SMITH, CLARK ASHTON – NECROMANCY IN NAAT – in THE EMPEROR OF DREAMS. 2002. Fantasy Masterworks #26. Gollancz Books.
Any story, which features a vampire weasel, is cool in my book, and this very odd tale (even by Smith’s standards) has a genuinely scary one at its heart.
A man is shocked one day when slave traders abduct the girl he loves. He gives chase without having any real clues where to look. His travels in search for the girl and her abductors kill many of his traveling companions. Eventually, he learns that she was taken abroad, so he takes a voyage in search of her, but the ship on which he travels gets caught in a mysterious current called The Black River. Here the whole sea is pitch black. The captain of the vessel tells the man that the Black River will lead to only two fates; a/ Being plunged off the edge of the world. b/. And worse, ending up on the isle of Naat, where evil necromancers operate. Only the necromancers seem able to escape the currents of the Black River. The ship crashes into the reefs around Naat, and the traveler is thrown into the sea. He witnesses the others drowning, but a naked girl rescues him. To his delight, it is his lover, Dalili, but unfortunately, she is a zombie.
Articulate, and friendly, she leads her boyfriend, Yadar to the citadel of the leading Necromancer, who has two sons who are eager to overthrow him. The necromancer has raised the dead as his servants, and makes Dalili swim for pearls for him. He has also raised the dead crew of the ship Yadar sailed on. The necromancer demonstrates his power by bringing in a captured live cannibal from the forests. He introduces the cannibal to his own flesh-eating monster, a weasel that lives in a crack in the floorboards, and even burrows in granite. It eats the poor cannibal alive. Yadar half expects to share his fate in the days to come. However, the sons of the sorcerer involve him in their plans to kill the sorcerer. He agrees to help, as he can then get control of one of their ships, one of the few vessels able to escape the currents of The Black River. The attack on The Sorcerer goes horribly wrong. Though killed, he maims Yadar and kills the others. The weasel is also killed with great difficulty. Yadar takes his own life, and his ghost unites with the spirit of Dalili. http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/s/clark-ashton-smith/
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