As the lights flashed outside in the darkness of the Slums, one singular figure rested himself with his back towards a window. Sitting with his butt clenched and grasping the left side of his exposed abdomen, the man cautiously peeked out the window, being extremely careful not to alert anyone of his presence in the building. Gasping heavily for air, the black-haired man began to hyperventilate. However, since he was trying to conceal himself, he covered his mouth with his free hand to prevent anyone from hearing his breaths.
‘FUCK IT ALL!!! How did I get discovered?! Argh!’
Mentally screaming out curses, he suddenly felt a throbbing pain coming from the left of his stomach. Looking downwards, he saw the bandage, which had long turned brown from age, starting to come loose, revealing a gruesome puncture. The injury was still in a state of recovery, but due to inadequate treatment, it was unable to heal at a faster rate.
Adding the fact that the man was under severe stress, and was without access to clean water, the wound had started to become mouldy. The man really wanted to shout out in agony, but he did his best to prevent the voice from leaving his throat.
‘Fuck it! Fuck it! FUCK IT!!! It’s all because of that fucking fat piece of shit!’
As he persisted through the hardships he was facing, a picture of a round man with a full goatee appeared in his mind. He hated the man so much that if he could kill him again, he would personally enter hell to drag the man out. But no matter how much he cursed, he was still unable to bring back a dead man.
‘I can’t stay here anymore… I need to find an opening to escape…’
Gritting his yellow, rotten teeth, the man stood up from his position and entered the nearby bathroom to hide. He had to plan his escape thoroughly. He was surrounded by at least thirty highly trained constables and judging from the scale of the operation, the constable captain might be personally leading them.
He had faith that with his Rank 27 Spirit Core cultivation level, he would be able to easily escape the weaker constables. But if he were up against the juggernaut that was the constable captain, he was unsure if his concealment ability would work. His mind raced as he recalled every single nook and cranny of the dwelling, hoping to find the optimal escape path. But as he looked up, he saw something.
In the bathroom, there was a small broken mirror mounted onto the bathroom door. The glass was hardly at optimal levels of cleanliness with greasy fingerprints scattered all over the rectangular surface. However, through all the dirt and dust, the man could somewhat make out his reflection.
His gorgeous bright, brown hair had turned pale with numerous strands of white popping out. Touching his face, he cringed as the blisters and boils caused him pain when disturbed. His fingers and teeth had turned brownish-yellow in colour, indicating that he was infected to the bone. As he saw the state that he was in, he could not help but shed a single tear.
Funnily enough, he could not afford to waste his tears. Thus, he used his rancid tongue to lick the drop of water on his face. It was his first taste of water in days.
‘Why has it come to this?!’
Beating his chest, the man tried to get his feelings in check. He was once someone with a future. Someone that could live with his head up high and his chest stuck out. Seeing that everything had hit rock bottom for him, the man found his emotions hard to bear.
“The first floor clear! Search the second floor!”
But he could not afford to wallow in sorrow. The constables were gaining in on his position. If he remained stationary, he would be like a chicken on a chopping block.
‘Time to move!’
Gathering up his mana, the damaged man prepared himself to use his spiritual abilities.
“Where is he?”
After five minutes, Lewis entered the building once he had ensured that there were no routes of escape. Giving a cursory glance, he could still see that the constables were still frantically searching the ground floor and he could hear hurried footsteps on the second floor. Arcing his mouth downwards into a frown, the clunky man raised his eyebrows and asked a question, fully aware of what the answer was.
“We have not found him yet, sir!”
The constable officer marched over and saluted Lewis. Giving a status report, he filled in the constable captain on their progress.
“Keep searching! Damn it, the fact that I can’t feel his presence makes me uneasy… I want every single corner of every room searched! Bring down the furniture if you have to!”
Barking orders at the unfortunate officer, Lewis stomped his way up to the third floor. The dwelling had only three levels. As someone who was hiding from law enforcement, it was common sense to find a high vantage point so that he could be on the lookout for threats. The wooden stairway that had decayed over the years without maintenance creaked in agony as Lewis placed all his weight ascending them.
