Some people see things that others cannot. Tales of Mystery and Imagination. “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown” (H.P. Lovecraft).

August Derleth: The Seal of R’lyeh

August Derleth, The Seal of R’lyeh, Relatos de misterio, Tales of mystery, Relatos de terror, Horror stories, Short stories, Science fiction stories, Anthology of horror, Antología de terror, Anthology of mystery, Antología de misterio, Scary stories, Scary Tales, Relatos de ciencia ficción, Fiction Tales, Salomé Guadalupe Ingelmo


 MY PATERNAL GRANDFATHER, whom I never saw except in a darkened room, used to say of me to my parents, “Keep him away from the sea!” as if I had some reason to fearwater, when, in fact, I have always been drawn to it. But those born under one of thewater signs—mine is Pisces—have a natural affinity for water, so much is well known.They are said to be psychic, too, but that is another matter, perhaps. At any rate, that was my grandfather’s judgement; a strange man, whom I could not have described to save my soul—though that, in the light of day, is an ambiguity indeed! That was beforemy father was killed in an automobile accident, and afterward it was never said in vain,for my mother kept me back in the hills, well away from the sight and sound and thesmells of the sea.
But what is meant to be will be. I was in college in a mid-western city when mymother died, and the week after, my Uncle Sylvan died too, leaving everything he had to me. Him I had never seen. He was the eccentric one of the family, the queer one, theblack sheep; he was known by a variety of names, and disparaged in all of them, exceptby my grandfather, who did not speak of him at all without sighing. I was, in fact, thelast of my grandfather’s direct line; there was a great-uncle living somewhere—in Asia,I always understood, though what he did there no one seemed to know, except that ithad something to do with the sea, shipping, perhaps—and so it was only natural that Ishould inherit my Uncle Sylvan’s places.
For he had two, and both, as luck would have it, were on the sea, one in aMassachusetts town called Innsmouth, and the other isolated on the coast well abovethat town. Even after the inheritance taxes, there was enough money to make it unnecessary for me to go back to college, or to do anything I had no mind to do, and theonly thing I had a mind to do was that which had been forbidden me for these twenty-two years, to go to the sea, perhaps to buy a sailboat or a yacht or whatever I liked. But that was not quite the way it was to be. I saw the lawyer in Boston and wenton to Innsmouth. A strange town, I found it. Not friendly, though there were those whosmiled when they learned who I was, smiled with a strange, secretive air, as if theyknew something they would not say of my Uncle Sylvan. Fortunately, the place at Innsmouth was the lesser of his places; it was plain that he had not occupied it much; itwas a dreary, somber old mansion, and I discovered, much to my surprise, that it wasthe family homestead, having been built by my great-grandfather, who had been in the China trade, and lived in by my grandfather for a good share of his life, and the name of Phillips was still held in a kind of awe in that town.
No, it was the other place in which my Uncle Sylvan had spent most of his life. Hewas only fifty when he died, but he had lived much like my grandfather; he had not been seen about much, being seldom away from that darkly overgrown house which crowned a rocky bluff on the coast above Innsmouth. It was not a lovely house, not such a one as would call to the lover of beauty, but it had its own attraction, nevertheless, and I felt it at once. I thought of it as a house that belonged to the sea, for the sound of the Atlantic was always in it, and trees shut it from the land, while to the sea it was open, itswide windows looking ever east. It was not an old house, like that other—thirty years, Iwas told—though it had been built by my uncle himself on the site of a far older housethat had belonged to my great-grandfather, too.

 
It was a house of many rooms, but of them all the great central study was the only room to remember. Though all the rest of the house was of one storey, rambling awayfrom that central room, that room had the height of two storeys, and was sunken besides,with its walls covered with books and all manner of curios, particularly outré and suggestive carvings and sculptures, paintings and masks which came from many placesof the world, but especially from the Polynesias, from Aztec, Maya, and Inca country,and from ancient Indians tribes in the northwest coastal areas of the North Americancontinent—a fascinating and ever provocative collection which had originally beenbegun by my grandfather, and continued and added to by my Uncle Sylvan. A greathand-made rug, bearing a strange octopoid design, covered the center of the floor, andall the furniture in the room was set between the walls and the center of it; nothing at allstood on that rug.
There was above all else a symbolization in the decor of the house. Here and there, woven into rugs—beginning with that great round rug in the central room—intohangings, or plaques—was a design which seemed to be of a singularly perplexing seal,a round, disc-like pattern bearing on it a crude likeness of the astronomical symbol of Aquarius, the water-carrier—a likeness that might have been drawn remote ages ago,when the shape of Aquarius was not as it is today—surmounting a hauntingly indefinite suggestion of a buried city, against which, in the precise center of the disc, was imposedan indescribable figure that was at once ichthyic and saurian, simultaneously octopoidand semihuman, which, though drawn in miniature, was clearly intended to represent acolossus in someone’s imagination. Finally, in letters so fine that the eye could hardlyread them, the disc was ringed round with meaningless words in a language I could notread, though far down inside of me it seemed to strike a common chord—
Ph’ngluimglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.
That this curious design should have exercised upon me from the beginning the strongest possible attraction did not seem at all strange, though its significance did notcome to me until later. Nor could I account for the unimaginably strong pull of the sea; though I had never before set foot in this place, I had the most vivid impression of having returned home. Never, in all my years, had my parents taken me east; I had not before been east of Ohio, and the closest I had come to any substantial body of water had been in brief visits to Lake Michigan or Lake Huron. That this undeniable attractionexisted so patently I laid quite naturally to ancestral memory—had not my forebears lived by the sea, on it and beside it? For how many generations? Two of which I knew,and perhaps more before that. They had been mariners for generations, until something happened that caused my grandfather to strike far inland, and to shun the sea thereafter,and cause it to be shunned by all who came after him.
I mention this now because its meaning comes clear in all that happened afterward, which I am dedicated to setting down before I am gone to be among my own people again. The house and the sea drew me; together they were home, and gave more meaning to that word even than the haven I had shared so fondly with my doting parents only a few years before. A strange thing—and yet, stranger still, I did not think it so at the time; it seemed the most natural occurrence, and I did not question it.
