Illusions, Lies, Truth Volume 1: Human Doll Contract Part One
Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 1: Xiao Xue Part 1—The Extra Girl – translated by Raylight
All along, Jiang Ziya had thought that the only abnormal person in the house was himself.
Hm… Perhaps there was also that father who had named his son Jiang Ziya1 who then, on a certain day, said that he was going to become an apprentice to a master to become immortal and had since vanished. However, they had always treated it as though no such person ever existed in their family.
However, right now, this current situation is…
His twin sister Jiang Yu2 was currently busy feeding wheat porridge to her two daughters. She fed them left and right and was truly very busy.
His brother-in-law Jiang Qibing3 was eating while he looked at the report in his hands. Occasionally, he would turn to talk to him and ask him questions such as how it was at school and whether his recent grades were good and the like.
It all looked very normal, and the atmosphere was rather harmonious and happy with everyone getting along with each other. Looking at this picture, it could be said that this was a warm family.
However, there was one thing that made Jiang Ziya suspect whether this happy family had gone insane, or if it was himself who had gone crazy?
Jiang Yu had undoubtedly given birth to only one daughter.
At least, when he had gone out to go to class in the morning, it had still been one daughter. However, when he returned home in the evening, he saw a pair of sisters.
Upon returning home and opening the door, he had stared blankly at the two children, and the two of them even said in great unison, “Yaya-gēge,4 you’re back!”
At the time, Jiang Yu had been in the kitchen busy cooking, as though it wasn’t odd at all that there was an extra child. When Jiang Qibing-jiěfu5 returned from work, he even asked one of the little girls whether she had helped mommy take care of her little sister.
Jiang Ziya then started to suspect that he had gone insane. He started trying hard to remember how many little girls there were in this family.
One of them was definitely a daughter of this family, for he was very certain that he had made a cup of milk for one of them to drink this very morning. Then, when she was burping, she had even vomited on him, forcing him take a shower and change his clothes, so that he wouldn’t have the smell of milk all over him. In the end, it resulted in him being late for class, causing the professor glare at him for an entire lesson.
However, the other was very foreign. With a pair of large, watery eyes that were blue, silvery white hair that was long and wavy, filled with a brilliant luster, and skin as white as snow, she was so cute that she would be loved by all. She was even more beautiful than the babies in television advertisements!
But is this a Taiwanese child?
No matter how you looked at her, she was like a foreigner! However, Jiang Yu and Jiang Qibing were definitely black-haired, black-eyed Taiwanese people who were born and bred in this very country. If they gave birth to a white-haired and blue-eyed kid, the first thing that they would do was probably a DNA test!
“Sis… Is this kid from next door?”
Even though there is only a strange woman next door. She seemed not to go outdoors at all, and he had never seen any visitors at her door. She was definitely a legendary female shut-in. Don’t talk about a child, the only human that would go to her door was probably the postman.
Once he said that, the entire family’s harmonious and happy aura suddenly disappeared.
Jiang Yu’s hand that was holding a spoon stopped in mid-air, and Jiang Qibing’s smile too froze on his face. The adults suddenly becoming still could still be considered normal, but the two children had also stopped at the same time. Their big eyes didn’t blink at all, expressions frozen on their faces. At this moment, the two of them looked like a set of dolls, cute and charming, but not alive.
Under this silence, they slightly tilted their heads to the side. Their motions were so identical that they seemed to be carbon copies. They appeared to be looking at him, yet they lacked focus in their eyes. It was as though two lifeless objects were staring at him.
A chill abruptly broke out on his back. Jiang Ziya was nearly about to jump up from his chair, but then, everyone continued moving as though nothing had happened. Jiang Yu even gave him a glare and unhappily said, “Stop joking around, don’t you usually like to rub Xiao Xue’s cheeks? Yet you’re actually saying that she is a different family’s child. Be careful, or else, she might cry for you to see!”
—What Xiao Xue?
He certainly liked to rub the cheeks of the other child, the normal Taiwanese one with black hair and black eyes! Her name was also not Xiao Xue6 but Jiang Jiang.
When they had first named her, this pair of husband and wife had been ridiculously happy, saying that the name used both of their surnames, and when you read it, the repetition makes it very cute and the like.7
There is no Xiao Xue at all!
