Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
“Hey, wake up! What’s wrong with you!”
Xenophon’s call startled Duan FeiZhou out of the illusion. He blinked and realized he was still standing on the second floor of the townhouse.
What was that just now? A memory of the original body? It wasn’t the first time he had seen a similar memory. He had also briefly glimpsed a fragment of this memory back at Perlilla Manor.
But this time he saw more.
Three years ago there had been a fire at the Chester Clinic where Leopold Chester’s father had died and he had been seriously injured, and then…He was replaced by Duan FeiZhou, a man from another world.
When Duan FeiZhou woke up, the fire had already passed. He had no recollection of what had happened at that time. While he obviously possessed many common sense memories about the era, he lost the original body’s memories about himself. He never suspected the truth about the fire. Everyone told him that the blaze was due to careless use of fire, and that the firemen had found the starting point. What reason did he have to disbelieve it?
However, the vision he had just seen clearly told him that Leopold Chester might have been one of the victims of the Committee for the Advancement of Science!
“Are you all right?” Xenophon looked at him suspiciously.
Duan FeiZhou held onto the door frame. He felt like he couldn’t breathe.
“I think I’m going to make a trip to Aberdeen,” he said as he braced himself.
Xenophon raised his eyebrows. He looked a little confused.
“You saw something, didn’t you?” he asked. “So you have to go to Aberdeen to confirm this?”
Duan FeiZhou nodded. “My family died in a fire. I suspect it wasn’t just a fire.”
“You mean…” Xenophon stopped talking.
The two men looked at each other. Without any words, Xenophon understood what he meant. The two of them were worlds apart, but in some ways so similar.
“When do you plan to leave?”
–No, right now.
A whisper that sounded like nothing else rang in Duan FeiZhou’s ears.
“What did you say?” He looked at Xenophon.
“I didn’t say anything.” Xenophon didn’t understand his meaning.
–Do not delay, depart at once. The voice said again.
It was like a hallucination, like a warning from some distant time.
He had heard that voice before. In that wonderful dream he had about the crossroads. He hadn’t seen Hecate since that dream. Sometimes he wondered if the Forerunner really existed in the world. He might have just had a dream of light, but now he heard Hecate’s voice.
The goddess of the crossroads had said they had met once before, and that Duan FeiZhou had no recollection of it. She also promised that he would one day remember his past. Maybe his lost past also had something to do with the fire at the Chester Clinic in Aberdeen?
He calmed down, and said to Xenophon, “No, I think it’s best to leave now. You go back to Scotland Yard, and report everything we found out to Z.”
Xenophon looked at him in surprise.
Duan FeiZhou thought he would say something to stop it. After all, it wasn’t the first time Xenophon had given him a hard time. However, the yellow-eyed Nightman just shrugged his shoulders, as his usual cynical demeanor returned to him.
“Fine, then. Anyway, if he’s going to be angry, he’ll be angry at you, not me.”
Duan FeiZhou smiled bitterly. After agreeing on the details with Xenophon, the two men immediately split up, and Duan FeiZhou headed straight to King’s Cross Station without even bringing his luggage. He decided to go to Aberdeen that day, confirm the status of the Chester Clinic, and return immediately. Since he wasn’t staying in Aberdeen, there was no need to bring a change of clothes. If he needed anything on the way, he could just buy it locally. He had enough cash on him to cover his travel expenses.
When he arrived at King’s Cross Station, there was a train leaving for Aberdeen. By the time he bought his ticket and got to the platform, the train had already started. He had to follow the train for a while before he could jump on.
The journey was so hurried that he could already imagine how annoyed Z would be when he learned that he’d left without saying goodbye. He would probably curse him a hundred times in his heart, his “little bad thing,” and then sulk while he waited for him to return.
He could even imagine how Z will “teach him a lesson” when he came back as a disobedient bad little boy – using his mechanical prosthetic limbs to hold his hands firmly above his head, so that he can experience the absolute power gap between the mechanical and human body, so that he can’t move over and over again, even as he apologized to Z for leaving without saying goodbye, swore never to do it again, and sobbed for mercy. When Z was satisfied with what he was hearing, he would gag him with his lips and tongue, and occasionally with a metal finger, or some other body part.
