To: Samuel Crane
From: Jason Frost
Subject: Further material for #1884 - 5
All entries pertaining to Eugene Smith's account of the Goliath construct take place within 1884 and are to be cross-referenced with reports made by Captain Edward Fawkes concerning the death of his third crew (Report #43 according to the old indexing system, and #1884 - 5 under the new catalog. If other relevant documents are found at a later date they are to be filed, or re-filed under the new system). The journal entries listed below have been copied and archived with permission from Robert Smith, eldest surviving descendant (legal documentation on the matter should be filed with these entries.
The following entries are taken from the journal of Eugene Smith (1857 - 1914)
It has been a month since we originally set out from Independence. Much of that time has been spent either in the saddle or belly down on the ground observing. I'm thankful that my initial fears of disagreements and or violence sparked by Bell's African ancestry and Yuri's supposed allegiance to the Confederacy have so far been unfounded. Regardless, it seemed advantageous to get an agreement amongst our entire party to agree to leave politics, religion, and other equally sensitive topics unspoken for the duration. Are we not, after all, here for a common cause?
Beyond the mundane and routine problems that arise from any trip of this length, broken equipment, occasional grumbling, and other minor issues; our luck has been favorable and kind. The plains have met us with their gentle and expansive beauty. Our base camp is in good order and well provisioned. Hunting has been tolerable, though consisting exclusively of small game till this point. We will take what we can get, but given the price of Buffalo hides back east I would prefer these great lumbering beasts to our current fare.
There have, as yet, been no sign of Indian activity in these parts; for which I am truly grateful. We are in their territory and hunt the same animals they make their livelihood off of. Though I fully understand and sympathize with their desire to be left alone and to keep outsiders at bay, for they have made a living off of this land for longer than any of our families have existed on this continent and view us, rightly so in my opinion, as invaders. Having said this and feeling as I do I still must continue in my current efforts, for this work has proven to be the only thing I find myself both capable of as a means to earn a living, and enjoy doing.
Its been three days since I've written last and do so now to record that we have sighted a heard of Buffalo. I wish I were capable of drawing, or that Thomas could be convinced to reproduce the scene. As soon as the horses have been readied Yuri, bell, and myself shall follow the herd close while the rest of our party follows at a far slower pace due to the need to carry the mules, supplies, extra provisions, and the general necessities should we be fortunate enough to fall any of the massive creatures.
Yuri and I discuss what had brought us out here while Bell was tending the horses. Yuri, it seems, had grown disillusioned with those that continued to try reviving the Confederacy. When pressed he cited that those that claimed to pine for the way things were had degenerated from the ideals of proper conduct and, while blaming their sorry lot on everything but themselves, took their anger and frustrations out on the colored population. He admitted to possessing slaves and showed no remorse for having done so, for that was how things were at the time. While he admits that he was wrong in doing so, he had done what he could to give those that worked under him the best care he had available to him.
At some point during Yuri's explanation Bell had returned. Not wanting him to feel left out I had asked for his take on the matter. His reply struck me both as genuinely unexpected, and yet at the same time it feels profoundly fitting so I leave his exact words here for the sake of posterity.
"The buying and selling of human families is immoral and sinful, but it would be equally immoral and sinful for me to do anything but ask that they seek forgiveness for what they have done and do my best to not seek retribution for events no man can change."
These views summed up my two companions nicely. The conflict I had feared might come about seems to have no chance at materializing and, so far as I can tell, the two men seem to get along quite well with each other. This relieves me, since hearing improbable and tawdry tales around the fire at night, and good-natured banter during the day is most preferable to the alternative.
We sit hunkered in the darkness dumbfounded and in awe of the apparitions clashing amid the storm. I know not if we share some sickness or madness, but each agrees that we are seeing the same things. So I continue to record these events despite never being able to share this experience with the wider world for fear of being declared mad and locked away from society.
What we first took for a giant statue, or monument left for reasons unknown, has been boarded by no less than a dozen men, possibly more for I was alerted to this activity midway through their efforts. After these men entered the misshapen figure through an opening in its hind section it rose from its crouching position, extending and flexing misshapen elongated arms, smoke billowing from its mouth, and loped across the plains on all four of its limbs. It appears man-shaped, though its legs appear far shorter and uniformly thick, and its arms reach down, in my estimates, to below its knees were this impossible construct to stand to its full height. This feat, in my opinion, is an impossibility because of the large cannons, which Yuri insists are naval guns, though I fail to see the distinction between the two terms, mounted one over each shoulder blade and seemingly able to use the shoulder joints themselves to pivot and aim.
Yuri and I both agree that if these cannon are functional rather than decorative the behemoth's purpose as a war machine is plain as day. Where we disagree is on who would be capable of its construction, or even gathering the money needed to buy the materials for its construction. He believes that it is a weapon the Union army had created, much as it had created the Monitor, but I disagree. While the Ironclads are an impressive and terrifying sight, they pale in both difficulty of construction and ability to induce fear as what lay ahead of us.
Perhaps an hour has passed since the Giant had started moving, and though it advances towards us I gain no sense that it even notices our presence here. Its movements remain a mystery as we seek shelter from a fierce storm that's blown from all around us. Our horses are frightened and, despite Bell's best efforts and years as a horse handler neither Yuri nor myself wish to approach. The tether that keeps them from running should hold despite their efforts. I hope it does, since I don't look forward to having to walk back to camp and I fear how the others, seeing our horses running fearful and riderless, would react.
More time has passed, the horses finally calmed and beginning to settle despite the wind, and we've caught sight of what the Goliath construct is here for. When I first saw it I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me, it has always been my experience that birds do not fly in this weather, yet all of us agree it was out there. As I watched it dive and claw at the iron beast, which produced little if any reaction, I tried to take note of its features in hopes of asking any friendly natives we might come across at a later time.
Even taking into account I'm unsure of how far the combatants were this bird had to be large, as big if not larger than, a draft horse and covered in strange feathers. Look at it once when the lightning flashes and they might be so dark as to be black. Look again and they might be the color of dried blood. This, however, could simply be a trick of the eye, but I include it here for the sake of completeness. The plumage around its head and neck appears to be either a very pale yellow, or possibly white, and similar colored feathering along its chest and one or two white feathers within its tail. Its beak, shaped like a predatory bird's is a dull yellow and, again this could simply be tricks of the mind or the eye, seemingly filled with sharp backward slanting teeth.
Despite its wicked claws and doubtlessly sharp beak, this creature scarcely made a mark on the iron creature. However ineffective its attacks might have been it had to fend off attacks 'against swats from its opponent's arms, blows that if they had connected I am certain would have snapped the great bird like so much kindling. Now it tries going for the 'head', digging its claws into the great beast's neck to gain purchase while it flapped its wings furiously into the hellish maw of its opponent. This prompted what sounded like the billowing of a heard of enraged bulls before a giant hand slapped against the bird's chest in an attempt to pry it loose.
Bell has the spyglass now, leaving me unable to tell what exactly is going on. In a way this is a blessing, as it forces me to focus on the sounds the great and terrible combatants make. Though their noises are surely muffled and obscured by the thunderstorm overhead; the clatter and screaming of iron, animal, and nature must sound like the coming of demons from Hell by anyone and everyone that isn't either deaf as a post, or dead. Yuri and I exchanged glances. For the time being we were well removed from the fighting, but that could well change at a moment's notice. Should we flee? Sense, common or otherwise, screams that we should run as far as our horses will carry us, then keep running once they've dropped dead. We must, however, observe as long as possible if only to warn others of what may end up at their front doors. They won't believe us, not till whole towns start getting slaughtered by giants such as these.
Is that thunder? No. That's not thunder. It sounds different, and I feel it is a more ominous noise that seems to come from the vicinity of where the twin colossi battle. Yuri, after taking the spyglass from Bell, has informed the rest of us that the Goliath has begun firing on the bird. His voice sounds contemptuous as he explains the futility of trying to hit something that agile and relatively small in these conditions even with cannon shot, which he informs me the beast is likely not firing.
Lightning. The bird, I'm sure it is responsible for this storm as well, has somehow called lightning down on its foe. One strike would have been enough to rend most homes sundered and ablaze. Yet here this iron monstrosity was being subjected to repeated strikes, one right after the other such that the thunder produced has left our ears ringing and, most likely temporarily, deaf to any other noise. The giant does not move, as surely the men inside that animate it have been rendered into charred and burnt masses by this point. Poor souls all of 'em, whoever they are. They might have been in the wrong here, maybe, maybe not. This is no way to die though, stuffed in with over a dozen other men in the hot confines of a strange beast, sweating and swearing, as they surely must be within the iron monster's gut.
Minutes pass. The bird circles its inert opponent and even at one point perches on it to peer down the gullet of its mouth. The storm begins to clear, possibly having served its purpose or possibly for reasons known only to the divine. The ringing in our ears subsides and we give thanks that our injuries were only temporary. After tending to the horses, making sure they were still unharmed and being thankful that they were, we begun to make ready to leave this place lest the great bird decided we were somehow connected to the iron Goliath. That is, at the very least, what we had intended to do, but that idea was soon abandoned when we heard a great bellowing. The closest I can describe the noise is as a low long train whistle. However this comparison does not do justice to the scale and hair raising qualities of this noise. Our horses streaked and reared, my hair stood on end, and there was a general sense of dread.
