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Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations

Editor: GaeaTiamat

 

In an instant, the noisy human voices on the train all disappeared, and he could only hear his own frantic heartbeat and buzzing ears. If there was a God in the world, then He must be very keen on teasing mortals. There were countless trains departing from London in a day, but he just happened to be on the same train with these two Nightmen.

Z and Xenophon couldn’t be here in the middle of the day on a weekday with the intention of going on a vacation. They could only be doing one thing, and that was their job – hunting occult practitioners. Did they find out who he was? Or did they come here to track down Yeats?

“Mr. Chester, why don’t you introduce these two friends of yours?” Yeats’ calm voice called Duan FeiZhou’s soul back to his body.

Duan FeiZhou wiped away the cold sweat that was seeping out of his forehead. Ever since he met Z and the others, his handkerchiefs were always consumed very quickly.

On second thought, it was unlikely that they had come after him. If they had been informed that he was the owner of the trading house, they would have gone straight to his house to arrest him, rather than going to a crowded place like a train station to make the arrest, because that would not only put others in the crowd at risk, but also make it simple for him to escape. Therefore, they either came to test him or happened to be on the same route.

“Uh, ah, yes…” Duan FeiZhou stammered, “These two gentlemen are Detective Xenophon Throfet, and Detective Zeno Xenia. Both of them are the elite of the London Police Department.”

Yeats immediately sat up straight, as if something in the seat was stabbing him in the back. He questioned Duan FeiZhou with his eyes as to whether they were ‘that kind of’ detectives.

Duan FeiZhou nodded without moving his head. They were ‘that kind of’ detectives.

Yeats was a future Nobel laureate, and had seen the big fight of the occult practitioners. He courteously shook hands with the two Nightmen, and smiled at Duan FeiZhou. “You really travel widely. You even know Scotland Yard detectives.”

Duan FeiZhou tried to keep his tension out of his expression. “This…I was once kidnapped by thugs, and these two detectives saved me.”

Xenophon narrowed his eyes. “This is your friend?”

“Uh, yes, this is Alfred, the servant I hired,” Duan FeiZhou said automatically, “and this gentleman is…is…”

His throat felt like it was blocked by something. How was he supposed to introduce Yeats and say he was a poet? But how was he going to explain why he was with the poet? What saved him was the surprisingly calm Yeats.

He got up and took a business card from his coat pocket, and handed it to Xenophon. “I’m William Butler Yeats, a poet of no consequence.”

What happened next made Duan FeiZhou admire Al’s acting skills from the bottom of his heart.

Al exaggeratedly opened his mouth wide, tugged at Z’s sleeve, and his eyes looked like little stars were twinkling. He said in a surprisingly excited tone, “Mr. Detective, do you know Sherlock Holmes? Do you often work with Sherlock Holmes on cases? Is it true that Dr. Watson wrote all those stories?”

“Uh…” Z looked hesitant, like he was looking for an escape route.

Xenophon patted him on the back. “Why don’t you sit with the newcomers? I’ll go find a seat in the back.”

Z gave him a look of horror. “If you dare to leave me behind-“

Of course Xenophon dared. He drifted away with his suitcase, and left Z standing alone. He was tempted to follow his man, but the carriage was filling up with passengers. People kept pushing in, and disgruntledly knocked him out of the way as they yelled, “Move over” or, “Get out of the way!” So, Z reluctantly sat down in the empty seat next to Duan FeiZhou.

Al continued to add fuel to the fire. “Mr. Detective, what other cases has Holmes solved? There are so many cases that Dr. Watson didn’t write about but you must know, correct?”

His voice was shrill as a leaping magpie. Both legs kicked under the small table, and hit Z’s calf every time with unerring accuracy.

The train started, and with a whining whistle the platform receded toward the rear.

“There is no Sherlock Holmes in the world!” Z said coldly. “That’s all fiction-“

“Oh, of course there is,” Yeats interrupted him. “He’s a great detective. Kids look up to Holmes and see him as a hero. Isn’t that right, Mr. Detective?”

The implication was that Z should not burst the child’s naive fantasy.

Z squeezed the corner of the small table so tightly that he was about to crush it.

“Right.” He gritted his teeth. “Sherlock Holmes is a great detective.”

