And at the last from inner Egypt came
The strange dark One to whom the fellahs bowed;
Silent and lean and cryptically proud,
And wrapped in fabrics red as sunset flame.
Throngs pressed around, frantic for his commands,
But leaving, could not tell what they had heard;
While through the nations spread the awestruck word
That wild beasts followed him and licked his hands.
Soon from the sea a noxious birth began;
Forgotten lands with weedy spires of gold;
The ground was cleft, and mad auroras rolled
Down on the quaking citadels of man.
Then, crushing what he chanced to mould in play,
The idiot Chaos blew Earth's dust away.
Reference: That last amorphous blight of nethermost confusion which blasphemes and bubbles at the center of all infinity - the boundless daemon sultan Azathoth, whose name no lips dare speak aloud, and who gnaws hungrily in inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond amidst the muffled, maddening beating of vile drums and the thin monotonous whine of accursed flutes. — H.P. Lovecraft, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath
Reference: And it was then that Nyarlathotep came out of Egypt. Who he was, none could tell, but he was of the old native blood and looked like a Pharaoh. The fellahin knelt when they saw him, yet could not say why. He said he had risen up out of the blackness of twenty-seven centuries, and that he had heard messages from places not on this planet. Into the lands of civilisation came Nyarlathotep, swarthy, slender, and sinister, always buying strange instruments of glass and metal and combining them into instruments yet stranger. He spoke much of the sciences - of electricity and psychology - and gave exhibitions of power which sent his spectators away speechless, yet which swelled his fame to exceeding magnitude. Men advised one another to see Nyarlathotep, and shuddered. And where Nyarlathotep went, rest vanished; for the small hours were rent with the screams of a nightmare. -- H.P. Lovecraft, Nyarlathotep
He was served by the Mi-Go who brought three asteroids into earth orbit to devastate his enemies: firstly his cultic competitors at Olathöe and then the Danes and Japanese. A number of other demonic creatures were under his command, including at least one Byakhee. His rise and fall marked the reappearance of the Assassins of Alamut, the hasheshin, who later resurfaced briefly as the Polytechnic League. It seems likely that the Assassins/Nyarlathotep Cult had spread across the Middle East into North Afriqa and towards India prior to the Assumption of Georgia.
Nyarlathotep is the soul and servant of the Outer Gods.
Duke Vaysara, however, did make the odd mistake of journeying down out of the Taurus mountains into Hussite-held Antioch, were he asked a number of leading (and obvious) questions about 'secret societies' and 'have you seen the Yellow Sign?'. The Hussite fathers in the city were quickly informed and Vaysara ended his days swinging upside down in a pit of vipers, while the burly church pastors beat him with iron staves.
T173, Sultanate of Syria
What they did find, however, was a rose-red city half as old as time that was utterly abandoned. There were signs, however, that it had been inhabited for quite a long time by nomads of some dubious religious origin, perhaps Hussite converts left over from the recent wars.
T183, Danish Empire: The Emperor then spoke out to the assembled nobles and lords of the Empire; "We have travelled far and seen much, much that has long been shrouded in darkness. We have seen true evil and We have grappled with it in unknown places. Darkness is moving against us, against all civilization. Many men who profess the light have corrupt hearts and the worst of these traitors hide amongst the peoples of the East. Indeed, the nation of Georgia is ruled entire by the minions of the gods of darkness. Even now they threaten Holy Jerusalem with their corruption. We will not allow this to transpire. Jerusalem will be saved. Georgia must be destroyed!"
T184, Georgia: Gazan, having ascended to the blood-stained throne of Georgia, and having cast aside the darkness that had so infected his predecessors mind, laid his pride down for the good of his people and made peace with Syria, Sweden and Denmark. He considered peace with Khirgiz as well, but events in that benighted country so horrified and disgusted him that he could not countenance such an action.
T194, The Kingdom of Georgia
Prince Khusro and lord Ibrihim, after a long and dangerous journey across the Al’Nefud, came to Mecca in Medina. With them, they bore a casket of iron bands.
After ritual ablutions and cleansing of mind and spirit, they entered into the once-sacred district of the Zam-Zam and the ruined buildings that had, long ago, housed the holy of holies. There, in a crumbling brick building that had once been covered in ten thousand glittering blue tiles, they opened the casket and drew for the rough shape of a black rock.
The priests of the shrine of the Kaba gasped in surprise, then fell down before the two men from the north. Khusro turned, holding the stone above his head. His voice, husky with dust from the desert, rang off of the shattered dome.
"This we came upon in the Anvil of God. In a land without trace or track, a voice spoke out of the air, guiding us to it. It lay at the center of a perfect circle of shattered ground, fresh fallen from heaven."
Khusro paused and placed the stone in the rough-hewn cavity in the rock wall at the back of the shrine. The fit was poor, and an edge of the stone jutted out. Khusro wedged it in, cutting his finger. Heedless of the slight pain, he turned again to the priests.
"The disagreements of men long dead have divided our faith in twain," he said, "and this was not the Word of our prophet. We of the north do not desire to argue matters of faith with those of the south. This stone is a token of our faith and our gesture to you, our brothers in the Way, of reconciliation and peace."
Then all bowed before the Black Stone, restored again to its ancient and hallowed home.
Editor's Note: See T215 below for what became of the Black Stone.
