About The Haunting at Helorus
Times of Day & Doing Stuff:
Times of Day
Functionally each day is split into six 4 hour shifts for the purpose of rest, study, etc. In my posts I'll be using the following indicators for what time of day it is.
Dawn: Currently at 6:30 AM
Anything of any note you might want to do will take at least 4 hours: namely exploration and gather information checks. A task which takes 8 hours, such as the translations, has to be uninterrupted work; a character is assumed to eat, go to the bathroom, etc. during this time, but can't leave their effort to do something else "real quick". Outside of possibly a single Knowledge check to answer someone's question, the character can't actively pursue anything that requires them to make an unrelated check of any kind. A character could spend all 16 hours of the day on two consecutive 8 hour shifts of tasks to the exclusion of all else.
Characters also require 8 hours of rest to avoid penalties, which I assume is done at night; this rest time is not assumed to be 8 solid hours of sleep, and can include discussion between characters.
August Pallaver's Journal:
June 11th, 1869. Albert is lost to me. I see that now. I had suspected that there was more to his fierce curiosity and studiousness than a natural desire for knowledge, and uncovering his motivation does not place me at ease. He desires to learn that which I know to be forbidden; I have tried to persuade him to stop but he will not listen. My attempts incensed him and he swore me off, and this morning he is gone.
January 28th, 1875. Several of my books are in disorder. I have been keeping them in the back of the cabinet in the study, and I see now this was foolish of me. I am sure Katherine merely moved them while looking for some other volume, but they should not be so easily accessible. I have moved them to the proper chest.
February 21st, 1875. I spoke with Gregory today, and afterwards took a walk through the graveyard. It looked as if someone or something had been about the mausoleum; the grass and foliage had been trampled down, but the structure itself was undisturbed. I could find no clear tracks, but I am no woodsman. Probably just a deer or some other animal.
February 23rd, 1875. Last night I dreamt of Albert. I was in the root cellar, which I had visited earlier in the day, but in my dream it contained stone stairs of ancient aspect which spiraled down into the earth. Up from these steps he strode to stand before me, smiling, with what seemed to me a smug malice. He told me he had named that which he sought and so had power over it, and began to laugh. I then awoke.
March 1st, 1875. I signed my new will today. I cannot bring myself to report my suspicions to those who would listen, but should they prove true and some ill fate befalls me, I fear for Katherine’s safety. The tomes I possess must also remain in safe hands; I dare not risk sending them by post, even if I didn’t need them. I have chosen a handful of men and women I feel are up to the task, though I pray they need never be contacted.
March 18th, 1875. I dreamt of Albert again last night.
Gustav stopped me in the street today and began shouting about the old Catholicon. Normally I would ignore his tiresome and idiotic rants, but for the specificity of his tirade: he claimed two Sundays past he had seen lights and figures moving about in the courtyard at night. It may be a coincidence, but I cannot take that chance. I will investigate on the morrow.
March 19th, 1875. Someone has definitely been on the Catholicon grounds. I went there today, and found boot prints all about the place. The timing cannot be pure chance; I have been a fool to remain silent. I cannot send for help now, or even send a warning, without fear of it being intercepted. I cannot risk revealing those who would help me to their enemies.
I will go tomorrow and try to stop whatever is being perpetrated at that place, for I know they will return to reap what they have sown. I do not know who or what I may find there, and I pray that I am up to the task; if I am not, I fear for Katherine, and for all Helorus. I leave this journal where my enemies will not find it. I implore those who may read it:
Protect my daughter.
Etrusca Disciplina / Libri Fulgurales:
The Etrusca Disciplina is a loosely bound collection of parchments which appear to be hand-written in Latin with notes in the margins in French and more recently in English, all three languages written in different hands. The title refers to a book or books which detailed the religious beliefs and practices of the ancient Etruscans.
Current scholarly belief is that all copies of the Etrusca Disciplina were destroyed by the middle of the first millenium A.D.; only allusions and brief quotes in Latin made by Roman scholars remain. The Etruscan religion eventually fell out of favor with the Romans, discredited as mere superstition and purposefully purged from Roman culture. Even so, it is assumed that some of the rituals and practices of the Etruscans survived in the Roman religions, though specifically what those practices may be is unknown.
This a seemingly complete Latin translation of the Libri Fulgurales, a single volume of the larger set of the Etrusca Disciplina. It instructs how one may perform divinations by observing lightning strikes, and is notated in both archaic French and modern English; the French notes allude to the Latin translations of more books of the Disciplina from the same source, and this mention has been circled and notated in English - "Not present in the archives; transferred to another preceptory? Must find!!!" Otherwise the notes either question or provide clarification on the divination methods described.
This text states that lightning is generally caused by the collision of clouds, with these collisions being the gods' method of announcing their intentions to mortals through the lightning they produce. The method of divination via lightning involves a "cartography of the sky," wherein the horizon is divided into 16 sections assigned to various deities, with each section is further divided into 4 subsections; the viewer then notes which section the lightning originated from. Also important is the nature of the lighting, which is broken down into three major categories: lightning which pierces through cloud cover, lightning which is forked, and lightning that burns; there are further minor categories of lightning, such as lighting which springs from the earth or lightning accompanied by earth tremors. Furthermore, the specific effect of the lightning is considered, with such factors as the lightning's effect on men, animals, landscape, architecture, etc. It is presumed that thunder is produced by lightning, such that the origin of thunder with no visible lightning must be guessed at to the best of the diviner's ability.
