In Which the Reverand and His Friends Make the Acquaintance of the Devil
Excerpt from Samuel Longewynde, Notes upon the Investigation into the Occurrences at the village of Crosswicks, in the State of New Jersey, December 1776
Upon closer examination, the documents contained in the second iron box found in Reverend Hadley’s grave proved to contain the description of an elaborate series of spells including the construction of various wards and charms designed to maintain a barrier to forces diabolical.
The provenance of this work was initially unknown, not being recognizable from any Western tradition. Annotations in Hadley’s hand indicated that he had copied it from the volume of Binsfield found in the Academy’s library at Princeton. However, no version of Binsfield contains this particular series of spells and it was therefore concluded to have been taken from hand-written notes made on the end pages of that volume.
The work itself was finally recognized by Major Z. as coming from a work he had seen in the library in the residence of his mother’s family near the city of Zenda. It came from an obscure tome titled Suasoria Luciferi by J. Sandorius, a Transylvanian alchemist who was briefly associated with the Ruritanian Royal Court in the latter part of the last century. At least one volume from a limited publication had been provided to the Royal Society in London, which may be taken as the source of these notes.
The series of spells and constructs were elaborate and would require a considerable time to decipher let alone prepare and cast. Of initial note is that fact that these barriers are intended to be focused upon a static location. That is to say, there is a single immovable point to which the wardings are aligned and this point is the location of a thing of evil. Thus is begged the question of why such spells were used against a motive entity?
Excerpt from A Hussy’s Progress, the Autobiography of Moll Daggett
Chapter the Fourth
How I Become an Honest Woman, Continued
After playing mudpies in dead Hadley’s grave, we set off into the woods to have a gander at the Crump farm, the scene of the second slaying.
Now, the way to Crump’s twas not a road by any sense of the meaning but more a narrow twisting path through dense pines. Added to this were drifts of snow encrusted with ice from a recent freezing rain. A worse terrain besmirched by worse weather could not be found this side of North Wales.
And oh what a great mob we were crowded upon that narrow path, more like a procession on Saint Bridget’s Day and twice as daft.
Out in front was the thimble-witted Prince Leopold mounted on his steed, Bucephalus. Now a fine horse it twas, big and strong yet quick and far wiser than its master, not meaning to damn the horse with faint praise, for twas a most excellent, intelligent horse.
Like his other hounds yapping at the Prince’s heels twas Yap himself who had forsaken his Indian garb now that we had not to fear the English army. Odd to say, though, Yap did not forsake using the trite phrase of “How!” whene’er twas clear that the Prince had grown particularly tiresome to him.
Now this had an unfortunate sequel, for along the way, we passed by a tree in which a large owl twas ensconced. With the puzzle-witted Prince first in line, he came upon it first and must a disturbed the poor bird, for it suddenly cries out, “Whooo!”
Well, young Muddle-brain, responds, “Tis me, Weopowd!”
This twould have gone on all the day, had we not come up on the scene and Major Zed made to eat the bird so it flew off.
In addition to our bemuddled van, the main body of our party twas comprised of the Reverend out afore and Bozarth the Younger sent along as guide. This scrofulous little mite twas as lazy and dimwitted as a turnip, and looked a passable bit as one too, so twas no wonder his father did not hesitate to be parted from him and placed in harm’s way.
I was behind them with Madame of the Lilypad and gorge-gutted Major Zed.
We had brought with us two of the Hessian Jagers, Stefan and Karl by name, who Zizzendorf insisted twere very fine woodsmen in their own country. One of these strode lightly through the thickets upon our right whilst Fennimen snaked his way through the bosk on our right. ‘Tother was our rear guard with prickly Zizzendorf himself. Though I would ne’er say so to him, the presence of the obtuse Prussian gave me some comfort for twas as grim and frightening a journey as I ere set foot upon.
Although we had left Hadley’s grave about one o’ the clock in the afternoon, ‘twas as dark as gloaming with the sky full of the darkest cloud, appearing so low as one could seemingly touch them.
