Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
The next day, Countess Hohenems visited again at the appointed time. This time, in addition to the maid, she also brought a male bodyguard.
Mr. Thales invited her into a special ‘treatment room’. It was originally a storage room that had been tidied up overnight. Mr. Thales commanded his two apprentices to move out the miscellaneous items, brought in a single bed, then put a fancy pile of candles in the corner and had them draw a few useless spells. Thus the storage room was then transformed into a special treatment room for psychics.
“Please lie down on this bed, Madame.” Mr. Thales pointed to the single bed.
“May my servants stay with me?” The Countess was a little uneasy.
“Of course they may, Madame. You will be more relaxed and my spells can be cast more easily with someone close to you.”
The maid hurriedly fluffed the pillow, and helped the Countess to lie down. The male bodyguard stood nervously on the other side of the bed. He had been holding his waist since the beginning, and Duan FeiZhou guessed that he might have brought a gun with him. If anyone in the room attempted to harm the Countess, he would immediately shoot everyone with his gun.
Mr. Thales closed the door. He stood on the left side of the countess, and then asked Duan FeiZhou to stand on the right side.
“Now I am going to hypnotize you, Madame. You should think of nothing, do nothing, you will feel more and more sleepy…” Mr. Thales took out a crystal spirit pendulum, and swung it over the Countess’s head, with the look of trying to hypnotize her.
But Duan FeiZhou knew that this was all a gimmick. If Mr. Thales wanted to hypnotize a person, he could just snap his fingers. The reason for going to such great lengths and engaging in spiritual pendulum hypnosis, was to cater to the ordinary people with his “psychic” impression. If the psychic did not do so, people would doubt his reliability.
Soon, the Countess drifted off to sleep. Her breathing gradually stabilized, and her body slowly relaxed as she entered dreamland.
Mr. Thales put away the spirit pendulum, and gave a wink to Duan FeiZhou. It’s your turn.
Yesterday, Mr. Thales had taught Duan FeiZhou the occult art of spying on other people’s dreams. The occult technique wasn’t difficult; simple but also not simple. He just needed to synchronize his spirit with the recipient, then he could enter the other person’s spiritual world. The difficulty was that the recipient would be resistant to spying on the spirit through occult arts, so the person would generally be hypnotized to reduce that resistance.
Duan FeiZhou moved to the head of the bed, and looked down at the Countess’s sleeping face. Then he pressed both hands on her temples, closed his eyes and activated the spell. The feeling was very similar to the activation of spiritual vision, except that spiritual vision observed the “outer world”, while spirit prying observed the “inner world.”
Duan FeiZhou was already quite good at psychic vision, so spirit prying wasn’t a problem for him. He dove into the deep sea of the Countess’s mind. Soon he landed on the ground.
He should be in the Countess’s dream world. Under his feet was a field of blue grass, while in the distance stood a beautiful mansion. A young girl rode side saddle as she galloped on her horse. Her long hair flowed behind her. She was happy as a fairy in a field.
Duan FeiZhou approached the maiden. She must be the Countess in her youth, right? This was her memory, so they certainly couldn’t see Duan FeiZhou, so he could freely observe the surrounding scenery.
A middle-aged couple stood at a distance as they silently watched her. The horse galloped to a fence, and looked as if it would hit it. The middle-aged couple simultaneously covered their mouths. At that moment, he saw the girl lift the reins as the horse leapt high, and lightly jumped over the fence.
The young girl laughed loudly, and looked at the middle-aged couple. “Mom and Dad, did you see how I rode?”
Her mother scolded, “That’s too dangerous! Don’t you ever do that again!”
“But I did it!” The young girl pouted.
“Come on down! You haven’t packed your bags yet! We’re going to Vienna tomorrow, did you forget?”
“Sister is going on a blind date. Why should I go too? It’s weird and boring.” The young girl sulked.
“That’s your cousin too! Isn’t it good to go and see someone?”
Then the scene changed.
The green wilderness turned into a beautiful palace. The young woman was dressed in full court dress, wore a magnificent crown, and a handsome young man was holding her hand. The rings on the pair’s ring fingers shone brightly.
A bishop stood in front of the two. He raised his hand and said solemnly, “I pronounce you officially married.”
The young woman and the man looked at each other and smiled. The crowd in the palace erupted in a loud cheer.
Duan FeiZhou was also standing in the crowd. He was like a ghost, as people kept passing through his body. It was a good thing he couldn’t feel anything. It should be the Countess’s wedding, right? It just seemed a little unusual for a count’s wedding to be so grand.
