Split Zone 13
5 Who’s the Weakling?
Bow on my back, I ran across the top of the Western Residence. The residence is extremely large, stretching on as far as you can see. I clenched my teeth and used 5 MF to increase my speed. Like a burning phoenix, I rushed across the building, leaving behind a blazing red trail. After running for who knows how long, all I could feel was the dark, gloomy sky above pressing down on me.
Eventually, I realized another tunnel of wind had appeared beside me. Of course. I glanced to the side, and there was Nie Zun, effortlessly running with me. Even while running this fast, he still had that loathsome smile hanging on his face.
Nie Zun’s annoying voice rippled into my ears, “Hey, Li Shen, are you trying to kill me by running this fast? You clearly know that we can’t be more than 500 meters apart. Is this a proposal? Do you want to run away and elope?”
“I need to find You Ji. Is she at the academy right now?” I asked coldly.
“You really must have liked that little girl. I’ve never seen you so serious before.” Nie Zun’s voice was calm, at ease, as if a major event hadn’t just occurred. “What? You’re not planning on laying in bed all day long anymore?”
He pushed aside his bangs with his hand. In that same carefree, indifferent tone, he said, “I’ve been running after you a long time. Slow down.”
That’s what I hated most about him. He was a devil that lacked any sense of humanity. There was nothing that ever seemed to trouble him. I turned and glared at him.
“Stop glaring at me. You’re going to fall off soon.” Nie Zun suddenly stopped in his tracks.
I, on the other hand, continued running wildly. When I heard him, I looked back. Because I’d been so angry, and because I’d run so quickly, in just over ten hours, I’d already made it to the edge of the residential building. Ahead, the academy was ten stories shorter than the residence.
And so, because the dignified Western Commander didn’t have any brakes, she fell with an anguished wail. Like someone who didn’t open their parachute, I dropped down the gap between the thirty story residential building and the twenty story school building. Thirty stories isn’t a short distance. As I fell, I got to thinking. I wouldn’t end up dead, but I started to recall the pain of my body being smashed to pieces.
Living in this place, we grow accustomed to feeling pain that we wouldn’t have been able to withstand while we were alive. You didn’t die here after all. But the memory of the pain from my limbs being broken off when I last fell off of a thirty story building still haunted me. The last time, it had taken more than ten minutes to completely heal.
I had only one request. When I fall today, I just hope that my large breasts were left intact. (Passerby A floats past. “You’re calling those tiny buns ‘large’?”)
The wind rang in my ears. And suddenly, I felt something grab onto my ankle. My entire body floated in the air. Floated… in the air… Whoa! I turned to look up at him. “Nie Zun, since when could you freaking fly?!”
As he held me up in midair, Nie Zun slowly descended. During the frightening experience, his carefree expression remained unchanged. He tossed me to the ground and responded lightly, “That trick, stopping in midair, cost me 30 MF, you know?”
30 MF seemed worth it… After all, even if we were able to jump very high, being able to suspend yourself in midair wasn’t something an ordinary human could do. Having a large mental force wasn’t enough. One had to train extremely hard to manage something like that.
Of course, being able to expend 30 MF at once wasn’t something that many could do either. Although your mental force would be replenished once you landed, even something as ordinary as jumping a little higher than normal required MF. And every time you had to use MF, an additional 1 MF would also be consumed. In other words, you used up your strength a little each time you used mental force. These 1 MF ‘charges’ wouldn’t be replenished until the next day. That’s why there’s a limit to how often we can use our mental force in a day. And honestly, there were just too many things that required using MF in our daily lives. Moreover, using up 30 MF for a single action left you vulnerable in that timeframe.
I knew all that, but I wasn’t the least bit thankful to him. Had he called to me just a bit sooner, I wouldn’t even have fallen in the first place. He was obviously just trying to show off. Tch… What’s the big deal. I shot him a look of disdain.
