I’m not very good at writing diaries. I tried a couple of times as a kid, but it never progressed far. I think I managed to fit five years of entries into a single notebook, just a couple of them a year. The thing fit some poems and aborted writing attempts, too. The stuff you do when you’re 15. I started again when this weirdest of all journeys started last month. But then, I was given the instructions to come to London, and when I packed for the Eurostar, I packed lightly and forgot the damn thing at home.
No, I’ve always been more one to write in hindsight. So now that I’m sitting here at the Overlook Motel, zombies, ocean beasts, and the minions of hell raging outside… what better time to recap the recent events, and put it all into perspective to my own story?
My name is Anselm Arenberg. “Anselm” means “under the protection of the gods”, but there also was a famous theologian and scholastic by that name. Guess my parents wanted to make sure to cover all bases when they gave me that name. The Arenbergs were a famous and reasonably powerful House of the Old German Empire. You know, not the one with those Prussian cretins, the real one, the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. Voltaire joked that in the end, it was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire. But let him talk, what did he know? Lived at the miserable Frederick of Prussia’s court for a couple of years, must’ve gone to his head. In his defense, he returned to France in anger after the two had a fallout.
As I said, House Arenberg was reasonably powerful. We rarely were the focal point of politics, but that made our life a lot easier. What counted was that we reigned over a small area, but always in our own name. In our area, we were as powerful as the kings of France and England. Nobody stood between us and the Emperor. When we wanted to be heard, we would be heard. It is not quite clear when our family rose to prominence, but by the High Middle Ages, we held several territories in the western parts of Germany. Presumably sent one or two members on crusades, too, though not on the most successful ones. Such is life. Story I was told as a kid said one of us was in the entourage of King Barbarossa on the Third Crusade, was one of the last men that saw him alive before he drowned. Stood on the bridge when the king got impatient, rode through the Saleph river, and was caught by a wave in his heavy armor. Moral of the story: just because fate has chosen you for a position as a leader, never overestimate it. Not everybody and everything will bow to you. Maybe that attitude was one of the reasons we never had a lot of problems in our territories. Great power, great responsibility, and all that.
Anyway, at some point, we seem to have been considered famous, stable, and noble enough to be approached by the Templars, as they were known. How they tie in with the Knights Templar that were disbanded by Philip IV (technically by Pope Clement V, but he was conveniently kept in his Babylonian captivity in Avignon), and when exactly we were approached, I haven’t been able to find out yet. The Templar archives are still off-limits to me, and parts of our family’s archives were lost in a fire in 1698, so I can only guess that the connection must have already been established by then. Maybe we were approached when we were raised from counts to dukes, maybe it even was part of a deal: More prominence and precedence in the empire, and in return one of your non-heir children will always be in the ranks. It wasn’t all that bad a deal, it seems. Some of my ancestors were put on church positions that at times were little more than a sinecure; I can just assume that was part of their facade.
Of course, all that worldly power ended around 1800. First, Napoleon came and annexed our possession left of the Rhine. We got compensated with other areas, but you can’t create land out of thin air. The whole German Mediation was a big farce, a mixture of annexation and charity for those who had lost their lands to the French. It didn’t help anyway, when Napoleon pressed further, we lost our new, alien lands, too. And then when he was defeated, the bloody Prussians annexed it. Always blowing their big German horn, but nothing but thieves, all of them. What’s left today is a title in the Belgian peerage from one of our smaller former possession in the area. And, of course, our connection to the Templars. Just because we’re no rulers any more doesn’t mean they lost interest. In their eyes, we’re obviously still prime material.
When I reached London, I was picked up at St. Pancras Station by a guy called Gabriel Ritter. He’s from a landed gentry line somewhere in Bavaria. His family has been part of the most active branch of the Templars as “Schattenjäger” for a few generations, fighting lesser evils like werewolves. He’s old enough now to be semi-retired, though, with a desk job at the central bureaucracy. He gave me a short rundown of the most vital rules, and informed me of my new name within the order. From now on, in internal communications, I will go by the name of Tabascun. Those names are family-bound and inherited, and mine has been passed on from my uncle.
Come to think of it, great-uncle Phillip always entertained us with these magic tricks. He loved stage magicians, was one of his hobbies. When we visited him, he always performed tricks for us. He even let us in on some of the secrets, but the most spectacular ones, he kept to himself. Maybe they weren’t much of a trick at all. After the whole bees thing, I’m starting to wonder how much of it was real magic. Gabriel told me that only Jurors and higher ranks gain unlimited access to the Templar archives. This is my goal, I want to see just how deep we’ve been involved, and for how long.
One thing I’m pretty sure of, though: uncle Phillip never had to deal with the kind of stuff I have to. All those living dead and things. Can’t imagine that. Maybe he did all those secret handshake thingies, maybe they had some clandestine orgies with lots of wine and women and sacred rites, but I can’t believe he’s ever stood face to face with a drowned returned corpse. The smell is the worst. You’d think when they started living again, they would have stopped rotting. Maybe they did, and it’s just that the moving makes them disperse the smell everywhere. When it comes to that, I prefer the demons. With them, it’s mostly pumice with just a hint of sulphur. Thankfully, neither type likes blood magic, which is what the bees seemed to have chosen for me. Think uncle Phillip was more of an elementalist; then again, I was told your talents progress slowly and can branch out, so one day I might be able to light candles from afar for some nephews, too. Sure would beat sitting in this godforsaken place rambling on some paper with an “Overlook Motel, Solomon Island: the coziest place off the New England coast” letterhead printed on it while all hell breaks loose outside, quite literally.