Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Duan FeiZhou knew he was concerned about his health, but the immediate priority was the investigation of the serial murders. And his sudden pain was all but unrelated to overexertion; it simply wasn’t something he could recover from by resting in bed.
“But you can’t read the file.” Duan FeiZhou said sarcastically. “The investigation hasn’t progressed. What to do? By the way, if there is no me, how would you plan to investigate the case alone?”
“Are you looking down on me?” Z said unhappily.
“No disparagement intended. But you…You know you can’t see on your own.”
“I would have brought Xenophon along if it weren’t for you,” Z said. “If you go down, I’ll have Scotland Yard reinforcements.”
When Duan FeiZhou saw Z before, he was always inseparable from Xenophon. Xenophon was proficient in the occult arts and Z was a strong fighter, so the two of them probably worked together well.
Duan FeiZhou was so useless…He was a little jealous of Xenophon, who could shape-shift and heal, and would never be disliked by Z as an occult practitioner. He really wanted to swap identities with Xenophon. He’d be Z’s partner, and let Xenophon run the damn trading house.
“You might as well give me the file.” Duan FeiZhou insisted. “I’ll take care of my health. I’ll stop as soon as I don’t feel well, that’s all right, isn’t it?” He thought for a moment, and then added, “Please. I’ll listen to you on everything from now on.”
His tone was almost begging and pleading, so at that point, Z had to agree. He picked up the file on the table, and tossed it to Duan FeiZhou.
When he studied the file again, Duan FeiZhou still couldn’t find any clues. The next day was Ruth’s funeral, so Duan FeiZhou planned to go back to Aberdeen Police Station after the funeral to see if he could find any clues from the other evidence.
The next morning it rained again. It wasn’t heavy, but it was always annoying when it rained for days on end.
Duan FeiZhou changed into the black suit that Al had chosen for him, and shared an umbrella with Z as they went to St. Andrew’s Church. There were already many people gathered there as they waited for the funeral to begin. Most of them were residents of Mire Street. Duan FeiZhou had a good eye, and spotted Dr. Stone and the restorer Duncan McKellen. From Ruth’s family, her mother and brother came, but her father was still missing.
“The guy was making shoes first thing in the morning.” Mrs. Roberts, dressed in black mourning clothes, told Duan FeiZhou while wiping tears from the corners of her eyes with a handkerchief. “Today is his daughter’s funeral. I didn’t expect him to be such a heartless person…”
She turned her face away, and stopped talking.
The funeral was conducted by the church priest. He first read a passage from the Bible, said a few words of praise for the noble character of the deceased, and then let the people who came to the funeral take turns to lay flowers.
Ruth’s coffin was placed under the cross at the altar, and flowers were piled up next to it. The people in the church looked at each other. No one wanted to be the first to go forward. They all knew that Ruth had died in a brutal murder, and had heard about the horrific state of the body. They were afraid of witnessing something horrible when they laid the flowers, so they didn’t go forward.
However, Duan FeiZhou knew that the remains had been restored. He didn’t know how good Duncan McKellen’s work was, but at least it couldn’t be any more horrific than it was the day Duan FeiZhou viewed the body, right?
Duan FeiZhou and Z were the first to walk up to the altar, while Ruth’s mother and brother stood by the coffin, staring at it in shock.
Duan FeiZhou lowered his head, and gazed at the young girl lying in the coffin. For a moment, he thought he was mistaken. Ruth wasn’t dead, she was just quietly asleep, because the maiden in the coffin was so beautiful – peaceful, rosy-cheeked, unbroken – world’s away from the battered remains he’d seen the last time.
Still, as he placed the bouquet in the coffin, he realized that the girl was indeed not breathing. What lay there was a lifeless body, it was simply that the imperfections were hidden with the skillful use of makeup.
“Our family would like to thank you, Doctor.” Mrs. Roberts choked back a sob. “Thanks to you, Ruth is so beautiful…I can’t believe she can still look the way she did before…”
“The restorer is very skilled,” Duan FeiZhou said in a low voice.
