Summary of Lin Carter's Xothic Cycle Stories
by Tani Jantsang
We have permission to put this excellent synopsis on our site. We wish to put this here because it deals with the Yuggs.
Recently, the writings of Lin Carter (at the time of writing this he was recently deceased) have been criticized. Some of the critique comes because Carter diverged on tangents of speculation and quotations of other works, instead of simply and directly telling what he had to say as a story or drama. People read these tales and didn't have a clue what they were about. Other critique comes due to other issues not relevant to his fiction.
The Cthulhu Mythos Xothic stories are easy enough to grasp if you previously read a collection of the tales by Lovecraft and August Derleth, especially Hazel Heald's Out of the Eons, and August Derleth's Trail of Cthulhu The Xothic Cycle of Lin Carter, a spin off of a tale, Out of the Eons, by (Lovecraft and) Hazel Heald, is not easy to grasp without a lot of previous reading. In my opinion, this is a flaw - Lin's stories can't stand alone, and what actual drama takes place in all of these tales combined can be put into one short story.
Yet, with careful reading, a wonderful myth cycle comes forth,.especially when combined with Fritz Leiber's Terror From the Depths, wonderful enough to inspire me to write a novel and slightly incorporate my own originally non-mythos creatures into the Mythos (1)
Before retelling the stories as one story, let me first state that, while I come from a specific standpoint when it comes to writing a mythos story, I'm not biased or fanatical about how others write. I do not hate August Derleth or his tales. Derleth got Carter started on the Mythos Road. I think Derleth's tales are great fun and feel that fiction is for purposes of entertainment. However, I do not use the concepts of August Derleth (elemental Old Ones and their foes, the Elder Gods, a dualistic good/evil system) or Lin Carter (Old Ones, their wives and children, Elder Gods and dualism to the point of being inversionist Christian in some places, eg, his Demon Trinity, Cthulhu's three sons). I completely reject these ideas. I stick to the concepts of H. P. Lovecraft or broaden them if Lovecraft himself didn't invent the creatures he used, and I also invent my own creatures. I invented the Yuggya but neither Carter nor I invented Ubb or variations of that word.(2)
The following is a retelling of the main Xothic Cycle stories that Lin wrote. This can be read as a short story or drama. I present it here for his former friends and foes.
I'm sure many fanzine short tales have since been written as take-offs on this, however the few stories I've seen, thus far, show a lack of knowledge about the biology of these hypothetical creatures and a lack of care in taking it "more seriously," as HPL tended to do when meticulously detailing, say, the race of Yith or Mi-Go.
XOTHIC STORY (3)
Professor Harold Hadley Copeland published a work, in 1911, that lead to an in-general persecution of his ideas and of his person. He was a distinguished expert in the field of Pacific archaeology who had previously written excellent works. Now he believed in Mu. As such, he slowly suffered a loss of career and reputation.
In 1913, Prof. Copeland went on an expedition in the Tsang Plateau region of Central Asia with hopes of locating the Zanthu Tablets in the tomb of a person named Zanthu. He read about Zanthu and about Mu in the Ponape Scripture.
The expedition was lost with all its members dead.
In the dunes beyond the Russian Meteorological Outpost at Kovortny on the border of the Chian Province of Mongolia, Prof. Copeland was found near death and raving. When he recovered he privately printed a brochure, in 1916, claiming it to be a fragmentary translation of the Zanthu Tablets. His translation shocked everyone and varied with accepted ideas about Pacific Civilizations. One might find this statement odd since Prof. Copeland did not go to the Pacific Islands for the Zanthu Tablets; he went to Central Asia. (Why did Prof. Copeland's writings shock everyone, including the press? I don't know. Back then, Darwin shocked everyone. I mention this to put the "shock and awe" in the context of the times and what was considered acceptable.)
Up to this time, also, no real account of what happened on that expedition was put forth until Dr. Henry Stephenson Blaine, the curator of the Manuscripts Collection of the Sanbourne Institute of Pacific Antiquities in Santiago, California uncovered Prof. Copeland's own journal. Dr. Blaine did this in 1928, two years after Prof. Copeland died in a mental institution in San Francisco. Blaine also looked over other artifacts left to the Institute by the Copeland Bequest, including Copeland's journal.
Copeland's Journal: (expedition, 1913)
Sept. 22: 31 days out of Sangup-Koy. 15 more miles traveled with no water. Weak from lingering fever. Ellington (one of the members of expedition) dead, native bearers uneasy and troublesome, murmuring about tomb-guarding dugpas, afraid to travel after sundown. Took soil samples expecting to find fossilized life such as rudimentary fish, mollusks, dating from Silurian or Ordovician times, but no fossils found. Freezing cold, howling winds. Fears wolves, but Champo Yaa, head bearer, claims no wolves around.
Sept. 23: Travels more, difficult going, air desiccated. Spots 11th landmark of the tomb of Zanthu. Rambles in journal against the smug academics who mocked him. Writes he'll dedicate his work to Captain Abner Ezekiel Hoag (he discovered the Ponape Scripture in 1734 which his half-breed Polynesian/Deep One manservant, Yogash, translated from Naacal to English). Rambles he might even dedicate his work to Imash-Mo of Mu. He is also having nightmares and is getting over a fever.
Sept. 24: Travels more. Someone in party slashed water containers. Bearers more unruly. Rambles on about others in whose steps he feels he is walking (famous men). Wants to out-do them all. Fever still lingering, nightmares still bothering him, hallucinations (whilst awake) of vast, inhumanly angled, cyclopean masonry. Natives see this "hallucination" too. Fears either desertion from bearers or mutiny. Sleeps with gun.
