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There’s No Love In the Deathzone (BL) There’s No Love In the Deathzone (BL) original

There’s No Love In the Deathzone (BL)

Author: Aerlev

© WebNovel

Chapter 1: Chapter 0. The World We Live In

[When Celestial War occurred, the universe was engulfed in a storm of miasma; the leftover of God's clashing power. The storm of miasma created a phenomenon where interdimensional tunnels emerged in the worlds, including the Earth where we lived. The tunnels appeared in the form of portals connected to interdimensional planes we called dungeons. On the other side of these planes, various creatures made of accumulations of miasma will come pouring out once the portal is breached. Not only that, but being from another dimension can also use the dungeons and portals to invade Earth.

During the first appearance of dungeons, humanity was not equipped with a means to counter these miasmic creatures, and a phenomenon called dungeon breaks was occurring throughout the world. Humanity lost about eighty per cent of its population and territory to the miasmic beasts...

(excerpt from the World History - Age of Apocalypse)]

"Gods wage war and humanity suffered," a low voice flowed from the rooftop of a three-stories residential building. It sounded muffled, for it came behind a thick black filtering mask covering the mouth of a man.

The blue eyes, clear despite the murky air of the red-zone, continued tracing the paper in his hand. It was a leaflet from a museum, printed on a glossy, thick paper—obviously not something available in this god-forsaken land.

[Seeing the suffering of the world, the Celestial Being bestowed power upon humanity, sending down Towers and Temples that granted abilities to the chosen ones. With the birth of Espers, and the support of Guides, humanity was able to gain the lost land and established the New Age, where we could live peacefully in—]

*crunch*

The man crushed the leaflet in his hand into a ball, frowning in apparent distastes. "Peaceful my ass!" he grumbled lowly. Whoever wrote this piece of garbage definitely never set foot inside the red-zone.

Simply by looking around, he could see the spread of dilapidated house that was too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter, the only two seasons one could expect in the area. The ground was dark and cracked dry, and the air was so toxic people had to wear filtering mask. Unless they were Espers, of course.

But not even sane Espers would willingly live in the red-zone. Not unless they were insane or up to no good. Or both. Usually both.

"And what with 'bestow' as if they are doing some kind of charity? They are the ones who messed up the world in the first place!" he raised his hand to throw the balled-up papers, only to pause and put his hand down again.

With a loud sigh, he unraveled the ball and smoothened it up again. The leaflet was something his little brother got for him from the teens' excursion to the orange-zone. He couldn't just throw it out even if he felt the content was ridiculous.

"It's rare to see you getting agitated, Zen," another voice suddenly came from the stairs leading to the rooftop.

The young man, code-name [Zen], pressed the leaflet hard for the last time and answered without looking back. "You will if you read this."

The source of the voice, a burly middle-aged woman, laughed with a rumbling sound. "What a rogue like you doing anyway, reading like a civilized man? We red-zoner have no business with something like that."

"Maybe so I can stop being a rogue," Zen folded the leaflet neatly, chuckling despite himself. Even he felt it was ridiculous. He spent his entire life in the red-zone, and more than a decade as a rogue, a slave for an illegal guild that was as close as it gets to being called a crime organization. His youth was shaped to be crude and unsavory, and it was unlikely that he would be able to change.

"I thought you joined the dungeon's raid in the north?" the woman asked, inhaling a cigarette as if the air wasn't toxic enough. But then, she was an Esper with an enhanced physique, so she had that privilege.

"Why should I? My contract ended last week," Zen was smiling behind the mask, but his eyes were empty.

A ten years slave contract. Three more years of additional contract to pay for debts. Zen had dreamed of a day he could finally bid goodbye to Umbra, his old guild. He thought he would taste relief, but he just felt empty. Thirteen years...he spent more years of his life as a rogue, and now he felt lost.

"Is that why you're reading?"

Zen looked at the leaflet in his hand, chuckling bitterly. "Yeah," he had told his brothers that he'd try to become a legitimate Guide after his contract was over.

He knew that the probability was low for a rogue guide like him to pass the government assessment. But his brothers had enthusiastically brought a leaflet from the museum during their excursion in the orange-zone. They thought it would help Zen as a study material.

"Wanna go clean, huh?" the woman cackled.

Zen hadn't exactly done any crime, but he might as well be considered as an accessory, since his job was guiding the espers who would use their power to steal dungeons and wreaked havoc.

With a bitter smile and small shrugs, he stared at the leaflet again.

[After the emergence of the Tower, one per cent of the population received abilities that could be used to counter the miasmic beast. These people were called Espers. But Espers are not invincible. The more they use their power, and the more they are exposed to the dungeon's environment, the miasma will accumulate inside their body and cause corrosion. Once the corrosion reached the maximum level, an Esper will face the danger of eruption. The eruption will cause a magic explosion in the surrounding area and turn the Esper into a miasmic beast. It was the duty of Guide to curb this corrosion.]

