Illusions, Lies, Truth Volume 3: In the Name of God, Part One
Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 1: College Life Part 1—The Classmate with an Angel—translated by lucathia (proofread by Trespasserby)
“Jiu Ge,” as passed down, is a set of songs from the Xia Dynasty, of which different gods are worshipped. There are a total of eleven elegies, those being: The Great Unity, God of the Eastern Sky, Dong Huang Taiyi; The Lord within the Clouds, Yunzhong Jun; The God of the Xiang, Xiang Jun; The Lady of the Xiang, Xiang Furen; The Greater Master of Fate, Da Si Ming; The Lesser Master of Fate, Shao Si Ming; The Lord of the East, Dong Jun; The River Earl, He Bo; The Mountain Spirit, Shan Gui; Hymn to the Fallen, Guo Shang; and Honoring the Dead, Li Hun.
Jiang Ziya stared at this introduction, his eyes wide. Taiyi and Dong Jun?
Those that are too powerful have special names.
Like those that you have to pick up incense to pray to.
…My boss isn’t human!
But, when I asked, Fu Jun clearly said that they’re human and that I was thinking too much. S-So what in the world is going on now?
Jiang Ziya felt that this world was way too fantastical. He should just return to reality and go to school. Even if his boss really were a god, it wasn’t like he could bless Ziya and help him win the lottery, so attending school obediently was the proper thing to do.
Besides, attending class had another benefit. He had classmate Lu Yang there to ask, and he wasn’t like Yu Shu who liked to play around with answering. Since he was full of questions, of course he should rush to find classmate Lu Yang!
As usual, Jiang Ziya parked his motorcycle in the university’s parking lot. Just as he was thinking of going to the campus store first to buy some fried noodles and bread to eat with Lu Yang, to avoid having to brave the crowd during lunch time, he saw an angel drifting in front of the parking lot exit. The angel was rather familiar too; it seemed to be the very angel that had thrown punches at a ghost.
In the past, Jiang Ziya had at most only dared to sneakily glance at these things, but now that he knew he had Jiěfu backing him up at home, Lu Yang with his demon-hunting, evil-dissipating skills at school, the neighbor who was raising illusory familiars across from his place, and even his boss and Fu Jun at work… As he listed them out, he began wondering where he had gone wrong with his life. Why is there no one simple around me?
But with all that, my own truth-seeing eye doesn’t seem to be all that special anymore? Jiang Ziya suddenly found his balance. “Since everyone is the same” was indeed the best balm.
Secure in the knowledge that he had back-up, Jiang Ziya walked super slowly. As he inched over, he secretly observed the angel at the exit.
The angel was truly beautiful, so much that he could not tell if the angel were male or female. The upper body was very solid. If it weren’t for the angel’s appearance and clothes being unlike any common person’s, Jiang Ziya would definitely have mistaken them for human. However, a glance at the lower body, and you would know that things were off—the legs were half transparent. If not for how the angel glowed faintly, making them appear holy, the angel was practically like a ghost.
Upon closer approach, Jiang Ziya saw a guy standing by the exit, holding a stack of flyers. The angel was floating serenely behind him.
Going by the guy’s attire, he should be a college classmate. He should be that person whose face hit a ghost last time, right? Jiang Ziya couldn’t quite remember what the other person looked like, but his attire was about the same, and the angel behind him was the same one, so it should be the same person.
The guy shyly held a flyer out to him and asked in a small voice, “Classmate, want to come watch a movie?”
Jiang Ziya didn’t take it. Lu Yang and Yu Shu had warned him countless times. After entering the innerworld, there were many things he had to pay attention to, such as “invitations.” Normal people didn’t understand those things, yet that was actually safer. Even if they agreed to something, it wouldn’t easily become an “invitation.” But after stepping foot into the innerworld, agreeing to anything could result in serious consequences.
Therefore, no matter what Jiang Ziya did now, he was much more careful, deeply afraid that he would accidentally agree to an “invitation,” and then his good friend and neighbor would join hands to blast him apart.
“Watch a movie?” He asked in confusion as he glanced at the angel out of the corner of his eye. The angel drifted behind the classmate’s right side, gaze completely focused on the classmate, not the least bit interested in Jiang Ziya.
Seeing his interest, the guy perked up and quickly introduced, “Yeah, we’re watching a series of horror movies. It’s a club activity, so it’s completely free! Want to come? It’s such a rare opportunity. Register early so you’ll have a spot!”
