No Hero Volume 1: Vampire Butler
Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo)
Diary of a Butler Chapter 5: Protect the Young Master Even to Death – translated by Kiyutsuna
Please watch over your only child from the heavens, and bless him so that he quickly masters the poker face a good butler needs…not even a 0.00x cm twitch is allowed!
My most challenging task began after the young master had turned in for the night, and the simple cleaning tasks were finished.
In order to fully cater to the young master’s every need, I often used the night to research information about weapons development and modification. Since books could no longer aid me to fulfill the young master’s requests, I had switched to using the Internet for additional knowledge.
Recently, the weapon that the young master has been modifying was a special one. He was modifying a backpack. Yes indeed, a backpack. Though technically speaking, it was a satchel. It appeared to be made of leather, was coffee colored and very old fashioned. Besides the young master, no other young person nowadays would use a satchel like that.
Regardless of whether you looked at it from the front, the side, or picked it up and emptied out all of the compartments, the satchel the young master had modified would look no different from a traditional satchel. However, after having witnessed the modification process with my own eyes, I fully understood that —besides the outer appearance— the young master’s satchel was nothing like a traditional satchel at all.
The biggest difference between the two was that the young master’s modified satchel had at least ten different weapons hidden within it.
The satchel’s strap was a thin, flexible blade that was wrapped in canvas. The two buttons on the surface were miniature bombs. From the side seams, two long needles could be retrieved. The back contained a whole row of thin knives, and a very small gun was hidden in the bottom of the pack.
Inside, it looked the same as any regular backpack. However, I knew clearly that if the inner black divider were to be pulled out, it could turn into a chain whip.
The outermost pocket held three ballpoint pens of different colors. This was a normal set up for any student… except normal students would not have replaced the pens’ ink with two types of chemical solutions — solutions that were capable of creating a huge explosion when mixed together.
As I observed the young master modifying this satchel, I could not help but sigh in admiration. If this design were to be sold on the market during this chaotic era, every parent would definitely want to purchase one to ensure their children’s safety!
However, the young master seemed to have no plans to market it. He stuffed his textbooks into it as soon as he was done modifying it. Obviously it was to be brought to school the next day… Perhaps the young master’s university was much more dangerous than I had thought.
I’m getting off topic. Basically, as the young master pursued his talent for turning ordinary objects into weapons, I feared that even if I flipped through all of the weapons related books I could find in every single bookstore, the knowledge gained would still not be enough to satisfy his needs.
For example, just now when the young master asked with a hopeful gaze for fire proof paint, I was unable to pass it to him immediately. The disappointed expression the young master wore afterward made me deeply mourn my failure.
I was a butler yet I was unable to meet my master’s needs. How irresponsible.
I could not help but feel that no matter how much I studied, I still would not have been able to give him fire proof paint at that time. After all, it was something rarely used when modifying weapons.
Therefore, I felt somewhat troubled.
Dear Father, what does one do when the employer’s needs are as profound and mysterious as the ocean? Even if I prepared all the equipment I know of, the young master’s house is not large enough to fit them all…
As I was wearily pondering, the cell phone in my pocket suddenly rang. I was a bit startled, for the young master would not phone me when we were both inside the house. Perhaps it is Mr. Kyle calling?
The caller ID on the screen showed that it was the bodyguard captain.
I took the call and immediately heard the familiar voice of the bodyguard. He quickly asked, “Mr. Butler, may I inquire if the young master is still at home?”
“Yes, he has already turned in for the night.”
Instead of hanging up upon receiving an answer, the bodyguard continued with a stiff tone, “Please check if he is still in the apartment.”
I was caught off guard by the request, but answered with a “yes,” then headed to the young master’s room. I knocked and received no response. After knocking again, there was still silence.
“Young Master, I’m coming in.”
Upon opening the door, I discovered the room to be empty. The bathroom lights were off as well. Only a cell phone lay upon the bed, and it was vibrating non-stop.
The young master seems to forget his phone often when he goes out…
I could only call the bodyguard back to report, “The young master is not in his room. I do not know where he has gone.”
Not only that, I also had no idea where he had left from. I was in the living room the whole time, and to get to the front door, one must pass through the living room.
“Understood.” The bodyguard’s voice did not sound at all surprised. He paused for a bit before asking in a very polite tone, “Would you perhaps be willing to come to the rooftop? It is a matter unrelated to work.”
