City of Endless Rain ch 9
That day, Jake was busier than a bee taking care of the matter regarding the three soldiers when Li Yuanyu urgently called him to the villa.
"Yes. It's quite chilling, isn't it?"
He had no clue of what had happened, but Tang Shan had lost his memories again.
Jake was extremely discontent that Li Yuanyu had tossed him this extra baggage.
Li Yuanyu had said something about being afraid that Tang Shan would break down if he saw him, and that he had to temporarily avoid Tang Shan. With just a sentence, he'd left Tang Shan in Jake's care. Jake was hopping mad at this but had nowhere to vent his anger, and it wasn't as if Tang Shan was someone he could complain to.
This was just hard to bear!!!
At the sight of Jake, Tang Shan was silent for a long while, not saying a word. From the looks of it, it didn't seem like Tang Shan could accept the truth, nor did he have any plans to rebel. He couldn't tell what Tang Shan was thinking.
Tang Shan's lifeless eyes scanned the area and then fixed on Jake.
Jake greeted but was met with no response. He took it upon himself to continue speaking.
"Are you hungry? Have you had breakfast? Li Yuanyu should have prepared something in the kitchen. Shall I bring it to you?"
Tang Shan's reaction was very slow as he shook his head, rejecting his suggestion.
Jake hummed for a moment, unsure of what he should do and how to take care of Tang Shan. He really did not want to face Tang Shan, who had regained all his memories. That damned Li Yuanyu!
"Did he send you to keep an eye on me?"
Tang Shan finally spoke, but the first thing he brought up was this sensitive topic. Jake had no idea if he should agree or disagree. After pondering over it for some time, he spoke, "I'm not keeping an eye on you. He's just worried about you and got me to come and accompany you. Hm... I know this might be a bit difficult, but if you don't mind, we can have a chat."
Jake immediately regretted his words. How much more stupid could he get? There were a whole bunch of topics that he could not touch on!
"Well then, Jake, please tell me. Why am I still alive?" Tang Shan enquired.
As expected, the very first question was difficult to answer. It was too blunt and straightforward and definitely something to which he could not respond.
"Can we not talk about this?" Jake forced a laugh, "Let's talk about the weather. It's great today, uh, alright, so there's a slight drizzle."
"Why does it rain when Li Yuanyu's in a bad mood? Why do all those families have ceramic dolls that can move?"
"That- That I can't answer."
"Does Li Yuanyu have some super powers? Why can he control the weather?" Tang Shan asked once more.
"I really can't say anything about this."
Tang Shan finally stopped with his questions. Just when Jake thought he had given up, Tang Shan spoke again.
"I have something I want to ask you."
"I can't answer any questions you have regarding Li Yuanyu." Jake raised his hands and surrendered. He really couldn't reveal anything.
"It's a question directed at you, so you should be able to answer."
"Alright, ask away."
"Jake, after you all killed so many people, do you feel grief? Do you feel guilt?" Tang Shan did not have any intentions of making things difficult for Jake. He was asking this very seriously.
However, it was a very straightforward question.
"Are you questioning my humaneness?"
Tang Shan answered, a little humour in his tone, "Do you still have it? 'Humaneness'."
Jake took in a deep breath, yelling in frustration as he clutched his head. Tang Shan merely stood and watched as he broke down, looking on coldly from the sidelines. After venting, Jake spoke calmly, "I can't take this anymore. I'm going to get some breakfast downstairs. You- You just do as you like."
Jake went downstairs, the stairs creaking from his heavy footsteps. While getting plates from the kitchen, he was still fuming mad, his movements so large that it seemed he was on the verge of breaking them at any moment.
Jake angrily chewed at what was supposed to be Tang Shan's sandwich. The fury was making his mouth itch to do something, but he didn’t have anyone to scream at, so he had no choice but to target the blameless tableware. He poured a glass of milk and gulped it down in one go. After taking ten deep breaths, he calmed down and braced himself to face the huge demon upstairs who was exceedingly difficult to deal with.
Jake was standing before the door, struggling with the decision to enter, when he heard faint sobs coming from within. He paused, hesitating for a moment deliberating his choices, and at last pushed open the door.
After he opened the door, the sobs became even clearer. Tang Shan was suppressing his cries, but what was the most surprising was once Jake completely opened the door, he was met with the sight of Tang Shan bloody from head to toe!
