Part 3 out of 7
arms--but you could not so imagine this woman. About her loveliness
hovered something unearthly. A sweet feminine echo of the Dweller was
Yolara, the Dweller's priestess--and as gloriously, terrifyingly evil!
The Justice of Lora
As I looked at her the man arose and made his way round the table
toward us. For the first time my eyes took in Lugur. A few inches
taller than the green dwarf, he was far broader, more filled with the
suggestion of appalling strength.
The tremendous shoulders were four feet wide if an inch, tapering down
to mighty thewed thighs. The muscles of his chest stood out beneath
his tunic of red. Around his forehead shone a chaplet of bright-blue
stones, sparkling among the thick curls of his silver-ash hair.
Upon his face pride and ambition were written large--and power still
larger. All the mockery, the malice, the hint of callous indifference
that I had noted in the other dwarfish men were there, too--but
intensified, touched with the satanic.
The woman spoke again.
"Who are you strangers, and how came you here?" She turned to Rador.
"Or is it that they do not understand our tongue?"
"One understands and speaks it--but very badly, O Yolara," answered
the green dwarf.
"Speak, then, that one of you," she commanded.
But it was Marakinoff who found his voice first, and I marvelled at
the fluency, so much greater than mine, with which he spoke.
"We came for different purposes. I to seek knowledge of a kind;
he"--pointing to me "of another. This man"--he looked at Olaf--"to
find a wife and child."
The grey-blue eyes had been regarding O'Keefe steadily and with
plainly increasing interest.
"And why did YOU come?" she asked him. "Nay--I would have him speak
for himself, if he can," she stilled Marakinoff peremptorily.
When Larry spoke it was haltingly, in the tongue that was strange to
him, searching for the proper words.
"I came to help these men--and because something I could not then
understand called me, O lady, whose eyes are like forest pools at
dawn," he answered; and even in the unfamiliar words there was a touch
of the Irish brogue, and little merry lights danced in the eyes Larry
had so apostrophized.
"I could find fault with your speech, but none with its burden," she
said. "What forest pools are I know not, and the dawn has not shone
upon the people of Lora these many sais of laya. *1 But I sense what you
*1 Later I was to find that Murian reckoning rested upon the
extraordinary increased luminosity of the cliffs at the time of full
moon on earth--this action, to my mind, being linked either with the
effect of the light streaming globes upon the Moon Pool, whose source
was in the shining cliffs, or else upon some mysterious affinity of
their radiant element with the flood of moonlight on earth--the
latter, most probably, because even when the moon must have been
clouded above, it made no difference in the phenomenon. Thirteen of
these shinings forth constituted a laya, one of them a lat. Ten was
sa; ten times ten times ten a said, or thousand; ten times a thousand
was a sais. A sais of laya was then literally ten thousand years. What
we would call an hour was by them called a va. The whole time system
was, of course, a mingling of time as it had been known to their
remote, surface-dwelling ancestors, and the peculiar determining
factors in the vast cavern.
The eyes deepened to blue as she regarded him. She smiled.
"Are there many like you in the world from which you come?" she asked
softly. "Well, we soon shall--"
Lugur interrupted her almost rudely and glowering.
"Best we should know how they came hence," he growled.
She darted a quick look at him, and again the little devils danced in
her wondrous eyes.
Unquestionably there is a subtle difference between time as we know it
and time in this subterranean land--its progress there being slower.
This, however, is only in accord with the well-known doctrine of
relativity, which predicates both space and time as necessary
inventions of the human mind to orient itself to the conditions under
which it finds itself. I tried often to measure this difference, but
could never do so to my entire satisfaction. The closest I can come to
it is to say that an hour of our time is the equivalent of an hour and
five-eighths in Muria. For further information upon this matter of
relativity the reader may consult any of the numerous books upon the
subject.--W. T. G.
"Yes, that is true," she said. "How came you here?"
Again it was Marakinoff who answered--slowly, considering every word.
"In the world above," he said, "there are ruins of cities not built by
any of those who now dwell there. To us these places called, and we
sought for knowledge of the wise ones who made them. We found a
passageway. The way led us downward to a door in yonder cliff, and
through it we came here."
"Then have you found what you sought?" spoke she. "For we are of
those who built the cities. But this gateway in the rock--where is
"After we passed, it closed upon us; nor could we after find trace of
it," answered Marakinoff.
The incredulity that had shown upon the face of the green dwarf fell
upon theirs; on Lugur's it was clouded with furious anger.
He turned to Rador.
"I could find no opening, lord," said the green dwarf quickly.
And there was so fierce a fire in the eyes of Lugur as he swung back
upon us that O'Keefe's hand slipped stealthily down toward his pistol.
"Best it is to speak truth to Yolara, priestess of the Shining One,
and to Lugur, the Voice," he cried menacingly.
"It is the truth," I interposed. "We came down the passage. At its
end was a carved vine, a vine of five flowers"--the fire died from the
red dwarf's eyes, and I could have sworn to a swift pallor. "I rested
a hand upon these flowers, and a door opened. But when we had gone
through it and turned, behind us was nothing but unbroken cliff. The
door had vanished."
I had taken my cue from Marakinoff. If he had eliminated the episode
of car and Moon Pool, he had good reason, I had no doubt; and I would
be as cautious. And deep within me something cautioned me to say
nothing of my quest; to stifle all thought of Throckmartin--something
that warned, peremptorily, finally, as though it were a message from
"A vine with five flowers!" exclaimed the red dwarf. "Was it like
He thrust forward a long arm. Upon the thumb of the hand was an
immense ring, set with a dull-blue stone. Graven on the face of the
jewel was the symbol of the rosy walls of the Moon Chamber that had
opened to us their two portals. But cut over the vine were seven
circles, one about each of the flowers and two larger ones covering,
"This is the same," I said; "but these were not there"--I indicated
The woman drew a deep breath and looked deep into Lugur's eyes.
"The sign of the Silent Ones!" he half whispered.
It was the woman who first recovered herself.
"The strangers are weary, Lugur," she said. "When they are rested
they shall show where the rocks opened."
I sensed a subtle change in their attitude toward us; a new
intentness; a doubt plainly tinged with apprehension. What was it they
feared? Why had the symbol of the vine wrought the change? And who or
what were the Silent Ones?
Yolara's eyes turned to Olaf, hardened, and grew cold grey.
Subconsciously I had noticed that from the first the Norseman had been
absorbed in his regard of the pair; had, indeed, never taken his gaze
from them; had noticed, too, the priestess dart swift glances toward
He returned her scrutiny fearlessly, a touch of contempt in the clear
eyes--like a child watching a snake which he did not dread, but whose
danger be well knew.
Under that look Yolara stirred impatiently, sensing, I know, its
"Why do you look at me so?" she cried.
An expression of bewilderment passed over Olaf's face.
"I do not understand," he said in English.
I caught a quickly repressed gleam in O'Keefe's eyes. He knew, as I
knew, that Olaf must have understood. But did Marakinoff?
Apparently he did not. But why was Olaf feigning ignorance?
"This man is a sailor from what we call the North," thus Larry
haltingly. "He is crazed, I think. He tells a strange tale of a
something of cold fire that took his wife and babe. We found him
wandering where we were. And because he is strong we brought him with
us. That is all, O lady, whose voice is sweeter than the honey of the
"A shape of cold fire?" she repeated.
"A shape of cold fire that whirled beneath the moon, with the sound of
little bells," answered Larry, watching her intently.
She looked at Lugur and laughed.
"Then he, too, is fortunate," she said. "For he has come to the place
of his something of cold fire--and tell him that he shall join his
wife and child, in time; that I promise him."
Upon the Norseman's face there was no hint of comprehension, and at
that moment I formed an entirely new opinion of Olaf's intelligence;
for certainly it must have been a prodigious effort of the will,
indeed, that enabled him, understanding, to control himself.
"What does she say?" he asked.
"Good!" said Olaf. "Good!"
He looked at Yolara with well-assumed gratitude. Lugur, who had been
scanning his bulk, drew close. He felt the giant muscles which
Huldricksson accommodatingly flexed for him.
"But he shall meet Valdor and Tahola before he sees those kin of his,"
he laughed mockingly. "And if he bests them--for reward--his wife and
A shudder, quickly repressed, shook the seaman's frame. The woman bent
her supremely beautiful head.
"These two," she said, pointing to the Russian and to me, "seem to be
men of learning. They may be useful. As for this man,"--she smiled at
Larry--"I would have him explain to me some things." She hesitated.
"What 'hon-ey of 'e wild bees-s' is." Larry had spoken the words in
English, and she was trying to repeat them. "As for this man, the
sailor, do as you please with him, Lugur; always remembering that I
have given my word that he shall join that wife and babe of his!" She
laughed sweetly, sinisterly. "And now--take them, Rador--give them
food and drink and let them rest till we shall call them again."
She stretched out a hand toward O'Keefe. The Irishman bowed low over
it, raised it softly to his lips. There was a vicious hiss from Lugur;
but Yolara regarded Larry with eyes now all tender blue.
"You please me," she whispered.
And the face of Lugur grew darker.
We turned to go. The rosy, azure-shot globe at her side suddenly
dulled. From it came a faint bell sound as of chimes far away. She
bent over it. It vibrated, and then its surface ran with little waves
of dull colour; from it came a whispering so low that I could not
distinguish the words--if words they were.
She spoke to the red dwarf.
"They have brought the three who blasphemed the Shining One," she said
slowly. "Now it is in my mind to show these strangers the justice of
Lora. What say you, Lugur?"
The red dwarf nodded, his eyes sparkling with a malicious
The woman spoke again to the globe. "Bring them here!"
And again it ran swiftly with its film of colours, darkened, and shone
rosy once more. From without there came a rustle of many feet upon the
rugs. Yolara pressed a slender hand upon the base of the pedestal of
the globe beside her. Abruptly the light faded from all, and on the
same instant the four walls of blackness vanished, revealing on two
sides the lovely, unfamiliar garden through the guarding rows of
pillars; at our backs soft draperies hid what lay beyond; before us,
flanked by flowered screens, was the corridor through which we had
entered, crowded now by the green dwarfs of the great hall.
The dwarfs advanced. Each, I now noted, had the same clustering black
hair of Rador. They separated, and from them stepped three figures--a
youth of not more than twenty, short, but with the great shoulders of
all the males we had seen of this race; a girl of seventeen, I judged,
white-faced, a head taller than the boy, her long, black hair
dishevelled; and behind these two a stunted, gnarled shape whose head
was sunk deep between the enormous shoulders, whose white beard fell
like that of some ancient gnome down to his waist, and whose eyes were
a white flame of hate. The girl cast herself weeping at the feet of
the priestess; the youth regarded her curiously.
"You are Songar of the Lower Waters?" murmured Yolara almost
caressingly. "And this is your daughter and her lover?"
The gnome nodded, the flame in his eyes leaping higher.
"It has come to me that you three have dared blaspheme the Shining
One, its priestess, and its Voice," went on Yolara smoothly. "Also
that you have called out to the three Silent Ones. Is it true?"
"Your spies have spoken--and have you not already judged us?" The
voice of the old dwarf was bitter.
A flicker shot through the eyes of Yolara, again cold grey. The girl
reached a trembling hand out to the hem of the priestess's veils.
"Tell us why you did these things, Songar," she said. "Why you did
them, knowing full well what your--reward--would be."
The dwarf stiffened; he raised his withered arms, and his eyes blazed.
"Because evil are your thoughts and evil are your deeds," he cried.
"Yours and your lover's, there"--he levelled a finger at Lugur.
"Because of the Shining One you have made evil, too, and the greater
wickedness you contemplate--you and he with the Shining One. But I
tell you that your measure of iniquity is full; the tale of your sin
near ended! Yea--the Silent Ones have been patient, but soon they will
speak." He pointed at us. "A sign are THEY--a warning--harlot!" He
spat the word.
In Yolara's eyes, grown black, the devils leaped unrestrained.
"Is it even so, Songar?" her voice caressed. "Now ask the Silent Ones
to help you! They sit afar--but surely they will hear you." The sweet
voice was mocking. "As for these two, they shall pray to the Shining
One for forgiveness--and surely the Shining One will take them to its
bosom! As for you--you have lived long enough, Songar! Pray to the
Silent Ones, Songar, and pass out into the nothingness--you!"
She dipped down into her bosom and drew forth something that resembled
a small cone of tarnished silver. She levelled it, a covering clicked
from its base, and out of it darted a slender ray of intense green
It struck the old dwarf squarely over the heart, and spread swift as
light itself, covering him with a gleaming, pale film. She clenched
her hand upon the cone, and the ray disappeared. She thrust the cone
back into her breast and leaned forward expectantly; so Lugur and so
the other dwarfs. From the girl came a low wail of anguish; the boy
dropped upon his knees, covering his face.
For the moment the white beard stood rigid; then the robe that had
covered him seemed to melt away, revealing all the knotted, monstrous
body. And in that body a vibration began, increasing to incredible
rapidity. It wavered before us like a reflection in a still pond
stirred by a sudden wind. It grew and grew--to a rhythm whose rapidity
was intolerable to watch and that still chained the eyes.
The figure grew indistinct, misty. Tiny sparks in infinite numbers
leaped from it--like, I thought, the radiant shower of particles
hurled out by radium when seen under the microscope. Mistier still it
grew--there trembled before us for a moment a faintly luminous shadow
which held, here and there, tiny sparkling atoms like those that
pulsed in the light about us! The glowing shadow vanished, the
sparkling atoms were still for a moment--and shot away, joining those
Where the gnomelike form had been but a few seconds before--there was
O'Keefe drew a long breath, and I was sensible of a prickling along my
Yolara leaned toward us.
"You have seen," she said. Her eyes lingered tigerishly upon Olaf's
pallid face. "Heed!" she whispered. She turned to the men in green,
who were laughing softly among themselves.
"Take these two, and go!" she commanded.
"The justice of Lora," said the red dwarf. "The justice of Lora and
the Shining One under Thanaroa!"
Upon the utterance of the last word I saw Marakinoff start violently.
The hand at his side made a swift, surreptitious gesture, so fleeting
that I hardly caught it. The red dwarf stared at the Russian, and
there was amazement upon his face.
Swiftly as Marakinoff, he returned it.
"Yolara," the red dwarf spoke, "it would please me to take this man of
wisdom to my own place for a time. The giant I would have, too."
The woman awoke from her brooding; nodded.
"As you will, Lugur," she said.
And as, shaken to the core, we passed out into the garden into the
full throbbing of the light, I wondered if all the tiny sparkling
diamond points that shook about us had once been men like Songar of
the Lower Waters--and felt my very soul grow sick!
The Angry, Whispering Globe
Our way led along a winding path between banked masses of softly
radiant blooms, groups of feathery ferns whose plumes were starred
with fragrant white and blue flowerets, slender creepers swinging from
the branches of the strangely trunked trees, bearing along their
threads orchid-like blossoms both delicately frail and gorgeously
The path we trod was an exquisite mosaic--pastel greens and pinks upon
a soft grey base, garlands of nimbused forms like the flaming rose of
the Rosicrucians held in the mouths of the flying serpents. A smaller
pavilion arose before us, single-storied, front wide open.
Upon its threshold Rador paused, bowed deeply, and motioned us within.
The chamber we entered was large, closed on two sides by screens of
grey; at the back gay, concealing curtains. The low table of blue
stone, dressed with fine white cloths, stretched at one side flanked
by the cushioned divans.
At the left was a high tripod bearing one of the rosy globes we had
seen in the house of Yolara; at the head of the table a smaller globe
similar to the whispering one. Rador pressed upon its base, and two
other screens slid into place across the entrance, shutting in the
He clapped his hands; the curtains parted, and two girls came through
them. Tall and willow lithe, their bluish-black hair falling in
ringlets just below their white shoulders, their clear eyes of
forget-me-not blue, and skins of extraordinary fineness and
purity--they were singularly attractive. Each was clad in an extremely
scanty bodice of silken blue, girdled above a kirtle that came barely
to their very pretty knees.
"Food and drink," ordered Rador.
They dropped back through the curtains.
"Do you like them?" he asked us.
"Some chickens!" said Larry. "They delight the heart," he translated
The green dwarf's next remark made me gasp.
"They are yours," he said.
Before I could question him further upon this extraordinary statement
the pair re-entered, bearing a great platter on which were small
loaves, strange fruits, and three immense flagons of rock crystal--two
filled with a slightly sparkling yellow liquid and the third with a
purplish drink. I became acutely sensible that it had been hours since
I had either eaten or drunk. The yellow flagons were set before Larry
and me, the purple at Rador's hand.
The girls, at his signal, again withdrew. I raised my glass to my
lips and took a deep draft. The taste was unfamiliar but delightful.
Almost at once my fatigue disappeared. I realized a clarity of mind,
an interesting exhilaration and sense of irresponsibility, of freedom
from care, that were oddly enjoyable. Larry became immediately his old
The green dwarf regarded us whimsically, sipping from his great flagon
of rock crystal.
"Much do I desire to know of that world you came from," he said at
last--"through the rocks," he added, slyly.
"And much do we desire to know of this world of yours, O Rador," I
Should I ask him of the Dweller; seek from him a clue to Throckmartin?
Again, clearly as a spoken command, came the warning to forbear, to
wait. And once more I obeyed.
"Let us learn, then, from each other." The dwarf was laughing. "And
first--are all above like you--drawn out"--he made an expressive
gesture--"and are there many of you?"
"There are--" I hesitated, and at last spoke the Polynesian that means
tens upon tens multiplied indefinitely--"there are as many as the
drops of water in the lake we saw from the ledge where you found us,"
I continued; "many as the leaves on the trees without. And they are
all like us--varyingly."
He considered skeptically, I could see, my remark upon our numbers.
"In Muria," he said at last, "the men are like me or like Lugur. Our
women are as you see them--like Yolara or those two who served you."
He hesitated. "And there is a third; but only one."
Larry leaned forward eagerly.
"Brown-haired with glints of ruddy bronze, golden-eyed, and lovely as
a dream, with long, slender, beautiful hands?" he cried.
"Where saw you HER?" interrupted the dwarf, starting to his feet.
"Saw her?" Larry recovered himself. "Nay, Rador, perhaps, I only
dreamed that there was such a woman."
"See to it, then, that you tell not your dream to Yolara," said the
dwarf grimly. "For her I meant and her you have pictured is Lakla, the
hand-maiden to the Silent Ones, and neither Yolara nor Lugur, nay, nor
the Shining One, love her overmuch, stranger."
"Does she dwell here?" Larry's face was alight.
The dwarf hesitated, glanced about him anxiously.
"Nay," he answered, "ask me no more of her." He was silent for a
space. "And what do you who are as leaves or drops of water do in that
world of yours?" he said, plainly bent on turning the subject.
"Keep off the golden-eyed girl, Larry," I interjected. "Wait till we
find out why she's tabu."
"Love and battle, strive and accomplish and die; or fail and die,"
answered Larry--to Rador--giving me a quick nod of acquiescence to my
warning in English.
"In that at least your world and mine differ little," said the dwarf.
"How great is this world of yours, Rador?" I spoke.
He considered me gravely.
