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The statement of Aleksander Rybnik.
 
The statement of Aleksander Rybnik.
   
March 15 1937
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March 15th, 1937
   
 
It wasn’t about fame or fortune. It wasn’t about making history or to stand on the shoulders of giants. It was about knowledge and truth. I needed to know what happened to my grandfather. I needed to know what he discovered. I needed to see what he saw with his own eyes and come to an understanding.
 
It wasn’t about fame or fortune. It wasn’t about making history or to stand on the shoulders of giants. It was about knowledge and truth. I needed to know what happened to my grandfather. I needed to know what he discovered. I needed to see what he saw with his own eyes and come to an understanding.
   
The mundanity and pointlessness of life finally sent me on my way. My friend Captain Peaslee would take me on my quest. We travelled the ocean on the captains fishing trawler the Southern Crux. We were to make landfall at Cooktown, a coastal town in the Shire of Cook, Queensland, Australia.
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The mundanity and pointlessness of life finally sent me on my way. My friend, Captain Peaslee, would take me on my quest. We travelled the ocean on the captain's fishing trawler the ''Southern Crux''. We were to make landfall at Cooktown, a coastal town in the Shire of Cook, Queensland, Australia.
   
Before he died my grandfather was a university lecturer who taught archaeology. I followed in his footsteps.
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Before he died, my grandfather was a university lecturer who taught archaeology. I followed in his footsteps.
   
In his will he left me a key to a safety deposit box at his bank. To my surprise the box contained several books on the occult and mysticism and numerous maps. But the most significant items in the box was a pair of sketches and a curious black stone with a face of sorts carved on it.
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In his will, he left me a key to a safety deposit box at his bank. To my surprise, the box contained several books on the occult and mysticism and numerous maps. But the most significant items in the box were a pair of sketches and a curious black stone with a face of sorts carved on it.
   
In my grandfathers letter he stated that the drawings were inspired by strange dreams that had been plaguing him.
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In my grandfather's letter, he stated that the drawings were inspired by strange dreams that had been plaguing him.
   
I examined the sketches. A subterranean cavern of immense height was meticulously drawn on paper with black pencil. The centrepiece of this sketch were two rows of standing stones that ran parallel to one another. They were built from massive cyclopean rocks that were stacked in such a way that was reminiscent of stone henge. The image evoked fleeting thoughts of eldritch terror.
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I examined the sketches. A subterranean cavern of immense height was meticulously drawn on paper with black pencil. The centrepiece of this sketch were two rows of standing stones that ran parallel to one another. They were built from massive cyclopean rocks that were stacked in such a way that was reminiscent of Stonehenge. The image evoked fleeting thoughts of eldritch terror.
   
Written on the backside of the drawing.
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Written on the backside of the drawing:
   
 
“The gateway to the other side resides within the mountain.”
 
“The gateway to the other side resides within the mountain.”
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The second drawing was even more bizarre. I got the distinct impression that it was a cold and arid desert at night. The ground was fissured and littered with fields of mummified human remains. The focus of this image, however, was that of an enormous plateau which stood menacingly. On the surface of the plateau was also a collection of standing stones similar to the first. An indistinct shape stood on the edge of the plateau. An animal, I think.
 
The second drawing was even more bizarre. I got the distinct impression that it was a cold and arid desert at night. The ground was fissured and littered with fields of mummified human remains. The focus of this image, however, was that of an enormous plateau which stood menacingly. On the surface of the plateau was also a collection of standing stones similar to the first. An indistinct shape stood on the edge of the plateau. An animal, I think.
   
Written on the opposite side of the paper was a message.
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Written on the opposite side of the paper was a message:
   
 
“The fabled Plateau of Leng. Each and every single one of us will face this. It is inevitable.”
 
“The fabled Plateau of Leng. Each and every single one of us will face this. It is inevitable.”
   
The stone carving came from a time when we knew very little and feared the primal world. A modern mind would find it difficult to visualize the world through the eyes of ancient man. The face on the stone, however, instilled an instinctive fear of the dark.
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The stone-carving came from a time when we knew very little and feared the primal world. A modern mind would find it difficult to visualize the world through the eyes of ancient man. The face on the stone, however, instilled an instinctive fear of the dark.
   
My destination was a site held sacred by Australian Aborigines where humans feel unwanted. Where they vanish without trace. A place that is rugged and foreboding. Clouded in mystery and immersed in superstition. Black Mountain. Aboriginals refer to it as the mountain of death. Tunnels and caves honeycomb the area. The only living things on the mountain are giant spiders, pythons and taipans.
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My destination was a site held sacred by Australian Aborigines where humans feel unwanted. Where they vanish without trace. A place that is rugged and foreboding. Clouded in mystery and immersed in superstition. Black Mountain. Aboriginals refer to it as the Mountain of Death. Tunnels and caves honeycomb the area. The only living things on the mountain are giant spiders, pythons and taipans.
   
 
Thousand upon thousands of gigantic boulders strewn across the landscape make up the mountain. A treacherous barren waste. Scientists have offered theories behind the origin of this peculiar mountain; a volcanic eruption, an upheaval during the ice age, an asteroid impact site. But none of these possibilities seem satisfactory.
 
Thousand upon thousands of gigantic boulders strewn across the landscape make up the mountain. A treacherous barren waste. Scientists have offered theories behind the origin of this peculiar mountain; a volcanic eruption, an upheaval during the ice age, an asteroid impact site. But none of these possibilities seem satisfactory.
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“I think you’re mad as a bag of ferrets.”
 
“I think you’re mad as a bag of ferrets.”
   
“Tell me a tale” I said.
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“Tell me a tale,” I said.
   
 
Tommy leaned on the railing next to me.
 
Tommy leaned on the railing next to me.
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“My people have many beliefs on how the mountain came to be.”
 
“My people have many beliefs on how the mountain came to be.”
   
