When Song Lu and Yu Liang arrived, I’d calmed down a bit.
“We heard about what happened yesterday. And it’s true that there’s been trouble in Westside recently. We approve of a secret trip to Northside.” Song Lu and Yu Liang were both dressed in black, and I couldn’t help taking a second glance at Song Lu’s sexy figure.
“Right. I think it’s time for me to take a look at the world.” I chuckled. “But, how are we going to get into Northside without Mr Blond finding out?”
In the past, we only ever traveled to Northside at Mr Blond’s summons, where we would be transported to the hall at the center of the district. This meant that we weren’t at all familiar with Northside’s layout outside of the hall. The place wasn’t used for housing residents, but it was very large, and in fact, I’d never stepped out the door before.
“Since we were always curious, when we went to the Great Hall this time, I had Yu Liang use his ability to search around. What we discovered was rather unexpected.” Song Lu then motioned to Yu Liang to speak.
Yu Liang, who’d remained calm through the conversation, nodded. “You know about my ability. While Song Lu was taking her visitation, to see her real body, I used my doppleganger to quickly run outside of the hall. But the scene that we see from inside, through the glass doors, was completely different from what really existed outside the hall.”
I was a bit surprised. The scene through the glass doors of the Great Hall looked much like what existed in Eastside and Westside. There was a large residential building, boundary markings, a forest, just as was expected from the Split Zone.
“When my body double went outside the doors, it was met with a dense fog that limited my sight to a 5 meter radius. And after I walked out of the hall, the hall seemed to disappear behind me, leaving behind only more fog. In front of me, there was something I’d never seen before. Three doors. They were each about four meters tall, labeled Heaven, Ghost, and Exit.” Yu Liang said.
It was really unfathomable, but Yu Liang had never lied before. When he first arrived in the Split Zone, he was nicknamed the God of MF. His MF was only 39, but he was able to manipulate his mental force to accomplish things that were beyond the scope of most people’s abilities. He didn’t have to train extremely hard for it either; it just seemed to come easily to him.
In the Split Zone, our consciousness existed, not our physical body. And yet, Yu Liang was able to separate his consciousness once more still. To put it plainly, he could manipulate his mental force to have a controlled out of body experience, and this new soul wasn’t something that the rest of us could see. The only condition for it was that it had to remain within 100 meters from his “body.”
“Mr Blond didn’t find out about what you did?” I asked Yu Liang.
“From our observations, Mr Blond doesn’t seem to be some all-powerful being. In fact, after much investigation, we suspect that he is just like us, an ordinary body formed from a consciousness. He probably has a split symbol as well. It’s just that his MF is leagues above ours. Of course, these are are just suspicions, not facts. But, what we can be sure of is that he does not control everything.”
“So how does he find out about what happens in all of the districts so quickly?” I remembered that when I’d gone to see him several days prior, he’d already known exactly why I was there.
Yu Liang’s eyes glistened. “He has informants all across the districts. Ah Zhen, how much of these t
hings are you ignorant to? What have you done for the past half year?”
I laughed awkwardly.
Song Lu frowned at Yu Liang. “Don’t blame Ah Zhen. It’s not like you don’t know. Half a year ago, she…”
I quickly cut off Song Lu. I looked over to Nie Zun, and of course, his expression was serene, like someone who was about to return to the heavens.
Yu Liang sighed. “In any case, we’ve always been suspicious of the Split Zone, Mr Blond included. Although he treats us well and allows us to live peacefully and happily here, Ah Zhen, you also know that our families are waiting for us to return. Running away from that isn’t a solution. We have to find a way home. And if Mr Blond is being controlled by the soul splitters, we have to figure that out too. According to the scent investigators, Laurel’s trace disappeared at the North-South border.”
I nodded my head slowly. “But without being summoned by Mr Blond, how will we get into Northside? The Northside border is at the other end of Southside, and the borderline there is red. We can’t travel across it.”
“During the time that you were uninterested in all of this, we heard a lot of things. You Ji thinks that Si Luo from Southside must have a way to travel across the boundaries. So, I’m afraid that we’ll have to make a stop over to Southside first. At least, we’ll have to go inquire about some things.”
“I’ve never been to Southside.” I pouted.
Nie Zun suddenly commented, “Not just Southside. If not for the recent unrest, you probably would have never left Westside, right?”
I didn’t hesitate to roll my eyes at him.
“We’ve never been there either. Southside is different from both Westside and Eastside, and outsiders rarely visit. But still, I believe we need to make a trip there,” Song Lu said firmly.
