Y’ha-Nthlei Rising

I

The night hung heavy like a woolen blanket across Innsmouth Harbor. A soft silver moon was on the rise. It cast a ghostly pall over the waterfront of the decaying seaside village. A mile off shore soft lights danced across Devil Reef. They were lanterns, and their yellow flame danced like fireflies on a soft breeze.

There was activity out on the reef, more than usual; had been activity for nearly the entire three months David Knox had been in hiding, and watched the events from Innsmouth’s shadowed dockside each night. Still, in the past few days the activity had increased significantly. Something was going on; something was going to happen out there where the ocean floor dropped off to abysmal depths just beyond the craggy outcropping. And it was going to happen soon. Knox was certain of it.

A sudden sound caused Knox to look left. No more than fifty feet away a cluster of Deep Ones appeared from a side alley. The pungent scent of fish floated on the air as they shuffled across Water Street and climbed atop the low stone wall that lined the harbor. They threw off their long trench coats and wide brimmed hats, and then dove one by one into the harbor. Knox watched as they began their swim toward the reef. His eyes trailed in the dark, followed the sound of their occasional splashing.

“Fish heads,” he softly voiced his contempt as the sound of splashing water receded toward Devil Reef.

Knox turned his thoughts inward and brought to mind his recurring nightmare. He had dreamed of Y’ha-nthlei rising from the ocean floor off Devil Reef and the release of Dagon. And he was in his nightmare, and saw the great cyclopean city rising from the ocean floor, and the great tentacled Dagon rising from the murky depths, and a multitude of servile Deep Ones swimming about in exultant glee. And they saw and pursued him.

The nightmare had recurred six time since. Each time it was clearer. Each time Y’ha-nthlei had risen closer to the surface, and Dagon had risen closer, and had reached for Knox. Dagon’s writhing tentacles had thrashed about through the murky water intent on the fleeing Knox as he swam for the surface in a desperate attempt to escape the pursuing god.

And each time Knox had awakened in a cold sweat, short of breath. A deep seated fear clutched his soul. He’d sit up in the dark and peer about the little ramshackled one room hut he’d commandeered on the outskirts of Innsmouth’s south side when he’d arrived three months before. 

But raising Y’ha-nthlei? Was that possible? It seemed improbable at best. The Great Old Ones could do it perhaps, but not the Deep Ones. They were just minions. They didn’t possess the same terrible and supreme power as the Great Old Ones. And the activity out on Devil Reef…whatever was going on out there, Knox couldn’t be certain that raising Y’ha-nthlei was their purpose. Preposterous, he concluded softly. “They couldn’t do it.”

“You don’t think?” came a soft voice from behind Knox.

It was sudden, unexpected. Knox nearly jumped out of his shoes. He tensed, hunched his shoulders, and began to turn.

A man was reclining on a rotting wooden dockside bench. He was leaning back, his arms outstretched along the bench’s backrest, his long thin legs stretched out before him, ankles crossed. His long black coat fanned out beneath him like an unfurled windless sail. A wide brimmed black hat sat askew atop his head. His white face and hair shown ghostly in the shadows and soft moonlight. A gleam from an unknown source radiated from his pink eyes.

“Well, something‘s going on out there,” Knox voiced the thought softly as he focused his eyes on the lantern light dancing across Devil Reef.

“Eyeah, it would seem so,” the stranger chuckled, straightened his hat, then pushed himself off the rotting bench and stepped next to Knox.

Knox remained silent. He glanced at the tall lanky white haired stranger, found him staring across the water of Innsmouth Harbor to Devil Reef. The stranger sighed, his stoic features momentarily revealing an ashen expression of concern as he frowned, and then he sighed again.

“Do you know what’s going on out there?” Knox finally broke the silence.

“Do you?” Mr. White questioned, his eyes still on Devil Reef and the dancing light of the lanterns.

“No, no I don’t,” Knox said, shaking his head.

“Well, sometimes I don’t trust my own thoughts and instincts,”  White replied, his voice softer. He paused, shoved his hands in his coat pockets, and then slowly turned to face Knox. “Tell me about your nightmares.” But he already knew.

“Nightmares?”

“Yes, nightmares,” White said, turning his eyes back to the lights dancing across Devil Reef. “Dagon, the Deep Ones, Y’ha-nthlei. That’s why you’re here.”

“How do you know why I‘m here?!” Knox was incensed.

“You don’t go around slinking in the shadows at night, especially here on the waterfront in this town, watching what’s going on out there on that reef without some motive.”

Knox stared in disbelief, the wind momentarily taken out of his sails. “Who are you anyway? Why are YOU here?”

“My name is White. And I’m here for the same reason as you. Nightmares.”

”Nightmares.”

“Yes, nightmares,” White replied.

