21 May A Lovecraftian Tale: Khezu of the Peaks
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"A Lovecraftian Tale: Khezu of the Peaks"Written by
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Estimated reading time — 10 minutes
My name is Earl Farloth, and I was born and brought up in Arkham, Massachusetts. Many terrifying journeys have originated in my hometown, but I contest that mine is the wildest. I am a professor of geology for the Miskatonic University, and have gone on many trips for the discovery of long-sought-after minerals. Here I shall record one of the most disturbing of my adventures, in which I traversed to the Himalayas, found a pulsating crystal, and discovered that horrifying monster that sends shivers down my spine still today. It is insane to me, how the ancient people with cyclopean weapons could somehow muster the courage to slay beasts like the one I encountered.
It began on a simple day of lecturing. The students seemed to be in their regular half-caring disposition. I was speaking about limestone and how it could be found anywhere, from Florida to the Himalayas. One student looked up when I stated this and shouted “How is that so? Shouldn’t there be at least one large difference between the minerals of these two places?” I told him that despite what may seem obvious, there were no mentionable differences between the two limestones. He went quiet, but the question humored me and I decided to look up the information on the internet.
I did not expect to find anything that I did not already know; I was a geology professor after all. I did not find any information on the limestone that surprised me, but I did find an old legend from the villagers of a town neighboring some indiscriminate mountains. It spoke of large, luminescent crystals, and of great beasts that lived near them. I had nothing else to do, so I spent the rest of that evening reading the legend. I had no idea what the impact of reading that one myth would have on my life, and if I had, then perhaps I would have stopped right then and there.
The legend had stated that while the largest crystals were to be found in the largest mountain neighboring the village, smaller crystals were often gathered in other mountains surrounding it due to the lesser amount of life roaming those areas. Upon reading this, I recalled with great lucidity an article in the news the other day. It was about odd, luminous rocks being discovered in the Himalayas by a mining expedition sent there. This intensified my curiosity, and my desire to view this area grew very large. I entirely disregarded the part about the blind, pallid beasts that supposedly lived near these wondrous rocks, due to the papers never mentioning them.
The very idea of glowing minerals enthralled me. Were the rocks really glowing themselves, or were there microbes on them that glowed, making it all a hoax? I favored the former idea, because the microbes would have nothing to feed on for all those years. Then again, what would make the rocks glow themselves? A chemical reaction with something in the air? If the rocks really did glow, then that would make them very valuable indeed. And if those rocks happened to be crystals, then perhaps the myths were true, and I could discover some very large minerals in the large mountain of that specific village.
I hadn’t the sufficient funds to buy a trip for myself to the site, so I resolved to beg the university to pay for the expenses for me. After much pleading, the university’s leaders agreed to fund my trip if I gave them all the minerals I discovered, if any, when I returned. I agreed to this quickly, because I knew that I could learn and write down everything I could about the crystals before I returned. As for the possible money that the University would gain from the crystals, I did not care. Money was nowhere near as important to me as the thrill of learning about the minerals. The cost was not too great, and I agreed to hire some miners when I got there with my own money.
So the following week, after the prior preparations had been made, I set off for the Himalayas. It was sometime in November, and my bags were packed with the necessary garments. I was prepared for the freezing weather, and knew that the elevation of the mountains would serve as to make the cold even less bearable. This was not very important to me, because I knew that my blood would be hot with adventure and excitement.
The flight there was quite simple and I will not waste time describing it in detail. The small plane that I had flown in seemed somewhat unreliable for keeping my safety assured, but it got the job done and I landed sometime during the middle of the month. The village I was in was called Kokopo, and when I saw the neighboring mountain I hadn’t the slightest doubt that I had arrived at the correct place.