The scene changed again. This time the Countess was lying on the bed, her long hair spread over the pillow, her face pale as if she was seriously ill.
A maid came in carrying tiny swaddling clothes, and the Countess immediately smiled and held out her hand towards her. The maid handed the swaddling clothes to the countess. A small pink hand emerged from the swaddling clothes. The countess squeezed that small hand and kissed the baby’s cheeks.
Compared with the previous scene, the countess was a little older at this time. Perhaps because she became a mother, the childishness that belonged to a girl had faded away and she had become more maternal.
It was strange, Duan FeiZhou thought. This was indeed the Countess’s dream, but hasn’t she been plagued by nightmares? And yet the scene he saw had nothing to do with nightmares.
A carefree girlhood, a grand and lavish wedding, a happy son…How can it not be seen as a happy moment in life?
The scene has changed again. This time Duan FeiZhou saw another palace. This time the Countess was no longer a young lady, but a dignified woman. She knelt on a cushion, and reverently bowed her head. Her husband held a crown and put it on the Countess’s head.
Duan FeiZhou immediately recalled a world famous painting, “The Coronation of Napoleon.” Although it was titled “Coronation of Napoleon,” the painting actually showed Napoleon crowning his queen, Joséphine. The painting showed Napoleon holding a crown, while Joséphine knelt in front of him, waiting for him to place the crown on top of her head.
The Countess was certainly not Joséphine, and her husband could not be Napoleon. After all, those two have long since passed away. But an ordinary count couldn’t have crowned his wife, could he?
Duan FeiZhou looked at the Countess, and all of a sudden, he understood who she was.
...No way. Is it actually her?
He thought that coming to this era and meeting a historical figure like William Yeats was already unparalleled luck, but he didn’t expect that he would still meet…her?
The ground suddenly trembled.
Duan FeiZhou was unsteady on his feet and almost fell to the floor. He thought there was an earthquake, but the “Countess” did not move at all, and the crowd at the ceremony didn’t show any signs of abnormality.
So, it wasn’t their problem, but his.
Spiritual spying required the caster to remain calm. Could it be that he got excited for a moment when he realized the true identity of the “Countess” which caused the occult technique to fail? Duan FeiZhou hurriedly stopped casting the spell and pulled out.
He returned to the real world, back to Mr. Thales’ home.
The Countess was still lying in bed, unconscious, while he stood at the head of the bed, and tapped the Countess’s temples with both hands.
When he opened his eyes, Mr. Thales asked impatiently, “What have you found?”
Duan FeiZhou withdrew his hands. When he did so, the Countess’s eyelids fluttered. Her maid and bodyguard hurriedly pushed Mr. Thales away, and bent down respectfully to ask, “Are you all right?”
The Countess propped herself up and touched her cheek. “Did I fall asleep? How strange, I lost consciousness as soon as I touched the pillow. Did I just have a dream?”
She threw a questioning look at the people present.
The crowd threw the same look at Duan FeiZhou.
“Ahem.” Duan FeiZhou cleared his throat, and gave his opinion, “I have a general guess about your strange symptoms from time to time while you sleep, Countess, but I can’t guarantee that it’s completely correct…”
“Don’t be so secretive, tell me.” The Countess urged.
“You are not plagued by nightmares, Madame.” Duan FeiZhou said. “On the contrary. All your dreams are beautiful dreams of unparalleled happiness. Because you have suffered many blows in real life, you sink into beautiful dreams to heal the wounds of your soul. It’s because the dreams are too beautiful that you don’t want to wake up.”
Duan FeiZhou knew he was right.
The maid and the bodyguard glanced at each other with looks of both shock and confusion.
“But why does Madame shed tears every time she has a dream?”
Duan FeiZhou said in as straightforward a tone as possible, “I think it’s because the dreams are too beautiful.”
The maid covered her chest. “Then wouldn’t it be useless for me to bring the lady to see a psychic?”
The bodyguard looked relieved. “As long as the lady is in good health!”
The Countess made a gesture of dismissal to her two servants. “Stand down, I want to talk to this young gentleman alone.”
“But Madame, we mustn’t leave you alone!” the maid said nervously. “You are such an honorable person, if there is a mistake…”
“I am sure this gentleman will not harm me,” the Countess said firmly.
“But Madame, if you are alone in the same room with a young man it will not be good for your reputation!”
The Countess looked puzzled.
“You seem to want to talk to my young apprentice from the bottom of your heart.” Mr. Thales said with a smile. “I have an idea that I hope is to your liking. I have a garden in my house which is very quiet, so you can talk with my apprentice there. Your servants can watch you from a distance without hearing you, while they keep you safe and honorable.”
