Hundreds, possibly over a thousand years ago, Silent Hill was known as “The Place of the Silent Spirits.” By that, they didn't only mean just the spirits of the dead but also of the land itself. Native American tribes performed the holiest of their ceremonies in the area, having understood the importance of the land. White settlers usurped the land from Native Americans and built the official town, and mysteriously, they disappeared. In time, another group moved in and resettled the town.
A religious sect known as the Order, who worship the fallen angel, Samael, took up residence in Silent Hill. Possibly around the same time as the Salem witch trials in the 1690's, one of the Order's followers, Jennifer Carroll, was convicted of witchcraft and sentenced to death. The Order publicly disbanded but continued to practice in private. Later, a monument with the inscription, “What happened here shall never be forgotten.” was erected on the south side of Toluca Lake in Rosewater park in the memory of the dead woman.
In the nineteenth century, a plague descended upon the town, and Brookhaven Hospital was built to house the victims. During Reconstruction, Toluca Prison gave prisoners transferred there a choice of being hung or skewered by executioners wearing tall, pointed helmets and wielding massive spears. They washed their weapons off in the swamp, causing it to earn the name, “Blood Swamp.” It was later filled in, but the name remained. The executioners held crimson and white banquets to celebrate their deeds.
The twentieth century is no exception to the oddities. In November of 1918, a boat, named Little Bardess, carrying tourists disappeared into the fog, another mysterious act attributed to the town. It is hinted that something else happened in 1939, but we are prevented from knowing exactly what.
The Order's aim was to create a child who could bring Samael into the world in human form, and so the women grew to exhibit some psychic powers through the gifts given to them by Samael which increased through breeding. Eventually, thirty-one years ago, they succeeded with the birth of Alessa Gillespie.
Alessa was born with an embryonic form of Samael inside of her, lending her even more power than the average child in the Order. With only a thought, she could drive a person insane, cause day to turn to night, and with a word, she could kill. All before she ever entered kindergarten. Around the age of seven, she started to refuse to do the Order's bidding, and her mother, Dahlia Gillespie, began a cycle of abuse, culminating in the sacrifice of her daughter in order to bring Samael into the world earlier than expected. She believed that she only needed Alessa's power. She and the other Order members locked Alessa in her bedroom and set the place on fire, reportedly taking out half the town in the process.
Amazingly, Alessa survived. Burned, in pain, and comatose, but she was alive. In the process, she split her soul in two, creating a flesh form of an infant girl and placing it by the side of the road. Harry Mason, a novelist, and his wife saw the little girl and rescued her, naming her Cheryl and raising her as their daughter.
In the meantime, Alessa was held in the basement of Alchemilla Hospital, cared for by a nurse named Lisa Garland. Lisa was addicted to a drug created by the Order called White Claudia, made from a flower of the same name. They peddled the drug to the tourists in order to generate cash flow for their cult. She was given the drug by a Dr. Michael Kaufmann, another member of the Order, in order to keep her compliant with the Order's wishes. Eventually, she protested, and she disappeared shortly afterward.
Seven years after the attempt to burn Alessa alive, Alessa began to call out to Cheryl through the bond of their half-souls, and the now-widowed Harry and his adopted daughter, Cheryl, return to Silent Hill for a vacation. Unfortunately now, things have changed. The entire town is completely blanketed in fog so thick that seeing twenty feet in front of you is considered lucky. Harry sees a girl in the middle of the road, and he crashes the Jeep. Once he wakes up, he realizes that Cheryl is gone, and his quest begins. He chases a ghost form of Cheryl through the streets of the town and falls prey to the nightmare realm, ”dying” and then waking up in the cafe in the company of Cybil Bennett, a police officer from the next town over, Brahms, who is investigating the recent events in Silent Hill.
In the course of the first game, Harry learns of Alessa's treatment, of the machinations of the Order especially in regards to the White Claudia trade. He discovers that the miasma surrounding the town has cut off the phone lines, so he is unable to call for help, and that none of the cars run at all once inside the town itself. Medical equipment, especially gurneys and wheelchairs, show up in the most bizarre of places, a signature of Alessa's time spent in the hospital. It's a dangerous world filled with demons in all forms. Inadvertently, he discovers that keeping a small radio that doesn't work otherwise in his pocket. The radio emits white noise louder and louder as the demons get closer.
