6) The Second Trilogy: Lyrics

BAL-SAGOTH: BOOK IV (The Power Cosmic) (TPC lyrics: version 2.1)

Lyrics by Byron A. Roberts 

1) Prologue: 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.

The War of the Lexicon begins anew…

Words gleaned from the Crystal of Memory:
In 2104, lithological excavations at the Fourth Mars Colony unearthed an artefact 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 icosahedron 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-transference 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 artefact, 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 artefact 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 Vengeance of Zurra: Act I:

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 foreseen 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 emissaries 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! All shall feel the searing kiss of the Zircon Blade! Yes… The dreaming is over! Now, let the vengeance begin!

 3) The Vengeance of Zurra: Act II:

THE EMPYREAL LEXICON

The Keeper of the Black Shard: So, it begins anew. The eternal struggle for mastery of the crystalline codex. The War of the Lexicon continues! I have foreseen 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 aberration… 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 favourable reunion! The blood of Zuranthus shall anoint 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) Interlude I:

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) The Vengeance of Zura: Act III:

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 Azure Shard… 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 will 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. Within the Nuul Expanse, the Xur-Ra will summon the Guardians of the Astral Gate, and they will doubtless deal with him accordingly.

Condemned Souls of the Brotherhood of Dark Elucidation:
Bipolar nebula! A falling star! We witness the future, that which is yet to be! 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! Xur-Ra, mark me… Stray not into my darksome embrace, lest I grind my jaws on your soul. To the sidereal void with you!

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 and the Chthonic Chronicles 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!

 6) Interlude II:

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.
Thanos: 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 based on the Marvel Comics character The Silver Surfer created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.)

 

 
7) The Vengeance of Zurra: Act IV (Trans-Temporal Shift in effect, to the height of the Great Chaos War. Chronosphere of the First Terran Interstellar Imperium: 3590).

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

Grand Arbiter of Temporal Jurisprudence:
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. Avatars of evil such as Zurra and the immortal Lord Angsaar cast the shadow of their diabolism across the heavens, forging a darksome alliance of galactic villainy, and the long prophesied Great Chaos War thus began. Black carnage and red havoc was duly wrought throughout 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 Chaos-Liege is ascendant and the Hound of Z’xulth 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 Ascendancy 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 wield 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 Vengeance of Zurra: Act V:

THE THIRTEEN CRYPTICAL PROPHECIES OF MU

Words gleaned from the Crystal of Memory:
Zurra is duly cast into the Nuul Expanse by his progenitor, Zuranthus. And yet the Hound of Z’xulth is not to be thwarted so easily. Upon uttering the key Word of Transcendence, X’atham-ry’aa, and the Word of Transferrence, Tha’zai-tonn, 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: Eh? 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 foresee 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 ascendance is nigh!

Grand Arbiter Of Temporal Jurisprudence: From the Great Chronal Court at the heart of the Sidereal Omnimatrix I have come. Myriad violations of the Trans-temporal Code have been detected. No being is above the Law of the Chronosphere! Deliver unto me the Hound of Chaos!

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. During his first incarceration within the cryo-vaults of penitentiary asteroid Victis VII, Zurra learned that one of the shards of the Lexicon had briefly been hidden in that realm within a Trans-Temporal verticil. Zurra’s old nemesis, the Prime Voyager, was duly alerted to these activities by the Grand Arbiter of Temporal Jurisprudence, and promptly followed Zurra through the chronal vortex to a long fated rendezvous upon Mu’s ziggurat 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. By the blistering glow of my Zircon blade, I shall seize it, or naught but red ruin and toxic dust shall remain here to mark my passing!

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! None shall deny my glorious apotheosis! 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 than 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!!!!!

Epilogue:

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, 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, a regiment of Temporal Enforcers, and a Judgement Tetragon sent by the Mera to intercede in the battle. The Empyreal Lexicon itself was again fragmented, its myriad shards scattered once more across the multiverse. For Zurra, the Nuul Expanse beckoned, and yet his villainy was destined to continue apace. Much has the Great Eye of the Universe revealed to me of the far distant Great Chaos War and the ages which follow it, and I fear there are truly dark days ahead for those who strive valiantly against the Z’xulth…

 
Praxeum Database Entry 416765119. Subject: Zurra.