Al continued to bounce. “Do you know Detective Lestrade?! He steals Holmes’s credit every time, it’s so hateful!”

Z, “Don’t know him well.”

Al, “Mr. Detective, can you get his autograph for me?”

Z, “Wait until I get back and ask Lestrade.”

Al, “No! It’s Holmes’! Who would want Lestrade’s autograph!”

Z, “Lestrade is very sad to hear that.”

Next, Al began to give a variety of opinions about the Holmes novels and asked for Z’s opinion (or forced Z to agree with him), to which Z replied perfunctorily. He hadn’t broken Al’s neck yet, and Duan FeiZhou couldn’t help but be impressed by his perseverance. If it were him, he would have jumped out of the carriage window after a couple of minutes.

In between dealing with Al, Z didn’t forget to pry into Yeats’ situation, which showed how well trained he was as a police Nightman, “Where are you and this Mr. Yeats going?”

“Shropshire.” Duan FeiZhou replied.

“Oh? Where to do what?” Z asked again.

Duan FeiZhou looked at Yeats, and asked for help with his eyes.

Yeats replied calmly, “I was planning to go to the countryside to pick up some stories, so I invited Mr. Chester to go with me. I met him by chance in a bookshop and we had a good conversation. I thought it would be much more fun to travel with two good friends than alone.”

Z raised his eyebrows. “You met someone new so quickly? A new friend to travel with?”

Yeats smiled, “There is a saying in the East that says, ‘A white head is as good as new, a tilted lid is as good as old,’ meaning that the depth of friendship between people has little to do with how long they have known each other. Some people have known each other for years and still act like strangers who don’t know each other at all. Some people meet for the first time and it’s like they’ve known each other all their lives.”

Z frowned, and seemed offended by Yeats’ statement.

As a result of the indifference he received, Al bounced on the seat and used the cushion as a trampoline to jump up and down. “Let’s play a game! I’ll be Sherlock Holmes and you’ll be Dr. Watson! Now let’s catch the bad guys! Let me see which one of you is the murderer!”

The passengers around him cast angry and contemptuous glances, booed, and some even got up to call the steward. Z already regretted talking to them, now the other passengers thought they were all on the same side. They saw him as an accomplice in accommodating the bear child.

So, as soon as the train arrived at the next station and some passengers got off, he couldn’t wait to excuse himself to go sit with Xenophon, and walked off to another carriage without looking back.

After he left, Duan FeiZhou breathed a long sigh of relief.

“Well done, Al. I didn’t know you were such a good actor.”

Al smiled coyly at his master’s praise. “One of the few advantages of being a kid.”

Yeats put on his glasses, took out the newspaper he hadn’t finished reading at the station, flicked it open and used it to cover his mouth. “Mr. Chester, you are the student who is a detective?”

Duan FeiZhou’s head hurt at the mention of that.

“That was for a reason…I hadn’t inherited the Secret Trading House yet, and I agreed to join Scotland Yard by mistake…”

Yeats was filled with astonishment. “You, as the owner of the Secret Trading House and the most wanted criminal of the Nightmen, have mixed into Scotland Yard?” He looked at Duan FeiZhou, and his gaze went from horror to respect. “I see. You are undercover there, right? You disguised yourself as an ordinary person who didn’t know occult philosophy, and infiltrated them to look for weaknesses…”

It seemed that Yeats was worthy of his literary background, that his imagination took such a leap forward at that level. Duan FeiZhou managed to squeeze out a smile that was worse than crying as a reply. Although Yeats’ guess was completely incorrect, Duan FeiZhou could only let himself be misunderstood.

The train arrived at Shrewsbury, Shropshire. It was a very small station, in such a rural area that only public coaches or mail coaches ran to and from the towns. If they were lucky, they might meet a freight wagon on the same route and get a low cost or free ride.

Duan FeiZhou made a point of looking around the train station, but didn’t see the distinctive figure of Z among the passengers who were coming and going. He was relieved that at least this meant Z would not be in their way.

They couldn’t find a public carriage, but a farmer passing by with a freight wagon agreed to give Duan FeiZhou and the others a ride. Duan FeiZhou thought the wagon might have been carrying livestock.

Yeats and Al were not happy with the wagon either, but they had no choice. The three covered their noses with handkerchiefs at the same time to prevent inhaling the stench and also to prevent their vomit from accidentally splashing on others when they threw up.

