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MEMORIZE 16

by 로유진


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Split in Half (Part 6)


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Memorize Ch. 16
Split in Half 6/8

I probably mentioned this before, but in ‘Hall Plain,’ Deadmen weren’t even considered monsters. To call it an ability is a bit much, but all they had was the ability to infect others, along with a little intellect. Any healthy man with a steel pipe would have over a 80% chance of dealing with a Deadman. (Of course we have to assume it is one-on-one, and that the man is able to think normally.)


An-Hyun was equipped with a longsword and shield, and had basic Strength points. If he kept a strong resolve and learned to use his weapon, he would be able to grow much more. He’d easily be able to take care of a Deadman.
Once he had a chance to act, all his hesitation disappeared. An-Hyun was a clever and natural fighter. However,  as he focused on defending and trying to counterattack the Deadmen, there was a hint of insecurity.. With more confidence, he would be able to take on three or four of them without any difficulty.


After breaking through the front, we quickly headed towards the forest’s edge. Along the way, Kim Han-Byul discovered the traces of a trail. We decided to  follow it out of the woods. Our group naturally started to move faster. However, it was inevitable that the further we went the more Deadmen would appear. In order to get more battle experience, An-Hyun was in charge of most of the fights.


Four Deadmen, having smelt humans, opened their mouths and let out a screech. An-Hyun’s eyes were full of confidence and slowly seemed to reveal his aggressiveness. Seeing An-Hyun pick up his sword and shield, An-Sol spoke in a mosquito-like voice.

“Brother…Be careful…”

“Okay. Hang in there. Soo-Hyun,can you protect Sol and the others?”

“Don’t worry about the kids. I’ll keep them safe.”

“Who are you calling kids!?” exclaimed Lee-Yoo-Jung.

An-Hyun briefly chuckled and, with a momentum that could be described as rough and fierce, swiftly ran in. Although earlier two had been dealt with at the same time, this was the first time attempting four. I put a bolt in my crossbow and prepared for any accidents.


He watched his movements carefully,  and, when he was about a meter away, he took a step diagonally. The step maneuvered him to the left of the oncoming rush of monsters. Unlike a human’s body, a monster’s wasn’t flexible at all.. The Deadman who was rushing to bite him was forced to stop because of his hardened joints. The sword pierced through the vulnerable gap in the side of its head. One down, three to go. At the same time, he removed the sword and faced the remaining Deadmen


Looking at An-Hyun, I felt that reality he grasped the reality of his attacks quite well. Above all, it is about aiming for the weaknesses of your opponent, rather than a simple attack and defense. I wanted to praise him for knowing that Deadmen were vulnerable to rotating, as well as exploiting that by moving diagonally.


There was a crushing sound, and a Deadman took a few steps back. Deadmen could only attack by biting with their teeth.. When striking with a shield, it was more efficient, a well as safer, to hold it above your chest.. Nobody had taught An-Hyun this yet, however he was doing exactly that. Looking at the Deadman’s restless teeth, An-Hyun’s sword thrusted forward like a meteor. I silently exclaimed to myself that the second was gone.


Now that two had gone and kicked the bucket, only half were left. Perhaps because he dealt with the first two so effortlessly, the shield on his left hand was held a bit looser. In an effort to bite something, one of them lunged forwards. Without moving, An-Hyun carefully observed and clutched the handle of his longsword with an inverted grip. My eyes opened wide. No way, could it be a one-handed sword skill….?”


Calculate the range of the sword swing and control the timing. I knew the principles because I was quite a master at it myself. The gaping Deadman came into range. Simultaneously, I could see An-Hyun grasp the longsword and firmly place power into it. Now is the time.

Suk!

The ghastly sound of flesh splitting echoed throughout the forest. Although the execution was a bit sloppy, an exquisite crescent shaped cut had appeared down the center of the Deadman’s head. Something similar to delight emerged on An-Hyun’s face. For the first time since that battle had started, I frowned. . There was still one monster remaining.
As soon as the deadman in the front collapsed, the remaining monster immediately took An-Hyun by surprise. It was good that he had quick reactions,  and brought up his shield in time. However,because of his loose grip, he wouldn’t be able to win against the advancing Deadman’s strength. I watched the two clash as I quickly aimed my loaded crossbow.

Thud!

“Keuk!”

As expected, An-Hyun eventually lost control of his shield. Unlike the Deadman he had blocked earlier, this one only collided with his left arm. His hands were most likely shaking by now. In any case, An-Hyun’s front side was defenseless after the collision and the Deadman wouldn’t miss this opportunity. Like a snake, its teeth lunged towards his chest. . As soon as I saw this, I let loose a bolt.

‘I’m sorry, but he’s too valuable to become your food.’


The bolt flashed, and with a sharp noise, pierced straight into the Deadman’s head. Luckily, just as he was about to bite into An-Hyun’s neck, the bolt hit. He looked scared to death as he dropped down to the ground.

