Tawil closed his eyes. “Me too.”
“You have to choose.” Tawil turned abruptly and let go of Bai Liu. His forehead pressed against Bai Liu’s forehead and asked him softly, “Antidote or poison?”
Bai Liu’s hand curled up in the air.
Tawil watched him calmly, silver-blue eyes like a mirror placed under water. The swaying light of the water reflected Bai Liu’s emotionless face.
He stated, “You should know what the antidote is. Make a choice.”
Bai Liu’s eyes were blank and his memory passed through Tawil’s eyes in an instant, drifting far away.
In the old library of the welfare home, the oil-stained book of old poems was spread out on Xie Ta’s knees. It was a summer afternoon. The sun shone through the hair that fell on his forehead, just like it fell through the dense and loose branches. It scattered into grids of light and fell on the yellowed, worn-out pages.
There was dust and heat floating in the air. The windowsills of the library were open to the green shade of the weeds. The pool glowed like fish scales under the scorching sun and there seemed to be 10,000 diamonds in the water.
Bai Liu (6) had no interest in reading. He drowsily covered his face with a book and rested lazily on his hands. Sweat from the heat soaked his collar.
He couldn’t remember the specifics but they had been assigned cleaning work in the library, which seemed like it hadn’t been cleaned in decades. It was a punishment that was common to both Bai Liu (6) and Xie Ta.
Fortunately, it was a small library. Xie Ta wasn’t in a hurry. He sat quietly by the windowsill and flipped through the old books buried under the dust, reciting in a low voice.
“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
God will live on, and this gives life to thee.”
Bai Liu (6) was finally awakened by Xie Ta’s words. He took off the book covering his face but didn’t open his eyes due to laziness. He asked Xie Ta first, “Isn’t the last sentence different? Don’t just tamper with other people’s poems at will.”
“The original sentence is ‘So long lives this, and this gives life to thee’.” Xie Ta wasn’t angry about being exposed and still looked at Bai Liu (6) very calmly. The look in his eyes seemed like it was going to pull Bai Liu (6) in. “I don’t know how to write poetry but I see you in this poem.”
“This poem is for you.”
Bai Liu (6) went through this excessively disgusting love poem and pretended to turn over lazily. He didn’t look at Xie Ta behind him and was quiet for a moment before opening his mouth again.
“Don’t find a random poem to tease me.”
“I didn’t find a random poem,” Xie Ta’s voice wasn’t rushed. “Your eternal summer shall not fade, this is a poem describing your future. Someone will tell you.”
“My future? What about you?” Bai Liu (6) turned back again and raised an eyebrow. “Is it only my eternal summer that won’t fade?”
He was just joking at first but Xie Ta was quiet for a long time before staring at him, voice as soft as a leaf that couldn’t fall.
“I don’t have summer.”
He sighed softly. “I just… secretly shared your summer.”
Xie Ta’s eyes looked at the lush summer scenery outside the window. “This summer is indeed lovely and gentle. It is the most beautiful summer I have ever seen, but it… doesn’t belong to me.”
“I will always leave.”
At the end of that summer, Xie Ta disappeared at the bottom of that pool.
In the Rose Factory at the beginning of summer, the roses in May were in full bloom and were in the first round of the flowering period.
The moment Tawil let go, Bai Liu seemed to sense something. He instinctively grabbed Tawil’s wrist and looked at him very calmly. “Are you leaving again?”
“We will meet again.” Tawil gently raised his other hand and caressed Bai Liu’s eyelids and face. “This isn’t your summer or your roses. I won’t stay here and you also shouldn’t stay here.”
Tawil’s icy hand touched Bai Liu’s skin and it was like snow falling on his face.
“The moment the sun disappears three-quarters of the way, there will be someone who comes to you who is cold and stiff. Don’t be afraid of the difference brought about by death, don’t be afraid of the broken reverse cross on the snow field.”
“Don’t be afraid of the living or dead me.” Tawil took Bai Liu’s head in his arms and leaned down to kiss the wet, rose-scented hair. “Don’t be afraid that I will leave your summer.”
“I am a fallen god without summer but I have a whole winter waiting for you.”
“Make a choice now. Antidote or poison.” Tawil lowered his slender, snow-colored eyelashes. He didn’t make any movement while hugging Bai Liu in his arms. He just buried his head while stroking Bai Liu’s dripping hair. “No matter what choice you make—”
“You will leave, won’t you?” Bai Liu asked with a muffled voice.
Tawil was silent before answering honestly, “Yes.”