“Rooftop… Very well,” I quietly replied.
The elevator did not connect to the rooftop, so I had to make my way up via the fire escape. The door was left ajar when I arrived, so I took the hint to let myself in.
This rooftop was not as dark as I had imagined. Actually, there were even lights that illuminated a small circle in the center. However, contrast created by the sole circle of light made the rest of the rooftop seem even darker.
A man stood in the center of the bright circle. He was very tall. Judging by sight, I would say he was about 200 centimeters tall, not bulging with muscles, yet not scrawny either. His face revealed him to be an older man with wrinkles etched on the bronze colored skin of a laborer. I would guess this man to be around forty or fifty.
I took the initiative to greet him. “Good evening, I am Charles Endelis, the young master’s butler. How should I address you?”
Perhaps it was my politeness that caused the bodyguard’s frown to relax a bit. He nodded and replied, “Just call me Bramble.1 It’s not my real name, hope you don’t mind. Those in our line of work all use aliases.”
“Yes, Mr. Bramble, please just call me Charles as well.”
Bramble nodded again and then became silent. I waited patiently, for I was sure that the reason he called me up specifically was not to simply exchange names.
He broke the silence after only a short while. “The young master is missing again. At noon, you were worried as well, right?”
“Yes.” I clearly heard the stress Bramble put on the word “again.” His tone dropped more than just a bit. It looked like the young master went missing quite often.
“I warned you in the afternoon not to worry too much about the young master going missing. He disappears nearly every day. The longest disappearance was about thirty-six hours without a single trace.”
“The young master is still young. Most young people simply dislike being tailed.”
As the bodyguard’s tone became increasingly accusatory, I could not help but speak up for the young master. According to my observations, the young master’s living space was completely under surveillance. With bodyguards on the rooftop and constantly being trailed when he headed out as well, wanting to escape was a normal reaction.
Coldly, Bramble replied, “The young master is the target we protect to the death. If he had gone missing for one more day that time, all of us bodyguards would’ve had to commit suicide.”
I could not help but smile a bit. Humans will never protect anyone but themselves to that extreme. Even if they were bodyguards, they definitely would not protect their employer to the death.
Having noticed my smile, Bramble’s gaze became sharp like a sword. He said icily, “The orders we received were as follows: If 372 bodyguards could not find the young master within twenty-four hours, mission ‘Protect to the Death’ would be declared a failure. Afterward, other than waiting for the Sun Emperor’s execution team, the only choice would be group suicide.”
I began to consider Bramble’s words seriously after having heard that name.
Year 2112, countries had weakened; power over the world was divided among hundreds of businesses. These businesses then banded together into economic alliances under the lure of collective benefits.
Currently, the most powerful economic alliance was the Sun Alliance with control over almost 30% of the whole world’s economic wealth. The Sun Alliance was named after its leader, whose last name was Ri.2 Therefore, he was known as the Sun Emperor to the public; a true emperor in every sense of the word.
The Sun Emperor was known for his cold and heartless ways. “Traitors must die” was his most famous motto.
There were many security companies under the Sun Alliance. The most well-known was Sun Security. What brought it to the spotlight was its top level mission—”Protect to the Death.” If the employer dies or goes missing during the mission, all of the bodyguards involved would be executed. Apparently, it would not be a merciful death, either.
“I have not heard of any ‘Protect to the Death’ missions lately.”
I frowned as I thought the matter over. Whenever a “Protect to the Death” mission was announced, the media would create a huge uproar. Even a vampire such as me could not help but be familiar with the world’s dictator, the Sun Emperor, and Sun Security’s top level mission through the media.
Even though just about every employer would wish to hire bodyguards to protect them to the death, Sun Security rarely ever gave out such a mission. No matter how much money was offered, no one was guaranteed to be able to hire bodyguards from Sun Security under “Protect to the Death.”
However, this was what made the mission all the more famous. After all, the appeal of something was directly proportional to its rarity. Also, who would not want to be protected in such a way?
Bramble said matter-of-factly, “This mission is a secret. The young master’s identity is also a secret. Don’t ask me because I don’t know either. All I know is that if anything were to happen to the young master, 372 brothers, including myself, would all die!”
Yet the young master disappears almost every day… I could understand Bramble’s anger now. Each time the young master disappears, all the bodyguards would have to pray for their lives!
