Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Dr. Stone led them toward his office. When they passed by a room, they saw that most of the beds were empty. It was clear that the clinic’s business was in decline lately. Only one room was occupied. Duan FeiZhou glanced in quickly to see a young man was lying in bed, eyes closed and asleep, while a large, lanky nurse dozed against the side of the bed.
“Emma! You’re slacking off again!” Dr. Stone said angrily.
The nurse woke up with a start, and hurriedly picked up a towel to wipe the man on the bed’s face. When Dr. Stone stared at her, she pretended to be serious, but as soon as the doctor’s eyes moved away, her movements became much more perfunctory.
“I’m sorry to make you laugh,” Dr. Stone said with a dry smile. “But that’s my family’s maid. Since my son was hospitalized, I asked her to take care of him. However, she’s too clumsy to do anything right, so I hired Ruth as extra help.”
“What serious illness did your son have?” Z asked.
Dr. Stone looked gloomy. “He liked to play on steam boats, and one day he fell off and was crippled. He’ll never be able to stand up again.”
“Would a mechanical prosthesis work?”
“He didn’t break his leg, but his spine. Alas, let’s not mention it.” Dr. Stone shook his head.
When he arrived at the office, Stone poured tea for his guests, and pulled out a plate of cookies – which Duan FeiZhou suspected might have been sitting around for a year, and looked like a match for Mrs. Lynn’s dark cuisine. He decided he would never touch them.
The office was unlike a doctor’s office, but more similar to a private study. The desk was covered with photos, large and small, of Dr. Stone and his family, including his wedding photo, his son’s graduation photo, and a single photo of his wife.
The most notable items on the shelves were several statues, either dancing men, people with elephant heads, or women stepping on men. Duan FeiZhou almost thought he was back in the Secret Trading House.
Even for Duan FeiZhou, such folk culture didn’t need much research; he could immediately see that they were rich in Indian style.
Z took a sip of tea and asked, “Can you tell us about the day Miss Ruth was killed? She was killed on her way to her night shift. You didn’t find it strange that she didn’t show up for work?”
Dr. Stone shrugged. “I thought she couldn’t take the hardships of nursing and quit. It’s common for young girls like her to run away without saying anything.”
Z asked, “And when did you learn that she’d passed away?”
Dr. Stone said, “The next day, the police came to me. They said they had found the body of a young woman. Unfortunately, her face was so badly disfigured that they couldn’t identify her, so they went door-to-door in the neighborhood. I had a bad feeling that it might be Ruth, and I told them so.”
“As far as you know, did Miss Ruth have any enemies? Or had there been anything unusual lately?” Z asked.
Dr. Stone was impatient. “I don’t know much about her personal relationships. After all, I was only responsible for paying her salary. I wasn’t her father. As for any abnormalities…well, the girl was very ordinary, and I didn’t notice anything.”
Duan FeiZhou let Z dominate the Q&A. His full attention wasn’t on Dr. Stone. The figurines were of more interest to him.
Dr. Stone noticed that he couldn’t stop staring at the shelf, and gave him a smug look. “Ah, you noticed. Rare, aren’t they? Those are souvenirs I brought back from India!”
“India?” Duan FeiZhou raised his eyebrows.
“I served in India as an army doctor when I was young. It’s a fascinating land there, except for the mosquitoes and the dodgy people who are a bit of a handful…” Dr. Stone gave him a haughty glance, as if to say, ‘Only those who have studied medicine formally can have the honor of serving their country, not a wild man like you.’
Duan FeiZhou stared unblinkingly at the Indian statues. Each of them exuded the unique glow of an occult item.
When he left the Stone Clinic, the questions inside Duan FeiZhou weren’t answered. Instead there were more than before.
The statues in Dr. Stone’s office were undoubtedly occult items. When he said he got them from India, he wasn’t lying. Those statues were Hindu gods, but their strange function was a mystery.
Did Dr. Stone know about that? He didn’t look like an occult practitioner, so was he really just keeping the statues as souvenirs?
Was it just a coincidence that there was a serial murderer in Aberdeen, that Ruth fell victim to them, and that her employer happened to have a few occult statues in his possession?
The most important question was…
Duan FeiZhou stole a glance at Z beside him out of the corner of his eye.
