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"The Spark and the Flame, Part One: The Price We Pay": John Constantine is a man well aware of the consequences of using magic. He has used it to circumvent the natural order of give and take, and he learned long ago that when you take without giving, the unive
- You cheat the system, and it tries to compensate. Nobody really understands how or why, but it does. Magic is costly. You take what you didn't earn, but you pay for it.
Appearing in "The Spark and the Flame, Part One: The Price We Pay"
- Chris (Dies)
- Green Lantern (Cameo)
- The Joint
- Dotty's Pets (First appearance)
- Croydon's Compass
Synopsis for "The Spark and the Flame, Part One: The Price We Pay"
John Constantine is a man well aware of the consequences of using magic. He has used it to circumvent the natural order of give and take, and he learned long ago that when you take without giving, the universe will come with a vengeance to take its due from you. All the same, perhaps it is best that he be the one to assure that nobody else every goes too far with the cheat - with magic.
Having moved from London to New York City, John is interrupted on his walk home to Dotty's Pet Store by a young man named Chris. Having promised to help the boy, John shuffles him inside as old Dotty peers down her stairs to be sure that they are not intruders. Dotty has graciously accommodated John with living space within her pet shop, and feels safer when he's about. Pushing Chris past the animal cages, John opens a back door to his room, explaining that the energies of all of the little animals help to prevent his location from being discovered with divination spells.
John directs Chris to write out the message that is burning inside him onto an atlas, showing the location of an item called Croyden's Compass. This item was designed by a mad wizard named Angus Croyden, who committed murder and cannibalism in order to fuel the compass' power. The compass itself could point the direction to magical resources. Whomsoever were to find it now would be the first to the scene of every mystic awakening and occult discovery. Certainly better in John's hands than anyone else's, surely.
Following the map, John and Chris set a course for Norway, boarding an Air Norway plane. While in the air, John orders a whisky, and is disappointed when he catches the attractive stewardess poisoning his drink. Feigning illness, he makes his way for the lavatory, where the stewardess sneaks up behind him whispering in his ear, "The cold flame burns, Constantine." Dragging her into the small washroom he wrestles the knife from her hand and demands to know why the Cult of the Cold Flame is after him again. In answer, she utters a curse, and he counters it in kind, causing an acidic effect that eats away at her body until she is no more. Stepping away from her smoking remains, John glares at the no-smoking light, and returns to his seat just in time to stop Chris from taking a sip of the poisoned whisky.
After touching down in Norway, John and Chris catch a cab to a hotel made entirely of ice, in the northern part of the country. John explains that the hotel's chapel stands over the exact latitude and longitude that Chris pinpointed earlier. Chris reveals that the compass was split into three parts: the needle, the dial, and the lens. In his ravings, he had said "the needle burns", and from this, John deduces that the needle is hiding within the fire of the chapel's torch, reaching his gloved hand into the flame to find it. Upon the needle's discovery, though, Chris begins groaning in pain about Sargon.
The name is not unfamiliar to John. Sargon the Sorcerer used to be one of the best magicians in the world - and John had hoped he was dead. He and a number of his contemporaries had become corrupted by the temptations of their magic and formed the Cult of the Cold Flame. Originally, the Cult had formed around Sargon, John Zatara, Mister E, and Tannarak. John had watched Zatara die in front of him, but the others remain, and they seem to have developed some kind of agenda that involves murdering John.
Within moments of discovering the needle, John and Chris are attacked by a woman introducing herself as Sargon the Sorceress. John recognizes her as Jaimini Sargent, the original Sargon's daughter. Surely, she must have killed him in order to gain his power and the loyalty of his cult. Her first move is to torture Chris with her magic, demanding that John give her the the needle, or she will kill him. As Chris cries out in pain, Sargon gives John just three seconds to hand over the item. Rather than do so, John uses magic to teleport away. In anger, Sargon crushes Chris with her magic, sending his blood spraying everywhere.
In rage, Sargon pursues John, but he creates the illusion of several versions of himself jumping into cabs and driving away. She becomes preoccupied with destroying every one of them, while the real John makes his exit on foot. Sadly, John admits to himself that the cost of cheating this time was Chris' life.
- This book was first published on March 20, 2013.
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