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 3—Author—translated by lucathia (proofread by EvlNabiki & Trespasserby)
Yu Shu walked along the street, a toy longsword in her hand.
Along the way, plenty of children stared at her plastic sword, and many wanted to rush over and snatch it to play with it. The adults next to them could only keep a tight hold on them. Their gazes seem to mock this “auntie” who was still playing with toys at her age.
But all that didn’t matter. It was better than carrying a katana and having Mr. Policeman take her in for tea. Besides, the favor she was doing was going right on Jiang Ziya’s tab.
However, Yu Shu was still a bit irked. Why do I feel that I have the worse end of the deal? I only had Jiang Ziya go to the supermarket to buy stuff once, and a bunch of things resulted. She had only started keeping a tab not long ago, and she already felt that Jiang Ziya would probably need to do grocery shopping for her for his entire lifetime before he could pay off the debt.
Only children paid Yu Shu attention, but all sorts of people paid attention to the man following behind her.
House Keeper wore a dress shirt, vest, and dress pants. Wearing this outfit outside was not as strange of a sight as wearing it at home, but he was carrying a large, red backpack on his back. There were even decorative devil wings on both sides of the bag. Paired with his classical, refined demeanor and walking under the colorful neon city lights, the incongruity of his image shot through the roof.
What House Keeper had brought up to her earlier was correct—he and Hold Keeper should buy some t-shirts and jeans to wear.
She just hoped that these two people from olden times wouldn’t look too weird wearing ordinary youngsters’ clothing… Wait, House Keeper is clearly from a futuristic, technological age!
For the first time, Yu Shu regretted her bad habit of always liking to design ironic characters.
“I am sorry, I am here with her.” For the fifth time already, House Keeper turned down a female who was making a pass at him. Each and every time, he used Yu Shu, who was walking ahead of him, as the excuse.
Seeing those women swing incredulous stares at her, and some even had gazes tinged with merciless disdain, Yu Shu glared back at them viciously.
Disdain? That’s my son, not my man. If you want to be my daughter-in-law, you should be crawling over and calling me Mom—Bleh! Who wants them to call me Mom?!
Someone is actually calling me Mama? And this voice even sounds like a guy’s!
Yu Shu stilled, looking over with a scowl.
A man had his mouth hanging open so wide that it had become an O. He pointed a shaking finger at House Keeper, his face full of disbelief. He blurted, “Ch-Charles!”
Yu Shu started, reflexively glancing toward House Keeper, who was startled but elated. The expression on his face seemed to appear even more human than before by a few smidgeons. Yu Shu was so annoyed that she narrowed her eyes, her expression rather threatening. Toward this guy who had randomly called and revealed her butler’s true name, her hatred directly shot up by fifty percent.
“This is the first time I’ve seen such a spot on cosplay!”
Fu Taiyi walked over happily. The two people behind him both frowned. One of them was a child who was holding onto the other person, who looked like a university student, telling him not to worry. The child’s face was stiff while he rather seriously consoled that university student. This sight was beyond strange.
Yu Shu blocked House Keeper, preventing Fu Taiyi from observing him from too close of a distance. Although House Keeper was already a “lie,” and it was dark, so normal people shouldn’t spot any discrepancies, and even if they did see anything, they would write it off as their eyes playing tricks on them, it was still better to invite as little trouble as possible.
Fu Taiyi was already crowding Yu Shu, yet he approached even closer. Taking such an action toward a woman was truly rather brash. House Keeper moved forward, wanting to step in front of Yu Shu, but Yu Shu actually used her plastic sword to block him, not permitting him to step forward.
Yu Shu was certain that this fellow before her wasn’t trying to cop a feel off of her.
Fu Taiyi said, “This one is the God of the Eastern Sky, Taiyi. Dare I ask who you are? You actually dared to bring a demon onto the streets so impetuously!”
God of the Eastern Sky, Taiyi? Yu Shu snorted and said, “And I’m the Heavenly Goddess, Xuannü!1 You’re just a person and you dare to claim you’re a god?”
Fu Taiyi smiled slightly and didn’t get mad. He said, “I don’t dare to. It’s just a name.”
“Jiu Ge, right?”
