a stream; it can only arouse faint ripples.
Dong Zheng suddenly thought of the time on the swing in Heimdall’s Garden, when Cui Zuojing had expressed his feelings. The young man once asked him whether it was him who’d secretly kissed him while he was unconscious in Dusk Island. Ding Zheng had resolutely rejected it, but it turned out…that it actually was him after all.
Cui Zuojing was still asleep, but Dong Zheng knew that he might be slightly conscious. Dong Zheng held his hand and pressed his palm to Dong Zheng’s chest, immersed in this rare warmth.
Night slowly fell, marking the passage of another day.
Dong Zheng woke up by himself the next day. It may be assumed that Ah’Zuo would do the same. He fed the fire and found something to eat. In fact, with Victor’s power, he didn’t feel hungry but he wanted to respect the habit of eating and filling the stomach.
He’d stayed beside Cui Zuojing the whole night, and even now, he was only a step away.
At dawn, the sun rose from the east and was slowly dragged westward by the passage of time. When the sun finally reached deep into the west, Cui Zuojing’s eyelashes suddenly trembled slightly. Dong Zheng immediately noticed this, and knowing that he would awaken soon, he stood up and walked into the woods. .
All the small movements in the forest could not escape his kernel’s detection. He quickly discovered a snake entangled in the tree as he walked past. Without much effort, he grabbed the seven-inch-long snake, threw it onto a stone to knock it out, and then carried it back.
Cui Zuojing really had woken up and was washing his face by the lake. When he heard footsteps approaching, he turned his head vigilantly.
Dong Zheng paused. Those eyes full of vigilance made his breath stop, but he maintained his cold expression and said, “You’re up.”
“Yeah.” Seeing that it was a familiar person, Cui Zuojing secretly sighed in relief. He shook the water from his hand and stood up. “You brought me here?”
“I found you in the ruins of a temple.” Dong Zheng went to the lake to deal with the snake in his hands. Cui Zuojing asked him some questions about what happened when he was unconscious and silently raised his hand to touch his forehead, where he was secretly kissed. A trace of doubt flashed across his eyes.
After they ate the roasted snake, Cui Zuojing said, “I’m going to go and find my teammate. What about you?”
“I found a place just to the west that seemed to be a ruin. It might provide a lot of clues about the box.”
When Cui Zuojing agreed to follow him, Dong Zheng secretly let out a sigh of relief, and together, they set out for the Western Temple.
Cui Zuojing had been intentionally watching him, but could not figure him out. Suddenly, he said, “Have we really never met before?”
When he said this, Dong Zheng’s heartbeat accelerated. He wanted to answer truthfully, to tell him that they’d not only met before but that they also had the closest relationship. But in the end, Dong Zheng could only say, “Why do you say this?”
“I always feel that you seem both familiar and unfamiliar.”
Dong Zheng clenched his fists. He was very certain that his appearance was foolproof, and his performance from beginning to end also provided no leakage that would expose him. Cui Zuojing’s feelings…should probably stem from some kind of familiarity or tacit understanding between them.
But he couldn’t say anything.
They arrived at the Western Temple before the sun set. Seeing that the door of the temple was open, Cui Zuojing said, “Someone has been here?”
“Let’s go in and take a look.”
The moment they stepped into the temple, Cui Zuojing’s eyes grew cold, and his hand moved to the hand of the sword at his side. On the high altar in front was a fish-form sage dressed in black robes. With its back to them, he stared at the intricate black and yellow mural on the front wall.
He turned around, revealing the plain black cane he was holding. He and Dong Zheng shared a glance, and he told Cui Zuojing, “You’ve come at last. I have been waiting for you.”
Cui Zuojing narrowed his eyes. When he tried to pull out his sword, Dong Zheng pressed down on the back of his hand and said in a low voice, “Don’t be afraid, I won’t harm you.”
“Why should I trust you?”
This sentence almost tore apart the coldness on Dong Zheng’s face. He had to repeatedly warn himself that for Ah’Zuo, he wasn’t Dong Zheng, but a suspicious passerby named Domingo.
The fish-form sage, who had learned many things from Dong Zheng, said, “You don’t have to panic. If I didn’t read it wrong, you have the power of time, right?”
As someone who worshipped Ion, the God of Time, the fish-form sage was also familiar with the five elemental powers of the Pure White Realm. But Cui Zuojing didn’t know this. He looked at Dong Zheng, his eyes unkind. “Who are you?”
“You will know it later.” Dong Zheng met Cui Zuojing’s gaze. In those jet-black eyes, he saw his own figure. His smoke-gray eyes and platinum-blond hair were…unfamiliar.
“This isn’t the time to doubt me. There’s not much time left. Everything needs to be taken care of as fast a possible.”