A note left in an alleyway on Cheryl's sketchbook tells him that she went to the school, called Midwich Elementary. Inside the school, Harry visits the nightmare world for the first time, coming upon the large circular mark of Samael. In the bowels of the nightmare school, he sees the ghostly image of a fourteen year old Alessa before she disappears from his sight. Eventually he escapes the school and hears the ominous bells of the Balkan Church. There, he meets Dahlia Gillespie, the mother of Alessa. She begins to manipulate him, telling him that he must stop Alessa from enslaving the town in darkness.
His next destination is Alchemilla Hospital, Alessa's prison for the past seven years. First, he meets Dr. Michael Kaufmann, who almost shoots Harry, saying that he thought Harry was a monster. Exploring the hospital, Harry finds a hidden basement beneath the bottommost level, and on that level is a room with a bed and monitoring equipment. A framed photo of Alessa rests on the equipment. When the hospital shifts over into the nightmare realm, he meets with Lisa Garland, Alessa's caretaker. She's an attractive, compassionate woman, but there's something not quite right about her. She's already dead, and this one is a creation of Alessa with Samael's gift of power.
Later, Harry finds the small underground altar used by the Order as they worshipped in secrecy. It bursts into flames as he leaves, a clue from Cybil leading him to believe that Cheryl is now across the lake, and he heads back to the hospital to get directions from Lisa. After a journey through the sewers, he emerges near a motel that contains evidence of Kaufmann's wrongdoing with the White Claudia trade.
On a small boat docked on the pier, Harry meets Cybil, and they're joined by Dahlia, who urges them to find Alessa before the town is completely taken over. Cybil heads for the Lakeside Amusement Park, and Harry dodges numerous creatures on his way to the lighthouse only to find a mark of Samael emblazoned on the very top of the lighthouse. Disheartened, he makes his way to the amusement park. At the carousel, Cybil waits for him, a strange lump in her back causing her to be possessed and to attack Harry. Using a vial of mysterious red liquid he found at Alchemilla Hospital, he releases Cybil from the parasite's influence.
Eventually, Harry is confronted by the two forms of Alessa, the burn victim, and the ethereal form that was Cheryl. They merge, and Dahlia attempts the ritual to bring Samael into this world again. Dr. Kaufmann intervenes, trying to stop it with a chemical invention of his own. He fails, and the creature attacks and kills Dahlia. Harry, in turn, slays it, and in his grief, he receives another infant girl from Alessa, who keeps the building from collapsing on top of him while he and Cybil escape. Dr. Kaufmann was not so lucky. Lisa is able to extract her revenge by dragging her murderer down into Hell to face a fate worse than death for his actions.
While Harry escapes with the new little girl, it's James Sunderland's turn to experience Silent Hill's charming mystique.
This time, Silent Hill is more overt in its efforts, somehow sending a letter to James from his deceased wife, Mary.
Three years ago, she'd passed away after a long illness, and since then, James had been wasting away in his own grief. After receiving the letter instructing him that Mary was waiting for them in their “special place,” James drives to Silent Hill, discovering that a few others were also drawn to the foggy little town.
He met Angela Orosco in the cemetery on the way into the town where she warned him about the nature of the town. James persevered and walked into the dense fog, encountering his first monster under a small bridge. After beating it with a board with a nail in it, he explores the deserted town, guided only by his map and a small, broken radio found under the bridge.
Eventually, he finds himself in the Woodside and Blue Creek apartment buildings. On the third floor of the Woodside apartment building, he reaches for a key behind security bars, but a little girl, Laura, another living person in the town to James' surprise, steps on his hand and kicks away the key before laughing at him and running off. In the same building, on the second floor behind more security bars stands an ominous hooded figure staring at James as he approaches. Entering into one of the apartments, James hides in a closet as he watches that same hooded figure slay two other monsters then approach the closet and stare into it at James.
