Episode 1 - WOLF and SKULL!


          So! By the radio I hear our Winnetou has put an end to himself in Asgard’s rubble; an end that will be received jubilantly and with many wrong reasonings. Already our Fourth Estate reviles him as a coward... such is the prerogative of victors as they walk in ignorance of, or denial in, the Einherjahr. Whereas Winnetou, in his myriad, squirming minds, was only flinging his soul beyond reach of his enemies, passing not to the depths but the Azur. Of course the Fuhrer would have loathed captivity - display as one of those trained apes in Haeckel's zoo would have negated his Reich, so... Death! As one of those silly Red Indian romances he treasured in those days when we were young, filled with young thoughts and dangerous dreams. An epoch one critic called a civilization deluged, leaving only a few tall hats bobbing upon the waves.

          After the Praemonstrator passed, Frater DEDI... for "Demon (or Daimon?) et Deus Inversi", something near that, if you will trust an old man's memories... rededicated his Vision to Vestigia. "Because of a number of young men and women, you and I among the number (in his draft, later corrected, "you and one other - with whom I quarreled") met forty years ago in London and Paris to discuss mystical philosophy." Ezra Pound dismissed our circle mockingly... "lobster suppers, rats!"... that one now in the dock, our Sudenbach! The Beast's reply would probably have been vulgar, certainly purple... but again, has that not always been the royal color, whether celestial or infernal?

          In age, one's spirit wages war between bitterness and forgetfulness (which in the rare, saintly disposition blossoms into forgiveness). So my recollection of times and events may fail, at times, the test of trustworthiness... more in matters of time than being... but remember, please, these were our Hermetic days. As I’ve remembered them.

          All weighty affairs have a beginning, so I shall presume the Bonesmen's skull to be mine, since it was to engender consequences spilling over the last three months of the last century and into our own. Once upon a time, as tales of gnomes and fairies go, there was a boy named Cameron... myself... a banker's son, who played with hoops and ate puddings; who studied Latin and geometry and who innocently determined to become a scientist (for some of those who came to his father for funds succeeded in their patents and became wealthy, even distinguished). But at University, young Arthur fell in with a Brotherhood of drinkers and carousers who fought now and again with rival Orders until, one night in October, 1899... inspired by bold talk and hard cider... a wager was made that he... I... could penetrate the Bonesmen's keep and abscond with their tabernacle, a skull said to have belonged to the Chief of the Wampanoag Indians, killed in battle with settlers in the swamps of New Jersey some two centuries earlier.

          I have always had a faculty for making swift, if not altogether sound decisions, and the cider's sway quickly dissipated in the cold moonlight of criminal undertakings. Wrapping a dark cloak about my shoulders, I pulled the Wolf-mask over my face... for such was the emblem of we, Lupercals... and, though my eyes were unobstructed, saw my fellows as a predator might.  Lambs for the spit... boys! Here was enterprising for a man!

          As a precursor to the initiation of my adventure, I took the precaution of rubbing laudanum and certain other sleep-inducing salts into a ball of ground meat and slinging a length of hooked rope over my shoulder. Before he grew too important to do so, my father used to take me climbing those rocks found in the upper reaches of New York State, even those of New Hampshire; I had acquired a dexterity of footwork which, I trusted, should suffice to scale, then penetrate the Bonesmen's keep and seize their tabernacle. A tall hat, to draw attention away from the mask, and knuckles for any unfortunate insomniac lurking about - such were my preparations. The boys drank more cider, wished me well... I do not think they expected me to return and, in a manner of speaking, I never have.

          The Ossuary was worthy opposition I attacked deliberately and by stages. It was... and remains... entirely enclosed by a brick wall nearly the height of three men and, at such late hour, attendance could be gained only through a gate manned by a keeper from town and his dogs. I probably could have overpowered the fellow, being stronger in those days and a pupil of Gemmy Maires (who'd trained boxers including, for a time, a competent challenger to the heavyweight champion, Gentleman Jim Corbett). But among the Lupercalians I had advertised my intellectual prowess, not mere brute force... so instead had gone round to the back of the wall which fronted a sort of meadow where several fine old oaks coexisted uneasily with several more rather horrid imitations of Greek and Roman statuary; hurling my apparatus upward until the hook caught hold on the third attempt I was able to pull myself up hand over hand... perhaps not so rapidly nor aesthetically as the Beast approached his Andes or Himalayas, but sufficient to reach a ledge with perhaps eighteen inches' depth and access to an open window visible across a crenelated roof.

          And beneath... the dogs!

          We Wolves knew the Bonesmen kept a pair of them about; large, ill-tempered Alsatians, and I confess what apprehension I had that evening was mainly influenced by their location and probable disposition. So, having made my way to the window, I lingered, waiting for their approach and hoping that their training still favored attack, engagement and dismemberment over giving vocal warnings.

          By and by the hounds came sniffing round... together as I'd hoped... I leaned through the window and tossed the pair their snack, then waited for nature to take its course. What I'd given them was candy compared to Bennett's potion that Stoker, the English writer deceased now thirty years... forty?... delivered me from, but I swear I heard one give a sort of yawn, their legs swayed and the dogs lay down, shook their heads, snuffled a bit, then slept.

          I found myself upon a sort of landing I remembered from two years ago, when I'd been taken through the Ossuary during one of that sort of feeling-out pledges are given... whether the Bonesmen first decided I was not their sort or I gave notice quite escapes me... I am pretty good with most details of that era but not all, as I believe I have explained (and my children never cease reminding me). At any rate, I had a row of rooms to pass before the stairway but, fortunately, there were no midnight toilers and the lock on the Temple door was perfunctory - easily picked.

