Illusions, Lies, Truth Volume 1: Human Doll Contract Part One
Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 4: Lu Yang Part 2—Shriek—translated by Raylight (proofread by Trespasserby and EvlNabiki; C/E edited by lucathia)
It was late at night, but none of the family had any free time yet. Jiang Yu was busy clearing the dishes after their late night snack, and Jiang Qibing went back to working. Jiang Ziya was in charge of coaxing the two girls to sleep.
“Xiao Xue, what do I have to do to make you come true?” He finally could not stop himself from asking that.
Xiao Xue froze and timidly answered, “I-I don’t know either.”
Jiang Ziya frowned and turned to the other girl in the bed. He asked, “Jiang Jiang, do you know? Since you have already come true, you must know what needs to be done, right?”
Confusion was written all over Jiang Jiang’s cute face, and she asked, bewildered, “Gēge, what are you saying? Jiang Jiang doesn’t understand.”
Jiang Ziya was originally planning to continue with his line of questioning, but he abruptly remembered Yu Shu’s warning—it was best to forget.
“It’s nothing.” Afterwards, he did not bring up the matter any further. No matter what happened, the bottom line was that they could not lose Jiang Jiang. “Be a good girl and go sleep now. Gēge still has things to do.”
The two girls agreed obediently. They were probably not used to sleeping this late and were truly exhausted, for they were already fast asleep after Jiang Ziya stayed for a mere three more minutes.
He walked over to the living room. His brother-in-law was still working, and his sister was sitting beside him, accompanying her husband quietly. The moment Jiang Ziya walked in, they raised their heads and gazed at him.
“They’re asleep already.”
“Many thanks.” Jiang Qibing finally closed his notebook computer and said in concern, “You should hurry and go sleep, too. You still have class tomorrow, right?”
“Yeah. The class is at ten o’clock tomorrow, so there’s no hurry. I’m going to call Lu Yang.”
Hearing that, Jiang Qibing only shook his head and said, “Youngsters sure like to stay up late.”
After they left the living room, Jiang Ziya quickly dialed a number. Once the call went through, he immediately said hurriedly, “House Keeper, it’s you, right? This is Jiang Ziya. Please don’t tell Yu Shu that I called. Is she beside you?”
“The mistress is currently in the shower.”
Hearing that, Jiang Ziya heaved a sigh of relief. He just knew that such a lazy person like Yu Shu definitely wouldn’t take the initiative to pick up the phone. Moreover, he even ran into the timing where she was showering and not around. This was truly a good opportunity!
“That’s perfect. I have something to ask you. What do I have to do to make Xiao Xue come true?”
“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.”
Hearing this statement that he had already heard numerous times, Jiang Ziya felt momentarily helpless. “I’ve already called Xiao Xue’s name several hundreds of times, let alone thrice. My sister is also calling Xiao Xue’s name the entire day. So why is it that she still can’t come true?”
House Keeper fell silent for a moment and answered, “It is not the regular way of calling.”
“Then, how should I call her?” That was the question that Jiang Ziya had been wanting to ask.
House Keeper seemed troubled as he said, “I do not know… No, I do know. However, I do not know how to explain it. The gist of it is that you must believe in her existence.”
“I do believe that Xiao Xue exists!” Jiang Ziya felt even more confused by that. Xiao Xue stands right in front of me, so why would I suspect her existence?
“You must forget that she is not human.”
Forget? Jiang Ziya froze at that. How could I possibly forget such a thing? No matter how forgetful a person is, they couldn’t possibly forget something that’s roving back and forth before their eyes, right? Moreover, I can even see her joints so clearly, so how could I forget—oh wait, I did forget about Jiang Jiang.
But is Jiang Jiang really a fake? He was still unwilling to believe that. Although there was evidence upon evidence to prove it, he clearly had memories of Jiang Jiang. Moreover, there were so many products for little girls at home. How could it be possible for Jiang Jiang to not exist?
“Jiang… Ziya.” House Keeper called a little hesitantly. He was unused to communicating with anyone aside from Yu Shu, and had practically never called anyone something other than “Mistress.”
“This afternoon, you said that you have read the mistress’s novels. Then, you must already know my true name. Isn’t that so?”
