Illusions, Lies, Truth Side Story: Slay; Eliminate
Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo)
“Slay; Eliminate”—translated by Michimochi (proofread by Trespasserby & elisa; C/E edited by lucathia)
“Okay. I know you don’t like hunting weird things, but there really isn’t a choice.
“Yeah, yeah. I know that we’re demon-hunting, evil-dissipating, Taoist priests, not that the average person can actually tell the difference between those things. If it’s their first time meeting one, being able to find a commissioner is already pretty good. On that note, demons and ghosts are actually the same kinds of illusory familiars.
“After we’re done, I’ll order the best oil to offer you, okay?”
It was approaching ten in the evening. A high school student was walking into a large, lightless building. He was muttering to himself nonstop. If people saw this scene, most would be tempted to comment, “Child, if you’re unwell, you should hurry and see a doctor.” Afterwards, they would kindly report it to the police.
If they saw this boy’s face, they might even add, “Such a pity. He grew to be this handsome but is a nutcase.”
The high school student had brown hair and green eyes. His facial features were relatively striking, a foreign face in line with current beauty standards. The pride of his entire life was receiving a hundred love letters during his third year of middle school, though rejecting those hundred girls nearly led to their belief that he was gay.
“Gay? The only one who is constantly by my side has always been Slay. He can’t take human form. At most, it can only be said that I have a fetish for objects, right?”
Lu Yang truly mourned that he either had to be a gay person or an objectophile. If it really were true, then he’d just admit it. But, it was really that he didn’t have the time to go out with girls.
Near the start of junior high, Lu Yang was already following his maternal grandfather, Master Ah Lu, all over, hunting demons and dissipating evil energy. The grandfather-grandson pair’s workload was so extreme that there was more work than they could deal with. So, when he started his second year, they began dividing up the workload. The smaller cases were given to the child. The big cases, of course, were the great master’s business.
In the end, Master Ah Lu simply told his grandson to take on the commissions by himself, skipping the step of passing on information, which had been ridiculously troublesome. Of course, most of the commission fees were still turned over to Qing Wei Gong, sparing no effort in squeezing the grandson dry.
Lu Yang felt that he himself was essentially a professional Taoist priest. His side job was being a student. Even though he wanted to take on fewer commissions, once he saw the clients’ tearful and helpless expressions, he couldn’t find a way to reject them. Without any other options, he’d rub his nose and accept the commissions.
Therefore, even though most of the payment was turned over, Lu Yang’s allowance was still endless. However, he’d rather be a professional student with no spending money!
“Slay, what do you think? If this continues, do I still have a shot at college?”
Lu Yang was very concerned. He really wanted to attend college. Although his family felt that he didn’t need it, they wouldn’t stop him from going. Plus, college tuition, that kind of thing simply wasn’t something he needed to be concerned with. He could even go for a doctorate with the earnings from the commissions with no problem. This just left the issue of grades—but that issue was super big!
As expected, he had to spend less time on commissions and more time on studies, right?
After Lu Yang pondered this with some pain, he firmly said, “Okay then. Slay, we—from here on out—are not going to take on any of these alien-type commissions. These kinds of things are only scary to look at anyway and don’t cause much trouble… usually.”
Talking to himself, he arrived at this conclusion. He raised his head, gazing upon the entrance of the large building. He sighed, “But, any already-accepted commissions still have to be completed.”
Taking out the key that the client had provided, Lu Yang casually stepped in.
In these kinds of commercial buildings, the things that appeared in the dead of night were usually monsters, although there would occasionally be a mix of other kinds of things. Especially with movies thriving excessively nowadays, he wouldn’t be surprised no matter how strange the things that appeared were.
Lu Yang was not a big fan of watching movies because his life, compared to movies, was even more phenomenal. Aliens, zombies, and the like, Slay had hunted them to the point of complaint. However, Lu Yang had no choice but to spend some of his precious time watching these movies. If he didn’t watch them, he really wouldn’t know what the illusory familiars that appeared before him were, their special properties, and most importantly, how to finish them off.
“Infinite change of cosmos, truth of common origin, perilous path of divinity, let light glow within, surround body of mine…”
Lu Yang chanted a stanza from the Four-Word Tactic. Shortly after he finished, faint rays of light emerged from his body, lighting up the area a few steps around him. The strength of the light wasn’t too strong, as too much light might scare the illusory familiar from appearing and would instead render his work completely useless.
First, let’s scout the area. Data said that the incident occurred right at the second-floor reception hall, where the first and second floors were, in fact, connected by staircases. Once stepping in, one could see the escalators heading toward the location the client had indicated.
This was a bit of a peculiar case. Logically speaking, strange things happened less frequently at popular locations. This was mostly connected with the common idea that a public place with many people was safer.
