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Volume 1721a

Jahlanna of Pellucidar
A 115,000-word novel
by
Sean Edward Phillips

.
Part II

      Soon all the preparations were made, and Clive, Tarok, Jahlanna, Simmons and Jal-Mar began their expedition to Sari. Jahlanna bade her father fondly farewell, throwing her slender arms about his neck and kissing him. Simmons had gathered what scientific equipment he believed that he would need during the journey. No one in village gave much thorough to the idea of a mahar invasion of the surface world. And why should they? It was not their world, not their problem. He was not certain he took the Mahar’s warning of the surface invasion that seriously himself. But still….

    Somehow the Mahar’s words made him want to reach Sari as soon as possible. Did Sari even exist? Since the rest of the Tarzan writer’s—what was his name, Burroughs?--fantastic tale of inner world had proven correct, it stood to reason that it did, and was exactly as Burroughs had described. But what of the warnings that other of the winged reptiles had been alerted by the captive creature? Could the beast’s fellows waylay them on their journey? Chief Zog took the possibility that there could an attack on his people by Mahar refugees seriously, and stationed warriors around the village armed with both spears and the purloined mind-crystals. But it was might occur on their journey which worried Clive the most. The thought that their journey would be monitored every step of the way did not go easy on his mind.

    Before they left Clive wondered about Jarn. He half-expected the boy to start pestering them about allowing him to go along. Since none of them had seen or heard nothing of the boy since, he figured perhaps Jahlanna’s "gift" to the youngster had been sufficient for him. But there was still the possibility that the kid was secretly preparing to sneak off after they left. Jarn was always finding a way to sneak off adventuring instead of doing his chores, Tarok had said. Clive hadn’t given much thought to the boy until they at last departed Nu-al, and set out on the first stage of their journey.

    When he mentioned it to Tarok, the warrior replied, “I do not know if the lad will follow us. But I also do not put it past him. Be prepared if he turns up.”

   Clive glanced back in the direction of Nu-al. A few of the warriors and women were still standing inside the entrance waving them farewell. Seeing this, Clive gave a final wave. He could see no sign of anyone following them, but Jarn, if he was intent on following them, would undoubtedly wait until things had quieted down. Then he would sneak out, possibly by the other entrance, or by stealing over the wall.

    Soon the vast, Pellucidaran wilderness swallowed Clive and his companions up. They traveled due east, through a mile of sparse forestland, which gradually merged into a rolling grassland dotted with groves of park like trees which bore a luscious grapelike fruit. Everywhere, the country teemed with wildlife. There were herd of deer, antelope and shaggy wild goat, plus huge burly aurochs and great shaggy bison with sweeping fourteen-foot horns. There were vast herds of horned runiments which looked like antelope but weren’t, other herds of humpless, giraffe-necked camels, and strange camel-like lipoterns with short trunks. There were strange horse-like herbivores with sloping shoulders which walked in an almost gorilla-like manner, and which sported massive claws in their feet. There were gigantic hornless rhinos which browsed placidly on the groves of trees. And most dangerous were gigantic pig-like beasts as huge as oxen. These latter were very temperamental and very aggressive both with one another, and with other beasts, including the humans and Baraboo. They often saw the males among these creatures engaged in territorial combat, their thunderous squeals rending the air violently.  The companions had to split up and take to the trees to avoid the charge of one of these mighty boar-like beasts on one occasion. Preying upon the vast assortment of herbivora were bears, bear-dogs, large cats, hyenodons, hyenas, not to mention the huge and deadly creodonts and condylarths. Once, a monstrous tarap attacked, not unlike Clive had saved Jahlanna from when he had first met her. This time they took to the trees once more, for flight is always the best strategy whenever there is a survival choice, and they always traveled in close proximity to the trees while they journeyed, a strategy they had learned within this land of ferocious beasts. Clive and Jahlanna were seated together on a great sturdy branch, the girl’s slim arms thrust about him, while the beast raged and roared below. Larger than a bull pachyderm was the huge carnivorous mammal, but small brained and relatively slow.

    “Ohhhh.” Jahlanna breathed, her lovely eyes wide. “We nearly made a meal for him. I am so glad you are with me, my mate.”

     “Good thing for us that he cannot climb. Soon he will leave us.”

