The Chamber in the Hillside. Part Three

To the recipient of my two previous correspondences.

I thank you for your continued patience and open mindedness, the latter being a quality which may keep you sane in the coming days.
The final part of my story continues where it ended, with two archaeologists speeding back to a Roman dig site, ignorant of the trials before them.

I had never fired a gun before, but with Johan’s shouted instructions I became quickly familiar with loading and firing procedures. Now that we were a distance from the horror of the Shoggoth, our minds were turning over rapidly with the revelations and implications of the night. We talked fast, barely pausing for breath as we pieced together our hypothesis of the terrible history deep beneath this town.

Under Gnaeus Julius Agricola, the Romans had established a strong line of defence along the Solway and they kept their people safe from attacks from all sides. They defended conquered territory from indigenous warriors, invaders from the north, and from a different type of foe altogether. These weird beings had been forced back to the sea by the might of the Cumbrian Legions. Butchered and piled into a stone tomb, whether dead or not. It was clear to us now that the Romans had been some of histories earliest conspirators. Documented history held no accounts of these sunken enemies. These creatures of the deep had been kept from the greater awareness of Rome. Did these secrets die with the empire?

In the ages since the cavern battle the Roman Empire had fallen in England, replaced by conquerors from Europe. Dynasties of Kings and Queens warred above through ages of iron and steel and into times of technology.
Superstition gave way to science. Awareness of cultures before man became mere fairytale and then forgotten.
And during these centuries, from under the sea, the Deep Ones slowly crept back into hidden temples and renewed secret pacts with those humans weak to the promise of power.

These new generations would have no way of knowing where the Romans buried their secrets. It took a wait of nearly two thousand years and then excavations of all fort sites along the coast before secret Roman writings were unearthed. There were many eager ears waiting to overhear the findings discussed aloud by modern man in our naïve ignorance.

It was so clear to us now.
We had thought the bizarre Roman carvings were incomprehensible prayers or superstitious blessings, perhaps last rites for the corpse filled chamber that Johan fell into. The circle of words and pictograms on the chamber floor were not concerning the initial chamber, but rather what lay below it.
It was a warning, identifying the contents of a second chamber.
A many pointed star with spiralling centre?
Whatever it was, these Deep Ones and their hybrid children had supposedly been searching for generations.
That night they were going to attempt retrieval.

Johan ran the truck straight up the grass hillside and braked hard to a stop at the dig hole. As he leapt out, Johan exclaimed loudly in his native tongue, pointing down the hill and out beyond the surf. There were several grey shapes emerging from the water, growing larger as they moved to the shore. When the water depth became shallow, the heads and torsos of the approaching Deep Ones became visible.

The Finn gripped a long handled maul-axe in one hand and a genuine centurion shield across his other arm, his personal souvenir from the timeless cavern temple. He was relying on athletic prowess and blunt force to carry him through any oncoming battle.

From over the old salt-pan fields below the coast road they came, weaving through mist shrouded, wintered caravans awaiting the summer sun. There were perhaps ten of them moving purposefully and noiselessly toward the hillside excavation.
They possessed an uncanny gait, more of a loping hop than a human step. Although the night was dark, the large moon gave us clear sight of our enemy. At their sides webbed hands carried small round shields and curving short-swords.

Their appearance was humanoid but also perversely amphibian. Those narrow elongated heads now so familiar when seen in a living context. Grey-green skin and white bellied, their large unblinking eyes staring as they closed in further. We could now smell that rotting fish stench, yet still they made no sound.
When they closed to a distance of less than ten yards they slowed to almost a stop, regarding me with a singular unreadable expression.
What if they had not come for blood? Would they parley with modern man?
Should I attempt communication with the few words I had understood?

Then all at once they leapt, and were upon me.
Their barked croaking war cries were drowned out as my revolver fired again and again. Four of the creatures fell before the hammer clicked repeatedly on empty. I dropped the gun, unable to consider reloading in the face of such horror. Johan yelled as he stepped toward the flank of the group from the truck shadow, crushing a horrible skull and shattering a scaly arm.

Two Deep Ones engaged me from the front and I vainly dodged back and forth, trying to fend them off with desperate swipes of a scaffolding bar. Hearing Johan shouting in Finnish as he smashed his axe against weird armour spurred my opponents on to finish me quickly. They split apart and as I swung to catch the jaw of one, the other sent me limp to the ground with a wicked backhand shield blow to my temple.
As I faded out of consciousness I could hear more of that horrible croaking as the clash of weapons grew more intense, and I heard my name cried out in desperation by a single human voice.

