Spoiler warning for readers of Eclipse Hunter. Ah Ye talks a bit about his past in this chapter, which reveals some events that are possibly yet to come in Odd Squad’s translation of EH. If you would like to completely avoid the spoiler, skip Ah Ye’s entire explanation starting from “The young master looked at me, hesitated, and then said helplessly” and continue reading from “Dear father! When can I become a qualified butler that never lets his own emotions affect his master?”
No Hero Volume 2: The Hero Grim Reaper
Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo)
Legend of a Hero Chapter 7: In the City, the Hidden Hero – translated by ErodingPersona
Gēge, don’t worry about me anymore. I’m fine.
Everyone is working hard at consoling me… I really am fine.
Let’s stop talking about that. Gēge, do you know? I found a part-time job. I’m going to be a model! The photographer is Luo Chu-gē, he’s Luo Lun’s elder brother! He…
I feel really worried about First Wind. He must feel so upset!
As expected, Briar had exams the following week. However, she still came over every day, even bringing along her textbooks so that she could study in the young master’s home. Every day after school, she would sit in the young master’s workshop. While the young master did his homework or modified his guns, she would also be doing her homework or studying. Whenever she came across anything she did not understand, she would turn to ask the young master, and the young master would answer all of her questions.
The atmosphere at home was no longer as heavy as before. Everyone, including Mr. Bramble and I, kept on shooting Briar grateful looks. Even when the news criticized heroes, Briar would be able to use numerous methods to divert the young master’s attention, even managing to make him laugh out loud, not allowing him to hear the criticism on TV at all.
Besides the matters at home, the two week deadline that my friend X had given me had also arrived.
Nevertheless, I still could not find a single trace of the werewolf. I could not even manage to contact X. This made me somewhat vexed, but I was also worried. I was angry at the complete lack of communication from X over these two weeks, as he did not even contact me at all, and worried over the fact that unlike me, X had a mile-long list of enemies. Could he have gotten into some kind of trouble?
No matter what, today is the last day of the allotted time. It seems like fulfilling X’s request is impossible…
“Charles? Charles? What are you thinking about?”
I returned to my senses. Before me, the young man selling chicken was waving his hand in front of me. After seeing that I had refocused, he handed over a bag of chopped chicken meat with a smile and asked, “Making curry rice again?”
I hurriedly took the chicken and replied while paying him, “No, I am making chicken soup.”
“Chicken soup? I really should have some of that, especially now.”
The chicken merchant and I were both startled. I turned around, mouth opening. “Mr. Yue Gang? What are you doing here again?”
Yue Gang rolled his eyes at me and said unhappily, “There’s no need to be so direct even if you don’t want me here!”
Ah… I hurriedly apologized. “That was awfully disrespectful of me. I did not mean it like that. Please forgive me…”
“Okay!” Yue Gang said bluntly. “Treat me to afternoon tea, and I’ll forgive you.”
Although I was very confused as to why I had to treat a policeman that I had only met once before to afternoon tea, I was the one who had spoken so rudely. As long as the request he made was not too preposterous, I would not reject it.
So, carrying my groceries, I went with Yue Gang to a fast food restaurant to eat.
Yue Gang helped himself to a “Family Meal” without holding back. I politely explained that I did not want to eat anything, but he determinedly said that he would not give me anything anyway — the whole meal was his.
Once he got his meal, Yue Gang immediately started eating it, as though this was his first meal in days. Seeing this, I felt bewildered. No one is fighting him for it, so why must he eat in such a hurry?
After a long time, Yue Gang finally slowed down and said, “Tch! A little while longer and I would have starved to death.”
I smiled politely. Really, could this man exaggerate any more than this?
Yue Gang eyed me and said, “You don’t believe me? I’ve only eaten a loaf of white bread over the past three days!”
I was speechless and asked, “Why is that so?”
Yue Gang said “For this” and then retrieved something that looked like a product catalog and tossed it to me.
It really was a product catalog. I flipped through it casually. Everything listed in it was military equipment, like infrared binoculars, heat detectors, different types of bulletproof clothing, and even multiple types of guns.
I lifted my head to look at Yue Gang. The latter made a “Tch” noise and explained, “The criminals now are so vicious, the equipment given to us by the higher-ups aren’t even powerful enough to defend ourselves with! If we don’t buy things to use, then when we’re on an assignment, we can only hide somewhere far away.”
And Mr. Yue Gang was obviously not the type to willingly hide far away.
