SZ Chapter 4

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Split Zone 13
4 Grievous News

When I grew tired from running around, I returned to my room to sleep. I’d arranged for Laurel to live on the floor below mine. I lived on the 13th floor of the Western Residence, and Nie Zun lived next door to me. After a person lives in this place for a long time, they often forget that they’re actually just an intangible soul, and they live like any ordinary person would.

This place is about the size of a small city, and it’s split into four districts—the Eastern, Western, Southern, and Northern Districts. To the north is the Northern District, Mr Blond’s turf. Within the Northern District is the Split Zone’s center, the large hall I was taken to when I first arrived. It’s where the blond man lives, taking care of all the administrative business here.

Each district has its own jurisdiction system, its own rules and regulations. Each district also houses three—just three—buildings. There’s the residence, where people live, extending thirty stories tall and across the district. Every room is the same size, sufficient for one person to live in. Everyone here, aside from Mr Blond, lives in the same type of room, regardless of status. And we all live simply.

In addition to the expansive residential building, each district also has an academy and a marketplace.

Life here is rather dreary for most, so people often decide to enroll in school, either as a student or a teacher. Some people continually spend their time at the academy, learning many things, waiting for the day that they’ll meet their soul splitter. And when they finally return to the physical world, their accumulated knowledge will become useful; their time spent here wouldn’t have been wasted.

Personally, I felt their concerns were unnecessary. The passage of time here is different from the world we came from. While I don’t know the exact conversion, I’ve never seen anyone die from old age here, so I’d suppose time passes by much slower in this world, and that means we’re unlikely to see our physical bodies die in that world. In a way, this place seemed to embody the meaning of eternity.

Aside from going to school to learn, people here can also go to the market to sell and buy things. The selling and purchasing of goods is more of a bartering system, as there is no currency here. If you needed something, you asked for it, and if the seller liked you, they might give that thing to you, or you may need to help them with something in exchange for the goods.

The goods in the marketplace were all provided by Mr Blond. If one wanted to operate a business in the building, they could apply to their district commander. The district commander would then relay the request to the leader, and if he approved, he would distribute the goods to be sold.

Though our consciousness shapes our appearances, we are unable to produce something from nothing. Most people who used the market are those who have certain items they really like. Others only occasionally visited out of boredom.

While each district here had its own administrative system, it stands throughout the Split Zone that as long as you do not kill, you will not die. As such, loneliness grew to become our biggest enemy. Just think about it for a moment. When you truly have an unlimited time to do anything, perhaps you’ll find that you don’t know what you should do. Everything ends up being the same. When everything is eternal and endless, things seem to lose all value. This is true of time as well.

When I awoke the next morning, I was met with panicked pacing on the 12th floor and startling screams that broke through the peace of the Western District.

I quickly grabbed my bow and arrow and headed out of my room. Nie Zun exited his room at the same time. His black hair was a mess, and his pair of bewitching dark eyes swept over the area. Following his gaze, I saw that a lot of people were rushing downstairs.

When they saw me, several people fearfully called out, “Commander, the 12th floor! The 12th floor! Something bad’s happened!” No one seemed to be able to spit out a complete sentence, so I waved them away and ran downstairs, my bow on my back. Nie Zun followed behind me.

The 12th floor corridor was jam-packed. Fortunately, most of the people living in the Western District had human-like appearances, so I was able to shove my way through the crowd. When they saw me, many moved to let me pass. I finally made my way through, but then the scene before my eyes had me stop in my tracks. A bone-chilling feeling crept up from the soles of my feet to the crown of my head.

The door to a room was opened. The furnishings inside looked just the same as every other room’s. The only difference was that in the center of this room, there was a long and slender metal pole. It was very long, extending from the ground to the ceiling. And the pole had pierced trough a female body. Laurel.

Young Laurel’s body was skewered onto the pole, entering from her bottom, up and out the top of her head, into the ceiling. Her body was covered in blood, and the room was covered in bloodstains.

Because the pole had stabbed through the top of her head, Laurel was nearly beyond recognition. But there was a faintly discernible mark on her neck, a small butterfly symbol that would have once glowed dimly. It was no longer lit because there was now a key inserted into it. That meant that someone had both tortured the girl and then killed her with a splitting key. That’s why she’d died in such a tragic manner.

The bloodstains around the rest of the room were likely from her killer, after they burst apart. There was no way to identify them now.

Under my administration, it had been a long time since anyone had died such a wretched and bloody death. My eyes couldn’t move, fixed on the sight in front of me. Laurel’s hair was no longer soft and beautiful, but matted with blood. Her big, opened eyes, also coated in blood, made for an unsightly image.

An anger that I’d never felt before suddenly surged through me. This was the Western District, the Western District that had always opposed murder. Who would suddenly do such a hair-raising thing? Had someone encouraged this activity? Cruelty was, after all, the only delight to be had in the Split Zone. Because people grew very lonely here, this world had become a very cruel place.

The abilities that our bodies can make use of in this world rely on our mental force (MF). That means that our mental force can be turned into physical strength.

For example, someone with 20 MF who used 10 of their levels to create a superhuman appearance, would have 10 levels remaining. If you wanted to have superhuman powers, like being able to jump 5 or 6 meters at a time, you would have to utilize more levels. If jumping 5 meters required 2 MF, when you jumped, you’d drop 2 levels, which would replenish when you landed.

This applies in a similar fashion when people fight. One’s strength is dependent on the amount of levels they have to transform. When trying to determine someone’s strength, you cannot look at their appearance. Rather, you have to consider their willpower and their mental force.

People can choose to live ordinary lives here. They can eat, they can sleep. But they can also do nothing, if they please. Because our bodies here are formed from our consciousness, whatever you can think up goes. If you don’t want to do anything, you could very well lay in bed all day, and you still wouldn’t die.

But the feeling of pain still exists. That’s why there are always people, who’ve grown too lonely, who decide to harm others for their own amusement. This is a world where the strong prey on the weak. It’s much crueler than the world of the living that we came from.

The only thing that’s impossible here is to use your mental force to create things from thin air. Our mental force can only be used to enhance ourselves. Items can only be bartered for in the marketplace, and these items are provided solely by Mr Blond.

Because this world is such a merciless place, it was split into four districts, led by commanders with high mental forces. The Northern District is a bit different from the other districts, as it is led by Mr Blond himself. Most of the people who reside there are very mysterious characters.

The remaining three districts each have their own sets of characteristics as well. The Southern District is governed by a man named Si Luo. While I’d been here for more than a year, I’d yet to meet him. The Southern District is home mostly to people with an MF of 20 or lower, a very vulnerable group of people. For that reason, the Southern District rarely had any large conflicts or murders. They were all alike—weak. But they say that, leaving Mr Blond out of the equation, at an MF of 77, Si Luo had the highest mental force in the Split Zone.

An MF of 77 was not only rare, Si Luo was to possess such a mental force. That’s why, even though the residents of his district were weak, people from other districts wouldn’t easily encroach on them. The Southern District had become known as the Promise Land. It was forever safe, and life there was simple, peaceful.

In direct contrast, Jiao S’ Eastern District reeked of blood and murder. It was filled with violence and people out to plunder. Those who lived in the Eastern District had higher than average mental forces. Any random person there would have an MF between 30 and 40. An average person’s MF was between 10 and 20, which meant that the Eastern District was full of strong people. And so, the feeble had no way of surviving there.

Jiao S was a strange woman, and she always appeared as a girl in a school uniform. Her authoritative measures were as different from ours as black was to white. She permitted an entirely destructive kind of lifestyle.

The remaining district, the Western District, is under my care, and it is the most half-baked of them all. I’m like a drink that people can never finish, halfway empty, sloshing around.

I don’t know what Mr Blond was thinking when he decided, half a year ago, to make me the commander of the Western District. My MF was only 52. While it was a relatively high value, it couldn’t even begin to compare to Jiao S’ or Si Luo’s. Jiao S had an MF of 69, second only to Si Luo in the Split Zone. And me? Mine was a measly 52.

Nie Zun arrived here at the same time as me, and he was also present when Mr Blond greeted me at the Split Zone center. He’d arrived just an hour before me, and when he first arrived, his MF was already 67, much higher than mine. It was a very well known fact in the Split Zone, but as he rarely exerted his mental force for anything, and since he didn’t seem skilled in fighting, Mr Blond didn’t give him the job. On that point, I could understand. But even You Ji’s MF of 51 was just barely less than mine. Though there weren’t many with a high mental force, at the least, there were enough people with one around 60.

I really couldn’t understand why I was made a commander. And so, I’d always remained rather carefree. I didn’t concern myself too much with the happenings in the district, leaving You Ji to take care of it in my stead. You Ji had drawn up the rules for the Western District, and under her governing, our district was a considerably peaceful place. Even if it wasn’t the haven that the Southern District was.

Most of the people who came to the Western District were like myself, not too heavily invested in things, just muddling along here. While violence hadn’t been completely eliminated here, I was blind to it all. It was always You Ji who took care of it.

We couldn’t just randomly ask others to reveal their split symbols for us to see, and we couldn’t use force to pressure others just to find our soul splitter either. Mr Blond wouldn’t allow for such activity. Hence the purpose of a district commander, to lay down the rules and regulate the inhabitants of their district. But I was completely useless. I’d been a commander for half a year, yet I didn’t even know all the rules about the Western District, because I left everything to be handled by You Ji and Nie Zun.

But now, in front of my eyes, there was a once beautiful young girl who’d just been waiting to return home. After her cruel death, I decided that I couldn’t continue on in such an apathetic and idle manner. Perhaps it was my attitude of paying no heed to things and of giving up on life that led to Laurel’s tragedy.

Sometimes, we feel that being weak isn’t a big deal, because as long as you aren’t bullied, you can go on living a feeble life forever. But one day, you’ll come to realize that weakness isn’t yours alone. When you are weak, you will bring harm to those you care about. Because you are weak, you will be unable to protect those who are important to you. Nobody wants to force themselves to become powerful, but there will always be someone you want to protect. And then, all we can do is force ourselves to change. Because, whether you are weak or strong, it doesn’t only affect only you.

I looked at Laurel’s small corpse, my hand tightly clenching onto my bow. My nails dug into my skin, and as fresh drops of blood appeared, my skin began to quickly regenerate.

mayy’s comments:

Interesting. So why was Li Shen dropped into this position of power, when she was neither interested nor particularly qualified for it? What kinds of plans are the ‘higher powers’ making? Now, while I’m glad that she’s found motivation to act/do, at the same time, it’s sad that it had to come at the cost of the death of someone dear to her.


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