385 Keziah Mason

    Mr. Joyce plated the omelette and sliced bread before bringing them to the table. The dining table was pushed to the corner of the kitchen. The surface was covered in mottled oil stains and some spots were mouldy. Normally, a medical student like Gu Jun would have a higher requirement for cleanliness but his hunger won over. Once dinner was served, he started to chomp down. The meal was scrumptious, it brought new meaning to the phrase farm to table.

    "What happened back then?" He asked the old man about the incident that happened 2 years ago at Innsmouth.

    "To be honest, we outsiders know very little about it. It happened around the winter. The rumors were that it was due to prohibition violation but I know for a fact that's not possible. Jack has done plenty of research into the economic structure of Innsmouth and Innsmouth has no one selling bootleg alcohol." Mr. Joyce had his suspicions regarding this speculation. "Many people were captured but no one knew where they were taken and there was no following trial. The news slowly died away. There were some inquiries being done but those were quickly suppressed by the government. I swear something must have happened there." Gu Jun frowned silently. Could it be an action taken against Innsmouth by FBM? Back in his world, Innsmouth did not exist so FBM could not do anything, but if Innsmouth did exist, FBM and by extension, the US government, could have done something like this.

    "I just want to know the truth about my son's death." Mr. Joyce munched on the bread and his voice caught. "I've tried asking the police but no one paid me any attention. I've tried the media but no one was interested in my story. My friends either thought I've lost my mind or they did not want the trouble."

    "Sir, perhaps." Gu Jun offered, "I can help you conduct an investigation."

    "Oh?" Mr. Joyce's eyes were practically shining. Gu Jun then came up with something more persuasive, more fitting for his identity. "I need to find something to do to earn my place since I just arrived in this country. I can help you go to Innsmouth to investigate. I'm an outsider, perhaps they won't pay me any attention."

    "Yes, Mr. Gu, you'll be able to fit right in there!" That was one of the reasons why Mr. Joyce helped Gu Jun. He was glad that the man made him the offer. "You can pretend to be a Dagon disciple!"

    "Yes, but to do that, I need to know more about them." Gu Jun nodded. "For one, I wish to know is there any legend about witches at Innsmouth?" The talk of witches was taboo at a place like this. If this was 200 years ago, private discussion of witches could bring them to the gallows.

    "Witches..." Mr. Joyce widened his eyes and then chuckled. "I'll put it this way, everything that happens here is related to witches. Ol' John's family lost a few eggs, it must be the work of the witches. Ol' Carter's family dog kept barking at night, it must because there were witches on the prowl." The old man munched on the bread as he mumbled. He accidentally choked on some crumbs, "See, perhaps there were witches listening in on us and she made me choke. Ha ha...."

    It was clearly a joke but Gu Jun's heart chilled. He studied the old man's shadow under the light. The sky outside was darkening... He knew the joke might not be entirely false. Kedou did mention seeing something in the 'shadow' before.

    "Legends about witches are what I grew up with." Mr. Joyce clearly did not think much about this. "Naturally there are stories about witches at Innsmouth, but based on my knowledge, it has nothing to do with the Dagon Cult. But there is a famous witch house at Arkham."

    Gu Jun was surprised. Arkham was a location that the old man mentioned earlier. Gu Jun thought it was just a normal location but now it appeared like he was mistaken.

    "Arkham?" He prompted.

    "Arkham is the biggest city around this district. It's quite developed, at least compared to the rest of the district." Mr. Joyce explained. "That place is filled with strange legends too and one of them is related to the witches. But to explain that, I will have to tell you the stories about Salem that happened years ago."

    Gu Jun did know his history but he did not stop the old man from telling his tale. After all, the history here might be different. But based on what he heard, everything sounded the same. The stories were about the Salem Witch Trials. It happened 200 years ago, in 1929. It started with a preacher's daughter at Arkham who fell under a strange illness. Soon after, the girls that she normally played with fell under the same illness. It did not take long for the illness to infect all the girls in the city. "They would scream and convulse. It was like they were possessed, making curse-like noises." Mr. Joyce regaled Gu Jun with these historical pasts. "At the time, no one, not even the doctors, knew what to do with it."

    Gu Jun was silent. In medical history, the Salem Witch Trials was also an unsolved mystery. There was a hypothesis suggesting that the witches were actually victims of Tourette Syndrome but theoretically speaking, Tourette Syndrome was not contagious and it would not cause hallucination. Another hypothesis was that it was due to ergotism, a condition that develops from ergotamines, substances produced due to fungal contamination of grains. However, that did not explain why only the girls were infected. Due to the plague, the town of Salem underwent history's biggest witch hunt. According to the old man, several hundred people were captured and tortured. People died from public stoning and on the pyres.

    "Keziah Mason was one of the accused witches." Mr. Joyce continued, "But somehow this witch managed to escape from the Arkham prison and she vanished overnight! The next morning, the prison guard was found rambling incoherently. He claimed that Mason has used some lines and angles to open some kind of dimensional portal..."

    The old man's disbelief in these stories was evident. From the old man's perspective, the Dagon worshippers did not have any superhuman ability, they were just delusional and crazy. He treated these local witch legends with the same attitude. The stories were most likely exaggerated. After all, if Mr. Joyce believed in the actual existence of the devil, he would not be in such a convivial mood with Gu Jun.

    However, Gu Jun's heart chilled from the story. According to Kedou, the witch's shadow walked out from the corner of her bedroom... That matched the story of how this Keziah Mason escaped from her imprisonment. However, that was not evidence enough for Gu Jun to confirm that this Kezain Mason was the witch behind the tragedy back on Earth.

    "In any case, Keziah Mason's home is located at Arkham." Mr. Joyce explained, "Naturally everyone gives it a wide berth."

    Suddenly a thought dawned on Gu Jun. The reason why he was transported to this space and time... Could Arkham be his actual destination and not Innsmouth? Was he supposed to find some clues at this Witch House? Could this Keziah Mason be his 'big sister' or the existence with a thousand faces?

    While Gu Jun was thinking, the dogs outside the farm started to bray. It was followed by approaching commotion.

    "Joyce, you old bastard, someone saw you brought the heathen home!"

    "You blasted old thing, hand over the heathen. Do you intend to have us killed, like you did Jack?!"

    "Get out of my way, bitch!" With the curse, one of the dogs yelped in pain. Clearly the mob had arrived and their first victim was the innocent animals.

    "Damn it, damn it..." Mr. Joyce put down his bread and stood up. His beard trembled from anger. "Damn it, those bunch of boors have found their way here!"
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