Careful not to fall through the stairwell, Lewis slowly reached the top floor. As he was climbing, he made sure to check every opened room and even sent a little of his spiritual sense. However, no matter how hard he looked, he could not find traces of a person.
On the top floor, about five constables were busy at work, breaking down doors and overturning furniture. One junior constable saw Lewis enter and immediately dropped his work and saluted the superior. Once one constable did so, the rest of them on the level did the same.
“Enough with that! Continue with the search!”
With his hands behind his back, Lewis entered the room closest to the staircase. It looked like a simple room in an abandoned building, shards of broken glass dispersed all around the floor, rats scurrying about, minding their own business. And with the faded paint and broken floorboards, it seemed that no one could have possibly spent any amount of time living in this putrid location.
Gradually, Lewis scanned the room, trying to ensure that he did not miss a single clue. Sniffing his nose, the veteran constable attempted to identify if there were any form of human odour. Squatting downwards, he tried to find any sort of footprints or fingerprints. And then, something caught his eye.
Near the window, against the wall, three drops of fluids were of a different colour to the dark brown walls. It was a subtle difference, requiring a trained eye to identify. Drawing closer to the window, Lewis went to his knees and got a whiff of the mysterious drops of liquids.
‘As expected, blood… It’s also fresh.’
A triumphant smile crept up the round face of the constable captain. Initially, they had been tipped off that someone resembling the Watkin murderer was seen lurking in the Slums. Lewis was unsure if they should follow the lead but as it turned out, the gamble actually paid off.
‘But if he was here, where is he now?’
Getting up from his kneeling position, Lewis made the assumption that the murderer had been close by. Finding possible ways of escape, Lewis entered the bathroom which door had been pried open by the junior constables. A pungent, disgusting smell enveloped his sensory organs the moment he set foot in the lavatory.
Bearing with the stench, Lewis checked for any further clues. The first thing he noticed was the unlocked window that was opened up wide. Sticking his head out, Lewis was able to see his subordinates stationed around the building, with curious onlookers making small glances to see what the commotion was about.
And then, he saw it…
To his right, there was a wooden pillar that started from the floor and reached the ceiling of the building. And on that pillar, he was able to spot a significant amount of oily fingerprints.
“DAMN IT!!! HE RAN?!”
Bellowing out in frustration, he made the conjecture that the felon he was chasing had made his escape by climbing down the pillar that he was looking at.
“Sir, what happened?”
Running into the room after hearing his shouts, the constable officer asked his boss.
“Are you guys blind?! He moved out this window!!! Shit!!! The fact that he can move down without getting noticed by the people outside means his concealment ability is much stronger than we anticipated! I want all men to cover the streets! Search the sewers if you have to! Don’t let that bastard get away this time!”
In a fit of rage, Lewis summoned out his Emerald Jade Sword and sent a surge of mana crashing towards the window. Breaking down the wall, Lewis leapt down from the third floor and nimbly landed on the ground floor, without messing up the grass.
The constables in the building marched out in a frenzy to follow their superior’s instructions. Vacating the empty building, the constable officer ordered four junior constables to stay and monitor the dwellings as he chased after Lewis.
As more and more constables left the area, the commotion died down, and the bystanders dispersed. After fifteen minutes, in the same bathroom that Lewis found the fingerprints, a slight thud could be heard.
From the ceiling, a hidden door slammed open revealing a bony man, who was desperately trying to catch his breath. Climbing out of the secret compartment he had built, the man hurriedly made his way down the broken wall. Utilising his Spirit, the Blorgte Chameleon, he merged with the Spirit to turn himself invisible.
Before he had chosen this building to seek refuge, the Watkin murderer had laid down a multitude of getaway plans, just in case he was exposed. Thankfully, one of his plans managed to trick the constable captain, giving him the space to make his escape.
Leaving behind the building that he had spent nearly a dozen days in, the man cautiously faded into the crowd, trying his best to avoid detection. Once the constables that were surrounding him had primarily dispersed, the man found a wall to rest on and clutched onto his wound.
‘I can’t die now! Not yet…’
Affirming his will to live, the man slowly slogged his way to his second place of refuge.