   The beast soon did leave in pursuit of other easier prey, and they resumed their journey. In addition to the huge tarags and ta-hos, and enormous leopards and panthers, there too were gigantic cheetahs, shaggy-coated, and as fleet and long of limb as their surface counterparts on the plains of Africa. But these were fully the size of the lions of the surface. Once, they spied one of these giant cats bring down its kill, one of the species of large wild goats that roamed the savannah. The surface man had never before witnessed, not imagined such a furious charge as this predatory beast exhibited, and he was uncertain if even a bullet would be sufficient to stop such a beast in time. They made certain to avoid the great cheetahs as best they could, but he kept his pistol ready, in case such a need arose.

     Clive also kept his eyes warily aloft for any sign of flying reptiles. Of course, there were large numbers of them. He saw the winged shapes of the gigantic thipdars on many occasion, wheeling above the teeming herds in search of some sick or weak heard member to pounce upon. And there were of course the smaller scavenging reptiles, and the smaller diminutive pterosaurs of many species that flitted amongst the trees. But so far he saw nothing that seemed to be a Mahar. They had to remain vigilant at all times in regard to the species of voracious carnivora which infested the land all around them, so it was unlike that any Mahars attempting to survey them would go undetected.

     Before their next “sleep”, and shortly following the incident with the tarap, they made camp within a welcoming copse of trees in the vicinity of a huge forest. The flora in this particular region was less deciduous than it had been, and trees of the Mesozoic type were beginning to predominate over the others. There a number of tree-ferns, and a few Jurassic conifers, pus a smattering of clubmosses. The groundcover was blanketed by huge drooping fronded ferns. Simmons and Jal-Mar had built a fire, while Clive and Tarok went on a brief hunting excursion. They ventured a short distance into the fern-forest, where they soon discovered that the terrain itself was shading into the Age of Saurians in this region; the numbers of diminutive pterosaur species had increased. The air was also thick with huge mosquitoes and gnats, and once they saw a huge dragonfly with a thrumming set of  transparent wings an arm span in length. They brought down a smallish mammal that resembled a dwarf tapir crossed with a cat. When they brought. their kill back to camp, Professor Simmons identified the slain beast as a phenachodus of the Eocene, one of the first truly herbivorous mammals. Once they had roasted it and sampled the flesh, (Alistair was able to cut thin slices for the sides of the carcass with on of his knives) they found that it tasted curiously porklike.

    While they were making the most of the phenocodus meat, the sound of something crashing through the ferns reached their hearing.

      Their eyes glanced collectively to the screen of jungle ferns in back of them. It was still far off but coming closer. “It’s Jarn.” said Tarok. “I knew the brat would follow us sooner or later.”

     “If it is the boy,” opined Jal-Mar, “Let him come. The smell of our meat cooking probably summoned him. There is enough of this carcass left for him to share it.”
     “I do not think it is him.” said Jahlanna. “Listen! Tarok, you a warrior. Can you not tell that is no boy?”

     There was a bit of a taunt in the girl’s voice, and Tarok blushed slightly, even as he scowled at the impudent female to silence her.

    But Jahlanna was right. As the sounds drew nearer, it was evident they were made by something large and massive striding swiftly through the ferns and creepers, snapping branches and crushing sapling as it came.

    All the company sprang up and edged back, Jahlanna clinging to her mate, while the tree warriors seized up their weapons.

    Clive nearly gasped aloud. The face that emerged from the nodding ferns into their camp was surely the most bizarre and grotesque he had ever seen within Pellucidar. It indubitably belonged to some strange reptilian species, though one Clive was not remotely familiar with. The thing was covered in a pebbly, gray-green hide. It had tiny, piggish eyes set in a short, bulldog-like face. There was a short blunt stub of a horn of the creature’s nose. A bristling assortment of fangs and tusks curved in both upward and downward directions from the toothy jaws. A multiplicity of grotesque, boney protrusions sprouted both form the top of the skull, and from either side of the brutish visage. From their view of it, the intruder appeared to be massively slope-shouldered, with thick columular legs in front and a short stubby pair in the rear. Whatever the beast was, it was almost obviously a carnivore, and had been drawn by the scent of their roasted kill. Though none among their number recognized the beast by the name estomemmosuchus or “crowned crocodile”—a title surface world paleontologists would confer upon it on its discovery in Russia in the year 1968.

