(The Dark God of Dark Hill)
Chapter One. Johann Eric von Juntz
Like father, like son
Since 1860, there has been no stir around Freihausgarten, Germany. That was the year when a certain friar named Father Franz Morbeus of the Orthodox Kirche von Deutschland (German Orthodox Church) disbanded and expelled the original cultists from Dunkelhügel (Dark Hill). The cult was a group of toad-like humanoids who worshipped and served a dark and strange deity called Cyäegha. Cyäegha was a hitherto unknown deity of prehistoric and ‘pagan’ civilizations. Dunkelhügel and the farming village of Freihausgarten are near to each other. Since the expulsion of the original cult, the founders of the village have marked the case as solved and closed the book on it.
In 1870, occult researcher and author Friedrich von Juntz recorded whatever data were available on the cult, which seemed rather scanty, and titled his entry “Der Kult von der Dunkel Gott” (The Cult of the Dark God). After he concluded his study and added the entry to his renowned text, Unaussprechlichen Kulten (Nameless Cults), Friedrich returned to his home of Buch am Rhein and his young and pretty wife Hilde. He left his research as legacy for his heir apparent, Johann Eric.
Johann Eric developed a keen interest in the occult like his father since his 18th birthday, and Friedrich was very proud but Hilde von Juntz worried that he would take after his father. Johann’s ventures into the occult began with his dreams, which he recorded as vividly as he could on the morning after each one. More than once, Johann had ventured off to the dreamlands and several times he had met with Randolph Carter, who guided him. He once met with King Kuranes, who built his city of Celephaïs from cloths and was refutably a great dreamer.
However, since only his father would understand, and appreciate, these dreams, Johann Eric told nobody else about them. When he had attained his twentieth year, Johann Eric von Juntz was as strong-willed and as curious as his father. His mother had to wash her hands of him at last.
"Was auch immer sein wird, sein wird. Ich verlasse dein Schicksal zu Gott. "
[“Whatever will be, will be. I leave your fate to God.”]
The following year, near the date of his birth, Johann Eric von Juntz made an excursion to Freihausgarten. Freihausgarten was in fact a simple farming village but the residents were rumored to be the descendants of the cult and they maintained a powerful attraction to the mountain and its contents. Those who possessed the lineage went to the mountain to practice the rites; the others shunned the place, although they had not the vaguest idea what was happening there..
Johann Eric von Juntz arrived late on a Friday night, which was actually a night of worship by the cultists. One after another, the cultists arrived at the foot of Dark Hill. They assembled and finally erected a small cottage in which to perform the rites abovementioned. Johann Eric hid from them as best he could and watched them surreptitiously. That first night proved fortunate. The cult neither saw nor heeded him.
Sometimes we should let sleeping gods lie
Johann Eric von Juntz was less fortunate on his second expedition to Dunkelhügel the following Friday. To begin, the cult had assembled there en masse. He overlooked that the cult drew its vitality from the sleeping creature in Black Hill and that when it awakens, it has and displays a terrible temper. When he arrived at Freihausgarten that week, set to investigate the cult and Cyäegha, the cult eventually discovered him. They had gathered at their cottage to invoke the god and found him slithering about.
"Schauen Sie! Es ist ein Fremder hier! "
[“Look! There is a stranger here!”]
„Er muss von der Regierung werden!“
[“He must be from the government!’]
Johann Eric von Juntz tried to deny the charge but they refused to believe him. Eventually, they chased him from the premises with threats of murder if they found him again. A cluster of black clouds gathered over the summit of Dunkelhügel, and a thunderstorm of considerable magnitude erupted; however, some of the lightning streaks either rebounded or were deflected into the sky and into the clouds that issued them. For ten minutes, the sky was illuminated and then the storm abated. A crevasse in the slope above the cottage appeared and two long black tentacles emerged. After that, other tentacles of varying lengths and widths emerged. At last, the body of the creature emerged.
Within moments the cult had felt its strength and vitality refresh and some of them wanted to find and assassinate Johann Eric von Juntz. Johann Eric von Juntz meanwhile had left Freihausgarten as far behind him as he could. He reached the town of Koblenz and assumed a new name there; then, he booked a room for three nights. However, the cult had learned of his location and two of the cultists headed for the town. At 8 PM the fourth night, they found him as he was returning to his room from a late dinner—and killed him.
News of Johann Eric von Juntz’s murder eventually spread throughout the Rhineland and reached across the country to Hamburg. When the news reached there, a young woman technician and freelance news reporter from the United States, by name of April O’Neil, was visiting the University of Hamburg.