“372 brothers, butler. Do you have any idea what that number means?”
Bramble stared at me, and I quickly answered by shaking my head. He then continued to speak. “The most bodyguards ever utilized for a ‘Protect to the Death’ mission was when the late top singer Raines3 went on tour. Do you know how many bodyguards were sent on that mission?”
I shook my head again. That “Protect to the Death” mission was very famous. However, even though the media made a huge fuss, the numbers varied with each report. From twenty something to a hundred, the numbers were not trustworthy at all.
That was the crisp answer he gave.
Yet, the young master had 372 bodyguards to protect him to the death. I was shocked. What kind of identity did it take to have almost 200 more bodyguards than someone like Raines, the world’s top singer?
Bramble said coldly, “This number means only one thing, butler. If anything were to happen to the young master, you wouldn’t get away unscathed either. Even if you are a nearly immortal vampire, the Sun Emperor can still turn you to ash!”
I suddenly understood why Bramble had called me up here and told me so much. I looked at him and asked with confidence, “You want me to help monitor the young master?”
“You’re a smart person, butler.” Bramble nodded.
I did not know whether to laugh or cry as I said, “I am a butler, not a bodyguard. Why not send people to the house to watch over the young master?”
“The young master doesn’t allow it,” Bramble replied stiffly. “We were ordered to completely obey the young master. Even if he wanted all 372 of us to put a bullet through our skulls, we’d have to do it.”
At that, I immediately felt sympathetic toward the bodyguards’ situation. They had to obey the young master yet protect him at the same time when he clearly disliked their presence very much.
I sighed and said honestly, “I am afraid I am unable to do that. I do not even know how many secret passages there are in the house. Until just now when the young master left through one in his room, I did not even know there were any in the room…”
“The young master’s room doesn’t have any secret passages,” Bramble interrupted. “Only the secret room behind the television wall has secret passages. The numbers are numerous, mind you. Even we don’t know where all of them are.”
“Then how did the young master leave?”
“I was hoping you could tell me that,” came the cold reply.
I thought for a moment and frowned. “The young master’s room has a window that can be opened.”
“Unless he jumped down, we’d have noticed.”
Jumped down? I shook my head. That was impossible. The young master’s room was twenty-five stories up. Even with a modified body, nobody could jump that height and come out unscathed.
I suddenly remembered something. “Are there not surveillance cameras in the room?”
“The cameras inside the room aren’t within our control. Only the ones in the corridor outside of the main door are ours.”
Right, Mr. Kyle had said those were installed by the young master’s brother… Brother? It couldn’t be that my “master” was…
“Does the Sun Emperor have a younger brother?” I asked abruptly.
Bramble looked at me strangely, then replied, “Of course not.”
I smiled wryly. It was no surprise that Bramble would react in such a way. If the Sun Emperor had a sibling, then simply by relation he would likely be a world famous person! It was just that, besides having relations with the undisputed emperor, I could not think of any other identity that would require Sun Security to dispatch three hundred and seventy two bodyguards on a “Protect to the Death” mission.
“Do not guess at your young master’s identity. Even if you do find out, you’ll have to act as if you didn’t know. In comparison, it’s much better to not know anything to begin with!”
I nodded. Bramble was truly an experienced bodyguard; his words were very similar to what Father used to say. If the employer did not want the butler to know something, then even if it were found out, we must forget it immediately.
“What’s important is the young master’s safety.” Bramble furrowed his brow and said with a heavy voice, “I think the young master might be deeply engrossed in the hero game.”
I was struck by the sudden realization. So that was it, the reason for the young master’s frequent disappearances was to play hero? This was definitely possible. The young master was still young, and he majored in combat. Not to mention that his skills were not weak either. He had the passion and ability to be a hero.
The young master couldn’t be the most handsome hero, First Wind, could he? From the young master’s unique charisma, the possibility was there… Oh no, I shouldn’t be guessing at the young master’s identity. I need to quickly forget about this!
“Heroes. What idiotic beings!” Bramble did not bother to hide his distaste and disgust.
“To put it that way is a bit too biased. Heroes have saved many people as well.”
I agreed that most people are only playing hero as a game, such as the “hero apprentice” I met in the afternoon. I would be hard pressed to truly see him as a hero. On the other hand, Solitary Butterfly was a hero worth anticipating.
