Lord of Mysteries 2: Circle of Inevitability-Chapter 156 - Landlord
Louis carried on, “I’ll arrange for someone to bring those three items to Auberge du Coq Doré later.”
“And the cost?” Lumian was prepared to offer Louis an extra reward for his diligence.
Louis merely shook his head.
“The baron says you needn’t worry about the payment. He believes your strength building equates to our Savoie Mob’s strengthening.”
Even without Baron Brignais spelling it out, Louis deduced his ploy of roping Lumian in. In any case, the cost was under 10 verl d’or.
So according to the baron’s logic, I can have him refund the materials I require to progress to Pyromaniac? Lumian mused with a hint of sarcasm.
Louis was taking a sip from his pomegranate soda when a group sauntered into the Salle de Bal Brise.
The group’s leader was strikingly tall, towering over 1.9 meters. His light-yellow hair, short and plush, clung to his scalp akin to high-grade velvet.
He had a huge nose, light-blue eyes, and a roughly textured face. He was dressed in a figure-hugging black suit, topped off with a wide-brimmed round hat.
Louis’s features tightened, he carefully placed down the soda bottle, turning to Lumian, “I need to attend to the baron.”
Just then, the beefy man in his early thirties walked a crew that had the air of gangsters about them towards the café’s staircase.
“Who’s he?” Lumian questioned, unable to hide his curiosity.
Louis rose, offhandedly answering, “That’s ‘Giant’ Simon, runs the dance halls on Rue du Rossignol.”
“Isn’t he a part of our Savoie Mob as well?” Lumian probed further.
Louis nodded. “True, but he’s not on good terms with the baron. He’s always arguing that the baron, since he oversees the loan-sharking, ought to relinquish control of the Salle de Bal Brise.
“I’m heading up; need to see what he’s here for.”
Louis had barely taken two steps when he noticed Lumian, still planted at the bar counter, from his peripheral vision.
He couldn’t resist an inward sigh.
He just doesn’t grasp how to seize the moment. Shouldn’t he have shown some initiative and backed me up with the baron? If ‘Giant’ Simon dares say anything unsavory, stare him down, threaten him with a gun. Only then will he start to earn the baron’s trust.
Yes, he may be ruthless, mad, and powerful, but he remains a greenhorn when it comes to these things.
Naturally, if Lumian truly wanted to accompany him to the second floor and aid Baron Brignais in maintaining appearances at the café, Louis would turn him down. After all, the baron and “Giant” Simon could potentially be discussing confidential matters concerning the Savoie Mob. It was no place for a rookie to eavesdrop.
Lumian ruminated, The Savoie Mob seems riddled with internal strife…
Suppose there’s a showdown between Baron Brignais and “Giant” Simon and one bites the dust. And then the head honcho needs a strong hand to quell the storm and take over their positions, wouldn’t I be the perfect candidate? When that time comes, as long as I pass muster, I’ll have fulfilled Mr. K’s mission.
Now the trick is to pit Baron Brignais and “Giant” Simon against each other without arousing suspicion…
Lost in his strategic contemplation, Lumian requested a glass of absinthe.
Before he could savor the last of the enigmatic emerald elixir, he spotted “Giant” Simon emerging from the staircase, henchmen in tow, a thunderous expression on his face.
Well, he doesn’t seem pleased… Lumian noted, retracting his gaze.
He wasn’t rushing to translate his thoughts into action; he was still woefully short on the ins and outs of the Savoie Mob.
Later that evening, on his return to Auberge du Coq Doré, Madame Fels, seated at the reception desk, rose and informed him, “Monsieur Ive has arrived. He’s waiting for you in the first-floor dining room, by the window.”
Not bad. He came quite quickly… Lumian nodded approvingly, making his way to the small dining room opposite the lobby.
Monsieur Ive had heard tell of Ciel’s eccentric yet stylish hair. On seeing him step into the dining room, he rose, all smiles.
“Monsieur Ciel, right this way.”
He was a man on the cusp of his fifties. His blonde hair, streaked with silver, was neatly arranged. He sported a faded dark suit with a pair of chestnut tweed trousers. His eyes were a bright blue, and he bore a thin beard.
Lumian glanced at the cane resting against the dining table, then approached, a congenial smile playing on his lips.
“Good evening, Monsieur Ive.”
Once both men were seated, Ive beckoned the waiter to begin serving.
“My apologies for the delay in visiting, I’ve been swamped recently,” Ive expressed remorsefully.
His accent distinctly belonged to the Trier region.
Feigning ignorance, Lumian questioned, “Do you own more than one motel?”
Otherwise, what’s kept him so busy?
Ive was taken aback. He hadn’t anticipated that Lumian would take his polite remark literally.
He stammered, “There are… some other affairs, but they’re neither here nor there.”
As their conversation flowed, the waiter brought in the evening meal, a serving each.
Bean soup, pork sausage, Feynapotter rice, and a sauce that occupied a fifth of the plate.
