OF THE THING THAT IS NEITHER GOD NOR BEAST
(Part of The Gods of Pegāna by Lord Dunsany)
Seeing that wisdom is not in cities nor happiness in wisdom, and because Yadin the prophet was doomed by the gods ere he was born to go in search of wisdom, he followed the caravans to Bodraháhn. There in the evening, where the camels rest, when the wind of the day ebbs out into the desert sighing amid the palms its last farewells and leaving the caravans still, he sent his prayer with the wind to drift into the desert calling to Hoodrazai.
And down the wind his prayer went calling: "Why do the gods endure, and play their game with men? Why doth not Skarl forsake his drumming, and MĀNA cease to rest?" and the echo of seven deserts answered: "Who knows? Who knows?"
But out in the waste, beyond the seven deserts where Rānorāda looms enormous in the dusk, at evening his prayer was heard; and from the rim of the waste whither had gone his prayer, came three flamingoes flying, and their voices said: "Going South, Going South" at every stroke of their wings.
But as they passed by the prophet they seemed so cool and free and the desert so blinding and hot that he stretched up his arms towards them. Then it seemed happy to fly and pleasant to follow behind great white wings, and he was with the three flamingoes up in the cool above the desert, and their voices cried before him: "Going South, Going South," and the desert below him mumbled: "Who knows? Who knows?"
Sometimes the earth stretched up towards them with peaks of mountains, sometimes it fell away in steep ravines, blue rivers sang to them as they passed above them, or very faintly came the song of breezes in lone orchards, and far away the sea sang mighty dirges of old forsaken isles. But it seemed that in all the world there was nothing only to be going South.
It seemed that somewhere the South was calling to her own, and that they were going South.
But when the prophet saw that they had passed above the edge of Earth, and that far away to the North of them lay the Moon, he perceived that he was following no mortal birds but some strange messengers of Hoodrazai whose nest had lain in one of Pegāna's vales below the mountains whereon sit the gods.
Still they went South, passing by all the Worlds and leaving them to the North, till only Araxes, Zadres, and Hyráglion lay still to the South of them, where great Ingazi seemed only a point of light, and Yo and Mindo could be seen no more.
Still they went South till they passed below the South and came to the Rim of the Worlds.
There there is neither South nor East nor West, but only North and Beyond; there is only North of it where lie the Worlds, and Beyond it where lies the Silence, and the Rim is a mass of rocks that were never used by the gods when They made the Worlds, and on it sat Trogool. Trogool is the Thing that is neither god nor beast, who neither howls nor breathes, only IT turns over the leaves of a great book, black and white, black and white for ever until THE END.
And all that is to be is written in the book is also all that was.
When IT turneth a black page it is night, and when
IT turneth a white page it is day.
Because it is written that there are godsthere are the gods.
Also there is writing about thee and me until the page where our names no more are written.
Then as the prophet watched IT, Trogool turned a pagea black one, and night was over, and day shone on the Worlds.
Trogool is the Thing that men in many countries have called by many names, IT is the Thing that sits behind the gods, whose book is the Scheme of Things.
But when Yadin saw that old remembered days were hidden away with the part that IT had turned, and knew that upon one whose name is writ no more the last page had turned for ever a thousand pages back. Then did he utter his prayer in the face of Trogool who only turns the pages and never answers prayer. He prayed in the face of Trogool: "Only turn back thy pages to the name of one which is writ no more, and far away upon a place named Earth shall rise the prayers of a little people that acclaim the name of Trogool, for there is indeed far off a place called Earth where men shall pray to Trogool."
Then spake Trogool who turns the pages and never answers prayer, and his voice was like the murmurs of the waste at night when echoes have been lost: "Though the whirlwind of the South should tug with his claws at a page that hath been turned yet shall he not be able to ever turn it back."
Then because of words in the book that said that it should be so, Yadin found himself lying in the desert where one gave him water, and afterwards carried him on a camel into Bodraháhn.
There some said that he had but dreamed when thirst seized him while he wandered among the rocks in the desert. But certain aged men of Bodraháhn say that indeed there sitteth somewhere a Thing that is called Trogool, that is neither god nor beast, that turneth the leaves of a book, black and white, black and white, until he come to the words: MAI DOON IZAHN, which means The End For Ever, and book and gods and worlds shall be no more.
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