Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Z was shocked. “You’re pleading for ghouls?”
“Ghouls never actively hurt people! They’re just scared of you!” Duncan choked out. “They are very docile, and will only fight back as a last resort!”
He looked at Z and Duan FeiZhou with a grimace, as if he was silently complaining that it was all because they had disturbed the ghouls that they had reacted to the stress. The ghouls wouldn’t have died if they hadn’t done something first! The ghouls gathered around Duncan, who stroked their heads lovingly, and the things rubbed against his hands like dogs.
“You see, as long as you don’t attack them, they won’t attack you either.”
Duan FeiZhou had never seen such a bizarre image in his life. No matter how docile and well-behaved the ghouls were, he couldn’t accept them as pets. To put it simply…they were ugly! It felt like a person keeping cockroaches as pets, and sweet-talking them every day!
“You…Are the real killer of the Aberdeen serial murders?” Duan FeiZhou asked uncertainly.
“Don’t frame good people,” Duncan complained. “I’m not the kind of thug who kills innocent people.”
“You expect me to believe that?”
“Believe it or not. I have a clear conscience. Besides, if I wanted to kill someone, would I have left such obvious evidence as a corpse?”
This statement swayed Duan FeiZhou. He had to admit that Duncan had a point. Those ghouls he bred could eat a corpse dry in a minute, and the victim would only be treated as missing. No one would ever suspect Duncan. Leaving the body, leaving evidence, obviously did Duncan no good.
“This is no place to talk. Let’s speak somewhere else.” Duncan turned around and waved to his pets.
The ghouls let out a hiss, and retreated into the darkness where the lamplight couldn’t shine as they dragged away the bodies of their companions. As for whether those bodies would end up in the stomachs of their companions, Duan FeiZhou didn’t dare to think about it. However, there were still a few ghouls left behind. They were all slightly or seriously injured, as they hobbled behind Duncan.
Duan FeiZhou wondered if he should follow the remains restorer. He looked over at Z, and found that Z also looked hesitant. It was clear that Z wanted to cut off Duncan’s head (and those of the ghouls) immediately, but he also wanted to follow him and see what Duncan was selling.
“Let’s go?” Duan FeiZhou asked in a whisper.
Z nodded slowly, but he didn’t retract the sharp blade on his prosthetic hand.
The two men kept back from Duncan, following him at a distance.
Could this be a trap? Duan FeiZhou wondered. Maybe Duncan was putting on a show from the beginning to the end, and planned to lure them to an easier place, like a ghoul’s lair or something.
Z took hold of Duan FeiZhou’s wrist and pulled him to his side. “Don’t get too far away from me, or it will be hard to protect you.”
Duan FeiZhou wanted to say, “I have a sword. I can protect myself.” However, he swallowed the words back. The opportunity to be protected by Z didn’t come every day, and he had to cherish it a little.
The three waded through the criss-crossing sewers. Duncan knew the terrain as if it were his backyard. He even hummed a little tune at his leisure. The lilting ballad echoed through the empty dark underground, which made it eerily creepy. Eventually they arrived at a wellhead. The rough wall of the well had a crooked iron ladder nailed to it, but looked more like someone had dug a random well instead of a municipally built sewer well.
Duncan climbed up first, followed by several ghouls. The ladder they climbed had a disgusting slime left on it. It was unclear if it was their skin or their blood.
“I’ll go first.” Z held the iron ladder. “If something happens…You run away immediately, don’t wait for me.”
“…Where could I run to?” Duan FeiZhou glanced sadly at the dark sewers, where who knew how many ghouls lurked in the dark.
“…Oh.” Z was helpless. He climbed up the iron ladder. Duan FeiZhou slipped Sword in the Stone into his belt and followed suit.
The well wasn’t in the street, but in a courtyard. Duan FeiZhou looked around, and realized that this was the back courtyard of the coffin shop. The ghouls crouched motionlessly in one corner of the courtyard. Only the occasional blink of their large, pale eyes indicated that they were living creatures, and not some kind of grotesque statues.
Duncan went into the house, and came out after a while. He was carrying two dead geese. The two poor creatures looked long dead, and gave off a faint stench of decay. He tossed the dead geese to the ghouls. The pale monsters scrambled up in a pile, and tore chunks of flesh from the carcasses, as they devoured them in huge gulps. In a flash, a dead goose was turned into a skeleton.
Duan FeiZhou covered his mouth, as he tried not to throw up.
As the ghouls ate, their wounds gradually healed, and the broken limbs grew back.
After eating the dead geese, the ghouls circled around Duncan’s feet, rubbed his legs affectionately and then crawled back into the well on all fours.
“You…keep feeding them like this?” Duan FeiZhou’s face twisted.
“I found them by accident after I moved to Aberdeen.” Duncan gathered up the skeletons of the dead geese. “Ghouls originally lived in cemeteries. They fed on corpses and didn’t eat living things. But times have changed. You don’t just bury a dead person in a mass grave anymore, so it’s getting harder and harder for ghouls to get a body. These ghouls are no different. With the development of the Aberdeen funeral industry, their survival conditions are getting worse and worse, so they can’t stay in the cemeteries and have to lurk in the sewers.”