“That is a very good idea.” The Countess looked pleased. She extended her hand toward the maid. The maid respectfully assisted her out of the bed.
Mr. Thales opened the door of the treatment room and led the way, as he took the party into the small garden. As Mr. Thales said, the garden was planted with moonflowers and olive trees, so the atmosphere was relaxed and quiet. The Countess asked her maid and bodyguard to stay at the door, while she picked up her skirt and walked into the small garden.
Duan FeiZhou also followed her.
However, someone else had already gotten to the garden first.
Z sat sullenly in front of the moonflower bush, as he hugged his knees like a forgotten statue. A few butterflies fluttered around him. One of them boldly rested on his head, and flapped its wings.
“Ahem.” Duan FeiZhou cleared his throat to get Z’s attention. “The Countess and I have something to talk about. Might you excuse us?”
Z stood up reluctantly, “Okay. I’ll go.”
He passed by Duan FeiZhou, who rubbed the spot where he bumped him. Z was usually cold and indifferent, but sometimes his mind was particularly easy to guess.
The Countess looked at him with interest.
“Madame? This way, please.” Duan FeiZhou said.
The two went to a corner of the garden where they could see the bodyguard and the maid, but did not have to worry about their conversation being overheard.
“Sir, do you already know who I am?” The Countess asked.
Duan FeiZhou nodded, then realized that he should be more respectful to her, so he bowed politely. He said, “You are Princess Sissi.”
The Countess smiled. “It’s been a long, long time since anyone has called me that. When I hear this name, I feel like I am back to my teenage years.”
Duan FeiZhou was a little embarrassed. “Should I call you Your Majesty?”
The Countess – or rather, Her Majesty the Empress of Austria-Hungary 1– smiled and shook her head, “In this foreign country, I am just the Countess of Hohenems. You can just keep calling me Countess.”
“All right, Madame. I have already explained very well the reason why you always sink into dreams. What else would you like to inquire about?”
The Countess gazed at a bush in full bloom and whispered, “I have heard that people like you have the power to understand life and death. I would like to ask, is it true that there are people in the world who are haunted by death from the very beginning?”
Duan FeiZhou raised his eyebrows. “Do you mean yourself?”
“If there is someone in the world who is favored by death, it is probably someone like me. The gods of death have been taking people away from me one by one. My children died before me, and young people like you probably don’t understand the pain of dying in vain. Compared to that, I would rather let death take me away.”
Duan FeiZhou didn’t know what to say. The historical Empress Elisabeth did send off her loved ones several times, and later generations turned her experience into a musical by adding a “Death” character to it. The Grim Reaper fell in love with Empress Elisabeth, so he took away the people around her one by one, and eventually Elisabeth herself.
The unfortunate life of being haunted by death…
Seeing that he did not answer, the Countess “puffed” a laugh. “I seem to have asked an unanswerable question, and embarrassed you. I myself do not believe in destiny. I just want to talk to someone because I have lost so much. My servants have sought out many doctors and psychics because they were worried about me, but no one has ever seen as clearly as you do.”
“I just told you what I saw.” Duan FeiZhou said.
“Since my ‘strange sleeping problem’ is not serious, I am relieved. Good memories can help one overcome a sad, dark reality, right? I’ve been traveling the world in recent years, hoping to accumulate some more good memories. Maybe one day, I will stop dwelling on the past.” She held out her hand to Duan FeiZhou, gesturing for him to help her, and Duan FeiZhou kindly lifted his arm to give her a hand.
“It would be good if you could find some peace.” Duan FeiZhou said.
“After all, life is still long. How can you live without smiling?” The Countess narrowed her eyes.
Looking at her smiling face, Duan FeiZhou only felt a pang of bitterness. Destined to die? That kind of thing did exist. A few years later, Empress Elisabeth would be assassinated in Geneva, Switzerland, thus ending her sensational life.
It was written history.
But could history be changed? In a world where occult philosophy and Etheric crystals existed, couldn’t the trajectory of history be changed?
Duan FeiZhou spoke hesitantly, “Madame, do you like Switzerland very much?”
“That country has very pleasant scenery and fresh air, which is very good for one’s health.” The Countess had a nostalgic expression. “Especially in winter. The mountains are covered with snow, the lake is frozen, and all around you is pure white as far as you can see. It’s as if I am the only one in the world…I often go there on vacation. What’s wrong?”
“You’d better not go.”
The Countess stopped, and looked at him in amazement. “Do you know something? Can you… foresee the future?”
“I have said all that I can say.”
