November 9, 1888
Beneath Whitechapel - London, England
The sewers beneath London reeked of a pungent and filthy smell. He had been used to the stench after spending many months in his hideout, but something felt odd about that cold and eerie night. There were more articles in the paper that morning pertaining to the murders he committed. Witnesses and police finally believed to have identified him. They spoke of a man in his late 30’s with a thick chevron mustache and short hair. Reports indicated he was wearing an unbuttoned white shirt showcasing his skinny frame.
He looked down at himself, matching the description he had read. Coming to his senses he looked at the blade dripping with blood, looking down at the corpse of his latest victim.
“Another failure,” he said sighing in exasperation.
Jack backed away from the female corpse laying on the bed and proceeded out the door. Walking down the dimly lit corridor, he wiped away at his blade with a brown rag. He had made his hideout in the sewers beneath the Whitechapel district of London where he could practice his sick and evil rituals, albeit unsuccessfully. There was an idea, that by performing these sadistic acts, kidnapping women, loving them, binding his and her soul together and sacrificing them—it would uncover the power of immortality. He believed this after running in with a man who claimed to have done it and wanted desperately to know how.
He stopped in front of a door, turned to look behind to make sure no one was there and stepped inside. The sewers were like a maze that seemed to go on forever. The water was no longer running and the brick walls were a shade of slime green. Strolling alongside the walkway, Jack had countless thoughts about where he had gone wrong. Was immortality unachievable through the soul? He was a brilliant man but lacked the sensibility to see what he was doing rationally. He was going on a killing spree and his terrible ways rewarded him the name of Jack the Ripper.
He didn’t want it to come to this but after performing unsuccessful rituals on his female victims, the thought was once again on his mind—to carry it out on himself. Looking up, he finally came to a door-less entryway that led him to a room filled with newspapers and schematics pasted on the walls, stacks of parchment were scrambled all over the wet floor. A simple chair and desk were placed in the center of the room with a lamp and an open diary laid upon it. Looking back once more over his shoulder, he entered and sat down.
He turned to look at the walls of the room. His ideas and notes dotted on the walls looked to be the work of a mad scientist. He looked back down at his diary and pinched the bridge of his nose with scrunched eyes, contemplating what was about to come next.
He pulled out a quill from underneath his desk and began to write in his diary.
“The ninth of November, 1888
By my deeds am I known—and I am known as Jack, Springheel Jack, Jack the Ripper. By my deeds am I known. And they are truly bloody. I took them all to my heart. Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catharine Eddowes, Mary Kelly—and loved them, truly loved them all. But the immortal power I sought within the sordid confines of their bodies—the still-beating of the organ of the soul—was not to be found. The ritual of the knife was to no avail… I am bereft, and must, therefore, perform that bloody ritual upon myself…”
“Stay your hand Jack and listen to what I have to say,” spoke a deep sinister echo. It screeched of several threatening voices blending into one menacing and evil tone.
Jack jumped up from his chair, raising his knife in defense. “How did you find this place? Who are you!?”
In front of the entrance to the room appeared a middle-aged man of aristocratic support who wore elegant but unkempt clothing, like a neglected gentleman. He sported striped purple pants, an orange button up shirt wrapped with a red bandana around the neck and a long open grey coat. His dark hair was slicked back with blonde highlights and had piercing blue eyes. A sword was held with both hands and used as a cane between his feet. The most terrifying feature of his appearance, though, was his mouth as it was constantly bleeding like a waterfall, hinting at a demonic nature.
“My name is Legion, for we are many. The immortal power that you seek does exist. It does, indeed, lie within the soul, but only within certain ones. Certain Dark Souls…” At that moment, the strange man lifted his left hand and produced a spirit-like purple entity with a dark core. It made a loud screeching noise that sounded of cries and despair.
“My God! What are you that you can produce such things from thin air!?” exclaimed Jack. He retreated back even further, now hitting the wall behind him. His breathing raced and he raised his knife even further up in defense.
