A description of the Dream Geography surrounding the The River Yann, a region of the Dreamlands created by Lord Dunsany in Beyond the Fields We Know, which collects the three short Dreamlands stories, "Idle Days on the Yann (fiction)", "A Shop in Go-By Street (fiction)", and "The Avenger of Perdondaris (fiction)", together with a short framing device.
- 1 In the Mythos
- 1.1 The Borderlands of Dream
- 1.2 Hian Min (Belzoond, Durl, Duz)
- 1.3 Hap (Kyph, Pir, Goolunza)
- 1.4 Mandaroon
- 1.5 Noor and Thace
- 1.6 Astahahn
- 1.7 Lispasia
- 1.8 Perdóndaris
- 1.9 Glorm
- 1.10 Irusian Mountains (Pen-Kai, Blut, Mlo)
- 1.11 Plains of Tlun (Cappadarnia)
- 1.12 Pathn (Imaut, Golzunda)
- 1.13 Golnuz (Góndara, Narl, Haz)
- 1.14 Mloon (Nen, Bar-Wul-Yann)
- 1.15 The Central Sea
- 1.16 The Lands Beyond
- 1.17 The Worlds Beyond
- 2 Heresies and Controversies
- 3 Keeper Notes
- 4 Associated Mythos Elements
- 5 References
In the Mythos
The exotic River Yann runs through a tropical and mountainous region of the Dreamlands visited by the Dreamer and poet, Lord Dunsany, serving as a waterway for trade between far-flung countries across the Dreamlands to the South, and the lands of Myth and Fantasy to the North, by way of market villages and cities along the river.
The Borderlands of Dream
The door in the back of a certain shop on a street that appears on no map in the Daylands opens into the Dreamlands, upon a path on the edge of the dark forest that borders the Daylands of waking man; the backs of the other shops on the same street can also be seen here among the trees, ancient, crumbling, and covered in moss and fungi, and sometimes set with doors of their own; the dreamer should remember the correct door back to the Shop, and should not try to return through the wrong door, as not all of the doors upon onto the right place or time in the Daylands, and Dreamers who have tried to return through the wrong door are sometimes never seen again.
The path in the forest leads to the right, between the trees and the crumbling shop-backs, out of the forest. From there, the path opens onto the fields of Dream upon which stand a cluster of small cottages, most standing empty and mysterious, full of antique dust and cobwebs, but one of the cottages is inhabited by a woman and her cat, both terribly old and wise in the ways of both Dream and Day. They are willing to talk to Dreamers, give directions if asked politely, and perhaps even to actively help newcomers by offering advice, instruction, and wisdom in the ways of Dream and the language of cats. However the woman has a reputation among Dreamers as a witch, and her gardens, large and beautiful, are tended to in strange and tedious fashion by the labors of dazed poets and dreamers who, perhaps bewitched, have chosen to linger too long in Dream and have become lost and forgetful of the cares and responsibilities of the waking world, and now know only the simple joys of silently and tirelessly working in the old woman's gardens under the lazy, watchful eye of her cat as he suns himself in the cottage window overlooking the garden; it is, perhaps, wise not to linger long near the cottages, and wiser still not to provoke the old woman or her cat to anger.
The the windows behind the cottages face eastward down the River Yann, towards a breathtaking view of the glittering elfin snow-tipped mountains of the north across the river, towering range on range toward the East into the region of Myth, and beyond into the kingdom of Fantasy, which together pertain to the Lands of Dream to the South.
Hian Min (Belzoond, Durl, Duz)
A road leads from the River Yann up through the hills to a marketplace outside of fair Belzoond, where the roads to Belzoond's peaceful neighbors Durl and Duz meet. Cheerful shepherds live in huts in the little Acroctian Hills beneath the Mountains of Hian Min.
Belzoond, Durl and Duz are pleasant cities and peoples, with cheerful market songs, dragon-legends, and humble gods. Shepherds and wine-makers work in the hills, merchants work in the market outside Belzoond, and traders travel the river Yann in small sailing ships, looking for exotic goods in the strange markets along the river.
It is from this region that the merchant ship Bird of the River, her captain, and her crew originated; it was on this boat that Lord Dunsany made his early voyage through the lands of Dream.
