City Series:Volume2 Chapter 1
Chapter 1: Sinister Call of the Past
A man known simply as the Inspector had a private office on the second floor of Scotland Yard, London’s metropolitan police department.
The light of midday entered the large and tidy room through the window and it washed over a man standing by the window.
He was the Inspector.
He wore a brown three-piece suit and the dandy-colored collar was perfectly stiff, so he looked like an elite businessman from the real world. He would have looked perfectly at home in a modernized office district.
But regardless of how he looked, he could not be human if he lived in London.
Even so, no one could say anything more than that because not a single person in London knew his identity. No one knew his race, his name, or even his initials. They only knew he had a somewhat troublesome personality and he excelled at Overriding and Overlossing.
He demonstrated that now by Overriding a cigar into his mouth out of nowhere. The tip of the cigar suddenly lit, so it seemed he had a match or lighter Overlossed somewhere.
He exhaled some smoke while making sure it did not touch his gray-streaked moustache.
He brushed a hand through his hair, sat on the large work desk by the window, and crossed his legs in a calculated fashion. The action created a sharp noise that refused to be ignored.
After that, he glanced toward the wall and his reflection in a tall, narrow mirror.
He posed as if testing himself and slightly adjusted his tie.
“The coloring is wonderful. Is this what they call Italian quality? No, or is this thanks to my own quality?”
He breathed a satisfied sigh and seemed to be in an excellent mood.
“Yes, truly a man of the heavens.”
But as soon as he said that…
“What are you doing, idiot?”
He turned toward the blunt tone one would expect of an older sister.
A uniformed woman stood at the huge door into the office. She had the well-formed eyes of a werecat and they were giving the Inspector a look of pity.
He completely ignored the look and moved to the window while thinking about the backlight.
“Oh? Fir, I thought you were off duty today. What do you need?”
“C’mon, now. Everyone was called in because of the murders this morning. Isn’t that why you’re here, too?”
Fir sighed and swept back her high ponytail. Her cyan hair darkened toward the front and it gently swayed behind her. Her eyes remained on the Inspector.
“So don’t ask what I need. It’s my job to help you when you have a job, so try to act more like my boss.”
“Don’t blame me. A capable man is always busy. And as you work for me, you are a capable secretary who-…”
“Yes, yes, yes. Quit pretending to be a dandy gentleman and get in your seat. We’ve got a lot of paperwork today.”
“I can read paperwork while I stand.”
“You need to sign it,” she snapped back.
When she placed the paperwork on the desk, it thudded down like a piece of luggage.
“You want my autograph that badly? Well, if you insist.”
“I don’t want it. This is just part of the job.”
“What an unpleasant young girl.”
The Inspector reluctantly sat in his seat and placed the cigar in the ashtray.
He lightly cleared his throat, rested his elbow on the desk, used some Verbal Self Control, and Overrode the mood he was giving off.
“Now, then. Fir, what kind of case is this one?”
“If you want to know what this job is about, just read the paperwork.”
He frowned when he saw her point at the paperwork on the desk.
“Are you really my secretary?”
“I do sometimes wish I wasn’t.”
“A secretary needs to at least summarize all this paperwork!”
“This is the summarized version. And it’s your fault for letting it pile up this much.”
“Aren’t you supposed to live as the quintessential dandy? So get to work.”
“Wait, Fir. Listen.”
The Inspector raised a finger at the perfect angle and with the perfect timing.
“You keep talking about work, but I deal with trouble, not work!”
“Trouble? All you ever do is cause that.”
“When have I ever caused any trouble!?”
“Well… Okay, you can start by signing this permit.”
“Don’t ignore me!”
Without looking up at the Inspector, Fir spread out a few pieces of paperwork on the desk.
“Look, even a monkey can do this.”
“You think I am on the level of a monkey, don’t you?”
“Well, of course I do.”
“I’ll prove you wrong one of these days,” he grumbled.
He pulled a quill from the pen holder, checked on the ink, and quickly began signing the papers. He moved through the papers placed before him at a decent pace.
He was quite fast.
As his hand flipped though the paperwork, Fir watched to make sure he was doing it right.
At the fifth, sixth, or seventh page, she quickly snatched the cigar from the ash tray and naturally pressed it against his hand.
It produced a quiet sizzling sound for a moment and his hand stopped moving.
“Hot, hot, hot, hot, hot! Fir! What did I do to deserve that!?”
“Your signature is too messy, you stupid old man. People are going to think it’s just an ink stain!”
“My signature always looks like this!”
“Liar. I’ve been watching and every last one of them is different.”
“I like to be original.”
“Shut up! Stop making up excuses!”
After shouting, Fir’s shoulders drooped. She could not let herself get so worked up.
“I always end up Altering so quickly when I’m around you.”
“I like it better when you're the Siamese cat.”
“My claws are sharper that way, you know?”
She used some Verbal Self Control.
He Overlossed the burn on his hand, ignored it, and began signing again. This time, he did it properly. His pace had dropped, but it was still acceptable.
After three, four, or five, the number of completed documents reached the double digits and continued to grow. The quill moved back and forth between the papers and the ink pot.
Silence fell over them.
However, it was broken by a light knock on the office door.
The Inspector gave some Open Words as he continued signing.
…I’m busy, so have them come back later.
Fir nodded in understanding.
The Inspector bared his teeth and glared up at her as the door opened.
A slender form slipped through the cracked-open door on unsteady feet.
“Excuse me. It’s Klausl.”
She was a girl from the main office.
She entered the private office with her eyes closed and bowed. Her long blonde hair spilled from the shoulders of her black apron skirt and over her chest.
The Inspector watched as she frantically fixed her hair.
“What do you need, Klausl?”
“Oh, right. Um, the reception desk has been getting a flood of complaints about late paperwork and we don’t know what to do.”
Fir glared at him.
“See? Your laziness is causing trouble for Klau.”
“You don’t have to talk to me like I’m a child,” he complained.
“Um, Fir? Is something wrong?” asked Klausl.
“There’s always something wrong with this monkey.”
She showed no mercy.
“I am not a monkey!”
“Not genetically, maybe. But you’re about as capable as one.”
Klausl tilted her head with her eyes still closed, so the Inspector spoke to her.
“This is between the two of us, so do not worry about it.”
She replied with a pure smile.
“Understood. You can rest easy because I will not worry about it in the slightest.”
“I’d…kind of like it if you worried a little bit, though.”
Fir casually waved a hand toward Klausl’s confused look.
“You can ignore what this…thing says, Klau. Any news on the murder case?”
“Yes,” she immediately replied. “A lot is still unknown about it. The paperwork you were given before has the information on the victims and the surrounding situation. Currently, we have called in Amon, the one who first reported the murders.”
That name instantly changed the atmosphere in the room.
It was the Inspector and Fir who caused that drop in the room’s temperature.
“Again?” muttered the man.
Fir turned her back on that word and naturally looked toward Klausl.
“Don’t say that, Inspector. It isn’t like he was the killer.”
“Do you know him?” asked Klausl.
“Back when I lived on the streets as the leader of a group of Urban Heroes, he led our combat unit.”
Fir’s tone was emotionless as she talked about her childhood.
The Inspector gave a deep nod and faced straight forward.
“And I arrested him once.” He took a breath. “He was still on probation I believe.”
“Yes, one of the victims was a Mr. Jonathan Holland who had taken him in. Amon has an alibi and it has been proven that he was not the murderer.”
At that point, Klausl tilted her head.
“What kind of person is Amon? I am about to bring him breakfast.”
Fir was the one to answer. She crossed her arms and chose her words carefully.
“Are you familiar with the idea of a death wish?”
“No, I’m not.”
