Ancient Horrors of the Middle East and other Strange Tales
The People of the Monolith
An ancient journal
The People of the Monolith
“The People of the Monolith” is my journal documenting the archeological expedition of myself, Dr. Adil Shakir Al-Tai as well as Dr. Andreyus Al-Abedalla and Dr. Jassem Mohammad Al-Kallaf. Dr. Al-Kallaf obtained his degree in Biology at the University of Königsberg in Prussia. I myself hold a degree in Geology from the University of Cambridge. And of course Dr. Al-Abedalla is one of the current leaders in his chosen field of Archaeology.
I’m starting this journal to chronicle our expedition into the Zagros Mountains. We are heading to previously uncharted part of the mountain range with the hopes of completing the mapping of the range as well as finding safer trade routes.
On a more personal note, I’m very excited to be working with Dr. Al-Abedalla. It was one thing to get funding, it was quite another to have someone with his expertise join us. I’m looking forward to working with him as well as what I will learn from his experience.
Tragedy struck the expedition today. One of the workers was attacked and dragged off by a tiger. Dr. Al-Kallaf said that based on the description given, it was a Caspian Tiger and not at all unusual for this region. I am thankful for the doctor’s background in biology.
The captain and a few of his men tracked the tiger into the wilds. It was less than an hour before we heard the shots from the Arquebuses. Skilled hunters those men are.
The men were given double rations tonight. It wasn’t much, but it was a start to mending the wounded morale.
Today was much lighter. The weather was perfect and we were able to keep our pace for longer than usual. Not to mention, it was my birthday.
We celebrated allowing extra rations for the men. Andreyus offered to share a bottle of wine he had brought with him. To say the least, I was a bit surprised. I thanked him and politely remained that as Muslims, we are not permitted. All he said was, “…if there really is a divine being, I suspect it has neither the mind nor the time for such a trivial matter” before drinking from his bottle.
I’m not sure I’ll forget those words as they are still ringing in my head as I write this. While his words have certainly left me with questions, I’m not sure I have the heart to ask them. I suppose we will both find out one day which one of our faiths is the correct one and my questions will be answered. All I can be sure of now is that Andreyus is a troubled man.
We found something today. We had just crested a steep ridge when we were called to the front of the troop. Before us laid massive valley and it was awe inspiring. This must have been the same kind of untouched and tranquil places that inspired the prophets.
So beautiful and vast was it that it took me some time before I noticed what I had been called up to see. In the center of the valley was and massive cylindrical structure that seemed to have a greenish quality. From where we were, it was clear that it must have been at least 10 meters high.
Our approach was hasty, however the cliff walls proved to be difficult to traverse. It was several hours before the men found what they believed to be some kind of game trail. Dr. Al-Kallaf seems excited about the possibility of discovering a new species in this valley. He says he is unfamiliar with the prints on the trail and seems hopeful on finding whatever it is that made them.
Upon reaching the valley floor, we were met with what Dr. Al-Kallaf believes is a new species of plant. He said at first glance it appeared to be some sort of vine. While it doesn’t seem to be able to spread outside of the valley, it’s dominance inside the valley seems nearly undisputed. With the exception of the trees in the distance, nothing else seems to grow here. The vines themselves are a dark crimson that seem to give the leaves a purple hue.
If you ask me, I say they are nothing more than a weed. They seem to excrete a sap that has a wonderfully adhesive quality to it and traveling through them has proven exceedingly difficult. Every step seems to be its own treacherous journey. I do believe every man in our company has taken at least one nasty fall. I find myself drawing strength from the sight of the Spire and the amazing discoveries I’m sure it will bring. I’m so excited that I even caught myself staring at it.
Further progress! We made our way deeper into the valley today. We decided to make camp around the first tree we encountered. It didn’t take a doctor of biology to know that this tree had never been documented before today.