Hap (Kyph, Pir, Goolunza)
Kyph, Pir, and Goolunza are cities among the hills of Hap. Through the hills, beneath the cities, flow the Poltiades, the Marn, and Migris: small river tributaries to the Yann; these rivers flood seasonally with the melting snow.
A large, beautiful city with ruddy-walls and white pinnacles, perched above a harbor on the Yann, surrounded by fruit trees, and mossy, long-untrodden stone streets into the city, and the scents of strange incenses and burnt poppies, and a strange and inaudible ringing like that in the wake of distant bells.
The walls of the city are guarded by ancient, be-spectacled, white-bearded men who live in huts outside the walls, armed with rusty pikes, preventing entrance to the city, barring entrance through the gates, and within the city is a marketplace full of sleepers and deathly silence. None may ask questions at the gate, nor disturb the sleepers, because when the sleepers awaken, the gods will die, and men will dream no more.
Noor and Thace
Dark marshes and jungles full of vast choirs of singing insects and clouds of butterflies whose silk is gathered by the Noorish people. The jungles climb into the Hills of Noor, up into the snowy plains and mountains beyond. Caravans from Nurl take the gleaming coloured silks to far Thace, where the crafty merchants flash them against the snow to astonish the local mountaineers.
Astrahahn, where the Yann widens and white mists play across the waters like the ghosts of wrecked ships, is an incredibly ancient, ceremonious, proud, and solemn marble city. The marble city surrounds a wide court, columned on three sides where the markets are held in the shade. The fourth side descends with wide marble steps to the river where strange boats of antique design are chained.
All about the city are carvings of beasts from strange and antique ages - dragons, hippogrypgs, griffins, and gargoyles - no new custom or building is to be found in the city. The marle houses are carved with ancient designs depicting creatures long-extinct in the Dreamlands, which, wherever cracked and broken over the remote ages by age and time, have gone unrepaired, and the edges of the city are slowly being overtaken by the jungles beyond.
Sailors and traders who stop here to try to trade with the locals have grown accustomed to their ways, and ignore the somber people of Astahahn and their long and sober ceremonies, and deal only in those few goods which the locals would buy, and have always bought according to custom.
If asked, the locals proudly claim to have fettered and manacled Time before it could slay the gods, and to worship with their endless strange and ancient ceremonies and processions all those gods which have not yet been slain by Time.
The jungles of Lispasia are filled with birds of every description, the cacophony of their voices audible from a long distance. Flocks of geese migrate over the Lispasian range, close by the Peak of Mluna, flying out at the same time every year, and flying in from the Northern plains with the first northern snowfall of each year.
Perdóndaris was once a great, famous, powerful, and pleasant city, with great, fierce, and fearful local gods and shrewd traders. About the city stood mighty walls and battlements mounted by fifteen towers for every mile, and copper plaques in marked with all the languages of the River Yann and many languages from beyond the river on either side describing the fates that befell invading armies who failed to penetrate the walls. The city's vast gate is carved from a single piece of ivory cast off from a monstrous beast from the hills beyond, and many of the palaces were built from blocks of ivory carved from smaller specimens. The city had at some point met a mighty doom beneath the trampling feet and before the monstrous shoulders of the nameless beast from which that mighty tusk fell, suddenly wrecking the city in one terrible night.
Perdóndaris has since been rebuilt, but the new city is only a shadow beneath the ruin of the old, and no longer commands the awe and power of the old city nor deals in all the wondrous goods which once it traded in; the survivors huddling within the rebuilt city now pray to the God Which They Know Not to spare them from further doom. The ruins of the old city stand on the craggy hills above new Perdóndaris, the cliffs between the ruins spanned by shattered bridges over deep ravines, beneath which can sometimes be seen glimpses of the golden dragons that were the triumph of the goldsmiths of Sirdoo and were given life by the ritual incantations of the conjurer Amargrarn.
The markets deal in a great variety of goods, including rare and beautiful toomarund carpets, the herb tollub for pipe-smoking, sapphire gem-stones, and goods of ivory carved from the city's ruined gate.
The River Yann runs through a dark and misty ravine between the snowy peaks, ancient crags, and chilly cliffs of the Hills of Glorm, beneath the eerie song of the wailing winds of Mount Irillion. Beyond Glorm, the river widens again into the marshlands of Pondoovery.
