Friday, April 15, 2016

Part of a story I'm working on...


In the head of the great statue of Mu-ra-oir in the jungle plateau, beyond the hills are set twelve great yellow diamonds, each the size of a sphere that would fit precisely in the circle made by the index finger and thumb of a large man’s hand.

Any single diamond would ransom a European princess from a space-pirate, or buy a small island in the American archipelago where a man might rest under the waving palms: all twelve would fund an empire, or fund the toppling of one.

But they will never be stolen, for the jungle guards them, and worse. According to my noble guide, a fanatic sect makes the great pilgrimage of Mu-ra-oir, to bow at the shrouded feet (which it is death to see) of the statue, twice every Venusian year. If they were to discover the diamonds were missing (and they would, for the beautiful face of Mu-ra-oir is a blessing as great, as his awful feet are a curse, and thus the sinecure of all their eyes, as Mrs. Malaprop would have had it) they would – after blindfolding themselves - remove the shrouds from the feet of the statue, and the god Mu-ra-oir would stride forth to recover his eyes.

Striding forth, legend recounts, the statue would change and shrink, and take on the form of a Venusian, of prime years, filled with an evil wisdom and an awful science, dedicated to the recovery of the eyes, sworn to bring vengeance to the thieves and to all who had laid hands upon the gems, and to their families to the seventh generation.

This at least is the belief of the tall plateau tribes of Venus, and if the sophisticates of the lower towns, and the sub-swamps scoff at their high-dwelling kin’s creeds, still Venusians whisper in awe of the time-lost destruction of the ancient dynasty of Hulc, whose founder queen M’mab wore for a time the fifth eye of Mu-ra-oir in her crown.

Out of the jungle, and down from the hills came the avenger called Valdavor Va, whose feet were never seen naked (being covered in the skins of serpents killed in the jungle), and the prehistoric dynasty was laid waste to the seventh generation before the evil hand of Valdavor Va was lifted from the lands of Hulc.

Thus say the Venusians, and it would be – I verily believe – better for an earthman to cut off his own hands, than to touch the gems (if they exist), for any Venusian would happily conspire to his death thereafter, lest the evil genius Valdavor Va (who is the dreadful, vengeful emanation of Mu-ra-oir) should come forth again.

In so doing it is not that the average Venusian is bloodthirsty – no more so than an earthly bandito, or politician at any rate - nor that they themselves believe a gem, in itself, whether stolen or not, is a thing that outweighs the life of a person, but they believe that until such a thief is slain : Mu-ra-oir will not sit in his seat in the temple of pilgrimage, and that his feet are abroad in the land, and this is intolerable to them, for if the feet be abroad albeit covered, they may be seen if Valdavor Va so wills it, and any who see the feet of Mu-ra-oir (even shrunk into the pedal extremities of Valdavor Va) will become mindless and dreadful creatures, and a curse will fall upon the lands of Venus. Further unless he sits in his seat in the temple of pilgrimage, Mu-ra-oir cannot bring the soft rains, and all the Venusians of the high lands believe still, that if the soft rains do not come, Venus will wither and die and become a world of boiling heat and stifling air, and a lit jewel of the solar system will flicker and die.

                     Charles Dickens’ Pictures from Venus (1846)

No comments: