Not only did they speak the same Loen language, they also shared the same grim and tense vibes.
Where am I? What do I plan to do here? I would like to know too… Calming himself down, Zhou Mingrui silently repeated the questions posed by the two.
What left the deepest impression on him were neither the sentences formed by words nor the meanings behind them, but the display of bewilderment, vigilance, panic, and reverence by the couple!
For some baffling reason, two people had been mysteriously dragged into this world surrounded by gray fog. As the perpetrator, Zhou Mingrui was already feeling abnormally dumbfounded and startled, let alone the couple who was pulled into this mess completely passively!
For them, such events and encounters might already be beyond their imaginations, right?
Momentarily, Zhou Mingrui thought of two options: The first option was feigning victimhood to hide his true identity, and in turn gain a considerable amount of trust. He could then take a wait-and-see approach and take advantage of his circumstances where necessary. The other option was to maintain his mysterious identity in the eyes of the couple. He could then affect the subsequent development while gleaning valuable information from them.
Without the luxury of time to deliberate over the situation, he grasped hold of the thought that flashed across his mind. He made an immediate decision to try out the second idea.
Exploit the psychological state of the others to gain the greatest advantage for himself!
After a few seconds of silence in the fog, Zhou Mingrui chuckled. With a low but not heavy tone, he calmly spoke as though he was replying to the polite greetings from the visitors, “An attempt.”
An attempt… an attempt? Audrey Hall looked at the mysterious guy veiled in the grayish-white fog, and the only thought was that whatever was happening was absurd, funny, horrifying, and weird.
She was at the dressing table inside her bedroom only moments ago. But just by turning around, she had “come” into this place that was filled with gray fog!
Audrey took a breath, revealing an impeccable, courteous smile. She asked in a somewhat perturbed way, “Sir, is the attempt over? Might you permit our return?”
Alger Wilson also had the intentions to probe Zhou Mingrui in a similar fashion, but his rich experience made him statelier. He held back his impulse and only took on the role of a silent onlooker.
Zhou Mingrui looked at the questioner. Looking through the hazy mist, he could roughly see the silhouette of the person in question. It was a tall girl with smooth blond hair, but her exact countenance could not be seen clearly.
He did not rush to reply the girl’s question but turned around to look at the man. He had messy dark-blue hair, as well as a medium stature that was not considered stout.
Zhou Mingrui suddenly realized something. Once he became stronger or had a deeper understanding of the foggy world, perhaps it was possible for him to see through the fog and discern the girl and the man.
In this situation, they are the visitors, and I’m the master!
After changing his mindset, Zhou Mingrui instantly noticed details that he had neglected earlier on.
The girl with a melodious voice and the mature, withdrawn man both looked considerably incorporeal. Tainted by a faint crimson red, they resembled a projected image of the two crimson red “stars” beyond the gray fog.
This projection was based on the connection between the crimson red and himself, an intangible connection that only he himself could realistically grasp hold of.
The projection would disappear once the connection was cut, and the couple would then return… Zhou Mingrui nodded mildly and looked at the blond, chuckling. “Of course, if you make a formal request, you can return this very moment.”
When she did not identify any ill intention from his tone, Audrey heaved a sigh of relief. She believed that since a gentleman who was capable of such miraculous things had given his word, he would definitely abide by it stringently.
With her mind somewhat mollified, she surprisingly was in no hurry to request her leave. She rolled her virid eyes left and right, which sparkled with an abnormal radiance.
She said in an anxious, anticipative and tempted manner, “This is such a wonderful experience… Yes, I have always been hoping that something like this would happen. I mean—I like mysteries and supernatural miracles. No, my point is—what I mean is that, Sir, what can I do to become a Beyonder?”
She got more excited as she spoke, so much so she was fumbling over her words. The dream that sprouted in her as a result of listening to thrilling fantasies as told by her elders finally saw the possibility of being materialized.
However, with just a few words, she had already forgotten all her previous fears and horrors.
Good question! I would also like to know the answer… Zhou Mingrui complained inwardly.
He started to ponder on an answer to the question to maintain his unfathomable image.
At the same time, he felt that it was quite unbecoming of him to talk while standing. Shouldn’t he be in a palace, sitting at the head of a long table, and on a mysterious high-back chair engraved with ancient patterns, while silently observing his visitors?
As soon as this thought surfaced, the gray fog started to churn, giving both Audrey and Alger a shock.
In an instant, they saw a number of towering stone pillars around them. Above them was a vast dome that encapsulated them.
This entire edifice looked magnificent, grand and lofty, just like a legendary palace for giants.
Directly under the dome where the gray fog gathered, a long, bronze table appeared with ten high-back chairs on either side in a symmetrical arrangement, along with a chair on the other two ends of the long table The back of each chair dazzled and shone faintly with crimson red, drawing the outlines of weird constellations that differed from reality.
Audrey and Alger sat face-to-face, sitting next to the Seat of Honor.
The girl looked to her sides, and could not help but mumble, “How fascinating…”
It is certainly fascinating… Zhou Mingrui extended his right hand and caressed the edge of the bronze table a little while maintaining an unperturbed expression.
Alger inspected the surroundings, and after a few seconds of silence, he suddenly opened his mouth, and answered Audrey’s question in place of Zhou Mingrui.
“Are you a Loen?
“If you want to become a Beyonder, join the Churches of either the Evernight Goddess, the Lord of Storms, or the God of Steam and Machinery.
“The majority of us will not meet a Beyonder our entire lives. This has caused churches, and even some clergies within some of the biggest churches, to suspect the same. While this is the case, I am certain to tell you that Beyonders still exist in courts, tribunals, and execution agencies. They are still fighting against the dangers that grow in the dark, only that their numbers are much fewer as compared to before and during the early days of the Iron Age.”
Zhou Mingrui listened attentively, but he tried his best to present himself as paying little attention to Alger’s words, much like how he was listening to kids telling stories.
Relying on Klein’s fragmented general knowledge of history, Zhou Mingrui knew clearly that the “Iron Age” referred to the current epoch, which was the Fifth Epoch that began 1349 years ago.
Audrey silently listened to Alger finish his sentence before sighing.
“Mister, I know all about what you just said; I even know more than that, including the Nighthawks, the Mandated Punisher, and the Machinery Hivemind, but I don’t want to lose my freedom.”
Alger gave a low-sounding laugh, and said vaguely, “You can’t become a Beyonder without sacrifices. If you don’t consider joining churches and accepting their given challenges, you can only seek the royal families and the few nobles with family histories of more than a thousand years. If not, you can rely on your luck to search for clandestine evil organizations.”
Audrey puffed her cheeks subconsciously and looked around in a fluster. After confirming that both the “mysterious man” and Audrey did not notice her tic, she pressed, “Are there no other solutions?”
Alger sank into silence. About half a minute later, he turned around to look at the “mysterious man” who was watching the two of them in silence.
