In the fifth year of the reign of Asa, king of Judah, there were great portents in the sky and upon the Earth. The priests became blind to the future and the torches outside the temples burnt out, the offerings left upon the altar fell sideways in their death and struggled too much beneath the knife. The wise prophet Azariah, son of Oded, told Asa that there was discontent in the heavens and that the Lord had decreed unto the world that there should be plague and famine, but the cattle remained healthy and the crops did not die, though their yield was only seventy thousand bales that year. Asa ordered that Azariah be stripped of his rank, but the prophet came before him, pulling at his hair, and said unto him that there was strife in heaven and that the signs were not of the Lord's anger but of preparation for a war among the Hosts.
Asa asked of Azariah wherefore such a battle should occur, when Satan was chained in Gehenna to the lake of fire and the fallen angels strode no more upon the lands, having been cast out by the Lord and secured within the accursed lake to never rise again, their glories thrown aside and watched over by ten hundred angels with keys and swords that were made from lightning and flame. He answered that this battle did not come from within the holy spheres but from without, and that great evil, foreign to the heavens and the Earth and all things set upon the firmament, approached.
The king believed the words of Azariah, for he loved him greatly and knew of his piety, and he sent messengers to the kings of Aegypt, Israel and of Aram, Zerah son of Zozerak, Baasha son of Ahijah, and Ben-Hadad son of Tabrimmon. They returned with word that their prophets told of similiar omens and that they were greatly distressed by the matter. Asa sent out his envoys again and requested that they all meet in Jerusalem to decide on how to react, but they instead convened in Nablus. Only king Asa came in person, but dignitaries from the other states were there.
Just as the meeting began, a great number of four-winged angels, that shone with a great light, descended upon the hall. They wore black robes and carried axes of silver and axes of gold, and were led by tall Sandaphon, who brings men together and sings the heavenly songs of the Almighty, who constantly battles Satan to prevent division amongst brothers and sons. He came before them and told them of a message from on high- that heaven was to be attacked, and that it was not a threat from the angels of the evil one but from outside the spheres of the stars and planets, from beyond the space and time of creation. Asa wept at this and asked of the mighty angel what he should do. Sandaphon answered that they must find allies and gather an army from the whole of the world, from scalding Aethiopia in the South and from the tall, savage, bearded men of the cold North, and from the riders of the East and the helmetted warriors of the warm North, and from the great empire of the furthest East who had never heard of the almighty, and from the builders of stepped temples on the jungled land of the furthest West.
The king responded that this was impossible, and that these men would never listen, but Sandaphon rebuked him and told him that angels would go before and spread the word that his entreaties might fall upon keener ears. He also granted their messengers a favourable wind that they might go faster to their allies. The assembly rode out to their homelands, and the men of Aram, Aegypt and Israel told their kings of the story, and whole support was pledged to the cause. For their leader they chose Asa, who had been present when the angels had come down.
Azhurna, king of the great Assyrian empire of the East that had subdued the kings of Babylon and Persia, sent a message that his vast army should help the alliance as long as Asa handed over the command of the federation to him. For three days Asa sought the advice of his councils and the other kings, and finally he relented and gave Azhurna power over all the armies. They assembled by the green Euphrates, in a camp a dozen miles wide, with supplies coming from far Galilee and Jerusalem. Cities were abandoned and their merchants and farmers sent to help sustain the great force that was now present there.
From distant Europa came tribes of men who built great rings of stone and had only just set aside their local gods for the Lord after his angels had come among them. They had great swords and hair of yellow or red, but did not favour the warmth of the encampment and set up their own several miles upriver, in the mountains. They swore fealty to Azhurna as the other soldiers but remained rebellious. After them came the men from the North-East steppes, where plants refuse to grow, who ride horses with unmatched skill and live on the move without villages or cities. Their numbers were great and their chieftains agreed to serve under the alliance.
Their army grew for the rest of the year, with the regent of the Zhou in the furthest East sending a force of men to join the fight who had strange swords and armour and carried flags with unreadable letters, and also came the chariots of the Mykenaa and Athena, with helmets of boar-tusks and long bronze spears. They were fierce warriors, but few in number, and wearied by war.
