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Ave Terrible

Through the ruins

Following the tragic deaths of Professor Villamon and Chicha Guapo, Rachel and Monty return to the village of Cahuachi. Their bad news is met not only by the wailing of the villagers, but by aggravation on the part of Dr. Robert Logsdon, who had traveled to Cahuachi in the hopes of obtaining an artifact from Dr. Villamon. Villamon’s trusted manservant refuses to allow Logsdon to rifle through Villamon’s possessions, particularly in light of the growing mystery surrounding the activities at the ruins. Monty’s description of the attack of Ave Terrible inspires Logsdon to brag about his ability to vanquish or expose “monsters” in the native villages, and Villamon’s assistant demands that Logsdon stay for a week to assist Monty and Rachel in their investigation at the ruins in exchange for being allowed to search Villamon’s hut and artifacts for the object he seeks.

Logsdon is accompanied by his sherpa, Enrique – another member of the Guapo family.

The party of four sets out for the Cahuachi ruins early in the morning, approaching from the northeast hill instead of from the southwest ground area, toward area 10 on Villamon’s map. From above, the ruins appear undisturbed — there is no evidence that any activity occurred there the day before, least of all an epic battle for survival. Rachel reports that she hears the sound of wingbeats, but the others do not; later, Monty sees a bird-shaped shadow darken the ground on which they stand, but the sky is empty of any objects or movement. Guapo reports that he hears the sound of running water, which is strange here in the desert. He says it sounds like it comes from below them.

Equal parts curious and emboldened, and acquiescing to Rachel’s deep desire to get under cover and out of the open, the adventurers return to the stairway where they made their original ascent.

Guapo is instructed to stay outside and hold one end of the 250 feet of rope to which Monty ties himself, and the three first explore the room furthest to their right. More of them can hear this water-like noise, although it sounds more like rushing air upon inspection, and once they are about 40 feet inside the cave, a huge clutch of bats flies past them and out into the broad daylight. They find little else, and no markings on the walls inside. When they come back and speak with Guapo, he reports that the bats exited the cave and flew straight upward into the sky until they were no longer visible.

The adventurers next approach the eroded spaces that outwardly resemble the area where their encounter occurred the day before. What appear to be two caves are actually connected on the interior by a short wall which is carved with linear geoglyphic designs. The cave continues backward with no apparent end.

As the aventurers proceed, they note that the floor and walls become quite smooth and slope downward at a fairly aggressive angle. About 100 feet into the cave they encounter a raised dais, perhaps 2 feet high on the uphill side and six feet high on the downhill side. Atop the dais are many bones, smooth and bleached, and three knives resembling the one that Monty recovered from an attacker the day before. All four knives have approximately 8 to 10 inch long blades and handles with star-shaped linear designs that Monty realizes resemble the early drawings of Ave Terrible. While the bones are clearly human and most of them are not damaged in any visible way, there are no skulls here. It is also interesting that in this environment, bones are not typically cleaned of flesh, but rather mummify with the body intact.

Closer examination of the dais reveals that its sides are decorated with highly stylized (early period) drawings of the Ave Terrible and a winged killer whale, both carrying whole men in their jaws and with their wings and fins lined with additional human heads. These drawings alternate around the dais. When Rachel takes a photograph of the bones and knives in situ, it is revealed that the ceiling of the cave is at least 30 feet high and smooth all around. Further, light is visible further down, not of an artificial or flame nature, but apparently natural and with the quality of twilight.

At approximately the 225 foot mark on the rope, the party can make out the exit from this tunnel-cave. The light outside is dim but natural much like the previous day’s encounter. It is then that they hear the screech of Ave Terrible, and realize that through the exit, it appears they can see the Cahuachi ruins of the day before. Shortly thereafter, something large falls to the ground at the mouth of the cave — clearly a body. Monty adds another 50 feet of rope to his line and approaches; upon closer examination, it is the body of Professor Villamon. His head is still attached. Monty moves forward to recover the body, and as he grasps Villamon’s clothing, Ave Terrible lands at the cave mouth. Monty successfully dodges the bird and pulls Villamon’s body back with him. The bird cannot enter the cave, although the light from the exit is blocked out when the bird lowers its gigantic head to peer inside. Rachel tries, but fails, to take a photograph of the bird’s legs in the exit.

The party flees the exit of the cave while carrying Villamon’s body. He is quite dead, and a large gaping wound in his torso suggests that he was completely pierced through by the giant bird’s claws. They successfully exit and return to Cahuachi as night falls, with Villamon’s body as proof that they were not the source of the treachery that ended his life.

Their return to Cahuachi is met with fear and fascination. The villagers cannot bury Villamon this evening, as they have no materials with which to shroud him for his mummification in a shared burial hole. (Typically, the villagers begin weaving a burial shroud for a person on the date of the person’s birth.)

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Journey to Cahuachi
After the jungle, a dry respite

A letter from Dr. Thurston

Dear Professor Edwards,

I received word from the Dean of Miskatonic University that you were on extended expedition in the nation of Peru, when I inquired as to your health at a recent conference. Consequently, when I received a letter from Alfred Louis Kroeber, esteemed archaeologist and cultural anthropologist from New York University (now based in California), asking for my opinion of a discovery his Peruvian counterparts had told him about, it occurred to me that you might be interested in making some firsthand observations while you are on the southern continent.

I have enclosed his notes herein, along with a letter of authorization from the Dean at Miskatonic to use the University’s resources at your disposal to return to me with a preliminary report, which we can publish under joint authorship in a future journal.

— Francis Wayland Thurston
Professor of Anthropology, Boston University

Enclosure: The notes of Alfred Louis Kroeber, as relating to the Cahuachi site, Pacific Coastal Pamas Region, near Ica, Peru

  • A site of approximately 370 acres, comprising mounded hills carved into strange geometric shapes, has been under investigation in the area now known as Cahuachi in the Pampas desert in Peru.
  • I have identified a number of fascinating geometric and linear geoglyphic constructions of truly fantastical scale, apparently carved directly into the ground near (all around, but not within) the ancient site at Cahuachi.
  • A great variety of cultural influences, art styles, and apparent food sources seemed to be present at this site, whose organization suggests a vast cultural and ceremonial center, until the end of what we now designate the Nasca 4 cultural period. Subsequent to Nasca 4, the site not only contains a monoculture of mostly very similar pottery, art, and textile forms indicating the presence of a single cultural group, but its entire focus shifts.
  • Cahuachi transformed, almost overnight, into a vast ritual burial ground. The pyramids, originally symmetrical and beautiful in their design, became increasingly angular and asymmetrical. Evidence of the collection of trophy heads from human sacrifices began to appear, and different body parts are buried in different areas around the temple in the later excavations. At the same time, the Nazca people dispersed across the Pampas, taking with them their unique cultural artifacts and influences. Those who moved to the northwest appear to have developed vast geoglyphs portraying various natural forms. There is also significant recurrence in all cultures beginning with Nasca 4 of what we are calling the Horrible Bird – an iconic aviary creature that appears to consume human beings hole, and who is frequently portrayed with severed heads in its mouth.
  • We theorize that this Horrible Bird is in some way related to the radical shift in culture and activity at Cahuachi. What we know for certain is that the culture did not survive more than a few decades beyond this dispersal, and we seek to determine what might have befallen this once vast culture, which seems to have disappeared almost entirely even before the Incas invaded.

My colleague at Ica, Dr. Antonio Villamon, will be happy to assist you or your designees further if you see fit to attend the site and help us identify the cause of the Nasca 4 peoples’ demise.

My kindest professional courtesies,
Dr. Alfred Louis Kroeber

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