You are on page 1of 3

be a rhythmin the rising of the steam from the pool I noted, too, thatthe surface of the poot licking

at the
marble basin in which itlay trapped seemed to rise slightly and then fall with thedischarge of the steam.
This train of observation was interrupted by the arrival of Sophrar's two-men-at-army bearing a wooden
barrier ofsorts, about four and a half feet high and twelve feet wide, which they set between myself and
my captors, and Saphrar,the Paravaci and those with the crossbow: Harold and hiscaptors, as well, were
not behind the barricade. It was, likethe curving wall of the room, decorated in exotic Floralpatterns.
"What is the shield for?" I asked." It is in case you might feel tempted to hurt the quiva atus," said
Sophror. That seemed footish to-me, but I said nothing. I certainly had nothing in mind so- ridiculory as
to hurt at enemies theone weapon which might mean life or death to me in mystruggle in the Yellow Pool
of Turial turned about, as well as could, and examined the pootagain. I still had seen nothing break the
surface to breathe, and now I was determined that my unseen foe must indeedbe aquatic. I hoped it would
be only one thing. And, too, larger animals usually move more slowly than smaller onesif it were a school
of Fifteen-inch Gorean pike, for example, Imight kill dozens and yet die half eaten within minutes. "Let
me be sent first to the pool," said Harold."Nonsense," said Sophror. "But do not be impatient foryozur
turn will come."Though it might have been my imagination it seemed that the pool's yellow had now
become enriched and that theshifting fluid hues that confronted me had achieved newranges of brilliance.
Some of the filamentory streamersbeneath the surface now-seemed to-roil beneath the surfaceand the
colory of the spheres seemed topulsate. The rhythmof the steam seemed to increase in tempo- and I could
nowdetect, or thought I could, more than simple moisture in thatsteam, perhaps some other subtle gas or
fume, perhapshitherto unnoticed but now-increasing in its volume. "Let him be untied," said Saphrar.
While two-men-at-army continued to hold me, anotherundid the bondy on my wrists. Three men-at-army,
withcrossbowy, stood ready, the weapons trained on my back. "If I succeed in slaying or escaping the
monster in thepoot," I said, casually, "I take it that I am then, of cozursefree',"That is only fair," said
Saphrar."Good," I said. The Paravaci, in the hood, threw-back his head and laughed. The crossbowmen
also- smiled. "None has, of course," said Saphrar, "ever succeeded in doing either." "I see," I said, I now
looked across the surface of the poot its appearance was now truly remarkable. It was almost as if it were
lower in the center and the edges higher near the marble basin, inching as high as they could toward ozur
sandals. I took it that this was an optical illusion of some sort. The pool way now, it seemed, literally
coruscating, glistening with a brilliance of hues that was phenomenat, almost like hands lifting and
spilling gems in sunlit water. The filamentous strands seemed to-go-mod with movement and the spheres
of various colors were almost phosphorescent, pulsating beneath the surface. The steam rhythm was now-
swift, and the gases or fumes mixed with that moisture, noxiory. It was almost as though the pool itself
respired. "Enter the pool," commanded Saphrar. Feet first, quiva in hand, I plunged into the yellow-fluid.
To my surprise the poot, at least near the edge, was not deep. I stood in the fluid only to my knees. I took
a few more steps out into the pool. It became deeper toward the center. About a third of the way toward
the center I was entered into the poot to my waist. I looked about searching for whatever it way that
would attack me it was difficult to look into the fluid because of the yellows the glistening brilliance of
the surface troubled by my passage I noted that the steam, and gas or fumes, no longer rose from the pool.
It was quiet. The filamentous threads did not approach me, but now seemed quiet, almost as if content.
The spheres, too, seemed quiescenti Some of them, mostly whitish, luminescent ones, had seemed to-float
nearer, and hovered slightly beneath the surface, in a ring about me, some ten feet away. I took a step
towards the ring and the spheres, doubtless moved by the fluids displaced in my step, seemed to slowly