Realizing that Zhou Mingrui had no plans to make any comment, he looked back at Audrey and said with deliberation, “I have two sets of Sequence 9 Potion formulas.”
Sequence 9? Zhou Mingrui muttered to himself.
“Really? Which two sets?” Audrey clearly knew what the Sequence 9 Potion formulas meant.
Alger leaned back slightly, and replied unhurriedly, “As you know, humanity can only depend on potions to become real Beyonders, while the names of potions come from the ‘Blasphemy Slate.’ After constant translations into Jotun 1 , Elvish, ancient and modern Hermes, and ancient Feysac, they have undergone changes to match the day and age of that era. The essence is not in their names, but whether they portray the ‘core characteristics’ of the potions.
“I have a Sequence 9 Potion named ‘Sailor.’ It enables you to have excellent balancing capabilities. Even if you were on a boat in a rainstorm, you will be able to walk about freely as though you were on land. You will also gain immense strength and illusory scales under your skin. They will enable you to swim like a fish and be difficult to catch. You will move agilely underwater just like marine animals. Even without any equipment, you will be able to easily submerge underwater for at least ten minutes.”
“Sounds great… the ‘Keepers of the Seas’ from the Lord of Storms?”
“It was called by that name in the past.” Alger did not pause and continued. “The second set of Sequence 9 Potions is called ‘Spectator,’ although I am not sure what it was called in the past. This set of potions enables you to have an exceptionally sharp mind with acute observational abilities. I believe you can understand by what ‘spectator’ means from watching operas and plays. Just like an audience, spectators judge the ‘actors’ in the secular world, catching a glimpse of the real thoughts of them through their emotions, conduct, and mantras.”
At this point, Alger emphasized, “You must remember, regardless of whether you are at an extravagant banquet or a crowded street, spectators can only be spectators forever.”
Audrey’s eyes shone as she listened, and spoke after a long while, “Why? Alright, this is a follow-up question. I-I think I have fallen in love with this feeling—of being a ‘spectator.’ How can I get this potion’s formula? What can I use to trade with you for it?”
Alger looked like he was already prepared as he said in a deep voice, “The blood of Ghost Sharks, at least 100 milliliters of it.”
Audrey nodded her head excitedly, but subsequently asked worriedly, “If I can get it—and I’m saying if—how do I hand it to you? How can you promise me that you can give the potion’s formula to me in return for the Ghost Shark’s blood, as well as the authenticity of the formula?”
Alger said calmly, “I’ll give you an address. I’ll mail the formula to you, or tell you directly here, once I receive the blood of the Ghost Shark.”
“As for promises, I think that both you and I can feel rest assured under the witness of the mysterious sir.”
As he said this, he swept his eyes towards Zhou Mingrui who was sitting up straight at the Seat of Honor.
“Sir, the fact that you brought us here shows that you have tremendous strength unimaginable to us. Neither one of us would dare violate a promise with you as witness.”
“That’s right!” Audrey’s eyes sparkled and agreed with excitement.
From her perspective, the mysterious gentleman who had unimaginable abilities was definitely an “authoritative” witness.
How could I or the guy opposite me dare trick him!
Audrey half-turned her body and looked at Zhou Mingrui earnestly.
“Sir, please be the witness of our trade.”
At that moment, she then realized that she was all too impolite, having forgotten all along to ask a particular question. She asked hurriedly, “Sir, how should we address you?”
Alger nodded slightly, and echoed the same question in a serious manner, “Sir, how should we address you?”
Zhou Mingrui was taken aback. He gently rapped his fingers on the bronze table. The contents of the earlier divination flashed across his mind suddenly.
He leaned back, withdrew his right hand, and crossed his ten fingers, placing them below his chin. He gave the duo a faint smile.
“You can address me as…”
Upon saying this, he paused for a moment. He said amiably and calmly, “The Fool.” Language of Giants.
7 Code Names
“You can address me as The Fool.”
The simple answer soon emanated through the grand hall and dissipated into the fog. However, the voice kept resonating in Audrey’s and Alger’s hearts, stirring up one ripple after another.
They never expected such a designation, but they felt that he was deserving of it. The designation perfectly embodied his image as someone mysterious, powerful, and bizarre!
After a few seconds of silence, Audrey stood up, held up her skirt slightly and bent her knees, curtseying to Zhou Mingrui.
“Honorable Mr. Fool, would you please permit me to take the liberty of requesting you to be the witness of our trade?”
“It’s nothing.” Zhou Mingrui’s mind whirred as he answered in a way that matched his status.
“It’s our honor, Mr. Fool.” Alger stood up as well. He bent his back slightly with his right palm over his chest.
Zhou Mingrui lowered his right palm and smiled.
“Continue, the both of you.”
Alger nodded and sat back down before looking at Audrey.
“If you can obtain the Ghost Shark’s blood, get someone to send it to the Warrior & Sea Bar at Pelican Street, in the White Rose Borough of Pritz Harbor. Tell the boss, Williams, that it’s what the ‘Captain’ wants.
“Once I acknowledge receipt, will you be giving me an address to mail the potion formula to or do you want me to tell it to you here directly?”
Audrey thought for a moment before saying with a smile, “I will choose the more secure method. Let’s do it here, although it’s a test of my memory.”
Since Mr. Fool had agreed to bear witness for the trade, it also represented that there would be a similar ‘Gathering’ the next time.
With this in mind, she suddenly turned her head as she looked at Zhou Mingrui with sparkling eyes. With a tone of interest, she suggested, “Mr. Fool, would you mind making a few more ‘attempts’ like this?”
Alger listened to her suggestion calmly; he was tempted by the suggestion as well. He hurriedly echoed, “Mr. Fool, don’t you find such ‘Gatherings’ interesting? Although your powers exceed our imaginations, there has to be certain domains that you don’t understand or excel in. The person across me is obviously a young lady of lofty stature. I also have my unique set of experiences, insights, mediums, and resources. Perhaps there will come a day when both of us can help you complete something trivial that might be inconvenient for you.”
From his point of view, the fact that he had been pulled into this space without any warning or any means to resist meant that the mysterious Mr. Fool was in control. Participating in the ‘Gatherings’ was not necessarily something he could refuse. Therefore, it was better to reap the benefits of this encounter as much as he could to make up for his passive and disadvantaged state.
The trio at the long table had different backgrounds, resources, information channels, and comprehension of the mystical domain. If they interacted and enjoyed some limited cooperation, they could produce unpredictable and immeasurable effects!
The resource trade that had just been negotiated was one example. Another example would be if he wished to kill someone. He could easily request the Gathering’s members who did not appear to be related to him both on the surface and in reality for help. He could perfectly misdirect any investigators.
A young lady of lofty stature… Was my behavior and accent that obvious? Audrey stared blankly, mouth slightly agape, but she soon jolted back to her senses and nodded her head without any hesitation.
