Behind The Darkness - The Danish Revival II
"Behind the veil of all the hieratic and mystical allegories of ancient doctrines, behind the darkness and strange ordeals of all initiations, under the seal of all sacred writings, in the ruins of Nineveh or Thebes, on the crumbling stones of old temples and on the blackened visage of the Assyrian or Egyptian sphinx, in the monstrous or marvellous paintings which interpret to the faithful of India the inspired pages of the Vedas, in the cryptic emblems of our old books on alchemy, in the ceremonies practised at reception by all secret societies, there are found indications of a doctrine which is everywhere the same and everywhere carefully concealed" - Eliphas Levi, Dogma and Ritual of High Magic
1. A New Dawn
Cimetière de Montmartre, Paris
17th June 1875
Jens Stemme stood stolidly over the grave, his snow white hair blowing slightly in the chill wind. The funeral had been a simple affair, with only a few solitary, shady figures in attendence, presided over by the only priest Jens could find who would perform the ceremony.
Despite being the height of the French summer it was a drab, cold day, with droplets of spit falling from the heavy grey clouds. The ceremony came to a finish, and Jens took some soil, mumbling "ashes to ashes" in French before whispering in Danish, "goodbye, old friend." As Jens walked from the graveyard out towards the centre of Paris he took one last look at the tombstone, which read in fancy gothic script,
"Here lie the remains of Eliphas Levi, beloved of this world and the next"
He turned and walked away, feeling incredibly old. Soon it will be my time, he thought gloomily, soon I will join him in eternal darkness...
He sighed, and scolded himself for thinking like that, and as he strolled towards the centre of Paris he instead remembered the good times, and marvelled at how poor, destitute Alphonse-Louis Constant had become the great, world-renowned occultist Eliphas Levi.
Alphonse, aka Eliphas Levi, not long before he died.
New Ameliensborg Palace, Copenhagen
17th June 1875
Council President Christen Berg clapped his hands, and said,
“Right, gentlemen, that will do for today. Meeting dismissed.”
The various ministers of the Danish government shuffled out, leaving Berg standing alone in the conference room. He sat down and lit up a cigar, and took in what his ministers had told him. There was good news, as the colonies in Tanganyika and Namibia were now beginning to reap their financing rewards, and also on the diplomatic front Denmark still maintained excellent relations with all the major powers, especially Germany and Russia. There was always the risk of a conflict between these two nations, and Berg hoped that Denmark could act as a mediator between the two should tensions escalate. Then there was also the economy, according to finance minister Hørup was now the eight strongest in the world, a fact that greatly pleased the Council President very much.
Europe, 1875. Denmark is allied with Russia, Germany, France and Sweden
As Berg was just finishing his cigar there was a knock at the door. Berg got up and greeted the tall, dark haired man with a nod and smile.
“Ah, Tomas. How are you today?”
Tomas seemed to ignore the question, and brusquely said, “My report,” He handed over a dossier and left without saying a word. Berg shut the door, murmuring to himself, “hmm, charming as ever…”
The dossier bore the seal of the Jens Stemme Institute of Research into History and Origins, with the words HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL scrawled on the front. Berg sat down at the table and lit up another cigar, reading through the document with interest. After ten minutes he put the document down, and sat still, expressionless. He stubbed out the cigar, and with document in hand hurried out of the room.
Stemme Castle, Near Roskilde
18th June 1875
After the short but bloody and destructive Civil War of 1844, King Frederik VII had rewarded all those who had been of service to the monarchist cause. Peder Kristensen, Generals Rye and De Meza, and of course Jens Stemme, were all rewarded with titles and land. Jens and Helena moved into the old castle that had been given to them and in early 1846 Helena gave birth to their only son, Niels. Thirteen years later, to Jens and Helena’s immense shock and surprise, she fell pregnant again, now in her mid-forties.
However, things did not go to plan, and Helena perished in childbirth, the grim irony of it not lost on a devastated Jens and Niels. The child survived though, a healthy baby girl who Jens named Ingrid. It was both a time of great heartache and great joy, of loss and gain, and one that would haunt Jens for the rest of his days.
Sixteen years later, and it was just Jens and his daughter, with Niels now married with a son, living in Roskilde working as a bank clerk. Upon receiving news of Alphonses death, Jens arranged for Niels and his family to come and look after his sister while he was in France.
Like in Paris, the air was wet and the clouds cast dark shadows over the echoing, stretching halls and corridors of Stemme Castle. Ingrid sat in her room, engrossed in a translated edition of “The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe“, when there was a knock at the door.
“Ingrid? It’s Niels.”
She rolled her eyes, and opened the door. “Yes?”
“Kaja and I were wandering if you’d like to come with us to town? It’s a beautiful day.”
Ingrid looked out at the gloom. “No it isn’t!” And there’s no way I want to spend any time in the company of that insipid, irritating wife of yours either, she thought.
Niels shrugged. “Fine. You can stay and look after Bjørn, then. He doesn’t want to come either.”
Ingrid snorted in disgust once Niels had closed the door, and muttered, “Fine, as long as that brat doesn’t bother me.”
She sat reading in peaceful tranquillity for five minutes until there a high pitched, whiny voice interrupted, “Auntie Ingrid! Auntie Ingriiiid!”
Ingrid threw down the book and opened the door, where Bjørn was standing looking up at her with solemn eyes. He was a boy of seven, with bright blonde hair and startling blue eyes. Or, Ingrid thought, they would be startling, if he wasn’t such a dull, dense child. She scowled at him and said,
“Go away you annoying brat, and don‘t call me that!” slamming the door. For a couple of seconds there was silence once again.
“Auntie Ingrid, daddy said you were to look after me while he and mummy were gone!”
Ingrid slumped, and opened the door again. “Fine, but be quiet and don’t move.”
“But I want to explore!”
“No, I don’t-” A thoughtful smile came to Ingrid’s face. “You know, that’s not such a bad idea.” She patted him on the head, remembering how when she was young there were a couple of rooms that were always locked by her father. In those days she was passionately inquisitive, and imagined all sorts of wild and wonderful things lay in those rooms, and despite constant pleading her father had never caved and let her see them. Eventually she had lost interest, and had forgotten about them. But now, with the house to herself, she at last had a chance to sate that desire of so many years. There was still the question of finding the keys, but…
“Come on then,” she said, “let’s see what we can find.”