Illusions, Lies, Truth Volume 1: Human Doll Contract Part One
Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 4: Lu Yang Part 3—Qing Wei Gong—translated by Raylight (proofread by Trespasserby; C/E edited by lucathia)
“Umm… Ziya? Ziya?”
Jiang Ziya was in the middle of stocking the books on the bookshelf when he suddenly heard his name. He then automatically turned to look.
A man wearing an apron, with hair in a small ponytail and a pair of golden-framed glasses on his face, said helplessly, “You have already put that pile of books onto the bookshelves and taken it off numerous times.”
Jiang Ziya froze, and then quickly put the books back on the bookshelves. He said, “I’m sorry, Boss. I was zoning out.”
The person in front of him was the owner of Jiu Ge Bookstore, Fu Taiyi. He asked in concern, “What’s wrong? I seldom see you so absent-minded.”
“Nothing. Maybe I just slept too late yesterday…” Jiang Ziya said, feeling a little guilty. However, it was also the truth. Last night, thinking about the issue with Xiao Xue had made him unable to fall asleep, and he didn’t know how long he had lain there before he had truly fallen asleep.
Taiyi shook his head and sighed, “As a young man, to be this dispirited just from an occasional late-nighter, you’re too weak! Even this old man isn’t that feeble.”
You better be an old man! Jiang Ziya felt his face twitch at that. In truth, he didn’t know how old the boss was. He already had a son who was in elementary school, so logically speaking, he should have some years on him. However, he doesn’t look any older than my brother-in-law. At most, he should only be in his thirties?
In response to this guess, the boss had only said that he was baby-faced but refused to share his age, claiming that hiding one’s age was a man’s romance.
“What’s wrong?” Fu Taiyi’s face softened, and he inquired, “You’re especially quiet today and look a bit off. Come and tell Fu-gēge what’s wrong.”
“… I’m fine.”
Fu Taiyi still had a face of concern and gazed at him with an extremely gentle look. All that was left was for him to say, “If you want to cry, you can come cry in my embrace.”
“I’m really fine!”
“Really?” Fu Taiyi was still a little unwilling to believe him and added on, “You can talk about anything! Especially about complications with the opposite gender. I, Fu-gēge, will be very happy to answer your queries!”
“…” Does Xiao Xue count as a complication with the opposite gender? “There’s no such thing!”
Fu Taiyi sighed and lamented, “You can’t continue on this way, or you’ll end up as an old father!”
“I’m only twenty!”
“That’s exactly when your body is strong and healthy, the best time to have a child!”
Jiang Ziya felt that his boss must have had a screw loose in his head since birth, and that was why he behaved like something was wrong with his head. Even Fu Jun, who was still an elementary school student, behaved more maturely than his father. Jiang Ziya sometimes felt that his boss was actually Fu Jun and not Fu Taiyi.
“Is Lu Yang coming over later today?” Fu Taiyi asked curiously, with a hint of mischief.
Jiang Ziya hesitated before he answered, “I don’t know. He took the day off and didn’t come to school.”
“Is he sick?” Fu Taiyi seemed a bit surprised.
Jiang Ziya paused for a moment. He shouldn’t be, right? He was still fine yesterday.
“You didn’t call and ask?”
Fu Taiyi found it slightly strange, for these two frequently came in and left at the same time. It was almost to the point that he had started worrying whether their relationship was “too good.” If it weren’t for the fact that Lu Yang would take part in group dates from time to time, he would really grab the two for a good lecture.
Jiang Ziya felt a little guilty. When he saw that Lu Yang had not come to class, he had heaved a sigh of relief. That was because this way, he wouldn’t have to give an account for when he was going to trick Xiao Xue into coming out. Of course, he didn’t call and ask after him either.
It wasn’t that Jiang Ziya didn’t care about him. He merely felt that he had still been fine last night, and nothing big should have happened within the span of one night. Therefore, he wasn’t very concerned that he had skipped class.
But now that the boss had raised his concerns, he too realized that something was off. Although Lu Yang looked like a flirtatious playboy, the truth was that he seldom skipped class. Even though his grades weren’t very good, he had never failed a class either. It was definitely very strange for him to suddenly skip class without any notification in advance.
“I’ll call and ask now.”
