Illusions, Lies, Truth Volume 1: Human Doll Contract Part One
Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 5: House Keeper Part 1—A Deadly Invitation—translated by Raylight (proofread by Trespasserby & elisa; C/E edited by lucathia)
Doot doot doot—
As the call cut off, Lu Yang stared at the phone and frowned, realizing that something was amiss. He had already been trapped here for a long time. If it weren’t for the fact that he was carrying a plastic bag with breakfast and a can of milk tea inside, he would have died just from thirst!
The other person seemed to have no intent to face off against him, and instead had merely trapped him in this place, making him unable to act.
This was a small crossroad within the alleyways, its location extremely close to the university he was studying at. He was accustomed to taking this route to school, and this place happened to be a small back street. There simply weren’t many people passing by, especially at nine o’clock in the morning, when those working would have already started work and those going to class might not come through here.
Therefore, it was definitely the best possible place to put a “barrier dimension.”
This also happened to be his Achilles heel. In a fight, he had the confidence that he would be able to cut down most of his opponents with Slay, but as to this kind of method that used a “barrier dimension” to trap him, he simply had no way to deal with it. After all, the framework of the barrier dimension was perfect, and the perpetrator behind the scenes refused to appear. Therefore, he could only wait for the opponent to lose the strength to continue maintaining the barrier dimension.
Lu Yang was simply not an expert at seeing through truths and lies. If Jiang Ziya were here—No! He mustn’t drag ordinary people into this.
That was the first thing that he had learned, and it must always be adhered to.
However, could Jiang Ziya still be considered an ordinary person?
In the past, he had merely had an abnormal left eye but wasn’t involved in anything else. Lu Yang was fairly certain of this, for he had investigated him before.
When they had first entered high school, Jiang Ziya hadn’t immediately caught his attention. He had kept a low profile and was quiet. Other than his outstanding grades, there simply wasn’t anything attention-grabbing about him. As for Lu Yang, he had already started socializing with the other classmates since day one.
He had not noticed him until a few illusionary familiars had appeared in the classroom. Normally, Lu Yang would pay no heed to those low-level illusionary familiars. Simply put, there were too many to do anything about them. They were like cockroaches; although annoying, no one was bothered enough to wipe all of them off the face of the earth.
Jiang Ziya could see those illusionary familiars.
Although he had tried his best to hide that fact, having stuck thoroughly to his motto of “turning a blind eye” to them, he could not help but expose himself on occasion. Whenever those things appeared, he would sometimes unconsciously shoot a glance at them, discovering their presence even faster than Lu Yang.
Lu Yang’s first thought was that he had encountered another practitioner of the path. Therefore, he had intentionally approached him in the hopes of finding out his background. In the end though, he realized that Jiang Ziya wasn’t a practitioner at all. He merely had a strange left eye.
After the investigation, the two of them had somehow become close.
Jiang Ziya never pried into Lu Yang’s background, but he did like to talk about himself, especially because Lu Yang never questioned the things Jiang Ziya saw.
After seeing all sorts of strange things, Jiang Ziya had first suspected himself to be mentally ill. However, when he had gone for a checkup, even the doctors claimed that he was feigning sickness when they heard about his situation and found out that he was a student.
As a result, Jiang Ziya could only try his best to pretend he could not see them.
For the first time in his life, Lu Yang had thought someone to be in a worse situation than him when it came to not being able to voice any troubles. At least, he had his family who knew about these matters, but Jiang Ziya never uttered a single word for the sake of not worrying his sister.
The relationship between the two people of completely opposite personalities was very good, and this puzzled all of their classmates. What they did not know was that Jiang Ziya and Lu Yang were very similar. They could see the same things, just that one pretended not to see them, while the other would go and meet those annoying things at night—
“Come out, you bastard! How long are you planning to trap me here?”
Lu Yang was completely enraged. It wasn’t as simple as walking the same crossroad nine times—he had walked the entire day! But he still couldn’t find the weak point, and he was vexed by his own unfamiliarity with “barrier dimensions.”
However, he really had no talent in the area of “barrier dimensions.” Looking at the pages full of theories of their structures and the way to break them, he felt that he understood each word by itself, but once they all combined to form a sentence, it became a language that he could not understand. He would much rather go and spar with Slay for twenty-four hours, and then lay on the floor exhausted.
