Subject: Frater V.O.V.
Time Period: 1891-1901
Video Summary: The DDS will synchronize with the memories of an aged man. You may feel you have less energy, poor hearing and eye sight and even experience bodily aches. This is normal, if you feel pain in your left arm however, please stop and consult your physician.
The Victorian era is characterized by growth, prosperity, political reform and major technological and scientific progress. Interest in the occult also increased during this period. You are about to infiltrate the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
Magna est Veritas
Through the confines of the System, I have relived these memories countless times, not unlike a certain weatherman and a famous groundhog.
Although the events that unfold here are no longer in my control—for they have come to pass—I am free to color them as I like.
- Thousands of people, from all casts and all parts of the world, have seen, or will soon see, the tales I have to tell.
- This, however, is not here and now. For the moment, let's step back into the past and look at the events that led to that grizzly graveyard scene.
- I tend to the plants in my green house, trying to ignore the ache in my back, when I hear footsteps behind me. Slowly, I turn to face young Gustav Meyrink.
- I patiently listen to Meyrink's ideas, nodding absently while I water my Papaver rhoeas. He wants me to act as an editor of sorts. I mumble, and he seems satisfied.
- Meyrink's most famous work—which he has not yet written—will be "DerGolem," a book with a unique tale on the Golem of Prague. Well... you and I were just there, weren't we?
- Meyrink leaves the greenhouse, but an uninvited guest is about to enter—this one with grim purport.
Vota Vita Mea
Right on time, the assassin arrives. No, he is not of THAT Order. He is a highly skilled, independent assassin, sent by one of the other co-founders of MY Order.
- I hear a sound in the distance, but attribute it to Meyrink leaving. The assassin is a professional. He will not reveal his presence.
- I put the watering can beside a cluster of poinsettias, which reminds me that Christmas is at our doorstep—like my killer, so to speak.
- I briefly wonder who of my two colleagues, of my two oldest and dearest friends, the assassin works for. It could be either of them; perhaps even both.
- They both have good reasons to be rid of me, but they have very different motives. One wants me dead; the other has a much more sinister idea.
- The assassin is right behind me. I feel his presence, though he has not made a sound. I close my eyes and take one last breath, for I see no reason to resist him.
- Besides, how could I? I'm just an old man stuck in a broken body. The poison spreads quickly through my veins. Gladly, I welcome it.
Lux E Tenebris
The gaslight lanterns they carry illuminate the coffin around which they have gathered—MY coffin.
The sky is clear, the moon bright, the wind howling, but all I hear is their guttural dirge. I recognize the ritual, for I helped develop it.
- It feels strange being here, looking down at my own grave. Somehow, it's like being trapped in a horror novel, but without the adrenaline rush.
- Don't get me wrong, I knew it would come to this, but somehow I thought I'd feel different about it. I'm impassive, detached, in a dream like state.
- They do not suspect I am here, standing among them. But Mathers, the Evoker of Spirits, knows. He does not show it, though. He simply goes on with the ritual.
- I am fortunate. After all, it is not everyday that one gets a chance to see his own funeral. It gives me an opportunity to observe them—with a slightly different perspective.
- The Evoker, my old friend, finally utters the words that complete the ritual. I am satisfied with the ceremony. It was well performed—though completely useless.
- My former colleagues and subordinates leave the cemetery. Only Moina, Mathers' wife, remains. She pulls off her hood, turns her head, and looks straight at me.
Moina's blue eyes seem to penetrate the very depths of my soul. I should not be surprised; after all, she is known as "the Seeress." I would smile, but cannot.
- As though sensing my desire, Moina smiles at me. I try to read her thoughts, but she will not reveal anything to me. Not now; perhaps not ever.
- Moina's compassion and determination—and perhaps the raven hair framing her lovely face—remind me of Maria. Dear, dear Maria! How I have missed you!
- Without breaking eye contact, the Seeress salutes me, as she would salute a peer. It is true what they say: behind every great man is a great woman.
- I watch her leave. Her slender body, cast in gaslight, is eventually swallowed by the night. I turn my gaze toward my grave and read the epithet on the tomb stone.
- You may wonder why I let the assassin strike, why I did not even attempt to stop him. If you do, then you have no idea how it is to be trapped in a broken shell.
- The real reason, however, isn't old age. It's friendship—although at the time I didn't know for which of two friends I was doing it. I remain faithful.
Vincit Omnia Veritas
Let me explain how it all began. You see, both of them were right. Or, I should say, both of them had good reasons to want to get rid of me.
