It was when I gazed upon that accursed statue that I realized that the universe laid bare was too much to handle. That deer-skulled thing atop the time-rotted plinth was my zenith-discovery; an artefact of immense potential that despite its potential opulence, rasped deeply at my soul. Now, I can only pray that those who hear my plight see me not as a gibbering madman, so that I may tell of the horrors we found in that accursed forest.

At one point in time, although now it feels like an eternity ago, I was an archaeologist. In particular my work surrounded the ineffably ancient civilizations that were buried below Gimney-Thoren. I was one of the first renowned excavators to search for artefacts below Gimney, knowing well that the prideful scholars who refused would be humiliated when I uncovered the discovery of a lifetime. I did, ultimately, uncover such a discovery; but I hope now that no one will ever be subjected to its contents.

Gimney-Thorn was a quaint little kingdom, located in the dense woodlands of the East. Archaeological discoveries across the territory, particularly peculiar fossils and strange yet half-obliterated pieces of pottery, piqued my interest. Every find would grant me a hefty bounty, and I knew that investing was the only way to make a profit or become known in the community. I was one of the few in my field that knew of these discoveries, as it took some digging to find records on these chronoeroded relics. Those who found them mysteriously emigrated from Gimney, or outright disappeared or committed suicide before they made their findings public. So I had to search libraries for information about the whereabouts of their old digsites.

I knew for certain that they were hasty and sloppy with their work, and that they had almost certainly glossed over a considerable amount of valuable material without being aware. The scientific community in Gimney-Thoren is terribly underfunded and crude; and promise of access to superior equipment and partial credit on my discoveries was all the payment I needed to recruit 3 other likeminded Men.

They were peculiar fellows, native Gimney-Thoren residents, with armor like that of a pangolin, and teuthoideal faces with huge and expressive compound eyes. Still, despite their esoteric biology, they were archaeologists like me. Passionate about their craft, but terribly sullen over their shitty equipment. The Men were eager to put their names on an expedition with proper funding, and technology of genuine quality and intricate construction.

The coordinates of the digsite were difficult to exactly ascertain, but we knew generally of the location from the public records. We interviewed a variety of townsfolk, and all were silent. The suicides and disappearances of those brave scientists left a lingering fear about the neighboring towns. So that all but one Man was mute on the matter.

He was an old hermit, whose face was mangled and his scales worn. He resided in a hamlet at the edge of society, in the most densely wooded area near the digsite. We were directed to him by a few of the townsfolk, who claimed him to be the foreman of the operation before it crumbled.

Despite his fearsome visage, the Hermit was affable and well-spoken. And while he initially denied assisting us, our persistence eventually caused him to cave. He too denied being the foreman of the digging operation; but the majority of my companions believed him to be beguiling us. Alas, I was not interested in personal backstory, only the fossils and artefacts that we may uncover.

We brought with us a variety of equipment for our job. We brought a month’s worth of rations and water, and the gizmos required to create more of this resource. We brought the material to create a small camp, seismographs, chisels, brushes, pickaxes, and a handgun in case of emergency. All strapped firmly to a great draught millipede. The monetary loss of purchasing these tools, especially the animal, was insane. So I planned to harvest the majority of the digsite’s contents so that I may not only pay off my debt but also have excess to spend.

What the Hermit called a “digsite” was terrible overgrown with foliage, and we had to spend the majority of the day’s light chopping and cleaving the floral matter. Initially doubtful, my companions pressured me into trusting the old Hermit. Thankfully, their intuition was impeccable, and upon clearing the field of bramble and shrubs did we find rusted spades and chisels. Terrible crude in their construction, almost makeshift, and which assured me that this expedition was rushed and slapdash.

We elected to delegate the rest of the day to constructing a camp, and on the next day we would begin excavation. I elected to set up my tent centrally, closest to the digsite, so that I may survey it nightly and overhear any ruffling of foliage or trespassing. Our party drifted into slumber almost immediately as night fell; laborious duties were soporific, especially to those generally unfit and rusty.

It was a frigid night, one in which the canopy shrouded us from the light of the triumvirate-moons. Not only was it pitch black, but deafeningly silent. Not a single whimper or bark or howl, not even from the draught millipede; whose lot are said to be especially active in the night. The eccentricities of the night only accented the true horror of my slumber in that murky black abyss. Unnameable things danced across my dreams, abhorrent figures of immense size, great and tentacled with feculent protuberances that rippled as they danced. Cackling, shrieking, those indescribably cacodaemoniacal things sung in my dreams of one word equally ghastly and queer: Cphoonhmpha, Cphoonhmpha, Cphoonhmpha!