Sept. 28 or 29: 5 more bearers desert at night. The ones remaining claim the others were dragged away. He doesn't believe them. He does notice claw-like marks but thinks the natives are playing games. More hallucinations, more talk from natives of dugpas guarding tombs. Native sees something, drops his load and screams, "Mi-go, Mi-go." Native refuses to go on until Copeland holds a gun on him. (Mi-go are abominable snowmen, or similar.)
Oct. 1: Finds that land is more ancient than was thought, possibly pre-Cambrian, one of the oldest portions of land continuously above the waves. Suffering from thirst, hunger and cold. Only 5 bearers left, Champo Yaa deserted or disappeared. No water for 11 days, drinking blood from camels instead. He views the barren land and feels he has seen it before, as if it is a memory.
Oct. 3 or 4: Hunger, thirst, same. Rambles about other discoverers, rambles about mythology. Recalls how reading Ponape Scripture changed his entire life making the finding of Zanthu's tomb an obsession and making him a believer in Mu and other such mythology. Still having nightmares.
Later (undated): He lost much weight but the snow quenches his thirst. Rambles now about Necronomicon, Abdul Alhazred, gateways, Leng, Tcho-Tchos, Shantaks, and other notions. Still feels he has seen all of this before.
Later (undated): Blind battle in snow, bearers dead or run away. Hears ululation. Gets gun and flashlight to see bearers battling snow-covered shapes that look anthropoid and wrapped in furs. Writes that these shapes have no faces but feels they saw him. One bearer torn limb from limb. Shape comes toward Copeland paying no attention to the gun. When light shines on Copeland's face the shapes turn and run (waddle), squealing in panic. Copeland wonders why they'd be afraid of him.
2 days later: He is now alone and in the mountains with his supplies. He has two more encounters with the huge ape-like white things which flee blundering and squealing from the sight of him. He shoots one and has to drink its blood. More hallucinations, continuous not sporadic.
Later (undated): Is near location of Zanthu's tomb. He curses the day he read the Ponape Scripture. Rambles about Things Outside, gateways, portals to the Beyond, and etc. Food gone, he is chewing on leather straps of his sledge.
Much later (undated): He finds a necropolis in a mountain-walled valley. He wonders what it was that Zanthu did that caused his name to be so cursed in the Ponape Scripture. He finds the tomb, recognizes the glyphs of Zanthu's name. He opens the tomb and finds 10 black jade tablets narrowly incised with rows of tiny characters in Naacal. The mummified hands of Zanthu clutch the tablets. Copeland shines the light down on the mummy and recognizes the face: his own. Zanthu's face is Copeland's own face. He is horrified.
Who was Zanthu and what did Zanthu do on Mu that resulted in his name being cursed through the ages (from the Tablets):
Zanthu was a priest of Ythogtha about 160 thousand years ago on Mu. Ghatanothoa and its priests ruled the land of Mu and petrified into stone (like Medusa does in standard mythology) anyone considered an enemy. Even the worship of Cthulhu was in decline.
Long ago (from Our of the Eons by Hazel Heald) on Mu, T'yog, a priest of Shub-Niggurath, tried to defeat Ghatanothoa with the help of the Serpent Race and Yig. He failed and was petrified. Ghatanothoa won.
Zanthu decided to get the help of the Yuggs and the assistance of their leader/progenitor, Ubb, to raise up Ythogtha and thereby defeat Ghatanothoa.
This he did but, when Ythogtha was only a tiny bit exposed, Something came down from outer space, from Glyu-Vho, and sunk Mu in its entirety. Zanthu and some of his people fled in "vidya vahans," ancient sky-chariots, and went to a place near the Hidden Gates of Shamballah (Central Asia) as they watched the destruction of Mu.
Dr. Henry Stephenson Blaine also looked over the artifacts left to the Institute by the Copeland Bequest. He didn't know Prof. Copeland, but knew of him and of his rapid decline in all ways academic and physical.
The artifacts contained many Polynesian items: tapa cloth with pentacle motif; Fisherman's God; tentacled, cone-shaped deity; Medusa-like idols with tentacles instead of hair; items from all over the Pacific with notes written by Copeland showing various native names or titles of the idols: Z'otomogo, Zatamagwa, Sothamogha, Zatamaga, Z'mog, Zhmog-yaa, Hommogah, and god of ocean deeps. Next to all this Copeland wrote: "Cthulhu? Zoth-Ommog?" One item was not typical of Pacific art: a jade image, unidentified, found by native diver off Ponape in 1909, inscription on base is not in Naacal, Tsath-yo or R'lyehian. Copeland wrote that this was definitely Zoth-Ommog.
Dr. Blaine's attention was immediately arrested by this one piece called "The Ponape Figurine." The figure, including its base, stood 19 inches and was worked and polished jade of an unfamiliar type. It was greasy gray-white, flecked or mottled with irregular spots of deep dark green and was extremely dense and heavy. The image was not just non-humanoid, but was also non-objective. The figure depicted the body of a creature shaped like a broad-based, truncated cone; a flat, blunt, wedge-shaped, vaguely reptilian head surmounted the conical torso and the head was almost entirely hidden behind swirling tresses. This hair (or beard and mane) consisted of thickly-carved and coiling ropes, like serpents or worms, and the workmanship was so uncannily naturalistic that Dr. Blaine could almost swear the slithering tendrils were in motion. Through this repulsive Medusa-mane of ropy tendrils, two fierce, serpent-like eyes glared in a horrible mingling of both cold inhuman mockery and gloating menace. Rising from overlapping folds at the base of the image's neck were four bluntly-tapering limbs or appendages rising from the torso, flat and resembling the arms of a common star-fish but with the undersides of these arms having row upon row of disc-like suckers. The base itself was oddly angled as if the sculptor used non-Euclidean geometry. Deeply and cleanly cut into one side of the base were two complex hieroglyphs in an unknown language: not Chinese, Egyptian, Arabic, Sanskrit or Mesopotamian, and not even anything resembling any Pacific writing. There was an icy, alien menace to it.
