“Two nobles have been killed!”
“Don’t come any closer! This is an ongoing investigation!”
In the middle of the street stands a fountain. There are two lifeless bodies hanging from it.
A crowd has gathered around the fountain, murmuring in confusion.
“Are those playing cards sticking out of their heads?”
“I heard a rumor that another noble was killed the other day.”
“Actually, I know. Count Goethe Mono was killed. My friend Horako was there, working as a maid…”
“Is that true?”
“Yes! Horako even saw the killer! He was wearing a clown costume!”
“This sounds kind of unbelievable…”
“Stay back! I said stay away!”
The knight who was trying to keep the crowd at bay is approached by a red-haired, beautiful young girl, pushing her way through the commotion.
“I need to pass through. Please move aside!”
“You’re… You’re from the Hope family, right? Please go ahead.”
The knight, though looking somewhat exasperated, lets Christina through to the scene.
Christina gasps as she gazes at the fountain.
Two men are hanging from the fountain’s pillars, lifeless. Their pale faces are familiar to her.
“Count Kuzaya and Baron Grehan…”
The faces of the deceased are marked with expressions of fear and shock.
A twisted smile appears on Christina’s lips.
Two more parasites have been exterminated.
“It’s quite unusual for three members of the Thirteen Night Swords to be killed in succession.”
Someone speaks from behind her.
Christina covers her twisted smile with her hand and turns around. It’s Gray, the head of the Knights’ Investigation Division.
“Chief Gray… What do you mean?”
“I was merely expressing my honest thoughts, Christina-sama.”
Gray smiles casually, but his eyes are fixed on Christina.
“Three nobles have been killed one after another, and they all belong to the same organization. To consider it a mere coincidence is rather unnatural.”
“It appears that the family in conflict with this organization is known to you.”
“You seem to be well-informed.”
“That’s part of the job.”
“It’s impressive how dedicated you are to your work, Chief.”
“I intend to capture the culprits as soon as possible. Well, I should get back to work.”
Gray turns his back on Christina but stops in his tracks.
“Do you have any good news or anything amusing to share, Christina?”
“What do you mean?”
“I thought I saw you smiling a moment ago.”
“Perhaps you were mistaken.”
Christina removes her hand from her mouth and replies.
“I see, it must have been my mistake.”
With those words, Gray walked away.
Christina let out a heavy sigh and once again turned her gaze to the two corpses.
As Christina turned at the sound of her name, she saw Alexia approaching.
“I’ve been to Count Kuzaya’s estate.”
“The crime scene doesn’t seem to be here. The killer murdered the two men in a hidden room at Count Kuzaya’s mansion and then brought their bodies here. See, the knights are investigating the footprints.”
Knights were meticulously examining the red footprints leading from the fountain.
“The situation at the mansion is the same as last time. All of the guards were either killed or rendered incapacitated. The maids were merely knocked out, though.”
“He is quite skilled.”
“He is highly trained individuals. He successfully executed two high-profile assassinations in quick succession. Count Kuzaya and Baron Grehan were no amateurs; they were cautious and still met this fate.”
Christina glanced once more at the two lifeless bodies hanging from the fountain.
Each had a playing card impaled in their throats and another in the back of their heads. Those were the visible wounds.
“A single strike with a playing card, just like last time.”
“Count Kuzaya’s maid also testified that she saw a bloodied clown. It’s undoubtedly the same culprit.”
“But what’s his purpose? The weapon, the clown, and transporting the bodies to this fountain—everything is so unnatural.”
“I don’t know. Someone with this level of skill is rare. The influential figures in the capital will likely get involved in the investigation.”
“I hope they find the culprit soon…”
“Shall we move away from the scene? It’s not a good idea for us to be seen here.”
“You’re right. Oh, Princess Alexia, I wanted to talk to you about something…”
As Christina tried to leave the scene, Princess Alexia called out.
“Oops, how strange…”
A dull voice echoed through the area.
The one who had spoken was a black-haired, unassuming boy, Sid Kageno.
“Sid-kun, why are you here? I told you to wait at the estate!”
“What do you mean, ‘wait at the estate’?”
To Christina’s words, Princess Alexia reacted at an astonishing speed.
“What do you mean, ‘wait at the estate’?”
Christina hesitated as she contemplated how to explain. She had intended to discuss the matter, including the Jack the Ripper case, all at once later on.
“Um, I was planning to discuss those matters with you later.”
Feeling a strange tension in the air, Christina nodded.
