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Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations

Editor: GaeaTiamat


“I told you that old fox, Stone, was suspicious!” Duan FeiZhou said through gritted teeth as he sat bolt upright on the bed after returning to the hotel. “Duncan McKellen said he smelled like the killer, and that’s because Stone kept pestering him to talk at the funeral!”

Z closed the door, he took off his coat and said, “But he said the smell was ‘similar’, not ‘identical’ to the killer.”

“Could the killer be someone close to Stone?” Duan FeiZhou pondered.

“Who was he surrounded by?”

“As I recall, his wife passed away long ago, leaving only a son…” Duan FeiZhou frowned. “Is it the maid of the house?”

Z said, “Why a maid and not a son?”

“Because his son is paralyzed! How is he going to commit the murder?”

“From the beginning to the end, only Dr. Stone could prove that his son was really paralyzed. Maybe he’s faking it? The police would never suspect a paralyzed man, would they?” Z said.

Duan FeiZhou’s frown grew tighter. “But why would he pretend to be paralyzed…To get rid of suspicion?” 

He looked over at Z. Now Z was stripped down to a close-fitting shirt.

“What are you doing?” Duan FeiZhou shouted in horror.

“Changing clothes.” Z was serious. “Don’t you think it smells like sewer?”

Duan FeiZhou looked down, then smelled himself. He had been in the sewers for so long that his sense of smell had shut down. It was only when Z said that did he realize that he smelled like a cesspool.

“I’ve asked the boss to send up hot water.”

“Oh.” Duan FeiZhou responded, then froze. Wait, was Z going to bathe in front of him?!

The steam machine in his chest began to whirr and whine again.

The innkeeper soon came up with two fellows that carried steaming buckets of water. Then, they brought a tub into the room and filled it with hot water, and Z gave them a few shillings as a tip. They thankfully withdrew.

“You first?” Z tilted his head toward the tub. He picked up the ashtray in the guest room, “I’m just going out for a cigarette.”

After that, he walked out of the room, and closed the door behind him.

Duan FeiZhou quickly undressed, and jumped into the bath. He vaguely smelled smoke. He suddenly remembered that it seemed that after a certain point in time, Z would never smoke in front of him.

At least that meant that Z knew there were people in the world who didn’t like the smell of smoke. However, Duan FeiZhou hoped for more than that. He wanted Z to understand that he should be more concerned about his own health. He shook his head vigorously to knock those complicated thoughts out of his mind. They were here to solve a murder case, not to travel in pairs. How could he allow those thoughts to invade his mind?

To stop his thoughts from drifting towards Z, Duan FeiZhou forced himself to recall the case. Dr. Stone definitely had something to do with the murder. Even if he wasn’t the killer himself, he was definitely involved with him.

Maybe the killer was his son, Alexander Stone. The man has always been a psychopath. Duan FeiZhou hadn’t been well acquainted with him, but his reputation was well known. As a result of his mother’s early death, he was spoiled by his father and turned into a fop. If you looked at the dogs he kept, it was clear. What kind of person could raise such vicious dogs?

Duan FeiZhou remembered that Ruth’s little brother was also bitten by those vicious dogs. It was reasonable to say that aggressive dogs that bite people should be put down, but Dr. Stone gave Ruth’s family a fortune to keep his son’s beloved dogs alive and to shut them up.

If a dude like that evolves into a psychopathic murderer, I wouldn’t find it surprising, Duan FeiZhou thought.

Perhaps Dr. Stone saw his son’s bloodthirsty nature, and arranged for him to be ‘paralyzed’ in advance so that he could get away with murder in the future. Duan FeiZhou knew of several ways to verify whether he really had a spinal cord injury, such as testing the knee-jerk reaction. However, how was he supposed to go about examining Alexander Stone with a straight face? There was no way Dr. Stone would allow him to touch his son.

Should he use the Phantom leaf again? Duan FeiZhou didn’t care about squandering his Uncle Joseph’s legacy, but he had to save on practical things. What if there was a more important use for it in the future?

Was that really all that Dr. Stone has to offer? What about the statues of Hindu gods in his office with occult traces? A mere coincidence? So many coincidences were colliding that it was difficult to explain away them with ‘coincidence’, right?

Duan FeiZhou didn’t know much about Hindu mythology, so he couldn’t tell the background of those idols. But he knew someone who knew it well.

William Butler Yeats was not only a talented poet and mystic, he was also familiar with Irish and Indian myths and legends. Not only did he write many poems set in India, but in his later years he even translated the Hindu Upanishads 1 into English himself.

If Duan FeiZhou wanted to ask someone about Indian gods and goddesses, who better to ask than Yeats?

