Chapter 18: Raven
“What? It was fine when I went there yesterday…” Kate answered in disbelief.
“Yesterday?” Nana sat on the stone steps on the flower bed, her legs dangling to and fro. “Did you go after Miss Elizabeth?”
The black cat, Kate, nodded her head carelessly, as she paid more attention to the contamination in the fountain. “I have to tell Kan Chen about this…”
“He doesn’t know?’ Nana raised her head in hindsight. “Speaking of which, I haven’t seen any ravens today.”
Before, there would always be a flock of ravens wandering the sky. Nothing in the manor ever escaped Kan Chen’s eyes, so Nana believed that the owner of the manor was already aware of the situation.
“Uh…” The corner of Kate’s eye twitched. She knew where the ravens went. “He’s busy playing with his pet. He probably forgot about taking care of the manor.”
“Pet?” Nana became interested. “What kind of pet is it? Is it cute? Can I play with it?”
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“Rv’p jkde sq nwvl.” Iyvl vbswtbv ycswv Dky Lws’p yrrlyaydnl. Wasx y nyv’p rskdv sq hklo, vbyv psqv, obkvl, zkvvzl vos zlttle clypv oyp sjyu. “Jwv usw’e clvvla dsv ts. Iyd Ubld’p vss rspplppkhl. Tl osd’v zlv usw tlv nzspl vs bkp rlv.”
Xdzu vbld eke Iyvl alyzkgl obu pbl oyp xyezu vyatlvle cu Iyd Ubld. Pked’v pbl fwpv awc ytykdpv bkp zkvvzl rlv? Pke bl byhl vs cl ps dyaaso-xkdele?
Gqvla pbl pyanypvknyzzu vyzjle ycswv Iyd Ubld, pbl alxlxclale bla cwpkdlpp yde pyke, “R’zz ts qkapv yde vlzz Iyd Ubld ycswv kv. Nlv’p vyzj dlmv vkxl, Lydy.”
“Zsw’al zlyhkdt yzalyeu?” Lydy pktble. “Ls sdl sdl oydvp vs rzyu okvb xl. R’x ps zsdlzu.”
Fbl vbswtbv sq vbl zkvvzl rlv vbyv Iyvl xldvksdle. Fbl qlzv bla blyav kvnb wdclyayczu. Gp qsa obyv pbl oyp vsze…
Lydy pbssj bla blye. “Llhla vbswtbv vbl sodla sq vbl xydsa oswze cl ps dknl.”
Fbl sdzu xlv Iyd Ubld sdnl obld pbl ldvlale vbl xydsa. Mbswtb bl zssjle y ckv ekpvydv yde yzssq, bl oyp ynvwyzzu y tldvzl rlapsd. Ebld pbl tsv zspv sdnl kd vbl xydsa, bl pldv sdl sq bkp ayhldp vs pbso bla vbl oyu.
Gqvla blpkvyvkdt qsa y obkzl, pbl xyel y elnkpksd. “R’zz ts rzyu okvb vbl rlv!”
She really didn’t want to be alone any longer.
The little girl jumped down the stone steps and ran away.
In the living room, Kan Chen suddenly received a message from Kate. He immediately stood up and spoke to Xia Nuo, who was sitting on the sofa. “There’s a little problem in the manor. I have to go deal with it. You…”
He hesitated for a moment to speak.
Because of the crisis that happened before at the opera house, he had now realized that even some things are way beyond his control.
He didn’t want to admit that Xia Nuo could be put in danger when he’s with him.
Xia Nuo raised his hand and said, “I’ll wait for you to come back here.”
He realized the man’s dilemma and offered to stay instead. He wanted peace for now so he could think about their relationship. He’d always felt for some time now that there was some kind of wonderful chemistry between him and Kan Chen. Their relationship seemed to have silently crossed the line between friends and allies already. They were now running wildly in a direction none of them had anticipated.
Kan Chen was unaware that the young man was planning to straight out their relationship.
He thought for a moment and then a raven came out silently from his shadow. It stood at the cupboard near the door.
He pointed to it and told Xia Nuo, “This will protect you for now while I’m away.”
Xia Nuo nodded to show that he understood and whispered, “Come back early.”
He blushed in embarrassment after he spoke. He asked himself, am I being too dependent?
Kan Chen looked at him and somehow imagined him as a little wife who was reluctant to let go of his husband. He laughed and touched the boy’s head, “Alright, I’ll be back soon.”
Xia Nuo mindlessly sat on the sofa after Kan Chen left. He planned to think about his relationship with Kan Chen, but when he thought about him, the image of a man caring for him, picking roses for him and calling him ‘Nuo Nuo’ gently, appeared.
Xia Nuo’s brain was getting more confused.
Well, if I don’t understand then maybe I shouldn’t think about it for now. I should check the hints that I have.
He comforted himself this way. He took out Mother He’s cookbook that he got from the kitchen and began to read it.
Instead of focusing on the steps on how to prepare those delicious dishes written inside, he focused on the small, random scribbles written at the side of the pages.
The owner of the cookbook was a single mother. Her husband died long ago. She raised her daughter all by herself. Her daughter, He Lily, grew up clever and sensible. It was just a pity that she was born with a cleft lip. Mother He’s purpose for entering the manor was to save up money for her daughter’s surgery.
The work in the manor was good. Her family’s life gradually became better. Mother He also met a good man, got married to him and got pregnant.
Probably immersed in the new page of her life, Mother He started to write less about her daughter in her scribbles. She talked more about her new husband and their unborn child, describing their future life.
