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Donald Tyson


lhazred Author of the Necronomicon

Llewellyn Publications Woodbury, Minnesota

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Alhazred © 2006 by Donald Tyson. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever, including Internet usage, without written permission from Llewellyn Publications except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. FIRST EDITION First Printing, 2006 Cover design by Kevin R. Brown Edited by Tom Bilstad Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Alhazred / Donald Tyson.— 1st ed. p. cm. “H.P. Lovecraft’s compelling character, Abdul Alhazred, is brought to life in this epic tale detailing the mad sorcerer’s tragic history and magical adventures.” ISBN-13: 978-0-7387-0892-8 ISBN-10: 0-7387-0892-5 1. Magicians—Fiction. I. Lovecraft, H. P. (Howard Philips), 1890–1937. PR9199.3.T94A79 2006 813'.45—dc22


Llewellyn Worldwide does not participate in, endorse, or have any authority or responsibility concerning private business transactions between our authors and the public. All mail addressed to the author is forwarded but the publisher cannot, unless specifically instructed by the author, give out an address or phone number. Any Internet references contained in this work are current at publication time, but the publisher cannot guarantee that a specific location will continue to be maintained. Please refer to the publisher’s website for links to authors’ websites and other sources. Llewellyn Publications A Division of Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. 2143 Woodale Drive, Dept. 0-7387-0892-5 Woodbury, MN 55125-2989, U.S.A. Printed in the United States of America

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part one


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C hapter 1

he day began like any other. I awoke to the distant cry of a peacock on the lawn of the palace garden, and lay listening to the plash of the marble fountain below my chamber window while one of my slaves brought in a basin of warm water scented with rose petals for me to bathe, and another laid out on the foot of my bed my day robe. Naked beneath the silk sheet, I arched my back and wiggled my toes, unwilling to leave the soft embrace of the down-filled pillows that had molded themselves to my shape. My slave Anu stood beside the bed with the steaming copper basin in his hands, a white linen towel draped across his black arm, patiently waiting. He was an Ethiopian, sold into slavery at the age of five years by his father, and was generally held to be the best attendant in the palace, although I had my eye on a man who presently served the king’s bedchamber. Anu was a trifle too silent and serious for my taste. I needed attendants who could appreciate my wit when it burst forth spontaneously at odd times. Then my remarks would be repeated and would find their way into the harem, and my reputation among the wives and concubines of the king would grow, and eventually the praise would reach his ears. “Stop staring at me and put the basin down. Your arms are beginning to shake.�


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Wordlessly, Anu set the basin on the marble tiles of the floor beside the bed and stood with arms folded across his massive chest. His dark eyes were upon me, yet unfocused, as though he stared into the distance at some unseen vision. He often did that to irritate me. With a deep sigh, I slid the sheet off my limbs and pushed myself to my feet in front of the window. The cool morning breeze made my skin tingle. My manhood stood in a rampant condition, something that often occurred in the morning. The other slave, a boy from the Lebanon with the absurd name of Dodee, ran to get the glazed chamber pot and held it under my prick. I always felt the need to urinate after rising, having invariably drunk wine just before going to bed the night before. “I’m too stiff to piss, Dodee. Wait a few moments.” Dodee smiled in his half-witted way, prepared to wait all morning and into the afternoon if necessary. At least he was affable, which made me like him better than distant Anu, who paid no attention to my magnificent display of manhood, though he must have noticed from the corner of his eye. I was proud of the size of my prick. Several women of the palace, including the youngest wife of the king, had assured me that it was uncommonly huge for a man of my height. I wondered if I were larger than Anu. My head only came up to his chin, and his shining black arm where it projected from the short sleeve of his unbleached cotton tunic was thicker than my calf, but these were not always true indicators of manhood. Staring at my prick as though it were a rearing cobra, Dodee grinned and revealed his blackened teeth. He was my own age, nineteen years, with barely a fuzz of hairs beginning to sprout from his narrow chin, but he had a passion for sweets that rotted his teeth and caused his breath to stink. “A minute more, Dodee.” Just before waking, the princess Narisa had held me tight in her embrace and whispered honeyed words into my ear, tickling its depths with the pink tip of her tongue and catching the lobe playfully between her teeth. The dream was still with me. I stared up at the intricate interlocking pattern of colored tiles on the ceiling, thinking of a theorem of geometry from Euclid, and soon my piss began to tinkle into the chamber pot. Dodee carried his prize away. My arms spread slightly, I allowed Anu to wash my entire body with a linen cloth that floated in the basin and pat my white skin dry on the fluffy cotton towel. It was our daily ritual together. He worked with speed and efficiency.

