for the Thoat
By Timo Mantere
A man run like hell in the red desert of Barsoom and fling his sword
to the ground. Ahead of the man run a small desert ulsio. After a headlong
run, man throw his sword toward ulsio. It missed by couple of inches. Cursing
out loud, man run and catch up with ulsio. While running, man take his
dagger into his hand. Finally, man dive toward ulsio, at the same moment
ulsio plunge under the desert rock. Man reach the ground head first, his
nose plow the desert sand and his speed finally stopped when his head bumped
against the rock, under which the ulsio escaped.
The red man was Url Web.
What Url Web didn't know was that the ulsio he chased wasn't just any
ulsio. It was ViiSas -- name given to it by other ulsios -- and it let
the man intentionally reach it. ViiSas had formerly been an Earth rat in
the European town Wien. It had died in fire in times of the plague hysteria
among people. After death, ViiSas had awaked in the new, slightly different
body. Somehow it felt the red star in the sky calling it, and soon it found
itself to be in the Barsoomian ground.
After arriving on Barsoom, ViiSas had met ulsios, Barsoomian rats. Later
it marry the most beautiful female ulsio -- KauNis, the princess of desert
ulsios. Later, the father of KauNis died and ViiSas became the jeddak of
ViiSas was amazingly strong ulsio. It could jump tens of foots and run
tens of haads in hour. It was a widely admired and respected ulsio. It
had countless of childrens with countless females, since all female ulsios
wanted to mate with it. And it wasn't too faithful, even though it was
married to the most beautiful ulsio princess of Barsoom.
After living in Barsoom several centuries, it had millions of descendants.
What it wasn't aware of was that ulsio race in Barsoom was getting seriously
degenerated, because of uniformed genes.
ViiSas had fun. It couldn't believe how stupid these Barsoomian red
men were. Its biggest joy was to let poor desert wanderers chase it, while
it run under one rock or the other. Over the years it had seen hundreds
of men dying in hunger, while chasing it. Afterwards, it ate them.
Right now, the mouth of ViiSas watered at sight of the red man. ViiSas
take a new run under the rock. Red man run like crazy behind it. Finally,
red man throw his sword toward ViiSas. It missed again by couple of inches.
ViiSas laughed and dived under the other rock. Man dived toward it and
bumped head-first into the rock under which ViiSas escaped.
Under the rock, ViiSas laughingly thought: "That meal won't last too
A man walk alone in the red desert, under the Barsoomian noon sun. Desert
was hot. Man has walked many days, and it was visibly obvious by his weary
appearance. His skin was copper red, after many days travelling naked under
the hot equatorial sun. He looked almost as red as a red Martian, even
though he was white-skinned man from Jasoom. He was John Carter, Warlord
While walking, John Carter cursed himself. "How could have I ever been
He has lived in Gathol ever since the banishment from Helium. Gahan
of Gathol had given him and his wife asylum. Gatholian people had not been
as keen to take part to the anti-Carter movement as other Barsoomian folk.
Gatholian royal family has no Carters, other than Tara -- wife of their
jeddak, Gahan. Children of Tara and Gahan, seventeen daughters, had moved
to the other cities.
Still, there were some problems. Gatholian people still remember John
Carter's house guest, Elmo, the Jasoomian janitor, and how he had seduced
their ruler's wife and commit adultery with her. Gahan had forgive, and
so has his people. Most of them, at least.
Anyway, John Carter and his wife Dejah Thoris have lived peacefully
in Gathol, until some weeks ago. They heard news of the revolution in Helium.
Friendly messengers have told Carter that his son Carthoris, among other
survivors, are trying to travel into Fluke.
John Carter decide to take his single-seated airship on a trip to the
Fluke to see if his descendants have survived. Dejah Thoris had wanted
to come along, but Carter had managed to convince her not to.
John Carter cursed the hot sun and himself again. "How could have I
ever been so stupid...?" Carter remembered his airship and what kind of
idiot he must be to take a fly with ship carrying Carter colours in it.
If anyone is stupid enough to fly around with Carter colours these days,
he is asking to be shot down. And that was exactly what happened.
Carter cursed the hot desert. What he would give for a good thoat right
now. Almost with that thought, Carter saw a man riding a thoat in the desert.
Man saw Carter as well and directed his thoat towards him.
Carter hoped it would be some of his descendants on the way to the Fluke.
After a while, two men met. Carter didn't recognize the other man. Desert
man was fooled by Carter's sunburnt skin and thought this might be some
red Carter descendant on the way to the Fluke, since desert man knew, there
were plenty of them travelling there these days. Red desert man take his
sword into his hand, prepared to sword fight. He knew it would be major
accomplishment to beat and kill Carter descendant in sword fight, and it
would make him a great warrior among his people.
Desert man said: "Kaor! Who are you and what are doing in these lands?"
