16 Rat-baiting With Dogs

Phew, I finally got through the round with the medium…

Klein let out a foul breath. He slowly turned around and enjoyed the cool breeze and tranquility of the night while walking closer and closer to the apartment building’s door.

He took out his keys, inserted the correct one in and turned it gently, allowing the crimson-mixed darkness to expand with the creaking sound of the opened door.

Walking on the staircase without a single person in sight and taking in the cold air, Klein had an inexplicable and amazing feeling. It felt like he had a few more hours than others. This caused him to hasten his pace.

In a similar state of mind, he opened the door to his room and before he even stepped inside, he saw a silhouette sitting silently in front of his desk. It had reddish black hair, bright brown eyes, and a delicate, pretty face. Undoubtedly, she was Melissa Moretti!

“Klein, where did you go?” Melissa asked curiously as she relaxed her eyebrows.

Without waiting for Klein’s reply, she added, “Just now, I got up to go to the bathroom and realized you weren’t home.” It was as if she wanted to know everything clearly, from the causes and effects of the matter to the underlying logic.

With great experience at lying to his parents, Klein’s brain took a spin before he gave a bitter smile and calmly replied, “I couldn’t fall asleep again after I woke up. Instead of wasting time, I decided that I should train my body. So I went out to run a few rounds. Look at my sweat!”

He took off his jacket and half-turned his body, pointing to his back.

Melissa stood up, took a glance half-heartedly and deliberated for a few moments before saying, “Honestly speaking, Klein, you don’t have to stress yourself out. I’m sure you can pass the interview to Tingen University. Even if you can’t, er—I mean if —you can still find better ones.”

I haven’t even thought about the interview… Klein nodded his head and said, “I understand.”

He did not mention the “offer” that he had gotten because he had not decided whether he wanted to join them or not.

Staring at Klein intensely, Melissa suddenly turned around and trotted into the interior of the house. She took out an object that resembled a tortoise. It was comprised of items like gears, rusted iron, torsion springs and ordinary springs.

After quickly tightening the torsion spring, Melissa placed the object on the desk.

Ka! Ka! Ka!

Dum! Dum! Dum!

The “tortoise” moved and jumped with a rhythm that could pull anyone’s attention.

“Whenever I feel irritated, I feel much better seeing it move. I’ve been doing this very often recently and it’s very effective! Klein, give it a try!” invited Melissa as her eyes brightened.

Klein did not turn down his sister’s goodwill. He approached the “tortoise” and waited for it to stop before laughing. He said, “Simplicity and regularity can indeed help relaxation.”

Without waiting for Melissa’s reply, Klein pointed to the “tortoise” and casually asked, “Did you make this yourself? When did you make this? Why wasn’t I aware of it?”

“I made use of unwanted materials from school and things picked up from the streets to make this. It was only finished two days ago,” Melissa said in her usual tone, the side of her lips upturned a few more degrees.

“That’s impressive,” Klein praised sincerely.

As a boy with poor skills in machine assembly, he encountered great difficulties even assembling a four-wheel toy car as a child.

With her chin slightly raised and her eyes slightly bent, Melissa calmly replied, “It was okay.”

“Being overly humble is a bad trait,” Klein smiled slightly and continued, “This is a tortoise, right?”

Instantly, the atmosphere in the room took a great plunge, leaving behind an air of graveness for a while. Then, Melissa faintly replied with a voice that seemed enigmatic like the crimson veil, “It’s a puppet.”

Puppet…

Klein gave an awkward smile, and tried to forcefully explain, “The problem lies in the materials, they’re too rudimentary.”

Following that, he tried to change the topic and said, “Why would you go to the bathroom in the middle of the night? Isn’t there a toilet here? Don’t you always sleep till dawn?”

Melissa was taken aback momentarily.

It was only after a few seconds, before she opened her mouth, prepared to explain.

At that moment, an intense sound of digestion sounded from her thoracoabdominal 1 area.

“I-I’ll go get some more sleep!”

Bang! She grabbed her tortoise-like “puppet”, trotted to the interior of the house, and closed the door to her room.

Last night’s dinner was too good, she ate too much and now her stomach is having trouble digesting it… Klein shook his head as he smiled, slowly walking towards his desk. He sat down soundlessly, silently pondering Dunn Smith’s invitation as the crimson red moon emerged from behind the dark clouds.

Being a Nighthawk civilian staff member had its apparent disadvantages.

With me being a transmigrator, “The Fool”—initiator of the mysterious Gathering—and the multiple secrets I have, it will be risky to be under the noses of the Church of the Evernight Goddess’s team that specializes in dealing with matters regarding the Beyonders.

As long as I join Dunn Smith and his team, I would certainly aim to become a Beyonder. I could then cover up the benefits gained from the Gathering.

Yet, becoming a formal member would entail many restrictions on my freedom, like how a civilian staff has to report his leaving of Tingen. No longer would I be able to go wherever I want or do whatever I want. I would miss many opportunities.

The Nighthawks are a strict organization. Once a mission is given, I can only wait for the arrangements and accept orders. There is no room for rejection.

Beyonders have the risk of losing control.

Having all the disadvantages listed out one by one, Klein turned to considering the necessities and advantages:

Judging from the situation of the luck enhancement ritual, I’m not one of the eighty percent of lucky people. In the future, there is bound to be some bizarre event happening to me, increasing the dangers I face.

Only by becoming one of the Beyonders or by joining the Nighthawks can I be equipped with the ability to resist.

The wish to become a Beyonder cannot be solely reliant on the Gathering. The potion formula is not a major problem, but where can I find the corresponding materials? How am I to obtain and concoct them?

Not forgetting the nous of daily practice, I’m faced with serious obstacles! It is just not possible for me to consult Justice and The Hanged Man on every matter and exchange every object with them. This would not only hurt the image of The Fool and arouse their suspicions, but there will also be inadequate time to communicate on such trivial issues.

Similarly, I am unable to produce anything that can pique their interest.

Besides, more materials would more often than not leave behind the trail of my real identity. Then, “online disputes” would effectively be transformed into “offline conflicts,” bringing about immense troubles.

By joining the Nighthawks, there would definitely be contact with the common knowledge of the world of mystery and relevant channels. This can sufficiently accumulate into a corresponding social circle and can be used as leverage. Only then can I initiate the Gathering and in turn gain the greatest benefits from Justice and The Hanged Man. In reality, the gains can feedback into reality, allowing me to obtain more resources and form a virtuous cycle.

Of course, I could also go to an organization that is suppressed by the various Churches such as the Psychology Alchemists mentioned by Dunn and join them.

Yet I’ll also lose my freedom, and be in a constant state of fear and anxiety. However, more importantly, I have no idea where to look for them. Even if I manage to gain the corresponding information from The Hanged Man, such rash contact with them could endanger my life.

Becoming a civilian staff leaves opportunity for a buffer and exit.

The inferior recluse hides away in the wild; the superior, the crowd. Perhaps the identity as a Nighthawk can be a better cover.

In the future, when I become one of the top authorities of the tribunal, who would imagine that I am a heretic, the head of the secret organization who is working behind the scenes?

As the first rays of the morning sun shone, the crimson disappeared. Gazing at the golden light on the horizons of the sky, Klein made up his mind.

He would find Dunn Smith today and become part of the Nighthawk’s civilian staff!

At this moment, Melissa, who had gotten out of bed again, had pushed open the door to the room. She was surprised to see her brother stretching in an unglamorous manner. “You didn’t sleep?”

“I was thinking through some things.” Klein smiled, feeling relaxed.

