Illusions, Lies, Truth Volume 2: Human Doll Contract Part Two
Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 4: This Bookstore’s… Part 1—Boss—translated by lucathia (proofread by Trespasserby)
When Fu Taiyi picked up the new books the deliveryman had just delivered, a hefty thirty something in number, he was greatly shocked. Either these authors all published nothing, or they would all release books at the same time! They gave no consideration to how the reader would have to buy so many books all at once. It’s very hard for them, okay!
As he offhandedly flipped through them, looking to see if there were any novels he was currently following, Fu Taiyi came across a familiar title. He immediately made a sound.
“What a rare occurrence. I thought Yu Shu would drag it out for a few more months before releasing more in this series. I’ve been pestered to death by the readers. She’s finally willing to release the next volume.”
Spirited, Fu Taiyi directly tore off the plastic around the book, too lazy to even take inventory of the rest, and immediately began reading.
The book’s genre was futuristic sci-fi, depicting a story about heroes. He was truthfully not all that interested in this kind of material, but he liked the main character in the story a lot—actually, it couldn’t really be considered “like.” It was just that every time he read about the main character dithering over an insignificant problem, in addition to having a strange persistence in several matters, Fu Taiyi would have the urge to reprimand the guy severely. Usually, he would finish reading the book while berating the main character the entire time.
It was a rare reading experience to yell while reading yet still not dislike the book. Therefore, Fu Taiyi did quite like the book.
After he made tea to ready his throat, he opened the novel. Just as Fu Taiyi was about to scold the main character, he saw someone rush into the bookstore.
He frowned as he lifted his head, thinking it to be some kind of demon. He was thinking of hollering to chase it out, but he saw that the one who had run inside was actually his son, who had skipped class for once.
“Xiao Dong, you’re back?” Fu Taiyi was elated. He said, “Perfect. Watch the store for me. I’m going to read—”
“Like hell you’re reading!” Fu Jun was furious. He scolded, “Isn’t that book on sale in the store? Why did you unwrap it?”
“I collect this series. I always order an extra one to keep for myself. It’s not like you don’t know that.” Fu Taiyi felt wronged and said, “Why did you suddenly scold me? You know, I’m still your father when it all comes down to it.”
Fu Jun glared at his so-called “father.” He never had the air of a father, so how would he be able to treat him as one?
“If you’re my father, then close the shop. Come with me to find Peilun.”
Fu Taiyi lifted a brow.
“We shouldn’t get involved in matters of the surface world. We can’t use our powers against normal people. Haven’t I told you that? It’s fine if you want to search for Peilun, but you must use your own eyes and feet in the search. The addition of my eyes and feet wouldn’t make a difference.”
Fu Jun shook his head. “But Xie Peilun could have gotten involved with the innerworld. When Jiang Ziya and I went to search for him—”
When he said that, he saw Fu Taiyi stand up abruptly. His face is frightening!
Although Taiyi was usually always fooling around, once he grew serious, even Fu Jun would pull back, no longer daring to put on the airs of a little adult toward his father.
“Who did you say you were with?” Fu Taiyi actually used a serious tone to ask.
It was evident that Jiang Ziya had not come with Fu Jun. When he heard Fu Jun’s words, Fu Taiyi felt uneasy. This is definitely not a good sign.
His complexion was terrifying as he asked, “Where is he?”
Fu Jun didn’t dare keep it hidden. He immediately recounted everything in detail.
“The one inside the alley is Fortune Misfortune Hand in Hand—Old Man Huofu.” Fu Taiyi felt his head hurting a lot as he said, “The alley was sealed off a long time ago. Why did you head inside for no reason?”
“To find Peilun…” Fu Jun answered quietly.
Fu Taiyi felt his head hurt even more.
If he knew this would happen, he wouldn’t have let Fu Jun take a day off to search. At first, he had thought that it was great that Fu Jun cared about his classmate. This could be a good life experience, no matter if he could or couldn’t find the kid in the end. If he could find him, that was of course a happy ending. If he couldn’t find him, Fu Jun might feel dejected, but that was a normal thing to feel in this world. Fu Taiyi was very content to let Fu Jun experience that.
