Illusions, Lies, Truth Volume 1: Human Doll Contract Part One
Original novel in Chinese by: 御我(Yu Wo)
Chapter 2: Jiang Jiang Part 2—Those Things that Cannot be Seen— translated by Raylight
“Jiang Jiang?” Jiang Ziya was shocked and jumped out of his seat. He looked around in all directions, but there was no trace of Jiang Jiang in his surroundings. There were only a few students currently staring at him with mystified looks, shocked by his actions.
“Ziya, what are you doing?” Lu Yang stood up too, a little worried about him.
Jiang Ziya returned to his senses, and he forced a smile as he said, “It’s nothing. I just thought that someone was calling me. It seems like it’s almost time for class. Let’s go! If I skip class again, the professor will probably flunk me for real.”
Lu Yang slowly got ready and said, “The professor wouldn’t bear to flunk you. He praised the English paper you submitted last time for an entire half a lesson!”
Jiang Ziya didn’t agree and said, “Nothing of the sort. Why would I not know about it?”
“That day, you skipped class to work part-time, so I was the one who helped you hand in your homework. So, after he spent half of the lesson praising you, he spent the other half scolding you.”
Lu Yang shook his head and said, “You’re really too much! If your sister and brother-in-law were to find out that you were skipping classes to work, it would be strange if they didn’t get angry! If it’s because you don’t want to ask them for money, I can lend some to you first. Then when we’re on summer vacation, you can pay me back after you work part-time. Will that work?”
Jiang Ziya kept silent, and Lu Yang knew that it was a lost cause. Jiang Ziya’s personality was actually very easygoing, but once it came to his principles, there was no negotiation!
Only if his family was urgently in need of money would there be the likelihood that Ziya would borrow money from him. Probably.
“Do you know the girl sitting there?” Jiang Ziya chose to avoid the topic and pointed at the girl who had bumped into him earlier. I think she’s called Lin Zhixiang?
Lu Yang raised an eyebrow and said, “Of course I don’t know her. Who do you think I am? Do you think if you were to point at a random person, I would know them? As if!”
“If you don’t know, then forget about it.” Anyway, he’d only wanted to change the subject.
“Forget about it? I can’t do that!” Lu Yang coldly snorted and said, “I’ll give you her info before school ends!”
Jiang Ziya rolled his eyes and said unhappily, “Why are you so persistent? I was just asking casually.”
“No way! It’s rare that you would actually ask about certain ‘female life forms,’ so I will definitely help you investigate!”
“You seem to be able to find out everything. If it weren’t for the fact that you are Taiwanese, I would almost think that your father is an American FBI agent!”
“… Did you forget that my father isn’t Taiwanese?”
“Oh yeah, you’re of mixed-blood! So, your father really is an American FBI agent?”
“Special agent, my ass!” Lu Yang rolled his eyes at him and said, “My father isn’t American. He’s Anglo-Australian! Also, he’s lived in Taiwan longer than you’ve been alive. Let me tell you, he might even be more like a true Taiwanese than you are!”
Jiang Ziya said casually, “Yes, yes. Anglo-Australian, we should go to class.”
Lu Yang angrily shouted in Taiwanese, “I am a true Taiwanese person!”
Jiang Ziya had to admit that Lu Yang spoke Taiwanese much better than he did, even though it didn’t match at all with his appearance of mixed descent. However, other than his looks, Lu Yang was indeed born and bred on this land. None of his actions were like a foreigner’s at all.
“Alright, true Taiwanese person. Now, let’s go to class–“
Before he could finish speaking, a small commotion occurred in the vicinity. Jiang Ziya turned to look and realized that the female classmate who had bumped into him earlier was sprawled on the table, motionless. The friend by her side was so frightened that she kept calling the unconscious girl’s name.
“Zhixiang! What happened to you? Why did you suddenly faint? Don’t scare me!” She shook Lin Zhixiang and was so anxious that she was about to burst into tears.
Jiang Ziya frowned and looked at their surroundings. Though everyone’s expressions were hesitant, no one stepped forward to help. He exchanged a look with Lu Yang and walked up to them.
“What’s wrong? Do you need some help?” Lu Yang started asking first, filled with concern for the two people.
The girl said in a panic, “Zhixiang, s-she suddenly just fell over.”
“Don’t worry, let me take a look.” Lu Yang went to skilfully touch the side of the unconscious girl’s neck. It looked like he was checking her pulse, which made Jiang Ziya ogle him briefly. He momentarily felt as though his friend truly might have something to do with an investigation bureau. This action was exactly the same as what was done in the TV series, CSI Crime Scene Investigation… However, the people CSI usually dealt with were all dead ones.