He wasn’t looking at me though. Instead, his attention was drawn to the academy. I followed his gaze and saw You Ji heading over to us. Her head of green hair, in the light of day, left me feeling quite stuffed up.
“What kind of wind was blowing to bring you all the way to the academy so early in the morning? You even dropped down in such a stunning fashion. While you were falling, I even caught a glimpse of your panties.” You Ji looked at me with a mocking expression.
“Drop it. How much MF would you have had to use to see my panties while I was falling that quickly?”
You Ji swung her tail, covering her mouth with one hand as she laughed. “Come on then. What was able to push you out of bed today?”
I recalled that I’d come here for official business. My expression tensed. “Laurel died. The murder was a cruel one.”
You Ji’s smile stiffened. She looked at me with an incredulous expression. “What?”
I nodded gravely and motioned to Nie Zun. He pulled out a cellphone from his pocket to show You Ji the photos he’d taken of the scene.
You Ji took a look and frowned. “This method of death isn’t a question of cruelty. Rather, it’s just very strange. Why would someone do this to a kid? Laurel just arrived in the Split Zone, so she wouldn’t have had any enemies. …Unless they were aiming at you?” She looked at me, suspicions on her face.
I was about to respond when I spotted a dark figure fall from the sky. Boom! The sound echoed through the air. The sound seemed to have originated about 50 meters left of us, near the entrance to the academy. Something had fallen to the ground. And I soon realized what it was, because this scene was very familiar.
Something had fallen from the top of the academy, landing with a loud crash, splattering blood all around. A person. Without a moment’s hesitation, I rushed over. The head of the fallen figure was bent crooked. The lower half of his body was covered in blood. Without anything to slow or cushion his fall, this wasn’t a bad outcome for a twenty story drop.
I vaguely recognized the person. He’d been a math teacher at the academy. They said that he’d loved mathematics when he was alive, so after coming here, he continued to study it. Why would he have suddenly fallen down here?
His body still hadn’t started healing after a few minutes, so I crouched down and started examining his body. He’d maintained a human-like appearance, so I quickly found a lightbulb symbol on his chest, a split key inserted into it. I frowned. While a death like this surely wasn’t pleasant, this kind of situation also wasn’t completely out of the ordinary. We couldn’t connect it to the strange incident this morning. Not yet. But soon, my mind was changed.
When I turned over the man’s body, what I saw nearly made me vomit. Despite all the blood, I could still see insect-like creatures wriggling around on his back. They were white and oval-shaped, a bit larger than silkworm pupa. I’d never seen the creatures before. Each time they took a nibble off his back, I could see what looked like black teeth. His back was nearly gnawed off, as if these things had been feeding for a long time. There was an entire layer of skin missing, but you could still hear the sound of munching.
“What is this?!” Even You Ji couldn’t help screaming out.
In the Split Zone, there only exist humans and humans that had shapeshifted with their mental force. Animals, bugs, plants—those don’t exist here. Moreover, these were creatures I’d never seen in the real world either. They seemed to be some sort of insect, but regardless, why were they here in the Split Zone? This was certainly a strange place, but aside from our consciousness, nothing else was meant to exist.
“Presumably, he’d been tormented by venomous insects while he was alive. Since he couldn’t bear the pain any longer, perhaps he begged someone to use their splitting key to put him out of his misery,” Nie Zun analyzed calmly.
This death was definitely intentional, but who was responsible for it? An idea popped into my mind and I started to run.
Nie Zun grabbed onto me. “If you’re looking for the killer, their corpse is on the roof. I just took a look, and the entire roof is coated in blood. After he pushed this guy off, he must have burst apart.”
While everyone has a splitting key, it would only be useful to themselves and their corresponding soul splitter. To anyone else, it would just be like a scrap of metal. So, to kill another, someone would have to use their own key. That meant deaths happened in pairs.
