No Hero Volume 7: The End, the Beginning, Part One
Original novel in Chinese by: 御我(Yu Wo)
The Seventh Step Toward the End: Lion, A Different Kind—translated by Raylight (proofread by Trespasserby; C/E edited by Taffygirl13 & lucathia)
The whole exploration team started dancing in excitement, myself included. Only Ezart was extraordinarily calm, keeping his cool as he surveyed the area for danger as per usual.
I asked him in disbelief, “Don’t you think that everything in front of your eyes is absolutely incredible? We went into an ancient tomb, yet we are seeing technology that far surpasses the current age!”
“Hah? Of course it’s unbelievable! But I’ve seen plenty more unbelievable things. If you want to continue being awed by it, then first you got to stay alive!”
In that moment, I felt great respect for the man. As expected, I had also fallen into the trap of stereotyping someone, and had subconsciously regarded him as a coarse person with great fighting skills. I had truly been too foolish. Really, no one at Ri Xiang Ye’s side could be a simple person.
“What exactly do you want? There’s too many things here, and the journey back is very treacherous. If you don’t have a death wish, then you shouldn’t carry anything too heavy, so we can’t bring much with us.” As he spoke, he gave a vicious glare at the rest of the team, stopping them from clearing out the whole place.
I looked at the whole laboratory—my sole wish was to spend a year or so here. “How much time do I have to look around?”
Ezart frowned as he answered, “I’ll give you three hours, and then we’re scramming!”
“The suicide rate in Daystar City ranks the highest across the world.”
I was stunned for a while by Curtis’s reply before I asked, “Why is that so?”
“Are you asking for a detailed essay explaining it, or would a personal opinion be sufficient?”
“A personal opinion, of course. I am merely a little curious as to why the young master dislikes Daystar City,” I said with a wry smile. It was a matter of simple curiosity, so I simply wanted to know Curtis’s thoughts on it.
“Very well. The pace of living in Daystar City is extremely hectic, which puts a great amount of pressure on everyday life. The price of goods is the highest in the world, and the same goes for the dense concentration of banking and corporate businesses. Many strike it rich, but many also suffer great losses, to the point where even if they wanted to commit suicide, the only options available to them are jumping off a building or getting hit by a car, for they hold absolutely nothing to their name… Truthfully, I am rather surprised that your young master would know of such matters.”
“Your young master is a true young master. With the Sun Emperor protecting and providing for him, he naturally should not know of such matters.”
“There are many stories about the young master that I do not know yet.” This always made me feel uneasy. The more I knew, the better I could serve the young master, yet a good butler should never ask about the master’s private matters either.
Curtis nodded and said, “Your young master has indeed hit the nail on the head. This is a city that kills without using weapons.”
“This? Are you currently in Daystar City?”
“Indeed. The headquarters of the family business is located here, so I stay here most of the time. The family residential area is too remote.”
So that was the case. Indeed, what he said was right. Though many things could be completed online, there were still some matters that could only be discussed face-to-face. Living in a large city would be much more convenient, especially Daystar City, which hosted the greatest number of well-known names in the business and political world. Therefore, it was not strange at all that Curtis would be here.
Curtis sighed, “I had never understood why the Sun Emperor would go to so much trouble to shift his headquarters away from Daystar City, seeing that Daystar City is the most ideal location for establishing a headquarters. That particular move by the Sun Emperor has been analyzed in numerous books: what were his reasons for doing so and what hidden meaning did it have… But it turns out that it was all because your young master dislikes Daystar City?”
I could not help but give a dry smile at that. In the end, that was completely unnecessary on the master’s part, for even if he moved out of Daystar City, the young master had no desire to stay at home.
“Your young master is very wise.” Curtis said with a chuckle, “If he does not leave Daystar City, if he does not stay away from the Sun Emperor’s side, yet continues to be a hero, the final boss he would eventually have to defeat would likely end up being his own brother. I believe that the rise of suicide rates in Daystar City is mostly linked to the Sun Emperor, whether directly or indirectly. Though it is true that he has been more ‘good-natured’ recently, the number of company mergers and acquisitions currently belonging to the Sun Alliance is still far beyond others.”
I knew how serious these joke-like words actually were, but I could not resist asking him back in good humor, “Are you also one of the big bads?”
