We've updated our Terms of Use. You can review the changes here.

HDK 128 † The orchid of life


Tonight at the Mill-Wheel it is quiet; the dining-room is half-empty and small groups sit around speaking in low voices. You are puzzling over this, when an Elf moves over to your table and sits down. You eye him warily, and he smiles: “You do not remember me,” he says. This is true, but then most Elves look alike to men. “I’m Tamlane, I was a friend of Aalandrin” he continues “and I salute your bravery in recovering our Sceptre. We still sing of it”. You raise your eyebrows. The adventure he is referring to took place some time ago though you will not forget the battle to recover the Sceptre of the Elvenking and the bravery of Aalandrin in that quest. But the Elf who introduces himself as Tamlane is speaking again: “What is happening now is just as sinister, perhaps more so, he says, looking at you steadily. “In a short while, it may be that Fourways will be no more, and perhaps much more besides will be devastated. There is one called Liknud, who even now hides deep in the forest of Ardristan, North of here, and whose foul influence spreads wider each day”. There is a pause, and then the Elf’s fine jaw sets in grim determination: “Eildon failed, at the end” he says “but she will be avenged, and Liknud will be destroyed. This time Liknud has stolen the Orchid of Life, a bloom with magical powers, which flowers just once a century. The next flowering of the Orchid is imminent, and if Liknud still possesses it at that time, his powers will be increased to the point where he can do really bad things rather than the more mundane bad things to which he has thus far been restricted”. “What should I do?” you ask without delay, leaving Tamlane surprised. “You will have to enter his lair and only thanks to a magical dagger called Telledus and the protection of Hellbane root will be able to kill him and put an end to his wickedness”. The quest begins...
You stand in the clearing, quite still, and then several slim young women emerge: you are in the presence of the Dryads of the Forest. The Nymphs chatter among themselves for a minute, their voices like the breeze through the leaves, and then they move forward again. One holds out a small crystal sphere, saying, “Take it, it will guide and protect you through the darkness which no mortal light can penetrate. Trust the Orb of the Dryads”. You take the beautiful orb, and hesitate a moment, unsure what to do with it. Finally, you put it away in your backpack, and thank the Dryads; but when have you been speaking they have melted back into the forest. A last clear voice calls out, faint as the breeze in the trees “Go North!” Then all is oppressive silence again and you are alone.
Walking cautiously along the path, you are struck by the increasing sense of decay all around you; the trees are almost bare of leaves now, the bushes and plants dying where they sprout. The air smells foul and the oppressive feeling of evil that you sensed when you first entered the once-beautiful forest of Ardristan is almost overwhelming. As you press on, the desolation becomes still more marked; great oaks are split and dying, saplings are felled, the undergrowth is scorched and charred. A terrible curse has fallen on this forest...
Following the advice you have been given, you make your way quickly North, and soon reach the Southern shore of the lake. Pulling steadily on the oars, you cross the glassy-smooth surface of the water with ease. You are almost at the Northern shore when the water begins bubbling alarmingly. You pull harder, but a moment later, a gigantic creature rises from the surface, creating waves that toss the boat like a cork and threaten to capsize you. The flat head of the Watersnake weaves above you, swooping down to snap at you with its broad, flat mouth. The creature’s coils wrap around the little boat, and you leap into the water – it is barely waist-deep, but you have no chance of escape as the head swings round again, and you fight!
The path ends in a clearing; in the center there is a large age-old oak. Its base is a wide opening; you move forward for a closer look, and see that steps are cut into the earth beneath the opening. You descend the steps, each footfall releasing a small shower of earth, until you stand in a narrow tunnel, high enough, just for you to walk along without stooping... the darkness of this dungeon is strangely dense, almost material... You recall the words of the forest Nymphs: the orb will “guide and protect you through the darkness which no mortal light can penetrate”. You douse your useless torch and take out the orb from your backpack. As you do so, there is a vicious hissing sound, and something thin and strong whips around your waist, gripping you tight. But at the same moment, the orb begins to glow, softly at first, and then more strongly, a powerful, pulsing white glow. The tendril about your waist shudders and then-detaches itself; ahead, hundreds of thin, waving tendrils snake out from the sides, roof and floor of the artificial tunnel. But before the light of the orb, they shrink away, as though before a fierce flame. You move forward, warily at first, but then with increasing confidence, holding the orb before you, protected in its pulsing brightness. After what seems like an age, but must be, you realise, a short time, you emerge from the horrific tunnel into sunlight once more. The orb fades, and you release your pent-up breath, and relax your taut muscles.
The path bends round to the West after a short while, but soon after that peters out. Ahead of you is an impenetrable thicket of tangled branches and spiky thorn-bushes. But then you notice something – a sprouting plant with wide scarlet-and-orange leaves, growing in the ground directly ahead of you. You have found Hellbane! Just why the root of this rare plant is important you do not know, but you trust the advice of Tamlane, and using your dagger, carefully loose the earth all around the small shrub, until it comes away in your hand. Cutting it off at the stem, you put the root away with care and reverence into your backpack and then, following the rules that have been handed down for centuries, make a small nick in your thumb, and let a few drops of blood spill into the place from which you removed the plant. Then, the ritual over, you continue to the north.