A moment of silence passed between them. Knox turned his eyes to the dancing lights. Finally he spoke, his voice soft and reflective. “Dagon’s city rising from the ocean floor,” he said. “That’s my nightmare.”

“Y’ha-nthlei rising,” White muttered the thought. “Perhaps.” He sighed and then a grin began to crawl across his face. “Well, let’s go to the Hall of Dagon. I’m sure someone there will…shall we say…let the fish out of the bag?!”

Knox raised an eyebrow in disbelief. “Wait a minute. We’re gonna walk right into the Hall of Dagon and ask them what they’re doing out on Devil Reef?”

“No need to ask them anything,” White smiled. “We’ll just listen and observe.”

“Just listen and observe,” Knox replied gruffly, more a statement than a question.

“Yes,” White nodded. “Listen and observe. They’ll never know we’re there.” His eyes widened as he chuckled. “I’ve been at this a very long time, and I DO have a few tricks up my sleeve. No need to worry. Let’s go, Mr. Knox.” He turned and started off into the shadows. “Always wanted to see praying fish!”

“Wait a minute; how do you know my name?” Knox questioned as he followed after the departing Mr. White.

“I know many things, Mr. Knox,” White replied with a soft cackle. There was a smile of humor on his face, a light in his eyes. “You’d be amazed at the things I know!” And his soft cackle turned to full fledged riotous laughter, enough to wake all the fish in Innsmouth.

Knox just sighed, shook his head, and hurried to catch up.

II

Knox and White stood on the sidewalk in front of the pillared Hall of Dagon on the north end of New Church Green. They stared up at the white façade. A great pillared porch stretched the width of the building. Above the porch hung a black sign with gold lettering that read “Esoteric Order of Dagon.” The double doors of the Hall stood open. Light and sound poured forth into the night. A service was being conducted within, and the hissing voices of congregates echoed forth.

Ia! Ia! R’lyeh – Cthulhu ftagn! Ia! Ia!

Ia! Mglui naflftagn Dagon e Y’ha-nthlei!

“Oh, they’re good. They’re very good,” White said softly with a smile. “But it won’t do them any good.” There was a shifting shadow behind him. White glanced over his shoulder and grinned. A couple approached – a Deep One and its human wife. He grabbed Knox by the shoulder and gently pulled him out of their way. “Ah,” White said softly, his eyes following the approaching couple. “Make way for Mister and Misses Fish; we don’t want to keep them from their services.”

Knox watched the Deep One and its wife pass them by, the scent of rotting fish suddenly overwhelming. The couple passed without so much as a glance. As though White and Knox were invisible. Or weren’t there. It had been so all the way from the waterfront. White and Knox had walked up Babson Street, turned onto Federal, and straight through the middle of town on their way to New Church Green and the Hall of Dagon. Here and there they saw Deep Ones shuffling about, hybrids in various stages of change. And human females. Not a one had taken notice of Knox and White.

Knox sighed away his momentary fear and apprehension. He watched the couple disappear inside the Hall, and then turned his eyes to the sign above the porch. “Esoteric Order of Dagon,” he voiced softly as he read the sign. “This place isn’t the original Masonic building the feds destroyed back in ’28.”

“No, it’s not, but I’ll bet it smells the same inside as the original,” White replied as he nodded at the open doors.

“Inside,” Knox echoed softly. He knew they were invisible to the townsfolk, but the apprehension and fear began to return. Walking into the Hall in the midst of a Dagon service just wasn’t his idea of rational thought. But he shook his head, gave in, and turned his eyes to the open door. “Well, if I’m to be Dagon fodder, let’s get it over with,” Knox said with a sigh, and started toward the door.

White shoved his hands in his pockets and followed. A soft and barely discernible vibration in the ground caused him to glance down at his feet as he mounted the steps. Probably just a fish dance inside, he decided. And without so much as a pause, he and Knox disappeared into the Hall of Dagon.

“…and the glory that is Y’ha-nthlei shall be ours forever!” the big ugly fish man wearing the tiara hissed triumphantly from a raised floor opposite the entrance.

The fish man was certainly a big fish man, even bigger with the tiara he wore. Certainly the fish priest leading his devoted school of fish. And all about the Hall other fish men were gathered. Big and little. Many were in various stages of change. Some were hardly noticeable but for wrinkled skin at the neck and bulging glassy unwinking eyes. Others looked like something out of The Creature from the Black Lagoon, only uglier. And with them were their human females in various stages of pregnancy. The scent of decaying fish was nauseating.

“Ia! Ia! Cthulhu!” the fish priest added, thrusting his webbed hands into the air. “Ia! Ia! Dagon! Ia! Ia! Y’ha-nthlei!”

“Ia! Ia! Cthulhu! Ia! Ia! Dagon! Ia! Ia! Y’ha-nthlei!” the congregants echoed.

