Who is the Royal Occultist?


Of all the characters I’ve created, and stories I’ve written over the past decade, I’m perhaps the proudest of the Royal Occultist. I’ve written more stories featuring Charles St. Cyprian and his assistant, Ebe Gallowglass, than I ever intended, and their continued popularity with my readers is both gratifying and humbling. I’ve enjoyed writing every single story, from “Krampusnacht” to “The Faceless Fiend”.

A few years ago, I hit on the idea of expanding the ‘Royal Occultist universe’ with regular write-ups about the setting, including information about reoccurring characters like Philip Wendy-Smythe or villains like the monstrous Hound of Mons, as well as a look at places like the house on Cheyne Walk, and even descriptions of the tools of the trade, like the Monas Glyph or Gallowglass’ ever-present Webley-Fosbery revolver. But I’ve never really managed to get it going – until now.

I’ve decided to make the ‘Royal Occultist universe’ a regular feature on this site – hopefully once a week, but at least a few times a month. Check the Royal Occultist Facebook page for updates. You can also click the ‘royal occultist’ tag, to see everything on this site.

Starting things off this week is a look at the main characters of the series – Charles St. Cyprian and Ebe Gallowglass…


Charles St. Cyprian is a slim man in his early thirties, with a Mediterranean complexion, an Old College, Oxford intonation and an inordinate fondness for the sartorial creations of Savile Row.  He is also the current holder of the offices of the Royal Occultist of the British Empire and its associated territories.

Prior to assuming the responsibilities of the foremost occult office in the Empire, St. Cyprian was, at best, an uninspiring candidate. A stereotypical example of the ‘idle rich’ with an attention span limited to the retention of cricket scores and the occasional bout of auto-polo, a fresh-from-university St. Cyprian became involved with the ‘Cheyne Walk set’ in the year prior to commencement of hostilities on the Continent.

It was during the so-called Gogmagog Incident (1914), that St. Cyprian met Thomas Carnacki, and the former aided the latter in exorcising the titanic spectral monstrosities which lurked in the crypts beneath the Guildhall, London. By all accounts, St. Cyprian impressed Carnacki with his quick-thinking as well as his ability to wield a xiphos.

Following this, St. Cyprian joined Arkwright, Dodgson and the others in Carnacki’s clique; in reality, St. Cyprian was the last addition to the roster for consideration of the position of Carnacki’s assistant. Despite the apparent suitability of several of the other candidates, Carnacki chose St. Cyprian on the eve of war.

From 1914 to 1918, St. Cyprian served as Carnacki’s amanuensis and dogsbody in England and abroad, learning the ins and outs of the duties of the Royal Occultist with commendable speed. With Carnacki’s death at the Kemmelberg during the Fourth Battle of Ypres in 1918, St. Cyprian was given a battlefield commission to Captain and assumed the duties of the Royal Occultist.

After the War, St. Cyprian returned to England and attempted to re-assume his old life with mixed success, establishing questionable ties to the Runcible and Wooster social sets among others, including a number of occult sects. However, not long after taking up residence in No. 427 Cheyne Walk, St. Cyprian first encountered his future assistant, Ebe Gallowglass during the Shooter’s Hill Incident (1919), and began to take his duties seriously.

In contrast to her mentor, Ebe Gallowglass is a short, slender woman of Egyptian descent in her early twenties, with a propensity for dressing like a cross between a Parisian street-Apache and a newsboy.  She is also the (reluctant) (fairly murderous) assistant to Charles St. Cyprian, the current occupier of the offices of the Royal Occultist of the British Empire and its associated territories.  

Little is known about Gallowglass’ life prior to her involvement in the Shooter’s Hill Incident (1919) and her current association with Charles St. Cyprian. But what is known is altogether unpleasant.

She is the daughter of the Irish revolutionary, mercenary and occultist, Donal Gallowglass, and an as-yet unidentified Cairo woman believed to be the high priestess of an outlawed religious sect. Gallowglass’ childhood was spent within the secretive confines of her mother’s cult; of said cult and its high priestess, little is known save that the experience left Gallowglass with a lifelong abhorrence of cats.

Donal, who, in his sordid and violent career, came into conflict with not one, but two of St. Cyprian’s predecessors, was not present for his daughter’s youth and indeed, seems not to have been aware of her until shortly before he met his death during the Britannic Affair (1916). The only keepsake she possesses of the late, unlamented Donal is his signature Webley-Fosbery revolver with the Seal of Solomon on the butt, picked out in ivory. The weapon was delivered to her via courier, prior to her departure from Cairo. Why the reportedly unsentimental Donal did so died with him in the boiler room of the Britannic.

Some time in the closing months of 1918, Gallowglass’ mother was murdered by rivals within her sect, leading to Gallowglass’ subsequent pursuit of said individuals across two continents, before tracking the last of them to London in 1919. This led directly to the aforementioned Shooter’s Hill Incident (1919) and her subsequent apprenticeship to Charles St. Cyprian.

St. Cyprian and Gallowglass have appeared in the following stories:

  • “The Unwrapping Party”
  • “The Dreaming Dead”
  • “Merry John Mock”
  • “The Maida Vale Mummy”
  • “Orbis Tertius”
  • “Hairy Hands”
  • “The Strix Society”
  • “An Ounce of Prevention”
  • “The Creeping Man”
  • “The Door of Eternal Night”
  • “The Artist as Wolf”
  • “Deep Red Bells”
  • “The Fates of Dr. Fell”
  • “Krampusnacht”
  • “The Faceless Fiend”
  • “The Second Occupant”
  • “Sign of the Salamander”
  • “Squatter’s Rights”
  • “The Gotterdammerung Gavotte”
  • “The Teeth of Winter”
  • “The Bascomb Rug”
  • “Return of the Hound”
  • “Iron Bells”
  • “The Hunting of Philip Ackroyd”
  • “Terror on the Links”
  • “The Coventry Street Terror”
  • “The Cult of the Horrible”
  • “The Bells of Northam”
  • “The d’Erlette Configuration”
  • “The Wedding Seal”
  • “Feast of Fools”
  • “In the Dark and Quiet”
  • “Wendy-Smythe’s Worm”
  • “The Jagtooth Lane Horror”
  • “The Uninvited Guest”
  • “The Creature from the Abysmal Sea”
  • “The Riders of St. George”
  • “The Hungry Stones”
  • “The Pnakotic Puzzle”
  • “The Necromancer’s Drum”
  • “Deo Viridio”
  • “The Devil of Dog-End”
  • “Owd Hob”
  • “Hairy Shanks”
  • “The Black Brotherhood”
  • “The Hound’s Daughter”
  • “The Roaring Ship”
  • “The Third Death of Henry Antrim”

St. Cyprian has also appeared in the following stories:

  • “Monmouth’s Giants”
  • “Hochmuller’s Hound”
  • “The Charnel Hounds”
  • “Dead Men’s Bones”
  • “The Bride of the Hound”

For more on the adventures of St. Cyprian and Gallowglass, as well as past and future holders of the office, take a look at the Royal Occultist chronology on this site, as well as a number of free short stories, available only on Patreon. And be sure to ‘Like’ the Royal Occultist Facebook page, in order to keep up with all the latest news and info on the series!