The following document is the written testimony of Jitinder Jaishankar, an occultist under the employ of the Royal Foundation for the Secure Containment of the Paranormal (RFSCP), detailing the initial discovery and description of SCP-2696 in 1876.
It pleases me to note that our party arrived at Rosyth Hall in more-than-ideal circumstances; considering the startling events we were to witness within. It was the fifteenth of September, and the three of us - the American medium Dr. Amos Barton; his wife, Aurielie Delacroix, herself an occultist well-regarded in her home country; and myself - convened at the Wanderer's Inn at around two o'clock, wherein we awaited the arrival of our scheduled transport.
The Foundation had seen it fit to arrange for us a spacious Brougham - perhaps as a sign of hospitality to my foreign entourage, I cannot say - which was sufficient to accommodate the three of us without any trouble. The road there was pleasant, and Mrs. Barton remarked enthusiastically upon the beauty and serenity of the Derbyshire countryside. Dr. Barton merely nodded in agreement, half-lost in thought, and murmured instead that the view of the Alps from the Via Spluga would set anyone in their right wits to tears.
All this changed upon viewing of Rosyth Hall. From up on the moor it loomed, seeming to tower over us in spite of its distance. As we approached, I had a vague impression of one enveloped by a pervasive gloom; such was the vision that the house impressed upon me on first sight. I cannot begin to describe the source of that emotion, but I suspect it stemmed out of the singular way that its architecture stood out from the surrounding landscape, like the silhouette of some obscene crown, or a horned beast. Mrs. Barton, recalling a study did by one D. B. Lee in Philadelphia, attributed it to the unnatural magnetism of the place, due to the way the marsh accumulated and stagnated the earthly energy within the house, as large bodies of still water are wont to do. Dr. Barton scoffed and claimed that it was merely the work of ghosts.
Regardless of our sense of foreboding, we dismounted from the carriage with our baggage and equipment, and approached the front of the house. Up close, it reared upon its foundations in full, detestable glory. Its design was conventional, almost unconventionally so - its proportions seemed to bulge out in odd directions that converged inexplicably at right angles, giving one a sense that the house was escaping from its very roots, beginning from the inside out. The knocker on the door was of a curious design, seeming almost as an afterthought or a folly - an Oriental beast, perhaps a lion or a boar, its fearsome teeth gripping onto a smooth stone ring. Bracing myself, I pulled the ring back and knocked.
After a period of time - during which we heard heavy, damped shufflings from within, and the sound of slamming doors - the great door opened, and we were greeted by a woman whom we presumed to be Rosyth's sole remaining housekeeper. I remember that as we entered the house, there stood before us an enormous black door, about twice as wide as I was tall, that was secured with a heavy iron lock. Eventually, the housekeeper ushered us into what must surely have once been a parlour, but evidently had been modified at the last minute into a dining-room. A makeshift buffet stood against the wall, where a valiant attempt had been made to keep it flushed with the uneven sideboard. In the middle of the room, a thick cloth had been draped over several square tables to form the impression of a proper dinner reception, aided by a spread of old silver no doubt taken out and polished just for this occasion alone. Someone tittered; I am not sure if it was the American or the Frenchwoman.
We waited at great length, during which much was alluded to, but not directly commented aloud, by Mrs. Barton about the dreadful interior and ramshackle conditions of our dinner. I, being acquainted with our host, sought vainly to defend him, citing the unfortunate circumstances of his wife and children. I explained to her that grief was a terrible thing to bear alone, especially for a man such as Rosyth, who had long been used to his own peculiar solitary silences and tempers. Dr. Barton concurred with my assessment, adding gruffly that Rosyth was already an absolute crab of a man when he got to know him back at Oxford, and it was not unlike those kinds of people who tended to make strange alterations to their house and conduct mysterious spiritual experiments upon the deaths of their immediate family members.
No more was to be said to that, however, when a pale, thin shadow of a man promptly arrived at the door, looking by all means like he'd aged a hundred years in a day. It took me and Dr. Barton several seconds to register that, in fact, this was none other than our host and old acquaintance himself, Henry Percival Rosyth. How he had managed to transform himself into this state, I could only guess; but one look at his face and I saw that he bore the same eyes as other men I had seen in various places during my travels - in the ruins of a temple in the jungle of Benares, in a blood-soaked prison in Liverpool, in the middle of a blazing pentagram in Aberdeen - other, broken men, who, in a fit of fervour, devotion or grief, had perhaps performed the unthinkable, or witnessed the unknowable - and it had cost them dearly so.