Carter thought about his answer for couple of seconds. Would it be wise
to expose his identity, if the man really doesn't recognize him? Carter
looked to his own arm and saw the sunburnt colour. He realize that the
man think him as red Martian, so he answered: "Kaor! I am Dotar Sojat.
I'm on my way to the Fluke. With whom am I talking?"
Desert man didn't need to weigh his answer too long. Every Barsoomian
knew by now that John Carter uses pseudonym Dotar Sojat. Perceptive person
would have marked that some red vanished from the desert man's face before
he answered: "I am Pas Ka...are you trying to tell me that you are John
Carter, the Warlord of Barsoom, on the way to the Fluke?"
John Carter cursed himself once more. He should have realized that after
all these years every one must know his pseudonym. So he answered: "Yes,
I am John Carter, Warlord of Barsoom"
Carter saw man push his sword back into sword-belt. Carter then asked
if man might be a descendant of his. Man denied the slander.
"No, and I don't like them Carters, either," desert man declared.
"Aren't you gonna fight with me then?" Carter asked.
"No, I don't like them Carters, but taking a sword fight with you, I
would be as good as dead already, now wouldn't I?" man answered.
Carter grinned. "Well, yes, I believe so!" said the Warlord.
Carter looked at the man's handsome thoat and wished that he could take
a ride with it. So he asked the man if he would give him a ride into Fluke.
Man answered: "No, I won't fight with you, but I help no Carters either.
I will continue my trip, you do the same. Kaor!" And the man rode away
with his thoat.
Carter looked after the man, and wished that the man would have fight
and Carter could have gained that fine thoat after a honourable kill. On
the other hand, Carter knew it was a wasted hope that anyone would take
a sword fight with him. And even if this man would have fought, Carter
wasn't all so sure that he could have beaten this man. It was over five
hundred years since Carter had last had a sword fight. John Carter's reputation
with a sword was so Barsoom-wide, that no man ever start a sword fight
with him. Carter remembered his last sword fight being ages ago, when the
skeleton men of Jupiter last try to occupy Barsoom.
Ever since, no man allowed Carter to fight with him, even when Helium
was in war and there were many sword fights to be had. As soon as Carter
appeared into field, all the men he tried to approach with a sword escaped
running as fast as they could. And Carter couldn't even run them down these
days. The well-kept secret was that Carter's muscles had weakened after
so long time spent in the weaker gravity of Barsoom. John Carter actually
wasn't stronger than any common Barsoomian red man anymore.
But Carter would still have liked to fight with this man. That way he
could have had that fine thoat. Carter continued his trip, cursing out
loud: "Why the hell no one wants lose their heads anymore?"
Url Web walked alone toward Fluke. He looked like crazy, since he smiled
from ear to ear and sing, even though everyone could see this man was totally
wearied down by a long trip in the desert. But Url Web was happy.
Url Web thought: "So, I caught that damn ulsio and I ate it. It was
the greatest meal I ever had. I wonder why we don't eat those ulsios in
Helium? I will open a ulsio restaurant there, if I ever return. It will
be a big hit, a real gourmet restaurant. No one ever realized before how
good these ulsios taste. Damn, I will open that restaurant somewhere, yap,
that is what I am going to do."
Ei miesta yhta mahtavaa
ei metsastajaa samanlaista
hanta pelkaa kaikki elukat
jo surma oottaa ulsiolaista
mies kaikki ulsiot kiinni saa
ja jo ennen kuin loppuu tyo
ei pakoon paase yksikaan
han kaikki ulsiot suihin syo
nyt herkkua poyta taynna
voi milta ulsio maistuu
eihan parempaa olla voi
siina kostuu miehen suu
What Url Web sang was an old Barsoomian hunting song. Url Web had changed
the words a bit. The song was old, really old. Url Web sang it in suomen,
an ancient Barsoomian language that had died a long time ago. No one speak
it anymore. Url Web had studied the language in the University of Helium.
It was a sort of Barsoomian Latin.
What he sang cannot be correctly translated, but it went something like
No man as mighty
No hunter as great
Every animal fears him
Death waits for ulsio kind
Man will catch all the ulsios
And already before the job is done
Not a single one will get away
All the ulsios he eats into his mouth
Delicious food now fills the table
Oh, how good the ulsios taste
Nothing can taste better
It makes man's mouth water
Url Web walked, singing, until he saw a man riding a thoat in the desert.
Might that be another Carter descendant? he wondered. Man saw him, too.
Soon the two men met. Desert man stopped his thoat and asked: "Kaor! Who
Url Web answered, "Kaor," and asked: " Are you a Carter descendant?"
Desert man answered: "Name is Pas Ka...and no Carter descendant. And
Url Web thought that it might not be too wise to admit being Carter
descendant, but still answered: "Yes, I am Carter descendant, and very
proud of that!"
