Seeds of Despair (Tales of the Gothic Warrior Book 2)

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For this, the First promised to make John suffer unprecedented torment in Hell when he dies. Slowly dying from cancer, John hatched a plan to save himself from eternal torment. He secretly sold his soul to the other two Lords of Hell. When they discovered Constantine's actions they realized that they could not allow him to die, or else they would be forced to go to all-out war over his soul, a war whose only winner would be "the Lord of the Hosts," i.

Smashwords – Seeds of Despair – a book by Billy Wong

They were also far too stubborn and proud, however, to enter anything resembling an alliance. As a result, they were forced to cure John of his cancer. Constantine then went on to have a series of adventures and misadventures playing the role of puppet and puppeteer with his signature style and profane sarcasm. He managed to free Astra and every other child in Hell, but at the cost of the First returning to power; also, as part of the scheme, John's worst attributes were given separate existence as "Demon Constantine" which meant he himself could not go to Hell.

As part of an attempt to regain his nastier edge, he used Ellie , and this led to her taking out a revenge scheme in that forced him to turn to the First for help; Ellie ended up in Hell and several of John's oldest friends left him. John, being tired of all this, contacted God. John then tells him his reason for contacting Him.

He warns God that if his soul is ever sent to Hell, he would easily take over, and do nasty things such as unleashing the demons and locking away Hell so that the damned cannot enter and have no resting place. John blackmails God to do his bidding, and that's to keep his soul away from Hell. God, knowing of John's abilities, does so. But warns him of what will come next. On return to Britain in and after reconciling with his sister who believed he was dead , he went on to be involved in a magic war in London and was horrified to find his niece Gemma, whom he'd wanted to keep out of this life, had become a witch.

He soon ended up organising a counterstrike against a creature known as the Shadow Dog, having been warned of its coming and believing it was an entity that brought death and madness; instead, it was a guardian against the true enemy, the Beast, who was manipulating John into giving it free access to humanity. In the process, he was rendered an amnesiac, leaving him vulnerable to the schemes of the demon Rosacarnis.

To get his memories back, he had to spend a day in her service, in which she had him father three demonic children, who went on to massacre anyone who knew Constantine, from friends to enemies to people who'd only briefly met him. This forced Constantine to go on journey to Hell in the hopes to return his sister's soul. Accompanying him was Nergal, the demon he thought he had killed by sending him to the border of Heaven. While in Hell, John and Nergal met the demon Constantine, who tried to kill the original one.

John was forced to let Nergal enter his body in order to finish him. Later they also encountered Ellie, who seemed to have quite pardoned John for him selling her out to the First. She was not subject to any torture or punishment, either. The couple finally arrived at Rosacarnis' hall, where there was a feast with all three of Constantine's children, the First, and many demons from all Hell.

Because of Nergal's earlier possession of his body, any damage done to John would be mirrored on Nergal. Nergal, however, calls the bluff, showing that the effect goes both ways by clawing at his chest slightly. John begs Rosacarnis to kill him to save his sister, but just as she's about to, the First of the Fallen intervenes and immediately kills Rosacarnis, since Constantine's soul is his by "right of insult" and will only be taken when he deems fit. The First also kills Rosacarnis' two sons, but spares the daughter, who had been dealing with issues of identity and had doubts about whether she wanted to continue to exist.

Following this, the First commands Nergal to release the soul he's holding. Cheryl's soul is pure and innocent and does not belong in Hell, but the First offers her a truly devilish deal. Informing her that her husband, Constantine's brother-in-law Tony, has killed himself with her blood still staining his hands, thus making him twice damned, and offering to fairly divide her husband's punishment between the two of them if she stays of her own free will.

Constantine attempts in vain to argue that Tony murdered her and does not deserve that mercy. Despite all that has happened, Cheryl still loves her husband enough to accept the First's deal and decides to stay. Constantine can do nothing as the First gloats over his victory and then sends him back home. Unable to look at his niece Gemma's tear-filled eyes because of his failure, Constantine runs barefoot down the stairs and into the Liverpool night.

John later revisits Ravenscar Asylum, the place where he was thrown after being framed for Astra's murder. John remembers all the maltreatment he suffered, and remembers every suffering and guilt he had for the past years. At first it appears as though it is too much for him and that he will be overtaken by the images of the ones he has hurt, but the being turns into the form of a baby. This baby, who is the sum of all his guilt and self-hatred, is then promptly thrown off a cliff near the asylum and into the sea.

After killing the creature, Constantine is now free, and becomes even a bit more cocky and picks back up his earlier style from the beginning of his book and his appearances from Swamp Thing: a double-breasted blue suit underneath his trench coat, and slicked-back gelled hair. Later on, a Sudanese shaman who had first bound the hunger demon Mnemoth [29] has been having dreams of Constantine and a war-mage named Mako who is coming to kill him and devour his being. The reason that Constantine is a specific target of the war-mage is because he is "The Laughing Magician" who is also known as "The Constant One.

To counter this attack to come, the African magus puts a dream of his into a tree root, with Constantine's true nature in those dreams. After doing this a young man is sent as a messenger to find John and deliver the message. Constantine later notices that something is wrong on the synchronicity lines and it seems that he is going head first against the traffic. Remembering that Mako mentioned Ravenscar when he found out about Constantine, he tries to summon his unborn brother, but instead is summoned to his brother. The soul of Constantine's brother tells John that he was not to be born and that it should have been he who had been born instead, as he is the Laughing Magician, he requests that he and John merge their souls so that they become one and can fix the world, they had previously attempted this but John was apparently too strong willed.

John then makes the link that it was the soul of his unborn brother that caused him to get cancer and for his relationships to fail, and that anytime he tried to take control of his life, something bad would happen to make John weaker, so that the souls might be able to merge. After realizing this, John cuts the soul of his brother out of his own soul, so that he can control his life and live his way. In the s, John entangles himself in further adventures. He goes to India and fights a ghost of a British soldier of the Sepoy rebellion, [40] fights a Babylonian shape shifter named Julian, gets his thumb cut off to contact Shade: The Changing Man , marrying a young girl named Epiphany Greaves who was also the daughter of an infamous gangster, [41] looking for his lost trench coat that his niece sold, finding his sister's long lost son named Finn, and finally getting his sister's soul from Hell.

