John W. Patterson
Word count: 18,098

Nexus of Vortices

by John W. Patterson
crafted January 15 - February 11, 2002
  

PART 1

Hylum Sendak was used to it by now. The dark, the cold, the sticky 
white things drifting by, and that buzzing sound in his head were 
each irksome but it was home, for now. Another few hours of 
digging out into the south wall and he'd find the door -- he hoped.

	Noises above him . . . footsteps, no, something different this 
time, a sliding and lumbering -- oh great, what was that smell -- 
Hylum retched and added to the noisome ambience of the fetid 
dankness. He hated being here, hated the things upstairs, hated 
their perpetual attempts to gain access to the stairway. He had 
secured the door with a brace of six railroad ties and 18-inch spikes 
-- nothing should be able to get in. He had burned the staircase for 
good measure. Under the old staircase he'd dug a large pit with 
thirteen Elder Sign stones scattered around its edge.

	Necronomicon, his gene-enhanced, mega-assassin, pit bull, 
stood nearby, its maw muzzled for quiet mode, looked up toward 
the poundings beyond the cellar door. Come on down, it thought, 
let's play.

	Hylum's mattock hit on something hard. Stone, yes, it was 
etched with the proper symbols, the right carvings, and ah, good -- 
a door handle and the keyhole. A few more minutes and the door 
would be clear.

	Hylum called Necronomicon, "Over here boy, dig there. Good 
boy! That's it."

	The cellar door above him and to his rear glowed with a blinding 
intensity. They were nearly through. They were melting through it! 
He'd have to hurry.

	"Faster, Necro, faster boy!" he said. The famed Silver Key he'd 
found in his uncle's centuries olde estate fit perfectly, the ancient 
door of the Underworlds was now unlocked. Hylum pulled it open 
slowly as a muttering and groaning echoed from upstairs. He and 
Necronomicon slipped into the portal. Hylum threw several Elder 
Sign stones behind him, in front of the door, pushing it closed. It 
locked itself. The Silver Key was warm, nearly hot to in his hand 
now. Hylum regarded its odd look as well. It seemed to flicker in his 
hand, wavering as a heat mirage. He pocketed it. There appeared 
to be no keyhole on the inside. He leaned closer to make sure. 
Hylum's night-eyes goggles slipped off. Darkness ruled.

	"Oh great, wait a minute, Necro. Here it is!" Psuedo-light 
returned to the fearful tunnel and monstrously long expanse of 
steps before them. Hylum wondered if he was getting away from 
danger behind him or walking directly in its womb. He and 
Necronomicon began their descent carefully. Unearthly screams 
and howling filled the cellar beyond the door behind them. 
Whatever was trying to enter the cellar had made it inside. They'd 
found the pit and the Elder Signs too. Hylum laughed slightly but 
with a shuddering of dread.

	Uncle Amorship's olde desk had also provided him 46, small, 
Elder Sign stones for his trip to the Underworlds. He was down to 
13. What a long, strange trip it had been. Necronomicon stopped in 
his tracks and growled at something shadowy ahead of them. What 
was it, a Night-gaunt? Hylum tapped code on his wrist module and 
graphix filled his left goggle lens, rapidly scrolling out Mythos data 
analysis. Necronomicon ambled forward. About the second 
Hylum's database nearly had a fix on the spectre, it vanished.

	"Great! Insufficient data -- time error," Hylum sighed.
	
	A deep vibration filled the tunnel behind them at the door to the 
Underworlds. Hylum and Necronomicon speeded up the pace. 
Three hours later and thousands of steps down the miles of 
twisting catacombs, they came to a nearly level area.

	Necronomicon growled. A shrouded figure drifted forward, his 
cloak barely touching the cave floor. It reached out a gnarled hand, 
fingers looking pale and fungoid. Hylum reached into his unzipped 
hip pocket, slowly removing something. Necronomicon shifted 
away from the entity expecting Hylum to flash-rip it with a quantar. 
Instead, Hylum threw the Silver Key at it. The silvery projectile 
sailed to the thing's left and it reached out and snatched it in the 
total darkness. Hylum and Necronomicon watched as their silent 
visitor slightly bowed its head, turned around, and walked back to 
where it came from.

	"You see that catch?" Hylum asked.
	Necronomicon's com-wave implant sent a response to Hylum's 
goggles. It printed out, "I don't have enhanced eyes for nothing you 
know."
	Hylum chuckled. They walked down a slight incline to a gate in 
a massive wall. Its multi-tiered construction seemed to originally be 
the bones of some huge animal but the eons of calcium carbonate 
and silica dripping from the stalactites a half mile above them had 
served cover the wall in polished stone. The shrouded one 
beckoned them on as it opened the gate with the Silver Key. 
Necronomicon, moving closer, noticed the key was glowing white-
hot as it slipped into the huge gate's lock. The smell of burning yet 
rotted meat filled his snout. Hylum and Necronomicon passed into 
the sanctuary as the gate swung open, towering over them. It then 
swung closed as their escort stepped in behind them. He slowly 
faded, drifting downward into the cobbled stone courtyard as they 
both stared in awe. The Silver Key remained, slowly cooling and 
hissing on the damp stone.

	"We'll pick that up later on," Hylum said, "It's way too hot for us 
to stand around and wait for it to cool."
	Necronomicon, "Whatever . . ."
	"I believe an old friend of mine lives just over there, down that 
street," Hylum said.
	Necronomicon, "Anyone else live in this city?"
	Hylum answered, "Well, not humans. Clark Ashton Jones is the 
only human down here."
	Necronomicon, "And you're supposedly the other human down 
here, right?"
	"Funny, Necro, very funny. I might get you fixed when we get 
back."
	Necronomicon relieved himself liquidly on Hylum's boot for good 
measure and trotted off, heading down Jones' street.
	Hylum aimed his quantar just behind Necronomicon's paw and 
sent a short pulse his way. The quanta heated up the surrounding 
stones quickly, giving Necronomicon a small "hot-foot" or "hot-paw". 
Necronomicon leaped up, whining a bit. He kept going.
	Necronomicon, "Funny, Hylum, very funny. Do that again and I 
am gonna chew through this muzzle and take a leg off ya!"
	Hylum put his quantar away, looked over his shoulder, thinking 
he heard a distant rumbling. His jovial moment with Necronomicon 
was over. The servants of Yog-Sothoth had probably violated the 
sacred door to the Underworld just then. Only the obsidian-edged, 
sky-stone, Gate of Hypnos stood twixt them and The City Jones 
Made.

	Hylum was knelt down, removing Necronomicon's Kevlar-7 
muzzle, when the Shoggoths advanced on them from amidst an 
impossible-angled maze of glyphed columns to the right of Jones' 
street.
	Hylum whispered to Necronomicon, "It was nice knowing ya pal. 
We're history now. I thought Jones had rid the neighborhood of 
those things."
	Necronomicon, muzzle removed, lunged at the freshly 
protruding eyespot of the lead Shoggoth. Hylum jumped onto a 
jumbled pile basaltic blocks, scrambling up them. The Shoggoths 
heaved their gelatinous bulk up after him.
	"Necro! Necro, no boy! Let go of that thing before it pulls you 
inside itself!"
	Necronomicon, "Precisely. Once I get past this thing's leathery 
exterior, I'm gonna rip its brains out!"
	Hylum knew that was not such a bad idea but what about the 
digestive fluids in a Shoggoth? Would Necro munch neurons and 
claw his way back out before he was doggie soup? Unknown . . .
	The lead Shoggoth began an odd series of ripplings and began 
exuding a greenish gore -- as Necronomicon burst out its side.
	"Necro! Here boy! Up here!"
	Hylum had just reached the top of the block pile. Necronomicon 
leaped past him, whining and barking.
	"Necro! No!", Hylum shouted as the acid-drenched dog jumped 
off a nearby ledge. Hylum leaned over, looking down to see a small 
splash, hundreds of feet below.
	"Smart dog, that one," he said as the other Shoggoths finished 
devouring their brain-dead companion. Appetites satisfied the 
remaining Shoggoths retreated back into the maze of columns. 
Hylum climbed down quickly to get to Necronomicon, avoiding the 
slime reaching up at his boots, living Shoggoth tissue, scraps of a 
Shoggoth feast.
	As Hylum was seeking someway down to the pool 
Necronomicon had fallen into, he was intercepted.
	"Ah, Hylum! Good to see you again," spoke Clark Ashton Jones, 
"Wait a minute! How did you get here? What blasphemous sorcery 
has wrought this meeting?"
	"Sir Clark!" Hylum answered, "I must find my poor 
Necronomicon!"
	"Hylum, Hylum. Don't tell me you're still trying to find a book that 
doesn't exist in this dimension! Confound it, you young fool!" Clark 
said.
	"No, not that -- I mean my dog Necro," Hylum spoke, "He's over 
that ledge in that water down there."
	"A dog, you say, named Necronomicon, unlucky name I'd 
venture to say, as that pond is filled with omnivorous Lurkers. I 
expect your Necro is eaten by now," Clark sadly observed.
	Hylum ran back up the block pile and leaped off the ledge, his 
quantar drawn. Clark silently recited an ancient chant of levitation 
he'd heard once in the Lair of the White Worm as he drifted 
upwards to follow Hylum.
	Lucky for Necronomicon, the slime of a Shoggoth is a most vile 
taste to Lurkers and his dog paddling to the pool's edge was fairly 
uncomplicated. He rested there only partially burned by Shoggoth 
slime and suffering from the fresh memory of tasting Shoggoth 
brain. Now he had another problem. There was Hylum up there 
now, falling into the pond of angered Lurkers and some weird guy 
dressed in black floating in the air with him. Stupid men, all stupid 
men. They could get themselves out of that jam, he was too tired to 
lift even his short little tail.
	Clark Ashton Jones quickly summed up the situation, seeing the 
dog onshore and out of danger, he concentrated his mental powers 
on Hylum. The last time he encountered the rites of Tsathoggua he 
had overheard a litany of death-dealing upon the sacrificial victims. 
He had memorized the phrases and tried to mouth them again.
	"Tsathoggua, ia nict fthagn, nict Lurker, K'n-yan! Yoth! N'kai! 
Nict Lurker, yn totah!" Clark shouted from on high, his levitation 
slightly waning as the winds of Tsathoggua rushed past him. The 
waters boiled with thrashing Lurkers as Hylum splashed down 
beneath the pool's surface. Hylum had been blasting them with full 
kill quanta as he hit the water. The Tsathogguaen whirlwinds of 
death avoided Hylum but fully harvested every Lurker in the pool. 
Hylum wearily headed for shore, his goggles full of water. He was 
greeted by Necronomicon's nasty breath as Clark Jones, the mad 
wizard, came closer, walking across the water. Lurker flotsam and 
widespread Tsathoggua's carnage provided Clark a walkway 
across the pool. Clark pondered the irony of the pool's name, Dead 
Fathoms.
	