Dr. Blaine keenly felt an almost psychic warning of actual physical danger when he thought about the figurine. He put the figurine aside atop his filing cabinet and turned back to Copeland's manuscripts: news clippings, letters and notes including phonetic spellings of native names for the idol and speculations about languages that Dr. Blaine never heard of and which were not listed anywhere as languages. It seemed that Copeland had no success in translating the glyphs on the Figurine. The letters were to and from various universities inquiring about passages in books such as the Necronomicon and Unaussprechlichen Kulten, all of it mythological in content.
Dr. Blaine could make nothing of this mumbo-jumbo and so he put this aside, however, he continuously felt as if eyes were upon him, yet he was alone in his room.
He went home, felt strange and uneasy and did not know why. He tried to read a book and couldn't concentrate on it. He took out his briefcase and looked over more items about, what Copeland called, the "Xothic Cycle" - a mythology concerning these deities and Mu and including Cthulhu. He made no sense of it. The best he could make of it was that some exceedingly early myth pattern was known all over the world, or so some writers claimed and Copeland had believed. Some of it was reminiscent of Churchward's Mu fantasy, some of it sounded like the Osiris and Isis story, and some of it sounded like the African Dogon story of Sirius (Sothis).
Dr. Blaine worked on this for the next three months. Most of the clippings were about missing men at sea, strange attacks by Kanakas, unknown islands being discovered. One clipping was heavily marked by Copeland telling a story of natives caught in a thick fog off their island and then attacked by monstrous sea-slugs, swollen to fantastic proportions, which slithered into the boats and dragged the natives off in their mouths. In the margin of this news clipping, Copeland wrote the word "YUGGYA," and referred to a Zanthu Tablet: The Yuggya serve Ythogtha and Zoth-Ommog; Ubb, Father of Worms, leader and progenitor of the dreaded Yuggya; Burrowers Beneath; Yuggs (sometimes the name appeared as Yugg, other times as Yuggya - if Carter knew more about what my invented Yuggya were, he'd not have confused the two).
Dr. Blaine was sick of this lunacy, disgusted by it. He also didn't like the fascination this crazy mythology had for him and he had been sleeping badly, having nightmares that left him weak and shaken at dawn. Dr. Blaine wanted to forget about poor Copeland and his slithering horde of worm-like worshipers and turn his mind to healthier subjects. Then he found himself staring directly into the carved glare of the Figurine's eyes.
Previous to this eye-to-eye contact with the Figurine, Dr. Blaine's manuscript was neatly written and in order. Now this came to an end. Dr. Blaine wrote of his dreams:
Dream 1: Terrifying, the first dream he can remember enough to write down. Dim moonlit vistas of stone city, cyclopean architecture, titanic stone blocks graven with sprawling and monstrous glyphs, immense pylons, flagstone-paven squares, ziggurats or angular pyramids with smoky flames like altar fires. Hooded and robed shapes around the upmost tiers of one colossal pyramid and the sound of rhythmic chanting. Woke up dripping with cold sweat and the urge to write down the chant heard in dream: "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn."
Dream 2: Returned to stone city. Vision of queer, squat, robed and hooded celebrants worshiping at some awful Rite. Moon is high and its shining face unmarked by the many craters on it today. He wonders, in his dream, if this is pre-Cambrian. Some flying Thing flashes across the sight of the moon, ribbed membranous wings, elongated beak or proboscis, a pteranodon of the remote Pleistocene.
Dream 3 or 4: He is in an immense building of stone, blocks 60 or 70 feet on a side. Colossal hall, lined with huge columns, pillars covered with ideographs in unknown, surely-not-human language. He approaches the great altar which is rayed like a starfish, hollowed and scooped out in the center. It is filled with red fluid - blood. He sees a vast bass-relief cut on the wall behind the altar and recognizes the likeness of the Figurine, but 10 thousand times more huge and incredibly detailed. He thinks it was done from a living model. He awakens screaming, throat raw. Housekeeper asks if he is alright. He feels that these dreams can not be originating from his mind, but are put there by another.
Dream 4 or 3: He is approaching a great temple on the summit of an immense height. It is night and an evil moon leers down through coiling mists. People are all around him as he ascends the height. They are weeping, kneeling, huddled and they are not quite completely human: they are squat, hunched, anthropoid, they have body hair and look vaguely Asiatic with lemon-yellow skin and slanted black eyes, prognathous jaws and heavy brow-ridges. Perhaps 4 million years ago? The worshipers are striving to avert some threatened doom or punishment. The ground shudders beneath his heel and thunder growls in the mist-veiled sky. A line of black mountains on the horizon bursts into flames, one by one. A range of volcanoes alit in sequence like a row of candles ignited by an unseen hand. The people around him are moaning a litany: "Idh-yaa; Ythogtha; Cthulhu; Nug..." A crevice opens in the earth at his feet, deep and black. It fills rapidly with gurgling slime and the hunched and moaning worshipers shrink back in nameless dread from the immense, wet, glistening, white, pulpy, worm-like..... Unable to take more, he forces himself awake.
