"Forsooth, sir-these be ye secrets I design to teach."
Fanshawe's mind spun. "I don't want your secrets! I don't want to know any of this, and I don't want to be here!" Spittle flew from his lips. "I'm not evil! I don't want to be a f.u.c.kin' warlock!"
"Nay?" Only one candle lit the room. Wraxall looked like little more than a shadow. "'Twas of thine own will that thee are here. You sought such secrets. You engaged ye looking-gla.s.s. And, you, sir, were all too eager to ride ye Bridle."
Fanshawe went limp in his chair.
"To thee I shalt bequeath ye Two Secrets of which you hath willingly read already. The test thee hath pa.s.sed. Thy mettle hath been proved. Only one other such venturer has come here, claiming to seek ye same."
Something small and dark flapped on the table before Fanshawe. He picked it up.
It was a wallet.
Fanshawe opened it to find a New York driver's license and a picture of- "Eldred Karswell. So he did come here."
"This he did, seeking secrets such as you. Aye, but at a glance I knew that his poise was but a feign. He claimed to serve ye Benefactor, yet one of such he was not."
Karswell was a Christian mystic, Fanshawe remembered, and a former minister.
"Yet his aspect here at once introduced quite an incongruous element, and with but a glance I espied his falsehood, for his truth I glimpsed in the tone of his aura..."
Fanshawe's gaze was dragged up by the statement. "What color? What color was Karswell's aura?"
"White as new-felled snow-"
"And mine?" Fanshawe shook where he sat. "What color is mine?"
"Black," the word grated from Wraxall's throat. "Same as ye hue of thy heart, like deepests earth's blackest ichors." Wraxall's shape paused; he seemed to be appraising Fanshawe's reaction. "But this thee know already. In matters appertaining to ye imposture called Karswell, from the house he was cast, then encaptured by ye sheriff and deputies. 'Twas a joyous sight to behold-his end."
Fanshawe remembered the image of Karswell's face, or lack thereof. They barreled him...
Now Wraxall's words in the dark seemed to vibrate like some suboctave groan. "You too wilst have such power as I, to play with time as thou see fit, and to thine own great gain, whereat Lucifer be praised."
The word-Lucifer-seemed to hang in the darkness like the face of a barely seen watcher.
"To one such as thyself, such things seem impossible, since we know time to be of ye Nature G.o.d hath put upon us. How wondrous, then, must it be to have in thy hands such black endowment to corrupt G.o.d's will, and forge the impossible into that which be more than possible? Let us look then back into the countenance of G.o.d and hurl our laughter as we subvert his givings for our whimsey!"
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