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

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Death of the king of Atlantis on the day of the great sea-fight.

Thou asketh of the fate of him, the king who reigned when the great nations met in war upon the day that followed fête?

Aye, thus I speak as through thy hand I mark events to make the world of knowledge learn that I am man, though yet unseen by thee or others’ eyes—am called but "Selestor."

False the name, and history writes in tomes my name once known to nations; yet I hold it well to guard the secret—secret of a line which, sunk in deep oblivion all that bore the emblem of a state but mocked today.

The death of him who reigned when Northmen bold did seek to barter strength for beauty's prize, for gems, the isle itself, exchange perchance for northern border cold and grey, the haunt of bear and snarling wolf, and frost, black, deadly to the tender Southern ones. Such was our theme.

He whom Atlantis called her king was wise, not wily, and excess he did abhor; and yet that day his galleys sailed to war he drank him deep of "liquor," as ye speak in modern times.

An alcoholic liquor made from wheat and juice of palm. A mixture fiery and reserved for revelers; but the king befitting thought the draught in time of stress, so drank he long and deep.

His brain grew dizzy nor sight nor sound he knew, and falling prone, ere slaves could spring to save, the kingly brow smote marble and his senses

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fled and yet he lingered. Slaves stood near to spring at leeches' bidding for the quickening draught or cooling mixture, for the bowl of gold that caught the flow from pierced arm.

And yet no sense returned till evening. No glance of recognition met the gaze of her, his queen, nor of them—the buds of kingly tree to bloom when he had passed, the daughters fair, and son, the prince—the king!

And as he lingered came an ancient one unto his door—door bereft of hanging, that the wind of eve might freshly blow across the clammy brow, perchance bring healing in its salted breath all scented with the kisses of the rose, the lily white which marked the king's domain, the jasmine growing where the palm tree's shade cast cooling shadows.

All was peace and calm, save in the hearts of subjects, torn that day with various woes—the youth of nation on the sea to war—the king in stupor—waiting they.

Crept an ancient one into the hall where on the ivory couch the king lay prone.

Spake she, unchecked, for grief had so sore beset the leech that vaunted skill fulfilled no purpose.

Statesmen stood dumb, the queen had fled and by the hand led children weeping sore—the offspring of a line of kings for generations, but their hearts, as tender as the slaves bore sorrow ill.

With lips that set all firmly, brow that frowned, spake she, the ancient: "King, but not a god, ye now are called! and going take not state nor thing of earth, not life nor love nor gold to mark thee aught save but a wandering soul!

"And yet, mayhap, the state which Earth doth keep the gods permit in realms more fair than

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thine, which yet is fairer than this earth holds other-where."

“Why speakest thou? Begone! hushed the voice of one big with authority. And slaves were bidden take the intruder from the palace.

“But the ancient rose to height unthought of: “Touch me not! He dieth! He—the son who drew his life from this shrunk form! This do I swear who face the stroke of Ses and shall I, whose moments thus are numbered, dare speak me false?

“Ah, nay! His sire a king, but I, whose glorious crown of womanhood was beauty and my curse, bore him who lieth on the ivory couch!

“The rightful heir, ye men of earth may speak, died at his birth; yet ye knew naught of this, so well my secret kept the favored slaves.

“He liveth yet again on ether planes—my son! Not her’s—the hated rival's—the queen ye knew who early passed. My son! The pomp and state, with knowledge, too, were mine as thine and in them gloated I. No less a king because, forsooth, the maid they chose for him—thy sire—was not thy dam.

“I was and am no slave. A 'trader' was my sire. One of that land ye speak of as a cloud, or mist, so far away it seems to you who journey not. And scorn ye, too, its people who, born to war, in time of stress take to them deadly moods and harbor hate, and so demand what thou dost deem a sin—the eye for eye and tooth for tooth—adown their line for centuries.

“He dieth!

“As the sun sinks!

“Low lies he!

“My son!

“The well beloved!

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“The son of him beloved in my youth and loving me till beauty fled. Farewell!”

Her chant was finished, sank she on the threshold. Passed her soul.

The secret, kept so well by them who, awe-struck heard, no seeming break in line occurred; and thus the prince born of the sinning line reigned long reigned well.

The sun had set ere called the gods the soul of him, the king, to realms of peace.

And double sorrow had the people all, and double mourning, for them, the battle slain, and for their reigning king. A monarch wise in much that wisdom gives to thought—a purpose for the betterment of people subject unto him. And kindly spake the nation as one voice:

"The son, now king, perchance will strive to reign with just humility, yet fail to reach the standard of his sire."

And thus it fell.

All day, I spake, the king did linger, but at eve the mists of deep oblivion left the sunken eye, and reaching out his arms as though to clasp he cried:

“’Tis won! I see them meet the foe!

“Tonight Earth's sun doth set for me indeed, but subjects spring around me on the ether planes where soul doth trend.

“My subjects sent in haste through stress of battle, yet I seek not alone the planes, but with fitting band, a king and subjects!”

Thus he spake and died.

The third in line was he. His sires brave and wise. His son no traitor to ancestral grasp of power.

Next: Chapter XXIII. The destruction of Atlantis. Activities of the inhabitants on the morning the island sank into the ocean