Illusions, Lies, Truth Volume 5: The Fallen, Jiu Ge, Part One
Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 2: Apartment, Part 2—Demonic Chair—translated by lucathia
Kill him! Kill him! Kill him! Kill him! Kill him! Kill him! Kill him! Kill him! Kill him! Kill him! Kill him! Kill him! Kill him! Kill him! Kill him! Kill him!
Jiang Ziya blinked open his eyes, heart beating so quickly that even his breathing sped up. For a moment, he didn’t know where he was or what he had been doing. He was surrounded by pitch blackness, the yin energy so overwhelming that he couldn’t see anything.
He tried to walk, but he couldn’t move at all, as if the thick yin energy were restraining him.
He can’t be allowed to leave. A lot of people will die…
There’s no way out anymore. I have to buy time for someone else to discover that there’s something wrong. Even if I die, I have to slow him down!
The cold whispers drifted around him ceaselessly. At first, they started as full sentences until they became “Kill him,” and then “Kill me.” Finally, all that was left was a chorus of “kill kill kill kill kill.”
Jiang Ziya’s forehead became covered in sweat as each “kill” reached his ears. He was so irritated he could kill someone. Thankfully, he had never even really beaten anyone up before, let alone kill someone, so he was able to suppress the impulse. He tried his best to remember what he had just heard so that he could tell Lu Yang after he escaped.
As for how to do so, Jiang Ziya hadn’t made any progress. Even when sweat trickled into his eyes, all he could do was endure the prickling pain. He couldn’t move at all.
Fortunately, it didn’t take long for the yin energy around him to slowly gather together into a huge ball. Then, it took further shape. First, an arm, then a leg… Soon, it became the shadowy figure of a person sitting. The person’s figure was so extremely dark that even the light bulb hanging from the ceiling couldn’t illuminate it. The rays of light were swallowed, becoming part of the darkness.
Jiang Ziya had only glanced at the dark figure when it felt like his entire person was about to be swallowed by the darkness and become part of the human-shaped black hole. Thankfully, after the yin energy receded, he was able to move again. Because he had been frozen for too long, his legs were weak for a moment. He fell to the floor, which snapped him out of his daze. He immediately turned his head away, afraid to look at the shadow any longer.
He had seen so many frightening things since he was a kid, yet he had never felt as fearful as he did now. All he wanted was to flee as far away from the dark shadow as he could.
He crawled back up and ran toward the door, but no matter how he pushed against it, he couldn’t open it. The door was even made of steel. Although it was so rusty that the paint was peeling, it wasn’t like he could kick the door open.
“Stop joking around. How could I kill something like that?!”
Hearing the nonstop whispers, Jiang Ziya was full of irritation. He was so angry he clenched his fists and yelled, yet he felt like his hand seemed to be gripping something. Looking down, he was greatly startled. Why am I holding Slay? Moreover, he was actually holding Slay by the hilt, as if Slay were a real sword and not a spirit sword that flew around and never let anyone hold it.
There’s even a murder weapon? Jiang Ziya’s eyes widened. Hey, hey, I’m not responsible for slaying things. Please look to Lu Yang for such services!
Jiang Ziya felt a hot breath by his ear. He jerked his head back. A pale face was nearly plastered to his, frightening him so much that he quickly leaped two steps to the side. He nearly hacked at the person with the sword.
A woman was wearing a white nightdress so dirty it had turned gray. She had also been scared by his reaction, plastering her entire body against the wall. One eye peered through a tangled mess of black hair, the sclera almost completely red.
However, her breath had been warm. Jiang Ziya could even smell a sour stench from her, like she had gone without a shower for too long. This woman seemed to be a real person, not a spirit.
She gripped the nightdress and mumbled piteously, “I-It’s not my fault…”
“Then whose fault is it?”
Jiang Ziya couldn’t leave, but he also didn’t dare look at the seated shadow. Now, the only clue was this woman. He had to escape before the black shadow moved, or else. Jiang Ziya had no doubt that he would instantly lose his life once it moved.
“It wasn’t me!” The woman’s speech was hurried and jumbled, like she was speaking to Jiang Ziya, but also like she was muttering to herself. “It wasn’t my fault in the first place. The chair from the storeroom was a monster and couldn’t be thrown away… No, no, no, he’s the monster! He hurt me. He hurt the two families below us. If I let him escape, everyone will die! Kill him. Kill him!”
Jiang Ziya froze, his memory suddenly coming back to him. The domestic abuse homicides at the apartment! He had come with Lu Yang to solve the case, but because Slay had suddenly flown away, they had rushed up to the fifth floor and run inside after discovering the door hadn’t been closed…
Where’s Lu Yang?
Jiang Ziya was shocked. He immediately lifted Slay up and said, “Slay, quickly fly to Lu Yang.”
—No, wait, is this sword really Slay? Jiang Ziya abruptly froze.
Slay was a spirit sword and didn’t allow anyone to hold it. Jiang Ziya had never successfully grabbed Slay’s hilt before, yet now the sword was being held obediently in his hand without moving or flying away. Something feels very wrong!
Jiang Ziya shivered and immediately tossed the sword away. Covering his right eye with one hand, he used his left to look at what had fallen on the floor… A kitchen knife?
He didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. As he had thought, Slay would never obediently stay in someone’s hand without moving at all. It was obviously a fake.
“Kill him!” The woman seemed to have mustered up the last of her courage, rushing over to pick up the kitchen knife.
Knife in hand, the woman rushed at the black shadow. She didn’t seem to dare to look at the shadow either, as her head was dipped low, but she was rushing forward at a startlingly fast pace.
Jiang Ziya was frozen. Before he could react and decide whether or not he should stop her, the woman had already reached the black shadow and stabbed toward where the shadow’s abdomen should be.
A “clang” resounded. A sword fell from midair, blocking the sharp blade the woman had stabbed with.
Jiang Ziya took a careful look. That ancient sword was Slay. This time, he was certain this was the real Slay. A clear hum resounded endlessly from the sword, clearing all the disturbing whispers to “kill” in his ears. The irritation ensnaring his heart ebbed away.
After blocking the attack, Slay spun in the air and swung downward again, slashing directly through the woman who shrieked inhumanly before weakly falling over, no longer making any noise.
Jiang Ziya was astonished. That was a real person. Can Slay dispatch people now too?
Slay stopped in front of the black shadow. Jiang Ziya tried his best to keep his eyes on the ancient sword, afraid to look at the black shadow too much. However, now that Slay had shown up, Jiang Ziya felt a lot bolder and was no longer as scared as before.
Slay emitted a humming sound, but it wasn’t a clear hum like earlier. Rather, it was an endless buzzing, and the sword sounded quite upset.
The ancient sword gingerly approached the black shadow. Jiang Ziya grew nervous from watching. Even Slay was being so careful. This black shadow must be really scary, right? He just didn’t know why the black shadow wasn’t moving at all.
The sword abruptly changed positions, flying down toward the black shadow hilt-first. Slay gently landed, positioning itself in… the shadow’s hand?
Hilt? Hand? Jiang Ziya’s eyes widened. Is Slay actually allowing the black shadow to hold it?
The instant they made contact, the black shadow suddenly gripped the sword, and all the black peeled off, revealing the real person beneath. The figure was so familiar…
“Lu Yang!” Jiang Ziya quickly ran over.
Slay flew away rapidly, circling the room.
Lu Yang’s head drooped powerlessly. He was wrapped up and tied to the chair with a lot of tape, and he couldn’t move at all.
Jiang Ziya lifted Lu Yang’s face. Both his eyes were tightly shut, and even his mouth had been taped up. Jiang Ziya quickly removed the tape and patted the other person’s face.
“Lu Yang, wake up! Are you okay? Hey, don’t scare me!”
Frantic, he checked to see if Lu Yang was breathing. Phew, he is!
After many more pats, Lu Yang finally furrowed his brows and opened his eyes, gazing at Jiang Ziya in a daze.
