Gertrude is meeting with Arthur Nolan, former leader of The Cult of the Lightless Flame. Arthur tells Gertrude that with Agnes dead and her "woodland circle" broken, if he wanted to kill her, she could not stop him. Gertrude dismisses this and says he should check on Eugene; she knows where he has lived ever since he tried to intimidate her, and that he has not been attending meetings with the Cult for the last two weeks. She tells Arthur to make some calls and then they can continue their discussion. The recorder clicks off.
Sometime later, the recorder clicks back on. Arthur is noticeably tenser, and asks Gertrude how she did it. She says he does not need to know how. She muses that, with all the death and destruction she has visited on the Cult over the last 40 years, their master The Desolation, must be quite fond of her. Arthur calls that blasphemy and Gertrude tells him he is free to try and leave. He does not.
Gertrude speculates that Arthur came there to try to use her to restore his standing in the Cult, which has waned since Agnes' death in 2006. He thinks she is vulnerable now, but she has been preparing for this for four decades. She calls the Cult lazy fools who cannot conceive of someone actively working against them. She took care of Eugene and as far as she is concerned, the rest of them are not any more of a threat to her.
That out of the way, Gertrude is ready to have a real conversation. She offers that Arthur may ask her a question first. He asks how did she do what she did to Agnes. She says it was The Web, although she did not know it at the time. She was young, about 25, and the Cult was the first proper ritual attempt she had encountered. She started researching counter-measures and found a tin box in the ashes of the house at Hill Top Road that contained some of Agnes' hair. She performed what she thought was a banishment ritual, constructing a circle in the middle of a forest in the Scottish highlands, but the ritual actually invited the "Mother of Puppets" and allowed it to bind Gertrude to Agnes, interweaving their existences. It was painful and almost burned Gertrude from the inside out. She maintained the circle over the years, lacing it with Desolation symbology to ward off negative side effects. Arthur says he does not envy whoever broke the circle, though he spent years searching for it, and Gertrude confirms that it went badly for the person in question.
Gertrude asks Arthur what Agnes was like. Though their lives had been tied together, Gertrude never actually met Agnes. Arthur admits that he did not really know her, or what she really thought about being the Cult's chosen one; he wishes he had taken the time to when she was alive. He says that Agnes was like seeing the sun, with so much power and fire and rage inside her; to look at her was too much for most.
Agnes also never said how she felt about being tied to Gertrude; she only called Gertrude her anchor, the thing trying to hold her down and stop her destiny. Gertrude wonders why the Cult did not come for her immediately. Arthur says Diego was convinced that Gertrude dying a violent death would be dangerous for Agnes, so the Cult ended up protecting Gertrude more often than not. They planned to wait out her lifetime, but over that time Agnes began to doubt. Arthur muses though the various avatars feel their gods' desire to change the world, the Entities never actually tell them what to do. He thinks they understand people almost as little as people understand them.
Agnes was a person as well as a god, and Arthur feels the Cult messed up raising her. He remembers an incident in her childhood when she killed a Cult member who tried to feed her. When Diego tried to get the cult members to read a childcare book, Arthur saw it as an attack against his leadership and burned it. Arthur then rants bitterly that Diego does not deserve to be the leader of the Cult; Gertrude insists she does not really care. Arthur says he has always respected Gertrude for not caring about the power of the Entities. She focuses on the practical, earthly things that serve the power, which she can actually stop.
Gertrude asks about Arthur's place, now that Diego leads the Cult. Arthur explains he is now a landlord, and enjoys using that power to torment people, including burning an elderly tenant and her family alive in her mobile home. He mentions that he has purchased a house that hosts an infestation of The Corruption. Gertrude interrupts Arthur's musing on torturing his tenant to end the discussion. She tells him to tell the others what she did to Eugene, and that she is extending her protection to Jack Barnabas, Agnes' former romantic partner. If any of the Cult, including Jude Perry, have a problem with that, they are welcome to try to move against her. She then kicks Arthur out of the Archives.
John muses philosophically on the realities of being an Avatar of the entities. They have been back in London for a week since he and Basira went to Ny-Ålesund. John is worried that there are not any answers anywhere to be found, not like he wants there to be.
He did some digging into Eugene Vanderstock and found out that he disappeared in 2009, leaving behind nothing but a life-size statute of himself made of wax and sawdust and missing its head. John believes that the statute IS Eugene, frozen in place by the sawdust mixed up in his wax flesh. He does not know where Gertrude stored Eugene's head.
Georgie interrupts. She is looking for Melanie, who John says he saw a few hours ago in the other office. He asks why she is here, and she says it is not really her place to discuss it but before she can finish her statement, John Knows that Georgie is there to take Melanie to therapy. He forgets that Georgie and Melanie are friends. Melanie gets nervous going to therapy alone.
Georgie asks how John is doing. He says he is doing fine, just trying to rest up. Georgie is doubtful, given that she just heard him talking about a screaming, headless corpse. John admits that he is deep in it and Georgie thinks he should get some therapy. He sardonically asks if she would go with him as well, and she says no. He thought as much. Georgie awkwardly leaves, telling John to take care of himself.
- Related Entity: Primarily The Desolation
- Gertrude found a box of Agnes's hair in the ashes of the house at Hill Top Road. The house and Agnes's binding to it was first mentioned in MAG 8.
- The ritual circle in Scotland that Gertrude maintained was found by Jason North in MAG 37. His statement details how he accidentally broke the circle and all his possessions were burned.
- Arthur mentions purchasing a home that is infected with a nest of The Corruption: Jane Prentiss' home, which Arthur burned down in MAG 55.
- Gertrude extends her protection to Jack Barnabas, the young man that Agnes was romantically involved with in MAG 67.
- The Cult member that Gertrude apparently trapped with sawdust and decapitated is Eugene Vanderstock, last mentioned in MAG 139, when he came to the Magnus Institute to tell Gertrude that Agnes was dead. He threatened Gertrude during his statement, and may have attempted to follow through.
|ATTENTION! SPOILERS AHEAD!!|
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.
- MAG 167 reveals that Gertrude and Agnes did meet each other, but only once.