When the force was thus assembled, Azhurna received word of strange happenings in the southern Arab gulf, and came down to find the strangest creatures. They were more like vegetable than animal, with five tentacles and no eyes, and were not killed by arrows of spears. With them came shapeless things that would carry their possessions and had built their cities, and seemed unkillable. They quickly learnt to write in the symbols of the Assyrians and Azhurna learnt that they had come from the depths of the sea to help the battle against the beings from outside the stars. Their numbers were few, and they had been sleeping far under the Earth, but they were hard to kill and their formless servants could match a thousand soldiers. The other kings and generals did not trust these things but allowed them to join the alliance.
He then heard news of the ocean boiling in the west, and an impossible city of black stone where up became down and men fell in strange ways rising from beneath the sea. The plant-like men said that this was the city of the great monsters who had Trod upon the Earth long ago, and Trod there still, but were not seen as they were sleeping, dead, within the city where their high priest lay beneath the spire. Idols of foul monsters fell from the sky, and cults grew around them which sailed to the city and began to worship the beings within.
Azhurna sent five ships of sixty heroes, clad in the finest armour and holding weapons from the Zhou of the East, to the city to bring back the cults and kill the beasts. For three months he awaited their return but they did not come and he was greatly disturbed to hear that their ships had been broken by beasts as tall as mountains that walked in the seas, with faces that made men fall insane upon seeing them, and bore unspeakable wings and tails. Their starspawn filled the beaches in their tens of thousands, killing and eating all they saw.
The alliance sent a large army, of two hundred thousand men, to fight the beasts as they filled the southern sea. They were driven back, and lost fifty thousand men to the monsters or to madness, as they said one of the old ones had arisen from the sea and looked down upon them. But then a host of six-winged seraphim came from the sky and killed the starspawn with their swords, then fell upon the old one and forced it back into the depths below.
Images of insanity crippled the ground and the sky, and the moon turned black, and crops stopped growing. Children were born with tentacles and evil eyes, and animals covered in spines and teeth prowled the wilderness, roaring like animals should never do, vicious and horrifying. The plant-men from the sea held off the starspawn with strange magics and their servants, but the numbers of the enemy rose each day. Fungoid beasts from the distant rocks of Yuggoth and Margr'k, whose empire spanned a heaven and an earth beyond the sight of the angels, descended from the sky and took men into their outposts. There, they played with their minds and made them believe that the fungoids were not beasts but great, and attacked the alliance whenever they could, sabotaging the supplies of the armies and razing fields. Many soldiers died of hunger and in their raids, so the alliance was forced to spread out, with the men of Europa heading into the mountains and those of the Levant moving west to Galilee.
The sky became grey and the clouds became laughing faces. Swarms of invisible locusts ate the crops and plagues that made men dance until they died or made them bloat until they ripped in two spread across the camps. Now much reduced in number, the armies reconvened by the ancient city of Uruk, from which Abraham came. The angels Michael, Sarakiel and Uriel came before them, shining and bright but without praise, and told of the fall of the first heaven to the gods from beyond. They told of the extraction of the gods that had been cast into Tartarus by the Almighty and how their weapons had been returned to then, and then how they had been sent against the unending hordes of the Outer Ones without success. The womb of Gaea had been unblocked, and the monsters that had been within were now pressed into service against the Enemy, monsters whose heads would touch the sky and whose eyes were filled with fire.
Asa asked of the angels how they could be losing, as they were servants of the Lord, but they did not answer and told him to have faith that they would gain victory, and also to keep up the fight upon the Earth. For the Almighty had already decreed how the world would end, and it was not this way, and his word was his law. The angels also said that they would no longer be able to help the alliance, and that it now had to fight on its own. As they departed, black winged creatures came down from the sky that were named Nightgaunts, and they grabbed men from their tents and ate them. The archers of the alliance sent them off, but there was now much questioning amongst the soldiers as to whether this was a war that could be won.
Boneless serpents, fishmen, scorpion men, invisible things, ravenous hound-like things, walking worms, and monstrous things from the sea were seen and fought, but against them there was no victory. The leviathan was killed by a darkness from the risen city and its corpse emitted foul-smelling fogs that rendered Europa empty of life and scarred with plague that would never let life take root again. The behemoth was taken up into the heavens to battle the creatures from outside, but died and fell, covering the great cities of the far East with its corpse and destroying them utterly.
