Illusions, Lies, Truth Volume 1: Human Doll Contract Part One
Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo
Chapter 3: Jiang Ziya Part 1—Fuel—translated by Raylight
When he finished his part-time work and returned home, only his brother-in-law, Jiang Qibing, was at home. Like usual, he was seated at the study desk in the living room, using the computer. Jiang Ziya removed his shoes at the entrance and asked out of curiosity, “Where’s Sis? And Jiang Jiang? They’re not at home?”
Jiang Qibing raised his head and stared at him blankly, muttering, “Jiang Jiang? Who is Jiang…”
Jiang Ziya’s eyes widened, but Jiang Qibing then nonchalantly said, “Oh, your sis brought them to the supermarket. Did you eat dinner properly before work? Are you hungry at the moment? Do you want me to call your sister and ask her to buy a late night snack on the way back?”
Jiang Ziya hesitated for a moment. His brother-in-law seemed to have suddenly forgotten Jiang Jiang… He immediately put the shoes he had been removing back on and shouted, “I’m going out for a bit.”
Jiang Qibing froze and shouted, “Didn’t you just come back? It’s almost ten. Where are you going?”
“Just dropping by the neighbor’s!”
Jiang Ziya rushed over, hammering on the door so hard that it could shake the heavens. The door opened by a small crack. House Keeper was standing behind the door as he asked, “May I inquire as to who our guest is?”
“G-Good evening! I’m the neighbor.” Seeing House Keeper, who was wearing a dress shirt and a small vest, Jiang Ziya abruptly felt that he was being too impolite. He immediately stood up straight to greet him.
House Keeper gave a faint smile, and as he opened the door, he politely returned the greeting. “Good evening. Please enter.”
An angry roar came from within the room. “Who said I’m allowing that rascal in? Is he trying to break my door down?”
House Keeper explained with a smile, “The mistress has been rushing her manuscript all day and is still not done with it. She is not in a good mood at the moment.”
Hearing that, Jiang Ziya immediately shouted into the room, “I read your book today!”
“… Come in.”
When he went in, he was immediately greeted by the sight of Yu Shu sprawled on the sofa. Weapon magazines, from blades to guns, covered her body. If he didn’t see wrongly, one of them was even about the evolution of tanks…
Yu Shu said in a commanding tone, “Say it! Which one did you read?”
Jiang Ziya obediently recounted, “I flipped through all of them briefly. When I found the one with the butler, I read the whole book. I-I even bought it!” He quickly pulled the book out of his bag as proof.
Yu Shu said unhappily, “Stop being so interested in my butler! Save it, I’m not going to marry him off to you!”
“He’s not a woman!”
Yu Shu snorted and made eyes at him as she said, “So if he was a woman, you would have considered it? Not scared anymore?”
Jiang Ziya froze and lifted his head to look at House Keeper, who bent down and asked, “I will brew milk tea just like the other time. Will that be fine?”
Jiang Ziya immediately nodded his head vigorously. Although he was not here for the milk tea, it was simply too good. He couldn’t resist nodding his head wildly. He snuck a peek at House Keeper’s back as he left to the kitchen and asked Yu Shu in a whisper, “So he is the butler that you wrote about in your book. T-That vampire?”
He had to admit that after he realized that the butler was written as a “vampire” in the book, he had become even more nervous. However, once he saw him, this nervousness had vanished. House Keeper didn’t feel like a vampire at all. He had kept on a faint smile all along and was gentler than the average person. He was also super good at brewing milk tea!
Jiang Ziya froze and asked, “Why not?” Could it be that I picked the wrong book? Is there another one with a butler?
“Even if it is the same book, everyone has a different impression when they read it. Therefore, the butler that I summoned would definitely not be the same as one summoned by someone else. Even their looks would differ. For example, if a book were to say that a certain character is a ‘handsome guy,’ the handsome guy that would appear in your mind and mine are different, right?”
Yu Shu sat up and pushed the magazines piling on her to one side. She lazily said, “Since even their looks are different, who is the butler in the book, then?”