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The intricately carved sandalwood screens that shuttered the window had been thrown open, as they always were at first light. My gaze wandered unobstructed down to the splashing fountain in the garden below, formed in the shape of two dancing marble dolphins with thin jets of water erupting from their opened mouths. Clusters of red roses grew all around the circular base of the fountain. Already, a slave assigned to maintain the palace grounds was watering the flowers with a wooden water bucket, while another slave pulled a reservoir behind him on a small cart. Periodically the second slave dipped a pitcher into the reservoir and poured water into the bucket, from which it streamed out through countless holes drilled in its bottom. One day without water and the flowers would wilt; in three days they would die. The same sun that shone down its rays into the walled garden of the king raised dust devils and shimmering mirages on the sands of the desert only an hour away at the walking pace of a horse. Amid the green lawns and spreading shade trees of the garden, the desert was no more than a distant illusion, yet seven years before, when first brought to the palace of King Huban by my father, the richness and diversity of forms in the palace had seemed a waking dream or a mad fantasy created by the spell of a djinn. My father was a herder of goats, his house a one-room hovel with mud-plastered walls and a roof of crooked sticks. In those days, dimmed by the passage of time but never to be forgotten, my bed had been a few discarded sacks on the hard clay floor, riddled with lice and fleas. I could never stop scratching my scalp, no matter how many times my mother hit me on the crown of my head with her knuckle. Her knuckle grew callused through overuse and made a dry sound as it struck my skull, like a walnut thrown into an empty wooden bowl. My life would have settled into a predictable routine of nit picking and goat herding, indistinguishable from the lives of my father and his father before him, but through some caprice of fate I was gifted at birth with a talent for poetry and the voice of an angel. My early spontaneous songs aroused the wonder of our village. In my twelfth year, my father and I were summoned to audience with King Huban ibn Abd Allah of Yemen at his palace in Sana’a. He had heard the fame of my poetry and wished to learn if it was more than the idle gossip of a small village. Strangely, I felt no fear when I stood barefoot in my patched shirt and newly scrubbed face to sing my poetry for the king. I never feel nervous when I recite or sing. A deep calmness comes over my soul, and I seem to rise out of myself and listen as though to the performance of some admirable stranger. The philosophers of the 5 o

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Greeks held that all poetry descends from the gods, or as we would phrase it in our more enlightened times, now that the Prophet has lifted our race out of barbarism, from the one God through the mediation of his angels. So charmed were the king and his advisors by my song, he entered into agreement with my father that I should remain and live within the palace, to be instructed by the tutors who taught his eldest son, the crown prince Yanni. With these few words, my life changed. My vermin-infested sleeping sacks were handed on to my less fortunate brothers and sisters, who no doubt gave thanks for the additional space created in the cramped little house by my absence. I was forced to become accustomed to sleep beneath sheets of milk-colored silk trimmed with arabesques of golden thread and on pillows filled with the down of swans. “Has the Princess Narisa arisen?” I asked without turning to look at Anu, who rubbed the towel down my back and buttocks. “I do not know, lord.” His voice was so deep it held the rumble of distant thunder. It grated on my teeth each time he spoke. “You have not forgotten my instruction to watch for her each morning?” “I remember, lord. I have not seen the princess today.” With a shrug, I left him and went to Dodee, who knelt with my white cotton surwal held open between his hands so that I could step into it. He pulled it up my legs and tied the drawstring at my waist. It was of Persian design, baggy but gathered at the cuffs just below the knees, and tastefully embroidered along the seams in rust-colored woolen thread with alternating leaves and flowers. Dodee lifted my thawb from the bed and held it high in his outstretched arms so that I could slip it over my head and shoulders. Of late I had adopted the robe of a scholar, a plain thawb of white silk with long sleeves and a hem that touched the ground, unadorned save for a few filigrees of gold thread worked with black seed pearls about the neck and tiraz bands around the sleeves. The Arabic script on the tiraz bands carried the words “In the name of God, the compassionate, blessing from God and mercy upon the Caliph, Yazid ibn Muawya, slave of God, the prince of believers.” I cared nothing either for God or the Caliph, but a pious verse on the tiraz bands lends a young man a modest appearance. The recent austerity of my clothing was the talk of the palace, which amused me greatly. In the harem, whispers spread that I meant to become a philosopher and forsake women altogether. This rumor served my purpose, since of late my attention was

