The Four Failures of Jack Slager
A Tell-All Account of the Gorecaster Crisis
WARNING: By declaration of the Magimundi Bureau of Conduct and Consequences reproduction and distribution of this manuscript is forbidden under the edict of atrocious property and punishable by up to 284 years in Avernus Prison. Reading of this manuscript is forbidden and punishable by defenestration
NOTE: All references in this document have been proven false by the Magimundi Department of Secrecy and Clandestine Affairs on account of
1: Author is mundane yet demonstrates knowledge of magical society – deemed an impossibility
My tombstone will probably read that I stood as legal defense for the most evil dark wizard in modern history. If only that were true. We each take winding paths to our destinations, and only in hindsight will we know if the journey proved right or wrong. I offered to defend Jack Slager for the “Trial of the Century” and Jack shared with me as much as he could, or would. Note that I did not bother with any mind magics or truth enchantments, dear reader, for rarely do these charms bring forth the deep, honest truths within.
Jack Slager’s legacy shall be remembered through history as a dark wizard who murdered scores and terrorized the magimundi through his necromancy and enchantments. Less than a decade after his surrender and imprisonment, primascholae texts use sentences to describe Jack and his students as “infamous for their indiscriminate slaughter of magical creatures and humans, which they used as blood sacrifices in rituals to create powerful dark artifacts” or “Gorecasters (GOR-kas-terz) Any of the devotees of the dark Wizard Jack Slager, who carried out a campaign of terror against magical creatures and humans during the 1920s-1930s.”
I write this because Jack’s last words to me, before he silently stood trial, remain ringing in my memory. “Magic ability is a basic human right.” Now that I stare my mortality in the eyes, no differently than Jack did on that day, I feel safe to share the story. Maybe, next year or one hundred years from now, we will learn from the events that unfolded and not repeat our mistakes.
Prologue: The Untold History
The right path is clear only in hindsight
Jack Slager’s path should have been simple and privileged, for he was born as the second son of one of the wealthiest families of heritage. Unfortunately, the Slager family power is in part due to a well-earned reputation for displaying favoritism in the family inheritance. Jack’s elder brother, Bartholomew would inherit the lion’s share of the interest in the Wizard’s Bank, while Jack would be given a comfortable living in the accounting department. The Slager family arranged Jack’s marriage with the Oxendine line in Virginia Isle to secure business relations with the powerful province. His older brother was allowed to choose his own wife, from the thunderbird province.
Jack’s first rebellion was a small one, noble even. Instead of a comfortable life in obscurity, Jack decided to work with the Magimundi during the very trying times of this period. The mundane society grew, expanded, and often did so violently and without caution. The mundane world frequently came into violent contact with cryptids or create magical incidents that needed to be hidden. Often mundane born from the tribal people who were slaughtered by the mundane expansion would illegally come to the aid of their people. This period of conflict, by its nature, was kept hidden by the department of secrecy and clandestine affairs. Jack Slager’s meticulousness was a key piece of maintaining the veil amidst a surge of breaches. Few will know how close the wizards came to a major incident near the end of the 19th century.
It was this service, in all likelihood, that groomed Jack Slager with the knowledge he would eventually use to create his Slagerods. While most magical incursions can be solved with a little mind magic and well placed rumors, occasionally someone ends up dead. As a hematic expurgator, Jack cleaned up the violent carnage that would manifest when the mundane pushed too far into the magic world. While quite rare, when a wizard dies due to an incident that breaches secrecy, it’s simply a matter of telling the family and using that story as a warning to others. However, when one or more mundane lives are lost due to cryptid or wizard means, the scene needs to look like an accident. Jack’s skill in post-mortem human reconstruction apparently was second to none. Jack is fabled to have made a corpse half eaten by an aesigi look like a simple drowning, make an explosive wizards defense look more like friendly fire and maintain the myth of the Jersey Devil despite it’s rampage in 1909. Of course, Jack’s entire career remains protected by the wards of secrecy.
Jack Slager knew the anatomy of mundane and wizard better than most, probably as well as mundane physicians of the time. “Under the skin, we are mostly the same” was one of many common phrases Jack would say to defend the mundane against disparagement common in his department. The department would grow to ostracize Jack Slager as a lover of mundanes. His co-wizards only scratched the surface of that truth.
Chapter 1: First Failure: Success
Hard work pays off with hard truths
Jack’s first and greatest accomplishment will live on in his enchanted wands. What he called them originally is lost in the sands of time, replaced by the public description “Jack Slager’s Rods” which eventually shortened to become Slagerods. Historians will agree on this point, but what transpired before will be lost. It is this detail, what leads a man to go to such lengths, that I must share in hopes that magic society will progress past these failures.
Jack never shared a word about the creation of these rods, dear reader, so if you’re goal is to use this story to recreate artifacts I suggest you look elsewhere. I do believe, at his core, he knew how dangerous the knowledge he was uniquely qualified to discover. What I will share, is the catalyst as I’ve learned them that lead Jack to reach for desperate and dark measures.
Jack never talked much about his relationship with Evangeline, and their son Baxter. I wager it was one last effort to protect them from the fallout of his actions. The world, however, never knew of his other daughter, Samantha Slager. For good reason, early evidence suggested that she would not have magic ability. To give birth to a mundane child from an unsoiled family would scandalize Jack and his family. Jack loved his daughter, and he hoped beyond hope that she would develop magic with age. Jack also held true to the family crest “Account for All” and began to research methods to restore magic.
Jack was a proud parent, and in his mind doted on his children. From what I could research, Jack Slager loved his children in his early years. He made every effort to be home from his travels and paid special attention to his second child. We have only his words to support this claim, as his wife and son made themselves unavailable for interview before and after the trial.
We can, however, gather much from the way Jack responded to his family’s reaction when Samantha came of age but remained disabled in the eyes of the Magimundi. The Slager family paid for the standard effacing rituals and wards to “de-memorize” Samantha from the official records and blot her out from the minds of outsiders. She would be taken away, given a new name and family, and all evidence of a Samantha Slager erased. This must’ve been especially hard for Jack Slager, as his department would have been responsible to erase his own daughter from the magimundi and re-integrate her into the mundane world. Jack left the department of magical secrets and clandestine affairs at approximately this time, under uncertain circumstances. Officially, he retired to work at the family business, but divinations would prove he was rarely in the offices.
Leaving the magimundi to become mundane is in many ways more painful than the harrowing experiences families of mundane heritage must endure when a magical child is discovered. For that magical child, families are made to believe that the child has died in an accident and the child put onto foster care. This is considered more humane, as well as more expedient, than the ancient method of erasing the memories of the child’s family and acquantances. The original family got to cherish the memories, even at the cost of the occasional child returning to their family against the edict of secrecy. In addition, Mundane record keeping had advanced to the point that it became too burdensome to erase all traces. In the magimundi,, however, a child born mundane in an unsoiled family is more than merely a disability, it’s a stain on the family line. Some unsoiled will elect to erase the memory of the child from society, often only the direct family will remember that they have a child who is hidden and lost to them.
To the Slager family, bloodline and purity account for all. Jack’s family intended for a complete erasure of Samantha, from even the parents. Jack caught wind of this unusual request by noticing deviations in schedules for others in the department of secrecy that aligned with the marshals known for performing the mind magic, with the final meeting intersecting with his own schedule. Jack then had time to create the necessary defenses to preserve his own memories before the marshals arrived. Unfortunately, he was unable to intervene for his wife and son, who permanently lost all memory of the years spent with Samantha Slager.
The laws and statutes around the displaced are a bit more convoluted, and they are generally allowed to keep their memories so long as they maintain the secrecy. Simply put, to erase such a large portion of memory deprives the individual of their own will and personality, making it forbidden. My research indicates that these persons often wish they could forget and live their own life under this new enforced “normal” but current law forbids this.
Samanta’s next step is lost from the records. One might assume that she was placed into a mundane family to start a new life, and build relationships anew per the common solution for a born-mundane.. However, the history and lack of records suggests that she remained in the magimundi society, and progressed as she could despite the interruption and disruption of her life. Though she had no magical ability, she displayed talent in wand-less pursuits such as study of cryptids, healing and alchemy, at least enough to allow her to eventually attend Primaschola and later enroll in New World Magischola. She was given a new identity and seemed to excel in spite of her situation.
