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    Chapter 147: Station 24: The Door of Death

    "A man who looks good but lacks any sense of aesthetics is the type I despise the most."

    Ming Yiyang stood frozen after being subjected to the unexpected verbal assault, while Fan Zi nonchalantly elaborated,

    "One of the types."

    Yan Qiling suddenly became inquisitive.

    "And what about the others?"

    "Tasteless, dull, insulting my fashion sense, not elegant enough, overly rigid, slovenly... In short, I detest anyone who defiles design."

    Fan Zi glided to his side, clasping her hands by her cheeks.

    "Sire, I believe you can understand me. Sometimes, I wish I could personally sentence these trash to hellish execution."

    Her tone turned grim and sharp when she uttered the word "trash," but quickly returned to her ladylike, cheerful laughter.

    "Most of the time, I can maintain my composure, especially in your company, Sir, as you are a gentleman who brings joy to both my heart and mind."

    Yan Qiling smiled at her, a tinge of regret in his expression.

    He didn't say anything more but turned around to pick out a warmer and more practical down jacket for Ming Yiyang.

    As they walked back with the jacket, they happened to encounter Guan Zhiyi, who shared a room with Oliver.

    Guan Zhiyi halted them immediately and whispered,

    "Have you already made a deal with Miss Fan? Is there anything we should be cautious about?"

    "Just be as gentlemanly and elegant as possible, that way she'll feel more at ease," Yan Qiling replied while holding the jacket.

    Guan Zhiyi was about to inquire further, but their entire clothing selection had been rather uneventful, leaving nothing much to discuss.

    Ming Yiyang was more concerned about where Oliver had gone than answering Guan Zhiyi's questions.

    "Well, him."

    Guan Zhiyi sounded exasperated upon hearing the question:

    "He finished his meal and went to take a bath. He said he'd be out in ten minutes and asked me to get his down jacket first. He even included his share in that request."

    He let out a long sigh.

    "That's why I wanted to ask more. After all, everyone should be getting their own clothes with their respective cards, right? I'm not sure if it's even allowed for me to fetch his on his behalf."

    Yan Qiling seemed nonchalant, showing no intention of empathizing with Guan Zhiyi's predicament:

    "I suggest you just use your own card and ask Fanzi for your clothes. Bring Oliver's card back to him and let him fetch his own; that would be the safest approach."

    "That sounds good. I was thinking the same! Thank you."

    Guan Zhiyi mustered up the courage to head alone to where Fanzi was, while Ming Yiyang and Yan Qiling returned to their room.

    Closing the door, Yan Qiling unfolded the quilt from the closet and spread it over the tatami mat. Suddenly, Ming Yiyang asked from behind:

    "…Did you just try to make Miss Fan dislike you? And then, with that deadly curse on you, were you planning to turn her into your exclusive designer?"

    "Mmm."

    Yan Qiling paused in his task of folding clothes. Turning his head, he smiled warmly and spoke softly,

    "You noticed, huh?"

    "Isn't it obvious? You were asking her such questions; the calculation was clear as day on your face."

    Ming Yiyang sensed again the almost absurd perspective this person had on life and death, putting them aside when it suited him.

    Unable to resist, he gently touched the roof of his mouth with his tongue, seeking confirmation of the symbiotic talisman's presence through its sensation.

    He now began to doubt whether his "threat" to Yan Qiling had truly had any effect back then.

    In the brief silence, Yan Qiling remained silent.

    Ming Yiyang gathered his thoughts, mentally preparing himself for a potential verbal barrage from the other party.

    "Isn't Death's Gate a perilous curse to you?"

    "Yes, it is," Yan Qiling replied, a rare double affirmation from him.

    "But precisely because it's a perilous curse, the one casting it must also bear a heavy price."

    "Pity, They don't wish to pay too much of a price for me. So, They decided to offer some useless trinkets as a 'reward' to offset Their cost."

    "Does that sound a bit abstract?"

    Yan Qiling pondered for a moment and sketched a hollow stick figure on his notepad.

    "This is me."

    Next to it, he drew a black figure:

    "This is the one who cursed me."

    He wrote "Death Gate" in the blank space, connecting the black and hollow figures:

    "The Death Gate's curse was initially aimed at taking my life. Carrying out such an action requires energy, and double the amount of it."

    "For example, if I wanted to take ten dollars from you, I would need to pay a cost of twenty dollars to acquire that ten dollars."

    Yan Qiling suddenly smiled:

    "How could I forget, you're a Taoist master, you understand this better than me. So, you also know that in curses, life is not treated equally. Life is merely a form of energy, varying in length and size."

    "At the time, given my existence, they would have had to pay a tremendous cost to curse me to death. Unfortunately, no one was willing to sacrifice for the Death Gate's curse. Hence, they took a detour."

    Yan Qiling drew a figure with a star on its chest in the empty space:

    "They created a curse that reads 'those who despise Yan Qiling will lead him to the Death Gate.' They shifted the curse's subject from me to those who 'despise' me."