However, just now, the two children’s motions had been exactly the same. It wasn’t just Xiao Xue who was strange. There also seemed to be something wrong with Jiang Jiang.
—That’s not possible! He undoubtedly remembered Jiang Jiang: the way she looked when she was born, how she grew up bit by bit…
At this moment, the white-haired, blue-eyed Xiao Xue stared at him with a pair of wide eyes in incomprehension. She shouted, “Yaya-gēge, what’s wrong?”
Simply too darn cute! Large eyes, soft cheeks, and a slightly pouting small mouth. They were both three-year-olds, but she was definitely ten times cuter than Jiang Jiang beside her!
However, Jiang Ziya didn’t have any urge to rub her hair or pinch her cheeks. That was because she was too beautiful. She looked like a model baby from a poster—no, even model babies were not this cute. Actually, she resembled a beautiful doll more, giving people a feeling that they should not carelessly touch her, in fear of destroying her perfection. Better yet, she should be shown inside a display window!
Jiang Ziya hesitated for a moment, but he still closed his right eye and used only his left eye to glance at Xiao Xue.
Since young, he had known that his left eye was a little strange… Don’t be mistaken, it’s not the ghost-seeing eye, though he too had wondered before whether he had the ghost-seeing eye. However, that didn’t seem to be the case. Though his left eye could certainly see some kinds of things, they were usually not ghosts… A large amount weren’t anyway.
His father and Jiang Yu had taken him to see a doctor, and the doctor had said that it was hallucinations. Then, he had asked him whether he had received any psychological trauma between the time he was a kid until now, but he had never received any such trauma, other than how his dad had named him Jiang Ziya, causing him to be called Grand Duke Jiang8 since young.
At the time, the doctor had resolutely and decisively said that this was the reason for the illness. The cause of the hallucinations was this psychological trauma. However, when he heard it, he only wanted to beat the doctor up so much that he would have psychological trauma!
He first snuck a peek and felt that something was off, but this one glance wasn’t enough to let him see what was so strange. Hence, he could only brush his hair a little to cover his right eye. Only after doing so did he shut his right eye, so as to avoid looking too strange with one eye open and the other closed, which would draw Jiang Yu and Jiang Qibing’s attention.
Through his left eye, Xiao Xue’s face was still unbearably cute: a pair of watery eyes that were large to the point of it being scary, long lashes, two deeply carved double eyelids, and soft, peach-colored lips. They were extremely small, smaller than most little girls’… That’s not a real human’s face.
Xiao Xue is a doll!
He wasn’t so silly as to jump up and start screaming. Since he was young, he had already been treated as a mental case several times by his classmates precisely because of that. At this kind of time, the best thing to do was to stop, don’t look, and don’t listen.
However, this time, it was a little different. This was his home! He couldn’t just watch as a doll became his niece, could he?
“Xiao Xue, after you have eaten your fill of dinner, Gēge will bring you to the park, okay?” Damn! Why did he feel like a strange uncle who kidnaps little children?
Jiang Jiang immediately protested, “Not fair, Jiang Jiang wants to go too!”
Jiang Ziya immediately submitted. Anybody who has taken care of children before would know that children were the fussiest. If one child had something and the other didn’t, the other one would definitely make a racket to the high heavens! It was also best not to waste your time reasoning with them because three-year-old kids would definitely not use logic with you!
He hurriedly said, “Okay, okay! You can go too.”
Jiang Qibing felt a little strange and asked, “The sky is already dark. Isn’t it a little late to go to the park?”
Jiang Ziya could only force himself to lie, “I heard that there is a mini night market there…” He leaned close to his brother-in-law’s ear and whispered, “If I bring them out to play, then Jiěfu, you can conveniently go out to watch a movie with Sis.”
Jiang Qibing’s gaze shifted, and he quickly replied in a small whisper, “Thanks!”
Jiang Ziya only smiled, not daring to say “You owe me one” or take advantage of the situation to say “Help me write my report” and the like as he usually did. After all, he had an ulterior motive and wasn’t actually trying to help him look after the kids.
“What are you two men whispering about?” Jiang Yu purposely pretended to be unhappy as she said, “Can’t females listen?” As she spoke, she even purposely pulled the two little girls to her side, and the three of them looked at Jiang Ziya and Jiang Qibing with three pairs of watery eyes.
