Statement of Eugene Vanderstock, regarding the creation of Agnes Montague, her life, care and death.
To begin his statement, Eugene says that Arthur asked him to tell Gertrude that Agnes Montague is dead. Arthur asked him specifically because he knew Eugene would have to write his whole story down, and it would hurt. Eugene spoke out of turn to Arthur, suggesting they just burn the Magnus Institute down with Gertrude inside, and this statement is his punishment. Eugene tells Gertrude she was smart not to actually be present for the statement, and that someday she will push her luck too far, and she had better hope it is not Jude Perry that comes to collect.
Eugene says he was born in 1936 and that his sacrifices to the Desolation have kept him looking younger than his 70 years. He does not know how much longer they can keep him going, but when he dies, he intends to go big and make it hurt.
He got his start in the Blitz. A friend's house was destroyed by the bombs; the father was the only one who survived. Something terrible was awakened in Eugene at the sight of his friends' fathers suffering. He committed many crimes during the Blitz, especially with arson. He was eventually found by Arthur and Diego, and brought into the Cult of the Lightless Flame.
Eventually, Arthur Nolan proposed that the Cult create a messiah, a chosen one to help usher in a new world, and bring about the Desolation's ritual, the Scoured Earth. Eileen Montague volunteered. She was five months pregnant, and had already taken care of the child's father in "the usual manner". Some objected, because the baby had not been "conceived of the flame", but since no one knew how that would even work, they decided it would have to be enough for the child to be born in flames.
The Cult burned down 5 acres of forest to create the site of the birth. They built a pyre and laid Eileen down on it. As Eileen went into labor, they set her on fire, and when the flames burned down, all that was left was the baby they named Agnes, lying peacefully in the ashes of her mother, untouched.
Eugene says that Agnes' childhood was difficult. She was prone to fits of violent rage, she could not be allowed near other children or left alone for any length of time. She killed members of the Cult in her temper. Eventually she settled down and seemed to accept her destiny, and her strength grew. Some members of the Cult believed that Agnes should interact with normal children, some believed that Agnes needed to continue training, and others thought they had waited long enough and Agnes was powerful enough already. Eventually they compromised and Agnes was sent to live with Raymond Fielding at Hill Top Road, a stronghold of the Web. Eugene says they believed that Agnes would be safe there, though if they had known how powerful the Web actually was there, they may have reconsidered.
Eugene says that the effect on Agnes of the events Hill Top Road was unexpected. Despite having destroyed the place utterly, she seemed to remain bound to it in some way. Arthur considered Agnes keeping Raymond Fielding's hand to be worrying. But none of them could know what Gertrude herself was going to do. Eugene says that he does not, in truth, actually know what Gertrude did. Neither Arthur nor Diego would explain it to him, and Jude flies into a rage whenever it is mentioned. But he assumes whatever Gertrude did is the reason they spent decades waiting to bring about their designs.
So they waited. Agnes had reached adulthood but would age no further. The Cult found her a place to live, gave her Jude for a guardian, and provided for her material needs. The years began to slowly burn away. Eugene's job was to secure sacrifices for Agnes. He worked in a factory, with large hot furnaces. Eventually enough of his superiors suffered accidents or injuries that he obtained a management position, and was able to create a workshop beneath the main furnace. There, he took people, and melted them into foul-smelling candles made of their flesh and bone and hair. When the candles were lit, Eugene says you could almost hear the victims screaming. Agnes would light these candles in her small flat, and inhale the agony and suffering from which they were created.
Eugene says that the waiting was hardest on Agnes, with so much fire and destruction trapped inside her. No one suspected what would actually sink it all. Eugene does not know why Arthur allowed the relationship between Agnes and Jack Barnabas that would eventually lead to Agnes' death, or why Jude did not act out when she was usually so jealous over Agnes. Perhaps, he speculates, everyone thought Agnes had some grand plan of suffering in mind for Jack.
In the end, Eugene believes it was not love or happiness, but doubt that did it for Agnes, which the avatar of the Desolation could not have. In the end, Agnes told the Cult of the Lightless Flame that if they tried the Scoured Earth and failed, it would be centuries before they could try again, but if Agnes died a cold and quiet death instead of in flames, perhaps her spark would return to the Lightless Flame and she could try again. Thus the cult hanged her as she requested.
In the wake of Agnes's death, the Cult allowed Jude free reign over Jack Barnabas's fate. She has not yet harmed him, but Eugene says that she will make sure that he is never happy and never without pain. And as for Gertrude, whatever she did and whatever protection it afforded her is severed with Agnes' death. Arthur has told them not to harm her yet, but his authority has been weakened and many are looking to Diego for leadership. Eugene hopes they can burn Gertrude forever.
John notes that it is nice to see Gertrude also got her fair share of threats, not that any of them resulted in much. Except for Elias, but he did not threaten Gertrude, he just killed her. He wants to know what Gertrude did to interrupt the ritual, as he's "ninety percent sure" she did not pay Jack Barnabas to fall in love with Agnes.
It does seem like Eugene is still around, but given what happened with Jude Perry (MAG 89), John is not exactly eager to track him or any of the rest of the Cult down. Diego, John says, is likely Diego Molina, whom Basira crossed paths with when she was working as a sectioned officer, and Arthur might be Arthur Nolan, although John does not know how he would have gone from a member of the Cult to Jane Prentiss's landlord.
John has his own office politics to deal with. Basira is busy doing research for something secretive and trying to adjust to the new Daisy, whom he is weirded out by, but actually liking now. Melanie is quiet, but therapy seems to be helping. John has not seen Helen much. The door is sometimes there, sometimes not, but he has not knocked. John does not trust Helen, and he should not; whatever its relationship to the person who was or is Helen, assuming he could ever know its motivations is a mistake. And that just leaves Martin.
John wants to know why they were chosen. Agnes was created with such a specific purpose that a grain of uncertainty threatened the entirety of her being. But John is so full of doubt there feels like there is no room for anything else, and he assumes Martin is the same. Is there destiny at work, or did they just stumble into this?
Maybe, he says, they are the opposite of Agnes. If doubts are exactly what they need, John is an amazing chosen one. John is worried about Martin. Every other avatar gets their feelings burned right out of them, but he just has to sit in his. He has to trust that Martin had whatever he's doing with Peter Lukas in hand, probably. John just wants to know what Peter's plan is. He wonders if he can simply know. John seems to try to use his Archivist powers, to ill effect. He shouts in pain and ends the recording.
- Related Entity: The Desolation
- Eugene references the events with Agnes and Raymond Fielding at Hill Top Road from MAG 8.
- Eugene references the relationship between Agnes and Jack Barnabas originally detailed in Jack's statement in MAG 67.
|ATTENTION! SPOILERS AHEAD!!|
This article contains information from later episodes of The Magnus Archives and may contain major spoilers for the setting and plot. Continue at your own risk.
- MAG 145: Infectious Doubts clarifies much of this episode:
- The Arthur that Eugene mentions is confirmed to be Arthur Nolan, the former leader of the Cult of the Lightless Flame who became a landlord to continue torturing people after Diego replaced him.
- The actions Gertrude took to prevent the Ritual is also revealed to be a metaphysical binding of herself and Agnes.
- Arthur learns in 2009 that Gertrude has somehow hurt Eugene terribly so that he he has been missing from cult meetings for two weeks. Eugene may have followed through on his threats towards Gertrude.