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I presided as Innsmouth's headmaster over a run of good form for fifteen years. Naturally there have been the usual accidents, maiming, well within accountable risks. As I would tell parents, before I was retired from the reparation committee, "You can not vivisect a ghoul without breaking a few legs.".
~ Hayden Montag

Hayden Montag is a mission contact in the Funcom MMORPG The Secret World. He is the current Headmaster of the prestigious Innsmouth Academy in Solomon Island, Maine. A licensed professor, medical doctor and anthropologist, Montag's greatest skills lie in his expertise in all things magical and occult. A fully-fledged member of the Illuminati, he champions his organization's devotion to uncovering and harnessing forbidden knowledge, responding to casualties among staff and students with a dispassion bordering on sociopathy. However, despite his seemingly unemotional nature, Montag is also devoted to Innsmouth Academy and will gladly sacrifice his life if need be in order to safeguard it and its remaining inhabitants - not for moral reasons, but simply out of utilitarian pragmatism.

History

Innsmouth Academy

Innsmouth Academy
Innsmouth Academy was founded in the late 18th century on Solomon Island, a small fishing community just off the coast of Maine U.S.A.. As with much of the local villages, the founders of the institution were all members of the Illuminati, a secret society dedicated to the pursuit of power and control over society. Initially, the academy was founded with the explicit goal of training the children of Illuminati members in the ways of magic; however, as the decades passed, the academy grew progressively less exclusive, eventually opening its doors first to prodigies from outside the Illuminati then even to individuals associated with other secret societies. As with most of the Illuminati's more benevolent decisions, this was motivated by pure pragmatism, as it allowed them to discard the "faction nobility" approach favored by the Templars and draw in heretofore unseen talent from outside the faction - and in some cases, even indoctrinate the children of their enemies. In turn, the academy also has no problems with hiring staff from outside the boundaries of the Illuminati: Annabel Usher, Montag's deputy, was actually recruited from a family loyal to the Templars.

Publicly, Innsmouth is one of the best and most exclusive educational institutions in the United States: only the highest-performing applicants are allowed in, and even then only after a strict entrance exam, eventually being rewarded with an extensive education in the upper echelons of math, science, literature, anthropology, archaeology, biology, and many other subjects. However, behind closed doors, the extrahuman prodigies that make up the majority of Innsmouth's student body are also taught necromancy, animation, demonology, golemetry and many other occult subjects. Over the course of their education, students are all brought to the attention of the Illuminati, and the teaching staff all groom their students for a future in the secret society; by the time students graduate, they have been immersed in the Illuminati mind-set and given tantalizing offers of prestigious careers if they join the sponsors of the institution. Those that turn down such opportunities are usually given an extremely frosty reception - as Carrie Killian and Archibald Henderson discovered.

Unfortunately, Solomon Island is notorious for its long history of murder and tragedy, and the academy is no exception: thanks to the extremely dangerous magical research unfolding behind Innsmouth's walls, students and faculty members alike have suffered horrific injuries over the years - some of them fatal. In total, the academy has been destroyed no less than three times, having been burned to the ground in 1852, torn down by an magically-conjured earthquake in 1904, and wiped out by a botched portal conjuring in the elementalism lab - but on every occasion, the Illuminati have rebuilt it. However, since then, the faculty have taken it upon themselves to seek out potential threats to their beloved institute and eliminate them before they can pose a danger: from nosy journalists to rampaging Wendigos, the teachers of Innsmouth Academy have tackled them all - even closing portals to the Hell Dimension after the Overlook Motel incident in 1987.

Carpe Diem, Carpe Annum, Carpe Aeon

Much of Montag's past is shrouded in mystery, and likely known only to his masters among the Illuminati. However, what is known is that he was an intellectual prodigy from a very early age: Secret Worlders with no genetic capacity for wielding magic must learn to manipulate Anima through incantations, rituals and other esoteric methods contained within spellbooks, a grueling process that can take years to master. As a child, however, Montag was able to grasp magic almost as soon as he began reading; unfortunately, his search for knowledge led him to ill-advisedly read one of the Yazidi incantations aloud, and the resulting death curse killed Montag's mother, their neighbors, and a couple walking past his house (though it spared their dog for some reason). With eleven deaths on his conscience, Hayden Montag handed himself over to the police.

