Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
2,000 pounds? That’s enough to drive all the bounty hunters and private detectives in Backlund crazy! This isn’t like Rear Admiral Hurricane Qilangos who was out at sea for extended periods of time and had a bunch of subordinates. It’s a bounty that can easily be touched if one reaches out…
Well, a pirate with combat prowess comparable to a Sequence 5 was worth 10,000 gold pounds, and a Sequence 6 murderer would have to be at the value of 3,000 to 4,000 pounds to be reasonable… Could it be that the Nighthawks and Mandated Punishers have misjudged the serial killer to be a Sequence 7, rather than a quasi-expert who is about to advance to Sequence 5?
It’s very possible that the ritual that The Sun mentioned is rather ancient. Perhaps after the Cataclysm, it has rarely appeared again, and the few great Churches and military don’t have any information regarding this… There’s an underlying problem. The Church of the Goddess, the Church of the God of Steam and Machinery, as well as the Augustus royal family was said to have risen from the Cataclysm. It’s reasonable if they aren’t aware of the past, but the Church of the Lord of Storms have always insisted that they are one of the oldest… Could it be that their age is referring to a period of time after the devils retreated back into the Abyss?
After hearing Isengard Stanton’s words, the first thing that flashed across Klein’s mind was to assess the amount of the bounty, and then he allowed his mind to wander and made many connections.
“What’s your opinion?” Isengard noticed that Sherlock Moriarty seemed distracted and pressed him.
My opinion? Klein was momentarily stumped.
A normal private detective would’ve definitely agreed, both because of the bounty and because of the well-known detective in front of him. A friendship with Isengard would provide him with great benefits in the detective circles.
The problem, however, was that Klein wasn’t a normal private detective. He was worried that he would run into the Nighthawks who were in charge of the investigation.
Although I now have a beard, glasses, and a change in hairstyle, and the few Nighthawks who have seen me only a few times wouldn’t recognize me, what if it was Madam Daly? However, it also isn’t right to turn down the request as that wouldn’t make sense. It would appear bizarre and suspicious… Furthermore, I do hope to catch that Devil as soon as possible. Otherwise, I don’t know how many innocent girls will be killed… Klein hesitated for a few seconds, then he smiled.
“I’ve recently taken on a very troublesome case. I’m afraid I don’t have much spare time.”
Before Isengard Stanton could speak up, he added, “I can participate in the discussion and help to look through the information and analyze the clues, but I don’t think I’ll make any specific investigations.”
I’ll do a divination later. If there’s a problem, I’ll also hold back from sharing my opinion and purely be a spectator… As he spoke, Klein quickly formulated a plan.
Holding the black cane in his hand, Isengard pondered for a moment and said, “No problem.
“I’ve gathered more than a dozen detectives and have enough people to perform the investigation. What I admire the most about you is your excellent reasoning and analytical skills. Without as many resources as me, you actually managed to go all the way to the East Balam Dock and went to the Dock Union.
“If we do capture the criminal and receive the bounty, I’ll distribute the rewards according to everyone’s contribution in a reasonable manner. Trust me, I have some credibility in this business.”
“Alright, I hope for a pleasant partnership.” Klein reached out with his right hand and shook it, feeling the dry warmth of Isengard’s palm.
It wasn’t easy for a middle-aged gentleman in his forties or fifties to maintain such a warmth in Backlund’s late autumn. This added to Klein’s suspicions that Isengard was a Beyonder.
“Likewise.” Isengard smiled and nodded.
At that moment, Klein realized that he was being somewhat impolite, so he smiled and said, “Sorry, I forgot to invite you in, let’s talk about this over coffee and tea?”
“Thank you for the offer. I’ve already arranged for the detectives to come to my house at nine in the morning to discuss the case. My assistant is waiting for them there.” Isengard took out a marvel of mechanical beauty—a silver pocket watch with complicated engravings—opened it, and he said, “We need to head over there to meet them. Will that be a problem?”
“Not at all. Let me use the bathroom first and have a change of clothes.” At this moment, Klein suddenly rediscovered the feeling of being a Nighthawk again—striking evil down, maintaining order, and protecting the people.
In the bathroom, Klein went above the gray fog and received an acceptable answer through divination. He quickly returned to the real world, put on his coat and hat, took his cane, and followed Isengard into a rental carriage where he sat beside him.
Isengard looked at him and asked while seemingly in thought, “I’m very curious about how you managed to discover that Siber’s death was related to the Dock Union at East Balam Docks?”
I didn’t discover it… It’s a misunderstanding… Klein considered the question seriously to fabricate a lie.
With a smile on his face, he answered vaguely, “The crux of the investigation was to first determine that Siber’s death was done by a copycat. This point was all thanks Reporter Mike Joseph. After confirming this, using the clues about Siber’s route from Golden Rose, together with other clues, I had a matching guess, so I disguised myself as a reporter to perform the investigations.”
Isengard nodded slightly, and without wasting any more time on the subject, he went on to give a more detailed account of the serial murders than the newspaper had described, especially the latest case.
