The Devil of Moravia : Death is terrible, tho’ borne on angel’s wings!*

 

Edmund’s story is nearly at an end. He has lost much, but perhaps there is yet something he can hold on to.

To read the other instalments in his tale, see below.

Onetwothreefour, fivesix , seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelvethirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty, twenty one, twenty two, twenty three, twenty four, twenty five, twenty six, twenty seven, twenty eighttwenty ninethirty, thirty one, thirty two, thirty threethirty four , thirty five.

*William Blake, Kind Edward the Third.


 

‘What happened?’ I whispered.

‘I fear you are not strong enough to hear. And yet it cannot be long until the watchmen find us out. If you are to know, you must know soon.’

I felt for her hand and squeezed it. ‘Tell me, dear friend.’

And so she did.

She told me how the three of us had fed on Slatina, how that devil had shrunk beneath us, until he was little more than a husk, eyes wide and swollen in his cadaverous skull. How as we feasted she shivered under the bed, afraid to look, afraid in our blood lust she might be our next meal.

And how, when we were done and Slatina was naught but parched skin and powdery bone, she emerged from her hiding place to gaze upon the four of us.

‘I believed you dead, Sir, for there seemed little left of you to hold the spark of life. But as I stepped past, hardly knowing what was yourself, what your lady or poor Samuel, I heard a groaning. And then I saw the ash stir, rising in puffs from the floor and I knew – it was breath was doing it. You were yet alive.’

Somehow that kind soul gathered me up and helped me from that place, from the chamber where the Devil’s ashes mixed with those of my love and of my friend. Through the house were the remains of the Red Men – those soldiers of Slatina – whether true men or demons I shall never know, though all now fallen, unable to survive without the will of their master urging them on.

Peg flung about me a cloak, to shield my degenerated appearance from curious eyes and somehow we came, stumbling through the dark and twisted streets of London to a low room overlooking the docks.

The candlelight flickered on her troubled face and for a moment I felt the full weight of all that had gone before, of the passing of Frances, of all the death that had come since that stormy night when I first met the Devil of Moravia.

But something tugged at dear Peg. I tried to speak, but failed, so I squeezed her hand, urging her to finish the tale.

As if reading my thoughts, she nodded. ‘There is more and for my part in it I am humbly sorry. I only thought to help you, Sir, you must believe me.’

And so she told me of spying the locket about my neck, of fearing that if I were caught with the images of the Earth Angels upon my person, some soul might recognise them and I would dance at the gallows. And so she took the jewel, knowing she must hide it, knowing she had little time before some tradesman would call or the smell of burning alerted some passerby to the terrible sight within the house.

And as she looked about, her mind whirring, her senses alert to every noise, her eye alighted upon my old clock. With nimble fingers, she opened the case, stopped the movement and hung the chain within.

Her teeth worried her lip, gnawing at the flesh. ‘But the constables searched the house too well, too long. Word has reached the docks that the locket was found and Miss Frances’ locket also and Samuel’s too and they mean to lay all those dead souls at your door, Sir.’

That poor, sweet girl began to cry then, weeping so hard, her tears feel upon my broken skin, stinging like salt in a fresh wound.

I wished to speak, to say how grateful I was, how she had nothing to chastise herself for. That through her kind actions and her courage, she had helped save the world from the scourge of Slatina, had saved my friends from blackening their souls further, and myself – oh, yes, she had saved me too. For without her I might never have found the strength to battle the Devil without and the devil within.

But then there was a terrible shouting from outside, gulls squawking, a dozen pairs of stamping boots.

And all I could whisper was, ‘Go!’

With one last squeeze of my hand she vanished, the purest, kindest creature I have ever known. And I closed my eyes and waited for the end.

***

But as you see the end has not yet come.

I was discovered – what burned and broken flesh remained that might bear the name Edmund Spencer – and brought to Borough Compter gaol. Here I remain, the sole felon amid a sea of debtors. A bitter irony, for it seems I was always destined for goal, whether for debts or for bloodier crimes.