It may have been an hour or only a few seconds later when I regained my senses in the shadow of the truck. My head was reeling with concussion and throbbing pain, but I was still alive. Steadying myself as I rose, I gritted my teeth and mounted the wheel arch, crawling into the back of the covered truck bed to watch the scene unfolding below.

Brave, strong Johan was being dragged screaming backwards down to the beach and the crashing surf. His face and torso were bleeding from many wounds and his wild, hysterical struggling did nothing to loosen the grip of his four captors. They dove with the grace of those born to water and pulled him under the waves, his screams cut to horrible gurgling. They did not re-surface. It shames me to hope that he died immediately, but I fear that he may not have.

Having taken me for dead, the remaining raiders swarmed down the rope ladder onto the floor of chamber one. Uttering horrible calls of exultation they surrounded the circular writings and kneeled inwards, their strange legs bending weirdly. From out of their number shuffled a cowled leader. His long robes were decorated with runes and symbols, the same I had seen covering Tom in that awful cavern beneath Netherhall. He swept a long thin arm over the Roman floor carvings and began to chant hideously, a guttural unnatural tongue that filled me with repulsion just to hear it. As the priest continued the air around the dig grew strange. I could see the floor of the first chamber beginning to alter. They meant to open the second chamber now.

I must confess at this juncture to being unsure what motivated my actions. While it is true that I had witnessed the impossible horror of the cavern temple, I still did not believe there could be anything other than dead things in this assumed second chamber. My mind was reeling after seeing so much murder. All I remember was that I was not about to let these creatures desecrate our dig. Mankind had resisted before and would again. When the Romans had originally sealed the chamber there were some of these beasts still alive inside. There would be none alive when I had finished.

From the back of the truck I hauled out the two large petrol canisters used to fuel our generator and the truck. I opened both and stuffed one of the nozzles with long streamers of ancient rags.
With a heft and a grunt I hurled the first canister down into the chamber. I could hear the strange syllables of their language, raised in surprise as they scurried towards the rope ladder. Too late. The second canister with its burning wick landed amongst them and the widening fuel spill. Suddenly amidst the alien screaming, the entire chamber became a furnace.

The burning petrol created a wall of fire that roared even higher than the lip of the first chamber. The invaders were dead. Their priest was dead. As I rolled onto my back in the truck bed I could hear the crack of the old roman stones as they were intensely heated by the wind fed blaze.
The crack of stone.
As I came to my feet wide eyed I heard the deafening crash of chamber one’s floor collapsing, and before I could react the monstrosity burst upwards from its broken cell, landing thrashing and writhing on the far side of the dig. As my eyes beheld the nature of the creature it was all I could do to bite down on my own hand and distract myself with pain, in an attempt to fend off total insanity. The thing was roughly nine feet in diameter, a nauseating sphere of lashing black tentacles with a terrible swirling alien eye that seemed to scan the moors. I could see ancient scars long since healed, evidence that its captors had managed to subdue it long enough for imprisonment. I was sure I was about to be met by its stare when the creatures attention was drawn elsewhere.

The appearance of the Starbeast brought fearful moans floating on the wind from Maryport town. Hundreds of residents, awoken by the gunfire and explosions had looked to the fort site on the hill and witnessed the emergence. I slid to the dune base and limped towards the town, given hope in the presence of numbers that we might band together against this otherworldly foe. That is when I became aware that the terrified cries from Maryport had died on the wind, drowned out by a new noise. There were sounds of joyous cheering and the exalted shouting of an alien name, in an alien tongue. I realised with horror that I was not the only one in Maryport discovering ancient, local secrets that night.

I scrambled up towards the brow of an adjacent field, away from the sea, away from the town, away from that creature. The bushes and hedges cut my skin and tore my clothes as I pushed through desperately, mud covered on all fours like some mad animal. The light emanating from the Starbeast was fading behind me and as I collapsed to gasp for air the archaeologist within me defeated my better judgement. God help me, I turned to witness the spectacle below.
The Starbeast moved slowly along the open coast road toward the town. Screams of terror and worship partially masked by the crashing surf or carried away by the sea wind now came to me louder at intervals, as the residents of the port town witnessed their oncoming fate crawl ever closer on an undulating base of writhing, snapping tentacles.

