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MAG 23: Schwartzwald

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Albrecht von Closen was visited by Jonah Magnus, one of the original founders of the institute (?) in the spring of 1815, where they discussed Jonah's interest of the esoteric. Albrecht shared some stories that he knew, but send him a letter on 21st Mach 1816 to discuss another story that he thought Jonah might find interesting.

Albrecht's family has an estate in the heart of the Schwarzwald (The Black Forest) in a town called Württemberg. The estate belonged to his brother Hendrik, and when he died the estate passed onto Albrecht's nephew, Wilhelm who was 14 when Hendrik died and Albrecht and Clara (Albrecht's wife?) looked after him, so when he took ill in the winter of 1815 they decided to go and look after him.

When they arrived at the estate, they found Wilhelm slowly recovering and they decided to remain until winter passed. Albrecht would go for long walks during this time, during one of these walks he found an ancient graveyard buried deep in snow, in the centre was a mausoleum with the name "Johann von Württemberg". Albrecht was not aware of anyone of that name, not from good stock anyway, and mused that this was an odd place for a graveyard, so far from the nearest town, approximately 6 miles from Schramberg. He returned home.

Over dinner, Wilhelm admitted that he didn't know of Johann. The next morning Albrecht went back to the graveyard where he met a man wearing an old fashioned black frock coat and knee breeches with a wide brimmed hat. In peasant German the man asked if Albrecht was going to explore the tomb. Albrecht said he was and the man said that he had nothing to fear from the dead. When Albrecht turned around again the man was gone.

At this point Martin interrupted Jonathan Sims' recording. He apologised and Sims said that he had been getting in earlier as he didn't want to leave after nightfall. It appears that a week has passed since his encoutnter with Jane Prentiss (MAG 22), and there has been no sign of her.

As Albrecht entered the mausoleum he saw a slab of marble in the centre of the room which hid a staircase, which he descended into. Down the stairs, through a short corridor which had Johann's name engraved on it. The room was surrounded by books, which were damp. The books were on marble shelves, each engraved with a small open eye

Albrecht spotted a coin and book on the floor. The coin had the letters "JW" on the front and an image of a man with long flowing hair and the number "1279", the other side had the words "Fur die stille" on it. The book appeared to be in arabic (possible sanskrit?).

As he retired to bed that night, a serving girl, Hilda or Helga, asked if he had been to the graveyard, which be admitted. She paled and explained the story that she had heard from Tobias Kohler, an 80 year old man from Schramberg. When he was a child he used to play Johann's Steps, where you would creep down the steps of the mausoleum until you were seen, then run back. Hans Winkler's mother decided to put a stop to this and chased Hans down the steps. There was a scream, and the other children ran back to town. The local priest gathered 6 of the strongest men and ventured to the mausoleum. Hans went to live with the Becker family. Tobias also said his great uncle referred to Johann as "Ulrich's bastard", which could refer to Ulrich I or Ulrich II based on the date from the coin.

The last night they stayed at the house made them leave early than planned. When Alrecht was out walking he was jumped on by the man from the cemetery, who wasn't wearing his hat, showing his bald head and empty eye sockets. Smiling, the man reached towards Albrecht before he snapped his head up as though he heard a gunshot. He vanished into thin air and Albrecht and Clara took the first coach the next morning home. It was only during his journey that he realised the coin was missing.

Post-Statement Follow-Up Edit

Jonathan Sims could only find one reference to Johann in any of the German history reference books. In Jan Moira's "Cradle of Germany - Württemberg through the Centuries" it mentions rumours that Ulrich I, count of Württemberg, may have had a second son out of wedlock in 1255 (making him 24 in the year on the coin). 1279 was the year that Ulrich II, Ulrich I's successor, died, who was succeeded by his half brother Eberhard I.

In H. T. Moncreef's "Grim Tales", a book about unexplained and macabre deaths in 18th century Europe, a man called Rudolf Ziegler died in Schramberg in 1816. Wilhelm was investigated for his murder, but the doctors of the time claimed that the attack was "beyond the capability of human violence" and it was ruled an animal attack.

Sims also found a genealogy for Wilhelm von Closen. He married and had children, a branch of this family emigrated to England in 1908. They had a daughter, Elsa, who went on to marry Michael Keay in 1920. In 1924, their daughter, Mary Kaey was born.

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