The Double Shadow: A Clark Ashton Smith Podcast

Transcription for Episode 5: “The Colossus of Ylourgne” pt. 1

Show notes for Episode 5

P = Phil, R = Ruth, T = Tim.

R: I have called up in all my years of horror / P: inch by inch, with baleful terror / R: no god nor devil / T: the red moon, ominous and gibbeous / R: no demon nor lich nor shadow / T: had declined above the terraces / P: of the wormy corpses that he dug with his hands from unconsecrated graves / R: and the thing was a streaming ooze of charnal pollution / R: dreaming of conquests / T: It is verily known by few / R: and of vaster necromancies / P: there were people — mostly priests and women, it is told — whom he picked up as they fled / T: It is verily known by few, but is nevertheless an attestable fact / P: and pulled limb from limb as a child might quarter an insect / T, P, R: The Double Shadow — A Clark Ashton Smith Podcast.

T: Hello, and welcome to The Double Shadow, a podcast exploring the weird fiction of 20th-century writer Clark Ashton Smith. I’m Tim.

P: I’m Phil.

R: And I’m Ruth.

T: And this week we’ll be covering the first half of “The Colossus of Ylourgne.”

P: I’m very excited about it. I love this story with all my heart. And so are we going to pronounce it “Ye-lourn” or “E-lourn,” what did we decide?

R: “Ye-lourn,” just because it could really go either way. I don’t know what Smith was thinking, but “Ye-lourn” works better for us English speakers. Please don’t hate us!

T: What would the French pronunciation be?

R: That’s where it throws me. The French “Y” can be flexible. It probably is “Ye-lourn”…

P: [laughing] It can do the splits?

R: [laughing] Shut up.

T: It’s a flexible Y! Get over it!

P: So Tim, what do we know about this story?

T: What do we know? We know that it was written in 1932. It was first accepted to a magazine called Strange Tales in 1932, but that magazine folded before it could be printed. That’s correct, right?

P: Yes.

R: Yeah, Smith was very disappointed in that because at that point he saw Strange Tales and Weird Tales as the two places where he could try to sell his stuff, and so when it folded it left Weird Tales and Farnsworth Wright as the one buyer on the market. So if one person didn’t like the story, then that couldn’t necessarily get published. That was a big problem.

T: But it was finally published in Weird Tales in 1934.

R: Yes, it turns out he didn’t actually have anything to worry about with this story.

P: I thought it was interesting, that that makes it basically almost two full years between the publication of “The Maker of Gargoyles” and this story even though he wrote them only about a year apart. I find that interesting just because I wonder what it would have been like to have been a Weird Tales reader in the 1930s, like if you would have been excited to see another Averoigne tale, or if it just would have been… if you just wouldn’t even have noticed, you know? And I guess I don’t have the answer.

T: Yeah, that would have been rad though, to see these little disparate stories popping up about this same place.

P: The Nightshade edition of the book, in their notes also says that it was “the most popular story in the June 1934 issue of Weird Tales,” but that notation in the back of the edition, it isn’t… they don’t really give a source for that, so I don’t know how they know it was the most popular story. I mean I would have thought it was awesome if I had read it then, so one can assume it was popular, but I would love to know how they qualify that statement or back it up.

R: Perhaps letters to the editor?

P: Yeah, that’s what I was thinking too, but I would… I don’t know. I love the Nightshade editions, I just wish they had a quote from a letter to the editor that was, like, some geek in 1934 saying “Oh my God, I absolutely loved ‘The Colossus of Ylourgne.'” [laughing]

T: “It’s my favorite story of all time!” [laughing]

P: Or at least of that issue…

T: Well, I know it’s a huge hit here at Double Shadow Studios, so…

P: I wish we had a studio.

T: We do. Let’s pretend, in our mind, that we have a studio. This is also, you guys, our first story that features a proper necromancer!

R: Yes!

T: So can we be excited about that? Yes.

R: Both a proper necromancer AND an improper necromancer!

T: That’s true!

R: Double necromancer! Actually there are like a dozen necromancers in this story, come to think about it.

T: Double necromancer!

P: [laughing] No, we have hot, hot necromancer-on-necromancer action! All! Night! Long!

R: [laughing] At least there’s no necrophilia in this one. I’m very happy about that.

P: In a sense, though, when I was reading it I experienced necrophilia ’cause I was loving those dead bodies so much! But not in a sexual way, just in like a love kind of way. So anyway, uh…

T: Necromantic.

P: [laughing] Yeah, necromantic. The other thing that I think is fascinating about this story — and I don’t know, maybe we should talk about this at the end but I’m just going to talk about it now because that’s where I put it in the notes — is that we know from letters that in 1935 that Universal Pictures, the Hollywood people approached Clark Ashton Smith about some of his stories and he sent them “The Colossus of Ylourgne” and another story that we’re going to be doing later called “The Dark Eidolon,” and it seems like maybe Universal was somewhat interested because apparently Smith went to the trouble of getting the film rights released from Weird Tales, but then nothing came of it. I guess the studio changed management in 1935, and then they were like “screw it, we don’t want your crazy tales.” But I really, really, REALLY wish that Clark Ashton Smith stories fell into the canon of first generation Universal monsters.

T: Yeah, ’cause that was significant, right?

P: Yeah, they’re hugely significant, and you know… like, Tod Browning had already made ‘Dracula,’ and James Whale had already made both ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘Bride of Frankenstein,’ and it would have been amazing to see what they would have done with this story.

R: How do you think that would have affected Smith’s recognition nowadays? Even though they probably would have changed the story, do you think that would have made them more popular? Like, the reason ‘Dracula’ has traction is because of those early movies and ‘Nosferatu’ — not that it’s not a great story, but…

P: Yeah, it’s hard to say. It would certainly be… if they had given it the same kind of treatment, I think it totally would have changed his level of popularity. I feel like he would probably be viewed as one of the stranger iconic Universal… I mean I guess the monster would be the Colossus or whatever, but it would certainly be something that people would know about, you know? Maybe not everybody on the street, but certainly everybody who likes horror movies and are into Hollywood history and those kind of things would probably know all about him. ‘Cause I’ve spent a lot of time just sort of sitting around thinking about this weird thing that never happened. Even if they had endeavored to make the movie and it had been a “colossal” (get it?) failure, that would be awesome too because, I don’t know, stories of rampant, out of control Hollywood production are always fascinating. So I just wish that something had come of it more than just a letter back and forth and, now, the tears I shed into my pillow every night.