     Clive backed up, facing the monstrosity, spear aimed and ready. As he did so, he felt the girl relax her grip on him.

      Jahlanna gave a short, almost derisive laugh. Clive looked at her in astonishment, though his spear remained trained on the beast. Then he noticed that the two men had backed up further, but were relaxing their spears.

    “Do not fear, my mate.” Jahlanna told him. “It is merely a gorthak. He is harmless. He was drawn by the our cooking.”

     “Harmless!” he replied. “That thing? I think we had at least better abandon the rest of our kill, if we don’t want to fight him for it.”

    “There is no need.” The girl said. “I will show you.” She took a slender stick from the firewood and ran forward, whipping it around in front to the huge beast. “Eeeee-yah!”

     The beast snorted, then turned away, to lumber massively back among the fern-forest form whence it had been summoned, as though a mere human female with a flimsy twig were too much for it to bother with.

    “You see?” Jahlanna announced pertly. “Gorthaks are cowardly beasts. They do not even eat flesh. They will sometimes scavenge kills, but they mostly prefer roots and fruit.”

     Clive looked at the two warriors who were now both grinning at him as though he were the biggest fool in Pellucidar.

     “I see you had not encountered a gorthak before, eh, friend Clive?” Tarok said.

     “I admit I had not.” Clive answered. “But I sure figured that fellow for a carnivore with those teeth and all.”

      “I am not certain of the species.” Simmons said.” But I believe that our uninvited guest to be a member of the order therapsida of the Lower Triassic.”

     “What?” Clive asked, confused as he always was by the professors scientific nomenclature.

       “A member of the order of therapsids. They’re more commonly known as “mammal-like reptiles”, because they share characteristics of both orders. A number of species do bear the appearance of ferocious flesh-eaters, but reality were quite the opposite; very docile creatures content to forage on vegetation.”

      “So our friend never intended making a meal of us? He certainly fooled me.”

     “However, a number of the therapsids were deadly hunters, and every bit as baleful as they looked. And since this region may well have a pre-Mesozoic ecosystem, I suggest we be wary that those woods may harbor other beasts that are far less docile than the gorthak.”

    The professors words of warning caused the men to instinctively tighten their grips on their spears. Clive cast a furtive glance around at the trees before they resumed their meal.

     Clive and Jahlanna constructed a lean-to of giant fern-fronds on one side of their camp. This, they explained to the others (as though they needed to) was so they could sleep together away from the others. Sleep and mate that was—but mostly mate. The surface man had known other women in the world he had left behind. But the savage thrusting of the primordial girl’s powerful hips and buttocks brought him to regions of pleasure beyond bliss.

     During Tarak’s watch, the young warrior could not help but hear the sounds of Clive and Jahlanna’s mating exertions as he sat hunched by the fire gripping his spear. All at once, the warrior felt all his resentment for the red-haired outlander flooding back. He and Clive had battled the foes of his people side by side together, and the bitter rivalry between them had seemed to have dissipated. During their journey, Tarok had felt more and more as though he and Clive were comrades rather than adversaries. And in a land teaming with dangerous foes, he knew, they could not afford to quarrel among themselves.. Only now he realized how much he still desired Jahlanna for himself. Once again his mind seethed with anger bordering on hatred for the red-hair. Once again he pictured Clive as an outlander, and stranger from some unknown tribe, and a bitter rival for the girl’s affections. And Clive was an outlander, he realized to himself. Not only was he not of the Nu-al, but he did not even look like any of the tribes with which he was familiar, all of whom were black haired, with rumors of some fairer, blond-haired tribes further to the north.