April felt blue over the dilemma of being continuously sterile and hoped that the University of Hamburg Medical College would deliver her. She booked a flight on Lufthansa International Airlines from Los Angeles to Berlin and a transfer from Berlin to Hamburg. The international flight was dated at 10 September at 7PM and the transfer was 12 September at 9AM. On the evening o the 10th, she boarded the flight and arrived at Berlin International Airport at 9 PM, September 11. In Berlin, she booked a room for one night. The next morning, September 12, she boarded her transfer to Hamburg as planned.
In midday, she contacted the University and made an appointment with the medical college. They were ready to receive her at 3 PM.
“Ah, guten tag, Fraulein O’Neil. How may our college serve you?”
“Herr Helmut, I need a reparative treatment. I am sterile.”
She related her caser to him and he listened both intently and sympathetically. Then he summoned his colleagues, including one woman doctor, to discuss her case.
„Meine Freunde, sie ist eine amerikanische Frau, ihr Name ist April O'Neil. Fraulein O’Neil steril geworden nach einer schrecklichen Situation, und sie hat zu uns kommen aus den USA, die Lösung für ihr Problem suchen. Fraulein, O’Neil, they are my trusted colleagues at this college. They are Herr Doktor Fritz Gothenberg, Herr Doktor Adolph KIemperer, Frau Doktor Erica Schoenfeldt and Herr Doktor Sigmund Stein.“
[My friends, she is an American woman named April O’Neil. Miss O’Neil has become sterile after a terrible situation and she has come to us from the USA. She hopes we can solve her problem. ]
„Ah guten tag, doktoren.“
[Good day, Doctors.]
„Guten tag, Fraulein O’Neil. Du spreche Deutsch.“
[Good day, Miss O’Neil. You can speak German!]
„Ja, eine bischen. Will you please help me?“
„Ja. We will attempt it in any case. Just try to relax. Would you like to eat something first?”
“Could you make a submarine sandwich for me?”
“Ja. Sit back and try not to think of your problem. We will bring it to you.”
After a few minutes, April O’Neil enjoyed her submarine sandwich in German style and they put her through the usual process—X ray and so forth. Then, a nurse entered bearing the latest newspaper, with an article about Johann Eric von Juntz. The article spoke of his death.
“Oh, das ist schade.”
[“Oh, that is really too bad.”]
„Die Polizei fand seine Leiche in Koblenz, übel zugerichtet“
[“The police found his corpse at Koblenz, badly mangled.”]
„Wer konnte, dass ihm angetan haben?“
[“Who could have done that to him?’]
“Doctor, I can investigate that matter after my treatment.”
“That may not be for several days, Miss O’Neil. You need an operation first.”
“Could you do laser surgery instead?”
The team of doctors discussed the option and agreed to perform it instead of the traditional operation; but they warned her that she would still need to rest and recover before taking up the case. She agreed. After a few days, the Medical College hospital agreed to discharge her; but they advised her against strenuous action and recommended painkillers for her. April O’Neil booked a seat on a local bus for Koblenz and soon headed over. She hoped that her smattering of German would suffice there.
When April O’Neil arrived at Koblenz, the cadaver had been moved to the local morgue. She asked permission from the local police to examine it. They granted it, but with a few words of caution.
Fräulein O'Neil, die Leiche ist in einem sehr unangenehmen Zustand jetzt.Betrachtet man es kann krank machen. "
[“Miss O’Neil, the corpse is in very unpleasant condition now. Looking at it may make you ill.”]
„Ich muss das Risiko,Herr Lieutenant."
[“I will have to risk that, Lieutenant.”]
They brought the corpse out for her to study and she looked at it calmly without turning her head away from it, for 5 minutes. Then she realized the nature of its condition.
"Herr Lieutenant, hat keine gewöhnliche Menschen, die an ihn."
“Lieutenant, no ordinary men did that to him.”
„Sicherlich ein Tier nicht getan. Wer könnte das sein?“
[“Surely an animal did not do that. Who might that be?”]
"Ich bin noch nicht sicher. Aber ich fühle, dass etwas sehr seltsam und schrecklichhier passiert ist. "
[“I am not sure yet. But I feel that something very strange and terrible happened here.”]
April O’Neil’s intuition was right, but it could not identify the culprit for her at that time. She decided to interview the citizens for clues to the murder. The Koblenz Polizei [Koblenz Police Department] offered to escort her. She appreciated the gesture but went around unescorted. She was certain that there was no risk. April O’Neil went around asking the residents nearest to the scene of the crime whether they saw or heard anything unusual. Most of them did not. However, a youth of 17 years replied that he had heard strange noises and screams on the night of the murder, but he dared not to go out to look.
April O’Neil realized that the case was becoming rather spooky and she needed help to solve it. That help was soon close at hand. While April was at the University of Hamburg Medical College, another American woman had arrived at Berlin and was planning to study in a crash course at the University of Hamburg. Her name was Sabrina Duncan.
