C-02: The Envoy from Beyond

Updated: May 5

Esteemed members of the Chair, fellow Associates,


In this letter, I report to you the current state of affairs regarding the site of C-02 in Egypt. I’m happy to report there have been no anomalous activities in C-02. Unfortunately, due to the vicinity of the ▓▓▓▓ palace ruins, tourism in the area has increased drastically. Therefore, the Khedivate administration has now assigned ‘guides’ to show tourists around the C-02 site, whilst keeping them from entering the bathing area.

The cover story, stating that the wall and its gateway used to be part of a temple complex belonging to the cult of Inanna-Ishtar, has remained unchanged. These stories have been made official by our allies in academia. Though I must say, the smut on temple prostitution contained within these ‘academic papers’ tends to transcend the boundaries between creative writing and erotica. That said, it does distract the public’s imagination.

To discourage the public further, the authorities lay down a faux mosaic on the bottom of the bath. A clever ruse to keep people from entering. Unfortunately, the mosaic’s themes are based on the aforementioned ‘academic papers’. Would it ever return, what will the ‘Messenger’ be thinking of the floor he’s standing on?

Since the last archeological dig, no new investigations have been conducted. Since the incident during which tents were set alight, the Khedivites don’t want any excavations due to safety concerns. Those responsible still have not been identified nor apprehended.

I have nothing further to report,

Associate 232




Description

C-02 is an ancient temple ruin, of which only

the front walls are left standing.


The remaining brickwork has kept its portcullis-shaped archway from falling over. More amazing than the archway still standing is its age. Judging by artifacts, such as pot shards and ivory jewelry, recovered on-site, C-02 is an estimated 1


2.000 years old. This is highly unusual, as the earliest known settlers entered the area about 5500 years ago. This discrepancy could be due to gaps in the archeological record.

Furthermore, the style and architecture are atypical of the region. Some have suggested the depiction of a winged goddess above the archway appears to be more Meso-American in design than that of known Mesopotamian culture. The identity of the said goddess is suspected to be an early version of Sumerian/Akkadian goddess Inanna-Ishtar.

Archeological inquiries have been limited as local superstitions, and sabotage has scared away many workers. Therefore little about its prehistoric history is known to us. But an excavated layer containing a lot of soot suggests there has been a large fire at some point.



The circular ‘bath’ suggests that the building was made specifically to shelter the rift, which was mentioned in document C02-05. What happened to this rift, or why this building was constructed around it remains a mystery.






Discoveries

The Association first became aware of C-02 when an agent in the archeological field reported the anachronistic and foreign design of C-02. Then there are the massive blocks, from which the arch is constructed, weighing an estimated one ton each. Some of the remaining wall’s blocks show signs of tools more advanced than their age would suggest, such as drill holes.

The short-lived excavation of C-02 uncovered jewelry, made of ivory, whalebone, jade, and precious metals like silver and gold. But also bronze. This indicated a wealthy elite had resided in these buildings which had access to either tin and/or bronze through trade. Also, Scale-like plates have been found of a yet unidentified material. These are currently in possession of Special Committee Antiquarians.

After the first discoveries were reported in the media, incidents started to occur. Fires, supply caravans going missing, animal attacks. Workers started deserting, and authorities became convinced it was deliberate sabotage. The native population blamed it on the jinns inhabiting the area. These claims have caused problems for the authorities, but at the moment there is no threat of escalation. However, there were no suspects apprehended for the sabotage.

The following excerpts are from ******** log who oversaw the excavation at C-02 in 18** detailing the events leading up to the arsons.


[…]

Three days into the excavation and I already had it with their incompetence. The other night one idiot placed a torch too close to the tent. The cloth nearly caught fire. Nobody put it there of course. Just can’t trust those locals.

[…]

Found out this morning the well water has been polluted with pig carcasses. We managed to fish them out. We are boiling the water, but many Muslims still refuse to drink it. We are looking into getting water from the nearby village.

[…]

The supply caravan was attacked. Probably anti-Khedivate rebels. To make matters worse, some idiot has been spreading rumors blaming jinns disguised as rebels. This is not the first time that happened. Some workers lost their right shoes the other morning. Probably a prank, but morons are screaming it was a Jinn who did it.

[…]

Found some of our missing bottles of spirits inside a tent of a worker. In his defense, the suspect claimed jinns must have put them there. Good lord. Meanwhile, the Khedivates are getting impatient, asking every day if we are done yet. Not sure if it's rebels they are worried about or shoe stealing ghosts.

[…]

During the night, while sitting around the fires, some of the workers jumped up and started screaming, raising their fingers at the sky. “It's raining fire! Fire!” When I looked, I too saw the flaming embers rained down on the camp. At first, I thought they were just some spark from a torch or something. But then tents caught fire. One man started screaming about jinns. Some ran. Some fell to their kn


ees, praying to whatever god they worshiped for protection. We tried to rally some of the men who weren’t feeble-minded to secure our provisions and tools, but it would have been easier to herd cats.