Lu Yang didn’t think too hard about it and got on the escalator, rushing straight toward the second floor. There was no use stressing any more about it. If we quickly finish the vanquishing and rush home, I might have time to finish my homework.
Due to the high ceiling of the first floor and the long length of the escalators, it felt as if he had climbed multiple flights on the escalators before he finally set one foot on the second floor. As his back foot barely left the escalators, and he stepped onto the marble flooring, the ground stirred with a wave of fluctuations.
Lu Yang inwardly groaned. This was obviously the feeling of treading into a barrier dimension. He offhandedly smashed a broken jar. Then, he chanted the Four-Word Tactic again. This time, the chant released a great amount of light, enough to light the whole reception hall of the second floor.
So many figures! Lu Yang started. He was about to let Slay rush out but stopped when he noticed that those figures seemed all too familiar.
The place was filled with mirrors in all directions, face after face, mirror after mirror, reflecting hundreds and thousands of Lu Yangs. Was there anything more familiar than “himself”?
Lu Yang let out a sigh of relief. Quickly afterwards, he became upset again. If they really were a bunch of illusory familiars, it may have been easier to deal with. But now with a bunch of mirrors, I have no clue what’s going on. Is this really the work of an illusory familiar?
“Now it’s getting interesting!” But, this would not scare him. Sneering, he immediately closed two fingers together to form the shape of a sword. Then, he pointed at the face of a huge mirror and shouted, “Slay, pierce away these boring things!”
Shing. Slay thrust toward the mirror but went straight through it, stirring up ripples on the face of the mirror, as if it were the surface of water, but the mirror was still there. There was no sign of any kind of damage, like it was just a curtain of water. It didn’t matter how hard one tried to destroy it; everything would be in vain.
“Shit!” Lu Yang couldn’t stop himself from cursing.
It really was a barrier dimension, one that was not easy to deal with. He suddenly felt an oncoming headache. The kinds of commissions that he sucked at were all ones where he couldn’t use Slay to finish things off.
Since brute force was completely useless, Lu Yang helplessly summoned Slay back to his side. Patiently, he started observing the surrounding mirrors.
Originally, he thought that it would take a long time. He didn’t think that he would spot the problem with a single glance. The one inside the mirror on his left was not the current him.
That was Lu Yang when he was about ten years old.
He looked in the mirror at the kid who was staring back at him. Even if that was his own appearance, Lu Yang still had an impulse to beat him up.
Lu Yang took a step forward. He raised his hand to touch the mirror but was unable to feel anything. At that moment, the child suddenly turned his head to the side. Lu Yang followed his line of sight and blurted, “Dad? Mom?”
A man and a woman walked over to the kid’s side. They first patted the kid on the head then opened and closed their lips to speak. Their expressions seemed to be consoling. Since the mirror could not transmit any sound, who knew what was said that led to the kid rolling his eyes. But in the end, the child nevertheless laughed.
The two adults and one child held hands with their backs facing Lu Yang, slowly walking away. The scene looked very warm, but, for some unknown reason, it also brought about sentimental feelings. It was like the curtain call of a movie, when viewers were reluctant to part.
Give me a break! His dad and mom were both alive and well, holding hands and traveling all over the world, making the son, who got left behind, grind his teeth furiously. Just who is this kind of hand-in-hand childhood act trying to move?
Lu Yang was a bit speechless. If it weren’t for the weird circumstances, he really wanted to ridicule the other party: What kind of show are you putting on?
But, this scene really did seem a bit familiar.
Thinking it over, Lu Yang suddenly remembered. This was that one time he stayed at a hotel overseas. In the middle of the night, he had been awakened by an illusory familiar with half a body left and had discovered that his parents were nowhere to be found. They had probably been taking advantage of his sleeping again and had secretly slipped out, either hunting demons or exorcising devils. Once they got back, they found him awake and sulking. The two had immediately rushed over to console him, even saying that they would take him to visit an amusement park with the world’s largest haunted house.
Were the usual hideous things not enough? A HAUNTED HOUSE even!
Looking back at his childhood, Lu Yang wasn’t sentimental nor did he want to reminisce about the past. He only wanted to stay fully alert. This mirror could actually reproduce things from his past. If this wasn’t from investigating him beforehand, then this illusory familiar had the ability to read minds. The former would most likely be some practitioner’s deed; the latter would mean that the illusory familiar’s ability was considerably high. The two options were equally bad.
Maybe, it’s not an illusion anymore, but a lie. Lu Yang narrowed his eyes. He hadn’t met many lies. Even those few times, his parents and grandfather had been by his side. Against a lie, would Slay’s blade be as sharp?
But it doesn’t matter if it’s an illusion or a lie. Gotta find it first before I can do anything. Lu Yang continued his search for the opportunity to break the barrier dimension.
