Chapter 541: Alive and Dead
Translator: Pluto Editor: EllisBLV13
When the morning arrived, Lin Sanjiu brought a chair and sat by the window in the dank, cheap rental apartment, staring at the passersby for some time.
The area near to Whitechapel, East London, was occupied by many impoverished immigrants. Most of them were from Russia or other parts of Eastern Europe, so she saw mostly caucasian faces walking around. Occasionally, she spotted people of mixed race or unknown origin. If the potato brothers changed into the appropriate clothes for this era and walked on the streets, Lin Sanjiu probably wouldn’t be able to tell if they were players or the locals here.
Moreover, wearing outfits to look like normal players isn’t something hard to do. This pocket dimension must have been around for some time, so they were definitely not the first players to enter. If any previous posthuman players met an accident here, it obviously wouldn’t be difficult to take their clothes.
The young man had also fully explained how he came up with that conjecture, “The older brother said that he would stay back to sleep, but how can that be proven? I feel that there is a high chance that the older brother is Jack the Ripper. However, it is difficult for him to kill with us around so the younger brother followed us. He seized the opportunity to create a distraction to divert our attention while his older brother attacked Annie from the other end of the alley… Based on history, there were people who suspected that Jack the Ripper had accomplices!”
The young man’s eyes gleamed after he said that.
Regardless of the logic behind the young man’s conjecture or his strange fascination with Jack the Ripper, one thing was definite. With 19th century London as a backdrop, an East Asian— to be exact, a Chinese man wearing a cowboy jacket and with a slight Cantonese accent— was definitely an outsider just like Lin Sanjiu.
The next mystery was the penny in her hand.
Lin Sanjiu scrutinized the penny between her fingers. There was a slight dent on the penny. The light from outside the window created a white edge around the penny. The penny was flat and quite light. A person without sufficient arm strength would be able to throw it far—
“Is it possible to use this penny to break a street lamp?”
It obviously wouldn’t be a problem if their abilities weren’t sealed. However, when Lin Sanjiu tried it out personally, she was surprised that she managed to break a street lamp. She found out that her abilities were in a rather unique state. Even though she couldn’t use her active abilities, but she retained some of the effects of her Strength Augmentation. Her current strength was equivalent to a normal man with above-average physical strength.
Street lamps in the nineteenth century were fragile and poorly-made. The lamps were also much closer to the ground. If a person had something like a slingshot, breaking them wouldn’t be much of a problem.
When Lin Sanjiu thought of this, she tousled her hair in frustration. Finally, she decided not to think about the complicated mess.
In any case, once Jack the Ripper killed five victims, the game would eventually end. Did it really matter if they didn’t solve the case? At most, she just needed to keep her guard up around the Potato brothers.
Daytime in the game actually only lasted for about 30 minutes. When Lin Sanjiu pushed her chair back and stood up, it was already dusk outside and the light was fading. The night would probably last for another four to five hours. Judging from the game mechanics, most of the game scenarios would definitely play out during the night.
Just after she stood up, the door to the rental apartment opened. The young man peeked in before he entered. He glanced at Lin Sanjiu. As he was holding a loaf of bread in each hand, he turned around and used his foot to close the door before asking, “Want to eat something?”
He left in the “morning,” but it was already night by the time he bought two loaves of bread back.
Lin Sanjiu looked at the two loaves of black, hard bread
and shook her head. She had no appetite.
The young man did not take offense to her reaction. He tore a piece of bread and placed it in his mouth before speaking with his mouth full, “Where are the two brothers?”
After his initial fear toward them subsided, he started showing a keen interest in the brothers. His attitude was almost fangirl-like.
“They went…to look for prostitutes,” Lin Sanjiu said reluctantly without an expression on her face. She wasn’t able to add anything more to her answer.
Perhaps, the brothers realized that their identities as bar owners made them very appealing to the prostitutes in the slums. Since last night, the potato brothers had been loitering around the streets. They harassed every woman they fancied and would disappear into a corner with a prostitute every now and then. They had only returned once the entire time just to get money.
Even though the old man at the entrance told them that they could do whatever they wanted, Lin Sanjiu couldn’t help feeling unsettled.
Once the young man heard her words, an I-told-you-so expression appeared on his face. He sat down on a chair furthest from Lin Sanjiu and started munching on his bread with his head lowered, leaving only the top of his head of black hair visible. He chewed and chewed. Then, through his salivary masticating sounds, he suddenly chortled.
“Why are you laughing?” Lin Sanjiu disliked the man’s furtive cowardice and his random bouts of unexpected behavior. Frankly speaking, she felt that the young man was an even more likely suspect as the murderer— if it wasn’t for the fact that Jack the Ripper was definitely not an East Asian.
“N–Nothing.” He raised his eyes and withdrew backward before saying, “T–Thinking that one of the brothers may be Jack the Ripper and the other an accomplice made me too emotional.”
Since neither of them lit any candles, the apartment was dark and somber. Hearing the young man’s slightly quivering voice in the dark as he described a serial killer wasn’t exactly the most cheerful thing in the world. Without saying a word, Lin Sanjiu searched for some candles and lit them.
Electric bulbs were probably already invented around this period, however, there weren’t such modern appliances in this apartment. The orange flames from the candles could only light a very small spot. The creepy flickering lights and dancing shadows made the living room even more unworldly.
Lin Sanjiu did not look at the young man sitting in his chair. She leaned on the window sill and observed the various passersby on the street.
“I still think that we should follow the two brothers,” the young man continued with his rambling until he brought this up. This line caught the attention of Lin Sanjiu. “If we find any of the prostitutes they visited dead, especially if they are disemboweled and had their wombs and intestines taken out, then certainly one of the brothers is Jack the Ripper!”