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devoted to Narisa, and I had neither the energy nor inclination to lie with the slatterns who had polluted my bed in the past. Besides, it would injure the feelings of the princess were I to be unfaithful. I had sworn to her that we would be wed, and meant to broach this delicate subject with the king at the first opportunity. Even though my blood was common, the king could easily have me adopted into a noble family, which would render me fit for marriage to his eldest daughter. He had a great fondness for me and treated me in all things as though I were his own son. How to approach the subject of my marriage with the princess, I was uncertain. The question played through my mind each morning with no satisfactory conclusion. There would be only one chance to win the approval of the king, and if he denied the match, he would be alerted to my interest in his daughter and would have my movements watched. Our midnight meetings in the arbor beside the dolphin fountain would cease. To know the soft surrender of her parted thighs, gleaming like polished ivory in the moonlight, the palpitations of her heart beneath her breast, her warmly panted kisses, the bite of her nails into my back as she clutched me closer in the height of passion, and then to be driven apart from her and forced to pretend that I felt nothing when I looked at her—it would be more than I could endure, and would surely lead to some hasty and ill-conceived action that would end my life. The word of the king was law, and once spoken could not be revoked. Dodee drew yellow leather stockings over my bare feet and tied them above my calves, then slipped my feet into Persian slippers of dark blue felt. The toes were in the latest fashion from Baghdad and narrowed to upturned ends almost as sharp as the point of a dagger. Their tops were decorated with flowers of green and red glass beads. In my opinion, one of the blessings of the Sassanian rule of Yemen had been the introduction of Persian clothing, so much more colorful and graceful than the mundane garments of this land. The armies of Mohammed conquered the Sassanian Empire some ten years before I was born, but it was still possible to buy Persian styles, even though they were frowned upon by disapproving mullahs. Without prompting, Dodee held up an oval mirror of polished silver in a black ebony frame. My beardless face was undoubtedly handsome in a boyish way, my changeable gray-green eyes mysterious and penetrating, my nose narrow like the beak of a hawk, my full lower lip tinged with pink. Though my father was dark of complexion, some freak of nature had given me a pale skin that resisted browning beneath the sun. There was a rumor in my village, never spoken before the face of 7 o

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my father, that my mother had lain with a djinn on her journey to the village to be wed, and that I was the spawn of an evil spirit of the desert. The intense devotion of my mother to the teachings of the Koran refuted this slander, yet each time I gazed at my pale skin, the fable returned to my thoughts. For a moment I debated whether I should renew the black lines of kohl around the rims of my eyelids, then decided that they would serve until tomorrow. I abhorred vanity. My dark hair was beginning to curl over my ears. I reminded myself to have Anu summon the royal barber some afternoon later in the week, when I was bored and could find no more interesting occupation. Two women of the palace had expressed the desire to possess locks of my hair, which they intended to enclose in silver and crystal pendants, and I saw no harm in gratifying this whim. It was not my custom to eat in the morning. I wandered into the adjoining room that held my books and sat at my desk to finish writing the letter I had begun the previous night by lamplight, before the wine made me sleepy. It was addressed to a book merchant at Damascus. He had written describing a new addition to his wares that might interest me, and I intended to include payment in gold with this letter so that the book would be sent to Sana’a on the next caravan east. The work was a rare Greek text on necromancy, difficult to obtain here in Yemen since such books were forbidden to be read or possessed on pain of death. It was fortunate that no mullah would dare to apply these laws to a chosen favorite of the king, since many books of a similar type lined the shelves of my writing room. Sealing the letter in wax with my carnelian seal ring, I entrusted it to Anu, who bore it silently from my chambers to place with the rest of the royal mail. I took a black leather volume from a shelf and carried it under my arm down the stairs and out into the garden, meaning to sit in the bower by the fountain and read until Narisa came forth to make her morning circuit of the lawns, with her ever-present maids trailing their dark veils behind her. It would not have been decorous for her to stop and speak with me, but she would glance across at the bower as she passed, and if she saw that my legs were crossed, it was a signal that she should steal from her sleeping chamber that night and come to the bower, where I would be waiting to make love. Today my legs would be crossed. The polished marble seat of the bower, shaded from the rising sun by the leaves of the over-arching vines, felt cool against my back and thighs through the silk of my thawb. I opened the black cover of the book and began to read with some difficulty the crabbed Hebrew characters, so inelegant when compared with our own flowing 8 o