Melissa thought for a moment and said, “Whenever I encounter problems, I’ll list out both the pros and cons one by one and compare them. After that, I would be able to get a hint of what I should do next.”

“That’s a good habit. I did that too,” Klein smiled and replied.

Melissa’s countenance was relaxed, and she did not add more. Holding a yellowish sheet of paper and her toiletries, she headed to the bathroom.

Not in a hurry to leave after he finished his breakfast and his sister’s departure, Klein took a good nap. Based on what he knew, nearly all the pubs were closed in the morning.

At two o’clock in the afternoon, he smoothed the pleats of his silk hat and handkerchief using a small brush. He also removed the dirt to reestablish the tidiness.

Thereafter, he wore a suit of formal clothing, just like he was going for an interview.

Besik Street was a little far, and Klein was afraid that he would miss the “working hours” of the Nighthawk. Therefore, he did not walk there, but instead waited for public horse carriage at Iron Cross Street.

In the Loen Kingdom, public horse carriages were placed under two categories—without track and with track.

The former consisted of a carriage drawn by two horses and could sit approximately 20 people while taking into account the top of the carriage. Only a general route existed, without specific stations. It had flexible operations and could be hailed anywhere unless it was full.

The latter was operated by the Orbital Carriage Company. First, a rail-like service device was laid on the main street. The horses would move on the inner lane while the wheels ran on the tracks, making it easier and more labor-saving. This could thus pull a bigger double-decker carriage that sat nearly fifty passengers.

However, the only problem was that the route and stations were fixed, making many places inaccessible.

After ten minutes, the sound of the wheels hitting the tracks approached from a distance. A double-decker horse carriage stopped in front of the station at Iron Cross Street.

“To Besik Street,” Klein said to the carriage driver.

“You have to transfer at Champagne Street but when you get there, it takes about ten minutes to walk to Besik Street,” explained the carriage driver to Klein, with regards to the route.

“Let’s go to Champagne Street then.” Klein nodded in approval.

“It’s more than four kilometers, four pence”, said a young man with a fair and clean face, as he extended his hand.

He was a worker responsible for money collection.

“Okay.” Klein fished out four copper coins from his pocket and handed it to the other party.

He walked up to the carriage and found that there were not many passengers. Even on the first floor, there were a few empty seats.

“I only have three pence on me now, so I can only walk when I go back…” Klein pressed his hat down and sat down firmly.

On this floor, the men and women were mostly well-dressed although there were a few clothed in their work clothes, leisurely reading newspapers. Almost no one spoke, and it was quite quiet.

Klein shut his eyes and recharged his strength, oblivious to the coming and going of passengers around him.

Station after station passed until he finally heard the few words “Champagne Street.”

After alighting the horse carriage, he inquired along the way and soon reached Besik Street, where he saw the pub with the brownish-yellow hound logo.

Klein reached out his right hand and gave a forceful push. The heavy door gradually opened, inundating him with a wave of uproarious noises and an impetuous heat wave.

Although it was still afternoon, there were already many customers in the pub. Some were temporary workers, looking for opportunities here, waiting to be hired. Others were simply idling around, numbing themselves with alcohol.

The pub was dimly lit. In the center, there were two large iron cages with a third of its bottom sinking deep into the ground without any gaps.

People held wooden wine cups and surrounded it, sometimes discussing loudly while laughing, sometimes cursing loudly.

Giving a curious glance, Klein found two dogs caged inside. One was black and white, similar to the husky found on Earth. The other was wholly black, with shiny fur, making it look healthy and fierce.

“Do you want to bet? Doug has won eight games in a row!” said a little man wearing a brown beret, as he neared Klein and pointed to the black dog.

Bet? Taken aback at first, Klein regained his senses immediately.

“Dog-fighting?”

When he was at Khoy University, those aristocratic and wealthy students would always ask him contemptuously and curiously, if the boorish workers and unemployed hooligans enjoyed participating in boxing and gambling at the pubs.

Besides being able to gamble on boxing and card games, didn’t it also include cruel and bloody activities like cock-fighting, dog-fighting, and others?

The short man smirked. “Mister, we’re civilized people. We don’t engage in such unglamorous activities.”

Having said that, he whispered, “Besides, laws were introduced to ban these things last year…”

“Then what are y’all betting on?” asked Klein curiously.

“The better hunter.” Just as the short man finished his sentence, a resounding cacophony sounded.

He turned his head, waved his hands excitedly, and said, “You can’t place a bet for this round as it has started, wait for the next one then.”

Upon hearing that, Klein tipped his toes, lifted his head, and looked as far as he could.

He saw two strong men each dragging a sack, coming to the side of the iron cage and opening the “prison door.” They then dumped the contents of the sack into the cage.

There were gray and disgusting animals!

Klein tried to identify them carefully before realizing that they were rats. Hundreds of rats!

As the iron cage was deep underground without any gaps, the rats moved in all directions but could not find a way out.

Right then, just as the door of the cage was closed, the chain of the two dogs were untied.

“Woof!” The black dog pounced ahead and killed a rat in one bite.

The black-and-white dog was dazed at first before it started playing excitedly with the rats.

The surrounding people either raised their wine cups and intensified their gaze or shouted loudly, “Bite it! Kill it!”

“Doug, Doug!”

Motherf**king rat-baiting with dogs 2 … Klein regained his senses and the corner of his mouth twitched unceasingly.

The objective of the gamble is to determine which dog can catch more rats…

Perhaps, one can even bet on the specific number of rats caught…

No wonder there were people purchasing live rats at Iron Cross Street…

That’s really unique…

Klein shook his head, laughing as he backtracked, and circled along the edge of the alcoholic customers, and reached the front of the bar.

“New here?” said the bartender as he spared Klein a glance while wiping the cups. He continued, “One cup of rye beer is a penny. Enmat beer, costs two pence. Four pence for Southville beer, or do you want a cup of purely brewed malt Lanti?”

“I came here for Mr. Wright,” said Klein directly and bluntly.

The bartender whistled and shouted to the side, “Old Man, someone is looking for you.”

“Oh, who…” A vague voice sounded, and an intoxicated old man stood up from behind the bar.

He rubbed his eyes, shifted his gaze to Klein and asked, “Lad, were you looking for me?”

“Mr. Wright, I would like to hire a small mercenary squad for a mission,” replied Klein, according to what Dunn had instructed.

“A small mercenary squad? Are you living in an adventure story? This hasn’t been around for a long time!” the bartender interrupted and smiled.

Wright went silent for a few second before saying, “Who told you to look for it here?”

“Dunn. Dunn Smith,” replied Klein in all honesty.

Instantly, Wright broke out in a chuckle and replied, “I see. Actually, the small mercenary squad still exists. It’s just in another form, with a more contemporary name. You can find it on the second floor of No. 36 Zouteland Street.”

“Thank you,” thanked Klein sincerely before he turned and squeezed out of the pub.

Before he went out the pub, the alcoholic customers who surrounded him suddenly quieted down, as they murmured, “Doug was actually defeated…”

“Defeated…”

Klein smiled and shook his head. Then he left quickly and found his way to the nearby Zoeterland Street after asking around.

“30, 32, 34… Here,” he counted the house numbers and walked into the stairwell.

Going around the corner and slowly climbing up the stairs, he saw the vertical sign with the current name of the so-called small mercenary squad.

“Blackthorn Security Company.” Areas relating or affecting the thorax and abdomen Note, this is not an invention of the author, but an actual legal blood sport known as rat-baiting back in the Victorian era.