Bai Liu was quiet again but Tawil felt Bai Liu’s arms around his waist and abdomen tighten. This was exactly the same as when he was a child.
Tawil suddenly wanted to laugh.
If encountering a situation he didn’t want to face or if he became angry with other children or teachers and didn’t want to admit it, the 14 year old Bai Liu (6) wouldn’t show it on the surface and he would even open his mouth to say a few sarcastic words.
However, the moment people weren’t paying attention, the skinny Bai Liu (6) would sneak back and hug the huge, patch-covered Slenderman doll, burying his head in it to release his emotions. It was the same posture.
“Yet no matter what choice you make—” Tawil brushed back the hair that stuck to Bai Liu’s ears. He lowered his head and whispered, “You are always the most important thing to me.”
“No matter what I go through, I will definitely come and see you.”
Bai Liu slowly propped himself up from Tawil’s arms and looked directly at Tawil. He finally remembered why he didn’t have the habit of directly looking at people before he was 14, but gained it after he was 14.
It was because Xie Ta said: [Don’t look me in the eye. I have terrible eyes.]
Bai Liu (6) teased him maliciously: [If I don’t look you in the eye, how will you know that I’m talking to you? Wouldn’t you be embarrassed if I was talking to someone else and you thought I was talking to you?]
Xie Ta was silent for a moment before replying: [This way, I can pretend that when you are talking to all the other people, no matter who you are looking at, I can tell myself that you are talking to me.]
Bai Liu remembered that when Xie Ta was saying this to him, he had lowered his head deeper to cover his eyes and his lips were pursed tightly.
—Just like now.
“Don’t say things like leaving.” Bai Liu stroked the hair on Tawil’s forehead as he leaned forward and smiled like he was complaining, “While showing this expression that is more reluctant to leave than me.”
10 years ago, Bai Liu (6) had said: [You don’t have to pretend like this in the future. In essence, I only talk to you and only you will really listen to everything I say.]
[So whoever I talked to, it is actually all about you. I will keep looking in your eyes when talking.]
[I don’t think you are terrible.]
10 years later, Bai Liu said, “I won’t be afraid of your death anymore. In essence, death is already the most terrible thing for human beings.”
“You can’t die. No matter who gave you this, whether it is a god or a devil, no matter whether other people think you’re a monster, god or something else—to me, you are just Xie Ta. I think it is a good thing that you can live forever.”
“I don’t think you are terrible.”
Bai Liu paused for a moment before continuing to speak calmly, “The poison is the dry leaf roses that grow from your body and the antidote is the blood ganoderma lucidum created from your blood, right?”
The moment he saw that the diary was related to the welfare home, Bai Liu realized what the antidote was.
The functional explanation of the blood ganoderma lucidum item was that it could stop all negative buffs, which was likely to include the addictive state caused by the dry leaf roses. It just so happened that the factory manager bought the god statue from the welfare home—it was likely that Tawil’s body also contained the mother blood ganoderma lucidum.
It was just that his body was dismembered so it was impossible to form connected blood vessels and organs. There was no way to generate the blood that could be used to form the blood ganoderma lucidum.
The factory manager should’ve known this too but he was completely out of control.
Compared with the ‘antidote’ that could save him, it was obvious that the poison had a higher concentration that made him madly addicted—the rose perfume attracted him more.
He couldn’t stop his desire for the rose perfume and it was even more impossible for him to put the core production tool, the heart, back into Tawil’s chest cavity so that Tawil could become the blood supply machine again to protect the blood ganoderma lucidum to save him. This ended up completely destroying him.
The principle of the game was the same: after spying the core secrets of the operation of the Rose Factory, there were two options placed in front of the player.
One was to continue to use the dismembered Tawil to breed the dry leaf roses and produce the rose perfume.
The other method was to absorb Tawil’s blood like the investors in the third instance. Let the blood ganoderma lucidum grow from Tawil’s body and continuously grow it to save everyone.
The dry leaf roses had no thorns and the smooth rhizomes of the withered leaves just happened to make up the thorny, rose-like branches of the blood ganoderma lucidum. The two plants were designed to complement each other and restrain each other.
“You’re running away aren’t you?” Tawil stared at Bai Liu. “It is because you don’t want to choose either one.”
“However, you have no choice. You should know that from the design of the game. You can only choose one of these two paths.”
“That person is forcing you to make a choice—save the world by torturing me or let the world be tortured.”
Bai Liu knew.
He knew it from the moment he entered the game—so he kept avoiding playing it.
Someone was torturing Tawil and forcing him to be Bai Liu (6).