After a while the path ends abruptly. North, it looks as though there once might have been a track, but it is now overgrown and seemingly impassable. You are about to turn South when an arresting figure steps out in your path. Your hand flies to your sword-hilt, and then stops. The wide, almond eyes fix on yours, and you take in the fine features, lithe body in the tight-fitting lime-green tunic. You are facing a beautiful female Elf, and at once you hold up your hands in a gesture of peace. For a brief moment, her severe expression relaxes as she smiles, and introduces herself: “I’m Shadria There is no time for chatter. Follow me”. She turns, and at once almost disappears into the thicket North. You hurry after her, following her slim shape as it weaves through the foliage, following a path invisible to your eyes. After a while, you emerge from the tangled undergrowth, and are once more on a well-made path. “There, to the north, is what you are looking for.” You don’t have time to ask her how she knows what you are looking for that the young elf has already disappeared in the dense forest...
Around you are rock walls, giving off a sulphurous-yellow glow and in answer to your unspoken question, Tamlane says: “We are inside the cave. Liknud is here somewhere – I can sense his presence”. Tamlane stands back giving you a long look: “Fortunately, I arrived just in time; those were Liknud’s minions who attacked you – another minute and you would have been dead. However, all is well now, and we must press on – come!”. Before you have even got to your feet the Elf has darted away to the North and, when you rise, calling his name there is no sign of him. Maybe you just had a hallucination? If it was a hallucination, this hallucination helped you defeat the guardians of Liknud’s lair. What you know is that this cavern smells of magic and mystery. A tunnel runs away North and ends at a pair of metal-studded wooden doors. You listen cautiously, but they are too thick for you to make out any sounds beyond. However, since this is the way that Tamlane went, you assume he must be beyond somewhere, and gently push at one of the doors. Somewhat to your surprise, it swings easily and noiselessly open and you look in. A fair- sized room is beyond, rock-walled and bare – except for the shackles set into the walls every six feet. Two exhausted-looking men hang by their wrists directly opposite you, and two men you assume to be guards sit at a low table, lethargically playing some kind of game with dice. The guards are half-asleep and the room is deeply shadowed you may well be able to reach the exit doors on the opposite wall unnoticed... but maybe your conscience will tell you that you will have to free the poor prisoners and fight for the umpteenth time with other stinking humanoid soldiers...
This room is a hopeless clutter of books boxes, papers, piles of brightly-coloured silks and in the centre of all this, waving a wand and chattering away to himself, is a rather old man in a long flowing black cloak decorated with silver signs of the zodiac. Suddenly he looks up and sees you “Ah come in, come in, my friend!” he calls. “An audience! Allow me to introduce myself – Zarko the great illusionist and conjuror!”. He tosses the wand into the air, and as he catches it, it bursts into a bunch of flowers. “What do you think of that, eh?” he asks. “I have an immense repertoire of illusions – allow me to demonstrate!”. Smiling at this slightly comic figure, you await his next trick. He fixes you with a stare, and you suddenly feel uneasy. It is as though you are looking down a long, dark tunnel; you begin to feel light-headed, as though you are floating away...Your senses dull as Zarko’s eyes bore into yours and your spirit floats away, leaving behind a mere shell of a body. The magician has captured your soul. Your adventure is over?
The fight with the evil Zarko was terrible: the sorcerer almost managed to overwhelm you and now you are very weak. You have to thank your protective rings for saving you from certain death. You staggered around the dungeon, slightly hallucinating, past twists, gloomy corridors, and empty rooms. And finally... Lying on a table at the side is a velvet cushion, and resting on the cushion is a long dagger, jewels gently glowing. It is carved with runes, and you realise that you have found the all-important dagger of Telledus. Tamlane told you you couldn’t defeat Liknud without this magic weapon. But as you pick it up, you are overcome by waves of nausea, and your limbs feel like jelly the dagger has a powerful curse on it... You have no choice but to move on in your weakened state. How will you be able to defeat Liknud in this state of prostration? You will have to collect every ounce of strength you have left to complete the mission.
A tall man garbed entirely in black faces you as the smoke clears, his eyes burning in his unnaturally white face. Raising his arms, he calls out a short incantation and a stream of fire-bolts hurtles towards you. Sheathing your sword, you brandish the dagger of Telledus, and for the first time Liknud’s expression shows something like fear. As you approach, Liknud visibly shrinks in stature. He draws his sword, and you fight!


Another quest is starting! Once again your feet will trample unexplored lands, where fairy-tale creatures live, unexpected dangers lurk and ancient prophecies are fulfilled. Pafund, poet of the most sulphurous dungeon-synth music, maestro of the arcane melodies, is back with this epic album entitled "The Orchid of Life".


By pressing Play you will be plunged into an atmosphere of solemnity and mystery, you will be surrounded by magical fog, perhaps you will get lost in dense forests of unnatural colors and you will see things that you cannot describe in words. The 28-page illustrated booklet included in the "Orchid of Life" cassette will accompany you in your quest, making your experience more engaging and intense than ever!


Good luck!


released December 23, 2022

Other goodies from PAFUND here:


all rights reserved



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.

contact / help

Contact Heimat Der Katastrophe

Streaming and
Download help

Shipping and returns

Redeem code

Report this album or account

If you like HDK 128 † The orchid of life, you may also like: