Illusions, Lies, Truth Volume 4: In the Name of God, Part Two
Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 2: Xiang Shui Pan, Part 1—From Coffee to Pears to Apples—translated by lucathia
A taxi was waiting outside of the university. Once Liu Yishi, Lu Yang, and Jiang Ziya got on, the driver didn’t even turn his head as he made his greeting.
“Long time no see, Mr. Liu.”
Liu Yishi smiled faintly. “Long time no see, Mr. Driver. Please take us to Xiang Shui Pan.”
Lu Yang introduced, “This is Mr. Driver who has worked with us for a long time. You can call him Driver.”
After he finished speaking, he then told Driver, “You don’t need to pretend to be a quiet driver. Jiang Ziya is my assistant. Give him a business card so he call you for your services in the future, too.”
A taxi driver that they know? Jiang Ziya was a little surprised. He couldn’t help but take a peek at the person in the front, who looked like a normal guy about twenty years old. He didn’t look like he was old enough to have “worked with them for a long time,” especially given how he even knew Liu Yishi. According to Lu Yang, his dad hadn’t been active in Taiwan for more than ten years.
As Jiang Ziya was secretly making his observations, Driver’s head abruptly turned one hundred and eighty degrees, and Driver stared directly at him.
“So you’re Mr. Assistant! My bad, my bad!” Driver smiled widely. In addition to how he had abruptly turned his head and scared him without any warning, he seemed pretty flippant in personality.
“Um, hello, I’m Jiang Ziya.”
Fortunately, after an entire night of chaos, Jiang Ziya’s reaction was a bit slow. At the moment, he was only thinking: The car is already moving, and your head is still backwards. Is that okay?
“This is my card. Please make use of this one’s small service.”
You even reached a hand out to give me a card! Can you focus on driving?
Jiang Ziya snuck a glance at Lu Yang, wanting him to remind Driver, but Lu Yang had his head bowed and was looking at his cell phone. What was displayed on his screen was the link to the video that Yu Shu had sent over. He was clearly focusing on business, so Jiang Ziya didn’t dare to disrupt him. He could only quickly take the business card and hope that Driver would focus on driving!
After he took the business card, Jiang Ziya lowered his head to look at it. Only “Driver” and a phone number were written on it.
Jiang Ziya felt that this naming sense could give Yu Shu a run for her money.
Fortunately, Driver’s driving skills were completely different from his flippant personality and his naming sense. His driving was smooth, and he followed traffic laws obediently. His speed was even a little slow. He should be obediently following the speed limit.
Jiang Ziya relaxed. He had really been afraid that Driver would act out a speeding scene as if they were running for their lives. They weren’t in a hurry at the moment, so there was no need to test his heart.
Lu Yang frowned and said, “I asked someone to look up the IP addresses, but we were unable to figure out the location of ‘It Has Begun.’ He was prepared for it. We even looked up the IPs of the people who were talking back against Yu Shu. We couldn’t find the locations of those either. These people are probably all in on it, or they’re all the same person, that ‘It Has Begun.’”
“Investigate the people in the society.” Liu Yishi reminded him from the front seat, “The club activity of investigating the Seven Wonders came from that society. They likely have a huge connection.”
This reminder made Lu Yang recall how the medical students had told him about the legend behind the anatomical model. The legend they knew only had the anatomical model chasing after someone, and you would only need to run around the medical department once to escape. No lives were involved.
Then, did this mean that the other legends had also been warped?
“We’ve arrived at Xiang Shui Pan!” Driver said with a smile.
Jiang Ziya glanced at Driver. Before Lu Yang mentioned that Jiang Ziya was his assistant, Driver had no expression, appearing just like a solemn taxi driver. But after Lu Yang told him, Driver’s face turned into a smiling one, and he hadn’t stopped smiling since. He smiled so much that I’m getting goosebumps!
“I’m going to stop thinking!” Lu Yang got out of the car in frustration and shouted, “Let’s head in and hear what your boss has to say first! If he can’t convince me, he better be aware of my Slay!”
Seeing that Lu Yang was actually addressing him, Jiang Ziya was utterly confused.
“Huh? You mean my boss? Fu Taiyi? What does this have to do with him?”
Liu Yishi smiled and said, “We met him in the barrier dimension at the abandoned campus. We also made a transaction.”
So, going to the coffee shop isn’t specifically for meeting Yu Shu? Jiang Ziya suddenly felt that things were very wrong. Why did Boss go to the barrier dimension at the abandoned campus?
What, don’t tell me he’s the mastermind behind this entire case?!
Lu Yang replied with an ugly face, “As long as we don’t kill that ‘Li Yao,’ he’ll lead us out of the barrier dimension. I thought that you and those classmates were in danger and we couldn’t dally any further, so I agreed.”
“But I also had a condition, and that was for us to meet somewhere for more information.”
