He ascends a stairway into unearthly chambers which, if inhabited, are peopled by invisible and impalpable beings. Worn out with his experiences, the explorer falls asleep in the upper chamber whose windows are the eyes of the image. When he awakens, he finds the city of clossi is on the march! The membered edifices stride with titanic measured paces, as if to a known destination. On the verge of the sea of blood-red waters, they meet in a similar array of images with whom they do battle.
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After the battle has been one by the first group, the image in which the explore is domiciled separates it self from the others and bears him back to the neighbourhood of its his fellows. The manner of its animation and control remains an unsolved mystery. The tale is told as a reminiscence of the space-explorer in his old age. Correspondingly, he develops a nyctaloptic faculty, and can see most perfectly in complete darkness.
He draws and paints under such conditions, but his pictures are considered increasingly unintelligible. He seems to perceive and render new colors di not discernible by others. Presently he begins to obtain glimpses of some occult realm that does not coincide with anything in the known world about him. His most frequent and persistent vision is that of a strange, vast pit or gulf, where a b! About this pillar, in aerial mazes of a weird dance of vertiginous ecstasy, a rout of alien beings are whirled recurrently, rising and sinking out of unknown abysses.
Geast is possessed of a great fear and also a desire that he will somehow be precipitated into this alien world. Then they are to break open the stone sarcophagus of Hurun and bring to Ruul-Vash certain magic talismans said to have been interred with the wizard. These talismans are of fabulous potency. The gholliish task is not to the liking of the thieves. Ruul-Vash assures them that, owing to the immense antiquity of the corpse, there will be little left of Hurun except dust.
Satampra Zeiros and his companion go forth by night to the ancient tomb, which is now but a grass-and-tree-grown mound with a cave-like entrance little larger than a jackat's burrow. The door of the vault has rusted away, and the inner tomb has long been a lairing-place of beasts. The sarcophagus, however, is intact, and is opened with some difficulty by the thieves, who, obeying RuuI-Vash's instructions, chisel away certain mysterious cyphers engraved on the lid.
Within, to their mingled relief and disappointment, they find no trace of the wizard's body or the talismans-only a few pinches of fine brown powder from which a faint ghostly odor exhales and quickly evaporates. Satampra Zeiros, however, sees, or imagines that he sees, a small indistinct shadow like that of some half-human homunculus, which slides down the side of the stone box in the light of the wavering torch held by his companion, and vanishes in the gloom. The two return to Ruul-Vash, who refuses to believe that they found the sarcophagus empty, and charges them with secreting the magic talismans.
On this charge, they are thrown into the dungeon beneath the temple of the moron-god, and are threatened with dire tortures by Ruul-Vash and his acolytes. Lashed to the frames of certain instruments of torture, they see on the dungeon-floor the same shadow that had seemed to emerge from the sarcophagus. The shadow falls across the feet of Ruul-Vash, who has ordered the torturers to begin their operations. Ruul-Vash falls in agony, his feet crumbling into dust fine as that of some ancient mummy.
The shadow, increasing in size, covers his legs-and the legs also crumble. Soon there is nothing left of the high-priest, except the fine dust. The torturers flee; and the shadow, now grown to human size but with non-human form, touches with its hands the bonds of Satampra Zeiros and his companion. The bonds dissolve, leaving the burglars free to escape from the temple dungeon.
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Fantastic Half-shapen dooms shall slumber in my vaults, And in my volumes cryptic runes that shall Outblast the pestilence, outgnaw the worm Amid Throughout remoter years when death is dust. When loosed by alien wizards on strange years Under the blackened moon and paling sun. Compare this poem to the later and much longer poem "Soliloquy in an Ebon Tower," of which it may be a first version.
No one knows anything about him. Out of curiosity, one follows him and sees him melt and disappear, in mistily diffused and dismembered, into the features of a desolate landscape.