The mirror before his eyes no longer showed the sentimental trio and turned back into an ordinary mirror. Lu Yang could only look to the other surfaces. So many mirrors reflected other periods of Lu Yang’s life, but there was one mirror that especially attracted the real Lu Yang’s attention. In that mirror, there were two people: one was him, and the other was actually…
Lu Yang was stunned. He looked at himself in the mirror along with that not-so-close classmate talking and joking, seemingly on very good terms. Jiang Ziya was also not his usual closed off and gloomy self, and instead seemed super carefree and cheerful.
Is this a scene of the future? Lu Yang hesitated, but then shook his head. It can even perceive the future. It can’t possibly be an illusory familiar. Even if it’s a lie, they don’t have this kind of ability. If it’s a “truth”…
Lu Yang scrunched his brows and decided not to make any more random guesses. Anyway, if it really were a “truth,” that kind of thing, then he didn’t need to struggle anymore; immediately leaving a will behind would be more practical.
Should I think of a way to escape then? This situation is too strange. Even though Lu Yang was at a righteous and hot-blooded high school age, hunting demons since childhood had led him to understand the logical truth that being hot-blooded and irrational would lead to an early, impassioned death. In short, seeing that the situation had gone awry, escaping was top priority.
But whether facing it head on or fleeing, he had to find a way to break through this barrier dimension first.
Just as he recovered from his thoughts, Lu Yang caught the Jiang Ziya in the mirror turning his head, revealing a surprised look and even staring at him with wide eyes.
Lu Yang stared back at him, studying the other carefully. He seems to be a bit older than his current age. The way he dresses hasn’t changed much. If this is modeled after the future, then it shouldn’t be too far off in the future. Maybe five or six years at most.
The Jiang Ziya in the mirror stared blankly back. Then, he twisted his head to look at the Lu Yang by his side, seemingly not understanding the situation. He opened his mouth to talk to the Lu Yang by his side. It was a bummer that the guy outside the mirror couldn’t hear them.
In the next moment, Jiang Ziya suddenly extended his finger and pointed behind the Lu Yang that was outside of the mirror, to his left.
Lu Yang reflexively twisted his head to look behind him to the left. The mirror reflected his figure, in exactly the same posture. It looked like there wasn’t anything wrong, but he astutely noticed that the one in the mirror moved slower by half a beat. Especially when he turned around just now, the action was entirely wrong. It was like the one trying to imitate him hadn’t expected him to turn around suddenly, so it hadn’t been able to react in time.
Lu Yang shouted without any hesitation. At the same time, he used two fingers and pointed straight at the face of that mirror. The ancient sword that was floating in midair flew directly across, piercing right through the surface of the mirror. This time, it wasn’t a fruitless effort. Shattering and crumbling, the whole face of the mirror became a pile of broken pieces.
But it was not just that. The surrounding layers of mirrors began to crack and burst into pieces, falling to the ground, but none could be seen on the floor. It was as if those shattered pieces evaporated once they hit the ground.
Lu Yang couldn’t help but turn his head back and take another look at Jiang Ziya. The other gave him a smile and opened his mouth to say something. Not long after, that smiling face, along with the mirror, cracked into pieces.
What did he say? Lu Yang regretted not learning how to lip read. I’m definitely going to work on that in the future!
However, the present was not the time to learn lip reading. Although all the mirrors shattered and vanished, the guy in the mirror remained standing. He was still in Lu Yang’s form, just that the face had long been distorted. Even Lu Yang himself couldn’t stand looking at it; he wouldn’t make that kind of mad, demonic expression.
Lu Yang raged, “Stop fooling around and show your true face!”
The faux Lu Yang just smirked and produced many clones, blending together, just like the mirrors before. Each one took on Lu Yang’s appearance. They even intentionally said, “Then, can you guess which one is real and which are fake?”
Which was real and which wasn’t, Lu Yang really couldn’t tell that kind of thing. At least compared to his mother’s sharp eyes, his eyes simply stopped at the level of a kindergartener’s. Though his dad also said that when God closed one door, he would definitely open a window for you.
Slay was Lu Yang’s window!
So what if I can’t tell the difference? Lu Yang raised his spiritual power to the max. Slay’s blade burst with light and increased in volume by several-fold. The originally slim ancient sword became a huge, two-handed sword. The hilt was even rough and difficult to grasp, but this also didn’t matter. Slay had never been the kind that would obediently be held, and Lu Yang wouldn’t do such a thing.
To him, even though Slay had the form of a sword, he wasn’t just a sword. They were childhood playmates; even more, they were partners who faced dangerous situations together. They did not have some sword-and-master relationship.
Those Lu Yang imposters looked at the sword that had dramatically increased in size. Expressions of panic finally appeared over their faces. This made the real Lu Yang even angrier. He wouldn’t show that kind of cowardly expression!
