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HDK 103 † HDK Dungeon​​​​​-​​​​​synth magazine # 4

by V.A.

You are a young adventurer who has just arrived in town. You are unscrupulous and eager for new experiences. You haven’t done much so far, just a few unflattering assignments: you were hired to kill mouses in an old mill and to escort a merchant, scaried by the rumors about the gangs of drunken gnolls that everyone is talking about in the region but you never found any traces. In short, your experience is really poor, but perhaps the turning point is near. Finally an important assignment: the daughter of the Duke of Horos promises a thousand gold coins to those who will recover the magic brooch that was stolen from her by a servant. The thief managed to escape and slipped into the underground necropolis, in the old part of the city. The people of Horos shudder just to mention it: the necropolis is an ancient and cursed place. The duke’s guards refuse to go down there (the captain is a very superstitious man), but they are guarding the exits. So far it seems that the thief has not come out of the dungeon. To you who are not from the area, the necropolis is neither hot nor cold: it will be the usual dusty tangle of tunnels and burial niches that house old bones. When you offer yourself as a volunteer, you find that you are the only one. Under the interlocutory gaze of the captain of the ducal guard, you drop into the ancient necropolis through one of the still unsealed entrances that presumably the thief also used. The air is heavy, it stinks of centuries of abandonment and oblivion. You wander cautiously among the niches, between the narrow and suffocating corridors that intertwine in a maze of death and stench. The flashlight occasionally shines on things that you prefer to immediately drive out of sight and mind. Are you scared? Well, that’s natural. It is a horrible place, but you didn’t expect it was better. It doesn’t take long to find the thief: he is curled up with his back attached to a wall, motionless. The man’s eyes are wide open, his face disfigured by a grimace of madness. You deduce that he died in that posture of supreme horror. The brooch lies sideways in the dust. You pick up the jewel and linger a few moments intrigued by some details of the corpse: those features marred by fear, his muscles still contracted in a mortal spasm, petrified by horror. Something is wrong, you think, and now you are more afraid than before: because you realize that that man is not dead. No corpse has tense nerves, such expressive eyes, no corpse ... breathes and above all no corpse would try to talk to you! Slurred words, incomprehensible babbling. Feel a breath, a current of air behind you, a tug; someone or something firmly grabs your torch and snatches it out of your hand, with a sharp, quick… inhuman gesture. You hear thick footsteps running and moving away taking away your flashlight. You see it for a moment floating in an unnatural speed along the tunnel until it disappears... and leaves you in the dark. Now yes, you are really scared.
The kingdom is threatened by hordes of humanoids from the far east, they are joined by a diabolical alliance. The old king is doing everything to protect the kingdom, the last outpost of civilization, but he must beware of many internal enemies who would like to dethrone him and turn to the forces of evil. You are a mercenary and you have been charged with escorting a caravan of alcohol and food for the soldiers at the front. The leader of the wagon train is a creepy corrupt merchant: he has made an agreement with a hobgoblin tribe to sell them the goods. That is why he does not like your presence and, during the five-day journey through the war-torn territory, he will do everything he can to get you out. Almost at your destination, you fall into an ambush: you learn about the evil plan (you were the only one who didn’t know about it), but you almost get killed. When you get back on the trail of the caravan, it is too late: the goods have already been handed over to the hobgoblins, but... they are all dead! Food and alcohol were poisoned. They were destined to the army. You are horrified at the thought of how terrible the conspiracy in the kingdom circles may have arrived. Providentially, the corruption of the caravan leader has made the conspirators’ plan fail. What a crazy spiral of corruption – you believe – typical of these dark times...
I will never forget the ethereal sound that led me to the forgotten hamlet of Brookford, played though it was upon one of the rude musical instruments of the region. Lost in the throes of a battering storm it led me to what I took to be safety. Little did I realise however, that I was as a sailor in stories of antiquity, being led to my doom. A great sense of uneasiness assailed me as I entered that place – as if the inner fibre of my very being were reacting against it. Would to God Almighty that I had hearkened… Upon my approach to what I took to be the centre I espied a young lady sitting under a makeshift lean-to crying into her hands. Although she was in possession of certain physical characteristics common to this region, there was something undeniably comely about her physiognomy and thus I attempted to comfort her. Full of rural superstitions she implored me to leave and never to return, despite my protestations that I was carrying out important folkloric research regarding the customs of forgotten places. I know not what happened next, suffice to say that my universe went as black as the starless night sky which looked mockingly down upon me. The tinny sound of an antique gramophone player awoke me from a restless and haunted slumber and my eyes gradually focussed on the figures of several elderly men and women, naked save for the wickerwork masks upon their faces. They cavorted and danced before me in an utterly revolting manner and it was almost a relief when I was led by more masked figures through the stinking fog to a stagnant lake where I could but cry in utter shock. Not at the mewling babe offered up by the priestly figure at the shore, but at the incomprehensible horror that accepted it; amorphous, slithering and mewling itself as if in hideous reply. There amidst a rising cacophony of many monotonous whining flutes I must have lost consciousness once more, for my next memory is that of being held aloft above a joyous procession, seemingly oblivious to the harrowing scene that had just occurred. Unable to countenance my own part in the proceedings I took my penknife to my wrists, in the hopes of absolving myself of any complicity. Regarding my mortal remains still borne aloft by the baying throng I took to the air where I have been since – riding with the damned upon the eddies and currents of furious night-winds, crying my warning to any who would hear. Woe unto him who enters the hamlet of Brookford, where antediluvian horrors still whimper and crawl…
Your right hand touched the stone and suddenly you felt light. You felt your soul was detaching from your body and merging with everything. You were no longer Aghor Sword of Lightning, but you had become something else. An entity that resides everywhere at the same instant. A deity, perhaps? You understood that you could influence events, the behavior of living beings, the breath of the wind. The passage of time has become like the changing motion of your feelings. Your ten-years research had thus come to an end. After endless hardship, you had finally found the Doomstone. The legend told of his immense powers: in the wrong hands the precious artifact had caused wars, famines, death and destruction. But you also knew that in wise hands it could contribute to a wise world. You felt ready to handle that power. The community of Vaghu monks had trained you for a long time. “The soul that empathizes with the cosmos makes the right choices” your Master Han taught you. However you would never have imagined all this ... How would you have handled this extraordinary power? What happened to your earthly body? These questions took a new meaning for you since then. You had become a divine entity: you understood that you could influence the behavior of men at any time and in any place: even without existing in the physical world you could create or make collapse empires, traveling in time through instants and centuries. Maybe you weren’t the only one floating in this state of semi-omnipotence, maybe there were other deities who had the same powers as you. So what would you have done now? Would you have led the populations to slaughter each other or to live peacefully? Would you have rewarded the fair men or the cruel ones? What world will be the one in your hands, you who were Aghor Sword of Lightning?