…But he didn’t hate it either.
How Z would punish him when he comes back was a matter for the future. Right now he had to go to Aberdeen to get to the bottom of what happened back then.
Xenophon turned into a raven and soared over London. He rode the wind, over the lines of buildings and the traffic-filled streets. His wings brushed the heads of gentlemen and ladies all the way from Soho to New Scotland Yard.
He hadn’t flown this fast in a long time. He wanted to bring the truth about the Seward case, and the news of “Sir” going north to Boss Z quickly. To be honest, he was kind of looking forward to the boss’s reaction when he heard that the boy had left without saying goodbye. The boss’s angry look was particularly funny.
The kid was able to dig up the truth about the case, which really impressed Xenophon. Although he already knew that he was hiding a lot of secrets, his psychic vision ability, this was still unexpected for Xenophon.
Xenophon had gradually developed animal instincts because he had been turning into an animal for a long time. His keen intuition told him that there were many more secrets in that boy’s body, and he was afraid that he was hiding a bigger secret than “I am the Master of the Trading House.”
Of course, his secrets were none of Xenophon’s business. If anyone would be devastated by his secrets, it would be Boss Z.
Xenophon had always been puzzled. How did that kid hook up with Boss Z? He always thought that the boss was a celibate, someone who lived an ascetic life like a monk. Who would have thought that the moment he met the kid, he would be on fire? Was it because he had been single for too many years, and this was finally an outbreak from the silence?
The two of them all day long, the exchanged looks, was really unbearable. If the two of them would just openly hug each other’s face, Xenophon might also be a little more accepting. However, those two people just liked to squirm and pretend they didn’t mean it when everyone around them could see what they were thinking. Just! It was disgusting!
Xenophon decided to explain this problem to the boss sometime. His Boss Z could never be that disgusting! He found his way to the window of the Abnormal Case Investigation Unit’s office and landed lightly on the windowsill. The only people in the office were Miss Acheson and the boss. The others had disappeared like gold coins in the hands of a gambler.
Xenophon was about to tap on the window with his beak, as usual, to call his colleagues to open the window for him (if they had consciences, they should have left it open for him all along) when he saw someone who he least expected to see at that moment, was standing in the office.
Secretary Carter was there.
Xenophon resisted the urge to peck the guy’s eyes out, and pretended to be an ordinary raven as he quietly watched Carter’s every move.
Worried that Carter had found out they were investigating the orphan files, he scanned the office, and saw that all the files were stuffed into a filing cabinet in the corner. Needless to say, it was Miss Acheson’s doing.
That Carter fellow always liked to make surprise attacks, but Miss Acheson could always detect them in advance, and quickly put away the things that should not be seen by him. He didn’t know if it was because Miss Acheson had some unknown special skill, or if she could just see the avenue facing Scotland Yard from her seat and monitor the flow of people as they came and went.
The Secretary Officer was as condescending as ever.
“Her Majesty the Queen summons, Superintendent Xenia.” He said to Z.
Z pulled the corner of his mouth into a smile that looked like he didn’t know whether to mock or rejoice. “What’s it about this time?”
“How rude! It’s a great honor for you to be summoned by Her Majesty, and you have to ask why?”
Z dropped the pen in his hand, took his jacket from the back of his chair and draped it over his shoulders.
“Why aren’t you coming?” He looked back at Carter. “Or would you like to stay for a cup of tea?”
Carter looked around the office. “Why isn’t our newly promoted Sir here? Her Majesty wants to summon him too.”
“He’s away on business,” Z replied indifferently. “Do you want to wait for his return?”
Carter’s cheek twitched. “No, I don’t think so. Her Majesty can’t wait. You can do it alone. Her Majesty mainly wants to see you.”
Xenophon smacked his lips and thought, It’s a good thing that boy ran away, because if they had come back together, they would have bumped into Carter. Did he know that Carter was here, so he deliberately found an excuse to avoid it? But how could he predict that?
