Illusions, Lies, Truth Volume 5: The Fallen, Jiu Ge, Part One
Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 2: Apartment, Part 1—Blessing—translated by lucathia (proofread by Minthe & J Tao)
In the dim stairway, there was only a single light bulb, oozing yellow light and hanging above the flat landing where the stairs turned. The railings had rusted into a yellow-black, and garbage that hadn’t been swept up had accumulated in a corner. A strange, putrid smell emanated from who-knew-where.
A pale white hand reached out from around the bend, clawing at the floor. A second hand followed after it, then a head of long, tangled black hair. Finally, a woman slowly crawled down the stairs, her long white dress so dirty that it had turned gray. Her four limbs were fractured in multiple places. She stumbled as she crawled, breaking her bones even further, each cracking sound making anyone who heard shiver. At last, she fell upon the bottommost step, hand slowly reaching toward the person standing there…
Jiang Ziya couldn’t help but move aside, allowing the woman in the white dress to crawl down without obstruction. Even though she shouldn’t be able to touch him, Jiang Ziya felt that he would have nightmares for three days straight if he let such a scary thing pass through his body!
The scariness of this stairway was no less than that of the scene of a homicide, as it was covered with “things.” Ever since the first floor, there had been a bunch of things, and it was only getting more ridiculous the higher up they went!
Even though Lu Yang didn’t have Jiang Ziya’s eye, he had also received a fright upon seeing this stairway. There were just too many illusory familiars here. Even though it wasn’t the most he had ever seen together, this place was just an ordinary residence, not a cemetery or execution ground. Even a normal cemetery probably wouldn’t be as ridiculously infested as this place.
He frowned. Even if they could solve the case today, he would have to visit again and carefully investigate this building.
“Just leave them alone for now and keep climbing.”
Jiang Ziya wished he could ignore them, but the stairway was crammed full of them, and by that, he meant three-dimensionally, and not just across the floor! In order to walk right into them, he would need a lot of Fish Leong’s “Courage.”
Seeing that Jiang Ziya was looking as if he’d accepted his death and was bracing himself to barge through, Lu Yang helplessly pulled him back. “Are there still residents here?”
Hu Lican replied, “Yes, two on each of the five floors, for a total of ten families. When the homicides occurred, many people moved away, one after another, but people also moved in. They’re all people who are badly off. The rent here is cheap, and it dropped even more after the homicides. Some families with difficult living situations moved in, a close match to the families who were part of the incidents.”
Lu Yang nodded. No wonder Hu Lican was so determined to cling onto my thigh. If he didn’t do that, the fourth incident wouldn’t be far off. The police would get ripped into if four homicides occurred due to domestic abuse at a single apartment.
“Then, I’d best clean these things up. It should make things better in the short-term.”
Lu Yang didn’t want to waste time taking care of these illusory familiars, as it was more important to solve the homicides first; however, even he felt his scalp tingling from the state of the stairway. To Jiang Ziya, this place must look like the gateway to Hell. It was a bit too much to expect Jiang Ziya to turn a blind eye to all that and force his way through.
Besides, Hu Lican and Fang Da were also with them. If they were to pass through all this stuff, they might actually fall sick.
“Natural order of Heavens and Earth, disperse the foulness from the air… Cut down demons and bind evil. Let the evil impurities dissolve away, let Taoism last for all eternity, let this imperial decree of Taishang Laojun be heard—Obey!”
Fingers brought together, incantation recited, Lu Yang’s two fingers pointed in a certain direction as the final syllable left his lips—
Through Jiang Ziya’s vision, the mystical Master Lu had recited an incantation and drawn a talisman in the air. As Lu Yang pointed both fingers in a certain direction, the talisman had flown to the middle of the stairway. Light had burst forth. When the light faded, the stairway had become clean. No mercy had been shown to the spirits.
“Did I just see Lu Yang blast something away?” Lin Zhixiang asked in shock, “Did you all see that?”