17 Special Operations Departmen

“Blackthorn Security Company.”

Upon seeing the signboard, Klein felt surprised yet found it reasonable.

Man… what do I say about this… He shook his head and laughed before walking up the steps and knocking gently on the half-closed door with his right hand.

Knock! Knock! Knock!

The sound echoed slowly but rhythmically, but there was no response; only a faint sputtering sound could be heard.

Knock! Knock! Knock!

Klein repeated, only to be met with the same outcome.

He switched to pushing the door, making the gap larger as he stared inside—a classic sofa which might have been for serving guests, a soft fabric armchair, and a burly wood coffee table. There was a girl with brown hair behind a table right across with her head drooped.

Even though “Security Company” is just a guise, isn’t this just… just too “unprofessional?” How long has this place been out of business? Right, you guys don’t need any business… Klein drew closer as he complained silently and knocked on the table just beside the girl’s ear.

Knock! Knock!

The brown-haired girl sat up immediately and swiftly took the newspaper in front of her, covering her face.

Tingen City Honest Paper… Nice name… Klein silently read the title of the page facing him.

“The steam train service ‘Soaring Express’ that directly reaches Constant City is starting operations today… Oh come on, when will there be one that goes straight to Brindisi Bay. I really don’t want to take the ship there again, it’s too awful, really awful… Hey, who are you?” The girl with brown hair read pretentiously and gave her opinion. As she spoke, she lowered the newspaper and revealed her bright forehead and light-brown eyes, looking at Klein with a fawning and startled look.

“Hello, I am Klein Moretti, and I am here at the invitation of Dunn Smith,” Klein said as he took down his hat to his chest and bowed slightly.

The brown-haired girl looked to be in her early twenties. She wore a light green, Loen-styled dress. She was set off with beautiful laces on her sleeves, collar, and chest.

“The Captain… alright, wait here for a moment. I’ll go get him.” The girl scurried up and went into the room beside her.

She didn’t even serve a cup of water or anything… The level of service awareness is worrying… Klein smiled faintly as he waited at his spot.

After two to three minutes, the brown-haired girl opened the door and came out. She said with a sweet smile, “Mr. Moretti, please follow me. The Captain is on watch at the ‘Chanis Gate’ and is unable to leave at the moment.”

“Okay.” Klein quickly followed behind. In his mind, he pondered to himself.

Chanis Gate, what could that be?

Going through the partition, the first thing he saw was a small corridor, with only three offices on each side.

Some of these offices were locked tight, while some were opened, revealing someone on the inside who typed non-stop on a heavy mechanical typewriter.

At a glance, Klein noticed a familiar figure: the young officer that had investigated his apartment, the one with the black hair and blue eye and romantic vibe of a poet.

He was not in official wear; his white collared shirt was not tucked in, making for quite an unruly appearance.

Perhaps he really is a poet… Klein nodded in greeting and was greeted with a smile.

The brown-haired girl pushed opened the left office door at the end of the room and pointed inside, chirping, “We still have to go down a few levels.”

This office had no furniture in place, only a grayish-white stone staircase that extended downwards.

The two sides of the stairs were lit up by gas lamps. The stable glow dispelled the darkness and gave a sense of harmony.

The brown-haired girl walked in front, staring at her feet while walking carefully.

“Although I walk here often, I am still constantly afraid of falling down, tumbling down like a barrel. You don’t know, Leonard did such a folly. On the first day of becoming a ‘Sleepless’—the first day where he had not mastered his new powers—he tried to rush down the flight of stairs. And-and he became a cartwheel. Haha, it was hilarious if you think about it. Oh yes, it was the guy that greeted you just now. This was about three years ago. Speaking of which, I have been with the Nighthawks for five years; I was only seventeen when I joined…”

The girl watched her steps as she spoke. Suddenly, she smacked her forehead and said, “I forgot to introduce myself! I’m Rozanne. My father was a member of the Nighthawks, who sacrificed himself in an accident five years ago. I suppose we are colleagues from now on— Err, yeah ‘colleague’ is the right word… we are not teammates since we are not Beyonders.”

“I hope to have the honor, but still it depends on what Mr. Smith has to say,” Klein said as he sized up the enclosed surroundings. He felt that they were going underground—dampness seeped out from the stone walls, dispelling the summer heat.

“Don’t worry, the fact that you came so far means the Captain has agreed. I’ve always been a little afraid of him, even though he is amiable, a fatherly figure. I don’t know why but I’m still afraid.” Rozanne spoke as though there was a piece of sweet in her throat.

Klein answered humorously, “Isn’t being afraid of a father normal?”

“True.” Rozanne said as she held the wall around the bend.

As they spoke, the two finished walking down the stairs and reached a stone-paved floor.

It was a long aisle; both sides of the walls were mounted with gas lamps surrounded by metal gratings. Klein and Rozanne’s shadows were elongated under the illumination.

Klein keenly noticed that there was a “Dark Sacred Emblem” every few meters—the symbol of the Evernight Goddess. A deep black background dotted with sparkling embellishments, as they clustered precisely half the crimson moon.

These emblems did not seem special, but walking between them gave Klein a sense of serenity. Rozanne also stopped talking, unlike her previous talkative state.

Before long, an intersection appeared up front. Rozanne briefly introduced,

“The path to the left will lead to the Saint Selena Cathedral; to the right are the armory, storeroom, and archives. And straight ahead is the Chanis Gate.”

Saint Selena Cathedral? Then, Zouteland Street is just behind Red Moonlight Street? Klein was a little stunned.

Saint Selena Cathedral of Red Moonlight Street was the headquarters of the Church of the Evernight Goddess in Tingen, a sacred ground where local followers yearned to visit. Along with “Holy Numerics Cathedral” of the Church of the God of Steam and Machinery in the suburbs, and the “River and Sea Cathedral” of the Church of the Lord of Storms in North Tingen, they sustained the religious circles in Tingen city and its affiliated towns and villages.

Aware that his status made it unsuitable for him to ask more, Klein only listened silently.

They passed the intersection and moved straight ahead. In less than a minute, a black iron split gate carved with seven sacred emblems were seen.

It stood there, heavy, cold and domineering, like a giant guarding in the darkness.

“Chanis Gate.” Rozanne reminded him and pointed at the room beside them, saying, “Captain is inside. Go on in by yourself.”

“Alright, thank you.” Klein replied politely.

The room Rozanne was referring to was just in front of “Chanis Gate.” The windows were opened, revealing the lit room inside. Klein took a deep breath to calm himself.

Knock! Knock! Knock!

“Come in.” He heard Dunn Smith’s deep and amiable voice.

Klein opened the unlatched door gently. There was only a table and four chairs inside. Dunn Smith with his high hairline, who was wearing the black coat from the previous night plus a gold watch chain around his chest, was reading the newspaper leisurely.

“Come and have a seat. Have you decided? Are you certain you want to join us?” Dunn smiled and asked as he put down the newspaper.

Klein removed his hat and bowed, then he sat beside the table and said, “Yes, I am certain.”

“Then take a look at this deed, heh heh. People like to call it a contract now.” Dunn pulled out the table drawer and took out two contract copies.

There were not many clauses, and most of them had been mentioned by Dunn Smith. The emphasis was on the confidential clause. Violators were tried in the tribunal courts of the Church of the Evernight Goddess instead of the kingdom’s courts. It was akin to how soldiers and officers were sent to court martial for trials.

A five year contract… Two pounds and ten soli for weekly wages, ten soli as compensation for the risk and confidentiality… Klein read through it and answered resolutely, “I’ve no problem with it.”

