This artifact was crafted by the English explorer Charles Bakewell.
Bakewell went missing from his companions in 1934 on an abseiling expedition in the Chinese backcountry, along the line of the Himalayas, near the Mongolian boarder. Although he was presumed dead after a fall due to faulty dynamic belay equipment; he emerged ten years later with an improbable story of survival.
Bakewell claimed to have discovered the fabled Shangri-La and despite a detailed and vivid account of his experiences, he was deemed mentally unfit and placed in Grunewald Sanatorium, Poland.
His claim was that Shangri-La was populated by demons (who kept him as a curio due to his Albinism) and saved by a Tibetan monk who, posing as a Mongolian trader, made periodic trips down the gorge pretending to be buying human flesh and bones to trade with witchdoctors on the black market. (This aspect can unfortunately be confirmed, as the same demand exists in Africa today)
While kept under observation at Grunewald Charles was allowed to indulge his hobby of model making. He made at least eight known puzzle boxes that accompanied traditional folk tales. This particular box depicts ‘The Temple of The Firebird’. He insisted on them being sent to the English Secret Service. However the SIS had no idea what to make of them and they ended up as gifts for the officer’s children. It was the niece of SIS founder Mansfield Cumming who cleverly discovered the map co-ordinates and mathematical algorithms within the story. As well as the tiny gold dots that are specifically placed northern constellations that correlate exactly to a gorge in China.
National Geographic sent an expedition in 2004, and while the gorges were deeper than anyone predicted and teeming with endemic flora and fauna, no trace of a civilisation was found. However they also discovered another gorge within the first, which has not yet been mapped.
Excerpt from the Diary of Charles Bakewell in captivity
March 5th 1938
Having walked the perimeter of the escarpment again this morning I have officially given up all hope of escape. I deem it easier on my remaining sanity to now resolve myself to some sort of existence here. While I’m sure I will never get used to a glob of spittle in my face as a greeting, I must find an inner strength to subsist.
These revolting men, if they can truly be called that, have casually exposed me to such constant perversity that I cannot help feeling switched off in some way. A sense of detachment so profound that even last night’s grisly discovery cannot penetrate. I must admit that upon exploring the cook pit that I stood for some while holding the small charred bones even after I realized that the curios animal skeletons were in fact children. Babies really. Hundreds of tiny bones. I am desperately attempting to show cultural tolerance however it is my feverent wish that the army discover them and burn this place to ash. Wiping this contradictory horror off the earth, crushing the delicate minarets and their malformed denizens with no mercy.
Before the apathy took my mind one thought used to horrify me – if this is one aspect of heaven then what kind of hell awaits us?