He had taken a pen from the study table at the bedroom and hurt himself. The wounds were quite deep, and his arms and legs were all bloody, dripping all over the floor. Jake couldn't tell for how long this torture had been going on.
"Gosh, Tang Shan! What are you doing?!" Jake could not believe what he was seeing. He had hemophobia, and had to expend a lot of effort not to just faint right there and then.
Tang Shan cried in muffled sobs, apparently in a terrible state, his hand tight around his weapon.
"Calm down, Tang Shan! Pass- Pass me the pen-" Jake tentatively reached out towards Tang Shan while on the verge of vomiting.
Tang Shan howled, backing up to avoid Jake who was drawing near.
"Don't come over!"
Sickly pale, Jake really stopped and made no move to get closer to him.
"Why can't I die?"
Tang Shan lifted the pen, stabbed it into his neck and dragged it downwards, creating a gaping wound. Blood gushed out, and Jake could not bear to watch.
Jake couldn't take it any longer. His eyes rolled back, and he fainted. Before losing consciousness, the image of Tang Shan stained with blood seemed to be embedded in his mind, unable to disappear.
Suffocating, Tang Shan collapsed to the floor on his knees, but the wound was slowly healing. Soon, there wasn't even any pain at all. The mark on his wrist where he had severed his arteries had also disappeared. He was like a demon that couldn’t die.
Why was he still alive? Tang Shan stared at his unwounded yet bloody hand.
In the end, he lost consciousness from the excessive blood loss.
Li Yuanyu returned home, but no matter how much he called, nobody appeared. He went upstairs and entered the bedroom, only to this scene.
Jake was lying on the ground, while Tang Shan had collapsed in a pool of blood. The blood that had not been soaked up by the carpet was a rather chilling sight under the light.
Upon seeing this, Li Yuanyu didn't even bat an eye and stepped over Jake's body to squat beside Tang Shan's body. After checking his condition, he picked him up and carried him to the bed.
Though the movements were gentle, Tang Shan still woke from it.
Li Yuanyu was expressionless and seemed to lack emotions from the moment he entered till he picked up Tang Shan, and even when Tang Shan opened his eyes.
Tang Shan was just as numb to everything.
They gazed at each other as though engaged in a soundless match between them. In the silent, tense atmosphere, nobody wanted to let the other have his way.
"You tried to commit suicide."
Li Yuanyu spoke first, interrogating from the start. The simple sentence was a sharp rebuke.
"Why can't I die?" Tang Shan asked him, voice hoarse as he choked out the words. Out of fear, he could not help but constantly tremble in tears.
Li Yuanyu used the fleshy part of his thumb to wipe away his tears while planting light kisses on his cheek, forehead, eyes, nose, and lips.
"Darling, I can tolerate all your selfish and reckless actions, but you dare seek death... This is my limit," he spoke.
The gentle Li Yuanyu vanished. He grabbed Tang Shan and tied his hands together with a garment. With a hand he held Tang Shan's head down and render him immobile. Tang Shan did not know what kind of expression the person behind him had, and he did all he could to cry, begging for help or threatening Li Yuanyu to halt his actions.
However, Li Yuanyu seemed to have lost his senses, or perhaps, he was actually very much in control. He tore off Tang Shan's pyjama pants, spread his legs and entered his body. No matter how Tang Shan begged to be let off, he still mercilessly continued to rape him.
"-hurts, Li Yuanyu- No-"
The pleas turned into whimpers, and the fear and humiliation caused him to gasp for breath.
Li Yuanyu turned Tang Shan over to face him and lunged at Tang Shan's throat, gradually tightening his grip.
"Do you like it? Erotic asphyxiation. Didn't you want to die?"
Tang Shan was in incredible pain and was terrified of Li Yuanyu's lunatic tendencies.
He really might just die like this.
All of a sudden, Tang Shan realised that this could be a way for him to be find release from all of this.
He smiled appearing as deranged as Li Yuanyu was.
Seeing the grin, Li Yuanyu's movements halted and loosening his grip, he slid out of Tang Shan's body.
Extremely remorseful for his actions, he apologised while sitting in front of Tang Shan with arms around his own head. He had personally harmed his most beloved, most precious Tang Shan whom he had always treated as a delicate treasure.
Tang Shan found his breath again and began to gasp for air. His vision had become blurry from tears, and the injuries in his behind had begun to heal. The pain on his body vanished, but on the other hand, his heart was bare – dead.
