Notes on “The Voice of Zarnak” by Rick Lai

(Read The Voice of Zarnak here.)

Where is River Street?

If we solely evaluate Robert E. Howard’s prose, there is no evidence that River Street was ever intended to be in New York. “The Silver Heel” mentions New York as a separate place. “The Mystery of Tannernoe Lodge” has no references to New York in Howard’s unfinished fragment. Fred Blosser’s completion does mention New York, but the reference can be interpreted in two radically different ways. When Blosser completed the story, Steve Harrison found these entries in a notebook: “Adam Garfield arriv. New York, Sept, 1925” followed by “A. G., seen River St., Apr. 1934.” The first interpretation is that Garfield arrived in New York where River Street exists. The second interpretation is based on the fact that Garfield had been overseas before his presence in New York. Garfield could have entered the United States in New York during 1925, and then made his way to the West Coast to take up residence in River Street by 1934. Lin Carter apparently made the first interpretation when he placed River Street in New York in two Anton Zarnak stories, “Dead of Night” and “Perchance to Dream.”

Two pieces of evidence in Howard’s stories indicate that River Street is on the West Coast. “The Silver Heel” has an unemployed reporter from San Francisco looking for a new job in the unnamed city which contains River Street. Although not a Steve Harrison story, “Guests of the Hoodoo Room,” has an unnamed West Coast metropolis with a very similar River Street. That story also features the Wiltshaw family and Butch Cronin.

Aware of the West Coast/East Coast controversy, Robert M. Price’s “The Soul of the Devil-Bought” has River Street on the West Coast. Although the city is unnamed in that story, it is strongly implied to be San Francisco. C. J. Henderson picked upon this and explicitly mentioned San Francisco in “The Pain We Desire.”

To be faithful to Howard’s writings, I place River Street on the West Coast in a fictional community called El Rojo that is not far from San Francisco. I suggest that San Francisco later absorbed El Rojo in the same way that Los Angeles absorbed San Pedro.

The history of El Rojo is that of the unnamed city from Henry Kuttner’s “Towers of Death.” Like the unnamed metropolis in the Steve Harrison stories, Kuttner’s “small city” is filled with immigrants from Asia and the Middle East.

Anton Zarnak Lives

Why do I give Anton Zarnak a voice like Bela Lugosi? Because I always thought that Lin Carter based Zarnak on Lugosi.  In “Curse of the Black Pharaoh,” Zarnak hails from Transylvania, which was ethnically Hungarian even though it was annexed by Rumania after World War I. The name Anton Zarnak may have been inspired by Alex Zorka, the mad scientist played by Lugosi in the 1939 serial The Phantom Creeps. Lin Carter was a fan of this serial as demonstrated by his usage of Zorka in The Earth- Shaker, a Prince Zarkon novel. Lugosi also played an occult detective similar to Zarnak in the 1934 serial The Return of Chandu. The plot of that serial involves evil sorcerers trying to resurrect a high priestess of Lemuria, a mythical continent used by Lin Carter for his Thongor novels.

Joe Pulver had Zarnak lose an eye in “The Door in the House of Slumbering Demons.” When I asked Joe about this, he replied that it was cool for Zarnak to wear an eye patch like Nick Fury. Therefore, Zarnak wears an eye patch in my story. Since other writers have Zarnak with two eyes in later stories, I gave the explanation that Zarnak sometimes uses a glass eye.

The story has Zarnak returning from another dimension after the events of Robert M. Price’s “Dope War of the Black Tong.” During Zarnak’s absence, his home in River Street was watched over by Dr. Wong Kim Tien, a benign Manchu sorcerer from Seabury Quinn’s “The Living Buddhess.” Dr. Wong was an ally of Jules de Grandin.

“Dope War of the Black Tong” implied that Zarnak was an immortal from an ancient time. Therefore, he can’t really be Hungarian. Zarnak probably chose to pose as a Hungarian because people of that nationality have vocal patterns similar to his own.

I also use the Ghost, an assassin employed by the Black Tong, and the Suchin, a society of benign magicians, from Joe’s “The Door in the House of Slumbering Demons.” Also from that story and Joe’s “Zarnak’s Guest” are Madame Latong, her students, and Htoo the apprentice. C. J. Henderson’s monastery of A’alshirie from “Admission of Weakness” also appears.

