24 Surprise Appearance of a Soul Splitter?
When I walked outside the shop, there were already many people popping their heads out, watching us with surprised and suspicious eyes. This attention wasn't at all good. I furrowed my brows.
Jie Pa walked as he considered, "The injury on his back is the kind that not only increases one's pain, but also causes an addiction to the poison. This poison is extremely terrifying, and even the consciousness will become effected by it. Additionally, it's very difficult to treat."
"It's probably not easy to get an antidote, right?" Yu Liang asked.
"Most shops wouldn't carry it. That girl must be of an unordinary background."
I let out a sigh. "It's unfortunate that Ku Fei is unwilling to let us help him."
Jiao S scoffed. "Si Luo has three extremely powerful people working under him: an illusionist, Huan Qing, a soul snatcher, Rong Jin, and a persuader, Gaoqin Jiuye. Against the three of them, even if we had Li Qing, we should be frightened. Let alone with you."
I was a bit taken aback hearing Gaoqin Jiuye's name. I lowered my head and said, "Gaoqin Jiuye. Persuader..."
Jiao S didn't seem to notice my strange reaction and just nodded. "The person you saw before. He has an ability called persuasion. With just his words, he can control people with MFs much lower than his."
So was this the reason that Tao Lie had followed his order to stop the other day? What kind of powerful ability was this?
Suddenly, a sliver of suspicion crossed Jiao S' eyes. "But Li Shen, from your reaction that day, it seems that you've seen him before?"
I couldn't speak, unsure of what to say. As I hesitated, Nie Zun suddenly spoke up. "Jiao S, what do you mean by 'soul snatcher Rong Jin'?"
Jiao S gave me a long, hard look over, and then finally decided to answer Nie Zun. "The soul snatcher, Rong Jin, is the single person in all of the Split Zone who is able to contact those in the outside world. While he cannot control everything with his MF, he is still able to 'connect' to animals in the outside world, to pull their souls into the Split Zone to do his bidding."
A startled Yu Liang asked, "Contact the outside world? You mean that he can call animal spirits from the outside world and bring them here?"
Jiao S nodded. "Yes. It's a very strange power, and I don't quite understand it either. I've never seen him myself and have only heard about him from others. But we could still put up a fight against him and Huan Qing. Huan Qing's MF is 50 and Rong Jin's is 49. Gaoqin Jiuye, on the other hand, he's the abnormal one. No one knows what his MF is."
My heart shuddered with fear as I listened. Two people with MFs as high as my people, plus a person whose MF was unknown. Add on Si Luo, who had the highest known MF in all of the Split Zone, and it was no wonder that there was no crime in the Southern District...
"While we're on the topic, how many of you have unlocked your split symbols?" Guan Nie turned to us as he asked curiously.
Ni Zun responded evenly, "Me, Yu Liang, and Jie Pa."
Guan Nie gave a serious cry, "Wow, none of the women have unlocked it. Men and women are truly not equals."
Song Lu and I glared at him.
He shrugged and then looked over to Yu Liang and Jie Pa with interest. "How did you feel afterwards? Did you find a skill that suits you?"
Jie Pa silently pushed his glasses up his nose. "This technique allows you to feel mental force flowing. As I'm not one to engage in combat, and my MF is only 40, I've decided to help heal others' mental force with this."
Guan Nie praised, "A healer? I've never heard of anyone using their MF to treat others. A person's mental force used to heal another's vessel? Truly, a good idea. I can only wonder what kind of illness a normal person like yourself suffered to end up here."
My heart tensed and I turned to Jie Pa. While I'd assigned Jie Pa to the post of supervising the marketplace, I wasn't clear on his past. When Li Qing was still here, he hadn't yet become the supervisor. Only after I became the Western Commander did Nie Zun recommend him to me.
Jie Pa's gaze deepened. "While I lived, I was a psychiatrist. I suppose I'd been affected by my patients, and I developed my own psychological disorder."
"In other words, you didn't suffer a problem entirely of the mind, but also of the heart?" Guan Nie continued chattering on, but Nie Zun cut him off.
With a light smile, he said, "Yes. When we lived, he was my psychiatrist and psychologist."
I was caught off guard. Jie Pa had known Nie Zun when they were alive? They were doctor and patient? But Jie Pa seemingly arrived in the Split Zone before us. What happened? Two people who knew each other previously met again in the Split Zone?
Jiao S frowned. "You mean to say that we can meet people we once knew, here in the Split Zone?"
Jie Pa nodded. "Of course."
A helpless feeling suddenly overcame me. Then... What about Gaoqin Jiuye? No. Senior Gao Qi had already died. It's not as if a dead person's consciousness could also come here. Moreover, the only similarity between that mysterious and frightening Gaoqin Jiuye and my kind Senior Gao Qi were their appearances.
While I was deep in thought, Guan Nie moved to ask Yu Liang, "What about you?"
Yu Liang's eyes swept over Song Lu and then over me. "I was already able to doubly project my consciousness, so this unlocked state simply allows me to more freely control that ability. To be precise, it's become easier to create a projection and maintain its stealth in this world."
Guan Nie's lips curved up. "Amazing."
