The Investigators of Down Cthulhu

The Ghost-Witch of Salem

The investigation of a ghost leads us through time and place

Once in Salem, we split our investigative forces to cover more ground. Atwater inspected the body, and was sure the girl died of pure fright. Her notebook, however, was missing. The police insisted there was no such item on her person. Jon and I visited the witch’s graves outside of the cemetary, and disvovered that the small plot is not actually hallowed ground. If there is indeed a ghost, we thought that we may need to relocate them or ritually salt the remains.
Theo, Jack, Will and Cassandra visited the Historical Society and found it to be of 2 stories, a local museum of occult history in Salem run by 2 old women, likely in their sixties. They both stood behind the counter and immediately requested the 10 cent fee, which all paid, and Will began to converse with the 2 women. Behind them, on the wall, hung a painting titled ‘The Execution of M. Booth’, showing a horrible old hag being led to the gallows.
Will “So this is just a museum of the old town, and about the witches?”
“Just about the witches. We have been interested in the subject our whole lives. We started the society for people that are interested in the witches. Membership is $1.00. If you should wish to join you would be member #3.”
Will “What do you get for it?”
“You get a membership card, and a year’s free admission, and if we ever have a newsletter you would receive that as well.”
Will “Once my friend Atwater shows up we will pay for some memberships.”
They were very excited about the prospect, and they then introduced themesleves by name, Henrietta and Olivia Thatcher.
Jack “What got you interested in witches?”
Olivia “When we were young girls, our mother pointed out an old house on Lyle St. and said it was the house that Mercy Booth had lived in. About 20yrs ago the area was torn down and new buildings were erected.”
Henrietta “One other thing got me more interested. About 20 yrs ago, I know I saw a ghost in Fairfax cemetary.”
Will “Really?”
“Yes. It was the day we supervised the workers installing the plaque on Mercy’s grave. I looked up for a second and saw a blue shimmering figure by the Crawford mausoleum.”
Olivia “There’s no way she saw a ghost. Everyone knows ghosts don’t come out in the day time.”
Will “Have other people seen ghosts?”
Olivia “People think they have seen ghosts there all the time. The ones who have seen it in the daytime? I’m sure they are mistaken. At night, well, possibly, but we aren’t that interested in ghosts. We’re interested in the witches.”
Theo “Do you believe Booth and those women were witches?”
“Of course.”
Will “I didn’t think Mercy was so old at that time. I thought she was younger.”
“No, she was old.”
At this point they had a walk around the place, and Will feels that not much that they had as museum pieces was really all that old. The brooms were of more modern make, and the ’witch’s cauldron’ couldn’t have been much more than 5 years old. Jack asked them about it, and they said they accidentally broke the original. How they did not specify. They did, however, have some old paintings and newspapers. Will and Theo of course found information of merit in the local record.
-article from Salem Globe, July 1872: Schill construction companies destruction of Lyle St. homes. Boston Univ. Professor Haggarty, a resident of Salem, discovered a hidden room beneath one house which containing strange writings. The Prof. soon after declared it of no historic value and the demolition continued to its end.
-Periodic stories of people disappearing in and near the cemetary.

We all rejoined one another, and had 3 important pieces: the house on Lyle St, the prof., and the construction company.
Will “Haggarty, we need to talk to. He’s either a moron or he’s covering something up. There’s no way as an expert he would dismiss the find. We also need to find a way into the room and investigate it ourselves.”
Again we split up: Jack, Jon, Theo and myself to Lyle St; Will, Cassandra and Atwater to Haggarty’s residence.

An elderly woman answered the door of the professor’s house, and when told they would like to speak to the him she replied that her husband has been dead for a number of years. He died in 1873, she said.
Will “Do you happen to have any of his research?”
She invited them in “Well, why do you ask?”
Will “I’m a writer for the NY Times.”
“My husband was a teacher and a writer. He was writing a book when he died. Something I think about witches in Salem.” She knew no details though. Will told her he was doing his own research on local witch lore and came across her late husbands name. After some light conversation, Atwater got around to asking how Haggarty died.
“He was murdered. His body was found just outside Fairfax Cemetary. The police said it must have been bothered by wild dogs because there were bite marks all over it. The last night he went to the cemetary for research, he asked if I would go. I wasn’t feeling well, I had been sick, so I didn’t go. Of course, I only think that he would be alive today if I had gone.”
After Atwater spoke to her as only a doctor of Atwater’s quality can, she allowed them access to Haggarty’s notes. 3 main facts were gleened:
-Mercy’s coven was accused of over a dozen murders, though no bodies found. Mercy believed to have met with the devil, and witnesses put her in the company of a tall black man. Also, seen walking with a ‘terrible familiar’ by an old man of questionable sanity, “shaped like a barrel with ridges and a starfish where it’s head should be”. Theo believed the description to be of an ancient race from the Mythos who ruled all the earth long before mankind. “It is rumored they were destroyed by beings known as Shaggoths, who then battled with the Deep Ones of Cthulhu, which we have seen face to face, until R’yleh sank. Their last city on land was supposedly in Antarctica, but otherwise they retreated into the Atlantic Ocean. Some say they still exist there waiting for the stars to be right, others that they escaped into the future because they knew the earth to be doomed.”