Texas Justice

For copyright reasons, the Texan is a disguised version of Robert E. Howard’s Steve Harrison. Howard identified Harrison only as a Southerner. I always assumed that Harrison was a Texan because of “The Graveyard Rats,” a story set in the fictional town of Lost Knob, Texas.  That tale has no reference to River Street. Harrison must have lived in Texas before moving to the city where River Street exists.

The reference to the Texan being a private investigator is based on a passage in Robert M. Price’s “Dope War of the Black Tong.”

The Fraudulent Devil Worshippers

Starting with The Slayer of Souls by Robert W. Chambers, the Yezidees have been portrayed as malevolent devil worshippers. This concept as used by several pulp writers on the 1920’s and 1930’s. The most prolific of the anti-Yezidee writers was E. Hoffman Price in works like “The Stranger from Kurdistan,” “The Word of Santiago,” “The Peacock’s Shadow,” “The Bride of the Peacock,” “The King’s Peacock,” “Pit of Madness,” “Plunder of Kurdistan,” “Thirsty Blades” (written with Otis A. Kline), and “Prayer to Satan.” Other authors who wrote anti-Yezidee fiction include H. P. Lovecraft (“The Horror at Red Hook”), Robert E. Howard (“Dig Me No Grave,” “Three-Bladed Doom,” and “The Brazen Peacock”), Seabury Quinn (The Devil’s Bride), G. G. Pendarves (“The Altar of Melek Taos” and “The Werewolf of the Sahara”), Robert Bloch (“The Slave of the Flame”), and Carl Jacobi (“Sagasta’s Last”).

In reality, the Yezidees aren’t devil worshippers. They worship Melek Taos, a benign angel who essentially is an alternate version of Satan. Muslim bigots in the Ottoman Empire labeled the Yezidees devil worshippers. Western scholars and occultists (like Helena Blavatsky) got all their information from Ottoman officials. Thus, the charge of devil worship was repeated in Western non-fiction that would be consulted by aspiring pulp writers.

William B. Seabrook was a controversial writer of travel books. His most notable work, a study of Haiti called The Magic Island (1929), popularized the word “zombie.” Seabrook’s Adventures in Arabia (1927) described his visits among the Yezidees. He was welcomed by the top religious leaders and saw no evidence of devil worship. You might expect Seabrook would do the decent thing and absolve this religion of a monstrous libel. Unfortunately, Seabrook needed to sell his book. Disappointed that he hadn’t unearthed any real evidence of devil worship, he repeated every wild accusation that has sprouted about the Yezidees. Seabrook then acted like a Scottish juror delivering a verdict of “Not Proven.” Despite the clear lack of proof regarding Satanic practices, Seabrook has the utter effrontery to make the full title of his book Adventures in Arabia: Among the Bedouins, Druses, Whirling Dervishes, and Yezidee Devil Worshippers.

Seabrook was a major influence on American pulp writers. In fact, Robert E. Howard’s “The Brazen Peacock” borrowed its description of Mount Lalesh from Adventures in Arabia.

The fictional premise of my story is that the Yezidees have been framed as devil worshippers by an evil cult of true Satanic devotees. Who could these cultists be?

From King in Yellow to Yellow Devil to Peacock King

In the 1890’s, Robert W. Chambers created the King in Yellow, a Satanic entity living on a planet somewhere among the black stars surrounding Aldebaran and the Hyades. Chambers abandoned the King in Yellow in favor of writing more commercial fiction. When World War I broke out, Chambers decided to rework a lot of concepts from the King in Yellow. The Dark Star (1917) is really an espionage novel about a plot to steal the plans of the Gallipoli fortifications in 1914. However, there is a supernatural framing device. The Devil doesn’t live in Hell, but on a black planet or star. The Devil is Erlik, the monstrous demon from Mongolian shamanism. Chambers calls Erlik the Yellow Devil. When the dark star of Erlik got too close to Earth, the madness of global war erupted. This concept was revisited by Chambers in The Slayer of Souls (1920), a geographically confused novel which has Kurdistan bordering Mongolia. Although Chambers never connected his Yellow Devil with the earlier King in Yellow, both cosmic entities are conceptually the same.

The Slayer of Souls has historical confusion as well. The Assassins from the twelfth to fourteenth century are somehow conflated with the Yezidees and an allegedly massive Erlik cult in Asia. In reality, there is no connection between the Assassins and the Yezidees. Furthermore, there is no Erlik cult in Asia. Erlik is simply a shunned demon in Mongolian shamanism.

Robert E. Howard was heavily influenced by The Slayer of Souls. Demented Erlik cultists run rampant throughout his works. A notable example is “Black Hound of Vengeance” in which the monks of Yahlgan perform diabolical experiments in plastic surgery.