"I'm sorry, Tang Shan." Li Yuanyu hugged him while repeating apologies and words of love. "I'm sorry, Tang Shan. I'm sorry. I love you. I really love you."
"Just kill me." Tang Shan was still frozen in the same position. He was extremely disappointed in Li Yuanyu for letting go and giving him the misconception that he would finally be free from this.
"Just kill me." Tang Shan was still frozen in the same position. He was extremely disappointed in Li Yuanyu for letting go and giving him the misconception that he would finally be free from this.
Li Yuanyu hugged him so tightly Tang Shan felt as though the air in his lungs were being squeezed out.
"I won't kill you. I couldn't bear to." Li Yuanyu let him go and began to caress Tang Shan's face and rearrange his messy hair, returning to his previous state as a caring lover. All the craziness and anger from before disappeared.
"Hang in there for a while longer, my love. Once I settle the matter regarding the intruders, we'll continue. This time, you'll forget about absolutely everything and then wholly belong to me." Li Yuanyu left a gentle kiss on his cheek, though it was rejected with a turn of Tang Shan's head.
Li Yuanyu laughed it off.
"Wait for me at home like a good boy." Having said this, he made to leave.
"You're not going to untie me?" Tang Shan's hands were still tied together, and within his body, there remained Li Yuanyu's bodily fluids.
"No. This way, you'll be more obedient. When Jake wakes up, he'll untie you." Li Yuanyu went to the door, paused and continued, "Don't worry, Jake's used to this. Good night, my love." With that, he gave a sarcastic laugh and left.
As Li Yuanyu closed the door, Tang Shan felt frustration and anger gushing out. He could not move his hands and instead repeatedly knocked his head on the bed, burying his head in the pillows and screaming.
When Jake woke up, he was once again in a state of confusion, unsure of where exactly he was. He was only able to react to the situation after a long while.
"Ow." He crawled up with some difficulty. The blood clots on the carpet were quite scary, and he quickly diverted his gaze so that he would not faint a second time.
"What time is it now? Morning? Or night? How long was I out for?"
Jake supported his forehead and asked Tang Shan but did not get an answer.
He stepped towards the bed, uncertain, and found Tang Shan's naked body on the bed, his hands tied up with clothing. There were no signs of a struggle, and he merely lay there without any movement. This was probably why he had not discovered Tang Shan's situation at the very beginning.
"What's wrong with you?" Jake exclaimed before processing the situation. What else could have happened? There were bruises on Tang Shan's neck that had come from strangulation. There were traces left behind by sex all over his body, as well as a strange smell in the room. It was obvious what had taken place here.
Li Yuanyu had gone a little too far. This was, without a doubt, rape.
Wait! This had all happened while he was lying on the ground unconscious! Perverts! Shameless! Couldn't they have at least changed a location?
Tang Shan slowly sat up, groaning from the pain. His voice was hoarse as he spoke to Jake, "Untie me."
Jake quickly untied the bindings on Tang Shan's hands, and upon seeing the bruises left behind from his struggles, Jake gave a long sigh. This was the way Tang Shan was, unwilling to concede or give way. Things would be so much easier if he could let Li Yuanyu do as he liked, but here he was, struggling as much as he could.
"I'll help you to the bathroom." Jake used the bed sheet and wrapped it around Tang Shan's body, wanting to help him get up.
However, Tang Shan pushed Jake away and tried to be tough, "There's no need to. I'll walk there myself."
He didn't think that he wouldn't be able to even stand properly, falling to the ground the moment he got off the bed. He groaned.
"Let me help you." Jake helped Tang Shan up and into the bathroom.
Jake brought him to the bathtub and made to leave, but Tang Shan suddenly grabbed him.
Tang Shan’s grip was very strong, to the point that his nails dug into flesh.
"You have to help me, Jake. I don't want to be brainwashed into a dummy who doesn't remember anything. I've already become a monster that can't die by my own hand. You must know some other way..."
Jake widened his eyes, feeling very pressured by his relentless pleas.
"You're not a monster." Jake revealed, "Actually, you're the same as all the people in this town. No matter what injuries they have, they'll heal very quickly. It's the same for me."
"But Li Yuanyu- Li Yuanyu's wounds don't heal so quickly-" Tang Shan thought of the time he had helped Li Yuanyu dress a wound on his leg. "Is Li Yuanyu the only normal person here?"
