Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Miss Melissa still maintained a cold look like a marble statue, but her body’s instinctive reaction betrayed her as she shivered subconsciously.
“Mr. Hart inadvertently discovered that there might be Ether crystals hidden under Perlilla Manor. In order to find out the truth, he proceeded to dig around the Estate to explore. But paper cannot cover fire. A year and a half ago, his secret operation was exposed when a village boy accidentally discovered the excavation site. So, Mr. Hart killed him, and buried the boy’s body in the oak forest. The boy who disappeared without a trace was named Barney.”
The flames were still burning. A roar of anger erupted from the crowd of onlookers. A large man and a cloaked woman rushed out, and grabbed Hart off the ground.
“Is it true, Hart! Did you kill my son?”
“My Barney. My poor Barney…”
The townspeople rushed to pull Barney’s parents away to prevent them from doing anything too drastic. Barney’s mother howled, while her husband glared viciously at the butler, as if he wanted to strangle him with his eyes.
“Of course, the old Lord was still alive at that time, and with his shrewdness, there was no way he wouldn’t discover your plot. Fortunately, you didn’t lack patience. You were just waiting for the day when the old Lord passed away. The new Lord Perlilla, Albert Midlov, was young and reckless. This was much better than his father, so you made him your target and officially started the whole plan.”
Duan FeiZhou stared unblinkingly at Miss Melissa, and smiled provocatively at her.
“The plan is divided into three steps. The first step was to make Lord Perlilla mistakenly believe that Miss Melissa was the daughter of a duke and get engaged to her. The second step, play god in Oak Manor, so that Lord Perlilla, now afraid of the place, would want to get rid of the land as soon as possible. The third step, have Miss Melissa come forward and convince Lord Perlilla to sell the estate land at a low price. Of course, the buyer would also be Miss Melissa’s accomplice. That is her entire plan.”
Lord Perlilla whimpered. “Then the several near deaths I suffered weren’t the work of the ghosts?”
“Of course not. Thirty years ago Perlilla Manor was rebuilt, and all the materials were purchased from outside. There were no ghosts. The first time you almost burned to death in the living room, I think it was Hart who did it. The second time you almost drowned in the bathtub was also Hart’s doing, of course. The third time the roof collapsed was also Hart’s work, naturally. After the roof collapsed, the old lady ordered it to be repaired, but he had orders to buy materials from outside. Greedy Hart directly stole from the oak forest, and the savings became his private money. Unfortunately, he didn’t realize that the wood from the oak forest was bonded with the spirits of the dead. And that the extra pieces from that renovation were picked up by the owner of the Clover Inn and made into a chair. The result also brought the undead of a certain generation of Lord’s wives back into the Manor.”
“No wonder Melissa thoughtfully introduced her ‘uncle’ as soon as we said we were selling the estate.” Old Lady Edith said sarcastically.
Lord Perlilla kept shaking his head, still unable to accept the truth.
“But…If Melissa’s purpose was really to buy the land at a low price, then why did she block the demolition of the mansion? You know, the house will be much more expensive when sold together with the land!”
“Simple,” Duan FeiZhou shrugged. “She was afraid that someone would inadvertently discover the underground deposits during the demolition of the house.”
Miss Melissa twisted her fingers together, her lips almost pressed into a line.
“What a load of nonsense,” Her tone was strong. “Lord Perlilla said he wanted to sell the estate, so I introduced my relatives. We are sincere in doing business with His Lordship. Regarding the price, we are still discussing it. There is no deception. As for Ether crystals, I don’t know anything about that.”
Duan FeiZhou walked up to her and gazed at her speechlessly. Miss Melissa bravely met Duan FeiZhou’s gaze, as if to prove by her actions that she was not a thief. The exquisite opal necklace around her neck shone in the firelight. It wasn’t the light emitted by occult items, just ordinary reflections, but Duan FeiZhou still found something unusual.
“Can you take this off?”
Miss Melissa gave him a wolfish look. “Why should I listen to you?”
“This question may be a bit rude, but,” Duan FeiZhou said with a tilt of his head. “Are you really a woman?”
At this statement, everyone drew a cold breath in unison. Dozens of pairs of eyes looked straight at the young girl with a delicate face.
Lord Perlilla’s whole body seemed to freeze. If someone knocked into him, he would probably turn into a pile of broken ice with a crash. Lady Edith’s face was as pale as the ghosts’. Even if she had faced a real ghost, her expression wouldn’t be nearly so amazing. Then there was Miss Melissa herself, located in the center of the storm. She looked cold, her lips almost pressed into a knife edge.
“Melissa…This…It’s not true…” the Lord’s voice was tinged with tears. “Tell me it’s not true…”
Miss Melissa didn’t look at him, just stared blankly at the burning mansion. Her slender jade hand slowly moved to the side of her neck, unclasped the opal collar, and revealed…an Adam’s apple.
