1888: London, England
Lord Diabolos could always feel the link between him and those he ascended, or brought into the Djinn life. William was a loose cannon, but the Lord already knew that when he changed Old Dirty Willie. That was the whole reason Diabolos gave him even the slightest inkling of attention during the Vlad the Impaler days, the life from which William had been derived. William provided Diabolos with a continuous stream of entertainment, and he knew he could easily stalk Willie from behind the ether curtain without his knowledge, or even in Reality, posing as a peasant in the crowd of vagabonds. As long as William didn’t see Diabolos’s face, he could maintain his stealthy surveillance. William had caught Diabolos watching him once but he had vanished before his cover had been blown.
Now, here in the sprawling, dirty, overcrowded section of London, Lord Diabolos had again successfully followed Old Dirty without his knowledge. Willie had suspicions of being followed and it had caused him to change course numerous times, but William’s worries eased when he felt he had turned enough corners to shake any possible assailants from his trail. William was always aware of his surroundings. He had learned and honed his skills through multiple wars and in the many assassin missions he had taken on.
William’s depravity for brutalization had become legendary, and if it weren’t for society’s lack of willingness to believe in the supernatural, someone might have connected the dots. But with each turn of civilized society, William grew ever more bored and wanted to do something that would scar the history books, something that would stir fear in people’s hearts, just as he had in the old days. His art of impaling was carved into Destiny’s handbook. In those early days, he displayed death so publicly that it had scared off even the most fearless men. Now he wanted to go the opposite route. A creeper in the shadows, no one would be safe. He wanted to take on the role of People’s Villain. He wanted to become the Bogeyman of modern London.
In his True Life during the 15th century, he had performed the impaling as a warning to his enemies in the Hungarian army to stay away. Now he wanted to scare people into believing they couldn’t escape. He had attempted several tactics but rarely managed to gain the full splendor he wished for. On one such occasion a century previous, he massacred an entire village and spread their skins out on the ground like blankets. His misfortune lied in the fact that no one crossed through that town until long after the local animals had taken the human meat as food, and later an enormous storm rolled through, washing away the blood trails.
Perhaps his most famous skirmish lied with the Torsåker Witch Trials of 1675 where he posed as the Reverend Lars Christophri Hornæus. He effectively tried and murdered 75 unfortunate souls, condemning them to a life in the bowels of Tartarus. As the decades passed, he slowly felt the need to resurrect that level of infamy. He missed that terror. That is why he decided to perform in a more public fashion, especially in this hub of sophistication, a place where people might feel fear they’ve never had to experience before.
Diabolos was a diligent spectating specter. He waited patiently as William planned his work of art. Through his extensive experience, William knew it wasn’t necessary to extinguish a large collection of victims just to make an impact. Instead, he would focus on a certain group. Diabolos could feel William’s excitement as he eagerly narrowed down his list and finally pinpointed the desired group, prostitutes. The Whitechapel district had a distinctly high percentage of street walkers. Diabolos knew why William had chosen London; it was dirty, overcrowded, and highly publicized. With the newspapers wide circulation, as well as its journalists attempting to make a name for themselves, word would spread more quickly here than almost any other city.
Diabolos could feel William’s attitude change when he finally worked up the nerve to commence with the act. It was a different sensation than he had previously recalled feeling. William had always been more impulsive. Now that he had actually made a plan, it seemed to make him nervous. He knew the officials wouldn’t find him. That wasn’t the problem. It was that he had thought about it before hand.
The plan was easy; he would allow the diseased whores to lure him into the shadows. He even took the time to plan exactly which ones he’d choose. William did so by becoming a legitimate doctor, attending the London schools of medicine, and inspecting the women he found to be the worst of the bunch. In a sadistic way, he found an avenue to channel his rage. This had never been easy for the man.
It seemed that his rage went through spurts. After Diabolos had turned him originally, William seemed to calm down. Fighting with his nemesis King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary continued and he seemed to have fun with it, as did Matthias. They gave each other something to focus on, until Matthias’s body was destroyed in Torsåker. Proud as he was that he outlasted his foe, William soon realized it was a mistake to allow Matthias to fully separate from the shriveled up corpse he left behind. His companion in immortality was gone, although Matthias had learned ways to torture William in his sleep through his dreams.
