Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Duan FeiZhou gave the special medicine to the ship’s doctor. He claimed that it was his own concoction that could relieve Etheric disease. The doctor had an extreme distrust of this trivial powder, and refused to use it on his patients. Duan FeiZhou had to go back to Colonel Freeman, who was much more accommodating than the doctor and agreed to let the patient take the powder without saying a word.
By nightfall, Sergeant Bulwer woke up for a short while and spoke a few words. The red streaks on his body ceased to deepen. Although the sergeant soon passed out again, it was at least a sign that his condition was improving.
Colonel Freeman came to visit the patient once, too. When he saw that the sergeant’s condition had improved, he couldn’t stop praising Duan FeiZhou’s medicine.
Simon’s three animal friends were found at dinner time. They were frightened by the noise of the battle, and hid in the storage room where the ingredients were stored. They somehow managed to open a few cans and also chewed through the bag containing the flour.
Simon cried tears of joy as he hugged his buddies. Colonel Freeman didn’t look too good. If it weren’t for the fact that the teenager could tame Leviathan, he might have put the teenager’s animal friends in a cage. He ordered Simon to keep his animal friends in his cabin. Simon himself was no longer allowed to explore the ship, but had to stay in a few common areas.
Duan FeiZhou remembered about the spies and used his powers to listen to the sounds around him whenever he was alone. However, he couldn’t hear anything special. If the spies were using transmitters to send messages, he would have heard the sound of telegraphs. Duan FeiZhou also taught himself Morse code, and found that most of the messages sent out were to the military. Nothing special.
Over the next few days, the Wellington was attacked several times by air pirates. So, instead of heading straight for the North Pole, the Wellington first pretended to sail to Amsterdam, then halfway turned to Stockholm, and then turned back toward Edinburgh. After circling the North Sea for several days, they made their way north.
According to the colonel, this was to stagger and lose trackers, but his plan obviously failed.
Each time, the air pirates only sent out a few small boats, caused some disturbance and then retreated in full. The Colonel’s men even suggested to him that the air pirates should be wiped out in one go, but the Colonel overruled them. Their mission was to escort Simon to the North Pole, so the air piracy had to be put on hold.
However, this also proved Z’s words that there was indeed a spy lurking on the Wellington, and that his means of transmitting messages wasn’t by telegraph, but through occult techniques. Duan FeiZhou met with Z twice a day, morning and evening, to exchange the information they had pried out.
Z’s visits weren’t very fruitful. He believed that spies were most likely to penetrate the top, because it was difficult for an ordinary soldier to get any decent information. He got in touch with Colonel Freeman, as well as the ship’s senior crew, but came up empty-handed. He wondered for a while if the Queen was deliberately making things difficult for him.
Every time he met up with Z, Duan FeiZhou had a wonderful feeling. He was Z’s prisoner. He and Z belonged to two opposing camps. However, in the confined environment of the ship, they were bound together by common interests (or common pressures), and secretly met like two underground parties.
He and Z never discussed “occult practitioners and the Nightmen’s relationship” or other such topics, but only talked about who was suspicious, who wasn’t suspicious, how the ship’s food was, what trouble Simon got into today…
Not like a prisoner and his guard.
Such days would come to an end after they tamed the Leviathan and returned to London. Duan FeiZhou suddenly wished the speed of the airship wasn’t so fast.
– I’m afraid not everyone wants to get to the end as quickly as you do.- Xenophon had once said.
Duan FeiZhou didn’t understand what he meant until now. That old raven, though frivolous and cunning, was sometimes a wise man. After all he was a student of the old Greek man.
On the fourth day and night after boarding, the Wellington was now near the Arctic Ocean. It was summer in the northern hemisphere, and the higher the latitude, the longer the daylight hours. The crew’s biological clocks were somewhat disturbed. Except for the men on duty, most of them grabbed a few hours of sleep at night.
Duan FeiZhou was bitten out of sleep. He opened his eyes and felt his toe was extremely painful. When he sat up, he found a small squirrel was gnawing hard on his toe. No second squirrel could be found on the whole airship. It must be Simon’s animal friend.
