Statement of Arthur Nolan regarding the life and death of Agnes Montague.
Gertrude is meeting with Arthur Nolan, former leader of The Cult of the Lightless Flame. Arthur tells Gertrude that with Agnes dead and her circle broken, if he wanted to kill her, she couldn't stop him. Gertrude suggests that if Arthur really thinks that, he should check on Eugene, who hasn't been attending meetings with the Cult for the last two weeks. She tells him to make some calls and then they can continue their discussion and 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 doesn't need to know how. She muses that, with all the death and destruction she's 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's free to try and leave. He doesn't.
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's vulnerable now, but she's been preparing for this for four decades. She calls the Cult lazy fools who can't conceive of someone actively working against them. She took care of Eugene and as far as she's concerned, the rest of them aren't any more of a threat to her.
That out of the way, Gertrude is ready to have a real conversation. She offer that Arthur may ask her a question first, if it'll make him feel better. He asks her about Agnes, how did she do it? She says it was the Web, although she didn't know it at the time. She was young, about 25, and they were the first proper ritual attempt she'd encountered, an "infernal cult raising their demon messiah to bring about hell on earth." She started researching counter-measures. She 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 the Scottish highlands, but the ritual actually allowed the Web to bind Gertrude to Agnes, interweaving their existences. She says it was the most painful experience of her life. She kept the circle over the year, lacing it with Desolation symbology to ward off the side effects. Arthur says he doesn't envy whoever broke it, and Gertrude confirms that it went badly for the person in question.
Gertrude then asks Arthur what Agnes was like. For all that their lives had been tied together, Gertrude never actually met Agnes. Arthur admits that he doesn't know, not really. He doesn't know what she was like, or what she really thought about being the Cult's chosen one. He says he misses her, and wishes he'd taken the time to get to know her when she was alive. He says that Agnes was like seeing the sun, so much power and fire and rage inside her; to look at her was too much for most.
Arthur says that Agnes 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 didn't come for her immediately. Arthur says that 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 life time, but over that time, Agnes began to doubt. Arthur muses that for all the various avatars feel their gods' joy and anger and aching to change the world, the Entites never actually tell them what to do. He thinks they understand people almost as little as people understand them.
And Agnes? Agnes was as much a person as a god, and Arthur feels the Cult messed up raising her. He remembers an incident in Agnes childhood where she killed a Cult member who tried to feed her, and Diego tried to get them to read a childcare book. Arthur saw it as an attack against his leadership and burned it. Arthur then rants bitterly about how much Diego doesn't deserve to be the leader of the Cult, despite Gertrude insisting she doesn't really care. Arthur then says he's always respected Gertrude for the fact that she doesn't give a shit about the power, really. She's focused on the practical, the earthly things that serve the power, the things she can actually stop.
Gertrude asks with Diego in charge of the Cult, where does that leave Arthur? Arthur says he's a landlord, and enjoying using that power to torment people, including burning an elderly tenant and her family alive in her mobile home. He also mentions that her purchased a house that hosts an infestation of the Corruption. Gertrude interrupts Arthur's musing on torturing his tenant, and says they're done. She tells him to tell the others about what she did to Eugene, and that she's extending her protection to Jack Barnabas, Agnes' former romantic partner. If any of the Cult, including Jude Perry, have a problem with that, they're welcome to try to move against her. She then kicks Arthur Nolan out of the Archives.
Jon muses philosophically on the realities of being an Avatar of the entities. They've been back in London for a week (since he and Basira went to Ny-Alesund). Jon is worried that there aren't any answer 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 a head. Jon believes that the statute IS Eugene, frozen in place by the sawdust mixed up in his wax flesh. He doesn't know where Gertrude stored Eugene's head.
Georgie interrupts. She's looking for Melanie, who Jon says he saw a few hours ago in the other office. He asks why she's here, and she says it's not really her place to discuss it but before she can finish her statement, Jon Knows. 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 Jon is doing. He says he's doing fine, just trying to rest up. Georgie is doubtful, given that she just heard him talking about a screaming, headless corpse. Jon admits that he's 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 Jon to take care of himself.
- Gertrude mentions finding a box of Agnes hair in the ashes of the house at Hill Top Road. The house was first mentioned in MAG 8: Burned Out.
- The circle that the Web used to bind Gertrude and Agnes was found by Jason North in MAG 37: Burnt Offering.
- Arthur mentions purchasing a home that is infected with a nest of The Corruption, presumably Jane Prentiss' home which Arthur then burned down in MAG 55: Pest Control.
- Gertrude extends her protection to Jack Barnabas (that "coffee shop twit", as Arthur calls him), the young man that Agnes was romantically involved with in MAG 67: Burning Desire.
- The Cult member that Gertrude apparently trapped with sawdust and decapitated is Eugene Vanderstock, last mentioned in MAG 139: Chosen, when he came to the Magnus Institute to tell Gertrude that Agnes was dead.