When Jiang Ziya, who was currently deep in worry, heard this question, he casually replied, “Yeah, I know it. Isn’t it Char—” He abruptly stopped, feeling cold sweat break out all over his back in that instance.
A sigh came over the telephone.
“Please do not be worried. It is not that simple to call a name. All I want is to hear my ‘name’ once more.”
Once more? Jiang Ziya blurted out, “Was it Yu Shu who has called your name before?”
“Indeed. The mistress called me forth, but I do not remember the name. All I remember was that when I heard it, it was as though I had come to life—ah, the sound of water has stopped. The mistress is most likely coming out soon. If you do not wish for the mistress to find out about this, I would probably have to hang up.”
Jiang Ziya quickly asked, “Last question. Can we not burn Xiao Xue?”
“The mistress rarely pays heed to things outside of her novels. However, it appears that she is serious this time. I am afraid that it would be difficult to change her mind—the bathroom door is opening.”
Over the phone, the “toot toot toot” sounds indicated that the call had ended, and there was nothing more that Jiang Ziya could do. The call had practically been a waste of time, for he still did not know how to make Xiao Xue come true.
Just as he was deep in thought, he suddenly saw a small shadow reflected in the glass of the picture frame hanging on the wall. He jerked his head back, only to see a little girl standing behind him, staring at him with unblinking eyes.
Although she did not say anything, Jiang Ziya still felt a little guilty. He said, “Jiang Jiang, why aren’t you sleeping? It’s already very late. Your mama will scold you for this.”
The little girl answered obediently, “Wanted to pee.”
Jiang Jiang nodded her head, and Jiang Ziya walked up to her, saying, “Let’s go, Gēge will bring you back to your room.”
However, she did not respond. She said quietly, “Gēge, I like Xiao Xue.”
Jiang Ziya fell silent for a moment, before he then answered, “I also like Xiao Xue.”
Jiang Jiang smiled. She nodded her head vigorously, and then reached out both arms for a hug. Jiang Ziya picked her up and carried her back to the room, where Xiao Xue was still lying on the bed, sleeping peacefully—do dolls also need to sleep?
Jiang Ziya put Jiang Jiang on the bed. The two girls lay there, one on the left and one on the right. With their two identical cute faces, and wearing pajamas of the same style but in different colors, they truly looked incomparably adorable.
Isn’t it great that they’re a pair of twins? Even if she isn’t real, it should be fine, right? Yu Shu mentioned herself that as long as one forgets that Jiang Jiang is not real, and lets her grow up, it would be highly likely that there wouldn’t be any problems. So why can’t we do the same for Xiao Xue?
As for killer dolls and such, Jiang Ziya had the confidence that he wouldn’t think of such things. Very well, tomorrow it is then! Tomorrow, he would head over to Yu Shu’s and tell her that he didn’t want to burn Xiao Xue anymore. If she tried to do so by brute force, then h-he would threaten her with calling the police!
He looked once again at the two adorable faces of the girls and felt firmer in his resolve. He turned off the light, changing it to a nightlight, and was just about to exit the room when he had an odd feeling—there seemed to be someone behind him.
In truth, he often had this feeling. He had also asked others before and found out that it was not anything strange. Everyone would have experienced it at some point of time—when standing in the darkness, it would always feel like there was a pair of eyes silently observing you. The only difference was that when other people turned around, there was usually nothing behind them, and they were just mistaken. Yet when he turned back, it would always be…
He drew in a deep breath, and quickly turned to look at the balcony—
After he recognized the other person, Jiang Ziya stayed speechless for a long time. He then recovered and quietly cursed in rage, “What were you standing behind me silently for? You nearly scared me to death—wait a moment, how did you get in?”
“I climbed up,” Lu Yang explained succinctly.
Climbed… my home isn’t on the first or second floor; this place is over ten stories tall! So not only can you vanquish demons, you can even leap onto roofs and vault over walls like a phantom thief?
Jiang Ziya realized that his understanding of his friend was really paper-thin.
At this point, Lu Yang’s gaze shifted onto the twins on the bed. His expression was stern, which was not unfamiliar to Jiang Ziya. After all, when he had faced the death god, he had had the exact same expression.
Jiang Ziya tried to shift over to the front of the bed, blocking the twins behind him with his body.