"How great indeed I do not know," he said frankly at last. "The land
where we dwell with the Shining One stretches along the white waters
for--" He used a phrase of which I could make nothing. "Beyond this
city of the Shining One and on the hither shores of the white waters
dwell the mayia ladala--the common ones." He took a deep draft from
his flagon. "There are, first, the fair-haired ones, the children of
the ancient rulers," he continued. "There are, second, we the
soldiers; and last, the mayia ladala, who dig and till and weave and
toil and give our rulers and us their daughters, and dance with the
Shining One!" he added.
"Who rules?" I asked.
"The fair-haired, under the Council of Nine, who are under Yolara, the
Priestess and Lugur, the Voice," he answered, "who are in turn beneath
the Shining One!" There was a ring of bitter satire in the last.
"And those three who were judged?"--this from Larry.
"They were of the mayia ladala," he replied, "like those two I gave
you. But they grow restless. They do not like to dance with the
Shining One--the blasphemers!" He raised his voice in a sudden great
shout of mocking laughter.
In his words I caught a fleeting picture of the race--an ancient,
luxurious, close-bred oligarchy clustered about some mysterious deity;
a soldier class that supported them; and underneath all the toiling,
"And is that all?" asked Larry.
"No," he answered. "There is the Sea of Crimson where--"
Without warning the globe beside us sent out a vicious note, Rador
turned toward it, his face paling. Its surface crawled with
"I hear!" he croaked, gripping the table. "I obey!"
He turned to us a face devoid for once of its malice.
"Ask me no more questions, strangers," he said. "And now, if you are
done, I will show you where you may sleep and bathe."
He arose abruptly. We followed him through the hangings, passed
through a corridor and into another smaller chamber, roofless, the
sides walled with screens of dark grey. Two cushioned couches were
there and a curtained door leading into an open, outer enclosure in
which a fountain played within a wide pool.
"Your bath," said Rador. He dropped the curtain and came back into
the room. He touched a carved flower at one side. There was a tiny
sighing from overhead and instantly across the top spread a veil of
blackness, impenetrable to light but certainly not to air, for through
it pulsed little breaths of the garden fragrances. The room filled
with a cool twilight, refreshing, sleep-inducing. The green dwarf
pointed to the couches.
"Sleep!" he said. "Sleep and fear nothing. My men are on guard
outside." He came closer to us, the old mocking gaiety sparkling in
"But I spoke too quickly," he whispered. "Whether it is because the
Afyo Maie fears their tongues--or--" he laughed at Larry. "The maids
are NOT yours!" Still laughing he vanished through the curtains of the
room of the fountain before I could ask him the meaning of his curious
gift, its withdrawal, and his most enigmatic closing remarks.
"Back in the great old days of Ireland," thus Larry breaking into my
thoughts raptly, the brogue thick, "there was Cairill mac
Cairill--Cairill Swiftspear. An' Cairill wronged Keevan of Emhain
Abhlach, of the blood of Angus of the great people when he was
sleeping in the likeness of a pale reed. Then Keevan put this penance
on Cairill--that for a year Cairill should wear his body in Emhain
Abhlach, which is the Land of Faery and for that year Keevan should
wear the body of Cairill. And it was done.
"In that year Cairill met Emar of the Birds that are one white, one
red, and one black--and they loved, and from that love sprang Ailill
their son. And when Ailill was born he took a reed flute and first he
played slumber on Cairill, and then he played old age so that Cairill
grew white and withered; then Ailill played again and Cairill became a
shadow--then a shadow of a shadow--then a breath; and the breath went
out upon the wind!" He shivered. "Like the old gnome," he whispered,
"that they called Songar of the Lower Waters!"
He shook his head as though he cast a dream from him. Then, all
"But that was in Iceland ages agone. And there's nothing like that
here, Doc!" He laughed. "It doesn't scare me one little bit, old boy.
The pretty devil lady's got the wrong slant. When you've had a pal
standing beside you one moment--full of life, and joy, and power, and
potentialities, telling what he's going to do to make the world hum
when he gets through the slaughter, just running over with zip and pep
of life, Doc--and the next instant, right in the middle of a laugh--a
piece of damned shell takes off half his head and with it joy and
power and all the rest of it"--his face twitched--"well, old man, in
the face of THAT mystery a disappearing act such as the devil lady
treated us to doesn't make much of a dent. Not on me. But by the
brogans of Brian Boru--if we could have had some of that stuff to turn
on during the war--oh, boy!"
He was silent, evidently contemplating the idea with vast pleasure.
And as for me, at that moment my last doubt of Larry O'Keefe vanished,
I saw that he did believe, really believed, in his banshees, his
leprechauns and all the old dreams of the Gael--but only within the
limits of Ireland.
In one drawer of his mind was packed all his superstition, his
mysticism, and what of weakness it might carry. But face him with any
peril or problem and the drawer closed instantaneously leaving a mind
that was utterly fearless, incredulous, and ingenious; swept clean of
all cobwebs by as fine a skeptic broom as ever brushed a brain.
"Some stuff!" Deepest admiration was in his voice. "If we'd only had
it when the war was on--imagine half a dozen of us scooting over the
enemy batteries and the gunners underneath all at once beginning to
shake themselves to pieces! Wow!" His tone was rapturous.
"It's easy enough to explain, Larry," I said. "The effect, that
is--for what the green ray is made of I don't know, of course. But
what it does, clearly, is stimulate atomic vibration to such a pitch
that the cohesion between the particles of matter is broken and the
body flies to bits--just as a fly-wheel does when its speed gets so
great that the particles of which IT is made can't hold together."
"Shake themselves to pieces is right, then!" he exclaimed.
"Absolutely right," I nodded. "Everything in Nature vibrates. And
all matter--whether man or beast or stone or metal or vegetable--is
made up of vibrating molecules, which are made up of vibrating atoms
which are made up of truly infinitely small particles of electricity
called electrons, and electrons, the base of all matter, are
themselves perhaps only a vibration of the mysterious ether.
"If a magnifying glass of sufficient size and strength could be placed
over us we could see ourselves as sieves--our space lattice, as it is
called. And all that is necessary to break down the lattice, to shake
us into nothingness, is some agent that will set our atoms vibrating
at such a rate that at last they escape the unseen cords and fly off.
"The green ray of Yolara is such an agent. It set up in the dwarf
that incredibly rapid rhythm that you saw and--shook him not to
atoms--but to electrons!"
"They had a gun on the West Front--a seventy-five," said O'Keefe,
"that broke the eardrums of everybody who fired it, no matter what
protection they used. It looked like all the other seventy-fives--but
there was something about its sound that did it. They had to recast
"It's practically the same thing," I replied. "By some freak its
vibratory qualities had that effect. The deep whistle of the sunken
Lusitania would, for instance, make the Singer Building shake to its
foundations; while the Olympic did not affect the Singer at all but
made the Woolworth shiver all through. In each case they stimulated
the atomic vibration of the particular building--"
I paused, aware all at once of an intense drowsiness. O'Keefe,
yawning, reached down to unfasten his puttees.
"Lord, I'm sleepy!" he exclaimed. "Can't understand it--what you
say--most--interesting--Lord!" he yawned again; straightened. "What
made Reddy take such a shine to the Russian?" he asked.
"Thanaroa," I answered, fighting to keep my eyes open.
"When Lugur spoke that name I saw Marakinoff signal him. Thanaroa is,
I suspect, the original form of the name of Tangaroa, the greatest god
of the Polynesians. There's a secret cult to him in the islands.
Marakinoff may belong to it--he knows it anyway. Lugur recognized the
signal and despite his surprise answered it."
"So he gave him the high sign, eh?" mused Larry. "How could they both
"The cult is a very ancient one. Undoubtedly it had its origin in the
dim beginnings before these people migrated here," I replied. "It's a
link--one--of the few links between up there and the lost past--"
"Trouble then," mumbled Larry. "Hell brewing! I smell it--Say, Doc,
is this sleepiness natural? Wonder where my--gas mask--is--" he
added, half incoherently.
But I myself was struggling desperately against the drugged slumber
pressing down upon me.
"Lakla!" I heard O'Keefe murmur. "Lakla of the golden eyes--no
Eilidh--the Fair!" He made an immense effort, half raised himself,
"Thought this was paradise when I first saw it, Doc," he sighed. "But
I know now, if it is, No-Man's Land was the greatest place on earth
for a honeymoon. They--they've got us, Doc--" He sank back. "Good
luck, old boy, wherever you're going." His hand waved feebly.
His voice trailed into silence. Fighting, fighting with every fibre
of brain and nerve against the sleep, I felt myself being steadily
overcome. Yet before oblivion rushed down upon me I seemed to see upon
the grey-screened wall nearest the Irishman an oval of rosy light
begin to glow; watched, as my falling lids inexorably fell, a
flame-tipped shadow waver on it; thicken; condense--and there looking
down upon Larry, her eyes great golden stars in which intensest
curiosity and shy tenderness struggled, sweet mouth half smiling, was
the girl of the Moon Pool's Chamber, the girl whom the green dwarf had
named--Lakla: the vision Larry had invoked before that sleep which I
could no longer deny had claimed him--
Closer she came--closer---the eyes were over us.
Then oblivion indeed!
Yolara of Muria vs. the O'Keefe
I awakened with all the familiar, homely sensation of a shade having
been pulled up in a darkened room. I thrilled with a wonderful sense
of deep rest and restored resiliency. The ebon shadow had vanished
from above and down into the room was pouring the silvery light. From
the fountain pool came a mighty splashing and shouts of laughter. I
jumped and drew the curtain. O'Keefe and Rador were swimming a wild
race; the dwarf like an otter, out-distancing and playing around the
Irishman at will.