I awoke early in the morning, shaken, but ultimately eager to begin my work. My companions soon followed me, and we underwent the first phase of excavation. My dreams, I thought, were the products of homesickness or subconscious fear of an unfamiliar land. And for this reason I did not mention the bizarre nightmares to any of my companions. The first phase of the digging was a slow and arduous process that took the first few hours of the day. It was a careful balance of utilizing heavy machinery and delicate handiwork to shovel loads of dirt. The Hermit’s knowledge on the digsite was commodious; according to him, we would have to dig 3 meters down to find anything of significance. Still, I elected to slow the operation, in the case that the moist loam contained relics still untouched.

By the half-point of the second day we had harrowed to the nadir of the digsite as purported by the Hermit. In the process we had procured a multitude of objects which were of significant age; a terracotta pot, a pendant, and a small fetish formed of some kind of green soapstone. The pot was ravaged, as though it was crushed by some great and heavy force, and depicted upon it were many figures. Each one had sprouted from their cranium a pair of antlers, and they were depicted dancing. The celebrants, strangely enough, despite the clay being mostly eroded, were untouched. Not a chip of paint had fallen off the decals. The loathsome dreamlike figures that partied across that pot were vomitously reminiscent of the same figures that danced across my nightmares. Similar such apprehension, I could infer, afflicted my other companions; all but the Hermit, whom was unconcerned with the finding’s oddities.

The other objects were in comparison, unremarkable. The pendant was rusted to the point of oblivion, and was far from recognizable. Meanwhile the fetish, while damaged by its seemingly fathomless senility, was legible to a certain extent. It was a 3-dimensional sculpture of the same nightmare-dancers whose unspeakable cacklings chilled my bones. Indeed, it was a gaunt thing, that stood tall with its hands clasped against its chest. The head of the structure was entirely destroyed, and one could only assume that it had similar skeletal imagery to the other infernal depictions.

We concluded the day by packaging the artefacts in polyethylene bags, so as to protect them from the inevitable decay that would come from the elemental forces. We covered our digsite with a voluminous tarpaulin sheet as well, so that no irregular weather patterns may destroy any samples. I and my companions were concerned that the age of the specimens would make them exceedingly vulnerable to the forces of entropy; so we elected to hasten our excavations a tad. In the morning, we were to begin true harrowing of the digsite: uncovering everything we possibly could near the surface of the archaeological site so that we may begin deeper probing with our tools at a later date.

On the third day we began the exciting task of true excavation. We sprung from our tents with haste; the morning was young, but our machines told of a rainstorm to come near the late afternoon. It was a crisp day, the trees were a resplendent green and sun’s radiance shined gently through the quilt of fronds that covered the sky. Work was almost instantaneous, I and my companions were exceedingly eager to uncover larger and more intact relics. The Hermit slept in his own tent, observing us with intense care. At times, I wondered what went through his mind, but ultimately I felt that he was both harmless and benevolent.

We uncovered little pertaining or implying the existence of prehistoric sapience or their infrastructure. Instead, we found multiple fossils, peculiar in nature but still standard of those found in Gimney-Thoren. Crustaceans, molluscs, and remnants of cnidarians. Too, did we find a single flint arrowhead, carved of obsidian accented with angular patterns made of ruby. An opulent find, which I pocketed for myself under the notice of my companions. I knew for certain that a find of this caliber is going to be worth a pretty penny; and if I wanted to continue expeditions of this order, I was going to have to bend the rules a bit.

It was by sunset of the 3rd day that the ghastly crypts were detected. My companions had gotten inexcusably hammered at the cusp of night; much to my chagrin. However their foolish loligagging did serve a purpose, as their mindless raving and stompings caused a large patch of soil to crumble. Which exposed an aperture that was seemingly immense in its size, as we could not see the bottom of the pit. The chasm was tar-black, and the void within swallowed all light. I was eager to explore the pit, I believed it to be the discovery I was looking for. It was large, and likely led into mineshafts or perhaps other places of society. The Hermit, on the other hand, was distraught at the find. It became appallingly obvious that he was indeed not mentally sound, and he raved and gibbered throughout the night. He whined and moaned, of a grave mistake and, of how he regretted wholeheartedly something to do with “opening the gate”.

