|“||We'll do this dance again...||„|
|~ Jack, setting the stage for the next round of boss battles|
A minor villain in the Funcom MMORPG The Secret World, Jack O'Lantern is one of Solomon Island's most famous monsters and the boss of an entire chain of missions spanning all three major zones of the Island. Though he has recently been usurped as the pinnacle of Solomon Island's supernatural food chain by the depredations of the Draug, Jack remains a powerful magic creature and a significant challenge to the newly-minted Secret Worlders.
As the name implies, Jack O'Lantern is essentially a monstrous hybrid of man and plant, his face twisted into into a permanent jack-o-lantern grin complete with glowing red eyes. Standing well over twelve feet tall, his limbs are long, spindly branches tipped with knifelike digits, and his misshapen torso is swollen with sprouting plantlife and rotten pumpkinflesh.
Despite his vast strength, Jack prefers to remain out of sight most of the time, his body remaining buried deep within a pumpkin patch until his prospective prey gets too close. In the tradition of his role as keeper of the pumpkins, he generally only kills those who trespass on his territory, particularly after dark; however, Jack has the power to manipulate the ghost lights known as wisps, and often uses them to lure unsuspecting children off the road into the pumpkin patches, where he is free to butcher them. Nonetheless, he also is discreet enough to avoid killing too many people in too short a space of time, likely to avoid negative attention from the townsfolk and those who might actually be capable of killing him.
Though children all over the island are taught to fear him as a bogeyman, and though he is responsible for some of Kingsmouth's most brutal serial-killings, Jack O'Lantern has somehow managed to acquire the praise and protection of several townsfolk. Every time someone aware of Jack's true nature suggests destroying him, these supposedly upright citizens rally, declaring him a living icon of the Island's proud heritage and citing all the damage that will be done to pumpkins if he dies - in strict contravention of the Pumpkin Purity Laws. This borderline-delusional publicity surrounding Jack has actually led to the town council granting him protected status: in the summer of 2002, Jack's most hideous murders to date were actually blamed on an innocent drifter by the name of Larry Checkon, all because the council didn't want the attention of the mainland reaching their deepest secrets - or their farmers' mascot.
When not killing, Jack amuses himself by any means available to him, most commonly by skipping through the old Henderson Farm, likely as an insult leveled at the long-dead proprietor. Unfortunately, this is all he can do lately, thanks to the arrival of the Draug: with most of the children on the island either dead or cloistered in the police station with the other survivors of the Fog, Jack has been left to his own devices as he waits for fresh victims to appear within reach, oblivious to the fact that this many never happen.
In the event that he is challenged by the player, he will fight ferociously - until it becomes clear that he's going to lose, whereupon he flees for his life and hides in another pumpkin patch.
The Sad Tale of Jack the Lad
The man who eventually become known as Jack O'Lantern was born in Ireland in 1889: known only as "Jack the Lad," he was a mischief-maker from an early age, well-known for his charm and musical skill - described by many as having "the voice of an angel." As soon as he was old enough to leave home, he took to the roads and wandered the country, playing his fiddle at pubs for money and lodgings, and seducing a good deal of the local girls along the way. His life of fun came to an end in the early 1900s when famine broke out in Ireland - mild in comparison to the truly catastrophic famines of the 1840s and 1870s, but unpleasant enough to leave Jack the Lad out of work. With nobody in the mood for his charms or his music, Jack left Ireland for America, eventually settling on Solomon Island in 1907.
For a time, he returned to his life of music and seduction, but found himself once again faced with unappreciative audiences: nobody was interested in paying the fiddle-player for a tune, and the town council took a dim view of philanderers. So, he reluctantly sought other lines of work, eventually finding employment as a farmhand at the homestead of the infamous Archie Henderson. A Scotsman with a vicious temper and an incredible talent for magic, Henderson had been recruited by the Illuminati and taught at Solomon Island's Innsmouth Academy - but to the disappointment of his handlers, he abandoned their employment offers in favor of a career in agriculture less than a mile from the Academy. Unable to give up his studies, his continued obsession with power and the many deaths in his family had driven the already-eccentric magus-turned-farmer to the brink of insanity. Needless to say, Jack didn't have much in the way of affection for his new employer.
However, he did have a great deal of affection for Samantha Henderson, Archie's daughter. Here, the story tends to diverge into legend: popular folklore states that Samantha died violently - either killed by Jack after being spurned by the object of his obsessions, or simply mauled to death by one of the many monsters roaming Solomon Island; one way or the other, the legend concludes with Jack getting the blame and being transformed for it. In reality, the incident that prompted Jack's transformation was much simpler - but no less egregious to Old Man Henderson.
