Scratches FAQ V. 0.7
Copyright 2007, Maxx
I. Version History
V. Document Index
I. VERSION HISTORY
Decided to start this game after playing it and experiencing the vagueness
Finished up to the start of the second day in the manor
The second day is done
Added in a Document Index for I guess even more reference
First off here's the system requirements.
800 MHz CPU
128 MB RAM
16 MB OpenGL-compatible video card
24x CD-ROM drive
1.6 GHz CPU
256 MB RAM
32 MB OpenGL-compatible video card
24x CD-ROM drive
5.1 surround sound card
450 MB hard drive space
Now I'll tell you about the game itself.
Scratches is a game that pretty much slipped right under my radar. Not that I
have much of a radar for adventure or even PC games in general anymore. Still,
I heard/read nothing about this game before or after its release. It only came
to my attention when I saw it on a shelf at a Target. Usually I don't see new
PC games anymore since the only game stores I go to only stock the newest of
the new, and even then they're behind the counter and you have to ask for them.
This game looked interesting from the back of the box and it seemed like a game
my mother could definitely get into. That might seem like a weird way to judge
a game but I'll explain. I would always find my mom playing Solitaire at her
computer and after awhile I started to feel a little bad. Not that she needed
any new games or that Solitaire wasn't enthralling enough to her, it was just
that there was a whole world of PC games out there that she had no idea even
existed. And since I have a good few of them myself and play them sometimes,
seeing her on this preinstalled time-killer was just a little saddening.
Of course my mom's computer is no beast and maybe Solitaire was already pushing
it to its limits, so the first thing I checked was the system requirements. Her
computer was a bit over the minimum so we bought the game and she tried it out.
I planned on playing it myself on day based on the description but after I
helped install it I decided to play it that day myself.
Since then I have played through it a few times and have had a great time with
it. For more of my thoughts on it check out my review of it but enough about
what I thought of the game. Let me tell you about the story.
Here's what it says in the instruction manual:
"You will step into the role of Michael Arthate, a blooming writer flush with
cash from the sales of his debut hit novel, as he moves to an imposing
Victorian mansion he has just bought, set on the outskirts of a small rural
town in northern England. As Michael seeks inspiration to complete his long-
awaited sequel, he uncovers terrible secrets concealed within the house: the
mystery surrounding its previous inhabitants, the eccentric Blackwood family.
Few know exactly what occurred within those walls... what drove James Blackwood
mad enough to viciously murder his wife and then, supposedly, commit suicide.
Compelled to investigate this forgotten case, Michael decides he's up to the
task of finding out what really happened. But as the pieces of the puzzle fit
together, the understanding this life might be in danger becomes a harsh
Soon Michael comes to realize that his arrival may have disturbed some sinister
forces that have been resting, and waiting, inside this place for many years.
You will explore a chilling and atmospheric scenario as you investigate
Blackwood Manor and visit varied locations besides the central Victorian
mansion, such as the rundown greenhouse, a grim chapel, a decaying crypt and
more. Solve challenging puzzles requiring not your reflexes but your intuition
and deductive skills. Gather clues and connect them, until you reach the
story's terrifying conclusion. You will be the one who solves the mystery!"
Here's the cast of characters in this game. Some you will interact with
directly while others you will only read about.
-James T. Blackwood
An eccentric gentleman, Mr. Blackwood had always been a prominent figure in
Rothbury, his hometown since his childhood, being one of the most successful
construction engineers in the region. Although his unpleasant nature, rough
features and erratic behavior usually deterred people, except for a few close
friends, he was still a respected figure and was in charge of some important
-Catherine L. Blackwood
James Blackwood's enigmatic wife, an English teacher at a local school in
Rothbury, was a quiet and reserved person, peculiarly contrasting with the odd
persona of her husband, although she still was well-loved by her friends and
-Christopher E. Milton
An intimate friend and long-time doctor to the Blackwood family, Dr. Milton was
a curious person. His vast knowledge and expertise of medicine had bestowed
upon him a reputation as the most important and beloved doctor in Rothbury. Dr.
Milton's belief in his science and the value of life were well-known and
conferred strong confidence among his many patients. Even though he practiced a
science that sustains life, his own health was fragile and his looks, in
general, sad and weak.
Miss Mariani, an Italian immigrant and aspiring professional photographer, was
the Blackwood family's maid for several years, using her hard-earned money to
pay for photography courses, until she discovered that her employer had
murdered his wife. She ended up accusing him and, after a troubled
investigation, vanished from sight, presumably returning to Italy.
Mr. Bailey, a now-retired police chief, was in charge of the investigation of
the death of Catherine Blackwood in the early 1960s. He was convinced of Mr.
Blackwood's guilt, but was never able to convict him
Michael is an up-and-coming writer. Sales of his acclaimed first novel,
Vanishing Town, left him with enough wealth to acquire an imposing Victorian
mansion, a long-time dream of his. Michael's fascination with the Gothic style
is such that it will be featured prominently in his upcoming story.
Having just finished writing a successful book, Michael is trying to cope with
the pressure of writing a follow-up and fulfilling the expectations of his
ever-growing fan base. Michael understands that this is a turning point in his
career and his new book will decide whether he is a truly talented writer or
just another one-hit wonder.
An old friend of Michael, Jerry Carter is usually a joyful and interesting
person. Opening a real estate agency definitely been his best move, allowing
him to save a generous amount of money without spending too much time working.
Nowadays, Jerry's company is the largest estate agency in Rothbury. Put simply,
Jerry is in charge of the major house sales in the region, which is how he
managed to find the right place for Michael: one of the last truly old-
fashioned Victorian mansions. He is currently trying to set up another company
Michael hired Barbara as his assistant to aid him with fan mail and to contact
magazines around the world, offering them his short stories ("public
relations", as he calls it). It is rather uncommon for a writer to be assisted
by someone else, but understandable when one takes a move far away from town,
to be seemingly disconnected from the rest of civilization.
As for the setting of the game, the guide says this:
Scratches takes place on the outskirts of Rothbury, a small rural town in
Northumberland, England: a place with large and ancient Victorian houses. You
will get to explore some varied and sinister locations...
An imposing Victorian house, formerly owned by the Blackwood family. No-one can
tell exactly what happened within its halls that led to two deaths, one of them
a gruesome murder. The only registered owner besides the Blackwood family is a
Dr. Christopher Milton, from 1962 until he disappeared later in that decade;
the house was then acquired by the National Trust.
The house has two floors (in addition to the ground floor) and an attic. The
second floor was undergoing heavy construction work in the 1960s and it still
remains that way. A workshop apparently used by James Blackwood can be found
here, with a selection of tools (a clamp, some chemistry apparatus, etc). It is
on this floor that one may access the tall turret to observe the Manor's
beautiful estate. Moving down to this first floor, where the master and guest
bedrooms can be found, there is also a large room which Blackwood converted
into a gallery: here he displayed various items relating to a particular hobby
The ground floor holds the common rooms, including the study, kitchen, and
reception hall. Finally, a large basement was constructed beneath the house,
utilizing as much space as possible. The house boasts an ingenious heating
system, having the fireplaces connected to each other, thus carrying the smoke
in one single ventilation shaft. One lit fireplace is enough to heat a good
portion of the house.
Between tall trees rests the holy chapel. James Blackwood, in one of his acts
of eccentricity, had it built in 1962, hence it is the most recent building in
the Manor. Blackwood would attend Mass here: he paid for a priest to be brought
from the town so that he could avoid leaving the Manor and continue living as a
recluse. Blackwood also spent many hours alone in the chapel: rumour has it
that it was here he planned the murder of his wife.
Once a glimmering palace, this rundown greenhouse is now in a sad state of
disrepair, its glass exterior covered with moss, impeding sunlight from
reaching inside. It is here that Blackwood would spend most of his free time on
one of his favorite hobbies, plants and flowers, until for an unknown reason he
abruptly stopped taking care of it. To many, it was then that Blackwood began
to lose his mind.
The oldest building in the Manor is the decrepit and claustrophobic crypt; it
is here that the most important members throughout many generations of the
Blackwood family rest. The crypt is crown with a large dome surrounded by
beautiful vitraux windows. Having no electricity, the many candelabras within
the crypt provide the main room and the tomb below with a good amount of light.
On the huge estate where the Blackwood Manor rests, one can find a varied
selection of trees and plants, a lake, ponds, and interesting rock formations.
A fountain at the entrance of the imposing house welcomes the occasional
visitor and a gazebo lies at the rear whenever one wants to go outside and
enjoy the benefits of this beautiful garden. There is also a garage, just off
the gravel driveway.
This game features a full 360 degree panoramic rotation, which means you
control the camera as if you were using your own eyes. By moving the mouse to
the edges of the screen the view will pan in that direction, giving you a
smooth and realistic view of your surroundings. Alternatively, you can use the
arrow keys to quickly jump in 90 degree increments, which I guess would save
you a few seconds. There is an option to play the game like this, called
Interacting with the game world depends on what kind of hand icon you have in
front of you. As you hover the mouse over objects your hand will change
accordingly. Here's a quick rundown of what the different hands do.
Closed Hand: No action
Upwards-pointing Hand: Walk in this direction
Holding Magnifying Glass: Examine an object
Grasping Hand: Take or use this object
Downwards-pointing Hand: Back off an object or location (when you are zoomed
Arrow: Turn in this direction (you'll only see this if
you're in Slideshow Mode)
Pocket Watch: Loading
Unlike some games, there is no limit on how many items you can carry at once.
Anything you find you can pick up and take with you. This solves a lot of time
you might send in other games backtracking (not that there's a lack of that in
Right-clicking brings up your inventory screen. Left-clicking on an item makes
it your current one. In some cases you can combine items, do this by grabbing
one and moving it onto another. Once you have an item selected, right-clicking
again closes your inventory and allows you to try out your item on your
surroundings. If you can use that item, it will shine when you have it over
whatever it is you can interact with. Use left-click to see if to try it out.
If you're not sure what an item is, go into your inventory and use the
magnifying glass on it. You might get a hint, but it might not always be a
Something you have to keep in mind with this game is that it is event-based.
Even if you are using a guide for help, you still are playing as a character
that does not have the helpful information and can't act upon it. You may know
where an item is, but Michael doesn't and you can't get it until you fulfill
the steps that allow him to learn where the item is.
Also make sure you call Jerry. A lot. Like all the time. If you're ever unsure
of what to do next, call him. Just call him whenever you don't know what's
going on. If you get a busy signal that means there's something else you're
supposed to be doing instead of bothering him. But usually he'll answer and be
able to give you some clues or just further the story along.
For my guide, I took the extra step of transcribing all of the books and other
documents you can read in the game. If this will help anyone at all, I don't
know, but I think it makes the whole guide a lot more credible and complete.
Whenever you come across a reference to a document in the guide there will be a
code next to it (i.e.: DOC1). Us Ctrl + F to bring up the search box and type
in the code to jump eight to that specific document near the bottom of the
Saturday, October 12th
It's your first day at the new house. You start off the game as you just arrive
at your new mansion. You can climb back into your car, open the glove
compartment, and grab your car keys, but you really don't have to. They'll be
there when you need them later. Head on up towards the house, and ignore the
branching paths for now. You can't get into any of the other buildings yet
At the front door, pull out your golden manor key and unlock the front door.
Once inside, stand in the hall and wait for the phone to ring. From the front
door, go straight ahead and walk into the reception room. In here is the phone.
Remember this, because you'll be coming back here very often.
Answer the phone and check in with Jerry. Once you've talked with him, turn
back around and go into the room to your left, the front room. In here is a big
grand piano (that you can't play), along with a firehouse. This firehouse will
factor in more a bit later in the game. In front of the fireplace is a table
with a book on it (DOC1), Christopher Milton's diary. You'll learn more about
him later, but check it out anyway to get a feel of the atmosphere of the
Fumble with any light switches you see. They won't work, but you need to find
out that they don't work in order to get further in the game. Head through the
door in the front room to get to the study, in here is a big globe that you can
spin but it doesn't do much outside of that. Head over to the desk and pick up
the book on top of the blotter (DOC2). This one is James Blackwood's journal.
Once you've digested that, start going through the drawers.
Items of interest are the envelope and what the game calls the boring tool.
These are found in the drawer on the left, while the drawer on the right is
locked. You'll be coming back to this much later. Up ahead of the desk is a
pair of doors that lead into the dining room. There isn't much to look at in
here, but note the two doors. One takes you back to the reception room while
the other takes you a back hallway.