“There once was a guy who always charged head-first and alone into fights and battles he had no chance of winning. No matter how much he was injured, he would keep fighting. He probably wanted to burn out and die.”
“The one who would always seek out a place to die like that is Death Wish Amon. He’s a demon, but he doesn’t use that power and he has no wings.”
After some hesitation, she summed up her description.
“He’s a pitiable guy.”
Amon was certain that nightmares had a flavor.
It was an unpleasant flavor. It was raw like blood or like boiling seawater.
Whenever he had a nightmare, that flavor would endlessly seep into his mouth, his nostrils, and every last pore on his body.
It felt like sinking into a marsh. No matter how much he screamed or struggled, there was nothing he could do. He could not fight it.
He knew this because he had had the same nightmare again and again and again for so very long.
He was having it again now.
In the dream, he saw himself as a young child in a stone room. However, that child was not alone. He was with a woman who seemed to be his mother and they were hiding below a stone table.
The mother held him and stared at the room’s entrance without even blinking.
His mind was calm in the dream and his mind’s quiet words sounded exhausted.
This was entirely normal and yet he still could not get used to it.
The dream continued on.
The young child turned his gaze in fear.
His eyes were staring at something. A figure stood in the doorway to the room.
The figure had wings, but they were not the wings of a demon. These were a dove’s wings.
In other words, this was an angel.
An angel was normally mostly white as the color of light, but the spear in his hand, the armor he wore, and even his wings were dyed crimson.
The young child let out a small scream when he saw the angel.
At the same time, the angel raised the spear in both hands and slowly entered the room.
Amon shouted as he watched the dream play out, but his voice was Overlossed by the presence of the nightmare. It was ignored.
The armor on the angel’s feet clanked as he stepped on the stone floor. It was a cold sound.
The mother faced the angel with her back to her fearful child. The hunter and prey had already confirmed each other’s presences.
The young child clung to his mother’s back and trembled.
Amon knew it was useless, but he tried to run into the scene.
He panicked and shouted again.
“Run away! Hurry! Don’t try to protect me!”
But his mind’s pleas did not reach her.
The angel pulled back his spear and his face was filled with the glee of taking down his prey. Seeing that kind of look for the first time shocked the young child to the point of tears.
When scared, children would cry.
That voice stopped the angel and his gaze turned directly toward the young child.
The angel knocked the mother out of the way with the shaft of the spear. The woman collapsed to the cold floor without even crying out and the angel shouted vulgar words at her before facing the child again.
He was planning to kill the crying child first. Amon knew what happened next and he knew there was no way for him to stop it.
“Stop! I don’t want to see this!”
He tried to close his eyes, but his mind continued to show it to him.
The spear moved quickly. Its path took it straight toward the center of the child’s forehead. The child stopped crying and stared straight at the glint of the coming spear tip.
Just as Amon cried out, the young child was knocked out of the way.
His mind gasped at this afterimage of the past.
The spear meant for the child instead plunged into the mother that moved in front of him.
The dream was silent, but he could swear he heard the low sound of metal piercing flesh.
The spear passed diagonally from her back and out her stomach and the muddy dark red blood of a demon spilled to the floor.
The young child endured the pain of falling to the floor and got up. His gaze naturally reached the stabbed mother who had fallen to a sitting position.
The mother’s lips clearly called Amon’s name.
The child did not understand any of what was happening, but he answered her voice with a small nod.
She must have been satisfied because she let out a quick breath and smiled.
It was a smile of relief.
“Why are you smiling?”
The mother did not answer his mind’s question and she slowly collapsed the rest of the way to the floor. She continued smiling all the while.
The child hesitantly started toward his mother, but he stopped.
But not because the angel that had stabbed his mother was staring at him. He had seen a bright light beyond the angel and in the room’s entranceway.
It was a white light and it had a great presence as if it had solidified.
The angel must have sensed the approaching light’s presence because he quickly turned, kneeled, and set his spear down with the tip pointed backwards. This was how a retainer greeted his lord.