Duan FeiZhou grabbed the back of the squirrel’s neck by the skin and lifted the little thing to his eyes. “Did your master forget to feed you or something?!”
Were squirrels eating people these days? Or did this thing just look like a squirrel on the outside and was actually some kind of monster? The squirrel’s dark little eyes glistened with tears, and its furry little face squeezed out a resigned sorrowful expression.
“Please, don’t sing,” Duan FeiZhou said from the bottom of his heart. He didn’t know if Simon’s animal friend could sing, but he sincerely hoped this kind of drama wouldn’t happen in front of him.
The squirrel squeaked twice, and tried to put its head down and bite his finger again. He had to let go of the squirrel. The little thing landed on his knee, its big fluffy tail stood up high like a bottle brush. Although he did not know whether the squirrel could understand him, Duan FeiZhou asked tentatively, “Did your master send you here?”
He didn’t know how this little thing slipped into his room. He looked up and found a vent in one corner of the ceiling. Although the entrance was blocked by a grille, it was no problem for a squirrel to get through the gap. The squirrel jumped off the bed, leapt to the door, and jumped up to reach the door handle. Unfortunately, Duan FeiZhou locked the door, so it could only hold the handle with all four limbs, and hang there pathetically.
The squirrel seemed to want to lead him somewhere, so Duan FeiZhou got up, put on his coat and opened the door. The squirrel jumped, as its furry tail burst out, and ran next door to Simon’s room, where it scratched and scratched at the door. Duan FeiZhou was about to follow when the door to the next room opened and Z also came out wearing only a coat.
He clutched a parrot in each hand, so only a bird’s head showed, the two blush-colored heads always gave the illusion that the birds were shy.
“You also…” Duan FeiZhou wanted to say something but stopped.
“It seems that something has happened to our little friend.” Z’s eyes darkened.
Duan FeiZhou knocked on Simon’s cabin door. There was no response. He drew energy from his ring and just burned out the lock cylinder. The door opened without problem.
What met his eyes was blood red.
The ceiling, the walls, the bed sheets, the floor…Splashes of blood had turned the small room into a red hell.
There was a corpse lying on the floor.
Duan FeiZhou thought it was Simon, and his heart stopped beating for a moment. Simon was the heart of the mission, and if he was dead then…
It was a tall, adult man, not an adolescent.
The man was wearing a military uniform, and judging from his shoulder patch, his rank was lieutenant. Duan FeiZhou shoved aside the strong smell of blood, and knelt down in front of him to examine the wound carefully. A fatal cut had opened the artery. The splattered blood on the ceiling and wall probably belonged to him.
There was a body here, but no living person.
Simon was missing.
The squirrel used two small paws to pull Duan FeiZhou’s pants leg, jumped toward the door and looked back at him. The meaning was obvious: follow me.
“Follow it.” Duan FeiZhou said.
Z opened his hand and the parrot fluttered its wings and landed on his left shoulder. He frowned and slapped a palm at the parrot. The parrot flew up and landed, again, on his right shoulder.
Z was resigned to his fate, and had to be the bird’s mount.
The two men followed the squirrel through the dark corridor. As they walked, Duan FeiZhou unleashed his psychic powers to detect any movement ahead. He heard the sound of conversation from a place not far away.
“Go up,” A man said coldly.
“Why are you going to kill me? Why?” Duan FeiZhou recognized that as Simon.
“Someone doesn’t want you to live,” The man said.
Simon cried louder, “But I’ve never offended anyone!”
“Someone doesn’t want you to go to the North Pole.”
The hair on the squirrel’s back bristled, and it ran away like an exploding chestnut. Duan FeiZhou cursed, and had to follow the squirrel.
They turned a corner, and ahead of them was the hangar at the rear of the airship. There were five or six small steam boats parked here, each of which could only take three or four people. When an airship had to send a crew aboard another airship, it would take one of these small skimmers. The boats could also be used to escape if the ship sank.
Simon dropped his head. A soldier tugged on his arm and tried to drag him into the dinghy.
Duan FeiZhou recognized the soldier’s face. It was Sergeant Bulwer.
Shouldn’t he be lying in the infirmary? Why was he here? And what about the dead lieutenant in Simon’s room?
