Saturday, March 8, 2008

Dick's Literary Lightning: Kull and The Screaming Skull of Silence

A creation of prolific fantasy and pulp fiction author Robert E. Howard, stories of Kull are a unique mix of battlefield heroism and the introspective bonds of leadership. During a visit from an ambassador of Pictdom, Kull is told the tale of a castle that houses the Skull of Silence. A manifestation of an imprisoned force of nature that could force silence onto the whole of existence.
Somewhere exists the essence of silence, the soul of silence. Nothing that is something; an absence so absolute that it takes material form. How many of you have ever heard complete silence? None!
Kull and his troops journey to a wild region where the great black castle sits on a lone hill. Against the warning of his advisers, Kull approaches the door where a gong and mallet made of jade sit. Upon opening the door, riders and their steeds drop. Soldiers scream without sound and clutch their heads to stave off the throbbing, billowing waves of still horror. Still standing, Kull looks into the castle and sees nothing. The air around him moves like a wave, the escaping Silence sends a painful vision through his mind.
Men died in gibbering stillness; the roar of rivers, the crash of seas, the noise of winds faltered and ceased to be. All sound was drowned by the Silence. Silence, soul destroying, brain shattering - blotting out of all life on earth -
Kull looks to the gong, realizing it to be a final safe-guard. Like the sea, the gong is never silent and never still. Vibrating and pulsing day and night, the enemy of silence. With each strike, Kull pushes the Silence back into the castle until the Silence gives way to Sound. Like shutting the door to Hell, Kull finally triumphs over the cosmic onslaught on his soul, body and mind.

For the complete tale and many other greats, check out Kull: Exile of Atlantis, a collection of short stories and unfinished drafts, complete with new illustrations created specifically for the volume.