“Merely an explorer, much like yourself,” said the man calmly.
“What is it that you want from me?”
At that moment, the man lowered his hand back toward the hilt of his sword, letting the dark spirit vanish. “You are an architect by trade, are you not?”
Jack gazed at the man astonishingly. He couldn’t believe what he had just witnessed. The temperature in the room dropped and the ambience felt like that of a nightmare.
Legion walked toward the desk. “Then I would have you build a cathedral to pain. A place where you and I and others like us may join together. A place of Asylum—for all the unique and misunderstood individuals that will follow you as the time of Armageddon approaches. And at the heart of Asylum, we shall construct a great dark engine powered by souls of equal hue and we shall harness their power to create an immortal army to punish and cleanse this pathetic world.”
Jack furrowed his brow and opened his mouth to speak but no words came out. He couldn’t believe what he had just heard. “You want me to build you a cathedral? You must be mental! I don’t know who the bloody hell you think you are, but I’ve seen my fair share of tricks and games and you think you can waltz in here like some creepy bloke and make demands!?”
“Tread carefully, Jack. I’ve but shown you a glimpse of what I’m capable of. I offer only what you need in return for your services.” Legion stepped forward. “You see… we’re the same, you and I—completely misunderstood. You can remain here and perform that senseless sacrifice upon yourself or join me for true immortality.”
Not backing down, Jack maintained his position shaking with nervousness. “Illusions are easy to come by. I’m not sure how you discovered my whereabouts but-”
Suddenly, Legion raised his sword with both hands, the blade facing the floor and harshly brought it down, hitting the wet surface with such ferocity. It uttered a strong clang sound and dark energy emitted from it. The parchment on the floor swirled around him and more blood dripped from the edges of his chin. The sight made Jack freeze in horror as he stared continuously at the man’s evil eyes. There was absolutely no way this was fiction. It was very much real.
“Don’t test me. Do you believe in witches and wizards Jack? What about bokors and voodoo warriors?” asked the malevolent voice.
The question caught Jack off guard. He still couldn’t move as he was stunned by what he had just witnessed, but tried to quickly compose himself. “What are you on about? What do you mean?”
“What I mean to say, Jack, is that the world you know is one half of the same coin. There is another world entirely here on this plane of Liveside which you do not perceive. Magic is very much real in this world that can completely change the way you see it. You just witnessed part of it.”
Discovering some new profound courage, he had enough of the nonsense he was hearing and finally straightened to face him like a man. “Bollocks! How do you expect me to believe such fantasies? What you did is all just a trick! I’ve heard enough! I’m going to-”
With a snap of Legion’s finger Jack was sent flying toward the ceiling of the room being held by a violent invisible force around his neck. He tussled and tried to escape the fierce grasp, but it was hopeless and he began to lose his breath.
“Oh they’re very much real, Jack. And that’s why I’ve come. To bring my kingdom into this earth and bring about the apocalypse. It is prophecy, our destiny, for we are many.”
The violent hold was released from him and Jack fell hard with a thud. Massaging his throat, he picked up his knife again in defense, coughing, trying to catch his breath. Whatever was at play here was no joke. So much had been dropped on him and now he was forced to believe in other worlds and magic as well. Perhaps the man he had encountered before about the ritual was right. Perhaps the stories he had heard were true. And maybe he had similar powers as the evil man before him. So much was running through his mind and it seemed he was captivated by the man’s charismatic behavior, like a powerful flame burning within his very heart at the edge of darkness.
“I will give you one final chance to join me Jack. I came to you because I know what you’re capable of. How I came to know about your activities is not important. Join me in our quest for Armageddon. You’ll be open to new worlds and ideas. Everything you have ever wanted at your disposal.”
Jack remained in the defensive position with his blade still raised. He pondered about the evil man wanting to bring upon the apocalypse. Why him, he thought. Out of any time, any place, any one single person—it was him that had to endure his malevolent presence pressuring him to join him. What did building a cathedral have to do with anything? There were so many questions but he feared any inquisition would leave him for dead. “And where might I build this cathedral of yours?” he asked solely.
