Salem Book Hunts – Alex
With a fresh cup of coffee and a warm smile driving him on, Arathnose seems eager to assist in the search for colonial era mysteries. “I don’t recall seeing much about the local natives,” he confesses. “But we’ve managed to recover a lot of the early consilium’s records, and there’s plenty said about the cabals of the time. What was the name of that cabal you mentioned again?…”
Despite large gaps in the record, the writings of the Stone Assembly are voluminous, and a slow paging through them does reveal a few connections and more history about Epona’s Chariot and the early history of the Wise in the New World. From their point of view:
- Epona’s Chariot was described as a rogue cabal of pagan mages, made up chiefly of “women, landless bastards and other undesirables”.
* Around 1627 (prior to the charter being granted to the Stone Assembly by the Consilium of Cambridge, England) the majority of the the Chariot was struck down by some unknown enemy, from whom only one member allegedly escaped. (Though the shade of another was rumoured to haunt “the village on the river Naumkeag”.)
* Later, the cabal was struck again, this time by suspicion and infighting. Schisms were noted in 1647, and again in 1692, over the relationships between it’s members and those with “sleeping-souls”, as well as what to do about the growing presence of witch hunters. In the latter episode, some records suggest that a few cabalists of the Chariot may have been among the imprisoned and perhaps even those hanged in Salem (“as such roges aut to be”, the writer notes), though no individual members were identified.
* In December, 1692 the Stone Assembly voted not to render aid to the accused witches, “be they sleeping-souls, or rogue practisors”.
* From 1700 onward there’s no mention of the Chariot.
As Arathnose suggested, it seems that only passing mention of the Naumkeag tribe is made within the Consilium’s collection. Every writer you find except one notes that the tribe was all but gone by the time colonists arrived in number. That one exception claims to have heard from another mage of the once powerful medicine society within the tribe, but the claims “appear to be greatly embellished”.
As you worm your way through the records, the coffeeholic Herald appears and reappears from time to time with another volume, frequently bookmarked for your convenience, then visits the coffee pot, pours himself another cup, and disappears into the shelves again. During one of his visits he deposits a small, brown covered pad next to you and says, “It may not be completely relevant, but I didn’t know if you knew this…” before circling back to the brew.
The pages are handwritten in a messy script and the contents appear just as confused; a diary entry here, a dissertation there, and then a scribbled drawing. The inside cover notes the author as Geryon, ‘historian of the Ebon Noose’, and one page is conveniently bookmarked:
Sept. 7th, 1916 – I believe that In the aftermath of the Salem trials, Epona’s Chariot sent out a call throughout New England to gather witches and magic-men who were rebuffed by the Stone Assembly, and who had been told to ‘leave the practice of magic to those qualified to do so’; lest they be exposed as witches! These messages carefully bypassed the eyes and ears of the Assembly, and made it to those whom, after many years of isolation, the habit of solitude was strong, but so was fear and the desire for companionship in the art. Many of these witches did gather under the leadership of Epona’s Chariot, and they vowed to prevent tragedies like the one in Salem, and to remind themselves of those unfairly hanged, and to atone for their own guilt in that place’s curse, Epona’s Chariot shed it’s old name and reconsecrated itself as the Ebon Noose.
Some time after your trip to Cormant House, you manage to sit down and begin looking at the writings of Sheila little. The stack is over three inches thick and the first hundred pages are nothing but garbled nonsense. Why anyone would shackle a woman to a typewriter in a parallel world for this is beyond your comprehension. But as you leaf through the pages, a half dozen at a time , phrases begin to appear. Then full sentences, with a bit of random nonsense here and there. A few hundred pages later, it’s worth reading a little.
The content begins to take on a certain familiarity, reminiscent of the notebooks that were collected from the pastor’s residence in New Salem. There are descriptions of strange phenomena (green fire) fantastical creatures (enormous centipedes) and a great deal of … eating.
“… and Wahid was eaten by Ihab Fahim, whereby the kingdom passed unto him.”
There are whole genealogies of who ate who, quotations from speeches by leaders who never lived, descriptions of conquests by Nations that never existed, and impossible plagues of biblical proportions; as though the First Testament had been rewritten by John Carpenter channelling Hannibal Lecter. But while the gruesome content (or its similarity to the notebooks) fails to hold your interest for very long, something else keeps you scanning the pages; a feeling that there’s more here than meets the eye. After long period of scrutiny, you think you see it. Not in the sentences and phrases of the pseudo-history, but in the gibberish and nonsense scattered amongst it; a subtle pattern in the words that threatens to make sense to you. And like the patterns in High Speech, you feel instinctively that these patterns may hold some useful power.
If Alex looks for meaning in these patterns, you may roll Wits + Occult up to 6 times for her and tell me the successes.