William soon turned to slaughter, which brought little relief. It wasn’t until now that he felt something that nearly calmed his nerves, a focal point brought on by actual time invested in determining a perfect target. Not even during the actual assassinations did he feel such exhilaration.
Once his schooling was completed, his office was paid for, and his reputation established, William took on several cases. William had become obsessed, taking on a load not even closely matched by his peers. He had become fixated on finding a common trait on which to focus. It couldn’t be something ordinary. Upon further examination, Diabolos noticed that Willie’s attitude changed as he uncovered the piece of the puzzle that he was looking for. He wasn’t looking for a disease or a virus, instead, he found a specific parasite that harbored itself in the women’s reproductive organs.
William’s patience surprised Diabolos, as it didn’t match with his earlier days. Diabolos couldn’t believe that his impulsiveness to slay had nearly been eradicated. He even managed to engage himself in the idle pleasures of modern upscale London, which was easy considering his field of expertise. Becoming a doctor made it incredibly easy for others to consider him one of the elite.
Eventually, the night life wasn’t enough and William’s rage was building. It was time, and he could no longer hesitate. He looked through his files and found victim number one, tracked her down, and followed her until she realized she was being followed. She turned to meet him with fear in her eyes until she saw who it was that was following her.
“Dr. Faust, you startled me,” The woman gasped.
“I apologize, my dear Mary.” William had mastered the British accent, although the slight hint of his Romanian roots remained at the edges. “I’ve come to speak with you.”
“Sir, I’m a working girl and I’m on the job. Could we talk in your office tomorrow?” The soft-spoken harlot requested.
“How much is your time worth?”
“Are you employing me, doctor?”
“As a matter of fact, I do have a fancy for you.”
She smiled so coyly at the surprise of having her very own doctor welcome her trade. “We can discuss this further in private.” She took William by the arm and coaxed him back further into the alley, into one of the darkest corners.
“Tell me, my dear Mary, what made you want to take on this sort of work?”
“I enjoy the sex. It’s one of the purest forms of freedom as long as it is done with someone you enjoy being around,” Mary said as she took the white lace blouse off and perked her breasts together to entice Doctor Faust even further. He was aroused, but the ever-present Diabolos could feel the confusion in William’s mind. Diabolos wasn’t completely sure if he even understood what was going on at this point. William’s brutal nature seemed to integrate seamlessly with the sexual arousal and, as he caressed Mary’s neck with his lips, a small surgical knife appeared in his hand. With one quick movement her throat was gashed open. William intentionally missed the arteries to avoid blood spraying all over him.
The woman was still alive, but had no fight left in her as William commenced removing the uterus first, then, as if a realization had taken place half way through the dissection, he carefully acquired sever other organs. William pulled a bag from his pocket and collected the innards.
Diabolos felt it was the proper time to interrupt. “Having fun?” He asked, lighting up a pipe full of tobacco. He was sitting on a ledge just above William’s line of sight, although William immediately knew it was Diabolos from the distinct unmistakable voice.
William drew the pouch closed and glared towards Diabolos with a scowl, “How long has it been since we last saw one another?”
“If you mean, how long has it been since you saw me, well, I would put it at nearly a century.”
“So, you have been following me?” William didn’t seem surprised.
“I’ve been bored. You have been out of the game far too long, and it excites me that you’ve jumped back into it.”
“Yes, well, I have work to do,” William dismissed, not looking at the Old Man.
“Don’t let me get in your way.” Diabolos indicated for him to continue on his way. “I was just curious what you were looking for.”
“I’ll let you know when I find it.”
Diabolos’s ever-playful manner came across as he toyed, “Searching for the missing link? Interesting.”
William snorted and walked away. Diabolos could tell he had confused William. Before walking too far, he asked, “What’s your name this decade?”
“You mean this century?”
Diabolos shrugged. “We’re coming up on a new century, so I haven’t decided yet. I was thinking Mephistopheles might be fitting.”
“That’s pure rubbish. Come up with something less tasteless.”
“Smug prick.” Diabolos couldn’t help but appreciate William’s brash attitude. Diabolos allowed him to feel like he had retreated from the all-seeing eye, although Diabolos didn’t stray far. One more quick glance at the specimen that William left behind and Diabolos realized he was quite impressed with the clean cuts Willie had made to remove the organs. There were only a few nicked blood vessels but, for the most part, it was a clean kill and it took a few hours before the first innocent bystander noticed the body.
