The Coming Of Yolara

: The Moon Pool

"Never was there such a girl!" Thus Larry, dreamily, leaning head in

hand on one of the wide divans of the chamber where Lakla had left us,

pleading service to the Silent Ones.

"An', by the faith and the honour of the O'Keefes, an' by my dead

mother's soul may God do with me as I do by her!" he whispered


He relapsed into open-eyed dreaming.

I walked abou
the room, examining it--the first opportunity I had

gained to inspect carefully any of the rooms in the abode of the

Three. It was octagonal, carpeted with the thick rugs that seemed

almost as though woven of soft mineral wool, faintly shimmering,

palest blue. I paced its diagonal; it was fifty yards; the ceiling was

arched, and either of pale rose metal or metallic covering; it

collected the light from the high, slitted windows, and shed it,

diffused, through the room.

Around the octagon ran a low gallery not two feet from the floor,

balustraded with slender pillars, close set; broken at opposite

curtained entrances over which hung thick, dull-gold curtainings

giving the same suggestion of metallic or mineral substance as the

rugs. Set within each of the eight sides, above the balcony, were

colossal slabs of lapis lazuli, inset with graceful but unplaceable

designs in scarlet and sapphire blue.

There was the great divan on which mused Larry; two smaller ones, half

a dozen low seats and chairs carved apparently of ivory and of dull

soft gold.

Most curious were tripods, strong, pikelike legs of golden metal four

feet high, holding small circles of the lapis with intaglios of one

curious symbol somewhat resembling the ideographs of the Chinese.

There was no dust--nowhere in these caverned spaces had I found this

constant companion of ours in the world overhead. My eyes caught a

sparkle from a corner. Pursuing it I found upon one of the low seats a

flat, clear crystal oval, remarkably like a lens. I took it and

stepped up on the balcony. Standing on tiptoe I found I commanded from

the bottom of a window slit a view of the bridge approach. Scanning it

I could see no trace of the garrison there, nor of the green spear

flashes. I placed the crystal to my eyes--and with a disconcerting

abruptness the cavern mouth leaped before me, apparently not a hundred

feet away; decidedly the crystal was a very excellent lens--but where

were the guards?

I peered closely. Nothing! But now against the aperture I saw a

score or more of tiny, dancing sparks. An optical illusion, I thought,

and turned the crystal in another direction. There were no sparklings

there. I turned it back again--and there they were. And what were

they like? Realization came to me--they were like the little, dancing,

radiant atoms that had played for a time about the emptiness where had

stood Sorgar of the Lower Waters before he had been shaken into the

nothingness! And that green light I had noticed--the Keth!

A cry on my lips, I turned to Larry--and the cry died as the heavy

curtainings at the entrance on my right undulated, parted as though a

body had slipped through, shook and parted again and again--with the

dreadful passing of unseen things!

"Larry!" I cried. "Here! Quick!"

He leaped to his feet, gazed about wildly--and disappeared!

Yes--vanished from my sight like the snuffed flame of a candle or as

though something moving with the speed of light itself had snatched

him away!

Then from the divan came the sounds of struggle, the hissing of

straining breaths, the noise of Larry cursing. I leaped over the

balustrade, drawing my own pistol--was caught in a pair of mighty

arms, my elbows crushed to my sides, drawn down until my face pressed

close to a broad, hairy breast--and through that obstacle--formless,

shadowless, transparent as air itself--I could still see the battle on

the divan!

Now there were two sharp reports; the struggle abruptly ceased. From

a point not a foot over the great couch, as though oozing from the air

itself, blood began to drop, faster and ever faster, pouring out of


And out of that same air, now a dozen feet away, leaped the face of

Larry--bodyless, poised six feet above the floor, blazing with

rage--floating weirdly, uncannily to a hideous degree, in vacancy.

His hands flashed out--armless; they wavered, appearing,

disappearing--swiftly tearing something from him. Then there, feet

hidden, stiff on legs that vanished at the ankles, striking out into

vision with all the dizzy abruptness with which he had been stricken

from sight was the O'Keefe, a smoking pistol in hand.

And ever that red stream trickled out of vacancy and spread over the

couch, dripping to the floor.

I made a mighty movement to escape; was held more firmly--and then

close to the face of Larry, flashing out with that terrifying

instantaneousness even as had his, was the head of Yolara, as

devilishly mocking as I had ever seen it, the cruelty shining through

it like delicate white flames from hell--and beautiful!

"Stir not! Strike not--until I command!" She flung the words beyond

her, addressed to the invisible ones who had accompanied her; whose

presences I sensed filling the chamber. The floating, beautiful head,

crowned high with corn-silk hair, darted toward the Irishman. He took

a swift step backward. The eyes of the priestess deepened toward

purple; sparkled with malice.

"So," she said. "So, Larree--you thought you could go from me so

easily!" She laughed softly. "In my hidden hand I hold the Keth

cone," she murmured. "Before you can raise the death tube I can smite

you--and will. And consider, Larree, if the handmaiden, the choya

comes, I can vanish--so"--the mocking head disappeared, burst forth

again--"and slay her with the Keth--or bid my people seize her and

bear her to the Shining One!"

Tiny beads of sweat stood out on O'Keefe's forehead, and I knew he was

thinking not of himself, but of Lakla.

"What do you want with me, Yolara?" he asked hoarsely.

"Nay," came the mocking voice. "Not Yolara to you, Larree--call me

by those sweet names you taught me--Honey of the Wild Bee-e-s, Net of

Hearts--" Again her laughter tinkled.

"What do you want with me?" his voice was strained, the lips rigid.

"Ah, you are afraid, Larree." There was diabolic jubilation in the

words. "What should I want but that you return with me? Why else did I

creep through the lair of the dragon worm and pass the path of perils

but to ask you that? And the choya guards you not well." Again she

laughed. "We came to the cavern's end and, there were her Akka. And

the Akka can see us--as shadows. But it was my desire to surprise

you with my coming, Larree," the voice was silken. "And I feared that

they would hasten to be first to bring you that message to delight in

your joy. And so, Larree, I loosed the Keth upon them--and gave

them peace and rest within the nothingness. And the portal below was

open--almost in welcome!"

Once more the malignant, silver pealing of her laughter.

"What do you want with me?" There was wrath in his eyes, and plainly

he strove for control.

"Want!" the silver voice hissed, grew calm. "Do not Siya and Siyana

grieve that the rite I pledged them is but half done--and do they not

desire it finished? And am I not beautiful? More beautiful than your


The fiendishness died from the eyes; they grew blue, wondrous; the

veil of invisibility slipped down from the neck, the shoulders, half

revealing the gleaming breasts. And weird, weird beyond all telling

was that exquisite head and bust floating there in air--and beautiful,

sinisterly beautiful beyond all telling, too. So even might Lilith,

the serpent woman, have shown herself tempting Adam!

"And perhaps," she said, "perhaps I want you because I hate you;

perhaps because I love you--or perhaps for Lugur or perhaps for the

Shining One."

"And if I go with you?" He said it quietly.

"Then shall I spare the handmaiden--and--who knows?--take back my

armies that even now gather at the portal and let the Silent Ones rot

in peace in their abode--from which they had no power to keep me," she

added venomously.

"You will swear that, Yolara; swear to go without harming the

handmaiden?" he asked eagerly. The little devils danced in her eyes. I

wrenched my face from the smothering contact.

"Don't trust her, Larry!" I cried--and again the grip choked me.

"Is that devil in front of you or behind you, old man?" he asked

quietly, eyes never leaving the priestess. "If he's in front I'll take

a chance and wing him--and then you scoot and warn Lakla."

But I could not answer; nor, remembering Yolara's threat, would I, had

I been able.

"Decide quickly!" There was cold threat in her voice.

The curtains toward which O'Keefe had slowly, step by step, drawn

close, opened. They framed the handmaiden! The face of Yolara changed

to that gorgon mask that had transformed it once before at sight of

the Golden Girl. In her blind rage she forgot to cast the occulting

veil. Her hand darted like a snake out of the folds; poising itself

with the little silver cone aimed at Lakla.

