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Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations

Editor: GaeaTiamat

It was late in the day, the time of the early lights. The rain had stopped, and the water on the stone pavement reflected the bright street lamps.

There were a few pubs and restaurants on Silver Road that were still open, but business was slow. The Aberdeen serial murders had made the night extremely dangerous, and many people rushed home as soon as it got dark; they didn’t want to walk at night unless they were bold or had to go out at night for of work.

Duan FeiZhou asked a tavern employee about the location of the coffin shop. The employee frowned, made an exorcism gesture, and pointed to the other side of the street. He walked a few dozen meters further and finally saw the sign for the coffin shop – the sign was in the shape of a coffin, and hung high above the street.

Duan FeiZhou knocked on the door with a sense of hope. If no one answered the door, he would come back tomorrow. To his surprise, the small window on the door used as a cat’s eye opened shortly after, revealing a pair of green eyes, reminiscent of a cat.

“Buying a coffin?” The owner of the green eyes asked.

“I’m sorry to bother you so late.” Duan FeiZhou said, “I heard there is a skilled restorer here. I have a friend who passed away and would like to ask this restorer to turn her…back to her original form.” To add credibility, he added, “The priest at St. Andrew’s referred me.”

The small window in the door closed, and Duan FeiZhou, who thought the shop was closed at this hour and had already made plans to visit tomorrow, was surprised when the door opened  immediately.

The person who opened the door was a young man with auburn hair and green eyes, who looked a few years younger than Duan FeiZhou, but thin and malnourished. He didn’t know if he was born sick and weak, or the coffin shop business was so bad that he couldn’t even afford to eat.

Duan FeiZhou looked behind the young man. The shop was lit with kerosene lamps, and many coffins were stacked on one side of the shop, and cut boards were stacked on the other. The fresh scent of wood came to the nostrils.

“I am the restorer.” The young man said, “My name is Duncan McKellen.”

Duan FeiZhou shook his hand. “Leo Chester,” he said. “Are you open this late?”

Duncan laughed derisively. “Don’t most people die at night?”

Good point, Duan FeiZhou thought to himself.

“So the restoration of the body–”

“Just so you know,” Duncan interrupted. “I’m a professional and I charge a lot of money. The worse the damage, the more expensive it is. But you get what you pay for. So long as you can afford it, I guarantee that the deceased will look exactly as they did before they died.” There was a hint of pride in his tone.

“I can afford it.” Duan FeiZhou said confidently. “But there’s one thing I need to make clear first. The deceased was the victim of a recent serial murderer. The remains look extremely…gruesome. The funeral will be held the day after tomorrow–”

“I understand.” Duncan interrupted him quickly. “I’ve read the papers and know what they look like. Ten pounds if you want them fixed up like new. Half the deposit up front.”

It was a sum Duan FeiZhou could easily afford. He fished out his wallet and counted out enough gold coins to pay Duncan.

Duncan was surprised to see that he was so quick, and didn’t even try to bargain the price. He picked up a gold coin and took a bite, held it to the light to see the teeth marks, to be sure that it was real gold.

“The funeral will be held the day after tomorrow.” Duan FeiZhou said again. “Is it enough time?”

“Of course. One day is enough time.” Duncan replied confidently. “St. Andrew’s Church, right?”

“Yes. The deceased’s name is Ruth Roberts.”

“Then it’s a deal.” Duncan spat on his hand and offered it to Duan FeiZhou. By shaking hands like that, they were making a deal. Although it was a little unhygienic, Duan FeiZhou went along with the custom.

After he left the coffin shop, Duan FeiZhou finally remembered that he was to meet up with Z.

Duan FeiZhou was supposed to meet Z right after he visited Ruth’s house, but he went to the church first and was further delayed by finding the restorer, so Z must have been waiting for him. Duan FeiZhou tried to hail a carriage to the police station, but there was no one on the road. The carriage drivers would rather make less money and avoid the dangerous night. God only knew if they would become the next victim of the serial killer.

Duan FeiZhou couldn’t complain about the drivers’ desire to survive, so he walked to the police station. The night was very dark, the air filled with a faint night fog, and the streetlights turned into glowing orange balls of lights.