Dream 5: He is descending through graduated levels of green light which grows steadily more dim as if he is sinking or being drawn down into the depths of the ocean. The sensation of cold wet darkness presses on him, stifling, oppressive. Then he is floating above a mounded plain of slick black mud drowned in green-black gloom. Little is visible. Now he approaches a truly immense crater or chasm in the ocean floor and glides over the lip and descends for a long time. The crater is miles deep and the last vestiges of emerald light fade into utter abyssal blackness. When he reaches the floor he can see: the oily ooze covering the crater floor is phosphorescent. Now he nears a huge mound in the center of the crater - a structure of some kind but not the work of human hands. It is the Temple from his dream, the house of Zoth-Ommog. He sees a sickening light and calls to Christ in his dream. The light blazes from the Elder Sign on the Door (a pentacle). He doesn't want to touch it and remove it and release what is locked inside behind the pentacle. He wakes up.
Dream 6 or 7: He tries using a drug to sleep without dreams, but to no avail. He has had the same dream seven nights in a row. In the dream he is standing in his night clothes on the beach at Wexton Pier on the outskirts of Santiago shivering cold but brimming with a weird and terrible exaltation. Clenched in his hands is a sheet of something written, something he searched for in the Copeland Papers: the Invocation of the Yuggya, a copy of the Yuggya Chants that Copeland bought from a Lascar sailor on the San Francisco waterfront (or so Copeland stated in his notes). He is going to read it aloud. He wrenches himself awake and promises to burn the Chants.
Dream 7 or 6: He tries sleeping without the drug since the after effects of it left him lax and lacking in will (which means he never burned the Chants). He is gradually half-awake in his dream and Someone is whispering to him in a soft, guttural, seductive voice and has been whispering for a long time before he wrenches himself half-awake. Suddenly he awakens completely and finds himself trembling before a wide-open window incoherently repeating, "No! No! I will not do it!" He notices that the window is really open. He had closed and locked it before going to sleep. There is also slime or jelly smeared all over the window-sill like slime from a snail-track - a very large snail-track.
Dream 8: He is now sleep-walking. His housekeeper found him walking in his sleep seven times. She once found him walking out in the street towards the waterfront: towards the Pier.
He wants to burn the invocation but has not done so yet. He wonders why he didn't tell another person all he knew.
Again, in dream, the voice whispers things to him for hours as he lies there half-conscious: luring things, alien suggestions, secrets of hidden knowledge. The Yuggya can disembody his thought-lattice (they tell him) and set him free in time and space. He will not be the agent of the Old Ones nor burden his soul with the massive guilt of the slaughter of this planet which would follow if he did their bidding and loosed Zoth-Ommog. He tries to pray the Christian Lord's Prayer.
On the night of August 3rd (1928), a Santiago police car saw Blaine in white pajamas standing knee-deep in the surf near Wexton Pier reading a letter by the light of a match. Approaching him, the police shined their flash in his face. He was asleep but the light woke him and he realized where he was and what he was doing. Paying no attention to the police, he set the paper on fire with the match and threw it into the water. In the same instant, the police shined their flash on the black waters and glimpsed something enormous, round and slick, and white, but not remotely suggestive of a human body.
At that moment, the wild-eyed Dr. Blaine, who saw what was in the water clearer than the police did, staggered back with a horrible wailing screech that the police described as that of a damned soul. The police waded out to him and Blaine fell on his knees clapping both hands over his face screaming, "God! God! Horrible - I have seen a Yugg! A Yugg! Jesus - God - a Yugg! God - Ia! Zoth-Ommog! cf'ayak ghaaa yrrl'th tho-Yuggya! Yaaaaaa-n'gh..." He was so shaken with spasms of trembling that he could not stand. He had to be carried to the patrol car. He babbled with desperate urgency to the police that he was going mad, get to Hodgkins at the Institute, destroy the jade figurine, smash it, kill it. Then he collapsed.
He was admitted to Mercy Hospital Psychiatric Ward and has been there two months now. He spoke not one single word save for the syllable: "Yugg. Yugg-yugg!" He had to be kept under restraint for his own protection as he tried to blind himself 11 times.
The doctor in charge, Robinson Dambler, sent the manuscript dealing with the worm-things Dr. Blaine called "Yuggs" on to Blaine's assistant, Mr. Hodgkins.
Arthur Wilcox Hodgkins, Dr. Blaine's Assistant, knew that Dr. Blaine had been suffering some kind of strain and had become very nervous when Hodgkins looked at, or inquired about the work he had been doing with the Copeland Bequest. When asked what was wrong, Blaine would remark that he was sleeping badly.
When, on August 4, 1928, Blaine was admitted to the hospital in a state of shock resembling catatonia and then in early October committed to Dunhill Sanatorium, Hodgkins was shocked and horrified and took over his duties. Dr. Harrington J. Colby, a specialist in nervous disorders, was treating Blaine and by mid-January Blaine responded favorably to treatment.
By March 1, 1929, Blaine was able to speak coherently again and was lucid for periods of time. On March 3, Hodgkins visited Blaine at the Sanatorium. Blaine inquired about the Figurine and learned it was not yet on display to the public. He warned that it must be destroyed, mankind is in danger, and other statements that one might expect a person in a psychiatric ward to utter. He told Hodgkins to read the notes, files, papers and books that pertained to Copeland and this mythology.
Hodgkins did this and got a basic idea of the mythology. Some of the information seemed a mish-mash of various mythologies. The excerpts from books such as Cultes des Goules and De Vermis Mysteriis were no better.
He felt sleepy after reading this. He didn't dream well. In the dream was a persistent face he kept seeing that he knew he had seen before: on the Ponape Figurine.
The next day at work, he looked the Figurine over. He found Blaine's description of it exact and also felt a definite unease whilst looking at it.
