Hallahan's Hollow Cemetery
Hawthorne Way and North Hollow Avenue

The story of Hallahan's Hollow begins in 1843, a full nine years before the village of Shrouded Hollows was first established. In the summer of that year, a painter by the name of Patrick Bran Hallahan, late of Cork, Ireland, swept into the area with his wife and bought up a good deal of land to the northwest of the town of Shadowgard. Clearing it with the help of no small number of men, Patrick Hallahan went on to establish a small artists' colony, inviting painters and sculptors and writers and more from all over the world to live in pleasant isolation where they could create and collaborate freely. And, indeed, after the Hallahan's Hollow Colony for Creative Spirits was officially opened in 1845, it enjoyed a good twenty-one years of prosperity, as some of the greatest minds of the contemporary era drifted in and out of the colony, and countless great works were born there.

And then, in 1866, the luck soured. In the spring and summer of that year, with no particular warning, the colony's popularity began to ebb. Its existing residents drifted away, giving vague reasons when they gave any at all; those who had been prepared to take up residence began to send their similarly vague regrets, staying well away, acting as though the whole area had been taken with plague. Then, in the midst of an unusually warm and dry fall, injury was added to insult, as the whole colony was destroyed in a firestorm that raged for seven days before it was finally brought under control. When the ashes settled, Patrick Hallahan, his wife Eileen, his son Sean and his daughter-in-law Laura were all dead. The only surviving Hallahan was Sean and Laura's daughter, Bridget Aisling, who had by a stroke of luck been staying with Laura's parents in Shrouded Hollows the night the fires began.

Bridget Aisling Hallahan grew into a quiet, deeply intelligent young woman possessed of a morbid fascination with the occult and the thin veil between the realms of the living and the dead; further, she had inherited a good deal of money from her parents and grandparents, and soon began to show genuine talent as a poet and playwright, all of which (along with careful investment) only served to increase her assets. Thus, she was left with enough money to pursue her interests and more than enough free time to take up the chase. Her initial dabblings reportedly proved unsatisfactory, as she took to exposing fraudulent mediums and working with other investigators of the day to expose various hoaxes, but when she met Charity Sullivan, her doubts were somehow assuaged, and she once again became a true believer. There were even those who claimed that Charity held her in some thrall, through magic or mesmerism; whatever the reason, Bridget was convinced, and soon took to vouching widely for Charity's veracity and funding the young medium's every pursuit.

Toward the end of the 19th Century, Charity began to insist that Shrouded Hollows must be given over to the dead, must become a city of the dead and those who sought them out. It surprised no one when Bridget Hallahan offered the whole of her grandfather's land as the first necropolis to be erected at the village; still, the heiress did manage to preserve the unique character of the lost colony, to some degree, in honor of her family line. Hallahan's Hollow Cemetery became an artists' retreat in death as it had been once in life, a place where the creative and the wondrously eccentric could be interred in ways that suited the greatness of their imaginations. Though a limited number of plots were sold to families of those recently deceased, leading to the creation of fairly prosaic tombs and memorials, most of the space was reserved for artists who were not yet dead but sufficiently driven by the thought of their own mortality that they had begun to put some thought into their own memorials.

Thanks in large part to this policy (which continues to the present day -- the Hallahan's Hollow Trust carefully reviews all applications for cemetery plots on the basis of artistic merit), Hallahan's Hollow is perhaps one of the most unique cemeteries in the world, one of the few places where you might find an abstract representation of the concept of life and death as two sides of the same coin next to an exquisitely crafted temple to a Greek Muse, which in turn adjoins a plot holding a miniature Egyptian period that is actually the entrance to an underground tomb filled with puzzles and brain teasers. There are statues, to be sure; there are tombstones, and most of these are also unique, but the vast majority of the space is given over to tombs, crypts and mausoleums that allow for the full exercise of each decedent's particular imagination. Some of these unique monuments even feature vaguely interactive components, such as phonograph recordings of the decedents' voices triggered by pressure plates near the monuments (though some of these are now in disrepair), to more recent tombs that include audio-visual and even rudimentary holographic components. If it can be conceived and achieved, odds are that something similar already stands within the cemetery.

One of the more unique memorials is the tomb of Bridget Hallahan herself, designed according to her strict instructions (which she was allegedly only relaying; the actual concept supposedly came from Charity Sullivan's own visions and revelations) and created by some of the best artists in the world. From most angles, the tomb appears as a broad stone pedestal, on which are mounted seven sculpted trees of differing species and corresponding colors -- ash, birch, elder, holly, oak, rowan, and thorn -- with uppermost branches that intertwine at the very apex of the sculpture, forming a seven-point star visible from directly above and directly below. In the center of the trees stands a gray mare (as Bridget was often referred to as 'the Gray Mare' or 'the Mare of the Mists' in Charity Sullivan's writings and revelations to her) flanked by two foals, one white and one black; the mare gazes firmly north, while the white foal looks over its shoulder at the northeast, and the black foal's head is cocked to gaze toward the southwest. Only from the immediate east of this sculpture can the barest hint of the entrance be seen: a sloping passage leading to a door which opens (through some unknown but remarkably well-preserved mechanism) only four times a year, from dawn until dusk at the solstices and the equinoxes.

The interior of the tomb shines with soft lighting from unseen sources -- theories on the source range from the relatively prosaic (since the tomb is only open during the day on certain days of the year, concealed copper mirrors reflect sunlight from the exterior) to the wildly ludicrous (the light is actually generated by trapped souls or spirits of some kind, who also maintain the interior and work the mechanisms). Once the average visitor gets over this phenomenon, there's much more to see: six reliefs cover the walls, with an empty space for the door between the first and the sixth; these ostensibly show scenes from Bridget Hallahan's occult indoctrination under Charity Sullivan's tutelage, but are fairly abstract in design and believed to carry some deeper meaning. Though a few people have claimed to decipher part of this meaning over the years, they also conveniently claim that an element is missing, and the extant parts are useless without the whole. Some have begun to believe that the final element is inscribed upon the back of the door, and that anyone seeking that final secret would have to overcome the mechanism in some way or allow themselves to be trapped for weeks between openings simply to uncover the secrets of the tomb.

Then, too, there is the grisly fact that the same mechanism that opens and closes the door seems to conceal and reveal the body of Bridget herself. Carefully preserved and floating in some unseen solution within a glass and metal tomb, the body is visible for a full twenty-three minutes after the door opens and twenty-seven minutes before it closes, like clockwork. Anyone who did dare spend the interval between one season's beginning and another's within the tomb would not be trapped alone -- the grim, withered form of old Bridget herself would be there to keep them company.

There are, of course, plenty of rumors and legends which claim that Bridget's soul still inhabits her body or wanders the cemetery; a few people have claimed to see her corpse's eyes open briefly, shifting back and forth as though looking for something before snapping shut again, but the most common legends have to do with a spectral gray mare often seen trotting through the trees and among the tombs at all hours of the day and night. The horse inevitably vanishes as soon as someone tries to catch it, but those who have reported seeing it claim that it seemed quite solid and clear as day. The mare is most frequently spotted in the vicinity of Bridget's tomb (which is more or less a given) and the nearby memorial to her parents and grandparents and their colony: four angels standing on a pedestal shaped like an eight-pointed star, wings outstretched with the tips nearly touching, facing in cardinal directions, with one holding a paintbrush and small pot, the next holding a hammer and chisel, the next holding a quill pen and a scroll, and the last extending empty hands to visitors. It is widely believed and accepted among all those with even an ounce of belief in ghosts that Bridget Aisling Hallahan still walks her father's land and watches over her family's most enduring legacy.