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Selestor's Men of Atlantis, by Clara Iza von Ravn, [1937], at

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An Atlantian tradition.

The fight on Mars? An old Atlantian tale, learned from one who read the planets with a lens of lightest glass made double, treble, full one hundred thick by process learned in that great age, but never more employed because, alas! the method sunk, with him who learned when water wall engulfed.

One read, and, reading told so plain the tale to eager sage beside him, that the mood of all upon the island then was turned unto the story.

Story long forgot by men of earth, and we, who dwell where ether makes a plane of light, remember us that in our youth the tale was told by some old knight, or nurse, with bated breath and whispered accent. Secrecy was pledged lest angry gods cast foul disease upon the eye that pictured—lips which told.

One morn the master mind of him who dwelt in tower made high with marble columns formed for strength, and steps wound cunningly among the carven leaves and blossoms rivaling the snow on mountain spur of North, heard with the inner sense the note preluding conflict. Heard with the inner sense, which in that age was factor brought to bear on all the speech of Earth, and taught by science.

Long ago the tone was needed not by certain learned men, and in Atlantis dwelt the art perfected. In this day the men on mountain spur afar, ye view with scorn, hold simple speech in manner of the Atlantian sage—through current of the mind.

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The brain casts out an ether potent, all unseen yet swift and subtle as the lightning's stroke to them who understand; a potency of mind which dormant hath become in all mankind save favored few who, guided by the mind, seek not the outward mark to glean, but cultivate the inner force of man.

I spake, he heard with inner sense the note preluding conflict. Calm he spake to his attendant: "Swing in line the glass which stands beside the trident. Make it clear by passing silken substance o’er the face and wheel it to my couch.

"Throw wide the casement that my eyes may drink the sparkle on the sea—the forest top that comes unto my casement. Thus my mind grows calm and clear and I may mark events, so that no dream I name the wondrous sights that I shall hand adown the line of sons who follow after."

Light-footed slaves brought scented bath, and laved he well his body—body of a prince whose father sat upon the throne in that Atlantian isle.

He broke no meat, but drank he long and deep a draught of milk of goat mixed strong with spice which nourished mind and body; then cast his length upon a carven seat, with silken screen, beside the casement. Far below the sea danced in the light of sun just rising. Far below the gardens, rose-besprinkled, lay; the breath of million blossoms rose to meet his sense of ecstasy and calm commingled.

He drank the note of warbling buhl that called unto its mate, or osprey's shriek and thrush's note low-hidden in the rose's nest of bloom. Afar were ships of fishers toiling in from work of early morn, and galleys gay with colors wove in silk and fiber of the shrub * which stronger holds.

The people at their prayers looked like the flies

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which dart from bird or beak of hungry asp; and soldiers in the lines upon the quays were but as moving dolls—aye, so were they, the puppets of a king who ruled through judgment of the priests; for in that age of priest's supremacy fell this tale.

Aye, long before the sea-fight of the northmen bold or Asia's subtle souls, Zambesi—tool of these, and old Atlantians guarding well their homes. Nay, after years so long—the sea fight—that I do not count, yet speak, mayhap, the tale I tell fell many thousand years before Atlantis sank.

"Wheel to my side the instrument," spake he to his attendant sage, far younger. The man who learned to read each thought made no reply, but wheeled well in line with stars, to eye unaided all invisible, the trumpet-shapen instrument, whose base was metal of that ruddy hue  and gold en-beaten in one gleaming mass, with stones that studded here and there the base.

Great dull, white pebbles to the eye of ignorance, but holding meaning to the man so learned, that everything had tongue and speech and mind.

Great pebbles hurled from planets down to Earth in storm-time of that age. The time of mud from those volcanoes which now lie to sight as spurs of green, so steep and smoothe to eye they seem a fairy garden shaped as cone with carpet made from finest mosses spun. Great cones of beauty yet they worked much harm at seasons.

Slowly bent the sage his eye to instrument and long he gazed. The moon he sullen saw, worn hollow here, at variance there with all the laws of symmetry. The lesser stars, mere floating balls of air, yet shot with rocks from higher zones. At last his

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eyes grew bright with leaping light, as Mars—the great sky war-god swung on high.

"Behold great Mars!" he cried aloud with joy. “I ne’er before have seen his fields of green, for higher hath he floated than mine eyes could reach with all the cunning of this instrument, made from a method learned at the cost of years of life—of study. Instrument supreme!

“But in this day, oh joy! he swingeth nigh in transit lower down by reason of the laxity of ether. The gods be praised! This moment cometh each one thousand years! and I, the blessed, have lived to see this day which none shall see again till I forgot shall be! And yet the knowledge and the history gained shall live long after I have passed from earth.

“Behold!“ he cried, all sudden to attending sage, “The Mars men gather for a battle! Ah! magnificent the armor for each leader. Scales of metal earth-eye hath not seen but later shall invest. The scales of copper part, yet part of silver-smoothed the mottled surface by the smith who welds with beaten stroke, nor forges; metal scales made slow by patient toil, they seem; Ah, I shall learn the method.

“Behold the tridents, fiery balls are shot from such as those. I see the fine-wrought spring (by inner sense) the spring which leaps to throw its missile to the foe. The spears, three-pointed, savage instruments—that tear so well the breast. A javelin at the belt made of the woven links and discs and wire of copper hardened.

“Mars men, too, carry spikes of wood like steel; behold the polished point dipped in the blood of adversary—poisoned! doth the inner sense contend, and thus is life all quickly ended. And now behold the shield each bears! a shield en-shaped like leaf of grape; shields made of light yet toughened stuff

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[paragraph continues] —of hide, so toughened by a liquid bath (tradition hath), that even steel can scarcely penetrate.

“About their limbs are tangled cords of silk, each cunningly concealing fiery veins, I wist, encased in metal which to pierce means death when foemen clutch, but well the body bath of wearer doth protect so as a ray of noon-day sun it feels, nor harms.

“Their mode of warfare I as yet see not. Ah! I behold great ships sail outward—upward; one alone doth man each boat, and he unarmed save for his deadly dress which burneth foe, but leaveth him unscathed, for outward point the various tubes and lines concealing deadly methods. Around his body warm, bathed in fumes of smoke from some rare shrub which does protect from death, is wound a silken substance soaked in strong solution of a nitrate which protects, the sages wise have told.

“The ships sail outward from the land and bear a keen-eyed messenger to spy on foe. The foe? I see them not. O men of Mars, whence comes thy foe?—Hark! In their hands they bear them trumpets long, such as our sages spake, their eyes beheld on Mars.

“I hear their music. Nay, alas! I hear it not. Too great the distance for my strained ears to catch, yet I can see the gleam of light on burnished metal; see the fingers lithe press cunning keys—toy gently with the stops and pull from pierced sides the chain which carries note to other portion of the trumpet long—as long as man with outstretched arms could span.

“The color of their garments? Sanguine hue, a redder than the light which sun casts ere it sinks behind the hills of Ocean. Men of Mars, ye learn the meaning well of hues the gods make in the worlds to gladden orbs of men and make the heart to leap, the blood run quicker yet, and pulse beat fast which once felt sluggish thrill.

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“White tufts of silk upon each helm are set. Such helms! of scales the fish might deftly grow, embroidered with each name all set in gems of azure, yellow, too, I see the noble captains of the host affect—the color of the shifting light on corn, the yellow symbol, too, of holiness—the flower's heart—the center of an orb—the pigment pure that mellows flesh in tint.

“Embroidered robes I see not as our day has fashioned, but behold the carven lilies as have we. The golden lotus—white, too, they employ.”


125:* Cotton.

126:† Copper.

Next: Chapter XVIII. Battle on Mars as described by the watching sage. The army of shadows