Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Duan FeiZhou and Xenophon got off the train one stop before London and snuck into London City under the cover of night. It seemed that even God was helping them. The night was foggy, visibility was less than three meters, and unless someone came right up to them, they couldn’t even see whether they were male or female, let alone see their faces.
In addition, with Duan FeiZhou’s powers, he could listen to the surrounding sounds, so whenever he sensed someone unusual approaching, he and Xenophon immediately hid in the shadows.
“The Nightmen are disbanded, so where are we going now?” Duan FeiZhou asked in a whisper as he followed Xenophon through the mists.
“Temporary command.” Xenophon’s answer was baffling as always.
“…Nightmen still have that thing?”
“Well, it’s actually the lair of one of our colleagues. We all talked about taking refuge in that place if we had nowhere else to go. The place has food and drink, which is better than starving to death.”
The two men didn’t dare call a carriage, so they had to walk all the way. Xenophon got tired of walking, turned into a raven and stood on Duan FeiZhou’s shoulder. He used him as a seat in a dignified manner. He was guided by Xenophon through a dark alleyway and eventually arrived at a place he knew very well.
He looked at the Regency-style three-story building, grabbed the raven by the neck, and lifted it up. “Isn’t this my house? You’re using my house as a command post?!”
The raven fluttered its wings and croaked. Duan FeiZhou had to let go of it so that its cries wouldn’t attract the attention of the surrounding neighbors.
The windows of Duan FeiZhou’s house on the third floor were dark, but the restaurant on the first and second floors was still open. However tonight there were no customers. Duan FeiZhou couldn’t help but feel sympathy for the owner.
The restaurant owner pushed open the door, and put the rag on his shoulder. Duan FeiZhou was shocked. If the owner saw his face, would it give away his whereabouts? What if Carter and the others were searching for him?
The boss, calm and collected, hooked his hand towards him, and signaled for him to come closer.
Duan FeiZhou pointed to himself. Me?
The boss nodded his head.
The raven flew towards the boss and took human form in front of him. The boss smiled happily and embraced Xenophon as if they were old friends who had known each other for years.
Duan FeiZhou’s jaw dropped as he pointed at Xenophon and the boss. “You…You two…”
Xenophon dragged him into the restaurant. The owner stood on the street, looked around, listened to the neighbors, made sure no one noticed them, then tiptoed in close the door and put up the “Closed” sign.
The restaurant was brightly lit, and the bright orange light gave Duan FeiZhou a warm feeling.
The owner moved them into the kitchen, opened the trapdoor of the cellar, and gestured for them to go down. Duan FeiZhou hesitated, but Xenophon had no qualms about climbing down first. Duan FeiZhou looked back at the boss, who had a kind smile on his face as he pointed to the cellar, and indicated that he should follow.
Since Xenophon was so familiar with him, it meant that the boss shouldn’t be a suspicious person…
Duan FeiZhou calmed down, and climbed down the ladder into the cellar.
The cellar was so big that Duan FeiZhou suspected it was much bigger than the size of the house, and he wondered if the owner had secretly expanded it so that he could pay less rent. On the left side of the cellar, boxes of carrots, apples, cured meat, smoked fish and sausages were piled up into a mountain, while on the right side were rows of wine barrels. If war broke out, these supplies could support them for several months.
The area was full of things, but there was still room in the cellar to put down a square table and four chairs, which showed the breadth of space. Now all four chairs had owners – Mrs. Q, Mr. R, Yeats and Miss Acheson turned their heads to look at them at the same time.
“You’re here at last, Mr. Chester,” Yeats said first. “I was afraid you’d been taken by the Committee for the Advancement of Science. I’m so glad to see you’re safe and sound.”
Duan FeiZhou looked at his poet friend, and then at the restaurant owner. He’d forgotten what he was going to say.
Xenophon slapped the restaurant owner’s arm, and said to Duan FeiZhou with a big smile, “This is Mr. N.”
