Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
“On July 25, 1892, the Poole family of Soho, London, was murdered. Only the family’s five-year-old daughter survived. The local police decided it was a home invasion, and found the murderer. The killer, a drug addict, was brought to the police station in a state of delirium and was talking incoherently. Six months later he was sentenced to death by hanging.”
“On December 4, 1891, the Woolley family of Kent was murdered. Only the family’s three-year-old son survived. The police decided it was a robbery with the intention of killing the family. The murderer was not found.”
“On March 16, 1890, the Browning family of Lancaster County was out on a trip when their carriage fell off a cliff, killing Mr. and Mrs. Browning and their eldest daughter. The exception was the second child, who was left at home with a cold. The police judged it to be an accident.”
“On September 4, 1889, the Sinclairs of Surrey were killed in a fire that took Mr. and Mrs. Sinclair, but left their seven-year-old son alive. The blaze was judged by the police to have been caused by careless use of fire.”
After Duan FeiZhou tapped out that list, then voiced his horrifying suspicions, the Abnormal Case Investigation Unit section fell into an eerie silence.
“You suspect that Secretary Carter, or rather the Committee for the Advancement of Science, scoured the country for families of occult practitioners, exterminated them, and left only minor children alive, then raised them?” Mrs. Q asked after having listened to his story.
Duan FeiZhou nodded. “Otherwise could that home for the poor gather so many children from families of occult practitioners by coincidence? And Carter’s treatment of Simon. Simon admired Carter, but Carter didn’t even frown when he heard of his death. I have reason to suspect that the Committee for the Advancement of Science was behind all these tragic events.”
He knew that his reasoning lacked the necessary evidence and could not yet be fully justified, but the Nightmen had long been secretly investigating the Committee for Scientific Progress. As soon as he finished, Z gave a nod to Miss Acheson.
The Nightman got up, went to the file cabinet, took out a thick file, and spread it out in front of Duan FeiZhou.
“This is?” Duan FeiZhou stared at the dense numbers in the file and asked.
“The flow of charitable donations from the Committee for Scientific Progress over the past ten years.” Z explained. “The organization has sponsored many charitable causes. We always thought that the charities were just a front and that they must be planning something behind the scenes. I once suspected that they were laundering money or smuggling. I never even thought about the orphans in the poorhouse.”
Z turned the file to one of the pages. Duan FeiZhou saw a piece of paper with “Scholarship List” written on it in scrawled handwriting, that was crumpled up and looked like it had been picked up from a trash bin.
“Indeed, it was collected from the rubbish,” Z guessed his question and said lightly. “It took us a lot of work to gather this information, including going through the rubbish bins of the members of the Committee for the Advancement of Science.”
Xenophon puffed out his chest with pride. He had done a lot of the dumpster diving in his guise of a raven.
“I think if we compare the list of scholarships with the list of orphans of the occult practitioners you have, we’ll definitely come up with amazing results.”
Z was absolutely right. Duan FeiZhou even found Simon’s name on it.
Z immediately ordered the nightmen to retrieve the orphans’ case files. It was relatively easy to retrieve criminal case files from all over the country using Scotland Yard’s access to do so. However, many of the orphans’ cases were deemed accidental by the police, so it took the Nightmen several days to sort out all the cases on the list with the vast number of files.
The results shocked them.
“It’s unbelievable that the victims in so many cases are all occult practitioners,” Mrs. Q said as she browsed through the files in her hands with a stony expression. “Why would the Committee for Scientific Progress do this?”
“To get those children, I guess.” Duan FeiZhou felt a bit powerless. “You don’t know how much those kids worship Carter and the Council for Scientific Progress. In their eyes, being chosen and taken away by the Committee is the highest honor in the world. Now the Committee has a reserve army of die-hard occult practitioners. When they have a need, they will find the right person among them. I guess that’s how Simon was chosen. Because the Committee needed to tame Leviathan, they found Simon who could communicate with animals.”
Mr. R pounded the table. “If we can find evidence that the Committee for the Advancement of Science is killing people, we can bring those guys down!”
“But we don’t have any hard evidence yet.” Z said. “At the moment we only have these files. The rest is all inference and speculation. I’m afraid we can’t arrest Carter and the others with reasoning and speculation alone.”
“Not to mention the possibility that everything is just a coincidence.” Mrs. Q’s tone was somewhat pessimistic. “First we must rule out the possibility of coincidence.”
