36 Unexplained Death
Nie Zun saw my hands, and his pupils seemed to sink briefly. For some reason, there was an ambiguous smile on his face. After he took off his gloves, his elegant, pale hands were exposed, and he looked very at ease in that moment. He pulled the legs of the boy off of his body.
Nie Zun’s actions were entirely relaxed, and the moment he saw my hands, the depressed look in his eyes turned into a strange kind of enjoyment.
As he pushed away the boy, the boy’s body ended up split in half! I nearly screamed out of fear. That bald boy had been ripped apart by Nie Zun! Right above his own head! Blood splattered onto my face and spilled onto Nie Zun’s hair. But his expression still had that ambiguous smile, a kind of enjoyment on his face.
He tossed aside the boy he just ripped apart, and then he walked directly over to my side. He wasn’t looking at me though. Instead, he walked up to Laurel, who’d just removed the arrow from her eye but was still sreaming.
With his hands that were white as fresh snow atop a mountain, he grabbed Laurel’s hanging legs and forcefully pulled down. He pulled her down from the rope that tied her to the stone ceiling with the ease of a person grabbing a small animal. Grabbing her by the legs, Nie Zun tossed Laurel over onto the boy he’d ripped apart.
On the other side of the room, Gaoqin Jiuye’s eyes tightened, and the air inside the stone walls started to shake violently. My balance was already unsteady, but now with the added surge of air, I fell over towards Nie Zun, my body still trembling and my hands still bleeding.
The weird expression in Nie Zun’s eyes suddenly turned to panic when he saw me falling. Instead of reaching out to catch me, he quickly moved to dodge me. So then, I fell to the ground. Nie Zun bent over and picked up his gloves, quickly readorning them on his hands.
After replacing his gloves on his hands, Nie Zun helped me up. The air in the stone room continued to shake violently. Gaoqin Jiuye was surrounded in a stormy white fog, his eyes revealing something sinister and merciless. The rushing air had long ago extinguished the torch on the wall. In the darkness, Gaoqin Jiuye’s eyes glowed like a beast’s; it wasn’t the kind of fiendish, amused expression that Nie Zun had worn, but rather a different kind of demonic glow.
The girl behind him was being shredded to bits by the white flurry surrounding her. It wrapped around her, like gentle clouds with blades cutting in clockwork-like intervals. And then the girl disappeared without leaving a drop of blood!
Gaoqin Jiuye clasped his hands together, and then the air thundered explosively.
As the fog spread, the entire room grew hazy. The increasingly tormenting pain inside of me was about to knock me unconscious. Before I passed out, I saw Laurel where she’d landed after Nie Zun tossed her. Blood still streamed from her eye. And then I heard her anguished scream turn into a strange laughter.
I had another dream.
Though I knew it was a dream, I couldn’t wake up. I wanted to wake up, to see what had happened in the stone room, but I couldn’t help it. I could only watch from above as the dream unfolded.
This dream took place in the Split Zone. I wanted to laugh at the irony, but I couldn’t do anything but watch on.
Before my eyes, I sat atop the Western Residence rooftop, my legs hanging over the edge of the building. A gust of wind toussled my hair and my dress also billowed.
Li Qing was there, dressed in my favorite set of her silver armor. She walked over to me and took a seat beside me. She sat with one leg bent and one hanging down, looking just like a firm, unyielding man. The outline of her handsome, heroic face was rugged like a mountain, perfecting displaying a valiant silhouette.
She smiled confidently at me. “If I have to leave one day, take my place as commander, won’t you?”
I turned to look at her, a bright, pretty smile on my face. “No. You can’t leave, Li Qing. If you leave, what will happen to us?”
Li Qing’s short, indigo hair fluttered in the wind. She gave a refreshing laugh. “Nothing is impossible. Li Shen, if I leave one day, I will put the Western District in your hands. You must protect it well.”
I pouted. “Li Qing, don’t scare me. Do you think I’m cut out for that kind of thing? Moreover, there’s still Li Wen jiejie, and if she doens’t want to be the commander, You Ji is also very good at taking care of business. I’m not capable enough though, and my mental force is very low.”
A strange light appeared in Li Qing’s eyes. “A good commander doesn’t simply need a high mental force. They need a strong heart that allows them protect their people.”
I mocked myself with a laugh, “Even more reason I’m unfit. You know very well that I’m a weak person.”
Li Qing narrowed her eyes, an honorable trustworthiness in her expression. “No, you can do it,” she said. “But if there were a condition for being the district commander, there is something that feels a bit wrong, that I don’t identify with but I must follow.”
I tilted my head and asked her, “What is it?”
Li Qing gave a slightly helpless expression. “Though few who arrive in the Split Zone ever return home, some do. But because the district commander cannot be changed too often or on a whim, those who are chosen as district commanders must lack the desire to leave.”
