It is 1927, and August Darcy, a young journalist, is seized with a strange obsession to recover the very essence of England – her traditions, customs, and legends. Sketches of English life, in his unique style, are interspersed with private letters and diary extracts to offer an extraordinary insight into the victim of England’s most notorious occult crime.
In the early 1930s, England experiences the first portents of a magical war. Darcy’s mythic sites are the hidden battle fields; and that forbidden knowledge, the esoteric ordnance of the forthcoming conflict.
The Book of the New Jerusalem, by the author of The Book of the Smoke, is the Occult Investigator’s Guide to England, replete with mythic sites, occult rumours, and clues which will guide you on your quest for forbidden knowledge. Here is one such rumour:
County Cheshire: Bickerton
In 1798 two men were traversing Bickerton Hill just as the moon was rising in the night sky. Silhouetted against the moon’s disc was an enormous beast unlike any creature they had ever seen. The creature threw back its head and emitted a howl which chilled the blood and echoed for miles around. Terrified, the chaps took themselves off to the nearest inn (which I personally find a useful strategy when faced with similar circumstances) and pounded on the door to be let in. They sensibly remained there until dawn.
The following morning a group of farmhands brought news to the inn that one of their number, out early in the woods about five miles hence, had discovered the ragged corpses of two itinerant labourers. Both had been eviscerated by something with knives for claws. The remains of one were found on the banks of a stream, indicating he had been trying to flee across the water. His head was missing and was not discovered subsequently. The other had kept the back of his head, but his face was gone and so were his ears. His skull was cracked like a walnut at Christmas.
An anonymous missive to the local Methodist minister said that a werewolf had been active in the area for the past century and was in some way connected with the execution by burning at the stake of a warlock in Bickerton many years earlier. The letter begs the question of why no sightings had been reported before. Additionally, witches and warlocks were not burned in England as the penalty for witchcraft was hanging, although the resultant corpses were sometimes disposed of by incineration The creature’s transformation was, the correspondent claimed, triggered by lunar eclipses but it is obvious from the travellers’ account that the moon was full on the night they saw it. The letter further suggested painting crosses on houses to keep the wolf from the door, as it were.
Attacks by the giant wolf, or whatever the beast was, declined as time went on and there have been no reports in recent years.