“Relax, she should be fine. Maybe she’s too tired. I’ll bring her to the infirmary!”
After saying that, Lu Yang gently adjusted the girl’s position a little. He then lifted her up in one go. He was as laidback as if he was carrying a pillow. All the surrounding people stared at him with disbelief in their eyes.
Jiang Ziya was the only one who was not surprised. Since high school, he had seen a lot of what Lu Yang was capable of and was already used to it. He would only be surprised if Lu Yang started flying one day!
Lu Yang called out to him, “Ziya, are you going to class by yourself first?”
After thinking about it, Jiang Ziya said, “I’ll just follow you.”
Normally, if he weren’t of any help to the situation, he really would go to class by himself. That way, he would avoid the chance that the professor might not make allowances for him and would count it as another skipped lesson. However, the person in question this time was just too special. The horrifying image from that morning was simply overwhelming. He was unable to just leave and pretend no such thing had happened. Even if he weren’t of any help, he still intended to follow and check out the situation.
Lu Yang was carrying her, and Jiang Ziya had nothing to do. He could only talk to the female classmate beside him to prevent her from being so nervous that she would become the second person to faint.
“I am Jiang Ziya. That’s right, it’s that Grand Duke Jiang who fishes. What’s your name?”
The girl laughed and said, “Li Yao, the Yao of Chiung Yao.1” After that, she added, “She is Lin Zhixiang. Which course are you two from?”
“Department of Foreign Language. You two?”
Both sides were a little speechless. Everyone knew that there was a pitiful amount of males in the Foreign Language department, and there weren’t many females in the Mathematics department either. However, they just happened to be guys from the Foreign Language department and girls from the Mathematics department, against all expectations.
Because neither party knew the other, after introductions, they could not think of anything to say. After a long period of silence, Li Yao then cautiously said, “That… Really, thank you two so much. Otherwise, I really wouldn’t know what to do. I don’t even know where the school infirmary is!”
“You don’t have to thank us.” Jiang Ziya pointed at Lu Yang walking up ahead, and said, “If you really want to thank someone, you should thank him instead. I’m not doing anything.”
Li Yao smiled broadly and said, “Aiyah, I’ll thank both of you!”
Jiang Ziya had a favorable impression of her. Only then did he really size her up. That Lin Zhixiang just now was wearing a blouse and jeans, and though she had beautiful facial features, her attire cost her several points. This Li Yao was a little better. She wore a short skirt and sandals and was probably wearing light make-up. Her complexion looked pretty good.
“I am Lu Yang.” From up front, Lu Yang introduced himself amiably as well.
“Lu Yang?” Li Yao exclaimed in surprise. She asked, “Could it be that you’re the famed department grass2 from the Foreign Language department, who is of mixed-blood?”
Coughing sounds came from the person in front.
“It’s true that he is of mixed-blood.” Jiang Ziya rolled his eyes at the back of his good friend and commented sarcastically, “However, in our department, across all four grades, there isn’t even a total of forty men. So, being the department grass of the Foreign Language department isn’t that difficult.”
“What did you say? “ Lu Yang didn’t even turn his head to look back as he said, “I’d be the department grass no matter where I went!”
“Yes, yes, you’re a grass anywhere.”
“Who’s grass, you’re grass—“3 Halfway through his words, he abruptly became conscious of the fact that there was a girl here, and his “You’re grass, I’m grass” simply did not sound too different from “I’m crass, you’re crass,” and he quickly swallowed his words.
Li Yao burst into laughter.
Seeing that she had laughed, Jiang Ziya felt a little more at ease and glanced at Lu Yang. He had walked such a long distance while carrying a girl in his arms, and at the same time he even chatted and cracked jokes. He still didn’t look the least bit exhausted.
Seeing that, Jiang Ziya gave up on his intention of asking Lu Yang if he wanted to switch. If he were to walk one corridor and have his strength give up on him, causing Lu Yang to have to carry the girl again, he would embarrass himself. Embarrassing himself would still be considered a small matter. However, moving around the unconscious girl and making her even more uncomfortable was a big issue.
Therefore, Jiang Ziya decided to continue his great cause of chatting. “Is your classmate in poor health? Does she faint like this often?”
Li Yao didn’t seem very certain as she replied, “Zhixiang’s personality is very quiet, and there doesn’t seem to be anyone in the department very close to her. Originally, we weren’t too close either. We only started working together recently to write our reports because we’re in the same group. I don’t know whether she used to faint regularly in the past. I hadn’t paid attention.”