“We’ll go talk in my room for now,” he said quietly, almost begging.
What made him heave a sigh of relief was that Lu Yang did not protest and even took the lead and left the room first. Just now, Jiang Ziya had been really worried that “Slay” would suddenly pop out and be used to vanquish Xiao Xue without a word, giving him no time to even stop him.
Once they were in his room, Lu Yang launched into action. He interrogated, “Jiang Ziya, do you care to explain what that thing is?”
“What are you talking about?” Jiang Ziya still tried to hide the truth. Perhaps Lu Yang wasn’t that sure and was possibly just testing him. Moreover, he was also unsure whether Lu Yang had just discovered that something was wrong with Xiao Xue, or if he had also found out about Jiang Jiang.
“The one lying beside Jiang Jiang!” Lu Yang reminded forcefully.
It seems like Jiang Jiang hasn’t been exposed. Jiang Ziya felt relieved at that, but he was also nervous about Xiao Xue’s current situation. He quickly said, “She is my niece too, Xiao Xue!”
“Your niece?” Lu Yang flew into a rage, “She isn’t human at all! Ziya, you’ve been tricked—”
At this point, he suddenly realized that something was off. He felt a little odd as he commented, “If even I can see it, there is no way for you to be tricked by her. She is not your niece, merely an artifact demon!”
Artifact what? Jiang Ziya froze. This was really the first time he had heard this term.
Seeing how he was unable to just let it pass, he could only try to defend Xiao Xue, “I don’t know what that artifact demon you mentioned is, but Xiao Xue has never hurt me. She even saved me before! Just now, in the supermarket, if it weren’t for her luring those things away, Lin Zhixiang and I would have been dead meat!”
Lu Yang furiously said, “She lured them away? How could you be so sure that it’s not a trap that she set up?”
Jiang Ziya was startled by that. He truly had not considered that possibility. However, after thinking about it, he felt that it was not Xiao Xue’s doing.
“She isn’t even a ‘lie’! Didn’t you say that the person who conjured that supermarket was someone that even you can’t handle? Xiao Xue absolutely doesn’t have that kind of ability!”
Lu Yang froze, and his tone seemed odd as he said, “You actually even know about ‘lies’? Who told you that? When exactly were you dragged so deeply into this?”
Jiang Ziya felt perplexed at that too. Just a few days ago when he had returned home and realized that there was an extra girl, the world had changed. At first, only his left eye had been strange, but within these few days, he was starting to feel that perhaps it was the entire world itself that was strange.
“Or did you already know all these since a long time ago?” Lu Yang asked, a little hesitant.
Jiang Ziya said unhappily, “How is that possible? If that was so, would I still need you to come over and save me when we were in the supermarket? I would have just saved the whole world myself!”
“That might not be the case. No matter how I look at it, you’re a support type character and not a combat type.”
“Yeah, and I’m even a priest who will heal you! You think this is a game?!” Although Jiang Ziya had never come into contact with games before, he would at least know a few things just by listening to his classmates talk about them.
After this nonsensical exchange, the atmosphere between the two finally lightened a bit. Lu Yang sighed, “Ziya, you wouldn’t be able to control her.”
“I don’t want to control her!” Jiang Ziya had never thought about that before. He continued, “I only want her to become my sister’s daughter as well. That’s all.”
Lu Yang seemed vexed as he said, “Please, you definitely can’t keep that kind of thing at home. Maybe she doesn’t want to hurt you right now, but artifact demons are always born out of a strong drive or desire. If it’s not love, then it’s hatred. Do you know which kind the one in your family falls under?”
Of course not. It had never occurred to Jiang Ziya as to how Xiao Xue had been “born.” After he had found out that she was a doll that Jiang Yu used to play with, he had thought that she had come to life because of the passage of time… but if that was the case, then the entire world would be filled with dolls turned into humans, and that wasn’t true, right?
For the sake of convincing Jiang Ziya, Lu Yang explained in detail, “As for the artifact demons I have met before, nine out of ten were born out of hatred. As for the remaining one, perhaps they would not hurt the one they love, but they would hurt anyone who comes close to their loved one.” His tone became stern as he said, “Therefore, we must burn her!”