R: Well just think, Phil, maybe you can auction it from the Clark Ashton Smith estate, and, um…

P: [laughing] And then I’ll get somebody to give me millions to make a stop-motion movie in the style of the 1930s studios!

T: Yes!

R: Just cast me as Gaspard’s girlfriend.

P: Gaspard is a loner, honey. He doesn’t need a girlfriend!

R: If you’re doing a 1930s style rewrite, he has to have a love interest! The daughter of a local clergyman… but, oh wait, these are Catholic never mind.

T: Yeah, but he’s a sorcerer, so he does what he wants.

P: I have to say, not to get too specific, but the evil antagonist in ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ is played by this very arch, kind of campy guy who would have made a great Nathaire, even though he’s not a dwarf. So there’s lots to think about. But maybe we should get into the story.

T: So, what’s this story about? How does it start?

R:

[reading]

Part I: The Flight of the Necromancer.

The thrice-infamous Nathaire, alchemist, astrologer and necromancer, with his ten devil-given pupils, had departed very suddenIy and under circumstances of strict secrecy from the town of Vyones. It was widely thought, among the people of that vicinity, that his departure had been prompted by a salutary fear of ecclesiastical thumbscrews and faggots. Other wizards, less notorious than he, had already gone to the stake during a year of unusual inquisitory zeal; and it was well-known that Nathaire had incurred the reprobation of the Church. Few, therefore, considered the reason of his going a mystery; but the means of transit which he had employed, as well as the destination of the sorcerer and his pupils, were regarded as more than problematic.

T: So this story takes place in Vyones again.

P: Yep.

R: Mm-hmm. After the cathedral’s been completed; it’s a proper cathedral city.

T: And we know that apparently there’s been a bunch of witch hunts or wizard-hunts, because other wizards have been burned at the stake. [laughs]

P: Which, again, I just love Vyones. because I wonder: who were these other wizards? And how were they caught, and for what were they burned? There’s so many interesting questions that come up in the cracks of this story, and I think that’s the very first one: how many necromancers can a city like Vyones support?

R: A lot, it’s a big city.

P: And there’s a lot of need for the black arts, I guess.

R: And Nathaire has ten pupils.

T: Ten “devil-given” pupils.

R: It’s a bustling market.

P: In the next part of the story they sort of discuss how the people of Vyones know that Nathaire has gone away, and the first — again, this story is full of fascinating little details that speak to the larger world of Vyones — and this is the first one, I think. These characters, they don’t have names, but they talk about how they know that his house is empty because two… I can only describe them as very brave thieves, had broken in and found it empty, totally empty. And it sounds like a pretty big house so there should have been a lot of stuff in there, and nobody’s seen them go, but there’s nothing in the house for the thieves to take. That’s the only mention of the thieves, which is amazing to me.

R: Eleven guys evacuating a house is a big deal. Or not evacuating it, as the case may be.

T: So this thrice-infamous Nathaire is some sort of wizard or necromancer who just up and leaves.

[reading]

It was said by the more devout and religious moiety that the Archfiend, with a legion of bat-winged assistants, had borne them away bodily at moonless midnight. There were clerics, and also reputable burghers, who professed to have seen the flight of man-like shapes upon the blotted stars together with others that were not men, and to have heard the wailing cries of the hell-bound crew as they passed in an evil cloud over the roofs and city walls.

So I guess they flew away?

R: And also all their luggage with them. I’m very impressed. Nathaire is clearly a necromancer who knows what he’s doing, because all these other ones that get burned and whatnot, nope. Not only does he disappear. Not only does he disappear with ten of his pupils — over the city walls, apparently, with fiends and whatnot. He takes all his stuff with him too! This is a grade-A sorcerer! This is a guy who knows what he’s doing!

T: I’d rather hire him than those man-with-a-van things when you move.

P: Not only does he know what he’s doing, he knows what he’s doing with STYLE.

R: Nathaire’s kind of interesting in a few other ways too, in that he’s not your ordinary tall guy like Hugh du Malinbois, for example. He’s a dwarf, and they say that his mother was a dwarfish sorceress. Oh, and his father was Alastor, demon of revenge. Kind of like Modo, the spirit of murder. I bet they hang out and get beers on the weekends.

T: Yeah, that’s interesting that he’s a dwarf. I liked the paragraph where Smith kind of gives a little background on Nathaire, or supposed background because nobody really knows, but they have rumors and suspicions that he had traveled in Orient lands and learned from Egyptian or Saracenic masters the art of necromancy. I also like that the people of Vyones — and I would not want to live in this city by the way — but they would go to him to have their horoscopes read or fortunes told, but as soon as it became weird they started chucking rocks at him. It says “once in the third year after his coming to Vyones, he had been stoned in public because of his bruited necromancies.” But in the sentence before, he says “many had sought his advice and assistance in the furthering of their own more or less dubious affairs.”

R: Kind of sucks to be him. He kind of reminds me of Blaise Reynard from our previous story who just looked funny, and was just a little bit odd and wasn’t nearly as obviously… well, Nathaire was, “evil-er.” But parts of this story feel like an expanded version of “Maker of Gargoyles” where the antagonist — and in this case, it’s a definite antagonist — has much more agency and much more interest in the revenge part. It’s a similar story: the people of Vyones go up against someone very talented and “spiritually inclined,” and it does not end well for them.

T: Yeah. And we’ll get to it when we do Zothique, but “The Dark Eidolon” kind of echoes this as well. But this is neither the time nor place to talk about “The Dark Eidolon.”

R: Oo, it really does though.

P: So this whole first chapter does a great job of setting up Vyones. It sets up Vyones again and it does a really great job of setting up Nathaire as a figure that everybody’s gossiping about and wondering about. I love the people of Vyones. Following Tim, I probably wouldn’t want to live there, but they just love to gossip, and to sort of flirt with the dark arts, and then just burn anybody instantly as soon as things get too hot. But then they say, and this plays later into the story, that one reason he may have left aside from the Inquisition is that he may have read his own horoscope. I don’t know if they use the word “horoscope,” but he may have read the bones of his own life and saw that he was dying, and he may have just left because he wanted to die in peace, which is a really optimistic view of what Nathaire might be up to, but I like the idea that they’re willing to put it out there. Maybe he just went someplace to die, who knows.

T: Absolutely, but we also get our introduction to Gaspard du Nord.

R: [sighs] I gotta swoon over here.

T: I know! I picture, if this were made into a movie now, Gaspard du Nord would be played by Ryan Gosling.

R: I can’t agree with you there, but then I’m not really into Ryan Gosling.

P: I want to know who Ruth would cast as Gaspard du Nord.

T: Yeah.