By , John was contacted by the Three Fates , who tell him that he will finally die in five days. Having lived a good and adventurous life, John happily accepts his fate rather than trying to fight it like he always does. When the 5th day came, John Constantine was murdered in his own home when he was ambushed and killed by a gangster. His funeral was attended by many of his friends and family. But it later turns out that he had faked his death yet again.

Constantine decides he should keep a low profile, because he doesn't want to hurt the people around him again. He bids farewell with Finn and Epiphany, and finally visits Gemma. In the meanwhile, Gemma, hearing about her uncle's return from the Fates, tries to kill herself with a poisonous revolver, but Constantine sneaks the last remaining dart from his niece.

Gemma says her life will be better without him, because he takes up too much of it and she is either hating him or loving him too much. John suggests he leave her be, but Gemma fears he will return and put her life to misery.

Tales of the Gothic Warrior, no. 2

John tells Gemma to make her own decision, and she reluctantly points the revolver at him. Gemma closes her eyes before muttering, "Damn you, John Constantine. The last scene shows Constantine in the Long Journey's End bar, holding a glass of liquor with a vacant look. During the gap where he travels the world to learn magic, the New 52 added the history of him meeting Nick Necro, who was implied to be John's mentor and original owner of the trench coat. The Forever Evil: Blight storyline would establish that the three characters were all involved in a magical pact and a love triangle, which fell apart due to Zatanna ending her relationship with Nick to pursue John.

Nick states "We were all in love, and you two shut me out! He is still an unsavory trickster in the New 52 universe, as, while during the Trinity War between the three Justice Leagues, he tries to trick Shazam year-old Billy Batson so that he can steal his magic.

He fails, causing Billy to become even more distrustful of other people than he already was. In Constantine 14, it was revealed that John Constantine, as a boy, was taught and cast his first magical spell—at the cost of the lives of his parents and his house burning down it was implied that his mother, unlike in Hellblazer , survived the childbirth.

It was also revealed that he spent his childhood in the '80s in Liverpool, England it is not shown if he had any sibling, like Cheryl Constantine in Hellblazer. Together with his allies Papa Midnite , the psychic mage Spellbinder, and a witch called Julia Everheart, Constantine attempts to destroy the Cult by conspiring a scam to take Sargon and Tannarak by surprise.

However, prior to the planned battle, Constantine is thrown into the battlefield in Dar es Salaam in World War I because of a ritual going wrong, making his plan ultimately fail. An encounter with Doctor Occult there results in Constantine being transported to Earth-2 - a world dying under siege from Darkseid and his army of Parademons. In Earth-2, he is assaulted by the Parademons, but Wotan comes and rescues him, before trapping him to open a gateway to escape the dying Earth.

Constantine manages to convince Wotan to spare his life, then works with the ancient sorcerer to open a door through his body to Earth As Wotan enters the doorway, he is split into two halves, because there are two John Constantines in this world: the original Constantine and the native one of Earth-2, who is surrounded by his friends and even gets married.

After the death of Wotan, Constantine resolves to find his Earth-2 counterpart. He travels to Liverpool and witnesses all the horror and despair of the dying world. As soon as John reached the destination, he is shocked to find his "parents" actually the Earth-2 John's parents , his friends Gary Lester, Chas Chandler and his former love interest Maureen still alive. The Earth-2 John quickly attacks him by grabbing him in the neck, but they are engulfed in visions of their lives in parallel right after: a dangerous life marred with sorcery, adventures and regrets of Earth-0 John and a much quieter, much happier life of Earth-2 John.

Constantine quickly earns the trust of the Earth-2 family, who consider him to be a wonder. Together, they escape to a warehouse where John instructs them to draw sigils to cast a complex spell. As John is lecturing about the unpredictability and the price of magic, Doctor Fate appears in front of his eyes, claims to have foreseen his arrival and offers to help him.

Doctor Fate reminds John of an incoming horde of Parademons and tells him to quickly cast the spell to escape from the dying world, himself hoping to flee with John and the family too. John discovers that the spell requires one Constantine dies: either himself or the Earth-2 John. As the Parademons storm in and take each family member down one by one, John is torn over between saving his own life and let the good, honest Earth-2 John live by sacrificing himself. Finally, he chooses to save his own skin: as he is kissing the other John, he holds his hand and drives the knife into his heart, ultimately kills the "other John".

As the spells start working, John casts an additional spell to trick Doctor Fate, which masks his presence from the ancient sorcerer, then departs, brings along the family members and many other people. By killing the "proper" Constantine, he earns the wrath and hatred of the Earth-2 family. Being called "Devil", John corrects the family when they reach Heaven while peeling through the layers of the dying world: Heaven itself, also under assault from Darkseid's force, has closed its door and started departing, deems this world beyond salvation.

Later, John and his entourage are attacked by Doctor Fate, who manages to detect Constantine's whereabout. Despite succeeding in countering the assault, John loses his "mother" Mary-Anne, who is dragged back by Fate's chain. This greatly traumatizes Thomas Constantine, John's father, who even attempts to commit suicide, but is talked out of it by John. After a long and hard trip, Constantine finally makes it back home, but Darkseid has sensed him and is in hot pursuit. As the menacing hand of the Apokolips God is reaching to him, Constantine enacts his "last trick": by sacrificing some souls of his entourage, John manages to get enough power to cast the "Ring of Dolus" spell, which uses every happy memories, every pleasant thought, every piece of hope in John Constantine to swirl a magical "web" made of lies.

This powerful spell helps John projecting an illusion of an already dead universe to fool Darkseid, while John manages to bring himself, the family and the Earth-2 civilians to safety - he even pickpockets some survivors back from Darkseid's clutch. As Constantine lands in the Jurassic Coast, England, he is confronted by Thomas, who points a gun at his head. Tired of everything, John yells at his father, begs him to kill him off for good. Unable to do it, Thomas drops his gun, but Maureen quickly puts it up and prepares to shoot John while questioning his actions.