By the start of the 4th day, we had finished installation of a reinforcement scaffolding about the pit, attached climbing rope to the dusty walls of the cavity, and packaged all that would be required for a subterranean expedition. The camp was mostly intact, there was a rough tempest. The rain was torrential, and eventually crystallized into hail near the climax of the storm; and fulgurites of varying sizes littered the area. There was minor destruction of lesser instruments, and the draught millipede was anything but happy, but otherwise no damage of genuine significance was noted. Scarily, the Hermit had vanished. I assumed that the trepidation that primeval hole exuded had driven him off. We searched briefly around our campsite for him, fearing that his departure in the storm could have severely hurt or slaughtered him. But we found no trace of him, and assumed that he succumbed to hypothermia, a fulgur blast, or he had safely returned to his hamlet.

In all honesty, I was more concerned with the guidance that the Hermit gave us and the lack thereof we would have in the chasm. Our archaeological expeditions would be entirely spontaneous from now on. We equipped ourselves with electric torches, and the tools required to unearth specimens, and so we descended downwards.

II. The Nameless Structure

The caverns into which we descended were claustrophobic, and formed in such a manner that they seemed to be carved by some great machine. Indeed, the kaolin bared angular markings and scratchings; much too large to be a product of natural hydroerosion. Embedded within the walls of the chasm were abnormal fossils, fused too fully with the walls to be extracted. In our first step of the operation, photographs of the anomalous were taken and sent to the surface. We hoped to find the end of the cavern by nightfall. Sonar indicated that the cave was large and sprawling, but the exact dimensions and shape of the aperture was improperly delineated.

Most significant among the fossils that we found were those of large conchs, exceedingly ginormous; shell-length and shell-height was about five and 3 meters respectively. We found also nameless creatures, who were about the size of large dinner plates, and seemed to be close relatives of amblypygids. For they resembling modern day genera almost identically with the exception of an extended abdomen with four sets of plumose pleopods. It saddened me deeply that extraction was impossible. The photographs taken did not shed these exotic lifeforms the justice they deserved. Most importantly, they proved that Gimney-Thoren was at one point in its history entirely submerged.

For aeons of written history the oceans of Jhuni have been untouched; for what is beyond our known continent is protected by impassable mountains. Where the mountains stop and where it is guaranteed that ocean is present, the south, is entirely inhabited by the vehemently isolationist insect-empire of Myrmex, whose borders are closed to all but their own residents. These fossils, although scant in their quantity, gave me intense insight into the oceanic history of our world. And while I am certain that we shall never pass the Wintry Mountains, or explore the seas in my lifetime, I am at least assured that I contributed to the effort.

“Come quick! I have discovered something amazing!”

I and the rest of my companions were called into a lesser bifurcation of the cave by one of the straggling geologists of the group. Who had ventured offroad to collect rocky samples, he had discovered a curiously loose formation of crags, and with manipulation he collapsed the strange geolithic amalgamate. Behind that tumbledown boulderheap was something of immense joviality for the entire crew. Something, almost certainly artificial, constructed or built, and ineffably ancient. It was a perfectly circular door, with strange radial markings carved into its uppermost layers. It was carved almost entirely of an extremely durable basalt, so durable in fact that it shattered one of our sledge hammers in a durability test. Ovular protuberances rimmed the portal, and there were about 21 of them; carved onto each was a different symbol, all of which resembled wounds or gashes.

The ringshaped outcropping on which these protuberances were located surrounded the door, and through geosurveying were proven to not be entirely fused to the primary circular apparatus that it encompassed. Thus, we could prove without a shadow of a doubt that this was indeed: a door. I thought for a bit about how to open the damned thing, it was formed of impenetrable stone, so fear of ruining the relic was out of the question. Still, it was likely immeasurably weighty, and there was no space for heavy machinery or beasts of burden in these tight caverns. One of the partymembers was a crude engineer of mechanical components, and attempted to construct a wedge with which to pry the door upwards.

By the conclusion of the 4th day, or so I believed in these sunless caverns, we had finished the fabrication of a contraption capable of lifting the door upwards so that we may be granted access into deeper chambers. It was formed of tough polymers, steels, and hydraulic tubing, and could easily lift 4500lb, the lower estimate of the stone door’s weight. I hoped that this lower estimate was at least partially factual, as we lacked further resources to reinforce the machine.

Much to our amazement, the door was slowly lifted with an agonizing squeal of metal. We knew that the lifting-machine was strong, but we were not aware of its true potential, so I demanded that we reinforced the aperture it had created. At its largest, the hole under the door was a crawlspace, and the door was multiple meters thick. It was a contemptible and slow crawl underneath that thick basalt door. I feared that it would fall back down onto the slimy cavern floors at a moment’s notice; and that I too would become another fossil amidst the silt. I was not going to die until every fucking stone was lifted.

