Johannes Cabal the Necromancer (Johannes Cabal series Book 1)
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The short stories are also harder to track down than that as many were written in magazines that subsequently ceased publication. Community Showcase More.
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Follow TV Tropes. You need to login to do this. A charmingly gothic, fiendishly funny Faustian tale about a brilliant scientist who makes a deal with the Devil, twice. Johannes Cabal sold his soul years ago in order to learn the laws of necromancy. Now he wants it back. Amused and slightly bored, Satan proposes a little wager: Johannes has to persuade one hundred people to sign over their souls or he will be damned forever.
This time for real. Accepting the bargain, Jonathan is given one calendar year and a traveling carnival to complete his task. With little time to waste, Johannes raises a motley crew from the dead and enlists his brother, Horst, a charismatic vampire to help him run his nefarious road show, resulting in mayhem at every turn. Howard is a game designer who notably co-scripted the first three Broken Sword adventure games.
He lives near Bristol, England, with his wife and daughter.
Johannes Cabal Series | Penguin Random House Canada
The last night of April. The night of witches, when evil walks abroad.
He stood at a desolate and lonely place where there would be no interruption, no prying eyes. The air smelled metallic with freshly spilt blood; the body of a decapitated virgin kid goat lay nearby.
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He had no alloyed metal about him but for a thin-bladed sword of fine steel he held in his right hand; that arm was naked, his shirt sleeve rolled up to the biceps. A silver coin wrapped in paper nestled in his waistcoat pocket. Before him burned a fire of white wood. His name was Johannes Cabal, and he was summoning a demon.
Only the crackling of the fire accompanied him. That didn't mean he had to approve or even be impressed by them. As he recited the Grand Conjuration, he thought that some magicians might have better served the world by writing crossword puzzles. Then space distorted, and he was no longer alone. The demon's name was Lucifuge Rofocale. In one hand he held a bag containing, at least symbolically, the riches of the world. In the other, a golden hoop. He wore a segmented, studded leather skirt rather like a Roman soldier's. He had a fat anteater's tail, and a silly little Hercule Poirot moustache.
As is often the case with demons, Lucifuge looked like an anatomical game of Consequences.
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What dost thou seek of me? Why dost thou disturb my repose? Smite me no more with that dread rod! You haven't got a goatskin or two vervain crowns or two candles of virgin wax made by a virgin girl and duly blessed. Have you got the stone called Ematille? He dropped the subject and moved on. The demon caught it and took a dram. They regarded each other for a long moment. A great adamantine finger of rock a mile in diameter and two miles high punches through the surface of the cracked and baking desert plain of Limbo. On one side of this impenetrable edifice are the Gates themselves: massive iron constructions hundreds of feet wide and a thousand high.
Their rough, barely worked surfaces are pocked and pitted with great bolts driven through in ragged lines, huge bands of brass running across in uneven ranks.
One could be forgiven for thinking Hell's a popular place to get into. Perhaps surprisingly, it is.
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On the outside, one wonders what happens once you pass through that terrible, cruel portal. Some believe that all Hell is somehow crammed within the rock, a place where dimensions mean nothing. Others say that immediately beyond the Gates, within the hollowed rock, is a great chasm that opens into the pit of Hell, and that those stepping within must surely plunge straight to their eternal dooms.
Others believe that the rock conceals the top of a very big escalator. Lots of forms. Stacks of forms.
An average of nine thousand, seven hundred, and forty-seven of them were required to gain entrance to Hell. The largest form ran to fifteen thousand, four hundred, and ninety-seven questions. The shortest to just five, but five of such subtle phraseology, labyrinthine grammar, and malicious ambiguity that, released into the mortal world, they would certainly have formed the basis of a new religion or, at the least, a management course.
This, then, was the first torment of Hell, as engineered by the soul of a bank clerk.
Johannes Cabal Series
Nobody had to fill in the forms, of course. Congas of hopeful applicants wound around the gatehouse like a line drawn by somebody wanting to find out how much writing you could get out of a box of ballpoints. The formerly quiet desert hummed to a steady drone of sub-vocalised reading and flipped pages. New arrivals and old hands queued patiently at the porter's door to hand in and receive forms.
Most could anticipate three or four times as many, not counting forms rejected for mistakes; the hand-picked team of administrative imps that dealt with admissions didn't like errors at all, nor did they issue erasers. Through the muttering crowds, stepping over form-fillers and never pausing to apologise, came a pale man. Johannes Cabal was walking to Hell.
Tow-headed, lean, in his late twenties, but with any spirit of that youth long since evaporated, Cabal seemed otherwise unremarkable except for his air of intent, his unwavering advance on the gatehouse, and his clothes. That guy's dressed! He's got clothes! A short black frock coat, slouch-brimmed black hat, black trousers, black shoes, a white shirt, and a tidy black cravat.
He wore dark-blue tinted glasses with side-baffles, and he carried a black gladstone bag. Unexciting clothes, but clothes nonetheless. It was the first sensation that the desert had ever experienced. The damned parted before Cabal, who, in his turn, seemed to accept this as his due. Some excitedly speculated that he must be a messenger from the Other Place, that the end times had finally arrived.