No Hero Volume 1: Vampire Butler
Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo)
Prologue – translated by Eilinel
I walked beneath the moonlight.
Though it was the middle of the night, the streets were still not at peace. Neon lights blinded me with their brightly flashing colors. The crowd around me did not seem less than the daytime crowd, but they were certainly more aggressive. These people would never understand why nighttime was meant for sleep and rest.
The darkness of the night transforms people’s fear into aggravation.
The people around me mostly had incomplete bodies. Some of them had replaced their arms with cybernetic ones, some had cybernetic legs, some had transparent covers on their heads with wiring inside of them instead of brains, and some had even completely replaced their upper torsos with mechanical parts.
However, there was no sign on their faces that they thought these were disfigurements. Instead, they were proud of them and boasted of their cybernetic enhancements to one another. They bragged about them through fighting.
Along the way, I passed by at least five brawls, but I gently circled around all of them. They actually did not pay me any attention, and I did not want to cause any unnecessary trouble either.
Moreover, there was nothing rare about the fights. In this era where cybernetics was the fad, humans had equipped themselves with various combat enhancements and naturally would not want them to rust from disuse. Most people seemed to agree that fighting was the best opportunity to use them.
I continued to walk alone.
A young man walked toward me. I paid special attention to him because he was very serene. He especially stood out in the aggressive atmosphere that surrounded us.
Also, he suited the moonlight very well.
I could not help but admire his appearance. There was not a single sign of cybernetic modification on him. His silver hair fell to his shoulders and regardless of the source of light that shone on his hair, all of it melted into a silver sheen similar to the moonlight. He had a pair of dark black eyes and possessed delicate facial features. He looked around twenty years old, and his smile was still somewhat boyish.
The young man wore simple clothing, jeans and a white shirt. He did not seem to be from a rich family, which may be the reason for the absence of cybernetic enhancements. Regardless of the enhancements themselves or the surgery, all of that required money. Obviously, the better the modifications and the doctors were, the more expensive it would be.
When I walked past him, I looked at him once again. He also seemed to notice that I was looking at him, making me slightly worried. As it was, many night time fights on the streets resulted from a single glance.
However, he smiled back at me.
I reflexively smiled at him as well.
After we walked past each other, I found that my mood had lightened considerably. Ah! How long has it been? How long it has been since I last interacted with someone in such a friendly manner! Even if it is just a smile from a shared glance.
Just as my mood improved, I heard a commotion coming from behind. Amidst the yells, I heard rude things like “you’re being annoying.”
“I’m very sorry, I didn’t do it intentionally. If I have offended you, I deeply regret it.”
When I heard the reply from the other party, I immediately knew that it must have been spoken by the young man. Among the people around us, only a person with his temperament would speak such polite words.
However, it seemed that his polite words would not be able to solve his problem. The opposing side was still making a ruckus, creating all sorts of excuses. In other words, they were using the favorite excuse of modern youngsters for causing trouble – “You rub me the wrong way.”
The young man did not actually respond this time. He probably knew as well that this group of people could not be reasoned with.
When I heard the group say that they were going to teach him a lesson, my steps finally came to a stop. I sighed. Why is it that humans always refuse to treat their own with kindness?
As I turned back, I saw that the young man was being pushed into a dark alley by a group of violent youngsters. I quickly walked forward. Since I decided to help him out, I should not let him suffer any more harm.
I walked into the alley. The young man was by the wall, surrounded by violent thugs, but he had a calm look on his face. Only his eyes were slightly widened with a strange expression… It seemed to be “hesitation?”
Perhaps I was misreading his expression. In this kind of situation, it was unlikely that one would be feeling hesitation.
“Please stop,” I said in a quiet voice.
The group of violent youngsters noticed me, but their faces did not show any signs of anger from the interruption. Instead, they looked excited at the prospect of acquiring another punching bag.
One after another, they surrounded me and seemed to be more interested in me than the young man. Maybe it was because I seemed more mature and physically stronger than the young man, and with my long coat suit, I was better dressed than the young man as well. For these violent youngsters, perhaps it would be more satisfying beating me up than beating up the young man?