“Well, the thing is, there’s something strange…”
Fatigued as if he’d been waiting for a long time, Sid repeated the same words.
“Sid-kun, why are you here? I told you it’s dangerous here, and you should wait…”
“Well, I was just a bit worried about Christina-san.”
Sid spoke with an awkward stiffness.
“You two seem to be quite close. When did you become such good friends?”
Alexia had a playful smile.
“Sid-kun, what’s the matter?”
“It’s the playing cards.”
“The playing cards are indeed strange, but…”
“Playing cards being strange is something anyone would notice, right? Seriously, this is why I can’t stand Pochi.”
Alexia grumbled under her breath outside the circle.
“So, if I remember correctly, the first victim had a spade card stuck in their head, right?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“And the victims this time were the Spade 2 and Spade 3.”
“So, you’re suggesting that they are consecutive numbers?”
“Anyone could figure that out.”
Alexia retorted with an annoyed tone.
“Numbers aren’t the only thing. They are all spades, but the killer must have had some reason to choose spades.”
“True, they are all spades, but is there a particular meaning to that?”
“Each suit of playing cards has its own meaning. For example, hearts symbolize love, diamonds are associated with merchants, and clubs are linked to knowledge.”
“I’ve never heard of that. So, what’s the meaning of spades?”
“One meaning of spades is winter.”
“Ah, I see, you mean he chose spades because it’s winter right now. What a brilliant deduction, Pochi.”
Alexia commented with an air of disbelief.
“Spades have more than one meaning. There are others like night, sword, and death.”
“Night and sword!?”
“And death, too? Surely not…”
Christina and Alexia exchanged worried glances.
“There are thirteen cards in the spade suit, enough for thirteen people.”
“Could it be that he plans to… eliminate all thirteen Night Blades!?”
“Even so, that’s…”
This was undoubtedly a provocation and a declaration of war against the Night Blades.
“What’s wrong with this person? It’s insane to send a warning like this, that’s all I can think.”
“However, the killer did follow through with their warning and killed three targets. He can’t just be dismissed as insane; he must have the means to carry out such actions.”
“I have no idea what the killer is thinking. He has left another important clue here.”
Sid smiled mysteriously.
“An important clue?”
“Where is it…”
Alexia and Christina looked around.
Sid pointed, and there was a commotion among the onlookers.
At the direction of their gazes, two lifeless bodies had been removed from the fountain by the knights.
What remained was the bloodied support pillar of the fountain.
“Don’t you see the blood forming words on the pillar?”
Alexia and Christina simultaneously realized.
“Whoa, look at that, there are letters written in blood!”
“It’s written as Jack… or something.”
“What does it say? It seems hard to read from here.”
“Jack the Ripper. It’s written like that.”
Sid’s words had an oddly profound effect, and the term spread quickly among the bystanders.
“It seems to be written as Jack the Ripper!”
“Is that the name of the killer!?”
“So it’s a serial killer, Jack the Ripper!”
“A challenge to the nobility has been issued!”
The onlookers ran through the capital city, spreading the news.
“By midday, the entire capital city will know about the incident.”
Alexia said with resentment.
“Everyone will figure it out sooner or later.”
Sid let out a sigh of relief.
“Jack the Ripper…”
Christina mumbled the name under her breath.
“What’s wrong, Christina-san? Do you have any ideas?”
“No… I just want to talk about something.”
She wore a complicated expression as she spoke.
Alexia had a complicated expression as she read the copy of the evidence she had been given.
“So that’s what it was. It seems that Jack the Ripper has already made contact with us…”
They were in an unused classroom at the academy, with Alexia, Christina, and Sid.
“If we can use this evidence effectively, we can corner the Dacuaycan faction. However, until we understand Jack the Ripper’s objectives, we can’t make any hasty moves.”
Christina also looked concerned.
“We don’t even know if they are an enemy or an ally. They must want us to use the evidence, but what advantage does Jack the Ripper gain from it…”
“In any case, the source of these documents cannot be revealed. There are also limitations on where we can use them.”
“I have an idea about that. Can I keep these documents for a while?”
“That’s fine, but these are just copies. What do you intend to do?”
“I’m going to consult with my father.”
Alexia put the blood-stained documents in her bag and smiled sadly.
“It’s nothing. More importantly… What’s the meaning of you two sharing a room together?”
Alexia grabbed Sid by the collar and presented him in front of Christina.
“Well, it’s for safety reasons. He has seen some of the information, and if the Dacuaycan faction found out, it would be a problem.”