According to the Bees, Archie and Samantha argued a great deal: with most of the mage's family having died as a result of Solomon Island's supernatural hazards, Archibald was determined to keep her safe at all costs; but Samantha had inherited her father's fiery temper, and his protectiveness quickly began to chafe at her composure. One night, following a particularly bitter argument, the mage's daughter stormed out of the house and into the fields - where Jack the Lad was waiting for her. It took a few songs and all his legendary charm, but he was eventually able to sweet-talk Samantha out of her skirt and onto the ground. Unfortunately, Old Man Henderson chose that moment to follow his daughter outside, and found her having sex with Jack right in the middle of the pumpkin patch.
Shooing his daughter inside, Henderson then gave Jack his undivided attention: with the aid of a spell "older than continents," the mage cursed his farmhand to "reap what you should have grown." Suddenly gripped by indescribable pain as his body changed, Jack staggered off into the night, and didn't stop until he got a good look at his new reflection. Now Jack O'Lantern, he was doomed to watch over the pumpkins he had neglected - likely for all eternity, if the Illuminati's projections of Henderson's power are accurate.
It's not known if Jack tried to take any vengeance on Henderson, but in all likelihood, he never had the chance: soon after the curse was placed, Henderson set out on a new means of keeping his daughter safe from the outside world, resorting to butchering passers-by and using their organs in the construction of several dozen animated Scarecrows to defend his farm. However, the Scarecrows eventually turned on him, murdering Samantha and driving the mage to suicide.
The Three Quests for Jack O'Lantern
Most of Jack's history from this time onward is relatively simple: settling in one of the many pumpkin patches around the island, he would lure travelers to their deaths with will-o-wisps and butcher the corpses horrifically. He reputedly had a particular taste for murdering children, to the point that many of the island's children were warned against straying into the farms after dark. Along the way, he also acquired an inexplicable degree of popularity from some of Kingsmouth's citizens, who regularly defended Jack from town council rulings that might have destroyed him; though the council rarely agreed with the often-delusional justifications for sparing him, the Illuminati-directed council tolerated Jack's murder sprees in the interest of preserving the status quo.
However, in 2002, Jack came dangerously close to outstaying his welcome with the council: the murder of three young girls drew the attention of police from the mainland, turning the Island's private shame into a state-wide manhunt. Unwilling to risk scrutiny falling on Solomon Island's deepest secrets, the council framed a vagrant by the name of Larry Checkon for the crime and forced all local authorities into supporting the case - threatening dissenters with a demand for immediate resignation. Even better, Checkon hanged himself in his cell, ensuring that the council didn't even have to force him to confess in court.
Regardless of hiccups such as these, Jack happily continued his lifestyle of murder and trickery - until the sudden arrival of the Draug. When the Fog swept over the Island and lured the townsfolk out to sea, Jack found himself deprived of prey; though survivors remained throughout the island, they restricted themselves to heavily-fortified sanctuaries well out of his reach, and those who did venture out in search of supplies weren't likely to follow the light of the wisps. To Jack's embarrassment, he also found himself increasingly outmatched by the monsters now roaming freely across the once-populated areas: the Draug, the Filth, the Wendigo, even the ghosts of the dead quickly became more of a menace than Jack.
Its at this point in the story that the players finally become involved in the story: in Kingsmouth, Norma Creed first sets players on the trail of Jack O'Lantern in the mission "Something Wicked." Over the course of the mission, players track down the records of the 2002 murders, investigate the final testimony of Larry Checkon, and even speak to Checkon's ghost. Venturing into the pumpkin patch south of Kingsmouth, players follow the trail of clues all the way to the tree - where Jack himself unexpectedly emerges and hurries away before players can attack him.
At the behest of John Wolf in the Savage Coast of Solomon Island, players once again track down Jack during the mission "Jack's Back," battling him until he finally resorts to an emergency retreat. Eventually, the Madahando twins set players black on the trail of Jack one last time in the foothills of the Blue Mountain; there, players do battle with the Lord of the Patch one last time - and finally kill him.
Though clearly a merciless killer, Jack O'Lantern is not mindless: indeed, he has retained enough intelligence to taunt the players, spring traps for his prey, and retreat when the odds are stacked against him. It's not known how much his personality has changed since he was still commonly known as Jack the Lad, but he appears a similar sense of mischievous humor, being prone to luring travelers off the path with wisps and cackling gleefully at their misfortune.
If he feels any sorrow at having to kill innocents, he shows no sign of it in any of his brief exchanges of dialog; indeed, like many of Archie Henderson's creations, he is callous, opportunistic, sneaky, and more than a little bit of a coward - especially given his tendency to run like hell once he realizes that his opponents are tougher than expected.
- As a reward for defeating Jack O'Lantern, players receive a wearable pumpkinhead.
- Though Jack remains unquestionably dead as of "Jack Of The Lantern," a similar character makes an appearance in the Halloween exclusive mission "The Ghost Of Jack-O-Lantern." Though sporting a near-identical design to Jack the Lad, albeit grown to gigantic proportions, he is actually based on Stingy Jack, a villain from real-world Irish Folklore.