“All those things are so expensive.” Yue Gang sighed. “Although they did save my life several times over, they almost cost me my life too. There’s still more than a week left until payday at the start of the month. I don’t have enough money to eat… How about it?”
“What is it?” I asked, confused.
Yue Gang looked at me longingly. “Let me take away an extra meal, yeah? You wouldn’t just sit by and watch a good policeman die of hunger, right? Just let me take away another family meal. Then, I can heat a piece of fried chicken each day. Like this, I can last until next week.”
“Even if you heat up the food from here, it will still taste horrible.”
“It’s still better than dying of hunger,” Yue Gang mumbled.
I smiled and said, “That market from earlier has a noodle stall. Just go and order whatever you want to eat and use my name for your tab. You can go over and pay it back once you receive your salary.”
Yue Gang was happily surprised and cried aloud, “My good brother!”
I forced a smile. “Forgive my rudeness, but I have to ask, did you come to the market to look for me because you had no money to eat and wanted me to treat you? Why did you not look for someone more familiar to you? If I recall correctly, we have only met once before.”
“Everyone else I know around me is a cop. How can I ask them?”
Yue Gang must have noticed my confused expression. He went on to explain in more detail. “Even those cops that hide the farthest away from trouble don’t dare to skip out on buying something extra. If not, their family would be taking compensation payment already. In this occupation, the salary looks great at first glance; however, the amount that’s needed to buy equipment is even greater! No one can avoid buying some more equipment to protect their lives. The worst part is that technology is improving so rapidly. The policemen have just started using the latest bulletproof clothes, but the criminals have already bought better guns. So we can only use our own salaries to buy newer bulletproof clothes… This is a black hole! It’s only allowing those business people to earn tons of money.”
I nodded my head.
Yue Gang sighed again and complained, “That’s why! All of us cops are in a tough situation, especially those that are already married with kids. They aren’t willing to use the money to buy the equipment, and so they’re actually the ones whose families end up collecting compensation payment the most.”
At this, he suddenly made a dissatisfied expression and grumbled unhappily, “Actually, now that I think about it, heroes aren’t that bad. After those Four Great Heroes appeared, the number of brothers that have had to take compensation payments has really gone down.”
He turned to me, like he was asking a question to himself but also to me. “Hey, when do you think those damn heroes will appear again? It can’t be that they ran away just because they got criticized, right? Can they even still be considered heroes like that?”
I could not help refuting him. “Heroes are normal people as well. They would also feel upset and hurt.”
“Upset? We cops are losing brothers every day! You think we’re not upset? This is why I don’t like heroes! They aren’t dutiful enough, aren’t professional enough! They can just choose to leave whenever they want to! We cops don’t work like that. But even though we work ourselves to death, everyone thinks that in this city the heroes are the ones who take care of things, while the cops are there to clean up the aftermath!
“I’ll tell you, bro, that not a single cop likes heroes!”
Yue Gang smacked the table and roared, “But the worst damned thing is, after the heroes disappeared, the daily number of cases jumped by at least five times. The police force is not large enough to handle everything!”
I stared pityingly at Yue Gang. The latter actually had no idea about the real situation. It was not just that the police force was not sufficient enough. The police force was actually also not strong enough. Against those criminals with modified bodies, most of the policemen would definitely be powerless to capture them.
Not to mention, there were also many non-humans in the city.
Heroes may more or less be able to scare off “non-humans,” but the police force would not even be on the non-humans’ radar. Among major criminal cases, there was probably quite a number that were committed by “released” non-humans being reckless.
It is because of those criminals that are non-humans or modified humans, so powerful that normal people cannot fight against them, that heroes who are similarly not like normal people were born, right?
After a long moment, Yue Gang’s bored voice floated over. “Do you think those Four Heroes will ever come out again?”
“I do not know either,” I could only reply honestly. There was, after all, no way that I could know what Solitary Butterfly, First Wind, and Dragon Peace were thinking of. When it came down to it, I was even unsure of what the young master was thinking.
Would the young master still be willing to appear in the public as Dark Sun?
Before, I would have been absolutely sure. But since Briar arrived, the young master seemed to be fully adjusted to using the free time he had while not being a hero. Maybe he has no intention to be a hero again?
After all, being a hero was probably the most arduous and least rewarding occupation there was.
Yue Gang wiped his mouth, stood up, and said, “I’ve got to get back to work! Good bro, when I get my salary, I will treat you!”
“You are welcome.” I smiled and nodded.
