"That which I have awaked and borne away with me, I may not part with again. So is it written in the Book of Hidden Things. That which I have willed to be has twined its dreadful shape around me, and–if I live not to do the bidding–around those children born and unborn who shall come after me, until the bidding be done. Strange may be their joinings, and awful the aid they may summon till the end be reached. Into lands unknown and dim must the seeking go, and a house must be built for the outer guardians.
"This is the key to that lock which was given me in the dreadful, eon-old and forbidden city of Yian-Ho; the lock which I or mine must place upon the vestibule of That Which is to be found. And may the Lords of Yaddith succor me–or him–who must set that lock in place or turn the key thereof."
Such was the message–a message which, once I had read it, I seemed to have known before. Now, as I write these words, the key is before me. I gaze on it with mixed dread and longing, and cannot find words to describe its aspect. It is of the same unknown, subtly greenish frosted metal as the lode; a metal best compared to brass tarnished with verdigris. Its design is alien and fantastic, and the coffin-shaped end of the ponderous bulk leaves no doubt of the lock it was meant to fit The handle roughly forms a strange, non-human image, whose exact outlines and identity cannot now be traced. Upon holding it for any length of time I seem to feel an alien, anomalous life in the cold metal–a quickening or pulsing too feeble for ordinary recognition.
Below the eidolon is graven a faint, eon-worn legend in those blasphemous, Chinese-like hieroglyphs I have come to know so well. I can make out only the beginning–the words: "My vengeance lurks . . ."–before the text fades to indistinctness. There is some fatality in this timely finding of the key–for tomorrow night comes the hellish Sabbat. But strangely enough, amidst all this hideous expectancy, that question of the Sleght name bothers me more and more. Why should I dread to find it linked with the van der Heyls?
The time has come. I waked last night to see the key glowing with a lurid greenish radiance–that same morbid green which I have seen in the eyes and skin of certain portraits here, on the shocking lock and key, on the monstrous menhirs of the hill, and in a thousand other recesses of my consciousness. There were strident whispers in the air–sibilant whistlings like those of the wind around that dreadful cromlech. Something spoke to me out of the frore æther of space, and it said, "The hour falls." It is an omen, and I laugh at my own fears. Have I not the dread words and the Seven Lost Signs of Terror–the power coercive of any Dweller in the cosmos or in the unknown darkened spaces? I will no longer hesitate.
The heavens are very dark, as if a terrific storm were coming on–a storm even greater than that of the night when I reached here; nearly a fortnight ago. From the village, less than a mile away, I hear a queer and unwonted babbling. It is as I thought–these poor degraded idiots are within the secret, and keep the awful Sabbat on the hill.
Here in the house the shadows gather densely. In the darkness the sky before me almost glows with a greenish light of its own. I have not yet been to the cellar. It is better that I wait, lest the sound of that muttering and padding–those slitherings and muffled reverberations–un-