Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
Sitting at his own dining table on a foggy morning, Klein broke up his specially bought wheat bread and soaked it in milk, improving the way he ate it.
Although his body had changed a long time ago, his pursuit and obsession with delicacies were engraved into his soul. He was completely unable to adapt to the Loen Kingdom’s monotonous and repetitive style of breakfast. He could only try his best at experimenting. He tried not to limit himself to toast, bread, bacon, sausages, and butter. He tried hard to expand the boundaries and improve the way he ate. For example, his recipes had new additions such as pork-filled pastries from the south, Feynapotter noodles, and roasted corn pastries.
“Caviar from the Feysac Empire isn’t bad either, but it’s too expensive. It’s only suitable for formal meals…” Klein scooped up a small piece of wheat bread he had softened and put it in his mouth. Just by chewing it a little, he could feel the intertwining flavors of milk with the fragrance of wheat. The aftertaste of the bread was even sweeter.
After breakfast, Klein put down his cutlery, but he was in no hurry to tidy up the table. He picked up the newspapers, and began to read.
I’ll do a divination in a while. If there’s nothing else to do, I’ll pay Mr. Leppard a visit at St. George Borough’s Sird Street and see if his new transportation vehicle is worth investing in… Backlund is really big. Every borough is almost the size of Tingen City. The East Borough is especially ridiculous. It’s at least twice as large… The easiest and most economical way to travel is to walk, followed by the steam metro, before walking again. It’s just quite a waste of time… Klein’s mind wandered aimlessly.
Backlund’s public horse carriage system was rather similar to Tingen’s. The price was about the same, but the only problem was that most of them were confined to a single borough. If one wanted to go from Cherwood to St. George, a few transfers were needed and that would naturally raise the price.
Such a situation made the prospects for a new transportation vehicle very alluring.
Knock! Knock! Knock!
At that moment, knocks on the door sounded. It was as loud as the pounding of a hammer.
Who is it… Don’t they know how to ring the doorbell… He muttered a few words, straightened his collar, walked to the door, and pulled it open.
In front of him was a familiar face. It was the highlander man who had chased Ian at the steam metro. His skin was dark, his eye sockets recessed, and he was lean and hardy man.
According to Klein’s mediumship results, the man’s name was Meursault, an “executioner” of the Zmanger gang who was almost equal to the boss.
“Excuse me, who are you looking for? Do you have a commission to entrust with me?” Klein deliberately acted somewhat confused.
Meursault was wearing a black coat and a pompous silk hat, but he didn’t look anything like a gentleman at all.
He coldly sized Klein up, then he asked in Loen, with a thick highlander accent, “Are you Detective Sherlock Moriarty?”
“Yes,” Klein replied short and sweet.
Meursault nodded his head stiffly.
“I want to hire you to find someone.”
“We can talk about the exact situation inside.” Klein prevented himself from acting odd in any way.
Meursault shook his head coldly.
“There’s no need.”
After saying that, his eyes suddenly became sharp.
“The person I’m looking for is called Ian. Ian Wright. He has a pair of bright red eyes, maybe fifteen or sixteen. He likes to wear a brown, old coat and a round hat of the same color. I believe you know him.”
Klein let out a soft chuckle.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Meursault seemed to ignore Klein’s denial. “He’s a thief who has stolen an important item from me. If you can find him, you’ll be paid at least 10 pounds.”
“You’ve provided too few clues.” Klein made up an excuse.
“30 pounds.” Meursault made a new offer.
Klein glanced at him and said, “No, this is against my principle of confidentiality.”
“50 pounds,” Meursault replied coldly.
“… I’m sorry, I cannot accept the mission.” Klein was startled for two seconds, but in the end, he still chose to reject the request.
Meursault studied him slowly for a few seconds as his eyes slowly turned cold and fierce.
He didn’t offer a new price, nor did he politely bid farewell. He turned around abruptly and walked quickly to the end of the street.
This gang has pretty good intelligence… They actually know that Ian had come to me once… Klein secretly sighed, full of emotion, but he didn’t feel too much anxiety or fear.
After all, I’m someone who once directly faced the son of an evil god, although, it was separated by a belly… As he thought about it, his smile suddenly became brilliant. He began flipping a coin to decide whether or not he was going out today.
The answer was positive.
St. George Borough, Sird Street.
Having transferred from a tracked public carriage to the steam metro, before transferring to a trackless carriage, Klein finally arrived at his destination, spending a total of 11 pence.
Just after he alighted the carriage, he discovered that a drizzle had already started, but he hadn’t brought an umbrella.
According to the newspapers and magazines, this is a daily occurrence in Backlund. The reason why hats are popular is that ladies and gentlemen don’t carry umbrellas all the time. Klein pressed down on his half top hat and briskly ran outside Unit 9 and used the eaves to shield himself from the rain.
He brushed off the obvious water droplets from his body and rang the doorbell.
However, he didn’t hear any cuckoo sounds or tinkling sounds.
Is the doorbell broken? Klein was just about to raise his hand to knock when he suddenly saw footsteps approaching from afar.
The image of the person naturally appeared in his mind. It was a tall, thin man with black hair and blue eyes. He was in his thirties and was dressed in grayish-blue worker attire, but he appeared gentle and refined.
Creak. The door opened. The gentleman rubbed his forehead and asked, “May I know who you are looking for? Is there something?”
Klein took off his hat and bowed slightly.
“I’m here to find Mr. Leppard. I’m interested in his new transportation vehicle.”
