Originally published on Poul Anderson Appreciation, 23 May 2012.
planet Chereion is in the Merseian Rhoidunate. Landing on it is
forbidden by each new Rhoidun. Merseian warcraft protect its system to
Chereion's sun is a
red dwarf star, billions of years older than Sol or Zoria, with seven
planets. Chereion has polar caps, barren deserts, uncultivated saline
plant life, a few shrunken seas and a small scarred moon. Chereionite
gravity is half terrestrial. Much atmosphere and hydrosphere have been
lost. There is overwhelming age and desolation. Cities are in good
repair with fusion power but little energy use and with no visible
traffic or ground or satellite defenses. There are lighted towers in the
middle of rock and sand wastes.
A Chereionite city is surrounded by low glittering
rainbow bushes, then by lifeless desert and eroded mountains. The city,
enclosed in an ellipse, comprises, at the perimeter, single-storied,
slenderly colonnaded buildings. Beyond these, other buildings lift
towards slim towers. There are harmonious colors but few windows and no
sounds. Landscape erosion has revealed the city's azure foundations.
Streets are broad and blue. Man-sized floating ovoids
with tentacles holding tools and sensors maintain the buildings. In a
mosaic plaza, computer-generated holograms of extinct Chereionites walk
in apparent contemplation and mind to mind communication, preventing the
Merseians from realizing that only one Chereionite survives.
Aycharaych, who trained high ranking Merseians in his castle at Raal,
preserves recordings not only of his planet's art and literature but
also of its spiritual leaders and philosophers. He says that the
Chereionites were the Ancients whose ruins are found on many planets.
Sources: Anderson, Poul, The Day Of Their Return, Doubleday, 1973; A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows, London, 1978; A Circus Of Hells, London, 1978, p. 116.