After he offered his flowers, Duan FeiZhou pulled out a small hardcover book from his pocket, with The History of the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes written on the cover in beautiful gilt lettering. It was the gift he had bought for Ruth at Charing Cross, a girl who loved to read but could not afford to buy books because of her poverty, and Duan FeiZhou intended to give her one as a Christmas present. However Ruth would never receive this gift.
After Duan FeiZhou, Z also offered a bouquet. He and Ruth had no dealings at all, he had only accompanied Duan FeiZhou, so he soon retired from the altar after he laid the flowers.
When the other guests heard that Ruth’s body had been restored, they flocked to the altar to offer flowers. Everyone sighed with admiration from the bottom of their hearts as they looked at the maiden’s remains.
After everyone had laid flowers, the priest called for the casket bearers to prepare the casket with nine inch-long nails and carry it to the cemetery for burial.
Just then, the church door was suddenly pushed open.
Everyone’s eyes turned to the door in unison.
A middle-aged man with disheveled hair limped in on crutches. His right leg was amputated from the knee down and replaced with a wooden leg. He carried a small package, and his bloodshot eyes swept sternly over the crowd.
People instantly made a way for him like Moses parting the Red Sea.
“Mr. Roberts?” Duan FeiZhou raised his eyebrows.
Ruth’s father hobbled over to his daughter’s coffin, and knelt down with difficulty. He opened the small package he had brought with him, and took a pair of fine little leather shoes from it.
Mrs. Roberts looked at the shoes, and covered her mouth.
“I made these for Ruth.” Mr. Roberts said hoarsely. “She had been running around all day and night, and her shoes were worn out. I asked her to buy a new pair, but she refused, saying the old ones could still be worn. She earned a lot of money, but wouldn’t spend a penny for herself. She always said…She always said she wanted to save up to buy me a mechanical prosthesis. So I wanted to make a pair of shoes. But before I could do it, she was…”
Tears slid across the middle-aged man’s cheeks and into his messy beard that hadn’t been trimmed in days.
“I stayed up for several nights, and finally I finished them.” He bent down, lifted his daughter’s feet, and put the fine little leather shoes on.
Duan FeiZhou was finally able to understand why Mr. Roberts was always shut in his studio whenever he visited Ruth’s home. He just wanted to finish in time for his daughter’s funeral so that she could wear the shoes he had made with his own hands.
Mrs. Roberts let out a loud wail, and rushed forward to hug her husband.
As the family wept, Ruth’s coffin was nailed shut, and several boys from Mire Street of Ruth’s age acted as pallbearers, carried the coffin into the cemetery, then placed it in the deep hole that had been dug.
The priest recited the eulogy while the pallbearers filled the pit with earth. Soon a small grave was piled up on the spot. The lively and kind-hearted girl rested forever under the six-foot-deep mud. The funeral attendees gradually dispersed until only Ruth’s family remained standing in front of the grave in silence as they mourned.
Z tugged on Duan FeiZhou’s sleeve, and signaled towards the cemetery gate, in a suggestion that it was time for them to leave.
Duan FeiZhou said goodbye to the Roberts family and walked out of the cemetery with the others. After they left the somber funeral scene, people couldn’t help but talk more. Housewives chatted about today’s food prices and cooking recipes, and men exchanged their thoughts on news headlines and national events. Since he was so pleased with the results of the restoration of the remains, Duan FeiZhou paid the balance owed to Duncan McKellen. As if sensing some kind of business opportunity, Dr. Stone grabbed Duncan McKellen and spared no effort to get close to him.
“Your restoration skills are amazing, Mr. McKellen! Where did you learn to do that? Self-taught? That’s amazing! It reminds me of the time I served in India when there was a cholera outbreak. I also relied on my self-taught knowledge to stop the spread of the disease…”
Duan FeiZhou looked coldly at the self-aggrandizing Dr. Stone, and sympathized with the restorer of the remains that he was pestering.