John contemplates and sees that he is no hero, but he is the only one willing to sacrifice "proper John" to save his family, or trade a hundred people for the safety of six billion. He magically teleports away, leaves the family and the survivors behind. Later, John goes back to New York and visits his old friend Lloyd at his bar to tell him about his latest adventures. The Constantine Futures End tie-in tells the story of John Constantine five years into a possible future of the New 52 universe.

He somehow obtains the ultimate occult artifact, the Helmet of Fate, and manages to trick and kill the ancient magician Nabu with the help of an old ifrit. John Constantine's origin in the New 52 universe is seemingly retconned in the Secret Origins series. In the story, a group of kids in Liverpool manages to get their hands on an occult book and uses it to summon a magical creature called Legendbreaker to discover Constantine's true origin. Instead, the creature tells three conflicting stories: one featuring John's mother dead in childbirth, leaving him to his abusive father; another have John Constantine being born in a loving family with proud and doting parents; the last one is a John born in an unremarkable family, but his older sister is mad and probably possessed by a dark force.

They all lead to the death of his entire family and set the path for John Constantine into the world of magic, to the fateful incident in Newcastle, albeit the actions and consequences are different. The creature tries to claim the souls of the young "mystics", but the real John Constantine shows up and chases it away. He tells the kids to go back home, forget what has just happened, and his true origins will forever remain unknown - but it does not matter. The title introduces John in a new outfit and new hairstyle, in his own adventures, unrelated to superheroes business.

Constantine uses magic to trick a cashier in a clothes store and gets himself a new suit. He pickpockets a passengers, uses the money to buy a meal in a small restaurant and gets acquainted to its owner Oliver, a single father of two daughters. As John is busy chatting and flirting with Oliver, an old "friend", the demon Blythe, pulls John away and convinces him to help them solve their problems in their latest business place, a soul farm.

They want John to eliminate their business partner, which John completes, and he also cons Blythe to banish herself back to Hell. Suddenly, John sees his entire ghost entourage, and Gary Lester's ghost - who has tried to warn him since the beginning - tells him that Frank North's spirit had vanished completely, and something had been after John's ghosts. John tries to set up a scheme to lure and trap the entity which had been after his ghosts, by ramping up quite a number of ghosts from 'haunted sites'. The plan fails and Gary Lester's ghost is also taken by the being.

After a few flashbacks and meeting with an old acquaintance named Georgie, John begins to unravel the true identity of the ghost-hunting entity, as his and Georgie's old time lover, Veronica. After releasing Veronica's soul, Constantine starts to notice and is also warned by other beings whom he deems as 'friends' the increasing number of supernatural activities in New York city. Being part of Neron's grand scheme, John manages to con after quite a bit of struggle Neron into thinking the souls he had claim to be worthless, and leaves New York city for good.

Albeit the cost of Oliver's soul which Blythe had claimed by previously blackmailing the latter and John with the souls of his daughters. In "The Hellblazer: Rebirth", John gets back to London to remove the curse placed upon him originally shown in Constantine 3, which makes him physically sick whenever he sets foot on London soil and resumes his adventures in the new DC rebirth-initiative The Hellblazer. The series restores many of the traditional aspects of the original Hellblazer run while still remaining firmly in the larger DC Universe, restoring his original backstory and featuring old allies such as Chas, Mercury and Swamp Thing.

John Constantine returns to England and is greeted by his old time friend, Chas Chandler, at the airport. He resolves to dispel the curse, set on him by a demon called "Laughing Boy" whom he once crossed in the past, by using a ritual that deflect the curse from him to 8 million souls in London. Shazam and Wonder Woman make an appearance - they notice the ravens in London dying and prepare to intervene, while Swamp Thing appears before them and tells them that they should trust Constantine on this one. The "Laughing Boy" demon tells John that he will return Astra's soul if John agrees to cancel his spell.

However, it turns out that John is buying time for the psychic Mercury, who is now a young woman, to arrive and tell him the real name of "Laughing Boy" Nybbas. John takes control of the demon, cancels the curse and London returns to normal. In the past, the djinn have tried to hide away the secret of their existence from human. The name of Hamilcar von Sehestedt was at that time famous all over Europe.

He had been made a Cardinal three years before, when he was only seventy. He was a strange flower upon the old solid wood of the Sehestedt family tree. An old noble race of the province had lived for many hundred years for nothing but wars and their land, to produce him. The one remarkable thing about them was that they had stuck, through many trials, to the ancient Roman Catholic faith of the land. They had no mobility of spirit to change what they had once got into their heads.

The Cardinal had nine brothers and sisters, none of whom had shown any evidences of a spiritual life. It was as if some slowly gathered and quite unused store of intellectuality in the tribe had come out in this one child of it. Perhaps a woman, imported from outside, had dropped a thought into the blood of it before becoming altogether a Sehestedt, or some idea in a book had impressed itself upon a young boy before he had been taught that books and ideas mean nothing, and all this had mounted up.

The extraordinary talents of young Hamilcar had been recognized, not by his own people, but by his tutor, who had been tutor to the Crown Prince of Denmark himself. He succeeded in taking the boy off to Paris and Rome. Here this new light of genius suddenly flared up in a clear blaze, impossible to ignore. There existed a tale of how the Pope himself, after the young priest had been presented to him, had seen in a dream how this youth had been set apart by providence to bring back the great Protestant countries under the Holy See.

Still, the church had tried the young man severely, distrustful of many of the ideas and powers in him, of his visionary gift, and of the most striking feature of his nature: an immense capacity for pity which embraced not only the sinful and miserable but seemed to turn even toward the high and holy of the world.

Their severity did not hurt him; obedience was in his nature. To his great power of imagination he joined a deep love of law and order. Perhaps in the end these two sides of his nature came to the same thing: to him everything seemed possible, and equally likely to fall in with the beautiful and harmonious scheme of things. The Pope himself, later, said of him: "If, after the destruction of our present world, I were to charge one human being with the construction of a new world, the only person whom I would trust with this work would be my young Hamilcar. The young Cardinal, after the church had handled him, came out a man of the world in the old sense of the word, but in a new and greater proportion.

He moved with the same ease and grace amongst kings and outcasts. He had been sent to the missionary monasteries of Mexico, and had had great influence with the Indian and half-caste tribes there. One thing about him impressed the world everywhere: wherever he went, it was believed of him that he could work miracles. At the time of his stay in Norderney the hardened and heavy coast people took to thinking strange things of him.