Yuri demanded the spyglass, which was given to him with shaky hands. I apologize;I've been trying to recount these events now that we've settled down to, hopefully, obscurity. Unfortunately I'm not sure how to proceed. Between the lightning, thunder, what I believe is more canon fire, and my already frayed nerves I'm unsure if I've made myself clear. Why does it matter if I'm the only one that will read these words? I don't know, I just want; just...just...need to make myself think straight. Yuri's handed the glass off to me and I'm scarcely sure what to write.
The iron beast is on its hind limbs, one of the great cannons on the ground slightly behind it. The other cannon appears to be held by its muzzle in the giant's enormous hands; apparently it cannot fire the thing, so seems to use the weapon as a makeshift club. It emitted another ear shattering banshee wail as it charged its foe, weapon swishing through the air wildly. Its entire posture and how it moves has changed, as if I were watching a wholly different creature. Where its movements were slow and methodical prior were now smooth, graceful in the same way a seasoned pugilist's movements can be graceful and brutal all in the same instance.
I've no thought or notion on how this is possible, for anyone even remotely near to the creature when it was struck should have died from the experience. Maybe the men served to restrain the beast in some fashion, to yoke its rage for their wishes. If this is true, now that they are dead, it has nothing restraining its actions. I've never heard of such a thing, I've never seen anything remotely like this, and I have no clue whatsoever if my reasoning is sound, but somehow it fits what I've seen and what I'm likely to see in my nightmares the rest of my days.
It is the only idea I have at this moment, and like everything else that has happened within the past evening it fills me with a sense of dread and loathing like I've scarcely felt before. I hope this thought is wrong and that the men I saw climb into the iron beast still control its movements. However what kind of men would wish to go about in such a creation? I hope they are moral men and that they wield the beast's power for the greater good rather than personal greed or glory.
There is a great shrieking from all about, but was centered on the two combatants. At first I thought it came from the iron gholem, but then I realized it was coming from somewhere above the fighting. It is then that I heard Bell's screams insisting that we had to leave. I barely heard him though, as my mind was running through every prayer for shelter and salvation I could recall.
The shrieking grew in volume and lowered in pitch as the funnel cloud formed and descended. The twister was bigger than any I'd seen before; it was easily as thick as five men from my perspective, and surely the actual thickness was enough to lift a home in its entirety. The horses screamed, broke the ropes and managed to render much of our camp site into ruins before we could get them under control. I couldn't blame their wanting to be anywhere but here. However what use would running be? We wouldn't be able to outrun it if it came our way, and I agree with Bell in that it surely was something the bird had summoned up as a final attempt to stave off its attacker.
What happened after this I cannot say because the tornado obscured what is happening. However at one point I saw something that surely was the cannon the giant was carrying being thrown followed soon by the bird exiting the funnel from a different direction only to dart into the maelstrom as soon as it could regain its foreword momentum. Minutes passed with nothing visible save for the roaring and whirling Finger of God not moving, not lessening in intensity, just hovering there.
What caused the funnel to dissipate I'm unsure, but I saw the iron giant fall to earth, one massive hand clinching the bird by one of its legs, preventing its escape. It then began beating its opponent about the neck and chest with its free hand till impact. Even with its body partway sunken into the ground the giant refused to lessen its grip and, even as it made efforts to rise, swung the bird about. For its part the great bird could only squawk and shriek as it was slammed and slung against the earth.
Eventually the iron beast had to release its grip on the bird in order to pry itself loose from the ground. I saw that the great bird lay broken, crying out plaintively as its body, clearly broken with its limbs laying at odd angles, lay out there unable to rise. My companions as well as myself feel pity, even if this creature would have devoured us if it had the chance nothing and no one should have to suffer enough to make the sounds that come from this broken creature. It seems that its adversary feels much the same, for, after it somehow re-attached both guns to its back lifted the bird again and, with a force that is surely unequaled by anything Man or Nature can produce, slammed it against the ground such that we felt the tremors even from where our the remnants of pitiful camp had been made.
The sunrise after the storm broke is one that I will treasure above all others as long as I live. We've all survived the ordeal intact physically, though I suspect each of my companions will suffer nightmares, as I surely will for years to come. Camp, what little of it hasn't been ripped to pieces by the horse's panic and the intensity of the storm, has been packed away. We didn't see the giant beast's departure, but neither it nor its foe were anywhere to be seen; the only evidence that the events of last night had actually taken place was to be found in the land itself.
It's entirely possible we're doing this to reassure ourselves that it was no hallucination, possibly out of misplaced curiosity, we've agreed to ride out to where the iron beast fought hoping to find... I can not say, conformation that we aren't mad and that what we saw actually happened, or do we seek conformation that things that things such as these do not, and I hope to God above cannot, exist? God help me I don't know which will be worse. If giants such as these inhabit the west in great numbers, then perhaps it is in our best interests that we remain east of these plains.