They numbered around ten people or so and walked toward me head on. If not for their weird style of clothing and the even stranger way they wore it, I might have thought them to be somewhat imposing.
“Stop!” The young man shouted. His face seemed to be more worried now than when he himself was going to be beaten up, and I felt pleased at this. Good thing I am not saving the wrong person.
“Please do not worry, I will be fine,” I politely said as I stopped the young man from stepping up to “save me.”
The young man hesitated, wearing an expression similar to the one he had worn when he was about to be beaten up a moment ago.
I opened my mouth slightly and spread my arms as if I were going to embrace and kiss a lover…
Following that, I started to grow sharp white fangs as I opened my mouth further, the veins in the backs of my hands popped out, and my fingernails started to become sharper and longer, but the ten or so people in front of me were still staring at me in stupefaction… Modern youngsters really have slow reactions!
I was forced to snatch a weapon from the person nearest to me with my telekinetic powers. The weapon was a long rod, and I twisted it into a knot before throwing it back at the feet of its owner. Then, I opened my mouth again, emphasizing my fangs and roaring at them…
Finally, someone among them screamed in a piercing voice.
I relaxed a bit. Luckily, the youngsters nowadays still know about vampires. To be honest, I was worried that they would think that I was a modified human who had equipped cybernetic enhancements on his teeth and nails.
Yes, I am a vampire, so please scream and leave quickly.
Then the people in front of me ran out of the alley screaming loudly. This let me relax even more, as I had also been worried that modern youngsters would no longer be afraid of vampires.
Although they were yelling that there was a vampire here as they ran out of the alley, I was not too worried. After all, is there a shortage of people yelling on the streets? No one would believe them anyway. The words spoken by youngsters who like doing drugs were often even stranger than seeing a vampire in an alley.
I retracted my fangs and sharp nails and tried to look at the young man in the gentlest way possible. The latter was also looking at me, maintaining his expression of slightly widened eyes. I tried to speak gently, saying, “I will not hurt you.”
Still, this sentence was probably unconvincing, as who would believe that a vampire would not hurt a human?
I waited for him to run away in panic, but I was quietly confident in my heart that such a polite young man would not scream at his savior. Just that would be enough for me.
The young man tilted his head as he looked at me and asked, “Vampire? Do you drink human blood?”
“Yes, I drink human blood,” I nodded as I answered.
“That is bad news indeed.” The young man said, slightly troubled.
That is indeed troubling, especially since I am currently looking at him.
The young man said in a forlorn voice, “Then I can’t treat you to a meal as a sign of my appreciation.”
That is right, as I do not need to eat food… Hmm? I was stumped. The reaction of this young man was completely out of my expectations.
The young man asked in a hopeful voice, “Maybe there is something that you need?”
“Naturally, there is.” I nodded again as I answered. Even a vampire would have needs other than blood.
“Then, please tell me your needs. I may be able to help you out.” The young man was very sincere.
I looked at him and silently applauded his sincerity and courage… Yes, it is definitely courageous to be sincere to a vampire.
But, he would not be able to help me out. I tried to word my reply tactfully as I said, “I am afraid that this matter would be too difficult.”
The young man smiled as he said, “It won’t hurt for you to talk about it.”
That is true. I answered honestly, “I am seeking employment.”
“Employment?” This time, the young man was finally surprised.
I stood up straighter and said in a proud and elegant way, “I am a butler.”
The young man was surprised again, and he stared at my face as though he was trying to find a trace of a joke in my face, but I stared back at him with a fully serious expression. Finally, he laughed softly… Again, this was out of my expectations. He really was a unique young man.
The young man smiled as he asked, “So, vampire butler, what is your name?”
He actually acknowledged that I am a butler! This touched me a lot, as every time I spoke of my profession, it did not matter if they were human or vampire, no one would believe me. A vampire would only roar in laughter, while a human would only scream in fear.
