Shortly after the successful conclusion of The Haunting (see Case 001 – The Haunting), Rupert Merriweather’s health had taken a serious turn for the worst, with the elderly professor suffering from a series of strokes.
He gathered the investigators together for a meeting around his bedside, knowing full well that the end was near and that they would probably never see the old man alive again, they hurried to his side. Where the old man, after dismissing his wife and son, proceeded to tell them of the real reason that he had gathered them together in the first place.
In the days of his youth, he and some fellow students became involved in what they believed to be an innocent exploration of the occult. Led by a slightly older man named Marion Allen, the six men purchased an old farm house, just outside of the village of Denham, near to the town of Uxbridge to the northwest of London. There, playfully calling themselves the Dark Brotherhood, they could conduct their seances and psychic research in privacy. The unexpected result of their last experiment was the summoning of some evil force into the world. Instead of attempting to expel the thing, the young men abandoned the old house, confident that the magic which brought the evil to this world would keep it confined to the vacant house. However the spell that bound the being to the house lasted only as long as the casters lived. Rupert Merriweather was the last of the group and he feared that upon his death the thing would go free and wreak havoc on the countryside.
Merriweather gestured to an innocuous metal box on the nightstand beside his bed, and implored the group to take the box, informing them that all of the aid he could give them was inside it.
It was decided that Edith, Jonathan Asbatch and Walter Raleigh would undertake this mission, whilst Takeshi Takemori would stay with Merriweather and the others would try to make themselves available should they be needed.
Inside the box, they discovered a yellowed envelope containing the deed s to the house as well as the key to its lock, a small sarcophagus-shaped gold box of ancient design and a slim journal bound in leather containing a record of the Dark Brotherhood’s activities.
The ornate box opened easily, but was empty, however Jonathan translated a series of hieroglyphs that were on the outside (translation below), but a further series that were carved on the inside were certainly not Egyptian and bore a striking resemblance to writings from the lost continent of Mu, that have yet to be translated.
“Seeker of Wisdom, Servant (son) of Yugr (Yoag) Setheth,
Deliverer of the people (slaves) of the water, Bearer of the
spirits of Nar-Loth-hotep,
child of Thoth, Seeker of Wisdom.”
Little was known about the box, however scholars believed that it may have been the possession of the little-known Nophru-Ka, a would-be usurper of the Egyptian throne who lived sometime during the XIVth Dynasty.
It was supposed to have been given to Nophru-Ka by the gods and was said to contain spirits that Nophru-Ka could call upon to serve him. The sarcophagus had actually contained a piece of unpolished amber encasing a trapped insect.
For years the box had been owned by a noble family in Britain, but it was stolen in a burglary in 1838 and had not been seen since.
Bound in plain black leather, the Merriweather Journal entries were dated from June 1843 to March 1844.
- The group of friends playfully calling themselves the Dark Brotherhood, held their first meeting in the Spring of 1843. Rupert Merriweather became the recording secretary. The members numbered six including Marion Allen, the founder and their nominal leader.
- In June of 1843 they purchased an old farmhouse outside Denham, a place where they could conduct their experiments in privacy. Representing themselves as a student literary fraternity, they cleaned and furnished the place while Marion Allen carved special warding signs over the wooden doors and windows. At the time, the others were amused at such precautions.
- A series of experiments, innocent and apparently ineffective attempts to contact the spirit world, were then detailed.
- An entry dated February of 1844 noted Marion Allen’s acquisition of an artefact, purportedly Egyptian, described as a small sarcophagus of gold with a hinged lid. Inside was a large piece of amber entrapping a specimen of some unknown species of anthrpod. Allen was excited. The box corresponded to a description he found in an ordinary reference volume in the British Museum library.
- Allen said that in another book, some thick Latin tome, the title of which was forgotten, was an explanation of the purported powers of the box. The small animal trapped inside the amber was said to contain a friendly spirit and guide to the spirit world.
- A date was set to conduct a ceremony intended to summon this spirit creature – a Saturday night in the middle of March.
We begin the ceremony as Marion instructed, according to that described in his book. A fire is set in the fireplace and a pentagram chalked on the floor, marked with appropriate symbols and illuminated by two black tapers placed near the centre, flanking the piece of amber with its entrapped spirit. The others sit in a circle while I, the designated “watcher” who guards for malevolent spirits sit in the far corner of the room.
Marion throws a handful of powder in the fire, producing an evil-smelling smoke and dampening the flames which now burn a sputtering green and brown. Those seated begin the Latin chant Marion Allen has transcribed from his book.
After nearly two hours I see a trail of smoke circling up from the piece of amber. Its surface seems to be bubbling, melting. Could this be it? Have we finally achieved success? I can see a form-
It is the following day. We have finished with our plans and have sworn a pact to never speak of what happened last night. We have satisfactorily explained the death of Robert, and in some manner the madness of Harold. The inspector accepts the explanation of a carriage accident – we planned it well. Robert’s neck was broken in the fall, we told him. Harold struck his head on a rock when the horse’s leg broke and the carriage rolled. Would it be that it was only that. For the rest of us, we will be forever changed by what we experienced last night.
