There is an archaic legend amongst my family, which pre-dates even the first of us. While this tale tends to alter with each telling, there are aspects which we would not dare change. It invariably regards a crevice, accessible only by esoteric and convoluted means that I cannot divulge in full. Often at times, this method describes an exploration to pestilent foreign lands; in most versions of the tale, the use of certain… untrustworthy substances generally act as the quickest means to find the place. What is seen when these are taken can be strange – my father's uncle explained meeting a great, talking antlion, who kindly provided directions. He found the entity to be rather sociable. They later ended sharing a good glass of brandy and a chat.
This crevice is always thin and unremarkable, only just large enough to allow the entry of a small person, and is always hidden within some extreme place – normally a mountain or cave, although my great-grandmother told it to be set deep within a large forest – and even then, obscured by scenery.
While it appears to be only a shallow crack in the stone, wood, or ground, it is in nature, an entrance of great depth and significance. Unknown is it who first went into the place to obtain the knowledge of its contents, as none of my relatives seem to know of the myth’s origin, nor even of any of our ancestors who might have. As far as I am aware, nobody has found or entered it in the last fifty years.
Those who have passed through the portal have found themselves within a cavern which resembles no place on this world. The rock that composes it is sulphurous and brittle to the touch, and throughout grows luminous lichen and moss. The distant ceiling is bright enough to emulate daylight, and one could not stare at it without soon averting their eyes. I am told that flowering plants – in many fantastic shades of blood blue and violent purple – grow there, but none of this is particularly well detailed. After all, my family have always been studiers of daemons and insects, and therein lies the focus of the story. For the plant life, in all its splendour, is nothing compared to the animal population.
These arthropods, it is said, display variety enough to constitute a whole Order. Some would be considered monstrous by the standards of modern society; however, many are simply odd, and at times, the distinction between a truly natural beast and one of supernormal nature is blurred. My family keeps record of these strange and wondrous organisms via a kind of personal bestiary, which is updated by those few who have supposedly ventured to the place (the last of which, if memory serves me reliably, was my great-great grandfather, Lucas of Argolis).
The tradition has always been to pass this journal to the eldest capable male, and it was most recently entrusted by my father to my late brother Robert, before it passed to me. My inheritance of the book afforded me my first chance to read through it, bringing to my attention the more incredible aspects of my family’s legacy.
I have consulted this bestiary, and find an interesting collection of fables. Among the species detailed there are giant nymphs with six legs, with a dense, muscular surface outside their chitinous shells, and which possess somewhere between two and four light blue, delicate and impractical wings. Upon these wings grow a kind of symbiote, with yellow-green, conical bodies, connected to their hosts by strong, organic fibre. To see this thing fly is a wonder, for it uses these growths to its advantage; upon flapping its wings, they are roused to activity, and stay parallel to the surface of the wings, catching the air and allowing the main body, through great exertion of the wing muscles, flight.
Another creature resembles a giant, fattened beetle, but with a fleshy lizard-like form under its patchy exoskeleton. Despite having six, powerful legs, this specimen was mostly sessile. It subsisted by lingering around the areas of heavy fungus concentration. Every now and then, an odd phenomenon would occur: a sort of incorporeal light or luminous gas of various fantastic colours (my predecessors described several of these as “indigo-orange” and “green-violet”) would form in the air. The beetle would jump, and capture these in its legs, before spending several hours nipping away at it until the next specter manifested.
On one occasion, the exoskeleton of this beast was seen to harden and knit together like cloth being sown. Following this, the soft, inner body was seen to tear out from its dead shell, and a sort of fluid it produced from its pale skin hardened, sealing it in place. The then statue-like creature was not seen to move again – however, investigation of its former skin revealed a clutch of twenty or so eggs, spherical, and about the size of a pebble.
The journey to this place is certainly one of our better rituals. While I have yet to see this location myself, the thought of walking amongst the curious fauna of the place makes me positively giddy. Perhaps my or my inheritors will rediscover it some day. If I may never find it, it is most certainly a gift I would wish to leave any children that might outlive me.
-From The Tales of Lewis Eykos-Anure, Professional Madman.