By that time, a man stood in the room’s entranceway.
The strange man carried light with him and his wings were larger and more numerous than the angel’s. His simple white robe was immaculate and it shined in the light emitted by his wings.
He may have been a god.
He faced the kneeling angel.
…Stop. The child has not sinned.
“I haven’t sinned? If that wasn’t a sin, what is!? I killed my mother!”
The pressure of guilt was Overridden on the dream and began to press down on Amon’s mind.
“I’ve lost so many people. If it wasn’t for me, none of them would have-…”
Unable to hear Amon’s cries, the god slowly entered the room.
He approached the young child who did not know what was happening and picked up his small body.
“Stop! Don’t take me away from her!”
The child must have realized he was being separated from his mother because he began to cry in the god’s arms and he reached for the woman lying on the floor.
Feeling someone grab that outstretched hand, Amon woke from the dream.
Amon jumped up at the warm sensation surrounding his right hand.
He tried to catch his breath as he looked at his right hand and found a slender white hand on his own.
He looked up and gently Overrode the feminine hand.
He found a girl there.
She wore the clothes of an office worker and looked like the quiet type.
She was kneeling on the floor and looking worriedly toward him with her eyes closed.
“Are you okay? It sounded like you were having an awful nightmare.”
“Sorry,” he tried to say.
However, he found he could not speak properly. His throat was too dry.
His scratchy voice made the girl smile.
“Don’t be sorry for having a nightmare. …Oh, you need some water, don’t you?”
She slowly let go of his hand and stood. He saw her approach the bedside table which contained a tray of breakfast likely meant for him.
She poured a glass of water from the pitcher on the tray.
He gulped down the entire glass in one go and belched.
“My, how rude.”
He ignored her bitter smile and let out a deep breath. After some Verbal Self Control, he felt his body had finally calmed down. Only then did he remember where he was and more thoroughly Overrode his surroundings.
He was in Scotland Yard’s nap room. It was a fairly large room, but it only contained bunk beds covered in white sheets. He had been sleeping in the bottom bunk closest to the entrance.
He had been taken in directly from Jonathan’s brewery and suddenly thrown into an interrogation room. After being questioned like he was the murderer, he had been told to stay put in here.
The cement wall was covered in the color of mildew and it was a little damp. The only light came from the skylight. The atmosphere of the room may have been part of what had given him the nightmare.
He nodded and faced the girl standing next to the bed. She wore a hairband in her soft-looking blonde hair and she still had her eyes closed.
“Who are you?”
“My name is Klausl.”
Amon scratched his head at the uninformative answer. Still smiling, she gently held the tray out to him.
“Are you sure you’re okay? You looked like you were suffering.”
He took the tray and picked up the spoon, but then he stopped.
“Was it that obvious I was having a nightmare?”
Her smile vanished and she nodded.
“Yes. You said ‘help me’ again and again. You were clearly suffering.”
“I see. …Sorry.”
“Instead of apologizing, please eat.”
He looked up in thought when he heard that, but he soon began working at the food on the tray with great intensity.
He focused on eating.
He continued making a racket for a while and Klausl asked him a question.
“How does it taste?”
He did not answer. He was not the kind of guy who could make small talk like that. He simply continued eating without saying a word.
Klausl watched him, sighed, and gave a vague comment.
“Breakfast today was made by the Yard’s #1 chef.”
He had a reflexive thought about that.
…I see. That explains why it’s so good.
“Oh, thank you very much! I was the one that made it!”
Amon just about spat out the food in his mouth, but she ignored that and happily folded her hands.
“Thank goodness. You were a sudden guest, so I wasn’t very confident.”
“Don’t read my Open Words.”
He just barely managed to get those words out.
“But you won’t answer me otherwise.”
She was right about that.
It bothered him that things were not going like normal.
“Don’t get so excited just because I said your food was good. Are you not very smart or something?”
“My, how rude. I’ll have you know I have a Level 2 government worker license.”