“Then sign it,” Dunn said as he pointed to the dark red fountain pen and ink.

Klein used a piece of waste paper to try out the pen before drawing a breath. He signed on both contracts with his name: Klein Moretti.

As he did not have a stamp yet, he could only use his thumbprint.

Dunn received the contract, took out a stamp from the drawer, and stamped on the end of the contract and a few key parts.

With that done, he stood up and returned a contract with one hand, and reached for Klein with the other saying, “Welcome, from now on, you are one of us, and please note that the contract is confidential as well.”

Klein stood up as well. He received the contract, shook his hand, and said, “So, I shall be addressing you as Captain?”

“Yes.” Dunn’s grayish eyes seemed especially deep in the dim surroundings.

After shaking hands, they sat down. Klein glanced at the stamp on the contract, it read: “Nighthawks Squad, Tingen City, Awwa County, Loen Kingdom.”

“I can’t believe you guys would use the name ‘Blackthorn Security Company’ as a disguise,” he laughed and said.

“Actually, we have other signboards.” Dunn pulled out a piece of paper from the drawer.

It was stamped with the stamps of the city government and the police department. The content were as follows: “Seventh Unit, Special Operations Department, Awwa County Police, Loen Kingdom.”

“The first four units are the regular police responsible for general security, like the VIP Protection Unit and Key Installations Protection Unit. And from unit five onwards are the ones dealing with supernatural incidents in each city. Our unit is responsible for incidents related to the followers of Evernight Goddess in Tingen. If there are different types of followers, then we divide the area accordingly; we are mainly in charge of places like the north, west and the Golden Indus region.”

Dunn briefly introduced, “Unit Six of the Mandated Punisher squad under the Church of the Lord of Storms is in charge of the pier region, the east, and the south. The university area and the suburbs are under Unit Five, which is the Machinery Hivemind squad in Tingen.”

“Right.” Klein had no questions about it. He then laughed. “What happens if someone really comes here due to the ‘Blackthorn Security Company’ signboard and requests for our services?”

“We’ll take those requests; why shouldn’t we? As long as it doesn’t affect our daily operations,” Dunn said slowly and humorously. “Any earnings would be considered additional bonuses, so our members are quite willing to take those jobs. Anyway, the market for trivial and troublesome matters such as finding dogs and cats have been monopolized by private detectives.”

“So how many people are there in this Nighthawks squad?” Klein asked since they were on this topic.

“There aren’t many supernatural incidents, so there are even fewer Beyonders. There are only six formal members of the Nighthawks in the entire Tingen City, including me. Heh heh, as for civilian staff, there are six including you.”

Klein nodded his head, and eventually asked the question that he was most concerned about, “So, Captain, what do you mean by Beyonders losing control? Why does it happen?”

18 Origin and Cause

Upon hearing Klein’s question, Dunn looked out of the window toward the corridor that led to Chanis Gate. He took out his pipe, stuffed it with some tobacco and mint leaves, and held it to his nose. He took a deep whiff as his voice turned reflective and drifting.

“Only at home can I enjoy the beautiful flavors of tobacco mixed with mint leaves without any worries… Klein, do you know about the creation myth?”

“Of course, when I received primary education during Sunday school, we learned to read using The Revelation of Evernight. Among them, the Book of Wisdom and the Letters from the Saints mentioned the myth of creation.” Klein attempted to recall via the memory fragments of the original Klein. He slowed down his tempo and said, “The Creator awoke from Chaos and shattered the darkness, creating the first ray of light. He then fused himself completely into the universe and made up all of existence. His body became the land and stars. One of his eyes became the sun, while the other became the crimson moon. Some of his blood rushed into the seas and rivers, nourishing and nurturing lives…”

Klein subconsciously paused when he said that. Partially, it was because the relevant memories were a blur and that the creation myth was very similar to the Chinese creation myth of Pangu.

The imaginations of people from different worlds shared something in common on their myths and legends!

Noticing that Klein was having ‘trouble,’ Dunn smiled and added, “His lungs turned into the elves; His heart turned into the giants; His liver turned into the treants; His brain turned into the dragons; His kidneys turned into the feather serpents; His hair turned into the phoenixes; His ears turned into the demonic wolves; His mouth and teeth turned into the mutants, and His remaining bodily fluids turned into the sea monsters, of which the essence was Naga. His stomach, His small and large intestines, and the evil parts of His body turned into devils, evil spirits and various kinds of unknown maleficent existences. His spirit became the Eternal Blazing Sun, the Lord of the Storms, and the God of Knowledge and Wisdom…”

“His wisdom gave birth to humanity. That was the first Epoch, the Chaos Epoch.” Klein finished the last sentence for Dunn, but he found it funny and ridiculous.

As a keyboard folklorist, it was the first time he came into contact with a creation myth that was ‘arranged’ in such great detail. It was so detailed that almost every prominent race corresponded to a particular body part of the Creator.

It’s like a children’s song with children sitting in a row and eating fruit…

Furthermore, it was not only mentioned in the canon of the Evernight Goddess. The Churches of the Lord of Storms and God of Steam and Machinery also had similar descriptions. None of them alleviated themselves or devalued the other gods…

This either means that the creation myth is real or hints that the few Churches had undergone a long period of strife before compromising before the Fifth Epoch…

With this in mind, Klein suddenly had another question. He asked with a frown, “It feels problematic. Why are the Eternal Blazing Sun, Lord of Storms, and God of Knowledge and Wisdom born directly from the Creator’s spirit, while the Goddess isn’t?”

In the Revelation of Evernight’s prehistorical records, the Evernight Goddess had only awoken at the end of the Second Epoch. Together with the Lord of Storms, Eternal Blazing Sun, and other gods, she blessed and help humanity survive the Cataclysm. It was also known as the Third Epoch, the Cataclysm Epoch.

It was during that time that Mother Earth and the God of War appeared as well. As for the God of Steam and Machinery, whose original name was the God of Craftsmanship, He was born only in the Fourth Epoch.

In that sense, the standing among the gods seemed self-evident.

The ones who were more ancient was more orthodox. It was extremely clear!

This also troubled the believers of the Evernight Goddess.

Dunn Smith held his pipe with another hand and instead of answering, he returned with a question, “Repeat the Goddess’s full title.”

Klein immediately felt like he had stabbed himself with a knife. He racked his brains and tried his best to recall.

“The Evernight Goddess is nobler than the stars and more eternal than eternity. She is also the Lady of Crimson, the Mother of the Secrets, the Empress of Disaster and Horror, Mistress of Calm and Silence.”

Thankfully, Klein’s mother was a devout believer of the Evernight Goddess. When she was still alive, she would recite this every evening at dinner. Even though the memories of the original Klein had fragmented, not all was lost.

“What does the Lady of Crimson symbolize?” Dunn asked with a guiding tone.

“The red moon.” The moment Klein answered, he immediately understood.

“Then which part of the Creator did the red moon come from?” asked Dunn with a smile.

“A single eye!” Klein and Dunn smiled at each other.

This was no way less impressive than the Lord of Storms who was formed from a third of the Creator’s spirit!

As for the Churches of Mother Earth and the God of War, they likely had similar explanations. However, the God of Steam and Machinery had been born too late to find a reason; thus, their church had been weak in the past thousand plus years. It was only with the invention of the steam engine that they seized the opportunity to truly be on par with the other gods.

Dunn stroked his pipe gently.

