Illusions, Lies, Truth Volume 2: Human Doll Contract Part Two
Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 1: The Busy Patient Part 3—The Conflicted Friend—translated by lucathia (proofread by Trespasserby & Arcedemius)
The moment he walked into the ward, Lu Yang raised an eyebrow and pointed his right hand at the corner with two of his fingers held together. Slay, which was drifting beside him, abruptly shot out, piercing straight at the bloodstained shadow in the corner. A single strike was all it took to sever the shadow’s head. A head wrapped in messy hair fell to the ground, immediately turning into drifting ashes together with the body that had been kneeling there. Just like that, the shadow disappeared without a trace.
Jiang Ziya was stumped and asked in confusion, “Why did you wipe him out so suddenly?”
Lu Yang shrugged as he said, “That was an illusory familiar of the lowest caliber. It doesn’t have much awareness and is around the same as a cockroach. I normally don’t do anything about them because there are just too many. But you’re staying in this ward. I bet it’s uncomfortable looking at that kind of thing, right?”
Cockroach… Jiang Ziya was a little speechless. If the average person saw that kind of thing, it would at least warrant an entire ghost story. Yet, to my friend, it’s no different than a cockroach?
Lu Yang sat on the bed. His two hands had been rewrapped. Although he couldn’t avoid being nagged by the nurses, smiling in response couldn’t hurt.
“Remember to write my essay for me.” Taking his shoes off, Lu Yang lazily lay down on the bed.
“Fine!” Jiang Ziya hurriedly drew the curtains shut to prevent bothering the other people. Although the elder in the opposite bed had poor hearing, there was still the married couple next to them.
He had to do something like that even though he had one arm in a cast, while Lu Yang was leisurely reclining in bed. He even crossed one leg over the other. Just who is the patient here?!
After pulling the curtains shut, Jiang Ziya sat down, took out his notebook, and began writing the essay. He didn’t even bother to take out his dictionary. After all, if he wrote it too well, the teacher would figure it out, considering Lu Yang’s abilities.
“What do you think is going on with my brother-in-law?” Jiang Ziya asked worriedly as he wrote.
“He’s probably a practitioner, too.”
Jiang Ziya glanced at Slay, which was floating to the side, and asked doubtfully, “But he didn’t seem like he could see your sword.”
“It’s not strange if he can’t. Not all practitioners have that kind of ability.” Lu Yang gave Jiang Ziya a look and said, “It’s stranger to be able to see so clearly, to the point of knowing that Slay is an ancient Chinese sword.”
“You don’t need to remind me how strange I am!”
Lu Yang began smiling. “You’re only able to see, while the sword is mine! Just who is the stranger one?”
Jiang Ziya lifted his head and asked curiously, “Exactly what age were you when you started doing these things?”
“I can’t really say. I’d been tagging along with my parents since I was young. Even I don’t know what age I was when I started participating.” Lu Yang thought it over for a bit and surmised, “Probably around ten or so. A few years before I had Slay, I began offhandedly whacking a few weak illusory familiars.”
“Your parents also do this kind of thing?” Jiang Ziya was surprised. He had never heard Lu Yang talk about his family affairs before. His friend had never brought it up. However, Jiang Ziya had never thought that they would also be demon slayers. Is this a family business, after all?
“Come to think of it, where are your dad and mom? When I went over to your place last time, only your grandparents were there. No one mentioned your parents.”
Lu Yang shrugged and said, “My dad and mom have been overseas for two years. Before then, they never came home much either. Either they would be running about in Taiwan, or they would be overseas.”
Hearing such a detailed explanation, Jiang Ziya felt a bit nervous. In the past, Lu Yang had never spoken so much about his family. He hurriedly said, “If you don’t want to talk about what’s going on at home, you don’t have to.”
“There’s no difference now. Before, I just didn’t dare to say anything.” Lu Yang said helplessly, “If you had asked about my parents’ professions, could I have told you that one of them is a Taoist priest, and the other is an exorcist?”
“…Your family sure is complicated.”
“Yours doesn’t seem simple, either.” Lu Yang huffed, “If I knew it would be like this, I wouldn’t have needed to keep it from you. There were many times when I was stuck in barrier dimensions I couldn’t see through and didn’t know how to crack. I was often detained. If you could have taken a look for me, it would have saved me who knows how much effort.”
“I can help you?”
Jiang Ziya perked up. Lu Yang had helped him so many times, and he had even been captured because of what was going on with Xiao Xue, almost falling to his death from the building. Hearing now that he could help his friend, he felt relieved that he could finally repay this debt!
Lu Yang sat up and asked seriously, “Ziya, are you really willing to help me?”
Jiang Ziya nodded. Even though he wouldn’t choose to slay demons if he didn’t have to, he had incurred a debt, and he was really worried about Lu Yang getting caught so often. He had no choice but to bear with it and do it.
“Why are you doing this kind of thing?” Jiang Ziya asked in great concern. If he could, he would still prefer repaying the debt through a method like helping his friend take the night shift at a convenience store!
“It’s like how you’re an employee at a bookstore. It’s a part-time job!”