This raises the obvious and inevitable question, which Bell voiced to Yuri and myself when he asked, and I quote, 'Why haven't we heard of these beasts before?' I have an idea on that, but right now I must put my pen aside till after we've inspected the battlefield. Perhaps such things are common out here, but due to their unusual nature and the fact nothing that comes close to this happens anywhere else causes everyone who's witnessed such events to remain silent, lest they be considered mad.
It could also be that events such as these provide the inspirations for dime novels and the origins of hearsay and legend the world over. Maybe these things truly aren't as uncommon as I believe them to be. It could be that events such as we've witnessed lay at the heart of old stories of pagan deities, giants, dragons, and other such creatures of myth. Should I feel more, or less, reassured by this thought?
My thoughts will remain on this question while we ride out to inspect where we think the two giants fought. God have mercy on your poor foolish servants, for that will be the only way we shall survive if we somehow encounter either of these hellish beasts.
After inspecting the site of the battle, we've collectively decided that the great rents in the ground; some of these like the dents a man's boot would make in the ground on a scale, others remind me more of what happens when a heavy log or other massive weight impacts. The former having a deeper impression at one place, where the majority of the weight settles. The other being a more evenly deep impression where any variations in depth would be explained away by the object that fell being less dense in those places. Strange how observations made when you're a child come back later in life.
Though in this instance I'm grateful for the recollection as I'm not much at tracking or surviving outside of civilization, and neither of my companions are capable of tracking outside of keeping what they're after in their line of sight. Granted this is something of a handicap, but facts being what they are it isn't terribly difficult to spot or follow a herd of Buffalo. I realize I'm losing focus and wandering off track, but to be frank I'm unsure what to record beyond it looking like a giant had tumbled and flailed about, making great dents and tears in the prairie grasses. I wander about, book held in the crook of my left arm and wandering about the site aimlessly till I hear Bell's shouts.
He's found an Indian woman in a mass of flattened and bloodied grasses. On approaching her I at first think she is merely sleeping then realize, once I see how sharp an angle her neck is bent, that she's dead. She appeared quite young; she couldn't have been older than her early teens by my guess, and in the way of most Indian women quite lovely. Strange that she would be here, stranger still that if she had died as a result of the giants duel that she is even recognizable rather than being a great and bloody smear across the earth. We cannot leave her like this; Yuri became quite insistent on this; even going so far as to threaten to fire on us if we do not give her as decent a burial as possible.
Thankfully there's plenty of rents and loose soil about to cover her over with a mound of earth, hopefully deep enough to prevent the local scavengers from getting at the body. Before we covered her over each of us left her a token to take with her into the hereafter. It saddened Yuri we cannot find her family, but given the impracticalities and impossibility of this we've agreed this is the best that can be done for her.
We arranged her in one of the larger rips in the soil so that she would appear, if you didn't look too closely, that she was sleeping. After puzzling at the snapped and broken jewelry that had fallen away from her in the process of relocating the body we did what we gathered as much of it as we could then left it in a pile at the center of her chest, covered over with her hands.
Yuri placed his short brimmed cap and lain it over her face. Bell added his tobacco pouch to the pile of broken jewelry. I wracked my mind for something to add before finally recalling something that I had heard was supposedly a prayer from tribes that lived in these parts. I don't know if this is true, or if it came from her people if it is but, even though its only a fragment, I find it fitting so leave a folded note between the fingers of her left hand.
'Make me ever ready to come to you with straight eyes, So that when life fades as the fading sunset, May my spirit come to you without shame.'
After we did these things and Yuri said a prayer on her behalf we covered her over with dirt. At first we simply shoved, with the sides of our feet, the raised up portions of dirt around the body. When this dirt was exhausted, we took off our shirts, begin filling them with dirt, and dumping these bundles over where the mound was taking shape until we felt that she was properly covered. Farewell lady of the plains. I do not know who you were or if there was any connection between you and what we saw last night, but I am sorry that you died as young as you did.
As a personal request I would like to investigate Eugene Smith's apparent connection with Kobayashi Saburo, otherwise known as Doctor Zeus. I feel that it isn't coincidence that this man was mixed up with Saburo. Unfortunately this journal ends August 1884 and, even though I feel more records exist, I have been blocked at every turn by Eugene's living relatives. Without further resources I fear we may lose out here.
Investigator 3rd class
To: Jason Frost
From: Samuel Crane
Subject: Regarding Kobayashi Saburo
After much deliberation and debate between myself, my superiors, and other interested parties, I must decline your request to follow up on the Saburo case. All files and materials directly pertaining to him are currently classified Eyes Only. I regret this as I also wish a further investigation of the man's history and the possibility he survived events of 1899. However my hands are tied and neither of us are to bring the matter up again under pain of imprisonment, and by the heavy hinting I had been given, Death.
Archivist 5th division