Duan FeiZhou couldn’t fly back to London in a heartbeat, but that was fine, Duan FeiZhou could meet Yeats on a middle ground that they could both reach. He had been carrying the Secret Trading House’s rune drawings with him in case he needed to use the trading house’s items in an emergency. Now it was time for the trading house to come in handy.

When Duan FeiZhou finished his bath, the water was already cold. He wiped off his body, changed into his pajamas, and tucked the Trading House spell paper into his pocket. Then he quietly opened the door, and looked down the corridor.

Z had his back against the corridor wall, one hand in his pocket, and held a hand-rolled cigarette with his head slightly tilted. The top few buttons of his shirt were unbuttoned, and the line from his jaw to his throat was both graceful and fragile.

His ashtray had several cigarette butts piled up in it. When he heard the door open, he crushed his cigarette in the ashtray, and turned back to the room.

“Sorry, the water’s getting cold.” Duan FeiZhou scratched his head.

“It’s okay, I can’t quite feel it.” Z said.

He unbuttoned his shirt.

Duan FeiZhou jumped up like he had springs in his feet. “I…I’m going for a walk.”

He hung his head low, fled as fast as he could, and left Z alone in the room.

How could he watch Z bathing? It was too…It was too rude. Last time in Shropshire, he had accidentally stumbled upon the scene of Z in the bath. That scene was still fresh in his mind. Although he had only witnessed Z’s back, the bruises, the alien metal spine…

No, he didn’t run away because he was afraid of the scars on Z’s body. Rather…The thought of Z made him subconsciously blush.

Duan FeiZhou sat in the lobby of the hotel. A fellow was dozing on the counter.

Now, while Z was taking a bath, maybe he could enter the trading house? But when he entered the trading house, that spell formation talisman paper would be left in place. If others happened to see it, it would be bad. In case Z himself found out, he was afraid that he would be cut into pieces by Z before the serial killer could ambush him.

He needed a place that was safe and secluded enough. The hotel had a small public restroom with a state-of-the-art flush toilet. (In that day and age, the flush toilet was still considered a groundbreaking new invention.) Duan FeiZhou saw that the other man in the room was sleeping, and that even if he bounced around him, the guy might not wake up, so he snuck past him and peeked into the toilet.

He got into a small cubicle, locked the door, and pulled the spell rune paper from his pocket. It was late now, and he wasn’t sure if Yeats would sense that the Secret Trading House was open, but he had to try. If he didn’t wait for Yeats today, he would attempt again tomorrow.

He tapped the rune and entered the trading house.

It was now early Wednesday morning. Duan FeiZhou had only been open on Saturdays since he had inherited the trading house, and sometimes not even on Saturdays. Customers would be surprised to see his unusual behavior.

To let Yeats into the trading house, it was necessary to open the customer channel. But once this was done, other customers could patronize it at any time. He had to find a way to get rid of customers other than Yeats.

Duan FeiZhou put on the golden mask of the Master of the Trading House, set the golden clock to 12:05, and stood by the front door of the trading house, intending to ruthlessly blow away every customer that came in.

Soon, the first customer burst out of the guest passage.

“I’m sorry, sir, but the trading house is closed to regular customers today, so please go back to… Al, let go of me!”

The first customer turned out to be Al, wearing a gray pajama top and bare feet, who ran headlong into Duan FeiZhou’s chest and then hugged him tightly, nearly breaking Duan FeiZhou’s ribs. He wondered if the boy had practiced some kind of iron head kung fu when he wasn’t looking.

“Master! Are you all right?” Al looked up at Duan FeiZhou with tears in his eyes.

Even if something happened, I was still hit by you, Duan Feizhou thought. He pushed the boy away and rubbed his aching ribs. “What are you doing here?”

“I saw the trading house key you gave me turn on, so I knew the trading house was open. You’ve been gone with the Nightman for so many days. I’ve been so worried about you every day that I couldn’t sleep!”

He could see that. So late he can still find the trading house open, which meant he had not stayed up late to cultivate immortality during this period.

“I would not be so easily exposed. You don’t need to worry blindly,” Duan FeiZhou said.

“Master is really powerful! And you’ve been with the Nightmen for so long and still can perfectly hide your identity. Only you can do this!” Little stars appeared in Al’s eyes.

Duan FeiZhou wasn’t impressed by his rainbow farts, “I can’t stay too long. I opened the trading house to meet Mr. Yeats. You stay here, and if other guests come, you get rid of them.”

Al was in a difficult position, “The guests are all powerful occult practitioners, what should I tell them?”

“Tell them that the trading house is open today for special guests only and is not open to ordinary people.”

“What if Mr. Yeats never comes?”

