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Literature / Johannes Cabal the Necromancer

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The first of the Johannes Cabal series of fantasy novels, Johannes Cabal the Necromancer is the story of the titular necromancer and his efforts to study magic. Unfortunately for Johannes, he sold his soul to Hell for power, and magic doesn't quite work as well without one.

In order to get his soul back, Johannes makes a new deal - to gather one hundred other souls within a year, aided by an evil carnival and armed only with his own wits and a big handgun. Hey, nobody said it would be easy...


Johannes Cabal the Necromancer has examples of:

  • Alien Geometries: Ratuth Slabuth is largely composed of these, when he decides to get serious. That Lovecraftian standby, "non-Eucledian angles" are mentioned when he starts to 'unfold'.
  • Alone with the Psycho-After being saved from Layla the Latex Lady, Barrow has a tense conversation with Simpkins about whether or not the serial killer is going to follow through with his stated desire to kill the ex-detective.
  • Aloof Big Brother: Inverted-Horst likes Johannes well enough, though they're not particularly close, while Johannes admits that he used to hate Horst for being the favorite.
  • Alternate History: The story is fairly grounded in the real world, aside from the more or less public knowledge of magic and its like-Cabal's world has Satan, and God, and Cthulu, and vampires, and the Fey, and many other forms of supernatural entities.
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  • Anachronism Stew: There are various hints as to when the story might take place, but its hard to pin down-twentieth century for sure, but any dates given are written as '19—'. There are allusions to a past war that was probably World War 1, but Satan makes pop culture references as late as 1960 (Satan may be a special case). The Inter-War period is probably the best guess, though Al Capone is in hell, which puts the book in (in our world) at most 1947 at the latest.
  • Badass Bookworm: Cabal does not appear overly dangerous-archaically dressed, and definitely not a nice man at first glance, but not deadly and he prefers to use his brain to solve his problems. But in addition to being a scientist, he's deeply practical-when two dim-witted highwayman try to rob him he draws his enormous revolver and shoots them both dead.
  • Badass Normal: Frank Barrow isn't afraid of Cabal in a fight (he very nearly gets Cabal to accidentally stab himself when Cabal lunges at him with a switchblade) but is overmatched by the sinfully (literally) strong and powerful Layla, the Latex Lady. Cabal himself would almost count, but he's also kind of a wizard/magical scientist.
  • Better Living Through Evil: Cabal wants to cure death, and will do anything researching how to do that requires.
  • Big Bad: Satan is the overarching villain of the novel.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Cabal isn't good, but his goal is noble and by the end, we find out that he could be so much worse.
  • Body Horror: Dennis and Denzil, as their bodies decay.
  • Bond One-Liner: In a sense-Cabal shoots Bones in the head when the carnival decides to go nuts in their last minute of existence(and given the size of the bullet, his head more or less explodes), with Bones making a pathetic and insulting attempt to tell the rest of the carnival to stop at Cabal's orders. Cabal then says to no one in particular "I will not be mocked."
  • Break the Haughty: The last few chapters for Cabal-he ends the penultimate chapter sobbing, realizing his life's worth was for nothing and that he will soon be dead and damned.
  • Came Back Wrong: Dennis and Denzil-this seems to be part and parcel of how necromancy works in the series-Cabal has had nothing but failed attempts to truly resurrect someone as they were before death, with mind body and soul intact. Shambling zombies and skeletons seem to be all one can hope for.
  • Carnival of Killers: In a more literal sense. Per Horst's suggestions, Cabal summons a variety of demons for is carnival, each with different specialties. Some of them do include killing.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: The novel's portrayal of Hell-Satan has a secretary to help him with the files, and is depicted as a sort of evil executive more than anything else.
  • The Charmer: Horst is noted to have been this in life, and maintains it as a vampire, with the addition of a different kind of charm.
  • Circles of Hell: Arthur Trubshaw's bureaucracy is considered its own circle of hell.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Cabal prefers certainty over subtlety or style. Hence, the Webley .577, "a weapon of egregious aspect."
  • Creepy Cemetery: Cabal once visited one with his brother in his early forays into necromancy. This left the brother locked inside a crypt with an old vampire-the woman who built the cemetery and soon filled it by murdering her relatives.
