117 Contract via Split Symbol
I felt suffocated by what I just heard. "This means that soul splitters are the cause of all this? They brought us here, away from our world, our families and loved ones, just to fulfil their selfish desires?
"Just, merely to fulfil… that desire for power?" I repeated what I said, slowly.
Huan Qing nodded grimly.
"Haha." I felt like laughing for some reason.
Although it is common knowledge that soul splitters are the ones who captured our consciousness and brought us here, the reason behind this has been unknown to us. Because we do not know the secrets of the Split Zone, I kept thinking that the soul splitters might be doing such a thing because they were somehow forced to, and that they might have been forced to do so in order to survive here.
I tried to understand and believe that they had certain reasons to do so, thinking that this was simply how it worked in the Split Zone, that they had no other options. What I hear now is that, they simply wanted the power the split symbols can provide.
"How different is this from murder?" I looked at Huan Qing, thirsty for an answer that could lighten the weight in my heart.
I did not get any.
He took a deep breath. "I don't know. I'm not a soul splitter, and I don't know why they do this."
"Then why are you working for the soul splitters?" I almost screamed the question.
Aware that there was still a group of people nearby looking at us, I tried to keep a lid on my emotions.
"Because I owe my life to one."
Trying hard to remain calm, I told myself to be patient and listen to his story.
Huan Qing looked into the distance. "Mi Fu's older brother was the soul splitter who captured me. Soul splitters have no pity for humans, so I didn't carry any hopes of being able to return. However, there were people I still care about in that world, and for her, I had to go back. This is why I did something which I thought was the most embarrassing thing ever at the time - I knelt in front of Mi Fu's older brother to beg him.
"I didn't have high hopes at first. Since they captured us to gain power, why would they let go of their catch easily? What I didn't expect was that he agreed to my request, and did not engrave a split symbol on me. For those in the Split Zone, as long as they don't have a split symbol, there's still a possibility for them to go back. Once they have a split symbol on them, the only way they can leave the Split Zone is to use their splitting key to undo the curse.
"Since he did not engrave a split symbol on me, that led to his life force depleting."
I opened my eyes wide. "Does this mean that by capturing us, it not only gives them power, but it prolongs their life as well?"
Huan Qing fidgeted slightly and looked at me. "I'll try to explain this as plainly as possible.
"Soul splitters are naturally stronger than us, but if they want greater strength, establishing a contract via split symbol would be the only way. They'd have to engrave the split symbol on the human soul they captured, and the contract forms once they succeed. Though the contract provides power to both the soul splitter and the human, it also has a restriction. Once the contract is established via the split symbol, it provides the soul splitter with greater strength, but at the same time, the human will receive a splitting key that can undo it. If the human finds the soul splitter and succeeds in using their splitting key to undo the contract, their split symbol will disappear and they can return. However, the split symbol on the soul splitter will still remain.
"Half of the split symbol will remain on their bodies, and they'd then have to find a new soul within a certain amount of time in order to re-engrave the other half of the split symbol onto somebody new. If they don't, they die."
"So this means, he had initially established a contract with a human via split symbol, but that human undid it and returned to the real world. Therefore, in order to survive, he captured you. However, because you begged him to, he decided to give up engraving the split symbol onto your body, and this eventually caused his death?" I asked in disbelief.
How could this be? If Mi Fu's older brother captured Huan Qing in order to save himself, why would he let Huan Qing go so easily?
Huan Qing nodded in response. "Yes. He did not engrave a split symbol onto me, and he eventually weakened after a period of time. His last request to me was to take care of Mi Fu."
"Mi Fu is human, so why is she his little sister?"
"I don't know about that either. I heard he used to have a real younger sister who was a soul splitter too, and Mi Fu just looks very similar to her. Soul splitters are able to see the real world from here, and when Mi Fu was captured by Si Luo, he begged Si Luo not to engrave a split symbol on her. Si Luo agreed, and instead of engraving a split symbol on Mi Fu, he captured another human. Coincidentally, I was captured at about the same time. Although Mi Fu doesn't have a split symbol engraved on her, she fell in love with Ku Fei here and refused to return to the real world. We can't force the consciousness of others to do things they don't wish to, and so Mi Fu's older brother let me go, with one condition. He wanted me to persuade Mi Fu to go back to the real world before I leave this place, and to go back together with her."