After the flood it was said by many that he had been seen to walk upon the waves. He may have felt handicapped in this feat, for he was nearly killed at the very start of events. When the fishermen from the hamlet, as the flood came on, ran to his assistance, they found his cottage already half a ruin.

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In the fall of it the man Kasparson had been killed. The Cardinal himself was badly wounded, and wore, all during his rescue work, a long, blood-stained bandage wound about his head. In spite of this the old man worked all day with undaunted courage with the ruined people. The money that he had had with him he gave over to them. It was the first contribution to the funds which were afterward collected for the sufferers from all over Europe. Much greater still was the effect of his presence amongst them. He showed good knowledge of steering a boat.

They did not believe that any vessel holding him could go down. On his command they rowed straight in amongst fallen buildings, and the women jumped into the boats from the house roofs, their children in their arms. From time to time he spoke to them in a strong and clear voice, quoting to them the book of Job.

Once or twice, when the boat, hit by heavy floating timbers, came near to capsizing, he rose and held out his hand, and as if he had a magic power of balance, the boat steadied itself. Near a farmhouse a chained dog, on the top of its kennel, over which the sea was washing, pulled at its chain and howled, and seemed to have gone mad with fear. As one of the men tried to take hold of it, it bit him.

The old Cardinal, turning the boat a little, spoke to the dog and loosened its chain. The dog sprang into the boat. Whining, it squeezed itself against the old man's legs, and would not leave him. Many peasant households had been saved before anybody thought of the bath. This was strange, as the rich and gay life out there had played a big part in the minds of the population. But in the hour of danger old ties of blood and life were stronger than the new fascination.

At the baths they would have light boats for pleasure trips, but few people who knew how to maneuver them. It was not till noon that the heavier boats were sent out, advancing fathom-high over the promenade. The place where the boats unloaded, on their return landward, was a windmill which, built on a low slope and a half-circular bastion of big stones, gave them access to lay to. From the other side of it you could somehow move on by road.

Here, at a distance, horses and carts had been brought up. The mill itself made a good landmark, her tall wings standing up, hard and grim, a tumbledown big black cross against a tawny sky. A crowd of people was collected here waiting for the boats. As they came in from the baths for the first time there were no tears of welcome and reunion, for these people they carried, luxuriously dressed even in their panic, with heavy caskets on their knees, were strangers. The last boat brought news that there were still, out at Norderney, four or five persons for whom no place had been found in the boat.

The tired boatmen looked at one another. They knew the tide and high sea out there, and they thought: We will not go. Cardinal Hamilcar was standing in a group of women and children, with his back to the men, but as if he could read their hardening faces and hearts he became silent. He turned and looked at the newly arrived party. Even he seemed to tarry. Below the white bandages his eyes rested on them with a singular, a mysterious expression. He had not eaten all day; now he asked for something to drink, and they brought him a jug of the spirits of the province. Turning once more toward the water he said quietly, Eh bien.

Allons, allons. The words were strange to the peasants, for they were terms used by the coachmen of the nobility, trained abroad, for their teams of four horses. As he walked down to the boat, and the people from the bath dispersed before him, some of the ladies suddenly and wildly clapped their hands. They meant no harm. Knowing heroism only from the stage, they gave it the stage's applause. But the old man whom they applauded stopped under it for a moment. He bowed his head a little, with an exquisite irony, in the manner of a hero upon the stage.

His limbs were so stiff that he had to be supported and lifted into the boat. It was not till late on Thursday afternoon that the boat was again on its way back. A dead darkness had all day been lying upon the wide landscape. As far as the eye reached, what had been an undulating range of land was now nothing but an immense gray plane, alarmingly alive. Nothing seemed to be firm.

To the crushed hearts of the men rowing over their cornfields and meadows, this movableness of what had been their foundation and foothold was unbearable, and they turned their eyes away from it. The clouds hung low upon the water. The small boat, moving heavily, seemed to be advancing upon a narrow horizontal course, squeezed in between the mass of weight below and what appeared to be a mass of weight above it. The four people lately rescued from the ruins of Norderney sat, white as corpses, in the stern. The first of them was old Miss Nat-og-Dag, a maiden lady of great wealth, the last of the old illustrious race which carried arms two-parted in black and white, and whose name meant "Night and Day.

She had with her a girl of sixteen, the Countess Calypso von Platen Hallermund, the niece of the scholar and poet of that name. These two ladies, although they behaved in the midst of danger with great self-control, gave nevertheless that impression of wildness which, within a peaceful age and society, only the vanishing and decaying aristocracy can afford to maintain. To the rescuing party it was as if they had taken into the boat two tigresses, one old and one young, the cub quite wild, the old one only the more dangerous for having the appearance of being tamed.

Neither of them was in the least afraid. While we are young the idea of death or failure is intolerable to us; even the possibility of ridicule we cannot bear. But we have also an unconquerable faith in our own stars, and in the impossibility of anything venturing to go against us. As we grow old we slowly come to believe that everything will turn out badly for us, and that failure is in the nature of things; but then we do not much mind what happens to us one way or the other. In this way a balance is obtained.

Miss Malin Nat-og-Dag, while perfectly indifferent to what should become of her, was also, because of the derangement of her mind, joining, to this advantage of her age, the privilege of youth, that simple and arrogant optimism which takes for granted that nothing can go wrong with it. It is even doubtful whether she believed that she could die. The girl of sixteen, pressed close to her, her dusky tresses loosened and blown about her, was taking in everything around her with ecstasy: the faces of her companions, the movements of the boat, the terrible, dull-brownish hue of the water below her, and was imagining herself to be a great divinity of the sea.

The fourth was Miss Malin's maid, who lay in the bottom of the boat, too terrified to lift her face from the knees of her mistress. These four people, so lately snatched out of the jaws of death, had not yet escaped his hold. As their boat, on its way landward, passed at a little distance the scattered buildings of a farm, of which only the roofs and upper parts of the walls appeared above the water, they caught sight of human beings making signs to them from the loft of one of these buildings.

