This story was generated by AI Dungeon. Bold text was written by me, the rest by the AI.
Your good friend Jackson Elias calls for your help with a telegram scarce on details. Something about the ill-fated Carlyle Expedition of 1920, where everyone ended up dead. He said he’s found something. You arrive at his hotel room and knock on the door, but get no response. The door is ajar. You push it open and see a man in a dark suit standing there.
“I’m here to help you,” says the stranger. “You’re not going to believe what I’ve found.”
He leads you into an empty office and closes the door behind him.
You say “Where’s Jackson Elias?”
“Jackson? What happened to him?”
The man turns around and looks directly at you. His face is pale, his eyes are bloodshot and his hair is disheveled. “I don’t know anything about that,”
You say “This is his room! He should be here!”
“The less you know about him the better. But I need your help.”
He takes you into the next room, where you see an ancient stone pedestal with an irregularly-shaped gem placed on it. A strange pattern of symbols surrounds it.
You examine the pedestal.
You approach the pedestal and examine the gem. It’s cut in an irregular fashion, with a dull gray color. You notice strange red markings etched into the surface of the gem.
“The Red Sign,” he says. “The key to uniting the worlds.”
“What?” you ask. “What does that mean?”
“You’re not a scholar, are you?”
“No. I’m a traveler.”
“Just as well. They’d skin you alive if they knew what you were saying. These are old secrets, forgotten by most.”
“I’m not afraid,” you say, puffing out your chest.
“Maybe you should be,” he says. "
You say “What’s all this about?”
“The old ones. The Great Old Ones. The Lords of the Outer Rims. The Elder Gods. Gods from before the gods, some say. They dwell in a realm of twisted madness that lies on the far edges of reality, just outside the material world.”
You say “Look man, I just came here because my friend Jackson Elias needed my help. If you won’t tell me where he is, I’ll call the police.”
He stares at you, his eyes filled with a mixture of fear and desperation.
“Please, don’t do that,” he says. “They’re everywhere. And if they know I’ve betrayed them, they’ll take it out on my family.”
You look him up and down.
You say “Who are you?”
“Pardon me. I am Julian Cross. Jackson is my… brother in all but blood. We grew up together.”
He hands you a calling card, which you examine. It simply reads “Julian Cross, Antiquarian.”
You say “Jackson never mentioned you”
“No. We’ve had… a bit of a falling out. It’s a long story.”
“I’ll tell you once we’re out of here.”
He approaches the pedestal.
You say “This… Red Sign has something to do with Jackson?”
“This is what they used. A powerful artifact, steeped in ancient and forgotten lore. It was to be the key to opening a gate to their realm.”
You stare at the Red Sign. You don’t even know what to say. This is madness.
You say “Look, I don’t believe in any of this magic stuff. If it’ll make you feel better, I can draw an Elder Sign on that Red Sign. Jackson always said an Elder Sign would cancel out magic. Then you’ll tell me where he is, right?”
“Go ahead,” he says.
You pull out a pen and paper and begin drawing the Elder Sign. You step towards the pedestal and, on second thought, switch to a pencil. No need to take chances.
You step up to the pedestal and draw the Elder Sign on the Red Sign.
“There,” you say, stepping back. Suddenly, the lights begin to flicker.
“They know,” he says. “I’ve betrayed them. I have to go.”
The lights flicker again, then go out completely. You feel the door slam shut, then the sound of several bolts sliding into place.
“Julian?” you call out. Then you hear his terrified scream. Then, another voice… many voices… crying out in an incomprehensible language.
Then, a low rumbling. The sound of thousands of crawling insects… the sound of a hurricane… the sound of a crash of breaking glass…
You continue to call out for Julian, but receive no answer.
The next time you wake up, you find yourself lying on the floor of the office. The desk has been overturned, and there’s a large hole in the window. A quick check reveals that it’s the next morning, and you’ve lost a full day.