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Art of Deception

Ah, hello friend, if I may be so bold as to call you that. Welcome to my humble
caravan, my home on wheels. I cannot help but to wonder, what brings you here?
Yes you, a man of science, a man of rationale and reason, why would you have
cause to come here, to a simple street magician such as myself? Have you,
perhaps, a question? I do not deign to know the nature of the heavens or of the
divine, but perhaps... yes, perhaps I can help you.

I'll tell you now, friend. My answers are not always clear, and my services are not
cheap. If your question is merely to ask how it is I knew your name or how I
predicted your card choice without knowing beforehand, well... expect no answer.
A magician never reveals his secrets, you know.

No, say you? That isn't your question? How foolish of me... of course you wouldn't
come to ask something as very trivial as that! No, you seek something else,
something far more valuable than just my time. Yes... I see now what it is you
desire, what you seek, even without you telling me so. For am I not the omniscient,
Magnificent Thoth, Seer of the Nile, renowned master of prestidigitation and seer
of the unseen? If anyone has the answers you seek, surely it is I! You surely don't
doubt my word in such a time of need and desperation, do you? Indeed, times
must be desperate if you'd forsake your science for superstition...

What, did I say forsake? I meant to say you would delve deeper, or perhaps seek
answers, no, indeed not forsake...

Come, friend, enter my caravan. Sit with me a while, and we shall speak more
privately. Some things are not for others' ears to hear. You agree, yes? Good
allow me to shut the door for privacy's sake.

Are you comfortable? Good, good. Please, I have made some coffee, will you have
some with me? Let us discuss the esoteric knowledge you seek. As I said before,
my answers are rather costly

What price, you ask? Please, kind doctor, do not worry so much about the cost! We
shall speak first, and discuss reimbursement later. Now then, about those scrolls
you were researching... the Black Papyri?

Of course I know of your research, doctor! Almost everyone has heard of your
research and that is why you are here, no, on business? News travels fast in a
small village like this. I, and many others, have heard of your quests after lost
manuscripts and ancient writings, in particular the so called lost Black Papyri. But I
tell you, yes, I tell you friend, you will not find them sifting through the shifting
desert sands, nor in the cold dark of some millennia old tomb, clutched
desperately by some long dead pharaoh.

Why? What have I heard about them? Oh, my sources are strong indeed. I know
because, well, they were stolen, you see, by tomb robbers long ago. Most
unfortunate. A shame, really. The loss of such cultural treasures is a grievous blow
to all men. But, friend, I have on good authority that they are located here, in the
heart of Cairo and I might even be able to help you obtain them.

You see, it is no secret that men of your stature and your profession often seek
such treasures. You are but one of many who have come here searching for the
Black Papyri. Many have searched, many have failed, and many have been driven
to mad obsession by the very idea of finding such an illustrious artifact, the final
remnants of a lost era. It would capture the imagination of any man, the idea of
discovering something long lost. Men have been driven mad by that desire to
know, that need for fame, that overwhelming ache and allure of the Nile's
mysteries... Why, that quaint little university in Arkham, I hear tell, has had at least
several hundred historians and Egyptologists search these lands since 1908 now,
and not one of them have found the Papyri. Not one. Those lost scrolls are still out
there, doctor, though some call them legend

Legend. What nonsense! It hasn't been quite long enough at all to call them a
legend. Oh, but of course a man of your vast knowledge, good doctor, knows what
the Papyri speak of: the final Egyptian dynasty, the last pharaoh. That final ruler,
purged from all known history and stricken from all human knowledge... at least,
that is, until his tomb was found. They say his burial chamber was filled with all
manner of golden tools of war, vicious things upon which many men must have
perished. Curiously, not a single piece had been stolen not a single thief ever
entered. Some believe it a cursed place, some believe that belief to be
superstition. Still, cursed or not, it is a pity what happened to the expedition group
that found the tomb. Absolutely horrid. Poor souls, may their souls find peace with
Allah...

Now, I am more than certain that a man of science such as yourself cannot credit
such stories, you of all people would hardly believe in such a silly superstition as
cursed tombs! What utter poppycock! But this tomb, his tomb... You must
understand, doctor, this tomb is quite another matter entirely. It is whispered that
they found... things in the catacombs, carvings upon the walls of hideous, faceless,
howling monstrosities consuming the gods, corpses both skeletal and fresh-looking
laden upon horrifically clever devices of torture and murder, sickening runic
translations of the hieroglyphs and unspeakable words detailing that mad
pharaohs acts as ruler. There was no body found in his sarcophagus, you know,
and yet the tomb had never been opened prior to that expedition, not once since
it had been sealed so many centuries ago. They say that the bodies of camels are
occasionally found near the tomb's entrance, drained of all blood and viscera, and
that it has been that way since the tomb was first opened. And, sir, there are
rumors that screams and pleas for help from damned souls echo from that place at
night, strange howlings and anguished cries. Sometimes, the occasional robber or
vagrant is even found disemboweled at its entrance, the organs perfectly removed
with such precision as to border on the uncanny... But surely, these are
superstitious lies spread by the Bedouin and the locals to frighten the easily
scared. And you, doctor... you are not so easily frightened, are you?

Then again, neither was that doctor from Arkham, the one who lead the expedition
to open the tomb...
Are you feeling quite alright, doctor? You look a little pallid... Here, please, have
some more to drink. I didn't intend to scare you. Allow me to change the subject to
something less gruesome. Perhaps you will find these a suitable topic of
discussion?