Of what manner of man my Uncle Sylvan was, I had no way of knowing at once. I did find an early portrait of him, done by an amateur photographer. It was a likeness ofan unusually grave young man, surely not more than twenty, to judge by his appearance,and of an aspect which, while not exactly unattractive, was doubtless repellent to manypeople, for he had a face which suggested something more than just the humanness of him—with his somewhat flat nose, his very wide mouth, his strangely basilisk eyes.There was no more recent photograph of him, but there were people who remembered him from the years when he still walked or drove into Innsmouth to shop, as I learnedon a day I stopped into Asa Clarke’s store to buy my supplies for the week.
“Ye’re a Phillips?” asked the aged proprietor.
I admitted that I was.
“Son of Sylvan?”
“My uncle never married,” I said.
“We’ve had naught but his word for that,” he replied. “Then ye’ll be Jared’s son.How is he?”
“Dead.”The old man shook his head.
“Dead, too, eh? —the last of that generation, then. And you …”
“I’m the last of mine.”
“The Phillipses were once high and mighty hereabouts. An old family—but ye’ll know it.”
I said I did not. I had come from the midwest, and had little knowledge of my forebears.
“That so?” He gazed at me for a moment almost in disblief. “Well, the Phillipses go back about as far as the Marshes. The two were in business long ago, together. Chinatrade. Shipped from here and Boston for the Orient—Japan, China, the islands—andthey brought back—“ But here he stopped, his face paled a little, and he shrugged.“Many things. Aye, many things indeed.” He gave me a baffling look. “Ye figurin’ tostay hereabouts?”
I told him I had inherited and moved into my uncle’s place on the coast. I was nowlooking for servants to staff it.
“Ye’ll not find ’em,” he said, shaking his head. “The place is too far up the coast, and much disliked. If any more of the Phillipses were left—“He spread his handshelplessly. “But most of them died in ’28, that time of the explosions and the fire. Still,ye might find a Marsh or two who’d do for you; they’re still about. Not so many of ’emdied that night.”
With this oblique and mystifying reference I was not then concerned. My firstthought was of someone to help me at my uncle’s house.
“Marsh,” I repeated. “Can youname one and give me his address?”
“There is one,” he said thoughtfully, and then smiled, as if to himself. That was how I came to meet Ada Marsh.
She was twenty-five, but there were days when she looked much younger, andother days when she looked older. I went to her home, found her, asked her to come towork for me days. She had a car of her own, even if but an old-fashioned Model T; shecould drive up and back; and the prospect of working in what she called strangely,“Sylvan’s hiding,” seemed to appeal to her. Indeed, she seemed almost eager to come, and promised to come that day still, if I wished her to. She was not a good-looking girl,but, like my uncle, she was strangely attractive to me, however much she may have turned others away; there was a certain charm about her wide, flat-lipped mouth, andher eyes, which were undeniably cold, seemed often very warm to me. She came the following morning, and it was plain to me that she had been in thehouse before, for she walked about as if she knew it.
“You’ve been here before!” I challenged her.
“The Marshes and the Phillipses are old friends,” she said, and looked at me as if I must have known. And indeed, I felt at that moment as if I did certainly know it was justas she said.
“Old, old friends—as old, Mr. Phillips, as the earth itself is old. As old asthe water-carrier and the water.”
She too was strange. She had been here, as a guest of Uncle Sylvan, I found out, more than once. Now, without hesitation, she had come to work for me, and with such acurious simile on his lips—“as old as the water-carrier and the water” —which made meto think of the design which lay all about us, and for the first time, I now believe,thinking back upon it, implanting in me a certain feeling of uneasiness; for the secondmoment of it was but a few words away.
“Have you heard, Mr. Phillips?” she asked then.
“Heard what?” I asked.
“If you had heard, you would not need to be told.”
But her real purpose was not to come to work for me, I soon found out; it was to have access to the house, as I learned when I came back up from the beach ahead of schedule, and found her engrossed not in work, but in a systematic and detailed search of the great central room. I watched her for a while—how she moved books, leafedthrough them; how she carefully lifted the pictures on the walls, the sculptures on theshelves, looking into every place where something might be hidden. I went back and slammed the door then; so that when I walked into the study, she was at work dusting,quite as if she had never been at anything else. It was my impulse to speak, but I foresaw that it would not do to tip my hand. If she sought something, perhaps I could find it first. So I said nothing, and that evening,after she had gone, I took up where she had stopped, not knowing what to look for, butbeing able to estimate something of its size by the very fact of the places into which she had looked. Something compact, small, hardly larger than a book itself.
Could it be a book? I asked myself repeatedly that night. For, of course, I found nothing, though I sought until midnight, and gave up only when I was exhausted, satisfied that I had gone further in my search than Ada could goon the morrow, even if she had most the day. I sat down to rest in one of the overstuffed chairs ranged close to the walls in that room, and there had my first hallucination—I callit so for want of a better, more precise word. For I was far from sleep when I heard asound that like nothing so much as the susurrus of some great beast’s breathing; and,wakened in a trice, was sure that the house itself, and the rock on which it sat, and thesea lapping at the rocks below were at one in breathing, like various parts of one greatsentient being, and I felt as I had often felt when looking at the paintings of certain contemporary artists—Dale Nichols in particular—who have seen earth and thecontours of the land as representative of a great sleeping man or woman—felt as if Irested on chest or belly or forehead of a being so vast I could not comprehend its vastness.
I do not remember how long the illusion lasted. I kept thinking of Ada Marsh’squestion, “Have you heard?” Was it this she meant? For surely the house and the rockon which it stood were alive, and as restless as the sea that flowed away to the horizon to the east. I sat experiencing the illusion for a long time. Did the house actually trembleas if in respiration? I believed it did, and at the time I laid it to some flaw in its structure,and accounted in its strange movement and sounds for the reluctance of other natives towork for me. On the third day I confronted Ada in the midst of her search.
“What are you looking for, Ada?” I asked.
She measured me with the utmost candor, and decided that I had seen her thusbefore.
