It must be noted that the original entry was some years ago in my professional journal. New elements have recently come to light, however. The original journal entry is in standard script. The additional entries (like this one) have been italicized.
The expedition set out from Cairo on the 5th of January. All accounts were that weather would be favorable as we trekked into the dessert to investigate the site.
It was an incredible find, and would be worth a fortune in wealth and accolades. A hitherto undiscovered crypt that had been hidden by the sands for untold millennia had been recently discovered at the base of the sphinx. An unexplained and sudden earthquake several weeks before had nearly collapsed the front paws of the great sphinx, but in its wake the crevice that opened in the earth revealed an entrance some 200 feet down. We would be the first expedition on site, and I was – I will admit – anxious with anticipation of what we would find.
The expedition included myself, Doctor Pinhasy from the Cairo museum of antiquities, his assistant Miss Abayami, my good friend and colleague Doctor Peddengast and his assistant Miss Hayes. The rest of the expedition consisted of a score of natives, indigenous Bedouin tribes and locals who knew the fickle nature of the dessert sands and could act as our guide, as well as strong-backs who could dig and handle explosives.
My sister Caitlyn was the lead scholar on the expedition. I was along as a hired bodyguard and head of security, as everyone from Arkham was of the studious sort.
As soon as we were outside of the city, a mere few hundred yards from the site, a freak sandstorm rose up and set upon the party. Sand and wind were howling so fiercely we couldn’t even hear each other shouting, and the sun itself seemed to be blotted out from the sky. I managed to find my way by sheer fortune and audacity to the ladder than led down into the crevice and attempted to lower myself into the pit to take safe harbor from the storm that raged – it was no protection, however, as the air currents seem to burrow into the crevice, seeking to scour the skin from my bones. I decided to throw aside caution, and even though venturing into an unknown and possibly unstable crypt alone and unaided was foolhardy, I saw no other protection from the storm.
Caitlyn wandered off toward the crevice, losing all sense of direction. I followed her, and lost sight of the other principals. She would have gone back into the storm, but I urged her into the crevice for protection.
I carefully lowered myself down the ladder, relying almost entirely upon my instincts, as I could not even see my hand before my face. I finally felt my feet hit the bottom of the crevice, and felt around blindly for the opening. I stumbled across some type of threshold that marked the opening to the underground crypt, and I scarcely managed to avoid sprawling upon my face.
Upon entering the crypt, the first thing I noted was the near complete cessation of noise from the outside. My hands were shaking as I lit my lantern. Whether from anticipation or fear, I knew not. The fact that I had managed to still have my tinderbox and lantern on my person amid the chaos was not something that pressed upon me at the time, though I do often reflect back on this.
The walls of the crypt near the entrance were much like what we had seen in previous digs: a combination of sandstone and limestone blocks, quite enormous and perfectly fitted despite the technology we assumed the builders had during that period. I decided, despite that fact that I knew my companions were still out in the storm, to press forward.
At this point I’m somewhat unclear as to whether “I” refers to myself, Caitlyn, or the both of us. Most likely I was the more intent on going forward, as I was more pragmatic than Caitlyn and less concerned for her companions.
The hieroglyphs and pictograms displayed upon the sandstone walls were in remarkable condition. This crypt must have been sealed tight from both time and the elements. After a few hundred feet, the main hallway gave way to a dozen or so antechambers, all buried to the point that only explosives would clear the debris that had been deposited by the aftershocks of the earthquake weeks before.
What caught my attention, however, was the main passage seemed clear as I moved forward: the side passages had been sealed by debris, but oddly enough, the main passage appeared almost as if it had been cleared by great unseen hands. The sandstone gave way to a strange, dark obsidian stone. It was cool to the touch and seemed almost too dense and hard to be worked by any hand or tool. Yet there were strange glyphs that had been wrought within the stones surface, ones that my previous experience gave me no reference for.
No doubt these were Caitlyn’s observations.
The passage seemed to go deeper as it went forward, and after another few hundred feet, it emptied into a large cavern. It was impossible to discern the caverns exact size, for the entire chamber was carved into alien, non-Euclidian angles. At the center was a platform, like a huge dais, that rose above the floor some 30 feet or so. This was made from strange, emerald marble. As I climbed the steps, the deathly still of the chamber nearly halted me – but something inside me spurred me to the top.
