Selestor's Men of Atlantis, by Clara Iza von Ravn, , at sacred-texts.com
The great sea-fight of Atlantis. Setting out of the Northmen for plunder.
Thy mood is ill, my scribe, for learning all of that great sea fight of the centuries gone—a thousand years before Atlantis sank.
Yea, thus I swear who read the time by Stars and Moon in transit. Mars in mood of harm and Mercury fiercer yet with venom plied. Great nations then as now did sprinkle Earth with tribes of warriors born with love of spoil.
A thousand years before Atlantis sank there rose a cry from Northern borders peopled with the "Slav"—the Norsemen of a line that later cast their lot in lower country, driven from their homes by one oppressor—later king of North.
In early life a henchman, later king. His blood the blood of peasant mingled strong with some bold, roving warriors from the South who ventured far into that frozen clime.
This king was Olaf. Aye, dim history speaks that selfsame name so "common" to thine ear. A clod sometimes, sometimes a keener soul doth answer to that name, but in that day when "Olaf-of-the-bear’s-claw-set-on-helm" did strike a blow, his name took on the meaning of a single star, there was none other.
The meaning? I know not. But a sound, perchance, from childish lips took to it other sound and made the name.
King Olaf called his warriors—fur-clad men whose flaxen locks hung low, encrowned with cap of
fur and steel combined, a cunning builded structure meant for war.
“Ho! to the southward! Black-eyed maids are there, with lips that madden mood, and laughing glance and arms soft twining. Aye, for I have seen in train of captives many such and I will bring anon such in my train.
“The southland holds much treasure. Gold in grains so large they are but painted pebbles, one might think; such precious stuff hath seldom lay within man's sight as we shall garner in that distant land. The mighty Lars, 'the-Eagle-of-the-Crags,' hath sailed him thither in his early youth and tells the tale. He speaks of island set in laughing sea where 'palms' wave.
“Know ye what that name may mean? A tree with plumes and fruitage sweet to lips and gladdening to eye, when day by day the barque has glided swift and brought the word of land to them who wait all eager at the prow. Aye, 'palms' they speak, and roses dot the sod so green it seems but one vast emerald set upon the sapphire sea.
“Great temples, too, have they and palaces and wondrous pictures, true to beauteous life and state, and music met the ear, as in the dark he stole up softly; muffled oars dipped slow and slaves mouth-bound so that no cry escaped.
“I know not all the wonders there may be upon that island. Ye shall see and name in our own tongue, for by our gods I swear that ere the snow falls on Britanji's spur we start us southward; winter is there Spring, and Spring a joyous time of warmth and gayest life in nature. Southward, Ho! we journey, set for war.”
The planets breed dissension. War and strife float on the winds. The sun strikes sheen on spears
in many lands at seasons, for it throws dissension in its beams which smite all shores.
Thus Asia—land of yellow peopling forms—had turned her mood unto that island fair, the home of her ancestry. Land where first her ruler dwelt in youth and manhood, fraught with greed of power which wrecked full many a home, and tore the child from parent arms and made his name a by-word—word for theft of trusted grains and theft of talents great bestowed not on the land to which he owed his fealty—Kling.
To southward set the sons of Asia, over barren sands, through tempests, crossing sea upon the borders of that land where the Zambesi ran. Upon its banks were cities grand with fairest temples set. Revolt was rampant. Slaves were worn with toil and spoil spake big to them, and hate and wrong called out in tongue of flame: "Revenge!"
Thus their ears were open to the wiles of those bold men of Asia, strong in mind and subtle as the serpent; brains were theirs condemned to carry guile, to plot, to hold in keen abhorrence any state of mind that dealt with pity where an enemy was held in bonds.
There, within the shade of templed marts they dwelt apace—those men of Asia. Spake softly they, the leaders: "Well we know thy state, the state of slave bereft of all that makes life joyous. Master wills hold closely every impulse; souls are warped to suit the mood of them whom Nature made of lesser worth invested though more favored state.
"We go to wrest from tyrants gold and gems and fairest women. Wizards on that isle who do create most beauteous things, and wealth so lavish that it piles the sands with gold. Come ye, too, with us. The fleet ye watch lies far out to sea. Unto her captains, brave, take ye this store, this parchment,
too, which tells of all our needs—our brother love." Then bolder:
“What matter if the city loses fleet? It holds great power still and gems, and lofty piles, in which your children groan in bonds of toil! Be free, O men of Africa; To the sea! Thy galleys loose; they lie at anchor guarded but by thee, their captains willing to my service turn.
“Let loose the galleys manned by thee and thine, and these, my trusted warriors fill the bulk of ships which hold so proudly many hundred souls, aye, thousands! and my warriors, like the sands of desert, droop where deep in forest paths draw to the hills.
