Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
If Duan FeiZhou had to choose the most embarrassing moment of his life, the current scene would probably be in the top three. After the audience with Queen Victoria, Carter wanted to escort Duan FeiZhou back to Scotland Yard, where he was still nominally a prisoner. So, Duan FeiZhou, Carter and Z all sat in the same carriage. Three people looked at each other, three uncomfortable expressions.
No one spoke. They could hear the wheels passing over the cobbled road, the horse snorting and the driver yelling. Duan FeiZhou was back on pins and needles, his voice stuck in his throat.
Carter also sensed the awkward atmosphere permeated between them. However, that person had an overwhelming advantage, that was, thick skin. As long as he didn’t feel embarrassed, then any embarrassment was for others.
“I will prepare adequate equipment for the two of you for the Arctic journey, compared to the Wellington crew configuration. If the two of you need anything else, you can also mention it to me.” There was a note of impatience in his tone, as if he was condescending to do this personally.
“I want my talisman paper.” Duan FeiZhou said.
“No.” Z decisively refused.
“What kind of talisman paper?” Carter asked.
Duan FeiZhou looked at Z. When he was put in the dungeon, Z had confiscated the spell paper.
Z stared out the window, and replied indifferently, “Occult practitioners’ stuff.”
“I thought it was some kind of treasure. Just give it back to him.”
“No.” Even in the face of His Excellency, the Secretary, Z still insisted on his own way. How could he possibly return the key to the trading house to its master?
“Then forget it.” He had to give up the idea of returning to the trading house, “I want three brass rings.”
When he fought with Madame Boyle, he suffered a big loss because of the lack of energy. It would never hurt to have more brass.
Carter’s expression had ‘so much trouble’ written there. “Got it. Is there anything else?”
Duan FeiZhou shook his head. He had never been to the North Pole and knew nothing about what a trip to the North Pole entailed. However, since Carter said he would prepare their equipment similar to the crew’s, he probably didn’t need to worry about it.
“There’s nothing I need,” Z said. “Even if I did, I will prepare it myself.”
“You don’t seem to trust me, Superintendent Xenia,” Carter said in a slick voice.
“I’m not holding it against you, Sir Carter.” Z curled his lips. “I don’t trust any of you.”
Carter’s face was blue and white in a fierce way.
The carriage returned to Scotland Yard. Carter glared at them both as they got out, then smirked. “I hope you’ll keep an eye on your men this time, Superintendent.”
He shut the door with a bang. The carriage was gone.
Duan FeiZhou looked at Z. He had missed Z every day while he was in the dungeon, and his heart ached. He thought he would go crazy with happiness when he was reunited with Z. When he did meet Z, he was happy, but when he did meet with Z, he also wasn’t happy at all. Even just looking at Z became an extremely difficult thing to do.
“Why did you report that I was defecting?” he asked. “Why not tell the truth?”
Z didn’t answer, just pushed him. “Go.”
What did he expect? He had seen this day coming. It was good that Z was even willing to talk to him, and at least didn’t treat him as if he were air. He walked silently into the Scotland Yard building, and followed the familiar path to the Abnormal Case Investigation Unit section office. To his surprise, not only were Miss Acheson, Mrs. Q, Mr. R and Xenophon there, but Yeats was also there, sitting across from Miss Acheson.
“Why are you here?” Duan FeiZhou’s eyes almost fell out of his head.
Yeats smiled at him. “Simply put, I was recruited. Now I am a member of the Nightmen, code name Y.”
Duan FeiZhou, “?”
Palmer had been thinking about it for so long but no one had recruited him, but Yeats had done it easily. Life was so uneven. Still, why was Yeats able to be recruited, and he had to go to jail? Was it because Yeats was a social celebrity? Or was it that given two of the same occult practitioners, the Master of the Trading House had to be more guilty?
Z pushed him into the office, and closed the door behind him.
“Where’s Madame Boyle?” Duan FeiZhou asked. “She wasn’t recruited too, was she?”
Mr. R laughed, “How is that possible? We would rather tear down the whole of Scotland Yard than recruit that woman!”
Yeats said politely, “His Excellency, Secretary Carter, took her away the other day under the name of arraignment.”
“What does he want?” He took Madame Boyle away again, while also recommending Duan FeiZhou and Z to go to the North Pole.
Mrs. Q said, “That’s what we’re trying to figure out.”
Z sat down at his desk, pulled out his cigarette case and took out a cigarette.
“He wants us to take the Wellington on a mission to the North Pole.” He took the cigarette in his mouth and began to swallow the smoke.
Mr. R. Stared at him in shock. “Boss, didn’t we say the office was non-smoking?”
“The rules have changed.” Z said lightly.