Howard’s “Three-Bladed Doom” reworks many of the ideas from The Slayer of Souls into a non-supernatural adventure story starring Francis X. Gordon. The Assassins, the Yezidees, and the Erlik cult are now different branches of a confederation called the Hidden Ones. In fashioning the Hidden Ones, Howard was copying the Si-Fan, a criminal alliance in Sax Rhomer’s Fu Manchu novels. The Si-Fan had Chinese tongs joining forces with Burmese Dacoits and Thuggee stranglers.

Set before World War I, this novel portrayed the Hidden Ones as being behind the supposedly recent assassinations of the Sultan of Turkey, the Shah of Persia, and the Nizam of Hyderabad. I did research to see if any of the assassinations had a basis in fact. There was no assassination of a Turkish Sultan, but a Turkish Prime Minister was murdered in 1913. The last assassination of a Shah of Persia (Iran) happened in 1896. A Nizam of Hyderabad died in 1911, but his demise was attributed to natural causes.

There were two version of “Three-Bladed Doom.” In the shorter version of this tale, the Mongolian branch of the Hidden Ones is called the Yellow Sons of Erlik. In a Steve Harrison story, “Teeth of Doom,” the Sons of Erlik are allied with Yah Lai, a warlord in China. Contrary to popular rumor, Yah Lai isn’t one of my relatives. He belonged to the Yah clan while I belong to the Lai clan that proudly includes the Dragon Lady from Terry and the Pirates.

Yah Lai appears in my story as Commissar Yah. I link him to the unnamed Communist warlord from Grace Zaring Stone’s The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1930).

Robert E. Howard’s “Dig Me No Grave” mixes E. Hoffman Price’s version of the Devil with the Cthulhu Mythos. Price always portrayed Satan as the angel revered by the Yezidees. Although the name of the Angel should be transliterated as Melek Taos, Price used an alternate transliteration of Malik Taus or Malik Taos. The transliteration is important because Melek Taos means “Peacock Angel” while Malik Taos means “Peacock King.”

In “Dig Me No Grave,” Malik Taos is an Oriental wearing a yellow robe. In other words, Malik Taos is both a Peacock King in Yellow and a Yellow Devil. Howard gives various other names for Malik Taos such as Beelzebub and Apolleon. The name Erlik doesn’t appear but it is implied by a reference to The Slayer of Souls in “Dig Me No Grave.” The Yezidees are depicted as “they of Mount Alamout the Accused – whose Eight Brazen Towers rise in the mysterious wastes of deep Asia.” Mount Alamout was the Assassins’ stronghold in Persia, and had no association with the Yezidees outside of Chambers. In reality, the Yezidees are associated with Mount Lalesh in Kurdistan, and the libelous legend about them concerns seven towers.

In The House of the Toad, Richard Tierney conflated the Yellow Sign with the Sign of Koth from Lovecraft’s “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.” Therefore, it could be argued that the King in Yellow’s real name is Koth since there is a deity of that name in Howard’s “The Fire of Asshurbanipal.” Unfortunately there are too many other Koths in Howard’s fiction. We have a city on Earth (“Dig Me No Grave”), a city in outer space (Almuric), and a Hyborian nation (“The Scarlet Citadel”).

Robert E. Howard created Zukala, a Satanic overlord living among the black stars. Also known as the Disposer of Souls, Zukala appeared in four poems (“Zukala’s Hour,” “Zukala’s Love Song,” “Zukala’s Jest,” and “The Tower of Zukala”) and an unfinished novella (“The Isle of the Eons”).  I made Zukala-Koth the real name of the King in Yellow in my stories “The Consorts of Zukala-Koth” from Shadows of the Opera: The Mark of the Revenant, and “Dance on My Grave” from Shadows of the Opera: Retribution in Blood.

The Other Name of Ahriman

Robert E. Howard also gives Malik Taos the alias of Ahriman, the demonic lord from Zoroastrianism who predates Satan. This would mean that Ahriman would be the King in Yellow as well according to my interpretation of “Dig Me No Grave.” Nevertheless, there are other Mythos entities who can be associated with Ahriman.

In “The Hour of the Dragon,” a Conan novel, Howard introduced a magical gem, the Heart of Ahriman, but no information is offered as to Ahriman’s attributes. Another Conan novel, Conan and the Manhunters by John Maddox Roberts, depicted Ahriman as the most feared god in the Hyborian Age. This version of Ahriman is a mindless chaos capable of destroying the universe. This incarnation of Ahriman was clearly influenced by Lovecraft’s Azathoth.

