Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Sarnath Texts

 Two men groped through the ancient catacombs beneath the glorious city of Sarnath lighting their way with torches that barely penetrated the gloom. One man was very old and frail, and he was far older even than his appearance suggested. He was Ysra the Hyperborean and he was a great wizard. The other man was young and large, his name was Malak and he was one of Ysra's apprentices, although he was reckoned by many to have neither the talent nor intelligence to make a wizard.
    In the streets above them the men of Sarnath celebrated the three hundred year anniversary of the destruction of Ib, a neighboring city that had been populated by odd creatures considered repulsive and inferior to men. Malak had wished to join in the celebration, but Ysra had no interest in such foolishness, he had witnessed the destruction of Ib and he knew eventually Sarnath would pay a dire price for the transgression. They traveled ever deeper into the earth until the sounds of the city and it's riotous festival ceased to echo the tunnels.
   Ysra stopped at the entrance to the deepest section of the catacombs, runes carved in the rock caught the old wizard's attention and he read them for a bit. He spoke, "Douse your torch, good Malak, fire is no friend to those who dwell beyond this portal. We shall instead view this realm with the second sight granted by this potion." He produced a flask and they each took a sip. For a moment all was black, then a pale green glow began to illume the tunnel and the men could see easily as well as in the torchlight.  Malak was amazed by his master's craft, his father had been wise to pay Ysra the tremendous sum required for acceptance as the old man's apprentice.
Peering about with his new vision Malak was disturbed by the number and size of the spiders crawling the walls, he sought to crush one under his foot that crawled near but Ysra pulled him back with surprising strength. The wizard hissed, "Fool! Would you enter a great kingdom and kill it's people?" Bewildered by the comment Malak made no reply.
    The pair came to a gigantic cavern, massive pillars carved with ancient runes of power stretched up a hundred feet to the ceiling and the floor was like a living carpet of spiders. The arachnids were all sizes and colors, some no bigger than a coin and jet black, others large enough to kill a house cat and covered in wild hues of yellow and purple, the largest were pale white spiders that had never seen the light of day clinging to the walls and seemingly watching them with their clusters of black eyes.
 The spiders parted and cleared a path as the men approached a dais made of human skulls and webbing.  Malak shook with terror as he looked up for resting atop it was the supreme horror of this subterranean realm, a great thing like a spider but as big as a horse and with a face similar to that of a man. The spider thing spoke with a harsh rasping voice, "Greetings, Ysra of the Crimson Circle, hast thou come to gain more of my knowledge?" The old wizard replied, "Indeed Great Son of Atlach, I would know of the Swarm of Nebros and how they devour a man when summoned and yet that man lives on in their swarm. I would know of the depths under this realm and the foul dwellers below, and I would know of the dimension of Lord Kour-Gath and to what gods he sacrifices endlessly. I have brought this gift according to our ancient bargain." 
    Suddenly the dim-witted Malak realized his fate and turned to flee. Ysra was faster, he struck Malak in the neck with his left hand. One of his rings had a tiny needle dipped in black lotus extract and it pierced Malak's skin, the apprentice dropped to stone floor.  Malak was awake but his limbs were paralyzed by the lotus extract, he could not even scream as the great white spiders carried him high up the wall and cocooned him in webbing. He hung there for many days, listening to the Great Son of Atlach whisper arcane secrets to Ysra, while the wizard carefully wrote down all that the monster spoke.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Necronomicon Tales 3

    Of all the curses known to the sorcerers of elder lore, the curse of Mgnalah is the most vile. First the magus must obtain some part of the victim, a lock of hair or even a drop of spittle will serve as a link. Then a deep cave is found for Mgnalah will not enter where the light of the sun has touched the earth. Next is is drawn the seal of Mgnalah upon the earth and the link placed atop it. Then the incantations are recited in a whisper, for Mgnalah hears whenever his name is spoken and there is no need to shout.
    Seeping down from between the spaces we know will come Mgnalah, searching for his prey. The old one will take root within his host and begin to grow, consuming flesh and mind both. In time the wretched remains will resemble nothing of this earth and mumble only of strange and terrible visions. In the end nothing human will remain, only a fragment of Mgnalah that will crawl away in search of new flesh to devour that it might grow into a greater abomination.
(From the Necronomicon of Abdul Alhazrad)