Before he reached the police station, it started raining again. Duan FeiZhou cursed. He had everything with him when he left home, but he forgot to bring his umbrella. Next time, he should really remind Al. He started jogging, as he splashed water all the way. It was such a dark night, and such a silent street, it felt like a murder was about to happen.

He ran faster and faster, so by the time he reached the entrance to the police station, he was already panting.

Z stood alone with his umbrella under the street light in front of the police station, his silver hair swaying slightly in the wind. He wore only his shirt and vest, and looked a little thin in the rainy night air. A bulging file bag was under his arm, and a cigarette was in his mouth. The light from it was bright in the darkness.

When he heard the sound of Duan FeiZhou splashing water, he spat out his half-smoked cigarette and stamped it out with one foot as if nothing had happened.

“If you didn’t come soon, I was going to call the police.” Z pointed to the police station behind him. His expression was extra serious when he was joking.

Duan FeiZhou was a little bit sorry. “My apologies for keeping you waiting. How was the police station?”

Z handed him the file bag, “They were cooperative. They gave me a general description of the case and a detailed file.”

Duan FeiZhou took the heavy bag, and Z moved the umbrella over his head, “Let’s find a hotel to stay in.”

“Yeah.” Duan FeiZhou nodded and followed Z. He was afraid that Z would get wet instead of taking care of himself, so he leaned over towards him and huddled under the umbrella.

Z turned his head oddly in his direction, then lifted his umbrella arm and poked him in the ribs with his elbow. Duan FeiZhou looked at him uncertainly. Z grabbed his hand and put it on his arm.

So that’s what he meant.

Duan FeiZhou held his mechanical prosthetic arm tightly, so the two were closer together. For some reason, he felt his ears start to burn again.

The two of them walked for a while without words, then Z asked coldly, “I thought you were just going to visit the family of the deceased. What took you so long?”

“…After I visited them, I went to the church to see Ruth’s body.”

Z frowned slightly.

However, Duan FeiZhou was busy saying, “But I didn’t come away with nothing. I examined the remains and found human bite marks on them. Maybe that last one was the same as you speculated, and the killer was an occult practitioner of the Scarlet Feast, killing to satisfy his hunger – like Jack the Ripper.”

“It took that long just to look at the remains?” Z’s tone was somewhat histrionic.

“Uh, I went to see a posthumous restorer afterwards and asked him to restore Ruth’s remains.”

Z pursed his lips. “You were so kind to that young lady. Even the funeral is underwritten.”

“You mean Ruth?” said Duan FeiZhou. “You didn’t see her body. It was so horrible. I couldn’t do anything for her, but at least I wanted to let her go beautifully, and that way her parents won’t be so sad.”

“You and her…” Z wanted to say something, but then stopped.

Duan FeiZhou froze for a moment, and then understood what Z meant. His face instantly turned red. “We were not in that kind of relationship!” he stammered. “Ruth always took care of me when I lived on Mire Street. She was like a sister to me…”

“I remember you once tried to buy that person a necklace.”

It took Duan FeiZhou half a day to remember which incident Z was referring to. It was the day he went to the Lynns’ house for dinner. He’d lied about buying the same necklace for Ruth in order to get the origin of the pearl necklace out of Mrs. Lynn’s mouth. He hadn’t even remembered that. Why did Z have such a good memory?

“Uh, actually that was something I wanted to buy myself. However, it was too bizarre for a man to buy a pearl necklace, so I had to lie and say I was buying it for Ruth.”

In order to cover up the previous lie, he had to tell another lie.

Z’s expression was instantly much more relaxed. He switched the umbrella to his outer hand, wrapped his free hand around Duan FeiZhou’s shoulders, and pressed him into his arms with an almost rough force.

“Come closer to me.” Z said faintly. “Don’t get wet.”

I really can’t get any closer to you, Duan FeiZhou thought.

But he arched into Z’s arms anyway.

They found a hotel not too far from the police station and Mire Street. Both to keep in touch with Aberdeen police, and for Duan FeiZhou to visit Ruth’s family.

When the hotel owner heard that Z was a police officer from London, he was very respectful. They had arrived at the hotel after dinner time, but the owner stoked a stove and made a stew for them.

The hotel was much better than the inn in that small village in Shropshire, and even had electric lights. Thanks to that, Duan FeiZhou was able to stay up all night reading the files given to them by the Aberdeen police. He and Z shared a room (the hotel had standard rooms!), so while he was reading the file, Z was lying on the bed with his eyes closed.