The fake Lu Yangs said in a unison, “Please spare me. I haven’t killed anyone. You cannot kill me!”
Lu Yang sneered, “In the beginning, it was only trapping people for one or two hours. Then, with each victim, you dragged out the duration. Last time, you had a staff member trapped here for three days straight, almost making him die of thirst and scaring him to death. With another chance, you will take a life. Am I supposed to wait until you kill someone, then come and finish you off?”
That kind of foolishness, after seeing so many deadly incidents caused by illusory familiars, Lu Yang absolutely would not allow!
I must stifle the danger and snip it in the bud!
“Slay!” Lu Yang raised his hands. His school uniform flared out from the great gust of force. Slay’s power burst out even more.
The huge ancient Chinese sword struck down from mid-air. That one slice had one of the fake Lu Yangs split neatly in two. Then, the blade was swung horizontally, like a raging storm. All that stood in its path no longer stayed intact. Those fake Lu Yangs were even less able to withstand that single blow, and were ground into a pile of minced meat. But just like the mirrors before, as the pieces touched the ground, they disappeared without a single trace.
Lu Yang looked at the reception hall that had been restored to its serene state. Slay once again returned to his side. The ancient Chinese sword remained as thin and elegant as ever, just that the blade glistened for some unknown reason.
He twisted his head to look at the sword and chuckled. “I got it. You did great. Once we get back, I’ll give you the best oil offering.”
Walking out of the tall building, Lu Yang looked back at it one last time. The signboard that was hanging on the top-most floor made him pull a long face. He said, “You know, Slay, as I thought, we have to accept cases even if they’re about aliens. Even though the case detailed that a maze and aliens appeared here, that was simply because there’s a cinema upstairs. And just before all this, Alien Episode Eight was just released in theaters, right?”
If things continued like this, he felt that exorcising demons would become a thing of the past. Movie companies, do us a favor. Shoot more horror films and fewer alien ones, please?
A few years later.
Jiang Ziya sat in a police station, feeling completely helpless. How was he supposed to know that the store’s display window would suddenly break without rhyme or reason? It caused him to be reported by the store’s clerk. Fortunately, there were security cameras to prove his innocence. It was just that Jiang Ziya also could not explain why he had talked to the display window.
After watching the surveillance video, the policeman still harbored a face full of suspicion. If it weren’t for Jiang Ziya not making contact with the window whatsoever nor harboring a weapon on himself, he would’ve had to pay compensation for the display window. Regarding that, he could only smile bitterly.
“Don’t worry. If compensation is demanded, I’ll pay!” Lu Yang sat next to his side, slapping his chest in guarantee. Then, he received a roll of his eyes from his friend.
“Of course, you’re paying. You caused the trouble in the first place!” Jiang Ziya snapped, “I even want you to compensate for delaying me, making me miss work.”
“Your boss won’t even deduct it from your wages anyway,” Lu Yang said indifferently.
“I’ll deduct it myself!” Jiang Ziya insisted. He would never take advantage of anyone.
The policeman checked the surveillance video over and over again, unwillingly saying, “You youngsters can go now. Don’t go messing around again!” It seemed that he still did not believe there was no relationship between the broken window and Jiang Ziya.
Jiang Ziya obediently agreed, a bit helpless but not angry. After all, the policeman was just diligently doing his job.
Stepping out of the police station, Jiang Ziya was a bit down. Lu Yang was, on the other hand, unconcerned as usual; he was always in and out of the police station and had even befriended a few police officers. In fact, if it weren’t for Jiang Ziya wanting to assess the situation before deciding what to do, Lu Yang would have called police officers he knew for help.
Jiang Ziya took a look at guy next to him and asked questioningly, “During high school, you really got trapped by a bunch of mirrors?”
“Yeah, the incident happened on the night I discovered you were working at a noodle shop.” Lu Yang wondered, “So, I really did see you at that time? But that guy that I took care of that day was obviously just an illusory familiar. He shouldn’t have the ability to see the future… Or perhaps he had just seized the opportunity?”
“Seized the opportunity?” Jiang Ziya was recently cramming knowledge of the innerworld as best as he could.
Lu Yang responsibly explained, “That illusory familiar knew that there was a barrier dimension at that place. I’m not sure if it was man-made or natural. But that’s why he specifically resided there, using that barrier dimension to create his own barrier dimension. Or, it could be a different type of situation. Since that barrier dimension had accidentally trapped quite a few people, it gave birth to that illusory familiar.”
Jiang Ziya nodded his head and said, “I see.”
Lu Yang grinned. Although he had entered a police station, his mood was very good. Who knew that there would be a day that his doubts from a few years ago would be solved. It turned out that the words that Jiang Ziya had said at that time were—
“You got trapped again, you idiot!”