Illusions, Lies, Truth V5C1: The Novices Debut, Part 1—Deceptive Story

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Illusions, Lies, Truth Volume 5: The Fallen, Jiu Ge, Part One

Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo)


Chapter 1: The Novices Debut—Deceptive Story—translated by lucathia

Slay Teeth Debris: Where are you?

Grand Duke Jiang is Fishing: Jiu Ge. Didn’t I just tell you that I have to help my boss look after the bookstore this afternoon?

Slay Teeth Debris: Ah, I just want to check that you arrived safely and haven’t accidentally fallen into some barrier dimension.

Grand Duke Jiang is Fishing: …I really wish I could properly stay on Earth.

That’s difficult! Lu Yang put away his cell phone and pressed the doorbell. He glanced backward, making sure there was no movement from the door across the hall.

The door in front of him opened. A vampire who was no less handsome than the angel smilingly said, “Welcome, please come in.”

Lu Yang really wanted to properly stay on Earth himself, but he was forced to fly to Mars.

“You’re answering the door in broad daylight. Aren’t you afraid people will see through you?”

Even without Jiang Ziya’s eye, Lu Yang could see many flaws. Such reflective eyeballs. They must be glass? What if I wasn’t the one who knocked, but rather the mailman or the neighbors?

House Keeper smiled and stepped aside, explaining at the same time, “Mistress does not wish to answer the door, and I have not run into any substantial troubles answering the door thus far. People always assume they are the ones who have seen incorrectly, or pass it off as a fashion choice.”

The moment Lu Yang stepped inside, he saw a young, blond man dressed in gorgeous priest robes holding a glowing book. He continuously gestured with his hand, the signs he made with his hand greatly resembling those of Lu Yang’s father. Oh, right, Hold Keeper just started learning exorcism from my father last week.

Just like House Keeper, Hold Keeper’s handsomeness did not lose to Jian Zhi’s either. Actually, he was far more conspicuous and dazzling. If he went out, he would definitely capture the attention of millions.

Lu Yang suddenly felt that he had really worried too much. Compared to Yu Shu’s two familiars, the Jian Zhi who had undergone Lin Zhixiang’s adjustments really wasn’t anything out of the ordinary!

Are spirits nowadays all so high profile? Suspiciously, Lu Yang asked, “You have your familiars take out the trash. Do they really raise no suspicions?”

A woman wearing a tank top and shorts was slumped crookedly across a long sofa. She was biting a straw in her mouth and holding a large glass of watermelon juice in her hand.

“Nowadays, there are even people who tattoo the whites of their eyes to make them black. So many people cosplay on the streets. Nothing can be too odd. House Keeper and Hold Keeper’s flaws can be easily be hand-waved.”

True. Sometimes, Lu Yang had to take an extra glance to make sure someone was human and not a spirit.

“Originally, we had to be more low-key in order not to get discovered by spirit slayers like you, but with the stamps of your Qing Wei Gong, your father’s Church, and Jiu Ge promising protection, my children have the run of Zhongxiang City. Why play it safe?”

Yu Shu mocked, “I’ve even been considering whether or not I should let them debut as celebrities and bless the eyes of millions of girls.”

“Please no!” Lu Yang knew Yu Shu had purposely said this, but he still felt his scalp tingle. He was afraid this would truly come to pass. The results wouldn’t be anything he could deal with.

“Lay it on me. Why are you here today?”

Yu Shu knew that this guy wasn’t someone who would come here for no reason, unlike Jiang Ziya who visited all the time. Jiang Ziya had never considered himself an outsider.

Lu Yang frowned in frustration. As he was considering where to start with his questions, a glass of ice-cold watermelon juice was placed before him.

House Keeper smiled gently and asked, “Would you like a small cake to go with it? Or homemade cookies?”

“N-No, thank you…”

Lu Yang felt awkward. He thought about how much House Keeper had helped them, so he politely sipped on the watermelon juice. However, he was surprised that the cool, sweet juice was actually capable of settling his frustration. Drinking it was quite soothing.

I feel so conflicted. Lu Yang sighed and asked, “Yu Shu, why did you decide to raise familiars?”

She was doing such a good job with it, too. He had never seen spirits that were so emotionally stable. Even though they were illusory familiars, which were safer compared to artifact demons, their level of emotional stability was still an extreme rarity.

Yu Shu coldly said, “If you’re here to ask about me, the door is over there. See yourself out.”

