“I like my dad and brothers.”
He laughed out loud at that. “But you don’t like them as men.”
“Men, women – everyone’s the same – I like those who love me.”
He was silent for a moment. I was merely telling the truth. No one hates people who love them for who they are. Those who could love me despite my fortune, looks, skills and every other imperfection that amounted to my existence – for me, those people are my family. Naturally, there are things that my family members don’t know about me, but it was better for them to be oblivious in some areas.
“But didn’t you like the past me even just a bit?” he asked.
This time I kept my silence. I refuse to admit it. ‘How could you ask me that when you didn’t realise your feelings for me until I was gone?’ I thought.
“Psychopaths can’t love anyone. Isn’t that right?”
At my blunt and cold answer, he shut his mouth. His hand went up to his short hair, rubbing it. I was uncertain if he was smiling or frowning.
“It’s not like I never wanted to beat myself up in my past life. I feel like doing it now,” he whispered and looked at me with that faint smile of his. But before I could make heads or tails of it, he had changed the subject. “Did you find anything about the murder in the Underground District?”
I stared at him with wide eyes. “You went to the Underground District?”
“I just gathered some information.”
Just some information? From who? How?As he has the title of a Grand Duke, he couldn’t do such reckless things by himself. If even one person had recognized him, or worse, he was killed, it would have caused chaos! Though the Princess and the King would be happy at his demise.
I refuse to believe he went there by himself. He would have paid someone from that slum and bought the information. He won’t be foolish enough to have gone alone.
“And?” I pressed him.
“It seems like they just know how someone from the nobles was murdered and that’s why the security in the aristocratic districts have risen. I don’t think they know that the noblewoman was killed in the same manner as those prostitutes. Those capital guards wouldn’t want to share that information either,” he said.
He crossed his legs, leaned forward and folded his arms. He laid his chin on his hand as he gazed into thin air before looking at me. He was gauging my reaction; perhaps he wanted to know what I think of his hypothesis and in which direction to lead it.
“It seems like the nobles haven’t connected this murder to the ones in the Underground District, either…” I began. “It was mentioned in “One Week in Schway” but no one would believe that the murder case in the Underground District would reach the aristocrats. The people from the Underground District can’t even imagine that their murderer killed a noble either. If we go down that path, then…”
He moved his gaze towards me. “This murderer is an aristocrat,” he declared.
The murderer, an aristocrat. Could it be? Did they start killing in the Underground District and spread their hunt towards nobility? It wouldn’t be odd. People usually start killing those who are weaker than them. It was a sort of power thrill, and a test. A nobleman who started their murders from the helpless poor would be a valid guess.
“If he’s a noble, then he must have his own estate. Only through that would he be able to do those experimental murders,” I added.
“Yes, probably. That’s how he would have started: peeling off the skin of the prey and emptying them from the insides. Even without the intent to devour it, he would have enjoyed the macabre act. You can tell looking at the bodies of the prostitutes at the Underground District.”
I thought about it for a moment more and added.
“There would have been many disappearances in that estate too. We can’t consider the murders in the Underground District as the first ones. He would have started before that, with a set amount of murders. He would have moved to such a crowded place such as the Underground District only after gaining some confidence.”
“Finding out about the disappearances in each estate exceeds even my abilities. It’s not like there are only a few estates. We need a narrower condition,” he replied.
I chuckled. “A professional investigator should be able to do that. Should I think of those conditions?”
“You’re good at that. Finding small hints. Give me a clue. And I’ll look into it.” He egged on with a smile.
“I don’t know…”
There’s so much I want to tell him, but I don’t know where to start. Then he asked first. “Did Lord Aaron Warwick move to the Royal Palace? Under the Princess? What on earth is his role? A lover?”
“I think that would have been better.” I breathed out in irritation and told him about Aaron whilst shaking my head in the process. He listened to me without interrupting, frowning throughout.
“I don’t know what on earth is going on,” I finally said. “If I knew something about it, I would have already resolved that problem. Which leads me to another problem.”
He looked at me, asking me to continue. I hesitated and asked, “Have you heard of web novels?”