He admitted straightforwardly, “Indeed! I truly am. Thankfully you are not a hero, or else I might feel slightly troubled.”
I did not think that he would just openly admit it like this. After a moment of speechlessness, I could not help but ask, “Was Sadina also one?”
Curtis fell silent for a moment, before he answered, “My grandmother would often go on massacres for your sake. She would rather take a hundred innocent lives than letting a single wrong person go. I believe she is far from a ‘good person.’ Please forgive me for having to use this example. I do not wish for you to harbor any resentment toward my grandmother.”
“How could I possibly blame her? I merely wished to know about Sadina’s matters.”
“Then if you have any questions, you are welcome to call me anytime to talk about my grandmother.”
Curtis sounded very happy over the phone. As expected, he truly loved Sadina. I ended the call in a good mood, extremely joyous to have once again confirmed this—
I picked up my cell phone and checked it. Curtis? Did we not just hang up? I answered it, a little bewildered.
“Family Head, where are you?” Curtis inquired in a calm tone.
“Um… Daystar City.”
“… The police station.”
“The detention room, isn’t that correct?”
“Indeed.” I could not deny the fact.
“You were talking to me on the phone from the detention room of the police station, yet made absolutely no mention that you are currently being detained?” Curtis suddenly flew into a rage. “Your ability to pretend that nothing is wrong is even better than what my grandmother had told me. Or does this ability of yours also grow stronger as you age?”
I quickly explained, “It is but a small matter. I just happened to converse a little with someone who committed suicide, and thus was listed as a related person (and suspect). That is all. It is not my first time being detained, in any case. For something like this, all I need to do is, at most, pay the bail to leave. There is no need to trouble you.”
“Not your first time being detained?” The sounds of deep breaths came from the phone. Curtis said in a calm tone, “It seems that it was a complete mistake for me to agree to lower the number of people in Sunset City to ten and make them not have to report to me for everything!”
His voice is calm, but it appears as though he is even angrier now? I could only brace myself and say, “Last time, I had merely broken a wall television, and was released after a fifty-thousand yuan bail. It was a very trivial matter.”
“You would even claim nearly being killed as a trivial matter! What my grandmother said was absolutely correct. Please wait a moment. I will come to pick you up immediately.”
“There is no need to go to such trouble—”
To be able to speak in such a courteous tone yet hang up on me truly showed how Curtis could manage to strike a very good balance between his two contradicting roles as an esteemed family head and as a butler serving someone.
“Killed a woman…”
I raised my head and looked toward the door, where a few policemen were whispering among themselves.
On the way here, the police had been cold and distant. Although they had not behaved impolitely, their expressions and gazes had entirely given away their true thoughts—that I was a monster.
That was not strange. What was more peculiar was that it had been a long time since I had felt that I was a monster. Even during the last instance when I had been handcuffed, brought to the police station, and also locked in the cell right in the center of the room, I had only felt unbearably awkward.
There were clearly many eyewitnesses, so it should have been easy to discover that I had no relation to the woman’s death. However, the police treated me as a criminal from start to end. Sunset City would never be this biased. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that this is truly expected of a city that claimed to have no non-humans?
I was starting to lose my desire to take residence in this place.
My cell phone rang once more. It could not possibly be Curtis again, right? However, the phone screen actually did not show the incoming number… I hesitated for a moment, but still picked up the call.
“You really hold no caution to the point where you can be called an idiot.”
I was scolded the moment the call started. Moreover, this voice sounded too familiar to my ears.
“Your ability to recognize voices, on the other hand, is truly praiseworthy. If only your cautiousness was just as worthy of praise. Sigh! The moment I got out, I learned that you two had completely stepped into the Church’s trap. I really don’t know whether to cry or laugh. But then again, because it’s you and your young master, it doesn’t really seem that strange.”
“Are you not allies with the Church? Why are you telling us these things?”
“Allies? I have gotten the help and information that I have wanted, and they have also gotten the person they wanted. Following that, we have no relation to each other. This was simply a transaction between us.”
Recalling the confrontation that the young master had with Secretary Bai before, I asked without blinking an eye, “Then, what is this interaction between us? What is it that you are aiming to receive in return for telling me this news?”
“You sure found the main point quickly. I may have just scolded you, but sometimes I really think that you have great intelligence and just often appear to be foolish! Charles, if that was not the case, how could you still be living so well despite being the Church’s target for so many years?”