“Your uncle was in search of something I thought maybe he had found. I too aminterested in it. Perhaps you would be, too, if you know. You are like us—you are one of us—of the Marshes and the Phillipses before you.”
“What would it be?”
“A notebook, a diary, a journal, papers . . .” She shrugged. “Your uncle spoke verylittle of it to me, but I know. He was gone very often, long periods at a time. Where washe then? Perhaps he had reached his goal. For he never went away by road.”
“Perhaps I can find it.”
She shook her head.
“You know too little. You are like…an outsider.”
“Will you tell me?”
“No. Who speaks so to one too young to understand? No, Mr. Phillips, I will say nothing. You are not ready.”
I resented this, and I resented her. Yet I did not ask her to leave. Her attitude was aprovocation and a challenge.

II

Two days later I came upon that which Ada Marsh sought.My Uncle Sylvan’s papers were concealed in a place where Ada Marsh hadlooked first—behind a shelf of curious, occult books, but set into a secret recess there,which I happened to open only by clumsy chance. A journal of sorts, and many scrapsand sheets of paper, covered with tiny scripts in what I recognized as my uncle’s hand. I took them at once to my own room and locked myself in, as if I feared that at this hour, at dead of night, Ada Marsh might come for them. An absurd thing to do—for I not onlydid not fear her, but actually was drawn to her far more than I would have dreamed I might be when first I met her.Beyond question, the discovery of the papers represented a turning point in my existence. Say that my first twenty-two years were static, on a waiting plane; say thatthe early days at my Uncle Sylvan’s coast house were a time of suspension between that earlier plane and that which was to come; the turning point came surely with my discovery—and yes, reading—of the papers. But what was I to make of the first paragraph on which I gazed?“ Subt. Cont. shelf. Northernmost end at Inns., stretching all the way around to vic. Singapore. Orig. source off Ponape? A. suggests R. in Pacific, vic. of Ponape; E. holdsR. nr. Inns. Maj. writers suggest it in depths. Could R. occupy entire Cont. shelf fromInns. to Singapore?” That was the first. The second was even more baffling.
“C. who waits dreaming in R. is all in all, and everywhere. He is in R. at Inns. andat Ponape, he is among the islands and in the depths. How are the Deep Ones related? And where did Obad. and Cyrus make the first contact? Ponape or one of the lesserislands? And how? On land or in the water?” But my uncle’s papers were not alone in that treasure trove. There were other, even more disturbing revelations. The letter, for instance, from the Rev. Jabez Lovell Phillips to some unnamed person, dated over a century before, in which he wrote:
“On a certain day in August of 1797, Capt. Obadiah Marsh, accompanied by his First Mate Cyrus Alcott Phillips, reported their ship, the Cory, lost with all hands in the Marquesas. The Captain and his First Mate arrived in Innsmouth harbor in a rowboat, yet did not seem any the worse for weather or wear, despite having covered a distance of many thousands of miles in a craft deemed well nigh impossible of having carriedthem so far. Thereafter began in Innsmouth such a series of happenings as were to make the settlement accursed within one generation, for a strange race was born to the Marshes and the Phillipses, a blight was fallen upon their families which followed after the appearance of women—and how came they there? —who were the wives of the Captain and his First Mate, and loosed upon Innsmouth a spawn of Hell that no man hasfound it possible to put down, and against whom all the appeals to Heaven I have made to no avail.“What disports in the waters off Innsmouth in the late hours of darkness? Mermaids, say some. Faugh, what idiocy! Mermaids, indeed. What, if not the accursed spawn of the Marsh and Phillips tribes. . . .”
Of this I read no more, being curiously shaken. I turned next to my uncle’s journal,and found the last entry:
“R. is as I thought. Next time I shall see C. himself, where he lies in the depths, waiting upon the day to come forth once more.”
But there had been no next time for Uncle Sylvan—only death. There were entries before this one, many of them; clearly, my uncle wrote of matters beyond myknowledge. He wrote of Cthulhu and R’lyeh, of Hastur and Lloigor, of Shub-Niggurathand Yog-Sothoth, of the Plateau of Leng, of the Sussex Fragments and the Necronomicon, of the Marsh Drift and the Abominable Snowmen—but, most often ofall, he wrote of R’lyeh, and of Great Cthulhu—the “R.” and the “C.” of his papers—andof his abiding search for them, for my uncle, as was made plain in his own handwriting,was in search of these places or beings, I could hardly distinguish one from the other inthe way he set down his thoughts, for his notes and his journal were written for no othereyes but his own, and he alone understood them, for I had no frame of reference uponwhich to draw.
There was, too, a crude map drawn by some hand before my Uncle Sylvan’s, for itwas old and badly creased; it fascinated me, though I had no genuine understanding ofits real worth. It was a rough map of the world—but not of that world I knew or hadlearned about in my studies; rather of a world that existed only in the imagination ofhim who had made the map. For deep in the heart of Asia, for instance, the mapmakerhad fixed the “Pl. Leng,” and above this, near what ought to have been Mongolia,“Kadath in the Cold Waste,” which was specified as “in space-time continua;coterminous,” and in the sea about the Polynesians, he had indicated the “Marsh drift,”which, I gathered, was a break in the ocean floor. Devil Reef off Innsmouth wasindicated, too, and so was Ponape—these were recognizable; but the majority of place-names on that fabulous map were utterly alien to me.I hid the things I had found where I was sure Ada Marsh would not think oflooking for them, and I returned, late though the hour was, to the central room. And there I sought out, as if by instinct, unerringly, the shelf behind which the things I hadfound had been concealed. There were some of the things mentioned in Uncle Sylvan’snotes—the Sussex Fragments, the Pnakotic Manuscripts, the Cultes des Goules, by theComte d’Erlette, the Book of Eibon, Von Junzt’s Unausprechlichen Kulten, and manyothers. But alas! Most of them were in Latin or Greek, which I could not read well,however ably I could struggle through French or German. Yet I found enough in thosepages to fill me with wonder and terror, with horror and a strangely exhilaratingexcitement, as if I had realized that my Uncle Sylvan had bequeathed me not only hishouse and property, but his quest and the lore of aeons before the time of man.