     All at once, Tarok felt outraged and cheated. How dare the chief of their tribe allow his daughter to mate with a total stranger to the people, while he, a loyal warrior and every inch a Nu-al, was denied her? That was the real danger with having a girl along on a warrior’s quest, he realized, and had been all along. With an object of desire in their midst, he and Clive could easily fall to quarreling with each other and place the survival of all of them in jeopardy. With some effort, Tarok managed to choke down some of his rage. He knew there were some men, even among the Nu-al, who would have simply brained Clive in his sleep, then forcefully abducted the princess and fled. But not Tarok. Such an action was far too cowardly for his own tastes, let alone what his fellow tribesmen would say is word ever got back to Nu-al. But even more importantly, he wished the girl to give herself to him willingly. Clive and himself had proven their friendship, and they must remain comrades, at least for as long as their situation demanded it. But there must be some way he could find to turn the tables on Clive, and prove to the girl that he was the worthier of the two of them. He just had to bide his time. And only time would tell……

    Following a restful sleep (during which each man took turns watching), they resumed their journey toward Sari. They remembered to keep close to the edge of the forests in case they needed to scale the trees to escape the numerous carnivores which swarmed over the land. The herds of grass eaters were still chiefly mammalian, as were their primary predators, though species of reptilian life had grown more numerous. The vegetation, too consisted of more Mesozoic flora, with the great arboraceous ferns crowding in among the more deciduous trees.

     When the time came to again make camp, after what would have been roughly a days journey on the outer crust, Jahlanna announced to the men her intention to bathe herself. The men had just brought down one of the camel-like grazers and were engaged in skinning the carcass.

         “I think I’ll go wash off if you don’t mind.”

         Clive looked up in alarm. “If you’re going to bathe, don’t wonder off far.”

         “I don’t have to wonder far,” Jahlanna said, fixing him with a look of feminine pertness.  “There’s a stream just through those trees.”

       Clive remembered the stream. “It’s still too distant. Perhaps one of us should go with you.”

       “I’m a grown girl, and I can take care of myself.” Jahlanna answered pertly. “Besides,” she added, raising her chin. “Jahlanna is a princess. None would dare to lay his hands upon her.”

      Clive said, “What about the times Blorg abducted you? He didn’t seem to care one wit you were the chief’s daughter. I rather think that was what made him consider you a prize. And there’s no telling what manner of men there are around here.”

     “That was different.”

    “Why?”

     “Jahlanna had not yet chosen a mate. And…it just is.”

      The girl removed her bra and the loincloth which encircled her hips, which were both made of tanned animal leather, as though they were more bothersome than useful, and she preferred simply being naked, as she undoubtedly did. And if her nakedness turned men’s minds to mush, so much the better. The haughty princess sauntered off without the slightest twinge of embarrassment, the weight of her magnificent behind shifting extravagantly.

      “She’s…….. quite a gal”. Professor Simmons commented, as he watched her go. The older man was blushing slightly.

      “She certainly is.” Clive agreed.


     Jahlanna sauntered in the direction of the stream.

     But unbeknownst to the Nu-al princess, the lithe young girl was at this very moment under intense observation.

     Hidden by the screen of leaves facing the jungle stream, a pair of lustful eyes gazed at her abundance of curved and girlflesh. Those eyes were dark and beady, set into a bestial face that was merely semi-human. Pendulous lips writhed back over a set of massive fangs; had Jahlanna seen her unseen admirer, she might well have screamed in girlish terror. The watcher had been prowling these coastal forests in hopes of capturing some young tribal beauties, and had chanced upon this one. He had been examining Jahlanna for some time now, as the girl made her way to the stream and waded in. He had not expected to come upon such a prize so distant from one of the gilak villages. But here was a radiant primeval beauty, his for the taking. He had first noticed the girl as she had sauntered down the jungle trail. She was naked, and large-hipped, even for a gilak she. But then he saw the girl’s beauty, and it was even more stunning.  She was a magnificent specimen of feminine beauty, truly a gorgeous women.. Her her breasts were small, but firm and ripe with late-pubescent plumpness, capped with nipples of soft pink. Her shoulders were dainty and delicate, their points softly rounded and rosy. He saw that her face was stunningly gorgeous, enough to be the envy of a jungle goddess, with almond-shaped eyes of an enchanting blue-violet, fringed with dark lashes, and framed by delicately arched eye-brows set in a delicate child-like face with high-cheekbones, and full-lipped mouth which appeared alluringly kissable, causing his breast to flame with hot canal passion and wanton desire.

      But he dared not betray his presence to her—yet. A girl this far out in the savage wilderness would probably have her have her men folk with her—perhaps a party of well-armed warriors. He had to be certain they were not around before he abducted her. But he would abduct her—and take her for himself if he could. He knew well, of course, that the girl was sure to be startled and frightened at his appearance—but he was certain he would prove a mate she would respect, and in time, even a desirable one.