The following day, stories about the rain of fire had run rampant and many workers fled the site, without pay. When the fires had seceded and the ashes had cooled down, I recovered caged fire arrowheads from the burned remains. So much for magical fire.


Document C2-02:2

After the arrow attack and reports of suspicious individuals, the authorities shut down the dig over safety concerns. I and other Associates began looking into the local folklore surrounding the site. This is a letter from one of our informants in the Institut Égyptien in Alexandria. The following is Dr. Kahmal’s response letter, dated 5th of July, 1867.


Dear Associate,


Regarding your jinns, and other myths related to the C-02 site.

Local folklore is rife with tales of shape-shifting spirits wandering the desert that go back thousands of years. There is little that separates these tales from the typical myths about desert spirits. So, if your question is if jinns are inclined to commit arsons and murder. It's a bit mundane compared to the efreets causing sand storms and raining fire from the heavens.

The records that were uncovered on the C-02 location taught us very little. The written records are very fragmented. Based on the scattered pattern in which the clay tablets were found, we cannot rule out intentional destruction. Perhaps their religious nature attracted the scorn of zealots. This would explain the extensive damage done to the walls surrounding the archway. This is a great shame. Because it‘s supposed to commemorate the construction of the gate. The other hurdle is the dialect in which the wall mural is written, all we can offer is the course translation.


Fragment 1:

“The Guardians held the [wall/border] of Great Gateway […] We laid the foundation of brick and asphalt and built upon it, the Gateway to the Halls of Ersheen built of [celestial stone?] and lay upon blue [glass] on which wonderful animals and the servants of Esheen(?) were depicted. I covered their roofs by laying majestic cedars lengthwise over them. I fixed doors of cedar wood adorned with bronze at the [gate] opening...”


Fragment 2:

“I placed [wild bulls] and ferocious [dragons] [...] of Magnificent Ersheen victory over her sister and her [serving bulls].”

[...]

“ with luxurious splendor so that Mankind might gaze on them in wonder.”


I, and my colleagues, never saw any other references to ‘Ersheen’ and ‘her sister’, anywhere else. Maybe these are earlier versions of Inanna-Ishtar, Lady of the Heavens, and her sister Eraskigal, mistress of the underworld. If this indeed a temple dedicated to Ersheen, the Great Gateway might have been a portal to her ‘realm’. If true, you may have found the origins of your jinns.


Sincerely,

Dr. Ahmed Kahmal



Addendum, 1874

Document C2-05

The following record was recovered from the recently discovered basement underneath Sanctuary. More documentation from the early days of the Association had been retrieved from within that sealed off level.

This transcript, translated from French, is dated 1801; The year in which Napoleon Bonepart fled Egypt, stranding his army near Alexandria. During his 1799 company, his army was Accompanied by a scientific expedition who investigated many of Egypt’ s ruins, uncovering many artifacts that are famous today like the Rosetta stone. The letter is not signed, however, by cross-examining the handwriting with those of expedition members we have concluded was probably penned by Manuel La Rue. A known artist and antiquarian who made many landscape portraits in Egypt.

1801,

My hand is strained as I write these statements. No amount of opium or drink can put me at ease in anticipation of the inevitable fall of Alexandria. I do not fear the Brits. I dread what the natives will do to us after all that misery Bonapart has wrought. One colleague suggested we should leave and surrender to Sir Sidney Smith now that we still have the chance. I doubt Menou would stop us.

But before taking any risks, I must make a record of what happened. Beside me, on this very table, I have a Ciborium. A container was entrusted to me. What must become of it, I don’t know. Instead, I’ll elaborate on how it came into my possession.

It all began when our expedition, in the employ of the French Republic and General Bonapart, made camp in the desert en-route to Rossetta. At sunset, I noticed an arch in the distance. Bouchard told us we had no time to waste on every monument we would encounter. But its location, in an area so far away from ruins, must have been of some importance.

The next morning, my face was becoming sunburnt as I drove a camel ahead of our column while everyone was having breakfast. It wasn’t the large ruin I expected it to be, as its walls and pillars had been reduced to their foundations, probably to aid in the construction of subsequent buildings. But the arches were much more impressive from up close. Looking at the size of the arch’s stones, the scavengers probably couldn’t move them.

Only a sand-filled well, or pond, remained. But it had a strange depression in the center like the sand had been trickling down inside an underground river or cave perhaps. I concluded this must have been an ancient bathhouse, or the like. A ceremonial pool where people came to be purified.

In the shade of palm trees, I set up my easel. This place, with its leaves and underbrush growing from between the blocks, intrigued me and I wasted no time getting to work.

I was sketching the environment when the rest of the column caught up with us. The moment some of the native caravaners saw me sitting below the trees, they became upset and started screaming at me, telling us the place was cursed, and I should pray to Allah for protection against the jinns haunting these ruins. Berthollet gave in to their demands and told the column to move on.

