Friday, 4 January 2019

Winter in Lanthanum Chromate

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David McGrogan wanted more Lanthanum Chromate. This is an old, old idea from the blog, the City Without a Name.

I did give it a name, pretty quickly too. It’s still one of the most popular posts. if you go to the original you can still has the original old-style Courier font.

A lot of people have asked me if or when I am going back to Lanthanum Chromate. Well, I have a lot on. But for a short while; now.


Snow boils to steam. A wet and gloomy city, cooked in the steam of dying ice, looks out on a frozen world, a great white plain dotted with migrations of the passing megabeasts and on the fractured and aggressive slate-grey Sea of Eons (not yet broken).

The Hell Mouth glitters with encrustations of coagulated hate and glistering gems of pain.

Sulphurous winds howl - gales from the Sea of Eons tilt the hell-tongue of smoke from the volcanoes lip and lie it flat across the snow, wind so cold that even the ghosts of wolves that haunt the cities ruins will curl up smaller than dreams and hide themselves in drifting thoughts, turning them bloody and wild.

The frozen wind leaves sparkling piss-yellow crystals of hellish discontent blazoned like lateral icicles from glutted gutters and overhanging eaves.

Out on the Stompodont Plains a bright tail of hateful yellow ice lies blazed across the clear land and wild Perytons lunge and bark at each other as they fall from the ashy sky like black leaves to lick the bad ice.

Soot stains the glowing clouds with crawling black demonic signs which hang like poisoned graffiti over the head of the somnolent, unaware world.

The powers of Hell grow strong. Demons skip across the rooftops in the night, dodging the silver-sign strung cables of the Enochian War Kites made to ward against just such attacks. Creatures of the Gibbonomicon, they clamber and cling, chittering and screaming that the last season of the city has come, that spring will never rise for Hell calls, finally, for Lanthanum Chromate.

(Are they the souls of evil monkeys? or simply monkeys from Hell? An ancient riddle, for another time.)

Yet, for all that, they are swiftly beheaded by the silver chakram of the YvesGuard, long-sworn rooftop stalkers of Lanthanum Chromate. Thier heads bite the cobblestones like hail, a sober benediction for a still season, and out in the painfields the Perytons scatter like flies from glimmering shit as, from the North, the Stompodont Mammoth-Centuar-Men arrive to complete their yearly pilgrimage and fulfil, or end, their ancient pledge to the Thane of Sorrows.

The form of the enormous Centuar-Men varies. All have the lower bodies of huge woolly mammoths and the upper bodies of enormous men, or thick-set apes. Some have near-human heads with freezing cyclopean eyes, some the heads of elephants which blast gales of freezing snow from hairy tractomorphic face nozzles.

They wield clubs formed from boulders clutched by tree-roots or axes shaped from huge flint rocks. Others carry small siege bows as men might hold a crossbow - products of their trade with Lanthanum Chromate.

In greeting, the Ultimate Horns are sounded and what population remains gathers in the buildings that line the Brimstone Road, the ceremonial dog-leg thoroughfare up and into the core of Lanthanum Chromate. Spectators rattle demon bones in bags and a confetti of orc-teeth falls from the windows (most local orcs being exterminated, pig teeth are often used instead). Old family Carnyx's are hustled out and roar out greetings.

One by one, the Stompadonts pass, climbing slowly into the burning city core, nodding gravely at those who cheer. Seemingly impassive.

As night falls the Stompodonts arrive before the Grieving Hall. The Thane of Sorrows awaits, armed only with his ceremonial axe Hearts-Edge, he stands alone before the gathered centaur men.

Silence falls. Every year, every time, the hell fire burns upwards like a crowd peeping over a fence, its glow cast down into the waiting city. perhaps this year, it seems to say,  perhaps this time.

The Thane raises Hearts-Edge and runs screaming towards the Stompodont-Men.

The High Smasher of the Stompodonts stamps forth and, by eye or by truck, by whisper or breath, blasts the Thane of Sorrows with a long-stored blue-black plume of murderous ice drawn from the well of cold at the worlds quiet end.

The Thane is frozen.

For so it must be, in memory of the first alliance of the Stompodonts and Lanthanum Chromate, which began at first, not in friendship, but in cruel Demon-born war.

The Thane stands. Froze in a spike-ridged rapid motion blur of solid ice.

Should they fail, they die, and the old alliance fail as well, and the Stompodonts no more return.

So it must be, for ancient wrongs, and the dead and their memory never rest easy, here of all places.

A creak, like birdsong barely heard. A skreel.

The smallest of cracks.

Stillness. The city waits. The Hellfire waves.

The Thane stands immovable beneath the black sheen.

Perhaps this year, says the fire.

A shivering, like the rattling of teacups.

The Stompodonts observe. The High Smasher of all Stompodonts is utterly still, fixated on the cage of death-born black ice.

If a Thane cannot escape, then no Thane they be.

A crack. Unmistakable.

And then a crashing roar!

Black ice explodes, first from flexing muscle, then in a radial torrent from the Thanes whole form as, in one great flex, they hurl off the cage of ice and clamber forwards, smashing through the last remains - advancing on the High Smasher..

Who kneels and embraces their old ally.

Cheers erupt. The great flares are lit. The Hellfire loops and breaches in frustrated rage.

First there will be a great celebration, with much feasting and telling of old tales.

Then, together, the Thane of Sorrows, with all the Old Guard of Lanthanum Chromate, and the High Smasher of the Arctic Stompadonts, will advance to the Calderas Rim.

The Centaur-Men will drive back the flames with their ice eyes and blasting loud noses - and form a road of bright ice, piercing the borders of the damned underworld.

Hearts-Edge is raised.

The Winter Invasion of Hell has begun!