The door led into an enormously expansive grandhall that seemed to roll onwards for an eternity. In architecture, I could only describe it as pseudogothic; sharp and hostile, and formed of greenish basalt that almost resembled melted wax. Indeed, the vast majority of the structure’s ornamentation remained: plinths upon which cephalopodal beings knelt, colossal spikes that ascended from the ground, and a ribbed ceiling. The architecture, icthyic and ashen, matched no other structure I could previously delineate. It seemed too, that this formation was Nameless. No Man had before this point ever stepped foot into these structure; which, now in its extended presence, filled me with a crawling creepiness.

The closer I inspected the walls of the antechamber, the more peculiarities I uncovered. The structure, in its constitution, seemed almost organic, like it was made of sickly green flesh. Of course, it was just stone, and I attempted to reassure my companions. The eerie statues depicted strange creatures, squatting, with long necks and cloven feet. Their heads, seemingly as a result of intention, were missing; perfectly sliced by some ancient machine. My companions complained to me, of the stench, and of the trepidation that coursed through them in this nightmare corpse-structure. But I forced them onwards, we could not squander this opportunity. The Nameless Structure was ours to command now, and no Man on Jhuni had ever gotten this far. A true window into past, this was, and I planned to relish it.

We set up a small camp in the the venous edifice. There was enough food to last us 3 days down here, and the machine that held the door open stood strong. We collected a multitude of samples, little more than scrapings off the wall, for the enigmatic stone that constituted the structure was unrecorded. A series of scrutinous tests deduced the following: it was some form of sedimentary rock. Formed entirely from the osseous remnants of an unknown collection of lifeforms, perhaps, the primary microcosm from which the previous amblypygid-fossils originated. The stone was very porous, and extremely durable (evidently), and it resisted readily immense pressure changes, heat, and cold. Only the smallest of flakes crumbled in a complete and infallible vacuum.

At this point in the journey, any sense of time or space had vanished. All I knew or cared of was the cave and the shuffling Unknown that mayhaps lurked within. I knew not of anything but. So, it was on that 5th-ish night that I was called from my subterrestrial tarp. I was called not by any of my Men, no, but by an unthinking and unstopping feeling within my gut. Something I could not shake off, and something so prominent that it seeped into my dreams. It was instructive, vast, and fathomless, so that I was endlessly curious of its makeup. The team was very tired, and I knew that they’d be ornery and sloppy if I was to wake them up from their deep slumber. And so, as the voice called, I answered, alone. Silent.

What piqued my attention most out of all of these strange sightings; the eerie gulf into which I descended, the esoteric architecture and its impossible strength, the weird and monstrous fossils that defied all entomological texts, none of such anomalies vexed me so. None other than those accursed statues. They were great things, stood upon cuboidal plinths ornamented with tender care not found in the unthinking architecture of the rest of the structure. The figures that stood upon them were winged, daemonic, and cloven-footed, and their crooked crane necks peered down onto me like that of a snake. And where a head should lie on that ophidian, scaled neck, was nothing; just smooth stone.

The edifice tightened as I further walked, so much so in fact that the grand cathedral became moreso akin to a cramped cavern. The sarcous decor had all but vanished, and now the tunnel resembled the interior of a hippo’s gullet. What did not change, however, were those godforsaken statues; many of whom became increasingly eroded as I progressed. And all of them became closer and closer to me as I walked. My mind raced, it squeezed and whimpered as the caverns did, the dreaded fishhook that yanked further onwards compelled me still. It had grown cacophonous, and no longer was it an instinctual urge. The vacuous calling was now something I could delineate, words behind the force: Cphoonhmpha! Cphoonhmpha! Cphoonhmpha! Cphoonhmpha!

And that was when, with my mind obnubliated and my faculties hazed over, that I like a stupid toddler crashed headfirst into a great statue. It was wicked, grotesque, putrescent. I could slam every fucking adjective upon it and still would it fail to describe the fathomless cosmos from which that crawling chaos undulated. It was a foul depiction, so feculent, so insane and depraved that I could not waste any time in backing away. It was but a simple statue, and still it beheld the petrified image of a God; whose infernal power blasted my brain with power and images. Raw and grotesque, vehemently macabre. And upon that craned, crooked snake-neck was the skull of a Deer. From that skull came words:

“So you have come from your hamlet, at last. To save me. Save me.”

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