A.U.P - Chapter 250
C250: Each person’s choice (3)
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Arte looked as if the sky was about to collapse when his sister, Sally, disappeared. The only family left for Arte, who lost both his parents, was Sally, a good younger sister who was well-behaved.
Even when he asked the owner, he only answered that he had never seen Sally.
“Teacher, what should I do? If Sally disappears, I’ll……!”
“Calm down, Arte.”
Rudger held his collar and calmed the tearful Arte.
Arte was passionate about learning and showed an adult attitude, but he was still a child.
He was completely panicked at the news of the disappearance of her only family. The intelligence that he usually showed did not shine in the unexpected situation.
“We don’t know exactly what happened yet.”
“Think calmly. Sally is a strong child, so I’m sure she’ll be fine.”
“However, many children have disappeared these days…….”
“It’s because of an unaccountable incident. Don’t worry, I’ll check for myself.”
“Yes, you’ll find out soon enough.”
Rudger, who calmed Arte, immediately returned to his room, wrote a letter, and sent it through the fastest way possible.
‘A series of missing incidents it’s going on these days.’
Even the authorities of the Delica Kingdom were strangely lukewarm about the incident.
Since the victims were only the lower class, they were not aware of the seriousness of the situation.
“No, there’s something else.”
Unlike brave and extrovert Arte, Sally was a gentle child who was even scared when she first saw him.
Unlike her older brother who woke up late, she woke up early and laughed early, helping to clean up the store.
She had no great dream to be a great scholar but was a pure child who wanted to support her brother.
If someone kidnapped her.
“I’ll make you pay for it.”
At all costs.
* * *
The next day after sending the letter Rudger sat on a bench at a train station in the Delica Kingdom and waited for a person.
Then Hans, wearing a gentleman’s uniform and a fedora, approached Rudger and sat down.
Casey realized that Hans looked familiar.
When she first talked to Rudger on the day of the festival he was there and she also saw him passing by on Royal Street once.
“You called me out of the blue, so I rushed here. What happened?”
“Something interesting has been going on inside the Delica Kingdom lately.”
“Did you hear anything?”
Hans’ expression hardened at his words as he looked at the people walking around and said quietly to Rudger.
“Let’s go somewhere quiet. I don’t want to talk here.”
Rudger took Hans to his private office at Ordo University.
Hans whistled while looking inside the office, which was only given to professors.
“Wow. That’s great. You’re working in a place like this?”
“I didn’t turn it down because they gave it to me. For your information, I’m called Professor James Moriarty here, so don’t mistake my name.”
“I’ll do that. Rather, I will continue what I just said.”
Hans trimmed his throat and spoke quietly about what he knew.
“There has been a rumor that the movement of the Delica Kingdom is unusual recently.”
“What kind of unusual movements?”
“They are buying more iron than usual, and the factory utilization rate has risen noticeably. The military’s movement is also unusual.”
“……Are they trying to go to war?”
“I’m not sure about that. However, there is no doubt that they are trying to do something at least at the national level.”
“Recently, more and more people went missing throughout the Delica Kingdom. At first, most of them were outsiders, but now even locals have started disappearing.”
Rudger’s eyes glowed at his remark.
“Explain that in detail.”
“That’s all the information I got so I don’t know the details yet.”
“Then we’ll have to check the information properly here.”
“… … Judging from my brother’s reaction, it seems that I didn’t hear useless rumors.”
The two stood up at the same time.
“Hans, how long will it take?”
Hans pondered for a while and spread three fingers.
“I’ll need three days.”
* * *
When Hans went around collecting information, Rudger did not neglect his job as James Moriarty. However, he had different thoughts in his mind at the same time.
‘Hans said there was more than one suspicious incident.’
It was also because the police did not properly investigate when the person disappeared. At first, he thought they didn’t care because the slums, workers, and orphans disappeared but after looking around it wasn’t just that.
‘Rather, I feel like they know and avoid it.’
It was also true that there were suspicious movements on a national level. At least someone of high social standing must be involved in this.
‘Then who is it?’
High aristocrats, military generals, senators, etc.
The personal information of the main players of the Delica Kingdom quickly passed through Rudger’s head.
“What are you thinking about? You didn’t even see me coming.”
Rudger took his eyes off the paper and looked up at the wide open office door.
“As I’ve said before, you’d better make a habit of knocking first when you come in somewhere.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. The door is too big to knock.”
“It’s not something that the person who opened it loudly and came in can say.”
“It’s not something to be said by a person who focused on the thesis without hearing that loud noise, right? No, are you into something else rather than the thesis?”
Casey Selmore dragged a chair across from Rudger and sat down naturally. Her playful expression was filled with anticipation of what other conversations they would have today.
“What else are we here to chat about today?”
“It sounds like I’m interrupting the work of a famous professor.”
“You’ve seen it right. You have a very good eye.”
“It’s the basic knowledge of detectives. So what were you thinking?”
Rudger responded simply without wavering at her glance.
“I think something terrible has been happening around me lately. I was worried that students might get caught up in it.”
“It’s a terrible thing. Like… like kidnappings?”
At once, Rudger’s gaze towards Casey became sharp.
“I must have hit the nail on the head.”
“……Yes, I heard that a lot of people are disappearing these days. It’s a scary story.”
“Yes, but the police are not doing a proper search for the missing. I don’t even know if they’re willing to do it in the first place.”
“I think you know pretty well.”
“I’m chasing you.”
“You are following me?”
Casey grabbed a pen from Rudger’s desk and whirled it around.
“Because I’m a detective isn’t it natural to try to solve a suspicious case?”
“Then, isn’t there a case where you just worry about things for no reason?”
“It was like that at first, but not necessarily these days. Maybe it’s because I have solved a lot of cases, but everyone is busy praising me whenever I do something.”
Rudger recalled that the cases that Casey solved were always on the front page of the national newspaper. The mystery story of the genius detective itself was enough to draw keen attention from people.
Even so, some of her followers were seen inside Ordo University these days.
“Have you discovered anything?”
“It’s confidential. Oh, are you curious? Hmm~ There’s nothing I can’t tell you if you ask me to do it~.”
“I’m not particularly curious. You’ll take care of it.”
As Rudger took a step back, Casey pouted her lips as if she were bored.
The present Casey, who was watching the scene, opened his mouth wide.
‘Was I always that rude in the past?’
If Betty, her assistant, heard this, she would have said she was still rude, but at least Casey meant it.
Maybe it’s because she grew up, but when she saw her past self bragging like that, he almost wanted to give her a flick on her forehead.
“Is Detective Casey Selmore here?”
At that time, a new guest appeared through the open door.
He was a police officer of the Delica Kingdom, wearing a dark blue uniform, and he recognized her immediately, as if he knew Casey.
“Oh, no. I think I’ll have to go to work.”
Rudger didn’t forget to look at the policeman who came while sending Casey away.
* * *
Three days passed after Rudger wrote the letter and Hans arrived in the Delica Kingdom.
Rudger came near his accommodation in a car.
“I’ll get off here. You should go in and rest now.”
“Yes, take a good rest, professor.”
Rudger, who sent the driver away, headed to the accommodation where Arte was waiting.
For the past three days, Arte seemed to be trying to be as careful as possible, but it was obvious that he was anxious about his missing sister.
It got worse over time, so today he was going to give Arte as much good news as he could.
‘Hans will be here soon.’
With that thought, Rudger, who arrived at his usual accommodation, heard unexpected news from the owner.
‘Arte didn’t come back?’
“Well, that’s…… I’m sure it was here until we served dinner tonight.”
Rudger took a watch from his chest pocket and examined the time. It was 9pm right now so that meant that Arte disappeared around two hours ago.
“Did you tell the police?”
“Not yet. But just in case, I’m looking for them now…….”
“Okay. It won’t be a big deal, so wait here.”
“Well, where is the professor going?”
Rudger carried a cane in one hand, put a coat over his clothes and grabbed the hat he took off and put it on his head again.
“Because the weather is nice I’ll go for a night walk.”
The owner couldn’t say anything when he heard Rudger’s voice, which was quite heavy.
Hans, who was waiting for Rudger, appeared in the dark when he left the accommodation and came out to the roadside in a proper manner.
Rudger did not look back at Hans but he naturally stood next to Rudger and walked together.
The quiet street was lit with gas lamps but it was still dim due to the night fog.
“The promised three days have passed. Did you find anything?”
“When I looked into the recent disappearances there was something much bigger than I thought.”
“What have you got?”
“First of all, this incident happened. It’s not just a common crime.”
Rudger recalled the conversation he had with Hans on the first day.
“Did you say that there is some movement within the kingdom?”
“And the disappearances may be related to the movements in the kingdom.”
“Yes and so is he.”
At that moment, a steam car passed by the two people.
Inside a car that disappeared while emitting a deeper white vapor than the fog of a cloudy night was a face Rudger knew even though he changed his outfit.
“Are the police involved in the disappearances?”
“……how did you know that?”
Rudger stopped walking. Then, he answered while looking in the direction in which the steam car disappeared beyond his sight.
“I just saw it.”
The person in the car a while ago was the cop who visited Rudger’s office this afternoon to find Casey.
He was obviously a man of little suspicion. However, the man’s face has been on his mind since he saw him in the office during the day even though it was just his sixth sense and not a theory or reasoning.
Ironically, his sixth sense was right at this moment.
“Where did they drag the kidnapped people?”
“A coal mine a little way from here.”
“Really? It’ll take a while to get there. We need a ride.”
Hans looked around but couldn’t see anything.
Soon after, however, Hans realized that Rudger was staring at him and relaxed his shoulders.
“……oh, my life is like this.”
Hans took out the pre-prepared beast’s teeth and stabbed them into his wrist.