The peasant boatmen were surprised, for they were certain that a barge had been sent to this place earlier in the day. Under the commanding glances of young Calypso, who had caught sight of children amongst the castaways, they changed their direction, and with difficulty approached the house. As they were drawing near, a small granary, of which only the roof was visible, suddenly gave in, fell, and disappeared noiselessly before their eyes. For a moment he tried to follow the dispersing bits of wreckage with his eyes.

Then he sat down again, very pale. The boat grated along the wall of the farmhouse and at last found a holdfast in a projecting beam, which made it possible for them to communicate with the people in the hayloft. They found there two women, one old and one young, a boy of sixteen, and two small children, and learned that they had been visited by the rescuing barge about three hours before.

But they had profited by it only to send off their cow and calf, and a small collection of poor farm goods, heroically remaining themselves with the rising waters around them. The old woman had even been offered a place in the barge, with the animals, but she had refused to leave her daughter and grandchildren. The boat could not possibly hold an additional load of five persons, and it had to be decided quickly who of the passengers should change places with the family of the farmhouse.

Those who were left in the loft would have to remain there till the boat could return. Since it was already growing dark, and there was no chance of bringing a boat along until dawn, this would mean a wait of six or seven hours. The question was whether the house would hold out for so long. The Cardinal, rising up in his fluttering dark cloak, said that he would stay in the loft. At these words the people in the boat were thrown into dark despair. They were afraid to come back without him. The boatmen let go their hold on the oars, laid their hands on him, and implored him to stay with them.

But he would hear nothing, and explained to them that he would be as much in the hand of God here as anywhere else, even though perhaps under a different finger, and that it might have been for this that he had been sent out on this last journey.


  1. Tales of the Gothic Warrior, no. 2.
  2. Regency Rakes.
  3. with an introduction by Dorothy Canfield.
  4. Advances and Technical Standards in Neurosurgery: Volume 12.
  5. Tales of Horror.
  6. Index to the catalogue of books in the Bates Hall of the Public Library of the city of Boston;

They saw that they could do nothing with him, and resigned themselves to their fate. Miss Malin then quickly pronounced herself determined to keep him company in the hayloft, and the girl would not leave her old friend. At the last moment Miss Malin's maid cried out that she would not leave her mistress, and the men were already lifting her from the bottom of the boat when her mistress cast upon her the sort of glance by which you judge whether a person is likely to make a satisfactory fourth at a game of cards.

Besides, you are probably in the family way, and so must hold onto futurity, my poor girl. Good night, Mariechen. It was not easy for the women to get from the boat into the loft. Miss Malin, though, was thin and strong, and the men lifted her and placed her in the doorway as one would plant a scarecrow in a field.

The small and light girl followed her as lithely as a cat. The black dog, on seeing the Cardinal leave the boat, whined loudly and suddenly jumped from the rail to the loft, and the young girl hauled it in. It was now high time for the peasant family to get into the boat, but they would not go before they had, loudly weeping, kissed the hands of their relievers and piled blessings upon them. The old woman insisted on handing over to them a small stable lantern with a couple of spare tallow candles, a jug of water, and a keg of gin, together with a loaf of the hard black bread which the peasants of the Westerlands make.

The men in the boat shoved off, and in a moment a belt of brown water lay between the house and the boat. From the door of the hayloft the derelicts watched the boat withdraw, very slowly, for it was heavily laden, across the heaving plane. The branches of tall poplars near the house floated upon the surface of the water and were washed about violently with it.

The dark sky, which all day had lain like a leaden lid upon the world, suddenly colored deep down in the west, as if the lid had been lifted a little there, to a flaming red that was reflected in the sea below. All faces in the boat were turned toward the loft, and when they were nearly out of sight they lifted their arms in a farewell greeting. The Cardinal, standing in the doorway of the loft, solemnly raised his arms to them in a blessing.

Miss Malin waved a little handkerchief. Soon the boat, fading from their sight, became one with the sea and the air. As if they had been four marionettes, pulled by the same wire, the four people turned their faces to one another. Miss Malin, always inclined toward a bright view of things, found herself satisfied with her partners. The Cardinal gave expression to these thoughts. The old man stood for a little while in deep silence, as if it took him time to get used again to the steadiness of a house, after a day spent in boats upon the restless seas, and to an atmosphere of comparative quiet after long hours of incessant danger--for nothing was likely to happen here at the moment--to get used, also, after his work with the broken-hearted peasants and fishermen around him, to the company of his equals.

Slowly his manner changed from that of a commander to that of a convive. He smiled at his companions. I am looking forward to what hours I shall, under the favor of God, spend with you here. Madame," he said to Miss Malin, "I am not surprised at your gallantry, for I know about your race. It was a Nat-og-Dag who, at Warberg, when the King's horse was shot under him, jumped from his own horse and handed it to the King, with the words: 'To the King, my horse; to the enemy, my life; to the Lord, my soul.

Here," he said, looking around him at the loft, "I may say it: Blessed are the pure in blood, for they shall see" He paused, reflecting upon his theme. For this moment here, for us, our fathers were brought up, through the centuries, in skill of arms and loyalty to their king; and our mothers, in virtue. He could have said nothing which would better have strengthened and inspired the hearts of the women, who were both fierce devils in racial pride.

Nevertheless he said nothing. They closed the door of the loft, but as it was hanging loose, and kept knocking about, the Cardinal asked the women if they could not find something with which to tie it fast. The girl felt for the ribbon which had tied her hair, but it had blown away. Miss Malin then gracefully lifted her petticoat and took off a long garter, embroidered with rosebuds.

On that account the sister of this ribbon, which is now being sanctified by your holy hand, lies in the vault of the Royal Mausoleum of Stuttgart. Pray do not talk or think in that way. Nothing sanctifies, nothing, indeed, is sanctified, except by the play of the Lord, which is alone divine. You speak like a person who would pronounce half of the notes of the scale--say, do , re and mi --to be sacred, but fa , sol , la , and si to be only profane, while, Madame, no one of the notes is sacred in itself, and it is the music, which can be made out of them, which is alone divine.