We saw it. Both policemen who had long since abandoned rationality once again began to question their lives…
Lu Yang silently dropped his hand. He remained calm despite everyone’s admiration. Still, he could not help but glance at his own hand. There was nothing odd about it. He hadn’t recited the incantation wrong either, yet it had more than doubled in power, to the point that even normal people could somewhat see the talisman.
This was all while his skill with talismans was far below his martial arts ability, though he was probably still better at it than most practitioners. It was just that he wasn’t particularly strong at it.
“Lu Yang, you seem to have gotten even stronger,” Jiang Ziya praised. “As expected of Master Lu!”
Lu Yang held himself back. With outsiders around, he didn’t dare mention that Master Lu wasn’t originally this powerful. Credit was probably due to the Jiang Ziya brand of power amplification. At first, Lu Yang had thought to try his best to refrain from summoning Slay so much in front of Jiang Ziya. He wanted to prevent Slay from materializing to the point of being able to slice melons and chop vegetables. That would attract too much attention, and the power amplifier himself would be in danger.
In the end, the Jiang Ziya Power Amplifier had not even let Lu Yang himself out of his grasp…
“I probably grew stronger after experiencing life and death at the library!”
Lu Yang stoically took all the credit himself.
“Then, let’s quickly head on up. Maybe a single slash from Master Ah Lu after he goes in will let us all go home and sleep.”
Jiang Ziya felt it was a good thing that Lu Yang had become stronger. If he could become strong enough to dispatch Xu Xikai in a single slash, that would be perfect!
Please, don’t you go saying that! Lu Yang wanted to retort, but he didn’t know if that would backfire on him. Just what can I do to put a stop to this power amplifier?
Jiang Ziya took the lead and rushed up to the fourth floor, so Lu Yang had no choice but to hurry after him. I’ll solve the current case first. As for how to take care of this power amplifier, I’ll have to wait and ask Gramps after I go home!
Standing at the door, Hu Lican removed the yellow caution tape and explained at the same time, “This is the scene of the third homicide. The second one was across the hall, and the first one was on the fifth floor. The survivor returned to the fifth floor, so we can’t investigate there.”
“Is the other family on floor five okay?” Jiang Ziya asked curiously. They live just across the scene of a crime, yet nothing’s happened to them?
Hu Lican sighed. “They’re fine. The other family is a young man living with his little sister. Even though their financial situation is poor, they’re in decent health, and both of them work hard at their jobs. For now, there shouldn’t be any potential for domestic abuse, but I’ve asked them for their number and have been calling them routinely to check on their state of mind.”
But if there really were something off with their state of mind, what could I do? I better grab Lu Yang’s thigh and beg him to solve this case once and for all.
Hearing a situation similar to hers, Lin Zhixiang couldn’t help thinking of her brother and herself. She firmly said, “Don’t worry, their lives will tend more and more to the good in the future!”
Lu Yang abruptly snapped his head back. What Lin Zhixiang had just said contained the power of an incantation. It was definitely a blessing-type enchantment!
“Are you okay?” He asked doubtfully. He couldn’t imagine how much energy this kind of enchantment required, considering that it affected other people’s lives, didn’t borrow outside power, and wasn’t an enchantment passed down through the ages. She had cast it solely through her own power.
Lin Zhixiang said in surprise, but she then fell forward without any warning. Fortunately, Fang Da was right beside her and quickly helped her sit down, unable to pay any mind to how dirty the floor was.
Lin Zhixiang asked in a feeble voice, “What’s happening to me? I suddenly feel so dizzy and exhausted…”
You cast an enchantment, a strong one! Lu Yang also felt very dizzy. Fine, I’ve gained another enchantment transmitter.
Lu Yang said while feeling conflicted, “Fang Da, can you help me escort her back?”
I don’t need to stay here? Fang Da’s eyes shone. He patted his chest and promised, “No problem. I’ll definitely escort Master Lin back home safely!”