Suddenly, a thought flashed through Duan FeiZhou’s mind.
“Z! Z!” he called out to the man beside him.
“What’s wrong?” Z wondered.
“The map! I need a map of the city of Aberdeen!”
There were no maps in the cemetery, of course, but Wharf Street wasn’t far away, and there were often newspaper boys on the quay who sold maps to people coming to Aberdeen by ship. So they went straight to Wharf Street, bought a map from the first paperboy they met, and raced back to the hotel. Duan FeiZhou laid the map out on the table and opened the police file.
“What did you find?” Z asked uneasily.
“I’m marking the location of each murder on the map.” Duan FeiZhou drew dots on the map while he explained, “Have you ever heard of John Snow?”
“I know a little.” Z replied, “He was a doctor, wasn’t he? He was the one who identified the source of the cholera outbreak in London, and stopped the spread of the disease.”
“Yes. John Snow used spatial statistics when he was looking for the source of the infection, and marked the location of all the sick people on a map. The more dense the disease, the closer to the source of infection.”
“Mn, I understand the principle in general.” Z nodded. “What does this have to do with serial killings?”
“The same method can be used for crime cases. The location of the murder is marked out, so you can roughly deduce the range of the killer’s activities. Think about it. The killer committed five consecutive murders without anyone witnessing them, which means he knows the environment near the murder scenes extremely well, and also knows when that area is empty and suitable for action. Additionally the area that a killer knows extremely well is often where he is often active – his place of residence or work!”
Z was blind, so he was very insensitive to maps, graphics and such. Even if he knew where the five victims were killed, he might not be able to connect them in his mind to form a complete picture, but Duan FeiZhou was different. He quickly marked five dots on the map, then straightened up and looked at the whole map from a more macro perspective.
Of the five dots, one was near the beach – that was Ruth, who was killed adjacent Wharf Street – and the other four fanned out evenly around it, as if they were stars in the sky.
The distance between the locations of the first four victims and the location of Ruth’s death was almost equal. Duan FeiZhou got the horrible idea that maybe the murderer lived or worked near the place where Ruth was killed.
“Why don’t you say something?” Z’s eager voice interrupted Duan FeiZhou’s thoughts. “What exactly did you find out?”
“I might know who the killer is.” Duan FeiZhou said in a dark voice. “But I’m not sure yet. There’s something I need to confirm. Can you run it for me?”
“To confirm what?”
“Dr. Stone had a son. The one who was crippled in a fall. You still remember that, don’t you? I want to know what school he went to.”
Z made a trip to the grammar school, and was back in no time. With the privilege of being a Scotland Yard detective, he easily got his hands on the school’s student roster.
“The principal told me that Dr. Stone’s son was indeed a graduate of their school.” Z dumped the roster in front of Duan FeiZhou. “And the fourth victim, the teacher, used to be his German teacher.”
Duan FeiZhou picked up the roster, and one of the pages was folded up. He found the name, ‘Alexander Stone’ on that page.
Z leaned on the table with his arms folded around himself and said with amazement, “How did you find that out?”
“When we visited the Stone Clinic yesterday, I saw many pictures of Dr. Stone’s family on his desk.” Duan FeiZhou explained. “One of them was his son’s graduation photo. His son was wearing his public school uniform. So I guessed that the school that guy went to could be the grammar school where the fourth victim worked.”
“Since his son went to that school, it would make sense that he knew the fourth victim.” Z mused. “Do you think Dr. Stone is the serial killer?”
“Wouldn’t it be more than a coincidence that two of the five victims were socially connected to him?” Duan FeiZhou said. “And the fact that the killer was able to kill five people cleanly and then cut them open shows that the killer has some medical knowledge. When the London police were pursuing the Jack the Ripper case, didn’t they also determine that Jack had medical knowledge?”
