Memorize Ch. 17
Split in Half 7/8
“We lure them.”
“What? We’re attracting those monsters?
Similar, but not quite exactly. I shook my head. Everyone looked at me blankly, but Kim Han-Byul, with her raised eyebrows, seemed to have understood what I roughly meant. Anyways, it seemed necessary to elaborate on my idea further.
“No. It’s not attracting. Instead, we have one person be the bait and drag those monsters away.”
I stopped for a moment and stretched out my finger and pointed towards the forest. I watched as everyone’s gaze return to the forest and spoke.
“If we cause a distraction the monsters will surely take the bait and run in. Keeping that aggro, we lure them straight into the forest. And with that chance, the others can climb over the wall. Then we can get out of this forest.”
I intentionally emphasized that we could escape the forest with a hopeful tone, but a skeptical expression appeared on everyone’s face. It was not a positive response. It was not looking very good. However, seeing how they were silent, it was clear that they were thinking that there was some plausibility to it. Of course, there was one lingering problem that needed to be solved for this plan to work.
It is obvious even if I say nothing. Who will be the bait? It might be worth a try seeing how they sluggishly walk now, but once they spot some food they will break out into a run. If so, the person who lures them will be surrounded the moment they let out a noise and become their prey.
For a while, everyone just stood there considering what the others were thinking. But as expected, the quick-thinking Kim Han-Byul pointed out the key problem.
“Then that means one person has to sacrifice themselves.”
“Who’s going to do it?”
Silence. With a chance to escape the forest right before their eyes, anyone would hesitate to readily take action. There was no way I could calculate what they were feeling. I let out a slight sigh and lifted my hand. Instead of sending a kid and feeling uneasy, I’d feel more comfortable doing it myself.
“The person who brought it up should do it. I’ll do it.”
“Never. It’s too dangerous.”
“Oppa. Han-Byul is right. Let’s just hide and wait. Yeah?”
Kim Han-Byul’s immediate opposition and Lee Yoo-Jung’s convincing. Already expecting this kind of reaction, I had already prepared some words.
“We can’t keep waiting. We don’t know when they will find us.”
“We could try going another direction.”
Kim Han-Byul again? I shook my head again and refuted.
“It takes time to travel and it’s almost dark. If we want to escape, this is our last chance.”
Kim Han-Byul still looked unconvinced. I opened my mouth and spoke with a little more strength than usual. Of course, I still remembered how uncomfortable she was when Lee Yoo-Jung spoke down to her so I decided not to do the same.
“If there is no opportunity, you have to create it. There’s no guarantee that going another direction will be any better than now.”
Kim Han-Byul couldn’t find a way to counter and closed her mouth with a heavy expression. There was a moment of silence. On one hand, they seemed relieved that they didn’t have to be the bait, but on the other hand, they seemed to feel sorry for me. This was the difference between them and Park Dong-Gul.
Park Dong-Gul called this hypocrisy. Thinking about it now, Park Dong-Gul and I shared some similarities in our thinking. If it was the old me, I would have shot him without a second thought. But to this group, I needed to remain a hyung or oppa that silently supported them from the background. Perhaps if Park Dong-Gul controlled himself when he spoke to me or was useful in some way, I wouldn’t have sent him off. I inwardly snickered as I had these trivial thoughts.
It was an unexpected person who broke the silence.
“Then… that… it’ll be too dangerous for Soo-Hyun oppa.”
I turned my head and saw An-Sol’s face turn red and mumble. Are you worried about me? I wanted to give her a kiss on the cheek, but because of the dull An-Hyun nearby, I just gave her a beaming smile. I pretended to quickly look around and then spoke.
“We can’t just throw away this chance to escape the forest. Anyways, I knew that I would have to deal with something like this someday. It only came a bit early.”
“It’s a bit funny to say this at the age of 23, but I’m the oldest here. When will I ever have a chance to take action like this again?”
Once I spoke humorously, An-Sol’s face seemed a little brighter. An-Hyun, who until then kept silent, opened his mouth for the first time. He seemed to have been thinking carefully about something and had a determined look on his face.
“After dealing with those monsters before, I realized that they usually walk around and then start to run when they find a person. There is the possibility of being caught while trying to lure them.”
“That being said, their walking seems like a fast pace. I’m confident I won’t be caught if I run all out. I’ll just think about it like running to roll call every morning.”
“Even if we succeed in escaping… then… oh… oppa…. After that… How will you escape?”
Kim Han-Byul, who was quietly listening before, strikes again. Why is she like this all of a sudden? But I think I just heard her call me “oppa.” Did I hear her wrong? I tilted my head and replied.
“I’ll think about that once I get there. Anyways, I think this is the only way. From now on, I want everyone, including Miss Han-Byul, to think only about escaping this forest.”
“Then count me in hyung. I can’t leave this to you by yourself. I’ll go with you.”
You should just stay still. After An-Hyun’s words were finished, An-Sol’s eyes widened and grabbed the collar of his shirt. I looked at An-Hyun foolishly and sighed.
“No. You have to stay with the kids no matter what.”
“Why? There’s no reason for you to risk yourself alone.”
