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HDK 131 † HDK Dungeon​​​-​​​synth magazine # 9

by V.A.

“This victory will be your ruin, Lothar!”. These were the last words of the barbarian warrior Alasred, before he died. He had turned them mockingly at you and they kept echoing in your head like a dark omen. It had been a few hours since, leading an army of mercenary soldiers, you had crossed the most remote lands of the east and set fire to the remote town of Abarak. When the duke himself had entrusted you with this mission, you, Lothar the conqueror, felt down in the dumps: why should he send his best leader to that land of miserable people? Since childhood you had known the rumors about that city, on the edge of the known world: it seems that no one in the civilized world had ever had the ambition to conquer it. Guardian Alasred must have been a skilled swordsman, but you had heard of him for too many years, he must be old by now. You were sure that any well-equipped army could easily get the better of those barbarians of the remote eastern lands. It was the old priest of the cult of Gorm who warned you: “you should not fear the barbarians but the dark forces that dwell in the temple of the city!”. For you it was just superstition: in battle it is the weapons of men that kill, not rumors. Your army had raided the Bothar Gorge: the money to bribe the sentries had been well spent. The plan worked and your army was able to get to the city walls easily. Having opened a breach in the walls with the catapults, the blood began to flow profusely. The barbarians of Alasred fought with a sinister fury: badly armed and disorganized, they still managed to repel the attacks of your army. It was then that you joined the fray too, to motivate your men. You will never forget the gaze of those foreigners: even if wounded or unarmed, they did not flee, as if they feared something even more frightening than death. One of them, as you pierced him, looked you in the eye and, in the throes of death, whispered something to you. “Flee now!” you thought you understood. But the adrenaline in your body only ordered you to conquer the city and do away with this story. Now the whole city was littered with corpses and the smell of blood was nauseating. Alasred’s corpse lay on the temple steps in front of you. He had defended the entrance to the temple to the end. He was a seemingly young man. “Weird”, you think. Your sword is still dripping with blood. You begin to feel sick, as if in the grip of a strange fever. The city is now in your hands, but you need to make sure there are no other barbarians in the temple. “Go inside and search the building!” you order as you try to recover from that strange illness. The heartbreaking screams of your soldiers, coming from inside the temple, make you jump. It was as if someone or something was tearing them apart. In the throes of mad anger, three times you order your soldiers to enter. And three times a dozen soldiers, although terrified, cross the threshold of the temple and never come out again. In the end, you decide. You light a torch and walk through the threshold of the temple yourself. You show confidence but a strange fear arises inside you. You expect to encounter a terrible threat. Hold your sword firmly in a defensive position. Then, suddenly, you are hit by a blinding red light. And everything becomes dark. A few minutes later you come out of the temple, back into the sunlight. After an initial moment of uncertainty, some of your men greet you and come towards you. You, on the other hand, brutally tear them apart with your sword. To hell with the duke, to hell with everything. You would no longer obey any other human being. Now you had a far more important mission to accomplish and no one could ever distract you from this task. You would have forced your men to obey you by any means. None of them would ever go home again. “From now on, Lothar the conqueror no longer exists. For all of you I will be Alasred, the Guardian!” Like others before you, you would have remained until death guarding the threshold of the temple.
In this blood red dawn your destinies will be decided. You have lived through dark years in which the land of Kaltdrom was shaken by constant wars. The struggles between the different duchies, betrayals and infighting have brought death and destruction. You are tired of all this. Your sword has been in the service of Duke Yado Jirum, known as the “bladeheart”, for ten years. Since that day when you - a young son of simple farmers - were attacked in the woods by the thugs of that cruel local nobleman. They would have robbed and killed you. Yado - son of a duke - could not care and go straight, it was none of his business. But he didn’t. The sense of justice harbored strong in that man. He lashed out at the four bandits to save you, a simple plebeian boy. Maybe he had too much faith in his skill with the sword. He had killed three but the last one was strong. Yado had tripped and was injured by a blow to the leg. It was then that you recovered from the fright and launched yourself on the thug, saving the young noble. From that mutual rescue, your friendship was born. You learned how to use the sword. You joined his army. Yado was ambitious and wanted to conquer the lands that once belonged to his family. You trod the battlefield many times at the head of his chosen troops of knights. You sincerely wanted to help him make his dream come true. But watching it, you realized how difficult it must be to carry the weight of managing a kingdom in those. Diplomacy, strategy, leadership were needed. Enemies were everywhere and one had to watch one’s back. Surround yourself only with trusted friends. Yado knew how to recognize the qualities of men and dose words well. But he hasn’t always able to make the right choices: he made political mistakes and got a few too many enemies. The decline of his star was now looming on the horizon. What would you have done then? And now you are here, on Shakka Plain surrounded by dense forests and steep hills. Baron Gothmog’s army, large and well trained, is lined up before you. The blood would soon flow in torrents: they were twice as numerous and very well equipped. Yado is giving his speech before the battle. His words were always powerful and evocative. But this time his look - you know him well - betrayed a certain tension. Maybe he too is afraid. He knows it could be the end. But there is no time: the sound of the trumpets takes you back to your mission. With a cry you order your handful of knights to rush towards the enemy line. Let what needs to happen happen ... part 1 - Blood Red Dawn part 2 - An Innocent Boy part 3 - A Declining Star part 4 - The March To Destiny part 5 - Memoria
