Saturday, December 20, 2014

1904 Expedition, Antarctic Miskatonic/Arkham Museum

(This work is composed from Public domain images, and the Cthulhu setting which is also in public domain.  My characters and words are copyright Alex Ness, 2014)

Journal Entry,
Late April 1904,
Doctor of Philosophy Adrian Michael Ward, Archeology & History New Lands
Ocean voyage and background thoughts

I never expected or believed that Arthur Coppens would have provided such a sum of money for such an expedition.  I could see if we knew what would be found, but for an expedition of three well stocked ships, crews, ponies, dogs, sleds, and a year's provisions, to seek a supposed ancient site thought to be "entry way to Ancient Agartha"?  We might as well have suggested that we'd found Atlantis covered in snow.  However, I do believe that there are ruins covered by the ice and snow.  And I do believe there is a coinciding opening to some deeper earth cave system holding some ancient ruins of a culture, based upon how many ancient texts refer to periods and eras where the people had to live within the earth.  Documenting that in areas still lived in, such as Europe or East coast US is nearly impossible, but here, where humans no longer live, we have a chance to see what is left, as it was left.

I should state, as a theorectical archeologist and historian of the new people and new lands, I am uncomfortable with any suggestions of where we are going or what we are supposedly searching for.  Better to suggest an expedition in search of the unknown, yes?, than to build hopes.  I remember Dr. Conwell Grey's supposed discovery of Niflheim.  He'd discovered a wonderful never explored place, and one that is surely worth the plaudits and print, but rather than slap a placard of a mythical land, why not give it a chance as a new land and let us develop it as that?
From a distance we could see nothing but ice, ocean, and sky ahead of our passage.  The sky bent as a dome to reflect the fact that we had reached the bottom of the world. The common belief about cold is that it can be fended off with layers.  But one would need to be very thin and tall, and have so many layers as to not be able to move, to be able to fend off this cold.  The chill pervades every joint. every bone, every muscle, and the tears freeze to your face, from the blowing wind.

Thanks to friends with the state of Maine's United State's Coast Guard detachment we have top caliber sailors on board, and thanks especially to connections our financier A. Coppens had with friends in the Maritime provinces of Canada, we have 12 highly skilled army members trained in the skills of marines, in arctic weather.  We are not expecting any sort of pirating, or military opposition, but, having people trained for dealing with the unexpected, you can have a sense of peace of mind about certain things.  The weather will be an obstacle.  The ocean is an obstacle.  The fauna is not an obstacle nor is the flora.  Therefore, we will not need to be armed, but for the distant possibility of polar bears if they exist here or not, I don't know, or, the unknown.

We have come to a place where we are clearly in the proximity of our landfall.  Just where to make our anchorage is important, for it has to be able to be protected from the inevitable storms, and relatively safe from the wintering ice.  Our best efforts must be good enough to sustain men for over 400 days.  We can't possibly send for help with any certainty of response.  And, we have no idea what is, in fact, upon the ice covered continent we have arrived near.

The next day's calculations, and preparations are not the "stuff of adventures" but they can make or break the back of our expedition, and the lack of our preparation could spell our doom.  So we had best be as damned well precise as possible.

And just to say this, while we've anchored, and can see the crushed remnants of an old whaling ship, and whale bones, and various Antarctic life, we've no idea what is in the interior of this alien land.  Of all the places upon the earth, this is the one, I feel, that can kill you without malice, and shred your body, to the bone, in an instant.

I've read with interest about a German/Scandanavian led expedition going on, as we are unloading, in the unexplored Arctic regions, searching for Hyperborea.  I've an interest in that as a New Land, and of course, with any discovery such as the great longed for site of Ultima Thule, the world still has numerous sites that we believe exist, have found evidence of, and now have the means to approach.  Sadly the loss of a number of hot air/or gas filled dirigibles and air ships over the northern pole means, we may or may not have reached them, but have not returned with the news of such.

