66 The 13 Giants
Nie Zun waved his hand at me, smirking while he did, “I know I’m good-looking, but there’s no need for you to drool over me like this.”
Heat rushed to my cheeks with his words. Not wanting to bother with him, I turned my attention towards the scenery beyond our window.
“On a serious note though…”
Hearing the earnest tone to his words, I flicked my gaze back to him.
His starry eyes held its constant radiance, “Song Lu will be fine. The people within split zone have to learn to protect themselves. You have to believe in her, and you have to believe in yourself. From now, as long as you face everything with courage, there’s still hope. We still have time.”
Never in my life had I ever expected to hear these words from the indifferent and egocentric Nie Zun.
After a pregnant pause, I broke into a smile, “Alright, let us head back to Western District then! We still have time.”
Nie Zun’s lips curled upwards ever so slightly, “Let’s rest for a while. We’ll head back first thing tomorrow.”
“This is where I leave you; you’ll reach Western District once you get through this boundary forest. You should bring Tao Lie and Mu Li along with you.” Jiao S said to me.
I glanced back at Muscle Man and Bandage Man, both of whom were standing respectfully to the side, then nodded, “Thanks, Jiao S.”
Brightening her usually stiff face was a smile which held a trace of exuberance, “It’s nothing. I hope you’ll be able to resolve the issues in your district soon. I’ll inform Tao Lie once the investigation on my end is concluded, and if everything goes on smoothly on your side, we can regroup again and discuss our next step.”
I nodded in agreement, then with a gesture, I indicated for Jie Pa, Nie Zun, along with Tao Lie and Mu Li to proceed towards the Eastern-Western District boundary line.
“Oh, it seems like every district has their own protective measures set up within the boundary forest. Tao Lie, does Eastern District have them in place too?” Still watching my surroundings, I asked.
“Under normal circumstances, the G-ranking offices in S Clan will conceal themselves within the boundary forest on either end of the district. With the increase of these unexplained incidents, we’ve also sent some of our higher ranking members to guard them.” Nodding in response, Tao Lie explained.
For a moment, my mind worked itself to its extremes, attempting to recall if the Western District had placed similar efforts in protecting our own. “We… Do we have people guarding our boundary forest?” Unable to contain myself any further, I turned towards Nie Zun.
Yet, Nie Zun, who only spared a fleeting glimpse my way, didn’t seemed to be in the mood to entertain my query, “Aren’t you the District Commander? Why are you asking us that?”
With my heart on my sleeve, the embarrassment I felt at his statement was apparent to everyone in our company.
Jie Pa smiled, “Ms Ah Shen, we do have them at Western District. Ms You Ji was the one who organized them in the past; this time, though, I’m afraid those preventive measures would be targeted at us.”
Sigh, am I really going to meet my own district’s residents with force?
“According to our recent reports, Western District’s boundary forest has been deathly still, to the extent that it’s starting to feel peculiar. It’ll be wise to stay cautious when we enter later.” Tao Lie did a similar action of pushing up his glasses, just like Jie Pa, only that his was a pair of sunglasses.
Sigh, I can’t believe I have to be cautious even when I’m going back to my own district.
As we’re going through the boundary forest, I inhaled a deep breath. This was the scent of Western District’s boundary forest that I know so well. Subconsciously, taking heed to Tao Lie’s advice I took a quick look around us but failed to detect anything out of the ordinary.
“Do you feel anything out of place?” I directed the question at Nie Zun. He didn’t speak, but calmly swept his gaze around.
I frowned, “This doesn’t feel good; it’s as though I’ve committed a crime in my own home. I’m returning to my own damn district, what’s there to guard against!”
And so, I stomped my foot, placed both hands on my hips, inhaled a deep breath that traveled all the way to my diaphragm, then bellowed, “Whoever is hiding out there, show yourselves! I’ve already seen you!”
The group fell into silence…
It was Jie Pa who made the first comment, “Ms Ah Shen, we still have Mr Tao Lie and Mr Mu Li in our company. Please take more care in managing your reputation as a District Commander.”
I was immediately overwhelmed by a feeling of indignation—did I not have the image of a District Commander?! But I’m great!
“Li Shen, I hope you’re well.” A familiar voice sounded.
… What? Did they really show themselves after I told them to?
Lifting my head I could see 13—No, wait—15 of them.
There were two standing in the forefront of the group; in his late 20s, the man on the left wore a dark blue jacket with a head of neat, inch-long hair. His left hand was continuously in preoccupation with twisting the jade stone ring that he had worn on his right.
I recognized him; he was one of the 27 floor managers under me. Ta Lai, manager of the third floor.
I didn't know the name of the other man beside him, but I have seen him around as well. Middle-aged man with a pale and gaunt face, short hair.
He was the shopkeeper of the Weapon shop back in Western District's Marketplace, the one who gifted the Piercer to me. It was his wife’s body that exploded right in front of my eyes—Ah Wen.