Had that overpowering sleep--and now I confess that my struggle
against it had been largely inspired by fear that it was the abnormal
slumber which Throckmartin had described as having heralded the
approach of the Dweller before it had carried away Thora and
Stanton--had that sleep been after all nothing but natural reaction of
tired nerves and brains?
And that last vision of the golden-eyed girl bending over Larry? Had
that also been a delusion of an overstressed mind? Well, it might have
been, I could not tell. At any rate, I decided, I would speak about it
to O'Keefe once we were alone again--and then giving myself up to the
urge of buoyant well-being I shouted like a boy, stripped and joined
the two in the pool. The water was warm and I felt the unwonted
tingling of life in every vein increase; something from it seemed to
pulse through the skin, carrying a clean vigorous vitality that toned
every fibre. Tiring at last, we swam to the edge and drew ourselves
out. The green dwarf quickly clothed himself and Larry rather
carefully donned his uniform.
"The Afyo Maie has summoned us, Doc," he said. "We're to--well--I
suppose you'd call it breakfast with her. After that, Rador tells me,
we're to have a session with the Council of Nine. I suppose Yolara is
as curious as any lady of--the upper world, as you might put it--and
just naturally can't wait," he added.
He gave himself a last shake, patted the automatic hidden under his
left arm, whistled cheerfully,
"After you, my dear Alphonse," he said to Rador, with a low bow. The
dwarf laughed, bent in an absurd imitation of Larry's mocking courtesy
and started ahead of us to the house of the priestess. When he had
gone a little way on the orchid-walled path I whispered to O'Keefe:
"Larry, when you were falling off to sleep--did you think you saw
"See anything!" he grinned. "Doc, sleep hit me like a Hun shell. I
thought they were pulling the gas on us. I--I had some intention of
bidding you tender farewells," he continued, half sheepishly. "I think
I did start 'em, didn't I?"
"But wait a minute--" he hesitated. "I had a queer sort of dream--"
"'What was it?" I asked eagerly,
"Well," he answered slowly, "I suppose it was because I'd been
thinking of--Golden Eyes. Anyway, I thought she came through the wall
and leaned over me--yes, and put one of those long white hands of hers
on my head--I couldn't raise my lids--but in some queer way I could
see her. Then it got real dreamish. Why do you ask?"
Rador turned back toward us,
"Later," I answered, "Not now. When we're alone."
But through me went a little glow of reassurance. Whatever the maze
through which we were moving; whatever of menacing evil lurking
there--the Golden Girl was clearly watching over us; watching with
whatever unknown powers she could muster.
We passed the pillared entrance; went through a long bowered corridor
and stopped before a door that seemed to be sliced from a monolith of
pale jade--high, narrow, set in a wall of opal.
Rador stamped twice and the same supernally sweet, silver bell tones
of--yesterday, I must call it, although in that place of eternal day
the term is meaningless--bade us enter. The door slipped aside. The
chamber was small, the opal walls screening it on three sides, the
black opacity covering it, the fourth side opening out into a
delicious little walled garden--a mass of the fragrant, luminous
blooms and delicately colored fruit. Facing it was a small table of
reddish wood and from the omnipresent cushions heaped around it arose
to greet us--Yolara.
Larry drew in his breath with an involuntary gasp of admiration and
bowed low. My own admiration was as frank--and the priestess was well
pleased with our homage.
She was swathed in the filmy, half-revelant webs, now of palest blue.
The corn-silk hair was caught within a wide-meshed golden net in which
sparkled tiny brilliants, like blended sapphires and diamonds. Her own
azure eyes sparkled as brightly as they, and I noted again in their
clear depths the half-eager approval as they rested upon O'Keefe's
lithe, well-knit figure and his keen, clean-cut face. The high-arched,
slender feet rested upon soft sandals whose gauzy withes laced the
exquisitely formed leg to just below the dimpled knee.
"Some giddy wonder!" exclaimed Larry, looking at me and placing a hand
over his heart. "Put her on a New York roof and she'd empty Broadway.
Take the cue from me, Doc."
He turned to Yolara, whose face was somewhat puzzled.
"I said, O lady whose shining hair is a web for hearts, that in our
world your beauty would dazzle the sight of men as would a little
woman sun!" he said, in the florid imagery to which the tongue lends
itself so well.
A flush stole up through the translucent skin. The blue eyes softened
and she waved us toward the cushions. Black-haired maids stole in,
placing before us the fruits, the little loaves and a steaming drink
somewhat the colour and odor of chocolate. I was conscious of
"What are you named, strangers?" she asked.
"This man is named Goodwin," said O'Keefe. "As for me, call me
"Nothing like getting acquainted quick," he said to me--but kept his
eyes upon Yolara as though he were voicing another honeyed phrase. And
so she took it, for: "You must teach me your tongue," she murmured.
"Then shall I have two words where now I have one to tell you of your
loveliness," he answered.
"And also that'll take time," he spoke to me. "Essential occupation
out of which we can't be drafted to make these fun-loving folk any
Roman holiday. Get me!"
"Larree," mused Yolara. "I like the sound. It is sweet--" and indeed
it was as she spoke it.
"And what is your land named, Larree?" she continued. "And Goodwin's?"
She caught the sound perfectly.
"My land, O lady of loveliness, is two--Ireland and America; his but
She repeated the two names--slowly, over and over. We seized the
opportunity to attack the food; halting half guiltily as she spoke
"Oh, but you are hungry!" she cried. "Eat then." She leaned her chin
upon her hands and regarded us, whole fountains of questions brimming
up in her eyes.
"How is it, Larree, that you have two countries and Goodwin but one?"
she asked, at last unable to keep silent longer.
"I was born in Ireland; he in America. But I have dwelt long in his
land and my heart loves each," he said.
She nodded, understandingly.
"Are all the men of Ireland like you, Larree? As all the men here are
like Lugur or Rador? I like to look at you," she went on, with naive
frankness. "I am tired of men like Lugur and Rador. But they are
strong," she added, swiftly. "Lugur can hold up ten in his two arms
and raise six with but one hand."
We could not understand her numerals and she raised white fingers to
"That is little, O lady, to the men of Ireland," replied O'Keefe.
"Lo, I have seen one of my race hold up ten times ten of our--what
call you that swift thing in which Rador brought us here?"
"Corial," said she.
"Hold up ten times twenty of our corials with but two fingers--and
these corials of ours--"
"Coria," said she.
"And these coria of ours are each greater in weight than ten of yours.
Yes, and I have seen another with but one blow of his hand raise hell!
"And so I have," he murmured to me. "And both at Forty=second and
Fifth Avenue, N. Y.--U. S. A."
Yolara considered all this with manifest doubt.
"Hell?" she inquired at last. "I know not the word."
"Well," answered O'Keefe. "Say Muria then. In many ways they are, I
gather, O heart's delight, one and the same."
Now the doubt in the blue eyes was strong indeed. She shook her head.
"None of our men can do THAT!" she answered, at length. "Nor do I
think you could, Larree."
"Oh, no," said Larry easily. "I never tried to be that strong. I
fly," he added, casually.
The priestess rose to her feet, gazing at him with startled eyes.
"Fly!" she repeated incredulously. "Like a _Zitia_? A bird?"
Larry nodded--and then seeing the dawning command in her eyes, went on
"Not with my own wings, Yolara. In a--a corial that moves
through--what's the word for air, Doc--well, through this--" He made a
wide gesture up toward the nebulous haze above us. He took a pencil
and on a white cloth made a hasty sketch of an airplane. "In a--a
corial like this--" She regarded the sketch gravely, thrust a hand
down into her girdle and brought forth a keen-bladed poniard; cut
Larry's markings out and placed the fragment carefully aside.
"That I can understand," she said.
"Remarkably intelligent young woman," muttered O'Keefe. "Hope I'm not
giving anything away--but she had me."
"But what are your women like, Larree? Are they like me? And how
many have loved you?" she whispered.
"In all Ireland and America there is none like you, Yolara," he
answered. "And take that any way you please," he muttered in English.
She took it, it was evident, as it most pleased her.
"Do you have goddesses?" she asked.
"Every woman in Ireland and America, is a goddess"; thus Larry.
"Now that I do not believe." There was both anger and mockery in her
eyes. "I know women, Larree--and if that were so there would be no
peace for men."
"There isn't!" replied he. The anger died out and she laughed,
"And which goddess do you worship, Larree?"
"You!" said Larry O'Keefe boldly.
"Larry! Larry!" I whispered. "Be careful. It's high explosive."
But the priestess was laughing--little trills of sweet bell notes; and
pleasure was in each note.
"You are indeed bold, Larree," she said, "to offer me your worship.
Yet am I pleased by your boldness. Still--Lugur is strong; and you are
not of those who--what did you say--have tried. And your wings are
Again her laughter rang out. The Irishman flushed; it was touche for
"Fear not for me with Lugur," he said, grimly. "Rather fear for him!"
The laughter died; she looked at him searchingly; a little enigmatic
smile about her mouth--so sweet and so cruel.
"Well--we shall see," she murmured. "You say you battle in your
world. With what?"
"Oh, with this and with that," answered Larry, airily. "We manage--"
"Have you the Keth--I mean that with which I sent Songar into the
nothingness?" she asked swiftly.
"See what she's driving at?" O'Keefe spoke to me, swiftly. "Well I do!
But here's where the O'Keefe lands.