They have given my body time to heal and in that time I have written my account of these events so the facts may be told. I hear there are murder ballads sung about me, about the Black Hearted Lord, the Murderer of Angels and so even if none shall read it, I wished to commit my own version of the tale to paper. I have kept hidden a tinderbox and mean to burn this record once I am done.

There was a trial. I was accused of many killings. Of the Red Men, of Samuel, of the victims in the lockets, of an ‘unnamed man of slight proportion’ … of Frances. This false burden I carry willingly rather than have the world know the truth. The awful truth about my love.

I am visited often. Through the day the doctor comes to see I am well enough to hang – for what spectacle is there in a villain too sick to know his last day is upon him. And others come, those willing to bribe the goalers, who wish to be able to say they were yea close to a murderer of such stature. Most often they merely stare. Some spit curses. Some spit. But I write on.

But my cherished visitors come at night. Sometimes I turn from the page to find Peg Fair seated on my mattress and she will smile and tell me more of the Fair Folk, of her mother, of life in the rolling hills and sweet flowered dales of England. Samuel comes too – the old Samuel – a sparkle in his devilish eye – to share tales of a wench he has bedded, of a night of cards or a drunken tavern brawl.

And she comes.

Not the monster of lusts and yearning. But the girl I first met years ago, she I wish I had never let go. The girl with roses in her cheeks, with the kindest heart and a smile of summer and spring. Daisies twined through her glowing hair.

The darkness pales and my time is almost done. May God forgive me for all the evil I have brought to the world and when the time comes, I hope with all my wicked soul it is my love who comes to take my hand and lead me home.

 

Edmund William Spencer.

Finished on the eve of his execution, the 5th day of May, 1799.

 

 

 

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28 thoughts on “The Devil of Moravia : Death is terrible, tho’ borne on angel’s wings!*

    1. Thank you so much Penny. And thank you for reading so many instalments of the Devil – if it wasn’t for the staying power of a handful of readers I might not have finished it at all! Thank you.

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  1. Wow, what a powerful ending! Fitting, for such a dramatic and exciting story. Excellent all around — three cheers, Lynn!

    I knew that Edmund would have to pay the price in the end, but to take the blame for all of Slatina’s evil? Even worse! I like that he accepts it rather than sully the memory of Frances by telling the trust, though. I hope he doesn’t burn his account, but then, he would have to, or the truth about Frances would out. And who knew that Peg would end up being so good — a little too good, maybe, to be realistic, but this is an over-the-top story anyway.

    (Side note: your spell checker doesn’t seem to like the old spelling of “gaol”.)

    So, now you can pull it all together, work out any inconsistencies you missed along the way, and write up the novel version, right? 🙂 Hooray!

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    1. Thanks for the heads up on ‘goal / gaol’ not sure if that was spell check or me! All changed now. And yes, I must try to do something with it. I had a quick look for indie publishers who deal in Gothic / horror stories and found a few, though some had a poor reputation. I shall keep looking. Thanks for the encouragement, Joy

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  2. I’d forgotten all about the clock.
    Your ending sent chills through me: And she comes..
    Until this point it was no more than a great story, but the last two paragraphs gave it a shocking authenticity. Poor Edmund, redeemed at last (in my eyes, at least), only to be blamed for the whole kaboosh. Only by hanging him could you hand him his freedom.
    Bravo, Lynn. This story is a triumph – although, perfect as the ending is, I’m wondering whether you should come back to where you began, to tie it in. You wrote it such a long time ago that I can’t be sure if there’s any need…

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    1. Thank you, Jane. Such lovely things to say. I hoped Edmund’s ending worked well enough – I felt a little emotional writing it, so I hoped it came across in the text. I knew, of course, that he was going to hang all along, but he went with dignity and a conviction that he did the right thing at the end. Thanks so much for reading so many instalments – without the encouragement from yourself and a few others I would never have finished it at all.

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      1. They become real, don’t they… I wrote rambling poem a couple of years back, called Fiction Planet. It’s the place where all those characters go once you’ve written them into existence. It’s a crazy place.
        You did a fantastic job with poor Edmund. Hanging was his only ethical option.

