Elder Liu came by once again in the morning. I had eaten lunch and dinner the following day alone, and I’m getting used to being alone. Isolation isn’t a fun thing to go through and there is no choice right now, I guess.
Elder Liu entered the room and sat across from me as I once again ate breakfast. It was the same food and I’m sure I’ll start getting bored with it soon.
“What is it you want to talk about today?”
Better to get this over with. I can’t seem to make any progress with them, anyway.
“Will you talk to your mother?” Elder Liu asked.
“The question is whether she will talk to me,” I answered. “I’ve already asked her the question, just like I’ve asked you. The question is always avoided. You don’t even want to acknowledge that the question has been asked. I don’t know what you want from me.”
“That question isn’t one I’m qualified to answer as an elder in this Sect,” Elder Liu said. “That’s a question that has to be answered by the Sect Master herself and if she doesn’t wish to answer then I cannot answer in her place.”
“So you acknowledge there is something that you’re not telling me,” I said.
Elder Liu seemed to freeze up. Then after a moment she spoke again.
“I cannot acknowledge anything, I simply state that no one except for the Sect Master herself is able to talk to you about anything related to the curse, so you have to get along with her. She is still your mother and as your mother she still has a desire for you to have the best of everything.”
“So best of everything means she wants to control me and make me do things that I would never want to do?” I couldn’t let go of the fact I was controlled like that. “I mean, why doesn’t she just take my mind away and make me into a puppet then? She had me behaving how she wanted for the last few days before we came back here, so why did she stop?”
“She apologized for that,” Elder Liu said.
“So because she apologized, I’m supposed to be happy?” I can’t help but shake my head at this. “I wasn’t able to act on my own, I had to go along with every one of her whims whether it was my own will or against my will. I had no control over myself. My body acted according to her desire, and I had no way of changing any of it. She took away my humanity, she took away my free will and even now I’m locked in this prison because of a technique she wanted to cultivate and you’re telling me I have to be happy and forgive her just because she said a few heartfelt words of apology? No, seriously, tell me why I should feel grateful for such treatment?”
“She is a powerful Sect Master,” Elder Liu said. “Many would give her face if she said any heartfelt words towards them. The world is one that acknowledges the strong.”
“Fine, I acknowledged her strength then.” No use arguing with her. “I acknowledge she has the strength to make me into nothing more than a puppet and will use me to her own heart’s content. So why even talk to me? Why come here and talk to me? What do you want from me? You say she wants to have a good relationship with her son, yet she’s here hiding behind you instead of coming to talk to me herself. No, she doesn’t want a relationship with me, she wants me to be the person she wants me to be and then she wants to have a relationship with that person. You might as well just let me die in that case. Torture me until I submit. Just do it.”
I’m done with this. I don’t think I’d actually like to be tortured, but at this point I just really don’t know what else to say then.
“Why are you so obstinate towards her?” Elder Liu now asked.
“Why is she so unwilling to tell me what’s really going on? Why are all of you not willing to tell me anything? You keep saying I’m her son and she loves me, yet I’m kept her a prisoner and not even being told what’s going on. So what if she loves me? She doesn’t trust me and if she doesn’t trust me, then does it even matter if she loves me? What’s the point of caring about someone if you can’t trust them? I’m not even being given a chance to prove myself in any way and all you’re doing is keeping me here like this.”
Elder Liu was silent again. It seems like this old woman who’s lived for thousands of years wasn’t at all used to people talking back to her. Powerful people rarely have others arguing against them, most of them rarely have to look for others to get what they want either.
My situation was one that is unique in that there is a powerful cultivator who wants me to like or love them back. Usually there isn’t much romance in cultivation novels because the focus is on the cultivation system and not the way people behave. There are some delightful novels which talk about the hypocrisy of the individual, but mostly it’s all just a bunch of crap. Real crap that gets old fast.
“I mean, what is it you want from me?” I ask. “What does she want from me exactly? If she wants me to admire her like everyone else, then she has to stop with all this nonsense and fill me in on what’s going on. Does she want me to trust her? Well, if she wants, then she has to show me I can trust her. I’m not a disciple of your sect, and I never once asked to be here. Telling me I have to trust her when she won’t even let me get to know her or tell me the truth. She doesn’t even talk to me like I’m an adult, nor does she take into account that I have my own thoughts and feelings and somehow I’m expected to behave a certain way? No. Really. Tell me… what does she want from me?”
Elder Liu said nothing. She got up and left again for the day. I put down my food. I’m going to stop eating now, maybe I should do something similar in the future. I get into bed and put the covers on. The room is so boring and I have nothing to do in here. Couldn’t they even be considerate and give me some books to read?
Elder Liu once again went to find Risless. Feeling like there was a need to report the progress on Dong Chen. She felt that Dong Chen was a mortal unlike any she had met before. Most mortals would grovel on the ground for their lives in front of a cultivator, especially a powerful cultivator such as herself yet this man was telling her to simply kill him because he couldn’t be bothered to live life the way they were forcing him too.
He even resolutely told them to torture him and try to force him into behaving the way they wanted rather than agreeing to bargain or submit out of fear. While she was frustrated at Dong Chen’s stubbornness, as a cultivator who had seen much of the world, she admired his willingness to challenge anything without fear of his own death. If he was someone who didn’t grow up a mortal but as a cultivator, then he would be the kind of person who would figure out new ways of entering new realms that others simply were too afraid to do themselves.
“How was my son today?” Risless asked.
“He called you a coward who hid behind me,” Elder Liu said. “He told me you were someone who wasn’t willing to even talk with him or get to know him, but simply imposed your own ideas into him and tried to force him into behaving the way you wanted. He even asked and demanded to know what you wanted from him.”
“What I wanted from him?” Risless was a bit confused.
“Dong Chen believes you keep him here because there is something more than a mother’s love going on.” Elder Liu sighed. “I’ve told you again and again that your son isn’t a fool. He knows we are lying to him about why he is here. He doesn’t believe you fully, and even if he believes you love him, he doesn’t believe the Sect would put up with him unless there was something to do with you.”
“This… he is this… he seems to know…”
“It’s strange because the servants who watched over him when Dong Che was taking care and raising him never once mentioned about how intelligent he was,” Elder Liu said. “You won’t be able to convince him without telling him the truth.”