The Building Of The Moon Pool

: The Moon Pool

She paused, running her long fingers through her own bronze-flecked

ringlets. Selective breeding this, with a vengeance, I thought; an

ancient experiment in heredity which of course would in time result in

the stamping out of the tendency to depart from type that lies in all

organisms; resulting, obviously, at last, in three fixed forms of

black-haired, ruddy-haired, and silver-haired--but this, with a shock

of realiza
ion it came to me, was also an accurate description of the

dark-polled ladala, their fair-haired rulers and of the golden-brown

tressed Lakla!

How--questions began to stream through my mind; silenced by the

handmaiden's voice.

"Above, far, far above the abode of the Shining One," she said, "was

their greatest temple, holding the shrines both of sun and moon. All

about it were other temples hidden behind mighty walls, each enclosing

its own space and squared and ruled and standing within a shallow

lake; the sacred city, the city of the gods of this land--"

"It is the Nan-Matal that she is describing," I thought.

"Out upon all this looked the Taithu who were now but the servants

of the Shining One as it had been the messenger of the Three," she

went on. "When they returned the Shining One spoke to them, promising

them dominion over all that they had seen, yea, under it dominion of

all earth itself and later perhaps of other earths!

"In the Shining One had grown craft, cunning; knowledge to gain that

which it desired. Therefore it told its Taithu--and mayhap told

them truth--that not yet was it time for them to go forth; that slowly

must they pass into that outer world, for they had sprung from heart

of earth and even it lacked power to swirl unaided into and through

the above. Then it counselled them, instructing them what to do. They

hollowed the chamber wherein first I saw you, cutting their way to it

that path down which from it you sped.

"It revealed to them that the force that is within moon flame is kin

to the force that is within it, for the chamber of its birth was the

chamber too of moon birth and into it went the subtle essence and

powers that flow in that earth child: and it taught them how to make

that which fills what you call the Moon Pool whose opening is close

behind its Veil hanging upon the gleaming cliffs.

"When this was done it taught them how to make and how to place the

seven lights through which moon flame streams into Moon Pool--the

seven lights that are kin to its own seven orbs even as its fires are

kin to moon fires--and which would open for it a path that it could

tread. And all this the Taithu did, working so secretly that neither

those of their race whose faces were set against the Shining One nor

the busy men above know aught of it.

"When it was done they moved up the path, clustering within the Moon

Pool Chamber. Moon flame streamed through the seven globes, poured

down upon the pool; they saw mists arise, embrace, and become one with

the moon flame--and then up through Moon Pool, shaping itself within

the mists of light, whirling, radiant--the Shining One!

"Almost free, almost loosed upon the world it coveted!

"Again it counselled them, and they pierced the passage whose portal

you found first; set the fires within its stones, and revealing

themselves to the moon king and his priests spake to them even as the

Shining One had instructed.

"Now was the moon king filled with fear when he looked upon the

Taithu, shrouded with protecting mists of light in Moon Pool

Chamber, and heard their words. Yet, being crafty, he thought of the

power that would be his if he heeded and how quickly the strength of

the sun king would dwindle. So he and his made a pact with the Shining

One's messengers.

"When next the moon was round and poured its flames down upon Moon

Pool, the Taithu gathered there again, watched the child of the

Three take shape within the pillars, speed away--and out! They heard a

mighty shouting, a tumult of terror, of awe and of worship; a silence;

a vast sighing--and they waited, wrapped in their mists of light, for

they feared to follow nor were they near the paths that would have

enabled them to look without.

"Another tumult--and back came the Shining One, murmuring with joy,

pulsing, triumphant, and clasped within its vapours a man and woman,

ruddy-haired, golden-eyed, in whose faces rapture and horror lay side

by side--gloriously, hideously. And still holding them it danced above

the Moon Pool and--sank!

"Now must I be brief. Lat after lat the Shining One went forth,

returning with its sacrifices. And stronger after each it grew--and

gayer and more cruel. Ever when it passed with its prey toward the

pool, the Taithu who watched felt a swift, strong intoxication, a

drunkenness of spirit, streaming from it to them. And the Shining One

forgot what it had promised them of dominion--and in this new evil

delight they too forgot.

"The outer land was torn with hatred and open strife. The moon king

and his kind, through the guidance of the evil Taithu and the favour

of the Shining One, had become powerful and the sun king and his were

darkened. And the moon priests preached that the child of the Three

was the moon god itself come to dwell with them.

"Now vast tides arose and when they withdrew they took with them great

portions of this country. And the land itself began to sink. Then said

the moon king that the moon had called to ocean to destroy because

wroth that another than he was worshipped. The people believed and

there was slaughter. When it was over there was no more a sun king nor

any of the ruddy-haired folk; slain were they, slain down to the babe

at breast.

"But still the tides swept higher; still dwindled the land!

"As it shrank multitudes of the fleeing people were led through Moon

Pool Chamber and carried here. They were what now are called the

ladala, and they were given place and set to work; and they thrived.

Came many of the fair-haired; and they were given dwellings. They sat

beside the evil Taithu; they became drunk even as they with the

dancing of the Shining One; they learned--not all; only a little part

but little enough--of their arts. And ever the Shining One danced more

gaily out there within the black amphitheatre; grew ever stronger--and

ever the hordes of its slaves behind the Veil increased.

"Nor did the Taithu who clung to the old ways check this--they

could not. By the sinking of the land above, their own spaces were

imperilled. All of their strength and all of their wisdom it took to

keep this land from perishing; nor had they help from those others mad

for the poison of the Shining One; and they had no time to deal with

them nor the earth race with whom they had foregathered.

"At last came a slow, vast flood. It rolled even to the bases of the

walled islets of the city of the gods--and within these now were all

that were left of my people on earth face.

