Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
That night, Duan FeiZhou lay in bed, but could not sleep for a long time. He just stared out the window and listened to the sound of the rain pattering outside.
“Uh, kid,” Sword in the Stone’s voice came into his head, “I don’t know what to say. Condolences.”
Duan FeiZhou didn’t reply.
“Are you sure you want to go to Aberdeen with that Nightman? In case he finds out who you are…“
Duan FeiZhou whispered, “I’ve been with him at Perlilla Manor, and I wasn’t exposed. We just went to investigate a case. I don’t use secret techniques, so how can he see that I am an occult practitioner?”
“Alas, you never know,” Sword in the Stone said with some frustration. “Sometimes a thoughtless remark can reveal the identity of an occult practitioner. People who have studied occult philosophy see the world differently from ordinary people.”
Duan FeiZhou was silent. He had no time to think about such questions. Occult practitioners or Nightmen, was it that important? As long as the murderer could be arrested, why not cooperate with the Nightmen?
He just stared at the window until the east was white. After dawn, the rain still didn’t stop, just even fell more heavily. The clouds hung low and the sky was dark, as if the heavens were crying for the innocent.
Al came to his house early in the morning, and brought with him an all-black suit, stately in style, well-cut and made of the finest materials. It was perhaps one of the best garments in Mrs. Vilyuy’s shop.
Duan FeiZhou tried on the suit with his help, and there was not a single improper measurement. Mrs. Vilyuy was right when she said that if he was measured once in the shop, the shop would record his data forever. He suddenly remembered that he had read a passage about English tailors written by Josephine Tey. Fashions would change, dynasties would fall, and the sound of horses’ hooves in the silent streets would become the honking of millions of taxis, but Stacy and Breck’s Tailors would still be able to tailor clothes for the calm and capable gentlemen.
“Thanks, Al,” Duan FeiZhou took off the suit and let Al box it up for him. “I’ll settle the bill with your mother when I get back.”
“There’s no rush, master.” Al pouted. He was still sulking at his master’s refusal to take him with him to Aberdeen.
After a tasteless meal (it wasn’t Al’s cooking skills that were poor, it was the heavy mood of the person who was eating), Duan FeiZhou picked up his suitcase and the cloth bag containing Sword in the Stone, then headed straight for King’s Cross Station.
Through the transparent roof of the station, he could see the gloomy sky outside. The sound of the rain pounding on the glass was drowned out by the sound of the people milling about in the station.
The last time Duan FeiZhou came to King’s Cross, he came with his lawyer, Mr. Lynn. At that time, he was full of hope for his future life and curiosity about London, the capital of the world, and thought everything was so beautiful. But this time he returned to the same place to go to a funeral. He wasn’t even in the mood to go on a tour of the ‘famous station’ of the Holy Land. It was once the place where dreams began, but now it was a farewell to the past.
Duan FeiZhou easily found Z. His figure stood out from the crowd, and it was almost impossible not to notice him. He was standing on the platform, as he faced the direction of the tracks, and leaned on a black umbrella, while his suitcase rested at his feet. Many people who passed by him couldn’t help but look back at him. A few even walked into the wall because it.
Duan FeiZhou ran towards him.
“Right on time.” Z said.
The train was soon in the station. Miss Acheson had booked first class tickets for them. First class was located at the back of the train, so passengers didn’t have to be bothered by the soot coming from the locomotive.
They sat in a spacious compartment and watched the platform recede from the window. The train left King’s Cross and roared off to the north, as the rain pelted the glass and created a winding, twisted trail of water.
At first, Duan FeiZhou and Z sat in silence, elbows on the window sill, chins propped up, as their eyes stared blindly out the window, as if they were listening to the rain. If it weren’t for the awkwardness of the current atmosphere, the light beauty of listening to the rain would be picturesque.
What could he and Z talk about? The more he said, the more he’d lose. Maybe it was better if he stayed silent. But Duan FeiZhou felt he should say something.
“Yesterday,” he said, as he stared out the window at the rain-soaked fields, “What I said went too far. I’m sorry.”
Z’s crimson eyes turned to him, and his lashes flicked, “What did you say yesterday? I don’t remember.”
“It’s just that I said it’s not your…”
Duan Feizhou stopped talking. Who was Z? How could he not understand what he meant? Z said he didn’t remember. He just wanted to take this page off. No matter which pot he avoided opening, he just wouldn’t appreciate it.