Liu Yishi smilingly raised his index finger and pointed at the store next to them. The sign was written in golden characters with an aged appearance. As Jiang Ziya majored in foreign languages and not Chinese, you had to excuse him for not recognizing those words. They almost looked more like pictures than words.
Given how the sign couldn’t even be read, this store couldn’t be doing well in business, right?
But they were clearly still in business.
“Xiang Shui Pan.” Liu Yishi lifted his head and looked at the sign. “This name truly fits Jiu Ge. Even the font is from the Chunqiu period from the scripts of the six states.”
“You can read writing from the Chunqiu period?”
Jiang Ziya was impressed. Then, he recalled information that he had previously researched. Jiu Ge did indeed have two legends among them that had to do with the word “xiang”—Wait a minute, come to think of it, Boss has a friend that often comes to the store, and the friend’s name includes the word “xiang”!
Lu Yang exposed his father without any hesitation, “How is it possible for my dad to recognize these words? He knows because I just sent him the information on the net that I found.”
“Neither of you can read the words, so how do you expect a foreigner to read it?”
Liu Yishi didn’t feel awkward that he was exposed. He followed the two youngsters out of the car and walked up to the door. He praised, “This coffee smells divine.”
“Thank you for your praise.”
A woman slowly pushed the door open and walked out. Even though her age was difficult to tell, she did seem like she was probably around thirty. She was rather graceful, with a classical demeanor. She wore loose, oriental attire and a long dress. Her lilac colored outfit had a few lotuses embroidered on it. With her hair held up by a hair stick, her entire person gave off a classical feel.
“Chen-yí!” Jiang Ziya blurted. He was too familiar with this woman before them. She was the boss’s friend, Chen Xiang!
Even though she was such a classical lady, she read all sorts of genres. Even if it were manhua or light novels that youngsters liked, she read them all. Therefore, she was a frequent customer at the bookstore. Jiang Ziya often ordered and held books for her.
“Sigh!” Chen Xiang responded with a smile. She looked at Jiang Ziya and said with worry,” Ziya, this is the first time you have visited my store, right? You better let Chen-yí serve you well. Just look at you. You got skinnier again!”
Uh, Chen-yí nearly always says I’ve gotten skinnier each time she visits the bookstore. Jiang Ziya really doubted that he got skinnier every time. If that was the case, he would be all bones by now!
“Come on in.” Chen Xiang smiled at the other two customers and straightforwardly said, “Taiyi has already arrived. He is waiting for you in a private booth. I won’t take up any more of your time discussing important matters. Is coffee all right? Are the two children hungry? How about I prepare some food?”
Jiang Ziya nodded. Even though he was embarrassed, he didn’t dare to say he wasn’t hungry. After running about for an entire night, he really was hungry. If he said he wasn’t hungry and then his stomach rumbled, then Chen-yí would bring over so much food that he would explode! It wasn’t like this hadn’t happened at Jiu Ge before!
“Hungry.” Lu Yang admitted. “Very hungry.”
Hearing that, Chen Xiang smiled even wider. “I’ll cook some noodles for you.”
Lu Yang nodded and said, “Thank you.”
Chen Xiang led them into the coffee shop. Even though it was early in the morning, there were already some customers in the shop. It was just that the shop was expertly divided using walls, windows, and dividers, so other than the tables near the entrance, the rest were all rather private, and no one could be seen.
However, they did not remain on the first floor and began directly heading up to the second. When they set foot on the stairs, Jiang Ziya jolted and looked at Lu Yang, who narrowed his eyes, his anger rising.
He had already told Jiang Ziya to be 120% alert once they arrived at their destination, to be aware of any barrier dimensions. Even if they couldn’t figure out the barrier dimension’s weakness, as long as they knew of its existence, then they would be prepared. That was enough.
Before Lu Yang could summon Slay, Chen Xiang smiled and explained, “This staircase has an entrance to a barrier dimension. The private booth upstairs is usually not open to customers and is only used when Jiu Ge meets together. As for what it is used for, you will understand soon. There is no need to explain more.”
Lu Yang frowned. He couldn’t ask Jiang Ziya if she was telling the truth or not. He could barely even be considered a newbie and wouldn’t know how to tell. Therefore, he turned and looked at his father to see if he could tell whether these words were true or not.
Liu Yishi seemed rather unperturbed. This confused Lu Yang a lot. When they were in the barrier dimension earlier, his father was also the one who had indicated for him to accept the transaction.
“Then, let’s head upstairs.” Liu Yishi smilingly said, “I must greet the God of the Eastern Sky, Dong Huang Taiyi. When Master Ah Lu heard that I was coming here, he made sure to remind me to give him his greetings.”
Chen Xiang smiled. “Then, Taiyi will definitely be pleased. He greatly admires Master Ah Lu.”
