Discography

Bal-Sagoth the band is just one facet of the vast and far reaching world of the Bal-Sagoth stories. The lyrics of the six albums are reflections of a much larger and more intricate body of work, and only a relatively small part of that has thus far been revealed in the lyric booklets. As I originally intended, the chronicles of this baroque fantasy world will ultimately encompass such things as prose short stories, graphic novels, illustrated books, and more. Additionally, the forthcoming revised and expanded edition of my Glossary will provide readers with unprecedented information on all aspects of the lyrical mythos.These are the lyrics and stories of the six Bal-Sagoth albums...

BYRON: Summer 2006 (C.E.)

 

Book I  (A Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria)

Book II  (Starfire Burning Upon The Ice-Veiled Throne Of Ultima Thule)  

Book III  (Battle Magic)

Book IV  (The Power Cosmic)

Book V  (Atlantis Ascendant)

Book VI (The Chthonic Chronicles)

 

BAL-SAGOTH: Book I  (A Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria)
 

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  1. Hatheg-Kla
  2. Dreaming Of Atlantean Spires
  3. Spellcraft & Moonfire (Beyond The Citadel Of Frosts)
  4. A Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria
  5. Enthroned In The Temple Of The Serpent Kings
  6. Shadows ‘Neath The Black Pyramid
  7. Witch-Storm
  8. The Ravening
  9. Into The Silent Chambers Of The Sapphirean Throne (Sagas From The Antediluvian Scrolls)
  10. Valley Of Silent Paths
 
 
 
 
1)  HATHEG-KLA

The Aspirant: Praise the Crystalline Oracle! I am blessed with enlightenment! Hark, Ancient Ones! Hear me in thy ebon vaults beneath the earth, in thy hoary tombs beneath the waves! Hear me in your deathless slumber! Hearken! Soon, that slumber shall cease, and you shall rise, rise as avenging avatars! Your victory shall be absolute, and a new era of human obeisance shall dawn! The universe awaits your glorious ressurrection! Purge the world! Cleanse all creation with your purity! Praise the crawling chaos! The time has come! Reveal the sinistrous power of the Six Keys! 


2)  DREAMING OF ATLANTEAN SPIRES

All witches fly to me...

I have torn the veil of dreams, enraptured by (the gleam of) moon-frost's caress,
My heart is held in icy thrall, the horned moon's sweet enchantment,
The Topaz Throne is beckoning, the jewelled sword awaits my grasp,
The dreaming gods now grimly brood in the silence of Atlantean spires.
The sky is black with chaos-fiends, spellcraft rides with witch-storm's wings,
Beneath the vaults of time-lost tombs, sorcerers summon the Shadow-Kings.

All witches fly to me!

Witch of heather, moor and sea, come lay with me as twilight falls,
Grant me the black Elven sword and the draught of immortality,
The scent of night about your flesh, enfold me in this mist of lace,
Your lips grow red by candlelight, my beloved is raven-tressed.
The sky is black with chaos-fiends, spellcraft rides the witch-storm's wings,
Beneath the vaults of time-lost tombs, sorcerers summon the Shadow-Kings.

And now the blossoms fade,
Lost within your dark eyes (I drown within those ebon eyes)
The sweetest tears I taste (glistening upon your lips),
This ichor of your kisses...

Weave thy dark spells, 'neath the bright moon,
Witch-fire is glimmering through sunken marble halls.

The Black Gate opens... blood sates the Ebon Blade...


3)  SPELLCRAFT & MOONFIRE (Beyond The Citadel Of Frosts)

Black stone summoning the eternal power of the winter moon...

Fen-witch revel in ancient spellcraft, beneath a horned and waning moon,
Enchantress, heather-bride a' dreaming, the beckoning gloom enthralls me,
The Lord of Wolves haunts the forest, in brooding winter's icy rapture,
Hoarfrost glimmers 'neath the moon, sorcery opens fiend-haunted pathways before me.

Black Stone summoning the eternal power of the winter moon...

Enthralled by the evil lotus-dreams, witches' eyes agleam with candle-flame,
Nine Elven stones beneath the waves, whispered spells in serpent-tongues,
Gleaming sword in ice enshrined, Chaos-Throne witch-fire entwined,
Marsh grasses swaying 'neath the moon, dark spellcraft summons the Black Gate before me...

Icy waters whispering, Tower of Silence hides the shadow-key,
Ember-trees haunt my fevered dreams, Moon-Bride, sing thine dark enchantment.

The moonless abysses of mid-earth, black basaltic halls of night,
Ghoul-plagued darkness, vale of fiends, amorphous leige bloats and breeds.

Elder shadows writhing before the silvern gate of eternal winter,
Dark shapes entwine the mist-veiled cromlech,
Dynig torchlight gleams on silent black waters,
Fen-wolves sing to the gibbous moon...

Arise from dreams, shape-shifting fiends,
Dance madly 'neath the moon,
To the pipes of bone, anoint the (witches') stone,
Beneath the ancient tomb.


4)  A BLACK MOON BROODS OVER LEUMRIA

Dark baleful shades astride the mystic heath,
Old land's enchantments, wolf-eyes agleam,
The moon slips 'neath the darkling sea,
The trees sing enthralling chants as the old gods dream...

As a black moon broods over Lemuria, ebon witchfire enshrouds the gleaming citadels,
Sinistrous shadows rise from the vaults of the dreaming elder gods,
Ophidian eyes glimmer through the icy whispering moon-mist...

Shimmers of black in the massing dark, moon-frost glistens upon my tongue,
The wraiths have gathered beneath the oak, my soul encased in antediluvian steel,
The shades of pallid night descend, to the ride the slime-flecked jewelled halls,
Enshrined in ice and witches' spells, and silence falls on the marble walls.

By the eldritch glow of black moonfire, the forst-shrouded trees whisper of silent paths,
Brooding shades rise forth from the night-dark sea, a black tide of fiends erupts from the ebon gate.

Shimmers of black in the massing dark, moon-frost glistens upon my tongue,
The wraiths have gathered beneath the oak, my soul encased in antediluvian steel,
The shades of pallid night descend, to ride the slime-flecked jewelled halls,
Enshrined in ice and witches' spells, and silence falls on the marble walls.

Winter moonlight gleams through crooked boughs,
The icy caress of night entwines the eon-veiled Obsidian Tower,
The whisperings of ancient tongues are borne upon the winds,
Dark time-lost spells hold the key to the frost veiled Gate of the Black Moon...

And in the dark ethereal mists of winter dreams,
The ebon waters of enlightment gleam 'neath the black moon,
And the Valley of the Silent Paths beckons...

Slumbering upon the throne of moon-caressed ice,
I have supped deep the draught of white vapours,
Shimmering upon the gleaming garlanded marble,
A single strand of glimmering gossamer...
Beneath the vaults of shadow-haunted tombs,
I see the fire that burns like the black heart of night.
In brooding and sombre visions I hear cries,
Enthralling cries 'neath this frost moon rising
I hear the slithering of forces that seethe serpentine in black gulfs,
In the dark and silent places...
The whisperer in crystal speaks in dreams,
Of silken shadows, and the softest breath of dark enchantment.
Of ancient cyclopean temples, raising jewelled spires to the stars.
There is witchcraft in the moon,
And brooding silence reigns over the woods.
My storm-forged sword (stained with the blood of a thousand slain foes),
Ensorcelled by eon-veiled incantations.
Dark wizards' spells entwine me in ravening shackles,
And black roses draw my blood with thorns as sharp as serpent's tooth...
I fall into the rapturous embrace of sloe-eyed witches,
The moon gleaming upon their ivory bosoms,
And descend into the still, icy waters of the lakes.
Beyond the veil of the North-Winds, I await the emissaries of the tyrant,
The wind whispering across the everlasting snows...
My slumber is as light as a wolf's.

Serpents coil entempled ramparts
Of the sunken jewelled cities,
Wolves of winter's moon are roaming
The temples of the heather gods.
Great worm whose tail rests in its mouth,
The circle-without-end burns bright,
Brood o'er the far night's distant vale,
And shifting heather hill's wandering light.

Like snow that falls on the sea,
Like smoke that rides upon the breeze,
Like hoarfrost that melts before the sun,
Now silence broods over Lemuria...

Shimmers of black in the massing dark, moon-frost glistens upon my tongue,
The wraiths have gathered beneath the oak, my soul encased in antediluvian steel,
The shades of pallid night descend, to ride the slime-flecked jewelled halls,
Enshrined in ice and witches' spells, and silence falls on the marble walls.

"R'acan Ahalgana chamiabac ahalmez ahatocob tocapa chiamiaholom ahchami."

As a black moon broods over Lemuria.


5)  ENTHRONED IN THE TEMPLE OF THE SERPENT KINGS

Ancient cromlech carved of ice, etched against a glimmering sky,
Beneath the pale moonlight, the witch enthralling, (like the sublime) scent of black lotus,
Hailing a black sun with ebon rays, hailing a black moon as onyx agleam,
The dark horn sounds 'cross the nighted vale, shadows call in this bleak winter's dream.

I seize the throne round Dagon's stone, dark hordes arise 'neath winter skies,
Forged 'neath the moon, by Skulthur's tomb, blood-oath sealed, by frost-veiled steel.

White flames dancing on the snow, the witch-fire gleams through Northern skies,
The frost of heather upon her tongue, whispering dreams of Atlantean spires,
Ruby lipped, midnight tressed, eyes as black as raven's wing,
Flesh so pale as dawn-frost gleaming, kisses sweet like moon-dew's tears.
Deep within the glacial ice-veiled temple,
Ancient enchantments summon the shades of the dreaming Serpent Kings...
And the Ophidian Throne once again draws power from the moon-shrouded crystal...
Mystic steel is anointed by the crimson wine of battle, and blood reddens the gleaming snow.

Storm-borne bride of winter's fire, serpent-witch of the whispering fens,
Veils of scarlet and sable, blood spilled in the vault of night,
Frost-garlanded, the mind-binding glimmer of tear-filled ophidian eyes,
The gleam of winter moonlight upon black waters, nighted spells of the enchantress.

Scourge of Angsaar, wielder of the Black Sword,
Immortal Lord of Darkmere, Serpent-Witch ensorcle me.

Black Sun... Black Moon!


6)  SHADOWS 'NEATH THE BLACK PYRAMID

Hearken to the grisly murmur of nameless fiends, black jaws drooling blasphemy,
Beyond the witch-song, darkly sweet, the wyrm-horn sounds 'cross Dagon's mere,
Shadow-gate (portal to the Black Pyramid) yawns wide, beckoning...
Spells scrawled in blood and frosty rime,
Squamous god encoils the onyx shrine, (by the bleeding stone) I am enraptured by ophidian eyes.

Pungent odour of engorged flesh, vaults of eon-veiled horror,
Embraced by delerium, witches' balms anoint me.

Veils of frost entwine me in the haze of baleful moon-cursed dreams,
I hear the High Ones whispering ancient spells in long-dead tongues,
There is the gleam of blackened steel in the flickering torchlight,
And I embrace the balm of sublime forgetfulness...

By the blaze of the burning skulls, beneath the Well of the Black Flame,
In the vaults of the dreaming gods, shackled to the slime-smeared bleeding stone.
Squamous orbs, black sword, drink deep, blood oath.

Supine shapes dancing in the mist, (serpent-tongued) priestess bares her pale flesh,
Shadows crawl to the sundered stones, the Eternal Fiends exult in rapture.

Tomb-worms bloat on carnal blood, trickling onto wraith-carved stone,
Dark laughter echoes through the vaults, black-winged, cruel as envenomed steel.
In the Well of Black Flame, squamous shapes writhe, a dark tide of shadows follows me,
Ravening fiends unleashed to feed, incantations pour in torrents from my lips...

Wraiths and fiends whirl to my bidding...
Horrors 'neath the pyramid.


7)  WITCH-STORM

Silvern skull, sable shroud, ebon tower, onyx crown.
Witchfire, black citadel, frost-shrouded steel, moon-veiled spell.

The skyqueen of the dead rides forth, black storm-borne steeds,
(their flanks anointed by) immortal blood,
Hark to the striking of the winds, the moon burns black as slaughter reigns.
Witch-Storm!

Bright fires agleam through winter's night,
Dark spells whispered on the winds,
The trees enrob'd in veils of frost,
Moonfire entwines the Eye of Khthon.

From the moon-swathed depths of winter-mists, enchantress, she-who-walks-the-night-alone,
Sloe-eyed shape-shifting succubus, silken veils and slime-smeared flesh.
Witch-storm!

Storm-Witch, hearken this night, hone this black blade with sorcery,
Battle-spells annoint my flesh, let blood and steel be my glory.

Elder tongues encarved in sinistrous slime-flecked stone,
The Obsidian Tower broods 'neath the moon,
Winged fiends descend from storm-raught skies,
Black Ring, key to the Shadow Gate, aglow with eldritch spells.

Forged in witchfire, envenomed steel, ensorcelled blade, blood-ravening,
Ebon demon's tooth, the bane of Kings, red rain of slaughter, prow of blood.
WITCH-STORM!


8)  THE RAVENING

Black Legions ravening for blood, Dark Lords hearken to my call,
Warriors rise forth from the earth, battle-spells empower me,
The Throne of Kings, the summoning, marble halls sunk 'neath the waves,
Storm-wolves a prowl (beneath) the ebon moon, immortal hordes, pledge me thine steel!

The clarion call of battle sounds, iron gleams in baleful flame,
Slaughter shines from misted eyes, storm-forged blade drink deep.
Stench of carnage fires my blood, my bride of steel sings in my hand,
Corpse-mounds piled to touch the sky, black fury enshroud me!

Bleed for the gods of war! Flesh to sate the worms!
By this sword I rule!

Dreadful fall of slaughter, raw scent of fresh-spilled blood,
Crimson rain falls from the sky, ravens ride the storm.

Black cloud of arrows, red storm of swords, dark wave of carnage... slaughterfall!

By blood and steel I rule!


9)  INTO THE SILENT CHAMBERS OF THE SAPPHIREAN THRONE
(Sagas from the Antediluvian Scrolls)

Black winds whispering 'cross the fens,
In eldritch coils (jewelled and gleaming) spires entwined
Enraptured by the moon's sweet spells,
'gainst the skies of (bleak and brooding) winter blackly etched.
The Topaz Throne of Kings is crack'd, eon-veiled, enrob'd in black,
Ensorcelled blade glimmers sunset's fire, saga-spinner, take up thy lyre.

"Thus spake the silent halls of Valusia..."

Curses borne on vampyre tongues, elder-fiends, o' nameless ones,
Torches glow in silver cressets, in the Temple of the Serpent,
Waves enshroud where marble gleamed, spectral witch-song rides the gale,
Black wings above the land of dreams, and silence haunts the nighted vale.
Winged dragon coiled in thrice, bane of flame in shadowed ice,                                  
Flooded by the bloated moon, the ivory worm now sleeps entombed.
Ten thousand spear-points gleaming bright, sharp-honed steel in pale dawn's light,
Grim-eyed legions wait brooding, 'neath the banner of the Serpent-King.                      
Winged dragon coiled in thrice, bane of flame in shadowed ice,                                     
Flooded by the horned moon, awake o' worm and quit thy tomb.

"Thus spake the silent halls of Valusia..."

The Atlantean sword beckons me, and I descend from moon-shrouded skies
Into the Tower of the Black Serpent...
Tales are told to me now in dreams, shadowed lyre strings, and sweet whisperings...
The grim and glorious battles of warrior kings, (when the earth ran red with the blood of the slain),
And the shining realm of Valusia...
Carried upon the sweet night winds, piercing the veil of my delirium,
I embrace the rapturous scent of black lotus.

(I hear the lament of the Immortals...)

"Ka nama kaa lajerama, Yagkoolan yok tha xuthalla!"

And lo, I hear the beat of black leathern wings from moonless gulfs,
Dark spirits wander the silent halls of the Sapphirean Throne,
And in dreams I see the oceans rise to devour the gleaming spires,
As the shades of immortals guide me to the Valley of Silent Paths...

Black winds whispering 'cross the fens,
In eldritch coils (jewelled and gleaming) spires entwined,
Enraptured by the moon's sweet spells,
'gainst the skies of (bleak and brooding) winter blackly etched.
The topaz throne of kings is crack'd, eon-veiled enrob'd in black,
Ensorcelled blade glimmers sunset's fire, saga-spinner, take up thy lyre.

Thus spake the Antediluvean Scrolls.


10)  VALLEY OF SILENT PATHS

As the twilight fades, so night casts its black mantle upon the world. The road into darkness is long, and its route perilous. Who amongst us has fortitude enough to take the first steps towards enlightenment? Who amongst us dares tread the darkling path to the Deep Halls, to be rebirthed and remade? You will yet discover what I have always known... you will yet witness that which I have seen. The claws of the blessed and the damned reach far. 

 

All lyrics, stories, names, places, characters and situations copyright 1993, 2006  B.A. Roberts

 

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BAL-SAGOTH : Book II  (Starfire Burning Upon The Ice-Veiled Throne Of Ultima Thule)

 

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  1. Black Dragons Soar Above The Mountain Of Shadows (Prologue)
  2. To Dethrone The Witch-Queen Of Mytos K’unn (The Legend Of The Battle Of Blackhelm Vale)
  3. As The Vortex Illumines The Crystalline Walls Of Kor-Avul-Thaa
  4. Starfire Burning Upon The Ice-Veiled Throne Of Ultima Thule
  5. Journey To The Isle Of Mists (Over The Moonless Depths Of Night-Dark Seas)
  6. The Splendour Of A Thousand Swords Gleaming Beneath The Blazon Of The Hyperborean Empire
  7. And Lo, When The Imperium Marches Against Gul-Kothoth, Then Dark Sorceries Shall Enshroud The Citadel Of The Obsidian Crown (Episode: VIII)
  8. Summoning The Guardians Of The Astral Gate
  9. In The Raven-Haunted Forests Of Darkenhold, Where Shadows Reign And The Hues Of Sunlight Never Dance
  10. At The Altar Of The Dreaming Gods (Epilogue)

 

 

1)  BLACK DRAGONS SOAR ABOVE THE MOUNTAIN OF SHADOWS (Prologue)

The Watcher in Stone:
...And I stand enthralled and silent atop the ancient, shadowed mountain, gazing in awe at the stygian, night-cloaked sky, as above me a wondrous flight of ebon dragons soar on vast wings blacker than the darkling heavens... Mayhap I behold the personal war-dragons of none other than the mysterious and legendary Ophidian King himself, majestically riding the night winds to the glorious field of some great and epic battle... By the gods, a more fearsomely splendid sight in this world there cannot be!


2)  TO DETHRONE THE WITCH-QUEEN OF MYTOS K'UNN (The Legend Of The Battle Of Blackhelm Vale)

The Chronicles of War:
The vast armies of Mytos K'unn, marshalled by a sorceress of great power known as Zyrashana the Witch-Queen, had been cutting a swath through the Eastern Kingdoms since high summer the preceding year. Empowering her troops with great sorceries, she had seen all opposition fall before the ravening swords of her forces since the first bloody campaign; the invasion of the ancient and noble realm of Delania. The aftermath of the final battle had seen the systematic slaughter of the Delanian royal family, and the torture and execution of all those who had been loyal to their banner. During the ensuing months, more kingdoms and satrapies toppled before the might of Zyrashana's legions, commanded by the fearsome and unswervingly loyal battle-lord Talus Ebonfyre, a man of sublime brutality whom many beleived to be possessed by a demon-spirit from the dark realms. Emboldened by their victories and the expansion of their queen's dark dominion, the hordes of Mytos K'unn began the incursion into the lands of the Northern Tribes, beginning with the grim and brooding territories south of the Snow Kingdoms... the rugged homelands of the warlike clans which had been recently united into a strong realm by the powerful warrior-king Caylen-Tor, a man known to his allies and enemies alike as the Wolf of the North. Thinking the barbaric tribesmen little threat, the Witch-Queen intends a largely unopposed march through their lands to strike at the wealthy and fertile realms beyond the Mountain Kingdoms to the west... but Caylen-Tor has vowed that a searing torrent of blood and steel shall meet all those who deign to enter unwelcome or drive their standard unbidden into his land...
As grim winter slowly yields to spring, the armies of Mytos K'unn begin their march northwards, and news of the advance of the Witch-Queen's forces into Blackhelm Vale, the valley known for centuries as the Gate to the Northlands, soon reaches the highland stronghold of Caylen-Tor. Grimly taking up his sword and spear and donning the woad of war, he vows that Zyrashana shall pay in blood for every league she has dared venture into his sacred lands. Scouts soon return with the information that the enemy is camped at the base of the valley, preparing to march with th dawn. The court shamans forsee rivers of blood and untold carnage, and great battle-spells are woven as Caylen-Tor leads his vastly outnumbered Northlander warriors to the misty, moon-swathed expanse that is Blackhelm Vale. Legends say that the blood of many kings has been spilled on the dark earth of the valley over the generations, and Caylen-Tor promises to his grim gods that the earth will once again drink deep this night. With his army silent and brooding beneath the moon, he knows that whatever the outcome, this night shall see a legend of war written in blood and the deaths of men... a legend none shall soon forget...

The War Testament of Caylen-Tor (On the Night of the Bloodying of Swords):
O' grim gods of battle, empower us this night...
Anoint us with the crimson rain, feed our steel with slaughter...
Let every blow be a killing blow, grant us victory, or a warrior's death.
Come, moon-fogs, descend to cloak our numbers, the heady scent of battle beckons,
My ash-hafted spear feels good in my hands, girt 'round with spells (our flesh gloriously) woad anointed,
Ravens awaiting slaughter soar high above, blood-worms bloat on red carnage,
I'll carve the moon-wheel in their flesh, as havoc churns the heather!

A swirling mantle of mist-magic swathes us, powerful spells woven by the Fen-Witches of the Great Mere... Deep night and moon-mist shall be our allies as we surge into the fray! At my bidding, the fog clears for a brief moment, and I gaze down upon the valley to behold the army of the Witch-Queen... great tents arrayed upon the heather, powerful steeds tethered, the light from countless burning brands illumining the night, many warriors standing, weapons in hand... aye, all sword fodder.

Entwined in war-fogs...
Entwined by war-spells...
Blessed in blood as raven-saters, slake the thirst of steel burning bright,
Reap the harvest of spilled entrails, we'll return with many heads this night.
The death-ravening black fury fills me,
The spatter of hot blood seet on my lips,
This yard of steel sings a deadly song in my grasp!
Cleaving bodies left and right, a head falls with each swing of my blade,
A storm of shafts screaming form yew-bows, (through their armoured ranks we shall) carve a path with steel, a blood-drenched swath!

And the thirst of the earth shall be slaked with blood at the fields of carnage...
A staggering sea of crimson, a towering mountain of ravaged flesh,
All enraptured by the searing kiss of steel,
All surfeit from supping deep of the grim chalice of battle...

Brooding gods of the north, display to these outlander thralls thine ire,
Envenom our blades with the death-kiss of a thousand serpents,
Unfetter the dread war-wolves within us,
That their claws may rend, and their jaws may be reddened.

The bloodying is at hand!
My spear hammers into the chest of a warrior, and bright blood erupts from his lips as he falls to the heather. I turn aside a vicious swordthrust and my own blade snakes out to cleave the neck of the attacker, shearing through his veins in a shower of dark red. An enemy blade opens my shoulder to the bone, but I sweep my axe out in a deadly arc, its iron head rending armour and biting deep into flesh. Talus Ebonfyre's abdomen yawns open and he staggers back as his intestines spew forth in a pulsing mass. I sunder his head with another blow as he falls and his skull yields to spill its steaming contents to the earth. As I watch, a writhing, shadowy form rises from the smitten corpse of the Witch-Queen's warlord and flees howling into the night... I vault to the saddle of a riderless black war-horse and seize the banner of Mytos-K'unn... for every one of us that has fallen, we have taken five of the enemy screaming with us... the battle is ours!

Bright moon, gleam o'er moor and heather, wood and vale, deep fen and lake,
Grim mountains crowned with snows, great rings of stones, black 'neath the stars,
The storms extol our ancient glory, great mounds feed us, power from the sacred earth.
With faith and steel we walk our shadowed paths, our blood runs as fire, swords blessed by sorcery.

Wolves of the north, raise thine steel to the skies, revel in the pride of your wounds,
Let our victory-song ride the winds of this blood-gorged eve,
For on this night of red swords we have wrought a legend,
Forged in the fires of our rage, and tempered with the spilled blood of the slain...

O' grim gods of battle, empower us this night and always,
Anoint us with the crimson rain, forever feed our steel with slaughter...
Let every blow be a killing blow, grant us eternal victory, 'til we die a warrior's death.

And so did Caylen-Tor turn the armies of Mytos K'unn back from the frontiers of his northern kingdom. Those enemy soldiers who fled the field as the mist lifted and their banner fell, are hunted down and brought to their knees before the king. Summoning a surviving warrior Mytos K'unn, Caylen-Tor gives unto him two gifts with which to return to his queen; one is the fallen, sundered banner of Mytos K'unn, the other is the cloven head of Talus Ebonfyre. The king's words ring out over the blood-drenched moor: "Take this message back to your queen... if ever again she deigns to strike against my people, the slaughter this night will seem as naught compared to the havoc I shall visit upon her then." When news of the defeat and the fearsome message of Caylen-Tor reached Mytos K'unn, Zyrashana's spells of regal dominance waned, and her many courtiers and councillors, liberated from the imposition of subservience, plotted against their queen, 'til soon she was driven from the great royal palace by her own elite guard, her throne seized by an ambitious baron who had won the favour of the nobles and mages of the realm. Evading inprisonment and surviving only by her mastery of spellcraft, Zyrashana fled to the satrapies of the east, and nothing more was seen or heard of her for some considerable time...


3)  AS THE VORTEX ILLUMINES THE CRYSTALLINE WALLS OF KOR-AVUL-THAA

Kor-Avul-Thaa... finest jewel in the crown of a realm of sublime glory, greatest city in the Middle Kingdoms, mayhap all the world... Its splendid walls of shimmering crystal could be seen from a hundred leagues distant, kissed by the golden rays of the sun, or caressed by the ethereal fingers of a midnight moon. Its magnificent spires and citadels, built by generations of kings from the resplendent gifts hewn from the ancient bosom of the sacred Crystal Mountains, had oft' times been the bitter envy of rival emperors, and many were the sieges which Kor-Avul-Thaa had withstood and repulsed over the centuries, for powerful sorcerers did weave great spells of protection about the dazzling towers, and none may have passed unbidden through the vast sapphirean gates of mighty Kor-Avul-Thaa...

From the Journals of Sage Daelun

The Oracle of Kor-Avul-Thaa:
The sky rent asunder... black-winged devils surge forth from the void...
A maelstrom of crimson fire burns above us... what carnage hast thou wrought?
Not sword, ballistae, nor burning brand
Could e'er these walls aspire to breach,
Yet now the city's fall is nigh,
As elder rites black fiends unleash.

High Lord of the Brotherhood of Dark Elucidation (Keepers of the Forbidden Books of the First Cataclysm):
By Klatrymadon and Zuranthus, such ancient secrets we discovered within these sinistrous, worm-worn pages,
Etched with darksome glyphs and sigils, bound with fearsome spells,
An eldritch tide of stygian sorceries unfettered by the forbidden Tome of Shadows...

Now thunderous cataclysm befalls the gleaming Kor-Avul-Thaa (The mystic gate stands open!)
The Xytaxehedron held to the stars... the incantation uttered with eager tongues...
(What long-shackled powers of the elder dark have our conjurings loosed?)

By Klatrymadon and Zuranthus, the vortex blackens the stars above,
A vast plague of amorphous horrors descends to rend with fang and talon,
(As with torrents of blood the crystalline walls run red!)
And in the glooming chambers of our shadowed sanctum, we wait, half-mad with terror,
To reap the slaughterous harvest which we have sown...

The Chronicler of the Cataclysm:
And beyond the vortex, the churning black waters of the void did disgorge the Dwellers in Eternal Shadow,
And upon a horde of winged horrors, brandishing swords of ebon flame, they rode out from the Gate...
And a terrible silence fell upon Kor-Avul-Thaa...

The Echoes of the Oracle:
The sky rent asunder, black winged devils surge forth from the void...
A maelstrom of crimson fire burns above us... what carnage hast thou wrought?

The Chronicler of the Cataclysm:
The Chronicles of Time speak of only two other instances when the sky did split wide and bleed forth such a torrent of horror as that which assailed Kor-Avul-Thaa... One of those times was the fateful eve when the moon burned black over ancient Lemuria, as a legion of ravening fiends emerged from the Outer Darkness to visit catastrophe upon that realm... And the other... the other manifestation of such a staggering cosmic evil is recorded only in the ancient Scrolls of the Third Circle, a dark collection of terrifying blasphemies which was believed to have been burned by the Order of Kl'aa at roughly the same time as the first Tome of Shadows was discovered deep within the Black Pyramid... These scrolls speak disturbingly of visitations to our earth by creatures from a terrible place known as the Black Galaxy... creatures which were able to span the vast expanses of time and space separating our world from theirs in their great dark chariots, bringing pestilence and carnage whenever they set foot upon the earth... And yet, the scrolls also speak of the Others, known by some ancient, long-dead tribes as the Travelling Ones... beings who did stand against the denizens of the Black Galaxy and wage war with them across the nighted void. It is said that the Travelling Ones sailed the star-seas in huge silvern spheres ringed with a myriad pulsing lights, and that in a great battle they drove their shadowy foes back to the Black Galaxy... but at a great cost... The Travelling Ones were drained of their cosmic powers and cast into a deep slumber, and some say that they remain here still, hidden in mysterious, secret places, awaiting the time of their reawakening. It was ascertained by those mages who found the Tome of Shadows that certain gateways existed linking our world and the Black Galaxy, just as maps carved into the stone walls of ancient tombs displayed the pathway to the terrifying realm through the eternal blackness of the void... and within the sinister pages of the dread book were the arcane keys... the rites to open wide these gates and give the dark wanderers beyond the freedom to roam the earth once again...
And the darkling lords did descend upon Kor-Avul-Thaa to claim their splendid prize, and enthrone themselves within the glittering walls...

The Echoes of the Oracle:
Not sword, ballistae, nor burning brand
Could e'er these walls aspire to breach,
Yet now the city's fall is nigh,
As elder rites black fiends unleash...