A momentary murmur echoed through the Hall. It quickly quieted as the Deep One leading the service slowly lowered his webbed hands. The fish priest paused momentarily, surveyed those gathered, and then hissed softly, “The hour is nearly upon us; we shall then gather to witness the glory of Y’ha-nthlei. Be prepared.”

The service ended with that proclamation. The murmur erupted again in general hissing discussion, some recognizable some unrecognizable, as they rose from their seats and mingled with one another.

Knox and White stood just inside the door. “I see no rational reason for water beings such as these to want to raise Y’ha-nthlei to the surface of the ocean,” White said softly as he leaned close to Knox. “If, of course, that is their plan.”

“Does sound rather ridiculous,” Knox agreed.

“Anyway, let’s mingle with the fishies and see what we can find out,” White said and started toward the center aisle of the Hall. He paused and turned to face Knox. “By the way, they can’t see us, nor can they hear us.”

“That’s good to know,” Knox said with a touch of sarcasm although he already knew it. “Maybe I won’t be Dagon fodder after all!”

White chuckled as he turned and began to weave amongst the Dagon congregants.

Although the Deep One who’d lead the service in the Hall of Dagon was huge, White matched it in height. He stood face to face with the Deep One, staring into its unblinking glassy eyes, only inches away. The brim of White’s hat nearly touched the Deep One’s sloping forehead. To his left stood Knox, doing all he could to control his stomach from the overpowering smell of rotting fish.

“Hmph,” White said softly, his gaze still fixed on the Deep One. “This is one ugly cod.”

“Yeah, a face only a mother could love,” Knox replied in contempt.

“Well, nice to meet you,” White cackled to the Deep One, and tipped his hat.

“Good thing they can’t see or hear us,” Knox said softly as the Deep One turned, shuffled across the raised floor, down two steps, and began to mingle with the crowd.

White crossed his arms and watched the fish priest join its brethren, and then sighed as he surveyed the gathered congregants. “Well, the fishies aren’t letting the fish out of the bag,” he said softly, and then started toward the crowd.

Knox stared at White, and then started after him. As far as Knox was concerned, he was certain the fishies didn’t need to let the fish out of the bag.  White knew what was going on, and was just playing for time. Or playing some game. Knox was convinced. And for some inexplicable reason the sudden thought that White knew what was going on brought a measure of peace to Knox. After all, this White just wasn’t your ordinary run of the mill anti-Great Old Ones crusader. He could shield their presence from the Deep Ones.

As he moved amidst the shuffling Deep Ones, Knox was appalled by the closeness. He’d been close to them before, but not THIS close. Their glassy unblinking eyes, their hissing voices, their unbearable fish smell, their fish breath in his face. How their human wives could stand it was beyond him. Man, talk ‘bout goin fishin. And Knox shook his head in disgust.

Knox stumbled into White who had suddenly stopped. White slowly turned to face him. His narrowed eyes were darting about the room. Something had caught his attention. And the expression on his face told Knox something was wrong.

“Someone knows we’re here,” White said softly as he glanced about the room.

Knox focused his thoughts as he peered about. “Man, I feel like we’re being watched,” he whispered.

“We are,” White confirmed. “Come, this way.”

 White abruptly turned and made his way to one side of the great hall. The grin he wore turned to a broad smile as he and Knox approached the young woman who stood there alone, her eyes following them. Her long dark hair was stringy, unkempt. She was pale, drawn, her eyes dull and weary. And she was very pregnant. White paused, glanced over his shoulder at the congregants, and then turned to the young woman.

“Ah, Ms. Daniels…,” White began.

“How do you know who I am?” she interrupted softly.

“How is it that you see…?” White began.

”And hear,” Knox added.

“Yes, see and hear me…us?” White questioned.

“I don’t know. But they can’t see or hear you…,” Carrie replied.

“No matter; so you’re a breeder,” White interrupted. He gently touched her stomach and added, “Got a little fishie in the ole bread basket, ay?”

“My third.”

Knox turned to White and gestured over his shoulder. “If they see her talking…”

“They’ll think she’s talking to herself,” he interrupted, and then turned his attention back to Carrie. “Now, something’s going on here; have any idea what?”

“I don’t know,” she shook her head. “At least I’m not sure. I’ve heard talk. Something about Y’ha-nthlei.”

“What about Y’ha-nthlei?” Knox asked.

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know,” Knox was disbelieving.

“She doesn’t,” White said as he glanced past Carrie over her shoulder. He reached out an arm, and forced Knox with him as he backed away four steps, ample room for the approaching Deep One.

“You gotta get me out of here,” Carrie said hurriedly, fear in her voice.

Knox glanced at the approaching Deep One. It was the biggest, ugliest, scariest fish thing he’d ever seen.

“Come, we see glory of Y’ha-nthlei,” the big ugly fish man hissed as it grabbed Carrie by the arm and dragged her away.

