Uncle Antonin, the would-be patron, lost track of his protegee after she and her maid moved to humbler living quarters at the Mayfair hotel. While disappointed and unsatisfied, he felt neither guilt nor regret, knowing that being rebuffed was part and parcel of his predatory style. More often than not, women had hastily left his mansion rather than falling into temptation, but the dozen or so Christian virgins he had converted made everything worthwhile. Never did he experience any doubt that Satan appreciated his efforts, his self-sacrifice in the name of the much grander prize of handing over the innocent to the Beast.
These dimensions he had been discussing at length with Cromwell, who had complimented him with being a shrewd spiritual advisor and one of the few men he truly trusted. While never in doubt of the man’s sincereness, it had been a heartwarming but sobering experience when the magician came to him one night and asked for help in planning a genuine Satanic ritual.
“Do you believe in Satan?” Antonin already thought he knew the answer, because the subject had been discussed at length before. He thought it unwise to take anything for granted.
“Well, but no,” Cromwell replied. “I believe in Satanic forces and think they must be contained and not misdirected. I think Satan can contribute much to our experiences, that he has much to teach and tell those willing to listen. But endorse him I do not, because leaving the atheist path will corrupt and diminish our liberty. A libertarian, that’s what I am, philosophically speaking.”
“You do not worship the devil, then how can you in good conscience encourage others to do so?”
“I’m a magician, an illusionist. What I want you to help me create is an illusion so convincing and compelling that the young recruit will never suspect that it isn’t really a Satanic ritual but a mere masquerade resembling one. Masterpiece theater is what we need, it’ll be his birthday present, and he’ll yet have to grow much older and wiser before the truth can be relayed.”
Uncle Antonin looked worried. Satan did not approve of anyone using his name in vain, nor would he ever permit his followers to do so.
“Tell me Cromwell, why cannot the Satanic ritual be genuine?” he asked.
“Because it will take place at Camelot, where any such activity is strictly forbidden.”
“All the merrier,” Antonin said. “Doing this in a forbidden zone will only intensify the experience tenfold for those who understand and appreciate such things.”
“Antonin, I’ve forsworn devil worship and black magic forever.”
“Break your oath then, Satan welcomes you on board.”
“It’ll be my neck,” Cromwell replied. “Never again shall a Cromwell lose his neck.”
“Then you must conduct the ritual in person, enact a role play in which you’re a Satanic priest,” Antonin advised. “You must not use a genuine Satanic goat, no holy blood shall be spilled, then Lord Satan will understand that it’s not something to be taken seriously. Maybe he’ll damn you for doing this, maybe he won’t.”
“You will help me plan it then?”
Antonin leaned back, smiled quickly, smacked his lips together, and breathed
out through his nose. “I’d be delighted,” he replied.