A few days elapsed before William emerged from his office. His mind seemed to be focused, although Diabolos couldn’t tell exactly what the cause was. He was waiting for William outside.
“You’re here still?” William asked as he locked his door.
Diabolos had made himself comfortable sitting at a bench just alongside the park nearby to the good doctor’s office. “I’m just curious as to what you’re looking for by taking the uterus and ovaries. Are you planning on making an artificial baby, or perhaps something more extravagant?”
“I have no intentions of creating fetuses. Give me a few more days and I’ll explain further. I have to do more research before I can state anything for certain.”
“I don’t know if I ever told you this, but I once dabbled in the intricacies of physiology and anatomy.”
“You told me that once. You explained to me what you did, and at the time I knew very little of the words you spoke. But now, I suppose I am approaching your level of knowledge on the field.”
“That’s true. I just wanted to let you know that I can help with your research if you wish it.”
“Maybe in a few days. Let me research on my own while the concepts are juicy and ripe for the plucking.”
William walked away but, before getting too far, he looked back to Diabolos. “Why did you wait 100 years? You of all people should know how long that is for someone like me.”
Diabolos simply answered, “You’re performing an experiment, as was I.”
“And your conclusion?”
“You’ve done something I hadn’t expected.”
“Your persona has changed.”
William tittered, “Don’t be entirely sure of that. I may have changed my techniques, but the brutal rage inside me still burns terribly. I’ve just learned to bottleneck it through different channels.”
Diabolos nodded and appreciated his honesty. William walked into the darkness beyond Diabolos’s vision, towards his next victim. He left Old Dirty to his dirty work and thought about what William had said. Even as he spoke about his rage, his voice was calm and relaxed. When he slashed through the flesh of that young lady, he was disturbingly at ease. Whatever rage brewed below the surface, Diabolos wanted to learn what William’s little secret was.
William knew Diabolos didn’t travel far from him. With a few more fresh kills under his belt utilizing a similar style, William had done exactly what he wanted, attracted attention to himself without giving any clues that could condemn him. He thrived on the new attention and it helped him focus further. He had established himself as a serial killer, The Leather Apron. Not only that, but he had found himself a scapegoat, a Polish man named John Pizer, and as soon as public opinion formulated its own ideas, William made a mockery of the judicial system. Blame had been directed in dozens of directions, all pointing further and further from Dr. William Faust himself. He basked in the deception, and somehow felt a little jealous that others were taking his glory. He maintained his composure, but without being known as the center point of the investigation, William felt left out of his own mystery.
Diabolos approached again about a month after invading William’s turbulent mental well-being, and William was fully prepared, anticipating the meeting. He was excited about a find he had determined was something that couldn’t have possibly been discovered yet.
“Oh good, you’re here! Come with me.”
Diabolos loved his enthusiasm. “Made a discovery?” He was just as eager to see what William had uncovered as he was to exhibit the findings. Diabolos artificially procrastinated the rendezvous just to add suspense.
“Yes, it’s amazing. Come and look!” William pulled Diabolos inside his clinic.
William fixed a microscope upon a glass slide with blood cells cemented in the center. Somehow William had developed a much more advanced microscope than what was currently available and just that little feat impressed Diabolos. He was pushing technology, pioneering within a new medical field.
“I’m looking, but what should I be focusing on?”
“This is one of the uterine egg cells from the first woman I exterminated. Now, look at the next slide. This is from the second woman.”
Diabolos realized what it was that William had been searching for. If William was seeing what Diabolos noted, he had discovered a link to the ancient bloodlines. At the cellular level, the ether state is disrupted. William replaced the slide with that of a woman that wasn’t on his list, a normal random woman, and Diabolos could instantly see the difference.
“What does this mean?” William asked.
“How did you discover this?” Diabolos was excited, but baffled. “I think I know what it means, but how…”
“Purely by accident during my medical studies.”
“This might be our ticket through the barrier.”
“Explain that. I remember The Four of you talking about the barrier, but tell me what you know. I need to know so I can further focus on what I’m looking for.”
