Extracted from the personal notebook of Detective Charles E. Willows, 1891-1940
Of what has become of Frank Elwood or where he has vanished to; none can rightfully say. When the townsfolk of Portland were questioned extensively by authorities; only a handful of the more rustic country folk could say they had spied him traveling the old dirt roads to Hopps Hill in the eve of Good Friday. Their initial investigating to the shunned old hill hidden by thick forest growth was only met with the morbid discovery of small pools of blood; foul odour in green, brown, black, yellow, and purple spatters of tar like liquid, with trace scraps of clothing found among those monolith slabs of dark antiquity. Further investigation of nearby locals provided the discovery of a medium sized pad-locked cylinder jammed against a rock in Dragon’s River before it meets with Salamander Bog; to which it must have ventured down from the hill whence the river’s mouth flows. Upon prying it open with a spade, they found the most material ‘evidence’ to the fate of the young New Englander.
Among its chief bulk of contents were a charred hand woven skin-bound book whose characters had been damaged by age but clearly those of the Irish language; a pair of spy glasses, the leather bound portfolio of notes and report’s badge branding the name Robert B. Loch who disappeared in 1891, and the commonplace journal of Frank Elwood. Yet the most curious find came when all of these contents had been removed, for in the bottom of that cylinder lay a strange jack-shaped black stone the size of a large rat; in which strange characters were carved and dyed a luminous red by some unknown means. It was agreed upon by the investigators to send it to the famed Massachusetts University of the occult in that witch haunted old city where men of science and scholars alike could study it; had not a young officer of Welsh blood seen the stone, which had stirred him to anarchist action in deposing it into the bottomless depths of Back Cove. Upon being detained and questioned thoroughly for the reason for his insane action of disposing of crucial evidence; the young officer could only vow on his own soul that he had forever rid the world of a horror that would be set loose had it remained in the realms of mankind.
One must bear in mind that all recorded in Frank Elwood’s commonplace journal may be an imaginative spectacular hoax. For he may have known of the local hidden legends of the old grotesque and unorthodox Coven of the Black Goat; despite his claims in the journal as only knowing of trickled whispers of the supposed witch cults survival while in Vermont the year prior. Nor was he ever truly mentally sound after his experience in the witch-house near his university when he was still a student; as the dwellings speculation of having unnatural beings had been confirmed. His disappearance may merely be the catalyst boon for the tourism and industrial growth of Maine’s forgotten countryside.
There are still those who believe the journal should be taken at its face value and even though highly irrational; take Elwood’s account as truth. Correlating the found evidence with all the journal has to offer allowed for such a solid grounding of beliefs. It may have been by such gossip among the early investigators of Elwood’s disappearance that the young officer moved to his radical extremes upon seeing the stone. Then, what is the true fate of Frank Elwood? The facts and the fantastic become blurred the longer Elwood remains lost.
It is between the schools of reality and fiction one must discern in pondering. The tangible evidence has been made clear and with a calculating mind may the mystery be merely an answer. To which, the journal can be brought into question. Now, studying the journals contents closely, listlessly, and at our leisure; the macabre chain of events can be surmised by their chief actor.
Young Elwood had come to Maine in the late autumn of 1931, taking a cozy dwelling of a small Georgina cottage off Baxter Woods. With a gentle smile did he greet the majority of townspeople he saw while passing from train to motor car; waving ever so often. His coming was made wide-spread by the local papers; for he was to be chief land surveyor for Bangor’s pulp and paper branch in the town. Some of the faces of the people seemed to quiver in an odd way when his eyes glanced at them; as if trying to convey some horror through expression. It was behind his own dark emerald irises that he had concealed the truth of why had had come to the town.
Merely was the proposal of the job his excuse to come to the region from his settlement in Vermont. His despair had reached the deserted countryside where he had lived in the spring month of April; when he had gotten the letter from his one-time Landlord Dombrowski. Dombrowski was a man who spared no detail and it was here that Elwood learned of the horrific discovery of the human and inhuman bones discovered in the demolished witch-house he had stayed just years ago; sending him into utter dread. The waxing and waning months of summer did little to clear it from his mind; as the domed hills that pictured his landscapes of the region only filled him with loathing half-real fears when he had tried to grasp truth from the native Pennacook Indian tales. Frantic desperation to leave the state had found him the opportunity in Maine and with Dombrowski’s relative whom owned a cottage there; he had found his escape. Of why he did not flee the regions of New England in itself; he attests in writing that its aesthetic natural beauty and not its morbid legends is the only reason he can ever truly consider it his home.
