The Advent Of Uvhash

What is left of my long-time friend, Richard Gavin, lies upon the floor at my feet, his body little more than a shapeless bag of bloodless pulp. His drained corpse covers that bloodstained book, the accursed BLOOD-RITUALS OF RHYLKOS. Would that it had really been destroyed in the fall of ancient Rome, when the historians recorded that it had been lost to the ages!

I do not really know just how to tell this tale, so I guess I’ll try to start at the beginning. It all began when I was invited — no, URGED — to stay at my friend’s mansion set deep in the forested wilds of northern Wisconsin. I don’t even remember when he telephoned now, for I no longer have any definite perception of the days leading up to this very moment, but upon receiving his call I drove over without question to Wisconsin the next day (after gathering some rather peculiar books he had asked for, which I promptly wrapped up securely and brought with me) from my own home in Braving, Minnesota.

I remember thinking that Gavin wouldn’t be calling me just to re-initiate a long-overdue friendship — he must have had something important on his mind. Just what that could be, however, I couldn’t imagine, for Richard Gavin had a very different set of priorities from the norm. He being a serious student of the occult, I recalled we had dabbled in some pretty outré stuff when we’d roomed together at Royceton University in Braving not quite ten years ago. In fact, our “experiments” with ESP and the paranormal had nearly had us expelled! It was to Richard Gavin’s credit, however, that he’d been able to net himself a small fortune by way of those same experiments a few years after graduation. Never mind that it had once again been amid scandal, for Richard had never been one to tread the normal byways of life . . . and I dare not say more concerning THAT!

I stopped for gas in Ashton, the town nearest Gavin’s country estate, and the old station attendant seemed friendly enough. He asked me where I was from. I told him.

“Braving!” he exclaimed, “oh, yes, a wonderful city! Been there a few times — pretty good-sized burg.” He inserted the fuel nozzle. “Don’t s’pose you think much o’ our little town, eh?” The old man spat upon the ground as if for punctuation.

“Actually, I find it very refreshing,” I answered. “Big cities get very impersonal. There are just too many people and too much crime, no one gives anybody else the time of day,” I complained. “I would guess all the people hereabouts are pretty friendly, even to strangers?” I asked, just to make conversation.

“Yep. As a matter of fact they are.” He spat again. “Say, young feller, where you heading for anyways?”

“A friend invited me stay with him for a few days,” I replied. “He lives a couple of miles from here.”

“Oh yeah? Who is he? I prob’ly know him.”

“Yes, maybe you do. His name’s Richard Gavin . . . we went to school together at –”

But I didn’t continue, for at the mention of my friend’s name the attendant’s kindly smile turned into an angry grimace.

“That’s enough gas for you!” He snarled, abruptly withdrawing the nozzle from my Mustang. “We don’t wanna help out any o’ HIS friends!” He spat it like it was poison on his tongue.

“What are you talking about?” I asked, bewildered by his reaction.

“You heard me,” he growled. “Now get outta here!”

“But what about the gas I owe you for? I –”

“It’s on me,” he cut me off. “Now get on your way, mister, ‘fore I sic the dog on you.” He indicated a Doberman gnawing on a bone at the side of the garage. “Get him, Butch!” He yelled gruffly. The dog rose to its feet in an instant, hackles raised, and jumped at me. Being a brown-belt in Shorin-ryu I instinctively delivered a kick at the dog, stunning it, then bolted for the Mustang. Jumping in, I shut the car door just as the dog recovered and reached the car. It clawed frantically at the window as I started the car and kicked it into gear.

Cursing fitfully under my breath, I fishtailed out of the service station and gunned it down the road toward Richard’s house. But my mind was racing, I was confused. Why was the old man so incensed at the mention of Gavin’s name? Sure, my friend was a bit eccentric, especially since he was so into the occult side of life, but lots of people believed different things these days, what with the freedom of religion and all. I decided that perhaps these backwoods Wisconsinites were more close-minded than most folk.