“That isn’t what I meant. This is a more essential issue.”
“Oh, so you admit I’m skilled?”
“Hold on. Are you making fun of me? I’m Death Wish Amon, you know?”
“I’m not sure what you mean. You seem like a perfectly normal demon to me.”
His expression grew stern.
“Can’t you see I don’t have any wing-…”
He trailed off when he looked at her closed eyes. Without opening her eyes, she gave him a completely innocent smile.
The sternness immediately vanished from his face and an exhausted sigh left his mouth.
Without saying another word, he resumed eating. He ate more slowly this time.
After a while, he finished everything on the tray.
“Are there seconds?”
“Sorry, but no.”
Klausl took the tray he held out and simply smiled.
“You are entirely different from what Fir and the others said about you.”
“What did she tell you?”
“I only asked what you had done, but based on that, I thought you would be a scary person. I heard you singlehandedly destroyed a mafia group two years ago and-…”
“Don’t talk about that.”
He cut off her words, but her smile did not waver.
She did not seem remotely frightened. In fact, she almost looked relieved.
He glanced over at her and felt uncomfortable.
“Oh, you still eating?”
Amon and Klausl turned toward the casual voice and found Fir standing in the nap room’s entrance.
Amon snapped at her before she could say anything.
“Fir, what’s this about you telling her all sorts of things about me?”
“I only told her the truth. She could find it all for herself if she checked the Yard’s files.”
Fir did not sound remotely bothered by what she had done and she turned toward Klausl before continuing.
“What surprises me is that you came here on your own, Klau. Not many people would want to bring Amon food on their own after hearing what he’s done.”
“I thought it would be okay. I really did.”
Hearing that, Amon clicked his tongue, shook his head in annoyance, and faced Fir.
“So why are you here? Did you bring me dessert?”
“Oh?” said Klausl. “But your breakfast had an orange with it.”
“I wasn’t serious!”
He shouted angrily back at her, but caught himself and applied Verbal Self Control. Meanwhile, he heard Fir trying to suppress laughter.
“Looks like things aren’t going your way, Amon. But that’s not surprising. Klau’s the one person in the Yard who can actually hold a proper conversation with the Inspector.”
“The Inspector, huh? We’re really digging up my past today, aren’t we?”
He took a breath.
“Fir, hurry up and tell me what you want. Are you detaining me? Am I being interrogated again?”
“Someone would almost think you’d had some bad experiences in the Yard.”
“Maybe that’s because I have.”
“Hmm. Then do you not want to see what I’m holding here?”
He looked at her outstretched hand and Overrode a piece of paper there.
“We’re doing a word investigation of Old Jon’s shop, so we don’t want you going in there until the results are in. This tells you where to find the apartment the Yard’s prepared for you. Look.”
The paper contained a simple map, a room number, and some other information.
…I’m supposed to live there?
He Opened his doubt and Fir laughed.
“Don’t worry. It’s a normal apartment and it’s not too far from the shop,” she explained. “Well, that should settle it. And I was the one to find the room, so you’d better not complain.”
It was extremely rare to see the sunset in London. The city was so constantly covered in fog that it was known as the City of Fog.
However, that meant it would sink gently into the depths of the night. There was no dramatic change in color as it naturally filled with darkness and the countless gas lights almost looked like will-o’-the-wisps.
The Savoy Hotel was located along the Thames which flowed through the center of London. The rooms on the hotel’s top floor gave an excellent view of the city as it filled with life.
Valeath was watching the foggy city from one of those windows.
The inside of the window perfectly reflected him and the room behind him.
It was a large room. London hotels liked to preserve the ambiance of the city, but this one had bright electric lights installed. This was one of England’s top hotels and it seemed to target even the rarest sort of guests. After all, electric lights produced human-made light.
The window’s reflection showed Moyla standing a short distance away in that light.
