ADVENTURE OF THE CREEPY CAGLIOSTRO



***** An All-New WEIRD ADVENTURES Occult Detective Mystery!!! *****

It had come to my attention that a magician calling himself “The New Cagliostro” was booked to appear at the ballroom of the Colonnade Hotel in Baltimore. For some unexplainable reason, this information troubled me immensely. Of course, I knew logically that he was most likely nothing more than yet another harmless mountebank, but I just could not shake the bizarre feeling, the increasingly-ominous presentiment, that there was some uncanny spiritual danger about this person.

That this performer claimed, in his pre-show publicity, to be the reincarnation of the Eighteenth Century occultist Cagliostro could of course easily be dismissed as typical show-business repartee, but still I sensed something wrong with the matter -- something elusively evil. As I pondered the situation more deeply, I perceived that the very idea of him choosing Cagliostro in particular for his stage persona, an individual who had died in the dungeons of the Inquisition after being convicted of practicing witchcraft and Satanism, and of seducing numerous young maidens, was rather beyond the pale. For a performer to intentionally invoke the memory of such an execrable individual and then go on to offer a substantial discount on children’s tickets to his show was -- as the modern vernacular expression would have it -- creepy.

Consequently, my wife and I duly purchased reservations to attend the upcoming performance of this self-proclaimed “Cagliostro”; our intention being to ascertain if indeed he did pose a threat (spiritually or otherwise) to the good of this world, and if so, to do whatever would be necessary to prevent him. For you see, I am LORD DANIEL RUMANOS, Occult Investigator and Doctor of Divinity. Although I have the physical appearance of an exceedingly-handsome human gentleman, tall and muscular, with dark grey hair and piercing, blue-black eyes; I am in reality not a mortal being at all. I do carry within my blood the superior genetic heritage of the mysterious Watchers of the Daemon-Star ALGOL, the Masters of All Space and Time. This extraterrestrial birthright grants me numerous powers and abilities that appear as miraculous and magical to the people of planet Earth, the science of our people being the very force behind the sacred traditions of Judaism and Christianity. Unlike most Algolites, who live in elitist seclusion from the other races of the cosmos, I have made it my continuing mission to aid and assist the innocent against any that would injure, molest, or attempt to enslave them in the name of false “religion” or “the paranormal”.

My eternally-youthful wife, LADY KATRINA OLIVIA RUMANOS, joins me in this holy crusade. She was created in a secret laboratory from DNA infused with the power to generate and control a certain extraordinary mystical flame. She also happens to be the most beautiful woman who has ever, and will ever, exist: tall and slender, with flawless skin of alabaster whiteness, long, straight, gorgeously red hair and opalescent eyes the colour of azure. She also has legs that seem to go on and on forever.

My wonderful Katrina and I arrived at the hotel ballroom early and observed the audience, which seemed to be made up mostly of children and teenagers. Despite this, I noticed that alcoholic beverages were being served. My wife and I declined from this and had tea instead, as befits our social standing and spiritual values.

Eventually, the theatre lights were extinguished and the show began. I felt a strange foreboding, an eldritch premonition of an ungodly iniquity and occultic chaos that we would soon be battling. Can you understand?

The announcer’s deep -- indeed rather sepulchral voice (I later ascertained that it was a “doctored“ recording of the performer himself) boomed over the ridiculous, senseless, pulsating pre-recorded rock music issuing forth from the ballroom speakers:

“To-night at the Colonnade! Welcome the one and only Conjuror of Sensuality and Seductive Satanic Charm -- The Amazing CAGLIOSTRO!!”

Moreover, at this proclamation, along with a terrible flash of grotesquely-hued light, there immediately appeared upon the stage a bizarre figure I had hoped never to behold again. It was a thin man of late middle age, dressed in a tuxedo and palpably exuding a suave, intensely-diabolical manner. For this so-called “New Cagliostro” was, in reality, the horridly-wicked, obscenely-evil, and supposedly-deceased illusionist -- Michael Cantorini!

