Bal Sagoth

Battle Magic tracks

Lyrics

1. BATTLE MAGIC

Sorcerers and shamans, weave your spells of war,
Ensure our mighty sword-arms are the strongest and the quickest.
Entwine us with great battle magic 'til we stand knee-deep in gore,
And by all the gods, we'll ride to where the fray rages the thickest!

The war-song of the Wolves of Caylen-Tor,
as heard at the Battle of Blackhelm Vale.




2. NAKED STEEL (The Warrior's Saga)

[Legends etched into the ancient stone dolmens on the Dark Moors...]

[THE ORACLE OF WAR:]
The crows will pick your bones clean...
Never sweet the kiss of cold steel.

THE EXULTATION OF BATTLE...

[THE WARRIOR:]
Blades aflame with witch-fire burning,
Bright swords blessed by nine king's blood,
The elf-witch weaves war-spells upon us,
Neath the wolf-moon's gaze we shall slake our steel!

[THE WARRIOR:] Battle Magic empowers my thews!
[THE ORACLE OF WAR:] The crows will pick your bones clean...
[THE WARRIOR:] Red-Tooth thirsts to smite and slaughter!
[THE ORACLE OF WAR:] Never sweet the kiss of cold steel...

[THE SHAMAN'S DECREE:]
Born beneath the thrice-cursed cromlech (destined for deeds of greatness),
Three stars aligned to assauge thine newborn cries, Foretold, the hilt of
Red-Tooth awaits thine hand (kingdoms shall fall before thee!), And in the
Nine Scrolls thine death prophesized.

[THE WARRIOR:]
The clarion of battle beckons me... Red-Tooth crackles with searing spectral
energy. Aye, emperors and kings shall perish beneath my blade! The head of the
Eastern Chieftan adorns my spear... I've a throne to usurp! INTO THE THICK OF
THE FRAY!

[THE SHAMAN'S DECREE:]
This heart that pounds like a hammer,
This heart that pounds so strong,
This heart that pumps a great warrior's blood,
This heart will pound for half as long.

[THE WARRIOR'S VOW:]
By all the gods... I swear the ireful edge of dwarf-forged steel shall meet
all who dare stand against me! My destiny awaits... I shall carve my path in
carnage, and inscribe my saga upon the scrolls of legendry in the spilled
blood of slaughtered kings!

[THE ORACLE OF WAR:] Carnage! And the crows shall feast upon the eyes of the
slain!

The final dolmen of the Dark Moors is mysteriously missing, believed removed
thousands of years ago by troll war-bands as a trophy of battle...




3. A TALE FROM THE DEEP WOODS

The ravens are on the wing!

My scramasax is red (stained with the blood of many Mercian warriors),
The ravens are on the wing,
By Offa's decree I am an outlaw,
Branded wolfshead by my own king.
(The orm-garth awaits me, darkly astir with ophidian malice...)

The ravens are on the wing!

Ash for our spear-hafts,
Yew for our bow-staves,
Oak for our deck planks,
Oak and elder our shields.

Hail, o' great liege of the ancient woods, ruler of the deepest forest... you,
who were reigning o'er your time-veiled kingdom centuries before the arrogant
men who proclaim themselves kings of this island ever supped of life's
bitter-sweet draught...

I give you my hail,
I give you my blood,
I give you my life,
O' sylvan liege.

My life bleeds forth unto the earth (from many deep and dire wounds), To slake
your roots, great old king... (as I rest my battle-ravaged body against
thee.)

The ravens are on the wing!

Ten leagues ride on lathered steed,
Gold in hand to a sword-for-hire,
A blood-eagle carved by Saxon steel,
And two score slain earns royal ire.

Gwynned lies two days westwards,
Still further south, the weregeld calls.
Mayhap with All-Father Woden's favour,
My deeds may yet inspire the skalds.

Litha's moon gleams high o'er the tallest oak,
Ancient king in this sylvan court of elm, ash and yew,
The wood-spirits watch from gnarled bough and bole,
As I pull two Mercian shafts from my bloodied thews.

The ravens are on the wing!

I give you my hail,
I give you my blood,
I give you my life,
O' sylvan liege.

Beneath the oak, I rest, bone weary,
Thirsting for a horn of ale or jug of mead,
And yet how could a heathen man wish for any more,
Than the healing balms of English trees?

The ravens are on the wing!




