Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
That night, Duan FeiZhou, once again, squatted in the trading house. He was getting anxious. Tomorrow was the last day of their stay in Geneva, and after tomorrow night, they would have to return to London. Of course, when they returned to London, he could still hang out the sign asking for the item. However, even if he bought the Phantom Phosphorus butterfly wing powder, Z would need to return to Switzerland again, and a round trip would take too much time.
Just when Duan FeiZhou was about to give up hope, he welcomed a valued guest.
“Dear Master of the Trading House, I saw that you posted a notice to buy Phantom Phosphorus butterfly wing powder. Is that notice still valid?” The old woman wearing a mask and a fox skin shawl asked.
Duan FeiZhou remembered this old woman. When the trading house first opened, she and some customers fought, but Sword in the Stone finally settled everything.
The young girl who had always been inseparable from her was also with her today.
“Of course, madam. You want to sell it to me?”
The old woman motioned to the young girl. The latter magically took out a small bottle from the folds of her skirt, which contained a small amount of purple-red powder that shone with a golden light from time to time as the angle changed.
“Phantom phosphorus butterfly powder 20 grams.” The old woman said.
There were many customers wandering in the trading house. When they saw that the old woman had taken out a rare occult material, they were curious and came forward to point at it.
“So that’s Phantom Phosphorus butterfly wing powder! It’s so beautiful!”
“If you knew its price, you wouldn’t think it’s beautiful.”
Duan FeiZhou smiled, Joseph Chester’s account book recorded the item of Phantom Phosphorus butterfly wing powder, although there was no such item currently in the trading house. He remembered that the price was 200 pounds per ounce, the equivalent of a year’s salary for Watson.
“I bid 200 pounds, what do you think?” he said. One ounce was 28 grams, and 20 grams of Phantom Phosphorus butterfly wing powder should be less than 200 pounds, but he was willing to take a loss. After all, he was asking for it.
The customers were in an uproar. A mere 20 grams of powder for 200 pounds! This was more valuable than gold!
The old woman shook her head, obviously not satisfied with the price.
The girl beside her said, “In the season when phosphorescent butterflies are on the wing, this price might be okay. However, now is the season when Phantom Phosphorus butterflies are scarce. It was harder to get it than to get to the top of the sky. Fortunately, our predecessor had some left over from her last experiment. It’s very hard to get.”
When the seller started to describe the rarity and difficulty of obtaining the item, it was for the purpose of raising the price. Duan FeiZhou wasn’t in a hurry. As long as the price was within his means, he could accept it. “Then how about you make a price?”
The old woman clutched the bottle firmly in her hand. “I want to barter with you.”
“Which item did you want in the trading house?” Duan FeiZhou waved his hand and ordered the display case to move in front of her. Behind the glass was an ugly rag doll.
Duan FeiZhou vaguely remembered that the old woman was interested in this cloth doll when she first visited the trading house.
“Jenny the Rejuvenator’s doll.” Duan FeiZhou spoke the name of the item. “You want to make an exchange?”
“Exactly.” The old woman said.
The doll had no price tag. The vast majority of items in the trading house were priced, and the few that weren’t meant that they were either extremely valuable and unavailable, or extremely rare and not easily priced. However for Duan FeiZhou, those goods were unnecessary. Even if the old woman wanted to exchange ten dolls, he was willing to give them up.
What’s more, the doll didn’t emit the light of an occult item.
He didn’t understand why the old woman had her eye on the doll. Maybe she didn’t know that it was just an ordinary doll? Or maybe she knew, but bought it simply for commemorative significance?
Duan FeiZhou snapped his fingers, and the display case door opened slowly. He took out the doll, and at the same time spread his palm towards the old woman.
The old woman gave him a surprised look.
“The Master of the Trading House is really a decent man.” She handed the bottle with the powder to Duan FeiZhou, while she snatched the doll away with the other hand.
