Illusions, Lies, Truth Volume 2: Human Doll Contract Part Two
Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 3: Hidden in the Dark… Part 3—The Enemy—translated by lucathia (proofread by Trespasserby)
Do we head east or toward Jiu Ge?
The moment Jiang Ziya and Fu Jun escaped from the barrier dimension, they ran into a dilemma. The old beggar from the barrier dimension had told them to head east, but the bookstore wasn’t in the east. Fu Jun wanted to tell Fu Taiyi about what they had found out first and ask him to help with the search.
“If we go to Jiu Ge first and then head east, the positioning would be different, wouldn’t it?”
Jiang Ziya made a guess. What the old man meant just now was for them to head east the moment they left the alley.
Fu Jun hesitated and said, “Yeah. Even if we go to Jiu Ge first and then return here to head east, it might be different by then too because the time would be different.”
“Then, what should we do… Oh, how about we call the boss?”
Fu Jun shook his head and said, “No, Taiyi didn’t want to deal with all these things in the first place, so a phone call would definitely let him fib his way out. I want to go directly to him and drag him out to help with the search.”
Jiang Ziya agreed when he heard Fu Jun’s explanation.
The boss was exactly someone who didn’t take his work seriously. He didn’t even look after his own bookstore correctly. Wanting him to rescue someone that had nothing to do with him might really require him to be forcefully dragged out.
“You go find the boss. I’ll try heading east.”
Fu Jun immediately shot that down. “No, Ziya-gē, you don’t know enough yet. If you run into trouble, you won’t be able to solve it and might even be endangered… I know! You can ask Lu Yang-gē to help!”
Jiang Ziya was about to say that Lu Yang was still in class, but when he thought about how this involved a person’s life and death, there wasn’t a better reason than that to skip class, so he immediately nodded in agreement.
“You go and find the boss. I’ll head east and contact Lu Yang to have him meet up with me.”
The more he spoke, the more Jiang Ziya felt that this was a good idea. However…
“Just how long have you and Lu Yang known about each other? Did you even conspire together to trick me? You bastards! You obviously knew that I have such a strange eye. Why didn’t you tell me anything?!”
He even had the urge to bite someone’s head off.
Fu Jun hurriedly shook his head and said, “We haven’t conspired together! Lu Yang-gē knows that Taiyi is a practitioner, but he doesn’t know that I can be considered one, too. So if there’s any conspiring going on, it’d be between those two. I have nothing to do with it!”
“So, they really did conspire together!”
“I don’t think they have, only that they have an understanding between them. I think it’s just that… Um, I’m really not sure. Ziya-gē, don’t bully an elementary school kid! I-I have to go find Taiyi now. Ziya-gē, you should go find Lu Yang-gē, too!”
Fu Jun fled in a hurry.
Jiang Ziya dropped his threatening expression, watching Fu Jun’s fleeing back. He began to regret his act of bullying an elementary school kid. But when he gave it a second thought, he grew rather angry again. He wanted these people to know not to ever hide anything from him again!
Jiang Ziya called Lu Yang, but no one answered. He wasn’t surprised. It was still class time right now, and no matter how little Lu Yang cared about his studies, he still couldn’t take his cell phone out during class to answer a call.
The foreign language department held classes by sections. Each section only had around ten students. The professor didn’t even need to take roll. A single glance revealed who was in class and who wasn’t. If anyone dared to answer a call under the professor’s sharp eyes, then they were pretty much doomed to fail the course.
There was only half an hour left until the class ended. He might as well walk while he waited.
He walked toward the east. It sounded like an easy feat, but Jiang Ziya didn’t have a habit of carrying a compass on him. Figuring out which direction was east was a big problem. He could only walk into a hardware store and buy a simple compass. Finally, he knew which direction he should take. After that, he called Jiang Yu, making up an excuse about going to Jiu Ge, so he wasn’t going home just yet. Only then did he follow the old man’s information and head east.
As he walked, he observed the children around him. Unfortunately, all of the children he saw on the way had parents holding their hands. They were too young too and couldn’t possibly be Fu Jun’s classmate.
With present day roads, walking directly east was actually a huge hurdle. Often, he would run into buildings that blocked the way and would need to take a detour around them before continuing east.
Walking in such a way can’t really be considered heading east, can it?
After walking for half an hour, Jiang Ziya still hadn’t discovered any suspicious people or happenings. He felt that it definitely had to be because he had curved back and forth too much and had overlooked it way back.
At this time, his cell phone began ringing.
“Ziya, what’s up? You want me to pick you up from the hospital?”
The moment the call connected, he heard Lu Yang’s voice.
