In The Past...
The name Wolfgang Hodenstahl was once synonymous with 'Adventure'. World explorer, millionaire philanthropist, amateur archaelogist, big game hunter, and of course, ladies' man, the handsome second-generation German American made headlines in all the right papers and friends in all the right circles. His exploits, embellished with the artistic liberties of journalists, held the public in thrawl while his many monetary and artifact contributions to leading scientific institutions made him popular in academic circles as well. (Although more than one archaeology professor was known to gripe that he tended to destroy more history than he preserved.)
His charming, self-deprecating personality made him approachable and at every party or gathering he was the perfect guest: famous, interesting, entertaining, but not one to hog the spotlight. His own parties at his large estate in northern Massachusetts were always well attended and he was known to go bear hunting in the area in the company of Theodore Roosevelt and his cabinet.
On March 1st, 1908, he left the country on a particularly expensive and well publicized expedition to Africa from where, he claimed, he would bring back extraordinary proof of mankind's earliest selves. Leaving the academics lurching between scepticism and anticipation, he set off by ship to Europe and thence, to darkest Africa. The trip was to take six months.
Three years later a broken Hodenstahl crawled into a British settlement on the Gold Coast, his guides and expedition members long gone and his mind unhinged. He was quickly returned to the 'States where the tabloids buzzed madly about what horrible fate may have befallen the expedition and exaggerated every detail leaked about his condition. After a brief stay in Arkham Sanitarium, he returned to his estate and fired all of his staff save three. He refused all visitors and interviews and in time the public grew bored and sought scandal elsewhere.
The world seemed to forget that he existed. For ten years no one has heard from him, not a letter, not a telegram, not a check. Until now.
In The Present...
Several individuals have received strange letters in the mail. Handwritten on fine parchment, they are sealed in dark green wax with a coat of arms bearing an anvil and a coiled serpent.