A Voyage to Arcturus HTML version

Chapter 21. Muspel
The fog thickened so that the two suns wholly disappeared, and all grew as black as
night. Nightspore could no longer see his companion. The water lapped gently against the
side of the island raft.
"You say the night is past," said Nightspore. "But the night is still here. Am I dead, or
"You are still in Crystalman's world, but you belong to it no more. We are approaching
Nightspore felt a strong, silent throbbing of the air - a rhythmical pulsation, in four-four
time. "There is the drumming," he exclaimed.
"Do you understand it, or have you forgotten?"
"I half understand it, but I'm all confused."
"It's evident Crystalman has dug his claws into you pretty deeply," said Krag. "The sound
comes from Muspel, but the rhythm is caused by its travelling through Crystalman's
atmosphere. His nature is rhythm as he loves to call it - or dull, deadly repetition, as I
name it."
"I remember," said Nightspore, biting his nails in the dark.
The throbbing became audible; it now sounded like a distant drum. A small patch of
strange light in the far distance, straight ahead of them, began faintly to illuminate the
floating island and the glassy sea around it.
"Do all men escape from that ghastly world, or only I, and a few like me?" asked
"If all escaped, I shouldn't sweat, my friend... There's hard work, and anguish, and the
risk of total death, waiting for us yonder."
Nightspore's heart sank. "Have I not yet finished, then?"
"If you wish it. You have got through. But will you wish it?"
The drumming grew loud and painful. The light resolved itself into a tiny oblong of
mysterious brightness in a huge wall of night. Krag's grim and rocklike features were
"I can't face rebirth," said Nightspore. "The horror of death is nothing to it."