In the basement of Pharsis Castle, in the middle of the night, a sudden light had come on. Gudrun, the ancient androgynous deity of the time, had appeared in a cloud of reddish smoke in the alchemist Bohort’s study. The young man had fallen backwards, more from the fright of the sudden apparition, than from the blast. His experiment had succeeded and he was finally faced with the divinity of time. After a moment of bewilderment, the alchemist regained control over himself and stood up, leaning against a table full of bottles of strange substances and sheets of parchment. “Great Gudrun! I summoned you to reveal to me - and only to me on earth! - the secret of the origin of the world”. The deity, without making any sound, raised her left hand and extended it to Bohort. Frightened by the gesture, the alchemist backed away and, stumbling, fell backwards. His senses clouded over. He felt traveling... He was in an immense steppe, crossed by an enormous river of which he could hardly see the two opposite banks. The landscape was teeming with life: insects and frogs populated the shallow waters of the river, and large herds of huge bison-like mammals crisscrossed the dry lands, leaving furrows in the tall grass. The sun was high in the blue sky. Bohort flew swiftly through that landscape, as if at the mercy of the wind, which carried him further north. He felt he could perceive the presence of a wild, luxuriant, virgin nature. From above he could travel great distances in a short time. He saw the landscape change: immense forests populated by strange colored monkeys stretched as far as the eye could see. Then it was the turn of rugged mountains furrowed by rushing streams. Extraordinary spectacles that no man had ever been able to see from that perspective. There was no trace of humanoid creatures in this world so primitive and vital in his eyes. Then, returning to a plain hundreds of miles from the start of his journey, he saw something in the distance that caught his attention. There were stones laid to form a large rectangle, like the perimeter of a large building. Bohort approached, gliding near the strange building. “This is undoubtedly the work of intelligent creatures.” Having now reached the artifact, the alchemist realized that it was actually a building without a roof and almost entirely buried. Only the upper parts of the perimeter walls emerged. It must have been a sumptuous building but now eroded by the passing of the centuries. Suddenly Bohort started: he recognized a circular element in one of the two short sides of the building. He was familiar: he couldn’t be wrong. It was the rose window of the cathedral of Pharsis, his city. It was in ruins, as if millennia had passed, and was almost completely buried! “Oh mighty Gudrun, what devilry is this? I begged you to reveal the origin of the world, not to take me to a future where men are extinct!” “Little alchemist, time does not exist for us divinities. Nor does it exist for all living beings. It is only man who uses it. This is the essence of the world: to be without men. The catastrophe that awaits your race is imminent”. Bohort woke with a start. It was dawn and he was lying in his study of him. Had he dreamed? His head ached. No, the god’s last words still echoed in his ears, more vivid as ever. He had to warn the Grand Council, catastrophe - in whatever form - was to be imminent. Bohort rushed up the stairs ... The deities know how to be mocking: Gudrun had fulfilled the young alchemist’s request to the letter. But no one would believe him: only he, Bohort, of all men could have known the revelation of divinity. And indeed no one among men ever believed him: Bohort ended his days believed to be mad in a dungeon in the castle of Pharsis. And the catastrophe that extinguished all mankind, punctually, came a few years later. part 1 Alchemy by candlelight part 2 I came with purpose, I came to bear warning part 3 Worlds brought forth through arcane means
For hours we delved into this dark dungeon. Does King Gabriel’s treasure really exist? Perhaps the legend is just a popular rumour. Yet when we finally found the rock with the hieroglyphics in the woods and recited the spell on the parchment, all four of us believed it: the rock was sucked out of the ground with a solemn roar, an orange powder dissolved in the air and a sense of arcane magic made us think we were about to discover something great. The treasure must really exist... we had no more doubts! At first - exploring the irregular tunnels carved into the rock - we had only encountered humanoid scum, goblins, hobgoblins and bugbears. Nothing that made us suspect to be close to great quantities of gold. We were still in good condition: Goran was wounded but he was fine, he could still wield his sword with ease. Jinza had recovered perfectly, thanks to Pak’s healing magic. Yula instead had been hit in the shoulder by a nasty dart: she could still walk and cast her spells but it was better that she be well protected in the center of the line. Finally a ladder! The dungeon still descended and the walls had become finely polished with stone slabs. Unlit torches hung on the walls. This place must have been built centuries ago by someone who had many men and power. Our sense of danger became more acute, we knew we were close to something important. The displacer beast had been a formidable opponent. We were exhausted but we survived: that diabolical creature that disoriented our gaze had fled and we had lost track of her. Maybe we would have had to face it again, maybe it was guarding some treasure kept in these mysterious and austere corridors. We had found this strange ivory artifact, a kind of finely decorated noble coat of arms. It will certainly be worth some gold, but something told us that it could serve as a key to open some passage. And indeed, once in front of the grandiose portal, we had inserted the object into the niche and the portal had opened, opening up a grandiose spectacle in front of us. Gold. Expanses of gold as far as the eye can see. We couldn’t believe it. We stood astonished for a few seconds, staring at that glittering mass. We were as if hypnotized ... But suddenly a sinister rumble made us return to ourselves: a formidable blast of air made us stagger and an obscene stench made us sick to vomit. A hideous rotten dragon stood mighty in front of us: its skin was in tatters and bloody offal hung badly from its bones. Yet his eyes were alive and cold as ice! With a swift move the dragon leapt in front of us, ready to attack us with its cold and obscene breath. We ran back, terrified. We could never have defeated such a powerful and hideous creature. But perhaps - after the first moment of terror - we could steal some of its gold, just enough to make us rich until the next adventure.