This relative, one Felix Dombrowski, had given him the cottage for a cheap rent; as he admitted it lack most proper furnishing and there was an odd pungent odour about the room which he could not explain. As Elwood navigated the room; he found the odors source to be on the large Oriental rug that lay on the floor. Removing the rug, under it was nothing more the utter putrid green slim-like water that had sprung from a hole in a floorboard. Burning the rug and plastered the floor with Felix’s help; the room soon lost its odour as Elwood had bought a few chairs and other sundry objects to fill the blank canvas the room had been; acquiring his books and bookshelf sent to him from his parent’s home in Road Island.
Once truly settled in his now livable domain by November’s end; Elwood began his work in surveying the land around the town. As chief and most skilled land surveyor; his business was done alone with no assistance as his employers figured it the cheapest way for the remote woods of the Province to be surveyed. It was in the winter months that he had become accustomed to the diverse townsfolk; for there were many of difference ethnicity and creed than he. There was the self-styled ‘True Americans’ whom were merely English descendants that had roots there since the 17th century; the superstitious yet self-denying of such superstitions French-Americans that reminded him of the people of Salem, the hardy Germans, the lively Italians, and the wholesome Irish to which his ancestry placed him among. It had been, too, during this month that he first gazed upon the standing stones that sat lurched atop Hopps Hill in Presumpscot Woods.
Elwood had only glanced about the stones by chance when he was spying the town’s lush pines and barren scattered maples; as he was viewing the from the town’s opposite hill Truffle Mound in the center of Baxter Woods. They had absorbed his interest to the upmost; as he had known of standing stones throughout New England but had never heard of any accounts of them this far north. As his gazing instruments spied the regions around the summit; his eyes were caught by the black torn away spire that protruded into the sky from the base of the hill. It was a church that had been abandoned yet why had it not been razed to the ground by the locals? He would have to seek Felix out for information when he returned to the cottage the following week; as he was out visiting friends in New Hampshire.
He kept studying the spire when he went surveying; noticing that shadowy crows seemed to shun its edifice whenever they were flying by and the land around it seemed desolate even for winter. Tuesday brought Felix’s return to the domicile in which Elwood showed him through his instruments the deserted church. Yes, he had known of the building before but could not provide any tales or urban gossip spoken of it; as it lay off in the old French quarters where they kept to themselves. He warned Elwood that such area was hard to navigate as the roads intertwined, streets disappeared into forest, the French-Americans rarely left their houses or talked to strangers, and the whole air around it gave one the feeling of grim warning on the unseen monoliths hidden by the dense forest growth and the gothic deserted church. Despite his efforts to discourage Elwood, Felix’s warning seemed to spark a burning flame of adventure in his young soul. That Friday, the week before Christmas, he set on his quest for the church and whatever mysteries its age old walls kept hidden from the superstitious self-denying folk that settled around it.
The trip was a cold and lonesome one; for the northern winds blew harshly against Elwood as he made his way through the town. Looking around him as he journeyed onward past the humble small shops and antique houses; he saw a few Italians hailing their patron saints and chanting in their native tongue as he passed by. They were not alone in their chanting and prayers, as it seemed even the Irish and Germans were doing likewise; giving him an odd feeling about the entire town. Were they merely canting for celebration and respect or was it all some attempt to ward off a lurking evil that lay in wait; hidden among the forest? He crossed himself as his customs had taught him, taking from under his vestments the golden cross he had since boyhood; kissing it as he hurried his pace.
It was not long before he reached the French quarters that the brooding feeling of forbidden things became a phantasmagoria of the otherworldly. From end to end of the forgotten courtyards were the litter remains of collapsing roofs from the decaying houses in disrepair they called homes; fences snapped at ends and the rotting wood amalgamating into sickening discoloration. The houses seemed huddled together, casting their shadows down on Elwood; as if trying to communicate the dark history their paintless walls had seen centuries before. Where the house did not loom were the natural spires of pines encroaching the area; this pattern he could one day foresee devouring this forgotten section and sending its hidden mysterious past into oblivion; if industrial progress did not do so at a later date. Interweaving through the various roads that were gnarled with vegetation and loose bricks; he could scarcely hear low moaning of words barely recognizable; despite his study of languages the world over, both in and out of his college days. Always was the black spire of the deserted church in sight but even with his best efforts; Elwood became lost among the nightmare landscape that he could not traverse.