He next read more of the notes from De Vermis Mysteriis, Cultes des Goules and Revelations of Glaaki. As he made notes he had the distinct impression of being watched. The skin crept at the nape of his neck and a paralysis of fear seized him. He turned around suddenly and looked into the cold, carved eyes of the Figurine: Zoth-Ommog. He laughed this off but he could have sworn that when he put the image down earlier, it had been facing the other way.
For awhile, then, he returned to his own duties. Later, when hearing that the Institute planned to publicly display the Figurine, he felt uneasy. He could not justify this feeling unless he admitted that he believed the mythology. Though convinced the mythology was nonsense, he argued against displaying the Figurine. In the interim he made efforts to get more complete copies of reference books mentioned by Copeland.
He located a copy of the Necronomicon at Miskatonic University in Arkham, Mass. and took a train to go there - and to meet Dr. Henry Armitage. On the train trip, he took Unaussprechlichen Kulten of von Junzt. This book proved to be a rambling of inconsistent nonsense, which made references to other ancient books and cults. Some of it read like Western versions of Hindu deity family trees written by people who had no concept of what the Hindu Ideas were about; some of it read like something from a U.F.O. magazine; and some of it read like the writings of paranoid racists depicting other sorts of people as monstrosities. Portions even read like the Christian version of angelic rebellion written as if by a modern-day Star-Trek fan. Jumbled with this were portions of mythology about Hyperborea and other ancient lands. Whatever the case, the author, von Junzt, never heard any of it directly from Adepts, and cultists are known to pull people's legs to keep their secrets and secret doings from public eyes.
He finally arrived at Miskatonic and met Dr. Armitage and Dr. Seneca Lapham. From them he got the Necronomicon. This book was not nearly as far-fetched as the others but parts of it read like the monkish writings of medieval Christians, abysmally ignorant of all things of nature.
Finally he got to talk to Drs. Armitage and Lapham and also met a younger man, Mr. Winfield Phillips, Lapham's assistant. They explained to him that, far from an ancient mythology told to scholars incorrectly or written by mad cultists, there was a terrible reality behind all of this that was either deliberately couched in these myths, or just unknown to the writers who knew nothing of science or technology. Exactly how much truth was behind the mythology is unknown. They told Hodgkins that it helps to conceive of these beings as extraterrestrial creatures, former inhabitants of other planets or star-systems, who came here and brought their alien technology with them. Whatever the nature and extent of their "powers" - there is nothing super-natural about it. There is nothing divine or infernal about them. They are simply alien and their nature is natural to them - albeit unknown to us. They concluded many things based on the facts they did know from hard experience: they are not composed of the same kind of matter as we are; they probably share few if any of our senses; their life spans could be measured by our own geological epochs; they probably can't be destroyed or the race they fought with, the "Elder Gods," would have done so (would they have?). They showed Hodgkins a pentacle shaped stone, the "Mnar Stone" (also known as the Sign of Kish and the Sigil of Sarnath) and showed him that there is a kind of radiation that emanates from the stones: harmless to man, harmful to at least the lesser Old Ones and their minions.
Hodgkins touched the stone and felt a slight tingle. They gave him one of the Mnar stones.
The next day, over lunch, Lapham told him to merely place it near the Figurine to negate its harmful influences. Armitage demurred and thought that the stone must be employed in some manner of ritual. Winfield Phillips offered nothing as he was devoted to enjoying his lunch.
As such, Mnar stone in hand, Hodgkins set off to get back to California and the Figurine. He saw a news item announcing the Figurine's display and realized he'd have to go there at night before the public could see the idol the next day. He got to the Institute and let himself in. He headed for the display. He thought of calling out to Emilliano Gonzalez, the night watchman, but then decided against it.
Then he became aware of feeling fear; by some other sense he felt an uncanny and malignant force awake and alive in the museum. Then, face to face with the display, he saw the dead body of the night watchman face down in a pool of blood: the back of his head crushed. The figurine stood atop a pedestal facing him. It was alive, alive and sentient, impossible to describe, and around it was a strange radiating force making the air around it waver as heat makes a road seem to waver.
Then he saw that which was kneeling in front of the Figurine, that which killed Gonzalez and now groveled in abasement in front of Zoth-Ommog. First, it looked like an ordinary man, a Polynesian or Mongoloid, perhaps half-breed. He had greasy, copper skin, a bloated, chinless face, goggling mud-colored eyes, a flattened slit of a nose and was bundled in a suit of cheap clothing such as merchant seamen buy in waterfront pawnshops. His head was wrapped in a piece of dark greenish cloth like a turban and his hands were covered with mittens. There was an abnormality about his crouching posture, in the bulging of his body beneath the baggy suit, in the toad-like, sagging corpulence of his slumped form which raised the hairs on Hodgkins's neck. He smelled of salt-water and nameless decay. He slithered about, froglike eyes glaring into Hodgkins's eyes. He then pulled out a gun and came to his feet in an indescribable, boneless wriggle and pointed the gun at Hodgkins. As he did this, the turban came loose and Hodgkins saw that the man had no ears. Hodgkins pulled out the Mnar stone and, at its sight, the man cried a glutinous, gobbling sound, inhuman, and flung his arms out to protect the Figurine.
Hodgkins threw the stone; it hit the Figurine and both vanished, vanished in a soundless glare of light, light that burned blackly as if a negation of luminance; the air sucked inward by the matter slapped against itself; fiery lightning lanced from the vortex of nothingness where the Figurine once was. Lightning struck everything, fire zig-zagged, windows broke, it struck the gun and the man and crawled over his bloated form. He writhed with a liquidity of motion so undulant and boneless as to drive a thrill through Hodgkins's brain. Then he sagged on the floor. He did not fall, he slumped like a mass of jelly losing shape and form.
