Dearest Philip,

I write this letter to you in earnest hope that it will sway you to my side and explain my recent plight. As you are undoubtedly aware, I have been incarcerated in Lord Byront's dungeon under the care of the head bishop under the charge of insanity. However, I hope that this letter will prove to you that despite how insane my ramblings may have been in recent days, they are all based in reality. Or as much in reality as possible.

You are aware that since I was a child, I suffered from long bouts of sickness and no natural remedy has presented itself to completely heal me of my ailment. I spoke with one of Lord Byront's subjects, who was well-versed in medicine, and he suggested that perhaps living from birth in the busy and cramped conditions of the castle was causing my sickness. He suggested I get out of the town and travel in the open air. At the time, the sickness was again waning, but I did keep his advice in mind in case of another bout. The sickness did return soon last month accompanied with heavy dizzy spells.

It was during one such of these spells that I decided to visit the nearby village of Eldersmith. With no more than my horse and a day's worth of provisions, I set off on my slight adventure anticipating only the relaxed and slow nature of village life. If I had known at that point what lay before me, I would have turned back immediately. I was better off with my slight sickness alone than with the memories I now have.

Upon my arrival in the village, I was warmly received by a few of the folk and the fresh air almost instantly relieved my stomach of my sickness. I dismounted my horse and allowed one of the folk there, a stout balding man of five or so decades named Kin, to take my steed and tie it before the nearby inn. The town itself, as you may have heard, is rather small and I was able to walk it within the hour.

My guide, a tall friendly woman with a tangled head of hair, eagerly pointed me to various buildings and proudly relayed to me the area's surprisingly rich history. Though Eldersmith was only founded within the last forty-odd years, the account given to me by the woman seemed to trace the area's history back to Pre-Dynastic Egypt.

The area had been conquered time and time again by various sects and cults. Most of which worshiped their eldritch deities in morbid and fanatical ways. Some of which had carved their gods into rocks on the outskirts of the town. But once I asked if I may see these carvings, the jovial tone and look of the simple woman seemed to vanish. She shook he head violently and changed the matter to Eldersmith's history within recent years.

Eventually, her high spirits did return to her and I pray that the Lord bless her and her family as she truly was a very hospitable guide and host in the quaint village. I bade her good-bye and headed for the inn where my horse had been tied, for I was feeling much better now and all traces of my sickness had vanished. However, my curiosity got the better of me and I did pass my horse to speak with the innkeeper about the rocks beyond Eldersmith.

The lean innkeeper greeted me with a weary smile and, seeing the insignia of my Lord Byront cleanly stitched upon my breast, readied me a drink. I thanked the innkeeper for the gift and he did reply to me that it was all his pleasure. Eldersmith did not get many visitors on purpose. Most were weary travelers on their way to other realms such as the ports or England. He only asked that I do return some time in the future and that I invite those of my kind, being nobility, to visit as well.

I did promise this to him, but under the condition that he answer my next question as candidly as he could. The man leaned forward and his long head bobbed up and down on his stick-like neck repeatedly as a smile played on his surprisingly thick lips. So I asked him of the rocks beyond Eldersmith's gates and where I could find them. The innkeeper became at that point paler than I thought possible for a man of his complexion. But his honor was bound and he did inform me of a man who lived just by the far east gate. His name was Derik Ritter and he was a decedent of the Germanic Visogoth Barbarians. He had arrived ten years after the founding of Eldersmith and, though he was never seen tending a garden, he always came out on the fourth day to sell his home-grown herbs and spices.

I thanked the visibly-shaken man. In an attempt to ease his shakings, I left a rather hefty amount of silver for his services even though he had insisted the drink was free. This did seem to shake him from his trance and he whole-heartedly thanked me for my generosity.

I left the inn pondering just exactly what had the people up in arms about the rocks and Derik Ritter. I untied my horse and mounted it to ride to the east gate. As I approached the gate, I could feel my sickness returning slightly and thought it was due to the sudden change of temperature as evening was drawing quickly. I rode to the east gate and noticed many of the townsfolk pausing their various duties and watching me with suspicion.

I pushed their stares from my mind and tilted my feather hat to two beautiful ladies who watched me pass. Their lack of any response filled my mind with uneasy thoughts and I did whisper a quick prayer to God concerning my keen interest in the unknown.

I approached a shack near the east gate and left my steed. I thought to myself that was the shack of the feared Derik Ritter for there was no other suitable building any closer to the gate. I approached the crooked door and lightly rapped thrice.

The door swung open and I was greeted by a tall man of slender build and extremely pale complexion. His head was void of all hair as was his face and his eyes were sunken into his head with deep dark circles haloing them. His nose was long and narrow and his mouth a barely visible slit with extremely thin lips. He was dressed in a rather queer manner; black trousers and a black jacket with some sort of white shirt with hanging black cloth about his neck. I ignored the strange man's dress and introduced myself with my customary bow as I always did: Matthew Gramond III, scribe to Lord Byront.

The tall man said nothing of an introduction of himself and instead turned to retreat within his abode. Because he did not close the door, I assumed he allowed me entrance and I followed him. Within his house there was not one chair nor were there any other rooms. There were only a desk, a queer candle with glass ball-like wick, and numerous bookcases against all the walls. Again damn my curious nature for I instantly approached the strange candle in an attempt to figure out how to light it. After a few moments of futile tries, gave up my quest and turned. To my fright, the tall man was standing right behind me, just staring at me with his deep soulless eyes.