On Lyle St. we found a community that, while built to be of middle class, was now already a rundown area. On the street we saw a fruitvender, a milkwagon, and another wagon with a waterpump. From it ran a hose into the basement window of 1412 Lyle St. Smelling something fishy, I asked after Jon hailed them “What’s going on here, fine fellows?”
“We come out here ever few months to pump out the sewer drain in this building. Evidently the pipe is cracked somewhere below. After a while the tennants complained of the smell and the landlord is too cheap to fix it.”
Myself “What exactly do you pump out of it?”
“Just raw sewage.”
It did indeed reek terribly. At first, we noticed to our relief only the smell of sewage. As we waited for the men to complete their task, another scent became apparent. A stronger scent partially cloaked by the sewage but familiar enough to us to recognize. It was undoubtedly, and to our great despair, the scent of Ghoul.
The true horror was close at hand. Jon and I did not relish going into such potential danger by ourselves.
Myself “I am beginning to fear a giant hive of ghouls under this entire area of New England.”
Into the house we went, making directly for the basement, wet, cracked and filthy from the draining. The drain pipe was cracked. A search revealed no hidden passages, so we decided to turn to measures of more brute force. After acquiring a sledgehammer, Jon got to work first and we took turns. Soon enough our work revealed an old, long unused room below. The stench of ghoul grew exponentially as we worked the floor. Shining my bullseye lantern, we saw a room with walls coverd in mosaic tiles. Jon led the way down, and he and I began a search while Jack stood guard. After a few minutes I found that part of the western wall opened inward with a push. Another room lay beyond, dark, dusty and damp, stinking but without sewage. I shined my light around the room, Jon directly at my side. The light showed an empty and open wooden coffin as well as a table with a single chair. Propped up in the chair sat the dry, desicated remains of a body. The dried tongue was exposed, head hung at an unnatural angle, a black book underneath one skeletal hand beside which lay some kind of skin rolled like a parchment. As I came upon the sight scanning across the room, it caused me more than a start and I dropped my light, lucky that it didn’t break. After I recovered myself we entered, leaving Jack on guard in the outer room.
Jon believes the skin to be human, and written upon it was a contract between Booth and the ghouls dated 1692. For the ghouls part, they were to make sure her body came to rest here (therefore fulfilled). For Mercy Booth’s part, she promised to deliver to the ghouls unnamed individuals whom they sought. Next Jon inspected the book. It contained the writings, if one could call it writing, of Mercy Booth. It was written in Old English. Jon was able to get the gist of it, sure that it described the disgusting worship of Nyogtha by Mercy and her witches, the same Nyogtha of the Bishop family (who also run with ghouls), which included among other blasphemies the sacrifice of children, and her attempts to call upon unnamable things for unexplained reasons. It took him a solid hour to decipher what he could.
Not having encountered much detail on Nyogtha as of yet, Theo was able to fill us in to some extent from his recent readings: The Necronomicon refers to it as The Dweller In Darkness, though that title is also given to Nyarlathotep. Nyogtha is also The Thing that Should Not Be, brother to Nyarlathotep. Summoned to earth in caves and fissures. Supposedly seen by sorcerers, strives for terror and destruction. Only with the looped cross of the vash firosh and the takoon elixir may he be driven away.
As we huddled around the desk, a black whole appeared in one of the walls, noticed by Jon as Theo gave his discourse. Out came Jon’s cross and sword. A blue light entered the room through it and enterd the body in the chair. A blue light like that seen in the cemetary.
The spirit of Booth had entered her physical body, and we all instantly prepared for combat. The sight of the corpse fiercely standing in full glory was terrifying, but we all stood firm. It was slow to react so we unleashed our firepower upon her…it. I fired a barrel from my shotgun from 10’ away and though I am sure I struck it, it caused no ill effect. Jack came charging into the room as Theo struck it in the chest-5. John sheathed his sword and drew his shotgun as the creature made its first move. She raised a single hand, and out of it a black…thing…struck our at Theolonius (Wither). Theo struck her again-10 as she left herself open, as with a supernatural dodge he mostly evaded the arcane energy, only glancing off of one shoulder-16 but still causing a terrible pain. It did not take us any longer to know retreat was the best option in the situation. Theo made it out first, myself behind, followed by Jon. Jack, near the door still, waited for us to get out before slamming the door behind us. We stopped for a moment, hearing only dead silence on the other side of the door. Barely visible to Theo as I reloaded my shotgun and Jon watched the door was a red color visible through some parts of the mosaic. Jon and Theo began to wipe away at the surface, finding a red band of arabic wrapping around the room. Theo, fluent in Arabic, was able to read it. Even then he could not really understand it, as it spoke of the Lore. Jon stopped him in a hurry after Theo had read one wall.
Jon “That’s a spell to summon Nyogtha.”
Since we did not wish to summon Nyogtha, we decided it was time to go. No sooner had we moved for the hole we had smashed but Jack tripped over a piece of metal protruding from the floor, discovering by accident a man hole cover. A “ghoul hole” as Jack so elegantly put it. Not wanting to risk getting in over our head, we left the house with only the rolled skin-parchment and the book, leaving Booth undestroyed, and rejoined Will, Cassandra and Atwater at the hotel.