“I rarely make such pleasant deals.” Duan FeiZhou weighed the bottle, and a smile rose on his face
With this, Z would soon be able to regain his sight.
Madame Boyle returned to her research room, followed by Madeleine, her apprentice and goddaughter.
“Madam, isn’t it a bit too much to trade a bottle of precious Phantom Phosphorus butterfly wing powder for this doll…” Madeleine looked at the ugly doll with some regret.
“Do you think it’s not worth it?” Madame Boyle took off her mask, and a smile appeared on her pale face.
“It is said that the soul of Jenny the Rejuvenator is attached to this doll, but there is no certainty, right? What if that’s just an ordinary doll?” Madeleine observed Madame Boyle’s face. Her mentor must have had a reason for doing so. Madeleine hastened to see the wind, “The Phantom Phosphorus butterfly can be bred every year, but this doll is unique. I think it must have some unique value.”
Madame Boyle fumbled with the doll’s ugly face. “Yes, it does.”
She turned the doll over and over for a long time, then grabbed it by the head and yanked hard.
“That’s Jenny the Rejuvenator’s doll! Why are you doing that?”
The old woman threw away the doll’s head without even looking at it, as if it was just a piece of junk.
The doll was already horrible looking, and the appearance after losing its head was even more appalling. The place where the head should have gone was only a pitch-black cavity, as if it was the product of a nightmare. The old woman narrowed her eyes, stretched out her index and middle fingers, and pinched out a thin roll of sedge paper 1 from the hole.
“Sure enough, it’s hidden here.” Her voice was full of excitement, as if an archaeologist had unearthed a rare artifact from an ancient tomb that could shock the world.
Madeleine’s jaw dropped. She didn’t think the doll’s body would contain a hidden treasure! The doll was just a container, the real commodity was the roll of sedge paper!
“Madam, how did you know what was hidden in the doll?” Madeleine was convinced. “The Master of the Trading House gave you the doll so easily, I’m afraid even he doesn’t know the secret!”
Madame Boyle smiled brightly. “I’ve been investigating for many years before I found out about this. I’ve wanted to buy this doll for a long time, but unfortunately I’ve always been hesitant. This time, the Master of the Trading House was desperate for Phantom Phosphorus butterfly wing powder, which gave me an opportunity.”
Madeleine wondered, “What is written on that piece of paper? Could it be some kind of powerful occult spell?”
Madame Boyle lovingly stroked Madeleine’s head. She and her mentor had a good relationship, but her mentor was rarely so intimate with her. The old woman said, “My long-cherished wish of many years is finally coming true, my dear.”
It was late at night, and Fabian was ready to read a few pages of a novel and go to bed. The sound of banging and tapping came from his sister’s room next door, where she was still engrossed in repairing machinery. Later he had to talk to her. It was so late to be still working, even if she wasn’t tired, but it would also be noisy for others!
At that moment, there was a knock at the door downstairs.
What guests would visit the door at this late hour? Fabian’s heart was flooded with mutterings, but he still put on his coat and went to the first floor. He was worried about the visitor, so he grabbed a wrench. In the case the visitor was a night burglar, he would hit him on the head.
When he reached the first floor, he looked out through the window, but the door was empty.
“It’s probably a prank…” he said to himself.
That’s when he noticed an envelope was tucked under the door.
He picked up the envelope, and looked at it repeatedly. The envelope was sealed with sealing wax, but there was no seal stamped on the sealing wax, and no writing on the envelope. It wasn’t delivered through the post office, so someone had specially stuffed it under the door.
“Fabian, who is it at this late hour?” Margaret walked downstairs.
“I don’t know, someone slipped this letter in.” Fabian handed the letter to his sister.
Margaret wasn’t as attentive as he was, opened the envelope directly and took out three sheets of paper. The first piece of paper was a short letter, while the remaining two had complex spell formations drawn on them.
Fabian came up, and read the letter together with his sister. The letter was written in a crooked manner, and obviously written in a non-dominant hand. The letter writer did this on purpose to prevent others from recognizing the handwriting.