The Brotherhood:
By Klatrymadon and Zuranthus, in Kor-Avul-Thaa, darkness reigns eternal...
Nevermore shall the city glimmer, for now the crystalline walls gleam black...
Ever black...

And so it was that the bedazzling and splendid Kor-Avul-Thaa did become the City of Shadows, a sinister fortress of elder fiends and fearsome beasts, unleashed by the meddlings of mortals aspiring to dark thresholds of forbidden knowledge and arcane power, a nightmare city shunned and feared by all. And not since the sinking of Atlantis was the fall of a realm so sorely lamented...

From the Journals of Sage Daelun


4)  STARFIRE BURNING UPON THE ICE-VEILED THRONE OF ULTIMA THULE

Spears agleam in the dying sun,
The blood is spilled, the battle's won,
From the icy throne of God-King shall rule,
When nine stars kiss the moon o'er Ultima Thule.

(Old Northlander war-song, found in the ancient scrolls of Volmyr)

The final part of Voryn Helmsmiter's journey to the Ice Realm:
Blood drips from my frost-encased sword, forming a crimson blossom upon the ice...
My limbs cold, becoming as one with the massing snows... my eyes nearly frozen closed. For how long had we travelled? The memory grows dim, lost in the cruel, searing storm-winds. And now, at last... our quest is at an end. With the blessings of the elders we began our journey beyond the great veil of shadowed glaciers...
They spoke of a prophecy foretold, an ancient and glorious legacy, a quest for the realm of legendry lost to man since before even the Star-Lords descended...
Now, only I survive, my blood spilling to the ice, turning to crimson crystal upon the deeply frozen earth. Elder sorcery crackles and hums all about me, coursing through the sky, the snow... As grim destiny approaches with the freezing boreal gales, and this ancient prophecy unfolds...

Predication of the Elders:
Go, follow the witch-lights in the northern night sky, beyond the great silvern mountains... Let the sacred moon-crystal be your guide, beware the sentinels at the Caverns of Eternal Mist...

Spears agleam in the dying sun,
The blood is spilled, the battle's won,
From the icy throne of God-King shall rule,
When nine stars kiss the moon o'er Ultima Thule.

Swathed in moon-frosts, in icy winds our blazon flying,
Iron gleaming 'neath the stars, black skies ablaze with astral fire,
White wolves (like silent spirits) haunt us, ever northwards, the ice-gem leads us, glimmering,
Powerful spells entwine the shrine of legendry, mighty gates of frozen splendour looming,
When the moon and stars shine as one upon the snows, the ancient ice-gate opens, the prophecy is fulfilled!

Towering, ice-encrusted forms lumber forth from the freezing mist,
(Their eyes shimmering with a fiendish, eldritch malevolance...)
Our steel is raised against their weapons of gleaming crystal, and the virgin snow is rendered crimson by bloodshed in a searing storm of slaughter.
(Wounded, dying, my flesh rent by weapons no human ever forged or wielded, I am beckoned forward by a strange, alluring force from beyond the veil of swirling mists...)

Shadows, images form in the glittering rune-carved walls of this glacial chamber, Secrets frozen within the timeless vaults of eternity...
The throne of the time-lost ice realm, entwined in the mantle of such searing star-born power... This frozen, aeon-cloaked seat of immortal majesty... (of an empire forged long before the vast seas rose in devouring fury!)
What shimmering swords raised in combat once sang with the glorious clamour of steel on steel? What splendid banners, billowing in the icy gales, once heralded the march of these invincible silver-clad legions to the blood-swathed embrace of epic battle? The glory of untold thousands of years past... this ethereal legacy of mighty Ultima Thule. The frozen eyes of immortal kings watch me... such dark splendour!

The Guardian of Ice and Shadow:
The grim Ice-Gods sleep in these frost-bound tombs, illumined by the caress of lunar fire, and the kiss of star-gleam from the stygian void...
All is now as was foretold in prophecy, written in the very ether of empyreal eternity...
The celestial alignment is night... the conjunction is at hand!

And nine stars illumine the northern heavens, a vast cosmic sigil with the silvern moon at its centre... Blazing argent light fills the chamber, engulfing the hewn walls of elder ice, these ancient carvings in a time-veiled tongue (etched into the primeval ice countless aeons ago, now bathed in diaphonous incandescence by this storm of lucent stellar power, their mind-searing meaning at last becomes known to me...), their cosmic secrets unfold... The ice-throne is encased by a shimmering wall of writhing cerulean flame, a lambent flame far colder than the frozen surface upon which it dances...

And then, enlightenment comes, gleaming down upon my consciousness as the bright moon gazes down upon this auroral vista... From my mind is lifted an obscuring veil, a veil induced by sorcerous arts, and I realize I have been merely a vassal of another's twisted will, a pawn in a game which is entwined in treachery and malign aspirations to thresholds of great power. Such a traitorous web has been spun! The elders of my kingdom bow in obeisance to the vile priests of Xothan'kur, and it is their diseased machinations which have urged me here, to the very heart of the far-fabled ice realm... for they seek to usurp the power of the Conjunction, stealing the vast energies of the Ice-Veiled throne and absorbing them into their own leprous, undead bodies, perpetuating the adoration of their abhorrent liege for countless ages, liberating his vile will and enslaving the realms of the world... Aye, for generations they have plotted their actions, and I was the key to this plot, chosen from birth for this fated journey... for the blood of the ancient kings of Ultima Thule runs strong in my veins, and only once every aeon may one such as I stand before the throne during the great cosmic alignment, when the sorceries of the ancient Ice-Gods are at their peak, and rightfully wield this power unleashed... And yet I vow that the vile minions of Xothan'kur shall not prevail... Liberating the fettered power of the moon-crystal, I sever the tendrils of their dark conjurings, and their aspirations are at an end, their spells broken by the very power which they sought to usurp! The final vestiges of mortal life flee my body in crimson gouts, and at last I realize what the fates have spun for me, and what is carved in the very ice all about me... My destiny is at hand...

The Herald of Enlightenment:
And so, enrob'd by tendrils of starfire and the raiments of lunar mist, the immortal liege whose sceptred empire is eternity, sits enthroned and brooding over his dark realm once more.
The last of my life's blood spills to the ice, (as star-wrought destiny is at last fulfilled.) Swathed in freezing flame...
The mystic wolves of the frost-moon (slowly, silently) encircle me, their eyes are blazing azure, and their fur is whiter than the sublime snows.
Such power! I am the Chosen... the secrets of the earth and the stars are unlocked before me... I am destined to reign forever... to reign from the Ice-Veiled Throne of Ultima Thule!


5)  JOURNEY TO THE ISLE OF MISTS (Over The Moonless Depths Of Night-Dark Seas)

The log of the Northern Mariner:
The great serpent-prow of my ship, Wave-Render, cleaves the nighted waters as we voyage across this dark, icy sea, towards the unknown... Above, the bright winter's moon emerges from a veil of cloud to cast its lucent rays upon us, and a clinging, supine sea-mist writhes upon the midnight waves, swirled by the cool, whispering wind which catches our great sail, pushing us onwards, ever onwards... And beyond the tang of the darkling sea, the scent of night is as strong and heady as a summer blossom. I know not what awaits us at the elder Isle of Mists... that grim and mystery-haunted place which beckons me to its shadowed embrace, swathed in dark legendry and entwined in the mantle of ancient sorceries... and yet I must hearken to its ethereal call... for mayhap the gods have decreed this to be my final voyage...


6)  THE SPLENDOUR OF A THOUSAND SWORDS GLEAMING BENEATH THE BLAZON OF THE HYPERBOREAN EMPIRE (Part: I)

ALTARUS: Gaze deep into the mists with your spirit-eyes, Xerxes... look far, and tell me what you see.
XERXES: I see a land far to the north... a vast empire of dark endless moors and snow-crowned mountains... a land of brooding citadels and warrior-kings who hail to grim gods.
ALTARUS: Look well, Xerxes, for enlightenment hides within the fog-swathed vales of Hyperborea...

Chapter 1: The King's Dream:

By the onyx sceptre of my forefathers, the air is churning with auguries of dethronement... Impending dread thus prophesized!
In a dream I was bade ride the argent-eyed unicorn to the Ring of Stones...
There a torrent of viscid slime assailed me, as pipes and horns sang the clarion of my dissolution... And the usurpation of my ancient azure throne.
Assassins stalk the nighted halls of my palace... poisoned blades and chalices surround me. I thirsted for a balm, but my thirst was slaked by an envenomed draught.
My swordarm shackled by tendrils of sloth... enthralled by the chasmed gloom...
Borne upon wings of labyrinthine dread... I awaken!
I shall seek the counsel of the sorcerer, keeper of the ancient scrolls of wisdom, and the Crystals of Power...

The Words of the Sorcerer:
My liege, great and regal king... the mists disclose their secrets... you are destined to wield a great dark power. Drink deep of the potions of the apothecary, for upon thee now I bestow a shard of the mystic Crystal of Mera... sacred artefact of the Atlantean mages, won in battle by our legions. My liege, the Crystal of Mera shall unveil the truth lurking hidden in thy most fever-haunted dreams...

The Voice of the Harbinger:
The land awash with spilled blood, and viscera torn forth from the sundered dead...
Gorge the earth with flesh darkened with the claw and fang of war... rent open the ravenous maws of worms...
The King:
The Crystal illumines dark secrets, the truth is known... a dire and ancient threat is ranged against me.
Hearken, the clarion is upon the winds, now the call to arms is upon us all,
Grim warriors, take up thy spears and hone thy gleaming swords.
Archers, string thy bows, brave knights, saddle the steeds of war,
The glory of battle is nigh at last, our banner shall fly this day in victory!

My warriors, a legacy shall this day be wrought by our blades, decreed by the gods,
Blessed by the blood of vanquished foes. Our destiny beckons...

Lord Angsaar, Dark Liege of Chaos:
Come, great king of Hyperborea, march against me with your splendid legions and shimmering swords. I, the Bane of the Atlantean Kings, the Scourge of Lemuria, Archfoe of the Immortals of Ultima Thule, shall crush you! I shall visit a thousand plagues upon your realm, and wreak untold havoc and bloody carnage until I have your throne... and your soul!

Chapter 2: The Immortal's Legacy

ALTARUS: And thus, flanked by the splendour of azure banners, a vast army marched forth from the great walls of the Imperial City of Hyperborea, and at the forefront of the mighty legions, astride an ebon war-stallion, rode the king, sunlight glinting upon his splendid armour... compelled by dreams, and guided by the Crystal of Mera...
XERXES: Where? Where did the king's path take him?
ALTARUS: The king was compelled to lead his forces to the shadow-haunted Mountains of the Dead, a grim and brooding place steeped in dark and ancient legendry. Alone he rode into the gaping maw of a huge cave hewn into the side of the tallest mountain countless ages past by unknown hands. For three full days and nights he did not emerge from the cave... until, at last, he rode forth from the eldritch mountain once more, a terrible knowledge shadowed in his icy eyes, and bearing in his gauntleted fist a huge black sword, a magnificent ebon blade which no human blacksmith ever forged. Fearsome sorcerous power crackled within the yard of black steel, dancing upon its searingly honed, glyph-scored blade... and its bejewelled, dragon-carved hilt did whisper arcane secrets to the king in a strange, elder tongue.
XERXES: But master, what powers did this blade possess? What secrets did it hold?
ALTARUS: Many centuries ago, before even were waged the Great Wars between the ancient kingdoms of Atlantis and Hyperborea, Lord Angsaar did rise from his charnel-tomb and do battle with a powerful immortal warrior-shaman over the possession of the elder Crystals of Mera, mystic gems of unparalleled magical potency. Angsaar, his power swelled by forces from the vast Outer Darkness, did smite his foe to the brink of destruction... but, with his fading sorceries, the immortal mystically transferred his life-essence into his great black sword, and scattered the magic crystals across the galaxy, leaving Angsaar with a hollow victory and forcing him to return once more to his dark Chamber of Slumber. The sword was lost for centuries, as were the crystals, until the one gem to remain on this world was discovered deep beneath the northern seas by an ancient Atlantean wizard. And the sword... legends spoke of how its final resting place would be made known by the sorceries of the last crystal only when the blade's power would once again be needed to battle the Chaos-liege. This was the immortal's final, most powerful spell... upon the reawakening of Angsaar, the sorcerous energies and undying lifeforce encased within the blade would be transferred to its wielder... aye, the one who discovered the Shadow-Sword would be imbued with the power of the immortal, and by the art of elder spellcraft, he would do battle with his ancient nemesis once more...
XERXES: Then there looms such a cataclysmic battle!
ALTARUS: And so, from his Black Citadel, the Chaos-liege did send forth his Horde of Wraiths to engage the army of the king...

Chapter 3: The Arrival Upon The Field Of Blood

The King:
Behold, a legion of undead fiends meets us upon the field of war.
Face me, Scourge of Lemuria, I wield thine bane, the Shadow-Sword... (and darksome sorceries now empower me with thunderous might!)
Hearken, the clarion is upon the winds, now the call to arms is upon us all,
The glory of battle is nigh at last, into the fray we ride!

XERXES: The outcome, master... who left the field victorious? Did the king prevail?
ALTARUS: The mists begin to disperse... for now, the images fade. That tale shall have to wait 'til another day...


7)  AND LO, WHEN THE IMPERIUM MARCHES AGAINST GUL-KOTHOTH, THEN DARK SORCERIES SHALL ENSHROUD THE CITADEL OF THE OBSIDIAN CROWN  (Episode: VIII)

From Sage Daelun's "Chronicles of Antediluvia, volume XVIII:
(Episode I: The Fall of the Shadow-King)
(Episodes II & III: The History of the Great Wars) 
(Episodes IV-VI: The Rise of the Imperium) 
(Episode VII: The Quest for the Trinity of Might)
Episode VIII: And Lo, When The Imperium Marches Against Gul-Kothoth, Then Dark Sorceries Shall Enshroud The Citadel Of The Obsidian Crown  (here recounted on the second Bal-Sagoth album; "Starfire Burning Upon The Ice-Veiled Throne Of Ultima Thule)
Episode IX: The Obsidian Crown Unbound (The Legions of the Imperium Storm the Cloud-Capped Palisades of Gul-Kothoth)
(recounted on the sixth Bal-Sagoth album; "The Chthonic Chronicles")
Episode X: The Shadow King Reborn
Episode XI: The Battle of the Nine Armies (the War of the Crown)
Episode XII: The Great Rebellions and the Dissolution of the Imperium

Chapter 9: The Voyage of the Sorcerer

The war between the Imperium and the allied Vyrgothian Kingdoms had raged for years. Beginning as minor disputes over border territories, the conflict had swiftly escalated into a full-scale bloody war, a vast series of epic campaigns, fervently perpetuated by the Emperor Koord and the Over-King of Vyrgothia, both eager to smite their traditional ancestral foes and to win great glory and the adulation of their people by seizing victory in battle. Recent months had seen the forces of the Imperium display a staggering degree of tactical mastery and battle prowess, contemptuously crushing the Vyrgothian armies in a series of great battles, 'til at last, following the slaughterous Rout of the Fields of Kai-Vorg, the Empire's finest fighting force, the famed and far-feared Legion of the Ebon Tiger, stood unopposed not five day's march from mighty Gul-Kothoth, the greatest and most ancient fortress-city in all the Vyrgothian kingdoms. The Legion of the Ebon Tiger could not easily count their numerous and resounding victories, and their commander, the legendary warlord Baalthus Vane, made it clear to the Emperor that he was eager to press on deep into the enemy's lands and seize the prize which awaited him; the siege and capture of ancient Gul-Kothoth! And yet the Emperor Koord did not order the Legion to march, for disturbing information had of late been relayed to him by his spies in the Vyrgothian Royal Court... Dire rumours abounded that the Vyrgothian mages had at last discovered the ancient arcane rites which would unlock the aeons-fettered power of the dread Obsidian Crown, a fearsome mystical artefact countless thousands of years old, a black-jewelled circlet believed once to have been borne upon the immortal brow of the legendary Shadow-King himself! And it was written in legend, that should the ancient spells of might entwining the artefact be reawakened, then incredible near limitless ruinous power would thus be bestowed upon any army carrying the Crown into battle... Had the mages of Vyrgothia truly ascertained the time-lost conjurations required to empower the Obsidian Crown, hidden for centuries deep within the marble vaults of its ebon citadel? Eager to know the truth, the Emperor dispatched his most powerful sorcerer across the great Inland Sea to the Court of the Over-King, under the pretence of offering the terms for the Vyrgothian surrender. He was bade use all his sorcerous skills to discover the truth... a truth soon made clear by the disdainful refusal of the Imperium's terms, and the grimly fearsome message given the sorcerer by Vyrgothia's Master Wizard, with which to return to the Emperor: "And lo, when the Imperium marches against Gul-Kothoth, then dark sorceries shall enshroud the Citadel of the Obsidian Crown..."

The Wizards of Vyrgothia:
Darkly bejewelled circlet of night,
Crown of the Elder King,
Unfettered at last the Trinity of Might,
The sceptre, the sword, and the ring.

The Sorcerer:
I stand upon the oaken planks of this great ship (the splendid flagship of the Imperium's navies), gazing at moon-gleam dancing on the vast, dark sea...
(And in my mind I behold) black crystals gleaming... ensorcellment!
I am enthralled by this nighted spell... for I know that the slumbering sorceries
of the Shadow-King's crown shall soon be reawakened...
And as I return to my emperor (shackled to such woefully grim tidings), my spirit is borne upon the leathern wings of a great sorrow...

Chapter 10: The March of the Imperium

The Emperor:
Call forth the Ogre-Mage of the Black Lake and the Swordmaster of Kyrman'ku,
Let them speak the Words Which Unfetter...
Enshrined for countless centuries, within its darksome citadel,
Five score and ten against the Tiger, (curse) the black crown of the Shadow-King!
By all the dark gods, I swear I'll not be dethroned!
A seething forest of blackened blades,
A churning sea of ebon war-chariots,
A searing storm of flaming shafts,
All this havoc and more shall I unleash against my foe...
Into battle! The Legion shall march... the fall of Gul-Kothoth is nigh!

The Legion of the Ebon Tiger... six thousand elite warriors of the Imperium, the pride of the Emperor's forces... Bolstered by heavy cavalry, and a squadron of deadly scythed chariots... further reinforced by the Imperial Frontier Army of one hundred thousand highly trained spearmen and archers... and never has this force met its match in battle or siege...

Baalthus Vane:
Our banner flies ever glorious, undefeated we stand, steeped in victory.
The Iron Phalanx, six thousand strong, our ever-honed blades, the Tiger's gleaming claws. Pride of the Empire, Scourge of the Vraii, masters at Turonium, and Kai-Vorg.
Smiters of the Southern Host, routers of the Horde, Bane of the Over-King, we march to war!

And so, the Emperor himself rides to rendezvous with Baalthus Vane, accompanied by his sorcerous aide. The Legion of the Ebon Tiger reaches Gul-Kothoth at dusk on the fifth day of their march from the fields of Kai-Vorg, halting upon the great arid plan which stretches before the city, the huge dust cloud sent up by their massed arrival obscuring the dying embers of the setting sun. As the vast army begins to make camp, arraying their splendid tents and banners, and assembling their gargantuan siege-wagons, the Emperor stands gazing at the huge brooding walls and colossal cyclopean gates of the city-fortress before him, vowing that a torrent of red slaughter shall befall Gul-Kothoth, regardless of any sorcerous trinkets the Vyrgothians may possess, and that the Over-King shall pay dearly for his sublime arrogance. And twelve leagues distant, an army of five score and ten, bearing the Obsidian Crown, approaches the city...

(To be continued in Episode IX, including the chapter "The Wizards Do Battle")


8)  SUMMONING THE GUARDIANS OF THE ASTRAL GATE

It is written in the ancient legends... that high amidst the moon-swathed peaks of the great Mountain of Shadows, hides the aeon-weary threshold of the Astral Gate... the portal from our world, to beyond...
It is said that one who holds the key and knows the empyreal incantation may stand within the ancient ring of stones atop the mountain when the stars are correctly aligned, and unlock the mystic gate, summoning its sidereal sentinels, thereby attaining ultimate enlightenment and wisdom unparalleled...

Part 1: THE INVOKING

(The Aspirant Reaches The Summit)

Keepers of the cosmic threshold, my ascent has been fraught with terror, death-steeped, storm-hammered. (These grim mountains are strewn with the bones of the ill-fortuned dead.)
O' Guardians of the Astral Gate, the spheres blaze at last in trine... I hold the Key!
(The trinity of stars shall touch the circle of stones once more...)
The incantation of Xuk'ul is known to me, the Orb of Summoning earned with bloodshed!
(The crystalline key to the Outer Realms and the arcane rite to empower it are at last mine, seized at swordpoint from the citadel of the Black Templars. Enlightenment awaits!)

Many years ago, the mystic Orb of Summoning was seized by the mysterious Black Templars, a band of sombre, plunder seeking knights from the kingdoms to the east of the Great Sea. They wrested the sorcerous gem from the ancient shrine of Azaimedes, where it had lain hidden for countless centuries, its true power and purpose known only to the dour shamans who tended to the elder place of worship. It is said that the tapestry of slaughter woven that day was unparalleled in its ferocity, and that the marble walls of the ancient shrine were, and still remain, stained vivid crimson with the spilled blood of the Orb's keepers.

Ka-kur-ra, I summon thee,
Zul'tekh Azor Vol-thoth.
Mighty Xuk'ul arise,
Kur'oc Gul-Kor, come forth.

I hold aloft the pulsing orb, astral spheres, empower the mystic key.
Ring of elder stones entwined in prophecy, the Rite of Invocation enthralls thine power.
Replete from drinking deep of darkness, black shapes dancing 'twixt the stones,
Lucent beams lancing forth from the gleaming, cepheid stars, a creeping mist ensorcells my tongue...

A great stillness binds the moon-cloaked mountaintop in glooming shackles...
(high above, the myriad stars gleam bright against the night sky, three more resplendently bedazzling than the others, their sidereal auras engulfing the stones),
and the central stone of the ancient ebon ring begins to pulsate with a darksome energy... A thunderous maelstrom ablaze with writhing celestially spawned power then rends the stygian night... (a vast shimmering aperture, a vortex of heliacal fire... the pathway to beyond beckons!)
The Astral Gate is open...
The Guardians have awakened...

XUK'UL: Impudent mortal! You dare summon us? If 'tis elucidation you seek, you shall have it!

Such searingly terrible stellar majesty... my sanity is lashed like a vessel on a storm-wracked sea. What price this invocation? Shall the singing stars claim my very mind?

Part 2: The Journeying

To countless worlds we travel, riding the endless black seas 'twixt the stars... the ebon oceans of infinity... flying through a thousand suns, then watching their light fade, as if it were but a flickering candleflame snuffed by the wind. As beings of pure energy we become one with the vastness, transcending the ethereal walls of time, spanning at once this celestial eternity, and yet existing as no more than a mote of dust within the vista of its endlessness... Journeying beyond...

The threshold looms, (the star-way between dimensions stretches before me...)
The Gate To That Which Lies Beyond yawns wide...
Unspeakable forces gibber and pulsate in the Outer Darkness... Elder horrors dwell here, things which were ancient and revelled in sublime galactic malevolence when even Xuk'ul was naught but a bloated cosmic maggot, writhing and suckling at the breast of its amorphous mother... They-Who-Lurk-And-Breed-In-Limbo... the squamous sovereigns of the elder void!

Primal terror drags my essence screaming back from the threshold.
The ichor of pestilent tongues clings to me, tendrils probing, the ire of fiends!

The ravening black worms of madness are devouring the shredded remnants of sanity as I return to my slumbering steel-clad body... but as the dream-veil lifts, I feel my limbs transform, flesh becoming cold stone... enshrouded by a dark mantle of obsidian. And the laughter of the Guardians echoes, carried upon the winds of this spectral eve. Such is the price of enlightenment.
And so, a new brooding sentinel of stone joins the others on the nighted mountain top... standing silently in the ancient circle of truth, standing... waiting,
Beneath the stars.


9)  IN THE RAVEN-HAUNTED FORESTS OF DARKENHOLD, WHERE SHADOWS REIGN AND THE HUES OF SUNLIGHT NEVER DANCE

The Words of the Forest-King on the Eve of the Nexus:
I am the immortal King of the Deep Woods,
Servitor of the Old Gods of the Forest,
I hear the whispered words of the trees,
Such ancient secrets they sing...
Swaying serpents ring my oak-hewn throne,
Night and shadow are my hunting dogs,
Ravenous, they howl to be unshackled,
That their maws may be glutted (with the blood of my foes).
Raven's claw... tooth of the wolf.
Ancient trees my brooding sentinels,
Gnarled branches clawing the nighted heavens,
Spirits who dwell in shadow, unfurl thy darkling wings,
Awaken, o' elder creatures of this sylvan realm,
Stalk once more this ebon-cloaked eve.
I hear the whispered words of the trees,
Such ancient secrets they sing...

I stand now at the anvil,
Adamantine hammer in my hand,
In thunder-song the steel I smite,
A clarion heard throughout this land.

(Yawning wide beneath me...) the jaws of the worm...
(Hearken, the spell is woven...) the call of the worm...
Raven's claw... tooth of the wolf

Ablaze upon the Altar of Stone,
The Sigil of An-rayuth, the summoning!
Folk of the Mist, Dwellers in Shadow,
The thrice-blessed wand of the Wood-Gods is beckoning!
At the aeon-swathed Shrine of the Oak I kneel,
O' Oracle of the Great Forest, hear me this night...

The Sylvan Oracle Speaks:
The gods of the earth and sky are watching, the circle is nigh on complete... the nexus is at hand. But hearken... for a new enemy approaches from the east... an enemy who hide their poisoned blades behind words of falsehood sweetened with the ichors of carrion, to bind men's minds with fetters of deceit. Speak now, o' Liege of the Deep Woods, Master of Darkenhold, and the enemy shall hear you...

The Forest-King:
Yes... I behold now the face of the encroaching foe... Hear my oath! You, clad in gleaming robes of sparkling saffron, engorged with the mindless adoration of countless thralls who bend the knee in flaccid obeisance... 'neath thine vestments hides the rank stench of leprous corruption! Bring not thine cursed icons into my ancient realm... your words of untruth shall not be heard here! My steel is honed and thirsting for your life-ichors... aye, and with my dying breath I'll spit defiance in your face!

Upon my great throne hewn of ancient oak I brood...
My mantle, the leaves stirred by the whispering of the wind.
The elder gods of the Deep Woods gaze grimly down upon me...
My blood courses through the trees and the earth...
And I watch in silence, ebon-eyed and raven-winged,
From every bough of my kingdom...

The Lament of the Trees:
Can you not remember? Have you forgotten the magic?
Sing to us your spells once more, and the ancient forest shall dance to your words...

The Forest-King:
I stand now at the anvil,
Adamantine hammer in my hand,
In thunder-song the steel I smite,
A clarion heard throughout this land.                                                                                                 

Song of the Wood Wizard:
Can you not see the coils of the worm all about you?
Can you not hear the writhing of the worm beneath you?
Can you not scent the breath of the worm riding the wind?
Can you not touch the skin of the worm in all that surrounds you?
Can you not taste the ichors of the worm upon your tongue?
Do dreams of the worm not haunt your slumber?

The Forest-King:
I hear the whispered words of the trees,
Such ancient secrets they sing...


10)  AT THE ALTAR OF THE DREAMING GODS (Epilogue)

Come, dark night... deep night,
Sweep away the fading embers of the cruel sun,
Let me at last dream 'neath the moon's sweet light,
For the quest is over, and the long day's done...

(Translation of glyphs discovered carved into the surface of the mysterious Black Altar Stone.)

 

All lyrics, stories, names, places, characters and situations copyright 1993, 2006  B.A. Roberts

 

TOP

 

BAL-SAGOTH: Book III  (Battle Magic)

 

lemuria

  1. Battle Magic
  2. Naked Steel (The Warrior’s Saga)
  3. A Tale From The Deep Woods
  4. Return To The Praesidium Of Ys
  5. Crystal Shards
  6. The Dark Liege Of Chaos Is Unleashed At The Ensorcelled Shrine Of A’zura-Kai (The Splendour Of A Thousand Swords Gleaming Beneath The Blazon Of The Hyperborean Empire Part: II)
  7. When Rides The Scion Of The Storms
  8. Blood Slakes The Sand At The Circus Maximus
  9. Thwarted By The Dark (Blade Of The Vampyre Hunter)
  10. And Atlantis Falls...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1)  BATTLE MAGIC

Sorcerers and shamans, weave your spells of war,
Ensure our mighty sword-arms are the strongest and the quickest.
Entwine us with great battle magic 'til we stand knee-deep in gore,
And by all the gods, we'll ride to where the fray rages the thickest!

The war-song of the Wolves of Caylen-Tor,
as heard at the Battle of Blackhelm Vale.


2)  NAKED STEEL (The Warrior's Saga)

Legends etched into the ancient stone dolmens on the Dark Moors...

THE ORACLE OF WAR: The crows will pick your bones clean... never sweet the kiss of cold steel.

The Exultation of Battle...

THE WARRIOR:
Blades aflame with witch-fire burning,
Bright swords blessed by nine king's blood,
The elf-witch weaves war-spells upon us,
Neath the wolf-moon's gaze we shall slake our steel!

THE WARRIOR: Battle Magic empowers my thews!
THE ORACLE OF WAR: The crows will pick your bones clean...
THE WARRIOR: Red-Tooth thirsts to smite and slaughter!
THE ORACLE OF WAR: Never sweet the kiss of cold steel...

THE SHAMAN'S DECREE:
Born beneath the thrice-cursed cromlech (destined for deeds of greatness),
Three stars aligned to assauge thine newborn cries,
Foretold, the hilt of Red-Tooth awaits thine hand (kingdoms shall fall before thee!),
And in the Nine Scrolls thine death prophesized.

THE WARRIOR:
The clarion of battle beckons me... Red-Tooth crackles with searing spectral energy. Aye, emperors and kings shall perish beneath my blade! The head of the Eastern Chieftan adorns my spear... I've a throne to usurp! INTO THE THICK OF THE FRAY!

THE SHAMAN'S DECREE:
This heart that pounds like a hammer,
This heart that pounds so strong,
This heart that pumps a great warrior's blood,
This heart will pound for half as long.

THE WARRIOR'S VOW:
By all the gods... I swear the ireful edge of dwarf-forged steel shall meet all who dare stand against me! My destiny awaits... I shall carve my path in carnage, and inscribe my saga upon the scrolls of legendry in the spilled blood of slaughtered kings!