Lin Zhixiang tried her best to stand up but couldn’t. Her entire body felt like jelly, and her eyes reddened in distress. This was her first time on the job, yet she hadn’t been able to do anything. She even had to trouble someone else to take her home. How am I paying back the favor? This is practically getting payback instead!
She mocked herself dejectedly. As expected of existence’s ba—
Jiang Ziya knelt down, looked at Lin Zhixiang in surprise, and said, “I just saw you release an enchantment! It was kind of like the talisman that Lu Yang drew when he was reciting his incantation, but the text wasn’t as ancient. It just looked like a simple ‘Good,’ but it was similarly glowing, and it wasn’t any smaller than Lu Yang’s talisman. After you finished speaking, the talisman floated upward and disappeared through the ceiling.”
Jiang Ziya contemplated, “I feel like the siblings on the floor above will be fine now.”
“Really?” Lin Zhixiang abruptly lifted her head.
Lu Yang straightforwardly said, “You just released a blessing-type enchantment for the siblings on the floor above us. As long as this building has other residents, they won’t take priority as targets.”
“I-I don’t know how to bless anyone!” Lin Zhixiang cried out in shock. How can existence’s bane give someone something as good as a blessing? How is that possible?
“I’ll tell you in more detail later.” Lu Yang thought it over and said, “You should go to Qing Wei Gong. A blessing isn’t a minor issue. You might need to rest for several days and will need someone to look after you.”
Lin Zhixiang quickly said, “I’m fine. There’s no need to go through all that trouble.”
Lu Yang glared at Fang Da, who immediately said, “I’ll escort her to Qing Wei Gong, got it!”
“Give my dad a call and have him open the door. Then, you should tell him what Jiang Ziya just said. Lin Zhixiang, if you have any questions, you should ask my dad.”
Lu Yang doubted whether Lin Zhixiang would be able to reach Qing Wei Gong without fainting.
Fang Da quickly nodded. As long as he could leave this place, he was willing to do anything!
Lu Yang gave it some thought and said, “Captain Hu, after you open both doors, you should leave with Fang Da. There’s no need for you to stay on site.”
Hu Lican, who had been deemed unnecessary for staying on site, felt… amazing! He removed the caution tape and used the keys to open the doors right away. After doing that, he immediately fled the scene with his vice-captain and Lin Zhixiang. They’d take her to Qing Wei Gong first, and then he’d happily return home to shower and sleep.
“How does Lin Zhixiang suddenly know how to cast enchantments?” Jiang Ziya asked in puzzlement, “Did she learn it during her spiritual practice at Qing Wei Gong?”
“She could always do it, or else how would she have ended up as existence’s bane? Her true power should be using spiritual words. The only difference between a curse or blessing passing through her lips is the effect. However, with how Lin Zhixiang has cursed herself for so many years, it probably won’t be an easy feat for her to use a blessing like she did today.”
Jiang Ziya instantly understood. It was a brother-sister pair on the floor above, and they earned Lin Zhixiang’s sympathy and desire for them to have a good life. So, she was unexpectedly able to bless them, and a curse turned into a blessing.
“I was thinking that she could bless you in the future. Maybe every case would go smoothly.”
Lu Yang firmly turned it down. “Save it.”
It was fine to go without a blessing. He had solved cases for many years without any blessings. It would be terrible if the blessing somehow ended up as a curse instead.
Lu Yang glanced at Jiang Ziya’s left eye. He didn’t know if it was just his imagination, but the patch of blue was usually inconspicuous and invisible unless someone was looking for it. After all, it was just a tiny patch in his eye. However, the patch seemed to be a lot more obvious now and was even glowing at times. But upon closer examination, he felt it was probably just light reflecting from Ziya’s eye… right?
Even though Lu Yang was extremely unwilling, he still summoned Slay. There had already been two deaths and one critical injury. This spirit was way too dangerous. He could not afford to hold back here.
There was a door to his left and right. Lu Yang picked the door leading to the scene of the third case. The forth homicide had yet to happen. The murderous spirit might still be inside.
