Illusions, Lies, Truth Volume 1: Human Doll Contract Part One
Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 3: Jiang Ziya Part 3—Inferno—translated by Raylight
Lu Yang was squatting on the balcony when a vibration suddenly came from his chest. He first glanced at his cell phone, and then looked inside the apartment. Inside the apartment, it was still pitch black. He then calmly picked up the call.
“Fu Jun, why are you looking for me? Could it be that Ziya got into trouble?”
“… What kind of trouble could I get into?”
Lu Yang replied in shock, “Ziya? You’re still at Jiu Ge at this time? Why are you calling from Xiao Jun’s cell phone? Did your cell phone run out of battery?”
“I’m at the twenty-four hour supermarket on Zhongxiang Road. I’m not sure why, but only Xiao Jun’s cell phone could make a call…”
Jiang Ziya’s voice sounded a little cautious as he asked, “Lu Yang, do you think you could bring that sword over?”
Lu Yang blurted, “What did you see this time? Did you get involved with it?”
“The female classmate we saw in the daytime is here, and moreover—“
“You’re with her?” Lu Yang suddenly flew into a rage and scolded, “Jiang Ziya, are you stupid? Why did you go and find her? Wasn’t the incident in the daytime enough to make you stay far away from her?”
“It was just a coincidence!” was the urgent reply from the other.
Lu Yang issued an ultimatum, “I don’t care how you met her! You better instantly, immediately leave that place!”
“Uh, it should be too late. I can’t find the exit at all. The surroundings are too dark and ridiculously huge. This doesn’t look like the inside of the supermarket. I have no idea where this place is—“
Toot toot toot—
“Ziya? Ziya!” Lu Yang was stunned, and immediately pressed redial several times. However, every time he did, he only heard a harsh computerized voice going, “The phone number you have just called is currently unavailable.”
“SHIT!” Lu Yang cursed and shot a glance into the apartment. It was still pitch dark inside.
He had totally waited in vain! Trying to ambush her here like a fool! In the end, it was actually Jiang Ziya who met her in the supermarket, and coincidentally an incident had occurred… What kind of luck did he have?
The supermarket wasn’t far, a mere two streets away. However, judging from Jiang Ziya’s words, there probably wasn’t enough time for him to dawdle around.
With one hand, Lu Yang grabbed the railings on the balcony and jumped off directly from the third floor. As he jumped, he did a spin in mid-air and let go of the balcony. He landed on the railing of the second floor precisely, and then did a back flip and landed directly on the ground of the first floor. Following that, he shot out like an arrow.
It hadn’t even been three minutes before he stood at the entrance of the supermarket. However, there was nothing strange about the supermarket’s appearance.
Over the phone, Jiang Ziya had said that his surroundings were very dark. However, the supermarket seemed as bright as usual. Due to the late hour, there weren’t many people inside, but there were still people carrying shopping baskets or pushing shopping carts.
Lu Yang stepped in, and a peculiar chill made him shiver involuntarily. A bone-chilling cold like this couldn’t have been created by air-conditioning. However, despite looking around, he still could not figure out where the problem was.
At this kind of time, Lu Yang really wished that that left eye of Jiang Ziya’s was on his own face. Unfortunately, he didn’t have it, so he could only walk through the aisles one by one to search. At the same time, he made hand seals non-stop with all ten fingers, and muttered a chant, “Natural order of Heavens and Earth, disperse the foulness from the air, let the evil impurities dissolve away, let Taoism last for all eternity, let this imperial decree of Taishang Laojun—”
A sudden “bang” interrupted his incantation. Lu Yang took a step back warily, and shouted softly, “Slay, appear!”
If Jiang Ziya was here, he would have seen a large amount of light appearing at Lu Yang’s side once again. It spun around like a whirlpool, and in the end solidified and formed an ancient sword, floating to the right of Lu Yang.
A “thump” rang out. Lu Yang looked at the freezer beside him. He raised his hand, and the sword flew higher and tilted slightly downwards, entering a battle ready stance where he could send it out to cut down anything at any time.
Inside the freezer, there were various brands of dumplings for boiling. There was nothing strange about it. However, Lu Yang refused to believe that that was the case. He squinted his eyes suspiciously and finally noticed what was off. The reflection… The reflection on the glass doors wasn’t right!
The glass doors were not mirrors, so the image reflected on it was very limited. If one did not pay close attention, it would be impossible to notice the peculiarities. However, under Lu Yang’s scrutiny, he noticed that in the reflection, the goods were placed haphazardly, and several products had fallen all over the ground. It looked completely different from what was behind him!
Suddenly, a shadow flickered past. Lu Yang’s eyes turned wide, and he immediately looked behind him. However, there was no one behind him at all. He instantly turned back to the glass to take a closer look, and this time he saw the shadow clearly. It was as though the other person was standing in the position where Lu Yang was currently standing, and he was currently looking at him in disbelief—it was Jiang Ziya!
The Jiang Ziya within the glass took a stride forward, and his expression looked very anxious. He seemed to want to tell Lu Yang something, but at this point, there was a sudden ripple across the reflection, which made it start to become blurry.
Lu Yang couldn’t help but curse “SHIT” and then roared, “Slay, cut a passage through!”
The ancient sword reacted like how someone would when they were agitated—it started shaking madly. It spun and flew into a higher position, and then rushed straight toward the freezer, slicing it. The air actually tore apart like paper, and a giant crack appeared.
Jiang Ziya was standing right behind the crack, and he stared at Lu Yang with wide eyes. His appearance was a tragic sight. His shirt had a large rip in it, barely hanging on his body. Also, he was halfway blackened by smoke.
Lu Yang reached out, yelling, “Ziya, hurry and get—”
Instead, Jiang Ziya was even more agitated than he was and shouted, “Ah Yang, get out of there quickly!”
Lu Yang froze. He didn’t think that Jiang Ziya would end up asking him to go over. What kind of turn of events was this?
Before he could understand the situation clearly, he saw that the crack was gradually shrinking and closing up. He quickly said, “What are you talking about? You should come over! Quick, the hole is getting smaller and smaller!”
Jiang Ziya then noticed the change in the size of the hole, and he immediately panicked. He stretched out both his arms and shouted desperately, “Ah Yang, come over! Please!”
Seeing Jiang Ziya’s urgency, Lu Yang hesitated. According to logic, Lu Yang was the one who could deal with these kinds of matters, so they should listen to him. However…
“Lu Yang!” Jiang Ziya walked another step closer and growled, “You better get out of there right this moment! Otherwise, we won’t be friends anymore!”
Hearing that, Lu Yang laughed and said, “If I said that we can break off all ties but you have to come over?”
“… I’ll go over right now and punch you to death!”
Lu Yang gave a loud laugh. When the hole was barely as tall as half of a person, he squeezed through it and landed on the ground. After rolling, he stood beside Jiang Ziya without a single scratch, and even Slay was floating beside them cautiously.
After coming over, the first thing that Lu Yang felt was that it was very hot. On this side of the supermarket, it was practically ruins. Nearly half the shelves were collapsed, and there were damaged products all over the floor. Many places were even charred, like the result of a fire. The temperature of the place was indeed rather high, and smoke filled the air. Visibility was only extended to a few steps away. The entire place seemed like a fire site that had just been extinguished.
Lu Yang was so hot that his forehead began to sweat, and he started to feel that he had probably made the wrong decision and was going to accompany his good friend into a blazing hell. However, he abruptly realized that the bone-chilling cold that he had felt ever since stepping into the supermarket was gone!
Jiang Ziya broke into curses, “What were you standing there for? Just now, the shelves behind you were all displaying human heads and a bunch of organs stuffed in glass containers! There were even prices on them! Didn’t you see them? I asked you to come over, but you were still there joking around. I really want to smack you, you scoundrel!”
The moment Lu Yang heard that, not only did he look at Jiang Ziya’s left eye, he also exclaimed, “Ziya, that left eye of yours is really useful!”
“Useful, my ass!” Jiang Ziya’s face was ashen as he said, “Why is it that the supermarket has already become like this but the police still haven’t arrived?”
Lu Yang rolled his eyes at him. “Do you think the police office is just next door? I hurried here within three minutes of your phone call. Moreover, are you certain that the police wouldn’t go into the place just now that was selling human heads if they came in?”
“Three minutes?” Jiang Ziya froze and said, “I’m not certain how long it has been, but I’ve been stuck here for at least thirty minutes. It definitely couldn’t have been only three minutes!”
Hearing that, Lu Yang too realized that something was wrong. Jiang Ziya’s clothes were torn and blackened all over. Moreover, over the phone, he hadn’t mentioned the supermarket being destroyed. However, he looked like he had just survived a fire. To say that all of that happened within three minutes was indeed impossible.
“What exactly is going on?” Lu Yang started to think that things didn’t look good. First of all was the space, and then it was the time. To think that there was a problem with both, the “person” behind it this time was certainly a little too alarming!