She seemed a little embarrassed as she said, “If she were to just fall over like this in class, everyone might have thought that she had fallen asleep and not that she had fainted.”
Lu Yang nodded his head in understanding, “Forget class, even if Ziya was halfway through eating and suddenly just fell over, I would go and cover him with a blanket.”
“I think that you’re more likely to kick me–“
In the middle of his words, a sudden “pzzzz“ noise attracted the trio’s attention. They lifted their heads to check the origin of the sound. It was a wall lamp, and perhaps it was broken. It was currently flickering non-stop, unlit one moment and lit the next. However, because it was daytime and the light was positioned right next to the window, the flickering was not very obvious in the current bright sunlight. If it weren’t for the sudden sound, they probably would not have noticed that small wall lamp.
“Is the light broken?” Li Yao looked at that lamp a little doubtfully.
Lu Yang looked at the lamp, frowning. His expression seemed to have turned a little darker. However, when he turned to face the others, his expression was calm as he said, “It looks like it’s broken. When we go back, we should report this to the school. The sound we heard just now wasn’t quite right, and if the light bulb were to explode and hurt someone, that would be terrible. Ziya, help me remember this.”
Jiang Ziya agreed casually, but he didn’t remember what Lu Yang had said at all. He only noticed that the wall lamp’s flickering had become more obvious, unlike before when it was very difficult to notice due to the bright daylight.
His surroundings seemed to have suddenly turned much darker. However, what was strange was that the sun still continued to shine brightly outside the window. It seemed as though the sunlight could not shine into the corridor, but transparent glass should not be able to block out the sun.
Jiang Ziya looked at the scenes outside and inside the window. The two scenes were of completely different brightness.
“It’s so quiet. Has class started?” Li Yao asked in doubt. “I don’t think I heard the bell ring though?”
Jiang Ziya’s heart clenched. He was very certain that the bell had not rung. This was a lively university campus, and even until ten o’clock at night, there would still be club activities going on. Moreover, it was currently afternoon break time. It would be amazing if the noise didn’t shoot through the roof, so how could it possibly be silent?
Although the situation seemed a little strange, Jiang Ziya still wondered if he was being overly conscious about it. His left eye had always seen some strange and mysterious stuff. If he were to rate this on a scale of one to five stars, this kind of situation where it was only a little darker and quieter would at most rate only two stars, and even that was pushing it. However, this time it felt like something was a little different. He kept feeling that something was not quite right. So what exactly–
“Let’s go quickly.” Lu Yang abruptly opened his mouth to say, “My arms are tired.”
Jiang Ziya felt a little astonished, but he still volunteered. “Then, should I take over?”
Lu Yang shook his head, and his tone was little hasty as he said, “There’s no need. Let’s just hurry and go.”
Hearing this reply, Jiang Ziya felt that Lu Yang’s behavior today was really not quite right. He couldn’t help but furrow his brows and observe Lu Yang’s expression. Although Lu Yang had said that his arms were tired, judging from his expression, he didn’t seem in the least bit like he was pushing himself. He even turned back to peek at the window from time to time. Rather than his hands being tired, it seemed more like he was worried that a man-eating monster would jump through the window—could it be that Lu Yang could also see?
He just knew that there had to be something off about Lu Yang. How could a normal person accept his words about those kinds of things so easily? Since childhood until now, only Lu Yang was willing to believe him. He must also be able to see—
“Why is it a little dark? Is it because the light is broken?” Li Yao’s voice held traces of fear. Her intuition told her that something was wrong, but she could not tell the reason why. She merely felt that it was dark and cold, and a chill kept running down her spine.
Jiang Ziya frowned. Li Yao can see it too?
Looking at the window once again, he finally realized what was off about the situation. Because only his left eye was abnormal, when he saw peculiar things, his vision would always be a little blurry, and it was hard to gauge distance due to having his left and right eye perceiving different things. However, this time he was able to see it as clear as day. On top of that, both Lu Yang and Li Yao seemed to have seen it…. What kind of situation is this now?
“Let’s hurry!” Lu Yang anxiously urged. He turned to leave, but a quick look backwards told him that Jiang Ziya was still staring at the window blankly. “Ziya? Why aren’t you coming—?”
He abruptly stopped in the middle of his question because Jiang Ziya’s expression looked off. Remembering that left eye of his, no further words were needed. Ziya must have seen something!
At this moment, Jiang Ziya was currently staring with wide eyes at the shadow steadily covering the window. He wanted to follow Lu Yang’s advice to turn and immediately leave this strange place. However, his body felt as though it had entered an icehouse, and his legs were like two ice pillars frozen to the ground—they couldn’t move at all!
