The door swung open, hinges creaking to a halt as the wood slammed into the stone wall. Polished boots thudded over the floorboards, carrying the man into his study. He threw an arm to the side, releasing the leather-bound books that were wrapped in his hold, leaving them to scatter across the cluttered floor. He mumbled to himself, a hand lifted to the silver cross that hung from his neck.
Canst thou not be saved…
What avails it then to think on God or heaven?
Despair in God! Trust in Belzebub!
The thoughts swirled throughout his own, an endless torrent of self-doubt, lashing at the recesses of his mind…But there was one voice that stood out among the rest… It called out to him, louder than the rest of his thinking.
“Abjure this magic… Turn to God again.
His skin crawled, goosebumps rising to the surface of his flesh as that familiar voice spoke down to him from above, a Father calling down to his Son. But this voice was struck down with that of the man’s own, muffling out the dull whispers that commanded him to turn back. Alas, it was too late. Still the blood dripped from his fingers, no matter how hard he had washed them free of the staining crimson. There was no turning back. He screamed to the heavens, yelling out against his Lord and Father.
“Turn to God? He loves thee not! The God thou serv’st is thine own appetite, wherein is fixed the love of Belzebub!”
As he spoke, the skies outside grew grey and clouded, gentle thunder rumbled in the distance, its ominous presence threatening this man as he continued to cry out.
“To him I will build an altar and church! To him I will offer the lukewarm blood of newborn babes!”
The thunder’s soft growl quickly grew to a roaring clap, but yet here was no lightning to usher it forth. The door to his study rattled in its place as he spoke, slamming shut as the blasphemy spilled from the lips of the man. He was trapped within, yet held no fear. For years he had dedicated himself to God. For years he had worshiped and swore fealty to a God who was both deaf and blind. And when he had styled himself a Doctor of Medicine over a Doctor of Theology, he was met with criticism. He heard the whispers as he passed his neighbors walking through the streets. The whispers and rumors that he, a scholarly man, had turned from God to study not the Holy Law, but the Natural Law. He was sick. He was tired. Sick and tired of the endless tests, of the taunting disrespect spat at him from beneath veiled murmurs and mumbling silence, sick of the abject poverty, tired of the unwavering sickness that came with age.
There were two voices speaking to him, two angels upon his shoulders. One urged him forth, breathing sweet whispers into his ear, whispers of heaven and heavenly things, of contrition, prayer and repentance. The other lured him forth with tempting promise, speaking of contrition and repentance as mere illusions, of prayer as fruits of lunacy, dragging men further into foolishness the more they make use of it, seducing him with honor and wealth.
“Wealth! Why, the lordship of Emden shall be mine!
The man’s hands fell from the cross around his neck, instead turning to the herbs and ingredients upon his table, palms hovering over the ancient words that decorated pages of books laid strewn out over his desks. His fingers traced over symbols, coming to a halt as his other hand went to grinding the herbs and grinding in the sickly ingredients necessary.
“When Mephistophilis shall stand by me, what power can hurt me? Thou art safe, cast no more doubts. Mephistophilis come, and bring glad tidings from great Lucifer.
Finally, he fell silent in his rantings. He dipped his hands within the jar of oils that lay at his feet, lathering them over the veins and wrinkles that laced over his flesh. Soon this would be no more. He reached out to his candle and, capturing the flame within his grasp, thrust it down into the plate that held his concocted potion, parting lips to allow the gentlest utterance of his words pass through the air, and into the flames that quickly roared to life.
“Veni, veni, Mephostophile!”
And then no longer was the man alone, his words calling forth to summon the spirit that now accompanied the scholar within his study. This devil stood before him, a shade that snuffed out the nearest light. Mephistophilis leaned forward, whispering his sweet and luring temptations to the scholar, as he always did.
“Thy Lord Lucifer saith that I shall wait on thee whilst he lives, so that he will buy thine magics and mine services with his soul.”
“But already I have hazarded that for thee!”
The devil moved closer to the man, and already he could feel the darkness that lingered within the spirit. Already he could feel the power that surged through his devilish form. A wave of the shade’s hand, and in his grasp he held a scroll, its paper bearing the unsettling resemblance to the flesh of man. Mephistophilis closed the distance between scholar and devil, his words fresh upon the man’s ears.