But as expected, those who don’t study hard will receive retribution.
Lu Yang felt a little frustrated at that, just a little bit. Maintaining a barrier dimension wasn’t a simple task, and though this barrier wasn’t large like the ridiculous dimension with the falling ash from before, it had persisted for an entire day already. The other party should not be able to hold it any longer. Moreover, they most likely had little combat strength, so that was why they could only trap him in this barrier dimension.
Lu Yang silently prayed for Ziya to understand that no harm would come to him and hence not to come over.
After taking another two steps, he exited the alley—at least, logically, he should have exited the alley. Instead, he entered the alley again. Lu Yang decided he might as well sit down and save some energy. After all, the only thing he had to eat for the entire day was breakfast.
This was a small alley, and both of the walls were made of bricks, uncommon in the city. Many trees poked out from behind the brick walls, changing as the seasons went by, so Lu Yang enjoyed walking along this path even though the length of his journey was increased.
Fifty meters ahead was a small crossroad, and turning right would lead to the university. Throughout the whole day, he had turned left, right, walked straight ahead, and walked backwards. He had even climbed the walls several times, but each time, he would return to the alleyway without being able to find a single weak spot.
There was something that Lu Yang was even more suspicious of. For each time he passed through, it would be a different season. The temperature wouldn’t change much, but the trees on both sides would change continuously through the four seasons. This ought to be a weak point, but he was still unable to figure out what to do next.
“I’ll wait it out with you!” Lu Yang said through gritted teeth. He was merely a little hungry and thirsty, but since the other had to maintain the barrier dimension, he must be in worse shape than him.
Lu Yang raised his head. He seemed to have heard Jiang Ziya’s voice—damn it, he still came after all.
He stood up and shouted, “Ziya, where are you?”
“Next to you.”
Lu Yang walked over to the wall. He had already jumped over the surrounding walls more than twenty times in hopes of finding the exit, but he believed that Jiang Ziya’s eyes were more useful than his judgment.
“Are you okay?” He asked, feeling a little worried.
“Of course I’m okay. Aren’t you the one who’s not okay?”
Hearing that answer, Lu Yang heaved a sigh of relief. He started to feel that perhaps Jiang Ziya’s arrival was a good thing. At least, he would be able to return home for dinner earlier. He was both hungry and thirsty, and though he could put up with it due to the training he had since he was young, it would of course be best if he didn’t have to do so.
“How did you find me?”
“I went about searching for you by following the path you use to go to school…”
As Lu Yang walked, he listened to Jiang Ziya’s reply and followed the source of his voice. In the end, he arrived at a wall, and his voice sounded close, so it ought to be the right place.
Lu Yang praised, “I didn’t know you were this smart. Sigh, that’s not right either. You have always received good grades.”
A familiar face popped out from behind the wall. Other than Jiang Ziya, who else could it be? He smiled and reached a hand out to grab hold of Lu Yang.
Lu Yang found it hilarious. With Jiang Ziya’s arm strength, it might even be easier for him to climb up the wall by himself. However, he still grabbed onto his good friend’s hand and joked, “You better not toss me off the wall on purpose—”
He abruptly stopped mid-sentence, realizing that Jiang Ziya’s hands were so icy, they didn’t seem like the hands of a human.
Lu Yang wanted to pull away, but it was too late. The other person had already grabbed hold of his wrist, and no matter how he struggled, he was unable to break free.
Jiang Ziya’s smile grew wider and wider. The corners of his mouth split apart and went past a human’s limits, finally extending to the ears. The mouth was slightly open, and the entire face looked as though it was torn in two, with sharp teeth filling the gap.
The hand grabbing hold of Lu Yang became even sturdier and did not seem like a human’s hand made out of flesh and skin. It was tough and icy and secured Lu Yang’s hand like a handcuff.
Damn, he had been tricked.
After maintaining the barrier dimension the whole day, for the other person to set an illusionary familiar trap… If this was done by one person, then that person must be toying with him out of extreme boredom.
Lu Yang knew that he had miscalculated. It wasn’t him—but them!
“Slay! Cut down this hand!”
Lu Yang shouted angrily, but nothing happened. Slay did not appear at all.
“It’s too late, big brother!” The voice that rang out was no longer Jiang Ziya’s but a soft, child-like voice. The illusion’s eyes narrowed as it smiled and grinned with its tattered mouth. It happily said, “You have already agreed! So come in and play with me!”