      Once she found the stream, she waded in, and laved water all over herself, cleansing her body of the dust and grime of the miles they had traveled.

       Part of her wished she remained home in the village with her friends. Already she missed her dear father, and her friends. Often she had dreamed of exploring the lands beyond Nu-al, and always with a strong mate to protect her from the ferocious beasts and lustful men. Now at last, that time had come. The one thing she had not really she hadn’t really given though to was the dust and sweat of the journey, and that was one thing that just wasn’t right for a princess such as herself. But she was exhilarated by the journey as well.  She was by Clive’s side most of the time, and he was always there to protect her, just she had often dreamed. By now they were well into regions had were unfamiliar to her, and even to most of the warriors of her tribe. She thought of her life back in Nu-al, and the village girls who were her friends, Lene, and Mara, and the rest. She got along well with her friends she realized, but at the same time, Jahlanna knew that there were those among the village girls who secretly hated her. They never spoke of it, but she could see it on their faces and in their mannerisms. All the other young women were friendly with her on the surface, but there were some who might have told some man where to find her in to abduct her from the village, just to be rid of her. Not that she suspected that that had ever actually happened. Blorg, she was certain, had found her on his own.  But even among her own circle of friends, there was an undeniable resentment of her simmering just below the surface. She had a feeling that perhaps even Kara might betray her if given the proper motive and situation. Mara, Jahlanna suspected would sob and carry on if her betrayal was ever found out, but it would serve her right. But, of course, no one had betrayed her…she thought.

     Of course, it was only natural, even proper, that she, as the tribal princess and the center of attention, should inspire jealousy in her rivals. If she did not, it would mean that she was not quite as beautiful and desirable as she was meant to be.  Jahlanna and her girlfriends often gossiped and bantered about the young warriors of her tribe, and which of the tribal boys was the most likely to have a crush on whom. They would gossip about other girls too, of course, about how a certain girl’s hair was never fixed quite right, or how someone’s necklace or bra just didn’t match. And Jahlanna knew that the other girls gossiped about her—possibly most of all. She had actually overheard some of what was said only once—they had said she was so stuck up and full of herself. Those memories, and their resentment of her, made Jahlanna partly glad she had left village life and the other girls’ jealousy far behind her. Let them gossip about her all they wanted. She now had a mate and a whole new life for herself. And a whole new world lay before her.

          Then she thought of Tarok. The man had not spoken to her directly at all during their entire journey. But that hardly meant that he no longer desired. In fact, Jahlanna was certain, the opposite was the case. She had caught him glancing her way occasionally, even though he was doing his bet to feign indifference. Tarok still desired her, and she could at times almost feel the tension lurking just beneath the warriors hard exterior, especially whenever she and Clive were together. And, in spite of the fact that she now loved Clive, she still had some feelings for Tarok. He was certainly among the bravest warriors of her father’s tribe, and Jahlanna often found herself wondering what it would have been like if she had chosen Tarok as her mate instead of Clive. Her father would have approved, she was certain of that. Sometimes she even caught herself imagining herself in Tarok’s arms, but quickly brushed the fancy away for sake of loyalty to her mate. Would she actually be happier with Tarok than Clive? Much as she might have enjoyed Tarok, it was Clive whom she had chosen and him whom she truly loved.

          Jahlanna finished bathing, then began fixing her hair properly, making certain all of it was in place as she wanted.

          Suddenly, she heard a noise. She whirled abruptly in direction of the screen of foliage to her back, her lovely, almond eyes searching. A slight breeze ruffled the screen of leaves lightly.

    Memories of her abduction by the Mulag chief came surging back, and all of sudden, the girl was afraid. Was someone lurking there? Surely not. But it had been a time like this that she had been abducted before. Jahlanna cautiously made her way up the back and peer through the branches. There was no one.

   Relieved, the girl began making her way leisurely back to where the men were making camp.

      Jahlanna stopped dead in her tracks, and through a hand over her mouth, stifling a scream.