“It’s nothing.” He pulled up the corner of his mouth, squeezed out a smile and changed the subject, “Speaking of which, since you caught Jack the Ripper, why didn’t you make the news public? That way London wouldn’t be on edge all the time.”
Z tilted his head slightly. His long silver-white hair slipped down his shoulders, like a swathe of moonlight spilled over his black coat. He thought for a moment and said, “There are many reasons. On the one hand, to hide the identity of Jack the Ripper as an occult practitioner, and on the other hand, to prevent spooking the snake.”
“Jack still has accomplices. If the news of Jack’s capture spreads, his accomplices may flee to another country, and then we will have difficulty in apprehending them.”
Duan FeiZhou was surprised, “I thought Jack the Ripper was a one-man operation!”
“As a killer, he is indeed a lone wolf.” Z said, “I was referring to his associates in the Secret Society.”
“A secret society? The Golden Dawn Society?” Duan FeiZhou asked.
“It’s very similar, but it’s a different occult society called Scarlet Feast.” When he mentioned the name, Z’s eyes became as cold and sharp as a frosty sword. “This order believes in a different method of practicing occult philosophy.”
Duan FeiZhou couldn’t help but be fearful.
“The book of notes for you mentions this. Remember?”
Duan FeiZhou hurriedly said yes. He himself had a psychic ability, so of course he knew it well.
“This natural psychic ability is often hereditary, passed from parents to their children. However, it is not impossible for others to obtain this supernatural ability if they want to.”
Duan FeiZhou swallowed a mouthful of saliva. He himself knew a way to give away his supernatural ability to others, “And how would one obtain it?”
Z raised the corners of his lips and smiled cruelly, “You can obtain this ability by devouring the body of a psychic.”
— True enough!
Duan FeiZhou himself ate Joseph Chester’s ashes mixed with rice to acquire that unique psychic vision ability. So if one relied on this method, was it possible to take the psychic ability of a living person?!
“Then Scarlet Feast, does that mean…” Duan FeiZhou a burst of evil chills. “Their so-called method of practicing occult philosophy is by…eating people?”
Duan FeiZhou felt like he was going to vomit.
It was disgusting enough to eat ashes with rice, but there were people who ate fresh human flesh?! Hannibal listened to all the insiders! 1
“In this era, many families of occult practitioners have declined,” Z continued. “Some people have powers, but they don’t know it at all. Scarlet Feast finds these people from the vast crowd, lures them to their sanctuary, and then convenes all members to hold a ‘banquet’. You can imagine what kind of party it is.”
Duan FeiZhou covered his mouth and tried not to throw up. The image that came to his mind was of a gilded hall with a group of Hannibals sitting around a table, laughing and talking, while a large live man was tied to the table. The Hannibals, armed with sharp knives, cut the flesh raw from the living man and, in response to the screams of the victim, devoured the human flesh…
“They relied on this method to gain many abilities, and their power is getting bigger and bigger. Five years ago, the Nightmen finally found out the location of the sanctuary of the Scarlet Feast. At a banquet where all the members of the Scarlet Feast were gathered, we launched a raid.”
Duan FeiZhou covered his chest, his face pale as he asked, “You arrested everyone?”
But Z shook his head, “When we broke in, we found them all dead.”
“Dead?” Duan FeiZhou’s jaw dropped.
“As far as we know, there are twelve members of the Scarlet Feast. When we broke into the sanctuary, we found the bodies of ten of them.” Z narrowed his eyes and tensed his body, the dark and bloody memories seemed to make him uncomfortable too, “Everyone died horribly, disemboweled and their internal organs were yanked out. The walls were splattered with blood, even the ceiling was covered in flesh, and there were a few intestines hanging from the chandelier.”
“Don’t, don’t say it!” Duan FeiZhou interrupted him. He was really going to throw up.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t expect you to have such a poor tolerance.” Z said faintly.
Duan FeiZhou plucked out a glance at him. He was blind and hadn’t witnessed the scene, how dare he say that! After the churning in his stomach calmed down a bit, Duan FeiZhou asked, “You said only ten bodies were found, but there were twelve members. What about the remaining two?”
“They were nowhere to be found.” Z said, “We suspect that there was an infighting in the Scarlet Feast, either the two missing people killed the remaining ten and escaped, or all of them fought chaotically with each other and died together, and only two of them had time to escape. In short, the Scarlet Feast had two other missing persons, and after that they became the first class wanted by the Nightmen.”
“I guess Jack the Ripper is one of the escaped fish?” Duan FeiZhou asked.
Z smiled faintly, “That’s right. The Whitechapel tragedy occurred shortly after the Scarlet Feast was overturned. Since the dead were identical to the ten Scarlet Feast victims, the Nightmen rightly suspected that Jack the Ripper was one of the two who escaped. We went to great lengths to finally catch him.”
“Why did he kill those cannibals?” Duan FeiZhou asked, “Could it be that those cannibals were gifted with extraordinary abilities?”
“No. They were all ordinary people. Jack the Ripper didn’t kill them for their abilities, but simply… In order to eat their internal organs.”
Duan FeiZhou wanted to vomit again.
“Jack the Ripper joined the Scarlet Feast for a different purpose than the others. The others were to practice the secret arts, while he was looking for an organization that would allow him to eat people openly and honestly. He was not an occult practitioner, but gained his powers from cannibalism. After the destruction of the Scarlet Feast, he gradually lost control of his ability and fell into a state of madness. He only wanted to eat people, so he committed a series of crimes.”
Duan FeiZhou clutched his shoulders. It was now May, but he felt a bone-chilling cold. He asked, “The ten people at the Scarlet Feast, he killed them too?”
Z sighed, “Jack the Ripper was insane by then. We had to use a number of tactics to get a few words out of him. He said he didn’t kill those ten people, and that he had to go through a lot of trouble to escape the clutches of the real killer.”
“Is it possible that he was lying?” Duan FeiZhou asked.
“I’m inclined to think he’s not lying. Jack the Ripper’s secret ability, I’m afraid, does not even reach the level of ‘beginner’. He had to rely on the Scarlet Feast to satisfy his cannibalistic desires. The destruction of the Scarlet Feast will not do him any good.”
“So the real killer is another fish in the net?” Duan FeiZhou pondered. He was startled and shot to his feet, “Could it be that the fish in the net, the twelfth member of the Scarlet Feast, is–“
Z pursed his lips. “Most likely it’s the serial killer who is now causing a lot of trouble in Aberdeen – Jack the Ripper of the North.”
It was no wonder that as soon as Z heard about the serial killings in Aberdeen, he subconsciously decided that the murderer was an occult practitioner. Now it finally dawned on Duan FeiZhou. The truth behind the serial murders was so horrific that he shuddered. If the murderer was the occult practitioner who escaped, his secret skills were definitely above his own. It might be difficult to deal with that guy.
Still, as long as Z was with him Duan FeiZhou had inexplicable courage. At the same time, he also felt a pang of ineffable sadness. He had thought that Z offered to go to Aberdeen to investigate the case because Z treated him not as a fellow Nightman but as a friend, and would stand up for him.
Now he realized how wrong he was. Z was going to Aberdeen to investigate the case because it might involve the occult practitioners. Z was just doing his job, and taking him to Aberdeen to attend the funeral.
His wishful thinking was ridiculous. Duan FeiZhou looked out the window at the rain again, and didn’t say a word.
Z asked out of the blue, “Are you cold?”
Duan FeiZhou was stunned, “What?”
“I heard you shivering.” Z raised his hand and touched the window, “Although it’s May, it’s been raining for several days and the temperature is very low. Are you wearing too thin of clothes?”
Duan FeiZhou wanted to say that he was shivering because he was scared by Z’s horror stories, but how could he admit that he was so timid? He said stiffly, “I…No.”
As soon as the words were out of his mouth, a black coat was placed over him.
Z took off his jacket and wore only his shirt and vest. He shifted his silver hair behind his back with a quick movement.
Duan FeiZhou was draped in that coat, and froze on the spot.
The thick wool material carried Z’s body heat, and made his own body heat up for a moment. It was as if a rumbling steam engine was burning in his chest, and he felt like his ears were about to spew steam.
“Thank you…” His face was red all the way to his ears. “But aren’t you cold?”
Z rested his cheek in his hand, his blind eyes turned to the rain outside the window. “I’m rather dull to the sensation of hot and cold.”
The white haired Nightman’s handsome face showed a wave of unrest, but still didn’t let anyone completely guess his inner thoughts.
Duan FeiZhou pulled up his collar, lowered his head, and buried his head in the collar like an ostrich burying its head in the sand.
Ah…This man…What is going on? Why was he always unconsciously doing things that make his heart flutter?