No Hero Volume 4: The Ancient Vampire Castle
Original novel in Chinese by: 御我(Yu Wo)
The Lost Files of the Ancient Castle Chapter 10: Charles and Xiang Ye,1 Endless Days and Nights—translated by clrfction (proofread by Arcedemius & Trespasserby; C/E edited by lucathia)
We all returned home, but Charles-gē didn’t come back.
Ah Ye seems very sad. To cheer him up, his brother sent over one butler after another. They included not only vampires, but just about everything other than actual ghosts.
But the young master kicked them all out. The one who lasted the longest was a vampire. He managed to stay for three days before getting sent away. I think he was probably only able to last three days because he’s a vampire, just like Charles-gē.
I didn’t like him either. No, I didn’t like any of the new butlers. They were either expressionless, or overtly obsequious. Each was more of a sycophant than the last. The food they cooked… wasn’t bad. It was too good. Shit, it felt like we were eating the Chef’s Special from luxury restaurants every day. Made me feel like throwing up after eating.
Ah Ye flipped the table and smashed plates after eating the Chef’s Special for the third time. Good job! Let’s go have some plain soup noodles!
What? You want to eat at home? You want me to buy stuff and cook it? Wait, you want me to cook? I’ve never cooked anything other than instant noodles in my entire life! Tell Briar to cook… Summer’s over, so she’s going back to school?
Charles-gē, I miss you so much. Briar misses you too, as do Dell, May, and Mr. Bramble who has no one to make him tea. Even though she had said, “Idiot! He might as well go die,” the next morning after she had to clean up the mess she made while she was drunk, Melody says she misses you, too.
Ah Ye drowns himself in homework, modeling work, and maintaining security. He’s pushing himself to not even have time to take a break, just so he won’t have time to miss you.
But he misses you the most.
I opened my eyes. Only darkness accompanied me.
Could this be what hell looks like?
After pausing for a second, I laughed. This has nothing to do with hell. This is simply a metal cabinet. I have not died yet.
I reached toward the controls of the cabinet out of habit and hit the button, right on target. This was not only a metal cabinet but my own metal cabinet. Am I back at the young master’s?
I stepped out of the metal cabinet and froze. This was my room… the one I had not returned to in fifty years.
Nothing had changed here. It was identical to when I had left it. Three walls out of four were lined with wooden bookshelves, a large desk sat in the middle of the room, an armchair stood next to it, and there was a small coffee table next to that. There was no bed, as vampires have no need for beds.
I was not surprised to see that not a thing had changed in fifty years. Sadina was the type to keep my room exactly the way it was… No, she had added a portrait.
I should have only hung up a portrait of Father, but now, an extra portrait hung next to it. The black-haired, green-eyed person in the painting had many similarities with Father, and he had a very kind smile.
So, it was not the young master’s bias. I really do have a kind smile?
Leaving the room, I walked through the hall. The hall seemed to have been refurnished, but the layout was unchanged. I could still find my way to where I wanted to go. I met many people along the way, most of whom were servants. They looked at me confusedly, and I responded to all with smiles. No one tried to ask me who I was.
At last, I arrived at my destination, the family head’s study. I knocked on the door.
I entered. The person sitting behind the desk was not Sadina. I was puzzled for a second, before recognizing the person as Curtis. He was not wearing his glasses, had not combed his hair back impeccably, and was not even wearing a suit. He wore a loose-fitting shirt instead, and honestly looked very different.
But seeing him seated where the family head should sit, I felt reassured.
Many other people were around, either standing or sitting. At first, a few of them looked at me. Then, it became the majority, but I did not recognize them. A few of them seemed vaguely familiar, but I could not remember more.
However, Curtis did not look up. He had his head lowered, looking at what was on his desk—it seemed to be a document. A few seconds later, he looked up impatiently as he said, “You’re late. You should know what to do, correct? Are you new? Do you not know the rules… Family Head?”
He stood up immediately. Those around him froze and then stood up uniformly, all wearing expressions of nervousness and shock. I was shocked too, but I did not let it show. I did not expect Curtis to straightforwardly call me “Family Head” in front of all these people.