If your garter be sanctified by my feeble old hand, so is my hand by your fine silk garter. The lion lies in wait for the antelope at the ford, and the antelope is sanctified by the lion, as is the lion by the antelope, for the play of the Lord is divine. Not the bishop, or the knight, or the powerful castle is sacred in itself, but the game of chess is a noble game, and therein the knight is sanctified by the bishop, as the bishop by the queen. Neither would it be an advantage if the bishop were ambitious to acquire the higher virtues of the queen, or the castle, those of the bishop.

So are we sanctified when the hand of the Lord moves us to where he wants us to be. Here he may be about to play a fine game with us, and in that game I shall be sanctified by you, as you by any of us. When the door of the loft was closed, the place became dark, but the little lantern on the floor shed a gentle light.

The loft looked like a home to the hearts of the derelicts. It was as if they had lived here a long time. The farmers had lately harvested their hay, and half the loft was stacked with it. It smelled very sweet and made a clean and soft seat. The Cardinal, who was very tired, soon sank down into it, his long cloak spread around him on the floor.

Contemporary Women's Gothic Fiction

Miss Malin faced him from the opposite side of the lantern. The young girl sat next to her, her legs crossed, like a small oriental idol. The boy, when at last he sat down with them, took a seat upon a ladder which lay on the floor, and which raised him a little above the others. The dog kept close to the Cardinal. Sitting up, its ears back, from time to time it seemed, in a deep movement, to swallow its fear and loneliness. In these positions the party remained for most of the night. Indeed, the Cardinal and Miss Malin kept theirs, as will be heard, until the first light of dawn.

All their shadows, thrown away in a circle from the center of the stable lamp, reached up to the rafters under the roof. In the course of the night it often seemed as if it were these long shadows which were really alive, and which kept up the spirit and the talk of the gathering, behind the exhausted people. As we want to feel like this tonight, I pray that you will be our hostess, and transfer your talents to this loft. Miss Malin at once fell in with his suggestion and took command of the place.

Some people manage to loll upon a throne; Miss Malin, on the contrary, sat in the hay as upon one of those tabourets which are amongst the privileges of duchesses.

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She made Jonathan cut up the bread and hand it around, and to her companions, who had had no food all day, the hard black crusts held the fragrance of the cornfields. In the course of the night she and the Cardinal, who were old and faint, drank between them most of the gin in the keg. The two young people did not touch it. She had, straight away, more than she had asked for in the task of making her companions comfortable, for hardly had the Cardinal spoken when he fell down in a dead faint.

The women, who dared not loosen the bandages around his head, sprinkled them with water out of the jar. When he first recovered he stared wildly at them, and put his hands to his head, but as he regained consciousness he gently apologized for the trouble he had given them, adding that he had had a fatiguing day. He seemed, however, somehow changed after his recovery, as if weaker than before, and, as if handing some of his leadership and responsibility to Miss Malin, he kept close to her.

It has been said that she was a little off her head. Still, to the people who knew her well, it sometimes seemed open to doubt whether she was not mad by her own choice, or from some caprice of hers, for she was a capricious woman. Neither had she always been mad. She had even been a woman of great sense, who studied philosophy, and held human passions in scorn.

If Miss Malin had now been given the choice of returning to her former reasonable state, and had been capable of realizing the meaning of the offer, she might have declined it on the ground that you have in reality more fun out of life when a little off your head. Miss Malin was now a rich woman, but she had not always been that, either. She had grown up an orphan girl in the house of rich relations.

Her proud old name she had always had, also her very proud big nose. She had been brought up by a pious governess, of the sect of the Hernhuten, who thought much of female virtue. In those days a woman's being had one center of gravity, and life was simpler to her on this account than it has been later on.

Indeed, the higher a young woman could drive up the price individually, the greater was her state of holiness, and it was far better that it should be said of her that for her sake many men had been made unhappy, than that she should have made many men happy.

Miss Malin, urged on by her disposition as well as her education, ran amuck a little in her relation to the doctrine. She took the line, not only of defense, but of a most audacious offensive. Fantastical by nature, she saw no reason for temperance, and drove up her price fantastically high. In fact, in regard to the high valuation of her own body she became the victim of a kind of megalomania. Sigrid the Haughty, the ancient Queen of Norway, summoned to her all her suitors amongst the minor kings of the country, and then put fire to the house and burned them all up, declaring that in this way she would teach the petty kings of Norway to come and woo her.

Malin might have done the same with an equally good conscience. She had taken to heart what her governess had read her out of the Bible, that "whoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath already committed adultery with her in his heart," and she had made herself the female counterpart of the conscientious young male of the Gospel. A man's desire for her was to her, as probably to Queen Sigrid, a deadly impertinence, and as grave an offense as an attempted rape. She showed but little feminine esprit de corps , and appeared not to consider in the least that it would have been hard on the honest young women in general if the principle had been carried through, since their whole field of action lay between the two ideas, and, by amalgamating them, you would put as quick an end to their activity as you would to that of a concertina player by folding up the concertina and hooking its two end pieces together.

She cut a slightly pathetic figure, as do all people who, in this world, take the words of Scripture au pied de la lettre. But she did not at all mind what sort of figure she cut. In her youth, however, this fanatical virgin cut no mean figure in society, for she was highly talented and brilliant.

Though not beautiful, she had the higher gift of seeming so, and in society she played the part of a belle when far lovelier women were left unattended. The homage that she received she took as the natural tribute to a Nat-og-Dag, and she was not insensitive to flatteries which concerned her spirit and courage, or her rare gifts for music and dancing. She even chose her friends mostly amongst men, and thought women a little stupid.

But she was at the same time ever on the outlook, like a fighting bull for a red cloth, or a crusader for the sign of the half-moon, for any sign of the eye of lust, in order to annihilate the owner without pity. Yet Miss Malin had not escaped the common fate of human beings. She had her romance.

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When she was twenty-seven, already an old maid, she decided to marry after all. In this position she felt like a very tall bitch surrounded by small yapping lap dogs. She was still prepared to burn up the petty kings who might come to woo her, but she picked out her choice. So did Queen Sigrid, who swooped down on the Christian hero, Olav Trygveson, and in the saga can be read the tragic outcome of the meeting of these two proud hearts.

Malin, for her part, picked out Prince Ernest Theodore of Anhalt. This young man was the idol of his time. Of the highest birth and enormously rich, since his mother had been a grand duchess of Russia, he was also handsome as an angel, a bel-esprit , and a lion of Judah as a soldier. He had even a noble heart, and no frivolity in his nature, so that when, to the right and left of him, fair women died from love of him, he grieved.