For I sat reading until the morning sun invaded the room and paled the lamps I hadlit—reading about the Great Old Ones, who were first among the universes, and the Elder Gods, who fought and vanquished the rebellious Ancient Ones—who were GreatCthulhu, the water-dweller; Hastur, who reposed at the Lake of Hali in the Hyades;Yog-Sothoth, the All-in-One and One-in-All; Ithaqua, the Wind-Walker; Lloigor, theStar-Treader; Cthugha, who abides in fire; great Azathoth—all of whom had beenvanquished and exiled to outer spaces against the coming of another day in far time yetto come, when they could rise with their followers and once again vanquish the races of mankind and challenge the Elder Gods; of their minions—the Deep Ones of the seasand the water places on Earth, the Dholes, the Abominable Snowmen of Tibet and thehidden Plateau of Leng, the Shantaks, who flew from Kadath in the Cold Waste at the bidding of the Wind-Walker, the Wendigo, cousin of Ithaqua; of their rivalries, one andyet divided. I read all this and more—damnably more: the collection of newspaper clippings of inexplicable happenings, accounted for by Uncle Sylvan as evidence of the truth in which he believed. And in the pages of these books was more of the curious language I had found woven into the decorations of my uncle’s house—Ph’ngluimglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn—which was translated, I read in more thanone of these accounts, as: “In his house at R’lyeh, dead Cthulhu lies dreaming . . .”
And my uncle’s quest was surely nothing more than to find R’lyeh, the sunkensubaqueous place of Cthulhu!
In the cold light of day, I challenged my own conclusions. Could my Uncle Sylvanhave believed in such a panoply of myths? Or was his pursuit merely the quest of a mansteeped in idleness? My uncle’s library consisted of many books, ranging through the world’s literature; yet one considerable section of his shelving was given over completely to books on occult subjects, books of strange beliefs and even stranger facts, inexplicable to science, books on little-known religious cults; and these were supplemented by huge scrapbooks of clippings from newspapers and magazines, reading which filled me at one and the same time with a sense of premonitory dread anda flame of compulsive joy. For in these prosaically reported facts there lay oddly convincing evidence to augment belief in the myth-pattern to which my uncle hadpatently subscribed. After all, the pattern in itself was not new. All religious beliefs, all myth-patterns, in no matter what systems of culture, are basically familiar—they are predicated upon astruggle between forces of good and forces of evil. This pattern was part, too, of my uncle’s mythos—the Great Old Ones and the Elder Gods, who may, for all I could figure out, have been the same, represented primal good; the Ancient Ones, primal evil. As in many cultures, the Elder Gods were not often named; the Ancient Ones were, andoften, for they were still worshipped and served by followers throughout earth andamong the planetary spaces; and they were aligned not only against the Elder Gods, but also against one another in a ceaseless struggle for ultimate dominion. They were, inbrief, representations of elemental forces, and each had his element—Cthulhu of water,Cthugha of fire, Ithaqua of air, Hastur of interplanetary spaces; and others among thembelonged to great primal forces—Shub-Niggurath, the Messenger of the Gods, offertility; Yog-Sothoth, of the time-space continua, Azathoth—in a sense the fountain-head of evil.
Was this pattern after all not familiar? The Elder Gods could so easily have become the Christian Trinity; the Ancient Ones could for most believers have beenaltered into Sathanus and Beelzebub, Mephistofeles and Azarael. Except that they wereco-existent, which disturbed me, though I knew that systems of belief constantly overlapped in the history of mankind. More—there was certain evidence to show that the Cthulhu myth-pattern had existed not only long before the Christian mythos, but also before that of ancient Chinaand the dawn of mankind, surviving unchanged in remote areas of the earth—among the Tcho-Tcho people of Tibet, and the Abominable Snowmen of the high plateaus of Asia, and a strange sea-dwelling people known as the Deep Ones, who were amphibian hybrids, bred of ancient matings between humanoids and batrachia, mutant developments of the race of man—; surviving with recognizable facets in newerreligious symbols—in Quetzalcoatl and others among the Gods of Aztec, Mayan, and Inca religions; in the idols of Easter Island; in the ceremonial masks of the Polynesiansand the Northwest Coast Indians, where the tentacle and octopoid shape which were themarks of Cthulhu persisted;—so that in a sense it might be said that the Cthulhu mythos was primal.
Even putting all this into the realm of theory and speculation, I was left with thetremendous amounts of clippings which my uncle had collected. These prosaic newspaper accounts served perhaps more effectively in giving pause to any doubt I might have had because all were so palpably reportorial, for none of my uncle’s clippings derived from any sensational source, all came straight from news columns ormagazines offering factual material only, like the National Geographic. So that I was left asking myself certain searching questions.What did happen to Johansen and the ship Emma if not what he himself set forth? Was any other explanation possible? And why did the U. S. Government send destroyers and submarines to depth-bomb the ocean about Devil Reef outside the harbor of Innsmouth? And arrest scores of Innsmouth people who were never afterward seen again? And fire the coastal area, destroying scores of others? Why—if it were not true that strange rites were being observed by Innsmouth people who bore a hellish relationship to certain sea-dwellers seen by night at Devil Reef? And what happened to Wilmarth in the mountain country of Vermont, when hecame too close to the truth in his research into the cults of the Ancient Ones? And to certain writers of what purported to be fiction—Lovecraft, Howard, Barlow—and what purported to be science—like Fort—when they came too close to the truth? Dead, all of them. Dead or missing, like Wilmarth. Dead before their time, most of them, while still comparatively young men. My uncle had their books—though only Lovecraft and Forthad been extensively published in book form—and they were opened by me and read,with greater perturbation that ever, for the fictions of H. P. Lovecraft had, it seemed tome, the same relation to truth as the facts, so inexplicable to science, reported by Charles Fort. If fiction, Lovecraft’s tales were damnably bound to fact—even dismissing Fort’s facts, the fact inherent in the myths of mankind; they were quasi-myths themselves, as was the untimely fate of their author, whose early death had already given rise to a score of legends, from among which prosaic fact was ever moreand more difficult to discover. But there was time for me to delve into the secrets of my uncle’s books, to read further into his notes. So much was clear—he had belief enough to have begun a searchfor sunken R’lyeh, the city or the kingdom—one could not be sure which it was, or whether indeed it ringed half the earth from the coast of Massachusetts in the Atlantic tothe Polynesian Islands on the Pacific—to which Cthulhu had been banished, dead andyet not dead,—“Dead Cthulhu lies dreaming!”—as it read in more than one account, waiting, biding his time to rise and rebel again, to strike once more for dominion againstthe rule of the Elder Gods, for a world and universes of his own persuasion—for is it not true that if evil triumphs, then evil becomes the law of life, and it is good that must befought, the rule of the majority establishing the norm, and other than that beingabnormal, or, by the way of mankind, the bad, the abhorrent?
