Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Xenophon leaned on his desk and said with a smile, “This kid just inherited a large amount of money. People who have money are naturally afraid of death.”
No, no, no, people without money are also afraid of death. Duan FeiZhou thought.
Z said carelessly, “Not everyone here has to be in the field. You can do paperwork.” He raised his chin and indicated the lady who was typing. “That’s Miss Acheson. She is the clerk of the Nightmen.”
Miss Acheson looked up at his words, smiled at Duan FeiZhou then went back to her work.
Duan FeiZhou inwardly screamed. If he was in the same room with Nightmen all day long, his identity would be exposed!
Xenophon, who didn’t know he was fearing the worst, said, “Doesn’t this kid still want to learn occult philosophy? Do you want me to teach him?”
“I…I’m just…curious…” Duan FeiZhou was in a cold sweat.
Z grunted coldly. “That kind of stuff, don’t learn it. Xenophon, find him two books.”
Xenophon wandered over to the file shelf, looked, took out two black-covered notebooks and handed them to Duan FeiZhou.
“These are the notes left by a former Nightman. It records some general knowledge of occult philosophy. You take it back and read it. It’s all theoretical knowledge, and it doesn’t involve practical operation. You won’t learn anything about the occult even if you read it.”
Duan FeiZhou received the two books, and felt like he was holding two pieces of hot potato.
“I have to write a detailed report and give it to His Excellency, the Secretary.” Z said.
Xenophon raised his hand positively. “I’ll write it! I’ll write it!”
Z made a gesture to Duan FeiZhou. “I’ll dictate, you write.”
Duan FeiZhou pointed at himself in shock. How is this not straight to the post?
Xenophon puffed out a protest, “What do you have against me?”
Z gritted his teeth. “Your reports always go off-topic halfway through! The last time I asked you to write a report on the race track case, you ended up writing two-thirds of it about the aftermath of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes!”
“But that book is wonderful! You must read it!”
Xenophon pouted and whispered into Duan FeiZhou’s ear, “I know what to get him for Christmas.”
Z didn’t pay any attention to him.
“By the way, Boss,” Miss Acheson suddenly said. “When I took Palmer’s statement yesterday, he gave an important piece of information. The Secret Trading House hasn’t been open for more than a month.”
Duan FeiZhou heard “Secret Trading House” and his legs went so weak that he almost fell to the ground.
Z asked, “Oh? Why?”
“According to Palmer, the last time the trading house opened, the owner claimed to be seriously ill and had to suspend operations for a while. I think he was curing his illness. However, it doesn’t rule out the possibility that he’s gone.”
Z nodded, “Did he give up the location of the trading house?”
“No. He said he would die on the spot if he revealed the secret. I didn’t dare to push him too hard.”
Z grunted in discontent. “It’s been so many years, but we still don’t know where the group of occult practitioners conduct their underground transactions. The owner of the Secret Trading House is considered the number one malefactor in that group, and he must be brought to justice.”
Duan FeiZhou’s clothes were already almost soaked with cold sweat. How could they not know that the new master of the Secret Trading House was close at hand? Then again, who would have thought that the owner of the trading house would waltz into Scotland Yard and come face-to-face with the top brass of the Nightmen?
Z coldly asked, “Why is your heart beating so fast?”
Duan FeiZhou’s throat choked up. He felt like he was suffocating. He squeezed out a smile, “I…It isn’t.”
Z’s long eyebrows knitted together. “I hear better than others, and I can hear your heartbeat clearly. Are you…hiding something from us?”
If Duan FeiZhou took off his shirt and twisted it, he could probably wring out the Mediterranean Sea. What excuse should I use to get out of this? He said, “I suddenly remembered that I had heard of the name Secret Trading House.”
Z was immediately interested, “Oh? Where have you heard it before?”
“When I was operating on Palmer, he muttered something about ‘I bought something at the Secret Trading House’…” Duan FeiZhou struggled to lie.