With all this he was an observer; he saw things. One day he saw Miss Malin, and for some time saw little else. This young man had obtained everything in life--and women in particular--too cheaply. Beauty, talents, charm, virtue had been his for the lifting of his little finger. About Miss Malin there was nothing striking but the price. That this thin, big-nosed, penniless girl, two years older than he, would demand not only his princely name and a full share in his brilliant future, but also his prostrate adoration, his life-long fidelity, and subjection in life and death and could be had for nothing less,--this impressed the young Prince.

Some people have an unconquerable love of riddles. They may have the chance of listening to plain sense, or to such wisdom as explains life; but no, they must go and work their brains over a riddle, just because they do not understand what it means. That the solution is most likely silly in itself makes no difference to those possessed by this particular passion. Prince Ernest had this mentality, and, even from his childhood, would sit for days lost in riddles and puzzles--a pastime which, in his case, was taken as a proof of high intellectuality.

When, therefore, he found this hard nut to crack, the more easily solved beauties faded before his eyes. So nervous was Prince Ernest about this first risk of refusal which he had taken in his life--and God knows whether he most dreaded or coveted it--that he did not propose to Malin Nat-og-Dag until the very last evening before he was to depart for the war. A fortnight later he was killed upon the battle field of Jena, and he was clasping in his hand a small gold locket with a curl of fair hair in it. Many lovely blondes found comfort in the thought of this locket. None knew that amongst all the riches of silken tresses that had weighed him down, only this lock from an old maid's head had been to him a wing feather of a Walkyrie, lifting him from the ground.

If Malin had been a Roman Catholic she would have gone into a nunnery after the battle of Jena, to save, if not her soul, at least her self-respect, for, say what you will, no maiden makes such a brilliant match as she who becomes the bride of the Lord. But being a good Protestant, with a leaning toward the teachings of the Hernhuten, she just took up her cross and carried it gallantly.

That nobody in the world knew of her tragedy fell in well with her opinion of other people, namely, that they never did know anything of any importance. She gave up all thought of marriage. At the age of fifty she came unexpectedly into a very great fortune. There were people who understood her so little as to believe that it was this that went to her head and caused there the confounding of fact and fantasy. It was not so. She would not have been in the least upset by finding herself in possession of the treasures of the Grand Turk.

What changed her was what changes all women at fifty: the transfer from the active service of life--with a pension or the honors of war, as the case may be--to the mere passive state of a looker-on. A weight fell away from her; she flew up to a higher perch and cackled a little. Her fortune helped her only in so far as it provided the puff of air under her wings that enabled her to fly a little higher and cackle a little louder, although it also did away with all criticism from her surroundings. In her laughter of liberation there certainly was a little madness.


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This madness took, as already said, the curious form of a firm faith in a past of colossal licentiousness. She believed herself to have been the grand courtesan of her time, if not the great whore of the Revelation. She took her fortune, her house, and her jewels as the wages of sin, collected in her long career of falls, and because of this she was extremely generous with her money, considering that what had been frivolously gathered must be frivolously spent. She could not open her mouth without referring to her days of debauchery. Even Prince Ernest Theodore, the chaste young lover whom she had refused even a parting kiss, figured in her waxwork collection as a victim of her siren's arts and ferocity.

It is doubtful whether any spectacle can be enjoyed in the same way by those people who may, after all, run a risk of becoming part of it and by those who are by circumstance entirely cut off from any such possibility. The Emperor of Rome himself might, after a particularly exciting show, see the trident and the net in a nightmare.

But the Vestal Virgins would lie on their marble couches and, with the knowledge of connoisseurs, go over every detail in the fight, and imagine themselves in the place of their favorite gladiator. In the same way it is unlikely that even the most pious old lady would attend the trial and burning of a witch with quite the untroubled mind of the male audience around the stake. No young woman could, even from a nun's cell, have thrown herself into the imaginary excesses of Miss Malin without fear and trembling. But the old woman, who had seen to her safety, could dive down into any abyss of corruption with the grace of a crested grebe.

Faithful by nature, she stuck to the point of view of her youth with regard to the Gospel's words concerning adultery. She had the word of the Bible for it that a multitude of young men had indeed committed it with her. But she resolutely turned them inside out, as a woman will a frock the colors of which have disappointed her by fading.

She was the catoptric image of the great repenting sinner whose sins are made white as wool, and was here taking a genuine pleasure in dyeing the pretty lamb's wool of her life in sundry fierce dyes. In all her fantasies she was her own heroine, and she ran through the spheres of the seven deadly sins with the ecstasy of a little boy who gallops through the great races of the world upon his rocking-horse. No danger could possibly put fear into her, nor any anguish of conscience spoil her peace.

If there was one person of whom she spoke with contempt it was the Mary Magdalene of the Gospel, who could no better carry the burden of her sweet sins than to retire to the desert of Libya in the company of a skull. She herself carried the weight of hers with the skill of an athlete, and was up to playing a graceful game of bilboquet with it.

Her face itself changed under her great spiritual revolution, and at the time when other women resort to rouge and belladonna, her lenience with human weakness produced in her a heightened color and sweet brilliancy of eye. She was nearer to being a pretty woman than she had ever been before.

Like a witch she had always looked, but in her second childhood her appearance had more of the wicked fairy of the children's tales than of the Medusa, the revenging angel with her flaming sword who had held her own against Prince Ernest. She had preserved her elfin leanness and lightness, and as for her skill as a dancer, she might still be the belle of any great ball. The little cloven hoof beneath was now daintily gilded, like that of Esmeralda's goat itself. It was in this glow of mild madness and second youth that she now sat, marooned in the hayloft of the peasant's barn, conversing vivaciously with the Cardinal Hamilcar.

When the ladies of the court came to him to have their portraits painted--for he was much sought by such fair women who wanted their beauty immortalized--how many times have I not heard him tell them: 'Wash your faces, Mesdames. Take the powder, rouge, and kohl off them. For if you will paint your faces yourselves I cannot paint you. It has seemed to me that this is what the Lord is continually telling the too weak and vain mortals: 'Wash your faces.