THE ORACLE OF WAR: Carnage! And the crows shall feast upon the eyes of the slain!

The final dolmen of the Dark Moors is mysteriously missing, believed removed thousands of years ago by troll war-bands as a trophy of battle...


3)  A TALE FROM THE DEEP WOODS

The ravens are on the wing!

My scramasax is red (stained with the blood of many Mercian warriors),
The ravens are on the wing,
By Offa's decree I am an outlaw,
Branded wolfshead by my own king.
(The orm-garth awaits me, darkly astir with ophidian malice...)

The ravens are on the wing!

Ash for our spear-hafts,
Yew for our bow-staves,
Oak for our deck planks,
Oak and elder our shields.

Hail, o' great liege of the ancient woods, ruler of the deepest forest... you, who were reigning o'er your time-veiled kingdom centuries before the arrogant men who proclaim themselves kings of this island ever supped of life's bitter-sweet draught...

I give you my hail,
I give you my blood,
I give you my life,
O' sylvan liege.

My life bleeds forth unto the earth (from many deep and dire wounds),
To slake your roots, great old king... (as I rest my battle-ravaged body against thee.)

The ravens are on the wing!

Ten leagues ride on lathered steed,
Gold in hand to a sword-for-hire,
A blood-eagle carved by Saxon steel,
And two score slain earns royal ire.

Gwynedd lies two days westwards,
Still further south, the weregeld calls.
Mayhap with All-Father Woden's favour,
My deeds may yet inspire the skalds.

Litha's moon gleams high o'er the tallest oak,
Ancient king in this sylvan court of elm, ash and yew,
The wood-spirits watch from gnarled bough and bole,
As I pull two Mercian shafts from my bloodied thews.

The ravens are on the wing!

I give you my hail,
I give you my blood,
I give you my life,
O' sylvan liege.

Beneath the oak, I rest, bone weary,
Thirsting for a horn of ale or jug of mead,
And yet how could a heathen man wish for any more,
Than the healing balms of English trees?

The ravens are on the wing!


4)  RETURN TO THE PRAESIDIUM OF YS

I was spawned deep beneath the Pre-Cambrian sea, the scion of a far distant sun...
I have traversed the endless stars, and journeyed to a myriad galaxies...
The dimensional gates of the multiverse are mine to voyage effortlessly beyond,
Cosmic infinity is naught to one such as I... I am as one with celestial eternity...
Clad in gleaming pentlandite armour, on a whim I may reshape entire worlds,
Or extinguish the blazing light of a sun... and I remain forever enchanted by sylphs...

I have seen demons lick your ivory hands,
And watched you ride naked upon the backs of fire-dragons...
Your eyes sparkle clear as hoar-frost,
And yet they are thrice as devoid of warmth.

Wielding this power cosmic, the omniverse is mine to conquer!
Our progency shall rule the very cosmos itself!

Arcane power lances from my fingertips,
Life withers before my baleful gaze.
The proud citadels of great antediluvian empires
Have been razed to the ground by my zircon blade.

Your invocations unleashed the great worm
Which compelled the devouring seas to Atlantis...
Riding the screaming crest of fettered ions,
I shall bring my crystalline chaos where order reigns!

Return with me... beyond the stars...
Rule with me... a thousand worlds...

The Galactic Nexus has empowered me (I am gloriously, eternally omnipotent!)
And as a god I shall return to the Praesidium of Ys!


5)  CRYSTAL SHARDS

I stand engulfed by the moon-magic of a winter eve's dream,
Enraptured by bloodlust, and nine fire-gems ablaze,
I am beckoned by sylph-spells and the jewelled sword a'gleam,
As the great war-fleet of Ys sails the crystalline waves.


6)  THE SPLENDOUR OF A THOUSAND SWORDS GLEAMING BENEATH THE BLAZON OF THE HYPERBOREAN EMPIRE  (Part II:  The Dark Liege Of Chaos Is Unleashed At The Ensorcelled Shrine Of A'zura-Kai)

ALTARUS: You must learn to control your spirit-form, Xerxes... for by mastering the art of traversing the mists you may effortlessly travel to many places, and many times. Countless secrets will be unlocked for you, and great enlightenment shall be yours.
XERXES: Yes, master... and yet, there is one realm which intrigues me above all others, one era which occupies my thoughts unceasingly... What of the clash between the Royal Army of Hyperborea and the Wraiths of the Chaos-Liege?
ALTARUS: Ah, yes... command the mists, Xerxes... gaze into their limitless depths... compel them to show you that martial vista which you so fervently seek.
XERXES: Yes... I see the massing forces, the battle is imminent! How splendid the Imperial Army looks as it fronts the foe... into the fray they ride!

Chapter 4: The Bloodying of the King (The Armies of the Hyperborean Empire steadfastly engage the Horde of Wraiths)

THE KING:
Imperial Cavalry... advance! RIDE THEM DOWN!
In to the fray! Demonstrate unforgettably the art of Hyperborean warcraft!
Spearmen, form into Omega Phalanx.
Archers, notch arrows, prepare to loose.
Warriors, stand ready... Sound the clarion!

Hearken, sons of the glorious Empire...
Here we stand upon the Field of Blood...
Though this day we may die,
Our legend shall live forever.

ALTARUS: And the armies met upon the Field of Blood which stretched lifeless before the aeon-veiled citadel which men called the Shrine of A'zura-Kai, a mysterious and foreboding place steeped in ireful omens and legendary dread... Aye, the carnage of that first clash was phenomenal. The Hyperborean Cavalry tore gloriously into the foremost rank of the shadow-warriors, the enchantment of the Crystal of Mera rendering the squamous pseudo-flesh of the wraiths fully vulnerable to the steel of the royal legions. The king himself rode at the forefront of the onslaught, his ensorcelled ebon blade hewing ten to the left and cleaving ten to the right, his grim eyes gleaming beneath his shimmering horned and plumed helm. The momentum of that first charge threw the dark ones into shrieking disarray, and the vanguard of Chaos fell back before the thundering resolve of the Imperial attack. But the baleful, poisoned blades of the wraiths took their toll upon the Hyperborean horsemen. Raught by leprous swords and spears, men and mounts fell screaming to the dusty earth, where they were mercilessly rent and devoured by the slavering jaws of the Chaos-Liege's minions. Aye, glorious was the courage of the royal warriors, admirable was their mettle... for every Imperial Knight felled by the dark ones, five wraiths met their deaths beneath the slaughterfall of royal steel. And yet it was not enough. Like a slithering tide, the shadows engulfed the cavalry, and the bloodied king ordered the Hyperboreans to ride clear and regroup. Then, with volleys of shafts as their herald, and the Battle-Prayer of Hyperborea upon their lips, the Imperial Guard marched into the ravening embrace of the melee, and never in the grim and sanguineous history of battle was there a clash to rival the slaughterous magnitude of that awesome engagement...

THE ARCH-WRAITH:
Minions of Chaos, rend their flesh, crush their bones, devour their souls!

Chapter 5: Havoc at the Shrine of A'zura-Kai

THE KING:
Onwards with our spear-heads gleaming,
Meet them with cold steel a'cleaving,
Fall only when our hearts cease beating,
Men of Hyperborea.

ALTARUS: At the King's command, the clarion was sounded to move the battle-hardened veterans of the Seventh Fen-lander Army into a flanking position to unite with the remnants of the Royal Cavalry. Like a purifying storm the allied Imperial forces clove into the wraiths to deal righteous pattern-welded death unto their nighted foe. But at that moment, black terror descended screaming from the twilight sky... howling swarms of winged fiends, hurled forth from the malignant bosom of Lord Angsaar, soared razor-taloned into the fray. Beseiged man-to-fiend upon the field, and harried from above by the shrieking horrors of the Chaos-Liege, the Hyperborean Army began to falter, and to fall. And lo, beholding the carnage, the King raised high in his left hand the ancient Crystal of Mera, and in his right gauntlet he brandished the Bane of Angsaar, the dread Shadow-Sword once wielded by the Chaos-Liege's immortal nemesis... and he spoke aloud the terror-fraught and aeon-swathed words of invocation which he alone had been audience to deep within the shadow-haunted Mountains of the Dead...

THE KING:
By the darkling powers of the Shadow-Sword, I call forth the fury of the storm to rend the massed legions of Chaos!

ALTARUS: And at the sound of his baleful Words of Power, the sky split wide in fury, and searing tendrils of ruinous lightning lanced inexorably forth from the heavens to rake and reave the massed hordes of Chaos...
XERXES: The fearful spells he had learned from the Mountain... did their casting win the battle for the King's legions?
ALTARUS: The fiends were dealt a staggering blow by the sorcerous incantations, the power of the spells inexplicably magnified by the enchantments of the Crystal. The Wraiths were routed soundly by the elder magics, fleeing the field howling their anathemas and maledictions against the King, and the winged horrors fell seared and burning from the enraged sky. But the twisted machinations of insidious Chaos had prepared for the King one final blow in this dread confrontation... aye, the Chaos-Liege had reserved his most heinous perpetration 'til the last...

Chapter 6: The Awakening of Chaos

LORD ANGSAAR:
Fly, my winged sentinel of the night,
Deliver unto me the Ninth Crystal of Power,
That I may at last be free once more...

Come then, mortal! Test that cursed blade of black steel against me if you dare! O' great king, your pitiful army shall be swept away before my wrath! 'Ere the dawn, ten thousand shall die!

THE KING:
For the eternal glory of Hyperborea!

ALTARUS: Striking from the swift darkening sky, Angsaar's Arch-Wraith, which had been watching the battle with gleaming inhuman eyes, leaped to the attack and smote the King, engulfing him in its ebon wings and driving its steel-rending talons into his golden armour. And yet it was not the life of the Royal Scion of Hyperborea which the fiend sought to take on that fateful eve, but rather that which the King held tight in his gauntleted fist... the Crystal of Mera. Wrenching the glimmering antediluvian jewel from its keeper, the Arch-Wraith unfurled its leathern wings and soared into the deepening gloom with a cacophonous cackle of victory, leaving the King to roar his ire after the fleeing wraith.
XERXES: But what did Angsaar want of the Crystal? I know he battled his immortal nemesis over possession of the mystic gems many aeons ago... but what use would just one of the jewels be to him?
ALTARUS: After rising from his Chamber of Slumber, the Chaos-Liege's power was direly depleted... and he was unable to venture beyond the obsidian walls of his Citadel of Shadows, being compelled to control his wraiths and fiends to undertake his diseased schemes on his behalf. When he ascertained that the wizards of the Royal Court of Hyperborea held in their possession the Ninth Jewel of the Galactic Confederation of Mera, the most powerful of all the crystalline keys to the Psionic Epsilon Matrix, he began to formulate an elaborate scheme which would gain him the gem and facilitate his liberation, sundering his fetters and allowing him free reign to spread his vile influence across the land once more. Utilizing to its fullest extent the dark art of sorcerous mind-control, Angsaar succeeded in placing spies and traitors within the King's Court, and thus set into motion a dark chain of events treacherously crafted to bring the Armies of Hyperborea to battle at one carefully predetermined place... the Shrine of A'zura-Kai... an ancient citadel built over the site where, many thousands of years ago, one of the Galactic Confederation's galaxy-spanning star-chariots was cast forcibly to earth by the tempestuous skies of a powerful cosmic witch-storm... a place where resultantly, the star-born energies of the Prime Crystal would be magnified tenfold, if wielded in unison with the correct arcane incantations which Angsaar alone knew...
XERXES: Then the battle, the defeat of the wraiths, all that had been merely a ruse... a scheme implemented by the Chaos-Liege merely to realize his ultimate ambition of the sundering of the mystic shackles?
ALTARUS: Aye... the Shrine would act as a portal, a gateway opened by the power of the Crystal, a yawning aperture in the dimensional barrier through which Angsaar could escape the incarceration of his Citadel at last. And as the Arch-Wraith soared the night-winds on its return journey to its malign master, the Prime Crystal clutched in its bloodied claws, the King knew as he watched the Shrine of A'zura-Kai begin to glow with a great and ominous sidereal luminescence, that he had on that battle-fraught eve defeated one dreadful menace on the Field of Blood only to unleash an infinitely more terrifying foe... But the Chaos-Liege had reckoned without the power of the one thing he feared the most... the one thing which had the merest glimmering hope of thwarting his dread scheme and restoring order to glorious Hyperborea...
XERXES: Yes, the only chance... the last hope for victory...
ALTARUS: The Shadow-Sword. Evident once more was the fearsome extra-dimensional intelligence linking the sword and the gem, the same crystalline sentience which had guided the King to the mountainous resting place of the ebon blade, and had shielded the presence of the sorcerous immortal weapon from the dark one until it had been brought into play upon the field of battle, that magical link placed within the Ninth Gem by the Immortal if ever again the power of the Shadow-Sword should be needed to bring to bear against Chaos! And with the Arch-Wraith disappearing into the massing dark, that yard of fearsome black steel spoke once more to the King in the same long dead tongue it had burned upon his mind deep within the Mountains of the Dead, the essence of the Immortal mystically encased within the blade instructing the Scion of Hyperborea to commit himself to one final, cataclysmic deed... a deed which would end the aspirations of the Chaos-Liege forever, or plunge Hyperborea and the kingdoms of the world into an endless abyss of eternal suffering and a ravening maelstrom of limitless carnage and galactic terror...
XERXES: What was that deed? What could stop the Chaos-Liege? I must know the outcome of this confrontation!
ALTARUS: The vista begins to darken... the mists once again weave their spell to withold their timelost secrets. Practice your art, Xerxes... hone your skills, and the final outcome of this epic tale shall soon be made known to you...


7)  WHEN RIDES THE SCION OF THE STORMS

Dover, England: September 1594 (the recollections of a war-weary mariner)

Hearken boy; for I would tell thee a tale before we set sail for the Bay of Biscay on the morrow. I was not always called by this name, you know... To you, I am Caleb Blackthorne, battle-scarred master of an English galleon, survivor of a score of sea-fights, cheater of the notched blades of many an over ambitious Spanish pirate... the Scourge of Medina Sedonia! But to many others over the countless centuries since my first birth, I have been known by a host of other names... so many that even I begin to forget all but the ones distinguished by the most vivid deeds... for I hide a wondrous secret, boy... a secret some would call a blessing, but which others would deem a grim curse. Aye, it all began a very long time ago...

Memories of death and life...

For countless thousands of years I have walked the earth...
I have seen endless battle, and untold centuries of slaughter.
I am reborn once more!
The same grim spirit once again given flesh...
O' to be ravished by the seductress death...

The Scion of the Storms:
Dethroned 'ere Atlantis fell, haunted by a dark queen's curse,
My son's soul shackled by this spell of endless death and grim rebirth.
Fly, o' skyborne steed of Lyonesse, ride the tempest's wings,
I am the scion of the vengeful skies, a god to warriors and kings!

Reflections on lifetimes of carnage:

I have been slain by Roman gladius, and by Norman spear dealt a mortal wound,
The threads of my ensorcelled destiny endlessly woven on some unknown cosmic loom.
I have lost my life to longbow shafts, fighting for the English crown,
And mayhap I'll end this mariner's life a good three score fathoms down!

I marched with vast armies 'ere gleaming Atlantis sank beneath the waves...
I reddened my blade against Caesar's legions long ago...
I stood beside Boudicca at Colchester...
I dealt honed steel death from the ranks of Arthur Pendragon...
I slew and looted gloriously at Lindisfarne...
I slaked my scramasax at Maldon...
I crossed blades with Brian Boru at Clontarf...
I slaughtered left and right with Harold at Hastings...
I dispatched Norman swordsmen with Robin of Loxley...
I wielded a Claymore at Stirling Bridge...
I was in the thick of the fray beside Henry at Agincourt...
I spilled blood for the White Rose at Bosworth Field...
I captained a galleon against the great Armada of Philip II...

I have witnessed the rise of corrupt religions, but my heathen blade was red countless centuries before their flaccid laws were ever carved in stone.

They call me the Scourge of Medina Sedonia... my ship sails at dawn, and may our English steel ring gloriously against the cutlasses of the outlander pirates!

Aye boy, it is a strange tale indeed. I know not why I am destined to live and die in this way, my soul moving from life to life, ever dying and being again reborn, with every memory of my past incarnations intact. A whim of the gods? An ancient sorcerous spell? Some cruel machination of fate, mayhap? Or is it all for some mysterious, greater purpose? Sometimes I feel the gaze of inhuman eyes upon me, and fragments of some past existence which I cannot wholly recall flash before my mind's eye. And time and time again I know precisely when I am to die in the fray, for always 'ere the fatal blow is struck, I see him... grim and noble astride his great winged steed, gleaming spear crackling in his grasp, beckoning me onwards to the next life... to ever more slaughter and carnage... Yes, a dour and brooding spirit he is, and in his burning eyes I see a great secret which I must discover, a powerful mystery I alone must solve. I cannot speculate as to what strange destiny the fates have written for me in the stars... but the gods have decreed that this is the path I must follow, and I am sure that my adventures are far from over...


8)  BLOOD SLAKES THE SAND AT THE CIRCUS MAXIMUS

Thoughts of an Iceni gladiator, awaiting the opening of the arena portcullis:

Memories of rebellion (Carnage at Camulodunum):

Iceni Messenger: Hearken! The Ninth Legion has been put to the sword!
The War-Chief of Queen Boudicca: Onwards to Camulodunum... wet your swords! Redden the earth with Roman blood!

I remember the carnage at Camulodunum...
The glorious clash of Celtic sword against Roman gladius,
The pride in the eyes of our war-queen as we hacked down the Imperial Eagle,
And the severed heads of centurions gaping atop our spears.

Bloodshed and Battle: 61 AD (C.E.)

They had gone too far, these invaders from the east, with their imperial eagle which they dared to drive into our sacred soil... pompously claiming our island as their own. They who marched across the world expanding their empire all for the greater glory of their succession of debauched emperors, reclining upon their ivory thrones in the heart of sweltering Rome. Aye, they had gone too far... After their brutal annexation of our sovereign Iceni lands and the vile rape of our Queen Boudicca's royal daughters, the Romans had the sown the fields of carnage and they would reap a grim harvest of slaughter, without doubt! They had enraged the Red Queen, and by the gods, they would pay!
We certainly taught the arrogant invading dogs a lesson, at any rate. The omens and portents spoke of vast bloodshed and great carnage, and after our slaughterous victories at Camulodunum (the Temple of Claudius burned wonderfully!), Londinium and Verulanium, the cursed Romans finally dared to meet us honourably upon the field of war at Mandeussedum. They sent fifteen thousand legionaries, their armour gleaming like gold in the sun... but it would still yield to our swords and spears, no matter how it sparkled.
The Roman scoundrel, Governor Suetonius Paullinus, battle-scarred from his campaigns against the Druids, was able to choose the ground upon which to make his stand, and so it was that he selected as the battlefield a narrow valley, fronted by a flat plain, with dense woodland at its rear. Aye... Mandeussedum, "the place of the chariots"... I remember it vividly.
The Governor's army looked unnerved as we took the field, I'll never forget that, iron Roman fortitude or not! We were one hundred thousand strong, infantry and cavalry, both men and women warriors, as is our Celtic custom, in the ranks together, all annointed with woad, all roaring oaths and vows to our ancient gods, who were surely grimly watching the epic confrontation from their great thrones and vast halls. Our war-chariots thundered up and down the Roman front, the charioteers screaming abuse at the grim legionaries, decurions and centurions, and hurling spears and other missiles which clattered against the Imperial shield wall. And not one Roman javelin or pilum was hurled in response, not one arrow was loosed in retaliation. They were disciplined, I'll give them that.
We were swelled by our victories, empowered by our noble cause, enraged with the battle frenzy; thirsting to take as many Roman heads as our bright blades could sever!
And yet we were perhaps somewhat overconfident that day...

Abducted from the Iceni:

In the aftermath of our defeat at Mandeussedum, I was captured by Romans with a veiled intent... (though three of them died at my hands in the attempt!)
Nero was growing bored with the gladiators, slaves and lion-fodder at his great Circus, and so had requested Suetonius Paullinus to provide the citizens of Rome with new entertainment. The Emperor had heard much of the wildness and fighting spirit of these barbaric Britons who had brought such woe to his far-famed legions; these painted, pagan tribesmen who had resisted the Empire's iron fist where the glorious phalanxes of the East had not.
"Agents of the Imperium... hearken to my words", Nero had demanded. "Bring to Rome some of these tribesman for the Games. Let us pit them against our most ravenous beasts and our greatest gladiatorial champions."
And so I was taken in fetters aboard a Roman trireme, the blood of slain legionaries still crusted upon my thews. I was taken far from the fens of my beloved homeland, to tread the sun baked sand of the Circus Maximus... to fight for my life in the Imperial Arena.

Arrival at the Circus Maximus:

The Circus Maximus was certainly a splendid sight, I'll admit. A vast colosseum with great stone columns and tiers, huge ornate arches and mighty statues of grey marble. Countless people filled the seats surrounding the sandy floor of the Arena... and in his opulent royal enclosure, flanked by gleaming guards and grovelling lackeys, sat the great Emperor himself...

Emperor Nero: Fight, barbarian outlander! Please us, and mayhap Mars will smile on thee this day!

Iceni warrior: Bah! I do not hail to your Roman gods, and you are not my emperor! By Cernunnos, the blood of my enemies shall stain the sand of this cursed arena red this day!

The Combat Commences:

They unleashed the lions first. Hunger maddened beasts, goaded into a frenzy by the cruel point of many a pilum... And yet my own hunger, the hunger for revenge, was greater, and my honed steel was sharper than bestial fang and claw.
And so they ranged their finest warriors against me. Three more iron gates around the arena yawned open, and they strode from the colosseum tunnels amidst a cacophony of cheering from the assembled Roman spectators, urged on and showered with martial adulation from the massed arena crowd, who howled their bloodlust without cessation.
I studied my opponents... there were two trained gladiators, champions I was told, who had never met defeat in the Games... and then there was another like me, a captured warrior forced to fight for his life. This one was a towering reaver from the Northlands with a bright yellow beard, hefting a crude axe with a single iron head. I lifted my iron bladed Celtic shortsword with its bronze hilt (the same sword which, mere days before, had been slaked with Roman blood... and its blade would soon be red once more with the blood of my captors, by all the gods!) and nodded to the reaver. An understanding passed between us... we knew we were here simply as sword-fodder, and we knew we would both fight these Roman dogs to the death!
The first gladiator moved towards me; he was a giant of a man, standing nearly seven feet tall and clad in dark leather and bronze armour from head to toe. His full-face visored helmet was set with ornate metal fittings and encrusted with jewels of various hues, and a vast black horse hair plume rose from the metal crown. Strapped on to his forearms were two black vambraces, to each of which had been secured three twelve inch serrated blades, and they gleamed brightly in the hot afternoon sunlight. He began to circle me slowly, his eyes hidden beneath his great helmet. To his left, I saw the second gladiator begin to close on the Northman. The yellow-bearded axeman's opponent was a huge steel-helmeted Nubian, wielding a wickedly pointed trident and carrying an embossed iron buckler with a great spike jutting from its polished centre.
Far above, upon his great dias, the Emperor gave the signal for the combat to begin, and with the battle-lust engulfing me, with the red mist swirling before my eyes, I vowed to my northern gods that I would show these leering Romans the fighting spirit and battle prowess of my people... I would leave the arena littered with the bloody corpses of my opponents...
I would cast off the imperial fetters and return to the fens! Aye, I would escape, and make all Romans fear my name, and compel Nero to rue the day Julius Caesar had first ordered his legions across the grim grey sea to my ancient island... BLOOD FOR BOUDICCA... CARNAGE FOR CERNUNNOS!!

To be continued in "Escape from The Circus Maximus".


9)  THWARTED BY THE DARK  (Blade Of The Vampyre Hunter)

The contemplations of Joachim Blokk:

As my sword drips black now with the unclean blood of another slain fiend, it occurs to me that history will most probably record me a fanatic... as for more years than I care to remember I have dedicated my life to the ceaseless pursuit and destruction of the loathsome undead. Indeed, it was long ago that I commenced with the wreaking of my grim vengeance upon the denizens of the dark, and by the blade of my sorcerous katana, Fiend's Bane, I vow they shall all pay for taking my beloved from me! Fanatic? Mayhap. But by all the gods of vengeance, I'll leave a fearsome legacy 'ere I die... a legacy wrought in retributive bloodshed and screaming terror!

Drowned in the icy lake of tragedy,
Forged in the fires of revenge,
Driven by the winds which compel a man to destiny,
Haunted by the whispers of the dead.

Blood is black in the moonlight,
As it was when I pierced the heart of my betrothed.
Blood is black in the moonlight,
Her undead gaze gleaming ire upon me.
Blood is black in the moonlight,
I held aloft her head to my grim gods.
Blood is black in the moonlight,
(Now I am eternally bonded to my blade)
And ever I am thwarted by the dark!

Gods of wrath, hear my vow... sate me with revenge this night!
Come to me, darksome fiends, taste the edge of ensorcelled steel!
Night has fallen, the hunt begins...
Vengeful carnage 'neath the moon!

And as I put brand to her pyre, I swore then to my gods that those vile creatures who tore the life and hope from my beloved's breast and replaced it with that unspeakable sanguineous ravening would repay a hundredfold in slaughter and bloodshed for their misdeed... I would hunt them to their worm-ridden tombs, wherever they crept or slithered upon the earth, and wreak my honed steel revenge ceaselessly unto my own grave. Such was my vow!

Aye, this bride of Masayuki steel, ensorcelled by wizards at its forging... to me she is as pure as the newly fallen snow, kissed by the breeze at dusk... and yet she has supped deep of the ichors of many men and fiends alike.

Shadow-spawned demons ravening for my blood,
Yet the thirst of my blade is greater!
Aye, all they shall feast upon this night will be cold steel!
I hear the slither of scales on silk,
Fiend's Bane replete with undead slaughter!

I am the scourge of the devils who dwell in darkness...
(but the darkness writhing in my own soul is so much deeper...)
Their flesh burns at the touch of my blade of searing vengeance,
And I cast their malign spirits screaming into limbo!

Darkfall, and the autumn moon glimmers on my steel...
Now it is time to hunt and slay once more,
For the night has come!


10)  AND ATLANTIS FALLS...

And lo, I witnessed the vast seas rise forth like a great ravenous beast, a devouring maelstrom of cataclysmic fury; and the gleaming spires and citadels of proud, ancient Atlantis were consumed, to gleam no more... save in the dreams of sorcerers and warriors... aye, and poets and kings.

The astral testimony of Altarus the Traveller

All lyrics, stories, names, places, characters and situations copyright 1993, 2006  B.A. Roberts

 

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BAL-SAGOTH: Book IV  (The Power Cosmic)
 

 

lemuria

  1. The Awakening Of The Stars
  2. The Voyagers Beneath The Mare Imbrium
  3. The Empyreal Lexicon
  4. Of Carnage And A Gathering Of The Wolves
  5. Callisto Rising
  6. The Scourge Of The Fourth Celestial Host
  7. Behold, The Armies Of War Descend Screaming From The Heavens!
  8. The Thirteen Cryptical Prophecies Of Mu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1)  THE AWAKENING OF THE STARS

Reverie on the Ascension Mandate:
With but a gesture of my incorporeal hand I illumine the heart of a new-born sun,
Revelling as its searing stellar radiance engulfs my ersatz form.
Gazing out across the limitless, stygian cosmos,
I hear the whispered voice of destiny echoing within the solar winds...
No small task, to awaken a universe from slumber.

Words gleaned from the Crystal of Memory:

In 2104, lithological excavations at the Fourth Mars Colony unearthed an artifact of unknown, seemingly non-human origin; an icosahedron of an unrecognized, non terrestrial metallic composition, inscribed with strange, indecipherable sigils and glyphs. After long months of intense study, epigraphy experts on Earth ascertained a tenuous parallel between the unknown language on the icosaherdon and certain obscure Aztec hieroglyphics, and thus were able to extrapolate a meaning from the unearthly inscriptions. The translation spoke of a legendary repository of ultimate knowledge known as the Empyreal Lexicon... a codex of alien origin said to contain incredible cosmic secrets; arcane words and psionic waves of power which were the keys to unlocking a network of cerebral-transferrence portals linking the myriad galaxies of the multiverse, and also the means to transcend the boundaries of the space-time continuum, enabling corporeal beings to travel between dimensions and traverse at will the unknown realms which lay between universes, tapping into the limitless energies which permeated the sidereal fabric of the cosmos. The translation of the Mars icosaherdon also hinted disturbingly at a great pangalactic conflict which was waged over the possession of the codex between the mysterious cosmic beings who had appointed themselves the keepers of the Lexicon and some terrifying shadowy foe mentioned only fleetingly in the alien text. The final battle in this cataclysmic power struggle was apparently fought in Earth’s own solar system, and the Keepers of the Lexicon, their power depleted and teetering on the verge of defeat, shattered the codex into a myriad shards, scattering the fragments across the star system in order to prevent the secrets of the Lexicon from falling into the hands of their darksome nemesis. According to the Martian artifact, several fragments of the Lexicon were hidden on the third planet from the sun, the Earth itself. One fragment was secreted in ancient Atlantis, another in Lemuria. Further pieces of the cosmic codex fell to earth in Ys and eon-veiled Mu. Still further fragments of the Lexicon were said to have been hidden somewhere beneath the frozen surface of the bleak moon Callisto, and on the other mysterious orbs Hyperion and Titan. Lastly, the alien artifact spoke mysteriously of something hidden beneath the cratered surface of Earth’s own Moon. Ascertaining co-ordinates from the Mars icosahedron, an expedition embarked immediately from the Epsilon IV Moon Base and began to excavate the lunar sphere. Thus was a veiled warning unheeded, and no one could know what to expect as the machinations of humankind breached the ancient surface of the moon’s Mare Imbrium....

 

2)  THE VOYAGERS BENEATH THE MARE IMBRIUM

Words gleaned from the Crystal of Memory:
Travelling Ones, some call us... others know us simply as the Kl'aa. Our true name has been lost beyond the veil of eternity for more years than even we can fathom. Voyagers are we by nature, traversing the endless realms of the multiverse and bearing witness to acts of sublime creation, and deeds of cataclysmic destruction. Not long ago by the reckoning of the temporal flow, we recorded the birth of humanity, a curious species engineered at the whim of those ersatz Merans with whom we share the dominion of the myriad galaxies. Our foes are many, not least of which are the dire Z’xulth, imprisoned within the dreaded Black Galaxy, but ever scheming to liberate themselves and honour their black mandate, unleashing wanton obliteration upon the universe and enslaving the lesser races of the cosmos. Aye, we are ancient, and have forseen the time of our own passing from the annals of creation. From a time beyond time, we come. We, who once crested the waves of the great astral sea... and who now must strive again for the domination of the stars...