Duncan laughed briefly. “When they can’t find food, they venture into human society, rummaging through garbage and whatnot. It’s very dangerous for them, as it is for humans. Humans treat them as monsters. Although they rarely attack humans, once cornered, they will do what they will do. I can’t guarantee safety. So I dug a shaft to the sewer in my own back garden and I feed them regularly.”
He threw the skeletons of the dead geese into the trash. “The flock of geese were dying of disease, and they should have been burned or buried. The farmer almost went bankrupt because of it. When I offered to buy them all at a low price, the farmer almost cried tears of joy. Ghouls aren’t afraid of animal diseases, and they use the dead geese to feed the children. It’s the best of both worlds, isn’t it?”
He actually called the ghouls, “the children”? Duan FeiZhou had definitely seen what the world was all about today.
“I know what’s on your mind.” Duncan smiled sadly. “You think there’s something wrong with me. That I’m disgusting, right?”
“You’re very self-aware.” Z frowned.
Duncan wasn’t angry, he just shrugged. “I work with corpses all the time. My view of life and death isn’t the same as the general public’s. What you think is horrible and disgusting is nothing to me. I am much more receptive and not as full of prejudice as the average person.”
“You mean we are full of prejudice?” Z said unhappily.
“Humans like to judge people by their appearance. When they see ugly creatures, they are disgusted, and don’t want to understand their nature at all. Ghouls are one example. They are actually peaceful and much less aggressive than most creatures in the world. Aberdeen’s funeral industry and sewage system is so well developed now thanks to them and the way they destroy the carrion, which frequently contains disease. They are a great credit to mankind. And you want to kill them just because they look ugly.” Duncan shook his head sadly. “It’s okay for ordinary people. But you,” He stared at Z. “You can’t even see. How can you judge people by their appearance?”
“Hey, aren’t you being impolite?” Duan FeiZhou said loudly.
Z raised his hand to stop him. “When you meet a large group of ghouls in the sewers, it’s only normal for people to drive them to extinction,” he said coldly. “You’re the one who’s weird.”
“Call it what you want. We have different standards of ‘weird’, so we don’t have to agree on anything.”
“You’re an occult practitioner?” asked Z sternly.
“What are occult practitioners?” said Duncan with a confused look on his face. “You mean the kind of people who tell fortunes and hold séances? I thought you were here to investigate a serial murder case.”
Duan FeiZhou scrutinized his expression. He had either never heard of the word ‘occult practitioners’ or he was a natural actor.
“We are, indeed,” Z said coldly. “We found out that the killer could be using the sewers to move around, then we met you – and your cute little pets – in the sewers. Tell me, how can I not suspect you?”
Duncan smiled bitterly. “I’m really not the killer, but if you don’t believe me, then I can’t help it. However, I may have a clue about the killer.”
After saying that, he paused and looked meaningfully at Z and Duan FeiZhou.
“You want to make a deal with us?” Z narrowed his eyes.
“I know you’re a police officer. If you promise to never bother me or the children again in the future, I’ll give up the lead.”
“You should know that I have no need to negotiate with you at all.” Z sneered. “The same thing could be accomplished under torture.”
Duncan blinked. “But I don’t think you’re that kind of person.”
Z grunted, “Your clue better be worth your life.”
“The children told me something once.” Duncan walked over to the sewer well and looked down into the deep underground. “Every time a murder occurs, they have witnessed a terrible man in the sewers, covered in blood and the smell of death. They have quietly followed that man and found that he comes in through the same wellhead each time.”
“That man is the serial killer?” Duan FeiZhou blurted out.
“Besides him, who else could it be?” Duncan pondered. “They say that the guy has the appearance of a human being, but has completely lost the human touch, and is more like a beast. That’s why he killed those people so brutally, isn’t it? Because that guy can no longer be considered human.”
Duan FeiZhou remembered London’s Jack the Ripper. He was insane when he fell because he craved human flesh, plus he couldn’t control the psychic power inside him. If Aberdeen’s serial killer was similar to Jack the Ripper, did that mean that he was the last of the Scarlet Feast that Z had been looking for?
“Take us there.” Z said.
Z and Duan FeiZhou waited at the well for a few moments when Duncan’s voice came from far below the ground. “What are you waiting for? Come on down!”
Z was fearless and jumped directly into the well. Duan Feizhou didn’t dare to imitate him any more, and climbed down the ladder honestly. The healed ghouls were still lingering at the bottom of the well. Duncan patted them on the head, and mumbled some words that Duan FeiZhou didn’t understand. The words were more like animal chirps than human language.
As if they understood Duncan’s command, the ghouls climbed up the wall like geckos, and crawled deeper into the passage.
“They’ll lead the way.” Duncan said, and followed the ghouls.