Fu Taiyi immediately nodded his head, and Jiang Ziya felt a little helpless at that. Other people’s bosses wouldn’t permit private calls in the middle of work, but his boss would enthusiastically encourage him to do so.
But then again, it was possible that the boss just wanted to get Lu Yang to come and look after the store, so that he could seize the chance to skip out on work.
“No one’s picking up.” Jiang Ziya frowned. He could feel that something was off. For such a severe smartphone-addict like Lu Yang, who could survive without anything as long as he had his phone, how was it possible that the call wouldn’t connect?
“Go over to his house and take a look. I’ll give you a day off!” Fu Taiyi patted his chest and promised, “But on the way back, remember to buy roasted chicken wings from the store that Xiao Dong likes the most.”
Jiang Ziya awkwardly said, “But I’ve never been to his home.”
“You’ve never been there?” Fu Taiyi seemed surprised as he said, “I thought that all that was left for you two to do was to propose.”
Boss, you definitely have more than a screw loose in the head!
“I have Lu Yang’s address, but I don’t know how to get there.”
If it were Lu Yang, he would probably start using the GPS on his phone. Although Jiang Ziya had Fu Jun’s phone, he didn’t know how to use those complicated functions.
“Let me look at the address.”
Jiang Ziya passed his own phone to Fu Taiyi, and the latter frowned and said, “Oh, this address looks so familiar. I remember this place seems to be… Sigh, I might as well bring you over. Let’s close the shop first—”
“Wait up! Fu Taiyi.”
The two looked back and saw Fu Jun currently standing at the stairs with his arms folded over his chest. He seemed to be critical as he interrogated, “You’re closing the shop to go where again?”
Fu Taiyi said earnestly, “I heard that Lu Yang didn’t go to school today. I’m so worried for that kid, so I wanted to give Ziya a day off to visit his sick friend.”
Hold on, no one said that Lu Yang is sick, right? Jiang Ziya was torn between laughter and tears as he looked at his own boss.
“But it just so happens that Ziya only knows the address but not how to get there, so I was thinking of spending some time to take him over.”
And then, you definitely won’t come back to open the store! Jiang Ziya was ninety-nine percent sure of that.
Fu Jun evidently was all too aware of that. He glared at his own father and said, “I’ll bring Ziya-gē over. You stay here and man the shop!”
Once he heard that, Fu Taiyi immediately changed his face, like being struck by a bolt out of the blue. He exclaimed, “N-No way! You’re still an elementary school student! How could you go wandering around at night!”
Fu Jun instantly glared at his father when he heard that, and he said, fuming, “Then, what about that time when you asked me to go out by myself to buy roasted chicken wings for your late night snack? So I could wander around at that time?”
Jiang Ziya gazed at his boss with pitiful eyes. To think he even said that it was Xiao Dong’s favorite store, when it was evident that he was the one who wanted to eat it.
No matter how thick-skinned he was, Fu Taiyi couldn’t say that he was going over after that. He could only say grievingly, “Okay then. You go then. When you return, remember to buy the chicken wings.”
Fu Jun nodded his head earnestly and replied, “Okay. You man the store obediently. Don’t run away, and you have to work seriously! If I come back and you haven’t sold a single book or piece of stationery, then I will finish the chicken wings by myself!”
Fu Taiyi’s face looked as though disaster had struck again, and he wailed, “How could you do that? What if there really are no customers? It’s not the weekend today!”
“I don’t care.” Fu Jun raised his chin and said, “If you don’t sell anything, you won’t get your chicken wings!”
Jiang Ziya knew he was right in thinking that the boss of this shop was actually Fu Jun.
“Are you sure this is the place?”
Jiang Ziya felt slightly dazed, his tone extremely uncertain.
Fu Jun said confidently, “Yeah! Taiyi says this is the place. The address on the door plate is correct too. If not, you can take a look yourself.” He pointed at the door plate at the side.
Jiang Ziya had already spotted it, but he was still in disbelief that Lu Yang’s house was actually—
No wonder Lu Yang had never invited him over to his home before.
At the front of the temple, a plaque displayed, “Qing Wei Gong.” Jiang Ziya couldn’t tell what kind of temple it was, for he had always been the kind of believer who just picked up incense and started praying, without being able to name the statue of the god in front of him.
