In this selection of stories I have made from the archives of my numerous adventures over the many years of my activities as DANIEL RUMANOS -- Occult Detective, Master Magician, Doctor of Demonology, and Intergalactic Man of Mystery -- I have attempted to present a variety of different levels of investigation. These accounts have therefore ranged from great cosmic epics in which the very structure of the Universe itself was in danger, to comparatively small-seeming tales of individuals whom I have aided in their personal struggles against forces of dark oppression and occult horror. The most obvious unifying factor has been the bizarre weirdness of these cases, and in this particular element the story I here intend to relate to you is certainly in no way lacking. In fact, one would indeed be hard-pressed to find a narrative anywhere in which the outré, the strange, and the outlandishly eccentric were more in evidence than in these facts concerning the individual known as Gregory Yafimovitch -- The Roland Park Rasputin.
It all began soon after I had moved the headquarters of Gargoyle’s Occult Investigations and the Temple of the Starry Wisdom to its current location in the upper-class Roland Park district north of the city of Baltimore. My beautiful and beloved wife Katrina and I had received an invitation to a posh dinner party being held in the neighbourhood at the near-by mansion of the Cholensky family. Only thirty or so guests had been invited, certainly the area’s elite, including a former Maryland State Governor and one-time Presidential hopeful.
However, what was of most interest concerning this upcoming get-together was that the Cholenskys were using it in order to “show off”, as it were, their current houseguest, a man who went by the name of Gregory Yafimovitch and had become the live-in “spiritual advisor” of their family. Among other boasts, Yafimovitch claimed to be the reincarnation of Rasputin, that unusual Eastern Orthodox mystic known for his activities in Russia during the early part of the Twentieth Century.
However, grandiose occult claims are a dime a dozen. But what the Cholensky family -- Nikolas (who himself claimed descent from Old Russian royalty), his wife Helen, and their young daughter Anna -- declared concerning Gregory Yafimovitch was more than this. He had supposedly restored Mrs. Cholensky’s youth by magical means and had cured Anna of an eating disorder. That the dinner party would enable me to investigate these assertions was of far more interest than any well-to-do social contacts or imported caviar that one could expect to become acquainted with at such a soiree.
Katrina and I arrived at the Cholensky mansion shortly after sunset on that warm summer evening, I in one of my finest tuxedos and my wife dressed in an elegant black evening gown, her gorgeous red hair piled upon her head in a stylish coiffure. We mingled for a while with the guests. Fortunately, the party featured a coffee bar along with the alcoholic one. I ordered an iced cappuccino (shaken, not stirred) for myself, and an honey-sweetened iced tea for my darling spouse.
As for the family themselves, Mr. Cholensky seemed more interested in imbibing large numbers of gins-and-tonics than anything else. His wife Helen did indeed appear decades younger than she was known to be; early to mid-twenties instead of her actual age of over forty. Their daughter, who was fourteen, had apparently already gone to bed.
Nearly an hour into the party, just as boredom seriously threatened to overcome both Kat and myself, Mrs. Helen Cholensky tapped a shrimp-fork against her wineglass for attention.
“My dear friends,” the lady said, “I trust you are having a wonderful evening. At this time I would like to introduce to you our treasured houseguest, spiritual advisor, and mystical teacher, the one-and-only Roland Park Rasputin, the all-holy and beatific Master Gregory Yafimovitch!”
With this pronouncement, there came gliding down the stairway a tall man in a the black cassock of a priest. He had dark-brown hair and a long beard of the type worn by Russian Orthodox monks. His eyes were large and intently-staring, the irises almost jet-black surrounded by gleaming white. He held his left hand up in a strange sign of supposed blessing, and I noticed that the silver cross pendent that was hanging from a chain about his neck was inverted.
“Good evening, my cherished children,” he began in a deeply-intoned voice. “I am the personification of all holiness, I am the immortal and all-good master of divine powers. I am the most numinous and truly pious of priests, and the superior mystic of all time in all the world. I am he -- the legendary and supreme master of all mankind and the deepest desire of all womankind! I am -- RASPUTIN!!”
“Love, did I actually just hear him claim he is ‘the deepest desire of all womankind’?” Katrina whispered in my ear. “That is ridiculous. The man is bloody hideous.”
I noticed that the other guests were moving towards the door. If this supposed “Rasputin” had no other mystical abilities (and of this I was as yet uncertain), he certainly had the power to clear a room. I heard several individuals nervously making their apologies to Mr. and Mrs. Cholensky and quickly leaving. Soon Katrina and I were left only in the company of our hosts and the mysterious Mr. Gregory Yafimovitch.
The latter, quite undaunted, moved over towards us. His body odour was horrible. He literally smelled like a goat.
“Doctor Daniel Rumanos of Algol,” he said. “The Paranormal Detective and Professional Illusionist. What are you going to do for your first trick tonight, Magician? Attempt to turn a nympholeptic sociopath from Baltimore into a great cosmic hero?”
“Nothing so dramatic, Mr. Yafimovitch,” I retorted to the filthy old thing. “Your entrance certainly presented enough theatrics for one evening, eh?”