Yu Shu had heard of them before. Jiu Ge was one of the local powers behind Zhongxiang City. She had completely no interest in provoking them. Even though she was invincible at home, and she didn’t go outside much, there would always be times when she had to go out. Avoiding making sworn enemies outside was the true way of life.
“I’m just an author. Not a famous name, no number, no money. Move!”
“…Don’t tell me you’re Yu Shu?”
She had Charles with her on the streets and even said she was an author. If Fu Taiyi still couldn’t guess who she was, then he had truly read so many of her books for nothing.
Yu Shu narrowed her eyes but suddenly remembered that the other person had just recognized Charles and even called out his name. After learning that she was an author, he immediately knew her penname…
“You’ve read my books?” She asked, pleased, her tune completely changing.
Fu Taiyi nodded.
“So you’re actually a reader of mine?” A smile blossomed. See, even Jiu Ge has readers of mine! I can be considered a pretty famous author!
She was so happy that even her eyebrows were arching.
But right now, she couldn’t be bothered with readers. If she didn’t hurry, her grocery shopping lackey was going to kick the bucket.
“I’m a bit busy. I’ll give you an autograph next time. See ya.”
After saying that, she tugged on House Keeper, intent on leaving.
Fu Taiyi was shocked. This brash woman is the author behind that indecisive, old-fashioned, polite main character who worries about too much?
There has to be some mistake here!
“You’re the neighbors across from Ziya?”
Yu Shu stopped walking and looked toward the university student, who had just spoken. Huh, quite a handsome one. He’s actually half. What good material!
House Keeper said softly, “Mistress, we met him when we went to visit Jiang Ziya at the hospital.”
Outside the apartment, House Keeper should directly address her as Yu Shu, but that God of the Eastern Sky, Taiyi already seemed to know that he was a familiar. Obfuscation seemed rather unnecessary.
Yu Shu recalled the name that Jiang Ziya would often mutter and asked in return, “You’re Lu Yang?”
Lu Yang nodded. Yu Shu hadn’t left much of an impression on him, but the man behind her sure had. It was hard to come by that kind of elegance in this current era.
Seeing the two adults and one kid before her, their expressions somber, Yu Shu had a light bulb go off. She blurted, “Hey, don’t tell me you guys are looking for Jiang Ziya?”
They nodded, stunned.
“Oh, awesome, I’m on my way to rescue him.”
When they heard that, Fu Taiyi, Fu Jun, and Lu Yang all sincerely did not know whether they should beat Jiang Ziya up or this woman in front of them. They had been searching frantically here, relying on Fu Taiyi’s miniscule sensing to keep on searching back and forth, panicking to the point that smoke was about to fume from their heads. Yet, this woman had shown up out of nowhere and said she was going to save him, and she even looked like she knew where he was. How could they not be angry?
“How do you know where he is?” Lu Yang asked, deeply suspicious. Although he had heard Jiang Ziya mention the neighbor across from him, he recalled that they had only begun interacting recently. It was impossible that this neighbor would run off to rescue him just because Ziya had been kidnapped.
Yu Shu said in frustration, “It’s all because he called me asking for help. I had no choice!”
“Why did Ziya-gē call you for help?” Fu Jun asked in confusion. Jiang Ziya had clearly been helping him search for his classmate when he had disappeared. Shouldn’t he call me or Lu Yang for help?
The other two had the same doubts, and they also felt a bit hurt. One was his boss who had known him for several years, and the other was his friend who had known him for several years. Yet, Jiang Ziya chose the neighbor for help?
“Um…” Yu Shu rubbed her chin and said, “I think it’s because he felt that only I would be able to come up with a little girl’s voice to respond to him? When he called, he addressed my butler as Jiěfu right off the bat, and then he adamantly demanded to speak with his family’s artifact demon. I bet the culprit was next to him, demanding him to hand the artifact demon over.”
Lu Yang abruptly came to a realization and snapped, “It was you, wasn’t it? You told Jiang Ziya all those things and got him involved in the innerworld!”
“My ass!” Yu Shu furiously said, “He was the one who barged into my place and caused a bunch of things to happen, putting me behind on my manuscript!”
Were you not behind on your manuscript because of bringing Hold Keeper and me into existence? Jiang Ziya does not seem to be involved. Moreover, before Jiang Ziya had barged inside their home, he had been helping the mistress take out the trash. He had been the one to appear before Jiang Ziya.
