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 Eugene 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 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 isn't 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 doesn't know how much longer they can keep him going, but when he dies, he intends to go big and make it hurt.
Eugene 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 even 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 need 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 affect 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 do. 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, so much fire and destruction trapped inside her. No one suspected what would actually sink it all. Eugene doesn't know why Arthur allowed the relationship between Agnes and Jack Barnabas that would eventually lead to Agnes death, or why Jude didn't 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 for Agnes. Doubt that the avatar of the Desolation cannot 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, not in flames but a cold and quiet death, perhaps her spark would return to the Lightless Flame and she could try again. And so, they hanged her as she requested.
In the wake of Agnes 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 to Gertrude, whatever she did, and whatever protection it afforded her, it is severed with Agnes' death. Arthur had 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's nice to see Gertrude also got her fair share of threats, not that any of them resulted in much. Except for Elias, but he didn't threaten Gertrude, he just killed her. He wants to know what Gertrude did to interrupt the ritual, as he's ... 90% sure she didn't pay poor 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's 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 doesn't know how he would have gone from a member of the Cult to Jane Prentiss' 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 actually liking now. Melanie is quiet, but therapy seems to be helping. John hasn't seen Helen much. The door is sometimes there, sometimes not, but he hasn't knocked. John does not trust Helen, and he shouldn't; 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, crafted with a specific purpose so finely turned that even a grain of uncertainty threatened the entirety of her being. But John is so full of doubt there feels like there isn't room for anything else, and he assumes Martin is the same. Is there destiny at work, bloodlines and prophecies? Or did they just stumble into this?
Maybe, he says, they are the opposite of Agnes. Maybe their doubts are exactly what they need, in which case 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. If he could just Know ... can he? John seems to try to use his Archivist powers, to ill effect. He shouts in pain and ends the recording.