I drove another few miles, until I came to the winding driveway leading up to Gavin’s mansion. It was the spring thaw, and I nearly got stuck several times on that muddy track, but I got through and pulled up to the house at last. It almost looked like a long-lost set out of one of those old Atlantic International Poe movies as it loomed over me like a hawk hovering above its prey.

He must have heard my Mustang gunning it up the drive, through some of those puddles, for Richard was outside by the garage waiting for me (he lived alone, deeming the use of servants unnecessary to his own chosen lifestyle). I pulled into the stall he indicated, got out and greeted my friend warmly as we exchanged pleasantries.

He had changed greatly since I had seen him last. His hair, never worn very long at all in his youth, was noticeably longer, rather unkempt. He appeared much slimmer, even wasted, to the point of gauntness. I inquired of his health, but he just waved my concern aside, blaming his condition on a persistent flu which he’d finally beaten just a few days ago.

He helped me carry my bags upstairs to the guest room — although in the light of his emaciated condition I took the brunt of the load myself — and showed me where I could freshen up. Afterwards, he led me down the hall to his book-jammed study.

“I’m glad you brought the books I asked for,” he said, indicating the wrapped parcel under my arm.

“Sure, anytime,” I replied. “It’s the least I could do for an old friend. And you can keep them as long as you like. Their use is usually rather restricted, of course, but Royceton’s closed for the spring break now, and anyway the head librarian’s a female friend of mine.” I smiled.

He laughed. “Ha, ha . . . the same old Walt I knew back at Royceton! Bet she’s ‘stacked’ too!” He guffawed. Then he turned serious as he unwrapped the parcel I had given him with trembling fingers. He read the titles of the books aloud as he laid them reverently down upon the desk: “CULTES DES GOULES; THE R’LYEH TEXT: FRAGMENTARY TRANSCRIPTIONS; The CONFESSIONS of the Mad Monk Clithanus; The Altuan BOOK OF NON AMYA,” he breathed excitedly. “And this, the crowning glory, THE CELAENO FRAGMENTS, compiled and translated by Laban Shrewsbury himself!” He nearly shouted at this last. “Wonderful, Walt, wonderful!” He calmed down slightly. “Walt, do you have any idea what these books are about?” He asked, indicating the pile he’d stacked with utmost care before him.

“Yes, I think so. They concern black magic, don’t they?”

“Well, not exactly . . . but you have the right idea.” He smiled.

“I’m glad they please you so, but I’m not too interested any longer in that field myself,” I answered truthfully. Having accepted a position at Royceton as a professor of history, I’d necessarily had to tone my interests down to those more down-to-earth. “Our experiments with psychic phemonena were one thing, but come on, Rich — DEMONS?” I laughed nervously.

“The Great Old Ones are much more than mere demons, my friend,” he chided me . . . then he shocked me with what he asked next.

“But being a professor of history, you must have heard of . . . the BLOOD-RITUALS OF RHYLKOS?”

“The BLOOD-RITUALS!” I gasped aloud. I shuddered involuntarily as I recalled naught that was wholesome concerning that nauseous bible of the blood-mad god of the Void known as Uvhash. Countless blood-orgies of the decadent Roman Empire were attributed to the worship of this foul demon, and it was rumored that even the terrible mad emperor Caligula himself owned the vampiric feaster as one of his unspeakable sponsors!

“Yes,” I answered my friend slowly, “But I thought Marcus Antistus swore in his CLAVICULE COSMOGRAPHICUM that all copies had been destroyed?”

His answer surprised me. “Antistus was a masterful wizard, and his KEYS TO THE COSMOS was indeed a masterwork, but even that Roman centurion-turned-magician and practitioner didn’t dare reveal everything! He laughed mockingly, and produced before my eyes a slim crimson-bound folio. It was, of course, the notorious BLOOD-RITUALS, and I shudderingly recalled rumors concerning a murder-cult that had been based around Braving a few years ago. This cult was said to have worshipped as icons such notorious serial killers as Bundy, Kemper, Shawcross and Gary Ridgeway, the recently confessed Green River Killer, and had for their bible this selfsame volume!

Richard’s voice brought me back to the present. “You’ve noticed I’ve changed, haven’t you Walt? Read one page and you’ll be changed too.”

