Archibald Henderson: Biography Edit
Archibald Henderson was born in Edinburgh in 1850, the youngest of six children in a struggling working class family. Crippling poverty and misery were his every day. His father had a constant chip on his shoulder, a fierce addiction to the drink and a highly abusive nature. Archibald's mother couldn't protect him, and at the age of twelve his drunken father - sick of feeling sapped by so many hungry mouths - hurled his youngest out of the house like a cat into the cold.
Archie was homeless, lost and alone. So he took to the streets and to the Edinburgh Vaults, where only the poorest and most wretched of people stayed. Conditions were appalling - no sunlight, no running water, no sanitation, and no fresh air. Murders were common. Desperate people killed for any reason - a pair of shoes, a loaf of stale bread, or to make a quick penny selling corpses to science. Sometimes they killed for no better reason than to warm themselves upon the embers of violence.
It was a hard life, but young Archie had gifts. With a quick mind and quicker feet, he grew up with considerable street smarts and guile; he showed a keen aptitude for survival, even under the most difficult of circumstances. But he was torn and conflicted. There were forces raging inside of him, uncontrollable forces, driving his careless curiosity. He never felt at ease with regular people and constantly sought something else, something more, at the expense of both himself and others.
One day, while exploring the Vaults, he found a secret tunnel leading into deeper, darker pits. It was pitch black, damp and rotten, but his sense of adventure defeated his sense of reason and he descended deeper and deeper, until he could descend no more. The darkness was intense, claustrophobic. He could hear a soft rasp; the air was moist, the smell stale and rancid. The plush ground heaved before bursting and casting him off his feet. That was the last he remembered. He woke up in a dirty puddle outside the city, scratched and bruised, but alive, fresh air filling his nostrils once more.
Little did he know that his foray had brought him to the lair of a tenebrous creature, feverishly asleep underneath the streets of Edinburgh. Little did he know that he had gone where he should never have gone, woken something that was never supposed to be awake.
But the Illuminati knew. They knew exactly what had happened. Archie had a natural gift for dark magic, his powers raw and uncontrolled. When the creature had lunged at him in the darkness, his subconscious unleashed a magic burst so powerful that it knocked him out and disintegrated his attacker. Dazed and exhausted, he had made his way up, out, away, running and running until he collapsed.
The Illuminati tracked him down and recruited him, protecting him as best they could - both from himself and from the other secret societies. They moved him to America, where they could keep an eye on and school him. He was enrolled at the Innsmouth Academy in 1864.
Trained in the arts, taught how to control his powers and shown how to channel them with purpose, Archie quickly rose in stature. Within a few short years he had far surpassed his teachers, and he went on to be considered one of the truly great magi of his time, albeit reckless and stubborn; he was a charming rogue, a ladies' man, and a ruthless trader in occult artifacts.
Restlessly he travelled the world, carelessly flaunting his skills. He single-handedly defeated beasts no one else dared approach. He stole from the most sacred temples. He double-crossed and betrayed and murdered to achieve his goals and gain the riches he thought he craved - all the while at war with his inner demons. Like so many men overwhelmed by their greatness, he was successful, but miserable.
By 1885, Archie Henderson was exhausted. Sick of death and weary of the never ending battle with the occult, he wanted out. He wanted to settle down, but he knew of no other life. He had no idea how to be normal, and this drove him into a deep depression, feeling doomed to run, to fight, until the end of days. Archie met his future wife while drowning sorrows in a hotel bar in Boston. She was unlike anyone he'd ever met. She was warm, kind and innocent. She was not damaged like him, like everyone he knew; she sensed his pain, empathised, and she made him believe she could make things better. For the first time in his life Archie knew hope. He came to believe there was something beyond magic: a second chance, another life, normalcy.
Within a month of first meeting they were married. He left his past behind and fled with her, never revealing what he'd seen or what he really was. She remained ignorant of the secret world until the day she died.
In 1890, he informed the Illuminati of his decision. Although he never broke his ties and loyalty to them completely, he limited the relation to research and correspondence with the great magi of his age and wrote papers for learned journals.
Instead of spending his wealth on a mansion or grand estate, he bought a small farm outside the rural town of Kingsmouth, the closest thing he had to a home, and moved there with his wife and small children.
In the morning, he chopped wood and planted seeds in the fertile dirt. In the evening he told stories to his children in front of the fireplace. Archie Henderson was finally happy.
