Van Bilj was found by the Hessians in 1783. He built weapons, puzzles, traps and machines that caused excruciating pain on people he captured for his experiments. He then sought out a coven of witches, the Sisterhood of the Radiant Heart. However, at an inn, Van Bilj heard a tune sung by a witch of Abaddon. He befriended the witch and learned magic of her coven.
However, the elders of Abaddon denied him, sensing his involvement with the Hessians. Van Bilj threatened to expose them and build a machine to condemn them. Van Bilj's charms protected him from death at the coven's hands. So, Van Bilj's body was bound to a tree near Trout lake. They then carved a small box from the tree to contain his soul, keeping Van Bilj's body and soul separate and imprisoned. A key was fashioned, by which the coven might free Van Bilj to serve their purpose.