I was curious. Here before me in Richard Gavin’s hands sat a legend! “May I see?” I asked sheepishly.

“No!” His vehemence was startling. “Not at night,” he explained, calming down once again. “Wait until morning,” he urged.

“Well, that’s quite a find,” I said, not knowing what else to say. “It must be too old to even handle, let alone read,” I suggested.

“No,” he answered, “it’s imbued with some mystical force which keeps it from crumbling. Indeed, the book is impervious to fire, water, nigh indestructible.

“But as I was saying earlier, I want to tell you about the Great Old Ones. They inhabited this world once, before we humans evolved, but they lost their foothold on this fledgling Earth by practicing what you called ‘black magic’. They were expelled by a much more powerful force of entities known as the Elder Gods — whose all-powerful hoary leader is known as Nodens, Lord of the Great Abyss, and whose members also include golden and shimmering Oztalun, shadowy and shapeless Shavalyoth and incandescent Yaggdytha of Bel-Yarnak — but the Old Ones are ever striving to reclaim our Earth, indeed the very universe once more.

“There are even some who remain yet on Earth, who escaped this expulsion. Great Cthulhu lies sleeping in sunken R’lyeh, ever dreaming of the day when the stars will be right and R’lyeh will rise out of the ocean deeps, and he will be released from his aeons-old imprisonment by his evil fish-frog minions; Nyarlathotep the Faceless howls in the darkness of the Wood of N’gai while wild beasts lick his hands in supplication; Ithaqua the Wind-Walker strides the air above the Earth while Lloigor and Zhar lie beneath the Plateau of Sung, ever attended by the faithful Tcho-Tchos, and so on.”

As he paused in his speech I was left to my thoughts. It all seemed so impossible, so untrue, yet in the back of my mind I had my doubts. I steadied my shaking hands and took a sharp intake of breath, trying to calm my nerves.

My host must have noticed my anxiety, however, for he rose from his chair and strode over to my own. “I didn’t mean to alarm you, Walt,” he reassured me. “You must be exhausted from your trip. I’m going to stay up for awhile with the books you’ve brought for me and try to familiarize myself with their wonders, but for you I think it’s time to sleep.”

He led the way to my room and bid me good night, admonishing me to make sure the windows were shut tight and to lock the door.

“Why the door?” I asked.

“Just humor me, okay?” Was all he said as he walked down the hall to his study. For some reason I regretted his leaving me alone in the hallway, for the corridor was dark and I had the strange sensation that some form of evil lurked nearby, not just something intangible but solid evil itself. I shrugged the feeling off with not a little effort and swung open the door to my room.

I walked in and flicked the light switch, but no lights came on to dispel the darkness. Upon further investigation I found matches and a few candles. I lit one. After changing for bed I blew out the candle and lay down. I began to mull the events over as they had thus far unfolded, then, still mystified, rolled over and went to sleep.

I was awakened abruptly by a storm raging outside. I looked at the illuminated face of the clock on the nightstand table. It read 2 A.M. I was about to try and go back to sleep again when I thought I heard someone shouting above the thunder.

I sensed that feeling of evil once again. Then I heard a sound, like someone or something ponderous was walking up the hall corridor toward my room. The sound was more like a lumbering pounding than a walking, rather, and it was coming closer to my door.

I hugged the blankets to my chin as if to hide from something unknown and insidious. It was then that the stench made its presence known in my room. It was a noxious smell, which caused me to cough and sneeze uncontrollably.

The stench was nearly unbearable now, gagging and cloying. I got out of bed and re-lit the burned down candle. It was then that the lumbering stopped. It sounded like it was right outside the bedroom door. An unreasoning fear came over me, like I’d never felt before, and I hastily blew out the candle. I stifled a sneeze. My heart felt as if it were ice as I heard something rattle the doorknob none too gently, and I was glad I’d locked the door as Richard had instructed me.

Whatever it was on the other side of the door stood there for a moment, for I could hear its rasping breathing, then it pounded down the corridor towards the study. I hastily drew on a bathrobe and opened the door slowly and cautiously. The thing was gone, but the stench it left behind was nearly palpable.