He didn’t think that Fu Jun would run into Jiang Ziya. If he hadn’t, with Xiao Dong’s powers, there was no way he could have opened that pathway.
Fu Taiyi had prepared for every contingency, but he just had to have overlooked the variable known as Jiang Ziya.
…Sigh, Old friend Jiang Shang, this responsibility you’ve left behind really is too heavy.
Seeing Fu Jun’s puzzled and dissatisfied expression, yet he didn’t dare to retort, Fu Taiyi couldn’t help curbing his cold demeanor. No matter how mature Fu Jun usually acts, isn’t he still just a kid?
Even though he had told Xiao Dong that Jiang Ziya was very special before, and he had also instructed him not to tell that fellow anything, not to involve him in the innerworld, recently, Jiang Ziya had walked inside on his own. Therefore, he had also told Fu Jun that he could slowly start telling Jiang Ziya some things, but not to tell him too much just yet…
Even Fu Taiyi felt that he was being contradictory, let alone Fu Jun, who was a kid.
“Ziya must have found your classmate already. That’s good fortune. But he has definitely run into trouble. That’s misfortune. Once you have heard Old Man Huofu’s words, fortune and misfortune come hand in hand. That’s why that pathway was sealed. Even though both fortune and misfortune happen, it’s always misfortune more than fortune.”
Hearing that Jiang Ziya had run into trouble, Fu Jun’s face immediately paled. Then, when he heard that misfortune happened more than fortune, he really couldn’t keep calm anymore. He hurriedly said, “I-I told him to find Lu Yang-gē to go with him. Taiyi, didn’t you say that Lu Yang-gē is very strong?”
Fu Taiyi said unhappily, “Aren’t you forgetting something? I said ‘for his age.’ He is rather strong, with rare, innate talent. It’s not common to come across that anymore in this age. However, if this were long ago, he would have just been considered one of the stronger ones and not a rare talent.”
Fu Jun cared little about “long ago.” He only cared about right now!
“Then, can Lu Yang-gē protect Ziya-gē or not?”
“I can’t be certain.” Fu Taiyi was serious as he said, “From what you told me, your classmate seems to have been taken away by someone after getting chased by a demon. However, that alley doesn’t have any demons residing there. There’s also no way he could have entered Old Man Huofu’s barrier dimension. Also, logically, a child that’s only in elementary school couldn’t have disturbed too powerful a demon. With all these points considered, I believe that a practitioner is involved.”
Hearing that, Fu Jun’s eyes immediately lit up. He said, “Since a practitioner is involved, that means you have to step in, right, Taiyi?”
Fu Taiyi rolled his eyes at his son. “What are you being so happy about? If a practitioner is involved, your Ziya-gē would be in even bigger trouble!”
“If Taiyi is lending a hand, then there’s no problem anymore.” Fu Jun felt that it was better if a practitioner was involved. Then, he would be able to force Fu Taiyi to step in.
“It better be something that will be resolved when I step in. Just who do you think your dad is?”
Fu Jun raised his head and softly said, “God of the Eastern Sky, Dong Huang, of course.”
At these kinds of times, he had utmost confidence in his father.
Fu Taiyi smiled and said, “Not yet, my little Lord of the East, Dong Jun.”1
He extended his hand to rub Fu Jun’s head, causing the other to roll his eyes at him unhappily. However, Fu Jun didn’t dare to scold him like usual, allowing Fu Taiyi to greatly benefit. He couldn’t help rubbing and rubbing that little head. In the end, he successfully angered his son, who grabbed his hand and roughly shoved it away.
Fu Taiyi laughed loudly and said, “All right, call Lu Yang and Ziya. Ask them where they are. I’ll go and meet up with them. It’s time to let them know a bit about some things. After all, guiding the young has always been one of our duties.”
Fu Jun smiled and nodded. Just as he was about to dial them, his cell phone began ringing on its own. The contact person displayed on his screen was even Lu Yang.
He answered the call, his tone happy as he said, “Lu Yang-gē, Taiyi and I are just about—”
“Ziya was kidnapped.” Lu Yang’s tone was frigid.
Fu Jun froze, his head full of the phrase “misfortune more than fortune.”
Yu Shu watched House Keeper place the phone down, feeling rather annoyed and angry. The previous wave hadn’t even settled yet, and another was already coming. That brat Jiang Ziya made things even more dramatic than what happened in novels!
She was just a person responsible for writing novels. She had no plans to live the life of a novel!
“What? Has that brat run into more trouble?”
House Keeper made a conjecture, “I think he has been kidnapped. The target seems to be that artifact demon again, Xiao Xue.”
Hearing that, Yu Shu instead relaxed and casually said, “As long as his truth-seeing eye and the ‘truth’ at home aren’t discovered, that’s fine. If his eye is discovered, and that his family has a ‘truth’ as well, it wouldn’t be strange if his entire family were kidnapped!”
When House Keeper heard that, he frowned. Seeing that Yu Shu didn’t seem to have much of a reaction, he couldn’t help but ask, “Do you plan to rescue him?”
When she heard him, Yu Shu looked back at her own illusory familiar with not quite a smile. She asked, mockingly, “How about you? Do you want to rescue him?”
House Keeper’s eyes flickered. He said respectfully, “I only consider what Mistress considers.”
“What are you considering?”
Not waiting for Yu Shu’s response, Hold Keeper walked out with a yawn. He even held in his hand a red apple that he had been eating.
Wrong! There really is something wrong! Yu Shu’s face twitched.
In the books, Hold Keeper clearly didn’t like apples. So what’s going on with him eating apples day and night ever since he’s been out? Even if he veers off path, it doesn’t have to be in the complete opposite direction, right?
“I am considering whether or not to rescue Jiang Ziya,” House Keeper said in order to remind Yu Shu again.
“Why rescue him?” Hold Keeper took a bite out of the bright red apple. As he chewed, he said, “Didn’t you just head over wanting to lure away that Jiang Qibing guy, so that Mistress could go with Jiang Yu to bring the artifact demon back, but you failed to trick him?”
House Keeper didn’t know why he was bringing that up now. Does he want to mock me for my failure again?
“Now, all we have to do is to tell them that Jiang Ziya is in trouble and suggest for them to have the girl stay at our place. Then, we can urge the husband and wife to quickly go and rescue Jiang Ziya. Wouldn’t we be able to easily get rid of that artifact demon this way? If we really wanted to, we could even get rid of that ‘truth’ or whatever it is, snipping all future trouble in the bud.”
Yu Shu stilled. She looked toward Hold Keeper. As expected of “that fellow,” he was amazing at taking advantage of the situation, and his schemes were truly great!
But so ruthless.
Wouldn’t this mean not caring about Jiang Ziya’s life?
Yu Shu felt a bit conflicted. Even though she knew that Hold Keeper was just an illusion, and he was even an illusory familiar of the lowest power level, so he wouldn’t have many emotions, after interacting with him for all these days, just how did Hold Keeper even resemble an “illusion” with no feelings? His emotions were practically even more abundant than House Keeper’s, who had become a “lie!”
Seeing him so ruthless, Yu Shu couldn’t help lamenting that her “younger son” had grown astray, and she couldn’t even blame it on classmates leading him astray. She really had to quickly put him back on the straight and narrow, since if Hold Keeper really became a bad person, then wouldn’t she be the one in deep trouble?
“I can’t watch that Jiang Ziya guy disappear or breathe his last breath just like this.”
Yu Shu’s feelings were conflicted as she admitted, “If I really didn’t care about the lives of the family across from us, I wouldn’t give a damn over their possession of an artifact demon. All I would have to do is stay in this home. Don’t even mention artifact demons. Even against that ‘truth’ of theirs, I wouldn’t be scared.”
Of course, she would much rather prefer that the neighbors only consisted of humans.
Hold Keeper gave an “oh” and didn’t say anything else.
House Keeper relaxed a bit. It sounds like Mistress will rescue Jiang Ziya.
