It is often said that bad luck comes in threes, while fortune vanishes in a breeze.
There was no better way to describe Bai Zhi ’s current predicament.

On top of the black markings on his neck, which sapped more of his stamina with each passing second, his right arm was beginning to feel numb where the zombie had bitten him, and he was having trouble controlling it.

All he could do was lie perfectly still under the bed, holding his breath, until he heard the zombie ’s retreating footsteps.
With a small sigh of relief, Bai Zhi retrieved some supplies from—where else—his Inventory and set about dressing the wound.

It was a brutal affair.

Bai Zhi didn ’t even flinch as he dumped high-proof alcohol over the wound to wash all the black blood away, exposing the raw flesh that had been infected by the zombie bite.
Using the remaining alcohol to sanitize a small knife, he steeled himself for what lay ahead.
With as steady a hand as he could manage, he cut and gouged all the infected flesh away, then forcibly stapled the wound shut.
Finally, he bound everything up tightly…
with industrial-grade duct tape.

He took inspiration from a certain mafia drama about a man who dreamed of becoming a gang-star*.

Despite the violent, unpolished methods he used, the result was undeniably effective.
Bai Zhi wiped the sweat that had beaded on his forehead and tested out his newly patched-up arm by clenching and unclenching his fist a few times.
Satisfied that it would last until the end of the scenario, at least, Bai Zhi decided to leave his hiding place.

He made his way carefully over to the door, but just as he was about to take a peek, a menacing hiss, followed by a nauseating wave of putrid, rotting smells, came from above him.

The zombie had not left at all.

It seemed that the homemade grenades he had used on the zombie had had some effect.
Thanks to the countless lacerations it suffered from the flying shrapnel, the already beat-up looking body of the zombie had become more tattered and torn, and it was missing a foot.

The grenade attack had also enraged it immensely, and it looked ready to take a swipe.

Suddenly caught in a life-or-death situation, Bai Zhi knew this was no time to be conservative.
He immediately activated one of the two clones he had received from Mustachio, leaving it to take the unavoidable hit that would have otherwise ended his run.
Meanwhile, he seized the opportunity to escape.

Only once he was a safe distance away did Bai Zhi dare to cast a backward glance, quirking his mouth in a wry smile.

”…Looks to me like you ate the Bara Bara no Mi Devil Fruit**! ”

Similar to how it had ripped its own head off to attack Bai Zhi earlier, the zombie had detached a foot and sent it stomping out of the room, lulling Bai Zhi into a false sense of security…
This zombie was far more intelligent than he had given it credit for.

Is that another lesson that the Newbie Run is supposed to impart? ’Never assume they ’re simple fools ’, huh… ”

The sight of the wayward foot returning to the main body spurred Bai Zhi to action, and he quickly put even more distance between himself and the monster.
Though its slow, lumbering gait meant it couldn ’t win in a footrace against Bai Zhi, its abilities made it significantly more limber, in a sense.

After all, it was able to detach not only its head, but its legs and presumably other limbs as well…


Meanwhile, on the other side of the mirror…

Temperance Gentleheart was completely paralyzed, and the pervasive cold had left even Mustachio shivering and pale.

All their hopes rested on Black&White now.
If he failed in his mission, they would all freeze to death despite huddling right next to the blazing hearth.

The parts of the cursed corpse in their possession had been doused in gasoline, and now Mustachio lit them, as much for warmth as to complete the quest.
As the acrid smell of burnt flesh rose with the flames, he stumbled back toward the hearth and, feeding it with whatever flammable items he could find, kept the fire going as best he could.

He was plagued by the worrying thought that if he didn ’t, Temperance Gentleheart, in her frail state, would succumb to the cold before they could make it to the end of the scenario.

As he stared gloomily into the fire, Late Night Kitty stood up suddenly, a paring knife gripped tightly in one hand and her eyes blazing with determination.

”What are you doing? ” Mustachio croaked at her.
Late Night Kitty looked similarly pale despite being in the best condition of all of them.

She ignored him and slashed herself on the arm as she went over to the mirror they had placed in the living room, then promptly disappeared just like Bai Zhi had.

”Reinforcements, huh… ” A second later, Mustachio frowned.
”But what the bloody devil did she cut herself for? ”


I couldn ’t avoid the worst-case scenario… ”

Supporting his wounded arm with the other, Bai Zhi crouched in a corner of the living room on the first floor with a scowl on his face.

The black markings on his neck were a sort of curse that drained his energy.
Temperance Gentleheart had two, owing to Mustachio saving her twice from the mirror ’s grip, and they drained her energy all the faster for it.
In hindsight, Mustachio had really screwed things up for her.

Not that the knowledge put Bai Zhi in any better of a position.
With one set of black markings on him, his barely-passable 6 points of Constitution only allowed him to resist the curse for an hour before he would be as helpless as Temperance.

Theoretically, at least, that was enough time to finish the job.

However, after taking an infected bite to the arm, his stamina levels were critically low.
Even if he were to conserve as much energy as he could and keep going by eating more of the candy he so despised, he estimated that he could still move freely for no more than ten minutes before his body gave out.
The downsides of a weak Constitution were painfully obvious in that moment.

On the bright side, Bai Zhi had found the right arm that they needed to complete the quest.
During his mad dash to escape the zombie ’s clutches, he had spotted it lying in plain sight at the top step of the stairs leading to the rooftop.
It helped that items from the real world stood out like a sore thumb in the Mirror World

Even though he knew where it was now, he was wary about retrieving it.
If he entered the narrow stairwell, there was a 100% chance that the zombie would tear him apart as soon as he touched the arm.

It was to be expected that interacting with the arm in the Mirror World would alert the zombie, which would then make a beeline for it, so if Bai Zhi went for it, it would mean giving up the last of his life-saving Bamboo Doll clones.

”I need some way to distract it…
what can I do in ten minutes? ”

As he racked his brains for a solution, the last person he expected to see materialized before his eyes.

”…Kitty?! ” The sight of the girl, who was holding a knife in one hand while a stream of blood ran down her other arm, bravely holding back her tears as she fought the pain, stunned the usually unflappable Bai Zhi.

”Black&White? ”

Following the sound of his voice, Late Night Kitty soon found Bai Zhi leaning against the wall.
She broke into a small smile as her shoulders slumped with relief.

”I ’m here to help, tell me what to— ” She began, but quickly noticed Bai Zhi ’s gaze directed at the paring knife in her hand.

”Oh, this? ” she said, casually lifting the blade.
” ’To overcome fear, simply replace it with another emotion ’, you taught me that.
I don ’t know if this—tsss, argh!—counts as an emotion, but it ’s the best I got.
I can ’t feel anything except the pain in my arm, but…
damn, it hurts like a bitch! ”

Bai Zhi couldn ’t believe his ears.

*Jojo ’s Bizarre Adventure: Vento Aureo.
I was unable to find a particular scene that might have inspired his technique, so if anyone knows the l o r e please let me know.

**A magical fruit from the One Piece universe that allows the user to be immune to slashing attacks and to be able to split their own body apart into pieces and control the said pieces however they wish.
”Bara bara ” is Japanese onomatopoeia for split or cut.

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