“Oh.” Jiang Ziya could not resist saying, “But you are the author. The butler you summoned should be the one from the book!”
“At the very most, the character I summoned would probably be closer to the butler from the book. However, they will definitely not be exactly the same. In the book, the person the butler serves is a young master. However, his current master is me. Different life experiences will result in different people. Do you understand now?”
So that is how it is. Jiang Ziya nodded his head.
House Keeper brought out a pot of milk tea and two cups. Once Yu Shu saw that, she immediately shouted, “I don’t want milk tea. Where’s my coffee?”
As the butler put down the cup and saucers, he explained slowly, “For the sake of finishing your manuscript, you have already drunk ten pots of coffee within these few days. You once ordered me to restrict you from drinking too much coffee. Therefore, please switch to tea from now on.”
“Tea also has caffeine, so there’s no difference anyways!”
“This is made from tea bags with low caffeine.”
Yu Shu immediately flopped back onto the sofa and covered up her face as she moaned in despair, “You might as well kill me!”
House Keeper continued to pour milk tea elegantly as he said, “Mistress, it is about time for you to go to the supermarket. This is already the last tea bag, and there are barely any vegetables left. There is only one pile of frozen meat left in the freezer. The rest of the refrigerator is empty. Also, I would like to trouble you to buy a tray. It would be convenient for serving tea or food.”
Yu Shu hesitated for a moment and then tried to save on the effort to even go to the supermarket. She asked hopefully, “Since you can already go and take out the trash, then you can go to the supermarket too, right?”
House Keeper shook his head, saying, “There are too many people at the supermarket, and moreover, it is very bright. I would definitely be revealed, unless you intend to change me into a ‘lie.’”
“Then forget it.” Yu Shu immediately gave up.
Jiang Ziya asked, not understanding, “What will happen if he becomes a lie?”
“He would start to think too much and want to become a true living existence. Then, there would be huge trouble!”
Yu Shu put both her hands on Jiang Ziya’s shoulders and said gravely, “You must know that the fee to hire a butler is terrifyingly expensive. I don’t have that kind of wealth to pay his salary, so I definitely can’t allow him to become an existence higher than a lie, and then demand a salary from me!”
Jiang Ziya nearly spat out the milk tea in his mouth. He said unhappily, “If you say that you won’t give him a salary right in front of him, won’t he think of demanding one from you?”
Yu Shu raised an eyebrow and said, “He is merely an ‘illusion,’ so he will only obey orders obediently and not demand anything from me.”
Hearing this, Jiang Ziya couldn’t help but glance at House Keeper. The latter merely gave a small smile and looked like he really did not mind people talking about him in front of him, much less question his salary.
Yu Shu forced herself to drink two mouthfuls of the milk tea, and she asked, “Stop asking about my place’s butler. He is my problem to deal with anyways. The question right now is, how is the problem in your family?”
“Ah! I came to look for you because of that. Today, when I recalled something about Jiang Jiang, she…”
Jiang Ziya froze. What had I remembered about Jiang Jiang? That’s strange. It was evidently something important, but why would I forget it in a blink of an eye?
Yu Shu laughed dryly and patted his shoulder as she said, “Forget it! As for Jiang Jiang, it’s best for you not to think about her case. Concentrate on getting rid of that doll!”
Getting rid of?
Jiang Ziya’s face twitched, and he said cautiously, “But Xiao Xue doesn’t seem like she has any evil intentions. Wouldn’t it be a little too cruel to get rid of her?”
“Xiao Xue, is it? Sounds very intimate…”
Yu Shu pounced and grabbed hold of Jiang Ziya’s neck. She yelled in rage, “I told you to burn her, but you instead went and became so familiar with her. Do you not understand human speech?”
“I-I understand! B-But…” Jiang Ziya said with difficulty, “Since you say that Jiang Jiang is also fake, then couldn’t we also let Xiao Xue become a real person?”