Mera Omiversal Calendar: 98765:
In the Mera genetic laboratories beneath the Pre-Cambrian sea, an experiment to create a clone body for the ancient Kl’aa hierophant Zuranthus goes hideously awry when the cellular matrix is contaminated by biological material from a captured Z’xulth Revenant. The aberrant result of the procedure, subversively naming itself Zurra after its progenitor, is cast into the Well of Black Flame with the other unsuccessful experiments of the Mera Gene-Mages.
Mera Omniversal Calendar: 99574:
Zurra escapes from the Well of Black Flame along with a myriad other genetic abominations. He seizes an array of hyper-advanced technology from the Mera Vaults beneath the Black Pyramid, including the Zircon Blade and the Pentlandite Armour, before slaughtering his captors and fleeing to the stars.
Mera Omniversal Calendar: 99887:
Zurra becomes known throughout the galaxy as a threat to Universal Order and a prime violator of the Temporal Flow, and begins his numerous attempts to liberate his Z’xulth brethren from their inter-dimensional prison within the Black Galaxy. Finally apprehended by bounty hunters appointed by the Arbiters of Temporal Jurisprudence, Zurra is briefly incarcerated within the Cryo-Vaults of the hyper-security penitentiary asteriod Victis VII, and by the tenets of Galactic Law is scheduled to stand trial for his crimes. But Zurra duly escapes from his stasis-pod en route to the Great Chronal Courts and seeks refuge within the Black Galaxy. There, his malign Z’xulth kin instruct him in the dark ways of the Chaosphere, and Zurra’s evil power grows inestimably.
Mera Omniversal Calendar: 10097:
Orchestrating a partial escape from the Black Galaxy, Zurra and a pack of Z’xulth Deathbringers begin their bid to seize control of the Empyreal Lexicon, thus triggering the War of the Lexicon. Zurra engages the forces of Order in a myriad battles during the course of the conflict, as well as attempting to wrest advanced lore from the techno-mages of the Praesidium of Ys.
Additionally, he begins perverse preparations to implant his DNA into a series of suitable female host-entities in a bid to create a brood of vile progeny. However, his spawning program is thwarted by the mages of Ys. The First War of the Lexicon reaches its climax as the foes of Zurra desperately scatter the shards of the Lexicon across the stars. The Z’xulth are ultimately defeated and Zurra engages the Kl’aa Prime Voyager in a final bitter battle which results in his entombment beneath the moon’s Mare Imbrium until the Terran year 2104, when the lunar seal is breached and he rises once more.
Terran Calendar: 2104:
In his ongoing obsessive quest for the Lexicon, Zurra comes into direct conflict with many entities, including his clone progenitor Zuranthus and the fearsome Guardians of the Astral Gate, ultimately travelling back in time to Earth’s antediluvian era. Finally denied his long sought prize, Zurra utilizes his advanced weaponry to detonate a thermonuclear device upon the island nation of Mu, destroying the realm utterly. Zurra is defeated by a combined Kl’aa and Mera taskforce, as well as a regiment of Temporal Enforcers.
Terran Calendar: 2109:
Zurra is sentenced to permanent incarceration in the inter-dimensional limbo of the Nuul Expanse. However, the Z’xulth cultists who revere Zurra as an avatar of Chaos plot to liberate him from his trans-temporal prison…

Further Entries Classified: Level 9 Hierophant Security Clearance or higher required for database decryption.

From the personal holo-journal of Hierophant Altarus, including transcript of conversation between Altarus and Xerxes, Praxeum database record 2.1.4.00:

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 and stories copyright 1993, 2013 B.A. Roberts. All rights reserved.

BAL-SAGOTH: Book V (Atlantis Ascendant)

Lyrics by Byron A. Roberts

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 Mesopotamia 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 radius 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!

From the journal of Professor Caleb Blackthorne III, continued…
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 pecsaetan; Draconis Bipedes, swift and furious beast of battle!)
The Dragon King’s Vow:
(Dragon-Runes etched by the fiery tongues of the Legio IX 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!
Bright-Anya Ophidia: Assemble for battle, Legio IX Draconis! Take flight, Britannic Spitfire Cavalry! Reduce the enemy to cinders! Burn the foe to ash! For victory, for Albion!
The War-song of the Dragon Lords: Hail the Dragon-King! Rule, Bright-Anya!
Draconis Nematoda, Draconis Rex, Draconis Bipedes, Draconis Albionensis!
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 Cosmographers seemed 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!

From the journal of Professor Caleb Blackthorne III, continued…
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 Chthonic 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!
Kutulu, Kakammu, Zi Azag, Azag-thoth, Kutulu, Kaimanu, Mattaru, Absu!
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 Chthonic 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 Chthonic 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!

From the journal of Professor Caleb Blackthorne III, continued… 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 Dreamer In The Catacombs Of Ur”, detailing Doctor Ignatius X. Stone’s expedition to Egypt, see “Unfettering The Hoary Sentinels Of Karnak, found on the sixth Bal-Sagoth album “The Chthonic Chronicles“.”)

 
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!

From the journal of Professor Caleb Blackthorne III, continued…
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 and stories copyright 1993, 2013 B.A. Roberts. All rights reserved.

BAL-SAGOTH: Book VI (The Chthonic Chronicles)

Lyrics by Byron A. Roberts

 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 Xytaxehedron?),
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 copyright 1993, 2013 B.A. Roberts. All rights reserved.


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