Knox and White watched them go. Carrie glanced over her shoulder, her eyes pleading for help. Knox sighed. He wished there was something he could do.

“Hmph,” White said. His tone of voice was soft and cold. “Must be the father of her baby.”

III

“We’ve gotta do something to help her,” Knox said softly as he and White walked a dark sidewalk in the decaying little seaside town.

They’d left the Hall of Dagon and were returning to the waterfront through Innsmouth’s crumbling north side. All around them the homes and buildings were in varying stages of decay and ruin. Many showed signs of fire, a result of the 1928 attack on the seaside village by federal agents. Others had collapsed due to age and neglect. There was little movement here. The townsfolk, even the Deep Ones, shunned this part of town due to the federal attack that’d struck there as thoroughly as it had struck the waterfront. Only on occasion did a shadow move, making the presence of someone or some thing known. And most of the streetlights in this part of town were inoperative. Either there was no power to them or their bulbs were burned out or broken. Ahead, a lone rare streetlight shed it ghostly glow, but did little to cut through the dark.

“No, we won’t,” White responded to Knox’s comment. “There’s nothing we can do for her. She’s tainted; always will be tainted. And that’s dangerous for you.”

Knox remained silent. He shoved his hands in his pockets. It’d been a momentary, if not rare, display of compassion, for Knox, wanting to do something to help Carrie Daniels. But he knew White was right. The Great Old Ones had her. There was nothing he or anyone else could do about it. He knew that even if they could rescue and take her from this crumbling seaside town, it wouldn’t make any difference. The Great Old Ones would find her and take her back.

“Well well well,” White interrupted Knox’s thoughts. “Look what we have here.”

Knox glanced at White, and then followed his gaze down the sidewalk to the intersection now only a few yards away. A lone Deep One had shuffled from the shadows. It stood under the ghostly glow of the street light, motionless, staring down Martin Street toward the waterfront. Its webbed hands were shoved in its trench coat pockets, and its wide brimmed hat was pulled low over its sloping forehead. The smell of the Deep One was overpowering as they gained the intersection. Knox tweaked his nose. The fish man continued to stare, unaware of their presence.

White leaned close and stared into its wide unblinking glassy eyes. “This one’s even uglier than the priest back in the Hall of Dagon,” he chuckled. “It’s no wonder you people came up with sea monster stories.” White jumped back as the Deep One suddenly stepped off the curb and started to shuffle across the street.

“You’re mad,” Knox muttered.

“You’re not the first to tell me that.”

Reaching the other side of the street, the Deep One disappeared into the dark as it continued toward Innsmouth’s waterfront.

White suddenly fell silent. A look of concern came over his features, his pink eyes aflame, but distant. He stared into the darkened Innsmouth night, and focused his energy on a sensation that hadn’t happened yet. It was a sensation, an event that he intuitively knew was moments away.

It had already happened once before and he’d been caught unaware of its approach. There had been a slight, nearly imperceptible vibration in the ground. White had felt it as he climbed the stairs to the Dagon Hall entrance. But he had shrugged it off, hadn’t been sure if it had actually happened. Perhaps some side effect of the human form he had taken. But not this time. This time he knew it was about to happen again. And it did. A slight vibration rolled beneath the earth. As before, it was nearly imperceptible.

“Did you feel that?” White questioned as he suddenly turned his gaze to Knox.

“No. Feel what?” Knox replied.

“A slight tremor,” White said. “An Earth tremor.”

“I didn’t feel anyth…,” Knox began.

A sudden movement caught Knox’s attention. Distracted, he turned his eyes to the moving shadow. Out of the dark shuffled another Deep One; its rocking gait took it slowly toward the intersection where he and White stood. Then another appeared. And another. They began to appear from everywhere. They shuffled through the shadows and beneath the pale light of the streetlight. Some were accompanied by their human wives. And all of them were headed in the same direction. To the waterfront.

Another tremor struck. The ground shook; nearby homes were rattled. Shutters and doors creaked on rusted hinges. Some decayed structures collapsed in a cloud of dust barely visible in the surrounding shadows. The softly glowing streetlight at the intersection rocked back and forth. The shadows cast by the feeble light gently rolled along building fronts. 

“Earthquake,” Knox said softly as he peered about.

“I’ve misjudged them,” White said, having ignored Knox’s comment. “It’s happening now.” He glanced at the Deep Ones shuffling by. “And they’re all gathering to watch.”

“Y’ha-nthlei,” Knox said. “They’re bringing Dagon’s city to the surface.”

“Yes, they are,” replied White. “And Dagon as well.”

“We’ve got to…,” Knox began.

“We’ve got to do nothing,” White interrupted hurriedly. “I’ll stop them. YOU…get out of this town now. You’ll be safe. Under my protection. They still won’t be able to see or hear you.”

“But you…,” Knox persisted.