Jack, however, would fall into despair. He alone remembered Samantha, and this caused strife between him and his wife that boiled over to his son. A rift that he could not repair and was bound by law to keep hidden. For Jack, that meant the only way he could be whole again would be to “heal” his daughter’s disability. He felt he had no choice and began his journey to create his cure, for the sake of his daughter and his family.
How Jack went about his research is unknown, and likely will remain his own secret. Did he collect trophies from the various cryptids he encountered in his work? Did he learn some secret about magic, hidden by his department? Jack claims that he did not kill or main another sapient during this time. We do know that he visited the Slager crypts on numerous occasions, likely to gather necromantic reagents in the least suspicious manner.
Jack’s reclusive behavior during this time eventually pushed the limits of the Slager family generosity, for whatever that’s worth. There is circumstantial evidence that suggests Jack was able to acquire benefactors from within other unsoiled families during this time to continue his research and experiments, possibly even access to family crypts. Jack’s progress was sufficient to gather discrete interest, access and financial support.
It is important to understand that while necromancy was technically a forbidden art, the understanding at the time primarily aimed to avoid disturbing the dead, reanimation and unauthorized summoning of spirits. Ancestor artifacts were an accepted grey area at the time, though usually limited to amulets, old locks of hair and other relics for minor boons and tokens. Unsoiled lines used these tokens to subtly peacock how old their line was, based on how many “greats” could be appended to a relic.
In my professional legal opinion, had Jack been apprehended during this stage he would likely have escaped any severe consequences. This is based on prior cases in which minor relics were appended to wands and also that the ability to cast the forbidden soul searing curse was not yet a known capability of Slager’s wands. Sometime in the late 1910’s, Jack Slager completed his first functional Slagerod, without yet committing the dark acts that are tied to his name today.
(Of course, dear reader, today we have much more reverence for even our ancestral dead, and any artifact that uses relics of the dead is highly illegal.)
Jack Slager accomplished his goal of creating wands so powerful that he believed could restore magic to those born magic-less. He was ill prepared for the side-effects of success.
Chapter 2: Second Failure – Keeping Promises
The cure is worse than the disease
On his path to creating the most infamous artifact of our generation, Jack built relationships that he would regret while letting those he cared about fall into disrepair. Many families were now owed favors for their support, some who likely demanded results. Many of these families were facing the same tragic circumstances that Jack Slager felt, a son or daughter born without magical ability and cursed to live life either in shame or exile. Few were as extreme as the Slager family, and did not expunge their offspring from their own lineage. However, few also were kind to the child, born bereft of rights and between worlds. All the while Jack grew somewhat distant from his own family and was unable to maintain a relationship with his exiled daughter.
In addition, Jack knew that the next steps would cross a point of no return. Creating a powerful wand, even with darker origins, would likely be overlooked by the Magimundi at this time. However, to test the wand on mundanes is a clear breach of secrecy. Jack knew full well that he would violate multiple edicts as he progressed forward, and did so without hesitation. He created his first set of wands began the first trials.
He described the wand’s capability as “having a magical ability of its own, an artificial ability” that would either complement a wizard’s innate ability or be a prosthetic for a mundane. With the proper technique, one could bypass the wizard-wand relationship directly through a wand-wand synergy. I suspect that there is far more going on there than Jack is willing to disclose, but even so such a discovery would ripple throughout the wizarding world. He was careful never to claim that a true-mundane, one never born of a wizarding lineague, would be able to use his wands. However, the implication was clear when he would refer to them as “Rods.” After all, a rod is commonly understood at this time to mean a small artifact that can be used by anyone. Of course, the context would be simple devices often used to trade with other cryptids. A rod of light, fire or some other simple evocation put into solid form.
Jack wanted to give his first wand to Samantha, but would not dare to do so without being certain they worked as he intended. He instead either leveraged his relationships with his benefactors, or capitulated to their demands, but the result was the same. The first persons were men and women well past college age, some who were in administrative roles within the magimundi, others supporting family businesses in wand-less roles, still others who had joined the mundane world, and even few were destitute. Most were able to adapt in a diminished role in the magimundi, though few would get married or have their own children. All of them were disappointments to an unsoiled heritage, a scar on the family tree to be hidden or pruned.
