Illusions, Lies, Truth Volume 1: Human Doll Contract Part One
Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 1: Xiao Xue Part 2—Yu Shu—translated by Raylight
Immediately after the butler left, the woman sat down. She seemed to have no inhibitions at all as she stretched out both legs on the sofa, acting as though there was no one in front of her. Then, she gave a self-introduction. “I am Yu Shu, a novelist.”
“Yu Shu? I haven’t heard that name before.”
“…The door is behind you, on your left.”
Jiang Ziya immediately corrected himself, “Yes, yes! I seem to have caught a glimpse of your books in the book store before. You wrote that, that… Harry Potter!”
Yu Shu bitterly growled, “That was written by J.K. Rowling! If I had written such a book, do you think that I would still be living across from your apartment? At the very least, I would be living in Dibao1—Okay, enough about me. Name yourself! Having to say ‘you, you, you’ constantly is really inconvenient!”
Jiang Ziya nodded his head, and then the words came out of his mouth. “My name is Jiang Ziya.”
“…The door is behind you, on your left.”
Seeing Yu Shu look at him as though she was looking at a madman, Jiang Ziya felt entirely speechless.
What was most detestable was that even he himself would admit that if someone introduced themselves as Sun Wukong,2 he would also tell the other person to turn around and exit through the door on the left. The name Jiang Ziya was not any better.
In a situation like this, the simplest and most clear-cut method of solving this would be—presenting his identification card.
Yu Shu took the ID card and looked. The name printed on it truly was “Jiang Ziya.”
She scratched her face and returned his ID card, saying, “So your name really is Jiang Ziya… The world is full of extraordinary things. Sorry about that!”
Jiang Ziya nodded his head expressionlessly, and then pocketed his ID card.
“So… Grand Duke Jiang, what brings you to my home?”
“What an outdated gag!” Jiang Ziya immediately growled, “I just knew that you were going to call me that! Ever since I was a kid, people have always been calling me Grand Duke Jiang! Hmph. Aren’t you an author? How can you actually be this uncreative and even dare use such an old joke!”
“I am the queen of old gags! So what?” Yu Shu didn’t seem to mind in the slightest as she said, “I even opened a nursing home for elderly gags! I can’t do that? Grand Duke Jiaaaaang, if you have the guts, bite me!”
Jiang Ziya gritted his teeth in hatred, feeling his teeth itch in response. But he couldn’t possibly get up and actually bite her! Especially since this person even had a butler that he was still uncertain as to whether it was a human, a ghost, or a doll!
However, the way Yu Shu kept laughing nonstop really pissed him off…
“Making fun of other people’s names is not right! Didn’t your parents teach you that? Don’t think that just because you have a normal name, you can discriminate against those with uncommon names!”
“I’m not discriminating against other people. I’m only discriminating against you!”
At this point, the butler came out with the drinks.
He smiled gently at Jiang Ziya, saying, “There is no cola in the apartment, so I have made milk tea with black tea and milk instead, then added ice cubes to it. Would that be to your liking?”
Hearing the butler’s words, Jiang Ziya was a little touched. He quickly took the milk tea and gave his thanks. Once he drank a mouthful of the milk tea, his eyes immediately doubled in size. Thick, fragrant, and rich… This milk tea was so good it rendered him speechless! Who knew how many times better it was than the ones from drink stalls outside?!
He couldn’t resist finishing it in one go.
“Would you like another one?” The butler asked with a gentle smile on his face.
Jiang Ziya nodded his head vigorously.
As the butler poured him more milk tea, Jiang Ziya secretly observed him.
Although this butler’s true identity was that of a doll, he didn’t look frightening at all. He was so handsome that there wasn’t anything to criticize, and he was extremely gentle. He always had a smile on his face, and most importantly, he brewed really good milk tea!
“Why do you keep staring at my butler?” Yu Shu coldly said, “Even if you have fallen in love with him, I won’t hand him over to you. Dream on!”
Jiang Ziya promptly turned around and roared, “Like hell I fell in love with him! If he were female, I might have considered it!”
“You don’t think he’s scary anymore?” Yu Shu drank her coffee, and said in a relaxed tone, “You seem to be able to accept stuff pretty easily.”
Jiang Ziya grumbled, “I have seen a whole lot of strange things since I was young. I wouldn’t have been able to cope if I wasn’t this flexible, right?”
Yu Shu nodded, saying, “This is called adapting.”
“We don’t have time to be drinking milk tea!” Jiang Ziya had finished the milk tea he held once again, and then had abruptly remembered that he had not come here to drink tea. He jumped up and roared, “My family’s Jiang Jiang…”
“Jiang Jiang isn’t part of your family.”
