I escaped that forsaken place with neither my body nor my sanity entirely intact. I write this record in the comfort of my own study, it’s warmth and familiarity a soothing change to that of the events that unfolded last night. I am alone in my return. Banks did not make it out alive, his sacrifice will not be forgotten. I strive to amend his departure with great haste. Tools and I separated the moment we returned to town. I will probably find him at the bottom of a pint glass, drinking away the night that we had just endured. Now, I will record what happened that night, continuing from that tattered note that I scrawled in my terror.
I sat in the study that we had finally discovered, scouring the pages of a long-forgotten tome of ancient knowledge. A book of the old ones. This particular volume, the one that I managed to escape with, contains spells and cures beyond any human comprehension. Banks and Tools searched high and low for an escape. I had faith in their abilities as Banks had excellent intuition, attained from his detective work, and Tools had a certain skill set that he attained less legally. However, it was not them that discovered our escape. From the corner of my eye, while taking a break from my study, I spotted it. The rug beneath me seemed out of place, its corners were worn and rugged, as if it had been handled many times. I alerted my companions to this, and together, we moved the furniture and rug, only to reveal a trap door concealed beneath.
It took moments for us to brave opening the door to our potential escape. The walls surrounding us were still alive with noises of unknown horrors beyond. It was Banks who stilled his nerve first, readying his knife and grasping the handle of the door, he motioned for us to be prepared for anything that may emerge. I gripped my own side arm in two hands, my sights aimed at the opening and Tools readied his trusty shotgun. There was, however, no need for weaponry, just yet. The trap door opened with a creak and the only threat beyond was an impenetrable darkness. We switched weapon for flashlight, but even the artificial radiance failed to entirely aid our vision. It was as if a thick smog descended into the depths of this ruined house that we sought to escape.
We strode on regardless, down a maze of corridors and empty rooms. We felt that something was following us, until, it stood before us. From what I could make out, it was humanoid but crouched on all fours. Its flesh was rotted, exposing the muscle and sinew beneath. Its fang lined maw was snarled into a grimace. It was a ghoul, a foul creature of the ancient times that feasted on human remains. As one, we drew our weapons in spite of our and blasted the thing to whence it came. We immediately broke into a run after we had defeated the creature, a pandemonium of noise erupted behind us. A chittering, a growling, a scraping.
We fought as we ran through the never-ending mazes beneath that house. A horde of rats sought to hinder our advance, but we crushed them underfoot as we ran. Several more ghouls stood to deny us, but were swiftly run through, with gun and blade. We were all injured, both our bodies and our minds, but we did not relent. Then there it was, a stair case to the surface. We ran as fast as our exhausted forms could carry us until we ascended to another trap door. We barrelled through with all of our momentum and slammed it behind us, on the horrors that pursued.
My companions and I found ourselves in the corridor that we had started in, the front entrance obscured by distance and shadow. I’m not sure if insanity had gripped Banks, but he began mumbling a verse from one of the books that we had just discovered. “It will mend my wounds so I can better ensure our survival.” He explained, as Tools and I looked on with concerned expression. He must have misread the verse, for instead of healing wound, blood streamed from his eyes and nose. “The power of the old ones must not be taken lightly, and must be properly studied before use,” I told him of his mistake. Tools offered an alternative in the form of his hip flask, passing around the strong-smelling liquor to steel our nerves for the final push.
We had not the energy nor the adrenaline to fuel our advance no longer, we were slowed almost to a crawl. As we approached, a fetid stench assaulted our senses. Before us, blocking our only escape, emerged a creature of unexplainable horror. A long red robe and a mask of bone completed its façade of humanity, its long and bloodied talons denied it. I’m not sure if it was the effects of Tool’s mysterious liquor, but we charged with reckless abandon at the foul thing.
I put shot after shot into the creature as I charged forward, but it did not falter. Tools brought his shotgun to bear, it’s thunderous roar spraying the creature with buckshot, but it did not falter. Banks ran ahead of us, with blade drawn. He leapt at the robed figure as if crazed. He left his knife embedded in the creature’s mask, black liquid seeping from around it. It stood defiant and seemingly unharmed. It swatted Banks away with a powerful sweep of its monstrous arm.
Tools and I did what we could to halt the beast, but it carried on dauntlessly toward Banks’ unconscious form. Gripping his throat in clawed hand, the creature raised him above the ground with an unearthly strength. It was going to kill Banks, and we could do nothing. He awoke from his daze and flailed hopelessly in the creature’s grip. I can still hear his screams now. We gave up hope. With his last shot, Tools removed the pain that our companion was enduring, obliterating his chest with deadeye marksmanship. It was an unsightly demise, but one swifter than that of one’s throat being slowly crushed. In the creature’s confusion, we saw opportunity. We darted past it and made our escape, knocking the door from its hinges. We did not stop running until we left that forsaken place far behind. We sobbed for Banks all the while, but it will not be his end.
And that brings me back to the present. I will resurrect Banks, re-knit his body anew, the ancient tome that I attained has the knowledge within to do so, I just need to study it further. We will return to that place, and bring back more of its contents. We will face those horrors again, for no one else will and no one else can. The knowledge of the old ones consumes me, but it is for the greater good of all.
Thank you for reading!