“This is their signature meat sauce,” Ive informed, bubbling with enthusiasm.
Is that all? Lumian’s perception of the landlord’s miserliness took a new dimension.
It didn’t overly concern him, though. He dug into the Feynapotter rice, smothered in the mildly meaty sauce, laced with pepper and vinegar.
After consuming his meal for about a minute, Lumian looked up, addressing Monsieur Ive with a wry smile, “With your penny-pinching tendencies, why provide each room with sulfur?”
He purposely avoided the softer term “frugal,” his tone saturated with sarcasm.
Monsieur Ive’s face clouded over, evidently displeased.
He kept his emotions in check, forcing a strained smile.
“The motel is riddled with bedbugs. Nobody would stay here without the sulfur we provide.”
Really? As long as the price is low enough, those hard up for cash won’t fuss about a few bedbugs… Lumian casually sectioned off a piece of sausage, taking a bite.
After mulling it over a bit, he suggested, “Why not employ a couple of regular cleaners for daily cleaning? That could effectively cut down on the bedbugs.”
“Two full-time cleaners would set me back 130 to 150 verl d’or a month, while a thorough cleaning once a week only costs 18 verl d’or,” Monsieur Ive protested, visibly pained at the prospect.
Lumian simply smiled.
“I meant, why don’t you do the cleaning yourself, get your kids to help?”
That would shave off 18 verl d’or from his weekly expenses.
Monsieur Ive appeared to mull over the proposal, seeming to see the merit in it.
However, after a reflective pause, he sighed and said, “Sadly, we’re otherwise occupied.”
Doing what? Lumian didn’t push for an answer.
He had already established that Ive was nothing short of a tightwad.
Monsieur Ive studied Lumian, hesitating before he offered, “I used to hand Margot 20 verl d’or weekly. Which day would you prefer?”
“No need to hand it over to me. Invest in an additional thorough cleaning each week.”
Monsieur Ive was somewhat surprised but raised no objections. After all, the cleaning service cost only 18 verl d’or, and if contracted for twice a week, he could haggle for a better rate.
Having polished off his plate, Lumian queried,
“Do you happen to know what happened to the tenant from 504?”
He was speaking of the man who’d plastered Susanna Mattise’s portrait in Charlie’s room, a frequent face on Rue de la Muraille, Rue de Breda, and Rue du Rossignol, who had since moved on.
Lumian had sought this information from Madame Fels earlier, but she’d offered no insight. As far as she was concerned, her interest in tenants ceased as soon as they paid their rent and didn’t damage anything.
Monsieur Ive appeared taken aback, glancing at the leftovers on his plate before replying,
“I’m not sure who you mean. I don’t often visit the motel. I’m unaware of who’s occupying which rooms.”
That response… Smacks of guilt… Lumian’s eyebrows twitched slightly, but he didn’t push the issue. He watched as Monsieur Ive tidied up his plate, not a morsel of rice or a trace of sauce left behind.
After Monsieur Ive had taken his leave, Lumian emerged from the motel some 20 seconds later, tailing the landlord from a safe distance.
He tracked Monsieur Ive to a beige, six-story apartment block situated in the heart of Avenue du Marché.
From what he’d gathered from Madame Fels’s usual chitchat, this was most likely Monsieur Ive’s residence. f𝘳𝒆𝑒𝓌𝒆𝗯n𝗼𝘷ℯl. 𝑐𝚘𝘮
Lumian didn’t rush to make a “house call”. There were certain activities best carried out under the cloak of night. Moreover, he wasn’t entirely sure whether the official Beyonders were still probing into Susanna Mattise’s affairs or hoping to find any leads through Monsieur Ive. An accidental encounter could be rather awkward.
If it came to that, Lumian would have to make himself scarce promptly.
Under the warm glow of the streetlamps, he circled Monsieur Ive’s apartment, taking in his surroundings.
What struck Lumian most was the three-story, brick-red edifice diagonally across from the apartment on the opposite side of Avenue du Marché.
The foyer, propped up by pillars, bore a sign overhead: “Théatre de l’Ancienne Cage à Pigeons.”
People streamed in continuously. Every now and then, bursts of applause and strains of music floated out, creating a lively atmosphere.
Lumian knew that this was a theater catering to common folk with its affordable ticket prices, holding a monopoly in Le Marché du Quartier du Gentleman.
An ideal spot for evading pursuit… Lumian was reminded of theater-related incidents from various novels. Grinning, he crossed the street and entered the foyer of the Théatre de l’Ancienne Cage à Pigeons.
Posters advertising current and upcoming plays, as well as a few past classics, adorned the walls.
As Lumian considered how best to exploit the theater, he stood there, earnestly examining the photographs, sketches, and captions.
Suddenly, a familiar face caught his eye on a poster tucked away in a corner.
Playing an extra in the background, a man with a shock of starkly blond hair, blue eyes, and a wispy beard was featured. It was none other than Monsieur Ive, the man he’d been tailing!