Location: Mortimer Wycroft’s shop (beneath his bed)
Physical Description: Bound in faded red leather, some water damage and well-thumbed. Faded writing within cover reveals the book is property of the University of Sydney.
Author: James Woodville, a successful merchant and later itinerant Puritan preacher, who lived in England during and after the English Civil War.
Publication History: English, 17th century. Very few copies of this blasphemous text exist.
An ill-organized, maniacal but highly detailed religious text recounting the visions, dreams, prophecies, and teachings of Woodville, as well as graphic justification for his unusual sexual practices. Poor quality woodcuts accompany the disturbing text, and include depictions of strange conical “angels”, which represent a physical manifestation of the Holy Trinity. The benevolent angels allow the pious to exchange forms and visit their Great Hidden Kingdom. Woodville describes various violent and obscene methods to invite union with these beings and restore the secret knowledge of their otherworldly Kingdom. Near the end of the text, Woodville details the “First Apocalypse” where the shrill Winds of Hells swept the angels from the world before the Creation of Man. He prophesies the return of the blessed angels in another form.
Connection to the Broader Campaign:
Woodville’s bizarre religious work serves to foreshadow the Great Race of Yith and their conflict with the Flying Polyps. Revelations obtained from the book provide investigators with physical descriptions of Yithians, as well as terrifying allusions to their invisible, deadly foes whistling in dark tunnels and dwelling atop lightless basalt towers.
The mixture of salacious and religious contents lends inspiration to the development of Mortimer Wycroft’s personality and motivations. His interest in the Great City arises from his discovery of Woodville’s Wondrous Intelligences many years prior. Instead of serving as a typical cultist, Wycroft adopts Woodville’s religious beliefs and unspeakable sexual habits. As a result, Mortimer stands adjacent to Huston’s Cult of the Sand Bat. The two men develop a mutually beneficial relationship, where Wycroft provides supplies to Huston’s subterranean operation, and the psychiatrist allows the religious zealot access to his Yithian obsession. The twisted Huston potentially derives perverse pleasure from manipulating Wycroft and his debased religious fantasies. While roleplaying Wycroft, we mix his heretical Christian ideology with Huston’s Sand Bat Cult. In addition to painting his body with the cult’s symbol, he smears himself with other depictions of religious iconography adopted from Woodville’s text. When seen shirtless, his body bears scars of prior self-inflicted mortification.
The ideological differences between Wycroft and his daughter may be invoked for further intrigue during the Australia Chapter. While they serve the Cult of the Sand Bat and assist their father, they view his beliefs as inferior to their own. Their father’s violent piety potentially evokes a mixture of fear and hatred in them, and they wait for an opportunity to purge him from the Cult at Huston’s direction.
How the book ends up in Wycroft’s hands remains up to the Keeper, but we hinted at its existence during encounters with Professors Anthony Cowles and David Dodge, who mention the University of Sydney Library losing a rare, centuries-old religious text containing compelling references to the Great Sandy Desert. We imagine a younger, pious Wycroft stumbling upon this book over a decade earlier and stealing it before dragging his young family to Western Australia.
“‘Twas a beauteous site to behold. The blessed angel towered above in the forme of a great cone. The shadow it cast appeared as the Most Holy Trinity. And then, oh God, it unfolded its four wondrous limbes. The first contained a great many trumpets to herald the Divine. Two more contained powerful clawes to rend the flesh of demons and sinners. On the fourth and final rested the most terrible and arousing sight. Dark as spilled blood were the eyes and beneath were a great many strands of questing flesh. It sought my hand. I reached out for it and I saw I too had been granted its most seraphic features. I had ascended to the Great Realm.”
“With tender abuses, I drewe out the hidden memories. The sacred secrets of the City beneath the Great Desert. I mistakenly believed the Lord’s hidden secrets and great teachings dwelt in an Empyrean Domane. Nay! His wonder lay beneath rock and stone held in protection from the terrible shrieking spirits in their dark spyres. The angels toil for Knowledge amassed in their great Library. They venture forth beyond this realm to far tymes. And I willfully give myself unto them until Armageddon.”
“Forsaken! I must punish myself for my exile. If I continue the harsh ministrations of the clawe and horn, the angels must grante a return. I spread their sacred Gospel and teach my few disciples their mysteries. In this corrupt body, I live amidst the unclean and unholy but I will once again mount the angel and return to my true home hidden beneath the ancient sands. I pore my unworthy soul on these pages to bring their majesty to our calamitous tyme.”