But before it was wholly poised, before the priestess could loose its

force, the handmaiden was upon her. Swift as the lithe white wolf

hound she leaped, and one slender hand gripped Yolara's throat, the

other the wrist that lifted the quivering death; white limbs wrapped

about the hidden ones, I saw the golden head bend, the hand that held

the Keth swept up with a vicious jerk; saw Lakla's teeth sink into

the wrist--the blood spurt forth and heard the priestess shriek. The

cone fell, bounded toward me; with all my strength I wrenched free the

hand that held my pistol, thrust it against the pressing breast and


The clasp upon me relaxed; a red rain stained me; at my feet a little

pillar of blood jetted; a hand thrust itself from nothingness,

clawed--and was still.

Now Yolara was down, Lakla meshed in her writhings and fighting like

some wild mother whose babes are serpent menaced. Over the two of

them, astride, stood the O'Keefe, a pike from one of the high tripods

in his hand--thrusting, parrying, beating on every side as with a

broadsword against poniard-clutching hands that thrust themselves out

of vacancy striving to strike him; stepping here and there, always

covering, protecting Lakla with his own body even as a caveman of old

who does battle with his mate for their lives.

The sword-club struck--and on the floor lay the half body of a dwarf,

writhing with vanishments and reappearings of legs and arms. Beside

him was the shattered tripod from which Larry had wrenched his weapon.

I flung myself upon it, dashed it down to break loose one of the

remaining supports, struck in midfall one of the unseen even as his

dagger darted toward me! The seat splintered, leaving in my clutch a

golden bar. I jumped to Larry's side, guarding his back, whirling it

like a staff; felt it crunch once--twice--through unseen bone and


At the door was a booming. Into the chamber rushed a dozen of the

frog-men. While some guarded the entrances, others leaped straight to

us, and forming a circle about us began to strike with talons and

spurs at unseen things that screamed and sought to escape. Now here

and there about the blue rugs great stains of blood appeared; heads of

dwarfs, torn arms and gashed bodies, half occulted, half revealed. And

at last the priestess lay silent, vanquished, white body gleaming with

that uncanny--fragmentariness--from her torn robes. Then O'Keefe

reached down, drew Lakla from her. Shakily, Yolara rose to her feet.

The handmaiden, face still blazing with wrath, stepped before her;

with difficulty she steadied her voice.

"Yolara," she said, "you have defied the Silent Ones, you have

desecrated their abode, you came to slay these men who are the guests

of the Silent Ones and me, who am their handmaiden--why did you do

these things?"

"I came for him!" gasped the priestess; she pointed to O'Keefe.

"Why?" asked Lakla.

"Because he is pledged to me," replied Yolara, all the devils that

were hers in her face. "Because he wooed me! Because he is mine!"

"That is a lie!" The handmaiden's voice shook with rage. "It is a lie!

But here and now he shall choose, Yolara. And if you he choose, you

and he shall go forth from here unmolested--for Yolara, it is his

happiness that I most desire, and if you are that happiness--you shall

go together. And now, Larry, choose!"

Swiftly she stepped beside the priestess; swiftly wrenched the last

shreds of the hiding robes from her.

There they stood--Yolara with but the filmiest net of gauze about her

wonderful body; gleaming flesh shining through it; serpent woman---and

wonderful, too, beyond the dreams even of Phidias--and hell-fire

glowing from the purple eyes.

And Lakla, like a girl of the Vikings, like one of those warrior maids

who stood and fought for dun and babes at the side of those old heroes

of Larry's own green isle; translucent ivory lambent through the rents

of her torn draperies, and in the wide, golden eyes flaming wrath,

indeed--not the diabolic flames of the priestess but the righteous

wrath of some soul that looking out of paradise sees vile wrong in the


"Lakla," the O'Keefe's voice was subdued, hurt, "there is no choice.