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He traps a being of unearthly intelligence-who, it develops, has allowed himself to be trapped. The being uses the cage to take the scientist into a sort of desolate limbo and leaves him there. The expedition is trapped by the tremendous gravity of the dead, solid orb but accomplishes its purpose, after sending back to earth a rocket containing reports, messages, etc. Thy will, that climbs from dark estates, Shall divinize the godless fates, This fiery-ecstasy of dream Attain beyond forbidden gates. Melt down the grim, forbidden gates.
Of time, and open distant spheres spheres extreme: Beyond the starry-bubbled stream, - Beyond Aldebaran, Capella, past Altair,- Where amaranthine gardens gleam. Thy feet, on changing mountains fair Of cloud, shall tread, track the solar chair; Or over Endor thou shalt ride Unfrighted on the tamed nightmare. Thy feet shall tread the Lion's lair, Thy hands shall hold catch the comet's hair; Or over Endor thou shalt ride Unfrighted on the tamed nightmare.
Thou shalt be free of temporal tide, And from the spatial prisons glide; Or into throughout years behind the tomb Return, or in strange futures bide. And thou shalt breathe the flame and fume Of Beltis' altars drowned in gloom, Under her sharded Fanes, or share The fabled Atlantean doom. And rise unharmed to light and air, From ancient death, from slained despair, again to dare The planet of thy slain despair.
Why, Creation's tame submission? Will no man Cry out against this cosmic abatoir Where God the butcher drives us one by one Into the slaughter-pen and slits our throats? O, bestial dumb submission! Will no voice Cry out against this cosmic abatoir Where God the butcher drives us one by one Into the slaughter-pen and slits our throats? In lieu of prayer or incense, let us proffer A protest and a taunt. And in your face a shadow risen from vast vaults. Here, in the moonlight, he meets a beautiful being who calls herself Morthizza, lamia and sprit of the tombs. Half-believing, half-disbelieving.
They meet night after night. His desires begin to revive, but she tantalizes him, refusing corporeal contact. One night, as playful proof that she is a vampire. Morthylla wounds him in the throat with her teeth, saying that this is the only kiss permitted between them.
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But, as proof of her love, she will not suck his blood. Valzain pleass for a further consummation. Wistfully, she tells him that he must know and love her as she really is before such a consummation would be possible. A day or two later Valzain, visiting the twin city Psiom, sees a woman in the street who has the very features of Morthylla.
A friend tells him that she is Beldith, a woman of pleasure, who lately has been absenting herself from the orgies of Psiom, and has been seen going forth at night toward the old necropolis that was once common to both of the cities of the Delta. Valzain, disillusioned, realizes that she is identical with Morthylla, and that she has been playing a game with him.
He seeks her out and taxes her with the deception, which she readily admits, at the same time asking if she he cannot love her as a mortal women, since she, all the time, had loved him as a man. Valzain, fearful of the revulsion of the flesh which, for him, has ensued every carnal contact, tells her sorrowfully of his disenchantment, and without reproaches, bids her farewell. Later, unable to bear the tedium of existence, he commits suicide, stabbing himself in the throat with a sharp poignard at the same spot were Mothylla's teeth had wounded him.
After death, he finds himself at that point in time where he had first met Morthylla among the tombs, and the illusion begins to repeat itself for him, presumably with no danger of an awakening. The woman Beldith grows old and grey among the revelries of Psiom; but her intimates note that she seems often absent-minded between the wine-cups; and her young lovers sometimes complain that she is distrait and unresponsive in their arms.
At the sunset, Rising Wakening, I beheld the clouds, a hundred Shapes of antic gods and beasts of wonder Gathered on the horizon. Vulcan, with his forge behind him, towered Blackly, limned in fire, against the boundless Concave west; and Polyphemus spouted Purple spray on Triton. There with gaping mouth the Mantichora Foamed for prey and uttered silent roarings; Then the Demiurge bore on headless shoulders Some enormous fardel.