The Maker of Moons (short story)
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He is later seen at a gold-shop, where a friend, Godfrey, shows him a golden chain. In the middle of the conversation they notice a strange creature is crawling in Godfrey's pocket; he says of this:
- "It is, I believe, the connecting link between a sea-urchin, a spider, and the devil. It looks venomous but I can't find either fangs or mouth. Is it blind? These things may be eyes but they look as if they were painted. A Japanese sculptor might have produced such an impossible beast, but it is hard to believe that God did. It looks unfinished too."
The narrator is then visited by a friend of his, a secret agent, who informs him of the discovery that gold is in fact a composite metal and that it can be made artificially -- and also that there is a mob of people making it.
A few days later, the narrator, the secret agent, and their other acquaintance leave for Cardinal Woods by Starlit lake. There they begin hunting, while the secret agent goes off to look around.
During the hunt, the narrator stumbles on a hidden fountain in the middle of the forest. There he meets a woman named Ysonde. They begin to talk, the narrator learning that she comes from Yian, but then she suddenly disappears. He is led to think she was but a phantom and goes off hunting, learning the progress of Barris's operation. In the night, he then sees a Chinaman, whom others have reportedly seen in the region. He is mightily disturbed also by the fact that he cannot find the pond where he met Ysonde, even though he knew exactly where it was, finally acknowledging that Ysonde does not exist. He meets her again, however, and is thrilled. He asks her more about her origins. One of the things she keeps referencing is her former home, the city of Yian. The narrator, after he returns to his cabin, falls sick. Only after he recovers does he ask Barris where Yian lies. He denies the existence of the city, but after the narrator presses him, he finally exclaims that Yian does truly exist.
- "Yian is a city," repeated Barris, "where the great river winds under the thousand bridges – where the gardens are sweet scented, and the air is filled with the music of silver bells."
- My lips formed the question, "Where is this city?"
- "It lies," said Barris, almost querulously, "across the seven oceans and the river which is longer than from the earth to the moon."
Barris also proclaims that it is both the center of the Kuen-Yuin and Yue-Laou, and also that he once lived and loved there, but that he was tricked by the Maker of Moons, who provided him with a lovely woman, with whom he fell in love, and then took her away. However, Barris does believe that Xangi, who "is God", is greater than Yue-Laou and that he shall bring him again to his beloved.
The narrator afterwards goes off to find Ysonde. He meets hordes of fleeing animals and finally sees her. They both then witness, in horror, Yue-Laou bringing forth the Xin. Barris shows up, but even though he "shoots" Yue-Laou, his body is never found.
The story ends with a strange note: "Ysonde bends over my desk,--I feel her hand on my arm, and she is saying, "Don't you think you have done enough to-day, dear? How can you write such silly nonsense without a shadow of truth or foundation?", bringing doubt to the credibility of the above narrative.