Simply really cute… But Jiang Ziya had realized that Xiao Xue was a doll just now. Although Xiao Xue looked normal to him most of the time, she would frequently accidentally show the ball-joints of a doll. If he looked from the left side, he would even see a complete doll… Yet it was moving!
Tiny fingers clutched the fork, and rosy lips that shouldn’t be moving opened and closed. Her eyes that were so large that they were inhuman were blinking and blinking… He started to suspect that later on, would he really have the guts take her—No, take it out all by himself?
Although he had seen many mysterious and peculiar things since young, to go out holding hands with a doll which appeared out of nowhere… He really felt a shiver from the depths of his heart, all the way until goose bumps broke out on his skin.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t an option for him to change his mind. After they finished their dinner, the husband and wife left to watch a movie holding hands, so lovey-dovey that he almost had the impulse to punch his own sister and her husband.
The two of them had been glittering and so lovey-dovey that he couldn’t stand it, while they threw him a ghost doll to take care of. Is this right? Is this right?
Whether it was right or not, in the end, that glittery couple had not waited a moment longer to leave after finishing their dinner.
“Let’s go.” Jiang Ziya summoned up his courage.
Actually, he too wanted to bring the two children out as soon as possible. To stay alone in the same room with a doll that could walk and talk was simply too scary! He almost didn’t dare to look at Xiao Xue. If Jiang Jiang weren’t around, he would have bolted out of the door long ago!
Anyway, let’s hurry and go out! Looking at the time, the garbage truck should be here soon?
When he walked out of the front door, he still remembered to lock the door. Jiang Ziya had a new understanding of how calm he could be, and it wasn’t really good news.
“Let’s go! We’re going downstairs,” Jiang Ziya said without looking back and then proceeded to walk down the stairs.
“Where are you taking me?”
Jiang Ziya instantly stood still. Just now, Xiao Xue’s voice was simply not like a child’s manner of speech in the slightest bit. Most importantly, the light in the staircase had abruptly vanished. He could only see halfway down the flight of stairs, and further below, it was so dark that it looked like there weren’t any stairs there. It looked as if it was a black hole, and if one fell down it, it was highly possible that you would scream for a good three minutes before you hit the bottom.
Jiang Ziya looked at the black hole and fell silent for a long time. In the end, he admitted that he really didn’t have the courage to go down.
Suddenly, someone pulled the corner of his beach shorts. He was so frightened that he nearly fell down the stairs. By reflex, he turned his head back to look. The two little girls were each grabbing one corner of his shorts.
Currently, Xiao Xue looked completely like a doll. However, she and Jiang Jiang still had their hands linked. They no longer looked like a pair of sisters, but rather, a little girl with her doll.
Yet, the doll’s expressions were actually more animated than the little girl’s. Her eyes kept blinking, and the plastic eyeballs rotated flexibly. On the other hand, the little girl was as expressionless as a doll. Regardless, whether it was the expressionless little girl or the lively-looking doll—they are both equally damn scary!
Jiang Ziya became completely petrified. Going down was something he couldn’t do, but going home and staying at home by himself was also equally scary. Just as he was trapped without any way out of this dilemma, the neighbor’s door abruptly swung open. He had a feeling of being rescued, and he hurriedly turned his head over to look.
Though the strange woman who lives next-door is also weird, she is definitely a hundred times better than a living doll!
However, the person who came out was not a woman, but a man who was so good-looking that he looked like he had walked out from a magazine’s cover. His clothes also looked like clothes seen in magazines. He was wearing a white dress shirt, a black vest, and even a red bowtie. However, in his hands, he was carrying two rubbish bags that did not match the rest.
Jiang Ziya didn’t know what kind of wild impulse took over him, but he spontaneously covered his right eye and used only his left eye to look at him.
A male doll who was the same height as the rubbish bags was holding onto two rubbish bags… It was a little funny, but after feeling so, he felt panic kicking in. He was so panicked that he had difficulty breathing, and even his scalp had gone numb.
Had he gone crazy? Could it be that this world had actually started to replace humans with dolls since a long time ago?