“Go! Now!” I’ve no time to loose; can’t be standing here dawdling with you. Now go!” And White turned without another word and started toward the waterfront.

“They’ll kill you!” Knox called out.

White stopped and turned. He paused, and a smile crawled across his ghostly features. “I don’t think so,” he chuckled. “Don’t worry my friend. We’ll meet again. In another time, another place. Now go!” And he turned away and disappeared into the dark. Like the Deep Ones, he was headed for the waterfront.

Knox stood and stared into the shadows long after White had disappeared.

IV

Indeed, White had misjudged them. But it didn’t matter. He knew he had to act fast to stop the Deep Ones from raising Y’ha-nthlei and releasing Dagon. He had no doubt he could; only time, strangely enough, was the factor. He chuckled to himself as he made his way through the dark to Innsmouth’s waterfront. The Deep Ones and their consorts would be gathered, expectantly waiting for the great black stone cyclopean city Y’ha-nthlei to rise to the surface of the ocean. He considered a course of action; if he had to revert to his true form, they’d see the transformation, but they still wouldn’t comprehend his identity. His display of power would be enough to terrify them.

Ahead in the dark came the sound of hissing and gurgling excitement. The Deep One multitudes were gathering. This was their night, their special night. They were gathered to witness the rising of their god and his city from the depths of the ocean. Their expectant and exultant hissing voices began to echo through the night in the cadence of an unearthly chant. The moment was nearly upon them. And then another sound tore through the Innsmouth night.

It was another earthquake. Centered just beyond Devil Reef, it tore into the decaying seaside town. The ground shook, concrete cracked; hissing clouds of steam erupted into the night sky. Decaying warehouses began to crumble. The dock at the water’s edge swayed and buckled. A length of dock just north of the crumbling warehouse row twisted and collapsed into the harbor.

As the earth rolled beneath their feet, as the decaying town further crumbled around them, the hissing chant of the Deep Ones rose in pitch in a blend of awe and fear as they mingled at the water’s edge. White paused on Water Street near the twisting docks, and crossed his arms. He smiled. Sorry to disappoint you, he thought, and then stepped toward the rolling water of the harbor.

* *** *

“Dammit!” Knox mumbled as he hurried toward the waterfront. The earthquake continued to tear into the foundation of the decaying town. The ground rolled beneath his feet. He dodged falling glass, stone, brick, and wood. Just ahead the road seemed to roll and pitch like ocean waves. Another block and Knox would be at the waterfront. If there still is a waterfront, he thought.

* *** *

White paused at the water’s edge. He looked across the rolling waters of the harbor, saw swimming Deep Ones. His gaze shifted to those on shore, standing at the water’s edge along Water Street still hissing their chant. He chuckled as he watched them trying to maintain their footing while the earth moved beneath them. His chuckling suddenly stopped; the grin he wore turned to a stern mask of seriousness. “Time to stop this,” he said softly. He stepped onto the surface of the water. And the transformation began.

The chant stopped and a hissing cry of terror echoed through the night from those gathered at the Innsmouth waterfront. They turned in terror and began to move away. Deep Ones swimming in the harbor clambered for shore or a safe distance. A huge hulking ugly Deep One, dragging its visibly pregnant human wife along, pushed its way through the retreating crowd and toward the water’s edge. Something had happened, something sudden and unexpected. And stopping at the water’s edge, the hulking Deep One’s eyes went wide upon seeing the spectacle unfolding across the harbor.

A huge churning cloud had suddenly erupted from the water’s surface, seemingly having appeared from nowhere. It was highlighted in an eerie ethereal purple glow and charged with crackling bolts of purple lightning. It churned hundreds of feet into the night sky, growing as it hissed with its static charge, the writhing tentacles of purple lightning cutting across the sky. There was madness and death in that cloud, and when the mad laughter of many voices that was one echoed throughout the village and into the dark, the terrified Deep Ones knew the truth. Down corridors of strange angles and planes HE had come. And HE had come to their little village.

* *** *

“What the Hell is that?!” Knox exclaimed to himself as he drew to a stop on Water Street. Looking for the source of the mad laughter, he cut his eyes across the waterfront and immediately found what he was looking for. He gazed in awe at the churning cloud that was slowly moving toward Devil Reef, its purple lightning still crackling as it sent filaments of snake-like light streaking across the night sky. The purple glow highlighting the cloud now pulsed. Its hissing static charge and the mad laughter echoed across the harbor.

Knox’s embattled senses began to clear. He knew the Deep Ones and their human wives still couldn’t see or hear him. Slowly, walking as sure footed as he could while the ground rolled beneath him, he started toward the docks and stopped by a hand railing that was half collapsed, one end lying in ruins in the water. A sudden feeling came over him as he rested his hands on a part of the wooden hand rail still intact. He knew the feeling, had experienced it a short while before in the Hall of Dagon. That feeling was one of being watched.