Should he tell Z about it? If he told him, what should he say? He couldn’t just confess that he saw the shine of occult arts on the statues, right? Then he would have to go to jail with the Aberdeen serial killer. How could he tell him what he found without arousing Z’s suspicion?
After pondering the question, Duan FeiZhou’s head felt like it was about to explode from overload. It was so hard to stay by Z’s side, and solve the case with him while concealing his identity as an occult practitioner! Why did he go down this road of no return in the first place? Simply being an occult practitioner, or simply being a Nightman. That would have been much easier than now!
He couldn’t cry. Now, he had no choice but to continue to keep his facade tightly in place.
Duan FeiZhou shook his head, and tossed those mixed thoughts out of his mind. The most important thing now was to investigate the case. His own business could be put on the back burner.
They next went to the site of several other victims. Unfortunately, as with the scene of Ruth’s death, too much time had passed for finding any clues. Duan FeiZhou was a little discouraged, but he still had at least one clue in hand – his psychic vision.
“I want to go to Aberdeen police,” he said to Z. “To see the evidence the police have collected, like the victim’s clothes or something.”
“What do you think the killer might have left on the victim’s belongings?” Z asked.
“I don’t know. We have to try.”
“Yes,” Z mused. “I just don’t know if the Aberdeen police will agree.”
“It’s up to you, the elite of Scotland Yard, to persuade them.”
Aberdeen’s police were decidedly unhappy. “Do you think we’re idiots? If the killer did leave any traces, wouldn’t we find them?”
The person in charge of the serial murder case was an old detective with white hair. He was also one of the most senior detectives in Aberdeen Police Department. After he heard Duan FeiZhou’s request, he glared at the young man in annoyance.
“Uh, just in case.” Duan FeiZhou said.
If Z’s rank wasn’t several levels higher than the old detective’s, so that even his top boss had to nod and bow when he saw Z, the old detective might have thrown them out of his office window on the spot. He muttered, unlocked a set of keys from his waist and took them to the evidence room.
This was an era before fingerprinting technology was applied to justice, so the police never considered whether handling the evidence with their bare hands would contaminate the fingerprints. All the exhibits were laid out in a row on a shelf. The old detective pointed them out, “These are all of them.”
Aberdeen police officers were still doing their job. The evidence collected from the scenes was stored in different categories, including the clothes and belongings of the deceased.
“This is the girl’s clothes.” The old detective pointed to a pile of rags. “The killer almost tore them to pieces. I don’t know what you can find out.”
The rags were stained with blood, and had turned dark brown. Duan FeiZhou unfolded the rags, and stared at the blood stains on them.
A ragged road with potholes and several broken street lights appeared before his eyes. It shone with a dull glow on a lone shadow.
It was Ruth. She crossed Mire Street and entered the narrow, dark alley. It wasn’t raining that day, so naturally the sewers weren’t backed up. At the end of the alley was a bright street lamp, and the salty sea breeze blew in her face.
Ruth was murdered there. Where exactly did the killer come from? If they came from the front, they couldn’t have been invisible to Ruth…
The next second, Ruth stopped in her tracks. She trembled and twitched, and when she lowered her head, she saw only two pale arms. One strangled her neck, the other was around her waist, to prevent her from escaping. She tried to scream, but her mouth was then covered. Her vision gradually darkened and blurred…
Duan FeiZhou jerked away from Ruth’s memory. He breathed heavily, and felt an uncomfortable pang in his neck, as if he himself was being strangled.
The good news was that he could indeed see the memories that lingered on the evidence.
Unfortunately the bad news was that the killer had attacked Ruth from behind, and she hadn’t seen the killer’s real face.
“Are you all right, young man?” The old detective looked at him suspiciously. “It’s just a bloody coat, and you’re scared like this?”
Duan FeiZhou didn’t answer him as he put the bloody clothes back on the evidence rack. Just because Ruth hadn’t seen the murderer didn’t mean the other victims didn’t.
He pointed to a pocket watch next nearby and asked, “Whose item is this?”
The old detective thought for a moment. “The fourth victim. The grammar school teacher.”
Duan FeiZhou pulled out a handkerchief, wrapped it around the watch and opened it carefully to prevent his fingerprints from being left behind. The watch’s dial was cracked, and the hands stopped at 11:45 p.m.
“We figured that was the time of his death.” Detective Varun said.