Yu Shu sighed deeply. The saying “A close neighbor is much more valuable than a faraway relative” really was true. A close neighbor was much better at bringing trouble than a faraway relative!
She lazily stood up and raised her head to glance up at the katana on her wall with regret. That was her handiest weapon, yet it was too flashy in the real world. She could only change her weapon.
“House Keeper, are you able to temporarily disguise as Xiao Xue?”
House Keeper honestly answered, “I am unable to. Our builds are too different, and I do not have the ability to shift. If it were a body around my size or slightly larger, I am able to disguise as that for a while. However, I am unable to shrink to the size of a three year old little girl.”
Yu Shu tsked and grabbed her head before she turned.
“I’m heading over to the neighbors for a bit.”
As she said that, she was already at the door.
Hold Keeper’s face paled as he called out to her. He asked worriedly, “Wait, are you heading over by yourself? There are two demons there! Shouldn’t you at least bring House Keeper with you?”
Yu Shu shot him a glance and gleefully said, “Son, you already know how to worry for your mom? I’m so touched!”
“…Go die already!”
“You cannot tell the mistress things like go die!”
House Keeper grew angry. It was one thing for Hold Keeper to run his mouth like usual, but mentioning the word “die” at this kind of time made him feel deeply uneasy.
Hold Keeper fell silent. For once, he didn’t mouth back.
“All right, this isn’t a big deal. Don’t you two brothers argue.”
After Yu Shu finished consoling them, she saw that they were still glaring at each other, so she could only change the topic, “House Keeper, Hold Keeper, get ready. You’ll be coming with me later.”
“As you command.” House Keeper nodded.
Hold Keeper didn’t think he would also be able to go. He immediately agreed happily, already forgetting about exchanging glares with House Keeper.
Yu Shu immediately went to knock on the neighbors’ door.
The person who opened the door was Jiang Yu. She put in no effort to hide her surprise, saying, “Yu Shu? This is so rare! You’re actually willing to leave your apartment. Come in, come in.”
Yu Shu walked into an apartment that was not her own with no reservations. After all, Jiang Yu had been over at her place just now, chattering away half the night, giving Yu Shu plenty of time to send her son over to scare Yu Shu’s husband half to death. Therefore, there was no need for niceties between them.
“Yu Shu, are you here to continue chatting?”
Jiang Yu was a little curious. Even though she loved to have Yu Shu over, they had only just chatted until they had almost run out of things to talk about. The scene had become a bit awkward, so Jiang Yu had taken her leave. So why has Yu Shu come over?
“Can you let me borrow your kids to have a chat?”
Jiang Yu blinked, not quite understanding what she meant.
Yu Shu splayed her hands out and said, “I have to write about a kid in my manuscript, but I’m a bit stuck and couldn’t write anything. I just happened to remember that you have actual kids here, so I thought I’d come over to chat with them to see if I could find some inspiration.”
She really had to admit that sometimes being an author was a really convenient profession. No matter the scope of what she did, including kidnapping kids even, she could use the phrase “gathering material” to explain it away every single time.
“I see.” Jiang Yu smiled and said, “But don’t scare them! They’re both in their room. I’ll take you there.”
On the way, Yu Shu also saw Jiang Qibing. However, the moment he saw her, he froze. He immediately said he was going to the kitchen to make milk tea for them. Then, he fled with an embarrassed expression.
“Does your hubby not want me here?”
Jiang Yu coughed once, eyes darting at Yu Shu’s chest area.
Yu Shu lowered her head. Oh, I’m wearing a tank top, short shorts, and flip flops. I forgot to change before I left, but there are plenty of girls on the streets who wear a lot more revealing stuff than I do! It’s just that I’m a bit lacking in youth and a bit more plentiful in chubby fat. Cut me some slack here, come on!
“Your hubby sure is pure hearted. This kind of man is hard to find. He’s a keeper.”
Jiang Yu rolled her eyes at her and said, “Have you forgotten we’re already married? I’ve kept him well in my grasp!”
“That’s true. Once you saw a good man, you didn’t let go of him even though he was your teacher. You sure are a tough gal. Color me impressed, super impressed.”
