I could barely read the manuscript through the age-stain and mildew and char. It was a manuscript in the most literal sense of the word: merely a collection of papers and scraps of papers, wrapped in brown parceling, bound with butcher’s twine and sealed in red wax with the image of a scaffold and noose. Lord knows I should have left it alone but I, fool that I am, broke the seal and began to read.
It was written with a dip pen, in a large, round masculine hand, blurred in places by what may have been tears. Or perhaps it was written in the rain; I don’t know, but in those places the firm writing becomes more angular and uncertain, as though his hand trembled. I’ve lain awake many a night since I found the thing, wondering if perhaps it could be a work of fiction, and I find I cannot take these words at anything less than face value. I read it again and again, and each time my doubt in its reality faded: there is a credibility in these words of a man long dead, and a note of humanity in his story that cannot be duplicated by the author of fiction. At times, I can even hear his voice, low and calmly sorrowful and a bit mad. Mad, yes, but I believe him.
The Truth of the Matter
10 January, 1883
Sebring Hadley Campbell
I stood atop the roof and watched the foul yellow fog rise stealthily from off the Thames to go creeping outward like a fungus, devouring the City with its pale tendrils – the Leviathan rising from the deep, a ghostly, half-living creature begotten of every rotting corpse and bereaved soul that has come to rest in the sediment of the River over the centuries. I could almost imagine I saw those spirits, moving among the mists, trekking landward with dumb vengeance in their tattered minds and dark mirth upon their sealed lips.
There was a lantern out upon the water, a fisherman in his skiff returning too late from his daily work. Look out, friend. Be on your guard, lest these silent sentinels catch you upon your way. To my mind, it seemed that perhaps the light was in fact a will-o’-the-wisp, one of those deceivers of the moors and forests. Be gone, Satan! You have no hold over me, and I will not follow your messenger.
A chill wind moved my coat about me and fluttered my lapels, bringing with it the stench of salt and pitch and decay from the wharf. Anyone who cared to look would be able to see me up here. The complete exposure made me terribly edgy, or at least far edgier than I would have been safely on the ground. Look out, Sebring. Be careful; they might have air rifles.
Three flashes from across the water: it was time. The trap was sprung, the bait taken, and the police would need our assistance in subduing the prey. And Katherine… Well, that would wait until business was seen to. The clock over the House of Commons struck two as I came down the fire escape and was immediately engulfed in the clammy, roiling depths of the fog. I unshuttered my own lantern and shone its red, diluted light down the alley, making it look as though the clouds surrounding me were made of blood. Again, I saw the faces in the mist, leering grotesquely as they pushed forward to drain the life from my body. Then the breeze shifted, and they were gone, though I fancied I could still feel the phantom eyes upon my back, and it made me shiver.
“Sebring!” I jumped at the voice from the shadows, not recognising the form that coalesced before me, seemingly birthed from the fog.“Sebring!” it repeated, growing stronger.
“Clarence!” I exclaimed in immeasurable relief. “Did all go well? Did you find her?”
He took me by both shoulders with the gravity used to tell a man that he is dying, pushed me down onto a pile of wharf ropes, and sat down beside me. The damp soaked through my overcoat and trousers, raising gooseflesh over my entire body, though the cold was nothing compared to the expression on what I could see of his face. “We found her,” said he, with a weary sigh. “They ruined her, Sebring. They ruined her with morphia. All we could do was to put her out of her misery.”
I suppose I had expected that. I had known, deep in my heart of hearts, that never again would I see Katherine on this side of the veil, but God! My hopes had been so high! Forever now were her green eyes closed, forever her flame extinguished. I did not cry then, though I have cried oft and bitterly since, both for the loss of my beloved and for the spark which has ignited in me all that is abhorrent and inhuman and cruel. I did not cry then, though perhaps if I had, so much may have been averted, so many matches quenched by tears before they could touch the powder.
“Rothers?” I asked.
“Gone when we arrived. They were expecting us.”
