Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Duan FeiZhou looked down at the hole that emitted an odd smell with an expression of mixed shock and disgust. He asked incredulously, “…You’re not asking me to jump down, are you?”
Mr. N squatted at the entrance of the hole, and said with a smirk, “Yeah. It’s a sewer.”
They were squatting in the bathroom of Mr. N’s house. After moving the bathtub, there was a hole dug underneath that led to the London sewer.
“…When did you dig this hole?” Duan FeiZhou gave Mr. N with a complicated look.
“When I first rented this store. I dug it when I was renovating.”
“Would people normally dig this kind of hole under someone else’s house?” Duan FeiZhou was horrified, but…This man rented his house and recklessly remodeled it without informing him, the landlord! How could there be such people in the world!
“It’s all for a rainy day.” Mr. N stopped Duan FeiZhou’s protests with those words. “I’ve been a Nightman for so many years, I’m used to thinking of danger in times of peace. To not prepare a back way out for myself is always uneasy. I was going to use this hole as my escape route, but one day I found a lot more ghouls in the sewers.”
“The ghouls appeared at the same time as Duncan McKellen’s arrival in London?” Duan FeiZhou asked.
“About the same, so I think they may have followed Duncan McKellen here. You might want to try communicating with them.”
Duan FeiZhou shuddered at the thought of those little, white, corpse-like grunts. He didn’t want to be racist, but the ghouls looked really…It was too much of a horror valley. Perhaps because they grew up in a dark environment, so they looked more inhuman. As a human, he instinctively feared and disliked them. However for Z, he was willing to endure a little.
He descended the ladder to the bottom of the hole and landed in the cold, damp sewer. He carried a lamp, and used occult magic to make the light brighter than an ordinary lamp.
Since the Great Cholera epidemic, London had been in full swing construction of the sewers, which were now quite spacious and spectacular, and far better than those in Aberdeen. Duan FeiZhou and Mr. N. walked side by side. Every now and then, rats screamed in the darkness. He kept thinking there would be four turtles besides the rats…
In addition to the lantern, Mr. N also carried a bag full of food. He handed the lamp to Duan FeiZhou and took out a piece of carrion from the bag as bait to lure the ghouls. The smell in the sewers was now even more pungent, and Duan FeiZhou tried desperately to resist the urge to shed tears.
Mr. N’s bait was so effective that Duan FeiZhou heard a rustling sound in the distance after just a short time. Not a mouse and rats didn’t move that much.
A thin, bony white hand came out from the corner of the sewer. Although he was already prepared, at the sight of that white hand, Duan FeiZhou’s stomach still flooded with physical discomfort.
The ghoul, like a gecko, climbed the wall and came over. It moved so quickly that it had leapt up to Mr. N in the blink of an eye. The restaurant owner threw the carrion to the ghoul, who caught it and stuffed it quickly into its mouth.
Like bees attracted by nectar, more ghouls crawled out. Mr. N. handed the bag to Duan FeiZhou and nudged him towards the ghouls impatiently. Duan FeiZhou resigned himself to his fate. Duan FeiZhou felt like a breeder feeding the animals.
After they ate and drank, the ghouls became much more docile. They circled around Duan FeiZhou, and sniffed hard at his body. Their throats made hoarse sounds that at first sounded like the howls of wild animals, but Duan FeiZhou could discern a word or two in there if he concentrated.
“He has food.”
“He smells just like Duncan.”
…Duan FeiZhou couldn’t help but be impressed.
He crouched down carefully, at eye level with the ghouls. The ghouls shrank back into the darkness in fear. Duan FeiZhou waited patiently for a moment. When he didn’t make any aggressive moves, the ghouls tentatively came out again, and put their noses into his hands.
“Uh, hello guys.” Duan FeiZhou didn’t know where to start, so he said dryly, “I’d like to ask for your help. Do you remember the white-haired man who was with me? Can you help me find him?”
Duan FeiZhou slowed down his speech and repeated it several times, each time making the language more simple. The last time, he simply said, “White haired man. Looking.”
The ghouls mingled among themselves. Duan FeiZhou heard them mutter “white-haired man” in a fearful tone, and he remembered the many ghouls they had killed in Aberdeen. However, they had eaten food from Duan FeiZhou and smelled Duncan on him. Duncan who had always treated them well. Other humans would stone them, but Duncan never minded them, and always brought good food. They were willing to work for Duncan.
The white-haired man was scary. Hoever, they weren’t trying to fight him, just find his location. It wasn’t hard at all.