If the Countess stayed away from Switzerland, could she stay away from the fate of her death? Maybe she would be assassinated somewhere else, maybe she would die in another way, maybe she would escape…
The Countess averted her eyes, and looked out at the sea in the distance.
“I understand what you mean. I would be in danger in that country, wouldn’t I?” She raised the corner of her lips. “If that is my destiny, I will meet it.”
Duan FeiZhou looked at the woman in amazement. She was far stronger than he had imagined. His impression of this woman basically came from the old movie “Princess Sissi”. The brave, kind and beautiful princess met the handsome and dashing emperor, and lived happily ever after. It was simply a fairy tale ending.
However, in reality, what if there was no fairy tale ending? She ended up even more miserable than many others. Yet she clearly heard the warning, but still willing to face that ending.
They returned to the door of the house. The Countess said to the maid, “You can pay the rest of the money to the psychics. They have been a great help to me.”
“As you wish.” The maid pulled out her purse, took out a check and handed it to Mr. Thales.
Seeing the number on the check, Mr. Thales burst into tears. He gave Duan FeiZhou a push and whispered, “Send the lady off properly!”
Duan FeiZhou could only helplessly squeeze out an attentive smile, and escorted the Countess and her group out, as he took them all the way to the street corner.
“This is all we need to do. There’s no need to send us off again, Sir.” The Countess said.
“It’s what I should do.” Duan FeiZhou was courteous.
The Countess nodded at him and walked towards the road crossing, escorted by the maid and bodyguard. She stood across the road for a moment, then suddenly turned around and threaded her way back.
“Is there anything I can do for you?” Duan FeiZhou was surprised.
“There’s something I’d like to inquire about. Was that silver-haired gentleman in the garden also an apprentice of the master psychic?”
Duan FeiZhou was stunned. The countess and Z do not know each other, why would she inquire about Z? Could it be that she had a crush on Z?
Empress Elisabeth was a vivacious woman, and she was very close to many men. There were many scandals, but they were never confirmed, because the scandals were only at the stage of court rumors. But Z’s looks….Duan FeiZhou would not be surprised if a woman fell in love with him.
It was the noble Empress…
It was as if someone had dug a fountain in Duan FeiZhou’s chest, and acid gurgled out.
“He is…my friend.” Duan FeiZhou said carefully. “We came together to visit Mr. Thales.”
The Countess pondered, “Is that gentleman blind?”
Duan FeiZhou was even more astonished, for although Z was blind, he could hear the wind and hear his place, so his daily life was hardly affected. It was difficult for people to notice the difference between him and an able-bodied person, “How can you tell?”
The Countess smiled, “It’s a kind of intuition. When you see a lot of people, you naturally have intuition.”
It sounded so mysterious.
“Perhaps I’m being nosy,” the Countess said. “I know a mechanic who makes prosthetic eyes that can give people back their sight. My husband had a former subordinate who was blinded during the war and was cured by that master. I wonder if that silver-haired gentleman has this need?”
Duan FeiZhou didn’t think twice, “Of course!”
The Countess gave a few instructions to the maid, who immediately went into a store down the street and returned a few moments later with a piece of paper and a pen, “That master acts very low-key, and never receives customers unless they are introduced by acquaintances. Let me write a letter of introduction for you.”
The Countess looked around for a place where she could put the paper and pen. The bodyguard immediately turned his back and he squatted down. “Please write on my back, Madame.”
The Countess looked amused, but pressed the paper on the bodyguard’s back and hurriedly wrote. When she finished writing the letter, she asked the maid for her seal clay, and she stamped the end of the letter with the seal ring on her hand.
When he received the letter, Duan FeiZhou’s hand trembled.
The letter was written in German, which he couldn’t read, but the Countess had written the address in English on the other side of the paper.
The master lived in Geneva, Switzerland.
They had passed through Geneva on their way to Greece and would probably take the same route on their way back. Just the right way!
“I, I don’t know how to thank you, Madame.” Duan FeiZhou stammered. He felt his cheeks burning. He had actually been jealous of the Countess before, so now he was really careful. This was probably called “to be a gentleman with a small heart”, right?
The Countess smiled. “I hope everyone can live happily ever after.”
She waved goodbye to Duan FeiZhou and crossed the street with the two servants, before she disappeared around the corner.
A brief encounter in the world ended in a hurry.
But no one knows how fate will change.
- Duchess Elisabeth Amalie Eugenie in Bavaria (24 December 1837 – 10 September 1898) was Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary from her marriage to Emperor Franz Joseph I on 24 April 1854 until her assassination in 1898. Elisabeth was born into the royal Bavarian House of Wittelsbach. Nicknamed Sisi (also Sissi)