Zen continued his reading, although the letters were a little bit obscured from his harsh crumpling before. A duty, huh...Zen muttered inwardly.

[Guide] To curb Esper's corrosion by absorbing it into their body. Guide was special just for the fact that their body could break down the miasma absorbed from the Esper's system. Funnily enough, they could not absorb the miasma directly, and their constitution was no different from common people. So Guides working in the red-zone like Zen had no choice but to use the filtering mask. It didn't matter though, since a rogue like him needed to hide his face anyway.

But for it to be a duty...

Zen had never considered guiding as a duty. He was sold to Umbra as soon as he awakened, and had to work like a slave to pay off the upfront contract fee his parent took to get away from the red-zone. Guiding was simply something he needed to do to survive.

He didn't even know why he needed to survive. Perhaps for his twin brothers and the next-door grandma that took care of them when his parents left them stranded there. Because he needed money to put food on their table, and then to pay for the grandma's hospital bill for the last few years. Money that became a piling debt he worked hard to pay for three years of additional contract.

Duty...

How laughable. Talking about duty and blessing was the right of the privilege.

"Well..." Zen turned his head at the woman's voice. She threw her cigarette into the floor and crushed the stub, looking at the far horizon of the murky red-zone. "I do think if someone could go up, it's you. If it's by ability, there's no one better than you here."

Go up. It was a phrase they used when someone moved to live in a safer zone. Even the orange-zone would be miles better than here. If Zen passed a general assessment and become an official guide, he could earn a residential permit in the orange-zone at least. Which was why he still wanted to attempt it, if only to let his brothers live in a better place.

It wouldn't be a problem if it was just a matter of ability. Zen's fake license stated that he was a C-class guide, which was average, so it wasn't bad at all. But not regarding the level, Zen could make his guiding stress-free and soothing, sometimes even pleasurable, which was akin to a diamond in this mud-like environment. So he was quite popular and in demand.

But Zen had no idea what the world outside the red-zone was like. Shouldn't the legal Guides have better ability than him? Zen didn't even receive proper training. His technique was derived from instinct, as well as his unique trait that he had managed to hide from everyone, even from Umbra.

Honestly, Zen had no confidence he would excel outside the red-zone where Guides were rare to begin with. Not to mention...

"They said the assessment also used a written test," Zen glanced at the woman, which turn quiet for a bit, before laughing her ass off.

"Ahahahaha!" she cackled, smacking her burly thigh. "What are you gonna do with that?"

Zen shrugged, and the woman continued to laugh. "What are they going to ask anyway?"

"Something like rules, theory, world history? At least, that's what I heard. But it's from someone who took the test years ago, so..."

The woman scoffed, finding it even more and more ridiculous. "What good that'll be in the real thing? Isn't the most important thing for a guide is how well they do in guiding? Will knowing all of that make them better at guiding?"

"Knowing all of that will prevent them from going rogue, probably?" Zen looked at the leaflet in his hand again, before folding it some more and putting it inside his coat. "Unlike Espers, Guides automatically become a part of government agency if they don't go to a guild. As long as they have a proper license, that is."

"What? You wanna be a government worker?"

"Whatever got me money, I guess," Zen looked towards the east, where the red-zone residential area was located. It was near the border with the orange-zone, since normal citizens couldn't live further than there. Those that stayed where Zen lived were either exiled, wanted criminals, or a member of illegal guilds. It was basically a dump and a slum, the worst place to live if you're just a commoner. "If I can at least get the residence permit for the orange-zone..."

"You don't look like it," the woman took a seat among the piled-up boxes beside Zen, and glanced at the young man. "But you care about your brothers, huh?"

Did he? Zen furrowed his brows slightly. Was it really driven by care, or was it simply what he thought humans should do? Zen only knew that when his two-year-old twin brothers held his hand after their parents run away with the money they got after selling him to Umbra, he couldn't just abandon them.

Because then he'd be no different than his parents.

Thirteen years later, it was just a natural thing to do. But did he care? Zen didn't know. He just thought that if his brothers moved up, got a good job and good life, then he could finally rest. Then he didn't have to constantly think about them, constantly wanting to run away and feeling guilty afterwards.

He just wanted to be free. Free of burden, free of responsibilities that he didn't even realise he carried.

He'd moved them to a better zone, and once they were proper adults and could get a job, he'd just left to be on his own. Maybe trying to enjoy the life he never had.

The life he could never have.

Zen chuckled. What a joke. As if he could have a proper life after all this. These dirty hands that been assisting dirty deeds. It was too late for him.

But it wasn't too late for his brothers.

"Well, good luck, I guess?" the woman grinned, somehow already holding a can of drink in her hand from who-knows-where. "But why are you here if your contract's end? Shouldn't you be with your brothers? Or are you too sentimental now? Got too used to this filthy place, huh?" she laughed again.