  • Cutting the Knot: Cabal's favored method of dealing with revengers.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Its never explained in any clear length, but its implied that Cabal is trying to bring his lost love back from death. Its also mentioned that the Cabals' parents are dead.
  • Deal with the Devil: Deconstructed. Cabal initially sells his soul to Satan in exchange for the secrets of necromancy. Cabal is dissatisfied with his soulless state as he is unable to trust the results of his experiments. He spends the first novel trying to get his soul back via another deal with Satan.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Horst and Johannes, but the former is more prone to this.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Horst, though mostly not his own redemption.
  • Death Is a Sad Thing: Cabal genuinely dislikes killing, as it's a waste.
  • Death Is Cheap: Played with every which way, but ultimately averted.
  • Defiant to the End: Cabal plans to go out like this if he loses, having a speech about never giving up if Satan is about to kill him. Horst points out that, given how Cabal is utterly unsuited to run a carnival, he may have to amend the part about "coming close."
  • Demonic Possession: Cabal gets possessed in a minor way by an imp-it doesn't control him, but it does make him slightly colder, and cruel-Cabal himself takes a while to notice because he's like that anyway.
  • Department of Major Vexation: The de facto first circle of hell is the entrance queue, where a damned bank clerk forces the "pre-damned" to fill out thousands of excruciatingly detailed forms and sends them to the back of the line for any error. The clerk isn't even malicious, just so cosmically anal-retentive that he created the system of his own initiative.
  • Determinator: Cabal is utterly obsessed with his goal of curing death and would do anything to achieve it. He withstands evil wizards, a pocket dimension that nearly drives him mad, interference from demons, cunning ex-detectives and stares down Satan in his throne room with nary a hint of fear. This is somewhat Deconstructed as Cabal's refusal to quit means he leaves chaos in his wake.
  • Dressed All in Rubber: Layla the Latex Lady takes this to entirely new levels...
  • Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?: Cabal is able to outsmart Satan in the end, granting him 97 souls but not the two he really wanted, and get his own soul back in the process.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Horst-he reveals that he'd sabotaged Cabal's wager months ago and then, confident Cabal will die and be damned for ever, Horst calmly walks into the sunlight for the first time in nearly a decade and turns to dust-with complete and utter dignity.
  • Dysfunction Junction: The countryside Cabal's train roams has problems with escaped mental patients, murderers and a few demons.
  • The Dragon: Ratuth Slabuth to Satan-although Satan hardly needs him due to lack of ability.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: When angered, Satan's rage creates intense cold and freezing wind around him, and is even powerful enough to temporarily freeze parts of Hell.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Ratuth Slabuth loves a good entrance. Rufus Maleficarus also one for dramatics - a fact that Cabal is happy to take advantage of.
    • When Cabal starts to get more villainous, semi-possessed by an imp he talks like a "stage villain" (in Barrow's mind) and "an idiot" (in Cabal's own).
  • Evil Old Folks: Satan's avatar the "Little Old Man" is this, essentially the Platonic ideal of a crusty old man.
  • Evil Plan: Satan's, until Cabal proves to be a Spanner in the Works.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Cabal deals with Rufus Maleficarus, an example of a wizard who doesn't have stereotypical smarts: as Cabal put it, all the dark knowledge he learned took up space in his brain already used by his sanity. The result is a big man with wild hair and delusions of grandeur who, nonetheless, nearly brought about the apocalypse, was able to escape from a mental institution by using finger paint to summon a Hound of Tindalos, and transports Cabal into a pocket dimension.
  • Exact Words: Cabal uses this in a layered attempt to trick Satan, with the first attempt being obvious-in order to conceal the second. He offers Satan the box of soul contracts in return for his own-but Satan sees through that and wants the contents. He doesn't insist on a full count, and Cabal has already removed the two contracts Satan really wanted.
    • Cabal also relies on this in order to break his first wager with Satan and make a deal instead. Since he failed to get 100 souls Satan gets to kill him-but he doesn't get any of the other 99 as its an 'either/or' situation.
