The Lost Temple of Cthulu
Always a frail and highly-strung individual, upon my return from my last tour of the battlefields of Outremer, I found myself in a state of preternatural ennui and malaise, akin to near comatosis. My maiden aunts, fearing that nothing could shake me from my moribund stupour, suggested a visit to our ancestral haunts in Lorraine, France, might refresh and revivify my sorely-troubled spirits.
Too weak and mentally emaciated to resist, I allowed my corporeal husk to be shipped off to northern France, where it was safely ensconced in the Hotel L’Miskatonic in Karkosa, one of the region’s wealthier metropolises, where the dread Roi en jaune was once said to hold sway. During the day, I languished in a large wicker chair in the hotel’s extensive gardens overrun with gardenias and bougainville, which was quite rare so far from their usual climes further southwards. The sights and smells gently coaxed my afflicted mind back to life and slowly, like a man rising to the surface of a deep lake, I started to take an interest in my environs.
As each day passed, I grew stronger, my body reinvigorated by the regions syrupy red wine and local delicacies. I grew particularly partial to a local speciality called a ‘Flammenkuchen’ (a flaming cake), which is a wafer thin slice of bread dough baked in a hot oven, topped with a mixture of sour cream, crème-fraiche, onions and bacon, and spiced with salt and pepper. It reminded me of the holy wafer, a sacrament I had not indulged in since my superstitious adolescent, but in this case it was most definitely an ‘unholy wafer’, most assuredly leading the recipient into sin. I think it was these perverse connotations that stirred my taste buds and appetite.
One night, I awoke, my innards in an uproar after having overly-indulged my latest gastronomic peccadillo. My bowels surged in protest, demanding to be evacuated forthwith. I stumbled through the bay doors out into the courtyard, cradling my outraged intestines that writhed and throbbed like a pit of vipers. The cool air cleared my senses and I immediately became aware of the presence of nocturnal couples seeking the privacy of the darkened courtyard to engage in the wet, smacking intimacies young lovers have been prone to engage in since man first emerged from the primordial sludge. Shocked by the unwholesome intercourse being engaged in, I slunk to the courtyard’s darkest corner, where behind a large scrub, I released my fetid burden. As the results of my prodigious profligacy gushed onto the soil of the flowerbeds, I was overcome by a temporary dizziness and fell backwards, banging my head roughly on the unyielding stones of the courtyard’s outer wall. Shocked and stunned by the blow, I did not at first notice as the wall seemed to fall away and I plunged headlong through a stygian portal.
I must’ve lost consciousness momentarily for when my sense returned and I raised myself on unsure arms, my surroundings were illuminated by a gibbous moon.
An ancient, time-eroded stone staircase, flanked on either side by moss-encrusted pillars seemed to beckon me,
as the sibilant strains of some kind of eerie piping reached my ears.
Seemingly mesmerized, I rose to my unsteady feet and shuffled towards the dread staircase. As I passed the ancient columns I noted they were decorated with weird, obscene carvings, showing scenes of wild, perverse abandon
that stirred an atavistic unease in my soul, rekindling ancient fears stemming back to the dawn of time, when man was not the only creature vying for hegemony of this lonely rock in the endless tracks of time and space. I shuddered as I wondered what nameless horrors lay ahead...
To be continued...