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The Lion's Den


Elias' Notes

Items acquired from Jackson Elias' publisher and friend, Jonah Kensington of Prospero Publishing...

1. A handwritten letter, on plain stationary:

August 8, 1924

Dear Jonah,
Big news! There is a possibility that not all the members of the Carlyle Expedition died. I have a lead. Though the authorities here deny the cult angle, the natives sing a different tune. You wouldn't believe the stories! Some juicy notes coming your way! This one may make us all rich!

Blood and Kisses,

P.S. I'll need some advance money to follow this up. More later.

2. Seven sets of neatly handwritten notes, in a strong, bold hand. They are all datelined Nairobi. They are well-organized, but lacking in conclusions, connections, and clearly defined themes.

SET ONE sets forth the offices, officials, and tribes Elias visited, searching for material concerning cults and cult rituals. Nothing conclusive, though Jackson discounts the official version of the Carlyle massacre.

SET TWO describes his trip to the massacre site. He notes particularly that the earth there is completely barren, and that tribes of the area avoid the place, saying it is cursed by the God of the Black Winds, whose home is a mountain top.

SET THREE is an interview with a Johnstone Kenyatta, who says that the Carlyle murders may have been performed by the cult of the Bloody Tongue. He says that the cult is reputedly based in the mountains, and that its high priestess is a part of the Mountain of the Black Winds. Elias is skeptical. Elias records, in quotes, that regional tribes fear and hate the Bloody Tongue, that tribal magic is of no protection against the cult, and that the cult's god is not of Africa.

SET FOUR Elias confirms from several sources that the Bloody Tongue cult exists, but finds no firsthand evidence of it. Tales include children stolen for sacrifice. Creatures with great wings are said to come down from the Mountain of Black Winds to carry off people. The cult worships a god unknown to folklorists, one fitting no traditional African pattern. In particular, Jackson cites "Sam Mariga, rr-sta."

SET FIVE is a single sheet reminding Elias that the Cairo portion of the Carlyle itinerary must be examined carefully. He believes that the reason which prompted Carlyle's Kenyan side trip is on the Nile.

SET SIX is a transcript of an interview with Lt. Mark Selkirk, leader of the men who actually found the remains of the Carlyle expedition. Selkirk says that the bodies were remarkably undecayed for the length of time in which they lay out in the open. Secondly, the bodies had been torn apart, as if by animals, though what sorts of animals would pull apart bodies so systematically he could not guess. Selkirk agrees that the Nandis may have had something to do with the episode, but suspects that the charges against the ringleaders were trumped up. "Wouldn't be the first time," he says cynically. Finally, Selkirk confirms that no caucasians were found among the dead--only corpses of the Kenyan bearers were scattered along the plain.

SET SEVEN is another single sheet. Elias ran into Nails Nelson at the Victoria Bar in Nairobi. Nelson had been a mercenary for the Italians on the Somali-Abyssinian border, but escaped into Kenya after doublecrossing his employers. Nelson claimed to have seen Jack Brady alive in March of 1923, in Hong Kong. Brady was friendly, though guarded and taciturn, and Nelson didn't press the conversation. From this Elias deduced that other members of the Carlyle party might be alive.

3. A sheaf of handwritten notes, penned by Jackson Elias in London. They are folded and stitched to form a quarto volume of 40 pages. Frequently a page or a dozen pages are blank. Some pages contain the same word over and over. Most entries are written with agitation and are barely readable; the following are the useful quotes, gleaned and carefully transcribed by your party.

many names, many forms,
but all the same and toward one end--
Need Help--
Too big, too ghastly.
These dreams--dreams like Carlyle's?--
Check that psychoanalyst's files--
all of them survived!
They'll open the gate. Why? --
so the power and danger is
real. They--
many threads beginning--
The books are in Carlyle's safe--
Coming for me. Will the ocean
Ho ho no quitters now. Must tell
and make readers Believe. Should
I scream for them? Let's
scream together---