T196, A Barren Land, Under A Desolate Sky
A ring of stones stabbed from the desert floor. They were weathered and ancient, hollowed and fluted by the ceaseless wind. They stood in a sheltered dell between a ridge of broken black stone and two massive sand dunes. Here, cupped in the sand, the old bones leaned crookedly in the starlight. There was no moon, on this night it did not cross the sky. A man knelt on the cold ground at the center of the brittle monoliths.
"A mayyitan ma qadirun yatabaqqa sarmadi! Fa idha yaji' al-shudhdhadh fa-l-maut qad yantahi!"
His voice, nearly broken by the guttural sound, echoed off the black stones and trickled away into the sky. A whistle made of bone – acquired recently and at great cost – lay on the gravel next to a black book with a tattered leather cover. The man, his face shrouded by a hood, raised the whistle and blew on it.
There was no sound, but the arrangement of the stars in the sky above shifted subtly. The man trembled with cold, and his breath puffed white. Within the circle, the temperature of the ground and air had plummeted. It became hard to breathe, but the man was prepared. He took a vial of glowing blue fluid from a pocket in his robe. With a quick motion, he downed the elixir. He swayed from side to side, then gripped the ground with talon-like fingers.
Something came, blotting out the stars. There was a vague perception of titanic wings and a writhing surface, then everything was darkness. The man, his breathing labored in the thin air, even with the assistance of the Yithian jelly, bent his forehead to the cracked rock of the desert floor.
Master, your will is ours.
(sounds that man is not meant to understand)
Master! Another power seeks to deny you your rightful prey! Even now, it presses at the folds of space, seeking entrance.
(more sounds that man is not meant to know)
The air shook with the things’ departure. The man, his face and eyebrows dusted with frost, squirmed on the ground, wracked by convulsions. He was blind and deaf, his mind nearly destroyed by even this brief contact.
“Yes, I have them here.” It had taken years to learn not to cry out at the sound of that voice. “There is more going on in Afriqa than we originally suspected.”
The Maga of the Sun-Haters speaks next: “Afriqa was the source of humankind; first to hear the whispers of the Architect of R'lyeh; there are secrets of Meroe and Harambeh that even <They> do not comprehend.”
The young man replies, sure of his ground: “This is more recent, by some millions of years. Our agent in Africa is concerned. He reports of an invocation to the Other Gods, probably in the Sa-hara.”
“An invocation?” This from the Green Water Sorceress.
“Yes, my lady. Our agent was quite certain; he made a transcript:
The room darkens noticeably as the words are spoken, the words first thrown into the desert night by Abd al-Hasrad, a thousand years before:
“A mayyitan ma qadirun yatabaqqa sarmadi! Fa idha yaji' al-shudhdhadh fa-l-maut qad yantahi!”
“That is not dead, which can eternal lie and with strange eons, even death may die".
The Seven glance worriedly at one another.
“The dream of the Nameless City?” The Frost Wolf shaman laughs nervously. “The powers we serve are greater than this! <They> will not be so easily swayed!”
The young man closes his eyes and sighs deeply before replying. “Do you honestly believe that <They> are the only powers with an interest in this world?”
T198, The Boreal Waste, Where Once Lomar Held Sway
“A thousand years of preparation and planning, in ruins!” The old Tlingit woman’s voice cracked like a whip in the chamber. The others, their faces marked with equal disquiet and even fear, did not respond. She moved slowly, for her blood had long ago cooled into something more suited for the Hyperborean wastes than for quick movement. Her dark eyes remained as bright as a falcon’s. She did not spare any of her companions the full weight of her anger.
“I counseled that we move more cautiously. Now we have provoked one of the Other Powers into taking a hand in this… Our purpose is close to failure.”
The eldest moved an eyebrow, which forced her into silence. He that had been of the first men sent forth his thought:
This dispute is useless. We have all felt the shifting in the earth, the change in the sky. This is not the meddling of the accursed Old Ones or the degenerate Yithians. A Great Power has entered the fray.
The others nodded, though the bald statement made them blanch with fear.
This <space | orb | breeding ground> remains inviolate, thought the first of them, slowly. It cannot have gained full entrance, or we would all have been consumed. Therefore, it has merely entered an avatar. Such a being, though past deadly, can be found and destroyed.
“Unless,” snapped the old Tlingit woman, “this power uses our own mechanisms to further it’s own purpose. The barriers are very weak. Nothing in the stars writes that the gates need be used for our ends!”
Enough! You are foolish children, frightened by the darkness that you should embrace. All timetables must be advanced.
T198, Somewhere in the Middle East...
The little Princess peered at her advisor thru lowered eyelashes. "But they were so polite about it, so...courtly. Surely they mean us no harm."
Her advisor grimaced "My Princess," he hissed, "surely you cannot be so ingenuous as that. This is a great power that we are speaking of and..."
She cut him off with an alluring yet oddly innocent smile "And yet they have never brought us to grief...as some others I could name have done."
He sighed and fingered the great ruby on his chest "Princess, the bauble is yours. I mean no disrespect, and will endeavor to carry out the mission that you request, but I can foresee only great grief and chaos as a result of this venture."
She turned away from him in a swirl of gossamer, tissue silk whispering around her bare and shapely legs. Her hands reached for the curiosity, her fingers sensuously caressed its filigreed curves. "I will miss it, it is such a fine piece. Still," and here she tossed back her ebon curls, "it is mine to give and so I choose to give it, and so it shall be given. You shall take it and make sure that none discover what you do. Do you understand? Should you fail, I fear that my Father should be very displeased, and none should wish such rancor to be visited upon his soul. Here, take it," and she thrust the item toward him, "Fail me not!"