He could only look on as the darkness covered the entire window, and then a long tendril of shadow extended outward. Like a hand, it tried pressing against the glass window, as though it was testing the waters. Upon discovering that it could not go through, it still did not give up, but merely continued to use more strength. A faint crackling sound came from the glass, like it was under excessive pressure.
Not good! Jiang Ziya instantly shouted, “Get down!”
As he shouted, he pounced toward Li Yao, and without any hesitation, Lu Yang got down while hugging the girl in his arms. The four of them had not even touched the ground when the glass window exploded. The fragments flew in all directions, and as luck would have it, the notice board on the wall also had a glass frame. After the glass fragments hit it, it actually exploded into pieces too.
The sound of the explosion was mixed with screams from Li Yao. The three of them stuck closely to the wall. Their surroundings were a complete mess. Even the picture frame hanging on the wall had around ten sharp glass fragments sticking through it. It definitely wasn’t a simple matter of a window breaking. Saying that it exploded was more like it!
Glass shards were scattered all over the floor. Although the explosion had already ended, Jiang Ziya continued to hug Li Yao while keeping a tenacious grip on Lu Yang, not allowing him to get up. Lu Yang’s reaction was at first doubtful, but following that, his expression changed. He followed suit. Each of them hugged the girl in their arms tightly and kept their bodies pressed to the wall.
Above their heads, a black shadow crept through the window, and the shadow covered the four of them…
Jiang Ziya felt his whole body stiffen, and he could barely glance at Lu Yang through the corner of his eye. He did not have to ask. Just by looking at Lu Yang’s expression, he was certain that Lu Yang could see it as clear as day. This time, it truly wasn’t something that only his accursed left eye could see!
The shadow became thicker and thicker, and the thing above his head was within his vicinity. Jiang Ziya told himself repeatedly not to look upwards at all costs. According to his personal experience, pretending not to have seen it was definitely the best way to deal with the situation. Especially for this kind of thing that felt very abnormal, because they loved to follow people who could see them. Therefore, one must never look up at it!
However, it bent over and lowered its head, looking down at everyone present.
Jiang Ziya finally understood what the thick shadow was. It was actually its black robe.
It was the death god from this morning.
Its disproportionately large skull was buried in its enormous and thick black shadow. In its eye sockets that were like deep cavities, two bloody eyeballs swivelled around. First, it stared at Jiang Ziya, their eyes meeting each other. However, in the next moment, it turned away to look at the others, seemingly having no interest in Jiang Ziya.
Since our eyes have already met, it’s probably too late to pretend that I can’t see it, right? Jiang Ziya felt a little like fleeing right away, but he still had a girl in his arms, and the thing above him was simply too frightening. What he was afraid of was agitating the death god if he started running, while staying still might be safe. If he angered it, being stomped to death might even be a possibility!
Jiang Ziya could only hope that the death god would quickly leave by itself. However, the more he hoped so, the more it appeared otherwise. The death god seemed to have finally found its target. It moved, and a clacking sound passed by his ears. By reflex, Jiang Ziya lifted his head up to look toward the window, and then he immediately regretted it.
The clacking had actually been the sound made by its skeletal hand that had been propped behind the window. Because he was too focused on the shadow just now, he hadn’t noticed that there was something even more terrifying right beside him.
That hand steadily came down, and Jiang Ziya could only shift to the side desperately. However, once Jiang Ziya’s hand touched the floor beside him, he felt a sharp pain. The floor was covered in glass shards. Only the area under the window where they were lying was somewhat cleaner.
With no escape routes, Jiang Ziya could merely turn back to see whether the skeletal hand would capture him soon. With this glance, however, he discovered that he wasn’t the target of the death god at all. Its claws reached in the direction of Lu Yang—
Without any hesitation, Jiang Ziya reached out to grab the sleeve of the death god. However, he was not able to grab anything. The shadow robe was actually like fog and scattered the moment he touched it. He became anxious and could only pounce on that skeletal palm—
“Don’t touch it!” Lu Yang shouted out sternly. “Ziya, you’d better retreat!”
Jiang Ziya was stunned, and his hand froze in mid-air. However, he didn’t want to just look on as the death god came for Lu Yang. What should he do if it really dragged Lu Yang to hell?
However, he didn’t expect that the hand’s target wasn’t Lu Yang either. It kept pointing at the girl who was currently in Lu Yang’s arms, Lin Zhixiang!