You'll notice the back set of stairs in this hallway. Don't go up them just
yet. Across from the door to the dining room is the door to the kitchen. Go
through it and go turn to your right. You'll see a key rack with no keys on it.
Take note of this. Go over to the sink and go through the drawers under it.
Grab the knife from here. Near the sink is the door to the backyard, but ignore
it because you don't need to go out there yet. The other two doors in the
kitchen lead to the basement and the maid's quarters. The basement door is
locked, so go into the maid's quarters.
You'll want to check out the desk in this room. Right on the top is a piece of
paper. After grabbing that, look through the drawers to find a pencil. If you
look at the piece of paper with your magnifying glass, you'll learn that there
are some strange markings on it. Use the pencil to (I'm guessing) fill them in
to find out that the markings are actually Italian writing. You can't read what
it says just yet, but you'll get it translated later. There are also some
pictures to look at in the drawers, one very important one shows the key rack
in the kitchen with jar underneath. Except there is no jar underneath the key
rack now...starting to piece it together? There are a few other photography-
related items in the room to look at but none that are important.
The next room is the maid's bathroom, which she used as a makeshift darkroom.
This is the same room that is shown in the opening cut scene. You can check out
the pictures hanging here if you want. When you're done head back towards the
connecting hallway between the dining room and the kitchen. Near the steps is a
window. Draw back the curtains to shed some light on the African pots that are
placed underneath. Check out the one on the left to find that it is the same
key in the picture! Look inside to find a key. If you don't open the curtains
you won't be able to see the key so make sure to do that first.
That pretty much does it for things to check out on the ground floor. Since
you're right there, you could go up the back steps to the second floor but I
like to go back to the main spiral staircase next to the front door. If you go
up that way, the first room on your right is the guest bedroom, or for the time
being, your bedroom. Go up to the desk and use your typewriter case to unload
your tools of the trade. The papers you brought with you are your progress on
the new book so far, and you can read them to see what your notes say (DOC3).
You can also click on your typewrite case again to put it under the desk.
Next to the desk is a small table that you can put your other briefcase on.
Once you do that open it up and check out some of the items inside. You can
read the back of your last novel, as well as Jerry's business card and your
little notebook. It's important to look at these two because that is how you
will learn, in-game, Jerry's and your assistant Barbara's phone numbers. You
don't have to write them down because the game will recall them for you. There
is also a letter inside the briefcase from Jerry (DOC4). Grab the pen before
In the trashcan next to the desk is a crumbled page of Milton's diary (DOC5).
After you read that be sure to go over to the fireplace and open up the
doctor's bag on the floor next to it. Look inside it for the stethoscope. Now
that you know some phone numbers, head back down to the reception room and call
up Jerry. Tell him about your problem with the power and he'll inform you that
he has already taken care of it and had an electrician sent over. Hang up and
head out to the front gates to meet up with this electrician, except he's not
there. Looks like you took to long to get to the gates (don't worry about
starting over and meeting him in time--you never can), so he left you a note in
your mailbox and head back to town (DOC6).
Head back inside and call Jerry. He'll tell you to check out the fuses
yourself. Since you have the key to basement now, head down there. The fuse box
is on the wall. You can open it and fiddle with the fuses, but since they
appear to be fine this won't get you anywhere. This means you have to head back
upstairs and call Jerry again. Now in this time you can also call Barbara and
ask her if she can translate the Italian letter (you'll probably have to call
her twice to bring this conversation up). Once she says that she can go into
your inventory and combine the letter with the envelope, then use the pen on
the envelope to address it. Take it outside to your mailbox and drop it in.
Once you're back inside, head up to the second floor again. Go past your guest
bedroom and down the narrow hallway. The door on your right is the African
exhibit room, or I guess gallery. Against the right wall is a glass case
showcasing some masks; one of them is missing. To the right of the door is a
lion claw necklace. You'll see this again later. On the left wall are paintings
and other artifacts, as well as a large case showcasing elephant tusks. Look
around the left side of the room to find a letter sent to James Blackwood
(DOC7) from the Museum of World Arts in Rothbury.
Go back into the hall and go to the door directly in front of you to enter the
main bedroom. The things of note in this room are things you probably wouldn't
think to look for. First there's a secret hidden behind of the pictures. Now in
this game you can walk up to and examine every painting. The problem is there
are a lot of paintings in this game. And no where in the game does it ever hint
that, at some point, there might be something hidden behind one. Well, there is
a point (and only ONE point) where there is something hidden behind a picture,
and that point is right here in this room. Take a look at the painting of the
woman holding a crystal ball on the right wall (right as in your right when you
first walk in). You'll be able to swing the picture aside to see a safe behind
it. You of course don't know the combination but you'll learn it tomorrow.
Under this painting is a small table with a rotating mirror. You'll need this
With this new peculiar piece of the puzzle discovered, head downstairs to the
reception room and call Jerry. You might tell him about how the fuses were fine
and he'll suggest you go look for some candles. Call him again to ask about the
safe. He'll tell you that he'll find the combination for you and get it to you
tomorrow. Then call him once more to ask about the past owners of the house.
You could do this earlier if you wanted most of the phone conversations don't
have to be made at a certain time and you will sometimes have multiple choices
at the bottom of the screen.
When you ask about the former owners Jerry will give you a date, May 1963.
He'll mention a murder that took place around then. Head up to the second floor
and enter the only room you haven't been in yet. This is the bathroom. There
isn't anything in here except for the stand that has a rag in the drawer. Take
that and head back out into the hallway. Go up the small set of stairs here to
get to the third floor.
This is the section of the house that was under construction when it was still
owned by the Blackwood family. There are two doors right in front of you and
another to your left. The one on your let won't open so don't bother with it.
Go into the first door in front of you. This is the third floor bathroom. Take
a look at the piles of cinder blocks here and grab the metal rod resting in one
of them. Go through into the next door and take note of the small stove on the
bench before going through the next door.
This should lead you back into the hallway. Walk past the small staircase
leading up to the attic and go to the door under it. It's locked, but look
closer to see the gap underneath it. Look to your left and grab the newspaper
under the steps. Place that under the door and use that weird looking tool with
the gray tip on the keyhole. This will push the key out and, hopefully, onto
the newspaper you laid under it. Pull the paper out to find that there's
nothing on it. This is okay, though, because you'll need that keyhole to be
At the end of this hall is a marble, spiral staircase that goes up to the
tower. From here you can look out the windows onto the estate. You don't need
to do this now but you'll be coming back later. For now, head up the small
stairs into the attic. As you walk in, to your left is a music box you can toy
with but it really does nothing important. Head to the back wall and zoom in on
the stack of newspapers. Choose to search for important news for May, 1963
Once you've read that look to your right at the chest. Open it up, look through
the pictures inside, and grab the oil lamp before leaving and going back
downstairs. Remember how Jerry told you to look for candles? Well by this time
you should have gone through almost every room in the house, but just to be
sure, head through the dining room, front room, and study again before calling
Jerry to tell him that there are no candles in the house (hard to believe, I
know). He'll suggest heading to town to buy some.
So head out to your car, climb inside, and get the keys out of the glove
compartment. Stick them into the ignition and try starting the car up to find
that the batteries dead since you left the lights on. Looks like you'll be
spending your night with no lights now. You can call Jerry and whine to him
about it, but there's really nothing he can do now. By this time you should
have done everything there is to do for the first day, so head to the guest
room and get into bed.
You'll be woken up in the middle of the night by a banging noise that almost
sounds like drums. Go out into the hallway to find out where the banging noise
is coming from. Go into the gallery look to where the case holding the tusks
usually is. Except now it's not there, and the only thing in its place is a
board up door with a hammer on the floor in front of it. Walk up to it and pick
up the hammer. This will end the dream, which if you didn't know, was what you
It's not over yet, though. Now there's another noise disturbing your sleep.
This time it's scratches. They are coming from the fireplace next to your bed.
Go up to it and use the stethoscope to determine that they're coming from a
lower floor of the house. Head downstairs into the front room and use our
stethoscope on the fireplace there to figure out that the noise is coming from
the basement. When you get to the basement door Michael will think better of
going down there at this time of night. So instead, head back upstairs and get
back into bed. Since the noises have now stopped, you'll be able to get to
sleep and end the first day.
Sunday, October 13th
As soon as you wake up you'll find out that it's raining, which pretty much
ruins your chances of getting an electrician to fix the power. Head downstairs
and answer the phone. It'll be Jerry on the other end, and he has the
combination for the safe you found (just to be clear, it's 03211). Go back
upstairs to the main bedroom and try it out. Inside the safe you will find a
blue key and a work order about the construction on the third floor (DOC9).
Now take that key up to the door you tried to poke the key out of and unlock
it. Inside this room are the blueprints of the house. Take note of the
apparently secret room on the second floor. On the table you found these
blueprints, grab the silver key and paint can lid. To your left should be a
stool with a hammer on top. Grab that too and head through the other door.
In this room, climb up the ladder in front of you. Click again at the top to
see what's on the top shelf. Grab the small oil can and inspect the other cans
up there. You'll learn that one is dustier than the others. Use your rag on
this overly-dusty can to see that it is an oil can. Use that weird poking tool
to puncture a hole in this can, and then use your oil lamp on it to fill it.
Before you leave this room, use your knife on the hanging rope in here and pick
it up off the ground. Leave the room to find yourself back near the steps that
you took up to this floor.
What you have to do next is take careful note of those blueprints you saw. Head
down to the hallway of the second floor and use your knife on the spot in the
wall where the door should be. You'll see that there was some sort of
entranceway there, but it has been bricked up long ago. So how do you get into
this room? Well, remember the marble staircase on the third floor? Head up
there and take a look out of the tower windows. Next to the highest window is a
rusty lamp. Tie the rope you got off the rafter around this. Now right under
this lamp is a crack in the wall. Use your hammer on this crack to widen it.
Then grab the loose end of the rope and you will slide it through the hole you
Walk back down to the second window of the tower, open it, and grab hold of the
rope in the corner of the screen. Continue down this rope until you come to a
closed window. Push it open to enter the nursery. To your right as you enter is
a wagon filled with toy blocks. The ones arranged on the floor spell out BIN.
There are a few other special blocks to take note of, specifically the R and O.
make sure you look at what number each block has on it.
You can go through the drawers in here to find a baby's birth certificate, but
the name has been blurred. On this certificate is the baby's date of birth.
Head back up the rope and go into the attic to read up on the news for that day
(DOC10). Now that you've gotten more clues about that part of the mystery, it's
time to investigate your dream. Go downstairs into the gallery and inspect the
bottom of the case holding the elephant tusks. Use your knife here to pry off
the bottom. Behind it are a set of wheels. Oil them both with the oil can and
pull the whole case back to reveal the boarded up door behind it.
Use your hammer on these boards to rip them off. Open the door, but since it's
too dark in there to see, the game won't let you enter until you use your
matches on your oil lamp. Once inside you will see the mask that has been
mentioned in the papers you've read so far. It's pretty big. Move the bamboo
shafts out of the way to your right to unblock the window and let some natural
light in. Turn around and check out the papers on the crates to learn more
about this menacing mask (DOC11 & DOC12).
After this you can go back to the guest bedroom and actually get some work down
on your book by clicking on the typewriter (DOC13). Once you've finished that
it will be getting late. You can call Jerry to check up with him and tell him
about what you've found out today. After that, head back upstairs and climb
into bed. Of course your sleep won't last for long. You'll be awakened by more
sounds, emanating from the gallery. Head in there and go into the previously
boarded up room. Only problem is the mask isn't there! Where could it have
gone? Try to go back out through the door to have that very same mask interrupt
the door opening animation!
Once you wake up from this nightmare you'll hear those scratching sounds again.
Since you actually have a source of light now, it's time to head down into the
basement to investigate these sounds. Climb into the large furnace by clicking
on the grate. Climb through the insides of it until you can catch a glimpse of
a door beyond a hole broken in a brick wall. As you are looking at this door
you will see the shape of a person walk past it and get a jump out of you.
Scramble out of the furnace and retreat to your bed to get some rest.
V. DOCUMENT INDEX
This is where you'll find a transcription of every readable document you'll
find in this game. This may or may not come in handy, I don't know, but at any
rate I hope you appreciate the effort I put into this. Any spelling or grammar
errors are presented as-is.
Location: On the table in front of the fireplace in the front room.