As I attempted to discern the shifting shape of this newly released prisoner of centuries and centurions long gone, my eyes kept being pulled to the chaotic vortex of light and colour emanating from the creature’s core. Such infinite new colours and described shapes, I could not look away. It was as though I was being shown a new palette of light and sound, whilst all the known shades of the human world faded into a drab irrelevance. My subconscious willed me to go to down to the road, to touch and embrace those colours, all fear fading against an uprising decadent longing in my soul.

It may have been only a few minutes later, I cannot be sure, but I found myself standing on the coast road looking towards a now eerily silent town. The eldritch being was temporarily out of sight, blocked as the road curved behind high dunes. Its hypnotic influence had been disturbed allowing me to regain my senses and blink some moisture back into sore eyes. The creature was moving away from me, and was now drawing closer to the poor souls from Maryport harbour. There was now no sound coming from the town, I could hear only the hissing of the tide to my right, and the fading horrid flapping of the undulating tentacles up ahead.

I crouched behind a grassy dune and forced my focus past the stalking horror. People were emerging now from the streets of Maryport, walking slowly and numbly toward the beach road and their fate. Both citizens and newly revealed fanatics had succumbed to the influence. It was more than I could bear to watch the outcome. I headed back up into the fields.

I skirted stealthily around the village of Croscanonby, torn between silent self preservation and raising the alarm for innocents. There I saw a green rowing-boat fashioned into a seating shelter. Here I paused. Were the residents here simply people of the sea with innocent families? Or were they actually aligned to those from under the waves? I moved past without providing warning. Whatever their fate as victims or conspirators, I abandoned them to it. I pray I made the right decision.

Travelling across country until daybreak brought me terrified and exhausted to the town of Aspatria, and onto the first train to take me far from the Cumbrian coast into the comfort of a landlocked city.

My guilt and mourning at the loss of my team and of the strange people I had killed, coupled with witnessing an aberration of nature and history, nearly sent me over the edge. Nearly, I state, not altogether. For it is not madness to seek answers to queer questions, even when all else may think the subject deranged.

I began to search for the marks of other-worlds wherever I travelled.

By delving into societies hidden from everyday man I made discoveries in obscure libraries and private collections. I heard tales from other countries of beasts found elsewhere and of cultures that worshipped them. I saw drawings and descriptions of things no sane human should view in a book called the ‘Necronomicon.’ It spoke of Gods and races beyond our history, beyond our stars and beyond our reality.
There came a time when my dreams made more sense than my waking hours and for a while I lost my focus altogether. I may have killed. The mind, dear reader, can only hold so much terrible knowledge. Some sanity will inevitably spill out when it is overfilled.

It was only the reports from Cumbria that first made me doubt my sanity, or rather the lack of reports. There was no outcry of demon monster sightings, no investigation into murdered academics and the dig site was recovered as if never touched.

A decade ago I drove to and quickly through the Maryport streets in a rented car. I observed all I could without stopping or leaving the relative safety of my vehicle, but all I saw was the appearance of a thriving coastal town, visiting tourists enjoying the sun drenched market streets and the salt spray of the harbour. Much had changed in the town’s geography; ‘The Laden Net’ and all of King Street were no more. I did not dare venture near the grounds of Netherhall, or the tower’s hidden tunnels, but I was informed that the beautiful house had been abandoned and then eventually burned down in 1979.

Sea erosion had claimed the salt-pan fields below the dig site where the Deep Ones had stalked toward Johan and I.
Interestingly enough, since that terrible night I have developed a powerful aversion to the sea. Witnessing this devouring of land by the relentless kingdom of the sea did nothing to help my Thalassophobia.

What powers had the entombed creature used on those townsfolk that night? Where were the cultists who proudly stepped out of the shadow to revere the released demon? Had they died out or was the town now deeply rooted in the ancient worship of things thought by most to be myth?
Though my sweated hands gripped the steering wheel tightly, and my eyes constantly darted about seeking unseen enemies, I actually feared little for my recognition. In truth my appearance has degenerated somewhat since my innocent and naïve first visit forty years previously, when I had arrived as someone still with some faith in man’s farcical version of science and history.
Should I return and lurk in the town to help others as the deluded old priest had helped us that night? No, I had not the courage.