The oddest thing is not that the residents of the apartments are gone, but that there are bodies of two of them left. One is sitting in front of a snowy television, the victim of a gunshot wound to the head, and the other is stuffed into a refrigerator in his own kitchen. James hears the sounds of retching from the bathroom, and he comes upon Eddie Dombrowski kneeling in front of the toilet. Eddie proclaims his innocence before James can even ask any questions, let alone ones about what happened to the bodies.
Outside, in a dumpster, James finds a newspaper article detailing the death of serial killer, Walter Sullivan, who had jammed a spoon two inches into his neck and severed his carotid artery. The article is brief, but by its printing, the plans for the creation of a second Holy Mother in the absence of Alessa are halfway completed.
In the flooded stairwell of the Blue Creek apartments, James is confronted by the hooded executioner, Pyramidhead, for the first time in battle. Mysteriously, Pyramidhead leaves in the middle of the fight at the sound of a siren. The water drains, and James exits the stairwell back out into the street to meet Laura officially as she sits on top of a wall. She claims to know his wife, Mary, before she runs off, much to his frustration.
Rosewater Park, on the shores of Toluca Lake, was the first location that James thought of when he considered what would be his and Mary's special place. Surprisingly enough, there is someone waiting for him on the pier, a woman so similar to Mary that James often confuses them. She claims her name is Maria, and she asks James to protect her. He takes on the role of her guardian for the moment, still mystified by this woman who looks so much like his dead wife.
After finding Laura inside of the bowling alley, where she berated Eddie, calling him a “dumb fatso,” James and Maria follow her into Brookhaven Hospital. Maria rests in a safe room, coughing, but she assures James that she only has a hangover. Later on, as James and Maria flee from the hospital, just as James gets to the safety of the elevator, Pyramidhead catches Maria and kills her in front of James. Outside of the hospital, he pauses a moment in helplessness, having let Laura run off and Maria die.
Drawn further into the town, James passes through the Silent Hill Historical Society on the way to Toluca prison, first coming across Eddie in the prison cafeteria and realizing that Eddie had shot and killed all the people who'd been there, then finding Maria alive in a cell in a labyrinth underneath the prison, a labyrinth which he entered by jumping into a grave marked by a tombstone bearing his name. He hurries through the winding corridors to find a way inside, but he finds her dead for the second time on the cot when he opens the door on her side of the bars. Then strangely enough, he meets up with Angela once again in the labyrinth underneath the prison. She accuses him of trying to force her like her father, who sexually abused her, did. He protests this characterization, but he is interrupted by a monster, the embodiment of Angela's father. After killing it, Angela levels another accusation at James: that he wanted his wife dead. Before he has the chance to contradict her,she flees from the room and disappears into the labyrinth again.
Eventually, James comes to the end of the labyrinth and finds Eddie standing in the middle of another group of bodies. This time, Eddie decides to kill James, confessing that he'd already killed a dog and others because he perceived them to be laughing at him. James is forced to kill Eddie in self-defense before he can continue to search for Mary. Rowing across the foggy lake, he finally arrives at the pier in front of the Lakeview Hotel.
Inside, he finds Laura playing the piano, and they speak about the time that Laura and Mary shared in the hospital. Laura runs off again when she discovers that she's lost the letter that she took from the nurse when she left the hospital. James finds a note at the coat check booth telling him that there's a videotape in the manager's office that he left there. He retrieves the videotape and watches it on the television in the hotel room he and Mary stayed in when they were on vacation. Inbetween scenes of their actual vacation, the videotape shows James smothering Mary with a pillow in the hospital. After the video finishes, the radio crackles to life, and he hears Mary's voice calling him to her.
James hurries through the hotel, and he opens the door into the stairwell, finding it on fire and Angela starting up the stairs. She murmurs further details of the abuse at the hands of her father. Angela chooses to end her life by walking up into the fire, and James exits the fiery stairwell into the one he was originally heading for. He enters the main hall, and on the balcony above him, he witnesses the third and final death of Maria, skewered by two Pyramidheads. Done with her, the executioners approach James, who tells them that he understands why he needed them now: to punish him. He manages to slay them both, continue on through a corridor where conversations between James and Maria before she died were replayed, and at the top of stairs, he comes face to face with Mary.