He had deemed his quest a daydreaming fancy; the church he sought a stupendous dream world no human feet should ever tread. His resolve was that of failure; had not the faint glimmer on the neighboring street caught the corner of his eye. It was the badge of a hardy blue coat, thick bearded German patrolman he had seen often in the town square. Making his presence clear to the officer, Elwood was met with the officer’s surprise that someone was actually out in the harsh weather besides himself; more so for this region of the town known for such lonesomeness. When question about the deserted church, he made a curious sign with his right hand, speaking very coarsely that the French had made damnable warnings to everyone against it; that some unspeakable thing had once dwelled in its shadowed depths and left its hideous mark. Even recalling how in his boyhood lay the whispered weird stories; made all too real by his father’s account , being a patrolman like himself in those olden days.
There had once been a strange sect there in the town’s youth—a lawless sect that had called monstrous shadows from the forest’s blackest depths of night; where those monoliths stood primal. It had taken strong and courageous priests to banish such things back into the gulfs of forest from whence they came; though there were those who said an ordinary cross could ward them off. If Father Brown were still alive; there would be many the tales he could tell. Now, it was best left for nature to obliterate. Those who owned it had vanished while the rest fled like vermin after the threating talk of 1887; when people began to take notice when children and younger kin disappeared now and then throughout the town. The forest would topple and send it away soon enough; best to leave it untouched least those unknown things from the shadows be called forth once more.
After bidding him farewell; Elwood saw the cobble road that led him to his destination he sought long before but now shrived at its sight. The large black iron gates rounded the building were parts terminated into the forest. From the oddly unbroken decorative windows; it spoke to his remembrance of arcultetcutral history the Gothic Revival period that proceeded the stately Upjohn period. Of true ancientness the church had, he was certain. His slender frame being able to fit through the bars; he slid through the gate as he left the French square behind him.
He stalked the path slowly taking in the oddities he saw as he passed them. The snow on the ground did not seem to be placed as naturally as it should be; for the layers looked thinned as he could see what appeared to be charred ground under it. The trees around the church were barren as they should be but their branches looked off at angles; very loose and bent. The area itself reminded him of a true view of a blasted heath; liken to those painted in the imaginings of Poe and Shakespeare. When he approached the door, it did little to change this unease; for even it looked less worn than an unused door ought to be. Mustering what courage he could his resolve let him thought the door and headlong into the forgotten ruins.
Closing the door silently behind him the endless clouds of dust fluttered about the room; irritating him enough to utter a faint cough. Scatted half-destroyed pews; torn curtains and their broken rods, peeling plaster walls, and fallen candle holders littered the dusty and molded over carpeted covered floors as he inspected the area. The faint light that seeped in from the stained glass windows was blacked over by dirt and soot gave saints highly open to criticism; by mere expressions alone. There was something vaguely perplexing in the postures their hands made; one window alone being nothing more than a single tall man wrapped in cloth who stood among a fire with a strange object prostate in his right hand. Shuttering visibly at all he had so far seen; Elwood’s eyes were drawn to the cobwebbed pulpit whose cross drew his attention.
Upon closer investigation, the cross was that of Celtic nature; known by his religious studies to be an incorporation of the sun cross of Pagan times with that familiar cross of Christianity. Behind it lay the small bookshelf with crumbling volumes and few legible titles he could scarcely make out. As he was only a novice of the occult, none of the titles gave him a true shock of horror; though he was sure to the more discerned mind than he that they were of some antiquarian importance. Two of the titles that he recorded in the journal for latter study were Chronike von Nath by Rudolf Yergler and Dhol Chants. He would have to send a letter if he wanted to know more to either the more avid English professor in folklore or the wise aged chief librarian of his old college’s Orne Library, known for its special collection; books his ill-fated university student neighbor Gilman was fond of reading.
