Dear Mr. Phinneaus,
I hope my letter finds you in good health and recalls me, Miss Clara Beaumont, to you.
I must first and foremost confess, ever since your visit to out little town of St. Charles Ferry, I have not been able to clear you from my mind. Your heroic actions, not unlike a Hercules, have also made a tremendous impression on me and the town as a whole.
Were you aware that the mayor has commissioned a statue, in your honor, to be placed in the town square? It is to be place very near to the monument to Fallen Soldiers of the Grand Army of the Republic - a high honor indeed, sir. Your great reputation has you dealing with all kinds of other-worldly events for the most important of worldly men, that I would certainly not think poorly of you, if you have forgotten us.
Yet how could we forget when you discovered the source of our strange Occurrences? I recall our first meeting, in my school house, where you began your queries as to the nature of the Occurrences - oh, Mr. Phinneaus, I shudder at the thought of them still, those phantom children haunt me to this day. You stood in the door of the school house, making careful notes of my replies. You were so calm, and business like - as if these ghost were as regular as Sunday - that I was very much taken with you.
However, as you are business-like, I will endeavor to reach the matter of my letter, and put aside my girlish fancies. My introduction may first come across as a star-struck letter to the subject of dime-store novels, but I do intended to detail some important facts regarding those very same occurrences.
When you announced that these phantoms were being raised through ectoplasmic emanations from the tomb of the late Charles M. Barrows III - thankfully, I may again use the word late - the whole town assembly was shocked. Of course, they were not as shocked as one might expect given the late Mr. Barrows interest in the Strange and Unnatural conjoined with his extraordinary wealth. If remember your words on the subject, Mr. Phinneaus, "Two things that do not go well together."
I am sure you recall that shortly after your revelation, I was kidnapped by the very same unnatural forces, however I never did explain why. The truth of the matter is that late Mr Barrows had expressed his intentions towards me in a very forward manner. This was before his death, when I was a still a girl of seventeen. The gentleman was very persistent in his quest to have my hand, but I resisted - he was frankly too old and had too unpleasant a disposition for my taste. The halt of his advances coincided with his death. I did not connect the two, as it were.
You see, my father, also a man of certain wealth - by no means to the degree of the late Mr. Barrows but comfortable, having found success in a several small business ventures - dabbled in the occult. I recall you and he had many conversations during your stay in our town, so I imagine you are aware of his interest. I again think you were not fully informed of the depth of my father's nor mine own involvement in the whole of this event.
You see my father had, as it were, an altercation with the late Mr. Barrows. My father had attempted to, as he described it, "weave an enchantment which will ward off Mr. Barrows, rendering his interest and advances impossible." On the evening of Mr. Barrows' death, I found my father sitting on our front porch in state. He had blood on his hands, his clothes burned and his eyes had a frightened and remote look. All he could say was "I have made such an error."
Being the young girl that I was I put it out of my head, giving it no further thought, and therefore making no connection to the events of that evening, and the death of the late Mr. Barrows. It was not until the events of my kidnapping, that I began to realize the import of those words.
I am sure that you would recall the conditions of my confinement, given that you found my bound for sacrifice in the Barrows family tomb. Horrible dreams of that place wake me nightly still. In my state of fear, I could not render the full story of those days in that crypt.
I did not spend the whole of the time bound on that cold slab of stone, though I do not remember how I got there. I imagine in my darkest nightmares that I was carried there in the night be a pair of demonic phantoms, but more likely, I was brought there under my own locomotion, albeit driven by some dark magic.
I awoke in the crypt surrounded by the corpses of the Barrows family. Each one, in a state of decay beyond all imagination. In the center stood the corpse of the late Mr. Barrows. When I say stood, as you later found yourself, he was standing as any living man might - tall strait and with a youthful, almost soldierly posture. Yet his corpse was that of a body which had been entombed for years: feotid and rotten.
He spoke - spoke! - through that smile all skulls wear. "Girl," he said, "girl your father has wronged me, and for that, I must take revenge." The fear that rose from the very depth of my soul at the sound of his voice, a sound like wind through dried reeds, caused me to faint away.