      Directly in the path in front of the terrified girl, crouched in a sprawled a huge beast of prey.  The monster was like nothing she had before seen, like a giant otter somehow crammed into the body of a giant crocodilian. It somewhat resembled a sithic, one of the monstrous amphibians which infested the coastal swamps. But this thing was obviously some kind of mammalian predator that had somehow adapted to a semi-aquatic condition. It had a lizard-like body with four sprawling webbed-clawed legs, after the manner of an alligator or crocodile. It possessed a long lashing tail, and heavy jaws which gaped open to reveal a savage array of predatory teeth. But the great body was clothed in a sleek coat of brown, otter-like fur, the sort of pelt that contained water-proofing. The teeth were of uneven sizes, unlike those of the reptilian. And the elongated, alligator-like snout was whiskered, again after the manner of an otter.

     With a thrill of horror, Jahlanna realized what the beast was. It was known as a zorag, a predator which infested the rivers and lakes of Pellucidar. She herself had never encountered one until now, but she had heard tales of the beasts told by the warriors of her tribe. One had become accidentally snagged by a fish trap set by her people, and even trapped as it was, the monster and fought ferociously, and it had taken six warriors to finally surround the beast and kill it. Zorags commonly fed upon fish and other aquatic prey, but were very partial to land prey as well. A paleo-scientist of the late 20th century would have recognized the beast as the ambulocetus of the Eocene, the long-extinct predecessor of modern whales, whose fossilized surface remains were, as these events  unfolded, as yet buried and undiscovered beneath the shifting sands of the Near East.

     Jahlanna only knew it as a zorag, and threat to her own existence.

    The girl turned on her heels and ran. The zorag lumbered after her in reptilian fashion, jaws agape to hungrily emit a low hiss. Jahlanna ran swiftly, her mane of luxuriant, shining black hair tossing against her slim shoulders and back. For a voluptuous princess, she was an accomplished runner, her long shapely legs and well-muscled thighs carrying her. The monster was possessed of a swiftness that was hideous for a beast of its size and bulk, and it steadily closed in on the fleeing girl!

    Jahlanna soon cleared the trees and found herself once again facing the running stream. The beast, she realized seemed to have forced her here with some beastlike cunning. For there was no escape to be made in the water; this monster would be as at home in the river as on land. She glanced over her shoulder to see the thing closing in. It had slowed its pace, and she realized, had not been pursuing with its full amount of speed to begin with. It knew it had its prey trapped, as the girl was between it and the river. Soon it would overtake her, and it seemed to be savoring its immediate triumph, the ghastly grinning jaws seeming to smile in anticipatory glee at the voluptuous girl-flesh to would soon rend and gulp down.  Jahlanna imagined those mighty jaws snapping her up, saw herself being shaken like the small prey-animal she was to this beast.

    She fled down the bank parallel to the river with the grace of an antelope. The zorag scuttled after her with a renewed burst of lizardish speed. It was as if the notion that its prey might escape after all had managed to penetrate its small, but apparently cunning brain, and it was determined to kill and have down with.

      Jahlanna raced on. She glanced at the trees, realizing that scaling one might be her one and only chance. But she had never been much for tree-climbing, having always assumed that was a boy-thing and beneath her as a princess, and it would difficult to manage for a girl built like herself anyway.  When they had been forced to seek shelter in the trees during their journey, that men had had to assist her. She selected a large tree nonetheless, and swerved for it. The monster, undoubtedly was capable of rearing on its hind limbs, and could probably pluck her up with its jaws before she could reach a safe branch.

       A mighty roar came from the zorag.  Jahlanna glanced back in horror—and she screamed!

      The princess knew then she would never reach the tree in time. The beast would have her in the next instant.

     Jahlanna collapsed to the spongy turf, thrusting a slim white arm out in a feeble gesture of defense as the Zorag gave a final mighty lunge jaws gaping to capture the helpless girl.

        And suddenly, with an unexpected screech of rage and pain the beast was thrown to one side. The zorag was now thrashing wildly about, and Jahlanna lowered her arm meekly to gaze at the mighty struggle that had ensued before the girl’s dazed vision, daring to hope that Clive, or perhaps Tarok, had heard her screams and come to her rescue, as they surely would have if the men were in hearing distance.