Dear Mr. and Miss Möllen,
I don’t know if you have heard of the name Secret Trading House? It is the world’s largest trading place for occult items, and my humble self is the Master of the Trading House.
I sincerely hand you both an invitation to enter the trading house. As long as the trading house is open for business, when the two of you hold the key, you can enter and exit the trading house anytime and anywhere to select the items of your choice.
A special reminder is that the key to the trading house can only be used by one person and cannot be transferred to another. You can choose to hide your face when you enter the trading house. Once you enter the trading house, you agree by default to the following contract never to reveal the identity of the Master of the Trading House and other guests. Violators will be killed in place.
If you both agree to the contract, the trading house will open its doors to you.
Margaret and Fabian exchanged astonished looks.
“Secret Trading House, have you heard of it?” Margaret asked.
Fabian nodded. “I’ve heard of it from other occult practitioners. It is a shop located in the other dimension, which sells various occult items. But only people who have been invited by the Master of the Trading House can enter.”
“So, we both got an invitation?” When she heard about the secret items, Margaret’s eyes lit up. “What are we waiting for? Let’s go into the trading house and take a look!”
“Hold on.” Fabian was very cautious. “Why was this letter stuffed under the door of our house? If we were chosen by the Master of the Trading House, how did he choose us? We don’t even know him!”
Margaret wasn’t as thoughtful as he was, and said, “Our shop is quite famous, isn’t it? Even the Empress…I mean, the Countess, is our customer! It’s only natural that the Master of the Trading House has heard of our name!”
Fabian was still unsure. “How about this, I’ll go into the trading house to take a look. You wait outside. Even if this is a trap that way at least you will be safe.”
“No. Let me do it…”
“You are an occult practitioner, I’m not. If something happens to you, our family’s legacy will be cut off. So let me do it.”
Fabian put on an expression of great and heroic righteousness. The letter said that it was best to hide their identities when they entered the trading house. So Margaret fetched him a big cloak and a mask. Fabian felt like he was dressed like Robin Hood.
He picked up a spell rune. The spell emitted an eerie glow. He swallowed and touched the spell lightly.
In the next second, he appeared in another dimension.
In front of him was an open door, and the hall behind the door was rich and magnificent, just like a museum. Fabian felt like a country bumpkin entering the city for the first time and made a sound of admiration. So many display cabinets, so many goods, so many amazing things. He was simply dazzled.
“Welcome to the Secret Trading House.” A clear voice said.
Fabian was startled. He then realized that he wasn’t the only one here.
Behind the counter sat a man wearing a gold mask.
“Are you the Master of the Trading House?” Fabian asked in awe.
“What an incredible place…”
The Master of the Trading House smiled.
Fabian asked again, “You’re the one who delivered the letter to us?”
“Of course. I have known about your shop for a long time. It would be a beautiful thing to do business with you.”
Fabian did not feel that his shop had any reputation. Although his sister’s technology of making prosthetic eyes was unique in the world, they had always accepted only customers referred by their acquaintances, so they were actually considered little known.
The Master of the Trading House must be an acquaintance of theirs, or was it that this person was all-knowing and all-seeing?
Fabian’s eyes involuntarily fell on the nearest display cabinet compartment.
He immediately held his breath. There was only a small bottle in the large display case, and he couldn’t possibly be wrong about that thing. That distinctive sparkle was definitely Phantom Phosphorus butterfly wing powder!
It was surprising that it was even sold in the trading house…
“Can I…Look at that?” He stammered as he asked and pointed to the Phantom Phosphorus butterfly wing powder.
The Master of the Trading House waved his hand, and the display case opened.
“You have a good eye. This is a new item in our store.” He took out the small bottle. “The market price is 200 pounds per ounce.”