When Z was good to him, he would quit smoking for him. But now…
“You can’t tell us what the mission is about?” Xenophon asked with a smile.
“I have the duty for confidentiality.” Z shrugged.
Yeats asked, “Have you figured out Carter’s involvement with the Perlilla Manor incident yet?”
“Not yet.” He was answered by Miss Acheson. “However, we recently found out that the Council for Scientific Progress is in contact with Lord Perlilla, and seems to want to buy his mine.”
“They want to control the Ether crystal mine.” Mrs. Q said. “Not just for wealth, but for power as well. The nation’s air force relies on Ether crystals for fuel, so whoever controls the Ether crystals controls the military, and thus the entire country’s center.”
The crowd agreed not to blush.
Z nodded. “I’m afraid the ambition of the Committee for Scientific Progress is even bigger than we imagined. While I’m away, you should be careful of Carter. Also continue to pursue the Council for Scientific Progress.”
“You don’t need to tell me that.” Xenophon grinned playfully. He had told Duan FeiZhou that although the Nightmen were divided into two camps, they were all on the same page. It seemed he was right.
Z gave him instructions on what to do while he was out. Then he put out his cigarette, got up, and said, “I’ll take him back to the dungeon.”
This “he” was obviously Duan FeiZhou. Everyone looked at Duan FeiZhou with sympathy as Z grabbed him by the collar, carried him out the door and into the dark corridor that led underground.
In the dungeon, Duan FeiZhou stumbled and fell into the cell.
Z stood in the cell doorway, as his jade-like eyes shot out a cold glow.
“The Wellington sails in three days.” He said in a tone so calm that it contained no emotion.
He was about to close the door and leave, when Duan FeiZhou rushed up and pressed against it. Duan FeiZhou said in a voice that only the two of them could hear, “Why didn’t you tell Carter I was the Master of the Trading House?”
Z averted his eyes. “The less Carter knows, the better. I’m not covering for you, I just plain hate that guy.”
Duan FeiZhou wanted to say more to Z, but Z coldly pushed him into the cell and locked the door. Duan FeiZhou tried to use his super hearing to listen to what was going on up there, but the spell in the cell prevented him from using his powers.
Next door, Palmer giggled and gloated, “Oh, I thought you were recruited, but I didn’t expect to be beaten back again!”
“I’m going out in three days.” Duan FeiZhou disliked this man.
“Hmph, what’s the big deal! Sooner or later, I, Palmer, will join the Nightmen!” He began to boast, and recount his glorious past as an occult practitioner.
Duan FeiZhou used his voice as background music as he slid to the floor with his back against the corner of his cell. Where should he go from there? Maybe after his trip to the North Pole, he’d be locked back up in this place where he couldn’t see the light of day. Provided he made it back from the North Pole alive.
Carter, the Council for the Advancement of Science, the behemoth of the Arctic, the Ether crystal mine of the Perlilla estate…They seem to be connected by a thread of some sort.
Duan FeiZhou wiped the dust off the floor with his fingers and drew geometric shapes. He still held out a slim hope that if he drew the special spell for the Master of the Trading House, maybe he could escape from inside. Unfortunately, the second spell wouldn’t work, just like the last time he demonstrated in the office.
He sighed and flicked the dust off his fingers. He still knew too little about the mechanics of the Secret Trading House, which Joseph Chester had basically handed over to him without telling him anything. He still didn’t even understand how he brought Z into the trading house. It was reasonable to say that the master’s special spell was only available to him, so even if he pulled others with him, it was impossible for others to enter the trading house that way.
However Z came in with him.
Joseph Chester couldn’t have left such a loophole, could he? If the Master of the Trading House could take anyone in and out of the trading house, then why should there be customer access and owner access? If the Master of the Trading House was threatened, and had to bring others into the trading house, then what could be done?
As he looked at the geometric figures in the dust, a thought flashed through Duan FeiZhou’s mind.
According to his knowledge of secret geometry, he thought he understood why he could bring Z into the trading house. The basis of the magic circle had an identification function that would block anyone other than the Master of the Trading House, so only he could enter that secret space through the spell.
However, Duan FeiZhou could bring all kinds of occult items to and from the trading house. Phantom leaves were plants, and they could also be brought inside the trading house.
Then there was Z…His body had been modified so much that the spell no longer recognized him as a complete human being. In the eyes of the array, he was just an item carried in by the Master of the Trading House.
The secret contract might not be effective for him either.
Duan FeiZhou looked at the ceiling, as his shoulders tightened. Mr. Thales told him not to sympathize with Z, but how could he not? However, he should probably sympathize with himself first.
Three days later, the day the Wellington set sail.
Xenophon released Duan FeiZhou from the dungeon, and escorted him straight to the carriage.