"I said," he turned to her, "O voice of silver fire, that your spirit
is high even as your beauty--and searches out men's souls as does your
loveliness their hearts. And now listen, Yolara, for what I speak is
truth"--into his eyes came the far-away gaze; into his voice the Irish
softness--"Lo, in my land of Ireland, this many of your life's length
agone--see"--he raised his ten fingers, clenched and unclenched them
times twenty--"the mighty men of my race, the Taitha-da-Dainn, could
send men out into the nothingness even as do you with the Keth. And
this they did by their harpings, and by words spoken--words of power,
O Yolara, that have their power still--and by pipings and by slaying
"There was Cravetheen who played swift flames from his harp, flying
flames that ate those they were sent against. And there was Dalua, of
Hy Brasil, whose pipes played away from man and beast and all living
things their shadows--and at last played them to shadows too, so that
wherever Dalua went his shadows that had been men and beast followed
like a storm of little rustling leaves; yea, and Bel the Harper, who
could make women's hearts run like wax and men's hearts flame to ashes
and whose harpings could shatter strong cliffs and bow great trees to
His eyes were bright, dream-filled; she shrank a little from him,
faint pallor under the perfect skin.
"I say to you, Yolara, that these things were and are--in Ireland."
His voice rang strong. "And I have seen men as many as those that are
in your great chamber this many times over"--he clenched his hands
once more, perhaps a dozen times--"blasted into nothingness before
your Keth could even have touched them. Yea--and rocks as mighty as
those through which we came lifted up and shattered before the lids
could fall over your blue eyes. And this is truth, Yolara--all truth!
Stay--have you that little cone of the Keth with which you destroyed
She nodded, gazing at him, fascinated, fear and puzzlement contending.
"Then use it." He took a vase of crystal from the table, placed it on
the threshold that led into the garden. "Use it on this--and I will
"I will use it upon one of the ladala--" she began eagerly.
The exaltation dropped from him; there was a touch of horror in the
eyes he turned to her; her own dropped before it.
"It shall be as you say," she said hurriedly. She drew the shining
cone from her breast; levelled it at the vase. The green ray leaped
forth, spread over the crystal, but before its action could even be
begun, a flash of light shot from O'Keefe's hand, his automatic spat
and the trembling vase flew into fragments. As quickly as he had drawn
it, he thrust the pistol back into place and stood there empty handed,
looking at her sternly. From the anteroom came shouting, a rush of
Yolara's face was white, her eyes strained--but her voice was unshaken
as she called to the clamouring guards:
"It is nothing--go to your places!"
But when the sound of their return had ceased she stared tensely at
the Irishman--then looked again at the shattered vase.
"It is true!" she cried, "but see, the Keth is--alive!"
I followed her pointing finger. Each broken bit of the crystal was
vibrating, shaking its particles out into space. Broken it the bullet
of Larry's had--but not released it from the grip of the
disintegrating force. The priestess's face was triumphant.
"But what matters it, O shining urn of beauty--what matters it to the
vase that is broken what happens to its fragments?" asked Larry,
The triumph died from her face and for a space she was silent;
"Next," whispered O'Keefe to me. "Lots of surprises in the little
box; keep your eye on the opening and see what comes out."
We had not long to wait. There was a sparkle of anger about Yolara,
something too of injured pride. She clapped her hands; whispered to
the maid who answered her summons, and then sat back regarding us,
"You have answered me as to your strength--but you have not proved it;
but the Keth you have answered. Now answer this!" she said.
She pointed out into the garden. I saw a flowering branch bend and
snap as though a hand had broken it--but no hand was there! Saw then
another and another bend and break, a little tree sway and fall--and
closer and closer to us came the trail of snapping boughs while down
into the garden poured the silvery light revealing--nothing! Now a
great ewer beside a pillar rose swiftly in air and hurled itself
crashing at my feet. Cushions close to us swirled about as though in
the vortex of a whirlwind.
And unseen hands held my arms in a mighty clutch fast to my sides,
another gripped my throat and I felt a needle-sharp poniard point
pierce my shirt, touch the skin just over my heart!
"Larry!" I cried, despairingly. I twisted my head; saw that he too
was caught in this grip of the invisible. But his face was calm, even
"Keep cool, Doc!" he said. "Remember--she wants to learn the
Now from Yolara burst chime upon chime of mocking laughter. She gave
a command--the hands loosened, the poniard withdrew from my heart;
suddenly as I had been caught I was free--and unpleasantly weak and
"Have you THAT in Ireland, Larree!" cried the priestess--and once
more trembled with laughter.
"A good play, Yolara." His voice was as calm as his face. "But they
did that in Ireland even before Dalua piped away his first man's
shadow. And in Goodwin's land they make ships--coria that go on
water--so you can pass by them and see only sea and sky; and those
water coria are each of them many times greater than this whole palace
But the priestess laughed on.
"It did get me a little," whispered Larry. "That wasn't quite up to
my mark. But God! If we could find that trick out and take it back
"Not so, Larree!" Yolara gasped, through her laughter. "Not so!
Goodwin's cry betrayed you!"
Her good humour had entirely returned; she was like a mischievous
child pleased over some successful trick; and like a child she
cried--"I'll show you!"--signalled again; whispered to the maid who,
quickly returning, laid before her a long metal case. Yolara took from
her girdle something that looked like a small pencil, pressed it and
shot a thin stream of light for all the world like an electric flash,
upon its hasp. The lid flew open. Out of it she drew three flat, oval
crystals, faint rose in hue. She handed one to O'Keefe and one to me.
"Look!" she commanded, placing the third before her own eyes. I
peered through the stone and instantly there leaped into sight, out of
thin air--six grinning dwarfs! Each was covered from top of head to
soles of feet in a web so tenuous that through it their bodies were
plain. The gauzy stuff seemed to vibrate--its strands to run together
like quick-silver. I snatched the crystal from my eyes and--the
chamber was empty! Put it back--and there were the grinning six!
Yolara gave another sign and they disappeared, even from the crystals.
"It is what they wear, Larree," explained Yolara, graciously. "It is
something that came to us from--the Ancient Ones. But we have so
"Such treasures must be two-edged swords, Yolara," commented O'Keefe.
"For how know you that one within them creeps not to you with hand
eager to strike?"
"There is no danger," she said indifferently. "I am the keeper of
She mused for a space, then abruptly:
"And now no more. You two are to appear before the Council at a
certain time--but fear nothing. You, Goodwin, go with Rador about our
city and increase your wisdom. But you, Larree, await me here in my
garden--" she smiled at him, provocatively--maliciously, too. "For
shall not one who has resisted a world of goddesses be given all
chance to worship when at last he finds his own?"
She laughed--whole-heartedly and was gone. And at that moment I liked
Yolara better than ever I had before and--alas--better than ever I
was to in the future.
I noted Rador standing outside the open jade door and started to go,
but O'Keefe caught me by the arm.
"Wait a minute," he urged. "About Golden Eyes--you were going to tell
me something--it's been on my mind all through that little sparring
I told him of the vision that had passed through my closing lids. He
listened gravely and then laughed.
"Hell of a lot of privacy in this place!" he grinned. "Ladies who can
walk through walls and others with regular invisible cloaks to let 'em
flit wherever they please. Oh, well, don't let it get on your nerves,
Doc. Remember--everything's natural! That robe stuff is just
camouflage of course. But Lord, if we could only get a piece of it!"
"The material simply admits all light-vibrations, or perhaps curves
them, just as the opacities cut them off," I answered. "A man under
the X-ray is partly invisible; this makes him wholly so. He doesn't
register, as the people of the motion-picture profession say."
"Camouflage," repeated Larry. "And as for the Shining One--Say!" he
snorted. "I'd like to set the O'Keefe banshee up against it. I'll bet
that old resourceful Irish body would give it the first three bites
and a strangle hold and wallop it before it knew it had 'em. Oh! Wow!
I heard him still chuckling gleefully over this vision as I passed
along the opal wall with the green dwarf.
A shell was awaiting us. I paused before entering it to examine the
polished surface of runway and great road. It was obsidian--volcanic
glass of pale emerald, unflawed, translucent, with no sign of block or
juncture. I examined the shell.
"What makes it go?" I asked Rador. At a word from him the driver
touched a concealed spring and an aperture appeared beneath the
control-lever, of which I have spoken in a preceding chapter. Within
was a small cube of black crystal, through whose sides I saw, dimly, a
rapidly revolving, glowing ball, not more than two inches in diameter.
Beneath the cube was a curiously shaped, slender cylinder winding down
into the lower body of the Nautilus whorl.
"Watch!" said Rador. He motioned me into the vehicle and took a place
beside me. The driver touched the lever; a stream of coruscations flew
from the ball down into the cylinder. The shell started smoothly, and
as the tiny torrent of shining particles increased it gathered speed.
"The corial does not touch the road," explained Rador. "It is lifted
so far"--he held his forefinger and thumb less than a sixteenth of an
inch apart--"above it."
And perhaps here is the best place to explain the activation of the
shells or coria. The force utilized was atomic energy. Passing from
the whirling ball the ions darted through the cylinder to two bands of
a peculiar metal affixed to the base of the vehicles somewhat like
skids of a sled. Impinging upon these they produced a partial negation
of gravity, lifting the shell slightly, and at the same time creating
a powerful repulsive force or thrust that could be directed backward,
forward, or sidewise at the will of the driver. The creation of this
energy and the mechanism of its utilization were, briefly, as follows:
[Dr. Goodwin's lucid and exceedingly comprehensive description of this
extraordinary mechanism has been deleted by the Executive Council of
the International Association of Science as too dangerously suggestive
to scientists of the Central European Powers with which we were so
recently at war. It is allowable, however, to state that his
observations are in the possession of experts in this country, who
are, unfortunately, hampered in their research not only by the
scarcity of the radioactive elements that we know, but also by the
lack of the element or elements unknown to us that entered into the
formation of the fiery ball within the cube of black crystal.
Nevertheless, as the principle is so clear, it is believed that these
difficulties will ultimately be overcome.--J. B. K., President, I. A.