I left then, returning to my apartment in Whitechapel and the quiet solitude it afforded. What else could I do? My life, my hopes were shattered, my fiancée dead, my pride crushed; never had the world weighed so heavily upon my shoulders. Of course there was still the business, the prestige, the higher call to battle and triumph over the criminal forces that skulked in both the dark alleyways and shining halls of the civilised world. There was the money, and moral satisfaction. But what was that to me, without Katherine? What was that to me, now that my confidence in my abilities had been utterly dissolved? For that was truly the last nail driven into my coffin – I had failed her. With all my wits and planning and all of my hired muscle and carefully choreographed operations, I had gotten there too late, perhaps even weeks too late, to judge from Clarence’s assertion that they’d used morphine. If I had only been more diligent in my search, if I’d paid more attention to each detail, if I’d killed Rothers when I’d had the chance, if I’d rushed in with blazing guns rather than plot and scheme for that infernal sting… A million accusations and recriminations flew through my brain, an unceasing flood that threatened to drown me in my own guilt.
The funeral was three days later, its mortuary bleakness compounded by the drab mediocrity that always follows a case. I barely had the energy to rouse myself from the settee, much less bring myself to summon a hansom and stand in the back of St Raphael’s, singing subdued responses to the priest. For Christ’s sake, Sebring! Put some heart into it! This is for Katherine, whether she may hear or not. She’s in a better place now, isn’t she? Isn’t she?
It was neither the first nor the last time I’d doubted in the existence or benevolence of the Deity, but this instance awoke in me a morbid irony and prised loose a wild laugh that ripped from my throat and ricocheted around the church like a bullet. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in verdant pastures; he leadeth me beside still waters; he restoreth my soul. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death… What comes next?
What comes next? That which had begun as a hysterical tremor of the mind progressed rapidly into a sympathetic illness of the body. I’ve been told that I was carried from Raphael’s and back home, though I recall none of that. It seemed mere hours that I lay bedridden in Whitechapel, with the tears and sweat of fever mingling on my cheeks, but April had become July by the time I rose at last, pale and weak and a good stone lighter than I’d been before.
Clarence would come in the early morning and leave shortly after supper, explaining his constant presence with the assertion that he had missed my company during my illness, but I would catch his calculating, worried glances at times, and I knew that he feared I would attempt suicide. He was continually looking up from his book or our game of chess and asking me vague, abstract questions, no doubt under the misimpression that I could not identify his interest as psychiatric.
In all honesty, I’d contemplated suicide only once, and then briefly. When I took into consideration everything I’d done in my life, I was left beyond a shadow of a doubt with the conclusion that I was hell-bound, so death would be no improvement on current situations. Which is worse: hell on earth or hell in the next life? It might have been a blessing had I been an atheist who could believe that there is no soul, and that consciousness ceases when one has passed beyond the veil.
Will he not stop looking at me! It is deucedly difficult to concentrate on the board when you stare so, Clarence. Keep your mind and eyes on the game, or I’ll crush you once again. Your queen and both of your knights are currently in dire jeopardy. Really, though, chess began to become infernally dull after a few weeks of my convalescence, and my mind turned more and more toward Katherine. If events had progressed differently, I may have reached acceptance and begun to move on, as Clarence was always recommending I do, but, granted an excess of time for introspection, I took to dwelling on the past in a most unhealthy manner. Forced relaxation grated upon my nerves and sapped my strength in a way activity and exertion never could: I became a mere wraith, an indifferent and lethargic shade confined to my armchair by medical quackery. Poor Clarence. I’m afraid I was often rather short with him when he attempted to rouse me from my bloodless languor. But he knew me well and was sufficiently familiar with my disposition to diagnose the problem, and he hauled me bodily from the chair with all promptness in order to drag me over half of London and a good deal of the surrounding country, quite contrary to the wishes of my outraged physician. I swear the abominable man turned violet and positively collapsed in apoplexy when he heard. There was an amusing bit of business in Kensington that helped to break me from the clutches of ennui, and I began to regain some colour.
Still, the wound festered. When one lives for a long time in the shadow of some infirmity, one becomes inured to the discomfort. I learnt to ignore it, and so remained dangerously unaware when it became gangrenous.
Even now, with the benefit of hindsight, I do not know whether it was all real or illusion. They’ve told me that I was mad, crazed, and responsible for each misfortune by which I was plagued, but I remember it differently. I know what I saw and heard; I know that I could not myself have made such marks upon those bodies or upon my own breast; I know that, broken though my mind may be, nothing under heaven could have compelled me to commit such crimes as those of which I have been accused. Of course I cannot dare to hope that the good jury will believe me: it is all far too fantastic a tale, and all evidence is against me.