Duan FeiZhou stared at the hands. It reminded him of the gold clock in the Secret Trading House.
Another strange scene appeared before his eyes. It was a spacious and neat road, and the owner of the pocket watch was moving fast. It was impossible for a person to move so fast, so he should be riding a bicycle.
Suddenly, he and the bicycle tumbled to the roadside curb. His glasses fell off and his vision blurred. A figure walked up to him, with its back to the street light, so that it left only a silhouette.
Duan FeiZhou cursed. The teacher was near-sighted. Now he couldn’t see anything!
The teacher backed away on his hands and knees. “It’s…It’s you! Why did you attack me?”
The blurred black figure didn’t say anything, only continued to approach the teacher.
“My wife is about to give birth. I want to rush back to be with her. Please, don’t hurt me…”
The silhouette smiled, and revealed white teeth.
Duan FeiZhou’s eyes suddenly burned with pain, as if a red-hot steel needle had pierced into his eyes. He dropped the pocket watch, and covered his eyes.
“What’s wrong with you?” Z said in concern, and put his arm around his shoulders.
“Nothing. Just a little sick…” Duan FeiZhou grunted.
The old detective came up to him. “My God, your eyes are all bloodshot. You haven’t slept in days, young man. Does Scotland Yard use people that hard?”
He looked askance at Z, not with condemnation, but as if he were a sweatshop owner desperately trying to keep his staff in line.
“You’re too tired. Go back to the hotel and rest.” Z said to Duan FeiZhou in a commanding tone.
Duan FeiZhou wanted to protest, but he quickly remembered how Z had ordered him to rest earlier. Whenever Z spoke in that tone, it meant his mind was made up, and no one could change it.
“I know.” Duan FeiZhou said, as he rubbed his eyes.
“Sorry to bother you.” Z said to the old detective.
“I always thought our boss was quite good at squeezing people, but I never thought I was the one who was too short-sighted,” The old detective said sarcastically.
He dropped Duan FeiZhou and Z off at the police station and tried to call a carriage, but Duan FeiZhou politely declined. The hotel was only a short walk from the police station. However, the old detective was still a bit uneasy and watched them walk all the way to the street.
Duan FeiZhou’s eyes were so painful that he couldn’t see the road. If Z hadn’t been holding him, he would have walked straight into the gutter. It was only at that moment that he truly realized the inconvenience of being blind. It was only because Z could hear the wind and use it to ‘see’ where he was going, that his life was almost unimpeded and led Duan FeiZhou to believe that his blindness was not a particularly significant handicap. He now realized that it was only because Z was too strong.
The innkeeper was frightened when he saw how Duan FeiZhou looked as he entered the door. He tried to help Z along to assist Duan FeiZhou, but Z waved his hand away.
“Don’t touch him.” Z said coldly.
Then, he picked Duan FeiZhou up in his arms, and ascended the stairs. The boss could only follow them with fear and trepidation, and when Z stood at the door of the guest room, he cautiously approached and opened the door.
“You can go down. Don’t come to disturb us without my order.” Z instructed the innkeeper as he laid Duan FeiZhou down on the bed.
The innkeeper looked at the two of them with a complicated expression, and tiptoed by to close the door.
Duan FeiZhou collapsed on the bed, as he endured the painful pins and needles in his eyes.
“I’m fine…” he clenched his teeth. “It’s probably just that I’ve been using my eyes too much lately…”
“Do you need to call a doctor?”
Duan FeiZhou felt the mattress sink as Z sat down beside him.
“I’m a doctor myself.” Duan FeiZhou grinned. “I’m really okay. I’ll be fine after resting for a while. You don’t have to worry about me…”
The burning in Duan FeiZhou’s eyes faded a bit. He coveted the coolness and moved closer to it. It took him a moment to realize that it was actually Z’s hand.
Z usually wore gloves, and it was difficult to perceive the temperature of his hands. It wasn’t until then that Duan FeiZhou could deeply appreciate that his mechanical prosthesis turned out to be so cold.
“Can you…get me a cup of hot water…” Duan FeiZhou moaned.
The cold hand moved away. Then came the sound of the room door opening and closing. He was the only one left in the room.
“Kid, are you okay?” Sword in the Stone’s voice emerged. It now only dared to speak when the two were alone.
“My eyes aren’t good,” Duan FeiZhou said. “Did that happen when Joseph used this power of his?”
