Horror: H.P. Lovecraft – The Best In The Cave Audiobook

I need more Lovecraft in my S&S project, and I’m going way back in time to get it. The Beast In The Cave was written in 1905, when Lovecraft was only 14 years old, and already he showed great talent in crafting stories. You might go crazy when I show you this, but here is a link to where you download or purchase all of Lovecraft’s fiction, as well as a lot of other stuff written by great authors from the early 20th century, including R.E. Howard’s Conan stories!

Pulp-It.com’s home page.

Pulp-It.com’s Lovecraft Omnibus page.

#####

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3V8N9CFy-8

Descrip: The Beast in the Cave by H P Lovecraft Read by Nick Gisburne

#####

Synopsis: Lost in a cave, the protagonist encounters a strange beast as he searches for his guide. (H.P. Lovecraft – The Best In The Cave)

Villain: A large, white-haired ape-like creature with humanoid features.

S&S: Jirel – Jirel Meets Magic Online Story

Unfortunately, this one does not have an audiobook version on Youtube. You can read it at Archive.org through this link. The story is 26 pages long.

I enjoyed this story most of the three Jirel stories I’ve read so far. See my first Jirel post for the intro.

S&S: Jirel – Black God’s Shadow Audiobook

Synopsis: Pursuing one sorcerer, a warrior enters a magic land ruled by a second sorcerer, one who can hurl the warrior through dimensions, and must endeavor to kill them both. (C.L. Moore – Jirel, Jirel Meets Magic)

Before The Seven 1 – horror novel now available

This novel was recently re-edited and re-released. It is available for $4.99 on Smashwords. As a side note, this novel contains all seven of the Sword & Sorcery elements discussed in my recent post featuring Oliver Brackenbury. Not much swordplay, but plenty of weird sorcery. Like Sword & Sandal or Sword & Planet, maybe I have a new sub-genre here: Sombrero & Sorcery, or alternatively, Tequila & Sorcery. How cool is that?

S&S: Oliver Brackenbury – So I’m Writing A Novel!

About this title: Once upon a time, there was a miserly old man, and then a demon came along and killed him. That was just the beginning. This novel reflects a grimmer face of society than most people care to accept, where there are no clear-cut saints or sinners, only our own humanity. It is a macabre, twisted and bloody thing that has escaped from my mind. You have been warned. Rating: EXTREME controversy.

View this title’s page on Smashwords.

This novel’s cover blurb:

Two Very Different Men And One Demon

In the small and quiet village of Santa Ysabel, in Baja California, Mexico, lives a pleasant and mild mannered man named Don Diego. Although this man is now in his sixties, his mind and intellect are still quite sharp. After having a few conversations with Don Diego, a newcomer to this village would have no doubt as to how the old man had earned his healthy fortune. Also beyond a doubt would be Don Diego’s love for the small community he lived in, and for its residents, whom he continually tries to counsel and assist like a mother hen taking her chicks under her wing.

All is not clear skies and warm breezes, however. There is a second man, Luis Sanchez, who is at this very moment driving down the crowded San Diego freeway with the destination of Santa Ysabel clearly focused in his mind. Luis Sanchez might be considered the nuclear opposite of Don Diego. He is a reckless and violent brute, ready to administer a vicious beating to anyone who might deliberately and sometimes even accidentally stand in his way. Adding to this, Luis Sanchez is flat broke. He is willing to do anything to improve his dire financial situation, even if it means murdering an old man to get at his fortune.

Watching over this developing crisis is none other than the demon Barbas. This demon has been intrigued by the vast differences between the two men, and has even gone out of its way to bring the two together. In its mischievousness and wonder, Barbas has even thought of a few ways to weave the destinies of these two very different men into a single, turbulent path. With growing anticipation, the demon awaits their coming together, for while their inevitable collision might prove to be absorbing and fascinating, the demon also seeks to reach out and destroy them both.

Lying on the bed in the darkest hours of the night, the strong body tossed and turned restlessly. Sweat cried out from the body’s pores, strangled out by the recurring nightmare. In the blackest recesses of the mind, the nightmare reigned as a god.