Jiang Ziya put down his hand and tried hard to use only his right eye to look at that man, asking, “The w-woman next-door, is she there?”
The man revealed an extremely gentle smile, as he answered smilingly, “Mistress? Yes, she is in…” He suddenly gave a light gasp, for there was a familiar sound coming from downstairs. With an apologetic smile, he said, “The garbage truck is here. My apologies, I have to go bring out the trash first.”
After the man finished speaking, he instantly rushed downstairs in a hurry. Jiang Ziya didn’t dare stop him either. Although he really wanted to open his mouth to request that he help throw away the doll Xiao Xue too, since the other party was also a doll, he really didn’t dare ask!
After taking in a few deep breaths, Jiang Ziya turned around to look at Xiao Xue and Jiang Jiang. The doll appearance of Xiao Xue had vanished again, and the two little girls held each other’s hands as they both lifted their heads up to look at him. They looked just like a pair of sisters who got along very well.
Jiang Ziya gritted his teeth and then pulled back the corner of his shorts and pushed Xiao Xue aside. Picking up Jiang Jiang, he kicked open the door of his neighbor. After he dashed in, he even shut the door with all his strength and used his back to block the door. He hoped that the scene he had imagined with the doll knocking down the door wouldn’t really come true!
As he panted heavily in his anxiety, he saw a woman sitting in the living room. She was wearing a loose singlet and shorts, as well as black-rimmed glasses. In her hands was a cup of coffee and a catalog of who knows what. Then, she lifted her head to look, stunned, at the person who had suddenly intruded.
Jiang Ziya hurriedly covered his right eye and looked with his left eye… Thank heavens! She is human!
“You’re from next door?” The woman had obviously recognized him. Although they had not interacted, they did live next door to each other, after all, and would still see each other quite often. Most of the time, they would meet when they were taking out the trash.
“I-I… Anyways, let me hide here for a while!”
The woman tilted her head to look at Jiang Jiang and put down the coffee cup in her hand. Then, she took up a dagger that was on the coffee table at the side, before she said, “Not that I want to say this, but you really look like a strange uncle who is kidnapping a kid. Can I call the police?”
Where did the dagger come from?
Only now did Jiang Ziya manage to clearly see that that catalog was actually a weapons catalog. There were a bunch of handguns drawn on it. This place… F***!
There were two machetes displayed crisscross on the wall, and on top of the television cabinet, there was a katana. On the coffee table beside her, not only were there daggers on top of it, there was even a gun. He completely couldn’t tell whether that was a real gun or not, but anyway, it looked pretty real.
Who is this woman? A terrorist? Could it actually be safer to go out and stay with the doll Xiao Xue?
At that moment, the woman picked up the phone, looking as though she was really about to call the police.
“Don’t call the police!” Jiang Ziya immediately said, “I didn’t kidnap her! She is my sister’s child! She lives next door together with me!” When he finished speaking, he suddenly remembered something important and asked in a hurry, “R-Right, do you remember how many kids there are in my family?”
The woman shook her head, saying, “Kids? Don’t know.”
Jiang Ziya’s face looked defeated. At this moment, Jiang Jiang, who was in his embrace, squirmed a little, saying, “Yaya-gēge, Xiao Xue is outside. She says that she also wants to come in. Gēge, let Xiao Xue come in! Let Xiao Xue come in!”
When she was speaking, she even had an adorable smile on her face… This smile made Jiang Ziya feel that she looked more like a doll than a human. It really felt very strange. He couldn’t help but put Jiang Jiang on the ground.
At this point, the woman abruptly and coldly said, “I didn’t let you in, scram!”
Jiang Ziya was stunned for a moment, but an earth-shattering cry suddenly came from Jiang Jiang. It was so loud that his ears started to hurt, and his brain became blank. He could only hold his ears and try to endure that head-splitting pain. He held on with difficulty until the shriek vanished, and when he looked up…
Jiang Jiang is gone!
“Where’s Jiang Jiang?” Jiang Ziya completely couldn’t understand what was going on, but Jiang Jiang was his sister’s daughter! He roared, “What did you do to Jiang Jiang? Hurry and return her to me!”
He didn’t imagine that the woman would actually be even more enraged than he was as she shouted, “You barged into my place carrying that sort of thing, I still haven’t gotten even with you for that, yet you still dare to ask me for something first?”