“But now thou must bequeath it solemnly and write a deed of gift with thine own blood, for that security craves Lucifer… If thou deny it, I must back to hell.”
It was the scholar that drew his dagger, lifting curled and twisted blade to the pulse of his vein, gliding the knife along his flesh to release the crimson that lifted from the wound. The devil Mephistophilis unrolled the scroll, laying out out across the desk so the man may sign the deed, just in time for the first drop of succulent blood fell upon the page. One drop after the next, the vital fluid cascaded over the scroll, pooling together into a puddle of crimson. But now it was the scholar that parted his lips to speak, and as the words passed his lips, the blood upon the page moved, trailing out in tendrils of crimson that detailed themselves into writing on the scroll, ruby snaked sliding over page and curling into the very words he dared to give utterance.
“Lo, Lucifer: for love of thee he hath cut his arm, and with his proper blood assures his soul to be great Lucifer’s, Chief Lord and Regent of perpetual night. View here this blood that trickles from mine arm, and let it be propitious for my wish.”
Again the thunder cracked and roared, a final warning from the Father above that watched as his Son below turned his back to Him, and to his teachings. Even so, the scholar felt no remorse, felt no regret as he continued on, those words of blood still forming together as he spoke the contract.
“Receive this scroll, a deed of gift of body and of soul: But yet conditionally that thou perform all covenants and articles between us both. On these conditions following…”
As those words fell from his lips, twisting the blood to mirror his wishes upon the scroll, it was now the devil that took notice of his words. Mephistophilis said nothing, listening as the scholar listed his price for the gift of his soul, completely unaware of his own fate.
“First, that I may be a spirit and devil in form and substance…”
As he spoke, the earth began to shake. The thunder, however was silent, as the power that had been provoked was that of the Hells, not power of the Heavens. Upon his utterance of the first condition, the very darkness within the study seemed to crawl to him, shadows gliding through the air to coil around the scholar’s form, granting his very wishes as he spoke them. The wrinkles faded from his skin, the hint of color returning to his old and pallid flesh. The stark white hair that crowned his head grew darker and darker as the shadows seemed to bring the years back to the man. Hunched over, he soon stood straight and tall, looking down over Mephistophilis. The darkness brought him his youth, but it did not leave. The shadows thickened, weaving together, branding itself into the flesh of the man. Clear, flawless skin became decorated with inky darkness, forming into symbols and designs, faces, incantations and so much more laid out eternally over his flesh, head to toe.As his youth was restored, so was his strength and power, encouraging him further with his contract.
“Secondly, that Mephistophilis shall be my servant, and be by me commanded.”
The scholar closed his fist, and as the devil before him realized what was happening, the spirit could do nothing as the wish was quickly granted. The devil remained still as a statue, forced into silence, held there as firmly and strong as the scholar’s grip.
“Thirdly, that Mephistophilis shall do for me and bring me whatsoever.”
Chains lashed out from the darkness as the man spoke, shaded links of abysmal iron whipping out to lock around the devil’s wrists and ankles.
“Fourthly, that he shall be in his chamber or house invisible. And Lastly, that he shall appear to me, at all times, in what shape and form soever he please.”
The scholar gave a simple flick of the wrist as he spoke these words, each syllable carrying with it the magic of the contract and deed, to which the blood still curled to form to his bidding. As he spoke his final condition, it was that gesture towards the devil that rendered him a spirit no more, shrinking and writhing as its form shifted, shaping into that of a serpent, scales as white as the purity that the scholar had sworn off.
“I, Scholar of Wittenburg, Doctor, by these presents, do give both body and soil to Lucifer, Prince of the East, and his minister Mephistophilis, and furthermore grant unto the Dark Lord full power to fetch or carry mine body and soul, flesh, blood, into their habitation wheresoever.”
The trickling blood slowed, the crimson upon his wound drying to congeal and cease the bleeding. The old scholar that had stood there moments before was now anything but: a young man, lean with muscle and covered in inked designs and chiseled features replaced the old, hunched and shriveled form of the senior doctor. Dull robes and rags fell from his form to land as sheets of gold and mounds of jewelry at his feet. The spirit that had come at his call was now a snake, coiling within the grasp of the man, the devil now made into his slave. The corners of his lips curled up ever so gently, the magic coursing through him as his words molded the very last of the contract, signing the deed.
“By me… Faustus.”