Ghatanothoa by Passer in the Storm (www.deviantart.com)
There are a number of substances that are colorless and odorless but can harm or even kill humans. High concentrations of carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide can easily kill a person. Another example is radon or other more energetic forms of ionizing radiation such as X-rays or gamma rays. Without the use of a Geiger counter a person can be easily killed by such forms of radiation and not even know what is killing them. I hypothesize that the same holds for an air-borne substance emitted by Ghatanothoa; a colorless, odorless substance is emitted from this entity and is the cause for both the paralysis of the exposed individual as well as for the long-term preservation of the brain, allowing the individual mind to survive and live on as the paralyzed body slowly rots away. Thus, my hypothesis is that it is not the mere sight of Ghatanothoa that causes the paralysis but an air-borne toxin generated by the entity. This article provides evidence for supporting this hypothesis.
According to an ancient legend found in von Junzt’s Black Book or Nameless Cults, the sorcerer T’yog was going to banish or defeat Ghatanothoa and had a scroll of protective runes that would make him immune to the paralyzing effect of gazing upon Ghatanothoa. Priests of Ghatanothoa replaced T’yog’s scroll with a fake so it was concluded that this is why T’yog failed at his task – he used the wrong scroll and Ghatanothoa paralyzed his flesh, leaving his mind alive and intact, to be forever cognizant but unable to move or communicate with the outside world.
Ghatanothoa by Roberts the Vile (www.deviantart.com)
In the tale, it was noted that over time, “Through some chemical or physical influence in the air, the half stony, half leathery fibers seemed to be gradually relaxing…” This resulted in some changes in the position of the mummy and eventually led to the eyes opening; however, I hypothesize that extended exposure to open air had somehow caused a softening of the tissues and an initiation of decay, resulting in a release of the inactive toxin in small amounts. This slow release of the toxin as the mummy decays would explain the deaths of the two cultists who originated from the Pacific Rim, who attempted to replace the scroll with one they possessed. The cultist furthest away from the mummy may have received enough of a dosage to kill him but not to petrify his skin and tissues and preserve his brain. Thus, while he may have appeared to have “died of fright” it may in fact have been a lower dosage of the unknown, air-borne toxin. In contrast, the cultist closest to the mummy probably received a full dosage, which resulted in the paralysis of the body and the preservation of the brain.
After the investigators found the dead cultists and were examining them, they noted that the dead-fish eyes of the mummy were staring at them and even before they closely examined the mummy they “…felt a curious rigidity creeping over us and hampering our simplest motions…” A closer inspection of the mummy resulted in one of the investigators fainting. He claimed to have seen something in the eyes of the mummy, possibly an image of Ghatanothoa but further inspections revealed nothing (more on that in a future article). I hypothesis that once the paralysis of the mummy wore off and it began to decompose, some of the air-borne toxin that was trapped in the paralyzed tissues were released, causing the deaths of the cultists and the documented effects of rigidity. After the air-borne toxin dissipated, it was no longer a threat. The image of Ghatanothoa may have been a temporary hallucination, a side-effect of the toxin. This is one of the reasons I hypothesize it’s an air-borne toxin and not some form of ionizing radiation or exotic cosmic ray; it’s impact was only directly felt when the paralyzed tissues started to decay and then dissipated over a fairly short period of time.
Ghatanothoa by Hvergi (www.deviantart.com)
So if the body paralyzing / brain preserving power of Ghatanothoa originate from an air-borne toxin and not by merely looking at the entity, would T’yog have been saved by using the correct scroll? Probably not. Any advanced science looks like magic to a more primitive society and the spells on scrolls may have seemed an appropriate way of defending one’s self against Ghatanothoa. Indeed, there may actually be a “science” to the use of spells in repelling the Old Ones that we may not understand but my guess is it would not have worked in the mechanical, materialistic Lovecraftian universe. The spells were part of a religion that developed around an Old One opposing Ghatanothoa – Shub-Niggurath. In a Lovecraftian universe the cosmic irony or jest would be that the religious defense against an Old One would have no power at all.
Next time we will briefly discuss what is known about the biology of Ghatanothoa. Thank you – Fred.