There were few places left to explore after the main room; as the Gothic columns merely provided for large spacing of area on the ground floor to which most rooms lay in abysmal damage. Left to his probing voyage would be the cellar whose entrance was guarded by a vaulted door or the room just under the church’s spire. Trying the vaulted door as it was closest to him; he found it impassable and tightly secure. Even so, a foul odour crept from its hinges; making him all the more reluctant of wanting it open at all. Grasping sturdily on the rafters of the onyx stairs; he ascended to the unknown heights of the upper room.
The room was half what he expected it to be; for parts of the withering spire sank into the floor. Disappointment came from the lack of chimes he had known churches like this to have; the room devoted to vastly different purposes with its high flat table were pens and paper lay scrawled in abandonment. Illumination was scarcely light by the small broken window near the table so that he drew from his coat pocket a small electric lantern to improve the visibility. It was then that the faint red glimmer of the large black jack-like stone caught Elwood’s attention.
In his mind there was no doubt, as he viewed it, that it wasn’t a relic of some kind; though if it be some bas relief of a Pagan symbol or merely some eidolon image of an unorthodox god used in esoteric worship, he could not say. He believed the thing to be half completed as its lower half; despite its smooth flat quality underneath, gave one the feeling that there was more to it. Picking the stone up had revealed it was being used as a paper-weight for a few worn pieces of parchment; only adding to this eccentricity by being in a strange self-styled cryptic text. As it would provide musing for a later time; Elwood bore off these papers by folding them into his vest pocket before his attention was drawn back to the stone.
Absorbing his interest more than he had realized; Elwood could scarcely try to divert his eyes from it. A phantasmal glow seemed be radiating from the stone; conjugating surreal imagining in his mind. Vague, threating menaces stood robed around hell spawned fires as rites were hollowed against those cyclopean blocks. Signs were made, words were spoken but not of the know languages and symbolisms he had known. These figures differed in their sizes and shapes under those robes; for only few were liken to his size while others only gave the smallest outline of being human. Yet it was not this rite that his mind conjured up that made Elwood feel a clinging apprehension about the church but the feeling of a presence watching him from above in the dim spire’s shadow.
Bearing his eyes away from the stone; a distance shining in the opposite side of the room next to the stairs caught his glance. Motioning towards it after he had placed the black stone in the elm wooden box from whence it must have been stored; he wiped away the surface of dust with his glove only to choke back a scream he felt rising in his throat, for he was doubly afraid by the first visible horror he had seen since entering the church. For what his glove had so easily wiped dust from was a severed human hand that had turned to rotting bones in its entombment here for untold years; as their lay scatted bits of a gentlemen’s tweed sleeve and sliver buttons from whence the hand had been cut off. The second shock of fright had come from what had been clutched in that hand to the last; for beneath its grizzled remain was the slight charred volume bound in snakeskin, whose shuttering title lay in the dark lavender of devilish abomination the world over. For even Elwood knew it with his lack of occult knowledge as he shuttered its title in the native Irish his mother had taught him; An Rí I Buí, roughly translated to English, The King in Yellow.
He recalled when he first learned of the damnable book back in his university days when he had been assigned to do a thorough study on a tome for his folklore class. As every other student was either doing it on a Book of Dead Names, Black Book, nearly unpronounceable Manuscripts, Worm Mysteries or what have you on occult texts; he could think nothing to do his own with originality. Had it not been jutting out of the self where it was displayed; he may have looked it over without a second notice. It did catch his attention by the worn age of skin gave it and how even its spine seemed to incorporate the snake’s own bones. Out of his foolish curiosity that inspired his research of the book; it led his own blood and soul into the lost nether of human history.
Learned had Elwood of the book’s global exodus near the end of the 19th century when the obscure Dutch-French writer Robere V. Kamers; who found and translated the ancient text of the unknown primeval scribe on his travels from Paris to Shanghai in 1889. In a two years’ time did it cross those seas into Ireland were the well know eccentric scholar Stiofán Réimse gave the vile poison Elwood’s ancestral tongue. In the darkest of allies and blackest of ports had the pseudonym of Castaigne transcribe it to an English black-letter edition in 1895. Church and government censored it widely even though its high demand led to the most common of book stores having it among their stock; as most who read both acts burned their copies afterwards. It had hit New York the hardest with its grim gospel, causing the building of the suicide chambers and the death of two of Elwood’s distant relatives with its insane yarn; one by sanitation in an asylum and the other with an occult murder by his accidental possession of the Yellow Sign.