Pas Ka grinned at his luck; he had just met John Carter himself. That
was too risky an opponent, but now there was poor, desert-weakened Carter
descendant to be-head. A perfect victim for a quick kill. That kill would
make Pas Ka very admired and respected man among his people. So desert
man take his sword into his hand and said: "You won't be proud of that
too long after I cut your head off!" Man step down from his thoat, thinking
it might be easier to kill this poor bastard from the saddle, but man might
harm his valuable thoat.
Url Web saw the handsome thoat and thought that the sword fight is unavoidable.
"Maybe that is the best," he thought. "I can't survive alone by foot in
this desert much longer. And if I win this fight, at least I have a shot
at survival atop that fine thoat."
Desert man approach threateningly and frightful sword fight begin. Url
Web might have looked like burnout man before, but he sure knew how to
fight. Two men swing their swords and try to slash the other. This epic
battle took several minutes, men sweated both sweat and blood. They insulted
each other with unquotable phrases. Finally desert man lost his sight for
a second, when running blood covered his eyesight. That was enough for
Url Web. With one mighty sword stroke to the neck he beheaded the desert
Url Web had a hard time believing that he had won that battle and was
now the proud owner of that handsome thoat. Url Web looked at the thoat,
that carry no bags. The desert man had no food with him.
Url Web looked at the headless body of the man when he cleaned his sword,
and said out loud: "Why the hell they all want to lose their heads?"
Url Web rise to the saddle. Thoat stand silently two seconds, then it
jump to its four hind legs. Url Web fly out from the saddle and onto face
in the red sand of Barsoom.
Small desert ulsio came out from under the desert rock. He had watched
the fight from his hidden place. It was ViiSas. ViiSas had followed the
red man couple of days, filled with fury and hatred, because his lover
IhaNa, a very beautiful young ulsio maid, had been caught and eaten by
this red man, just after their beautiful love making.
ViiSas was disappointed to see this hated man had won the fight, but
then again ViiSas hoped to kill this man himself. It had sworn to see this
man dead. At least there was now plenty of food, it thought, as it watched
the headless body of the other man.
ViiSas looked the hated man lying in the ground, where he landed after
thoat throw him down. Man was motionless. ViiSas wondered if it might be
safe to bite this man already. ViiSas decide it will make a test. ViiSas
run beside the man and bit the man's naked toe.
John Carter had walked a couple of days more. He was even more frustrated.
He talk with himself: "That was a good thoat with that man, why didn't
I kill him, when he had a sword out? That would have been a honourable
kill. I should not have let him back out, damn it!"
Again Carter saw a man riding a thoat in the desert. Is it the same
man? he wondered.
After a while two men met. Carter saw that the man was not the same,
so he yelled, "Kaor! Who are you?"
Man answered: "Kaor! Name is Pil Lu, and you?"
Carter decided to tell his real name this time and asked if the man
is his descendant.
"No, and I don't like them Carters either!" Pil Lu answered.
Carter was unhappy about this answer, but there were still hope. Carter
looked tightly into the mans hands, but man didn't put his hand into his
sword. Carter hoped that man would even accidentally touch his sword, so
he could have a sword fight with this man.
"So, you are John Carter, the Warlord of Barsoom?" Pil Lu asked, hoping
to calm him with friendly conversation. "So what are you doing in the lands
Carter looked over the handsome thoat and answered, "Yes I am. I am
on my way to the Fluke. Might it be possible that you would give me a ride
Pil Lu answered: "No, I help no Carters"
Carter's eyes were now even more tightly directed into man's hands.
Carter hoped that man would even accidentally touch his sword. Carter would
kill him into his spot then, and he could always think of it as an honourable
kill, since man touch the sword first. But not to be, Carter was to be
disappointed once more. Man has no intention to touch his sword.
So after a while, Carter said to man, what a handsome thoat he had.
Pil Lu saw that Carter was badly in need of a thoat, signs of a long desert
were visibly obvious. So man answered: "Yes, isn't it? Would you like
to buy it?"
Carter knew he had no money with him, but new hope arose. Maybe he could
negotiate a deal with the man. So Carter asked what the man would want
for a thoat.
Man answered, "A kingdom for the thoat, how would that sound to you..?"
Carter thought that the man is joking with him of course. He hoped even
harder that man would touch his sword. Carter try read man's mind to find
even the slightest reason to kill him.
Pil Lu continued, "But I suppose you don't have much in the way of kingdoms
these days, warlord, now do you?"
That's it, Carter thought -- man was obviously needling to me, now isn't
that reason enough to honourably kill him? I should kill him, I could always
think of it as an honourable kill, because he start the slander.
But Carter was honourable man, a Virginian gentleman, he was still not
ready to kill this man, not without a fight challenge. If the man could
only touch his sword! So, Carter answered: "No, not too many kingdoms these
days. But I think you are joking with me. Is that a fight challenge? I
am ready to have a sword fight with you!"