4. RETURN TO THE PRAESIDIUM OF YS

I was spawned deep beneath the Pre-Cambrian sea, the scion of a far distant
sun... I have traversed the endless stars, and journeyed to a myriad
galaxies... The dimensional gates of the multiverse are mine to voyage
effortlessly beyond, Cosmic infinity is naught to one such as I... I am as one
with celestial eternity... Clad in gleaming pentlandite armour, on a whim I
may reshape entire worlds, Or extinguish the blazing light of a sun... and I
remain forever enchanted by sylphs...

I have seen demons lick your ivory hands,
And watched you ride naked upon the backs of fire-dragons...
Your eyes sparkle clear as hoar-frost,
And yet they are thrice as devoid of warmth.

Wielding this power cosmic, the omniverse is mine to conquer!
Our progency shall rule the very cosmos itself!

Arcane power lances from my fingertips,
Life withers before my baleful gaze.
The proud citadels of great antediluvian empires
Have been razed to the ground by my zircon blade.

Your invocations unleashed the great worm
Which compelled the devouring seas to Atlantis...
Riding the screaming crest of fettered lons,
I shall bring my crystalline chaos where order reigns!

Return with me... beyond the stars...
Rule with me... a thousand worlds...

The Galactic Nexus has empowered me (I am gloriously, eternally omnipotent!)
And as a god I shall return to the Praesidium of Ys!




5. CRYSTAL SHARDS

I stand engulfed by the moon-magic of a winter eve's dream,
Enraptured by bloodlust, and nine fire-gems ablaze,
I am beckoned by sylph-spells and the jewelled sword a'gleam,
As the great war-fleet of Ys sails the crystalline waves.




6. THE SPLENDOUR OF A THOUSAND SWORDS GLEAMING BENEATH THE BLAZON OF THE HYPERBOREAN EMPIRE (Part II: The Dark Liege Of Chaos Is Unleashed At The Ensorcelled Shrine Of A'zura-Kai)

[ALTARUS:] You must learn to control your spirit-form, Xerxes... for by
mastering the art of traversing the mists you may effortlessly travel to many
places, and many times. Countless secrets will be unlocked for you, and great
enlightenment shall be yours.

[XERXES:] Yes, master... and yet, there is one realm which intrigues me above
all others, one era which occupies my thoughts unceasingly... What of the
clash between the Royal Army of Hyperborea and the Wraiths of the Chaos-Liege?

[ALTARUS:] Ah, yes... command the mists, Xerxes... gaze into their limitless
depths... compel them to show you that martial vista which you so fervently
seek.

[XERXES:] Yes... I see the massing forces, the battle is imminent! How splendid
the Imperial Army looks as it fronts the foe... into the fray they ride!

[Chapter 1: The Bloodying of the King]
[(The Armies of the Hyperborean Empire steadfastly engage the Horde of Wraiths)]

[THE KING:]
Imperial Cavalry... advance! RIDE THEM DOWN!
In to the fray! Demonstrate unforgettably the art of Hyperborean warcraft!
Spearmen, form into Omega Phalanx.
Archers, notch arrows, prepare to loose.
Warriors, stand ready... Sound the clarion!

Hearken, sons of the glorious Empire...
Here we stand upon the Field of Blood...
Though this day we may die,
Our legend shall live forever.

[ALTARUS:] And the armies met upon the Field of Blood which stretched lifeless
before the aeon-veiled citadel which men called the Shrine of A'zura-Kai, a
mysterious and foreboding place steeped in ireful omens and legendary dread...
Aye, the carnage of that first clash was phenomenal. The Hyperborean Cavalry
tore gloriously into the foremost rank of the shadow-warriors, the enchantment
of the Crystal of Mera rendering the squamous pseudo-flesh of the wraiths
fully vulnerable to the steel of the royal legions. The king himself rode at
the forefront of the onslaught, his ensorcelled ebon blade hewing ten to the
left and cleaving ten to the right, his grim eyes gleaming beneath his
shimmering horned and plumed helm. The momentum of that first charge threw the
dark ones into shrieking disarray, and the vanguard of Chaos fell back before
the thundering resolve of the Imperial attack. But the baleful, poisoned
blades of the wraiths took their toll upon the Hyperborean horsemen. Raught by
leprous swords and spears, men and mounts fell screaming to the dusty earth,
where they were mercilessly rent and devoured by the slavering jaws of the
Chaos-Liege's minions. Aye, glorious was the courage of the royal warriors,
admirable was their mettle... for every Imperial Knight felled by the dark
ones, five wraiths met their deaths beneath the slaughterfall of royal steel.
And yet it was not enough. Like a slithering tide, the shadows engulfed the
cavalry, and the bloodied king ordered the Hyperboreans to ride clear and
regroup. Then, with volleys of shafts as their herald, and the Battle-Prayer
of Hyperborea upon their lips, the Imperial Guard marched into the ravening
embrace of the melee, and never in the grim and sanguineous history of battle
was there a clash to rival the slaughterous magnitude of that awesome
engagement...

