Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
Klein asked after listening carefully, “So you suspect that the Zreal whom the detectives saw was someone in disguise?”
Holding his brown round hat, Ian replied as if he had already thought about it, “It’s a possibility, but I think it’s too difficult due to the huge risks involved. The party was at night, and it’s true that the lights weren’t very bright — but most of the people attending are detectives, detectives with keen observational skills. Just a wig, beard, or cosmetics can hardly hide from their eyes.”
Perhaps some Beyonder powers can do it… Just like how Creeping Hunger enables such an ability… There was a little trap in Klein’s question. He wished to determine from the teenage boy’s answer, the expression on his face, and his body language to determine if he had ever come into contact with Beyonders, or if he knew things about mysticism.
The initial answer was no.
When Ian saw Detective Moriarty nodding slightly in agreement with his reasoning, he continued, “I believe that the detectives saw Mr. Zreal, but he wasn’t free. He was in a controlled state in which he couldn’t send out distress signals. The reason why he wasn’t responding to my attempts to liaison with him is to probably signal to me that he needs help.”
“A reasonable explanation.” Klein released his clasped hands and sat back a little, making himself look more relaxed and confident.
Ian fell silent for about ten seconds before he said seriously, “I’d like to entrust you with the task of investigating Mr. Zreal and determine his current condition. All I need is confirmation.”
Considering that Ian was a semi-professional who had gathered intelligence and information for a detective, Klein had the intention to make his acquaintance. He smiled and said, “Then how much are you going to pay? You should be well aware that this may be very dangerous.”
Ian looked down at the pocket of his old coat and said after some deliberation, “There are two ways. The first, I can directly give you a payment that’s enough to satisfy you. Afterward, regardless of whether the mission is simple or difficult, that will be all unless you suffer a relatively serious injury.
“Secondly, I could pay you five pounds in advance, and when you finish the job, you can add on to the bill depending on the difficulty of the matter. But it’s easy to cause a dispute, even if there’s a contract.”
Klein pretended to be in thought and after almost thirty seconds, he said in a low voice, “Why don’t we do it this way? You can pay me five pounds in advance and help me with three things after the mission is completed. Don’t worry, they won’t be anything difficult. They will be within your capabilities, and it won’t make you feel too uncomfortable. This can be agreed upon in the contract.”
Ian knitted his brows before standing up. He leaned forward and stretched out his right hand.
Klein shook hands with him, pulled out a standard contract that he had prepared, picked up a round fountain pen, added all the details he had discussed, and stamped it with his fingerprint.
After signing the contract, he gave the teenage boy, Ian, a stack of white paper and watched him write Detective Zreal’s relevant information.
After a while, he browsed through the information and casually asked, “How can I contact you if there’s an emergency, or if I’ve confirmed Zreal’s condition?”
Ian pursed his lips and remained silent for quite a while. Only when Klein looked over did he reply in a somewhat stiff manner, “You don’t need to contact me. I will appear at the right time.”
Without another word, he took out a thick stack of cash from the pocket of his old coat. They seemed to be stacked up in a very neat order, from high face value to low face value.
Ian pulled out three one-pound notes from the bottom, counted six five-soli notes, and finally ten one-soli notes.
When Klein saw that Ian had neatly arranged the notes, with even the portraits of the former kings facing up without a single mistake, Klein suddenly felt a bit frustrated.
This is some late-stage obsessive-compulsive disorder… He silently exhaled and received the payment from Ian.
According to his visual estimate, Ian had less than three pounds left.
He probably had all his savings with him… If I had asked for more, would he bail on me without paying? He doesn’t look like the kind of person to do so, but one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover… Klein folded the bills at random and stuffed them into his pocket, ignoring the untidiness. As such, he succeeded in seeing Ian’s slightly twisted expression.
“I’ll try to complete the investigation as soon as possible.” Klein stood up and held out his hand as a gesture of bidding him farewell.
“Thank you for your help.” Ian thanked him sincerely because the counteroffer was obviously a “discount.”
Watching the boy who was more mature than his age leave, Klein stroked his chin and silently said to himself, This matter goes deeper than it seems.
Ian didn’t mention anything about Zreal’s recent investigations or what information he had been instructed to gather…
Forget it. I’ll handle as much as the money is worth. All I need to do is confirm Zreal’s current condition.
He turned around and walked back into the living room. While doing so, he fished a quarter pence out of his trouser pocket.
As the copper coin tumbled in the air, Klein’s eyes turned dark as he muttered if there were any Beyonder elements in the case he was handling.
Then, he opened his right hand and tried to catch the copper penny.
Clang! The coin slipped from his fingertips and fell to the ground, rolling away.
