(Game Note: This is a session report for a solo game, using Eliza against the banshee villain. Since A Touch of Evil is an adventure game that lends itself well to creating a story, I tried to be a little creative in this session report)
As the previous chapter showed the 18th century was a productive time for the order in Europe. However, a history of the Sanctum of the Moebius Malus in the Americas during the 18th century is not much of a history of all. After the tragedy that was the Salem Witch Trials the order appeared to completely disappear from the American colonies. One might be tempted to believe that the American order was dissolved only to be reestablished in the late 19th century if it were not for the Eliza Letters. These letters prove that the order did not dissolve but only went into deep hiding and secrecy to prevent puritans from once again taking a legitimate witch hunt and turning it into a farce.
The Eliza Letters are a collection of letters written from a fully ordained inquisitor whose only name is listed as Eliza. These letters are all addressed to the High Inquisitor. While there is no other evidence of this in Europe or later in American history, it would appear that in the American branch of the order it at one time was standard practice to update constant progress reports about hunts and inquisitions via letters. The Eliza Letters give a remarkable glimpse into the practices of a secretive order during a little known time, and this collection of writers tells quite a story in it’s own right.
In 1801, Eliza was dispatched to the village of Shadowbrook [Footnote: There is no town in the United states known as Shadowbrook, so the location is unknown. Most likely, this town is located somewhere in New England. It may no longer exist or at some point the town changed names]. Eliza came to Shadowbrook to investigate several unexplained murders that had a strong linking to the supernatural. The first letter dated October 1st describes what Eliza found in the town:
“I have found the people of Shadowbrook to be of a most fearful disposition. Upon arriving I was greeted by a most amible Dr. Manning. The good Dr. grimly allowed me to inspect the most recent victim and the visage of horror captured on the face of the deceased is haunting. The eyes are not just dead-it as if the soul has been consumed, and I dare fear that is what is happening to these poor victims in Shadowbrook. I have a grim feeling about this place. The wind is cool and at all hours a faint and sinister laughter can be heard whispering in the breeze. The devil is clearly at work here.”
From the town Eliza set off to an inn on the outskirts of town. The journey and inquisition at the inn was successful. While it is not clear how, at the inn Eliza discovered the town priest, Reverend Harding was an apostate and traitor to the faith. The reverend was in league with the evil, and was somehow marking parishioners to be victims. The magistrate was contacted, but the reverend had already disappeared.
In the letter dated October 4th, it is revealed that what brought the order to Shadowbrook in the first place was a plea of help from a brother Darius who lived in the cloistered monastery outside of Shadowbrook. Eliza journeyed to the monastery and her letters recount what she discovered there:
“The situation in Shadowbrook is far worse than we faired. I made my way to the monastery to seek out Brother Darius. I was greeted by the head abbot who behaved most peculiarly. I did not trust the man and my suspicions were well placed. When my back was turned he attacked me with a knife. It was promptly revealed that the man was possessed by a most vile demon who referred to himself as the host. We engaged in martial combat, I triumphed and exorcised the demon. The demon had held the brothers in fear for their lives and the immediately thanked me for the service. They gifted me with a censer that I feel is imbued with the power of our Lord and I have renewed my oath of devotion to our holy cause.”
Eliza never met with Brother Darius because that night the evil struck again, leaving a victim at the inn. Eliza went to investigate the death, and she heard many tales about a wailing shriek that chilled the blood of the entire inn. Also, at the inn Eliza met one of the town elders, a Lady Handbrook, who concerned, with the well being of the people was also on the hunt for the supernatural killer. Based off the reports of the inn patrons, Eliza is able to deduce and give a name to the evil: banshee [Footnote: For a more detailed entry on banshees refer to chapter XX. When the order dealt with a great host of banshees during the Irish potato famine. In brief, banshees are demonic spirits of hate and malice that are tied to an earthly keepers. The soul of a banshee is held by another, making them soulless creatures who try to fill a hunger by devouring the souls of others]
The banshee returned to the inn the next night and attacked Eliza herself. Eliza barely survived this deadly encounter and was only saved by the devotion of Brother Darius. Eliza recounts these events in the October 6th letter.