Armies came upon the Earth of beings with one eye and grey skin, crested tripods which wielded tubes that shot flame, multi-hued cats with claws three cubits long but bodies of no exceptional size, men made from worms, flying points of fire that burned all that approached, and flying, coral-like things that sent forth winds powerful enough to destroy palaces and walls. Against them Azhurna's army fell back in dismay, and Azhurna himself was slain, along with all the other kings and princes. Devah, son of Mikhah, took control of the army and led it further into the mountains, along with all the women and children they could find. The plant-men from the sea accompanied them.
However, a new group of men now sailed up the river. The claimed to be from the lands of jungle to the furthest West, and were gladly received by the suffering armies. They said they had been summoned by the angels at the first call, but they were too distant to have sailed back. The plant-men had helped them construct the boats they had used to travel to here, and they too had suffered in the oceans, now few in number.
So reinforced, the alliance built a great fortress upon the mountain-tops, designed to repel the attacks of the monstrous hordes and sustain itself from within. Only ten thousand men and women remained from the initial force, but they dedicated themself to constructing this bastion and sheltered there.
They trembled as the old ones stalked the Earth, their high priest with his tentacles and great wings, the black goat which vomited forth constantly its young, and the unnameable yellow being that laughed in the sky. The land was awash with slaughter and death, bodies forming new plains and the rivers running strange colours with alien blood as massive hordes of beasts and monsters clashed and the beings of the sunken city cavorted in delight. The morning star failed to rise when it should have done, and stars began to fall to Earth, crashing down with great bursts of yellow flame and pitting the ground with black craters, setting fire to the dead forests and plains.
A small group of angels, dimmed by weariness and suffering, came down to the fortress, deathly afraid. They told of the fall of the second heaven and how the planet Venus had been destroyed, and of how when a billion angels were created they would each be destroyed in moments, and how if new heavens were erected they were torn down faster than they could be built by the hordes from outside creation. They also told in hushed tones of the approach of the Outer Gods, and particularly of their king Azathoth, who burned in the centre of infinity, He who had made the gods and thereafter rested, and should He ever Awake, all things shall become otherwise. They mentioned the hideous, nebulous Yog-Sothoth, the Lurker at the Threshold, the Gate and the Key, the All-in-One and One-in-All who was both outside the multiverse and was the living multiverse and who was already in all space but none.
When they were asked about the old ones who Trod the Earth, they named their city R'lyeh, the accursed, and named them in turn: Cthulhu, their high priest, Shub-Niggurath, the black goat of the woods with a thousand young, he whose name can never be spoken, and too many others. And they told of how the world had once danced for the Great Old Ones, and how they were making it dance once again as they erected spires from the bones of the living and bathed in the multi-coloured blood of the abominations that shambled across the firmament.
They spoke of how some of the Outer beings who had entered the heavens could not be destroyed, and of others who could be destroyed but then became five, or seven, or a thousand of the same, and of others who simply became more powerful for their destruction. Even as the Almighty flooded the heavens with angels, they were cast down. Even as He summoned new heavens, they would shatter.
The night sky was nearly empty, its stars lost to the Earth and its planets swarmed by shadowy, shapeless forms. The sun shone red and day's length decreased with each passing revolution, and enormous fleets that travelled between the spheres traced long tendrils through the sky. Spheres made of machines crashed into the planets and made their surfaces into machines, and the men from those planets had either fled or died. The moon's black surface cracked and rippled, its dark seas boiling away and the circular fortresses of its inhabitants breached.
A number of ships that sailed in the sky, powered by steam, landed by the fortress. Men with silver skin came forth, exhausted, and took refuge within the walls. They named themselves the men of Mercury, now lost, and the last survivors of their great civilisation. After them came the red men of Jupiter, who rode upon great dragons, but then there was nothing. The others had been all annihilated by the Outer Ones.
This was not the first time, the angels told us. As infinity moved throughout the spaceless fabric of the universe, Azathoth would intersect with universes. Before him came His sycophants and His mindless dancers, and they fought ferociously that He might not Awaken and consume all, led by the interpreter of His Will, the faceless, evil being Nyarlathotep, who appears before living beings and uses them as tools for chaos. Even now, Sammael, Michael and the Angel of Woe were locked in a desperate battle against that herald of entropy, and they did not seem likely to win. The greatest of the angels, Sarakiel, Uriel, Metatron, Israfel and Malik, held the breach in the fifth sphere but would soon have to withdraw. The gods and beasts recruited from Tartarus were all dead now, consumed by the Outer Ones, and Typhon itself had been broken against the fifth heaven, causing its ceiling to become weak. Innumerable gods just as the Almighty had been consumed before by Azathoth, and He would consume innumerable more, and if any evaded His immaterial maw then He would Awake and all things would become otherwise.
