Devil Fish

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Amphibious race, presumed of reptilian or ichthyologian origin, that emerged out of Pacific Ocean in 1701 A.D., seizing a number of islands in the Tahitian group. The nation controlling these islands, the Naipon Seahold, subsequently waged a war to exterminate this strange invader, major operations of which ended roughly in 1722 A.D.

"Their appearance - especially those staring, unwinking eyes which one never saw shut - was certainly shocking enough;...." - The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft


T178, Naipon Seahold
The governor of the Marquesas regarded the two fishermen with some perplexity. He was far from the land of his birth, and the islands over which he held guardianship were scattered and ill-populated, yet in each day there was some new matter to concern him. He gestured that the two sun-browned natives should sit at the low table. Despite his offering, both refused tea, and continued with their story;

"... and then, lord, the ocean rose up and walked, stretching from horizon to horizon, and its arms were mighty as the sun..."

T182, The Naipon Seahold
Chukuma's aide leaned close, whispering - "these old men are the last who still ply catamarans by rowing between the islands, Great Lord, they say that they can read the mood of the sea from its waters and espy land from the taste." Chukuma nodded, the sea-peoples that he ruled had long done without the modern techniques of sighting against the rising of the sun and the stars in their travels. He gestured for the men to rise from the tatami that covered the floors of his house.

"What news do you bring me, grandfather?" said the Daimyo in respectful tones - in his house, the wisdom of the aged was well regarded. The two wrinkled islanders glanced at one another, then the younger looking one bowed and spoke:

"The sea is troubled, Lord of the Hundred Islands. Deep waters are moving, and we are uneasy. Nineteen days ago, my brother and I set out from Tauranga on Nuku Hiva with our cousins, and the sons of our sons - they had asked to learn the sea-speaking and our hearts were glad to hear these words. With five waka we sailed the wave-road south-east to Mangareva, letting the sons of our sons read the sea, the sky and the waters." The younger ancient paused and the elder now continued:

"We came to Mangareva and found that the fishermen there had left, leaving only a little breadfruit and some cisterns of water. We refilled our barrels and circled the island, following the sun, but found no one. We talked amongst ourselves and decided to test the deeps beyond Oeno, where the sea-people often come in this time of the year. When we reached Oeno, we saw a strange sight; four of the sea-people passed us, heading to the falling sun, and ten tens of ship-fish were with them. Their heads butted against our waka and they tried to push us back. Some of the cousins were afraid, but now we were worried and decided to look upon the waters of the deep."

Again, as the elder paused, the younger took up the tale:

"Beyond Oeno the waters are strange and twisty, with only a thread to lead you to Raku-raku beyond the deeps. When our waka came to the edge of the tilted sea we were very frightened, for the living water came to an end. Beyond Oeno the sea is dying, great lord, and we are very afraid."

With this they bowed their heads to the mats of the cottage and would speak no more.

T184, The Naipon Seahold
The courier knelt, bowed, and began his report. He wore the proper expression of respect, and in spite of his youth his carriage was erect as befit a warrior. His voice gave no hint of the curiosity he must have felt.

"We reached the island, penetrated into the interior, and found the village just as the Italian had described. We had to kill most of the villagers to reach the temple, but that was no problem. Inside, we found the idol. As the Italian reported, it was a shapeless purple figure, taller than a man, perched on a cube of greenish stone. It was surrounded by various signs of sacrifice, but the bones were difficult to identify. The skulls, in particular, were very strange. As per your instructions, we destroyed the temple and all that it contained."

"And the rites?"

"Our scribe made a copy of the incantation. I have it with me."

The courier unrolled a small scroll and began to read. Some peculiarity of the words made his voice sound almost inhuman.

"Ia Kulhuz!" he cried in a harsh voice. "Ph'nglui mgw'nafth Kulhuz R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!"

The Daimyo was silent for a time.

"Lord?" asked the courier.


"I'm confused. It was before my time, but wasn't there once a ruler named 'Kulhuz', somewhere in the New World?"