R: Hmmm… Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Young, not too young now, but young, slightly optimistic, and you can see him as sort of boy-faced and hopeful, and having learned his lesson.

T: So who is Gaspard du Nord?

R: Well he used to be one of Nathaire’s ten apprentices, or however many he had back then. I don’t know if he just keeps ten or what. But he is “a student of the proscribed sciences, who had been numbered for a year among the pupils of Nathaire but had chosen to withdraw quietly from the master’s household after learning the enormities that would attend his further initiation. He had, however, taken with him much rare and peculiar knowledge, together with a certain insight into the baleful powers and night-dark motives of the necromancer.” Also a magic mirror.
P: Yeah. He has a magic mirror which has as a border intertwined golden vipers or something?

R: Mm-hm. This guy has cojones, he stole Nathaire’s magic mirror when he left.

P: It’s pretty intense. It’s pretty brave, given Nathaire’s powers and abilities. And this chapter ends with a great little tiny vignette of Gaspard in his, like — I don’t know if he describes it as a small room but we kind of learn later that it’s a small room.

T: Yeah, it’s an attic room.

P: A sparsely-furnished attic, and he is gazing into his magic mirror…

T: Let me interrupt you for one second, Phil. Where are you right now?

P: Where am I? [T: Yeah] Like, physically? In my attic.

T: Are you in a sparsely-furnished attic?

P: I am in fact in an attic, sparsely-furnished room, it’s true. I don’t have… I wish that I had a…

T. Magic mirror. But not to look at your own comely and youthful, though subtly lined face.

[all laugh]

R: See, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, he’s be perfect for this.

P: [laughing] I can’t finish it now, you have to finish it!

T: I’m sorry, OK. Right, he has this magic mirror and he’s looking into it and he’s seeing… [R: Something.] Yeah, he’s seeing…

P: A “sinister glimpse” is what it says.

T: You do it, you’re back on track.

P: [laughs] So Gaspard knows that Nathaire has left, and he’s trying to use this mirror to see just where the hell this evil little dwarf went to. And he manages to summon the image, but only for a split second. He’s gets a “sinister glimpse” of Nathaire’s present activities, and then suddenly Nathaire casts a counter-spell — it’s very D&D — which occludes the image in the mirror, and Gaspard is left as blind as he was before, just sort of filled with a sense that something bad is happening. But he doesn’t know yet the form or the name of what it might be.

T: And that’s pretty awesome. That would be a great scene in a film.

P: Right! Especially with 1935-style special effects!

R: I would see Nathaire turning suddenly over his shoulder. He knows he’s being watched. He raises his staff, he says a few words, and suddenly the mirror goes “thwup.”

P: Which takes us into Part II…

R:

[Reading]

Part II: The Gathering of the Dead.

T: And so now we get an actual date for when this is happening right?

R: Yes, it’s happening in 1281.

T: So this takes place after “Maker of Gargoyles” by a considerable amount of years.

P: Yeah. Like, over a century, 140-odd years since “Maker of Gargoyles.” And I don’t know — I should have gone back to look at the description of Vyones in “Maker of Gargoyles” to see if Vyones had a wall in that story. I don’t remember.

T: I don’t think he ever went into that concrete detail.

P: It definitely has a wall now, which is slightly significant later on. But I tried to do a little research to see if there is any particular reason why Smith would have chosen 1281 as a year, and I couldn’t find much. The pope authorized the crusade against the Byzantine empire, and that’s really about the only interesting thing that I could find. So it feels a little bit arbitrary to me, like sort of an amorphous medieval date, but if anybody can come up with a better rationale, I would love to know it.

T: So Nathaire disappears in late spring of 1281, and then in early summer, something starts happening in the region.

P:

[reading]

It was found one day, by grave-diggers who had gone early to their toil in a cemetery outside the walls of Vyones, that no less than six newly occupied graves had been opened, and the bodies, which were those of reputable citizens, removed. On closer examination, it became all too evident that this removal had not been effected by robbers. The coffins, which lay aslant or stood protruding upright from the mould, offered all the appearance of having been shattered from within as if by the use of extrahuman strength; and the fresh earth itself was upheaved, as if the dead men, in some awful, untimely resurrection, had actually dug their way to the surface. The corpses had vanished utterly, as if hell had swallowed them; and, as far as could be learned, there were no eyewitnesses of their fate. In those devil-ridden times, only one explanation of the happening seemed credible: demons had entered the graves and had taken bodily possession of the dead, compelling them to arise and go forth.

T: I love that that’s the only explanation.

R: [laughs] With a missing necromancer on the loose, oh yeah, just demons. Nothing to do with that incredibly powerful necromancer that vanished in the middle of the night with a ton of stuff.

P: I just need to point out this sentence as being fascinating because let’s say… he says “in those devil-ridden times.” [T: Yeah.] Now let’s say this had happened in 2012. What, in our less devil-ridden times, what would our explanation possibly be? Like, I feel like in any…

R: Zombies! Sorry. [laughs]

P: [laughs] True, but I guess what I’m saying is there aren’t that many explanations for this regardless of whether it’s a devil-ridden time or not.

T: There’s not a huge checklist for why the dead are rising.

R: [laughs]

P: [laughing] Exactly. And I also like that this sentence to me feels like he’s trying to say they’re wrong, but they’re kind of dead-on.

T: No, they’re absolutely dead-on. This is exactly what’s happening. And it’s also interesting that, because in “Maker of Gargoyles” he also talks about the Averoigne region being completely saturated with monsters and devils, so, you know, it’s just, of course this is what happens, this is what Averoigne is like. It’s devil-ridden.

P: And this of course isn’t the only time that this happens. Many corpses are found to be missing, and it turns into a bit of an epidemic. I mean it’s not unlike the epidemic of gargoyle-related murder that happened in “Maker of Gargoyles.” It’s just a thing that starts to happen over and over again, and just sort of once again strikes fear into the hearts of everybody in Vyones.

R: But it’s not all of the corpses.

P: Tell us what makes them… what links all the cases.

R:

[reading]

In every case, the missing bodies were those of young stalwart men who had died but recently and had met their death through violence or accident rather than wasting illness. Some were criminals who had paid the penalty of their misdeeds; others were men-at-arms or constables, slain in the execution of their duty. Knights who had died in tourney or personal combat were numbered among them; and many were the victims of the robber bands who infested Vyones at the time. There were monks, merchants, nobles, yeomen, pages, priests; but none, in any case, who had passed the prime of life. The old and infirm, it seemed, were safe from the animating demons.

