Chapter Eight: Dec 5 - Dec 6 - The Black Tower, Part One
Following a brief rest in the tight quarters of the ancient ruin, the investigators rose early on the 5th of December and resumed their examination of the City of the Elder Things. Evelyn Dubois and Richard Greene returned to the subterranean hall they had discovered before, though Evvy narrowly avoided falling as they made their way down the icy, rubble-choked passage. Dr. William Scott Tyson, James O'Neil, and Dr. Nikifor Schevchenko returned to the pit at the center of the plaza where they had landed, and resumed their examination of the murals that decorated the walls beside the ramp that spiraled down into the deeps below. Jeeves and Stacey Meredith Whitehall III headed south, examining the white obelisk they had seen the day before. Buernor Thorson and Samuel Brighton-Foyle remained at the camp with Professor Moore, analyzing specimens of petrified wood he had discovered. "How," Moore wondered, "did they harvest wood at this altitude? According to Dyer's text, the valley was once lush with vegetation, an impossibility at this altitude."

The day saw a number of important discoveries made. As Tyson, Schevchenko, and O'Neil finished translating what they could on the sides of the fallen tower, Evvy and Greene finished in the great hall and decided to see if the passages would connect as stated in Dyer's manuscript. Her keen sense of direction enabled the two parties to find each other, though O'Neil found something else - a crushed tin can! Tyson did a survey of the area and found an ancient stone door that had been forced open in recent months. The tracks were identical to those found around Lake's camp. "We are not alone here," Tyson reported.

Jeeves and Stacey had examined the obelisk, then continued on past several other ruined buildings. At one point, Jeeves was certain he saw movement atop a nearby roof, but nothing was there. On the duo went until they found a sloped ramp that led down through an archway and began to spiral ever downward. They walked for nearly half an hour, covering more than a mile, passing empty galleries all the while. The ramp began to slope sharply at that point, and Stacey heard a strange, trilling sound below. "Tekeli-li, tekeli-li" the high-pitched sound repeated, and the hairs stood up on the back of his neck. "We need to go - now!" A strange, pungent stench like rotten fish washed up behind them, and both heard movement from below. He and Jeeves began to run as if the devil himself were chasing them, until at last they reached the surface.


The ramp descended far below the surface, to unguessed at Stygian depths.

Reconvening at camp, the investigators shared what they had learned. The murals and dot-script of the Elder Things presented a story across millions, if not billions, of years. They had arrived from space when the Earth was young, and used a biological technology to create food and servants. The servants - shoggoths Dyer had called them - had rebelled against their masters, only to be put down after a long war. Other creatures had arrived, and they warred with the Elder Ones as well, with the last confining the city's inhabitants to their settlements in the Southern Hemisphere. As the continents drifted, the ice eventually came, and the Elder Ones were forced to retreat to hidden cities next to sunless seas far below the surface. Moore, Thorson, and Brighton-Foyle had discovered the wood was from tropical plants. The murals had shown that the Elder Ones had used some massive air-pumps threading through the Miskatonic Mountains to pressurize the plateau, a feat of engineering Moore could scarcely conceive of.

Starkweather had returned with Miles at that point, and the discussion turned to what they would do as they were undoubtedly not alone in the city. Stacey's report was especially disturbing. If any of the monstrous shoggoths had survived, they were all in deadly danger. Starkweather scoffed at the idea, but had everyone keep weapons close at hand. "Should there be any danger, fire off a round and I will come running. I've faced down charging bull elephants in my time. This is no different." Schevchenko assured him that the protean shoggoths were both much larger and more difficult to kill than any elephant if Dyer was to believed.


Their exploration of the strange city continued.

They opted to rest at that point, though Moore continued working. Rising early on the 6th, the investigators were greeted by the sight of Moore being treated for frostbite. "I was out and about gathering samples," he said sheepishly, "and in my enthusiasm ignored the cold until it was too late." Tyson and Greene grounded him for the next few days, at least until his blisters healed. As she stepped out, Evvy noticed the wind had died down, making the pass navigable by their planes. Plans were made to depart on the next day. "Get your exploring done today and we will load samples. We've used enough supplies that we have plenty of room." The investigators continued their exploration while Greene went with Starkweather to survey some nearby pyramids. They found ancient towers with murals depicting thousands of years of war with insect-like fungi from space, great breeding pits where the Elder Things reared their larval young, and a great arena where ceremonies of some sort were held. They also found a buried Elder Thing, though the burial was recent. "At least some from Lake' camp survived," Tyson mused. They returned to the camp.

A quick headcount was done upon Starkweather's return, and Greene was not among them. Devising a search pattern, the investigators set out. Stacey and Jeeves remained behind with Moore as the rest fanned out. Tyson discovered signs of a struggle, as if Greene had been carried off. The tracks were those of the Elder Things. As he and the rest examined the area to determine if Greene had been taken underground, the camp had a visitor.

Stacey saw him approach from across the mound of rubble. Trying to determine if it was Greene, he called for Jeeves. The man pointed behind them, and as the duo looked, he moved towards the planes. Fearing the worst, Jeeves looked for a shot with his rifle while Stacey began to move closer. But they were too late. The figure emerged from the cockpit of the Enderby, an empty fuel can in one hand and a flare in the other. He lit the flare and tossed it into the cockpit. There was a whoosh of flame, and a moment later there was a terrific explosion. A fireball soared up into the sky as the Enderby was destroyed. The man stumbled backwards, reeling from the force of the explosion. Without hesitation, Jeeves put a bullet in his shoulder. Stacey was on him in a heartbeat, kneeling on his wounded shoulder to prevent him from moving or bleeding out.

The sound of the explosion brought the rest running back. Evvy and Halperin did what they could to ensure the Weddell was safe, and had to watch the other plane burn. Stacey found a sled the man had been pulling, and brought it back to camp. The man himself was taken back to the tents in the camp they had established. He turned out to be none other than Kyle Williams, Lexington's pilot! Williams fed them a story about Lexington and the Germans conspiring to kill Starkweather, but Jeeves and O'Neil saw through his lies. As he was pressed, the man collapsed into babbling. "Don't you understand? We are a virus! We shouldn't be here! If we return, we infect this place. The world isn't safe! We all have to die! Dyer and I saw it the last time, in the Wesetrn Range! Oh God, they aren't gone! The servants speak with their masters' voices!"


The investigators were not alone in the city.

Stacey went through his belongings, finding a spare oxygen tank, spare rations, and a mysterious mail pouch. It contained a journal in German, a hand-written notebook, and a manuscript - none other than Poe's complete copy of The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, missing since it was stolen from Acacia Lexington's father nearly ten years before! As Danforth babbled off into madness under questioning, Starkweather set out to determine if he had been accompanied by anyone else. Several moments later, a shot rang out from the nearby ruins. Rushing out, everyone saw a horrific sight - two of the Elder Things, very much alive, hauling off Starkweather into the air in a tarpulin held between them! Regaining their composure, Jeeves and Tyson took pot-shots at the monstrous forms. Even with a direct hit, the creatures did not appear to slow much. Jeeves attempted to put a mercy round in Starkweather, but was unsure as to its effect.

"My God," Moore yelled, "they have James! We have to pursue and try to rescue him. Get the Weddell ready to fly!"
Viewable by: Public
0 comments