The ghouls whispered and climbed up the wall, then scattered in different directions towards the sewers.
Duan FeiZhou looked at Mr. N beside him. “Do you think they understood?”
Mr. N was amazed. “You just spoke in the language of ghouls. Didn’t you notice?”
Duan FeiZhou shook his head. He just thought he was speaking ordinary human language. So it seemed that when he was facing ghouls, he would automatically convert into ghoul language?
Next, he just needed to wait for the ghouls to bring good news.
Duan FeiZhou crawled back up to the ground. He had been running around all day and was now exhausted to the core. The second floor of the restaurant was supposed to be Mr. N’s own place, which he generously lent to the ladies. The men had to bunk in the cellar.
It was clear that his home was upstairs, but Duan FeiZhou couldn’t go back and had to sleep in the cellar. He was feeling heartbroken, but as soon as he laid down, he immediately fell into a deep sleep, and forgot his discontent.
Early the next morning, Mr. N woke them up and brought breakfast. The breakfast was far more delicious than Duan FeiZhou had ever eaten in a restaurant before. He now suspected that Mr. N. had poisoned the customers specifically, and was still being merciful to his own people.
Halfway through breakfast, Mr. N came to report that the ghouls had returned. Duan FeiZhou immediately dropped his fork and entered the sewer through the hole in the bathroom. Mr. N handed him another bag of carrion for the ghouls to feed on.
He distributed the carrion to the little ghouls. After they had eaten their fill, he asked, “Did you find the white-haired man?”
Duan FeiZhou looked up. Mr. N was looking at him from the hole’s entrance.
“I’ll go with them.” Duan FeiZhou said.
“Do you have your energy storage device? If not, I can lend some to you. I have a collection of materials as long as they are not too expensive.” Mr. N grinned.
Duan FeiZhou’s brass rings had been confiscated on the airship, and he couldn’t get them back later. He asked Mr. N for brass. The restaurant owner left for a while, and came back with a brass spoon that was thrown to him.
… As expected of a restaurant, it really had all kinds of materials.
Duan FeiZhou picked up the spoon and tucked it into his belt. His energy reserves were one strange thing after another, either prosthetic limbs or spoons…
The ghouls led him through the sewers of London. They were far more intricate than Aberdeen’s, but the ghouls were already familiar with the place. After a long walk, they finally stopped at a sewer shaft.
“Is this the place?” Duan FeiZhou asked.
The ghouls circled around his legs, using their body movements to say “yes.”
Duan FeiZhou focused his mind, stretched out his auditory tentacles, and peered upward. Through the moist soil, through the man-made concrete floor. He heard typewriters clicking one after another, pens rubbing softly against paper, boots and leather shoes tapping against marble tiles. The buzz of people, the shouts, the barked orders…
Duan FeiZhou suddenly understood what place was above him.
He was standing directly underneath Scotland Yard.
“They’ve locked the boss up in the dungeon of Scotland Yard?!”
After hearing the information brought back by Duan FeiZhou, everyone was deeply incredulous.
They were sitting around the square table in the cellar with dinner plates, knives and forks on the table. After breakfast, the tableware had yet to be removed.
Even Duan FeiZhou himself thought it sounded like a fantasy. Carter was really original to put the leader of the Nightmen in the dungeon of the Nightmen. Did he do that on purpose to humiliate Z?
“But that dungeon is indeed solid as gold, isn’t it?” Duan FeiZhou asked. “I’ve never heard of any occult practitioners escaping. And the Abnormal Case Investigation Unit section has been taken over by the Committee, which equates to having a large group of jailers. If I were Carter, I’d probably put Z there too…”
“That’s true…” Xenophon’s expression was extremely odd. As if he had heard some kind of joke that could make people laugh until they were out of breath, but because of the atmosphere, he couldn’t laugh, so he could only hold it in until his ribs were about to break.
The other Nightmen’s expressions weren’t much better. Probably only Duan FeiZhou, Evangeline and Yeats couldn’t understand the situation.
“What’s going on? Can’t you just say it?” Duan FeiZhou was a little impatient.
Xenophon had already held it in until he couldn’t stand it anymore. He had to pinch his mouth with his hand to keep himself from laughing out loud on the spot.
Finally, it was the kind Miss Acheson who answered Duan FeiZhou’s question. She had never been one to smile, and this time she only slightly raised the corners of her lips (for Miss Acheson, that was already considered a hilarious laugh for her).
“When we went to see Jack the Ripper, you went with us to the dungeon,” she said. “And you will remember that we didn’t take Jack out through the main door, but through the…secret passage.”