“Speaking of which, Mr. Yeats,” Duan FeiZhou said. “You still haven’t told me who we’re going to acquire.”

Yeats leaned against the window and looked out over the idyllic landscape with great interest. It was late spring, and the fields were in full bloom, with lush green grass stretching to the sky.

“He is the local baron, Albert Midlov, Lord Perlilla. It’s his father’s relics that I hope to acquire,” Yeats said easily. “The lord just inherited his father’s title and property last year. The family is an old but not very well known line of occult practitioners. There wasn’t much done in the study of occult philosophy, but the practical application was well run. However in the previous generation, that is, when the old Lord was alive, the family had financial difficulties. It was probably for that reason that the old Lord Perlilla had rather let his son learn how to do business and the occult practitioners’ heritage was cut off in this generation.”

“If this new lord doesn’t know occult philosophy, why did he refuse to sell his father’s relics?”

“I don’t know. Maybe to save the relics. I thought Lord Perlilla was desperate for money, so I wrote him a letter. However, who knows why, he rejected it.” Yeats was sullen.

“That’s why you brought me along?” Duan FeiZhou asked.

Yeats nodded. “The reputation of the owner of the Secret Trading House is still a bit powerful in the industry. Maybe it will be easier with you.”

Duan FeiZhou let out a heartfelt, “Wow…” This was a real nobleman’s estate.

“It’s magnificent!” Al went to the front of the wagon, and said loudly and deliberately to the coachman.

While he praised the lord’s manor, the coachman was also proud of it.

“Yes, Oak Manor is one of the most magnificent estates in the county. I didn’t even want to add ‘one’, but the Lord always teaches us to be modest.” He shrugged unconcernedly.

“Why is it called Oak Manor?”

“Because it was built with oak trees, and most of the building materials were taken from Lord’s private oak grove.”

Al inquired again about the interior of the manor. Duan FeiZhou had to admit that Al’s skill in talking to people was perfect. Fortunately, the journey wasn’t long, and the wagon soon arrived at the entrance of the manor house, otherwise Al might have been able to find out the color of the lord of the manor’s pajamas.

The wagon stopped at the entrance of the manor. Duan FeiZhou jumped out, and took an impatient breath of fresh air.

“What’s wrong with you people? How can you park such a filthy wagon at the front entrance?” An old man with snow-white hair and dressed as a butler rushed toward them. He exuded a coldness and arrogance characteristic of a noble butler. Perhaps because of his age, he had pale skin and deep-set eyes, almost like a vampire.

“Didn’t we say that freight wagons could only enter through the back entrance? Are you going to dirty the eyes of the Lord and Lady?” The butler reprimanded the coachman.

The driver hung his head in shame. “I’m sorry, Mr. Hart, but I had to take these three guests…”

“Do guests get to break the rules of the Perlilla Estate? Besides, I have never heard of any guests coming to the house! What kind of dog or cat do you dare to send to the manor?” The butler said in a stern voice.

The coachman bowed deeply, his head hanging to the ground, and hurriedly drove the wagon to the back door. The butler turned to Duan FeiZhou and the others, sizing them up with a condescending look of disdain.

Although the three men were uncommonly well-dressed, their clothes were wrinkled, stained with straw and dust, and smelled of livestock after a long journey. The butler looked at them as if they were three silly sheep in their clothes.

Yeats handed over a perfumed, gold-trimmed business card, “I am William Yeats, come to visit your master.”

The butler’s cold expression finally relaxed at the sight of the flashy card.

“Please wait here for a moment.” He took the card and entered the mansion, leaving Duan FeiZhou and the others at the door.

Al could not help but spit on the ground. “How can you leave your guests at the door like that! You don’t know anything about hospitality!”

Yeats said easily, “It is often said that it is better to mess with the host than the housekeeper. It means that the master is highly educated, knowledgeable, modest and courteous, while the housekeeper, who is not educated, likes to look down on people.”

After a while, the butler came back.

“I’m sorry for the delay!” His attitude had made a 180 degree turn and he was all smiles. “So you are a famous poet! Why didn’t you tell me earlier? My master treats literary scholars and artists very well! Please come in! I am Hart, the head butler of the Perlilla Estate. Please forgive me. I’m sorry.”