Lu Yang could only quickly explain, “I’m not here to ask about you. I’m here to ask about the neighbors across from you.”

Yu Shu frowned and sat up completely. She slammed the watermelon juice on the table and scolded, “Why are you asking? You’ve been in this profession for so long. Don’t you know that there are some things that are better left alone? If nothing’s going on, don’t ask about the treacherous depths of my neighbors!”

Lu Yang quietly said, “Ziya often gets lost in a daze lately. His expression is sometimes surprised, sometimes absentminded, but when he returns to his senses, it’s as if nothing happened.”

Yu Shu furrowed her brows. The heat was fanning her frustration, so she picked her watermelon juice back up and sipped it. Her two idiotic sons just had to stand at attention once they heard Jiang Ziya’s name. Their faces were full of worry; it was clear who they were worrying about.

Beside her, there was even a model of mixed descent gazing at her expectantly. What kind of seduction by handsome men is this? Yu Shu felt that this seduction or what not was really something she could do without. A moment of carelessness, and she would lose her footing.

After sighing, she helplessly said, “Five years ago, I ran into a bit of an issue. My memories aren’t clear. I can’t tell which memories are real and which are fake. It’s not that I don’t want to tell you about the neighbors, but I don’t at all remember when they started living there. The moment I step out of my door, my memories stop being reliable. When I return home, I even have to comb through my memories carefully in order to distinguish between the true and false events that happened out there.”

I see, so that’s why she hates going out? Lu Yang asked suspiciously, “But do you really not know anything?”

This was a woman who could infer the truth from only a few clues, the one who Jiang Ziya and Lu Yang could never resist asking for help, and the one who they owed a pile of debts to because of that—after so much had happened, could she truly not have made any inferences?

Yu Shu waved her hand and said, “Sigh, don’t think too hard. It’s fine if I think about it at home. I won’t influence anything. If you go out there and think too much, something huge might occur. Just obediently go and slay your spirits. Don’t overthink about anything else.”

This was not the answer Lu Yang wanted. He knew he shouldn’t think too much about it, but seeing Jiang Ziya’s odd behavior too many times lately made him feel that he couldn’t just let it be. Therefore, he had come here today.

“But Ziya—”

“You don’t have to mind his business. I believe someone will fix the flaws.”

“Who?”

Well~ Yu Shu ran the words through her head first before saying, “His father should still be alive.”

“I think so too,” Lu Yang tactfully expressed that this was not hard to guess.

“And he isn’t missing at all.”

Lu Yang gave it some serious thought and asked in confusion, “What do you mean by that? Is he nearby?”

“I don’t know where he is, but I’m certain he could show up here at any moment.”

Lu Yang thought about it. It didn’t seem impossible.

“Here’s my guess. The car accident his family experienced probably wasn’t real. Possibly, his truth-seeing eye was revealed and attracted enemies. It’s hard to tell whether his mother is truly dead or not, but his father going missing is probably for the sake of keeping the sister and brother away from everything. Anyway, the father won’t harm his son and daughter, so you don’t have to do anything about it. Otherwise, you could make things backfire and ruin the father’s plan. I’ll look after the neighbors a bit more for now. If anything’s up, I’ll find you!”

Lu Yang thought it over. Yu Shu’s conjectures made sense. He had felt that the car accident was odd and that the entire incident could have been fake, which would explain Jiang Ziya’s absentmindedness.

If Jiang Shang might still be alive, then he couldn’t possibly abandon Jiang Ziya and his sister. It was highly likely that there was a reason he couldn’t show his face. Forcing him out might not be a good thing.

Lu Yang arrived at a decision. He indeed could not interfere rashly. He nodded to show his agreement and said, “Then, look after them more carefully. If you’re too lazy to go out, give me a call.”

“What about the phone bill?”

“I’ll pay it!”

Yu Shu was satisfied. She gestured at the door and said, “After you finish your watermelon juice, see yourself out. I need to hurry and work on my manuscript.”

Lu Yang was very suspicious about hurrying to work on her manuscript. He lowered his head and seriously drank the watermelon juice. Before he left, he even turned his head to look at Yu Shu uneasily. She was still sprawled across the sofa crookedly and didn’t appear reliable at all.

Unable to help it, Lu Yang glanced toward House Keeper. The latter immediately understood and blinked at him to indicate that he would keep watch.

