Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Duan FeiZhou was so happy when he came back from Charing Cross that he stayed up all night. Yeats and he had arranged to meet at 10 am three days later at Paddington Station to visit the family of the late occult practitioner. However, he was up at dawn the next day and packing his bags.
Al arrived at Duan FeiZhou’s house on time that morning. He carried a small basket with freshly baked bread and a few ingredients.
“The food in the restaurant downstairs is horrible, Master. It’s better for me to cook for you in the future.” He looked at Duan FeiZhou, who was packing his bags. “Are you going out?”
“I’m going away on Wednesday with a fellow occult practitioner,” Duan FeiZhou replied. “You can take a few days off.”
Al’s eyes lit up. “Can I come along?”
“We’re going on a business trip, not a fun trip.”
“That’s all the more reason for me to come. Who else would take care of you when you’re away?” Al said excitedly. “I can pay for my own travel expenses! I know I’m still useless, but I want to see more of the world of occult practitioners! I will never embarrass you in front of your friends!”
To show that he was more or less useful, he took out the clothes that Duan FeiZhou had stuffed into his suitcase with a flourish. He expertly folded the shirt and pants neatly. “You should fold them like this!”
Duan FeiZhou looked at the suitcase that Al had organized. Even a person with severe OCD wouldn’t be the least bit displeased when they saw it. He silently shed tears of inferiority inside. He couldn’t compete with a twelve-year-old in housework…
“Then you can come with me,” he said helplessly. “Of course you don’t have to pay for the travel expenses. I’m not that stingy.”
Al let out a cheer, and hugged Duan FeiZhou’s waist. “Thank you, Master! By the way, you haven’t told me where we’re going!”
“Shrewsbury,” Duan FeiZhou replied. “In Shropshire.”
Al had never left London before in his life. As it was the first time he had traveled so far away, he was too excited to read, so Duan FeiZhou just let him go. Duan FeiZhou took the opportunity to study the new books he had bought from Yeats. Unlike the manual full of esoteric theories that Z lent him, the book recommended by Yeats focused on practical exercises, which could be easy to understand.
The most basic ability of occult philosophy was the transformation of energy. Skilled occult practitioners could capture energy and store it for later use. Usually the energy was stored in a metal or gemstone that was compatible with the occult practitioner’s constitution.
Duan FeiZhou remembered how Palmer, who had kidnapped him, had a metal wand in his hand. That was probably for storing energy, right?
As long as someone mastered the capture and transform energy skills, they could deal with many unexpected situations. For example, you could draw heat from a flame, and then use that energy to make other items fly. Duan FeiZhou tried several times to capture energy from the fireplace flames, but he couldn’t make even a single piece of paper fly even though he exerted himself until his face was red. Whenever he tried, Sword in the Stone would snicker and ask if he was constipated.
Was there something wrong with the book Yeats gave him? Or was he born without the talent of occult practitioners?
Duan FeiZhou was a bit depressed. Still, he was about to go on a trip. He could try a few more times when he returned to London.
Duan FeiZhou got up early on the day of his appointment with Yeats. He had asked Al to meet him directly at Paddington Station, so today he had to go downstairs to the Dodo for breakfast. The restaurant owner brought in a breakfast and placed it heavily on the table.
“I’m afraid I can’t afford to rent your house any longer, Mr. Chester,” he said aloud. “Business is bad, and I’m losing a lot of money these days with all the inexplicable accidents…”
I blame your chef for the business downturn, Duan FeiZhou thought meanly. He asked out loud, “What kind of accidents?”
“Glasses suddenly broke, wine bottles fell off the shelves for no reason, and yesterday, when the chef was cooking, the pot suddenly exploded. Fortunately no one was hurt, but the customers were scared away, and the money for the meals weren’t paid,” the owner said with hatred. “I’ve been in this restaurant for ten years, but I’ve never encountered this kind of thing. It’s so evil.”
“Earthquake. It must be an earthquake.” Duan FeiZhou said.