Slay was the first to rush in. After circling around and finding no danger, Slay waited alone in the living room.
Only then did the two of them head inside.
Jiang Ziya first took a look around the room. The apartment wasn’t big. It was divided into two rooms and a living room, feeling rather narrow. It was also packed full of stuff. Even though there was a window facing outward, the light was blocked by the neighboring building, so there wasn’t a lot of light seeping through. The paint on the wall was dirty and mottled, making the entire living room appear dark and dreary. Even turning on the lights didn’t help much because the lights were also a dim yellow.
“Living here really isn’t helpful for your mood.”
Jiang Ziya suddenly realized the importance of one’s home. Even though his home was just a small, normal apartment, it was much better-lit, and the entire place was decorated in a warm fashion. His sister let no dust escape from her either, so he always felt relaxed when he returned home.
“There’s quite an imbalance in ying-yang energy here, heavy on the yin energy. No wonder there were so many spirits in the stairway,” Lu Yang said, “Hu Lican said the siblings work hard at their jobs. They’re probably not home a lot, so they weren’t as strongly affected.”
“This place is actually less scary than the stairway.” Jiang Ziya only saw some stuff that Lu Yang normally couldn’t see, such as the Doraemon sitting on the table and the faintly glowing cluster of mushrooms growing in the corner by the wall.
“They got scared away,” Lu Yang thought it over. “The spirits in the stairway were probably scared away from this place.”
Jiang Ziya came to a realization. So that’s how it is. I was wondering why I’ve never seen illusory familiars group up like that before. He picked up the photograph to make comparisons. Jiang Ziya searched for the wall the deceased had sat against. He was usually able to see some scary stuff, such as corpses that could move.
Slay, who had been immobile, suddenly shrieked, the sound piercing.
Jiang Ziya jumped in shock. He had never heard Slay emit such a shiver-inducing sound. Without another word, he ran back to Lu Yang’s side.
Slay rushed out and vanished instantly.
Seeing that, Jiang Ziya quickly followed after Slay. Even though his speed couldn’t compare to Lu Yang’s, he couldn’t let himself fall too far behind. Otherwise, Lu Yang would have to slow down to wait for him, and he would become a burden.
However, he was about to reach the door, yet there was no one ahead of him. Jiang Ziya turned his head to look. Lu Yang stood in his original spot with a shocked expression as he looked at the door.
This expression… Jiang Ziya blurted, “Your sword ran off alone, but you don’t know why?”
It was as if Lu Yang hadn’t heard him. He stared blankly at the empty doorway and mumbled, “Slay?”
Ever since he had summoned Slay at around ten years old, Lu Yang had never run into such a situation. Even when Slay found a spirit first, Slay would let him know. Only after receiving confirmation from Lu Yang would Slay dispatch the spirit.
Their hearts were connected. Never had there been any disruptions, yet Slay had left his master just like that. Lu Yang still hadn’t heard anything from Slay.
Lu Yang clenched his fists. He even felt his breathing become more labored. Could it be that Slay has gained too much of a physical form and is beginning to have different thoughts?
When it comes down to it, Slay is also a spirit…
“Come on! We should quickly follow after Slay. He might have discovered something!”
Lu Yang returned to himself and saw Jiang Ziya pull him along while saying, “Your Slay is really becoming more and more powerful. One day, maybe you won’t even need to make an appearance and can just do your assignments at Qing Wei Gong while Slay chops people’s heads off remotely—I mean, spirits’ heads!”
Lu Yang grabbed Jiang Ziya in return and pulled him to chase after the sword. He didn’t forget to mock, “Do you think Slay is a long-range missile or what? The farther away Slay is from me, the more energy is required. After a certain distance, Slay will disappear, and I’ll need to summon Slay again.”
“Oh, well, at last you’ve gained an auto-attack.”
“You don’t even play games. Where are you coming up with all these gaming terms?!”