There were few people in the temple at night. Looking in from outside, he could only see a few old men who had moved a few wooden benches and tables to play chess by the wall and a few elderly women sweeping the floor. None of them looked like people who had come to pray.
Jiang Ziya could only force himself to be thick-skinned as he walked into the temple, and the combination of him and an elementary school student like Fu Jun immediately attracted everyone’s attention. Jiang Ziya walked over to the nearest person, an old woman sweeping the floor, and asked, “I am looking for my university classmate. His name is Lu Yang. May I ask if he lives here?”
The woman looked to be in her seventies or eighties. The moment she heard what Jiang Ziya said, she beamed as she asked, “Are you Xiao Yang’s classmate?”
Those elders sitting by the wall also stretched their ears, staring even more intently at Jiang Ziya.
Jiang Ziya nodded his head, feeling at a loss as to what to do. He did not have any elders at home, so he was not very good at associating with them.
“Granny, may I ask if Lu Yang-gēge is here?”
When the old woman heard that, she was immediately all smiles as she exclaimed, “What an adorable and obedient child! Xiao Yang left for class at around nine or so and hasn’t returned yet.”
Jiang Ziya’s face darkened. Lu Yang didn’t go to school at all! So not only did he skip class, he even came up with an excuse to deceive his family members?
No, it would have been more likely for Jiang Ziya himself to have done such a thing because Lu Yang unexpectedly enjoyed going to school a lot. Although his results were not considered top-notch, he had already mentioned that his family wasn’t too concerned about his grades. Even attending university was already considered too much of an education and thus unnecessary.
Come to think of it, could the reason he doesn’t need a very good degree be that he’s going to take over the temple?
Thinking about Lu Yang’s mixed-blood looks, along with his fashionable clothes, even if you claimed he was a model, no one would doubt it. For him to become a… What’s it called? An abbot?
The discrepancy is so large, it’s practically record-breaking!
However, this abbot with a record-breaking discrepancy seems to be really effective… Thinking about the sword that Lu Yang had, Jiang Ziya felt that he must never judge someone based on their appearance in the future. After all, if there is already a mixed-blood model abbot, then what else could be possible?
“You can call him!” The elderly woman reminded him enthusiastically, “He will definitely pick up your call! If he doesn’t, then he’ll call back.”
Jiang Ziya was in a bind. It was precisely because he couldn’t get the call to go through that he came over! Now, he also couldn’t tell whether or not Lu Yang had lied and skipped class. Although the possibility was low, Jiang Ziya didn’t want to—
At this moment, Fu Jun suddenly said, “Pass me my phone.”
Jiang Ziya searched for the phone in his backpack and handed it over to him, feeling a little relieved. He was slightly worried about losing such an expensive item, which would make him really want to cry. He still owed Yu Shu ten thousand and didn’t even know how to pay it back!
“Auntie, do you know where Lu Yang usually goes after class?” Jiang Ziya decided that there was no harm in calling her by a younger address.
The old woman smiled and said, “You can call me Granny like Xiao Yang does! I’m his grandmother!”
So she’s Ah Yang’s grandma! Jiang Ziya quickly added on, “Granny!”
The woman smiled even brighter than when she had been called “Auntie” just now. The few elders sitting by the wall laughed as they said, “Xiao Chun-sǎo just likes to go around taking in grandsons.”
“It can’t be helped. She likes children a lot, but there’s only Xiao Yang at home!”
At this point, Fu Jun tugged on Jiang Ziya’s clothes and handed him the phone, saying, “I managed to call through to Lu Yang-gē’s phone.”
Jiang Ziya froze and took the phone. He tried saying, “Ah Yang?”
Over the phone, he heard Lu Yang exclaim in a shocked tone, “Ziya, it really is you? How did you manage to call through?”
“Why not? Are you in a place with poor reception—”
Jiang Ziya suddenly stopped. He remembered that when he had been trapped in the supermarket, he could not call through either. Adding that with Lu Yang skipping class, he was momentarily struck with an ominous feeling. He immediately shouted, “Ah Yang, where are you? Could it be that you’ve encountered ‘that kind of thing,’ like I had?”