Entreaty of the Fourth Moon’s Keymaster:
Awaken... awaken! Tellurian sphere!
Awaken! Beckon the moon... Tellurian!
Resurgent... beneath the moon... Ephemeral... Dreaming forever...
The crystalline core has been activated once again, after countless aeons of dormancy! The safeguards are active! The Empyreal Lexicon is beckoning! And He who slumbers with thee, the Hound of Z'xulth, has heard its incessant call! Zurra has awakened!

Zurra:By all the black gods of the Z’xulth! Life flows through my ersatz thews once again! For too long have I waited, for too long have I slumbered, my power negated by the machinations of my foes! What unfathomable ages have passed during my incarceration beneath this desolate sphere? Stand fast, arrogant Voyagers! The ruinous hybrid despised by his progenitors is free once more! My brethren shall be unfettered! The Lexicon shall be ours! The great lunar seal is broken... we are free... free to rule! It is time... it is time!

The Prime Voyager:For more than ten times a thousand years have we slept beneath these cratered, lifeless stones...The Lexicon’s crystalline core  has at last been exhumed from the embrace of the fourth orb’s crimson sands! Our power, once drained by waging epic battle with the emmisarries of shadow, is at last renewed! The filaments of creation are ablaze with astral energy once more! The veins of the cosmos may again pulse, coursing with the sidereal mana which empowers our timeless souls! We have heard the sighing of a thousand souls... now at last we shall hearken once more to the siren call of the cosmos. The battle for the Lexicon must begin anew!

Zurra:Fools! The Darklight Portal has grown strong.Only one moon remains in orbit of this pitiful blue sphere.The mewling ape-spawned humans have fulfilled some of that potential which the Mera did weave into their genetic configuration... the manlings have discovered the icosahedron! The Lexicon’s call can once again be heard throughout the stars, beckoning my ireful brethren to return to the slaughterous embrace of the fray! We have won! This insignificant world so prized by the Ersatz Ones shall be the first to feel the wrath of the true gods! The orb azure is ours... ours to enslave! The very universe itself shall become the dominion of the Z’xulth!

The Prime Voyager:You! You who have embraced the insidious manipulations of They- Who-Lurk-And-Breed-In-Limbo... You who pledged your devotion to our darksome foe... allying yourself with the dread titans of the Z’xulth... Begone from my sight, traitor! Away, Zurra... hybrid fiend of the nether-void! Come, fellowship of weary travellers... the war is far from won. We must gird ourselves and once more prepare for battle. The shards of the Lexicon must be kept from the clutches of chaos! Cast off the shackles of slumber... the galaxy whispers our name.

Entreaty of the Fourth Moon’s Keymaster:
Travelling Ones! Awaken! Beckon the moon, empower thyselves with the energies of the sidereal web. Be replenished! Resurgent! Your nemesis seeks vengeance! Zurra has seized the icosahedron... the crystalline core of the Lexicon! The Spectrum of Shards must be denied him! Lest he enthrall the firmament! Enslave the stars! By Klatrymadon and Zuranthus, the Astral Gate must remain closed!

Zurra: Hearken, proselytes of a dead race... My power shall be absolute... greater even than that of the ancient Mera! With the aid of my darksome brethren I shall crush the Tellurian sphere, and the flaccid lickspittles who strive in vain to safeguard it...  We shall seek out the very heart of our foes, the homeworld of the Ersatz Ones! And you, their myrmidons shall be laid waste! Yes... The dreaming is over! Now, let the vengeance begin!

 

3)  THE EMPYREAL LEXICON

 

The Keeper of the Black Shard: So, it begins anew. The eternal struggle for mastery of the crystalline codex. I have forseen this day, the day when the Hound of Z'xulth would come seeking the Black Shard of power. Long ago, when this star did burn brightly with glorious and incandescent life, I was charged with the task of safeguarding this, the most dangerous shard of the Lexicon, keeping it from the grasp of those who would abuse its peerless potency. It is a mandate by which I shall abide, so long as the spark of life remains within my ancient form. So cold are the spaces between the stars... For blackened suns are the only legacy of worlds long dead.

Zurra: The key word of Transcendence! The key word of Transference! Enlightenment flows from the icosahedron! The Black Shard awaits my grasp, and with its power I shall liberate the rightful owners of the Lexicon... the true rulers of the cosmos! Hail the Z'xulth!
X’atham-ry’aa! Tha’zai-tonn!
Darker than a score of hells,
Wherein astral horrors dwell,
Macrocosmic realms aflame...
Prey of fiends that have no name!
X’atham-ry’aa! Tha’zai-tonn!
Darker than a score of hells...
Where astral horrors sublime dwell,
Macrocosmic realms aflame...
Bow to the gods that have no name!

The Keeper of the Black Shard: So cold, at the heart of a frozen star... Stay thy hand and thy tongue, slave of the Outer Darkness.... Surely you are not foolhardy enough to dare unshackle the dire titans of Z’xulth!

Zurra:Hidden within the blazing core of this sun is that which I seek, old one.
Do not seek to thwart me, lest the horrors of oblivion be a balm to your time-addled mind. Ages past I waged war side by side with the Z’xulth, smiting the ruin of our foes across the intricate tapestry of the cosmos, hammering the vaunted Kl'aa and their lap dogs to the brink of annihilation! With the liberation of my brethren, the universe shall once more tremble at the footfalls of its rightful rulers! The Lexicon shall be mine... Behold the cosmic codex! The tome of the astral abyss!

The Keeper of the Black Shard:By the eternal forefathers of the multiverse! Evil permeates your soul like gangrenous corruption within a baleful wound, stripling of Chaos! I witnessed your creation within the Spawning Vats of the Mera deep beneath the Pre-Cambrian oceans! A glorious experiment you were, the first genetic progeny of mighty Zuranthus, the great one whose genetic template was utilized for your genesis. And yet base treachery was afoot, as your matrix was tainted by the cells of a captive fiend of Z’xulth. Never have the myriad galaxies witnessed such reckless and unquenchable hatred... never has the cosmos beheld such unparalleled ire and corruption! Such diabolical evil... sublime macrocosmic malevolence!

Zurra:I have become far more than the Ersatz Ones ever intended! I was shunned by my creators, an outcast and an abberation... cast into the lightless depths of the Well of Black Flame... but I endured, and dreams of vengeance sustained me! I shall be father to the new master race which shall sweep across the cosmos and bring the glorious embrace of the Outer Darkness unto all the denizens of creation! The Z’xulth shall rule all, and the glory of their reign shall shine like an ireful beacon across the limitless expanses of the multiverse! All shall bow before us! Fear is the power... Terror is the key!
X’atham-ry’aa... Tha’zai-tonn!
I am replete with sovereign mastery! The portal to the Outer Darkness shall be open! They-Who-Lurk-And-Breed-In-Limbo shall be free!
I have won... bow, yield, kneel!
Darken the sun... Narra, Gorra, Kaasha!
I arise... bow, yield, kneel!
Parhelion dies... Narra, Gorra, Kaasha!
I can taste the sweet ichors of omnipotency upon my lips... Let it begin! The Black Shard shall be mine!
X’atham-ry’aa j’aiigh! Tha’zai-tonn nax’a-gorrha!

The Keeper of the Black Shard:By hoary Klatrymadon’s ersatz wings! I am smitten by the diabolism of the Z'xulth Hound! Life drains from me, the stars flicker and fade in the heavens! I am undone by the envenomed blade of evil! And yet with my last breath, I shall summon those who may yet thwart your aspiration to power, Zurra spawn of Zuranthus! So cold, the spaces between the stars...

Zurra:X’atham-ry’aa... Tha’zai-tonn... The Black Shard is mine! Combined with the power of the icosahedron, this crystalline fragment shall magnify my nighted energies tenfold! With each new piece that falls into place, this grand cosmic puzzle inexorably continues to illumine my path to ultimate power! The Astral Gate shall yawn wide once more and my darksome ilk shall again know the glory of unfettered freedom... and together, we shall recover the remaining shards of the Lexicon and utterly annihilate the ancient foes of the Z’xulth! But first, I feel an audience with my renowned progenitor is long overdue... and yet I vow it will not be a favorable reunion! The blood of Zuranthus shall annoint my zircon blade, this I promise thee!

The Keeper of the Black Shard:Such carnage wrought with your malevolent tongue, dark one... What unfathomable horrors dwell within the lightless corners of your cursed soul? What will you do once the power of the codex is within your evil grasp? Be wary Zurra, for the Lexicon consumes all those who seek to manipulate its untenable might! Is your mind strong enough to wield the power of a god, o’ stripling of Z'xulth? Heed not the voice of the Lexicon... lest its whispers drive you mad!

 

4)  OF CARNAGE AND A GATHERING OF THE WOLVES

 

Deep within the lightless, labyrinthine reaches of the great Darkenhold forest ...

Voice of the Night:  Who are you, wanderer?
Wandering Spirit:  I can’t remember...
Voice of the Night:  The wolves are gathering, the stars are shifting... come, join us in the hunt.

The Sylvan Oracle:  What arboreal augury be this? Has the Realm Verdant at last seen the countenance of the one born of prophecy?

Voice of the Night:  Who are you, wanderer?
Wandering Spirit:  I have the scent...
Voice of the Night:  Gaze into the mists... feel the earth thawing beneath your feet. Come, bring down the prey.

The Sylvan Oracle:  The wolves are gathering,
The stars are shifting,
This spectre at the feast,
This nectar of the vine.

Voice of the Night:  Look at the power you possess... See the might which you wield! You know who you are, do you not?
Wandering Spirit:  Yes, I am the scythe in the field at summer,
I am the thunder that awakens the earth,
I am that which gives the night air its chill.

Voice of the Night:  Who are you, wanderer?
Wandering Spirit:  I am far beyond the ken of men... my gaze shall make the night tremble!

The Sylvan Oracle:  So dour a mien, let all night’s fulgors flame. Behold, the ghost of a king as yet unborn! He is the scourge, the thanatos, the cleansing fire, the purifying storm... he is the cataclysm given corporeal form! He is the embodiment of our rage, the fury over the injustices which the Insidious Host will one day perpetrate against the descendants of the Realm Verdant and their Arboreal sentinels! He is the hammer of vengeance, the sword of retribution which will one day be wielded in this kingdom's name! But be wary that your progeny does not consume thee, Zyl-Zyn-Horhuz... the Voice of the Night!

Voice of the Night:  Who are you, my son?
Wandering Spirit:  Father... I am annihilation incarnate!

 

5)  CALLISTO RISING

 

Zuranthus:    Earthbound, a star falls to my tongue.
Come to me, Hyperion’s child...
Come to me, spawn of Titan.

Condemned Souls of the Brotherhood of Dark Elucidation:
Callisto rising! Glory ascendant! Hearken Zuranthus,  heir of Klatrymadon... your blood-kin is free once more! The rogue godling, your offspring Zurra, has again cast his wondrous virulence upon the firmament!

Zurra:  Break the sidereal seal, my progenitor! Open the astral portal! Give me the Lexicon... give me that which is rightfully mine! Destroy the guardian-light... Kill!

Zuranthus:   Earthfall... the firmament weeps for this fallen star.
The cosmic ebb and flow... Behold my splendour, progeny of Titan!

Condemned Souls of the Brotherhood of Dark Elucidation:Callisto rising! Goddess ascendant! Hearken Zuranthus,  heir of Klatrymadon... on a whim you may devour the luminous sentinel which binds this crystalline fragment of the Lexicon to bleak Callisto... Empower your renegade spawn... free our souls! Bestriding the tundra... Mistweaver!

Zurra: Unfetter yourself, brother Zuranthus, father Zuranthus! Bestow upon me the shard which I seek... give me my godhead, or I shall condemn your flaccid essence to a dimension of unparalleled pain! Kill!

Zuranthus:  Do not seek to threaten me, wormcast. My tenure here is preordained... and I will suffer your arrogance no longer, o' wayward hybrid. The power of the Lexicon is not destined to be possessed by one such as you. Begone!

Klatrymadon:  How bewitching... so poignant in the shadow of death. Tell me, my myrmidon... Where did you send the renegade whelp?

Zuranthus:  Far beyond, across the tenuous filaments of the great temporal web. As you have taught me, in this dimension, velocity itself is no longer limited by the speed of light.

 

Condemned Souls of the Brotherhood of Dark Elucidation:
Bipolar nebula! A falling star! The gate yawns wide above eon-veiled Mu... the hybrid fiend of Z'xulth's destiny awaits him upon that coruscating isle!

Zurra:  V’aan-ayth’ultaa, No’maal-pha’guus....Damn you, Zuranthus... You will pay dearly for this outrage, I swear it by the blackened maw of  the sacred Z’xulth! I WILL NOT BE DENIED MY BIRTHRIGHT!

Zuranthus:  Your very existence is a virulence which beclouds the face of the cosmos, o' aberrant thing! To think that a grand scheme with such lofty and benign intentions could have produced such unfathomably vile a result! Curse the black day of your genesis in the spawning vats beneath the Pre-Cambrian sea! Curse the corruption of the Z'xulth! Curse the Mera for their grand aspirations! Zurra, mark me... Stray not into my darksome embrace, lest I grind my jaws on your soul.

Condemned Souls of the Brotherhood of Dark Elucidation: Spare us your wrath, great one, we beg thee.  Begot of the thunder... spellbinder. Callisto Rising!

Zuranthus:  Humans! You who would invoke my name to further your own wicked schemes! Have I not granted you counsel over the centuries? Have I not generously answered your pleas for knowledge with that selective lore deemed fit for your flaccid, questing minds? Now, once more I see the use to which you would put this knowledge! Unfetter the fiends whose names are inscribed within the Tome of Shadows at your peril! Did your forebears not learn their lesson with the blackening of the crystalline metropolis? Do not seek to invoke my name again, foolish manlings! You purport to revere me as a deity? You profess to call me a god? Well then, behold my godhood... and pray!

Grand Arbiter Of Temporal Jurisprudence: Hearken, young Zuranthus. I summon thee to appear before the Great Temporal Court. We have a pressing matter to discuss with thee.

 

6)  THE SCOURGE OF THE FOURTH CELESTIAL HOST

 

Uatu:  They possess power unparalleled... ageless, remorseless. Without pity or conscience. Manipulators of evolution on countless worlds. Gods of the stars... the Celestial Host!

Norrin-Radd:  Zenn-la! (My homeworld, denied me by the whims of Galan of Taa! I vow that another world shall not be taken from me while I live!)
I beseech thee, great ones... spare this insignificant planet... this earth.

The Living Tribunal:  Humankind, behold your creators... behold your destroyers.

Arishem, Exitar... Judge and executioner!

Uatu:  They who sow the fields of the stars... They return to reap the evolution harvest.

Arishem, Exitar... Judge and executioner!

The Infinity Watch:  Time, space, soul, mind, reality, power...

Norrin-Radd:  I am the last scion of Zenn-La,
Never more to embrace Shalla-Bal.
I was born to soar beyond the stars...

Uatu:  And lo, the Exterminator, the Destroyer of Worlds, the Purifier of Galaxies...

Norrin-Radd:  The edge of oblivion beckons... (the blood of countless billions stains these silvern hands... but I must... I will endure!) I am the protector of this world! I wield the Power Cosmic! (Behold, from the Realm Eternal my ally speeds to lend his might and the power of his Uru hammer to the fray!)

Arishem, Exitar... Judge and executioner.

I shall scatter your atoms to the four cosmic winds!

The Infinity Watch: Time, space, soul, mind, reality, power.

Hail Arishem! Hail Exitar! The Star-Gods have returned!

Norrin-Radd:  The vast sea of stars stretches into infinity before me...
I am the last scion of Zenn-la,
Never more to embrace Shalla-Bal,
I was born to soar beyond the stars.
“Paradise unearned is but a land of shadows.”

 

(“The Scourge Of The Fourth Celestial Host” is inspired by the Marvel Comics character “The Silver Surfer” created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.)


7)  BEHOLD, THE ARMIES OF WAR DESCEND SCREAMING FROM THE HEAVENS!

 

During the ninth millennium of the Neo-Atlantean Calendar (3590 AD by the old reckoning), the fiends of Z'xulth were liberated from their infernal prison via the traitorous machinations of their dark agents and acolytes. The Great Chaos War thus began, and red havoc was wrought across the cosmos. Man’s clarion call to battle was heralded by the Third Adulation of Zakumakura, and the final blessings of guardianship being bestowed upon a mortal destined to assume the mantle of Sentinel Omega...

The Disciples of Zakumakura:  Since before mankind hurled himself squamously from the sea we have awaited the final awakening of great Zakumakura, the Abyssal Worm who slumbers far, far beneath the fathomless oceans! Prophecy speaks of the Three Adulations of the Abyssal Worm; the first soon after His glorious genesis, the second when His fury was directed against Atlantis, and now... the Dragon-King shall at last rise, an instrument wielded by the servitors of the Z'xulth! Cast your gaze to the firmament and know fear, for the forces of Chaos fill the sky! Behold, the armies of war descend screaming from the heavens! The Great Chaos War begins!

The New Order of Kl'aa:  Treachery! Betrayal! The Praxeum's fallen revenant unfetters the forces of evil... the Hound of Z'xulth too is liberated! Hearken servitors of Chaos, your legions will fall as wheat before the harvest blade. The long aeons of tyranny are at an end... now, let the Ninth Millennium begin. The guardians of Order have assembled!

The Servitors of the Z'xulth:  The Ritual of Ascendency is complete. Now is the time for trenchant steel and the massed throng of battle! Cry havoc! Crush them, kill them, destroy them all!

The Invocation of Zakumakura:Kaiju, Dragos, Gojira! Kaiju, Dragos, Gojira!

The Disciples of Zakumakura:You have lost the game, myrmidons of Mera and Kl'aa! Your attempts to thwart our will have come to naught! You are guilty of dire crimes against the Z'xulth and the Terran Imperium! The charge is high treason against the empire... you will bear this punishment with praise on your lips! Behold the splendour of the Abyssal Worm... behold Great Zakumakura!

The Invocation of Zakumakura: Zakumakura Es-iaah! Zakumakura As-aaoh!

The Techno-Mages of Telluria: High treason against the First Tellurian Interstellar Empire? Such base duplicity! You and your dark acolytes seek to bring down the imperium, not safeguard it! Bah! A thousand curses upon the coils of Zakumakura! A genetic experiment gone awry, bolstered by sorcery and the energy of untold millions of fettered atoms! There is a countermeasure against your reckless abuse of power! The might of Sentinel Omega shall be brought to bear against you!

The Disciples of Zakumakura: Invoke the Dragon-King... and let the great serpent rise to devour the world of men! Hearken... He rises, He rises at last! Behold the celestial majesty of Great Zakumakura!! We are all entwined within the coils of the great galactic worm!

The Aspirant to Sentinel Omega’s power:Dire cataclysm befalls the orb azure! Elemental disarray... chaos beyond the Tellurian cloudscape! The galaxy burns! I am the receptacle of the ultimate power... the power of Sentinel Omega... I am the vessel of his greatness! I am the One! Chosen to weild this power of the Ersatz Ones! I am the first, and the last sentient lifeform to embrace the might of these unstable molecules! I shall ride the crest of this reverse-engineered wave of grandeur! It is time the Sentinel's mettle was tested!

The Disciples of Zakumakura: The galaxy is their battleground... the stars are their arena! Let mankind despair in the knowledge that this day did see an end to his insignificant dominion... and the birth of a new era of glory for the servitors of the Z'xulth!

Sentinel Omega: I feel it... the omniverse exists within me! Every molecule in my body is ablaze with cosmic fire! I have forsaken my humanity forever... I, who now walk with the gods amongst the endless stars!

And as the fires of the Great Chaos War guttered and died, as the century of conflict drew to a close, so the universe witnessed a tenuous new age of enlightenment. It was said that upon mankind’s final evolution and long awaited ascent to a level of non-corporeal existence, beginning at last to wield that power once exclusively the domain of his ancient progenitors, the Elder Races of the universe would begin their long retreat into the ageless shadows, as their predecessors had once done, so long ago. These Elder Races would themselves evolve, finally aspiring to realms of enlightenment hitherto accessible only to mysterious and unfathomable beings which they themselves revered as gods. And yet the Z'xulth wait, ever hungry, ever vengeful, ever poised to reclaim their cosmic thrones and once more reign unopposed as true masters of creation. For the ancient prophecies speak of that dark day when the chaosphere shall be once more ascendant, and the malefic They-Who-Lurk-And-Breed-In-Limbo shall once again stalk the shuddering stars...

 

8)  THE THIRTEEN CRYPTICAL PROPHECIES OF MU

 

Words gleaned from the Crystal of Memory:
Upon uttering the key Word of Transcendence, X'atham-ry'aa, and the Word of Transferrence, Tha'zai-tonn, the sinistrous Hound of Z'xulth, dread Zurra, invokes four of the Guardians of the Astral Gate, the mighty Ka-Kur-Ra, the ineffable Azor Vol-Thoth, the titanic Zul-Tekh and the pitiless Xuk'ul. The sidereal portal to the Outer Darkness opens, and Zurra finds himself standing before the baleful scrutiny of the sentinels beyond the threshold...

KA-KUR-RA: Zurra... impetuous whelp! Halfbreed of Z'xulth... ambitious and foolhardy stripling! Your quest for the shards of the great Lexicon is not unknown to those of us who observe the intricate weft and warp of the limitless cosmic tapestry from afar.
ZURRA: Then know this! I seek to breach these ageless walls and throw open the gate to the Black Galaxy once and for all! My brethren the Z'xulth shall be free! Do not stand in my way, o' Guardians! The fulfilment of my destiny shall not be thwarted!
AZOR VOL-THOTH: Destiny? What know you of destiny? You who are but a mote of dust in the eye of the universe! The birth cries of worlds and the death throes of galaxies are the dramas which unfold eternally before our gaze... what concern have we for the petty desires which rage and roil within your black heart?
ZURRA: The shards of the Lexicon shall be mine!
ZUL-TEKH: Uttering the forbidden words with an impudent tongue does not qualify you for the elucidatory blessing which you so fervently scrabble for... the true magnitude of that which hides within the Lexicon's crystalline recesses would render even your twisted mind naught but a sundered and ravaged pulp!
ZURRA: Feh! I am ready for the knowledge. I have gazed long into the mirror of eternity and I forsee that I shall soon bear witness to all the glories of the Codex! And with the titans of Z'xulth by my side, I shall rule this universe which has too long suffered the flaccid and arbitrary administration of your masters! The Ersatz Ones unjustly imprisoned my brethren! Balance shall be restored! They must be free!
KA-KUR-RA: Many are they ranged against thee, renegade. We have seen your destiny, and it lies upon a shattered shore, lapped by waves of oblivion from the ocean of night. The legend you shall leave written in the eternal reaches of the macrocosm shall be no more tangible than the vagaries of a solar wind. You are but a pawn in this timeless game, Zurra... a plaything of beings infinitely more powerful than you could ever hope to comprehend.
ZURRA: No! It shall not be so! The universe shall quake with my every footfall... countless worlds shall deify me in obeisance and offer up solemn prayers to my sovereign divinity! I know this to be true! Do not seek to thwart me, for even your power may one day pale before mine!
XUK'UL: Silence, whelp! Just as you were spawned in the genetic vaults of the ersatz Mera, a servitor to a higher form, know that there are forces abroad in this macrocosm to whom even the elder races of creation are naught but transient and random atoms! You are nothing, and will ever remain so! The fact that you stand before us is testimony to your mettle, but your ambitions shall yet outreach your abilities.
AZOR VOL-THOTH: We have long watched your struggles with amusement, Zurra, spawn of Zuranthus... but this audience is now at an end. The Astral Gate shall not be opened! They-Who-Lurk-And-Breed-In-Limbo shall not be free! Now, begone! And heed these words, Zurra... do not again seek to transcend these palisades... do not again seek to invoke the majesty of that which even now you stand trembling before... lest you discover to your eternal cost that our magnanimity is far from limitless...
ZURRA: Feh! Were Kur'oc and Guul-Kor here in your stead, they would surely hearken to me! At any rate, I do not require the blessing of the Guardians to wrest open the Gate To That Which Lies Beyond! The annals of eternity shall soon be illumined by the glorious radiance of my deeds, and the searing fire of my long denied vengeance! Woe unto my dogged nemesis and all those who dare aspire to thwart me... for my final ascendence is nigh!

Testimony of Praxeum agent Altarus on Temporal Flow breach #77689902:
When Zurra returned from his confrontation with the Guardians, we witnessed him utilize the power of the Darklight Portal to transcend the boundaries of the Temporal Flow, travelling back in time many millennia to the ancient land of Mu. One of the shards of the Lexicon had been hidden there shortly before Zurra's incarceration upon the penal asteroid Victis IV, hence his interest in the antediluvian realm. The Prime Voyager was alerted to these activities, and promptly followed Zurra through the temporal vortex to a long fated rendezvous upon Mu's ziggurat and monad studded shores...    

Zurra:  And now, I gaze once more upon the orb azure! A crystalline fragment of the Lexicon awaits me here in this primitive land... this realm of Mu.

The High Priest of Mu:He is here! The one spoken of in prophecy! The death of all there is! The Children of the Telluric Nexus shall safeguard the shard of illumination. They shall transport the shard to a plane of existence where it shall outspan even the Z'xulth Hound’s lengthy reach! Hearken Zurra! You shall not have the shard, o’ acolyte of ruin! Begone! There is naught for thee here in Mu!

Zurra:How dare you aspire to thwart me! I am the god Zurra! I have given proud Atlantis to the sea, shattered ancient Lemuria beneath my fist, and razed the arrogant spires of Ys to gleaming rubble! This is the end of your world! I shall remake all creation in my image!

The Chief Cultist of Zurra:You have come, master, as it was foretold in the Thirteen Prophecies! We, your loyal servitors have waited a thousand years for you to bless us with your divinity! What is thy bidding, o’ mighty and omniscient Zurra?

Zurra:You dare address me? You humans are but perverse experiments cobbled together in the laboratories of the Ersatz Ones from fragments of proselyte cells and the DNA of primates! I was ancient when your ancestors were naught but protoplasmic slime! You wish to serve me? Then you may die in my name!

The Chief Cultist of Zurra:In the sweltering swathe of Zurra’s sword! Kill, kill, kill!
‘Fore the matchless might of Zurra’s wrath! Die!

The High Priest of Mu: The storm comes. On the katabatic winds rides ravening doom. Yasa-mega... Yasa-giga... Yasa-tera! May Klatrymadon preserve us!

The Keeper of The Thirteen Cryptical Prophecies Of Mu:And be it known to the Children of the Telluric Nexus, that the day of the Great Purification is at hand... as it was written long ago, in the Thirteen Cryptical Prophecies. Become one with the shard, progeny of the Nexus... embrace its power... embrace the glory of immolation!

Zurra:The shard denied me! O’ but my vengeance here shall be legendary even in the bloodied and pitiless annals of untrammelled carnage! Mankind, how ignorant thou art. Yes, death glides silently on gossamer soft wings, but her touch is harsh!
Mu is forfeit! I shall return it to the elements from which it came!

The Prime Voyager:Your folly ends here, Zurra! The Empyreal Lexicon’s power is lost to you forever! The Ersatz Ones have placed the remaining shards beyond your reach forever, but your treachery must not go unpunished! Submit to our judgement or face eternity in the confines of the Black Galaxy, the eternal limbo of your cursed kind, the vile Z’xulth!

Zurra:Rather an eternity in torment thatn incline my proud head to your baseless authority! You and your sublimely arrogant ilk, who strode the primordial surface of Pangaea and watched with disdain as life evolved in the boiling oceans... You have won nothing! My power is born of the Z’xulth... it sustains me and courses blackly through my ersatz veins! Now face the true potency of the power you seek to destroy, and behold in awe the true nature of the universe!  

The High Priest of Mu:Ascent to ecliptic! Mu and Poseidonis!
The Chief Cultist of Zurra:The Emperor commands... Uroboros to rise!
The High Priest of Mu:  Ascent to ecliptic! Mu and Poseidonis!
The Chief Cultist of Zurra:  The Emperor commands... Uroboros to rise!

The Chief Cultist of Zurra:   In the sweltering swathe of Zurra’s sword... kill, kill, kill!
‘Fore the matchless might of Zurra’s wrath... die!
In the sweltering swathe of Zurra’s sword... die, die, die!
‘Fore the matchless might of Zurra’s wrath...
(Bless us with your withering touch, o’ great one... may 
the earth tremble at your tread and may your ireful gaze
bring purifying cataclysm to the debauched hives of
mankind’s iniquities!)

Zurra:Ah, the Alpha and the Omega. As all life was created from Chaos... so shall it be DESTROYED!!!!!

 

Testimony of Praxeum agent Altarus on the destruction of Mu and the aftermath of Zurra’s battle with the Prime Voyager:

I have not witnessed such reckless and untrammelled destruction since the annihilation of splendoured Atlantis. The dark powers wielded by Zurra during his final confrontation with the Prime Voyager were the most fearful corruption of the natural sorceries of the cosmos and the hyper-technology of the elder races as I have ever beheld. The realm of Mu was consumed by a tremendous firestorm, which ravenously devoured all life on the island, and rendered all the ziggurats and monads, minarets and spires of the civilization naught but dust and rubble. A colossal cloud erupted over the realm, perversely similar in shape to the natural fungi which grow within the verdant forests of the world. I know not where Zurra came by such ruinous power, but its potency was truly terrifying to behold. At length, Zurra and the Prime Voyager battled their way back through the Darklight Portal, and the struggle entered its final phase. Enraged beyond comprehension, dread Zurra was only subdued by the combined might of the Prime Voyager’s Kl'aa cohorts and a Judgement Tetragon sent by the Mera to intercede in the battle, a truly unprecedented act of intervention on their part and testimony to the magnitude of the threat posed by the Hound of Z'xulth. The Empyreal Lexicon itself was again fragmented, its myriad shards scattered once more across the multiverse. If that cosmic codex were to ever fall into the hands of the lackeys of Chaos... the consequences for the universe would be utterly unthinkable. I only hope that the safeguards which fortify the boundaries of the Black Galaxy are potent enough to withstand any subsequent attempts at escape, and that the numerous prophecies which foretell the ultimate liberation of its malign denizens are devoid of veracity.

