Magician Chapter 4

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The dark-haired man’s voice was not loud as if he was already aware of Asa’s superior hearing before he spoke. Looking at the youth who came to a halt, the dark haired man’s smile widened.

“You know my name?” The youth’s voice, while still faintly hoarse, was much more coherent than before.

Asa carefully observed the man under the tree from a distance as his right foot inched back to escape once again if the need should arise. 

“Of course, you are my master,” the elegant man’s face was slightly covered by his dark hair as he bowed, leaving Asa with only a clear view of his nose.

“Master?

“I don’t remember who I am,” warily, Asa unconsciously stepped back with his left foot. 

“What do you actually want? Or rather, what do you want from me?”

“If you are the one who bears the serpent pendant, then you are my mission and the purpose of this trip, Sir*,” the dark-haired man straightened up and laughed gently, glancing up at the sun.

“Right now, however? What I want is for us to return home. I shall explain my identity enroute, but if we delay much further I’m afraid we must wait till dusk after the sun finishes traversing the sky before we may return.”

The dark-haired man stepped closer causing Asa to shuffle back from nervousness. Instead of approaching further, the young man sniffed the air, “Not to mention, your body reeks. Sir, was it really necessary to drag along such bodily filth all night long?”

***

In the car, Asa sat rigidly in a corner of the back seat as far away from the dark-haired man as possible. 

“You don’t have to look so nervous, Sir. I’m only responsible for the training of Blood Clan fledglings.”

The dark-haired man’s driving posture was perfect. Concentrating on the road, his head did not so much as glance back to look at Asa as he spoke.

“Right, my name is Samuel and I am your butler.”

“Samuel.” Asa repeated the name several times and nodded. “Samuel,” Asa asked, reaching for the car door handle, “do you have a driver’s license?”

“…” the dark-haired man frowned, “Sir, are you certain you’ve lost your memory?”

Asa stared out the window at the retreating trees as the car slowly crawled forward, “Just because I’m amnesiatic doesn’t mean I’ve lost all common sense.”

Samuel’s brow raised slightly and he whispered in a voice only he could hear, “Sure enough, are there really too many memories left?”

“Did you say something?” Asa looked towards the front of the car at the man.

“No, it’s nothing.”

Asa frowned and turned to face the receding treeline again, his mind full of uneasiness about the future. The things that Samuel spoke of, what was actually real? What were the lies?

He didn’t know why he followed this person in the end. Perhaps it was because the other party seemed to know his past. Or perhaps he subconsciously feared the black robed priests who were going to contact the Church of London and it was safer together with someone else as opposed to being alone.

No matter what his reason was, the result was that Asa had willingly stepped into the car and decided to believe in Samuel and place his trust in him. 

“Why did I wake up in a graveyard? Is that how all the fledglings are born? Are you also Blood Clan?

“Or are you — a vampire?”

The youth spoke in a nasally tone that made the originally cold voice sound slightly spoiled.

“Your physical condition is special, Sir, so you needed the dead air in cemeteries to suppress the other forces in your body. You should have felt it before, right? That slight repulsive force in your body,” Samuel’s words were carefully chosen to avoid mentioning his own problems.

“Slight?” Asa frowned as he recalled the memories of the previous night, “The blood I drank last night almost made me vomit.”

—Squeak.

The car braked harshly. The young man frowned and turned to stare at Asa his face suddenly dark and gloomy, “You* drank blood? Whose?”

Asa was shocked by the extreme reaction of the other man but didn’t think much about answering him, “Yesterday I woke up starving so I attacked a gravekeeper.”

Looking at the pronounced blue veins protruding from Samuel’s whitening hands as he tightened his grip on the steering wheel, Asa tensed and straightened his back, in wary anticipation of the other man suddenly launching an attack.

“Isn’t it normal for the Blood Clan to drink blood?” the youth leaned forward slightly, raising his sharp chin. Asa stared straight into Samuel’s gloomy dark gold pupils trying to find flaws in his perfect mask.

The atmosphere in the car became increasingly tense. Just when Asa thought Samuel would snap, the gloomy expression on Samuel’s face dispersed and was replaced by his usual smile.

“Of course it’s normal, but a fledgeling’s stomach is more fragile and needs to drink special blood instead.”

While speaking, Samuel’s dark gold eyes flashed with a cold, inorganic light, obviously still very displeased. 

“Really?” Asa stared into the other man’s eyes trying to see through his smile.

“Earlier, you yourself said that the gravekeeper’s blood was difficult to drink,” Samuel’s slender fingers rhythmically tapped at the steering wheel.

Asa recalled the feeling from the previous day and unconsciously shivered, “What kind of blood am I supposed to drink then? Tomato juice?”

Samuel raised an eyebrow but did not immediately respond.

—Click.

The car started driving forward again as the engine rumbled to life. Samuel slowly said, “Of course it’s my blood, or else why would I be your butler?”

“You are a blood slave raised by the Blood Clan?” Asa’s nerves relaxed as he cautiously asked, afraid of touching the other man’s sore spots.

“A blood slave?” Samuel smiled softly as he looked straight ahead, “Yours? You can say that.”

The pleasant laughter coming from the backseat was interrupted as Samuel frowned, looked into the rearview mirror and asked, “How do you know about blood slaves? Are you sure you have amnesia?”

Asa frowned as he tried to recall, “The gravekeeper from earlier was using the term blood slave.”

Samuel nodded thoughtfully and continued driving.

Asa looked at the slowly moving scenery outside the darkened windows. If not for his fear of the sun he would have long abandoned the car — it was truly disgustingly slow!

The sun had slowly risen in the sky and the number of vehicles surrounding them had also begun to gradually increase. After Samuel drove the car around a corner, a bustling metropolis suddenly came into view.

Watching the ever increasing number of people and vehicles on the street, Asa began to feel uncomfortable, “Is this London?”

“Yes, today is one of its rare days of good weather,” Samuel glanced at the youth through the mirror and grinned, “You’re lucky.”

Asa did not hear his teasing tone and frowning, he asked, “Are there any other Blood Clan in London?”

Instead of useless prattling, Asa would rather pull beneficial information out of Samuel’s mouth.

“There are a lot of Blood Clan living here. This weather does seem very suitable doesn’t it?” Waiting for the red light to change, Samuel tapped a rhythm on the steering wheel, “Although Blood Clan adults can walk under the sun, exposure to dazzling sunlight can still cause problems for them so this foggy city is precisely to their taste.”

When Asa heard the latter half of the sentence, his gaze was immediately drawn to the glowing sun outside the darkened windows. “Can I also walk in the sun? How long is a fledgling’s infancy?”

“Of course you can. Every House in the Blood Clan has a different infancy period based on the purity of their bloodline. Those with the purest dark blood have the shortest infancy period and strongest resistance to light. These purebloods are terrifying when they mature.”

Asa looked down at his grimy, outdated clothing and then at the trendy clothes passing pedestrians were wearing. “I seem to have been in that graveyard for many years but I’m still a fledgling. So what House am I from?”

The streetlight turned green and Samuel chuckled as he started the car.

“That’s something to ask your Sire, Sir.”

Samuel had just finished speaking when a red convertible whizzed past the right flank of the car. The blonde youth silently stared at the passing car and once again raised his middle finger at Samuel in his heart…

Asa turned his face to look at Samuel and said, “You seriously drive too slowly. Why don’t you switch with me?”

“…”

The huge Land Rover slowly inched down the streets as it was repeatedly overtaken by other vehicles. 

Asa looked out the window at the pedestrians walking in front of their car and thoroughly shut up.

After Samuel made another turn, the cars and pedestrians surrounding them drastically decreased. Lining the new street were various classical and refined houses. However, some yards were carefully manicured and luxurious while others were wildly overgrown and spotted with weeds.

“This is London’s Bishop Main Street in the Northern District. Our home is right up ahead.” Samuel jerked his head towards the road.

Asa did not know the average prices of London homes, but looking at these resplendent mansions he knew they were definitely very expensive.

