Ghost of the Lake by Silvia Vanni
Whatever happened to the Indigo Lady
Whoever drew her to the sea?

Whatever happened beneath the oaks so shady
Whoever could her killer be?
The Sea Islands are full of ghost stories. Widows seeking their soldier husbands, children buried alive during tuberculosis outbreaks, ghosts of civil war dead and lynching victims, and in one case a french jester named Gauche. A good ghost story is as Southern as collard greens and sweet tea, and you can’t sit in one place long without hearing about someone’s supernatural encounter. This is why the Low Country Crawl needs a plethora of spooks for the players to encounter.

The Indigo Lady

About fifty years ago, when the Islands were still being tamed, a woman came from across the sea to make or rather increase her fortune. Pale as the moon and smooth as a milkmaid’s skin, the radiant Lady Elmyra Pinckney was a beauty and a force to behold. With her came a veritable army of craftsmen, architects, and engineers who constructed Azurholm, the palatial estates where Lady Pinckney made her home. Also following Lady Picnkney was a hoard of debtors, indentured servants, and slaves upon whose backs she would build her empire.

Next to rice, the Islands’ greatest cash crop is Indigo, and this is all thanks to Lady Pinckney dominating and taming the local species. Within a few years of her arrival, Azurholm was among the richest and most productive plantations on the whole coast. This wealth gained Lady Pinckney friends and enemies aplenty, all those wishing to capitalize on her success or steal it away. She held marvelous galas and feasts, attracting suitors by the dozen turning them all away with a smile and a wave. Many a wife AND husband were made jealous by her wiles and wealth.

It was at one of these galas that disaster struck, though accounts of the event are as varied as the people telling of them. Some say it was an accident, a misplaced fireplace grate and a smoldering carpet. Others claim it was arson wrought by a stilted lover or a jealous rival. Still others say it was revolution, after all it was from human suffering that she made her fortune. Regardless, within minutes Azurholm was consumed, leaving Lady Pinckney and her party-goers standing under the oaks, helplessly watching.

Some witnesses say that Lady Pinckney wandered off under the canopy of moss and oaks by herself. Others claim a tall grey figure walked beside her, hand upon her dropped shoulders. It was the last time any would see her alive. The next day, her body was found upon the shore, crab nibbled, sodden, and blue as a fresh bruise. Her estate and lands were auctioned off, and it wasn’t long before Azurholm was being rebuilt for a new master. Only, it seemed to have other plans. Materials would go missing, accidents would occur with increasing frequency and severity. Azurholm would change hands again and again, and each time it would refuse to be completed. Every time it would nearly reach the end, a mysterious fire would consume it, leaving only the stone front stairs.

Eventually Azurholm was left to go to seed. The estate was consumed by the wilderness once more and the grounds of the mansion left to rot. But this does not mean Azurholm was abandoned.

Ever since her death, Lady Pinckney, or as the locals have started calling her, The Indigo Lady, would be spotted wandering the estates and even as far as the coastal settlements. Blank white eyes, a sodden gown, and ethereal skin the deep blue almost purple of indigo, her specter roams the island at will, bringing fear and confusion in her wake. On nights where the sea-fog and the tides are high and the moon shines through it all, witnesses claim to have seen Azurholm itself sitting in its rubble, the solid stone steps leading to an open doorway. Some claim that some foolhardy folks have walked up those steps and simply vanished, though others think that there are any number of mundane dangers that could result in a disappearance on The Lady’s Island.

Hop-Frog, Artist Unknown

Gauche the Dwarf

Early in the the colony’s history, a number of religious refugees fled from the old world to find a safe home in the new. Among them was a dwarf, as in a little person not a “Dwarf,” who was a jester by trade. He was known as Gauche and had a reputation for being a smarmy little bastard. After spending several months at sea with him, it is of little surprise that the new colonists were feeling their tempers thin from his constant pestering and pranks. There are several stories of how he met his final fate. Some say that attacks by natives left him skewered on a spear. Some say the captain of the colonial landing party had him hung for a particularly stabbing jest. Some say he was cannibalized as the initial colony began to fail. Regardless, what remained of him was dropped into an unmarked grave on the riverfront. 