Overview: Christopher Milton's diary, describing his own experiences with the
phenomenon his friend tried to warn him of.
During a fit of rage I burnt my previous diary. Not that I regret it...
as if my disjointed notes were worth anything. Their only purpose was to
keep me sane. I feel that this is my escape route, my only means of
finding some inner peace. Whenever I put my pen to this paper I feel that
I can reflect upon my situation. I just wish I had more options, that's
all. But I'm rambling. I must think clearly... focus, focus...
I've become an eternal guardian... stuck between few choices, none of
which are good. Do I fulfill a promise and violate everything that I
believe in, the very principles of my life, or am I condemned to spend
the rest of my existence in this deadened state, a ghost with no other
purpose than just being here, watching? I truly have no escape... I can't
find an appropriate solution to this problem... and I must pay the price.
I'm a shadow of the man I used to be. Only these notes remain, my
testament in these moments of meditation, my sole companion.
Today I spent the entire afternoon staring at the window, my mind a
blank. Oddly enough I really didn't care. It seems now as though it was
something... natural to me, a part of my personality. But I know the
reason very well. I've lost my soul. I'm an empty shell, devoid of any
feelings. I renounced them on that fateful day... and the worst thing is
I KNEW there were going to be consequences. No... no, that's not true.
Consequences were far worse than I expected. How could I be so blind?
I often wonder what would have happened if we had simply reversed it
all... what would happen if right now I come out and told the world what
really happened. No, I'd end up rotting in jail. Although... that might
be a better destiny compared to this eternal suffering.
I can't say for sure when it began. I just heard them, one morning,
coming from next room... the whispers. Are they real? Have I been alone
for too long? They won't stop. I can't stand it any longer...
Ever since I locked it away that everything seems to have calmed down a
bit. Perhaps James was right after all... it's madness, I know. But at
this point I'd be inclined to believe anything.
Over the years I was convinced that everything James suffered was a
misfortune, a whim of destiny... for the first time ever, I'm not so sure
anymore. I never thought it could happen, but I believe I understand now.
If this is so, then cursed be my soul! Poor James... if I had acted in
another way then maybe things would have worked out differently. But it's
too late note. And I have to suffer my Calvary...
The noises are back although this time they're different. Before, I'd
only hear them inside my head, as if someone or something was whispering
and... how to put this... interrupting my thoughts. But now... I can
really FEEL them spreading around the house. What are they?
I've realized... the noises are coming from down there. I don't want to
think about it anymore.
They are unbearable... they get worse at night... oh how I wish it would
stop... what is going on down there? I don't dare go nearer... I don't
want to know...
God how many years have passed? I have lost all sense of time...
I have to get out of this place
Location: On the desk in the study.
Overview: James Blackwood's journal chronicling his days working in Africa and
his discovery of the Dhalmaar tribe.
The construction of the railway bridge is almost complete and went quite
smoothly. It took longer than I expected, yet I wish it would have lasted
longer. I will be very sad to leave South Africa... I've become so
attached to it, its culture, its arts, over the past few months, that I
can't help feeling as if it was already a part of me. I will surely
return someday... soon hopefully, although I'm afraid there is a great
deal of work to be taken care of back in old Britain. Fortunately, I made
good friends here who were ecstatic about my new appreciation of their
country. They have offered me some wonderful objects as a token of
gratitude which I have already crated and got ready to ship, along with
many trinkets I bought myself. It looks like I'm about to start a very
substantial collection! It's a good thing Catherine agreed to move into
our new home, although I fear several renovations will have to be made.
Even more if I'm intending to start a serious new hobby. It seems I'll
have to get back to work. John Patterson has just told me some natives
are causing trouble. A very unfortunate thing, although I'm secretly
The natives won't leave. It's not like they're causing "trouble" so much
as they're unsettling our workers. The only complaint so far has been
distraction. They just stand still between the trees staring at us,
without blinking an eye. I've watched them for a few minutes and they
truly seem like some tenebrous statues. At first it was just annoying,
but lately it has become downright creepy. They seem to be... stalking
us. So it's not like they're hindering the construction but there is a
general uneasy feeling as if they were about to jump at us at any moment.
I think I will hire some protection as a measure of precaution.
Fascinating! I've been looking into these natives... they live in a
nearby village and are a very small group, yet they seem to manage quite
well. I had though of them as quite an uncivilized tribe, but their
movements are calculated and one can perceive a sense of careful
organization in their tasks. Oddly enough, they seem to be very brutish,
and their aspect looks awful, although I couldn't take a good look at
their facial features as I followed one of them completely on my own and
it could have been dangerous getting any closer. Also, the village is
poor and very rough, but some of the shacks leapt out as... inviting, or
special. It made me very curious.
I will try to come closer tomorrow...
My second expedition to the village of the natives has been foiled by an
unexpected problem at the bridge. I'm afraid it was due to a slight
miscalculation on my part... an indication that I should be focusing more
on the task at hand and put my sudden love for all African things aside
for a moment. It was my fault, and I accept it.
They are at it again... lurking beyond the forest. It's amazing how they
have changed our perception of the surroundings. At first we were
delighted by the quiet nature of the place. Now, we fear what horrors
might be concealed in that dark and foreboding cloak of trees. The tops
loom above us, overshadowing the bridge, and strange noises haunt our
meals. Even the river [Edit: my screen cuts off after these words and I
can't tell if there's anything below them] telling ungodly secrets. We
could be, of course, a bit more sensitive towards distractions, but I
can't help the feeling the area has, in fact, become more sinister.
And yet, I'm still looking forward to satisfying my curiosity about the
At last I've found something more about the neighbouring tribe! This is
an incredible finding and I just can't withhold my excitement! Some
elders at the local town happened to know about them, but only through
stories they heard. The most surprising thing is that the tribe was
assumed to be extinct long ago, but according to my (vague) descriptions
the elders think that we could be dealing with a "legend" here.
Everything they ever learned of them was during their childhood, when the
tribe was stalking the town, much in the same way they have been stalking
us. People used to call them "D'lhaum" as such was the sound of screams
heard echoing late in the night. They'd come out into the streets and see
an evil glitter atop a hill in the distance. Some would say it was a
fire, others the cursed spirit of an ancient god. Whatever it was, they
say the bright light, amid those fantastic screams, was bone chilling.