Images blasted through the sleeping man’s mind, of gunshots and blood, violence and death, and repeatedly, of a cadaver that held two very different masks up over its gruesome face. Over its eternally grinning countenance, the cadaver first tried one disguise, then the second, as if it couldn’t decide which to wear, until it finally laughed with the voice of a demon and mashed the two masks together.

Fantasy: Adam Koebel – Ironsworn RPG Playthrough

I got through about a third of this, when I heard how intricate Koebel was in his world-building. I had to finish up what I was doing so I could take notes! Good stuff!

https://youtu.be/Ig6xZYutx-4

Descrip: I make a world, swear an oath or two and take on some challenges in this solo-play session of the IRONSWORN RPG

“In the Ironsworn tabletop roleplaying game, you are a hero sworn to undertake perilous quests in the dark fantasy setting of the Ironlands. Others live out their lives hardly venturing beyond the walls of their village or steading, but you are different. You will explore untracked wilds, fight desperate battles, forge bonds with isolated communities, and reveal the secrets of this harsh land. Are you ready to swear iron vows and see them fulfilled—no matter the cost?”

Learn more about Ironsworn here: http://bit.ly/ironswornFL

#####

Notes: Old World sickness caused colonists to flee. Paranoia over sickness. (A variant of this is already part of my Guardians Of The Dead story, by the way.)

Settlers revere or worship precious metals / gems. Gigantic metal or gem artifacts were left over after the gods warred in ancient times. Settlers are mining these artifacts in the present, in mountains, underground, etc. Precious metals / gems could be cursed and drive users insane, but settlers may still use them for protection. The metal / gem has a secret society.

Healers are revered, but overall magic is considered a bad thing and forbidden.

Koebel used the term Viking Mad Max.

The setters are against the gods, believing the gods abandoned them.

The settlers may have conflict with those who lived there before.

Unnatural creatures haunt the land, including horror.

#####

A lot of the details Koebel mentioned fit in with my project, or are already in there with slight variance, such as the idea of people fleeing and feeling abandoned by their one god. This is already in my story. What I will do is condense the world-building details into a single general paragraph that anyone can use for a wasteland-type settlement.

S&S: Oliver Brackenbury – So I’m Writing A Novel!

Author Oliver Brackenbury is creating a series of podcasts on how he is going about writing a sword and sorcery novel. He’s got 26 podcasts on the topic so far. I’ve added them to my cue of audiobooks, interviews and movies I’d like to watch / listen to as I work on my own S&S project, Guardians Of The Dead. I’ll add more podcasts here as I get to them.

So I’m Writing A Novel website.

Books by Oliver Brackenbury.

Reddit post where I found this.

#####

Ep1 – So I’m Writing A Novel… Begins!

Notes: Brackenbury mentions Brian Murphy’s new book Flame And Crimson. I’ve posted an excellent interview featuring Murphy here:

S&S: Brian Murphy: The History Of Sword And Sorcery

7 basic elements for S&S stories:

  1. Characters of Action
  2. Dark, Dangerous Magic
  3. Personal or Mercenary Motivations
  4. Horror (Lovecraftian) Influences
  5. Short Episodes
  6. Inspired By History
  7. Protagonists are Always Outsiders

Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation & Fantasy, and its Digital Library

Overall, Episode 1 provides a lot of good info on the genre. Brackenbury didn’t pull any punches when criticizing Camp and Carter on how they used (abused) Howard’s work posthumously. Looking forward to Ep. 2!

S&S: Guardians Of The Dead Part 3

“Answer by raising your hand.” The old woman told her. “Do you see brightness?”

Elynir did not.

“Do you see dimness?”

This time, she did raise her hand. It felt stiff, like a branch, and knurled, a branch with an uneven weight that tipped low as if she held it with the tips of her fingers.

“Most of your body is unwrapped. We will unwrap the rest, and rub oil into your skin to loosen the stiffness. Your eyes are not adjusted. Once we remove the wraps from your head, we will put a new wrap, but only over your eyes. You must not remove it. Too much light too quickly will blind you.”

Elynir said nothing, could say nothing because of her vows to obey the elders. She did wonder if she was still twenty years of age. She had a young husband once, and a daughter she’d given birth to when she was nineteen. When she was awakened for one season, her husband and daughter had aged by forty years, and she was the same. They were her only living relatives. Her husband was older than sixty years. He resented Elynir’s youth and his oldness. Only her daughter wanted her to stay awake, but she was one against all the rest. At least Elynir had one person to fight for her; the first two Sleepers had no one.

Elynir gasped when she felt the four old hands touch her body. Her skin was too sensitive. She gasped and shuddered, becoming excited sexually as the oil was rubbed on her breasts and stomach, clenching her legs together when the old hands moistened her inner thighs, and put oil on her sex. The old women were not doing this deliberately, but it happened regardless. Elynir went through an orgasm and cried out, quieting down as quickly as her body allowed her to, not wanting these elders to reprimand her for using her voice.

The old women said nothing. They continued to cause Elynir to squeal and squirm, as they rubbed the oil lower on her legs and feet. Every part of her they touched felt sensual, sexual, thrilled her as much as her husband had, that first time long ago when he’d made love to her, and every time after.

#####

“The moonstone’s magic is palpitating.” The old woman said. “Are you cold?”

Elynir raised her hand.

“Only blankets for now.” The woman said. “Your skin is too tender for clothing.”

They turned her, as gently as they could, but Elynir still felt their old bones and weathered flesh on her. The blanket they pushed under her was coarse, surely wool. She was rolled on her back and turned the other way. As the old women tugged at the blanket, and the blanket folded and stretched beneath her, Elynir felt discomfort bordering on irritation. The blanket felt grainy, rough, reminding her of tree bark. Its jerks pulled at her skin. She tried to keep her lips together, but grunts slipped out.

Finally, thankfully, the task was done and Elynir returned to her back. The old woman adjusted the thin wrap over her eyes, returning it to its former place. Her head and a portion of her neck were uncovered. She felt the cold tightening her skin, pulling at it. Would it rip?

“Warm tea, with herbs and honey.” The second woman said.

Elyrnir could distinguish between the two now: one’s voice was sharp, jagged, the other’s quieter, a low drone where the worlds ebbed together like a stream without pause. She felt the wooden edge of the spoon, a rounded edge, set close to her lips. Mere drops fell into her mouth.

“A bit at a time.” The woman spoke. “Too much will overwhelm your body, too much too soon. The herbs are bitter, but they will loosen your bowels.”

She only tasted a slight bitterness. The second time she was given drops of tea, the taste was stronger, strong enough to bother her. Bitterness stung at her mouth and tongue, down her throat, all the way down to her stomach. A minor revolt occurred in her belly. She thought of her waste, sitting in her bowels for so many years, so many decades. It repulsed her as much as the tea.

Deliberately, Elynir had refused to think about her appearance, because what if it had changed and she was no longer young? What if she was deformed or marred in some way? To avoid thinking of her upset stomach, she focused on her face, from the last time she’d seen it, in a reflection of water held still and firm by magic.

Elynir was, in her opinion, not as pretty as some of the other women of her time. Her head was not long, but a little long, with her rounded crown complementing her slightly jutting and softly rounded chin. Her forehead was too large, she thought, but so did many other girls her age. Her nose was not remarkable. Her most striking features were her eyes, which were black and looked to pierce through those she beheld, steady black beads on a pale face. And her hair, it was golden yellow, or had been once, but perhaps the power of the moonstone had dulled it, or made it pale. If the village had lined up ten girls in order from prettiest to ugliest, she felt she’d fall into the middle.

Everything about her was average, and yet when the elders tested the youth of the village for the ability to amass magic, she had shown more talent than the rest. She could fill a moonstone the size of half her palm in one week. The second fastest youth took half that time longer. For once, Elynir had something to boast about, and this very gift caused her to become mummified and preserved for… For at least one hundred years.

“Perhaps tomorrow your sight will return.” The sharp voice had come back. “If you must relieve your bowels, do it where you lie. You cannot walk to a privy, nor do we have the strength to carry you. We will clean you afterwards.”

Elynir did not want the women to touch her body again. It was… shameful.

She slept more than she stayed awake. She did not know if it was day or night. She knew nothing about the world outside, other than it was cold, and the cold had come in to bite her flesh.