Lu Yang looked up at the other and knew that he had satisfied the conditions—grabbing its hand and agreeing to its invitation…
House Keeper was in the middle of clearing the potato chip packets that covered the floor when there came a series of anxious and violent knocks on the door. This time, he did not go and retrieve the seal. For someone to come at this late time, it was mostly likely not the postman. Furthermore, he had already guessed as to who was at the door.
The only other person who would visit this place, in addition to the postman, would be the neighbor across the hall.
When House Keeper went to open the door, the one waiting outside was completely within his expectations.
Therefore, he took the initiative to state, “The mistress is currently out. It appears that there was something wrong with the manuscript, so she had no choice but to make a trip to the publisher. She should be back soon, so please wait a moment.”
Jiang Ziya didn’t have time to wait. He only had an hour! Moreover, would Yu Shu even be willing to save Lu Yang?
“T-Then, you can go with me!” Jiang Ziya couldn’t think of another plan and considered simply taking House Keeper and Xiao Xue along. A formation like that should be able to save Lu Yang, right?
House Keeper seemed a little shocked and said, “I am unable to go anywhere without the mistress’s orders. Moreover, it is highly probable that I will reveal my true form in a crowded place.”
Jiang Ziya was so anxious, he was practically hopping from foot to foot. Ignoring whatever House Keeper was saying, he forcefully dragged House Keeper out of the room—House Keeper was abnormally light, not like an adult at all. It was very easy for Jiang Ziya to drag him along.
The two of them stood at the front door. Jiang Ziya was a little flustered as he said, “I-I have to go look for Xiao Xue. Can you wait here for me?”
After all, he couldn’t possibly drag House Keeper into his own home. His sister and brother-in-law would definitely raise an eyebrow at that.
House Keeper stood on the spot and answered, “Wait here for you? But you are not my master. I will not follow your orders. I—”
“Please!” Jiang Ziya gritted his teeth and said, “Don’t you want to hear your name? If you help me, I will tell you your name!”
“Very well, I accept your invitation.” House Keeper tilted his head to the side and turned to lock the front door.
Seeing that, Jiang Ziya heaved a sigh of relief, even though he felt that the word “invitation” had sounded very peculiar.
Now that he had dealt with House Keeper, following that was Xiao Xue’s turn. He turned around to go into his apartment—Xiao Xue and Jiang Jiang were currently standing behind him. Both of them had the same expression and were looking at House Keeper with disgust as they pouted.
“Gēge, what kind of dangerous things are you up to again?” Xiao Xue shouted, discontent.
“Xiao Xue, please, help me save Lu Yang. Do you still remember him? That day, he came to the supermarket to save us. Now that he has been captured, I need to go and save him!”
Xiao Xue was unwilling and said, “The one who saved us in the supermarket wasn’t him!”
Hearing that, Jiang Ziya was unable to retort. After all, it did seem like they hadn’t been saved by Lu Yang, but by the man in the mottled mask and the death god that they had mistaken for an enemy. Back then, the two had made an exit for them to escape the supermarket.
“Perhaps the one you should ask is the other one.” House Keeper gently reminded, “Although artifact demons are stronger than illusory familiars, they definitely cannot match those who have come true…”
Jiang Ziya flinched at that. After going through so much, he too had realized that the other girl was the true demon king. However, she was also the bottom line. No matter what, he would not let Jiang Jiang go!
The other party’s aim was to obtain Xiao Xue. If they were to discover Jiang Jiang on top of that, then things would definitely take a turn for the worse!
Moreover, it was best if Jiang Jiang could begin being an ordinary girl starting now, without any connections to lies or illusions or fakes. She had to forget faster and grow up like an ordinary child.
“Xiao Xue, please…” Jiang Ziya could only beg Xiao Xue once more.
“Gēge, don’t go.” The reply instead came from Jiang Jiang. She shook her head and said, “It’s too dangerous, don’t go.”
“He’s my friend. I have to go even if it’s dangerous!”
“Friend? What is that?” Jiang Jiang looked at him, perplexed. She asked, “Is it more important than Māma?”
Friend or Māma … No, for me, it should be sister. But would anyone compare them like this? It was not like the two of them had fallen into the water, and he could only save one—If that were the case, he would definitely tell Lu Yang to quickly swim over and save his sister!
Jiang Ziya felt distressed as he tried to explain, “Friends are like… like you and Xiao Xue! If she were in danger, you would go and save her, right?”
Jiang Jiang tilted her side to one side and replied earnestly, “If it’s not dangerous to save Xiao Xue, then I’d save her. If it’s dangerous, then I wouldn’t save her.”
Jiang Ziya felt speechless when he heard that and could not help but shoot a glance at Xiao Xue. Although the latter was pouting, she did not say anything. It seemed as though she was not surprised that Jiang Jiang would say so.
“It’s dangerous. Gēge, don’t go.”
Jiang Ziya shook his head, exclaiming, “No way! No matter what, I have to go save Lu Yang.”
Especially since Lu Yang was captured because of him. Jiang Ziya didn’t dare to say these words though, since he could not say that the other party wanted to exchange Lu Yang for Xiao Xue. If he did, Xiao Xue might refuse to go.
Xiao Xue bit her lower lip and said, “Then Gēge, make a pinky promise with me! If I go and help, then Gēge has to help me come true!”
“But I don’t know how to turn you into a human.” Although he was hesitant, Jiang Ziya still told her the honest truth. He simply did not want to deceive her.
Xiao Xue pouted, not saying anything.
“Even if he did know, I am afraid that he would not be able to do it.” House Keeper explained, “My mistress has once said that coming true is a very difficult feat. I do not believe that he can do it.”
Hearing that, Jiang Ziya suddenly felt a little doubtful as to how Jiang Jiang had actually come true. Could that “calling ability” of his sister’s really be that strong?
The phone abruptly rang, and Jiang Ziya felt his heart pound. Has half an hour already gone by?
He took the call, and as expected, it was the low and gruff voice again.
“Come to your university’s library rooftop. You only have twenty minutes to come over.”
“What! Didn’t you say half an hour?”
Jiang Ziya finished speaking, but the only answer was the “doot doot” sound of the phone being hung up. He could not help but shout in rage, “Bastard!”
“Shh!” Jiang Jiang put her index finger in front of her lips and reprimanded, “Gēge, be quieter. Bàba and Māma will hear you!”
Jiang Ziya felt that he was a complete idiot. Although the sound insulation of his place wasn’t that bad, it was still easy to be heard if one screamed directly outside the door. He really couldn’t even match up to two three year old girls!
Hearing some sounds coming from within the apartment, Jiang Ziya’s face immediately darkened. He had only wanted to quickly leave the scene. But Xiao Xue…
Jiang Ziya lowered his head to look at Xiao Xue, uncertain when she had walked over to his side in silence, but she reached out to tug at his hand.
“Okay! I’ll go with Gēge.” Her tone seemed a little unwilling, but she still grabbed onto her brother’s hand tightly.
Jiang Ziya suddenly felt like he was choking out words. “Xiao Xue, I don’t know if I can do it, but I will definitely try to make you come true!”
Xiao Xue smiled adorably and gave a happy “mhh.”
“Since Xiao Xue wants to go of her own will…”
Jiang Jiang waved goodbye to them and instructed, “Xiao Xue, you must protect Gēge! Otherwise, Māma will be sad.”
There seemed to be a large leap in logic between these two sentences, though Jiang Ziya could still understand them. If something were to happen to him, his sister would naturally be sad. But Jiang Jiang, do you only mind the fact that Māma would be sad…
Jiang Ziya almost felt like crying.
Xiao Xue nodded and said, “Okay. I will protect Gēge.”
Jiang Jiang was however not satisfied with that. She held out her pinky and said, “Make a pinky promise! You must protect Gēge, or you can’t return home.”
“I already said that I would protect Gēge.” Xiao Xue muttered with pouty lips and made the pinky promise unwillingly.
Jiang Ziya felt a little confused watching them. Their relationship seemed to be a little different from what he had imagined—although truthfully, he had never managed to understand the full situation behind the two girls.
At first, he had thought that it was just that there was an extra Xiao Xue. Afterwards, he then realized that there was something off with Jiang Jiang too, and she seemed to hold even more mysteries than Xiao Xue…
Right now, what is most important is Lu Yang! We’re already out of time! Jiang Ziya shook away all the useless thoughts, picked up Xiao Xue and dashed downstairs. All he could do was hope that these two helpers would really be enough to help him save Lu Yang.