- Remember the other book? The one Giovanni stole from Bombastus' laboratory; the one in which the formula to turn base metal into gold materialized before his very eyes.
- Well, as you know, Giovanni had only one part of the now rather famous "Book of Abraham." Unfortunately for him, he never found the original "Divine Science" part.
- This is where it gets interesting. Many years later, toward the end of the nineteenth century, these ancient tomes resurfaced.
- I won't bore you with a detailed history of these books. They changed hands so many times you'd only get confused, if not bored to death.
- Besides, who would want to know? Well, actually, I'm sure THEY would. But, as you may have guessed, I don't work for them.
- Back to our story. Somehow, the complete, original volumes containing Abraham's knowledge found their way into the hands of my good friend, Samuel Liddell Mathers.
Quod Scis Nescis
I sit in the inner sanctum, a tome of THE BOOK upon my lap. I look at my reflection in the silvery sheen of its cover.
- Mathers is at his desk, lost in the first part of this priceless artifact. I am distracted by the scratching sounds of Mathers' fountain pen as he diligently translates the volume.
- I open the book, silently cursing my rheumatism. Old age has never agreed with me. Absently, I glance at the ancient words, symbols, and numbers.
- The third member of our little triumvirate enters the room. "You cannot do this, Samuel!" I raise my head and see Westcott's face, grim under his thick beard.
- Mathers meets Westcott's gaze. "This translation is for us. These secrets, these ancient formulas, they shall remain ours, and ours alone."
- "Then why are you planning to publish it?" Westcott slams his fist on the desk, sending papers to the floor. "Yes, I know about your little scheme."
- I sigh. Even Giovanni understood. A copy—or worse, a translation—is absolutely useless. If only they knew the truth.
Cogito Ergo Sum
What was once a perfect partnership, what we once defined as "Harmony", is now about to shatter into a thousand pieces.
- He knows what I am. Mathers, the Evoker of Spirits, my old friend, has seen beyond the corporeal. He has already warned Westcott about me, despite the tensions between them.
- They are arguing now, for they do not know what to do with me. They both agree on one thing, at least: I need to disappear.
- Their drive is fuelled by ambition, of course, but mostly it is fear that motivates them—though they would never admit it.
- Westcott says they have no further need of me. I have to admit, I am not as active in the daily affairs of the Order as I used to.
- Westcott believes I have given them everything they could possibly want. He thinks they cannot learn anything more from me.
- The Evoker, however, believes otherwise. Yet he succumbs to Westcott's request. They will send an assassin after me. And, as you know, I will gladly welcome him.
You have already witnessed the events that led to my demise, so let's move forward now, some five years after that fateful day.
- Despite my passing, no one was appointed to replace me in our triad. Mathers and Westcott rule alone—but they do not rule as one.
- The Evoker—he goes by the title of Imperator now—has played his hand well. For five years, he has kept the truth hidden from Westcott.
- Westcott, the Praemonstrator, does not have the gift that Mathers—both of them—possess, but he is no fool. He knows he has been played.
- "I know about... HIM!" Westcott spits out the last word. I suppose I should be offended. "You have gone too far this time, IMPERATOR!"
- Until now, only Mathers, his wife Moina, and Berridge, a trusted adept from the Inner Order, were in the know. "This is the last straw!"
- Westcott leaves the sanctum. The Imperator looks through me, the left side of his mouth curved in an eerie grin. He has been expecting this.
The Praemonstrator plots a coup, to kick Mathers out of the Order. Alas, he is too late. In this game, the Imperator is several moves ahead of him.
- Edmund William Berridge is one of the few acolytes that Mathers implicitly trusts. I am not surprised to see the Imperator turn to him in this moment of crisis.
- I follow Berridge, a man always eager to serve, through the streets of London. He enters a hansom cab. I sit beside him, but of course he cannot see me.
- After a few blocks, Berridge gets out of the cab, leaving papers behind—papers which reveal Westcott's interest in black, ritualistic magic. How delightfully wicked!
- The papers fall in the hands of the authorities. Westcott cannot hope to keep his position as Crown Coroner while suspected of being a magician. He has no choice. He leaves the Order.
- The Imperator is now in complete control. I am with him, in the private sanctum the three of us used to share, and stare at the wide grin upon his face.
- The Imperator's mirth turns to gloom, then to fury. THE BOOK is gone! I could tell you what happened to it, but that is another story. For now, let's continue to explore this one.
The Imperator plays a dangerous game. He does not realize it yet, but his position is precarious. He rules like a king, but his subjects will soon revolt.