Lu Yang felt that relying on House Keeper put him at ease a lot more than relying on Yu Shu, but he suddenly felt weird about it. Since when did I start becoming used to asking a spirit for help? He quickly made his way out, his fleeing figure clearly framed by the door.

Once the door closed, Hold Keeper asked, “Did you lie to him?” Even though it was a question, his tone was certain.

Yu Shu snorted. “I’m an author. I specialize in making up stories. This is my job and has nothing to do with ‘lying’!”

Hold Keeper asked with great interest, “Then, what part was a lie? Is Jiang Ziya’s father dead? Or was the car accident actually real? Or—”

“Every word Mistress spoke was a story,” said House Keeper as he poured the watermelon juice.

The moment Jiang Ziya arrived at Jiu Ge, he turned on a music channel broadcast so the store would have some music. However, the news happened to be on. All he could hear was the anchor relaying the news quickly and seriously.

“During the Taiwan Provincial Art Exhibition of unearthed cultural relics dating back to the Warring States period, the exhibition hall was repeatedly vandalized by an unknown person. Witnesses claim the culprit is a tall man whose attire is… The police are asking for the public’s help with clues…”

I wonder if Lu Yang has any interest in visiting an exhibition? As Jiang Ziya listened at the counter, he looked over the new books that had arrived today. But before he could complete this task, he had to remove the huge obstacle on top of it. He opened his mouth and said, “Move.”

His aggrieved boss could only move aside. His chin, which had been propped on top of the books, moved to the surface of the table. His entire body was curved into a C. With his head on the table, he looked even more dispirited than before.

As Jiang Ziya counted the books, he was surprised to discover that Yu Shu had released three books in succession. No wonder she’s always sprawled across the sofa lately. I thought it was because it’s too hot!

He carried the books over to shelve them. As always, Jiang Ziya placed Yu Shu’s books in the most eye-catching locations.

“Boss, will Chen-yí drop by soon? She hasn’t been by for so long. The books we’ve set aside for her are piling up. Maybe you should contact her about picking them up?”

Fu Taiyi despondently said while collapsed on the counter, “She and her husband went overseas. She’s not thinking about those books at all. Just leave it.”

“An international vacation? Seems like a lot of fun.”

Although he said that, Jiang Ziya didn’t have much interest in leaving the country. He hadn’t even had a chance to bring his sister and the rest of his family on a vacation within the country yet, so he was in no hurry to leave it.

“The main objective is to search for any companions who might be overseas.”

Jiang Ziya froze. He carefully glanced at his boss who was looking at him with a smile. He did not appear as if he had momentarily misspoken.

Jiang Ziya asked in surprise, “Jiu Ge’s companions?”

“Yes.”

Jiang Ziya dithered over whether or not he should continue his questions. Although he was really curious about Jiu Ge, he didn’t feel like it was a good thing that the boss was suddenly so forthright. As someone who could level up a spirit accidentally, Jiang Ziya really didn’t dare to be too careless.

But Boss has helped us so much… Jiang Ziya carefully responded, “It must be hard to find them all, right? The world is so big. Where should you even search? Do you have any other ways to contact them?”

Fu Taiyi lamented, “They will take the initiative to appear near the God of the Eastern Sky, Dong Huang Taiyi. At the very least, clues will show up to aid the search. However, these clues are often fleeting. If they aren’t grasped, there may not be a second chance.”

That sure is difficult. Jiang Ziya felt that if he were in his situation, he wouldn’t be able to find a single one.

“A companion’s millennium of absence, the search nears desperation; wouldst thou be so willing as to assist?”

Jiang Ziya looked toward the counter. For a moment, he seemed to see Dong Huang, the God of the Eastern Sky, clad in black robes, reclining gracefully but leisurely on the chair, hand gently holding up a mottled mask.

Dong Huang looked over. He did not appear to be looking down on the world as he usually did. Instead, his eyes held a touch of sorrow.

Jiang Ziya was greatly taken aback. This definitely has to be an invitation, and it’s even for finding the members of Jiu Ge, a huge task that still hasn’t been accomplished after a thousand years! If I accept, Lu Yang will definitely explode on the spot!

“I, I don’t have the capability to help search.”

After saying that, he saw Fu Taiyi push his glasses up his nose and flip through Yu Shu’s new book. Fu Taiyi despondently said, “You’re right. I’ve gone stupid after searching for so long. You’re a shut-in who never steps foot outside of Zhongxiang City. How would you be able to help me find anyone?”