"I'm waiting for my knives," Zen answered nonchalantly, cocked his neck towards the building across from them, where a rusty blacksmith sign hung on the door.

"Guides don't usually have knives that needed to be sharpened," she titled her head, smiling widely. Her sharp green eyes stared piercingly at Zen.

Guides didn't need a knife, or any other weapon for that matter. Since guides to espers ratio were about 1:20, guides were always the one being protected by espers because of their valuability. And physically, they were on the same level as common people or 0-star awakeners anyway, so what could they do even if they wield a weapon?

At least, that was what was common.

Zen, as it happened, wasn't a common Guide.

Perhaps because he'd been sold since he was a mere ten-year-old, he had trained himself hard to survive. His constitution was that of at least 1-star espers, and could reach more if he was given a weapon.

There was nothing special about it. He simply had to, if he wanted to survive inside the guild and had a position. To avoid becoming a mere weak guide and being forced to use his body for a service...

"If you can't pass the assessment, why don't you just join my mercenary group?" the green eyes gleamed beneath the blazing sun. There was greed there; greed that she had since a long time ago.

Zen was a valuable Guide, not just with his guiding, but his strength. A Guide that did not need to be protected all the time—who wouldn't want him? She only restrained herself because her group had no way to oppose a prominent rogue guild like Umbra, who ruled like a lord in the red-zone.

"Hmm...maybe. I'll think about it if you can get me that residence permit,"

"Damn, Zen, I'll use it myself if I have that," she shook her head with a grin. "I'm actually more curious that they let you end your contract."

Zen stood up and stretched, smirking inside his mask. "With the help of a very jealous guide," with something like Umbra, as long as Zen showed them that he no longer valuable, they won't covet him much. All he needed to do was lowering his work rate, and spread a rumour that he was already spent and couldn't absorb miasma as much as he did. It was a common occurrence within Guides anyway. It was spreading fast thanks to the envious guide, who made the rumour even more exaggerated, to the point that there was speculation about Zen no longer having much time to live.

It was hilarious seeing the conceited and smug face of the guide, but whatever would free him from another extension, he guessed...

"Fine, I'll just pray you don't pass the assessment," the woman smiled teasingly.

"Hey!" it wasn't like Zen had any confidence in the first place, but he could still hope, right?

The woman laughed again when she heard Zen's tone, but soon the laughter stopped. She suddenly perked up, and stared toward one side.

Zen frowned. Although he had a good constitution, all his senses were still that of a common people, so he didn't know what would cause this reaction from her. But from the looked of it, something had happened.

Not long after, Zen found out, as a young, lanky man ran from one rooftop through the other while calling for her. "Alma!"

Zen knew the man as the woman, Alma's mercenary group's scout and messenger. The man looked pale and drenched in sweat when he arrived on their rooftop.

"What is it?"

"It's an emergency!" the man spoke with a bated breath. "The dungeon that Umbra attempted is..."

Zen suddenly felt goosebumps, as his nape felt a chilling sensation.

"Don't tell me..." Alma widened her eyes. "A dungeon break?"

Still trying to catch his breath, the lanky man nodded repeatedly. "Leader—huff—Leader wants you to...haa...head there immediately."

Alma frowned, clearly feeling annoyed. "Why should I clean up Umbra's mess? Don't they have their own clean-up forces?"

"It's because the beasts heading towards the residential area!"

"What?!"

"Those Umbra bastards led the beasts to the opposite side of their HQ, that's why!" the man stomped his feet, looked at the person beside Alma and was startled. "Huh? Why are you here, Zen?"

"When did this happen?" ignoring the question, Zen asked with shaking eyes, as dread crept on his spine.

"About half an hour ago..." the man answered, still staring at Zen in bewilderment. "What...so they came into the dungeon without you? Hey—where are you goi—?"

The man couldn't even finish his sentence before Zen jumped down from the rooftop to the balcony and then to the ground. He watched with widened eyes as the man who was supposed to be a Guide made a move as if he was an Esper. But his surprise didn't last long, because Alma already dragged him along to move towards their base.

Meanwhile, Zen moved his body while his thoughts ran wild. The residential area was on the border with the orange-zone, so certainly, espers would be dispatched there, right?

Zen had never prayed, but he prayed now. He prayed as he ran, as his eyes finally caught sight of people fleeing in the opposite direction, as dread filled his body.

That's right...

Zen gritted his teeth and ran into the border, into the place where people running from.

This world he lived in was not peaceful.

Ignoring the shout of angry people he bumped on his way, Zen forced his legs to move, even as his stamina ran out.

The putrid scent of fire and death, of fear and destruction. The noise of chaos and panic. The closer he got to the residential area, the more he felt his heart stop functioning.

The deep blue eyes stared at the scene of destruction. They were no longer clear, but as murky as the desolate air.

This world he lived in, inevitably, was a cruel one.


CREATORS' THOUGHTS
Aerlev Aerlev

The journey of Zein started here, please support him with your love :3

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