Authors note: This is my longest story, over 40,000 words, not sure where it all came from. It is finished, I will post a couple of chapters a day (real-life permitting), there are 14 chapters, not including this short prologue.

They are all in it, they all get battered. Some more than others. Aramis and d'Artagnan get the brunt of it. I did five minutes of research, then just went with my own ideas.

I hope you enjoy it.

Prologue

Poupart yawned, he stretched, rolling his shoulders a few times. Straightening up from the table he looked down at the unfortunate young woman, taken well before her time by diseases she had left herself open to with her lifestyle. A lifestyle she had probably had little choice but to take up. Selling herself to earn money. He pulled the dirty sheet back over her. No one would arrive to look for her body. She would not be missed. The men would take her in the morning, and she would be dumped in the mass grave with all the other poor and unwanted.

He sighed and wandered over to the small table at the back of the mortuary. It was late, he decided he would finish his cup of wine and retire, leaving the bodies to their eternal slumber whilst he got a few hours himself.

He reflected on the other body in the mortuary. A man in his early forties who had clearly been murdered. Stabbings were not uncommon, but the way the body had been desecrated was disturbing. Poupart did not have the time or resources to properly check each body, but he had taken a moment to look at the dead man. He had been missing internal organs, and not due to some feral cat or dog eating them. They had been cut out, neatly. Poupart took a swig of his wine and looked at the body, a mucky sheet covering it, hiding the injuries. A memory sparked at the back of his mind. He shut his eyes for a few seconds in an attempt to make whatever he had thought of fully form.

A body, and not just one, several. This was not the first victim to be brought in with injuries of the same nature.

Putting his cup of wine down, Poupart turned from the body and pulled his ledger closer to him, he flipped the pages back. His neat handwriting listed all the relevant details of each body he dealt with. There had been occasions when his ledger had proved useful, he wondered if this might be another.

He ran his finger along the columns until he found what he was looking for.

Male 30's stabbed, organs missing. Body claimed by wife and son.

The address and details of the next of kin filled the other columns. Poupart tapped the page for a few seconds before turning back another page.

Female 20's stabbed, organs missing. Unclaimed, taken for burial.

Male 50's stabbed, organs missing. Claimed by employer.

Male 20's stabbed, organs missing. Body claimed by father.

Poupart flipped back through several pages. He could not believe he had missed the connection. Every few days there was a body, sometimes two, brought to him in similar circumstances. He stopped himself from becoming too guilty by remembering there had been a particularly cold couple of weeks over the time the bodies had started to appear. He had dealt with a lot of victims of the weather. It was not surprising that he had missed the link.

But he had seen it now, and he had to report it.

MMMM

Nothing had come of the report. He had spoken to the authorities; they had taken details. The constable had appeared sympathetic, but not really interested. Poupart knew little would be done, the poor were seen as a blight by many. A few less of them was a good thing in some people's eyes. The murderer was probably doing France a favour.

Poupart shook his head at the memory of his attempt to get someone, anyone, to listen to him about the obvious serial killer. He sighed and tried to push it to the back of his mind as he folded the dirty sheets and put them to one side, ready to be used again. He moved to sit at his small table, picking up his quill, about to write up the details of the latest bodies he had taken receipt of.

The sound of people approaching made the middle-aged man look up. Another customer he suspected. People did not visit him at midnight to claim a body, only to deliver him another. The torches flickered as the door at the end of the mortuary was opened. Poupart rose from his chair and walked toward the two men who were carefully carrying a limp form between them. A second pair of men followed with a second body.

Two new arrivals. Poupart was not going to visit his bed for a while.

'Found 'em on the street,' said the first man who had entered, a swarthy man that Poupart had seen before. 'Stabbed, I think, robbery perhaps? A couple of locals pointed them out to us.'

He and his men were employed to clear the roads of dead animals and the occasional body. They lay the two dead men on tables side by side. The man gave Poupart what little detail he had. The untidy employees of the state walked off, with barely a glance back. Any pity for the deceased or their families dulled from years of working in the poorest areas of the city. People were attacked and murdered, it was part of everyday life.

'Boy,' Poupart called over his shoulder to the small lad he paid to run errands for him and generally help.

The boy, Poupart had never managed to get a name from him, uncurled himself from his tangle of blankets and pushed himself up to stand, rubbing the sleep from his eyes as he did.

'More light, and some water,' said Poupart before returning his attention to the new arrivals.

Something about the two bodies intrigued him. They were young men. Only in their early twenties, if that. On first glance, Poupart could tell they did not fit in with the area they had been found in.

They were far too clean.

Their clothes were dirty, but that would have been from lying on the street, dead or dying. Any other dirt that he could see was superficial, other than a few stains of what looked like wine. And the clothes did not look old or well worn.

The men's faces were not scarred or pockmarked, they were not weathered from days of hard labour in the sun or near a forge. A quick glance at the young men's hands told him that they had probably never worked a day in their lives. There were no calluses, their fingernails were in good condition other than the dirt that had collected under them. Poupart hated to think what the young men had done as they died, clutched at the ground or clawed at some dirty wall?

He wondered why the men had been in an area of Paris which was clearly below their station in life. Were they lovers seeking privacy in some cheap rented room, away from the disapproving gaze of society?

Poupart pushed the blond man's plain, but good quality, doublet aside. He sighed. A stab wound just by the heart. He turned his attention to the dark-haired man finding the same injury.

Both men were missing organs. Neatly cut from their bodies.

The serial killer had struck again.

But this time the killer had made the mistake of not taking the poorest of the poor. No. This time the killer had made the mistake of taking young men from wealthy backgrounds.

Poupart was sure the authorities would take note now. Now that the rich had been attacked.

MMMM