After she confirmed that Carter’s footsteps were far away, Miss Acheson came over and opened the window. However Xenophon did not enter the office, but instead leapt down and soared with his wings. He wanted to see what the Queen had summoned the boss for.
Carter and Z boarded a carriage, and Xenophon simply landed on the roof to hitch a ride. The raven’s form really worked well. The carriage drove all the way to the outskirts of London and finally stopped in front of a palace.
So, the Queen was in one of the rooms of the palace.
Xenophon had been a Nightman for so long, but had never seen the Queen. It was unfair that the boss would be summoned by the Queen every now and then. He flew around the palace and finally found a woman in a room on the second floor.
However, she was clearly not the Queen. As far as Xenophon knew, the queen was an old woman. That woman was young, around sixteen, and still a teenager. The bad thing was that Xenophon knew the woman. Worse yet, the woman knew him too.
Seven hours later, Aberdeen.
Returning to the city where he had lived for three years, Duan FeiZhou couldn’t help but feel a lot of emotions. The last time he came back was for Ruth’s funeral, and to investigate the Aberdeen Ripper murder case. It had been rainy for several days then, and the mood was dark and gloomy.
This time when he stepped off the train, he was nearly blinded by the brilliant sunset.
The city was free from the gloom of the serial murders, and was once again full of vitality and energy. It had only been a few weeks since the case was solved, but people seemed to have forgotten the painful past.
People were such creatures that they could easily forget the pain of the past, and live for the future.
It took Duan FeiZhou some time to find the original location of the Chester Clinic. The fire had destroyed everything three years ago – the entire clinic was reduced to a black and empty frame, and killed not only Doctor Chester, but also several patients.
Doctor Chester’s savings were almost entirely used to pay for the fire, and left Duan FeiZhou penniless just as he arrived in the world. Luckily, he was able to earn a place for himself by working as an unlicensed black doctor on Mire Street.
Today, the Chester Clinic no longer existed. A new building had been built on the site, and rented to a clothing shop.
Duan FeiZhou looked at the shop sign, and was slightly bewildered.
If all the remnants of the building had been demolished, he could see nothing.
A trip in vain.
“Ah, you’re finally here.” A woman’s voice rang out behind him.
Duan FeiZhou turned around sharply. Hecate, the Third Forerunner and the guide of the Underworld, was standing behind him. She wore a Greek robe that was out of place in the Victorian era, with long hair that brushed to the ground. She was stunningly beautiful.
Many people passed by her, but none of them expressed interest in her strange costume. In their eyes, she was just a perfectly ordinary woman.
“Am I dreaming?” Duan FeiZhou asked warily.
Hecate’s red lips arced. “If you think you’re dreaming, then you’re dreaming.”
“I’m not interested in discussing philosophical topics with you. Did you ask me to come to Aberdeen?”
“That’s right.” She held out her hand to Duan FeiZhou. “Can you walk me into the shop for a while?”
Duan FeiZhou stared at her slender five fingers and hesitated. He felt that although Hecate wasn’t hostile to him, she couldn’t be considered his friend either. They were more like two people who were temporarily cooperating for the benefit of each other.
Duan FeiZhou could only take her arm. The two of them walked into the clothing shop like a gentleman and lady in the Victorian streets. Duan FeiZhou suspected that Hecate had used some kind of blinding technique to cause the clerk to ignore them.
“Why did you ask me to come here?” Duan FeiZhou asked, as he stared ahead motionlessly. “I thought gods and goddesses like you never interfered with earthly matters.”
“We interfere,” Hecate said gently. “But only in matters that interest us. It would be terrible if you were involved in it.”
“What kind of matters? Do you mean danger?”
“You will know, naturally, when you return.”
Duan FeiZhou pursed his lips. Hecate was still fond of being the riddler.
“You called me to Aberdeen simply so I could avoid trouble?”
“Aren’t you dying to know the truth about the fire three years ago?” Hecate said. “You’ve come to the scene of the fire, why don’t you use your ability to observe it?”