It was hard to beat down Duan FeiZhou. “The case that happened in London is the case of the Poole family,” he said. “I want to go to the crime scene.”
“That was already a year ago.” Z looked at the date on the file and said, “I’m afraid there’s nothing left at the scene.”
“I know. But I can still ‘see’ it.”
“…See?” Z repeated the word.
Duan FeiZhou nodded, “I can see the memories left on objects. If the house at the crime scene is still preserved, I may be able to see what really happened at that time.”
Mr. R shouted, “Why didn’t you tell us about this useful ability? My God, now we don’t even need to investigate in the future. Just put this kid…I mean Sir…Just send him to the scene and take a look!”
Z gave Duan FeiZhou a glance. As if to say, “Why did I not know you have this ability? You hid something from me again.” The latter suddenly felt a chill down his spine. Tonight he will probably be severely “punished” again. He turned his face away, and pretended not to notice Z’s gaze. He asked, “What is the exact address of the Poole family? I’ll go directly there.”
Xenophon stood up. “I’ll go with you. I have something I want to investigate.”
Duan FeiZhou had never seen him look so serious. To be honest, it was quite uncomfortable. Xenophon’s playfulness was like a kind of routine. Even if the sky was falling, he could still maintain a calm and relaxed attitude. If one day he suddenly stopped being calm, it would feel like the end of the world had come.
Duan FeiZhou recalled that Xenophon’s family died in a feud between occult practitioners. He had witnessed the tragic scene in Xenophon’s dream world, where Xenophon was the only survivor of the tragedy.
But was it really a “family feud”?
If there was a group of people in the world targeting the families of occult practitioners, wouldn’t it be normal to target Xenophon’s family as well? Was the family feud a cover-up? If Xenophon had not been saved by the Nightmen arriving in time, would he have been sent to a home for the poor, like Simon, and become a tool of the Committee?
Duan FeiZhou looked at Z. He was the leader of the Nightmen, and whoever was partnered with him on a mission had to be approved by him.
Z’s gaze lingered on Xenophon for a moment. For a moment, he felt that Xenophon had changed back to the teenager he had rescued from the broken greenhouse.
“That’s fine,” he said. “You guys go investigate the old Poole house. We’ll check out the other clues.”
Without delay, Duan FeiZhou and Xenophon set out immediately, and headed straight for the Soho district.
The Poole family rented a townhouse on Strand Street in Soho. Since the couple’s tragic death in their home the previous year, the house had become a murder house that people avoided so it hadn’t been rented out.
Duan FeiZhou stood in front of the Poole house, and looked at the overgrown garden and the cobwebbed gate. Xenophon stood silently beside him. The guy hadn’t said a word along the way, which made Duan FeiZhou uncomfortable.
“Do you see anything?” Xenophon asked in a low voice.
Duan FeiZhou stared at the door of Poole’s house.
All kinds of visions appeared before his eyes: passers-by going past the door, tenants who came to inquire about the rental property, adventurous young people who visited the murder house with curiosity, reporters who couldn’t find new material and had to add more details to the old story…
The murder was so long ago that a year was enough time for the door to accumulate countless memories. He really couldn’t see any clues.
“It’s a mess,” he said. “It would be nice to get into the house.”
“That’s easy.” Xenophon glanced about, made sure no one was around, and then tapped the lock with his finger.
The lock opened with a click.
Duan FeiZhou looked at him obliquely. “You’re a police officer. How can you break into a house with a big smile?”
Xenophon shrugged his shoulders. “I’m not very aware of the law.”
Duan FeiZhou, “…”
On second thought, Z, who was the head of the Nightmen, had taken the lead with the risk of homosexuality, so it was true that when the upper beam was not right, the lower beam was not right. In contrast, breaking and entering didn’t seem to be a big crime.
The two men snuck into the villa as if they were thieves. The place had been unoccupied for too long, and the floor had accumulated a thick layer of dust. Every step they took left footprints.
Duan FeiZhou looked around, then unfolded his psychic vision. According to the results of his previous use of psychic vision, the more recent the memory, the clearer he could see it, the more ancient and distant the memory, the more fragmented it was.
He saw visions of people coming in and out of the house, the cleaners who came to clean the house. The house was a mess before it was cleaned, with much of the furniture tipped over as if a struggle had broken out. The carpet was soiled with dark stains. It went without saying that it was blood.
