The Demon Throne

This Week’s Prompt:61. A terrible pilgrimage to seek the nighted throne of the far daemon-sultan Azathoth.

The Prior Research:Pilgrimages

There is an old road that runs beyond the world, to a most holy land. Beneath the two outstretched arms of giants, frozen for hubris long ago and now bleeding basalt in perpetuity, beyond the watch posts of the Crimson Kings who bear swords that sing, past the walls of stars that stand sentry against the crawling things. The road is worn, and broken in parts. Pavement and stones come and go, stone incarnations of an irregular heart beat. Drops of the old pulse still pass, following it past the end of the world to a most holy land.

Men and women who travel that road rarely come to it’s close. Most grow tired of their searching, abandon it for a highway, forming clots of wooden huts that grew sometimes into small towns. Others perished of over belief, forgetting their still mortal needs. Their skulls, if they were holy in death, grew into strange shapes. Some gained eyes after death, some horns, some became pallid growths in the earth, morticians moss on Mother Earth.

Azathoth City Body 1.png

And some found themselves in a situation like the sage Gilmora, in a cage of well made iron, bereft of his votive offerings of brass and his occult jade tools currently picking the flesh out of Negoi’s teeth. Negoi sat between the other two bandits, a mountain of muscle, with a necklace of relic fingers and tokens strung like beads. Occasionally he stirred the bronze pot, carved with divine faces, with the staff of some less fortunate traveller.

“So, what’s the haul with this one?” He asked the fellow to his right, who had cracked open the wooden case Gilmora had born with him.

“Not much, not much food anyway. Some skull thats gone and turned green.” Dozji said, holding the skull of St. Jian in one hand, turning it over and pulling out a cork seal. “ Dust in side. Smells like rotten eggs.”

“That’d be sulfur. I read once, stuff burns like fire, stings awful. Don’t know why you’d put it in a skull.” The third bandit, Olmoi with his beady red eyes said, looking up from the scrolls he had hanging from the branches. The letters on some were small square blocks unknown to Gilmora, while a codex of great worth was torn at the trees base, pages used to feed the fire of boiling flesh and fat.

“Maybe you throw it and the skull breaks on’em!” Dozji said, resealing the skull. “What do you say, little pig? Or is this how you lot season your food.”

“If a man is what he consumes, the ashes of a saint and sulfur can only do you good, friend.” Glimora said, folding his legs.

Skull Manuscript.png

Olmoi stopped Dozji’s hand before he poured the ash into the stew, shaking his head and quietly explaining that he would in fact perish, and kill all of them while he was at it. The three of them split the soup without any more of the saintly seasoning. Drinking out of the meditation bowls thank rang slightly when they hit the gold with their false teeth, making strange ringing for seconds before stoping at their lips. The conversation then went on to Glimora.

“Monks don’t fetch as much as they used, but I’m not sure if he’s worth eating…” Dozji muttered.

“Might be holy enough, we could hack him up. Polish his bones, sell him off as relics…” Negoi said, looking up from his bowl, turning it over so the scraps of less edible meat fell into the fire, crackling for a moment as the fat caught flame.

“If their relics, shouldn’t we just keep’em?” Olmoi said, frowning. “I mean, can’t monks tell what ain’t relics?”

“Yeah, but not fast. We can ditch them for another road or something.”

Gilmora sat serenly through the conversation, his mind’s eye wandering over the hills to see if that etheral city might be spotted. As the conversation continued, his invisilbe pupil continued on, settling in the barren wastes for a time. When he was done, he unfolded his legs and stood, walking to the edge of his cage.

“Ah, well, have an idea of where we should start?” Negoi said, messaging the finger bones and turning up from the conversation. Gilmora said nothing, walking to the front of the cage. His bones bent wax like round the iron rods, muscle and sinew folding out to make more room, before stitching himself back together on the other end with thin filaments of silk woven by unseen spiders.

“I knew he was holy.” Negoi murmured, before reaching for the sacrifical knife at his side and lunging at the escapd man, and running him through. Gilmora politely pushed the man back onto the fire, where the fat burned and scalled through the clothes of long dead pilgimrs, and the oil from the relics along Negoi’s neck burned bright.