"Yes, Your Highness," he whispered, and gripping the delicate object, he backed hastily from the room.
As the door closed the Princess turned to the iron brazier in the corner of the room. Wisps of oddly scented smoke curled up from it and created phantom patterns in the stillness of the air.
"Father," she whispered, "I have done as you saw fit. Perhaps now the way will open for the coming of the True Lord of all mankind." And with utterance the Princess closed her lambent amber eyes and sank upon her knees in an attitude of prayer. And a great and weighty silence suffused the chamber with some vast Presence...
Georgia: Rashid Ibn-Majid, who was elected from the remaining potentates and nobles of the land, spoke from the hurly-burly of the new government offices in Baghdad: “When we find who smacked us like this, we’re going to open a big ol’ can of whupass on them! You better believe it!”
T198, A Wasteland of Rock and Stone, Far From the Sight of Man: Two men, one elderly and one young, crouched at the center of an ancient crater. The skyline behind them was jagged with twisted pinnacles and tormented stone. There were a tiny mote at the center of the vast circular bowl. Above them the sky was pitch, lacking even the faint light of the moon. In this time, deep in the night, they countenanced only the cold stars to gleam down upon them. The older man held a casket of stone in his hand.
Githug agautautak, eshek lloitoir maghab yun!
The older man was speaking, but no human voice issued from his throat. The younger man, his hands steady on the casket and the knife of stone, flinched with each syllable. The sounds tore at his soul, making him faint. Blood rushed and buzzed in his ears.
Yishik lla egemention, fh’laghatan yun zherud!
The casket shuddered in their hands, nearly throwing the boy to the ground. A deep knocking sound, like stone falling on stone, echoed from the ground. The boy was sweating, though the air had grown so cold in the past instants that it froze on his skin. Frost-rime curled in his beard.
One by one, the stars overhead began to dim and go out.
Nuur’din, makhga’gan. Lloitor’zheng yun allach yaga!
On the ground, stretching in all directions, there were the broken stumps of ancient pillars. Now they groaned and quaked and the earth shifted under their feet. A flickering deep-blue light grew among the stones, casting long distorted shadows across the crater floor. The boy did not look up, his hands busy on the latches of the casket, the stone knife close at hand. The older man had stood, now, and his voice whispered and stormed with the ancient inhuman words.
Ia! Shaggutak agamman lloitor eshek yun! Ia! Fgh’than!
The boy managed to open the casket, which had been sealed for four thousand years. Light flooded out, for the interior of the box was lined with brilliant glowing crystal. Within, suspended in gossamer wires, was a dark trapezohedral lump of some indigo stone. Involuntarily, the boy screamed and blood streaked his face. A vessel in his eye had burst, spraying his face, the box and the stone with blood.
Where droplet of blood had fallen on the black stone, it began to smoke.
Ia! Nyarthotepis, allashagak nirud’in illa shetek yun!
The older man, his face convulsing as if worms writhed under his flesh, fell to his knees. One hand, trembling, reached into the box. The shining trapozohedron glittered now, glowing with its own dark light. The man grasped the stone, clutching it to his breast.
The earth shook, as if a promethean thing had set foot upon ground too weak to bear its weight. The sky rippled and convulsed, the stars going dark all of a sudden. The boy fell, mindless, to the soil. A bitter black radiance sprang from the mouth and eyes of the older man. For an instant, there was a knife-edge struggle, where unimaginable power threatened to burst forth from the fragile vessel.
But the moment passed and the darkness that lay upon the land faded and, one by one, the stars reappeared, dim and flickering in the cold desert air.
T199, Georgia: Rashid began the long arduous process of rebuilding his military forces.
Revenge would come, of this he was certain. He brought his most trusted advisors to their new home in Baghdad and began plotting. Three Isles merchants showed up in Antoich and Aleppo looking for trade meetings, and were politely escorted to the port city Tarsus in Cilicia. Trade talks began there, and plans made for future merchant activity.
T200, The Outer Dark
And something moved on the face of the darkness, tumbling, spinning, surrounded by a black haze of consorts. It spun inward, falling from the realm of the Mi-Go, hurtling towards the blaze of the demon sun.
As it passed, it began to die, bleeding vapor and ice and stone that had not seen the light of the enemy for ten thousand millennia. The fungi, disturbed, swarmed out from its surface in their thousands, bifurcated wings glittering in the pale light of the distant sun.
Ahead, barely a pinprick of light, there drifted a blue speck.
The dark messenger felt the blue mote only as a tugging sensation, almost insignificant in the face of the looming sun's massive pull. But it was enough, the azure pinprick and its tinier, weaker white cousin, to make the rushing wanderer turn a little, slide a tiny fraction toward the travelers.
The blue world proceeded on its stately pace, unaware.
In The Ruins of Dead Olathöe, Which Long Ago Fell Under the Sway of the Ice…
After dark, before midnight, Aldebaran hangs low and red in the eastern sky. In the Tower room, two stand, an older and a younger. They are both dressed in robes of pale yellow. The robes are cinched at the waist with red cord; one end of the cord is tied in eleven knots, the other in nine. They are barefoot, despite the chill.
Between them stands a full-length mirror, beside it, to the right, a pedestal; to the left a brazier and a bell. Upon the pedestal is a small bowl, of a thick liquid: oil of pomegranate, mixed with essence of myrrh and tears of sorrow. Beside this is an unlit candle.