Bramble looked at me, before asking coldly, “Butler, if it were you, would you put your life in the hands of bodyguards or look up to the sky and wait for heroes to save you?”
Oh… I desperately wanted to reply that I would wait and look to the sky…
But that was because I was a vampire. If I honestly could not save myself, I doubt bodyguards would be much help. In comparison, waiting for heroes may give me a better chance of salvation.
Sadly, the most likely scenario was that both bodyguards and heroes would end up buried underground with me.
“Of course you are more reliable.” I wisely decided not to say anything that would anger Bramble.
To that he replied proudly, “My brothers are all the best of the best. Almost all of them have participated in ‘Protect to the Death’ missions before. Even after being hit with hundreds of bullets, they would still stand firm in front of the employer. Everyone understands that even if they were to die, the other bodyguards would survive and use their lives to protect their family members!”
“The friendship you share is worthy of respect.” This time, my tone was sincere.
“Only the weak would wait for things like heroes,” Bramble said mercilessly. “To keep living, you have to give it everything you’ve got and be willing to use any method to remove all obstructions.”
I smiled, refraining from making any comments.
“We’re getting off topic again,” Bramble frowned, then looked me over with a bemused expression and asked curiously, “How odd, talking to you always gets me off topic. Could this be some strange ability you have as a vampire?”
“Of course there is no such ability,” I replied with a smile. “It is because I am a butler, therefore I am used to listening attentively to the master speak.”
Bramble nodded casually at my explanation, then continued on with the main topic. He admitted bluntly, “The young master is indeed not as impulsive as other young people.”
As he spoke, his frown became less severe. I think he clearly knew about the young master’s disciplined life style. After seeing that, anyone would say that the young master was a good child.
“However, the young master is still green. There are many things a little brat like him does not know.”
Bramble turned around, looking out into the distance. With his brow furrowed deeply once again, he spoke. “You should know very clearly, vampire, just what kind of monster this field of rooftops is.”
I followed his gaze. From this view point, all of the tall buildings’ rooftops looked the same. There was nothing but darkness. Perhaps because the buildings were too close together, all the rooftops seemed to connect into one uneven land of darkness.
This was a forgotten land that humans rarely noticed.
It contrasted with the bright colors that made up the streets below. This piece of black land was where shadows gathered. All sorts of “dark beings” congregated up here, fighting to win new rooftops for their personal territory.
I was very clear on these facts. However, to me, there was nothing to be afraid of, for I was a member of these dark races to begin with. A fifth generation vampire would actually be at the top of the dark hierarchy… Even if I were to step upon the old residents of the rooftop while passing, they would not dare to provoke me.
Beings of darkness were always skilled at differentiating between the strong and the weak. To them, snatching necessities from the weak and staying clear of the strong was essential for survival.
The humans and non-humans who knew about this all called the rooftops…
“The Dark Realm that belongs to non-humans,” I replied softly.
Bramble turned back to look at me and praised, “So you do understand.”
I nodded, then after some thought replied earnestly, “I could inform the young master about the danger of the Dark Realm. However, I will not admonish the young master for anything. That is not something I should do.”
Bramble’s expression turned resentful as he heard me, and he shouted harshly, “Butler! My brothers here are all the best of the best, the top bodyguards! Every one of them would put their life down to protect the young master. But look at us now, we can only sit here and pray to the f***ing heavens that when the young master goes missing, he won’t step on a rooftop that should not be stepped on. He’d be disposed of like a flimsy piece of trash.”
I looked around. It was very dark, but indeed there was the faint sound of breathing to show that there were many bodyguards up here.
I thought for a moment and said with a tone of absolute sincerity, “To all the bodyguards here, I admire you very much and believe that, as the best bodyguards, you have the responsibility and resolve to protect the young master with your lives. However, please also understand my position. I am a butler. My responsibility is to fulfill all of the young master’s needs, not to admonish him about what he should or should not do.”
Having heard that, Bramble turned away and was silent for a long time. When he finally turned to face me again, he told me expressionlessly, “You’re a good butler. We’re done here. You can go back and continue to make the house spotlessly clean and wait for the young master to come back so you may serve him.”
Even though Bramble’s words might have seemed like praise, I could tell from his icy expression and wording that he was very angry. He was livid enough that the sarcasm directed at me was only for the sake of holding down his seething anger.
“I am very sorry that I could not be of help to you all.”
Bramble did not answer, but after a while, he nodded stiffly.
At this point, I thought I should take my leave. I could not see the bodyguards around us, but from Bramble’s reaction, I concluded that they would not be too friendly toward me.
After bidding an “until next time” to Bramble, I turned to leave as I observed the surroundings. From purposeful observation, I noticed this rooftop was not actually empty. There were many large objects lying around. There were many human silhouettes as well. Most were perfectly still. Although I could not make out more than a vague outline, I could feel that they were currently “seeing” me off.
I felt a sudden gratitude for the rooftop’s darkness as it spared me from seeing these bodyguards’ expressions.
“Captain! Something’s flying this way.”
Hearing this loud shout, I hesitated but still ceased my steps.
“Signal to it.” Bramble’s voice came from behind me.
The lights at the perimeters of the rooftop flashed twice.
“Flash again,” Bramble shouted.
Again two flashes of lights.
“No way, it’s still approaching. It’s no use, Captain!”
Finally, I turned around and, as expected, saw a black shadow charging straight toward the building. It was shaped like a bird but much larger. I then looked over to Bramble whose brow was knitted tightly together once more. He seemed to be planning a countermeasure.
Even though I refused to help them regarding the young master, I still felt sympathetic to these guards. There was no harm in helping them out a little.
I took a deep breath before using the vampires’ unique Hollow Roar toward the sky.
“This be my territory, begone!”
Most dark beings were reluctant to anger vampires. Even though not every vampire was strong, the general consensus about vampires was that they were hard to kill.
Bramble glanced at me but did not say anything.
Despite my effort, that shadow continued to fly toward us and was closing in fast. If it were not for the night hindering our field of vision, we might have even been able to see the other’s features clearly.
At that moment, Bramble ordered resolutely, “Aim, then fire immediately.”
“Wait a moment…”
I felt that this was not a wise action to take. This rooftop was not exactly an important place. The target had no reason to take the risk and invade it. Perhaps he had other reasons for coming here.
From the darkness, there suddenly came other voices. “Butler, shouldn’t you be going back to… Oh right! Weren’t you going to unclog the toilets?”
Mocking laughter rose up from all around, but what mattered to me was that shadow. He had flown close enough for me to make out his figure in detail. This was a humanoid being with wings. Within non-humans, were there any that were humanoid and could fly using wings…?
“Ready, aim, fire.”
Before I had time to think thoroughly, the bodyguards had opened fire. They used energy cannons, and as the beam of light fired, it lit up the whole rooftop.
At that moment, I saw the features of that black shadow. He was a man with wings. He seemed to be wearing a mask or goggles of some sort, so his facial features were indiscernible. Also, he was holding another person in his arms. If my eyes have not been fooling me, it was a little girl.
No human or non-human would seek trouble while holding a little girl. That person truly held no bad intentions.
I watched the energy cannon hit that person, and they dropped out of my field of vision in a flash. I sighed deeply, “Truly a shame.”
“What did you say?” Bramble heard my words and turned to look at me.
I hesitated but decided to not mention the little girl. Since they had already been shot down, it was pointless to say anything more.
“Captain! We’ve got big trouble!”
A bodyguard rushed toward Bramble while shouting and stumbling in his state of panic. He looked to be much younger than Bramble, around thirty years old at the most. What stood out was his hair, which was a very light shade of gray. Whether it was dyed or natural was anyone’s guess.
Also, his voice… It seemed he was the same person who had reminded me to head back and unclog toilets.
Bramble mercilessly scolded him, “Why are you panicking? How unsightly!”
However, that bodyguard waved his arms about in an exaggerated fashion and shouted, “Never mind my image! Captain, Bri is in trouble!”
Bramble stiffened, and his face froze.
Bri?4 Judging from the bodyguard’s actions and Bramble’s reaction, Bri must be an important person to him. However, I did not think it could be his wife. Due to his age, there was no way that young bodyguard could have referred to Bramble’s wife with such a nickname. Unless it was a child… I was suddenly reminded of the little girl I had seen just now.
I deeply and sorrowfully hoped that things had not gone the way I had imagined. That kind of development would be much too regretful.