He turned his eyes, and then his head, and scanned those gathered on Water Street. And then he saw her. Carrie Daniels. His eyes locked on the woman who was pregnant with the child of a Deep One. She was staring back at him, her dulled eyes and facial expression desperately imploring Knox to help her.

Softly, sadly, in his own thoughts, Knox said, there’s nothing I can do. And he knew she understood.

In that sudden moment, Carrie tore herself free from the hulking Deep One and ran. She disappeared into the surrounding darkness as the huge hulking Deep One, father of her child, lumbered after her.   

* *** *

The ocean floor split. Looking much like an arcing mushroom cloud, a huge boiling column of water churned toward the surface. Hissing bubbles roared from the vent as lava rolled out onto the ocean floor, its soft light casting a dull orange glow on the murky darkness of the deep. A huge stone shook loose, dislodged. Then another, and more as titanic forces cut across the ocean bed far beneath the surface of the ocean just beyond Devil Reef.

In the murky depths the great city of Dagon shook. The ground upon which Y’ha-nthlei had been built rolled and buckled – the great stone columns, the cyclopean stone masonry, the great wall surrounding the city, even the great Temple of Dagon vibrated from the shock waves. Still there was little damage. Only a few columns collapsed and part of the great enclosing wall. And then the ocean floor fragmented, but the city remained intact.

The ocean floor shifted. Y’ha-nthlei lurched sideways. A rush of water rolled toward the east, caused a titanic surface wave to roll seaward. A long hideous grinding of stone rented the deep followed by a muffled explosion. The fragments had broken free of Earth’s crust and the great city of Y’ha-nthlei began its ascent toward the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. And deep from within the Temple of Dagon a great and hideous roar of triumph echoed through the murky depths.

The huge billowing black cloud highlighted in its eerie purple glow had grown to gargantuan size, towering hundreds of feet into the night sky. Its writhing fingers of crackling purple lightning snaked across the harbor, clawing out to sea and back to landward, weaving above the decaying seaside village. Its mad laughter echoed through the dark of night.

As it neared Devil Reef, the terrified Deep Ones who had gathered there scattered for safety, diving off precipices and taking to deep water. And then it was there, at Devil Reef, and as it enveloped the reef, it began to dissipate. As it faded, so did the purple glow, the mad laughter, the snaking purple lightning. In seconds it was gone. A soft stillness and quiet settled over the reef, over the harbor, over the village. The only sounds were the gently rolling water, the churning of bubbles, and a soft gentle breeze whispering in off the ocean.

And standing at the highest point of Devil Reef was a lone figure, his long white hair buffeted on the gentle wind, his long black trench coat billowing like a sail. He turned toward the ocean, pulled his wide brimmed black hat down over his forehead, and gazed upon the surface of the water where churning bubbles were breaking the surface. He knew that somewhere far below those bubbles the great city of Y’ha-nthlei was slowly rising toward the surface. And he smiled.

The hissing and crackling cloud was gone. A soft darkness had settled over the harbor. Knox stood on the decaying dock, the dock rocking precariously beneath his feet. He glanced over his shoulder at the Deep Ones and their human wives. They cowered, huddled together in the shadows of crumbling buildings and warehouses on the landward side of Water Street. And they had fallen absolutely silent with fear.

Knox turned his eyes back to Devil Reef. He could barely see its outline against the night sky. In the dark stillness, a soft breeze whispered across the harbor, and far out beyond the reef, the soft hissing of bubbles could be heard as they broke the surface of the ocean. Not only had the huge crackling cloud with its lightning and mad laughter gone, but so had the earthquake and tremors. Calm before the storm, the thought came to Knox’s mind. But he was certain the storm would be in his favor. Certainly against the Deep Ones and Y’ha-nthlei.

* *** *

Carrie Daniels cowered in the shadows of an overhanging roof in an alley off Fish Street. She shivered violently, visibly shaking with fear. Her eyes were wide, and darted about at every little sound issuing from the dark. She tried to focus her thoughts, but her fear constantly shattered them, leaving her mind seething with jumbled images. How do I…what do…? The fragmented questions her mind tried to form were stopped cold.

An cold icy fear tore into her soul as a huge webbed and clawed hand clamped down upon her skull, holding her fast. There was a moment’s pause, and then the hulking Deep One leaned forward, wafting Carrie with its dead and decaying fish breath.

“You tried to run,” it hissed menacingly in her ear.

“I…I…,” she stammered.

“Other human females father my children,” it cut her off. “You I make example of for those who run.” And grabbing Carrie by her hair, it dragged her away toward Center Square.

* *** *

Y’ha-nthlei continued to rise ever closer to the surface of the Atlantic. Thousands upon thousands of Deep Ones swam about the rising cyclopean city, following its course toward the cool night air, but kept far enough away to maintain a safe distance from being caught in the city’s undertow. And deep within the great Temple of Dagon, the great god stirred, his tentacles writhing through the blackness and free through open portals, rising through murky waters, stretching to meet the air of the black night.