My uncle had sought R’lyeh, and he had written disturbingly of how he had done so. He had gone down into the Atlantic’s depths, from his home here on the coast, gone down off Devil’s Reef and beyond. But there was no mention of how he had done so. By diving equipment? Bathysphere? Of these I had found no evidence whatsoever at thehouse. It was on these explorations that he had gone during those periods when he had been so long missing from the house on the coast. And yet there had been no mention of any kind of craft, either, nor had my uncle left any such thing in his estate. If R’lyeh was the object of my uncle’s search, what then was Ada Marsh’s? This remained to be seen, and to the end of discovering it, I allowed some of my uncle’s least informative notes to lie on the library table on the following day. I managed to watchher when she came upon them, and I was left in no doubt, by her reaction, that this wasthe object of her search—the cache I had found. She had known of these papers. Buthow? I confronted her. Even before I had a chance to speak, she spoke.
“You found them!” she cried.
“How did you know about them?”
“I knew what he was doing.”
“The search?”She nodded.“You can’t believe,” I protested.
“How can you be so stupid?” she cried angrily.
“Did your parents tell you nothing? Your grandfather? How could you have been raised in darkness?”
She came close to me, thrust the papers in her hand at me, and demanded, “Let me see the rest of them.”
I shook my head.
“Please! They are of no use to you.”
“We shall see.”
“Tell me, then—he had begun the search?”
“Yes. But I do not know how. There is neither a diver’s suit nor a boat.”
At this she favored me with a glance which was a challenging mingling of pity and contempt.
“You have not even read all he had written! You haven’t read the books—nothing.Do you know what you’re standing on?”
“This rug?” I asked wonderingly.
“No, no—the design, the pattern. It’s everywhere. Don’t you know why? Becauseit is the great seal of R’lyeh! So much at least he discovered years ago, and was proud toemblazon it here. You stand on what you seek! Look further and find his ring.”

III

After Ada Marsh left that day, I turned once more to my uncle’s papers. I did not leave them until long past midnight, but by that time I had gone through most of them cursorily, and some of them with the closest attention. I found it difficult to believe what I read, yet clearly my Uncle Sylvan had not only believed it, but seemed actually to have taken some part in it himself. He had dedicated himself early in life to the searchfor the sunken kingdom, he professed openly a devotion to Cthulhu, and, most suggestive of all, his writings contained many times chilling hints of enounters—sometimes in the ocean’s depths, sometimes in the streets of legend-haunted Arkham, an ancient, gambrel-roofed town which lay inland from Innsmouth, not far from the coast along the Miskatonic River, or in nearby Dunwich, or even Innsmouth—withmen—or beings which were not men—I could hardly tell which—who believed as hedid and were bound in the same dark bondage to this resurgent myth from the distantpast. And yet, despite my iconoclasm, there was, too, an edge of belief I could not diminish. Perhaps it was because of the strange insinuations in the notes—the half-statements, which were meant only for reference to his own knowledge, and thus never clear, for he referred to something he knew too well to set down—the insinuations about the unhallowed marriages of Obadiah Marsh and “three others”—could there have beena Phillips among them?—and the subsequent discovery of photographs of the Marshwomen, Obadiah’s widow—a curiously flat-faced woman, very dark of skin, with awide, thin-lipped mouth—and the younger Marshes, all of whom resembled their mother—together with odd references to their curious hopping gait, so much acharacteristic of “those who descended from those who came back alone from the sinking of the Cory,” as Uncle Sylvan put it. What he meant to say was unmistakable—Obadiah Marsh had married in Ponape a woman who was not a Polynesian, yet lived there, and belonged to a sea-race which was only semi-human, and his children and hischildren’s children had borne the stigmata of that marriage, which had in turn led to the holocaust visited upon Innsmouth in 1928, and to the destruction of so many membersof the old Innsmouth families. Though my uncle wrote in the most casual manner, there was a horror behind his words, and the echo of disaster rolled out from behind thesentences and paragraphs of his writing.
For these of whom he wrote were allied to the Deep Ones; like them, they wereamphibious creatures. Of how far the accursed taint went, he did not speculate, nor wasthere ever wordto settle his own status in relation to them. Captain Obadiah Marsh—presumably also Cyrus Phillips, and two others of the Cory’s crew who had remained behind in Ponape—certainly shared none of the curious traits of their wives and children; but whether the taint went beyond their children, none could say. Was it this Ada Marsh had meant when she had said to me, “You are one of us!”? Or had shereference to some even darker secret? Presumably my grandfather’s abhorrence of thesea was due to his knowledge of his father’s deeds; he, at least, has successfully resisted the dark heritage. But my uncle’s papers were on the one hand too diffuse to make a coherent statement, and on the other too plain to enlist immediate belief. What disturbed meimmediately most of all were the repeated hints that his home, this home, was a “haven,” a “point” of contact, an “opening to that which lies below”; and the speculations about the “breathing” of the house and the rocky bluff which were so often to be found in the early pages of his notes, and to which no reference whatsoever was made later on. What he had set down was baffling and challenging, fearsome andwonderful; it filled me with awe and at one and the same time an angry disbelief and awild wish to believe, to know.
