Relating to the events of February and March 1838
“The master and I returned to Ashworth’s house where a neighborhood surgeon tended to his wounds. Elias returned late that next afternoon; and early in the evening Masveh joined us upstairs. Lord Hallowstone stood up to face her. Her eyes glanced from the bandages on his hands to the limp on his right leg. He spoke first. ‘You could have been killed.’
“‘It must be destroyed.’
“‘You do not know the extent of his powers.’
“‘Nor does it mine.’
“‘He escaped – ’
“‘Impossible.’ She turned aside in anger. She was not really denying it. ‘It cannot be. He transported away. But it cannot be.’ We stared at her. She stilled herself and spoke again.
“‘You were right in your assessment that Sun Storms affect the fey. Full exposure can be lethal; but the magnetic atmosphere of the Earth protects them from the storms’ deadly effects, much as it protects your whole race. But he –’
“She looked up at the night sky, staring for a long time at the waxing crescent of the moon. ‘The storm still rages. The moon is new… How could he dare transport?’
“The master reacted to the length of her pause by cocking his head to the right and motioning with his hand. ‘You said the magnetic atmosphere protects – ’
“‘Only if he stays within it.’
“The surprise showed in our three faces simultaneously. I offered that the magnetic influence of the earth cannot be escaped, for it is felt everywhere on the planet. But the master pointed out that even if it is pervasive, it is disturbed deep within mines, the same way a ship’s compass needle can be led astray by a load of iron on board.
“Elias was the one to return our focus to the foes, specifically, to the difference between them. ‘Santiago, you said you saw Diderici disappear before your eyes, to later reappear at the cottage in the woods. The way he escaped every snare you set for him in the cities, it is clear that that man could translate himself through space at will.’
“‘But this one had not done so,’ I spoke up, ‘until yesterday.’
“‘He should not have been able to.’ Lady Masveh insisted. At our silence, she went on. ‘The Sun…’ her eyes scanned across the room as if looking for something. She was trying to formulate her response in terms we could understand. She walked over to the lamp and held her hand before it, casting shadows into the room. ‘The Sun radiates from its surface more than just light and heat. There is a… a flux, a wind, like rarefied lightning, but immense in its depth, all pervading.’
“The master interrupted her explanation to agree with its plausibility. ‘Fourier speculated that there are many more sources of energy out in space feeding our planet than just the Sun’s visible light.’
“Lady Masveh nodded and went on. ‘This flux buffets the Earth continually. Just as the Earth’s body intercepts the light and casts a shadow into the space beyond, the Earth’s magnetic atmosphere acts like a breaker in this raging sea, pushing the flow aside and creating a wake of relative quiet in its shadow.’
“She paused, the frown on her face telling us she still could not believe what had happened. When her eyes returned to Lord Hallowstone she said, ‘It is possible that the thing you called Diderici did not travel from point to point directly. He may have travelled from the surface of the Earth to another place and down again.’
“The three of us repeated the question in unison: ‘another place?’
“‘The moon,’ she said, ‘he may have had a lair on the moon.’
“‘May have had?’ The master asked.
“‘If it existed then, it might still be there.’
“‘What is this: if, may, might –? Do you or don’t you know? This evasiveness is rapidly losing its charm.’
“‘The fidelity of my sources is not guaranteed. Besides, if this Wilshire did so he would have exposed himself to the Sun Storm.’
“The master stepped across the floor, obviously reviewing the details of his memories. I could see in his face the effect of that remembrance, the anger rising. ‘This is why Diderici needed the full moon, above the horizon.’
“‘But why a full moon?’ I did not quite understand.
“‘When the moon is full, the Earth is between it and the Sun; the moon lies in the wake.’ Lord Hallowstone finished, and Masveh nodded in silence.
“‘It is then that it becomes possible to travel from the moon to the Earth, protected from this flux?’ Elias stated the conclusion we were supposed to draw.
“‘Protected to a degree,’ Lady Masveh emended. ‘But not when the Sun storms this violently; the wake is turbulent, unpredictable. And the cost of transport to his life-force should be enormous.’
