Split in Half. (7/8)
Translated by End.
“Lure. We are going to lure them in.”
“What? We are going to lure those monsters?”
Similar, but slightly out of context. I shook my head uneasily. Everyone watched me with blank eyes, but Kim Han-Byeol seemed to roughly understand me when she raised her eyebrows. Anyway, it seemed necessary to explain a little more.
“No. Rather than luring them out, it’s one of us becoming bait for these monsters.”
I stopped for a moment and pointed my finger towards the forest. I spoke as I watched everyone’s gaze turn back into the forest.
“If you make a commotion, the monsters will surely run towards the bait. If we maintain the aggro we can lure them into that forest. Afterwards the party can cross through the gap and climb over the wall. Then we will be out of the forest.”
On purpose, I spoke with a hopeful tone that we could escape the forest but everyone’s face turned sceptical. It was not a positive response. They were not happy by any means. Nevertheless, as they had nothings to say, they must have all thought it was a valid plan. Of course, there was one essential problem in finalising this plan.
It was obvious, the thought on everyone’s mind. Who would be the bait? If those Deadmans walked slowly like Zombies, it might be doable. But once a Deadman finds a prey, they start sprinting. At just one moment of hesitation, the person acting as bait would be instantly surrounded and become food.
For a while, everyone just looked at each other. Again, it was the fast thinking Kim Han-Byeol that asked the main point.
“This means that one person has to sacrifice himself, isn’t it?”
“Who will do it?”
Silence. With the end of the forest in sight, anyone would hesitate in this situation. I already had considered such thoughts, and with a light sigh, I lifted my hand. I would feel the lot more comfortable doing it myself, rather than letting someone else doing this hard task.
“The person who came up with it should do it. So I will do it.”
“Absolutely not. It’s too dangerous.”
“Oppa. Han-Byeol is right. Let’s just hide a while longer. Un?”
Kim Han-Byeol instantly was opposed to the plan, with Lee Yu-Jung trying to persuade me otherwise. Still, this much was within expectation so I presented them with my answers I prepared beforehand.
“We can’t wait forever. We don’t know when those things could find us.”
“We could always head out to a different direction.”
It was Kim Han-Byeol again refuting me. I shook my head, as I told them my rebuttal.
“Moving will take time and it’s almost evening. If we want to escape, this is the last chance.”
Kim Han-Byeol still seemed sceptical, so I spoke with more force than usual. Of course, I still remembered the discomfort on Kim Han-Byeol’s face when Lee Yu-Jung spoke impolitely, so I had yet to talk to her.
“If there is no opening, we have to make one. There is no guarantee the situation would improve if we move to another area.”
Seeing no way to refute this, Kim Han-Byeol closed her mouth with a heavy scowl. There was a moment of silence. I am sure they felt relieved at the fact that they didn’t have to act as bait, with one part feeling sorry for me. This was the difference between them and Park Don-Gul.
Park Don-Gul had called this hypocrisy. If we had the same conversation this moment, I am sure Park Don-Gul and I would have similar thoughts, to a point. The past me would make a show, telling everyone to stop trembling but right now this party needed a silent Hyung who always had their back. If Park Don-Gul could have controlled himself, or if he had some use, I wouldn’t have sent him away like that. I chuckled at myself at this impossible dream.
“Then…. Ah…. Su-Hyun Oppa will be in danger.”
When I turned my head, An-Sol was mumbling with a red face. Was she worrying about me?
I wanted to kiss her admirable heart, but An-Hyun was just an arm’s length away so I was satisfied with just smiling at her. I spoke while pretended to look around and alert.
“We can’t just throw away this chance to escape the forest. I always thought a time will come when we have to put up with this much danger. That time just came earlier than expected. That’s all.”
“It’s laughable that a twenty-three year old like me will talk about this, but I’m the oldest here. If I don’t volunteer here, when else would I be able to?”
An-Sol’s face seemed to be a little brighter as I spoke cheekily. An-Hyun, who kept silent until then, opened his mouth for the first time. It was a face of resolve after thinking about something deeply.
“That time when we faced the monsters. They usually walk around, but when they find a person, it’s like they start running. There is a chance you will get caught acting as bait.”
“Even then, it looks to me like they were just walking faster. I’m confident that I won’t get caught when I run at full speed. I just need to think of it like the usual run we do during the morning roll call.
“Even though if we manage to escape…b..ut.. Oppa …. Later… How will you escape?”
Kim Han-Byeol, who was silently listening on, tacked on an utterance. Why is she like this all of a sudden? This she just called me an Oppa just now? Did I mishear? Tilting my head, I retorted.
“I will figure something out when I get there. Anyways, I think this is the only way. Han-Byeol, and everyone, I am only thinking about how all of you can leave this forest right now.”
“Then let’s do it together Hyung. We can’t let Hyung do everything. I shall go with.”
He should just stay where he is. As An-Sol’s eye became wide and grabbed tightly onto An-Hyun cloth. With an exaggerated expression, I gave a loud sigh and spoke to An-Hyun.
“No. You have to go with everyone.”
“Why? Hyung doesn’t need to face the dangers alone.”
“You never know if those things are beyond the wall. We need one person to protect the party just in case. Also, it’s better for just one person to act as bait.”
“And you have a sister.”
When I mentioned An-Sol, An-Hyun immediately shut up. An-Sol was looking at me with a complicated expression. Gratitude. Worry. Remorse. Usually, I hate kids like An-Sol, but strangely enough, she wasn’t as detestable.
After some time had passed, An-Hyun nodded his head with some effort.
“… I got it. I leave it to you Hyung.”
“Of course, I want to live as well. Just have faith.”
“Yes. I will.”
“Trust me. There is no time like the present, so I am going to head off now. Everyone, keep low. When you think I have lure them far away, Hyun you lead the party and run. Never look back. Don’t be foolish and look backwards. Just look straight forward and run. Understand?”
The women had nothing to say. Everyone had mixed feelings on their face. Relief that they might just live, mixed with the guilt that they didn’t stand up to act as bait. When I was loading the crossbow to prepare myself and head out, I could hear Kim Han-Byeol, Lee Yu-Jung and An-Sol say their one piece.
“… I am sorry.”
“Oppa… Thank you. Please don’t die.”
At their heartfelt worry, I responded with a strong voice.
I moved off immediately. Of course, it didn’t mean that I started off making a ruckus as soon as I came out of hiding. If I started making noise right now, we could be unlucky and the party could be caught as well. I looked around quickly and saw a pile of rocks on the uphill. If I climbed it, I could observe the situation and all the Deadmans will be able to find me. There were no tree with much girth, but if I was alone, it was enough for me to hide and move undetected.
Keeping as low as possible, I moved from tree to tree. I tried my best to keep my breathing and footsteps as quiet as possible as I moved undetected. I had plenty of experience in stealth, so it wasn’t difficult. In that moment, I remembered my first time in the Rite of Passage.
In the clearing, Park Don-Gul and Lee Yu-Jung was fighting, and the rock he kicks brought a swarm of Deadman. At that time, I tried to survive alone and escaped alone. I didn’t even manage to get a proper direction as I floundered in the forest for two days, trying to flee. It was laughable comparing then and now.
I could have been more composed. There might have been another way. Those regrets suddenly floated up.
Reduced my breathing, and deaden my footstep. In this state, I steadily moved from tree to tree, avoiding detection. The pile of rocks as my target, though it wasn’t tall, the rocks were round so the Deadman would not be able to climb so easily. I also thought that I might see a village or buildings beyond the wall at that height.
I moved through about twenty trees, and not once was I detected. In not time, I had arrived in front of the pile of rocks and gave a quick glance at my surroundings before prompting climbing it. With the open view, I could clearly see the situation below. Unfortunately, there were no village or buildings beyond the stone wall. However, that wasn’t much of a concern as I would find them as I head to the centre.
I thought it was a good thing that I gave up on a full frontal charge. The judgement made through magical sense was not off its mark. Seeing all the Deadman in the surroundings, I slowly stood up atop the pile of rocks. Looking at the side where the party was hidden, An-Hyun’s head peeking up as if looking for the perfect timing. From now on, I had to be the perfect bait for everyone. I exchanged a look with Hyun and took a deep breath.
And with all my strength, I screamed out loudly.
“Ah ah ah ah ah ah!”
My voice rang loudly all around. The effect was immediate. Literally in an instant. All of the Deadman down below turned their heads toward me. Before long they all cried out and I could see them run towards me. Step one was a success, but there was no sense of lacking.
More and more Deadman were coming out of the forest as I vigorously swung both my arms and made a loud noise provoking them. To draw in all the Deadman on the far right side, I had to hold on for a while on the pile of rocks. I cried out again.
“Wah ah ah ah ah! Monsters!!!! I AM HERE! Come look here!”
Gureurung. Gureurung. Gureurung. Gureurung. Gureurung. Gureurung. Gureurung. Gureurung.
As soon as my shout ended, I could hear their cries multiply. At the same time, I could feel the monsters moving towards me in mass. The Deadman closest to me had already reached the pile of rocks I was on and was struggling to climb it. It looked like it didn’t need to scream anymore. As if they were starving for prey, the Deadman screeched as they came running towards me.
I somberly spat out, “This reminds me of old times.”
I bore a dark smile towards the approaching monsters. I lifted the crossbow on my left hand and took out 3 arrows. The crossbow I had on hand now could load up to three arrows at once. Once loaded, it could fire three arrows.
Before aiming at the forehead of the struggling Deadman in front of me, I looked once again at the place the party was hiding. Strangely enough, I could not stop laughing.