The macabre scene would suddenly stop just as it had begun out of
nowhere, never to be seen again in days to come. Intervals between those
horrible nights became longer and longer, until they soon faded into
oblivion. The tribe apparently had retreated back into obscurity... until
now. They were later known as the "Dhalmaar", a rather more... scientific
name, although none of the people I spoke with could possibly remember
I find it extremely surprising that nobody has ever heard about this
tribe with the exception of a few townspeople. They must be incredibly
rare... and judging by the stories passed on from generations in the
town, very old.
I will confess that I've become nearly obsessed with this strange tribe.
I see them as the most prized goal of my appreciation towards all South
African things... a dangerous, yet irresistible reward. I feel as if they
were my discovery. I simply have to study them before leaving. I fear I
won't have the chance to ever again. It has become an important goal of
mine... even more important than finishing the bridge.
Finally... I have managed to see them! My God, what a disturbing
spectacle! When we arrived, they were moving around the village very
slowly, without speaking or communicating with each other, each minding
his or her own business, completely alien to the rest of the world. They
were filthy looking, coarse and downright disgusting. I couldn't see any
weapons, but they could have been stored somewhere. It was all very
strange behaviour in a tribe. They must be quite unique.
Then, as if they had suddenly all become possessed by some wild spirit,
they began shaking spasmodically and screaming like mad. Some of them
dropped to their knees and lifted their heads to the sky, eyes blank, and
moaning in an indescribable way. Two of them walked away, still in that
monotonous and slow manner, and in great contrast to the rest of the
scene, into a shack. The next minute they brought out into the open an
odd-looking mask. Its shapes, colours, and overall looks, while
unsettling, were mesmerizing and I felt instantly hypnotized by it. It
rendered my modest collection of African curiosities into dull and
uninteresting items. The mask was very ominous and the whole tribe seemed
to greatly revere it. Soon, they began to gather around it and move in
circles, fluttering and chanting a guttural psalm. Judging by their
motions and aspect of the whole ritual, it must have been some kind of
I'm not sure how to explain what happened next as I feel my pulse is
already throbbing. Words fail me to recount the most disturbing thing
I've ever witnessed. One of the male villagers walked into the middle,
near the mask, by his own will. It was an almost automatic act. All of a
sudden, the remaining members became silent. I can't tell for how long it
lasted but I was afraid to breath. I think Dalby and the others were also
scared... they wouldn't blink. I remember being soaked wet and expectant.
The silence was so unnatural... Then, a few members separated from the
people circling the mask and jumped on the single villager, beating him
To completely faithful to the event, the small crowd tore him apart. They
grabbed his legs in twos and threes and twisted them in a manner I dare
not describe. His face was disfigured with their bare fingernails and
teeth, and the torso soon disappeared under the frenzied tangle of hands.
In a matter of a few minutes the villager was turned into a red sack of
bones. No one of the attackers had the compassion to snap his neck during
the sickening process. All was very methodical as if it were just another
The most terrifying aspect, though, was that the victim didn't even
cringe. The silence was so deep I could hear his flesh ripping. I would
expect any living creature to scream its guts out in such a condition. I
can't tell whether he was... drugged or half-asleep, but I did recognize
him dancing like everybody else before walking into the middle of the
circle. It was the most outrageous and sadistic sacrifice I've ever heard
of... I don't think I will ever forget what I saw.
My intentions of approaching further, even if they didn't have any
weapons at hand, vanished. Those creatures (I dare not call them human
beings) could have killed my whole company in the blink of an eye with
their rage. They seemed to be completely out of themselves and willing to
destroy anything intruding into their path.
While the images of the sacrifice still haunt my thoughts, I still can't
seem to forget that mask. It was so deceptively simple and yet perfect in
its design... I haven't seen anything like it. I surely would love to
take a better look... I feel the Dhalmaar, dangerous as they are, could
be the most important ethnical finding in decades. What I've seen today
is crying for some further investigating. I just can't leave them like
that... I would never forgive myself.
And the mask... that mask...
Location: Inside your typewriter case. Unpack it to read them.
Overview: General notes on the progress of your new novel, and what has to be
done about the ending.
The ending... have to come up with a suitable ending. The final twist was
the most celebrated aspect of VT - they will tear me apart if I don't
pull off another thing like that. But how how how...
I'm up to the point where Steve goes mad. She is confused... the visions
are becoming real. So now we know for sure there's a supernatural element
in the story (wait... is that really so?) Question is: does it have
anything to do with the creepy old lady or not? Would it be too obvious
if her powers were real after all?
Big big question: would people accept it if the solution to the story is
unreal? Damn why am I trying to please everybody here??
NO DEUS EX MACHINA
On the other hand... a realistic solution disguised as supernatural. Is
that possible? They are expecting something like that... a real and
probably outcome, that's what they loved in VT.
Bloody hell!! This is driving me insane...
Location: Inside your suitcase.
Overview: Jerry's letter to Michael about the manor.
Oct. 1th[?], 1976
It took me months but at last I think I have it managed. Well, I mean
"think" so to speak as there are only a very few details left, but I can
confirm with certainty that the house is yours. I owe you an apology
because I didn't think it would take me that much time. I tell you, I'd
have never thought that finding a Victorian house, and no more and no
less than in Rothbury, would have been so hard. The majority of the old
houses in this region are either impossible to live in or they belong to
the aristocracy. As if that wasn't enough, you and your bloody whims. Was
it really that necessary being so cut off from town? Why all this sudden
need for solitude? Well, as long as you don't become one of those typical
Anyway, the beauty will take your breath away. It belonged to a wealthy
family that always took great care of it. Around the mid 60's, it became
the property of one person... I believe a friend of the family. He lived
there for about five years or so and then abandoned it. Yes, you read
right: abandoned it. As far as I know, this lunatic, a renowned doctor,
spent his last days getting drunk in lousy bars before vanishing from the
face of the earth. Why someone would do that is beyond me...
The house then became the property of the National Trust and,
surprisingly enough, no one ever did anything about it. That is, until I
rescued it from the oblivion of course! It took me a lot of work so I
hope you like it. The price is just as we discussed earlier. I know it's
hard to believe but the price of the interior was never agreed upon, so
whatever you find inside, be it furniture or a long lost Rembrandt, it's
yours. Just remember our deal: if you find anything of great value, you
have to share it! Now I won't bother you if your sofa collection happens
to be valued in the thousands, but if you bump into a hidden cache of
money (and you can never know really) then I want a piece of it! Wait a
second... if you happen to sell any important items you find inside the
house, such as your sofa collection, I should get a part of that too.