Legion smiled and waved his arm as if signaling over something. “Across the veil, in the darkness, amongst the restless spirits of those who have passed beyond. In the place known as Deadside…”
“Deadside? What’s that?” Jack inquired, appearing shocked at Legion and the preposterous situation at hand. The man promised immortality for a cathedral, with no real explanation for anything that he had just witnessed. One thing was for certain, this man was no ordinary man at all. He could sense a dark evil surrounding him. Blood continued to drip from his mouth. For the first real time that night, Jack felt fear, but was eager to learn more about him and how he was able to manipulate matter out of thin air.
His sinister voice spoke menacingly, “I have walked both planes of this world for thousands of millennia and have never encountered such a doubtful fool in my existence.”
“What!” blurted out Jack in dismay. The man had just confessed that he’s been living in this world for thousands of years but how was that even possible? Nothing made a bit of sense and he felt the fear in his chest grow with each passing second.
“There is a place far beyond death, where every last soul that ever walked this earth resides for eternity. There is no escaping this place—no exceptions for any soul. It is a place that has no hope, no past, or future—no boundaries to hold the evil, trapped as it is an unending present. A dimension of the dead, where the massed ranks of billions upon billions of souls roam this wasteland in search of living souls to devour. This spiritual plane, is known as Deadside, the place where everyone goes, without exception, when they die.”
Jack lowered his knife shakenly, heart pounding even faster. “Y-You’re mad… you can’t be serious…”
“It is true,” spoke Legion. “I will answer all the questions you have but for the time being, you must cross to Deadside Jack. Use your blade. Follow me into the darkness. Together we can rid this world of its pathetic nature. And you will indeed live forever. As I said, the power of immortality lies within the dark soul I conjured. It’ll be yours as soon as we cross beyond.”
Jack’s breathing had slowed down a bit. He looked down at the floor searching for answers. He turned his gaze to the walls and back at Legion. “Then, if I am to join you… I must die!” pronounced Jack. In a way, he thought, he was already planning on going out by suicide for one final attempt at achieving the immortal power he sought. And now was given an opportunity by a mad man proving such ferocious and evil power to grant his wishes in return for his help.
But could he trust this evil man? This was some sort of sick deal with the devil, but how could he be ensured with everything he had heard? He wasn’t about to question any more as he saw quite enough hint of the dark magic Legion conjured. It appeared as he had no choice in the matter and Jack looked more and more convincingly.
Legion turned his back toward him and began walking out of the room. He stopped halfway and looked over his shoulder at Jack. “It is prophecy. You see, there are events in the near future that will take place upon this world that will change everything. Destiny is very real Jack, and yours…. is in for a great surprise,” he said with an evil smile that sent chills down Jack’s core. “I have seen it. It is prophecy that we join along with others and bring about the apocalypse. We cannot fail, for we are many.”
Jack gazed at Legion’s backside for an eternity. Everything was moving so fast that he didn’t know what to think. He had so many questions. How could there be a whole other world where magic was done and another where there was life after death. And who really was this man? The herald to the apocalypse? The devil himself taunting and torturing him for his heinous crimes? And now he was talking about some prophecy like the second coming. He had heard enough and while he wasn’t going to get any solid answers at the moment, he came to a conclusion. Although everything sounded far off, this was it, everything he wanted and had been searching for his whole life. The power to live forever and new worlds to discover.
He began thinking about the women of his life. The women that he had spent months loving unknowingly, killing. The women that were sacrificed for his own sick power fantasy. It seemed more true than ever, that he was just the same as the man who appeared before him.
Jack took a deep breath and took one last look at Legion. He just stood there, waiting, knowing what was about to happen next. Jack moved around the desk, closed his diary and placed both hands on his blade. He raised both arms fearlessly, awaiting the painful cost of living forever.
“For we are many…” he exclaimed, before striking the blade straight into his torso. He made profound gurgling noises as he fell to his knees surrounded by a pool full of his own blood. With one last gaze at Legion, he tumbled over dead.