They walked ahead. There would be a ghoul hanging from the ceiling, and as soon as they approached, it quickly leapt into the darkness. When they advanced a little further, they saw another ghoul. If they reached a fork in the road, the ghoul would purposely wait at the intersection for a moment, and then crawl into one of the forks.
It was a bizarre scene. Several ghouls lead the way for a Nightman, looking for the serial killer… It was really a family of police and citizens!
Duan FeiZhou thought there was a situation ahead, and subconsciously held Sword in the Stone. However, nothing happened. The ghouls rambled as if they were talking to them. Unfortunately, Duan FeiZhou could not understand a word they said. He asked Duncan, “What are they saying?”
Duncan tilted his head sideways. “They said an interesting thing. Didn’t I go to that lady’s funeral today? They said I had a peculiar smell on me, much like that terrible man.”
Duan FeiZhou was struck by lightning. “You mean you met the murderer at the funeral?”
“I wouldn’t dare say that, lest I slander a good man. I just relayed the children’s words to you truthfully. And they only said the smell was ‘very similar’, not ‘identical’. Maybe it’s just a coincidence.”
In other words, Duncan met someone related to the killer at the funeral? What kind of similarity was the so-called, “similarity of scent”? Did he live and work in the same place as the killer, so that he picked up the same scent? Or did he have contact with the murderer and therefore had the murderer’s scent?
After walking for who knows how long and how far, Duncan suddenly stopped. He pointed to a shaft up ahead. “There it is.”
There was an iron ladder nailed to the wall of the shaft and a manhole cover covering the top.
“Are you sure?” Duan FeiZhou asked, looking at the shaft.
“That’s what the children told me,” Duncan said as he scratched the ghouls’ jaws. He treated them exactly like dogs.
“Since the killer will use the sewers to move, can you get the ghouls to watch him?” Duan FeiZhou asked.
“The children will get hurt.” Duncan said calmly.
“It’s not like we’re asking them to fight, it’s just surveillance. Next time you find the man, come and inform us. That’s always okay, right?”
“That’s not part of our deal.”
Z squeezed Duan FeiZhou’s shoulder, indicating that he should not be impatient, “We’ll do the surveillance ourselves. They don’t have to do it.”
Duncan looked at them calmly. Duncan seemed to care only about the safety of the ghouls, not the fact that there was a vicious killer roaming the streets of Aberdeen. He didn’t care about others being killed, nor did he care about the possibility of becoming a victim himself.
Was it because he was in the funeral business, and used to seeing life and death?
Z climbed up the iron ladder, as Duan FeiZhou stood looking up at him. When Z almost reached the top of the well, Duan FeiZhou was ready to follow, but Duncan pulled his sleeve.
“What?” Duan FeiZhou was alerted.
“I haven’t seen someone like you in a long time,” Duncan said in a whispered voice. “I thought I was the last one. I didn’t think there were people like that alive besides me.”
Duan FeiZhou was impatient. “Stop playing dumb, will you?”
Duncan let go of him. “Goodbye. It’s better if we never see each other again.”
With that, he waded back deeper into the passage. The ghouls rustled after him, never leaving their master’s side for a moment.
Overhead, Z’s disembodied voice shouted, “What are you doing? Come up!”
Duan FeiZhou shoved his doubts to the bottom of his heart, and climbed up the iron ladder.
The well cover had already been lifted by Z. Z squatted at the edge of the well and pulled him up.
“What did that guy say to you?” Z asked seriously.
Duan FeiZhou suspected that he had already heard, but had knowingly asked – in order to test whether he would tell the truth.
“He said he hadn’t seen someone like me in a long time. I don’t understand what it means.”
“That’s weird.” Z commented with an expressionless face.
Duan FeiZhou moved the manhole cover back into place, and straightened up to observe his surroundings. He wanted to know exactly where they were.
It only took him a second to determine his location.
“Ah, shit.” He cursed.
“What’s wrong?” Z asked, inclining his head, “What is this place?”
Duan FeiZhou looked at the brightly painted sign in front of the sewer. A large red cross with the words, “Stone’s General Practice” written underneath.
I kind of get Duncan’s perspective on his ghouls; people are inclined to go for cute, visually pleasing things, animals & people. Ugly counterparts are viewed as nasty… bit like vultures for example. It’s wrong really.
I wonder if Duncan transmigrated too and that’s what he meant; but how could he tell?
I am now convinced the Doctor’s son is the killer and he’s faking being crippled.
Thanks for translating and editing.
A bit disgusting this chapter, but, interesting, who will be the killer, father or crippled son! Thanks for the translation!
Is the son an occult practitioner who can overcome his disability, when needed, with his particular brand of magic?
Duncan is either another transmigrator…or DFZ has some hidden power (with a secret order) that Duncan can sense.
Dr. Stone’s practice?!?! His son??
Thank you for the chapter!
Is Duncan also a transmigrator? Or is he really good at lying when he heard occult practitioner?
Thank you for the chapter!