The gentleman’s eyes suddenly lit up.
“I’m Leppard. Come in, please.”
He turned to the side and allowed Klein entry. However, there was no coat rack in the foyer.
Klein could only lean his cane and not take off his coat. He followed Leppard into the living room.
It had to be said that the gentleman’s house was very messy. On the coffee table in the living room alone were many mechanical objects, such as wrenches, bearings and screwdrivers.
“How much do you wish to invest? Ah, right. Would you like some coffee or black tea? Uh… it seems I’m out of black tea…” Leppard blurted out.
This gentleman is a bit straightforward, and doesn’t seem to be very good at interpersonal relationships… A thought flashed through Klein’s mind, and he changed the words he planned on saying. He went straight to the point, “I’ve to see your new transportation vehicle before I make a decision.
“I can’t make any promises without understanding anything.”
As he spoke, he looked around and saw a triangular Sacred Emblem hanging on the wall.
That was the symbol of the God of Steam and Machinery. The solid triangle was filled with symbols such as steam, gears, and levers.
Leppard wasn’t irritated by Klein’s straightforwardness. He immediately said, “I’ll show you.”
As soon as he said that, he slapped his head. “I almost forgot, we have to sign a non-disclosure agreement to ensure that you don’t steal my invention.”
Mr. Leppard, you don’t have a very good memory either… Klein smiled and said, “That wouldn’t be an issue.”
After signing the simple contract, Leppard led Klein into a room that seemed like an activity room. He had knocked through the neighboring guest room and basement, making it much wider and spacious.
The ground was littered with components, and a rough object, that was half the height of a man, that resembled a carriage stood in the center.
In addition to that, the line of the doorbell was connected there and was cleverly constructed. As long as someone pulled the rope, a steel ball would pop out from the mechanism, allowing it to roll along a special track before colliding with the object in the center to produce a clanging sound.
The sound certainly wasn’t too loud, but it was enough to rouse Leppard who was engrossed in machinery.
“Is that the new form of transportation you invented?” Klein pointed to the crude object in the middle of the room.
“Yes, I invented it based on Emperor Roselle’s imagination!” He replied with a fervent look in his eyes.
“Emperor Roselle’s imagination?” Klein asked in surprise.
Leppard explained in a tone of adoration, “Emperor Roselle left behind a number of manuscripts in which he drew his vision of the machines of the future. He was an outstanding genius, no—a master! Many things have already been turned into reality! “Heh heh, this manuscript is kept in the Church of the God of Steam and Machinery. There’s no way for non pious believers to borrow them.”
… Emperor, are you still leaving no stones unturned for others… Klein’s mouth twitched, almost unable to maintain his smile.
“Describe it in detail.” He changed the subject.
Leppard led Klein to the crude metallic object and opened the door.
“This is a transportation tool that doesn’t need a horse.
“The driver sits in the front left seat, continuously stepping on the pedals. Through the levers and a chain connects to the four wheels, allowing the vehicle to roll forward. And on the wheels, I used inflated rubber which can make the journey smooth.”
So it’s a human-powered car? Klein couldn’t help but lampoon.
He said with some deliberation, “With such a huge carriage, and at least four passengers, it would be impossible to travel that far just by relying on human strength alone.”
“That’s exactly my next goal—to reduce the weight and expand the lever a few times! However, my financial situation isn’t at its best. I can’t fund any more attempts.” Leppard looked hopefully at Klein.
“Why not consider other methods? Such as using steam as the driving force?” Klein slowly organized his words.
Leppard shook his head. “There have been people who have invented that, but it has a very huge body, making it difficult to drive it along many streets.”
That was exactly what Klein was waiting for.
“Then, why don’t you just do something simpler? For example, have only two wheels with only one person without an outer shell.”
“You mean something like a bicycle?” Leppard asked in thought.
Roselle’s manuscript has that? Klein nodded heavily.
“Those bicycles which other people have invented aren’t very practical… Simplifying this… seems like it might work. It will really seem different. But, who would buy it?” Leppard said to himself.
Klein didn’t hesitate to provide him with a direction.
“The postman, the working class who have a bit of savings, the businessmen who doesn’t need to look respectable while hoping to save money… There are many of them in Backlund.”
Leppard thought for a moment, then nodded slightly.
“… I can try, but I don’t have the money for spare parts…”
“I’ll invest 100 gold pounds. In addition to my suggestion just now, I’ll take a total of…” Klein hesitated to say ten percent of the shares. Fifteen percent was better. After all, a hundred pounds was, strictly speaking, not much.
“You can have 35% of the shares! But that’s only limited to the bicycle concept you described!” Leppard spoke out first, afraid that Klein would make an unreasonable request.
“Deal!” Klein immediately laughed. “We’ll first draw up a simple contract and settle this matter. Afterwards, I’ll find a lawyer to make a formal contract and add some detailed terms. For example, if there’s anyone else who wants to invest, they must first get my consent.”
“No problem,” Leppard replied impatiently. All he wanted was to buy his spare parts as soon as possible.
In the gloominess brought about by the drizzle, Klein returned to Cherwood Borough’s Minsk Street.
He entered the house and went straight to the bathroom on the first floor and resolved the problem of his bloated stomach.
As the water echoed, Klein bent down to wash his hands.
At that moment, an image appeared in his mind.
The mirror in front of the sink reflected his lowered head, dim surroundings, and a pair of eyes to his side.
A pair of eyes!