Burn, burn, burn, why does everyone want to burn Xiao Xue! Jiang Ziya glared at him in anger as he enunciated each word, “She saved me before!”
“But it’s possible that she’ll kill you!” Lu Yang was even more stubborn than he was, and he continued, “And your beloved family! The highest possibility being Jiang Jiang, because she can then replace her. The person she loves probably isn’t Jiang Jiang, right? Although it’s not definite, artifact demons usually need a period of time before they can form, and Jiang Jiang is too young, so it wouldn’t be her! Most likely, it’s your sis?”
What an accurate guess.
Looking at his reaction, Lu Yang knew he had hit the nail on the head. He added on, “In order to monopolize your sis, there’s a high possibility that she would hurt Jiang Jiang. Don’t tell me that you’re not worried for Jiang Jiang’s safety?”
Jiang Ziya was unable to voice his reasons.
Based on what he had seen so far, Jiang Jiang would probably only need to wave her hands, and Xiao Xue would be turned into ashes. The one whose safety he should be worried about is Xiao Xue. He didn’t need to worry about Jiang Jiang at all.
Lu Yang said in frustration, “I don’t want anything to happen to you just because of a moment’s soft-heartedness! Trust me, I have seen too many precedents. In the end, these artifact demons would only lead to a tragic end. I know that many of them didn’t have any intentions to hurt others! But really, in the end, it always results in tragedy!”
Jiang Ziya stared at Lu Yang in a daze. What exactly has he been through?
“She saved me before, and my sis and the others really like Xiao Xue a lot!”
“They will not remember her. According to what you said, she is not even a ‘lie.’ Then logically speaking, she is unable to affect too many people’s memories. Once she is not around anymore, your sister and your brother-in-law will regain their original memories and would not even remember her.”
At this point, Lu Yang did not intend to drag things out anymore. He said, “I’ll go deal with her. You wait here.”
Jiang Ziya immediately rushed up to grab Lu Yang.
No matter what, he could not let him make a move immediately. Jiang Jiang was also there. If she did anything for the sake of protecting Xiao Xue, Lu Yang might find out that something was off about Jiang Jiang too.
Jiang Jiang was the bottom line.
His sister and brother-in-law needed Jiang Jiang, no matter what she was, so nothing must happen to her!
“… You don’t believe what I said?”
Jiang Ziya looked at Lu Yang with a serious expression and answered, “I believe you.”
Lu Yang’s tightly wound face finally relaxed a little.
“But don’t do it in my home. What if you wake up my sister and brother-in-law, and they saw that scene? Just leave first. I-I…” Jiang Ziya gritted his teeth and said, “I’ll trick her into going out, and you deal with her outside!”
Hearing that, Lu Yang felt that it made sense. Even if he ambushed her, he didn’t have the confidence to defeat her within seconds. If Jiang Yu and Jiang Qibing were to see that, it would be really difficult to explain. After all, he didn’t have the ability to manipulate memories.
He nodded his head in agreement and reminded Jiang Ziya, “Okay, but the sooner, the better.”
The sooner, the… Jiang Ziya’s heart immediately sank.
Just as House Keeper was sweeping the floor, he heard the doorbell ring. He instantly drew the curtains closed to make the room a little darker, and then brought the seal over and opened the door. After all, nine out of ten times, the person coming to the door would be the postman.
Once the door opened, Jiang Ziya was standing outside, staring at him.
House Keeper found it a little difficult to react in time, and the seal was still raised in mid-air. Then, he gave a small smile and greeted, “Good morning.”
Jiang Ziya opened his mouth, but he found himself at a loss for words, so he merely greeted back, “Morning.”
House Keeper stood there silently, waiting. Jiang Ziya shot a glance past him and said hesitantly, “Yu Shu is…”
“The mistress is still sleeping. She would only wake up when it is at least half past ten.”
Jiang Ziya heaved a sigh of relief and promptly said, “House Keeper! Help me. What do I have to do so Xiao Xue won’t have to be burned?”
House Keeper tilted his head to one side and said, “If you made her come true, the mistress probably would not want to burn her anymore.”
“How do I do that?”
“Calling their name once—”
“Fine, fine. I get it. No need to say the rest.”
