Illusions, Lies, Truth Volume 5: The Fallen, Jiu Ge, Part One
Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 3: Inheritance, Part 2—Si Ming—translated by lucathia (proofread by Minthe)
Before the alarm clock went off, Fu Jun already gave a big yawn and crawled up. As usual, he turned off the alarm and obediently got up to freshen up. Something like lazing around in bed didn’t exist in his vocabulary.
Fu Jun walked into the kitchen that was also the dining room. As usual, there was someone there making breakfast.
That person paused and turned slightly to give a nod before continuing to poach eggs.
Fu Jun opened the refrigerator and took out the milk while saying, “I want two slices of cheese between my toast!”
That person nodded.
“I don’t know where Taiyi went again. He didn’t come home to sleep.” As Fu Jun poured the milk, he complained, “Who knows how long he’ll disappear for this time? Do you know he actually took two changes of clothes with him? Before when he sneakily took the plane out of the country, he didn’t bring more than two changes of clothes with him.”
Fu Jun sat at the dining table, drinking milk unhappily. When they had first met, Fu Taiyi kept saying that he would be an exemplary dad, but in the end, he was never present.
A pair of hands brought over a plate which contained toast with a poached egg, ham, and two slices of cheese. Salad and small tomatoes had also been included. It looked very appetizing, but no matter how delicious the food, it could not squash down the fear that pair of hands induced. The hands were completely wrapped up in bandages. Even the fingers had been wrapped up carefully, revealing no skin at all. Densely packed, black seal script crawled over the pure white bandages, a dizzying sight.
After placing the plate down, the bandaged hand dropped on top of the boy’s head and rubbed it.
“I’m glad you’re here, or else I’d be all alone,” Fu Jun said dejectedly.
The ding of a text message came from his cell phone.
Master of Fate: Fu Taiyi only dares to leave because I’m here.
Fu Jun didn’t have nearly as much confidence about that. He muttered, “Who says? Finding the others is much more important than me.” He indignantly took a huge bite out of the toast.
Master of Fate: If I weren’t here, he would have taken you along with him on his search. But with me here, you can attend school.
Seeing this explanation, Fu Jun felt his mood lift a bit.
At this time, the bandaged person also picked up a spoon and began eating. His food wasn’t delicious toast with poached egg. Instead, it was it was a grayish, paste-like substance and didn’t look the least bit appetizing.
“Does it hurt today?”
Every day, Fu Jun watched him eat. Every time, he felt sad for him. Paste-like food. Persistent, endless pain. He couldn’t imagine how Si Ming had endured all these years.
Master of Fate: Not too much.
So it still hurts? Fu Jun worried. All of a sudden, he felt he had been unreasonable. If Fu Taiyi could gather all of Jiu Ge and complete the inheritance quicker, then Si Ming might not have to be in pain anymore.
At least, that was what Fu Taiyi claimed. Fu Jun hoped it was true. He didn’t care too much about Jiu Ge’s completion, but Si Ming’s condition was truly too heartbreaking.
His head was rubbed again. Fu Jun lowered his head. He didn’t want the other person to see his distressed expression.
“I’m off to school.”
Fu Jun went downstairs. Jiu Ge Bookstore was below them. Jiang Ziya had told him that he might not be able to come over today. Fu Taiyi wasn’t around either, so there was no one to open the store. They could only stay closed and not do business.
No, it wasn’t like there was no one around at all. Si Ming was clearly here!
Fu Jun turned his head. Si Ming waved farewell. He was completely wrapped in bandages from head to toe. The only areas that could be seen were the eyes and lips. The skin around his eyes were maroon and uneven with wrinkles. The lips were even black and chapped.
Despite his frightening appearance, that pair of eyes was still gentle and even carried a trace of laughter.
Si Ming was definitely someone well suited for a bookstore.
Fu Jun had always thought so.
After Fu Jun left for school, Si Ming turned on the radio. He sat alone at the counter. As the host gave a warm “good morning,” he flipped through the book that Taiyi had left him. To his surprise, the vampire in the book had gained a new power—mind reading.
No wonder he was his favorite character. He had even gained a similar ability to him.
Si Ming was somewhat elated as he continued to turn the pages, but he suddenly stilled.
God of the Eastern Sky: Si Ming, was Xiao Dong very angry?
Si Ming thought back to the morning. At first, Fu Jun had complained endlessly, but then he recovered his calm and eventually left for school like a good kid. This was the same routine as usual. This time had been no different.
Master of Fate: Normal anger.
God of the Eastern Sky: I see. Help me coax him. I feel a slight presence. This time, I may truly have the chance to find someone, but it’ll take time for me to return.
Master of Fate: He already knows since you took two changes of clothes with you! (mysteriously smiling face)
God of the Eastern Sky: … I’ll try my best to return sooner.
Master of Fate: No hurry, search carefully. The little Lord of the East will understand.
God of the Eastern Sky: Sigh, then why is it that I always have to see my son’s resentful face every time I return?
Master of Fate: He’ll understand, as long as it’s not too late to save another companion again.
It took a long time before the God of the Eastern Sky responded with: Never!
Seeing that word, Si Ming felt frustrated with himself. Taiyi didn’t need anyone to remind him of that. There was no need for Si Ming to bring up what had happened in the past. What difference was there between this and stabbing Taiyi in the chest with a knife?
Si Ming would always remember what had happened back then. Fu Taiyi had insisted on having Si Ming come with him to welcome their new companion. Fu Taiyi had been elated. After searching for so long, he had finally received clues about a new companion.
Si Ming had not wanted to go at first, afraid that his appearance would scare their new companion.
“Why would your appearance scare anyone? Who doesn’t know that Si Ming is as gentle as jade? You are able to appease the fear in the deceased. Only when you are faced with a wicked soul do you respond with similar wickedness.”
Si Ming could only smile bitterly. With his body destroyed by Zhurong, how could he be as gentle as jade? However, he couldn’t win against Taiyi’s determination, so he could only promise to go with him.
In the end, they were late by a hair. In the end, they were only able to meet Dong Jun, who had breathed his last breath with blood splattered across the floor. But despite nearly losing all the blood in his body, he was still tightly hugging his younger brother, his back like a shield, safely protecting the younger from all harm.
Recalling the sight from back then, Si Ming abruptly felt pain seize his heart. He nearly couldn’t breathe.
Finally recovering his breath, he lifted his head only to see someone standing by the entrance of the bookstore. Si Ming had been in too much pain. He hadn’t heard anyone enter, but it was fine. Even if they were a thief, they would flee out of fright due to his devilish appearance—Jiang Ziya?
Si Ming froze but felt helpless. Didn’t he say he wasn’t coming over?
Seeing Jiang Ziya’s wide eyes and frozen body, Si Ming was truly afraid that he had scared Jiang Ziya out of his wits.
The notification for a text message went off, but Jiang Ziya didn’t look at his cell phone. Si Ming felt helpless. He could only lift the cell phone by him and shake it.
Jiang Ziya’s complexion was strange but he still looked at his own cell phone.
Master of Fate: I’m the one before you.
Jiang Ziya stared at the cell phone and then lifted his head to look at the person behind the counter. He had a hundred questions waiting for answers, but the first one he asked was, “Why did you send a text message when you’re so close? Can’t you talk?”
Master of Fate: I can’t.
Jiang Ziya immediately felt awkward. He apologized, “S-Sorry, I didn’t know. You don’t look like you can’t talk.”
I don’t? Si Ming felt strange.
Master of Fate: What do I look like in your eyes?
Jiang Ziya seriously took a look and described, “You kind of resemble the boss. I can tell that the style of the outfit is from the same era as the boss’s long black robes with gold trim. But yours is gray with silver trim. You’re wearing a silver hair crown but don’t have your hair tied into a bun like the boss. Your hair is down in a stylish way. Oh right, your mask is half shaded, half bright. Quite unique. Can you remove it?”
Si Ming touched his face. He didn’t have a mask, only thick layers of bandages. Every two weeks, Taiyi had to wrap new talismans around him, or else the pain would be too much to bear. In the end, the pain would be enough to do him in.
Si Ming: I don’t think so?
Why is it a question? Even though Jiang Ziya was curious about Si Ming’s appearance—he looked like a handsome, refined guy who might not lose to Yu Shu’s two sons under the mask—it was fine if he didn’t want to take the mask off.
“Why did you suddenly take on your original appearance while sitting here reading?”
The book isn’t even some ancient text but Yu Shu’s book, one that has a handsome vampire on the cover. When Si Ming had shaken the cell phone at him earlier, the sight had been incongruous enough to pierce the heavens!
My original appearance, huh? Si Ming felt conflicted.
Master of Fate: When the bookstore isn’t open, I come downstairs to read.
Jiang Ziya felt a bit sorry. Si Ming had tried so hard to avoid him, yet Jiang Ziya had to come over and scare himself. Who was to blame but himself?
“Are you unable to do what the boss does and take on a modern person’s appearance on a day to day basis?”
Are you under some misunderstanding? Si Ming didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. He didn’t have to transform to be a genuine modern person.
Jiang Ziya didn’t receive a text message after waiting for a long while and assumed the other person wasn’t willing to answer. He could only change the topic. “Then, should I open the store now? Or should I come back in the afternoon? Will the boss be back?”
It had been a long time since Si Ming interacted with anyone so casually. Not only was the other person unafraid, he wasn’t distressed either. He was just a bit startled. The truth-seeing eye truly sees a different world. Si Ming pondered for a moment.
Master of Fate: Taiyi has traveled far away. He won’t be back within a few days. Why don’t you read with me for now? I can make lunch for you later. You can open the store after lunch?
Jiang Ziya was startled by the pampering. Someone whose temperament and attire was like a god’s had just said he would make lunch for him! He didn’t feel he could repay that. He could only ask, “Do you like Yu Shu’s books? She lives across from me. Do you want me to get you an autograph?”
Master of Fate: !
Master of Fate: Yes!
Jiang Ziya sat down with a clear conscience. As for whether or not he would owe Yu Shu a favor for that autograph, it made no difference anymore. In any case, he wouldn’t be able to repay everything he owed her.
Jiang Ziya didn’t feel like reading at all at the moment. He just wanted to chat to see if he could find out more of Jiu Ge’s secrets and understand his own boss more.
As he tried to think of a topic, he lowered his head and saw Si Ming’s hand on Yu Shu’s book. Truthfully speaking, this kind of fair hand that appeared airbrushed, paired with gorgeous, antique sleeves, needed matching bamboo strips. Something like a manga-styled cover with a handsome vampire on it really did not fit him.
But fortunately it wasn’t bamboo strips. Jiang Ziya thought of a way to start the conversation.
“Did you see the new ability the vampire in the book got?”
Master of Fate: Yes, mind reading.
“I wonder if my neighbor Mr. House Keeper will also gain this ability?”
Si Ming was at a loss for words.
Master of Fate: Are you afraid he will read your mind? Mind reading isn’t such an easy ability to use. Even if he has it, he will only be able to use it from time to time.
Jiang Ziya shook his head and said, “You don’t know House Keeper. Even though he is kind and always full of smiles, he knows everything. Really, I feel that Hold Keeper isn’t even as scary as him. There’s no difference if he can read minds or not!”
Si Ming’s eyes were full of amusement.
“He actually made me a cup of coffee this morning! Before, House Keeper always gives me milk tea, but when I walked in through the door today, he didn’t say anything and just gave me coffee. He actually knew that I didn’t sleep all night!”
Jiang Ziya pointed at his own face and asked doubtfully, “I don’t look like I’m sleepy, do I?”
Master of Fate: No, are you unable to sleep?
Jiang Ziya rubbed his neck uncomfortably but only touched the collar of his dress shirt. He had to button it all the way up to conceal things. He was dying in the heat and was still worried about what kind of excuse he should come up with in order to avoid Lu Yang for the next several days. If Lu Yang were to see the mark, Jiang Ziya wouldn’t have any way of explaining.
After getting scared awake by Jiang Jiang, Jiang Ziya had lain on the bed tossing and turning, unable to fall asleep. He finally made it to the morning and quickly ate breakfast before saying he had something he needed to do and left. He actually went to Yu Shu’s, as she was the only one left who knew he had a “truth” at home.
In the end, however, he did not meet Yu Shu. It was impossible for her to be awake so early. House Keeper told him that she might be even scarier than a “truth” if she didn’t get enough sleep, so he didn’t recommend waking her up.
What else could Jiang Ziya do? He might as well come open the bookstore, where he accidentally ran into Si Ming.