Duan FeiZhou has heard of him since the first day he arrived at the Abnormal Case Investigation Unit, but had never met him until today. When Z said Mr. N was on vacation, Duan FeiZhou thought he meant a vacation like Mr. Thales, where he would find a beautiful resort, rest for a few months, enjoy the scenery, taste the food, experience the foreign culture, and then have a short love affair with the tourists who also came to vacation.
However, he never expected that Mr. N’s method of vacation was…to open a restaurant. Not to mention that it was a restaurant where the food was so bad! His method of relaxation was to torture his diners? Plus, why did he open a restaurant under Duan FeiZhou’s house? Was there such a coincidence in the world?
“I know you must be surprised.” Mr. N said gently. “Sit down and I’ll get you something to eat.”
Duan FeiZhou was at a loss for words, but Xenophon wasn’t treating himself as an outsider, as he pulled up an empty upside-down suitcase, sat down on it, then moved to the square table. Miss Acheson and Yeats had to move aside to make room for him.
Mr. N returned with two dinner plates and six glasses of beer, which floating in front of Mr. N. He directed the plates and glasses to land on the square table. One plate was piled with square slices of toast, the other with hot roast meat. The beer gurgled and bubbled.
Xenophon grabbed the bread like a starving man and gobbled it up. The others grabbed glasses. Duan FeiZhou’s stomach growled endlessly. He had rushed all day today, ran from the south of England all the way to the north and back again, with basically nothing to eat on the way. Before, due to the high level of mental tension, he had ignored hunger, but now that he was suddenly relaxed, he finally realized how hungry he really was.
As he wiped a handful of drool from the corner of his mouth, he also pulled over an empty box, squeezed in with the Nightmen.
For some reason, the food the restaurant sold to the public was incoherent, but the bread and grilled meat was amazingly delicious. The crispy crust was wrapped around a fluffy dough, and each bite was like biting into a cloud with a rich, creamy flavor. The grilled meat was perfectly cooked, charred on the outside and tender on the inside, then was topped with a special sauce that was even more aromatic.
Duan FeiZhou and Xenophon wiped out the food like a breeze. They also drank most of the beer. After eating Mr. N’s food, Duan FeiZhou’s attitude towards him became much friendlier because he was a soft-talker.
“So…How did a Nightmen on leave come to open a restaurant?” After the beer and food it was time to get down to business.
Mr. N leaned lazily on the ladder at the entrance of the cellar and used his secret magic to manipulate two beer bottles to fly over to pour them more drinks.
“Actually, I’m not on vacation, I’m resigning. My dream has always been to open a restaurant.” Mr. N laughed. “Boss Z wouldn’t allow me to resign. He forced me to take leave without pay.”
Duan FeiZhou thought Z did the right thing. If this kind of person went to open a restaurant, it was like endangering the lives of the public. It would be more appropriate for him to be a Nightman.
“Then why did you rent the house below me? Did you already suspect my identity?…No, you opened a store here when my uncle was still alive. Did you ever suspect his identity?” Duan FeiZhou scrutinized Mr. N. It was hard to tell his age. It was probably more than thirty and less than forty, and his appearance was so pleasant that one would never associate him with any special status just by looking at his appearance. Duan FeiZhou has reason to believe that he had a mechanical prosthetic leg, since one was thinner than the other and made a metallic clanging sound when he walked.
“It’s just a coincidence. Your uncle passed away not long after I rented the store, and I barely dealt with him. Then you came along. At first I thought you were just an ordinary guy, though not without suspicion.”
Duan FeiZhou raised his eyebrows “Really?”
“You remember what I told you about the store earthquakes, right? At that time I was a little suspicious that you were practicing occult arts. But generally speaking, practicing occult arts won’t make such a big noise.” Mr. N. bristled. “I think maybe I was just naive.”