  • Fantastically Indifferent: Several, Cabal and Horst chief among them-being a vampire Horst is hard to impress and being Cabal Cabal finds hearing a tirade from Satan himself as a bit boring.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Satan, his avatar the Little Old Man and the construct Mr. Bones are all characterized as having a front of charm and bonhomie that covers their actual cruel and demonic nature. The narration points out Satan is like a bad mid-level manager-he's nice enough when he has the upperhand, but the second he gets challenged, he gets mad and things start to get very cold.
  • Foreshadowing: Rufus Maleficarus is mentioned to escape (by using fingerpaint to summon a Hound of Tindalos) chapters before he appears.
    • Likewise, there's a list of escaped murderers, but this is a very minor case as the only one who shows up is barely even described-his name is even written wrong-which is Justified because by his unique...condition.
  • Freudian Excuse: Discussed and defied by Horst, who points out that Cabal can't write off all of his increasingly awful actions on the fact that Horst was the favored of the two.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Horst, who has the lions' share of morals between the Cabal siblings.
  • Functional Magic: Played with. Magic exists, but it's not particularly functional-Cabal points out its major drawback is a lack of practicality compared to science. Once he decides to take Rufus Maleficarus seriously, Cabal's revolver is more than a match for Rufus' magic, which takes a long time to cast.
  • Genius Bruiser: One of the carnival's constructs is Joey Granite-Cabal tells him to downplay this trope, as people have a hard time accepting a physically superior specimen that also has advanced intellect.
  • Genre Savvy: Horst, when asking Cabal for some blood:
    Horst: Look, what's bothering you? It's the homoerotic aspect, isn't it? (Runs after Cabal) Well, don't flatter yourself. It's just a transfusion, for crying out loud.
  • Girl in a Box: Cabal's young love is kept in a semi-magic coffin filled with preservatives in order to keep her body stable until such time as he can restore her to full life.
  • Girl Next Door: Leonie Barrow. Beautiful country girl that Cabal is drawn to at first sight, or bothers him by looking familiar, she is also the only female in the book that is portrayed in a truly positive light, especially when compared to Femme Fatale Layla or Nea Winshaw.
  • God and Satan Are Both Jerks: Cabal concludes that this must be the case, since Hell consists of eternal torment run by a bored sadist, and those who go to Heaven lose their individuality and become a sort of loving/worshipful mass of light.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Maleficarus, though he wasn't the picture of mental health beforehand.
  • Grotesque Gallery: Cabal's carnival contains a freak show with a giant stone-headed man, The Dalmatian Boy, Layla the Latex Lady, and others.
  • Guile Hero: Horst relies on his cunning and charm more than his supernatural strength or other vampiric powers.
  • Hand Cannon: The Webley .577 is an enormous revolver that Cabal carries and which he usually only draws when someone is about to die very soon.
  • Heel Realization: Played with. Cabal knows he's not a hero and that what he does is evil, but he considers it necessary. Until Horst's suicide shows him he's gone too far. Even this is ultimately subverted, as Cabal wriggles out of his deal anyway beating the Devil. Cabal's last words (made clear to the audience, he says a name later) when he looks at his preserved love is that "It was all worthwhile." A combination of Horst's actions, Johannes', and getting his soul back softens him-very very mildly.
  • Hero Antagonist: Frank Barrow plays this role in the later part of the novel.
  • Heroic BSoD: Cabal is left a wreck after the (second) death of his brother and the loss of his wager with Satan, crying with his head in his hands. By the next chapter, this sadness has turned to anger and he's ready to spit in Satan's eye.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Leonine Barrow signs away her soul in order to save her father's life.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Cabal goes further and further into coldness and darkness to win his soul back-in the beginning he only cons people who were going to hell anyway. But by the end, needing just a few more souls and desperately short on time, he is willing to force good people to sign. Horst tries to point this out to him but Cabal ignores it.
  • Hidden Depths: Cabal proves this by the end-his actions stem from a deep, obsessive love something he seems uncapable of.
  • Ho Yay: In-universe: Horst suspects this is why Cabal is uncomfortable with being Horst's blood donor.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted, then played straight with Nea Winshaw's baby.
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: Played with. While he could be friendly and outgoing if he really wanted, Cabal intentionally distances himself from people whenever possible-even when he was younger.