Necronomicon Tales 2

 Abdul Alhazrad cursed the luck that led him to this fate; he would die in a stinking tent listening to the nerve wracking cry of a baby in yet another tent. Alhazrad had been traveling alone, his camel laden with plunder he had found in various long forgotten tombs. He proved a tempting target for bandits. They had ambushed him as he crossed a dune and sank an arrow into his left side just below the ribs. He cut his treasure pack loose and flogged his camel like a madman, seeking to escape the thieves. The desperate plan worked, the bandits ceased pursuit to gather Alhazrad's goods and he rode on until the camel dropped dead from the many arrows it had recieved.
  Weak and delirious, Alhazrad had wandered on foot for two days, then an outrider for a nomad tribe found him. The strange desert folk spoke no tongue that Alhazrad was familiar with but they were kind in their fashion; they had no method to treat Alhazrad's wounds so they merely provided him a tent that he would at least die in some small comfort and privacy.
On this third night the wound in Alhazrad's side exuded a foul odor and with each breath he could feel the sting of the barbed arrowhead, for certain this hot night would be his last.
   The moon reached it's zenith and a cool breeze whispered through the nomad camp. A woman stood at the flap of Alhazrad's tent. She was tall and dark, clothed in gossamer robes that concealed nothing of her icy beauty. She asked Alhazrad's permission to enter and he gave it gladly.
   She spoke, "Would you desire to live, Abdul Alhazrad?"
  "What fool does not," Alhazrad replied.
  The Dark Woman commanded, "Then take up quill and record my tale in the olden runes, for I know you as a sorcerer versed in such things."
The Dark Woman begin her story and Alhazrad could not have resisted even if he had the desire to do so. She dipped the quill into his oozing wound and bade him to inscribe the tale in his own blood. She began her story and Alhazrad wrote every word, pain and fear of death forgotten, replaced with wonder.
  The Dark Woman told Alhazrad of the early days of man, she spoke of the wondrous place those first people were given and how the crimes of a few caused that place to be taken from them. The worst of the disobedient ones were cast out, cursed, and forgotten by the light. Doomed to wander forever, becoming monsters and breeding monsters. She spoke all the night through and the moon was almost gone when she finished her tale.
  Alhazrad was fading fast and he feared the Dark Woman would betray him. But she spoke, "Fear not sorcerer, this is not your time to die". She struck faster than cobra, driving her fingers into the wound, when she pulled them free the dripping arrowhead was in her hand. The Dark Woman smiled and for some reason it terrified Alhazrad more than the death. She spoke once more, "Rest now, and take my story back to the land of men when you awake", and left the tent silent as a stalking panther.
  Alhazrad awoke midday, his wound had closed and the infection had cleared. The camp was quiet, even the noisy baby had apparently decided to nap the day through. He stumbled to the nearest tent, he would thank these simple people and be on his way. No answer came to Alhazrad's hail and so he peered into the tent. Alhazrad fled screaming to the next tent and then the next. But in each he found the same thing, skeletons of a tribe long dead and forgotten.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Demons beyond Kadath

In the chaotic realms beyond Kadath there are ten Lords, less than gods but greater than flesh, they are Demons of the greater order. Only seven of the ten are known from fragmentary codex known as the Demonology of Ysra. They are to be evoked with the utmost caution for they delight in atrocity.

 The first lord of the Chaos Realms is called Su'Kru-Ital. In the time of the first men dragons sought to destroy the chaos realms and invaded that place of sorrow, but the Demon Lord Su'Kru-Ital devoured the King of Dragons and a third of the dragons were destroyed. The dragons retreated to meditate on their defeat and fully a third more died from grief. Thus is Su'Kru-Ital sometimes called "Dragon-Breaker" in the primitive tongue of the Inutos. If angered this lord may often be appeased by an offering of a drop of dragon's blood, for it reminds him of his great victory. The spawn of this lord number over 70,000 and they are easily bound by the seal of their master.

The second Lord is known to be Auth-Neb. When the gods of men first appeared in Kadath he sought to join their ranks. Mighty Nodens cast Auth-Neb from Kadath back to the chaotic realms, for that demon's vileness was not concealed from him. Ever after has Auth-Neb dwelt in a vast chasm, chiseling a magic formulae into the stone. It is said that when the demon completes his work the gods of Kadath will be forgotten and powerless. The Prophets of Pnom agree that this is so, but they also declare that those gods will reign again for a short while, until R'lyeh rises from the depths to cast down all the works of man.
     Auth-Neb knows all the formulae of the gates of dimension and the shapes of time, with proper sacrifice he may give a Magus aid in this work. But if he is called often he will become familiar to the Magus and may take him when the barriers are thin or the seals made improper. The fate of those taken by Auth-Neb is not known, even to the Prophets of Pnom.

