"The Gestalt": John Constantine has travelled to the small village of Donaueschingen in Germany to help protect a mystic whom he believes will soon be targeted by the Cult of the Cold Flame. However, in the woods surrounding
Synopsis for "The Gestalt"
John Constantine has travelled to the small village of Donaueschingen in Germany to help protect a mystic whom he believes will soon be targeted by the Cult of the Cold Flame. However, in the woods surrounding this mystic's home, telluric enchantments have been left to see that any mystic who ventures into them will surely be killed without potent charms. Despite his reluctance, John has been under pressure to do good ever since Zatanna cast a spell on him, requiring him to be a better person.
In the woods, John spots a group of vicious hunters called the Stained Claw, who are in service to the Cold Flame. Fortunately, he sees them before they see him - though they have caught his scent. Fortunately, they are not very smart, and he can use an enchantment to cheat and mask his scent - at the cost of his digestive stability. However, when they are undeterred, he realizes that they never had his scent. They're seeking someone else. Realizing that they're after the same man he's after, John is compelled by Zatanna's words to follow them and ensure that no poor tourist ends up falling into their traps. His target is certainly too smart to fall for them.
Passing by one of the Stained Claw's telluric nets, John notices with puzzlement that the part of the forest he is walking into is an exact mirror of the part he just walked through. Surely, this is part of his target's deceptions to prevent himself from being found. Fumbling around at a nearby tree, John finds the hidden door into the man's home, and is welcomed inside.
John promises Albrecht Zimmerman the Xylomancer that he came alone, but that there will be assassins to follow, and they should hide. Almost immediately, the Stained Claw burst in through the windows and swear to kill Zimmerman as an enemy of the Cold Flame. The old man professes no knowledge of any crimes against the Cult, only serving to anger his attackers. However, one of the three brothers suddenly collapses as a result of being shot wit enchanted silver. Someone must be there with Zimmerman. Soon, they locate John and grab him up.
Angrily, John warns that they shouldn't turn their backs on the target. He is supposed to be the Stained Claw's backup. He urges the creature to grab their shared target. Of course, John is just playing on the creature's dim-wittedness, and when it turns its back on him, he prepares to use his silver charm to kill it. However, he has no need of it, as Albrecht rises to his feet and transforms into a horrifying true werewolf. in his surprise, John drops the silver and has to scramble to pick it up again. In an instant, he realizes that the telluric net was Zimmerman's doing. The Stained Claw weren't smart enough for it. Albrecht had not wanted them to be able to leave once they found him. Hoping to save his own life, John holds up the charm in front of the wolf, only to be swatted across the room violently.
John regains consciousness with Albrecht standing over him - back to his old self. With John awake, the old man explains that he can now search the conman's mind to see if he is worth saving. With his mind being invaded, John begs Albrecht to stop, explaining that he came for help. Albrecht has already seen that John is still pledged to the Cult of the Cold Flame - and his mind has been interfered with by Zatanna. John admits that he knows all of those things. He had thought that Albrecht might be able to free him of both. Seeing that John is becoming agitated, Albrecht puts him back to sleep.
John wakes later, having slept the night through. Albrecht offers him some tea that will help John to free himself. However, the spell that motivates John right now has made him a more noble man, and he shouldn't be too quick to remove it. John warns that it is up to him to be who he really is. Albrecht reminds that removing that motivation will entirely alter who John is - but John's mind is made up.
At the Temple of the Cold Flame, Sargon warns that surely John Constantine is working against the cult. Tannarak must admit at last that she is right, and Albrecht must not be allowed to cast the spell they expect him to. So, he begins using the magic kill-switch spell that was given them by Papa Midnite - the spell that will kill John Constantine instantly. If the fetters on John's mind are released, the key to manipulating him will be lost to the Cold Flame. If John truly slips from their control, he will be able to destroy the Cult, ultimately.
As Albrecht attempts the spell, he feels Tannarak's enchantment interfering, but he is too late, and John's head shatters in his hands.
Appearing in "The Gestalt"
- Albrecht Zimmerman (First appearance)