The Journal of Professor Arnold Guthridge, St Aidan’s College
Monday May 14th 1900
There is a scrap of arcane writing hidden away in the bowels of a certain college that I choose not to name. It is of unknown origin and written in English upon what appears to be parchment but legend has it that it is in fact human skin, only a fragment of this manuscript exists but certain scholars suggest that the illustrations are reminiscent of a much more infamous tome and it has over time garnered the appellation of the Oxford Necromicon.
Having studied the arcane text at length I became enthused at the illustration that some have suggested might be a representation of the entity Yog-Sothoth, I had seen this twisted mass of tentacles and cilia before, they did not belong to the mythical demi-god but were the entangled roots of a large old tree that surmounted Saggoth Hill, I had once visited it as a youth and it had left such an impression as to ignite my curiosity in the strangeness of nature and the ancient world. The hill was not a day’s journey from the college, what secrets might these gnarled tendrils hold?
I made my plans and set out with my beloved Evelyn to Saggoth Hill on Wednesday, we arrived as dusk fell and stopping at old coaching inn called The Blood and Pig took a room there, with Evelyn masquerading as my wife as she is wont to do on such occasions (she will insist on remaining unmarried despite my entreaties).
As we dined together in the bar a ruddy faced man who styled himself a local historian joined us to engage in conversation. Styles as he was called (I fear I never found out his Christian name), recounted how our destination was once known as Shoggoth Hill, the very hairs on my neck stood up at this unexpected link to the Necronomicon. A rustic gentleman overhearing our conversation muttered darkly about sheep going missing on occasion and how few folk would venture there after dark.
I of course became all the more determined to visit this legendary tree-topped mound even though, as Evelyn and I lay together that night, she reminded me of danger that the unknown could bring, reminding me of our first meeting.
Nonetheless the next morning we set off on foot for the hilltop accompanied by the enthusiastic historian and as we approached the summit saw the shape silhouetted against the skyline, it was so large as to resemble a copse rather than a single tree.
Achieving our goal we reached the bole of the tree with its intricately interlaced and visible root structure and the excitement I had felt as a youth returned. Styles and I examined the tree most carefully while Evelyn studied the sketch I had made of the page. My beloved companion noticed an illustration of a conjunction of roots which formed a diamond shape clearly marked with the appellation “Portal”, there was also a sigil which could mean be aware although Evelyn suggested beware might be the correct interpretation.
The historian and I were eager to pursue the path of knowledge quickly found the diamond shape in the roots and on close examination a palm sized stone in exactly the same shape resided within. Unable to prise it from the hard packed earth I tried moving it left, right up and down then Styles suggested pressing hard upon it.
The stone was stiff but eventually relented to sink slowly into the exposed earth, there was a click and the sound of falling earth and as a large depression appeared in the twisted mass nearby and a foetid smell assaulted our nostrils. Upon pulling apart some roots a large round hole big enough to admit a man was visible in the ground, I was all for going straight down this overlarge rabbit hole but both Evelyn and Styles were against it so we retired back to the inn and sent a message to St Aidan’s to send tools, ropes and torches at the earliest opportunity, the adventure was afoot!
To be continued…
Suggested by Sue Vincent’s picture challenge.