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HDK 120 † HDK Dungeon​​​-​​​synth magazine # 6

by V.A.

You had heard of it: the Swamp of Eternal Night, where the elderly sorceress Yanka set down the Stone of Understanding, a powerful and ancient magical artifact. Whoever touched the stone acquired immeasurable knowledge. Many, driven by ambition, had tried to challenge the unhealthy waters of the swamp, its unbreathable air, its poisonous insects and the terrible monsters that lived there. No one, after Yanka, had ever managed not only to get their hands on the coveted stone but even to come back alive to tell what he had seen. Only one thing was known for certain about the swamp: it was shrouded in perpetual darkness, as in an endless night. The story fascinated you and your adventurous spirit did the rest. You had traveled for weeks, until you come here, on the edge of the Great Northern Steppes, where the taiga gives way to the tundra and the great swamps of the Karlia region bathe the roots of the sparse birch forests. Under this vast and imposing sky, where the hum of insects is the only sound other than that of your footsteps, where the wind is silent and the horizon opens flat and boundless to the north, you have reached the small village of Terikberg. Among the few shabby houses half sunk in the mud, you find an inn and get acquainted with the rough hospitality of the inhabitants of this desolate land. You left the day after and finally, after a few meters outside the main path, you found yourself on the threshold of your destination. No doubt: although it was still morning, the swamp was shrouded in a gloomy blanket of darkness. The few trees were curved, as in a diabolical grimace, a sinister parody of the upright birch trees seen nearby. You go on and after a few steps, you realize that the noise of the insects has stopped. How long have you been enveloped in this unnatural silence? You look up and you see a sky of an indefinable color, a kind of dark purple never seen before. Your feet begin to sink into damp, unhealthy ground. The air takes on a strange smell and, despite your precautions, you realize that you are losing your bearings. You’re starting to think you’ve made a terrible mistake by coming here. But it’s too late now… you feel observed, maybe someone still dwells in this place. Perhaps the elderly sorceress Yanka is still alive and she protects the stone from the greed of men ... What you will see from now on, you will not be able to say if it belongs to the world of dreams or reality. But - anyway - you won’t be able to tell it to anyone.
A Hero and Thief duel. — oh…the Hero has perished. But HARK, a spirit as old as time, known as “The Wind” came to these parts for someone in their time of need. And there below The Hero’s corpse, The Wind saw something, a glimmer of life, a seed in the dirt. Knowing what must be done, The Wind breathed life into the seed. Its roots kicking and wiggling. Its body poking up and lunging at the sun. Its petals spring to life. The Wind began to sing — “The red spirit wages war with my forest. I need your help, little one.” The little flower dancing noticed the wind move to the brook. Curious, the flower lifted from the dirt and followed. Floating downstream upon a leaf sat a sewing needle. A gift from the wind. The flower took it up, “I’ll name you thread” the flower said, swinging its sword like a child in play. The flower then saw a tiny Beetle chasing after them. It tripped and fell. “Are you ok?” The flower asked, helping the beetle up. “Run! I tried to warn the others.” WOOSH! BANG! CRACKLE! SNAP! The forest was awash in flames. The Little flower mustered up his courage and charged into the burning wood. The Wind & beetle followed Wicked heat danced in every direction, casting light upon the party of heroes. Their shadows merged and took shape, rising from the dirt into a beast of unimaginable size. “WHO DARES DISRUPT MY CHAOS?” The wind and beetle cowered before the flaming foe. But the little flower hid its fear. “You will not hurt my friends” The wind & beetle darted for cover as the shadow lunged, the flower yelped a warrior’s yell, blindly swiping its blade — SLASH! The Shadow felt a pain rip across its flesh. The shadow enraged tore into the flower. “CHAOS REIGNS” it hissed… The flower’s quest seemed lost as flames consumed the wood. The Little flower weak and waning rose to face his foe. “NO!” It screamed. The flower summoned all its strength and skewered the shadow. The flaming beast sputtered and winced. Its flames retreating… However, The Flower perished, too wounded to continue. The wind, beetle, & every woodland creature wept. As they cried, the wind caused a great churning, The Little Flower’s life force mixed with their mist of tears. And like magic…flowers began to sprout across the burnt field. Dancing wild and free, in-numerous & beautiful. So if you find a field of flowers, just know a little heroic flower was there. And if you listen, you might hear its tale on the wind.
The memory of death was like a dream. We had all been killed but something magical had brought the four of us back to life: Hulk, Sonja, Gothmog and Chani. Once again we had to challenge the Lord of Chaos and his terrible underground labyrinth... This cursed dungeon was full of pitfalls: cruel monsters emerging from the shadows, deadly traps at every corner, puzzles that could drive you crazy and trap you forever in the darkness. Food and water were scarce and had to be dosed with care, so even time was running out. But finally we were able - after a thousand ups and downs - to get our hands on the final weapon: the Firestaff! The guardstone golems had been tough opponents, but they were quite slow, and after destroying a couple of them, we were able to outflank them and escape with the precious artifact. Thus it was that, going down to the penultimate level of the dungeon, we had finally encountered the terrible Lord of Chaos and the powerful fire demons that served him. We thought he would dissolve once he attacked with the Firestaff but to our horror we found that the weapon did not work. The Firestaff had to be strengthened, joining it to a magical gem and casting the mysterious spell written on the parchment that we had found while exploring some hidden corners of the dungeon. Three syllables, three magical sounds: “Zo Kath Ra”. The Lord of Chaos was therefore still invulnerable to our weapons and nearly killed us with his spells. We were tempted to go back, escape from this place but the road back into the bowels of the earth would have been too long. Food was in short supply. Only the last level of the dungeon remained unexplored: we heard sounds coming from there that made our blood freeze in our veins. Footsteps as heavy as boulders. Obscene roars that made one think of the most fearsome of creatures. We had found the key that opened the passage, it was the only way we could still beat. We plucked up courage and went on ...
The Pagoda of certain death is located in the forbidden district of Hallak-Hallak where, due to sacred precepts of which no one remembers the origin, the doors of the houses all have twelve locks. The Pagoda, a flamboyant four-storey temple, stands among the low and humble buildings. There are no guardians outside because the entrance is open (for anyone who does not care about his own life). It is late in the evening when you arrive in front of it: the bookmakers have already set up their stalls and groups of patrons are lining up to bet on your destiny. A fate of death, it is meant: bets refer to the hourglass rounds that will elapse between your entrance and the moment your corpse is thrown onto the street from one window of the pagoda. The less daring, on the other hand, focus on the floor on which you will die: the first, the second, the third or - very unlikely - the fourth, where Al-Kadriri is kept, the Stone of Deception, one of the rare Jewels of Power, the treasure whereby everyone defies death in the pagoda. You have sharpened your scimitar, tightened the laces of your leather armor and inhaled some Wolf Spirit, to instill courage and determination. You know everything about the challenges of the pagoda levels: everything they say, that is a lot of fantasies and inventions. Will there really be Siamese panthers who induce suicide with just the movement of the tail? What about the perfectly spherical obsidian keeper? How will you face the headless ninjas, heirs of the ancient assassins of Al-Xiao, the hero of the Three Deserts? And what will you do when you find yourself in front of him, Ping-al-Saied II, the invisible magician, architect of the pagoda, who is said to be still alive - at the tender age of three hundred and ninety years - on the top floor of the building? It is said that he is contemplating the iridescent beauty of the Stone of deception day and night, a victim himself of the madness generated by the mysterious jewel.