As soon as he saw Duan FeiZhou and Z, Simon looked happy. “Great, it’s you guys! Help me, someone is trying to kill me!”
Without thinking, Duan FeiZhou extracted the energy from his ring and turned it into a shockwave. Sergeant Bulwer was unable to react, and his whole body was hit by the shockwave. He flew out and hit a skimmer boat heavily.
Z rushed forward with a single step, and with one slash, one of Sergeant Bulwer’s arms flew off. It was as if the sergeant couldn’t feel the pain. Not only did he not scream, and even the expression on his face didn’t change. He pulled out the gun at his waist, aimed at Z’s head and pulled the trigger.
With a dong, Z bounced the bullet off the blade of his knife. The squirrel and the parrot screamed at the same time, as if they were crying out from the heart instead of the teenager.
“No!” Simon rushed up to hold Z’s wrist and dragged him backwards. “You’ve got it all wrong! This sergeant is here to save me!”
Z froze. He looked at the teenager incredulously, and repeated mechanically. “He came to save you?”
“If it weren’t for him, I’d be dead!” Simon’s eyes were tearful.
Z was at a loss for words and withdrew his sword. Sergeant Bulwar dropped his remaining arm and fell to the ground like a puppet with a broken string. Blood gushed out from the wound of his severed arm like a spring.
Duan FeiZhou rushed up, pushed Z and Simon aside, and knelt beside Sergeant Bulwer.
“His arm!” He shouted.
Z picked up the sergeant’s severed arm, and handed it to Duan FeiZhou, who looked a little worse for wear.
Duan FeiZhou had never tried to put a cut off arm on a person before. In fact he’d only used the occult technique of healing wounds a few times. The arm had been severed for a very short time, so even without occult techniques, if it was properly stitched, it was still salvageable. He encouraged himself in this way.
Duan FeiZhou drew energy from the ring and injected it into Sergeant Bulwer’s body. Soon, the wounds on the severed arm began to heal at a speed visible to the naked eye. The re-grown flesh and blood joined together flawlessly.
A flurry of footsteps rang out behind them.
The gunfire and animal screams had attracted soldiers on night patrol. They burst into the hangar with guns in hand. All they saw was blood all over the floor; Sergeant Bulwer lying in the middle of a pool of blood; and the three strange passengers gathered around him.
So their first thought was that three strange outsiders had teamed up to murder the sergeant. They couldn’t be blamed for being too arbitrary. If Duan FeiZhou had met such a scene, his first reaction would have been similar to theirs.
So they were escorted by soldiers to Colonel Freeman’s office.
The Colonel was also called out by his men in the middle of the night. He was sitting at his desk with only a uniform jacket over his pajamas and dark circles around his eyes, a symbol of his sleep deprivation. He probably had a rude wake-up call, so his tone became impatient, “What’s going on?”
He glared at Duan FeiZhou and Z, while the latter two glared at Simon.
The teenager shrunk his neck back, while he held the squirrel and parrots in his arms, and looked at them pitifully. He sniffled, “Actually, I’m not really sure…”
“Then let’s start at the beginning.” Colonel Freeman ordered.
Simon organized his thoughts, and said slowly, “I was sleeping well during the night when someone knocked at the door…”
Simon had snuggled up to his fox and purred. The squirrel was nestled on his pillow, as it slept on all fours. The two parrots stood on the head of the bed as they hid their heads in their wings. Under the bed, only he could hear the sound of even breathing, as well as an occasional hissing sound.
He was suddenly awakened by a knock on the door.
The teenager rubbed his eyes and sat up. He didn’t ask who was at the door, because there were only a few people who would visit him in the middle of the night, so it was either this person or that. This was also a military ship, a closed space, so there would be no night robbers to enter the house.
He boldly opened the door.
Outside the door stood a middle-aged officer, dressed in a meticulous military uniform, with a square face.
Simon had never seen this officer before.
“What can I do for you?” He asked politely.
The officer looked indifferent, like a statue, which made Simon feel a little uncomfortable.
“I picked up an animal outside, may I ask if it belongs to you?” His voice was hoarse and sounded like gravel rubbing together. Simon looked back in surprise at his animal friends. The fox, squirrel and two parrots were there, so who was it that the officer picked up?
