In this series of posts, I will document the story of our Betrayal: Legacy campaign, chronicling the unhappy history of five families unable to escape from their ties to the House on Haunted Hill.
Chapter One: A Brooch
Twenty-eight years had passed since Tobias Goldstein claimed the deed to the House on Haunted Hill. Leaving the house in the care of his kindred, Tobias sought to distance himself from the town and earn his way in the world by enlisting in the King’s Army. He returned to the town with wife and child, a veteran of King William’s War who wanted nothing more than to live quietly. Alas, the memory of a town such as this would not relent – not with Martha Luther, wife of the wealthiest man in these parts, making trouble daily for Tobi. Her younger sister Eloise had vanished up on the Hill that same night so long ago, and she was determined to ruin him. Mrs. Goldstein and her child were sent away for their safety, while Tobias grew more and more paranoid with each night that the townspeople skulked in his woods. He knew the dissolute ways of Charles Edison, whose grandfather Tuck had been the moral pillar of the community – a stone flung at the head of that wastrel would convince him to leave well enough alone. The precious chalice, locked in the kitchen… Surely Edison meant to steal it. Mrs. Luther would surely have put him up to such a task.
Nor was Martha the only sister out for revenge for a missing family member. Thomasin’s older sister Eleanor had also married well, living for a time in the city with her husband Mr. Brittenridge. She fancied herself a scholar, and had come out asking rude and improper questions. Nevermind that her suspicions were correct – let the past lie dead. As for Delia Fuchstag, the daughter of Peggy’s brother was obviously just as involved with questionable practices as her sister had seemed to be – imagine, a woman claiming to be a medical practitioner. Witchcraft, certainly. Of course, such a collection of unsavory visitors put Tobi on his heels with dread, and he fled upstairs as they began to approach the House…
Tobi had hoped to find a weapon with which to drive off the intruders, but became frightened by the sound of his own clock, ticking and tocking enough to drive anyone mad. Charles was the first to break into the house, turning right to enter the room that had once been the hearth – now rebuilt into a kitchen. The valuable chalice was his prize. Eleanor followed, with Martha close behind. With the woods proving fruitless, Delia moved to join them. None were keen to explore the basement, not even Tobi, concerned that he might be cornered. Eleanor discovered Eloise’s old crossbow and considered offering it to Martha. The older woman, however, had seen something suspicious in the woods and run outside. At the Hanging Tree, Martha discovered a brooch, and was confronted by the spectre of a Viking warrior.
An unearthly roar of triumph and rage warned the others, who gathered with Tobi in fear for their lives as Martha stalked toward the House. Hurriedly, they prepared traps to slow the older woman, over 50 years in age but possessed of a berserker strength and a lust for blood. A secret passage was discovered under the bed in the upstairs bedroom, but Tobi warned the others that it would only lead to the basement crawlspace – no meaningful escape from the madwoman. As Martha pursued Delia inside the House, Eleanor fled outside to lay a path of traps in the woods, where she was confronted by an ominous wolf that glared at her with unearthly red eyes before vanishing into the forest.
Charles slipped out of the House and ran to the nearby pasture, where he hoped to find a pitchfork to use as a weapon. Instead, he discovered a flintlock pistol, a remnant of Tobi’s days in the war – but here, too, he tripped over a ghastly discovery. A shallow grave lay beneath the pasture, and what Charles discovered was his own grandfather’s burial mask. His cry of fright drew Martha, who was barely slowed by his trap and beat him to death with her bare hands while he was still trying to aim the pistol. Finding no weapon with which to harm the possessed old woman, Delia attempted to slip out of the house to search outside, followed by Tobi. Martha caught up with Delia on the front steps of the house as Tobi ran past, knocking her to the ground and roaring with violent fury as she pummeled the younger woman into a bloody pulp.
The Viking’s fury abated little as trap after trap fired. Fueled by the brooch’s trapped rage and the chorus of ghosts from those slain in the woods nearly 30 years ago, Martha gave chase to the remaining two, sustaining wounds from the booby traps and her sister’s crossbow, Wolfsbane, without flinching. She caught Eleanor by the pond in the woods and snapped her neck, Tobi catching the crossbow as she threw it with her final breath. Alone, injured, and frightened, Tobi fled back toward the House. The berserk woman gave chase, her body nearly broken by the Viking wraith’s driving rage and the damage it had already sustained. Hoping that the final trap would succeed where weapons had failed, Tobi pulled the rope and released a swinging spike that impaled Martha, finally ending her bloodthirsty rampage.
Alone again, Tobias Goldstein realized that he would have more bodies to bury… and more blame to shoulder from the four families of the slain…