  • Invisible to Normals: Only special people-those who tend to have impressive will (like Cabal and Barrow) can see Mr. Simpkons (Cabal isn't quite normal though and even he only notices Simpkins because his eyes glide over where he is standing). He's not a mystic creature himself-but he's a man so painfully banal that people just don't notice him except when he's showing strong emotions-which is rare. This is Played for Laughs and used for Black Comedy as Simpkons killed roughly fifty people to get them to notice him-but they never did.
  • I Wished You Were Dead: Horst and Cabal alternate with this for each other-Cabal never wanted his brother to die, but did hate him, while Horst believes his actions will lead very quickly to Cabal's death at the end of the book.
  • Karma Houdini: Cabal, because Satan finds that he causes more chaos alive than dead-he doesn't get away unscathed, but he does still achieve his goal.
  • Karmic Death: While not exactly death, victims who signed their souls over to damnation were usually tempted by vices that they already had.
    • At the end, Horst mentions this is sort of what is going to happen to Cabal-Horst sabotaged the wager and Cabal will die. He tells Cabal that he's killed him, just like Johannes 'killed' him. Horst then inflicts this on himself by committing suicide.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Most of the souls Cabal collects are people that would have gone to Hell anyway. Arguably happens to him a few times, too.
    • When Cabal is back in Hell the second time, he's in a very bad mood so he throws Trubshaw to the naked masses to beat (breaking Trubshaw's shoulder in the process). He also finds the imp that possessed him (which is now a pile of slime after pissing off Slabuth, very slowly healing) just as it grows an eye-which Cabal promptly stomps on.
  • Last-Name Basis: Johannes Cabal is most often simply known as 'Mr. Cabal,' or 'Cabal.' while Horst Cabal goes by his first name.
    • This is averted by Satan, who calls Johannes by his first name or by his full name-never just Cabal, and certainly wouldn't grant him the meager respect even of 'Mr.'
  • The Legions of Hell: This is explictly mentioned and used in the text to describe the vast kinds of demons in hell, from imps to demonic Generals to Satan himself.
  • The Lost Lenore: Cabal's love died when he was young (probably 19 or 20) and ever since he abandoned his dream to be a doctor and decided to connquer death itself. This is a somewhat downplayed example of the trope, because Cabal never speaks about his lost love.
  • Lovecraft Lite: While cosmic horrors are implied to exist alongside Hell and Heaven, what is missing is the "humans are hopelessly insignificant" factor-Cabal proves that a quick mind and a brave heart can serve a human being well against all kinds of threats.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Cabal's ultimate motivation is to find a cure for death so he can restore his lost love to life.
  • Mad Scientist: Played with with Cabal-he's not insane, but he's very low on ethics and morals. He's not 'mad' so much as a giant jerk. He's got the utter obsession and strange lab parts, though.
  • Monster Clown: After they reach a certain point of decay, Dennis and Denzil have their horrible faces masked by paint and are enlisted as clowns, because people like clowns, right?
  • Moral Event Horizon: In-universe, Cabal's entrapment of Nea Winshaw-he lays out a plan for her to kill her unborn child, but instead of getting away with it, she's soon found out. It is then revealed that her child is alive, and Cabal can get her off any criminal charges-if she would just sign on the dotted line. Horst is disgusted, and Cabal admits its the worst thing he's ever done.
  • Moral Dilemma: Cabal tries to enforce one on Barrow-sign his soul away or Cabal will kill his daughter. Barrow, rightly, deduces that Cabal would never kill Leonie, so this fails. It does however, put a similar dilemma on Leonie, as Cabal is perfectly willing to kill Barrow at this point-but Cabal never threatens her to sign.
  • Morality Chain: Horst tries to serve as this for Cabal, and tries to steer him towards doing the right thing.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Mundane made evilly awesome, but Arthur Trubshaw a bank clerk in Hell, is so penny-ante, so devoted to detail that he creates another layer of Hell-now to get in you have to fill out forms. Thousands and thousands of forms made to be incredibly hard, with some of them having thousands of questions. The "pre-damned" as the poor souls on Limbo are known, all want to go to Hell because it ''has' to be better than the forms.
  • Necessarily Evil: How Cabal sees his work-yes he'll condemn 100 people to hell, but getting his soul back will put him further along the track to curing life.