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script. In six months, I promised myself, I would read Hebrew as easily as I read Greek. Hebrew was rich in magical texts, and no serious student of the arcane arts could afford to be ignorant of its meaning. “Necromancer! Come out into the sun. You’re as white as a frog’s belly.” My displeasure did not reveal itself as I closed the book upon my index finger and looked up at Prince Yanni’s plump insolent face. He stood at the entrance to the bower, arms raised to the arch of the trellis that supported the vines. “You know the rays of the sun have no effect on my skin.” “Then come out and let me put some color in your cheeks. I want to wrestle.” Yanni was two years older, and had always been bigger and stronger. He enjoyed wrestling with me because he invariably won. “The last time we wrestled you broke the bone of my arm.” “Bruised. The physician said the bone was merely bruised, not broken. You always exaggerate, Abdul.” He would not go away until he got what he wanted. The look in his eyes said that he wanted to humiliate me by throwing me to the grass and holding me there until I could not breathe and lost consciousness. No one defied the wishes of the crown prince, not even the court poet. Closing the book and setting it on the stone bench, I walked to an open patch of sunlit grass, far enough away from the path of pink gravel that Yanni would have difficulty throwing me onto the stones. He followed with a swagger in his step, anticipating the pleasure of his victory. We stripped off our clothing. Yanni took off his jeweled rings and gold neck chains. His paunch was larger than the last time I had viewed it under a similar circumstance. It pleased me to note that his prick, so much more diminutive than my own, was nearly hidden beneath the bulk of his belly. He shook his head at my thawb, lying discarded on the grass, while I bent to pull off my leather stockings. “Why do you dress like a Persian?” “I don’t know what you mean,” I murmured in irritation as I freed myself from my surwal and dropped it on the grass. “You wear nothing on your head. You shave your beard. You wear silk that trails across the ground. All these things are expressly forbidden by the Prophet, upon him peace.” “When did you become so religious, big brother?” He shrugged, a slight smile quirking the corner of his mouth. 9 o

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“One day I will be king. A king must set an example for his people, especially with the appointed governor of the Caliph constantly peering over his shoulder.” We grappled, and our naked bodies slapped together. His arms about my shoulders were tight on my dry skin, so that I could not twist away from them. “Still reading forbidden books, little brother?” he grunted in my ear. “One of these days father will have your head cut off.” My knee blocked his thigh as he tried to sweep me from my feet. He arched his back and lifted me from the grass. I let my body go limp, and the shift of my weight forced him to renew his hold. When he relaxed momentarily, I slipped away with a spinning motion. “The king approves of my studies.” “Father values knowledge, but does he approve of the books in your library?” He named several texts of black magic. “How do you know what books are in my library?” My fury made me forgetful. He lunged and caught my leg in his hand. We fell to the grass, fighting for the upper position. Yanni spun his body deftly and covered my back, his arms around my chest. I struggled to keep my hands and knees beneath me. “You have the favor of the king,” he hissed in my ear. “That will not save you from a charge of sorcery.” “Why should you care what books I read?” I retorted. “I care about the honor of my sister.” His words chilled me like a dagger of ice through my heart. How much did he know? With a cry, he turned me on to my back and pinned me, his arm across my throat. It began to tighten. I slapped his shoulder with my hand. “Enough. The first fall is yours.” Reluctantly, he let me slide from his hold and climb to my feet. My left shoulder throbbed and my left arm felt numb from the elbow to the fingertips, but I could still use my hand. I worked my fingers open and closed, eyeing him warily as he stood. “Did you really believe no one would notice your eyes on Narisa, or that your slaves would keep silent?” Anu. It must have been Anu. I had been discreet. My eyes never strayed to Narisa when we passed on the lawns or in the halls of the palace. Was the slave truly my property, or had he belonged to Yanni these many months he had tended to my