He opened the door for the guests with great care. But no matter how enthusiastic he was, he couldn’t erase the disgust Duan FeiZhou felt for him.

Hart welcomed the three guests into the manor. As expected of a nobleman’s mansion, the foyer alone was more spacious than Duan FeiZhou’s entire house. Duan FeiZhou had a strange feeling that the people on the portraits seemed to be staring at them as uninvited guests. Although the interior of the house was magnificent, it gave him a lingering feeling of gloom.

Through the foyer was the parlor. A young man waited there. Dressed in morning dress, 1 with a medium build, square chin. He wasn’t outstanding in appearance and physique, very similar to those portraits in the foyer, with the overall ugliness of a class. It could be seen that the painter who composed those portraits must have made a lot of effort in beautifying the images.

In addition, there was an older woman present. Bejeweled, elegant, and although her hair was gray, she still looked energetic.

Hart made the introductions, “This is Lord Perlilla, Midlov.”

The man in the morning dress shook hands with Yeats and Duan FeiZhou, and patted Al’s head amiably.

Hart added, “This is the Lord’s mother, Lady Edith. The wife of old Lord Perlilla.”

Lady Edith held out a hand nobly and let Duan FeiZhou, Yeats and Al take turns kissing it.

Lord Perlilla winked at the butler. “Hart, you go out first. I will entertain the guests.”

Hart left with a nod and a bow.

Lord Perlilla was most enthusiastic about Yeats, and took him by the hand. “I’ve heard a lot about you, Mr. Yeats, I’ve always admired your poems! I’ve read ‘Crossroads’ and ‘The Rose’ many times!”

Yeats’ smile was a little far-fetched. “I did not come here today to discuss literature with you, my Lord. I had written to you previously, and today I have come for the matter mentioned in the letter.”

Lord Perlilla’s face immediately fell. “I should have written to you clearly enough in my reply.”

Yeats said, “It was because of the repeated refusals that I wanted to meet with you. My Lord, your father has been dead for a long time. Why won’t you just sell those mysterious little things he left behind? It is a curse to have those things in your house, isn’t it?”

Lord Perlilla didn’t dare answer directly, but first coyly asked his mother’s opinion. “Mother, since the Master of the Trading House has personally come to lobby…”

Lady Edith said with asperity, “Those are the relics of my late husband. I am not willing to sell them because I miss him.”

Her son hastily tugged on her clothes, and told her to keep her voice down.” Mother, I don’t know occult philosophy anyway, much less intend to let my offspring learn it…It’s useless to keep those things…”

“Have you no respect at all for your deceased father?”

His Lordship urged, “Mother, you must also consider the reality! How about selling those items with special powers, and keeping the ordinary ones as souvenirs? It’s a curse to have them in our house. If those Nightmen found out that our family has hidden secret items and made a fuss, then our family’s reputation will be ruined! My marriage may also be broken off!”

Lady Edith turned her head. “Our family is a noble family. I don’t believe the Nightmen have the guts to raid our house!”

“They are the Nightmen! If they want to, what can they not do?”

Duan FeiZhou could see that Lord Perlilla himself was quite willing to sell his father’s things. The main obstacle was his mother. As long as he could get past his mother, the business would be easy to negotiate.

Yeats also perceived this. The business was not led by Lord Perlilla, but by his mother, Lady Edith.

He turned to the old lady and said, “I understand that you dearly love the old Lord’s relics, but won’t you think about your son and your family? If those secret items are acquired by our professional merchants, they will be much safer than in your home. I don’t mean to look down on you, but you are not an occult practitioner after all…”

Lady Edith shook her head stubbornly.

It seemed difficult to carry on the conversation. Unless the Nightmen came down from the sky and raided the house on the spot, Mrs. Edith wasn’t afraid to hold on to her late husband’s legacy until she too, followed him.

Suddenly, someone knocked on the door of the parlor.

“Open the door, Albert! I want to see you!” A young girl demanded from outside the door.

Lady Edith looked displeased. “Go and open the door, Albert.”

Immediately Lord Perlilla opened the door like a humble servant. A young girl rushed into the room like a whirlwind. She was tall, beautifully dressed, and wore a luxurious opal necklace around her neck, which appeared to be of great value.

Lord Perlilla panicked at the sight of the young girl. “Melissa, I am entertaining guests. What are you doing here?”