“Don’t keep saying that Jiang Jiang is fake, or be careful that she would really turn into a fake, you idiot!”
Jiang Ziya froze, and he suddenly recalled that he seemed to have heard Jiang Jiang call him in school today. She seemed to have been shouting, “Don’t,” but what exactly didn’t she…
He shook his head hard. He had a vague sense that it was not something good, so he decided to follow what Yu Shu had said, not to think about Jiang Jiang’s case—no matter whether Jiang Jiang was real or not, his sister and brother-in-law couldn’t lose her!
But Xiao Xue?
Thinking about the other child, Jiang Ziya started hesitating.
Seeing Jiang Ziya’s expression, Yu Shu understood that he had become too softhearted.
She let go of his neck and furrowed her brows. She then sat down cross-legged and said in a vexed tone, “Things aren’t that simple. She is not something that originally existed, so it is very easy for her to be affected by others.”
“Who isn’t ever affected by others?” Jiang Ziya rubbed his neck that had been grabbed just now while muttering softly.
Yu Shu rolled her eyes at him and snapped, “Would you suddenly become a ghost doll because of someone else’s influence?”
Jiang Ziya received a shock at that and shrieked, “Could it be that they will become ghost dolls?”
“It’s she, not ‘they!’ Only Xiao Xue. Don’t drag the other one into this.” Yu Shu rolled her eyes at him again, and then returned to the topic. “On the day the lot of you feel that Xiao Xue is not a human, but a terrifying ghost doll, as long as this thought is strong enough, she would truly turn into one.”
When he heard that, Jiang Ziya’s face turned pale.
Yu Shu said indifferently, “To put it more gravely, if you guys firmly believe that she is a man-killing ghost doll, she would really be influenced to go and murder people. Do you really want to take this kind of risk?”
Jiang Ziya hesitated. He ought to shake his head immediately, but he was still hesitant.
Seeing his expression, Yu Shu understood that he was still unwilling to follow her instructions, so she could not help but roll her eyes. She felt a little lazy, to the point where she didn’t want to take care of him anymore, but based on the fact that he was her neighbor, she made a rare decision to spend effort to persuade him.
“Listen to me. Jiang Jiang has already become true. There’s nothing you can do about it anymore. Moreover, she’s still young. As long as you don’t remind her about these things, and she grows up like this, there is a high possibility that she will forget about the things that happened when she was small, and never find out that she is not a real person.”
Yu Shu pointed at Jiang Ziya’s nose and said, “Therefore, the best way would be for even you to forget about her case and treat her like a child that your sister gave birth to. Understand?”
I have no problems with this! Jiang Ziya nodded his head vigorously.
Yu Shu then continued, satisfied, “But Xiao Xue has not come ‘true’ yet, so there’s still time to get rid of her. Don’t let her come ‘true.’ Your family can’t handle so many of them!”
Jiang Ziya gritted his teeth and said, “But I can’t burn her to death!”
He finally admitted that he wasn’t able to burn Xiao Xue to death. So what if she was a doll? So what if he could see her ball joints? She could move, talk, and even call him Gēge!
How could he possibly burn her?
“I told you to burn her, what burn to death.” Yu Shu rolled her eyes again, and said unhappily, “Don’t say it as though I’m instigating you to commit murder and arson!”
Jiang Ziya was not convinced, as he said, “Why don’t you grab a random person on the streets and ask him to burn Xiao Xue. See if he would report you to the police for murder and arson!”
Yu Shu was so angry, she roared, “Reporting me to the police, huh? Very well, I couldn’t care less how many hundreds of ghost dolls you live with. House Keeper, send our guest away… No, that’s not right. Send this harbinger of bad luck away!”
“Don’t! I was wrong, please help my family!” Jiang Ziya immediately bowed and admitted his mistake.
With such a large matter that endangered his entire family, it was a simple thing for him to bow and admit his mistake.
Face dark, Yu Shu continued to say nothing.
Seeing that, Jiang Ziya became a little flustered.