The wide, glistening road was gay with the coria. They darted in and
out of the gardens; within them the fair-haired, extraordinarily
beautiful women on their cushions were like princesses of Elfland,
caught in gorgeous fairy webs, resting within the hearts of flowers.
In some shells were flaxen-haired dwarfish men of Lugur's type;
sometimes black-polled brother officers of Rador; often raven-tressed
girls, plainly hand-maidens of the women; and now and then beauties of
the lower folk went by with one of the blond dwarfs.
We swept around the turn that made of the jewel-like roadway an
enormous horseshoe and, speedily, upon our right the cliffs through
which we had come in our journey from the Moon Pool began to march
forward beneath their mantles of moss. They formed a gigantic
abutment, a titanic salient. It had been from the very front of this
salient's invading angle that we had emerged; on each side of it the
precipices, faintly glowing, drew back and vanished into distance.
The slender, graceful bridges under which we skimmed ended at openings
in the upflung, far walls of verdure. Each had its little garrison of
soldiers. Through some of the openings a rivulet of the green obsidian
river passed. These were roadways to the farther country, to the land
of the ladala, Rador told me; adding that none of the lesser folk
could cross into the pavilioned city unless summoned or with pass.
We turned the bend of the road and flew down that farther emerald
ribbon we had seen from the great oval. Before us rose the shining
cliffs and the lake. A half-mile, perhaps, from these the last of the
bridges flung itself. It was more massive and about it hovered a
spirit of ancientness lacking in the other spans; also its garrison
was larger and at its base the tangent way was guarded by two massive
structures, somewhat like blockhouses, between which it ran. Something
about it aroused in me an intense curiosity.
"Where does that road lead, Rador?" I asked.
"To the one place above all of which I may not tell you, Goodwin," he
answered. And again I wondered.
We skimmed slowly out upon the great pier. Far to the left was the
prismatic, rainbow curtain between the Cyclopean pillars. On the white
waters graceful shells--lacustrian replicas of the Elf chariots--swam,
but none was near that distant web of wonder.
"Rador--what is that?" I asked.
"It is the Veil of the Shining One!" he answered slowly.
Was the Shining One that which we named the Dweller?
"What is the Shining One?" I cried, eagerly. Again he was silent.
Nor did he speak until we had turned on our homeward way.
And lively as my interest, my scientific curiosity, were--I was
conscious suddenly of acute depression. Beautiful, wondrously
beautiful this place was--and yet in its wonder dwelt a keen edge of
menace, of unease--of inexplicable, inhuman woe; as though in a secret
garden of God a soul should sense upon it the gaze of some lurking
spirit of evil which some way, somehow, had crept into the sanctuary
and only bided its time to spring.
The shell carried us straight back to the house of Yolara. Larry was
awaiting me. We stood again before the tenebrous wall where first we
had faced the priestess and the Voice. And as we stood, again the
portal appeared with all its disconcerting, magical abruptness.
But now the scene was changed. Around the jet table were grouped a
number of figures--Lugur, Yolara beside him; seven others-all of them
fair-haired and all men save one who sat at the left of the
priestess--an old, old woman, how old I could not tell, her face
bearing traces of beauty that must once have been as great as Yolara's
own, but now ravaged, in some way awesome; through its ruins the
fearful, malicious gaiety shining out like a spirit of joy held within
Began then our examination, for such it was. And as it progressed I
was more and more struck by the change in the O'Keefe. All flippancy
was gone, rarely did his sense of humour reveal itself in any of his
answers. He was like a cautious swordsman, fencing, guarding, studying
his opponent; or rather, like a chess-player who keeps sensing some
far-reaching purpose in the game: alert, contained, watchful. Always
he stressed the power of our surface races, their multitudes, their
Their questions were myriad. What were our occupations? Our system of
government? How great were the waters? The land? Intensely interested
were they in the World War, querying minutely into its causes, its
effects. In our weapons their interest was avid. And they were
exceedingly minute in their examination of us as to the ruins which
had excited our curiosity; their position and surroundings--and if
others than ourselves might be expected to find and pass through their
At this I shot a glance at Lugur. He did not seem unduly interested.
I wondered if the Russian had told him as yet of the girl of the rosy
wall of the Moon Pool Chamber and the real reasons for our search.
Then I answered as briefly as possible--omitting all reference to
these things. The red dwarf watched me with unmistakable
amusement--and I knew Marakinoff had told him. But clearly Lugur had
kept his information even from Yolara; and as clearly she had spoken
to none of that episode when O'Keefe's automatic had shattered the
Keth-smitten vase. Again I felt that sense of deep bewilderment--of
helpless search for clue to all the tangle.
For two hours we were questioned and then the priestess called Rador
and let us go.
Larry was sombre as we returned. He walked about the room uneasily.
"Hell's brewing here all right," he said at last, stopping before me.
"I can't make out just the particular brand--that's all that bothers
me. We're going to have a stiff fight, that's sure. What I want to do
quick is to find the Golden Girl, Doc. Haven't seen her on the wall
lately, have you?" he queried, hopefully fantastic.
"Laugh if you want to," he went on. "But she's our best bet. It's
going to be a race between her and the O'Keefe banshee--but I put my
money on her. I had a queer experience while I was in that garden,
after you'd left." His voice grew solemn. "Did you ever see a
leprechaun, Doc?" I shook my head again, as solemnly. "He's a little
man in green," said Larry. "Oh, about as high as your knee. I saw one
once--in Carntogher Woods. And as I sat there, half asleep, in
Yolara's garden, the living spit of him stepped out from one of those
bushes, twirling a little shillalah.
"'It's a tight box ye're gettin' in, Larry avick,' said he, 'but don't
ye be downhearted, lad.'
"'I'm carrying on,' said I, 'but you're a long way from Ireland,' I
said, or thought I did.
"'Ye've a lot o' friends there,' he answered. 'An' where the heart
rests the feet are swift to follow. Not that I'm sayin' I'd like to
live here, Larry,' said he.
"'I know where my heart is now,' I told him. 'It rests on a girl with
golden eyes and the hair and swan-white breast of Eilidh the Fair--but
me feet don't seem to get me to her,' I said."
The brogue thickened.
"An' the little man in green nodded his head an' whirled his
"'It's what I came to tell ye,' says he. 'Don't ye fall for the
Bhean-Nimher, the serpent woman wit' the blue eyes; she's a daughter
of Ivor, lad--an' don't ye do nothin' to make the brown-haired coleen
ashamed o' ye, Larry O'Keefe. I knew yer great, great grandfather an'
his before him, aroon,' says he, 'an' wan o' the O'Keefe failin's is
to think their hearts big enough to hold all the wimmen o' the world.
A heart's built to hold only wan permanently, Larry,' he says, 'an'
I'm warnin' ye a nice girl don't like to move into a place all
cluttered up wid another's washin' an' mendin' an' cookin' an' other
things pertainin' to general wife work. Not that I think the blue-eyed
wan is keen for mendin' an' cookin'!' says he.
"'You don't have to be comin' all this way to tell me that,' I answer.
"'Well, I'm just a tellin' you,' he says. 'Ye've got some rough
knocks comin', Larry. In fact, ye're in for a devil of a time. But,
remember that ye're the O'Keefe,' says he. 'An' while the bhoys are
all wid ye, avick, ye've got to be on the job yourself.'
"'I hope,' I tell him, 'that the O'Keefe banshee can find her way here
in time--that is, if it's necessary, which I hope it won't be.'
"'Don't ye worry about that,' says he. 'Not that she's keen on
leavin' the ould sod, Larry. The good ould soul's in quite a state o'
mind about ye, aroon. I don't mind tellin' ye, lad, that she's
mobilizing all the clan an' if she HAS to come for ye, avick, they'll
be wid her an' they'll sweep this joint clean before ye go. What
they'll do to it'll make the Big Wind look like a summer breeze on
Lough Lene! An' that's about all, Larry. We thought a voice from the
Green Isle would cheer ye. Don't fergit that ye're the O'Keefe an' I
say it again--all the bhoys are wid ye. But we want t' kape bein'
proud o' ye, lad!'
"An' I looked again and there was only a bush waving."
There wasn't a smile in my heart--or if there was it was a very tender
"I'm going to bed," he said abruptly. "Keep an eye on the wall, Doc!"
Between the seven sleeps that followed, Larry and I saw but little of
each other. Yolara sought him more and more. Thrice we were called
before the Council; once we were at a great feast, whose splendours
and surprises I can never forget. Largely I was in the company of
Rador. Together we two passed the green barriers into the
dwelling--place of the ladala.
They seemed provided with everything needful for life. But everywhere
was an oppressiveness, a gathering together of hate, that was
spiritual rather than material--as tangible as the latter and far, far
"They do not like to dance with the Shining One," was Rador's constant
and only reply to my efforts to find the cause.
Once I had concrete evidence of the mood. Glancing behind me, I saw a
white, vengeful face peer from behind a tree-trunk, a hand lift, a
shining dart speed from it straight toward Rador's back. Instinctively
I thrust him aside. He turned upon me angrily. I pointed to where the
little missile lay, still quivering, on the ground. He gripped my
"That, some day I will repay!" he said. I looked again at the thing.
At its end was a tiny cone covered with a glistening, gelatinous
Rador pulled from a tree beside us a fruit somewhat like an apple.
"Look!" he said. He dropped it upon the dart--and at once, before my
eyes, in less than ten seconds, the fruit had rotted away!
"That's what would have happened to Rador but for you, friend!" he
Come now between this and the prelude to the latter half of the drama
whose history this narrative is--only scattering and necessarily
First--the nature of the ebon opacities, blocking out the spaces
between the pavilion-pillars or covering their tops like roofs, These
were magnetic fields, light absorbers, negativing the vibrations of
radiance; literally screens of electric force which formed as
impervious a barrier to light as would have screens of steel.