You’re standing in the parking lot blocking people, and you call this a rare opportunity? Jiang Ziya took measure of this classmate. He was dressed like any other college student, just that he was wearing thick glasses, so he looked a bit like a nerd, and was not dressed fashionably like Lu Yang. But it wasn’t too out there either. Jiang Ziya himself only won in the aspect that he wasn’t nearsighted.
Curious, he struck up a conversation with him and asked, “What’s your major?”
“Electrical Engineering. W-What about you?”
“Foreign Languages,” Jiang Ziya answered off-handedly. He asked suspiciously, “Aren’t engineering majors demanding? How do you have time for clubs?”
The guy smiled. “I still have to have a hobby! I’m Jian Zhi. Want to be friends?”
“…That Jiang Ziya?”
“Yeah, exactly that Jiang Ziya that goes fishing.”
Jian Zhi laughed out loud. “Your parents are really amusing.”
“They’re really in need of a beating, that’s what!” Jiang Ziya rolled his eyes several times.
“Hey, it’s not bad. At least, when you introduce yourself, you don’t have to worry about any awkward silences.”
That’s true. Offering his name was enough to make the entire class laugh.
At this time, the campus bell rang. Jiang Ziya scratched his head, thinking about how the professor of this course seemed to be quite satisfied with his assignments, while the only thing that wasn’t satisfactory was how frequently he skipped class. As long as he attended class, the professor would be very satisfied. Being late wasn’t a big deal, so he wasn’t all that worried about it.
“It’s class time!” Jian Zhi frantically stuffed the flyer in Jiang Ziya’s hand and said, “Take this. Remember to come watch. Ah, ah, I’ll write my cell phone number on it. If you’re coming, give me a call. I’ll definitely save an awesome seat for you!”
He then hurriedly took a pen out of his backpack and wrote down a string of numbers.
“I have to go now. There are even several screenings tonight. Remember to come!” Jian Zhi said again, worried.
There really must be a lack of people attending. Jiang Ziya didn’t say yes but he didn’t turn him down either. He waved his hand and said, “Bye!”
Jian Zhi didn’t think much about it. In fact, since Jiang Ziya had taken the initiative to chat with him, and they had spoken for a bit, he thought that Jiang Ziya would show up. Therefore, he happily waved his hand to bid farewell.
Jiang Ziya watched Jian Zhi leave with his eyes. Suddenly, the angel halted and turned to give him a smile, as if the angel were a parent who was happy that their child had made a friend. Then, the angel hurriedly drifted after Jian Zhi.
…I almost thought I had been discovered. So, it’s just “a parent’s goodwill?” Luckily, thanks to being trained by his many years of experience, Jiang Ziya could remain calm no matter the situation. Otherwise, the angel glancing back and smiling at him would have definitely made him give himself away.
It looks like it shouldn’t be a bad illusory familiar? Jiang Ziya relaxed a lot more. He lowered his head to look at the flyer, which detailed a ghost story. There were also a few photos of ghost houses. The time and location of the screening of the horror movies was written at the very bottom. It looked to be fairly professional. Coincidentally, Jiang Yu had been urging him to find a club to join. A club where he could watch free movies seemed to be pretty suitable.
I’ll go and take a look!
I should get Lu Yang to join with me, in case there’s roll call or whatnot. Thinking of that, Jiang Ziya suddenly felt a bit guilty. He had helped write a lot of Lu Yang’s assignments, but Lu Yang had also helped him with a bunch of roll calls. When it all came down to it, he really didn’t know which of them was more serious about attending school.
“After class today, I’m going to pick someone up from the airport with my grandpa.”
Lu Yang felt a bit frustrated. Jiang Ziya, who had never in a million years ever shown any interest in something like entertainment, wanted to join a club, yet Lu Yang wasn’t able to be there to witness it. I will definitely regret it my entire life!
Jiang Ziya was a bit surprised. He asked curiously, “Who are you picking up?”
“My parents. I’m not sure if both of them are coming back, or if it’s just one of them. They’re always changing their plans.”
“Go already.” Jiang Ziya waved his hands and said, unconcerned, “I’ll head over and take a look first. If it’s easy to join the club, it won’t be too late for you to join later.”
Lu Yang could only agree, but he looked at the flyer in disappointment. “Looks like there will be several screenings. I’ll definitely go with you next time!”
“No hurry. If I join, I’ll definitely drag you with me to help with attendance!”
Jiang Ziya took out the bread and fried noodles. Lunch break wasn’t long. He had to ask his questions and eat too. He waved the two food items in front of Lu Yang and asked, “Which one do you want?”