Summer faded into autumn, and autumn plunged into overcast, dismal winter. London was cloaked in pristine snow that rapidly became filthy grey slush under the feet of the lamp-lighters and the wheels of hansoms. The chestnut-vendors appeared, swathed in heavy hound’s-tooth check from head to foot, their hands thrust into fingerless gloves, faces grimed with soot. Carollers began to make their merry rounds in the more affluent neighbourhoods and then worked their way into the lower parts of town as the season’s spirit brought forth the more charitable aspects of human nature. A-here we come a-wassailing among the leaves so green! It was the archetypal London holiday season, draped in holly and tinsel. Far too bright for brooding, I thought, so I buried my problems beneath routine and ritual and existed in a semblance of perfect normality. There was work to be done on the Continent, at Her Majesty’s request, which occupied me for a week or two before I was home in time for Christmas.
Clarence sent me a wire on the second of January, saying that he was in Glasgow with his people STOP, but would I be interested in meeting up for a bit of fun on the town when he returned late on the seventh QUERY. I wired back my reply that of course I would be happy to oblige, if he had any specific idea for pastime STOP. The usual STOP, came his response. That, for Clarence, would mean night prowling, donning and dropping disguises as necessary to remain undetected or unrecognised. But of course. I always enjoy such pseudo-purposeful clandestine entertainments. Shall we pose as cab drivers, perhaps? French priests? Ladies of the evening? Don’t you dare feign affront, Clarence; I still remember the Hargrove affair, and it still affords me enormous amusement, though for the sake of your reputation I have never shared the details with anyone.
Onward. Three days I spent moving between the clubs and case files, libraries and the abodes of unsavoury acquaintances, building my life back to what it had once been. It may actually have worked, too – I could feel myself sliding back into some sort of niche, though perhaps not the same one I had occupied before – if only the seventh had never arrived.
Clarence returned earlier than I had expected. The landlord, Barclay, let him up while I was out, so that he could wait in the parlour with tea and some of Mrs Barclay’s muffins. I thought nothing of it until I reached my door.
The door was slightly ajar. That in and of itself was not unusual, but that stench emanating from my rooms… What the devil can Clarence be up to? Has he got into my chemicals again? Blast him, I told him not to potter around with sulphur like that! Not without opening a window, man!
I pushed the door open and stopped, aghast. For several seconds, my brain could not begin to fathom the sight that met my eyes – of all the horrors I had seen before and have seen since, nothing has ever struck me so hard or so deep as this. Oh, Christus Iesus, Filius Dei! Where have you gone, Lord? My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
It was Rothers, the filthy blackguard, his head and shoulders aflame with a fiery corona, his skin a deep and unnatural burnt bronze, eyes burning with unholy light! If ever I had doubted in the existence of Satan, all my scepticism was then and there put to rest, for I truly believe with all my being that I gazed upon the Prince of Lies at that moment. No angel of hell could have wrought a greater terror within my breast – this man, this thing which had violated my rooms, was no sort of human at all, but had become a creature seemingly composed of condensed darkness. It is the only way I can describe it – that the monster was made, rather than of solid matter, of solidified absence of light.
And, moreover, it had Clarence by the throat, and was in the process of wringing the life from my friend and colleague. It loosed its talon-like brazen hands when I entered and turned its flaming eyes upon me, freezing me where I stood. Clarence fell to the floor with a nauseating soft thud, as of a fist striking putty. In the next instant, the creature was gone, my limbs loosened, but my horror was only magnified as I rushed to my friend’s side. He was dead, I could see immediately. No breath passed between his swollen black lips, no consciousness fluttered beneath the lids of his glazed, bloody eyes. A thin stream of blood from his nose stained his chin and dribbled down to fill the foul white hand-prints on his throat. A faint darkness clung about those points of contact, as though the Rothers monster had left some of its essence to befoul and contaminate Clarence’s sad empty shell.
Poor Clarence! My brother in all but blood, I had always felt him closer than kin, almost a piece of my very self, and he was gone. Oh, Christ, would not a swift, clean shot or stab have been enough? His bloated black face, stiffening rapidly in rigour mortis, was contorted in an expression of the most abject terror and agony that managed to wrench even my hard heart in pity.