I heard shouting in the study at the end of the hall. It was Gavin’s voice, raised in some kind of sing-song chant. I ran to the door but found it locked. Before I could knock upon it a sound grew in intensity on the other side like nothing I had ever heard on this Earth . . . a sound not unlike a hundred different animals screaming in pain all at once!

I remembered what my friend had said about the Great Old Ones, how some yet remained on Earth waiting for the time to come when they would resume their terrible reign once more. Was that what lurked beyond the threshold of the study? I heard Richard’s voice call out in a commanding tone. It sounded something like “N’lnemx Uvhash f’tanen c’fayak dhya!”

The inhuman howling stopped, and the stench dissipated. I beat my fists upon the door.

“Richard!” I called through the door in alarm. “What’s going on in there?”

“Nothing,” he replied after a moment’s hesitation. “Now go back to bed, Walt, and I’ll tell you all about it in the morning.” “Like hell you will!” I called. I kicked forcefully against the lock, shattering it, and I shoved my way past Gavin into the room. It was a shambles. Books, chairs, furnishings, all were scattered about in a state of disrepair. A window was broken, and rain had poured in, soaking the carpet. In fact, about the only thing yet standing was a single desk arranged in the center of the room like some ceremonial altar. Atop it lay a book. I picked it up and read the title. It was the BLOOD-RITUALS OF RHYLKOS.

“You’ve summoned one of these unbelievable entities from beyond the stars, haven’t you, Richard?” I accused as if I were scolding a petulant child.

“Yes.” He hung his head. “It was a servitor of Uvhash himself.” He sobbed softly. “I tried to stop it, to appease it somehow . . . but it had been sent by its Lord and Master to deliver a message to me.” He sobbed on as I went to the wet bar, which had also miraculously escaped destruction, and poured us both a drink. He continued.

“It told me that the blood-god would come for me . . . tomorrow night.”

I can’t believe I asked the next question.”What — what did it look like?”

“It was . . . vaguely anthropoid, but humped and formless . . . partially immaterial . . . a seething twisted mass . . . I can’t really explain it. You’d have to see it for yourself, I’m afraid.”

Again I surprised myself. “Yes!” I cried. “Yes, I want to see it!”

A strange feeling had come over me. Perhaps it was the touch of something unknown and unknowable, perhaps it was the lure of the forbidden, or perhaps it was even a result of the onset of madness — but imagine being faced with the proof of some sort of life, however malevolent it proved to be, from beyond the stars! I wanted to see it, to communiate with it, to learn the occult mysteries surrounding it!

“No! I won’t let you see it,” protested Richard. “It is horrible beyond imagining, especially for one so unversed in the occult sciences as you, despite our experiments at Royceton.” He muttered: “Perhaps if Uvhash had sent one of the Hounds . . . but no, they’re really just as bad . . . if not worse . . . !” His face was grim now, fueled with malice. Then he relaxed and his look softened. “Walt,” he apologized, “If you had seen it . . . it would surely have driven you mad.”

I glanced again at the BLOOD-RITUALS and asked him to teach me the details surrounding this fantastic mythos. Now HE was surprised. He opened his mouth as if to protest, then his face brightened slightly as he seemed to be mulling over my request. He finally muttered, “Yes, I could use your assistance in helping me forestall IT . . .” Then more loudly: “All right, Walt, but I won’t be responsible for any harm that befalls your body or soul!”

“What do you mean?” I asked warily.

“There is a price to pay for communion with one such as Uvhash,” he replied. “Look.” He slowly unbuttoned his cuff and rolled up his shirt sleeve. It was partially healed over, but it appeared as though something had gnawed on his arm for quite a while.

“This happened the first time I ventured astrally, too far beyond my limitations,” he explained. “Instead of calling Uvhash before me — I went to him. The blood-god caught me unprepared. I escaped only by chance. I called out for aid to another entity, Gi-Hoveg, the Aether-Anenome. It appeared in its awesome majesty — a giant spiky ball of spongy flesh surrounded by numerous eyes set between its countless spikes. It attacked Uvhash with its cosmic powers, fantastic and completely nebuloid. It drove the blood-god off.”