Jiang Ziya shook his head and said, “Leave that aside for now. Hurry and come save someone with me!”
Lu Yang nodded his head and said in understanding, “That classmate called Lin Zhixiang?”
Hearing that, Jiang Ziya froze, and then gritted his teeth as he said, “No, the one we have to save is Xiao Xue!”
“Who is ‘Xiao Xue?’” Lu Yang did not seem to understand as he asked, “Did you meet her just now in the supermarket?”
“Xiao Xue is…” Jiang Ziya seemed to be a little at a loss as he continued, “She is my niece.”
Once Lu Yang heard that, he immediately questioned with a frown, “Isn’t that Jiang Jiang? Since when did you have another niece?”
Jiang Ziya really didn’t know how he should explain, especially with Lu Yang wielding an ancient sword like a demon-slaying character, and no matter how you looked at it, Xiao Xue looked like a type of monster! He took in a deep breath and said, “In short, Xiao Xue got trapped when she helped Lin Zhixiang and me escape. I have to go back and save her!”
Although Lu Yang was full of doubts, it only took one look at his good friend’s stubborn attitude, and he said unhappily, “Got it. Where is she?”
Smoke filled their surroundings, so visibility extended to only a few meters. However, Lu Yang reckoned that Jiang Ziya might be able to see much farther than him.
As expected, Jiang Ziya pointed in a direction and said, “That way.”
Lu Yang took a closer look. In that direction, the smoke seemed to be a darker shade of black, which was actually different from the rest of the smoke. It was just that the environment here was really too terrible, and a mere variation in the color of the smoke was simply hard to notice.
After noticing the peculiarity of the smoke, Lu Yang then felt something ominous. He couldn’t help but ask, “What do you see?”
“A black hole.” Jiang Ziya said helplessly, “It’s a hole that’s deep and dark. I had just managed to gather my courage to step in when I suddenly saw you on the reflection of the glass. It gave me a huge scare, thinking that you had become a ghost!”
“Don’t speak such nonsense in this kind of place!” Lu Yang rolled his eyes at him, and said, “Let’s go!”
The two of them headed toward the black hole that Jiang Ziya had spoken of. However, they didn’t expect that it was actually still a distance away from them. This place was indeed too large to resemble a supermarket.
“Ziya, this place shouldn’t be like this. Don’t tell me that even you can’t see the real supermarket?”
Jiang Ziya felt very puzzled by it too. He answered, “This place truly is like this. It seems like the after scene of a fire, but it’s just too large. I also have no idea what’s going on. Just now when I was trying to escape, I had to run for at least ten minutes before I found the exit.”
“Since you found the exit, why didn’t you go out!” Lu Yang had the urge to stab his good friend.
“That’s because Xiao Xue helped divert those things away from Lin Zhixiang and me, and told us to escape first. She said that she would follow us afterwards, but she didn’t. Moreover, Lin Zhixiang and I had even gotten separated midway. I had merely turned around to find the way, and when I turned back, she was gone. I can’t possibly just abandon her, right?”
Jiang Ziya asked in a soft voice, “Ah Yang, can you really handle those things?” Although he didn’t want to abandon Xiao Xue and Lin Zhixiang, he was even more unwilling to drag Lu Yang into trouble.
Those… Not just one? Lu Yang’s heart skipped a beat at that. Of course, he wasn’t a newbie, but this time, he truly didn’t have the confidence. The death god that had appeared in the afternoon; the way he had obliviously stepped into a terrible place when he entered the supermarket; the time difference between three minutes and thirty minutes…
He said in a relaxed manner, “Do I look like I can’t handle this?”
Jiang Ziya was between laughter and tears as he said, “You’re wearing clothes that resemble those of a magazine model’s, have facial features of mixed-blood descent, and you’re paired with an ancient Chinese sword. You look even worse than a quack!”
“Congrats, the person that you’re counting on to rescue others is worse than a quack!” Lu Yang teased, and then couldn’t resist asking, “Ziya, you keep saying that Slay is an ancient sword. How does the Slay that you see look like?”
“Oh? The body of the sword is silvery white, and the hilt is an old, deep bronze color. The decorations on top of it look a bit like clouds. That kind of shape seems to be called ruyi? At the bottom, there’s even a small jade ring with a red tassel hanging from it.”
At this point in his description, Jiang Ziya couldn’t help but ask, “Could it be that you can’t see your own sword?”