Then the phantom turned into a group of police officers. They buzzed around the house, looked for clues with magnifying glasses in a decent manner.
The appearance of the police meant that he wasn’t far from the time of the murder.
He turned to the door.
Two men broke into the house. They were dressed in black, wore masks, and walked quickly to the stairs. They moved without a moment’s hesitation, and were obviously professionally trained. The case file stated that the murderer was a drug addict who broke into a home at night to kill people in search of valuables. The two men didn’t look like crazy junkies.
Duan FeiZhou guessed it was the man who owned the house. He was holding a walking stick. He fired some kind of glowing missile at the masked men, probably his own occult technique. One of the masked men rolled down the stairs, while the other dodged the projectile and pulled out a knife with his backhand.
The owner turned around and shouted, “Get the kids out of here!”
The masked man stabbed him in the ribs.
The man fell to the stairs. Blood cascaded down the steps like a waterfall. Before he died, he opened his arms and tried to block the stairs to prevent the masked man from reaching the second floor. However the masked man kicked him away, and stepped on his body to go up the stairs.
A woman’s scream came from the second floor. Soon, the masked man returned. Duan FeiZhou has no doubt that the rags in his hand were used to frame the drug addict.
The two masked men went through the house, taking everything of value and disguising the scene as a robbery. They also made a point of taking the man’s pocket watch.
This was the era in which Sherlock Holmes was created, yet there was no real Sherlock Holmes in this era. When the police investigated, they took it for granted that the man had torn his clothes during the struggle with the bandit. When they investigated the suspicious people in the neighborhood, they found the junkie with the torn clothes, and recovered the man’s pocket watch from him. He became the scapegoat, and was sent to the gallows.
Duan FeiZhou told Xenophon everything he had seen. The Nightman, expressionless, asked in a low voice, “You’ve seen my memories. Are they the same group of criminals who murdered my family?”
“I don’t know,” Duan FeiZhou replied honestly. “They all wore masks. But they know the occult arts.”
He stepped over the phantom of the man on the stairs and ascended to the second floor.
She was lying in front of a bedroom, like a sleeping ghost that wouldn’t dissipate. She, like her husband, had blocked the way with her own body before she died, preventing the intruders from entering the bedroom. Her little daughter was in the bedroom.
The girl was crying for her mother and father. Crying and pounding on the door. The masked man looked at the door coldly and walked away. They hadn’t harmed the girl. If this was a family feud, why leave her alive? It didn’t make sense.
But if this was an artificial tragedy created by the Committee for the Advancement of Science to collect orphans of occult practitioners, then the problem was solved.
The girl would be sent to the Rosefield Home for the Poor, she would treat her parents’ killers as benefactors. She would be grateful to the Committee, and proud to give her life for them in the future.
Duan FeiZhou stepped over the phantom of the mistress, with the intent of entering the bedroom. The moment he gripped the door handle, the girl’s cries suddenly became louder, like thunder was ringing in his ears.
He was in a trance. No, it wasn’t the girl’s cry, it was…
— My father is still in there!
–Give up kid, he’s dead.
–Let go of me!
— Come back, boy, come back! My God, that stupid kid ran into the fire! Why aren’t the firemen here yet?
Why did that voice sound so much like his own?
An amazing vision appeared before his eyes. The clinic was burning, smoke and sparks rose into the night sky. The teenager cried out hoarsely, and tried to rush into the fire, but was stopped by the people around him. However, he broke free. He ran into the flames, his figure was instantly engulfed in fire.
He stared at the back of the teenager.
That was himself.
No, it wasn’t him. That was Leopold Chester, the owner of his body.
Leopold rushed through the flames, and raced down the corridors of the clinic. He saw two men ahead of him. One of them was his father. The other one…wore a black mask.
Thanks for the chapter!
The Committee have been robbing occultist parents of their lives and children of their families for a long time, it seems.
It also seems both Xenophon and DFZ’s body’s original soul, are both connected to the murders they’ve committed.
2 Watchmen affected? I doubt they’ll take kindly to their own having been targeted.
Thanks for translating and editing.
Chester what happened!?
Thank you for the chapter!
It’s interesting how the original Leopold Chester’s memories suddenly pop out. So the clinic fire was not that simple after all.
Thank you for the chapter!