Olmoi and Dozji merely stared as the pilgrim Gilmora went on his way, marching measuredly out of the camp and into the woods, back to the shimmering holy road. Olmoi glanced at his terror stricken fellow, before going after the escapee.

Olmoi had never followed the Pilgrim Road past the blasted heaths and hills, where none had returned. Negoi had once, and told the younger bandit that to glimpse that land was the worst decision of his life, and set him against any such pilgrims searching for that holy of cities, where demons walked the streets unhindered.

Azathoth City Body 2.png

Gilmora floated down the road then, barely touching the ground now. Olmoi heard distantly the song of a great beast, a deep siren sound of a whale as they drew near the iron hill. And there, for but a moment, in the indigo light of that place beyond the world, he saw the throne of Azathoth. The pulsating, squamous seprentine mass, grooves the size of buildings rising from the bulk as a mass of eyes and teeth stared down in all directions. At the center was a great maw, echoing outward with that song through fibrous teeth. Great was the yawning mass, an abyss of flesh with fingers reaching out on the wind.

And then Gilmora was gone, leaving not but his skull behind, smoke and dust swirling into the embrace of the demon king’s throne. The carnivorous cavern lasted but a moment more, a dread and terrible light shining within, beckoning like a beacon at sea. And then, it too was gone. Olmoi stared for a moment in terror, before collecting the skull of Glimora. Out of it’s foramen magnum dripped a sweet smelling liquid, like honey. But it’s touch burned Olimoi’s fingers. He flipped it in his hands and carefully carried it back to mortal lands. But that is a story for another time.


This was a rushed story, to be honest. My first few drafts were boring, tiresome, and had nothing happening. This is the result rewrite that tried using the pilgrimage as a spring board, and expanding into actually including characters. Next time, however, we will return to an old well of classic horror: Burial alive.

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Pilgrimages

This Week’s Prompt:61. A terrible pilgrimage to seek the nighted throne of the far daemon-sultan Azathoth.

The Resulting Story: The Demon Throne

A traveler’s corpse has been found on the road, heading to some distant holy sight ruled by a demon king. We’ll be digging up a number of corpses for this one. Because, as shocking as it might be, diabolic creatures as sources of heavenly insight are not as uncommon as you might believe!

Azathoth we’ve talked about at length here, so we won’t repeat much of mythos lore here. We do have stories of individuals going to Azathoth’s black throne, to sign in a dread book for knowledge and witch craft. But for the most part, the court of Azathoth is referred to only obliquely and in reference to the dance and music of various gods. That done, there is a precedent of demon kings having a good deal of heavenly knowledge. We discussed one such being last time we did research: Asmodeus.

Asmodeus.png

Asmodeus is a demon of some note, who has an odd reputation in the midrash and talmud around holy texts. He has done dreadful things, such as slaying seven successive husbands of a woman in the Book of Tobit, but has also aided in things such as building the temple itself. He gave knowledge of the future to Solomon and provided, by a trickster curse, an education on reality with the ring.

The capacity to grant knowledge is associated with a number of demons in the Ars Goteia. The play Faust also includes the conjuring of a demon for the knowledge such a fallen angel possesses. The logic is rather clear here: An angel has a view of all the cosmos, but is in alignment with God. Distracting an angel from it’s divine task is, of course, sinful. But a demon has nothing better to do and may possesses some of the knowledge of their deeds before the fall. The binding of demons into objects, either for wonderous working or in order to compel knowledge from them, was a tradition of sorts in the early church. The dangers of this hubris are rather obvious, and the practice was mostly suppressed.

It should be noted that such knowledge bearing principle is no doubt tied to the association of demons with the dead, who we discussed consulting here. As many demon lords have no knowledge, and in fact are deceivers as much as any. Not far from Asmodeus, we find Ahriman, who is the literal lie to Ahura Mazda’s truth in Zorastrianism.

