Monday, November 30, 2009


This isn't directly prop related, other than a vague plan I have for coming up with a lead jug based on the description, but this passage from Lovecraft's "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" has been swirling in my head for a few days:

But what was this cold wind which had sprung into life at the very outset of the chant? The lamps were sputtering woefully, and the gloom grew so dense that the letters on the wall nearly faded from sight. There was smoke, too, and an acrid odour which quite drowned out the stench from the far-away wells; an odour like that he had smelt before, yet infinitely stronger and more pungent. He turned from the inscriptions to face the room with its bizarre contents, and saw that the kylix on the floor, in which the ominous efflorescent powder had lain, was giving forth a cloud of thick, greenish-black vapour of surprising volume and opacity. That powder - Great God! it had come from the shelf of "Materia" - what was it doing now, and what had started it? The formula he had been chanting - the first of the pair - Dragon's Head, ascending node - Blessed Saviour, could it be ...

The doctor reeled, and through his head raced wildly disjointed scraps from all he had seen, heard, and read of the frightful case of Joseph Curwen and Charles Dexter Ward. "I say to you againe, doe not call up Any that you can not put downe ... Have ye Wordes for laying at all times readie, and stopp not to be sure when there is any Doubte of Whom you have ... 3 Talkes with What was therein inhum'd ..." Mercy of Heaven, what is that shape behind the parting smoke?

Speculating about who subject #118 was is a popular pastime for fans of the story, but as far as I know his identity, and his fate after the destruction of the two other members of the Curwen cabal, remains unknown. That's despite the seemingly endless sequelization of Lovecraft's work by a plethora of authors of varying talent levels. Brian Lumley has written about the further adventures of Baron Ferenczy as part of his "Necroscope" series, but 118 doesn't make an appearance.

Does he still walk the earth, or did he opt to take his final rest? Did his vengeance against the cabal mark the end of his fight, or was it just a chapter? If he is still alive, or at least still undead, is he continuing his fight against dark wizardry directly? Or has he chosen to work from the shadows, assisting others with a tidbit of information or a conveniently timed donation when it would help most?

The fact that I'm still asking those questions days after I finished the story is a credit to Lovecraft's writing and, perhaps, my over-active imagination.


Anonymous said...

From the fact that #118 wrote in Latin, and in Saxon miniscule, and from the fact that he managed to destroy both Orne and Hutchinson, it should be obvious that Joseph Curwin had managed to retrieve the remains of the Bard and Mage, Merlin.

A pity that Willett had to meddle with things.

Always happy to clear up these little matters to you

Zurls said...

I think HPL did leave a clue that he intended Merlin. Our modern view of the character Merlin comes from Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, written c. 1136. He based Merlin on an amalgamation of stories about two previous historical and legendary figures, the main one being a North Brythonic prophet and madman with no connection to King Arthur. This prophet's name was Myrddin Wyllt (or Merlinus Caledonensis in Latin). If you combine the first name in Latin and the second name in Welsh, you get Merlinus Wyllt - remarkably similar to Marinus Willet.