As I ascended the steps, I saw upon the top of the dais an enormous sarcophagus. It was easily twenty feet from head to base. Engraved upon it with a skill I had never encountered was the avatar of a man, but unlike any man I had ever seen. The avatar was as large as the sarcophagus and was dressed like some god-king or pharaoh, except he was completely black-skinned and hairless. The realism of the image was both enticing and frightening.
I set the lantern down upon the steps. The image was breathtaking, but surely no such Black Pharaoh could have existed. It was preposterous. I was set to prove that inside was nothing more than a runt of a man, mummified and vainglorious within his over-sized and audacious crypt. I set about pushing aside the lid of the sarcophagi, straining with all the raw strength I could muster.
At this point I can clearly remember Caitlyn urging caution. She wanted to go after the others, and return with a full expeditionary force before touching anything. I could not be dissuaded however. It was like a madness overtook me, and I recall her physically attempting to restrain me and getting shoved aside. May the merciful gods forgive me Caitlyn. I am so sorry.
It slid aside far too easily, as it went toppling down the steps with a cacophony of noise. As if it had wanted me to open it. Inside, however, there was no mummy – no remains, no hidden treasure, nothing – except the vast blackness of the void. My gaze was affixed to the vastness within. There were countless stars, vast reaches, swirling galaxies. There were other realms, other worlds. I gazed upon creatures in another place and time, somehow existing in a reality that was both distant and coterminous with my own. I cannot explain how I knew this, or understood it, but it was somehow clear to me. They were as real as my own flesh – yet more primitive, wearing medieval armor and weapons and tribal clothing. An ogre, bugbear, half-elf, elf, humans…and a child with them, a strange, marked child leading them. Now I saw others…humans, aasimars, genasi, both air and fire, a primal elf, and again a strange marked child leading them. Now I saw only humans, but wearing strange clothing, carrying more advanced gunpowder weapons, peculiar electric torches that lit up at the ends like small glowing wands…and once again, a child among them, leading them.
I know not what happened directly afterward, save that I began to swoon as these images and what they foretold wracked my mind. All went black and the next thing I recall when I regained consciousness was the face of my friend Abe Peddengast, looking perplexed and alarmed, calling out my name. I must have somehow fallen forward into the sarcophagus, for when my colleagues found me I was laying within it as if I had been buried all these long centuries. I had in fact been unconscious hardly an hour before the storm had subsided and my rescuers found me. They had run back to the shelter of the city and waited the sandstorm out, losing nothing but time.
At this point Caitlyn and I were one. Segregation of the memories, which are hers and which are mine, are still somewhat ambiguous. I don’t recall what was explained to the expedition, and what exactly they knew of my, or rather our, condition and what was kept from me going forward. With my lack of memory combined with my insanity, however, I was utterly convinced Caitlyn and I had the Fey Blessing (some call it the Blessing of Corellan, god of the elves). We were one and interchangeable. It was not until the Atropos incident that I learned otherwise.
Once I had regained my wits, we had our strong-backs set about setting explosives and excavating the antechambers. After several weeks we recovered and relocated all the artifacts to the Cairo Museum of Antiquities. It holds a distinguished place at the museum, being known as the Black Pharaoh exhibit. We returned home to Arkham to our accolades and to our usual fee. I told no one about my experience and my vision, only that I was somehow separated from the party, and sought shelter. I must have bumped my head and passed out from the blow and the exhaustion. These placid excuses placated my colleagues enough that they asked no more questions of me.
They would not understand. How my dreams have been fitful nightmares since that day. How I see that vision of the vast reaches between the stars, how I know what those glyphs spoke of. How I know that one day the stars will be right, and then the Great Old Ones will breach that great distance between the stars. And the sky will go dark, and they will consume all when they arrive – the faithful, the faithless, the mad – all will be for naught for they will consume all. Nothing short of everything will slake their hunger.
And how their messenger will usher in that time and that fateful day. The messenger they call the Man in Black, the Crawling Chaos, Nyarlathotep.
The Black Pharaoh.
I have committed the gravest of sins – I have released the Crawling Chaos into this world. I have sinned against my own blood, against my loyal friends and colleagues, and against humanity. Worst of all, I betrayed my dear sister. And still she forgave me. I am an unworthy lout, a degenerate of the worst kind, a lowly sinner who feigns righteousness. I am only too deserving of what punishment the fates have in store.