Jiang Ziya felt a little weak at that. Looking at House Keeper, he felt a little frustrated and could not help but say, “Both you and Xiao Xue are the same, right? Since Yu Shu herself called you out, then why must Xiao Xue be burned?”
House Keeper’s expression did not change much. He judged the matter in a business-like fashion, “Most likely, it is because the mistress is able to control me. If I lost control, it is very easy for her to make me disappear. Therefore, there is no need to worry.”
Jiang Ziya froze.
“Moreover, there are still some differences between me and ‘Xiao Xue.’ She is an artifact demon, and those are usually more dangerous.”
There are even different types? Jiang Ziya asked in shock, “You mean you’re not an artifact demon?”
“Indeed not. I remember that the category I fall into should be called illusory familiars.”
Jiang Ziya’s interest was piqued. He could not resist asking, “What is the difference between an artifact demon and an illusory familiar?”
After pondering it over, House Keeper said, “The mistress has not given me much knowledge on this topic. All I know is that I do not have an actual body. However, artifact demons are born from an actual artifact, which has usually existed for some time, so they would be stronger in comparison.
“Moreover, they are born out of a strong drive or desire. Therefore, they would already possess feelings at birth. Compared to an illusory familiar, they are more likely to become an existence stronger than a ‘lie’.”
“Do you not have them?” Jiang Ziya suddenly asked.
“What do you mean?” House Keeper stared at him in confusion.
“Feelings. Don’t you have feelings?” Jiang Ziya simply could not believe it. A living person standing in front of him—um, although he would always accidentally see the truth with his left eye. But otherwise, he was someone who could speak, could respond, and would smile. How is it possible that he doesn’t possess feelings?
House Keeper appeared troubled for a moment and then replied, “I believe that I do not possess them. When the mistress called me, she only imparted to me ‘knowledge.’ From what I know, there are very few examples of an illusory familiar being able to generate feelings. It is practically impossible for them to turn into an existence greater than a ‘lie,’ thus—”
“Thus they are not very threatening, and it is fine even if you don’t burn them, because they can’t turn into a ‘lie.’”
Jiang Ziya froze at that. Yu Shu walked out from behind House Keeper, glaring relentlessly at him.
She menacingly asked, “Asking House Keeper these questions, what exactly are you planning?”
“I-I just…” Since he was caught red-handed, Jiang Ziya was at a loss as to what to do.
Yu Shu’s face darkened, and she interrogated, “It can’t be that you’re thinking of keeping that doll, right? Let me tell you, no way! Today, I’m going to order a doll. Once the body arrives, I’ll immediately go over and burn her!”
Hearing that, Jiang Ziya flew into a towering rage. Burn, burn, burn, why does everyone want to burn Xiao Xue so badly? What exactly has she done? She hasn’t even done anything bad!
Jiang Ziya shouted in rage, “Why don’t you go and deal with Xiao Xue yourself. Since you could summon House Keeper, then you should have a way to deal with her, right? What’s the big deal, telling House Keeper to burn his own kind?”
“House Keeper already told you a lot. Don’t tell me you still don’t understand the situation? They’re not the same kind!” Yu Shu’s face sank and she said, “You don’t want to burn her, but it’s not like I want to hear her shrieks as she is being burned either!”
“She will shriek?” Jiang Ziya only heard the last few words, and he muttered, “She will feel pain? Can dolls feel pain?”
Yu Shu fell silent for a moment and answered, “Yes. She will shriek so loud, it would resonate to the heavens, and then she will finally turn quiet.”
It was only a few words, but they practically rendered Jiang Ziya speechless.
Yu Shu said sternly, “But we still have to do it! If not, the one shrieking would be you and your sister. Take your pick!”
Yu Shu and Lu Yang, two people who did not know each other in the slightest, both said the same thing—burn Xiao Xue.
What else could Jiang Ziya do?
If it were just him, he could gamble on it. He could gamble that Xiao Xue would not change. But at home, there was still his sister and brother-in-law. He couldn’t afford to gamble!
Faced with this multiple choice dilemma, Jiang Ziya was truly flustered. He didn’t want to murder anyone. Even if Xiao Xue technically wasn’t human, which part of her didn’t seem human?
“Why would all this suddenly happen? I don’t understand… Why is it that I had merely gone home normally like always, but things turned out like this?”