Duan FeiZhou reminded her, “The clinic has been completely demolished and rebuilt. There’s nothing left. I can’t see.”
“You go ahead and try.” Hecate’s tone was cold, like a stern female teacher teaching an unenlightened student.
Duan FeiZhou pursed his lips. He didn’t have much hope. After all, he knew his own powers best. However, he couldn’t defy the goddess. He had to stare at the fancy wallpaper of the clothing shop.
After a minute of dry staring, he slumped his shoulders and said, “You see? I can’t see anything…”
He looked sideways at the goddess beside him, and was shocked to find that Hecate had disappeared. The clothing shop had also disappeared. He was standing in the middle of a corridor with flames that rose to the sky, as heat waves hit his face. Everything was burning.
He was no longer Duan FeiZhou. He had become a blonde-haired, green-eyed teenager. His body moved against his will, as if someone was manipulating his actions. He rushed recklessly into the fire, as he covered his mouth and nose with his cuffs, his golden-green eyes wide with fear.
There was a man kneeling in the doctor’s office at the end of the hallway. It was his father. He covered his chest and gasped in pain as a stream of blood spilled from his fingers. Before his father stood a man in a black mask. He held an old notebook in his hand, and flipped through a few pages in boredom.
“It’s really all there is. It’s all in there…” his father panted. “Our family wasn’t an illustrious family of occult practitioners. Much of the knowledge has been lost in the inheritance. All that’s left is the notebook…”
The masked man looked up and noticed the teenager who was standing in the doorway. His voice contained a smile, “That’s your son?”
His father turned around and stared in horror. He yelled, “Leo, run!”
Instead of obeying, the teenager rushed to his father, and opened his arms to block his father’s body. “Don’t you dare hurt my father!”
His father was the only family he had. After the death of his mother and the departure of his uncle, it had been father and son who were dependent on each other. His father was a highly respected doctor who was not only well respected by his patients, but was also his idol and role model. From a young age, he had vowed to become a man like his father.
The clinic was his father’s heart and soul, and he would not allow anyone to destroy this sacred place, much less harm his honorable father. He was young and strong, and if he fought with strength, he didn’t believe he couldn’t beat this masked man.
The masked man looked at the young man critically, as if assessing a commodity. “What a pity. If only he was a little younger. It’s not good to be this old. We can’t use him. It’s a bit of a waste.”
He said he raised his hand towards the teenager, and shot a lightning-like light from his palm.
The lightning struck the teenager’s chest. He didn’t even have time to scream, as he was knocked backward and fell heavily to the ground. He wanted to call out to his father, but only blood spilled out of his lips. He couldn’t make a sound.
The masked man raised his hand and made a complicated gesture, pointed to his father who was kneeling on the ground, and then at the motionless teenager. The flames surrounded the two men as if they had been given life.
The masked man left the wailing father behind, and stepped over the boy’s body, as he headed for the back door of the clinic. As he passed, the flames obediently made way for him.
Everything was on fire. The father crawled on his hands and knees to the teenager’s side. He left a long trail of blood behind him as he crawled. He tapped the teenager’s cheek. “Wake up, Leo. My boy…”
The teenager was nearly unresponsive. The light faded from his eyes. The father shifted and trembled. A tear hit the teenager’s cheek and was quickly dried by the flames. “You will not die, my son. I will not let you die!”
The father bit through his own finger and used his blood to draw a magic circle on the teenager’s forehead. He moved skillfully. He was obviously trained in professional occult arts.
“Hecate, Guide of the Underworld, Goddess of the Crossroads, please listen to the request of your devotee.” His father bowed his head, and offered his prayer with great devotion and humility, “Please save my son from death and suffering. I send him to Your side and ask You to guard his soul.”
The flames engulfed them both.
Duan FeiZhou woke up with a jolt.
The phantoms disappeared and he was standing in the clothing shop again.
The clerk kept her head down and took notes. The tip of her pen rustled against the paper. Outside the store, a horse-drawn carriage drove down the street, and the horse bells tinkled.