“Go on” I said as I withdrew a pack of cigarettes from my shirt pocket. I offered Tommy a cigarette, he declined. I lit up as he began.
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“Go on,” I said as I withdrew a pack of cigarettes from my shirt pocket. I offered Tommy a cigarette, he declined. I lit up as he began.
   
“One such legend says in the dreaming, the time when legends were born, there was a beautiful young woman whose skin shined like obsidian. Two brothers were smitten by the woman. Both were determined to win her heart.”
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“One such legend says, in the dreaming, the time when legends were born, there was a beautiful young woman whose skin shined like obsidian. Two brothers were smitten by the woman. Both were determined to win her heart.”
   
Our attention was directed upwards towards the heavens. A faint ghostly band of red light materialized in the predawn sky directly above us. It was the Aurora Australis, the so called Southern Lights.
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Our attention was directed upwards towards the heavens. A faint ghostly band of red light materialized in the predawn sky directly above us. It was the Aurora Australis, the so-called Southern Lights.
   
 
Tommy continued sharing his tale.
 
Tommy continued sharing his tale.
   
“To settle their differences each brother set out to build a mountain of boulders. The brother with the highest mound would take the woman. Day after day the brothers worked. Their piles of boulders grew taller and taller.”
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“To settle their differences each brother set out to build a mountain of boulders. The brother with the highest mound would take the woman. Day after day, the brothers worked. Their piles of boulders grew taller and taller.”
   
 
Tommy paused and focused on the Aurora. The glowing ribbons of red light spread across the dark sky as it brightened with intensity. The rippling lights continued to dance across the backdrop of luminous stars.
 
Tommy paused and focused on the Aurora. The glowing ribbons of red light spread across the dark sky as it brightened with intensity. The rippling lights continued to dance across the backdrop of luminous stars.
   
“Before the contest could be decided, a wild storm descended on the land. Boulders tumbled down and crushed both brothers. The woman died,too.”
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“Before the contest could be decided, a wild storm descended on the land. Boulders tumbled down and crushed both brothers. The woman died, too.”
   
 
“Do you believe it’s haunted?”
 
“Do you believe it’s haunted?”
   
“They say her cries can be heard throughout the canyons and caves of the mountain. The place is cursed. At dusk the evil of the place begins to reveal itself. You can hear it on the wind that blows in the endless caverns that run deep into the earth. It’s a moaning wind that lures unsuspecting people to their doom.
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“They say her cries can be heard throughout the canyons and caves of the mountain. The place is cursed. At dusk, the evil of the place begins to reveal itself. You can hear it on the wind that blows in the endless caverns that run deep into the earth. It’s a moaning wind that lures unsuspecting people to their doom.
   
 
I grabbed my kit-bag and withdrew the black stone with the carving on it. I presented it to Tommy.
 
I grabbed my kit-bag and withdrew the black stone with the carving on it. I presented it to Tommy.
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“It’s very strange.”
 
“It’s very strange.”
   
Shortly afterwards we docked at a fishermans wharf just outside Cooktown. I booked a room at a nearby inn. Peaslee would stay with the ship. During the day we would go into town and stock up on supplies.
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Shortly afterwards, we docked at a fisherman's wharf just outside Cooktown. I booked a room at a nearby inn. Peaslee would stay with the ship. During the day we would go into town and stock up on supplies.
   
While I was chatting with the innkeeper I noticed movement in my peripheral vision. A person sitting on a bench directly across the inn. Underneath a street lamp was an elderly tribal man. He had a very distinct look that is seared into my memory. He had winter white hair and a beard that was long and unkempt. He was wearing a dusty old suit which seemed to be slightly frayed.
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While I was chatting with the innkeeper I noticed movement in my peripheral vision. A person sitting on a bench directly across the inn. Underneath, a street lamp was an elderly tribal man. He had a very distinct look that is seared into my memory. He had winter white hair and a beard that was long and unkempt. He was wearing a dusty old suit which seemed to be slightly frayed.
   
 
I think the most unsettling thing about him was his gaze. I wrote him off as a drunkard before checking in. Before departing to my room I took one more glance at the old man only to see that he was gone. Little did I know that this was a sign of things to come.
 
I think the most unsettling thing about him was his gaze. I wrote him off as a drunkard before checking in. Before departing to my room I took one more glance at the old man only to see that he was gone. Little did I know that this was a sign of things to come.
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The tribal elder stopped again. I could see his eyes focused on someone behind me. He focused on me again and continued.
 
The tribal elder stopped again. I could see his eyes focused on someone behind me. He focused on me again and continued.
   
“It is a place that demands respect. But the white man has often disregarded the legends. In 1877 a courier was horseback riding searching for a strayed calf, when he, the horse, and calf all disappeared. Several years later a constable was hot on the heels of a wanted man. He was tracking the criminal through the brush at the base of Black Mountain. They both seemingly vanished into thin air. Other trackers followed the trail to a cave entrance but came up empty handed.”
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“It is a place that demands respect. But the white man has often disregarded the legends. In 1877, a courier was horseback riding searching for a strayed calf, when he, the horse, and calf all disappeared. Several years later a constable was hot on the heels of a wanted man. He was tracking the criminal through the brush at the base of Black Mountain. They both seemingly vanished into thin air. Other trackers followed the trail to a cave entrance but came up empty-handed.”
   
 
Despite the unrelenting heat I could feel a chill coarse through my body. Like someone walked over my grave. The tribal elder saw me shiver. A grim look formed on his face.
 
Despite the unrelenting heat I could feel a chill coarse through my body. Like someone walked over my grave. The tribal elder saw me shiver. A grim look formed on his face.
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Excerpts from “A Doomed Expedition”.
 
Excerpts from “A Doomed Expedition”.
   