In instinct, I slipped passed him and started casually for the door. As I did, I noticed that his ears were missing. It was as if they had been cut off and the wound cauterized as there were only slight stubs of flesh for ears and a hole on each side of his head where the outer ear should be. I quieted my fears and inquired of the stone carvings that were to date back to Pre-Dynastic Egypt's days. The tall man turned to me and withdrew a book from the nearest case without looking. I couldn't help but notice that among the books in his library, he had a copy of that detestable book, the Necronomicon. Next to that malignant title sat that book written in the language of angels that no man can understand. It seemed almost blasphemy to have the two books aside each other.

He handed me the book he had withdrawn and I looked at the title print. The title read "Diego" and I opened in despite my uncomforted with the tall man standing before me, watching me. I read the first few pages of the book and felt sick immediately. It described many disturbing things that I wish to never read about or lay eyes on again. With disgust, I slapped the book shut and handed it to the owner. Again, without turning his eyes from me, he returned the book to its rightful place with ease. Then he beckoned me to follow with one finger and I did. Oh, that I did not. Oh, how I wish and pray to the Lord that I did not even enter that man's shack!

It was not terribly dark out and the pale skin of the tall man made following him easy. It turned out the area of the stones wasn't too far from his abode. He stopped before an especially large rock and waved his hand before the boulder. With the aid of the moon, I was able to make out some of what was carved. Beasts and things of detestable appearance. Some had no heads but instead had a toothed maw that started at the shoulders. Others had basic human-like characteristics, but what their disgusting faces portrayed, I wish not to think upon. Eyes, many eyes. Sometimes four or five eyes on their heads. As my eyes scanned the intricate carvings, I did recognize some carvings resembling rudimentary humans. If these carvings were to be trusted, then these so-called gods were giants and it was no wonder they were probably worshiped.

I quickly pushed the notion that these creatures were real passed my mind. Though I believed them to be fairy tales of a long-dead hunter-gatherer culture, upon seeing them, I did have a fear of these things. A fear and a genuine belief deep down in the very fabric of my being that these were, and are, indeed real. The hand of Derik Ritter returned me to reality and the place where I was.

I turned to the slender man and thanked him for taking me to this place. Even though I felt sick, the man did do what I had asked and some thanks was necessary. Then I looked at his face. Oh, horror upon horrors, there is no action I took that day that I regret more! I looked Derik Ritter in the face, but there was no face! There was only a blank. The moment I stared the tall man in the face, my sanity seemed to drain instantly. I could feel something clawing, pulling at my mind. I opened my eyes and saw that Derik Ritter had grown even taller and there were…waving…things coming from his back. And his face, oh, God, that face. I will remember it for the rest of my life. There was no face! No features at all! It was as if he were wearing a mask! His arms reached for me and I felt my eyesight fading.

I blinked rapidly and found myself in daylight by the sea, but not by any sea I recognized. I relaxed a bit and took in my surroundings. Had it all been a dream? Some sort of malignant nightmare brought about by my chronic sickness or some bad food? Unfortunately I would soon realize that this was now the start of the nightmare.

I turned from the shore and nearly fainted as I saw many giant glass towers. They seemed to be reaching for the heavens and scraping the sky. Some of their tips extended beyond the clouds. A cacophony of noise blared from these sky castles and in anxiety, I turned my head and clasped my hands over my ears. But it didn't stop the sights.

I saw a gray island city. It was moving to any point within the ocean and great mechanical birds roosted within this city and coexisted with people who seemed to be slaves to them. The people cared for the birds and kept them fed in return for rides that seemed to go on forever at incomprehensible speeds. From the bellies of these birds fell eggs that started great fires wherever they fell and from their mouth came loud noises and death.

I saw what had become of horses. They had evolved into beasts with rounded legs and no head. From their front light seemed to just appear and their neighing was loud and constant. There were many breeds, some seemed to be more recognizable in shape but they only had two legs and their hooves were replaced with wheels and the pain seemed to make them whine even louder than their four-footed brothers.

I watched as wars ravaged the planets. Man fought not with swords but with bows that seemed to have amazingly long range and unlimited arrows. I do not believe even our best archers could achieve such speeds. The horses and mechanical foul also now took part in war, spewing death and fire from their bellies and mouths upon the land.

In fear, I screamed for God and turned from the scene as much as I could but I was surrounded by the visions of war. In utter terror, I shut my eyes in an attempt to shut out the sights. But as soon as I had my eyes closed, there appeared the tall faceless man in the dark; his pale head before me and drawing ever farther as his long limbs reached for me. I screamed in terror once more at the image of Derik Ritter.

The claws in my head left me and felt my legs give out under me. The scenes faded from my eyes and I fell to my knees before the tall man. I eventually regained my senses and found myself again by the large boulder of carvings in the dark. Off to my left I could see Eldersmith quiet and dark. I hung my head again and saw two black shoes before me and knew Derik Ritter was still before me, watching me.

With a frantic cry I stumbled up and ran for my horse. I dared to look back and saw the tall man just standing, watching. But what gave me a greater shock was the boulder. The boulder of carvings was no natural rock at all. Instead it was now obvious that it had been at one time part of a larger, much grander statue. Perhaps an idol to one of the carvings it held. I left Eldersmith, never looking back.

I have told my tale to a few others, and that is the reason for my predicament. Placed in a cell under the care of the bishop and deemed insane, I am writing to you as a man of God and a man of science. I know what I saw was real. Those in the town told me he sold spices, but what happened to me was in no way instigated by any leaves of the good earth. I only ask that you return to Eldersmith and search for yourself. Do not let me rot in this prison for telling the truth! Darik Ritter is responsible for my shattered sanity and though I am partly to blame for ignoring the warning signs of the folk of Eldersmith, I could not have known the perils that one tall man could create for me.

Find Derik Ritter and kill him. Please

Matthew Gramond III

Former scribe to Lord Byron