To the side, House Keeper chose to remain silent, a perfectly obedient demon.
“You’re one to speak!” Fu Taiyi also chose to enter the blame game, but his target was Lu Yang. “Who was it who kept waving that sword around in front of Jiang Ziya? Aren’t you doing it on purpose? You’re trying to take advantage of Ziya’s left eye to make your sword become more and more real!”
“I’m not!” Lu Yang flushed red and explained, “It’s because a death god appeared then. He seemed like he was going to attack us, so I had to chase him away. I had no other choice but to call Slay out.”
…Come to think of it, I have something to do with that death god. So, I am to blame, too?
Fu Taiyi didn’t dare to say anything more.
Yu Shu wasn’t about to be outdone. She scolded Lu Yang, “It was obviously your fault! A death god is no big deal. Did you have to swing your sword around for that? And you dared to scold me. Pot, meet kettle! I’ve told Jiang Ziya before. You’re up to no good!”
“What did you say?!”
Fu Jun gave a loud, long shout. His young voice was so high that it could disperse the clouds, shocking the passersby around them, who darted their eyes at the kid, one after another. Then, they used disdainful gazes to stare at the adults by the child.
Fu Jun snapped, “You three all had a part in getting Ziya-gē involved! But right now, who got him involved isn’t important. We need to hurry and rescue Ziya-gē. Stop fighting.”
Hearing that, the three adults began reflecting over how their actions just now had been more immature than a kid’s.
“Jiang Ziya gave me an address.” Yu Shu told the other two. “I’ve already wasted too much time here. If I don’t hurry over, I’m worried I’d have to collect his dead body. You’re coming with me, right?”
“Of course!” Lu Yang immediately answered.
Still, when Lu Yang heard her say “collect his dead body,” he was so angry that he kind of wanted to start another fight with this woman. She doesn’t even look all that young. How could she be so thoughtless with her words? Talking about collecting his dead body in this kind of situation, it can’t get any unluckier than that!
But, this really isn’t a good time to be arguing. He could only quash his anger.
Fu Taiyi frowned. “There are so many of us. We might alert them to our presence. Also, doesn’t the kidnapper want Xiao Xue? Did you bring her?”
“Xiao Xue, huh?” Yu Shu looked at Fu Taiyi and gave a cold snort. Looks like this guy is heavily involved with Jiang Ziya’s family. He even knows what the artifact demon in his family is called.
Lu Yang also shot a glance at Fu Taiyi, his face full of deep suspicion.
Fu Taiyi felt a cold draft behind him. All right, I really am one of the culprits who pushed Jiang Ziya into the innerworld, and with quite some strength, too.
“You…” Lu Yang spoke but stopped. He thought he shouldn’t bring up his suspicions at this kind of time. What was important was saving Jiang Ziya first.
Fu Taiyi and Jiang Ziya had known each other for several years already. If he really wanted to harm Jiang Ziya, he would have succeeded already. He wouldn’t need to wait until now, so it was unlikely that he would take action during a rescue mission. That neighbor is still more suspicious!
Yu Shu gestured at the large backpack on House Keeper’s back. They all clearly understood her.
“How about this…” Yu Shu said straightforwardly, “You have your abilities, and I have mine. I don’t think you’ll trust me, and I don’t want to trust you either. So how about we simply let Xiao Xue answer the invitation. We will each use our own abilities to hide. After that, we will each do our own thing.”
If it weren’t because of her agreement with Xiao Xue, after seeing these two people about to head off to save Jiang Ziya, Yu Shu would definitely have gone home after she told them the address. She didn’t want to have to clean up this mess. It was a pity that she had given the invitation. She had to see it to the end. Only then could she once and for all bring Xiao Xue home as her third doll.
“Just the way I want it,” Lu Yang replied indifferently.
Fu Taiyi inclined his head. Even though he preferred working together, and he didn’t like this kind of antagonistic atmosphere, he wasn’t close with Yu Shu. Also, he had blurted out Xiao Xue’s name just now, clearly making Yu Shu suspicious.
Lu Yang was also walking the path of hunting demons. This was not very compatible with his path in life.
Fu Taiyi had always coexisted peacefully with demons.