In his frantic hurry, the bodyguard did not wait for Bramble to react before yelling to those in the shadows. “Hu-hurry and project the video!”
From the darkness came a hesitant voice, asking, “Captain?”
Bramble finally snapped out of it and quickly shouted, “Follow Dell’s5 instructions.”
A 3-D projection cut through the rooftop’s darkness and drew everyone’s attentions. The video contained a news broadcast. The subtitles flashed by, ceaselessly describing the content: ‘Bank robbers kidnap hostage while escaping. Police and heroes helpless in the face of a crisis.’
The reporter seemed to be broadcasting from a helicopter that was circling in the sky and spoke very loudly. Even though it was night time, with the aid of many searchlights, the roof of a tall building was clearly illuminated. The people on top were divided into two groups. One group of three or four people stood near the edge of the building. The other group consisted of three people who stood near the doorway that went down into the building. Of the three, two people wearing police uniforms stood in the back. The other stood near the front. She was…
“Solitary Butterfly,” I quietly murmured her name. However, the one who flew here before was definitely not Solitary Butterfly. That person had been male.
The video then cut to close ups, showing the features of the masked robbers and hostage clearly.
Bramble immediately gave a shout of dismay, “Bri!”
The hostage was a little girl. One robber had his arm wrapped tightly around her neck, while his other hand held a gun aimed at her temple. The girl looked to be around ten years old. She looked utterly adorable with her round face, big eyes and hair tied in two buns on either side of her head. Despite the dangerous situation, she did not cry or make a scene, only opening her eyes wide. Her courage was most admirable.
However, I was unable to distinguish whether or not she was the one who had been held by the man from before. With only a moment of strong light, it had been difficult to fully make out that girl’s features.
The image once again changed to a close up of Solitary Butterfly. She stood still; her two guns lay on the ground in front of her. It could be assumed that the robbers had used the hostage to force her to drop them. The two policemen behind her were in a similar situation. The existence of a hostage prevented the trio from acting rashly.
“I have to go save her!”
Off screen, Bramble was so distraught that the calm and composed aura he’d had as a bodyguard captain vanished completely. He started to give orders to the panicked bodyguard from before. “Dell, you’re coming with me. We… we can climb up from the side of the building. It definitely won’t alert those robbers…”
Then, a voice cut off Bramble’s orders. Unlike Dell, the owner of the voice was extremely composed as he said, “Captain, calm down. This is a rerun of the news report, not live reporting. Even if you headed there, it’d be too late.”
I glanced at the time on the news, and sure enough, the scene had happened around an hour ago. As I was still looking at the time, the image of the news report suddenly shifted, and the time it showed shifted to half an hour ago.
The image was zoomed out so that the entire rooftop, as well as the sky above, could fit on the screen. An armed helicopter could be seen hovering above the rooftop with a rope ladder dangling down. A few robbers were in the act of climbing up the ladder; however, the one climbing at the very front was the little girl hostage. Whenever she looked down in hesitation, the robber below her would immediately point the barrel of his rifle at her waist. Therefore, she had no choice but to keep climbing.
After all the robbers had climbed into the helicopter, there was an explosive sound of gunfire as they strafed the rooftop crazily with their machine guns, forcing Solitary Butterfly and the two policemen to dash for cover. The robbers began to laugh loudly; even the noise from the helicopter was not enough to cover their arrogant laughter. Suddenly, a scream pierced through it all.
They had pushed the little girl out of the helicopter.
She dropped straight down. Everyone held their breath, eyes wide as they watched this tragedy with utter despair.
Then, Solitary Butterfly began to run. She was fast like a black shadow, rushing straight toward the falling girl. Strangely, even though both the falling speed and the running speed were technically very fast, the moment felt as if it was occurring in slow motion. Everyone watched with unwavering gazes.
The vertical fall of the girl, and Solitary Butterfly’s horizontal dash. These two lines extended separately, but everybody waited and hoped to see them intersect.
Solitary Butterfly halted her steps suddenly, then reached upward as if to embrace the sky. The girl returned the embrace as she crashed down upon her. The impact knocked Solitary Butterfly to the ground with the girl lying on top. Even though the two had collided, the tension in the air did not fade… The little girl was the first to struggle and get up, and she looked to be fine.
She had succeeded!
Everyone let out a sigh of relief at the scene; the sound was even echoed by the news broadcast. Then rose the reporter’s frenzied voice. “She caught her. Solitary Butterfly has caught the hostage!”
