Dr. Cyrus Llanfer
c/o Miskatonic Univ. Library
April 17, 1948
And here is the artifact as promised for your Universities collection. Apart from some wear and tear during transit it should be in excellent condition after spending forty-odd years in my uncles attic. But then that not really saying much, seeing as how it's already spent 2000-plus years beneath the desert sands.
With it being exam season, I've not had time to look into the arms background as much as I would have liked. Most of what I've uncovered has been through my uncles notes, and from speaking with some of my elder colleagues. It turns out there is an interesting, if little known story attached to this piece. Here it is in brief.
Egyptology was all the rage here in the UK at the turn of the century. In 1905 an eight man team from our own Archaeology department headed by one Professor James Bromley were, like most museums, scouring the desert sands of old Egypt. Following a lead, they received word of a twisted statue and a half buried tomb entrance far from the beaten path, and decided to check it out. There was the usual native gibberish about 'The Mad Pharaoh', the Hand of the Faceless God, and other stuff straight out of the old pulp magazines. Of course old Professor Bromley was having none of it, and set out to excavate the site.
Sadly there were no mounds of gold and treasure to be found at the end of their journey. Just a heavy marble sarcophagus, a few peculiar stone idols of black stone, and an entire room covered in the strangest inscriptions. "Like rows of curved and swirling lines" one of the team members wrote. A far cry from your usual collection of hieroglyphics. A few were decipherable as part of a little know, and most shunned period of Egyptian history, the reign of the blasphemous Pharaoh Nephren-Ka. The mummy itself was said to have been well preserved in the usual Egyptian manner, and was thought to date from around the 3rd Dynasty, in the early days of 2600 BC. Whether it was actually the infamous Pharaoh Nephren-Ka himself (I had to look that one up), or simply one of his priests or court officials, none could say. The care given to hiding his tomb certain indicated he was a ranking official of that unspeakable court.
After spending over a week studying the describing, cataloging, and excavating the lot, the odd blank-faced statues, an assortment of carved gemstone amulets, and the sarcophagus were hauled back to Cairo, then off to Cambridge.
Now this is the part of the story that's straight out of an old Universal horror movie. As it turns out, after much study it began to look as if the mummy may actually have been old Nephren-Ka himself who was a worshiper of some ancient dark and evil god, and who was eventually deposed and driven into the desert due to the actions of his bloodthirsty cult, and the things they wished to summon.
The entire archaeology department was downright giddy with at their findings. More studies were quickly ordered, and papers were prepared for publication.
It was only a few weeks later that things took a dark turn with the death of one of the team members. He was found at home lying peacefully in bed, yet showing definite signs of hiving either been poisoned, or strangled. Two other members of the team quickly succumbed the same causes. Foul play was suspected, yet despite the vague cause of death, none of the men seeming to have put up any kind of struggle. They were just found resting peacefully in their beds.
By now, the first mutterings of a curse started making the rounds (a full two decades before Tutankhamen popularized such things).
The police were baffled (Aren't they always?) as to cause or motive, and there was some speculation that the tomb artifacts might be infected with some poison or disease.
With their numbers dwindling fast, the five remaining professors decided to set a trap of sorts. They chose the most senior of the remaining team members, a Professor Michaels I believe, and set up cots in a windowless room of the house, taking turns keeping watch from the gentleman's closet. On the night of the third day a creaking of a window was heard, and a smoky, shadowy figure appeared in the room.
As the figure moved towards the bed, the watcher raised the alarm, and the other three doctors burst through the door and laid into the dark figure with improvised weapons. I suppose fear can make lions of even the calmest sheep, because they quickly incapacitated their would-be assassin, who to their horror, when the lights were switched on turned out to be the moldering remains of a female mummy. Now reduced to tattered and desiccated fragments of bone and wrappings.
Naturally being learned men, they knew no one in their right minds would believe their fantastic tale, so they proceeded to dump the remains into the fireplace and quickly burned the body to ashes. Save for this one arm apparently, and a pair of small stone funerary amulets that were found near the bed.
Thinking the dnger over, the scientists returned to work. However restfulness lasted only a few days. Michaels opened his briefcase one morning to find a letter addressed to him from parties unknown. It calmly explained that the men had disturbed the rest of their sleeping king. One who must not be disturbed until the Lord of the Desert returned. And while the men had overcome one of the sleepers guards, many more waited for permission to strike, or slept patiently beneath the desert sands. But there was still time to save their lives. If (you guessed it) they returned the blessed one and his grave goods to their resting place, the Dark One might be kind, and allow them to depart unpunished. The letter was simply signed "Those who serve the three-lobed eye".
They were skeptical at first, thinking they were the victims of a nasty hoax, or blackmail scheme. But after a week filled with sleepless nights, dusty footprints found outside bedroom doors, window latches and doorknobs rattled in the night, shadows moving past second floor windows, amulets was left on bedside tables in the morning, and even one doctor waking up to an eight pointed star drawn on his forehead in ashes, the men were forced to relent, and at their own expense, smuggled the artifacts from the university labs and onto the next boat to Egypt, where they were returned to their remote resting place in the Egyptian desert.
It was reported that there was one last death among the team as the men slept in their tents the next night. The gentleman was found, like the others, lying peacefully in his cot, yet his threat had been filled with dust and that same eight pointed star seen before was traced on his forehead in ashes.
It is reported that the remaining four professors departed the university soon afterwards, and all records of the expedition were expunged from department records.
Now I'll leave this little ghost story here for experts such as yourself to judge whether there's any truth to the tale, or whether it's just a story to frighten freshmen Archaeology majors.
For now, all we have is the arm, a few pub tales from elderly professors, and the notes from my uncle Francis (from whom I got the majority of the stories details, the arm, and amulets). How he acquired them I cannot say, he was just an administrator at the universities financial department, with no particular interest in Egyptology that I'm aware of. Strangely there's no record of the recovery of any artifacts from the 1905 Egypt expedition. The only real confirmation that any of it occurred is a simple obituary notice dated 1906 in the local paper, which I've enclosed.
Perhaps you'll be able to uncover more information on this story on your own by contacting the university. I'll leave it in your capable hands. Frankly I'd consider the whole thing a Cock and Bull story if it weren't for some of the things you've shown me in the past
And here I must leave you. As always, you simply must do me an honor of a visit here in Cambridge during one of your trips to the continent, either at my offices or at home. I'm always happy to make time for an old colleague, especially if there are dinner or drinks involved.
Prof. Franklin Dyer
Cambridge Univ Department of History