“I already got out.” Jiang Ziya hesitated over whether or not he should continue walking. Is it necessary to get Lu Yang to come over? But when he thought about how it involved a child, if he could walk farther, he should walk farther…
He told Lu Yang a simple version of events and earned a deep sigh from Lu Yang, who said, “Come on, you haven’t even gotten rid of that artifact demon at home, yet you want to go save someone?”
Jiang Ziya felt guilty. He didn’t at all want to get rid of that “artifact demon!” It wouldn’t be wrong to call running over to save someone a diversion tactic. With something else to keep him busy, Lu Yang wouldn’t be thinking all day long of wanting to get rid of Xiao Xue, right?
“I’m heading over right now. Continue east. See if you can find any clues. Keep me updated on your location and don’t hang up. No matter what suspicious things you see, you have to tell me everything.”
“Are you trying to make my cell phone bill explode?”
Even though thinking of the resulting cell phone bill pained him, Jiang Ziya immediately began walking. He even frequently glanced at the compass in his hand and didn’t hang up.
“Just get it reimbursed.”
“Reimbursed from who?” Jiang Ziya snapped, “It’s not like I can ask Xie Peilun’s mom to pay the cell phone bill, right?”
“Ask Fu Taiyi. Since it’s his son who’s searching for his classmate, and the son who asked you to find me, then of course you should be getting reimbursed by Fu Taiyi. Don’t let him escape!”
Jiang Ziya grew curious. He pretended to be unhappy as he said, “So you’re on familiar terms with my boss and even conspired with him to keep me in the dark about all of this.”
“Who conspired with him?! I only know that Fu Taiyi is also a practitioner. I’ve asked him some stuff before. He said that your dad requested for him to look after you, and that’s why he hired you as a part-timer.” Lu Yang hesitated. “Actually, later, I thought about it and suspect that he’s… Forget it, I’ll tell you when I see you.”
“Are you saying it or not?” Jiang Ziya heard the sound of a motorcycle being started. He hurriedly said, “Are you driving? I’ll hang up. Don’t drive with one hand to use the phone. That’s too dangerous!”
“Who’s driving with only one hand? Am I putting on a stunt show? I’m using earbuds, and it’s a wireless Bluetooth! Jiang Ziya, can’t you keep up with the current trends?”
“Me using a cell phone is already trendy enough—”
Suddenly, someone covered his mouth. Before Jiang Ziya could even react, his entire person was pulled into a van to the side. His cell phone flew out of his hand, smashing against the road. A car’s wheel crushed it into smithereens. Then, the van’s door was pulled closed, and the van quickly drove off.
The pedestrians by the road stared with dropped jaws at the scene. It was only when the van had driven faraway that they were able to react and shriek, “A kidnapping! Someone got kidnapped!”
Head east, great!
Jiang Ziya had indeed found Xie Peilun. It was just that he had been trussed up and had found him while he himself was a hostage.
The old man had even warned him that the other party wanted to capture Fu Jun and him. However, the hint to “head east” had made him walk right into the trap. Even though he had found the person he was searching for, his goal was to rescue him, not to endanger himself as well!
His two hands were tied up in front of him, and his mouth was taped. Jiang Ziya wasn’t alone. Even though it was dark with only a single light bulb flickering high up on the ceiling, he could still see several people in the surroundings. Their hands were tied in front of them just like him, and their mouths were sealed shut with tape.
Everyone was leaning their backs against the wall. Even with only their eyes showing, their fear and helplessness were easy to see.
It hadn’t taken long for Jiang Ziya to discover that among them was a child around the same age as Fu Jun. After carefully observing the other person’s brows, he was certain that the child was Xie Peilun. However, the other person didn’t seem to recognize him.
The current situation is way too strange. Jiang Ziya didn’t know what to do at all. Has Taiwan’s public security fallen so ridiculously? Not only are people kidnapping others right from the streets, they’ve even kidnapped a lot. They don’t look like they’re in it for ransom, more like they’re going to sell us off to the mines. Could this be what they call a human smuggling syndicate?
Jiang Ziya inwardly groaned. If that was the case, then his left eye, and even Lu Yang and the others, would be of no use, right?
These days were all so surreal. Can you not suddenly turn so realistic?
In the dim light, a tall man suddenly appeared below the light bulb, giving Jiang Ziya a huge fright.
Could this place be a “barrier dimension?” Jiang Ziya tried using his left eye to look at his surroundings, but the lighting was truly too poor. He couldn’t even tell what color the walls were, so how would he be able to tell anything else? He could only direct his attention to the man in front of him.