After dinner, we spent more time on the texts and newspapers we had found. Elder things are said to have come to earth many, many millenia ago and seeded the earth with life in order to create races of slaves;they are worshipped by degenerate cults still. Another race fought them, perhaps the Shaggoths or another known as Yith. They slowly degenerated, and had bread the Shaggoths as slaves who later rose and destroyed them. One of these Elder Things must be the creature of the starfish-head seen with Booth.
But who is the Black Man? It reminds one of Dark Pharaoh, which means perhaps Nyarlathotep? We can not know.
We stragegized into the evening. The body in the basement seemed too much for us to handle at the moment.
Cassandra “We have 2 options really. Meet Mercy again, or investigate the cemetary and her grave.”
Jack “I think we should defile her grave.”
Cassandra “I think that’s a great idea.”
That night Jon, Theo and Jack paid a visit to the grave. Of course, there was no body within, as it is in the Lyle St. basement.

Next Day

After breakfast we made our way to the cemetary, the lot of us. Walking the grounds for about half an hour, we smelled ghoul from around one crypt in particular. A quick search easily revealed a whole in the ground behind some bushes against the back wall of the crypt. It reaked of ghoul. We, quiet as possible, broke into the tomb and found the bodies missing. We decided to wire Archer and Friday about it, for them to check as soon as possible if the like was going on in Boston and NY, apart from the Bishop cemetary. Both would take the alert as of the utmost import, and came wired back after dinner with the news we feared: there are many missing bodies. As I feared and wrote so recently, the entire area of New England must be a honeycomb of ghouls.
Will “That’s horrifying.”
Myself “How to even deal with that?”
Theo “It’s such a huge area. The ghouls must be innumerable.”
Cassandra “The only thing to do is to block up any that we find, or boobytrap them.”
Theo “They can simply come up somewhere else. Futile.”

Over lunch, we came to a plan to attack and destroy Booth:
Theo “Could we get the body out before the spirit came? Then take it back and concecrate the groung.”
Cassandra “It didn’t follow us before, but it might if we did that. And it came as soon as someone touched the body. What about destroying the body right where it sits? Get everything ready…”
Will “Get a plan ready before we touch it and draw her in.”
Cassandra “Surround it first.”
Myself “We must use a conflagration. Make it nasty, quick and all consuming.”
Casandra “While its burning, or after, you’ll have to ritually salt the bones and dowse it with holy water.”
Theo “Jon should know the details of such a procedure of salt and holy water. What do we burn her with? And what’s the easiest recepticle to dowse her with?”
Will and Atwater “Oil.”
Cassandra “Whatever it is will have to burn fast. And bring something like a torch to light it.”
Jack “We need glass bottles, of maybe whale oil.”
Myself “We had barrels of the stuff at Kingsport, but more difficult to come across here.”
Jack “Kingsport…(sigh).”
Theo “Terrible.” That day is and always will be a massive weight upon our memories.
Myself “We should see if we can’t find a few flares, like we had at the lighthouse. That would be sure to light our flammables fast. We should also dowse the body in the oil before hand, and perhaps a few feet around it.”
We all finished our meal and broke up to collect our necessities. Jon retrieved the holy water and readied the proper prayers; Jack and Theo the oil and necessary salt; while Atwater and Myself acquired the glass bottles. Will and Cassandra were able to procure a few of the flares.