Two hundred years later, a wealthy doctor built his home upon those lands, a mansion based upon the castles across the ocean in the old country. He and his family were not long in the house before his young daughter obtained a new imaginary friend, a short man with bells on his shoes that dressed in motley. Thinking their child merely saw depictions of jesters in one of their history books, the child’s parents wrote it off. Soon, however, various inconveniences and issues began to arise. Roasts would vanish entirely from ovens, chandeliers would be set to swinging, plates would crash off shelves, small footsteps would run up and down stairs in the middle of the night, and always just at the edge of hearing there would be the tinkle-tinkle of small bells.

At first the doctor and his wife thought that their daughter had begun a series of youthful mischief, but as she always blamed the “small man” they became increasingly concerned. When they finally demanded to see this “small man” who has been up to mischief, a series of loud knocks came from the basement. This happened several times over before they realized it was some sort of coded message. The doctor consulted his library and decoded the message, “I am Gauche from across the sea. The basement reminds me of my home that I will never again see. Though I be now a ghoul, I am not cruel but I shall suffer no fools.”

Since then, the Castle, as it came to be called, has been through many hands. Oft time Gauche would make his presence known as pranks or befriending young children, but never anything more dangerous than a few thefts and a little mischief.

The Actual Chapel of Ease

The Chapel of Ease

Y’know what? I’m not going to even try to modify this one for a semi-setting neutral RPG thing. I’m just going to tell you about the Chapel of Ease as it is, because dang its spooky. Okay, so this picture above is the burned out remains of the Chapel of Ease. It was built in the 1740’s as a place of worship for slaves and local plantation owners who could not reach the main parish church every Sunday. As you see it is of a distinctive white coloration. This is from the Tabby method of construction. log frames and earthworks were built up into something of a mold and then a simple concrete made of oyster shells (both whole and crushed/burned into lime) and sand was poured in. While a common construction method in an area low in clay and high in oyster shells, what makes this already cursed is the fact that many of the oyster shells used in these tabby constructions were taken from Native American Shell rings. These were midden piles of generations worth of discarded shells that sat on sites of (often forcibly) abandoned native encampments.
The building was known as the White Church, for its coloration, and was used as a church until the Reconstruction Period when it was heavily damaged by a forest fire. Several hauntings have been known to reside in and around this burnt out church. Perhaps one of the best known is the Land’s End Light, a will-o-wisp type entity that stalks up and down the road outside of the Chapel. Some claim it is the spirit of a Confederate or Union soldier whose head was chopped off in an ambush attack. Some say it is the spirits of slaves who were hung from the Hanging Tree, a massive old oak with a “conveniently” straight high limb for the awful deed. More modern tales say it is the spirit of a soldier who died in a brawl at the nearby Fort Fremont or even more disturbingly the lost souls of a dozen children who died when their bus crashed into the marsh.

Another curious spirit that haunts the area is more strongly documented. In the picture above you can see a small square brick out-building. First off, the fact that it is red brick is a sign of opulence because in the 18th and 19th centuries, clay had to be imported at great cost to make brick. This mausoleum was build by and for the Fripp family, one of the wealthiest land-owning families in the region. A number of Fripps were buried there and there is at least one rumor of a child who was sealed alive inside of it who had been in a tuberculosis induced coma. During the Civil War, the door to the mausoleum was forcibly removed in search for treasure but was abandoned after an unsuccessful looting. The entrance was later bricked up, but the following day the bricks were found to have been removed and piled neatly beside the building. After several more rounds of this, the bricks were found to be scattered in front of the mausoleum and covered in raking scratch marks. Since then the mausoleum has been left alone.

Some claim to have heard quiet but fervent prayers when standing in the Chapel. Others claim to have seen a woman in white with a limp child in her arms, walking among the old tombstones. Many other minor hauntings are reported and attributed to the area, but many of them are bleed over from other local hauntings.

Is he even trying any longer?

Random Haunt Generator

Because it isn’t a good OSR blog without a random table right? Roll three times, get a ghost, a location, and a personality. Ghosts are old fashioned so they get old fashioned terms for their personalities. 

Coffin Point
Devil’s Bend
The Praise House
Beguiler’s Bluff
Land’s End
Frog Thicket
Briar Hill
Greymoss Manor
Sweetgrass Swamp
The Tabby Chapel
Shale Cape Lighthouse
Lake Hartwell
The HMS Goldfinch
Deepning Fen
The Standing Stones
St. Abhai Marsh
Bass Creek Bridge
Lost Soul
Woodland Cemetery
The Old Well

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