Nie Zun’s tone was carefree, but there was no reason to doubt his words, so I didn’t bother checking the roof. The murderer’s body would have already exploded to bits, and there would be nothing recognizable about it.
My heart throbbed. Why had there been two murders in one day in the Western District? I hadn’t a single clue.
You Ji suddenly spoke up, “For such odd things like this to happen here, there must be a connection to Jiao S.” That’s right. These kinds of things could only occur if that strange woman had been involved. Unlike our Western District, the Eastern District was a place where violence ran rampant and anything could happen.
The three districts each have their own district lines, all located to the right of their marketplace. And each district has the same layout, with the residence beside the academy, and the academy next to the marketplace. The boundary lines isolate each district from the others. During the day, the district boundaries aren’t in effect. That is, for the thirty hours of day, you can travel freely between the districts of the Split Zone. However, when night comes, you can’t leave the district you’re in.
Despite the ability to freely travel across district lines, most people didn’t seem to ever leave their district, as each district has its own lifestyle. For those who traveled into other districts simply to cause trouble, Mr Blond had severe punishments in store for them. Just the thought made of it me shudder.
Mr Blond rarely made appearances anywhere. His Northern District also happened to be a very tranquil place. But unless there were some special circumstances, I never stepped foot in the Northern District. I only ever went there when he summoned me.
There’s a reason that I never seek him out though. Only the three district commanders, along with others he designates, are permitted to call on him. It so happens that there’s only one way to contact him, and it made me shudder even more than thinking about how he punished those who acted out of line. But, in such a situation, with all of the strange events that had occurred, I was forced to seek him out, using a method that made me want to kill myself.
I rolled my eyes, faced the sky, and cried out, “The most handsome, invincible, cutest, strongest, and greatest Leader, I’m your fan! Please meet with me!!!” That’s right. This was the one and only method that he provided for us to contact him. In the past, You Ji had been the one to call on him, and I’d been overjoyed watching from the sidelines. But now, the roles were reversed, and she was quite enjoying herself.
While we waited, I wanted to roll my eyes endlessly. Then, an image of the blond man’s face appeared before me. It didn’t matter to me what form he took, since I didn’t know what kind of existence he led anyway. But as I opened my mouth, I realized that his blue eyes didn’t carry the same gentleness and warmth that they once had. My words caught in my throat.
Since I didn’t say anything, he looked at me indignantly. “Li Shen, are you here to ask about the events in your district?” I didn’t know why he was angry, but the difference from how he’d always joked around with me in the past caused me to simply nod.
“You don’t need to seek me out for such things. Why did I make you the Western Commander? In the past half year, have you done anything to make the Western Disctrict a peaceful place?”
“But the Eastern…” As I started to refute, his expression grew furious, and I swallowed the rest of my words.
“I’ve told you before, that this place has its own rules, and every district has its own style of living. If the Eastern and Western Districts were exactly the same, there would be no need for the Eastern District to exist. This isn’t like the place where you once foolishly lived. If you have time to concern yourself with the Eastern lifestyle, why don’t you take care of the Western District first?”
My stubborn temper was awakened then. “Why should I govern the Western District? All I wanted was to find my soul splitter and leave this place.”
He looked at me coldly. “Then go ahead and find them. You clearly know that your soul splitter isn’t in the Western District, so why don’t you try searching in another district? Or are you afraid?” He spat out angrily, “I was really wrong about you, you weakling.” Then his face disappeared from in front of me.
I bit my lip and remained standing where I was.
Pfft! What’s up with Blondie’s fangirl chant? Imagine if some super buff, manly guy had to shout that out. Ha. Also, is Passerby A a sign that we’re going to get a bunch of snarky audience comments?
On another note entirely, I expect to see Li Shen eventually pick up the reigns and become a genuine leader, but I also sympathize with her plea. She neither asked for nor wanted to become this district commander, and then the person who put her in that spot won’t even toss her a bone. Ah, but what’s that saying? ‘Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.’