The King has lost many pawns. His Queen stays in London while he isolates himself in Paris. I'm not talking about his wife, in case you were wondering.
- No, Moina is with us in Paris. The "Queen" I refer to is Miss Farr, the Imperator's representative in England—the one who has, in essence, replaced Westcott.
- I take my place in the empty chair in front of the Imperator. He stares not at me, but at the chess board upon the table between us.
- He sits in front of the white pieces, as always. I suspect he secretly fancies himself a White Knight. No. Not a White Knight. That would be beneath him.
- He is, after all, Imperator, sole ruler, King, of what was once OUR Order. Perhaps "White Magus" would be more appropriate. Yes... Samuel the White.
- Mathers moves his knight in a flank opening. Closing his eyes, he brings his hands under his chin, as though praying. "Your turn," he whispers.
- The Imperator has yet to beat me at this game, but he perseveres. It is one of the things I admire most about him. If only he knew when to stop.
We have been playing for a fortnight and our tournament is progressing nicely. Mathers is a worthy opponent, despite his weaknesses.
- A knock distracts the Imperator. "Excuse me." He turns toward the door and a lean, young man steps into the sanctum: Mathers' initiate—no doubt you've heard of him.
- The young man is about to say something when his eyes suddenly widen, focusing on me. Though we do not speak, I am actually glad to meet him.
- This man, Aleister Crowley, has a—how shall I put it?—UNIQUE future ahead of him. He will become one of the most influential occultists of his time.
- The press will dub him "the wickedest man in the world" and he will transcend the knowledge he is about to gain through our Order. He will even beget his own religion.
- The most interesting bit, however, is Crowley's claim that he is the reincarnation of our friends Rodrigo Borgia and Edward Kelley, as well as several other influential figures.
- Unfortunately for the Imperator, "the Beast," as Crowley likes to call himself, will also trigger a chain of events that will cause a great schism within the Order.
I am being unfair. It is not so much "the Beast" as the Imperator's own pride that will trigger the beginning of the end for the Order. Let me show you...
- Remember I told you that Mathers, the Imperator, had appointed Miss Farras his representative in England, after Westcott's departure? Well...
- Aleister Crowley is a rather ambitious member of the Outer Order, and he has requested an audience with Miss Farrat in the Isis - Urania temple in London.
- Miss Farris is not happy to receive him. She knows what he seeks, and she will not give into his demands. Who would? The man is a ticking time bomb!
- "I have learned everything I possibly could!" Crowley argues. "I demand to be allowed into the Inner Order!" he screams—not the strategy I would have recommended.
- "If you cannot control your emotions, Mr. Cr—" The Beast suddenly jumps on her desk, shrieking deafeningly. "Mr. Crowl—" Crowley raises his fist!
- Eyes closed, Miss Farr whimpers, waiting for the Beast to strike. Instead, Crowley begins to guffaw uncontrollably.
And now, back at the Ahathoor temple!
- In Paris, the Beast enters the Imperator's sanctum. Wetting his lips, he peeks in my direction, but quickly focuses his attention on Mathers.
- The Imperator smiles to himself. I suspect he knows that Crowley can see me, but he will not reveal it. Not to the Beast, not to me, not to anyone.
- My old, dear friend, the one who betrayed me! I have known him long enough to understand that he would never reveal his hand.
- Mathers firmly believes that Crowley should be an adept of the Inner Order. The Beast has earned it, no doubt, but the Imperator also needs allies—now more than ever.
- After a brief conversation, the Beast kneels in front of Mathers. The Imperator initiates the ritual that will make Crowley "Adeptus Minor."
- No one—not even his most trusted ally—will tell Mathers what to do. Pride... The Order will not endure for much longer, but THEY will.
There is something not even the most knowledgeable members of the Inner Order know about the foundation of our group. It concerns the Secret Chiefs.
Little is known about the Secret Chiefs. Many believe them to be transcendent cosmic authorities, while others claim they are mere humans. Some say they do not even exist.
- My good friend, the Imperator, once wrote that the Secret Chiefs were humans who possess terrible supernatural powers. Could I be one of them?
- No, I'm pulling your leg. Perhaps my powers seem supernatural—no matter—but they are certainly not terrible.
- I am immersed in a chess match with the Imperator when his lovely wife Moina, the Seeress, approaches him. Ignoring me, she hands him a letter.
- Mathers quickly reads it, and announces he has to leave immediately. "The Secret Chiefs have summoned me." He stares at his feet.
- Moina wants to accompany him, but the Imperator says he has to do this alone. Moina turns to me, and smiles. She knows I will go with her husband.