White closed his eyes. His smile was gone, his face expressionless. His milky white hair and long black coat billowed on the soft ocean breeze. He slowly raised his arms, marshaled his powers, and focused his thoughts on the waters of the Atlantic. Slowly the waters began to churn a circle around the bubbling disturbance heralding the rising city. The churning water formed a growing whirlpool – a Charybdis – ever widening, and spinning faster and faster. Just beyond the whirlpool a wall of water began to rise from the ocean surface. In minutes the wall towered miles into the night sky. It shimmered gossamer-like in the soft light of the moon.

On Water Street the wide-eyed Deep Ones hissed in terror as the wall of water continued to rise. They feared the wall of water would come crashing down on their decaying seaside village, and they began to scatter. As they disappeared down darkened side alleys, David Knox stood on the crumbling dock, his eyes following the rising wall. He shook his head at the spectacle, more amazed than in fear of any immediate danger. Like de Mille’s parting of the Red Sea, he thought.

Miles into the night sky the towering wall of water stopped rising. Not visible from the shore, the great whirlpool just beyond Devil Reef spun with such a force to created a funnel deep beneath the ocean surface. And White, standing alone atop Devil Reef, opened his eyes. His smile returned, more a mischievous grin, and as he slowly lowered his arms, he turned his gaze to the spinning whirlpool.

Dagon was there, his tentacles writhing up through the funnel of water. And far below in the depths of the funnel, White could see the tops of cyclopean structures, pinnacles and spires of great wet black stone glistening in the pale light of the soft silver moon. In seconds Y’ha-nthlei would break the surface.

White cackled as he slowly raised a hand. “I am sorry, my friend,” he said softly, yet still smiling. “The stars are just not right in their course!” Slowly he brought his hand down. With his hand, down came the towering wall of water. Tons upon tons upon tons of water poured into the spinning vortex atop Dagon and his great city.

The force of the water halted Y’ha-nthlei’s rise. There was a moment’s pause as the force of the water matched the city’s upward momentum. Then the water surpassed it. The city began to sink again, the force of the water pushing the great cyclopean city down into the murky depths, back into the trench from whence it had risen, back into a deathly blackness to await a proper time, the time heralded for the return of the Great Old Ones, a time when the stars would be right.

And as the ocean waters settled, the wall of water gone, the spinning whirlpool gone, the Deep Ones swarmed out of the ocean and across Devil Reef. The strange man they saw standing atop the reef, the strange man who had controlled the waters, the strange man who had defeated them, had stopped the rising of Y’ha-nthlei, was gone. Had disappeared without a trace.

* *** *

The Massachusetts countryside was awash in the soft pale moonlight. A deathly silence had fallen as the night creatures shied away from the passing stranger who walked a narrow earthen country lane. He was a tall man, wore an ankle length black coat and a black wide brimmed hat. His hair was long and white, his face and hands as white as his hair. But in the soft light of the moon his features appeared ashen gray – a wraith or a ghost-like figure from some Poe story.

White was pleased with himself. Just minutes before, some sixty miles to the northeast, he had stopped Y’ha-nthlei, the great cyclopean city of Dagon, from rising to the surface of the Atlantic Ocean just beyond Devil Reef at the decaying seaside village of Innsmouth. It had been nothing, no major event. Child’s play, he thought, and then cackled. If a problem at all, it was only in misjudging the zeal and determination of the Deep Ones to raise the sunken city. White had underestimated them and had nearly missed the event. But no matter; even had the city been raised, White would still have been able to return the city to the murky depths from which it had arisen, and with little or no effort. Child’s play. He continued to cackle. And as he continued down the country lane, he hadn’t taken three steps before he was gone – faded, vanished like a ghost. The country lane was empty. The soft ashen light of the moon continued to bath the landscape in its dull gray light. The silence would continue; it would be another hour before the night creatures dared venture a sound.

* *** *

A loud hissing noise suddenly invaded Knox’s consciousness. He shook his head, rubbed his squinted eyes, and slowly rose to his feet to peer around. Deep Ones, his mind suddenly confirmed. It’s coming from Central Square. Then the realization struck him. It was daylight and he found himself stuck in the heart of the decaying seaside village of Innsmouth. “Should have left last night when I had the chance,” he mumbled, silently chastised himself for being reckless. He had been exhausted from walking all over Innsmouth, dodging crumbling buildings, dodging hulking noxious Deep Ones in the Hall of Dagon, standing at the harbor while White did…whatever White had done. Mr. White, the momentary thought of wonder came over Knox. He shrugged the thought away, realizing he had no time to be trivial about White. He had to leave Innsmouth and leave fast.