Duan FeiZhou couldn’t help but cover his face. Yes, that was caused by his practice of the occult arts. At that time, he wasn’t allowed to understand it, so he caused a lot of damage to the restaurant. Mr. Thales had also complained that his attempts were like a battery of artillery. He didn’t want to…
“Mr. N, this is your fault,” Xenophon said in a reproachful tone. “At first I suspected this boy, but then I thought, Mr. N lives under his house. If he does something wrong, how can Mr. N not find out? He hasn’t reported him so far, so it means that the boy is not a problem. As a result, I was very late in noticing his abnormalities!”
Mr. N. Said lightly, “I told you, I’m resigning. It’s not my duty to report suspicious people.”
“You’re covering up! Harboring!”
“Let’s not talk about me. Tell us what you found,” Mr. N said. “What is the situation in London?”
The Nightmen looked at each other.
Miss Acheson was the first to speak up, “The office has been taken over by Carter’s men. But before I left, I used the spell Mrs. Q gave me to burn all the important files. Carter probably doesn’t know that we’re already investigating him. It won’t be that easy for that group to take over our work.”
“If we ever take back the Abnormal Case Investigation Unit section, will the files still be recoverable?” Mr. R asked.
“It’s okay, I’ve got it all in my head. When the time comes, just mimeograph 1 it once.” Miss Acheson smiled lightly.
The crowd looked astonished. As expected of the king of the Nightmen! She was so amazing!!
“Didn’t you all go out and split up to investigate? Why are you gathered here?” Duan FeiZhou asked.
Miss Acheson said, “This place was originally our agreed safe house, it just never came into use before today.”
“When we were returning to Scotland Yard, we met Miss Acheson halfway.” Mr. R said. “She stopped us, explained the situation, and we decided to move here.”
Yeats said, “I didn’t go back to Scotland Yard. I wanted to visit your house, but I ran into Miss Acheson and the others as soon as I got downstairs.”
Mr. R. asked, “What about you? Didn’t you and Xenophon go to Soho to investigate? What did you find out?”
Duan FeiZhou and Xenophon looked at each other, both looking a bit gray.
“The Committee for Scientific Progress has been assassinating the occult practitioners family and then sending the orphans left behind to be raised in the home and cultivated into their cronies.” Xenophon was rarely so serious. “I’m afraid that my family is also…If the Nightmen hadn’t arrived in time, I’d be one of Carter’s men right now.”
“My family was also killed by them.” Duan FeiZhou’s expression sank. The scenes that Hecate had shown him were still vivid in his mind. However, he didn’t report Hecate’s name, nor did he mention his soul crossing, only the truth that he saw through his psychic powers.
The Nightmen listened to his story with both sympathy and gloom on their faces. Mr. N silently filled his drink and patted him on the shoulder as if to express comfort. Mr. N asked in a low voice, “You must be eager to avenge your father’s death, right?”
Duan FeiZhou nodded his head. “Forget about me for now. How is Z now?”
He was worried to death. they had lost track of Z after Xenophon escaped from the palace. All they knew was that he had fallen into the hands of Carter and Madame Boyle, who did not treat Z as a human being at all. In her eyes Z was just one of her creations, ready to be dismantled or destroyed. The thought of how they would torture Z was as hard on Duan FeiZhou’s heart as if he were being gnawed by thousands of ants.
He really should have gone to say goodbye to Z before going north to Aberdeen. According to Xenophon, if he had gone to say goodbye, then he and Z would have been taken away together by Carter. The two of them together against Carter and Madame Boyle, with Xenophon’s help, might not have fallen short, and everything would have been different.
However, the reason he hurried to Aberdeen was because of Hecate’s call. The Goddess of the Crossroads hurriedly called him to meet in Aberdeen in order for him to avoid a bad outcome. By bad outcome, did she mean that he would have been arrested with Z? That is, even if he stayed in London and fought alongside Z, nothing would have changed?