The bodyguards began to cheer. Even Bramble collapsed into a sitting position on the ground with sweat running down his face.
The image switched to a close up. After the girl had straightened up, she frantically turned to look at Solitary Butterfly. The latter rose to a half sitting position with difficulty, but she flashed a smile and reached out to pet the girl’s head, showing that both were safe and sound.
The robber’s shout suddenly came from the broadcast, but at this time, the image was still a close up of Solitary Butterfly and the girl, so the robber’s actions were hidden.
I could only see Solitary Butterfly raise her head, immediately leap up, grab the girl, and begin to run. In the blink of an eye, she was gone from the screen.
A huge explosion then shattered everyone’s thoughts and made their hearts skip a beat. The only thing we were capable of doing was staring dumbly at the screen. The projected 3-D image began to shake violently. We could see nothing, and could only hear the sounds of explosions, objects collapsing, and people screaming.
Finally, the image stopped shaking. The camera zoomed out to show the entire building. A huge chunk of the rooftop was missing, and it was still in the process of collapsing.
The two policemen were further away from the sunken hole and had barely managed to hold on to the building’s edge. However, Solitary Butterfly and the girl had completely disappeared.
We had been shown hope, only to have it torn away again… Such a transition was enough to make myself, a vampire who had experienced a hundred and fifty years of life, feel my heart plummet helplessly. Never mind the humans who had watched this scene unfold, particularly Bramble, who was related to the girl.
I did not look at Bramble. The presumed deaths of the girl and Solitary Butterfly were already too tragic. I simply could not bring myself to look at Bramble’s expression. All I could do was focus my eyes on the screen.
A blur of black suddenly emerged from the collapsed hole in the building and flew straight up into the sky.
“What was that?” I blurted out in shock.
However, the news feed vanished suddenly, leaving behind no trace.
“Where’s the video?”
“What the heck! Hurry and open the projection!”
Everyone started to shout, and even though the darkness prevented their expressions from being seen, they were clearly agitated and panicked.
A refined-looking bodyguard said moodily, “Wait a moment. It’s only the channel changing!”
When the 3-D projection once again displayed an image, the focus was no longer on the rooftop but on the ground. Cries of “quick, look at the sky” and “what’s that” came from the video. The camera then quickly pointed to the sky. There, a black shadow was falling at top speed. It grew larger and larger, clearer and clearer.
After a small while, it could be seen that the shadow had a huge pair of wings. Then the shape of a person could be somewhat distinguished between them…
The pair of wings touched ground, revealing their owner to be a man. He gently released the two people he was carrying, Solitary Butterfly and the girl. They fell to a sitting position on the ground and then raised their heads together to stare speechlessly at the man who had wings.
Inside the projection and outside the projection, all was silent.
As she looked at the man, Solitary Butterfly’s eyes suddenly widened, and she blurted out the question in everyone’s minds.
“You’re Dark Sun?”
The man did not answer. Instead, he looked at the sky and flew upward once again in the blink of an eye. Not long after, he landed once more with the two policemen. The sound from his landing was much louder this time. Clearly the weight of two grown men was a burden even for him. The sound was so loud one could not help but worry for his feet.
However, he only bent his knees slightly when he landed, then stood up straight immediately after. Clearly, he was not injured in any way.
Only then did I seriously take in his appearance.
He wore a silver visor; the lens was not transparent, so they concealed half of his face, and only the bottom half could be seen. But from what was visible, one could tell that he was likely young. He had silver hair that was surprisingly similar to the young master’s. However, the length was much shorter.
As for his clothing, the top was a skin-tight red shirt, while the bottoms were what looked to be a standard pair of jeans. On his feet were long boots, while gun holsters hung from his hips. Everything matched the description of Dark Sun from the rumors. It was safe to assume that he was indeed Dark Sun.
There were no traces of any modifications on Dark Sun’s body… except for that pair of wings.
Those wings were definitely not something he could be born with. For, instead of soft feathers, they were formed from feather-shaped metal blades. Under the bright illumination, the light that reflected off those blades was sharp and piercing.
Truthfully, if not for that pair of wings formed of metal feathers, Dark Sun appeared just like a normal person you might see walking down the street. This was vastly different from the flashy appearances of the other heroes.
