In a strange city, all alone,
Far down within the dim west —
And the good, and the bad, and the worst, and the best,
Have gone to their eternal rest.
There shrines, and palaces, and towers
Are — not like any thing of ours —
O ! no — O! no — ours never loom
To heaven with that ungodly gloom!
Time-eaten towers that tremble not!
Around, by lifting winds forgot,
Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters lie.
A heaven that God doth not contemn
With stars is like a diadem —
We liken our ladies' eyes to them —
But there ! that everlasting pall!
It would be mockery to call
Such dreariness a heaven at all.
Yet tho' no holy rays come down
On the long night-time of that town,
Light from the lurid, deep sea
Streams up the turrets silently —
Up thrones — up long-forgotten bowers
Of sculptur'd ivy and stone flowers —
Up domes — up spires — up kingly halls —
Up fanes — up Babylon-like walls —
Up many a melancholy shrine
Whose entablatures intertwine
The mask the — the viol — and the vine.
There open temples — open graves
Are on a level with the waves —
But not the riches there that lie
In each idol's diamond eye.
Not the gaily-jewell'd dead
Tempt the waters from their bed:
For no ripples curl, alas!
Along that wilderness of glass —
No swellings hint that winds may be
Upon a far-off happier sea:
So blend the turrets and shadows there
That all seem pendulous in air,
While from the high towers of the town
Death looks gigantically down.
But lo! a stir is in the air!
The wave! there is a ripple there!
As if the towers had thrown aside,
In slightly sinking, the dull tide —
As if the turret-tops had given
A vacuum in the filmy heaven:
The waves have now a redder glow —
The very hours are breathing low —
And when, amid no earthly moans,
Down, down that town shall settle hence,
Hell rising from a thousand thrones
Shall do it reverence,
And Death to some more happy clime
Shall give his undivided time.
The Doomed City
This poem, first published in 1831, would evolve into "The City in the Sea."
Illustration for "Till Eulenspiegel" by Arthur Rackham
The dread kings wash into the world of mankind on the wings of original sin.Washing through the void of the blackness of nightmares. Void prison holds these ancient dead minor divinities in nightmare memory palaces. These undead god horrors are held in the minds of demons floating between cold dead stars.
Black sorcerers & occultists of the darkest stripe call these things to the shore of our reality at the hour of the soul. Fat black candles of demon flesh tallow are arranged in the unholy hexagram of shattered reality. From out of the ruins of the dreams of old women & terrified children the dread gods come. They will answer three questions of the darkest secrets of the sorcerer's rivals but their price is high. The first dream & memory of innocence is plucked from the mind of the summoner. Two points of wisdom is taken from the black wizard & their charisma drops by two points. With the sacrifice of the smallest end flesh of the toe of the wizard they will visit the enemies of the wizard.
Major André's tree - Illustration for Washington Irving's
short story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,
by Arthur Rackham (1867-1939)
But the dread gods may ask for an ancient song of silence & fear from the black magus in return. Their dream goblins & shadow fey will pester the wizard for further fickle favors if the mood strikes them..
1d10 Random Encounters With The Dread Gods Table
1d10 Random Encounters With The Dread Gods Table
- Capering & wandering 'Areus the Determiner' comes across the party with 1d12 nightmare goblins. He offers the party 3 gold coins of passage for one of the party's wizard's spells if not slated he will summon two Lovecraftian ghouls to murder & eat the party.
- Two ancient alien lich kings dressed in the gossamer spider threads of hidden Lux appear before the party. They are hunting for blood & souls but will take the voice of a bard instead if not a poem of deepest regret may slate their thirsts.
- The ice kings & queens of deepest shadow appear these ancient ghosts want the eyes of seekers of knowledge. The ice kings are double hit point shadows of alien nature & pure spite.
- The scared dreaming ghosts of Ga appear as blue & gold sheet phantoms. They laugh at you mocking your very existence as electricity & ghost flames dance at their command around you. They feed on the tongues of thieves & the fingers of priests of scared gods. The carry two golden +2 sacred sacrificial daggers of nightmare worth 2000 gold pieces.
- Nine queens of screaming darkness wander this place looking for the eyes of wizards & fools. They are willing to turn one party member into the equivalent of 1/2 their weight in gold or jewels. But in return they want four pints of blood or they will attack as double hit point wights.
- Four undead god princes of Ur's shifting sands are seeking fools for their machinations. These damned things are mummies of Ur & will hit for double damage with a horrid fast acting flesh eating disease that can't be heal except by powerful magic. They want to play a very strange word game taking a small piece of flesh for each loss by the other player. They will give twelve golden disks worth 300 gold pieces to a collector of dread antiquities.
- A giant demonic donkey will appear before the party braying & snapping its hooves leaving imprints of fire & brimstone in the rock around you. The thing wants to know the time & your PC's star sign. A wrong answer will cause the thing to murder one party member. The right answer will produce a flawless jewel worth 600 gold pieces. But the thing may curse the party out of sheer spite.
- A QE appears a floating head made of bubbles of geometric shapes. The QE will sing its home dimension's song of sadness & destruction. This may cause a cleric or wizard to go mad temporarily. The QE may become insulted by this & attack with several nasty spells or curses. The QE may instead gift a single party member with a chaos mutation instead. A gift from the Chaos gods if the QE feels like it.
- A void bird made up the dreams of dead gods & the last breaths of a child appears near the party. It starts to create powerful illusions telling the party's deepest & darkest secrets. There nearby the PC's is a powerful treasure that this thing is guarding.
- Near the party a 'Bara The Nasty' nightmare colony demon thing appears. It will sing several objects into gold but the gold curse is catchy by any appendages touching the Bara. The thing is very dangerous & has alien senses so any rewards or requests might be looked at as an attack.