Chapter 280: The First Step

Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios

In a corner of East Borough.

A drunken Zeon faced the wall, pulled off his pants, and began watering the moss in comfort.

When he was done, someone suddenly patted his shoulder.

Zeon couldn’t help but shiver a few times. He picked up his pants and half turned to see a short boy in a canvas jacket and cap.

The “boy” raised his head, revealing a mild and delicate face despite looking dirty.

“Xio?Why are you dressed like that?” Zeon blurted out in surprise.

Xio put her index finger to her lips to indicate the need for silence.

Then, she suppressed her voice and said, “I’ll ask and you answer. Keep your voice down.”

Astonished by her awe-inspiring presence, Zeon could only nod.

“Which of the guys, that Williams knew, have died within the past two days?” Xio asked in a low voice.

Zeon used his alcohol-paralyzed brain to carefully think for a while and said, “Gavin! Gavin was found to have drowned in the Tussock River this morning!

“He probably fell into the river last night. The poor sod doesn’t know how to swim and likes to enjoy the wind by the river when he’s drunk.”

Xio’s gaze suddenly became sharp. Without any hesitation, she asked, “Did Gavin accept Williams’s request to look for the wanted criminal, Lanevus?”

“Of course, we all got this commission from Williams. Anyway, it’s not like it’s a big deal. All we have to do is show the portrait to everyone we know and keep an eye out for someone who looks like him. Oh, Williams, he said that if there’s a clue, he’ll treat me to three days of booze and meat! The poor fellow actually died in a gas explosion. That’s why I refuse to have my landlord install a gas pipe! Uh… That was months ago. I can only afford a cheap motel now,” Gene droned on.

“What region is Gavin in charge of? Did he mention anything to you?” Xio looked sideways, pursed her lips, and stared straight at Zeon.

“H-he usually goes to the dock area near the East Balam Dock. He even met me yesterday evening and said that he went to the Workers Alliance Tavern there to spread the news of his search for Lanevus, and he also showed the portrait of Lanevus to everyone present.” Gene hiccuped.

There were many docks in Backlund, most of which were considered as the dock area and designated as “shipyards.”

“And after that? Did Gavin say what he was going to do?” Xio asked again, frowning doubtfully.

“Of course, drinking! He planned to have a good drink and then find a place to sleep! Oh, the poor sod must’ve felt hot from drinking and wanted to take a bath in the river, but he forgot he couldn’t swim, and it’s almost winter!” Zeon sighed again.

This… Gavin didn’t discover anything. He had gone to the Workers Alliance Tavern in East Balam Dock and distributed “leaflets” to search for Lanevus, but ended up meeting his demise. It even implicated Williams… The murderer’s reaction can no longer be described as extreme anymore. He’s simply a lunatic…

If I were Lanevus, the easiest option would be to immediately move somewhere else and avoid being found. Unless—unless he’s embroiled in something and cannot leave anytime soon… But I wasn’t the only one looking for him. There are also many bounty hunters. He may kill Williams, but can he kill that many people? If he had the ability, he would kill off everyone who spread wanted posters in Sivellaus Yard!

Xio was completely befuddled by the entire matter, just like how she found Williams’s death was impossible.

In the end, she decided to report the problem to Miss Audrey first, and then head to the Workers Alliance Tavern in East Balam in disguise. She wouldn’t make any inquiries and only observe to see if there was anyone suspicious.

Cherwood Borough. Rice Police Station.

Once again, Klein found himself huddled on a backrest-equipped bench with thieves and drunkards.

How unlucky… To think that I would run into the police and fail to take a detour in time. It’s all because of that damn serial killer! As Klein cursed that particular person, he thought about how to hide his charms and the herbal powder he couldn’t explain away and dodge the body search that followed.

He had tried to put them in his black gloves, then find a chance to slip them into a hidden spot in the police station, only to retrieve them when he left.

Just then, his eyes lit up and he saw the young lawyer, Jurgen Cooper, with his hair neatly combed back. He was dressed like he was attending a banquet. Just as Cooper came over, he was accompanied by a police constable.

“You can leave after signing your name,” Jurgen said with his usual serious expression.

“Is that all?” Klein asked in surprise.

Jurgen nodded slightly.

“Yes, they know you’re a well-known detective.”

What kind of reason is this? Klein didn’t dare to ask further. He immediately got up and followed after Jurgen who was wearing a long black tweed coat. He signed his name at a leisurely pace before leaving.

The weather was different from the last time he was led out from the police station by Jurgen. There was no rain and only thick clouds obscuring the crimson moon and stars. The streets were illuminated by gas lamps that lined both sides of the streets.

“Thank you so much! I’ve troubled you once again!” Klein briskly walked forward and came to Jurgen’s side.

Jurgen turned his head to look at him and said to him without a smile, “There’s no need to thank me. This is my job.

“Two pounds.”

“…” Klein sized him up seriously and revealed a smile. “Okay.”

His wallet was bulging recently, and he produced two one-pound notes at once.

Without a trace of politeness, Jurgen received the payment and said, “If you’re willing to enter into a formal partnership, then every time you come to the police station, I’ll only charge you a pound. Of course, not for the cases that are serious. You have to understand that a large portion of the fees I charge will go to the office.”