“Humanity was born out of the wisdom of the Creator, so we have clever and extraordinary brains, but lack other magical powers. However, from the creation myth, we can form a simple but clear conclusion. Everything stems from the same origin.”

“Stems from the same origin…” Klein repeated the last few words.

“According to this conclusion, humans who are protected by the gods were able to resist the giants, devils, and the mutants. Gradually, they figured out means to obtain the power of the Beyonders. That is by using the corresponding parts of the evil spirits, dragons, monsters, magical trees, flowers, or crystals and combining them with other materials to form potions. By consuming and absorbing the potion, one will gain different powers. This is common knowledge among mysticism studies.”

Dunn did not elaborate in detail and only gave a brief introduction. “In this process, our ancestors relied on painful lessons to discover that if they were to consume high-grade or extraordinary potions, it would easily lead to tragic consequences. There are three possible outcomes.”

“Which three?” pressed Klein curiously.

“First, mental death and the complete breakdown of a body. Every piece of flesh would become a terrifying monster. Second, their personality will be changed by the powers contained in the potion. They will turn cold, sensitive, irascible, cruel, and indifferent. Third, well…” Dunn put down his pipe and picked up a porcelain cup and took a sip. “Fermo coffee from the Paz River Valley is bitter, but very fragrant. It leaves a splendid aftertaste. Do you want one?”

“I prefer coffee from the Feynapotter plateau. Of course, I have only drank it a few times at Welch’s place.” Klein politely declined. “What’s the third outcome?”

“Mental disorder. Turning crazy on the spot, becoming more devilish than the devil. This is what it means by losing control.” Dunn emphasized the words ‘losing control.’

Without waiting for Klein to say a word, he put down his coffee cup and continued, “After a long period of experimentation and exploration, together with the birth of the Blasphemy Slate, humans have finally perfected the potion system. We formed a tiered system that chains into stable progression paths known as Sequences. The lower the number in a Sequence, the higher the grade of a potion. At this point, the seven major churches each control at least one complete Sequence. Besides, there are also incomplete ‘paths’ that they have gathered over the past hundreds or thousand years.”

“Blasphemy Slate?” Klein sharply noticed the term.

At the Gathering, The Hanged Man had also mentioned it!

According to The Hanged Man, the Blasphemy Slate was the most critical factor of a potion’s system formation and completion!

That seemed to contradict what Dunn had just said.

“Those were things created by some evil gods. As for which era it appeared, what it contains or what’s so special about it, I am unsure as well. If you discover any clues, you have to immediately report it to me. It deserves the highest level of response,” said Dunn vaguely. “I mentioned one of the types of losing control. I’ll now tell you the remaining four.”

“Alright.” Klein pushed the question of the Blasphemy Slate to the back of his mind and listened attentively.

“Although humans have clever minds, they lack extraordinary powers, it is not absolute. There are always a few lucky ones; perhaps I should call them the unlucky ones. They are born with relatively higher perception. Well, it also means the ability to sense spirits. They can hear voices that others cannot hear and see things that others cannot see. They have partial characteristics of Beyonders.”

While Dunn spoke, he looked at the empty air around him and watched Klein shudder in fear. “In other words, if they are half a Sequence 9 Beyonder and have fixed characteristics. Oh, Sequence 9 is the lowest grade in the ‘chain…’ In short, they can only choose a corresponding, fixed Sequence pathway. If they consume other potions, the effects might range from mental disorders to a loss of control, or even worse, death.”

“Got it.” Klein nodded slowly.

“The third kind is similar to the second kind. Once you choose a Sequence chain, you will be forced to go down that path. There will be no room for regret. If you were to consume potions from the corresponding Sequence of other ‘paths,’ there will be a high probability you will get mixed, unusual and warped powers. But it is almost certain that you would be in a semi-deranged state; sensitive and irascible, cruel and bloodthirsty, and silent and melancholic.

“And there is only one such opportunity. After that, regardless if you consume the potions from the original path or potions in the present Sequence, the only result is a loss of control. The outcome could then be mental death; alternatively, the body breaks down into monsters or even transforms into an evil spirit.” As Dunn spoke, he lifted his coffee cup to take a sip.

Klein, who turned alarmed and fearful after hearing this, fell silent for a few seconds before asking, “What about the fourth kind?”

“The fourth kind, heh heh. That is the most common problem. When we consume potions to gain powers that originally belong to extraordinary beings, we undergo an unnatural transformation. Therefore, we would more or less be affected by the remnant spiritual powers. While perhaps the symptoms might not manifest and are undetectable to others, it will definitely lurk in one’s mind. If one rushes to consume the corresponding potion ranked higher in the Sequence before fully grasping the extraordinary powers the potion brings and eliminating the subtle traces, the madness will accumulate, increasing the chances of losing control…” Dunn suddenly fell silent.

After a short pause, he said with a sigh, “As per the internal rules of us Nighthawks, even if a teammate were to make a great contribution, they must have consumed the last potion three years ago and be examined before they can be promoted. Even so, there are still many who lose control every year.”

How terrifying… Klein drew a gasp as he asked, “Then what about the final kind?”

There was no trace of a smile despite Dunn’s curved lips.

“The fifth kind is the most common reason for a loss of control. For Beyonders, one’s spiritual perception would be enhanced more or less. The smaller the number in the Sequence, the more enhanced their perception. Therefore, they would hear what others cannot hear, see what others cannot see, and encounter things others would not encounter. They are constantly met with mysterious enticement and illusionary bewitchment. Once they are overstimulated or have greedy desires, they will slowly go down the path of losing control.”

As he spoke, Dunn looked straight at Klein, his gray pupils reflecting Klein’s figure.

His tone turned bleak as he said, “The founder of the Nighthawks, Archbishop Chanis, once said, ‘We are guardians, but also a bunch of miserable wretches that are constantly fighting against dangers and madness.’”

19 Sealed Artifacts

“We are guardians, but also a bunch of miserable wretches that are constantly fighting against dangers and madness.”

The corridor outside the window was sealed, its walls ice-cold. The room was illuminated with bright yellow lights. Dunn Smith’s delivery echoed, sending blow after blow to Klein’s heart. It left him temporarily at a loss for words.

Dunn shook his head and smiled when he saw Klein silent.

“Are you very disappointed? Beyonders are not like what you imagine them to be. We are always treading alongside danger.”

“There is always a price to any gain.” Klein recovered from his shock as he answered with a quivering voice.

It was true that he never imagined that the halo, extraordinariness, and the inordinary aspects of a Beyonder would have such hidden threats. Perhaps it was only because he was hearing a description without witnessing it first hand and that he had been sucked into the vortex with a peculiar incident already befalling him. Klein soon brought his fear, uneasiness, worry, and apprehension under control.

Of course, the thought of shrinking back was inevitable; it lingered around and refused to leave.

“Not bad. Very mature and rational…” Dunn finished the last mouthful of coffee and added, “Also, Beyonders are not as powerful as you imagine them to be, especially a low-Sequence Beyonder. Heh, why would we use 1 to represent the highest grade and 9 the lowest? Isn’t this against intuition and logic? The low Sequence we often mention refers to a low grade or a high number. They are the starting point of the Sequence chain.

“Alright, where was I? Yes, Beyonders are not as powerful as you imagine. A low-Sequence Beyonder’s power is no match for guns, much less cannons. They are just more fascinating and indefensible than firearms. If you have a chance to become a Beyonder in the future, you must consider what I said today carefully. Do not make a rash decision.”

Klein gave a self-deprecating smile.

“I don’t even know when I will have the chance.”