	"So Hylum, what brings you here?" Clark asked.
	They had retired to Jones' house and were drying themselves in 
front of a huge fireplace. Jones had poured them his best California 
wine from his vineyards about two miles above them on the 
surface.
	"Oh things, just different things," Hylum answered while 
Necronomicon began snoring and drooling.
	"Hylum, you are a bad liar and a worse writer," Clark said.
	"That's not fair, Clark. Remember when you were younger and 
begging for some editor to print your stuff?"
	"Sure, but at least my work had depth and beautiful descriptive 
passages. Your work is too tongue-in-cheek and faddish, mixing 
too many genres, and outlandish as well," Clark said.
	"Hey, Clark. Who built this weird looking fireplace?" Hylum 
asked, trying to change the subject.
	"Oh, that's the stone work of some fellow named Kadath 
Azathoth."
	"Ha, hah."
	"Really, no joke."
	"Okay, Clark, okay," Hylum got back to the first question.
	He got up from the fireplace and walked past Clark to the bay 
window of lavender panes to look out over the dark City Jones 
Made. He noticed a trail of torches heading towards the Gate of 
Hypnos.
	"We have company," Hylum said.
	"Go on, Hylum, go on. I know about those Yog-Sothoth 
underlings and ghouls out there," Clark muttered, fumbling with an 
olde Algernon Blackwood manuscript, "I have a nasty surprise for 
them as soon as they arrive."
	"Yeah, I figured as much," Hylum went on, "but listen, I brought 
the Silver Key here."
	"You did what?"
	Hylum hesitated. Clark had slammed his chair around to face 
Hylum, eyes glaring.
	"I did, I found it in olde Uncle Amorship's house last time I was 
there. I have these too," Hylum said as he pulled the Elder Sign 
stones out of his vest pocket.
	Clark closed his eyes and spun back to his desk and began to 
rummage through some texts covered in bat guano and insect 
husks.
	"Hylum, I wondered how you got past the Door to the 
Underworlds and how you survived its Guardians," Clark spoke, 
"and now it is all too terribly clear -- we may die very soon if the 
Shoggoths ever find that key and return it to the Elder Things at the 
Mountains of Madness!"
	"Uh-oh."
	"Uh-oh, what?" Clark demanded.
	"I left the key at the Gate of Hypnos."


PART 2

	When Clark first realized this vastly horrid danger of the Silver 
Key being obtained by Shoggoths his mind raced back many 
decades to his first meeting with Lord G. O. Amorship -- and the 
hobbled servant Prasanna . . .

	"Clark, you know, your stories are wonderfully written, full to the 
brim with such luridly lavender prose, adjectives, metaphor, simile, 
extra-dimensional whimsy, and perversities extreme. Yet --" Gerald 
Amorship said.

	"Yet what, Gerald? Do they lack your simplistic and repetitive 
descriptions? You go on so and say the same thing again and 
again as if to put the reader in some mesmerized state," Clark said.
	"Clark, my stories sell yet you still await the first offer this year. 
As I was saying," Gerald continued, "Your stories lack historical 
veracity and ancient connections to the hidden mysteries."

	"And I suppose all these bizarre gods you write of exist?" Clark 
asked, smiling widely.

	"Follow me, Clark, this way," Lord Amorship spoke as he 
stopped in his study, turning towards a painting of Nyarlathotep, the 
Dark One, recently mailed to his house by an unknown admirer.

	"Nice oils, good use of shadow, very realistic eyes," Clark 
observed, speaking authoritatively, "yet it lacks any sense of your 
stories' aura of evil. It is just a painting."

	Lord Amorship called, "Prasanna! Come here, bring my reading 
glass." A hobbled, Indo-Pakistani man came into the room with a 
magnifying glass. He lifted it up to the tall and gaunt Lord 
Amorship.

	"No, no, no -- Prasanna, take it over to the painting there," Lord 
Amorship said. Prasanna's eyes filled with fear. He hesitated but 
obeyed.

	"What is this folly, Gerald?" Clark asked.

	"Patience, Clark, just wait and watch carefully," Amorship 
began, "As Prasanna nears the painting, watch the eyes of 
Nyarlathotep."

	Prasanna moved close to the painting, holding the glass. His 
hand was shaking as he cowered before this evil image.

	"Now slowly, place the glass near the face in the painting and 
look closely, Prasanna. You will see a strange thing," Gerald urged 
and commanded.

	As Prasanna did so, Clark saw the eyes of Nyarlathotep glowing, 
just slightly. Was it the effect of a play of light via the glass and 
optics? He wondered. Then there was a bright flash of greenish 
light, the gas lamps extinguished by a sudden wind in the study and 
then came a muffled scream.

	"Gerald! What's -- where -- ouch!" Clark cried, stumbling over 
something in the floor. It felt like he was on top of someone.

	Light slowly filled the room as Lord Amorship as relit the lamps. 
Clark found himself atop Prasanna. He rolled the very quiet and still 
servant over to check him for an injury -- or worse. It was worse.

	"Oh my, G -- Gerald look at his face!" Clark screamed.
	Lord Amorship was busy staring at the painting of Nyarlathotep 
in deep concentration. A certain change was evident.

	Clark gasped. He looked around Lord Amorship's side at the 
painting and saw the face of Prasanna, contorted in agony, on 
Nyarlathotep! And in turning back to the lifeless body of Prasanna, 
there was the grinning grimace of Nyarlathotep's visage! A ghastly 
reversal had taken place. As Clark stared on, looking alternately 
from painted canvas to warm corpse, Prasanna's face swiftly 
returned but horribly blackened and withered. Nyarlathotep's face 
seemed renewed, somewhat different as if the painting had been 
freshly repainted with a luminous undercoat.

	"Amazing, I did not think that would happen," Amorship said, "I 
had only wanted to recreate my initial experience in seeing the 
painting's eyes aglow when the glass was close enough. I regret 
poor Prasanna's dreadful demise. Very odd, indeed."

	"Gerald, you are so much the cold-hearted and callous ghoul," 
Clark spoke, "Here lies a dead man and you go on as if it was 
merely a minor accident."

	"Clark, that was no accident for Nyarlathotep could have taken 
my life as well but Fate has judged the foreigner with death. It was 
no accident, believe me. Prasanna was marked for this death, I 
presume, long ago, perhaps as payment for a distant relative's 
dealings with the Old Ones," Amorship said as he left the room.

	Clark sat down, emptied of words, and looked out on the 
waning moon rising over Providence, feeling defiled by this 
encounter with an ancient evil. He feared Amorship was too deeply 
tainted by its presence in the house. The tomes, the rocks, the 
statuaries, the writings and etchings all around him seemed to loom 
heavy on his psyche. When he looked back to gaze at Prasanna's 
body, it had vanished. Only an awful smell filled the room, one of 
mephitic vapors and charnel house odors. Lord Amorship's study 
seemed merely the abattoir of Nyarlathotep. He would never forget 
this night. Lord Amorship's archdemons were real, terribly real, 
even their very images held powers of darkness.

	Meanwhile back in reality . . .
	"Clark, Necronomicon and I will fetch the key and bring it to 
you," Hylum said.
	Clark Ashton Jones, man of inactive action, closed his eyes, the 
lavender-paned windows behind him opened and a baby Night-
gaunt flew in, landing on his shoulder. Its faceless gaze studied 
Necronomicon.

	"Clark, don't move," Hylum whispered, pulling out his quantar.

	"No!" Clark boomed, the quantar flew out of Hylum's hand, flung 
against the wall, "This is little Ebon, my pet. I summoned it. It will 
fetch the Silver Key for us."

	Necronomicon growled and barked at Ebon. The Night-gaunt 
emitted a piercing shrieking and ululation form its mouthless throat, 
that shattered the glass section in Jones' bone-stemmed wine 
goblet.
	
	"That will be enough of that!" Clark spoke, "Go now, Ebon, and 
get the Silver Key in the courtyard of Hypnos gate." The black-
winged horror turned flew out the window as it swung closed. It 
appeared to Hylum that Ebon tripled in wingspan once outside.

	"That thing you call a pet just grew three times larger after it flew 
off," Hylum said, "Please clue me in or else I am going nuts."

	"Night-gaunts can do that during sort of thing while young," 
Clark went on, "as a self-preservation type thing. Otherwise, their 
older and mature siblings might try and swallow them."

	"That thing had no mouth. How --"

	"The stomach is housed in a pouch or flap in the chest just 
under the main flight muscles. They suddenly extrude it up to 10 
feet, swallow food and it then snaps back inside for digestion, 
which takes about five minutes. They live hungry," Clark answered.

	"What is so special about this Silver Key that was supposedly 
delivered to Uncle Amorship via some 'pigeon from hell' anyway, 
other than getting me into the Underworlds to see where you live? 
Why do the Elder Things want it? And just how do the Shoggoths 
plan on getting from the caverns under California to the Mountains 
of Madness? We're talking a major distance there!" Hylum said.

	"Hylum, you are dangerous with your brash ignorance and 
determination to get yourself killed. Every time we get together, it's 
due to some wild idea or bad plan that nearly destroys you. All 
because you want to understand your Uncle Amorship," Clark said, 
"It will take me hours to properly explain the Elder Things, 
Shoggoth travel, and Randy Carter's Silver Key come home again. 
We haven't the time. Once we get the key and take care of the 
Guardians outside my City of isolation, then we will discuss the fine 
points of the Old Ones and such fearful things."

	"Fine," Hylum said, petting Necronomicon, "I am just trying to 
figure out why Uncle Amorship's grave was defiled and his body 
removed. You know that. Someone needs to figure that out. No 
one else in the family seems to care."

	Clark answered, "Besides your brother and your parents, there 
is no Amorship family. They all suffered very odd ways to die. Your 
sister's death in that mining warehouse with you and --"

	"Stop it, Clark, just shut up! I remember that night and I know 
what you think. There was nothing I could do. It was an accident, 
just a freak kinda thing," Hylum said, turning away to hold back 
tears.

	"I am sorry, Hylum, forgive me," Clark spoke, "I know you did all 
you could to help her but the rope was too short and the shaft was 
over a mile deep. I am sure she died instantly."

	At that moment the windows flew open and the Night-gaunt 
perched on Jones' desk, Sliver Key in taloned claw. There arose 
the smell of burning bones, a jack hammer or huge drilling noises 
filled the air. A few screams here and there indicated the obsidian-
edges were serving to rip Guardian flesh as they attempted to scale 
the Gate of Hypnos. The underlings of the Old Ones were a 
determined lot but not always the most deft with using their minds. 
Many behaved subhuman, bestial and one-track minded.

	"Come on Hylum, let's go get into trouble down in the courtyard. 
We have guests trying to crash this party," Clark said as he walked 
out of the room and headed down the stairs to the "War Room". 
The Night-gaunt hopped behind him as Necronomicon and Hylum 
followed from a polite distance.

	In his many travels around the world and even in other worlds in 
other dimensions and between time and space itself -- Clark 
Ashton Jones had collected an ominous collection of "weapons". 
Not all were intended nor designed as weapons but had served 
that selfsame purpose to save Jones' and others' lives in a pinch.

	"What in heaven's name is that?" Hylum asked, pointing at a 
black tube covered with helical spirals of teeth, "Are those teeth?"

	"Ah, the Phobosian Auto-Masticator a.k.a. PAMor, what a nasty 
thing that is!" Clark spoke as he walked past it, reaching to open a 
huge cabinet of steel.

	"And what does a Phobosian Auto-whatever do?" Hylum asked.

	"You aim it at your enemy, activate it, and he or she or they -- 
whatever -- begins to devour itself. If it is an army or group of 
attackers, they commence a cannibalistic feeding frenzy," Clark 
replied, swinging open the deep-drawered storage unit.

	"Gross! And I suppose you used it once," Hylum continued.

	"Yes, in fact I did use it once," Clark said, pulling out two topaz 
and opalescent rings, "On Deimos, officer Dexter Wardly, had been 
devoured in mere seconds by a 3-story tall, pond scum, hyrda-
rotifer -- such a waste. Anyway, I quickly activated the PAMor we 
grabbed after our last warp-walk to Phobos. I took aim and 
watched the effects with horror. Hydra-rotifers from hundreds of 
yards offshore began to swallow and chew each other until the 
whole beach was littered with protoplasmic devastation and 
wriggling ruin. Egads, the smell was enough to erode your sanity!"

	"And these beautiful rings?" Hylum asked

	"These are crystallized Sun Dogs," Clark answered, "Once 
placed on either side of an area, with the proper optics stimuli on 
one ring, a positive feedback resonance from ring to ring, or from 
Dog to Dog, is set up. In a few seconds, actually 1.38 seconds, a 
spherical zone of light and heat is created. With the right optics 
tinkering, the zone becomes a miniature star or a sun. Now that's 
hot!"

	"You can't be serious! Using those would cause enough light 
and heat to kill us all and destroy this whole City!"

