Ascension, or a Barbarian Warlord Battles through the Fundament of Hades: A fantasy epic in seven parts.

By: Kaptain Kvtlass (School of Physics and Astronomy)
Competition Year: 2016
Votes (3) | Comments (1)
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Part I: Our antihero awakens in a darkened pit of despair, created when Thor, in wroth of the Devil’s mockery, plunged his fist into the ground and hurled the resulting ball of debris to punish him for his hubris upon the hilltops of Surrey.

When I awoke
To the bale-light of blackened fires
And the myriad reflections of daemons
Half-glimpsed from the corners of mine eyes.

A cavern, bathed in crimson hue,
The delights of this sordid realm.
It shifts as I stare
And it becomes a warped view of my own world.
I wonder how it all came to be,
How I arrived
And if I can leave.
I know that I shall try,
And if death be my reward, then it shall be deserved.

I reached instinctively for my blade…

The blade of tempered steel,
- And so my blade it came to be. -
Its grip inscribed with the names of the dead.
- And so my blade it came to me. –
Blessed by the light of the pantheon…
- And so my blade it came to be. –
Baptised in the blood of the coven…
- And so my blade it came to me. –
My companion through endless wanderings:
- And so my blade it came to be. -
Call to me, O fires ov demise!
- And so my blade it came to me. –
On endless nights, with nothing but the moon’s light to sing her songs to me,
- And so my blade it came to be. –
Whispers from its enchanted steel gave my hymns their name,
- And so my blade it came to me. -
And in midwinter, with deep snow images caressing my eyes,
- And so my blade it came to be. -
Its point rang true.
- And so my blade it came to me. –
When my village was threatened by man, by beast,
- And so my blade it came to be. –
Its voice sang as my people’s saviour.
- And so my blade it came to me. -
And when our chief required vengeance or conquest,
- And so my blade it came to be. -
My blade was ever his answer.
- And so my blade it came to me. –
A challenge brought forth:
- And so my blade it came to be. –
My blade, its reply.
- And so my blade it came to me. -
A mockery made:
- And so my blade it came to be. -
My blade, its silencing.
- And so my blade it came to me. –
I can recall now, the night of the warlock.
- And so my blade it came to be. –
He came to the village, and took our children.
- And so my blade it came to me. -
I followed him, and came to the henge where he had taken them.
- And so my blade it came to be. -
My blade saved them from his spells.
- And so my blade it came to me. –
And on Walpurgisnacht
- And so my blade it came to be. –
Did my blade keep the people safe.
- And so my blade it came to me. -

Ah!, the memories!
With my blade, they can return.
As a crystal ball
My mind’s eye begins to see:
Visions of a time past.
Before I had awakened
And why I awoke
In this place, the fundament,
Caves of Yggdrasil.
Heed not the words of those who
Presume to know all
Nor the tales spun by
The lay pretending wisdom.
Fools! And their foolish
Pride shall be revealed in time.
Benevolence died
With he who had guided us,
And he who followed
Had no right to the title.
At the moot declared:
“By your decree, you name me!”
Preceding the fall.
The men of cloth came and spoke,
He heard and obeyed,
A way against the forest.
Weak! To leave the Gods,
The old Gods with their power.
The trees, the rivers,
Our shrines and temples of Earth.
Under the stars we pray,
Not stave roofs before idols.
The villagers all,
As one, rallied to my call.
The plans were laid down.
But treachery, it bites deep,
And he heard of this,
And sent the foul informer
To do what was done.
Cowards! As I slept, the knife
Drained all my life-blood
For the crime of protecting
All that I hold dear.

I know now of why I am here,
And here I deserve to stay,
If I accept what happened.
Damned I shall be if I let this lie.
I shall return to the world above!
With my vengeance!
With my hatred!
I shall reign anew with fire and blood!
Where children once knew happiness,
Only long, cold winter’s nights.
Where mothers cradle children,
Dry tears shall be wept.
Where timbers fell to light fires,
Snow shall fall to sow misery.

Industry shall be replaced with idleness,
Love with frost.
Where sprites were once free to roam,
Daemons shall haunt their steps.
Clearings, once a pleasant light in a dark forest,
Shall only bring forth further horrors.
Springs of life, wells of contentment,
Shall now give freezing vapours.
Rolling hills shall become towering mountains.
Dells shall become impenetrable ravines.
Flowers shall wither,
Crops will fail,
And livestock will fall to disease.
I shall be plague.
I shall be war.
I shall be death.

Part II: A consequence of those dark satanic mills, now descended into a deeper despair, O what a human aspect of science and engineering this is!

As I walk, it is funny to wonder,
At how my surroundings all came to be.
Through all these industrialised heartlands,
The knowledge through which all these things can flow.
We wanted to know, we wanted to find,
We wanted to make money and to grow
Our legacy and our prosperity.
And so we sought out how these things will work.
The underpinnings of the Universe;
How we arrived, and how it all will end.

I pass lock gates, working ingenious,
The mills; the dark Satanic mills we hear.
From whence was carried the produce of old
From furnace of cities through country fair.
Similarly, the physicists brought forth all
The engineers needed for it to stand.
Life-force: where did it come from and where to go?
Power: how can we best devise its end?