He felt that he would not miss the opportunity if it presented itself to him. Consuming the wrong potion or a higher-ranked potion in the Sequence could be mostly avoid. The major potential danger was the subtle influences the potions had and what he experienced from having heightened auditory and visual perceptions.

For the former, he could draw on the experiences from generations of people before him. As long as he was not in a rush to advance himself and patiently grasped control over his powers, the chances of losing control were relatively low. Furthermore, he still had to resolve the potential problem that he currently faced. He had to understand the essence of mysticism and seek a way to transmigrate back. These were the underlying reasons for taking the first step. He did not aim for higher Sequence spots. If it was easy to lose control, he could just forget about advancement, stay in his original Sequence, and rely on knowledge to plan a way ‘home.’

It was needless to elaborate on the potential risks. Back when Klein held the luck enhancement ritual, he was nearly driven crazy. The murmurings that nearly blew up his head were still fresh in his mind. They were not unavoidable by not becoming a Beyonder; therefore, it was better to gain power that allowed him to defend himself.

With this in mind, Klein felt that the pros clearly outweighed the cons. It made his thoughts of withdrawal almost disappear.

Dunn picked up his pipe again as his gray eyes carried a smiling trace to them.

“I cannot give you an accurate answer on this. To become a Beyonder, firstly, you must make enough contributions. Perhaps tomorrow or the day after, you would be able to interpret critical ancient documents. Maybe you would be able to give us valuable ideas for one of our cases? Secondly, it depends on the arrangements of the higher-ups. No one can be sure.

“Alright, I believe you should know quite a bit about Beyonders now. In the future, do not make a rash decision. Now, I’ll introduce you to our Nighthawk team’s civilian jobs.”

He stood up and walked to the door. He pointed in the opposite direction of Chanis Gate and said, “We have an accountant and someone else who is in charge of procuring necessities and collecting supplies handed out by the Church and the police department while standing in as a carriage driver. They are professionals and do not need to take shifts, so they can rest on weekends. The other three civilian staff are Rozanne, Bredt, and Old Neil. Their jobs include: attending to visitors, cleaning the rooms, and writing case files and inventory registration lists. They also guard the armory, storeroom, and the archives, strictly enforcing the registration should someone wish to enter, take out or return an item. Each of them has one day off a week, other than Sundays. They negotiate among themselves on the arrangement of night shifts and rest days.”

“So is my job scope the same as Rozanne and the rest?” Klein swept away his thoughts about Beyonders and tried to clarify his job responsibilities.

“No, there’s no need. You are a professional,” said Dunn with a smile. “You currently have two tasks. First, every morning or afternoon, go take a stroll outside. Focus on the various streets that lead from Welch’s place to yours.”

“What?” Klein was dumbfounded.

What kind of job is this?

Is that very professional?

Dunn inserted his hands into the pockets of his black windbreaker and said, “After you confirm that you have lost your memories, we will close the case on Welch and Naya. Similarly, that diary of the Antigonus family has vanished completely. We suspect that you brought it with you. You might have hidden it on your way home which might be why we did not find any clues at your place. This is also likely the reason why you were not there and chose to commit suicide at home.

“Although you were mysteriously influenced and have forgotten this piece of memory, the human spirit and brain is very fascinating, so there might be residual traces. Daly might not be able to obtain them through her means as a medium, but it does not mean that they do not exist. Perhaps you will feel a sense of déjà vu at a familiar and critical spot.

“That is what we wish to obtain.”

“Got it.” Klein was enlightened.

The Nighthawks’ deduction of the diary’s location was indeed reasonable.

He was the only one alive among the people involved. Only he had the time and motive to take the diary away and hide it on his way back!

“If you can find the diary this way, you will likely made enough of a contribution to become a Beyonder,” encouraged Dunn, indirectly revealing the importance of the diary.

“I hope.” Klein nodded.

Dunn changed the subject again.

“Secondly, you get a day off every week. You can decide which day it is for now. When you are not outside, go to our armory and read the literature and canon books. This is a job for a professional historian. When you finish them all, you will have to begin taking shifts with Old Neil and the rest.”

“Alright, no problem.” Klein heaved a sigh of relief.

This is not something too difficult…

At this moment, Dunn turned his body halfway and pointed to the black outward-swinging gates that was engraved with seven sacred emblems.

“This is Chanis Gate. It is named after the creator of the modern Nighthawk system, Archbishop Chanis. There is one under the central cathedral of every major city.

“It is guarded by formal Nighthawk members on rotation. Inside, there are at least two ‘Keepers’ who are sent by the Church, as well as countless traps. You must not approach it under any circumstance; otherwise, misfortune will befall you.”

“That sounds scary,” Klein expressed his feelings.

“The area inside is divided into a few zones. Stored within are certain potion formulas for certain Sequences and other magical materials. It is also used to temporarily hold heretics, mutants, cultists, and members of secret organizations. Heh heh, they will eventually be sent to the Holy Cathedral,” introduced Dunn in passing.

Holy Cathedral? The headquarters of the Church of the Evernight Goddess located in the Winter County to the north of the kingdom, Cathedral of Serenity? Klein nodded slightly as though he was pondering over the matter.

“In addition, there are all sorts of classified documents and records inside. When you gain a higher clearance, you might have a chance of reading them.” Dunn hesitated for a moment before adding, “Behind the Chanis Gate, there are also Sealed Artifacts in the basement.”

“Sealed Artifacts?” Klein ruminated on the terms.

It sounded like a specialized term.

“Some of the extraordinary items we gather and retrieve are just too important and magical. If they fall into the wrong hands, it would cause immense destruction. Therefore, we have to keep it strictly confidential and watch them carefully. Even we can only use it under special circumstances. Besides…” With that said, Dunn paused for a moment before continuing, “Besides, there are some things inside that are very special. They had certain ‘living’ characteristics which can entice the Keepers. It would influence the surroundings, attempt escape, and cause catastrophic outcomes. They have to be strictly controlled.”

“How fascinating,” commented Klein wistfully.

“The Nighthawk headquarters have categorized these Sealed Artifacts into four grades. Grade 0 represents Extremely Dangerous. They are of the highest importance and of the highest confidentiality. They are not to be inquired, disseminated, described, or spied. They can only be sealed in the basement of the Holy Cathedral,” described Dunn in detail. “Grade 1 is Highly Dangerous. They can be used in limited ways. Their security clearance is limited to diocesan bishops or Nighthawk deacons and above. The central cathedral of diocese headquarters like Backlund can store one to two artifacts. The rest will be handed over to the Holy Cathedral.

“Grade 2 is Dangerous. They can be used with care and moderation. The security clearance requires one to be a bishop or a Nighthawk team’s captain and above. The central cathedrals in the various cities can store three to five artifacts. The rest will be turned into the Holy Cathedral or the diocese headquarters. Grade 3 is Considerably Dangerous. They have to be used carefully. It can only be applied for operations that require three or more people. The security clearance requires one to be a formal member of the Nighthawks.”

“In the future, you will see the corresponding documents. Through the numbers, you can understand what they represent. For instance, 2-125 means that it is a Dangerous grade Sealed Artifact No. 125.”

As Dunn went on, he suddenly turned around and returned to his room. He pulled out a piece of paper from the bottom of the drawer.

“By the way, take a look at this. Three years ago, a newly appointed archbishop lost control. For some unknown reason, he stormed through the various levels of protection and vanished mysteriously with a Grade 0 Sealed Artifact. Memorize this photo. If you discover him, do not alert or disturb him. Return to report it immediately or the chance of you dying in the line of duty is a thousand percent.”