The two of them crossed words, each word holding hidden meaning. Lu Yang only understood a little of it. His father probably meant that he had already told Gramps, so if they were to be harmed, Qing Wei Gong won’t overlook this matter, while Chen Xiang’s response probably meant that they didn’t plan to be antagonistic.
As they climbed up the stairs step by step, willingly entering the barrier dimension, Chen Xiang’s outfit gradually began to change, her classifical attire transforming into a hand-drawn one. Jiang Ziya was so surprised by her change that he didn’t notice his surroundings until his feet were already firmly on the second floor. When he finally looked up, he promptly froze, even though he knew he was in a barrier dimension.
Even while rooted to the spot, Jiang Ziya could hear the sound of waves from afar, a sound that didn’t at all belong in a coffee shop. The skies were bright blue, and there were fruit trees as far as he could see, from pears to apples to oranges. He finally turned his head and saw that there were even more fruit trees on that side, including cherries and peaches.
What kind of barrier dimension is this?
Sure, he had been expecting this place to be different from the first floor of the coffee shop, but it was like they had stepped into someone’s secret orchard planted on some island in the middle of nowhere!
Lu Yang frowned as he scanned the island they had stepped into. When he turned to look behind them, the staircase was gone, leaving behind only an empty pier and no way back.
“What is the meaning of this?” Lu Yang growled at Chen Xiang.
She was still all smiles and walked ahead of them, clearly waiting for them to follow behind her. “Why, this is the meeting place, of course. Come, it’s this way.”
Lu Yang didn’t like this at all, but after sharing a glance with his father, who just gave him a nod, he huffed in displeasure and moved to follow Chen Xiang. Jiang Ziya followed beside him.
“Do you see anything strange?” Lu Yang asked.
Jiang Ziya was looking everywhere and had even covered his right eye. “Everything’s strange! But something’s really bugging me right now, and…” He dropped his hand. “My eye can’t see a difference. It looks the same to both of my eyes. Lu Yang, tell me, are you seeing the same thing I am?”
Jiang Ziya gestured at all the fruit trees around them and blurted, “There are only three fruits on every single tree!”
“What? That can’t be possible…” Lu Yang’s voice trailed off as he glanced around. Jiang Ziya was entirely correct. There were only three pears on the tree in front of them. Three apples on the tree next to that one. Three cherries on the tree behind that one. Three peaches on the tree…
“This is freaking me out even more than the Seven Wonders coming true,” Lu Yang said.
Jiang Ziya nodded in agreement. Suddenly, his eyes widened.
Lu Yang stilled. “What?”
Jiang Ziya pointed a shaky finger behind Lu Yang, who immediately summoned Slay out and spun around, only to be greeted by… an entire field of turnips walled in by fences.
Lu Yang stared. Then, he slowly said, “Jiang Ziya, your boss must be crazy. Why else would he have a barrier dimension where there are turnips laying on the ground walled in by fences?”
To the front, Chen Xiang laughed heartily and said, “Boys, don’t you ever play video games?”
Jiang Ziya and Lu Yang shared a look before they said in unison, “Nope.” Where would they have the time or money for that? Lu Yang barely got enough sleep without adding video games into the mix, and Jiang Ziya had his hands full balancing school, work, and helping Lu Yang out with his missions.
It was then that a huge green banner suddenly flashed over their heads, and a chime resounded loudly across the entire barrier dimension, like it was ringing right in their ears. Lu Yang immediately had Slay fly in front of them again, and even Liu Yishi summoned his book out, fully alert.
Looks like someone is on their way here! was what the scrolling text on the green banner said.
“That’s…” Jiang Ziya said helplessly. “Breaking the 4th wall, isn’t it?”
Even though Jiang Ziya didn’t watch movies much at all, nor did he play video games, he at least knew that much from flipping through books at his part-time job.
Lu Yang turned to Chen Xiang again and demanded, “Something’s wrong. This isn’t Jiu Ge’s barrier dimension, is it?”
Chen Xiang shrugged with a smile. “Well, I dare say that I quite enjoy having a cup of coffee with some animal neighbors, but you are indeed correct that this is out of Jiu Ge’s hands. I believe it is because it’s April 1st.”
“Right, that again,” Lu Yang grumbled.
Suddenly, Jiang Ziya’s phone went off, which wasn’t right at all. He shouldn’t have any reception in a barrier dimension!
He wordlessly took his phone out, only to see that it had turned cartoonish, and now said “NookPhone” on it. There was a notification that he had a message in the chat log. Jiang Ziya pressed the app for the chat log with some trepidation.
Translator: Surprise! You’ll only be able to break this barrier dimension if you earn enough bells! Good luck!
“Not you again!” Lu Yang shouted. “We had enough of you last year!”
While they were complaining, someone approached them from behind…
Lu Yang whirled around, and Slay pointed straight at the person trying to sneak up on them!
Perhaps they should not have forgotten all about what the huge green banner had been telling them earlier. Someone was on their way here!