"I am of those people," she paused, looking at me proudly, "one of the

daughters of the sun king whose seed is still alive in the ladala!"

As Larry opened his mouth to speak she waved a silencing hand.

"This tide did not recede," she went on. "And after a time the

remnant, the moon king leading them, joined those who had already fled

below. The rocks became still, the quakings ceased, and now those

Ancient Ones who had been labouring could take breath. And anger grew

within them as they looked upon the work of their evil kin. Again they

sought the Three--and the Three now knew what they had done and their

pride was humbled. They would not slay the Shining One themselves, for

still they loved it; but they instructed these others how to undo

their work; how also they might destroy the evil Taithu were it


"Armed with the wisdom of the Three they went forth--but now the

Shining One was strong indeed. They could not slay it!

"Nay, it knew and was prepared; they could not even pass beyond its

Veil nor seal its abode. Ah, strong, strong, mighty of will, full of

craft and cunning had the Shining One become. So they turned upon

their kind who had gone astray and made them perish, to the last. The

Shining One came not to the aid of its servants--though they called;

for within its will was the thought that they were of no further use

to it; that it would rest awhile and dance with them--who had so

little of the power and wisdom of its Taithu and therefore no reins

upon it. And while this was happening black-haired and fair-haired ran

and hid and were but shaking vessels of terror.

"The Ancient Ones took counsel. This was their decision; that they

would go from the gardens before the Silver Waters--leaving, since

they could not kill it, the Shining One with its worshippers. They

sealed the mouth of the passage that leads to the Moon Pool Chamber

and they changed the face of the cliff so that none might tell where

it had been. But the passage itself they left open--having

foreknowledge I think, of a thing that was to come to pass in the far

future--perhaps it was your journey here, my Larry and Goodwin--verily

I think so. And they destroyed all the ways save that which

we three trod to the Dweller's abode.

"For the last time they went to the Three--to pass sentence upon them.

This was the doom--that here they should remain, alone, among the

Akka, served by them, until that time dawned when they would have

will to destroy the evil they had created--and even now--loved; nor

might they seek death, nor follow their judges until this had come to

pass. This was the doom they put upon the Three for the wickedness

that had sprung from their pride, and they strengthened it with their

arts that it might not be broken.

"Then they passed--to a far land they had chosen where the Shining One

could not go, beyond the Black Precipices of Doul, a green land--"

"Ireland!" interrupted Larry, with conviction, "I knew it."

"Since then time upon time had passed," she went on, unheeding. "The

people called this place Muria after their sunken land and soon they

forgot where had been the passage the Taithu had sealed. The moon

king became the Voice of the Dweller and always with the Voice is a

woman of the moon king's kin who is its priestess.

"And many have been the journeys upward of the Shining One, through

the Moon Pool--returning with still others in its coils.

"And now again has it grown restless, longing for the wider spaces.

It has spoken to Yolara and to Lugur even as it did to the dead

Taithu, promising them dominion. And it has grown stronger, drawing

to itself power to go far on the moon stream where it will. Thus was

it able to seize your friend, Goodwin, and Olaf's wife and babe--and

many more. Yolara and Lugur plan to open way to earth face; to depart

with their court and under the Shining One grasp the world!

"And this is the tale the Silent Ones bade me tell you--and it is


Breathlessly I had listened to the stupendous epic of a long-lost

world. Now I found speech to voice the question ever with me, the

thing that lay as close to my heart as did the welfare of Larry,

indeed the whole object of my quest--the fate of Throckmartin and

those who had passed with him into the Dweller's lair; yes, and of

Olaf's wife, too.

"Lakla," I said, "the friend who drew me here and those he loved who

went before him--can we not save them?"

"The Three say no, Goodwin." There was again in her eyes the pity with

which she had looked upon Olaf. "The Shining One--feeds--upon the

flame of life itself, setting in its place its own fires and its own

will. Its slaves are only shells through which it gleams. Death, say

the Three, is the best that can come to them; yet will that be a boon

great indeed."

"But they have souls, mavourneen," Larry said to her. "And they're

alive still--in a way. Anyhow, their souls have not gone from them."

I caught a hope from his words--sceptic though I am--holding that the

existence of soul has never been proved by dependable laboratory

methods--for they recalled to me that when I had seen Throckmartin,

Edith had been close beside him.

"It was days after his wife was taken, that the Dweller seized

Throckmartin," I cried. "How, if their wills, their life, were indeed

gone, how did they find each other mid all that horde? How did they

come together in the Dweller's lair?"

"I do not know," she answered, slowly. "You say they loved--and it is

true that love is stronger even than death!"

"One thing I don't understand"--this was Larry again--"is why a girl

like you keeps coming out of the black-haired crowd; so frequently and

one might say, so regularly, Lakla. Aren't there ever any red-headed

boys--and if they are what becomes of them?"

"That, Larry, I cannot answer," she said, very frankly. "There was a

pact of some kind; how made or by whom I know not. But for long the

Murians feared the return of the Taithu and greatly they feared the

Three. Even the Shining One feared those who had created it--for a

time; and not even now is it eager to face them--that I know. Nor are

Yolara and Lugur so sure. It may be that the Three commanded it: but

how or why I know not. I only know that it is true--for here am I and

from where else would I have come?"

"From Ireland," said Larry O'Keefe, promptly. "And that's where

you're going. For 'tis no place for a girl like you to have been

brought up--Lakla; what with people like frogs, and a half-god three

quarters devil, and red oceans, an' the only Irish things yourself and

the Silent Ones up there, bless their hearts. It's no place for ye,

and by the soul of St. Patrick, it's out of it soon ye'll be gettin'!"

Larry! Larry! If it had but been true--and I could see Lakla and you

beside me now!