It was too difficult to concentrate on the file under these circumstances. Every few lines he read, his eyes drifted to Z’s side and then rushed back to the file.

Duan FeiZhou, ah Duan FeiZhou, what the hell are you doing? The spirit of Ruth in heaven would like to punch you in the head!

He forced himself to stop looking at Z, and put all his thoughts on the file.

Aberdeen police records were very informative, from autopsy reports to witness statements, they showed that the Aberdeen police had really worked hard to catch this murderer.

Although the killer was nicknamed Jack the Ripper of the North, Duan FeiZhou found that he acted very differently from the Jack of London. The most striking difference was the choice of victims.

All of Jack the Ripper’s victims were prostitutes from the Whitechapel area. But the victims of the Aberdeen serial murders were of different genders, ages, and occupations. The first victim was found on the morning of April 18. He was a hired carriage driver who worked the night shift that day. His time of death was late on the night of April 17 to the early morning of April 18.

Police believe he was driving his carriage through an upscale neighborhood when he got off of his cab and relieved himself by a roadside sewer because he was in a hurry. The killer attacked him from behind at that moment. The whole process didn’t make a single sound.

It wasn’t until early morning that his body was discovered by early risers. The Aberdeen police took the case very seriously from the beginning because of the high class people living around the crime site and the brutality of the murder itself.

The second victim was killed on April 21. She was a laundress who did laundry for clients. She usually went to clients’ homes in the late afternoon to pick up their dirty clothes and wash them the next day. On the night of the murder, she went to pick up the laundry from a noblewoman’s house as usual, but was killed halfway.

The third case occurred a week later, on April 28. The deceased was a factory worker, tall and strong. He had just finished his night shift in the early hours of that morning and was on his way home when he was killed. As the priest said, it wouldn’t be easy to subdue such a large man. Therefore, the police judged that the murderer would be a robust male, and basically ruled out the possibility of a female.

The fourth case occurred on May 2. The deceased was a senior grammar school 1 teacher. His wife went into labor that day, so he took time off after teaching to go home to be with her. Who knew that he would never return home. Since this teacher was very well respected, it was sad that his child was born without a father. With the media pushing the issue, the citizens of Aberdeen were outraged and put a lot of pressure on the police.

The police were also in a state of distress. Aberdeen was one of the largest cities in the north, with air and sea ports, not to mention workers, operating around the clock, which made a curfew almost impossible.

The fifth case occurred on May 5, and the victim…She was working as a nurse in Dr. Stone’s clinic on the night shift. (According to a letter Ruth sent to Duan FeiZhou, she was primarily caring for Dr. Stone’s son.) That night, she left home to go to work at the clinic but never arrived at the clinic.

“See anything yet?” Z asked, from where he lay in bed.

Duan FeiZhou snapped out of his tumultuous thoughts, and shook his head. “The five victims have nothing in common. I was thinking – what criteria did the killer use to select his prey? The London Jack the Ripper chose prostitutes as his target, but the Aberdeen victims all had different occupations, genders, and ages. Was it just random selection?”

“If the killer was the last member of the Scarlet Feast,” Z said. “He might have continued the Scarlet Feast practice, which was to devour those who were gifted with strange abilities.”

“I don’t think Ruth had any special powers.” Duan FeiZhou said. “I knew her and her family for as long as I lived here, and she and her family have never shown any skills out of the ordinary. Maybe the Aberdeen murderer just couldn’t repress his desire to eat people, so he attacked ordinary people.”

Z then asked, “Is there any social connection between the dead?”

Duan FeiZhou flipped through the file in his hand. “No. The police investigation was very detailed. The five victims didn’t know each other at all. Carriage driver, laundry woman, worker, teacher, nurse…That’s a lot of people from all walks of life.”

Z mused, “If they knew each other, it could be a common enemy. By checking the social connections, we can pinpoint the killer. But if the killer picked the target at random…”

Duan FeiZhou stared at the file, and rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Is it possible that it is an ABC murder case?”

“What’s an ABC murder?” Z was surprised.

Duan FeiZhou’s heart gave a thud. He almost forgot. It was now 1893! Agatha Christie’s immortal masterpiece The A.B.C. Murders had not yet been released! 2 Even Agatha herself was only three years old this year!