Reflections at the Praxeum following the annihilation of Mu:  

Xerxes:  Such devastation, master... A mighty civilization destroyed in the blinking of an eye... decimated by the madness of a rogue demi-god...
Altarus:  Demi-god? Some may call him so, but the truth is far less poetic, I fear. Zurra was created deep beneath the Pre-Cambrian sea in the spawning vats of the Ersatz Ones, an experiment gone hideously awry. He was engineered from the genetic template of the mighty Zuranthus, but a fiend of the Z'xulth contained within the gene-vaults somehow escaped and tainted the cloning matrix, resulting in a hybrid possessing the power of Zuranthus coupled with the malign and pitiless nature of the Outer Darkness. Little wonder then that Zurra chose the path he did. After being consigned to the Well of Black Flame for many centuries, Zurra escaped the incarceration of that infernal place and set forth to spread terror and destruction across the cosmos. Destruction such as that which enveloped Mu. Indeed, my young apprentice. Ancient Mu was annihilated utterly... cast to the same shark-haunted grave as would one day embrace Atlantis, Lemuria... and even proud and noble Hyperborea.
Xerxes: And what became of the treacherous one... the Chaos-dog Zurra?
Altarus: He was consumed by his own darksome power, young Xerxes. His own ability to transcend linear time damned him, in an ironic twist of fate. A splinter of his consciousness was returned to the prison beneath the Mare Imbrium, while another echo of his being was dispersed along the filaments of the space-time matrix to a period before the first battle in the War of the Lexicon was even fought. The primary facet of the black-hearted Zurra was condemned to a blighted corner of the Black Galaxy, a limbo of such unimaginable tortuous magnitude that it made the horrors endured by dread Angsaar himself seem like naught but a lover’s caress in comparison. There he yet seethes and plots with his diabolical ilk, the infernal Z'xulth.
Xerxes: Such power as was wielded by Zurra corrupted his heart, master. His quest for the Lexicon was not a desire born of the eternal search for cosmic enlightenment, but rather of a vain hope that such elucidation would allow him to understand the horrors which blighted his own nigh on immortal soul...
Altarus: You may yet one day understand the intricacies of the sidereal web, young apprentice. Come... the mists once again cloud the great cosmic eye, and the vista darkens for today. But rest assured, my youthful neophyte... there are many more stories in this vast, eternal saga yet to be told...

 

All lyrics, stories, names, places, characters and situations copyright 1993, 2006  B.A. Roberts

 

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BAL-SAGOTH: Book V  (Atlantis Ascendant)

 

lemuria

  1. The Epsilon Exordium
  2. Atlantis Ascendant
  3. Draconis Albionensis
  4. Star-Maps Of The Ancient Cosmographers
  5. The Ghosts Of Angkor Wat
  6. The Splendour Of A Thousand Swords Gleaming Beneath The Blazon Of The Hyperborean Empire (Part: III)
  7. The Dreamer In The Catacombs Of Ur
  8. In Search Of The Lost Cities Of Antarctica
  9. The Chronicle Of Shadows
  10. Six Keys To The Onyx Pyramid

 

1)  THE EPSILON EXORDIUM

From the journal of Professor Caleb Blackthorne III, discovered May 1899, near the great Temple at Tiahuanaco, Peru:

23 September: 1893
Upon extensive examination of the nefarious arcane codex known as The Epsilon Exordium, I believe my search may at last be drawing to a close. Indeed, I feel that perhaps the great discovery which has eluded me for so long may finally be within my grasp. And yet I must be cautious, for twice more have I seen the figures in the night, watching me in silence from the confines of the darkness. I cannot discern their features, only that they are vaguely human in shape, save for their arms which seem abnormally long and oddly jointed. My native guides are becoming increasingly agitated and skittish, babbling incoherently about the guardians of the tombs... citing legends from their ancestral past which speak of  mysterious travellers who reputedly came down from the stars in great silvern chariots drawn by steeds of flame.
At any rate, I have my trusted Martini-Henry .45 calibre breech-loader should these silent stalkers prove malign and ever deign to lay hold of me in the night.
I have at last translated the carvings on the stone fragment I unearthed amidst the ruins of Angkor Wat. To my astonishment, I found that it predated the construction of the temple itself by countless thousands of years, and that it spoke of the same subject as did the hieroglyphs I beheld on the wall of the concealed chamber which I and Lord Blakiston discovered within the Great Pyramid in Egypt. Successive examinations of the edifices at Giza and Karnak revealed further parallels too precise to be mere coincidence. The pieces of this great cosmic puzzle are finally beginning to fall into place...

2 October: 1893
Yes, it is as I suspected. I have long felt that the Sumerians of Mesapotamia were among the first peoples to attain elucidation concerning the dread matter I pursue. My excavations at  Lagash, Eridu, and most notably the ziggurats at Ur, have revealed truths which subsequent finds at Angkor, Egypt and Sacsahuaman only serve to consolidate. I now know that the Olmechs, the Aztecs and the Mayans were also undeniably key tendrils of this grand global web, and the unnerving truth I hitherto felt compelled to deny now seems inexorably to point to some grand and terrifying universal axiom.
It seems however, that the closer I come to enlightenment, the greater the danger becomes. Last night, one of our expedition’s chief guides disappeared without trace. His native compatriots could find no tracks, nor offer any evidence of his departure to suggest that his superstitions had finally compelled him to abandon the party... the man seems simply to have vanished inexplicably into the oppressive, sweltering dark. In light of the disappearance, I opted not to inform the group that during the darkling hours before sunrise last night I had peered from my tent to behold what I perceived to be three of the shadowy figures I have previously described moving furtively in the gloom, keeping ever just out of the illuminatory radias of our campfire.
By the time I had brought my rifle to bear, they had melted away into the fathomless shadows of the benighted jungle...

 

2)  ATLANTIS ASCENDANT

From the journal of Professor Caleb Blackthorne III, continued...

10 October: 1893
The inscriptions on the tablet I discovered seem to be a fragmentary piece of some mysterious, perhaps apocryphal, larger work; evidently a lexicon of some description, undoubtedly of antediluvian origin. The first section, as far as I can discern, tells of an era thousands of years past when countless great and advanced civilisations, apparently with the legendary Atlantis foremost amongst them, spanned the circumference of the globe. The initial passage, seemingly a celebration of Atlantis Ascendant carved by a renowned chronicler of the day,  speaks thusly:

The Chronicler of Antediluvia:
Long ago, before the Third Great Cataclysm reshaped the face of creation, one nation rose above all others in the antediluvian world... Atlantis.
This jewel in the azure sea, Atlantis Ascendant!
Pax-antediluvia, Atlantis Ascendant!
Kingdoms rise and empires fall, Atlantis Ascendant!
Pax-antediluvia, Atlantis Ascendant!
The prophecy... the prophecy! What price may the gods demand?!
(Ancient) prophecy carved in stone, (countless) aeons past by hands unknown,
Winged fiends scream forth attack, carnage as the sun burns black!

The Sage Counsel: Doomed... doomed! The end is nigh!
The Host of Z'xulth: Your realm is lost... it shall be devoured by the sea!
The Sage Counsel: The worm comes, riding the ravening oceans... the Outer Darkness disgorges its horrors!
It is foretold... Atlantis shall be destroyed!

The Atlantean Quorum:
Hear the call Atlanteans, proud we stand forever,
Mightiest of warriors, we sail across the sea.
Conquering the ancient world, a legacy eternal,
Raise the arcane sigil high, steel and sorcery!
Blessed with immortality, dreaming spires of majesty, glory crowns our destiny!
The Host of Z’xulth:
Your realm is lost... it shall be devoured by the sea!
The Chronicler of Antediluvia:
And so it was written in the stars, astride the world would stand the children of Atlantis!

And yet disturbingly, another voice, a wholly darker and more malevolent presence, can be perceived lurking within the ancient body of the inscriptions, an ominous tone which prophesizes doom and ruination for the Atlantean realm, speaking of a disastrous cataclysm foretold in the stars when the sun would burn black and the agents of some unfathomable evil would besiege Atlantis, ultimately compelling the seas to rise and devour the continent, leaving no trace of the glory which once was. These passages seem to have been deliberately obscured, and this fact combined with the passage of countless aeons and the embrace of the eternally shifting sands lamentably prevents me from translating the inscriptions on the fragment any further.

 

3)  DRACONIS ALBIONENSIS

 

The Oracle of Logres:
It was a time of change. The descendants of the Atlantean mages had fallen before the New Praesidium, and the wolves were baying at the Empire’s door. An oppressive new faith was encroaching from the east, and the sylvan liege had locked tight the gates of his arboreal realm. And so it was that towards the end of the Age of Mystery, the last of Albion’s great Dragon Lords, commanded by the glorious Lady Bright-Anya Ophidia, did gather for what would be their final battle...
The War-song of the Dragon Lords:
Dragon-phalanx rend the sky, Albion our gleaming prize,
Sentinels of land and sea, guardians of destiny.
(Prowling amongst the pecseatan; Draconis Bipedes, swift and furious beast of battle!)  
The Dragon King’s Vow:
(Dragon-Runes etched by the firey tongues of the IX Legio Draconis into the primordial stone of the great Logres Drachenstahl Cromlech):
The foes of this sceptred isle shall be driven back into the sea!
An oath sworn in battle, a vow blessed by steel,
I swear by the dragon’s blood in my veins... Wyruld Cyninga!
The War-song of the Dragon Lords:
Dragonfyre in the fray, faith and steel shall win the day,
A god to serf and king alike, the Adamantine Hammer strikes!
(Devouring the infidel outlanders; Draconis Nematoda, great winged worm of war!)
The Dragon King’s Vow:
To victory eternal... this world shall be our empire!
An oath sworn in battle, a vow blessed by steel,
I swear by the dragon's blood in my veins... and the dragon's heart that pumps it!
The Oracle of Logres:  “...craving for corpses (carrion), the dark raven shall have its say... when, competing with the wolf, it laid bare the bones of corpses.”
Wyruld Cyninga!
The Dragon King's Vow:
Dragon Imperium, Throne of the Ancient Gods, Behold the Axiom, Wyruld Cyninga!
Dragon Imperium, Behold the Axiom, All hail to Draconis Albionensis!
There is no ignominy, there is glory,
There is no servitude, there is dominance,
There is no defeat, there is victory... victory eternal!
Dragon Imperium, throne of the Ancient Gods, behold the axiom, Wyruld-Cyninga!
It is time! We shall rule, and upon our dominion the sun shall never set!

 

4)  STAR-MAPS OF THE ANCIENT COSMOGRAPHERS

 

From the journal of Professor Caleb Blackthorne III, continued...
12 October: 1893
I must commit this to the pages of my journal, while it is still vivid in my recollection... not that such a macabre vision could possibly soon be blissfully forgotten.  Just before dawn, I awoke from a fantastic and somewhat horrifying dream in which I traversed a great black cyclopean cityscape, its towering stygian walls inscribed with some form of outlandish glyphs which seemed to writhe squamously and alter their shape even as I gazed at them. A sibilant whispering which seemed at once familiar and yet intrusively alien compelled me to walk to the edge of a particularly sinister looking edifice and peer out over its precipitous perimeter. When I did so, I beheld this world of ours, recognizing vaguely the apparent shapes of the five continents, yet the entire vista seemed so distant that the whole appeared in its entirety no larger than a sphere which I could fit snugly into the palm of my hand. When I turned again to behold the looming obelisks, I found I could then easily read the previously untranslatable ciphers in the black stone. They were the words of a great thaumaturgist who had seemingly discovered a repository of aeons-old lore detailing the sidereal web of the cosmos, with arcane diagrams pinpointing certain astral portals and places of empyreal potency, a sort of pangalactic ley-line chart, if you will. Indeed, these Star-Maps Of The Ancient Cosmographersseemed to take a not insignificant toll on the author’s sanity, as evidenced by the tone of his inscriptions, which seem to suggest that in discovering this Pandora’s Box of dark elucidation, his fate was to be inexorably dogged by some nameless and implacable gloom;
The Thaumaturgist:
The Great Eye of the Universe opens! Through this astral art the secrets of the cosmos are mine to know... for the stars are my dominion!
The Last Cosmographer:
Vector-alpha, heed this warning... Lexicon, the threshold calls...
Vortex open, in Omega... Sentinels!
The Thaumaturgist:
Empowered at the periphery, ascending to the Id’s eyrie,
The cosmos feathers her nest with fire.
Ephemeral, the nexus calls, besieging cyclopean walls,
Branded deviant and pariah.
The Last Cosmographer:
Everything you have been taught about the nature of creation is a lie. This is a voyage in search of the truth. It will not be a pleasant journey.
The Thaumaturgist:
I have discovered a terrifying universal axiom which cannot be denied.
Betwixt the hammer and the anvil are forged the stars...
On the wings of the ersatz ones... through the fathomless abyss....
The Thaumaturgist’s Epiphany:
Like a blackened and baleful sun shall I gaze down from beyond the cumuli and the firmament upon you. I alone must bear the burden of this fiend-wrested lore.
New stars without number burn in the heavens, but the shadow of oblivion falls ever closer.
Lucidity through thaumaturgy, enlightened thus. Seeking solace, this opalescence, to span the stars... Zircon into pentlandite, the shifting sky. Open, the Eye is open!
And let mankind gaze at the shifting sky and know enlightenment, for the stars are my dominion!
Shortly thereafter, the dreamscape began to fade, and reality beckoned my consciousness away from the incredible vista. In truth, I was indeed glad to awaken...

 

5)  THE GHOSTS OF ANGKOR WAT

From the journal of Professor Caleb Blackthorne III, continued...
15 October: 1893
After a sleepless and oppressively feverish night spent pondering the truths which I exhumed amongst The Ghosts Of Angkor Wat, I have concluded that these perceived parallels and their possible significance carry me ever closer to the centre of this great global web, the strands of which I have been traversing in my long quest for enlightenment, and yet I now fear that the owner of this web has surely felt the tremblings I have caused along its delicate filaments, and may well feel compelled to investigate the disturbance...

 

6)  THE SPLENDOUR OF A THOUSAND SWORDS GLEAMING BENEATH THE BLAZON OF THE HYPERBOREAN EMPIRE  (Part: III)

 

THE ANTEDILUVIAN ORACLE:  Behold glorious Hyperborea, gleaming jewel of the north; an eon-veiled kingdom forever steeped in ancient legendry and the renown of its martial splendour... but of late, an ill wind whispers malignly through its opulent labyrinth of marbled citadels...

WHAT HAS GONE BEFORE:

Episode I:
THE SPLENDOUR OF A THOUSAND SWORDS GLEAMING BENEATH THE BLAZON OF THE HYPERBOREAN EMPIRE
{To be found on the second Bal-Sagoth album; “Starfire Burning Upon The Ice-Veiled Throne of Ultima Thule”}   

Episode II:
THE DARK LIEGE OF CHAOS IS UNLEASHED AT THE ENSORCELLED SHRINE OF  A’ZURA-KAI  (THE SPLENDOUR OF A THOUSAND SWORDS GLEAMING BENEATH THE BLAZON OF THE HYPERBOREAN EMPIRE:  Part: II)
{To be found on the third Bal-Sagoth album; “Battle Magic”}

NOW...

Episode III:
CRY HAVOC FOR GLORY, AND THE ANNIHILATION OF THE TITANS OF CHAOS! (THE SPLENDOUR OF A THOUSAND SWORDS GLEAMING BENEATH THE BLAZON OF THE HYPERBOREAN EMPIRE:  Part: III)

 

ALTARUS:  And so, it ends. You have learned much, young Xerxes. Your training is nigh on complete. The years which you have spent here at the Praxeum have been difficult ones, but the reward of elucidation you have gained far outweighs the hardship you have endured. Many lessons have you learned, not least of which is that knowledge is never without its price, my neophyte.
XERXES:  Yes, master Altarus. I have heeded your tutelage well, and your wisdom has been a great balm to me during the many trials I have undergone. I can now command the Mists of the Oracle, and the Great Eye of the Universe opens at my bidding. And yet, before I am placed before the final scrutiny of the Elders, I ask that I be allowed to gaze into the sidereal vista once more, to witness the final outcome of that great struggle which has so captivated me during my studies at the Praxeum.
ALTARUS:  Ah yes... the epic conflict between the Dark Liege of Chaos and the royal Scion of proud Hyperborea. Very well, my young apprentice. Command the starscape to divulge its mysteries... look deep into the fathomless mists, and the ruinous carnage of A’zura-Kai shall once again be arrayed before thine curious gaze. Aye Xerxes, thrice you have summoned the besieged and benighted vista of Hyperborea... now pay heed, for the final battle is at hand!

Chapter 7: The Last Stand Against Chaos.

ALTARUS:  And a crimson sun rose slowly over the Field of Blood... and such were the corpse-mounds of the dead that they aspired to touch that ireful orb. Slithering shadows nuzzled the massed bodies of the slain, as the King rallied the survivors of the battle against Chaos to one final act of defiance...

LORD ANGSAAR:  Impertinent mortal wormcast! Do you truly aspire to prevail against me? I am the Bane of the Atlantean Kings, the Scourge of Lemuria, Arch-Foe of the Immortals of Ultima Thule! Long before man hurled himself squamously from the primordial ooze, I waged war with gods and thwarted eternity!

ALTARUS:  Lord Angsaar, the Dark Liege of Chaos, was poised on the brink of ultimate victory. By insidious manipulation, he had carefully drawn the forces of Hyperborea to battle at the Shrine of A’zura-Kai, pitting his legions of ravening wraiths against the stalwart forces of the Hyperborean Empire, and during the fray his agents of evil had seized the Ninth Crystal of Mera from the grasp of the King. With the cosmic energies of the Shrine magnifying the empyreal power of the Ninth Crystal, Angsaar triumphantly performed the arcane rite that would sunder the sorcerous fetters which had hitherto kept his physical incarnation confined within the ancient Chamber of Slumber. Summoning the interdimensional portal which the mystic power of the Shrine allied with the sorceries of the Crystal could generate, Angsaar channelled his fiendish presence from his darksome prison directly to the death-gorged Field of Blood. Thus was the spell of confinement woven countless aeons ago by Angsaar’s immortal nemesis broken, and on that fateful day the dread Chaos-Liege strode the world of mortal men once more. The King, flanked by the few valiant survivors of the ruinous Wraith-onslaught, stood defiant before the withering glare of Chaos...

LORD ANGSAAR:  Ah, great King of Hyperborea! My mystic shackles are at last broken... I am free once more! Your army is lost,  your realm is mine... it shall be blessed with the honour of being the first to fall before my renewed onslaught!  Bow  to me in obeisance!
THE KING:  Never! For too long your diseased machinations have hung like a black pall over glorious Hyperborea... you have invaded my very dreams and sown the virulent seeds of base treachery within my court. It ends here, arch-fiend!
LORD ANGSAAR:  Feh! Yield to me, throw down your sword! Obey and I promise that your death shall be swift, if not entirely devoid of suffering!
THE KING:  I defy you!
LORD ANGSAAR:  Hyperborea shall fall! Your court shall become the heart of my new imperium! Your people shall become my lackeys, bearing the glorious burden of my sovereignty with sweet praise upon their lips!
THE KING:  I shall always defy you!
LORD ANGSAAR:  Then your pain shall etch a new legend of suffering in the benighted obelisks of the Outer Darkness, and not even that cursed blade of adamantine black steel shall preserve thee!  Die!
THE KING:  So, the final battle begins! Into the fray we ride! For the eternal glory of Hyperborea!

ALTARUS:  And the Chaos-Liege summoned the remnants of his cackling wraith-horde, commanding the unholy brood to once more hurl itself like a black tide against the now bloodied but still razor edged steel of the grim survivors of Hyperborea. With the enchantments of the Ninth Crystal still crackling in the air about the Shrine, the incorporeal frames of the wraiths were once more transmogrified into squamous pseudo-flesh, and thus vulnerable to the biting blades of the King’s depleted war-host. Rallying his forces once more, the Royal Scion of Hyperborea clove into the massed hordes of nethermost horror, his ensorcelled ebon blade hewing five-score left and five-score right, leaving a viscous and noxious trail of sundered fiends in his wake. The Arch-Wraith of Lord Angsaar, that same bestial horror which had smitten the King and seized the Crystal of Mera from his gauntleted fist, swooped screaming from the crimson sky in a bid to extinguish the life-force of the Hyperborean monarch, but the benighted blade of the King was swifter, and with a flash of noisome green light and smoke, the Arch-Wraith’s head rolled to the blood-slaked earth, its leering countenance forever frozen in a grotesque parody of un-death. And once more, like a purifying storm of righteous fury the heroes of Hyperborea dealt steel-cold and martial discipline unto the baying hounds of Chaos.
XERXES:  And yet I perceive that the wraith-horde’s number was being ever bolstered by the sorceries of the reborn Chaos-Liege... for every keening horror hacked down by a Hyperborean blade, three more were summoned from the Outer Darkness by the machinations of Angsaar. Even the courage and the grim determination of the King’s valiant force could not hope to prevail against such an overwhelming foe. But the last, best hope still remained, clutched tightly within the King’s fist! The Shadow-Sword!
ALTARUS:  Your perceptions are clear, young Xerxes. The life-essence of Angsaar’s arch-foe was still encased within the stygian sword following their last cataclysmic encounter many aeons past, and that yard of fearsome black steel spoke once more to the King in the same long dead tongue it had burned upon his mind deep within the Mountains of the Dead.One hope remained to defeat Angsaar, but it would carry with it a most terrible price for the King.

Chapter 8: The Return of the Immortal

THE ECHOES OF THE IMMORTAL:  Hearken, noble King of Hyperborea. Long ago, before life evolved from the boiling oceans of the primordial sphere, I waged furious and slaughterous battle with the Chaos-Liege over the possession of the sacred Crystals of Mera, shards of such incredible sorcerous potency that even the Empyreal Lexicon itself was no greater a prize. Although I succeeded in smiting the dark one and imprisoning him within his Chamber of Slumber, I was hammered to the brink of dissolution by the abominations of Chaos, and I thus transferred my life-essence into my Sword, that same blade which you now hold in your grasp.  I committed my fading energies to concealing the blade from the sight of man until such time as it would once more be needed to bring to bear against Chaos... aye, until such time as Angsaar reawakened. It was I who guided you to the mountainous resting place of the blade when my arch-foe marked you as central protagonist in his scheme to recover the Prime Crystal, o’ King of the North. To utterly destroy the Dark Liege of Chaos, you must join your essence with mine... we must fuse our life-forces and become one so that my full power may be unleashed against Angsaar once more. But this final deed demands the most severe of tolls, o’ noble monarch... To become as one with the immortal essence of the Shadow-Sword is to sacrifice forever your own mortality, and to forsake eternally the world of man. Are you prepared to pay this price, King of Hyperborea?
THE KING:  To preserve the sovereignty of my realm and safeguard my people from the forces of darkness? Aye! For my kingship demands no less a commitment! So be it... let this final deed be done!
THE WARRIORS OF HYPERBOREA:  Imperius Rex!
LORD ANGSAAR:  What futile gesture is this? Curse you, manling! Can you not accept the inevitability of your defeat?
THE KING:  Begone, servitor of Chaos! Your nemesis awaits thee! Return to the Outer Darkness!
LORD ANGSAAR:  You fool! You cannot comprehend your actions! I offered you sweet oblivion, and instead you have chosen tortuous damnation!
THE KING:  I would sooner suffer damnation a thousand times than bend the knee to Chaos!

ALTARUS:  And a great stillness descended over the Field of Blood. Grimly, slowly, the King held aloft the Shadow-Sword and spoke those baleful words of power which had been forever branded indelibly upon his soul. Writhing tendrils of night-dark, coruscating energy lanced from the surface of the blade, entwining the King in a pulsating chrysalis of searing sorcerous power. His eyes shone deep crimson with an illuminatory radiance not born of this world, and forces which had lain dormant since before the fall of the Third Moon stirred at last from their aeons-old slumber...

LORD ANGSAAR:  No... my eternal nemesis, you will not thwart me! Abominations rise! Destroy these mortals who vex me as the buzzing of gnats vexes a titan! Drag their impudent souls to the abyss!              
THE WARRIORS OF HYPERBOREA:  Havoc is the cry! Come, fiends of the nether-void... face righteous pattern-welded death!
LORD ANGSAAR:  Praise Chaos! By the crystal heart of Mera I shall stand deified!
THE WARRIORS OF HYPERBOREA:  Glory eternal! For our King and sacred Hyperborea!
THE KING:  Noble warriors of Hyperborea... I salute your steadfast courage. This will be my final command to you. Now come... follow your King into battle one last time. Into the fray we ride... For the eternal glory of Hyperborea!
ANGSAAR:  The circle closes... you cannot resist the unparalleled might of Chaos and the exquisite majesty of the Z’xulth! I shall unleash all the terrors of the Outer Darkness against thee! Behold the true extent of my power... My flesh is a shrine wherein all demons dwell!
Va'an Zurra, Ultaar Maaloth, Amaal-pha-gus, Me'zaa maalech!
Va'an Zurra, Ultaar Maaloth, Amaal-pha-gus, Angsaar Z'xulth!
THE WARRIORS OF HYPERBOREA:  Stand fast! Cry havoc for glory and the annihilation of the titans of Chaos! The glory of battle is nigh at last! We fight to the last man!
THE KING:  By all the gods of Hyperborea... a legacy shall be wrought by our blades... our legend shall live forever! Hear me, Angsaar! My humanity fades... my mortality dissipates as does the darkness before the glimmering kiss of the dawn! Let us finish it... Let this be our final battle!

ALTARUS:  And thus was etched into the eternal codex of the heavens the immortal legend of the Hyperborean Empire.
XERXES:  But master Altarus...  what was the outcome of the final clash? What effect did the power of the Immortal have upon the King? Did he ultimately defeat Angsaar and the horrors spawned from the Outer Darkness?
ALTARUS:  Alas Xerxes, no one knows the final outcome of the battle. Even the Great Eye of the Universe and the Mists of the Oracle are unable to ascertain the fate of the King and his army on that fate-steeped dawn. So much unparalleled and polarized arcane power was unleashed upon the Field of Blood at that instant that it has forever obscured the oracular vista and shielded the truth from the eyes of even the most talented and presentient master of the Praxeum. Today, Hyperborea is but a memory, a glorious legend which rests forever within the same fathomless shark-haunted grave as do mythic Lemuria and fabled Atlantis..
XERXES:  I shall make it a priority to ascertain the truth, master. I vow I shall channel all the skills I have learned here at the Praxeum into discovering the final fate of the King of Hyperborea!
ALTARUS:  And I believe that you may well succeed, my young apprentice. But whatever the case, one thing is certain. As long as legends endure in the cosmos and the deeds of heroes are celebrated in the annals of eternity, none who gaze in awe beyond the mists and are blessed to behold it shall ever forget the splendour of a thousand swords gleaming beneath the blazon of the Hyperborean Empire.
The End...?       

 

7)  THE DREAMER IN THE CATACOMBS OF UR

From the journal of Professor Caleb Blackthorne III, continued...

17 October: 1893
Such grim musings as have been occupying my mind of late unfortunately seem to suggest a possible link to the fate of my learned friend and colleague Doctor Ignatius Stone. That brilliant researcher was last seen in command of all his faculties whilst on an expedition to the ruins of the Sumerian city of Ur, an undertaking which preceded my own work there by some eighteen months. Stone was a gifted archaeologist who also dabbled, perhaps unwisely, in certain areas of the occult, particularly involving the various grotesqueries once worshipped as Cthonic deities by the ancient denizens of Ur. Some mysterious discovery he made whilst on an expedition to Egypt's imperious pyramids allegedly compelled him to seek the ruins of Sumeria (see: "Unfettering The Hoary Sentinels Of Karnak"), and mere days before he ventured into the ziggurats of that foreboding, mystery-haunted site, he had dispatched a letter to me claiming that he was on the verge of a truly staggering arcane discovery at Ur which would simultaneously prove the cyclical nature of human civilisation as well as immediately render redundant all previous theories on the origin of man. Whatever misfortune befell him within those aeons-old tombs robbed him irrevocably of his sanity, for when his attendants finally managed to prise open the stone door of the vast central catacomb, which had, I’m told, inexplicably shut fast behind his three-man torch-bearing party, they found two of the regularly stalwart men had seemingly expired of pure fright, while Stone was slumped against the north wall, staring vacantly into the gloom, gibbering about visitations by beings so terrible that the very contemplation of their existence would sunder a man’s tenuous hold on the reins of sanity.
When I later visited him at the sanatorium in England, I found him to be a tragic shell of the man I once knew, a man beset by imagined terrors and ever wary of the immemorial horrors which he claimed lurked at the periphery of humanity’s perceptions. Indeed, I was glad I had taken a journal into which I could transcribe his delusional rants, for he had a great deal to tell me about The Dreamer In The Catacombs Of Ur:
Doctor Ignatius Stone:  It was like some dark, dark dream. We had not heeded the warnings of the ancients, and now we would pay the price... here, within the catacombs of Ur.
Lost within the lightless catacombs of Ur... Entombed within the ziggurats!
The Keeper of the Ancient Lore of Ur: Trapped forever in the catacombs of Ur... your screams are heard in Babylon!
Doctor Ignatius Stone: Warnings etched into the cuneiform tablets of Ur... Entombed within the ziggurats!
The Keeper of the Ancient Lore of Ur: Behold the great Cthonic deities of Ur... Your screams are heard in Babylon!
Doctor Ignatius Stone: What aeons-old slumber has our meddling disturbed?
The Keeper of the Ancient Lore of Ur: Behold the great Cthonic deities of Ur... Your screams echo in the abyss...
Doctor Ignatius Stone: Trapped forever in the catacombs of Ur... There is something in here with us!
Here, beneath the eternally shifting sands, I sought enlightenment... but found only damnation!
The Chief Cultist of Ur: You have defiled the sanctity of this sacred place! Laagash, Nippurr, Shurupak, Kullah, Ur, Eridu.
The Keeper of the Ancient Lore of Ur: Ancient before the Fifth Cataclysm, here between the two rivers in Ur the Dreamer waits! And when the seal of the seventh city is broken, then shall the dreamer in the catacombs of Ur awaken!
Forsaken (when His darksome splendorous glory eclipses it) burns the sun,
Enthrone (the eternally) benighted one, Usurper of the skies.
Named in (that black, shunned tome of ) forbidden lore,
Destined to rule (this telluric sphere and the myriad stars beyond) once more,
The Dreamer shall arise!
Now, let the Gate yawn wide and the horrors of the Abyss engulf the earth, for the Dreamer in the catacombs is risen!
How many of my colleague’s rants were merely the result of his psychosis and how many were actually born of fact, I cannot discern... nor in truth do I wish to.