Hey, who uses an entire city as the basis for someone being a shut-in?

“Who is still missing from Jiu Ge?” Jiang Ziya tried his best not to appear too concerned. I’m just asking. I don’t plan to help!

He hadn’t thought that Fu Taiyi would actually answer, and his tone was solemn, too. He slowly gave the titles of the missing members.

“The Hymn to the Fallen, Guo Shang; the Mountain Spirit, Shan Gui; and the Honoring of the Dead, Li Hun.”1

Jiang Ziya was taken aback. He thought back to his research of “Jiu Ge.” Even though the name was “Nine Songs,” there were actually eleven of them.

“You’ve already found eight? That’s a lot!”

“No, Jiu Ge only has nine people.” Fu Taiyi smilingly asked, “Do you want to know which nine?”

Jiang Ziya felt that he was seeking death, but the boss had really helped him a lot. Now that the boss needed his help instead, Jiang Ziya really didn’t want to completely turn him down. Just listening for a bit shouldn’t hurt… right?

“S-sure, myths are pretty interesting,” Jiang Ziya helplessly said. Debts sure are hard to pay back. No wonder Lu Yang would rather pay a bunch of money to Yu Shu instead of owing her a debt.

“The River Earl, He Bo; the God of the Xiang, Xiang Jun; and the Lady of the Xiang; Xiang Fu Ren, are all broadly water gods. Their duties overlap. After these many years, the River Earl no longer exists.”

Jiang Ziya thought it over. Then, that only leaves the Lord within the Clouds, Yunzhong Jun, and the Lesser Master of Fate, Xiao Si Ming. I wonder which one also no longer exists?

“The Lesser Master of Fate’s powers have combined with that of the Master of Fate, Si Ming.”

The boss was “the God of the Eastern Sky, Dong Huang Taiyi,” and Fu Jun was “the Lord of the East, Dong Jun.” The death god that had shown up before was “the Master of Fate, Si Ming.” Even though Si Ming had not shown up with a normal person’s appearance before, he often sent group texts, lamenting the impermanence of life. He complained about how the soul he met this time wanted to be taken away by a team of girls and that cloning himself was difficult. Requiring him to split into an entire team was asking too much!

Chen-yí was “the Lady of the Xiang,” and her husband was likely to be “the God of the Xiang, Xiang Jun.” After all, in the ancient myths of “Jiu Ge,” Xiang Jun and Xiang Fu Ren were originally husband and wife.

I wonder if the Lord within the Clouds, Yunzhong Jun has come by the bookstore before? Jiang Ziya thought it over but couldn’t come up with anyone. He didn’t have enough information.

Jiang Ziya said in encouragement, “You’re just missing three. Boss, you’ll definitely be able to find them all.”

“I will be depending on your words of good fortune,” Fu Taiyi responded with a rare, gentle smile.

Jiang Ziya carefully thought about whether or not he would be able to help his boss. When he had been researching “Jiu Ge,” he had received too much of a shock. He reread too many times to count. Even if he wanted to forget, he couldn’t.

“The Hymn to the Fallen, Guo Shang” was a poem for memorializing soldiers, so searching the army could prove fruitful. But his boss must have already looked into such an obvious clue.

“Honoring of the Dead, Li Hun” was the final poem in Jiu Ge, bring up the image of a young man playing the flute. Most believed him to be responsible for playing the song of the gods. This clue was so abstract that Jiang Ziya didn’t have any idea where to start searching. A band?

“If you really want to search, the Mountain Spirit, Shan Gui should be easier to find, right? Records say that she is a beautiful woman who lives on a forested mountain. Guo Shang and Li Hun are too difficult to find.”

Fu Taiyi smiled faintly. How could Shan Gui be easier to find? She’s…

“The most luxurious hotel in Taiwan, Mountain Forest Lodgings, has postponed its grand opening yet again. Investors are suspecting whether this is a scam, but the corporation responsible claims they are merely making minor adjustments in order to welcome guests to the hotel under the best conditions…”

“Boss, have you run into any difficulties? You were willing to tell me so much today.”

His boss might have searched to the point of despair and had told Jiang Ziya to see if he could make anything happen. However, what Jiang Ziya had was the truth-seeing eye, not some truth-hearing ear, so what use was there in just listening?

Having received no answer, Jiang Ziya glanced over, but his boss wasn’t there anymore. Only an empty counter was left.