“Nonsense!” Jiang Ziya immediately yelled, “I still remember what she looked like when she was born. How is it possible that she isn’t part of my family! Don’t speak such nonsense. Hurry up and return her to me!”
Faced with the enraged Jiang Ziya, Yu Shu continued to look nonchalant and even stretched. She then asked, “If so, do you remember what you were doing when you received the news that your sister was about to give birth?”
Jiang Ziya froze, and while trying hard to remember what he had been doing at the time, realized that he could not actually remember.
Jiang Jiang is three years old. If it was three years ago, he would have still been in high school. However, he didn’t seem to have any recollection that he had ever left class halfway or run straight to the hospital after class. Could it have been a holiday? Then he would have followed them to the hospital, but he didn’t remember doing that either…
“People’s memories are really amazing. Normally, one isn’t able to remember the details of most incidents, so instead one would naturally replace them with a ‘plausible scenario.’ Then, they act as though that is what had actually happened.
“People’s memories are as unreliable as they can get!”
Yu Shu gave a cold laugh and said, “You should remember something like your sister lying on the hospital bed, and then the nurse carrying over a wrinkled new-born child. After that, you cautiously took her from the nurse’s arms and cradled her… Some scene like that, right? Is there any difference between that and a scene from a television drama about a new-born child?”
After hearing her describe it, there really doesn’t seem to be any difference. Jiang Ziya frowned. But the memory did not feel like it was a fake. He had obviously really experienced it!
Yu Shu lazily said, “It seems that although your eyes can see the truth, your brain is still very ordinary.”
What is that supposed to mean!? Jiang Ziya unhappily asked, “Are you saying that I’m stupid?”
“No, an ordinary brain is the brain of an ordinary person. Don’t randomly misinterpret what I mean!” After Yu Shu scolded him, she continued explaining, “Because you have the truth-seeing eye, but only an ordinary brain, you did not suspect Jiang Jiang, who had already become real. However, Xiao Xue, whose form is still that of a doll, could not deceive your eyes.”
“Become real?” Jiang Ziya asked, blanking out.
“Calling their name once would wish them into illusion, calling them twice would change them into lies, and calling their name thrice would make them come true.”
Jiang Ziya turned around to look at the butler. The latter still had a faint smile on his face. However, what the butler had just recited made him feel thoroughly confused. He didn’t comprehend its supposed meaning.
The butler smiled at him, saying, “I am an ‘illusion’ who has had my name called once by my mistress. Please pay attention to me for a moment.”
Hearing that, Jiang Ziya instantly stared at him with wide eyes.
The butler performed a very strange motion and gradually “drifted” to one side. In his original position, there appeared a male doll around seventy centimeters tall. Its appearance and clothes were almost exactly the same as the butler’s. When the butler stood beside the doll, the two didn’t look any different at all… Other than the fact that there was nothing below his thighs.
Jiang Ziya’s eyes grew even wider than before.
The butler explained patiently, “I am currently residing in that doll. For a short period of time, I can make myself look like a human. Only then can I help my mistress take out the trash.”
“So… you are a ghost?” Jiang Ziya relaxed a bit—no wait! A ghost isn’t any better than a doll!
“Of course not!” Yu Shu said unhappily, “Simply put, he is someone that I imagined and created. Do you understand now? Your family’s Jiang Jiang must also be the product of someone’s imagination!”
How can something imagined possibly appear in real life… Jiang Ziya felt like his brain had been scrambled up, and could only ask, “Then what about Xiao Xue?”
Yu Shu seemed deep in thought as she said, “Xiao Xue’s situation is a little weirder. Do you remember anything involving dolls?”
Jiang Ziya unhappily replied, “How would I know… Wait!”
He stopped, abruptly remembering that his sister Jiang Yu had a doll. It was… a past birthday present that their father had bought for her!
That doll looked like… a little girl with white hair and blue eyes!
Jiang Ziya screamed. “So Xiao Xue is really a ghost doll?”
“That’s not it!” Yu Shu roared angrily, “I already told you this has nothing to do with ghosts! My butler is not some ghost that appeared after some guy died! Forget it. I’m too lazy to explain it to you. Your brain is really too ordinary and is much worse than your eyes.”
Right now, this “ordinary” is definitely insinuating that I’m stupid! Jiang Ziya felt very aggrieved.
“So are you going to return Jiang Jiang or not?” He shouted, “Jiang Jiang has gone missing! How am I supposed to explain this to my sister and my brother-in-law?!”