“If they are posthumans who are just looking for some entertainment, it would be difficult to remain hidden.”
“But, we can’t just leave it as it is,” the young man said, in an almost pleading voice, while lowered his head and bit his fingertips.
However, he did not get any response from Lin Sanjiu. The young man looked up and noticed Lin Sanjiu leaning out of the window and squinting. The man did not know what she saw but the alarming look on her face grew obvious. She suddenly turned her head and called for him, “Come over!”
“What happened?” he gulped and plodded over. He looked out of the window.
It seemed like it always rained at night in this game. Bokeh lights filled the background as the misty rain blurred the lights in the distance. Naturally, it was difficult to see the facial features of the people on the street under such lighting. The young man narrowed his eyes and stared carefully for a few seconds. His face suddenly turned pale, “Huh? It can’t be…”
The two people exchanged glances. A split second later, Lin Sanjiu and the young man dashed out of the door together.
When they stepped through the puddles and ran into the street, a group of prostitutes under a street lamp turned to them with curious expressions. Lin Sanjiu surveyed her surroundings but their target was already gone. She frowned and questioned the young man, “Did you see that?”
“N–No!” the young man panted, “Did we make a mistake?”
Lin Sanjiu bit her lip. For a moment, she doubted herself. She had only been outside for a while but her hair was fully drenched and her face was wet. Wiping the rain from her face, she was just about to speak when she was interrupted.
A woman’s hoarse voice rang out loudly. They immediately looked in the same direction of the voice.
“You feel that I’m too old? Look at that bit of money you have! If you don’t have money, don’t act like an aristocrat!”
When Lin Sanjiu turned her head, she saw a prostitute in a flimsy skirt. The woman stood, furious, in front of a door which had just been opened. While she cursed and wiped her tears, she walked away. “You are just a butcher. I don’t even want to spend a night with you! It will just make my skirt dirty!”
She looked up at the night sky revealing her saggy, fair face. That woman was Annie Chapman.
“I wasn’t wrong— It’s her! She didn’t die!”
Lin Sanjiu gasped and looked at the young man instinctively. At that moment, it was obvious that the latter was also puzzled. He stared at the prostitute for a long time without turning his eyes away.
Annie Chapman, in her old faded skirt, shot a glance at them. She turned around and headed in the opposite direction. There wasn’t even a single wound on her body. When Lin Sanjiu considered the situation, she couldn’t help feeling perplexed. “What’s going on?” she whispered.
“I…I don’t know,” the young man answered anxiously. She couldn’t tell if he was happy. “Does this mean that the two brothers have nothing to do with Jack the Ripper? If… If that’s the case, let’s continue to follow her…”
Lin Sanjiu couldn’t help feeling a little restless. She looked up and noticed that another person had already approached Annie and was talking to her. The man that approached Annie was holding an umbrella. Hidden in a shadowy corner, they could only see his black silhouette. Annie was whispering to him and suddenly laughed. Then, she wrapped her arms flirtatiously around the man. Next, they disappeared into the street corner.
“Quick! Let’s follow behind them!”
Jolted, the young man sprinted. Lin Sanjiu rushed over and saw Annie following behind that man, whose face she failed to see, entering a dark alley.
“That man might be Jack the Ripper!” the young man was so excited that his voice grew sharp. Before Lin Sanjiu said anything, he had already slipped into the alley.
The alley was dark so they could only use the little light to see the path ahead. The young man was running not far ahead of her but she could barely see him. She could only hear the shuffling sounds as they moved.
“After everything, we’re back to square one,” Lin Sanjiu sighed and followed into the alley.
The occasional light from a low lying window on the street made the street seemed ironically darker. Running along the alley, Lin Sanjiu wasn’t sure if she made any turns or ran into a byroad. Lin Sanjiu ran around the dark alley with the young man. She already wasn’t sure which direction they came from. Likewise, she no longer knew where Annie and her john went.
“Let’s forget it,” Lin Sanjiu was already feeling a little disheartened. After all, she wasn’t really that interested in catching a serial killer from a few centuries ago. “Why don’t we go back first?” she asked the young man ahead of her.
The young man nodded in the darkness. He turned around without saying a word, but he was visibly disappointed once again.
They didn’t see a single lit window on their way back. The drizzle made everything dark and blurry. Stumbling through the dark, their journey back was quite tiring as they had to avoid the watery potholes and paraphernalia in the alley. They couldn’t help feeling a sense of relief when they saw the yellow light streaming from the entrance of the alley.
“Finally, we’re almost out of here,” Lin Sanjiu ranted, “To be honest, even if I see Jack the Ripper next time, I’m not going to chase him through these alleys—”
Before she could finish her sentence, she was startled by a sharp shriek which rang out from a distance. This time, before the shriek faded, they heard the footsteps of multiple people. This was followed by various inquisitive inquiries and shouting. Apparently, the shriek had caused quite a commotion.
Lin Sanjiu ran quickly toward the main road. Quite a crowd had gathered on the main road with street lamps. Their faces were filled with fear. When two men walked passed the alley entrance, she overheard their conversation, “I heard there was another dead body there…”
In the end, Annie died anyway!
If Annie was killed the moment she entered the alley, there was enough time for her body to be disposed by the road and be discovered while the young man and she tried to chase after her unknown killer.
“We must have gone the wrong way even from the start. That is why Jack the Ripper had time to kill her—” Lin Sanjiu felt the young man walking close to her. He sighed and was paused mid-sentence. Lin Sanjiu lowered her head and felt her throat tighten.
There was light where they were standing now. She could see her own shadow and another long shadow on a pothole in the cobblestone street. The shadows quivered as the rain hit the ground. The shadow of a hat appeared above the man’s head.
But, the young man did not wear a hat…