For if you will do the painting of them yourselves, laying on humility and renunciation, charity and chastity one inch thick, I can do nothing about them. But we will seek comfort in the thought that there is no higher honor or happiness for us than this: to have our portraits painted by the hand of the Lord. That alone is what we have ever longed for and named immortality. Seeing that the face of the speaker was covered with blood-stained bandages, Miss Malin was about to make a remark, but she restrained herself, for she did not know what lasting disfigurements of a noble presence they might conceal.

The Cardinal understood her thought and expressed it with a smile. But have we not been taught of the cleansing power of blood? Madame, I know now that it is stronger even than we thought. And perhaps my face needed it. Who, but the Lord, knows what rouge and powder I have put on it in the course of seventy years? Verily, Madame, in these bandages I feel that I am nearer to posing for my portrait by him than I ever have been before. Miss Malin blushed slightly at being detected in a lack of tact, and nimbly put back the conversation a little, as one sets back a clock.

But as to this divine portrait of me, which is, I suppose, to be hung in the galleries of heaven, when I myself am dead and gone--allow me to say, My Lord, that here my ideas differ from yours a little. I have seen the master himself strike the face of a great French painter with a badger's-hair brush full of cadmium, because they disagreed about the laws of perspective. Impart to me your views, Madame. I may learn from you. It is a strange, a most original, idea of yours, My Lord. Why, he knows it already, and may even have found it a little bit dull. Truth is for tailors and shoemakers, My Lord.

I, on the contrary, have always held that the Lord has a penchant for masquerades. Do you not yourself tell us, my lords spiritual, that our trials are really blessings in disguise? And so they are. I, too, have found them to be so, at midnight, at the hour when the mask falls. But at the same time nobody can deny that they have been dressed up by the hand of an unrivaled expert. The Lord himself--with your permission--seems to me to have been masquerading pretty freely at the time when he took on flesh and dwelt amongst us. Indeed, had I been the hostess of the wedding of Cana, I might have resented the feat a little--I might, I tell you, My Lord--had I there asked that brilliant youth, the carpenter's son, in order to give him a treat on my best Berncastler Doktor, and he had, at the moment when it suited him, changed pure water into a far finer vintage!

And still the lady did not know, of course, of what things he was really capable, being God Almighty. Ah, ah! Your truth comes out quite early enough'--under your favor, My Lord--'and that is the end of the game. Surely, that is a divine quality; and what is it but deceit on principle?

Since here a youth and a maiden are present, you and I, who have observed life from the best of observatories--you from the confessional, and I from the alcove--will take pains to disregard the truth; we will talk only of legs. I can tell you, then, that you may divide all women according to the beauty of their legs.

Those who have pretty legs, and who know the concealed truth to be sweeter than all illusions, are the truly gallant women, who look you in the face, who have the genuine courage of a good conscience. But if they took to wearing trousers, where would their gallantry be?

The young men of our days, who wear tight trousers which oblige them to keep two valets for drawing them on, one for each leg". They may have the facts of life on their side, while the legs of the women, under their petticoats, are ideas. But the people who go forth on ideas are the ones who have the true heroism. For it is the consciousness of hidden power which gives courage. But I beg your pardon, My Lord, for speaking so long. I have profited by your speech. But it has not convinced me that you and I are not really of one mind.

This world of ours is like the children's game of bread and cheese; there is always something underneath--truth, deceit; truth, deceit! When the Caliph masqueraded as one of his own poor subjects, all his hidden splendor could not have saved the jest from being in pretty poor taste, had he not had beneath it a fraternal heart for his poor people. After losing his memory, Jack had moved on and started a family with the woman who saved his life.

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Published: November 7, A comedic fantasy tale of a teenager facing down a magical internet troll. Bullied by an alpha female cheerleader, high school student Linda accepts the offer of aid from a mysterious online presence. But she learns the true nature of her benefactor, she must find a way to stop the magical internet troll before its antics garner enough attention for it to manifest in the real world. A dark fantasy comedy with a tough as nails heroine.

After being embarrassed by her rival Hunter, high school brawler Stacey meets an entity online who promises to help her get revenge. But when her mysterious benefactor goes too far and she tries to make him stop, she will learn that magical internet trolls are no laughing matter. Lighthearted but violent fantasy action with one butt-kicking heroine. After beating up a player from a rival football team, high school sports star Freya finds herself under investigation for his disappearance.

Resolving to find him and clear her name herself, she teams up with psychic outcast Annabeth on a quest that will start a great friendship and change her life forever. Published: September 6, When the world's greatest MMA fighter challenges goth singer and ultimate brawler Freya to a match, she eagerly accepts the chance to battle a legend.

To her surprise, she soon receives an offer of training from an otherworldly visitor. What she doesn't know is that he has plans for her beyond just a celebrity cage fight. Published: July 25, When an insanity epidemic afflicts bandits and wealthy merchants alike, well-scarred Rose's investigation sends her on an awkward journey into a temple of beauty.

Words: 40, Published: July 6, A collection of the first four Tales of the Gothic Warrior stories and their prequel, Gothic Genesis. Published: June 24, Rose and her partner Finn set out to stop the rampage of an escaped giant wolf. But is there more to the beast than meets the eye?

Published: June 8, After winning her spot from a seven foot kickboxer, goth singer Freya enters an evil billionaire's underground fighting tournament. She finds herself right at home battling aristocrats, sumos, thugs, ninjas and psycho killers. But what will she face if she makes it to the final round against the mysterious Grand Champion? Words: 3, Published: May 13, Over the top sports fighting action as one tough guy takes on an equally tough girl. Underground heavyweight fighter Leonard entered the tournament ready for the challenge of his life. Little did he know that when the opponent he looked forward to fighting is forced to drop out, his greatest challenge would end up coming from a girl Words: 11, A heroic tale featuring the indestructible female warrior known as the Iron Flower.

Legendary warrior Rose thought she could get at least some rest playing bodyguard for her merchant friend Alex. But when they inadvertently revive an ancient hero and learn of an apocalyptic prophecy, Rose must travel to a haunted kingdom to battle a nation-killing demon and stop the event known as the Disaster.



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