The third greater demon is Xal'thv, he delights in depravity and is most easily called by those who share in this. Xal'thv rarely takes part in the constant war and conflict among the demonkind, but his wrath is feared even among the demons. It is said the the lemurian wizard Tullterum still howls in agony deep in the realm of Xal'thv, his flesh restored constantly so he can endure ever greater toture.
Xal'thv has no demonspawn as such, but his realm is inhabited by many sorcerers he has taken as priests and servants. These beings are to be avoided, they are twisted in both spirit and body, seeking always to draw the unwary into the games of Xal'thv.
The Prophets of Pnom have theorised that Xal'thv is in truth an aspect of that thing called Y'Golonac, as the demon shares certain features and desires of that vile Old One. This is not certain and perhaps the question is best left unanswered.

The fourth Greater Demon is known as K'Hurru'ss, though this is not his true name. Before the Gods of Man came forth to dwell in Kadath the Greater Demons crawled from the abyss to claim the chaos realms. But they were not the first to dwell in these places, for in the fourth realm they discovered a great stone seal covering a chasm. Gathering their strength they shattered the stone and K'Hurru'ss emerged. The demons claimed him as one of their own, but it is theorised by the Prophets of Pnom that K'Hurru'ss is one of the Great Old Ones, though the aeon's long imprisonment robbed him of much his memory and intellect.
   When the Gods of Kadath were young and uncertain the Greater Demons unleashed K'Hurru'ss and a great host of demonspawn. War raged across Kadath, the young gods led by Great Nodens slew endless hordes of demonspawn until they came to face K'Hurru'ss. The lesser gods were swept aside and only Nodens could stand before that monster from primal times.
  Their battle raged for days and finally K'Hurru'ss struck down Nodens and ripped the god's heart from his breast. Great Noden's body fell lifeless but his heart continued to beat in the jaws of the monster. Finding wonder in this,
 K'Hurru'ss left the battle and returned to the chasm he had sprang from.
The Gods of Kadath despaired, they were no match for the monster and feared what the beast would become if it devoured the heart of the mightiest of gods. Only one goddess, Io-Ilaysha, dared go into the pit where  K'Hurru'ss made his home. She was not a goddess of war or the hunt, but favored a small group of  mortals who lived on a tiny island of great beauty.
 Io-Ilaysha went into the pit and offered herself to the monster in exchange for the heart of Nodens. The beast  K'Hurru'ss accepted the bargain, casting aside the heart of Nodens and dragging his new bride to the very depths of his chasm. The Gods of Kadath fled with the heart, back to the battlefield where Nodens body lay rent asunder. The heart was restored and Nodens lived again, but changed with the knowledge that the gods of men were but small things in the hands of those from the outside.
    The Greater Demons restored the seal guarding K'Hurru'ss pit, but their knowledge and power is less than those who first built it. The Prophets of Pnom have spoken that the seal will be broken again when the stars come right, then shall  K'Hurru'ss and all the numberless spawn he begot on Io-Ilaysha be released on both Kadath and the worlds of men.


    The fifth realm of chaos is the domain of the Greater Demoness, Aserah-Vashi. It is a place of dark jungles and steaming swamps, overflowing with foul demonspawn who bow before the seal of the Aserah-Vashi. It is from these swamps that Aserah-Vashi did conjure the great serpent Satha, the beast that slew Sammanus, who was brother to Great Nodens.      
   Nyarlathotep took notice of the sorceries of Aserah-Vashi, which were most complex and woven with unmatched skill. Nyarlathotep spoke to her of the Tablets of Ubbo-Sathla and the eldritch knowledge they contained, he guided her deep under the earth, into the labyrinth that was the dwelling of the abomination, Ubbo-Sathla. The demoness beheld the Tablets of Ubbo-Sathla, she read the secret name of Azathoth inscribed upon them and that primal rune melted her eyes from the sockets. Nyarlathotep left her blind and helpless that she would be consumed by the abomination. But the demoness had prepared for treachery, her sorceries broke the grip of Ubbo-Sathla and bore her back to safety. Aserah-Vashi dwelt in exile for a millenium, weeping from her empty sockets as she strove to comprehend the Rune of Azathoth.
     The eyeless Seers who serve Ymsha assert that Aserah-Vashi and her daughter Ereshkigal will aid any who are beset by Nyarlathotep. This is perhaps so, but what use is the power of a blind demon lord against the messenger of the Outer Gods?