          And there... in its glass case... the Wampanoag skull!

          It was there, also, that I first encountered Vartanian light; the blue of Boleskine married to deep and bloody crimson ichor, trapped and roiling in glass cylinders... an almost liquid constituency. These cylinders hung from wires in queer shapes... straight lines and circles, some, but also oozing polyhedrons that pulsed as vessels containing an unhealthy blood.  I recall thinking of the Curies, but only a moment - glass was forced and Wampanoag's skull retrieved.

          From the folds of the cloak I drew my substitute... another skull, but smaller and of different origin; one that might not draw attention under careless scrutiny until the High Ossuary Revels in a fortnight. Such was my modest ambition. Of course it all would come to ruin, and I have only my own carelessness to blame... but without such carelessness I would have never traveled to London and Paris and Germany, never have achieved Zelatorship, made love to Sapienta nor escaped the wrath of Winnetou and his teachers... I probably would never even have learned of the Golden Dawn!

          I have Viereck to thank. He'd brought back a girl from town to the Ossuary and had evidently been dozing while I'd approached the Temple - anyway he'd recovered and as they were about their business the door slid open. Charlie Viereck… well, he never gave a damn for what others thought of him, I'll grant him that, a quality one may look at as a virtue or failing. We could have been brothers, almost, but ended up mortal enemies, even well after Boleskine once he and Crowley went into business publishing scurrilous papers which Aleister, now, claims was a plot to misdirect the German Templars and Viereck counters was his plot to entrap the Beast! Anyway, Viereck's back was towards me... the rump portion of it, rather... I recollect he'd neglected to remove his socks. He never did see me... then... but his dolly did, and set to screamings that would certainly have been the downfall of Jack the Ripper had it been London rather than a quiet campus in New Jersey wherein she'd chosen to ply her trade.

          What could I do but tip my hat as any gentleman... the mask, I might add, was of superb quality one doesn't find these days... limned in fur but from a rather less formidable creature than a wolf. Raccoon perhaps... I believe the smile that I flashed permitted quite a glimpse of its ivory fangs. Viereck did not turn round... whether he feared what he'd see or was deluded by masculine vanity is something I've never come round to asking... but I heard a door open and a shout down the hall was answered by others which seemed to originate from the glade outside. Abandoning my intent to escape through the window, I hurried instead down the steps to the parlor, then out the front door.

          The watchman was just beginning to stir as I fled across the Keep, it had been perhaps ten minutes and the conjugal sounds had roused him, or maybe he'd just wondered what had happened to his Alsatians. I'd slipped the knuckles over my gloved fist and caught him as he reached for my cloak; he fell backwards over his chair and I let myself out.

          The way to the highway and escape was peppered with lights; approaching lanterns... and I'd run back round the Keep, meaning to lose any pursuers in the forest which abutted a small plain. Beyond were other University buildings, including the sanctuary of Wolf Hall which I could have achieved with a minimal effort. Instead I encountered a distraction... two men locked in mortal struggle within the bowers of the largest tree!

          A rope had been looped round the neck of one and as I approached, Bonesmen with lanterns in pursuit behind, the unfortunate fellow was pushed from his perch, landing... or dangling, rather... no more than a yard from my nose with his heels but six inches from the ground. Six fatal inches! I clearly heard the horrible snap of spine and blood gouted from his mouth and nose and ears. The murderer leaped and tumbled across the grass but rose catlike; as I thought to close upon him, he raised a dagger against the moon and shook it towards me. Here we stood - two forces that might have regarded one another from within and without an occult mirror black as that of Chancery Lane... the assassin was cloaked and masked also, but with black gauze that gave his head the aspect of a great, dark insect... one of those larger cockroaches one sees in Southern states.

          He raised his knife!

          We measured one another on that plain of banal statuary... under badly cast stone eyes of David and a neutered Apollo, fauns and centaurs, bronzed heroes atop big-assed steeds... and the approaching Bonesmen and police called out "Stop! Stay where you are!"

          The assassin lunged and I parried but lost my footing... he raised his dagger (which, in what I thought was certainly my last moment on earth, was covered with occult inscriptions). I rolled - the knife came down, buried to the hilt in the soil at the dead man's feet.

          I heard a rifle's bark which, by the numerous lights, would soon become a volley... the assassin had fled into the wood but I would have no such chance, I did that which I had to do then sought to discern if anything could be done for the hanged man who, however, proved quite dead.

          "Get away from there and keep your hands up!" said a policeman behind one of the lanterns.

          "The fellow whom you want has gone into that wood!" I pointed but without succor.

          "We have you and you'll lead us to him by and by!" another predicted and, rather than risk a fatal misunderstanding, I rose my hands and was surrounded... the worst of it, however, being that one of those following the law was Viereck, a robe now thrown over his thick haunches.

          "Let's have a look at you!" said the one who was Sergeant of the police, and the wolf-mask was torn off my face with such vehemence that it ripped nearly in twain. I never have found an equal to it and now... what would be the point?

          "That's him!" Viereck volunteered. "There's your murderer - it's Cameron, he's a Wolf.  A thief! He swiped the Wampanoag Skull and replaced it with a monkey's... then did murder to cover up his crime. Arrest him!"

          And the Bonesman shoved his snubby snout towards my chin, the better to spray me with spittle... which was a trait of Viereck, when agitated... he had failed, himself, to see that the town girl had followed him out and, so, had attracted the attention of the police.

          "You'll hang yourself... Wolf!... if it were up to me I'd rather see you strapped in a chair like they do over the ocean, in Europe, and slain with polyphasic current! Now... where is our Skull?


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