This result meant that the divination had failed.
From the looks of it, Ian has withheld more things than I thought… The information is so lacking that I can’t even obtain a vague divination result… He pursed his lips, took a few steps forward, and bent down to pick up the coin.
That night, in the wee hours of the morning, at 138 Rose Street, Backlund Bridge.
Klein had changed into a cheap light-blue workman’s outfit. His mouth, chin, and cheeks were covered with a black beard that, at first glance, made him look rough and savage.
He wore a dark-colored cap and pressed it so low that it nearly covered his eyes.
Such caps originated from the Intis Republic hunters. There were certain differences from the traditional deer-hunting caps the Loen Kingdom hunters wore. However, such caps had become popular among the lower-class populace of Backlund.
Hiding in the shadows of an Intis parasol tree by the side of the road, Klein studied the house across the street with the aid of the elegant gas lamps.
It was Zreal’s home.
The detective was from Southville. His parents, relatives, and friends were all there, and he had come to Backlund alone where he slowly forged a name for himself.
He was still a bachelor and had only hired two temporary maids, the kind that came by every three days to clean up the place, without needing to provide them with food or lodging.
At the moment, the terrace house he rented was pitch dark.
Klein took off the silver chain inside his sleeve and let the topaz pendant hang down naturally.
“There’s danger inside.
“There’s danger inside.”
After repeating it seven times, he opened his eyes and saw the spirit pendulum spinning clockwise, but very slowly.
“There’s danger, but it’s nothing serious,” Klein muttered, and once again confirmed that he had his tarot cards, self-made charms, and Holy Night Powder on him.
After doing all this, he looked around, and taking advantage of the stillness of the night, he nimbly rushed across the street.
There was no veranda, garden, or lawn as it directly faced the edge of the street. Klein went around to the side and easily climbed up the water pipe to the small balcony on the second floor where clothes could be hung out to dry.
Immediately following that, he took out a tarot card and slid it through the crack, opening the door to the corridor.
Following Ian’s drawing of the house’s layout, Klein walked almost soundlessly to Zreal’s bedroom.
He lightly tapped his left molar and activated his Spirit Vision. Through the wooden door, he looked inside.
Spirit Vision could see aura colors through obstacles without spirituality. However, it was highly dependent on one’s abilities. Currently, Klein was able to observe through wooden doors but was stumped by concrete walls. Furthermore, the scenes he could see weren’t too clear.
In his vision, he saw three humanoid auras in the bedroom behind the door. The colors were blurry and were located in different locations.
There are three people lying in ambush… Is it to capture Ian, or someone else? The bedroom isn’t that big… Klein stood in the darkness, calmly considering the results of his observations.
At that moment, he suddenly retreated towards the balcony while keeping his footsteps very light.
Back at the balcony, Klein took a thin silver slice from his pocket.
This was a Slumber Charm that he had created in an attempt during the afternoon.
He didn’t pray to the Evernight Goddess, but to himself instead. He held a ritual in the name of “The Fool that doesn’t belong to this era, the mysterious ruler above the gray fog; the King of Yellow and Black who wields good luck” before entering the world above the gray fog to respond.
Since this method was difficult to mobilize the power of the mysterious space above the gray fog, Klein could only use his own spirituality to “respond.” The charms that he made in the end were worse than normal, but better than the ones he made in his own name.
After surveying his surroundings again, Klein covered his mouth and whispered a word in ancient Hermes.
Feeling the chill of the charm, he moved quickly but silently to the door of Zreal’s bedroom again. As he held the handle, he injected spirituality into the thin silver slice.
Creak! Klein carefully twisted the handle and opened a tiny crack in the door.
Immediately after that, he threw the Slumber Charm inside.
Pulling back his arm, Klein closed the door again and began counting.
He abruptly pushed open the door and rolled on the ground.
Not sensing any movement from the three people, Klein stood up and, using the crimson moonlight shining through the window, began observing the room.
It was a normal furnished bedroom with a bed, a row of closets, a desk, a set of sofas, and a coat rack.
On the other side of the bed, a man in a black coat was sleeping soundly.
In addition to that, there was one person by the side of the sofa and another in front of the closet. All of them were asleep.
After confirming the trio’s condition, Klein walked over to the bed and bent down to find a few short, yellowish-brown hair.
According to what Ian had written, Detective Zrell was a man with short, yellowish-brown hair.
“This should be right…” Klein whispered. He grabbed the few strands of hair and sat down on the sofa. He slowly sat in the darkness tainted by the crimson light and planned on using dream divination to find Zreal.
Leaning back against the back of the sofa, the corner of his mouth curled up as he made a self-deprecating comment, Deduction, my good man…