Before man possessed any reliable means of chronicling his own history a great deal transpired. Before the invention of paper and books, during that great and long ago era when art and writing were one and music and poetry were united into a single force what little civilization there was was nonetheless all the same quite terrible and awe-imposing in its magnificence. It was a time when horses had not long ago been birthed by God-like dragons somewhere in the East. It was a time when golden peaches grew from the wild trees of the orient and bestowed upon whoever ate them eternal life. Unfortunately, this epoch long ago perished. Its memory for even the old wise men of antiquity who lived so long ago was even then little more than a dream, and today, despite all we know about ourselves, we have, until now, had little hope of recovering much of this mysterious bygone time. Through means the author of this history scarcely understands himself some of it has been unearthed once more, and in its relation below, in the story of Hiblith the Barbarian, perhaps the reader may be enlightened somewhat as to the dark reaches of his own past.
Where precisely I cannot say for certain, but somewhere, on a lonely heath, surrounded only by the quiet contemplation of barren stones distributed unevenly across the landscape, a scene very similar at least to the following one must have, at some point, taken place:
“What loyalty do we owe such a man as would debase himself in such a manner,” the brutal looking warrior shouted to his comrades. “He is no more his father’s son, no more a man at all, but an Atlantian! Whatever duties we may have at one time had, whatever obligations to him we possessed were rendered null and void when that traitor took the crown of our enemies upon his head!”
Standing quite tall, well, by contemporary standards at least, the fearsome Barbarian appeared only faintly, here and there in patches, lighted dimly by the flickering camp fire. The passion and, dare I say eloquence with which he made his plea bespoke his high standing among his even cruder looking subordinates. A decent number had gathered to hear his proposal this night, as all of them, like Hiblith, had for quite some time felt a growing sense of discomfort towards the ever increasing familiarity their king seemed to show to the ways of their hated enemies, the Atlantians. This man they had gathered to hear they respected greatly, needless to say, as it was only from his lips that talk of such a treason as they were engaged in plotting would ever have been tolerated. Mighty were his many deeds. He had, as their general, lead them to innumerable victories since he had first assumed leadership over their king’s scattered armies. In his right hand he grasped an enormous sword of stone, and sometimes leaning on it like a cane, and other times gesturing with it for emphasis during his harangue, it was clear that it was nothing less than a real part of him, another limb if you will, that he would have felt entirely naked without it so accustomed to it he had grown. Naked though is perhaps not the best way of putting it, as he very nearly was with the exception of his loin cloth and the tattered leather belt he occasionally tucked his weapon into, only when it was absolutely necessary of course that is.
In any event, here we are, among the camp of these men, listening to this impassioned plea of the Barbarian general and saying anything more than that about the manners of these men or their mode of dress would be entirely academic and likely of very little interest to the general reader of this history.
Here and there a few primitive tends were huddled close around the fire over which the Barbarian general loomed, and the horses, fatigued after a long journey were grazing on what little they could find cropping meekly up from in between the desolate stones. Though with that I’ve done it again haven’t I? Doing what I only the sentence before promised I wouldn’t. You must forgive me, as a historian such subtle colors or the world I survey never cease to delight my eye, and everywhere I find myself trying to insert them so as to paint for you the most compelling picture of the fascinating world we find ourselves here inhabiting. To be foreigners in such a land will surely not do, to become one of them must be our goal, for otherwise how could we hope to understand the true nature of plight faced by these great warriors, this was the world that they were used to, they slept beneath the stars, they gathered and feasted around the campfire, and in such a life they experienced a wonderful communion with one another, this is what, more than anything, they would be willing to stake their lives for, the preservation of this way of living under which their people had come to thrive.
Their king, whose fate they were now deciding amongst themselves, had once upon a time lived in such a manner as one of them, as an equal, a father, and most importantly, a friend. He was the direct descendent, not only by blood, but by might and martial cunning and by brutality and fearlessness as well the great hero who had first united their scattered people, Rath the terrible, Rath the conqueror, Rath the unholy scourge of those debased and degenerate Atlantian scum. The son of Rath, or Rathgar, their current king had, for a time as well carried on his father’s work in dismantling and laying waste to the Atlantian civilization wherever it was to be found, and he did so with great relish. It was by his father’s hand that the first and more terrible blow had been struck against the Atlantian hegemony. It had been crumbling, weakening for some time, but still it stood mighty and glorious over the whole of the primeval world, that is until Rath sent it toppling of course with his brilliant military victories. He penetrated deep into their territory and waged war on the great city of Atlantis itself, whose defenses until that time had been universally considered unbreachable, and when he finally did breach their fortifications, when he held the city in the palm of his hand, he, like any good barbarian would have, showed it absolutely no mercy whatsoever, he annihilated it, he razed it to the ground, massacred its people and looted only what was of any worth in his world, the world of Hyperboria, of the windswept heath and the starry night sky unfolded infinitely above. Why so few artifacts or material evidence of Atlantian civilization exists for our present inspection should be once and for all definitively answered by this fact, as Rath was, well, a barbarian, and being a barbarian he had little use for art or culture, for sculpture or civilization, when I say that he looted only what was of value in his world it should become clear that he did not bother to rescue anything of cultural worth from the city he so savagely laid waste to. No, he took only the horses, and camels, some ostentatious weapons and arms, though those were mostly later discarded being of little practical use… This is all speculation on my part however as to be sure we have no way of knowing precisely what Rath did or did not save, that is, except for one treasure in particular he is known for certain to have took: the stone sword. Yes, that stone sword, the very one which the general of the barbarians I before mentioned now wielded.
It was a great honor when it was bestowed upon him, by Rathgar, this sword which the hero of their people had himself wrenched from the hands of the Atlantian king, it was a more than that even, more than an honor I mean, it was a symbol, a symbol of the continuity of Hyperborean martial prowess, something which served to connect the victories of Rathgar’s armies under Hiblith to the triumphs of the past, and using it many such triumphs were added to the tally Rath had started. That Ratgar’s own second, the general of his mighty hoards, Hiblith the Brutal, would one day use Rath’s sword in such a manner as to overthrow his son would have been inconceivable to Hiblith the day he received this token from the man he had sworn loyalty to, but things had changed, and it was now time for a settling of accounts.
“Do you know that he no longer calls himself the Son of Rath? Do you know that he now dishonors his father’s memory by pretending to be king of the remnants of Atlantis? He has taken for himself a new name, a new title, he forsakes the title of leader of our triumphant hoards, he forsakes the name Rathgar! He dares to call himself Emperor Prieal Utet Selltenia the seventeenth, rightful heir to the throne of Atlantis! What kind of man is that? What right does such a man have to command us, to be our leader? No, he is no longer a man, but an Atlantian. He sits up in his tower in one of the Atlantian cities I captured as leader of his forces and is attended on by degenerate Atlantian intellectuals who he calls his counsel! His counsel? He would take their advice, their friendship over that of his own people? He would turn his back on his many loyal followers here gathered in favor of such people as these? Homosexuals, pedophiles, degenerates, the lot of them. I will not follow an Atlantian, no matter what he once called himself, I will burn his city to the ground as I had wanted to do in the first place, and I’ll burn him and his counsel with it! That is my intention, and if you wish to call it treachery, if you wish to denounce me as a traitor, you’re welcome to do so, but I know in my Hyperborean heart that to wage war upon Atlantis, regardless of whoever deigns to lead it, could never be a treacherous act for a true Hyperborean!”