Time flew by as the discussion and exchange progressed. The carriage arrived at a slightly old building in the Hillston Borough.
The house’s lighting wasn’t very good. Even though there wasn’t much fog in Backlund today, it remained rather gloomy. Isengard Stanton led Klein through the spacious living room and into the activity room where the fireplace had been lit.
Klein looked around and saw about sixteen detectives, who had filled every available seat in the activity room.
“Sherlock?” A surprised voice sounded; it seemed to be very familiar with Klein.
Who is it? Klein looked over in surprise and realized that Detective Stuart, who he had just bade farewell yesterday, was actually here.
He carefully looked around and recognized Detective Kaslana, who had been protecting Adol, and her assistant, Lydia.
“What a coincidence.” The corners of Klein’s mouth curled up into a smile as he approached Stuart.
Stuart squeezed to the side, vacating half of his seat, and said with a pat:
“Maybe it’s not a coincidence. I’ve read about it in a magazine before. There’s a psychological phenomenon called synchronicity. Just thinking about it can make it happen. Haha, that’s a joke.”
At this point, Isengard introduced Klein to the detectives present, “This is Mr. Sherlock Moriarty, an excellent detective.”
With his endorsement, Kaslana and the others looked at Klein with much more trust than before, believing him to be an outstanding private detective.
Klein nodded in response, sat down next to Stuart, and casually asked, “Is your commission over?”
“Yes, Adol’s situation has improved, and something seemed to happen to that ‘bad company’ of his, and they’re unable to threaten him any further, so we lost our jobs.” Stuart laughed and said, “I was planning to rest for a few days, but Mr. Stanton summoned me, so I came to take a look. Actually, this is also good, as I really don’t like to take on strange, scary cases. Oh, scary as in those with paranormal elements. Compared to those, I’m more willing to take on murder cases!”
After an assistant had poured each of them a cup of coffee or tea and distributed the information, Isengard sat down in a reclining chair, took out his pipe, and slowly rubbed it.
“I don’t think any of you would be unfamiliar with this recent chain of serial murders. Do you have any thoughts on this case? Speak out so that we can engage in a discussion over it.”
Stuart, whose face was thin and had a tiny mustache, raised his hand and spoke first.
“I just read through the information and discovered that the police didn’t start investigating the case based on the identity of the victim.
“I don’t think the criminal could’ve figured out with his eyes if the victim was once a street girl. He must’ve had contact with them. This is such an important clue, but the police actually missed it! God, this is unbelievable!”
That criminal most likely recognized the victim with the naked eye… Klein muttered to himself.
The majority of the private detectives echoed Stuart’s doubts. Only Kaslana, Isengard, and a few others remained silent.
“This is a very important direction. Stuart, get a few friends to continue this line of investigation.” When the discussion subsided, Isengard calmly gave a comment.
In the time that followed, the detectives argued, raised their voice to retort, stood up at times in order to pace around to collect their thoughts. During this whole time, Klein listened without comment.
When the exchange was almost over, he suddenly raised his hand and said, “I want information on the unsolved serial murders in the last twenty years spanning across Backlund and even the entire kingdom.”
The room suddenly fell silent for a few seconds, and most of the private detectives were momentarily unable to understand Klein’s intentions and thoughts.
Isengard put his pipe to his nose, inhaled its scent, and said thoughtfully, “You think that this isn’t the murderer’s first series of crimes?
“You suspect him of having committed similar crimes before, even if the modus operandi is different?”
It isn’t a suspicion, but almost a certainty… Klein replied in his heart.
This was his reasoning based on the information provided by The Sun.
Since the killer was working hard to advance from Sequence 6 to Sequence 5, what did he do at Sequence 7 as a serial killer?
If he hadn’t committed similar crimes, it would’ve been difficult for him to digest the potion. Even with the accumulation of time, where there was a significant chance of losing control when advancing from Sequence 7 to Sequence 6. Furthermore, there was a high risk for Beyonders in the Abyss pathway to lose control.
Hence, Klein decided, that regardless of whether the murderer knew the “acting method,” he must’ve done serial murders during his time as a Sequence 7 for various reasons.
This way, even if the process of digesting the Sequence 7 potion wouldn’t take years to complete, together with Sequence 6, twenty years would be quite a reasonable limit. After all, if one was too old, regardless of whether one had digested the potion or not, advancing to the next Sequence would’ve been too dangerous. As the ritual progressed, the person would become increasingly insane, leaving behind obvious clues.
At the current stage, the murderer is calm and has the ability to interfere with divination and tracking. There were almost no loopholes, but he might not have been the same during his early days of inexperience!
When he first completed a serial murder case, there was a high chance that he wasn’t that cautious!
This was the follow up which would provide the best clues!
Many thoughts flashed through Klein’s mind, but he nodded and replied, “That criminal’s modus operandi doesn’t make him seem like a rookie.
“I have reason to believe that he has done such cases before!
“By combining the past and the present, we’re more likely to grasp the crux of the problem.”
Hearing his answer, the detectives whispered to each other in discussion. After a brief silence from Isengard, he sincerely praised, “A brilliant idea!”