The others didn’t yet know of Xenophon’s experience. He told them briefly what he had seen and heard in the palace. The Nightmen were stunned. Mr. N. even froze halfway through pouring the beer, which spilled out of the glass and flowed out with a clatter. He hurriedly snapped his fingers and cleared the beer from the table.
“I’ll go get a new one.” He shook his head, and climbed out of the cellar.
“I don’t understand,” Miss Acheson said. “What exactly is the purpose of the Council for the Advancement of Science? To fight for power and profit? They have entered the halls of power for the country and have so much power that even the Queen is subject to their influence, not to mention the control of Parliament. It’s said that they are to seize more wealth, but they rely on the Ether Crystals and steam-powered engines that have already made a lot of money, what more wealth can they seize?”
“Man’s desire is never-ending.” Xenophon put on the face of a philosopher.
“Are they really going to such great lengths to do all this simply for material desires?” Miss Acheson looked at the dark-haired, yellow-eyed Nightman. “You said that Carter and Madame Boyle are attempting to create undead soldiers. Are they trying to expand their power into foreign countries? Or even – to conquer the world?”
“It’s entirely possible!” Mr. R pounded the table. “Imagine an army of undead! If everyone in that army is as capable of fighting as Boss Z, wouldn’t conquering the world really be possible?”
Miss Acheson frowned, and seemed to disagree with his opinion. However, she didn’t make any remarks to refute it.
“Since we have to deal with the Committee for Scientific Progress, we have to at least come up with a plan, right?” Xenophon sought the opinion of the crowd. “Now our biggest problem is: what do we do now that Boss Z has been caught?”
The others were still reeling from the shock of Z’s arrest, and no one answered for a while.
Duan FeiZhou spoke up, “Z once wrote a suicide note, which designated Miss Acheson as the leader after his death, with Mr. N to assist her.”
“The boss is still alive.” Mrs. Q looked gloomy.
“I know. But I think Z was trusting in Miss Acheson’s abilities when he designated her as the next chief.” Duan FeiZhou looked at the typist lady, “What do you think we should do?”
The plain-looking typist lady folded her fingers and held her chin, “I’m too young to take the responsibility of the chief. I think we should first find a way to rescue Boss Z before we talk about anything else.”
“Do you know where the boss is being held?” Mr. R asked eagerly.
Xenophon shook his head. “I escaped directly after I was injured. I don’t know what happened to the boss after that.”
Yeats interjected, “Since he was still of use to Madame Boyle, they wouldn’t have killed him, at least. He’ll be held in a heavily guarded place. A secure prison somewhere.”
Hearing them talk about Z, Duan FeiZhou felt indescribably uncomfortable. He noticed that the beer had run out, and Mr. N had not returned so he got up and said, “I’ll go and look for Mr. N.”
He climbed back into the kitchen, but there was no sign of Mr. N. After looking around for a while, he found Mr. N standing in the doorway.
“Mr. N!” He called out. “Boss, bring some more beer!”
Mr. N did not answer, but leaned against the door frame as if something strange had happened on the street. Duan FeiZhou looked out, and saw a woman standing in the shadows of a building across the street with a shawl wrapped around her head to hide most of her face.
Duan FeiZhou still recognized her. Her aura was too unique, very different from the average human. If they looked through all of London, there weren’t many people like her.
“The chairman of the council? What brings you here?”
Evangeline Black was surprised, “Mr. Chester?”
They’ll make quite a formidable group, especially with Evangeline Black on board too.
I hope they can save Z before anything horrific is done to him. DFZ would be inconsolable.
This could well be the turning point of how well decent, caring practitioners are treated, instead of being lumped in with likes of Madame Boyle and Carter.
Thanks for translating, editing & the T/N.
We finally get to meet Mr. N! Surprised that it was someone we had met earlier in the story.
Now they’ll have Evangeline’s help, yay!
Thank you for the chapter!