Law of the Jungle
(t/n: In this translation, jiejie and gege may be used in place of “older sister” and “older brother” when addressing females/males older than oneself. It can show up either as the address or as a suffix to someone’s name.)
Thinking back on when I first arrived here a year ago, I couldn’t help finding it laughable. Back then, seeing a crown-less man had made me scream out loud. There was also the blond man who explained everything about this place.
Now though, I’d already been dead for a year, my consciousness relegated to Split Zone No.13.
I was currently dashing through the streets of this city, and as I regained my senses, I suddenly felt that there was a figure following behind me.
Even without thinking about it, I knew who it was. But just in case, I quickly turned around. At the same time, I grabbed the bow on my back with my left hand, and by the time I saw him behind me, I already had an arrow aimed.
He was dressed entirely in black, and his strong and healthy figure was quick to respond. He jumped up above my head, and as I looked up, I saw him smile jokingly down at me. I reached out an empty hand to grab his ankle, and then the both of us started falling.
He unceremoniously kicked away my hand, going off my momentum, and we both seemed to hit the ground at the same time.
My crimson skirt swept across the ground, my red heels landing steadily. My messy, red hair blew with the wind as I shot a look at the stalker before me.
He was dressed completely in black, as he’s always done. He looked the same as he did one year ago, only he’d traded his black turtleneck for a black windbreaker. His hands were casually inserted into his jacket pockets. His slightly long, black hair danced in the wind, with his shining, black eyes fixed onto me.
“Nie Zun, it’s already been a year. Can’t you wear something with a bit of color?” I scoffed as I looked over him.
Nie Zun shrugged, his lips curving upwards just slightly. “Aren’t you the same? Always wearing red, always running through the streets at night, like a maniac. Have I ever asked you to change?”
I raised one of my eyebrows. “It’s not often that you’re so lively. I didn’t know you could say so much at once.”
“Depends who I’m talking to,” he replied, with a charming smile.
His smile caused my heart to skip a beat. But immediately afterwards, I silently berated myself for being unable to resist a handsome man’s smile. I looked spitefully at him, who was still uncommunicative and feigning a sullen expression after an entire year. And for whatever reason, this man was loitering around me today like the devil.
I was about to make an ironic response when a cute little girl suddenly appeared in front of
She was a newbie who’d just arrived yesterday. Laurel, her name was. They said that she was brought here after a serious case of Stockholm syndrome triggered schizophrenia.
Her appearance was a very pure and innocent one, and her character was also sweet and kind. I guess, because she reminded me of myself when I was younger, I immediately took a liking to her. And she was in Westside, my territory, so of course I would do my best to protect her.
Laurel scurried over when she saw me. She pouted her little, red lips and looked at me sadly as she asked, “Ah Shen jiejie, I still don’t really get it, the way time works here, so I can’t get to sleep.”
I pat her on the head, her fine and soft blond hair feeling nice beneath my fingers.
I carefully explained, “This place is different from the world we came from. One day is divided into sixty periods. You can think of them as sixty hours. Day lasts for thirty of these hours, and then night lasts for the other thirty. During the day, things are as you’ve seen. The sky is gray, but everything is clearly visible. When night comes though, like right now, the sky is completely dark, and we can see maybe ten meters around ourselves. No matter how you try to light things up, you’ll only be able to see as far as this district.”
“Then, jiejie, how can you run through the night so quickly? You can’t see in front of you, but you’re still so fast.” Laurel raised her head, her big, bright eyes shining towards me.
I smiled. “I’ve grown used to it. And when I run, I don’t only rely on my vision. I use all five of my senses.”
“Like a bat?” Laurel asked, with a tilt of her head.
“Right,” I said, with a gently rub of her head. “But don’t worry. An hour in this place is much shorter than an hour in the world we came from. Once you get used to it, you’ll be fine.”
“That big brother is really good looking. He’s always following you, Ah Shen jiejie.” Laurel reached out her hand, attempting to grab onto Nie Zun’s clothes. And surprisingly, he didn’t try to dodge her. He simply shot her a shallow smile.
I scoffed. “That’s because he can’t leave me.”
“Oh? Why can’t he leave you? Did he fall in love with you?” Laurel asked with amazement, her big eyes glistening.
In my mind, I couldn’t help rolling my eyes at the thought. Him, love me? Please. Two people who couldn’t wait for the other to die—what kind of love could there be between them? I looked over at Nie Zun’s cunning eyes, and a trace of hatred flit across my heart.
“If you’re going to roll your eyes, just do it in your head. If you actually roll them… In the dark
dark night, a woman dressed in red rolling her eyes at you is really quite horrifying,” Nie Zun said leisurely.
I grew a bit embarrassed. Had I really been unable to contain my eye-rolling to my thoughts only?
When she heard Nie Zun’s words, Laurel started giggling. Seeing Laurel’s bright smile made me feel much better.
But her laughter was brief, and suddenly, she screamed. It was a little girl’s scream. I followed her gaze until I saw a green-haired snake woman, roughly as tall as a human.
I describe her as a snake woman because she had the lower body of a serpent, and her upper body appeared human. And that thick tail, or should I call it a snake leg… Wow. I really wanted to tell her to lose some weight.
Your appearance in this world was conjured up by your consciousness, so as long as your mental prowess was strong enough, you could change into any form you wanted. That’s the reason behind all the strange creatures in this place.
In this place, our mind’s capabilities equated to our strength, so we call it our mental force (MF). Our abilities are quantified by this mental force.
When a person first arrives here, their mental force is measured by the leader—that is, the blond haired, mixed man. The upper limit of the MF measurement is 100, with most people having an MF between 10 and 20, or 30-40 if your mental force is a bit stronger.