They instantaneously made night appear in a place where no night was.
But they interposed no obstacle to air or to sound. They were
extremely simple in their inception--no more miraculous than is glass,
which, inversely, admits the vibrations of light, but shuts out those
coarser ones we call air--and, partly, those others which produce upon
our auditory nerves the effects we call sound.
Briefly their mechanism was this:
[For the same reason that Dr. Goodwin's exposition of the mechanism
of the atomic engines was deleted, his description of the
light-destroying screens has been deleted by the Executive
Council.--J. B. F., President, I. A. of S.]
There were two favoured classes of the ladala--the soldiers and the
dream-makers. The dream-makers were the most astonishing social
phenomena, I think, of all. Denied by their circumscribed environment
the wider experiences of us of the outer world, the Murians had
perfected an amazing system of escape through the imagination.
They were, too, intensely musical. Their favourite instruments were
double flutes; immensely complex pipe-organs; harps, great and small.
They had another remarkable instrument made up of a double octave of
small drums which gave forth percussions remarkably disturbing to the
It was this love of music that gave rise to one of the few truly
humorous incidents of our caverned life. Larry came to me--it was just
after our fourth sleep, I remember.
"Come on to a concert," he said.
We skimmed off to one of the bridge garrisons. Rador called the
two-score guards to attention; and then, to my utter stupefaction, the
whole company, O'Keefe leading them, roared out the anthem, "God Save
the King." They sang--in a closer approach to the English than might
have been expected scores of miles below England's level. "Send him
victorious! Happy and glorious!" they bellowed.
He quivered with suppressed mirth at my paralysis of surprise.
"Taught 'em that for Marakinoff's benefit!" he gasped. "Wait till that
Red hears it. He'll blow up.
"Just wait until you hear Yolara lisp a pretty little thing I taught
her," said Larry as we set back for what we now called home. There was
an impish twinkle in his eyes.
And I did hear. For it was not many minutes later that the priestess
condescended to command me to come to her with O'Keefe.
"Show Goodwin how much you have learned of our speech, O lady of the
lips of honeyed flame!" murmured Larry.
She hesitated; smiled at him, and then from that perfect mouth, out of
the exquisite throat, in the voice that was like the chiming of little
silver bells, she trilled a melody familiar to me indeed:
"She's only a bird in a gilded cage,
A bee-yu-tiful sight to see--"
And so on to the bitter end.
"She thinks it's a love-song," said Larry when we had left. "It's only
part of a repertoire I'm teaching her. Honestly, Doc, it's the only
way I can keep my mind clear when I'm with her," he went on earnestly.
"She's a devil-ess from hell--but a wonder. Whenever I find myself
going I get her to sing that, or Take Back Your Gold! or some other
ancient lay, and I'm back again--pronto--with the right perspective!
POP goes all the mystery! 'Hell!' I say, 'she's only a woman!'"
The Amphitheatre of Jet
For hours the black-haired folk had been streaming across the bridges,
flowing along the promenade by scores and by hundreds, drifting down
toward the gigantic seven-terraced temple whose interior I had never
as yet seen, and from whose towering exterior, indeed, I had always
been kept far enough away--unobtrusively, but none the less decisively
--to prevent any real observation. The structure, I had estimated,
nevertheless, could not reach less than a thousand feet above its
silvery base, and the diameter of its circular foundation was about
I wondered what was bringing the _ladala_ into Lora, and where they
were vanishing. All of them were flower-crowned with the luminous,
lovely blooms--old and young, slender, mocking-eyed girls, dwarfed
youths, mothers with their babes, gnomed oldsters--on they poured,
silent for the most part and sullen--a sullenness that held acid
bitterness even as their subtle, half-sinister, half-gay malice seemed
tempered into little keen-edged flames, oddly, menacingly defiant.
There were many of the green-clad soldiers along the way, and the
garrison of the only bridge span I could see had certainly been
Wondering still, I turned from my point of observation and made my way
back to our pavilion, hoping that Larry, who had been with Yolara for
the past two hours, had returned. Hardly had I reached it before Rador
came hurrying up, in his manner a curious exultance mingled with what
in anyone else I would have called a decided nervousness.
"Come!" he commanded before I could speak. "The Council has made
decision--and _Larree_ is awaiting you."
"What has been decided?" I panted as we sped along the mosaic path
that led to the house of Yolara. "And why is Larry awaiting me?"
And at his answer I felt my heart pause in its beat and through me
race a wave of mingled panic and eagerness.
"The Shining One dances!" had answered the green dwarf. "And you are
What was this dancing of the Shining One, of which so often he had
Whatever my forebodings, Larry evidently had none.
"Great stuff!" he cried, when we had met in the great antechamber now
empty of the dwarfs. "Hope it will be worth seeing--have to be
something damned good, though, to catch me, after what I've seen of
shows at the front," he added.
And remembering, with a little shock of apprehension, that he had no
knowledge of the Dweller beyond my poor description of it--for there
are no words actually to describe what that miracle of interwoven
glory and horror was--I wondered what Larry O'Keefe would say and do
when he did behold it!
Rador began to show impatience.
"Come!" he urged. "There is much to be done--and the time grows
He led us to a tiny fountain room in whose miniature pool the white
waters were concentrated, pearl-like and opalescent in their circling
"Bathe!" he commanded; and set the example by stripping himself and
plunging within. Only a minute or two did the green dwarf allow us,
and he checked us as we were about to don our clothing.
Then, to my intense embarrassment, without warning, two of the
black-haired girls entered, bearing robes of a peculiar dull-blue hue.
At our manifest discomfort Rador's laughter roared out. He took the
garments from the pair, motioned them to leave us, and, still
laughing, threw one around me. Its texture was soft, but decidedly
metallic--like some blue metal spun to the fineness of a spider's
thread. The garment buckled tightly at the throat, was girdled at the
waist, and, below this cincture, fell to the floor, its folds being
held together by a half-dozen looped cords; from the shoulders a hood
resembling a monk's cowl.
Rador cast this over my head; it completely covered my face, but was
of so transparent a texture that I could see, though somewhat mistily,
through it. Finally he handed us both a pair of long gloves of the
same material and high stockings, the feet of which were
And again his laughter rang out at our manifest surprise.
"The priestess of the Shining One does not altogether trust the
Shining One's Voice," he said at last. "And these are to guard against
any sudden--errors. And fear not, Goodwin," he went on kindly. "Not
for the Shining One itself would Yolara see harm come to _Larree_
here--nor, because of him, to you. But I would not stake much on the
great white one. And for him I am sorry, for him I do like well."
"Is he to be with us?" asked Larry eagerly.
"He is to be where we go," replied the dwarf soberly.
Grimly Larry reached down and drew from his uniform his automatic. He
popped a fresh clip into the pocket fold of his girdle. The pistol he
slung high up beneath his arm-pit.
The green dwarf looked at the weapon curiously. O'Keefe tapped it.
"This," said Larry, "slays quicker than the _Keth_--I take it so no
harm shall come to the blue-eyed one whose name is Olaf. If I should
raise it--be you not in its way, Rador!" he added significantly.
The dwarf nodded again, his eyes sparkling. He thrust a hand out to
both of us.
"A change comes," he said. "What it is I know not, nor how it will
fall. But this remember--Rador is more friend to you than you yet can
know. And now let us go!" he ended abruptly.
He led us, not through the entrance, but into a sloping passage ending
in a blind wall; touched a symbol graven there, and it opened,
precisely as had the rosy barrier of the Moon Pool Chamber. And, just
as there, but far smaller, was a passage end, a low curved wall facing
a shaft not black as had been that abode of living darkness, but
faintly luminescent. Rador leaned over the wall. The mechanism clicked
and started; the door swung shut; the sides of the car slipped into
place, and we swept swiftly down the passage; overhead the wind
whistled. In a few moments the moving platform began to slow down. It
stopped in a closed chamber no larger than itself.
Rador drew his poniard and struck twice upon the wall with its hilt.
Immediately a panel moved away, revealing a space filled with faint,
misty blue radiance. And at each side of the open portal stood four of
the dwarfish men, grey-headed, old, clad in flowing garments of white,
each pointing toward us a short silver rod.
Rador drew from his girdle a ring and held it out to the first dwarf.
He examined it, handed it to the one beside him, and not until each
had inspected the ring did they lower their curious weapons;
containers of that terrific energy they called the _Keth_, I thought;
and later was to know that I had been right.
We stepped out; the doors closed behind us. The place was weird
enough. Its pave was a greenish-blue stone resembling lapis lazuli. On
each side were high pedestals holding carved figures of the same
material. There were perhaps a score of these, but in the mistiness I
could not make out their outlines. A droning, rushing roar beat upon
our ears; filled the whole cavern.
"I smell the sea," said Larry suddenly.
The roaring became deep-toned, clamorous, and close in front of us a
rift opened. Twenty feet in width, it cut the cavern floor and
vanished into the blue mist on each side. The cleft was spanned by one
solid slab of rock not more than two yards wide. It had neither
railing nor other protection.
The four leading priests marched out upon it one by one, and we
followed. In the middle of the span they knelt. Ten feet beneath us
was a torrent of blue sea-water racing with prodigious speed between
polished walls. It gave the impression of vast depth. It roared as it
sped by, and far to the right was a low arch through which it
disappeared. It was so swift that its surface shone like polished blue
steel, and from it came the blessed, OUR WORLDLY, familiar ocean
breath that strengthened my soul amazingly and made me realize how
earth-sick I was.
Whence came the stream, I marvelled, forgetting for the moment, as we
passed on again, all else. Were we closer to the surface of earth than
I had thought, or was this some mighty flood falling through an
opening in sea floor, Heaven alone knew how many miles above us,
losing itself in deeper abysses beyond these? How near and how far
this was from the truth I was to learn--and never did truth come to
man in more dreadful guise!