#####

How I Named My First Characters

Basically, I did the same thing as I did for language, as described in Part 1. This time, I looked through Amazon and Valkyrie names, reversed them and created new names. The Valkyrie names sounded a little more Scandinavian, so that’s the set that won out. Here is a link to the random name generator I used:

https://www.fantasynamegenerators.com/valkyrie-names.php

My first batch of names:

Reginhylde, Brygabi, Sveidne, Skodrifa, Hridul, Sanrifa, Sveind, Sangrior, Regiva, Sanronul

Modded:

edlyhniger – Elynir

ibagyrb – Ibagghi

endievs – Endieve

afirdoks – Afiruk

ludirh – Ludyrr

afirnas – Afirnas

dnievs – Dinieve

roirgnas – Rorigg

aviger – Ahvigur

lunornas – Lunohra

The six names in bold made the cut for my band of six Sleepers.

More coming soon!

S&S: Conan – Shadows In The Moonlight Audiobook

So far, every Conan story, and to a lesser extent, every Jirel story I’ve read / listened to has had a supernatural element to it. I’m going to have to brush up on my Lovecraft!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dq68uk0dpvI

Descrip: For a genuine Conan tale, full of barbarian craftiness, magic, fierce fighting and his berserker strength, this meets every criteria and is one of the best. Conan was raiding with the Free Companions when they were trapped and slaughtered by the merciless Shah Amurath the great Lord of Akif. Conan is one of the very few who escape by hiding in the mud of the marshes like a beast living on raw snake and muskrat. Luck, which seems to have deserted him, smiles again and allows him the chance for revenge and he eagerly seizes it, destroying his enemy with fierce strokes. Barely escaping his soldiers with the slave girl Olivia, once a princess of Koth, they reach a deserted island that holds many enchantments and strange dangers. Then the pirates arrive and things become even bloodier.

#####

Synopsis: After saving a runaway slave girl, the protagonist and she escape into the desert and hold-up in ancient ruins that turn out to be more than expected. (Robert E. Howard – Conan, Shadows In The Moonlight)

S&S Short Film: Troll Bridge by Snowgum Films (Humor)

Looking for Sword And Sorcery short films on Youtube. Found this one. It’s an existentialist parody, Disneyfied, I’d say.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7v_TdLviUE

Descrip: Cohen the Barbarian was angry. Angry that he never died in battle, angry that the world had forgotten him, and angry that his knees were starting to play up in the cold. He was also angry that his faithful mount had been gifted the ability of magical speech. The horse was insisting that they had made a wrong turn back at Slice. He was also angry that the horse was probably right. This was not how it was supposed to end for the barbarian. This was not how the Discworld’s greatest hero imagined it at all.

S&S: R.E. Howard And C.L. Moore – The Lineage Of Red Sonja

Getting a better grasp on pulp fiction swordswomen, for my Guardians Of The Dead story.

Pulp Crazy website.

Lots of related links on the Youtube page.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-sMyI6FYDQ

Descrip: In this weeks episode I will be covering the Sword Women of Robert E. Howard & C.L. Moore, and their connection to the comic book character of Red Sonja. I think this is one of the best examples of how classic pulp characters are still influencing fiction today. I’ve wanted to do this episode for a few years now, it was just a matter of reading all of the pulp tales with these ladies in them. I will discuss each of the 4 red haired Sword Women, in the order of their creation.

S&S: Guardians Of The Dead Part 2

I got two other projects out of the way yesterday. This gives me time to post more on this one.

#####

“You will not speak the Old Tongue.” The old woman told her. “You will not think the Old Tongue. Our old words will bind you to this place. You will not speak at all, but you may think, think in the New Tongue of Men, that they call the Common Tongue because they are so common.”

“The glow of moonstone is fading.” The second old woman, with a voice more cracked and ancient than the first, spoke next. “We will unbind you. You will not move, for your limbs will be as those of the newborn doe. If you move, you will stumble and fall. You will scratch your tender skin. Breathe slowly. Think of how you moved before. Your muscles are as weak as a babe’s, but they will remember their purpose soon.”

What Elynir hated most was being unable to speak. She wanted to know how many years had passed since she’d first taken the Long Sleep, wondered if anyone in her family were still alive. And was she the first to wake, or the last? If there were six Sleepers, she would only know the first two, women before she, women like she, and she had heard of the fourth during a brief Wake, but not the rest because they’d come after her second Sleep. Who were they? What were they like? Elynir hated her silence, but she would respect it. She had vowed to follow the rules of her village, because it was supposed to bring the favor of their god back to her people. And yet, it was apparent that the Ritual of Sleep had failed, if they would awaken only to be sent into exile.

