Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Anatomy of a Horror Setting #2-8: Things Man Was Not Meant to Read

Books of spells are a staple of much magical fantasy. They are written and wielded by bearded men in pointy hats and long blue droopy-sleeved robes with silver stars and moons on them. In horror though the books far eclipse the men, women, and children who use them. The authors of these dark books are often irrelevant. Instead the focus is on the content and the materials of which the book is made. The prime example is the “Naturan Demanto” which was bound in human flesh and inked in blood. It is more physically impressive than its famous cousins the “Necronomicon” books--the “Al Azif”; later in history renamed the Necronomicon, and the “Egyptian Book of the Dead”. Other unrelated tomes include the “De Vermis Mysteriis”, the “Book of Eibon”.

The bulk of the dark evil books are roughly divided between two of the schools of magic previously discussed. The first half deals with Necromancy. This is a fitting choice of medium for passing on information given the need to illustrate the practices and procedures for working with bits and pieces of anatomy, as well as the drawings of the pieces themselves. The other half deals with conjurations and summonings, where the magical circles and symbols need to be depicted accurately. Incantations tend more to be passed on verbally, especially since somatic or movement components are required and hard to express in word or drawings. Some texts exist on alchemy, but they are few beyond the diaries and journals of the alchemists.

The generally more modern settings of horror add a distinct dimension to the locations within which these vile magical manuals rest. The books reside in the restricted sections of dusty University libraries. Conversely they can be lovingly shelved in personal collections obscured by numerous volumes hiding the evil trees in the forest. Others yet are locked away in trunks hidden at the back of attics. This is not say that these same books do not exist in more fantasy-based locals. Such places include sitting upon alters in long hidden cities, guarded by the restless dead. They can be in the walled up tower of a castle. Or they can be clutched in dead hands in a crypt, or casket nestled into the ground. Wherever they are someone always finds them and then the malign fun begins.

Mood: studious.
Music: Lights in the Sky by Nine Inch Nails and Welcome Home (Sanitarium) by Rockabye Baby!.

Nine Inch Nails: Slip
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Rockabye Baby!: Lullaby Renditions of Metallica

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