Irusian Mountains (Pen-Kai, Blut, Mlo)
The Irusian Mountains nurse the farms and vinyards of the villages of Pen-Kai and Blut, and the wandering streets of Mlo.
Plains of Tlun (Cappadarnia)
The plains of Tlun are home to the city of Cappadarnia.
Pathn (Imaut, Golzunda)
The Pathnite villages and twin cities of Imaut and Golzunda are known for the constant beating of the locals' drums which sound deep in the surrounding forests.
Golnuz (Góndara, Narl, Haz)
Where the river turns north again are Góndara, Narl, Haz, and the holy city of Golnuz, where the praying of pilgrims can be heard.
Mloon (Nen, Bar-Wul-Yann)
In the foothills beneath the Mloon ranges the jungles encroach again upon the river, and Nen, the last city on the River Yann.
Above the cliffs of Bar-Wul-Yan loom the mountains of Mloon. Once in every seven years, through the Peaks of Mloon come the Wanderers, a weird, dark tribe from the strange and unseen far desert lands beyond the mountains, who come down together through a pass through the mountains known only to the Wanderers. They fill the streets of Nen with merchants of strange goods and outre carvings, with conjurers of small but astonishing tricks, and with dancers and strange, horror-filled music and mysterious and sinister songs. The folk of Mloon regard snakes as their brothers and fear them not, not even the largest and deadliest of tropical serpents, the giant lythra, which rise up out of the jungles to creep boldly through the streets and sway to the Wanderers' music and bow their serpent heads to the honor of the Wanderers' respectful greetings. At night, the Wanderers greet the darkness with a hymn that is answered by the wolves on the heights of Mloon, and resume their strange festivities, telling frightful tales until dawn of dark places, dark peoples, dark deeds, and dark spirits and beasts that are known and seen only in the nightmare lands beyond Mloon.
Beyond Nen, just a little further down the river, the cliffs by the sea are named Bar-Wul-Yann ("The Gate of Yann"), marking the boundary between the river and the Central Sea.
The Central Sea
- Pungar Vees is the red-walled city where the fountains are, which trades with the isles.
- Isles of Thul - who trade with the red-walled city of Pungar Vees, where the fountains are.
- The Isle of the Yozi is a dark, rocky, lonely, haunted island, upon which are carved ancient, weathered statues in the likenesses of the Yozi.
- The Isle of the Baboon, whereupon stands an empty, miserable shrine to the Yozi, before which the baboons that once lived on the isle clasped their hands and prayed to the Yozi to become human. There are no more baboons on the isle, for they have left the isle to dwell among men, but wherever the followers of the Yozi go, they still build their pitiful shrines, and send their foul prayers to the Yozi.
The Lands Beyond
Golthoth, Sirdoo, Sundari
- In the Desert of Cuppar-Nombo can be found the beautiful blue city called Golthoth the Damned, which is sentinelled all round by wolves and their shadows, and had been utterly desolate for years and years because of a curse which the gods once spoke in anger and could never since recall.
- Sirdoo is a far land renowned for its clever craftsman and wizards who together construct exquisite, life-like clockwork automatons, and curious devices and delicate instruments, built from shining brass or glittering gold, polished rare woods, and clear coloured crystal glass and rare gems.
- Sundari, a land of seven treacherous icy mountains and seven valleys, beyond which can be found the Temple of Mana-Yood-Sushai, whose priests do nothing all day, and do not pray, and do not work.
Aradec, Ardra, Rhoodra, Ildun, Ildaun, Pathia, Ezek, Azhanand
In Aradec, in the capital of the Kingdom of the Prophets, stands a Temple to All the Gods Save One, to which go all the prophets of Aradec, and of Aradec, Ardra, Rhoodra, Ildun and Ildaun, Pathia, Ezek, Azhanand, and all the lands beyond.
Above Aradec, it is said that The Secret of the End of Things was written upon the summit of the dome of the Hall of Night, but only faintly writ, and in an unknown tongue.
The high prophet Imbaun was once induced by the prophets of the lands beyond to climb up into the Hall of Night, and read the Secret of the End of Things, but Imbaun could see nothing because of the darkness of the Hall of Night. But when Imbaun returned to Aradec, he slept in the Temple to All the Gods Save One, and awakened as a wiser man, one knowing why the Secret of the End of Things should be hidden.
