Located in Chicago, Illinois, the sprawling Graceland Cemetery and Arboretum is home to many beautiful statues and memorials, such as the ambitious Greek Temple of Potter & Bertha Palmer, Marshall Field’s melancholy “Memory,” and the unusual combination of Egyptian architecture and traditional Victorian artistry that is Schoenhofen’s Pyramid. But none garner so much attention and elicit so much curiosity as the mysterious and rather ominous “Eternal Silence,” known fondly to many as “The Statue of Death” or simply “Death.”
The bronze figure, now green from age and the elements, stands in stark contrast to its polished black granite base, and instantly attracts the eye of any passing visitor. An imposing, hooded man who seems to resemble Death is actually quite fitting for its surroundings, if a bit macabre compared to the grand and inspiring memorials which seek to celebrate the lives of the cemetery’s inhabitants, rather than remind its visitors of the inevitable end we all must face. Despite its resemblance to the Grim Reaper, however, the figure is actually that of Henry Graves himself!
Laurence motioned toward the statue. “It’s of Death?”
“Death?” Varek laughed. “That is a sculpture of old Henry Graves. He might still be around somewhere, for all I know...”
- Ten Years of Darkness
Created by the noted sculptor Lorado Taft, who was responsible for many other well-known monuments located throughout Chicago, “Eternal Silence” was commissioned posthumously by Henry Graves, the son of Dexter Graves, shortly after Henry’s death in 1907, and has since stood guard over the bodies of the Graves family. However, the statue, as well as several other monuments dotting Chicago, was not simply meant to be a post-mortem memorial to honor his family…
"I am not aware of the specifics, but there are a few hidden structures throughout Chicago; there is another in Washington Park. Old Graves essentially brought people into the area and made sure Chicago was built in a way that didn’t interfere with those Xahl’thari points of interest.”
“And what better way to do that than make sure they’re covered by graveyards and parks…” Laurence whispered.
Varek slapped him on the shoulder. “See, you’re catching on.”
- Ten Years of Darkness
As with the other statues, parks, and cemeteries commissioned and paid for by the Graves’ family, the sole purpose of “Eternal Silence” was to protect one of the few remaining historical An ancient, Magic-using race who settled on Earth billions of years ago, when it was known as Vaal'baraXahl'thari landmarks hidden throughout Chicago – in this particular case, the ancient underground city of the Lumynar known as Kelmet. Another, remarkably similar figure is featured in the grand “Fountain of Time” monument, located in Washington Park, which was originally commissioned by Henry Graves to be a monument to his race horse. Through our research – and extensive use of the Device used by the Vaal'bara Historical Society to witness events throughout timeTemploscope , of course – we were able to determine that the massive sculpture lies above a second entrance to the Lumynar city, and was purposefully chosen by Henry to be a protected area. However, whether due to Lorado Taft’s forethought, or simply artistic license, he decided to create something more timeless and appealing to the masses, which has no doubt helped deter potential tampering and ensured protection from even the most powerful modern Xahl’thari.
Information regarding the origins of “Eternal Silence,” and certainly Henry Graves himself, is a bit inconsistent, and historians throughout the years have tried to piece together the story of his life as best as they can. However, being ignorant of humanity’s Magical history, and Graves’ Xahl’thari ancestry, it is understandable that they would find many details lacking or contradictory, at best. Fortunately for you, dear reader, the Vaal’bara Historical Society happens to have more resources at our disposal than your average human historian. In the next installment of “The Magical History Tour,” we’ll be taking a deeper look into the lives and accomplishments of the Graves family, and their hitherto unknown ties to our ancient Xahl’thari past…