The same as last time, when we arrived at the academy, Nie Zun and Jie Pa went to reserve rooms. This time, we reserved four rooms, two sets across from each other.
“Why does Nie Zun always follow Ah Shen everywhere? He’s always close behind too.” Song Lu asked jokingly, unaware of the link between Nie Zun and me.
Nie Zun lifted his eyes and glanced over me. He revealed a small smile and said, “Because she can’t bear to leave me.”
My leg went flying across the air. “Who can’t bear to leave you? Go to hell.”
Song Lu looked at me with an ambiguous expression and smiled. I shook my head helplessly.
I couldn’t explain what Mr Blond had told me before, that the two of us had complementing personalities, and that’s why we always had to be within 500 meters of each other at all times. Since we were together every day though, it was natural that others would misunderstand. But surely, anyone who wasn’t blind could see that I hated him.
I hated that evil aura around him, hiding a demon within. The kind of guy who was frightening once he got serious. When I thought of how my second identity was trapped with him, I felt some resentment.
As I thought about these things, I snuck a glance at Nie Zun. He was the same as before—no, the same as always—looking like he could go to sleep at any moment.
“My pet, you’ll sleep with me tonight. Let that ugly girl stay with Jiao S. Jie Pa and you can come to my room.” The white-haired devil looked at me with dislike as he invited Nie Zun and Jie Pa.
Wanting to vomit, I responded, “The two of you should hurry over to him. Quickly, get away from me.”
Jie Pa stood like a gentleman and adjusted his glasses. “Ms Ah Shen, I’m straight.”
Guan Nie pouted and shot a flirtatious look at Jie Pa. “You’re so bad, rejecting me like this.”
I really couldn’t stand it. Could you possibly handle it if a pretty-faced demonic ‘man’ with white hair that flowed down to his feet, constantly said things like ‘I this and I that’ and ‘Oh, you’re so bad’ in a very masculine voice? (t/n: Feminine terminology)
Well, I can’t.
I quickly walked into my room and closed the door to get away from that monster. About ten minutes after I lied down in my bed, I sensed someone open the door and walk inside. Perhaps it was the culmination of all the long days spend together, but even without looking, I knew it was Nie Zun.
The school dorms had the same layouts in all the districts. I felt him jump onto the top bunk, and I closed my eyes. It would be just a bit longer before night hit.
I couldn’t fall asleep, so I lied there quietly. I don’t know how much time passed, and I’m not sure if the sky had yet darkened, but I didn’t want to open my eyes.
“Li Shen.” Nie Zun’s calm voice drifted down from the top bunk.
About three minutes passed before I received a reply. “Do you ever think that we may be stuck in this place forever?”
“Nothing lasts forever. It’s not like you haven’t seen them, the old people. If your body died in the real world, your consciousness would also disappear from here.”
“Have you thought about the time conversion? If one day here is one minute in the outside world, what would you do?”
I was silent.
If… one day here was one day in the outside. Then, one year there would be 525,600 of our days. I would still be 22 in the real world. Forget one year here, even after ten or 20 years, someone in a vegetative state may still not have died in the real world. Then, time here would truly be unimaginably eternal.
Is this why people killed here, to conclude things?
But could I die?
As if seeing through my thoughts, Nie Zun replied, “You can’t die, because your life doesn’t belong to you alone.”
Eyes closed, I gave a bitter laugh. “Even Li Qing could die. But not me?”
“Li Qing’s death was an anomoly. Everyone knows that she was no ordinary person.”
That’s right. Li Qing was definitely not ordinary.
I remember when I first arrived in the Split Zone, after I was bestowed with my split symbol, and I always had to stay together with Nie Zun. I hated him so much back then. Even if we were inseperable, I hated him because I’d equated him to the murderer who killed Senior Gao Qi.
Nie Zun and I were both sent to the Western District. When I first met Li Qing, she’d been dressed in silver armor with a head of short, indigo hair. She was tall and always carried a broadsword that wasn’t befitting of a woman. Her brows also had a masculine sharpness to them. When you saw her, you’d want to take a second look; it wasn’t a gentle and delicate beauty, but rather a heroic and valiant kind of beauty.
Her eyes always had a certain edge, but the faint smile on her lips was as refreshing as a spring breeze. While she hadn’t been the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen, she had been the woman who was hardest to forget.
The first thought I had upon seeing her was, ‘Is this the same grace and elegance that surrounded Hua Mulan?’
Li Qing’s actions had been swift and decisive, passing like thunder and moving like wind. She’d turned the Western District into something orderly and tidy. She had thirty capable and loyal subordinates under her, each in charge of managing one floor of the residence.
Among them was a group of triplets. Supposedly they all arrived in the Split Zone at the same time due to some genetic disorder; they were the only triplets in the history of the Split Zone. We addressed them as generals.
I’d heard from someone that the three of them, carrying the same formidable heroic auras, all loved Li Qing. Someone else said that after Li Qing died, they all went in search of death. But it wasn’t possible for three people to seek death. And since they weren’t the kind who would harm the innocent, I didn’t believe those rumors.
No one knows where they disappeared to, but I never saw them again.
This left only 27 floor supervisors remaining.