“You’re sharing a room with him, it seems.”
“We thought it would be more efficient to consolidate security in one location.”
“That’s true, but…”
“Oh, by the way, Princess Alexia, you pretended to be dating Sid before, right?”
“What, what does that have to do with anything?”
“Could it be that you were actually dating him? If so, it was my fault for not being considerate.”
“N-No, that’s absolutely not true.”
“That’s right. Dating Alexia would be my last choice, even if I were to die.”
“Be quiet, Pochi!”
Alexia shook Sid roughly by the collar.
“So you really weren’t dating him?”
“Of course not. Dating Pochi would be a disgrace to the Midgar family.”
“In that case, there’s no issue then.”
“If you weren’t dating him, there’s no problem with me sharing a room with him, is there?”
“That’s…Christina, I’m worried. Worried that this guy might do something strange.”
“You’re worrying about my safety. However, there’s no need to worry. My skills as a Swordmaster far surpass Sid’s.”
“That’s true, but Pochi occasionally shows incredible swordsmanship. There might be an unlikely chance…”
“Princess Alexia, you are very kind. You worriy so much about my well-being. If that’s the case, why don’t you stay with us too?”
“If Princess Alexia were with us, nothing will happen to me.”
“No, no, just imagining Alexia in the same room sends shivers down my spine…”
Alexia covered Sid’s mouth.
“That’s actually not a bad idea.”
“Yes, my father will be pleased.”
“I’ll adjust my schedule.”
“Yes, we’ll prepare as well.”
“Well then, see you later.”
Saying that, Alexia quickly left.
“What on earth, having Alexia come to stay with us.”
Sid said with a despairing look.
“I’m looking forward to it.”
“Unfortunately, I’ll sleep in the dorm.”
“No, you can’t.”
“I’m sorry, but I can’t keep up with this. I have things to do…”
As Sid began to speak, at that moment,
“What’s going on here!?”
A female student’s voice echoed from the hallway.
“That’s Eliza’s voice. It seems like something’s happened.”
Christina and Sid headed towards the hallway.
The hallway was bustling with Eliza and her entourage.
“To pull a stunt like this on me. Are you underestimating me?”
As Eliza glared, the onlookers scattered like frightened spiders.
Then, Eliza’s gaze fell on Christina.
Ara ara ara, Christina. To think the culprit would be here, you’re quite bold.”
“Culprit? What are you talking about, Eliza?”
“Who else but you would send something like this?”
With that, Eliza revealed a blood-written letter.
[13 plump pigs. The first one fled in panic and died. The second one died in a pitiful manner. The third one died in its own foolishness. How will the next pig die? – Jack the Ripper]
“Is this… a warning of the crime? Where did you find this?”
“It was in my bag. You’re acting so nonchalant about it.”
Eliza glared, her eyes piercing.
“’13 plump pigs’ refers to our family, right?”
“Well, I can’t make that judgment.”
“How audacious. Jack the Ripper, you hired an assassin, didn’t you?”
“No, that’s not it.”
“Doing something like this, you think you can get away with it?”
“As I am saying it’s not me.”
Thud! A dry sound echoed in the hallway.
Eliza had slapped Christina’s cheek.
“You can act so calm for now. Father is furious, so it doesn’t matter what happens anymore.”
Christina returned a cold gaze.
Suddenly, Sid, who had been standing behind her, was sent flying.
He flew through the air, leaving a trail of blood from his nose and mouth.
“Haha, how embarrassing!”
Eliza’s crony had beaten Sid to a pulp.
“What are you doing? He has nothing to do with this!”
“I don’t care. This is what happens when someone defies me. Well done, Dekuno Bou.”
The henchman addressed as Dekuno Bou grinned and wiped his bloodied fist.
“Hehehe, I just gave him a light punch.”
“Amazing, Dekuno. A light punch sent him flying all the way to the end of the hallway.”
Dekuno’s punch had indeed sent Sid flying to a spot more than fifty meters away.
“Well, I’ve gotten stronger, too.”
“You’re dependable. I like men who are rugged like you.”
Eliza entwined her arm with Dekuno’s and pressed her chest against him.
“Uheheh, leave it to me.”
“But be careful, you might be the next target. It could be you.”
“Ha, I’d make minced meat out of someone like Jack the Ripper!”
“Hehe, if that happens, I’ll give you a reward.”
Eliza smiled seductively and, along with her entourage, walked away.