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needs? Still, he could say no more than that I had asked about the movements of Narisa. Yanni slapped with playful brutality his cupped hands against my shoulders and head, trying to hit my ears as we circled each other. One blow could rupture the eardrum and cause deafness. I kept my shoulders hunched. “I’ve come to warn you, necromancer. There has been talk.” “Harem gossip.” I spat into the grass. “No man would listen to it.” The sound of female laughter drifted from one of the windows of the east wing of the palace, where the harem was kept. I glanced across the lawn and saw the brief flash of a bright blue scarf passed through the fretwork of a shut screen and drawn back as the breeze filled it. Our wrestling match provided diversion for the royal wives and concubines. The window was too distant for our words to be overheard. “Anyway,” I continued, “what harm would there be were I to admire Narisa? Your father could grant me a noble title.” Anger clouded his eyes. He lunged, but his arms slipped off my sweating torso before they could lock together. I spun and grasped his waist from behind, trying to throw him. He sought to hook my leg with his ankle. I blocked him with my knee, cursing inwardly the bulk of his fat that made him too heavy to lift. “You’re a goat herder, little brother,” he said with scorn, trying to use his elbows against my upper arms to break my hold and digging at my hands with his powerful fingers. “Do you think a proclamation granting you a noble rank can change that?” My heart became leaden. Narisa and I so often shared the dream that a grant of noble title would enable our union, I had almost come to believe it myself. The king was liberal in his opinions, and valued both talent and learning, but the prejudice of rank ran deep. Would he even consider giving the hand of his daughter to a common herder? Anger lent my limbs renewed strength. I lunged up and back, drawing Yanni off his feet so that he fell with me, but before we struck the lawn I twisted and gained the upper position. His body absorbed the blow, which knocked the wind from his lungs. Quickly, before he recovered, I applied a lock and held him. He struggled furiously, but soon began to tire. I could hold the lock all day and he knew it. In disgust, he slapped my arm. “This fall goes to you. How did you turn so quickly? You writhe like a serpent. Let me up.”

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We gained our feet and circled, both breathing hard and streaming sweat. He rubbed his left elbow, his eyes never leaving mine, and with a fierce exultation I knew that I had hurt him. That could be used to my advantage. I ceased circling to my left and began to move in the opposite direction, so that his weakened left arm would be exposed. Yanni saw what I was doing and turned his torso to shield his left side. “Keep your eyes to the study of your black books and your barbaric tongues,” he muttered. “My sister is not for you.” “She can speak her own words.” “I like you, Abdul. For these past seven years you’ve been like a brother to me. But we are not brothers. You are a singer of songs and a maker of verses. I am the crown prince of Yemen. Do not think to tie my blood to yours through my sister.” I could not oppose his strength or skill. My only weapon was guile. “Narisa is a playmate of my childhood, nothing more.” “She has become a woman, and your time of playing with her is past.” He threw himself upon me, intending to use his sheer power to force me to my knees. Instead of resisting, I drew him to my breast and fell backward, my right foot planted in his stomach. His own weight threw him over my body as I straightened my leg, adding to his flight. He struck the gravel path with the flat of his back and slid across the stones cursing, then rolled to his side. Quickly, before he could stand, I darted after him and fastened a chokehold around his neck, forcing his face into the gravel. It was the same hold Yanni had taught me in our childhood, when he delighted to throw me across the lawn again and again until I could no longer rise to my feet. The pink stones, though not sharp, cut his cheek and forehead. Blood streamed from his nose, and his lower lip began to swell. My forearm tightened on his thick neck. He struggled to throw me off, cursing and spitting a spray of blood from his cut lip. At last, he relaxed and slapped my arm. I tightened the hold, thinking of the many times he had used it to render me unconscious. Again he slapped my arm, and again with a frantic motion. Reluctantly, I released him and stood quickly before he could vent his annoyance with a petty blow. Yanni got up rubbing his throat and tried to smile, but his swollen lip made the expression grotesque. He spat blood into the grass. “You’ve gained skill since the last time we wrestled.” “A man can improve himself.”