The bell stands in its own frame, and is of deeply-toned bronze. The coals of the brazier have been treated with boric acid; the flames burn pale green, and give little heat.
The two men face Aldebaran and raise their arms, palms facing outwards, as if in supplication. Arms raised, they turn, facing each of the cardinal points in turn. At each point, the younger speaks: “Begone! Begone afar, thou of Earth!”
Now, their arms are lowered, but their palms are still slightly raised. As one, they say: “Thee we invoke, O Soul and Messenger of those Dark Ones who flap and mutter at the nethermost center of creation! Thee, whose voice brings knowledge, and whose dark wings, strength!”
There is a pause; the wind is cold, but this no longer concerns them. Again, both act as one. With their right hands they trace out in the direction of Aldebaran the Elder Sign. As each line is drawn, they intone: ny… ar… rut… ho… teb…
They bring at last their arms together, folded across their chests, left over right. The rite is opened; the telesterion is prepared. The younger now strikes the bell, three and three and four and one.
They declaim together: “O divine and inscrutable Nyarrut Hoteb, encompass me with the wings of thy strength and fill my soul with thy light, that I may securely and powerfully invoke the spirit Asturu; to the end that he shall guide us this night and each night in dream for the increase of our knowledge of the wonders and beauties of the world to come.”
The younger strikes the bell, once.
They proclaim: “O Asturu! August and lofty spirit! By my soul's quest for freedom and the deep intimations of destiny, bring me to the Lake of Hali, and open to me this night the grandeur of Carcosa.
“Thine to bestow are <gifts>. Thou dost enable thy servant to seal threefold with adamantine locks that which is to be kept secret, and thou givest the sleep in which works of Art may be performed, or learning and skill gained.
“O thou spirit of most unspeakable aspect, exalted Asturu, upon thee in the mighty name Nyarrut Hoteb do I call, that thy will and thy power bring to full accomplishment this present working.”
The older now touches the mirror with his left hand, saying: "Awaken, O Mirror, to the power of Asturu!"
There is a pause, and they both chant the long vowel: “auuu…” The younger lights the taper, and holds it ready.
Now the elder commands: "Be attentive, O Mirror, to the vibrations which I awaken. Be receptive to them, even as it is thy nature to receive the imprint of form and color. So receive as thine the sacred characters and the names of power, that thy substance may be harmonious to the astral energies of Alar that thou mayest be established in truth upon Dehme."
The elder now takes the lighted taper and traces in the air before the mirror the presigillum of the King in Yellow: .
The taper is now extinguished. The elder dips his finger in the oil, and draws upon the surface of the mirror the Yellow Sign: .
The elder commands: “Bear this mighty sigil, O Mirror, and know thyself to be the destined vehicle for the presence of Asturu, luminous spirit of the Hyades!”
The younger sounds the bell, twice and once. They raise their right hands, palm towards the mirror, and make the invocation thus: “Come into this Mirror, O luminous Asturu, spirit of the Hyades! For its vibration is in harmony with thine own, and it welcomes thee! Come, O thou spirit of most unspeakable aspect, exalted Asturu! Come into this Mirror, O august and lofty Spirit, and in the name Nyarrut Hoteb be present to our inner perception!”
Here, the presence of He-Who-Is-Not-To-Be-Named fills their perception. They cry together: "Thou art welcome, O Asturu, illustrious spirit of the Hyades! We give thee welcome in the name Nyarrut Hoteb, that name whereby increase of blessing is extended, and we charge thee in that name that thou should come to us this night as we sleep, and lead us forth, to experience the wonders and beauties of Carcosa wherein thou art mighty!
“We give thee the most potent name Nyarrut Hoteb, as a bond and token between us, O Asturu, and bear thee with us in the night.”
The brazier is extinguished, and they go to their beds, overcome with exhaustion at their successful conjury.
Him-Who-Is-Not-To-Be-Named comes on wings of night.
In dream, they sign the Book of Azathoth, their names recorded in the presence of the Daemon Sultan; to them is revealed the meaning of the Yellow Sign, and they are made to look upon the Pallid Mask. In the hour before the rising of the sun, they wake drenched with sweat despite the periarctic cold, crying aloud the final words of the Unspeakable Oath.
Georgia: Rashid was content to stay home and watch the comet cut a brilliant trail in the sky. Unlike many, his astronomers were pretty canny fellows and they told him that there was nothing to fear from this otherwise ominous sign.
There was considerable talk in the Georgian ports along the Mediterranean about a deadly pirate now plying the rich waters in the Gulf of Cyprus. This fellow was possessed of a fire-belching, steam-driven warship with armored sides. Those few survivors of the pirate’s attacks reported that the thing possesses enormous glowing eyes and is named the Ammonite. All appropriate authorities have declared that the rascal – doubtless the feckless and treacherous Von Heffen – will be brought to justice at the earliest opportunity.
Editor's note: Perhaps von Heffen was subverted by the Daemon Sultan?
The Outer Dark
Still bleeding vapor and shedding dust, rock and stone, the wanderer sped past the blue world. The pull of the swirled white and tan planet was not quite enough to draw the wanderer to a fiery death in the atmosphere, but it was enough to send the blue world through the thick dust trail that hung behind the wanderer in a black cloud.
Much of the dust was drawn down into the gravity well of the blue world, filtering into its upper atmosphere. The myriad small stones, rocks, New Canarsie-sized chunks of rock burned up in the atmosphere, further adding to the debris. All across the blue world, the sky dimmed, filled with strange flashes of light at night and a cool yellow tint by day.