At the time that Sabrina Duncan arrived at University of Hamburg for her courses, April O’Neil felt a pain in her abdomen and returned to Hamburg Medical College for a new examination. Sabrina enrolled at the Department of Philosophy Master Degree program. Also, she needed to take a required course in Basic German. The German course started at 10 AM. The teacher was Frau Frieda Gellenheim, She strolled into the classroom and there were 7 students: 4 boys and 3 girls, including Sabrina.
“Good morning, students.”
“Good morning, Frau Gellenheim.”
“OK. Let me know your names please.”
After Frau Gellenheim had identified the students, she asked them to talk about their lives. Sabrina refrained from talking about her work as a superhero. Then, the coursework began.
“Our first German phrase is ‘Guten morgen.’ It means Good morning. Say it once, please.”
“Ja, zehr gut! Now, say, ‘ Guten tag.’ It means Good day.“
“Gut. Now, say ‘Guten abend.’ That means Good evening.”
“You are all very clever.”
Basic German was held for one hour, three days a week—on Montag, Midwoch and Freitag [Monday, Wednesday and Friday].After class on Friday, Sabrina met the teacher privately to ask some questions.
“Guten morgen, Frau Gellenheim. Ich bin Sabrina Duncan. I want to ask a few questions.“
“Go ahead, Sabrina.”
“Thank you. Madame, if I want to ask directions, how would I ask?”
“For instance, to where, Sabrina?”
“For instance, to Koblenz.”
“Ah, OK, you should say, ‚Wie komme ich nach Koblenz zu gehen?‘ Repeat that for me once, please.”
„Wie komme ich nach Koblenz zu gehen“
„Gut. You have a fine accent, Sabrina. Have you been abroad before?“
“I went to some countries while working, Frau Gellenheim. Now, how do I call a taxi?”
“Just like that?”
“Ja. Just like that.”
“Gut. How do I ask someone to speak English?”
‘Bitte sprechen Englisch’
“And ‘thank you.’”
“Ah, gut. Danke shoen, Frau Gellenheim!”
„Wilkommen, Sabrina. Und wilkommen auf Deutschland.“
At 2 PM, Sabrina headed for the Philosophy Department. En route, she met April O’Neil, who was going for her examination at the Medical College hospital. April was mulling the bizarre murder and Sabrina felt intuitively that she was troubled; so, she invited April to join her for snacks at the student union.
“My name is April O’Neil,” April said.
“I am Sabrina Duncan. April O’Neil? Are you working at Channel 6, April?”
“What brings you to Hamburg, April?”
April related her case of sterility to Sabrina, who was very sympathetic. Then she said that she hoped that the University of Hamburg medical College would help her. Sabrina replied that the university was renowned and would help, but she recalled that Barbara Gordon died there mysteriously.
“What an awful shame! How did that happen?”
“Someone incinerated her alive.”
“Oh my God!”
The next day was Saturday, so they made an appointment to meet and venture out to Koblenz together to investigate further. They met at the Student Union at 4 PM and headed out to Koblenz. April Searched for the house of the boy she had interviewed and they found it and the boy after one hour. He was pleased to meet them both. They promised to protect him closely if he gave them more details. According to his information, the screams were definitely human—and a man’s voice; but the other sounds were softer and seemed less human to him. However, he could not and did not identify them. The two women decided to go out to Buch am Rhein to speak to Johann’s father.
On Sunday, they headed out to Buch and arrived at late evening. Both Fredric and Hilde von Juntz were pleased to meet them. They related about Johann Eric’s death cautiously.
“Herr Fredric, we are truly as sorry as we can be about Johann Eric.”
“Danke shoen, Fraulein O’Neil. We have learned of that from the media by now. Ina ny case, he was my son and he followed my footsteps.”
“Herr Fredric, we believe that a cult murdered Johann Eric.”
“Ein kult! Ja, der Kult von Dunkel Gott –the Cult of the Dark God.”
„Dark God?“ asked April.
„Ja. Name ist Cyäegha.”
“So, are you sure?”
“Yes. He was investigating at Freihausgarten and they must have discovered him.”
“They followed him to Koblenz, Herr Fredric. He died there.”
They surmised that Johann Eric had tried to escape the cult but they had eventually discovered his presence in Koblenz. The journey to Freihausgarten eventually fell on a Friday, as it had with Johann Eric von Juntz. Monday till Thursday, Sabrina Duncan was busy studying her courses and had free time only from Friday till Sunday evening. So the women met after Sabrina’s German course on Friday morning and headed out to Freihausgarten. They reached there by 10 PM, which proved to be a fateful hour indeed. They found a small hotel and booked a room with a twin bed for only that night. However, they did not know that the hotelier was one of the cultists. By midnight, the cult assembled at the foot of Dunkelhügel and the hotelier was among them. The monster had returned to rest beneath the mountain.
The ceremony commenced with loud invocations that resulted with thunder and lightning and the streaks of lightning continued to rebound into the clouds. Then, the crevasse split open and the tentacles and body of the creature slowly appeared. They made a noise before it and it sent a wave of energy sweeping through them. Moments later, they felt revitalized. Then, they removed their hoods and their rubber face masks to reveal their true features—the bulging eyes and gaping maws of toad-like creatures. The hotelier warned them about the women.
"Es gibt zwei Fremde in meinem Motel."
[“There are two strangers at my motel.”]
“Nein. Damen. Americanishe.”
“Americanishe damen? Warum sind sie hier?“
[“American women? Why are they here?”]
“Ich weiß nicht.”
[“I do not know.”]
A horde of cultists swarmed out to the village to interrupt the two women, who were not aware yet of the danger. The others remained at the foot of Dark Hill. However, the commotion had reawakened Cyäegha and it displayed its temper mightily. The tentacles unwound and propelled it towards Freihausgarten . Apparently, life must get worse before it gets better. If the siege by the cult was not bad enough, the arrival of Cyäegha would be worse. The horde arrived in the village and headed straightaway for the motel. However, since the cultists made no noise, the women were unaware of their advance. Eventually the cultists assembled at the door of the motel but Sabrina’s intuition warned her that nonhuman creatures were waiting there.
“April, we have company!”
“That figures, Sabrina. It must be the same creatures that killed Johann von Juntz. What should we do now?”
“We have only one recourse: fight.”
“You heard me.”
Then Sabrina transformed into Sparrowhawk and glanced at April O’Neil.
“Are you ready now?”
“I guess so. Let’s go to it.”
The two women fought as hard as they could, but with every blow they struck at the creatures, the cultists rose and returned to the fray. The women’s hands were full. One hour later, everyone present was aware that ‘the master’ was on its way.
“Der Meister komme!” a cultist shouted.
“What did he say?” asked April, although she really did not want to know. She dreaded the answer.
“He said, ‘the master is coming.’”
“Yeah. Apparently, we have enraged the thing they worship enough to bring it here.”
When the hulking form of the monster was more visible, the cult disbursed to make way for it. Sparrowhawk was a plucky damsel but she would prove no match for the hulking Great Old One. She signaled for April O’Neil to stand clear and April obeyed at once. Then she summoned all her strength, courage and skill and bee-lined for the monster with almost lightning speed. It noticed her and swung a large, thick tentacle and clubbed her. Sparrowhawk flew a few meters in one direction, struck the earth and lay unconscious. She lay there until 3 AM, when the cult and its god returned to Black Hill.
At 3 AM, when the scene was clear, April O’Neil re-emerged from hiding and hurried to revive Sparrowhawk. They returned to the motel to rest and plan for the next night. The obviously best move they could make was to beat the cult without the interference of Cyäegha; but the women wondered how to fight without the cult rousing Cyäegha. Could they attack in a day when the cult did not summon it? If so, then the cult would assume ‘normal’ identities and duties.
The women booked a room at a second motel for a few nights, although they now suspected that the hotelier there was also a cultist. In any event, they had to deal with him. So, they huddled in the room and planned their next course of action.
“The cult may not assemble tomorrow night,” April O’Neil reminded. “How will we know who is who?”
“We need to corner a cultist and compel him or her to reveal the others to us,” Sabrina replied. “Have you ever done that before?”
“No, I haven’t.”
The following night, around 11 PM, the women disguised themselves and crept into the center of the village to await cult movement. It came a few minutes later, when the cultists arrived, one after another, but in plain clothes. One cultist approached the women and, apparently mistaking them for cultists, insisted that they attend. The women did not hesitate, since they realized that they had the chance to infiltrate the cult.
As soon as the two women were among the cult, they waited for the proper time to act. The cultists were engaged in common evening duties throughout most of the night. The women gauged the cultists’ identities according to their movements, which they distinguished from other movements. Sabrina Duncan alerted April O’Neil that’s he would separate and assume her secret identity. She added that a diversion might be useful. April agreed. Sabrina headed for an archway and ducked behind it. As April O’Neil tried to divert the cultists’ attention, Sabrina assumed her secret identity.
“Hello. Shprechen sie English?”
“Ein bischen. Was gibt?“
”Well, I am new here. Could you tell me the name of your cult entity?”
“The name? Yes, it is Cyäegha.”
“Where is it from?”
“I am not sure yet. It is a very terrible thing.”
“Why don’t you worship something safer?”
“One night it came here and demanded that we worship it. We could not refuse.”
“Oh, I see.”
Just then, Sparrowhawk arrived and the two women played dirty. They put all their effort into the blow and finally sent more than one cultists reeling. It was not a night of homage, so Cyäegha remained in hibernation under Dunkelhügel. The cultists lacked the strength and vitality it would have given them. By 2 AM, the cult disbanded and nobody saw or heard about them for at least one year.