Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
“Did you see a teenage boy? He’s wearing an old coat!” One of the men who dashed into the carriage asked the conductor fiercely.
Klein glanced at the man through the corner of his eyes. He was thin and hardy; his skin a dark shade from prolonged exposure to the sun. His eyes were much more recessed than the typical Loen Kingdom citizen.
A highlander? Or a mixed blood? He nodded thoughtfully.
In the middle of the Northern Continent, the point where the Hornacis mountain range began, there was a highland which was extremely hot and dry. Most of it belonged under the Feynapotter Kingdom, while the area west belonged to the Intis Republic. The area to the east belonged to the Loen Kingdom. Its natives were thin and barbarians, but they were brave and skillful in warfare. A long time ago, they posed as one of the biggest problems for the three nations. But with the advancement of gunpowder, and the changes in the way war was carried out, these highlanders eventually recognized reality and submitted.
A large number of them left the highlands and entered Backlund, Trier, Feynapotter City, and the various flourishing cities or ports in the Northern Continent. Some were workers, while others became grunts of the local triads. They dared to kill and showed no fear of thorny situations.
The conductor was a man in his twenties. He shrank back when he heard that as he pointed in the direction of the third-class carriage.
“I saw him… He went that way.”
The leader, wearing a black coat and half top hat, nodded indiscernibly. He led his men and rushed to the third-class carriage and showed no concern towards the surrounding passengers.
If I were that boy, I would’ve already alighted from the third-class carriage… As Klein read his newspaper, he began letting his thoughts stray.
About a minute later, the train whistled as the carriage doors closed.
Chug! Chug! The steam metro began speeding up as it cruised along. But at that moment, Klein suddenly sensed something as he looked up to see the door leading to the other second-class carriages.
The teenage boy walked slowly into the carriage wearing his old coat and round top hat while carrying a ragged haversack.
He looked adolescent and had refined facial features. His red eyes were staid and solemn.
… Impressive. He alighted from the third-class carriage and circled around to enter from the first-class carriage again? Was he afraid that his pursuers had partners waiting inside the metro station? Klein was slightly surprised. He felt that the boy’s handling of the situation was rather mature and careful. He was much better than most people in their twenties.
He clicked this left molar lightly and secretly activated his Spirit Vision. He scanned the boy and saw that he was in a state of fatigue. His emotions were tense and he was dispirited. However, he still maintained a blueness that represented calm thinking.
Impressive… at his age… Klein mumbled silently as he lowered his head and continued reading his papers.
The boy didn’t notice that he had been scrutinized by a Beyonder as he headed for the third-class carriage once again.
The rest of the journey happened stably and calmly. Klein arrived twenty minutes later at one of the three train stations in Cherwood Borough.
He took a rented carriage for nearly ten minutes before finding Minsk Street. According to the descriptions in the papers, he came to Unit 17 which was next to Unit 15 and pulled the doorbell.
As sounds reverberated inside the house, a mechanical bird that didn’t look too fancy popped out from above the door. It was about the size of a palm and was made up of gears and other parts. It constantly nodded its head and let out the sound of a cuckoo bird.
Not a bad toy. It’s just not very well-crafted… Klein made an objective assessment.
Nearly twenty seconds later, the dark door was pulled open. A young maidservant dressed in white and black looked warily at Klein and asked, “May I help you?”
Klein smiled and waved his cane which was now wrapped with the newspapers.
“I’m here to find Mrs. Sammer about renting a house. I’m guessing it hasn’t been rented out?”
The full name on the newspaper was Stelyn Sammer.
“Not at all. Please wait a moment.” The maidservant bent her back politely.
She rushed inside and reported to her mistress. Moments later, she came out again and ushered him in. She then helped him place his cane and luggage in the foyer and hung his coat and hat on a clothes rack in the same place.
A warm blast of air inundated him, dispersing the chill Klein had brought in. He scanned the area and first saw a uniquely designed fireplace. He saw pieces of red, smokeless charcoal burning inside.
Sammer’s living room was rather big. It was nearly equivalent to the entire Moretti’s first floor in area. Certain areas were decorated with carpets or oil paintings of beautiful sceneries.
The maidservant brought Klein to the sofa and said to her mistress in a pale yellow dress, “Madam, the guest is here.”
The mistress was in her thirties. She had blonde hair and blue eyes. She looked rather pretty and had preserved her youthfulness well. She held a silver-inlaid feathered royal fan in her hand.
As she was at home, and the fireplace made for a warm environment, she didn’t wear anything around her neck, revealing her white bosom and shiny long neck.
“Hello there, Mrs. Sammer.” Klein pressed one palm to his chest and bowed.
Mrs. Sammer smiled in a reserved manner.
“Good evening. Please, have a seat. Do you wish for some coffee or tea?”
Klein sat on the sofa and answered frankly, “Tea, please.”
“Julianne, Marquis Black Tea,” Instructed Mrs. Sammer. She then turned her eyes to Klein and asked, “How might I address you?”
“Sherlock Moriarty. You can call me Sherlock.” Klein had long thought of a fake name.
At that moment, he caught a whiff of a fragrance from the kitchen and saw complicated pipes.
“Heh, heh, those are my husband’s designs. Although his actual job is a manager at the Coim Company, he’s a machinery enthusiast. He’s also a member of the Kingdom’s Soot Reduction Association.” Mrs. Sammer noticed Klein’s gaze and explained with a smile.
Mrs, there’s no need to go into such detail. I’m not here on a blind date with your husband… Klein lampooned as he said without his smile waning, “Mrs. Sammer, I wish to rent the Unit 15.”
