Prof. Constantine Narek, of the physics department of Miskatonic University, receives a letter from a friend, Prof. Abraham, historian, who is in a field trip in Salem, with a fellow geologist and archaeologist. The letter says he has had revealing finds, and needs to talk to Narek as soon as he arrives back in Arkham, in a week. It also says he has something to deliver to Narek, for safekeeping.
Prof. Abraham takes a lot longer than expected to return. Searching for him, Prof. Narek goes to Dean Watson, and discovers that his friend is commited to Arkham Sanitarium. He supposedly got separated from his friends one night, and was found two days lated, delirious. Prof. Narek is given the quest of rescuing him, drawing the least attention possible.
As Prof. Narek arrives with his assistant, Mr. Murphy to the Sanitarium, he finds staff to be mistreating patients, and Abraham to be agitated and incoherent. Abraham mumbles about Old Ones, the cults in Salem, the finding that it all is true, and of found genealogies. Narek calms him down and says he is getting him out of there if he behaves.
Back in the Miskatonic University, he goes do Dr. Ward, chief of St Mary’s Hospital, and asks him to remove prof. Abraham to a place where he is better treated. Dr. Ward seems very sad about their mutual friend, and promises to get him moved from the Asylum to the Hospital.
Noticing some commotion at the University, Prof. Narek discovers the colleagues of Prof. Abraham to have returned from the field trip a week ago. He finds one of them, Prof. Dyer, geologist, in his office, staring at rocks alone. Talking to him shows him resentful of other professors, as they all seem to be talking to his back about what happened to Prof. Abraham.
According to him, Abraham got rid of them to break into an old residency, after having found some old genealogies. He was already acting strange, but whatever he found made him crazy. He then dismisses Prof. Narek, saying he is too busy with his rocks.
Hearing his friend Abraham is now at the hospital, prof. Narek goes to visit him, and finds him very distant and forgetful. He only remembers going to Salem, and not anything that happened there. Narek asks if he can get his apartment ready for him, and Abraham agrees and gives him his key.
He goes to the apartment with his assistant Murphy, a small place in the northwest area of Arkham. The place is a dark mess, with heavy shutters over the windows and papers and books and statues everywhere. With Murphy helping him, he cleans some of the mess, gets light coming in the windows, and finds what appears to be a pile of mail.
Sorting through the mail, he finds some things that could be what Abraham wanted him to have: some larger envelopes, one containing Salem genealogies, another one a book in German, both appearently sent by Prof. Abraham to himself. Searching the rest of the house, he grabs some more papers concernimg Salem.
First studies of the book that same night showed it to be a very dense and hard to read book, with no index or noticeable chapter separation. The papers on Salem are many historical and clerical accounts, plus genealogies. The genealogies on the mail are also from Salem, and are not included in the larger official genealogy. They concern four generations of a certain Orne family, arriving in Salem and leaving. There are mostly single sons and infant deaths.
When visiting his friend Abraham the next afternoon, Narek finds that he died the night before. He goes to talk to Dr. Ward, who says he died from heart complications. He says he looked fine when he arrived, but that he was very tired. Narek asks about the medic who made the autopsy, Dr. Ward points him to Dr. Wilkinson.
Leaving the hospital, he gives the book another attempt. He discovers it is an account of exotic cults from around the world, titled Unaussprechlichen Kulten, roughly “Unspeakable Cults”. It is written in a mix of personal narrative and descriptive, not like an Encyclopedia.
The next day, Prof. Narek attempts to talk to Dr. Wilkinson. After waiting the whole day, he gets to meet him and his assistant, nurse Payne. They claim that they had not performed autopsy on Dr. Abraham, that instead Dr. Ward had ordered them on other tasks, and that a resident student had performed the autopsy.
They call the student, and he seems very nervous. He confirms to have performed the autopsy, that Prof. Abraham had died of heart complications, and throws up when Dr. Wilkinson starts asking details.
Prof. Narek, Dr. Wilkinson and nurse Payne, fearing who might be listening, set up a meeting later that same day, and Prof. Narek leaves them to their medical duties.