Business is business my friend!
By the way, I sent two people over yesterday to clean it from top to
bottom. Six years without inhabitants must have left a nice coat of dust,
don't you think? They couldn't do wonders though, and you are going to
need weeks to fully clean that place. Oh, they told me the house seems to
have a rat problem, but you can't have it all!
Should you need anything, don't hesitate to give me a call!
Location: At the bottom of the trashcan in the guest bedroom.
Overview: A lost page from Christopher Milton's diary, the one you read in the
Why is it that I can't concentrate? Crumpling pages like this... I'm
getting worse, I the whisperings! They're killing me! They cannot be real
they canot bereal barred the doorway but still can hear them in my
dreams. How to get rid of it? If it was only that simple... but tearing
it apart would force me to admit its otherworldly nature. No! It just
can't be possible... I can't allow these thoughts to cross my mind... But
I can really hear them... so clearly. Have I really lost it? It just
can't be that I'm experiencing exactly what James did. It has to be
influence. How else to explain that every time I walk past the gallery
the whispers grow louder? They're luring me inside... it wants me closer.
I can hear them again... yes the tortured souls of the fallen now
suffering for eternity a chant next room I know for sure its source
now, I can't fool myself any longer are those drums?? oh please for
Christs sake, don't let it be drums I have to document this I have to
keep going because if James was right... may God have mercy on our
Location: In your mailbox after Jerry tells you about the electrician he sent
Overview: The electrician's note telling you to call Jerry back.
Mr. Carter asked me to fix a power problem in your residence. I was told
to meet you at the gates, but after several minutes you still did not
appear. I waited as long as I could but when I saw no signs of you, I
felt I must leave.
Please contact Mr. Carter immediately when you get this note.
Location: On the table against the left wall in the gallery.
Overview: A letter thanking James for his donation to the museum.
Durham Museum of World Arts
19th. of September, 1962
I'm going to make use of these resting moments to thank you once again
for your kindness. Those shields that you have donated to us are
wonderful! If it weren't for you, our section dedicated to African
objects wouldn't be anything else other than a mere collection of
Also, I've been looking into these "Dhalmaar" you mention. I have to say,
they seem to be rather fantastic. If it wasn't for your persona; account
of their activities, I'd dismiss them as old wives tales. I've found a
few books mentioning them and I'd be very happy to lend them to you. They
will be mailed at once. I hope you can satisfy your curiosity!
Location: The stack of newspapers in the attic.
Overview: An edition covering the accusation of murder against James Blackwood.
NORTHUMBERLAND DAILY NEWSPAPER
Tuesday, 25th May, 1963
TERRIBLE NEWS SHOCKS THE COMMUNITY OF ROTHBURY
Mr. James BLACKWOOD, distinguished resident of this town and a widely
acknowledged construction engineer, was accused of murder yesterday by
Miss Eva MARIANI, maid of the Blackwood family. While the nature of this
situation is of the most unusual, given that Mr. BLACKWOOD is a highly
respected gentleman, Miss MARIANI, an Italian immigrant and aspiring
photographer, affirms to having a photograph that supports this
accusation. "I knew no one would ever believe me so I took a picture of
him", she says. "I was supposed to be in town during the afternoon but I
didn't have the need to... I mean, I didn't have any errands to do, so I
was in my room and saw this shadow out in the garden. When I glanced
through the window, I just couldn't believe my eyes... the Lady... Oh
God, the sole though of it sends shivers down my spine". The photograph
in question is in possession of the authorities, and it has been revealed
that it clearly shows Mr. BLACKWOOD burying a shape in his garden. "We
can almost confirm that the shape is a body", says police chief William
BAILEY, "but even if the image is not clear, this alone with Miss
MARIANI's statement is enough to open a serious case against Mr.
BLACKWOOD. Police officers are already heading to the Blackwood Manor as
Up until this accusation it was believed that Mrs. Catherine BLACKWOOD
was on a trip. "According to the information we received from the school
where she teaches", the police chief continues, "a notice was sent to the
teachers' department which stated that Mrs. BLACKWOOD had to leave on a
sudden trip and that she would make use of her license to do so. Miss
MARIANI's accusation puts Mr. BLACKWOOD in a very compromising situation.
Even if we can't find anything in the garden, he has a lot of explaining
The efforts of Dr. Christopher MILTON, one of Rothbury's most respected
doctors and long time friend of the Blackwood family, to minimize the
facts have been unsuccessful and the news is the subject of discussion
throughout the whole town. Hundreds of rumours are crossing the land.
Theories range from plausible and well conceived to wild and crackpot
ideas. But the question that keeps lingering in everybody's mind for
which the answer has yet to be found is: why would a wealthy and educated
man cold heartedly murder his wife after 30 years of marriage?
Location: Inside the safe in the guest bedroom.
Overview: The work order from the Martin Brothers, the contractors in charge of
the addition of the third floor to the Blackwood Manor.
Mr. James T. Blackwood,
The Blackwood Manor,
We hereby propose to furnish all equipment, materials and labor to
complete the contract for the construction of a second floor for The
Blackwood Manor of Rothbury, Northumberland, in accordance with plans
and specifications prepared by Mr. James T. Blackwood, dated October 31,
1960, for the sums as follows:
BASE BID: THIRTY FOUR THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY SIX POUNDS
ALTERNATE NO. 1: Deduct ONE THOUSAND POUNDS (1,000.00)
ALTERNATE NO. 2: Deduct ONE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED POUNDS (1,500.00)
ALTERNATE NO. 3: Add THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY POUNDS (350.00)
ALTERNATE NO. 4: Add THREE HUNDRED POUNDS (300.00)
UNIT PRICE NO. 1: ONE POUND (1.00) per cu. yd.
UNIT PRICE NO. 2: TWELVE POUNDS AND FIFTY PENCE (12.50) per cu. yd.
We agree to commence the work as directed and complete all work
thereafter within a reasonable length of time based on our ability to
secure materials. Employer understands the construction may last from
eighteen to twenty-four months.