“Ah, my Lord! His Lordship has passed out!”
Miss Melissa, or actually, ‘Mr. Melissa’ asked coldly. “How do you know who I am?”
When he spoke, his voice was unmistakably male.
The people around him once again sucked in a sharp breath in unison.
Duan FeiZhou shrugged. “I just thought there was something wrong with the necklace.”
Z stepped forward, unhooked a set of handcuffs from his belt, and snapped them around ‘Melissa’s’ wrists.
“You’re under arrest on suspicion of fraud and murder, ‘Miss Melissa’.” Z sneered and accentuated the word, ‘Miss.’
Melissa smiled to himself. “My luck is terrible, isn’t it?”
“No, Miss.” Duan FeiZhou said. “It’s not because of your bad luck that your evil deeds have come to light, it’s because of God’s justice.”
Xenophon also took off his handcuffs and held Hart, the butler, whom the crowd had only just remembered. Hart was almost forgotten because of the shock of what had just happened. The old butler hung his head. He had completely lost the arrogance and conceit of a noble butler, in contrast to Melissa, who was still cool and beautiful even though he was in chains beside him.
Barney’s parents rushed up again, and punched and kicked Hart. The other townspeople, as if waking up from a dream, also spit at the drug addict who killed their young neighbor. Their hatred for the familiar butler was stronger than for the distant and unfamiliar mastermind behind the crime.
“A life for a life, Hart! A life for a life!”
“My poor boy…My Barney…”
Hart was about to be strangled to death by Barney’s parents. His face turned crimson and he looked to the two Nightmen for help.
Z stepped forward, and forcefully pushed the distraught couple away.
“Don’t stop me! You’re an officer, but I’m not afraid! I’ll kill this son of a bitch even if I have to go to jail!” Barney’s father’s eyes blazed with anger as he threw a punch at Z’s face, which Z easily deflected with one hand. The beefy peasant stared in disbelief, completely confused as to how this white-haired detective could have such strength.
“I’ll pretend I didn’t hear what you just said.” Z said coldly. “But this will not happen again.”
After he said that, he swatted away Barney’s father’s hand.
“I have something to give you.” Xenophon untied the dirt-covered white package on his back. “I dug this out of the oak forest. Take him back and bury him properly.”
Barney’s parents stared in awe at the open white package. Scattered in the white cloth were the bones from a small body.
For a while, no one said anything.
Barney’s mother finally made a sound. She let out a long and tragic wail, and fell on the white cloth.
This was when the dust really settled, Duan FeiZhou thought to himself as he looked at the distraught couple. As his nerves suddenly relaxed, Duan FeiZhou abruptly blacked out and fell forward. He lost consciousness before his head hit the ground.
The national sensation, ‘The Perlilla Manor Incident’, came to an end.
The fire destroyed Lord Perlilla’s mansion. The once illustrious Perlilla Manor was now nothing but a charred skeleton, and the dark secrets of generations of Lords were also reduced to ashes.
“But according to reliable information, a large deposit of Ether crystals has been found under Perlilla Manor, and Lord Perlilla intends to build a mining site. Several banks and investors have already expressed strong interest in it.”
Duan FeiZhou put down the newspaper and looked at Yeats and Al, who were gathered around his hospital bed.
“Good news at last, isn’t it?”
Duan FeiZhou had collapsed, and was immediately taken to the town clinic. After some diagnosis, the doctor judged that he had overworked himself, and in addition, had suffered too much stimulation. He recommended bed rest for Duan FeiZhou, so he stayed at the clinic for a few days.
Every day, Yeats and Al would visit him and bring him the latest newspaper of the day, and the Perlilla incident was a hot topic in all the newspapers for several days. However, the papers were unanimous in reporting that the fire was an accident, without mentioning the names of Hart and “Mr. Melissa.” The reporters might not have dug up that explosive news, or the truth might have been suppressed.
They had rescued the wind lamp from the ruins of the Perlilla Estate, and although it still could be lit, it apparently wasn’t worth selling…
“I’m so sorry, Al. I was holding this lamp for your mother, and I broke it.” Duan FeiZhou said glumly.
“That’s okay, Master,” Al said cheerfully. “My mother was going to give it to you anyway.”
Yeats said, “Mr. Chester, it might be better not to use this lamp in the future. The lamp is fueled by one’s inner fire, and you fainted precisely because you had expended too much energy. If you hadn’t stopped in time, you might even have been in danger of dying.”
Duan FeiZhou immediately swore he would never use it again. The wind lamp was carefully put away in the Secret Trading House, in the display cabinet closest to the ceiling.
Unfortunately, Sword in the Stone wasn’t retrieved by them.
“After you fainted, the sword was picked up by the Nightmen.” Al said. “They thought the sword might have some special power, and never returned it.”