I sought everywhere to find out, but was only baffled the more. People in Innsmouth were close-mouthed; some of them actually shunned me—crossed the street at my approach, and in the Italian district frankly crossed themselves as if to ward offthe evil eye. No one offered any information, and even at the public library I could obtain no books or records which might help, for these, the librarian told me, had been confiscated and destroyed by government men after the fire and explosions of 1928. I sought in other places—I learned even darker secrets at Arkham and Dunwich, and in the great library of Miskatonic University found at last the fountainhead of all books ofdark lore: the half-fabled Necronomicon of the mad Arab, Abdul Alhazred, which I was allowed to read only under the watchful eye of a librarian’s assistant. It was then, two weeks after my discovery of my uncle’s papers, that I found hisring. This was where one would least have expected to find it, and yet where it wasbound to be—in a small packet of his personal belongings returned to the house by the undertaker and left unwrapped in his bureau drawer. The ring was of silver, a massive thing, inlaid with a milky stone which resembled pearl, but was not, and inlaid with the seal of R’lyeh.
I examined it closely. There was nothing extraordinary about it, save its size—tolook upon; the wearing of it, however, carried with it unimaginable results. For I had no sooner put it on my finger than it was as if new dimensions opened up to me—or as ifthe old horizons were pushed back limitlessly. All my senses were made more acute.The very first thing I noticed was my awareness of the susurrus of the house and therock, now one with the sea’s slow movement; so that it was as if the house and the rockwere rising and falling with the movement of the water, and it seemed as if I heard from below the house itself the rushing and retreating of water. At the same time, and perhaps even more importantly, I was aware of a psychica wakening. With the assumption of the ring, I became cognizant of the pressure ofunseen forces, potent beyond the telling, as were this house the focal point of influences beyond my comprehension; I stood, in short, as were I a magnet to draw elemental forces from all about me, and these rushed in upon me with such impress that I felt likean island in the midst of the sea, with a raging hurricane centered upon it, a tempestuous tearing at me until I heard almost with relief the very real sound of a horrible, animal-like voice rising in a ghastly ululation—not from above or beside me, but from below!
I tore the ring from my finger, and at once all subsided. The house and the rockreturned to quiet and solitude; the winds and the waters which had moved all about mefaded and died away; the voice I had heard retreated and was still; the extrasensory perception I had experienced was ended, and once more all seemed to lie waiting upon my further act. So my dead uncle’s ring was a talisman and a ring of wizardry; it wasthe key to his knowledge and the door to other realms of being. It was by means of the ring that I discovered my Uncle’s way to the sea. I had longsought the path by which he went to the beach, but there was none sufficiently worn to suggest its constant use. There were paths down the rocky declivity; in some places steps had been cut long ago, so that a man could reach the water from the house on the promontory, but there was nowhere a place that might have been used for landing craft.The shore here was deep; I swam in the waters there several times, always with a wildsense of exultation, so great was my pleasure in the sea; but there were many rocks, and such beach as there was lay away from the promontory, around the coves, either to north or south, almost too great a distance to swim, unless one were a very capable swimmer, such as I learned—somewhat to my surprise—that I was. I had meant to ask Ada Marsh about the ring. It was she who had told me of its existence, but ever since that day I had refused her access to my Uncle’s papers, she hadstopped coming to the house. True, I had seen her lurking about from time to time, or spied her car parked along the road which led past my property rather far to the west ofthe house, and so knew that she prowled the vicinity. Once I had gone into Innsmouth to look for her, but she was not at her home, and my inquiries brought me only open hostility from most of the populace, and sly, meaningful glances I could not correctly interpret from others—those shambling, half-derelict people who lived along the coast streets and by ways.
So it was not due to her help that I found my uncle’s way to the sea. I had put on the ring one day, and, drawn to the sea, was bent on climbing down to the water’s edge, when I found myself, while in the act of crossing the great central room of the house, virtually unable to leave it, so strong was its pull upon the ring. I ceased to try, presently, recognizing that a psychic force was manifest, and simply stood, waiting for guidance; so that, when I was impelled toward a singularly repellent work of carved wood, aprimitive piece representing some hideous batrachian hybrid, affixed to a pedestal alongone wall of the study, I yielded to impulse, went over to it, seized hold of it, and pushed, pulled, and finally turned it right and left. It gave to the left. Instantly there was a creaking of chains, a clanking of gears, and the entire sectionof the study floor covered by the rug bearing the seal of R’lyeh came up like a greattrap-door. I went wonderingly over to it, my pulse quickening with excitement. And I looked down into the pit below—a great, yawning depth, into the darkness of which acontinuing spiral of steps had been hewn out of the solid rock upon which the house stood. Did it lead to water below? I selected a book at random from my uncle’s set of Dumas and dropped it; then I stood listening for any sound from below. It came at last:a splash—distantly.
So, with the utmost caution, I crept down the interminable stairs, down into thesmell of the sea—small wonder I had felt that the sea was in the house!—down into the dank coolness of a watery place, until I could feel the moisture on the walls and the steps underfoot, down into the sound of restless water below, the sloshing and rushingof the sea, until I came to where the stairs ended, at the very edge of the water, in a kind of cavern that was large enough to have held the entire house in which my Uncle Sylvanhad lived. And I knew beyond cavil that this was my uncle’s way to the sea, this and noother; though I was as mystified as ever to find even here no evidence of boat or divinggear, but only footprints—and, seen in the light of the matches I struck, somethingmore—the long, slithered marks and the blobs where some monstrous entity had rested,marks which made me to think with prickling scalp and goose-fleshed skin of some of those hideous representations brought to the great room above me by my Uncle Sylvanand others before him from the mysterious islands of Polynesia.