Everywhere that men labored to grow grain, harvest rice, and reap the bounty of the earth, they found that the faded light stunted their crops, turned the winters even colder and afflicted the plants. It was a dark time for the men of earth…
T201, Tewfik: Though the house of Tewfik was noted for its control of the passage trade in pilgrims on haji to Mecca, Solomon was approached in late ’32 by a clutch of Fire Priests from Baluchistan. These fellows, the last remnant of the Zoroastrians, had lately gained permission from the Shah of Persia to rebuild their ancient fire-temple at Ganzak in Kurdistan. The oldest of the priests spoke with Solomon, saying:
The merchant bowed, then invited them to eat and drink. After an endless round of pleasantries and about sixteen courses, the old priests came to the point ~ the province of Kurdistan was within the realm of the Georgians (a notoriously prickly and grouchy people). Could Solomon, perhaps, intercede with the King of Georgia, gaining them permission to enter his lands and rebuild their temple?
Solomon, impressed by the piety of the Mazdists, promised to do what he could, though Rashid was no one with trifle with.
Georgia: The Georgians hung out. It was cool, baby.
A number of Libyan merchants made a nuisance of themselves in Akko, searching for an elderly scholar by the name of Ibrahim Amin. They found him, after a few wrong turns, but he did not give them quite the answers that they sought.
T202, Georgia: Rashid continued to expand his army. These were troubled times. Indeed, the very province of Georgia was now threatened by the Ice. Rashid's governor there began laying plans to evacuate the province. Otherwise, Rashid was quite busy greeting a delegation of Zoroastrian priests had made the journey up from Basra to meet with him. The King agreed to support their effort to rebuild and re-consecrate their ancient Fire Temple at Ganzak, near Nineveh in Kurdistan. Aside from allowing the faithful to journey there and begin that labor with their bare hands, the Kingdom also supplied guards for the site. "Everyone," Rashid said in an encyclical distributed to every town and city, "must stand together against the menace of the Ice and the demons of Iblis that have brought it."
The Georgians, showing support for a fellow nation, shipped off quite a lot of salted beef, sheep, rice, wheat, yams and potatoes to Java. Amid all of the fighting, chaos, riots and invasions in Lybia hardly anyone noticed that the provinces of Bithnia and Lydia (in western Asia Minor) finally revolted and rejoined their kinsmen in Georgia.
T203, Georgia: Rashid, as dapper as ever, long cloak flapping in a stiff mountain wind, stepped down from the flight deck of the Ikrima into a circle of his bodyguards. The vast bulk of the airship loomed over him and the small delegation of fire-priests that had climbed the long slope to meet him. More of the sand-colored aircraft circled over the valley, filled with cold watching eyes.
The fire-priest nodded, smiling in welcome. He seemed tired, but Rashid assumed that all of the 'old believers' were working day and night to complete their grand edifice. Across the valley, rising in steps on the side of a steep hill, a temple of marble and granite rose up, ornamented by great bas-reliefs and statues of the spirit guardians.
"Come, great lord," the old man said, bowing. "See what we have wrought with your aid."
Rashid smiled, though his guardsmen - loyal Muslims all - frowned at their king making so free with the infidels. The king was not concerned - he had larger problems to concern him - though the failure to secure certain mercenary services had forestalled one of his efforts for a little time. This temple and its eternal flame, ever burning against the darkness, intrigued him.
T204, Georgia: Rashid tired of sitting around his opulent palace in Baghdad, so he rousted out the army, executed some slaggards just for fun, and marched his spanky new regiments down to Levant, where he lolled about on the beach, practiced playing the flute and shooting apples from the heads of young girls and waited for something to happen.
Efforts by the Duchy of the Isles to send missionaries into the Levant, to Jerusalem itself, and Akko, were met by swift, severe and merciless reprisals. Hundreds of Islander monks and priests were captured as they attempted to infiltrate both cities and hung by the neck until dead. Placards were placed around their necks, saying “Blasphemer.”
This affront stirred Rashid from his relaxing vacation. After consulting with the local pasha and determining the Islanders controlled a fortress and city at the southern end of the Sinai wilderness, the Sultan ordered his army to march…
T205, Georgia: Horns sounded in the encampment of the Al’Wahat, signaling the coming dawn and the summons to prayer. Muyaia Sayyaf Adin – the emir of the tribes, once the sultan of Egypt – stepped out of his tent. He was young, his face still round with baby-fat, but the indolence of his youth had been left behind in the wreck of his father’s Egyptian dreams. The guns of the Hussites had stripped away some of his innocence.
A man was waiting in the chill darkness, a familiar lean figure. “Osman.” Muyaia nodded in greeting, taking a moment to drape the corner of his kaffieyh over his shoulder, fingertips checking for the familiar presence of saber, dagger and pistol. “Are the armies ready to ride today?”
“They are, my lord.” The Turk’s voice was harsh – more used to battlefields than palaces – but Muyayia could see his deep-set black eyes glint in the light of the lanterns. “Come, ride with me and we will look down upon the might of Allah’s army.”
Muyayia grinned with delight – the great king Rashid had recently presented him with a brace of coal-black Bactrian mares, fleet of foot, strong, ready to run for a day and day without tiring. Osman – like the Wahat – was a superb rider, and the young prince found him a gifted guide to this foreign land of hills and hidden valleys and wells surrounded by acres of plantation and farm. The deep Sahara was not such a rich domain, even with the coming of the grass and the rain.