He was the one who spoke up earlier, “Li Shen, I hope you're well.”
There were 13 other men with them, or more specifically, 13 giants. These 13 men were all around 5 meters tall, their body covered in muscles and wore only a pair of pants. The vicious look on their faces reminded me of an anime I've watched when I was still alive—those titans in Attack on Titan.
I'm not sure how you interpreted the words, “I hope you're well.” In my opinion, if anyone says that to me, then in contrary, they definitely did not wish for me to be “well”.
Be it the giants in their company, or the eyes which were filled with pure hatred in Ah Wen’s husband eyes… Either way, I could tell that I'm not welcomed here.
Yet, I still thought it strange. How did we not hear the sound of movements if there were this many giants approaching us?
Noting the lack of response, Ah Wen’s husband continued, “It seems that a person of our District Commander’s status is apt to forget indeed. I'm Zou An, Ah Wen's husband, the one who gave you your Piercer.” His honorific form of “you” was accompanied by a sardonic laugh.
I shook my head, “I didn't forget about you, and I've remained grateful for the Piercer you and Ah Wen gifted.” I pulled out the Piercer that was tied around my calf and held it in my left hand.
Zou An didn't spare a glance at the Piercer. Instead, he continued regarding me with his cold gaze, “It's too bad. My wife and I didn't want your gratitude when we gave it to you, what we wanted… was your life!”
A malicious glint flashed across his eyes when the words left him, and his haggard face was instantly lit by his intent to kill.
With a wave of his hand, the 13 giants behind Ta Lai and him scurried to their feet and leapt into the air.
From that simple action, I unraveled the mystery behind their quiet footsteps when they approached us moments ago. The movements of those 13 giants were nimble, even more so than a regular person like us despite our comparatively petite stature. Observing their swift but light movements, I speculate that the huge size of their body did not have much effect on their mobility.
Since the trip to Southern District, there was no longer an ounce of fear left in me towards battling. I have already encountered all sorts of situation since arriving into the split zone. Did they really expect to restrain me by the mere use of these giants?
Pushing the tip of my foot against the ground, I jumped as well, drawing back the Piercer with my left hand then whipping it forcefully at the incoming giants.
I realized it when I poured my MF into the Piercer the previous time—the combat weapon in my hand didn't feel ordinary. It almost seemed alive with the way it unleashes a destructive streak of violet light once it has its fill of my MF. If I coordinated this attack with just the right amount of strength, then the damage it could produce would be elevated to an extreme.
While I did not have a perfect grasp in terms of my control, but I did have almost a year and half worth of experience in Split Zone No. 13. Besides, meticulous control over MF has always been Song Lu’s forte, and I have never forgotten about her coaching.
Which was why, when I flicked my wrist sharply and channeled my MF into the Piercer, it roared into life. Like the crackling of lightning, an elongated flash of Violet Blade blazed its way to its target, whizzing decisively towards the 13 giants!
“Zou An, was it really necessary to get violent? No matter what, I’m still Western District’s Commander!” Unable to maintain my hover in mid-air, I descended gradually while keeping my eyes fixated on the the Violet Blade as it traveled towards the giants behind Zou An.
Zou An’s murderous intent was undisguised and clear from the look in his eyes, “Li Shen, were you ever deserving of that title?”
Following his words, my eyes followed in surprise as all 13 giants increased their speed. Some were bent at their waist, others leapt in mid-air for a second time and in an instant, each one of them had managed to dodge my Piercer’s Violet Blade attack without missing a beat.
Was it possible? Even a person of normal stature would not have guaranteed success in surpassing the speed of my Piercer’s attack, yet… these 13 giants who measured at 5 meters tall are able to dodge them with such agility?!
Missing their swift evasion, the Violet Blade whirred past them and into the deep forest.
An entire cluster of trees was cut down by the horizontal strike of Violet Blade!
While I was inwardly impressed by the increased damage potential as a result of my own collaboration with the Piercer, I was startled as well—when did these 13 monsters appear in the Western District?
One after another, as though crushing us with their weight had been their intention, the 13 giants appeared over our heads and plummeted. Pushing his glasses, Jie Pa took an abrupt step forward and crouched. On his right hand, he crossed his index and middle finger, seemingly forming a knot with his hand prints, then drew a circle around him while muttering an incantation, “Shield!”
From where his fingers were, a stream of bright light appeared at his word, and an arched barrier of white light was formed from the ground.
At incredible speed, the barrier drew a semicircle from one end of us and curved forward into the ground of the other, forming a hemispherical layer of protection.
Thump, thump, thump!
A series of thuds sounded when the weight of those 13 giants made contact with the shield at the end of their fall. The soles of their feet glowed white for a split second, before the enormous body of theirs rebounded.
With a loud crash, the giants were thrown into mid-air once more and plunged back to their initial position behind Zou An and Tai La. Their eyes were bloodshot with rage as they viciously glared at us.