He greeted us with a great deal more lucidity than his appearance suggested, and no small amount of suspicion that the Royal Foundation had sent us to spy on his private affairs. Dr. Barton, in return, coldly assured Rosyth that we were present in an entirely social capacity, and reminded him of his acquaintance with me and Mrs. Barton during the dreadful Cardiff affair of '72. Rosyth turned his gaze to me, and muttered that men like myself were not ones so carefree as to be sent on mere social visits by the Royal Foundation. His eyes met mine, and I drew a breath involuntarily.
His response did nothing to assuage the already uneasy atmosphere inside the dining room, but nevertheless Mrs. Barton and I did our best to maintain an air of civility, as Dr. Barton continued to brood at his end of the table with his impeccable air of frigid amicability towards our host. After dinner, we retired to the neighbouring drawing-room, where we talked at length of politics, the elections, and the weather. By unspoken agreement, it seemed, the topic of the Royal Foundation and matters of our profession were not broached upon at all. Throughout the night, Rosyth remained for the most part taciturn, in spite of our repeated inquiries as to his health and mental well-being - which we took to be a worrying sign. Eventually, as the fireplace chilled, so did the conversation, and Rosyth bade us goodnight.
Today, as I pen this chronicle in the warm light of the Royal Foundation's study, I find it growingly inconceivable that Rosyth could not have foreseen the events of that night. I remember that he left the room with a certain kind of gravitas, as an actor would have departed the stage, or Judas before the Pharisees. Our purpose of visit was painfully clear; yet he invited us with open, albeit grudging, arms. Neither did he do anything to prevent our eventual discovery of his affairs, nor did he dissuade us from trying with his temptingly mysterious demeanour, which seemed to conceal multitudes. I now believe that Rosyth's behaviour at the dinner table that evening was not intended to be that of one who kept secrets; rather, they were the actions of a man who wanted them to be found.
The housekeeper led us to our rooms, which appeared to be similarly refurbished quarters situated a few rooms before the dining room. This unorthodox placement of accommodations further stoked our curiosity, as we realised that in the course of our admittedly prosaic conversation, Rosyth had not mentioned, nor gave nary a hint of, the interior of his house at all - of what lay behind the locked black door. We quietly agreed to investigate this at a later hour.
I slept uneasily, and dreamt of mad things; of mazes that twisted into themselves, yet contained but one single unbroken path; of fearsome tigers that sprung from doorways rich in history; and of a singular, mournful voice, singing again and again of things long past, in whose repetition I discerned infinity. With a start I awoke, and found that I had drenched myself in a cold sweat. It was two-thirty in the morning.
At that moment, there began a soft tapping at my door. A crack of dark, a candle flame, and the conspiratorial face of Mrs. Barton peeked in. She whispered to me that it was time to go.
We had but one candle between the three of us, which cast its meagre light along the walls as we made our way to the entrance hall where we had seen the black door. Dr. Barton approached first, warily - and found to our surprise that the heavy lock had been removed. The door swung open on oiled hinges with a single push, and Mrs. Barton and I scrambled to hold it before it hit the wall. We elected to leave it open as we proceeded through the unusually long threshold into the room within.
What awaited us inside defies description, but I will try nonetheless.
Beyond the black door was madness. A corridor led to many small, cloistered spaces, each at strange angles to each other. Protrusions jutted from the walls in a medley of strange materials: at a glance I saw green soapstone, Corsican marble, the jagged inside of a geode, and dark obsidian. The ceiling was dizzyingly high, and, in places, the floor rose to meet it. An enormous spiked sphere, the colour of bone; half-formed stairs that led to nowhere; hallways that twisted and doors that met each other sideways. At some point, Mrs. Barton nodded to her husband, who produced a pair of dowsing rods and led the way towards the source of spiritual disturbance. My vision blurred, and I began to see shadows within shadows; in an instinctive act of self-preservation, I invoked the Names of God under my breath. A glance at the Bartons showed that they, too, were similarly on their guard. We located the stairs - the real ones, this time - and ascended them, as the floor reeled away behind us.
The dowsing rods swivelled wildly as we reached the second floor. At that point, I saw that my breath had fogged up my spectacles, and I shivered, suddenly aware that we were surrounded by an immense chill. My reaction was not due to the cold, for I had long been accustomed to the London winters at this point in my career. Rather, many a spiritual manifestation has been known to feed off the energy latent in the air, inadvertently or not, dropping it by no more than a handful of degrees - and the fact that it was near-freezing inside the heart of Rosyth Hall indicated to me that this was no ordinary problem we were called to resolve.