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Wise demons, to stretch the term somewhat, is found more prominently in the Asura of India. Mahabali was an asura king, celebrated by his subjects, who regularly preformed penance in order to return to the world of the living. Shukra serves as the guru of the asura, as knowledgeable as the guru to the more heroic devas. Sunda and Upasunda were asura brothers who’s asectisim grew dangerous and frightening to the gods, to the point were the god Brahman was compelled to grant them a boon. The Tripasura, who we discussed here, gained their dominion over the world and their near invulnerable cities by mediation and religious practice.

A demon as the goal of a pilgrimage is rather unusual, however. The typical pilgrimage goal is to some holy site. In Europe, the locations of miraculous items, either the bodies or images of saints. Copies of these images are often sent back as markers of their successful pilgrimage. These tokens typically contained some miraculous power of their own, refracted from the original.

The power of these sacred places is best known to me regarding icons. Images of saints and holy figures, the miraculous icon often has healing power attributed to it. The image’s attributites can be more extreme however. When a bishop unveiled an icon despite tradition, the image of the virgin Mary underneath drove him to suicide. Other instances are recorded of the image’s mere gaze driving out demons from the bodies of the possessed. The end of the road of a pilgrimage is a sacred work, but the sacred is dangerous and powerful.

Kaaba.png

The most famous pilgrimage, of course, is the pilgrimage to Mecca by Muslims, carried out once in a life time. The Hajj has its specified time, the eighth to twelfth month of the Muslim calendar, and attracts millions every year to Saudi Arabia. The Hajj, as one of the five pillars of Islam, is necessary barring financial or health concerns. The site itself contains what, according to the Koran, is the first place of worship constructed by Ishamael and Abraham. The sites holiness cannot be overstated in this case.

Other faiths maintain their own pilgrimage sites: Zorastrians to fire temples that have survived, Hindus to the sites of major moments of divine action, Buddhists to sites of the life of Buddha. I know less regarding these, however, and didn’t have the time to delve into any of them deeply as I would have liked.

Journey to the West.png

In addition to these, there are stories of pilgrimages. One that sticks out to me, with talk of demons and such, is the Journey to the West. Here, while demons are not the goal of the pilgrimage, they are assisting in the travel—admittedly for their own benefit, but still. The pilgrimage in that case is of a Buddhist monk retrieving a set of scriptures from India to be brought to China, for the betterment of all. Here we have demonic aid for the completion of the pilgrimage, and demonic challengers to the progress of our pilgrim.  There is more to go into on the Journey to the West, but as it is a classic work I encourage my fellow scholars of the deceased to pursue it on their own. 

There is also the collection of stories known as the Cantebury tales. While a bawdy and comedic affair, and ranging in quality and incomplete, the story does center around the people who travel on this pilgrimage, their reasons and their means, and how they entertain themselves along the way. This format was taken up later, in a science fiction context, in the novel Hyperion to good effect as well.

A danger to said pilgrims, found in the Christian tradition, has some odd horror aspects as well. As holy figures, the remains of pilgrims were sought for as relics. While some villages and towns were content to merely find those who died of exhaustion or exposure, at least one went beyond. One Saint Gerald of Cologne–who’s documentation I can only find below–was killed by bandits near Cremona, and then had his relics stored their for future reverence. This sounds to me similar in principle to the demons of Journey to the West who seek to set upon the monk for his immortality-granting-flesh.

There was a recent murder in Spain of a pilgrim from the United States. While the motives are unknown, the murderer did intentionally mislead and disorient the woman in question, before murdering her and mutilating her body. The pilgrims road is thus perhaps still dangerous in the modern era.

The pilgrimage then can serve both as a source of danger and a way to unite a diverse number of characters. The motive in this case, to behold the court of the ultimate creator (As Azazoth is to a point), and the ultimate source of knowledge can include any number of beings as well as professions. And a winnowing of visitors—akin to the one at the frozen mountain with a garden atop—would also be a start.

The story should certainly establish the reasons or motives for the traveling—even if only in a line or two, or perhaps by implication—and what the expected difficulties are, how they’ve prepared, and then get into how thing begin to go wrong. It could end with the death or dissertion of all pilgrims before reaching the fabled throne, or we might glimpse that ultimate mystery ourselves. The history of searching for the holy is fraught with challenges. The Grail Quest removes nearly a third of all the knights of the Round Table and leads eventually—in some versions—to the downfall of the entire court. The dangers along the roadside are numerous.

I have a few ideas of horrific or horror tinged pilgrimages to strange and dark locations. The throne of Azazthoth, and the holds of demon princes and kings in general, are well guarded, far way, and deserted places. Our pilgrims will be risking mind, body, and soul for a glimpse at that ultimate font of reality.

There is a story of what happens when one glimpses the ultimate paradise. Four rabbis entered. One went mad, one became a heretic, and one died. Only the fourth entered and left in peace. To look upon the holy is to risk everything. The horror. The horror.

Biblography:

Garnett, Jane, and Gervase Rosser. Spectacular Miracles: Transforming Images in Italy, from the Renaissance to the Present. Reaktion, 2013.

Geary, Patrick. 1986. “Sacred Commodities: The Circulation of Medieval Relics” in Arjun Appadurai (ed.) The Social Life of Things. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.169-91.

Vauchez, AndreÌ. Sainthood in the Later Middle Ages. Cambridge University Press, 2005.


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Father and Son

This Week’s Prompt:49. AZATHOTH—hideous name.

The Research:Blind Idiot Gods

The door slammed before Samson could sit down. Rubbing his temple, he looked to his wife Irene for some explanation, his face somewhere between dumbfounded and full of rage. His hands and throat were still shaking when he went into the kitchen.

We can’t keep doing this every week,” Irene said, her gaze avoiding the open kitchen door. Samson nodded, unseen, and poured a water to aid his dry throat.

No, no we can’t. But that’s–”

And it can’t be Paul’s call.” Irene cut in. Samson paused. “He’s a kid, Sam. He’s not gonna go out there, again, and have some road to Damascus moment where he comes back and it all clicks.”

Samson sighed as he stared at the water. The kitchen light flickered, the ripples bent before the hit the edge of the glass. He took a deep breath and went for his coat.

Alright, I’ll go get him. I know where’s he’s gone, probably.” Samson said, putting on the faux leather heavy jacket he wore for cold nights like this. Paul had gone to the same spot every night like this, Samson was sure.

And?”

And I’ll try to be more civil. I just understand how he thinks he can go around at night like that,” Samson said, shaking his head as he put a cap on. “Doing god knows what. It’s not safe out there these days, and I swear that those Miller boys are in some sort of gang.”

Scaring him off won’t help.” Irene said, eyes locked on her magazine now. “You know, there was a report on youth crime recently, and they said distant father’s played a big part.”

I don’t think being distant is the problem.” Samson grumbled. “But I’ll keep my cool this time.”

It’d rained during the fight. There was a wall of cold wet air like something out of a freezer right outside the door. It hadn’t occurred to Samson before he set foot outside. Well, he figured that your own flesh and blood calling you a damned fool for caring about where his life was going might be part of that. The street lights caught a few of the long, near invisible spider threads that ran from branch to fence. Some even ran along the fences, like a secondary ward against flies. Drops of rain water had made them rather appealing, even if Samson couldn’t bear the thought of a spider being anywhere near him.

It was a long walk to the train tracks. Samson was sure Paul was there. There was some intuitive reason, some chord that he and his son shared in common. When Samson needed to cool down, he’d take a deep dive into some misery. Go somewhere painful. It wasn’t healthy, not by any notion of the imagination. But it was what he did.

Street1.png

As he passed a strange shaped web, that had been bent just right to look like a spiral by the rain water, Samson wondered if that was the start of it all. They’d found Jordan dead on the tracks, head busted open a few months ago. He knew Paul would grieve, he’d braced himself for loud sobbing and mourning. When it didn’t happen, he’d figured Paul was going to just ride it out. Maybe it’d buried it self, waited. Maybe.

The boys Paul was with now, when Samson knew anyhting about them, were strange ones. Stupid, snarling, barely intelligent kids who gave him a dirty look whenever they saw him. Which, Samson admitted, was rare. He paused his thoughts to collect himself. He’d grown up here, he knew the streets and architecture well. He’d been headed to the last of the rails, but the red brick work told him he was on the wrong side of town already. He’d slipped across without any notice.

It was disgraceful mistake, he had to admit. How did you miss the tracks? It was like missing the river. Samson organized his mental map, and figured he’d gotten distracted and missed a turn or something. Maybe his mind was moving away from construction as he mulled over the weirdos Paul called company.

It was wrong, Samson thought, to hate your son’s friends so much. But they were bad kids. They had this look in their eyes that reminded Samson of starving strays. And while he might pity them, in some abstract way, they were too cunning and a half for their own good. The thing was, and this made Samson more uncertain, they didn’t dress like thugs. Some wore button ups, clean slacks, dyed hair parted neatly. Hell, if you’d told him this was just some intern down at the firm, Samson would have believed you. Weird as it was to see that sort of clothing on them, the clothing wasn’t the problem. It was the way they walked, it was like there was a slight invibislbe gas leaking from their mouths. Their eyes hinted at malice, and they held their hand smore like claws then proper fingers and joints.

Samson got dizzy again, near an intersection. He stopped himself this time, and realized he had almost missed the train tracks again. The under pass, lined with tents, was just on the right. It seemed to swell in front of him. Most of the denziens were inside on a cold night like this. Samson frowned as he walked down the shaky concrete. Some of the asphalt must have been fresh, with the way it shown and almost flowed in the light. Like a river of gold.

It wasn’t fair, to call them strays. Strays just wanted some food. Or a home. Samson had taken in a few when he was a boy. No, they were more like…like the spiders. Or like a wasp Samson read about, that played with cockroaches before killing them. Malicous, maybe even sadistic, but naturals at it. They’d probably given not a second thought to what they did. Samson wasn’t sure if they’d done anything. He had theoires. He was pretty sure they’d killed a cat. There were less cats and squirrels about. He knew they were bullies and probably a few made a career being vicious. He’d seen one burn a bunch of dolls in an alley once.

Samson didn’t know which was worse. That the strange idiots stole a girls dolls and burned them, or they bought a bunch of dolls to burn for the hell of it.

Maybe they’d killed Jordan. The thought had crossed his mind. It seemed so fortunate for the freaks that Paul needed an outlet, and they were right there.

But Samson put that all aside as he walked down the tracks. Now was the time for peacemaking. Now was the time to talk with Paul, to make sure he got home, to make sure he was okay. The tracks were where Jordan and Paul once walked.

TrainsCover.png

Samson blinked a few times as he made his way down. He didn’t bother calling out, it was bright enough to see Paul when he needed to. Hell, it was getting brighter and brighter as he walked down the tracks. There wasn’t any particular light, just everything seemed to be in sharper contrast and glow as he went. The tracks had clearly worn down since he got here, Samson thought. Some were broken or sprawling off. Maybe repairs or replacements required those bends and buckling. Some of the pieces of wood seemed to be replaced by bits of metal. A lot of them had been vandilized, little holes stabbed in them or gibberish carved in them.

Along the way, Samson swore the shadows blinked at him, or that in the holes of tracks there are flickers of motion like scurrying ants or beetles. It’s not too bad. Vermin always forms when places are left alone and forgotten. Samson’s known that for a while.

At last he comes to something that might be a destination. A pair of cargo containers, red and blue. On top are a bunch of tents, mini-roofs. Lights are shining out, brightest just above the two roofs, making a dome of bright light that slowly dissipated upwards into the sky. Samson walked to the rusted steel doors, breathed deeply and knocked.

There wasn’t any sound before the knock. Then a slight whistling and piping, as if Samson had disturbed some strange sleeping creature. Samson blinked and turned to make sure nothing was following behind him. When he looked back, the metal was gone, bent up into a surprisingly spacious ceiling. The piping continued, shaking the shimmering interior. As he stepped in, Samson heard the crunching of sand or salt beneath his shoes.

Samson heard voices from the deeper interior, halls of shining metal containers and ladders to the top tents. The light was bright,and Samson had to cover his eyes to come inside. Slowly he worked towards the voices. Paul was probably among the voices, deeper into whatever strange fort this was.

There was scribbling on the wall, symbols that Samson recognized from an old code book he had as hobo warning marks. About wild dogs and guns. Some of the scribbles were decayed, some were definitely alphabets he’d not seen in his life. Or gibberish in English, overlapped from overwork.

The halls smoothed as he got close to the voices. Despite being maybe twenty feet across, it seemed to stretch in front of Samson towards the horizon. He was surprised how quickly he crossed. He was surprised how long it took. The piping was melodious, almost calming now. With each step that crunched, crackled, and echoes through the metal walls it grew louder, more persistent. Like a lullaby being sung over a screaming child.

At last, Samson found the source of the lights and sounds. A door off the side of the hallway opened like a flower, peeling away but with a smoothness that washed over Samson’s alarm. They were gathered their, the strange boys playing piping instruments. They sat around a green fire that seemed to be a reflection, more flat then fire should be.

Paul was there, as Samson thought. Paul sat in the fire unsinged, eyes closed. Samson walked forward into the hall. A single word was written round the walls now, without beginning or end.

THOTHAZATHOTH

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Paul murmured it in endless chant as Samson walked towards the fire, his son still unburned. In an instant Paul’s eyes opened. They stared ahead like wax orbs, no light shining from them. He stood, the flaming plat form putting him at eye level with his father.

Paul…” Samson said, arms outstretched. “What is this Paul?”

Paul looked back as if he did not understand, like Samson was speaking a language he never understood. Samson took another step forward.

Let’s go home, Paul. We’ll talk about this.”

Paul didn’t move from the fire, his clothes unburned. Samson took another step forward.

Son, come on. We can–”

Paul let out a howl and Samson started back. He saw a flash of a knife in his son’s hand, a flicker of silver that rushed at him. With strength not his own, Paul toppled his father and slashed into him over and over again, before slicing his throat.

As the men and women at the center of the city had said, a sacrifice would be provided. Paul had expected his mother, however.

 


 

This story gave some trouble. I didn’t know the ending until I got there, and it is a bit sudden isn’t it? But I think some of the central conflict and fears could be expanded on later.

Next week! Our fiftieth research! Our fiftieth story! A story of fire and sin!

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A Blind Idiot of A God

This Week’s Prompt:49. AZATHOTH—hideous name.

The Story: Father And Son

Azathoth is a creature of some surprising clear description in the works of the Lovecraftian Mythos. Azathoth, epithets ranging from the Demon Sultan to the Nuclear Chaos to the Blind Idiot God, is the close thing the mythos has to a creator deity. From Azathoth spews forth all things madly and randomly, creation occurring out of his court on a whim. Azathoth is credited as having long gone mad, being now only entertained by his court of outer gods and their music and piping. Azathoth’s origins are perhaps as manifold.

The name holds many hints. One theory is that Azathoth derives his name from Azazel. Azazel is a desert demon or fallen angel who accepts the scapegoat for the sins of Israel, an angel thus involved to a degree in the purging of sin. Azazel is also credited, however, in Enochian texts as the creator of the weapons of humanity (in traditional mythic fashion, he gives men weapons and women make up). He was also there the father of some of the Nephilim, man-eating gigantic heroes that were destroyed in the flood.

Another theory suggests, particularly from the name Demon Sultan, that Azathoth derives from the story of Vathek. Vathek is an old Gothic story, that is distinguished in the setting and cosmology from other horror tales of the genre. Vathek is set in the court of a Caliph, and the predominant religion in imagery is Islam instead of Christianity. We named ‘Valley of Vathek” after the main character, and a full version of it can be found here. The connection between Vathek and Azathoth the Demon Sultan seems based primarily on it’s ending of profound suffering in the courts of hell rather than the expected elation. The punishment of the damned is a sort of blinding truth and madness.

Azazthoth, broadly speaking in the Mythos itself, is to a degree the supreme creator deity, credited with giving rise distantly through more famous children such as Yog Sothoth and Nyrlanhotep. More pressingly, his authority is somewhat supreme. His name alone cows multitudes of monstrous creatures

Demiurge

Demiurge

Azathoth bears a resemblance to the characterizations of a few more creators worth mentioning. Chaos/Kaos as creator of course resembles Azathoth, as an apparently unintelligent creator force. Hudun resembles him as well, with no perceivable senses. Instead Hudun simply exists, and is in fact slain by receiving senses in certain Taoist texts. The Gnostic Demiurge, a creator of reality who is blind to it’s true nature and has woven a nightmare realm from his own selfishness, has a passing resemblance as well, if only as a hostile creative power that seeks to trap mankind.

Azazthoth has one significantly literary reference that must be recalled however.

Azathoth’s name and title however, belie more horrifying insinuation. His name recalls an alchemcial term: Azoth, the primary substance of Creation in many branches of Western Occultism and alchemy. Described sometimes as the source of Solar fire and Lunar water. Azoth then is similar to primary material or chaos. But unlike those, Azoth persists at the core of everything. The thing that gives things their existence.

Azoth

A depiction of Azoth

This presence is echoed by the title Nuclear Chaos. Now, in the post Hiroshima world, Nuclear has a very clear meaning as associated with radiation. And certainly, as horror iconography goes, radiation and nuclear weapons might be reflective of the destruction and perverting influence of the gods of Lovecraftian lore. But the Nucleus here meant something entirely different. It meant the core of something, it’s center and by extension it’s very being. The nuclear chaos alludes to Azathoth’s all pervasive nature that makes him more than a distant disorder. The madness that is Azathoth, the thing that is at the bottom and center of everything, giving existence to all things, is insane. Utterly idiotic and insane.

AtomicBomb

This is almost a horrible punchline to a nihilist joke, isn’t? It reads almost like something from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, or Goats. It’s a silly supposition, comically from the right angle. But we must labor to make this farce something almost horrifying. Restore some majesty it has lost.

So how to make this horrifying? Well, we might first abandon the primacy of the creature. Being trapped or happened upon by an absolutely mad and all powerful entity is itself rather terrifying, if full of humorous potential. The strange and disturbing effects that something omnipotent and foolish could do are rife with potential.

Or we could focus on the change wrought on such a being. How did Azathoth come to be in this state? What was it like, when the essence of the cosmos changed from what it was before? That has potential, but might be too abstract, and frankly too small in effect.

We could return to the notion of Azathoth as an inspiring source. Something that hasn’t been touched on that Lovecraft was fond of was the creation of arts in the wake of terrible beings. We discussed this somewhat, back in our discussion of wicked muses. The Demon Sultan has played that role in the past, particularly regarding The Music of Erich Zann. This might put further emphasis on the name’s hideous in someway, regarding perhaps its latent power inscribed into a poem or even a play (something like the King in Yellow perhaps?).

Yellow Sign.png

Azathoth as an infectious thing in reality, spreading and warping like a maddening rot, might be an approach to consider somewhat seriously. The story would need to begin with establishing the nature of reality as it is, and then gradually introduce the corrupting changes. Ideally, only our character notices these changes. Perhaps they are only changes in his perception, perhaps they are real. The changes will be such that whatever goals the lead was pursuing become increasingly impossible. Slowly, the world seems to drift away from his understandings and notions. Until, at last, he is isolated to a degree in an alien landscape.

Hegel

Hegel. Looks Kinda Like A Deep One

In this manner we might examine Azathoth as an anti-Hegelian conception of the universe. Hegel’s theory of history purports that the world spirit, the embodiment of …well, existence grows closer and closer to self knowledge through the synthesis of thesis and anti-thesis. Azathoth, who sits not only at the core of real space but at the center of the Dreamlands, and thus of both the waking and sleeping world, is the opposite. If anything, Azathoth is losing awareness, deluded by music and his own madness.

Of course, incorporating these ideas into a single story is hard. I suggest then a short vignette. A brief story of a decay to madness that has, at least on paper, another plot entirely. A story of a date, or of a confrontation with a father, or a bad day at work. A generally normal outline, that slowly decays both in the mind of the main character and in the outline overall. A place of insecurity can be magnified by the inclusion of a literally changing world. Albeit, at least physically, probably for the worst.

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