Ghorl Nigral

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Title: Ghörl Nigral, AKA The Book of Night, The Hidden Legacy of Ancient Leng

Origin: The Ghorl Nigral was invented by Lovecraft correspondent Willis Conover in one of his letters to H.P. Lovecraft, and "The Horror in the Gallery" (AKA "Zoth-Ommog") is the first direct literary appearance, with additional indirect detail supplied by Robert E. Howard in books concerning Erlik; a variant, Secret Mysteries of Asia, with a Commentary on the Ghorl Nigral is a creation of Lin Carter.


Description

"…Indeed, a glance at the hieroglyphs by any reader of Von Junzt's horrible Nameless Cults would have established a linkage of unmistakable significance.... At this period, however, the readers of that monstrous blasphemy were exceedingly few; copies having been incredibly scarce in the interval between the suppression of the original Dusseldorf edition (1839) and of the Bridewell translation (1845) and the publication of the expurgated reprint by the Golden Goblin Press in 1909."
– H.P. Lovecraft, "Out of the Aeons"

Perhaps one of the oldest surviving books on earth, exceedingly rare and regarded as a figment of fable or legend by those who know it only by rumor or allusion; the Ghorl Nigral, with a reputation as "the most awful book ever written" and "the oldest book on Earth", was by some accounts dictated by Nyarlathotep to Zbauka, an inhuman ("pig-snouted and clawed") High Priest of Yaddith of the Five Moons, for the purpose of enlightening the Dholes; Zbauka fled instead with it to ancient earthly Mu, sharing its knowledge with the priests of that doomed continent.

The book would find its way into the hands of a terrible and ancient cult, the Monks of Yahlgan, who preserved it in a secret occult library in Yian-Ho in the mountains of darkest Asia for aeons. Herrmann Mulder would come into contact with it there after insinuating himself into the cult as the first European member; Mulder would learn the tome's Naacal language from the monks, and then steal the tome, fleeing with it from its Asian library first to Prussia with the monks giving chase close behind him until their pursuit abruptly ended (allegedly following a human sacrifice and terrible spell performed by Mulder), and then to Arkham after word reached Mulder that the monks had at last found his trail again in Germany.

It would be in Germany in the early- to mid-1800s, that the text appears to have served among the source material for Cultes des Goules and Unaussprechlichen Kulten, whose authors came into contact with it via the tome's translator, Herrmann Mulder after they successfully convinced Mulder's son Gottfried to introduce them to the translator and reveal its content with them through flattery and, apparently, through the use of magick to persuade the translator to reveal its secrets. Mulder would produce an English translation before D'Erlette and/or Von Junzt stole the original tome from Mulder in the confusion of his flight from Germany.

Mulder's descendants would produce a few heavily expurgated editions of the text in the years after Mulder's mysterious death, mainly to fill the demands for information on Eastern Mysticism that developed through the Spiritualism era of late 1800s into the Theosophy era of the early 20th Century. Notable among these would be an expurgated edition, and a Commentary by Gottfried Mulder, who wrote his book with content remembered from his brief glances at his father's tome recalled through self-hypnosis, before his arrest and confinement until death in a madhouse in Metzengerstein.


Ghorl Nigral, Original (prehistoric)

Language: Naacal

Physical Description: Perhaps the oldest extant text on the planet, exceedingly rare and regarded as fable or legend; is pages are leaves of unidentifiable, well-nigh indestructible pliant metal, its covers are plates of an equally unknown greenish mineral.

General Content: Contains Thurian Age historical and geographical knowledge, and advanced and perhaps alien scientific, mechanical, and surgical information, with references to Leng, Mu, Lemuria, Atlantis, the Tcho-Tchos, Lemurians, and Ghouls.

Number of known copies (if rare): exceedingly rare, perhaps unique on Earth

Last known location of surviving copies (if rare): One copy, said to have been once held in a secret library by the Monks of Yahlgan, and stolen by translator Herrmann Mulder, is known to have been in the possession of Baron Friedrich Wilhelm Von Junzt and Comte d'Erlette for a short time, under the close watchful eye of Mulder; this book was in Mulder's possession until he was forced to flee Germany to Arkham; it is believed to have been stolen by Von Junzt and/or Comte d'Erlette and has since vanished, rumoured to have fallen into the hands of Ghouls.