Yes, my friend, they are the Papyri... although, of course, not originals. And I
promise you, upon my own grave and the grave of the stars above, that they are
real as I'm sure you can see for yourself.
Indeed, they do speak of that little-known ruler they call the Black Pharaoh, the
one that an ancient civilization so feared and loathed as to bury him alone in an
unmarked tomb, all record of his name struck from memory. You surely know as
well as I what that meant to the ancient Egyptians, to have a name struck from all
known memory. You know it means more than simply death, total and complete. To
erase the name of a person was to erase the living ka, the soul itself, forever...
thus casting the pathetic creature into the void; it therefore ceases to exist, or
rather, to have ever existed. Yes, that nameless pharaoh, they so feared his might
and power that they would rather he had never existed at all than continue to rule
them. His wrath was so frightening that, even after death, he was simply... erased.

But of course, a name is power, and a powerful name never really dies... nor does
a powerful man. And powerful he was, according to these Papyri. It was believed
that he could switch forms at will, as easily as putting on a mask, and that he used
these masks to enact his godly wrath. Which horrifically enough, seems to have
been shockingly similar to the disturbing deaths that have happened ever since
that tomb was first opened

Do you know, doctor, that the ancients thought the Black Pharaoh immortal? Yes,
they considered him a very great and terribly potent magician, a tormentor made
flesh, almost a punishment for their own insolence and laxity. His subjects were
truly his playthings, and little but. He would torture and manipulate them on a
whim, playing twisted mind games with them to trick them into doing anything he
wished. Mere power and authority, these things were not enough for that madman.
No, he demanded blood. He demanded sacrifice to the very god he was thought to
embody. And the only telling sign, the only true indication that he was channeling
the godly power that was his birthright, were his eyes. Yes, his eyes, black like two
infinite voids, and his inhuman maw of teeth as sharp as a crocodile's...

Doctor, are you sure you're alright? You're shaking like a leaf! And youre leaving
already? We haven't even discussed payment yet!

Why yes, I have locked the door. How on earth do you expect us to speak in private
if someone interrupts us... or if you leave unexpectedly? And why leave now when I
haven't even gotten to the meat of our little chat? Out of ill-placed fear? How
utterly pathetic of you. I could spritz you with water and you would flinch.
Besides... it's all only legend and superstition. Little but. Now come, sit back down
and speak with me. I shall pour you more coffee if you wish it...

That's a good man. Here, allow me to ease your mind with a small magic trick.
Keep your eyes on mine, and do not blink. There's a good lad. Watch closely, and
you will see it on the count of three...
One.

Two.

Three.

Boo.

Oh, for pity's sake, doctor! You're acting like a child and screaming as if you've
seen a ghost! It's almost as if you've never met a man with pitch black eyes
before. I do expect you can tell that I am no ghost, doctor. Yes you know me now
dont you? You are an educated man and you recognize an example of crawling
chaos when you see it. Now calm yourself, and sit down.

No. I said.

Sit.

Down.

...There, now isn't that so much better? Deep breaths... thats a good lad. Now
then, let us discuss... payment.

What am I? Irrelevant. Ah, humans are such simple creatures. You are always
hanging yourselves with your own rope, arent you? Thinking it will save your puny,
primitive, ill-formed selves. You're dreadfully stupid. I love you. So much. So very,
very much...

Shh, shh, now... I don't intend you any harm, doctor. Why would I ever want to hurt
you? What, indeed, would be the point in it, now that we have come this far
together?

Oh please... your life? You honestly believe I want something as insignificant as


your life? What on earth would I even do with such a trifle? No, doctor... I want you
to live. I have a message to spread, I have something grand indeed planned for
you. And besides, you haven't even gotten what you've come here for yet. That is,
the information about the Papyri... yes, the Papyri and the pharaoh

You see, doctor, those Papyri are no mere historical record. No, they hold great
importance to me indeed, very great. They are, doctor, my personal records of that
time, my journal if you will. Scribed within those pages is enough information and
history of that lost period and its nameless, Black Pharaoh to make you the leading
expert on the subject... and potentially, a very rich man. And it is my opinion, good
doctor, that you are more than capable of taking care of this privileged
knowledge... knowledge that men have killed to obtain.

Why you? A god thinks you worthy of his own personal diary of a bygone era, and
you believe yourself unworthy of it? Now why is that, doctor? I surely would not
have offered you the privilege of owning them if I didn't believe you were capable,
would I? Oh yes, of course it could have been anyone... but could it really? It wasn't
another person that came to me personally and asked for them. It was you. You
came here, you dared speak to me of such dangerous knowledge, thinking little of
the risk to your own life. No other soul would dare to be so foolhardy or so brave,
and that, doctor, makes you uncommonly courageous. And I, for one, believe such
courage and valor should be rewarded.

Yes, of course you may keep the scrolls. It should be no trouble at all for you to
translate the
Hieroglyphs, you are one of the most brilliant Egyptologists in the world, after all.
Please, peruse them at your leisure. They are yours now, yours to keep for the
right price...

Enjoyable reading, yes? Indeed, I've always found them a fascinating read myself.
Do you believe I am who I say I am now? Already, I see the answer is yes. I see
your eyes widening in awe, and your hands starting to shake. I hear your breath
coming in ragged, frightened gasps, and the sharp beating of your heart speeding
the blood through your fragile veins... Your thoughts surely must be racing with the
truths you're learning. Oh yes, this pleases me... it pleases me greatly.

Now, doctor, now you understand, now you see your purpose, now you
comprehend the growing need to serve me, yes, serve me or die. That will
generally happen when an insect such as yourself reads the Final Rites of
Nyarlathotep. I do expect that your undying servitude is an appropriate payment
for such knowledge? I am nothing if not fair in my pricing, although I did warn you
the pricing was rather... steep.

Yes?

So glad you agree! Now go, my message is not one that should be kept to oneself.
Besides, your colleagues will surely be overjoyed at your discovery...

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