In Robert E. Howard’s “Black Wind Blowing,” there is a cult called the Black Brothers of Ahriman. All members of this group have a facial depiction of Ahriman tattooed on their chests. Ahriman has a dark face without features or eyes; this sounds like Lovecraft’s Nyarlathotep.

How could Ahriman be both Azathoth and Nyarlathotep? According to Lovecraft’s “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath,” Nyarlathotep is the soul of Azathoth. Possibly disciples of Azathoth and Nyarlathotep believe that the two entities share a common essence in the same way that Catholicism believes that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all God. Ramsey Campbell’s “The Mine on Yuggoth” has the Mi-Go believing that Azathoth has another name beginning with a N. That name could easily be Nyarlathotep.

How should the King in Yellow fit into all this? Lovecraft’s “The Whisperer in Darkness” has the Mi-Go, worshippers of Nyarlathotep, claiming to be enemies of the Yellow Sign. C. J. Henderson’s “The Pain We Desire” has Nyarlathotep fighting the King in Yellow. My only difference with C. J. is that he views Hastur and the King in Yellow as the same entity. My own view is that the King in Yellow serves Hastur in the same way that Dagon serves Cthulhu. The logical theory for the animosity between the King in Yellow and Nyarlathotep is that they have competing claims to the name of Ahriman.

Henry Kuttner’s “Towers of Death” also has Ahriman being worshipped by a Persian sorcerer named Dagh Ziaret. Although Kuttner stays away from using the Yezidees, the story has imagery very similar to the anti-Yezidee fiction of his fellow Weird Tales scribes. The burial towers of the Zoroastrian faith parallel the Towers of Evil falsely attributed to the Yezidees.

My story takes place before “Towers of Death.” The wooden door knocked down by the police in my story was replaced with the metal door that appeared in Kuttner’s tale.

Coming Soon to a Wax Museum Near You

All the wax museums in the story are from movies or television. Dr. Cream’s Museum of Crime is from Charlie Chan in the Wax Museum (1940). Also borrowed from that film is The Crime League, Thomas “Tom” Agnew, and the Murphy Arms Company. There are other borrowings from Charlie Chan films. Sgt. Matthews, Officer Rafferty, Dawson the forensic specialist, and Chardo the Great are from Black Magic (1944). The judge and the attorney at the murder trial are from The Shanghai Chest (1948). Frederick Rhadini is from Charlie Chan at Treasure Island (1939). My usage of characters from Charlie Chan movies is ample proof that my soul has been corrupted by Pete Rawlik.

Willman’s Wax Museum is from the episode “Alias the Scarf” on the Van Williams/Bruce Lee Green Hornet TV series. In the episode, there was a wax figure of Jake Wragge, a man who killed people with a machine gun. Prior to his execution by hanging, Wragge claimed to have been demonically possessed by the Little People. I created a back story for Wragge using elements from John Buchan (“No Man’s Land”) and Robert E. Howard (“The Children of the Night” and “The Valley of the Lost”). The Green Hornet TV series never said where it took place, but the radio series was set in Detroit. Both the radio and TV versions of the Hornet featured a reporter named Axford. I couldn’t have Wragge commit his murders in Detroit because Michigan hasn’t executed any murderers since 1846. Therefore, Wragge committed his murders in Chicago (which employed hanging as the means of execution until 1928), and then got captured in Detroit.

Ferguson’s Wax Museum is from “The New Exhibit” episode of The Twilight Zone TV series. In that episode, the museum had featured a Jack the Ripper figure. I arbitrarily placed the museum in New Orleans because the TV episode didn’t identify where it was located. The December 1888 murders in Cimarron City are from “Knife in the Darkness,” an episode of the Cimarron Strip TV series written by Harlan Ellison. The 1901 New Orleans murders are from

Edward D. Hoch’s “The Ripper of Storyville.” The 1908 murders are mentioned in “The Ripper” episode from the Kolchak the Night Stalker TV series.

Monet’s Wax Museum is from The Frozen Ghost (1945), a movie starring Lon Chaney Jr. as magician Alex Gregor, and Martin Kosleck as Dr. Polden. Kosleck played Paul Joseph Goebbels five times in the course of his career starting with Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939). The movie didn’t say where the museum was located. I put it in San Francisco.