“T-That sort of thing?” Jiang Ziya really became frantic. “She’s- She’s my sister’s child. That sort of thing is outside. Xiao Xue is the one who’s a doll…”
The woman tilted her head to one side, saying, “Your sister is the housewife next door right? When I was taking out the trash, I met her before. She said that she has a twin brother. If I see a boy with a blue patch in his left cornea, then that would be you.”
Jiang Ziya nodded his head. Not only did his left eye let him see strange stuff easily, but even its appearance was rather strange. On the upper-left corner of his black pupil, there was a tiny patch that had turned blue in color.
“She even said that she had gotten married a long time ago, and her partner was a high school teacher. At that time, matters had gotten out of hand, and her husband had even lost his teaching job because of it. After she graduated from high school, she got married to him. She really does love to talk. Not that I want to say this, but in that short time waiting for the garbage truck to come everyday, I’m already about to understand all eight generations of her ancestors!”
Errrr… It was true that his sister loved to chat. Jiang Ziya nodded his head
The woman tilted her head to one side, and with a shadow of a smile on her face, said, “However, I don’t remember that your family had children.”
Jiang Ziya froze.
“Children should be very noisy, right?” As if she was considering something, the woman said, “However, I have never heard any children’s voices coming from your place. I did, however, hear that she herself really likes kids. But after a check-up, they found out that her reproductive organs are very weak, and it’s very difficult to keep a child. She had a miscarriage once and was considering adoption. However, I don’t think you can adopt that kind of thing just now from an orphanage?”
At this moment, the front door swung opened. This made Jiang Ziya so frightened that he jumped, thinking that Xiao Xue had really knocked down the door and come in. He didn’t imagine that he would instead see the man he had seen just now… That man who is also a doll!
He opened his eyes wide. Though he wanted to escape, that man just happened to be blocking the only exit. There isn’t much point in retreating further inside the house, is there?
“H-H-He…. What exactly is he?”
The woman froze for a moment. She observed Jiang Ziya’s expression and answered as though she was deep in thought, “You really can tell the difference? How can this be? I thought that this butler’s disguise was already very perfect.”
Jiang Ziya was stunned for a while. At this time, that butler walked up to him with two more steps, frightening him so much that he dashed behind the woman’s back, screaming, “Don’t come over!”
The woman gave a sigh, and with a helpless tone, said, “Sit down. Do you want tea or coffee? I’ll make the butler leave the living room to prepare the drinks. That’ll be fine, right?”
“We don’t have that!”
1 “Jiang Ziya”: (姜子牙) It is actually the name of a famous Chinese military strategist. Which is, needless to say, a very odd name to name your child. It’s like naming your child Cao Cao/Zhuge Liang. For those who still don’t get it, it’s pretty much naming your child Sun Wu Kong /Monkey D. Luffy /Hitler or something.
2 “Jiang Yu”: (姜玉) Both of the twins use the surname “姜” (Jiang), which is a common surname and doesn’t really have much meaning to it. That means that her first name is only one character long, 玉 (Yu), which means jade.
3 “Jiang Qibing”: (江其兵) Jiang Yu’s husband uses the surname “江”, which is also Jiang, and means river. Their surnames sound exactly the same but are written with different characters.
4 “Yaya-gēge”: (牙牙哥哥) Yaya comes from duplicating the last character of Ziya’s name. It’s something that children tend to do, and it sounds cute. As for Gēge, it means brother in Chinese. Since this story is set in Taiwan, we will be keeping all Chinese names and Chinese honorifics.
5 “Jiěfu”: (姐夫) It is Chinese for “brother-in-law” and is used both as a title and an honorific.
6 “Xiao Xue”: (小雪) It’s very common for Chinese to attach a “Xiao,” which means Little, to girls’ names. So basically her name means Little Snow. (If you have read ½ Prince, remember Xiao Lan?)
7 “Jiang Jiang”: (江姜) Jiang Jiang’s name is formed using the surnames of her father and mother, 江 and 姜.
8 “Grand Duke Jiang”: (姜太公) It is one of the nicknames for Jiang Ziya. (the ancient militarist) It seems to be a pretty commonly known nickname too.