Masks of Nyarlathotep
Tome The Pnakotic Manuscripts
A manuscript, 10” x 12.5” bound in pale green leather. The cover has no title, only a peculiar pentagram-like symbol, seared into the heavy bindings. The title page gives the work’s name, followed by a subtitle “As written in the so-called Pnakotik Scrolls, as translatid from the Greke by the author togeder with addicional remarkes upon that worke in the light of Newe Lerning.” The print is neat, typeset in archaic English (late Middle-English according to Dr. Kelly). A printer’s mark says “Trevisa et fils. 1496,” but the binding appears to be much more recent. Periodically plates (presumably bearing illustrations) appear to have been carefully cut from the book. Pencil annotations in modern English appear frequently in the first third of the work (usually glossing the more archaic language), but decrease in frequency afterwards.
Base read time: 45 weeks
Spell Multiplier: x2
Skimmed by Helen Coulson:
This work claims to be a translation of an otherwise unknown series of documents (The Pnakotic Manuscripts) brought to the West after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. These are said to be Greek translations of even older documents chronicling an otherwise unknown epoch of the pre-human history of Earth. The unidentified translator claims to have obtained this work, also called The Pnakotik Scrolls and The Scrolls of Pnakotus, from an unnamed refugee from the Byzantine Empire. This translation was made in conjunction with the help of another (also unnamed) Greek scholar. The body of the text is a haphazard jumble of myths outlining the history of various fabulous kingdoms and civilizations of Earth before the rise of Man (as well as other places specifically said to be not of this world).
Discussions include a catalogue of various races in residence on the Earth during the ages before man, the actions of various legendary figures, and the myriad inhuman deities worshiped by both. A final section traces the mythic history of the book itself, from fragments uncovered in some vast non-human library (the so-called “city of Pnakotus”) to the scribes of vast pre-historic human empires who consulted with improbable “others” (some sort of flying, barrel-shaped beings) in their efforts to understand the work. It seems likely that this work is a compilation of a host of mystical texts, many of which are preserved only in fragmentary form.
Read by Helen Coulson:
This book claims to be a compilation of the most ancient texts known to some prehistoric human civilization (or civilizations), called by the translator Lomar, though it is unclear if this is meant to describe a single civilization or a type of civilization. While some attempt has been made to keep the various fragments in chronological order, the translator admits the progression from most ancient to relatively more modern is a matter of conjecture. The translator also repeatedly reminds the reader of the veracity of the work and expounds at length on the history of the text he (presumably) is translating 1. A few marginal notes indicate which sections of the work were recorded in “the elder script” though no examples are given of this language.
The earliest portions discuss the earliest days of the Earth, a fragmentary chronology of the arrival and feats of various “gods” and races. A catalogue of wars between the various powers takes up much of the space, followed closely by a chaotic and incomprehensible genealogy of these various entities. Sometimes the translator will preface certain sections with discussions of other occult tomes that may clarify particularly obtuse passages or cryptic references, although these references are nearly as veiled and unclear as the original material.
Despite the vagaries of the text, the author repeatedly demonstrates uncanny (if erratic and incomplete) knowledge of history, astronomy, geology, chemistry, and biology for a 15th century writer, let alone a Byzantine scholar or even more ancient source. A passage describing the fall of the “Elder Ones” 2 civilization relates that fragments of their great cities persist “in Terra Australis or the Anti-powds” and clearly describes Antarctica (and in particular penguins) while the chronology of the passing of the book from one human civilization to another conforms more closely to modern understandings (setting aside issues like Hyperborea) than the presumably Biblical worldview of the translator’s period.
Some of the fragments differ markedly in content, discussing otherwise unknown locales such as Ulthara, Mount Hatikala, and the Sea of Cerenarae and the apparently humans resident there. It is unclear if they refer to yet another unknown pre-human civilization or some extraterrestrial location.
Certainly a more bizarre compilation of facts and legends has probably never been seen.
“And from Sykranoetia reysed Xatogia, taking the forme of a grete furred tode, he dwelled in the cavernes of Ienkae and the walkyng serpents of Ioth helde Him in grete reveraunce much to the grete anger of Yigge, the God of those beasts…”
“Myghty was the war betwixt the Elder Ones and the Dwellers in Real-yea and yet upon the endyng dayes of sayd war, the Elder Ones drew strong powyrs hild by the Spear of Neth and unmayd the verry lande of the Earth and Realyea was caste downe beneeth the wayves of the Grete Western Ocean.”
“Hyer on the sloep climmed Goode Sansu, tho the sloep of Hatikala grewe ever more steep, for he sot the Gods themsylves, sayd as they were to dwellin at the verry sumit of the Peake. But naughte was to be found there save Ice and Snowe, for the Gods dwelt ayleswere…”