He had lowered his head to put away the books. By the time he raised his head, his boss was gone. This ability to disappear was truly improving by leaps and bounds.

Jiang Ziya was used to it. He minded his own business organizing the books. He was the only one left looking after the bookstore. He had to finish organizing the books before the evening when there would be more customers. He just hoped that the boss hadn’t forgotten that Jiang Ziya had a dinner at seven to attend… Ah, Fu Jun should be done with school soon!

Xie Peilun always follows him over, too. That should be enough people for me to take off. Jiang Ziya felt that he understood his boss too well.

After organizing the books, Jiang Ziya sat back at the counter and flipped through Yu Shu’s new book that he had just purchased. Then, he discovered that Mr. Butler had acquired a new ability: mind reading.

Huh, this ability seems pretty scary. If a normal person was involved, Jiang Ziya would feel that this person was up to no good to actually want an illusory familiar to gain an unbelievable ability like mind reading. However, when he thought of Yu Shu, he couldn’t help but think of her lazily sprawled across her sofa, unwilling to take a single step outside. Even if he wanted to treat her like a threat, he couldn’t at all!

She must just want House Keeper to go from being attentive to being able to read her mind. She won’t have to give any orders, and House Keeper will be completely automatic, bringing her coffee without any commands necessary!

Jiang Ziya knew his neighbor too well.

After looking after the store on his own for just a short while, an elementary school student walked in. The automatic door opened. Air conditioning blew in the student’s face. The student breathed out a lengthy, stifled breath and appeared a lot more relaxed.

Jiang Ziya peered at the time. “School ended so early? Xie Peilun didn’t come with you either. How rare.”

Fu Jun saw that only Jiang Ziya was at the counter. He unhappily said, “It’s too hot today, so the school said there’s no need to clean up after class ended and to just go home. Xie Peilun’s family is returning to the countryside for the weekend, so he can’t come.”

Jiang Ziya looked out of the glass door. It was almost evening, but the sunlight was so sweltering that it still looked like noon. Since it was so hot, most people probably didn’t want to go outside, so they didn’t have a lot of customers today. It was such a pity. He had wanted to guess which one might be Yunzhong Jun.

“Has Yunzhong Jun ever come by the bookstore?”

Fu Jun was tidying up his backpack and asked suspiciously, “You know that Yunzhong Jun has been found? Did Taiyi tell you?”

Jiang Ziya nodded.

Fu Jun unhappily muttered, “Just three people left for us to be all found. Fu Taiyi must be anxious. He clearly warned me before that I’m not allowed to tell you about any of this.”

“What happens after all of Jiu Ge is found?”

“I don’t know.” Fu Jun unhappily said, “Taiyi only said that the inheritance would be more complete. Everyone else wants to find all of us, too. I’m the only one who doesn’t understand. My inheritance was the least complete. I don’t know how to do anything.”

He resentfully whispered in a voice that was nearly silent, “The one they originally wanted wasn’t me.”

Complete… what does that entail?

Jiang Ziya didn’t dare ask.

Footnotes

1 The Hymn to the Fallen, Guo Shang: This poem is a hymn to soldiers killed in war. The poem dates back to the Warring States period. The title of this book is likely a reference to this poem. We have revised the title to reflect this.
More information on the poem can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hymn_to_the_Fallen_(Jiu_Ge)
More information on the rest of Jiu Ge can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiu_Ge

4 Responses

    • Kamui

      Nah, someone with a keen eye thought that people listening would be interested. Turns out to be correct.

  1. Andi

    Taiyi just took off like “well, that’s a clue if I ever heard one.” If he finds her, I feel like he’s going to stare at Jiang Ziya with sparkling eyes and repeatedly ask if any of the others strike him as being easy to find right now.

    It sounds like Fu Jun’s inheritance being incomplete means he feels like he and the Lord of the East aren’t the same being. That has to be rough… Because, for the others in Jiu Ge, you are you and you are all you have ever been, right? I wonder if that means Fu Jun won’t get his full inheritance until the others are found… although feeling like you’ll become another person sounds unnerving, especially since it sounds like he doesn’t currently resonate with who he was.

    • Kamui

      I mean, the fun fact is that if they had not just had that conversation, it really wouldn’t have been a remarkable announcement at all.

      I certainly feel like we are due for some character development there, indeed. The combination of ‘inheriting’ so young, plus not fully inheriting, there is a lot going on there that might could be exploited.

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