The young man sparked a rare interest in me that had not occurred in many years – I wanted to befriend him. I told him my full name in hopes that I could do so, “My name is Charles, full name Charles Endelis.1 I am a vampire in the middle of seeking employment as a butler.”
The young man smiled dazzlingly and introduced himself, “Good evening, Mr. Charles. My name is An Xiang Ye.2 You can call me Ah Ye. I’m a student who is currently attending university.”
After that, An Xiang Ye invited me to his house. To be frank, there was nothing I could do even if I went… He was out and about to buy a late night snack, but I do not eat those types of food, as any food apart from blood is tasteless to a vampire, and it would not be filling either.
“Are you in a hurry to look for a job?” An Xiang Ye asked curiously.
“Not really,” I answered honestly. “For a vampire, it is hard to find a job as a butler.”
“Then, how about you come to my house and be my butler?” An Xiang Ye tilted his head as he continued, “Coincidentally, I’m feeling bored as I’m living alone.”
I smiled softly. No matter how thoughtful An Xiang Ye seems to be, he is still a child after all! I said in a teasing way, “My pay is very high.”
“How much do you wish to be paid?” he asked, still curious.
It seems that unless I say it frankly, An Xiang Ye will not give up his ridiculous notions.
I said in a toneless voice, “My annual salary is ten million. Apart from that, depending on the living standards of my master, I would also require another sum of money, which would be spent on taking care of the daily necessities of my master’s life.”
In reality, this price wasn’t the highest salary within the butler profession. Rather, it was just in the mid to high range. I was very confident that I could do an even better job than those top butlers, but I could not ask for the highest salary, which saddened me a bit, truthfully. I felt I could not ask for too much since I am a vampire.
However, although I have lowered the pay I ask for, not many people want to hire me as an actual butler. They are more interested in using me as a fighter in battles, or worse, a killer.
I could not bear it. I am a butler, not a fighter. Nor am I a killer. Therefore, I am always unemployed.
Unexpectedly, An Xiang Ye was not shocked by the pay I had asked for. Furthermore, he tilted his head and guessed, “Charles, you don’t sound like you are happy with the pay.”
I could not help but admit, “Yes, I am slightly unhappy with it.”
He laughed and said, “You didn’t hear my question properly. I’m asking, what is the salary you want?”
I was silent for a moment and then said in a despairing manner, “Twenty million. The contract would be for two years at minimum, and the money to be used on the master would depend on how much the master would want to pay.”
An Xiang Ye said not a word. He just smiled as he watched me. After that, he gave me an address and asked to meet me tomorrow.
The next day, I was still in the midst of unemployment. Since I had nothing else to do, I brought along a packet of blood with a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, thinking that I should have a late night snack with my rare human friend.
An Xiang Ye lived in an apartment building that was neither old nor new. The location of the building was not bad, so I suppose he was not as poor as I had first thought.
I knocked on the door, and true enough, he was the one who opened it. He took the bucket of KFC from my hand happily, and I felt happy that he enjoyed that kind of food.
“Please come in,” he said as he led me into the apartment.
We sat casually on the sofa. The table was already piled with junk food, and An Xiang Ye quickly started to eat the KFC after he placed it on the table.
He is really a courageous young man. Even when he saw me pour the blood from the packet into a wine glass and start drinking, his expression did not flicker at all… If I had not been completely sure An Xiang Ye was not a vampire, I really would have thought that he was a member of my race.
However, his various actions put me quite at ease. We chatted randomly as we ate. An Xiang Ye did not actually ask many questions about my identity as a vampire, but he did ask many questions about my profession as a butler instead. This relieved me. There were too many things about vampires that should not be told to a person whom I had only met twice, no matter how much I liked him.
“How many times have you been employed as a butler?” he asked.
“Five times.” After I answered, I thought for a moment and said in a defeated tone, “Actually, not even once.”
An Xiang Ye did not open his mouth to ask further questions. However, he widened his eyes slightly, looking at me with an expression full of curiosity.
