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Ancient History

Chthon (Earth-616) and Gaea (Earth-616) from Avengers Vol 1 187 001

Chthon writing the Darkhold

Billions of years ago, the evil Elder God known as Chthon was forced to flee the Earth from Demogorge, the God-Eater. Before doing so, he put into writing all his evil works and spells on indestructible parchment. Originally a collection of parchments, often referred to as the Cthon Scrolls, the pages were later bound together into a tome as "the Darkhold." Also called the Shiatra Book of the Damned, or The Book of Sins, the Darkhold has served as the source for other spellbooks, such as the Necronomicon. Chthon left these scrolls on Earth so that it may always serve as a conduit to the Earth-Realm for Cthon's influence and power.[1]

Hyborian Age

Humans first found the Darkhold during the Pre-Cataclysmic Era, when the lands of Atlantis and Lemuria were still above the waves. When the warrior Kull slew the dark sorcerer Thulsa Doom, Doom's followers, the Darkholders, utilized the Darkhold to create the first vampire, Varnae. Varnae had been mortally wounded in battle with Kull. Varnae consumed one of the Darkholders who attempted to command him, and began creating other vampires. Some surviving Darkholders managed to make off with the Darkhold before Atlantis sank. Sources place the rise of Kull and the fall of Thulsa Doom some time circa 18,500 BC.[2]

When Atlantis sank, Varnae went into hibernation and did not revive until circa 10,000 BC. He found that some parchments of the Darkhold had been left behind in the Flaming Mountains of Khorasha and attempted to recover them. In an altercation with Conan, Red Sonja, and the sorcerer Zula, Varnae controlled the bat-like humanoids the Afterlings. Zula used the Darkhold against Varnae casting an incomplete incantation that shocked him. Zula apologized, explaining the spell as written was incomplete: "I'm sorry the incantation ended where it did-and only hurt Lord Varnae, rather than destroying him." The spell appeared to Zula in Stygian - Shemek Iref Wenek Tjhen Inek It-Ek Chthon Djedeni Emm-Maat Wenen Taeei Hemet Ankh-Ek Isheset Antioo Djedte Nes Sep Iree NEn Renek Anhkhu Wi-Im Valka![3]

Zula also used the Darkhold against the Set-worshipping sorcerer Thugra Khothan. Later Red Sonja and Zula travelled to Zamboula, which served as the western part of the Turanian empire. Totrasmek, a priest of the deity Hanuman (not to be confused with the simian Hindu deity called Hanuman), who had been searching for the scrolls for years came into possession of the Darkhold. Zula recovered the Darkhold and used the scrolls, however, and use it to transport himself and Sonja away. Zula noted that the scroll disappeared as a result of using the spell.[4]

At some point, Mephisto imprisoned a demon called Darklove into a page of the Darkhold.[5][6]

Middle Ages

Later historians in the Vatican would note that at some point the Chthon scrolls of the Chthon were taken East during the Hyborian Age. After the Hyborian Age, Egyptians, Bablyonians, and Hebrews came to possess the Darkhold scrolls. In circa 500 A.D., Morgan le Fay bound the scrolls into book form for the first time. Morgan and the Darkholders attempted to use the Darkhold to summon Chthon to do their bidding, but he proved much too powerful for them. Although unable to send him back to his realm, Morgan managed to imprison Chthon's spirit underneath Mount Wundagore. Morgan's lover Magnus, having witnessed true evil, betrayed Morgan and stole the Darkhold, sealing it within the Tower of the Darkhold on the Isle of Wight. Magnus enchanted the tower so that no one with evil intentions may enter.[7]

During the time of King Arthur, a well meaning mystic named Modred entered the tower seeking to use the Darkhold as a force for good. The Other, Chthon's avatar on Earth, spoke out to Modred and demanded that he sacrifice his soul in exchange for the power he sought. Modred initially resisted, believing that doing so would be the only way to attain the Darkhold's powers, but relented when The Other began to attack his bride-to-be Janice. Having sacrificed his very soul, Modred was placed into a centuries long, deathlike slumber.[8] Saint Brendan was sent by the Church to do battle with the evil inadvertently unleashed from the Darkhold. He would later scatter the Darkhold's pages throughout the world.[2]

In 1149, a heretical monk named Aelfric had recollected the pages of the Darkhold. The monk was burnt at the stake, the Darkhold with him. However, the Darkhold reformed itself, and was purchased by a trader, who was then murdered.[9]

Modern Era

By the 1600's, the Vatican came to possess the Darkhold. Dracula sent a thief to acquire it for him, but Cagliostro slew the thief and took it for himself.[10] At some point the vampire Lord Ruthven may have possessed the Darkhold. Taboo, the sorcerer, claims to have found the Darkhold in an old Balkan castle. He apparently did so no later than 1958.[11]

Before late 1930, Gregor Russoff acquired the Darkhold. He would later copy much of its content into the journal of his ancestor, and used it as a journal for himself. Accounts vary as to how he came to possess it. Two accounts say he purchased the tome, but others say that he took it from the sorcerer Taboo. In any event, when he read of the origin of lyncanthropy in the Darkhold, Gregor himself contracted lycanthropy. Gregor, whose ancestor Grigori had also been a werewolf, would later pass the curse on to others in his family: his son Jack Russell, and his granddaughter, Nina Price. During this time, Dracula shadowed Russoff.[9][12]

Possibly circa 1958, Gregor Russoff attempted to raise Chthon hoping he could cure him of lycanthropy. Chthon struck out at Russoff, seeming to strike him dead. The High Evolutionary and Magnus then managed to defeat Chthon. Russoff evidently survived somehow. Presumably, the revived Gregor Russoff recovered the Darkhold and somehow managed to hide his activities from the High Evolutionary and Magnus for some time. He was later slain by villagers no earlier than approximately 20 years ago.[13]

Later, Russoff's son Jack also became a werewolf. Recovering the Darkhold from Miles Blackgar, he gave it to a Father Joquez to translate. Aelfric's ghost possessed Jacquez. At the end of this struggle, Russell erroneously thought that the Darkhold was destroyed.[14] Later, Russoff travelled to Transylvanian with the Indian woman Topaz to visit Russoff Manor. There they found Gregor Russoff's diary. Dracula came to possess the diary and left it behind in a blizzard in the Alps (since the diary contained a copy of the Montesi Formula to destroy vampires). However, Morgan le Fay later recovered the diary.[15][16]

At some point Doctor Doom found a part of the Darkhold that allowed him to cast a spell to access Belasco's Limbo.[5]

During the Rise of the Midnight Sons - when Lilith and her offspring, the Lilin were released into the world once more - the Darkhold went missing from the Vatican. At that time, the Darkhold Dwarf began appearing to people around the world, giving them small black envelopes containing pages from the Darkhold and enticing them to use its forbidden spells to fulfill their wishes for power, immortality, riches, and revenge. Victoria Montesi - reluctant heir to to the Montesi responsibility of safeguarding the Darkhold, as well as the prophesied Montesi "incorruptibity" - began having visions as the pages were used. When she herself was attacked by the Darkholders, she resolved to hunt down the pages of the book with the help of Interpol agent Sam Buchanan and occultist Dr. Louise Hastings. These Darkhold Redeemers (as Lilith once called them) managed to collect a number of the pages before they eventually disbanded.[17]

In modern times, the Darkholders took interest in Carnage. Barry Gleason orchestrated Cletus Kasady's meeting with them. It was later revealed that he is to be made as a sacrifice to awaken Chton, based on the prophecy in the Darkhold that says "When the Red Slayer spills blood on sacred stone, he who sleeps shall wake and what walked will walk once again."[18]


The Darkhold's pages contain a number of powerful black magic spells. However, its corrupting influence is so strong that few can use it without losing their souls and becoming possessed by Chthon. In a sense, it is the anti-thesis of the Book of the Vishanti. The Darkhold Dwarf and the Other are known to appear either to challenge those who attempt to use it, or to entice a person to use a page or spell.[19]

Perhaps the most well known spell found in the Darkhold is the so called Montesi Formula, a powerful incantation that can utterly destroy all Vampires.[20]

Chthon assured that the Darkhold is intelligible in any language.[2]


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