First, it was my honorable father. Then, it was Sadina, and currently it is Curtis. That is the reason. They are simply too generous to me.
“I know that there are people protecting you, but you are already a hundred and fifty years old. It has been at least two or three generations down the line, but they are still protecting you, from start to end. That is quite a rare and valuable.”
I took a deep breath before I could continue to ask, “I assume you did not risk the danger of being traced to call me just for investigating why I am still alive?”
“No, it is to warn you that you two have already fallen into the Church’s trap.”
“For what purpose?” I was somewhat puzzled and asked, “Even if you are not working with the Church anymore, there is no need to do so.”
“Hm… To obtain forgiveness from you?”
“I will not forgive you.”
The appearance of the young master as he was tied onto the cross, holding in all his pain from the newly-completed operation in order to go save the master…
I will never forget it!
Lieder suddenly broke into loud laughter, and said as he laughed, “Then you have to at least grit your teeth a little as you talk to me! Charles, you really aren’t experienced with hating others, are you? How about this then? Let’s make a deal. If your young master manages to get an opportunity to kill me, you have to shout out for him to stop once. The condition is simple enough, right?”
I could not think of anything that was bad about the condition; even if I were to shout out to the young master, he could still raise his hand once more. However, since the person in question was Lieder, I did not dare to promise anything.
“Who was the criminal that the Church wanted?” It would be ideal if I could get that answer from him.
“I don’t know who it was that the Church wanted. All I was responsible for was setting free all the people in P29. However, there are many extraordinarily talented people in the Church. They don’t require any more brute power, so this criminal must be indispensable in a different way. I recommend that you guys don’t search among the big and powerful type of criminals.”
“This information is honestly too vague.” There was an extremely extensive range of criminal types in P29, including some ability users who could only bend spoons. Not “big and powerful” was not much help in reducing the search scope.
“Consider the fact that you aren’t paying much for it. How much were you thinking to get back in return?” Lieder laughed and continued, “All right, this conversation has dragged on for too long. If this continues, my location will really get traced. I have one last thing to say to you! ‘You are really not someone suited for sounding others out.’”
When he was done, Lieder hung up the call without even requesting for me to comply with the condition he had proposed. Perhaps, he assumed I had already agreed to it?
“Family Head, my apologies, I have arrived rather late.”
Curtis walked up to the outside of the detention room. He was dressed in a formal silver-gray suit, with his jacket, vest, and shirt being of the same color, matched with a black tie. His hair was also styled neatly. Compared to his reserved appearance as a butler, or how he wore just the dress shirt with his hair loose when among family, he gave off a different feeling.
His position was truly that of a family head.
Not to mention that he even had two rows of bodyguards behind him dressed in black suits and sunglasses.
The police opened the doors of the detention room in terror, which I found somewhat odd. That was because ever since the NC squad specializing in handling non-human related issues had been established in Sunset City, I had rarely seen a terrified expression appear on a policeman’s face.
As we walked out of the detention room, Curtis looked at me with a frown. “Family Head, why are you so thinly clothed?”
As he spoke, he removed his suit jacket.
I was wearing a short-sleeved shirt since my original plan had just been to go to the restaurant and purchase a late-night snack. Moreover, due to the scorching hot weather, I did not feel cold in the slightest despite it currently being the middle of the night. I quickly refused, “There is no need. It is not that cold.”
Curtis still circled behind me and draped the coat over my body. “Then, just keep it draped over you like so.”
I forced a smile. “You did not need to come over personally to fetch me.”
“How could I have an outsider deal with Family Head’s matters!” Curtis’s tone left no room for rebuttal. “You did not mention a single word about your arrival at Daystar City. Despite being in the same city, I actually failed to come and meet you at the earliest available time. This is truly an act of negligence!”
Is this “act of negligence” referring to himself, or me? I could only answer, “I did not know that you were here.”
On the way out of the detention room, there were many policemen bowing to us while apologizing profusely. I felt deeply unaccustomed to it, for it was as though I was seeing Yue Gang’s brothers apologizing to me, which gave me a rather unpleasant feeling.
Fortunately, I did not see a formation of several limousines or such when we left the police station— there was only one black limousine and three black sedans.