“Awake! cast off the bonds of slavery and come, O men of Africa's city great! Set thou to sea! I hold thee worthy of this prompting. Thou shalt know the joy of spoil! the bliss of power thou shalt know. Come, sail to sea!”
And thus from day to day the wily strangers plied with words, and wine, the officers of duty to the fleet that stretched out proudly-whitened wood and bark, great iron bands that made the cypress firm; and floating banners, dangling in the breeze, were later wafted broadly as they set them forth at midnight when the plot had worked its potency.
And he—the crafty leader of the Asiaites, hied him forth to whisper to the leaders of the bands that lurked amidst the forest leaves and trunks like domes and pillars of some mighty hall whose setting was the stars which peeped from folds of purple curtains.
Heavy scent of bloom checked breath and made the night a dangerous time, and beasts prowled hungrily and sniffed the scent of human bodies, filled with rushing blood that tasted in their senses warm and sweet.
"Come forth," the leaders whispered. "Dawn
shall come and find but leafy isles where now ye lie in wait. Let beasts prowl growling for your absence; spears are needed for another duty. Come! The galleys lie at anchor down the stream and ye have but to step upon their decks and waft away to pleasure on the sea.
"No man hath wings, and these alone can bear the king and his retainers in pursuit. So, free are we to sail at leisure, swiftly, to the island fair where that awaits which makes the eye to leap, and cause to sigh in lover's deep delight the tender-hearted youth.
"The bravest first shall land to gather spoil. Haste ye! The night falls swiftly, dawn shall break if swift ye come not. To the galleys, men!"
The city, wrapped in slumber, heard no sound. No light shone forth to show the hurrying forms of slaves. No voice harsh rose to beckon thought to plunderer's crime. The city slept since revel worn, and stilled in slumber king and noble lay; and thus the foreign army sailed that night with scores of sailors at the helm or plying oars of galleys.
Even the kings begirt with golden staves, and sculptured plumes, and garlands swung on prow, went down the "river" never to return. So went Zambesi's fleet to war, with alien hordes to man, and win them glory or yet feel the shame of swift defeat.
The sun danced on the dimpling sea. A cool breeze rocked the galleys. Stern and grim rode Asia's chief at head—the Mongol lord so subtle and so brave. The Northmen rode with cries of joy to feel the soft breeze on their cheeks that, bitten sore by frost, had grown as toughened as the reed which waves o’er pool.
"I see a speck of life upon yon height of water," Olaf spake to one who stood beside, and in his hand
he held an instrument, then rare, made from a lens of glass and horn of ibis, instrument to throw such action on the eye as might impress the mind.
"A moving speck? It is some bird that wings across the water," spake another knight who doubted always what his brother spake.
"It is a fleet of fishers. We shall take their spoil!" a general named for vulture piped, as near and nearer drew the mass outlined against the sky. But no! the vision burst upon them swift and true at last—a line of galleys numbering as their own three hundred, aye and more.
The sun shone on the galley's spears. A light that seemed from sea flashed on the staves each common held in hand and made the line of boats a line of fire seem.
"Our gods are false!" cried Olaf. "We are made the sport of tyranny, of rank deceit! Atlantis sailed northward and we meet her fair in battle! No surprise we give, no spoil held easily; but spear to spear and stave to stave and galley locked with barque, manned by as many and as brave as we, perchance; we may not gain the day!"
One versed in war—one from the southern isles—cried loudly: "Not Atlantis’ fleet, for fleet hath she, but this is from the forests. I have seen such standards. Where the water laps the banks with marble set, such galleys lie.
"The standard of the leader bear you well in eye. It is the king of forests, inlet broad. Zambesi hath the serpent, eye of fire—the palms at prow. Behold the blood-red garments of the captains of her barques. Zambesi sets to war as we. A rival!
"Yea, but waste we not our spears nor war on such foe as she. We will combine our forces; the victory won—that makes the island ours—we battle
with our allies, spoil their fleet thus double booty, double glory, waits."
And thus a truce was made. Full willingly did Asia's leader hold the offer good, and side by side they sailed—the crimson kite and polar bear, each holding in his heart the selfsame thought of brotherhood in strife against Atlantis; later, war on each and spoil fierce wrested from a rival's hand.
The men of Asia planned attack, as did the Northmen, on the northern coast where trees set closely hid the inlets deep and no great quays with ships to guard were there. For trusted they—Atlantians—to the rocky heights that girt the northern coast that few, thought they, might scale.
Yet strategy was Asia's strongest mood, and Northmen laughed at heights they could not scale, and rock-hedged inlets seemed but pleasant brooks, so sought they that stern shore.
Aye, from the south Zambesi's sons did sail to reach the northern point. Atlantis held a menace at her Southern ports—a menace to marauders all well knew.