Yet as the 20th century dawned upon the Earth had it disappeared completely. Someone or something had organized its persecution and termination in book stores; with the 2nd act removed from all documented copies in existence. The memories it held wiped clean off the slate of the common folk; as most cover ups with a Federal backing. The utterly vacant suicide chambers in New York were turned into libraries or other institutions; as are philanthropist fancies. Its three apostles were never heard or know of again besides in furtive gibbers; with such things as suicide, stoning, fates worse than death, and other melodramas the human mind conjures of the unknown. The book and its lost 2nd act were the fodder of urban legends and campfire stories except for those who had seen its hellish print and binding in the arcane library in the witch haunted city whose veins are the darkest of muttering river ways.
Elwood’s hands clung to the book as he felt its burnt snake-skin cover on his fingers and under his nails; almost like he was touching a living thing. Despite his knowledge of the book; he had always had a fond liking for the 1st act. He was all the more grateful that the 2nd act was never known to him; least he be driven paranoid by its revelations. As he motioned it into his surveying bag; a thin loose leather portfolio fell from the thick binding as it contents spilled over the dust ridden floor. Riddled from it was the sliver badge with the name of the old Press Herald under which lay the name of Robert B. Loch; a celluloid advertisement calendar of 1891, pencils whose ends were broken, and several papers covered in memoranda.
The noted memorandum was of a very perplexing nature and its bulking account could only be made out when Elwood held his lantern close to it. Disjointed and with what he could make of the penmanship gave such phrases as follows:
“Mdm. Rose home from Welsh countryside Apr. 27 1842—buys old St. John’s Church in May—her wealth and strange collection well known.”
“Prof. Elam of 2nd Baptist warns against Black Coven in sermon Nov.26 1842.”
“Congregation in Coven 60 by the end of ’43.”
“1844—4 disappearances—first mention of Scratch’s Sabbath Stone.”
“1848—17 disappearances—stories of ‘Little People’ begin.”
“Investigation of church and woods in 1851 fruitless—stories of foul odour.”
“Fr. Brown tells of black magic using wooden box found in olden Welsh forest—says they call up something out of Hell that can traverse people beyond the mind and body. Likely to have gotten this from dying confession of Charles J. Riggs in ’52. They claimed that Scratch’s Sabbath Stone shows them ultimate knowledge & the timeless center of blind ultimate chaos & that the Black Man of the Witch Cult protects them always.”
“Story of Olivia E. Dexter 1860. Tells of strange shapes called out from the forest at night on top of Hopps Hill with rumblings near Truffle Hill & speculates folklore Scratch and Black Man of the Witch Cult are the same being.”
“Over 100 or more in cong. 1864, mainly of unmarried women.”
“French protesting and action becomes notable in 1868 after disappearance of Luke Goodenough. Some insist that the French have a cult of their own known as Pallid Mask.”
“Fireballs seen above monoliths in ’78 but people don’t like to talk about it.”
“8 disappearances in ’80 — private town committee calls on Mayor Crane.”
“Mdm. Rose disappears in ’82.”
“Gang—Young French Boys—mob church in in April of ’85.”
“Action taken on’87—church closes in February.”
“180 persons leave town before spring in ’87 —no names are mentioned.”
“‘Little People’ stories increase in ’90—try to discern truth that no one has entered church since ’87.”
“Ask Curwen for picture of the church take in 1864 and gives me old book for protection.”….
Collecting the papers and taking the portfolio with its loose contents abandoned on the floor, Elwood restored all it held back in its proper order before sticking it back into the aged tome from whence it came; placing it in his bag. His brow became drenched in sweat as his nerves jolted. Just what was the truth behind this strange eldritch church he had so reckless intruded upon? What had been done here and was the strange stone he had found the same as that mentioned in the notes? Sunlight was fading by the minute as he made his way back to the table to look at the stone once more.
Again, the stone’s strange influence ran wild with his imagination; conjuring up that witch’s ritual Sabbath. He was among their members this time and his presence must have been known; for all the figures seemed to stare from under their robes with horrible intensity. From their members was advancing the frame of a woman with golden cat like eyes and a grimalkin’s smile; accompanying behind her a nearly seven foot tall man whose facial features were hidden by a hood. This golden eyed woman and the rest drew back quivering as Elwood’s golden cross came into their visible sight; but the hooded man pace to him was unmoved. He saw the nameless paw lunge to take his throat as he slammed the lid down on the box; ending the Grand Guignol theatrical performance his mind had painted.
The echoing clamor of his slamming aroused the soft flutter that became more numerous and loud as Elwood gazed up. Thousands of small red eyes looked upon him before breaking into a storming orchestra of pandemonium. Bats, without much though or question; the only living things Elwood had seen in the decaying church. Yet that vibration in the spire and their panicking flights sent him into a madding scream and run with box in hand from the onyx stairs; through the cobwebbed hall, out the hard latched door, stumbling from the forgotten courtyard with its sickening tress, sprinting out of the forgotten French quarter, down the town’s humbler streets, and swiftly into his own home off Dexter’s Woods. He states that it was not the bats that caused his true terror from that deserted church, though they did startle him; but that he had seen in the darkened shadowed spire’s rafters two golden cat-like eyes and a wicked grin of the woman the stone had shown him.
Christmas came next for Elwood with his attendance to Felix’s party that had many guests. From his parents, he acquired a small chemistry set; which he would use in testing the stones exposure to certain chemicals. With his own merger saving he bought for himself an Encyclopedia Britannica; figuring that it would be of tremendous help in finding sources for the self-styled cipher. The Bishop Public Library was but a stone’s throw away in town so he figured it would provide for his needs on such matters. Elwood did not stay at Felix’s party long as he was a reclusive person by nature but did notice the faint distance flash of a fire in the center of those aeon old stones on Hopps Hill.
With January came the frantic protesting in the French section of the town. The papers of the time supplement of how they complained of nightmares at night and how many saw Madame Rose watch them from their windows with her hoard of ‘Little People’ and other unspeakable things in her wake at night. They swore in large number that their favor from outer forces would come soon enough. The month’s end gave way to Elwood’s success over the text; with its own disturbing story about the stone. It had been fashioned on distance Shaggai from the undying skin of the All Mother and the blood of the Daemon-Sultan before the Fungi of Yuggoth in the distance rim had polished and molted it; giving it to the Elder Things to take with them through the void of space. From their destruction it reached Leng were its strange folk gave it to their golden silken Lama whose flute had once lulled the Throne of Ultimate Chaos. There it had sat till the fiendish Tcho-Tcho D’Rulyth plunged it from its sacred primordial box and brought it with him to our world as late as the 17th century in Europe; as he summoned many monstrosities before the Black Man of the Witch Cult dragged him off to untold stars. Forever should have the forests concealed it, till the wicked hands of humankind brought it forth to curse the world once more.
St. Valentine’s Day is marked as being the time of Elwood’s near mental breakdown. Felix had been awoken near two by the loud scream from Elwood’s lower room; in which he rushed to investigate. Flipping on the lights showed that green slim-like water spayed on the floor, the shelves, the walls, and even the celling; broken tubes of Elwood’s chemistry set and papers taken in the sticky tar. Elwood sat squatted in the corner with the black stone clutch in his hand; over his body were bruises and cuts with his pajamas barley intact. He seemed to keep repeating the Lord’s Prayer even as Felix brought his upstairs to his room to treat his injuries. Elwood slept little afterwards, with the following weeks did little but lounge in Felix’s room and always having his eyes cast out on Hopps Hill.
The journal recounts in full of what had caused Elwood’s breakdown. As studying the stone’s martial had brought failure even with the strongest sulfur and his best knowledge of geology; he had decided upon himself to read at last the Irish King in Yellow. He found little had been changed in the translation; for there were all the familiarities he had read in the English black-letter edition. Dim; dream woven Carcosa, blasphemous and vile river of musical Hyades, childish Cassilda and Camilla, and the Phantom of Truth with his Pallid Mask who forever shall be their king. He flipped the last page before noticing that something more lay behind it. Turning the page released the shock of not Irish text but that of English; a devilish note that sent him into a nervous frenzy of wishing he had never seen it or could burn it from his memory. It was not by any means the first page of the 2nd act but a summary of some kind concerning it; or so he was willing to state in the journal. From the police extract on the copy found in the cylinder; the weathering of water could only allow for the idea of the text left intact that it spoke of some Imperial Dynasty of some kind that was not of blood as it were more clutched to one’s very soul.