“What?” Klein received the piece of paper. There was no title on it, just a black and white photo with a few lines of words.

“Ince Zangwill. Male. Forty years old. Former archbishop. A Gatekeeper who failed in his promotion and was enticed by the devil and was corrupted. He escaped with Sealed Artifact 0-08. Particular traits are…”

The picture depicted Ince Zangwill as wearing an all-black clergyman robe with buttons on both sides and a soft cap. His hair was dark blonde and his pupils were so blue that it was nearly black. He had a high nose and his lips were tightly pursed. His facial features were like a classic sculpture without any wrinkles. The most striking characteristic was that he was blind in one eye.

“The description of the corrupted is so detailed but the only thing about the Sealed Artifact is its codename…” Klein honestly offered his first impression.

“That’s why it is at the highest security clearance. The search for Sealed Artifacts No. 0-08 is only described verbally and never written in words. Even so, the description will be little,” said Dunn with a sigh. “0-08 appears to be a common quill, but it does not need ink to write. That’s all.”

Dunn did not dive deeper into the topic. He tugged at the golden chain on his black windbreaker and took out a gorgeous pocket watch of the same color. He clicked it open and took a glance before pointing outside.

“I’ve told you all you need to know. Go to the armory to find Old Neil. Get him to arrange the documents that you need to read. He is no ordinary civilian clerk. He was once a formal member, but due to his advanced age, he failed to be promoted. His health is ailing, so it’s no longer suitable for him to handle cases. Furthermore, he does not wish to become an internal Keeper or rest at home. All he wishes is to be accompanied by documents and records.”

20 The Forgetful Dunn

“Okay.” Klein bowed slightly as he wore his short top hat again. However, his mind was preoccupied with how Sealed Artifact 0-08 looked.

It appears to be just your everyday quill?

It writes without ink?

Then, what is its actual use? What makes it classified at the highest level of confidentiality that it’s deemed Extremely Dangerous?

Can it be a pen that kills anyone whose name is written?

No, that would be way too heaven-defying. Ince Zangwill wouldn’t need to escape and hide away if that were the case…

Just as Klein turned around to leave, Dunn suddenly shouted out to him.

“Hold on. I forgot something.”

“What?” Klein turned his head; his eyes puzzled.

Dunn put back his pocket watch and said with a smile, “Later, remember to visit the accountant, Mrs. Orianna, and get an advance payment of four weeks—a total of twelve pounds. After that, you’ll earn half your salary every week until the difference is covered.”

“That’s too much. There’s no need for this, the amount should be reduced,” said Klein subconsciously.

He had no objection towards an advanced payment. After all, he didn’t even have the money needed to pay for the public horse carriage trip home. However, to receive twelve pounds at once left him a little afraid.

“No, it’s necessary,” said Dun as he shook his head and smiled. “Think about it. Do you still wish to continue living in your present apartment? One that needs you to share a bathroom with so many other tenants? Even if you aren’t taking yourself into consideration, think about the lady. Besides…”

He paused when he saw Klein nod in agreement. He smiled and sized up Klein’s garbs and said with a meaningful intent, “Besides, you need a cane, and you should buy a new suit.”

Klein was taken aback for a second before snapping back to reality. His face immediately burned with embarrassment since the suit he was wearing was cheap and of inferior quality.

Typically, a top hat was made of silk, costing five to six soli. A bow tie was three soli, a walking cane inlaid with silver was seven to eight soli, a shirt was three soli, while pants, a vest, and tuxedo were around seven pounds in total. Leather boots were nine to ten soli. As such, an entire suit cost more than eight pounds and seven soli. Of course, to be a presentable gentleman, one needed a watch chain, a pocket watch, and a wallet.

Back then, the original Klein and Benson scrimped and saved before managing to save up a pool of money. When they went to a clothing store to check the price, they ended up running off without even bothering to try haggling. They each bought a set at a bargain shop near Iron Cross Street for a total of less than two pounds.

It was also because of that incident that original Klein had a deep impression of the prices of clothes.

“O-Okay,” Klein stammered a reply.

He was like the original Klein. He was someone who cared about his appearance.

Dunn took out the pocket watch again and clicked it open to take a glance at it.

“Perhaps you should find Mrs. Orianna first? I know you’ll spend quite some time at Old Neil’s while Mrs. Orianna will likely be returning home soon.”

“Alright.” Klein was acutely aware of his state of poverty and did not object to it.

Dunn returned to the table’s side and pulled at a few hanging ropes as he said, “I’ll get Rozanne to bring you there.”

The ropes began their operation as the gears ground, producing a chime from a bell at the reception area of Blackthorn Security Company. When Rozanne heard it, she hurriedly stood up and carefully made her way down.

It did not take long before she appeared in front of Klein again.

Dunn said humorously, “I did not disturb your rest, right? Oh, bring Moretti to Mrs. Orianna.”

Rozanne secretly curled her lips as she answered ‘happily—’

“Alright, Captain.”

“Is that all?” At that moment, Klein blurted out in surprise.

To get his advance payment from finance, isn’t there a need to get an approval letter from the Captain? Shouldn’t you write something?

“So?” Dunn returned with a question.

“I mean— Don’t I need your signature to claim an advance payment from Mrs. Orianna?” Klein tried his best to use simple language.

“Oh, no. There’s no need. Rozanne is enough proof.” Dunn pointed at the brown-haired girl and gave a reply.

Captain, it seems there’s almost zero management of our finances… Klein resisted his urge to deliver a sarcastic comment before turning to leave the room with Rozanne.

At that moment, he heard Dunn shout out again.

“Hold on. There’s still another thing.”

Can we finish it all at once? Klein turned back with a smiling face.

“Yes?”

Dunn pressed at his temple and said, “When you meet Old Neil, remember to collect ten demon hunting bullets.”

“Me? Demon hunting bullets?” Klein returned in astonishment.

“Welch’s revolver is still with you, right? There’s no need for you to turn it in.” Dunn inserted a single hand into his pocket and said, “With the demon hunting bullets, if you were to face with an paranormal danger, you will be able to protect yourself. Uh, it will give you some courage at the very least.”

There’s no need for you to add on the final sentence… Just as Klein was vexing over the problem, he answered without any hesitation, “Alright. I’ll remember to do so!”

“This will require me to write a formal document. Wait a moment.” Dunn sat down and picked up the dark red fountain pen. He scribbled a ‘note,’ signed it, and stamped it.

“Thank you, Captain.” Klein received it sincerely.

He slowly walked back before turning around.

“Hold on.”

Dunn shouted one more time.

…Captain, you look to be in your thirties. Why do you have the symptoms of dementia? Klein squeezed out a smile and turned around to ask, “Anything else?”

“I forgot earlier that you are not trained in shooting, so getting demon hunting bullets would be useless. Let’s do this; collect thirty normal bullets every day. Take the opportunity when you are out to go to the street corner—the underground shooting range at No. 3 Zouteland Street. Most of it belongs to the police department, but there is one that is specially for us Nighthawks. Oh, right, you also need to get a badge from Old Neil. Otherwise, you won’t be able to enter the shooting range.” Dunn smacked his forehead and took back the note from Klein. He then added the information and stamped it with another seal.

“A good marksman is produced by expending bullets. Do not think lightly of it.” Dunn handed back Klein the modified note.

“Got it.” Klein, who was fearful of danger, yearned to visit the shooting range that very day.

He took two steps towards the exit before carefully turning around halfways. He deliberated before asking, “Captain, is there anything else?”