How long I stood there, I do not know. For there, at the water’s edge, with the ringbearing the seal of R’lyeh on my finger, I heard from the depths of the water below sounds of movement and life, coming from a great distance indeed, from outward, which is to say, from the direction of the sea, and from below, so that I suspected the existence of some sort of passage to the sea, either immediately at hand, by means of a subaqueous cavern, or below this level, for the cavern in which I stood was ringedaround, so far as I could see in the wan glow of the matches I lit, with solid rock, and the movement of the water indicated the movement of the sea, which could not have been coincidental. So the opening was outward, and I must find it without delay. I climbed back up the stairs, closed the opening once more, and hurried to my carfor a journey to Boston. I returned late that night with a diving helmet and a portable oxygen tank, ready to descend next day into the sea below the house. I removed the ring no more, and that night I dreamed great dreams of ancient lore, of cities on distant starsand magnificent spired settlements in far, fabulous places of the earth—in the unknown Antarctic, high in mountainous Tibet, far beneath the surface of the sea; I dreamed that I moved among great dwellings in wonder and beauty, amidst others of my kind, and among aliens as friends, aliens whose very aspect might, in waking hours, have congealed the blood in my veins, all here in this nocturnal world given to one cause, the service to those great ones whose minions we were; dreamed through the night of otherworlds, other realms of being; of new sensations and incredible, tentacled beings commanding our obedience and worship; dreamed so that I woke next morning exhausted and yet exhilarated, as if in the night I had actually experienced my dreamsand yet remained charged with unimaginable strength for greater ordeals to come.
But I was on the threshold of a greater discovery.
Late the next afternoon, I donned my swimming trunks, affixed a pair of flippers to my feet, put on the helmet and oxygen tanks, and descended to the water’s edge below the house. Even now I find it difficult to write of what befell me without wonderand incredulity. I lowered myself cautiously into that water, feeling for bottom, and,finding it, walked outward toward the sea, at the bottom of a cavern many times the height of a man, walked outward until suddenly I came to its end, and there, without warning, I stepped off into space, and fell slowly through the water toward the oceanfloor, a grey world of rocks and sand and aquatic growth that wove and writhed eerily in the dim light which penetrated that depth. Here I was sharply conscious of the water’s pressure, and beginning to wonder,too, about the weight of the helmet and oxygen tank when the time came for me to riseagain. Perhaps the need of finding some place by means of which to walk out on to the shore would preclude any further search; yet, even as I thought this, I was impelled ever outward, walking away from the shore and bearing south, out from Innsmouth. It dawned upon me with horrifying suddenness that I was being drawn as by amagnet, even against my better judgment, for the oxygen in my tanks would not lastlong, and would need to be replenished before I could hope to return, if I went very far out from the shore line. Yet I was helpless to prevent myself from going seaward; it was as if some power beyond my control were drawing me away from the shore, outward and down, for the land beneath the sea there sloped gently downward, in a direction southeast of the house on the rock; in this direction I went steadily now, without pause, even though I was aware of a growing panic—I must turn about, must begin to find my way back. To swim up to the cave would require almost superhuman effort, despite the lightening pressure of the depths to start me on my way; to reach the foot of the stairs in the pit below the house, at a time when my oxygen was surely all but gone, would bealmost impossible, if I did not turn without delay.
Yet something there was would not permit me to turn. I moved ever onward, outward, as if by a design imposed upon me by a power greater than my own. I had no alternative, I must go ahead, and all the while my alarm grew, I found myself in violent conflict between what I wished to do and what I must do, and the oxygen in my tanks diminished with every step. Several times I vaulted upward swimming vigorously; but,while there was no difficulty about swimming—indeed, I seemed to swim with almost miraculous ease—always I came back to the ocean floor, or found myself swimming outward. Once I paused and looked about me, trying in vain to pierce the ocean’s depths. I thought I imagined a great pale green fish swimming in my wake, and had the illusionthat it was a mermaid, for I seemed to see hair streaming from it; but then it was lost again behind the growths of that aquatic deep. But I could not pause for long; I wasdrawn ever forward, until at last I knew that my oxygen was almost gone, my breathing became more and more labored, and I struggled to swim to the surface, only to find myself falling from the place to which I had vaulted upward, falling into a crevice onthe ocean’s floor.Then, only a few moments before I lost consciousness, I was aware of the swift approach of my follower, of hands upon my helmet and the oxygen tanks—it was not a fish at all, nor a mermaid: it was the naked body of Ada Marsh I had seen, with her longhair streaming out behind her, swimming with the ease and facility of a natural denizenof the deep!

IV

What followed upon this almost dreamlike vision was most incredible of all. I felt in my declining consciousness, rather than saw, that Ada took the helmet and oxygen tanks from me and dropped them into the depths below, and then, slowly, awareness returned; I found myself swimming, with Ada guiding me with her strong, capable fingers, not back, not up, but still outward. And I found myself swimming as ably as she, and, like herself, opening and closing my mouth as were I breathing through the water—and so I was! What ancestral gift I had unwittingly possessed now opened up before me all the vast wonders of the sea—I could breathe without surfacing, an amphibian born! Ada flashed ahead of me, and I followed. I was swift, but she was swifter. Nomore the slow walk across the ocean’s floor, now only the propulsion of arms and legs that were seemingly made for the water, and the surging, triumphant joy of swimming so, without constraint, toward some goal I knew dimly I was meant to reach. Ada led the way, and I followed, while above us, beyond the water, the sun sank westward, and the day ended, the last light withdrew down the west, and the sickle moon shone in the afterglow.
And at this hour we drove upward toward the surface, following a line of jaggedrock which marked the wall of shore or island, I could not tell which, and broke waterfar from the shore at a place where a shelf of land jutted out of the sea, from which it was possible to see to the west the twinkling lights of a town, a harbor city, seeing which, and looking back to where Ada Marsh and I sat in the moonlight, with boatsmoving shadowily between us and the shore, and between us and the line of the horizonto the east, I knew where we were—on that same Devil Reef off Innsmouth, the placewhere once before, prior to that catastrophic night in 1928, our ancestors had played and disported themselves among their brethren from the ocean’s depths.
“How could you have failed to know?” asked Ada patiently. “You might havedied with all that to suffocate you. If I had not come to the house when I did. . . .”
“I had no way of knowing,” I said.
“How else did you think you uncle went exploring, but like this?”