This species seemed to grow anywhere from 4 to 5 meters in height with about a 2 meter diameter at the base. However the middle of the tree bulged out to approximately 2 ½ meters before narrowing back down at its height. The exterior seemed as though it was made from a mass of black leathery, ropey tentacles rather than a bark and wood. Four large, absurdly positioned, leafless limbs made up the top of this particular specimen. But perhaps the strangest part was that it seemed to share the foul sap that the vines on the valley floor possessed. I wonder if it’s some sort of defense from a yet unseen predator of the valley.
6/27 Early Morning
A man went missing this morning under the most peculiar of circumstances. The men sleeping around him said he had awoken in the middle of the night to relieve himself. A few moments later, the three men heard a scream that was abruptly cut off.
The Captain and his trackers went out after him but say his trail was too difficult to follow in the mass of vines on the valley floor. I believe there may be more too their story however. One of the men looked as white as a ghost. It was dark and hard to see but I also suspect that he had blood on his uniform. I’ll have to question the captain when I get a chance.
Despite the shakeup of the early morning events, we made it to the Spire. Oddly enough, nearing the spire is where the trees of the valley seem to be the thickest. In fact, Spire itself was completely surrounded by a dense patch of our new found friends. Odder still is that for whatever reason, there is a patch of sand encircles the base of the Spire. Not even the vines of the valley floor have been able to penetrate this inner sanctum.
The Spire itself is breathtaking. We estimate the height at some 12 to 15 meters and to stand next to it reminds one of just how small the human body really is. It is not an incredibly thick structure at only 6 meters in diameter at the base. The greenish color comes from what I believe is the malachite that the Spire seems to be composed of.
With a few notable exceptions, the Spire is actually quite devoid of detail. There doesn’t seem to be any kind of entry point. So far, the outer walls appear seamless and without fault. Marvelous craftsmanship! I was only able to find a single blemish that I will have to investigate tomorrow as it too high on the Spire to get a close look at.
I am really unsure of what to think. The men built a ladder today and I was able to climb part way up the Spire. The blemish I had noticed yesterday seems to be writing of some sort. Though, not a soul in the company recognizes the language. However I am quite sure it is writing of some sort. It is far too deliberate to be a random fracture. I was able to make a sketch of it.
I also had a moment to talk to the Captain about the incident the night before. He told me in confidence that he was indeed able to follow the man’s tracks. But they were unable to find anything. The trail simply culminated in a pool of blood and there were no other tracks to follow. He had never seen anything like it.
I agreed to keep it quite. The last thing we need is to frighten the men further than they already are. Especially being this close to real discovery. We’ve decided to just enforce a rule that no one is to leave the company without at least two other men to accompany them. Problem solved.
While the value of the Spire is without question, there hasn’t been much to find on it. Without knowing what the letters mean, I’m not too sure of where to begin researching next. I believe I will have the men begin digging around the Spire.
Andreyus and Jassem decided that further investigation of the valley itself was warranted. The theory is that there has to be more than just this one structure. Or at least, remnants of some signs of who made the Spire. Jassem felt it would also be a good chance to see more of the local wildlife. Half the team left with them while the Captain and I stayed behind. We said our goodbyes and I went back to work.
My God, we are not alone! There is something terrible that lurks in this valley which chills my bones to recall. We had just begun digging around the Spire when it appeared, literally out of thin air. I’m quite sure that just the existence of this massive beast is a blasphemy against Allah himself. Its body was not wholly ape, and not wholly insect. Its hide hung loosely upon its frame, and it’s corrugated, dead-eyed rudiment of a head swayed drunkenly from side to side as it chased its chosen victims. Despite its utter lack of facial description, it drove its massive talons into the men with murderous malignity.
Just one of those things was able to kill three men, drag off a fourth and send the rest of the camp screaming into the night. I stayed with the Captain then men that had the sense to stay together. There are seventeen of us now. I’m hoping we can find more in the morning. God help us, we are certainly not returning to the Spire.