“Amen to that…”
(Present Day) August 13, 2000
Bayou Paradis - Louisiana, United States
“No, no, no, no… NO!” screamed Nettie as she woke up violently, panting and looking around the room shakenly. Darkness encompassed the room above the Wild at Heart Bar. The fan above on the ceiling continued spinning, the sticky Louisiana heat unavoidable. Mike had insisted she stay the night and after fruitless attempts to try to leave drunk, she got tired of talking him out of it.
“What’s the problem Agnetta?” asked Mike’s deep raspy voice, waking up quickly to comfort her.
“There’s a darkness coming… I had a dream Shadow Man… A really bad dream. A Deadside dream. Everything I was talking to you about last night—the Five are here, the heralds of the apocalypse. Deacon’s file confirms everything I feared. The end’s coming Shadow Man. An ancient prophecy tells the return of a great evil to Deadside. A terrible force gathering Dark Souls to its darker heart and using their powers to cross over into this world and bring about Apocalypse.”
Mike furrowed his brow and looked at her strangely through her fast talking. Nettie was a powerful voodoo priestess, a practitioner of dark magic for the good of mankind. While she appeared to look young, she was in fact centuries old, her soul inhabiting the body of an African woman in her mid-20’s whom unfortunately became involved in Nettie’s schemes. It was because of her that Mike was now to do her bidding. Prophetic dreams were nothing new to him.
“Hold on a minute. Don’t tell me you’re having these crazy nightmares again Nettie. Half of the time they’re bullshit and-”
“No!” exclaimed Nettie as she stood up from the bedside and started pacing around the dark room. “Not this time Shadow Man… I know when evil is coming, true evil. I sensed it with the Riddle boy remember? But this… this is completely different. This evil seems to be breaking out of Deadside onto Liveside.”
Mike continued to look at her intently. The two had been familiar with the adventures of the golden trio. Unlike most wizards and witches around the world, they were alarmed to Voldemort’s presence but decided against taking action. Nettie claimed the Potter boy would soon defeat him and was destined to do so. Mike had been a bit more uneasy about the manner but was reassured when the papers came after the war.
“So you’re saying another dark wizard is trying to take over the world again? The kid handled it Nettie. Very well at that. I’m sure they can handle what’s coming.”
Nettie’s bare feet stopped pacing and she made her way out toward the deck. The night was clear and although a bit sticky from the weather, a rustling wind made its way through the open doorway. She spoke a bit more loudly, her accent vibrating though Mike’s ears. “You don’t understand. The Potter boy’s fate was involved in the prophecy created. It was his destiny to defeat Voldemort. This time, however… I saw something different, not a dark wizard… something more terrifying.”
“I’m not quite sure, but you were in it and the five serial killers Deacon talked about. It’s vague but you, Shadow Man, must go and recover the dark souls from Deadside before this new evil collects them.”
Mike sat up alongside the edge of the bed and looked at Nettie with a fierce gaze through the darkness. She was always on about new threats and evils trying to emit from Deadside. What could possibly be new about this? He gazed down at his bare chest where the Mask of Shadows lay implanted through his skin.
He recounted the many times he heard the story about the ancient protectors of the world.
He was a Shadow Man—an African warrior blessed by the gods with supernatural powers to protect the world of the living souls from the ones trying to cross over from Deadside. If it weren't for these ancient voodoo protectors, there would be no Liveside. He always got a good laugh about how his life had been transformed since his family was killed. Nettie said implanting the Mask of Shadows was for the best to ease the torment he suffered through knowing it was his fault that his family was gone. From then on he explained he deserved everything bad that came his way.
“I guess I must stop this evil from bringing about the End of All Things.” Mike said gesturing up and down with his fingers.
Nettie finally turned away from the deck and went inside to face him. “You can’t do it alone this time Shadow Man. I know you are the walker between the worlds. I can’t go to Deadside and Jaunty’s next to useless in both worlds. But in my dream I saw something else—a shade of red. A boy… no… a man. The Potter boy’s best friend.”