    She saw immediately that someone—or rather something – had leapt to her rescue, for a warrior had driven his spear deep into the zorag’s spinal column, and was now clutching the shaft as the madden beat twisted savagely in an effort to dislodge its clinging rider. But the warrior was not Clive, Jal-mar, or Tarok. It did not appear, at first, to be human. The unknown warrior appeared to be some of some race of ape-man. She could see that he was built after the manner of humanity, but with a more massive chest, and thick muscular arms of extraordinary length. All of him was clothed in a thick, shaggy coat of glossy blue-black fur that shone as the figure was tossed by the still-thrashing proto-whale. But though the monster’s struggles were mighty, and it kept snapping its gigantic maw in a vain attempt to rip loose its tormentor, the warrior managed to use the beast’s struggles against it, and to drive his spear ever deeper.

    At last, the struggles of the proto-cetacean’s struggles evaporated, and the beast sank to the sandy bank of the river, gore flooding through its open jaws to stain the whitish sand a rich crimson. The warrior tore free his spear, and leapt to the ground. As though to make certain the beast was finally finished, he plunged his spear into the base of the creature’s skull, then thrust it out, disgorging a feeble spout of blood.

     Jahlanna looked upon him in wonder. He was indeed not a man. She saw now that he was sagoth, one of the savage race of gorilla-men that served the Mahars. He was a well built and imposing specimen of his race, well over six feet tall, with broad massive shoulders, and a very ferocious visage. He had the heavy brow-ridge, small, squinty eyes, chinless face, and mighty ape-like fangs as did all his kind. His small eyes glinted redly at her, and Jahlanna saw that a long scar marred his already frightful visage, transforming it into a thing of horror.

     The girl gave a small short cry of fright as he regarded her, his eyes glowering upon the nude girl with what looked to Jahlanna like hatred, though she realized that faces of the gorilla-men always appeared terrible to gilaks, and that they did not use the same emotional expressions as did humans.  How was he glaring at her, then? With curiosity? Lust? He had just risked his own life in rescuing her from the zorag. A human male who had done that would almost certainly have done so in order to claim her for his own. But Jahlanna did not know whether a sagoth would or not. She knew that sagoths often served as slavers to the Mahars. The sagoth race, she remembered her tribal elder telling her as a small girl, had not been native to this portion of Pellucidar, until a generation ago, when the Mahars had come, and brought some of their followers along with them.  Perhaps that was why this sagoth had saved her—he intended to capture her for the Mahars. Perhaps the mahars had another city nearby, or perhaps this was proof that their journey was under surveillance by the winged sentient reptiles. Whatever the reason, Jahlanna did not care to find out.

     Akwardly, the shaken girl rose to her feet. “No—stay back!”

     The sagoth scowled at the girl, a low rumble filling his throat. Then he said. “Do not be frightened, girl. I saved you from the zorag. You owe me your life. You must come with me.”

      Jahlanna felt somewhat relieved to hear the beast-man speak. The sagoth’s voice was harsh and guttural, but it was clear that he meant her no harm—at least for the moment.

     “Wh-who are you?” the girl trembled.

     The sagoth barred his fangs in a ghastly parody of a human grin. “My name is Mogor. I am in the service of The Cid, the chief of the Korsars. We are on a raiding party, and I was ordered by the Cid to bring any beautiful women I find to him for his harem back in the city of Korsar. I have found you. But Mogor sees that you are a most comely she. Perhaps you would favor him by becoming his mate instead. I would enjoy that better. Then we will leave here for my own country, you and I.”

    “What?” Jahlanna had heard vague stories regarding the Korsars—they were supposedly fierce human raiders who traveled in the bellies of great wooden beasts upon the breadth of the great sea of Korsar Az, which lay some leagues distant from her homeland. But she had never heard that there were any sagoths among them. Having recovered from her shock, Jahlanna was suddenly angry and full of pride for this beast-man speaking to her in such a manner, even if he had just saved her life.

    “I am Jahlanna, Princess of Nu-al.” she told him. “I have a mate, and I will be no part of anyone’s harem. Such as you shall not speak me in the manner you have.”

     “If you will not submit to me willingly,” Mogor said, “Then I will take you by force. You will soon learn, my comely she, that I shall speak to you however I choose. Nu-al is a long march from here, girl. What, may I ask, is a “princess” doing so far from her homeland?”

     “I have come here with my mate. He is a mighty warrior, as you will soon see if you try to take me. Jahlanna’s mate will save her, and make you wish you were ever born!”