	"Hylum, calm down," Clark said, polishing the rings, "I know how 
to use them. The real beauty of these is twofold. First, the zone 
these rings create, directs the heat and light back into itself, and 
secondly, once those unlucky to be inside the zone are crispy 
critters, I adjust the mini-star intensity and usually generate a 
negative supernova, or a black hole! Excellent effect, I'd say."
	"Oh good, that's wonderful and we all join the enemy, sucked 
into nowheresville!" Hylum said.
	"No. The Sun Dog rings keep the event horizon spinning within 
a zone within the zone -- it's hard to explain -- and auto-shut down 
at the first sign of a threat of instability," Clark added.

	"So where does the black hole or inverted supernova go?"

	"Good question. These didn't come with a manual. I got them 
from the Imperium Chrono-Enforcement archives in a world-line 
now too far diverged from ours many sets of eons ago. They had 
them set up for lighting the mess hall of their barracks. I simply 
borrowed them to melt though a wall and get back to my own 
world-line before another Imperium designated Time-
Displacement," Clark rambled.

	"Clark, sometimes I think you are either the world's greatest liar 
or one day all hell's gonna break loose and come down on your 
head, if all you say is true," Hylum said and laughed.

	"Right you are on those assumptions and aspersions," Clark 
said as he handed a Sun Dog to Hylum, "Time to play, time to 
play."

	Ebon flew out over the courtyard at the Gate of Hypnos, circling 
and shrieking at the drilling noises beyond the doors. 
Necronomicon sniffed at the cyclopean doors and briefly marked 
his new territory. Hylum and Clark positioned the Sun Dogs on 
either side of the grand courtyard of cobblestones. A few torches 
came flying over the walls of bone and stone. Impressive arms 
these Guardians have, thought Hylum.

	Clark pointed a small laser pointer at the Sun Dog nearest him. 
Hylum whistled for Necronomicon to get away from the freshly 
dampened doors. Ebon perched a safe watching distance away. 
The hooded spectre of mushroom hands, the gate keeper, drifted 
up from the courtyard. It moved slowly toward the Gate of Hypnos. 
It turned briefly awaiting Clark's signal. Clark nodded and turned on 
his small laser pointer. The Sun Dogs both began to grow luminous 
and a small globe of light grew in the courtyard. The gate keeper 
pressed a small bone near the Gate of Hypnos and it ponderously 
swung inward to the courtyard. The spectre faded into the wall.

	The Guardians of the Underworlds' entry and the underlings of 
Yog-Sothoth rushed in like a blackened mud slide of arms and 
legs, tentacles and claw. Hylum needlessly drew his quantar and 
aimed into the kill zone of the Sun Dogs. The mini-star engulfed 
and gorged itself with the Guardians and Yog-Sothoth's servants. 
The few survivors that hesitated outside the Gate of Hypnos and 
lived, after Clark shut down the rings of light and death, were 
properly shredded and diced by Ebon and Necronomicon. Once 
the screams, crunching of bones, ripping sounds, and abominable 
gurglings of exsanguination ceased, Clark retrieved the Sun Dogs 
and investigated scorch marks on the cobble stones.

	"Hmm, turned up the laser a bit too high or positioned the rings 
too low. It's a pity about these marred stones. I had them imported 
all the way from Yoth by Night-gaunt ferry service. Fladnag, the 
gate keeper, will berate me for months about having to clean up 
this mess," Clark said.

	Clark hesitated, then spun around quickly.

	"Hylum, run now, and look for cover outside the Gate! Get 
Necro away from his snacking and be as quiet as possible. I will 
join you there soon. I smell something, a stench wafting from the 
center of the columned halls of impossible angles," Clark said.

	"Shoggoths?"

	"No, something's coming this way -- an evil far worse than a 
stupid herd of Shoggoths," Clark spoke and then ran back to his 
house. There was need to visit the "War Room" and safely hide the 
Silver Key of Randolph Carter."

	Hylum, Necronomicon, and Ebon crouched under a hollowed-
out stalagmite. There was just enough room for Clark if he made it. 
Between Necronomicon's after-dinner breath and the Night-gaunt's 
scent, it seemed Hylum was either going to pass out or vomit. 
Being terrified didn't help. The quantar was sweat-slick in his 
trembling hands.

	"Shhh, Necro, easy boy. We're gonna be safe here from --" 
Hylum whispered.

	Necronomicon, "We haven't been safe since we barricaded 
ourselves in that basement of that olde manse in the mountains. 
You drag me all the way from Providence with stones, a key, and a 
map to this Californian hallway to hell and --"

	"Shhh, Necro, I see shadows stretching out of the Gate of 
Hypnos."

	Necronomicon, "And I smell something awful powerfully 
wretched."

	The Night-gaunt began rustling its leathery wings and twitching 
nervously. It sensed danger and its master was nowhere to be 
seen. 

	Clark Ashton Jones' screams echoed across the infinitely dark 
and cold gulfs of space, filling the maddening dimensions outside 
of time, battering the hidden vaults of the Underworlds, and tearing 
into the heart of one Hylum Sendak.

	Silence, waiting, dread . . . eternity filled the moment.



PART 3

Clark Ashton Jones had feared the worst upon leaving Hylum and 
cohorts to flee and hide beyond the city gate. The foul odor and 
shimmering, gong-like sounds pouring from beyond the impossibly-
angled great expanse of glyphed columns was an omen of doom 
and judgment.

	He raced towards his house to hide the Silver Key in the Leng-
fashioned crypt clock of maddening rhythms. Some held that 
through this very portal, Carter's Key had returned to earth. Lord 
Amorship had acquired the oddly threatening timepiece after a 
shopping trip to Arkham Antiques. Amorship had willed it to Jones, 
among many other curious items. Jones was nearing his home, not 
only worried about the Silver Key, but what weapon should be used 
of his "War Room" collection. Should it be the Fire Orbs of 
Azathoth, the Death Horns of Nodens, or perhaps the Annihilation 
Chants of the Pnakotic Codex? Choices, choices, hmm . . .

	Decision time was drawing to a close as Jones watched the 
maze of hexagonal columns pushed outward, as a shrouded form 
of light and unimaginable immensity twisted space and time, 
pushing it aside as so much jelly, was appearing to his right. He 
would not make it to his house. Instead he chanted a spell of 
invisibility and slipped backwards against the tumbled blocks 
bearing traces of Shoggoth brains and fluids noisome.

	Before Jones there arose the "Guardian Guide of the Ultimate 
Gate, 'UMR AT-TAWIL"! Jones' screams of shock and fear echoed 
into the limitless expanses of worlds beyond worlds as the Great 
Guardian and Guide held all portals open, awaiting the expected 
return of Randolph Carter. Jones' meager humanity was assailed 
and ignored by 'UMR AT-TAWIL, Clark Ashton Jones but a soul-
box, a firefly drifting above the combined surfaces of the sum total 
of all the star energies of all Time. 'UMR AT-TAWIL turned towards 
Jones' house, raising a strange appendage aneath the cloak of 
light and robe of endlessly deep cosmic blackness. Jones' house 
became as glass, transparent, revealing the Silver Key and many 
of Lord Amorship's gifts to Jones. 'UMR AT-TAWIL summoned the 
key and the Leng-born clock. The Sliver Key hovered above the 
insanely clicking timepiece, the Key turning strangely as an ancient 
flow of forgotten words were whispered as thunder by 'UMR AT-
TAWIL.
	
	Squirming and dying at the feet of 'UMR AT-TAWIL were a 
mass of Shoggoths and Dholes of long-dead Yaddith.  Therefore, 
the stench of inhuman and otherworldly deaths did congregate and 
swell. Shoggoths sent by The Elder Things from the Northern 
Wastelands of undiscovered realms had come spilling forth of 
hidden caverns. In their haste to secure the Silver Key they so 
encountered and failed to overcome 'UMR AT-TAWIL. Dholes 
sucked from the eons dead Yaddith also fell hapless victims before 
the Ultimate Gateway's entrance. 'UMR AT-TAWIL had heard the 
pleas of Grand Dreamer of Worlds the Gods loved, Randolph 
Carter.

	Carter, marooned on Yaddith had struggled with the wizard 
Zkauba, his alternate self, to return to New England. Zkauba's 
home, a dead place, overrun with Dholes was a prison to Carter's 
submerged soul, trapped in the insectoid and unholy body of 
Zkauba. Carter watched from deep inside the mind of Zkauba with 
dread. The wizard succeeded in sending the Silver Key away, back 
to Earth, near Arkham, by manipulating it via the hands of a 
Yaddithian mind-slave-fungus. Zkauba had tricked Carter into 
dreaming a time-window. Through this sorcery, the secret chants of 
Silver Key transport so learned, thus allowed Zkauba to activate it.

	The Yaddithian, fungoid, puppet creature and Silver Key arrived 
in Arkham. They both appeared successfully, yet trapped inside 
one Leng-crafted curio, an odd clock. The Yaddithian fungus serf 
died and wasted away into dust and mold. The smell of the clock 
brought its price down greatly and a certain Lord Amorship thought 
it quite the bargain. He decided to clean it and . . . thus discovered 
the Silver Key.

	And now Jones saw the circle closing in on itself of Carter's 
Silver Key, its saga nearing a complete revolution of perfection.  
'UMR AT-TAWIL's respect for Carter engendered an unheard of 
rescue across Time and Space and places beyond the Illusion of 
Matter. Energies that existed before all memories of even 'UMR 
AT-TAWIL brought Carter home again. Zkauba slumped down in 
defeat on far lost Yaddith, his only companions, ravenous and 
relentless Dholes.

	The eternal soul and reformed body of Randolph Carter 
stepped forth from the Leng-clock. The Silver Key floated into his 
outstretched hands. He grasped it and turned toward 'UMR AT-
TAWIL. Carter slightly bowed his head and 'UMR AT-TAWIL 
silently did wave a scepter of power, acknowledging Carter. Then 
'UMR AT-TAWIL, Shoggoths, and Dholes retreated as they came, 
pushing aside the columns of inversely-angled madness and 
vanished. 'UMR AT-TAWIL stood again somewhere near the 
Ultimate Gate -- the Dholes and Shoggoths cast into the depths of 
Azathoth's mad fires and thermonuclear belchings.
	
	Randolph Carter looked about himself and regarded the City 
that Jones Made. Clark Ashton Jones had passed out, still invisible. 
Carter decided that this was not his lovely New England but some 
bizarre Underworld place that sorely depressed him. He 
manipulated the Silver Key in an unseen lock between dimensions 
quite properly, no improper and superficial use such as opening 
stone doors as Hylum had done. No, no -- this Key opened much 
more. Carter intoned the cryptic utterance and vanished.

	Hylum, Ebon, and Necronomicon arrived just as Carter faded 
away. They marveled at the sight and choked on the aroma of 
Shoggoth and Dhole.

	"Wait! Wait! That's my key! Wait!" yelled Hylum, coughing and 
sputtering.

	Clark Ashton Jones, awakened by Hylum and the thunderclap 
of Carter's transport, stood visible again, speaking, "Well, Hylum, 
that was the long-lost Randolph Carter, headed back to a very 
different New England."

	"He took the key! How do I get back home? How will I ever find 
out what happened to the remains of Uncle Amorship? And just 
what happened here while we were hiding?" Hylum asked.

	Clark answered, "Let's head back to my study for a bit of 
Ultharian wine I've been saving for a moment such as this! All your 
questions will be answered soon, young Hylum."
	They walked back to Jones' house, slowly it was losing its 
translucent cast. Clark was awed to have been one of the very few 
mortals to have seen 'UMR AT-TAWIL and still be alive. His hair 
was a bit bleached with 'UMR AT-TAWIL's piercing nimbus of fire 
and his eyes had the smallest gleam of the Infinite within them. He 
and Hylum would spend many hours discussing what had 
transpired and how Hylum might locate Carter in Arkham.

	The Gate of Hypnos closed behind the silent Fladnag, he swept 
up the ashes of the intruders and swore under his breath over the 
marred cobblestones. He had just cleaned them with ghast earwax-
acid a mere 23 years ago. The courtyard was quiet again. Jones 
and his guests would be asleep soon. Fladnag would stand guard 
as he had done, protecting the City and Jones, for yet another 
night.