Since Palmer knew that the trading house hadn’t been open for a month, that meant he was also a regular customer of the trading house. It made sense to infer that he had bought something there.
Miss Acheson said, “Palmer did explain that he bought an energy storage wand from the trading house.”
Z asked, “And did he ever reveal the location of the trading house?”
Duan FeiZhou shook his head in mock confusion. “What exactly does a Secret Trading House do?”
“As the name suggests, it’s an underground black market for occult practitioners to buy and sell items related to the occult.” Z explained. “If we find that place, we can wipe out that group of occult practitioners.”
“That’s our primary goal at the moment,” Xenophon said briskly.
Z gestured to him. “You go interrogate Palmer and Goldstein again and see if you can dig some more intel out of them.”
Xenophon gave an exaggerated salute. “Yes, sir!”
He swaggered out of the office.
Duan FeiZhou stood frozen in place, and Z gestured to the empty desk across from him. Duan FeiZhou stiffly walked over and sat down facing Z. The table had obviously not been taken care of for a long time and was covered with a thin layer of dust.
The so-called needle on the felt, like a man standing at his back, like a lump in the throat…that was probably what he felt now, right?
“Do you know how to use a typewriter?” Z asked with one hand on the table, as he rested his cheek in it. His tone was lazy, like a large idling beast.
“Not really.” Duan FeiZhou said.
The typewriters of this era weren’t the same as modern keyboards. Not only did you have to manually replace the paper and ink cartridges, you had to also manually push the word carriage back to the starting position after typing a line, and some typewriters even had keys that were different from modern keyboards. An untrained person’s first contact with a typewriter, he was afraid, would be a handful.
“Then you can write by hand.” Z pointed to the paper and ink on the table.
Duan FeiZhou wiped the table haphazardly and set up the paper, ink and pen as Z began to dictate how they captured Palmer.
Duan FeiZhou hadn’t eaten all day and his stomach rumbled with hunger.
“That’s it for today.” Z said. “In the future, the Abnormal Case Investigation Unit will call you again if needed, but when you are not needed, you can study at home by yourself. Don’t go anywhere. London isn’t very peaceful these days.”
Duan FeiZhou sighed with relief. Fortunately, he wasn’t required to come and sit in the room every day, or he might really go bald.
“I’ll walk you back.”
Z got up and said goodbye to Miss Acheson -she had been tapping on her typewriter all afternoon- and walked out of the office. Duan FeiZhou followed him at a brisk pace. It seems that the work system of the Abnormal Case Investigation Unit was quite lenient. The boss even took the lead to leave work first.
“Isn’t Miss Acheson off duty?” Duan FeiZhou asked in a low voice as he walked the corridors of Scotland Yard,
“She’s a workaholic. No one else can compare,” Z replied lightly.
From time to time, they rubbed shoulders with officers from other sections, many of whom cast meaningful glances at Z. This was not only because the Abnormal Case Investigation Unit was an anomaly in Scotland Yard, but also because of Z’s unusual appearance. It was hard not to attract attention.
“Speaking of which, the entire Abnormal Case Investigation Unit is just Miss Acheson, Xenophon and you?” Duan FeiZhou asked.
“There are four other people out on business.” Z said. “When the Nightmen are full, there are 26 people, each with the letters A to Z as code names. I am code-named Z, Miss Acheson is code-named A, Xenophon is code-named X. The remaining four are code-named F, N, Q and R. All but seven of us have been sacrificed.”
Duan FeiZhou shivered. How high is the death rate of your post?! No wonder they forced him to join like catching a strong man. Without fresh blood, this section was afraid that sooner or later there would be a collective death.
However, if he joined, wouldn’t he be waiting for a high death rate of 19 out of 26? His dream was to be a salted fish, not a dead fish!
Apparently able to sense his fear, the corner of Z’s lips arced, a smile with an inexhaustible sadness and bitterness.