Ever since my father passed away, there was close to no one who would listen to me talk about these matters. My vampire kin would only laugh at my job as a butler, while humans could not accept my identity as a vampire at all.
Moreover, An Xiang Ye’s expression was so curious, even a cold blooded killer would probably want to answer his questions.
I could not help but start narrating, “I was born into a family of butlers. Since youth, I received training on how to be a good butler, and my childhood dream was to be a butler in an ancient castle.”
I continued, “When I completed my education to be a butler, I would go out to look for a job every night. I found five masters before, and each of them had their own castles, and I originally thought I had finally accomplished my dream, but…”
I smiled bitterly as I said, “But under those masters, I spent more time on blackmailing, stealing, and killing than on household chores. Later on, I could not take the fact that I was being used as a killer, so I left my job again and again.”
What I did not speak of was how one of the masters had even wanted to kill me because of it. He thought that I knew too many of his secrets, so he needed to exterminate me, but he never knew that what he considered secrets were trivial matters to me. Furthermore, the estate I had inherited from my parents was probably worth more than all of his properties combined, so I never needed to sell his “secrets” to his enemies.
“Your masters ordered you to kill people?” An Xiang Ye’s eyes were wide when he asked.
I said truthfully, “It is because they were mafia bosses.”
An Xiang Ye thought for a moment, then instead of feeling sorry for me, he started to laugh, almost to the point of tearing up. While he laughed, he said, “Charles, I’m not trying to be mean, but if you look in the middle of the night for someone who owns a castle, who are you expecting to find apart from mafia bosses?”
I actually felt relieved because he did not feel sorry for me. I even said in a grumbling tone, “I do not like sunlight though.”
“You don’t like it?” An Xiang Ye tilted his head and asked curiously, “I thought you could not come out in the sun? Isn’t it like in the movies, that vampires turn into dust once sunlight shines on them?”
I smiled with humor and explained, “A tiny amount of sunlight does not matter. As long I wear my dark clothes, a hat, and sunglasses, I could walk on the street during daylight too. However, I do not like daylight. In fact, there is no a vampire who would like the day, especially summer days. If the temperature is 30 degrees Celsius, to me, it would be the same as walking in a place at 60 degrees Celsius would be for you. Do you understand? It is really very hot and uncomfortable.”
An Xiang Ye was confused for a moment and said hesitantly, “I think I mostly understand.”
He did not ask any further about my background. Instead, he started talking about interesting events that happened at his university. He even ran back to his room to retrieve a love letter from a girl. He showed it to me with a helpless expression.
This time, it was my turn to laugh. I teased him, “Isn’t that good? You do have good looks, so it is normal to be popular among the girls.”
“But, I’m not good at handling this kind of matter.” An Xiang Ye looked like he was really troubled by it, but then he looked at me and teased me, “I bet Charles is popular among female vampires too, right? You don’t seem to be good at handling this kind of matter either.”
My smile froze on my face. That is true indeed.
Both of us continued to chat about interesting topics in this way until we almost forgot about the passage of time. Then, I glanced at the clock by chance and realized that it was already two o’clock in the morning. I asked An Xiang Ye if he had classes the next day and he nodded. Finally, I bid farewell to him.
“Can you come by again tomorrow night?” An Xiang Ye requested as he accompanied me to the door.
I thought about it. I shouldn’t have other affairs tomorrow because a jobless vampire was always particularly free. I nodded my head in confirmation and said, “I can.”
The next day, when I went to his house again, I brought a bucket of KFC with me again.
I handed the KFC bucket to him, and he handed a small book to me.
Curiously, I took the book before realizing it was a savings checkbook… One that had my name on it. When I opened it, the amount in the savings account was forty million plus an unlimited credit card approved by the Sun Bank wedged between the pages.
I raised my head to look at him. He was biting into a piece of KFC as he asked me smilingly, “Charles, are you interested in being my butler?”
So, it turned out that An Xiang Ye was not as poor as I had imagined him to be. People said the truly wealthy people usually kept a lower profile. I guess I had finally seen the truth for myself today.