I was speechless. This was all so incredible. Was this my friend Richard Gavin, or DR. STRANGE of Marvel Comics fame? And, if all of what my friend was telling me was even remotely based in fact, then all I’d been taught of the material world at large was totally wrong. It was a repulsive idea — and yet it strangely attracted me, like being privy to some awesome secret.

Richard sighed and rolled his sleeve down again. “Morning is still a few hours away, but we can sleep in peace now. Not Uvhash nor any of his servitors — not loathsome, wispy Star Vampire nor those dreaded Hounds of Tindalos — will be back to visit us again tonight. But we must prepare ourselves for his coming tomorrow night!”

Bidding Richard good night (for what else could I say?) I went back to my room. But sleep did not come easy once again. My mind was filled with wonder and awe. I wanted to learn the secrets of the universe, to hold the key to the unknowable within my grasp, but it bothered me as well. Was man meant to voyage far in such fantastic explorations? I fell asleep debating with myself whether I should go through with it or not — and dreading the consequences of either decision, both for Richard and I and for the very world.

***

I awoke to find the sun shining in through my latticed windows. It was a welcome sight. Everything that had occurred last night seemed so unreal now that at first I wondered if it were all just a nightmare I’d had. But I knew deep down in my heart that it wasn’t.

Richard met me in the hallway and led me out to the veranda, where a delicious breakfast of sausage, toast and eggs awaited us, and while we ate he gave me a clearer background on just what the Great Old Ones were.

“Eons before human beings as we know them today evolved on Earth, a great battle between the malevolent Old Ones and the more benevolent Elder Gods was raging through time and space. And as my late fellow Wisconsinite William Thelder’s THE ULTIMATE WAR (which concerns this very battle) tells us, the omnipotent Elder Gods, led by Nodens, beat the Great Old Ones back, and imprisoned them in sundry places: Cthulhu in sunken R’lyeh, Hastur bound to a star in the Hyades, Nyarlathotep here in Wisconsin near Rick’s Lake, and so on. But the Great Old Ones were not lax inside their bonds. On Earth and other spheres they found primitive humans and other more fantastic races willing to practice their particular brand of ‘black magic,’ in small pockets of cult worship likely held somewhere far beneath the Elder Gods’ notice, hoping thereby to release Cthulhu and his diabolic brethren once and for all.” He went on to give examples of such mind-numbing escapes, both temporary and permanent, and explained to me the happenings at Dunwich, Innsmouth, and Arkham, Massachusetts, and countless other places — even his own state of Wisconsin and my own beloved Minnesota. He talked especially of the locale surrounding Braving, which seemed to be a focal point for eldritch activity.

As he talked on I listened intently. I rushed through breakfast, anxious to start my sorcery apprenticeship. Finally Richard finished his breakfast and his diatribe and we adjourned to his library, the study being out of the question considering last night’s damage.

“It’s lucky I had the foresight to bring the books you brought into the library last night,” he explained, “or else they’d be trashed as well now and we’d be nowhere without them. I’m afraid I lost a great deal of my own priceless books last night.

“Okay, I’ll pour us a drink and we’ll begin. You may start with the R’LYEH TEXT if you wish, Walt, but I’d recommend something more mild, perhaps the CONFESSIONS OF CLITHANUS?”

Not one to be outdone in anything, I answered, “I think I’ll take the R’LYEH TEXT first, even if I can’t pronounce the damn thing — but just what are we looking for anyway, Richard?”

“The Great Old Ones are vastly powerful,” he explained, “and as such they are — much like our own relatively recent god of the Christian faith — very jealous gods indeed! They have their rivalries, especially among their respective elemental classifications.”