The two men rode up into the hills around the sprawling camp, letting their horses run freely, feeling the chill snap of the night air. Soon the sun would rise and a clear, penetrating heat would fill the sky. But for now, as the east grew pink and gold and violet by turns, they rode up into the tamarisk studded hills in silence. Below them, the ranked tents of the three armies – Tuareg, Wahat and Georgia – sprawled across the flat. In the distance, the fires of heating engines pierced the gloom. Flickering, intermittent orange light played across the enormous shapes of the Sultan’s airfleet. The sound of men shouting, calling commands, the ring of metal on metal carried perfectly in the still, cold air.
The sight of the Tuareg encampment brought a frown to Muyayia’s face – he had expected better of the grizzled old chieftain Ibn Saleh – but at the same time, he understood. The prince was still young, his lands lost, his army and people reduced to flight. Rashid was a great king, powerful, with many gifts to give, lands to bestow, honor to be won in his service. Saleh was no fool, and he cast his lot with the stronger man.
“We will be a great weapon,” he muttered. “A sword to smite the infidel and win back the lands taken from us by the Romanoi.”
Osman said nothing, guiding his bay mare around an outcropping of shattered white stone. The land had turned rugged, filled with ravines and pinnacles. “Careful here, my lord,” the Turk said, pointing.
Muyaia wrenched his mind away from dreams of conquest and glory, and a new kind of fraternal order, of pious men devoted to the defense of Islam and all Muslims. The black mare shook her head, hooves moving gingerly on the rocky, talus-strewn slope. Muyayia let her pick her own way, his hands very light on the reins. The horse knows what she’s doing, his father’s voice spoke in memory, let her pay attention to her business.
Beyond the narrow path, a cup opened in the hills, filled with green trees and the smell of water and heavy, thick grass underfoot. Above, the dome of the sky was washed with porcelain-pale rose and the steadily brightening dawn filled the hidden basin with a quiet, clear light.
“A wonder!” Muyayia exclaimed, looking around in surprise.
“The world is filled with hidden things,” Osman said, a faint smile of satisfaction on his face. “A man should see beauty when he can – there is enough horror around us.”
Muyayia nodded, lost in the moment. He saw a field of flowers, buds closed, spreading away before him. A stream – perhaps even with water exposed to the open sky – wound across the slope. Dawn touched the peaks of the sheltering ridges, turning them brilliant gold, the shadows in the lee of the hill turning dark. The young prince watched, waiting for the light to creep across the flowers. Then, he knew, they would open – a sudden blaze of color in a dreary, grim land.
A sound caught his attention and Muyaia turned, eyes narrowing. He caught sight of Osman – suddenly close, horses wither to wither – and a plunging arm. A cold shock slammed through the prince’s side – there was a ripping sound – and he felt terribly weak. Choking – fluid filled his throat – he dragged at his saber, but the Turk’s hand crushed his own, pinning hand to weapon. Muyaia stared, face twisted in agony, then his face became still and pale.
The prince slid heavily from his horse, a bright crimson stain soaking through his cloak and running down his leg. Osman watched, his own face a grim mask, until the boy’s legs had stopped twitching. The flesh was cold under his blunt fingers.
“Sorry, lad.” The Turk wrapped the princes’ desert robes around him, making a simple shroud. Without discernible effort, he slung the corpse over his shoulder, then hiked down to the edge of the ravine where the stream plunged over a steep, glassy face of water-carved limestone. “Here’s tomb fit for a king,” Osman said to the air and sky, “a brave boy, his patrimony stolen, his kingdom lost to the great powers. A life cut short – but blessed, for his was a clean death, and he will dwell with his god, far from this hell we inhabit.”
The body plunged over the cliff, striking heavily on the lip of the waterfall, then bouncing down through thornbush and sage to disappear into the thicket far below. Osman turned away, attention turned to his knife, where the blood was already curdling on the watery steel.
When he returned to camp, he saw the assembled chiefs and headmen and elders of the Al’Wahat bowing before the elegant, slim figure of the sultan Rashid. They too, like Ibn Saleh, knew where victory lay.
Later, an Albanian agent attempting to establish a business concern in Akko, on the Levantine coast, was killed in a confused bar brawl. No one claimed responsibility for his death, and the Sultan’s governor declared the boy killed “by accident.”
T206, Persia: Worried by the growing popularity of Zoroastrianism in the neighboring nation of Georgia, a veritable army of mullahs, religious zealots and Hajji poured down the roads into Georgian lands, proclaiming their faith loudly and picking fights with the local police (who were not amused) and the Zoro priesthood.
Georgia: Disturbed by reports of foreigners larking about in the Levant, the Sultan ordered the fortifications of various cities improved, and commissioned several new regiments of artillery. Rashid also spent many weeks negotiating with the Tuareg chieftain Aden Amin – but to no avail. The Tuaregs were settled in the province of Mosul, which they found very pleasant and peaceful (and there was water! And trees!). Other tribesmen were settled in Palmyra and Diyala.
The imams in Baghdad and Abadan received a delegation from the Shi’a ayatollah in India, but though his words were heartfelt, they were suspicious and had long memories for many slights and insults suffered between the two arms of Mohammed’s tree of faith. Coupled with the swarms of faithful oozing across the border with Persia, everyone in Baghdad was on edge. Things were quiet and peaceful in Georgia – people should just leave well enough alone!