...in 1850 a French explorer, Axel Guillaumot, set out to explore Black Mountain. The expedition consisted of four other Europeans, two Aboriginal guides and seven horses. They were never seen or heard from again. Only the remains of one the guides was discovered. Their camp was found at the base of the mountain. It is believed they perished on the mountain. Subsequent search parties turned up nothing...
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''...in 1850 a French explorer, Axel Guillaumot, set out to explore Black Mountain. The expedition consisted of four other Europeans, two Aboriginal guides and seven horses. They were never seen or heard from again. Only the remains of one of the guides was discovered. Their camp was found at the base of the mountain. It is believed they perished on the mountain. Subsequent search parties turned up nothing...''
   
 
There are photographs of each member of the expedition. The photographs were taken at a local church in Cooktown. One photograph in particular has put a strain on my nerves. It is of one of the guides. An old man with a head of white hair and a great beard. He was wearing a dark frock coat over light trousers and low-heel shoes.
 
There are photographs of each member of the expedition. The photographs were taken at a local church in Cooktown. One photograph in particular has put a strain on my nerves. It is of one of the guides. An old man with a head of white hair and a great beard. He was wearing a dark frock coat over light trousers and low-heel shoes.
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Clifford Bombat.
 
Clifford Bombat.
   
...not much is known of his youth, but his skills in tracking and knowledge of Aboriginal languages suggest a traditional upbringing. His skills in horseriding and marksmanship indicated extensive contact with colonial culture.
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''...not much is known of his youth, but his skills in tracking and knowledge of Aboriginal languages suggest a traditional upbringing. His skills in horseriding and marksmanship indicated extensive contact with colonial culture.''
   
He was serving as a native assistant in the police force at Cooktown where his tasks were to assist in the tracking of escaped convicts who were wanted by the authorities.
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''He was serving as a native assistant in the police force at Cooktown where his tasks were to assist in the tracking of escaped convicts who were wanted by the authorities.''
   
He had a reputation as a superb tracker and a reliable and useful member of any travelling party.
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''He had a reputation as a superb tracker and a reliable and useful member of any travelling party.''
   
The mutilated remains of Clifford Bombat was discovered on the outskirts of their camp. Possible animal attack. The most significant wound was done to his head...
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''The mutilated remains of Clifford Bombat was discovered on the outskirts of their camp. Possible animal attack. The most significant wound was done to his head...''
   
 
 
   
The trek through the forest of eucalyptus trees was long and arduous. A thick fog bank swallowed the landscape. It suffocated the environment in it’s omnipresence. The looming mountain was a ghostly silhouette in the thick white veil.
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The trek through the forest of eucalyptus trees was long and arduous. A thick fog bank swallowed the landscape. It suffocated the environment in its omnipresence. The looming mountain was a ghostly silhouette in the thick white veil.
   
Fortunately we were not far from the base of the mountain when the worst of it arrived. Maybe it was my imagination but I could have sworn I saw a spectral shape moving in the fog. A feeling of dread began to squeeze my heart.
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Fortunately, we were not far from the base of the mountain when the worst of it arrived. Maybe it was my imagination but I could have sworn I saw a spectral shape moving in the fog. A feeling of dread began to squeeze my heart.
   
“I don’t think we’re alone” I whispered to Tommy.
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“I don’t think we’re alone,” I whispered to Tommy.
   
 
“I know.”
 
“I know.”
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“There are huge pythons that live in the mountain. Big enough to swallow a fully grown kangaroo.”
 
“There are huge pythons that live in the mountain. Big enough to swallow a fully grown kangaroo.”
   
Me and Tommy setup camp in a small clearing surrounded by tall grass. We would wait for the fog to dissipate before moving on. In the meantime we examined my grandfathers maps.
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Tommy and I setup camp in a small clearing surrounded by tall grass. We would wait for the fog to dissipate before moving on. In the meantime, we examined my grandfather's maps.
   
 
It was unusually quiet. The surrounding area was completely mute save for the sound of a gentle breeze. I cannot help but feel eyes on both of us.
 
It was unusually quiet. The surrounding area was completely mute save for the sound of a gentle breeze. I cannot help but feel eyes on both of us.
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In a dream I was standing in a dark hallway at night. My grandfathers home in Poland. At the end of the hall was a door that was partially open. A dim orange light seeped through the minute openings. I approached the door with great trepidation in my heart. I summoned whatever courage I had and nudged the door open. A slow painful creak sounded as the door gently swung open. It was my grandfathers study.
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In a dream, I was standing in a dark hallway at night. My grandfather's home in Poland. At the end of the hall was a door that was partially open. A dim orange light seeped through the minute openings. I approached the door with great trepidation in my heart. I summoned whatever courage I had and nudged the door open. A slow painful creak sounded as the door gently swung open. It was my grandfather's study.
   
 
A lone figure stood at the desk. It was my grandfather. A look of sorrow and regret was etched on his face. He reached into the desk and withdrew the black stone. He held it in a hand extending his arm towards me.
 
A lone figure stood at the desk. It was my grandfather. A look of sorrow and regret was etched on his face. He reached into the desk and withdrew the black stone. He held it in a hand extending his arm towards me.
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His lips were moving as though he was speaking. But no words came out.
 
His lips were moving as though he was speaking. But no words came out.
   
Something materialized behind my grandfather. An apparition. It was Clifford Bombat. His gaze was piercing my soul. Then something happened. His form began to change. He fell to the floor as a thrashing mass of shadows.
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Something materialized behind my grandfather. An apparition. It was Clifford Bombat. His gaze was piercing my soul. Then something happened. His form began to change. He fell to the floor as a thrashing mass of shadows.
   
A giant cat emerged from the dark. It’s coat was inky black that refused to reflect any light. The beast was unlike any cat species I was familiar with. I could say it’s sleek body shape was similar to that of a cheetah. But it’s head was shaped like that of a jaguar with powerful jaws.
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A giant cat emerged from the dark. Its coat was inky black that refused to reflect any light. The beast was unlike any cat species I was familiar with. I could say its sleek body shape was similar to that of a cheetah. But its head was shaped like that of a jaguar with powerful jaws.
   