Although he was unable to deal a killing blow to Xiao Xue, that didn’t mean that he wasn’t concerned about the safety of his family members. Moreover, with two little girls who seemed like they weren’t human in his family, if she really were to ignore him, then what would he do? She was the only person he could consult!
“Yu Shu, don’t tell me that you really won’t help? Aren’t you pretty close with my sister? You wouldn’t want to see her land into danger like this, right?”
Yu Shu gave a cold snort and said, “What do you mean by ‘close?’ It’s just taking out the trash every day. Don’t tell me that we should become trash friends?”
Despite her words, she furrowed her brows. She felt a little twitchy, for she really wasn’t able to sit back and wait for the family across from her to appear on the social news.
“How troublesome!” Yu Shu said impatiently, “Originally, becoming friendly with the doll meant you would be able to deal with her more easily. But, you became too friendly with her!” After her complaint, she turned to ask House Keeper, “Do you think you can defeat that doll?”
House Keeper did a quick evaluation and shook his head, saying, “No, Mistress. The two of them act together. I have no chance of victory.”
Jiang Ziya’s face twitched. He had previously thought that the large doll across from home could win against the small dolls in his family, but as it turned out, size and appearances weren’t everything. Their “age” was what was crucial.
“What if Jiang Jiang isn’t there, and you’re only dealing with one?”
House Keeper reconsidered it, but he still shook his head, saying, “I still cannot win. She has existed longer than I have. Although she is still an ‘illusion,’ she will probably become a ‘lie’ soon. She is not something I can deal with.”
Yu Shu received a shock and said in disbelief, “Whoa. Grand Duke Jiang, your sister is too formidable! One has already come true, and one is going to become a lie soon. Just how strong is her calling ability? Why hasn’t such a strong power been—“
She abruptly stopped.
“Hasn’t been what?” Jiang Ziya asked, puzzled.
“Nothing—“ After she vaguely passed it over, Yu Shu suddenly pounced at Jiang Ziya and pinched his face with all her strength. She roared in rage, “If you didn’t live across from me, so those two dolls might come charging over if anything goes wrong, I definitely would not care about you at all, you bastards!”
Jiang Ziya said in grievance, “How was I to know that when I came home one day, there would suddenly be another girl—“
“It’s two!” Yu Shu corrected him vigorously.
Jiang Ziya felt even more wronged. He had originally thought one of them to be real, yet that one turned out to be a fake as well.
“Ah! That’s not right. Treating it as only one extra is the right thing. Ahhh—how irritating!”
She suddenly pulled at her hair agitatedly, scaring Jiang Ziya so much he didn’t dare to move, thinking that she had gone crazy.
However, following that, Yu Shu suddenly turned back to House Keeper and calmly asked, “With the addition of that golden-haired fellow, can the two of you defeat one girl?”
House Keeper considered it for a bit and nodded his head, saying, “If you give him a body too, it should be possible.”
What golden-haired fellow? Jiang Ziya was stunned. Could it be that there’s another ghost doll here besides House Keeper?
And which golden-haired one?
When he was manning the bookstore, he had flipped through many of Yu Shu’s novels. He had seen several golden-haired characters. Which one was she referring to exactly? Could it be the terrifying emperor of the world? Or was it the despicable head of the church? Or was it possibly the bad-tempered lightning elf—
—Oh no, it feels like you shouldn’t mess with any of the golden-haired characters!
Yu Shu frowned and muttered, “He even needs a body? But ordering a doll takes a three month wait… Whatever, I’ll look around in the auctions. Maybe there’ll be one—Grand Duke Jiang, you have to pay me a hundred thousand!”
Jiang Ziya nearly puked blood at that. He roared, “A hundred thousand? This is robbery in broad daylight! You can buy dolls at a few hundred dollars!”
“Do you think it’s a Barbie doll?! If House Keeper were to reside in a doll that doesn’t allow for nimble motions, I guarantee that the milk tea he brews could poison you to death!”
