f Ye Land of Mnar
here is in ye land of Mnar a vast still lake that is fed by no stream, and out of which no stream flows. Ten thousand years ago there stood by its shore ye mighty city of Sarnath, but Sarnath stands there no more.
It is told that in ye immemorial years when ye world was young, before ever ye men of Sarnath came to ye land of Mnar, another city stood beside ye lake; ye gray stone city of Ib, which was old as ye lake itself, and peopled with beings not pleasing to behold. Very odd and ugly were these beings, as indeed are most beings of a world yet inchoate and rudely fashioned. It is written on ye brick cylinders of Kadatheron that ye beings of Ib were in hue as green as the lake and ye mists that rise above it; that they had bulging eyes, pouting, flabby lips, and curipus ears, and were without voice. It is also written that they descende one night from ye moon in a mist; they and ye vast still lake and gray stone city of Ib. However this may be, it is certain that they worshipped a sea-green stone idol chiseled in ye likeness of Bokrug, ye great water-lizard; before which they danced horribly when ye moon was gibbous. And it is written in ye papyrus of Ilarnek, that they one day discovered fire, and thereafter kindled flames on many ceremonial occasions. But not much is written of these beings, because they lived in very ancient times, and man is young, and knows little of ye very ancient living things.
After many eons men came to ye land of Mnar, dark shepherd folk with their fleecy flocks, who built Thraa, Ilarnek, and Kadatheron on ye winding river Ai. And certain tribes, more hardy than ye rest, pushed on to ye border of ye lake and built Sarnath at a spot where precious metals were found in ye earth.
Not far from ye gray stone city of Ib did ye wandering tribes lay ye first stones of Sarnath, and at ye beings of Ib they marveled greatly. But with their marveling was mixed hate, for they thought it not meet that beings of such aspect should walk about ye world of men at dusk. Nor did they like ye strange sculptures upon ye gray monoliths of Ib, for those sculptures lingered so late in ye world, even until ye coming men, none can tell; unless it was because ye land of Mnar is very still, and remote from most lands, both of waking and of dream.
As ye men of Sarnath beheld more of ye beings of Ib their hate grew, and it was not less because they found ye beings weak, and soft as jelly to ye touch of stones and arrows. So one day ye young warriors, ye slingers and ye spearmen and ye bowmen, marched against Ib and slew all ye inhabitants thereof, pushing ye queer bodies into ye lake with long spears, because they did not wish to touch them. And because they did not like ye gray sculptured monoliths of Ib they cast these also into ye lake; wondering from ye greatness of ye labor how ever ye stones were brought from afar, as they must have been, since there is naught like them in ye land of Mnar or in ye lands adjacent.
Thus of ye very ancient city of Ib was nothing spared, save ye seagreen idol chiseled in the likeness of Bokrug, ye water-lizard. This ye young warriors took back with them as a symbol of conquest over ye old gods and beings of Ib, and as a sign of leadership in Mnar. But on ye night after it was set up in ye temple, a terrible thing must have happened, for weird lights were seen over ye lake, and in ye morning ye people found ye idol gone and ye high-priest Taran-Ish lying dead, as from some fear unspeakable. But before he had died, Taran-Ish had scrawled upon ye altar of chrysolite with coarse shaky strokes ye sign of DOOM.
Many centuries came and went, wherein Sarnath prospered exceedingly, so that only priests and old women remembered what Taran-Ish had scrawled upon ye altar. As Sarnath waxed mighty and learned and beautiful, it sent forth conquering armies to subdue ye neighboring cities; and in time there sate upon ye throne in Sarnath ye king of all ye land of Mnar and of many lands adjacent.
Lofty and amazing were ye seventeen tower-like temples of Sarnath, fashioned of a bright multi-colored stone not known elsewhere. On ye ground were halls as vast and splendid as those of ye palaces; where gathered throngs in worship of Zo-Kalar and Tamash and Lobon, ye chief gods of Sarnath, whose incense-enveloped shrines were as ye thrones of monarchs. And at the lake, at night, was done ye very secret and ancient rite in detestation of Bokrug, ye water-lizard, and here rested ye altar of chrysolite which bore ye doom-scrawl of Taran-Ish.