After dinner, the young master told me that Ji Luo Chu had called, informing him that there were a number of clients that wanted the young master to be their model, and so he had asked him if he was available tonight to take some photos.
Hearing this news, I smiled and said, “It seems like First Wind is fine.”
“That’s right!” The young master nodded, a happy look on his face. “Too bad we can’t ask him about Dragon Peace!”
I contemplated this. “We might be able to try broaching the subject from a different angle.”
The young master stared at me curiously. I smiled and said, “Young Master, when the time comes, please allow me to do the questioning.”
The young master opened the workshop, calling out while walking in, “DSII, it’s time to leave!”
In the workshop, the motorcycle that had been locked up for far too long let loose an ecstatic cry.
“Can I go over the speed limit? Ah Ye, let me go over once, just once! I’ve been locked up for so long…”
The young master had a troubled look on his face. But under DSII’s pleading, he gave in very quickly and said, “Okay!”
… Maybe I ought not to be so old-fashioned. Driving without a license is hardly that big of a deal. It is probably best if I take the other bike?
“The other one? That’s fine!” The young master hesitated and asked, “But it’s a manual transmission bike! Charles, do you know how to drive one?”
The young master smiled and said, “Never mind. I’ll let you ride DSII, and I’ll take the manual transmission bike.”
“Young Master, I ask of you to please give me a lift!”
When I got down from the bike, I suddenly had no idea whether I ought to feel thankful or upset… I seemed to have adjusted to DSII’s habit of speeding. He had been accelerating throughout the whole journey, yet I had had no urge to jump off.
Nevertheless, the moment the bike stopped, I could not get down from it fast enough.
I looked up at the skyscraper, my first time seeing Ji Luo Chu’s studio. The young master had already come by once, so he entered the building with practiced ease, got into the elevator, and made his way up to the studio on the thirteenth floor.
The moment I stepped inside, my attention landed on a gigantic photograph. The subject of the photograph was the young master. He was dressed in a simple outfit of pale yellow, both of his legs were extended straight, and he was sitting on a cloud of pure white cotton. He had his arms stretched upwards, as if he was yawning. There was a cheeky smile on his face.
“How does it feel?”
I turned. Ji Luo Chu was already standing beside me. I hurriedly greeted him. “Mr. Ji, hello.”
Ji Luo Chu laughed. “Call me Luo Chu or Ah Chu. Both are fine.”
I smiled and replied, “As you wish then, Luo Chu.”
Ji Luo Chu gestured to the photograph on the wall. “This is an advertisement for cotton. Afterwards, when I send it over to the client, I will add on captions and the rest. Ah Ye, what do you think?”
“It looks great!” The young master seemed to like it very much.
I thought the same. The picture completely captured the young master’s innocent purity.
“My god!” Ji Luo Chu cried aloud, “I’m satisfied, my boss is satisfied, my client is satisfied, my model and his butler are satisfied… God! This may be the first time since I’ve become a photographer that I could satisfy so many people at once. Great! Now we have to satisfy even more people. Ah Ye, come on over for some more pictures.”
When Ji Luo Chu pulled the young master away, another person walked to my side. I immediately greeted him. “Hello.”
“You’re Ah Ye’s butler Charles?” The person said casually. “You can call me Ah Da.”
Ah Da? As in Lao Da for Boss? I went “ah” for a moment and said, “Sir, are you the boss that Luo Chu mentioned?”
Ah Da laughed aloud. “Why are you using ‘Sir!’ My name has a ‘Da,’ so Ah Chu likes calling me Boss, Lao Da.1 We’re actually partners! Ah Chu is in charge of photography, while I’m in charge of design. We were university classmates, and then we started this studio.”
“I see.” Even though I said this, I had trouble believing it. Ah Da had sideburns and stubble, and he looked a great deal older than First Wind.
“Let’s go over too!” Ah Da patted my shoulder and said, “Sometimes watching the photography session also gives me some ideas for the design stage.”
When we walked in, the young master had changed into a white outfit and stood before a white background with white feathers on him and the floor.
Paired with the young master’s silver hair, this scene ought to be a monotonous white, but it actually was not. I could see that there were different shades of white, so it did not feel plain at all. After some scrutinizing, I noticed that the items were not all white but rather varying shades of blue-gray. Because the blue-gray was very pale, it made me think everything was white at first glance.
Ah Da explained to me, “This is a series of advertisements on jewelry. The theme is angels.”
“Ah Ye, come over here!”