The volume of divinatory signs and their interactions with one another is impressive; to actually memorize the divinatory system would take weeks of effort and practice, but Amaya is fairly sure he could note the important aspects of any lightning/thunder he witnesses and later refer to the text to determine it's supposed meaning, if she was so inclined.
King James Bible:
A King James Bible, printed 1609. A heavily worn but otherwise well-preserved leatherbound Bible of obvious antiquity with several ribbons sticking out from between it’s pages. This Bible has a print date of 1609 listed, despite the fact that the first King James Bible was not printed until 1611.
KJB / Book of Tobit, pages from Chapter 6:
Summary: A young man, Tobiah, travels in the company of a disguised angel; a strange fish bites his foot, and the angel instructs him to kill it and remove certain organs that are useful for exorcising spirits and healing the blind.
KJB / Book of Tobit, pages from Chapter 8:
Summary: Tobiah is wed to Sarah, whose previous husbands have all been killed by a demon on their wedding night. On the night of her wedding to Tobiah, he burns the fish organs as instructed by the disguised angel. This causes the demon to flee, whereupon the angel binds it beneath the earth.
KJB / Book of Tobit, pages from Chapter 11:
Summary: Tobiah returns home with his wife Sarah and the angel, and uses the fish organs to cure his father Tobit of blindness at the angel's instruction. Tobit can see again, but can see all manner of spirits and angels as well, and laments his condition. The angel wipes Tobit's eyes and returns Tobit's sight to normal.
KJB / Book of Tobit, page from Chapter 12:
Summary: There is a feast for Tobiah and Sarah at Tobit's home, where the angel Raphael reveals himself to Tobit and Tobiah, who are awed and afraid of him.
KJB / Book of Daniel, pages from Chapter 14:
Summary: Daniel proves to the King of Babylon that the priests of the god-statue Bel have tricked him, and the King slays them all save one that could not be found. Daniel then slays a dragon the Babylonians also worship as a god. Before dying the dragon tells Daniel that it was also Bel, and that it wears many masks; while it's body may be destroyed, it is eternal. Daniel is then thrown to the lions by the Babylonians, who are angry at him and at their King.
On Verified Madness:
On Verified Madness, by Dr. Byron Pallaver & Dr. Hoyt Foramen, printed 1808. This grey book is a treatise on the insane, including a variety of case studies from the Helorus Catholicon, or so claims the title page. The book was meant to be bound by the buyer to match their personal collection, a practice common at the turn of the 19th century.
The preface to the book states that Doctor Pallaver was granted his M.D. from the University of the State of Pennsylvania in 1781, and founded the Helorus Catholicon in Helorus, New York in 1795, an institution dedicated to the study and treatment of disturbances and maladies of the mind. Doctor Foramen was granted his M.D. from the University of Edinburgh in 1792, and began work at the Helorus Catholicon in 1801. The purpose of the book is to prove that while a variety of mental aberrations may be curbed or cured by surgical intervention, there are some derangements that occur without any physical trauma or abnormalities and which are therefore immune to any conventional attempts at medical treatment beyond constant sedation or the infliction of permanent idiocy. The authors consider such cases to be examples of the eponymous "verified madness." In these cases, the authors hope to show that alternative methods of therapy they have devised may have greater effect in curing the afflicted.
The book is very technical, obviously meant for trained medical professionals, and much of the referential information and supporting data is lost on Amaya. She does understand that Doctors Pallaver and Foramen suggest that a sympathetic approach to the mentally disturbed, encouraging the patient to describe and "fully realize" their madness, allows them to then confront and overcome their affliction under the guidance of a doctor. Three cases of complete success from this method are described, all achieved through the efforts of Dr. Foramen. These patients were a man who suffered hallucinations of being burned alive, believing that the fires of Perdition would find and torment him whenever he had un-Christian thoughts; a woman haunted by visions of a hunched, ghoulish figure stinking of sulfur and rotting meat; and a man convinced that rats followed him everywhere: inside walls, floors, ceiling, and even the ground and trees when outdoors, unseen by him but not unheard. Other cases from both doctors report lesser degrees of success.
Regardless of her personal opinions on the matter, objectively Amaya is unable to tell if the claims made in the book are scientifically credible due to her unfamiliarity with the field
De Umbrarum Regni Novem Portis:
De Umbrarum Regni Novem Portis, by Aristide Torchia, printed 1666. Translates to 'The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows'. Infamous in European occult circles, this very rare book was supposedly co-authored by the Devil and is said to contain the knowledge of summoning demonic forces and attaining infernal enlightenment.
This book’s covers and spine are encased in polished steel and clasped with a small but intricate lock, the keyhole of which appears to be for a key with a strange, triangular shaft. Neither the cover nor the spine bear any writing.
Book with cross on cover:
A tome with a cracked brown leather cover with a stylized cross adorning the cover (without any text on cover); the pages inside are illuminated in a Medieval style and hand-written in Latin. The cross iconography on the cover of this book is most probably associated with a knightly order of the Catholic church. In medieval times such orders were relatively common, though few are still active today. You're unable to identify which specific order the symbol might indicate.