The butler at the side was on the verge of opening the car door, but was stopped by Curtis, who then personally opened it and invited me to go in with a bow. This shocked the butlers and bodyguards so much that their eyes grew as wide as saucers. Those expressions were truly not professional enough… Or perhaps I was being too strict on them. If the Sun Emperor were to bow and personally help someone open the door, I might also widen my eyes as such.
“Family Head, should I escort you back to the hotel that Young Master Ri is staying at?”
“Please do.” I hope the young master is not back yet, so that I will not alarm him.
After Curtis passed on the address, he turned to me with a slight furrow in his brows. That expression was extremely familiar to me—Sadina would also have such an expression before she started asking me questions in rapid-fire succession. I quickly inquired, “Is this your butler? You do not only have one butler, correct?”
I studied the person in the front seat. He looked very much like an “Elysees,” with his neat attire and reserved expression. He gave off a very good first impression.
“Indeed. Dong Fang is my personal butler who attends to my individual affairs. His full name is Dong Fang Lei. There are five head butlers handling business affairs, and under them are another five butlers each. However, these people function more like secretaries. There are three head butlers for managing the family castle, and under them are ten butlers each. In addition, there are many board members in the family business. Although they are not considered butlers, they have all received the Butler Certification from our family.”
My intent had merely been to change the subject, but it sounded almost like he was reporting to me on the family situation. I bitterly smiled and said, “The family affairs have grown more complicated since my time.”
Curtis nodded as he answered, “Indeed. We have developed some corporations in related businesses. I will send a detailed report to you soon after.”
Hearing that, I knit my brows together and deliberately said, “Has the family grown even more powerful? Perhaps it would be good for me to take back my position?”
Curtis’s expression was the same as usual. It was instead the butler in the front seat, Dong Fang, who shot an extremely sharp glance at me through the rear-view mirror. He seemed to have realized that I had seen him, and quickly retracted his gaze, keeping his head down as he remained silent.
Curtis said in an easy tone, “You do not need to ‘take back’ the position. The Elysees family and all of the businesses under us are your assets.”
My assets? I abruptly felt that that choice of wording was a little strange. Just as I was about to ask, Curtis had already guessed what I was thinking and took the initiative to explain.
“Indeed, in my grandmother’s will, it is written very clearly. All of the Elysees family assets belong to you. I am but a trust administrator. On top of that, I can only take three percent of any profits obtained through investments using your assets, and the rest still goes into your assets.”
In response to seeing my stunned expression, Curtis was actually still able to smile as he asked, “Did you think that my grandmother would not have taken any preventative measures?”
I quickly said, “Curtis, you can—”
Curtis waved a hand. “Because it is a trust, you do not have the authority to give the Elysees family to anyone, myself included. Incidentally, I should also mention that if any misfortune were to fall on you, I would lose my position as trust administrator, which means that I will lose the Elysees family.”
“Heavens!” The word slipped from my mouth. “How could Sadina treat you this way? You are her grandson!”
“Yes, this is the reason I had held resentment toward you in the past.” Following that, he added, “I am referring to the time before the Endelis clan incident.”
“You should be holding resentment toward me now as well!”
However, Curtis merely shook his head and smiled as he said, “My grandmother had explained to me before that the reason for her acting as such is because I am even more like an Elysees than her.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means that just like you, I am also very passionate about serving others. Thus, she arranged for me a person to serve, and a reason I must serve you.” Curtis looked at me and said, “Of course, I could not match up to you in terms of being like an Elysees. For the sake of being a true butler, you even gave up the position of the family head.”
“I had my reasons!” I could not restrain myself from explaining, “That was because of the Church’s oppression—”
“Yes, I understand. As though the Elysees would ‘actually’ be afraid of the Church’s oppression. This reason is just as good as mine about being forced to serve you due to my grandmother.” Curtis opened the mini refrigerator and took out a bag of blood. He asked with a smile, “Would you like a late-night snack, Family Head?”
My efforts not to alarm the young master fell flat at the final moment. Just as we were standing outside the door, the young master gave a call.
“Charles, where did you go? Didn’t I tell you to be good and stay at the hotel… Curtis?”
The young master stared in shock at me, and Curtis who followed in after.
“My apologies, Young Master. I had gone to buy a midnight snack for you.”