I looked at the apartment room that was neither large nor new, and then I looked at An Xiang Ye’s shirt and jeans… This is too low-key!
This was the first time I was paid the salary I had asked for. Naturally, I was happy, but I also had my apprehensions at the same time. I tried to say, “Before you hire me, I must ask for your understanding. I am a butler. Therefore, I can take care of all my master’s affairs, but I am definitely not a fighter, nor am I a killer. If there is someone who threatens the safety of my master, I may possibly lend a hand, but…but…”
I am worried that such a high pay is not meant for a ‘butler.’
An Xiang Ye laughed and said in a matter-of-fact tone, “I know the job description for butlers! My home has a butler too.”
“Your home?” I asked as I surveyed the apartment and realized another important problem. To be honest, a small place like this did not require a butler.
When he saw me surveying the surroundings, An Xiang Ye explained, “Oh, this is a place rented by me. It’s close to my university, and the transportation is convenient.”
“But, this place does not really require a butler.” I smiled quietly. I will not stay at a place that does not need me. What I truly wanted was the job satisfaction from being a butler, not the pay. The pay only serves to confirm the capability of my work.
An Xiang Ye did not reply. Instead, he bent down to pick up the TV remote from the table. It was a remote with touch control. After he placed his thumb on the Sun logo on the remote for three seconds, the display totally changed.
An Xiang Ye pressed on the “workshop” option.
The wall behind the TV opened without the slightest noise, revealing an area larger than the whole apartment. The decoration in the room was very futuristic. The walls were all metallic in color, and both sides of the room were lined with glass-fronted displays. The displays were filled with various kinds of weapons, and the middle of the room held a few big tables with various parts piled on it. There were even different kinds of machines that I could not name next to the tables.
I even saw two heavy motorcycles and a target practice range…
I turned toward An Xiang Ye.
He bit his lip and said guiltily, “It’s messy, right?”
No, the real problem does not lie in the messiness.
He was bothered as he spread his hands and said helplessly, “To be honest, I can’t be bothered to tidy up, and every time I need something, I have to call Kyle-gē.3 It is very annoying, so it would be nice if someone could take care of it.”
“Kyle-gē?” I asked.
“He is my brother’s secretary.” He thought for a moment and added, “Secretary-slash-butler.”
It sounds like a hard job.
“I have many matters that would require your help.” He said in a decisive tone, “But, I would never ask you to be a fighter or a killer. Moreover, to tell the truth, Charles, if I wanted a fighter or a killer, I wouldn’t need to hire you specifically, I… my home has many of them.”
I believed him. A person who could line his walls with various alarming weapons would definitely have many fighters and killers at his home.
“Are you from a mafia family?” I asked. I sure have a deep connection with the mafia.
An Xiang Ye looked at me. Then, he started to smile. He really likes to smile. He said while he was smiling, “Charles, you are really interesting.”
But, I felt that the interesting person wasn’t me.
“No, I’m not from the mafia,” An Xiang Ye answered as he gently patted my shoulder, his expression telling me not to worry.
I did not hesitate for too long before I agreed to it.
As I said before, a vampire cannot ask for too much.
And so, I finally found a job.
1 “Charles Endelis”: Charles’s name in the original text is “Zhao Suo,” and he explains that the Zhao is from zhāoxī (which means morning till night) and the Suo is from suǒqiú (which means to seek). His surname sounds very similar to “Endless.” We chose to use Charles for Zhao Suo’s name because it sounds very similar to Zhao Suo and would be an apt name for someone who comes from a European influenced family.
2 “An Xiang Ye”: An Xiang Ye’s name is kept in pinyin. All names that are formed in the oriental order of surname first, then first name, will be kept in pinyin. For example, “An” is his surname while “Xiang Ye” is his name. His brother’s name is formed in the same way. Charles, on the other hand, gives his name first, then his surname. Xiang Ye means “towards the night.” Adding “Ah” before a name, such as saying “Ah Ye,” is a close way to address male friends and acquaintances.