Hello dungeoncrawlers!

Our magazine continues with its first issue of 2022, consolidating its formula and offering you some interesting news of the international Dungeon Synth scene. Since we started we have received a lot of music and requests for collaboration: we thank you for the enthusiasm you show for this initiative by HDK and we ask all those who have already sent their contributions to be patient, you are many and your time will come to see your contribution on these pages!

We often ask ourselves: what is Dungeon Synth? What are its features? Certainly this musical genre has quite wide boundaries, but synthesizers are not enough: the “synth” element is as important as the “dungeon” one, which comes first. So we think that the atmosphere is a key element of this kind of music. The ability of sounds to let us travel with our imagination. For this reason, sometimes the choice of sounds counts at least as much as our ability to weave good melodies and build well-made arrangements. Dungeon synth music works when it can make us visualize vivid, magical and mysterious visions. It’s music that works on the innermost corners of our imagination!

Now, let’s take a look at what this sixth volume of your favorite cassette magazine has to offer! We begin with “The Swamp of Eternal Night” a classic quest that leads us into the enigmatic territories of an incongruous and unknown nature. The delicate musical interpretation of the artist called “In the vast forest” perfectly fits this story full of mysticism in dark tones. We continue with a surprise: “Save the forest, little flower” is a story conceived and set to music by the writer Løgan McCurter with his unmistakable approach... comfy synth! The American writer offers us a fantastic example of how effective it can be to play the memories of the fairy tales of our childhood.

On the other side of the tape, we find the brave Leafbutterfly with a story inspired by the famous 16-bit video game Dungeon Master: “Lord of Chaos” is in fact a tribute to the most terrible enemy of that wonderful game we used to play spending many hours when we were just kids. Finally, Necron95 brings us into martial arts territories: “The Pagoda of Certain Death” is in fact a story inspired by kung-fu movies but also by another famous video game, the legendary “Kung-fu master”.

Good listening and... see you next time!


released March 25, 2022

Support the artists here:
IN THE VAST FOREST: inthevastforest.bandcamp.com
LØGAN McCURTER: loganmccurter.bandcamp.com
LEAFBUTTERFLY: leafbutterfly.bandcamp.com
NECRON95: FB profile www.facebook.com/francesco.s.tomei




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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