This Hell is just a mirror of my world,
The world to which I know I must return.
I have unfinished work I must avenge
My death and the betrayal of my kin.

Part III: Confronting Lilith, a romance of lust and blood.

Industrial volcanos soon give way
To rolling pastures layered on with grass.
Over the hills for leagues and leagues I stray.
Is this Hell? It seems to have changed its mask.
As over ridge and over ridge again
A strange enchanting beauty, feel of home
Despite the beauty, it all feels the same
The warmness, at the witness of my own.
If I could, then all hours will be lost
To wander here and stay through all the years,
But as I start to think about the cost
A haunting melody comes to my ears.
A sonnet of seduction in this place
There Lilith stands, the Strange Woman of Grace.

“The Lamia! All hail to the Octet!
The All-Mother, and bride to Samael!
The future generations you have set,
And lives are all your tale you have to tell.
In parchments from the very dawn of time
Your story has been spread through Earth above.
Mother Earth, you summon these hills I climb,
In days gone by you seeded Earth with love
And taught to us all that you said you knew.
Within you is held mother and father,
Husband and bride. From you Icarus flew
Without you, he would have been just another.
The river sprites told me all about you;
Forest spirits whispered of your glory.
In your words now, tell to me your story.”

The names and titles seem to resonate,
This warrior is of the Northern clans.
He seeks to return to his homelands
A task begat of a power too great.
“Mortal! Do not think you can create
A hole in my defence. You think you can,
But you are mistaken. You lost your lands.
You lost your tribe. And now you’ve lost your state.
You reside in the roots of Yggdrasil
How wrong to think that all above will grieve,
The murderer thinks sweet for you to kill.
Here you are trapped, and here you shall remain.
Do not think that you can just up and leave,
The Underworld is no place for the sane.

“You want revenge! Here, you’re able to fight
For a whole age and more if you so wish.
I’ll gift you a horde to visit anguish
Upon your foes. Let none question your might.
All of your enemies will feel the bite
You shall be the wise to lead the foolish
By your command shall move, march the ghoulish.
The legions of daemonic death, the sight –
It shall be yours for all eternity.
Merely say the word and I’ll make it so.
Let quake those who hold you in enmity!
None here can stand against that which you’ll hold.
With me by your side I can help you show
Blind is the man to challenge rulers cold.”

“Fool! Witch! How could you feign to understand
And speak to me of what you believe of
My motives, or what force will guide my hand.
You know nothing of what happened above,
Nor of the thoughts that are inside my head.
Leave this place now, and tempt me no further!
Go and tempt some other poor soul instead,
Lest my sword ring out with new-found fervour.
Your empty promises have no power
Over the rightful barbarian king.
Yet I know of a magical tower
From which I can take all that you would bring.
Passed down, stories from centuries old lore
I know what I can find in Witch’s Tor.”

The Temptress here had stretched beyond her reach.
Punishment, she had now failed her master,
Hammer of judgement falls ever faster.
She knows she was a fool to try to keep
Then draw from his soul power she would leache.
Stolen from her mind, hanging from rafters
His murderer. He became a master
Her thoughts he had dared to challenge and seek.
Her thoughts are now his to know and to learn,
By what strange power he had gained this skill
A knowledge she could now only to yearn.
Temptress failed, and retribution is swift
The sword darts from scabbard to make clean kill.
Her head high in the air he now will lift.

Part IV: The dark legacy of Witch’s Tor, veiled by majestic surroundings of granite, imbued by the powers of Mica, Quartz and Feldspar.

Before me, amidst these swirling granite landscapes,
With mystic energies flying across the night-slopes,
Stand gaunt the mighty Terror Gates.
Locked within are all your mortal hopes.
None who have passed have returned,
And none who see them wish to enter.
Within, the druid’s cauldrons burned
At the five-fold star’s centre.
Daemons and petulant spirits plot
Malevolent plans to unleash.

This is the fortress two miles high
Atop a maintain itself of five.
At the summit faeries fly
To steal encroaching souls’ lives.
This is the bastion of Witch’s Tor
Build upon igneous foundations.
Whispered in the human realm’s folklore
In myriad culture’s variations.

Lilith, she claimed she had powers to grant
An army of unholy might
Daemons shall be mine to enchant
To join me in the final fight.
Warlocks! Bestow the power,
The power to fight the foe.
Witches! Hags of the Tower,
Give me knowledge no man should know.
Wizards! With magyks of arcane lore
Command the beasts to my force.
Druids! The enemies that I abhor,
Let me destroy those who oppose the Norse.

Now before me stands
A three-headed dog
Its fur shifts as the sands
And bears a halo of fog.
One tells of what will be,
Then swiftly disappears.
I heard not of what he sees
The mindfog will not clear.
The next speaks of the past,
Of what came to be.
The fog begins to pass
But soon returns to me.
The last says of the present:
“This mystery you won’t know.
You never will be Godsent,
But trapped down here, below.”
This vision has me enthralled,
I know not what it means.

The Tower’s tests are manifold,
I cannot tarry long
Lest visions take my soul
And the Sirens sing their song.

Now that the dog has left,
And with its meaning still unknown
My spirit is left bereft
When another vision I am shown.
I can see my homeland,
Wreathed in smoke and fire.
This is done by my hand,
And Hades’ will inspired.
A throne atop the mountains,
To rule over my realm.
The population all in chains
The rebels in the quelm.
This is the vengeance I seek,
And the Tor knows my mind
Speak not of the meek!
They shall inherit nothing.

On deamonwings I am flown
To the top of the Tor
Here foul winds are blown
Unto the Earth from the Daemon Door.
I speak of Lilith’s lie
To the shadow-cloaked figure.
And rune-bound oaths I tie
And the words’ power grows bigger.
The figure rules the Tor,
He grants a final vision.
“All that was Lilith’s is yours,
Commands this five-fold division.”

The hordes of the Pentagram
Are mine now to command.
In motion is the plan,
Blood shall be my reward!
I leave the Tor, the first to do so.
Daemonic power imbibed in my sword.

Part V: The thorny bush of torment, enclosing the living corpses of all those who forsook their souls. Cry not for these minds, for they gave their spirits away long ago, and here their journey ended, as it was said they would.

Before me now there is a bush
And upon there bush there are some thorns.
Each thorn a meter long and stained with blood.
A just reward for its victims.

Upon each thorn there lies a corpse
Writhing in their own perpetual pain.
This is the plant of which the legends tell,
The plant of those who sold their souls
In the vain hope of some respite
Of their mortal misery.

Misery they know now more than ever,
And in life they knew it more than most.
They had no-one to reach out for,
And the torment was their bedfellow at night.
The stars would ever whirl overhead,
And the ages of time pass them by,
But inwardly, nothing would change.

I catch the eye of one of the souls,
And Lilith’s lie becomes clearer than ever.
No joy did this man know at my demise,
He saw it all before the end.
He destroyed my village’s salvation,
And knows this salvation is now its doom.

Pity strikes my heart as I begin to hue at the plant.
Each corpse now spared for a second time the pain of existence.
The rotting corpses thank me in their silent cries,
And the five-fold legion becomes six-fold.
Mercy, it seems, is the key to Power
Where some here are concerned.

Part VI: The crossing of the mighty Styx, wherein the souls of all who failed lie, their torments a lesson to those who heeded not the warning.

Coutryside to Forest; Forest to Mountain;
Hades is ever shifting; its landscapes are never the same.
And soon I come to a feature I know all too well.
The river is screaming
From the souls who were once scheming
To save their penny for the one journey they could not sell.

The ferryman, he greets me,
He knows where I have been.
The crossing now he’ll take me,
But he knows I cannot return.
His boat with fire burns
But sinks not, I can see.
The penny I spend
It’s all I can lend
Crossing the river of souls.
With rotted oar
The ferry bore
Lost spirits to their goals.

As we sail
Skeletal hands flail
And threaten to pull me in.
But the ferry will still bear,
And the fate I will not share
With the lost ones held within.
They tried to cross
Without a loss
Of the one thing they still owned.
Was it worth the cost
For what they now lost?
The dignity, by birthright loaned.
I hear one call,
“From Purgatory fall!”
She failed in her quest.
For just a coin,
The only coin,
She could now be at rest.

The oarsman heave
To aid my leave,
The Heaven known as Hell.
I know the sound
We’ve run aground
I hear the toll of the bell.

The ferryman tries
To his surprise
(This is the first time this occurred)
To leave the bank
Of sinners sank
For the fate that they preferred.
We drift off again!
On this floating pen
Writing my course through the Styx.
The stench of decay
Stays across the whole way
And in my nostrils it sticks.

I reach with pride
The other side
The bloodied Mortal teach.
And all my fears
As Purgatory nears
And the lesson to those it teach.
The boat is gone
The hope it shone,
The ferryman disappears.
And I climb with hate
To the Mortal gate:
The hour of vengeance is here!

Part VII: Arise, O warrior, to the surface, and take what is rightfully thine!

The Mortal soil starts to burn
As darkness heralds my return.
The Sun abandons its new dawn
As my undead legions start to spawn.
Trees cry as Satan casts a spell
Granting me legions from Hell.
And as I step through the gates,
Reality starts to break.

I look upon my summoned horde
And call them forward with my sword.
My village is the first to fall,
No mercy was shown to any at all.
I heard my children as they died
The price I pay for my demise.
Still he evades me, the coward runs.
But I know to him justice will come.
One by one the nations cede
No God to save them in their hour of need.
The Earthly realm he has left,
And now this world is bereft
Of any form of Holy salvation
A dark, bitter anticipation.

In the final hour I meet him there,
With fear, his wide eyes stare.
“How could you have ever come back?
You were dead! None can come back!”
I came for you, I loudly think
And he merely slowly blinks.
My sword, still blooded,
Its handle further studded
By the names of all people on Earth
Ever given a Mortal birth.
I wipe from time his very name,
And take my place, the ruler of this domain.
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a truly transcendental piece...
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