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HDK 130 † HDK Dungeon​-​synth magazine # 8

by V.A.

A rumor has spread far North, near the village of Vardu overlooking the immense expanse of the Great Infinite Ice. Thirty years ago the villains killed a woman, throwing her into the freezing waters of Lake Omsk. The woman was named Eili and that night she drowned. She was a commoner, a servant at the house of Sigve, the local lord, and his wife Thelma. The strange thing is that, since then, the lake has remained permanently frozen, while in the past, during the short summer of the tundra, its waters melted. It had ever been possible to navigate for at least two months every year. Now, since that day, not anymore. A subtle uneasiness has spread among the inhabitants of Vardu, mixed with superstition, for those icy and mysterious expanses. But Lake Omsk is also a valuable source of food for the population. Fishermen walk the large frozen mirror and make small holes in the surface to drop their bait in the fishy waters that still flow under the frozen surface. Someone swears they saw Eili still stirring under the thick frozen surface. A few people say they saw her still alive, through the ice, watching them with a look full of hatred, so they fled in panic. But if someone has seen her once, there is no more escape: this explains some mysterious disappearances of the inhabitants of Vardu... Old Eskil is a native of those lands. Now that he is very old, he has promised to give you a lot of his money earned during his life as a trader. A large amount, which would be very convenient for you. But on one condition: free the village of Vardu from what he believes is a terrible curse of witchcraft origin. You’ll have to find out what neither you nor old Eskil still don’t know: it was Sigve who spread the rumors about Eili’s alleged witchcraft. The rough local lord had discovered that his bride Thelma and Eili were having an affair. The two women loved each other. He, blinded by her anger, has paid some villains to infame her with the accusation of witchcraft. He just wanted to push her away. But she resisted. And so, in that cursed night thirty years ago, everything went wrong and Eili was killed. Since then, her grudge makes the lake perpetually frozen and sometimes takes shape, stirring poignantly under the thick layer of ice.
You wake up on the cold floor of a large circular room. Some torches affixed to the wall dimly illuminate the environment you are in: the black stone walls are completely bare and rise for about ten meters before getting lost in the darkness. You have a big headache, but it is normal given the amount of mead you gulped at Xirmis’ Tavern overnight. Your memories about the night are a bit blurry, but it’s strange that you don’t have the faintest idea why you are in this unknown place, moreover without your trusty sword and... completely naked. As you try to figure it out, you realize that your left wrist hurts. When you look at it, you wince: someone has badly tattooed a skull with three orbits on your skin. What manner of trickery is this? You panic when you realize that the room you are in actually has no door, trap door, or passage. How is it possible: how did you get in there? There is only a staircase that runs along the walls and climbs upwards until it disappears into the darkness over your head. You have no choice: you take a torch off the wall and start climbing… The stairs are tall and uneven, and they wind infinitely upward to an unknown height. You continue climbing, taking one step at a time while occasionally pausing for gasps of stale air. You can hear water trickling from an unknown source. Wind seems to howl in the distance even though the air in here is unmoving. The ache in your head increases as you continue to climb. You look down to gain your bearing, but you can no longer see the torches burning below. You begin to wonder how long it’s been - hours? days? You have lost all sense of time in this strange place. Continuing on with hope now vanishing, you notice the staircase ahead of you seems to disappear into the black stonework ahead. ‘Is there no exit?’ you wonder as your breath quickens and your head throbs. These thoughts have been present for some time, but they’ve become more real now - maybe there is no way out. You scramble ahead and find that the stairs finally reach a zenith in the form of a small landing. You scramble quickly to the landing and take a deep breath - walking up a steep staircase alongside a bottomless pit rattled your nerves. You are here for the time being so you can rest and reassess your situation. You take a few moments to gather yourself, and as you do, you notice something above you: a trap door. The door is massive, hewn of the same black obsidian-like stone as the rest of the dungeon, but it has a strange quality to it. You see no handle, no knocker, no hinges; you only see a relief carving of the exact figure that is tattooed on your arm - the three orbits skull. You push up on the door and it doesn’t even budge - your