“‘This is why there is a threshold above which the traverse cannot be made safely…’
“‘One hundred count?’ Lord Hallowstone asked, concluding Elias’ sentence.
“‘No! It should be much much lower,’ Masveh finished. ‘And the moon is new!’”
The look exchanged between the master and Elias was colored with incredulity. Centuries of dealing with the fey motivated the master’s reaction to this explanation. ‘You’ll have us believe that the moon is inhabited? I have heard that fey fantasy before. There are no clouds, no evidence of water, no evidence of an atmosphere. All these are consistent with the minuteness of its gravity.’
“Masveh surprised us all by answering openly his rebuttal. ‘Nothing was meant to live there. It is barren, dry and empty, as hot as fire and colder than ice.’
“‘You said the same of Hell.’
“‘No,’ I corrected him, ‘not of Hell. She said it of the prison.’
“Lady Masveh turned her face away and offered no more. Santiago would not accept that silence. ‘Is this what the Salamander meant? You imprison your murderers up there and they escape into our world? Is that how you get rid of your fey filth?’ His face was inches from hers, his voice rising. ‘You refuse to soil your hands, and we do the dirty work for you?’
“‘They are not fey!’ she spat back.
“I saw the glint of metal as of a blade turning within her cloak. I reached for my master’s shoulder, ‘that that only sees itself,’ I said. He backed off; Masveh hissed and turned aside.
“Elias spoke a word to her; she retreated farther and then he joined us, close enough to speak in whispers. ‘Demons.’
“‘I do not believe in demons or angels.’
“‘Yet they exist, the Shed, the Sa’yr.’
“‘With the power ascribed to angels,’ the master faced Elias squarely, ‘explain: How has mankind survived?’
“That statement was obviously an echo from an argument those two had shared long ago. The frustration in Elias’ brow only showed momentarily. ‘I do not have an answer for you. But this I know, the lie I find myself pursuing and eradicating century after century was not invented by the fey. They are not the source of my people’s corruption. They are not the origin of their persecution, regardless of the human agents you claim supply the funding.’ He looked at Masveh. ‘Obviously, she faces the same enemy we do, even if she will not admit it.’ We looked on her in silence. She turned away.
“There were no more attacks by Spring-heeled Jack the rest of that week. I started carrying the book with me, examining it on every free occasion, bothered by the Ethiopian prince’s observation that the number 12 figured prominently in the text. I wondered if there was still information about the Abramelin spells somehow encoded within the nonsense of the remaining sections.
“In the meantime a disturbing pattern was emerging throughout London. The exploits of Spring-heeled Jack were being imitated. On the first of March a genteelly-dressed man called at the White Lion pub in Vere Street and calmly told the landlady that he was Spring-heeled Jack. Pulling a club out of his cloak, he aimed a vicious blow at the woman. He missed and the men around him restrained him.
“A couple of days later, a man in a cloak grabbed a woman in Lincoln’s-Inn-Fields and slapped her face. Elsewhere a blacksmith named Priest was apprehended in Islington after assaulting several women. In the second week of March, two tall men in black cloaks with faces smeared with ochre scared a boy in Westmoreland-mews; and a youth named Granville was caught in Kentish Town masked like the Jack, with blue glazed paper over the mask’s mouth to suggest the blue flame. In the Kilburn area, a James Painter was fined £4 for dressing as a phantom in a sheet and a bearded mask, and terrorizing the neighborhood.
“By the 11th of March, a full moon reigning in the sky, the agents we had sent to interview the architects and engineers hired by the businessmen had returned. With the aid of Lady Masveh they found files of designs, drawings, and building instructions that proved right our conjecture that Crosse’s equipment was being replicated somewhere. But none of the men involved could remember having contributed to that work. Masveh found in their minds the same tell tale noise that plagued the witnesses of the attack at Alsop’s.
“As we examined the drawings, we noticed that Masveh had segregated them into two stacks.
“I looked on. ‘We will have to interview every construction firm in London.’ It seemed to me the only avenue left to us, ‘suppliers of lumber, nails, window glass…’
“The master stopped me with a raise of his hand. One of the drawings in the second stack had caught his attention. He examined it again. It was a design for a large brass dome. ‘There was no such thing in Crosse’s house.’ He said.