Yu Shu snorted, “What are you complaining about? There are always many mishaps in life. Do you think that all those victims of car accidents wanted to be involved? Your accident was merely slightly different from a regular person’s. Moreover, you still have room to make a choice. That’s already pretty good!”
Jiang Ziya fell silent for long. He then said, “If… I’m just saying if! If I could control Xiao Xue just like you can, then—”
Yu Shu fiercely interrupted his words, “Even I only dare to turn House Keeper into an ‘illusion,’ and your Xiao Xue is already on the verge of becoming a ‘lie.’ You only have the truth-seeing eye, and it’s only one eye to boot. Controlling her, my ass! Do you think you can turn your eyes into laser beams and glare her to death?”
“What happens if she becomes a ‘lie?’”
You sure have a lot of questions!
Yu Shu’s face was so sour, it resembled overnight leftovers. She forced herself to calm down as she said, “The difference between an ‘illusion’ and a ‘lie’ is roughly like a child becoming a gun-wielding special forces squad member.”
What kind of metaphor is this! The jump is too big!
“Wait up, then what about those who have come ‘true’?” Jiang Ziya suddenly felt that things didn’t look good. After all, he had one at home!
If just jumping up a rank to ”lie” would make it an armed squad, then what would the ”truth” be? Superman?
Yu Shu frowned as she said, “For those who have come ‘true,’ I heard that they either turn into real, ordinary people, or they…”
Seeing Jiang Ziya’s earnest expression while listening to her, she suddenly didn’t feel like elaborating further. She said unhappily, “Why do you need to know so much? Anyways, your family’s Jiang Jiang looks like she turned into a human, so you don’t have to worry about it! Compared to worrying about something that you can’t possibly encounter, worrying about whether you would lose control, slip, and fall while riding a motorbike would be more practical.”
Don’t you think that you are contradicting yourself? What do you mean by can’t possibly encounter? Isn’t Jiang Jiang already one?
Yu Shu waved her hand impatiently, saying, “Go to school obediently. I’ll deal with your family’s problems, so consider yourself lucky for living across from me!”
After a moment’s hesitation, Jiang Ziya still decided to answer, “But my classmate also says that he will dispose her. He’s asking me to trick Xiao Xue and get her to go out.”
“Oh? Your classmate? Are you sure that he is really going to dispose her?”
“What do you mean?” When Jiang Ziya heard that, he thought that something wasn’t quite right with that statement.
Yu Shu gave a laugh and then replied, “An artifact demon that is on the verge of becoming a ‘lie’… If you had the means to sell her, in return you would receive a sum of money that you would never have seen in your entire lifetime. However, you are just an ordinary person, so it’s best if you don’t let others know too much. Otherwise, you would most likely only receive a large number of robbers.” She paused before she added on, “The kind that would kill for money.”
“Lu Yang is not a robber!” Jiang Ziya exclaimed with utter certainty.
Yu Shu made no comment on that and merely made two “hmph” noises. She continued, “It doesn’t really make a difference as to who deals with her. Anyways, I will need about a week before I can summon another illusion. A week later, if you and your classmate haven’t settled the issue, it won’t be too late for me to make a move then.”
Even without Lu Yang, there was still Yu Shu. Jiang Ziya was struck with melancholy regarding Xiao Xue’s fate, for it seemed impossible to escape.
“Go to class, university student!” Yu Shu gave a big yawn as said unclearly, “I’m going back to sleep. I haven’t woken up so early in eight hundred years.”
Early, like hell! It’s already over half past nine!
“I’m leaving.” Jiang Ziya angrily turned and left.
He stopped in his tracks, looking back at Yu Shu in confusion. As for the other, she was currently leaning against the door lazily.
“It would be best for you to continue on like before and pretend not to see anything.”
At the moment, Jiang Ziya really hated himself for being able to see so clearly. If he wasn’t able to see, and he didn’t know exactly what Xiao Xue was, then would he have been able to escape this current predicament?
“You said that she will shriek, so just not being able to see isn’t enough, right?”
He would have to pretend to be blind, to be unable to see Xiao Xue. He would also have to pretend to be deaf, to be unable to hear her screams. If that wasn’t enough, he would also have to throw his conscience away in order to trick her into going out and pass her over to his classmate to burn.