He ignored me and turned to my lovely wife.
“And you are his ‘better half‘, yes?” queried the sickening Yafimovitch with a rather menacing smile. “What is that he calls you? ‘Pussy’?”
“Kat,” she told him, her opalescent azure-blue eyes flashing with barely concealed disdain. “Short for Katrina. But you may call me Lady Rumanos.”
“Ah, yes. You are indeed quite fiery, aren’t you?”
Yafimovitch had mentioned Algol. So he had knowledge of my extraterrestrial origins as one of the mysterious Watchers of the Daemon-Star, those Masters of Space and Time who centre their domains ninety-three light years from Earth. The “fiery” remark concerning my wife was no coincidence either. He was apparently aware of her history as being in part the result of a laboratory experiment that granted her the ability to generate and control a certain occult flame. What could be the source of his arcane information?
In addition to this, the semi-secret jibes that Gregory Yafimovitch was giving us seemed to be designed to provoke a confrontation. I wondered what powers he had, or at least believed himself to have, that would make him think he could even hold his own against us if an altercation were to break out. Alas, I was already tiring of this wee war of words, and felt it best to push things on a bit.
“So now, Mr. Yafimovitch,” said I, whilst peering directly into his grotesque face. “Peradventure you can tell me this: What in Hell do you think would ever make us believe that you are actually Rasputin?!”
At this, the countenance of Gregory Yafimovitch took on a new and even more bizarre aspect. All attempt at urbanity was suddenly stripped away as he raised his hands and a shimmering black effulgence came forth from his palms. His eyes grew even darker and his face turned down into an evil, beastly scowl which nevertheless included a sickening grin of unmistakably diabolical malice.
Kat and I barely had time to ready any of our magical defences before Yafimovitch -- the self-proclaimed Roland Park Rasputin -- sent a blast of ebony demonic power at both of us; an eldritch discharge of obscenely powerful and Satanically sorcerous energy that sent us both reeling across the large ballroom to collide painfully against the far wall. Then Gregory Yafimovitch made a chilling announcement that answered our questions concerning his source of power and knowledge.
“Now, Daniel and Katrina Rumanos,” he snarled wickedly, “I shall destroy you both! I, RASPUTIN, have tonight the power to bring your end so you shall not be able to interfere with my plans of worldwide supremacy! For this is the evening of Tchernobog, the Black God and only true divinity -- this is the night of his festival, I am his chosen priest, his all-potent representative, and his power is mine!!”
TCHERNOBOG! The profanely-evil “Black God” so feared in the darkest legendry of the Russian people! So this was the actual horror worshipped by this so-called “Rasputin”, Gregory Yafimovitch! Indeed, I realised as Katrina and I recovered from his attack there in that posh Roland Park mansion, this was the Eve of the Feast of St. John the Baptist -- the twenty-third of June according to the old-style calendar of Eastern Orthodoxy -- the night of the horrid “Witches’ Sabbath” at which the phantasmagorical Tchernobog is indeed most puissantly invoked!
Nevertheless, I had even more knowledge concerning the hideous being known to the Slavic peasants as Tchernobog. I knew that this creature was in actuality a manifestation of none other than Lucifer-Astaroth -- the very Devil himself! You see, the majority of those entities that human beings refer to as “demons” and “devils” are really the disembodied spirits of any of several species of alien races that my own people, the Algolites, once, countless aeons of aeons ago, judged too dangerously powerful to continue to exist within the physical universe. Astaroth in particular was the supreme leader of the Cacodemons, a merciless species of conquerors whose evil empire once stretched across the great Andromeda Galaxy. This Astaroth, driven increasingly mad by his own power, began to think himself to be actually the Aeternusian-Algolite known as YAHWEH (who happens to be my Father, by the way).
I have at times made use of the insane notions of Astaroth in his mistaken belief that I am his child, even infiltrating numerous Satanic cults over the years, easily posing as the “Son of Satan” in order to gain their trust and then achieve the position necessary to destroy them and their wicked plans. For Lucifer-Astaroth and his legions of Cacodemon cohorts had, throughout human history, made use of their own phantasmal abilities in order to beguile Earthlings into worshipping them, and therefore making use of the humans’ proffered physical forms in order to enjoy the things that their own spirit-state denied them: sex and temporal power being the most oft-encountered purposes.
The continued attempts of the devil Astaroth to appear as Yahweh have been particularly perfidious, however; even bringing about certain sects that pose as parts of the authentic Abrahamic religion (which, in its pure form, is a most holy manifestation upon Earth of the sacred science of the Watchers of Algol).
I cast a bolt of my orange and blue Algolitish power at the horrid warlock Gregory Yafimovitch, sending him backwards against the opposite wall of the ballroom. Before he could recover, my wife hit him with a volley of the awesomely wonderful mystical flame that she commands. Its vermillion radiance, highlighted with violet sparks, burned fantastically across the air.
I chanced a glance at our hosts. Mr. Nikolas Cholensky was helping himself at the bar, continuing his plunge into alcohol-induced stupor. Mrs. Helen Cholensky was standing in the far corner with a worshipful smile upon her face, her hands clasped in her cleavage like a besotted schoolgirl, totally smitten and infatuated by her bizarre spiritual guru, Gregory Yafimovitch. She was obviously not at all worried, and had no doubts concerning his abilities to defeat us and to then continue in his Satanic invocation of the monstrously terrible Tchernobog!
Yafimovitch recovered far too quickly from our defensive attacks, aided by the black magical abilities that he had gained from his unholy worship of the arch-demon Tchernobog/Astaroth. I was careful to evidence no shock or concern at this, and continued to challenge him openly, my powers overtly shown as a glowing halo about my person.
“Be warned, Yafimovitch!” I announced to him. “You will not bring forth the horrors of Tchernobog to plague the human race! Not on this night or any other! As representative of the all-mighty Watchers of ALGOL, I shall not allow it!”
“No, Rumanos!” the warlock spat back in defiance. “This is the night of the Dread Lord of Darkness, and he has granted me the Power! I will call him forth, and will not do it alone!”
“Holy Flapdoodle!” I heard Katrina exclaim in surprise at what she then beheld. I looked and saw it as well. For at that moment there appeared, descending the stairway, a young girl surrounded by swirling myriads of the evil spirits of the Cacodemons, her eyes glowing crimson with terrifyingly diabolical malevolence. It was the Cholenskys’ daughter, Anna -- and she was possessed!
As the pitiful, possessed girl approached, the howling of the hideous array of Cacodemons creating a dissonance of unnameable terror all about us, I know knew what had to be done.
“Katrina!” I said. “Restrain him!”
“Right, my love!” she replied, comprehending my plan immediately. She created a powerful ring of her mystical flame in order to surround the wicked sorcerer known as Gregory Yafimovitch. It would not be able to hold him permanently, but could do so long enough for me to take the next step in what was necessary to banish the horrid forces of the demoniacal Tchernobog.
I made the Sign of the Holy Cross towards young Anna Cholensky, whilst repeating the Old Church Slavonic prayer most efficacious against the legions of ungodly darkness:
“Gospodi I-iSUSje KhristJE, SIne Bozhi-i, PoMIlui mja GRESHnago! Gospodi I-iSUSje KhristJE, SIne Bozhi-i, PoMIlui mja GRESHnago! Gospodi I-iSUSje KhristJE, SIne Bozhi-i, PoMIlui mja GRESHnago!”
The little girl screamed and fainted upon the floor as the phantasmal legion of demonic entities left her, an inter-dimensional gateway opening to receive them, now properly exorcised and cast back into the blackest depth of that otherworldly gaol prepared by the Watchers for the Cacodemons -- that region of chthonic imprisonment known as HELL!!
“Now, Kat!” I shouted as I sent forth bolts of my Algolitish powers towards the sickening, self-proclaimed “Rasputin“, aided by my wondrous wife, who shot amazing flashes of her scintillating flame at him. The result was to weaken the villain enough to prevent him from achieving any ability to fight against the pull from the temporary Hell-Gate. Indeed, Yafimovitch soon joined the masses of Cacodemons on their rapid downward spiral into Perdition!
“NO!” he screeched. “NOOOOO!!”
“Oh, by the way, Yafimovitch,” I stated to him as he began to vanish into the realms of the underworld, where he would be forever tortured by the very forces of evil that he had ignorantly worshipped, “in case you are wondering how I knew you were not really Rasputin: it is because I was!!!”
Then, just before the execrable Yafimovitch entirely disappeared into the eternal darkness, Mrs Helen Cholensky came running towards him and jumped directly into that descending melee of infernal horrors.
“Master Gregory!” cried the madwoman. “Please, my most beloved Master Gregory! I want to be with you forever! Don’t leave without meeeeee!!”
And with this, the terrifying passageway into Hell vanished, along with Gregory Yafimovitch, Helen Cholensky, and the Satanic forces of the devil Tchernobog.
Little Anna was all right, comparatively speaking, and had little memory of ever knowing the odious Mr. Yafimovitch -- himself (so it turned out upon background investigation) a low-bred Russian immigrant with a history of sexual crimes and fraud charges in his own country. Child Protective Services took care of Anna, and she was adopted by a family in another state who changed her name.
There were no criminal charges against Mr. Nikolas Cholensky, as DNA tests proved that the abuse of Anna had been physically perpetrated wholly by Yafimovitch, though enabled and approved of, no doubt, by the girl’s hideous excuse for a mother, the now-deceased Mrs. Helen Cholensky.
However, it soon turned out that the Cholensky mansion was mortgaged to the hilt. They had been living off credit cards, their family fortunes long depleted. Mr. Cholensky checked into a charity-funded rehabilitation centre to combat his alcoholism, afterwards becoming a permanent resident at a local assisted living community. The mansion itself became a property of the State, and was then sold to a real estate company that divided it up into yet another apartment complex.
As for me, Dr. Daniel Rumanos, and my sensational spouse, the lovely Lady Katrina Rumanos, we returned to our home and headquarters at the Temple of the Starry Wisdom and to adventures anew.