“A midnight snack?” The young master sported a deep scowl on his face. Ever since our arrival at Daystar City, his mood had seemed slightly sour. “Didn’t I tell you to obediently go to sleep? And Nitewalker told me that you went out to get it at eleven o’clock. It’s almost three in the morning now. Where exactly did you go to buy it?”
Curtis explained on my behalf, “It is as such, the family head was detained by the police because he was involved in a suicide case.”
The young master froze. “Another suicide?”
“Another?” Curtis questioned in a suspicious tone.
“Just earlier today, a person fell right in front of Charles when they jumped off a building!”
Curtis frowned as he said, “Could there be foul play involved? Dong Fang, go investigate it.”
“Understood,” the butler responded with a bow.
I quickly said, “It is just a mere coincidence! There is no need to go to such trouble—”
“Then don’t run around, Charles.” The young master turned to me with furrowed brows, and said, “This is Daystar City after all. Even if the Church agreed to let you come here, it is possible that they are scheming something!”
Curtis said, “I agree. However, Young Master Ri does not need to be too worried about this. It is unlikely for the Church to make a move against the family head over here, for this is the area where the Church has the most influence and power. If something were to happen to the family head here, it would undoubtedly be taken as a declaration of war on the Elysees family.”
Hearing that, the young master’s expression relaxed a little. “Is that so? So staying here is actually safer instead?”
“That is correct.” Curtis nodded and then added on, “I have more eyes here than in Sunset City as well. I will take extra caution.”
The young master fell back onto the sofa, sighing, “Then, I’m a lot more relieved.”
Could it be that the reason the young master has not been in a great mood for the past few days was not because he had returned to Daystar City, but because he was worried for my safety? I could not help but voice my suspicion.
The young master nodded and said, “Yeah. Actually, it doesn’t seem like it was a good idea to bring you to Daystar City, but I feel like it would be even less safe to leave you in Sunset City. I originally wanted Poseidynne to protect you, but she glared at me, saying something like how you had the potential to be really strong, but the reason you’re currently so weak is due to overprotection. She told to stop treating you like a china doll.”
“I am not that weak, Young Master.” I was starting to wonder if I truly was so weak that I could not defeat a woman, just as Yue Gang had said…. Uh, if the woman is Melody, Poseidynne, or the like, then it is really quite hard to say.
“With Curtis around, I feel a lot more relieved.” The young master heaved a large sigh of relief as he continued, “Then, the only troublesome things left are just hunting down the criminal and Shūshu’s matter.”
Seeing how troubled the young master was and recalling how he would always feel guilty when I stepped into battles, I immediately declared solemnly, “Young Master, in times of need, I can also fight. Please do not stop me from lending a hand!”
“You want to fight? But…” The young master’s tone was somewhat strange as he said, “If you were injected with painkillers, then you might possibly be stronger than Nitewalker.”
So Nitewalker is actually that strong?
“But if not, you probably can’t even defeat Melody!”
… I am truly unable to refute that.
“Painkillers?” Curtis frowned as he asked, “Why would such a thing have a strengthening effect?”
“It is not for increasing strength.” The young master shook his head as he answered, “Charles’s strength is absolute, and he wouldn’t get stronger just because he was injected with painkillers. The painkillers only help him remove his apprehensions about fighting.”
“Apprehensions?” Curtis seemed to not understand as he asked, “Family Head, what do you have apprehensions about?”
Apprehensions… I was a non-human living among humans. My honorable father would always tell me that I did not need to personally make any move, and that I should simply let the subordinates handle it. At all costs, I was not to let myself become too similar to… a lion among rabbits.
“It’s okay!” The young master shrugged as he said, “Anyways, Charles you are a butler and doctor. There’s no need to fight! If it’s dangerous, I’ll protect you! Now we also have Nitewalker. He’s also very strong, and he really likes to fight.”
“Family Head!” Curtis held my shoulder, and asked with an extremely respectful tone and expression, “When did you get another job as a doctor? As I recall, you are ‘only a butler!’”
“Uh, that is because a dutiful butler must understand their master’s hobbies. When it is necessary, further studying should be applied in order to interact well with the master.”
“… I did not know that Young Master Ri’s hobby was performing operations.”
It is getting injured. Sigh! I looked toward the young master in worry. To my surprise, the young master’s expression mirrored my own as he looked at me.