Alva, Oregon

Alva is a town located in southwestern Oregon, with an approximate population of 15000 people. It's primarily a logging town with some farming and a small tourism industry. It has a reputation for being haunted and is the current home of several mages.

Early history

To really understand Alva is to understand its history, and the unusual going-ons which transpired in its early days. Officially founded in 1853, it almost seemed as if the town's luck was cursed. Weather was bad and an illness claimed several of the town's members. Workers also claimed to hear strange noises from the forest - shrieking, yelling, and growling that was neither man nor any known beast, was how they described it. And what's more, people were disappearing and equipment was being ruined, as if torn to shreds by a monstrous creature. And then as if all of that wasn't bad enough, Arthur Smith arrived.

Back in Nebraska, Arthur Smith had never much liked Clarence Prouty. There were quite a few reasons for this. One was that Clarence had refused to stay down and quiet instead of speaking up when Arthur was telling fibs. That time Clarence had stepped up to defend a man that Arthur was trying to bully into a fist fight didn't help, either. And certainly a lot of it had to do with the fact that Clarence had married the girl Arthur Smith liked, a Miss Mary Erwin. (Not that Clarence had done anything wrong by this; Mary simply didn't like Arthur and she liked Clarence, and that was that.) But the way Arthur saw it, Clarence's whole existence was an insult to him.

When Clarence and Mary took off out west, the both of them never gave a second thought to Arthur; he was in the past and behind them now. When they reached their new home, it didn't take them long to get settled in and get to business, and for years they worked together. The couple had only one child, Alva. She was quite sharp, if somewhat unusual. The girl would often spend time alone in the woods and come back with twigs and needles and the like knotted and knitted up into assorted shapes. As Alva grew older, she learned to shoot and would often go out to hunt while her parents tended things back home.

The years rolled on and the little settlement grew, though nothing was ever easy for the residents. The aforementioned illnesses and bad weather took their toll on people, and many wondered whether they should have tried their luck elsewhere. Nonetheless, by 1853 the little settlement had grown into a proper little town that needed a name. It was eventually decided that they'd name it Mudhole, because it was a pretty apt description and with everything that had been going on, senses of humor were a little dark.

In 1855, things got worse when a few people went missing or turned up mutilated in the forest. Rumors of a monster came about - people described it as huge and predatory, though unlike anything they'd ever seen before.

And a few months after that, Arthur Smith came to Mudhole - now very wealthy from his own business ventures back East. Clarence knew this could only mean even more trouble, and very soon. Indeed, Arthur offered to buy up Clarence's business and offered to buy up people's homes so they could go and move elsewhere - and while many people believed this to be divine providence, the Proutys knew otherwise. Even though Smith was paying workers more than enough to leave, his offer for Clarence's business was far less than it was worth. If Clarence Prouty were to sell and leave, he would be nearly penniless wherever he ended up.

So even as workers began to leave the town, Clarence hung on in the hopes that fortunes would improve. But whatever was lurking out there in the woods was not going away; if anything, it was getting more and more aggressive and brutal. A hunting party that had gone off in search of it had even been found torn to pieces. So at the rate things were going, Clarence would have no choice but to sell before long.

Alva was now a woman of 22; a small, fair-haired thing that most people would never suppose was up to any trouble. She felt that there was something going on that they were overlooking, but she wasn't quite sure what. So she decided that she was going to figure it out. So she put her mind to the situation and considered everything that she knew about it - people had started hearing the monster a few months before the arrival of Arthur Smith. Arthur didn't seem at all bothered by the fact that the monster was a real and present danger; if anything, he seemed perfectly confident that he could settle here and start up a business and that everything would be fine. Alva realized that meant one of two things: either Arthur irrationally believed that this creature would cause no real trouble for himself and his business, he didn't actually want to run any business here, or he was somehow in control of the creature. And since Arthur was a successful businessman, he would know that a liability like that would make for a bad investment and he'd certainly know better than throwing all that money away just for a little petty revenge.