All of us, save the Prince who chose to have a battle of wits with his horse and lost, were most subdued. A grave sense of foreboding seemed to pervade our party entire. When upon occasion I caught a glimpse of Fennimen moving through the copses, he seemed to move with great deliberation and bore a look of high perturbation. Even the Reverend’s viz appeared pale with his jaw clenched tight and him staring intently at the path afore us.
Then, we heard a sound in the treetops.
We all stopped and saw the pines shaking in turn, as if some great thing was leaping from top to top, always coming toward us. Me heart was thumping like a recruiting party’s drums and me guts turned to water within me. I backed off the path and tried to hide meself under the trees. I saw at all the rest had joined me, seeking what scant cover could be purchased of the evergreens.
All, that is, save the Reverend who clutched his Bible in his hands and began muttering prayers, the Doctor who played with his spectacles as if to trying to get a better look at the onrushing doom, and Zizzendorf who drew his pistol and set himself with stubborn look upon his face that I used to loathe but welcomed now.
A sudden, a great creature sprung from the foremost of the trees. Twas truly a thing o’ horror. Dark, fire red it twas with great batlike wings spreading twenty feet or more from its back. Its head was that of horse but terrible true nightmare 'twas, with great yellowed horns curving wickedly from its temples. From its throat came a deep piercing groan as horrible as the sound the rack makes when it turns upon a victim.
A cry of terror escaped unbid from me lips and I flung meself into the snow, hoping to avoid notice. Fenniman, who stood hardby, lifted his long gun and fired directly at the devil. I could see the ball strike directly into the monstrocity’s chest but it did no harm and appeared to have struck off harmlessly.
The awful brute swept down upon the Doctor who, at the last moment, appeared to comprehend the danger. He clicked his heels together, producing those ridiculous spring heels. This time, he jumped upon them just as the Devil’s terrible claws were about to enclose him, and he sprang away and flew over the monster’s back. Though he saved himself, the good physician failed to avoid the tree that stood behind and crashed into its branches. Unlike at the church, he did not lose the fight with the limbs and so stayed with the tree’s boughy embrace.
The creature landed and I could take its full measure. Twas a dozen feet or more with great bulging muscled arms that ended in saberlike claws. Its eyes glowed a fierce orange in the dusky light. Then it bounded up and took flight again.
Twas then, Yap, who had brought his horse near to us, plucked out a grenadoe, lit it with his flint and flung up at the Creature as the thing rose above the ground. The bomb hit the devil directly in the chest and discharged. The force of the blast did no discernable harm to the creature but it flung the great beast back into the pine tree that twas the refuge of Doctor McC.
Now, I could only imagine the thoughts that raced through the good Doctor’s mind when he found himself separated from the Devil by a few inches of pinewood. I twould surely have swooned. But the Doctor, despite his usually mealy manner proved to be far sterner than I would have expected. I later learned that, whilst the creature gathered its bearings, the doctor produced his spring-loaded scarificator from his pocket. He dipped the attached lancets into a bottle of sleeping draught. Then he pressed the scarificator against the hellspawn’s back and fired all twelve lancets therein. Strange to say, the blades entered the beast’s hide, even thought no blood came forth.
The devil did not seem to note this back strike for the Reverend strode forth and produced his own pistol which twas loaded with a cold iron ball. When he fired, the ball struck the hellion and there was some effect, for a small hole twas visible in the thing’s shoulder and the slightest of grunts escaped its maw. The terrible demon seemed to be struggling to escape from the tree in which it had been knocked.
Fennimen, who had been endeavoring to load his long piece, leaped up, his powder horn and flint in his hands. He intending to ram the horn into the wound on the creature and set it afire. Instead, the creature kicked him away like dross and he landed hard by in the snow.
Then we heard the oddest call, a great “View Halloo!” and down the path came Prince Leopold, charging on his steed, waving his saber about his head like a whirly-gig. He rode up to the beast, whose bulk was still locked into the branches a good six above the ground, and struck it hard. Sad to say for the brave idiot, the saber bounced off the creature’s flesh as if twas a buttering knife.