He started with this handful of born-mundanes under his wing for a time to be the first tests of these wands, with surprising results. The initial training and experimentation took years. These individuals had little else to hope for, so they remained in secrecy while training. Eventually, each one would be able to cast simple spells through these wands. Jack would leave them to their own devices in hopes that they progressed further, observing all the while.
Jack’s main concern at this point getting to the perfection he needed to cure his daughter. To do that, he needed to refine his design, expanding his support so he could harvest additional materials and find more subjects that he could help. Jack would confide in me that each one of these poor individuals had suffered just like his daughter and he felt a certain empathy for them. The system discarded those born with this disability and left them to suffer. It was not hard to find other families who were discretely interested in his cure. Additionally, Jack also knew how to find many of those who were exiled to mundane life form his years in the department of secrecy and clandestine affairs.
Jack would secretly fulfill his promises to the many families in need. To all except one, his own daughter. They day finally came when he could present his cure to Samantha, his forgotten child. The emotional toll of that moment clearly impacted Jack Slager, for everything he had done, all the sacrifices he made and the lines he crossed, would be made right when his daughter could be accepted back into his family, a full mage on her way to being a wizard. Jack beemed, proud to have accomplished his task in what he considered so short a time. Soon he would be warmly embraced by the daughter he was forbidden to love. Samantha tearfully rushed her father that day, giving him a hug a decade in waiting.
“Samantha,” Jack said “every day since you were born I was waiting for this day. You never left my mind since the day they took you from me.
“I know Dad, I knew you’d come back for me.”
Jack told me that there was a beautiful silence in that moment, such that those few heartbeats of time made everything he did, before and after that moment, worth everything. Almost.
“I’ve brought you a gift, one I promised I’d give you since that day.”
Samantha continued “I knew you’d be the one strong enough from the family to see me and love me. I knew that you were the person who would see past everything and one day, we’d be together.” She took the gift, and slowly read the inscription one the box:
Dearest Daughter, this past decade I’ve toiled for you and none other so that you can be cured and the Slager name restored. Inside I have created a rod like no other, so that you will no longer be a shame on our family. You can shed your weakness and rejoin your rightful family and place in society.
Joy faded to anguish in Samantha’s eyes. “This? Do you see me as the disease even still? You once told me that there wasn’t any difference in mundane person and a magical one! My very own father, you alone should have found a way to see past your own blindness to love your own daughter. You are just like grandfather, worse even. I have made peace with who I am, but you clearly have not.
“I spent the last decade thinking that the reason you left me alone was because you couldn’t, the law was too strong. Yet I held to hope that one day, you would find a way. Today you took even that shred of hope away from me! You couldn’t reach out to me, not once, because you were too busy crafting some trinket so that I would be acceptable in your eyes? Am I that disgusting to you?
“Get out of my sight. I have a new family here, one that accepts me for who I am. I’m loved here and you will destroy that too. I don’t want to be part of the magimundi, why would I? They destroyed us because of my birth, yet I’m no different than the countless of other mundanes that you hide from every day.
She was right. Though he loved Samantha, it was on his terms and never hers. Jack Slager spent his life repairing the broken. He lacked the instinct to understand that not everything different is broken. Samantha never would open that box, but she kept it nonetheless. Perhaps as a symbol that the relationship could be repaired. Jack Slager promised himself he would return and make amends.
Jack kept all his promises to others; he failed to make the right promises. He promised to cure his daughter, and in doing so failed to accept and love her. He promised to cure people left behind by society, and in doing so threatened society itself.
Chapter 3: Third Failure – Mentoring
Empowering the Powerless can be a Zero Sum Game
Obligations required him to continue his work, and the newest batch of born-mundane needed wands fashioned. The Slagerods proved successful with simple magics, and this was also an opportunity for Jack to test their limits, both of the wands and his students. Furthermore, Jack felt a responsibility to teach his subjects enough magic to be equally on par to full wizard graduates.
Jack remained despondent from his failure to reconnect with his daughter. As he tried to work out that understanding, he would instead develop a bond with his subjects, now students. Jack felt and empathized with the indignities, cruelties and exclusion that they faced because of their inability to cast magic. Jack began to believe that his daughter’s experience and rejection in many ways was reflected on the faces of each of his students and their own experience. Jack describes this period of soul-searching as a time when he began to understand the cruelty of the magimundi and the system of haves and have-nots. A system that rewards some by destroying others.