“Mr. Fool, I think it’s a very good suggestion. As long as this Gathering becomes regular, you can totally leave certain things that are inconvenient for you to us. Of course, it has to be something within our capacities.”
From the moment he heard the suggestion, Zhou Mingrui was already weighing the pros and cons. More gatherings definitely allowed him to gain more knowledge of the secrets of the Beyonders or other mysteries, a boon for his transmigration back. For example, it was likely that the potion formula would appear at the next gathering because of the ‘spectators.’ Similarly, the information he gained was bound to be helpful for his present life.
However, more gatherings meant it was easier to expose himself!
Indeed, regardless of the world, there is no such thing as a free lunch… Zhou Mingrui extended his right hand again as he rapped the side of the long table with his finger gently.
Considering the fact that he was in control of the gathering’s summoning and dismissal, any threat of exposure was within the confines of his control. The pros clearly exceeded the cons, so Zhou Mingrui rapidly made a decision.
He stopped his rapping as he smiled at the anticipative and perturbed gazes of the duo.
“I’m a person who likes a fair and equal exchange.
“Your help will not go unrewarded.
“Every Monday at three in the afternoon, try your best to be alone. After I make a few more attempts and figure out certain things, perhaps you can apply for a leave of absence ahead of time. You will no longer need to worry about being in inappropriate situations.”
This was a form of agreement to Alger’s and Audrey’s suggestions.
Audrey had just turned seventeen. Having been taken care of her entire life, she had the character of a young girl. Therefore, she could not help but clench her fist and gradually pump it in front of her chest when she heard The Fool’s reply.
Without waiting for Alger to say a word, Audrey said in excitement, her eyes glowing, “Then, shall we give ourselves code names? After all, we can’t use our real names for conversation.”
Although I might not be able to deceive Mr. Fool regarding my true identity, the person opposite me poses some danger. I must not let him know who I am!
“Good idea,” answered Zhou Mingrui in a simple and relaxed manner.
Audrey’s mind immediately began whirring as she aired her thoughts as they came to her.
“You are Mr. Fool which is derived from tarot cards. Then, as a fixed, long-term, and secretive ‘Gathering,’ we should be uniform in our designations. Yes, I’ll also choose one from the tarot cards.”
Her tone slowly turned joyous.
“I’ve decided. My designation shall be ‘Justice!’”
It was one of the twenty-two Major Arcana tarot cards.
“What about you, Mister?” Audrey cheekily smiled at her ‘partner’ sitting across her.
Alger frowned slightly before relaxing it immediately.
“The Hanged Man.”
It was another Major Arcana card.
“Alright, then we can be considered as the founding members of the Tarot Club!” Audrey was the first to blurt it out happily, only to look fearfully at the fog-concealed Zhou Mingrui. “Will that be alright, Mr. Fool?”
Zhou Mingrui shook his head in amusement.
“You can decide on such trivial matters by yourselves.”
“Thank you!” Audrey was clearly thrilled.
Following that, she looked at Alger.
“Mr. Hanged Man, can you repeat the address again once more? I’m afraid that my memories will fail me.”
“No problem.” Alger was very pleased with Audrey’s seriousness as he repeated the address once more.
After repeating it to herself silently thrice, Audrey said again in excitement, “I heard that tarot cards were invented by Emperor Roselle as a game. In fact, doesn’t it come equipped with the power to divine the future?”
“No. Most of the time, divination stems from one’s self. Everyone has something spiritual about themselves, allowing them to attune to the spiritual world and connect to information about themselves at an even higher level. However, ordinary folks are unable to notice this, much less be able to interpret the ‘signs’ they receive. This information will present itself with the help of divination tools. Let me raise a simple example, dreams and dream interpreters.” Alger took a glance at Zhou Mingrui and seeing no response from him, he refuted Audrey’s claim. “Tarot cards are, in fact, such a tool. It uses more symbolism and more logical elements to help us in conveniently and accurately interpreting the signs.”
Although Zhou Mingrui appeared indifferent, he was actually listening very carefully. It was only at this point that his empty mind slowly became heavy as his head began to feel a throbbing pain.
“Got it.” Audrey nodded in agreement. Following that, she emphasized, “That’s not what I meant. I’m not doubting the tarot cards, but I heard that Emperor Roselle had actually created another set of cards, secret and mysterious ones. They were paper cards which symbolized a particular unknown power. There was a total of twenty-two cards that he completed. Later on in life, he referenced them to create the twenty-two Major Arcana tarot cards which are used as a gaming tool. Was what I said correct?”
She looked at Zhou Mingrui as though she was attempting to get an answer from the mysterious Mr. Fool.
All Zhou Mingrui did was smile without saying a word. He cast his gaze at The Hanged Man as though he was putting him to the test.
Alger subconsciously straightened his back and said in a deep voice, “That’s right. It is said that Emperor Roselle had seen the Blasphemy Slate and that set of paper cards contain the profound mysteries of the twenty-two paths of the divine.”
“Twenty-two paths of the divine…” repeated Audrey with a longing tone.
At that moment, Zhou Mingrui’s headache intensified. He felt that his invisible connection with the crimson stars and grayish-white fog was beginning to falter.
“Alright, that will be all for today’s gathering,” he said in a deep voice after making the decision immediately.
“By your will.” Alger bowed his head respectfully.
“By your will.” Audrey mimicked The Hanged Man.
She still had many questions and thoughts; thus, she was unwilling to have it end so soon.
As Zhou Mingrui severed the connection, he said with a smile, “Let us look forward to the next gathering.”
The ‘stars’ brightened once more as the crimson light receded like water. Just as Audrey and Alger heard Mr. Fool’s words, their figures turned into a blur as they phased away.
In a second, the ‘projection’ shattered as the gray fog restored its silence.
As for Zhou Mingrui, he felt himself turning heavy rapidly. His surroundings turned fleeting as his eyes met darkness before changing into dazzling sunlight.
He was still standing in the middle of his apartment.
“It was like a dream… What the heck was that foggy world… Who or what sort of power created the changes that just happened…” Zhou Mingrui sighed softly. He was completely puzzled as he walked towards the study desk as though his legs were filled with lead.
He picked up the pocket watch he placed outside to determine how much time had passed.
“Time flowed at the same pace.” Zhou Mingrui made a rough judgment.
After putting down his pocket watch, he found himself unable to endure the splitting headache any further. He sat on the chair and lowered his head, using his left thumb and middle finger to massage his temples.
After a long while, he suddenly let out a sigh and said in Mandarin, “From the looks of it, I won’t be able to return any time soon…”
Only the clueless could be fearless. After witnessing such a fascinating event and learning the situation regarding Beyonders and the mysterious world, Zhou Mingrui no longer dared to rashly try the luck enhancement ritual using ancient Feysac or Loen language.
Who knew what other kinds of situation would happen. Perhaps, it would be more bizarre, horrifying, or even a living hell!