An image returns to me occasionally. It may or may not simply be delusional hysteria, but it nags at me as important. I can remember looking back down into the empty fort chambers as I scrambled up toward higher fields. I swear I can envision my view into the cylindrical first chamber, empty of the thousands of warriors that fell to the blades of Rome. I could see the markings on the chamber floor, and down into the second chamber, free of its hellish prisoner.
And there on the floor of that chamber, illuminated by fallen pockets of burning fuel, I can picture more hideously carved Roman inscriptions.
Carvings denoting a third chamber below the second? Containing what? Or had this image merely bonded to me from one of my regular nightmares since?

All this I was prepared to write off. Memories that seemed more plausible and explainable as psychosis. My brain clouding the recollection of that surreal night at the Maryport dig, in an effort to rescue my mind.

That was until a month ago, and the revelations of the new archaeological find upon Mt Vesuvius, next to the destroyed old peak Monte Somma, high above Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Heralded as the one of the most exciting archaeological discoveries in history, the site has revealed a large arrangement of Roman forts preserved beautifully beneath the ash. A circle of high walled forts, surrounding a strongly fortified inner bailey which sits tight against the side of the granite pinnacle ‘Gran Cona.’
At the base of the hillside stands an enormous vault door.
With the structure unearthed fully intact, historians believe this to be the only surviving example of an Egyptian influenced Roman treasure vault, tunnelled into the granite hill. The remains discovered indicate that the units stationed here were made up of only high ranking veteran soldiers, with no evidence of family quarters.

Eager to enter the colossal vault door, none of these experts have looked past their greed and considered that the whole area may have been created not to keep people from entering, but rather to prevent things from leaving.
I have identified a mistake made in the translation of certain identifying scrolls and tablets uncovered, and on the great door itself.
Rash historians believe they have read a Latin word variant for money and wealth, although bastardised and regionalised so it appears slightly different.

They are wrong.

The Latin word for wealth has never been seen before altered for regionalisation; this is merely a linguist’s assumption to explain the unknown.
‘Reliquum’ means protected wealth, also used for treasure and ‘what remains.’
That is not the word they have read.
The word on the door is ‘R’lyeh’ Not a Roman word, but rather from a tongue far, far more ancient.
The inscription on the vault door in fact states: ‘Entrance to R’lyeh’
The under city of Cthulhu.

The entranceway fortified and protected by Rome’s best, then buried and hidden for nearly two thousand years by merciful God or Mother Nature herself, will be breached next month. AD79! The Romans battled the Deep Ones around their Empirical coasts! AD79! Vesuvius destroyed the keepers of the door! The stars are right! The time is now!
R’lyeh has risen as was written, man has unearthed his own doom!
Under the smug and arrogant cloak of ‘scientific discovery’ the modern worlds duly appointed grave robbers will find a treasure certainly, but not the one they will be expecting.

The media of the world will have eyes and ears pointed towards the news of the amazing discoveries. As the first of humanities desecrators reach the subterranean corridors of most sacred R’lyeh, mankind shall see how childlike its perceived grasp on the earth really was.
Heed my warning friend, for it is not too late for you.

Many will refuse to accept the broadcast images sent to homes thousands of miles from the Vesuvius dig. They will believe the final recorded moments of the insane, terrorized dig team to be naught but an optical illusion, a special effect or widespread warped practical joke. Communications with the island will cease.
Governments will be unable to stop either the outpouring of information to horrified citizens witnessing the blessed children of Great Cthulhu re-taking the coasts of the globe!

Madness will likely take the planet and all shall fall who are not ready for the awakening.
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn.
"In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming."

Mark well my words, learned reader, when HE rises from his eternal slumber and sends mountainous tidal waves crashing through cities, there will be a new order of things and clever people such as ourselves can lead the masses in proclaiming subservience.

Punish the unbelievers and raise new churches! Back to the old ways of worship. While others suffer eternal torment, we who proclaim his greatness as hafh'drn summoners will be given the mercy of a relatively swift death.

Hail Lord Cthulhu!
Ya na kadishtu nilgh'ri!

Beneath his terrible wings the sky will darken and the sacrifices will be heard! Shtunggli grah'nn fhhui Y'ha-nthlei vra Dagon chtenff!
Ya hai kadishtu ep r'luh-eeh Nyogtha eeh,
s'uhn-ngh athg li'hee orr'e syha'h!

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