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MEMORIZE 14

by 로유진


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Split in Half (Part 4)


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As for the previous chapters, you can find it on NU. We are trying to work it out with the previous tlor to bring it here, with the main goal of completing the novel (1000+ chapters).
 
Memorize Ch. 14
Split in Half 4/8

“We should worry about ourselves rather than those who have gone. Wouldn’t it be a better idea to leave this hill and escape the forest?”

I directed my comment to An-Hyun, not the others. As I set my sights on An-Hyun, Lee Yoo-Jung and Kim Han-Byul naturally looked towards him too. It seemed like he had some experience with being a neighborhood leader, as he  didn’t seem the least bit bothered by the attention. He stood up and promptly agreed, before focusing on the various paths  down the hill.

“Going down is a good idea, but I’m afraid I don’t know which route is suitable. I mean, right now, we don’t even know where we are...”

An-Hyun lifted his head again. As he spoke he alternated glancing between the path Park Dong-gul and his team took, and the empty lots swarming with Deadmen. Park Dong-gul’s route was in the complete opposite direction of the vacant lots. Although it may have seemed like a good idea at the time, An-Hyun was certain it wasn’t a good choice.

“I think we should go this way.”

Kim Han-Byul, who hadn’t spoken at all, pointed towards a direction. They followed her finger and saw that she was pointing around 90 degrees away the empty lots. As if guessing how far the lots were, she asked nervously, “Isn’t it better to go the opposite direction? It seems like that way isn’t very far from the lots.”

Kim Han-Byul was someone who thought a lot like Park Dong-gul.

An-Hyun pondered for a moment and then immediately exclaimed, “Ah!” He seemed dumb and clever at the same time. Seeing Lee Yoo-Jung’s puzzled expression, Kim Han-Byul calmly began to explain.“It’s simple. Currently, most of them are gathered in the lots. From this we can assume that they are evenly distributed throughout the forest. So, if one area is crowded it means the others aren’t. The best chance we have is heading in this direction.”

“The opposite way could be even more dangerous. They could be waiting for us there.”

After listening to An-Hyun’s explanation, Kim Han-Byul showed her agreement by nodding slightly. Even though it wasn’t exactly the same as my escape plan, I was still relieved. In any case, it seemed things were finally moving along. I smiled silently to myself.

“I guess you’re right. That probably means that bastard might have taken the more dangerous path, right?”

“Yup. At any rate, let’s head straight down and get out of this forest. Sol, get up now.”

“Huh? Okay!”

An-Sol, who hadn’t participated in the conversation, hurriedly got up. It didn’t seem like anyone was bothered by An-Hyun and I making the decisions. Their faces and the atmosphere seemed much better than when Park Dong-gul was here. In particular, Lee Yoo-Jung seemed pleased to know that Park Dong-gul might be suffering. I even saw a smile on her face.

Our group quickly headed down the hill.

*

About 2 hours had passed since we first decided our escape route. The thick trees, that blocked out  the sky, made the forest seem much darker than it had looked from the hill. We walked through the dark forest for 2 hours without rest. Along with every step, I heard the crunching sound  that the dirt and grass made, along with the group’s rhythmic breathing. An-Hyun and I led the group at the front.

The melancholy forest was quiet and appeared much bigger than I had originally thought. However, if my memory was correct, as long as  we continued at this pace, we would be out of the forest by evening. I thought perhaps the angels had dropped us in the difficult forest because of our superior skill level.

First, we had to escape this forest before evening. The preparation room didn’t supply any food or water, as it only had clothes and weapons.. There were  separate areas with those necessities. There was either a rest room or a save point to sleep one night. Other than that, we could steal from other players or loot a village store.

“Brother…”

“Yeah?”

An-Hyun and I were at the front while An-Sol and Kim Han-Byul followed closely behind. With Lee Yoo-Jung bringing up the rear, we were cautiously proceeding through the forest. Meanwhile, An-Sol pulled on An-Hyun’s shirt and embarrassingly mumbled, “I need to pee…”

“…..”

Everyone turned awkwardly at An-Sol’s timid words.

“Are you an idiot?”

Though she looked a bit dumb, this was a bit much. I couldn’t help but wonder how she made it in the real world.

An-Hyun stopped for a second and asked, “Can we stop for a moment? I think my sister needs some time.”

Fortunately, Lee Yoo-Jung and Kim Han-Byul kindly agreed. It seemed as if women could all relate to each other. An-Sol, who looked afraid, pestered An-Hyun to go with her but he heartlessly sent her alone.

Lee Yoo-Jung, who was sitting on the ground, grinned slightly as An-Sol plodded away in defeat.

“Will she be okay? She could be attacked again.”

“Since I’m watching carefully it’ll be alright. I’m sure a 19 year old can use the bathroom by herself. Also, since you’re talking down to me, how old are you?”

“Me? 22. You’ve been talking down to me too. However aren’t you younger than me? Just by looking I can tell you’re 20 or 21.”

“I’m 22 too.”

“Eh? We’re the same age. How about we take this chance to properly introduce ourselves?”

Lee Yoo-Jung spoke in a much more cheerful voice and glanced at everybody. Kim Han-Byul seemed anxious, however whether it was from the from tiredness or increased tension, I didn’t know. He carefully sat down next to her. An-Hyun and I nodded at each other before taking our seats on the cold ground.

“Let’s be quick since we need to leave when  my sister gets back. My name is An-Hyun. I’m 22 years old.”

“What did you do before you came here?”

An-Hyun scratched his cheek at Lee Yoo-Jung’s difficult question but gently replied, “I was just a neighborhood punk working part-time jobs. You?”

“Me? My name is Lee Yoo-Jung. I’m also 22. I took a break from school and focused on studying for my police entrance exams.”

Police entrance exams? Then her dream was to be a female police officer? For some reason, I could imagine Lee Yoo-Jung being in a police uniform. Then the two suddenly turned their attention towards me and Kim Han-Byul.

“Kim Han-Byul. I’m 21 years old and a college student.”

“Younger than me? What university?”

“Yonsei University.”

“Wow! You must be smart. I’m jealous.”

For a second they stared at her with admiration. Then they abruptly switched their gaze to me. Kim Han-Byul followed suit and looked at me expectantly. I felt awkward being stared at like that but I did my best to look composed.

“My name is Kim Soo-Hyun. I’m 23 years old. I was a soldier.”

“Someone who is older! Feel free to speak how you want. Were you in the army, air force, or navy?”

“Then you’re an older brother. Feel free to speak plainly to me too. What rank were you?”

Before, I thought she was strong-minded, but it seems Lee Yoo-Jung was actually a lively person. At the same time, An-Hyun seemed more interested after mentioning the military.

“I was an army sergeant.”

“Damn, if you had a little more time you could have been discharged from your service.”

Lee Yoo-Jung burst out laughing and I wryly smiled as I spoke again.

“I was discharged. I came here on the way back from turning in my discharge papers.”

“……”

“……”

“……”

What’s this? Those pitying eyes. This pathetic atmosphere.

“Why are you all looking at me like that? I’m okay. It doesn’t matter. So please stop looking at me like that.”

Despite what I said, an awkward silence fell between us. An-Hyun turned his head and gave a fake cough while Lee Yoo-Jung just stared at me with a sympathetic face. To top it all off, even Kim Han-Byul looked at me with pity. It really wasn’t a big deal for me though.

To break the awkwardness, Lee Yoo-Jung changed the topic with a lively voice.

“I still feel like this is a dream. If this was a normal day, I would probably ditch studying to call my friends. We would go rest somewhere and chat all day, or get some delicious food. Then, on the way home, I would promise myself that I would study hard the next day. That’s how I would be living.”

Everyone’s expressions eased up after hearing those words. An-Hyun smiled and took part too.

“I would most likely be finishing my day working at the internet café. I’d catch a customer who tried to leave without paying. My damn boss would yell at me for not cleaning well enough. Then I would wait at some counter eating chicken, preparing to pick up Sol. Hehe. Oh, what would you do at home, Soo-Hyun?”

“Me?”

I tilted my head at An-Hyun’s sudden question. Hmmm. It had been over 10 years so I couldn’t really remember. After thinking for a bit I just decided to answer normally.

“I’m not sure. I guess I’d take a deep breath and finally feel free again. I’d go home, see my mother, before  giving my father a call. I’d eat my mom’s delicious food and take a nice hot bath. Then… Wait, why are you all looking at me like that? Don’t look at me like I’m some poor animal. I’m really okay.”

*

An-Sol came back after finishing her business, and everything came to a close. She politely bowed and said, “I’m back.” I thought she was adorable. However, those words were a signal that thrusted us back into the harsh reality. Introducing ourselves and chatting with one another took us away from the hell of our current situation, if only for a moment. An-Hyun sighed and reluctantly stood up.

After a rest, we continued walking through the dark forest. Although it seemed like An-Hyun and I were leading the way at the front, I was actually the one skillfully guiding our path. We hadn’t encountered any Deadmen because I was detecting our surroundings and carefully avoiding them.

However, we wouldn't be able to keep avoiding them. The closer we got to the outer edge of the forest, the more Deadmen there would be. The best I could do was to lead us towards the area with the least amount of Deadmen.
An-Sol worried me the most. Even if we went in the direction with the least amount of Deadmen, there was still a possibility of coming across dozens of them. If that happened, I was unsure if An-Sol would be able to remain calm. An-Hyun suddenly stood still and shouted.

“What’s wrong?”

“Shhh.”

Lee Yoo-Jung and I turned our heads in the direction An-Hyun was pointing and saw three Deadmen wandering around. They flared their nostrils and smacked their lips. I was sure they could smell us. I instinctively glanced at An-Sol and saw her put both hands on her mouth and tightly shut her eyes. At least one crisis was averted.

“Not only can they see and hear us, they can smell us too?”

“That’s what it seems like. Keep your heads down for now.”

An-Hyun quickly hid behind a large tree and took Sol into his arms. Lee Yoo-Jung, Kim Han-Byul, and I also hid ourselves and waited for the Deadmen to pass by. I saw An-Hyun firmly grasp his shield, but I shook my head at him. It was better to practice killing Deadmen after escaping the forest. I couldn’t exactly remember why, but I remembered other players at the Rite of Passage warning to never enter the forest.

According to my senses, we were about halfway through the forest. Even though we avoided the Deadmen up until now, if those three were killed there would be a higher chance we would be surrounded by more. If they received a signal and gathered around us, then there would be nowhere left to run.

Even if we got rid of them, it needed to be done all at once so they can’t alert the others. But, with only stones and a shield, that wasn’st a possibility. The longsword on my waist faintly rattled. I should have given it to An-Hyun earlier. As I was thinking this, the Deadmen snorted and slowly, step by step, moved closer towards our hiding places.

TL Note:
 
Talking down refers to honorifics in the Korean language. People who are older are allowed to “shorten” their speech and talk down. People who are younger or strangers are expected to speak in honorifics.

When An-Hyun addresses Soo-Hyun, he calls him “hyung” which means older brother. “Hyung” can be used to address any older man whether or not they are blood-related. I used his name in place of “hyung” when it wasn’t clear to the reader who he was talking to.
 
 
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