"Yes." The Daimyo grimaced. "Now leave us."

EDITORS NOTE: Kulhuz was a ??th century Aztec emperor. The similarity of the emperor's name to that of Cthulhu is probably not coincidental.

T185, The Naipon Seahold
No new word of catastrophe came from the seas beyond Oeno, so the young queen (Sugawara Ahana) decided to ignore the strange tidings that had so disturbed her father.

T186, The Naipon Seahold
Despite the vauge and disturbing reports out of the south-east, the Seahold continued about their business. By the end of 1699, however, terrible news came from Tahiti. A battered postal catamaran limped into the tax station on Rarotonga, one outrider in ruins, it's sail in tatters. Three men were aboard, two dead, one barely alive. The port inspectors were horrified to see that the survivor had lived only by gnawing the bodies of the dead. When the man was revived, he told a tale of hideous events. The entire island of Tahiti had been destroyed by "the wave-that-walks" and, even beyond that disaster, the "men that are not men" that had come up out of the sea after the passing of the wave-that-walks and had feasted upon the survivors.

When Ahara learned of this, she dispatched a squadron of war-catamarans to investigate Tahiti and the Marquesas as well. They did not return. Now Ahara remebered the tale told by two old men to his father, years before, and wondered what dire portent it foretold for the future.

T188, The Naipon-Seahold
While his sister Ahara continued to putter about the court in Joetsura and worry about things like corn harvests, trade and the fisc, Prince Ropongi was sailing merrily about Micronesia, visiting the islands under his domain. Thus it was his misfortune that led him to make landfall at Samoa in 1703 and be almost immediately greeted by throngs of panicked citizens. Apparently a long canoe had come only days before from Bora-Bora to report that a great and terrible host of 'sea-demons' had come swarming up out of the sea and begun slaughtering the citizens of that island.

Ropongi, after restoring order, armed his men and set sail for the nearby islands. After a swift journey, he and his three thousand warriors landed on the outermost island of Bora-Bora and were stunned to find the fishing villages there laid waste and the people gone. The prince, conscious of his heroic duty, ordered the priests to say a thousand prayers to Oro and garbed himself in the shark-scale armor of his fathers before ordering his men into battle.

The Nipon warriors swarmed out of the palms and into the village, only to find it empty as well. Puzzled, they milled about in the square, shouting in surprise. It was then, while they were looking to Ropongi for guidance, that the devil-fish attacked. Thousands suddenly rose from the murky waters of the lagoon, raising a great gurgling cry and slouching forward, their lines a thicket of harpoons, tridents and jagged spears. Ropongi and his men cried out in great fear, then shuddered as the first Nipon warrior was skewered and then hoisted aloft on a cruel hook, screaming to his death. Then there was a great shout on the Nipon side and battle was joined.

Weeks later, Ropongi and his fleet, battered by defeat and harsh storm-winds, limped into Tekutea to seek succor. The islands of Bora-bora were lost to the devilfish. Ropongi swore vengeance on the sea creatures. They would pay!

T189, The Naipon-Seahold
On the islands of the western reaches, the bitter struggle against the fish-men continued, with the invaders launching an attack against Ropongi and his forces on Tekutea. After three months of fighting, the fish-men were thrown back in defeat, leaving thousands of corrupting corpses clogging the lagoons of the islands. Unfortunately, most of Ropongi's fleet was destroyed and he himself was killed. Ahara, who now ruled alone, ignored messengers to Te Ika requesting reinforcements.

T190, The Naipon-Seahold
While the other Oroists were busily slaughtering each other, or preparing to do so, Ahara was far more concerned with repelling the strange invasion that was threatening her realm. The defenses of Honolulu, Joetsura and Majuro were all upgraded and Captain Buscar sent to Tekutea to hold that island against further attacks by the devilfish.