“‘No.’ A solemn Masveh assented.
“‘To make such a casting would take an expert foundry. Try the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. Do not bother asking questions. Just inspect the delivery records.’ They waited till evening and then Elias went with two of our men.
“Around 10 o’clock a knock at Ashworth’s door brought a shocking and unexpected sight. Neville Wilshire, in torn clothes and badly beaten, was leaning on the door frame, muttering. ‘Help me, please, help me.’ Knives drawn, Lady Masveh stepped forward. The master held her back.
Worthington shook his head at that memory, “Doctor, you must wonder why we would yet trust the man. Perhaps we hoped that the Jack had just stolen his likeness. Perhaps in spite of all we had seen and done, compassion was still our first instinct. Whatever the reason, we allowed Ashworth’s house staff to bring the man to a couch and tend to him while a circle of our men held their rifles trained on him.
“He accepted a cup of water from the servant boy, and started to speak in a halting voice. He sketched for us a nightmarish tale of being lured by the minions of a dark sect – of witnessing horrid things unable to turn away. From that time, his life had become a series of disconnected episodes or lifetimes as he called them. Sometimes he felt like an observer, standing outside someone else’s lurid fantasy. At other times he knew he was in control. But even then, he felt a constant presence beside him, a voice only a whisper away. He had a recurring dream of being bound to a frigid altar table in a surgery. Among the horrors repeated on him was the memory of having his skull cut open and a crystalline fire poured inside his brain. The round scar formerly covered by make-up was now clearly visible on his forehead attesting to the reality of that nightmare.
“One by one, each of us suddenly realized how his words had drawn us in into seeing those images, disgusting, terrifying, but without eliciting aversion; we had not flinched. We had been entranced by the power of his voice. None of us had noticed how his face had changed during the telling, until it was too late. In the middle of a phrase he smiled broadly and drew something out of his coat and slipped it over his head. It was a glass spectacled mask on a tightly fitting helmet; and its effect was immediate.
“It dealt our bodies a shock, like the discharge of a Leyden jar, instantly followed by a droning, like of a giant beehive, numbing our ears. Our eyes burned and scratched as if they had been filled with sand… our tongues swelled, every joint felt like jelly. But the worst was the realization that all sensation of our bodies ceased when he spoke, and his words became everything.
“As I fell, I saw that the master had reached the fireplace and was holding himself up, clinging to the bricks on its edge, a knife in one hand and a poker from the fire in the other. Lady Masveh had collapsed by his side.
“Wilshire stood calmly. ‘That surgery was not a dream,’ he said. ‘Oh, the terror was real that first night. But the second and third time I asked for it.’ He then noticed the book on the floor beside me and picked it up. ‘A good copy,’ he said in that overwhelming voice, ‘don’t you agree?’ He smiled in mockery down at me. ‘I have the original. I finally understand what the voice has been saying all along. Why he had me do all this… I thought I needed their experts to translate it –’ He laughed at his own ignorance. ‘All along, it was so simple: Terror opens the eyes.’
“He walked over to Lord Hallowstone and grasped the iron tool in his hand. At first the master would not relinquish it. But the droning grew into such a roar that he had to let go. ‘You will be next,’ he told him. And he raised the iron to plunge it into Masveh’s heart.
“Just then a pair of feet soared over me followed by the sweep of that unmistakable cloak. Elias fell upon the man and crashed him through a table. In the brief instant in which he tried to grasp what was happening in that room, the Jack sprung back to his feet, snatched the knife from the master’s hand and sliced clean through Elias’ throat. The burst of blood drew a streak across the wall and splashed on my face. But Elias did not fall.
“Blood pouring down his chest, he stepped on, drew a short sword from the back of his belt, and whipped his hand forward, striking the Jack across the right temple. Without breaking stride, he struck again on the same side, carving clean through the mask; and advancing again he dealt another pair of blows to his left ear and jaw. The mask fell in pieces to the floor and we were all suddenly free.