P: So it’s only the young and the healthy that are affected by this crazy epidemic of risen corpses. And only men too, which is strangely misogynistic [T and R laugh] of whatever demons are out there. There are strong women, I mean…

T: So yeah, they get up like zombies, right, and they’re sluggish and they’re moaning…

R: Nope.

T: What?

P: Nope, that is not correct, Tim.

R: No! In fact, the “newly ceremented corpses leapt from their biers or catafalques, and disregarding the horrified watchers, ran with great bounds of automatic frenzy into the night.”

T: “Automatic frenzy,” guys.

P: I know! It’s so good! It’s so damn good!

R: Before there were running zombies, there were these… whatever they are.

P: And I just like… “automatic frenzy” makes it sound like they stand up, and they scream, and they flail their arms in the air and just bolt for the nearest door. Which… [T: It’s amazing.] … is TERRIFYING! That’s not what you want your dead dad to do, I guess. I mean, it’s still pretty notably bizarre.

T: Yeah. And here we get another theme that Smith seems to be very keen on in all of his stories. In fact, in each story we’ve read, this has come up, how the church is completely and utterly powerless to stop this. No matter what they do, they can’t halt it, they can’t stop it, they can’t slow it, they’re completely powerless.

R: Yes, not unlike in “Gargoyles.” They try exorcism, they try holy water on the bodies… same thing.

P: I like that… because in my mind, the people of Vyones are a little bit hysterical, he says “even the most liberal sprinkling of holy water.” In my mind, they’re just taking corpses and just dumping them into vats of holy water. It’s not a sprinkling, we’re just going to saturate them in holy water and hope they don’t get up. And then of course they do. Like in “Gargoyles,” again, everybody sort of thinks that the world is ending, basically, and people go a little bit bonkers about it. And they’re all too scared to bother to follow these crazy running zombies, so nobody really knows for a while exactly where they’re going.

R: But fortunately, or unfortunately, they start running into travelers who are on the road and just have these leaping, bounding corpses start coming by.

P: They come by either singly, or sometimes they’re in groups, which is also awesome to me. It’s like occasionally you might just see one, and occasionally you might see like, oh look, it’s a traveling party of ten minstrels, oh no wait, it’s ten running ghouls…

T: Liches.

P: Yeah!

R: Fortunately they’re not paying attention to any of these people, they’re not stopping…

T: No, they’re totally insensate.

[Reading]

The general direction of their flight, it seemed, was eastward; but only with the cessation of the exodus, which had numbered several hundred people, did any one begin to suspect the actual destination of the dead.

This destination, it somehow became rumoured, was the ruinous castle of Ylourgne, beyond the werewolf-haunted forest, in the outlying, semi-mountainous hills of Averoigne.

Ylourgne, a great, craggy pile that had been built by a line of evil and marauding barons now extinct, was a place that even the goatherds preferred to shun. The wrathful spectres of its bloody lords were said to move turbulently in its crumbling halls; and its chatelaines were the Undead. No one cared to dwell in the shadow of its cliff-founded walls; and the nearest abode of living men was a small Cistercian monastery, more than a mile away on the opposite slope of the valley.

R: Cistercians are kind of especially cloistered people. They’re not just Benedictines like our liberal group of Benedictines in “The End of the Story.” Some Cistercians nowadays, they’ve sort of split off from the main order, but are Trappist monks, they’re very quiet, they’re very reserved, they take lots of vows of silence. So they’re not gossipping a lot about what they’re seeing.

T: But what kind of forest is it by?

P: [dramatic laughter] You fool! Of course there are werewolves!

T: It is a “WEREWOLF-HAUNTED forest!” So there’s got to be a werewolf in this, right?

R: Not really. It’s just another werewolf tease for Phil.

P: … by name only.

T: But I also love that it was a place that even the goatherds preferred to shun. Because you know those goatherds, they’ll go anywhere.

P: The goatherds in a sense… well no, that’s not actually true. I was going to try to make a pitch for the goatherds as heroes of this story, but then I realized that doesn’t make sense, so…

T: No.

P: [sighs]

R: Scratch that.

T: All of the dead are heading to Ylourgne, this run-down castle of ill repute.

R: But the monks don’t see the dead going in, not at first. They just think it’s a little bit weird going on over there. They notice that there are…

[Reading]

…flaring lights, where lights should not have been: flames of uncanny blue and crimson that shuddered behind the broken, weed-grown embrasures or rose starwards above the jagged crenelations. Hideous noises had issued from the ruin by night together with the flames; and the monks had heard a clangour as of hellish anvils and hammers, a ringing of gigantic armour and maces, and had deemed that Ylourgne was become a mustering-ground of devils. Mephitic odours as of brimstone and burning flesh had floated across the valley; and even by day, when the noises were silent and the lights no longer flared, a thin haze of hell-blue vapour hung upon the battlements.

Next room I paint: hell-blue.

T: [laughing] I know!

P: I think this is a classically Clark Ashton Smith-y passage where he sort of runs through an array of senses to give you a really evocative portrait or picture of an atmosphere and a hint of what’s going on. It reminds me for no — well, I guess for a particular reason of that Tom Waits song “What’s He Building in There?” Because you have to start to wonder, what ARE they building in there?

T: We have a right to know.

R: Actually, they don’t think that they do.

P: Yeah, they see it and they’re just kind of like “oh man, that place is abandoned, the devil is up to some [bleeped] in there, we’re going to stay on our side of the valley and wait it out.

R: Be more pious.

P: [laughing] Yeah, we’re going to pray harder.

T: ‘Cause that always works.

R: And again, this is another place where Smith is setting up the Church people versus the necromancers. And they’re starting to hear the rumors that there are bodies just walking out of Vyones. So they start to watch, and sure enough, bodies are kind of converging en masse at Ylourgne.

T: “Hundreds of these liches, they swore, had filed by beneath the monastery.”

P: That’s such a terrifying thing to see late at night, and especially given the fact that it’s kind of far away, to me, makes it scarier for some reason, just because there’s this weird — like it’s not an immediate threat, but it’s like the promise of a horrible threat to come, just makes it really unsettling to me.

R: And thats why I’m not surprised that one of the monks, Theophile, gets totally wasted on their wine and then falls on the rocks outside and breaks his neck. I assume he was probably, like, watcing liches at the time.

P: This is, I guess we’ll call him awesome side character number 2 in this story — our two thieves are the first — drunken Theophile is awesome side character number 2. Awesome just for being the guy who loves to drink, you know? [T laughs] He’s just a monk who likes to have a good time!