But then, Curtis did something even more shocking. He walked around to the front of the desk and bowed to me to apologize, “Family Head, my apologies. I did not know it was you. That was impolite of me.”
The gaze of our audience could not convey more shock, but Curtis did not seem to want to do anything else. Rather, he seemed to be waiting for an order, so I could only say, “Tell the others to leave.”
After receiving the order, Curtis glanced at the people around us, and his aura changed completely. I almost felt like the aloof, untouchable Master was here, not the amenable Curtis.
Perhaps Curtis is indeed a better butler than I thought… For a patriarch with such a strong leadership aura, he really was much too courteous to me.
He said lightly, “Did you not hear the family head?”
Those around us froze, then replied in unison, “Understood,” then proceeded to leave.
“You really do not have to be so polite to me,” I told him after everyone else left. “Before, I thought that you had not begun to take care of family affairs. Who would have thought you had taken over already? It was too much to ask you to serve me so humbly.”
“That is not the case, as this is expected,” Curtis said politely. “Grandmother had always told me that the family head of the Elysees must also be a good butler. To the master, I am only a butler, and I must not think of myself as the family head…I mean steward.”
I smiled. “Please do not say so. You are not a steward, but the family head. Just reserve the word ‘stewardess’ for Sadina.”
“Grandmother…” he hesitated, but continued, “she always said you have a very warm smile, and she always emphasized that I must protect your warm smile.”
I shook my head and said, “Sadina is too kind to me.”
“I did not believe her at first.” Curtis smiled and said, “A vampire with a warm smile? Even though it appears so on the portrait, it was painted by Grandmother, so I did not trust that painting’s objectivity.”
I laughed out loud at that. It is similar to the doubt I held when I first saw the picture the young master drew.
“It was not until I met you that I believed that what Grandmother protected did actually exist, ‘the warm smile of a vampire.’ Nevertheless, I still did not believe it was something worth protecting.”
I looked at Curtis and smiled to encourage him to continue. Even if what he wanted to say was that he no longer wished to protect me, I still thought it was to be expected.
“I do not wish to protect your warm smile.” Curtis looked at me squarely, and said, “However, I never want to see your ‘excruciating smile’ again. That was too painful, so I shall continue in Grandmother’s place to protect you.”
In Grandmother’s place? A bad feeling swept through me. I asked confusedly, “Where is Sadina?”
Curtis fell silent. The silence stretched on. I did not want to rush him at all, but the uneasy feeling continued to grow more and more…
“Grandmother has passed away.”
I still brought harm to her! I closed my eyes and murmured, “It is my fault.”
“No!” Curtis hurried to explain, “You have misunderstood. Grandmother passed away three months ago. She was in a hurry before, to wipe out the Endelis clan, to send me to serve you, all because she knew she did not have much time left. She was ill, and the doctor told her… it was hard to tell. She could have half a year to three years left.”
Three months ago? I opened my eyes and looked at Curtis, completely lost.
Curtis began to explain in detail, “Family Head, you were badly wounded by Madam Avexila’s attacks. Following E.X.’s advice, we let you soak in a blood bath for an entire week. He said that if you did not die within the week, we were to put you in a metal cabinet and let your body heal itself. Then, you would wake. We just did not expect the process to last an entire year.”
An entire year?
“Grandmother was not able to see you wake up after all, but she had no regrets. Rather, she was glad not to have you see her die.”
After he finished, Curtis paused before continuing, “Therefore, Family Head, please do not grieve too much. Grandmother died without pain or regrets. She was peaceful.”
I could not speak for a while. Finally, I managed to say, “I shall return to my room.”
Curtis froze, and then hurried to say, “Then, I shall have someone bring you some blood. You have slept for a year, so you must be hungry…”
“No!” I interrupted him fervidly. I tried to calm my emotions as I looked at him and ordered, “No one is to come, including you.”
He seemed to be shocked as he replied reflexively, “Yes.”