"But..." His eyes turned. "I wonder if the punishments you were served were very cruel..."
Yu Liang exchanged glances with Jie Pa, but Jie Pa didn't reply. Feeling the awkwardness in the air, I decided to speak up. "What should we do next? How do we find out about getting past the South-North border? From our current situation, it doesn't appear that we'll be welcomed by the residents here."
I looked around. The people around us had taken notice of our fight with Huan Qing in the tea shop, and so they were looking at us with suspicion in their eyes. As we stood there, unsure of how to proceed, an old granny with a humpback walked over to us.
The granny wore plain cotton clothes, and carrying her back, she hobbled over. "Are you visitors to our district?" she asked.
I nodded, a friendly expression on my face.
Her eyes glistened. "The shop you just went to—my grandson Ku Fei is inside. Can I trouble you to help me with something?"
I exchanged glances with Nie Zun, who stepped forward uncertainly. He held onto the trembling woman's body and said, "Tell us."
The old woman breathed roughly. "My grandson, Ku Fei—you just saw him—was a very good child when he was alive. It wasn't until he started volunteering at the hospital that he became tangled up with that wicked girl. She would chase my grandson all around all day long, but my grandson already had a girlfriend. There were several years between them, but more than that, the girl was clearly mentally ill!"
I asked uncertainly, "Wicked girl?"
The old woman nodded. "The one called Mi Fu. She had been staying at the mental hospital, and then she somehow ended up setting her eyes on my grandson. She stuck around him all the time, but he didn't like her, so then she traveled to the country to seek out a sorcerer so she could poison my grandson!"
When it came to love, women were truly frightening. Young girls too... I felt my heart tremble.
Tears leaked out from the old woman's eyes. "I don't know how, but then my grandson fell into a coma. I couldn't handle it, and so I ended up with dementia. I would have never expected that I would follow him to this place."
As I looked at the old woman's aged and tired face, worrying for her grandson, I couldn't help thinking of my parents. Did their minds also grow weak from waiting day in and day out for me to wake up?
A deep pain hit me. I walked forward and held the old woman's hand. "Granny, don't worry. If there is something we can do to help, we will do our best."
The old woman seemed to choke. "I... can feel that my time is coming to an end. After I came here, I've been watching my grandson, but he doesn't know that I'm here. I also saw that wicked girl, and I cannot help but worry. But there's nothing I can do. That girl is revered by all the residents in this district. They say that she is the girl of fate, so even when she is arrogant and tyrannical, everyone lets her have her way. I've been waiting and waiting for a traveler to come here and help me. But even after being here several months, I've not seen a single outsider."
Jiao S turned her head. In a rare move, she spoke warmly, "Tell us how we can help you."
The old woman continued to breathe roughly, as if living were very difficult for her. She struggled to lean in to me, motioning for me to lower my head. I quickly bent over and let her whisper into my ear, "An ill-fated relationship. That girl is my grandson's soul splitter, but my grandson seems to be remorseful toward her. You must find a way to allow my grandson to kill her, to return..."
Before she finished speaking, her body had started turning transparent. In a panic, I hurriedly clutched at her, but Nie Zun stopped me. "Her physical body in the real world has already run out of time," he said.
And then, the old woman's body turned to a wisp of light and disappeared. She hadn't even finish speaking to me.
I tried to suppress my emotions. Everything had happened too quickly.
"What did she say to you?" Jiao S asked.
I suddenly recalled that yes, this was the point. I spoke quietly, "She said that Mi Fu is Ku Fei's soul splitter, and she wants us to help him kill her."
Song Lu asked in surprise, "That can't be. From what she told us, Mi Fu and Ku Fei were both brought here because they were ill. So how could she be a soul splitter?"
Jiao S' eyes widened. "Wait. Haven't any of you ever considered that perhaps soul splitters are just like us? That it's only after we arrive here that we are deigned 'ordinary' people or soul splitters?"
It was a bold supposition, but not impossible. Still, I couldn't help feeling surprised. "But if soul splitters are just like us, then why would they harm people? And what exactly are Mr Blond's motivations? We've never seen soul splitters, but according to that theory, wouldn't they be all around us?"
Stumped, Jiao S didn't respond.
"In any case, whether or not the old woman's words were true, we should still figure out what our next step is," Nie Zun suddenly cut in.
Jiao S turned back to look at the shop we'd just visited. In a low, coarse voice, she said, "Let's go talk with Ku Fei. If necessary, we can force him to speak."
Jie Pa suddenly spoke up, "That old woman was a bit suspicious. Although her words were reasonable, wanting to seek help from outsiders—everything is too much of a coincidence."
Jiao S nodded. "That's why we must return and, doing whatever is necessary, we must make Ku Fei talk."
Another reminder that we know little about this place.
A quick note on the difference between psychiatry and psychology, because I sort of lump them together in my head. There’s the fact that practitioners of the former are MDs, and able to prescribe medications, whereas the latter are PhDs. But I think the more practical difference is that psychiatrists tend to approach mental illness from a more biological and chemical viewpoint, while psychologists go in from a social and behavioral viewpoint. …It’s all kind of related together, isn’t it?