[THE ARCH-WRAITH:]
Minions of Chaos, rend their flesh, crush their bones, devour their souls!

[Chapter 2: Havoc at the Shrine of A'zura-Kai]

[THE KING:]
Onwards with our spear-heads gleaming,
Meet them with cold steel a'cleaving,
Fall only when our hearts cease beating,
Men of Hyperborea.

[ALTARUS:] At the King's command, the clarion was sounded to move the
battle-hardened veterans of the Seventh Fen-lander Army into a flanking
position to unite with the remnants of the Royal Cavalry. Like a purifying
storm the allied Imperial forces clove into the wraiths to deal righteous
pattern-welded death unto their nighted foe. But at that moment, black terror
descended screaming from the twilight sky... howling swarms of winged fiends,
hurled forth from the malignant bosom of Lord Angsaar, soared razor-taloned
into the fray. Beseiged man-to-fiend upon the field, and harried from above by
the shrieking horrors of the Chaos-Liege, the Hyperborean Army began to
falter, and to fall. And lo, beholding the carnage, the King raised high in
his left hand the ancient Crystal of Mera, and in his right gauntlet he
brandished the Bane of Angsaar, the dread Shadow-Sword once wielded by the
Chaos-Liege's immortal nemesis... and he spoke aloud the terror-fraught and
aeon-swathed words of invocation which he alone had been audience to deep
within the shadow-haunted Mountains of the Dead...

[THE KING:]
By the darkling powers of the Shadow-Sword, I call forth the fury of the storm
to rend the massed legions of Chaos!

[ALTARUS:] And at the sound of his baleful Words of Power, the sky split wide in
fury, and searing tendrils of ruinous lightning lanced inexorably forth from
the heavens to rake and reave the massed hordes of Chaos...

[XERXES:] The fearful spells he had learned from the Mountain... did their
casting win the battle for the King's legions?

[ALTARUS:] The fiends were dealt a staggering blow by the sorcerous
incantations, the power of the spells inexplicably magnified by the
enchantments of the Crystal. The Wraiths were routed soundly by the elder
magics, fleeing the field howling their anathemas and maledictions against the
King, and the winged horrors fell seared and burning from the enraged sky. But
the twisted machinations of insidious Chaos had prepared for the King one
final blow in this dread confrontation... aye, the Chaos-Liege had reserved
his most heinous perpetration 'til the last...

[Chapter 3: The Awakening of Chaos]

[LORD ANGSAAR:]
Fly, my winged sentinel of the night,
Deliver unto me the Ninth Crystal of Power,
That I may at last be free once more...

Come then, mortal! Test that cursed blade of black steel against me if you
dare! O' great king, your pitiful army shall be swept away before my wrath!
'Ere the dawn, ten thousand shall die!

[THE KING:]
For the eternal glory of Hyperborea!

[ALTARUS:] Striking from the swift darkening sky, Angsaar's Arch-Wraith, which
had been watching the battle with gleaming inhuman eyes, leaped to the attack
and smote the King, engulfing him in its ebon wings and driving its
steel-rending talons into his golden armour. And yet it was not the life of
the Royal Scion of Hyperborea which the fiend sought to take on that fateful
eve, but rather that which the King held tight in his gauntleted fist... the
Crystal of Mera. Wrenching the glimmering antediluvian jewel from its keeper,
the Arch-Wraith unfurled its leathern wings and soared into the deepening
gloom with a cacophonous cackle of victory, leaving the King to roar his ire
after the fleeing wraith.

[XERXES:] But what did Angsaar want of the Crystal? I know he battled his
immortal nemesis over possession of the mystic gems many aeons ago... but what
use would just one of the jewels be to him?