While imprisoned and awaiting trial, he continued his studies into the occult, gradually expanding his knowledge of the Secret World by investigating arcane texts and remaining in correspondence with other mages around the world. It's not known how long he remained incarcerated, but he was eventually acquitted on all charges and released. It's not known how his home life and education proceeded after that, though he presumably continued studying magic - enough to make exhaustive studies of all major fields of thaumaturgical theory and practice - as his career as a teacher did not begin until much later. He spent several years as an M.D., apparently using his credentials to "explore" the minds of inmates at Arkham Asylum. In the end, he was forced to shut down his medical practice in the face of continued legal scrutiny, though he never specifies the exact reason (however, his claim that golemetry brings to mind his years of practicing medicine implies that he may have been trying to animate the dead). By now an experienced mage and a dedicated scholar of the Secret World, he developed a fixation with ensuring the transmission of knowledge to the next generation, and began seeking out gifted children that he could tutor in the ways of magic; according to Montag, his methods were "crude" and eventually resulted in him being arrested on charges of abduction; restraining orders were issued, and Montag's career as a private tutor seemed over.

However, it was at this point that the Illuminati took notice of him. Recruiting him into their ranks as a mage, they sent him to Innsmouth Academy in the hope that his abilities might prove useful to the faculty; not only did their gamble pay off, but his administrative gifts proved sufficient to make him the newest headmaster of the Academy in 1997. Since then, Hayden Montag held the post through a fifteen-year reign of unparalleled stability (apart from the usual accidental maimings and occasional deaths). The Illuminati approved of his administrative abilities and scholarly knowledge, and even the Templars admired his skills - though all agreed that his brilliance as a headmaster may be due in no small part due to his lack of empathy. As Annabel Usher later pointed out, the constant stress inherent to the position would easily break more functional human beings, and Montag's warped psyche gave him the resilience needed to manage the problematic campus. However, despite his impressive abilities, the faculty have forcibly retired Montag from the Reparation Committee, having realized that the Headmaster's inability to censor himself was not welcome around grieving parents.

At some point during Montag's reign, a magical prodigy of unprecedented power was brought to the attention of the faculty: known only as Carter, she had been possessed of immense magical powers from the moment she was born, and her limited control over her own abilities had left her mother and father at their wits' end. Eager to claim such a unique power for themselves, the Illuminati arranged for the young prodigy to be enrolled at Innsmouth, easily arranging suitable compensation for her befuddled parents. At twelve, Carter was the youngest inductee on record, and her powers easily eclipsed even the senior mages among the staff. To the surprise of all, Montag took every precaution to ensure that her powers were harnessed safely, warding the inside of the academy in order to suppress the unplanned explosions that usually ensued when Carter lost control. Though this at first seemed little more than a need to avoid harming the Illuminati's prize, the Headmaster's reasons were far more personal: he had seen something of himself in Carter, recognizing a dangerous power that needed to be harnessed with the caution that he had lacked in his younger days.

The Arrival Of The Fog

In the year 2012, the relative peace of Solomon Island was shattered: while on a routine journey into the Atlantic Ocean, a local fishing vessel called the Lady Margaret had been blown off course into a fog-shrouded region of the sea unknown to mundane cartographers, where the crew discovered a mysterious sword later identified as Excalibur - lost to history after the events of the Darkness War. Fisherman Joe Slater retrieved the sword the waters and returned with it to Solomon Island, hoping to earn some money by selling it to Innsmouth Academy; by the time they arrived home, however, the fishermen were already starting to lose their grip on their sanity, and the sword was ultimately confiscated from them with little reward. While Joe Slater and his fellow crewmen slowly degenerated into madness and mutation, the Innsmouth faculty soon realized they were dealing with a cursed weapon of mass destruction, and placed it under heavy wards.

Unfortunately, they had acted too late: three days after the Lady Margaret docked at Kingsmouth port, a vast bank of fog descended on Solomon Island, drawn by the curse surrounding Excalibur. As the fog covered the island, a siren song began playing out across it, and all who heard it found themselves inexplicably drawn out of their homes and into the ocean - where they drowned. The only inhabitants spared this fate were either asleep, unable to hear, unable to escape, or protected by magical wards - as was the case with the Innsmouth Academy faculty. However, once the siren song ended, those who drowned in the ocean returned as zombies, accompanied by a vast army of aquatic monsters known only as the Draug; the zombies were soon adapted into the Draug's reproductive cycle, becoming incubators for new generations of Draug warriors, while the rest of the army surged inland, assaulting the surviving in attempts to acquire fresh corpses for their spawning grounds.