“You get paid?” Jiang Ziya was shocked. He had thought that it was because Lu Yang’s family ran a temple, so he had to do it for the better good or some similar reason.
“Mostly, but there’s the occasional pro bono case.”
Jiang Ziya asked curiously, “When do you do pro bono cases?”
Lu Yang painfully recounted, “Like when I accidentally discover an artifact demon that has shocking resentment, yet hasn’t hurt anyone yet, or no one has discovered the “haunting,” and so no one spends any money to commission me, but can I let him harm others? In those kinds of cases, I can only do free work.”
After saying that, he added on worriedly, “When I do charity cases, you better not ask me for payment. I can only give you money on paid missions.”
Hearing that, Jiang Ziya rolled his eyes at him. When he had accepted earlier, Lu Yang hadn’t mentioned anything at all about getting paid. Just as he was about to say that Lu Yang didn’t need to pay him, he suddenly realized that he could take “another form of payment.”
“Promise me you won’t kill Xiao Xue, and I’ll help you.”
At first, Lu Yang couldn’t figure out who Xiao Xue was, but immediately afterward, he understood that it was that artifact demon. He roared on the spot, “You promised you would trick the artifact demon out and let me get rid of her. Are you going back on your word?”
“It’s not the same now!” Jiang Ziya said angrily, “She accepted coming along with me to save you, and she even blocked a bullet for me. How can I go along with the promise from earlier to kill her? That’s too heartless!”
“Do you mean that I’m heartless?” Lu Yang glared at him in frustration. “I’m protecting your life!”
“Xiao Xiao saved my life and even yours!”
“What’s with the arguing? I can’t sleep like this!” The man next to them yelled.
They fell silent but glared at each other, neither willing to back down.
Lu Yang lowered his voice and said, “Ziya, you haven’t seen an artifact demon kill someone. There are cases where not a single person in the family was left alive. Think of your sister, your brother-in-law, and Jiang Jiang.”
The moment his sister was mentioned, Jiang Ziya’s determination wavered greatly. “Can’t an artifact demon get along with people? Are you sure there are definitely no exceptions?”
Isn’t Yu Shu, who lives across from us, raising a butler? Doesn’t she worry… But House Keeper did say something about how Yu Shu has the ability to make him disappear.
“I can’t say it’s definitely!” Lu Yang snapped, “But can you be sure that the one in your family is an exception? Have you figured out how she appeared?”
Jiang Ziya of course hadn’t. In addition to Xiao Xue, he was even more clueless about how Jiang Jiang had appeared.
Jiang Jiang’s existence was a large part of the reason he didn’t want to destroy Xiao Xue. Since he had already decided to accept Jiang Jiang, the addition of Xiao Xue wasn’t so difficult to accept. After all, Jiang Jiang’s “caliber” is even higher than Xiao Xue’s!
Since he was already keeping the more advanced one, was there a need to be scared of the less evolved one? However, Jiang Ziya couldn’t tell Lu Yang in so many words.
“I’ll figure out how Xiao Xue appeared. Give me some time,” was all he could say.
Hearing that, Lu Yang understood that it wouldn’t be easy to convince Jiang Ziya anymore. He was so anxious that he furrowed his eyebrows, and he even considered that he might directly sneak into Jiang Ziya’s apartment and deal with that artifact demon there. However, he recalled that the artifact demon was masquerading as a small child, so she definitely wouldn’t leave Jiang Yu’s side. It was unlikely that he would succeed. He still had to have Jiang Ziya trick her out for it to work.
After thinking it through, Lu Yang looked at Jiang Ziya’s shoulder injury and barged on to say, “When your shoulder gets a bit better in a few days, come with me. I’ll let you see what ‘demons’ truly are!”
Jiang Ziya agreed on the spot. In the first place, he had wanted to hurry over and help when Lu Yang had gotten stuck in another barrier dimension today, but his shoulder injury wasn’t fully recovered yet. Lu Yang probably wouldn’t have let him tag along. Now that Lu Yang was inviting him of his own accord, of course he agreed immediately to prevent Lu Yang from backing out after thinking it over.
The guy who had promised to help relaxed, while the guy who had asked for help began worrying.
He had to find jobs that would pay so that Jiang Ziya could help out his family. They also had to be jobs related to barrier dimensions, or else Ziya wouldn’t be useful and would definitely refuse the money. Additionally, this job couldn’t be too difficult, since Jiang Ziya was still recovering, yet it couldn’t be too simple, or else it wouldn’t scare Ziya, and he would definitely be unwilling to hand that artifact demon over…
Thinking of all this, Lu Yang really had the urge to tell Jiang Ziya to wash up and sleep; he’ll just go alone.
Jiang Ziya saw Lu Yang’s conflicted face, but he didn’t have even an ounce of sympathy. Recently, he had been worrying so much that his head almost hurt more than his injured shoulder. To be able to drag his good friend into a shared headache was like sharing the pain and joy. Besides, this good friend was one of the reasons for his headache!
Seeing Jiang Ziya’s relaxed expression over his worries, Lu Yang grew even more vexed. Just as he was about to describe to him all the various frightening artifact demons he had run into in the past, hollering came from the bed beside them.
“You’re not returning again are you?” The man growled angrily, “You damn woman. Is your family so much more important than me—”
Jiang Ziya raised an eyebrow. This broken-legged guy really liked to yell at his wife. It was a good thing that in the afternoon, he had admitted he was in the wrong, and that he hadn’t actually hit her. Otherwise, he was really considering secretly dialing the domestic abuse hotline.
The man kept yelling, but halfway through, he stopped, and then he blurted frantically, “He died? How?”
Hearing the word “die,” Lu Yang glanced over at Jiang Ziya, wanting to know what was going on, but it wasn’t like the latter knew anything more than he did, just that he had heard them arguing that afternoon. So, he could only shrug his shoulders. He was also very shocked over how he’d only just overheard that afternoon that he had gone missing, and now he was already hearing about his death that night.
But it was not that strange. If someone wasn’t involved in all sorts of messes, they wouldn’t disappear out of the blue. Once someone disappeared, it was most likely that they had gotten into trouble.
Even though he didn’t know him, Jiang Ziya still felt a pang of regret hearing that someone had died.
“Was he found? What? You have to identify him?” The man said hesitantly, “All right, all right, stay there. I, I… Sigh, I’m fine. I’ll just ask my brothers to come over to help.”
The broken-legged man leaned on his crutches, hobbling to the bathroom. He kept mumbling, “What bad luck.”
Jiang Ziya couldn’t help rolling his eyes at his back. He was obviously capable of going to the bathroom on his own, yet he just had to have his wife come over to take care of him. He could get a pass if things were normal, but he had thrown a snit even when his wife’s little brother had gone missing, and now he was calling it bad luck that the brother had passed away. It was despicable.
Seeing Jiang Ziya’s sullen face, Lu Yang glanced at him curiously.
Jiang Ziya quietly told him what he had heard that afternoon.
Lu Yang listened, yet he didn’t care about the married couple’s troubles. Instead, he worriedly said, “It’s exactly the case that too many people have gone missing. That’s why I’ve been too busy recently to even come to the hospital to visit.”
Jiang Ziya was taken aback. He asked in confusion, “Your job description includes missing people?”
“Of course. It’s not like people disappear for no reason.” Lu Yang’s words held a deeper meaning. The “reasons” naturally fell under his job description.
“I thought most of them would be caused by humans?” Jiang Ziya felt that murdering for money and the like were much more realistic causes than artifact demons, illusory familiars, barrier dimensions, and so on.
“In comparison, manmade troubles are still more common.” Lu Yang confessed, “And by a whole lot. I often accidentally come across murder cases. I’ve reported them so much that I’ve gotten to know the police.”
So that’s how it is! No wonder he could deal with the police who had come to investigate. Jiang Ziya asked, a bit worried, “Since you make reports so often, aren’t you afraid that the police will think you’re a serial killer, that you’ve killed them yourself and are making the reports?”
Lu Yang smiled guiltily. Jiang Ziya understood immediately. He raised an eyebrow. “You’ve already been suspected before?”
“I keep reporting cases. There’s no way they wouldn’t notice! Thankfully, I’ve saved many policemen before. They help me settle it.”
Saved many policemen before? Jiang Ziya stared at Lu Yang suspiciously. Are policemen specifically there to be saved?
“Fine, I researched which policemen had run into this kind of thing, and I deliberately went to save them.” Lu Yang chuckled and said, “Some of them had also been saved by my mom before in the past. If I don’t know a few policemen in this line of business, I’d have my hands full just with going to the police station and the court house.”
That’s true. If it weren’t for Lu Yang, Jiang Ziya’s bullet wound wouldn’t have been so easily passed off.
“But knowing too many policemen also has a huge disadvantage.” Lu Yang bit out, “Those guys are the ones who keep tossing me jobs that don’t pay! Even when they promise me they would apply for funds, it’s always so little that it can only be used to pay my fare!”
Jiang Ziya laughed. He patted his good friend to console him and said, “Just treat it as doing a good deed for the public safety of Taiwan!”
Lu Yang growled, “Why don’t you sacrifice your own time working your part-time job to do a good deed for the public safety of Taiwan!”
Jiang Ziya said indifferently, “After this, aren’t I doing exactly that with you?”
Hearing that, Lu Yang remembered his worry from earlier over the contents of the job selection. He worried so much that his entire face contorted.
Jiang Ziya tossed the notebook over and said, “I finished writing it. Copy it over before you turn it in. Don’t turn it in just like that. Don’t you go thinking that the teacher is blind and can’t recognize the handwriting.”
Lu Yang looked at the clock on the wall, which indicated two A.M., and thought of his eight A.M. class that day, his face growing even more troubled.
Jiang Ziya poked his good friend. “I’m going to sleep. Go copy it over at the side table.”
“Boo hoo hoo, you’re so heartless!”
Hearing that, Jiang Ziya yawned widely, climbed onto his hospital bed, and forcefully squished Lu Yang off the bed.