It was Brobdingnagian in size, measuring around some 6,000 meters. Its apex seemed to be enveloped in the dancing, profound winds that pervaded the region. The snow that slid down its sides was pure ivory, and I felt that I would catch a deadly cold in a matter of moments if I were to walk on it barefoot. I was at first taken aback by its majesty, and winced when I remembered that the highest peak of the Himalayas, Mount Everest, was 2,000 meters higher. I knew that this was nothing, however, when compared to the peaks, those Mountains of Madness, that one exploratory group discovered in Antarctica over 80 years ago. Still, I had never seen any large mountains before this one, and was shocked at its immensity.
The village was adequate. There were around ten small huts that housed its own family, and a large hut in the center that the smaller ones surrounded. This larger hut, which was still quite confining in size, was the chief’s home: a stereotypical, wise, elderly lady. All of the villagers respected her, and she was the only one who spoke English (though not very well) in the small community. It vexed me slightly how she could have learned English, but I did not pay that much mind.
As soon as my men were ready, I told them to get to work at their mining. Without a moment’s hesitation, the miners gathered their tools and asked me where they should begin. I did not want them interfering with my own private expedition into the mountains that I had planned for, so I lead them into a small cave on the side of the mountain up a slope close to the village and told them to commence. They did not question me, and I expected them to find at least a few crystals. That would be enough to ward off any suspicion from me, and after I got my own tools ready, I began my own personal trek into mountain’s heart.
It was surprisingly easy to venture up the mountain, thanks to a rugged path that ran along its side. I followed this path for about an hour, noting several small orifices in the mountain as I ascended. These were far too small for me to fit in, but I wondered what was inside their dark, and perhaps immense, depths. After this, I reached an opening in the mountain that was surprisingly large. It had a height of fifteen feet, and was about twenty feet wide. It was very gloomy and damp on the inside, and shadows flooded the area. I took a flashlight out of my bag, of which I had many more batteries than perhaps necessary, and entered the pit.
I walked without fear for about twenty minutes before noticing the minute shimmering light. I wondered what could be making this light, and quickly assumed that it was some mineral reflecting off the light of my flashlight. I turned it off, but to my amazement the light remained twinkling. Thrilled, I ran toward the light and stumbled on the cave’s rocky floor. Recomposing myself, I took a closer look at the mineral in the wall that was now before me. Oh, how it shined! It seemed as if it was bestowed with luminescence from a divine source. I was compelled to hold it, so after a few smacks on the surrounding rock with my little pickax that I had brought with me, I tugged it free.
It was shaped like any other rock, and did not resemble a heart even in slightest fashion. But there was that beating. It horrifies me now, how entranced I was in that heart of stone. I say “heart”, because it pulsated just like one. It beat in my hands like a mad drum, with a constant, quick rhythm. It enchanted me, and I would have stayed there in the darkness with that pulsating rock for quite some time if it wasn’t for what had happened moments later.
Holding that crazy rock in my hands, I perceived a sudden increase in heat and a slight shuffling noise. Now in a cave, the temperature never naturally changes in correspondence with the outside temperature. I knew this, being a professor of geology, and wondered what could have possibly caused this increase. The stone had been in my hands for a minute now, so I doubted that it was the cause. It took me a few moments to think up an answer, and when I did I nearly froze. What if, I asked myself, a larger creature with its own body heat was nearby? That would explain everything, including the noise. Horrified, I turned around reluctantly.
Sometimes, the human brain takes in so much information that it feels like shutting down. Mine certainly felt like that when I stared into the pale gaping maw of that beast that hung from the ceiling. It was within a few feet from me, and its large body was somehow hanging from the roof of the cave. Its neck was shaped like a capital L, putting its mouth in front of my face. It took me a few moments to realize this after I got over the shock of what I was staring at.
I beheld a round head, with a mouth of about a foot or two in diameter, within a yard of my face. The head, with no visible eyes, was pale and flabby from lack of sun and exertion. Its mouth was lined with rows of pearly teeth, so I felt that if anything should fall into it (perhaps myself!), it would be instantly torn to shreds. The lower part of the mouth, going in to the throat, was red and slimy, and visibly curved upwards towards the rest of the ivory body.