He must have noticed my bewilderment. “I’ll back up here a second, Walt, and explain the elemental theory of the Great Old Ones. Cthulhu is a water elemental, his powers belonging to the waters more or less, and as such is the sworn enemy of his own half-brother the air elemental Hastur; Nyarlathotep, whose powers are more or less earth-based, has been known in the past to have his skirmishes with the fire elemental Cthugha. You get the idea. At any rate, many scholars have attempted to establish these elemental classifications and delineate them amongst the various Old Ones — spurred on of course by both Shrewsbury’s THE CELAENO FRAGMENTS and the Comte d’Erlette’s CULTES DES GOULES. Thelder’s aforementioned THE ULTIMATE WAR is an indispensible volume in this area of expertise too, as well as Carter Linwood’s DEVIL-GODS OF THE LU-KTHU MYTHOS. But I’ve gone throughly through them both . . . all to no avail in my current plight.”

He paused to refresh our drinks before continuing. “The problem at hand, Walt, is twofold: first, we must cull all the information we can from these volumes concerning the blood-mad god of the Void, for we must know all there is to know about our enemy. Second, we must find a spell of exorcism or warding powerful enough to drive off Uvhash for good, or failing that we must attempt to enlist the aid of one of ITS rivals as a powerful ally, so that we may use it to vanquish the blood-god. We could even call upon one of the Elder Gods, perhaps even Nodens himself — though I sincerely doubt that they would listen to me in light of my crimes committed in the names of the Great Old Ones, their immortal enemies!”

He halted, as if to gather his thoughts as I wondered at this last remark. Then: “I can no longer call upon Gi-Hoveg. His price is even higher than the blood-god’s. He’s the reason the people of Ashton hate me so, and with good reason, I’m afraid. “Besides, Uvhash is obviously an elemental of the aether, as his appelation ‘mad god of the Void’ suggests. The ‘Aether-Anenome’ would be no good against him a second time. No, we’ll have to call upon one of the water entities, perhaps Great Cthulhu himself or even Y’lla the titanic tentacled sea-worm, which dwells in its sunken citadel called K’hraa.

“And please don’t think me a monster, Walt. You see, I MUST drive IT off if I value my own life — and I DO! I called IT that first time intending it to be the sole communion with IT — but it didn’t quite work out that way.” He paused again, and began to unbutton and remove his shirt. His usual practice of wearing all-black attire had hidden it previously from sight, but as he removed his shirt I now saw that his shoulders, chest, back, and nearly everywhere the skin was exposed were covered in a cross-hatching of bloody furrows dotted here and there with blood-encrusted puncture marks that looked like they might have been made with knitting needles. It looked for all the world like he might have undergone a ritual of torture such as the eastern “death of a thousand cuts.”

He donned his shirt again and smiled wryly. “You see now, my friend, that my condition of ill health isn’t due to any bout of flu — it’s Uvhash, he’s drawn to me like a drug . . . and as a result I’m afraid I’ve become frightfully ANEMIC!”

I was staggered by this revelation. Speechless, I took up the R’LYEH TEXT in my numb fingers, now more determined than ever to help my poor, tortured friend. I sat at a small table and began reading, often having to re-read several passages in an attempt to make sense of what I was reading. It was difficult going at first, but as I read more and more concerning this senses-shattering mythology I came to know even better what Richard Gavin had been going on about. His own gasp of this mythos seemed to be on target, even if he had made some unfortunate summoning choices!

Our first task was the easiest, for aside from the BLOOD-RITUALS, which had gained Richard a small sheaf of typed notes, very few volumes even mentioned Uvhash. I have our notes on hand now (all except the BLOOD-RITUALS excerpts, and of course the book itself, which lies pinned beneath Richard’s corpse), and copy them here for posterity.

First, from the Altuan wizard’s self-titled BOOK OF NON AMYA:

‘Beware ye, for the Feaster in the Void arrives with the coming of the storm, or with the fall of night. It can be summoned with the aid of the blood-orb, but at dire peril for the summoner! For once called forth, it must feed upon the summoner’s very lifeblood . . . and Uvhash, the blood-mad god of the Void is indeed a hungry and greedy god . . .’