Jack Slager may have had some talents, but teaching was not one of them. He taught what he knew to the first group of students, who would become the teachers for subsequent waves of students. This dozen or so “wizards” were encouraged to experiment and push their students to try new spells. Jack took this opportunity to observe and learn more about his Slagerods rather than engage with the students, or set boundaries on what magics were appropriate and ethical. Both his Slagerods and his students had few limitations.
Jack’s students were extremely eager to learn magic. Once they discovered their individual knack for the slagerod most students progressed extremely quickly. However, Jack’s curriculum was noticeably lacking in ethics, consequences and boundaries. Jack’s belief was that magic had been denied to these kids through something outside their own choosing, and he was not going to deny them any type of magic now. After all, it was forbidden necromancy that returned the gift of magic to mundane children and adults. He would call his group the “Freecasters” to acknowledge this mantra. That name would not stick.
Jack would graduate his first class in the early 1920’s. More than few of these students, carried grudges against those wizards that wronged them in the past. These young “wizards” ambushed and severely wounded mages in a series of attacks on unsoiled business, school activities and sporting events. Marshals would quickly intervene and the first “freecasters” were apprehended. In exchange for a measure of leniency, the arrested freecasters shared the location of Jack’s school and blamed the institution for teaching them dark magics.
Marshals responded quickly to investigate and shut down the school. Over two dozen marshals were rallied, and surrounded the school. They requested peaceful surrender of all the freecasters, to lay down the necromantic items and walk away. The students, now that they’ve tasted magic, vehemently refused. For the freecasters, giving up the slagerods equated with returning to underclass, or worse.
Once it was clear that the students were not giving up, the marshals raided the structure. Divination magics showed that there were relatively few spellcasters holding up in the building, but that was merely a side effect of the Slagerods. The resulting raid went very bad very quickly. Marshals used an explosion spell to breach a wall to a room that was supposed to be empty. Jack Slager’s students saw their own die in that blast and responded aggressively, fearing for their lives. After the first soul-searing curse was cast, marshals escalated to equally efficient responses. The marshals retreated while defending against deadly curses and collapsed the rest of the building. Nearly four dozen died that day, most of them students or teachers.
Jack himself claims to have directed most of his students to run away prior to the bloodbath. Due to the poor accuracy of divinations, and the relative complete destruction of the complex, marshals assumed that most of this band of dark wizards were killed. That uncertainty allowed Jack Slager a period to regroup, divide his surviving students into smaller cells and formulate his next steps.
Jack Slager sought to mentor others to fill the hole left by his daughter. However, that hole left a blindspot to the real needs of his students. Just like his daughter, they bore scars from society. Jack Slager equipped them with weapons instead of wisdom.
Chapter 4: Fourth Failure: Struggle against Power
The fight against inequality is not a fair fight
Up to this point in history, Jack claims his crimes were minimal and trivial. Grey area necromancy, failure to report dark magics, minor breaches in secrecy. For someone like him, who once worked for the magimundi and has an incredibly rich family, he would have received a fine and maybe a short stay in a low security lock-up, all hushed up and behind the scenes. Whether or not he facilitated the teaching of dark magic, a much more serious infraction, should be added to that list. However, he maintains that he had not directly caused harm until the government brought down his own school upon the head of children. Children entrusted into his care.
I can share these details now since Jack was convicted of these crimes. Telling the story as I heard it will not hurt him any further than he hurt himself.
Jack Slager would regroup, but keep his students decentralized to avoid another incident. He lost access to wealthy families as a source to cure born-mundanes, though some of the families that had children “cured” by Jack remained loyal until much later. Furthemore, he and his students were now wanted criminals, and no matter the crime the Slagerod would be confiscated. To his students, losing magic again would be a fate worse than death, and would behave accordingly.
Jack had already established his true workshop in the western reaches of Destiny province. He had plenty of resources to continue the manufacture of Slagerods and continue his work. He no longer believes that he is delivering a cure for the few, but has internalized what his daughter said to him when they last met: “We are no different than the countless others.” Jack would gain new students using his knowledge from the department of secrets and clandestine affairs to locate born-mundanes who had integrated into mundane society. These individuals would often require that friends or loved ones also be given the opportunity to wield magic. Jack Slager obliged, as he believed “Magical ability is a basic human right” and would teach the born-mundane and the true mundane one and the same, so long as he had rods available.