  • Nerves of Steel: Cabal marches into Hell (twice) and holds a conversation with Satan like they're more or less equal.
    • Played for laughs with a young boy who enters the carnival and narrates his own story-he's not scared of hardly anything they throw at him, (telling the monster under the bed that he actually sleeps in a bunkbed above his brother who is much scarier than the monster) and only gets frightened by Horst's anger towards the monsters and the thought of being yelled at.
  • Not So Stoic: Cabal at times-he cries exactly once in the story, is mildly happy a few more times, and loses his temper most of all.
  • Necromancer: Cabal, though he only became a necromancer to reverse death and has no interest in communing with spirits or raising zombies, except in pursuit of this goal.
  • Necromantic Cabal is driven to uncover the secrets of returning life from death to save his love.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: There is a short digression early in the book that deals with a family called the Druins, and details how one of them became a vampire but the others tried to kill her (partly for family money, partly because they were all crazy), but she always came back-being a vampire. Until one day she has an accident with a steamroller and a large amount of gelignite. This is ultimately subverted, as even this fails to truly kill the vampire.
  • Noodle Incident
    Horst: (to Johannes) Good God, you’re not still bitter about that time at Conrad’s party, are you? I’ve apologised for that a dozen times over. It was a joke.
  • No Social Skills: Cabal realizes this, but concludes that people are simply unworthy of his time. This comes back to bite him when his wager with Satan requires him to run a carnival. Cabal is grudgingly forced to run to his brother Horst for help.
  • Not Afraid of Hell: Arthur Trubshaw qualifies for this. Essentially described as the most painfully bureaucratic man to ever live, he was originally a bank teller in the Old West who was shot by a robber after informing the latter that he needed a receipt before leaving. The inhabitants of Hell gleefully anticipated breaking his will and desire for order, but found that while they were gleefully planning this, he had written out schedules to best optimize the torture, made a time and motion study for them, and reorganized their underwear drawers. Satan looked at this and decided to make use of his obnoxious skills by converting the entrance to Hell into a gargantuan waiting room where incoming souls have to fill out thousands of pages of cryptically-worded paperwork happily written by Trubshaw.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Arthur Trubshaw. His talents earned him a position in Hell.
  • Our Demons Are Different: Some of hell's demons are the typical types-imps and so forth. But Slabuth is described more as something more Lovecraftian, with no legs and being a mass of non-Euclidean angles with a horse's skull for a head-wearing an ancient Greek helmet.
    • Likewise, Satan is given little in the way of description-he us explicitly said to look "exactly as one imagines", meaning his appearance might be mutable. What is known for certain is that he's very, very large-he sits on a massive throne, his fingernails are the size of tombstones, and a drop of his blood is the size of a medicine ball.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Horst has both proven and debunked many of myths: sunlight kills him, but he doesn't need the coffin. Vampirism is spread via the mixing of blood and not the bite. He still has a reflection, along with various super-powers: strength, speed, hypnotism, toughness, and blood-fueled healing.
  • Pardon My Klingon: When English and German cannot sufficiently express his anger, Cabal swears in dead languages.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Cabal does this to Trubshaw (throwing him out to his public-who hate him) and Ratuth Slabuth (by besmirching his good name and indirectly leading to him being demoted to Corporal).
    • Cabal takes in a bunch of escaped murderers, letting them hide from the law aboard the train-provided they sign a contract, of course and knowing their shelter will only last a year.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Cabal has little use for smiling. It shows.
  • Pet the Dog: Cabal gets a few moments of this-in Chapter 6 he saves a ghost from its limbo at the site of its death, and reconsiders making it sign and thus go to hell. Moved by its love for its lost girlfriend, he simply lets the ghost know peace.
    • Alfred Simpkons is an unrepentant killer but he ends up saving Barrow because he really wants tokill Barrow himself. After he saves him, he can't bring himself to kill him because it seems childish-he then gives up murder and says its easier than quitting smoking.
  • Phenotype Stereotype: Cabal is Germanic and blond, though his brother has light brown hair.
  • Pocket Dimension: Johannes Cabal gets briefly trapped in one.
  • Precision F-Strike: Horst uses one to end an argument with his brother near the end of the novel.
  • Refuge in Audacity: How Cabal survives Hell the second time-he simply marches in, drags the gatekeeper out of his booth (breaking his shoulder in the process) and throws him to the angry thousands who he's tormented for centuries.
  • Resuscitate The Dog: After Horst kills himself.
  • Sarcasm-Blind: Satan's avatar.
    Old Man: Neat, eh? Goes down a bomb at parties, I can tell you.
    Cabal: Really? I’ll have to hold a soirée just to impress my friends.
    Old Man: You haven’t got any friends.
    Cabal: I’m not holding a soirée, either. You have a problem with sarcasm, don’t you?
  • Science Hero: Cabal is a scientist first and foremost, and applies methods of rational thought and logic to his efforts-but is not afraid to employ violence either.
  • Serial Killer: Many of the prison escapees-Simpkins is the only one who gets a detailed description and he kills people because that is the only way for people to notice him-even then it doesn't really work.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The "Loofah Lady" is a nod to Bram Stoker's "Bloofer Lady" in Dracula, and The Rufus Maleficarus episode is an extended Shout-Out to the Cthulhu Mythos.
    • When discussing matters with Frank Barrow, ex-detective, Horst calls him Hercule.
    • Faust, one of the most popular examples of deals with the devil, is mentioned-Satan calls losing one's soul after a set number of time from signing a deal with him "The Faust Clause."
    • Something Wicked This Way Comes is directly and indirectly referenced-the carnival of Discord is similar to one run by 'Cougar and Dark' but Satan mentions that one is wound up.
    • Another demonic carnival mentioned is the soon to be franchised is Dr. Diablo's Torture Garden. Satan seems especially proud of this one, which may having something to do with the movie's villain claiming to be the Devil.
    • There is a reference to "The Statement of Randolph Carter", a Lovecraft story, when Cabal finds a semi-open tomb with an old hand-held phone set next to it.
    • At one point, Satan is reading The Satanist, and says its doing a bad job of getting people not to worship him, making it sound fun.
    • Satan name-drops The Girl from Ipanema and his secretary mentions the song Spanish Eyes, with Satan implying the first one might be his doing.
    • Satan mentions the work of Niccolo Paganini being one of his favorites-which is a joke, since Paganini has been known as "The Devil's Violinist."
  • Significant Monogram: Johannes shares his initials with another guy who used to resurrect people.
  • The Soulless: Cabal sold his soul to the devil before the book began (apparently this is a necessary step in becoming a necromancer and not a mere necrothologist) but needs it back because being soulless attracts supernatural weirdness and makes his science impossible.
  • Sour Outside, Sad Inside: Cabal is heartbroken by the loss of his one true love, and this grief combined with his manic obsession to restore her to life makes him a towering jerk.
  • Spanner in the Works: Several. Most notably Horst, who steals one of the 100 contracts Johannes needs to get signed in order to win his bet with Satan.
  • The Spock: Surprisingly, Cabal's soulless state did little to contribute to this.
  • Starfish Language: A few of the languages Cabal uses for swearing.
  • The Stoic: Cabal has a very small emotional range and even then is very good at concealing his emotions-he's usually logical and cold above all else.
  • Stoic Spectacles Cabal wears a pair of frosted lenses with side-baffles frequently but not to the point of fancy.
  • Suddenly SHOUTING!: Cabal rarely yells, but he loses it during his last confrontation with Frank Barrow, after pleading with him about how important it is to reverse death, knowing Frank's a widower himself-his sudden rage makes the experienced detective jump a little.
    Frank: We have to accept it.
    Cabal: No we don't! No, I don't! Now sign damn you!"
  • Sword Cane: Cabal has one, concealing a 3-foot steel blade.
  • These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: The arcane magicks Rufus Maleficarus learned blew the sanity out of his mind, which Cabal treats as being somewhat common for those who delve too deep into magic.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Dennis and Denzel. Until Cabal kills them and zombifies them with Batch 247.
  • Those Two Guys: Again, Dennis and Denzel-after their death, they're so dumb and ineffectual that they become a source of comedy because (not despite) their intrinsic Body Horror aspects.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: Cabal is mentioned to have several lying about his house.