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      2. They do become real. I’ve written a few scenes for novels where I’ve been so caught up in a character’s fate I’ve become quite emotional. But that’s good, right, not crazy? 🙂 And Fiction Planet sounds amazing – potential lethal, depending on who’s there – but amazing 🙂

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      3. I don’t think it’s crazy. Surely, if your characters don’t reach you, they won’t convince the reader. I wrote a story about an autistic boy a few years ago. Even now I cry when I read it. It has a happy ending, but life can be hard if you’re autistic.
        Fiction Planet is a mess. Little Boy Blue is stuck on a pirate ship, Jack’s lost his sheep, Jill fallen in to a plum pie – and you wouldn’t believe the trouble the little women are having with Mary Gaitskill’s characters from Bad Behaviour(which I haven’t read, BTW). It’s shocking. Dixon of Dock Green is way out of his depth 🙂

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      4. Haha! Sounds amazing! Love that idea. I remember coming up with an idea for a novle where many of Dickens’ characters met up and all the problems that ensued from that … And then the BBC spolied it all by nicking my idea and making Dickensian! Swines. x

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      5. I was interested in that that, but not having a TV… Now I know it was stolen from inside your head I’ll have to try and check it out 🙂
        But seriously, that must have been frustrating.

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      6. A little frustrating, but they did such a lovely job of it – much better than I would have done. Creating a murder mystery around the death of Jacob Marley – great idea. And we saw Miss Haversham as a young woman, how she was jilted. Sadly, there will be no series two. I suspect the budget was too high.

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  3. A bitter sweet ending. Edmund is the one who helps them find a way to beat Slatina, destroy him and his minions. And Francis and Samual are actually back to their old selves although I would think they are a type if Vampyre? As everyone thinks they are dead by Edmund’s doing. What’s interesting to me and what I’m unsure of is if Edmund being so destroyed by Slatina’s blood is he human or a vampyre like creature who in healing is not going to die if he’s hanged. I’m glad at least his friends visit and Francis is the person who Edmund always knew and loved.

    This could be a wonderful ending, a good one too. Leaving us to wonder, yet I think there might be one more part but perhaps not. It depends I think a great deal what Edmund is or is not after defeating Slatina. If he’s vampyre he will have the strength eventually to escape. Yet the doctor comes in to heal him and sense no change in his humanity so that might tell you somehow Edmund is still human? But who knows

    The end? Or more to come? Thoroughly have enjoyed this and hope you publish this self-published or by your publisher if u have one. I think many others would like this book, it’s gothic perspective yet theme in modern creatures that are not human or lead people to become not human. As well as that eternal battle between good and evil.

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    1. Thank you so much Amanda! You’ve been so very kind and supportive all through my publishing this story and it’s with the encouragement of yourself and a couple of others that it’s been finished at all.
      I’m afraid to say – and sorry if it doesn’t come across clearly in the text – but the Frances and Samuel (and Peg for that matter) Edmund sees in his cell are merely figments of his imaginatio, phantoms to keep him company as he waits for his sentence to be carried out. Peg has fled – hopefully somewhere she’ll be safe – and Frances and Samuel perished in the room along with Slatina. If Edmund does meet his love again it will be in Heaven – if either of them get there. But you are right to question whether Edmund was capable of dying in the hangman’s noose – the same question has crossed my mind. Will he die or will he live? I have a sneaking memory that at one time those who survived the noose had their sentence commuted so perhaps he will be sent as a convict to Australia or America, there to start a whole new adventure? His fate will have to remain a mystery for now. Many thanks again for all the reading and insightful comments and best wishes x

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      1. You’re so welcome. It did cross my mind that in his cell he was delusional. And it would seem to me, going with the religious thinking of the time Frances and even Samuel redeemed themselves in drinking Slatina to death. And if the did so Edmund must have too if he died. Going to miss reading this 😢

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      2. Yes, hopefully you’re right, they redeemed themselves at the end. Thanks for saying that. I’m going to miss writing it, though it has felt like a little pressure too, having to think about a new instalment every week. Thanks for sticking with it until the end. 🙂

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