Lady Edith grunted coldly. “No rules. Is this the way your family is brought up? I can’t believe you’re from a noble family.”

The young girl named Melissa ignored the old lady, and ran straight to Lord Perlilla.

“Albert, I heard that you want to tear down this mansion?” Melissa’s voice trembled, she was obviously very reluctant, “Why? The house is fine, so why do you want to tear it down? Besides, wasn’t it restored just a few months ago? It’s a lot of work! I like it the way it is now!”

“This isn’t your house.” The old lady said almost through gritted teeth.

The two women stared at each other in dismay.

Melissa went on, “Besides, wouldn’t it be worth more to sell the mansion along with the land?”

Lord Perlilla became more and more panic-stricken. He hurriedly ushered the young woman out of the room, and said kindly, “Melissa, there are guests here! How can you say this in front of the guests…” He turned to Duan FeiZhou and the others, and said with a smile, “I’m sorry, but it looks like we can’t do business. Please go back. If you want to discuss literature, you are more than welcome to do so.”

Duan FeiZhou also found it impossible to have a normal conversation, so he said goodbye to the lord.

Hart, the butler, saw them out. He probably sensed that his master and the guests had not left on good terms, as his attitude changed again from attentive to cold.

“It seems that every family has its own problems.” Yeats said.

Hart glared at him, as if to blame him for chewing Lord Perlilla’s tongue behind his back.

Duan FeiZhou asked, “Who was that lady?”

Hart replied coldly, “That is Miss Melissa. The Lord is courting her. Soon she will be the mistress of the manor.”

Duan FeiZhou asked again, “Your Lord wants to demolish the mansion and sell the land?”

Hart glared at him. “It’s none of your business. Please don’t tell others what to do.”

Duan FeiZhou was choked by him, and couldn’t speak.

The three of them walked out the door of the mansion, and Hart, “bang” slammed the door, as if to say ‘you don’t come back.’

Al made a face at the door.

“Didn’t you find something strange?” Duan FeiZhou asked. “The girl named Melissa said that Lord Perlilla was selling the estate, which means he is very short of money. If so, why would he tear down the mansion? As the girl said, selling the house together with the land is more profitable than selling an empty piece of land, isn’t it?”

Yeats frowned. “I don’t want to go home empty-handed. Let’s stay in a nearby village and come back tomorrow.”

Duan FeiZhou knew he wouldn’t stop until he got what he wanted, so he agreed.

There was a village near the Perlilla manor, and the townspeople were mostly tenants of the Lord’s family. There was only one small inn in the village, called the Clover Inn, which also served as a tavern, a meeting place for the townspeople and many other functions.

Since it was Yeats who proposed the trip, he paid for the travel expenses. They asked for three rooms at once, so naturally they received VIP hospitality. It was already past lunchtime, but Duan FeiZhou had not eaten anything on the way. His hunger had been depressed by the pungent odor in the freight wagon, but he now had an appetite. The innkeeper was kind enough to make lunch for them.

The three of them sat down around the table. The boss lady just served a pot of onion soup, when a familiar and loud voice came from outside the inn.

“Gee, it smells good! Boss, I think we should just stay at this inn, right?”

“There is only one inn in the whole village, so if we don’t stay here, won’t we have to sleep on the street?”

“That’s not bad either.”

A happy Xenophon, and a gloomy Z walked into the inn.

Duan FeiZhou just wanted to shout, “Why you two again? Heaven save me!’

When he had gotten off the train, he had gone around the station to make sure Z and Xenophon didn’t get off at the same station as them. Now they were here again?

Yeats and Al also looked like they had seen a ghost.

Xenophon saw Duan FeiZhou and others sitting in a corner of the inn, and walked straight towards him. There were tables and chairs in the way, but he just stepped over the chairs.

“What a coincidence, you guys are here too!” He sat down at Duan FeiZhou’s table with a big grin. Oblivious to how no one greeted him, he picked up a soup spoon and scooped a mouthful of onion soup into his mouth.

“It’s delicious. I didn’t eat anything on the way, and I’m starving.”

Duan FeiZhou warily asked, “Detective Tufet, why are you here? We didn’t get off the train at the same station, right?”

As Xenophon stuffed his mouth with onion soup, he also babbled on for half a day. Duan FeiZhou couldn’t understand him at all.

Z also sat down at their table. He slapped the spoon out of Xenophon’s hand and said, “This guy got off at the wrong station.”

Duan FeiZhou had nothing to say.

Yeats asked, “What are the two detective gentlemen doing here?”

As expected of a future literary magnate, in that moment of danger, he still maintained a graceful appearance.

“Investigating a case, of course,” Z said.

“What case?” Duan FeiZhou asked.

“It’s none of your business. Don’t ask more questions.” A chill flashed through Z’s blank red eyes. “What about you fellows? Didn’t you say you were going on a trip?”

Yeats replied, “We’re planning to spend our vacation here picking up the wind.”

“That’s quite a coincidence.” Z smiled coldly. He dragged Xenophon away from the table and called the boss’s wife, “We’re asking for two rooms, and to have lunch delivered to the rooms.”

The boss lady looked at Z for a moment, stunned by his beauty, before she hurriedly led them to their rooms.

Duan FeiZhou, Yeats and Al stared at each other in silence.

“Could they be here to trouble Lord Perlilla?” Al asked in a low voice.

Yeats said, “But the Lord doesn’t know the secret arts…”

“Shhh!” Duan FeiZhou hurriedly put up a finger, pointed upstairs, and mouthed the words, “That guy’s ears are very good. Beware of being heard by him.”

The three men lowered their heads in silence, and continued to eat their lunch.

After a quick lunch, they left the inn and walked down the dirt road to the middle of the village. That far from the inn, Z shouldn’t be able to hear them, and only then did they speak with confidence.

“The Lord doesn’t know occult philosophy, so the Nightmen should not be able to engage the chain of command. However, once they find occult-related items in the Lord’s manor, they will definitely confiscate them,” Yeats said.

Duan FeiZhou asked, “So we won’t be able to acquire anything?”

Yeats laughed. “Don’t panic. Lord Perlilla is a nobleman. The Nightmen, no matter how arrogant, at least have to give a nobleman face. They won’t dare openly raid the house. The majority of occult practitioners hide their books and magic weapons in places where people can’t find them. This may be an opportunity for us. That old woman may be worried about revealing her hand, and actually can’t wait to liquidate her late husband’s estate. If such headlines appeared in the newspapers, the family’s reputation would be greatly affected. The marriage of the lord and the beautiful lady is also in danger.”

A bare oak tree stood in the small square in the center of the village, and many villagers surrounded the oak tree, as they hung ribbons from its branches.

“What are they doing?” Duan FeiZhou asked.

“Ah, it’s almost the first of May, so they’re getting ready for the Maypole Festival.” Yeats turned to Duan FeiZhou, “What, you don’t celebrate May Day?”

Duan FeiZhou had been in this world for three years, and although he had heard the name of the festival, he had never actually experienced it. He vaguely knew that May Day was a European folk festival, but he didn’t know what it actually celebrated.

Al defended Duan FeiZhou. “May Day is rarely celebrated in the city.”

“It’s true that May Day is more common in the countryside. The custom has probably disappeared from the cities.” Yeats readily accepted this explanation. “It’s a festival where farmers celebrate spring and pray for a good harvest. The festival was originally dedicated to Diana, the goddess of the forest. During the festival, people would erect maypole trees or maypole flower posts and go on group excursions to the mountains to break twigs. In some places, a man and a woman are chosen to play the role of the forest goddess and the king of the forest. The marriage contract with the forest goddess represents that the goddess will bless the wind and rain, and the grain will be plentiful.”

Duan FeiZhou was so absorbed in listening that he didn’t notice that a woman with a withered face appeared behind them.

The woman looked steadily at Al, and then grabbed him.

“My child!” she cried. “You’ve come back at last! My child!”

Al froze, then fought free of the woman’s embrace and hid behind Duan FeiZhou, as he looked at the woman warily.

“I don’t know you!” The teenager puffed out. “You’ve got the wrong person!”

Duan FeiZhou’s first thought was that they had met a child trafficker. If a woman grabbed a child and insisted that he was her son, he was afraid most people would believe it. However, if this woman was a trafficker, she was too unkempt. Her hair was messy, and appeared not to have been washed recently. She was yellow and thin with ragged clothes, and only her eyes were shining.

The villagers in the square noticed the commotion, and gathered around. A few women rushed forward to pull the woman away, while the other villagers were full of guilt. They looked at Duan FeiZhou and the others’ clothes, and at a glance it was clear that they were guests from afar. They were being pestered by the woman, and the villagers felt ashamed of themselves.

“I’m sorry, gentlemen, but that’s a crazy woman,” one villager said. “Her son Barney has been missing for a year and a half, and now whenever she sees a child of similar age, she mistakes them for her own.”

Duan FeiZhou looked sympathetically at the ragged woman, who kept glancing back as she was dragged away by the villagers, as if she had decided that Al was her child.

Al came out from behind Duan FeiZhou and tugged on his sleeve, “Master, let’s stay away from that crazy woman. How about we look around elsewhere?”

Duan FeiZhou nodded, and they wandered about the square. Yeats was interested in the village’s May Day customs and insisted on staying to watch the villagers decorate the Maypole tree. Al was a child at heart, and curious about everything since it was his first time out of town. Duan FeiZhou was bored and went back to the inn by himself.

He said hello to the boss’s wife and walked upstairs. He had only been to his room once before when he was putting his luggage away, and now he couldn’t remember which room was his.

The first one was the second room on the right hand side of the corridor, or maybe the third one? Duan FeiZhou went to the second one first and tried to push it. The door was unlocked and opened with a sound.

There was someone in the room. There was a wooden bath directly opposite the door, and a person was sitting in the bath with his back to him. Although the person’s face couldn’t be seen, even from the back Duan FeiZhou recognized him.

Wet silver hair flowed down the shoulders, and floated on the surface of the water like a pool full of moonlight.

…It was Z.

It was so rude to witness someone taking a bath that Duan FeiZhou hurriedly lowered his head and stared at the floor. However, that glimpse still allowed him to see something he shouldn’t. The back of Z’s bare shoulder was carved with one old scar after another. Layers of scars crawled all over his body as if they were some kind of tattoo.

A metal spine was set abruptly in the center of his back, and as he moved, the vertebrae opened and closed, the end piercing into flesh and blood.

There was a clatter. Z stood up, and looked back at him indifferently.

Two red clouds flew up Duan FeiZhou’s cheeks. “Sorry! I…I didn’t mean it! I entered the wrong door!”

He hurriedly closed the door, and pushed open the door of the room next to it. That was the room that belonged to him. He flung himself onto the bed, his heart beating violently. He saw Z in the bath. Would Z kill someone? However, he was more concerned about Z’s body than his own safety. Not only his limbs but also his spine…

It was obvious that he was such a beautiful person, but his body was full of scars. It was like a silent declaration of the truth that nothing in the world was perfect.

“Knock, knock, knock.”

A slow knock sounded on the door.

“Who is it?” Duan FeiZhou jumped up in surprise.

“Me,” Z said.

“You…What’s the matter?”

“Open the door.”

Duan FeiZhou hesitated for a moment. Was Z here to kill him? If yes, then why knock on the door? With Z’s power, he could just break through the door and enter. If he knocked politely, it meant he didn’t have the intention to kill, right?

Duan FeiZhou jumped out of bed, and opened the door carefully.

Z stood outside the door, clad only in a white bathrobe, with wet silver hair draped over his shoulders that still dripped water. A pair of ruby red eyes showed between his messy bangs. He asked, “You saw it all?” 

 

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Translator Notes:

  1. This is correctly spelled “morning” not “mourning.” It’s a suit style for day time. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morning_dress
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3 Tell us your thoughts on the chapter.
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WangXian31
December 2, 2022 10:14 pm

I love how this novel is written; it flows so well. Very humorous too.
Yeats explanation about the attitude of people with class often being more humble than their servants, made me smile; it’s often encountered in novels of that period.
Al is a delight and Yeats thinks on his feet, luckily!
Poor DFZ, he seems fated to run into Z, often at the worst times 😏
Will Z be angry? Didn’t feel like it, but…
Thanks for translating, fir the T/N and editing.

Solis
December 3, 2022 4:45 am

That must have been a temptation, poor Duan! Al is very cute! Yeats is calm and smart! Thanks for the chapter!!!

SeoSeoSuzy
December 4, 2022 6:56 pm

A missing son and the Nightmen in town…there’s definitely something going on. Thanks for the chapter

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