I didn’t sleep at all last night. I don’t believe any of us did. One bit of good news at least is that a few more of the men came into our camp, making our numbers an even twenty. The decision was made to salvage as much as much as we could from the camp and search out the rest of our party. I’m happy to say we’re well supplied and our way to find Andreyus and his group. At this point, I’m just happy to be alive.
We found the rest of our company today. I wasn’t exactly pleased to report to Andreyus the events of the last few days. Thankfully, he seemed to take it rather well. I was almost surprised at his lack of reaction really.
He seems much more preoccupied with what his group has found. A system of caves in the Northern part of the valley. The network of tunnels seems limitless. There even seems to be portions with worked stone in them. We could be on the verge of discovering a new civilization.
There is so much to map out in these caves. I’m not sure leaving is an option until we do. Fortunately, we have found a source of food in the tunnels. There is an eatable fungus that seems native to the system. It seems we will be able to stay after all.
No sign of the beast that attacked our camp. I’m starting to wonder how much of what I remembered of the night was simply my mind playing tricks on me. Or maybe I’m just rationalizing. I suppose that if the beast stays away, it is a moot point.
I found something of great curiosity among Andreyus’s possessions today. Within his journal was a sketching that I found rather odd. I’ll have to ask him about it. But for now, I’ll just put it in my journal.
The nights have been growing increasingly colder and we have decided to move into the cave system for shelter. To be honest, I believe most of the men prefer it at this point. Due to our previous encounters in the valley, the tunnels seem much more welcoming.
We have found both an underground river as well as a hot spring in the caves that have been a boon to us. The heat from the springs keeps us warm and the river keeps us from getting too thirsty. The cave map is coming along nicely and we have seen very little trouble for some months now. I believe our luck has changed for the better.
I’m starting to notice a social rift in our company developing. Andreyus and Jassem seem to be traveling down increasingly different ideologies and strategies for our research. It makes sense considering their area of expertise. However, they debates seem increasingly heated and I am always caught in the middle. A role I’m am growing quite tired of as I find scientific value in both of their paths. Really, I just want to get the work done so we can go home.
We found something quite extraordinary today. Deep into one of the more man-made tunnels there is a sealed door. The door itself is brilliant! It is covered in magnificent writings and drawings. The truly amazing part however is that appears to be solid gold! Of course, I won’t know for sure until we’re able to get it open, but that is what I suspect. And it’s not just the door that is gold; the frame it is incased in also appears to be made from gold as well. We will all be very rich and famous men when we return, that much seems certain.
After several attempts at opening the door, it seems hopeless with the tools at our disposal. Andreyus has decided to focus on the study of the writings instead. Morale in company is still very high despite our failure to open the door. After all, we all know the significance of this find in itself. Whatever lies beyond is just a bonus.
Something strange happened today. I had joined Andreyus in the chamber outside the door just for a visit. We had been discussing the general state of things when our conversation had come to a lull, we both heard something. At first, I believed he had said something but I think we both realized the sound had come from the door. It sounded like a drawn out and labored sigh.
We stood silent, not sure of what we had just heard. A few moments later, it came again. To my horror, the sound formed into words, “يجيء الشذاذ”(The abnormal ones are coming). I have not the faintest notion of what that means… nor do I want to. I will not be spending anymore time with the golden door.
I finish my journal with some distress. Since the day the golden door spoke to us, he has not left the chamber. The schism in our party seems to be widening. Andreyus keeps insisting he is too busy to meet with Jassem on even the simplest of matters.Which just leaves me stuck as a sort of emissary. It scares me to think what may become of us if these hostilities continue.
This book was found inside a secret closet inside the bookstore of one Ishmael Rush. It was composed nearly completely in Aramaic with the exception of a few cryptic symbols. The journal was transcribed to English and copies were made and given to a few people. The original was used in an attempt to flush out members of the terrorist organization, The Sons of Mesopotamia and was destroyed in the process.