Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
A drop of cold sweat slid down Duan FeiZhou’s forehead. It was strange. Why would he still sweat in his dreams?
“I admit that I have secretly practiced the occult arts,” Duan FeiZhou said. He had confessed that to Mr. Thales. Xenophon was Mr. Thales’ disciple, and probably heard about it from his mentor. There was no point in hiding it from him. What else could Xenophon do as long as he refused to bite the bullet and denied the rest?
“It’s more than that, isn’t it?” Xenophon smiled. “Will you confess on your own, or will I force a confession?”
“I have nothing to confess.”
“You remember the day you came to Scotland Yard for the second time, don’t you? That was the day you learned of the death of the girl from your hometown.”
Of course Duan FeiZhou remembered. It was Xenophon who told him the sad news at that time.
“That day I had quizzed you on your knowledge of occult philosophy. I asked you who the two surviving members of the Forerunners were. You answered that it was Hermes and Hecate.”
Duan FeiZhou tried to keep his face taut and his emotions from showing. He said, “That’s the correct answer.”
“Yes, exactly right.” Xenophon said approvingly. “But it’s not in the book we gave you. You could only have learned it from somewhere else.”
Duan FeiZhou’s pupils instantly dilated. How could he have forgotten something so important? He had read Joseph Chester’s notes together with the textbook given to him by the Nightmen, and although he had learned the knowledge, he had forgotten which information came from which book by the end of the lessons. Even he didn’t notice such a small, insignificant detail, but Xenophon noticed.
So then, in one fell swoop he was caught in a lie.
Xenophon smiled sorrowfully. “If I hadn’t just read about the girl’s death and been distracted myself, you would have been exposed on the spot.”
In other words, Xenophon only realized that Duan FeiZhou had concealed the information about occult philosophy when he recalled the incident afterwards? So when did he really find out about it? Why did he keep it to himself until now? And instead of telling Z openly, why did he sneak into Duan FeiZhou’s dream and confront him?
Xenophon’s move obviously had a different purpose. He didn’t just want to uncover Duan FeiZhou’s true colors.
“Then why don’t you expose me?” Duan FeiZhou asked.
Xenophon narrowed his eyes, “Well, there are many reasons for that. First of all, when I found out about this, you were already in hot water with Boss Z. If I told him the truth, he would be sad. If I tell him the truth now, he will be grief-stricken. I couldn’t bear to break his heart.”
“You’re on good terms with him.” Duan FeiZhou grunted.
“I’ve known him far longer than you have,” Xenophon said lightly. “The second reason is because I’m not the same as Z. I’m not hostile to occult practitioners. For all the occult practitioners who are willing to work for the Nightmen, I don’t ask about their origins, like they are fellow soldiers. So it doesn’t really matter to me whether you are an occult practitioner or not.”
“Then why did you sneak into my dream world?”
“My intuition tells me that you are hiding more secrets.” Xenophon took a step towards Duan FeiZhou, who subconsciously took a step back.
“…I’m not.” Duan FeiZhou denied stiffly.
“I advise you to hurry up and confess. As long as it’s not some big issue of principle, I’m willing to help you keep your secret.” Xenophon winked at him playfully. “But I don’t like the feeling of being kept in the dark. We can be co-conspirators and accomplices, but you can’t hide something from me.”
Hah. Coincidentally, Duan FeiZhou’s big secret was really a matter of principle.
“I admit that I did study occult philosophy a long time ago.” Since Xenophon saw through this, he couldn’t continue to bluff, “Other than that, I have nothing else to hide from you.”
“Is that so?” Xenophon took another step forward. “Then tell me, when, where, and under what circumstances you learned that knowledge.”
Duan FeiZhou’s mind raced. How could he explain it reasonably?
“I…When I was living in Aberdeen, I treated a patient who eventually passed away, leaving behind only a book.” He started making things up. “I was curious and just read it. How could I have imagined at the time that it was actually a book on occult philosophy?”
“What was the patient’s name and what cemetery is he buried in?” Xenophon continued to press.
“I don’t remember. I’ve treated so many patients, how could I possibly remember their names one by one? Besides, many of my patients were stragglers, and didn’t use their real names.”
Xenophon sneered, “Don’t remember? That’s okay, I can see for myself.”
After that, he reached out like lightning, and pressed his hand on Duan FeiZhou’s forehead. A cold force flowed into Duan FeiZhou’s head along his hand, as if some kind of plant had taken root in his brain, and was desperately drawing on his brain’s memories as nutrients.
No, he couldn’t let Xenophon peek into his memories! Duan FeiZhou clenched his teeth and forced back the force that had penetrated deep into his brain.
Xenophon’s smile turned into consternation. He tried to pull back his hand, but it was too late. The power flowed backwards into his body!
The dungeon disappeared, and Duan FeiZhou fell into endless darkness.
Soon he landed on the ground.
He was in a glass greenhouse. It was late autumn outside the greenhouse, with fallen leaves everywhere and decaying, withering grass. However, inside the greenhouse, flowers were blooming and green.