Over the phone, he heard a vague reply, “What are you talking about…”
Once he heard that vague tone, Jiang Ziya immediately made the judgment, “Lu Yang is trying to lie.” He threatened, “Don’t give me that bullshit, or else I’ll immediately reveal that you didn’t go to class today and are currently in danger! I’m telling you, I’m at your house right now!”
At the side, Fu Jun shot a glance at him. When Jiang Ziya had shouted that loudly, all those present had heard him. It seems that he has already revealed him? Did he forget out of anxiety, or did he do it on purpose?
“You’re at my house?” Lu Yang sounded very surprised at that.
“Yeah! You didn’t come to class, and your phone wouldn’t connect, so I came over.”
A deep intake of breath was heard over the phone. Lu Yang sounded very unwilling as he said, “Then, look for my grandpa, and tell him that I encountered a practitioner and have been trapped.”
“You’ve been trapped?” Jiang Ziya received a shock and promptly questioned, “Where?”
“Go find my grandpa and get him to listen.” Lu Yang said persistently, “Anyways, you wouldn’t be of any help!”
Jiang Ziya angrily shouted, “At least, I have a left eye that isn’t useless, okay?”
“Don’t tell me you’re planning to use your left eye to help me glare things to death… Anyways, I will… Don’t do anything silly…”
A large amount of static suddenly came over the phone, occasionally obscuring Lu Yang’s words. Jiang Ziya could only hear bits and pieces of it, and he could only quickly shout, “Ah Yang, I can’t hear what you are saying. Ah Yang?”
No matter how he shouted, the call still disconnected. Jiang Ziya could only follow Lu Yang’s instructions and rapidly inquire, “May I ask where Lu Yang’s grandpa is?”
Xiao Chun-sǎo seemed worried as she said, “My husband has been out since yesterday! Calls haven’t connected for a day already.”
All the elderly present shook their heads and said, “This pair of grandfather and grandson is sure similar!”
Ring, ring, ring—
“Ah Yang?” Jiang Ziya immediately picked up. Then, a sudden wave of white noise came over, the volume loud enough that he reflexively shifted the phone away. However, he quickly pulled the phone back to his ear and anxiously shouted, “Ah—”
“Bring that artifact demon over to exchange for him.”
This isn’t Lu Yang’s voice! It was a voice that was a little low and rough, and it sounded like the person had some years on him. Jiang Ziya was stunned and asked doubtfully, “Who are you?”
No answer came from the other person. He merely said coldly, “Bring over that artifact demon to exchange within an hour. Otherwise…”
The cold laughter that came over the phone made Jiang Ziya’s heart sink further and further. So the reason the person trapped Lu Yang is to obtain Xiao Xue?
“You’re the one who trapped me in the supermarket!” Jiang Ziya abruptly realized. What the death god and that masked man had said before was true. They really had not trapped him in there, and instead had saved Lin Zhixiang and made a door for them to escape.
What is most important is that—
The reason Lu Yang was captured is because of me!
If the person wanted Xiao Xue, why didn’t they come to catch me? Why capture Lu Yang?
“I’ll give you half an hour to trick the artifact demon into coming out. Half an hour later, I will inform you of the exchange point.”
Once he said that, he immediately hung up. Although Jiang Ziya wanted to redial, he was unable to do so because there was no caller ID.
He was at a complete loss as to what to do. At this time, Fu Jun shook his hand and shouted, “Ziya-gē.”
When he looked up, he immediately saw the unblinking gazes of the elders, which were all so sharp that the elders didn’t feel like old people at all. Jiang Ziya could only meekly answer, “Lu Yang has been trapped. The other person told me to bring… to bring…”
He didn’t know how to explain the “ransom” to them. He couldn’t possibly say that the kidnapper wanted him to bring his niece over to exchange for Lu Yang, right? It would be weird if they didn’t suspect anything!
An elder sitting by the wall sighed. “That foolish child. Master Ah Lu already taught him a long time ago that demons and spirits are no match for corrupt human hearts. In the end, he was still tricked! That is simply foolish!”
“That is not the case.” Another elder disagreed, “Although Xiao Yang is a little simple-minded, he usually does a good job!”
“Foolish?” Xiao Chun-sǎo manically shrieked at those present, “How foolish do you think my Xiao Yang is? One says that he’s foolish, and another says that he’s simple-minded. How dumb do you think he is, tell me!”