“Rothers!” I exclaimed, feeling my chest tighten in rage. Was there no end, no limit to the man’s cruelty? Must the demon tear from me everything for which I felt care or tenderness? Barclay came rushing into the room at my cry, but made no move beyond the door, arrested by uncertain fear. I must have appeared truly ghastly in my anger, to stop so robust and unflappable a man in his tracks. I noticed his reaction only peripherally, though, and ran immediately out into the street, determined to find the Rothers monster and inflict terrible retribution. My mind was numb, responding to stimuli only in reflex, or I’d have undoubtedly waited for the police to arrive. That was the first blow against me, that I’d fled the scene as soon as Clarence was discovered. Surely only a guilty conscience could inspire such an action, they reasoned. That, and beyond the queer sulphurous smell, there was no evidence anyone had been in the apartment but Clarence and myself – those facts were quite enough to confirm the worst suspicions of the Yard, despite my spotless record, even without the accumulation of subsequent events. They’d attributed it to stress and grief – a mental collapse. There is a fine line between genius and insanity, they asserted, and Sebring Hadley Campbell has been tipped over the top of it. Poor man; he had such promise, too.
Oh, for the love of God!
I’d find that creature and bring it down! It had struck twice, heaven knew how many times before the first time or in the time between Katherine and Clarence, and by God, I wasn’t about to let it happen again. The stench was easy to follow, and follow it I did, through Commercial Row, by Charing Cross Station, back again through Hyde Park , twice over the Thames, but it would never stop. It left no track or spoor, even where the ground was muddy, so that all I could go on was the smell. I began to wonder if it were not my own imagination I pursued when of a sudden I quite literally stumbled over the steaming corpse of an elderly woman in shredded finery. She’d been ripped open from the sternum downward, and the brown snow in which she lay was slowly turning deep crimson. But the edges of the brutal cut were obscured in black fog, identical to the traces left upon Clarence’s throat, proving to me that I was indeed hot on the trail.
I could barely spare a glance for this fresh atrocity, however, for the night was approaching and the Thames was exuding its rank breath, giving life to the phantasmal misty shapes. Those faces returned, goading me on with their mocking laughter. I could hear it, too, though that may have been – probably was – my imagination; it spurred me onward nonetheless. They crowded in around me, miring me in white and filthy grey, confounding my search by stealing my vision.
And then there was a new voice amid the muffled twilight city sounds. It was quiet and familiar, but as cold as ice and as hard as steel; it raised the hair on the back of my neck and pierced my heart like a poisoned knife. I knew that voice.
“Flee, Sebring. You could not save us, but perhaps you can save yourself.”
I turned slowly, my throat tight shut in horror, unable to speak or run. It was well that I did not faint, though the ground rocked beneath me and the blackness threatened to fall like a curtain over my eyes. Oh, Christ, oh Jesus! I have prayed often since then that this memory be wiped from my brain, for even the recollection leaves me nearly hysterical, and the telling of it is far worse. She stood there, my Katherine, rotting from within, her green eyes shining like beacons from out her fleshless face. Seven months of decay had stripped her of her beauty, had drawn her gums back from her teeth and swelled her black tongue so that it was a wonder I could recognise her voice. There was no wind, but her black hair was whipped back from her shoulders as though by a tempest gale, and the white funereal shroud streamed about her like a banner, revealing her arms… Hundreds – thousands! – of needle pricks, tiny red dots rimmed with that netherworldly darkness which signified Rothers’ touch perforated her rotting arms.
I could not but stand mesmerised for several minutes, until the living corpse took a step toward me, reaching out her cadaverous hand, and revulsion forced me back. “Please, my love,” she begged, “Go! The demon must be stopped, but not by you!” I recoiled from her dead touch on my face, unable to see then what I remember clearly now: that there was my own Katherine behind the grotesque mortuary façade, that it was real concern had called her from beyond the veil to prevent my bungling of a war that was never meant for me. I saw only a devil, another machination of Evil that drove me still onward with sick repugnance, and I paid no heed to the desperate calls that quickly faded behind me.
If only I could have known then that it was Hell toward which I rushed headlong through the fog, blindly offering up my very soul toward what I thought was God, but was in fact the avatar of chaos. If only. Katherine’s mouldering face hovered before my eyes, joined shortly by Clarence. Both pleaded and begged in death that I should stop and go back, calling on the name of God, on all the saints and angels, on my love for each of them, but it availed them nothing, for I was so utterly convinced that these apparitions must be a ploy of the Devil that I ignored them completely. What folly.