I remember little after and have only been able to piece together the events which lead up to your rescue. James Witkens, a clerk at the bank and a fine young gentleman, you may recall was present at many of the meetings between you, my father and the mayor. He was able to fill in the details. Given your reputation, Mr. Phinneaus, I am quite sure that you were not frightened by the spectral appearance of the late Mr. Barrows, but Mr. Witkens was terribly shaken. It was he that told me it was my father alone summoned to the Barrows' Tomb. You were never meant to come.
I am very grateful that you did, Mr. Phinneaus. Had you not come, that horrid corpse's plan would certainly come to fruition. I would have been sacrificed to some dark power, and my father's very soul would have been imprisoned at best, destroyed at worst.
I admit I had been in some state of swoon throughout the days of this ordeal. In a few moments of lucidity I was aware of some of the black preparations being made by that tombful of corpses. I may not have had studied the mysteries of the darker Universe like my father, but I knew that something evil was in the making.
I awoke fully at my father's arrival, also the cause of some form of dark magic: I could neither move nor speak, but my awareness of the situation was clear.
I recall the discussion between my father and Barrows' corpse - that voice, the thought of it as I put it down on paper terrorizes my still, but I will carry on. Permit me to describe what followed in a dialog.
Barrows: 'Beaumont, my old friend.'
Father: 'Release my daughter!'
Barrows: 'No, my dear Beaumont. You see I will have my revenge. I will not bother to quote the Bard with my vengeance as there is not time: the moon is right, the sacrifice prepared, and your death foreseen by my allies on the Aetherial Plane. You will take my place, in the hell prepared for me, and your daughter will be mine, willingly and eternally. To achieve both, I need to excise a part of her soul, but that is a sacrifice I am will to make.'
It is here, I noticed, that you arrived. Brief as their conversation as it gave you time to quietly enter the tomb with your make-shift weapon - Mr. Witkens described to me the preparations you had made, his propensity for detail gave me the most vivid images of both its construction and the toll it took on your person - immediately after the ghostly encounter with the late Mr. Barrows.
With an amazing speed, you dispatched the elder corpses of the Barrows family. The aforementioned device of yours is beyond my own understanding, although, I am convinced it was imbued with some form of Astral energy given the way the corpses erupted into flames of an indescribable color.
Unfortunately, the distraction of those other corpses gave the late Mr. Barrows time to perform a part of his ritual. My father fell dead, and I felt a part of me begin to rip away. Mr. Barrows' corpse was becoming less corpse-like by the moment.
Through the pain caused by that soul-rendering evil, I heard your voice. Strange and ancient words - perhaps due to my unfortunate position of being the focus of that terrible sacrifice, words completely intelligible to me - commanding Mr. Barrows to become the late Mr. Barrows once more.
You must have had some force of good on your side, Mr. Phinneaus. I would not be here to thank you if you did not. You have saved me from a damned and eternal existence with a man of unspeakable evil. You forever have my gratitude.
However, gratitude is not entirely the reason that I write to you now. In the year since the events of that day, I have studied my father's papers and books. I fear that enough of the ritual was completed, and his soul is trapped somewhere dark and evil.
I am requesting your presence once more, Mr. Phinneaus. Not on the account of me, nor the town, but on behalf of my father. He needs our help - your help most of all.
I have enclosed copy a drawing of particular interest, found in one of my father's notes. It may give some clue to where we can begin.
Please respond with the up most haste,
Sincerely and dutifully yours,
Miss Clara Beaumont
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WUX CHICAGO IL JUN 7 1901,
MISS CLARA BEAUMONT
14 MAIN ST ST CHARLES FERRY VA
I WILL ATTEND YOU ASAP. LEAVING CHICAGO ON THE 4 O CLOCK TRAIN. ALERT MR WITKINS THAT I WILL REQUIRE LODGING. CARVE THE SYMBOLS OF ST DONAVON ON YOUR DOORWAY AS A CAUTION.
MR ALBERT X PHINNEAUS