Befitting its status as the greatest institute of magical education in the United States, Innsmouth Academy's wards protected it from most of the dangers unleashed by the Fog, including the zombies, the Draug and even the Ak'Ab. Unfortunately, while the faculty and students were perfectly secure from such dangers, human nature proved their undoing: once they realized how dire the situation was, panic set in among the staff and students, many of them fleeing the academy en mass in a desperate attempt to escape the island - most of them dying horribly in the process. One group of faculty members attempt to leave via the boathouse and row their way to the mainland, only to be picked off by animated Scarecrows, Revenants, and Draug. More still were killed as other dangers began emerging on campus ground. In the end, the only two staff members left at Innsmouth were Hayden Montag and Annabel Usher, both of whom were able to keep Carter inside with them. With Miss Usher the witch-doctor in residence, Carter a magical prodigy and Hayden a master mystic, the three of them they were able to maintain some semblance of order within the depopulated school.

Unfortunately, more dangerous parties chose that moment to make their move: Freddy Beaumont, a high-ranking member of the Morninglight, had been visiting the island in the hopes of uncovering the ancient power hidden within, and was targeting Excalibur as the perfect means of harnessing it. In the confusion left in the aftermath of the Fog's arrival, Beaumont was able to break into the Academy, somehow surviving wards powerful enough to kill most unwelcome visitors instantly, and steal the sword - much to Ms Usher's embarrassment. Ironically, he hadn't obtained the exact knowledge on how to use the blade, later forcing him to break into the Illuminati vaults in pursuit of the information.

In the meantime, Montag, Usher and Carter soon found themselves at the epicenter of another major disaster: with no students around to control them, the home-made familiars had gone feral and started rampaging across the grounds in pursuit of prey, accompanied by the ghosts of long-dead faculty members and alumni. Worse still, thanks to Beaumont's incursion, many of the magical defenses protecting the academy had begun to collapse, not only threatening the lives of the few remaining faculty and students, but also endangering the rest of the island should any of the threats native to the academy escape.

Magna Cum Laude

Hayden and Ms. Usher

Annabel Usher and Hayden Montag

Having been sent by their chosen faction to investigate the ongoing crisis on Solomon Island, the player will soon discover Beaumont's attempt to unlock the power of Excalibur and pursue him into the Savage Coast region of the Island. Here, the trail of clues eventually leads them as far as Innsmouth Academy, where they meet all three surviving inhabitants: by now, the overwhelming population of familiars has forced them to seek shelter in a heavily-warded office, and though the vault is of prime concern, Montag and the others are preoccupied with re-establishing order at the academy. Montag is no stranger to slaughter, ancient curses or the undead and sees the situation as just a slightly grander variation on the usual problems to beset Innsmouth, and seems far more appalled at the violation of the school grounds than the loss of life. In the first of his specific missions, "The Breakfast Cult," Montag will instruct the players on how to restore the academy's mystical wards, so as to ensure the mutual safety of both the academy and the rest of the island: aided by techno-magical devices provided by Montag, players must hunt down familiars and harvest their life force, then use it to reinforce the wards at the outer gates, the front door, the side entrances, and the library. However, this is only the beginning: in "Science and the Arts," Montag also needs to prevent the academy's unique Anima-batteries from leaking the human sacrifices used to secure it, and tasks the player with finding each cache and sealing the escaping sacrifices back inside. However, the final cache sealed will unexpectedly reveal a wraith known only as Mal'un the Accursed. Next, "The Faculty" reveals that the spectral teachers currently roaming the halls are currently enslaved to the will of a powerful entity, and that this entity may be intent on seizing control of the Illuminati War Golem contained within the grounds - something that can only be achieved through the powers of a full faculty meeting. Eventually, the player is able to hunt down the ghostly faculty and put them to rest once more; however, after killing the War Golem, the entity behind the ghostly manipulations is none other than Mal'un the Accursed.
Mal'un, the Accursed

Mal'un, the Accursed. The Yazidi wraith.

Revealing this information to Montag in "To Sir With Love" finally grabs at the Headmaster's concern: he realizes that only a Yazidi curse could summon such a creature - and that the most likely candidate is his own ill-advised use of such a curse as a child. With the sanctity of the school grounds violated by Beaumont, the wraith he inadvertently summoned has honed in on him. Montag explains that the only way to remove the curse and prevent further deaths is for him ritually sacrifice himself - but he is immediately refused by both Usher and Carter. The player agrees with them, and begins preparations to complete the ceremony using a small sample of Montag's blood to lure out Mal'un and destroy it.