Poorly disguised ‘Internal Security Ministry’ troops attacked and destroyed the main mosque (of Ibn Fadlan) in Baku, Georgia in middle ‘41. Despite a fierce battle with local militia, the raiders escaped into Abasigia. The next year, an entire Swedish army corps swept out of the mountains and wrecked everything they could lay their hands on before scurrying back into Vasi.
The Sultan was annoyed by the unexpected deaths of both Osman ibn Said and old Josephus – but there were eager young lads ready to step into both men’s shoes. The news that a group of Albanians had attempted to gain the alliance of the Bedu of Sinai reached Baghdad and made the Sultan frown.
“All this and war with Sweden too…” His dark eyes glittered.
Editor's note: Rashid's dark eyes are the first clue in plain sight that he is an avatar of Nyarlathotep.
T207: Somewhere in near-Earth Space
A dispute followed, and the dark messenger was forced to admit defeat. Who could divine the thoughts of the fungi? They were beyond the byakhee’s poor skill in such things.
<rend | slaughter | consume | know> it spat in disgust. The master will not be pleased…
The Camps of the Tuaregs, Near Mosul, Early ‘43: “Since I knew my situation was dire I prayed and fasted for a week hoping Allah would give me guidance and at the end of the week he did. Two things were revealed to me. First, to build an Islamic Brotherhood and eliminate the evil which permeates Georgia. Second, he told me to beware Rashid for he does not bow to the will of Allah.
“Believing the sultan to be a good Moslem, I requested an audience with him and I told him of my vision. He said he strongly supported all things which made Islam stronger. Armed with this knowledge I prepared my tribe. I told them of the grand scheme and how the Georgians were our friends and would support us. Yet I was also wary because Allah would not have given me such a warning without reason.
“One morning Osman, Rashid’s right hand, requested I ride with him. I was very leery of this but agreed – Rashid was my benefactor – how could I refuse? We rode and it was very pleasant then just as I was beginning to feel at ease Osman plunged his dagger into my back! Like a true coward, he bundled up my body and tossed me into a deep ravine. Only by an act of Allah did I land in the pool at the bottom of the waterfall and survive. I put the cold mud of the Holy Lands on my wounds and rested for a long time.
“While I lay on that barren shore healing – slipping in and out of consciousness – two angels came down and sat with me. They told me Allah had sent them to watch over me and ensure I complete the tasks the god had laid before me.
“While they watched voices spoke from the air, telling me tales of Light and tales of Darkness. They told me how while the Ice benefited the three tribes of the Sahara they were in reality foul demons bent on the world’s destruction. They told me the world is full of such foul denizens and men themselves must destroy these powers of darkness.
“Purging not only Islamic lands but also all lands. They declared that the Ahl Al-Kitab be followed and those who follow the one true God be used as instruments and allies to achieve the goal of eliminating as much evil in the world as possible. I swore to them I was the man to lead their crusade against the darkness wherever it might lurk.
Muyaia reached into his robe and drew out a simple, worn round stone. Saleh leaned closer, raising one white eyebrow at the impeccable smoothness of the stone. In the light of the copper lanterns hanging from the roof of the tent, the egg seemed to gleam with an inner light.
“This instrument,” Muyaia said, returning the egg to his pocket, “if used properly can kill the unkillable. My reward was my life. Second, to find the daughter of a descendent of Mohamed in the Holiest City of Islam. And win her love. My reward for this? Allah granted me a son.”
Muyaia smiled, thinking of his distant family, and years of care and worry and struggle dropped away from his face.
“Last, go into Georgia and stop the Georgian King from completing construction of the temple to Ahuramadza. I have achieved two of these goals and with your help I will achieve the third. In the next few months men loyal to me will move across the desert, led the greatest Sunni general of our time, Bey Senghor.
“Even as the feyaheen reach my side, the armies of the king of kings will invade Georgia from the east. From the north the Swedes will come and from the west the Dane. All these armies will be bent on destroying Georgia and bringing an end to the reign of the idolater Rashid.
Saleh’s face had grown long during the younger man’s speech, and now he made to speak. Muyaia forestalled him, raising a quelling hand.
“Wait, old friend. You may have already received your marching orders to oppose these invasions but I respectfully request you refuse. The Zoroastrian Temple is being built by a King who claims to be a Sunni, yet the Moslems and the Frire-Worshippers have always been enemies – so I ask you why would he do such a thing?
“Rashid no longer follows the one God. He has been lured into dark pacts by I do not even fully understand and he will drag everyone down with him if he can. I respectfully request you do not travel down this path, the Persians are loyal Moslems and more powerful than the Georgians, I assure you. Your tribe with my help would benefit very greatly if you followed my lead and assisted them in their efforts against Rashid.”
Saleh stood, slowly unfolding himself from the floor. His graven old face was troubled and a thin, wrinkled hand stroked his beard. At last he said, “you have been long in the desert, cousin. You do not know of Osman’s death, or of my ascent in the favor of the great Sultan.”
The Tuareg’s eyes flickered in the lamplight.
“All these things you tell me – they are known already in Baghdad. The eyes of the Sultan see far, and pierce all veils. All things are known to him, every secret revealed.”
Saleh drew a pistol from his robes – a queer weapon of black metal. Muyaia grew very still, and his own blade and pistol seemed vanishingly far away, sitting on the table between them.