What an awesome surprise! Jiang Ziya felt that the boss appeared imposing when he wore ancient garb and didn’t dare to randomly converse with him, but Si Ming’s temperament seemed gentle and he wasn’t imposing.
“I went to solve a case with Lu Yang and stayed up too late, so I couldn’t fall asleep.”
Jiang Ziya felt a bit guilty lying to such a gentle person like Si Ming. He was even trying to get information out of him. But no matter how guilty he felt, he had too many doubts he wanted answers for.
“When the boss ran off, he told me a lot about Jiu Ge. Why was he suddenly willing to tell me?”
Master of Fate: He is anxious with his search. Besides, you have learned a lot lately, so there is no need to be concerned that telling you about it would endanger you.
Master of Fate: If there is anything you wish to know, you can ask directly. I will tell you everything you’re allowed to know.
Jiang Ziya hesitated for a moment before asking, “Do you know my parents?”
Master of Fate: No. I can’t interact with anyone with an appearance like mine.
“You’re right. They’d be able to tell that you’re a deity right off the bat. You might get captured and sliced up.”
Si Ming smiled wordlessly.
Master of Fate: As for your father and mother, Taiyi doesn’t know a lot either. He takes care of you just like how he takes care of Fu Jun. After getting entrusted by someone else, he will put his all into his care. Jiu Ge owes your parents a great debt.
Wait a moment, Jiang Ziya had just learned something he didn’t know before. Fu Taiyi and Fu Jun aren’t blood related father and son?!
Jiang Ziya didn’t go further down this rabbit hole. He didn’t have any plans of getting into the boss and Fu Jun’s private lives. He just wanted to know where his father had gone and learn more about the innerworld so that he wouldn’t drag Lu Yang down when they went to solve cases.
“Did my dad leave behind a way to contact him with you guys?”
Master of Fate: Taiyi says not to look for him.
Everyone around him says not to look for him. It wasn’t like Jiang Ziya had to do the opposite, but he really didn’t know what to do about Jiang Jiang and Jiang Xue without knowing what the truth was behind them.
He could discuss Xiao Xue with Lu Yang. At the very most, if Xiao Xue couldn’t become a “truth” in the future, she’d just have to pretend to be sick and stay home without attending school. All they had to do was keep Jiang Yu in the dark. However, Jiang Jiang was a secret that only the neighbor knew.
Jiang Ziya rubbed his neck. He had originally thought that there was nothing wrong with Jiang Jiang anymore. As time passed, she would be his sister’s daughter. She couldn’t be any more real! However, last night…
His cell phone suddenly rang. Jiang Ziya, who had been deep in thought, jumped in shock. He looked and saw the caller was Lu Yang. His scalp was tingling, but he could only accept the call.
“Are you awake?” Lu Yang’s voice was a bit nasally. He sounded like he had just woken up.
“I’m up.” Jiang Ziya’s head was full of thoughts about how to keep Lu Yang in the dark.
“You didn’t have a nightmare, did you? Come pray at Qing Wei Gong later. The cases have been too ridiculous lately. Come and pray to Laojun to give us simpler, more relaxing cases.”
Jiang Ziya said with a stiff voice, “Maybe some other day. I slept too late yesterday. My head hurts a lot today.”
“Did you get sick?”
“Nah, just not used to sleeping so late. Today, uh, in these next few days, I might need to stay home and rest. I won’t be able to go with you.”
After saying that, Jiang Ziya felt that he was being way too suspicious! There was no way Lu Yang would believe him!
The other side of the cell phone was silent for a long time. Lu Yang then said, “Okay, I planned on taking only simple cases for the next few days anyway. Rest well.”
After the call ended, Jiang Ziya was a bit flabbergasted. He believed me so easily?
He thought about it and still apologized to Si Ming. He wouldn’t be able to stay and open the store. He wouldn’t be able to come for the next few days either.
Jiang Ziya didn’t want Lu Yang to suddenly walk in and run into him while he was looking after the store. It was sure to be a bloodbath!
He could only hope now that the handprint on his neck would quickly fade away. He had the frustrating urge to run home and choke Jiang Jiang while shouting, “Why couldn’t you have choked me in a place I can hide with a t-shirt? Why not?!”