The roaring fell away, the blue haze lessened. In front of us
stretched a wide flight of steps, huge as those which had led us into
the courtyard of Nan-Tauach through the ruined sea-gate. We scaled it;
it narrowed; from above light poured through a still narrower opening.
Side by side Larry and I passed out of it.
We had emerged upon an enormous platform of what seemed to be
glistening ivory. It stretched before us for a hundred yards or more
and then shelved gently into the white waters. Opposite--not a mile
away--was that prodigious web of woven rainbows Rador had called the
Veil of the Shining One. There it shone in all its unearthly grandeur,
on each side of the Cyclopean pillars, as though a mountain should
stretch up arms raising between them a fairy banner of auroral
glories. Beneath it was the curved, scimitar sweep of the pier with
its clustered, gleaming temples.
Before that brief, fascinated glance was done, there dropped upon my
soul a sensation as of brooding weight intolerable; a spiritual
oppression as though some vastness was falling, pressing, stifling me,
I turned--and Larry caught me as I reeled.
"Steady! Steady, old man!" he whispered.
At first all that my staggering consciousness could realize was an
immensity, an immeasurable uprearing that brought with it the same
throat-gripping vertigo as comes from gazing downward from some great
height--then a blur of white faces--intolerable shinings of hundreds
upon thousands of eyes. Huge, incredibly huge, a colossal amphitheatre
of jet, a stupendous semi-circle, held within its mighty arc the ivory
platform on which I stood.
It reared itself almost perpendicularly hundreds of feet up into the
sparkling heavens, and thrust down on each side its ebon
bulwarks--like monstrous paws. Now, the giddiness from its sheer
greatness passing, I saw that it was indeed an amphitheatre sloping
slightly backward tier after tier, and that the white blur of faces
against its blackness, the gleaming of countless eyes were those of
myriads of the people who sat silent, flower-garlanded, their gaze
focused upon the rainbow curtain and sweeping over me like a
Five hundred feet beyond, the smooth, high retaining wall of the
amphitheatre raised itself--above it the first terrace of the seats,
and above this, dividing the tiers for another half a thousand feet
upward, set within them like a panel, was a dead-black surface in
which shone faintly with a bluish radiance a gigantic disk; above it
and around it a cluster of innumerable smaller ones.
On each side of me, bordering the platform, were scores of small
pillared alcoves, a low wall stretching across their fronts; delicate,
fretted grills shielding them, save where in each lattice an opening
stared--it came to me that they were like those stalls in ancient
Gothic cathedrals wherein for centuries had kneeled paladins and
people of my own race on earth's fair face. And within these alcoves
were gathered, score upon score, the elfin beauties, the dwarfish men
of the fair-haired folk. At my right, a few feet from the opening
through which we had come, a passageway led back between the fretted
stalls. Half-way between us and the massive base of the amphitheatre a
dais rose. Up the platform to it a wide ramp ascended; and on ramp and
dais and along the centre of the gleaming platform down to where it
kissed the white waters, a broad ribbon of the radiant flowers lay
like a fairy carpet.
On one side of this dais, meshed in a silken web that hid no line or
curve of her sweet body, white flesh gleaming through its folds, stood
Yolara; and opposite her, crowned with a circlet of flashing blue
stones, his mighty body stark bare, was Lugur!
O'Keefe drew a long breath; Rador touched my arm and, still dazed, I
let myself be drawn into the aisle and through a corridor that ran
behind the alcoves. At the back of one of these the green dwarf
paused, opened a door, and motioned us within.
Entering, I found that we were exactly opposite where the ramp ran up
to the dais--and that Yolara was not more than fifty feet away. She
glanced at O'Keefe and smiled. Her eyes were ablaze with little
dancing points of light; her body seemed to palpitate, the rounded
delicate muscles beneath the translucent skin to run with joyful
little eager waves!
Larry whistled softly.
"There's Marakinoff!" he said.
I looked where he pointed. Opposite us sat the Russian, clothed as we
were, leaning forward, his eyes eager behind his glasses; but if he
saw us he gave no sign.
"And there's Olaf!" said O'Keefe.
Beneath the carved stall in which sat the Russian was an aperture and
within it was Huldricksson. Unprotected by pillars or by grills,
opening clear upon the platform, near him stretched the trail of
flowers up to the great dais which Lugur and Yolara the priestess
guarded. He sat alone, and my heart went out to him.
O'Keefe's face softened.
"Bring him here," he said to Rador.
The green dwarf was looking at the Norseman, too, a shade of pity upon
his mocking face. He shook his head.
"Wait!" he said. "You can do nothing now--and it may be there will be
no need to do anything," he added; but I could feel that there was
little of conviction in his words.
The Madness of Olaf
Yolara threw her white arms high. From the mountainous tiers came a
mighty sigh; a rippling ran through them. And upon the moment, before
Yolara's arms fell, there issued, apparently from the air around us, a
peal of sound that might have been the shouting of some playful god
hurling great suns through the net of stars. It was like the deepest
notes of all the organs in the world combined in one; summoning,
It held within it the thunder of the spheres rolling through the
infinite, the birth-song of suns made manifest in the womb of space;
echoes of creation's supernal chord! It shook the body like a pulse
from the heart of the universe--pulsed--and died away.
On its death came a blaring as of all the trumpets of conquering hosts
since the first Pharaoh led his swarms--triumphal, compelling!
Alexander's clamouring hosts, brazen-throated wolf-horns of Caesar's
legions, blare of trumpets of Genghis Khan and his golden horde,
clangor of the locust levies of Tamerlane, bugles of Napoleon's armies
--war-shout of all earth's conquerors! And it died!
Fast upon it, a throbbing, muffled tumult of harp sounds, mellownesses
of myriads of wood horns, the subdued sweet shrilling of multitudes of
flutes, Pandean pipings--inviting, carrying with them the calling of
waterfalls in the hidden places, rushing brooks and murmuring forest
winds--calling, calling, languorous, lulling, dripping into the brain
like the very honeyed essence of sound.
And after them a silence in which the memory of the music seemed to
beat, to beat ever more faintly, through every quivering nerve.
From me all fear, all apprehension, had fled. In their place was
nothing but joyous anticipation, a supernal freedom from even the
shadow of the shadow of care or sorrow; not now did anything
matter--Olaf or his haunted, hate-filled eyes; Throckmartin or his
fate--nothing of pain, nothing of agony, nothing of striving nor
endeavour nor despair in that wide outer world that had turned
suddenly to a troubled dream.
Once more the first great note pealed out! Once more it died and from
the clustered spheres a kaleidoscopic blaze shot as though drawn from
the majestic sound itself. The many-coloured rays darted across the
white waters and sought the face of the irised Veil. As they touched,
it sparkled, flamed, wavered, and shook with fountains of prismatic
The light increased--and in its intensity the silver air darkened.
Faded into shadow that white mosaic of flower-crowned faces set in the
amphitheatre of jet, and vast shadows dropped upon the high-flung
tiers and shrouded them. But on the skirts of the rays the fretted
stalls in which we sat with the fair-haired ones blazed out,
iridescent, like jewels.
I was sensible of an acceleration of every pulse; a wild stimulation
of every nerve. I felt myself being lifted above the world--close to
the threshold of the high gods--soon their essence and their power
would stream out into me! I glanced at Larry. His eyes were--wild--
I looked at Olaf--and in his face was none of this--only hate, and
hate, and hate.
The peacock waves streamed out over the waters, cleaving the seeming
darkness, a rainbow path of glory. And the Veil flashed as though all
the rainbows that had ever shone were burning within it. Again the
mighty sound pealed.
Into the centre of the Veil the light drew itself, grew into an
intolerable brightness--and with a storm of tinklings, a tempest of
crystalline notes, a tumult of tiny chimings, through it sped--the
Straight down that radiant path, its high-flung plumes of feathery
flame shimmering, its coruscating spirals whirling, its seven globes
of seven colours shining above its glowing core, it raced toward us.
The hurricane of bells of diamond glass were jubilant, joyous. I felt
O'Keefe grip my arm; Yolara threw her white arms out in a welcoming
gesture; I heard from the tier a sigh of rapture--and in it a
poignant, wailing under-tone of agony!
Over the waters, down the light stream, to the end of the ivory pier,
flew the Shining One. Through its crystal _pizzicati_ drifted
inarticulate murmurings--deadly sweet, stilling the heart and setting
it leaping madly.
For a moment it paused, poised itself, and then came whirling down the
flower path to its priestess, slowly, ever more slowly. It hovered for
a moment between the woman and the dwarf, as though contemplating
them; turned to her with its storm of tinklings softened, its
murmurings infinitely caressing. Bent toward it, Yolara seemed to
gather within herself pulsing waves of power; she was terrifying;
gloriously, maddeningly evil; and as gloriously, maddeningly heavenly!
Aphrodite and the Virgin! Tanith of the Carthaginians and St. Bride of
the Isles! A queen of hell and a princess of heaven--in one!
Only for a moment did that which we had called the Dweller and which
these named the Shining One, pause. It swept up the ramp to the dais,
rested there, slowly turning, plumes and spirals lacing and unlacing,
throbbing, pulsing. Now its nucleus grew plainer, stronger--human in a
fashion, and all inhuman; neither man nor woman; neither god nor
devil; subtly partaking of all. Nor could I doubt that whatever it
was, within that shining nucleus was something sentient; something
that had will and energy, and in some awful, supernormal
Another trumpeting--a sound of stones opening--a long, low wail of
utter anguish--something moved shadowy in the river of light, and
slowly at first, then ever more rapidly, shapes swam through it. There