He didn't believe it.
"He isn't! He purposely made his own injuries heal slower, wanting to make use of this and gain your sympathy. He loves you too much. He's willing to give up everything for you; even his pride! He used to be a superior being but became such a contemptible man because of his love for you. At times, I feel for him, thinking him pitiful." Jake became agitated as he spoke and stared at Tang Shan unforgivingly.
"He washed away my memories. Aren't I the least bit pitiful? Think about it from my perspective." Tang Shan stared at him with tears in his eyes, trying his best not to let them fall, "I'm begging you, kill me. Don't let him wipe away my identity."
"I can't kill you..." Jake hesitated.
"Jake, seeing that we're friends, you have to help me."
Friends! Jake wavered, on the verge of tears as bitter emotions arose.
It wasn't like he couldn't understand Tang Shan's desire to die, nor his unwillingness to be brainwashed or have his memories rendered a blank slate. Jake struggled inwardly.
While Tang Shan was waiting for Jake's answer, thunder boomed.
Jake made a decision. "I need to be honest with you about this now. I think you should have guessed it already but never had the courage to acknowledge it."
He began by beating around the bush, as if the words he wanted to say were difficult to get out. Tang Shan waited patiently.
"Tang Shan, you and I, as well as Li Yuanyu, and even everyone in the town- we're all dead. We're no longer in the world that you used to exist in. We- well, in other words, we're living in another dimension."
Tang Shan was much too shocked, unable to believe the words as he stared at Jake.
"Are we spirits?"
"No... I'm not sure. As you know, we're different from the spirits that we know about. We're about the same as living humans, aren't we? Then again, nobody has really died and turned into a spirit and proven what a spirit is like... It's a difficult question to answer!" Jake scratched his head, stumped. "Anyway, we can't die because we're already dead!"
"How about the people who were burnt to ashes?" Tang Shan asked.
"I knew you'd ask this.” Jake sighed. “Listen to my explanation carefully. Tis is a very complicated situation."
Tang Shan quietened down to listen.
"Not long after I came to this town, Li Yuanyu arranged for me to be a patrol officer. He's the manager of this town, in charge of dealing with the emergency situations that happen within here. The role of the patrolling officers is to seek out these issues. The most common situations are those like you, the... spirits, who throw themselves into the town. Newcomers are usually first judged by Li Yuanyu, where he determines whether they are suitable to stay in the town, and what kind of jobs they should have."
Tang Shan interrupted him, "Does everyone have a job? Why don't I have one?"
"You? You're Li Yuanyu's lover; you don't need to work."
Li Yuanyu had also mentioned this before. Tang Shan couldn't understand this and furrowed his brows.
Jake sighed. “Let me put it this way. Your job is to be Li Yuanyu’s lover, got it?”
Tang Shan recalled the attitude the others in the town had towards him, and his face paled from the belated humiliation.
"Don't get upset. Fortune smiled down on you for him to like you. There are plenty of people who want him but will never be able to get him."
"Don't bother with that. Continue." He didn't want to dwell on this topic.
"Alright, let me think of how I should say this... Let's talk about Marie. After you arrived here, Li Yuanyu completely changed, becoming gentle and very forgiving, and the architecture of the town also underwent some changes – don’t interrupt me – the architecture changes with Li Yuanyu's feelings, just like how the weather changes according to his mood. Everyone noticed the change in him and thought it was a good thing.
"But Marie had a different line of thinking. She believed that if Li Yuanyu spoilt you too much, something irreversible would happen. She pushed Li Yuanyu to send you out of the city. Then, she threatened to kill herself and forced him to make a decision. You know how that ended."
Marie! Tang Shan couldn't believe that this had happened.
"It's been proven that Marie's beliefs were right. Because of you, Li Yuanyu's inner thoughts became very warped, and cracks began to appear in the town. The architecture became messy, the alleys became a maze. You know, the town was originally very orderly, but you turned it into its current state."
Tang Shan was speechless at Jake's reprimanding words.
"The three soldiers who recently entered the town were determined to lack the ability to assimilate into society and unsuitable to stay in the town. Hence, the Banishment will be conducted tonight."
"Is the so-called Banishment the one I saw last time?"