	'UMR AT-TAWIL stood before the Ultimate Gate again, 
remembering the joy of Carter's passing that way long ago. He 
watched as Nyarlathotep also passed.

	What awaited Nyarlathotep in Arkham? A message was to be 
given . . .

	"Evil and good shall walk the paths of Time side by side -- yet 
they walk alone. We serve very different lords, gods, and kings. 
Our lives are crossroads and battlegrounds. We answer to light and 
whisper darkness. We are pawns as we surrender. We are warrior-
priests if we resist. We die and so live or we live as dead men in an 
illusion of life."

	Lord Amorship's bones waited. A ghoul whimpered nearby.	




PART 4

Hylum's Interface Goggles were shot, the databank inaccessible, 
and the nite-sight flickering badly. Between his leap into the Dead 
Fathoms with Lurker spit corrosively fouling the lens and 
unshielded power surges from 'UMR AT-TAWIL's visit, it was 
remarkable to see any levels of operation. He pitched them to 
Clark.

	"Add these to your 'War Room' if you want," Hylum said, 
"There's a great Mythos database link in there, if you can fix them."

	"Thanks, I do have the time down here to diddle with it," Clark 
answered, "Now about your getting out of here . . ."

	"The sooner, the better," Hylum spoke, unsuccessfully rubbing 
Necronomicon's slobber and Ebon's scent off his clothes.

	"Ebon, go bring the flock of your lineage, from The Abyss," 
Clark said, "And make haste, as our guests need to travel far and 
quickly."

	"Wait a minute. I am not gaunt riding all the way to New 
England! You know how many miles that will be? Tell that pet of 
yours that --"

	"Hylum, still your tongue, for a minute. Listen to me," Clark said.

	"Okay, go ahead, oh sage of the Underworlds."

	Clark spoke, "Ebon will return with about 25 Night-gaunts, 
relatives of adult size. You and Necronomicon will be carried safely, 
safer in fact, than any other way I might send you. I'd rather not 
work a spell of transport as the last time I tried that, I ended up in 
mid-air over a Venusian volcano instead of the frozen ammonia 
lakes of the Yuggothian tundra! Remember, you have no lights, a 
mere hand-gun of limited power, and you simply cannot walk there. 
You would get very hungry trekking that distance. Old ghoul 
Pickman was the last human to attempt any long-distance travel 
down here. And you know what has happened to him. Night-gaunt 
shuttle is the best. They will avoid all the lairs of danger and fight to 
the death to keep you safe."

	"That reminds me, Clark, and how do you survive down here?"

	"As a by-product of passing once near the red-litten temples of 
onyx, deep below us, I stumbled upon a parchment that simply 
described certain means of accessing the potential energies of 
inert matter for life extension, sustenance, and well-being. I only 
eat as I see the need to break the boredom. Fladnag brings me 
foodstuffs from some secret garden of his where sunlight filters in 
near the surface. The very air and rocks feed me. I am one with the 
Underworld. It is me and I am it. I have even figured out a way to 
have the stones and the atmosphere of my City to yield luminance 
as I choose. You never once asked where the twilight glow of 
psuedo-dusk was coming from. There is no sun nor torch here. It is 
the first light of the Creation that fills this place. Oh how wonderful 
this all is to me! I have no desire to leave here. I have so many 
stories to write and books to finish, so many to locate and decipher 
from ancient places of the Underworlds. My Ebon carries a few of 
my tales, now and then, to a cave in western North Carolina. An 
associate there, a certain Mr. Patterson, an unknown author of 
fantastic tales, who enjoys my flamboyant flair of wordsmithery, 
enjoys them he tells me. I hope to meet him somewhere -- out 
there, in the Infinite Beyond."

	As Hylum was beginning to speak, a great shadow arose on the 
street. He looked up, only with the time enough to see blackness 
descend swiftly. He heard Necronomicon barking furiously off to 
the left. Below him, the City Jones Made shrank to a point of light. 
Clark Ashton Jones was waving good-bye as the flock of Night-
gaunts carried him into the darkened depths of earth's forgotten 
worlds and abodes of evil. Hylum's breathing finally started again, 
the winds of wings and movement through space chilled him. 
Necronomicon had quit barking and whimpered instead. Without 
his Interface Goggles he was without anyway to know what poor 
"Necro" was thinking or trying to communicate. He'd forgotten 
about that little detail when donating the goggles to Jones' 
collection of odd gadgets.

	A few thousand miles ahead of them, Randolph Carter 
rummaged around Brown University's Lovecraft collection. There 
was one short phrase concerning ghouls and graveyards that he 
was trying to find. Unknown to either Hylum Sendak or Carter, each 
was seeking to unravel the mystery of the violated Lord Amorship 
grave.

	It seems old Amorship had bought some very dangerous items 
from the late H. P. Lovecraft's estate. Remodelers had discovered 
a huge candle, a very oddly carved statue of meteoric nickel, and a 
painting of Nyarlathotep all hidden behind a false wall in the rear of 
Lovecraft's library. Amorship had purchased them at an auction for 
an outlandish sum. He always stated in newspaper articles that 
these items' worth was beyond the mere baubles of Man's gold or 
dollars, being but stone and inked paper. These things of 
Lovecraft's, yet now his, were	priceless. They were doorways to all 
the wealth of all Times and all Universes. Amorship was soon to be 
become a very wealthy man and became a "Lord" as before his 
untimely death. The "curse" of Lord Amorship had reached out to 
all of his family and relatives. Only a Hylum Sendak remained alive 
but his recent whereabouts was unavailable. Lord Amorship's 
estate was passed down to young Hylum. All the inheritance, 
house, estate, holdings, and art treasures were sold by Hylum. All 
were sold except for an odd candle, a ghastly statue of dark stone, 
and a painting of some "god". Mr. Sendak had moved these to 
storage somewhere in Providence.

	Carter was here to find Sendak -- and he needed to find those 
three items of Lord Amorship's legacy. One thing of Innsmouth 
wax, a graven image of Cthulhu, and Nyarlathotep's favorite 
painting of himself by Pickman, painted with the blood of ghast, 
ghoul, and gaunt, needed to be found, and soon.

	Nyarlathotep was coming for them -- and with them he meant to 
rob Carter of the Silver Key. Where was this Sendak lad? Carter 
left the library with few leads. This New England of the 21st-century 
was so noisy, so crowded, so deadly, and so doomed. He walked 
to the graveyard. It was 9:13 pm.

	Lord Amorship's bones waited. A ghoul whimpered nearby.




PART 5

Night-gaunt flight is a harrowing experience even for the stout-
hearted. Dodging unseen attackers, swooping around curves of 
endless twistings, dips, rises, acceleration, gliding, and the sense 
of being ready to fall thousands of feet at any moment easily terrify 
a first-flyer. Hylum had to think on other things to avoid panic.

Oops, what was this on his wrist? The wrist module -- he'd 
accidentally taken it with him. Actually, these blamed leather-
winged, hell-bats had grabbed him before he'd finished with Clark. 
Hylum remembered the locate function for his Interface Goggles 
and fingered the "Clapper" Code on his wrist module. The Night-
gaunt holding him tightly but without bruising, continued its mad 
flight through the darkness of the Underworlds and would soon 
reach the Howard Arch. The signal from Hylum reached Clark 
Ashton Jones' house just as he was trying on Hylum's multi-
purpose goggles for size.

	"That no-brain Hylum didn't give me his wrist module for this 
contraption. Splendid -- broken and unable to be activated even if I 
manage to --" Clark began. The goggles began beeping and Clark 
barely picked up an audible voice accompanied by hard-to-read 
text in the lens.

	"Clark, Hylum here. Sorry about my having the wrist module 
with me -- I know, I'm a no-brain as you say. Listen, if you are 
reading this, Necro and I are okay though I will never travel with this 
company again. The stewardesses are all ugly, no snacks, and no 
movies. I hope at least we arrive on time. Whoa! Hey, I see 
something up ahead. It's a huge arch of red-glowing, no -- wait, 
now it's an orange-lit arch. Never mind, I think the gaunts are 
heading right for it, like into it, or under it. I don't like this one bit. 
We're almost there, almost there, about to go under it, light is really 
weird looking now, seems like a mirror effect, see myself and the 
gaunts in the reflection, heading right at myself, uh, uh, wait, I see 
a strange --" Hylum's audio transmission and word trace was cut 
short.

	Clark realized they had finally reached and gone into the 
Howard Arch and were interdimensionally traveling, saving about 2 
days travel en route to New England. Only the Night-gaunts knew 
the way in between the Howard Arch here and the Bermuda-
Atlantean Vortex. Once the Night-gaunts appeared over the ocean, 
they'd turn northward and be in New England in a few hours. He 
figured they'd assume a silvered, discoid apparition to hide their 
true identity from onlookers. The UFO poise had always stirred 
interest when gaunts moved about the skies of upper Earth but 
provided a adequate diversion from their secret Underworlds' 
existence. A few gaunts had been killed flying around like this and 
a few humans as well but such is fate. To his knowledge only a few 
gaunts ever dropped their flying saucer guise. They caused the 
giant "Thunderbird" and extant dinosaur sightings a few times. In 
fact, a Night-gaunt or two have even snatched up a few humans to 
play with but usually returned them safely.

	Clark took off the goggles and returned to reading Blackwood's 
"The Willows" and remembered just how very scared he and 
Algernon's young friend were when the real version of that tale 
happened many years ago. The Old Ones were not easy to forget 
when they came so close yet just on the other side of our thin-
walled reality. He'd settle down to some Arthur Machen later that 
evening and sample more of his Ultharian wine. And tomorrow, 
maybe he'd write of 'UMR AT-TAWIL or the adventures of Fladnag 
in the building of Stonehenge. He wondered if Hylum had passed 
out. Interdimensionality is beyond most minds' abilities to cope with 
and few arrived conscious upon re-entering a dimensional matrix. 
Ah, yes! That's it, an inspiration! I shall write a tale called the Nexus 
of Vortices and deliver it to my North Carolinian friend.

	At that moment, Ebon returned, flying into Clark's study and 
stopping to sit on the edge of his desk.

	"Ah, Ebon, hungry I bet. I am glad to see you! Good little gaunt 
you are -- here's a bit of cave fish entrails for you. There you are," 
Clark threw the fish guts out into the middle of the room. Ebon's 
stomach pouch snapped out, snatching the treats before they hit 
the floor. Ebon whisked back his full belly into the chest cavity with 
a smacking and wet sound. Clark threw out a handful of more fish 
snack. Ebon ate that too.

	"Amazing, Ebon, just fascinating how you eat!"

	Halfway into some Machen tome, Clark dozed off that night. 
Ultharian wine had that effect and his dreams were usually 
pleasant but not on this night. The Old Ones, the deep and the 
undead, the imprisoned Ctlhulhu, and dark messengers traveled 
the paths of his dreams. He was nearing the enchanting Temple of 
Hypnos overlooking the Lethean springs when he realized 
corruption was evolving around his cherished loci. Fladnag's voice 
was distantly calling outside and into his dream, warning him of an 
evil presence in the this noir palace. Still, he slumbered, dreaming 
on, held under by the stupefying essence of Ulthar. The Temple of 
Hypnos faded from view, replaced with a nightmarish vista of 
withered trees, broken obsidian shards, piled everywhere about 
him, walled in graveyards besieged by ghouls, and a sickly light of 
two moons cast shadows of silently swaying, tall, thin things that 
should not be. One of the deathly, towering alien forms leaned 
close unfurling a scroll. Upon it verse was unfolding, written fresh 
before his transfixed gaze.