Li Qing had become an esteemed, legendary figure in the Split Zone, not only for her governence of the Western District, but also because of the unique circumstances of her death. It may sound a bit strange to say that, but it’s true. Li Qing had neither been perpetrator nor offender in a murder, and her consciousness hadn’t left because her physical body died. No one knew how she’d died.
One day, she told her subordinates that she’d completed arrangements for the Western District. As if she’d known she were going to die. Even my assignment as the next commander, while technically appointed by Mr Blond, had to have been approved by her. Before leaving, she’d paved well the path for me, allowing the next six months to pass smoothly.
I was lazy and powerless… But it seemed I was fortunate, because a lot of people were helping to take care of me.
Whenever I think of Li Qing, I always feel a deep sadness. Though we hadn’t been very close while she was alive, for some reason, her death had taken a great toll on me.
I opened my lips gently. “Nie Zun.”
“Mmh?” Nie Zun replied, lightly.
“If Li Qing were still here, would there have been fewer incidents in the Western District? Was… Was she wrong in giving me the Western District?”
Nie Zun’s words came as a light breeze, “I can’t answer that kind of question.”
As expected, he always kept that carefree, cold demeanor. The occasional bouts of tenderness were fleeting, and ordinarily, he watched from afar, alone and keeping his distance.
“But,” his light voice sounded again, “is there something you’re doubtful or confused about? Whether it was right or wrong, she left the district to you. And whether or not you’ve governed it well up to now, what’s important is that we’re here to help you.”
He turned in bed. “Li Shen. Haven’t Song Lu, Yu Liang, Jie Pa, You Ji, and the 27 floor supervisors been there for you? Even if you do something wrong, there will be others to help you carry the burden. Even if you’ve disappointed Li Qing, there will be others to carry that disappointment with you. So, what’s there to find difficult?”
I felt his eyes land on me, so I finally opened my own. The sky was dark. I saw his head hanging down from the top bunk, watching me. His eyes were filled with… something I didn’t understand. Was it indifference, calm, loneliness?
“Moreover,” he started again, his eyes carrying a warmth that hadn’t seemed to be there before, “you have me.”
I was a bit startled.
His lips lifted up in an enchanting smile that somehow seemed to also carry an unclear agony. “Whether you like it or not, we’re inseparable. In this place, you’ll just have to let me stay with you forever.”
Perhaps I’d already heard those words more times than I could bear, but I couldn’t understand the meaning behind his smile. It wasn’t a confession, and they were words filled with helplessness, but what was that agonized dejection on his smile?
Why would he be dejected?
No, don’t think about it. I never really think too much on things. By not thinking too much, I’m able to live fairly happily.
When I was alive, my parents said that my heart was so big that you could grab it right out. After dying, though I couldn’t pull it out, my heart was still very big.
No need to worry about too much. But…
Subconsciously, I glanced over at him again, wanting to determine where that dejection in his eyes came from. But when I looked over, I found that he’d already returned to lying on his bed.
I thought about it a moment, and then I suddenly turned over and got out of bed. “Nie Zun, I’m going for a walk.” I walked over to the window.
“Your crazy nighttime running illness kicking up again?” he asked without much concern.
Without turning back, I said, “You don’t have to come along. I’ll just run in circles. I want some fresh air, but I won’t travel more than 500 meters.” And without waiting for his reply, I jumped out the window.
The Southern District really was very quiet. Once night arrived, it seemed no one went outside. These people must live strictly according to the rules.
The nighttime wind felt like it was making an attack.
I’ve never understood how the Split Zone could be likened to the real world. Everything here was so strange. There were no animals, and plants all had to be grown by the residents. There was no change in weather either.
But why was there wind? Why were we able to use cellphones?
I had no answers, nor did I want to try to figure it out. Perhaps I’ve grown too used to it here. In the end, it’s not all that different from living in the real world. If we were to talk about people’s cruelty, maybe people in the real world were crueler than those here.
With that thought, I tossed my hair and started running through the nearby forest.
In the Southern District, all the buildings were surrounded by forest. The greenery here didn’t look bad. The people here must be very at peace, to sort something like that out.
To avoid traveling more than 500 meters from the school, I ran circles in the forest. As I increased my speed, I felt my red dress and hair blowing in the wind, like a burning flame. I didn’t want to slow down. Running, running… After I arrived in the Split Zone, this is what I do most often.
After who know’s how many hours, I finally slowed down and looked around the forest.
“Watching you run for three hours—even if you didn’t get tired of it, I did.” A charming and attractive voice entered my ears.
I stopped in my steps. This was a voice I was much too familiar with.
Once, it had been a captivating voice, as if it had its own electromagnetic force. Every time I heard it, my soul felt like it was being captured. But now, though it was still enchanting, his voice lacked warmth and instead carried a sinister and chilling flavor.
I couldn’t stop from turning towards the source of the voice. A face I couldn’t be more familiar with suddenly entered my view.
Gao Qi. No, Gaoqin Jiuye.
I find myself dropping out of first person occasionally when translating, only to look up at the wall of text and realize I need to change it all back to first person >.>
As for the story. I’m a little (just a little) upset that Li Shen is still going on about how much easier it is to ignore all her problems. Girl, you have to start solving the problems!
This late night run-in sounds… ominous? I wonder, is this destiny (chapter title) pointing to her position as a commander, her tie to Nie Zun, or her tie to Gaoqin Jiuye? Hmm…