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He laughed and gathered up his necklaces and rings. With quick, angry tugs at his white cotton thawb, he dressed and walked away without speaking. Putting on my clothes without haste, I returned to the bower, only to find that it had lost its charms. My mind refused to interpret the Hebrew characters opened before me, so I sat pretending to read while my thoughts raced within my skull. Yanni was correct that by the laws of Yemen, the mere possession of the book I held in my hands was death. It had never occurred to me that so foolish a law could affect me, the king’s own favorite, within the palace, but should the king himself choose to apply it, the law was grounds for my execution by decapitation. I had watched such executions many times with great interest, observing how the fountain of blood sprang from the stump of the neck and the eyes rolled up so that only their whites showed in the sockets of the tumbling head, after the executioner’s sword fulfilled its fatal arc. I had no wish to play the central part in such a tragedy. Narisa’s face arose in my imagination, playful with seduction, the countenance of a houri of paradise promising infinite delights. We loved with equally mingled passion of the flesh and purity of the heart. It was impossible to think of forsaking her. On a more pragmatic level, marriage with Narisa presented the opportunity to become a member of the royal family, which would protect my future ease and security. Who knew when the king might grow weary of my songs, and dismiss me from the palace? Marriage with his daughter would ensure that it would remain my home forever. Not even Yanni could cast me out when he ascended to the throne. I glanced up through the leaves at the sun. The morning grew late. Narisa should have made her promenade of the garden. She was punctual in her habits. I wondered what might have delayed her, or whether she had fallen ill during the night. Preoccupation with these thoughts made me ignore the approach of a member of the palace guard, who crossed the lawn with purposeful steps, his polished bronze breastplate gleaming in the sun and his short military sword slapping against his thigh in its sheath. Only when he stopped at the entrance to the bower did I look at him. His scarred face seemed familiar, and I realized that he was a guard of the throne room, sworn to protect the security of the king. It was unusual to see a throne room guard walking about in the garden. “The king requests your presence, lord.” My heart began to beat faster as my thoughts raced. Yanni must have spoken his concern over my attentions toward Narisa to his father, and the king had decided to question me about the rumor. It was the opportunity I had waited for these past 13 o

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months, a chance to confess my love for the princess and my desire to have her hand in marriage. I would ask the king to bless our union, and to enable it by granting me adoption into a noble family, along with a rank and title. “Immediately, my lord.” I became aware of my book. It was not the sort of text to leave lying around in the garden, yet neither was it a book I wished to parade before the king while asking for the hand of his daughter in marriage. “May I return to my rooms to prepare?” The guard’s battered features expressed no emotion. He was a veteran twice my years, granted throne room duty as a reward for his faithful service. “You are to accompany me at once to the presence of the king.” Sighing, I tucked the book under my arm. It was in Hebrew, after all. What chance was there that any of the courtiers in the throne room would be able to read a single word of it? True, the king’s chief advisor was a Jew, but in the mornings he occupied himself drafting state documents. The guard kept half a step ahead, glancing over his shoulder to ensure that I followed. He did not lead me to the large and ornate throne room, where the king spent much of his day surrounded by his advisors and nobles, but to a smaller and less ostentatious audience chamber in the rear of the palace. Evidently the king did not wish to make a public display of our interview. This suited my purpose, as it would allow me to express my intentions toward Narisa without the risk of embarrassing her or the king. We could speak man to man, or son to father. The two guards standing on either side of the audience chamber door seemed oddly tense, but I thought little of it. My mind was preoccupied with the eloquence of the speech I composed. I have always had a talent for extemporaneous composition, and concentrated on casting the words I intended to utter before the king into the most persuasive pattern I could devise. Only one chance would be offered to me to win his agreement to the union. My escort opened the featureless and uninviting door and stood aside to let me pass. The sound of weeping came from within the chamber, which was not large, with a low tiled ceiling and a floor of plain slate. I went forward with curiosity into the dim room, wondering who wept. The guard entered after me and closed the door, then stood stiffly at attention in front of it with a grim expression, as though to bar my exit.

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Broken light shone through the closed screens of three windows along the outer wall and cast geometric patterns across the slates. The only furniture was a simple wooden chair at one end of the room in which the king sat. To the left of the chair stood his principal advisor, a tall gaunt figure in black with a gray beard that hung almost to his waist, and on the right my slave Dodee, who eyed me with bright awareness. Several of the king’s personal guards were ranked at attention along each side wall, swords drawn and held at the ready. These details I gathered from the edge of my vision, but my attention was fixed upon the pitiful figure of Narisa, who crouched on her hands and knees on the bare slates in front of the rough throne, her head hung low so that her long dark hair fell about her face and concealed it. Sobs shook her whole body. With an effort of self-control, I resisted the urge to run to her and pull her up from the floor. Her hair dangled loose and uncombed, and she wore a simple white cotton shift of the kind a woman might wear for sleeping. Blood stained its hem. She did not look at me, but kept her head lowered. “Here he is,” the king said in a booming voice, so unnaturally bright. “The young man who has defiled the virtue of my daughter.”

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H. P. Lovecraft's compelling character, Abdul Alhazred, is brought to life in this epic tale detailing the mad sorcerer's tragic history and...