Duan FeiZhou was worried. When Xenophon visited his house he saw Sword in the Stone, and Duan FeiZhou falsely claimed it was an antique sword left behind by his uncle. Would they find out that Sword in the Stone was a talking magic sword? How would he explain that he carried a magic sword with him? What if Sword in the Stone revealed his identity?
On the fourth day of his stay in the hospital, Yeats and Al happily went off to enjoy the holiday, while Duan FeiZhou stayed in the hospital room, depressed.
He listened to the faint sound of music that drifted in from outside the window. The townspeople were holding a variety of celebrations on May Day, with all-night parties, singing, dancing, and drinking wine. Children wore garlands of flowers, and went hand in hand to the hills to break branches. The most beautiful girl in the village was chosen as the Maypole Queen, to represent the goddess of the forest and bestow a bountiful harvest.
Duan FeiZhou leaned on the windowsill and sighed.
Suddenly, a face too handsome to be human appeared in his view.
Duan FeiZhou shrieked, and fell off the windowsill.
“Are you okay?” Z asked, looking down. The warm smoky breeze tangled up his silver hair, and he impatiently pushed his messy bangs away.
Duan FeiZhou climbed back up to the windowsill. “What are you doing here? I thought you and Xenophon had gone back to London.”
“We booked our train tickets for this afternoon,” Z said. “How are you feeling?”
“I think I’ve recovered, but the doctor says I can’t leave the hospital until tomorrow. But today is May Day…” To be honest, he actually wanted to see the Maypole Festival. Duan FeiZhou looked at Z and there was a sly glint in his eyes. “If I sneak out and don’t tell the doctor, you’ll keep my secret, right?”
Z said, “Don’t even think about it.”
Duan FeiZhou pouted.
Z asked, “Why were you holding a sword when you came out of Perlilla Manor?”
Duan FeiZhou choked. He thought about it for half a day, and then said, “That…That was my uncle’s relic. I originally wanted to take it…That…I wanted to sell it to Lord Perlilla.”
Z said, “That sword might have secret magic attached to it, and I have to take it back to Scotland Yard for testing.”
Duan FeiZhou yelled, “But it’s mine!”
“Nightmen can confiscate anything related to the occult arts at any time.”
What a bullying clause! Duan FeiZhou had never even heard of it! He could only pray that Sword in the Stone would pass Scotland Yard’s inspection safely, or else…Otherwise, the number one sword in British mythology might be reduced to a pile of scrap metal.
Z asked, “When are you going back to London?”
Duan FeiZhou said feebly, “It depends on what Mr. Yeats wants.” Duan FeiZhou immediately changed the subject. “By the way, I haven’t thanked you yet.”
“What?” Z froze.
“When I fainted in the oak forest, I heard that you were the one who broke into the forest and rescued me despite the Lord’s ban.” Duan FeiZhou paused and suddenly felt like something was burning on his face. “I haven’t thanked you yet.”
The anger in Z’s body suddenly dissipated. He returned to his usual cold and detached attitude and said flatly, “That’s nothing.”
Duan FeiZhou didn’t understand what was so beautiful about this man.
A group of children passed by the hospital holding hands, each wearing a garland of flowers and waving a branch in their hands. They screamed, laughed and rushed past Z. They left a faint scent of flowers.
Duan FeiZhou sniffed thirstily at the scent of spring. “Seriously, Z. I’ll just slip out for a little while, and you can pretend you didn’t see it.”
“No way.” Z was stern. “Go back to your bed.”
Duan FeiZhou suspected that if he didn’t comply, Z would come through the window and force him back in, so he obediently lay back down on his bed, picked up the newspaper he had read a million times, pretended he hadn’t read it and read it again from the beginning.
The silvery figure in front of the window disappeared, and Duan FeiZhou sighed faintly. He read the newspaper once more, and was already bored enough to start doing the crossword puzzle in the newspaper when a familiar figure appeared in front of the window again.
Duan FeiZhou narrowed his eyes. “Z. Why are you back again?”
Z waved at him to come over. Duan FeiZhou put down the newspaper, stepped on the floor with bare feet, and walked to the window. Z made another gesture for him to lower his head.
Duan FeiZhou didn’t know what was going on, so he did as he was told. He lowered his head and stared at the dust on the windowsill. Then something fell on top of his head.
He touched his head, and found out that it was a garland of flowers.
“Thanks!” He looked up in surprise, only to find that Z had disappeared again without a word.
The wreath was poorly made, not so much a wreath as, ‘a number of blades of grass twisted and tangled together, with a few dying flowers shoved in between.’ Duan FeiZhou felt that this was probably the best gift he had ever received.
He was the owner of the Secret Trading House, and his trading house stored the world’s rarest and most novel treasures but they were nowhere near as wonderful as this wreath even when added together.