Mythos Content

Spells: may contain spells relating to shape-shifting, transformations of flesh, etc.

  • Sanity Loss: Heavy
  • Mythos Knowledge: Moderate
  • Occult Knowledge: Minimal

Ghorl Nigral, Dusseldorf Edition (1839)

Language: German

Physical Description: A grease-proof parcel of five old books in German.

General Content: Contains Thurian Age historical and geographical knowledge, and advanced and perhaps alien scientific, mechanical, and surgical information, with references to Leng, Mu, Lemuria, Atlantis, the Tcho-Tchos, Lemurians, and Ghouls.

Number of known copies (if rare): unique

Last known location of surviving copies (if rare): One copy, which accompanied its translator Mulder to Arkham, where Mulder had it translated into English and republished; this edition was last seen in the rare books collection of the library of the Miskatonic University, where it vanished from public view by the 1930s, perhaps lost.

Mythos Content

Spells: may contain spells relating to shape-shifting, transformations of flesh, etc.

  • Sanity Loss: Heavy
  • Mythos Knowledge: Moderate
  • Occult Knowledge: Minimal


Ghorl Nigral, Bridewell Edition (1845)

Language: English

Physical Description: a set of five hastily- and crudely-published antique books in poorly-translated, rambling English

General Content: Contains Thurian Age historical and geographical knowledge, and advanced and perhaps alien scientific, mechanical, and surgical information, with references to Leng, Mu, Lemuria, Atlantis, the Tcho-Tchos, Lemurians, and Ghouls.

Number of known copies (if rare): A handful of copies were privately published, most have since been destroyed or have vanished.

Last known location of surviving copies (if rare): Occasional copies have surfaced in private hands and in occult libraries.

Mythos Content

Spells: may contain spells relating to shape-shifting, transformations of flesh, etc.

  • Sanity Loss: Moderate
  • Mythos Knowledge: Moderate
  • Occult Knowledge: Minimal


Die Geheimnisse von Asien, mit Kommentar von Ghorl Nigral (1847, Leipzig)

Language: German ("Secret Mysteries of Asia, with a Commentary on the Ghorl Nigral")

Physical Description: A semi-scholarly book on Asian mysticism by Hermann's son Gottfried Mulder, with an extended summary and commentary on the Ghorl Nigral.

General Content: Contains a great deal of conventional eastern mysticism, examined within the lens of its relationship, real and imagined, to the Ghorl Nigral as a theoretical source and influence over modern mysticism and mythology, including a summary of the Ghorl Nigral, and the author's commentary upon it.

Last known location of surviving copies (if rare): Copies routinely surface in private hands and in occult libraries.

Mythos Content

Spells: Contains no usable spells.

  • Sanity Loss: Low
  • Mythos Knowledge: Minimal
  • Occult Knowledge: Low

Ghorl Nigral, Expurgated Golden Goblin Edition (1909)

Language: English

Physical Description: a single condensed volume in edited and improved English

General Content: Expurgated reprint; contains a condensed version of the original's Thurian Age historical and geographical knowledge, with emphasis on Leng, Mu, Lemuria, and Atlantis, and murky references to Lemurians and Tcho-Tchos.

Number of known copies (if rare): uncommon

Last known location of surviving copies (if rare): Will sometimes appear in the possession of private occultists and occult libraries.

Mythos Content

Spells: contains no working spells

  • Sanity Loss: Low
  • Mythos Knowledge: Low
  • Occult Knowledge: Minimal


Secret Mysteries of Asia, with a Commentary on the Ghorl Nigral (1935 second edition)

Language: English

Physical Description: a semi-scholarly book on Asian mysticism, with an extended summary and commentary on the Ghorl Nigral.

General Content: Contains a great deal of conventional eastern mysticism, examined within the lens of its relationship, real and imagined, to the Ghorl Nigral as a theoretical source and influence over modern mysticism and mythology, including a summary of the Ghorl Nigral, and the author's commentary upon it.

Last known location of surviving copies (if rare): Occasional copies have surfaced in private hands and in occult libraries.

Mythos Content

Spells: Contains no usable spells.