“Please excuse us! Xiao Chun-sǎo, we don’t mean it like that!” Everyone quickly apologized.
Jiang Ziya was so anxious that he almost could not keep listening. If it weren’t for the fact that they were all elders, he would have most likely grabbed their collars and demanded them to quickly think of something. Instead, he asked, “Please, don’t you all have a way to help Lu Yang?”
The elderly all shook their heads, sighing, “Although Xiao Yang is foolish—”
“Foolish?!” Xiao Chun-sǎo’s shriek pierced through the entire temple.
The others all fell into a coughing fit one by one, as though they had suddenly gotten a serious disease.
Jiang Ziya felt despair at this situation. What’s going on with these elders! Lu Yang is in danger, but they still have the time to quarrel here!
Most likely, Jiang Ziya’s expression had simply looked so awful that one of them sighed and said, “Xiao Yang is truly skilled. If he is unable to break through, then we wouldn’t be able to either! Unless his grandpa is the one going. However, Master Ah Lu isn’t here. Even if he were, he would not care about Xiao Yang. If he knew that his grandson had been tricked by someone, it would already be good if he didn’t curse him to ‘go die!’”
“How could he curse Lu Yang like that?” Jiang Ziya simply found it hard to believe that a grandfather would actually curse his grandson to die.
“My husband used to live by the motto, ‘It’s every man for himself.’ He, Xiao Yang’s mother, and Xiao Yang, all three generations are similar in that way.” Xiao Chun-sǎo deeply sighed as she lamented, “This is fate! Young man, do not be troubled. Xiao Yang is really very skilled, and can resolve the issue on his own. There won’t be any problems!”
Jiang Ziya said in frustration, “If he could resolve the issue on his own, then he would have come to class and wouldn’t have stayed trapped even now. He has already been trapped there since morning. Is this called resolving the issue on his own? Forget it, I won’t depend on you all anymore. I’ll think of something myself!”
He turned to leave, completely ignoring the person shouting behind him, “Wait up, you’re mistaken, young man—”
Fu Jun turned his head back to look, but realized that Jiang Ziya was moving ahead at lightning speed. He quickly ran over to catch up. Only when the two had run past the temple door for quite a distance did he shout, “Ziya-gē!”
Jiang Ziya then remembered that Fu Jun was still following him, and he had forgotten to think of him. He quickly stopped in his tracks and returned to Fu Jun’s side. The latter was panting a little from trying to catch up to him, and when he saw that, he felt even more that he was in the wrong.
He picked up Fu Jun, and the two jumped onto the motorbike. On the way, Jiang Ziya rapidly snaked through the traffic and even ran a red light when there were no vehicles. This made Fu Jun very shocked, for he knew that Jiang Ziya usually kept to traffic rules and wouldn’t miss signaling even once—that was because he did not want to be fined.
About mid-way, Jiang Ziya decided to drop off Fu Jun.
“Xiao Jun, go and buy the chicken wings for Boss. Be careful on the way, and don’t follow strangers, got it?”
The way back from the chicken wing store to Jiu Ge was rather bright, and it wasn’t far away. Since it wasn’t too late yet, and Fu Jun was more mature than his age, Jiang Ziya felt it was okay to let him go back on his own.
He had to go home immediately. One hour is simply too short!
Fu Jun waved his hand to bid him farewell and said, “Bye, Ziya-gē! Remember to leave the phone on!”
Jiang Ziya then remembered that Fu Jun’s phone had once again come back to his possession. He hesitated for a moment, and then recalled that the person mentioned calling again in half an hour’s time. Most likely, he would be calling this phone, so he would not be able to return the phone yet. Moreover, only this phone could call through to Lu Yang, even though he didn’t know why. There were also times he could not get the call to connect, but at least there was hope.
“Let me borrow this for a few more days.” Jiang Ziya said, feeling apologetic.
Fu Jun nodded and replied, “I was originally intending to lend it to Ziya-gē anyways! Didn’t I tell you not to return it to me within these next few days?”
Jiang Ziya shot him a smile of gratitude. Before he closed the door, Fu Jun suddenly called to him.
He looked back at Fu Jun, feeling confused.
“Keep the phone on you at all times! I’ll give you a call.” Fu Jun said seriously, “I will call you using Taiyi’s phone. No matter what, you must pick up the call. You must.”