Fabian naturally understood that the price was very fair. He couldn’t wait to buy it on the spot, but he felt a little out of place. He was worried about where to find the Phantom Phosphorus butterfly wing powder, and the Secret Trading House was sent to his door. Wasn’t that a little too coincidental? However, if there was a conspiracy, Fabian couldn’t think of what kind of conspiracy it was. Was it a conspiracy to send charcoal to the snow?
Maybe he just got lucky?
“I need this item, Master of the Trading House,” he said. “I’m going back to get the money, can you keep it for me?”
The Master of the Trading House vowed, “Of course.”
“Then, I’ll be back soon!”
Duan FeiZhou looked at Fabian’s back with a helpless smile.
First he bought the Phantom Phosphorus butterfly wing powder from the old woman, and he then sold it to Fabian. Not only did he not earn a penny, he also lost a lot of money. Unfortunately, there was no way. He could only use this method to get the powder into the hands of the pair of siblings.
After they got the powder, they would be able to make the prosthetic eyes in three days, and then Z would be able to regain his sight. He might have lost a little, but Z’s body was more important.
Soon Fabian came back with the money and his sister. Miss Margaret unabashedly praised the trading house. She was particularly interested in many of the goods, like a child visiting a zoo, and could not wait to put her face on the display cases.
After doing that business, Duan FeiZhou thanked his customers and closed the door. He had been up all night for the past few days, and was so tired that he could hardly lift his fingers. When he returned to the real world, he immediately dropped into bed and fell into a deep sleep.
He was awakened by a deafening knock on the door.
“…Al, go open the door,” he mumbled in a daze. Then he remembered that he was abroad, and Al wasn’t with him. He rubbed his eyes and got up to open the door. Just as he moved the chair blocking the doorway, the door was thrown open with great force.
Xenophon’s head poked in.
“Why are you blocking the door?” He frowned. “Do you have to be so guarded?”
“…When you’re out, it pays to be prepared.” Duan FeiZhou said.
“The sister and brother Möllen sent a letter early in the morning to say that they bought the Phantom Phosphorus butterfly wing powder, and they will be able to finish the prosthetic eyes in three days. So we can still play more…I mean stay for three more days.”
They were scheduled to return to London today, and the tickets were all bought. Duan FeiZhou already knew about this, but still acted as if he was surprised. “That’s great! I thought I’d have to wait for months!”
“Yeah, that’s great, and what a coincidence.” Xenophon’s eyes flinched, but his face smiled. “Hurry up and get ready. We’re going to the Möllen siblings’ place later.”
Duan FeiZhou quickly washed and dressed, and went to the restaurant for an easy breakfast. Xenophon feasted, Z elegantly sipped his coffee and Duan FeiZhou could clearly feel the pleasant atmosphere in his body.
After the meal, they went to Möllen’s studio. Just as he had expected, Fabian received them warmly. He claimed that he had bought the Phantom Phosphorus butterfly wing powder from a fellow occult practitioner, and that Margaret was already working overtime to make prosthetic eyes. He didn’t mention the trading house, so he was careful. If he had mentioned it, he would have been arrested on the spot at best, or immediately died violently at worst.
“So, you’ll be staying a few more days.” Fabian said. “There’s one other thing I’d like to ask your opinion on.” He looked at Z. “Before transplanting your prosthetic eyes, the original eyes need to be removed. We used to receive customers who already had their eyes removed, so this step was omitted. But you’re different. Do you want to go to the hospital for the surgery yourself, or should we do it? If you don’t want to go to the hospital, I can ask a trusted doctor to come…”
“No need for a doctor.” Z said in response. “My partner can do the operation.”
Xenophon was horrified. “I don’t know how to do that! Don’t talk nonsense!”
“…Who said anything about you?” Z pressed Duan FeiZhou’s shoulder, and pushed him forward. “He can do it.”
Duan FeiZhou raised his eyebrows. Although he knew how to remove an eyeball, he didn’t have a license! Z was just going to encourage him to break the law? It seems the bottom line had been lowered after Z decided to accept the help of occult practitioners!