We have no reason to think that our expedition is being followed or shadowed by any other agency or expedition, we've more than covered our tracks, and we've been very forward with our information with our sponsors, government agencies, and private parties involved, but we've also made certain to be less vocal with the public.  We are well aware of the dangers of "claim jumping" if someone feels the need to find artifacts and make claims.  However, the location of this claim is so very dangerous, almost no one would have the ability to simply "do it", that is, decide to follow and jump the claim.  It has, as it stands, taken more than 3 years to prepare for this expedition.  And that was accomplished only with super human effort.

Journal entry Mid July,
Harbor Station,
Erik March, Expedition leader,

Making way inland we lost a patrol, falling through a crevice that had been hidden by the thin ice, and strangely colored rock formation beneath.  Normally we are safe from such falls, being roped together, and we have experts in climbing.  But the sides of the rock were perfectly smooth, and when the ice shattered it cut like broken glass. The fall took our men more than 30 feet down to the cave floor, whereupon we endeavored to mark off the open crevice and sent for more crew to help in recovery.  At first we dared hope it was for survivors and rescue... but within moments it was clear, it was a body recovery.

But that leads to the team's first archeological discovery, and thus, I turned over leadership to the team's heads, and stepped back from tactical leadership.  The body removal was grotesque, and my men were horrified by what they saw.  Sending replacements was definitely a good idea, because the trauma of seeing these broken bodies would not allow them to go forth.

Journal Entry, Mid July,
Doctor of Philosophy Adrian Michael Ward, Archeology & History New Lands...
Subject: Inland Expedition 

The removal of the bodies of the three lost lives was depressing for the entire team.  The horror was multiplied by the discovery of the fact that there were carvings in the stone floor, and against the wall of the walls of the crevice, were etched images of what seem to look like giant humans with weird vegetable or insect heads, being worshiped by smaller humans.  And various lettering or characters upon the walls towards the bottom of the floor.  This is a natural formation, but it was used for humans, however long ago, and, with that human activity, I suspect that there is a cave nearby.  Perhaps it is small, perhaps it is without purpose beyond protection, but there is likely something.

Half the crew are looking worried, the other half are busily taking etchings and working without any sort of emotional utterance.  For my part, my viscera are churning.  I haven't eaten, so it isn't a natural reaction.  The walls are cold to the touch, to the bare hand.  But they are also warmer than it is cold outside. And there is a perspiration of sorts upon the stones, reflecting our breath, and our body heat warming the surrounding features.  It is an eerie sort of hush, with subzero temps above, and the crevice being warmed by our flesh's heat.

The blood from the shattered bodies didn't really freeze, but rather followed the path that gravity offered and we saw that along the bottom of the crevice wall there was a path, and it led to an ice cave, and something bizarre, in this frozen macabre place.

We made our way in, roped to each other, and with most of the party armed, and most of us prepared to see absolutely anything before us. 

Then we saw it.  A great hall, with more than a thousand skulls lining the path to a greater hall.  And we felt compelled to walk and delve further.  The entrance was ornate. And there was a fire, or, was it?  But we saw the headless bodies of every single member of our crew, who had not accompanied us, hanging from a long cord, and two metal poles.  And there were the ancient men who had carved the etchings we had seen, all dancing around those bodies, chanting in a tone that was not human, and it was not beautiful to the ear.  They sang praises to an enormous stone statue, by size larger than any building I have seen, and they chanted, "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn"

My men slowly dropped their gear, and stripped themselves of their clothing.  And joined the dance.

After hours of pleading, to no good end, I attempted to return to the surface, and there, and in this final entry, what I found, was two ships missing, and one crushed by the ice.  And nothing else.  No food, no camp supplies, no footsteps in the snow.  Nothing to sustain me.

I hide the journal where it will hopefully be found and warn others to not come here.  But I suspect, it will be ignored, even if found.

Adrian Michael Ward

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