*****

I had last encountered this Cantorini bloke when he had attempted to call forth the demon Asmodeus, that foul spirit of lust and destruction that had been bound in Hell by the Golden Chain of the Archangels. Cantorini had failed at this hideous endeavour and accordingly wound up being dragged into the Abyss himself by the dark force he had been attempting to free from its bonds.

As a matter of clarification, it should here be revealed that the various beings that Earth people refer to as “angels” are actually an extraterrestrial race known as the Aeternusians, which exist as immortal, non-corporeal forms outside the edges of the Universe itself. It is from these that the first of those that became the Watchers of Algol -- my own people -- originally came. The Algolites are a specific faction of Aeternusians that sought fulfilment by taking on physical form while retaining the powers of their eternal essence. It is because of this that the Watchers are sometimes referred to as “fallen”, which appellation applies to the fact that they have taken on bodily form and is in no way a “moral” judgment as humans understand it.

This particular faction of Aeternusians eventually found their home on the planet known as Daemonia, orbiting the star Algol, ninety-three light-years from Earth. It is on Daemonia that the ones known as the Three Founders; Sesom, Dammahum, and the mysterious Other; inaugurated the society of what is now known as the glorious Algolitish Republic.

We, the Algolites, are sometimes called Daemons, which has come to mean a spirit of good inspiration in the ancient Greek language of Earth. “Demons” or “Devils“, however, are a different thing entirely. They are the distorted spirits of the various primeval races of the cosmos that were destroyed by the Watchers in primordial times; beings that otherwise would have become far too powerful and would have threatened the peace and proper order of the universe. It is when the Algolites perceived that this policy was resulting in the creation of the various demonic forces that our current official guiding principles of non-intervention were instead brought into being -- but not before we created the inter-dimensional gaol known as Hell, Gehenna, Tartarus, etc. in order to imprison these unholy, dangerously chaotic forms.

Now, the remainder of the Aeternusians, while remaining spiritually outside of what is known as Space and Time, have occasionally taken on the illusory semblance of form in order to accomplish tasks necessary to preserve balance in the universe. They maintain a psychic link with particularly spiritually-minded individuals (sometimes even among the human race), and are known to respond to what is known as prayer. Such perhaps explains the fact of the Aeternusian Archangel RAPHAEL having taken action against the evil demon Asmodeus -- this said Asmodeus being a particularly-debased demon hybrid that was originally the offspring of one of the Kakodemons of Andromeda and an horridly-immoral human woman named Naamah. I, as an Algolite, had added prayers to the other Aeternusians in order to further strengthen the bonds holding the wicked Asmodeus.

And now, the execrable magician known as Cantorini, disguised as the false “New Cagliostro” had somehow returned from the dead -- indeed, from the clutches of the demoniacal Asmodeus itself!

“Holy Flapdoodle!“ exclaimed Katrina as she and I quickly leaped upon the stage in order to face the disgusting individual, Michael Cantorini. I took a moment to make the Signs of the Hexagram and of the Cross as a seal of protection towards the audience, to shield them from the hazardous forces of the magical battle that was obviously about to ensue.

“Cantorini!” I stated in righteous anger to the evil wizard. “Your presence upon this world is a blasphemy and a sacrilege!”

“Indeed!” added Kat. “How have you escaped from Hell?”

Cantorini laughed with wicked malice. His countenance glowed darkly as evidence of extraordinary diabolical presences.

“Daniel and Katrina Rumanos,” he spat at us hatefully, “you will rue the day of your insolence towards me! For the mighty Asmodeus has chosen me as his High Priest and Magus! His servitors are mine to command, and I do now evoke them! They shall destroy you meddling crusaders, and therefore pave the way of our ascendancy! The Cult of Asmodeus shall yet rule this world!!”

And herewith, myriads of swirling, ebony-black demonic forces issued forth from behind and within Cantorini, charging with diabolic malevolence directly at me!

*****

Now, since our last encounter with this odiously satanic Cantorini character, I had done some research among my useful contacts in the occult underground; research concerning his background, his personal history and precedents. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, he had at an early age attempted to escape his abusive family life by an obsession with the idea of gaining power through occultism. He had, as a young man, traded his sexual favours to a loathsome, elderly Bayou voodoo priestess known as Mama Mim, (who claimed herself to have been a reincarnation of the infamous “Voodoo Queen of New Orleans”, Marie Laveau) in exchange for knowledge and training in the dark arts.

After he had obtained all the evil education he wanted from her, Cantorini had then proceeded to murder Mama Mim in her sleep, disposing of her corpse in the near by swamp. The NOLA Police Department had not even bothered to look into the disappearance of the disgusting hag. After all, from their racist viewpoint, what is the death of one old black woman?

Following this outrage, Mr. Michael Cantorini had then gone on to spend many years travelling across the country, supporting himself as a stage magician, mentalist, tarot card reader and so on whilst he searched for further occult knowledge and power. He only thinly disguised his movements through numerous name variations, including Cantor the Conjuror, Magic Mike Cantori, and, during his “Cabalistic” phase, Eli the Miraculous.

Eventually, Cantorini had settled in Baltimore and had begun to present himself as a “theatre manager” at the abandoned building that had at one time been St. Martha’s Episcopal Church. It is there that Katrina and I had put a stop to his insane attempt to free the devil Asmodeus from its prison in the Pit of Perdition. He had gained some amount of ungodly respect among the spirits of lust and debauchery by his continuous sexual assault of the young girls whom he often invited to “assist” him in his magic routines. (It is perhaps the case that his newfound seeming predilection for fair, youngling females was a pathological attempt to make up for the self-loathing that he felt concerning his sickening, unnatural past sexual activities with the aged voodoo woman, or perhaps he just was wont to make use of whatever means necessary to further his pursuit of satanic magical power. It is a purely academic question. Either way, the result is the same.)

And now, the disgusting, deplorable, and diabolically debased Michael Cantorini had returned from Hell, having made his bargain with the demonic Asmodeus -- a pact that had put this deplorable prestidigitator, now presenting himself as “The New Cagliostro”, in command of the horrid seventy-two legions of darksome spirits which are the retinue of that arch-devil of lustful destruction. These were, indeed, the same ebony accumulation of demonic entities I now beheld charging directly to-wards me!

I barely even had the quite short amount of time that is required in order to activate enough of my Algolitish powers to prevent the demonic legions from sending me crashing through the far wall of the hotel ballroom. As it was, they hit me with a painful psychical impact, and I careened several metres backwards as their black, swirling phantasmal forces attempted to engulf me.

Can you, gentle reader, understand and comprehend the horror, the absolute screaming madness and terror of this situation?!

For the moment trapped in this melee, I had to struggle to defend myself against this demoniacal assault, whilst at the same time attempting to pronounce the holy words of exorcism necessary in order to cast these unspeakable legions back into the Pit of eternal torment!

Seeing me thus occupied, the unmentionably insane and criminally depraved black magician known as Cantorini turned his spiteful attentions to my wife as they directly faced each other there upon the stage of the Colonnade Hotel Ballroom.

“And now, girl,” he intoned, “you will truly regret your interference, your continued meddling against me, Michael Cantorini. I am the great magician and High Priest of the Destroyer Demon, and I shall bring your annihilation!”

With this unholy pronouncement, the wicked Satanist Cantorini suddenly cast forth a shower of darkest occult energy precisely at my lovely Katrina!

*****

Michael Cantorini, the self-proclaimed “New Cagliostro”, had not directly tangled with the beautiful Mrs. Rumanos during our previous encounter. Therefore, he was not in any way prepared for what happened next. Before his blast of grotesquely black satanic energy could strike her, she activated the wonderful vermillion and violet flame that is hers to command.

“I am mistress of the mystic fire!” she proclaimed with rightful pride. “I am the purity that gods desire! I am HEAVEN’S HELL!!!”

And with this, the wondrous flame of Katrina Olivia Rumanos deflected the ebony occult powers of the hideous Cantorini back upon himself. The evil magician howled in pain as it hit him, followed by several blasts of the mystical flame, the ever-youthful exuberance of my lovely Katrina preventing the horrible old sorcerer from recover his strength long enough for her to construct several rings of good magic fire around him, hindering him from further movement.

It was just then that I broke forth from the now-dissipating cloud of demoniacal spirits, having completed the utterance of the Latin exorcism that properly banished them back to Perdition. I flew at Cantorini in righteous anger, shooting volleys of my orange and blue Algolitish powers directly at his person, weakening him further before he could even begin to attempt to escape from Katrina’s flame.

However, then I wondered: What to do about him? I could send him back to Hell, but his pact with Asmodeus could just possibly enable him to return once again and to further plague this unsuspecting world. I am indeed blessed to say that the presence of my love Katrina, my wife, my sweetheart, my beautiful one, enabled me to have the strength to make a monumental decision; a decision that indeed resulted in my calling forth rarely-used powers that exist within me; powers of dreadful, unnameable potency and dangerously unspeakable prodigy which are of the most awesome responsibility to evoke.

You see, many years ago, my love for Katrina and, even more importantly, her love for me, had prevented my becoming the future self that had appeared to us: the Master Vampire THASKALES, also known to history as Count Dracula. Even though this dreadful future had been impeded from ever coming to pass, the powers of the vampire are safely retained deep within my psyche; usually dormant, but available to be called forth on those exceedingly rare occasions in which they were most direfully required and morally expedient.

I accordingly reached psychically into the very depths of Cantorini’s being, and ripped out his very life force, along with all his magical powers and abilities -- forces that would now be added to my own.

As Michael Cantorini died, his body quickly wasting away into a lifeless husk that would within seconds be nothing more than a tiny pile of desiccated dust, I told him one concluding thing -- one last point to be the final thought of his worthless, ungodly existence.

“By the way, Cantorini,” I justly mocked. “I knew Cagliostrio; and you, sir, are NO Cagliostro!”

There is little else to tell concerning this tale, this adventure of the creepy “Cagliostro”. The audience cheered and applauded at what they thought was the big finish, the triumphant finale to an evening of excellent legerdemain and expert mystery entertainment. Katrina and I considered it best to do nothing to disillusion them concerning this.

The Colonnade Hotel offered us a respectable fee as payment for what they believed to be our show business special-effects and acting expertise, but we convinced them to donate it to charity, specifically to one offering assistance to abused children.

We did however accept the other offer that they made, assuming us to be performers from out of town, to stay free of charge as their guest that night in their most luxurious penthouse suite. It was later that evening, after enjoying a dinner of the establishment’s fine French cuisine (though we, of course, eschewed the proffered wine and instead had fresh grape juice) that my beautiful wife and I relaxed on the large bed of the suite.

“So, Daniel my love,” said Katrina, “you said it is because of the accidental creation of demons like that is why the Watchers decided to go into seclusion, and to no longer intervene among other people of the universe?”

“Yes, my sweet wonderful Kat,” I replied. “It was thought the best policy in order to prevent the possibility of further horrors from being created.”

“But some of the other Algolites still help people, don’t they? At least unofficially, like you do?”

“Yes, of course. It is important to aid those in need, even if it can be rather dangerous at times. Besides,” I added with a smile, pulling her closer to me, “I rather prefer the up-close-and-personal, hands-on approach, hmmm?”

“I know you do, babe,” she said with a delightful smile, warmly returning my embrace, “and I love it!”