#4 – Asylum break-in and Arnoldsburg ghoul

Genius Loci and Paper Chase

18th of March 2022

Researching at the History Society in Danvers gives them more information of Hathorne Hill and its namesake, Judge John Hathorne. The asylum occupies land that was once the homestead of Judge John Hathorne, lead magistrate of the alem WitchTrials. Hathorne was personally responsible for sending nearly twenty witches to their trial, imprisonment, and death. Hathorne was the only executor never to repent for his actions.

Originally from Salem, Hathorne moved his residence to the hill in 1690. The hill was known locally as “witches’ ground” and a place where the “natives” once trucked with devils and spirits. An ancient stone disk with Pagan markings once sat atop the hill. The disk was revered by the indigenous peoples, who spoke of, “One who came from the sky,” and placed the stone, stamping out an evil spirit
that haunted the hill.

Hathorne, a stalwart Puritan, removed the disk and deliberately claimed the land for God, building his homestead upon the site. The fate of the disk (and a more detailed description of its markings) have faded from the historical record.

Although never a genial fellow, Hathorne built his reputation in Salem as a fair and even-handed magistrate. This changed dramatically soon after Hathorne build his home on the hill. The magistrate became remarkably vindictive in both
his professional and personal life, making many enemies. Hathorne persecuted supposed witches and fanned the flames of the witchcraft hysteria with shocking zeal, reaping horrific results that haunt the region to this day.

During the night Anthony awakens to fins a hulking shadowy stranger looming over his bed. The stranger has a aggressive demeanor but does not intend physical harm.

“You listen to me. I’m Andy MacBride. They know I’m out and about. They want me to fix it so you won’t come around the hospital no more. But instead, I’m telling you what I shouldn’t. So you listen good! There’s something terrible living at the hospital. It’s always been there. It’s a power that lives in the walls and the halls and the gardens. Dr. Berger is going to sacrifice your friend Larry to the

thing at the next dark of the moon. Larry don’t have much time!”

Andy MacBride, asylum escapee

Conluding that the next new moon is just two nights away, the investigators decide to enact a bold plan of busting out Larry from the asylum.

During nighttime, the use a bolt cutter to get inside the fence, and after watch the rounds, tries to avoid the orderlies on patrol. Whilst Anthony and Aaron avoids being detected, Abraham fails miserably and two orderlies are soon upon him and a fight breaks out. Getting severely beaten, the flee into the night.

The morning after they get rudely awakened by the police, who have covered all the exits. They were recognized by the orderlies since their previous visit to the asylum, and they are promptly put in jail, except Anthony who needs medical attention and is instead cuffed to bed in the local hospital.

New moon comes and passes, and Larry is most likely sacrificed and the investigators have no chance to intervene, which takes a heavy toll on Larry’s friend Aaron.

After a week in jail, the police let them out, and informs them that Dr. Berger does not intend to press charges, but recommend the investigators to not return to Danvers in the future. Anthony spends a few more weeks at the hospital, before returning to Boston.

While recuperating in Boston, they are contacted by a Proffessor Wentworth Avery, a member of The Society for the Exploration of the Unexplained (SEU), an informal, extra-curricular society based at Miskatonic University in Arkham. The investigators exploits have not been unnoticed and Proffessor Avery wants them to investigate a mystery in Arnoldsburg, Michigan, and if successful, invite them to become members of SEU.

The society have been contacted by Thomas Kimball of Michigan. It seems his house has been burglarized and some of his uncle’s favorite books have been stolen. The mystery is a little unusual, as the uncle inexplicably disappeared without a trace a year ago. Mr. Kimball would like you to find out who stole the books, return them if possible, and discover the whereabouts of his uncle and whether he is still alive.

Mr. Kimball hasn’t bothered to report the break-in to the police, as the theft of a few books is unlikely to garner their interest or resources. Mr. Kimball describes his uncle to the investigator as, “balding, with white hair, average height, and wearing round spectacles.” The investigator is also invited to stay in one of Mr. Kimball’s spare rooms in his house while investigating the case.

When searching the study in the Kimball house, a journal is found. The last entry is dated the day before Douglas Kimballvanished. This entry cryptically mentions “reaching a decision” and “joining with my friends below.” In addition, other, earlier journal entries seem to hint at a network of tunnels beneath the cemetery, inhabited by mysterious “creatures” that Douglas saw moving about the cemetery at night.

The cemetery, which i located very close to the house, is reasonably well tended, although the vegetation is quite abundant, with lots of tall bushes and ancient trees dotting the spaces between the gravestones and tombs. It’s clear the cemetery has been here for many years. As the investigator explores the grounds, they spot a gardener who is digging out weeds at the far side of the cemetery.

The gardener recalls seeing Douglas Kimball regularly in the graveyard and that, nowadays, he misses seeing him about, as he would often spend time in conversation with him. The two would talk about all manner of topics, from the
weather to politics, and Jefferson enjoyed hearing Kimball’s stories about foreign lands. The caretaker also points out Kimball’s favorite tombstone, the one that he used to always sit on while reading his books.

The old tomb has been worn smooth by age and weather, making it a perfect spot to perch and read a book. It’s impossible, due to the weathering, to work out who is buried beneath the tomb. Searching around the tombstone they notice strange tracks. which look to have been made by man-sized bare feet that end in cloven hooves rather than toes. If the investigator wishes to follow these tracks through the cemetery they can, finding they lead to the door of a mausoleum.

Abraham forces the door open, and is met with a horrible stench released from within, and he blackouts for short while from the miasma. Inside the mausoleum, they find a “hand dug” tunnel leading down below the earth.

They decide to go down into the tunnel, the and wander around a maze of earthen passages that seem to crisscross the cemetery; the whole escapade is somewhat scary in the darkness. They crawl and wander around the tunnels until they grow exhausted and must rest. During the rest they encounter a ghoul, looking much like the description of Douglas Kimball. The ghoul raises a hand as to signal his freindly demeanor.

Douglas says that he was just too tired of his mundane existence among humans. The only thing he wanted from life was to be left alone, able to read whenever he liked, but other humans kept making demands on him. Living as a ghoul, his life is great. He does not need money. He does not have to dress for dinner. He does not have to meet people, except at mealtimes. He can read whenever he wants, day or night. But the other ghouls are shutting down this entrance, so he had
one last night to try and get more of his books before he and they left for good. There is so much to see and experience in the world below that he is planning to write his own book about his experiences.

He asks the investigators not to reveal to his nephew that he is still alive (in a manner of speaking). He then creeps inside the mausoleum and descends into the tunnel. His final action is to pull a large stone slab over the entrance to seal it behind him.

The investigators decide to honor Douglas’ wishes, tell his nephew that the burglaries will stop and returns to Boston.