R: I think he’s really depressed. I think he’s terrified, so he’s trying to drink not to think about the fact that there are these freaking zombies, liches walking by his abbey every day, and that nobody of Vyones has been able to stop it.

P: It does say that perhaps, “no doubt he had tried to drown his pious horror at these untoward happenings.”

R: Pious horror.

P: But then it goes… the sentence is phrased thusly: “no doubt he had tried to drown his pious horror… at any rate, after his potations…” So the narrator really doesn’t even know. The narrator is just hypothesizing that maybe he was trying to drown his — I like to think of Theophile as the party animal of the monastery.

R: His neck is broken, and they start saying the Mass for him, and kind of like in “Maker of Gargoyles” where they were saying the Mass for the abbot, and the gargoyle just breaks in and extinguishes all the tapers and whatnot…

P:

[Reading]

These masses, in the dark hours before morning, were interrupted by the untimely resurrection of the dead monk, who, with his head lolling horribly on his broken neck, rushed as if fiend-ridden from the chapel and ran down the hill towards the demon flames and clamours of Ylourgne.

P: I love this because of the phrasing “untimely resurrection of the dead monk,” which strikes me as a really, like, a comedic way to say this. Like, if he had done it at a different time, maybe it would have been OK, but the fact that he did it now… like, I don’t know, there seems to be kind of an irony, an amused irony itself in that line, which I like.

R: Well, we know that he’ll rise again at the Resurrection on the Last Day.

T: Right.

P: That’s true. And this just happens to be the wrong time.

T: Right, it’s untimely.

P: And again, it doesn’t say that he screams, but in my mind it’s like he wakes up, like, tongue lolling out of his horribly lopsided mouth [R: Oh jeez…] and just lets out a horrible falsetto scream and then just runs out of the chapel.

T: Yeah, it’s actually a really terrifying image.

R: At least this spurs the monks to action, which takes us to our third part…

[reading]

Part III: The Testimony of the Monks.

T: So now we have our two hero clerics.

P: Which is our next awesome side character(s).

T: Yep, two lusty monks, Stephane and Bernard. They want to do something about it, they want to find out, they want to investigate, and bring the fight to the demons. They get leave to do so, and they grab their “aspergilluses,” their flasks of holy water, and great crosses of hornbeam, as Smith states it, “such as would have served for maces with which to brain an armoured knight.” So these guys are badasses!

P: But this is my question. Now, a hornbeam cross, are those, like, ornamental Christian crosses that they’re just taking to use as weapons, or are they, like, weapons that just happen to be in the shape of a cross?

R: I think they’re just plain crosses.

P: But they’re just heavy, and you could beat a dude in the face with one.

R: Yeah, they’re just made out of a really heavy wood so they’ve got an extra… duty.

T: Who would play Bernard and Stephane in the movie?

P: I would play them both.

[R and T laugh]

R: Fair enough.

P: [laughing] It would be the worst performance. You can’t even imagine.

R: And they’re kind of ballsy dudes, because they sneak into Ylourgne, they see the fires, and they just go in chanting and exorcising. They’re not going like sneakity-sneak-sneak, they’re just going in, you know, “by the power of Christ” and all of that stuff, and they walk straight into the scene of all of this chaos, and they’re still chanting and exorcising.

P: These monks clearly have never played Dungeons & Dragons.

T: No.

R: [laughs]

P: Nobody enters a room this way!

T: Well this is interesting, this section:

[Reading]

Approaching the doorway, the brothers beheld a gleaming of red fires within, like the eyes of dragons blinking through infernal murk. They felt sure that the place was an outpost of Erebus, an ante-chamber of the Pit; but nevertheless, they entered bravely, chanting loud exorcisms and brandishing their mighty crosses of hornbeam.

T: So essentially they believe they’re entering Hell, and they just do it. That’s… that’s faith.

P: That’s true, yeah.

R: Forget Gaspard, I love these guys.

[Reading]

A monstrous scene was limned before them, with evergrowing details of crowding horror and grotesquery. Some of the details were obscure and mysteriously terrifying; others, all too plain, were branded as if with sudden, ineffaceable hell-fire on the minds of the monks.

They stood on the threshold of a colossal chamber, which seemed to have been made by the tearing down of upper floors and inner partitions adjacent to the castle hall, itself a room of huge extent. The chamber seemed to recede through interminable shadow, shafted with sunlight falling through the rents of ruin: sunlight that was powerless to dissipate the infernal gloom and mystery.

The monks averred later that they saw many people moving about the place, together with sundry demons, some of whom were shadowy and gigantic, and others barely to be distinguished from the men. These people, as well as their familiars, were occupied with the tending of reverberatory furnaces and immense pear-shaped and gourd-shaped vessels such as were used in alchemy. Some, also, were stooping above great fuming cauldrons, like sorcerers, busy with the brewing of terrible drugs. Against the opposite wall, there were two enormous vats, built of stone and mortar, whose circular sides rose higher than a man’s head, so that Bernard and Stephane were unable to determine their contents. One of the vats gave forth a whitish glimmering; the other, a ruddy luminosity.

Near the vats, and somewhat between them, there stood a sort of low couch or litter, made of luxurious, weirdly figured fabrics such as the Saracens weave. On this the monks discerned a dwarfish being, pale and wizened, with eyes of chill flame that shone like evil beryls through the dusk. The dwarf, who had all the air of a feeble moribund, was supervising the toils of the men and their familiars.

The dazed eyes of the brothers began to comprehend other details. They saw that several corpses, among which they recognized that of Theophile, were lying on the middle floor, together with a heap of human bones that had been wrenched asunder at the joints, and great lumps of flesh piled like the carvings of butchers. One of the men was lifting the bones and dropping them into a cauldron beneath which there glowed a rubycoloured fire; and another was flinging the lumps of flesh into a tub filled with some hueless liquid that gave forth an evil hissing as of a thousand serpents.

Others had stripped the grave-clothes from one of the cadavers, and were starting to assail it with long knives. Others still were mounting rude flights of stone stairs along the walls of the immense vats, carrying vessels filled with semi-liquescent matters which they emptied over the high rims.

T: Yikes. Um, it—

P: It’s a bad scene.

T: It is a bad scene. It just hit me that Theophile would be translated as what, “God-lover?”

R: “God-lover,” yeah. “Lover of God.”

T: And… gosh. Now he’s… stuck like this. That’s… really terrifying. So they see these demons have cored out this castle to make it just one big chamber, and they’ve got giant vats with glowing liquid in them, they’re cutting up dead bodies and chucking them into the vats.