It’s as if I would frequently be invited to the police station for some coffee in the future… Pui, they don’t even give coffee. There’s isn’t even a cup of water! Before Klein could answer, he heard Jurgen add.

“For a private detective, getting in and out of the police station is something that happens every once in a while. It’s an occupational hazard.

“Well, I know very well that every private detective has a problem with the illegal bearing of arms and the illegal trespassing in other people’s homes.”

“Your response this time was very good. The police couldn’t find enough evidence to prove that you were bearing a gun illegally, and the explanation for the gunpowder reaction on your body was quite sufficient. The name Quelaag Club was enough to convince them; otherwise, you most likely would’ve had to go to the magistrate’s court.

“So, you’re not a suspect, but a good citizen. A good citizen who picked up a gun and handed it in, so there was no need for a body search.”

Alright… But I lost a revolver and the corresponding bullets. That’s several pounds, and there’s also the lawyer’s fee. Klein squeezed out a smile.

“I understand. Lawyer Jurgen, let’s establish a formal partnership.”

The corner of Jurgen’s mouth twitched. With an extremely professional smile, he extended his hand and said, “I hope for a pleasant partnership.

“I sincerely hope that I don’t have to see you too often at the police station.”

That’s not something that’s up to me to decide… Klein gave a self-deprecating laugh.

Back at 15 Minsk Street, Klein eased himself with a hot bath.

But at that moment, he once again heard illusory prayers coming from a woman.

Miss Justice? Is there a clue regarding Lanevus? Klein suddenly jumped out of the bathtub, quickly dried his body, put on his clothes, and went above the gray fog.

Staring at the constantly expanding and shrinking crimson star, he extended his spirituality and chose to listen.

“The Fool that doesn’t belong to this era…

“Honorable Mr. Fool, there’s been a problem with the investigation of Lanevus…”

Justice, who was wearing a white gown for an unknown reason, recounted the explosion that happened on Dharavi Street in East Borough, as well as Gavin’s drowning.

As a Telepathist, who had already gained some mastery, she didn’t add her own guesses, lest it affect the judgment of Mr. Fool.

After listening carefully, Klein frowned, feeling that the killer’s reaction was unimaginably extreme.

Unlike Rear Admiral Hurricane Qilangos, Lanevus, as a swindler, would immediately move if he discovered anything was amiss. That should be his professional instinct. There’s no reason to follow the clues in reverse and kill those who are seeking him.

According to this standard, 80% of East Borough’s bounty hunters would die. This would cause a sensation and cause the case to be taken over by the Nighthawks, Mandated Punishers, or Machinery Hivemind!

Hmm… Has the benefits Lanevus gained, from the ritual of praying to the True Creator to send his son down, left him mad? This is very consistent with the style of the True Creator… However, the problem lies with the fact that it would be difficult for a lunatic to hide himself… Apart from the potential… Klein fell into deep thought and was in no hurry to respond to Miss Justice.

He had read the newspapers and known about the explosion, so he used dream divination to recall the details.

Then he wrote a new divination statement:

“Clues to the explosion in Dharavi Street.”

As he recited it silently, he leaned back in his chair and entered a dream. He saw a three-story, grayish-blue apartment.

On the third floor of the apartment, a room had lost its windows and half the wall had been destroyed. It was filled with signs of an explosion.

The scene quickly shattered. Klein woke up from his reverie as he tapped the edge of the table and thought to himself.

The clues are at the scene of the crime?

… This revelation can also mean that the murderer is still watching the crime scene and wants to finish off the person who comes to investigate the matter.

Yes… This will give him a chance to find the person who recently issued the bounty for Lanevus.

I’ll visit the crime scene in disguise and see if I can find the killer. Even if he isn’t Lanevus, he must surely be connected to Lanevus.

But he must’ve hidden himself very well. How can I find him without attracting his attention?

A thought flashed as Klein’s eyes was cast onto the All-Black Eye on the long bronze table. This was a Beyonder characteristic left behind by the Nimblewright Master Rosago.

In the real world, I can’t use this item to manipulate those strange threads because of the residual mental corruption from the True Creator. There will be irreversible harm after interacting with it for a certain amount of time. However, if it was used temporarily, I can use the threads to find a hidden person. That’s something acceptable. It’s just like how I used it to determine if Miss Bodyguard had left previously… Klein narrowed his eyes, removed his spirit pendulum, and divined if his trip would be dangerous.

The answer was positive, but the amplitude and frequency of the spinning weren’t excessive.

That’s acceptable… Klein was silent for a few seconds before returning to the real world.

Then, by summoning himself, he placed the All-Black Eye into an iron cigarette case and brought it back to his bedroom.

After changing his clothes, sticking his beard on, and getting ready, Klein came before the mirror and examined himself.

The faint scholarly vibe that he had was completely concealed by the beard on his face, and his brown eyes seemed to be like an ancient pool which hid and sealed something within.

Compared to when he was in Tingen City, Klein almost didn’t recognize himself.

One by one, he stretched out his fingers and clenched them into a fist. Looking at the mirror, he said in a low and hoarse voice, “Captain, this is the first step to avenging both you and me.”

Before he finished his sentence, he saw himself grinning in the mirror, a brilliant smile on his face.