Hello dungeoncrawlers!

Happy Halloween! With the fourth chapter of this project we experience the classic formula of “scary tales” like in many horror movies of the 80s! Short and terrifying stories, in the best tradition of exploitation. How do you “scare” with music? There are many different approaches: you can work on the timbre of sounds, creating disturbing and alien sound waves that send shivers down your spine. Or weave dark and sinister melodies. Or even work on the dynamics, with sudden clusters that make you jump out of your chair. But of course the roads could be many more, it is only our imagination to follow them all!

For now, we can see how our four party members from this episode of your favorite cassette magazine have dealt with it: Ris from Serbia, which set the terrifying tale “Into the necropolis” to music, or Geisterbeschwörer from Spain with “Livin’ in a dark age”, a hopeless story where everyone betrays everyone. Changing side, we find the original and surprising Nameless Grave with its Lovecraftian nightmare “The Brookford horror”. And finally it closes with the Greek Heaven which gives us the power to govern entire civilizations over the millennium as in old videogames such as “Populous”, “Megalomania” or “Civilization”.

What else to say? Happy listening and be careful ...you may not be alone in your room!


released October 31, 2021




Heimat Der Katastrophe Milan, Italy

DIY label focused on ambient punk, minimal-synth, dungeon-drone, wartime music and post-nuclear wave. Managed by a creative punx collective from Milano city.

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