I, however, had no time for their superstitions and insisted on finishing my work. Something about this arch I found mesmerizing. I couldn’t explain it. There was something otherworldly about it that I just had to record before the arch would inevitably collapse. So, I remained behind with a camel. After hours of drawing in the shade, too tired to continue, I laid myself down to rest.

When I was awakened by sweat stinging my eyes, the sun was at its highest point. Deciding it was best to hurry after the column, I discovered to my horror my camel had fled, leaving its bloody reins broken in the sand next to some of the items that hung from the saddle, including the canteen. What had scared the creature off? My terror-stricken mind fantasized it could have been the jinns. But I quickly repressed the thought by focusing on more worldly concerns.

With nothing but a water ration that could last me a day, I considered my options. Staying put in the shade, seemed the most prudent, and to be on the lookout for another caravan. As the heat dehydrated me, I lay myself to rest again. By the time I awoke, the night was approaching. I climbed the walls to see if I could spot any campfires in the distance. Instead I was alarmed by an odd glow drifting above the depression in the sand. It was no fire, or luminous insect. Just a pale shimmer like daylight reflected off the water surface. As I climbed down, it started to resemble the tranquil waves of a pond’s reflection as if the well had filled up again. Curiosity drove me to inspect this fata morgana. But then, as I walked through the archway, a faint jolt of light sheared through the mirage’s surface like a bolt of lighting. The surface began to vaporize. First, it was subtle, like fumes rising from a hot spring. But as I stood on the stones circumventing the well, the surface started to boil. But there was no heat, no moisture. So I stood there, staring, whilst my mind was trying to rationalize this yet undocumented phenomenon.

That’s when a geyser bursted upward from the pit. A white pillar illuminated the area in its blinding light. But just as I was raising my arms to shield myself, the torrent of vapors collapsed upon itself, becoming less volatile. Tranquil even, like a fountain. Blinded by the light, I took my distance when a dark silhouette suddenly rose up from the light spring before me. I couldn’t make out the face as glowing orbs on the side of his head overstimulated my already taxed eye. But I know it was a bearded man, robed with brass-colored scales and a luminous trilingual crest on the front of his conical helmet.

Stepping back, I lost my footing in the sand, making me land on my arse. Panicking and blinded, I crawled up against the columns of the archway, scrapping my fingernails upon the stone. As I pressed my back against the wall, he was almost upon me. Standing there, unable to appear clearly, he stopped before me. I had to raise my chin to see his face as he towered over me like a camel. Then, he stretched out his arm. In his bronze grip he held a cord from which suspended a cubical object beset with a large stone on the front. Without saying a word, he told me to take it. And so I did. My hands were shaking as I held it between my palms. Then I waited. But nothing happened. He just turned around, walked back into the light fountain, and disappeared along with the light, leaving nothing but the lingering smell of sweet incense.

So, there I was with this Ciborium. Fearing I might not have made it out of there, I opened it. But when I did, all it contained was this big nacre pine cone.

This fist-sized seed is a curiosity indeed. I’ve considered what it does. Maybe, with time, its scales will unfold and shed its spores to create new saplings. But to what end? Maybe bring life to the scorching desert? My mind does little else but speculate on its purpose.

I fear it, yet don’t dare to destroy it. I told no one except Unas Khamsa, the botanist. I hope he could identify the seed. I feel now that I-


[End of document]


The letter was never finalized. La Rue’s fate remains unknown, and his Ciborium has never been recovered. All that remains are the sketches of Ciborium’s exterior and this letter. How these documents came into the Association’s possession is a mystery. Regarding La Rue’s disappearance, we have conflicting reports. One of his fellow expedition members claimed that La Rue was taken by French soldiers. Unfortunately, there are no records of his arrest. Another claims he surrendered to the British when Alexandria fell. Of this, we have no proof either. Another possibility is that both statements are true, and the British saved him from captivity. Still, this does not answer the question regarding the faith of the Ciborium, or if it even exists.

To end on a personal note, I’m afraid the Ciborium is just one of those myths that get filed away in the Association’s archives on a daily basis.

Dr. Bourbon




Addendum, 1874-2

The following document is a transcript of an interview with a suspect who claims to be a member of The Eriduan Brotherhood. There is little known of this sect, claiming their founding can be traced back to the reign of Alulim of Eridu, 5900-4300 BC.

[…]

Associate 232: “Who do you work for?”


Adapa: “We serve no other than the divine Utu.”


Associate 232: “Utu? The Sun God?”


Adapa: “And the twin of your mistress, Ishtar. Queen of the Heavens. She still seeks to

invade the hall of Ereshkigal it seems. Or, am I mistaken, and her sister

already cursed your goddess with sixty diseases?”


Associate 232: “We seek to prevent just that.”


Adapa: “Oh, the world is turning barren. World Pools are opening everywhere.”


Associate 232: “You are referring to the Rifts?”


Adapa: “The gateways to Erishkigal’s domain. Does Ishtar seek to conquer it all?”


Associate 232: “On the contrary. We seek to keep death outside of the door.”


Adapa: “But the Queen of Heaven and Lady Death are sisters. How can you deny

family entry to your house?”