Jiang Yu rolled her eyes at her even harder.
When they entered the room, it was obvious that one girl’s gaze was alarmed and the other’s gaze was wary, but Yu Shu ignored all of that. She sat in front of the two little girls with no reservation. One of the girls immediately hid behind the other.
Yu Shu waved her hand at Jiang Yu and said, “You can leave. If their mom is here, kids aren’t able to speak very naturally. I want them to be more natural. Don’t be a hindrance here.”
“Yes, yes, this hindrance will leave now.”
Jiang Yu felt that she really must be too lonely. With Yu Shu’s way of talking that could frustrate a person to death, Jiang Yu still wanted to converse with her, and she was even having such a good time. Goodness!
“Remember to come out for milk tea later.”
“I don’t drink that kind of stuff. Do you have coffee?”
“No more coffee! You’re going to have milk tea!” Jiang Yu said resolutely, “I’ll tell Qibing to use an insulated pot. When you come out later, it’ll still be warm.”
“On such a hot day, adding ice cubes is the real way to go!”
“Girls shouldn’t drink cold drinks!”
Against Jiang Yu, Yu Shu couldn’t figure out why she always came out disadvantageous. She could only rub her nose and let it go. It was just a pot of warm milk tea. It wasn’t like she hated it. In any case, the main point right now wasn’t drinking tea.
When she saw Jiang Yu leave, Yu Shu turned to face the two little girls. They were just like two cats with their hackles raised and tails stepped on.
“Don’t worry, I can’t destroy you here.” Yu Shu indifferently said, “I’m a dragon in my own place, and I’m even on the level of a divine dragon, but I’m just a worm outside of it, only slightly better than an earthworm. Or else, why do you think I hate going out so much?”
When they heard that, the two girls finally stopped glaring as much, but Xiao Xue still hid behind Jiang Jiang’s back, unwilling to show herself.
“I have something to discuss with you.” Yu Shu pointed at Xiao Xue. “Yes, you, stop hiding. Don’t think that just because I’m currently an earthworm, I can’t tell you and Jiang Jiang apart.”
Xiao Xue widened her eyes. What does this neighbor have to discuss with me? Is it discussing what method to use to burn me?
Yu Shu bluntly said, “Jiang Ziya was captured. The other party wants you to head over there. I’m giving you three minutes to decide. If this is dragged out any longer, I don’t think there’d be a need to go over there anymore.”
“Yaya-gēge was captured?” Xiao Xue cried out, immediately turning her head to look at Jiang Jiang. Last time, it was Ziya-gē’s classmate who was captured. Jiang Jiang wasn’t willing to rescue him, but now that Jiang Ziya himself was captured, Jiang Jiang wouldn’t treat it as something that had nothing to do with her, right?
“You can’t get involved.” Yu Shu glanced at Jiang Jiang and said, “If someone discovers that a ‘truth’ has appeared in this family, your entire family will get kidnapped! That’s why this matter can’t ever be discovered. Don’t stick your nose in this. Obediently stay by Jiang Yu’s side as a three year old girl, got it?”
Jiang Jiang looked warily at her and said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Very good. Yu Shu nodded and looked toward Xiao Xue, stating the main goal she had come here for today.
“If you come with me to rescue Jiang Ziya, then I won’t burn you.”
When she heard that, Xiao Xue’s eyes lit up.
“But there’s a condition.”
Hearing the “but,” Xiao Xue’s face fell. It’s never that easy.
“From now on, you must live in my home.”
Xiao Xue’s eyes widened. She immediately loudly protested, “I don’t want to!”
“It’s not up to you.” Yu Shu said impatiently, “Your existence as an artifact demon keeps reminding Jiang Jiang that she’s not human. As long as you leave, she will truly become a ‘truth.’ She will become a true, little girl, no longer bound by what’s true or false.”
Xiao Xue froze. I’m to blame for Jiang Jiang being unable to become a real little girl?