I think it’s eyes were the worst.
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I think its eyes were the worst.
   
 
Both pupils were completely dilated. They were both ringed by luminescent irises that gave off a white light. They reminded me of a solar eclipse at totality.
 
Both pupils were completely dilated. They were both ringed by luminescent irises that gave off a white light. They reminded me of a solar eclipse at totality.
   
It bared it’s teeth revealing rows of sharp teeth that dripped with saliva. A low rumbling growl sounded from its throat. It’s jaws unhinged and something erupted from its maw. Serpent. Tentacle. It was a muscular appendage that extruded towards me. It was the cats esophagus and stomach turned inside out. At the end of the gut-sack was a bony lance of sorts. It punctured my skull and I collapsed to the floor. Several smaller tendrils emerged from the beasts throat and lashed out towards me. They entered the bleeding gash in my skull and began to pry it open.
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It bared its teeth revealing rows of sharp teeth that dripped with saliva. A low rumbling growl sounded from its throat. Its jaws unhinged and something erupted from its maw. Serpent. Tentacle. It was a muscular appendage that extruded towards me. It was the cats esophagus and stomach turned inside out. At the end of the gut-sack was a bony lance of sorts. It punctured my skull and I collapsed to the floor. Several smaller tendrils emerged from the beasts throat and lashed out towards me. They entered the bleeding gash in my skull and began to pry it open.
   
 
The room went black.
 
The room went black.
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It was a tough scramble up the mound of gigantic black boulders that formed Black Mountain. We had the benefit of my grandfathers maps that showed us the path to take. He was very meticulous about detailing the location.
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It was a tough scramble up the mound of gigantic black boulders that formed Black Mountain. We had the benefit of my grandfather's maps that showed us the path to take. He was very meticulous about detailing the location.
   
The cave entrance was on the summit of the mountain. In order to access it we had to get down on our bellys and push all the air out of our lungs in order to squeeze through a narrow gap. Once we got through the squeeze we were able stand upright.
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The cave entrance was on the summit of the mountain. In order to access it, we had to get down on our bellies and push all the air out of our lungs in order to squeeze through a narrow gap. Once we got through the squeeze we were able stand upright.
   
Next was a downwards sloping tunnel. The sunlight lessened in here so we readied our electric torches. The further we traversed the tunnel the darker it became. At the end of passage was a drop straight down. Tommy grabbed climbing ropes from his rucksack and secured them which would allow to climb down the shaft.
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Next was a downwards sloping tunnel. The sunlight lessened in here so we readied our electric torches. The further we traversed the tunnel the darker it became. At the end of passage was a drop straight down. Tommy grabbed climbing ropes from his rucksack and secured them which would allow us to climb down the shaft.
   
 
And then it happened.
 
And then it happened.
   
Heavy footfalls sounded behind us. A black silhouette knocked Tommy face first against the cavern wall. In the light from my electric torch a massive feline was revealed. It swiped it’s claws at me just inches from my midsection. I could see pure animal rage in it’s eyes. It let out a ear deafening roar that rippled through the passage.
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Heavy footfalls sounded behind us. A black silhouette knocked Tommy face-first against the cavern wall. In the light from my electric torch a massive feline was revealed. It swiped its claws at me just inches from my midsection. I could see pure animal rage in its eyes. It let out a ear-deafening roar that rippled through the passage.
   
 
It was the phantom cat from my dream.
 
It was the phantom cat from my dream.
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But this was no dream. This was real.
 
But this was no dream. This was real.
   
In a desperate panic I withdrew the pistol from my kit-bag and fired several times at the beast. The tunnel lit up from each shot. The deafening rounds punched holes into it’s hide. The cat didn’t even flinch.
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In a desperate panic, I withdrew the pistol from my kit-bag and fired several times at the beast. The tunnel lit up from each shot. The deafening rounds punched holes into its hide. The cat didn’t even flinch.
   
A guttural rumble sounded from deep within it’s throat.
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A guttural rumble sounded from deep within its throat.
   
The cat opened it’s mouth showing off rows of razor sharp teeth. A muscular and flexible protuberance emerged from it’s throat. Just like in my dream. It was the animals stomach and esophagus turned inside out and repurposed into into a tentacle of sorts. A bony claw protruded from the very tip of the tentacle.
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The cat opened its mouth showing off rows of razor sharp teeth. A muscular and flexible protuberance emerged from its throat. Just like in my dream. It was the animal's stomach and esophagus turning inside out and repurposed into into a tentacle of sorts. A bony claw protruded from the very tip of the tentacle.
   
 
The tentacle reeled back like a snake getting ready to strike. It launched towards me and struck the ground just inches from my feet. It did this several times forcing me backward each time. I kept backing up in complete and utter terror until I found myself falling.
 
The tentacle reeled back like a snake getting ready to strike. It launched towards me and struck the ground just inches from my feet. It did this several times forcing me backward each time. I kept backing up in complete and utter terror until I found myself falling.
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I cried out.
 
I cried out.
   
Fight or flight kicked took over.
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Fight or flight kicked in and took over.
   
I painfully retreated into the dark passage behind me. My heart noisily beat against my rib cage. My lungs felt like there was fire in them.
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I painfully retreated into the dark passage behind me. My heart noisily beat against my rib cage. My lungs felt like there were fire on them.
   
 
I came to a complete stop at the end of the passage. My mind was trying to process everything that happened.
 
I came to a complete stop at the end of the passage. My mind was trying to process everything that happened.
   
Primordial masonry stood in front of me. A wall composed of cyclopean stones. Perhaps it was a structure built by the ancients. It had to be.
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Primordial masonry stood in front of me. A wall composed of cyclopean stones. Perhaps, it was a structure built by the ancients. It had to be.
   
 
Oddly enough a single block was missing. It was a way through. I squeezed my way through silently praying that the whole thing would not collapse onto me.
 
Oddly enough a single block was missing. It was a way through. I squeezed my way through silently praying that the whole thing would not collapse onto me.
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A massive creature slithered towards me. A cylindrical limbless body moved into my light. Glistening scales. An arrow shaped head. Two yellow eyes fixed on me. A large fanged mouth.
 
A massive creature slithered towards me. A cylindrical limbless body moved into my light. Glistening scales. An arrow shaped head. Two yellow eyes fixed on me. A large fanged mouth.
   
A giant python was moving towards me with predatory intent. I raised the pistol and fired twice into it’s head putting it down instantly. The recoil of the pistol started making my hands feel numb.
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A giant python was moving towards me with predatory intent. I raised the pistol and fired twice into its head putting it down instantly. The recoil of the pistol started making my hands feel numb.
   
I instinctively turned around and saw a shadow figure standing back at the cyclopean wall. I shakily pointed the pistol and torch at the apparition. To my dismay the shape seemingly ate the light. It was darker than blackness. It didn’t strike. It just stood there staring at me with creeping brutality.
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I instinctively turned around and saw a shadow figure standing back at the cyclopean wall. I shakily pointed the pistol and torch at the apparition. To my dismay, the shape seemingly ate the light. It was darker than blackness. It didn’t strike. It just stood there staring at me with creeping brutality.
   
 
I started singing a lullaby to myself.
 
I started singing a lullaby to myself.
   
“...when the blazing sun is gone, when he nothing shines upon. Then you show your little light. Twinkle, twinkle, all the night...
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“...when the blazing sun is gone, when he nothing shines upon. Then you show your little light. Twinkle, twinkle, all the night...
   
 
By this point I was on the other side of madness. A descent to the inferno.
 
By this point I was on the other side of madness. A descent to the inferno.
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“...then the traveler in the dark thanks you for your tiny spark. How could he see where to go, if you did not twinkle so?”
 
“...then the traveler in the dark thanks you for your tiny spark. How could he see where to go, if you did not twinkle so?”
   
Tears welled up in my eyes. My heart was overworking itself now. In the dead silence of the nameless ruins I could hear hells churn in my ears.
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Tears welled up in my eyes. My heart was overworking itself now. In the dead silence of the nameless ruins I could hear hell's churn in my ears.
   
 
My breath was stolen.
 
My breath was stolen.
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A curious altar between the first two monoliths caught my attention. Dark stains discoloured the top with rivulets on the sides.
 
A curious altar between the first two monoliths caught my attention. Dark stains discoloured the top with rivulets on the sides.
   
Movement behind me. I turned around only to come face to face with my grandfather.
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Movement behind me. I turned around only to come face-to-face with my grandfather.
   
 
I found myself being lifted up off the ground. I kicked and thrashed helplessly. Next I found myself being flung towards the altar.
 
I found myself being lifted up off the ground. I kicked and thrashed helplessly. Next I found myself being flung towards the altar.
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I remember flashes of consciousness. Dark passages and cave tunnels. The sensation of being dragged. And a voice. Tommy’s voice.
 
I remember flashes of consciousness. Dark passages and cave tunnels. The sensation of being dragged. And a voice. Tommy’s voice.
   
“You’re going to be OK mate! Just a little further!”
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“You’re going to be OK, mate! Just a little further!”
   
 
I looked up and saw Tommy’s face. But there was something different about him. His eyes. They reminded me of a total solar eclipse.
 
I looked up and saw Tommy’s face. But there was something different about him. His eyes. They reminded me of a total solar eclipse.
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I know the truth about Black Mountain. I know about the dark and forbidden secrets that are hidden within. I put things right and reestablished balance. I think I have been forgiven.
 
I know the truth about Black Mountain. I know about the dark and forbidden secrets that are hidden within. I put things right and reestablished balance. I think I have been forgiven.
   
However, the mountain of death, the place of the spear, will forever remain in my dreams.
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However, the Mountain of Death, the place of the spear, will forever remain in my dreams.
   
- Celephais1985
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{{by-user|Celephais1985}}
   
 
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Revision as of 18:49, October 22, 2019

The statement of Aleksander Rybnik.

March 15th, 1937

It wasn’t about fame or fortune. It wasn’t about making history or to stand on the shoulders of giants. It was about knowledge and truth. I needed to know what happened to my grandfather. I needed to know what he discovered. I needed to see what he saw with his own eyes and come to an understanding.

The mundanity and pointlessness of life finally sent me on my way. My friend, Captain Peaslee, would take me on my quest. We travelled the ocean on the captain's fishing trawler the Southern Crux. We were to make landfall at Cooktown, a coastal town in the Shire of Cook, Queensland, Australia.

Before he died, my grandfather was a university lecturer who taught archaeology. I followed in his footsteps.

In his will, he left me a key to a safety deposit box at his bank. To my surprise, the box contained several books on the occult and mysticism and numerous maps. But the most significant items in the box were a pair of sketches and a curious black stone with a face of sorts carved on it.

In my grandfather's letter, he stated that the drawings were inspired by strange dreams that had been plaguing him.

I examined the sketches. A subterranean cavern of immense height was meticulously drawn on paper with black pencil. The centrepiece of this sketch were two rows of standing stones that ran parallel to one another. They were built from massive cyclopean rocks that were stacked in such a way that was reminiscent of Stonehenge. The image evoked fleeting thoughts of eldritch terror.

Written on the backside of the drawing:

“The gateway to the other side resides within the mountain.”

The second drawing was even more bizarre. I got the distinct impression that it was a cold and arid desert at night. The ground was fissured and littered with fields of mummified human remains. The focus of this image, however, was that of an enormous plateau which stood menacingly. On the surface of the plateau was also a collection of standing stones similar to the first. An indistinct shape stood on the edge of the plateau. An animal, I think.