(For the events immediately prior to "The Deamer In The Catacombs Of Ur", detailing Doctor Ignatius X. Stone's expedition to Egypt, see "Unfettering The Hoary Sentinels Of Karnak")

 

8)  IN SEARCH OF THE LOST CITIES OF ANTARCTICA

From the journal of Professor Caleb Blackthorne III, continued...
20 October, 1893
I have long felt the celebrated map of Admiral Piri Reis, which quite astoundingly depicts the continent of Antarctica in a state wholly free of the ice which has bound it ceaselessly since time immemorial,  to be of far wider and more resonant implications to humanity than the proud echelons of the scientific community will ever dare admit. I believe that beneath the ice-veiled surface of that southernmost continent lie the remnants of time-lost civilisations which were ancient even before fabled Atlantis sank beneath the waves. Indeed, further translation of the sigils engraved into the antediluvian artefact has imbued my oft derided theory with an unmistakable aura of veracity. Piecing together the fragmentary records evidenced in this incredible relic, whilst simultaneously cross referencing the resultant lore with information gleaned from other sources on the same theoretical subject, I have been able to extrapolate a meaning from the arcane carvings which transcends all but my most fevered imaginings. What mighty cyclopean structures once towered skyward where now only the desolate wind-whipped ice-wastes endure? What splendid peoples once throve where now only the hardiest and most resistant forms of life subsist? This ancient and wondrous testament is truly an elucidatory blessing to such idealistic questors as I, who are forever In Search Of The Lost Cities Of Antarctica:
The Explorer:  Beneath the ice, the endless ice of Pangaea’s now axial eternally frozen frontier, entombed for countless millions of years... the lost cities of Antarctica!
Secrets locked within the ice, the endless ice of Antarctica,
‘Neath the peak of Erebus the First Ones sleep, Lords of Pangaea,
Cities lost within the night, the frozen night of Antarctica,
Pre-Cambrian, the Voyagers, beyond the stars, Lords of Pangaea.
The Testament of the Winds:
Once, the coruscating spires of man here offered their splendour to the heavens. Now, those spires gleam no more, save in dreams of verdant plains, save in dreams of time-lost citadels.
Legacy of a utopia lost, forever enshrined ‘neath the ice...
Echoes of the First Ones:
Sail across Panthalassa to Gondwanaland,
Three moons to guide us on this voyage across the sea,
Sail across Panthalassa to Gondwanaland,
New lands to conquer and claim for our progeny.
The Testament of the Winds: Before the Third Moon fell from orbit, before the Nine Continents were formed from Pangaea’s shattered surface...
On the eve of the Third Moon's fall from the tortured sky,
On the eve of the cataclysm, the stars align...
Hewn from the Pre-Cambrian rock, behold this primordial metropolis!
And the First Ones shall awaken on that day, when man will return to the stars!
Echoes of the First Ones: We, who were before Man, are destined to be the architects of his future!
The Explorer: And humanity shall one day rediscover the secrets long-frozen within the lost cities of Antarctica!
It is true... a vast ice-bound megalopolis lies concealed beneath our very feet... as does one of the axial entrances to this planet's inner world! There will come a day when the ingenuity of man shall pierce that impenetrable shield of ice which keeps Antarctica’s wonders from our inquisitive gaze, and I truly believe that day shall herald a glorious new era of enlightenment for us all.

 

9)  THE CHRONICLE OF SHADOWS

 

The Imperator of the Night
(Hearken to the Attestation of the Sinistrous):
For it is the iniquity of man which compels him to these tenebrous gates, seeking opiate dreams and the alluring embrace of oblivion...
Know that I have cavorted beneath the horned moon with repellent fiends, and liberated virgins from the burden of their maidenhood.
(Supping deep of that sweet ichor and revelling in the sanguineous megrims my ophidian tongue has wrought.)    
Tyrannic I am where the Serpent dwells, the lissome embrace of the succubi,
Like a wolf in the fold, red of tooth and claw, enthroned beneath black nether-skies.
Such adoration bestowed upon me beneath the cryptic moon...
Shadows stalk the viscid gloom, (beware the) blades of the assassins,
The call of Ul-Yeh in the air, the crystal skull is shattered,
A veil of cloud about the moon, (fevered) dreams of (trenchant) steel and fire,
Hearken to the slithering, the envenomed kiss of night.
The Imperator of the Night
(Thus Spake the Chronicle of Shadows):
Such adoration bestowed upon me beneath the cryptic moon!
Ah, the sepulchral throng of tortured souls, supine before the pitiless evil of the abyss...
Caressed by ululant lotus-stained tongues...
(Behold the true purity of that which lurks concealed beneath the mantle of shadow, and let the deluded, debauched sybarites flee in terror from that darkness which they profess to embrace!)
On the wings of a charnel wind I return, as the temples of flaccid piety burn... Caressed by ululant lotus-stained tongues...
Beyond the spheres of light and darkness, beneath distant pallid stars, I bring the iridescent glimmer of forbidden truth, seared in the crucible of blasphemy!
And ecstasy shall reside in the inexorable culmination of this sublime nightmare...
For amorphous they come, steeped in the fetor of ten thousand years,
Abhorrent colossi spawned from the sinistrous cosmic spheres.
Shadows dance at my bidding, demons execute my every whim...
And upon their tongues, vile secrets so terrible sweet madness is a redolent balm!
The Imperator of the Night
(Revel in the Triumph of the Dark):
I shall glut the maw of that ineffable nameless evil which lurks forever in the soul of man, for so it is written in the Chronicle of Shadows... 

 

10)  SIX KEYS TO THE ONYX PYRAMID

From the journal of Professor Caleb Blackthorne III, continued...
29 October, 1893
They came in the night, and butchered five of my party, the terrified survivors fleeing with the first wan light of dawn. The fiends seemed inexplicably to be an extension of the night, as if their misshapen bodies were actually somehow composed of the darkness itself. Even as I gazed directly at them, I found I could not truly focus on their stygian forms... their bodies appearing to shimmer and shift like the ripples of a heat-haze upon an arid plain. My ammunition, discharged in vain, is all but spent... and now, as night unfurls its malign wings once more to enshroud this desolate and forsaken place, I wait alone for the sunrise I fear I shall never see. At dusk I discovered a hidden alcove in the time-raught surface of the great monolith which stands as a mute sentinel before the entrance to the colossal temple; a moss encrusted crevice concealed from the eyes of man for I know not how long. As the darkness massed about me, a strange miasma seemed to grip my mind in tenebrous tendrils, and I beheld that horrifying and immemorial edifice which I now feel certain once cast its diabolical shadow upon the Gate of the Sun. It is all true, everything I feared, everything which I dared  imagine only in the blackest embrace of the most narcotic malignity. Curse the treachery of Hildebrandt and the Quorum! There are Six Keys To The Onyx Pyramid, which conceal a terrifying truth never intended to be grasped by the woefully fragile mind of Man. I now pray that no unfortunate soul ever again stumbles as close as I to those cryptic axioms which lie ever in wait between the incorporeal veils of light and shadow. I would offer up a prayer to the divinity which once I worshipped, but I know it would echo emptily through the abyssal reaches of the unheeding cosmos. As I scrawl this final entry in my journal, the sun sinks with a chilling finality below this now alien horizon. I know the shadowy figures shall soon return to claim me. I must fortify myself for the onset of the night...

 

 
All lyrics, stories, names, places, characters and situations copyright 1993, 2006  B.A. Roberts

                                 

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BAL-SAGOTH: Book VI (The Chthonic Chronicles)

 

lemuria

  1.  The Sixth Adulation Of His Chthonic Majesty 
  2. Invocations Beyond The Outer-World Night
  3. Six Score And Ten Oblations To A Malefic Avatar
  4. The Obsidian Crown Unbound  (Episode: IX)
  5. The Fallen Kingdoms Of The Abyssal Plain
  6. Shackled To The Trilithon Of Kutulu
  7. The Hammer Of The Emperor
  8. Unfettering The Hoary Sentinels Of Karnak
  9. To Storm The Cyclopean Gates Of Byzantium 
  10. Arcana Antediluvia
  11. Beneath The Crimson Vaults Of Cydonia
  12. Return To Hatheg-Kla

 

 

 

 

 

 

1)  THE SIXTH ADULATION OF HIS CHTHONIC MAJESTY

From a fragmentary transcription of the sixth Latin edition of the Chthonic Chronicles, believed lost during the great fire of London in 1666:

"O', great and luminous one, who came from beyond the stars to slumber serene beneath the earth of the third sphere, hearken to me! Hear me, o' mighty one, o' great Khthon! Awaken and hear my adulation, o' divine and glorious god of gods! From thy hoary tomb thou shalt ascend, and the earth shall be enraptured by thy majesty!"

"Khthon! To the ancient Lemurians, you assumed the guise of a beautiful azure-skinned woman with great black wings, to the Atlanteans you manifested as a brilliant fiery sphere of searing radiant energy, to the peoples of Ultima Thule and Hyperborea you took the form of a titanic crystalline dragon. Yet your true form is beyond the ken of men, darker than the blackest heart of deepest night, more terrifying than the very essence of fear itself... thou art terror incarnate! From the timeless void you came, son of the Z'xulth! Falling like a burning star from the black heavens! Praise the Dwellers In Eternal Shadow! Glory to They-Who-Lurk-And Breed-In-Limbo!

 

Excerpts from translator's cautionary notation:

"Behold these repositories of fearful arcane knowledge, tomes of aeons-old cursed lore which was surely ancient even when the ill-fortuned antediluvian civilizations which initially articulated it first committed such dread lexicons of terror to shuddering memory! Fear these legendary encyclopaedia antediluvia, these ebon necronomica of shunned rites and diabolical adulations! The Tome of Shadows, the Forbidden Books of the First Cataclysm, the Epsilon Exordium, the Scrolls of the Third Circle, the Oracle of Antediluvian Blasphemies, the Diabolist's Lexicon, the Arcana Atra Libri, the Thirteen Cryptical Prophecies of Mu, the Manuscripts of the Cultists of Ur, the Chronicle of Shadows, the Black Bible of  Kor-Avul-Thaa, the Ancient Book of the Six Keys, the Cydonia Manifesto, the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, the Star-Maps of the Ancient Cosmographers, the Cursed Books of the Z'xulth, the Praxeum Codex, the Chthonic Chronicles!
I now know that there is something  inestimably evil at large throughout the cosmos. It is a ravenous and pitiless storm which rages across the universe, permeating the very fabric of creation, existing simultaneously in all dimensions, wholly unconstrained by linear time. This force is the black, quasi-sentient mana which sustains such ageless revenants of the Z'xulth as the dread Dwellers In Eternal Shadow and the unspeakable They-Who-Lurk-And-Breed-In-Limbo. When beings whose essences are intrinsically malefic choose to embrace this darksome energy source, the resultant sinister symbiosis can be sublimely diabolical, as evidenced by the black blight that was the infamous pseudo-human sorcerer Lord Angsaar! And of course, the malign Zurra, that abominable result of an experiment by the Ersatz Ones gone disastrously wrong; an ill advised attempt to clone the Kl'aa genetic template of mighty Zuranthus in the Mera spawning vats beneath the Pre-Cambrian sea, only for the matrix to become contaminated by the errant cells of a captured fiend of Z'xulth! The result was a prime fiend whose capacity for evil and wanton annihilation was exceeded only by a penchant for self agrandizement and his rampant psychological instability. In many cases, the potential for ruination and dominion that such entities may aspire to is constrained only by their own physical and psychological limitations, as the toll which the dark mana takes upon the host's mind and flesh is not insignificant..."

 

2)  INVOCATIONS BEYOND THE OUTER-WORLD NIGHT

The Testament Of The Winds:
Many thousands of years ago, they ruled the globe. But the pressing fist of great power carried a heavy price, and now their dominion has fallen beyond time and shadow. Look now, to the interior world...

The Explorer:
Ah yes, this ancient map (its true origin unknown... mayhap even crafted by the same vaunted cartographer as the infamous Piri Reis map itself?) won in a game of cards at Portsmouth docks... a fortuitous hand indeed! (This could eclipse even Blackthorne's discoveries in Antarctica!)
Wagered by a grizzled mariner (in whose weary rum-addled gaze gleamed the knowledge of something far greater)...
Twin axial portals to the inner reaches... one at the very polar pinnacle of the world, the other hidden beneath the lost ice-bound megalopolis! (See also: "In Search Of The Lost Cities Of Antarctica")

Seeking answers to the cryptic riddles of the universe,
Secrets of the blackest (most impenetrable) deeps of the umbra,
Wreathed in frozen shadow and ice-bound peril,
Subterrene halls of horripilated wonderment...

Tatsumaki Maru voyage north, ever north!
Cleave a path through the massing Arctic ice,
Agleam with all the colours of the aurora,
Far beyond Ny Alesund lies our goal.

Wreathed in frozen shadow and ice-bound peril, agleam with all the colours of the aurora,
The portal to the tenebrous cryptic core of this world's subterrene inner sanctums.

Invocations and ideograms (dreams of the Xtaxehedron?),
Conjuration of the inner world's (tenebrous) denizens,
And their star-spanning progenitors, spawned beyond the outer-world night.

Hail Klatrymadon, Ave Zuranthus,
Arise great Kur' oc, come forth, lord Guul-Kor
Zul'tekh, Xuk'ul
Ka-kur-ra, Xothan-Kur,
Kur' oc, Guul-Kor,
Azor Vol-thoth

These darkling subterrene dominions, astir with strange and terrible beings, sired by entities whose genesis
was far beyond the nighted void of our own outer-world! The legacy of the First Ones, spawn of the Mera! But, it is here written that one day, when even the War of the Lexicon and the cataclysmic Great Chaos War have faded to naught but distant memory, a great conflict shall be waged between the forces of Order and the dread avatars of the Z'xulth. Vile fiends of the Outer Darkness, They-Who-Lurk-And-Breed-In-Limbo, The Dewllers In Eternal Shadow unleashed through The Gate To That Which Lies Beyond! The Black Galaxy disgorges its malignant horrors! Mankind shall suffer inestimably at the hands of these sinistrous black titans of maleficent Chaos!

Ebon ziggurats and monads beneath the earth... A Vril-Sun rising!

These stygian pitch-black vaults are filled with batrachian devils,
Dire crystalline watch-dogs of the chasmed deeps,
(For the gleaming jewels of truth are not without their protection...)
Vril-gorged adamantine fiends of the threshold,
Spawn of the ersatz interior sun. (Behold, a vast plasma-fuelled crystalline illuminatory orb... a vril-sun rising! And marvel at the colossal terra-forming machineries of the First Ones!)

Quaere verum... Sic itur ad astra!

The Testament Of The Winds:
Far, far beneath the surface of this coruscating sphere, at the very core of our mysterious globe, lies
the true path to man's dark destiny beyond the heavens...

 

3)  SIX SCORE AND TEN OBLATIONS TO A MALEFIC AVATAR

The following are excerpts from handwritten notes discovered secreted in a hidden alcove in the west wing of the Phillips-Ervin Museum, London, England. Sealed in a leather canister, the aged script was accompanied by an ornate bronze key of unknown origin. The author of the journal remains unidentified, and the artifact was only chanced upon following the museum's partial destruction during the spring of 1941...

Fragmentary entry I:
I have come into possession of a certain ancient book, a collection of arcane scrawlings reputed to have been derived from an even earlier transcription, allegedly lost during the great fire of 1666. The Chthonic Chronicles! I cannot disclose here the precise and rather unsavoury means by which I acquired this weather-worn tome, but I immediately recognized the veracity of the fevered inscriptions contained within. Apparently derived from an incomplete Latin translation of the original source material, the text sporadically lapses into an indecipherable tongue which the transcription cryptically notes as being Old High Atlantean. Glyphs, sigils, occult pictograms, six score and ten oblations to some malign entity of colossal evil...some diabolical avatar of the Z'xulth. Khthon! I must delve further into the foreboding depths of this great black book...

Terrifying axioms, shadow-haunted lexicon,
Clandestine cults, ancient spells, cryptic rites, the summoning!
Lore from time immemorial, acolytes, diabolists,
Blackened tome of blasphemy, the Chthonic Chronicles!

Lore derived from ancient tongues, Grimm's Hold Sanitarium,
Oblations here, six score and ten, this avatar, malevolent!

Fragmentary entry II:
Caught in the maleficent whorls and verticils of this dark tome... but what lies at the heart of it? A vespertine viper's nest of sublime wickedness! What I discovered within this shadow-haunted volume was a terrifying axiom so inestimably terrible in its magnitude that it would shatter all man's carefully orchestrated views of the cosmos and render utterly redundant previous theories on the origin of humankind. Lore dating from time immemorial; lore surviving in the records of long extinct civilizations, be it inscribed upon parchment now crumbled to dust, etched into the sand-whipped, glyph-scored stone of hoary temples, or committed to verbal traditions long since ingrained into some collective tribal memory. This is no globally common myth cycle, no collection of universally allegorical folk tales; it is all cold, pitiless truth!
And yet, such enlightenment has not been a prize easily won...I have communed with native shamans, consulted with misanthropic diabloists, I have confronted the martial agents, acolytes and cultists of clandestine sects who would see their knowledge safeguarded at all costs. Hildebrandt and the Quorum have treacherously attempted to have me commited to the baleful confines of Grimm's Hold Sanitarium, yet I have circumvented their insidious plot to put an end to my vaunted research. Damn their traitorous eyes! I must confer with Blackthorne upon his return from the Peruvian expedition... or mayhap Stone if ever the poor wretch regains his sanity...

Stygian gramarye, etched with blasphemy,
Whorls and verticils, black with baleful spells,
Vespertine conjurings, doomsayer's prophecy,
Pellucid lotus-dreams, spawn of the elder fiends,
Cryptic halls, squamous mass, malevolent diabolist,
Black desire, nighted woe, shunned and forbidden tome,
Brooding dark, deepest night, ritual, abhorrent sight,
Whispering, malignity, hearken to the summoning!

(This black desire, this nighted woe, this vile shunned and forbidden tome,
In the brooding darkness of the night, now witness this abhorrent sight,
The whispering, malignity, now hearken to the summoning!)

Fragmentary entry III:
What titanic demi-gods once strode the boiling surface of the young earth, treading the shattered surface of mighty Pangaea beneath their ersatz feet? What fearsome entities were already inestimably ancient when mankind himself was naught but a collection of mindless random atoms, a viscous puddle of gelid protoplasm teeming with the raw materials of life, transient cells of primordial slime, all naught but malleable and tractable clay to be worked at by unimaginable sculptors, immortal star-spanning fiends! What inhuman eyes even now watch the inconsequential toilings of man from afar? The answers to these questions of denied primacy and direful cosmogony were too repulsively horrific to contemplate, and yet...  I knew the truth!
And more terrifying still... The Z'xulth and their villainous agents of depravity even now walk among us! 
But what price these revelations? What dire agents of malignity safeguard such cryptic axioms against the prying intellect of man? I must confesss, oftimes in the brooding darkness of the night, I have sensed their malefic gaze upon me, lurking, inexorably dogging my every step, their existence perceived only as some unnamable sense of fearful unease, and the occaisional glimpse of black shimmering against black in the depths of the teeming shadows... I hear them whispering when the mantle of darkness silences the world, and the sibilant words they utter are not for the minds of men to know. O' how I wish I had left those vile and fathomless depths of cryptical lore wholly and mercifully unplumbed! O', how I long for the assuaging balm of ignorance to once again soothe my ravaged mind! But such pleadings are, of course, ultimately in vain. I must keep my wits about me. Even now the stars align, the celestial spheres moving into the prophesied positions of the great astral conjunction. Am I to be ground to dust between the grand gears of this pitiless cosmic engine of destruction? The die is cast, the endgame nears.
Wait... they come, they come for me! Is it Hildebrandt, or something far, far worse which stalks me this night? The key... I must hide the key!

 

4)  THE OBSIDIAN CROWN UNBOUND  (Episode: IX)

 

From Sage Daelun's "Chronicles of Antediluvia", volume XVIII:
Episode I: The Fall of the Shadow-King
Episodes II & III: The History of the Great Wars 
Episodes IV-VI: The Rise of the Imperium 
Episode VII: The Quest for the Trinity of Might
Episode VIII: And Lo, When The Imperium Marches Against Gul-Kothoth, Then Dark Sorceries Shall Enshroud The Citadel Of The Obsidian Crown  (recounted on the second Bal-Sagoth album; "Starfire Burning Upon The Ice-Veiled Throne Of Ultima Thule)
Episode IX: The Obsidian Crown Unbound (The Legions of the Imperium Storm the Cloud-Capped Palisades of Gul-Kothoth)
(here recounted on the sixth Bal-Sagoth album; "The Chthonic Chronicles")
Episode X: The Shadow-King Reborn
Episode XI: The Battle of the Nine Armies (The War of the Crown)
Episode XII: The Great Rebellions and the Dissolution of the Imperium

The Obsidian Crown Unbound (The Legions of the Imperium Storm the Cloud-Capped Palisades of Gul-Kothoth)

Chapter 11: The Siege Begins

And so the mighty and resplendent armies of the Imperium assembled before the towering cyclopean walls of ancient Gul-Kothoth. It was some time before the billowing dust cloud raised by the massed arrival of the vast imperial host settled, ultimately dissipating as the shadows of dusk descended. With nightfall, the imperial army's countless torches, braziers and cookfires illumined the dark plain before the fortress like a coruscating sea, painting the stygian heavens the colour of flame. And the high summer's night passed swiftly. At length, the dawn approached tentatively, and with the first signs of the newborn sun etching its promise upon the skies, the martial preparations commenced in earnest. A brief and perfunctory exchange between the Imperial Herald and the fortification's Watch Commander held no surprises, and the Emperor's banner was duly driven into the seared earth before Gul-Kothoth with a chilling finality. Vast siege engines and powerful ballistae were hauled inexorably into position, alongside a battery of katapelte and petrobolos. The one hundred thousand strong Imperial Frontier Army, having planted their regimental blazons into the arid soil, waited with a disciplined patience born of never having met defeat in pitched battle or siege, the dreaded Imperial War-Leopards straining noisily against their iron-link leashes to the rear of the cohorts of conscripts and auxillieries. The pitiless Iron Phalanx and their Lord Militant Commander had assumed position at the head of the army's Alpha Wing, polished swords, spears and poll-axes reflecting the glow from the myriad torches and braziers which still burned about the Imperial Host. And behind them were drawn up the legendary Legion of the Ebon Tiger, Pride of the Emperor, the infantry and cavalry famed throughout the Great Northern Continent, personal regiment of the feared general Baalthus Vane. True to their martial reputation, the six thousand strong Legion were inscrutible in their jet black armour, their sable banner billowing in the chill breeze which skittered over the plain. And finally, astride his azure-shaffroned warhorse and surrounded by his elite guard, the silvern-armoured Emperor Koord himself studied the precipitious gates with a disdainful scrutiny. At the Emperor's right hand was the renowned Swordmaster of Kyrman'ku, an eastern bladesman of preternatural skill and the most revered and expensive mercenary in the Imperium. At his left, the infamous Ogre-Mage of the Black Lake brooded silently, swathed in a stygian cloak and fuliginous cowl and exuding an aura of implacable malevolence which unerved even the bravest of the Imperial troops. The Emperor had deemed the services of these two nefarious renegades pivotal to the execution of the Final Campaign, for they alone had knowledge of the mysterious arcane rite known as The Words Which Unfetter.
And, behind their titanic time-worn palisades, the defenders of Gul-Kothoth beheld this awesome force ranged against them and shuddered, not with fear, but with an awful and night-cold anticipation.

THE EMPEROR KOORD: General Vane, we begin the final stage of this campaign with the rising of the sun. This war which has raged for decades shall finally be decided here, before the hoary walls of ageless Gul-Kothoth. The Imperium's last and most glorious victory is at hand. The procrastinating sybarites of the bureaucracy have been threatened and bribed into compliance over this venture. This more than anything else is why I have deigned to grace this final battle with my Imperial presence, even against the advice of the Grand Vizier and the sage counsel of the Seers.
BAALTHUS VANE: You shall enjoy watching the Ebon Tiger bloody its claws, sire. Our victory here is assured.
THE EMPEROR KOORD: You should not call in your falcons before the hunt is done, my loyal servitor. Overconfidence is but one of the many foes a general must face upon the field of war. Today, the precepts and maxims of the Imperium shall be tested, and we shall see whether the velvet glove of diplomacy or the iron gauntlet of conquest has proved the more effective tool. 
BAALTHUS VANE: The days of the feudal suzerainties are long gone, my liege. The Imperial Military Council is the only entity fit to govern the dominions. The fall of Vyrgothia shall today render the truth of the Imperial Mandate self evident.      
THE EMPEROR KOORD: And yet I am vexed, for as you well know, the sorcerous emmisary I despatched to the Court of the Over-King has warned that the Vyrgothians may have recovered one of the artefacts comprising the fabled Trinity of Might; the legendary Obsidian Crown itself! In the hands of a skilled thaumaturgist, it is said that the Crown may be used as a weapon of unparalleled destructive potency.
BAALTHUS VANE: The Shadow-Sword! The Obsidian Crown! The Ebon Sceptre! Feh! The power of the Trinity is but a myth! No antiquated trinket weilded by a religious fanatic will prevail against the Legion, sire. Our steel is proof against such diabolism! Behold! Gul-Tryarch has fallen, Gul-Azlaan has been given to the earth, Gul-Nomedes is naught but smouldering rubble, and soon we shall surge over the shattered remnants of Gul-Kothoth's renowned walls! The Vyrgothian Alliance shall crumble when these gates are breached, and the Over-King himself shall stand before thee in shackles!
THE EMPEROR KOORD: Indeed. At any rate, I have been blessed with foresight enough to prepare a contingency should the foe fulfil that fearful potential which has been weighing heavy on my mind. But now, the sun rises! Let it begin! Let the final chapter of our legend be written! Give the word! Raze Gul-Kothoth to the ground!

The Imperial War-Skalds:
An age of fire, sword and shield,
The thunder of the battlefield,
The clarions call, bring down the wall!
May the Empire's glory never fade,
Righteous fury guide our blades,
We march to war!

The Wizards of Vyrgothia:
Darkly bejewelled circlet of night, Crown of the Elder King,
Unfettered at last the Trinity of Might, the Sceptre, the Sword and the Ring!

 

Chapter 12: The Fall of Gul-Kothoth

And so it was that a terrible and inestimable carnage was unleashed upon the field of battle. Colossal stones, firebrands and howling iron-tipped missiles rained pitilessly down upon the hero-hewn walls of Gul-Kothoth. Vast and serpentine cracks appeared in the ancient cyclopean edifice, and hundreds of warriors, both attackers and defenders, perished in the fray, either crushed beneath the ceaselessly assailed testudo, hammered to crimson pulp by the merciless storm of unforgiving stone, or burned to blackened husks by the nightmare onslaught of flaming quicklime and saltpetre. Scaling ladders raised and repulsed in turn, storms of razor tipped shafts exchanged by the combatants, isolated skirmishes raging upon the ramparts, men blade to blade and clarions bellowing embattled defiance. For seemingly inumerable hours the sanguineous battle raged, with no quarter asked nor given between the bitter ancestral foes. And the gates held firm.
At length, the mightiest of the Empire's iron-hooded battering rams, dubbed The Bringer of Woe, was brought to bear upon the besieged fortress, and, with the shadows of dusk lengthening upon the field of war, the centuries old Primary Gate of Gul-Kothoth was finally sundered amidst an earsplitting cacophony of shattering oak and iron louder than any storm-born thunderclap. With the rending of the mighty gate, and vast fragments of the ancient walls yielding, buckling and crashing to the blood-sodden earth, the Imperium's forces breached the defenses of Gul-Kothoth and surged into the Vyrgothian Alliance's last and most renowned stronghold.
And it was at that fate-steeped instant that an army of five score and ten, bearing the Obsidian Crown, arrived upon the field of battle.

Chapter 13: The Wizards Do Battle

THE SORCERER:  By Klatrymadon and Zuranthus! They come! They come, weilding the Circlet of Night! The dire warning issued to me as I stood before Vyrgothia's Master Wizard has been proved no idle boast! The citadel's spells of containment breached... the Black Crown is upon us! 
THE EMPEROR KOORD:  It is as I have forseen! Be spry, my sorcerous lackey... join the Iron Phalanx in entertaining these latecomers while I prepare a reception worthy of their audacity!
THE SORCERER: By your command, o' luminous Imperial majesty!

At once, the far-feared and martially renowned Iron Phalanx wheeled to face the newcomers, and at the command of a decurion, a volley of armour-piercing shafts screamed skywards to rain down mercilessly upon the foe. And even as this transpired, the Emperor's Prime Sorcerer, emissary of the Imperial Court and master of those arts which speak to man in narcotic dreams from the darkest and most silent places, summoned forth that black potency which lay entwined in stygian tendrils within his mind...  an ireful power born of they who writhed upon the shores of Pangaea before man's progenitors ever erected their lofty spires to the restless skies. And yet Vyrgothia's Master Wizard, unrivalled Arch-Mage and adept of that lost Eastern order who journey beyond the boundaries of time and space upon those nebulous wings born of the sacred Azure Lotus, rose to meet this power which lapped at the periphery of his mind like a midnight tide, and stood firm against its insistent siren call.
And upon that arid field of war, the sentinels of light and shadow spoke to eachother in tongues dormant since the Third Moon fell burning from the heavens, and not sweet were the words they uttered.
Until at last, with the armies poised to clash, and with dusk painting the sky a deep crimson exceeded in its vibrancy only by that bloody rubicund hue which stained the battlefield below it, the Emperor's mage fell, and the aeons-old might of the Obsidian Crown was finally brought to bear against they who had breached the walls of ancient Gul-Kothoth.

The Imperial War-Skalds:
Sundered, the gate of the ancient fortress,
Besieged! Now breached stand the walls.
And lo, there and army of five score and ten,
Behold! The Obsidian Crown.
Embattled, the wizards, their weapons arcane,
Untramelled, the circlet, the Prime-Sorcerer slain,
The Crown's peerless power, the Emperor's bane,
Dark magicks and havoc, now red carnage reigns!