  • Totalitarian Utilitarian: As seen throughout the novels, Cabal doesn't give a shit about the means, only the ends.
  • Tranquil Fury: Played with in Cabal. He shows normal, shouting anger several times, but can also carry out violent acts driven by rage in a perfectly normal fashion. In the timeless pocket dimension, he cheerfully bashes a man to death with a croquet mallet in a single swing-it was a science experiment.
  • Trauma Conga Line: In the second to last chapter, Cabal abandons his last few morals, condemning another innocent person to hell, is then told that he will lose the wager anyway due to interference, and then watches his brother kill himself simply, which is mostly his fault, leaving him weeping and alone.
  • Tricked into Signing: Cabal has one year to get 100 people to sell their souls to the Devil in order to get his own soul back and is shown tricking a miserly and greedy farmer into selling his soul by making the man think he's signing a land contract. The guy does question the reference to himself as the "Damnee", but Cabal tells his that it is antiquated legal jargon. It's noted in the text that some of the fine print in the contract indicates that signatures are valid/signees are damned even if they don't know what they are signing.
  • The Unsmile: Cabal practices this all the time daily in order to scare small children and the elderly. Use of this trope is common in the story as Horst and Satan both sometimes smile in a way that is meant to be intimidating.
  • The Vamp: Layla the Latex Lady-made from the power of hell and a collection of lingerie ads and other salacious stuff, her appearance and proximity affect the human mind to make her the star of the carnival-a living embodiment of the thrill of the peep show.
  • The Vicar: Cabal meets a stereotypical one toward the end of the story and in a nod to the stereotypical laxness of the Church of England, when Cabal tells him that he is a Satanist, the Vicar simply asks if Cabal is happy with that choice, which has the effect of an Armor-Piercing Question on Cabal.
  • Villain Protagonist: Possibly also related to the fact that Cabal is a Well-Intentioned Extremist.
  • Villanious Breakdown: While not a true villain, but during his rising villainy at the novel's final parts Cabal has a brief breakdown when discussing death with Barrow, who is a widower. Even though he misses his wife every day, Barrow says you have to accept death. Cabal rages at this.
  • Weapon of Choice: A Webley .577 handgun, though Cabal is smart enough to carry back-up weapons.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Cabals's intentions are good-to restore life and conquer death. His methods only get more extreme as time goes on lest he suffer damnation.
  • What a Senseless Waste of Human Life: While Cabal has no problem with committing violent acts of murder, he does not like to. He makes an exception for Denzil and Dennis cause they're just so stupid.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Horst to Cabal, after Cabal cruelly entraps a single mother into signing her soul away.
  • When He Smiles: At one point, Cabal smiles following a Pet the Dog moment, and the narration notes that for once, his smile wouldn't have scared small children.
  • Wicked Cultured: Both of the Cabal brothers-Horst has more actual culture (being a people person) than Cabal, but isn't nearly as wicked, while Cabal has no scruples but is very well-educated.
    • Satan mentions listening to opera at one point.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The carnival's constructs are about to get a young boy to sign his soul over (in a sequence that manages to be both very funny and tense) when Horst makes a wall-breaking entrance and promptly informs them "NO CHILDREN.".
    • Johannes falls into this indirectly-he'd probably never hurt a child, but he didn't tell the various monsters not to take children's souls, either. He also tricks a woman into poisoning her baby (non-fatally, but no one knows that but him) in order to get the mother to sign away her soul.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Bones is quick to dismiss Cabal's chances of winning his wager (most everyone does) by pointing out that only people in stories get the best of Satan. The common thought is that Cabal is to star in yet another tragic Faustian tale ending with his death and damnation but as Cabal points out just because something's never been done before doesn't mean it can't be done.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Satan's wager is this-if Cabal wins, Satan gets 100 souls (and he'll have corrupted Cabal in the process), and if Satan wins, he gets to kill Cabal. While Cabal is able to get the best of Satan, its a very minor victim and Satan even taunts him by saying he'd give him his soul back anyway-saying its too tawdry to keep.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: Cabal with Maleficarus' horde of sanitarium escapees.
  • You Killed My Father: Rufus Maleficarus claimed that Cabal killed his father. Cabal claims that it didn't count because, technically, Maleficarus's father was already dead.


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