Written on the opposite side of the paper was a message:

“The fabled Plateau of Leng. Each and every single one of us will face this. It is inevitable.”

The stone-carving came from a time when we knew very little and feared the primal world. A modern mind would find it difficult to visualize the world through the eyes of ancient man. The face on the stone, however, instilled an instinctive fear of the dark.

My destination was a site held sacred by Australian Aborigines where humans feel unwanted. Where they vanish without trace. A place that is rugged and foreboding. Clouded in mystery and immersed in superstition. Black Mountain. Aboriginals refer to it as the Mountain of Death. Tunnels and caves honeycomb the area. The only living things on the mountain are giant spiders, pythons and taipans.

Thousand upon thousands of gigantic boulders strewn across the landscape make up the mountain. A treacherous barren waste. Scientists have offered theories behind the origin of this peculiar mountain; a volcanic eruption, an upheaval during the ice age, an asteroid impact site. But none of these possibilities seem satisfactory.

I stood at the bow of the ship gazing at the continent that loomed on the horizon. My guide, Tommy, approached.

“I think you’re mad as a bag of ferrets.”

“Tell me a tale,” I said.

Tommy leaned on the railing next to me.

“My people have many beliefs on how the mountain came to be.”

“Go on,” I said as I withdrew a pack of cigarettes from my shirt pocket. I offered Tommy a cigarette, he declined. I lit up as he began.

“One such legend says, in the dreaming, the time when legends were born, there was a beautiful young woman whose skin shined like obsidian. Two brothers were smitten by the woman. Both were determined to win her heart.”

Our attention was directed upwards towards the heavens. A faint ghostly band of red light materialized in the predawn sky directly above us. It was the Aurora Australis, the so-called Southern Lights.

Tommy continued sharing his tale.

“To settle their differences each brother set out to build a mountain of boulders. The brother with the highest mound would take the woman. Day after day, the brothers worked. Their piles of boulders grew taller and taller.”

Tommy paused and focused on the Aurora. The glowing ribbons of red light spread across the dark sky as it brightened with intensity. The rippling lights continued to dance across the backdrop of luminous stars.

“Before the contest could be decided, a wild storm descended on the land. Boulders tumbled down and crushed both brothers. The woman died, too.”

“Do you believe it’s haunted?”

“They say her cries can be heard throughout the canyons and caves of the mountain. The place is cursed. At dusk, the evil of the place begins to reveal itself. You can hear it on the wind that blows in the endless caverns that run deep into the earth. It’s a moaning wind that lures unsuspecting people to their doom.”

I grabbed my kit-bag and withdrew the black stone with the carving on it. I presented it to Tommy.

“My grandfather found this in the mountain. Does it look familiar to you?”

Tommy stared at the stone a good while. He traced a finger over the lines that formed the face.

“No. This does not resemble anything that I’ve ever seen. You say he found it in the mountain?”

“Yes. In a subterranean chamber.”

“It’s very strange.”

Shortly afterwards, we docked at a fisherman's wharf just outside Cooktown. I booked a room at a nearby inn. Peaslee would stay with the ship. During the day we would go into town and stock up on supplies.

While I was chatting with the innkeeper I noticed movement in my peripheral vision. A person sitting on a bench directly across the inn. Underneath, a street lamp was an elderly tribal man. He had a very distinct look that is seared into my memory. He had winter white hair and a beard that was long and unkempt. He was wearing a dusty old suit which seemed to be slightly frayed.

I think the most unsettling thing about him was his gaze. I wrote him off as a drunkard before checking in. Before departing to my room I took one more glance at the old man only to see that he was gone. Little did I know that this was a sign of things to come.

After a long voyage sleep came easily.

The following day I sat down with one of the tribal elders at a local pub. I enjoyed a pleasant conversation over drink and food. He explained a belief among his people in the area. The tribal elder began telling me some of the beliefs of his people.

“The mountain is of important significance to the tribe. Kalkajaka is what we call it. The place of spears.”

The tribal elder paused to take a sip of his drink. His eyes scanned the room. He seemed suspicious of something.

“The mountain originated in the dream time with an evil medicine man who convened with wicked spirits from beyond. A young chief confronted him about this and was murdered by the medicine man.”

He leaned in and lowered his voice.

“It didn’t stop there. The cruel medicine man went on to devour the flesh of the chief and drank his blood. The tribe became aware of this and chased the man out with burning vengeance in their hearts. He fled into the mountain where he was then struck by a cleansing bolt of lightning. His body exploded and in turn charred the surrounding rocks.”

The tribal elder stopped again. I could see his eyes focused on someone behind me. He focused on me again and continued.

“It is a place that demands respect. But the white man has often disregarded the legends. In 1877, a courier was horseback riding searching for a strayed calf, when he, the horse, and calf all disappeared. Several years later a constable was hot on the heels of a wanted man. He was tracking the criminal through the brush at the base of Black Mountain. They both seemingly vanished into thin air. Other trackers followed the trail to a cave entrance but came up empty-handed.”

Despite the unrelenting heat I could feel a chill coarse through my body. Like someone walked over my grave. The tribal elder saw me shiver. A grim look formed on his face.

“The disappearances have occurred ever since. Nearby cattle ranchers and their herds have gone without trace, gold prospectors and cave explorers have all inexplicably disappeared into the ether. Human remains have been found in the vicinity of the mountain. Their bodies cut to ribbons. But the most shocking thing about these grisly finds is that each of the individuals have had their skulls cracked open and their brains removed. Possibly devoured.”

The tribal elder paused when he saw the colour drain from my face. My grandfather was killed by someone in a very similar fashion while he was seeking treatment in Canberra.