The Vanishing Of Tyler Freeborn

Later, players find themselves on the trail of a local conspiracy theorist by the name of Tyler Freeborn; in the aftermath of the Fog's arrival on Solomon Island, Tyler has been investigating the monsters that have infested the region, with particular emphasis on the Filth. However, despite leaving a trail of data leading from one end of the island to the next, no trace of the man himself can be found. Eventually, it's revealed that Tyler has donned a gas mask and ventured into the Fog itself in an attempt to learn what lies behind it, prompting the players to follow.

Immediately afterwards, players lose consciousness halfway through the Fog and awaken in the Red Sargassum Dream, a monstrous pocket dimension given form by the Dreamers - the slumbering entities behind the rise of the Filth. Much of this place is based around a twisted replica of Kingsmouth and the surrounding communities, all of it populated by Filth-infected replicas of the townsfolk, including Hayden Montag; all of these replicas are immediately hostile and will attack the players on sight - Montag's double summoning a gang of familiars and pelting his opponent with magical blasts. Ultimately, it's revealed that this is because the Fog itself is actually an airborne strain of the Filth, and almost everyone on the island has been successfully infected, allowing the Dreamers the ability to recreate
Filthy HJ

The Dreamers' intended plans for Montag.

Solomon Island from the details contained within the minds of their newest victims.

Though it's evident that the infection is progressing much slower than most examples of Filth corruption, both faction contacts and the Dreamers themselves confirm that the inhabitants of Solomon Island will eventually succumb. Though the fates of Usher and Carter are still unknown, Montag's presence within the Red Sargassum Dream confirms that he is doomed to become a creature of the Filth.

Personality

Carter and Montag
Hayden Montag appears emotionally detached to the point of insanity: he feels some sense of pathos for spirits perverted by black magic and is horrified at the destruction of antique magics, but by-in-large feels no remorse, empathy or sorrow for the living. Likewise, he shows little interest in anything outside the study of the occult and the Secret World, and demonstrates a pronounced morbid streak in enjoying things that other characters find utterly horrifying - at one point noting how the accounts of the War Golem's last activation make for "entertaining reading." Socially inept and almost completely emotionless, he often fails to understand sarcasm, takes common turns-of-phrase quite literally, and will occasionally test out social formalities and graces purely for the sake of understanding their context, as common courtesies are entirely alien to him. Even after having been retired from the Reparations Committee, he still finds ways of accidentally horrifying or insulting others, usually without ever realizing he's done so. Fortunately, Usher and Carter have long since grown used to his quirks, and forgive him very quickly.

What Montag lacks in empathy or human understanding he more than makes up for in knowledge and principle: Montag will go to any length to protect his institution's legacy and his prized students such as Carter. Montag wishes to save all those he can, not for conscience-sake but rather to preserve talent and knowledge. Indeed, it's implied that he regards his failure to save the academy from the disaster as an unforgivable mistake, and suggested his ritual self-sacrifice as an attempt at committing suicide - especially given that the Dragon reveal that Montag knew that there were other ways of stopping the Wraith. Montag at one point recounts the Illuminati agents of ancient Alexandria with great respect, saying their scribes recorded the burning of the Lighthouse of Alexandria even as they, themselves were burning within - This sort of admiration is likely what inspires Montag to prioritize the duties of his position over even life-itself; a concept the Illuminati wholeheartedly endorse and admire him for.

Trivia

  • Hayden J Montag
    Hayden J Montag. Is one of the rare agents available in Secret World Legend's agent system, allowing certain characters to work directly under the player. Montag is one of the rarer and inherently efficient ones.
  • Montag has stated he has a slight case of pentaphobia, irrational discomfort/fear or the number five.
  • Montag always wears a pair of blue surgical gloves. The color blue is specific to covertly identifying him as an Illuminati member, however the gloves themselves are due to haphephobia - fear of being touched.
  • Montag avoids making contact with others even through his gloves with the single exception of stroking Carter's cheek to express profound pride in her.
  • Innsmouh is named after a town of cultists from the H.P. Lovecraft story, Shadow Over Innsmouth. Montag bares a strong resemblance and was likely intentionally designed as a reference to Howard Philip Lovercraft himself.
  • Hayden Montag's voice-actor, Jeffrey Combs, has been hired several times to appear in films of HP Lovecraft's works, most famously as Herbert West from the Re-Animator film series.
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