P: It’s such an impressive vignette. Like, I can’t even think of a scene like this in anything else I’ve read, I don’t think. ‘Cause usually it’s sort of like, you have your monster and your monster is going to be a monster, and it’s a little bit like a blowing-up of the Frankenstein conceit in some sense, but it’s also still just… it’s like one of those weird, um… almost like something out of Hieronymous Bosch or something, or like some weird medieval demon-obsessed woodcut. [R: Mm-hm.] And it’s just so awesome.

T: Here’s my… I don’t want to call it a “theory,” my idea about why Clark Ashton Smith truly deserves to be, like, in the triumvirate of the weird fictionists. ‘Cause you have Lovecraft, who’s the one who’s obsessed with veracity and creating these worlds that could be real, with these monsters that also happen to be in it. Then you have Howard, who is barbarians and ancient sorcery, adadrenaline-pumping stories. But then you have Smith, who is all about — and you used this phrase last time, Phil, in “Maker of Gargoyles,” he’s all about escalation. It’s not about… he’ll start out with horror, and then he’ll build on that horror, and he’ll just keep making it worse and worse. So he starts out with bad things, and then it’s all about “how bad can I make this? How awful can things get before everybody just gives up?”

P: I agree with that theory. Yeah, I think he belongs in the canon for a number of reasons, and not just because of his, um, because he knew them. Definitely, he takes the situation and yeah, just plays it totally to the hilt. Which is pretty cool. So the monks, after seeing Theophile being… uh… I don’t even know, what verb would you use to describe what they’re doing to the bodies? The English language fails me. [laughs] I have no idea.

T: Yeah, they’re completely… cutting…

R: Desecrating.

T: Yeah, absolutely.

P: Yeah, desecrating, but also, it’s like some kind of weird gaudy horror alchemy where they’re like taking the bones and the flesh, and putting them in these big, bubbling… it’s like a horrible chemistry set or something.

R: [laughs]

T: Yeah, they’re literally melting down bodies. What do they call that in, um…

P: Smelting?

T: No, for, like, there’s an actual word like when they melt down animal bones and animal fat… I think they use it when they’re making soap, there’s a specific word. [P: Oh, right.] Maybe I’ll remember it.

R: Only if you want to make a specialty line of soaps.

T: Yeah, I don’t think that’s what they’re doing. Right?

P: Yeah, I don’t think they’re making a giant bar of soap. [laughs] So they see the body of their dead brother, and not unlike before, instead of saying “we’re going to go back and get more monk help,” they’re like “screw it, it is ON.” And they run into the middle of this brandishing their holy water, and their — I’m assuming they have holy water because they have the aspergillum and their crosses — and on the way in they catch the sight of our next awesome side character, who’s already dead, but his name is Jacques Le Loupgarou. And… Loupgarou, Ruth, do you want to tell us what his last name means?

R: His name is Jack the Werewolf. [T laughs]

P: Yeah! [T starts to speak] Sorry, Tim, tell us about Le Loupgarou.

T: Well first, it’s called “rendering,” when you boil down fats. [P and R: Aahh.] First of all, Jacques Le Loupgarou is my favorite character in this story. Also, I think that all the mentions of “loup-garou” in the stories were about him and his clan. I don’t have anything to back it up, [P laughs] … but he is a notorious outlaw, and he was slain a few days previous in combat with the officers of the state. He was noted for his brawn, and cunning, and his ferocity, and he had long terrorized the woods and highways of Averoigne. Which, I guess there is my proof that any time he mentions a “werewolf-haunted forest,” it’s Jacques Le Loupgarou.

R: They’re actually talking about this guy.

T: Yeah.

P: This is… [sigh] I just love it. There’s no reason to give us this detail, but he does, and it just fills me with love that I have this bizarre side-story in the middle of this hellish scene, and suddenly I’m thinking to myself exactly what Tim is saying, “well, is he the werewolf that everyone’s talking about?”

T: What’s his story?

P: [laughs] What’s going on there?

T: “His great body had been half eviscerated by the swords of the constabulary; and his beard was stiff and purple with the dried blood of a ghastly wound that had cloven his face from temple to mouth. He had died unshriven, but nevertheless, the monks were unwilling to see his helpless cadaver put to some unhallowed use beyond the surmise of Christians.” So he’s a giant naked dude with his face cut open!

P: I just can’t help but think that a lesser writer would have just said “and there was another corpse,” because, well, what happens we’ll say, but we don’t need to know his name, we don’t need to know he’s this, like, giant…

T: Notorious outlaw.

P: Yeah! [laughs] Who just happens to have been killed a couple of days prior. So anyway…

T: What happens next?

R: They’re very brave monks, they come in exorcising and Nathaire spots them! Gee.

P: Surprise.

T: Wait, I just pictured then exercising, like doing calisthenics into the room.

R: … no.

P: They’re lifting their hornbeam staffs like dumbbells.

R: So after Nathaire spots them, he lets out an incantation and suddenly some of his minions grab this liquid, and we don’t know what it is. It’s not permanently damaging, but they throw it on them and it temporarily blinds them. And they freak out, and they pass out. And when they wake up, they’re bound up and Nathaire is taunting them.

P: This is the best line ever written in the English language. I’m just gonna throw that out right now, and I defy anybody to come up with a better… [laughing] I can’t even stand by that. It’s not the best, but it is awesome.

T: It’s one of the best. Top ten at least. Read it for us.

P: Nathaire says to the bound monks…

[Reading, with distorted voice]

“Return to your kennel, ye whelps of Ialdabaoth, and take with you this message: They that came here as many shall go forth as one.”

P: And it’s awesome. Now this statement I find fascinating because Ialdabaoth is a name that comes from apocryphal or Gnostic Christianity, basically, and it’s like what you would call God if you viewed Him to be a cruel and horrible creator of the Universe. I said in our show notes that it’s a little bit like what you might call God if you were on Satan’s side. I’m not entirely up on my history of how that name enters into, I don’t know, not “common” knowledge, but even scholarly knowledge, because it appears in the Apocryphon of John and some of the other books that were found at Nag Hammadi. But that wasn’t found until 1945, so that’s 15 years after this. I think that Clark Ashton Smith probably got the name from the Pistis Sophia, which is a Gnostic text that was found, I think in the 18th century. But I think it’s a fascinating detail, and it’s interesting because to me at least it’s Smith sort of saying that Nathaire isn’t a simplistic Satanist, he’s like a philosophic Satanist or something. Like, he genuinely views God to be in the wrong and himself in the right. I might be reading a little bit too much into his use of that name, but that’s what I get from it. And I think it’s really awesome.