“I can see it.” Lu Yang glanced at Slay beside him, and his gaze automatically softened. His tone was a little regretful as he said, “However, the most I can usually see is Slay’s radiance. As for the rest, I only know that the sword hilt is a dark color, and I can see the red tassel. However, I can’t see the ruyi cloud patterns or the jade ring you spoke of.”
Jiang Ziya asked out of curiosity, “Since when did you own this sword… Ah! If that’s something that can’t be spoken of, then forget it.”
Lu Yang scratched his face and answered, “I think I was born with it, but I only managed to summon it when I was twelve years old.” He fell silent for a moment, and then said softly, “It’s not that I intended to hide it from you on purpose. It’s just that if I told you about these things, I was afraid that you would be dragged into these matters.”
It’s exactly like how Yu Shu said it would be. Jiang Ziya patted his shoulder and comforted him, “I know. It’s not like I blame you. Anything that you can’t tell me, just don’t speak of it. Don’t worry about it!”
Lu Yang instead shook his head, saying, “Now, I actually have to tell you some of these things. You have already been dragged so deeply into this, and can’t be so oblivious to everything anymore. But…”
He stopped in his tracks and looked straight ahead, making Slay go into its battle ready stance. He said, “For now, let’s settle this before we talk! Ziya, from this moment on, inform me of the surroundings and its peculiarities to the best of your abilities.”
“Okay.” Jiang Ziya didn’t dare to be careless either.
The entrance to the black hole was right in front of the two of them. This hole looked similar to the crack that Slay had sliced through, but unlike the crack where you could see the inside directly, it was just a mess of chaos and darkness within.
“I can’t see what is inside the hole. It’s too dark.” Jiang Ziya sounded a little discouraged.
Lu Yang gave a nod of his head and said, “Then, I’ll go in first. When you hear me say ‘Okay,’ then you can come in.”
“No way!” Jiang Ziya protested strongly. “If you were to be ambushed when you go in, then I’ll definitely not have a good end either. Why don’t I go in first, and if anything happens, you can come in to save me!”
Lu Yang raised an eyebrow, and without a second word, dashed into the hole.
Jiang Ziya froze for a moment before coming back to his senses. He immediately ran two steps forward, shouting, “Hey! Lu Yang!”
A hand suddenly came out of the hole and dragged him in. Its strength was astounding, and Jiang Ziya was unable to react in time. He merely staggered two steps before he was pulled in. Once he entered the hole, abrupt light rays blinded him, causing him to be unable to open his eyes. However, he didn’t stay idle but instantly swung his right fist—
“It’s me!” His punch was blocked, and a familiar voice sounded.
After recognizing that it was Lu Yang, Jiang Ziya gave a sigh of relief. He could not help but curse, “What are you doing? Are you trying to scare me to death?”
“Sorry, sorry. I was worried that you would run into some more trouble over there, so I pulled you over in a hurry.”
Although Lu Yang was explaining to him in a relaxed tone, his gaze was very sharp, observing the situation around them. His body was also wound tight, with Slay floating beside him, ready to be put into execution at any moment. He was completely in battle stance.
Jiang Ziya rarely saw Lu Yang with such a serious attitude. In the past, even when dealing with people looking for trouble, Lu Yang would usually pummel them while wearing a smile on his face. Jiang Ziya couldn’t help but feel unused to seeing such a serious expression on him.
“Ziya, what I see around us is still the supermarket. How about you?” At the moment, Lu Yang trusted Jiang Ziya’s eyes much more than his own.
The supermarket again! Jiang Ziya felt that he was going nuts. What’s going on? Despite going here and there, they were still in the supermarket, just that it was slightly different.
“Yeah, it’s a supermarket that hasn’t been destroyed. But, it’s a bit dusky, and there are thick layers of dust everywhere.” Jiang Ziya hesitated before he mentioned, “However, the size of the supermarket seems to have been restored back to normal. I can see the entrance.”
“I can see it too. Any peculiarities there?”
“No.” Jiang Ziya observed carefully before answering.
Lu Yang frowned and said, “Let’s try going out first.”
Aren’t we going to look for Xiao Xue and Lin Zhixiang inside the supermarket first? Jiang Ziya wanted to ask that, but the stern look on Lu Yang’s face stopped him from doing so. The other person looked like a specialist—no, appearance-wise, he didn’t look like one. However, either way, he had a sword floating beside him, and Lu Yang’s judgment was definitely better than Ziya’s own.
They walked out of the supermarket. Outside were familiar roads and streets and a large number of buildings, and before them was an asphalt road and vehicles.