[ALTARUS:] After rising from his Chamber of Slumber, the Chaos-Liege's power was
direly depleted... and he was unable to venture beyond the obsidian walls of
his Citadel of Shadows, being compelled to control his wraiths and fiends to
undertake his diseased schemes on his behalf. When he ascertained that the
wizards of the Royal Court of Hyperborea held in their possession the Ninth
Jewel of the Galactic Confederation of Mera, the most powerful of all the
crystalline keys to the Psionic Epsilon Matrix, he began to formulate an
elaborate scheme which would gain him the gem and facilitate his liberation,
sundering his fetters and allowing him free reign to spread his vile influence
across the land once more. Utilizing to its fullest extent the dark art of
sorcerous mind-control. Angsaar succeeded in placing spies and traitors within
the King's Court, and thus set into motion a dark chain of events
treacherously crafted to bring the Armies of Hyperborea to battle at one
carefully predetermined place... the Shrine of A'zura-Kai... an ancient
citadel built over the site where, many thousands of years ago, one of the
Galactic Confederation's galaxy-spanning star-chariots was cast forcibly to
earth by the tempestuous skies of a powerful cosmic witch-storm... a place
where resultantly, the star-born energies of the Prime Crystal would be
magnified tenfold, if wielded in unison with the correct arcane incantations
which Angstaar alone knew...

[XERXES:] Then the battle, the defeat of the wraiths, all that had been merely a
ruse... a scheme implemented by the Chaos-Liege merely to realize his ultimate
ambition of the sundering of the mystic shackles?

[ALTARUS:] Aye... the Shrine would act as a portal, a gateway opened by the
power of the Crystal, a yawning aperture in the dimensional barrier through
which Angsaar could escape the incarceration of his Citadel at last. And as
the Arch-Wraith soared the night-winds on its return journey to its malign
master, the Prime Crystal clutched in its bloodied claws, the King knew as he
watched the Shrine of A'zura-Kai begin to glow with a great and ominous
sidereal luminescence, that he had on that battle-fraught eve defeated one
dreadful menace on the Field of Blood only to unleash an infinitely more
terrifying foe... But the Chaos-Liege had reckoned without the power of the
one thing he feared the most... the one thing which had the merest glimmering
hope of thwarting his dread scheme and restoring order to glorious
Hyperborea...

[XERXES:] Yes, the only chance... the last hope for victory...

[ALTARUS:] The Shadow-Sword. Evident once more was the fearsome
extra-dimensional intelligence linking the sword and the gem, the same
crystalline sentience which had guided the King to the mountainous resting
place of the ebon blade, and had shielded the presence of the sorcerous
immortal weapon from the dark one until it had been brought into play upon the
field of battle, that magical link placed within the Ninth Gem by the Immortal
if ever again the power of the Shadow-Sword should be needed to bring to bear
against Chaos! And with the Arch-Wraith disappearing into the massing dark,
that yard of fearsome black steel spoke once more to the King in the same long
dead tongue it had burned upon his mind deep within the Mountains of the Dead,
the essence of the Immortal mystically encased within the blade instructing
the Scion of Hyperborea to commit himself to one final, cataclysmic deed... a
deed which would end the aspirations of the Chaos-Liege forever, or plunge
Hyperborea and the kingdoms of the world into an endless abyss of eternal
suffering and a ravening maelstrom of limitless carnage and galactic terror...

[XERXES:] What was that deed? What could stop the Chaos-Liege? I must know the
outcome of this confrontation!

[ALTARUS:] The vista begins to darken... the mists once again weave their spell
to withold their timelost secrets. Practice your art, Xerxes... hone your
skills, and the final outcome of this epic tale shall soon be made known to
you...




7. WHEN RIDES THE SCION OF THE STORMS

[Dover, England: September 1594 (the recollections of a war-weary mariner)]

Hearken boy; for I would tell thee a tale before we set sail for the Bay of
Biscay on the morrow. I was not always called by this name, you know... To
you, I am Caleb Blackthorne, battle-scarred master of an English galleon,
survivor of a score of sea-fights, cheater of the notched blades of many an
over ambitious Spanish pirate... the Scourge of Medina Sedonia! But to many
others over the countless centuries since my first birth, I have been known by
a host of other names... so many that even I begin to forget all but the ones
distinguished by the most vivid deeds... for I hide a wondrous secret, boy...
a secret some would call a blessing, but which others would deem a grim curse.
Aye, it all began a very long time ago...