“No.” Dunn nodded firmly.

Klein heaved a sigh of relief and walked straight out the door. While walking, he had the strong urge to turn around to ask another, “Are you sure there’s nothing else?”

He resisted that urge and finally left the Keeper room successfully.

“Captain has always been this way. He often forgets things.” As Rozanne walked by his side, she softly disparaged the captain, “Even my granny has a better memory than him. Of course, he only forgets the trivial stuff. Yea, trivial stuff. Klein, I’ll call you Klein in the future. Mrs. Orianna is a very affable person. It is easy to hit it off with her. Her father is a watchsmith with excellent skill…”

As Klein listened to the brown-haired girl rattle on, he stepped into the stairwell and returned to the upper floor. He found Mrs. Orianna in the far office on the right-hand side.

She was a black-haired woman dressed in a flounce lace dress. She appeared in her thirties and had fashionable curly hair. Her pair of green eyes were clear and smiling, and she seemed refined and elegant.

After Orianna heard Rozanne repeat Dunn Smith’s instructions, she took out a note and wrote an advance slip.

“Sign here. Do you have a seal? If not, you can leave a thumbprint.”

“Alright.” Now familiar with the procedures, Klein completed the formalities.

Orianna took out a copper key and opened the safe in the room. As she counted the pounds, she said with a smile, “You are lucky. We have enough cash today. By the way, Klein, were you invited by Captain because you were involved in a paranormal activity and the fact that you have a specialty?”

“Yes, you have an impeccable intuition.” Klein was not stingy with his compliments.

Orianna took out four notes with light-gray backgrounds with deep black patterns printed on them. After locking the safe, she turned around and smiled.

“That’s because I had a similar experience too.”

“Really?” Klein showed an appropriate level of surprise.

“Do you know about the serial killer that sent Tingen City into a frenzy sixteen years ago?” Orianna handed over the four gold pounds to Klein.

“…Yes! It’s the one which had five girls killed consecutively. Some had their hearts and stomachs removed by that Bloody Butcher? My mother often used that matter to scare my sister when we were young,” said Klein as he thought about it.

He received the notes and discovered that two of them were in five pound denominations and two of them were in one pound denominations. All of them had a gray background and were inked in black. The four corners had complicated patterns and special ink to prevent counterfeiting.

The former notes were slightly bigger and in the middle of them was Loen Kingdom’s fifth king, George III’s direct ancestor, Henry Augustus I. He wore a white hair band above his rotund face. His eyes were slender and he had an abnormally serious expression. However, Klein felt an indescribably sense of closeness to him.

This was a five-pound note!

It’s almost equal to four weeks of Benson’s salary!

In the middle of the one-pound note was George III’s father, the former king, William Augustus VI. This mighty figure had a thick mustache and a firm gaze. While he was in power, he freed the Loen Kingdom from the shackles of the old order, allowing his nation to regain the pinnacle spot.

They were all ‘good kings…’ Klein could faintly smell the notes’ ink that elated and refreshed him.

“Yes, if the Nighthawks had not come in time, I would have been the sixth victim.” Mrs. Orianna’s tone still hinted at a sense of lingering fear despite the incident having happened more than ten years ago.

“I heard that the serial killer, no— The Butcher was a Beyonder?” Klein carefully folded the paper notes and placed it in an inner pocket of his suit. Then, he patted the area a few times to confirm it was there.

“Yes.” Mrs. Orianna gave a firm nod. “He had killed even more before that. The reason why he was captured was because he was preparing a ritual for the devil.”

“No wonder he wanted different organs… Sorry, Mrs. Orianna for making you recall such unpleasant memories,” said Klein sincerely.

Orianna smiled. “I’m no longer afraid… I was studying accountancy in business school back then. After that incident, I’ve been here ever since. Alright, I’ll stop keeping you from what you should do. You still need to head to Old Neil’s.”

“Goodbye, Mrs. Orianna.” Klein took off his hat and bowed before leaving the office. Before he went downstairs, he could not help but pat his inner pocket to make sure the twelve pounds was still there.

He did a turn at a cross-junction and headed right. It did not take him long to see a half-closed iron door.

Knock! Knock! Knock!

While he knocked, an aged voice sounded from inside.

“Come in.”

Klein pushed open the metal door and discovered a cramped room which only allowed for a desk and two chairs.

There was a tightly locked iron door inside the room and behind the desk was a hoary elder dressed in a class black robe. He was reading a few yellowed pages from a book with the illumination of a gas lamp.

He raised his head and looked at the door.

“Are you Klein Moretti? Rozanne said you were very polite when she came over a while ago.”

“Miss Rozanne is really a friendly person. Good afternoon, Mr. Neil.” Klein took off his hat as a gesture of respect.

“Have a seat.” Neil pointed to the silver tin can with complex flowery patterns on the table. “Would you like a cup of handground coffee?”

The wrinkles at the edge of his eyes and mouth were deeply recessed. His dark red pupils appeared slightly turbid.

“It doesn’t seem like you drink coffee?” Klein acutely noticed that Neil’s porcelain cup was filled with clear water.

“Haha, it’s a habit of mine. I do not drink coffee after three in the afternoon,” Neil explained with a laugh.

“Why?” Klein asked in passing.

Neil held back his smile as he looked into Klein’s eyes and said, “I’m afraid that it would affect my sleep at night. It will make me hear the murmurings of the unknown existence.”

Klein was momentarily unable to answer him as he changed the subject.

“Mr. Neil, what documents and books should I read?”

As he spoke, he took out the note written by Dunn.

“Anything that has to do with history, or are complicated and incomplete. To be honest, I have always been trying to learn, but all I can achieve is a rudimentary grasp. It’s just too troublesome for the other material, such as people’s diaries, contemporary books, epitaphs, etc…” lamented Neil. “For example, the things I have here require more detailed historical records to determine the exact content.”

“Why?” Klein turned confused.

Neil pointed to a few yellowed pages in front of him.

“These are from Roselle Gustav’s lost diary before his death. In order to keep things secret, he used strange symbols he invented to take records.”

Emperor Roselle? The transmigration senior? Klein was taken aback as he immediately listened attentively.

“Many people believe that he did not truly die, but instead became a hidden god. Therefore, cults which revere him have always been holding various rituals to attempt at gaining power. We will occasionally encounter such incidents and obtain a few original or duplicated copies of the diary,” Neil said with a shake of his head. “Till date, no one has been able to decipher the special symbols’ true meaning. Therefore, the Holy Cathedral has permitted us to keep copies for research, hoping that it would bring them a pleasant surprise.”

With that said, Neil revealed a smug smile.

“I have already deciphered a few symbols and have confirmed that they represent numbers. Look at what I discovered. It’s actually a diary! Yes, I wish to use history from different periods, especially events that revolved around the emperor. By comparing those records to the ones written in the diary for the corresponding day, I can try to interpret more of the symbols.

“That’s the mind of a genius, right?” The old gentleman with white hair and deep wrinkles looked at Klein with bright eyes.

Klein nodded in agreement.

“Yes.”

“Haha, you can also take a look at it. Tomorrow, you will have to help me with this diary.” Neil pushed the few yellowed pages towards Klein.

Klein turned them around and took a glance at them, but it immediately stunned him!

Although the ‘symbols’ had been copied in terribly ugly fashion, to the point of looking a little distorted, there was no way he could be mistaken…

This was because they were words he was most familiar with.

Chinese!

And it’s f**king Simplified Chinese!

Yarhou.net

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