The devil raked the highborn shaver with its terrible claws and the poor toff flew off his horse in a great mist of blood.
Now as I have said, his horse was far wiser than the Prince and took the royal collar in its teeth and dragged the lad to safety. Betimes the Prince struggled onto the back of stallion but was sore hurt and the royal blood flowed onto the cruppers.
Then Madame de B. came up next to me. She said, “I have an idée. Can you get close to this diable and blow flame upon the snow in the tree in which it is?”
Feeling that I had played the poltroon for long enough, I told her that I thought I could.
Thus I found myself creeping up upon the foul spawn of hell and, from some brush hardby it, spewed a mouthful of burning rum into the branches. The sudden fire caused much of the snow in the branches to go up in a cloud of steam about the devil. Then the Frenchwoman crooked her hand at the beast whilst grasping her jewelry. Of a sudden, the steam turned into hard ice and the creature could scarce seem to move within.
Doctor McC. took this as his opportunity to escape from so close a proximity to the creature. He held onto the branches and pulled his feet up until he could push against the ice-encrusted devil, thinking this the fastest way to fly from this scene of danger. Unfortunately, the good physician had not looked at what twas behind him when he hazarded pushing off and thus drove himself a short distance across and into a neighboring pine which he struck with prodigious force. This must have knocked the breath from him for the good sawbones fell from the branches into the snow below.
The respite for the rest of us twas e’en briefer. The ice soon cracked apart and I saw with me heart in me mouth that the devil was gaping down at me. It swept down but this time, its wings were not quite as steady and his head lolled back and forth. Still it hurtled towards me. I closed me eyes just afore he struck and heard a great crash and twas knocked off my feet. When I opened me peepers again, I saw that the creature had fully missed and struck the tree behind me. But the thing was struggling to regain its feet and was glaring at me with its fierce flaming gaze.
I was petrified by fear and could scarce move to escape. Then I heard a great blast and a double-charged of ball and buck struck the devil square in the forehead. Behind me stood Zizzedorf with a smoking pistol. As the creature shook off the effect of the bullet strike, the Prussian grabbed hold of me arm and pulled me away. He flung me o’er his shoulder and headed off down the path.
We swept past the Reverend who stood in the middle of the way with a vial of the holy
water in his hand. He said, “Get to Crump's blockhouse, it should lie less than half a mile down the path!”
The Reverend then ran towards the creature whilst the rest of us retired down the path toward the blockhouse. The Reverend came upon the creature just as it was emerging from the woods and he flung the water upon the beast. While the Reverend endeavored this, the beast brought down its fearsome claws upon the Reverend’s breast and the talons bit deep into him. He fell as if dead in a pool of blood at the devil’s feet.
Whilst the holy water sizzled a bit upon the devil’s arm, it did not slow the brute. The monstrosity flew along the path after us. As it flew, it turned its ill-omened head towards the woods through which Yap, young Bozarth, and the two Hessians were racing. A great blast of fire was spat from the devil’s lips and the whole copse went up in flames. The poor Germans were caught in the blast and their screams echoed in my ears as they burned to death. Yap, who was still ahorse, whipped his nag out of the flames, grabbing young Bozarth by the scruff of the neck, pulling him on a pillion.
As we struggled to get away from the creature, we passed the wounded Prince who had turned his horse to face the hellborn thing. He once more brought his saber and shouted to us, “Go! I shaww stand hewe and howd this beast back.”
Beyond him, I saw the Fenniman had come out of the woods behind the demon. The woodsman had a flaming brand in his hands. Then I realized twas his powder horn that twas lit and sputterin’ in his hand.
From the tother side of the path, the Reverend now came, bloody and disheveled and lacking his periwig. Of a sudden, his aspect turned all as midnight with his skin taken on the glossy black appearance of obsidian.
Now, Major Zed had told me that the Royal Family had a most obsessive attraction to all things that shine and glint in the light. So it twas that when the Reverend, by some strange artifice, transformed his skin into a shining black stone, it proved to be irresistible to the clop-headed royal.
With a great shout of “Shiny!” the Prince flung himself upon the Devil.