    "This curse is quite cunning; it avoided the cost, making those who 'despise' me bear the price of opening the Death Gate. As you've seen, anyone who triggers my 'Death Gate,' whether successfully or not, cannot survive."

    He connected the star figure with the hollow one.

    "And due to the nature of the Realm of No End, these deceased entities become a part of me – of course, this is actually a crucial aspect of the Death Gate curse."

    "If the Death Gate cannot kill me, it will drive me mad with the intrusion of outsiders, thus neutralizing their 'threat' as well."

    Ming Yiyang clenched his fists upon hearing this.

    Yan Qiling put down his pen, halting his drawing.

    "However, they didn't anticipate that I would curse myself."

    "Whoever brings Yan Qiling to the Death Gate shall become His believer."

    Ming Yiyang was stunned, as if seeing this person for the first time.

    The other party showed no sign of holding back, revealing the truth for the first time without reservation:

    "No matter how insane these outsiders may be, once they fall under this curse, it becomes difficult for them to thoroughly disrupt me. The more troublesome issue is that they manifest their faith in different ways, so I'm still somewhat affected."

    "But…"

    The man smiled softly:

    "When I gradually grasped the patterns of the Death Gate Curse, the 'rewards' it offered sometimes surpassed the risks involved. But, at the end of the day, risks are still risks."

    His smile faded quickly as he gazed at the narrow gap in the paper door. Beyond it lay a vast expanse of snow:

    "No one would willingly allow so many unchecked souls into their private domain. If given the chance, I'd rather have nothing."

    Ming Yiyang was at a loss for words.

    In this lifetime, all the comforting words he could muster had deserted him at this moment.

    In the silence, Yan Qiling got up to pour tea.

    His expression remained as composed as ever, as if he was unaware of the profoundness of his own words.

    This tranquility often left Ming Yiyang with an indescribable, stifling discomfort.

    It wasn't because Yan Qiling had done anything offensive that caused this unease; rather, it was... a powerless rage stemming from empathizing with his plight yet being unable to change the past.

    In this matter, he could only listen and had no chance to alter anything.

    However, lightening the mood was something he excelled at.

    As the young man accepted the teacup offered by the man, he tried his best to appear nonchalant and relaxed:

    "You... No wonder you had that solemn attitude back at the hotel. This kind of situation is indeed mentally polluting when you think about it."

    "Are you referring to that time? My seriousness wasn't because we were entering the Dead Gate."

    Yan Qiling didn't sit down but leaned against the cabinet, holding the teacup with one hand to his lips:

    "It was because if you entered the Dead Gate with me."

    "You would have died."

    Ming Yiyang was somewhat stunned, even forgetting to swallow the still-hot tea.

    The man sipped the fragrant tea gently, swallowing the swirling steam along with it into his crimson lips. His gaze seemed to pierce through the snow-capped mountains at dusk, carrying the vicissitudes of life experienced in the world.

    The young man eventually managed to carefully tuck away his pounding heart and regain his composure:

    "Why did you bring Patland along then?"

    "Him?"

    Yan Qiling gently placed the teacup on the cabinet, his moist lips curving into a smile:

    "Because the Unseen Master resides within his body. After you awakened your Purple Pheasant Yin-Yang Eyes, he never woke up. Primarily because if he did, you would have seen through his spirit and flesh being different, and he would have been exposed on the spot."

    "He could have killed me."

    Ming Yiyang met the man's gaze directly:

    "I'm just an ordinary person."

    "He wanted to, but he lacked the ability. That was merely the world of an individual-level Unseen Master. With your Yin-Yang Eyes, you can even deal with a Heaven-level Unseen Master, let alone him."

    The blue irises flickered, and the man leaned on the cabinet, crouching on one knee to look eye-to-eye with the seated Ming Yiyang:

    "You don't understand the extent of its power, but it doesn't matter. You'll see soon enough."

    Ming Yiyang gazed at him in silence.

    A swirl of complicated emotions stirred within him once more.

    Yet, Yan Qiling tilted his head slightly and smiled at him, saying,

    "Although you've heard this many times, I'll reiterate. I'm not some 'gentleman'.

    "A true 'gentleman' would never become a Demonic Overlord.

    "No matter how kind or pure a Demonic Overlord might be.

    "It's because of the world's deepest, ugliest obsessions.

    "That they transform into Demonic Overlords."

    For the last three sentences, Yan Qiling held back the urge to blurt them out, a rare instance of him not speaking them aloud to the young man before him.

    Thus, they reverberated deep within him, circulating in his boundless inner world to form new mantras.

    Yan Qiling had long forgotten.

    How it felt to be fearful of being disliked by someone.

    He had already ceased to care about anyone's feelings, sometimes even his own.

    Endurance, suppression, obstinacy—these were remarkable qualities when one sought to achieve something.

    Whether as a person or as the ruler of the Unseen Realm, he had once attained everything he desired through this ruthless virtue, whether it was strength or vengeance.

    The concept of "rebellion" was no longer familiar to him.

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