Elynir tried to hold back her tears a second time, but she found she could not.

A’ke-indu: the name of her people’s lands, meaning the place of A’ke-in. A’Ke-in the Tree Planter, who had created colossal trees so tall they pierced heaven, trees that gave the land life and vigor. The memories of Elynir’s people went back to the beginning, when A’Ke-in arrived to plant his tree and from it sprung every plant and animal and the great ancestors of her people. From it sprung every bird and fish and even water that was more pure than what had existed before. A’ke-in and his Great Tree had brought life to a place with no life.

In recent times, the tree was gone. No one knew how it had happened. As if one night the Great Tree had been seen, as it always was, with its huge trunk hiding half the sky from high to low, and its huge branches and giant leaves hiding another half, from left to right. Life had existed from the very bottom of the Great Tree to the top, with layers upon layers of life found in all its cracks and crevices. Entire villages could exist in the tree’s knots, and her people could travel days to visit another village in another knot. They lived and died, hunted and warred, had peace and livestock, and rivers and waterfalls, all in the ridges natural to the tree, or that they’d carved out for themselves with sharp rocks brought up from the ground far below.

And it was gone, vanished with no explanation, so strangely no one had seen it go. The legends were over a hundred years old. Some villagers from then claimed the tree had vanished two days ago, others said it was a week or longer, still others said it was there the night before. It was god’s will, the elders of that old time decided, that no one should know when the tree had gone, or when it would come back, if ever. Their god had created the confusion.

And the years passed, and no tree had come. It had become a plateau, with its truncated, uneven end only half a day’s climb above Elynir’s village. People before her time had traveled up to see what remained. They said the tree was beginning to die. Nothing grew at its flat edge, but the distance was too great for them to reach the center. What they saw from the edge gave them fear, the center of the tree was drying, becoming darker brown instead of its healthy color, and giant birds and other creatures would land on it and peck at its soft parts for nourishment. The legend arose that the beautifully plumed fowl ate of the rotten core, and they lost their great feathers, and their skin grew cold, clammy and scaled, and this is how dragons were born. True or not, the men who made that climb knew that death was coming to their lands and them, and they made plans to prevent the extinction of their people.

They chose the healthiest, most vibrant part of the tree wall, and they carved into it, creating the wooden altars on which Elynir and the others lay. The magic was still strong there, kept there by the power of the moonstones, a power that had to be constantly renewed or else the stones would fade and soon after the wooden chamber would also. The elders of that time decided that seven would enter the Long Sleep, because seven was the number of A’ke-in, and he would see what they had done and bestow his favor upon them. Her people know about the Short Sleep, because they used it for those who were badly injured or just after a woman gave birth, where the magic could be collected into the moonstones, and bind the magic of the tree, and the person would heal, slowly, but still heal and be healthy again, even if it took weeks or months.

The Long Sleep they had never tried before, but in desperation they did it then, over one hundred years ago, and Elynir was the third one chosen. If the plight diminished, the Seven Guardians would be awakened and all would be well. If the Seven were not awakened, and the peril for the survival of their people were too great, the elders of the present had to decide if it was time to awaken them and send them away from the tree, to start their line in a new place, and to forget their past because their god had forgotten them. That was their thought, that if the god A’Ke-in heard new voices calling to him from a new land, he might think these were not his cursed people but other people, and he would be happy to find new worshipers and grant them the blessings of the before-time.

They were seven at first, but they had not always been the same seven. For many reasons, the families of the Sleepers, or the elders, or some boon or omen would be deciphered, and some were awakened and others took their place. Elynir was third, and so she knew of the first two, but she was awakened after the fourth Sleeper, along with the first two, leaving the rest, the most recent in hibernation. After that single season, no one wanted to take their place. The villagers fought against it, the elders included, and so the first three were returned to their Sleep, with very few relatives still living to fight for them. And so, one hundred years had gone by, and now they were six and not Seven, the holy number beyond reach, and surely that signified an omen. Doom, it signified doom.

It was frightening to think about.