What do you mean by nimble! Things like dolls are not supposed to be able to move in the first place!
House Keeper asked, not understanding, “Mistress, I remember when you ordered my body, it did not seem to cost as much.”
“The rest is my compensation!” Yu Shu roared and then fiercely turned back to shout at Jiang Ziya, “Otherwise, you go and burn Xiao Xue yourself!”
Jiang Ziya was definitely unable to do something like that, but it was even more impossible for him to give a hundred thousand dollars. He said in dismay, “I don’t have that much money, unless you let me pay in installments, at least ten installments.”
“What installments, do I look like such a cruel person?”
Out of his expectations, Yu Shu calmed down and even drank a mouthful of her milk tea. She slowly said, “Rather than working part-time to repay your debt, you might as well help me with odd jobs!”
“What are the job contents?” Jiang Ziya asked. In his heart, alarm bells were ringing. Images of various kinds of perils like subduing monsters, wiping out demons, burning dolls, and cremating bodies appeared in his head on loop.
Yu Shu said with a small smile, “Many. Right now, the first thing is to let House Keeper make a list of household necessities. In the future, you will go to the supermarket every week to buy those things.”
So it was errands!
Jiang Ziya gritted his teeth and said, “I’m beyond amazed! To be so lazy as to skip a weekly trip to the supermarket, you might as well plant yourself at home and not go out for the rest of your life!”
“Currently working hard toward this goal.”
“Is it a deal or not?” Yu Shu said impatiently, “House Keeper is still waiting for his tray!”
“Deal!” Jiang Ziya could only agree with his teeth clenched.
He could only comfort himself with the fact that odd jobs like buying groceries would be a lot better than vanquishing monsters and demons. It should only involve errands and wouldn’t be dangerous at all.
Yu Shu clapped once and exclaimed, “That’s more like it! House Keeper, in the future, seek him out to buy stuff!”
House Keeper nodded his head with a smile. He completely did not have any opinion on how his mistress would even delegate chores like going to the supermarket. He merely took out a piece of paper and handed it over to Jiang Ziya, saying, “The list is already done, and the items needed are on it. Because the prices in every store are a little different, if it is possible, I would like to trouble you to browse several stores.”
He said with a helpless smile, “The mistress always finds it troublesome and would refuse to browse more than one store, so we would end up wasting a lot of money.”
Jiang Ziya felt like puking blood. No wonder Yu Shu created a butler despite being so eager to burn Xiao Xue—even a doll was more human than her! Before she had House Keeper, this apartment definitely must have looked more horrifying than a rubbish-dumping site!
Jiang Ziya snatched the shopping list and cash. He angrily said, “I’ll go and buy it now. Don’t go back on your words, you have to…”
Burn Xiao Xue! But once the words were nearly out, he was unable to say them aloud.
“Hurry and go shop. My place only has frozen meat left!” Yu Shu didn’t ask about Jiang Ziya’s unsaid words and lazily waved her hand. “Don’t concern yourself with the rest. As a university student, just go and study obediently!”
Jiang Ziya nodded, his heart a little heavy. He tried his best not to think about Xiao Xue, especially the scene yesterday when they showered together, and her various calls of “Gēge.”
When he reached the door, he hesitated for a moment. But he still turned to ask, “Yu Shu, you said that House Keeper and Xiao Xue are not ghosts. Then, are there ghosts in the world?”
Yu Shu shrugged and said, “If you think there are, there are. If you think there aren’t, then there aren’t.”
He rolled his eyes at her and said unhappily, “That’s not an answer at all. If I think they exist, but other people don’t, then do they exist or not?”
Yu Shu suddenly turned solemn as she replied, “Then, that would depend on whether your ‘they exist’ is stronger, or their ‘they don’t exist’ is stronger.”
What does that mean?
Jiang Ziya felt a little stunned. If they exist, they exist, and if they don’t, they don’t. You can even separate them into levels of strength?