“Uh, it’s a detective novel I read once upon a time,” Duan FeiZhou said vaguely.

“A detective novel like the Sherlock Holmes series?”

“The murderer in the book killed three people in a row with names beginning with A in place A, B in place B, and C in place C. After the police discovered this pattern, it was logical to assume that the killer’s next target would be the person whose name begins with D in place D.”

“But that wasn’t the killer’s target?” Z quickly sensed something fishy.

“That’s right. The killer’s real target was actually one of the ABCs. He knew that if he killed only that one person, he would be immediately suspected by the police. So he killed two additional people to make the police think that the murder was committed by a serial killer, thus eliminating suspicions against him.”

“You mean that this murderer in Aberdeen actually wanted to kill only one of the five victims, but killed the other four in order to eliminate suspicion?”

Duan FeiZhou smiled bitterly. “I’m just guessing. Don’t take it seriously.”

Serial killers had a lot of strange reasons for killing people, and God knew what criteria they used to select their victims. The criminal investigation methods of the era were very backward, and there was no criminal profiling technology, so solving the case would be difficult. He turned the file back over to the first page, as he intended to read it again to see if he had missed any details. He yawned and rubbed his eyes. It was now early in the morning, and tiredness was hitting him.

“Don’t read it,” Z said. “You’ve been running around all day. Aren’t you tired?”

“Now is not the time to rest,” Duan FeiZhou said. “I’ll ask the boss for a cup of coffee later.”

As soon as the words left his mouth, Z jumped out of bed and grabbed the file from his hands.

“Give it back to me!” Duan FeiZhou stood up.

Z, however, held the file up high. He was taller than Duan FeiZhou, and Duan FeiZhou couldn’t reach the file even if he jumped.

“Go rest!” Z said in a commanding tone.

“I’m fine!”

Z threw the file on the coffee table. Duan FeiZhou turned around and lunged for the coffee table, but suddenly his feet went up in the air. Z picked him up and threw him onto the bed like a sack of potatoes.

Duan FeiZhou yelled. If not for the softness of the mattress, his spine might have been cut in two.

“What are you doing?” He glared at Z in annoyance.

“Making you take a break.” Z’s blind eyes ‘glared’ at him.

“I said, I’m not tired.” Duan FeiZhou continued to protest.

“That’s an order from your boss!” Z raised his voice.

“I haven’t even officially joined Scotland Yard yet! You don’t count as my boss!” Duan FeiZhou slyly argued.

The thunder on Z’s handsome face looked like it was gathering. Duan FeiZhou knew that he had upset him again with his words, so he couldn’t help but feel a little upset himself. He said in a cajoling tone, “I…I’ll just read a little more…Just a few pages.” 

Z averted his gaze, and said coldly, “You know I can’t see, and I must rely on you for so many things. What am I going to do if you are exhausted? How am I going to solve the case?”

Duan FeiZhou froze. A lot of things relied on him? The leader of the Nightmen, the invincible Z, also needed to rely on him? Just that one sentence made his heart burst with joy. He buried his head in his knees, to hide the corners of his mouth that kept rising.

“I know,” he said in a muffled voice. “I’ll just rest.”

“That’s more like it.”

Duan FeiZhou turned his back on Z, and changed into his pajamas. He heard a rustling sound from behind him, and knew Z was doing the same thing.

The steam engine inside him began to roar wildly again, and burned his cheeks red.


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Translator Notes:

  1. (in the UK) a state secondary school to which pupils are admitted on the basis of ability. Since 1965 most have been absorbed into the comprehensive school system. (Oxford Languages)
  2. It was published in 1936.


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December 16, 2022 11:12 pm

I like the intimate moments Z and DFZ share.
Duncan seems fishy.
Thanks for translating and editing.

February 2, 2023 10:23 am

Z goes out of his way to care for DFZ. It’s sweet. And I love the way he used his blind ‘helplessness’ (as if) to get DFZ to do what he wanted. Guilt for the win!

March 4, 2023 3:57 pm

Z stating that he needs to rely on DFZ warms my heart! 🥰
Thank you for the chapter!

March 6, 2023 5:15 pm

That’s a good theory! I’m not sure if it’s true or not. Haha the sleep fighting is sweet

Thank you for the chapter!

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