My Uncle Sylvan’s quest was hers, too, and now it was mine. To look for the sealof R’lyeh, and beyond, to discover the sleeper in the depths, the dreamer whose call I had felt and answered—great Cthulhu. It was not off Innsmouth, of that Ada was confident. And to prove it, she led the way down into the depths once more, far down off Devil Reef and showed me the great megalithic stone structures lying in ruin there as a result of the depth-bombing of 1928, the place where many years before the early Marshes and Phillipses had continued their contact with the Deep Ones, down to swim among the ruins of that once great city, where I saw the first of them and was filled with horror at the sight—the frog-like caricature of a human being, that swam with greatly exaggerated movements so similar to those of a frog, and watched us with bulging eyesand batrachian mouth, boldly, not fearful, recognizing us as his brethren from outside, down through the monoliths to the ocean floor once more. The destruction there was very great. Even so had other places been destroyed by little bands of wilfull mendedicated to preventing the return of great Cthulhu.
And so up again, and back to the house on the rock, where Ada had left her clothes, and to make that compact which bound us each to each, and to plan for the journey to Ponape and the further search. Within two weeks we were off to Ponape in a chartered craft, off on that mission of which we dared breathe no word to the ship’s crew, for fear they would think us madand desert. We were confident that out quest would be successful, that somewhere in the uncharted islands of the Polynesias we would find that which we sought, and, finding it, go to join forever our brethren of the seas who serve and wait upon the day of the resurrection, when Cthulhu and Hastur and Lloigor and Yog-Sothoth shall rise againand vanquish the Elder Gods in that titanic struggle which must come. We made Ponape our headquarters. Sometimes we set out from there; sometimes we used the craft we had chartered, oblivious of the curiosity of the crew. We searched the waters; sometimes we were gone for days. And soon my metamorphosis was complete. I dare not tell how we sustained ourselves in those journeys under the sea, of what manner of food we ate. Once there was a crash of a great air liner . . . but of this, no more. Suffice it to say that we survived, and I found myself doing things I would have thought bestial only a year ago, that nothing but the urgence of our quest impelledus on, and nothing other concerned us—only our survival, and the goal we held ever before our eyes.
How shall I write of what we saw and still retain even a shred of confidence and trust? The great cities of the ocean floor, and the greatest of them all, the most ancient, off the coast from Ponape, where the Deep Ones abounded, and we could move for days among the towers and the great slabs of stone, down among the minarets and domes ofthat sunken city, almost lost among the aquatic forest-growth of the bottom of the sea, seeing how the Deep Ones lived, befriending and befriended by a curious marine life which was octopoid in general appearance, and yet was not octopoid, fighting sharksand other enemies, even as we were forced to do from time to time, living only to serve him whose call can be heard in the depths, though none knows where he lies dreaming against the time of his coming again. How shall I write of our ceaseless search, from city to city, from building to building, looking always for the great seal, beneath which He may lie, save as anendless round of days and nights, sustained by hope and the driving urgence of the goal which loomed always ahead, a little closer every day? It seldom varied, and yet was always different. None could tell what each new day would bring. True, our chartered craft was not always a boon, for we were required to leave it by boat, and in turn, once our boat would be concealed along some island shore, to go into the depths surreptitiously, which displeased us. Even so, the crew grew daily more inquisitive, confident that we sought hidden treasure, and likely to demand a share, so that it was difficult avoiding their questions and their ever increasing suspicions.
We sought thus for three months, and then, two days ago, we put down anchor off a strange, uninhabited island far from any major settlement. Nothing grew upon it, and it had the appearance of blasted area. Indeed, it seemed to be but an upthrusting of basaltic rock, which at one time must have loomed high above the water, but which had been bombarded severely, possibly during the past war. Here we left our craft, went round the island, and descended into the sea. There, too, was a city of the Deep Ones,and it, too, had been blasted and ruined by enemy action. But, though the city below the black island was in ruins, it was not deserted, and itstretched away on all sides into untouched areas. And there, in one of the oldest of the huge, monolithic buildings, we found that which we sought—in the center of a vastroom, many storeys in height, lay a great stone slab which was the source of that likeness I had first seen and failed to recognize in the decorations of my uncle’shouse—the Seal of R’lyeh! And, standing upon it, we could hear from beneath it,movement as of some vast amorphous body, restless as the sea, stirring in dream—andwe knew we had come to the goal we sought, and could now enter upon an eternity ofservice to Him Who Will Rise Again, the dweller in the deep, the sleeper in the depths, whose dreams encompass not only earth but the dominion of all the universes, and whoshall need such as Ada Marsh and I to minister to his wants until the time of his secondcoming.We are still here as I write, and I set this down should we fail to return to our craft. The hour is late, and tomorrow we shall descend again, to find some way, if possible, to open the seal. Was it indeed imposed upon Great Cthulhu by the Elder Gods inbanishing him? And dare we then to pry it up, to go below, into the presence of Him Who Lies Dreaming there? Ada and I—and soon there will be another of us, born in his natural element, to wait and serve Great Cthulhu. For we have heard the call, we have obeyed, and we are not alone. There are others who come from every corner of the earth, spawn too of that mating between men and the women of the sea, and soon the seas will belong to us, and thereafter all earth, and beyond . . . and we shall live in power and glory forever.

Extract from the Singapore Times, November 7, 1947.
The crew of the ship Rogers Clark were freed today after being held in connection with the strange disappearance of Mr. and Mrs. Marius Phillips, who had chartered the vessel to conduct some kind of research among the Polynesias. Mr. and Mrs. Phillips were last seen in the vicinity of an uninhabited island approximately South Latitude 47° 53′, West Longitude 127° 37′. They had gone out in a small boat and evidently entered the island from the shore opposite the ship. From the island they would seem to have gone into the sea, for the crew testified to witnessing a singularly astonishing upheaval of the water on the far side of the island, and the ship’s captain, together with the first mate, who were on the bridge, saw what appeared to be both his employers tossed aloft in the geyser of water and drawn back down again into the sea. They did not reappear, though the ship stood by for several hours. An examination of the island disclosed that the clothes worn by Mr. and Mrs. Phillips were in their small boat. A manuscript in Mr. Phillips’ hand, purporting to be fact, but obviously fiction, was found in his cabin, and turned in to the Singapore police by Captain Morton. No trace of Mr. and Mrs. Phillips has been found. . . .

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