    Something reckoned dead stirred back to life a few yesterdays ago. It longs to drink deep of Lethean waters, perchance to taste of the peaceful oblivion of forgetting. Upon regaining its tottering sense of sanity, I am faced with its delightfully painful manner. That is to say, I am smitten, well slain, encompassed by charnel legions of an ominous maelstrom. Desire and denial swiftly locked themselves in combat setting to flame my sleeping watchmen, writhing pyres sinking into my breached mind's moat. Forbidden knowledge looms ever present, the unattainable but a breath away. Tomes of secret wonder piled in the corner of my soul are near toppling. They would bury me alive as I tease forth another writ. Abominable hourglass marks me more shadow than man! I loathe the weakness, the vacillation, and flagrant hypocrisy! A house of cards, reason is bound and cast into this tempest. Why do you refrain from my presence, my touch, my deathless gaze? I close my eyes nightly, avenues of Isis' effigies stretch out before me. Dreaming finds my voracious obsession awaiting the feasting on itself. It calls the moonlight, dappling rocks in the fen of my private wanderings. It whispers a name gripping my voice in my waking moments before I barely know the new day's dawning, It touches me again. I have no explanation for all these things coming into being, forgotten corpses resurrected in a bondage of living. The dead hold no understanding at their birthing. They find themselves not to be players in the game but merely pawns. We are moved across the game board of life arms flailing for caution, for some grip on events, a respite from loneliness and longing. There is no hesitant moment, no conferring, and we stand naked in the light. We arrive unprepared, unsuited to the task. Mercy, a dried flower in a shadowbox, hope lies fallow by shunned houses. We cower, resisting the urge, the inner tug to attempt another move as if one could decide their life, their heart's course. We hold out, digging in, wishing for time to erase this intensity wrenching the soul. Hours into days, into weeks, into months, and quickly into years and our foolish hearts may turn to other things--other things less futile. Will I be more wary of the dark pig-god Set and his desire to mutilate me? I walk on past the acrid emptiness of burning wastelands of confusion, one more distraction waits just ahead for the endless games of sublimation. Still I know a part of me will always love purely those ones who stand silently waiting in the cthonian places of subjugated passion. Quietly beckoning me from behind gelid waterfalls of ancient snowmelt upon the mountains of madness, they are lost in the mists of my past.
The scroll faded away and the loomingly immense thing of charcoaled brittleness, crumbled away into a pile of cinders and ash. Horrid -- so very depressing this all was to Clark. He struggled to flee this deathscape and awaken. He could not. Ghouls began to wander up the yellow-fogged path from the graveyard. One eyeless, carrion-eater carried an armful of bones. Clark looked beyond the ghouls to the graves, some freshly opened. He then looked at one older-faced ghoul that followed far behind the others. Something in its eyes cried out for deliverance, for mercy. It approached within a few feet of Clark and then turned away to follow the others sinking, surging into a mound of freshly disturbed soil. They walked right into the ground like vile grubs and vanished as if into quicksand. Clark suddenly awoke. Sweating profusely, he slipped out of bed to stumble headlong into Fladnag standing there with a glass of water. Clark drank it own and gasped for air, sitting back down again on his bed. Fladnag began to turn and leave. "Fladnag, thank you. I heard you calling me, trying free me from that horrific dreamworld. I think I recognized one of the ghouls that wandered by me in that place. He looked like, an old friend, like --" Fladnag rarely ever spoke as his voice sounded of glaciers falling into distant oceans or of a train's wheels grinding to a halt as they tore into a trapped car full of screaming victims. But he chose to speak this time and his words gripped Clark with speechless agony. Without turning to face Clark, Fladnag cried a painful howling, "It was indeed a friend. It was Gerald Ossian Amorship. I entered your dreams to bring you back from that place in Arkham. You saw the mystery of Amorship's grave robbing. Amorship's bones were taken and sucked dry of his soul. He is the prisoner of a ghoul. Seek the ghoul that calls himself G'oa. Kill it and Amorship will be freed to return to Sheol. Bury Amorship's bones in a secret grave or crypt. He ignorantly brought this curse upon his own head. The Underworlds' laws are viciously rigid and cruel. Even now G'oa feasts in the Arkham hills upon festering flesh and rotten bones. Your friends Carter and Sendak will each arrive there in a few days. They will bring with them items of power. They think these four things of other realms will save Amorship but Nyarlathotep has deluded those that would help. The Dark One plans on destroying them all and taking all these ancient things they will bring to Arkham. With these vortices of power he will create a great Nexus of Vortices around the sunken towers of Cthulhu's prison and slumbering place. You must go and thwart this plan. I have seen its defeat in most worlds and have looked into a few alternate worlds and seen its destructive success. A great curse of Cthulhu rising is nigh." Clark stared speechless into the back of Fladnag as his silent servant drifted away. What was he to do now? Lord Amorship's bones waited. A ghoul whimpered nearby. PART 6 Randolph Carter sat down to read the old newspapers piled in the Arkham Barber shop. Some things never change. Old plain text papers and chats with local barbers were a wealth of data too easy to pass on. Carter read and asked many questions. Chatting as his extremely long hair was cropped away, Carter learned many sad and terrible things. His barber, that day, was a retired barber from Arkham Industries Sanitarium. He had left there as it got too darn depressing working among the patients. He tired of hearing of the same delusions and fears from everyone being cared for there. It was dreadful work. Hylum Sendak, he learned, had gone on an adventure across the country several years ago. He had taken some awful gene-fixed dog, a cyclecar, and some funds. He was still gone. Most folks in the region assumed he'd never return. This Hylum Sendak he sought, had no way of knowing of his parents' fatal automobile accident nor his brother's inexplicably unwholesome diappearance. Dennis Farnsworth Sendak and Irene August Sendak were bringing their son, Stephanus Leopold Sendak, back home from his ECT treatments at the Arkham Industries Sanitarium, AIS. They had convinced the AIS administration that they could control him adequately at home. They had hired a team of highly-trained protectors and a staff of Med Corps. Upon passing a certain grove of centuries-old trees, Stephanus had started babbling, then screaming about the Great Whore of Babylon, of Shub-Niggurath, of a many-breasted Astarte, some lewd tart-goddess of Ur, and then suddenly jumped out of the car. He rolled unhurt, out on the flexphalt, as a drunkard or drugged soul would do, and regained his footing to run off into the blackening woods. His screams were lost in the mists of an Arkham night. His parents, each distracted by Stephanus' bewildering behavior, failed to keep safely in their own lane and were hit head- on by a hog transtruck. The truck driver was killed instantly, thrown through the plexi-shield of the antiquated vehicle. His transtruck's safety features were not installed correctly. The Sendaks' impact- foam saved them from an instant death. Unfortunately, the load of panicked hogs and weight of the truck rolling onto their Lexus-Cad sedan served to mortally crush and pin them inside until the auto- rescue sigs brought heli-med hopper response. They were lifted to the nearest hospital but died a few hours later. Irene Sendak's last statements did manage to augment the sedan's data-recorder unit with precisly where her son had run off and thus explain the mystery surrounding the crash. The Sendak insurance company paid the transtruck company a hefty settlement via overnight EFT but it really mattered very little as the Sendak family owned the company that they settled with. Only the insurance team and the Sendak legal firm benefited in the end. But what did it matter anyway? Sendak folk tended to die before enjoying the long-term aspects of wealth. AIS search teams and the Sendaks' hired team of protectors quickly responded to the escape of Stephanus Sendak. He had had a history of randomly attacking several innocent people, claiming they were servants of a "Ka-Thool-who". He swore a "Shub-Nee- Goruth" was coming for him soon and would destroy even the AIS complex to get him. Fears that Sendak might actually attempt to do something drastic to AIS facilities had helped earn his release to his parents. Now he was on the loose. With the Sendaks essentially dead and gone. The Sendak lawyers had urged extreme force to capture Stephanus. He was the only remaining heir to the Sendak monies as Hylum Sendak was nowhere to be found and assumed dead. The Sendak lawyers had a great deal to profit from the handling of the Sendak esatate as Dennis Sendak had agreed to give half to Miskatonic University and the remaining amount to his legal staff if named benefactors Irene, Hylum, and Stephanus Sendak were not living. As the AIS search and Sendak para-military teams arrived near the scene of the Sendak accident and the woods where Stephanus was last seen, the search animals began cowering and pulling themselves away. Once released on Sendak's trail, most of the norm-gene dogs ran off. A few gene-mosaic'd, baboon-dog chimeras kept on the trail but were soon lost far into the woods. All their GPS trak-beacon sigs went strangely absent from the teams' monitors. AIS search squad, point man, Yin Zhao, noted, "We lost 'boon- hounds 263 and 667 just 30 meters ahead. I don't get it. Those beacons penetrate a mile into the crust and down to ocean mining runs. This is very odd to lose them completely." Sendak Protector, Flynn McTyne, added, "Whatever happened to those beacons might very well happen to us. I suggest we wait until morning light and maintain a secure perimeter of 90 meters radius around this area. We can call for our own reinforcements and armored units to be brought in. I have a bad feeling about this anomaly." Zhao said, "AIS does not establish a baby sitting camp, Officer McTyne. We either find the patient or we let some real police force find them. My people know this area and have tracked escapees before and successfully returned most." "Suit yourself, 'Chairman' Zhao," McTyne said and spit on the ground near Zhao's boot. He walked back towards the road. Zhao turned to his team and waved them deeper into the gnarled wood and throny darkness to the area where the baboon- dogs had been tracked last. McTyne called out, "Guys, let's get back to our truck and set up an outpost and plan tomorrow's rescue of Sendak along with Yin Zhao and his AIS search cowboys." Zhao said, "McTyne, this will be noted and reported to the Sendak legal team. If Stephanus Sendak dies or causes any more trouble tonight, it will be on your personal files and company service records." McTyne laughed, "Yeah, go ahead. I've known of worse things happening than death to folks wandering in these parts at night. Suits me to sit tight. Give us a buzz if you see Stephanus or locate the 'boon-hounds." Zhao and the AIS team never called anyone that night or ever again. Stephanus Sendak was spotted early the following morning, walking -- dazed and confused -- towards the Sendak protector team's outpost. McTyne was busy reporting the absence of the AIS team, the chimeric critters, the trak-beacon failures, and other odd lights and sounds overnight. He was about to call in more men and equipment when he noticed Sendak. "Sendak! Wait right there! You all right? We're the Sendak family police, here to help you. Don't be afr --" McTyne said. As he was speaking and motioning for his men to quietly surround Sendak, ear-splitting screaming erupted from the mists in the woods. A 'boon-hound came running out into the dawn light. It was not howling or barking but screaming. Disgustingly so, Yin Zhao's face was somehow affixed to the headless animal's blood- crusted chest. Human hands hung from the abdomen. Human bones protruded like dorsal fins of a saurian demon's spine. Zhao's tongue lolled about slinging bile and sputum. Another five meters and it would be on Sendak. It leaped, and retracted baboon canines glistened in Zhao's mouth, far too many canines came forth for Sendak shredding. McTyne blasted the perversion into bloodsmoke and writhing plasma with an exploding micro-filament grid salvo. Another barking monstrosity leaped onto the roadside after the Zhao thing's destruction. It appeared semi-human and bipedal but it was covered with baboon hair and the appendages were all wrong. Arms dangled from the chest and hips. Feet and paw erupted from the neck and rows of canine and human teeth filled mouths sprouting, folding, and rippling in enameled waves across the ventral torso. Eyes of unknown specie dangled limply or flailed about serpentine on extended finger stalks and huge pulsating slabs of sinew and flesh. Sendak stood pointing and laughing at the pitiful creature's stumbling gait. McTyne also decimated that nightmare amalgam. "Ah, you so deftly slay the children of Shub-Niggurath's couplings! Bravo rent-a-cop savior. Damned you shall be if you dare remain here! The Great Mother will crush your heads as ripened grapes and devour your remains! You may slaughter her brood but ye cannot slay that which is Death undying! A thousand thousands of far more twisted deformities await you if you tarry! Ye whilst be her