A young man with black hair and yellow eyes was lying under a flower stand, a large heavy book under his head and a blade of grass in his mouth. He was holding another book in his hand. Duan FeiZhou bent down to read the title, which was The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.
This teenager was undoubtedly Xenophon, who was more than ten years younger.
These were Xenophon’s memories.
“Young master, why are you reading idle books again?” A young girl dressed as a maid ran up to Xenophon and took The Count of Monte Cristo out of his hand, “My God, you’re using His Lordship’s notes as a pillow! If his lordship saw it, he would scold you again!”
Xenophon spat out the blade of grass, took back his book, and said with a smile, “I don’t want to be an occult practitioner anyway. When I come of age, I’ll leave home, become a sailor or something and never come back to this place.”
The maid frowned. “You’re talking silly again! You are the only heir of the family. If you don’t become an occult practitioner, then the family’s legacy will be cut off.”
“If it’s broken, it’s broken. If not, let my father take on an apprentice. When the time comes, do you want to leave home with me? It’s no fun to be a maid here, and my mother scolds me all the time, so how about we go out together?”
“Young master, you can’t say that. \If her ladyship heard, I’d be scolded again…”
Xenophon laughed out loud and lay down again, as he continued to read The Count of Monte Cristo. The heavy notebook on occult arts was once again reduced to his pillow.
I can’t believe Xenophon was the descendant of a line of occult practitioners, Duan FeiZhou thought with amusement. But how did he become an occult practitioner when he said he didn’t want to study occult philosophy? The law of true destiny?
The scene changed. Day turned to night. Duan FeiZhou was still standing in the greenhouse, when he noticed the reflection of the fire on the glass.
Xenophon’s family’s mansion was burning. The flames reflected half the sky.
The door of the greenhouse was thrown open with a bang, and the young maid stumbled in, as she pulled Xenophon with her.
“Young master, hide here!” The maid shoved Xenophon behind a blooming flower bush.
Xenophon took hold of her wrist. “But what about you?”
There was no room for a second person behind the bush.
“Leave me alone, young master! Whatever happens, don’t make a sound and don’t come out. You hear?”
After that, the maid brought over a few more flowers, to cover Xenophon tightly, then she rushed out of the greenhouse with her skirt in hand and ran in the opposite direction. A group of people wearing red clothes and masks, similar to the KKK, surrounded her with torches.
“Tell us, where’s the boy?” The red-clad man in the lead spoke with a hiss.
The maid shook her head in panic. “I don’t know! Please spare me, I’m just a servant!”
“Kill her,” the red leader ordered coldly.
One of his men threw a flying knife at the maid, and the blade went into her chest. She looked down at the hilt of the knife stuck in her chest. Her legs went weak, and she fell to the ground.
The leader in red looked around. “Where’s the boy?”
“Boss, there seems to be something in the greenhouse.”
The man in red stepped over the body of the maid, and walked into the greenhouse with big strides.
Duan FeiZhou looked at Xenophon, who was hiding behind a bush, hunched over his knees, as he covered his mouth and tried not to make a sound. His yellow eyes were filled with tears. Tears of fear and tears of anger. He couldn’t see outside the greenhouse, but he must have heard the man in red and the maid talking. The girl who was his childhood friend died under the knife of the men in red, as humble as a trampled mole cricket.
The people in red entered the greenhouse in single file. It wasn’t a big place, and you could see the end at a glance.
“Could I have seen it wrong?” The red-clothed man who said there was something in the greenhouse grunted.
The leader in red held a torch, and walked through the flowers that were competing for attention.
The red leader walked past him.
Xenophon closed his eyes, and sighed in relief.
Suddenly, the red leader turned back. He pushed aside the flowers to reveal Xenophon hiding behind them. “Found you, boy. Hand over the key to your research room–“
Before he could finish his sentence, there was a loud boom overhead.
A man clad in a black coat fell from the sky, smashed through the greenhouse roof, and sent thousands of pieces of broken glass falling like a rainstorm. The man landed in front of the chief. He was bathed in a rainstorm of glass, but his face did not change.
The chief in red stared at him with round eyes. “You are…Nightmen!”
The man opened his arms, and a bright blade popped out of each of his two mechanical prosthetic limbs.
–It was Z.
He grinned openly, and looked cheerful, as if he was playing a game of his own. He rushed toward the leader of the red men, his blades reflecting the golden-red fire. The rest of the red men fled the greenhouse in a panic and a scramble. However, as soon as they were outside, they ran head-on into a large group of Nightmen dressed in black.
Duan FeiZhou recognized the leaders as Mr. Thales and Mrs. Q, who were more than ten years younger.
What followed was a no-holds-barred massacre.
The red men were defenseless against the Nightmen, and all but a few of the smart ones who surrendered at the beginning of the fight were killed without exception.
In the greenhouse, Z stepped over the body of the leader of the red men, and shook the blood off his blade. His handsome face was stained with blood, as if he had just bathed in it.
Xenophon stared at him in awe, as if he had seen a god who had come down to save him – or a devil who had crawled out of hell.
Mr. Thales ran to the bush where Xenophon was hiding, and held out his hand to him.
