Thursday, 9th of July, 1925
The investigators have gathered this evening at the Wentworth Club along with seemingly every member able to attend, for a memorial dinner in honour of club member Lord Howard Brightman who was reportedly recently murdered at his home in London. None of the investigators knew Brightman, except by reputation as a leading historian and archaeologist – he had reportedly become somewhat of a recluse in recent years.
The President of the Wentworth Club, Mister Gregory Bluffstone offers a toast to Lord Brightman, referencing his work at an archaeologist particularly mentioning a story of a dig that Brightman once participated in at Nineveh in Iraq, but saying little of the story beyond the fact it was terrifying.
Once dinner begins, the investigators are joined by Mr Theodore Rayburn-Price at their table – for some reason he was missed when the seating plan was worked out and they have space at their table. Over dinner, Mister Rayburn-Price reveals he did know Lord Brightman quite well having been friends with him for about the last ten years. He tells them that the frightening story to which Bluffstone had alluded was that of a curse. Some years ago, when Brightman was in Iraq, he had come upon a local man trying to steal a statuette from the dig site. An altercation ensued in which Lord Brightman was forced to shoot the man in self defence. As the man lay dying he thrust the statuette at Lord Brightman and told him to take it and told him he was cursed now – a curse that would make him sleep no more. Brightman had told Rayburn-Price that the curse seemed real – that he had never had a decent night’s sleep since then.
Rayburn-Price leaves the table before the desert course, but while the investigators are drinking port after dinner, he approaches them again and asks for their help. He asks them to accompany him to a room at the top of the building. Here, in privacy, he introduces them to Miss Neve Selcibuc, a young American woman. She is obviously very nervous.
Rayburn-Price explains in 1903 an expedition lead by two archaeologists, Reginald Campbell Thompson, and Leonard King undertook a dig at Nineveh in Iraq looking for the lost temple of the god Nabu. They were apparently unlucky and did not find it, but rumours have been around for a few years that they went back. Rayburn-Price can confirm these rumours – after King died in 1919, Thompson went back with an expedition that Lord Brightman was also involved in – Rayburn-Price believes this was where Lord Brightman had the experience, that Rayburn-Price described at dinner.
Miss Selcibuc takes up the story. She explains that she recently returned to London to recuperate after some unpleasant experience in Scotland and has been staying with her friends Bingo and Honoria Pinker and also met up with a good friend of hers named Archie Glossop who works – worked – at the British Museum. Glossop told her that staff at the museum were cataloging large numbers of artifacts from a dig at Nineveh – which was odd, because the last official dig at Nineveh was in 1903 and everything from that dig had been cataloged at the time. It seems likely that these have come from the more recent dig at Nineveh that Rayburn-Price has been talking about, a dig which is being kept secret – or at the very least being given no publicity at all. Glossop also told her that artifacts were being stolen – he gave her a list – and also lent her an artifact so she could, perhaps, make use of some contacts she had who might be able to determine what was going on.
She went to see a dealer in antiquities she knows, Ebenezer Allbright who told her he though the stolen artifacts must have come from the Mound of Nebu Yunus. When she showed him the artifact Archie had lent her, he inititally said it probably came from there as well, but on closer examination on a mark on its base, he seemed scared and referred to “That bastard King” and forced her from his shop.
She returned to the British Museum to report back to Archie – this was yesterday – and found the section where Archie worked cordoned off by police. Questioning revealed that Archie had been murdered. She spoke to Reginald Campbell Thompson herself but she made her excuses when he began asking her questions about her connection to Archie Glossop and why she was there.
She returned to Allbright’s shop and physically persuaded him to t ell her more of what was happening. Allbright told her that King and Thompson had found something at Nineveh and brought it back. He raved about a curse. And strange names. Miss Selcibuc found it necessary to hit him across the head with a whisky bottle to get out of the shop. And since then she’s felt like she is being followed. She has turned to Rayburn-Price for help and he has agreed to get her to a place of safety.
But he needs people who can look into what is going on. He and Miss Selcibuc are too well known at the Museum to be able to ask questions and besides she may be in some danger.
He hands them a wrapped parcel telling them that it is the artifact Glossop gave Miss Selcibuc. It seems very similar to the one that Lord Brightman had said was associated with the curse. He would like them to look into Lord Brightman’s death, and that of Archie Glossop as well and see if they are connected. He gives them a mailing address they can use to contact him. Miss Selcibuc gives them her journal – she says it explains what she has been doing for the last few weeks and perhaps it may be helpful.
The investigators agree to do what they can to help.
They examine the artifact.
It is approximately eight inches tall and seems to be made from pure gold. The statuette is of a bearded king who appears to be transforming out of a second, plainer humanoid figure. The effect is to suggest some form of divine conversion or god-like birth. There are no marks or inscriptions save for a small sigil carved on the base, which looks like a rune of some kind. Sir Malcolm has seen this mark before in his studies over the past year. It is in no human language but it was said to mean “Yul’huthris”, a being with a link to another called “Yog-Sothoth”. Looking at the relic causes a sensation of unease and it feels greasy to the touch.