Today’s look at the world of the Royal Occultist features on another ally of Charles St. Cyprian, the so-called Necromancer of Paris, Andre du Nord.
Andre du Nord is the latest in a proud Gallic line of sorcerers, occultists and necromancers. The du Nords have owned land in the werewolf-haunted province of Averoigne since 1281 and they are one of the Heritiers de la Sorcellerie–the great sorcerous bloodlines of France–along with the de Marignys and the d’Erlettes, among others.
Though sorcery was in his blood, du Nord nonetheless required training. In his youth, he studied at the feet of a number of teachers, including the infamous Claude Mambres and the Flemish warlock, Quentin Moretus Cassave. It was while studying under Mambres that Andre first acquired the sobriquet, ‘Necromancer of Paris’ – a title he views more as burden than honour.
St. Cyprian and du Nord first met in Averoigne in 1913, not long after the former had become Thomas Carnacki’s apprentice and the latter had completed his own training in the necromantic arts. Later that year, the two men would participate in the 1913 Grand Prix, where they ran afoul of a rogue patisserie in Amiens. Their friendship survived this rocky start and flourished in the following years.
Since that time, du Nord has aided St. Cyprian in a number of cases, including the Carpathian Repatriation of 1920 and the ‘Immacolata Abominata’ incident in July of the following year. St. Cyprian has returned the favour numerous times, joining du Nord in his own investigations into the abnatural on behalf of the Parisian police, as well as the various governmental agencies that make use of du Nord’s talents. Together, the two men would apprehend the villainous Doctor Lerne and counter the monstrous schemes of the Count of Saint-Germaine.
A loner by circumstance, du Nord would eventually find an assistant in the former Tirailleur, Yusuf Ba. Together, the two men would confront demonic cats, forgotten goddesses and horrors from the stars in the years leading up to the Second World War.
Andre du Nord, like Baron Vordenburg, is one of the Royal Occultist’s international peers. And also like Vordenburg, he has a notable literary antecedent – Gaspard du Nord, the protagonist of Clark Ashton Smith’s short story, “The Colossus of Ylourgne”.
Observant readers will note that this isn’t the first time that I’ve mined that particular story for my own benefit – Ylourgne, and the alchemical experiments of the dwarfish necromancer Nathaire, are mentioned in another Royal Occultist story, “Dead Men’s Bones”. Given that “The Colossus…” is one of my favourite CAS tales, this is perhaps unsurprising.
I originally created du Nord as a means to give St. Cyprian a contact in Paris in the novel Infernal Express (now being serialised over at Curious Fictions, if you’re interested), and while his page time was limited, I grew to like him. On the surface, he’s quite a similar character, but there are enough differences there to make him interesting, I think.
Though I initially had no plans to spin du Nord off into his own stories, I’ve since had a change of heart and completed the first of what I hope will be many tales featuring du Nord and his assistant, Yusuf Ba. France is rife with fodder for occult detective stories, from the Court of Miracles to the Beast of Gevaudan. Like Vordenburg, I think he’s a character with a lot of potential, and I hope to be able to explore it in the future.