“That’s weird. Don’t tell me that your Jiang Jiang will walk away by herself?” Yu Shu found it funny as she said, “I’m afraid it’ll be much harder than that to get her to leave!”
Hearing that, Jiang Ziya began to realize that things were not looking good. If Jiang Jiang really wasn’t a real girl, then it probably wasn’t a good idea to keep her at their place.
After considering this, he lowered his head and tried his best to lower his voice. He pleaded, “At least help us remember that our family doesn’t have those two girls. Please, considering how we are at the very least neighbors, you wouldn’t want to live across from two ghost dolls either, right?”
“… Did you forget I also have a ’ghost butler’ at my place?”
That’s right! Only at this point did Jiang Ziya remember that in Yu Shu’s house, there was already a ghost butler that could help brew tea and even take out the trash! So what if there were two ghost dolls living across from her?
Yu Shu observed Jiang Ziya’s panicked and stumped expression for a while, until she was certain which one of her books she would insert a description of this expression in. Only after that did she say, “At your place, there is definitely someone whose ‘calling ability’ is very strong. Especially since you have an ability called the ‘truth-seeing eye,’ there is a high possibility that the others may also exhibit strange abilities. Usually, these kinds of abilities are passed down through the family.”
“What exactly is the truth-seeing eye?”
Jiang Ziya had never met someone who could discuss this with him before. Even if they were his classmates who were rumored to have ghost-seeing eyes, he still could not discuss it with them. That was because his eyes were similar to ghost-seeing eyes, yet different at the same time.
Occasionally he would see things that looked like ghosts, but most of the time he did not see such ghostly things. Even if he found someone who claimed to have ghost-seeing eyes, the other party would still treat him as a mental case!
“Truth-seeing eyes are, are… This is really hard to explain. Sigh, in any case they are eyes that can see the truth!” Yu Shu finished her explanation, a little frustrated, and then asked in curiosity, “Speaking of which, what have you seen before?”
“Things like, like birds that sing the latest popular songs when they open their beaks, strange mucus slimes or half-transparent angels flying in the sky. I know it sounds really crazy, and I’ve often thought that they were hallucinations. The doctor said that I had mental trauma, which is why I can see these kinds of things…”
After he had summoned up his courage to finish his words, he waited in despair for Yu Shu’s laughter, or for her to look at him as though he was a madman.
In his opinion, the chances of her bursting into laughter should be higher.
After all, this woman kept a ghost butler in her house, so she was unqualified to call others crazy!
Unexpectedly, Yu Shu only raised an eyebrow. Then, she asked him something completely unrelated, “Have you ever told anyone else about the truth-seeing eye?”
Jiang Ziya was stunned for a moment and said, “I didn’t know this is called the truth-seeing eye, but about my eye, I did mention it a few times before when I was still in elementary school. However, I was reprimanded by both the teacher and my classmates for speaking nonsense and was brought to see an ophthalmologist, as well as a psychiatrist. Afterward, I never dared to talk about it again.”
“Very good.” Yu Shu nodded her head and warned, “If you want to continue living a normal life, it is best that you never admit to having the truth-seeing eye. More importantly, don’t tell anyone what kinds of things you can see with your eye, got it?”
Jiang Ziya froze and nodded his head. The truth was, he was already doing exactly that!
“Okay! Anyways, having the truth-seeing eye isn’t a big deal. Back to the topic of the little girl at your place! In conclusion, there is definitely someone in your family who has a strong calling ability. Making an illusion become ’truth’ is not something that you can easily do. There are quite a few people who can call illusions forth, but to call out lies is very difficult, let alone the truth! That really is just too powerful!”
Jiang Ziya looked stunned for a moment, but he quickly asked, “W-What happens if it becomes true?”
Yu Shu gave him a conflicted look and said, “If what became true is an ordinary little girl, then nothing should happen… Probably!”
Probably? Jiang Ziya absolutely refused to believe that nothing big would happen. Yu Shu’s expression clearly implied that there would be big trouble!
“Since the thing that has appeared is a ‘daughter,’ and moreover many of these sorts of abilities are inherited, I think the one with the calling ability is most likely your sister. Besides, a mother’s calling ability is usually stronger than the average person’s, especially when it comes to matters concerning their children.”
Hearing that, Jiang Ziya’s mind went blank. It had never once crossed his mind that his sister would also have a strange ability.
“Regarding Xiao Xue, this is still easy to settle. All you have to do is destroy the doll. As for Jiang Jiang, there really isn’t any way to deal with her since she has already come true. That is, unless you want to kill a person or abandon a little girl in cold blood.”