“I think it’s the end of the world,” The boss grunted.
Duan FeiZhou seriously suggested that he buy home earthquake insurance.
After breakfast, Duan FeiZhou picked up his suitcase. The two most important things he took with him were the spell paper for the Secret Trading House and a Phantom Leaf to save his life.
He went to the mailbox on the corner and sent a letter. The letter was addressed to Ruth. Duan FeiZhou promised her father he would write before he left Aberdeen, but Ruth’s father couldn’t read or write, so he left it to his daughter to receive it on his behalf.
In addition, he also asked Ruth if she had heard of the Secret Trading House at the end of the letter. He had promised Z he would ask the residents of Mire Street about the situation, so he had to make a show of it. After he sent the letter, he called a hired carriage and went straight to Paddington Station.
The road to Paddington Station was crowded with people already commuting by train and subway in this day and age, and everyone’s faces wore the dead air characteristic of the working man.
Only a block from the station, the carriage stopped.
“What’s going on?” Duan FeiZhou poked his head out the carriage window.
“Sir, the road ahead is blocked,” The driver replied. “There seems to be a group of people demonstrating. I saw them holding up some kind of signs.”
Duan FeiZhou looked at his watch. There was only half an hour until ten o’clock. If he continued to be blocked here he would miss his train, so it might be faster to just walk over.
“Let’s stop here.” He paid the driver and jumped out with his suitcase.
The road ahead was indeed blocked by a large group of people. The drivers’ roars and the impatient snorting of the horses were incessant. Duan FeiZhou had to squeeze through the thick crowd. Every now and then his suitcase bumped into someone’s back, and his apologies never stopped along the way.
“O miserable people, open your eyes! Look at what has become of the land beneath our feet!” A woman shouted from the center of the crowd. “We look above our heads, but we ignore the earth! We cheer for the flying machines in the sky, but how many of us know how much harm the burning crystals of those machines are doing? Oh, people named those transparent stones ‘Etheric crystals’ and gleefully mined them out of the ground, thinking that they were God’s treasures for mankind to soar into the sky, but in reality they were a gift from Satan!”
Some people raised their arms and shouted for the woman, while others booed.
Duan FeiZhou looked toward the source of the sound and saw a woman was standing on a wooden box, as she held up a wooden sign that read, ‘Beautiful Gaia.’
“How many people are sick from breathing the exhaust of the Ether? How many people are languishing in sanatoriums? Don’t listen to those politicians’ rhetoric that Etheric crystals will never produce exhaust gas. Open your eyes and look at the facts! Look around you!”
Duan FeiZhou had merely stopped to look at them out of curiosity, but immediately an older man grabbed his arm. “Son, join Beautiful Gaia! Resist the Etheric crystals and save the lives of humans!”
Duan FeiZhou tried to shake him off, but the man’s grip was as firm as an iron vise, and he couldn’t shake it off no matter how much he struggled. Good guys, is this the Victorian sales pitch? More and more people gathered around Duan FeiZhou and surrounded him like a tidal wave. They all had the same wild eyes as the woman who was screaming.
“Sir! Please learn about Beautiful Gaia, our protector, our only salvation!”
“Look at this pamphlet and you’ll see what lies those politicians have told!”
“Our families have died because of Etheric Disease! Believe us! Don’t let more people suffer!”
Duan FeiZhou was like a ball being pushed around by the crowd. He had never been surrounded by so many people before. No matter which direction he turned, all he could see were excited faces. People opened their mouths wide, shouted slogans he didn’t understand, and hand after hand reached out to him, as they shoved pamphlets, leaflets, placards, and other things at him.
“I don’t want these. Please let me go, I’m in a hurry…” He explained in vain to the frenzied people, yet no one paid him any heed.
Just as he was about to be overwhelmed by the crowd, his wrist was violently grabbed by someone, and Duan FeiZhou finally got a breath of fresh air.
“Thank you…” he said under his breath. He looked up and realized that it was Yeats who had saved him.