We were in the process of navigating our way through the convoluted hallway when it struck. At first, Dr. Barton's rods sparked, then blew out in a flash. The candle went out. Suddenly, I found myself gripped by an immense nausea, and as I reeled, I saw two glowing points of light in the distance - or were they close? Mrs. Barton dropped to her knees, a ward gleaming madly in each hand. There was the smell of burnt paper. Then the entity descended onto us in its full, terrifying glory.
It was as if I had plunged over the edge of a great precipice. Stretching before me, and inexplicably, all around us, was the vastness of memory… No, a single individual. I was keenly aware of a childhood, years, a courtship, love, death, and birth. Our memories are finite, but the infinite subdivision of it into slices of the individual's perception, such that each moment can be seen in more than three different ways at two different times produces an illusion of experience akin to infinity. From this, I was able to ascertain the identity of the entity, despite it not speaking a word - that of the deceased Clara Rosyth, grotesquely remanifested into not a spectre, not a ghoul, but something even less substantial, and pitifully so. The air screamed with her very name, and I felt it with every bone in my body. The two glowing points of light, which I now took to be the eyes of the sad woman, stood still in front of us, with an expression of fearsome melancholy.
Somehow I found the strength to roll up my sleeves and bare the Marks imprinted upon my skin. The familiar sight calmed my mind, and I gathered all my faculties to begin the incantation that would bound the summoned entity to my will. "Na hi kascit ksanam api, jatu…" Yet the words faltered, as if swallowed by the void; every attempt I made to contain the massive energies released by the entity was met with an equal, if not stronger, backlash. Soon, I would not even have the strength left to maintain the wards of self-protection that were surely the only thing between me and the raging torrent that surrounded us. Through the corners of my eyes, I could see Dr. Barton convulsing. Blood streamed from the edges of Mrs. Barton's mouth.
Then, from a great distance away, the torrent ebbed. Words arced above the din, a low, clear chant that peeled away at the air. The eyes of the being that was Clara Rosyth shimmered, then appeared to fade in intensity. I instantly fell to the floor, gasping for breath, with the Marks on my forearms burning white-hot into my bones. In my exhausted mental state, I paid little heed to what was about to transpire in front of me, and can only testify to the events that followed afterward with no great degree of clarity. What I can conjecture now, in the safety of the study, is that the points of light did not fade. Instead, they had simply turned around.
There were flashes of light, and fragments of phrases - I caught hints of high Enochian, Hebrew, and church Latin - delivered so quickly and so fast that I cannot recall their exact contents even now. There was the firecracker sound of several wards discharging in unison as the walls exploded into a series of rapidly-shifting sigils. Silhouetted against the chaos, I discerned the shape of a tall, thin man flanked on his left and right by two, smaller figures. Then the figures flickered, the man screamed, and all was silent.
I know not how I carried the Bartons out through the black door and into the relative sanity of the entrance hall. The housekeeper asked no questions; she seemed to intuit what had occurred within the inner walls of the house, and took to seeing to the well-being of the unconscious Bartons. The remainder of the events of that night has already been well-documented, so I shall be brief: after tending to us, the housekeeper was instructed to ride to Hayfield and contact the Royal Foundation via telegram as soon as possible; I myself managed to return to my room, wherein I collapsed on my bed and remained so until the arrival of the secondary investigating team the next day.
Of the eventual fate of Henry Percival Rosyth, not much is known. What conclusions remain can only be arrived through conjecture, and not through objective testimony. The secondary investigating team found no trace of the man, but discovered instead a number of anomalous phenomena that have already been accounted for and documented in the archives of the Royal Foundation, that paint a picture of Rosyth before his death as a mentally unhinged and obsessively deranged individual driven by the death of his wife to commit monstrous acts. However, as I have been led to believe from the facts present, it was also Rosyth who defended us from the onslaught of his tragic creation, and who sacrificed his life in return for our sanity. A man cannot be defined in his darkest moments, nor can he be defined in his proudest.
I still cannot forget the entity in the house, or her lighted eyes that wept fire. Even now, three months after the events of that fateful night, I dream of her when I sleep, and wake up surprised that I am even able to remain myself at all. Clara Rosyth may be dead - but she refuses to be forgotten.
Exorcist for the Royal Foundation of the Secure Containment of the Paranormal
31st December 1876