The tall man walked up to him. He had absolutely nothing concealing his face, which dismayed Jiang Ziya. Watching the news a lot made him understand. If a kidnapper didn’t conceal his face at all, that was bad news. The other party was either planning to kill the hostage, or was absolutely certain that you had no way to tell his identity to anyone else, such as selling you to a mine that never saw the light of day.
Jiang Ziya was taking measure of the tall man. At the same time, the tall man was also taking measure of him. After a few minutes, the man walked over and removed the tape over Jiang Ziya’s mouth.
The moment he could speak, Jiang Ziya tried to “right the situation.”
“Did you get the wrong guy? It’s not like I’m the son of a wealthy family. You won’t get much ransom for kidnapping me. You’ll lose more than you gain. Why not let me go? I’ll definitely pretend that this never happened!”
“You’re uninvolved?” The man sneered and said, “Then, you tell me, how did Zhang Dongping die?”
“Who’s that?” Jiang Ziya was truly suspicious. He had never heard that name before. Could he truly have kidnapped the wrong guy? Just how unlucky can I get?
“He had a scarecrow, a female corpse, and a crawling corpse. How’s that? Do you remember now?”
It’s the guy who kidnapped Lu Yang to threaten me to hand Xiao Xue over!
Jiang Ziya’s face paled. As expected, the case had not been resolved.
Seeing his expression, the tall man knew that he had understood. “I’m Zhang Dongqi.”
Shoot, he even told me his name… Wait, he’s also a Zhang? Don’t tell me…
“That worthless Zhang Dongping was my older cousin.”
Jiang Ziya’s face grew dark. Even though he hadn’t killed the guy, he had been present. And he really couldn’t be considered completely uninvolved. After all, Fu Jun had made the phone call for the sake of rescuing him, resulting in the man getting killed by his own three artifact demons. His death had been gruesome, too. This grudge was truly a deep one.
He couldn’t help glancing at Zhang Dongqi’s expression, hoping that he and his cousin hadn’t gotten along well.
Zhang Dongqi merely said indifferently, “My cousin had always been a scaredy-cat. After he got the news that there might be an artifact demon, he was envious and wanted to snatch it, yet even with three artifact demons in tow, he didn’t dare to go personally. He even sought a helper out to construct a ‘barrier dimension’ together.”
After saying that, he glanced at Jiang Ziya. “Someone able to see through the barrier dimension Zhang Dongping had set up with another’s help, and to incite the three artifact demons to defect and kill him, could definitely not be a mere artifact demon on the verge of becoming a lie!”
It indeed wasn’t Xiao Xue. In actuality, the only thing Xiao Xue had done was to block a bullet for Jiang Ziya, and she hadn’t even completely blocked it!
Jiang Ziya looked toward Xie Peilun. He and the other people had all fallen to the floor, unconscious. Yet they had obviously been awake just now. He didn’t know what Zhang Dongqi had done.
Xie Peilun clearly had nothing to do with this incident. Could he have been mistaken for Fu Jun, and was captured as a result?
“Even if you’ve snatched me because of that incident, this has nothing to do with Xie Peilun. Why have you kidnapped him?
Jiang Ziya purposefully dropped Xie Peilun’s name, wanting the other person to realize that he had the wrong kid. Perhaps, he would let the child go. Besides, the other guy seemed to have realized that it wasn’t just Xiao Xue at home. That was just too dangerous. He had to quickly change the topic!
However, Zhang Dongqi was shocked. He said with interest, “What, you know each other? He has nothing to do with this incident, but I didn’t think you’d actually know each other. Don’t tell me you’re also relatives? That’s great! Hereditary abilities are all particularly strong!”
Again with the hereditary abilities… Jiang Ziya didn’t know how many times he had heard those words. He hoped that the abilities didn’t come from his dad’s side; otherwise, the next time he saw him, Jiang Ziya would definitely give his father a beating before anything else!
“It’s just that I know his classmate. His surname is Xie, I’m a Jiang. There’s nothing hereditary.”
Jiang Ziya didn’t dare to let the other person know what had been passed down through his “family.” If this got Jiang Yu, Jiang Jiang, and Xiao Xue involved, he would die with regrets—Bleh, bleh, bleeeh! What am I talking about?! I’m not going to die!
Zhang Dongqi merely smiled but didn’t retort, causing Jiang Ziya to feel great unease. He didn’t know if the other person had believed him. Don’t you go searching for my sis… But no, if he really wants Xiao Xue, then he’ll definitely go to our home!
Jiang Ziya could only hope that his brother-in-law was actually a strong “practitioner”—having heard this term so many times, even he knew how to use it now. However, he didn’t really understand what made someone a “practitioner,” and just how strong were those people?
The current situation made him feel that guns were still a lot stronger. In the previous incident, he had gotten hurt because of getting shot. It had nothing to do with the three artifact demons.