Hello dungeoncrawlers!

Episode nine of HDK Dungeon Synth Magazine is finally here in your hands and within earshot. As we write these words we are in the middle of a monstrously torrid summer, the hottest and longest we can remember, at least here in Milan (Northern Italy). It seems to be in the prologue of one of those quests that speak of absurd natural phenomena, signs of a curse that involves the village where we, travelers in search of adventure, have ended up. A curse that we, heroes of a yet unwritten story, after a series of incredible adventures, thanks to our equipment and our spells, will be able to defeat, earning a lot of experience points.

But this - unfortunately - is not the beginning of an adventure but the harsh reality! And we fear that certain problems are not solved with a lucky roll of the dice. Time will tell!

Now let’s throw ourselves headlong into this new episode of HDK Dungeon Synth Magazine: let’s start with a big name in the DS scene, we’re talking about the great Frost Clad from Oregon with his brilliant “The Guardian of the Threshold”, a story that mixes battles and ambition, with a mocking ending. We continue with the music ensemble called Woods of Sith Cala from Germany and their “The Battle of Shakka”, which instead tells a tale of friendship and loyalty. Turning the side, we find Elminster from Michigan (USA) - known to the DS scene for his Ithildin Tape Production label - with his “Revelations of Gudrun”. The episode closes with the incredible Scrying Glass from Chicago (USA) with his extraordinary prog suite (!) entitled “Hall of the corpse dragon”: a perfect soundtrack for your creepy halloween!

Have a good listening!



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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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