“Your frail little desert god must place his trust in men,” the Tuareg laughed in a chilling, half-mad voice. “But I serve a god himself, and his power splits the heavens! Look you outside, and you will see the stroke of his anger arc across the heavens. Soon the blow will land, the earth will shake, mountains tremble and the great kingdoms of man will be cast down!”
Muyaia moved –a flash of motion – and the tent plunged into darkness. Saleh screamed, hot oil from the lamps splashing across his face. The black pistol banged in darkness, a jet of flame casting wild shadows on the ceiling. The young Moslem was gone, one wall of the tent cloven open.
“Guards!” Saleh screamed, leaping out into the night. “Wake! Wake and find me this dog of a Sayyaf!”
Yet Muyaia escaped, though the Tuaregs hunted for him high and low, and with all the powers at their command. Messengers were dispatched to Baghdad and old Saleh – now the right hand of Rashid – knew a pure, gnawing fear. What would happen to him now he had failed?
Persia:A great number of foreigners were expected as well, but before the Danish Expedition could land, trouble broke out among the Persian generals. Within the space of a fortnight, the lords Sarai Owaiis, Bashin al'Yazdur and Ibrahim were all murdered. Their bodies were found disembowled, limbs strewn about their chambers, heads missing, entrails arranged in horrifying patterns. All three men had enjoyed a strong and vigilant guard, yet those men had heard nothing.
In the armies assembled in the cane fields and caravanserai, only one word was uttered - causing all men to fall silent and make a sign against evil - hasheshin. Further away, in the capital, minister Abu'zaid also perished under strange circumstances, though no one could rightly say the wind-spirits had done him in. Despite these poor omens, the muster continued, though now the young general Rashad found himself in command of a vast army.
Georgia:Disturbed by certain reports from his western port cities, the sultan issued an edict banning the agents, factors, representatives and emissaries of the Norsktrad company from Georgian lands and cities. Apparently the northerners had attempted to abscond with funds being transferred from the Albanians to Georgia three years previous. Reports were also received in Baghdad of a “Spanish woman” nosing about in the ancient holy places of Jerusalem.
As Saleh had claimed, the sultan had learned from diverse sources of the impending invasion of his realm. This sparked considerable ire in the black-eyed king, but he had made certain preparations for such a day.
“Those who strike against me,” Rashid proclaimed, summoning his generals to him, “test their strength against the dark stars, and the fire hiding in night.” He looked to the sky, while two coal-black leopards licked his hands and crawled at his feet. “Their doom is coming closer by the hour…”
And now read the War Against the Beast and return...
T210, Islamic Union: Muayaia’s welcome in Lebanon was a different matter. The Sultan found the countryside in the grip of a fervent religious revival. The Kharidjites – heretofore a minor sect – had erupted into prominence. In fact, not only had nearly all of the Lebanon fallen under their influence, but so had (in the course of ’49 and ’50) the neighboring regions of Aleppo, Syria, Jordan and even the Levant. This caused great strain between the cult-like (but not cultish, no) enthusiasm of the Kharidjites and the established clergy, who were often driven out of their mosques and schools for the crime (imagined or otherwise) of consorting with the Daemon Sultan Raschid.
T215, Tewfik: The deliberations of the Ulema were interrupted only weeks later when an attack was made upon the Holy Ka’ba. Men in desert robes attempted to shatter the black stone (the Meethaaq) and cast down the pieces. The guards at the site leapt to seize the men, but it was too late – the Stone had shattered into six pieces and then – to the horror of all; a noisome black cloud rolled out of the shattered artefact and the nearest guard screamed endlessly as his body was pierced by a forest of waving tendrils, each tipped with bony mouths.
The attackers squealed in fear and most fell dead on the spot. Others were driven mad and even the guardsmen (drawn from among the most devout warriors in all Islam) quailed away. The thing from the stone boiled out, slaughtering the pilgrims in the shrone. Bullets and fire failed to pierce its amorphous skin (oh, the creature had grown fat and strong in long years of worship!). Pillars toppled – fire spread through the chambers of the mosque – a black pall spread over the city.
The senior mullahs approached the scene of devastation, hearts filled with fear – all save Pir, who held the Book in his hands – and they looked upon the loathsome thing which had crawled forth from the uttermost pit, which indeed the Daemon Sultan had long ago set in the Ka’ba to tempt and sway the faithful and draw up all their piety and turn it to evil, all of those holy men save Pir fled in horror and fear, unable to face the crawling horror which was wading in the blood of the hajji.
“Peace be upon you,” Pir called out, raising his hand against the monstrous creature and reading from the Book, “O foulness, find Allah's mercy and blessings. Peace be on us and on all righteous slaves of Allah . I bear witness that no one is worthy of worship except Allah. I bear witness that Muhammad (peace be upon him ) is his slave and Messenger.
You, I cast out. You unclean thing. You I ban from the eyes of men, from the Sun, from the Earth itself!”
A light seemed to come into Pir’s face and the Book itself shone like gold. The afrit – what else could it be? – made a horrific screaming sound and the very rays of the sun pierced the dome of the temple and tore it’s immortal flesh, rendering it unto dust.
Pir stepped among the ruins and drifts of ashen corpses and found the six pieces of the Black Stone. He saw it was hollow and corrupt, filled with sickly black ooze.
“We have been deceived, as by a master deceiver.”
Pir cast the broken bits of obsidian to the four quarters.
“We deny you, lord of the pit! We need no physical thing to remind us of the old covenant! We are constant, we abide, we remember – so it shall be forever!”