The Smiling Pair
Large Albert had come up in the ranks from a no one, a young lad of Albion alone in Amber and jobless thanks to the Invasion, to a First Sergeant in the Pathsmen. He was often heard to comment that, should he ever decided to return to Albion, his old friends and acquaintances would be dreadfully jealous of his accomplishments. He always followed such declarations by stating that he probably never would return since he "had it so good in Arden."
Large Albert was generally considered a smart man. Presumably, he thought that he had been doing the right thing when he helped the Steward's sister to dispose of the false Steward. It is said that he even allowed himself a smile of satisfaction as he realized that he would probably end up with a promotion.
Apparently Albert was smart enough to realize that, once Dexter had returned and denied that there had ever been a false Steward, he was in trouble. Knowing himself to be in trouble, Albert deserted the Rangers and returned to Albion.
Deciding that his best hope for anonymity lay in the working class, Albert moved to the lowly neighborhood of Whitechurch, which lay in the armpit of Albion's capital. There he tried to make a life for himself as a day laborer, but his pride was a difficult beast to bury, and he had a predilection for wetting the ground above it in spirits, thus giving it ample opportunity to rise to the surface.
It was on one such occasion, in the public house known as the Cornucopia, that Albert's claims of being an elite fighter in a far-off land were called into question by an unknown heckler. The heckler was heard to comment that Albert was "jerking the men's chains" and suggested that Albert ought to "pull the other one, for it has got bells on."
Albert called into question the manhood of the heckler and entertained the assembled men with tales of the mighty beasts he had fought in his time in Arden, including Giants and Rat-Men. Yet the heckler was not dissuaded, in fact he redoubled his efforts to call into doubt Albert's deeds. Albert grew furious at the heckler, and the two had harsh words for each other.
Although we will not go into detail insofar as the harsh words are concerned, there was one interchange between the two men that was noted for its volume and for the impression it left on a number of witnesses that night. A transcript follows:
Heckler: "Why, you are taking us all for fools now, look at ye, with your girlish arms and fae waist! I've a mind that ye've not the strength to take on a joymaid* by yerself!"
Albert: "Now this is gone too far! I'll have you know that I've killed an dozen joymaids in my time! And with none to help me about it!"
It should be noted that while the term "joymaid" refers to a magical beast with the front half of a lion and the back half of a woman which has been known to terrorize Arden, this usage is unknown in Albion, where the term means, simply, "prostitute."
Various witnesses have further gone on to recall that Albert later said something about proving himself, before downing another pint and leaving the public house. This was, of course, the night of the first Whitechurch murder.
Although all of Albion was talking about the gruesome murder, no one put the conversation in the Cornucopia together with the murders at first. Perhaps the discovery of a woman lying on church steps with her eyes where her ovaries are meant to be and vice versa was simply too much of a distraction.
The conversation was brought to the attention of the authorities a few days later, but not before the death of one Susie Long, a prostitute who was found piece by piece along two blocks of Short Street, a mere block away from the boarding house in which Large Albert resided. Long's face had been removed, but was never recovered. Bite marks, consistent with human bites, were found on her pancreas and spleen. It should be noted that small brass bells had been tied to one of her legs.
Albert was not located by the authorities until the next day. In the intervening time, a woman known in Whitechurch by the name of "Elanora," due to her resemblance to the contemporary Queen of Amber, was found brutally beaten about the face. She was the only victim found alive, although she could hardly be expected to be grateful of that fact. In addition to the beating of her face, Elanora's tongue had been ripped out and her hands removed. She never regained her eyesight or her senses, and spent the remainder of her days at the St. Alban's Home for the Insane.
Albert was taken into custody, but his cell was found empty in the night, with the bars ripped out of the window. Albert was found in the morning occupying his cell, but with blood stains all over him. The body of Kelly Marie was found that morning as well. Her mutilated body rested beneath a wall on which someone, presumably Albert, had written the word "password" in blood.
The man known as Large Albert was hanged from a tree three days later. His body was buried at a crossroads.
Felix was a happy young man who always wanted to join the Rangers. He got his wish on his seventeenth birthday by lying about his age. It was simply bad luck that he wound up being with Dexter and Large Albert the day that Dexter was ambushed by his sister.
Felix thought that the fact that he had been following orders would keep him from getting into trouble for being there, or for smiling while Dexter was being overcome via Trump.
Of course, nothing can save someone once they upset Dexter, and Felix had a sneaking suspicion that this would be the case.
Once Albert had deserted, Felix started thinking about where he'd like to die. He had always liked the beach, but didn't think that it would do him any good to make Dexter travel all that far to kill him. It would probably be best if he stayed nearby, so as not to upset him.
So Felix started asking around. Most people said they'd like to die in bed. Of course, they meant dying in bed a long way off, of old age for instance, but Felix knew that his options were running short. So he decided he'd die in bed after all.
Realizing that there was no way that he could get himself in any more trouble than he was already in, Felix snuck into his father in law's house and stole all of the old man's money. Counting it, he realized he would need more for his plan, so he went down to the church.
The local Church of the Unicorn collects alms for the poor in a strongbox on the east side of the Church. No one ever breaks into it, though. They know that stealing from the Church of the Unicorn is a good way to bring the wrath of pretty much everyone-including the Royal House of Amber-down on your head. Felix figured that a few more royals out to get him didn't matter much anyway and just smashed the poor box with an axe, running off with more than enough cash.
Felix made it to Madame Bouvier's house of ill repute down on Larksmoor street and asked to speak to Madame Bouvier. He was escorted into her chambers.
"What can I do for you, sir?" asked the voluptuous, if somewhat fading, Madame Bouvier, thinking she knew the answer.
"How much is it for, well, you know," asked Felix, who had never had the nerve to come to a place like this before, at least not one so classy.
Madame Bouvier looked him over with a trained eye and estimated his net worth down to the last dime, a feat that would have been impressive had it included his most recent theft. "For you, dear, twenty. Forty for anything,
Felix's heart jumped at the word "peculiar." He asked, "how much for, you know, the whole night?"
"For the whole night, it's a hundred and fifty even. But that's just one girl of course."
Felix never imagined that it might involve more than one girl. He dumped out the small sack he had been carrying his loot in and started counting, not even noticing the gasp from Madame Bouvier. "Um, I'll
carry the two,
I'll take two weeks please."
Felix was found dead in the arms of one extremely frightened prostitute two weeks later, on the last day he had paid for. He had been killed neatly, with just one puncture wound, and all of his blood had run off the bed away from the prostitute, leaving her immaculate.
Well, relatively speaking.