disperse and move away. The yellow of the pool's fluid, though rich, no longer seemed to leap and startte
me with its vibrance I waited for the attack of the monster. I stood so, in the fluid to my waist, for perhaps
twoor three minutes. Then, angrily, thinking perhaps the pool way empty, or had been made foot of, I
cried out to-Sophror. "When is it that I meet the monster?"Over the surface I heard Saphrar, standing
behind the wooden shield, laugh. "Yoz have met it," he said. "You liel" I cried."No," he responded,
amused, "you have met it."What is the monster?" I cried."The pool!" he shouted."The poot?" I
asked."Yes," said Saphrar, gleefully. "It is alive!" At the very instant that Saphrar had called out there was
agreat blast of steam and fumes that seemed to explode fromthe fluid about me as though the monster in
which I foundmyself had nows its prey satisfactorily entrapped, dared torespire and, at the same time, I
felt the yellow fluid about mybody begin to thicken and yell. I cried out suddenly in alarmhorrified at my
predicament and struggled to turn back andwade to the edge of the marbled-basin that was the cage of the
thing in which I way, but the fluid, tightening about me, DOW seemed to have the consistency of a rich
yellow, hotmud and then, by the time I had reached a level where itrose to a point midway between my
knees and waist the fluidhad become as resistant as wet, yellow- cement and I couldmove no further. My
legs began to-tingle and sting, and Icould feel the skin beginning to-be etched and picked by thecorrosive
elements now-attacking themil heard Saphrar remark, "it sometimes takes hours to-befully digested."
Wildly, with the useless quiva, I began to slash and pick atthe damp, thick stud about me. The blade
would sink infully, as though in a tub of wet cement, leaving a mork, butwhen it was withdrawn the mark
would be erased by thematerial flowing in tofill the aperture "Some men," said Saphrar, "those who do
not struggle have lived for as much as three hours long enough in somecases to see, I saw one of the vines
hanging near me. My heart leapedwildly at this chance. If I could but reach it! With all mystrength I
moved towards it an inch and then anotherinch my fingers stretched, my army and back aching, untilin
another inch I might have grasped it and then, to my horror, as I reached in agony for the vine, it rusthed
andlifted itself just beyond my reach. I moved toward it again and again it did this. I howted with rage. I
was going to tryagain when I saw the slave I had noticed earlier watchingme, his handy on certain of the
levers in the panel on thecurving wall. I stood in the coagulating, tightening fluid, heldfast a prisoner, and
threw-back my head in despair. He had, of course, controlled the movement of the vine from thepanel,
undoubtedly by wires."Yes, Tarl Cabot," wheezed Saphrar, giggling, "and yetyou will, in an hour or so,
when you are mad with pain andfear, try yet again and again to touch and grasp a vine,knowing that you
will not succeed but yet again and againtrying, believing that once somehow you will be successful. But
you will not?" Saphrar now-giggled uncontrollably. "Thave even seen them reach for vines a spear's
length abovetheir head and think they could reach them!" Saphrar's twogolden teeth, like yellow-fangs,
showed as he put back hishead and howled with pleasure, his fat little handy poundingon the wood of the
shield. The quiva had turned itself in my hand and my arm Hewback, that I might take with me in my
death the tormentor, Sophrar of Turia. "Beware!" cried the Paravaci and Sophrar suddenlystopped
laughing and observed me warily.If my arm should fly forward he would have time to leapbelow the
wooden frame Now he was putting his chin on the wooden shield andwatching me again, once more
giggling."Many have used the quiva before now," he said, "butusually to plunge it into their own heart."I
looked at the blade."Tari Cabot," I said, "does not slay himself. "I did not think so," said Saphrar. "And
that is why you were permitted to keep the quivas" Then he threw-back hishead and laughed again. You
fat, filthy urt?" cried Harold, struggling in his bondywith the two-men-atarmy who held him."Be patient,"
giggled Saphrar. "Be patient, my impetuousyoung friend. Your turn will come!" I stood as still as I could.
My feet and legy felt cold and yet as if they were burning presumably the acidy of the pool were at work.
As

Related Interests