It has come to my attention that a number of erstwhile companions have published their accounts of this tale in one form or another. Unfortunately for both the general public and me, these uncouth scoundrels have spread naught but lies and balderdash. Therefore, I am moved to set down my own version. I will present the facts of the matter as plainly as possible in order that the truth might speak for itself.
I had been summoned to Marlankh by a few violent men that aided my scholarship in the past. Sadly, the life of a diabolist is not without peril, and it often behooves me to align myself with a less savory sort. They explained that they needed the services of one skilled in the Black Arts and that no one other than myself would do. I graciously acquiesced, hoping that whatever task they needed me for would lead to my further edification.
I am not afraid to say, gentle reader, that the mission they wished to undertake was a kidnapping. I am not a proud man, and if my studies in Toledo taught me anything it is that one should not be afraid to get one's hands dirty. The reason for this kidnapping was somewhat obscure to me. The best I can put together is that one of my fellow rogues wished to rid himself of his wife and in so doing gain access to precious lucre at the expense of his father-in-law.
It is in this matter, that is to say the matter of the mark, that things became more complicated. You see, the woman in question was a vision of loveliness such as I had never seen before in all of my travels. Her passion for the study of human anatomy and the more subtle ways in which it can be manipulated rivals only mine, and her eyes' fiendish intelligence set my heart alight. I knew that I must have her! I would perform my part, but only up to a point. Rather than release her to her scheming father and her oafish husband, I would take her for myself and whisk her away to Wessex where we might live in happiness.
At first everything seemed to be going according to my plan. Through subtle use of my own magics we were able to spirit her away to a finely appointed manor house I had procured in order that she might be comfortable while we practiced our extortion. I am sad to relate that while doing so I had to hide my appearance and wash off some of my distinctive odor that has been the delight of women around the world. I, Philip the Black, will do anything in the name of love.
It was my companions' job to actually secure the money; however, their general incompetence and slow minds made them fail in even this relatively simple task. I suppose it is not entirely their fault, for it seems the father had little care for the fate of his lovely daughter. The fool! How can these men not appreciate one so beautiful and marvelous as she? I am sickened by the mere thought that she now is with these imbeciles.
But I am getting ahead of myself. When it became apparent that we were not going to receive any money, my companions reverted to their violent natures. The clown was the worst of the lot, but it must be said that all of them were united in their murderous intent. It was only when I threatened them with powerful magics and reminded them of my compact with Satan that they ceased. It was decided that we would release the fair lady in some back alley. I feared for her safety, but even though my threatening had worked I knew that the combined might of these viscous criminals would be able to stop me from saving her.
And so she was released to run back to the arms of two men who care not for her. Damn them! Now in exile, I must pine for her from afar. I take solace only in the fact that Satan's eight eyes watch over me, and that with his aid I will one day take her away from her moronic husband and bless her with many, many children.