Mary reveals to James that she had been masquerading as Maria up until this point, and in her fury, becomes a monster and attempts to kill James. Forced to kill his own wife again, James finally receives absolution from Mary along with the real letter she wanted to send out, telling him to go on with his life.
(A/N: And this is where I start to bend the rules a little bit. This is the Rebirth Ending from Silent Hill 2, only attainable on the second go-round.) Having gathered the Obsidian Chalice, the White Chrism, and the Crimson Ceremony, James rows out to the island in the center of the lake where formerly there was the lighthouse. He performs the ceremony and raises the fallen angel, Samael, back to power. He asks that Mary be resurrected, and in return, they re-establish the Order with the aide of the members who have remained in Silent Hill after it was destroyed by Harry Mason.
In the meantime, Harry has been raising the infant girl given to him by Alessa. He fears her power and often wonders if he's doing the right thing by letting her live since he knows about her capacity for such terrible power. While living in Portland (Maine, probably), the Order sends someone to retrieve the little girl, and Harry kills them in self-defense. They relocate under assumed names, and now Alessa is known as Heather Morris.
Twelve years after the incident in Portland, Claudia Wolf of the Order hires Douglas Cartwright to find Alessa, claiming that Harry kidnapped her seventeen years ago. Eventually, Douglas finds Heather in a shopping mall. Shortly after giving Douglas the slip, strange monsters begin to appear in the mall, and Heather is drawn further into the nightmare world where she meets Claudia in the hallways behind the stores.
Unbeknownst to him, Claudia has followed Douglas on his search, and she, too, takes the opportunity to confront Heather in the mall, imploring her to remember her past self. Heather doubles over in pain as Claudia leaves, and when she recovers, Heather discovers that she is now trapped in the nightmare world herself. As she explores the mall, she finds a static-filled television that plays a video of Cheryl crying for her daddy.
Finally, when she emerges from the nightmare world, Douglas confronts her and asks her if she knows what's going on. She tells him angrily that if she knew, she wouldn't be so confused. Heather leaves the mall and heads for the subway station to go home.
There are monsters infesting the station as well, and Heather eventually finds her way home, grateful to be away from the monsters. Before Heather can actually go into her apartment building, she ducks into a construction site and a shopping center, meeting Vincent, a priest of the Order, in one of its back rooms. He apparently wants to work with Heather to stop Claudia, but Heather leaves quickly, deciding that she just wants to go home.
Once Heather returns to the Daisy Villa Apartments, she discovers that her father, Harry Mason, has been killed. Spying the trail of blood leading out to the fire escape, she climbs up to the roof and finds Claudia there. Claudia gestures to a creature called the Missionary, and she tells Heather that the Missionary is responsible for Harry's death. While Heather deals with the monster, Claudia escapes back to Silent Hill.
Douglas helps Heather take care of Harry's body, laying him out on the bed and covering him with a sheet, and he asks her what the next course of action will be. Her reply is that she will find Claudia and get revenge for killing Harry.
Douglas then drives Heather to Silent Hill, and the scene is eerily remniscient of the scene from the first game where Harry is driving Cheryl along the exact same road. After stopping at the motel, Heather begins to explore the South Vale neighborhood. She enters Brookhaven Hospital, the site of horrors from James Sunderland's experience, and Brookhaven doesn't disappoint when it comes to thinking up new things for Heather.
A patient by the name of Stanley Coleman leaves little notes and a doll as a gift for Heather throughout the hospital. A phone rings in Leonard Wolf's room, and Leonard invites Heather to come and see him. Navigating her way through a labyrinth that doesn't exist on the map, Heather then climbs down a ladder to the bowels of the hospital as Valtiel, the town's seeming caretaker, turns the valves once again.