Whatever the case may have been; Elwood was able to calm himself that he fell into slumber with ease. His dream were anything but peaceful as he found himself upon the hill with its ghastly alter stones as the golden eyed grinning woman and the tall dark hooded man were coming for him. As he reached for his cross, the tress lurched down with their branches and began to pull at him; they were like the tress he had seen in the abandoned church’s courtyard. Both the woman and the hooded man withdrew as they saw the braches begin to loosen at the sight of a lavished gold cloth wrapped around his entire being and drag him off into the woods. Pulling and ripping his clothing, he was drag deeper into the dense forest as the low chants he remember but not from were began to ring in his head; his face becoming stiff under the tightly wrapped cloth. Stopping at a blackened tree; he saw queer looking men and women dressed in exotic wear as they blew sapphire and ashen powder into their fires; making chants of a language close to the antiquarian forgotten Akol. What woke Elwood from this slumber was realizing the tree he had been pulled in front of was but a mere illusion of tree; for he saw the nebulous patterns of eyes as the branches became ropey arms that sunk down towards him.
Elwood awoke with a loud gasp before breathing very heavily. As he tried to merely rest himself back to sleep; he noticed the room was filed with that foul odour he had noticed when he came here month’s earlier. He saw the putrid water spraying once more from the patched floorboard, now with a fresh hole; as it spread like a plague over the floor. As he leaned up to view the damage; a scurrying of what sounded to be over a thousand small creatures moving all at once forced his gaze above. His face went bloodless as those massive eyes stare down at him before the ropey arms coiled around the frame of his bed as its gelatin body began to drip down. At last came to his mind the name of this horror that he had heard fist-hand from Professor Dyer of the tragic Antarctic expedition during Elwood’s last year of schooling and the nameless thing old country folk say stalk woodlands the world over at night; a Shoggoth!
Unearthly terror hung around Elwood’s throat so no scream could be uttered; but his actions were quick and logical. He sprang from his bed as the abomination poured down from the walls and trashed about wildly; the smell of its very being filling the room with the stench of a forgotten tomb. The monster’s serpentine feelers were making their way sinisterly across the study desk; leaving obliteration in their wake. Elwood saw their course to be the stone as he lunged for it with both hands; knocking over a large vat of sulfuric acid he had by the study desk. What followed by this singular chance accident broke the last of his nerves.
The sight of the Shoggoth had frightened Elwood and nearly driven him to volatile rejection of his supper; but as the corrosive acid conquered it blob-like being brought the ultimate straining shock. The blackened tar monstrosity all at once bent; twisted, twirled, spun, shriveled, and expanded. The horror was not from the visual effect, as gruesome as it must have been; but from the sheer sound the creature had made. Bellowing from the primordial ooze’s explosion wrought a chimera of scream; the things that should not be, maddest of wild dogs, most exotic of birds fearing dying breaths, and even the horrid rattles of both our kinds sexes in the most gruesome of pains. The last straw of his mind worn away, he could only scream in the blackened room and crouch away from its remains; uttering the Lord’s prayer in the vain attempt to drive the echoes of that death orchestra from his ears.
The remaining weeks of March changed little besides Felix’s effort to clean Elwood’s nearly condemnable room in vain. Most of the interior paraphilia belonging to Elwood was unsalvageable, spare his surveying bag; that strange snakeskin book and a few of his wardrobes. Elwood himself did little but vegetate in Felix’s room and mumble queerly to himself; though Felix never could figure exactly what he was saying. By St. Patrick’s Day saw Elwood’s fully recovered enough from his ordeal to properly dress himself and move into another room of the cottage. His entries in the journal during this time are nearly the most madding of all he recorded.
Elwood rationalized that there was some secret dark underground and unseen cult war that had been going on in the town for decades. Liken to a pirate battle over territory, The Coven of the Black Goat and The Cult of the Pallid Mask fought on; staking their rightful claim in this small town. The Pallid Mask Cult had been victorious enough to drive The Black Coven back into the dark woods from whence their familiars born; had he, himself, not delved deeply into that forgotten church and brought forth power from the stone to sway The Black Man’s return. In doing so he became involved in their great chess game which both cosmic forces would tug of war with his soul till he chose a side or was broken by insanity. Whatever action he would take, it had to be soon; for the swift approaching arcane and dark Walpurgis time would make both cults potent enough to destroy the town, if they so wished.