“You seem to be mistaken, I…”
Before the words were out of his mouth, the officer grabbed him by the neck and pushed him inside. Simon’s eyes widened. The officer’s fingers tightened more and more. He tried in vain to break the officer’s hands, but the officer’s hands squeezed the last bit of air out of him like an iron vice.
When the teenager was about to lose consciousness, the fox suddenly rose up and bit the officer’s throat. The officer was so shocked that he hurriedly let go of his hand and used his arm to block the fox’s sharp teeth.
The fox grabbed his arm and its teeth pierced his uniform and skin, sinking into his flesh and blood. The officer swung his arm hard and threw the fox out. At the same time, the fox’s fangs tore off a piece of his flesh. Simon stumbled toward the door and opened the hatch with a shudder. The wounded fox wailed, went out through the door, and was gone in a flash.
The parrots and squirrel burrowed into the ceiling vents. They were too weak to be a match for humans and had to hide. He almost crawled to the hallway. He was going to ask for help next door. Wasn’t the man next door the one Mr. Carter had sent to protect him?
Simon was pinned to the ground, and could only stare at the ground directly in front of him.
A pair of army boots appeared in his field of vision. He couldn’t cry. One soldier was hard enough to deal with, but a second one? He hadn’t even reached the North Pole yet, and he was going to die before his great work was done?
However, the second soldier kicked the first officer away, pushed him into the room, then skillfully and smoothly pulled out his own dagger, and slashed his throat. Simon shuddered and backed up on his hands and knees toward the rear. The second officer, whose form was even more frightening than the first, looked like he was running a high fever. His face red and his skin covered with pale red lines, as if his veins were exposed.
After finishing off his opponent, the grotesque officer thrust his dagger back into his boot and picked up Simon as soon as he could. His voice was dull, like it came from some distant place, “Get out of here. Someone’s trying to kill you.”
“You…Who is it?” Simon asked timidly.
“Just an ambassador servant.” There was a hint of fervor in the soldier’s tone. “I have come by His command. He needs you to go to the North Pole and free the beast. You must not die here.”
“What Him? Who the hell are you talking about?” Simon had too many questions in his brain, but the soldier didn’t give him time to sniff them out. He dragged the teenager directly toward the hangar.
After listening to the teenager, Colonel Freeman had an incredulous look on his face. He stood up and paced back and forth in his office with his hands behind his back, as if he were a trapped lion.
“Knock, knock.” There was a summons at the office door.
“Come in!” the colonel roared.
His adjutant pushed his way in and gave a standard military salute.
“Sir, a body has been found in cabin 3021. It’s Lieutenant Horn,” he said.
The furrow between Colonel Freeman’s eyebrows could almost hold an Everest, “You go ahead and get out.”
The adjutant saluted and exited the office. The colonel took a cigarette from his desk drawer and took two sharp puffs, which calmed him down. “You know, Lieutenant Horn was one of my closest men. I’ve known him for over ten years, and have been his superior since he was a rookie.” His dark gaze flicked over Simon’s face. “But according to you fellows, Lieutenant Horn was going to kill this kid, and he was saved by Sargeant Bulwer. So Horn is a traitor?!”
He punched his desk in exasperation. “Damn! I’ve long suspected that there were spies mixed up on the Wellington. I’ve been attacked by air pirates two days out of three. I’ve been baffled by how they’ve always found me despite how many times I’ve changed my route. I \served on another airship, on the Indian route, and never encountered air piracy so often. I prayed that it was just a coincidence, but…” He looked up at the three men. “You’ve noticed that our coordinates have been compromised, haven’t you?”
Duan FeiZhou and Z nodded, while Simon shook his head in bewilderment.
The Colonel paced around the office again. The gorgeous carpet was almost bald from his military boots, “I never would have thought that Horn would be a spy…”
“It’s possible he was turned by a spy.” Z said. “I’m afraid the real spy hasn’t shown his true face yet.”
The Colonel stared at him, his cold eyes not unlike the snow and wind of the Arctic.