“Fine. I’ll support your decision. Let’s go together.”
After a moment, I spoke up again, “But how many people are going?”
“This trip will be different to ones in the past. Since we are now taking on the challenge of uncovering the secrets of the Split Zone, we cannot be shorthanded. With me and Yu Liang, and you and Nie Zun, we should also at least bring along Jie Pa,” Song Lu said to me.
I considered this for a moment. Old Man Fan lived on the first floor. Aside from the floors You Ji and I lived on, and the one that Jie Pa lived on, 13 and 30 respectively, every other floor also had its own floor manager. With twenty seven floor managers, plus Old Man Fan and also You Ji’s Seven Demons (You Ji’s seven capable subordinates), even if I were to leave Westside for a time, no major problems should occur.
In all honesty, even when I was present, I didn’t contribute much towards Westside.
“Okay. Then, the five of us will go. Make your preparations. Additionally, we have to give the shop owner peace. Have Jie Pa tell him that when I return, I will have an explanation for him. Right now, I’ll contact Old Man Fan.”
“Okay.” Song Lu nodded. Then, she and Yu Liang left my room.
I pulled out my cellphone and called Old Man Fan. “Fan, bring the other 27 floor managers up to section A of the rooftop to meet with me.”
The sky was still dark when I met with 27 not unfamiliar faces and Old Man Fan.
Everyone looked around at each other, curious why the idle district commander, who only met with them for the monthly building meetings, suddenly sought them all out.
I looked at them solemnly, and then I bent over for a bow.
“Commander, what are you…” Twenty something voices started up.
I looked around. “I know that you are all capable people in Westside. Most of you served the previous district commander before Westside was entrusted to me. I’ve always known that you have been unsatisfied with some things, but you have all followed Li Qing’s orders to remain loyal to me, to continue protecting Westside.”
The atmosphere grew heavy at my mention of the previous district commander, Li Qing.
“For the past half year, I have idled away. If not for Li Qing’s firm guidance and all of you already being familiar with the rules she set down, with the way I’ve acted, Westside would have collapsed by now. Fortunately, Li Qing’s rules remained in effect, and with You Ji’s supervision, Westside has remained farily safe and stable.”
I paused. Then, I continued, “However, with the recent happenings in Westside, a lot of people have grown uneasy. Of this, I am aware. Up until now, I’ve let everyone down. I cannot face all the residents of Westside, so I would like to ask all of you to help me apologize for this. And I promise that when I return to Westside after this trip, I will step up to lead Westside and its residents in rebuilding our home.”
I made another bow.
Some people’s eyes were growing moist.
The floor manager of the third floor, a person named Ta Lai, said to me, “After Master Li Qing left us, we lost our way. While we tried our best to maintain order among the residents, we were also afraid. The brutal forces of Eastside were expanding, but we had no protector like Si Luo. Since no one had been able to find their soul splitter, everyone had fallen to despair.”
I nodded. “That’s why I’ve said that I let you all down. I know that, even if no one had found a way to return to life in the real world, at least Li Qing gave you a place to live happily. Since I was the one to bring fear and helplessness to this place, I will go to Northside to investigate. And I will do all I can to return with a way to save us, a way to leave this place.”
Several people began to whisper. “Can you really do it? Even the great Li Qing had no answers…”
I raised my head and looked at them with a steady gaze. “I cannot guarantee that I will be able to find a way out of this place, but I promise that even if we can never leave this place, I will at least remain here forever with you, to keep you safe and at peace.”
In the real world, a promise like “forever” was hard to keep, but in the Split Zone, it felt like a very attainable thing. In the Split Zone, the feeling of being forever alone was something we lived with.
“Please, trust me.” I bowed for the third time.
Ta Lai was the first to speak up. “Commander, go. We will wait for your return. Master Li Qing asked us to follow you. As we trusted her, we will trust you!”
The image of Li Qing suddenly appeared in my head—the woman who carried a bit of the tough, overbearing nature of a man. And then, a hint of pain slivered across my heart.
But this wasn’t the time to lament over her death. I raised my head and looked at everyone. In a firm and resolute voice, I said, “While I am away, I entrust Westside to you. I hope that you can relay my message to all the residents of Westside, to wait for my return.”
“Yes, ma’am!” Twenty something voices sounded in unison.
I turned to look at Nie Zun standing behind me. There was a light smile on his face, and he looked at me with a pair of eyes that seemed to shine even in the dark of night.