I left Curtis and crossed the hallway swiftly. It was not fast enough until I used x-speed, and I arrived at my room in a flash. I shoved the door open and slid onto the ground. As I looked around at the unchanged room, waves of memories washed over me… The time I spent with Sadina was almost always happy. She was an effervescent girl, and the happiness was contagious even just from watching her…
I clutched at my heart and could not speak. I could not understand. Why does it hurt so much? Why did the fifty years of separation have no use at all?
Sadina, you always spoiled me. This time, why…You knew you were about to die. Why did you not let me go first?
You knew how much pain I would go through. You were the only one there with me when Father died, so you know it the best, right?
I was sitting in the armchair and staring at Father’s portrait. Father was smiling in the portrait, but his smile was not similar to mine. He was a much more assertive person. Even though he was about seventy in the portrait and his hair was all white, his smile still held much authority.
People in the family all respected my honorable father greatly. To them, he was just about the perfect family head. His only fault was having a vampire for a son.
For this vampire son, he went as far as to not marry, to not have any other children, so the Elysees bloodline would be tied to his vampire son and protect him.
The Elysees bloodline extended only to me. If I die, the Elysees would truly die out.
I cannot die, or seek death.
Curtis’s hesitant voice sounded.
“I told you not to come.”
He still walked to my side and placed a glass pitcher on the coffee table. The liquid in the pitcher was bright red and smelled slightly rusty.
“It has been three days, sir. If you do not wish to return to the metal cabinet to sleep, please at least drink some blood! Or else your body cannot take it.”
I swept the jug off, and blood spilled everywhere on the floor. I yelled at him heatedly, “Can you not just, just let me die? Why? You are all dying one by one! Why must you force me to live on?”
He was silent for a while. Then, he said, “Your young master is still waiting for you. He wants me to tell you that the position for his butler will always be open, regardless of when you regain consciousness.”
“And then?” I smiled and said, “He wants me to love him as deeply as I did Father and Sadina, then die before my eyes so soon?”
Curtis looked like someone had punched him. He said with a deep frown, “Please do not smile like that… Family Head, your young master is still very young.”
“He would still not be young enough if he were born just now! Do you know how long I can live? Forever! Do you know what kind of torture that is?”
I stood up, grabbed Curtis by the collar, and yelled at him with a vampire’s Hollow Roar, but he did not seem flustered at all, as if he were positive I would not hurt him, as if he had no need to be afraid. He is so sure already? He knows me that well already?
I looked at Curtis’s face. He was much older than the young master, but I did not actually know how old he was. Perhaps a little over thirty? Either way, he would die much earlier than the young master, because he was once a vampire’s blood thrall. That would shorten his life.
I let him go, turned to put my back to him, and ordered stiffly, “I will drink. Tell the servants to bring some blood and books every day. Do not send the same person each time. Forbid them to talk to me when delivering. As for you, do not visit again.”
Curtis did not respond immediately, but I could not see his expression. After a while, he finally spoke, “Family Head, then your young master…”
“He is not my young master!” I interrupted him, and said coldly, “I have resigned, so I am no longer affiliated with him. Do not tell him anything! If he contacts you, always say I have not regained consciousness.”
“Family Head, you cannot isolate yourself forever!”
“I am the family head. If you do not heed my orders, then do not call me that! If that is the case, then I do not need to stay with the Elysees family!”
I faced the window, hearing Curtis sigh and the footsteps of his departure. Outside the window, a few children were playing in the garden of the castle.
I closed the curtains and shut everything out. Only darkness could accompany me forever.
Perhaps this servant is new? To not know that I never respond to knocking. They can just push open the door and come in.
I was sitting on the armchair and continued to read. I did not even lift my head, even though I could tell it was Curtis’s voice.
“Your…no, Mr. Ri Xiang Ye has called you.”
I flipped the page and said nonchalantly, “I have already told you how to answer.”
“But he called with a video call, and he said that my eyes looked up to the left by 0.03 centimeters, so I was definitely lying. If I did not bring the phone to you, he would come over himself. If you really do not wish to continue to work as his butler, please tell him yourself! No one can force the family head of the Elysees family to work as his butler.”