Alva decided to start investigating - not out in the woods where the others had gone, but in Arthur Smith's very room at the saloon - she knew which one it was for the fact that the local buzz was that he was staying in the largest room, which as everybody knew was the third on the left on the second floor. Rain had been pouring down hard and thick over the last few days, which gave her a perfect pretense. She went to the saloon and checked herself into a room claiming that the roof had over her bed had sprung a leak and so she needed somewhere else to read and sleep until the roof could be repaired. Once that was all arranged, she made a show of chatting with a local friend of hers in the bar until she saw Arthur leave. Then, she went off for a bit and came back a few moments later, and claimed to the owner that she'd lost her key while out relieving herself and that she needed to get to her room right away to deal with some lady issues. Thus she was given the master key, and off she went to investigate Arthur's room. Inside on the desk she found a note that read: Hiram - there's some trouble down at the mill with John Early. See about it Friday night.

John Early was a man who worked at the sawmill, and a good friend of her father's. Alva hurried to his house to warn him that he might be in danger. Once there, she told him that she believed that Smith was somehow responsible for the disappearances and damages and that he might ought to avoid the sawmill on Friday. Unfortunately, she couldn't give a solid reason why she believed Smith was connected to all of this, and John didn't heed her warnings. So Alva disguised herself in men's clothes and went to the mill that Friday, and she kept her eyes on John. After awhile she saw him head off alone (likely to tend the call of nature) and also - she saw a young man following him, glancing back as if to make sure no one saw.

Off she followed them, creeping along silently as she'd learned to do on her hunts. They were off into the woods a distance when the man following John suddenly stopped. It happened so quickly that she didn't have time to believe that it was actually happening - the man all at once swelled up to massive size and took on a monstrous form. It was seven, maybe even eight feet tall, with a long toothy mouth and massive claws. She could see scars and fresh wounds where it had been shot before - but it was clear that none of the bullets had penetrated its thick hide. Before Alva could work up the nerve to make even the smallest noise and possibly save the unaware John Early, the creature took a powerful swipe at him - and Alva knew he wasn't going to make it. While the creature went over to John's body to make sure the job was done, Alva tried to creep away to safety. But the recent rain made everything slick, and she tripped and slid down. The creature heard this and took chase.

Alva got up and ran as best as she could in the wet forest floor and with boots a couple of sizes too big, and she was almost sure she wasn't going to live to see tomorrow. She'd hoped to run back to the town (she doubted the monster would follow her there), but she was so turned around that she really had no idea where she was going.

The next few hours were terrifying; Alva could find no hiding spot that the creature would not eventually discover. She tried hiding under shrubs, she tried hiding at the bottom of a gulch, and she tried hiding under a fallen tree. Every time, it caught up to her. Alva was about to dash away again when she heard a voice say, "Now I don't wanna hurt you, you know."

She turned and looked around, and it was the man who'd followed John out into the woods. Though she knew that he and the creature were one and the same and that the creature had been hunting her down with intention to kill, she was exhausted and just needed all of this to end somehow. She didn't particularly care to die, but somehow or another she needed things to be over and running hadn't done that so far. So she said, "So what do you want?"

The man stepped closer and said, "Well now, I'm hoping you and me can put an end to all this running around. And now's I can see you're a little lady, I'd rather not have to hurt ya."

That got Alva indignant, and she took a deep breath and yelled, "So it's so much better to kill me when you think I'm a man? What's the matter with you, Hiram?" Alva didn't see why it was all right to just go and kill anyone at all. Plus she wasn't too convinced that he was honest about what he said, considering his hand was close to the knife on his belt.

Hiram's hand moved away, and for a moment Alva thought that maybe he was going to try and handle this peacefully, but instead he morphed back into the creature.

Alva took a deep breath and looked at her surroundings. There were trees around. The ground had rocks. And over to her left was a ravine - she could just see where the ground dropped off, and she could hear a waterfall.

