Upon an international flight from Boston to the final destination of Massaua in Ethiopia, the investigative team of Prof. Marvin Derrikson, Howard Defoe, Bethany Tibedeaux, Fr. Carl Meinardus and Frankie Fawn arrived, happy to set down on firm land, even if it was the heat of Africa that met them on arrival. Naturally, the point of the Ethiopian investigation was to see what had become of George Ayers and whether the archeologist, Dr. Bartolo Acuna had any information on him.
Upon landing at the Massaua air field, it was evident that the Italian war machine was present, staging for an attack against Ethiopia. As a result, the area was under tight control by civilian customs. After dealing with some bureaucratic entanglements, Bethany and Prof. Derrikson managed to smooth things over with the Italian government with a well placed bottle of wine and some friendly, feminine conversation. After that, the customs official provided the team with proper papers proving they were individuals in good standing with the Italian government and even went so far as to get them passage into the city with a small military truck.
That afternoon the team immediately went to work after checking into the hotel. Fr. Carl explored the city, looking for landmarks or rumors that could be helpful. Howard explored the docks and determined the types of provisions needed for travel in harsh locations. Bethany decided to conduct some research at the French Universite de Artois whereas Prof. Derrikson used his connections to get into the Italian Universite degli Studi di Cagliari.
While at the Uiversite de Artois, Bethany met with Dr. Lamont, director of the library. They discussed the local tribes, especially those in and around the Dallol site. While at the library Bethany also discovered that there were some scant mentions of the mysterious Guardians as well as references to some of the more savage villagers whose primative beliefs were thought of as dangerous (at least dangerous as defined by white Euro-centric professors).
Meanwhile, Prof. Derrikson had a different experience with Dr. Cosimo Avera at the Universite degli Studi di Cagliari across town. Prof. Derrikson discovered, to his delight, that Dr. Acuna had consulted briefly with Dr. Avera as recent as a few weeks ago and that he was ready to travel with a military convoy to Adua, west of Massaua. Dr. Acuna left about two weeks ago in order to secure the Obelisk of Axum for transport back to Rome in order to be the pride of Benito Mussolini’s conquest in Africa.
That night when the investigative team met together for dinner, they shared the details of what they had uncovered and decided that they would see where Dr. Acuna was, perhaps by checking with the military to see how far the military had gotten.
The following day after consulting with their contact in the Italian customs office, they discovered that due to some troubles with military supply lines, Dr. Acuna and the military convoy with which he was traveling was still held up in Adua, about a day’s travel to the west. It appeared as if they were stalled and going nowhere any time soon. So the decision was made to travel with a military supply truck and get out to Adua to interview Dr. Acuna as soon as possible, as it was expected he would have valuable information about the dig site as well as George Ayers.
Within a day’s travel and a long bumper road later, they found themselves at the camp site of the undisciplined military encampment. Dr. Acuna was interested in seeing them as they were some of the few academics he had spoken to in weeks. Whereas it was clear Acuna was slightly inebriated and somewhat brash, he was curious as to what they were in Africa researching. After assuring Dr. Acuna that they were not here to either relieve him of his post or interfere with his work, they brought up the matter of the Dallol site as well as Dr. George Ayers. At this point, in his own crass way, employing the use of flatter on Dr. Acuna, he relayed the following points:
- The site around Dallol was precisely where the ancient text, the Revelations of Glaaki said it would be.
- They arrived in 1924 and hired guides and secured the supplies they needed. It only took a few months to find the site.
- The reliefs on the doors that sealed the inner complex were different from other works from the same period. They were protective. Ayers sent a fragment back to their patron Ramon Echavarria.
- Acuna believed Ayers was a drunk, a drug addict or both.
- Problems began shortly after the seal was broken and the careful digging began. Supplies disappeared, people left, contact between Acuna and the CMC broke down.
- When they finally broke through the inner sanctum in 1926, they discovered the statute of a mouth. It was carved in detail never before seen, quarried in some ancient stone. It was a giant, screaming mouth, all tongues and a dozen kind of teeth and lips that were obscene.
- When the CMC cut off supplies, Ayers and Acuna traveled back to Mersa Fatma to confront the company (who later said they received word Acuna cancelled the supplies). While they were away an eruption from a volcano destroyed everything, killing most of the laborers and engulfing their equipment. The inner sanctum fell into hot lava. Acuna, despondent over the whole affair left for Spain, vowing never to return. Ayers, slightly more confident, traveled back to Dallol to see for himself, which was the last time the two saw each other.
- The last people to see Ayers, Acuna believes, are the tribe who travel around the Dallol village. These people worked for the CMC back in the day, mining salt and potash. Acuna suggested that these people, the Diggers, could well be primitive and dangerous people.
- The entire area is hell on earth with the heat, brutal conditions and unfriendly environmental hazards.
With nothing more to learn from Acuna, the investigators left, returned to Massaua and decided to take one of the boats to Mersa Fatma the following day to investigate the CMC and see if they could secure rail to the area around Dallol.