“Wilshire stumbled back, his wounds glowing, his eyes flashing in terror; but then he reacted. He leapt over us, landed at the feet of the boy, grabbed him by the arm, and disappeared in a blast. Masveh missed him by a fraction of a second, her knives sliced through empty air. ‘No!’ that word was more a snarl than a scream.
“Spinning around toward Elias, her ire came under control as soon as she saw he was unharmed. He was standing by the master, sweeping ashes from his clothes and the wall.
“Santiago and Masveh picked up pieces of the Jack’s mask from the floor simultaneously.
“‘An amplifier’. She tossed it aside.
“‘Is this how he confused the witnesses at Alsop’s and initiated a plague of imitators?’
“Masveh did not reply, instead her anger flared again as her eyes met his. ‘You let him in. There are laws that they cannot break. Their kind cannot enter human property unless invited in by voice or dream. You should have let me kill him.’
“The master turned to me with a composure that forced me to focus, ‘How many women has the Jack attacked?’
“‘Eleven,’ I replied, immediately.
“‘And the boy makes twelve,’ he answered my unspoken question. ‘Twelve, not men; you said it yourself.’
“‘Terror opens the eyes,’ I repeated the Jacks’ words.
“Lady Masveh glanced out at the night, ‘The women have all been taken.’ Her words sent our men racing. Within minutes they had confirmed her assertion. The Alsop and Scales households had just been raided.
“She went on. ‘He has taken them to his lair.’ Looking at the master again, she went on. ‘And it is not the Moon.’ There was again ambivalence in her face, a combination of rage directed at the monster and an instinctive reluctance to confide in humanity.
“Elias drew near her. ‘Masveh, you must tell us.’
“‘He has discovered the key that unlocks the book’s spell. It is terror, human terror.’
“‘The meaningless words the women uttered after the nightmares that assailed them in February –’ The master looked questioningly into Masveh’s eyes.
“‘The human brain,’ she nodded, ‘is malleable’. Turning her face to the wall, as if she could see through it, she waved her hand in the direction of Bluegates Field. ‘You don’t realize it. It is not your body that gets accustomed to the pleasures of the opium dens or the intoxication of laudanum. It is your brain. Those chemicals poison your brain and physically alter it.
“‘But fear… terror, intense rage, unbridled lust; they all have a similar effect, especially when reinforced by habit and repetition.’ She faced us again. ‘This is why the manipulation of the human psyche by fey is forbidden under penalty of oblivion.’ She turned to Elias. ‘This is why I exist.’
“‘The human brain –?’
“‘Is the gateway to the human soul,’ she answered the master’s unfinished question. ‘And the human soul has powers that you do not suspect.’
“‘Somehow within those terrified minds,’ Elias understood, ‘is the power to translate the text, unlock the spell.’
“‘And the time is at hand.’ She listened to something in the night.
“Masveh’s comment terminated my obsession with the number twelve, and allowed my mind to see another number that had been lingering in the back of my consciousness ever since I started reading the book again. I gave voice to the realization that confirmed her words. ‘It is 18 months to the day from the time of the first appearance of this creature.’
“The urgency of the rescue became magnified.
“‘We know where he is.’ Elias unfolded a piece of paper: ‘the address where that dome was taken; delivered but a month ago.’
“‘We attack then,’ it was Lady Masveh that gave that command. ‘Arm yourselves with weapons of iron and silver.’
“We glanced from her to the master. They eyed each other for a moment, and then he told us, ‘What are you waiting for?’
“‘Elias,’ Masveh turned to him, ‘you know what to do.’ With a short bow at her he ran into the night. ‘Campeador,’ again to the master, ‘you are with me. Fernando, you and your men will surround the building. Pay special attention to any doors or windows around the back. They always enter through the back.’ We bowed to her, nodded to the master, and started to gather our equipment.
“From the open door, the master spoke: ‘If he is like Diderici, like the others, he will have the advantage in a full moon.’
“‘We will have help.’ Masveh assured him. ‘Take me to a gunnery or the nearest metal works.’ The master sheathed his knives, tucked a gun to the back of his belt, and with a nod commanded me to take the rest of his weapons.