“There could be more of them beyond the wall. Just in case, we need one person to protect the group. Also, it’s more convenient to lure them alone.”
“And you have a younger sister.”
Once I mentioned An-Sol, An-Hyun immediately shut his mouth. An-Sol’s eyes looked at me with mixed emotions. Gratitude. Concern. Sorriness. I originally hated kids like An-Sol, but strangely for some reason I thought she was okay.
After some time passed, the silent An-Hyun bared nodded.
“….Alright I understand. I’ll leave it to you hyung.”
“For sure. I want to live too. Trust in me.”
“Okay. I’ll trust you.”
“You can believe in me. Let’s strike while the iron is still hot. We’ll start right away. Everyone get down. Once I lure them to a certain degree, An-Hyun you take the kids with you right away. Don’t look back and don’t be a fool and return either. No matter what, look straight ahead and run. Got it?”
The girls said nothing. They simply had mixed emotions on their faces. I could see their relief because they were about to escape, but also their guilt of not being the bait. Before loading up the crossbow and heading out, I heard Kim Han-Byul, Lee Yoo-Jung, and An-sol each say a final word.
“… I’m sorry.”
“Oppa… Thank you. You better not die.”
To their heartfelt concern, I responded with a strong voice.
I went right into action. Of course, leaving from our hiding place I made sure not to make any noise right away. If I caused a disturbance here now, the others might be unlucky and get caught. I scanned the area quickly and some stones at the end of an uphill road caught my eyes. If I climbed up there, I would be able to see the situation outside as well as get the attention of all the dead-men. The trees weren’t as massive as before, but they were enough for me to hide myself as I moved along.
Duck as low as possible and move from tree to tree. I had to avoid their eyes while moving and keep my breath and footsteps as quiet as I could. I didn’t think it was that difficult because I had done a lot of covert activities before. Suddenly, my 1st Rite of Passage came to mind.
In the empty lots, Park Dong-gul and Lee Yoo-Jung fought and the dead-men flocked to the stone he had kicked. I decided to keep myself alive and ran away alone. I didn’t know what direction I was going and ending up getting lost for two days. When I compare that time with now, I can’t help but laugh.
I could have acted more calmly. There might have been another way. I suddenly thought of these things.
Slow my breath and kill the sound of my footsteps. In that state, I hide and steadily move between the trees. The target stone wasn’t that high, but it was rounded so that the dead-men wouldn’t be able to come easily. Also, I wanted to see if a village or building was visible from the stone wall.
I wasn’t spotted even once as I moved through about a dozen trees. I arrived at the stone before I knew it and briefly looked around before quickly climbing up. An expansive view and the situation below came in at a glance. Looking beyond the stone wall, I couldn’t see any villages or buildings. I wasn’t worried too much though because they would find some the closer they got to the central area.
I thought it was a good idea that we gave up on going through the front. My prediction from my detection spell was not mistaken. Seeing the dead-men all around, I slowly stood on top of the stone. I glanced at the hiding place and saw An-Hyun trying to find the right timing to poke out his head. From now on I have to become the surefire bait for everyone. I exchanged glances with An-Hyun and took a deep breath.
Then I cried out with all my strength.
My voice rang loudly in the air. The effect was immediately seen. It worked wonders. All of the visible Deadmen down below turned their heads towards me. Finally, they let out a howl and ran toward me. For now it was a success, but there was a slight feeling of something missing.
As I swung both my arms and provoked them with a loud voice, the number of dead-men coming out from the forest increased. I needed to hold out on the stone for a bit longer to get to the dead-men on the far right side. I opened my mouth again with a loud voice.
“WAHHHHHHHHHHHH! MONSTERS AHAHAHAH! I’m over here! Look here!”
Grrr! Grrr! Grrr! Grrr! Grrr! Grrr! Grrr! Grrr!
As soon as I finished yelling, I heard multiple cries. At the same time, I felt a large number of the monsters moving to where I was. Before I knew it, the Deadman nearest to me arrived at the rock where I stood and tried to frantically climb it. It seemed I didn’t need to yell anymore. Without a care but for hunger anymore, the Deadmen let out a frightening shriek as they ran towards me.
‘It reminds me of the old times.’
I looked at the increasing crowd of monsters and smiled wickedly. I grabbed the crossbow attached to my left arm and pulled out three bolts. I could secure one bolt to the bowstring and also load up more two. I can shoot three bolts with one reload.
Before aiming at the struggling dead-man in front of me, I glanced where the others were hiding. Strangely, I began to laugh uncontrollably.
“Oppa” refers to an older male while spoken by a female. It means brother but doesn’t necessarily imply blood relations. “Hyung” refers to an older male while spoken by a male.
“Oppa. Han-Byul is right. Let’s just hide and wait. Yeah?”
In this case, Soo-Hyun is called “Oppa” which lets the reader know that the speaker is either An-Sol or Lee Yoo-Jung.
For future reference, “Unni” refers to an older female spoken by a female. “Noona” refers to an older female spoken by a male.
At some points in the writing the tense seems to change. I’m not sure if it is stylistic but I decided to keep it the same.