Zhang Dongqi looked Jiang Ziya up and down. “Looks like you didn’t bring the artifact demon with you. Make a call. Command that artifact demon to come over.”
Jiang Ziya hesitated. He had to make the call, as he wanted to live on! But the important thing is, who should I make this SOS call to?
“Don’t try to play any tricks. I’ve thoroughly investigated your family situation.” Zhang Dongqi sneered. “Don’t pin your hopes on your brother-in-law. He can’t be considered a practitioner. He’d be no use even if he came here. I’m not like that useless Zhang Dongping! If you’re a man, deal with it yourself. Leave your brother-in-law out of this, so he can take care of your sis.”
Hearing that, Jiang Ziya grew excited. That guy had only mentioned his brother-in-law. He hadn’t mentioned Lu Yang, nor had he mentioned the boss. Even Yu Shu had been left out—then again, it wasn’t like his neighbor would come and save him, right?
Zhang Dongqi tossed a cell phone at Jiang Ziya and took out a gun at the same time. He warned, “Put it on speaker and watch your mouth. I don’t mind not acquiring a mere artifact demon. I’m not that concerned about your life!”
S***—this is why guns are scarier than anything else!
Eyes glued to the dark barrel of the gun, Jiang Ziya could only obediently make the phone call.
“Hello, how do you do? This is—”
“Jiěfū.” Jiang Ziya hurriedly called out to stop the other person from speaking more and said, “This is Ziya. Are you and Sis both home?”
“Ziya?! Are you…”
Jiang Ziya quickly cut in again, “Can you put Jiang Jiang and Xiao Xue on? I want to buy a cake for them and need to ask them what flavor they want.”
Silence came over the other end for a long while. Jiang Ziya’s entire body was tightly drawn. He began to regret that maybe he had chosen the wrong person to call when a voice said, “I just took a look. They should both be in their room. I’ll go find them. Hold on.”
“Okay.” Jiang Ziya felt his nerves loosen a great deal.
Soon after, a little girl’s voice came over the phone, calling out, “Gēge.”
Jiang Ziya was a little surprised. Even though he guessed that the other person could possibly come up with a little girl’s voice, he was still very surprised when his guess came true. So called practitioners truly had something extraordinary about them.
Jiang Ziya deliberately used a commanding tone to say, “Xiao Xue, come out right away, to—” He looked toward Zhang Dongqi. The latter rather smoothly rattled off the address.
“Did you get the address? Don’t be late. Come here right away!”
“Yes, Master. Xiao Xue will head over immediately.”
Hearing the word “Master” made Jiang Ziya’s skin crawl. The feeling of getting called Master was just too strange. But, he was greatly relieved at her response that she would immediately come over. Luckily…
The neighbor across wasn’t actually going to not come and rescue him.
Just now, Jiang Ziya had understood that he couldn’t call home. Zhang Dongqi had already told him that his brother-in-law couldn’t be considered a practitioner. That meant he couldn’t get his brother-in-law involved. If something happened to both his brother-in-law and him, then what was his sister to do?
If he called Lu Yang, that fellow wouldn’t be able to come up with a girl’s voice on the spot to respond. They’d definitely get seen through. At that time, his life would be forfeit. The boss was the same. He couldn’t expect that Fu Jun would be able to mimic the voice of a three year old little girl.
In a hurry, Jiang Ziya could only call the neighbor across from him. Since Yu Shu was able to make the characters in her books come alive, then it shouldn’t be too hard for her to come up with a girl’s voice, right?
Good thing he hadn’t chosen the wrong person.
Zhang Dongqi came over to take the phone. Then, he actually pushed the barrel of the gun against Jiang Ziya’s forehead. A sinister smiled spread across his face.
Why? Jiang Ziya was shocked. Doesn’t he need my permission to take an artifact demon? Xiao Xue told me that before. How can he kill me? Then—
Jiang Ziya’s entire body shuddered. His eyes were wide, face dripping with water.
Zhang Dongqi guffawed. He tossed the water gun in his hand at Jiang Ziya and mockingly said, “I’m not worthless like that Zhang Dongping. What practitioner would carry around something like a gun? It’s not like we’re mafia!”
He looked at Jiang Ziya and sneered, “But carrying around a water gun isn’t a bad idea. At least, you normal people are the most scared of stuff like this. All I have to do is wave it around, and you’re quivering like a quail, willing to do anything. Last time, I used a gun and pointed just like this, and the guy was even able to kill his wife and son. This is much easier than setting up some barrier dimension. Hahaha—”
Even though what he carried was a water gun, Jiang Ziya felt that this guy was much scarier than his cousin, who had carried a real gun.