I love you and only you--and have from the moment I saw you. It's not

easy--this. God, Goodwin, I feel like an utter cad," he flashed at me.

"There is no choice, Lakla," he ended, eyes steady upon hers.

The priestess's face grew deadlier still.

"What will you do with me?" she asked.

"Keep you," I said, "as hostage."

O'Keefe was silent; the Golden Girl shook her head.

"Well would I like to," her face grew dreaming; "but the Silent Ones

say--no; they bid me let you go, Yolara--"

"The Silent Ones," the priestess laughed. "You, Lakla! You fear,

perhaps, to let me tarry here too close!"

Storm gathered again in the handmaiden's eyes; she forced it back.

"No," she answered, "the Silent Ones so command--and for their own

purposes. Yet do I think, Yolara, that you will have little time to

feed your wickedness--tell that to Lugur--and to your Shining One!"

she added slowly.

Mockery and disbelief rode high in the priestess's pose. "Am I to

return alone--like this?" she asked.

"Nay, Yolara, nay; you shall be accompanied," said Lakla; "and by

those who will guard--and watch--you well. They are here even now."

The hangings parted, and into the chamber came Olaf and Rador.

The priestess met the fierce hatred and contempt in the eyes of the

Norseman--and for the first time lost her bravado.

"Let not him go with me," she gasped--her eyes searched the floor


"He goes with you," said Lakla, and threw about Yolara a swathing that

covered the exquisite, alluring body. "And you shall pass through the

Portal, not skulk along the path of the worm!"

She bent to Rador, whispered to him; he nodded; she had told him, I

supposed, the secret of its opening.

"Come," he said, and with the ice-eyed giant behind her, Yolara, head

bent, passed out of those hangings through which, but a little before,

unseen, triumph in her grasp, she had slipped.

Then Lakla came to the unhappy O'Keefe, rested her hands on his

shoulders, looked deep into his eyes.

"Did you woo her, even as she said?" she asked.

The Irishman flushed miserably.

"I did not," he said. "I was pleasant to her, of course, because I

thought it would bring me quicker to you, darlin'."

She looked at him doubtfully; then--

"I think you must have been very--pleasant!" was all she said--and

leaning, kissed him forgivingly straight on the lips. An extremely

direct maiden was Lakla, with a truly sovereign contempt for anything

she might consider non-essentials; and at this moment I decided she

was wiser even than I had thought her.

He stumbled, feet vanishing; reached down and picked up something that

in the grasping turned his hand to air.

"One of the invisible cloaks," he said to me. "There must be quite a

lot of them about--I guess Yolara brought her full staff of murderers.

They're a bit shopworn, probably--but we're considerably better off

with 'em in our hands than in hers. And they may come in handy--who


There was a choking rattle at my feet; half the head of a dwarf raised

out of vacancy; beat twice upon the floor in death throes; fell back.

Lakla shivered; gave a command. The frog-men moved about; peering here

and there; lifting unseen folds revealing in stark rigidity torn form

after form of the priestess's men.

Lakla had been right--her Akka were thorough fighters!

She called, and to her came the frog-woman who was her attendant. To

her the handmaiden spoke, pointing to the batrachians who stood, paws

and forearms melted beneath the robes they had gathered. She took them

and passed out--more grotesque than ever, shattering into streaks of

vacancies, reappearing with flickers of shining scale and yellow gems

as the tattered pennants of invisibility fluttered about her.

The frog-men reached down, swung each a dead dwarf in his arms, and

filed, booming triumphantly away.

And then I remembered the cone of the Keth which had slipped from

Yolara's hand; knew it had been that for which her wild eyes searched.

But look as closely as we might, search in every nook and corner as we

did, we could not find it. Had the dying hand of one of her men

clutched it and had it been borne away with them? With the thought

Larry and I raced after the scaled warriors, searched every body they

carried. It was not there. Perhaps the priestess had found it,

retrieved it swiftly without our seeing.

Whatever was true--the cone was gone. And what a weapon that one

little holder of the shaking death would have been for us!