Mike did a double take at her and firmly stood. That was a clear indication to him that this was all a false alarm. “You’ve got to be joking Nettie… So what are you saying? That the kid’s friend can help me or must help me defeat this supposedly new evil you’re on about? Prophetic dreams my ass, I don’t need that skinny ginger sonofabitch. And I still think what you’re saying is bullshit.”
Nettie shook her head in frustration. “Mike it’s prophecy! I don’t know what the hell his role in all of this is but he’s a part of it! And you know damn well what I can do to you if you refuse to believe. I don’t make up bullshit like this, just look at the last fucking dark lord that tried to take over the world and had people doubting about his resurrection. Nobody in any Ministry wanted to believe and they didn’t do a darn thing until people started getting murdered. Doing nothing will only doom us sooner and I know you’re not stupid enough to let that happen.”
“As it ever was…” said Mike sitting back down defeated.
“Listen, you ain’t never confronted anything like this evil. It’s so pure, not even the ancient protectors of the Dark Souls could destroy it. They can only banish it from Deadside. They knew it’d come back one day, hence the prophecy telling of its return. The power of the ancients is all but gone now and the Dark Souls that evil desires lie unprotected. What you have to do, Shadow Man, is to go to Deadside and recover the Dark Souls. Take them into your own protection—before the evil gathers them to its terrible heart.”
Thinking about this more rationally, Mike wondered about the possibilities of what taking a back seat would entail. The wizarding world would spring into action, sure. He’d be able to live in the no-maj world without a worry. But then again, Agnetta will have him suffer for not believing and helping her. She was cruel that way.
Mike placed his elbow on his thigh and rubbed his chin taking everything in. “Okay, so let me get this straight. If I don’t recover these Dark Souls then the world’s gonna end, am I right?”
“You got it.”
“Shit… But how can you be so sure of this so called prophecy Nettie? And how the hell is it that you know all about this ancient stuff?”
“Because I am Shadow Man. And it’s difficult to explain… there have been stories among tribes for years whom have thought to sense evil’s presence. It’s no gamble, we have to protect everyone at all costs. And I need you to find him, Potter’s friend. Bring him to the church and we’ll get everything sorted. In the meantime, I have to go read and prepare more about this prophecy and the evil it is said to bring.”
Nettie finally turned on the bedside lamp and began to pick up her things from the floor. Mike watched her, doubt still filling his mind.
“I… I don’t know, sounds a bit premature since nothing bad has been happening. And I’m not in the mood to babysit these stupid wizard police. Besides, I suppose he’ll come willingly wanting to hold my hand as well?”
“Listen, I haven’t sensed anything overtly bad happening to the trio ever since the dark lord but you must do anything possible to bring his ass here. He’s been shut away all his life, coming second and living in a shadow. I think it’s time for him to make a name for himself, don’t you?”
“I think he already has… as a self-doubting jackass. And what of his little girlfriend hmm? I suppose you want me to bring the smartest of the three along too? And what about Potter? Might be difficult considering they’re all A-list celebrities now.”
Nettie stopped and looked carefully at Mike. There was more to the prophecy that she hadn’t mentioned which involved Hermione Granger. She couldn’t bring herself to say anything so she made a note to avoid it at all costs. “Not Granger… not yet… bring Potter if you must but make sure Weasley’s here,” she whispered.
“I still can’t believe I’m being sent halfway across the world for his sorry ass…”
“Do it for your family Mike. The world needs you. I know you’re tormented but-”
“Stop. I’ll do it. But for myself,” he said pointing at the artifact implanted on his chest. Anything to get her to shut up about his family. He tried to avoid any talk about them as much as possible and while Nettie thought it hopeless, she respected his wishes.
“Now you’re talking. Take Deacon’s file and do anything possible to convince Weasley to come to the church on the hill. I’ve kept your stuff safe for you there. I’ll see you soon.”