As Ahara had feared, the devilfish attacked Tekutea, though now Buscar was there to meet their slimy advance with three thousand men and a raft of new artillery pieces built specially for use against the swarming throngs of the devilfish. A fierce battle ensued as close to four thousand devilfish attempted to overwhelm the Seaholders. The wide-mouthed guns, and their storm of iron pellets, threw back the invaders in an ichorous green slaughter. The attack was repelled with barely a Seaholder to pay for the victory.

T191, The Naipon-Seahold
At last provoked by the attacks of the devil-fish, lady Ahara authorized the raising of new troops and their armament with the newest weapons purchased from the Aztecs and Japanese. Captain Buscar was then sent to Tekutea with this new force to defend against any further devil-fish attacks. None came, though some devil-fish scouts were noted beyond the reefs at Bora-Bora by Buscar's scouts.

T192, The Naipon-Seahold
The Seaholders continued to rearm their milita and kept a sharp watch on the seas to the west, expecting the return of the devil-fish. However, the gruesome deformed men did not return.

T193, The Naipon-Seahold
Efforts in the east were met with success - the island of Bora-Bora was resettled with colonists from Te Ika A Maui, and many forts were built to protect the islanders from the devil-fish. Madang on Papua was also fortified.

T194, The Naipon-Seahold
The Seaholders continued their counter-attack against the depredations of the Devil Fish, retaking the Marquesas and resettling them with peasants and fishermen from the Island of the Long Cloud. Again, against the guns and iron-plated hulls of the SeaHolder ships, the Devil-Fish - for all their ferocity and terrible visiage - could not prevail.

T195, The Naipon-Seahold
Captain Belasar, reinforced by more Maori troops from the land of the long cloud, launched an attack to reclaim Tahiti from the devil-fish. However, first Tuamorotu had to fall and here the devil-fish put up ferocious resistance. Thousands of them swarmed against his ships and it was close going before the Seaholders could even fight through to dry land. There they found the atoll a dreadful place - filled with the carcasses and skeletons of thousands of whales. The fighting in the oily sand was fierce, but once the Seaholder guns could be brought ashore, it was only a matter of time before the shark-spears of the devil-fish were thrown down in defeat.

Still, Belasar was worried. If the fish-men would spend so many lives to try and hold Tuamorotu - what would they do to hold Tahiti? Too, the gruesome remains of sacrifices before their octopodal gods whispered of unforseen powers being brought to bear. He sent a fast trimaran back to Te'Ika'A'Maui to request serious reinforcements before he essayed Tahiti and its girdling reefs.

The sea was becoming strange and glassy the closer they came to the islands that had first felt the power of the devil-fish.

T196, The Naipon-Seahold
The Seaholders gathered their fleets at Borabora in grand display. Reinforced by a massive Javan fleet, they counted near every man and boy in the islands. All preparations were underway to assault the final devil-fish stronghold of Tahiti. Each man in the fleet was taken to the site of the Great Temple on Bora and made to look full upon the face of the monstrosity that dwelt there in stone.

Many men were driven mad and put down by the spears and daggers of their fellows. But the Seaholders knew that the horrors that awaited them on Tahiti would be far worse, for they would writhe and seeth with unnatural life. They would not be greasy gray-green stone.

So the great fleet did sail against Tahiti and, once arriving there, found the islands desolate and abandoned. Signs of the devilfish were everywhere, but not one of the creatures remained in the crystal clear atolls or reefs. The Seaholders and their Javan allies undertook an exhaustive search, but it seemed that the sea had taken back what it had sent forth.

T197, Nanhai Wang'guo
The Seaholders, besides choosing a new name for their south seas realm, resettled the islands of Tahiti, building new towns and harbors to replace those destroyed by the Devil Fish.

T198, Nanhai Wang'guo
The foul temple in Tahiti was cleansed and restored as a religious center devoted to the Shark God, Oro. Artisans that were supposed to come from Java to help out failed to arrive, getting lost and then returning home.

Last updated: 12 September 2003

© 2003 Robert Pierce

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