Then why, asked Devah of the angels, do you fight? If your foe cannot be defeated, and wants only the Lord, then why not present the Lord to them? Does not the Lord love us greatly enough to let us live? The angels wept bitterly, and said that they had no power against the Almighty, as they had been designed to be unable to oppose Him in word or deed. Even as they spoke, they suddenly looked up and knew that the fifth heaven had fallen to the Outer Ones. The Great Old Ones exulted far below and then continued their revelry, sending the hordes that marched on, in, and above the Earth against each other in ever more deranged battles.
So abandoned by on high, the survivors of mankind ceased their sacrifices and pulled down the temples, using their stones to fortify the walls of the physical world rather than the spiritual. There were some amongst them who said that they should build new temples, dedicated to the gods who had come and had shown their omnipotence, the Outer Gods. They told of the powers granted by Yog-Sothoth, and the incantations that brought about wealth and power for their speakers, and how visions of the fury released by the splitting of the infinitesimal, the blinding light from the centre of the indivisible that surrounded Azathoth were available to any who would open their eyes to His truth. But Devah still had some faith, and decreed that no such blasphemies could be entertained within these walls.
The men of Jupiter said that their deity lived still, the Ouroboros that had no beginning or end and emitted revelations as it spiralled through eternity. They claimed that it, and a few others, remained in the Primordium, those whom even the Almighty had been afraid to awaken. Others they named- the enigmatic, spiralling Feathered Serpent God that spoke in visions, and the skull-faced God of Death who measured the worth of all living things from empty sockets, and the Mother Goddess from whose loins Earth, Horizon and Sky had been formed, and whose corpse had become the Earth, but whose power lingered- the Goddess who God had worshipped. But even these Gods could not stand up to Azathoth and Yog-Sothoth, the Living Multiverse and its Sultan, the One and the All, He who sweats forth universes and the protoplasmic Conglomerate of Universes, though their power was greater still than that in the first heaven that shone as a million suns, where the Throne of the Lord was blinding to even the seraphim. But perhaps once the Outer Ones had moved on they would reawaken and cast out the Great Old Ones, the shambling hordes, and the beasts that moved through the ground and sky.
The plant-men named no gods of their own, but spoke of their own empire that might send a force to relieve them from beyond the sky. They said they had come from another world, one with three suns of different colours, between the constellation of the seven-headed serpent and the constellation of the heroic ship. But no stars remained in the night firmament, having all fallen upon the dirt, and so no man knew where to look.
The angels then told us that the fourth heaven was gone, lost to the forces of Nyarlathotep, and that Uriel, Michael and Gabriel were dead, having fallen in their last stand against the Outer things, and as they spoke there were bursts of fire around the sun that surely marked the deaths of those great angels. Again the Great Old Ones shrieked and groaned in delight, and their offspring copied them in insane mimicry, allowing their ullulations to fill the foetid air of the corrupted Earth. Again they threw themselves at each other in gladiatorial campaign, letting their blood and ichor, and flesh of no Earthly making, fill the rivers, line the seas, and cover the deserts. All within mankind's last bastion were deathly afraid except those who laughed upon hearing of the works of the Outer Ones, and asked that we join them in their worship of the primal Gods from beyond creation who had defeated the Lord and broken down the gates. But, we replied, three gates remain, each better guarded than the last, and perhaps there shall be some miracle. Not even a miracle, they responded, could defeat the omnipotent Blind Idiot God and the miasmic, entropic Yog-Sothoth.
The worshippers of the Outer Ones could no longer remain inside the fortress, Devah decided. He sentenced them all to death for conspiracy, blasphemy, heresy, idol worship, murder, sabotage, betrayal, practising black magic and high treason, and soldiers were sent to capture and kill them. Within their houses they found a series of tunnels that led into the mountain, and where they met there was an unholy cavern painted with blood and gore, containing altars to the Outer Gods and where men praised the works of those from Beyond. When the soldiers tried to attack, the heretics used black magic and subdued them all, invoking the name of Yog-Sothoth to transform pious men into gibbering horrors that squirmed and hated all living things. They then sent these monsters onto the streets to attack those who had been their fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, friends and comrades in arms. The plant-men released their Shoggoths and they slew the monsters with ease, before heading into the caverns and tearing the heads from the traitors, leaving a trail of decapitated heretics within the God-forsaken chamber, that was then sealed with boulders as their tomb.