Then came the earthquake of 1904, in which Innsmouth Academy was destroyed. His oldest child, a fine and clever boy, was passing by the school when the quake struck. The walls crumbled on top of him and pulverised his body into grotesque and mangled limbs.
Archie's wife, devastated by the loss of her son, sought consolation from the local native population, who she believed had many things to teach about death. Though she was better for a while, sorrow still overwhelmed her in the end. The next year, she took her own life. Henderson found her dangling from a rope in the barn.
Henderson's happiness was crushed. Spiteful and irrational, he blamed his wife's suicide on the Wabanaki's failure to help her. He blamed them for inciting her sorrow, for leading her down darker paths than she knew, and wanted them punished. With no legal recourse he could take, Archie Henderson allowed himself to slip into the warm darkness within. With the help of old contacts and arcane incantations he summoned a group of revenants to his farm, ordering them to spread disease among the tribe.
With a dead son and a dead wife, Archie's relationship with his two remaining children changed. He became overprotective, never wanting to let them out of the house. The oldest daughter, Maria, constantly fought with him, crying for her independence. The stricter Archie became, the more she opposed him. Their relationship culminated with her cursing him and storming out of the house. A revenant claimed her within the hour.
By 1908, Archie Henderson had gone completely mad.
A son crushed in an earthquake, a wife hanged in the barn and a daughter torn apart by a revenant. He had but one child left in the world, his youngest daughter, Samantha. Obsessed with her safety, he again turned to dark magic, searching franticly for means to guarantee her protection.
He dug up ancient books of necromancy, thanatology, the strange rites of Egypt and the resurrection of the dead. He began to experiment with rodents and vermin, not thinking that the dark magic would attract wendigo and other creatures of horror. Although he didn't bring his wife and children back from the dead, he succeeded in bringing much gloomier things to life.
To protect his daughter, he created demonic monstrosities to patrol his farm and beyond. Scarecrows, with beastly strength and all the mobility of men, stalked the farm at night. Henderson ignored their malevolence because the welfare of the people of Kingsmouth were irrelevant to him. Only his daughter mattered. He never told her about them, and innocent as she was, she never knew what he had done.
While his motivation may have been pure, his reckless use of power and his savage pursuit of justice could unleash worse things in the night than cannibal spirits. Recognising the use of dark magic, the Illuminati came to his farm to dissuade him from his crooked path, but one look from his blasted eyes was enough to garner apologies and cause them to scurry away. So long as he did not attack the locals they had no grounds to move against him. Nor did anyone want to - Henderson's immense power and ruthlessness were still notorious.
What happened next was beyond any father's control. His little girl fell in love with the farmhand, a strapping young lad named Jack. Henderson relieved the boy of his duties, but the girl's beating heart was more zealous than the rule of her ruthless father. Samantha still managed to sneak out to see him.
On one fateful night, the young couple were attacked by the scarecrows Henderson had constructed for her safety. He woke to the terrified screams of his daughter, and, fearing the worst, ran to the fields. When the old mage saw the mutilated corpse of his last daughter in the arms of her crying lover, he blamed the boy.
Archie Henderson snapped.
In the face of such rage, the boy ran for his life. Henderson hunted him to the pumpkin patch north of the farm, where the boy tripped and fell...and became the cornered game of Henderson's wild animal fury.
With the darkest of magic, he attacked Jack. His curses were saturated with the pain of losing his family; his mind dulled by madness. In the boisterous bubbling of gall he transformed the boy, stripped him of his youthful looks and lithe human body. The dirt and pumpkins from the surrounding patch mixed into his mangled fury and reshaped his victim into something grotesque. Having condemned the boy to eternal freakish life as a testament to his ire, Henderson turned and left.
That evening, Henderson realised what he had done, what his life had become. He understood that it wasn't the young boy that had killed his daughter, it was his own creations. He remembered that he was responsible for the death of his other daughter and felt remorse for blaming the Wabanaki for the death of his wife. Not all the bars in Boston could drown his sorrows now. Devastated that he had gone down the crooked old road - the one he had abandoned so many years ago - he saw only one way out.
Archie Henderson took his own life that night, slitting his throat with a straight razor. He bled to death on the floor of his kitchen.
His legacy now is a trail of sinister magic that lingers in the earth of his farm.