The Family THORN: Are they ghouls, or merely Doomed Romantics? Are they, indeed, a blood family, or a loose gathering of individuals brought together by circumstance and sympathy? All we know is that they enter the history books as early as 1597, and that members of the “family” survive tenaciously to this day; how they live and what their fortunes depend upon remains a mystery to the world at large.

While certain individual members of the Thorn family played defining roles in historical Western Europe (several of these adventures will be described in the section of the book devoted to individual portraits), today the Thorns keep largely to themselves, venturing only rarely beyond the gates of the ancestral estate nestled in the thickly-wooded Bavarian foothills and known to outsiders as Thornholme. That the estate lands are believed to be uninhabitable, and that the crumbing manse which is its main structure is sometimes half-submerged in black water during the flooding months of Spring, only contributes to the general bemusement of the locals.

The rare visitor to Thornholme invariably notices the uncanny resemblance that certain family members bear to the subjects of portraits hanging in the family galleries, portraits painted as much as two and a half centuries ago. This has led to speculation and theories of inbreeding, although more serious historians soon learn that the Thorns are astonishingly long-lived. Indeed, a close examination of the family graveyard will reveal no stones that bear dates more recent than 1897, and that many of the names carved into them by long-dead hands are identical to those of Thornholme’s current occupants.

A carving that hangs above grand entry-hall of the main house details the family coat-of-arms, which features a rampant gryphon beneath a bat-winged clock face, these two features engulfed in flame. Beneath this, inscribed across a tattered banner, is the Latin motto “Mortui sunt autem tempus non erit senex in civitate hac nocte!” Loosely translated into English the meaning becomes even more vague: “There’ll Be a Dead Time in the Old Town Tonight!”

At great risk to life and limb, Duck Soup Productions approached the family Thorn and persuaded its matriarch, Grandmama Hobnail Thorn, to license the family tarot pack for the edification of Tarot users and collectors the world over. This unique pack, which has been in use by Thorn family mystagogues for generations, is said to have been created by a “previous” Grandmama Hobnail in 1706. It offers unique perspectives, wisdom and symbolism that are sure to be welcomed by modern practitioners of the art.

All other travelers are advised to steer well clear of Thornholme, as visitors rarely return from beyond its black gates. It seems, as certain of the locals would have it, that The Family Thorn is always looking for new blood. The safest way to learn about the family is through the Tarot pack itself, CROOKED WAY TAROT, available now from Duck Soup Productions. It is a uniquely dark Tarot that is well-suited for the Halloween season.


— Prof. N. Newton Ironwood, Department of History, Miskatonic University, ARKHAM, Mass.

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