“At the very least, I should attempt only when I have a deep mastery of mysticism,” thought Zhou Mingrui helplessly.
Thankfully, the so-called Gathering could provide him with help.
After another bout of silence, he muttered to himself with a tone of dismay, disappointment, agony, and grief, “From this moment forth, I’m Klein.”
Klein tried his best to refocus his solutions and plans so as to purge the negative emotions in him.
Perhaps, he could learn the potion formula for ‘Spectator’ from the side…
The ‘Gathering’ that just happened sure is fascinating. People who reside in different places across the world can reduce hundreds of kilometers to just mere inches and discuss face-to-face while supplying each other’s needs. Uh, speaking of which, this does sound a little familiar…
Klein was stunned for a few seconds before he burst out in laughter. Pressing against his temple, he jested under his breath, “Wasn’t that a social networking platform?”
8 A New Era
Howling wind accompanied a downpour. The three-mast sailboat was tossed around by the crests and troughs of the incoming waves, as if it was being toyed by a giant.
The crimson glow in Alger Wilson’s eyes faded. He found himself still remaining on the deck and nothing appeared to have changed.
Almost immediately, the quirky-shaped glass bottle in his palm shattered and the frost within melted into the rain. In seconds, there were no longer any traces left that suggested the existence of the wondrous antique.
A hexagonal crystal-like snowflake emerged on Alger’s palm. It then faded rapidly until it was seemingly absorbed by the flesh, vanishing completely in the process. Alger nodded his head in a hardly noticeable manner, as if he was thinking about something. He remained still and silent for a full five minutes.
He turned around and headed for the cabin. As he was about to enter, a man who wore a similar robe embroidered with lightning patterns emerged from inside.
This man, who had soft blond hair, paused and looked at Alger. He held his right fist to his chest and said, “May the Storm be with you.”
Alger replied with the same words and gesture. There were no emotions on his rough face which had a well-defined structure.
Alger entered the cabin after the greeting and proceeded to the captain’s cabin situated at the far end of the corridor.
Surprisingly, he did not encounter any sailors on the way. The whole place was as quiet as a graveyard.
Behind the door to the captain’s cabin, a soft brown carpet overlaid the floor. A bookshelf and a wine rack took the opposite side walls of the room. The books with their yellowish covers and wine bottles with their dark red color looked peculiar under the flickering candlelight.
On the desk with the candle, there was a bottle of ink, a quill, a pair of black metallic telescope, and a sextant made of brass.
Behind the desk sat a pale middle-aged man wearing a captain’s hat which had a skull on it. As Alger approached him, he said menacingly, “I will not give in!”
“I believe you can do it,” Alger said calmly, so calm that it felt like he was commenting on the weather.
“You…” The man seemed to be stunned by the unexpected answer.
At this very moment, Alger leaned forward slightly and suddenly dashed across the room until they were only separated by the desk.
Alger tightened his shoulder and reached out his right hand to choke the man.
Illusory fish scales appeared on the back of his hand as he crazily mustered more strength to choke the man, giving him no time to respond.
Amid the crisp cracking sound, the man’s eyes widened as his body was lifted up.
His legs twitched furiously before they soon became motionless. His pupils began to widen as he stared aimlessly. There was a stench from between his legs as his pants gradually turned moist.
While lifting the man, Alger lowered his back and strode toward the wall.
Bang! He used the man as a shield and smashed forward at the wall. His extremely muscular arm was monstrous.
A hole cracked open in the wooden wall, and rain poured in, accompanied by the scent of the ocean.
Alger flung the man out of the cabin, straight into the giant waves that resembled mountains.
The wind continued to howl in the dark as almighty nature devoured everything.
Alger took out a white handkerchief and wiped his right hand carefully before throwing it into the sea as well.
He stepped back and waited patiently for company.
In less than ten seconds, the blond man from before rushed in and asked, “What happened?”
“The ‘captain’ has escaped,” Alger answered in an annoyed manner as he panted. “I didn’t know he still had some of his Beyonder powers.”
“Damn it!” the blond man cursed softly.
He went up to the opening and stared into the distance. However, nothing was visible except for the waves and the rain.
“Forget it, he was just extra loot,” the blond man said, waving his arm, “We will still be rewarded for finding this ghost ship from the Tudor Era.”
Even if he was a Keeper of the Sea, he would not have hastily dived into the sea under this weather condition.
“The ‘captain’ will not be able to survive much longer if the storm continues.” Alger said, as he nodded in approval. The wooden wall was repairing itself at a discernible rate.
He gazed at the wall and turned his head subconsciously towards the rudder and the sail.
He was perfectly aware of what was going on behind all the wooden planks.
The chief mate, the second mate, the crew, and the sailors were not present. There was no living person on board!
Amidst all the emptiness, the rudder and the sail moved eerily by themselves.
Alger again pictured “The Fool” who was covered in grayish-white fog and sighed.
He turned back and looked outside at the mighty waves and spoke as though in a reverie while filled with anticipation and awe, “A new era has begun…”
Empress Borough, Backlund, capital of the Loen Kingdom.
Audrey Hall pinched her cheeks in disbelief of her encounter a while ago.
On the dressing table in front of her, the old bronze mirror had shattered into pieces.
Audrey cast her gaze downwards and saw the swirling “crimson” on the back of her hand; it was like a tattoo depicting a star.
The “crimson” gradually faded and disappeared into her skin.
Only at this point in time was Audrey certain that it was not a dream.
Her eyes twinkled as she grinned. She could not help but stand up before bending down to lift up the hem of her dress.
She curtseyed towards thin air and started dancing lively. It was the “Ancient Elf Dance, “the most popular dance among royalty at the moment.
She had a bright smile on her face as she moved about gracefully.
Knock! Knock! Someone suddenly knocked at her bedroom door.
“Who is it?” Audrey immediately stopped her dance and asked as she tidied her dress to look more elegant.
“My Lady, may I come in? You should start to prepare for the ceremony,” Audrey’s maidservant asked from outside the door.
Audrey looked into a mirror on the dressing table and quickly wiped the smile from her face, leaving only a tiny hint of a smile.
She responded gently after she had ensured everything was presentable, “Come in.”
The doorknob turned and Annie, her maidservant, pushed in.
“Oh, it cracked…” Annie said as she instantly saw the outcome of the old bronze mirror.
Audrey blinked and said slowly, “Erm, Yes! Susie was here just now. I am sure you know she likes to wreak havoc!”
Susie was a golden retriever that was not so much of a purebred. It was a gift given to her father, Count Hall, when he bought a foxhound. Nevertheless, Audrey adored it.
“You should train it well,” Annie said, as she picked up the pieces of the bronze mirror adeptly and with care, lest it hurt her mistress.
As she finished tidying up, she asked Audrey with a smile, “Which dress do you want to put on?”
Audrey thought for a while and answered,” I like the dress designed by Mrs. Guinea for my 17th birthday.”