Based on the story by Robert Blake

Henry Kuttner wrote a Lovecraftian story, “The Shadow on the Screen,” which really should have been included in Robert M. Price’s Book of Iod collection. The plot of the story involves a director filming The Nameless, movie in which a real ancient god is really killing the actors on screen. The evil filmmaker is opposed by another director who just directed Torture Master, a movie based on a short story about a reincarnated Giles de Rais. Who wrote the short story? An author whose surname is Blake. This has to be Robert Blake from Lovecraft’s “The Haunter of the Dark.”

This usage of Blake is rather prophetic. Robert Blake was based on Robert Bloch, who would later write several screenplays for horror movies. Ironically, one of these film is named Torture Garden.

Torture Master was released by Summit Pictures, a fictional movie studio that appears also in Kuttner’s “I, Vampire” and “The Unresting Dead.” Kuttner actually used the idea of a reincarnated Giles de Rais himself in “Hell’s Archangel.” All the four cited Kuttner stories can be found in Terror in the House: The Early Kuttner, Volume I (Haffner Press, 2010).

The unscreened Karloff-Lugosi film whose title no one mentions correctly in my story is Tower of Fear from Ramsey Campbell’s Ancient Images.

Will Murray. Magician Detective

Devil’s Whisper is an actual pair of chemicals used by stage magicians. Writing as Maxwell Grant, Walter B. Gibson had The Shadow used “Devil’s Whisper” to temporarily blind criminals. Gibson also created a pulp detective called Norgil the Magician. One of the stories revealed that the magician’s real surname is Loring (anagram of Norgil). Gibson never wrote a story expanding on Norgil’s real name. In an interview with Will Murray, Gibson divulged that the magician was actually W. Bates Loring (anagram of Walter B. Gibson). Will then asked what the W. stood for. Rather than use his own first name of Walter, Gibson graciously decided to honor Will by using a variant of his first name, Williams (yes, there is an “s”).

Valentine Varno is meant to be Val Varno, a stage magician who helped The Shadow in Murder by Magic and Crime Out of Mind.

Gaffarel Whateley of Granbury

Joseph Payne Brennan’s “The Feaster from Afar” has a branch of the Whateley family worshipping Hastur in the New England town of Granbury. Gaffarel is a sinister name that pops up in totally different contexts in three stories by G. G. Pendarves: “The Altar of Melek Taos,” “The Eighth Green Man,” and “The Devil’s Graveyard.”

Slidith, God of the Vampires

Peter Tremayne wrote a trilogy in which Dracula worshipped Draco, a dragon god from the dawn of time. The books in this series were Dracula Unbound (Bloodright), The Revenge of Dracula, and Dracula, My Love. Although not explicitly linked to the Cthulhu Mythos, the concepts of those novels are very compatible with those of Lovecraft.

Richard Tierney came to that conclusion and dropped a few veiled references to the Dracula trilogy in his Mythos fiction. The House of the Toad mentions Draco. “The Curse of the Crocodile” refers to “the dark princess Sebek-nefru-Ra.” This is an alternate name for Queen Sebek-nefer-Ra, a character from The Revenge of Dracula.

Lin Carter created a Lemurian god named Slidith in his Thongor novels. Called the Lord of Blood, Slidith was placated by rituals that involved the drinking of human blood. Slidith’s physical form was never described in the Thongor series.

I have conflated Slidith with both Draco and Le Drac, a dragon demon from The Song of Montésgur by Sylvie Miller and Philippe Ward. I have given Slidith the physical form of the unnamed dragon described in Robert E. Howard’s “The Shadow Kingdom” as an enemy of the Serpent Men of Valusia. Lin Carter had Slidith revered by a similar reptilian race, the Dragon Kings, in his Thongor novels. The common consensus among Cthulhu Mythos writers is to make the Serpent Men and the Dragon Kings the same race. I have a different take on this. I view the Serpent Men and the Dragon Kings as two branches of the same reptilian race that pursued different paths due to a religious schism. I briefly alluded to this schism in “Vampire Renaissance,” my story in Tales of the Shadowmen 8. While both groups revere Yig as the Father of Serpents, the two differ on which of his sons, Set and Slidith, is the primary interpreter of their sire’s will.

AntiYezidee Reference Books

Helena Blavatsky’s Isis Unveiled is a real book that depicts the Yezidees as devil worshippers. All the other books in Zarnak’s library are fictional tomes derived from the works of the Weird Tales writers who portrayed the Yezidees as devil worshippers. Mycroft’s Commentaries on Witchcraft is from Robert Bloch’s “The Mannikin.” Wickwire’s The Cult of the Witch in Assyria is from Seabury Quinn’s “The Hand of Glory,” and Dostmann’s Remnants of Lost Empires is from Robert E. Howard’s “The Black Stone.”