  • Sanity Loss: Low
  • Mythos Knowledge: Minimal
  • Occult Knowledge: Low


Quotes

It was many years ago in Arkham - at the library of the Miskatonic University. I was in a shadowy corner of the great reading-room, and noted a huge volume in somebody's hands across the table from me. The reader's head was completely hidden by the massive tome, but on the book itself I could descry the words "Ghorl Nigral" in an archaic Gothic lettering. What I knew of it made me shudder - and I felt vaguely alarmed when others began glancing at the silent reader and quietly edging out of the room one by one. When I saw that I was wholly alone but for the unspeaking page-turner, my feeling of disquiet became almost overpowering - and I too edged toward the door keeping my eyes resolutely away from the reader for some unknown reason or other. Then I saw that the room was growing very dark, though the afternoon was by no means spent. I stumbled over a chair, and gave vent to a wholly involuntary cry - but heard no answering sound. At this point came a horrible glare of lightning and a deafening stroke of thunder, though those outside the building observed no sign of storm. Attendants were running in, and someone brought a candle after the lights were found out of commission. The man who had been reading was dead, and his face was not pleasant to contemplate. He had a queerly foreign look, and his hair and bear seemed to adhere in unhealthy patches. The book, from which all eyes were sedulously averted, was tightly clasped in the brown, bony hands - and the attendants seemed slow in trying to dislodge it. When at length they did so, they encountered something very singular. For the hands, instead of releasing the book, came irregularly off at the wrists amid a cloud of red dust - whilst the body, pulled forward by the attempt, collapsed suddenly to a powder, leaving only a heap of greenishly mouldering clothes in the chair. Those clothes were later identified as belonging to a ma buried 30 years before - whose tomb in Christchurch Cemetery was found to be empty. Never since that day has the Ghorl Nigral been taken from its locked vault in the library basement.
- H.P. Lovecraft in a letter to Willis Conover

...That dread chronicle, the Ghorl Nigral, whose ultra-telluric origin is the secret of one of the most horrible of the dark myths locked within the dim pages of the Book of Eibon. There it is called The Book of the Night, and it is told that the clawed, snouted, non-human wizard Zbauka, on a world called Yaddith of the Five Moons, thieved it from the monstrous Dholes. Von Junzt records of this Ghorl Nigral that only one copy as ever been brought down to this planet from frightful Yaddith in all the immeasurable ages of Earth's existence in this part of space. The single copy is hidden somewhere in the black depths of Asia, at a place called "Yian-Ho"; there the book is whispered in a thousand legends as "the hidden legacy of aeon-old Leng." ...Gottfried Mulder [was] a scientist who accompanied Von Junzt in his travels, and who contributed a forward to the Unasusprechlichen Kulten.... This same Mulder, long after the death of von Junzt [who had managed to consult the book,] attempted a written reconstruction of what he remembered Von Junzt telling him about the contents of this mysterious book using Mesmerism and self-hypnosis to obtain perfect recall. His book, The Secret Mysteries of Asia, with a Commentary on the "Ghorl Nigral", was published at Mulder's own expense in Leipzig in 1847; copies are exceptionally rare, for the authorities seized and burned almost the entire printing, and Mulder himself narrowly escaped hanging by fleeing to Metzengerstein, where he died in a madhouse eleven years later.


- Lin Carter, "Zoth-Ommog"

Appearances

Heresies and Controversies

  • The original tome is cursed, having been repeatedly stolen since it was originally created on an alien world, with all of the thieves into whose hands it has fallen encountering tragedy and misfortune; it calls irresistibly to those who would steal it, driving them to risk their lives and commit terrible crimes as part of the theft and escape from pursuers. (fan theory)
  • The tome is the source of many of the original shape-shifting spells known to the ancient priests of Lemuria, and preserved over the aeons in secrete Werewolf and Vampire cults. (fan theory)


Keeper Notes

  • A keeper might optionally treat the original tome, and perhaps each one of its rarest, most accurate surviving translations, as a character in its own right - communicating psychically with those into whose hands it falls, driving them to commit horrible crimes in the name of obtaining and keeping their new-found treasure. Horror and misfortune should, in this case, follow in the wake of the tome, wherever it goes, with shadowy and deadly bands of jealous cultists in close pursuit of the prize which was stolen from them.