Mrs. Sammer straightened her back as she sat elegantly. She said with a smile, “I have to remind you of certain things. Unit 15 doesn’t have such pipes, reclining chairs, card tables, mahogany kitchen cabinets, fine porcelain, silver cutlery, gold-plated tea sets, or removable carpets…”
She pointed at the things in her house as she introduced them, one after another. After she was done, she added,
“It originally belonged to my elder sister and brother-in-law, but due to a business failure, my brother-in-law had no choice but to move to the Southern Continent. They have a plantation at Balam. However, I don’t agree with their choice. This is just too unfair for my niece and nephew. There are no good grammar schools there; not even a good home tutor.”
Mrs, that’s not something I would like to know… Klein nodded sincerely and said, “Apart from the weather, there’s no place in the Southern Continent that can compare with Backlund.”
His agreement satisfied Mrs. Sammer greatly as her eyes darted slightly.
“This house still has a three years lease. I wish for you to pay a year’s rent at once. 18 soli a week. The use of the furniture will cost 1 soli. I can collect a deposit of 50 pounds.”
Klein shook his head and smiled.
“Mrs. Sammer, you should be able to tell that I just arrived in Backlund. I don’t know what will happen to me in time. To pay 50 pounds for a deposit will lower my ability to resist any risks. My limit is half a year. 25 pounds.”
He still planned on renting another one-bedroom apartment in Backlund’s East Borough. He would use it to change his clothes, undergo disguises, and shirk off any tailing. It was necessary for what he planned to do.
Stelyn Stelyn nodded slightly and asked, “Have you studied at grammar school?”
Klein chuckled and said, “Yes, I later self-studied history.”
“Do you have any identification with you?” asked Stelyn casually.
“I’m sorry. I was in a hurry when I left home and forgot to bring it with me. Heh, heh, I forgot to introduce myself. I’m from Midseashire.” Klein deliberately used the accent his classmate, Welch, often used.
When he said “forgot,” it reminded him of Captain Dunn Smith. The smile on his face turned even more brilliant.
At this moment, the maidservant, Julianne, brought a cup of black tea over. The cup was porcelain-white with classic flowery patterns. Some areas were plated in gold.
Klein took a sip and found the fragrance distant. The mix of sourness and sweetness were perfect, and it was clearly much better than the Sibe black tea he often drank.
“Very authentic Marquis Black Tea.” He complimented with a description which couldn’t be faulted.
Mrs. Stelyn Sammer curled her lips and said, “Then, let’s do half a year’s rent. 25 pounds.”
Klein thanked her and engaged in a few minutes of idle chatter with her until another maidservant found a service contract from the study.
After both parties signed the contract, Klein counted 25 pounds while feeling the pinch and pushed it to Mrs. Sammer.
Stelyn counted it silently before smiling.
“Mr. Moriarty, I believe you’ll be finding a job in Backlund?”
“Yes,” Klein answered, feeling a little lost.
The corners of Stelyn’s mouth hooked up.
“I can give you some suggestions. With a weekly salary lower than 3 pounds, it would be difficult for you to live in Cherwood Borough. Your rent, food expenses, water, gas, and charcoal expenses, transport expenses, and everything else added up will cost at least 2 pounds 5 soli. Believe me, this is Backlund. One still has to consider new clothes and good cutlery and tea sets… A weekly salary of 3 pounds is the bare minimum.
“If your weekly salary reaches 5 pounds, you can hire a maidservant. At 6 pounds, you can consider hiring a chef. At 7 pounds, you can add a male servant. For 8 pounds, you can hire an additional maidservant…”
Mrs. Sammer, I think you are flaunting your wealth… I once earned more than 10 pounds a week… Klein maintained his smile as he listened attentively.
At that moment, the door suddenly opened. A stout man walked in, he was dressed in a black double-breasted suit and leather gloves of the same color. Above his lips were two elegant mustaches.
“Luke, this is Mr. Moriarty. He will be our neighbor,” Stelyn Sammer went forward and introduced him.
Obviously the master of the house, Luke took off his coat and handed it to the male servant beside him. He smiled politely and said, “Mr. Moriarty, would you like to join us for dinner?”
This is the manager of some Coim Company, a member of the Loen Kingdom’s Soot Reduction Association… Klein said with a smile, “I’m very sorry, Mr. Sammer. I’ve eaten on the steam locomotive; although, that taste does leave a deep impression on one.”
After exchanging some pleasantries, Klein was led by Julianne out of the house and into the neighboring Unit 15.
The layout was very similar to the unit next door. The first floor had a huge living room, a dining room with decent lighting, two guest rooms, a bathroom, a cellar, a kitchen that extended all the way back. On the second floor, there were four bedrooms, an activity room, a solarium, a study, two bedrooms, and a huge balcony.
“Mrs. Sammer wishes to tell you that you can rent out part of it, but not to workers or make this place too packed or noisy. Oh… I’ll bring you clean blankets, sheets, and pillow cases in a while.” Julianne returned to the Sammers after informing Klein.
After doing a round of packing, Klein finally settled into Backlund.
He sat in an empty living room and suddenly felt lonely. Hence, he forced himself to consider his future plans.
Whether he liked it or not, revenge and advancement couldn’t be done in the blink of an eye. Therefore, he had to obtain a lucrative job to prevent himself from facing any financial problems.
However, the job couldn’t restrict him and affect his movements and plans. In other words, he needed sufficient freedom.
After some deliberation and eliminating unsuitable jobs, Klein was left with three choices.
He could become an author by becoming a plagiarist. However, his identity was sensitive, so the more famous he became, the more trouble it meant. All he could do was give up unwillingly.
The second choice was to be a news reporter. This was considered quite a decent job in this time and age. However, job applications required his educational certificates and other documents. Klein was helpless in that respect.
Finally, he chose the third job.
This was also the reason why he had taken on a fake name.