However, I think that no matter how he dressed, there was no outfit that could take the spotlight away from those wings.
Inside the screen, Solitary Butterfly had already stood up. She walked a few steps forward, lips parted as if to ask a question. But that person seemed to have no interest in replying. He lightly flapped his wings and began to take off.
Seeing that he was about to leave, the media went crazy as everyone tried to push their way to the front. Even the projection shook nonstop.
The girl who had been brave throughout the whole encounter with the robbers suddenly started crying as the media pressed closer. With her tears flowing non-stop, she kept asking to find Daddy.
Dark Sun seemed to have heard the girl’s cries. He stopped his attempt to take flight and planted himself back down on the ground. Turning to face the girl, his huge wings blocked the cameras. At that, the media began to press forward with even more enthusiasm, hoping to capture his wings at a closer distance. However, he lightly flapped them. The sharp glint from the metal feathers clearly was not just for show. The feathers effortlessly cut off a bunch of camera lens as they moved, finally stopping the media’s advancement.
Dark Sun bent over slightly and then one word came out.
The girl whimpered her reply, and a few words could barely be made out. “…’s rooftop.”
Dark Sun nodded, picked up the girl, and spread his wings. As he was about to take flight…
“Wait a moment!”
Solitary Butterfly shouted to stop Dark Sun and helplessly gestured toward the surrounding media. Then she spread her hands wide, pleading helplessly and innocently, “Look, could you take me along as well?”
“No, too heavy, can’t take flight.”
Dark Sun only left behind this sentence which made Solitary Butterfly’s expression stiffen. He then took flight instantly. The girl in his arms screamed in fear, but quickly, it changed into bubbly laughter. She even leaned over Dark Sun’s shoulder and waved goodbye to the cameras beneath her with a smile.
Below, many hands were raised in response, enthusiastically waving back at the girl. Even though their laughter was not as pretty as hers, the sound was heartfelt.
Surely, one day, a hero will raise his hand, and as the crowd watches, he will take flight into the skies.
This scene was unbelievably touching; even the reporter’s voice was especially warm. As for me and the bodyguards around me though, we felt our hearts chill… There was no question about it anymore. Just now, the energy cannon fired by the bodyguards had shot down the pair who came to find Bramble: Dark Sun and Bri.
1 “Bramble”: Bramble’s name in Chinese is 天茶, pronounced tiān chá. Tiancha is a type of tea made from the leaves of Chinese blackberry. Blackberry is of the Rubus genus. Prickly plants or shrubs from this genus can also be called bramble. His name goes along with his daughter’s name, Briar.
2 “Ri/Sun Emperor/Sun Alliance”: Ri (日, rì), the family name of the Sun Emperor, has the literal meaning of “sun” in Chinese. Hence his title, Sun Emperor. (Readers of OSS’ Eclipse Hunter translation may recognize him as the “Solaris Emperor.” Here we chose to use the direct pinyin for his family name, as his name is oriental, and “Sun” over “Solaris” in his title Sun Emperor (日皇, rì huáng) for a better connection with Dark Sun, who also has 日 in his name. (玄日, xuán rì). He presides over the Sun Alliance (太陽聯盟 , tàiyáng liánméng), tàiyáng being another word that means “sun,” (it is used for the Sun Knight in The Legend of Sun Knight), and liánméng quite straightforwardly means “alliance.” The Sun Alliance is a strong power holder formed of several businesses that have banded together under the Sun Emperor’s control. (OSS translates this as the Solaris group).
3 “Raines”: A character that appears late in Eclipse Hunter. His name in Chinese (雷因斯) is phonetic and reads as léi yīnsī, AKA Raines. The character 雷 in his name means thunder, so we thought a weather related name would be suitable. (OSS translates his name as “Lance.”)
4 “Bri”: Bri is a nickname for Briar, Bramble’s daughter. Briar’s name in Chinese is 荆棘 (jīng jí), meaning “thistles and thorns.”
5 “Dell”: Dell is one of the bodyguards led by Bramble. His name in Chinese is 小谷, and like Bramble, it is assumed to be an alias. The 谷 in 小谷 (xiǎo gǔ) means valley. A dell is a small valley (and he just so happens to have a 小 (xiǎo, “small”) in his name, haha, but like other names with xiǎo, it is used to indicate closeness between the speaker and the person).