Memories of death and life...

For countless thousands of centuries I have walked the earth...
I have seen endless battle,
And untold centuries of slaughter.

I am reborn once more!
The same grim spirit once again given flesh...
O' to be ravished by the seductress death...

[The Scion of the Storms:]
Dethroned 'ere Atlantis fell, haunted by a dark queen's curse,
My son's soul shackled by this spell of endless death and grim rebirth.
Fly, o' skyborne steed of Lyonesse, ride the tempest's wings,
I am the scion of the vengeful skies, a god to warriors and kings!

[Reflections on lifetimes of carnage:]

I have been slain by Roman gladius,
And by Norman spear dealt a mortal wound,
The threads of my ensorcelled destiny
Endlessly woven on some unknown cosmic loom.
I have lost my life to longbow shafts
Fighting for the English crown,
And mayhap I'll end this mariner's life
A good three score fathoms down!

I marched with vast armies 'ere gleaming Atlantis sank beneath the waves...
I reddened my blade against Caesar's legions long ago...
I stood beside Boudicca at Colchester...
I dealt honed steel death from the ranks of Arthur Pendragon...
I slew and looted gloriously at Lindisfarne...
I slaked my scramasax at Maldon...
I crossed blades with Brian Boru at Clontarf...
I slaughtered left and right with Harold at Hastings...
I dispatched Norman swordsmen with Robin of Loxley...
I wielded a Claymore at Stirling Bridge...
I was in the thick of the fray beside Henry at Agincourt...
I spilled blood for the White Rose at Bosworth Field...
I captained a galleon against the great Armada of Philip II...

I have witnessed the rise of corrupt religions, but my heathen blade was red
countless centuries before their flaccid laws were ever carved in stone.

They call me the Scourge of Medina Sedonia... my ship sails at dawn, and may
our English steel ring gloriously against the cutlasses of the outlander
pirates!

Aye boy, it is a strange tale indeed. I know not why I am destined to live and
die in this way, my soul moving from life to life, ever dying and being again
reborn, with every memory of my past incarnations intact. A whim of the gods?
An ancient sorcerous spell? Some cruel machination of fate, mayhap? Or is it
all for some mysterious, greater purpose? Sometimes I feel the gaze of inhuman
eyes upon me, and fragments of some past existence which I cannot wholly
recall flash before my mind's eye. And time and time again I know precisely
when I am to die in the fray, for always 'ere the fatal blow is struck, I see
him... grim and noble astride his great winged steed, gleaming spear crackling
in his grasp, beckoning me onwards to the next life... to ever more slaughter
and carnage... Yes, adour and brooding spirit he is, and in his burning eyes I
see a great secret which I must discover, a powerful mystery I alone must
solve. I cannot speculate as to what strange destiny the fate! s ! have
written for me in the stars... but the gods have decreed that this is the path
I must follow, and I am sure that my adventures are far from over...




8. BLOOD SLAKES THE SAND AT THE CIRCUS MAXIMUS

[Thoughts of an Iceni gladiator, awaiting the opening of the arena portcullis:]

[Memories of rebellion (Carnage at Camulodunum):]

[Iceni Messenger:] Hearken! The Ninth Legion has been put to the sword! The
war-Chief of Queen Boudicca: Onwards to Camulodunum... wet your swords!
Redden the earth with Roman blood!

I remember the carnage at Camulodunum...
The glorious clash of Celtic sword against Roman gladius,
The pride in the eyes of our war-queen
As we hacked down the Imperial Eagle,
And the severed heads of centurions gaping atop our spears.

[Bloodshed and Battle: 61 AD (C.E.)]