Hodgkins tried to run but went into a kind of shock. He woke up in a bed in a hospital. He was accused of murdering Gonzalez but there was no trace of any other man except a large pool or puddle of a jellylike fluid, nature unknown. Jellylike fluid evaporated by the time others arrived on the scene. Hodgkins was committed to the Dunhill Sanatorium.
Winfield Phillips, Dr. Lapham's assistant, inherited the estate of his uncle Hiram Stokely in Durham Beach in Santiago County, California. Hiram was cast out of the family for practicing strange things.
Whilst in California, Winfield took up again with his favorite cousin, Brian Winfield. The field outside of Hiram's house was known as Hubble's Field and, years prior, murders were committed there; the place had a bad name. Amerinds called it E-choc-tah - the Place of the Worms.
Whilst investigating Uncle Hiram's affairs, the two men discovered that Professor Copeland obtained the Yuggya Chants from Uncle Hiram, that Hubble's Field was Ubb's Field and that Hiram's fortune came to him from having served the Yuggs.
On finding Hiram's secret room, Brian goes to investigate with youthful curiosity. Something as fast as a cat, hardly long enough to be seen clearly, takes Brian.
Thereafter, Winfield Phillips hears the Yugg's siren call, luring him with promises and telling him that he already made the Red Offering: Brian. It doesn't matter to the Yuggs that their taking Brian was not deliberate on Winfield's part. They lure and tempt and they finally get a loyal servant. All he has to do is feed them. (Do they want him to release Zoth-Ommog? I don't know. The actual motives of the Yuggs wanting this kind of food is not clarified.)
Parker Winfield, whose grandfather (a Winfield) was in the South Seas trade, left Parker the same sort of artifacts that Copeland had. Along with these was another figurine, one of Ythogtha.
Ythogtha's figure was hewn from jadeite, about 11 inches tall, and depicted a bipedal monstrosity whose hind legs resembled those of a batrachian, with forelimbs uplifted almost as if in menace; sucker-tipped, webbed hands extended towards the viewer. The head was a seething mass of pseudopods or tentacles amidst which a single glaring eye could be discerned. Symbols carven on this idol's base were in a language long vanished. The Zanthu Tablets identified this as the Abomination in the Abyss, imprisoned in Yhe. Yhe and R'lyeh are close or even near-into each other along dimensions not numbered among the three we know.
Parker Winfield experienced the same kinds of dreams and upsets as the people previously mentioned experienced with Zoth-Ommog's statue.
He goes to the occult specialist Anton Zarnak for help at the suggestion of Muriel Vanvelt. Zarnak hears the story and gets the statue from Parker.
One night, in the midst of one of Parker's dreams, Zarnak puts the Elder Sign Mnar Stone next to the statue of Ythogtha. As Zarnak does this, Parker's dream comes to an abrupt end with the entire scene vanishing in a flash of golden light. On Zarnak's end, the idol of Ythogtha vanishes.
End of the synopsis of main Xothic Cycle stories.
A few comments in passing:
There was never a need to clutter up the drama being told with a mention of every single event that happened in "mythos history," and thereby drop the names of characters appearing in other people's mythos tales. However, this was Carter's way of paying homage to all the other creative writers (I think). Neither was there a need to bog the flow of the drama down with interruptions and detours consisting of copious quotations from various "mythological books," with the sole purpose of attempting to give every mythos entity ever mentioned (that Carter could remember) a servitor race. Again, this was Carter paying homage to other writers' entities, in my opinion.
The problem is that the story content, the drama Carter is telling us, is so shrouded in this type of thing that everyone that ever wrote or spoke to me about "Lin's tales" seems to have completely missed the story! "I don't get it." I must have seen that and heard it 1,000 times! I didn't "get it" at first. Where was the story?
Well, on rereading and filtering, I think the whole group of stories make one great story, but it's a relatively short story.
What makes matters all the worse, in the eyes of some, is that Lin left out some great entities that have whole groups of stories around them, such as Crispin Burnham's superb Othuyeg - stories set in Kansas. None of James Ambuehl's superb "Lew Cthew" cycle entites are mentioned, either. I'm sure Carter left out a great deal more, since I've not read every single story out there to notice.
Carter also went too far in intertextualizing by trying to give too much order to something which was always intended to show something more akin to the outer chaos and give us the feeling of The Completely Unknown, as Lovecraft originally did. Lin is much critized for this, as is Derleth, though Carter went much further with this than Derleth ever went. An example is where he gave Cthulhu an origin by using Kathulhn of Vhoorl when there is no indication from the tale, The Guardian of the Book that Henry Hasse intended his character Kathulhn to be Cthulhu. Then Lin gave Cthulhu a family and a wife! Cthulhu went from The Completely Unknown in Lovecraft to a familiar cartoonish bad guy in Carter. In the Lovecraft/Heald tale, Out of the Eons, Ghatanothoa, an unknown entity but an obvious stand in (or another name of) for Cthulhu, is at odds with the Yig and Shub-Niggurath cults. T'yog tries to destroy Ghatanothoa with the help of the Yig and Shug-Niggurath cults. Cultists come to visit the mummified T'yog and the reader feels that these cultists are Cthulhu-related and that they honor T'yog in some way, or perhaps they are checking to see if he's still frozen in time. Therefore, making Ghatanothoa one of Cthulhu's sons is confusing.
Furthermore, the Ythogtha Priest Zanthu, with the help of the Yuggs who are related to Ubb, destroy all of Mu! R'lyeh is not Mu. R'lyeh and Cthulhu are already underneath the ocean during the days of Mu. Mu existed around 200 thousand years ago within the time of hominid life. R'lyeh is hundreds of millions of years pre-human. Ythogtha is more likely an entity akin to the Old Ones and Cthulhu because the Elder Gods show up as soon as Ythogtha shows a small portion of itself to the light of day. The Elder Gods do not make an appearance in Out of the Eons or in any other mythos story written by or encouraged by Lovecraft. In fact, the whole Elder Gods versus the Old Ones idea was an invention of August Derleth's.
Ghatanothoa was brought to earth from Yuggoth-Pluto by the Mi-Go, the same creatures that visit earth in The Whisperer in Darkness. There is no indication that Ghatanothoa is even an Old One involved in any war with any Elder Gods. Indeed, it is cultists that worship the Old Ones Yig and Shub-Niggurath that try to destroy Ghatanothoa and its cult in both Out of the Eons and in the Zanthu tale, The Thing in the Pit.
These are all open ends - they are contradictions. However, Lovecraft also tended to say things that could be contradictory - as did August Derleth.
As such, one can conclude that Zoth-Ommog possibly, and Ythogtha definitely, are Old Ones akin to Cthulhu and that the Yuggs, even though their leader and progenitor is Ubb, are allied to Cthulhu and its Deep One servitors. A further connection is made with worm-folk and Deep Ones by two other Lovecraft tales: The Thing on the Doorstep, with its mention of Kingsport, and The Festival, which takes place in Kingsport. A further connection can be made through the Fritz Leiber tale, The Terror From the Depths, with his winged worms and Cthulhu.
Lin's location of Zanthu's tomb in Central Asia and his mention of Shamballah are definitely related to Shamanism/Buddhism of the area and "tchorten" built in the area of Tartary which, in Tatar, are called Uba. Sat-Om-Aga has meaning as three words. SAT: the abyssal dark-force of entropic chaos infused into Nature in the Vedanta religion; OM: the Demiurge or Prana; AGA: an Adept. Zandu is the name of one of the Oguz Khans and is also known in Jamaica among the Obeah (Ubbia?) cults. I have a song by the group Exuma (the Obean Man) called Tulay Zandu. Zandu set the people free - so the song says. Ubbia is Sicilian: Worm or Maggot Idol and also means "irrational fear." Uber in Turko-Tatar means sorcerer and Upir in Slavic means Vampire. The only connection one could possibly make to this Gobi Desert tradition and Cthulhu is a loose one: "deathless Chinamen," mentioned in The Call of Cthulhu.
There is absolutely no indication, in The Call of Cthulhu, that the Louisiana cultists, the half-caste Kanakas that man the Alert, or the deathless Chinamen are Deep Ones or hybrids. All of that inference is made by August Derleth's intertextualizations. The deathless Chinamen could be Yuggya, my invention, since they live far from the ocean (did I ever write to Carter and mention my ideas? Yes, I did in 1969 or 1970 - unfortunately. I say unfortunately because in one of these Xothic tales, he mentioned "yuggya" alternately with "yugg" - but happily he did not expound more on it or say anything else).
There is absolutely no need to give Cthulhu three sons, but it is reasonable to assume that western cults of worshipers may have thought this in the same way that they imagine Jesus to be a son of the Jewish Deity, by some unfathomable reproductive means having nothing to do with nature as we know it. Jews do not believe it. Christians do believe it. It is all mythology and there are always different versions of mythologies. Lovecraft gives you the bare facts. In fact, the next progression, if you view the mythos as religions have progressed, was Derleth with his elemental ideas (very similar to Catholic angeology and demonology) and slight dualism, pitting Elder Gods (good guys) against Old Ones (bad guys) - again, like the Christian God/Satan duality. Next was Carter with a pantheon similar to what the Hindus made with their Gods and Goddesses and sons and daughters of deities. The mythos seems to have followed along the same paths that real religions followed, even and including a group of purists that accept only Lovecraft's word and actual groups of real occultists out there in real organizations named after, and based on, Lovecraft's secret cults.
Lin gave you a choice when reading - a choice to choose "whose expertise" to trust. Lin Carter, in having Dr. Armitage speak to Hodgkins, gives you the bare facts about the alien technology. All of the rest is mythology: religious views expressed by fanatical cults - as fanatical as the Christian one today that insists that the earth is only 5 thousand years old.
Applying this to the mythology of the Mythos entities, mythology that cults would eventually believe in, helps to explain why there are differences. There is no way to systematize entities that we know nothing about, just as there is no way to write about the objective person Jesus: and he is just a human being that lived in recent times on our own world. HPL's "charm" was in his vagueness about THE UNKNOWN. Are these things, the Old Ones, Gods? What is a God? Define it! We can define "alien." Are they forces? Dirk Mosig would have them as forces. No: gravity is a force and it doesn't appear one day and romp around or beget children on woman. When Dirk Mosig said forces, he meant gods - whether he realized that or not. They are most likely aliens - very very ALIEN aliens.
Also, there is a clear distinction between the Old Ones that are much more outer, almost like real forces of chaos, and the Old Ones that are like Cthulhu, which seem to be aliens from some prior cosmic age, made of matter we can't begin to fathom. And, as their creator, Lovecraft told us time and time again, "of their shape and substance, NO MAN CAN KNOW." I believe it was that kind of idea that captured the hearts of fans!
Well, there is no doubt about the fact that looking too long at these statues is a Very Bad Idea! But one mystery is left unanswered by Lin, it's left open ended: Hodgkins, when he touched the star-stone, felt a tingling sensation. Did Armitage and Lapham feel this tingling when they handled the stones? The only other character that ever felt something like this while handling the star-stone was Horvath Blayne and he turned out to be part Deep One (Trail of Cthulhu part 5, Derleth). There is no other story that says that anyone wholly human ever felt such a thing, and Lin did not choose to tell us, or get to write more to tell us, if feeling this was normal. Lin only had Armitage explain the star-stone radiation as being harmless to man. Hodgkins did not mention that he felt this to Armitage or Lapham. But we, the readers, got to read that he did feel this.