Lu Yang first moved the girl away from the hand to avoid the death god. Following that, he made a motion that completely puzzled Jiang Ziya. His index finger and his middle finger on his right hand were put together, and he raised them up straight. His thumb then connected with his ring finger…
“Natural order of Heavens and Earth, disperse the foulness from the air, mighty gods of the eight cardinals, cut down demons and bind evil…”
To think that he even started an incantation!
As an incantation, the kind that Jiang Ziya had only ever heard of in movies, rolled out from Lu Yang’s mouth, Jiang Ziya stared dumbfounded at his good friend. Moreover, Lu Yang was chanting such a long piece, yet every word was clearly audible. It didn’t seem at all like the work of someone who was on death’s door and was just randomly chanting, “Buddha bless me, Guan Yin help me.”
“… Let the evil impurities dissolve away, let Taoism last for all eternity, let this imperial decree of Taishang Laojun4 be heard—obey!”
Lu Yang showed no signs of fear, and both his fingertips pointed at the hand of the death god. Jiang Ziya was just about to break into a scolding of “Do you not want your hand anymore—?” when he saw a silver light appear from the side of his fingers. Once this silver light appeared, the skeletal hand actually flinched.
Lu Yang turned his fingers, and the silver light too turned along with him. The light gradually manifested into a long shape, and it actually became a sharp elongated blade of a sword. As it continued to extend, the front became a sword tip and the back a hilt. It then contracted and solidified, becoming a real sword; or at least to Jiang Ziya, it was real enough.
As Lu Yang commanded it with his fingers, the sword too started dancing as well. It swung at the death god’s hand, but the death god managed to dodge in time. This attack only cut through the black robe and didn’t land on the hand at all. However, what was hit was the section right above its hand. Logically, it should have cut through his arm. Instead, there was nothing there, as though the hand floated by itself in mid-air, without any arms to support it.
Even so, the slash seemed to have an effect on it. The death god actually did not dare to approach anymore.
Lu Yang raised his fingers in front of his chest, and his sword moved in front of everyone, protecting them, as though it was a bodyguard. Once again, he started chanting, “Natural order of Heavens and Earth, disperse the foulness from the air…”
All thanks to that sword, the incantation seemed to have even more of an effect. The hand of the death god did not dare get any closer, and it steadily retracted the upper half of its body. This continued until Lu Yang finished his last line of “Let this imperial decree of Taishang Laojun be heard—obey!” With a serious expression, he pointed both his fingers at the death god, and the sword tip stabbed straight at the death god’s chest.
However, Jiang Ziya felt that the death god seemed not to mind this attack as much as the last one. When Lu Yang had attacked its hand just now, it seemed to have pulled back a lot more. Its bloody eyeballs had stared at the sword without moving, rather like it was restraining its fear. On the contrary, when the attack landed on its chest, it stopped drawing back and seemed as though it didn’t mind much.
“Ah Yang, don’t attack its chest. Aim for its face!”
Lu Yang paused and tilted his fingertip. The sword immediately moved upwards and pierced its way toward the skull.
Jiang Ziya stared fixedly at the expressions and movements the death god was making—though there was not much left of its face, once the sword had changed directions and aimed at its head, it immediately opened its mouth and let out a roar. Jiang Ziya actually did not hear any sounds, but he could at least tell with his eyes that its two rows of teeth had spread open wide, probably wide enough to even be able to swallow a human’s head whole.
Attacking its face was, as expected, the correct choice!
Just as the sword was about to hit it, the surroundings suddenly erupted in light. It was so bright that it hurt Jiang Ziya’s eyes and rendered him nearly blind, especially in his left eye. The sudden light caused him to start tearing up.
So did the blow connect or not? What is going on with this light? Please don’t let Lu Yang be the one who was hit…
1 “Chiung Yao”: The penname of a popular Chinese romance novelist based in Taiwan. One of her most famous works is還珠格格 (huánzhūgégé), otherwise known as “My Fair Princess,” “Return of the Pearl Princess,” or “Princess Returning Pearl.” For more information, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiung_Yao.
2 “Department grass”: In Chinese, the most beautiful girl in the school, the school beauty, is called the school flower (校花). In companion to that, the handsomest guy of the school is called the school grass (校草), though it is not used as often as school flower. Lu Yang is considered the handsomest guy in his department, so he is called the “department grass.”
3 “Who’s grass, you’re grass”: There’s a crude pun here because in Chinese, the word used for grass sounds exactly the same as the word for f***. So to Li Yao, what it sounds like they’re saying is “I f***, You f***.”
4 “Taishang Laojun”: Literally translates to “The Grand Supreme Elderly Lord.” It actually refers to one of the Taoist deities. (For more information, please visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daode_Tianzun)