The young master heeded the call and walked over to Ji Luo Chu. The latter hooked a necklace on his head, the pendant hanging right in the middle of his forehead. It was… an angel.
A round gem and a teardrop-shaped light blue gem formed the angel’s head and body, with two silver wings spreading from it. Even though it was supposed to be a girl’s accessory, it truly fit the young master rather well. Maybe when the accessory is out on the market, I should purchase a set to place at home.
After putting on the accessory, Ji Luo Chu led the young master to the ball of feathers and then walked back and positioned himself behind the camera that was placed on a tripod.
“Okay, I’m starting!”
The young master nodded his head and smiled.
“Excellent!” Ji Luo Chu pressed down on the shutter and said, “Ah Ye, smile a bit more brightly, like how you did last time, and then walk about a bit or give a twirl.”
The young master beamed and wandered around, looking completely natural, not at all stiff. The young master is really suited to be a model.
“Smile a bit happier!”
After a number of shots, Ji Luo Chu lifted his head and smiled lightly, “You don’t seem that happy today, Ah Ye?”
The young master stopped dead in his tracks and hesitated before he nodded.
“I just knew it. Your smile didn’t seem as bright as before. But chin up! Think of some happy things.”
After that, he took some more pictures but then stopped and mumbled, “This isn’t working,” with a troubled look on his face… Finally, he turned to Ah Da and asked, “Boss, why don’t we interpret it in another way? Since it’s an advertisement for jewelry, we don’t necessarily need a happy look right?”
Ah Da shrugged his shoulders and said, “The photography is your work, so as long as you like it, it’s fine. I’ve always told you…”
“How I take it doesn’t matter, the most important thing is taking a good picture… Got it! You’ve said that about a thousand times by now, right?”
Ji Luo Chu said this with a helpless look. Ah Da rolled his eyes at him. Then, Ji Luo Chu went to stand behind the camera again and told the young master, “Since you can’t smile, then, Ah Ye, is there anything that’s upsetting you? Can you think of the saddest thing that has happened to you?”
The young master stilled and asked, unsure, “The saddest thing?”
“Yeah, the saddest event you can think of.”
The young master looked a little unsure at first, but not long after, he seemed to have immersed himself in his memories, and his expression started drooping in sadness. It was actually just a sliver of grief, hinted at from his slightly teary eyes, the minute pinching of his lips, the faint furrowing of his brows. The dejection was only hinted at…
However, a sorrowful atmosphere started spreading. Even Ah Da, who was watching from the side lines, slowly lost his smile.
Speaking of which, the young master rarely directly displayed his sorrow. He always suppressed it, but he could not stop his actions from revealing it. Like now, when the public was blaming the heroes, although the young master neither cried nor complained before Briar came, the apartment had had a heavy atmosphere that was impossible to lift, making it difficult to breathe.
His continually suppressed grief was far heavier than cries and screams.
Finally, a lone tear slid from the young master’s eyes…
Seeing this, Ji Luo Chu hurriedly detached the camera from his stand and stood close to the young master, taking pictures from every close-up angle possible. It was a long moment before the clicks of the shutter ceased sounding.
“Excellent, we’ll change the name of this series to ‘Tears of an Angel!’”
Lao Da gave a thumbs up and yelled aloud, “I haven’t even seen the pictures, but I know the client will definitely love this! Ah Ye, you really are a natural model. No matter whether you’re smiling or sad, you look great! Ah Chu, you really found a treasure.”
“I didn’t find him. Looks like I have to treat Luo Lun to a good meal. Ah Ye?”
The young master was still standing in the same place. Ji Luo Chu called his name softly. Only then did the young master jump and return to his senses to look at him.
“Really, did you think of something?” Ji Luo Chu reached out and patted the young master’s hair and scolded lightly, “Young people shouldn’t be so melancholic, come on, smile!”
The young master smiled, but it looked a little forced.
Ji Luo Chu patted his shoulders and said, “Take a break first. We have another set to go through after. Wipe your tears, and then change into the next outfit!”
The young master obediently entered the changing room. Ji Luo Chu and Ah Da started discussing the design.
After a moment, young master walked toward me wearing a fancier than usual school uniform. As he walked over to the table I was at, I hurriedly pulled out a chair for him.
While pouring milk for him, I asked curiously, “What was the saddest event in Young Master’s life?”
The young master looked at me, hesitated, and then said helplessly, “There are too many of them. I don’t know which one is the saddest. It could be being locked up for seven years and having to continuously undergo operations and rehabilitations. It might be killing Father with my own hands. It could also be almost being replaced by my own clone and never being able to see Gēge again… All of these are so depressing, but I don’t know which one is the worst.”
