Faust #2

THE HISTORIA OF FAUSTUS

II. How Doktor Faust Entered into the Realm of Sorcery

Thus was Doktor Faust even as a student of such a character that he loved what should not be loved and devoted his spirit day and night to the things to which no spirit should be dedicated. He strived with the arrogance of fallen angels to seek out the very foundations of heaven and earth that have been shrouded in mystery by God's grace from the very beginnings of time. For if we knew the secrets of creation we would equally know the secrets of God himself, and to seek to know the secrets of the Divine Father is to strive to set oneself on the same station as the divine God. Therefore beware, O Man, of him who speaks of the nobility of the search for knowledge, for in his heart he is driven by an intoxication brought on his soul by haughtiness, pride, hubris, insolence and folly. For it is folly not to know one's place in creation but instead to seek to elevate oneself even equal to the Divine. Such was the fire that fueled Faust's heart and so excited him that upon seeing that the mysteries of creation are closed to mortals he determined to overcome the barriers of the heavens by applying magical vocabula, figuræ, characteres and coniurationes in the hope of compelling the Devil himself to appear before him.

To this purpose Faust journeyed to the great, dense Spesser Forest near Wittemberg and at a crossroad in these woods in the first of evening he described in the dirt a complex of circles with his staff, one within the other and overlapping at certain points, so that two small circles stood apart from a larger circle but intersected it, and at the edges he inscribed certain symbols in Chaldean, Persian and Greek. When he was finished he stood inside the larger circle and waited in the gathering darkness until between nine and ten o'clock, when the darkness had settled firmly among the trees. That was the time he conjured the Devil.

But the Devil did not come. Instead, such an unexplainable and terrifying tumult arose in the forest that the very foundations of the world seemed to shake. The wind howled about the trees with such force that they were bent to the ground. It seemed as if the forest was filled with devils that flew through the shadows. In flashes of fire and shadow, Faust glimpsed flaming coaches hurtling through the trees. Lightning bolts burst in upon him from the four corners of the forest with loud explosions, and made Faust shiver with fright and foreboding. Just as suddenly as it had begun, it was finished and gone, and in the midst of the forest there arose a light as clear as the morning, and sweet instruments played and ethereal voices sang a song he did not know. It seemed as though the heavens had descended on the forest to drive away the demons of hell. Through the trees he saw a great heavenly festival, with the lovely figures of young girls dancing blithely in the air and strong knights atop their chargers clashing overhead in joust and turning on each other in a melee of swordplay and a great thrusting of spears in a divine spectacle. It occurred to Faust now that these appearances may have been sent by the Devil or they may have been sent by God and that as frightening as the Devil may be, to be punished by God would be even more terrible, and at last he considered fleeing his circle. But before he stepped out of it, he instead pulled his professor's robes tightly about himself and straightened his shoulders and lifted his chin in haughty defiance so that he might regain his reckless determination and persist in his intention, come whatever God or the Devil might send.

Once more he repeated his conjurings, and now the dancing girls and jousting knights disappeared and the light faded into an eerie twilight filtered through tree and leaf. He heard a mighty thrashing of leathery wings and there appeared above him a griffon and above that a dragon and further up in the air yet other wondrous and horrible beasts that he could not identify, and in the night sky unseen there were more, hovering and flattering above the circle. But Doktor Faust applied a spell he had learned in a book from Arabia and the beasts shrieked piteously and fled. When they had fled, a flaming star fell down from the heavens, a glowing ball of fire glowing and sputtering and falling right toward his head. This greatly alarmed Faust, but he knew now for certain that the Devil had taken notice of him, and that if he survived this night the Devil would surely become subservient to him. That gave him courage, and so he threw one, two, three spells at the falling star as it hurtled toward him, until it stopped and hovered in the air above his head so that its heat singed Faust's hair and eyebrows and made him fairly wilt with its power. As it quivered and jumped and rolled and exploded above him, it sent gushings of fire that jettisoned into the air in every direction and took on the forms of a man until they landed on the grass and dirt and vanished. After this had happened six times, a seventh column of flame shot out of the ball of flame and this too took on the form of a man, with calves like pillars and shoulders like flaming boulders and a burning black hole where his gaping mouth should be. This one did not disappear, but instead burned brightly as it walked up the path toward Faust and then walked around his circle, watching Faust with fiery eyes. But Faust held it's gaze and did not flinch not look away nor shy away from the heat, and when the fiery man stood directly across from Faust, he said unto the apparition: "It is twelve o'clock midnight, send me your master whom I have conjured, servant of hell!"

Suddenly the fiery man was gone, and with him the ball of flame, and the strange lights and everything else that had appeared that night, and the forest was calm and dark once more. Then Faust heard a faint noise, a mere shuffling on the path outside the circle, and he squinted into the darkness until there appeared, approaching him along the way, the figure of a wizened, stooped friar with a gray beard and a staff crowned by a crucifix. The figure stopped outside the circle and gazed Faust in the eyes, until finally he asked Faust, "What is your desire and intent?"

Only then did Faust see that the cross was affixed upside down to the staff. "I wish that you should appear at my lodging in the morning at nine o'clock by the ringing of the church bells to do my bidding."

"I do not do the bidding of fools and sinners; they do my bidding," spoke the gray friar.

"You cannot refuse," spoke Faust, "for I have power over you by the strength of my spells which are descended through time by compact with your very master, for you believe you stand above men but in truth you are doomed to forever stand below our feet and will never be our masters, but only our slaves, thus it is commanded and the will of God."

At this, the gray friar's eyes turned suddenly dark, as if he had none, but instead blank, black holes, and his lips curled in a hateful sneer, and he said, "I will appear, but be not too sure, O Man, that you will enjoy the fruits of your arrogance for long, for your understanding of this world will never be enough to save your soul from the likes of me."

Then the friar was gone, and the forest was quiet once more.

To be continued…

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