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Statement of Michael, regarding himself.


Nikola Orsinov is using John's tape recorder, addressing Elias Bouchard directly, saying that she has taken John and is holding him captive. She asks Breekon & Hope to leave, whereupon the pair allude to needing to stay close to "it" (implied to be the coffin from MAG 2 and MAG 61), before withdrawing carrying something.

Nikola resumes talking to Elias saying that she had planned to just follow John around until he found the skin that Gertrude had taken, but then decided it would be more fun to take him directly. She tells John that she is going to peel his skin off, and asks him what lotion she should get as he has not kept his skin in good condition. She leaves, presumably to acquire some, and turns the recorder off.

An unspecified time later, the recorder turns back on and Michael appears, saying he is here to kill the Archivist. Before he does so he is going to act against his nature and answer his questions so that he can understand what is happening.

John first asks how Michael found him, Michael responds that while Beholding watches, and The Stranger conceals, the power he serves deceives and nothing can be hidden from him.

The next question is what Michael has to do with the Unknowing, but Michael laughs and says nothing - other than he would like it if it were to fail.

When asked why he is here, Michael repeats that it is to kill John. Pressed on it, he states that he does not want the circus to win, but he also does not want the Archives to win. Killing John would accomplish both goals, but also satisfy his revenge.

John says he still does not know who Michael is, and Michael says that he is Michael, but that he was not always Michael and does not want to be Michael. John thinks that Michael used to be Gertrude's assistant, but Michael says that the "Michael" on that tape was not him. When that "Michael" existed, the being that John is talking to was something else. Then, someone caused "Michael" to become a part of him. He realises that John is asking him to make a Statement and begins the story of what happened.


Michael is not sure where to begin his story, as in some way he has always existed, so picking a starting point for his story is not simple. Michael Shelley would be easier to keep track of, as he was born and before he could die, he went to work for the Magnus Institute. When Shelley was younger, he lost a friend to a supernatural being which drove him to despair, the Institute, and Gertrude Robinson.

Shelley was protective of Gertrude, believing her to be forgetful and frail yet wise, and he trusted her. Michael says that Gertrude fed Shelley to the Spiral to prevent the Transcendence. One day, Gertrude told Shelley that they were going on a research trip to Russia to visit Zemlya Sannikova, or Sannikov Land. As Shelley fully trusted Gertrude, he did not research their destination and remained unaware that Sannikov Land did not exist. They were taken by Peter Lukas on a further journey North, and once the ice froze over, Shelley finally began to be concerned.

Gertrude says that they were going to fight a great evil, which Michael notes was unfair as he was just acting in nature with what he is. The Worker-of-Clay had spent decades creating an impossible edifice of doors in order to bring him forth into the world. The two of them landed on an island that Michael says did not exist, and they walked to stop the ritual by following the spiralling laughter.

Though Shelley was deeply unsettled by the sight of the ritual, Michael says that Gertrude Robinson was unafraid and sought out his door. Michael was reveling in his own apotheosis, and did not notice Gertrude walking up and opening the door. Gertrude told Shelley that Michael could be stopped by walking through the door, which Shelley had believed and walked through Michael's door willingly.

Inside the labyrinth, Shelley brought with him a map given to him by Gertrude which guided him to Michael's heart. By following the directions on the map, Shelley managed to tear out Michael's heart, and become forever twisted together. All of The Spiral's worshippers were exiled by the force of the uncreation. The island also disappeared but Gertrude had already retreated back to the boat.

In the aftermath, the being that John knows as Michael was born. He asks why Michael never took revenge on Gertrude, and is told that Gertrude had taken protections, but also that she was not as good an Archivist as John and thus not as large a threat. Michael had hoped John would be able to stop The Unknowing, but now it seems like he will be bringing it about instead.

John asks if there is anything he can do to stop Michael from killing him, Michael says if he screams he will alert The Circus and that his death would be more painful that way. John agrees to Michael's offer, and Michael conjures a door and tells him to step through. John tries the door but finds it is locked, Michael does not believe him and also tries it. He becomes worried and seems to realise something before letting out a long, pained scream.

Michael is gone and a door creaks open to reveal Helen Richardson. John asks what happened to Michael and Helen says "Michael isn't me," anymore because he let himself be overwhelmed and "lost my way." She is not sure if she is Helen either, but Helen is better than Michael at least. Killing John was Michael's desire, but Helen will help him leave because Helen Richardson liked him. Out of options, he agrees to follow her through the door.


  • To mimic the sound of being gagged, Johnny Sims delivered his lines with as much of his fist in his mouth as he could fit.
  • A blooper reel for this episode is available to patrons on the Rusty Quill Patreon page.


This section contains information from later episodes of The Magnus Archives and may contain major spoilers for the setting and plot. Continue at your own risk.

  • Related Entity: The Stranger and The Spiral.