 The sixth greater Demon is Ru'uak and he is the sometimes known as the conqueror, for he is cunning in the ways of war. 
 For a time three moons did rise over Kadath and no priest or sage could explain this. But Ru'uak, found that while these moons were in the sky the barriers that held the greater demons from Kadath grew weak. The demon and his army of spawn broke through to Kadath. In this he was aided by the Demoness Aserah-Vashi; she sent her servant Satha, a serpent huge beyond imagining, to serve Ru'uak in this conquest. The outer regions of Kadath were ravaged and then the horde set their eyes on the Palace of the Gods.
  The lesser gods of Kadath were afraid and fled, all save Great Nodens and his brothers, Cruuach the fierce and Sammanus of the golden wings. They were the first gods to awaken from the dreams of men and fear was not in them.
   In a place called the valley of bones they met the demon host. Nodens wielded a sword forged from lightning, the axe of Cruuach struck like thunder, and high above Sammanus soared raining fire upon the vile horde. Waves of demons fell before the divine brothers, but Ru'uak had planned well. The demon cast a potion into the air and the golden wings of Sammanus became heavy, he flew lower and lower, unable to resist the pull of that dark magic. The great serpent Satha snatched the winged god from the skies bearing him to the ground, and there Sammanuslay paralyzed by the venom of the monster. A thousand demons rushed upon the wounded god, his golden wings were ripped from his back, his flesh was flayed by cruel talons, when the demons finished nothing was left but blooded bones. Sammanus was dead.
   A terrible lust for revenge came upon Cruuach, he left his place at the side of Nodens, charging deep into the horde, demons dying at each stroke of his thundering axe. Then Ru'uak stood before him, the war god voiced his battle cry and struck. The mighty axe of Cruuach shattered against the armor of the demon, and Ru'uak struck him down. The demon ripped out the heart of the war god, devouring it.
    Nodens fought on, slaying demonspawn by the dozens until the terrible Satha reared before him. The demons backed away as god and primal monster fought with a fury that shook the mountains. Satha wrapped his coils about Nodens, pinning his swordarm and crushing the breath from his lungs that he could not speak the words of power. With the monstrous fangs of Satha swaying above his head, the first of the Elder Gods waited for death.
   Ru'uak stepped close and spoke, "This beast shall have your flesh, save the heart which shall be mine". The left hand of Nodens sprang up to seize one of Satha's venomous fangs, ripping it from the monster's jaw. In the same motion Nodens drove the fang into the skull of the great serpent. Nodens was broke free while the beast thrashed in agony and gathering all his strength he struck Ru'uak. The blade of forged lightning split the demon's armor and steaming black blood gushed onto the ground. Nodens thrust his hand into the demon's blood, that blood still coursing with the essence of slain Cruuach. Nodens spoke a rune of power never heard before or since, and fire erupted from the earth to consume all the demon horde.
   Ru'uak survived the conflagration, although he appeared as dead for many days until the spark of life stirred him awoke amid the charred remains of his army with his ruined armor melted and fused to flesh, his power broken by the might and wisdom of great Nodens. The demon turned and began the long journey back to the demon realms, vowing never again to enter the Valley of Bones.

    The seventh realm of Chaos is the land of Mua'traas. This realm is composed of towering mountains that reach skyward like ragged claws. Vast labyrinths are cut into these peaks and in the depths foul things breed that have never seen the light of day. But foulest of all is Mua'traas, Seventh of the Greater Demons.
    Deep in the seventh realm there is a certain mountain with a great iron door set into the stone, Mua'traas came to this door and pondered at the runes carved therein. Divining that this was a seal he set about to break it, but the runes were beyond the craft of any demon. So Mua'traas sought the answer elsewhere, he made his way to the Keep of Nyarlathotep and waited at the barriers.
     In time war erupted between the Greater Demons and the Gods of Kadath. Mua'traas sent his hordes to the battle, but he kept his vigil at the keep of Nyarlathotep.
   At that battle the brothers of Nodens were slain, their death cries echoing across the aethers. Nyarlathotep left his keep to observe such a portentous conflict. He did not wish for Nodens to met his weird at that time and so sent a mighty spell into his mind that he would lay waste to the demons.
  In the moment of Nyarlathotep's departure the barriers around his keep grew thin, and Mua'traas slipped into that great hall. It was a place that no Demon or any God of Kadath had before entered, but ignoring the many wonders about him Mua'traas stole into the library of Nyarlathotep and opened the Book of Azathoth. The Demon Lord learned the secret of opening the iron door, and what dwells behind it.
  Mua'traas is seldom involved in the wars and feuds of his fellow demons, much of his time is spent in bringing sacrifices to the thing behind the iron door and it is not known if he serves out of devotion, or fear.