new brood as She dost spawn as a frenzied thing of old! Before the stars were brought into --" Stephanus Sendak screeched, laughed, and danced into the arms of doom. As McTyne stepped over the steamy tissue blotches and piles of blood and viscera hellish, he watched in horror as a tentacle the size of a blue whale's girth uncoiling snake-fast from the thick wood. He lifted his hand-cannon but couldn't pull the trigger. He froze in unbelief. As Sendak danced and cackled on, the sinuous arm wrapped around Sendak. It lifted him off his feet and swiftly coiled back up into the tree tops, knocking some trees aside as it retreated. The ground rumbled as McTyne began shooting blindly into where Sendak was taken. Stephanus' laughter was cut short. McTyne lost three men to the "something" in those Arkham woods that day and the entire AIS team and search animals were declared missing. McTyne and those surviving with him agreed to never speak of what they saw. DNA samples of the carnage found along that Sendak encounter and accident scene on AIS Way were analyzed but all the final reports were collected and kept confidential property of the United States and Can-Provinces Defense Department. It is rumored by some AIS leaks that the DNA was a mosaic of three known species and also of a sequence from something wholly alien but of archaic or ancient descent in some ways. Certain scientists before AIS quieted them thought the mysterious DNA sequences were similar to a type of mold or fungus. Carter tipped the barber and stepped out, squinting into the noon sun. He slipped his shades on and headed for the Sendak family estate and graveyard. He knew somehow, that all the answers would either be found there or soon come and find him. He also sensed Hylum Sendak was due for a long-awaited home- coming. Hylum would be very unhappy to discover the Sendak/ Amorship Manse had been sold and converted into a Bed and Breakfast Inn. The Sendak legal team had done very well, very well indeed. What goes around comes around. Lord Amorship's bones still waited. A ghoul wandered off. PART 7 Somewhere above the frothy green waters over the sunken cyclopean stones of Bimini, 25 flying disks came into view of one nervous Juarez Acuna. He watched as they approached him and the fishing hydroshuttle. He crossed himself over a tattoo of the Virgin Mary, whispered a prayer to his favorite saint, and began firing his Euro48 decimator, E48D, quantar. It was his turn to stand watch and the cargo was not fish but highly illegal, LN2-cryo-fixed, human brains. The Russo-China Mafia was selling virtual reality scenarios based on the real memory matrices of freshly obtained brain tissues whole and otherwise. They were delivered via sat- guided, mini-subs to off-shore, Florida warehouses housing neuro- chop-shops. Juarez was a high-paid middle man who didn't even know what he was smuggling but knew the Mafia would kill him if any type of problem went down. The E48D was a big gun and packed a serious punch of tunneling quanta. The beam sliced through four of the discs, halving them. When Night-gaunt parts and pieces showered Juarez he was sure alien demons had arrived. He lowered the E48D to toast the dying gaunts frantically trying to swim his way. The seas boiled with heat and noise as thunder and fireballs went everywhere. Juarez's last sight was a tremendous winged shadow blocking out the moonlight over the ocean where he was burning gaunts. Before he could turn and re-aim the E48D, a Night-gaunt had decapitated him, his head a splash in the troubled water. His body fell limp across the E48D still firing quanta -- filling the hydroshuttle with fireballs and burning plastasteel. Before Juarez's head had sunk two meters, a mini-nuke from the mini-sub was launched. As the remaining gaunts flew safely on at top speed with Hylum and Necronomicon, Juarez, shuttle and the non-talking heads on ice were all reduced to molecules and microns. Hylum would need to change his pants upon arrival in New England. Necronomicon had barked himself hoarse. The lead gaunt turned further out to sea and the rest of the flock followed. They soon descended and roosted on an unmanned oceanic survey dronecraft. A squadron of fighters blasted through the night skies headed for the nuclear detonation site. This would become known as the very worst side effect of a Night-gaunt visit to the Upperworlds. Hylum wandered how long he and "Necro" would have to hide here. "Let's get outta here! You guys are a menace to society! I was nearly fried by that schmuck with a E48D and then nuked for good measure!" Hylum shouted. The Night-gaunts never moved but kept watching the night skies with their eyeless visages. Without warning, they all spread their leathery, rubber-like wings, grasped Hylum and his dog tightly and sprang into the sky. They kept very low to the water and actually clipped a few sail boat masts. Before Hylum knew it he saw the lights of Newport far off. The Night-gaunts increased their speed, re-assumed the UFO guise, and hovered near the farthest out, Newport heli-port islands. They dropped off Hylum and Necronomicon without being seen. Luckily, many of the coast patrol had shifted their focus on Florida waters, as well watching New York, Washington, and Charleston. Cherry Point Base in North Carolina launched a counter-attack and took out nearly all the known Russo-China mini-sub surveillance devices. Everyone suspected Mafia but no country or organization on the planet dared cross them too often. Hylum found a nearby restroom and shower. Necronomicon recharged his jaw torque enhancer. Hylum tried contacting his parents but learned the code addy was reassigned. That really worried him. He did a name and data search and stood in the air- dry stall staring at the vidglass.
    Sendak estate sold. Sendak legal firm nets 3.2 billion. Bed and breakfast opens at Sendak manse. Fear and rumors of Sendak curse causes new owners to have to close up operations after only eight months. Sendak properties return to state owned classification to cover new tax fees. Proposed Kennedy-Sendak- Amorship Museum may soon open in a few years.
Hylum scrolled the readout back a year or so.
    Mr. and Mrs. Sendak killed in terrible accident last week. Mystery still surrounds missing body of son, Stephanus Sendak. Police report that body stolen by Mafia from accident scene never verified. Case remains unsolved.
Hylum slumped to the floor and wept. Necronomicon scratched to get inside the men's room but accepted waiting by the door. Randolph Carter neared the Sendak manse and marveled at its sad state of depreciation. Even the shock fencing was disconnected and it was obvious the state hadn't spent much time protecting it from vandals, NDE/DE sim-stim dealers, and looters. He clicked the safety off his quantar and felt again for the Silver Key on the chain around his neck. He pushed the shock fencing aside with a stick just to play it safe and made his way inside. He walked in the moonlight down the grand driveway leading to the mansion. He would wait here for the last of the Sendaks. Hylum was near if not already here. Lord Amorship's bones were quiet. His soul cried out. PART 8 Lord Amorship had just purchased, in some bit of idle ignorance and a deep sense of fascination, a perversely crafted candle of Innsmouth wax, a graven image of Cthulhu, and Nyarlathotep's favorite painting of himself by Pickman. He loved the tales of Lovecraft with their far-flung fantasies of dark gods and evil doings from old and beyond the galaxy. Why these corrupted powers all wanted this ignoble planet as a kingdom perplexed him. He theorized that since Lovecraft felt so "ignored" and "out of place" himself, he thus wrote of exquisitely grand and deeply metaphysical themes and thus lifted himself above and beyond the ignorance of simple-minded men of his day. His popularity would be greater with time he surmised. And finding these obviously Lovecraftian artifacts clearly demonstrated his fans and followers were already perpetuating a Mythos and a cultic allegiance to the Lovecraft doctrine. Lovecraft himself, wisely encouraged other writers to use and expand his ideas. Splendid, he thought. So these odd items, echoing Lovecraft's ideas, would surely grow in value. He would buy them cheap and sell them, maybe, for a huge profit. His statements to the press about them after the auction were his way of building hype and therefore infusing them with value beyond his own beliefs. Little did Amorship know that one of these items pre-dated Lovecraft by many millennia. The remainder were crafted around Lovecraft's day by actual people that represented real events for real purposes. When Amorship had his servants unload them, one man wearing a cross touched the Innsmouth candle and said the wax was melting, resisting his grip. However he attempted to gain a grip, the candle somehow resisted his touch. Amorship ordered him aside and a foreigner named Prasanna easily carried the candle off the truck. Amorship fired the other man that hour. The Cthulhu statue appeared inadvertently dropped off a small cart and then rolled into one of Amorship's garden pools. Upon retrieving it, the servants claimed the statue somehow leaped off the cart and rolled a bit uphill to reach the pool. Amorship had seen this for himself but chastised the staff profusely anyway. He couldn't afford to fire anymore workers that day. He watched very carefully as the men finally set the statue safely in his study. When he later investigated the pool for any damage, he found all his rare goldfish and turtles dead. Even the aquatic flora was looking sickly and later that day he saw birds that usually visited the pool turn away. He had the water changed. The painting of Nyarlathotep also proved undeniably cursed in the subsequent death of his personal servant Prasanna. Dear friend, Clark Ashton Jones had told him very harsh things that evening and Amorship never forgot the hurt. Yet he kept these odd pieces, only moving them to a locked room secreted behind a wall in the attic tower room of his grand home. He was beginning to believe he understood Lovecraft's hiding the things behind a false wall in the Providence dwelling. When Amorship came across a rare vinyl copy of the Eldritch Songs of Erich Zann played by Unero Zivers, he of course purchased it. He was listening to it in the tower room with the windows open for the full effect of the storm brewing outside. How wonderfully perfect this will be! He turned the volume up very high and kicked back, observing the thunderheads forming shapes and sputtering fire and rumblings. As the music became an electric violin cacophony and mad dirge of bass notes with ritual drumming he sensed a change outside the window as clouds were replaced with a swirling of stars and echoes of a distant bellowing. Rain swept across the stone floor and then a steaming presence was noted. Across the floor were advancing great footprints of dried and steamed stone where there should have been wet stone. The rains parted and ran off an unseen entity as fog and hot mist filling the area. The ceiling collected this odd fog and soon the whole room smelled of ozone and vinegar, of acetic acid. Amorship was paralyzed with fear as the invisible intruder walked past him toward the far side of the room. It approached the secret room hidden behind a tapestry recreation of Bosch's art. The tapestry burst into flames and fell aside, the stone door opened easily as if it was never locked. A voice bubbled up from nowhere and everywhere, "Lord Amorship, you have called for guidance from the dwellers of the Threshold. I am, G'hortyd, your servant. How would you so live for all Time and direct the dark powers thereof?" Amorship said, "I, I, I uh, I do not understand." "The music of the opening of the way summons me and in this room are the triune vertices of the final Nexus of Vortices, all items assembled upon your word, shall open the Ancient way, the Eldritch Doors, the paths of Cthulhu, the tunnel beneath R'lyeh." Amorship still was confused and said, "Go on, show me these vertices and explain their workings before I command thee. And what of this endless life you mention?" Amorship was well over 80 and his heart and lungs were failing him. Endless life tempted him as his might end soon by the advance of age. G'hortyd answered, "Do ye not know of these things yet your song speaks to me of wisdom, for none can so well play my song but a master? Still, as you ask, strange one, I explain. As the Innsmouth waxen candle lit will light the locked way, the image of Cthulhu, of sky-stone from Yuggoth's blasted moons will resonate a dead star's call to the Sleeping One, and Nyarlathotep's accursed image here, has eyes that see where in R'lyeh Great Cthulhu slumbers. Once these three are brought to the seas above R'lyeh, then the Silver Key will be turned by Nyarlathotep himself, and so mighty Cthulhu will arise. For this service to the Old Ones you shall reign with them and live for all Time and so Death may even die before thee." Amorship was filled with a gripping fear. What should he do? G'hortyd shouted, "Summon me not for empty moments! I sense your doubt and fear. If you fail to act, you and your loved ones will suffer the wrath of the Thresholders! Delay to act -- and ghouls will feast on your bones. You will soon die, yet live forever but eternally dead-lived, as prisoner in a ghoul's wretched body. Your soul will never forget this day!" "Be gone you foul demon!" Amorship cried, and kicked his phonograph over. The music stopped and G'hortyd was swept aside by a fierce wind that slammed the secret door shut and locked. Amorship fell to the floor and witnessed every piece of furniture, carpet, and painting sucked out the ravaged window. The storm passed by quickly and the empty room was completely dry as Amorship's tears flowed. He made out a will that night. Amorship became more and more obsessed with the occult and seeking to understand what had happened to him on that night. The