G. Pendarves had a recurring occult detective named Sir Donald Fremling. In “The Devil’s Graveyard,” Fremling delivered a lecture entitled “Devil Worship and Ancient Rites Among the Nomadic Tribes of Central Asia.” I made Fremling the author of a book by the same name. Hoffman Price apparently had a copy of a fraudulent translation of the Yezidee Black Book. Stories like “The Bride of the Peacock” misquote from the Black Book under its Arabic title, Kitab ul Aswad. One of Price’s recurring characters, Captain Rankin, fought Malik Taos in “Thirsty Blades.” I made Rankin the author of a translation of a false version of the Black Book.

The Fate of Albert Wilmartb

August Derleth confused Wilmarth with Akeley in “The Seal of R’lyeh.” Derleth said Wilmarth was “dead or missing.” My story makes Derleth’s remark no longer erroneous.

Miscellaneous References

The 1938 schedule also contains proposed episodes based on “The Secret of Sebek” by Robert Bloch, “The Last Test” by Lovecraft and Adolphe de Castro, the film Dark Intruder (1965), “The Horror from the Depths” by August Derleth and Mark Schorer, the stories of Stephen Mark Rainey, “The Horror from the Hills” by Frank Belknap Long, and “Out of the Eons” by Lovecraft and Hazel Heald.

Hendrick Von Heller is a vampire hunter in Hugh B. Cave’s “Murgunstrumm.” Cave’s

“The Isle of Dark Magic” has a Mythos tome only identified as Von Heller’s Black Cults. The two Von Hellers must be the same man.

Philip Hastane is from “The Hunters from Beyond” and other tales by Clark Ashton Smith.

Michael Leigh is from Henry Kuttner’s “The Salem Horror” and “The Black Kiss” (co-written with Robert Bloch).

Frank Baldwyn is from Duane Rimel’s “Music from the Stars.”

John Grymlann is the original name of John Grimlan in Robert E. Howard’s “Dig Me No Grave.”

Prince Dena ibn Zodh is from “The Altar of Melek Taos” by G. G. Pendarves.

Loki ‘s Glass is from “The Trap” by Henry S. Whitehead and H. P. Lovecraft.

The city of Chaldabad is from Carl Jacobi’s “Sagasta’s Last.”

The Mirror of Thune is from Robert E. Howard’s “The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune.” Howard identified Tuzun Thune as being a member of the Elder Race, a group never elaborated upon. I have made the Elder Race synonymous with the extra-terrestrial humanoids who inhabit the subterranean realm of K’n-yan from “The Mound” by Lovecraft and Zealia Bishop. Following Robert M. Price’s commentary from The Tindalos Cycle, K’n-yan is linked to the Kuen-Yin from “The Maker of Moons” by Robert W. Chambers. Zarnak uses the term Kuen-Yin to refer to the underground realm. In the conclusion, Zarnak suddenly changes to K’n-yan for a subtle reason.

The innkeeper from the Black Forest is from Robert E. Howard’s “The Rattle of Bones.”

Asenath Bowen is from August Derleth’s “The Horror from the Middle Span.”

Adam Redflame is the Satanic figure encountered by John Silent in Robert E. Howard’s unfinished “Redflame.”

Les Chroniques de Nemedea is the French title for Robert E. Howard’s The Nemedian Chronicles from the Conan stories. I altered the spelling of Howard’s Hyborian kingdom of Nemedia. The French translation first appeared in “Gods of the Underworld,” my story in Tales of the Shadowmen 9.

Hernando de Estrada is from Robert E. Howard’s “The Horror on the Mound.”

Rick LaiRick Lai is an authority on pulp fiction and the Wold Newton Universe concepts of Philip José Farmer. His speculative articles have been collected in Rick Lai’s Secret Histories: Daring Adventurers, Rick Lai’s Secret Histories: Criminal Masterminds, Chronology of Shadows: A Timeline of The Shadow’s Exploits and The Revised Complete Chronology of Bronze. Rick’s fiction has been collected in Shadows of the Opera, Shadows of the Opera: Retribution in Blood and Sisters of the Shadows: The Cagliostro Curse. Rick also regularly appears on the Lovecraft eZine internet chats.

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