Yu Shu was frowning as she stared at his left eye. The graveness of her expression made Jiang Ziya feel that his left eye seemed to be even more troublesome than House Keeper, a moving doll.
“Jiang Ziya, I’m warning you. Don’t look around randomly for no reason. Your left eye isn’t anything good, and it’s easy to stir up big trouble. Your left eye probably played a part in having the two in your family coming true and becoming a lie—no, I believe your eye is definitely involved. Otherwise, your sister would really be too powerful, and it wouldn’t have been possible for her to have avoided serious trouble all this time.
Hearing this, Jiang Ziya suddenly felt itchiness in his left eye. If it were something that he could throw away, he would have tossed it into the Pacific Ocean before he was even ten years old.
Yu Shu’s index finger drew a straight line in front of his eyes, and she said, “When you walk, keep looking forward, and turn a blind eye to everything else. Understood?”
Jiang Ziya nodded his head vigorously, but then he remembered the reason why he had stopped earlier. That already didn’t follow the principle of turning a blind eye to everything.
“Um, Yu Shu, this morning I saw a death god drag away a girl, and then the death god appeared in my school again later. It…”
Although Yu Shu immediately rolled her eyes at him, Jiang Ziya could not resist narrating in detail what had happened earlier. “In the end, I even saw my classmate create an ancient sword out of thin air and send the death god running away. T-This shouldn’t have all been caused by my eye, right?”
Yu Shu had said that his left eye wasn’t anything good, making Jiang Ziya extremely nervous. If all of these things had been caused by his eye…
“Of course you weren’t the cause.” Yu Shu held her forehead like she had a headache and said, “Is this called ‘birds of a feather flock together?’ That Lu Yang classmate of yours—“ She paused, her tone changing as she asked, “You are very close with him? He knows all about your left eye?”
Jiang Ziya nodded his head.
“Oh… But since nothing has happened to you, then it should be fine.”
What! Can’t you say things a little clearer?
Seeing Jiang Ziya’s unconvinced expression, Yu Shu clicked her tongue and said, “Knowing less is better for you. Your classmate is a good person. Not telling you is for your own good.”
Jiang Ziya remained silent.
Although he really wanted to know what Lu Yang was doing, what could he do after finding out? He merely had an eye that could see and was completely of no help at all. Rather than knowing but being of no help, perhaps it would be better not to know at all.
Just like before, when he didn’t know that Lu Yang had so many secrets, he didn’t have to worry about him seeking out a death god. Now, although he knew more, he would worry whether Lu Yang was planning to pick a fight with a death god by himself, but he wasn’t of any help at all.
Jiang Ziya said, depressed, “I got it. I won’t ask. I’ll go to the supermarket and buy the things you need.”
After seeing Jiang Ziya shut the door, Yu Shu gave a sigh.
“What a strong fuel he is, to be able to transform a tiny spark into a large inferno. It would be bad just being seen by him! Too bad there just has to be a sister who specializes in lighting fires around. Even his classmate is setting things alight now too…”
Yu Shu crossed her arms across her chest, frowning. Although it was none of her business, the other person lived across from her home. If the fire was too large, her place would burn too!
To speak seriously, if those two really were to become killer dolls, she really would have to ask House Keeper to block them with only his doll body. This was why she was thinking about releasing the golden-haired fellow—she had to plan ahead.
On the other hand, House Keeper, the golden-haired fellow, and the two girls were actually not all that different…
Yu Shu shot a glance at House Keeper, who was beside her, and asked doubtfully, “Could it be that you were very happy that Jiang Ziya came over? I didn’t ask you to brew tea this time, yet you actually went off to brew it on your own. You even went to brew the milk tea that that guy praised endlessly last time.”
House Keeper’s expression did not change. He still had a faint smile on his face as he replied, “A butler’s duty is to entertain the mistress’s guests. This has no relation to one’s personal emotions.”
Isn’t saying “no” good enough? To think that he would actually explain…
Yu Shu suddenly felt a headache coming on—could it be that she was also one of the people setting fires alight right next to the fuel?