T: Yeah, it’s a great little detail. Great stuff.

P: I mean I would absolutely love to know… I unfortunately wasn’t able to do too much research into how that word… like I was saying, like how Clark Ashton Smith would have come across it or what it would have meant to him exactly, but I would love to know where he stumbled across it and those sorts of things.

T: Yeah. Beyond that, he drops a great hint about what’s to come. “They that came here as many shall go forth as one.”

R: And then we see something kind of interesting after he’s done this, because they talk about the idea of these demons entering the bodies, and that’s the surmise of all of the Vyones residents, and he speaks a dreadful formula and two of the familiars who were currently like shadowy beasts, enter the bodies of Le Loupgarou and Brother Theophile! And suddenly they take possession of those bodies from inside, and get up and… well…

T:

[Reading]

Then, when the demons had completed their possession, the bodies, in a fashion horrible to behold, were raised up from the castle floor, the one with ravelled entrails hanging from its wide wounds, the other with a head that dropped forward loosely on its bosom. Then, animated by their devils, the cadavers took up the crosses of hornbeam that had been dropped by Stephane and Bernard; and using the crosses for bludgeons, they drove the monks in ignominious flight from the castle, amid a loud, tempestuous howling of infernal laughter from the dwarf and his necromantic crew. And the nude corpse of Le Loupgarou and the robed cadaver of Theophile followed them far on the chasm-riven slopes below Ylourgne, striking great blows with the crosses, so that the backs of the two Cistercians were become a mass of bloody bruises.

R: That’s amazing.

T: Yeah.

P: Yeah, it really is. I love the corpses in this story. [laughs] Like, I love a nude man and a robed monk, like, beating these poor…

T: Yeah, a nude man with his guts hanging out, and with a dwarf howling at them with his “necromantic crew,” who I picture like a rap crew kind of.

R: Oh gosh.

P: [laughing]

R: Now what’s interesting about the monks is that when they get back, instead of sounding the general alarm, they are very Cistercian, they are very reserved to their monastery, so they just go about their business, but moreso. “The whole monastery, thereafter, devoted itself to triple austerities and quadrupled prayers.”

P: [laughing] That I find hilarious too. Like, they didn’t just double. They tripled them and quadrupled them, because what else are they gonna do? Actually, here, this is why the goatherds are the heroes of the story, because if the goatherds hadn’t… basically I guess the monks speak to the goatherds, so if they hadn’t done that, and if the goatherds hadn’t made their way back to Vyones, then nothing of the later story except the horrible bits would have happened.

T: The last little paragraph of this section, I kind of felt was a little weird. I’ll just read it quick: “Everyone felt, however, that some gigantic menace, some black, infernal enchantment, was being brewed within the ruinous walls. The malign, moribund dwarf was all too readily identified with the missing sorcerer, Nathaire; and his underlings, it was plain, were Nathaire’s pupils.” Like, I wonder if he thought we wouldn’t get it? Maybe we would think that there were two dwarves and be confused? I don’t know. Unless he just wanted to add some kind of black cloud before going into the next…

P: Yeah, it feels to me like…

T: Almost like a “tune in next week for…”

P: Yeah. And those lines sort of feel like they’re supposed to let us know that the people of Vyones knew what we know.

T: Oh, right. OK, that’s good. Right.

P: I think. This story and… well all the Averoigne stories, and we talked about it a little bit on the last one, but their relationship to Christianity, I really find fascinating. Because they’re not outwardly anti-Christian, but he does take the opportunity to poke fun at the Church and at the behavior of the pious kind of whenever he can. I think that this double, or as he says, triple austerities and quadrupled prayers is meant as a jab. Like, as a little bit like “oh, those silly Christians didn’t do anything except pray harder.” But it doesn’t feel malicious to me, necessarily, it just feels a little bit like he’s using them as a source of, um…

R: Like they’re impotent.

P: Yeah! Exactly. And to play it as sort of a soft joke or something. I wish there was as in-depth a collection of his letters as there is for Lovecraft. I guess he wasn’t as much of an epistolarian, if that’s the right word, as Lovecraft. But it would be fascinating to know a little bit more of his, uh… or what the belief system was that was informing some of his decisions. Anyway.

T: So yeah, now we’re going into the last section we’re going to be covering in this podcast, and then we’ll pick up the last four sections in the next one…

R:

[reading]

Part IV: The Going-Forth of Gaspard du Nord.

T: So I picture it, because it starts out: “Alone in his attic chamber, Gaspard du Nord, student of alchemy and sorcery,” blah blah blah, but I picture him doing push-ups shirtless in his attic chamber.

[P and R laugh]

P: He’s like Travis Bickle now, is that what’s going on? [T laughs] I’m curious about the timeframe, like how long has he been trying? So what he’s doing, basically, is still trying to see what Nathaire is up to, but it’s not really clear how long he’s been trying to see it. And I’m wondering if he just comes home every night after whatever it is he does for a day job and, like, checks his mirror like one would check an answering machine or something. [T laughs] Actually, that’s interesting, what he’s done here is jump back in time. [R: Mm-hm.] Because if you look at these four paragraphs, it starts “alone in his attic chamber,” which is probably the exact same scene that he ended the first part with. [T: Right] And then Gaspard reads in the stars that something bad is going to happen, and then it says “in the meanwhile the hideous resurrection and migration of the dead was taking place.” [T: Oh, right.] So this is still back when that’s happening. And then that stops, and he finally, after that monk bit that we just heard, he finally hears in early … it says “after the horror had apparently ceased in early midsummer, there came the appalling story of the Cistercian monks.” So finally, after this whole monk thing happens, Gaspard has… he’s described as “the long-baffled watcher,” he finally has an inkling of… not exactly what’s going on, but he definitely knows at least where Nathaire has gone, and that all of the dead have also gone with Nathaire. Which is enough for a hero like Gaspard du Nord to start to unravel the mystery.

R: He’s just so awesome here because his… he’s not well-off, he’s not famous or anything. He tries to keep that whole necromancy thing under wraps. And his father disowned him, so he only has as much money as his mother and sister bring him, so he can’t afford a horse, he can’t become our knight riding off. He’s got a wallet of food and a dagger, and he just says “all right, I’m gonna walk. I’m gonna walk through the werewolf-haunted forests of Vyones.” After traveling for a while, and it’s a good 40 miles, so it takes him more than one day, he gets to the castle and he does the proper sneakity-sneak-sneak-sneak. He finds these stairs that lead up to an old ledge, and so he thinks “well I could get a really good view from up here.” He can sort of see what the monks have already seen, but he wants to get more details.