key to the secret room vanished one day but Amorship thought it best, hoping no one ever found that room. In a few years his wife died. She fell from the attic tower window while birdwatching. Amorship blamed himself and became very depressed and refused any doctor's attention. His servants reported he rarely left his study until the day he died. He passed away screaming and begging that he be buried in a secret mausoleum far away from his home. His wishes were not carried out as family felt he should be buried in the family graveyard, next to his wife, behind the Amorship Estate. Amorship's secret room was to be discovered much later by a nephew. It was strangely unlocked, by someone or something at some earlier time. Perhaps by a ghoul? In fact, when Hylum Sendak first discovered the room in the attic tower, he begged his parents to let him have the ghastly things within, as they were just too cool. Being a spoiled, young Amorship, Hylum became their owner. He had them moved to secure storage in Providence. Hylum was indeed an Amorship by blood by his first set of parents. Sadly, they died in a suspicious house fire while he and his sister, Felicia, were away visiting relatives. Hylum's Uncle Dennis and Irene Sendak took in the orphaned Amorship children. Hylum and Felicia were the last of the Amorship lineage. The Amorship Estate and holdings passed to Hylum and Felicia and their adoptive parents. Stephanus Sendak was the weird step- brother. As part of some crazy and futile idea to protect Hylum and Felicia from the Amorship "curse", their names were changed to Sendak. Little did any of the Sendak clan realize the curse surrounded the blood and not the name. Even dear young Felicia next fell prey to the curse. One night, while exploring an ancient mining warehouse mentioned in Lord Amorship's writings, poor Felicia tumbled through some rotted boards, falling to her death. Her body was never found. The shaft was too deep for rescue and even searches by local spelunkers were unsuccessful in recovering her body. Hylum became so angry with himself and guilty about Felicia's death that he finally agreed to sell Uncle Amorship's Estate. The Sendak's wanted to buy a new one elsewhere. Hylum first took many things he found, before the auction was scheduled. Among his findings were Carter's Silver Key and the 46 Elder Sign stones. After Hylum was much older, it was finally agreed to buy the new Sendak Estate and begin investing Lord Amorship's money. Hylum was angered by many things his Uncle Dennis and Aunt Irene would do. He soon left for California, without any notice of where, when, or why. Aunt Irene missed him dearly but Uncle Dennis was relieved to see him go. Stephanus Sendak really enjoyed reading all the books Hylum had collected from Uncle Amorship's study. Soon enough, Stephanus' curious ways would bring him into deep trouble -- the kind of trouble that can destroy one's soul. Lord Amorship's bones cried out. PART 9 Hylum Gideon (Amorship) Sendak leaned back in the air-ferry and listened to "Necro" complaining in the trunk. The driver refused the pit-bull attack dog to enter the pasenger compartment. They would soon arrive near the deserted Sendak Estate. Oddly enough his step parents barely moved a mile outside of Arkham Heights where the Amorship Estate also wasted away in near ruin. Lord and Lady Amorship's gravesites were there too. It pained Hylum to known an empty coffin was buried at the foot of Lord Amorship's headstone. It maddened him beyond words and now the Sendak's family members were buried there too he supposed. Dennis and Irene probably had a sealed mausoleum, of course, and Felicia too, after what happened to Uncle Amorship's grave. He wondered if they even bothered with any remembrance for missing Stephanus. The legal firm was a heartless bunch -- but very rich. There was Sendak Estate. Long time no see -- it looked like a pile of crap made out of stone and broken glass. The shock fencing was a nice and inviting touch. Looked like Massachushitz State gummit work. Hylum raked his access card over the exit panel and so tipped the air-ferry girl double for bringing "Necro" along even in the trunk. He figured it would cover the clean-up it would need now after "Necro" had finished expressing his frustrations. He waved good-bye to the girl but she was nothing but tail lights in an instant - - bad neighborhood up here near Arkham Heights. Can't say he didn't blame her. "Necro, you nasty old thing, you! Why'd ya go and mess up that girl's air-ferry? Hunh?" Hylum asked. Necronomicon scratched out a universally understood profanity sign in the dirt by the roadside with his paw. "Nice, really nice," Hylum said as he read it. Necronomicon wriggled past the shock fencing and headed for the Sendak manse. He had been here long ago and knew the way. He was looking for what might be left of his favorite set of trees and so forth. "Yo, Necro! Wait a darn minute you beast!" Hylum followed, crouching down under the torn shock-mesh. He saw fresh footprints that were not dog tracks. He suspected it could be Carter but he couldn't be sure. But who else gave any care about this place -- hoods and pimps? He'd soon find out. He looked around, remembering his days here, thinking of Felicia, hearing her laughter, seeing her running through the gardens and yards. He saw weeds and high grass now and cracked flexphalt with Bermuda grass coming up in the driveway. Why hadn't that weed ever been tamed? The sky looked threatening -- like it might rain tonight or the end of the world was coming. The moon was retreating behind a wreath of oily-rag, clouds. Where was that idiot dog? Hylum began walking again toward his past and the future -- however short that may be. Unknown to everyone but Hylum, he had moved the three dangerous items once owned by Lovecraft, then Uncle Amorship, and now himself out of storage to the Sendak Estate. He'd paid a stone mason to secretly, and quite quickly, add a false wall in the garage when Dennis and Irene Sendak were off vacationing with Stephanus, the whacko step-brother. He didn't hate Stephanus but Felicia said she had seen him snooping around in her lingerie drawers once and Hylum never trusted him after that. She thought it was funny how dreadfully embarassed he was when she stepped in the room. To Hylum, it was inexcusable. Behind the hollow garage wall was hidden the curious candle of Innsmouth wax, a black stone likeness of Cthulhu, and ghastly Nyarlathotep's portrait. Hylum always found it strange that in all Uncle Armorship's writings he never mentioned these things after first buying them nor were they even notated in the extensive listings of his will. What were these things for? Why had both Lovecraft and Amorship hidden them? And why had even he, himself, hidden them away. He somehow understood, it was all for tonight. He, Carter, and "Necro" would need them to answer many questions and perhaps create new ones. He feared Carter but he feared the gods of darkness moreso. He walked on, nearer to the front door and steps ascending to the Sendak Estate Homeplace. He hated this place. The door swung open. "Hylum Sendak, I presume?" intoned Randolph Carter. PART 10 "Evil and good shall walk the paths of Time side by side -- yet they walk alone. We serve very different lords, gods, and kings. Our lives are crossroads and battlegrounds. We answer to light and whisper darkness. We are pawns as we surrender. We are warrior- priests if we resist. We die and so live or we live as dead men in an illusion of life," Carter explained. Hylum heard Carter repeat the phrase but failed to grasp all of it. "Okay, Randolph, if I may address you so?" "Please do, go ahead, Hylum." "I get the good and evil walking and serving gods and so forth. I agree that we are all directly involved in some ways with a conflict. And yes we can be used as pawns and we can resist too," Hylum said. "Very good, you get the basics," Randolph said. "But this answering to light and whispering darkness, this dying to live an illusion of life jazz -- whazzat all about? All I know is that very creepy things are happening, have been happening, long ago and right now. I don't get half of it but I believe that evil seeks to overthrow good, that death seeks to devour life, and gods of outer darkness desire to bring destruction and doom to the light. Uncle Amorship and Clark Jones both are deep into this weird battle," Hylum spoke, looking over his shoulder at uncertain noises from the gardens. Was it "Necro"? Clark looked as well, answering, "It is your friend, Necronomicon. He is reliving his puppy days out there, rooting and relaxing. Night-gaunts are a fearful experience to most animals, especially dogs. Cats seem unaffected by gaunts." "Randolph, my questions?" "Ah, yes, forgive my getting off topic. The light represents truth, love, faith, and wholeness, the very nature and abode of the Source of all gods, even the dark ones." "Hunh? I don't follow. How can good be the Author of evil?" "These things just are, I cannot fully explain but behind all the controversy and rage is purpose, peace, order, and an unalterable plan. It is a plan that predates Time and will exists when Time is not needed," Randolph spoke as he sat on the Sendak Estate steps, gazing into the infinite night sky at a handful of stars. "You're losing me man. This is beginning to sound very religious and I don't do the church thang." "Hylum, before there was man's creation of religious traditions, the Source existed. If I may, let's call the Source, the High and Exalted One." "Whatever -- this gonna take an hour? Should I find a good seat near the front?" Hylum sarcastically asked, as he too sat near Randolph. "No, no -- I am about finished. Give me about five more minutes," Randolph chuckled and put his hand on Hylum's shoulder. "Man's traditions, be they oral, written, or externalized by attitudes and actions have helped bring about a very confusing situation. I have been doing my homework since I returned to Providence. Here we are in 2112, extended lifetimes, gene- enhanced, brain-boosted, colonies on Mars, bases on the moon, technology that thinks for itself, and still we kill each other for fun or profit, even our next-door neighbor, and create novel ways to rip each other off. I have been trapped in an alternate world, dead long ago, light years away, and I return to my New England to find many amazing improvements and wonders but darkness and evil still rule us. Laws, policies, serotonin-drugs, happy-stims, and prison colonies on the ocean floor -- what has really changed? I think we have new labels on the same old story." Randolph said. "Hmm, how depressing it all is, man is all screwy but you still haven't answered my questions." Randolph stood again, walked down a step or two, turned to Hylum and said, "Hylum, The High and Exalted One awaits us, each of us, to join in battle against the creeping ruin within and from without. Evil and Death will one day die. Dark yet eternal gods and beings of endless light will indeed live on past Death. Man can help this drawn-out process to be completed sooner or he helps extend the temporal reign of darkness. Angels, messengers, demons, dark gods, Old Ones, Elder Things, aliens, Shoggoths, godless monsters, other dimensions, time portals, alternate world lines, soul, spirit, flesh, love, hatred, forgiveness, mercy, revenge, murder, magic, sorcery, religion, tradition, death, life and even that which we yet do not realize, exists among the living -- it is all real, all, very real. And The High and Exalted One sees fit to invite mere men and women to stand against kingdoms of ancient darkness and rebellion. We are not the infinitely, insignificant motes of flesh and blood hopelessly lost in the vast, cold universe we might imagine. Each one of us plays an eternal part in the Plan. In our very natures is the echo of eternity, the image of the Source. Even evil powers, gods in immortal chains, or those running free, hold the image of the Source within them. They hate this knowledge as it damns them as a created thing, a god yes, but not the Source, the God of gods. These dark ones, the Old Ones, all join together, hoping to pervert all the good of God, to spread lies, and twist the Truth, to destroy and mutate the creation, to kill and torture every man, woman and child, and thus the Plan might fail. They hurt us as they know it brings hurt that passes all the way back to the Source. Blind hatred and burning pride in their powers deceive the dark ones. Long ago, they turned their loving worship and perfect recognition of God, their Source, inwards upon themselves. Instead of freely loving the Source and so directing recognition of all creation's soul to the High and Exalted One, they chose to worship themselves and seek the very worship that only the God of gods deserves. God has never needed anything, never wanted for anything, never desired any worship nor had to have obedience for any part of God's nature. The things that the dark gods and man himself do not understand about the High and Exalted One is that the Source of all, seeks to manifest perfect love, glory and mercy. The Source seeks to share, to include us all in the plan. What we don't see and what we are taught so incorrectly about the High and Exalted One by religion and tradition causes us to stumble in a self- made, a self-maintained type of darkness. We begin to trust only ourselves, to turn inward for all truth, and we begin to worship gods of our own design. The great challenge in becoming a warrior-priest is to boldly seek anew the Source, to hold fast to any truth that comes to us from the Source, even if it means leaving the religion and traditions of our parents and culture. We must die to what seems life and turn to the Source, the High and Exalted One, and so we truly live. Any other sort of living is a death, an illusion of life and we walk the valley of the shadows." Hylum didn't say anything but got up and walked past Randolph to the garden. He still felt "preached at" but there was something naggingly "right on" about Randolph's sermonette. Did he have what it took to die? Could he discover the Source for himself? Was he warrior-priest material? And where was "Necro" anyway? "Thanks, Randolph. I'll think on what you said. Deep stuff man, very heavy head trip you can lay on a person, ya know?" "You asked. I answered. I speak only what I have been shown." "The Source, right?" "Yes, many years, many miles, many worlds, and ultimately it all comes back to the voice of the Source." Necronomicon came running out of the garden barking like he'd seen a ghost or a giant flea. Randolph looked around the grounds. The hedges and high grass began a gentle swaying. The moonlight vanished behind a large cloud bank. Randolph looked beyond the hedges to the tree line in the distance and noted movement, too much for this windless night. Hylum asked, "Whassup Necro? See a big cat?" Necronomicon, looked behind the hedges, growling in a hushed manner. "We don't have much time here, Hylum. They have found us." "What? Who found us?" Hylum asked as "Necro" leaped out of his arms and ran up the steps and into the Sendak house. Randolph followed the dog as fast as he could leap up the steps. Hylum sighed deeply, took a last look around, thought he saw a Shoggoth, and scrambled after Randolph. They slammed the door and locked it. Lord Amorship's bones waited. PART 11 Randolph and Hylum followed Necronomicon up the grand staircase to a mezzanine overlooking the foyer. They all paused and gazed out the huge sunrise window onto the front yard. The grass and soil was being churned by something or some things burrowing around the foundations of the house. Some trees had fallen over and in the moonlight a glistening slime or sheen sparkled on the sidewalk. It welled up through cracks in the concrete. Hylum experienced a nameless dread as he rubbed the Elder Sign stones in his zippered hip pocket. Necronomicon continued up the stairs to Hylum's old room. Randolph beckoned Hylum to leave the window and get upstairs. Something hit the side of the house and the chandelier above them swayed threateningly -- they coughed on the dusts raining upon them. "What's out there, Randolph?" "My guess is Niggurath brood instars -- perhaps in their last molt before their winged stage." "Forget, I asked. You mean giant grubs?" "Not exactly grubs but close -- more like terrestrial lampreys." "Big blood-sucking worms you say?" "Right, but omnivorous and very intelligent -- like a hunting dog with a mouth the size of small lift-car. We need to find substantial shelter and locate a way of escape or defense soon," Randolph said. Hylum ran ahead and went down a long hall. He came to his old bedroom, pushed the jammed door aside and found memory lane pretty much intact. "Necro" had hidden under the bed as he'd done when a small puppy. He didn't fit so good now and Hylum grinned to see the bed up off of two legs. Randolph came in next. Hylum was digging around and banging things in his bedroom closet. He came out covered in gypsum dust, holding an aluminum case and a molded plastasteel item. "What have we here, Hylum?" "In here," Hylum answered, lifting out a new data helmet with visors, "This, an extra helmet and this," opening the other case, "a heavy-duty quantar, forearm-mount cannon. Yee-haw!" "How many rounds?" "Oh enough, to level this house and terraform half the neighborhood. Sufficient for Niggurath worms I think." "Yes, very good. And where are the Amorship items, Hylum?" "Follow me," Hylum said, putting on his helmet, "Necro! Let's roll!" Necronomicon, "You read me now?" "Oh yeah," Hylum adjusted his visor's com-link readout focus. Necronomicon, "Tell Randolph I said hello and that I hate his stinking friends out there screwing up the gardens." "Necro" came out from under the bed and sniffed the room. "He says hello, Randolph and that he ain't so fond of your Niggurath horde tearing up the daffodils." "Tell him hello back and that I hope Hylum will soon send the errant grubs on their way back to Momma." "He heard that. Let's go. Amorship's deadly folly and my bad luck is hidden in the basement garage. I hope the foundations have kept the worm things out," Hylum said as he ran out the door. Randolph and "Necro" followed close on his heels. Hylum took a rear set of stairs that servants had used. With the power out, all the lift tubes were dead. They reached the basement area quickly. Signs of stress and fractures played along the hallway. The walls had held -- for now. Hylum ran to the far wall of the echo-laden garage space. He reached down to his wrist module, keyed in an encrypted code and the wall swung open. Inside were the items Nyarlathotep sought. Hylum reached for the candle. "No, wait," Randolph urged, " Allow me to do what I must." Hylum stepped aside. Randolph, checked again inside his shirt, running his fingers over the Silver Key. He reached for the candle of Innsmouth wax, pulling it over, casting it onto the floor and stomping on it. "What are you doing?" Randolph ignored Hylum and swept aside the brittle wax-like substance. Within was the wick he sought. He peeled it away and rolled it into a ball. He pocketed it. Next he lifted the head of Cthulhu off the body with a small turning at the neck. He turned the octopoid head upside down and pressed a hidden lever inside. Cthulhu's visage fell apart into several pieces. Randolph picked up what seemed to be a crude carving of the dark god's brain. He pocketed that as well. Then he went to the painting of Nyarlathotep and with a pen knife cut out the portion of canvas where the evil eyes were painted. He folded it away into his shirt pocket. Hylum stood and stared in utter confusion. "Hylum, let's go quickly now. We must get to the Amorship family graveyard." "Yeah, okay but what did I just see here?" They ran towards the metal doors of the garage. Hylum drew his hand-quantar cannon and blasted a hole for them to get out fast. The noise attracted Niggurath brood but Hylum, Randolph, and "Necro" quickly ran over the various groundswells before the blood- grubs erupted to the surface to feed. Hylum turned and fired several rounds into the Sendak Estate and vaporized it, killing Niggurath brood in the collateral damage. Their screams called Nyarlathotep. "They say you can never go home, right, Hylum?" "Yeah right. Like I asked before -- what did you do back there and why?" "I have read that one day Nyarlathotep will open the Nexus of Vortices with the Items of Power. As far as I know, these things in my pocket were the key parts of Items of Power. If they are positioned over any body of water, especially the Pacific or Atlantic Oceans, a pulling together of portals can be achieved. Burn the Innsmouth Deep Ones, hair wick candle, near the sky-stone Cthulhu brain carving and illuminate the eyes of Nyarlathotep and the Nexus of Vortices opens. Cthulhu awakes, the waves that hold him lose their strength, and Cthulhu will walk the Earth as of old before the Battle of battles. He will follow the Nexus of Vortices to our time and space freed from his non-dimensional, micro-hell where he dreams death and revenge. I fear that Nyarlathotep also seeks the Silver Key. With it, the Old Ones arisen and free, will travel to the very thrones of the Elder Gods and wage a new war. Man will be an afterthought, the Earth but a staging ground for the massing of behemoth warriors from the edge of Time. They will feast on us, dance on our cities, and provoke the Wrath of the Source. The High and Exalted One may answer the Old Ones' challenge and the End of this Age will be made manifest. I don't feel the world is ready for such a war, for such judgment and cataclysm. We must see to it that these Items of Power are destroyed. I will do so and the Silver Key will be used for good, not evil." "You are serious aren't you?" "Yes, very. Remember this, Hylum," they all continued running out the rear half of the estate, heading towards Arkham Heights, Randolph continued, "R'lyeh, the sunken city is merely stone and muck surrounding a dimensional vortex, a connection where dimensions overlap, intersecting in a sort of trough, a time-space pit of pits. Cthulhu is locked outside of our existence but his thoughts, his Mind is free to roam and dream. As Dunne showed, even the human mind can travel to parallel worlds across the planes of Time. Thus we have confirmed precognitive episodes. Cthulhu is strongest in his non-material essence but that is trapped in a nether realm. It is debated whether he merely rests there or is indeed imprisoned by the Elder Gods. At times past the R'lyeh region has experienced upheavals and Cthulhu has expanded a bit, a very minor bit of his Mind as matter into our time-space world line. He can never sustain this manifestation for too long as he risks his Mind being overburdened. Too many prequels into this world could hamper his intended escape eons from now." "Bloody crazy this all is my good friend stand aside please," Hylum said. He blasted a Niggurath blood worm monstrosity looming up behind them from a row of bamboo. It's head exploded into cloud of teeth and unearthly meat. "Thank-you, Hylum. I never heard that one." Necronomicon, "I suggest we blab less and run more folks." "Agreed, Necro. I am thinking we are on the same page. Randolph, pick up the pace!" After about 35 minutes of out-of-breath jogging the trio neared the Amorship estate ruins and untended family graveyard. Randolph asked Hylum to stand watch as he slowly pulled out the Silver Key. He knew what he must do and feared he might now be able to find his way. It would seem like he was gone for a few minutes to Hylum but it would take many hours of his life away jumping to the other side of the Universe. The Elder Gods rarely entertained visitors. "Hylum, in a few seconds, I will vanish with the Silver Key's power. I should return soon I hope, to help you. If I am longer than ten minutes, fire your hand cannon just there, into that freshly turned earth. It is a ghoul passage. That will bring them up. They consider this their feeding territory and will eat the living foolish enough to wander here at night. You will see a large ghoul with sad eyes named G'oa. Kill him and your Uncle Amorship's soul will fly free. Another ghoul, servant to G'oa carries your uncle's bones. Destroy them with that weapon of yours. Scatter the ashes to the winds so that no ghoul may ever touch them again." "Randolph, where are you going?" Hylum asked, "Necro" stood nearby, sniffing at a bone poking up out of a disturbed grave. Randolph held up the Silver Key, whispered the memorized words, turning the key inside a space outside of space in a nether realm's impossible geometries. He vanished. He stood in the presence now of his friend yet deeply feared Guardian of the Ultimate Gate, 'UMR AT-TAWIL! 'UMR AT-TAWIL's nimbus of golden-green tinged with fire of lambent violet flared at the appearance of Carter. "I have come to " 'UMR AT-TAWIL held forth the scepter of silence and bade Carter come closer. He knew already what Carter would attempt and even 'UMR AT-TAWIL felt a long-forgotten emotion dread. He beckoned Carter to pass into the Gate. All those beings in the presence of 'UMR AT-TAWIL that worked out this fearful passage each became silent with fear they had all thought long passed. 'UMR AT-TAWIL guaranteed them that only Carter would know any wrath of the Elder Gods. He alone risked anything Gate guardians were absolved of this unique and unheard of request. Carter looked into the Gate's myriad colors and swirling lights. Like spider webs of energy they pulled at him and suddenly he knew it was too late for second thoughts. He found himself sinking down in the blindingly white courtyards of the Elder Gods. He drifted down past their gigantic visages. Their radiant faces were as stone, unmoving, towering now above him. His descent slowed to a few feet above the transparent stones of the hallowed City of the Forever King. He slowly removed the accursed contents of his pockets. He dropped the Innsmouth waxed wick, the sky-stone carving of Cthulhu, and the crumpled canvas of Nyarlathotep's gaze. They each flared up in flames before hitting the holy ground that Carter was hovering above, Silver Key in hand. Suddenly the Silver Key was gone from his hand and it floated a few feet in front of him. He fell to his knees on the invisible place of grace, mercy, and immense power he occupied. The silence was heavy upon him but there was something else a quiet of understanding. Before Carter could ask for mercy he found himself kneeling beside Hylum. He was shaking, weeping, yet somehow renewed and calm. "Randolph! You're back. You okay? That was fast. Where did you " Randolph stood and put his finger to his lips, closing his eyes and shaking his head for quiet. Hylum complied. A few hand cannon blasts later and Lord Amorship's bones were ash, blowing away in a strange wind rising. G'oa was dead, Amorship's imprisoned soul flew free to its rightful place where the dead must go. The angered howls of Nyarlathotep and Shub- Niggurath were heard that night in Arkham. They dared not come near Randolph Carter and Hylum Sendak. It was said that the light of the Elder Gods' presence had taken up residence in the eyes of Carter. Hylum Sendak eventually returned to California to live where he has taken up the hobby of mountain climbing and spelunking. He visits a very old friend on those underground trips. Necronomicon had another genetic upgrade and has taken to enjoying a good read once in a while. He hopes to speak-write his own tales one day. Randolph Carter runs a sleep clinic research lab at a private facility in Virginia's Blue Ridge mountains. Lord Amorship's ashes wander the winds. Cthulhu endures a fever dream and bashes his tentacled fists on the walls of the void, trapped tight in the ancient nexus of vortices. ~ The End ==================================================

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"I wanna go home now!!"