“If he overused it, he would get very tired,” Sword in the Stone said. “But not as much as you. It took Joseph over ten years to tame that power. You inherited it less than a month ago. It’s impossible to reach Joseph’s heights all at once. If you don’t master the fire properly, this power can turn against you.“
Duan FeiZhou was silent. He remembered the story of Jack the Ripper that Z had told him. The guy ate a lot of psychics and gained their power, but because he couldn’t tame the power, he drove himself crazy.
Would he also become like Jack? Would he become a madman who killed innocent people to satisfy his desires?
“I will not degenerate into that.” Duan FeiZhou clenched his fist. “I will never follow the path of Jack the Ripper!”
On the contrary, he wanted to catch the Northern Jack the Ripper who had plagued Aberdeen! He carefully recalled what he had seen in the evidence room through his psychic powers.
Ruth had witnessed only the murderer’s arm. That arm, by its shape, clearly belonged to a man. The skin was pale, and unlike the working class. The people who worked all year round were usually tanned. Unlike the Europeans and Americans who sought wheatish, healthy skin, the Victorian people were beautiful in their pallor, for only the unproductive, footloose aristocracy could have fair complexions.
A white man of the upper class. Heck, what a standard configuration for a serial killer.
The scene that the grammar school teacher witnessed before he died was even more intriguing. He didn’t see the killer’s real face, but he had said, “It’s you!” He knew the killer!
The teacher had worked in a boarding school, where he also lived unless the school was closed or he asked for leave. His daily contact with people was quite limited, so if they started with his social connections, they might be able to find the killer!
The file the Aberdeen police gave them was quite informative, and even the photos of the victims were included in it, but it suffered from the limitations of forensic technology in this era. It was difficult to find any breakthrough from the physical evidence. If it was modern times, first there would be a set of fingerprints, DNA, tooth marks test, and then going through the social relations of the victim to identify the suspect, then comparing to the biological samples of the suspect they could lock in the murderer. Unfortunately…
If only he could go back to the evidence room and see a few more exhibits.
Sword in the Stone probably hasn’t spoken for too long, and started grunting again, “Boy, why do I get the impression that you’re extra interested in investigating this case? Is it because of the girl?”
“She was my friend, and I want justice for her. Plus there’s a serial killer that’s wandering the streets all the time. Don’t you think it’s scary? I can’t sleep well until that guy is brought to justice.”
“You’re too lazy to do this, and too lazy to do that, but you’re more active than anyone else when it comes to these things?” Sword in the Stone spat.
“You’re just a sword. You don’t understand.” Duan FeiZhou shook his head and sighed. “Only the external environment is stable. How can I be happy to lie flat like a salted fish to eat food and wait for death. Now, it’s just a matter of waiting for death.”
The door of the room suddenly opened, so Duan FeiZhou hurriedly shut his mouth.
Z walked in with a jug of water.
“Who were you talking to?” He frowned slightly.
“Talking to myself.” Duan FeiZhou tensed. “I was reviewing the case of the serial killer…”
“Don’t think about that now.” Z helped Duan FeiZhou sit up, and stuffed several pillows behind his back. A cup of hot water was passed to Duan FeiZhou’s lips. He gratefully took a sip.
The pain in his eyes faded away. He bravely opened them and found that his vision wasn’t impaired. He could still clearly see the surrounding scenery, the neat room, the table with piles of files and the handsome face of Z sitting beside his bed.
“I’m all right.” Duan FeiZhou averted his eyes, and subconsciously blushed. “Can you bring the file here? I want to see it again.”
“You’re not allowed to look at it.” Z said coldly. “Now you only need to do one thing, and that is to rest.”
Z is a great boss! Thanks for the chapter!
I’m not sure I’d like that ability, especially in these circumstances 😕
Can’t have been easy for DFZ. Z on hand to take care of him as usual, though.
When DFZ’s ID as the owner of the Secret Trading House is revealed, I really hope Z will forgive him and they continue working together. I think he’ll be hurt, though.
Thanks for translating and editing.
Guaranteed, Z’s co-workers would be shocked if they knew how well he took care of DFZ.
Z won’t let anyone touch DFZ! 😀
Thank you for the chapter!
We have clues now! I can’t wait for when he can use his ppwers to help the police without trying to hide it
Thank you for the chapter!