Statement of Abraham Janssen regarding an incident in the Court Theatre of Buda.
Elias has called the staff (absent Tim and Melanie) together to discuss their plans to disrupt The Unknowing, and despite the plan's simplicity, believes it has a reasonable chance of succeeding. Martin questions if the plan is fully-formed, as he believes they've only gotten as far as sneaking into the museum and detonating the explosives when The Circus is distracted. John believes the ritual will be vulnerable once it has begun, while Basira and Daisy confirm that the scheme need not be overly convoluted.
Elias warns that they may all end up confronting The Stranger directly and thinks it would be best to prepare them for what such an encounter may entail. He offers to play one of Gertrude's tapes despite the group's exasperation.
Abraham Janssen reflects on the mania-inducing event that has left him mentally-scarred, but concedes there were others who escaped said event with graver wounds. He curses the name of Wolfgang von Kempelen and his invention, the Mechanical Turk.
Janssen, a formidable chess player, learned of the Turk, a chess-playing automaton, at its inception. Kempelen asked him to be the Turk's puppetmaster, revealing it was, in fact, controlled by a human operator deep within its base. Janssen was delighted to assist and disregarded the deception, as the Turk's game-playing movements were a marvel in and of itself, and says it would be a disservice to dismiss Kempelen's ingenuity and the Turk's clockwork mechanisms.
Despite his intellect, Janssen found Kempelen an odd acquaintance and treated his manner with some reproach, as they never conversed together in their mother tongues. He sensed secret ambitions within Kempelen regarding his machines, but could never deduce them. When he finally viewed the Turk, Janssen was inflicted with terror and found it grotesque. The dark, still face with unmoving painted eyes filled him with revulsion, and he felt as if he was being devoured whenever he climbed into the belly of the device to operate it.
They exhibited the Turk and were met with unqualified praise and their ruse left unsuspected. Despite a year of travel with the device, Janssen could never quiet the anxiety he felt whenever he viewed the automaton, nor the strange and intricate dreams he had of it.
Janssen eventually returned to London for business, parting ways with Kempelen, and terrified of his next proposed invention: a machine he insisted would be capable of mastering human speech.
About fifteen years later, Janssen received an invitation from Wolfgang to attend a grand performance at the newly completed Court Theatre of Buda. He caves to Kempelen's pleading, despite deep apprehension for his machines, and agrees to attend.
Despite his attempts to locate Wolfgang, Janssen is only able to learn more of the Court Theatre itself, discovering it was once a Carmelite monastery converted into a theatre under Kempelen's supervision, placing the stage where the high altar once stood.
When Janssen and other attendees entered the theatre for the performance, Abraham realized every usher was in fact automaton resembling the Turk dressed as footmen, ushering everyone within with jerky, unnatural motions. He attempted to converse with the other guests, but was suddenly restrained by one machine with incredible strength which guided him to a balcony seat.
Janssen and the other guests, at this point, bewildered and frightened, found a small metal cage containing a tiny mechanical bird before each seat. Once every seat was filled, all eyes fell upon a figure on stage: the Turk, draped in a hairy, coarse skin instead of a coat.
With a single nod of the Turk, every bird began a discordant, horrendous wail. As the birds' screams intensified, the Turk raised a sword above its head and slammed it down, shattering a chessboard placed on the table before it. Blood began pooling onto the stage as the Turk placed a new device resembling a throat connected to a bellows on the table. At this point, the Turk stood and began to dance despite not having any legs, while the bellows began to pump and the throat, Wolfgang's speech machine, shrieked Hungarian at the audience. At this moment, Janssen experiences complete mania, describing a moment of absolute nothingness, the vanishing of his limbs and crying sweet sherry.
The moment is ended at the sound of a battle cry, as Janssen witnesses a company of soldiers burst into the theatre. The soldiers wept despite empty eye sockets. They had ropes tied around their necks which handled by their captain, who cut down any intervening clockwork automaton with his sword. The blind soldiers carried forth a cannon which was loaded and fired at the Turk, destroying it and restoring the theatre to reality.
The soldiers departed, ignoring the carnage and pleading of the wounded. Janssen fled the scene.
Final Comments Edit
Gertrude remarks on the resilience of The Stranger's ritual compared to other Entities', and while easy to delay, deems full disruption impossible. Reflecting upon The Slaughter's avatar's straight-forward disruption of a fully-realized ritual, Gertrude hypothesizes that the closer The Stranger's ritual is to completion, the more vulnerable it is to physical interruption. She concludes such a method would be a viable Plan B and intends to inquire about acquiring explosives.
She surmises that the hairy skin seen on the Turk was the Gorilla Skin, and confirms the skin is still being used as a focusing item for the ritual. Despite incurring direct cannon fire, it was left undamaged and will need to research a proper method to destroy it. Janssen's statement at least confirms its location to her.
The group discusses Janssen's statement and deduce the next ritual attempt will be different in performance, but consistent in its absurdity and they will not be able to trust their senses as The Stranger will attempt to throw everything into doubt.
Elias agrees with John that Martin should stay behind at the Archives with Melanie instead of attempting to disrupt the ritual despite Martin's fervent protestations. Elias heavily advises against allowing Tim to come, in which John states he will take under advisement.
Elias exits and Basira asks the remaining staff if he bought their ruse, but Martin interjects that they can discuss it later.
Later, John informs Tim that despite Elias not wanting Tim attending the mission, John wants him to go. He questions Tim's stability, to which Tim responds that he will keep it together for the success of the mission, but when it all goes awry, to stay out of his way.