Then the creature - no, Hiram, she knew she should call it, for they were one and the same - came for her. And Alva had an idea. She didn't know whether she could survive this idea, but she knew of nothing else to do at this point. She turned and ran toward the ravine and dropped to the ground near its edge. Hiram followed cautiously, clearly expecting something. As for Alva, she stayed very still until Hiram got close - and then she jumped to her feet and scrambled around behind, and gave him a push from behind. The slick, muddy ledge gave way and he fell down below. Alva nearly went with him, but she took hold of an exposed root and pulled herself back up. She laid there in a daze for a few moments before picking herself up and going back home.

Back at home she found the sheriff and reported that she'd fought with Hiram in the forest and that he'd transformed into the creature. There was skepticism at first (a man, transforming into a creature like that?) but she insisted that they come and see for themselves. At last, the sheriff and a few others (including her father) came out to the ravine. At the bottom, they found Hiram's broken body. There was some question as to whether the "creature" had ever truly existed or whether their imaginations had gone wild with them, and some wondered if Alva had gone and killed an innocent man in a fit of madness. But when they went through his pockets, they found a note from Arthur instructing him to go and take care of one of the men who'd been killed. Whatever had happened, it was hard to deny Hiram's guilt.

When Arthur Smith was questioned, he at first denied knowing Hiram, but when the evidence of his connection was presented he admitted to having met the man in Nebraska. Investigations of Smith's things proved this to be the case - letters indicated that he'd met him and had struck up a deal with him: Hiram would help him terrorize the town into submission. The young man had gone along into the town several months before, posing as a new worker and occasionally taking form to attack the residents.

It was a shocking discovery, and many people weren't sure what to make of it. Many suspected that Hiram had made a deal with the devil. Smith recounted that the man had told him that he'd had this gift ever since he'd been hit by lightning, and the way he'd seen it he'd been given a gift from God. Many found that story preposterous, and even today many versions of the town's history insist upon a very lurid story in which Hiram sacrificed some young girl for his demonic abilities.

But whatever had happened, there was now a newfound sense of hope. The monster was gone, and no one was being slain anymore. Sure, the weather was still bad, but it almost felt as if anything was possible - perhaps if this could end, then everything else could turn around. And slowly, it did. Though the weather was still terrible, fewer people grew ill and new workers eventually came in. In 1864, Alva Prouty took over running the business from her father, and she ran it very well. Occasionally, there were rumors that the ghost of the Hiram beast (as it had come to be known) had been seen out in the woods, and sometimes mysterious disappearances were blamed on it, but there was no reason to think it was more than rumor and superstition.

Alva never married, though her life was quite full running the business, which she very much enjoyed. She died in 1897 at the age of 64. Gradually, people told stories of seeing Alva's ghost out in the forest, and one person even claimed to see it fighting the specter of the Hiram beast.

Alva in the 20th century onward

In the early 20th century, residents started to feel that Mudhole (which was now far more than a muddy old hole) needed a better name. Among the many suggestions that were given, it was "Alva" that stuck. In 1916, Mudhole, Oregon officially became Alva, Oregon.

In 1917, a local resident named Matilda Garrison wrote a book on the assorted supernatural incidents alleged to have happened in Alva (many people had their own odd stories to tell that had nothing to do with Alva Prouty or the Hiram beast). In time the town caught the interest of those with interest in the supernatural, and the town has since then been sporadically visited by ghost hunters and the like. In the 1960's, a few people opened up their own paranormal tour offices, complete with cheap imported souvenir goods for sale.

Alva's reputation as a supernatural town has attracted a lot of people interested in such matters over the years. Ghost hunters, mages, and other curious folk have all come along over the years; most of them to visit but some to settle permanently. In 1973, a 32-year-old mage named Tracy McCormack came from Portland to live in Alva and spent considerable time investigating various locations claimed to be haunted. McCormack also wrote and published several books on magecraft and made a side business out of getting nasty entities out of people's homes. In 1998, McCormack began offering magic classes. Today, there are several people in and around Alva who consider themselves mages, and many of them act to protect the area from dangerous supernatural entities.

Related SoulMettle content:

Magic: An Overview

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