“Even if you join the Nightmen, we also need clerks who don’t personally go to the front line. If one day you have to go to war, that may be the day all Nightmen die.”
Duan FeiZhou looked at his handsome and melancholy face, and a sourness welled up in his heart.
The Nightmen and the occult practitioners fought to the death and both sides had heavy casualties. Why was this necessary?
Z hailed a hired carriage at the entrance of Scotland Yard, the two boarded it and headed towards 49 Frances Square.
“Are you…okay?” Z suddenly asked.
“What?” Duan FeiZhou froze.
“Are there any after-effects left? I was careful with my hands, but Xenophon’s healing techniques are not always accurate.”
It took a while before Duan FeiZhou realized he was asking about his own wounds. Z was somewhat conscience-stricken about stabbing a hostage and kidnapper right through.
“It has fully recovered. Thank you for your concern.” When he saw that Z was so concerned about him, Duan FeiZhou couldn’t help but have the corners of his mouth rise, and his chest felt like a small sparrow fluttering happily, “Speaking of which, your hand…”
Z slightly lifted his mechanical prosthetic right arm.
“It’s been reattached.” Z opened his five fingers and clenched them into a fist again, to indicate that everything was fine with his arm.
“That’s good. I hope it doesn’t hurt a lot. I mean, I don’t know if the mechanical prosthesis will feel pain, after all, I haven’t transplanted one, but since it can move, it means it’s connected to your nerves, so it’s normal that it would hurt–”
“It won’t hurt.” Z interrupted him, his tone flat, obviously not very willing to discuss this issue.
Duan FeiZhou had the sense to shut his mouth. He and Z were not close enough to openly discuss each other’s physical disabilities.
They got out of the cab in front of 49 Frances Square, and Duan FeiZhou saw a familiar figure looking downstairs from a distance. That rich and round body shape, if it wasn’t Mr. Lynn, who else would it be?
When he saw Duan FeiZhou, the lawyer gave a big smile. “Oh, you’re back! Didn’t you say you would come to my house for dinner tonight? I thought you had forgotten!”
He saw Z beside Duan FeiZhou and rushed forward to shake hands. “Dear Mr. Detective! What brings you here?”
Z’s face was expressionless. “Mr. Chester said he was interested in joining Scotland Yard, so I took him to study today.”
Mr. Lynn was overjoyed. “That’s wonderful! Do you want to be a policeman, son? What a great career! To eliminate violence and maintain order…your uncle’s spirit in heaven will be proud of you!”
He was so excited, he didn’t know that Duan FeiZhou was going to join the Nightmen, who had a high death rate, and thought he just wanted to be an ordinary police officer.
“I’ll take my leave.” Z said indifferently.
Mr. Lynn called out to him, “Don’t go, Mr. Detective! If you are free tonight, why don’t you come to my house for a casual dinner too?”
“Is it okay to invite me, an outsider, to your family gathering?”
“You’re not an outsider. I heard that you saved the boy from those criminals. You are his benefactor!”
Z turned in the direction of Duan FeiZhou to ask his opinion. Naturally, Duan FeiZhou wanted to spend more time with Z, but he felt his stomach twist into a ball when he thought of himself as the owner of the Secret Trading House and Z as a Nightman.
He winked desperately at Mr. Lynn, and hoped the lawyer would withdraw his invitation.
Woe betide Mr. Lynn, who completely misunderstood him.
“You must be gracious, Mr. Detective!” Mr. Lynn pulled Z and wouldn’t let go. “I’m at least the boy’s elder, so let me thank you for him. My wife and daughter would like to meet a detective from Scotland Yard. Your presence here will certainly make my house look splendid!”
He said it so sincerely that Z could not refuse. He nodded, “Then I’ll take my leave.”
Duan FeiZhou covered his face in pain.
“What’s wrong with you?” Mr. Lynn asked with concern. “Are you not feeling well?”
“No…I’m just…too happy.” Duan FeiZhou laughed harder than he cried.