Mandor's Enemy (Fragment)

Clark Ashton Smith

To Mandor, son of Famorgh, and sixtieth king of Tasuun, there came in the latter days of his tyranny the consort he had neither desired nor expected, to sit henceforward beside him on his throne, and to share his bed and his table. The consort was fear; and it seemed always that the fear spoke inwardly, with a small, shrill voice like the hissing of an adder, saying: "Thou hast an enemy."

Now the foes of a tyrannous king are many; and with such as were known to him Mandor had dealt strictly, as a tyrant deals, glutting the torture chambers and tombs and dungeons. And fear was a strange and a new thing to him: for he had fought in battle against inexpugnable odds and had never met it; and the poignards of assassins had wounded him but had left no fear to fester in the wounds; and witches had made moppets in his name and image but had wasted their pains, piercing or burning only the insensate wax. Yet terror had come to him, passing the guards about his palace-gates, like a serpent that crawls through some unheeded rift; and gliding amid furnishments of silk and velvet, is perceived solely by its hissing.

Dark and enigmatic was its advent, to which he could hardly have assigned a date: for, having come, it seemed to have been with him through seasons immemorable. And knowing not the object of his dread, or in what guise the enemy might

^xxx^ xxx was added by Smith.
[xxx] xxx was deleted by Smith.

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