For the rest of March, Elwood surveyed the nearest routes and area that would lead him to the top of Hopps Hill. As the dirt roads led into more thick undergrowth, he would have to traverse a much more choked terrain than the French quarter. Most of the travel would be guess work on his own part but he was certain that it was manageable in the dawning spring season. Just before March’s end, he bought the storage cylinder from Warwick’s general store. He set his date for his unknown destiny of confrontation on the fast approaching Good Friday; estimating that the two cult’s powers were weakest during such a holy day.
It is here the journal’s general account becomes nearly illegible as Elwood was writing in the dark in hope no one would notice his presence as he made his climb on his planned night of action. The disconnected and blindly penned phrases such as:
“Cross entangled by branch…. Fell into bog….. Can’t waste time to get it back”
“Faith alone is all that I have now. God help me”
Surmises as what can be given. For on the night of Good Friday, a tremendous storm was let loose at midnight above Hopps Hill. Five or more large fireballs were reported to have hovered above the monoliths for nearly an hour as the storm raged on. Then a loud clap of thunder and a bolt of lightning ended the fury. This was all accounted for by Patrolmen Terrence who had been in the French quarter when the storm began and avidly check his watch; Bishop Nathanial of St. Mark’s Catholic Church who was cleaning the church’s bells and saw the fireballs, Violet Moss of Warwick’s general store who heard the thunder clap as it roused her from her sleep; and Felix Dombrowski who had been viewing the hill through the instruments Elwood had left him.
Felix’s account was one of near lunacy as he claims to have seen dark shapes rise and fall long before the storm began but his account of this cannot be proven factual. One must bear in mind that nothing of true supernaturalism occurred that night as viewed by its three other witnesses. Nothing but an odd summer storm among some crudely placed monoliths of the days before Europeans can rouse the strangest nature of human imagination. For where does rationality lie in such tales that modern people like us should believe? Our chief actor Elwood, however, has not fully faded into the dark reaches of the known universe; for he has one final part to tell.
It may be this last account that drove young Welsh officer Arthur to sink that curios relic Elwood had found into the deep cove. Once more, it appears to have been written in near darkness so the penmanship is hardly of high quality; appearing more hurried than neat. One can also assume that it was made out before the storm as that alone must have knocked the closed cylinder into the river. The evidence is not censored by any means; the copy merely a transcription. Here are the entries or all that can be made of them:
“Must be four hours now since I began my climb up this horrid peak
Heaven help me that I can see all of them gather now…
He is with them!
That thing that is not man but hides behind the semblance of man.
He is still the same like my vision….
Like in that witch house so long ago….
Trouble focusing, my face feels stiff.
Just looking at them gather around the fire is driving me paranoid….
I can only see their faces — both beautiful yet revolting.
Great God Pan!
They’re not human!
They’re like fauns but not fauns.
Like druids yet not druids. I…
See things I never saw before flashing before my eyes.
I remember distance Carcosa and Aldebaran, Lake Hali, the robes forever scatted among the children of Earth…
The Last King….
I Am Frank Elwood!
1377 Maple Street, Maine.
I live in the 20th century!
Nodens have mercy!
The other half of the stone— nothing but winding tentacles and paws that are not hands nor hooves nor flippers nor claws—Crawling Chaos!
“The trees are moving closer and closer — The Thousand young!
The All Mother!
Lord of the Woods!
What am I to fear from you!?
From you or him!?
Can’t stay conscious, senses transfiguring….
They’re closing in.
Madame Rose is in sight with her wicked cat grin.
Naked broom stick rider of hell spawned human flesh!
They keep chanting the Akol!
The Voorish sign!
Powder and fire made from children blood and bones!
This stone must fully summon—Iä!”
Be gone from me!
Be gone from me!
Am mad or am going mad— my face is but the Pallid Mask….
My skin is but the tattered silk drawn closed….
With what will of mine is left….
I will give to banish them all from this land….
For soon the blackened city will rise …
Forever shall know me…
I shall never be myself again.
For I am….
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