Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
There was no sound. Everyone looked in awe at Duan FeiZhou, who was wearing a golden mask.
Madeleine leaned back involuntarily. She heard a confused, “Hmm?” from her side. Madame Boyle muttered, “Strange, I’ve never seen this man before.”
“Isn’t he the owner of the Secret Trading House?” Madeleine asked in an slight voice.
“No. Can’t really figure it out. What the hell is going on?”
Madeleine was too amazed to speak. After a few moments, low, soft whispers sounded around the room. The crowd seemed to wake up and realize that they were being greeted by a new person today.
Duan FeiZhou looked around at them and said, “Ahem.”
A simple syllable that was more effective than the longest and most complex secretarial incantation. Madeleine didn’t even dare to breathe loudly.
“Everyone, we are meeting for the first time.” Duan FeiZhou’s voice wasn’t loud, but it had a wonderfully intimidating effect; as if the moment he spoke, everyone in the room would involuntarily fall silent and listen. “You are probably wondering where the owner of the trading house has gone. I have to tell you the sad news. He passed away a while ago due to illness.”
Madeleine noticed out of the corner of her eye that Madame Boyle had covered her mouth with a handkerchief.
“I am his heir. The second-generation owner of the Secret Trading House. It is an honor to be here with you all, so please, come in everyone. Please feel free to pick your favorite items.” He sidled aside and bowed; slightly low. The customers looked at each other, and took a long time before they hesitantly stepped through the door.
Madame Boyle patted her hand, “Let’s go, dear.”
The two women walked into the trading house with the crowd.
Madeleine let out a gasp of surprise. She had expected the trading house to be like a grocery store, with all sorts of rare or dangerous goods stacked in a clutter on the shelves. But what she saw before her eyes was a small museum-like place, with each item placed in a separate compartment for display.
“Excuse me, please make way.” Someone nudged Madeleine from behind.
She then realized that she was so focused on examining the furnishings of the trading house that she was blocking the door. Embarrassed, she stepped aside.
Three tall men wearing plain white masks entered the room. One of them turned to Madeleine and Madame Boyle, and looked at the two women thoughtfully. His eyes fell on Madame Boyle’s fur shawl. He spoke with an American accent, “Phosphorus firefox fur. Only a few flaws.”
Madame Boyle glanced at his cuffs, said a casual hello, and pulled Madeleine into the crowd, as far away from the three men as possible.
“Who are they?” Madeleine asked curiously.
“Salem witches. I don’t like them very much.”
“How did you recognize them?”
“Look at their cufflinks, dear. Didn’t you see an ‘S’ on them?”
Madeleine glanced cautiously back at the three men, whose attention had been drawn to a statue placed high above them, and were exchanging pleasantries.
The masked owner of the trading house approached Madeleine. She instantly hid nervously behind Madame Boyle. However, she found that the owner of the trading house wasn’t targeting her, but a customer near her, the fancy and gorgeous Oriental woman.
“What can I do for you, madam?” Duan FeiZhou asked politely.
The Oriental woman pointed to a display case overhead and asked, in less than skilled English, “May I see that?”
Madeleine followed the pointed finger and tilted her head. The display case was so close to the ceiling that it couldn’t be reached even on tiptoe. There was no ladder here, so how could the owner of the trading house take the item down and show it to the customer?
Duan FeiZhou was thinking the same thing.
Just let the customers wait. If he neglected his customers in this way, just see how they dared to come to the door in the future. However, just as he was thinking, How in the world can I get that down?, the display case on the wall suddenly moved.
The lower compartments automatically gave way to the sides, and the higher compartment slowly descended. As it moved out of the way the empty space was quickly filled by another compartment.
Duan FeiZhou noticed that these grids weren’t tightly stacked together, but had some space and gaps. They use these gaps to move up and down, like playing a kind of slider game.
Finally, the grid compartment moved to a position flush with the Oriental woman’s line of sight. Inside the compartment was a small white object that looked a little like a kazoo.
“Thank you.” The Oriental woman said.
Duan FeiZhou smiled faintly, not taken in by her courtesy.
“You actually have such an item here.” The Oriental woman exuded admiration.
“Mn, I didn’t think we still sold kazoo flutes either.” Duan FeiZhou said casually.
“What’s a kazoo flute? Isn’t it the throat bone of a bipedal pterosaur?” The Oriental woman was baffled.
“You’re right.” Duan FeiZhou said immediately. The Oriental woman was even more confused.
The two female customers next to her, “pffed” and laughed. One of the female customers wore a silver mask, and was draped in a luxurious and rare-looking fur shawl. From her spent white hair it was easy to see that she was very old. Another female customer wore a feather mask, and from her body type she was a young girl.