Duan FeiZhou mused, “Then please go and give him a message.”

“I understand!” Al saluted, like a young soldier who had received an honorable assignment from his superiors. He held his chest up and stood vigilantly like a guard at the entrance of the trading house.

Duan FeiZhou thought there might not be many customers at this late hour, but he forgot that there was a time difference in the world. The previous owner, Joseph Chester, had business partners all over the world, and for occult practitioners living on the other side of the world, that time of day was better for them to visit the shop.

A few Americans soon arrived, and Al told them, in perfect East London English, that the trading floor was closed to the general public today. A few of the American customers were annoyed, but others were intrigued.

They whispered to their irritated companions, “Maybe the Master of the Trading House is bringing in some special new goods. Otherwise why not open it to the general public?”

Once the irritated American heard that, most of his anger dissipated, “Then the next time we come back, won’t we see a lot of new things?”

They left the trading house in a line, each of them giving a meaningful glance to Duan FeiZhou, who was too vain to meet their gazes. Well, the next time they visit, he was afraid they would be greatly disappointed. However, it didn’t matter since Duan FeiZhou didn’t want them to come back. The farther they roll, the easier it would be for Duan FeiZhou.

The more the gold clock ticked, the more anxious Duan FeiZhou became. It had been half an hour since the opening of the trading house, and he thought it was about time for Z to have cleaned up, so he must hurry back.

It looked like he’d just have to get Al to get word to Yeats.

Duan FeiZhou found a pen and paper in the sourwood counter, and was intending to write down his queries and have Al pass them on, but just then, Yeats walked into the trading house.

Unlike Duan FeiZhou, who was dressed casually in pajamas, he was dressed meticulously in a suit, gold-rimmed glasses and holding a civilized cane. HIs dress wasn’t inappropriate even if he went straight to a high society dinner party.

Duan FeiZhou didn’t know if he had purposely freshened up in order to patronize the trading house, or if he was attending some evening social event at this point in time itself, and just went straight into the trading house in that kind of dress.

“Mr. Yeats!” Duan FeiZhou was overjoyed. “I’ve waited for you!”

He immediately set the golden clock back to 12 o’clock and closed the guest passageway, Al hunkered down at the door and looked in awe at the Master of the Trading House and his only guest of the day. They must be discussing important matters next. Was that something a little servant like him could listen to?

“Did you open the trading house specifically to find me?” Yeats was surprised. “Are you in danger?”

“Well, no. I have a few questions for you. You know the most about Indian mythology of anyone I know.”

“Just for that?” Yeats sighed helplessly, “Then why don’t you send a telegram? Is it really so urgent that you have to ask me in person?”

Duan FeiZhou froze. Oh yes, he had forgotten that there was such a thing as a telegram. In the era he lived in, the telegraph had long since retired from everyday life, and became something that would only be found in history books and museums. So much so, that when he traveled to the 19th century when the telegraph was prevalent, he still often forgot that there was such a thing in the world.

“Just…It’s really more urgent.” Duan FeiZhou struggled to salvage his dignity. “I was investigating a serial murder case in Aberdeen when I found several statues of Hindu gods in a suspect’s house. All of them are occult items. But I’m not sure exactly what their function is. As far as I know, Indians revere their gods, and they shouldn’t attach strange functions to their idols, right?”

Duan FeiZhou recalled the memory image he had witnessed of the idol, Dr. Stone had been kneeling in front of it and praying. What was he praying for? Wasn’t he a Christian? Why was he worshiping a pagan deity? Was he borrowing the power of the idol?

“So I’m wondering,” Duan FeiZhou said deliberately. “If those idols really have some kind of power, then when the bearer prays to them, will something wondrous happen?”

Yeats became interested. “Something wondrous? What do you mean?”

“Like making a cripple healthy again, or making a normal person a beast?”

Yeats pondered for a moment, then asked, “If I may venture to guess…Is there an elephant-headed human idol among them?”

Duan FeiZhou was stunned. “How do you know?”

“That is the elephant-headed god Ganesha, 2 one of the most revered deities in India. Hindus believe he can bring fortune and happiness.”

“If you want someone to regain their health, you pray to Ganesha?” Duan FeiZhou asked.

“Not only that. Do you know why Ganesha has the head of an elephant?”

“I don’t know.” Duan FeiZhou said honestly.

Yeats laughed. “There are many versions, one of which is that Ganesha was the son of Lord Shiva and Parvati, the girl of the snowy mountains, but he was born while Shiva was away on a journey. One day Parvati wanted to take a bath, so she asked her son Ganesha to guard the door. When Shiva returned from his travels, he found a strange young man standing at the door of his house and became jealous, thinking that his wife had cheated on him. So he angrily beheaded Ganesha. She was heartbroken and asked Lord Shiva to revive Ganesha. But Ganesha’s head had already flown away to who knows where. Shiva, who also regretted having killed his own child with his own hands, asked Brahma, the creator god, for help.