“Lu Yang, who am I?” Jiang Ziya asked sharply.
“Grand Duke Jiang who likes to fish.”
Only then did Jiang Ziya breathe a sigh of relief. With one thing happening after another, he felt like his heart couldn’t take much more. He bent at the waist to catch his breath before straightening back up to figure out how to free Lu Yang.
He asked in confusion, “Just what exactly happened? How did it suddenly turn into a whole different world the moment we came in?”
Lu Yang honestly answered, “I saw a mound of demonic energy in the middle of the room the moment we entered. Just as I was about to yell for Slay, I fainted.”
As Jiang Ziya removed the tape, he said, “You couldn’t even retaliate before they got you. It should be easy to narrow down the culprit if they’re that strong, right?”
After narrowing it down, they could leave it to Liu Yishi to investigate. Such a dad who doted on his son would definitely be happy to take care of someone who bullied him!
“Sure, we can narrow it down to a stun gun of over 400,000 volts.”
Ah, even the strongest Taoist can’t win against technology.
In the end, Jiang Ziya could only go pick up the kitchen knife to free Lu Yang from the tape. Along the way, he also checked that the woman was alive and hadn’t been killed. Slay still maintained its record of only killing spirits and not people.
Once freed, Lu Yang immediately left the chair and sat on the floor instead. “Devils must have been here before.”
“Devils?” Jiang Ziya was taken aback. “Not spirits?”
Lu Yang explained in simple terms, “You can think of devils as a different kind of spirit. Do you know about imps or fiends from movies?”
Jiang Ziya nodded. He didn’t watch a lot of movies, but he wasn’t so far removed from them that he didn’t know anything.
“Devils usually possess someone and torture them.” Lu Yang gestured at the wooden chair, which was a red so dark it was almost black. “A devil used to sit in this chair. Someone most likely strapped a person possessed by a devil to this chair to carry out an exorcism.”
Lu Yang never dealt with devils. Taiwan had very few of them. It was only in recent years that things resembling them had begun to appear. He really had to thank western horror films for their contribution. But at the very least, he had an exorcist father. Even if he hadn’t ever seen a pig, he’s eaten pork before. He could still tell that the energy here was different from yin energy. It was demonic energy, instead.
“The residual demonic energy caused this apartment to attract a lot more spirits than anywhere else. This devil must have been really powerful. I wonder who had the capability to restrain such a powerful devil?”
Western devils weren’t as numerous as eastern spirits, but they were a lot more difficult to handle. Demonic energy was a lot more chaotic than yin energy. Even if an exorcism succeeded, it would still take a lot of time for the aftereffects to stop affecting the people involved. On top of that, anyone who was directly possessed would have an even harder time returning to normal.
Residual demonic energy? Jiang Ziya felt that wasn’t right. The black shadow that had enveloped Lu Yang earlier didn’t feel like leftover energy at all. It had been terrifyingly scary. Even facing the vampire Xu Xikai in the library hadn’t left him paralyzed with despair.
Lu Yang took out his cell phone and said, “If it’s demonic energy, then it would be safer to have my dad come over and take care of things. We should have this chair taken directly back to Qing Wei Gong. That woman probably went crazy from the demonic energy—”
His cell phone rang before he could make the call. Lu Yang glanced down and saw it was an unknown number, but he still answered right away. He only used this number for work. He even had a different number listed for school, so he wouldn’t receive unimportant calls. Every call was urgent.
“Master Lu, save us!”
Lu Yang froze, recognizing the voice. “Manager Wang? Calm down. Tell me your situation.”
Manager Wang sounded like he was about to cry. “We’re stuck on the seventh floor of Top Star Hotel. We were planning to take the elevator down, but when the door opened, we weren’t in the hotel anymore. No matter how many flights we go down using the emergency s-stairs, we’re still on the seventh floor. We can’t leave at all!”
“Is Taoist Li Shan still there?”
“This is Taoist Li Shan’s cell phone. Mine couldn’t make any calls at all. He tossed his cell phone at me and told me to contact you. Then, he went to save his disciple and still hasn’t returned!”