Duan FeiZhou froze as the memory of that day came to mind. Miss Acheson was right. Mrs. Q and Mr. R and the leashed Ripper left the dungeon by another way, and didn’t go back to the office with them. Which meant…
“The Nightmen’s dungeon actually has a secret passage to the outside world?!” He couldn’t help but call out.
This felt…It was like a locked room murder case in a detective novel, and he was racking his brain to think about how the murderer got out of the locked room when the author wrote with a broad stroke of his pen that it wasn’t a locked room at all, there was a secret passage inside. Of course, for the reasoned novel readers, this plot was more than dumb. But for Duan FeiZhou, this was great news. It meant they could sneak into the dungeon and rescue Z like nobody’s business.
“Shh. Shh. Keep it down.” Xenophon gestured at him desperately.
Duan FeiZhou lowered his voice, “Carter doesn’t know about this?”
“Well, no one told him, did they?” Mr. N. looked around at the crowd.
Xenophon laughed and trembled, “Didn’t I tell you that the Nightmen had a lot of secrets to hide from the top? Our efforts are finally paying off aren’t they?”
“But Z also knows about the secret passages, right? In case Carter and the others torture him…”
“Are you that unsure of the boss’s ability to keep his mouth shut?”
Duan FeiZhou trusted Z, of course, but he couldn’t say how strong willed people would be when they encountered occult practitioners. Not to mention that Madame Boyle was still Z’s builder. Maybe she was like a cunning programmer, and left some kind of backdoor in Z that only she knew about in order to control Z.
“So we sneak directly into the dungeon through the secret passage?” Duan FeiZhou asked.
Mr. N mused, “Yes, but to open the cell you must have the key with the spell to do so. I don’t think you have the key with you, right?”
Miss Acheson said, “I gave them the key when I left.”
“Then we’ll have to break in by force. However, this will certainly alert the guards. I’m afraid there will be a fight.”
Mr. R shot up. “I’ve wanted to fight with them for a long time!”
“Although a fight is inevitable, we need to think long and hard…”
Miss Acheson drew a map of the secret passage, and Duan FeiZhou found that it was next to the sewers. When the Nightmen dug the tunnel, they also wanted to move around via London’s well-connected sewer system.
At noon, the restaurant welcomed a special guest. Al.
The little servant was still completely unaware of what had really happened to his master yesterday. He just came to clean his master’s house as usual. The dreaded white-haired Nightman had moved in with the master since he was knighted. He claimed it would be cheaper to rent his house, but Al always thought he had an ulterior motive. He must have moved in there to spy on the owner! Since the man always stayed in the master’s house, the master told Al not to come and serve him so often. He was allowed to go home after cleaning once a day.
Although the money he received wasn’t bad, Al still felt both angry and aggrieved. What kind of valet was a valet who can’t be at his master’s side at all times? It must be that horrible policeman Nightman! He forced his master to alienate him in order to isolate him!
Al was more and more aggrieved. His master loved him more than anything else, so how could he be dismissed? It was all because of that Nightman!
He told his mom the whole story. His mom’s face became a little strange after hearing it.
“Al, have you heard whether Mr. Chester has a girl he likes?”
Al did not know. “No! There aren’t many girls around the master in the first place. If I would have to say, maybe Miss Lynn? But the master doesn’t seem to be interested in her.”
His mom’s face looked even stranger. “Al, you must not speak ill of the Nightman in front of Mr. Chester in the future. We can talk about it behind our backs, but in front of people, you have to be more respectful to that Nightman.”
“Why? He’s so bad! He’s always bullying my master!”
“…Well, you’re still young. You’ll understand when you grow up.”
Al heard her say to herself, “I can’t believe Mr. Chester is…Well, there are really all kinds of people in the world.”
That day Al went to his master’s house on time, but as soon as he left, he realized he was being followed. He wanted to go straight home, but thought it would be more suspicious, so he went to Frances Square and cleaned the room as usual.
Just as he was about to leave, Mr. N. noticed him and greeted him from the shop.
“Listen, son,” said Mr. N, as he took some bread, which was harder than a baguette, out of the kitchen oven. “Your master got into a little trouble, and went into hiding for a while. Those fellows out there think you know where he is, and that’s why they sent someone to follow you.”
Al and the restaurant owner had dealt with each other a lot, and he considered him an old acquaintance, but he still didn’t dare to take it lightly. “How do I know you’re not in cahoots with them?” The teenager’s tone was strong. “Maybe you’re trying to get close to me to get the master’s whereabouts from me.”