“I’ll do a thorough investigation. I will not allow myself to have a vermin on board. As for you, boy -” He pointed at Simon’s nose. “- I’ll put extra men on your back.”
“With all due respect, Colonel Freeman,” Z interjected. “Are you sure that none of the guards you might send have been paid by spies?”
Colonel Freeman gagged. He was unable to speak, as if something was lodged in his throat. He held that stunned look for a long time before slowly returning to a calm demeanor.
“You’re right. Even Lieutenant Horn, whom I trust very much, could be bought by a spy, and others are even more…”
“We will protect Simon.” Duan FeiZhou said.
“There are only two of you.”
Z said, “We will take care of Mr. Simon Marlowe’s security. You should leave your men to find the spies lurking on the ship.”
Colonel Freeman was tempted to contradict him, but he had to admit that Z had a point.
“…I know.” The Colonel reluctantly said, “Gentlemen, as the captain of a ship, I should take all the responsibility. But I have to rely on your strength, and that really doesn’t sit well with me.”
“We are all in the service of Her Majesty. There is no distinction between you and me.” Z said indifferently.
Colonel Freeman’s eyes darkened, “Yes, we are all working for Her Majesty…” He crushed out his cigarette. “I’ll have someone escort you back to…No, you’d better go back yourselves. I can’t trust anyone now. Later I’ll have someone collect the lieutenant’s body for an autopsy and check his personal belongings. Hopefully I’ll find some clues.”
Duan FeiZhou and Z accompanied Simon on his left and right, as they dragged him back to his cabin. Along the way they met a number of soldiers, not all of them patrolmen on night duty. The commotion on board had awakened most of the men, who either poked their heads out of their cabins to ask questions or gathered in groups in the corridor to hold whispered discussions. When the three men passed by, their expressions were as if they had seen the Grim Reaper walk in front of them.
The officers angrily told the off-duty men to go back to sleep with little success, as many of the officers themselves were poking around to find out what was going on.
Simon’s cabin, 3021, was no longer habitable. It was the scene of a killing, and there was blood everywhere. Lieutenant Horn’s body had been carried away.
“You can sleep in my cabin tonight.” Duan FeiZhou said wearily.
Until Simon tamed the giant beast, he had to keep a good eye on the teenager. He thought it was just a trip to the North Pole and back with the airship, but now he knew that the journey was full of hidden crises. No wonder the occult practitioners and Nightmen had been used to protect Simon.
Secretary Carter…Did he really did not send them to die?
Simon could only ask, “Why would someone want to kill me? Have I offended someone? Or is there something to be gained by killing me?”
“Sometimes you don’t kill to get benefits for yourself, but to keep others from getting benefits,” Duan FeiZhou said helplessly.
The teenager looked at him in puzzlement.
“Think about it. The Leviathan is so powerful that after you tame it, people will be afraid of your power. There are certainly people in the world who don’t want that to happen.”
“But I don’t want to tame Leviathan, I just want to be friends with it…” The teenager whispered. “And I’m not going to use its power for anything.”
“But others don’t think so,” Duan FeiZhou said. “The sages of the East have a saying, ‘A man is not guilty of anything, but he is guilty of something’. The best reason to have a thing that makes everyone else’s eyes water, is that others are endangered by it.”
Simon still looked bewildered. For a child raised in a poorhouse, these things were too complicated.
“…Forget it, you will understand in the future.” Duan FeiZhou patted the teenager’s shoulder, “You go to bed.”
He let the teenager sleep in his own bed, while he planned to hit the floor all night. He would ask Colonel Freeman to find another suitable cabin to assign to Simon tomorrow. Duan FeiZhou had just laid down for a short time when there was a knock on the door.
The visitor wasn’t a soldier, but a doctor in a white coat.
“Can you go see the Sergeant?” The doctor’s eyes were hurried and his demeanor was uneasy. “I remember you instructed me to come and inform you once Sergeant Balwer started talking nonsense.”
He had changed his cold and arrogant attitude, and his tone toward Duan FeiZhou became much more respectful. Duan FeiZhou did not feel comfortable leaving Simon alone, since he didn’t know what prompted him to change his attitude, so he asked Z to guard the door of the room. Z agreed, although his face was full of reluctance.