climb has nearly exhausted you. You look at the door again - the image of the three eyed skull sparks something in you. You look at your wrist, which is still burning from the recent tattoo, and you decide to hold it up to the relief carving on the trap door. As you do, a light shines around the perimeter of the door, and you hear a grinding noise as the door opens downwards. On the other side are several rungs which you are able to grab onto and climb up. You find yourself in a short, small, square hallway that opens up into a slightly larger circular chamber, all made of the same cold black stone. While you look around this newfound section of this peculiar dungeon, the door shuts itself quietly and with ease. As you look around you notice this room branches off into three tight hallways, each barely big enough to fit a standing human. Glancing around, you notice something familiar gleaming on the floor. It’s your trusty sword, gifted to you by your beloved swordmaster. You bend down to pick it up, and under it you discover a torn note, which reads “... but will you ever escape yourself?”. As you near the entrances to the hallways, you are hit with a barrage of strange sensations. The hallway directly in front of you gives off a strong smell of decay and rotting flesh, and you swear you can hear something breathing heavily from the darkness beyond. The stonework inside is roughly hewn and jagged, and there is a faint greenish glow coming from beyond a quick bend. The hallway to the right yields another puzzling characteristic: the sound of rushing water and heavy falling stones; however, there is no light down this hall. It’s almost worth the risk, as you are beyond starving and thirsty, and your head is pounding harder than ever. But out of curiosity, you head over to the hallway on your left. Here, you feel an intense heat radiating from within, red fog pours out of its mouth, and you hear the heavy, slow footfalls of something deep within. You look back at the stone trapdoor you came through. It seems that there was never a door there at all - there is simply a solid black stone wall with a small carving on it that reads: MCMXCIX. You turn back around and reach for your sword. Panicking once again, you look at the three tunnels that lie ahead. As you decide your fate, one final thought occurs to you - this room is laid out like your three orbits skull tattoo. What does this symbol mean? Is there a way out, or are you destined for certain doom? For now, pick your course, and keep your sword at the ready. As you embark down your chosen path, you look back one last time, only to see something unsettling - the numbers carved into the wall begin to change: MCMXCIX to simply MM. A deep growl erupts from within. Will you ever escape… ?
The battle had raged for a whole day but in the end you were able to conquer the stronghold of the feudal lord Gurth. That rogue would have paid for his cruelty: faithful servant of the king, one day he went mad and had an entire village exterminated, burning and hanging the inhabitants. His sudden madness had overwhelmed you personally, with sadistic ruthlessness: the day after the massacre, on a cold winter morning, you received the head of your beloved Eleonora in a casket. You cried and screamed. And swore revenge. You would have liked killing him with your sword, that vile man, even though your king had ordered you to catch him alive. The sovereign wanted to understand the reason for that crazy gesture. But you were blinded by your thirst for revenge and you only wanted his blood. Entering the fortress and irrupting as first in the Council Chamber, you saw him flee into a secret trap door, after giving the order to his special legion to attack you and your fellow soldiers. Gurth’s Special Legion was famous for its brutality in battle. There were only about twenty of them, but they fought like furious berserkers. You had guessed that their nature was not meant to be human. They must have been undead warriors, kept alive by a sort of dark spell. They fought animated by a sinister fanaticism. Their eyes had nothing human in them: they were devoid of pupils and their skin was white and diseased. You and your men soon surrounded them. The fight had been bloody: those twenty mad fanatics never seemed to die. The sumptuous floor of the hall was now soaked with blood and shattered corpses. Those crazy creatures had fought to the death, without any fear or remorse, never giving the idea of giving up. Still in the throes of the adrenaline of the fight, you had examined the trapdoor from which Gurth had escaped. It led into a deep, humid dungeon. “Search the fortress, that rogue must not escape us!” you ordered. Together with a dozen of your fellow soldiers, you cautiously lowered yourself into the labyrinth of underground corridors, guided by the dim light of the torches. You had to stay alert, that devil had probably set death traps to cover his escape. The underground labyrinth was very large and full of bifurcations. The exploration continued but not even a shadow of