“Whew…”

“Nice shot, boss.”

I wasn’t sure if she knew how dangerous the situation just was, but Lee Yoo-Jung looked at me and tossed a joke. Even if An-Hyun did well, I couldn’t read his future. Of course he had done enough for now, however that may just be my greed wanting more from him. An-Hyun stared blankly and stroked his own neck, before looking at me and speaking to me in a relieved voice.

“I’m alive thanks to you. Thank you, brother.”

“Heh. I only helped with one. You did well.”

An-Hyun shook his head at my idle remark, and muttered to himself in disbelief.

“I had no idea it would attack like that. If it wasn’t for your shot, earlier….”

I snuck a glance at An-Sol’s face and saw that she was on the verge of tears. After seeing An-Sol trembling as if she didn’t want to hear anymore, An-Hyun saved his breath.

“It couldn’t be helped. The moment you dashed in was excellent. In that case I would support…”

“Waaaah!”

Unable to hold it in any longer, An-Sol burst into tears and rushed to her brother. The siblings made me want to cry. Feeling awkward, I unfastened my loaded crossbow and put the bolts back into my bag. Looking at the two, Lee Yoo-Jung spoke in a slightly envious voice.

“Maybe it’s because I was just watching but I could have probably done it too….shit. I should have chosen a weapon too. Han-Byul. Do you have a weapon?”

At Lee Yoo-Jung’s words, Kim Han-Byul rummaged around and brought out a short sword. Unless thrown, it was hardly a useful weapon, as it needed to be used in close quarters to land an effective blow. Although, in the hands of a master like me, it’d be a different story. But if a normal person wielded it, the risk of injuring themselves would be high.

“It doesn’t look like it’ll be much help. Why are you carrying it around?”

“Just in case. It would be better to kill myself than suffer unnecessarily.”

“…Do you think you’re some kind of Chosun dynasty girl…?”

Lee Yoo-Jung shook her head with a horrified look towards Kim Han-Byul. She couldn’t help but think that her voice was too calm. Suddenly, she stared at my crossbow with covetous eyes, however she directed her gaze elsewhere when she realized she didn’t know how to use it.  She grumbled with a disappointed face.

“Where’s the iron pipe that punk was holding? Han-Byul,see if there’s anything around.”

“There’s nothing.”

Seemingly, Kim Han-Byul looked uncomfortable because of Lee Yoo-Jung talking to her as she pleased. All of a sudden, Park Dong-gul’s group came to mind. Compared to my previous Rite of Passage, we were having a really easy time. In those days… the first two days were just constantly running away. What were they are doing now? Were they on the run? No, Perhaps they’re already in a Deadman’s belly, cut into a bunch of small pieces.

Of course it wasn’t my problem, so I just erased it from my memories. Whether it was the aftermath of the battle, or the consolation of An-Sol, An-Hyun came to us with a bit of strength.

“Brother, it looks like the traces of the trail are getting clearer. Since it seems we’re almost there how about moving along?”

“Sure. Let’s do that.”

Lee Yoo-Jung overheard my conversation with An-Hyun. Maybe it was because she was angry that she didn’t have a weapon but she started to pout.

“Pffft. Excited, aren’t we? Be careful or you might just get killed.”

“I don’t want to stay here and be eaten. It’s better this way. Anyways, let’s hurry down.”

“I know, I know. I’m sick of this forest too. I want to hurry and leave this place.”

That’s how after getting rid of the four Deadmen, we quickly followed the road down again. I was sure this was the path leading out of the forest. However, the amount of Deadmen on the outskirts of the city worried me.. I could sense just over 20 of them. However, even if we went in the other direction, it wouldn’t make much of a difference.

The difference between dealing with four and twenty could be compared to the distance between heaven and earth.. If so, apart from a frontal attack, there was only one way to escape. I sighed to myself and thought of what I could say to persuade the others.

*

As expected, the outskirts of the forest was swarming with Deadmen. A brief glance showed that there were more than twenty of them in every direction. We were only seeing the ones in the front, but, even then, with one small noise the monsters would pop out, left and right. There would be far too many to ignore.


In the distance, I could see stone walls that carried traces of people. Beyond that, though it was rugged, I could make out the edge of something that resembled a road. One more step and we would be out of this forest. The others must have realized this fact, and started to tense up. No matter how good An-Hyun was, there was no way he could deal with over twenty Deadmen. Nevertheless, I hesitated to retreat from here.

“This is crazy… how can we break through that…?”

Lee Yoo-Jung’s hollow voice pierced everyone’s ears. There was no guarantee that if we turned around and went another way it would be any different. An-Hyun and Kim Han-Byul were also at a loss for words, and silently stared at the ground. In the end, there was only that one way. I let out a short sigh and decided to give it a try.

“I have a good idea.”

As soon as they heard my words, it seemed like everyone’s ears pricked up. I decided to get right to the point.
 

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