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.
Prologue: A Chalice
The family that had lived in the House on Haunted Hill were all dead, taken by the pox. At least, so said the locals. Some tales pointed out that only three bodies were found, putting the stain of murder on the young daughter. Others said the mark of wolves lay about the place, and that her corpse was surely dragged off into the woods. The story that most interested the travelers that night was that of the family’s prized chalice, perhaps a valuable treasure. Five gathered in the upper floor of the House that night, each claiming to be present to honor the dead. Nonsense. Not a one among them believed it, not of themselves, nor of any of the others.
Young Eloise, perhaps hoping to upstage her older sister Martha by bringing home something of great value, was the first to make her excuses, slipping into an unfinished room to see if the chalice perhaps lay hidden there. Frightened by the tales of wolves, she was able to locate a crossbow in good condition, which she nicknamed “Wolfsbane.” None considered the young girl Peggy much competition, allowing her to investigate the common room unhindered, following whispers nobody else could hear and chanting cheerfully along with them. Tobi, four years Eloise’s junior but already sweet on the older girl, crept downstairs to search the hearth, hoping to find something that might impress her. Instead, he discovered a note left by the family patriarch – an eerie warning of a dark presence beneath the earth, an awakening presence. Unnerved by his discovery, Tobi concealed the note back where it was found.
The old minister Tuck elected to venture into the basement, finding a crawlspace and a secret passageway with traces of blood. Envious of Eloise and tired of Peggy, young Thomasin, only one year younger than Tobi and enamored of the older boy, left to follow him and did not notice him in the hearth, walking outside instead. Peggy and Eloise, luckless in their searches, followed Thomasin outside, as did Tobi, who promptly got himself turned around in the woods, a fell wind chilling him to the bone but also helping him regain his direction.
With an unnerved Tuck poking around closets on the main floor, Thomasin ran further along the path, discovering an animal collar covered in bells and whimsically naming it “Jingleberry.” With Eloise and Peggy luckless in their continued searches, Tobi crossed to the other side of the woods around the house and discovered an ominous tree, under which the chalice gleamed. A tree from which was suspended a snapped rope. Staring into the chalice, Tobi realized – the chalice being hidden outside the house meant someone had obviously come here already and moved it outside, tricking the rest into coming in. A person in league with the dark forces – for who else had contracted the pox, outside the family? No, this was a plague, conjured by a witch. A witch among their number…
As the others spotted the chalice in Tobi’s hands, they came to the same realization – uneasily determining that they would have to fight each other to discover the real witch among them. Thomasin hid near a pond, concealed by fog, as the mayhem began. Panicked by suspicion of witchcraft, Tobi chased Eloise into the woods and beat her to death. Tuck, convinced Thomasin was certainly the witch, followed her to the pond, where Thomasin was able to ambush the old man and strangle him. Lurking near the creek, Peggy drank from it to recover her stamina, but was lured out by the sound of bells – Thomasin’s trick, resulting in the older girl murdering the younger. Unfortunately, the sound also drew Tobi back. Seeing Thomasin in her murderous stance, he attacked immediately. When the haze of his fear and rage cleared, Tobi realized to his horror that none of the bodies displayed the signs of witchcraft – they had all fallen victim to paranoia and panic.
Rationalizing their temporary mania, Tobi dug some rudimentary graves in the nearby earth – perhaps a bit too shallow – and searched the house for the deed. From this day forth, he determined, he would be a proper landowner. Thus did the sun crest of the family Goldstein come to rest upon the hearth of the House on Haunted Hill. Rumors would swirl around the master of the house and the dark deeds of that night for decades to follow…