Libera nos a malo. Libera nos a malo!
I did not know then what force propelled me forward like an arrow to leave me quivering, embedded hopelessly in my target. I know now it could have been naught but Satan. How did you fall from grace, Lucifer, Light-Bearer? What could have seemed so important that it was worth the forfeiture of everything that might have made the world good? It was perfect in His sight, so why did you descend to these black depths? What dreadful compulsion swept through your twisted mind?
I think perhaps in some way I can sympathise with those dark angels –- once on my path, I became caught in a rut from which there could be no escape. I was a mast without a sail, a cart with no track, flying ever onward toward a vast, shadowy unknown. There could be no going back.
Ever onward I ran and ran, legs pumping like pistons. There was the young man, decapitated, lying prone in a pool of blood and liquid darkness, the woman and her infant, bruised and strangled like Clarence, the old drunk with the twelve parallel gashes across his face, already haemorrhaged beyond recognition as a face. To none of these did I pay the slightest mind – it was Rothers’ trail, which I was doomed to follow to the end, so that I could have my revenge. That was what it really was, revenge, though I had truly convinced myself that it was something grander, like justice. It was retribution for those lives already lost, rather than a desire to preserve what lives might then be threatened.
It must have been Satan, drawing back the great bow-string and letting me fly like that. What else could have given me such wings, so that in my haste I nearly passed by the Rothers monster which had so eluded me before? It rounded on me, snarled and shrieked with a noise I heard only within the confines of my skull. The hideous scream sent me to my knees in terror and pain, and I realised suddenly that I had no means by which to repel the daemon. I was helpless.
Then I saw the boy. He could not have had more than ten years to his entire life, and that was being generous. His deep black hair had never been washed, his frame never nourished with more than scraps and refuse, his face far too gaunt for a child of his age. Still, he struggled in the vice-like arms of the creature, clinging to his wretched life with the tenacity of a bulldog, though his strength was fading rapidly. He turned slightly as he writhed, and his eyes locked with mine. Oh, Christ! Who could this child be but a living saint, the very soul of innocence and purity made flesh! Such eyes, so nearly crazed in fear, yet somehow tranquil and accepting at the same time. Here was a soul whose assurance of Heaven was secure.
“Not yet!” he cried with a voice like that of a grown man. “My work is not finished!” That was what he said, yet he said it with no words I could recognise, in no language I had ever heard. It was the tongue of the angels.
“Not yet, Sebring!” I startled to hear my name fly into the night from that child’s throat, yet I startled all the more to hear his scream of agony that followed. It was the most terrible rending sound, slicing straight to my core.
I cried out then, though I do not know whether I used words or not. It was more a simple expression than an articulation of my sympathetic pain and rage at the daemon’s repugnant hands defiling the Boy. In an instant, I was on my feet, oblivious to the Child’s cries that I stop, go back, leave him be, his work was not yet done. I launched myself at the monster, again becoming Satan’s arrow, shot true. My arms latched around its neck, and I could feel the unnatural searing heat that radiated from its centre. Rothers was no human anymore, if indeed he ever had been. His tremendous talons raked my chest, scoring twelve parallel gashes in my flesh (The old drunk! To think, so many cuts made by a single hand...) and drawing blood. My rage was all-consuming; I did not hear the Boy’s pleas, or the creature’s high, venomous laughter, or even the whistles of the police.
I did hear the tremendous rushing sound of the daemon’s dissolution as it left me alone in the dark street with the dying Boy and nearly twenty bobbies. The snow had begun to fall again, and there was a charity band to be heard on the next street, making the scene into a dismal, vile parody of festive spirit. The Child looked at me with dimming eyes and shook his head, destroying me. “You don’t know,” he whispered, a bubble of blood bursting on his lips. “You don’t know what you’ve done.” Then he was dead, the police had me in derby irons, a nightstick descended upon my head, and all was dark until I woke here.
Hansen sent to me a psychiatric doctor, who proclaimed me mad despite my evidence that all witness I had given was true. Of course I thought my evidence irrefutable, but it would seem that human obstinacy and refusal to creed anything incredible must win even over rock-solid proof. Tomorrow I shall be put on trial, and the bar will give me over to the noose. The future is not set in stone, but I cannot foresee any other outcome but my death, for they see in me a murderer.
