In the mountains of Tian Shan, the monks performed their daily rituals with chanting and the burning of incense.
There were signs, portents—drought, famine, floods and wind, terrible storms, a flaming meteor streaking across the northern sky.
The monks were not afraid, because there was nothing they could do. Their chants did not bring the storms, and they did not keep them away.
They lived their lives outside the illusion of meaning.
The monastery was built on a cliff overlooking a narrow mountain pass where humans never traveled.
The pass was the only way to reach a valley where humans never ventured.
Deep in the heart of the valley stretched a sea of unfathomable depth, grey and still. The monks did not concern themselves with it.
While the monks chanted, their high priests meditated, observing the visions brought on by the ancient spells. The Old One gave them dreams.
No one could recall how long the monastery had stood overlooking the pass. Human records did not exist at the time it was built.
Occasionally, villagers from the other side—the human side—of the mountain brought a baby boy and left him at the monastery gate.
The monks cared for such children until they became monks themselves; one among hundreds might even become a high priest.
No one in the monastery thought this an honor, for they knew nothing of pride or privilege.
The villagers considered it a terrible sacrifice. They brought their sons to placate the Old One, to protect themselves from Evil.
But the Elder God did not care about the humans or their spawn. The villagers’ dreadful sacrifice had no effect one way or the other.
For millennia, the Old One had lain beneath the dead sea in the valley, lain as still as death in R’lyeh, the city beneath the water.
He lay as if dead, yet he was not dead. He seemed to sleep, yet he was not sleeping. The Old One was waiting.
When the signs were come and stars aligned, he would call on his servants to raise him, and then woe, woe, woe to the children of the earth!
He would come, and fire would rain from the sky, and a third of the earth would be burnt up, and a third of the seas would turn to blood.
Already the Great Meteor, the one called The Weapon, had struck the earth in Tunguska, as was foretold. This was the First Sign.
The Old One lay as if dead, yet felt the shift in the universe. He felt the death of worlds and grew hungry again.
Dread Cthulhu stirred, and manipulated the dreams of the high priests; for the first time in thousands of years, the priests felt euphoric.