“No, you can’t wear the same dress twice to a formal ceremony or others will gossip about and question the Hall family’s financial ability,” Annie said, shaking her head in disagreement.
“But I really like it!” Audrey insisted in a gentle manner.
“You can wear it at home or when you attend an event that isn’t so formal,” Annie said firmly, suggesting that it was not negotiable.
“Then it will have to be the one with the lotus design along the sleeves given by Mr. Sades two days ago,” Audrey said as she drew in a gasp inconspicuously, maintaining her sweet smile.
“You always have such a good taste,” Annie said as she stepped back and shouted towards the door, “The sixth dressing room! Ah, forget it, I shall fetch it myself.”
Maidservants began to work. The dress, accessories, footwear, hat, makeup, and hairstyle—everything had to be taken care of.
When it was almost ready, Count Hall appeared at the door wearing a dark brown waistcoat.
He had a hat sharing the same color as his clothes and a nice mustache. His blue eyes were filled with joy, but his loosening muscles, widening waist, and wrinkles were obviously destroying his handsome youth.
“The brightest jewel of Backlund, it is time for our departure,” Count Hall said, knocking at the door twice.
“Father! Stop calling me that,” Audrey protested as she got up with the help of the maidservants.
“Well then, it’s time to set off, my beautiful little princess,” Count Hall said as he bent his left arm, signaling Audrey to hold his arm.
Audrey shook her head slightly and said, “That is for my mother, Mrs. Hall, the Countess.”
“Then this side,” Count Hall bent his right arm with a smile and said, “This is for you, my greatest pride.”
The Royal Navy base, Pritz Harbor, Oak Island.
When Audrey took her father’s arm and walked down the carriage, she was suddenly shocked by the juggernaut in front of her.
In the military port not far away, there was a huge ship shimmering with metallic reflections. It did not have a sail, leaving only an observatory deck, two towering chimneys, and two turrets at the ends of the ship.
It was so majestic and large that the fleet of sails nearby were like newborn dwarfs clustering around a giant.
“Holy Lord of Storms…”
“An ironclad warship!”
Amidst the furore, Audrey was also shocked by this unprecedented miracle created by mankind. It was an ocean miracle that had never been seen before!
It took a while for the aristocrats, ministers, and members of parliament to compose themselves. Then, a black spot on the sky started to grow in size until it occupied a third of the sky and entered everyone’s view. The atmosphere suddenly became solemn.
It was a gigantic flying machine with a beautiful streamlined design hovering in mid-air. The deep blue machine had airbags made of cotton which were supported by alloy structures that were strong but light. The alloy structure’s bottom had openings mounted with machine guns, projectile launchers, and muzzles. The exaggerated humming noise from the ignition steam engine and the tail blades produced a symphony that left everyone amazed.
The King’s family arrived on their airship, exuding a lofty and indisputable authority.
Two swords, each with a ruby crown at the handle, were pointing vertically down and reflected the sunlight on both sides of the cabin. They were the “Sword of Judgment” emblem which symbolized the Augustus family and has been passed down from the previous epoch.
Audrey was not yet eighteen, so she had not attended the “introductory ceremony,” which was an event led by the Empress that marked one’s debut into the Backlund social scene, to announce her adult status. Therefore, she could not be nearer to the airship and had to remain silent at the back to watch the entire event.
Nevertheless, it did not matter to her. In fact, she was relieved that she did not need to deal with the princes.
The ‘miracle’ that mankind used to conquer the sky touched down gently. The first ones to step down the stairs were the handsome young guards who wore red ceremonial uniforms with white trousers. Decorated with medals, they formed two lines with rifles in hand. They were awaiting the appearances of King George III, his queen, and the prince and princess.
Audrey was not new to meeting important people so she showed no interest at all. Instead, she had her attention on the two statue-like black-armored cavalry flanking the king.
In this era of iron, steam, and cannons, it was surprising that there was still someone who could bear wearing full armor.
The cold metallic luster and the dull black helmet conveyed solemnity and authority.
“Could they be the higher-order Disciplinary Paladins…” Audrey recalled snippets of a casual conversation among adults. She was curious but did not dare go close.
The ceremony commenced with the arrival of the king’s family. The incumbent Prime Minister, Lord Aguesid Negan, went up to the front.
He was a member of the Conservative Party and the second non-aristocrat to become the Prime Minister till this very day. He was given the title of a Lord for his great contributions.
Of course, Audrey knew more. The main supporter of the Conservative Party was the present Duke of Negan, Pallas Negan, who was the brother of Aguesid!
Aguesid was a slender and almost bald fifty plus year old man with a sharp gaze. He surveyed the area before speaking.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe you have witnessed this history-making ironclad warship. It has dimensions of 101 by 21 meters. It has an amazing port and starboard design. The armor belt is 457 millimeters thick. The displacement is 10060 tonnes. There are four 305-millimeter main cannons, six rapid-fire cannons, 12 six-pound cannons, 18 six-barrel machine guns, and four torpedo launchers. It can reach a speed of 16 knots!
“It will be the real hegemon! It will conquer the seas!”
The crowd was roused. The mere descriptions were enough to instill fearful images in them, let alone the fact that the actual thing was right in front of them.
Aguesid smiled and spoke a few more lines before saluting the king and requested, “Your Majesty, please give it a name!”
“Since it will set sail from Pritz Harbor, it should be named “The Pritz,” George III responded. His expression showed his delight.
The words spread from the Navy Minister and the Admiral of the Royal Navy to all the soldiers and officers on the deck. They all exclaimed in unison, “The Pritz!”
George III ordered the Pritz to set sail for a trial in the midst of the gun salutes and the celebratory atmosphere.
Thick smoke spewed out from the chimneys. The sound from the machinery could be heard faintly beneath the sound of the ship horn.
The juggernaut departed from the harbor. Everyone was shocked when the two main cannons at the ship’s bow fired at an uninhabited island in its path.
Boom! Boom! Boom!
The ground shook as dust shot up into the sky. Shock waves spread out, producing waves in the sea.
Satisfied, Aguesid turned back to the crowd and announced, “From this day on, doomsday will fall on the seven pirates who call themselves Admirals and the four who call themselves Kings. They can only shiver in fear!
“It is the end of their era. Only the ironclad warship will roam the seas no matter whether the pirates have the powers of the Beyonders, ghost ships, or cursed ships.”
Aguesid’s chief secretary deliberately asked, “Can’t they build their own ironclad warships?”
Some of the nobles and Members of Parliament nodded, feeling that such a possibility could not be eliminated.
Aguesid immediately smiled and shook his head slowly as he answered, “Impossible! It will never be possible! Building our ironclad warship required three big coal and steel amalgamators, a scale of more than twenty steel factories, 60 scientists and senior engineers from the Backlund Cannon Academy and Pritz Nautical Academy, two royal shipyards, almost hundred factories for spare parts, an Admiralty, a ship-building committee, a Cabinet, a determined king with excellent foresight, and a great country with an annual steel production of 12 million tonnes!
“The pirates will never achieve it.”
Having said that, he paused and raised his arms before shouting in agitation, “Ladies and Gentlemen, the era of cannons and warships has dawned upon us!”
9 The Notebook
After half an hour of rest, Zhou Mingrui, who now viewed himself as Klein, finally recovered. In the meantime, he found that there were now four black dots on the back of his hand, which happened to form a small square.
These four black spots faded and disappeared quickly, but Klein knew that they were still hiding in his body, waiting to be awakened.
“Four spots forming a square; is it in correspondence with the four pieces of staple food at the four corners of the room? Does this mean that in the future, I don’t need to prepare the food and can do the ritual and chants immediately?” Klein made a guess.
This might seem good, but the emergence of the spots was ominous, and “things” that one lacked understanding of were always scary.
The fact that those inexplicable Chinese Divinations from Earth could produce effects here, the strange transmigration in his sleep, the mysterious murmurings that almost drove him crazy during the ritual, and the mysterious and trippy gray world whose significance he had no idea of made Klein shiver in the hot weather of June.
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest fear is the fear of the unknown.” He recalled this saying as he was experiencing the fear of the unknown acutely.
There was in him an unprecedented and irresistible urge to make contact with the mysterious domain, to learn more, and to explore the unknown. There was also a contradicting escape mentality within him compelling him to pretend nothing had happened.
Intense sunlight shone through the window onto the desk. It was as if there were grains of gold sprinkled on the desk. Klein gazed at the desk, feeling as though he had come into contact with warmth and hope.
He relaxed slightly, and a strong sense of fatigue washed over him.
His eyelids were as heavy as lead as they kept closing themselves. It must have been the combined effect of the sleepless night and the tiring encounter.
Klein shook his head and pushed himself up with the aid of the desk. He stumbled towards the double-decked bed, completely disregarding the rye bread placed at the four corners of the room. He fell asleep immediately after he lay down.
Klein was woken up by hunger pangs. When he opened his eyes, he felt rejuvenated.
“There’s still a slight headache.” He rubbed his temples and sat up. He was so hungry that he could eat a horse!
He returned to the desk while straightening his shirt. He picked up the silver vine-leaf pocket watch.
The pocket watch’s lid sprang open and the second hand was ticking.
“Half past twelve. I slept for three hours…” Klein put the pocket watch back into his linen shirt pocket in while swallowing.
In the Northern Continent, there were 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour, and 60 seconds in a minute. Whether each second passed at the same rate here compared to Earth was unknown to Klein.
At this moment, he could not even think of terms such as mysticism, rituals or the grayish world. His mind was occupied by one thing—food!
He would leave the thinking to after his meals! Only then could he work!
Klein picked up the loaves of rye bread from the four corners and wiped off the minute specks of dust on it without any hesitation. He planned on making one of them his lunch.
He decided to dig into the offerings because he only had five pence with him and there was a tradition of eating the offerings back in his hometown. After all, there was not any observable change to the bread. It was better to be frugal.
Of course, the memory and habits left behind by the original Klein had also played a role.
It was a huge waste to use the expensive gas only to light up the room. So, Klein took out a furnace and boiled water with it after adding some coal. He paced around as he waited.
Anyone would choke eating those loaves of rye bread without water.
Yikes. Life with meat only for dinner is going to be dreadful… No, wait, this is already an exception. Melissa would only allow our meals to have meat twice a week if not for my upcoming interview, Klein thought, as he looked around, hungry. He had nothing better to do.
His eyes seemed to turn avaricious when he set his eyes on the pound of mutton in the cupboard.
No, I need to wait for Melissa to eat it together , Klein thought as he shook his head and rejected the idea of cooking half of it right now.
Although he often ate outside, he had still developed some basic culinary skills, owing to his living in a big city alone. His dishes were not delicious, but they were at least edible.
Klein turned his body around so that the mutton would not “seduce” him. Then, he suddenly realized that he had also bought peas and potatoes in the morning.
Potatoes! Klein immediately had an idea. He quickly turned back to the cupboard and took out two potatoes from a tiny pile of them.
He first cleaned the potatoes in the public bathroom and then added them into a pot so they were boiled together with the water.
After a while, he sprinkled into the water some yellow coarse salt from the spices container he found inside the cupboard.
He waited patiently for a few minutes before lifting the pot and pouring the “soup” into a few cups and a bowl. He took out the potatoes with a fork and placed them on the desk at the end.
He blew at the potato as he peeled it bit by bit. The fragrance of boiled potato diffused through the air. It smelled very appetizing.
He salivated crazily; the heat could not deter him any longer. Klein took a bite despite having the potato only half peeled.
How fragrant! It had a powdery texture and tasted sweet as he chewed. He was instantly filled with emotions and he wolfed down the two potatoes. He even ate some of the skin.
Then, he held up the bowl and enjoyed the ‘soup.’ The pinch of salt in water proved to be thirst-quenching.
I really enjoyed eating potatoes this way when I was young… A filled Klein exclaimed in his head. Meanwhile, he tore off a small piece of bread and dipped it into the ‘soup’ to eat it softened.
Perhaps the ritual was too tiring; Klein ate two loaves of bread which amounted to a whole pound.
Klein felt he was finally rejuvenated. He enjoyed the joy of life after he drank the ‘soup’ before tidying up. Then, he took in the lustrous sunshine happily.
He sat back at the desk and began planning.
“I can’t escape. I must think of a way to come into contact with mysticism and become a Beyonder as mentioned by Justice and The Hanged Man.
“I need to overcome the fear of the unknown.
“The only way now is to wait for the next ‘gathering.’ I need to try listen for the formula of the ‘Spectator’ potion or other things related to mysticism.”
“There are four more days before Monday. Before that, I need to first figure out the problem with Klein. Why did he commit suicide? What happened to him?”
Unable to transmigrate back and wash his hands of everything, Klein picked up the notebook that lay on the table. He wanted to find hints that could help him regain his lost memory fragments.
The original Klein obviously had the habit of taking notes. He also liked to write diaries.
Klein was fully aware that the cabinet that supported the desk on the right stored a whole stack of completed notebooks.
The book he had began on the 10th of May. Matters regarding his school, and mentor, as well as content pertaining to knowledge were at the beginning.
“12th May. Mr. Azik mentioned that the common language used by the Balam Empire in the Southern Continent also developed from Ancient Feysac, a branch of Jotun. Why is this so? Does this mean that every sentient living being once spoke the same language? No, there has to be a mistake. According to ‘The Revelation of Evernight’ and ‘The Book of Storms’, giants were not the only hegemons of the world in primordial times. There were also elves, mutants, and dragons. Anyways, these are just myths and fantasies.”
“16th May. Senior Associate Professor Cohen and Mr. Azik discussed the inevitability of the Age of Steam. Mr. Azik opined that it was just a coincidence because if it wasn’t for Emperor Roselle, the Northern Continent would still be wielding swords like the Southern Continent. Mentor argued that Mr. Azik had placed too much emphasis on the contribution of an individual. He believes that with progress, even if there wasn’t an Emperor Roselle, there would be an Emperor Robert. Therefore, the Age of Steam might come late, but eventually come nevertheless. I found little meaning in their discussion. I prefer discovering new things and unraveling the hidden past. Perhaps I am more suited to study archeology than history.”
“29th May. Welch found me and told me that he had acquired a notebook from the Fourth Epoch. Oh my Goddess! A notebook from the Fourth Epoch! He didn’t want to ask the archeology department’s students for help so he came to Naya and me to help him decode the contents. How can I refuse? Of course, I can only do it after my graduation defense. I can’t afford diverting my attention at this stage.”
This caught Klein’s attention. Compared to the notes about history and viewpoint disagreements, the appearance of a notebook from the Fourth Epoch might have led to Klein’s suicide.
The Fourth Epoch was the epoch before the present “Iron Age.” Its history was mysterious and incomplete. Due to the fact that very few tombs, ancient cities, and records had been found, archaeologists and historians could only refer to the ambiguous records provided by the seven major Churches that centered around their religious teachings to roughly form the ‘original’ picture. They knew the existence of the Solomon Empire, the Tudor Dynasty, and the Trunsoest Empire.
Having set his sights on solving the mystery and restoring history, Klein didn’t have much interest in the first three eras, whose roots were closer to legends. He was more interested in the Fourth Epoch, also known as the Age of the Gods.
“Hmm, so Klein was concerned for his future career and thus focused on the interview. But it was all futile…” Klein could not resist exclaiming.
Universities were still very scarce and the majority of students were either from noble or wealthy families. As long as he did not have an extreme mindset, a commoner who had been admitted into university would have been able to build precious social connections through group discussions and networking events despite the prejudice and exclusion from the entrenched social circles.
The very generous Welch McGovern was an example. He was the son of a banker from Constant City, Midseashire, Loen Kingdom. He was used to asking Naya and Klein for help because they were always in the same group for work.
Without thinking further, Klein continued reading the notebook.
“18th June. I have graduated. Farewell, Khoy University!”
“19th June. I have seen the notebook. By comparing sentence structures and root words, I discovered that it is a modified form of ancient Feysac. More precisely, over the course of its thousand-year history, the Feysac language had changed constantly, a little at a time.”
“20th June. We have deciphered the contents of the first page. The author was a member of a family called Antigonus.”
“21st June. He mentioned the Dark Emperor. This is anachronistic with regards to the time this notebook is deduced to be written. Is Professor wrong? Is ‘Dark Emperor’ a common title for every emperor of the Solomon Empire?”
“22nd June. The Antigonus family apparently had a very high standing in the Solomon Empire. The author mentions that he was making a secret transaction with a person named Tudor. Tudor? Is it related to the Tudor Dynasty?”
“23rd June. I am trying to restrain myself from thinking about the notebook and going to Welch’s place. I need to prepare for the interview! It’s very important!”
“24th June. Naya tells me that they have found something new. I think I need to check it out.”
“25th June. From the new deciphered content, the author had accepted a mission to visit the ‘Nation of the Evernight’ situated at the summit of the highest peak of the Hornacis mountain range. Oh my Goddess! How can a nation exist at the summit of that peak which is over 6000 meters above sea level? How do they survive?”
“26th June. Are these strange things real?”
The record ended at this point. Zhou Mingrui transmigrated in the early hours of the 28th.
“Which means to say that there was indeed an entry for June 27th, it’s that line… Everyone will die, including me…” Klein flipped to the page he first saw when he arrived, feeling goosebumps while he made the deduction.
In order to solve the mystery of the original Klein’s suicide, he thought that he should visit Welch and take a look at the ancient notebook. However, with a lot of experience from novels, movies, and TV drama series, he suspected that if they were really related, this visit would be very dangerous—those who went investigating castles despite knowing that they were haunted served as a warning!
However, he had to go since escaping would never solve the problem. It would only make things worse, until it welled over and completely drowned him!
Perhaps call the police? But claiming to have committed suicide would be silly, right…
There was a series of quick and forceful knocks.
Klein sat straight up and listened.
The knocks echoed through the empty hallway.
10 The Norm
“Who is it?”
Klein was thinking about the mysterious suicide of the original owner of this body and the unknown danger he might encounter when he heard the sudden knock on the door. He subconsciously opened the drawer, took out the revolver, and asked vigilantly.
The other party was quiet for two seconds before a slightly sharp voice, in Awwa’s accent, replied, “It’s me, Mountbatten, Bitsch Mountbatten.”
The voice paused for a moment before adding, “Police.”
Bitsch Mountbatten… When Klein heard this name, he immediately thought of the owner of this name.
He was the policeman in charge of the street where the apartment was located. He was a rude, brutal, hands-on man. But perhaps, only such a man could be a deterrent for alcoholics, thieves, part-time thieves, villains, and hooligans.
And his unique voice was one of his trademarks.
“Okay, I’ll be right there!” Klein responded loudly.
He had planned to put the revolver back into the drawer but thinking that he had no idea why the police was outside and that they might search the room or do other things, he cautiously ran to the stove where the flames had already been extinguished and put the revolver in it.
Then he picked up the coal basket, shook a few pieces into the stove, covered the gun, and finally placed the kettle over the stove to conceal everything.
After doing all of that, he tidied up his clothes and quickly approached the door and murmured, “Sorry, I just had a nap.”
Outside the door stood four policemen in black-and-white checkered uniforms with peak caps. Bitsch Mountbatten, the one with a brown beard, coughed and said to Klein, “These three inspectors have something to ask you.”
Inspectors? Klein looked at the shoulder badges of the other three reflexively and found that two of them had three silver hexagons and one had two, both of which looked superior to Bitsch Mountbatten, who had only three chevrons.
As a history student, Klein did little to no research into the ranks of police epaulets, except that Bitsch Mountbatten often boasted of being a senior sergeant.
So these three are inspectors? Influenced by conversations with Benson, Welch, and his classmates, Klein had the common sense to make way and point into the room.
“Please come in. How might I help you?”
The leader of the three inspectors was a middle-aged man with sharp eyes. He seemed to be able to read the mind of a person and make them fearful. His eyes were wrinkled, and the edge of his hat revealed light brown hair. He looked around the room and asked in a deep voice, “Do you know Welch McGovern?”
“What’s wrong with him?” Klein quivered and blurted back.
“I’m the one asking the questions.” The dignified middle-aged police inspector had a stern look in his eyes.
The inspector next to him, also wearing three silver hexagons, looked at Klein and smiled gently.
“Don’t be nervous. It’s just a routine questioning.”
This policeman was in his thirties, with a straight nose and gray eyes that, like a lake in an ancient forest that no one visited, gave him an indescribable sense of depth.
Klein took a breath and organized his words.
“If you mean Welch McGovern, the graduate of Khoy University from Constant, then I’m sure I know him. We are classmates with the same mentor, Senior Associate Professor Quentin Cohen.”
In the Loen Kingdom, “Professor” was not only a professional title, but also a position, just like the combination of professors and department deans on Earth. That meant there could only be one professor in a university’s department. If an associate professor wanted to become professor, they had to wait for their superior to retire, or force out their superior with their abilities.
As talents needed to be retained, the kingdom’s Higher Education Commission had added senior associate professors in the three-level system of lecturers, associate professors and professors after years of observation. This title was given to anyone with high academic achievements or with enough seniority but did not make it to the position of professor.
At this point, Klein looked into the eyes of the middle-aged police inspector and thought for a second.
“To be honest, our relationship is quite good. During this period, I met with him and Naya frequently to interpret and discuss the Fourth Epoch notebook that belonged to him. Inspectors, did something happen to him?”
Instead of answering, the middle-aged police inspector looked sideways at his gray-eyed colleague.
The inspector with the peak cap and ordinary looks replied mildly, “I’m sorry, Mr. Welch has passed away.”
“WHAT?” Despite having some hunches, Klein could not help but shout out in astonishment.
Welch died just like the original owner of this body?
That is a little scary!
“What about Naya?” Klein questioned hurriedly.
“Ms. Naya passed away too,” the gray-eyed police inspector said quite calmly. “Both of them died in Mr. Welch’s house.”
“Killed?” Klein had a vague guess.
Perhaps it was suicide…
The gray-eyed inspector shook his head.
“No, the scene suggests that they committed suicide. Mr. Welch hit the wall with his head many times, covering the wall with blood. Ms. Naya drowned herself in a basin. Yes, the kind used to wash your face.”
“That’s impossible…” Klein’s hairs stood on their ends as he seemed capable of imagining the strange scene.
A girl kneeling on a chair and burying her face into a basin filled with water. Her soft brown hair swaying in the wind, but her entire person remaining motionless. Welch falling to the ground and staring at the ceiling intently. His forehead in a complete blood-mangled mess, while the traces of the impact on the wall were evident the with dripping of blood…
The gray-eyed inspector continued, “We believe so too, but the autopsy results and the situation at the scene exclude factors such as drugs and external forces. They—being Mr. Welch and Ms. Naya—showed no signs of struggling.”
Before Klein could speak again, he stepped into the room and asked, pretending to be casual, “When was the last time you saw Mr. Welch or Ms. Naya?”
As he spoke, he gestured with his eyes to his colleague with two silver hexagons.
He was a young police inspector and looked about the same age as Klein. With black sideburns and green pupils, he was good looking and had a poet’s romantic temperament.
When he heard the question, Klein thought about it and answered it thoughtfully, “It should be June 26th, we were reading a new chapter in the notes. Then, I went home to prepare for my interview on June 30th. Uh, the interview was for the History Department of Tingen University.”
Tingen was known as the city of universities. There were two universities, Tingen and Khoy, as well as technical schools, law colleges and business colleges. It was second only to Backlund, the capital.
As soon as he finished, he saw the young police inspector walk towards his desk in the corner of his eye and pick up the notes which resembled more of a diary.
Damn! I forgot to hide it!
“Hey!” Klein cried out.
The young inspector smiled back at him, but did not stop flipping through his notes, while the gray-eyed inspector explained, “This is a necessary procedure.”
At this time, Bitsch Mountbatten and the dignified middle-aged police inspectors were just watching without interrupting or assisting in the search.
Where are your search warrants? Klein had intended to question them, but on second thought, the judicial system of the Loen Kingdom did not seem to have such a thing as search warrants. At least he did not know if there was one. After all, the police force had only been established for fifteen or sixteen years.
When the original owner of this body was still a child, they were still called Public Security Officers.
Klein couldn’t stop it. He watched the young inspector flip through his notes, but the gray-eyed inspector did not ask any questions.
“What is this strange thing?” The young police inspector turned to the end of the notes and suddenly asked, “And what does this mean? ‘Everyone will die, including me’…”
Isn’t it common sense that everyone dies except for deities? Klein was prepared to quibble, but it suddenly occurred to him that he had planned to “connect” with the police in case of possible danger, but he had no reasons or excuses.
He made a decision in less than a second. Putting his hand over his forehead, he answered painfully, “I have no idea. I really have no idea… When I woke up this morning, I felt I wasn’t quite right, as if I had forgotten something. It’s especially true for whatever happened recently. I don’t even know why I had written such a sentence.”
Sometimes, being frank was the best way to solve a problem. Of course, it required skills. There were things that could be said and could not be said, and the order of what was said first mattered.
As an expert keyboard warrior, Klein was also good at sophistry.
“That is ridiculous! Do you think we are fools?” Bitsch Mountbatten could not help but interject angrily.
This is such a bad lie that it insults the intelligence of his and his colleagues!
It’s better for you to pretend to be mentally ill than to pretend to be an amnesiac!
“I’m speaking the truth,” Klein responded frankly, looking into the eyes of Mountbatten and middle-aged police inspectors.
It really could not be more true.
“Maybe it is,” the gray-eyed police inspector said slowly.
What? He really believed it? Klein was surprised himself.
The gray-eyed inspector smiled at him and said, “An expert will come in two days and believe me, she should be able to help you to recall your lost memories.”
Expert? Help me remember my memories? In the field of psychology? Klein frowned.
Hey, what if his memories of Earth were exposed? He suddenly felt like facepalming himself.
The young police inspector put down his notes and searched his desk and room. Fortunately, he focused on books instead of lifting the kettle.
“Well, Mr. Klein, thank you for your cooperation. We advise that you’d better not leave Tingen for the coming days. If you have to, please notify Inspector Mountbatten, or you’ll become a fugitive,” the gray-eyed police inspector warned.
That’s it? That’s it for today? No other questions with deeper investigations? Or taking me back to the police station to torture me for information? Klein was at a loss.
Nevertheless, he wanted to solve the odd turn of events brought about by Welch too. So he nodded.
“That wouldn’t be an issue.”
The inspectors exited the room one by one, and the young man at the end suddenly patted Klein on the shoulder.
“It’s really nice. Very lucky.”
“What?” Klein’s face was puzzled.
The green-eyed police inspector with a poet’s temperament smiled and said, “Generally speaking, the norm is for all the involved parties to die in such an event. We are very glad and fortunate to see you still alive.”
After that, he exited the room and closed the door behind him in well-mannered manner.
The norm is for everyone to die together? Very glad that I’m still alive? Fortunate that I’m still alive?
On this June afternoon, Klein was chilling all over.