They had gone too far, these invaders from the east, with their imperial eagle
which they dared to drive into our sacred soil... pompously claiming our
island as their own. They who marched across the world expanding their empire
all for the greater glory of their succession of debauched emperors, reclining
upon their ivory thrones in the heart of sweltering Rome. Aye, they had gone
too far... After their brutal annexation of our sovereign Iceni lands and the
vile rape of our Queen Boudicca's royal daughters, the Romans had the sown the
fields of carnage and they would reap a grim harvest of slaughter, without
doubt! They had enraged the Red Queen, and by the gods, they would pay!
We certainly taught the arrogant invading dogs a lesson, at any rate. The
omens and portents spoke of vast bloodshed and great carnage, and after our
slaughterous victories at Camulodunum (the Temple of Claudius burned
wonderfully!), Londinium and Verulanium, the cursed Romans finally dared to
meet us honourably upon the field of war at Mandeussedum. They sent fifteen
thousand legionaires, their armour gleaming like gold in the sun... but it
would still yield to our swords and spears, no matter how it sparkled.
The Roman scoundrel, Governor Suetonius Paullinus, battle-scarred from his
campaigns against the Druids, was able to choose the ground upon which to make
his stand, and so it was that he selected as the battlefield a narrow valley,
fronted by a flat plain, with dense woodland at its rear. Aye... Mandeussedum,
"the place of the chariots"... I remember it vividly.
The Governor's army looked unnerved as wee took the field. I'll never forget
that, iron Roman fortitude or not! We were one hundred thousand strong,
infantry and cavalry, both men and women warriors, as is our Celtic custom, in
the ranks together, all annointed with woad, all roaring oaths and vows to our
ancient gods, who were surely grimly watching the epic confrontation from
their great thrones and vast halls. Our war-chariots thundered up and down the
Roman front, the charioteers screaming abuse at the grim legionaires,
decurions and centurions, and hurling spears and other missiles which
clattered against the Imperial shield wall. And not one Roman javelin or pilum
was hurled in response, not one arrow was loosed in retaliation. They were
disciplined, I'll give them that. We were swelled by our victories, empowered
by our noble cause, enraged with the battle frenzy; thirsting to take as many
Roman heads as our bright blades could sever!
And yet we were perhaps somewhat overconfident that day...

[Abducted from the Iceni:]

In the aftermath of our defeat at Mandeussedum, I was captured by Romans with
a veiled intent... (though three of them died at my hands in the attempt!)
Nero was growing bored with the gladiators, slaves and lion-fodder at his
great Circus, and so had requested Suetonius Paullinus to provide the citizens
of Rome with new entertainment... The Emperor had heard much of the wildness
and fighting spirit of these barbaric Britons who had brought such woe to his
far-famed legions; these painted, pagan tribesmen who had resisted the
Empire's iron fist where the glorious phalanxes of the East had not.
"Agents of the Imperium... hearken to my words", Nero had demanded. "Bring to
Rome some of these tribesman for the Games. Let us pit them against our most
ravenous beasts and our greatest gladitorial champions."
And so I was taken in fetters aboard a Roman trireme, the blood of slain
legionaires still crusted upon my thews, I was taken far from the fens of my
beloved homeland, to tread the sun baked sand of the Circus Maximus... to
fight for my life in the Imperial Arena.

[Arrival at the Circus Maximus:]

The Circus Maximus was certainly a splendid sight, I'll admit. A vast
colosseum with great stone columns and tiers, huge ornate arches and mighty
statues of grey marble. Countless people filled the seats surrounding the
sandy floor of the Arena... and in his opulent royal enclosure, flanked by
gleaming guards and grovelling lackeys, sat the great Emperor himself...

[Emperor Nero:] Fight, barbarian outlander! Please us, and mayhap Mars will
smile on thee this day!

[Iceni warrior:] Bah! I do not hail to your Roman gods, and you are not my
emperor! By Cernunnos, the blood of my enemies shall stain the sand of this
cursed arena red this day!

[The Combat Commences:]