“By the grace of God I live, after a most frightful encounter, that will no doubt chill my dreams for the rest of my days. I patrolled the grounds of the inn after nightfall, when I heard a most grievous noise. It sounded as if death itself was wailing. The shrill shriek turned my blood to ice. Without delay, a ghastly shade of a bluish hue was upon me from the sky. The banshee had the figure of a woman but beauty had left her face and her eyes burned with intense hatred. I tried to fight but I was powerless against the wraith. She gripped me and I felt the life leave me. I passed out from the ordeal. When I awoke I found myself back at the monastery. I owe my life to brother Darius. He found me in the clutches of the banshee and drove off the creature with the piety of his faith. Brother Darius is taking me through a secret passage to see Lord Handbrook and see if he can shed any light on why this evil is here.”
While in the passageway between the monastery and the manor, Eliza and Darius encountered a barrow shade in service to the banshee but their combined faith easily exorcised the ghost. Lord Handbrook, an apparent pillar of the community, did not seem to offer much help and Eliza journeyed back to the town to make a most remarkable discovery as she writes in the October 7th letter:
“I have come into the possession of a most remarkable relic. It is a runic amulet that has extraordinary power. I must confess, high inquisitor, I am troubled that the amulet does not have any marking that glorify our Lord and Savior. Yet, I do not believe the source of this amulet to be demonic. When I wield it my hands burn with righteousness, and I am sure this will be the flame that is needed to banish the evil that afflicts this place.”
It seems that a sense of evil continued to fall over the land. Night after night saw a full moon, and the air increasingly became unnaturally cold. The banshee once again struck at the inn, this time killing Lady Handbrook. Eliza journeyed back to the inn and on the road and encountered a man claiming to be the grounds keeper of the Handbrook Manor. This was a deeply troubling encounter for Eliza. She claimed the man spoke in macabre riddles that greatly troubled her. In the letter for October 9th, Eliza refused to recount the riddles and tales of the man but did share with the high inquisitor two conclusions that she came to. First, the grounds keeper was an evil man who was tied to the banshee. Second, it was clear that the grounds keeper wanted Eliza to continue her investigation at the inn. Since the man could not be trusted she turned back looking for any clues she could find in the bog. In the bog, Eliza could hear wailings of the banshee in the wind and through what she claimed, was the leading of the Spirit, followed the sound to the lake’s edge where she deduced the banshee’s lair was on the “forgotten island.”
Eliza and Darius recruited the help on Dr. Manning and Lord Handbrook and on the evening of October 10th the hunting party went to the island to confront the banshee. A terrible fight must have taken place, but the exact details of the epic struggle are a mystery. The last letter on the collection is dated October 17th and it is a short one. In this letter Eliza writes:
I am finally strong enough to write to you. On the 10th of the month, we exorcised the banshee. My intuition about the amulet was proven true. It’s holy power allowed me to wound the creature. Dr. Manning is dead. Poor Darius is dead. I must only be alive because God wills it. The banshee had its grips on me, and me on it. Holy fires burned it, while unholy ice stole my breath. All I can say is the hell spawn perished before did I. Lord Handbrook has seen to my care and when I am well enough to travel, I will come and make a full testimony on this affair.”
The “Shadowbrook affair” from the letters is a remarkable tale of heroism in the face of evil. Yet, it is only a precursor to what the Sanctum of the Moebius Malus had in store for it later in the 19th century.
Really nice job,I do my game sessions in sililiar fashion
(although not as well ).
This story nariative the game builts is one of the reasons
AToE has become my favorite Game.
Again Well done
Check out my first published board game: In the Name of Odin!
Definately the BEST way to write ATOE session reports. Have done one like this myself. This game really has it's own narrative.
Can't wait to play with the expansion.
Really awesome review. I loved reading it!