Each year was celebrated in Sarnath ye feast of ye destroying of Ib, at which time wine, song, dancing and merriment of every kind abounded. Great honors were then paid to ye shades of those who had annihilated ye odd ancient beings, and ye memory of those beings and of their elder gods, were derided by dancers and lutanists crowned with roses from ye royal gardens. And ye king would look out over ye lake and curse ye bones of ye dead that lay beneath it.
Gorgeous beyond thought was ye feast of ye thousandth year of ye destroying of Ib. For a decade had it been talked of in ye land of Mnar, and as it drew nigh there came to Sarnath on horses and camels and elephants men of Thraa, Ilarnek, and Kadatheron, and all ye cities of Mnar and ye lands beyond. Before ye marble walls on ye appointed night were pitched the pavillions of princes and ye tents of travellers. Within his banquet-hall reclined Nargis-Hei, the king, drunken with ancient wine from ye vaults of conquered Pnoth, and surrounded by feasting nobles and hurrying slaves. Ther were eaten many strange delicacies at that feast; peacocks from ye distant hills of Implan, heels of camels from ye Bnazic desert, nuts and spices from Sydathrian groves, and pearls from wave-washed Mtal dissolved in ye vinegar of Thraa.
Whilst ye king and his nobles feasted within ye palace, priests held revels in ye tower of the great temple. And it was ye high-priest Gnai-Kah who first saw ye shadows that descended from ye gibbous moon into ye lake, and ye damnable green mists that arose from ye lake to meet ye moon and to shroud in a sinister haze ye towers and domes of fated Sarnath. Thereafter those in ye towers, and without ye walls beheld strange lights on ye water, and saw that the gray rock Akurion, which was wont to rear high above it near ye shore, was almost submerged. And fear grew vaguely yet swiftly, so that ye princes of Ilarnek and of far Rokol took down and folded their pavilions and departed, though they scarce knew ye reason for their departing.
Then, close to ye hour of midnight, all ye bronze gates of Sarnath burst open and emptied forth a frenzied throng that blackened ye plain, so that all ye visiting princes and travellers fled away in fright. For on ye faces of this throng was writ a madness born of horror unendurable, and on their tongues were words so terrible that no hearer paused for proof. Men whose eyes were wild with fear shrieked aloud of ye sight within ye king's banquet-hall, where through ye windows were seen no longer ye forms of Nargis-Hei and his nobles and slaves, but a horde of indescibable green voiceless things with bulging eyes, pouting, flabby lips, and curious ears; things which danced horribly, bearing in their paws golden platters set with rubies and diamonds and containing uncouth flames. And by now ye great gray rock Akurion was quite submerged. Through all the land of Mnar and ye land adjacent spread ye tales of those who fled from Sarnath, and caravans sought that accursed city no more. And where once had risen walls of three hundred cubits and towers yet higher, now stretched only ye marshy shore of ye vast still lake itself, and ye gray rock Akurion which rears high above it near ye shore. DOOM had come to Sarnath.
But half buried in ye rushes was spied a curious green idol; an exceedingly ancient idol chiseled in ye likeness of Bokrug, ye great Water-Lizard God. That idol, enshrined in ye high temple at Ilarnek, was susequently worshipped beneath ye gibbous moon throughout ye land of Mnar. And also, when ye tide is low, can be seen an inscription on ye gray rock Akurion which reads, in letters ancient, "Ib is gone but ye Gods live on. Across ye world is ye Sister City, Lh-yib, hidden in ye earth, in ye barbarous lands of Zimmeria. There Ye People, Ye Deep Ones, flourish yet and there will Ye Gods ever be worshipped; even unto ye coming of Cthulhu."
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