“There are many predatory animals in Australia but none of them are known to have these particular habits. Rumours of a killer stalking the countryside run rampant. The police have been working overtime on this.”

My heart sank into my stomach.

“What about the phantom cat I’ve heard about?”

The tribal elder took another a long sip from his drink before continuing.

“There have been rumblings of a large mysterious black cat that has been sighted on the mountain. Maybe it’s a surviving relative of Thylacoleo carnifex which was once Australia’s largest Marsupial carnivore. This is an especially curious claim because there are no terrestrial cats on the continent. Domestic cats were introduced by colonists in 1804. And there are large wild cats that live in public zoos in the capital city. But none that live in the wilderness.”

Another pause between the two of us. We were both scanning the room. I think I could confidently say we both felt like something was wrong.

A shift in the conversation.

I showed the black stone to the tribal elder as well as the drawings created by my grandfather. He examined each one carefully and shook his head. A look of worry formed on his face.

“How did your grandfather die?” the tribal elder asked.

“He was murdered.”

“My condolences to you. May I ask how he was before he died?”

“He looked like a man who was pursued. He was always looking over his shoulder. He shut himself away from the world.”

The tribal elder let out a sigh.

“Maybe he saw things he shouldn’t have. Maybe he took things he shouldn’t have touched.”

There was a long silence between the two of us as we looked down at our drinks. We were both pondering things. I happened to glance up and briefly caught sight of an old tribal man with a striking white beard and wild hair. He was dressed in a disheveled suit that looked like it came from another period. He was fixated on me. He slowly raised a hand and pointed a finger directly at me.

I blinked. The man was gone.

The tribal elder broke the silence.

“Maybe it would be best to return the stone to its rightful place.”

I spent some time at the library.

I’m not sure what to make of this.

Excerpts from “A Doomed Expedition”.

...in 1850 a French explorer, Axel Guillaumot, set out to explore Black Mountain. The expedition consisted of four other Europeans, two Aboriginal guides and seven horses. They were never seen or heard from again. Only the remains of one of the guides was discovered. Their camp was found at the base of the mountain. It is believed they perished on the mountain. Subsequent search parties turned up nothing...

There are photographs of each member of the expedition. The photographs were taken at a local church in Cooktown. One photograph in particular has put a strain on my nerves. It is of one of the guides. An old man with a head of white hair and a great beard. He was wearing a dark frock coat over light trousers and low-heel shoes.

The name under the photograph.

Clifford Bombat.

...not much is known of his youth, but his skills in tracking and knowledge of Aboriginal languages suggest a traditional upbringing. His skills in horseriding and marksmanship indicated extensive contact with colonial culture.

He was serving as a native assistant in the police force at Cooktown where his tasks were to assist in the tracking of escaped convicts who were wanted by the authorities.

He had a reputation as a superb tracker and a reliable and useful member of any travelling party.

The mutilated remains of Clifford Bombat was discovered on the outskirts of their camp. Possible animal attack. The most significant wound was done to his head...

The trek through the forest of eucalyptus trees was long and arduous. A thick fog bank swallowed the landscape. It suffocated the environment in its omnipresence. The looming mountain was a ghostly silhouette in the thick white veil.

Fortunately, we were not far from the base of the mountain when the worst of it arrived. Maybe it was my imagination but I could have sworn I saw a spectral shape moving in the fog. A feeling of dread began to squeeze my heart.

“I don’t think we’re alone,” I whispered to Tommy.

“I know.”

Tommy reached into his rucksack and withdrew a M1911 pistol. He looked at me.

“You know how to use firearms?”

I nodded.

Tommy handed the gun over to me and withdrew a second handgun. He stuck it in his belt.

“There are huge pythons that live in the mountain. Big enough to swallow a fully grown kangaroo.”

Tommy and I setup camp in a small clearing surrounded by tall grass. We would wait for the fog to dissipate before moving on. In the meantime, we examined my grandfather's maps.

It was unusually quiet. The surrounding area was completely mute save for the sound of a gentle breeze. I cannot help but feel eyes on both of us.

In a dream, I was standing in a dark hallway at night. My grandfather's home in Poland. At the end of the hall was a door that was partially open. A dim orange light seeped through the minute openings. I approached the door with great trepidation in my heart. I summoned whatever courage I had and nudged the door open. A slow painful creak sounded as the door gently swung open. It was my grandfather's study.

A lone figure stood at the desk. It was my grandfather. A look of sorrow and regret was etched on his face. He reached into the desk and withdrew the black stone. He held it in a hand extending his arm towards me.

His lips were moving as though he was speaking. But no words came out.

Something materialized behind my grandfather. An apparition. It was Clifford Bombat. His gaze was piercing my soul. Then something happened. His form began to change. He fell to the floor as a thrashing mass of shadows.

A giant cat emerged from the dark. Its coat was inky black that refused to reflect any light. The beast was unlike any cat species I was familiar with. I could say its sleek body shape was similar to that of a cheetah. But its head was shaped like that of a jaguar with powerful jaws.

I think its eyes were the worst.

Both pupils were completely dilated. They were both ringed by luminescent irises that gave off a white light. They reminded me of a solar eclipse at totality.

It bared its teeth revealing rows of sharp teeth that dripped with saliva. A low rumbling growl sounded from its throat. Its jaws unhinged and something erupted from its maw. Serpent. Tentacle. It was a muscular appendage that extruded towards me. It was the cats esophagus and stomach turned inside out. At the end of the gut-sack was a bony lance of sorts. It punctured my skull and I collapsed to the floor. Several smaller tendrils emerged from the beasts throat and lashed out towards me. They entered the bleeding gash in my skull and began to pry it open.

The room went black.

I awoke to a late night thunderstorm. I was gripping the stone with a face carved onto it.

It was a tough scramble up the mound of gigantic black boulders that formed Black Mountain. We had the benefit of my grandfather's maps that showed us the path to take. He was very meticulous about detailing the location.

