Chapter 510 A Little Game
Before he knew it, Zhang Heng had been in Victorian London for five months now.
He had gradually grown accustomed to the thick smog covering the Thames, the din and chaos of the underground fight clubs, and the Englishman’s lack for culinary imagination and creativity.
On the other hand, his skills had progressed expeditiously—his criminal investigation skills reached Lv1 three months ago and the few cosmetic lessons that he picked up later in the quest also earned him a Lv1 last month. On top of that, thanks to frequent interaction with Irene, he learned a lot about 19th-century music, literature, and arts.
‘Art appreciation’ was even added to his list of skills, though it was only at level o at the moment.
Ms. Adler was of great assistance to the oil painting case, but she never asked for any favors in return, as if she had completely forgotten about it. She treated Zhang Heng like a mate, but considering her intelligence and cunning, he never believed for a second that the incident had completely slipped her mind.
He only hoped that whatever request she was brewing wouldn’t be anything too troublesome. For now, at least, they were getting along reasonably well. Holmes, on the other hand, was a little trickier.
When they first met, Sherlock Holmes was rather gentlemanly, and although there was the occasional act of delinquency, it was nothing that put anyone in real trouble. However, as time went by, the two became like couples who had outlived their honeymoon and were gradually revealing their true selves to each other.
Holmes would often conduct all sorts of experiments in his bedroom, and other than when he snuck a corpse into the house, he nearly burnt the whole building down-Mrs. Hudson was especially miffed about this. Then there was the sensuous melody of Sherlock’s legendary violin in the wee hours of the morning, a spectacle Zhang Heng was fortunate enough to have heard…
But every time he “got into trouble,” Holmes would apologize earnestly to Zhang Heng shortly after that. Knowing Holmes as Holmes, he would then repeat the same offense the next time.
Fortunately, other than these minor frictions, life on Baker Street was a fairly pleasant one.
Zhang Heng learned more than he ever did before from Holmes-not only his method of deductions, but also all manner of recherché, amalgamated into a wealth of practical knowledge. Of course, determining the target’s direction based on shoe impressions on mud was only useful in the 19th-century. Back in the 21st-century, such an approach was ineffective with modern concerete layered cities. Although that was the case, learning all about it was in itself a very interesting experience, even more so when the pair worked on cases together.
The main objective of this game was to solve a case and find the criminal before Holmes did, though, if the plot developement matched the one in the book word for word, there would be no beating the player who knew the answer even if a hundred Sherlock Holmes were to be put together. Zhang Heng realized that at the beginning of the quest.
In fact, up until now, none of the cases they had worked on were the same as the ones in the original text. By this time, Holmes and Watson would have completed the “A Study in Scarlet” case. This never happened in this game. Zhang Heng expected this, of course, because it made perfect sense—the game would just be testing players’ familiarity with the novel if it did.
It wasn’t as if there was nothing to worry about, though. If Irene Adler had appeared, then what about Holmes’ other notorious arch enemy? Would he be appearring in this quest as well?
Enter Professor Moriarty, a man Holmes described as the Napoleon of Crime. He was the most powerful criminal mastermind in all of Europe, establishing himself as kingpin of London’s criminal empire, where half of all the crimes in the city were related to him. Descriptions of the professor in the novel were few and far between, making him one of Doyle’s more mysterious characters.
That said, he wasn’t excatly ambigious either.
In the book, Moriarty was mathematics professor at a small university in England, and was a well-known figure in academia. Surprisingly, after consulting several lecturers from the mathematics department, Zhang Heng discovered that none had ever heard of the name Moriarty. Even the professor’s acclaimed academic piece, “The Dynamics of an Asteroid ” was nowhere to be found in bookstores.
Of course, these signs alone weren’t necessarily an indication that Moriarty wouldn’t make an appearance in this game. Henceforth, Zhang Heng would remain vigilant of this criminal mastermind.
He and Holmes both didn’t know that another case was creeping upon them.
It was a lazy afternoon, and Zhang Heng and Holmes were lazing on a bench in the park, snacking on sandwiches and playing the game they had been playing a little too much recently.
Zhang Heng rested his chin on his hands as he looked at a lady with a puppy walking past. “Definitely married, at least two husbands, and has a child. Her living conditions aren’t as good as they used to be, loves jewelry but is stingy with her maids, and, in fact, has a disdian for animals. She has one only because everyone else does, and she feels pets are simply extra trouble for the maids. She smokes, enjoys the occasional drink, and has recently attended a ball.”
“Appendage—the child she gave birth to is gone!” said Holmes.
“I’m glad you noticed that she had given the candy in her pockets to the children on the street. Generally, a person who has children in the family would carry sweets on them, but if you paid attention to the way she looked at those children, you can see that within the affection, lies a hint of jealousy. To boot, she comes here every week to distribute candies to the neighboring kids. If you have a child of your own and that child is well and alive, trust me, you won’t be so caring towards other children.”
“You’re cheating. You’ve seen the target before!”
“No, it’s experience,” replied Holmes in an instant as he shook his head. “I often came to this park, so I have the relevant experience. You must know that all reasoning is based on experience. You can’t possibly expect me to abandom them when I make deductions, my oriental friend.”
“Alright, next.” Holmes pointed to a man not far from where they were seated. “Typist, has a wife, a Freemason, and has been to China. The pipe in his hand is of great importance to him, plays soccer, and was probably in the Navy in his younger days.” “I can tell that he’s been in the Navy, but the part about soccer—was it because he was observing the children play on the street?”
“Not just that. Earlier on, when the ball rolled over to his side, he gave it a respectable kick. But you didn’t see it probably because you were busy gnawing on that sandwich.”
“What about the pipe? Why would you say that it’s essential to him?”
“Oh, that’s very obvious, my friend.” Holmes smiled. “That pipe only costs six to seven shillings, but the silver hoops it had been repaired with costs more than the pipe itself. Most people would have just bought a new one.”