“Fried noodles!” Lu Yang immediately snatched the fried noodles. Then, he tossed over two cans of drinks and some bags of snacks.
“I knew you’re the Prince of Fried Noodles.”
“And you’re the Superman of Bread, Anpanman!” Lu Yang huffed in reply. “When is it ever not bread for you and fried noodles for me? Do you still need to ask?”
“Who knows if you’ll ever be tired of being the prince and will one day want to become superman?”
Jiang Ziya sat down and opened a drink to go with the bread. Although he knew that eating bread all the time wasn’t healthy, the short lunch break really made it so that he was too lazy to brave the crowd. Besides, he could just eat better for dinner.
As he ate, Jiang Ziya remembered that he had a bunch of questions he wanted to ask his demon-busting friend. He hurriedly inquired, “Oh right, are guardian spirits dangerous?”
Lu Yang asked cautiously, “Why do you ask? Did you come across something?”
“No, just that I saw an angel following someone around on campus. I went to ask Yu Shu and she said that it’s a guardian spirit. But you know how lazy that woman is. She didn’t even explain it clearly, just that guardian spirits are fairly harmless, so I don’t have to worry.”
Hearing that, Lu Yang relaxed and nodded as he said, “They’re indeed fairly harmless. Just like cockroaches.”
Thinking of that beautiful angel, and then thinking of cockroaches, Jiang Ziya seriously wished the comparison could be replaced with something else. Stop it with the cockroaches. I feel like every illusory familiar is going to sprout cockroach antennas on their heads at this rate.
“So, can guardian spirits really protect someone?”
Lu Yang admitted, “Nearly useless there.”
Jiang Ziya was shocked. “But the angel I saw could punch a ghost.”
“Oh, those are rarer, but not that rare. That ‘ghost’ wasn’t dangerous, right?”
“Not at all, he couldn’t touch anyone.” Jiang Ziya thought about it and asked another question, “Should I be calling it an illusory familiar? It’s actually not a ghost, right?”
“No need. When you say ‘angel’ or ‘ghost’ or whatnot, I can actually immediately understand what kind of spirit it is. Besides, whether they’re ghosts or not depends on everyone’s own definitions. Some people think those are angels and ghosts. Others think of them as illusory familiars. Some even think them to be artifact demons.”
Jiang Ziya asked in shock, “I understand with ghosts, but even guardian spirits can be artifact demons?”
“Of course.” Lu Yang nodded and solemnly said, “But those cases are rarer, and nearly all of them result in trouble, such as that person getting killed by the guardian spirit, or the friends and relatives around that person getting killed.”
Bringing up the wrong topic, Jiang Ziya could only say in embarrassment, “That’s why you’re so against Xiao Xue staying at my place.”
Lu Yang gave a “yeah” and reminded him again, “You have to keep the cell phone I gave you on you at all times. Did you get all the functions down?”
Jiang Ziya frowned when the cell phone was mentioned. It was a new smart phone that Lu Yang had shoved at him, and he had forced him to learn all of the functions.
“Stop being so awkward about it. The cell phone isn’t a gift. It’s an advance on your salary. In order to hire a practitioner with the powerful ability to dismantle barrier dimensions, that expense could purchase a stack of smart phones as tall as you, all of the same brand.”
Hearing that, Jiang Ziya could only rub his nose and let it go. He still owed Yu Shu a hundred thousand, so adding more to his debt didn’t matter. He would just have to pay it all back slowly.
“If anything comes up, call me right away.” Lu Yang said, unable to relax, “I’ll call you every night.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, I promise I won’t have an affair, okay?”
Lu Yang immediately interrogated resentfully, “Then, where did Xiao Xue come from?”
“My sis introduced us.”
Hearing that, Lu Yang couldn’t continue the joke. Once he thought of how they were a family with the truth-seeing eye, he really couldn’t joke about it.
Having blurted that out about his sister, Jiang Ziya felt a bit vexed. He had already decided not to bring it up, to utterly forget about it like his sister, but he really couldn’t forget about it, not when he saw strange things day in and day out because of his possession of the truth-seeing eye. But at the very least, he should not be bringing it up.
Lu Yang sighed. “Later, while my parents are home, come with me to the temple to meet my family.”
“… I’m really meeting the parents?”
Lu Yang held his hands out to each side and helplessly said, “It’s already gotten this serious. What else can we do?”