Madame Boyle came forward and said softly to the Oriental woman, “The kazoo is an instrument you may not have seen.”
“It is, of course, the throat bone of a bipedal pterosaur, madam.” Madeleine explained enthusiastically. “But I must say, it does resemble a kazoo in appearance.”
Madame Boyle added, “And the bipedal pterosaur’s call does sound a bit like a kazoo, too. I think it’s more like a broken horn, though.”
Duan FeiZhou stared at the two of them in shock. What, were they helping him to find a step down?
The Oriental woman covered her chest, and said to Duan FeiZhou in an embarrassed tone, “So the owner of the trading house was joking. I didn’t catch it. It must be because my English is so bad.”
Duan FeiZhou couldn’t help but hold his forehead. He had always been inseparable from bad luck, so why did he get lucky at this time? However, next time he won’t be so lucky, right?
Duan FeiZhou was eager to leave, so he bowed to the Oriental woman, “I’ll go greet the other customers. Take your time.”
The ‘executioners’ had taken a keen interest in a small display case. Duan FeiZhou suspected that whoever had made the doll inside it might have had a deep hatred of children.
“What is this, sir?” The guest asked.
Duan FeiZhou said, “If you, as a senior scholar of esoteric philosophy, don’t know what it is, how can I, a mere businessman, know?”
The executioner looked offended. “How dare you speak to me in such a tone!”
Duan FeiZhou continued to add fuel to the fire. “Okay. It’s an ugly broken doll. Satisfied?”
The executioner raised his fist. But a thin, slender hand grabbed his wrist. A person who wore a carnival mask and was extremely well-dressed floated over from behind them.
“Well, don’t make a spectacle of yourself,” the carnival mask said. “This is the Secret Trading House, not a fighting ring.”
“He’s teasing me!” the executioner complained angrily.
“Did you not catch the hint of the owner of the trading house? This item is only for ‘senior scholars of esoteric philosophy’, not for amateurs to fiddle with.” A contemptuous laugh came from under the carnival mask. “If you can’t even recognize what it is, then it’s better for you to play with rag dolls.”
The other customers laughed and the executioner roared in annoyance.
Everyone’s eyes were on them. The executioner gave Duan FeiZhou a furious look and walked away. He rushed through the door, towards the tapestry on the staircase platform and disappeared with a flash into the magic circle.
“Sorry, I seem to have chased your guest away.” Carnival Mask spread his hands in a helpless gesture to Duan FeiZhou.
“Good job.” Duan FeiZhou said.
The customers laughed even harder. An air of merriment filled the air inside and outside the trading house.
Duan FeiZhou expected them to stand up for the rights of the customers, but they didn’t care. Instead, they laughed at the two customers who had been driven away.
“I also think it’s better for them to leave. This place is not for amateurs.”
“The owner of the trading house is the one who has to have such boldness.”
“Nowadays, any stinky fish can come to learn occult philosophy. Someone should really filter them.”
These guys…Duan FeiZhou sincerely wondered if there was something wrong with them.
The two women who helped him out earlier whispered.
“Madam, what exactly is that doll? Is it rare?” Madeleine asked.
Madame Boyle narrowed her eyes, and examined the rag doll in the display case.
“Oh my God! It’s Jenny the Rejuvenator’s rag doll!” she exclaimed. “Did you see the mark on the doll’s forehead? It’s definitely made by Jenny the Rejuvenator herself. I thought all of her work had been destroyed in the fire of 1818!”
“Jenny the Rejuvenator?”
“An American séance master, half-black, whose ancestors were said to be voodoo witches. She could bring the souls of the dead back to life and host them in rag dolls, hence the name ‘Jenny the Rejuvenator’. Someone suspected that she was a deceitful charlatan, but she said her powers were so strong that she could call back souls. After that, she committed suicide. It is said that her soul did come back in a certain rag doll she made, but no one knew which one it was. The other occult practitioners felt so scared that they set all the dolls on fire.” The old woman’s eyes showed a hint of longing. “I didn’t think there were any surviving ones. Maybe Jenny’s soul is still in that rag doll now.”
“No wonder the owner of the trading house cynically drove those two away. Wouldn’t this thing cause a heinous disaster if it fell into the hands of amateurs?”
The women’s voices were small, but Duan FeiZhou still heard them.
I did not! He cried out inwardly. I really want to get rid of them! I really don’t know anything about these weird things! How on earth did you misunderstand me like this? How in the world can there be such people who are cheerful even after being scolded?
Wait. Did this mean that he…was giving successful customer service?