“It’s snowing from the sky?” Jiang Ziya looked upwards at the sky in shock. Seeing the grayish-white specks falling continuously from the sky, he couldn’t help but reach a hand out to catch them. However, what landed in his palm was not cold snow but a black lump of ash that was even still a bit warm.
“That’s not right, this seems to be ash. Lu Yang—”
Jiang Ziya had practically never seen real snow before, so he was unable to confirm for sure. He turned around, intending to ask his good friend if he also thought that it was ash. However, Lu Yang’s face was so pale that Jiang Ziya received a huge shock.
“Ziya, do you see it too? Is this place really that big? Is there anything strange about it? Can you see into the distance?” Lu Yang questioned him non-stop, seeming very anxious.
Jiang Ziya lifted his head up. This was the street near his home and could not be any more familiar to him. Lu Yang’s terrible complexion made him observe his surroundings in greater detail.
It was a little dusky, like the result of severe air pollution, and ash was falling from the sky continuously. However, the visibility was not as bad as the supermarket’s after the fire. He was still able to see rather far away.
The only thing that struck him as strange was the silence.
The familiar street was a place that was so crowded that even the supermarket had to be open for twenty-four hours, but it was currently a deafening sea of silence.
On the road, cars had stopped in front of the traffic lights, but even after such a long time, they had not moved. They merely remained on the asphalt roads. Naturally, there was no one inside the cars either. It was as though everyone had evaporated in the middle of driving, leaving only their cars behind. A thick layer of dust had even piled up on the cars.
“Yeah, I can see into the distance. Everything that should be here is here, just that there’s a lot more dust, and there doesn’t seem to be anyone around.”
Although it was rather unsettling to see the city become so silent, Jiang Ziya felt that if someone were to appear in this kind of place, he probably wouldn’t be able to think of them as human anyway.
“Come, we’re going back into the supermarket!” Lu Yang instantly turned back, and instructed, “Ziya, observe around and look for the exit. We’re going to leave this place immediately!”
Jiang Ziya froze and asked, “Then, what about Xiao Xue and Lin Zhixiang? We have to go look for them—”
“We can’t afford to anymore!” Lu Yang seemed rather flustered and exasperated as he explained, “Someone who can create such a large and detailed ‘barrier dimension’ is definitely not someone I can deal with! If we don’t go now, even we will be unable to leave!”
Hearing that, Jiang Ziya finally understood the gravity of the situation. However, Xiao Xue, and that female classmate…
Lu Yang grabbed his arm and anxiously pleaded, “This time, I’m the one begging you. Trust me, and let’s leave quickly! You’re the only family that your sister has left!”
“Is my dad dead in your mind…”
“How many years has it been since your dad last showed up? You and your sister have probably known me longer than you’ve known your dad!”
That might actually be true. Jiang Ziya felt a little depressed at that.
Seeing that he had yet to agree, Lu Yang exasperatedly said, “Ziya, think about it. If something were to happen to you, how upset would your sister be?”
Jiang Ziya fell silent. He thought about his twin sister, and thought about what would occur if something were to happen to him—
Jiang Yu’s face suddenly came to mind. However, it was a younger version of her. Her face was completely filthy, with tears and mucus flowing down it. The grime and the tears on her face blended together, making her a tragic sight. Her mouth opened wide, and she screamed as if shouting herself hoarse, so full of grief—
It was the incident from that time, that car accident…
“Ziya?” Lu Yang shouted in confusion. “What’s wrong? Is something wrong?”
Jiang Ziya abruptly came back to his senses. There was no Jiang Yu in front of him, only Lu Yang, whose face seemed very worried.
He shook his head. Once he thought about how sad Jiang Yu would be, and for some reason recalled that scene, he really was unable to hold his stance any longer.
Xiao Xue, I’m sorry…
Jiang Ziya finally nodded his head and agreed, “Let’s leave.”
Lu Yang heaved a sigh of relief. However, he quickly turned worried as he said, “We still have to find the exit. We have to rely on your left eye—”
Jiang Ziya abruptly interrupted him and cautiously said, “Ah Yang, someone’s there.”
He pointed at the balcony opposite the street. Lu Yang had not seen a thing, but he was extremely confident in Jiang Ziya’s eyes. Since he claimed that he had seen someone, then there was someone there without a doubt!
If it was the person who had created this place, then it would be difficult for them to escape even if they had wings! What exactly should they do in order to escape from this place? Or perhaps, there wasn’t a way at all…