The middle pages were blank and it was unknown what happened next. Xia Nuo turned over more than 30 pages before he found another scribble on the back page.
There wasn’t anything written about his husband and their child. She didn’t mention her daughter as well. She only wrote, ‘I feel sorry for that child.’
That was the end of it.
After reading, Xia Nuo felt like he didn’t find anything useful, but he had a hunch.
Which child was she referring to? Her daughter? Her unborn child? Or…
Xia Nuo suddenly thought of Little Luo’er.
She’s not referring to him, right?
Though it was just a passing thought, Xia Nuo thought that it could be a possibility.
Mother He had been a cook in the manor for a long time, so she probably knew some secrets. Little Luo’er’s strange and miserable life could be one of them.
The reason why Xia Nuo came to this conclusion was because the game categorized it together with the photo he found and put it under a special mission.
Xia Nuo: Thank you for the hint, dear System.
At least for now, he realized that Little Luo’er could be an important part of a special mission. He needed to find Little Luo’er in order to solve the puzzle of the manor.
“Hi! Hello!” A childish voice suddenly interrupted his thoughts.
Xia Nuo turned his head and was surprised to see a little girl wearing a white dress. She was standing in the doorway of the living room.
At that moment, the raven, who was standing quietly on the cupboard, raised its head, its scarlet eyes staring without blinking at the two below.
“Hello,” Xia Nuo greeted back. “Are you here to see Mr. Kan Chen… Kan Chen?”
He remembered his promise to the man to change the way he called him.
“No. I’m here to play with you.” Nana put her hands behind her back and looked at him. She said, “Kate’s right. You’re so cute. No wonder, brother Kan Chen likes you so much.”
The young man was good-looking, and his facial features looked gentle and delicate. He looked very friendly. Nana thought that she made the right decision to go here when she finally saw him.
I want to play with this small big brother! She thought happily, but she also thought that it was strange. He was obviously a human being. So why did Kate say that he was Kan Chen’s pet?
She thought to herself. She didn’t even notice the impact of the words she said to Xia Nuo.
“Like… Like me?” Xia Nuo questioned whether he heard her wrong or not.
His beautiful face became red and he stammered. “R-Really?”
“Really. Nana won’t lie.”
The heat on Xia Nuo’s cheeks slowly dropped. The innocent tone from the little girl’s voice made him realize something: A child this young probably won’t know the meaning of the word ‘like’. The ‘like’ that she said could perhaps be compared to liking toys and beautiful clothes. I overreacted.
When he finally calmed down, he recalled the little girl’s words and asked, “We don’t know each other, right? Why did you come here for me?”
“Don’t we know each other now?” The little girl smiled. “My name is Nana. You?”
“My name is Xia-”
“Yah—” The raven’s cry stopped Xia Nuo’s introduction.
Xia Nuo suddenly remembered the system’s reminder. This little girl in front of her was probably an NPC. When he realized that he could not tell her his real name, he changed what he was about to say.
“My name is Xia Chang An.”
“Huh?” Nana frowned and stomped her foot. “Xia? I hate that last name.”
She remembered that her enemy’s name was Xia. Why did this friendly brother have Xia as his surname as well?
But Nana did not think of connecting the two people together and instead, she rushed forward and took Xia Nuo’s hand.
“Brother Chang An, let’s go out and play!”
The little girl was small but she was strong. Xia Nuo staggered when she pulled him. He quickly refused, “I can’t. I promised Kan Chen that I would wait for him here to come back.”
Nana rolled her eyes but quickly came up with an idea.
“I know where brother Kan Chen is. Should we go there and find him?”
“Eh? I don’t think that’s a good idea. I promised him.”
“Why not? Brother Kan Chen, can we go to you?” The little girl asked the raven at the cupboard.
“Nana, why are you talking to that bird? And…”
—And why did you call it Kan Chen?
Xia Nuo’s heart suddenly felt a sense of foreboding.
He felt his shoulders shrink as soon as he asked. After flying around the living room, the bird folded back its wings and landed on his shoulder.
“Brother Kan Chen can hear what we tell the raven.” Nana wondered why this small little brother knew nothing about it. Didn’t Kate say that he was brother Kan Chen’s pet?
She explained, “Ravens are brother Kan Chen’s incarnations, right?”
Xia Nuo froze. Only after a moment did he answer, “Ravens?”
His mind went blank. He frantically remembered the beginning of the book, ‘The Raven Manor House’.
“The front door of the banquet hall suddenly opened with a bang. People who were dancing and singing immediately stopped, and everyone looked at the front door. A man covered in flames stood at the door as a large number of ominous ravens circled over his head. The crowd went silent for a moment, until a sudden scream shrieked out–”
“Ravens?” He repeated the word again in disbelief.
His heart had been vaguely aware of something but he could not emotionally accept it.
Once he realized that something was wrong, all the things that he had overlooked before came back to his mind—the reason why the man knew so much about the manor, why he could communicate with animals, why he was so familiar with all the NPCs in the manor—everything had been answered.
The raven stood silently on his left shoulder. Xia Nuo remembered the flock of ravens that sprang up when he was held hostage by the puppet.
All of the ravens must have been there that time, right? It was so obvious because the ravens’ cry was so unique. Why didn’t I recognize it at that time?
Nana looked at him blankly. She wondered why the expression on the small big brother’s face had become complicated. He looked annoyed, frustrated and sad.
She couldn’t help but ask with concern, “What’s wrong?”
After a moment of silence, he spoke.
“Nothing. Take me to Kan Chen.” Xia Nuo said slowly and firmly.
He was going to ask him.
The author has something to say:
Strong Nana: Did I do something?