“Jack the Ripper did study medicine.” Z said. “But what about Dr. Stone’s motive for killing? Do you think he’s the fugitive occult practitioner of the Scarlet Feast?”
“It’s possible.” Duan FeiZhou remembered the statues of the gods in Dr. Stone’s study that glowed with the light of the occult. Perhaps they were not souvenirs that Dr. Stone had, ‘by chance,’ brought back from India, but had acquired them specifically for his study of occult philosophy.
Of course, he didn’t dare to confess his findings to Z, or he would reveal his own identity as an occult practitioner.
“The killer isn’t necessarily an occult practitioner,” Duan FeiZhou added. “They could be an ordinary person. If Stone is the killer, I can think of two motives. The first is the ABC murder theory. Stone only wanted to murder the teacher, but he was worried that killing just one person would expose his identity, so he killed a few extra people to clear his suspicions. The second motive was that his son became crippled, he was devastated, so he decided to take revenge on society. And Ruth, poor Ruth, she may have found evidence of Dr. Stone’s crime and ended up being silenced by him.”
Z’s frown grew tighter and tighter, his expression more and more grave.
Duan FeiZhou anxiously looked at the handsome white-haired Nightman, waiting for him to refute him and point out the holes in his reasoning.
Z pondered for a while, and looked up. “When you explained it, I also began to suspect Stone.”
Duan FeiZhou was overjoyed. To him, getting Z’s approval was a joyous event second only to the murderer’s capture.
“There is a way to verify if he is the murderer.” Z said.
“The easiest way – an alibi.”
“You’re asking me where I was the night Ruth was killed?” Dr. Stone sat in his office, and warily surveyed the two uninvited guests.
Z carelessly lifted his lapel and, intentionally or unintentionally, revealed the shiny police badge pinned to his waist. As if he were silently threatening Dr. Stone to tell the truth, or spend a free night in a barred hotel. Dr. Stone had the general expression of a bitter gourd, as he glared fiercely at Z. However, Z couldn’t see, so his glare missed.
“I remember very well that I stayed in the clinic that night.” Dr. Stone said with certainty. “I always waited for the late shift nurses to come to work before I left to go visit friends, or go to the club to spend time. But that night Ruth was late, and I had to stay in the clinic to take care of my son.”
“Is there any proof?” Duan FeiZhou was insistent.
“My maid, that’s the nurse on the day shift, can prove it.”
“She is a servant in your house, and I’m afraid that testimony is not enough to gain credibility.”
Dr. Stone glared angrily. “What? You suspect me of the murders? Me? I tell you, I’m a famous doctor in Aberdeen! I’ve been to India! I’ve served my country! Don’t smear me!”
Z was indifferent, and not at all intimidated by his presence. “We are here to prove your innocence. As long as you produce an ironclad alibi, no one will suspect you.”
“Who suspects me?!” Dr. Stone’s furious eyes turned to Duan FeiZhou. “It’s you, isn’t it? Why are you always opposing me? Not only did you steal my patients, but you even framed me with the police!”
Duan FeiZhou was baffled. What did he mean, “stealing his patients?” It was obvious that he was the one who scared the patients away by asking for more money, but now he was blaming others? This was probably what was meant by ‘the evil one first!’
“In addition to Ms. Ruth, the other victim in the serial murder case was also an acquaintance of yours. You don’t seem to have told the police about this information.” Duan FeiZhou laughed sarcastically.
Dr. Stone’s expression froze for a moment.
The man who was so aggressive a moment before, just shriveled up.” You…How do you know?”
I also find this Dr.Stone very suspicious! Thanks for the chapter!
I still have doubts about the son. No idea why though 😆
Thanks for translating and editing.
Even though he is unlikable, greedy, and suspicious, I don’t think Dr. Stone is the serial killer. No idea who it is though!!
The scene with Mr. Roberts and Ruth’s shoes was so heart breaking! 😭
Thank you for the chapter!
It’s probably Stone or his son, my guess is the son.
Thank you for the chapter!