P:

[Reading]

Cautiously he neared the large, ragged opening through which the light poured upwards. Crouching on a narrow ledge, which was all that remained of the balcony, he peered in on a most astounding and terrific spectacle, whose details were so bewildering that he could barely comprehend their import till after many minutes.

It was plain that the story told by the monks — allowing for their religious bias — had been far from extravagant.

The vast chamber was fitfully illumed by the glare of athanors and braziers; and, above all, by the weird glimmering from the huge stone vats. Even from his high vantage, the watcher could not see the contents of these vats; but a white luminosity poured upwards from the rim of one of them, and a flesh-tinted phosphorescence from the other.

Gaspard had seen certain of the experiments and evocations of Nathaire. Within certain limits, he was not squeamish; nor was it likely that he would have been terrified overmuch by the shadowy, uncouth shapes of demons who toiled in the pit below him side by side with the blackclad pupils of the sorcerer. But a cold horror clutched his heart when he saw the incredible, enormous thing that occupied the central floor: the colossal human skeleton a hundred feet in length, stretching for more than the extent of the old castle hall; the skeleton whose bony right foot the group of men and devils, to all appearance, were busily clothing with human flesh!

The prodigious and macabre framework, complete in every part, with ribs like arches of some Satanic nave, shone as if it were still heated by the fires of an infernal welding. It seemed to shimmer and burn with unnatural life, to quiver with malign disquietude in the flickering glare and gloom. The great fingerbones, curving claw-like on the floor, appeared as if they were about to close upon some helpless prey. The tremendous teeth were set in an everlasting grin of sardonic cruelty and malice. The hollow eye-sockets, deep as Tartarean wells, appeared to seethe with myriad, mocking lights, like the eyes of elementals swimming upwards in obscene shadow.

Gaspard was stunned by the shocking and stupendous fantasmagoria that yawned before him like a peopled hell. Afterwards he was never wholly sure of certain things, and could remember very little of the actual manner in which the work of the men and their assistants was being carried on. Dim, dubious, bat-like creatures seemed to be flitting to and fro between one of the stone vats and the group that toiled like sculptors, clothing the bony foot with a reddish plasm which they applied and moulded like so much clay. Gaspard thought, but was not certain later, that this plasm, which gleamed as if with mingled blood and fire, was being brought from the rosy-litten vat in vessels borne by the claws of the shadowy flying creatures. None of them, however, approached the other vat, whose wannish light was momently enfeebled, as if it were dying down.

He looked for the minikin figure of Nathaire, whom he could not distinguish in the crowded scene. The sick necromancer — if he had not already succumbed to the little-known disease that had long wasted him like an inward flame — was no doubt hidden from view by the colossal skeleton and was perhaps directing the labours of the men and demons from his couch.

Spellbound on that precarious ledge, the watcher failed to hear the furtive, cat-like feet that were climbing behind him on the ruinous stairs. Too late, he heard the clink of a loose fragment close upon his heels; and turning in startlement, he toppled into sheer oblivion beneath the impact of a cudgel-like blow, and did not even know that the beginning fall of his body towards the courtyard had been arrested by his assailant’s arms.

P: Dun-dun DUUUUUN.

T: Just everything about that is cool. And I even love the little detail of whoever hit him catching him before he falls into the courtyard. That’s just a great little thing that didn’t need to be there, but… awesome.

R: I have a question for Mr. Smith: where did the teeth come from? What are they made out of? I get the rest. But did they melt down bones and shape teeth? Are the teeth made of bones? Nobody’s got teeth to fit a hundred-foot tall giant. I’m just putting that out there.

P: See, I think we’re gonna get more into this discussion later, but let’s just tease it here. I think that they’ve melted down everything. So they’ve melted the bone and they’ve melted the flesh, and they’re remaking giant bones and giant teeth and giant everything out of the bones. They’re making flesh out of the flesh. I was gonna make a case that that was why there was white and a red vat, but I don’t think that’s the case because this white vat, which is never explained… like nobody’s touching it, and they bring it up at least once.

R: Well if they’ve already cast all the bones and they’ve got the skeleton done, then they’re done with the white vat, then it’s just boiling down.

P: That’s true.

R: I like your theory.

P: In my mind for some reason the white vat — and it might be that — I also feel like the white vat might have something to do with the process by which the final part of the Colossus comes together, which I won’t say because it’s in the second part of the story.

T: Yeah, that’s kind of what I was thinking as well.

P: It’s hard to say. Regardless… I also love this story because it’s kind of like Smith knew he had a great thing in this image, and he goes back to it, I think even a third time, and it’s like people come into the place, and they see a horrible thing — a little bit of it. And then Gaspard comes in and sees this horrible thing, but now he sees more of it. And he does this great job of returning to what is fundamentally… we’ve already had this scene twice, and we actually get it a third time, where people sneak in and see what’s going on. But it didn’t strike me as a bad way to structure a story, just because every time they come back, he does manage to make it worse, and exciting, and as thrilling. I looked up, because it says it’s 100 feet tall… I guess we should just go ahead and say it, he’s making a giant. He’s making a Colossus. Nathaire is using the bodies of the dead to create himself a giant flesh golem, in some sense. Which is just… it’s so awesome.

T: It’s justa great idea. I mean obviously we’re all kind of stunned and speechless.

P: I’m just gonna keep saying it’s awesome, I don’t have any other word.

T: It is, like, the dictionary definition of “awesome.”

P: I looked up, because it’s 100 feet tall, how big that would be, and it’s about ten stories tall. When I was trying to find a famous thing that was 10 stories tall, I failed. Although I didn’t look up the obvious thing, which would be the Statue of Liberty. How tall is the Statue of Liberty? A hundred and fifty-one feet. So it’s taller than the Colossus, though I don’t know if that includes the base.

R: The Colossus is at least two thirds as tall as the Statue of Liberty.

T: That’s frightening. All right, so that’s the end of what we’re going to cover of “Colossus of Ylourgne” in this podcast. Is there anything else we want to cover or say about it?

R: Nope.

T: All right.

P: Tune in next time, when the Colossus will probably go on a rampage although I don’t want to say too much about it.

T: [laughs]

[outro music]

T: Let’s play a Clark Ashton Smith drinking game in this one.

P: OK, what’s the drinking game?

T: Whenever the words “necromancer,” or anything with “necro-” whatever in it… any time he mentions “athanors,” which I have no idea what they are. “Baleful” or “mephitic,” you have to drink.

R: OK. I need a beer!

P: Yeah, like drink my water? I don’t…

Show notes for Episode 5

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