I find it difficult to categorize the decade of conflict that followed the “Freecaster collapse” other than it was not what is taught to young wizards or used to scare children at night. The gorecaster cells became naturally distrustful of one another after that incident. Some cells escaped relatively unscathed, while others lost severely when the marshals attacked. Regardless, each one of them felt backed into a corner, desperate not to lose the magic ability. With Slagerods now being much more difficult to come by, there was a shadow of fear in every gorecaster. “Tomorrow will I wake up without magic?” The gorecasters were less an organized group violent murderers, but scared children with powerful weapons. Though, after more than a decade the cells that remained did acquire a level of lethality that endangered the marshals who hunted them.
Some gorecaster cells knew or thought they knew how to make Slagerods but lacked the proper components. They solved for that by outright murdering wizards and using the dead to make new artifacts. Jack Slager confessed that he used the soul searing curse during this time, but only on the persons he knew could recreate a Slagerod. The only way to destroy that knowledge is to kill the wizard and their ghost. By inference, I assume that this meant both gorecaster and magimundi wizards, but Jack would not confirm.
Even still, he did not police his followers beyond that. Gorecasters cells would brazenly strike marshals in targeted attacks. Many were like the first students, who still held onto vendettas from being ostracized and retaliated. Others sought power for the sake of power, and found this opportunity to do so. Some cells would accept standard wizards into their ranks, so long as they could vouch for some measure of trustworthiness.
Jack Slager was responsible for his share of carnage as well. The surviving marshals who attacked his school, who he believed murdered so many individuals who first started to taste life, were hunted down by Jack Slager. Jack would not admit to killing these individuals. It matters little if he aimed the wand personally or simply pointed his cell of gorecasters in that direction.
Jack would not be able to mend his relationship with his daughter, though he still attempted to do so. Through everything, Jack maintained that he was defending a group of humans, no different than wizards, who were penalized for an accident of birth. He defended the cause of people like her, but also remained silent on the cause so that she would not be grouped with the crimes they committed.
Jack’s infamy likely made another visit to see Samantha impossible. Samantha was known to be a staunch pacifist as well (in fact, her embrace of the cause of defenseless cryptids won her enrollment into New World Magischola sponsored by the Cinnabar Society) and started classes in 1933, despite not having magical ability or having used a wand. Jack also likely never took his eyes off of her either. In fact, his surrender in 1934 came shortly after a gorecaster raid on New World Magischola that killed many students. It is possible that seeing his own army nearly kill his daughter was enough to convince him to surrender and stop the violence. Jack would
While I was entrusted with Jack’s defense, I was responsible to share with him all news as I saw fit. He was especially interested to know if the gorecaster activity had ceased. I could not bring myself to share a final piece of news to him in the week before his trial. During a follow up for the gorecaster raid at NWM, a pair of marshals interrogated students to uncover any involvement. These marshals allegedly were attacked by Samantha and used lethal force in self defense. The official report stated that a wand was found near her corpse, stated that divination cast on that wand verified its use to cast forbidden magic, and the report contained witness testimony supporting that the Samantha had cast dark magic at the marshal pair. My own sources were unable to find the witness. What my sources did find was that the divinations being cast by that pair would detect the true heritage of a wizard.
I did not have the strength to reveal to Jack that his daughter was killed.
The Trial of Jack Slager would result in the quiet conviction of “the most infamous man of the century.” I am dumbfounded that after all he would share with me as we prepared the defense, he would simply refuse to speak. I am not sure if he learned about his daughter’s death anyway, or if the magimundi cut him a deal behind my back. The war ended quietly and strangely, but not much more strange than how it started.
The gorecaster crisis, at its core, was a failed revolution that rose up when the most oppressed were suddenly equipped with power. Jack Slager intended only to cure one person, but instead ignited a disease of vengeance and hatred. My aim, dear reader, is that we remember this and change our path so that in one hundred years we might grow as a society. We are not so different than the countless mundanes we hide from every day.