Somehow, instead of going down, Heather checks the map and sees that she's now on the third floor of the hospital in the nightmare world. On the second floor, a disconnected phone rings, and a mysterious voice sings, "Happy Birthday" to Heather, rattling off her age as seventeen, twenty-four, thirty-eight, etc. Finally, she confronts Leonard Wolf, who is Claudia's father, and Heather defeats him to get a talisman bearing the sigil of Samael.
vincent is waiting for Heather back at the motel, and he tells her that Claudia is waiting for her on the other side of the lake in the Lakeside Amusement Park. She passes through the nightmare version of the park itself on her way to get to the Order's church. Barring her way at the carousel is a monster called the Memory of Alessa, who tries to stop herself as it were from continuing on.
At long last, Heather goes into the church, remembering more and more of her former life as Alessa and knowing that Claudia and Alessa were friends in that lifetime. Further into the church, Heather finds a replica of Alessa's bedroom, through which is the way into the inner sanctum where Claudia and Vincent are waiting for her. Heather mistakenly believes that the talisman with Samael's sigil is really a Seal of Metatron, and the talisman fails to work the way she'd thought it would. (A/N: The actual Seal of Metatron would work very well for containment actually.)
Vincent is still thankful that Heather is there, and he tells Heather to kill Claudia, who then stabs Vincent in the back once and again when he's down on the ground. Heather is then struck with pain as the embryonic god inside of her struggles to be born, but Harry, though dead, manages to save his daughter again.
A long time ago, he'd researched and found a substance that when ingested will abort the god and kill it. He gave it to Heather in the form of a pendant that she wore around her neck, and now, when she needs it most, she swallows the substance and vomits up the god onto the floor. Horrified, Claudia tries to save it by swallowing the fetal god, and she falls through to the floor below. Heather follows, determined to avenge Harry.
After a long, arduous battle, Heather emerges victorious, and she leaves with Douglas, never to return to Silent Hill again.
Sometime after that, Henry Townshend becomes the latest victim of the town.
Two years after moving into apartment 302 of the South Ashfield Heights apartments, Henry experienced vivid nightmares and found himself trapped in his own apartment. Alerted by a loud noise coming from his bathroom, he discovers a giant hole in the wall which leads him into the subway where he meets Cynthia, who believes it is all just a dream. It becomes all too real for her when she is stabbed to death by an unknown assailant and has the numbers "16121" carved into her chest.
Henry sees this become a vicious pattern, each person he meets falling victim to the unseen murderer. At the Wish House, where orphaned children grew up in the care of the Order, Jasper Gein is burned to death, taking the Wish House with him. "17121" is carved into his chest. Andrew DeSalvo drowns in a room in the water prison with "18121" carved into his stomach. Richard Braintree is electrocuted in his chair in his apartment with "19121" carved into his forehead. Henry manages to save Eileen Galvin, his neighbor and victim "20121," from being beaten to death whereupon he discovers the identity of the murderer, the deceased Walter Sullivan, mentioned years earlier in a newspaper clipping found by James Sunderland.
Walter Sullivan was born in Room 302 of the South Ashfield Heights apartment building which is owned by Frank Sunderland, most likely a relative of James and a member of the Order himself. He was abandoned by his parents, probably members of the Order themselves, and was taken to the Wish House. At the age of six, he was taken back to Ashfield and shown the apartment where he was born. He perceived the apartment as his actual mother. He habitually returned to the apartment, eventually to be run off by the tenants of the apartment building.
The ritual of the Twenty-One Sacraments brings about the return of the Holy Mother (a vessel for Samael), but Walter believed that it would bring back his own mother. Walter began the Sacraments with ten murders, including a priest of Valtiel, and cut out the hearts of his victims then carving a series of numbers on their bodies beginning with 01121 and ending in 10121. Once arrested as said in the newspaper article, Walter committed suicide in his cell by stabbing a spoon two inches into his neck and severing the carotid artery. "11121" was carved into the soles of his feet.
Two years after his death, another body was found with "12121" carved into it, raising old memories of Walter's killings. It was dismissed as a copycat crime since the heart was not missing and Walter had committed suicide much earlier.
Through means of a nightmare world, Walter was able to succeed in killing up to the nineteenth of the twenty-one required victims, leaving only two left to complete the series and bring about the descent of the Holy Mother. It is not known whether or not the same person must complete all twenty-one murders in order to complete the Twenty-One Sacraments, something that Order must now contemplate for their own ends.