“Stay calm.” From what had been shared with him, Lu Yang surmised that no one had died, or else Manager Wang would have made a big deal about it. Lu Yang carefully instructed him, “Have everyone stay together. If you’re not in danger, don’t leave your current spot. Even if there’s a commotion, just remember that monsters and demons can’t do anything to you when you have the advantage of numbers. I’ll do my best to hurry over.” After ending the call, Lu Yang only stood up halfway before wordlessly sitting down again.
Jiang Ziya worriedly advised, “Don’t overdo it. You were only just electrocuted.”
Lu Yang helplessly said, “I’ll call my dad first to have him come and take care of things here. Can you pick up the stun gun in the corner by the wall and bring it here? I want to see what exactly the voltage is. I feel so exhausted that it’s like I’ve run around solving cases for five days straight without sleeping.”
“You were completely wrapped up in demonic energy just now. Could that be the reason?” Jiang Ziya said as he went to pick up the stun gun.
“What?” Lu Yang’s eyes widened but the call connected just then, diverting his attention. “Dad, I found a chair connected to devils, and there’s also a woman who has gone crazy from demonic energy. Here’s the address. Come right away, but I might have to leave first. There’s another case somewhere else. That’s everyth—”
Before he could even say “bye,” Jiang Ziya snatched the cell phone away and stuffed the stun gun into Lu Yang’s hands.
Lu Yang reflexively looked down and blurted in disbelief, “100,000 volts? Impossible. I can’t be taken down by any less than 300,000 volts.”
Jiang Ziya could finally say what he’d been trying to say through the constant interruptions.
“You were completely wrapped up in demonic energy and turned into a black shadow. I couldn’t even move when I saw it. That can’t be residual demonic energy. If Slay hadn’t saved you, who knows what would have happened? That’s why you can’t have your dad come here alone!”
“Both of you, get out of there and wait for me outside!” growled Liu Yishi over the phone. His voice was crystal clear even though he wasn’t on speakerphone. “Don’t touch that chair!”
Lu Yang said, “But I still have another case to solve. A group of people got stuck in a hotel. They have a practitioner with them, but even he can’t resolve the matter. I can’t let them wait.”
“I’ll find someone else to go and solve that case. Darling, just stay where you are.”
Lu Yang immediately agreed. Come on, given the choice, he wouldn’t want to force himself to catch ghosts after getting electrocuted. He really wasn’t that industrious; he was just forced to be.
Jiang Ziya helped Lu Yang to the stairway and had him sit against the wall. Afterward, he dragged the woman over too. Even though she was completely crazy, she was still a living being. He couldn’t leave her by such a frightening chair.
“This is the survivor of the first domestic abuse case…”
Lu Yang asked, “What exactly happened after I fainted?”
Jiang Ziya told him everything he had just experienced in detail.
“Wait, you said I grabbed Slay?”
Lu Yang immediately looked at the ancient sword flying beside him, finding it difficult to believe. Even though he had been prepared for it, he was still nervous now that this day had really arrived.
“Yeah, but it was when you were a black shadow. Slay flew away the moment you were freed.”
Lu Yang thought about it and extended his hand toward the ancient sword. He called out, “Slay, come to my hand.”
The ancient sword mercilessly flew to the ceiling, staying very far away from Lu Yang.
Jiang Ziya laughed loudly.
Lu Yang awkwardly took his hand back and muttered, “You must have seen wrong. Slay probably only touched me and knocked the demonic energy away!”
Jiang Ziya complained, “So Slay deliberately turned around to use its hilt to knock the demonic energy away? Is this a new pose for slaying?”
“Maybe Slay actually wanted to test that new slaying pose out!”
Lu Yang glanced at Slay’s hilt, his hand itching. If he sneakily grabbed the hilt while Slay wasn’t paying attention, would he be able to successfully hold his own sword?
Then, he successfully… got clobbered on the head by the sword’s hilt several dozen times.
He really couldn’t think of anything sneaky in secret, not with their connected hearts.