Like the prow of a blood-hungry vessel of war rending the waves of a midnight sea, a luminescent blade of shrieking cerulean light lanced from the legendary black circlet locked tight within the gnarled hand of the Master Wizard, and clove mercilessly into the glorious ranks of the Imperium. And all who were touched by this ruinous arc of coruscating radiance knew no more... Men and beasts reduced to blackened husks, charred shells of smouldering ash, lifeless effigies which toppled to the seared earth to be dissipated by the whispering breath of the wind. Again and again the ravaging radiance smote the ranks of the Empire, leaving a noisome charnel-pit of nightmare in its crackling wake. The forces of the Imperium were plunged into a howling vortex of disarray, and, faced with the unthinkable prospect of defeat, the unprecedented first routing of the Emperor's glorious army began to become a grim reality. Yet for all the unparalleled carnage which had erupted about them, there was one regiment of Imperial troops for whom the taste of fear was bland compared to the sharp tang of rage which sat bitter upon their noble tongues...   

BAALTHUS VANE:  By all the gods of war! Stand fast, hounds of the Imperium! 'Tis true... steel is no use against this ignoble magical trickery! But if our souls are bound for the Pit this day, we'll damn well take a few of these bastards with us! Onward, my Legion! Alpha formation, banners high! Glory to the Emperor! Into the foe! Show them the Tiger's claws!
THE LEGION: Never quarter, never mercy, never retreat! Praise the Emperor!  
THE EMPEROR KOORD:  My sorcerous thrall has fallen, but he has bought us time enough to riposte! And General Vane's mettle may yet turn the tide of war back in our favour. Now, let the final act be played out! I call thee forth, Ogre-Mage of the Black Lake! I call thee forth, Swordmaster of Kyrman'ku! It is time! Now, I charge thee, for the glory of the Imperium... Speak the Words Which Unfetter! 

And so, it began... the two pivotal players in the Emperor's plan, the two key figures in the Imperium's contingency, stepped forth to fill their most vital of roles in that grand theatre of carnage which now ran unchecked on the field of battle.
The Ogre-Mage and the Swordmaster began to utter fearsome words in a tongue which was ancient ere the gleaming stars shifted upon the fathomless countenance of the distant heavens, words which in truth were not words, but rather a resonant key which would aspire to unlock a dire power which had reposed shackled since the fall of the legendary Shadow King himself, whose ebon circlet's power they even now sought to thwart. The incantation they gave voice to in the midst of that sanguineous turmoil which engulfed them was not so much heard by those within earshot as perceived, sensed as a vague disturbance in the fabric of reality, as fuliginous ripples on the surface of a hitherto still and placid pool, growing ever larger and more far reaching; an unnerving and unnamable sense of change which insinuated itself into the mind of the listener and suggested with a cold and disturbing quasi-certainty that something of preternaturally ineffable magnitude was transpiring, as surely as a festering and gangrenous corpse would split to spill its noisome gore. And as that maddeningly implacable incantation reached its resounding climax, a momentary silence enshrouded the battlefield, swathing the vista of chaos in an aura of noiselessness more pure and untainted than the tranquility of the boundless and stygian void. It was as if time itself had halted for one immemorial moment.
And it was in that oddly immeasurable instant that the dark and peerless power unfettered by those grim pseudo-words finally, ultimately, made itself known before the sundered gates of ancient Gul-Kothoth...             

To be continued in: Episode X: The Shadow-King Reborn

 

5)  THE FALLEN KINGDOMS OF THE ABYSSAL PLAIN

Tribal creation myth and folklore from the Northern Hemisphere, dating from 650 B.T.C. (Before the Third Cataclysm), Antediluvian Calendar:

Hearken, children of the Ersatz gods, sons and daughters of the New Earth, for here is truth. Long ago, before the third of Earth's moons fell firey from the star-seared sky, there were those whom we have come to call the First Ones. These men-who-were-not-men were the creations of the Mera, beings from the far reaches of the limitless cosmos, whose essence still flickers latently within the minds of all their disparate progeny. Praise the Mera, fathers of the First Ones, bondsmen to the Kl'aa, sworn foes of the Z'xulth!
Sired in the great spawning vats beyond the fathomless deeps of the Pre-Cambrian sea, the First Ones throve. Those who were engineered to live on land duly constructed the grand Antarctic Megalopolis, ultimately becoming entangled in bitter conflicts with the hoary Serpent Kings before retreating into the subterrene depths of the vast inner world, whereas those First Ones that had chosen the embrace of the abyssal seas were the architects of vast and glorious submarine cities whose splendid spires and minarets towered proudly beneath the unfathomed waves. Those grand bioluminescent cities are now long since fallen, razed and dispersed, given over to the cruel whims of the unforgiving oceans.
From the lore of our ancestors, we know the true nature of the cosmos. We know of the hidden and silent places, the places which reside in between the veils of reality, the places which mankind was never meant to see.
All this we know... we who survive, we who are descended from those First Ones, and who give thanks to the gods-who-are-not-gods, for our creation, our genesis, for the breath of life that was forced into our progenitors during the early epochs of this cratered globe.
Hearken, children of the Ersatz gods, sons and daughters of the New Earth, for here is truth...    

 

6)  SHACKLED TO THE TRILITHON OF KUTULU

 

Seek ye to invoke the Lord of Dreams, to know His divine will via the dreamscape, to have power over His minions, to unlock the secrets of the deep? Enscribe ye the great seals 'neath the horned moon, when the black stars of the chaosphere spin in trine, prepare ye a supplicant, and offer up olibanum, storax, dictamnus, opium and the incense of Zkauba, in the shadow of the sacred trilithon that overlooks the endless sea... 

"O' Thou that lieth dead but ever dreameth... Hear me, Lord of Dreams!
The Deep Ones knoweth Thy secret name, the Hydra knoweth Thy lair...
Dagon shall break Thy accursed bonds, and Thy kingdom shall rise once more."

Rise o' spawn of Chaos and elder night,
With these words (and by the sign of Kish), I summon thee,
Slumbering serpent, primal and serene,
Great Old One, hearken to me!

When the stars align in the Chaosphere, then the time of awakening shall be at hand.

"When death dies, Thy time shall be, and Thou shalt sleep no more..."
"Hear me, Lord of Dreams". "Hear, thy servant calleth thee."
In Thy tower they have sealed ye, dead yet ever dreaming.
O' great Lord of the Deep, awaken from thy deathly sleep.

And there fell a great star from the heavens burning,
Older than the Sphinx or Babylon.
O' mighty one, lord and master of the great abyss!

"Give forth Thy sign that I may know Thy will upon the earth..."
"Grant me the power to still the waves that I may hear Thy call."

"In his house at R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming."
"Yet he shall rise, and His kingdom shall cover the earth!"

 

7)  THE HAMMER OF THE EMPEROR

 

Sinistrous legendry fulgurates from me. My name is a word of power on the lips of my followers. You can't escape me, I'm inside your mind. Beware the Grand Arbiter of Temporal Jurisprudence, for when it comes at last, terrible shall be thy punishment. In the ceaseless shadow at the centre of infinity, the spheres have aligned. After the day, comes the night. My time has come.

How seldom falls the opportunity to forge an empire without bloodshed. It will yet come to war.

She Came Bearing Dark Portents (The Foreshadowing):

Fever-dreams, dark omens and augeries. Prophecy!

Why, when I meet your narcotic sloe-eyed gaze, does the image of a viper nestling in a bed of blossoms fill my mind's eye?
Why, when you come to me by the pale light of a waning moon, do I glimpse the sheen of ophidian scales through the veils of sable?
Why, when you enrapture me with your envenomed kisses, does the flicker of a serpent's tongue score my flesh?

Enthralled by the vitreous lustre of your rubicund lips, your snow-pale skin musky with the intoxicating scent of night... but such wicked thorns beneath this rose. Come witch, fly to me!

A garland of newborn stars to adorn thee... the Permian Extinction, a parting gift. May your maleficent soul walk only in dark places.

 

8)  UNFETTERING THE HOARY SENTINELS OF KARNAK

 

Fragmentary delusional recollections from within the confines of Grimm's Hold Sanitarium:
When Blackthorne returns from his expedition to Tiahuanaco and the Peruvian jungle I shall duly tell him of the catalyst which compelled me to those cursed black vaults in ancient Ur, should Hildebrandt allow me another visit. Yes... Giza, Karnak, Thebes... I see them now once more! In the grip of a waking dream, I walk those restless sands again. Egypt... here my journey began, and here I took the first steps towards destiny... and damnation.
(The events recounted here take place before "The Dreamer In The Catacombs Of Ur")

From the expeditionary journal of Doctor Ignatius X. Stone:

Giza, Egypt (March 17, 1890)
The heat here is damnably oppressive, and all day the omnipresent sand has been whipped up by an impudent wind, making progress all the more difficult. At dawn, I pinpointed the location of the Great Pyramid's secret chamber which my old friend Professor Caleb Blackthorne and his benefactor Lord Blakiston had discovered several months previously, but ingress to its concealed depths was denied me by a partial collapse of the age old edifice's stone ceiling. Excavation is evidently impossible, lest more of the mighty tomb come crashing down about us. At any rate, Blackthorne has studied the incredible inscriptions within that hidden alcove exhaustively, and in truth my own interests lie elsewhere in this desolate sand-flayed landscape. The traditionalists believe that, in keeping with Egyptian tenets, only mundane things such as new air shafts and ever more ornate sarcophagi are yet to be discovered deep within the tunnel networks of these cyclopean monuments. Feh! If only they knew the true extent of this great cosmic puzzle! They are as fools who view a tapestry in a darkened room by the light of only one candle, seeing only small sections illuminated one by one, and refusing to recognize or connect the darkened and unseen areas to the entirety.
Working from the geometric calculations which I prepared before our arrival here, I have studied the alignment of Cheops, Chefren and Mykerinos. It is as I suspected. Tomorrow, I leave the the imperious and hoary mausoleum of Khufu and seek answers within the Great Temple of Karnak...

Karnak, Egypt (March 18, 1890)
What oblations to the grim chthonic deities of the ancient world were once offered solemnly beneath the stygian skies of this sweltering place, I wonder? What sublime power awaits the aspirant, the querent who dares seek answers in those shadowed places where men of lesser fortitude fear to gaze? Blackthorne often berates me for what he calls my preoccupation with the arcane, the occult, the sinistrous lore of the chthonic... he insists no good will come of such delving into nighted realms. Ha! The path to elucidation is seldom devoid of thorns, the road to knowledge rarely free of perils! I seek enlightenment, and by the erudite tongue of Herodotus, I may have found it! Ancient tradition of this land has long spoken of strange flashes of light emanating from the depths of pyramid passages and temple catacombs. Over a thousand years ago the Arabs wrote of the transient walls and hidden chambers of these monuments; of secret doors moved by an unseen force and of implacable sentries who guarded the secrets of the temples with dour tenacity. What I found this evening gives credence to all that and more. Is the lore which I discovered carved into the ancient stone of Karnak's temple the next fragment of the cryptic conundrum which I have dedicated my life to solving? The Coptic papyrus states that, upon the walls of the pyramids and the temples were inscribed the mysteries of science, astronomy, geometry and physics; inscriptions of unknown peoples and lost civilizations whose lore was carved into the stone to preserve it from the ravages of the great deluge. The surviving knowledge of long forgotten antediluvian races!
Aye, prudent Surid, heeding the warnings of his priests, erected certain repositories of long forgotten knowledge to withstand first a great flood, and then an all-consuming fire which was prophesied would come from the sky. Masoudi, in the tenth century, described automata; titanic guardians of stone and metal which were placed to guard the treasures and the entombed lore, and which were tasked to destroy all those deemed unworthy, all those who dared enter the chambers unbidden. I see them! The hoary sentinels of Karnak unfettered! Rising from their sandy tombs to smite the intruder, the raider and the interloper with righteous fury! And what is this... was there once a glimmer of life within the sightless stone eyes of the Theban guardian? Does the silent watcher at Giza even now descend from its granite dias to once more stalk the shifting sands on carven claws? Hu! Horem-akhet!

 

The alignment of Cheops, Chefren and Mykerinos revealed,
Chthonic lore concealed in Khufu's imperious mausoleum,
By the erudite tongue of Herodotus, I have found the answers,
Arcane secrets inscribed in the ancient Coptic papyrus,
The Pyramid's legacy compells me to these dark discoveries,
The Theban guardian rises from its sandy tomb to meet us,
The Silent Watcher stalks, behold the Sentinels of Karnak!

Thebes, Egypt (March 19, 1890)
Niut-Ammon! Lucidity has reasserted its blessed hold upon me. I understand now the true nature of that knowledge which was revealed to me deep within the shadowed confines of Karnak's timeless temple. Telluric energy, harnessed by the ancients... triggered by lunar rays and solar radiation, channeled to impart static charges to rock strata and lines of natural power running through the earth. Neuro-electric energy generated, developed, creating light, separating inertia from gravity! And what more? The fourth state of matter, forged countless millennia ago in the hearts of burning stars... fettered, channeled, for creation and destruction! The secret of the great monuments of the ancients! Yes, secrets... answers. A rogue celestial body passes inside the orbit of the moon, becoming a captive of the earth's gravitational field. The world tilts upon its axis, its revolution slows, the planet shifts farther from its parent star... one of many such cataclysms. Asteroid strikes, floods, firestorms, the sky swathed in a veil of darkness through which the sun's light cannot pass, great ice-ages enshrouding the globe. And what is this? The forces of evil, of chaos... servitors of the sinister gods of the universe... manifesting upon the tellurian sphere? What dire agents of malignity were unleashed upon mankind? Bringers of carnage and destruction, pestilence and decay! The Z'xulth!
Secrets once known by the forgotten peoples... ancient Atlantis... time-lost Lemuria... Hyperborea, Ultima Thule, utopian Atland and its enduring legacy. Fragments, memories... descendants... the Incas, the Aztecs, the Maya, the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Britons, the Frisians, the ancient Sumerians. Yes, it is clear to me, like a diamond worked to perfection in the skilled hands of a master craftsman. The sigils and glyphs I beheld carved into the ancient stone of Karnak (which I somehow understood implicitly), the visions I experienced within the temple, it is all quite clearly compelling me to the next stage in my grand voyage of enlightenment. According to the inscriptions, the truth, the key, awaits me within the ziggurats of ancient Sumeria. I hear the call of the ancients, beckoning me to that aeon-veiled place across the unforgiving sands. We shall depart at once. I feel sure I shall find that which I seek between the two rivers, at the place of the seven cities. Yes, I shall surely meet my destiny within the mystery-haunted catacombs of ancient Ur...

(From the pyramids of Egypt, to the ziggurats of Sumeria, my grand journey of enlightenment must continue. Praise the Ancients!)

The Keeper of the Ancient Lore of Ur:
Hearken to the warnings of the Ancients... tread softly those sacred and unforgiving sands. Do not break the seal of the seventh city!

The Chief Cultist of Ur:
The Gate must not be opened. You dare not awaken the Dreamer!

Cuneiform tablets bear a grim, darkly portentous warning,
Sumerian catacombs astir with vile Chthonic horrors,
The lore of Babylon inscribed in stone as old as Atlantis,
Glyphs and sigils now compell me to the ziggurats...

In a waking dream, I hear the call of the Ancients. I shall find that which I seek between the two rivers, at the place of the seven cities... in the Catacombs of Ur!

(For the outcome of Doctor Ignatius Stone's expedition to Ur, see "The Dreamer In The Catacombs Of Ur" on the fifth Bal-Sagoth album, "Atlantis Ascendant".)

 

9)  TO STORM THE CYCLOPEAN GATES OF BYZANTIUM

Spring, 196 AD (C.E.)

CENTURION DECIANUS VARUS: Alea iacta est! Emperor Publius Helvius Pertinax has fallen victim to the assassin's blade. As I stand gazing out across the massed ranks of our Pannonian legions, Septimus Severus duly strives to consolidate his newly acquired control of the Empire. Pescennius Niger is slain, his forces expelled from Cyzicus, Nicaea and Issus, and yet Clodius Albinus has sailed from Britannia and is raising an army in Gaul in his own bid to seize the throne. Severus intends to engage that northern host at Lugdunum once his campaigns here in the east are concluded. Behold Byzantium! We now prepare to lay siege to this ancient and splendoured city. Strangely, the order has been given that the Byzantine library is to be searched thoroughly following our victory. Rumour has it that Severus's aged soothsayer Angsaar is searching for a collection of arcane scrolls said to be of the utmost importance, scrolls which are reputed to be hidden somewhere here in Byzantium. Something about that wizened old shaman unnerves me... there is something strangely unnatural about him, something... sinister. Feh! What are those scrolls supposed to be called again? Ah yes, The Chthonic Chronicles...   

 
10)  ARCANA ANTEDILUVIA

 

Act 1: The Argosy on the Eldritch Sea

The Antediluvian Oracle:
And so it was written, that rage would carry him like a howling wind, leaving only frozen corpses, their bones rattling in hollow armour, to tell their tale in his wake.

The Black Mariner:
Behold, my blackened, grim and gory axe, the searing glow of trenchant steel.
I'll notch another widow to my haft, and wreak red vengeance 'cross the waves.
Tales of black-sailed argosies, bedevilled by base treachery!

The Antediluvian Oracle:
His gaze is as fire, his words are as spear-points, his voice is as thunder, his touch as the plague!

The Black Mariner:
Storm-prow cleaving, dragon rending, nighted deeps far, far below,
Hail-scur scouring, sea devouring, sunken realm's ethereal glow.

The Antediluvian Oracle:
And one night, there came a storm, a storm with searing red winds.
Fire and steel rode within it, and vengeance writ in thunder and blood!

The Black Mariner:
Down sixty fathoms, from stygian coral-clad tombs the pitiless abyssal sea disgorges its shambling mold-mottled dead, dank innards blackly acoil with nests of slithering things!
Ghosts aglide upon the eldritch seas, unfathomed voyage to ascendency,
Traitorous blood, the surf roils red, churning crimson, thrice-cursed dead. 

The Antediluvian Oracle:
'Tis enough that men might dream of being kings without aspiring to the power of gods.

To be continued in "Arcana Antediluvia Act II: The Demon in the Dusklight Crystal"

 

11)  BENEATH THE CRIMSON VAULTS OF CYDONIA

 

Ruminations from the Six Pyramids of Cydonia:

This red charnel pit of primal horror, howling black ecstasies to the void. Ancient and divine, older than the hidden Icosahedron, now rebirthed beyond the chaosphere. Rise... rise and destroy!
Hatred, carnage, slaughter, havoc, chaos, murder!
I am become the devourer of all life!

Phobos, Deimos! The moons' rays liquified in these blood red pyramids,
In the shrines of abomination, black tongues rapt with blasphemy.
Chaosphere, watchtowers, genesis, Cydonia...
The Abyss yawns wide!
Spirit of the carrion-thronged battlefield, open wide thy gate!

Colossal shapes etched against the moons, supine obeisance 'fore the mound,
Accursed fiends, hail the Slitherer, abhorrent jaws drooling lunacy.

The Abyss yawns wide... Claws sharpened on the dead,
The Abyss yawns wide... Ensanguined fangs agleam.

Great shadow, awaken and eclipse the suns of a thousand worlds...
Slumbering 'neath these crimson vaults, behold the majesty of the Outer Darkness!
Praise the Z'xulth!

Fell Worm of the Black Galaxy, awaken and descend without pity upon the Tellurian sphere! Destroy the flaccid priests of the newborn usurper faiths. Sweep away the thralls of the cruciform stave! Crush the lackeys of the corrupted hexagram! Devour the slaves of the eastern crescent!

Crush them, grind them, slay them all!
Plague-blessed, flay them alive!

Now, behold in terror what waits beneath the crimson vaults of Cydonia...

 

12)  RETURN TO HATHEG-KLA

(The Sixth Key: The Omega Axiom)

Some would call it an epiphany, others would deem it the final descent into madness... whatever the
case, the last vestiges of those tenuous palisades which had previously, and blessedly, safeguarded
my reason and prevented my mind from accepting the full and staggering magnitude of the naked truth then crumbled, fading into nothingness like the dissolution of a night-mist. At length, one oppressively miasmic night, with such malefically portentous lore preying pitilessly upon my sanity, I began to descend through a myriad veils of sombre and swirling shades, finally surrendering my grip on wakefulness. And on that fitful, fateful eve, the last of the dreams came...
A waking dream? I dare not speculate. The vision was mine, the soul too... but the time, the place, the very flesh, all this and more was unknown to me. I stood upon a nighted vista... unfeasibly alien, and yet at once wholly, unnervingly familiar. In my hand I grasped a glimmering crystal which although beautiful in its shimmering radiance, was as black as the impenetrable depths of the most stygian midnight sea. As I gazed into the obsidian heart of the gem, a needle of black light lanced forth from its multi-faceted surface and filled my eyes with a panoply of fantastic hues, revealing to me in between its pulses of massing darkness certain fleeting glimpses of places and things so fantastically terrifying that I could not faithfully begin to recount their hideous and yet grimly compelling nature. A terrible sound filled my ears... an insidious resonance which sent waves of excruciating pain coursing through my mind... a sound which inexorably coalesced into a recognizable but entirely inhuman voice, a voice which slowly, inevitably, formed approximations of words which I could discern...     

THE CRYSTALLINE ORACLE: Hearken, o' manling of the Tellurian orb... the Circle closes. Prepare to embrace the agony of enlightenment. Know you of the Six Cataclysms?
THE ASPIRANT: I do. Six times has the world perished and been reborn!       
THE CRYSTALLINE ORACLE: You have discovered the true meaning of the six coruscating rings of arcane power?
THE ASPIRANT: Praise Klatrymadon and Zuranthus! The Six Keys!     
THE CRYSTALLINE ORACLE: Know you of the blackened orb which burned bright o'er ancient Lemuria? Know you of the sidereal flame which engulfed the high seat of power in Ultima Thule? Know you of that martial sorcery woven in the pitiless throng of epic battle? Know you of the astral power permeating the multiverse and the might of the cosmic codex? Know you of the rise and fall of glorious Atlantis? Know you the blasphemies contained within the Chthonic Chronicles?
THE ASPIRANT: I know all this, and more!
THE CRYSTALLINE ORACLE: Have you, o' hybrid child of the cosmos, gazed into the Great Eye of the Universe?
THE ASPIRANT: I have.
THE CRYSTALLINE ORACLE: And what did you see there, young Xerxes?
THE ASPIRANT: I saw oblivion, and damnation. I saw truth, and enlightenment. I saw the closure of the Great Circle Without End. I saw the Sixth Great Cataclysm. I saw the alpha and the omega, I saw the beginning... and I saw the end. The end of all there is!

 

All lyrics, stories, names, places, characters and situations copyright 1993, 2006  B.A. Roberts.

 

 

(The Lyrics of the Bal-Sagoth Hexalogy are copyright 1993, 2006 B.A. Roberts. Reproduced here with permission. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited and is a violation of applicable laws.)

CIRCA 1989 (C.E.):

Byron begins formulating plans for the implementation of a new lyrical & musical project called 'Bal-Sagoth'; an avant-garde black/death metal band to be swathed in symphonic splendor and dark fantasy/science-fiction imagery. The project incubates for several years, awaiting the time of its awakening...

JULY 1993:

Destiny leads Byron to meet the musicians Jonny Maudling and his brother Christopher, who are also looking to form a band and write original material. Byron unveils project: Bal-Sagoth, providing a catalyst and a source of inspiration and guidance. The legend begins.

SEPT. 1993:

Vincent Crabtree is recruited into Bal-Sagoth as keyboard player. He thus joins Byron, Jonny Maudling, Chris Maudling and Jason Porter as part of the original line-up of Bal-Sagoth.

DEC. 1993:

In the deep winter, Bal-Sagoth records their apocryphal promo/demo tape using primitive technology and archaic equipment. The songs, although unrefined, raw, and primal in the extreme, serve to establish the intent of the band. Frater Nihil of London- based Cacophonous Records hears the tape and promptly offers the band a three album recording deal. After careful deliberation, Bal-Sagoth accept the terms and sign to Cacophonous.

JAN-MAY 1994:

Byron promotes the band unceasingly in the world-wide underground metal scene His extreme views on theological and historical matters gain the band a fearsome neo-pagan reputation, while a series of well circulated rehearsal tapes of new material confirm the band's artistic credibility.

JUNE 1994:

Bal-Sagoth enters Academy Music Studio in West Yorkshire, England, to record their now legendary first album, 'A Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria'. The carnage commences!

JULY 1994- APRIL 1995:

Due to various administrative inefficiencies at Cacophonous, the album's release is delayed for almost an entire year. Promo tapes of selected tracks are circulated strategically, and the world awakens to the erudite fury and sublime bombast of Bal-Sagoth. It is during this period that Vincent Crabtree leaves the band, to be replaced by new recruit Leon Forrest. Two proposed shows in December of '95 supporting Cradle of Filth in London and Bradford are cancelled due to Byron severely injuring himself during a whiskey-induced stage-diving frenzy at a Cannibal Corpse gig. Byron's mutant healing factor enables his bones to knit swiftly and a speedy recovery is achieved. In April 1995, Bal-Sagoth finally play their first ever-live gig as part of a two-day black/death metal festival at the Dublin Castle in London. The response is incredible.

MAY 1995:

'A Black Moon Broods over Lemuria' is finally released, and is met by universal acclaim from fans and press alike. The album swiftly becomes a best seller and gains the band a vast army of fanatical supporters worldwide.

JUNE-JULY 1995:

Bal-Sagoth return to London in June to headline a gig at the infamous Camden Underworld. In July, they play two incredibly successful dates with Portuguese band Moonspell at London & Bradford.

SEPT.1995:

Bal-Sagoth travels to Dublin, Eire, for the first gig in a short UK tour with label-mates Sigh and Primordial. Unfortunately, the band is forced to withdraw from the tour due to dire treachery and vile subterfuge on the part of the promoter. They never again  work with that promoter.

OCT. 1995-JULY 1996:

Bal-Sagoth unexpectedly lock themselves away for many months to write their much-anticipated second album...In the high summer, they re-enter Academy Studio and record their phenomenal follow-up to 'A Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria', the mighty 'Starfire Burning Upon The Ice-Veiled Throne Of Ultima Thule. A monumental milestone in the annals of metal is thus crafted. The world suspected little of what the band had in store with the second magnificent opus...

NOV.1996:

Bal-Sagoth headlines the Ragnarok all-day extreme metal festival in Belgium, unveiling a selection of the new songs for the first time.'Starfire...' is released to meet with unparalleled praise and incredible adulation from all areas of the extreme music press and worldwide fandom. Bal-Sagoth has crafted a masterpiece, which sends shockwaves throughout the globe. The musical splendor and extreme lyrical genius of the album garners countless more fanatical adherents for the band.

DEC.1996:

Bassist Jason Porter is dismissed from the ranks of Bal-Sagoth to be replaced by Alistair Mac Latchy, an individual the band have worked with before, in the dim and distant past.

FEB. 1997:

Bal-Sagoth embarks upon their first European tour; a mammoth 23-date trek supporting Sweden's Dark Funeral and Norway's Ancient. The 'Starfire Engulfs Europe Tour' leaves a trail of destruction and chaos throughout countless lands.

JUNE 1997:

Bal-Sagoth plays to a capacity crowd at London's Astoria 2 supporting Norway's finest export, Emperor. It is Bal-Sagoth's first UK appearance for some two years, and the response is phenomenal. They follow it up by playing an all-day festival in Belgium, supporting brutal death metallers Sinister.

AUGUST 1997:

Byron's wonderful lunacy reaches sublime new heights as he instigates the execution of a sponsorship deal with Sussex-based replica arms and armor suppliers Battle Orders Ltd. Bal-Sagoth are thus supplied with a deadly new arsenal of weaponry with which to further their dreams of global conquest and galactic domination. After the staggering success of the midsummer show in London, Norway's Emperor request Bal-Sagoth to accompany them as primary support on their forthcoming European tour. Bal-Sagoth agrees to the proposal.

OCT. 1997:

And so Bal-Sagoth embarks upon their second European tour, this time with Emperor and Nocturnal Breed. The tour is an unprecedented success, steeped in victory and untold triumph. The 'Starfire Engulfs Europe Part 2 Tour' further strengthens the glorious legend of Bal-Sagoth.Upon their return to England, Bal-Sagoth enters Academy Studios once more, this time to record their crucial follow-up to 'Starfire...'. An astonishing magnum opus is thus unerringly crafted; a masterwork that forever redefines the genre of extreme metal. 'Battle Magic' is born!

JAN. 1998:

Leon Forrest leaves the band to pursue a career in nursing. Jonny promptly forsakes drum duties and moves onto the keyboards for any future live shows, and Bal-Sagoth begin searching for a new drummer.

MARCH 1998:

'Battle Magic' is unleashed upon an unsuspecting world and proceeds to shock and amaze the entire music scene with its incredible originality and searingly evolutionary prowess. Lyrical and musical concepts are expanded inestimably, and the greatest & most avant-garde chapter in the legend of Bal-Sagoth is thus written in blood. The album strides over all boundaries like a great steel-thewed colossus, supreme in its pulse-pounding majesty and fearsome passion. The First Trilogy of Bal-Sagoth is thus complete.

MAY 1998:

Drummer Dave Mackintosh joins the band.

JULY 1998:

Alistair Maclatchy leaves the band to be replaced by new bassist Mark Greenwell.

SEPTEMBER 1998:

Byron mysteriously vanishes and is believed to have been mystically enshrined within a vast vault of glacial ice whilst trekking at the North Pole. At the same time, Jonny strangely disappears in the mid-Atlantic, rumored to have been lost at sea, and Chris is allegedly consumed by a great sandstorm in the Sahara Desert. Speculation as to the current exact whereabouts of England's most barbaric sons continues...

JANUARY 1999:

Persistent rumors suggest that Byron has somehow managed to escape from the Arctic vault of glacial ice, and that he was then able to resurrect Jonny from his watery tomb and liberate Chris from his prison of sand. Further evidence points to the fact that the three mysterious artists have actually begun work on a fourth album, the precise details of which are at present unknown...

MARCH 1999:

After long months of careful deliberation, Bal-Sagoth finally signs a three-album deal with the German record label Nuclear Blast.