I have been given the opportunity to write this, though it will in all likelihood be destroyed as soon as I have been led from the cell. There is Rothers at the window now, glaring at me through the bars. ‘You’ve done my work for me,’ he says in that voice which can only be heard in the mind. I know I have, but I will not give him the satisfaction of knowing that I fully understand what I have done. The Child is dead, and I do not know even now what his mission was, but he was the embodiment of Goodness. Rothers lives still, if there is truly life in that burnished phantasmal body, and he is the embodiment of Darkness. There is no doubt in my mind who I would rather had won, and I can only imagine what catastrophe will come about from my ill-timed intervention.
There is a step upon the stair. Rothers has fled, lest they see him and know that I spoke true, and I can feel death like lead in my breast. I do not claim to be capable of prognostication, but I know beyond all uncertainty that I will die now. Is my soul bound for Heaven or Hell, I wonder?
Here is Hansen, his keys in his hand, swinging the irons at me as though he means to knock out my brains. I must go.
Beneath this was written, with the same pen, in a different hand:
15 Jan 3 past noon. I know someone will come reading this sometime or another, because I’m not going to let them throw it away, because I know old Campbell was telling the truth and all the truth. I have known him for nigh eleven years, come May, and I know he’s the most stable and upright fellow this side of Yorkshire. And besides that, I saw his creature, this Ruthers or whatnot, and it scared the bejesus out of me. Wish I could have seen it before he swung, but what’s done is done. At least his name’ll be cleared.
And besides that, something funny happened, and I think it should be wrote down here, make of it what you like. I saw Campbell last night, walking across Westminster Bridge, hand in hand with a little black-headed kid. I think it was the kid he talked about, walking along with him and his lady, his Katherine, and what looked like Clarence Kingsley. I’m no good at describing such like Campbell was, but I’ll do my best here, for the sake of his memory, and so whoever is reading can picture it all.
They were walking side by side, and it looked like they were talking back and forth to each other, though I couldn’t hear any sound from them. Katherine, lovely lady, was dressed up as though for a wedding, and Campbell had on his tails and spats; I remember I could see his spats and his cummerbund and his silk hat, and Kingsley was done up similar, but without the hat. Queer thing, they were all four sort of glowing like the phosphorus weeds you get at the docks, kind of pale and a bit golden. Then, while I was watching, they all four started going up, past Big Ben, up into the sky, glowing all brighter and brighter so I had to shade my eyes with my hand. When I looked back, they were all gone, only a little bit of light up away beyond the clock.
So that’s about it, I think. Good man, was Sebring Campbell, wherever he may be now. Like I said, queer thing. No one will believe this, I know, but you can take it for a story, if you like, just so long as you make sure and remember it, because it’s for certain something that should never be forgot.
PD Kyle G. Hansen, Scotland Yard
Somehow, I cannot disbelieve this story of obviously fictitious proportions. Perhaps it is because it does not have the tone of fiction, or perhaps because, for a work of fiction, the two different hands and two different styles of writing are unlikely. But mostly it is because I have seen the Rothers creature myself, exactly as described by this dead man, and I have seen the Child, and I believe, though I am not sure, that I have seen Sebring and Katherine and Clarence.
It was nearly eight years ago now, but I remember as though it were happening now: The creature and the Child locked in one another’s embrace, struggling on the banks of the Thames. It was very late, nearly midnight, and the moon was new, but still I could see the scene as clearly as though it were midday. The Child cried out with an angel’s voice, there was a tremendous flash of light – behind my eyes rather than in front of them – and I could hear the Child in my mind, just as Sebring described. ‘I LOVE!’ he exclaimed, and it wasn’t just his voice, but thousands, millions, billions of voices, crying out I LOVE in every language on earth and many more besides. I felt my own voice join in the shout, strengthening the flash of light within my soul until I was nearly blinded from the inside out. Then the creature was gone, and I saw four luminous figures walking away and up, growing brighter as they went, and they were followed by a great cloud of phosphorescent mist from the River, composed of hundreds of human forms, finally freed.
You may, of course, make your own decision concerning all of these events, but I, for one, believe.