Duan FeiZhou didn’t know the name of the place. The ships that landed and took off from there were large military airships; several times larger than the civilian airships at Heathrow, and all of them seemed like steel monsters fighting for supremacy in the sky.
The Wellington was the most conspicuous of them all. Its shell was polished like gold, and its shape was different from other airships of the same class. It seemed more modern, and everything showed its unique status.
If the Arctic trip was a safe one, the Wellington would be promoted to the first echelon of the air force. The Wellington was surrounded by people, both men and women not dressed as soldiers. When Duan FeiZhou got closer, he found out that they were the families of the crew members, and had come to see their loved ones off.
The soldiers lined up, and boarded the gangway in turn. The family members stood outside the safety line and waved handkerchiefs at them.
On the other side of the gangway stood three familiar figures. One was Z, one was Yeats, and the other turned out to be Al.
At his feet lay a suitcase, the one Duan FeiZhou used to travel with.
“Master!” As soon as Al saw Duan FeiZhou, he jumped on him with tears in his eyes and hugged him tightly. “Are you okay? The police didn’t mistreat you, right? The food at Scotland Yard must be terrible. You’ve lost so much weight!”
Duan FeiZhou rubbed the teenager’s head. “What are you doing here?”
Al glanced at Z timidly. The latter was staring at the sky, a cigarette in his mouth. The pungent smell of smoke permeated the surroundings. “The police officer ordered me to pack a suitcase for you.”
“They didn’t give you a hard time, did they?”
“No. After all, I’m just a servant, and I haven’t studied occult philosophy.” Al scowled at Duan FeiZhou. The boy was smart enough to know how to keep himself in the clear. He was also a much better actor than his master. Duan FeiZhou would have to learn more from him in this regard.
In the teenager’s world view, the North Pole was almost equated with the Land of the Dead. “Do you really want to go to the North Pole?”
“It’s just a trip.” Duan FeiZhou smiled. “Study hard while I’m gone, and listen to your mother. Go see Lynn’s family for me sometime.” He turned to Yeats and shook hands with the poet. “Please take care of Al for me.”
Yeats nodded. “I’d do it without you asking. The polar regions are dangerous, so please be careful along the way. I’m still waiting for you to come back for my poetry recital.”
Duan FeiZhou couldn’t help but smile.
Z crushed out his cigarette, picked up his own suitcase and walked past Duan FeiZhou without looking at him. “Let’s go.”
Duan FeiZhou picked up his suitcase, waved at Al and Yeats and followed Z.
The two of them were nominally academics from the Royal Academy, and to accompany the army to the Arctic to study the ecology. Although the two of them did not look like intellectuals in any way, the soldiers never questioned the orders of their superiors.
When the two men boarded the gangway, there was a senior officer standing in front of the hatch with his hands behind his back. He was in his early thirties, with a square face, tanned skin, a straight back, and a full military bearing.
“I’m the captain of the Wellington, Colonel Freeman,” he said with the air of a man accustomed to giving orders, although not as high and mighty as Carter. He had a military simplicity. “Are you Dr. Xenia and Dr. Chester?”
Good grief, they directly give them doctoral titles?
Z, even if at his age, he said he was a doctor it was still reasonable. However, Duan FeiZhou was so young it was too fake to claim he was a doctor, right? On the other hand Duan FeiZhou was a doctor, so it wasn’t false to call him a doctor.
Z and Colonel Freeman shook hands, and exchanged pleasantries.
“The two of you have your cabins ready, I’ll take you to them now.” Colonel Freeman said, with a complicated expression.
“What’s wrong?” Z keenly sensed that something was off with him.
“The person that this voyage is escorting…” The corners of the Colonel’s mouth twitched. “There’s a weirdo who is living next door to you gentlemen. You fellows…Take care of yourselves.”
He should be talking about the occult practitioner who was responsible for taming the Arctic giant beast, right? There were many strange people among occult practitioners. No wonder the attitude of the Colonel was odd. The structure of the warship was similar to that of a civilian ship, but without the luxury of a civilian ship. It was all about practicality.
The Colonel led them to the upper deck, where the guest cabins as well as the senior officers’ cabins were located.
“The two of you have cabins 3019 and 3020.” The Colonel handed them the keys.
At that moment, a squirrel slipped under Duan FeiZhou’s feet, and quickly disappeared around the corner of the corridor.
“…Why is there a squirrel here?” Duan FeiZhou’s pupils widened. He had only heard that there were rats on sea ships. Was it squirrels on the air travel ships?
The door of cabin 3021 opened. A white hand reached out and hooked its fingers.
The little squirrel poked its head out from around the corner. Its black snout sniffed the air hard, and its ears twitched. Then it darted toward the hand, and disappeared through the door with a flick of its big furry tail.
…Oh. So, that cabin had a Disney princess on the run living there?