Trail of Nyarlathotep

The God of Mitnal

Letter from Helen to her grandmother

Dear Grandmama -

I’m sorry it’s been so long since my last letter. You’ll be happy to know that Thomas is all recovered from that nasty stomach bug he picked up in Buenos Aires. I never did convince him to try tango dancing though. Mostly he sat at the edge of the room scowling at anyone who came near him. My quest to teach that man how to enjoy life continues…

Let us skip ahead a bit—I now find myself in Mexico. I joined doctor Sylvanus Morley on an archaeological expedition to the Yucatan. Jungle life hasn’t done wonders for my complexion, but I did see some amazing sights. Let us say that the Mayans were not understated when it came to architecture. I imagine they must have had brilliant parties.

You’ll never believe it—I got a telegram from Elizabeth Pierce on a visit to town, and suddenly the whole Paste Jewels Gang was back together again. They really are starting to feel like family. Well, perhaps not really family—I do feel very comfortable with them. As yet, none of them have exhibited the stuffiness or orders to marry an appropriate young man that I expect of true family (present company excluded, of course).

So our latest adventure started with a request from Elizabeth to meet her in the jungle with gin, lucky strikes, guns, and any information we could find about a man, Walter Kimble, who turned out to be an arms dealer. The Major came through with the guns, just as anyone would expect, but he also came well prepared with a full bar worth of supplies. I have to admit, it wouldn’t have occurred to me to throw a party in the middle of the jungle, but with the Major’s supplies, we could have. Perhaps I misjudged him.

We briefly picked up a Pinkerton tail on our way to Campeche, but Thomas scared him off so there was no fun to be had in cat and mouse. We hopped a train and got off in the middle of nowhere—just the six of us plus six burros, a diesel powered cooler, and enough booze to run a speak for days. Plus Natasha’s seemingly bottomless bag of supplies, of course.

It was evening when we got off the train, but we found a trail and decided to try to find Elizabeth before making camp. We did find her camp—or what we assumed had been her camp, but she wasn’t there and there was some blood on the ground as though there had been a struggle. Since it was full dark at that point, we decided we’d have to wait till morning to go looking for her. We did find a Mayan marker along the way with some markings about a temple to Ah Puch, the god of the dead, but I didn’t think too much about it at the time.

In the middle of the night we had quite a scare when we were awakened to lights and fog and a figure shouting at us in Spanish about Ah Puch. There was some punching and some firing of guns, and in the end we discovered that the apparitions were actually just men sent to scare us away. They told us about a gun running operation and some archaeologists from UCLA who were being held hostage at the temple complex. We decided to go investigate the next day.

Well, speaking of parties and gun running and gods of the dead…there was quite a scene at the temple complex involving about 20 Mayans, a huge temple, a human sacrifice, and a bunch of men with guns. John and I tried to sneak into the palace ruins to look for the hostages, but he made a sound, and we almost got caught. Fortunately, he happened to be standing in a pool of sunlight and the backlighting combined with his robes must have made him look like some sort of heavenly apparition. He spoke in Latin to the Mexican men with guns, gestured at the temple where the Mayans were apparently sacrificing people, and the armed men took off running. It made me laugh to think we had use their own trick against them!

After that a lot of things happened at once—a bunch of people came racing up on horseback, the Major started shooting at some of them from a position he had found in a tower, Mayans started pouring out of the temple, and I decided there was better adventure (and possibly greater longevity) to be had in looking for the hostages in the lower levels of the palace complex. Thomas and Natasha joined me, and we left John examining some unusual bas relief amid the chaos. His ability to stay calm in even the most dangerous situation is actually a bit unnerving.

Finding the hostages required some running around but was otherwise fairly uneventful. I did get to save Thomas’s life with a shot in the dark (and subsequent bandage). I don’t remember hearing any thanks for that service, but I’m trying not to take that personally. We rushed back upstairs to make sure our other friends were OK, leaving Thomas to finish checking out the lower level.

In our absence, most of the Mayans and men with guns had turned into dead bodies, but we did see that the Major and Richard were still OK and heading to the temple. John tried to point out a particularly fine example of carving as we armed the UCLA archaeologists from a crate we’d found earlier.

When Thomas didn’t re-appear promptly, Natasha and I went after him. We found some underground tunnels, and managed to pull up just in time to avoid running into a dark figure hiding in an alcove in the wall. The man hiding definitely wasn’t Thomas, and I told Natasha to kill the light. It was pitch black, and I felt a bullet go whizzing just past my head. I’ve never been so scared. It was wonderful! I had a rifle from earlier and I fired in his direction. I think I hit him, but we could still hear him coming at us. I told Natasha to turn the light back on and shine it in his eyes. Another bullet grazed my hair, and I fired again as my eyes adjusted. Again, I only grazed him. Natasha killed the light and lunged in the direction of his ankles but slid off. I struck at his head with the butt of the rifle but overbalanced, and he slipped past us both. I heard him stumble and begin to run. Natasha turned the light back on, and I took off after him, grabbing my Derringer and aiming it as I did. I fired and he finally fell down. I rushed over to triage his wounds while Natasha held the light.

Then the men showed up. Typical.

The mystery man turned out to be Walter Kimble himself—a criminal and gun runner wanted by just about every authority. So you can tell anyone you want that your grand-daughter is out fighting crime and bringing down wanted men in the Yucatan.

The rest of the story is fairly mundane—stitches, morphine, exhaustion, some reward money. I’ll spare you the details. I think I’m ready for a bit of civilization after all this time away from a bath. Natasha has invited me to New York, and I think I will take her up on it. Look for my next letter to be posted from the Big Apple.

Love and kisses,

Helen

July 1924

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