APRIL-JUNE 1999:

Bal-Sagoth return to the shadowy confines of the Academy Music Studio for a fourth time to begin recording their long awaited next chapter. The result is the most breathtakingly dynamic album they have yet produced... a thundering masterpiece of searing galactic grandeur and blistering astral malevolence... the most terrifying space-opera of darkest fantasy and bombastic war-metal ever heard by man... the incredible stellar symphony entitled: THE POWER COSMIC!

OCTOBER 1999:

"The Power Cosmic" is unleashed upon an unsuspecting world like a supremely destructive wave of sublime cataclysmic fury! This is Bal-Sagoth's most astral chapter yet, the eight electrifying tracks comprising an epic of unparalleled sidereal splendour... an album super-charged with awesome galactic bombast, thundering symphonic grandeur and blistering astral malevolence! The pulse-pounding saga of Bal-Sagoth attains new heights of macrocosmic magnificence, spanning the entire vista of human experience from mankind's first squamous writhings as he hurls himself from the primordial sea, to his ultimate evolutionary form as he seizes his destiny among the stars!

NOVEMBER  1999 - JANUARY 2000:

A secretive government agency enlists Bal-Sagoth to assist them in their quest for a fantastic occult power source, believed to be of alien origin, which is thought to reside somewhere within the boundaries of the ancient kingdom of Sumeria. The precise details of this expedition remain unknown and have been classified top secret by the intelligence agencies of several UN countries.  

MARCH 2000:

The writing of the much anticipated fifth album commences fully as Bal-Sagoth make preparations to craft and unleash their most terrifyingly dark and disturbingly intense chapter yet... what new work of twisted and malevolent genius will emerge next? The assembled legions of Bal-Sagoth fandom can only fervently speculate...

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2000:

The mighty Bal-Sagoth once again lock themselves away in the secluded confines of the Academy Music Studio... this time to record their fifth opus.
The resultant masterpiece and latest chapter in the epic saga of Bal-Sagoth is the incredible ATLANTIS ASCENDANT, an album which shakes the very fabric of the multiverse with its sheer unadulterated genius and unparalleled mastery of dark baroque art. An opus unequalled in artistic might and pure sinister dynamism, "Atlantis Ascendant" is testimony to the peerless creative potency of the mighty Bal-Sagoth. Imperius Rex! The fifth chapter has arrived!

APRIL 2001:

The amazing "Atlantis Ascendant" is released to incredible universal acclaim, the far-famed fantasy and the celebrated magic of Bal-Sagoth proving irresistible as multitudes across the globe embrace the sense-shattering splendour of the phenomenal fifth album. The celebrated "Hyperborean Empire" saga reaches its climactic height and listeners/readers are taken on a myriad thrilling and terrifying new voyages into the fathomless depths of dark untrammeled imagination and cryptic arcane mythistory!
Bal-Sagoth embark upon their first tour in almost four years, cutting a bloody swath through Europe on "The Fifth Cataclysm Devours Europe Phase: 1" tour, otherwise known as the No Mercy Festival Tour 2001. Other bands allying themselves with the might of Bal-Sagoth on this tour include Mortician, Sinister, Vader, Amon Amarth, Marduk, God Dethroned, Mystic Circle, ...and Oceans.
Following the excursion, battle-plans are drawn up in preparation for a "Phase: 2" European tour.

AUGUST 2001:

Byron encounters a hostile tribe of proto-human natives whilst heading an expedition searching for evidence of antediluvian civilizations deep within the impenetrable jungles of Peru. After cunningly playing the new Bal-Sagoth album "Atlantis Ascendant" to the savages, Byron is made king of the tribe and a sacred shrine is erected in honor of the mighty Bal-Sagoth.

DECEMBER 2001:

Further award winning garments in the Bal-Sagoth range of Battle Wear are released to great acclaim by merchandisers Razamataz, and Bal-Sagoth embark upon the much anticipated "The Fifth Cataclysm Devours Europe Phase: 2" tour, with Swedish black metal act Marduk. Included on the tour are shows in London and Bradford, marking Bal-Sagoth's first appearance on UK stages since 1997, and the fans and music press alike are positively overwhelmed by the insane majesty and sublimely unfathomable bombast of the legendary Britannic Battle Metal Kings! The tour is a flawless victory for the mighty Bal-Sagoth.

MARCH 2002:

Preliminary work begins on the long awaited sixth chapter in the epic saga of Bal-Sagoth; the final episode of the Second Trilogy! Byron begins pre-production meetings with artist Martin Hanford detailing what is required for the cover and interior artwork of the sixth album. Additionally, Byron discloses the fact that the epic "Obsidian Crown" saga will continue on the new album, and promises that the new material will be the darkest and most sinister art the band have yet crafted.

JUNE 2002:

Rehearsals begin for the Bloodstock 02 Festival, and work continues on the mysterious sixth Bal-Sagoth album.

AUGUST 2002:

Bal-Sagoth play the prestigious Bloodstock 02 metal festival in Derby, England and thrill the massed legions of supporters with over an hour of searing avant-garde epic metal from all five albums to date. A rapturous response from the crowd and the assembled worldwide metal press mark the occaision as a spectacular triumph for the mighty and peerless Bal-Sagoth.

DECEMBER 2002:

Bal-Sagoth play the Rio in Bradford, England with their allies Return To The Sabbat. Delighting the crowd with another flawless set over an hour in duration, the gig further reinforces the band's reputation as one of the top British metal acts of all time.

MARCH 2003:

Returning to the UK's capital city of London, Bal-Sagoth play the Garage in Highbury, once again with Return To The Sabbat, and proceed to annihilate the crowd and the opposition with a performance bristling with unfettered passion, focused rage and unparalleled dynamism. Despite having their set cut short due to unforseen circumstances beyond their control, Bal-Sagoth once again prove that when it comes to thunderous baroque symphonic metal and idiosynchratic bombast, they have no equals in the global metal scene.

APRIL - SEPTEMBER 2003:

Intensive writing of the sixth Bal-Sagoth album continues. The glorious compositions and unrivalled lyrical sagas of the final chapter in the band's Second Trilogy evolve and coalesce further, and the world waits with fevered anticipation for further news on the sixth opus.
Byron negotiates a new merchandise deal with the German company Rock Bottom, and new Bal-Sagoth shirts are prepared for release to continue the tradition of top quality battle-wear for the true fans of baroque barbarian metal! Additionally, the world celebrates a truly momentous occaision... TEN GLORIOUS YEARS OF THE MIGHTY BAL-SAGOTH!

OCTOBER 2003 - JUNE 2004:

Behind an unparalleled shroud of secrecy and under maximum security conditions, work on the mysterious and hugely anticipated sixth album continues. 

JULY 2004:

Drummer Dave Mackintosh leaves the band and is immediately replaced by new sticksman Dan Mullins. Rehearsals begin for the prestigious Wacken Open Air Festival 2004.

AUGUST 2004:

Bal-Sagoth play the Wacken Open Air Festival 2004 in Germany, the largest single event they have played to date. The crowd response is rapturous and Bal-Sagoth further reinforce their reputation as a true stadium band. Mission accomplished, Bal-Sagoth return home to continue work on the sixth album. (Unfortunately the live CD and DVD clips of the band's Wacken performance are destined to be inexusably sabotaged by unscrupulous and inept third parties.)

NOVEMBER 2004:

Work continues apace on the much anticipated sixth album, and the soon to be legendary songs near completion. Preliminary recording begins at the new recording facility known as Wayland's Forge, with other parts set to be recorded once more at the famed Academy Music Studio. The assembled legions of worldwide metal fandom wait in shuddering anticipation for further news of the sixth opus...

JANUARY - AUGUST 2005:

The recording work on the sixth album proceeds throughout the first half of the year, reaching its latter stages during late summer. The final phase of recording is set to begin during the third quarter of 2005.

SEPTEMBER- DECEMBER 2005:

Work on the sixth album finally concludes, with the vocals being recorded at the famed Academy Music Studio and the mix taking place at Wayland's Forge. The world waits expectantly for the release of the cataclysmic conclusion to the Bal-Sagoth hexalogy... "The Chthonic Chronicles"!

MARCH 2006:

"The Chthonic Chronicles" is released to unparalleled universal adulation and acclaim! The sixth album receives some of the best and most glowing reviews of any of the Bal-Sagoth works! The climactic culmination of the epic Bal-Sagoth hexalogy is characterized by the elaborate and intricate occult fantasy stories for which the band are renowned, and the dynamic keyboards integrated into the extreme metal soundscape, truly organic choral effects and genuine symphonic grandeur! "The Chthonic Chronicles" will once again transport listeners and readers on a wondrous and terrifying voyage into the darkling realms of sinister and bombastic maleficent metal fantasy! All hail Bal-Sagoth!

 

Click on an album title for further details:

 

Demo 19931993 Demo (unreleased)

1995 A Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria

1996 Starfire Burning Upon The Ice-Veiled Throne Of Ultima Thule

1998 Battle Magic

1999 The Power Cosmic

2001 Atlantis Ascendant

2006 The Chthonic Chronicles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

demo cover

Albums | Tracklist | Info 1 2

 

Demo.

Recorded December 1993 (Unreleased)

 

Tracklisting:

  1. Intro
  2. Dreaming of Atlantean Spires (Alpha)
  3. By the Blaze of the Fire Jewels (Zero)
  4. A Shadow on the Mist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

demo cover

Albums | Tracklist | Info 1 2

 

BYRON: We recorded the demo during a single afternoon in a small recording studio under a curry house. We could only afford to book in for a few hours, and we recorded three songs during that time. We never officially released it because it was never officially finished. We always intended to go back and add a few more vocal parts and a few more keyboard parts (making them sound less like a stylophone), and to remix the whole affair. However, we never got round to it and ultimately I started releasing the tracks into the underground tape trading community (this was in the days before MP3s and file sharing). The tracks on the demo included a very early version of "Dreaming Of Atlantean Spires", a song called "By The Blaze Of The Fire Jewels" (which later underwent a lyrical and musical overhaul and became "Shadows 'Neath The Black Pyramid"), and a song called "A Shadow On The Mist", which we broke up for spares,  using some of its riffs in other songs.

 

 

demo cover

Albums | Tracklist | Info 1 2

 

The "true" version of the demo includes an intro which I took from the movie "Masters Of The Universe" and also some BBC radiophonic workshop sound effects from the classic "Death & Horror" tape. These tracks were raw, brutal, rough, and totally incomplete, and they only hinted at the greatness that was to come. Nevertheless, they got us a three album deal with Cacophonous, so they ultimately served their purpose. I authorized two of the tracks to be included as bonus tracks on the Japanese sub-licensed version of our fifth album "Atlantis Ascendant". We might get round to completing and remastering these tracks some day... or maybe not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

lemuria coverAlbums | Tracklist | Info 1 2 3

 

A Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria

Recorded: June 1994 Released: May 1995 Label: Cacophonous

Running Time: 55:02

 

  1. Hatheg-Kla
  2. Dreaming Of Atlantean Spires
  3. Spellcraft & Moonfire (Beyond The Citadel Of Frosts)
  4. A Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria
  5. Enthroned In The Temple Of The Serpent Kings
  6. Shadows ‘Neath The Black Pyramid
  7. Witch-Storm
  8. The Ravening
  9. Into The Silent Chambers Of The Sapphirean Throne (Sagas From The Antediluvian Scrolls)
  10. Valley Of Silent Paths

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

lemuria coverAlbums | Tracklist | Info 1 2 3

 

BYRON: Our first full length album! We had about two weeks in Academy Music Studio to record this, during the midsummer of 1994. The archaic glory of analogue recording equipment! Needless to say, things were very hectic, and time was short. We of course ended up running out of recording tracks, and lots of stuff was therefore recorded on the same tracks, which resulted in a lot of fun, and slider carnage, during the final mix. I don't think Cacophonous knew what to expect from us with this album. They initially wanted us to wait a while before recording a full opus, but I was adamant that we were ready to go ahead and record a full LP, and I was ultimately proved right. A good studio and a fair budget duly enabled us to show the world exactly what our take on extreme metal was all about, and what the Bal-Sagoth mandate truly was. The Bal-Sagoth lyrical mythos officially began with this album, and the genesis of many of the hexalogy's epic tales was here. Angsaar! Khthon! The Shadow-Sword!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

lemuria coverAlbums | Tracklist | Info 1 2 3

 

Legendary sound engineer Mags helmed this one, so beginning his long and glorious association with the band. A few interesting snippets of first album trivia: We heard that COF were quite pissed off that we were recording at Academy because they were allegedly worried we would steal their keyboard sound. Ha! Well, needless to say we proved with this album that we were pretty serious about our keyboards. Also, the guitar solo on "The Ravening" was played by John Piras, who at that time was in Solstice, and who later went on to be in COF. Mags also played a bit of guitar here and there on this album, and also on the next one, as it happened. And finally, the album intro was composed and played by Keith Appleton, the owner of Academy Music Studio. I'd been telling Jonny for ages that we needed a keyboard intro for this album, but of course when the time arrived, nothing had been composed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

lemuria coverAlbums | Tracklist | Info 1 2 3

 

So, Keith came to the rescue by giving us a piece he'd created some years earlier, which was in reality part of a musical suite for a stage production of Alice In Wonderland, but which had been rejected because it was too scary and would have freaked out the kids. Also, this album was the first and only Bal-Sagoth opus to also be released on vinyl! This album hit the metal scene like a set of adamantium claws through the chest. Only when this ferociously dark and brutally baroque work landed on the doorstep of Cacophonous did they realize the true power of the mighty Bal-Sagoth. (Still didn't stop them taking almost a whole year to release the album, though.) Bal-Sagoth had arrived.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

starfire coverAlbums | Tracklist 1 2 | Info 1 2

 

Starfire Burning Upon The Ice-Veiled Throne Of Ultima Thule


Recorded August 1996 Released November 1996 Label: Cacophonous

Running time: 57:42

 

  1. Black Dragons Soar Above The Mountain Of Shadows (Prologue)
  2. To Dethrone The Witch-Queen Of Mytos K’unn (The Legend Of The Battle Of Blackhelm Vale)
  3. As The Vortex Illumines The Crystalline Walls Of Kor-Avul-Thaa
  4. Starfire Burning Upon The Ice-Veiled Throne Of Ultima Thule
  5. Journey To The Isle Of Mists (Over The Moonless Depths Of Night-Dark Seas)
  6. The Splendour Of A Thousand Swords Gleaming Beneath The Blazon Of The Hyperborean Empire
  7. And Lo, When The Imperium Marches Against Gul-Kothoth, Then Dark Sorceries Shall Enshroud The Citadel Of The Obsidian Crown (Episode: VIII)

 

 

starfire coverAlbums | Tracklist 1 2 | Info 1 2

 

  1. Summoning The Guardians Of The Astral Gate
  2. In The Raven-Haunted Forests Of Darkenhold, Where Shadows Reign And The Hues Of Sunlight Never Dance
  3. At The Altar Of The Dreaming Gods (Epilogue)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

starfire coverAlbums | Tracklist 1 2 | Info 1 2

 

BYRON: Back to Academy during another sweltering summer for the second album. Everything about this album was bigger and more epic, from the music to the song titles! Forget pan & scan, this was the anamorphic version of Bal-Sagoth. Just over two weeks in Academy, which was nowhere near long enough, but that was all the label would spring for. Also, they wouldn't even foot the bill for new 2 inch reels, so we actually had to use the same reels as before and record over the first album! Unforgivable. Anyway, the temperature in the studio reached such crazy levels that the recording equipment actually broke down on several occasions. But we battled on, secure in the knowledge that we were creating something special. Elaborate orchestrations, intricate vocals, symphonic keyboards... this one really pushed the envelope and proved once again that the power and the glory of Bal-Sagoth was truly unparalleled. The cover art was painted by the famous Petagno.

 

 

 

 

 

starfire coverAlbums | Tracklist 1 2 | Info 1 2

 

The lyric booklet was huge for its time, and contained the most elaborate lyrics yet seen. The saga of Bal-Sagoth truly continued with this album, and fan favourite stories like the Hyperborean Empire saga, the Obsidian Crown saga, and the Darkenhold mythos began here. We spent a long time writing this album, and it was sublimely epic in scope. Up against the clock, we pulled out all the stops and used every trick in the book to get this one completed on time, including playing a lot of the double bass drums on the keyboards (yes, you read that right). This album also featured a CDROM track, which in truth was little more than an ad for the Cacophonous roster of the time. (For some reason, it was also placed at the beginning of the album, which meant that when played in a normal CD player, the first track on the album was a fascinating journey into silence.) Dark, epic, icy, gloriously sinister and bombastic. Many consider this album something of a metal milestone. Which is fine by us.

 

 

 

 

 

battle magic cover

Albums | Tracklist 1 2 | Info 1 2

 

Battle Magic

Recorded during weeks in October, November & December 1997 Released April 1998 Label: Cacophonous Running time: 49:58

 

Tracklisting:

  1. Battle Magic
  2. Naked Steel (The Warrior’s Saga)
  3. A Tale From The Deep Woods
  4. Return To The Praesidium Of Ys
  5. Crystal Shards
  6. The Dark Liege Of Chaos Is Unleashed At The Ensorcelled Shrine Of A’zura-Kai (The Splendour Of A Thousand Swords Gleaming Beneath The Blazon Of The Hyperborean Empire Part: II)
  7. When Rides The Scion Of The Storms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

battle magic cover

Albums | Tracklist 1 2 | Info 1 2

 

  1. Blood Slakes The Sand At The Circus Maximus
  2. Thwarted By The Dark (Blade Of The Vampyre Hunter)
  3. And Atlantis Falls...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

battle magic cover

Albums | Tracklist 1 2 | Info 1 2

 

BYRON: Winter at Academy, and time for the creation of episode III. Just back from a European tour with Emperor, we were ready to continue the Bal-Sagoth legend. This album was so intricate and compositionally elaborate that it pushed the facilities at Academy to their absolute limit, and almost gave engineer Mags a nervous breakdown (but he loved every minute of it and it remains one of his favourite albums)! Crazed and experimental songs pushed the boundaries still further, like the madly indulgent "Blood Slakes The Sand At The Circus Maximus" (no, the copyright holders of the "Spartacus" film score didn't sue us, nor did we sue Ridley Scott for him nicking my concept for his "Gladiator". Those two observations were meant in jest, by the way). If nothing else, this album proved that we were a band not afraid to take risks... a band who prized art and originality above all else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

battle magic cover

Albums | Tracklist 1 2 | Info 1 2

 

A different approach to the keyboards sacrificed much of the dark ambience of previous releases in favour of a more symphonic brass oriented sound, which although not to everyone's liking nevertheless gave the third album its own unmistakable audial identity. Some said that the guitars, more refined than before, were also arguably less heavy. Whatever the case, if "Starfire Burning..." was our "The Empire Strikes Back", then "Battle Magic" was definitely our "Return of the Jedi". Lyrically, the grand Bal-Sagoth mythos continued apace, and still more secrets of the vast lyrical multiverse were revealed to the readers & listeners, such as the genesis of the conflict between the Hyperborean King and Lord Angsaar. Colourful sound, colourful production, colourful concepts, colourful artwork. The full spectrum of genuis shone brightly here. Now secure as a firm fan favourite in the Bal-Sagoth canon, "Battle Magic" is an album which the erudite and the imaginative can savour eternally. "Ride them down!"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

power cosmic coverAlbums | Tracklist 1 | Info 1 2 3

 

The Power Cosmic

Recorded April 30 to May 31 1999. Released October 1999. Label: Nuclear Blast. Running time: 40:29

Tracklisting:

  1. The Awakening Of The Stars
  2. The Voyagers Beneath The Mare Imbrium
  3. The Empyreal Lexicon
  4. Of Carnage And A Gathering Of The Wolves
  5. Callisto Rising
  6. The Scourge Of The Fourth Celestial Host
  7. Behold, The Armies Of War Descend Screaming From The Heavens!
  8. The Thirteen Cryptical Prophecies Of Mu

 

 

 

 

power cosmic coverAlbums | Tracklist 1 | Info 1 2 3

 

BYRON: And lo, the fourth album! The first one for Nuclear Blast! A new record label! A new cover artist! A new drummer! A new bassist! Lots of changes here (not all of which were for the better)! A grand return to the hallowed halls of Academy Music Studio for the fourth chapter in the Bal-Sagoth saga. This album was the first one on which Jonny did not play drums and Chris did not play bass. A searingly clear production (some would rightly argue too clear) and a decidedly less barbaric approach to the musical compositions meant that the fourth album was perhaps quite markedly different in sound from previous chapters, substituting much of the trademark Bal-Sagoth chaos and extremity for a more refined and crystalized soundscape. Nevertheless, this was still undeniably Bal-Sagoth. This album was the first during which the more science-fiction oriented aspects of the lyrics (heavily hinted at during the previous releases) finally came more to the fore.

 

 

 

 

 

power cosmic coverAlbums | Tracklist 1 | Info 1 2 3

 

The millennia-spanning saga of the evil arch-fiend Zurra and the fabled Empyreal Lexicon was unleashed upon the legions of Bal-Sagoth fandom. Controversially, this album, for the first time, did not include a full lyric booklet, something which incensed many long term fans of the band's stories. The lyrics, as intended, were ultimately released as a downloadable exclusive designed by webmaster Jamie Thomson at the Official Bal-Sagoth Website, and later included with the Russian sub-licensed edition of the album, with a revised and expanded version of the lyrics scheduled for appearance at the official site in 2006. Boasting a glorious cover by artist Martin Hanford, "The Power Cosmic" went on to become the biggest selling installment in the entire saga, double-bladed lightsabers and all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

power cosmic coverAlbums | Tracklist 1 | Info 1 2 3

 

Fourth album trivia: During the recording of "The Power Cosmic", the band's iconic sword Excalibur was stolen from the studio by local street urchins who proceeded to sell it, presumably in order to buy rocks of crack. Fearing the righteous wrath of the mighty Bal-Sagoth, various lowlife scum swiftly gave up the sacred blade, and it was ultimately returned to us, after having passed through at least one pawn shop and several worried owners.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

atlantis ascendant cover

Albums | Tracklist 1 2 | Info 1 2

 

Atlantis Ascendant

Recorded during November & December 2000. Released April 2001. Label: Nuclear Blast Running time: 48:57

 

Tracklisting:

  1. The Epsilon Exordium
  2. Atlantis Ascendant
  3. Draconis Albionensis
  4. Star-Maps Of The Ancient Cosmographers
  5. The Ghosts Of Angkor Wat
  6. The Splendour Of A Thousand Swords Gleaming Beneath The Blazon Of The Hyperborean Empire (Part: III)
  7. The Dreamer In The Catacombs Of Ur
  8.  

 

 

 

 

atlantis ascendant cover

Albums | Tracklist 1 2 | Info 1 2

 

  1. In Search Of The Lost Cities Of Antarctica
  2. The Chronicle Of Shadows
  3. Six Keys To The Onyx Pyramid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

atlantis ascendant cover

Albums | Tracklist 1 2 | Info 1 2

 

BYRON: The fifth album! Once more into the fray! Once more into the haunted labyrinthine chambers of the Academy! This album marked the first tentative steps on the path of digital recording, as Academy had begun to upgrade and replace its analogue equipment with some new digital apparatus. New vistas opened up before the band's collective creative eye, and the digital age dawned in the kingdom of Bal-Sagoth. Continuing the long established tradition of elaborate and intricate orchestration, the fifth album was a multilayered, multi-textured excercise in dark and epic art. Mixing elements of all the previous chapters, "Atlantis Ascendant" struck a fine balance between extremity, clarity, agression and refinement. Lyrically, the baroque saga of Bal-Sagoth continued, with the Hyperborean Empire trilogy reaching its climactic finale, and the exploits of archaeologist and adventurer Professor Caleb Blackthorne III making their debut, setting the scene for many of the events on the sixth album.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

atlantis ascendant cover

Albums | Tracklist 1 2 | Info 1 2

 

Overall one of the most consistent, complete and most successfully realized of the Bal-Sagoth albums, "Atlantis Ascendant", resplendent with its glorious artwork, further fortified the band's undeniable legend. The fifth album provided the supporters of Bal-Sagoth with plenty to reflect upon, which was particularly important when you realize it would be a full five years until the appearance of chapter six! Fifth album trivia: "Atlantis Ascendant" was the last album to be recorded at the old premises of Academy Music Studio. As we were putting the finishing touches to the album, the studio was being disassembled around us. We even took some of Academy home with us, for old times' sake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

chthonic chronicles cover

Albums | Tracklist 1 2 | Info 1 2 3 4 5 6

 

The Chthonic Chronicles
Recorded January 2003 to December 2005 Released March 2006 Label: Nuclear Blast Running time: 60:38

Tracklisting:

  1. The Sixth Adulation Of His Chthonic Majesty 
  2. Invocations Beyond The Outer-World Night
  3. Six Score And Ten Oblations To A Malefic Avatar
  4. The Obsidian Crown Unbound  (Episode: IX)
  5. The Fallen Kingdoms Of The Abyssal Plain
  6. Shackled To The Trilithon Of Kutulu
  7. The Hammer Of The Emperor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

chthonic chronicles cover

Albums | Tracklist 1 2 | Info 1 2 3 4 5 6

 

  1. Unfettering The Hoary Sentinels Of Karnak
  2. To Storm The Cyclopean Gates Of Byzantium 
  3. Arcana Antediluvia
  4. Beneath The Crimson Vaults Of Cydonia
  5. Return To Hatheg-Kla

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

chthonic chronicles cover

Albums | Tracklist 1 2 | Info 1 2 3 4 5 6

 

BYRON: Patience is a virtue. All good things come to he who waits. Better late than never. The sixth album took so long because someone decided it would be a great idea if we recorded it on the band's own digital equipment, in the band's own digital studio. That was in 2002. Over the years, the slow and onerous process of amassing all the required equipment dragged on, and on. And on. Deadlines were set. And ignored. The clock kept ticking. Several years, numerous fights, and a few catastrophic hardware failures later, we were ready to begin to consider the possibility of starting to think about recording the sixth album. Gradually, the music took shape. The lyrics had of course been written years before, and it was vital that the music for this, the climax of the hexalogy, reflect the thematic nature of the stories to the letter, stories such as the siege of Gul-Kothoth, the Catacombs of Ur prequel, the great sub-aquatic voyage to the Abyssal Plain, and the all important reprise of Hatheg-Kla.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

chthonic chronicles cover

Albums | Tracklist 1 2 | Info 1 2 3 4 5 6

 

The music was adhering to the detailed story outlines and the synopsis I had presented to maestro Jonny, and the compositions were progressing gloriously, if very laboriously. More deadlines were set, and more deadlines slipped. Tensions were running high. More songs were slowly nearing completion. The mysterious new studio, "Wayland's Forge", reached its ultimate evolutionary form. Everything was digital. We had fully embraced the future, for good or ill. Equipment was upgraded, parts were re-recorded. And yet true progress was still painfully slow. Keyboardist Jonny had boldly undertaken to handle sound engineering duties for this most ambitious of projects, and as it was his first truly major foray into such territories, it was very much a voyage of discovery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

chthonic chronicles cover

Albums | Tracklist 1 2 | Info 1 2 3 4 5 6

 

The amount of time this album took to record strained band relations to the limit, and they remain strained to this day. But finally, in November of 2005 it was time to put the finishing touches to the album with a vocal session at the new Academy Music Studio. Partly due to tradition, and partly due to the fact that only Mags understands my idiosyncratic and highly specialized vocal approach, I decided to return to Academy for the vocals. Then, in December 2005 we started on the final mix. I'd commissioned the cover artwork from Martin Hanford three years previously, and it had been locked away in my vault for all that time, waiting in the dark for the day of its unveiling. Finally, that day was drawing near. This one went right to the wire, with us mixing all the way up until the day the courier was scheduled to arrive. The album had to be completed. It had to be despatched. I had to take it and package it for the UPS courier, otherwise Nuclear Blast were threatening a release date delayed by up to a year. The Death Star had cleared the planet.

 

 

 

 

 

chthonic chronicles cover

Albums | Tracklist 1 2 | Info 1 2 3 4 5 6


"The Chthonic Chronicles", as I promised the world several years ago, is an album darker and heavier than much of our previous work, encompassing elements from all the preceding five chapters as well as containing a plethora of new and exciting touches to thrill the listener. Truly organic sounding choirs, utterly genuine symphonic effects and unparalleled orchestral grandeur, thunderously heavy guitars and venomous vocals. Lyrically, the climactic and most malefic chapter in the entire saga, featuring both long awaited continuations of old stories and some all new tales, all set within the conceptual framework of a shunned, blasphemous and apocryphal occult grimoire. This wasn't just the climax of five years of work, in a way it was the climax of thirteen years of work. Luckily, the world embraced "The Chthonic Chronicles" fully. Upon release, the sixth album received some of the very best and most glowing reviews of any of our works, and we finally, at long last, allowed ourselves to believe that the job was done.

 

 

 

chthonic chronicles cover

Albums | Tracklist 1 2 | Info 1 2 3 4 5 6

 

(Post script: For keyboardist Jonny's recollections of recording the six Bal-Sagoth albums including the equipment used, see the Wayland's Forge site.) ALL HAIL BAL-SAGOTH! BLODU OK JARNA! Byron (Spring 2006, C.E.)

 

Sixth album trivia: The following is a transcript of an actual band meeting from autumn 2003, concerning the delays in recording the album:
Exterior: Lord Byron's shuttle docks at the partially completed Wayland's Forge.
JONNY: Lord Byron, this is an unexpected pleasure. We're honored by your presence.
BYRON: You may dispense with the pleasantries Jonathan. I'm here to put you back on schedule.
JONNY: I assure you Lord Byron, I'm working as fast as I can.
BYRON: Perhaps I can find new ways to motivate you.
JONNY: I tell you this studio will be operational as planned.

 

 

 

 

chthonic chronicles cover

Albums | Tracklist 1 2 | Info 1 2 3 4 5 6


BYRON: Nuclear Blast does not share your optimistic appraisal of the situation.
JONNY: But they ask the impossible. I need more time.
BYRON: Then perhaps you can tell them when they call.
JONNY: Nuclear Blast are phoning here?
BYRON: That is correct, Jonathan. And they are most displeased with your apparent lack of progress.
JONNY: I shall double my efforts.
BYRON: I hope so Jonathan, for your sake. Nuclear Blast are not as forgiving as I am.

(In the unlikely event that the above pop culture reference went over anyone's head, go watch "Return of the Jedi".)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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