I was silent, but finally took the phone from Curtis.
“Charles, come home.”
The young master’s voice… Come home… He has said this before, too. He always included me as part of the family in such a matter-of-fact manner. I responded flatly, “I am sorry, but I am no longer your butler. I live in the Elysees castle, and I am the Head of the Elysees Family. I will not go anywhere else.”
“Charles, come back and share my eternal torture.”
I paused, and said, “Young Master, what are you talking about?”
“You’re finally willing to call me that again… Charles, I look a bit younger than my actual age, right?”
I was confused. Why mention this? I still answered, “Well, yes, but not by much.”
“It will get worse.” He paused, and continued, “Charles, I’ve always wanted to tell you something, but I didn’t know how… I wanted to tell you when you resigned, but you hung up on me.”
“What did you want to say?” Just let him finish! It was the last time. I would listen to the young master finish.
The young master was silent, but I felt like I could hear him breathing. Finally, he began, “I haven’t grown since I turned eighteen. Bàba said that, that I might stay like this forever. He doesn’t know how long I will live… He, he said I might never die, unless I get killed. I always wanted to tell you, but I didn’t know how. I’m different enough from humans as it is, and now I won’t die… What exactly am I?”
I gripped the phone, but I did not know how to react. I could not even come up with any comforting words. I should not think this, should not feel this. The young master was tormented, but…
Is it a miracle? Even in the most desperate times I have not believed or prayed. Can I possibly still receive a miracle?
“Charles, when I heard what you said about your father dying, I was so scared! Really scared!” The young master’s voice choked up. “What if my brother, my Bàba, and everyone else dies? You left Sadina because you didn’t want to be sad, but I don’t want to leave everyone at all! Yet I get so sad just at the thought of them all dying. If they really die, maybe I, I would be better off with suicide….”
“Young Master!” I interrupted him.
“Young Master, I have listened to what you wanted to tell me, so would you listen to what I have to say?”
I took a few deep breaths before I began, “Young Master, you are a hero who has no need for prayers and miracles. But I am not a hero. I need miracles, so can I pray to you?”
“What do you want from me?” He sounded confused.
“Young Master, I am a butler. I long to meet what my honorable father once told me. He said that it is every butler’s dream to find a master whom he would like to serve for a lifetime. I have never dared to hope, but I really have found one. I found you…
“However, even though I found you, I did not dare to stay and chose to leave again, because it was too painful to keep losing. I did not think I could go through it again… But I am a vampire. I could not possibly find a master whom I can serve forever.”
It was something I always thought was impossible, yet just now, a miracle has occurred.
I begged with all my heart, “Young Master, I am sorry for deceiving you. I beseech you, please believe me again. Will you sign an Endelis contract with me?”
It felt like the young master was silent for a very, very long time, and I was beginning to feel very, very scared. Then, he suddenly said, “Charles, I’ve already prepared an ‘Endelis contract’ for you to sign, stamp, and fingerprint. Maybe I should keep a DNA sample too. Then you definitely can’t worm your way out!”
I opened my mouth, but could not speak. It was a while before I could reply relatively calmly, “Yes, Young Master.”
“Hurry and come home! Tell Curtis to prepare the fastest plane for you!”
“Yes, Young Master. I shall return home at once.” As I finished promising him, I could not help but add, “Thank goodness you have your special ‘observational’ skills to see through Curtis’s lying.”
“Huh? What did Curtis lie about?”
I stopped, and asked, “When you called to ask for me, did he not say I have not regained consciousness?”
“No? He called me to tell me that you woke up, but you wouldn’t come back and be my butler, because I can’t be with you forever.”
I looked to the side to ask Curtis, only to realize he had left already.
I nervously pressed the doorbell, but nobody came to answer to door, even after repeated attempts. Just as I was bewildered, the neighboring door opened. A glamorous woman clad only in a thin nightgown came out from behind the door.
I greeted her with a smile, “Melody, long time no see…”
“Jerk!” Melody interrupted my greetings coldly.
“Uh, is anyone home?”
“…Is the young master not at home?”
I had no response and did not know how to converse with Melody. Perhaps she is drunk again?
At this point, she walked over angrily. Before I figured out how to react, she slapped me hard and growled, “What did you come back for? To leave again after two years? Did you think the young master would tolerate that? The amount of emotions this little young master invested cannot be rescinded! He can’t accept anyone around him leaving, especially you!”
She screamed hysterically, “Do you know how sad he’s been this whole year because of you?! If you’re going to leave in the future, I might as well kill you now!”
I smiled and answered, “Unless you kill me, only death can make me quit being the young master’s butler now.”
“…The young master went to church.”
I walked into the church. There were not many people. Father Yue preached from the pulpit at the front… I could not see anyone else except the person at the very front, with shiny white hair. Even the sunlight that shone through the stained glass windows onto that hair turned to a silvery white moonlight.
I walked to his side and called out lightly, “Young Master.”
He shifted and then looked up at me. His appearance had not changed at all, except for his longer hair. The longest locks even reached his waist. The young master could actually control the length of his hair, so perhaps he only let it slowly grow longer to have a sense of growing up.
“You’re back?” He asked.
“Yes, Young Master.”
“Had enough sleep?”
“Yes, Young Master.”
“If you sleep for a whole year and don’t come back as soon as you wake up again, I really will leave you!”
“Apologies, Young Master. Charles will never dare to do so again.”
The young master’s eyes became red, but he turned his face away immediately and did not look back for a long time. He shoved a sheet of paper in front of me and said resolutely, “Sign!”
I pulled out a pen with no hesitation and signed my name on the contract.
I handed the signed contract back to the young master. He looked down at it and finally smiled. Then, he suddenly paused, and looked up with a worried expression at me to ask, “Charles, I’ve already graduated from university, so I can live anywhere. Do, do you still want a master who has an ancient castle? I have many castles, but they’re all somewhere else. Sunset City doesn’t have any castles…”
“Young Master, what are you speaking of?” I said with a smile, “Are we not living in an ancient castle already?”
The young master looked at me with an expression of confusion.
I explained with a smile, “Are we not living in a large, ancient castle called Sunset? The castle houses all kinds of bizarre scenery, and is home to all kinds of people and non-humans, such as humans, heroes, werewolves, vampires…”
The young master laughed, and followed along, “Right! What’s this castle called? The Ancient Sunset Castle? The Ancient Hero Castle? Those all sound bad! How about the Ancient Vampire Castle? That sounds much better!”
The Ancient Vampire Castle… This is indeed my castle, and it is better than the castles I had ever dreamed of. There are human friends who can tolerate vampires, and non-humans who can welcome humans. There is even a master who can create miracles.
“Charles, Father Yue is glaring at us. Let’s sit down and pray!”
“Yes, Young Master.”
I sat down and saw a huge cross as soon as I looked up. I never understood the meaning of this simple symbol before, or what significance it held. Now, I finally understood.
Looking at the cross, I prayed silently.
Thank you, Father. Thank you, Sadina. Thank you, Curtis… Thank you, all those who have stayed with me, who have forced me to reach this point. Thank you for being more tenacious than I have been and for leading me to a miracle.
“Charles, let’s go!”
The young master stood up and said, “I need to get to my scheduled event.”
I stopped and asked, “Scheduled event?”
The young master tilted his head and said, “Ah… I forgot that you don’t know. Charles, you have really missed a lot! It’s okay though. I’ll tell you on the way. Aren’s going to yell at me again if we’re late.”
“Yes, Young Master.”
I stood up, just in time to see Father Yue smiling at me from the pulpit. I smiled in return and turned to follow the young master out of the church.
To be continued…
1 “Charles and Xiang Ye”: Charles’s name “Zhao Suo (朝索)” means “to seek for the morning” while Ah Ye’s name “Xiang Ye (向夜)” means “towards the night.” The two names are juxtaposed together here, along with day and night.