A sudden nauseating smell of dead fish assailed Knox as he stepped into the alley from behind an overflowing trash dumpster where he had spent the night. He stopped in his tracks and slowly turned. Two big Deep Ones were approaching, no more than twenty feet away, their large unblinking eyes glinting in the morning sun.

“Shit,” Knox muttered softly.

He slowly began to step back, off to one side, watching the Deep Ones as they approached. They passed him as though he wasn’t there. Knox chuckled as he realized he was still under White’s protection…wherever White was. And Knox’s chuckle erupted into laughter as he turned and faced the departing Deep Ones who were approaching Federal Street.

“You still can’t see me, ay fish heads!?” he laughed. “Can’t hear me either!”

The two Deep Ones rounded the corner and disappeared onto Federal Street toward Central Square. Central Square, Knox thought again after the Deep Ones were gone. Something was happening there. And before leaving Innsmouth, Knox was going to find out what.

A wooden jib had been erected in front of Gilman House on Central Square. The support beam stood about twenty feet high while the jib itself extended about six feet out from the supporting beam. A young woman hung from the top of the jib by her feet, her ankles having been lashed together. She was naked, gutted, cut open from collar bone to pubic bone. Her long dark hair, glistening in blood, and her hands dangled just above the heads of a group of hissing and grunting Deep Ones that were gathered around the jib.

They shuffled about, jockeying for position, like wolves herding around a kill. Some reached up, touched her hands, her bloodied hair. Another swatted her head with its webbed hand, causing her dead body to swing gently on the rope attached to the jib. The Deep Ones hissed louder as her body swung back and forth. Their hissing sounded more like cackling. And one by one they reached up, swatted her head like some kind of game, and cackled with delight as her body swung on the rope.

Knox shook his head as he stopped in Central Square and stood directly behind the gathered Deep Ones. His eyes upturned on the swinging body of the dead woman, he sighed. “Carrie Daniels,” he said softly. The image of Carrie the previous night flashed through Knox’s thoughts. Silently pleading with her eyes, she had implored him to help her. He couldn’t, and she knew it, had read it in his eyes. And she had run. Now her eyes were dulled, clouded over in death.

With reluctance and a heavy heart, Knox turned away from the spectacle and slowly left the decaying seaside village of Innsmouth. He walked a narrow country road, the same road that Mr. White had walked the previous night. His thoughts were broiled in his accomplishments, his long fight against the Great Old Ones ever since that fateful night he had stumble upon those ancient tomes under lock and key in the basement of the Miskatonic University Library in Arkham. That was a long time ago. So much had happened since then, triumphs and defeats. They’d taken their toll on him, and as of late he’d begun to question his abilities. Is it worth it? Is it really worth it?

He stopped walking, sighed, and stared straight ahead, his sight turned inward. Weary and drained of vitality, he concentrated hard, but his thoughts faded to pointless images, one after another. There was no cohesion, no longer any purpose nor direction. He shook free of the jumbled thoughts and turned his eyes to the bright blue sky. There was a momentary pause as his eyes followed the course of a bird in flight, and in that moment, he decided.

“I’m tired,” he voiced softly as he turned his eyes down the road again. “I’m going home.”


7 Responses to “Y’ha-Nthlei Rising”

  1. scorpionius Wrote:

    very good. what happens to Knox?

  2. Heck Wrote:

    So is this a series or it’s just one story? But all in all it is good.

  3. Cyaegha Wrote:

    Dagon doesn’t have tentacles.

  4. Lammassu Wrote:

    Your short story is very engaging, and I must commend you in your character development (which is especially difficult to pull off in a story as short as this). The only shortcoming I could find has already been mentioned by Cyaegha, otherwise it’s flawless. You really captured the essence and flavor of Lovecraft’s mythos. I’m eager to read more of David Knox’s adventures in the Endtimes. 😀

  5. Bfwnov Wrote:

    well, the story makes me feel that i am playing god mode in a real difficult RPG game. That the White bloke knows that he can pwn, no matter what, just kills more than half of the thrills ans suspense the story could possibly provide if it’s more Lovecraftianly helpless and White serves just as deus ex machina. the ending could be better too.
    besides those, joy reading.

  6. rsc Wrote:

    I should be checking back on these stories to respond to the postings.

    Scorpionius, Heck, Lammassu – This story is the middle story of a three story arc; can be found in a Rainfall Books chapbook entitled Y’ha-nthlei Rising & Other Tales of the Deep Ones…

    Cyaegha –True, Dagon doesn’t have tentacles. Sometimes erroneous detail does tend to slip by. But that’s alright. On the other hand, Robert Price had a good argument otherwise…will have to find that again and read it.

    Bfwnov – “deus ex machine,” he is. Well, an avatar of one, anyway.

  7. Brynn Wrote:

    Y’ha-nthlei Rising & Other Tales appears to be unavailable in print or electronically, is there a way to read the entirety of the three story arc?

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