The strength of one’s consciousness can slowly be improved with time and practice, just like willpower. However, unless your willpower was extremely strong while you were alive, in the physical world–in other words, unless you were very strong before you came here–you could practice day and night, but your MF would only ever increase about 3 levels.
So, when you arrive to this place, your abilities have essentially already been decided.
Generally speaking, because one’s mental force has a limit, and because the strength of one’s brain waves has a limit, once you’ve set your appearance, it’s difficult to change it. Moreover, we only have a certain amount of mental force, and to maintain a different appearance would require spending a portion of it.
One month after my arrival here, I’d grasped how to manipulate my mental force, but I’d only expended about 3 levels to make myself slimmer, more elegant, and to turn my hair red. Aside from that, I maintained a human appearance. I really couldn’t understand those people who spent so much of their mental force to maintain a weird, monstrous appearance.
For example, the snake woman in front of us that needed to lose some weight.
I comforted Laurel, “Don’t be scared. Her name is You Ji, and while she’s far from being kind, she won’t harm you.”
“You Ji, look at your appearance. You’re scaring the poor kid. Can’t you turn into something more pleasant?” I looked over at her serpent tail.
You Ji extended her hand
her hand and stroked her green hair. She gave me a coquettish look. “I really liked snakes when I was still alive. Now that I have the chance to use my mind to shape shift, it’s only natural that I’d want to be melded together with a snake.”
My lips twitched as I pointed to her spinach-like green hair. “A snake that can grow green hair is attractive to you?”
“Hngh. It’s called being trendy.” She rolled her eyes at me. Her eyes were still very charming though.
She looked at the still-frightened Laurel, and then she looked at Nie Zun behind me, slouched with his hands in his pockets.
Then her eyes returned to me. “You’d better be careful of Sly S. I don’t know what kind of trick she’s trying to pull, but she’s been roping in a lot of strong people recently. Eastside is growing more restless by the day, and there are always corpses everywhere. There are some really dangerous people among the ones she’s gathered.”
I laughed lightly. “She’s always done things strangely and without order. I figure that, as long as I don’t offend her, she also won’t take the initiative to bother me.”
You Ji laughed along. “Oh, please. Doing things without order? Who could compete with Westside on that front? Who’s as strange as you, coming and leaving without a trace? You know, you’re the commander of Westside. Don’t just live each day without a care, playing around, leaving Nie Zun and me to take care of things. I’m telling you because I’m worried that, even if you don’t provoke her, she’ll decide that someone as carefree as you would be easy pickings.”
I nodded, to let her know I’d be careful. When I didn’t say anything else, You Ji simply let out a sigh. With a flick of her tail, she left.
As You Ji disappeared from my sight after just a few steps, I found myself lost in thought.
Of course I knew about Sly S.
Southside’s Si Luo.
Eastside’s Sly S.
And Westside’s Li Zhen.
Not too long after my arrival here, before I’d become the Westside commander, I was on a street in the Eastside. With my own two eyes, I saw the Eastside commander, Sly S, tearing a girl to shreds.
The girl had been screaming in anguish, but Sly S was expressionless. It was like she was simply ripping up a piece of paper. She pulled the girl’s limbs off, one by one, and after the girl’s limbs regenerated, Sly S would, once again, tear them off.
She seemed to have spent an entire day doing that.
Because only our consciousness existed in the split zone, any time our bodies were torn or wounded, they would regenerate and heal soon after. Our physical appearance was simply an illusion, and not our true physical shells.
But because our consciousness existed here, we were still able to feel able to feel pain.
In other words, when someone repeatedly rips you to shreds, you will feel the pain boring into you, but you’ll be unable to escape it.
That was one of the frightening aspects of this world.
Every person in the split zone had something that could protect them—that is, their splitting key. At the same time, every person carried a weakness—their split symbol.
When someone inserts their splitting key into another’s split symbol, that person will truly die. In whatever form they were in, they would die in this world.
And their body in the physical realm would be declared brain dead soon after.
While I couldn’t believe everything about this world, you come to realize some things. And I’d already seen a lot of people die.
This place wasn’t without rules though. Anyone who inserted their splitting key into an innocent person would, at the same time, hear the sound of a flute flow down from the gray sky above. As the flute sounded, their body would burst into a million pieces, like a beautiful shower of blood. You wouldn’t be able to see any pieces of flesh, just bloody residue.
Those who assassinate another will die here, in this cruel fashion. They would feel that pain until the flute no longer sounded, and then their consciousness would also cease to exist in the physical world.
Of course, these are legends. While it’s true that the killer will burst apart and die, whether or not one hears the sound of a flute… Well, I’ve never killed anyone, so naturally, I’ve never heard it.
All I know is that, when someone starts to burst apart, they will cry out in anguish before their death. Even if I’ve grown some guts in my time here, I still get chills when I hear the sound.
The only way to leave this place is to find the soul splitter that brought you here and insert your splitting key into their split symbol.
You may be wondering, then, why someone would use their splitting key on an innocent person instead of their soul splitter?
It’s very simple, really. Being able to find your soul splitter in this place is harder than climbing to heaven.
Don’t even mention finding the soul splitter that brought you here, I still haven’t even seen a soul splitter in my time here.
People eventually grow tired of this place. They don’t want their families to wait for them, to suffer as they care for a vegetable. And so, they choose to kill another and be destroyed with them.
In this place, you cannot kill yourself. If you want to die, you’re either killed by someone, or you kill someone to suffer the consequences.
Every day, there are people who become fed up, so this is hardly a safe place. It’s full of slaughtering and conspiracy.
Hiding our split symbol has become a daily source of concern for everyone here.