Stage 4 - ROE
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- 04. THE RED LAMB
- Highly-intelligent serial killers, especially those who kill for pleasure, often share certain common traits. Some leave their signature at the crime scene, like our "Vampire". Some take and collect souvenirs from their victims, and there is usually something in common with this souvenir as well. The notorious serial killer- Ed Gein, for example, skinned his female victims and collected their internal organs.
- I had struggled to find a connection between Vera's necklace, Teddy's eyes and Erin's thumbs. Joseph's off-hand remark provided the missing piece of the puzzle.
- Vera's necklace had a red pendant.
- Teddy's eyes were red from albinism.
- Erin's thumbs were painted with red nail polish.
- Other than Erin, the other two evidently "willingly" gave something red for the killer's collection. I could not imagine what kind of master hypnotist could convince one to gouge out one's own eyes, or cut off one's own thumbs to one's killer. And I dared not think about how much they suffered before they died.
- There was only one thing I could do - find the killer before he found more victims.
- But if sixty years in this world had taught me anything, it was that wishes rarely come true. The whole station was practically up around the clock, and yet we could find no clue to the ghost-like killer - not even a single hair.
- We sent out an advisory warning residents against leaving their homes at night, to lock their doors and windows, be guarded for any strangers, and to avoid wearing red items.
- It was futile. Humans had too much on them that was red.
- Joseph and I stood in the foothills north of Whitestone town. A woman had lost half of her red hair - and her life.
- Vines tied her lifeless body to the trunk of a cedar tree, her hands holding her belly. The organs inside her belly were laid on the snow, frozen solid. Inside her belly, a dead lamb was stuffed into her eviscerated stomach.
- The vines stretched from her body to the organs on the ground. Bright flowers bloomed near them. I did not even know these plants existed in the north. Half of the woman's long curly hair lay on her chest, gleaming warmly in the sun. The other half had been ripped from her head with the scalp, leaving only the white bones of her skull underneath.
- Joseph had evidently been hardened by the recent ordeals. After recording the scene, he approached the victim and tried to identify her face.
- "Jenny," he said, "oh my god, it's Jenny."
- "You knew her?" "
- "Yeah. She was sort of a frequent guest to the station, mostly for stuff like drug possession and petty crimes, nothing that would have ended up on your desk. She was easy to remember because of her bright red hair. "
- As we continued our investigation, we learned that Jenny lived in Valley town. She had a troubled childhood - when her parents divorced, neither were willing to take custody of her and both left Dione, leaving her in the care of her aging grandmother. After dropping out of high school, Jenny began to hang out with the local punks.
- Jenny's grandmother was old and suffering from advanced Alzheimer's. The news did not draw any reaction from her empty gaze. She simply sat wordless on her lounger, staring blankly at the wall in front of her.
- We were about to leave empty-handed when her caretaker walked in with the old lady's lunch. She came over every day to care of the old lady, leaving at noon to buy lunch, then returning to stay until the old lady went to bed at night. We eagerly asked her about last night, but the answer was a disappointing one.
- "She hasn't been home for a long time. Or at least, not any time between 8am and 10pm." Her tone was not exactly cordial. "What trouble has she gotten herself into this time? "
- Joseph exchanged a quick glance with me, then turned back towards the caretaker. "She was murdered last night. When was the last time you saw her? "
- Surprise flashed across the caretaker's face. Annoyance quickly gave way to sadness and she answered in a low voice, "I'm sorry to hear that. Let me think...it was about two weeks ago. She came back at around noon and was digging through closets and cupboards for money. When I told her to stop stealing from her grandma, she shoved me and jumped on the backseat of some guy's motorbike. That was the last time I saw her. "
- "Do you know anything about her friends? Like the guy on that bike? "
- "No, they're just a bunch of punks and troublemakers..." Something seemed to come to her mind. "Oh, there was a boy...Weber, if I remember correctly, and I think he works at the Alvitr Circus."
- The circus was just packing up as we arrived at Alvitr Castle. I looked at my watch. This was strange - the show should be just about to start.
- Joseph stopped a young man pulling at a rope and asked.
- "It's Ymir, sir. The observatory's warning has escalated twice and the boss was worried about what it would do to turnout, not to mention all our stuff. We're packing up and leaving."
- "Leaving where?"
- "Leaving Dione, sir."
- "Do you know someone by the name of Weber?" I showed him a photo. "Or this woman, Jenny?"
- The young man took a look at the photo and answered, "Jenny is Weber's girl. But I heard they split up recently. You want me to get Weber for you? He's taking stuff down in the tent."
- I declined the offer and went into the largest tent with Joseph. A young man with black hair was on a scaffold working on taking down the set. He would soon learn of the death of his girlfriend - or ex-girlfriend, as it may be.
- Weber had been crying nonstop for three full minutes. Joseph tried to console him, but he was so beside himself that he could not put together a coherent sentence.
- Meanwhile, I was thinking of something else. Young, strong, agile. The way he climbed up and down that scaffold showed outstanding athleticism. If he could fake a foreign accent too, we certainly had our prime suspect.
- "I shouldn't have said that to her...oh god, why…" Weber sobbed and stuttered to god-knows-who, "I shouldn't have told her to get lost, shouldn't have smashed her statue. She might be alive if she was still with me..."
- "Wait a second." I interrupted him. "Statue? What statue? "
- "It's, you know, something those nutters at Bluepeak town gave her." Joseph handed Weber a tissue and Weber took it. "I don't know when he got involved with those people. We had a huge fight over this, because she listened to them and aborted our baby. Said it was an offering to their glorious king. "
- "She was pregnant?"
- "Yes. Four months - the baby was barely formed! God..." Weber started crying again. "I told her that while I didn't have the money now, I'll work hard once she gave birth so that she'll have a warm home. But she trusted those nutjobs more than she trusted me..."
- I thought about the dead lamb in Jenny's belly. The acquaintance theory started gaining legs again. There was no connection between Jenny and the other three victims. Could this have been the work of an imitator? As much as we try to keep the case under wraps, journalists always manage to find something for their stories. And no story has been hotter than the "Vampire Killer" in these parts lately. It was not beyond the realm of imagination for someone to imitate the killer.
- As genuine as Weber's tears looked, we looked into his whereabouts the day Jenny was killed, as well as the dates of the other murders. His alibi was impeccable. In particular, the day Jenny was killed he had been out drinking all night with his pals, drowning his sorrows at their break-up in alcohol.
- All evidence pointed to the cult of Bluepeak town, and Gilbert found himself in our interrogation room once again.
- He looked at Jenny's photo with an impassive expression. "Ah, Jenny. Gifted girl. Very responsive to the Teachings. "
- A furious Joseph slammed his fist on the desk. "Did you make her abort her child?"
- Gilbert looked at him with a puzzled look. "No one can make a mother do something so cruel, not me, not anyone else. Jenny's fetus was stillborn. All I did was suggest that she offer the poor child who never had the chance to see to world to our Glorious King. That way, his soul will always be with our lord in all His glory."
- "Bullshit. If it was stillborn, why didn't she tell her boyfriend?"
- Gilbert smirked. "The man who beat Jenny whenever he got drunk? I'd bet he had something to do with the stillbirth, if not the beatings, then the booze. Yes, I 'made' her, if that's how you want to put it. I abetted her, instigated her, told her to leave the side of the Devil. Poor girl. She never knew love, giving herself up in body and heart to those who did not deserve them, just to earn a little pity. But it is exactly people like her who invite those who only want to take advantage of her, taking her even further away from the love that she sought. "
- Joseph was speechless. Gilbert had a way of making you listen to him, even if you did not want to. After a little pause, Joseph asked in a low voice, "Is this all true?"
- "The Prophet never lies." Gilbert answered in his laid-back manner. "When my followers brought the lost lamb to the flock she was bruised and wounded in body and soul. She did not know where she could find peace and salvation. All I did was to extend my hand. She had the stillborn child removed and told us she had finally resolved to leave Weber and serve the Glorious King with all her heart. She said there was something she had to get, and never returned...."
- "She was murdered," I said.
- "Poor girl. Did you arrest Weber? "
- "It wasn't Weber." I shook my head. "Another victim of the serial killer."
- "Ymir is coming." Gilbert remark came completely out of left field.
- Joseph, who up to this point had been overwhelmed by all the information, awoke from his reverie and asked, "What did you say?"
- "Ymir." Gilbert's expression remains impassive. "The Glorious King shall wash the world of sin. All crime and cruelty shall be punished, and all the suffering souls of the world shall find salvation. The blizzard will take all and leave only silence; a world of nothing but pure white. "
- I sneered, "The only thing that punishes crime is the law. You're not in the clear yet, Gilbert."
- "We'll cooperate fully with your investigation, 'sir'."
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