The fungoid, winged beasts of Yuggoth raided the bastion that night and slew Devah in his sleep. They also took the grain from the granaries and extinguished the blast furnaces that supplied the soldiers with their weaponry. Upon awaking, the people were much dismayed, leaderless and confused. They asked the angels what they should do and the angels appointed Tauehmoc, son of Cuathema, a man of the furthest western jungle lands, as the commander of the remaining humans. He then ordered that a roof be built over the whole fortress, from materials that did not burn, ten thousand cubits across, so that attacks from the sky would be impossible. And it was done, though it took two weeks and four days and ten men died from falls during the construction.
At noon that day, the Sun was covered by the lunar disc and the lands were plunged into darkness. The Nightgaunts filled the sky and the Earth echoed with daemonic roars as all the horrors which stood upon its surface watched the fall of the third heaven. There were spheres of flame around the hidden Sun as Malik, the Angel of Woe, Sandaphon and Metatron were slain, along with many other heroic angels. Squamous and amphibious things cackled at the victory of the Outer Ones, and the clockwork stars in the sky danced all the faster, pouring out cogs and gears onto the Earth that made the land into machines. But the Great Old Ones destroyed the machines and pulled down its makers from the sky, destroying them until they fled, and then ate their constructs upon the ground. The light of the angels dimmed as less power was given unto them from on high, as the Lord dedicated all the power he had to holding back the inexorable progress of the Outer Gods.
But within the fortress, it seemed that the plant-men were having difficulties with their Shoggoths. Those amoebic giants were resisting commands and sought to attack the allies of their masters, despite all training and the behaviour bred into them. It was with great consternation that they were euthanised using strange weapons. The plant-men explained that the Shoggoths had revolted before, very long ago, and caused great damage to their civilisation before being defeated. They could not afford to have that event reoccur.
An army of monsters had gathered around mankind's last refuge, awaiting their starvation or death with gibbers and roars. When one strayed too close, it would be shot full with arrows, but there were only so many arrows. Each day they grew slightly bolder and the archers slightly more scared by the beasts and abominations outside, until the men of Mercury mounted strange devices from their steam-powered ships upon the ramparts that launched small balls of iron very fast using some manner of strange piston and boiler. These weapons were far more effective at keeping the hordes away.
The breach of the second heaven was quieter than the previous collapses. Perhaps it was due to the sheer distance, or perhaps the power of heaven was fading. Israfel, Sammael and Raziel died with bursts of angelic fire, but they were almost invisible in the sky. The Great Old Ones strained their heads to the apex of the sky and released a powerful cacophany of unnatural shrieks and groans, followed by the choirs of beasts and monsters that ran around their feet, tentacles, tails, and all sorts of other limb-like things that hung from them. All sorts of creatures laughed bestially and sang and danced, their unholy revels piercing the red night.
There was only one gate between the Outer Ones and their prize. True, it was the strongest of all the gates, the most heavily guarded and behind it sat the Lord, but the Outer things had only grown stronger and more numerous, more terrible and invincible in their progress here. Azathoth was near and His proximity made the lights of heaven warp into stranger hues, and the sky groaned slowly as His Presence began to intersect with this universe. His dancers and sycophants filled the celestial sphere and wrapped around the firmament, causing the lesser abominations that had wrecked the Earth to draw back to its surface, silenced and humbled. The things that were below the heavens fled- for no being that is of matter, whether like ours or of the strangest, unholiest kinds that are found beyond the stars, can endure the touch of the Outer Ones or look upon their entirety.
Space seemed to densen as Yog-Sothoth concentrated Himself here, causing the first heaven to creak underneath the stress, its shining walls buckling slightly all over their surface. His miasmic, entropic form, an incomprehensible congeries of all that was primordial, protoplasmic, and wrong, a shapeless, formless mass that was not a mass and drove all that looked upon it to insanity- the impossibly-coloured, ever-changing, infinitely chaotic body that was the Living Multiverse- enveloped God's last refuge and tore it apart. And then he diffused out once more, allowing the infinite hordes that surrounded great, daemonic Azathoth to charge screaming into the Almighty and His last angels.