Gurth. Until you arrived in a sumptuous room, a sort of underground crypt lit by braziers that emitted a bluish light. Gurth was standing under a great vault. The feudal lord had a sure look of himself, it seemed that he was waiting for you. He was not in the attitude of a man on the run. You were about to throw your sword at him when suddenly two figures appeared from behind two columns. They had something familiar but at the same time disturbing. You recognized them and you were stuck. You started sweating cold. The first figure was your king; you could hardly identify him because he had the same bluish skin and pupilless eyes as Gurth’s elite guards. But it was certainly him. However you recognized the other figure immediately, even if she was horribly beheaded. Eleonora, in her green dress that you knew well, was standing. Headless, but alive. It was her. “What... what devilry is this?” you stammered disoriented. The king spoke: “Simeon, my faithful squire, do not fear. This new state of existence has opened for me the doors of boundless knowledge, which ordinary mortal men cannot even imagine. Join us, lay down the sword and allow me to give you new unimaginable powers”. You hesitated, seeking the gaze of your men. “Simeon, my beloved” Eleonora said. Her voice came from who knows where. “Listen to your king and agree to our reunion”. Her body – beautiful but hideously mutilated from her head – was closing in on you. She wanted to hug you. Gurth looked you straight into your eyes with all his cruelty. He was pleased by your fear, your disorientation, your pain.
The storm twists the branches above you. Darkness encroaches the woods, despite the early hour. Your trembling hand raises Sadhbh’s Conjuration Sword. You have not even spoken those accursed words yet, but it seems the wind is carrying them already - like an echo hurled back in time. You barely open your lips, press the spell cowardly from your throat. You feel watched. Are those shadows moving? Is beautiful Sadbhb nearby, watching you lift her sword? An unseen force pulls the blade out of your fingers. It floats in the air - emitting purpleness. You panic and turn, cower, crawl through the underwood, leave the levitating sword behind. Thorny vines rip your cape, bruise your face. Darkness finally gives away to the lowering sun as you stumble out of the forest and reach the plains. Sunbeams break through scattered clouds on the horizon. You stagger on the trail leading back to the inn - the inn that you hate. For now you feel relieved to have escaped. The nearer you get, the more you regret. This damned inn, its patron and regulars are the source of all your misery. You hear their laughter and moronic music even outside. You won’t return there now! Instead you force the gate to the wine cellar open and sneak down its winding stairs. They feel longer than ever before. Your torch throws bizarre shadows. You seek solitude, but hear an unexpected longing whisper at the end of the tunnel, spot enticing contours! Ripe Sadhbh herself is arching her back there. You step closer, try to focus on her lips. Words? Her slender fingers pull you in. Has she no hard feelings towards you? She gently bites your lips. Her embrace, her sighs. Moments, hours? She writhes, she screams. Is this not pleasure any longer? This squeal! Beautiful Sadbhb scatters you across the wet, wet floor, stretches your skin along the blood drenched walls, pounds your ripping limbs and breaking bones to the ceiling. You are the tunnel now, a portal, a bone blade dripping purple shadows in the woods. Deathless joy.


Hello dungeoncrawlers!

The usual appointment with your favorite cassette magazine (the only one, right?) is now at the eighth chapter. We are really happy that many big names in the dungeon synth scene are asking us to take part into this project. HDK is a label that tries to give strength to ideas, not names or individual glory, however we are honoured to have some old acquaintance of the dungeon synth scene on these pages. It means that HDK DS Magazine has entered the heart of all of you: this is the most important thing for us!

In this summer issue you can enter the mysterious icy sound of Örnatorpet which with “The frozen lake” gives us a classic essay of his unmistakable style. The catacombal composer called Ozeregroth takes us to doom/black territories with a classic dungeon crawl named “Three orbits skull”. Changing the side of the cassette, we have the Greek Rhodian with an essay of ambient music with “The vault of evil”. In the end we find Nirgendsmeer with “Sadhbh’s sword sighs” that takes us into chiptune environment with a soundtrack that would look good in some level of “Ghouls’n’ghost”.

Happy listening and see you next time!

Support artists here!


released July 14, 2022

ⒽⒹⓀ dungeon-synth magazine vol. 8
Published in July 2022
by Heimat der Katastrophe, Milano, Italy

Cassette cover art by Eugene JAWORSKI

Mini-book art by Carlos CASTILHO




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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