Asa watched the gorgeous buildings disappear down the street and calmly asked, “It’s very opulent here. Is this place a dormitory arranged for fledglings by the Blood Clan Houses?”

Samuel didn’t look back but said very clearly, “This place is exclusively yours, Sir. It’s made for only one person!

Asa didn’t feel any sense of belonging when he finally saw Samuel’s house. Disbelievingly he raised an eyebrow, “Every fledgling has a personal butler? Tell me, I— Who was I before?”

Samuel stopped the car and looked at Asa with a serious expression, “You’re right, Sir. Ordinary fledglings definitely do not qualify for a personal butler. As for you, you must be tired from playing so much outside, Sir. You’ve finally found your way home*.”

Asa turned his head to look through the darkened windows to the courtyard and the beautifully designed mansion. He didn’t know why he seemed to feel extreme sorrow from Samuel’s dark gold eyes like a dark mist wrapping itself around him.

—You’ve finally found your way home, is that right?

The atmosphere in the car was suddenly inexplicably heavy as Samuel drove into the open-air garage and neither of them said a word to each other.

Walking up the path through the front yard, Samuel pushed open the arching white doors and smiled, “Welcome back, my Master.”

Asa stepped through the doorway and then stopped, quietly observing the scene before his eyes.  

From the outside, the mansion was large and spoke of classical opulence.

But when the doors were pushed open, the house gave off a feeling of sleekness and luxury. The floor flickered and glowed with the reflection of overhanging chandeliers; refined wall lamps lit up blue velvet paneling; an imperial staircase arched across the back of the room, the parallel sets of stairs glowed faintly with inlaid lights that seemed to be welcoming their new owner…

But the eyes of the two people did not fall on the decor but the centerpiece of the entrance hall where a carved sapphire stood between the stairs*. As tall as a man, the sapphire serpent was faceted brilliantly. On the cold tile, each facet sparkled and individually reflected icy light under the illumination.

Asa stared at the blue serpent and raised his hand to his chest where an identical serpent rested, a serpent he did not know. Fingers touching the necklace, his nose was filled with a sense of suffocation. 

Asa tugged at the clotted blood on his cuffs. Frowning awkwardly, he asked, “…Where is the bedroom? I, want to shower.”

No one answered, Asa turned and saw Samuel standing behind him apparently caught up in memories as his dark gold pupils were locked obsessively on the statue.

The corridor on the second floor was very long but there were only two rooms in total. The entire corridor was split in half by black and white wallpaper. The two doors – black and white – stood in direct juxtaposition across from each other. Light and dark seemed to coexist here without the abruptness usually associated with the contrasting colors.

Standing in the middle of the corridor, Asa stared blankly at the black and white doors. It was very nice to only have two options because it eliminated the trouble of opening doors one by one to find his room. It was just, which room was his?

There was a quiet voice in his heart urging him to walk towards the white door but Asa rejected it and decisively walked towards the black door.

Asa didn’t look back after ignoring the desires of his heart. He would never take a step back from a decision he made.

“Master, your room is over there.” Samuel’s voice suddenly rang out behind his back. Asa hadn’t heard the sound of his footsteps approaching. His eyes flicked to the black leather shoes on the other man’s feet and raised an eyebrow, “Are the soles on your shoes padded?”

Samuel didn’t answer and without apparently moving his slender, long legs, he appeared at the end of the white corridor seconds later. For only a brief moment, Asa could have sworn he saw a heavy shadow upon his back.

—Click.

The silver doorknob twisted open as the smile on Samuel’s face tilted to make him look exceptionally friendly.

“Master, this one is your room.”


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*Sir – Nín (您), formal ‘you’

*You – Samuel switches to informal speech here indicating just how angry he is to let his polite mask slip.

*The characters here are “刚找到家的灵魂.” A more word for word translation would be “You just found the soul of your home” but I believe the meaning is more along the lines of finally finding the place you belong hence, “you’ve finally found your way home.”

*The Chinese used for the staircase was slightly more specific than its English translation and would have looked similar to the picture below with a serpent statue in lieu of flower vases.

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