Jiang Ziya was greatly alarmed. “Then what should I do?”
“Don’t do anything!” Yu Shu shrugged as she said, “Anyways, as long as your family believes that Jiang Jiang is real, she will be real. As long as none of you suspect her, nothing will happen.”
“But if we suspect something?”
Yu Shu gave him a sideway glance, and patted his shoulder as she said, “Try your utmost best to stop your sister and your brother-in-law from suspecting anything!”
What is that supposed to mean?
Jiang Ziya’s eyes widened, but at this moment, the doorbell suddenly rang.
Startled, he turned his head and looked at the front door, fearing that the one pressing the doorbell was the doll, Xiao Xue.
The butler glanced at Yu Shu. After she gave a nod of her head, he went to open the door, a gentle smile on his face.
From the door, a familiar voice rang out. “Xiao Shu… Eh? Who are you? Xiao Shu! Is this your boyfriend?”
The one who poked her head in was an extremely excited Jiang Yu. However, at the sight of her, Yu Shu’s face immediately fell. She casually admitted, “Mmh, that’s right. Boyfriend and butler in the same package.”
“Aiyah! Your boyfriend is so handsome!” Jiang Yu held the butler’s hand tightly, and started introducing herself passionately, “Hi, hi, I’m Jiang Yu, and I live just across from here.”
Jiang Ziya gave Yu Shu a look of extreme suspicion. Whose boyfriend would wear a dress shirt, waistcoat with suit pants, and even sport a red bow tie while visiting their girlfriend? It’s not like he came here to propose!
Yu Shu gave him a deadly glare, mentally telling him to shut up.
Jiang Yu happily smiled as she said, “I’m really happy Xiao Shu has finally gotten a boyfriend! I was initially very worried that she never went out. Whatever would I do?! I didn’t think that she was secretly going out with such a handsome boyfriend! May I know how to address you, Mister?”
The butler continued to maintain a smile on his face, but he didn’t reply. Yu Shu quickly cut in. “He’s called House Keeper!”
“Eh?” Jiang Yu asked in astonishment, “House Keeper? As in the housekeepers that wealthy people have in their homes in television dramas?”
“Right! That housekeeper! His name is House and his surname is Keeper.” Yu Shu nodded her head with matchless seriousness.
… You could at least have named him properly!
Jiang Ziya felt extremely sorrowful for this butler named House Keeper.
This name felt even worse than his own.
After hearing her explanation, Jiang Yu didn’t seem to find it too weird. Then again, her own daughter’s name was Jiang Jiang!
“What a unique name! Mr. House Keeper, nice to meet you!”
The butler had a gentle smile on his face as he said, “This is the first time we have met. Nice to meet you. You are welcome to come in and take a seat.”
Hearing that, Jiang Yu smiled even more elatedly, and promptly said, “I won’t bother you and Xiao Shu anymore. I’m here to find that rascal from my place.”
After saying that, she turned around to look at Jiang Ziya. Her expression changed from one of happiness to one that could almost spit out fire.
She roared, “As expected, you were here! You actually dared to just abandon Jiang Jiang and Xiao Xue like that! They are still so young. What if something happened to them? Let me tell you, your brother-in-law is also furious. This time, he definitely won’t help you out!”
In the presence of his sister who looked like she would eat him alive, Jiang Ziya could only lower his head and admit his mistake. After all, to his sister, Xiao Xue and Jiang Jiang were neither things that had their names called and became true nor were they dolls, but rather a precious set of twin daughters!
“You’re still not coming home with me?! Don’t stay here and be a third wheel!”
Hearing that, Jiang Ziya could only stand up and follow his sister home. Before he left, he seized the moment when his sister turned around and was not looking at him to turn his head back. He shot a pleading look at Yu Shu.
However, Yu Shu only wordlessly mouthed, “Burn the doll.”
It sure is easy for you to say!
Jiang Ziya wanted to cry but no tears came out. He could only follow his sister home… Back to the home where there were two little girls.
2 “Sun Wukong”: Also known as the Monkey King, this character is the main character of the Chinese classical novel “Journey to the West.” In the novel, he is a monkey born from a stone and gets superpowers. He tries to rebel against heaven, but fails and is imprisoned under a mountain by Buddha. Afterward, he is freed by monk Xuan Zhang and accompanies him on his quest to retrieve Buddhist sutras from India. (Trivia: Son Goku is the Japanese name for this. We believe Dragonball fans and Saiyuki fans will know this well.)