Permission is granted to make use of the special bank account 631 9102
created for this particular occasion located at the National Bank of
Northumberland (contact number: 01912 94144).
MARTIN BROTHERS, CONTRACTORS
Location: The stack of newspapers in the attic.
Overview: An edition covering the death of the Blackwood's newborn son.
NORTHUMBERLAND DAILY NEWSPAPER
Wednesday, 10th August 1961
Sad news hits out beloved town today. Following an announcement that
was received with rejoicing amongst many, that one of the most
illustrious members of our community, Mr. James BLACKWOOD, we now have to
relate a macabre turn of events.
The son that was being lovingly awaited by the Blackwood family died
shortly after the delivery due to a strange ailment. Understandably, the
information disclosed about this happening was succinct. It appears that
Mrs. Catherine BLACKWOOD was already suffering from pains in her stomach,
probably an indication that there was something not healthy about her
pregnancy. Dr. Christopher MILTON who attended the birth assured us that
he made every possible effort to ensure a safe delivery, but with bowed
head he said that the boy was already doomed ever since his conception.
The cause of death has not been stated, but those few close to the
Blackwood family have said thee were serious complications during the
Helping to relieve that somber news, Mrs. BLACKWOOD was thankfully
found to be out of danger. Her husband did not wish to comment about the
Location: Inside the boarded up room behind the elephant tusk case.
Overview: James' letter to Dr. Milton explaining his fears about the mask.
June 24th, 1962
Please excuse the tone of this letter. I know I must sound like a raving
madman, but I truly can't find a proper way to put together all the
thoughts that have been taking my sleep away these past days. There is a
reason behind all those recent adversities.
It's the mask Christopher, it's that mask I told you about. I wouldn't
believe it myself if I hadn't studied its origins on my own, but it's
really the source of all my suffering. The tribe it belonged to... I... I
must confess I didn't take the mask by "appropriate means". And I fear
this might have unleashed some terrible wrath against my life and
everything that surrounds me.
It's been over a year ago since I witnessed the most outrageous acts of
violence that not even in my worst nightmares could I have imagined, and
the mask was the epicentre of it all. What I was thinking of when I took
it is beyond me; it was probably a vicious streak of greed, but I can see
clearly now. It represents Evil and I'm truly convinced this Evil can
somehow take shape and punish those who have disgraced it. I did, and now
I must face the consequences.
I will take some more time to investigate this. I might even go back to
South Africa to seek help, although something tells me not even returning
the mask would do any good. The damage is already done. And I believe
it's getting worse as the days go by. Every time I walk past the gallery
I can hear some incessant odd chatter, as if something was being plotted
inside. And those voices, Christopher...they seem to be angry.
Please, help me. Come and see me as soon as you can.
Location: Inside the boarded up room behind the elephant tusk case.
Overview: Another page from James' diary about his research on the mask.
My recent researches on the Dhalmaar have shed some light upon their
terrible activities. I understand now that the lack of existing
information about them was not only a cause of their small size and
rarity, but also a reluctance or rather superstitious attitude towards
their nature. Even some of the most important historians of South Africa
will refuse to mention their name, usually referring to them as the "war
tribe". After digging into some of the most obscure books I could find
about the subject, I must admit now that reading them made me very
nervous and uneasy, bringing back the memory of those horrible acts I
witnessed on that day. I can't understand why any human being,
uncivilized or not, would behave in such a manner. War among savage
tribes is of course very common and a recurring theme in History. But the
Dhalmaar... they went beyond war. Usually a tribe will engage in battle
to conquer new territory or perhaps defeat an enemy. They did it for the
sole reason of destruction and extreme love of violence.
The account of their actions is downright scary. They'd invade villages,
slaughtering every inhabitant without regard for their sex or age. Men,
women, children would inevitably perish by their fury and hate. Which is,
I think, the most unsettling element of their stories; they didn't use
any weapons. They killed villagers with their bare hands and teeth as if
they were drawing power from an unearthly source. I find it hard to
believe this, and I hadn't seen them with my own eyes I'd say they were
some kind of wild legend. Once they'd slaughtered every living thing in
the village, they'd burn it to the ground, every single construction or
possession of the fallen villagers, proof that they definitely were not
interested in conquering or even taking some advantage of the terrain.
Their motives were moved solely and purely by an incredible disdain of
life and hatred towards anything that wasn't from their village. That is
another curious thing; they somehow managed to sustain a constant
population level, as if they controlled exactly the amount of people
needed for an attack but at the same time warrant survival using their
few existing resources. I fear this wasn't some kind of wondrous
organization system but rather an elimination process of a "useless"
member or an unnecessary child. I dare not think about it but I'm afraid
this would explain why they didn't need to hunt for food; they feasted
Now I know what the mask I took stands for... and I shiver at the thought
of it. I must confess I'm worried. I don't know why, but I fear for my
Location: On the desk in the main bedroom.
Overview: The only real progress Michael ever makes on his novel.
Suddenly, she stopped and stood there, paralyzed, hesitant to give any
credit to what her eyes were seeing, and completely unaware of the
potentially dangerous situation. Surprisingly, there wasn't anything
unusual or strange about the event: little Cathy was hastily crossing the
living room towards the huge oak door, her fancy black dress fluttering
at every footstep. As the girl reached the doorknob, she turned to look
back at Marian and urged her with a whisper to hurry up.
But Marian wasn't seeing Cathy; her memories haunted her back and
displaced reality, giving room to the nightmarish vision she had spent
months trying to forget ever since her first visit to the old house. In
her dream she saw the little girl also wearing a black dress emerging
from a passageway hidden in the room. She'd never actually managed to
glimpse where the passage was, only saw the girl running towards her, her
small face contorted in a horrible grimace. Marian quickly realized it
was a twisted version of the Cathy she would knew later, as if her figure
was then distorted by a veil of smoke. Her exact movements through the
room, reaching for the knob, facing her back... those were too many
coincidences to ignore. It wasn't a nightmare that she experienced that
day... nor a ghost, something she refused to believe in, but was now
willing to blindly embrace as the truth, given the shocking vividness of
the vision. A ghost would come from the past what she'd seen came from
Her thoughts were interrupted as a figure behind her cast a shadow
across the doorstep.
- "You filthy liar, you have betrayed me" -, groaned a deep voice.
MORE TO COME SOON