“Brahma said that Shiva, on his way to find the head of Ganesha, could place the head of the first animal he saw on Ganesha. It turned out that the first one Shiva saw was an elephant, and thus Ganesha was resurrected by obtaining the elephant head.”

Duan FeiZhou asked, “Ganesha died and came back to life, and therefore was the god of blessings?”

“Not only that, this legend is also in line with the ‘make normal people into beasts’. It’s just that Indians love elephants, so they consider Ganesha, who has an elephant head, to be the god of blessings. If it were in a country that abhors elephants, the elephant-headed god Ganesha would perhaps become an evil god, right?”

An idea flashed through Duan FeiZhou’s mind. He had some vague perception of the general outline of the whole incident, but there were still some parts that weren’t quite clear…

Only one thread was missing to connect all the clues and events together.

“That’s all I have to ask, Mr. Yeats.” Duan FeiZhou said seriously. “I’m going back. If the Nightmen find out that I disappeared into thin air, then I’ll be in big trouble.”

Yeats’ face sank. “You opened a trading house under the nose of a Nightman? Even if you are well versed in occult philosophy, this is too risky…”

Duan FeiZhou thought sadly, if only he was proficient in occult philosophy. He wasn’t being, ‘risky’ at all, but ‘joking with his life’. He said, “I know. But I have to do it.” 

“Please be careful, Master of the Trading House.” Yeats looked grave. “You are an indispensable figure to the occult society, and it would be a shame to lose you to the Nightmen.”

Duan FeiZhou opened the customer lane, bid Yeats and Al farewell, then he tapped the golden clock and returned to the real world. He appeared in the hotel toilet. After tucking the rune talisman paper back into his pocket, he pushed the door open.

When he returned to the hotel lobby, however, he was horrified to see Z was standing at the counter with a serious expression, saying something to the employee. He was draped in the black coat of the Nightmen, with his long, wet, silvery-white hair tied in a bundle and hanging down his back.

Z heard Duan FeiZhou’s footsteps, and turned to him with a shocked expression. Z asked incredulously, “You…came out of nowhere?” 

Duan FeiZhou smiled sheepishly. “I just went to the toilet. What’s wrong?”

Z tightened his eyebrows suspiciously. “I found you weren’t here, and searched for you for half a day. I also went into the toilet. I heard no one in there. I thought you’d gone out.”

“Uh…You must have missed me.” Duan FeiZhou’s heart beat wildly.

“…Did I?” Z was noncommittal. Still, Duan FeiZhou could tell that he was a little shaken.

More than suspecting that Duan FeiZhou had used a secret technique to hide his whereabouts, Z suspected that there was something wrong with his five senses. It would be hard for any other person to associate the direction someone was in.

“Maybe you’re too tired. You’ve been running around all day, so your hearing has become dull.” Duan FeiZhou tried to fool him, “Go rest now. If you collapse, I can’t solve the case alone.”

Z wanted to say something else, but Duan FeiZhou jumped in front of him and pushed him upstairs with both hands on his back.

“We have a case to investigate tomorrow, don’t we?” Duan FeiZhou shoved him into the room and locked the door with his free hand. “Tomorrow we will go to monitor the Stone Clinic early in the morning and we will definitely find the clues. Based on the timing of the five cases, the killer commits his crimes every few days, up to a week apart. His last crime was on May 5th, and today it’s already the 10th, so I think he’ll strike again soon.”

Duan FeiZhou jumped into bed and covered his head with the blanket. “I’m going to sleep, good night!”

Z wanted to say something. He wanted to pull Duan FeiZhou out from under the covers and continue questioning him, but finally gave up trying to get to the bottom of it. His words were accompanied by a sigh, “Good night.” 


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Translator Notes:

  1. Sanskrit texts, they are the most recent part of the Vedas, the oldest scriptures in Hinduism


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December 22, 2022 6:47 pm

DFZ really takes risks!
Will the serial killer strike again in the next chapter and be apprehended?
Thanks for translating and editing.

February 2, 2023 1:18 pm

Between the author and the notes from ExR, I’m learning all sorts of new info.

March 5, 2023 5:52 pm

So funny that DFZ didn’t realize that he can use telegrams! 😂

Hope they can nab the killer before he strikes again!

Thank you for the chapter!

March 6, 2023 9:47 pm

“Make normal people into a beast”…I see..

March 6, 2023 10:01 pm

Z definetly knows something’s up! Thank you for the chapter!

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