Carter was to be disappointed when man answered: "No, to sword fight
with you, I would be as good as dead, now wouldn't I?"
Man think for few moments, gazing at fine beast. "It is a shame that
you don't have kingdoms these days," he say to Carter. "This fine thoat
could have been yours. You go your way, I go mine. Kaor!" And the man rode
away with his fine thoat.
Carter looked after the man, cursing."I should have killed him right
away, when he joked with me...Why the hell must I be so right-minded? That
would have been reason enough to make it an honourable kill...That was
a fine thoat, damn it! Why the hell didn't he fight with me?"
So he had no other choice than continue his lone walk towards Fluke,
cursing out loud. "Why the hell no-one wants to lose their heads anymore?"
A lone man rode a thoat in the desert, man looked like crazy. He was
singing and smiling from ear to ear, even though he looked like hell. He
was Url Web, who was thrilled to finally ride this thoat. After it had
throw him head first into the ground seven times, his face was all swollen
and scarred. And when he kick his thoat to get more speed, he scream for
pain. For some reason, his toes were in really bad shape and hurting. He
didn't know why. But still, he was singing from joy.
ei ratsastajaa samanlaista
ei miesta yhta uljasta
sita joka thoatti kunnioittaa
ei hampaitaan paljasta
mies thoattia kun ohjastaa
thoatti miehen kauas vie
ihanaa thoatin matkavauhtia
aina sinne mihin matka lie
ja jos thoatti ei oo kunnolla
mies sita miekalla lyo
ja jos se viela vikuroi
mies sen suihin syo
Again, Url Web sang another old Barsoomian traveling song, using the
dead suomen language. Again, no one can translate it correctly. But it
went something like this:
No rider as great
No man as brave
Every thoat respects him
Doesn't show its teeth
When the man steers his thoat
Thoat takes the man far away
That fabulous thoat speed of travel
Wherever the destination may lay
And if the thoat doesn't behave
Man will hit it with his sword
And if it still doesn't obey
Man will eat it into his mouth
Soon Url Web saw a red man riding a thoat in the desert. Would this
be another Carter descendant? Man saw Url Web, and soon the two men met.
Url Web said: "Kaor! Who might you be?"
Red man answered: "Kaor! Name is Pil Lu, and you?"
Url Web answered his name and ask if the man is Carter descendant. Man
answered no and ask the same question from Url, and as Url admitted the
fact, man laughed and said: "You won't be too long, you see, I don't like
them Carters and I cut their heads off!"
Man took his sword out.
Url Web asked, "So, how many Carter heads you have collected?"
Pil Lu answered, "I have lost count. But just recently I met John Carter
himself, and if he wouldn't had escaped by running so fast, thanks to his
Jasoomian muscles, his head would be in my collection now too!"
Pil Lu was actually bragging coward, who had recognised Carter, when
met him. That's why he didn't brag too much to John Carter. But this here
poor bastard Carter descendant was another matter.
"Nah, you haven't met John Carter!" Url Web answered.
Man said, "And how are you supposed to know I didn't?"
Url Web answered, "Well, you still have your head above your neck, haven't
you? So obviously you haven't met John Carter!"
Pil Lu simply said, "Well, your head won't be above your neck much longer!"
He rode his thoat with his sword pointed ahead, like in medieval tournament.
Url Web start a low ride towards the man also. This fight, unlike the earlier
one, wasn't too long. When Pil Lu reach Url Web, Url parry, and with one
well-directed lash he decapitated the man.
Url Web looked at the headless body of a man in the sand and said out
loud: "Why the hell, they all want to lose their heads?"
Url Web wondered if he should eat the other thoat now that he had two
of them, and not much to eat. This rider also has no food with him, which
suggested that there must be city nearby, from where these riders came
from. While considering this, Url Web saw footprints in the sand. Obviously
a red man, he thought, too small of a prints to be green Martian.
Url Web decided to follow these footprints, since it might be another
Carter descendant on the way to the Fluke. Url Web was lost and by now
he didn't know where the Fluke may lie, so he might as well follow these
footprints. And so Url Web continued his trip towards Fluke.
Small desert ulsio sat on the desert rock, looking behind the red man
and two thoats. It was ViiSas. ViiSas was disappointed to see this hated
meal escape. With two thoats, this food will surely get away. ViiSas was
also sad and furious, because the death of his lover IhaNa, a very beautiful
young ulsio maid, was still left unpunished. Then he looked at the headless
body, which the object of his hate left behind. There was plenty of delicious
ViiSas take one last look after the red man before starting to eat.
It swore that it will follow the man's path and saw that he will die somehow.
Copyright 1997 by Timo Mantere
You can e-mail the author at a70752@UWasa.Fi