Eimës, Zänës, Segástrion
There be three broad rivers of the plain, born as home gods of men before memory or fable, whose mothers are three grey peaks and whose father was the storm:
- River Eimës - the joy of lowing herds, and carries the timber from the forest far up below the mountain
- River Zänës - hath bowed his neck to the yoke of man
- River Segástrion - sings old songs to shepherd boys, singing of his childhood in a lone ravine and of how he once sprang down the mountain sides and far away into the plain to see the world, and of how one day at last he will find the sea
Once, the three rivers of the plain rebelled, escaped their boundaries, and joined together to wreck cities and slay men, saying: "We now play the game of the gods and slay men for our pleasure, and we be greater than the gods of Pegana." Men sent their prayers to the gods of Pegana, who made war upon the rivers, but could not slay them, until Mung unleashed Umbrool, the beast of drought, upon the rivers, nearly drying them away, until the rivers submitted to the gods of Pegana, and no longer aspired to play the Game of Life and Death with men, as do the gods of Pegana.
Bodrahan, Afrik, Ranorada
There lie seven deserts beyond Bodrahan, which is the city of the caravans' end. None goeth beyond.
- In the first desert lie the tracks of mighty travellers outward from Bodrahan, and some returning.
- And in the second, the Desert Afrik - home of Umbrool, beast of drought, who sitteth upon iron rocks, clawing with miserly grasp at the bones of men and breathing hot, whose grinning was like death in a hot and hideous land, lie only outward tracks, and none return; beyond the second desert are no tracks.
- The third is a desert untrodden by the feet of men.
- The fourth is the desert of sand.
- The fifth is the desert of dust.
- The sixth is the desert of stones.
- The seventh is the Desert of Deserts, the Desert Ranorada.
In the midst of the last of the deserts that lie beyond Bodrahan, in the centre of the Desert of Deserts, standeth the image that hath been hewn of old out of the living hill whose name is Ranorada - The Eye in the Waste. About the base of Ranorada is carved in mystic letters that are vaster than the beds of streams these words: "To the God Who Knows". There came no man thither to hew that statue from the living hills, and Ranorada was wrought by the hands of gods. Men tell in Bodrahan, where the caravans end and all the drivers of the camels rest, how once the gods hewed Ranorada from the living hill, hammering all night long beyond the deserts, in the likeness of a god whom no man knoweth, but men guess might be Hoodrazai.
Sardathrion, Wornath-Mavai, Siddith, Aghrinaun
Once the gods walked upon Earth as men walk and spake with their mouths like Men. That was in Wornath-Mavai, and Wornath-Mavai was a garden fairer than all the gardens upon Earth, and lay in a valley looking towards the south, and on the slopes of it the gods rested among the flowers when they were young. Wornath-Mavai still lay looking towards the south, a garden among gardens, and still the flowers grow about its slopes as they grew when the gods were young; and even the butterflies live in Wornath-Mavai still; one who finds Wornath-Mavai would be more fortunate than the gods, who have grown forgetful and have lost Wornath-Mavai, and can rest as they once did no longer.
The Valley of Siddith, where stands a Temple of All the Gods Save One (for none may pray to Mana-Yood-Sushai), empty, with no high priest, beneath the mountain Aghrinaun, whereupon the gods walk the summit by night, and also Grimbol, Zeebol, and Trehagobol, the three great mountains of Pegana that stand aloof and over all the others, from whence bloweth the wind of the morning to cool the brows of the gods. Imrana, the River of Silence, which flows from the drum of Skarl, throughout the world and over its edge, through the gates of Pegana into the stars, to where the gods Mung and Sirani wait to relieve weary men of their pain, sorrow, life, and memories.
Sardathrion, city of the gods in Pegana, dreamed by the gods into being in a desert valley from solid marble, with onyx sculptures, misty lawns and cool, green gardens, and fountains and a lake oasis for the gods to cool their brow while they walk the city in the guise of men with cloaks about their faces, and in the city's midst a citidel of marble stands atop a thousand marble steps, raising four beckoning pinnacles to heaven. No common man may cross the desert or pass the mountains into Sardathrion, yet the gods call out to chosen travelers with a great longing to cross the mountains and deserts and look upon Sardathrion, and fill the halls with music and poetry. In the desert beyond the valley grows a wall of thorns, all pointing toward Sardathrion, so that those chosen ones may never leave the city, for no mortal who hath seen Sardathrion may set foot ever again in a common city.