The thing formed in the centre of the pentagram, shapeless, nearly invisible. Its terrible voice should have given us a clue but we were foolish. It spoke, then Marion cast that damned powder on the spirit, the Dust of Ibn-Ghazi he calls it, and that’s when we could see it.
Words cannot describe the faceless thing with a thousand maws. It roiled and bubbled, never fully revealing itself. So terrifying was its aspect that I sat as though frozen to the floor, the pen falling from my nerveless fingers. Cecil and Marion seemed as lifeless as I, whilst a short, sharp cry issued from Crawford’s mouth. Robert, however rose to his feet and before anyone could stop him, stepped forward as though to embrace our horrible guest. With its arms, or those appendages that seemed most like arms, it took hold of poor Robert and twisted his head around as though it was a doll’s head. The lifeless corpse was then thrown back in Harold’s lap and that’s when he began that damnable shrieking – the shrieking that hadn’t stopped even after we handed him over to the inspector’s men.
We still had a chance, apparently. Marion now believes that if we had kept our wits, we could have reversed the chant and eventually forced back the creature to wherever it came from. But Crawford panicked and, mistakenly believing that it would dispel the creature, reached forward and destroyed part of the pentagram, breaking its effectiveness. Released from that binding symbol, the thing – with a screech that could only have been unholy satisfaction – fled the house, disappearing out the window as a roaring, screaming wind of boiling colours.
Marion believes that the thing could still be destroyed, or at least dispelled, but none of us who remain have the stomach for such an undertaking. It is believed that the spell we cast inextricably binds the thing to the house and it is true that when we went back a few days later to retrieve our things we heard it bumping about in the attic above our heads. The warding signs so cheerfully carved by Marion Allen during better times – times that seem so long ago – apparently are effective and bar the thing entry except into the attic of the house.
- The next entries were the names of those belonging to the Dark Brotherhood, followed by the dates of their deaths, all by the same hand but in various inks.
i.Robert Menkin, March 1844
ii.Harold Copley, August 1844
iii.Marion Allen, August 1845, by the side was a newspaper article (see below)
iv.Crawford Harris, January 1877
v.Cecil Jones, March 1886
Newspaper Article, August 1845
A MURDER AT THE DOCKS
BRISTOL – The body of Mr. Marion Allen, late of Chelsea, London, was discovered early this morning near the docks. A victim of foul play, the man was identified by local witnesses who said that Mr. Allen had been seen in the locale the evening before. Although robbery was the apparent motive, police report that the victim’s tongue had been cut out. Marion Allen had reportedly gone to police earlier this week claiming that he was being followed and that he feared foe his life. He said his shadowy pursuers were after an Egyptian artefact which he no longer possessed.
Final Journal Entry 1890
I gravely fear that which I and my colleagues have loosed upon this countryside. Nothing of consequence has yet taken place but with my death the bonds will be broken and the thing then freed to come and go as it pleases. Lives and souls not yet taken already lie heavy on my conscience. The method of delivering the thing out of this world is still in that accursed house, the translation made by Marion Allen. I am not strong enough to take on the task, but I have gathered about me a group of men and women who perhaps are, the Corbitt affair suggests that they may have the capabilities to deal with the situation. Should they fail me, may God have mercy on my soul. I just hope that they will forgive an elderly man for putting them in this situation and for asking them to finish what I could not__
Travelling to Denham via train, the investigators decided to stay at the inn in the village owned by Mr. and Mrs. Peters, where they heard the rumours about the old farmhouse on the edge of Baker’s Wood and also learnt of the recent disappearance of Mrs. McPhirter the wife of one of the farmers.
Deciding to investigate the farmhouse, they discovered that it was an early 18th Century design. Outside in the long grass, they discovered a recently dead badger outside, its heart neatly eaten out. Inside it was discovered that the place had not been properly occupied for a long time, although there was some sign of recent occupation, probably a tramp who had been sleeping rough. Indeed both Walter and Jonathan soon discovered a tramp hiding out in the basement, who attacked Walter with a chair leg, but was shot dead in the back by Jonathan. Edith decided that upon the conclusion of their business, that they ought to inform the police.
In the front room, an old cigar box contained a sheaf of yellowed papers informing the investigators what they needed to do in order to dispel the beast, also inside the box was a small metal canister containing a coarse, brownish powder and a small wooden box with a sliding lid holding a small amount of a silvery talc-like substance, both of which would be needed to dispel the beast.
Heading back to the inn, it was decided that more help would be needed to conduct the ritual and so a telegram was sent to London asking for aid. Responding to the call were Bob Shire, Lilith Harrington and Shemus Moriarty, who upon their arrival informed the others that Merriweather had passed away.
The investigators prepared for the ritual, with Walter taking up the role as designated watcher and the others taking up the chant in their positions around the circle. During the night, they heard noises coming from the attack as the beast attempted to put them off the chanting, they were also attacked by the reanimated corpses of the tramp and Mrs. McPhirter, which were both quickly dispatched. Then the beast’s howling was amplified as it appeared in the circle. Seeing it Bob panicked and losing control of his senses fled out of the house and into the night. Running in a blind panic for several days until he finally came back to his senses not for from Peterborough.
Whilst the majority of the investigators had been interrupted in their chant at some point or other, Lillith continued to chant, oblivious to the events that were occurring around her and so consequently the beast was eventually sent back to whichever hell it had originally come from.