“Originally, burning you would have been the easiest method to solve this, but it wouldn’t be easy to get Jiang Ziya onboard. Besides, killing you might cast a shadow over Jiang Yu. With the current situation in their family, this shadow might develop into a very scary result… So, seeing that you likely haven’t harmed anyone, I’ll force myself to take you in.”
In actuality, Yu Shu was all sorts of unwilling. Things like artifact demons were much more troublesome than illusory familiars. If it weren’t for her absolute authority in her own home, so the other party would never be able to cause even a tiny ripple, she would never take in an artifact demon.
It was just that House Keeper and Hold Keeper could still leave the apartment. As for Xiao Xue, Yu Shu would never let her take even a step outside of her home ever again.
“…No is no!” Xiao Xue’s tears were brimming.
She looked toward Jiang Jiang, wanting the other to speak up for her.
Yu Shu immediately looked toward Jiang Jiang as well. Truthfully, Xiao Xue’s wishes weren’t important. She really wasn’t powerful enough. Jiang Jiang was the important one. She was what prevented Yu Shu from taking this opportunity to destroy Xiao Xue—Cough. Yeah, she had lied. Even though she was an earthworm, she was still able to get rid of Xiao Xue.
“If she’s just across from you, you can visit her at any time. That would be the best for everyone.”
Yu Shu tried to persuade Jiang Jiang. Since the latter had already become a “truth,” then she must greatly desire becoming a real girl. She wouldn’t want to keep being called “true” or “false.” She would just want to be a little girl.
However, Yu Shu didn’t explain that as time passed and Jiang Jiang became a real girl, she probably wouldn’t remember Xiao Xue any longer.
Jiang Jiang lowered her head in thought. Even though Xiao Xue’s tear-filled eyes made her waver, she also knew that if things continued like this, how much longer could they keep it from Bàba?
In the future, they would attend kindergarten. Even if Xiao Xue could become a “lie,” becoming a “truth” was highly improbable. If she attended kindergarten, letting the teacher and students interact with her for extended periods of time, they would definitely figure out that something was wrong. Xiao Xue’s real identity would get harder and harder to conceal as she grew older…
“Xiao Xue, go live in Yu Shu’s home. I’ll take Māma there to visit you often.” Jiang Jiang’s eyes drifted to the side. She was unwilling to look at Xiao Xue, yet she couldn’t help explaining, “At least, that’s better than getting burned.”
Xiao Xue bit on her lips, unwilling to say anything.
“So? Want to agree to my invitation?” Yu Shu asked, unperturbed, “You still have thirty seconds left to consider it. After that, I’m leaving. Your ‘Yaya-gēge’ will get killed with the ransom unfulfilled, and some other day, House Keeper will definitely be able to find the opportunity to burn you—”
“Okay, I agree to your invitation,” Xiao Xue finally said, but her head was lowered, her expression completely hidden.
“Very good.” Yu Shu stood up and stretched. “I’m going to return home to change. Meet you downstairs in three minutes. We’re going to save that idiot brother of yours.”
She left without looking back. There was no time to waste—and she didn’t want to drink warm milk tea either. Therefore, she rushed straight out of the Jiang’s home, not stopping even when Jiang Yu called after her.
“Inspiration suddenly hit me! I’m afraid I’ll forget, so I’m going to write now. See you next time!”
Jiang Yu stared with her jaw dropped as Yu Shu rushed out like the wind. Her door was slammed shut, while she still had a pot of milk tea in her hand.
Jiang Qibing stood beside her, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. “This friend of yours sure has quite the personality…”
…I know, right? Jiang Yu placed a hand against her forehead, once again feeling that she must have been too lonely.
1 Lord of the East, Dong Jun: Dong Jun (東君, Lord of the East) and Dong Huang (東皇, God of the Eastern Sky) are featured in two poems from Jiu Ge (九歌, Nine Songs), an ancient set of Chinese poems addressed to the spirits of fallen warriors who fought far from home. The Jiu Ge poems seem to be the inspiration behind Fu Taiyi’s and Fu Jun’s characters. Si Ming (司命, Master of Fate), who was mentioned in volume 1, is also from Jiu Ge and has corresponding poems. For more information, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiu_Ge.