"What about him? He didn't capture any new souls after that?"
"Finding a suitable body of consciousness and capturing it is no easy feat, and there is a condition to do so. I don't know what that condition is, but this is the fate of a soul splitter. When Mi Fu's older brother let me go, he wasn't able to capture another human soul in time, causing his life force to weaken."
"Why didn't he just engrave the split symbol on you first, and let you undo it via the splitting key only after Mi Fu decides to go back? Couldn't he have continued looking for another body of consciousness after you bring Mi Fu back?" I asked, finding it rather odd.
Huan Qing sighed. "Even if he had engraved a split symbol on me, I wouldn't have been able to go back immediately anyway. There's something about the split symbols you don't know. Without activating your split symbol, your splitting key is basically trash, it can do nothing. This means that if you haven't activated your split symbol with your splitting key, you won't be able to go back even if you inserted the splitting key into your soul splitter's split symbol. Once you activate your split symbol, you also activate the curse and obtain the power. The curse of the split symbol dictates that you have to experience this before you are able to leave. Furthermore, it's not that easy for newbies to activate their split symbol so quickly since they're still not familiar with how they can control and manipulate their MF. He did it all for me, since I wanted to return so badly."
I felt a wrench in my heart. This means that even if I've found my soul splitter, I can't go back? Since I haven't had a taste of the split symbol's curse?
No, wait, that's not right.
Whatever he said sounded like it made perfect sense, but there's still a problem.
Why did Mi Fu's older brother let Huan Qing go at the risk of possibly losing his life?
Even if Huan Qing stayed here because of Mi Fu, why does he have such great MF? He even became the top illusionist in the Southern District after activating his split symbol?
"I know what you're wondering." Huan Qing looked at me.
"I had to protect Mi Fu after her older brother died, and without any power, I wouldn’t be able to fulfil my promise. Because of that, I decided to let another soul splitter, who just so happened to have lost their human soul counterpart, to engrave a split symbol on me."
Without speaking, I looked at him in a daze.
Why do such a thing?
Because he was grateful to Mi Fu's older brother for letting him go, and in order to protect Mi Fu, he gave up on the opportunity to return?
There was actually such kindness between soul splitters and humans in the Split Zone???
Huan Qing gave a wry smile. "Don't worry, I'm not stupid. I have a similar agreement with the soul splitter who engraved the split symbol on me, and once Mi Fu decides to leave, I'll undo the contract."
Is it all because of Ku Fei that Mi Fu refuses to leave?
Subconsciously, my eyes landed on Mi Fu and Ku Fei, who were not far from us.
She's definitely stubborn, even in love. She's very possessive of Ku Fei, but is it because she can't pull herself out of it?
So, in not accepting her feelings, is Ku Fei doing this for her? Hoping she would leave?
This was an information overload, all these things relating to the soul splitters. I need time to think it through and also discuss it with Nie Zun. But everything seemed rather unrelated to me, so why did Huan Qing look for me for help? What did he need me to do?
Huan Qing continued, "I've told you the secret of the soul splitters, and I'm about to request something from you."
"As I said, Mi Fu is currently the only human in the Split Zone without a split symbol. I've used illusions to protect her and make her look just like another ordinary human here. To keep her from being discovered by other soul splitters, I've even tried to lead others into thinking that she is a soul splitter herself. Mi Fu's constitution makes her a suitable soul for Si Luo, and Si Luo had captured another human after agreeing to Mi Fu's older brother's request of letting her go. That human already undid the curse and left the Split Zone. Without a suitable human soul, Si Luo's life force thus started to weaken."
Listening to Huan Qing, I began to understand what he wanted my help with.