"Yes. The Banishment is the only way out of the town. Li Yuanyu calls it, yes – the way the orients call it – reincarnation? Or something like that. I can't confirm this, but you don't want to be brainwashed again, right?"
Tang Shan shook his head.
"Then tonight is the best opportunity."
Tang Shan's eyes brightened. "You're willing to help me?"
"Does it look like I have much of a choice at this point?"
"Thank you so much, Jake!" Tang Shan gave him a huge hug.
Jake gave a long sigh, able to imagine the consequences.
"Don't hug me. Go wash up. Once you're done, we'll plan how to 'leave'. Also, don't get me wrong. I'm helping Li Yuanyu, not you."
Tang Shan let go and said, "Whatever it is, thank you."
Jake left the bathroom and began to think of ways to secretly exchange the soldiers who were going to be banished tonight with Tang Shan, as well as come up with various routes to take.
After taking a bath and putting on a clean set of clothing, Tang Shan came out of the bathroom holding the wall.
Seeing Tang Shan walking out in this state, he was stunned. The perfect plan that he had thought up was ruined in that instant. He had forgotten to take into account the current state of Tang Shan's body!
"What's wrong?" Tang Shan enquired worriedly upon seeing the troubled expression on Jake's face.
"I'd thought up a plan, but I realised it can't work. I'm just a little depressed about that."
"Then what should we do?"
If not for the fact that Tang Shan's could not overexert himself due to his current condition, he would have gotten Tang Shan to leave by the back door, taking a long route so as not to be detected by the ceramic dolls that guarded the villa.
However, they could now only do this head on!
Jake found a golf club in the storeroom and felt its weight in his hand. Then he picked out a pitching wedge and passed it to Tang Shan.
"Hah! Let's charge our way out!" Having said this, Jake pushed the main door open and waved the club the moment he stepped out, smashing the ceramic doll by the door to smithereens.
The sounds of ceramic breaking did not stop once Jake walked out through the door. He mercilessly waved the club around.
"Go! Leave while they haven't set off the alarm yet!"
Jake rushed him outside, and Tang Shan quickly came back to himself and followed.
Jake stomped on a ceramic doll which had only half a face left but was on the verge of sending out the signal. They hid into a small alley and continued their cautious advance.
"Is the alarm their laughter?"
"Yes. It's quite chilling, isn't it?"
Tang Shan glanced at the shattered ceramic dolls, still able to move and crawl towards them despite their fingers and feet being separated from their bodies. He lifted up his pitching wedge and slammed down, turning the pieces into powder.
"We're here." Jake, who was in front, halted. In front of them was the square. "Wait for me at the parts of the alley shrouded in darkness. I'll bring the substitute over."
He made to leave, but Tang Shan suddenly grabbed onto him, reminding him seriously, "Be careful."
Jake remarked impatiently. "Tsk, of course. You don't have to tell me that."
Tang Shan hid in the dark area. He couldn't see the square from where he was, and nobody there could see him either. Though he was terrified out of his mind, he believed in Jake's ability.
Minutes passed, and there was no commotion from the square; there was only the laughter from the ceramic dolls. He remembered that once the laughter stopped, it was time for the trial, the beginning of the Banishment.
Jake returned, bringing with him a soldier who had been tied up. Even his mouth had been stuffed, and he could only make dull sounds of protest, constantly twisting his body.
Jake pushed the person into the alley a distance away from Tang Shan. That person still wanted to resist, but the moment he moved his head, Jake's golf club came down ruthlessly, and he fainted.
Tang Shan, who had seen all this, sucked in a deep breath at Jake's ruthless actions.
"What are you afraid of, he's already dead! Besides, he can't die from this. He'll wake up again. There's no more time to waste. Change into his clothes!" Jake spoke as he took off the soldier’s uniform, asking Tang Shan to put it on.
He could wear those clothes and they had a similar build, but what about his face?
Jake had prepared for that as well, covering Tang Shan's head with a sack – perfect.
"Remember to struggle once in a while to make it seem more real. Also, don't make a sound, or you'll get found out." Jake gave him the last piece of advice, and then advanced in a direction while holding Tang Shan.
"I can only accompany you to this point. The policewoman will bring you there later. I've convinced her, so she's on our side."
Tang Shan grabbed Jake's hand, writing something on it – Thank you.
Jake flipped Tang Shan's hand over and grasped it, feeling extremely emotional. He said nothing, but this last hug of theirs was more significant than any spoken word.
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