We went to Lyle St. and after Jon detailed the sequence necessary we entered the accursed room. Atwater and myself held a large cask of kerosene lamp oil; Will with the salt; Jack leveled his shotgun, ready to fight in case it came to that, with Theolonius beside him. Jon aimed to fire the flare before delivering the rites to the burning corpse. The holywater in his possession would be the last step once it was all over. Cassandra watched from the doorway ready to assist with magic.

Then, Atwater and I emptied the kerosene onto the remains after piling a ring of debris around it to contain the flow over the floor toward any of us. As we did so, the black whole opened…
Myself “Quickly!”
We finished in time, and Will began flinging the salt onto the corpse as Jon read. After a moment, Jon fired the flare and Atwater and myself aimed our own fireams as the corpse went ablaze. The ghostly light entered the body nonetheless and it stood up, all in flames. Will frantically flung handfulls of salt onto it as Jon calmly and professionally continued the prayers. Nervous anticipation gripped us all, we could not be certain the fire would be enough to destroy it.
Amongst the flames, her voice rose above in a chant. Theolonius then screamed over the noise of fire and preacher “We need to finish her! She’s summoning Nyogtha! She’s almost halfway through”
I yelled in exasperaton “She just stood up!”
We were lucky. The fire had done its job in time, her body melting away into a disgusting husk. The blue spirit was spat from the muck in the form of her body. She clawed at Atwater with her hands, but to no avail. Then she cast a spell in despiration, but to no effect. With a wail she fled through the dark hole in the wall. I rushed to it “We need to follow her!”
Will “Do you smell ghoul?”
Myself “No.”
Will “(sigh)”.
Wang and Jack led the way, disappearing as they went through.
Jon “Don’t panic, I know what happened. This is a gate. Theo and I read of these in the Necronomicon. They were transported somewhere.”
After a moments pause, I went next followed closely by the others. The instantaneous trip was disorienting and psychologically troubling. We all appeared in a room of large stone blocks, well worked and banded with geometrics and mosaic artwork. 2 exits were visible, one a large open passageway, and another leading to a balcony under a cloudy gray sky. In the center of the room hung the black whole through which we came, visible from only one side. Looking at it gave us all goosebumes, the unnatural thing that it was. No sign of the ghost of Mercy Booth.
The mosaics showed a few different and terrible creatures. One band told a story of barrel-shaped beings warring with a race of octopoid creatures within caverns: Eldar Things fighting something else. Another band showed Eldar Things fighting another, different octopoid creatures. Jon and Theo concentrated on studying the artwork, psychologically damaging as it was, while the rest of us went onto the balcony.
Jon and Theo learned much. The 2nd story told of the Shaggoths warring with the spawn of Cthulhu. In the end, the Shaggoths defeated them when the stars were perfeclty misaligned (for Cthulhu that is), resulting in the sinking of Cthulhu’s city of R’yleh and his falling into dream. The first detaied a war with their former slaves, the Shaggoths, following their uprising.
The air outsisde was humid and hazey. There was a sun in the sky, and it looked to be our own sun. The balcony was bordered by a low wall with a decorated metal railing. At intervals sat small statues of creatures from the decorations, one being broken and missing. The statue from Haggarty’s was a perfect fit. Was he here? Why? Did he become a servant of Booth? If so why was he killed? Will and I reached one conclusion: Haggarty’s wife was to be killed, perhaps a sacrifice, and when she didn’t show up Haggarty was murdered instead. Through the haze we could see an amazing sight, huge buildings built like spires, connected by impossible arched bridges. The ground was much obscured, though we could see movement between the spires, fields of fern-like vegetation, and hear whistling noises from below. Leaning against the wall, we found a metallic weapon, similar to a rifle. Will and I inspected it, and it appeared broken. It did seem to follow some basic principles of science, but it was not in our skill to repair. While we were doing this, a huge creature like a pterodactyl swooped nearby and down into the haze. To our amazement, it carried a huge stone block!
Will “Let’s grab that thing and get out of here.”
Cassandra “We need to hunt Booth down first.”
Will “(sigh)”
Myself “How do we fight a ghost?”
Will “She’s not a ghost here, I think.” We then went back inside.
Theolonius “We are in a city of the Eldar Things.”
Jack “They are all dead right?”