Thus, none may ever hear the speech of the poets of that city, nor hear the songs that have been sung in that city of the poets and musicians to whom the gods have spoken.
This hath the gods said of Sardathrion: "Surely we are the lords of Time and gods of the worlds besides. See how our city Sardathrion lifts over other cities. Others arise and perish but Sardathrion standeth yet, the first and the last of cities. Rivers are lost in the sea and streams forsake the hills, but ever Sardathrion's fountains arise in our dream city. As was Sardathrion when the gods were young, so are her streets to-day as a sign that we are the gods."
The gods no longer dwell in Sardathrion, for one night, Time had slipped into the city unseen, and slew it. The gods turn their eyes from the sad wreck of Sardathrion and weep, but no tears may bring back fallen Sardathrion.
Sardathrion now lay in ruin, lost to the desert, and the gods visit it no more, but instead do the work of gods, who dream sadly of lost Sardathrion as they toil in hearing prayers, and fear that Time, who hath overthrown Sardathrion, may also one day slay the gods.
The Worlds Beyond
Far to the South, beyond the edge of the Earth, and beyond the Moon, and beyond Yum and Gothum, the sentinel-stars at the Gates of Pegana, one may pass by all the Worlds and leave them to the North, till only Araxes, Zadres, and Hyraglion lay still to the South of them, where great Ingazi seemed only a point of light, and Yo and Mindo could be seen no more. There there is neither South nor East nor West, but only North and Beyond; there is only North of it where lie the Worlds, and Beyond it where lies the Silence, and the Rim is a mass of rocks that were never used by the gods when They made the Worlds.
Heresies and Controversies
The Door in the Shop
In a place near the river in a city of the Daylands, in a place where the city borders closely on Dream, runs a tiny street that can be found on no ordinary map, in which stands a shop in which strange and antique things can be purchased. The shopkeeper is an elderly and eccentric dreamer from the lands of Dream, once a great priest in the shrines and temples of the gods of dream, who has himself chosen to dream his way to the waking world to live out his final days here, because time runs differently in the waking world than in dream, and the shopkeeper has a painful memory from the land of Dream which he sometimes wishes to forget.
In the back of the shop can be found a dingy lumber-room full of strange goods gathered from across the lands of Dream, and shelves full of strange idols of sleeping gods from all around the waking and dreaming worlds, some known and familiar, some unknown, a couple something more than commonly grotesque, and, should a sensitive dreamer look in just the right place beyond that shelf in the back of the lumber-room, the dreamer will find a plain and unassuming green-painted door which opens upon the Dreamlands themselves; the shopkeeper holds the silver key to the door, and knows the secret to opening the door; wise dreamers will carefully negotiate with the shopkeeper to open the door for them, and arrange for the way back to the Daylands after their time in Dream is done; the shopkeeper is interested in rare and weird curiosities from across the waking world, which he takes through the door into Dream to trade.
Note that the green-painted door is not the only door into the Dreamlands - there are many other doors and gates around the world, though few are as safe to travel through as this one. Nor doors through the thin spots between Dream and Day the only way into Dream - there are many other ways, though few other ways permit a dreamer to walk physically into the land of Dream.
The Dreamers of Mandaroon
Dreamers from the Dreamlands walk in the waking world and help to shape and form "reality" as if it were their dreams. Perhaps the many dreamers in the sleeping city of Mandaroon are the ones populate the Daylands....
(Y.Whateley, based on the comments by the witch and her cat in "A Shop in Go-By Street" and "Avenger of Perdóndaris)
Associated Mythos Elements
- location: The Dreamlands
- Fiction: "Idle Days on the Yann (fiction)", "A Shop in Go-By Street (fiction)", and "The Avenger of Perdondaris (fiction)", appearing in Tales of Three Hemispheres, a collection of short stories by Lord Dunsany (archived in ebook format by Project Gutenberg)
- Additional details about the Shop, Shopkeeper, and borderlands of Dream invented by Y.Whateley, inspired by Dunsany's slightly different descriptions of the Shop on Go-By Street in London.