Looking toward that large backpack, he sympathized with Xiao Xue, who was stuffed inside. This child had already been pitiable since before, and there seemed to be no change now. Did she come voluntarily to rescue Jiang Ziya…
He glanced at Yu Shu. Probably not, huh?
Each with their own intentions, they arrived nearby the location indicated by the kidnapper. They looked over from a distance. It was actually a plot of empty land overgrown with weeds. For some reason, there were several cargo containers haphazardly dumped there. It was fairly late by now, with few people about in the area.
Seeing that this was the location, they all began frowning. This place was practically set up as the perfect place to kill someone.
They looked toward Yu Shu in unison. She waved at House Keeper, who walked over and handed Yu Shu the doll that had been in the backpack. Then, he put the backpack back on.
That doll had white hair, blue eyes, and snowy white skin. She did not look like a typical doll but had a snow kingdom kind of feel. She was a rather unique doll, just that there was some dust on her body. She wasn’t dirty, but it was easy to tell that she was aged.
At this time, the doll suddenly began struggling. At first, you could pass the movement off as someone shaking her, but then her limbs began to move as well. Her neck extended, shaking the head portion as if wanting to shake free of something.
The doll’s cotton surface also began to change, turning smoother, like a person’s skin. It was beyond odd, the state between cotton and skin, like a block of human skin and cloth had been sewn together.
After that, the nails on the fingers also began growing one by one…
Not long after, a cute girl appeared in Yu Shu’s arms, but she was a white haired, blue eyed child with snowy white skin. Her appearance couldn’t possibly be that of a Taiwanese child’s. She was very scared and timid, but she had no intentions to escape, instead obediently staying in Yu Shu’s arms.
As for why she had returned to her initial appearance, Yu Shu had also arranged that. No matter what, she could not use Jiang Jiang’s face. That would end up involving Jiang Jiang.
Lu Yang summoned Slay. Even though this would reveal his abilities ahead of time, while the other two hadn’t revealed their abilities at all, which definitely put him at a huge disadvantage, Slay could help him keep watch. Therefore, Lu Yang had to call Slay out ahead of time.
He had Slay float by his side on watch. Lu Yang purposely raised an eyebrow at the other two. I’ve already shown my power. Now it’s your turn.
Yu Shu raised the plastic sword in her hand, but even if you beat Lu Yang to death, he wouldn’t believe that that could really be used as a sword. It wasn’t like it was some hard resin. It was just a plastic sword that children played with. All an adult had to do was use some force to bend it, and it would snap in two.
Fu Taiyi was even more ridiculous. He answered with a straightforward, stupid grin, as if he didn’t understand Lu Yang’s silent prodding at all.
Meeting a woman who was all sorts of unreliable, plus a practically unscrupulous bookstore owner, Lu Yang felt completely helpless. Just what kind of company does Jiang Ziya keep?
Yu Shu placed Xiao Xue on the ground and gave her a command. “Walk over slowly. We naturally have our ways to follow you secretly.”
Xiao Xue nodded timidly. She couldn’t help but sneak a glance at Fu Taiyi. It was too bad that a doll that hadn’t been alive for long could not win against a wily human. Everyone had seen her action. Fu Taiyi could only smile even more idiotically.
“Okay.” Xiao Xue answered and said uneasily, “If that person speaks with me, what should I say?”
Everyone suddenly felt the uncomfortable feeling of bullying a little girl. Only Yu Shu mercilessly said, “Just pretend to be emotionless and walk over. If he speaks with you, you don’t have to say anything. We’re going to murder him directly!”
As she ranted, she pulled House Keeper into the dark to hide.
“Making me leave the apartment when it’s already this late. What if I fall behind on my manuscript again? It’s not like I can tell the readers that the neighbor across from me got kidnapped, and I went off to rescue him, so there will be no release this time—F***! That kind of excuse is even worse than the excuse of my hair hurting. No one’s gonna believe that!
“Dammit, this old lady is definitely going to chop that kidnapper up into seven times seven—forty-nine pieces to boil in my soup!”
Xiao Xue’s tears were almost about to overflow. Must I stay in this Yu Shu’s place from now on?
Do I have to? Can I return to my box to sleep instead?!
1 Heavenly Goddess, Xiannü”: Also known as Jiutian Xiannü, she is the goddess of war, sexuality, and longevity. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiutian_Xuann%C3%BC for more information.