The cave entrance was on the summit of the mountain. In order to access it, we had to get down on our bellies and push all the air out of our lungs in order to squeeze through a narrow gap. Once we got through the squeeze we were able stand upright.

Next was a downwards sloping tunnel. The sunlight lessened in here so we readied our electric torches. The further we traversed the tunnel the darker it became. At the end of passage was a drop straight down. Tommy grabbed climbing ropes from his rucksack and secured them which would allow us to climb down the shaft.

And then it happened.

Heavy footfalls sounded behind us. A black silhouette knocked Tommy face-first against the cavern wall. In the light from my electric torch a massive feline was revealed. It swiped its claws at me just inches from my midsection. I could see pure animal rage in its eyes. It let out a ear-deafening roar that rippled through the passage.

It was the phantom cat from my dream.

But this was no dream. This was real.

In a desperate panic, I withdrew the pistol from my kit-bag and fired several times at the beast. The tunnel lit up from each shot. The deafening rounds punched holes into its hide. The cat didn’t even flinch.

A guttural rumble sounded from deep within its throat.

The cat opened its mouth showing off rows of razor sharp teeth. A muscular and flexible protuberance emerged from its throat. Just like in my dream. It was the animal's stomach and esophagus turning inside out and repurposed into into a tentacle of sorts. A bony claw protruded from the very tip of the tentacle.

The tentacle reeled back like a snake getting ready to strike. It launched towards me and struck the ground just inches from my feet. It did this several times forcing me backward each time. I kept backing up in complete and utter terror until I found myself falling.

Darkness.

When I came to I found myself at the bottom of the shaft. I was in a state of shock.

Agony. Despair. Horror.

I detected movement coming from up above me. I grabbed my electric torch which survived the fall and shined it upwards. A face was peering down at me.

My grandfather.

I cried out.

Fight or flight kicked in and took over.

I painfully retreated into the dark passage behind me. My heart noisily beat against my rib cage. My lungs felt like there were fire on them.

I came to a complete stop at the end of the passage. My mind was trying to process everything that happened.

Primordial masonry stood in front of me. A wall composed of cyclopean stones. Perhaps, it was a structure built by the ancients. It had to be.

Oddly enough a single block was missing. It was a way through. I squeezed my way through silently praying that the whole thing would not collapse onto me.

I clumsily emerged into a chamber beyond the cyclopean wall. Spikes of pain shot through my back reminding me of my great fall. I gasped in pain.

My gasp had drawn the attention of something. Something big. Something hungry. The sound of something dragging through the loose rocks on the chamber floor.

A massive creature slithered towards me. A cylindrical limbless body moved into my light. Glistening scales. An arrow shaped head. Two yellow eyes fixed on me. A large fanged mouth.

A giant python was moving towards me with predatory intent. I raised the pistol and fired twice into its head putting it down instantly. The recoil of the pistol started making my hands feel numb.

I instinctively turned around and saw a shadow figure standing back at the cyclopean wall. I shakily pointed the pistol and torch at the apparition. To my dismay, the shape seemingly ate the light. It was darker than blackness. It didn’t strike. It just stood there staring at me with creeping brutality.

I started singing a lullaby to myself.

“...when the blazing sun is gone, when he nothing shines upon. Then you show your little light. Twinkle, twinkle, all the night...”

By this point I was on the other side of madness. A descent to the inferno.

“...then the traveler in the dark thanks you for your tiny spark. How could he see where to go, if you did not twinkle so?”

Tears welled up in my eyes. My heart was overworking itself now. In the dead silence of the nameless ruins I could hear hell's churn in my ears.

My breath was stolen.

I fled.

After ploughing through an untold distance of stygian depths I found myself standing in an enormous cavern. The limits of the chamber was farther away than any eye could see. The inky darkness proved impenetrable from my flimsy torch.

I halted my mad dash.

It was freezing cold down here. A stark contrast to the surface climate. I could see vapours of my breath in the light. My teeth began to chatter as I started to shiver.

A twilit mist began to slowly drift up from the cavern floor.

Two rows of gigantic standing stones towered over me. It was a prehistoric monument of nebulous origin. It was much larger than Stonehenge. These were the ruins my grandfather sketched on paper.

I gazed up at the monoliths. Each of them had unidentifiable glyphs etched onto them. What they were supposed to represent remains unknown. Horrible suggestions and primordial fear is what came to mind.

A curious altar between the first two monoliths caught my attention. Dark stains discoloured the top with rivulets on the sides.

Movement behind me. I turned around only to come face-to-face with my grandfather.

I found myself being lifted up off the ground. I kicked and thrashed helplessly. Next I found myself being flung towards the altar.

I landed on my back having the wind knocked out of me a second time. I groggily got up and saw my grandfather pointing at me.

By now the twilit mist became waist high and the temperature in the cavern continued to drop. I realized my grandfather wasn’t pointing at me, but at the altar behind me.

I knew what had to be done.

I nervously reached a hand into my kit-bag and pulled out the black stone with a face carved onto it. I gently placed the rock onto the altar. I felt an electrical sensation travel throughout my body. There was a smell in the air like that of a thunderstorm. The mist started to dissipate and the temperature began to warm up.

A loud eruption startled me.

Everything went black.

I remember flashes of consciousness. Dark passages and cave tunnels. The sensation of being dragged. And a voice. Tommy’s voice.

“You’re going to be OK, mate! Just a little further!”

I looked up and saw Tommy’s face. But there was something different about him. His eyes. They reminded me of a total solar eclipse.

I faded out.

When I finally came to, I found myself in the Cooktown hospital.

I know the truth about Black Mountain. I know about the dark and forbidden secrets that are hidden within. I put things right and reestablished balance. I think I have been forgiven.

However, the Mountain of Death, the place of the spear, will forever remain in my dreams.



Written by Celephais1985
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