They unleashed the lions first. Hunger maddened beasts, goaded into a frenzy
by the cruel point of many a pilum... And yet my own hunger, the hunger for
revenge, was greater, and my honed steel was sharper than bestial fang and
claw. And so they ranged their finest warriors against me. Three more iron
gates around the arena yawned open, and they strode from the colosseum tunnels
amidst a cacophony of cheering from the assembled Roman spectators, urged on
and showered with martial adulation from the massed arena crowd, who howled
their bloodlust without cessation.
I studied my opponents... there were two trained gladiators, champions I was
told, who had never met defeat in the Games... and then there was another like
me, a captured warrior forced to fight for his life. This one was a towering
reaver from the Northlands with a bright yellow beard, hefting a crude axe
with a single iron head. I lifted my iron bladed Celtic shortsword with its
bronze hilt (the same sword which, mere days before, had been slaked with
Roman blood... and its blade would soon be red once more with the blood of my
captors, by all the gods!) and nodded to the reaver. An understanding passed
between us... we knew we were here simply as sword-fodder, and we knew we
would both fight these Roman dogs to the death!
The first gladiator moved towards me; he was a giant of a man, standing nearly
seven feet tall and clad in dark leather and bronze armour from head to toe.
His full-face visored helmet was set with ornate metal fittings and encrusted
with jewels of various hues, and a vast black horse hair plume rose from the
metal crown. Strapped on to his forearms were two black vambraces, to each of
which had been secured twelwe inch serrated blades, and they gleamed brightly
in the hot afternoon sunlight. He began to circle me slowly, his eyes hidden
beneath his great helmet. To his left, I saw the second gladiator begin to
close on the Northman. The yellow-bearded axeman's opponent was a huge
steel-helmeted Nubian, wielding a wickedly pointed trident and carrying an
embossed iron buckler with a great spike jutting from its polished centre.
Far above, upon his great dias, the Emperor gave the signal for the combat to
begin, and with the battle-lust engulfing me, with the red mist swirling
before my eyes, I vowed to my northern gods that I would show these leering
Romans the fighting spirit and battle prowess of my people... I would leave
the arena littered with the bloody corpses of my opponents...
I would cast off the imperial fetters and return to the fens! Aye, I would
escape, and make all Romans fear my name, and compel Nero to rue the day
Julius Caesar had first ordered his legions across the grim grey sea to my
ancient island... BLOOD FOR BOUDICCA... CARNAGE FOR CERNUNNOS!!

To be continued...




9. THWARTED BY THE DARK (Blade Of The Vampyre Hunter)

[The contemplations of Joachim Blokk:]

As my sword drips black now with the unclean blood of another slain fiend, it
occurs to me that history will most probably record me a fanatic... as for
more years than I care to remember I have dedicated my life to the caseless
pursuit and destruction of the loathsome undead. Indeed, it was long ago that
I commenced with the wreaking of my grim vengeance upon the denizens of the
dark, and by the blade of my sorcerous katana, Fiend's Bane, I vow they shall
all pay for taking my beloved from me! Fanatic? Mayhap. But by all the gods of
vengeance, I'll leave a fearsome legacy 'ere I die... a legacy wrought in
retributive bloodshed and screaming terror!

Drowned in the icy lake of tragedy,
Forged in the fires of revenge,
Driven by the winds which compel a man to destiny,
Haunted by the whispers of the dead.

Blood is black in the moonlight
As it was when I pierced the heart of my betrothed,
Blood is black in the moonlight,
Her undead gaze gleaming ire upon me.
Blood is black in the moonlight
I held aloft her head to my grim gods,
Blood is black in the moonlight
(Now I am eternally bonded to my blade)
And ever I am thwarted by the dark!

Gods of wrath, hear my vow... sate me with revenge this night!
Come to me, darksome fiends, taste the edge of ensorcelled steel!
Night has fallen, the hunt begins...
Vengeful carnage 'neath the moon!

And as I put brand to her pyre, I swore then to my gods that those vile
creatures who tore the life and hope from my beloved's breast and replaced it
with that unspeakable sanguineous ravening would repay a hundredfold in
slaughter and bloodshed for their misdeed... I would hunt them to their
worm-ridden tombs, wherever they crept or slithered upon the earth, and wreak
my honed steel revenge ceaselessly unto my own grave. Such was my vow!

Aye, this bride of Masayuki steel, ensorcelled by wizards at its forging... to
me she is as pure as the newly fallen snow, kissed by the breeze at dusk...
and yet she has supped deep of the ichors of many men and fiends alike.

Shadow spawned demons ravening for my blood,
Yet the thirst of my blade is greater!
Aye, all they shall feast upon this night will be cold steel!
I hear the slither of scales on silk,
Fiend's Bane replete with undead slaughter!

I am the scourge of the devils who dwell in darkness...
(but the darkness writhing in my own soul is so much deeper...)
Their flesh burns at the touch of my blade of searing vengeance,
And I cast their malign spirits screaming into limbo!

Darkfall, and the autumn moon glimmers on my steel...
Now it is time to hunt and slay once more,
For the night has come!




10. AND ATLANTIS FALLS...

And lo, I witnessed the vast seas rise forth like a great ravenous beast, a
devouring maelstrom of cataclysmic fury; and the gleaming spires and citadels
of proud, ancient Atlantis were consumed, to gleam no more... save in the
dreams of sorcerers and warriors... aye, and poets and kings.

The astral testimony of Altarus the Traveller