Next, from Shrewsbury’s CELAENO FRAGMENTS:

‘They are lean and athirst, those shadowy Hounds, but their thirst is as naught compared to that of their master, the blood-god of the Void. For Uvhash dwells upon the life-force of others, and hungry is he. Indeed, all forms of life are as food to Him and his amorphous horde. Those of Rhylkos and their cousins, the Hounds of Tindalos, seek out the living greedily, and suck their horrid nourishment therefrom — ’til naught remains but an empty dry husk.’ And from the R’LYEH TEXT:

‘The glutter of gore hails from Rhylkos, that planet nearest Tindalos, and may be called by way of the blood-orb when the stars are in conjunction with . . .’

There was more, of course, but we were trying to learn how to FORESTALL Uvhash, not SUMMON IT!

By far the most thought-provoking quote was one gathered earlier by Richard on his perusal of Carter Linwood’s DEVIL-GODS OF THE LU-KTHU MYTHOS:

‘I’m not precisely sure just where ghostly Tindalos can be found — perhaps it is invisible and immaterial, as its appelation seems to imply — but I feel certain that Rhylkos can be equated with planet Mars in our own solar system. It seems fitting that this angry red planet would be the home of the god known in the BLOOD-RITUALS OF RHYLKOS as Uvhash, and this theory seems to be backed up adequately by the details NASA reported regarding the soil experiment conducted on Mars by a Viking lander in 1976. To see if anything lived on the surface of Mars’ soil, the lander introduced a “snack” of radioactively tagged nutrients to said soil. This “snack” was instantly absorbed and metabolized, or “eaten.” It was as if the very clay of Mars ate the food!

And having also read the Aihai journals concerning the “Dweller in the Martian Depths” and the horror that yet dwells in the nighted Vaults of Yoh-Vombis, I can well believe this planet harbors the vampiric entity known as Uvhash, the blood-mad god of the Void . . .’

My eyes were bloodshot and my mind was boggled. I lifted my gaze wearily from the books at hand. It was then that I espied the accursed stone orb sitting on the hearth across the room. It was seemingly perfectly round, and was a garish red hue, like blood.

“What’s that?” I asked my host, pointing to the stone sphere.

“Hmm?” he looked up bleary-eyed. “Oh. That’s the blood-orb,” he replied matter-of-factly. “It’s how I called upon Uvhash — at first, before IT started visiting me on ITS own accord.” He smiled wanly and returned to the CELAENO FRAGMENTS in his lap.

However, I needed a break from the books myself, and crossed the room to stand before the blood-orb. My gaze seemed drawn to it, and I began to see hazy visions forming in its murky depths. At length the cloudy surface cleared, and it seemed to become transparent, like bloody crimson crystal. I stared deeper and deeper still, horrified and at the same time mystified by what I saw in its depths. Yet I could not pull away. I seemed to experience a sense of falling, whirling downward into its seductive depths.

***

My astral self fluttered to a landing upon a clifftop overlooking a storm-tossed sea, and once settled, I took in my surroundings. The sky was dark, lashed with lightnings that hardly sufficed to dispel the gloom. In the battering surf I espied a hundred, nay, a thousand figures struggling inland. They appeared to be fish-frog men, and over their bestial shoulders they heaved upon tow-ropes. At the end of the ropes was an immense pedestal, upon which sat a towering figure, vaguely anthropoid, but scaled and taloned, with huge bat-like wings erupting from its back. Its head was rather octopoid, a beard of twisting tentacles comprising most of its daemonic face. By the chants cried out by the fish-men,and also by such descriptions given in the R’LYEH TEXT, I knew this to be a representation of Cthulhu himself.

As I gazed upon this colossal figure, it suddenly MOVED, and I knew it not to be carven from a green soap-stone as I had first surmised, but rather that it was ALIVE!

Farther out to sea the waves boiled up and suddenly parted, and a vast crenelated seashell arose, bearing a likewise colossal figure of a wizened, yet powerful looking figure, manlike with seashells and corals adorning his long flowing hair, and a beard of tentacles. Gigantic seahorses pulled his seashell-chariot, and I knew this awesome figure to be Nodens, Lord of the Great Abyss.