Mr. N laughed out loud. “Oh, that boy has such a clever servant like you, and he doesn’t know what kind of luck he’s had!” He fished out the Secret Trading House’s spell paper, and waved it in front of the boy’s eyes. “Now do you believe me?”
Al’s eyes rounded. He was sure to meet with the restaurant owner every day when he went in and out of the Master’s house. He had known that the owner’s cooking skills were amazing, but he never knew that he was an occult practitioner too!
“So, do you know where the master is?” The teenager was hesitant.
“I can’t tell you. If you are captured and tortured by the enemy, it would be bad to reveal the secret.”
Hearing the words “tortured,” the blood faded from the boy’s face for a moment, but he put on an unconcerned expression and said proudly, “Even if they torture me, I won’t say anything!”
“The way they tortured me, I wouldn’t dare to dream about it even in a nightmare in my life.” The boss smiled gloomily. “You just go home, pretend nothing has happened, and continue to come over once a day to clean up. Understand?”
Al nodded thoughtfully. “Then they will gradually let down their guard against me, and mom and I will be safe, right?”
“No, then they will only become more suspicious of you and send more people to watch your every move, trying to analyze your master’s whereabouts from your movements. Then they will have fewer people to send to other places.”
Al’s eyes lit up. “You are going to ‘other places’, right? So I can help you distract them?”
The boss laughed, and patted the teenager’s shoulder. “You’re a good student.”
“I get it! I’ll do as I’m told!” The teenager clenched his fist, full of energy.
“Then you should hurry back. By the way, take this with you.” The boss shoved the freshly baked bread into the teenager’s hand. “It will be strange if you don’t buy something when you enter the restaurant.”
Al had long been taught the cooking skills of this restaurant, and had only awe for the hard as iron bread. Perhaps the owner had given it to him not only to make his act of entering the restaurant seem more reasonable, the teenager thought to himself as he left. He clutched the bread. It could also be used as a weapon to smash people with!
Duan FeiZhou was crouched in the cellar doorway, as he listened to the whole conversation with Al.
“Why did you fool him?” Duan FeiZhou asked. “If he continues to live his life as usual, the Committee will only let down their guard. I don’t think they’d be so concerned about sending extra staff to study a minor servant.”
“If I hadn’t, he’d refuse to go.” Mr. N shrugged. “To be honest, he’d just yell, ‘I’m not a child anymore, I want to help my master.’ However, with my words, he will feel that he has a great responsibility and is really helping his master. He will do what I tell him to do.”
Duan FeiZhou looked at Mr. N in awe. It was worthy of the man chosen by Z as the next chief auxiliary, to be able to manipulate people’s hearts with such skill. If he wasn’t an occult practitioner, then the next chief of the Nightmen would be him, right? Such a man…why did he resign to open a restaurant? Was it simply for the ideal?
Three days later, the letter carrier visited Scotland Yard early in the morning. Every day a large pile of mail was sent through the postal system to the home base of the London police. Some of them were personal letters for the police, others were official documents, and a very few were “letters to the police,” such as crime notices from criminals.
These letters were delivered to the mailroom at Scotland Yard and then sent by special sorters to various sections for delivery to the recipients. A letter with the words “Abnormal Case Investigation Unit” was sent up the chain of command, all the way to the section that all the other police officers were afraid to approach.
The letter was now on the new superintendent’s desk.
The letter was addressed to the “Abnormal Case Investigation Unit Section”, not a specific detective’s name, so it could only be considered a letter to the entire section.
The superintendent impatiently opened the envelope. In the past two days they had been busy trying to find those former Nightmen. They had disappeared like dew in the morning. They let them turn London upside down, but they could not find any trace. So the people associated with them were under surveillance, but even the watchers hadn’t found anything different. Everything was running as usual, as if the men had never been fired.
He had to find those former Nightmen. The Committee was about to implement a big plan, and Sir Carter believed that those people would be their biggest obstacle. All the stumbling blocks had to be removed before it could be completed.
The superintendent took out the letter. He thought it was an anonymous tip-off letter, but the contents of the letter made him laugh. It was an advertisement from an insurance company that urged all police officers in Scotland Yard to purchase personal accident insurance. The letter counted the risks of police work, and bragged about how practical having their own insurance was.
Most of the letter was typewritten, with only the names of the different sections being handwritten. The superintendent had no doubt that every section in Scotland Yard had received such a letter.
He crumpled the letter into a ball and threw it in the trash.
This was the first mistake he made. Not burning the letter to ashes on the spot.