I pursed my lips and thought for a moment. Then, with a slight smile, I replied, “If that’s the case, then I guess I fit the requirement. Desire to leave… Haha, I really don’t have much of that.”
Li Qing’s face, which displayed feminine grace and masculine determination at the same time, grew more distinct before me. She looked at me with the crystal clear eyes of an angel who would never lie. And then she said, “I’m sure that I’ve chosen the right person.”
It stands to reason that when you dream, you don’t feel emotions, because you’re just watching a memory of the past unfolding before your eyes. Dreams in the Split Zone are, in the end, just a kind of memory. But in this moment, watching from above, I felt my heart ache.
Li Qing, are you sure you didn’t choose the wrong person?
My eyes gradually opened, and I finally woke up.
I didn’t immediately sit up, and instead quietly thought about my dream.
How long has it been since I’ve seen Li Qing? Even in a dream?
A rollercoaster of sadness swirled through my heart. I refused to feel that way, so I shook my head to stop the thoughts.
I sat up and realized that we had already returned to the dorm we were staying at in the Southern District. Nie Zun was standing beside the bed, quietly staring out the window, his hands stuffed in his pockets as usual. He’d changed into a clean, black windbreaker.
I wanted to open my mouth. I had a lot of things I wanted to ask about.
Is everyone okay? Did they get out of that place? Was Song Lu saved? What happened with Laurel?
But no matter how I opened my mouth, the questions wouldn’t come out.
Nie Zun seemed to have realized I’d woken up, so he turned around. With a carefree and indifferent expression, he asked, “You’re awake?”
He walked over and sat down beside me. Our eyes met.
Nie Zun spoke quietly, “We saved Song Lu but we couldn’t do anything about the three kids. And while we weren’t paying attention, the two women committed suicide with their splitting keys.”
With eyes wide, I asked, “What do you mean you couldn’t do anything about the kids?”
Nie Zun looked at me. “Laurel escaped when I went to help you. And the other two kids didn’t end up healing.”
Incredulous, I asked, “What does that mean, they didn’t heal?”
“Exactly what I said. They didn’t heal. The boy I split in half, and the girl that Gaoqin Jiuye shred to pieces didn’t end up healing. They died.” Nie Zun spoke of death easily.
I frowned with disbelief at what I heard. Without using a splitting key, one couldn’t die in the Split Zone.
“Is it because their physical bodies in the real world are already dead?” I asked.
Suddenly, Jie Pa walked in with a medicine box. Having heard my words, he replied, “Yes, they didn’t heal because their physical bodies have died.”
Even more surprised, I asked, “How could there be such a coincidence? We attacked people whose physical bodies were already dead?”
Jie Pa walked over to me and placed a medicine box down on the table. Then he started undoing the gauze wrapping on my hands. It was only then that I realized that my hands had indeed been bandaged up.
As he worked, Jie Pa said, “No. For some reason, Nie Zun and Gaoqin Jiuye’s attacks directly caused their hearts to stop beating.”
After he unwrapped my hands, I saw that they’d already healed, but Jie Pa still applied medicine to them. “Of course, this is just my conjecture,” he said. “As for the strange creatures on Song Lu’s body, they’re called demon leeches. They’ve only appeared in the Split Zone once before. Though creatures like them originally didn’t exist in the Split Zone, there’s a rumor that they may have been created by chemically refining insects brought here by a soul snatcher. I’ve never heard about their use or how much harm they can cause though.”
I grabbed onto Jie Pa’s arm with my hands, and the medicine on my palms smeared to his arm. “What about Song Lu? I-is she okay?”
Jie Pa removed my hands from his arm and continued applying medicine. “Ms Song Lu is currently fine. When I pulled her out from the barrel, she had indeed been terribly wounded. But after her wounds healed, there was no sign of the leeches. For now, I can’t tell. She’s still unconscious though, so we’ll have to wait for her to wake up before we can ask her anything.”
There was no way to force someone to wake from a coma in the Split Zone. Our physical bodies are originally already in a comatose state, so if our conscious is also in such a state… No amount of stimulation will wake someone, so it just depends on their willpower.
My lips trembled. “Song Lu’s ended up in this state. Yu Liang’s whereabouts are unknown. Laurel seems to have turned into some strange creature and has now gone missing…” I couldn’t speak anymore, so I closed my eyes, as if that would take me away from this world. But I knew that would just be decieving myself.
“Ms Ah Shen, don’t worry too much.” After Jie Pa applied the medicine, he wrapped my hands back up. “Piercer’s sting is worse than I originally thought; it even spread to the rest of your body. Please rest. Though your hands may have healed, you’ll need to apply a cleansing medicine for awhile.”
As Jie Pa packed away his medicine, he told me, “Additionally, we’ve already relayed the events to Ms Jiao S. She and Gaoqin Jiuye are currently waiting next door for you to wake up and discuss the situation.”