The quiet was terrible.
Duan FeiZhou inclined his head. Hecate was gazing at him with a smile.
“Just now that was…What?” he asked stiffly. “Leopold Chester’s memory?”
He had taken over this body, so he could even receive the original owner’s memories as well? However, the scene he saw was different from the information he knew.
“That’s not right. Leo’s father was a doctor who didn’t know about occult practices. He hated occult philosophy and occult practitioners. That was why Joseph Chester parted ways with him.”
“Doctor Chester hid so well,” said Hecate. “That even his own brother was fooled by him. The Chester family is an ancient line of occult practitioners whose lineage goes back to the time of the Forerunners. They are the descendants of the Fourth Forerunner. Since they devoured the flesh and blood of the Forerunner, they obtained supernatural powers. That power was passed on from generation to generation with the bloodline until Joseph Chester was born.”
Duan FeiZhou said, “Joseph Chester inherited the supernatural power, but his brother didn’t.”
“Yes. But his brother inherited the family’s knowledge of occult philosophy that was passed down from generation to generation. Even Joseph Chester didn’t know this. He always thought that knowledge was lost long ago.”
Duan FeiZhou was too surprised to speak. He had never met Doctor Chester, who, in his imagination, should be a loyal and beloved doctor, with perhaps integrity and an old-fashioned character, and therefore wouldn’t be accustomed to occult practitioners.
He hadn’t expected him to hide his identity, it was hidden even from his own brother for so many years. He knew that when Joseph Chester passed away, he still didn’t know that his older brother inherited the family’s mysterious legacy. Perhaps this was Doctor Chester’s purpose. He wanted the legacy to be cut off in his generation so that his child could live as an ordinary person.
He had only used occult powers once in his life. It was for the sake of his child.
“Doctor Chester used the occult arts to protect the dying Leopold,” he said.
“He asked for my intervention. I granted it,” Hecate said faintly. “I took Leopold’s soul to myself to protect him from evil.”
“I didn’t see Leopold’s soul next to you,” Duan FeiZhou said.
“The human soul couldn’t live long in that small world of mine, so I sent him elsewhere again. To a place suitable for human life.”
Hecate smiled. Her red lips formed the shape of a crescent moon.
“To some branch of multiple histories – histories that you have seen and do exist.”
Duan FeiZhou’s footsteps jerked to a halt. He looked up at the Forerunner. “I have seen…?”
Both surprise and horror stirred in his chest, and he felt like he was weightless, then falling from some extremely high place all the way down into a bottomless abyss. The last time he had met Hecate, the forerunner had said that he had come to her domain because he had subconsciously fled to the place where he felt safest when he was in danger.
They had met long ago, only he had forgotten.
Sherlock Holmes said that when you eliminate all possibilities, the one that remains was the truth, no matter how unlikely it was.
“Where is Leopold Chester’s soul now?” he asked. His voice trembled involuntarily.
“He lived in that branch of the multiple histories for nineteen years, and then returned to this branch of the multiple histories – back to the body that was his. The beauty of it is that there was a little accident. He seems to have completely lost his original memory, and only remembers the other branch of the histories.” Hecate looked at Duan FeiZhou, with eyes that were dark like the night sky.
“You already understand, don’t you?” the Forerunner laughed. “You aren’t some guest from another world. You are Leopold Chester himself.”
Wow that gives me goosebumps.
This story is getting more and more interesting!!!! Thanks for the chapter!
Well!!! Never saw that coming! DFZ was invested on this case before, but now learning he’s actually Leopold, will certainly make him even more determined (once he’s recovered from the shock). I reckon he’s a lot more powerful than he realises.
What awful people make up the Institute though; causing others such pain and misery 😔
Thanks for translating and editing.
That was a twist I didn’t expect.
!!! I wasn’t expecting that! That changes so much!
Thank you for the chapter!
Thank you for the chapter!
Wow honestly Hecate has some impeccable timing, wait til DFZ feels comfortable in this world before dropping this bombshell 😂
Thanks for the chapter ♡♡♡♡♡