Although he was joking, there was worry in Lu Yang’s eyes. Jiang Ziya could see it. He scratched his head and said, “I seem to be a very troublesome guy?”
“Yeah, so you better work hard for me!”
Jiang Ziya smiled while he said, “That’s no problem.”
“No problem? You have a huge problem!” Lu Yang huffed, “You have to work at the book store, help Yu Shu do miscellaneous chores, slay demons with me at night, and still maintain top scores with your schoolwork to qualify for scholarships. When will you have time to sleep?”
Yet, Jiang Ziya didn’t feel it would be a problem. Those miscellaneous tasks for Yu Shu weren’t much of a job. He could just buy those household goods that House Keeper requested on the way home from class. The book store wasn’t that busy either. He could even study during downtimes. As for Lu Yang’s side, truthfully speaking, he very much doubted that Lu Yang would give him much work. “You really will bring me on your jobs, right?” He couldn’t help asking in worry.
Hearing that, Lu Yang knew right away what Jiang Ziya was thinking. He snapped, “I will! Gramps said to bring you with me. Since you’ve already taken a step in, knowing more will make it so that you’re less likely to die mysteriously.”
Jiang Ziya relaxed. Even though he had had the impression that Lu Yang’s grandfather didn’t care about his grandson’s life or death the last time he visited Qing Wei Gong, seeing how Lu Yang was acting now, it didn’t seem like he and his grandpa were at odds. It should just be that Ziya wasn’t familiar with how that world worked—But when it all came down to it, Lu Yang had really almost died last time!
When we meet, I have to emphasize this point. Jiang Ziya decided. He had to make Master Ah Lu understand that his grandson had almost kicked the bucket!
“So, what do your grandparents and parents like? I’ll bring a gift with me. It’s only polite.”
Lu Yang thought about it and said, “Macarons and chocolate, I think?”
“Your mom likes sweets?” Jiang Ziya nodded. Even though he didn’t know which store sold tasty desserts, he could just ask his neighbor House Keeper to help make them instead.
“My grandpa and grandma both like them.”
“… Oh! Then what about your parents?”
“No clue. I’ve almost known you longer than I’ve known them.”
Jiang Ziya sympathized with him. “Same with my dad.”
Lu Yang suddenly recalled something and said, “Oh right, Gramps said that among the practitioners in this city, there was indeed a pair of husband and wife that went by the name of Jiang. They were fairly famous in the past, though they were also very low-key, so he doesn’t know much about them. He doesn’t remember when he stopped hearing about them, but it’s not strange for practitioners to suddenly disappear. He didn’t pay much attention to it back then and doesn’t know if that pair of husband and wife was your dad and mom.”
I bet they are. Jiang Ziya had that feeling. But why is it that I don’t remember anything odd going on with my parents? Even though he had been young back then, he had already had the truth-seeing eye. I couldn’t have overseen any oddities, right? My memories of my parents are so fuzzy…
“Don’t think about it!”
Jiang Ziya jumped and raised his head, seeing Lu Yang place both of his hands on Ziya’s shoulders.
He seriously said, “Gramps told me that your situation is a bit problematic. Before we make sense of it, don’t ever attempt thinking about it. ‘Forgetting about it’ may very well be for the sake of protecting you two siblings. If you suddenly remember, who knows what kind of changes it will bring about? So don’t even attempt it.”
Hearing that, Jiang Ziya fell silent for a while before he asked, “Then, could an enemy of my parents have done this? I haven’t seen my dad in a long time. Maybe he’s already…”
“Impossible!” Lu Yang immediately cut him off. He shook his head and said, “Killing you is much easier than making you forget. Muddling someone’s memory for the long term isn’t easy at all. If an enemy of the family dares to kill your parents, then they would have gotten rid of you two siblings at the same time. There would have been no need to do something as complicated as making you ‘forget.’”
Hearing that, Jiang Ziya felt that it made sense. Can it be any easier to kill my sis and me? Two bullets, and that would be an eternal farewell. Didn’t the Zhang family skip to pulling out the guns last time? There really isn’t a need to make it complicated.
At this time, his classmates began returning to the classroom in twos and threes, making it no longer suitable to discuss these matters.
“Time to get ready for class.” Lu Yang off-handedly cleaned up the trash on the table and took it to the trashcan.
Jiang Ziya nodded and said, “It’s so rare that you actually completed your assignment this time and didn’t ask me rush it out during lunch break. The topic this time was pretty complicated. I was even worried that I wouldn’t be able to finish writing the assignment during lunch.”