Diabolos was almost hesitant to speak of it again. He had talked about it so many times that it had become just a story in his head. Finally, with the deep chasm of inky blackness within William’s eyes staring him down, he recalled the old story. “The Old Gods had given men the ability to understand forces they shouldn’t have known. One day, men turned on the Gods in an attempt to remove the Gods from their power source, but they had the power source wrong. The Gods then took the men, separated half of them across the continents, changing their ability to understand a common language and took away the given abilities. The rest of the men, the technology based part, were then banished into a realm that cannot be reached by natural means.” This was the simplest and easiest version of the forbidden land, Machina, that Diabolos was able to convey.
“Do you think what I’ve found here might be able to help us cross over?”
“Not just this, but it is an important piece to the puzzle.”
Diabolos decided to work alongside William for a while. He had, in fact, sparked a long lost interest in heredity once again, something Diabolos gave up eons ago.
With a total of ten different specimens, five of which made the headlines and five others that were suspected, but not connected to, The Leather Apron, William had completed a uniform theory of what they were looking for. Before he killed the women, Diabolos analyzed their bodily energy, known as mana. William was able to see the difference in their level, although it was only a slight variation. Diabolos had seen this variation in many people throughout the years, but he thought it was just a natural fluctuation. He had no idea that it was a connection to the ancient race of the Magi.
During their studies, a thought crossed Diabolos’s mind. “You know what could cement your place in history as a serial killer?”
William was all ears, smiling in a way that even frightened Diabolos. “What’s that?”
“Send the Scotland Yard a letter from Hell.” Diabolos laughed as if he meant it as a joke.
William took the suggestion seriously. “What should I write?”
“Mention something about not being able to catch you,” Diabolos suggested, realizing William was going to go through with it after noticing his excited state. “Send a trinket with the letter.”
William looked around the room and saw exactly what he wanted to give. “Look, that was from the first victim.” He pointed to Mary’s kidney.
“Perfect. You don’t need it for anything, do you?”
“No. I analyzed it and found nothing of use.”
“I have one more suggestion for the letter. Intentionally misspell it.”
William laughed. “Yes! They’ll be so confused. The kidney will confirm my letter, but it will look to be written by an imbecile. Perfect!”
Diabolos continued examining our specimens, looking for common links. The way the cells’ ether flow was affected reminded him of something he saw within the domain of the Dreaming. Inside that realm, everything reacts and adjusts based on people’s thoughts. The natural order was therefore disrupted when the Djinn injected themselves into other people’s dreams. It almost seemed as if these cells belonged to another entity invading the Dreaming, something that didn’t belong in Reality. Although this was a significant find, and a basis for future studies, Diabolos was disappointed to find it of little use at that point.
A week later, the city was buzzing with the news of the letter sent to the police. Diabolos and William enjoyed the anonymous attention and threw a party for all of High Society to celebrate, although the real reasoning was undisclosed. People walking by Dr. Faust’s office frequently mentioned the newest details uncovered by Scotland Yard, with their own spin on theories, of course, as well as the new name given to the demon of London’s East End, Jack the Ripper.
Diabolos noticed a new motivation burning within William, reminding him of his impaling days. “See, I told you that you don’t have to slaughter thousands to gain a reputation,” he said as they sat on a park bench.
“I know. This was much easier. These women didn’t kick and scream when I took care of them.”
“You don’t miss those days, do you?”
“As filthy as this time and place is, I am happy to know where we’ve come. I don’t wish anything I’ve done to not have happened, but I wouldn’t want to relive those times, knowing what I know now. I couldn’t even imagine your position. You have millennia of memories stacked on mine. How hard was it?”
“The first few years were the hardest. My Protogenoi brethren realized our fates had been sealed and we couldn’t change our outcome, so we accepted it and allowed time to take us.”
“What was your favorite memory?”
“My original introduction into the Dreaming, without the need to fall asleep.”
“I can’t wait to go. I’d have fun playing in the recesses of people’s thoughts.”
“I’ve never taken you there?”
William shook his head.
“It’s a bit confusing at first. The intangibility wreaks havoc on the senses, but once you’ve grasped the realm, it might be your favorite playground.”
“Is it possible to incite nightmares?”
Diabolos smiled. “You may ignite a night-terror bomb if you wish!”
And that’s how Old Dirty Willie kept the interest of Jack the Ripper brewing for over a century, kids!