Unfortunately, we would definitely need the author's intent to figure out, ask him, just where this tale was going. If the feeling of tingling meant that Hodgkins was not wholly human, and if Armitage knew this about him all along, then what Armitage told Hodgkins to do was akin to sending him on a deliberate almost-suicide mission, possibly with the intent of killing two non-humans with one stone!
Lin died before he could write more but I'm sure he'd have loved others picking up on what he was so vague about.
There is also another contradiction, or so it seems: Copeland's notes show that the Yuggya Chants were obtained (and here Carter said "Yuggya," not "Yugg" in his tale), by Copeland, from a Lascar sailor. Later, we learn that Winfield Phillips' uncle Hiram Stokely gave him the chants. Is Hiram a Lascar, part-Lascar, or posing as one? Maybe! And is Dr. Blaine related to the (Horvath) Blayne family in the Derleth novel? Again: maybe. Lin liked to tie knots or have others tie them in new, creative ways.
I hope you enjoyed the "story."
(1) Other Nations, by T&P Marsh, ISBN 1410736857, has gotten very good reviews. It is, despite all else before it, a new novel. Chaosium was going to publish this, however they had half the novel, none of the 13 photo-like illustrations, a book cover I didn't think fit the novel at all, and far too many other novels scheduled before it.
(2) The inspiration for these creatures did not come from the Cthulhu Mythos, but I can and did put them into a Cthulhu mythos context just as anything else can be put in there, (for example, Yidhra - the "real mother" of all vampires? Say this, elaborate on it, and vampires can be incorporated into the mythos). The Yuggya do not have to be mythos related beings at all; but I was inspired to make a tiny change in their history to include them in the mythos. Neither I nor Carter invented Ubb, Uba, Ubbia, Uber or Upir - these are things common to Slavic and Turco-Tatar folklore. H. P. Lovecraft did not invent the Anedottus Musarus (The Deep Ones, two-legged, human-language-speaking, horrible-fishmen) - these and more pleasant versions of these are creatures common to folklore around the world. H. P. Lovecraft's Deep One stories could be correctly seen as his "slice of life" tales in the long saga of Oceanic Humanoid Mythology, originated by the Babylonians or Sumerians (Anedottus Musarus).
(3) A good order in which to read this entire set of tales would be this: 1. The Festival, by Lovecraft; 2. Out of the Eons, by Hazel Heald; 3. The Thing in the Pit, by Lin Carter; 4. The Dweller in the Tomb, by Lin Carter; 5. Out of the Ages, by Lin Carter; 6. Zoth-Ommog, by Lin Carter; 7. The Winfield Inheritance, by Lin Carter; 8. Perchance to Dream, by Lin Carter. The Xothic Cycle, published by Chaosium has the Lin Carter stories in it, with excellent prefaces written by Professor Robert Price. However I must point out that all of what Professor Price has written is either hearsay from Lin Carter when he was alive or what I think are his own assumptions. Professor Price knew Lin Carter when Lin was pretty sick, and on some pretty strong medicine. Also, what Carter's intentions were at the time he wrote these tales may have changed as the time went by and he got sicker. His prefaces are excellent, very informative about published dates, first appearances of tales and show what I think is good insight into the subject.
I personally spoke to Lin Carter before he was ill, in the late 60s and 70s. He knew some people in a group that were trying to figure out what things in legit mythology sounded like and fit the description of mythos entities. He was very adamant about declaring which tale was a "mythos tale" and which tale was not. For instance, the group, led by a mythos fan named Wayne, considered the tale The Atlantic Abomination, by John Brunner, Ace Books, 1960, to be a mythos tale. Lin Carter did not, to quote him from the phone, he snapped, "Ah, Wayne is full of shit." And from memory, paraphrasing, he added negatively, "There is nothing outer or unknown about. . . the creature in that silly/stupid book." Or, "the stupid creature in that silly book." Or, "the silly creature in that stupid book."
Of course, such a thing would boil down to his own opinion on what he chose to include and exclude. He also seemed like a purist at that time, though he did not reject August Derleth's ideas at all, at the time. In Lin's tale Out of the Ages (in Nameless Places, Arkham House), he departed from that so much so that I wondered if someone edited his tale when I first read it. It seemed like he had undergone a serious change.
It was here, in this tale (Out of the Eons), that we heard about Xoth, Cthulhu's originating home-star, Cthulhu's wife and three sons. It was here that Carter took what was obviously another name for Cthulhu and changed what Lovecraft said about Ghatanothoa; he also created Zoth-Ommog and Ythogtha, two other sons of Cthulhu to form a "Demon Trinity." See also the Chaosium Book The Xothic Cycle, page vii where Professor Price explains all of this. While Professor Price sees this positively, as Carter's way to harmonize something that, in my opinion, needed no harmonizing away from what Lovecraft wrote, I know that Lin was pretty sick at this time, in a lot of pain and on medicine. This seemed to me a drastic change in Carter who originally seemed to be against the whole idea of altering such Lovecraftian, utterly alien beings or forces and making them into deities more akin to what humans invent in mythology, such as Hindu pantheons. One read of the Atlantic Abomination, a book with an entity that Carter considered silly or stupid and absolutely not mythos-like, and you'd see that the entity in that book is very much like the entities Carter later invented after Out of the Ages.
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