Somewhere in the distance, a bell rang and lonely-sounding pipe organ music accompanied it. That was the hourly signal from Westminster Cathedral.
Just as the bell finished its six rings and the music stopped, the large door reflected in the window opened.
Ralf stepped inside.
He still wore his modified minister’s outfit and he spoke cheerfully.
“I’d always heard British food was bad, but that was surprisingly good. The roast beef at this place’s restaurant was especially great.”
At that point, he realized the room’s atmosphere was far from cheerful, so he adjusted his sunglasses.
“Valeath, what did you want to discuss in today’s meeting?”
Valeath kept his arms crossed and spoke quietly.
“We will finish this in three days’ time.”
“Of course,” answered Ralf.
He sighed and Overrode himself. Unlike when he had entered the room, he was giving the same smile as when he had shot Gloss.
“Based on that Hard Wolf from last night, the monsters here won’t be a problem. I suppose three days should be enough to gather the necessary number of voices.”
“But Master Valeath, if we rush this too much, we might make a mistake somewhere.”
That calm comment came from Moyla who pulled her shawl tight as if she were cold. Her face looked somewhat pale in the window’s reflection.
“We were given a month for this, so there is no need to hurry.”
Valeath said nothing to her, so Ralf did instead.
“Don’t worry, Moyla. Valeath and I are more than enough for this. You can focus on resting. After all, London’s fog is not just fog. It’s nasty stuff called smog.”
In the reflection, Moyla looked at Valeath. She clearly wanted to say something as her eyes overlapped with the city of London.
However, Valeath did not respond to that look. He simply turned around slowly.
“In three days, we will set up the Babel Cannon in the place we have prepared. We will gather the voices of 121 Arche races by then. Do you understand, Ralf?”
“I do.” Ralf smiled. “But what are you going to have Moyla do?”
Moyla answered that question without even a moment’s delay.
“I will protect Master Valeath. That is my job.”
She was clearly in a hurry to speak and Ralf looked quite disappointed to hear it.
“Why do you have to say it yourself?”
After a complicated sigh, he turned his back on Valeath and purposefully let his military boots sound on the floor.
“Valeath, let me tell you something interesting. The Hard Wolf you supposedly eliminated last night actually managed to survive for a bit longer.”
There was a hint of testing in his voice and he seemed to be saying this was worth showing some interest in.
That must have caught Valeath’s attention because he glanced toward the other man.
Expecting the glance, Ralf turned around in front of the door with his usual smile.
“Because you didn’t wait until he Ashed, it’s become a bit of an incident in the city. And…that Hard Wolf had adopted a strange young man. He’s a demon, but he has no wings.”
“Is there some problem related to that young man?”
“Who knows. You can check on that for yourself. I figured you would be the best judge of whether he had sworn revenge over the death of his adoptive father. Also…please remember one thing.”
Ralf placed a hand on the door as he spoke.
“It may be Moyla’s job to serve you, but she isn’t your property.”
Valeath said nothing.
Neither did Moyla. She simply hung her head.
Ralf opened his mouth again when he saw that, but he stopped himself. Instead, he opened the door and left.
Moyla briefly looked out the open door and then turned to Valeath.
“Master Valeath, are you angry?”
“He made it sound like I…”
She trailed off.
On the other hand, Valeath’s words were calm and strong.
“Unlike you or Ralf, I have almost no emotions thanks to the Over Contract.”
The bandaged hand sticking out of his coat’s sleeve had a circular emblem drawn on it.
“When a human uses a demon’s spells, darkness fills their soul.”
That wore away at their emotions and humanity. When someone like that died, there was no escaping hell.
Moyla looked at the back of Valeath’s hand.
“If this mission succeeds, I hope you can meet Lady Melda in heaven.”
“Do not mention that.”
For once, Valeath actually interfered in what someone said.
He gently shook his head.
“She is not for you to think about. We simply need to gather voices and use the Babel Cannon…”
He took a breath and said something absurd.
“To drop heaven down on London.”
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