- This should be interesting. I have never met one of THEM.
Crux Dat Salutem
I follow the Imperator to a somber Parisian alley. I am reminded of the romantic stroll I once took with Maria. No wait! That was Giovanni, wasn't it?
- Paris is an interesting place, but the City of Light has never seemed so dreary. Mathers' eyes dart in every direction.
- "I'm glad you are with me, old friend." Mathers' voice is barely audible, but it is strong, steady. I'm glad to be of assistance.
- A lone silhouette approaches. I can scarcely make out the outline of the man's beard under his hooded cloak. Mathers mumbles a formal greeting in Latin.
- "Our partnership is ended." The voice is deep, commanding, but disappointingly human after all. "You have failed to heed our warnings."
- "I need more time!" Mathers begins. "If only —" The stranger raises a hand to silence him. There! Can you see it? Upon the man's middle finger!
- A ring with a red cross pattée in a white circle. The Order of the Knights Templar!
Deus Lux Solis
The two men face each other, their features barely visible in the darkness. But I see quite clearly: Mathers' eyes are narrow, his jaw clenched, his fists closed.
- I know that look! Mathers has never been one to take offence lightly, and he never did tolerate being told what to do. He is, after all, Imperator.
- Now, in silence, Mathers stares at the Templar's raised hand, as though he would bite it. The Templar glares, but Mathers is not intimidated.
- "The fruits of your research were disappointing, at best, Imperator. Your translation... useless." A pause. "We expected more from you."
- "You have to give me more time!" Mathers pleads. "Without the Book —"
- "You fool! It was never about the Book!" The Templar shouts. "Because of you, we have lost HIM!" He's talking about me, isn't he?
- Mathers seems shaken. The Templar grunts, turning away. The Imperator watches him disappear in the darkness. Then, his face suddenly brightens. He understands, at last.
The 1900 "Exposition Universelle" attracted over fifty million people, But the Imperator wasn't among them. He had other... preoccupations.
Remember I told you that the King's subjects would eventually revolt? Well, they have.
- The Imperator is not only no longer in contact with the Secret Chiefs—you know who they are now—but he has also been forced to resign from the Order.
- Mathers sits in the chair infront of his wife, the Seeress. Between them is the table which usually holds our chess board.
- Moina's eyes are half - closed. Her hands brush the tarot cards that are laid out before her. I feel I'm interrupting, like a third wheel during a first date.
- Yet I know I must be here. As if she had read my mind—she really is gifted—Moina looks straight at me. "What do you see?" Mathers asks.
- "The Order shall not endure." Is she reading my mind? Or just improvising? "This is not the end." Her voice is gentle, like Maria's. "It is a new beginning."
- Mathers looks at his wife and leans close to her, smiling. Then, he stands up and raises his arms, as if addressing God himself. "He shall rise again."
Veritas Et Lux
You've now seen all the tales I had to tell, uncovered all the secrets I cared to reveal—well, almost. There is one last truth I believe you should learn.
The Mathers know they cannot hide anything from me. It is a fact they have accepted, long ago, when they liberated me from that old, corporeal shell.
- They wish I wouldn't spy on them now, but they know I'm here. They always do. I've rarely met humans so gifted before.
- Moina takes a small sip of her wine and lowers the glass on the table. "What shall we do about... our old friend?"
- I'm glad she still thinks of me as a friend. I certainly think of her this way. And I harbor no ill feelings toward her, or her husband.
- "We do as planned." Their plan is ludicrous, but they do not realize that. "We make sure he never leaves us." He wants to control me, but he never will.
- Moina looks in my direction, turns away, scratches her nose. "And once we have completed the ritual?"
- Mathers takes a deep breath. He looks my way, but not directly at me. "I am sorry, old friend, but we leave no traces behind."
Non Omnis Moriar
I have not seen the body—MY body—since that fateful day. Throughout the years, they have kept it alive, through means you could not possibly imagine.
- What was once my shell is now a gray, emaciated thing. I don't even recognize the face which was once mine.
- The night is cool and bright, ideal for their purpose. On cue, the adepts form a circle around the altar, closing in on the body. They begin to chant.
- They have no idea what they are doing. Truly, they have no clue as to what I am. How can they? They are gifted, but remain mere humans.
- Moina looks at me, tears in her eyes. She wears a light, white gown and a wreath of Papaver rhoeas—quite apropos.
- Moina casts one last glance in my direction, then turns to face the altar. Solemnly, she begins to disrobe.
- And people believe she died a virgin.
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