My eyes widened, and I very rudely stared right at the young master.
“It’s a terrible past, isn’t it?” The young master smiled lightly. “That’s why I’ve said that none of you need to be worried about the current criticism on TV. It doesn’t bother me all that much, really! Compared to what has happened before, it’s really nothing… So, ask Bramble-shū not to let Briar come over every day. She wants to play with her own friends too, right?”
Being locked up for seven years, killing his own father, and being replaced by his own clone… This sort of past can no longer be described as “terrible,” but the most terrible thing is that I actually made a rude expression.
Dear father! When can I become a qualified butler that never lets his own emotions affect his master?
“Yes?” I smoothed out my expression. No matter what the young master wanted to tell me, I definitely would not show any expression!
“The milk is overflowing…”
I looked down. The glass was already full of milk, and it was even flowing over the rim, spreading around the table… Oh no! I hurriedly put down the thermos, taking out my cleaning rag that I always brought around, and started wiping the table.
The young master’s clear laughter sounded in my ears.
Highly embarrassed, I straightened up after wiping the table. Then I heard, “Done!”
Done? What is done? I turned and then noticed the camera in Ji Luo Chu’s hands. It seemed that he had been taking pictures for quite a while.
“My pictures are done!” Ji Luo Chu smiled.
Off to the side, Ah Da laughed boisterously. “You still don’t know this brat? His favorite thing to do is to take candid photos! He has already taken pictures of Ah Ye beaming brightly just now.”
The young master asked, interested, “Then, the photo shoot is done?”
“Mmm!” Ji Luo Chu said, satisfied. “You already showed your most beautiful smile today. There’s definitely no way that I can take any other pictures better than that. So we’re done for the day!”
I hurriedly said, “We are done? Then, do you want some tea? I will boil water immediately.”
“Mr. Butler must be in a hurry to wipe away his embarrassment over the spilled milk, huh?” Ji Luo Chu grinned. “Of course, please put a pot on for us.”
When I returned with the tea, everyone was sitting around a table and watching the television. The screen was showing the news. Everyone had a serious look on their faces. Something major must have happened.
I put down the tea and poured a cup for everyone. Only then did I relax enough to pay attention to the news. I did have some guesses though. Another criminal was probably at it again.
As expected, the television was airing a news report on a criminal kidnapping two university students. The kidnapper had abducted both girls to a rooftop and then stayed there, not allowing anyone to come close.
The news scene changed from a ground view to an aerial one. The kidnapper’s face was clear as day. He spoke coolly to the people, “After three hours, if no heroes appear, they will die. If any of you or the cops come closer, they will both die immediately, and I will continue to capture more hostages.”
Following this, the news report focused on the earlier scenes of trying to catch up to the kidnapper. Some of the footage was clear enough to identify the two university students’ faces. The young master immediately cried out, “It’s Ingrid and Judy!”
“Ingrid and Judy?” Perplexed, Ji Luo Chu turned to ask, “Do you know them?”
The young master replied hollowly, “They’re my classmates…”
Hearing this, Ji Luo Chu’s face twisted. Finally, he gritted out, “I’m going out to buy a late night snack!”
“Hahaha!” Lao Da laughed awkwardly. “That guy is always like that. Whenever he craves something, he’ll immediately go out and buy it. Don’t think too much about it! About that… I need the bathroom. Help yourselves to anything!”
After he finished speaking, he ran off as well.
When only the young master and I were left, the young master stared at the news and considered this. “Again in the west side? I may be mistaken. They’re not after heroes. Their true target is only First Wind!”
No matter if it is Ingrid, Judy, or even First Wind that is the target, all of these shocking pieces of news were unable to affect me. I could only stare at the kidnapper on the screen.
The young master asked slowly, “Charles, that kidnapper couldn’t be a vampire, could he? He’s wearing an old-fashioned suit that resembles yours…”
I nodded. The kidnapper was a non-human and a vampire, in addition to being…
X, what exactly are you doing?
1 Ah Da: Ah Da’s name is simply given to us as Ah Da, 阿大. Da means “big” while “ah” is just something you can put in front of someone’s name to make a nickname (such as Ah Ye). Luo Chu likes to call him “Lao Da” (老大). He swaps “ah” for “lao” which means old. The combination of these two characters “lao” + “da” now makes it mean “boss.”