It took me a few moments to gather my wits about what I was staring at. Then I screamed as loud as I could, shoved the rock-heart in to my bag, and ran as fast as possible away from the beast, deeper in to the cave. My flashlight was turned on, and I kept it straight ahead of me as I dashed through the darkness. I heard the thing pursuing me from behind, not bothering to drop from the ceiling. Apparently, it could traverse roofs of caves as well as it could floors, or perhaps better.
I ran like a madman, almost certain that I would not escape the terrible cave alive. After a few minutes of running like this I grew very tired and, not hearing the monster behind me any longer, I resolved to rest for a few moments until I heard it again. So I sat down on the cave floor and, with nothing else to do, pointed my flashlight to the ceiling behind me so I could see the thing when it came.
Oh what terrible things I saw! On the roof, hanging by tails with large suction-cups, were about a dozen of those insane creatures. From this perspective, I got a better look at them. Their bodies were round, with two legs coming from the bottom, two wings coming from their sides, a short tail with a suction cup at the end from the back end, and a long, extendable neck ending in a head coming from the front of their bodies. They had no visible eyes, and their skin was a sickly pallid color, I almost regret seeing those monstrous things on the ceiling behind me, but it is better that I saw them first than the other way around.
After noticing me, probably with an acute sense of smell, one of them screamed in a voice somewhat similar to that of a woman. I was horrified by these creatures yet again, and began to run for the exit once more. After running for several seconds, I grew very tired. I wondered why I was out of breath so fast, and why I felt as if a large weight was tethering me to that cave. I had rested for a decent amount of time before I saw those things in the roof and had begun to run again, so why was I so quickly out of breath? I asked myself this as I pushed onward through the caves. Then suddenly it came to me. The stone!
I was now faced with a choice. Drop the stone, which had to have been the source of my fatigue, and increase my chance of survival, or keep the stone and run a greater risk of death? I could not answer this immediately, and behind me I heard the beasts gaining on me. After several moments, I continued to run with the stone in my hands, undecided as whether to drop it or not. I could only go around thirty seconds without stopping again, out of breath. I still was hesitant to drop the stone, but then one of the creatures dropped to the floor behind me within a few yards away. At that point, my nerves got to me and I turned around and threw the rock right at the sickly thing. It made an aggravated noise, and I turned and ran in response.
Without the stone, I found that I could run much faster and farther. Using this to my advantage, I ran for quite some time until I reached another one of the mountain’s orifices. Excited, and tired from all the running, I dashed out into the frigid Asian landscape. The cave opened up at the top of a downward slope that was somewhat steep. Not wanting to stop or fall, I slightly slowed my steps as I dashed downwards. Thinking I was safe, I turned around to look back at the cave.
The monster was still standing there, except with a dumb, bored expression on its face. Then suddenly it reared back its head, and I perceived sparks to be emitting from its mouth. Finally, it smacked its head against the earth, with its mouth facing me, and three balls of blue energy came rushing in my direction. Horrified, I ran quickly down the slope. I turned around once to see how close they were, and stopped. The three balls were moving parallel to each other, and I was standing in one of the spots that they should never cross. So I stood there as the energy balls zoomed right past me. The monster stopped when he saw this, and after a moment of what seemed to be contemplation, it went back into its dark lair.
I ran back to the village, and told the elder all of what had happened. She only looked at me for a moment before turning and speaking to one of the men of the village who was standing next to her. She said something to him in their language, and then he quietly grabbed a large club from his dwelling and went towards the area where the monster was. I figured out what he was going to do, but it all seemed insane to me. I quickly made my preparations for my return to Arkham, and never went back to the Himalayas again. The University was pleased, and so was I, that the miners I had hired had brought back numerous crystals. None of them glowed or pulsated, which was really a relief to myself. The memory of that horrific adventure stains my mind still today, and I unceasingly give thanks to Divine Providence for sparing me.
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