“Come out, boy,” he said kindly, although the kind tone was creepy because he was also covered in blood. “The people who killed your family have been brought to justice. You’re safe.”
Xenophon was frozen for a while before he managed to make a sound, “You’re Nightmen?”
“That’s right. We’re part of Scotland Yard’s Abnormal Case Investigation Unit section.”
Mr. Thales pulled the young man to his feet and patted the leaves and dust off him. “You’re this family’s son, right? Alas, how terrible the feud between the occult practitioners. For a few books and treasures, even children aren’t spared. Luckily we got here in time, didn’t we?”
He turned to Z, seeking the boss’s opinion.
Z lifted his bloodshot eyes. “Is this boy an occult practitioner too?”
“No, I’m not. I’ve never learned. I don’t want to learn.” Xenophon whispered, as a tear slid down his cheek. “I should have done everything I could to learn, so that mom and dad wouldn’t… Isabelle wouldn’t have…”
“Saying such things in front of the Nightmen…aren’t you afraid of being put in the dungeon, and not seeing the light of day for the rest of your life?”
Xenophon squeezed out a bleak smile. “That’s better than dying.”
Mr. Thales sighed, and put his arm around his thin shoulders. “So do you want to learn from now on?”
Duan FeiZhou looked at them with fascination. So this was the beginning and end of Xenophon joining the Nightmen. The young man who didn’t want to learn the secret arts, because of the loss of his family, eventually took the path of the occult practitioners.
A cold voice rang out behind him, “Have you seen enough?”
Duan FeiZhou turned his head, and another Xenophon was standing behind him.
“I didn’t mean to spy on you either,” Duan FeiZhou said. “It was you who made the first move. I just turned the tables on you.”
“So it’s all my fault that I’m not as good as others?” Xenophon laughed in anger.
The greenhouse scene disappeared, and Duan FeiZhou and Xenophon appeared in an infinite darkness.
“What is this memory?” Duan FeiZhou looked left and right.
“…It’s not my memory.” Xenophon’s voice had a hint of tension in it. “It’s not good, you should leave quickly!”
“Someone else is coming! The mental collision of two people is bad enough. If another one comes…”
The next words were inaudible to Duan FeiZhou.
Xenophon disappeared from his sight. Something came over his head like an overwhelming tide at the onset of a storm.
Z woke up with a start. He had always been a light sleeper, and would wake up at the slightest breeze. This was a habit he’d unconsciously formed after years of being a Nightmen. Without this vigilance, he would probably have had his throat cut in his sleep.
What woke him up this night wasn’t noise, but an occult technique. Even if he was not an occult practitioner, he could feel the majestic mystic energy stirring around him. This kind of energy often meant that someone was casting a powerful occult spell. Just a small amount of outgoing energy was enough to create a storm.
Who was casting a spell? What kind of occult technique?
He touched the gauze covering his eyes. He rarely hated the fact that he couldn’t see, and tonight was one of those few exceptions.
“Xenophon?” he called out.
His companion in the room with him didn’t answer.
Z got out of bed and felt his way to Xenophon’s bedside.
His companion’s eyes were closed, his body was bowed, his hands unconsciously clenched the sheets and his face was sweating profusely. It was as if he had dreamed of some horrible and terrible sight.
Still no response.
Someone was using an occult technique to attack Xenophon – that was Z’s first thought. He knew of many mental attack techniques, some of which could be used to infiltrate a dream while someone was sleeping to take the opportunity to steal important information, or to plant a horrific vision that would destroy the target’s mind.
However most occult practitioners subconsciously protect their minds, and the more powerful the occult practitioner, the stronger the protective barrier.
He could count on one hand the number of people in the world who could destroy Xenophon’s mental barrier, and perform mental attacks on him. If Xenophon was attacked, what about the other?
Z rushed to the next room.
The door was locked, but he didn’t have time to ask the innkeeper for the key. He slashed his blade through the lock and pushed the door open.
The young man in the room didn’t even wake up after all the noise. He was really attacked in the dream world, just like Xenophon. But why was it them and not himself? Who would be so thoughtless as to pick on two Nightmen who were occult practitioners?
The mysterious energy stirring around him became more and more powerful, as an invisible storm swept through the entire space. Energy, sometimes burning hot, sometimes cold and piercing swept over his skin. It was as if a sharp knife stabbed him.
The young man lying on the bed let out a groan of pain.
Z couldn’t hold back, and immediately picked up the young man’s body.
“Wake up.” He called in a low voice.
Then, he fell down.
Thanks for the chapter <3
I think DFZ should tell Xenophon.
What or who, has entered DFZ’s dream? Is it Z, or has Z been dragged in too, hence collapsing?
Thanks for leaving us dangling over the edge of a precipice! 😯😁
Thanks for translating and editing.
Excited for the next chapter! Thanks for the translation!
Secrets are coming out. Poor little Xenophon
Thank you for the chapter!
DFZ is stronger than Xenophon!
Xenophon has a sad backstory – no more family due to greedy occultists. 😢
Thank you for the chapter!