Nodens began to pumel the figure of Cthulhu with powerful blasts of eldritch green fire. Cthulhu screamed out in pain and fury in an alien tongue, as fish-frog men were scattered to and fro.

***

I was dimly aware of someone shouting in my ear, shaking me firmly by the shoulders. “Walt, wake up! Snap out of it, man!” screamed Gavin.

I was back in my own body again. Yet it had all seemed so real. Had I actually astrally-travelled? Had I actually witnessed the culmination of an ancient, eldritch struggle between outre beings incomprehensibly vast?

“What happened?” I babbled inanely.

“My god, man, don’t you know?” Richard looked terrified. “You spoke the words. You’ve summoned Uvhash, and he’s coming!” I heard the wind rising outside; the sky had darkened over and lightning began to lash the sky, followed by a tremendous thunderburst. “Walt, we’re unprepared!” shouted my host in desperation.

I was dumbfounded.

“Walt, hand me the BLOOD-RITUALS and light those candles over there!” He indicated a small table by the French doors leading out to the veranda. I saw tall black candles set in ornate fixtures atop it, and its surface seemed to be inscribed with bizarre symbols and geometric shapes. “Hurry, man, HURRY!” shrieked my friend.

I handed him the red-bound folio and ran over to the table to light the candles. Before I could light the match the horrible stench came again, but this time a hundred times worse. Richard then joined me before the table. He threw back a rug in front of it and carved directly into the hardwood floor I saw a seven-pointed star set inside a circle. He grabbed my arm and pulled me bodily into the circle. He raised the BLOOD-RITUALS and began chanting frantically.

Something slapped wetly on the veranda. The glass doors crashed in forcefully, stabbing us with skin-slicing glass shards. Lightning flashed, illuminating the shape on the veranda, and in that hellish glance I saw evil incarnate!

How to describe the unnameable? It seemed to resemble an amorphous mass of wildly flailing tentacles. It was multi-eyed and leather-winged. It was reddish in color and seemed to be drenched in blood. It was all of these, and yet it was also ALIVE AND BREATHING AND MOVING! It towered over the mansion like a mountain over a molehill — and from it came an awful discordant whstling or piping sound which I somehow knew to be its incomprehensible oration.

Needle-like siphons on the tips of a multitude of tentacles darted in through the shattered French doors. Richard Gavin remained stock-still. He stood there grim-faced and it seemed his body was made of steel just then. Blue fire sprang forth from his fingertips to strike the thing and he screamed out:

AI NODENS! AI NODENS! N’GHA-YHAA! IA UVHASH THAGN GHYU RHYLKOS!”

The blue fire burned like an inferno, yet it seemed to have no effect upon the thing. At once Richard turned to me and calmly said: “Walt, it’s over. The Lord of the Great Abyss has denied me, as I knew he would. Even the Blue Flame of Yaggdytha of Bel-Yarnak fails me now. I can hold it back no longer. Go now, my friend, while you still can.”

With that, Richard Gavin resigned himself to his fate and walked toward the screeching abomination. At the same moment the madly whipping tentacles of the thing came together into one giant point and stabbed directly into his chest. Then the horror called Uvhash, the blood-mad god of the Void, began to feed once again.

I stood petrified as I watched the body of Richard Gavin begin to deflate rapidly like a child’s punctured bicycle tire. As his body was drained of its life’s fluid it folded in upon itself, flopping over the BLOOD-RITUALS OF RHYLKOS like an empty balloon. When it had finished its gruesome task the ancient evil withdrew as quickly as it had appeared, sated — for the moment. The storm died down rapdily then, and all became sunny and warm once more.

And that is my tale. As I sit here writing at the table, the body of my friend Richard Gavin beginning to putrify on the floor, I suddenly fear that I have lingered here a bit too long. I have a feeling that Uvhash will come back for me tonight, or perhaps even sooner, as he did many times for my friend. I only hope that those siphons are not TOO PAINFUL . . . and that Uvhash is not TOO GREEDY in his appetites this night. I had better end this narrative and gather those books together, and begin my reading. Already the sky is darkening and the storm is beginning to rage outside.


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