THeo “Yes. Unless there is some city under the ocean where they still live, they have been dead for thousands of years.”
The city we were in was certainly the Mountains in Antarctica, only long, long ago, and I recalled the rumors of a lost city there in the newspapers some time ago. The rifle was also in the murals, used by the Eldar Things against both slaves, as a sort of cattle prod, and as a weapon in their wars…A Shaggoth Prod. Jon identified what seemed to be a dial reading a symbol which was likely the number 20, perhaps indicated a number of charges.
Finally we went through the archway and soon enough came to another room. In the room stood Mercy Booth as a young woman, no longer a ghost but now a recognizable living human form as Will had suspected. Next to her, right in front of our very eyes, were 3 massive Eldar Things, one held a Prod.
In a way that is difficult to describe, of piping and whistling noise, they were able to speak our language. One came slightly forward and spoke in Mandarin “What do you humans want here” as the other 2 stood obviously on guard.
Theo “We came for that woman.”
“This woman is under our protection. She came through a gate opened by the Dark Pharaoh.”
Theo "Are you allied with Nyarlathotep?
“The Eldar Things fear no one, bu we are wary of him.”
Theo “So you protect her because she is with him?”
They seemed to start to argue, doubtless over how to destroy us or let us go.
Will “This is our cue to get out of here.”
Booth then joined the argument between the Things “No! You can’t destroy the portal, I’ll be trapped here forever.”
Will “Yes, let them trap her here.”
Theo “You can keep her since she loves Nyarlathotep. We will leave and you can close the portal.”
Booth then turned to us “Wait, I can grant you power beyond your dreams. Take me through with you, find me a suitable female to inhabit, and devour the soul of, and I will make you my trusted servitors.”
Myself “Sure, like the professor you mean.”
Booth “He was supposed to bring me a body, and he failed. So I had my servants the ghouls kill him. But you, you I could make princes of the earth, under the Great Prince, the Great Pharaoh, Nyarlathotep. For as sure as you stand here he will come back once again. I tried to inhabit the girl, but it gave her frail body a heart attack. I was more than it could bare. But you all, surely could find me a more suitable body.”
We knew it to be ideal to abandon her here, stranded to die ages ago.
One of the Things said in Chinese “Brothers, we need to close the gate as they say. But we need to kill them!”
We quickly decided our best bet was the simplest one, to flee as fast as possible, knowing that even if we made it through, the Things would strive to keep Booth here for the Dark Pharaoh and then close the gate behind us forever.
Theo to the lead Thing “I have seen your kind before. I have met you in the dreamworld once and learned from your kind.(card)” The 2 of them spoke briefly, this time on more seemingly friendly terms. The lead Thing now seemed quite disposed to us, as did the second, insisting we were pointless to waste time with (card). Only one held out but was overruled by the other two.
2nd “These harmless creatures are not threat. We should not waste our time with them.”
The lead “This one already knows of us, and did us no harm. We shall let them go.”
Mercy “Yes, let them go and leave the portal open.”
The lead Thing “We do not want to anger the Dark Pharaoh, for he created the gate. We know not if he needs it still.”
It then came down to Will versus Booth to convince them of the fate of the portal, and Will won out, explaining the exposed basement and the fire attracting people to the area. That more and more people will find out about it.
Booth “Die humans!” She quickly went for the table behind her as if she expected something to be there, but there was nothing. She then began chanting the same spell as in the basement, to summon Nyogtha. At that, she was prodded by the Eldar Thing! Apparently, they had no use for Nyogtha at the moment. We saw our opening and fled the scene for the gate. Jack was first through, followed by Will. Jon came last, and no sooner was his foot through the other side did it close behind him. It was so close, it took the bottom of the sole of his boot off as it went!

Our last act before returning to our hotel for the night was convincing the owner of the house on Lyle St. to simply fill the basement with cement together with a new sewage pipe to the house, in order to rid himself of the sewage flooding and the expense of constant draining. Will, Atwater and I invited the landlord out to dinner this evening, and he was surprisingly easily convinced, tired of the constant annoyance. It also helped that we were able to pool a good amount of money for him to put toward the project.

Tomorrow morning, we leave Salem for Boston.

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