      “You will soon regret those words!” Mogor snarled, as he rushed forward. He proved dreadfully swift for his bulk, and seized the girl up in his fur-covered arms in a flash, as though she weighed no more than a child. In a frenzy of terror and outrage, the nude girl kicked and struggled, shrieking in feminine fury, and hammering her dainty fists against the beast-man’s flat nose. Her blows had virtually no effect. Mogor merely blinked a number of times beneath her fury.

     “Ah!” he chortled. “So you have spirit, girl! But you are no match for Mogor. You might as well calm yourself, for you are going to stay Mogor’s prisoner.”

    “No!” the outraged girl shrieked, as she continued to batter his simian face ineffectually. She began assaulting him verbally, letting him know how low he was in her opinion. Mogor only chortled at her—then gave vent to a roar of pain and fury!

    For the princess had managed to drive one of her slender sharp nails into the corner of his right eye. The pain stabbed through the beast-man’s brain, sharp and excruciating. Mogor reeled back clutching at his face, allowing the girl to squirm free.

    “Come back!” he roared, though his eye still stung terribly.

     But Jahlanna had already gained her feet, and was running, as swiftly as she could along the back of the river.

     Mogor, raging with fury, gave chase. The girl was swift, but the beast-man was swifter. She could not hope to outdistance him for long.

      Jahlanna swerved away from the river, hoping to loose her purser within the tees. The forest soon swallowed her up. Heavy ferns slapped her thighs and breasts as she ran.  Then she burst abruptly and unexpectedly into a small clearing.

     The girl’s pretty almond eyes flew wide, her pert mouth shaping itself into the letter “O” at the sight that greeted her. A scream burst from her lips.

    The clearing was filled with a throng of burly men. All of them were dressed in a colorful, motley assortment of colored garments. They were hawk-faced, of swarthy skin, and most sported thick, bushy beards of bluish black.  Their small beady eyes were all fixed upon her. They were of all different builds and sizes. Some were sort and squat, others thin and scrawny. Most were of medium height, and well-muscled. The one who seemed to be their leader was imposingly tall and broad-shouldered. He had an enormous bushy red-beard, and small but fiercely glittering eyes of sharp blue, which glowered down at the nude girl in an intimidating manner. A huge cutlass of burnished steel hung at his hip, and upon his husky right shoulder there preened and squawked a clawed and crested reptile-bird of the species Archeopteryx.

     All of these uncouth and loutish brigands were staring at her nakedness—and hips-- with a mixture of undisguised lust and amusement.

     Jahlanna had never seen men of this sort in all her life, but she felt certain upon first sight that these must be the Korsars Mogor had spoken of. And the large man had to be their leader.

    In the next instant, the sagoth burst form the ferns behind her and seized her up once again. “I will teach you to defy Mogor!”

   The girl kicked and flailed at her captor.

    “Stop that!” the broad-shouldered man ordered.

    Mogor gripped the girl by her arms in a grip that restrained her struggles.

    “If I didn’t know better, Mogor.” the man said. “I would have thought hat you intended to take this girl for yourself.” He cocked a bushy eyebrow at his bestial servant. You wouldn’t have thoughts about doing that would you?”

    For a second, Mogor appeared to glower at his superior. “No, my liege.” he acquiesced finally.” I only sought to capture her for your pleasure. Forgive me if I was a little rough with this spirited lass. She insulted your highness terribly, and I merely sought to reprimand her.”

    The leader again coked his eye brow, as though in amusement. “Did she now? Well, now she has all the time in the world to make up for it. As for you, I hope you will manage to keep that bestial lust of yours under control. Remember who it was who looked after you while you were still only a youngling, when my men would have preferred slicing your throat. I do you a great favoring, Mogor, by allowing one of your kind among us. Do not forget that.”

    Mogor glared at the Cid in what appeared to be bestial fury for a moment, but then acueieced “Yes, my liege.”

   The Cid of the Korsars—for that is who the man was—then turned his attention to the girl. He smiled at her. “My lovely creature.” he announced. “You now belong to Borak, Cid of Korsar.”

    “Never!” Jahlanna cried. “I am Jahlanna, princess of Nu-al! You will release me at once!”

    “Release such a comely prize as yourself?” the Cid asked. “I think not. You are going to be keeping me company for a very long time.”

    “Jahlanna’s mate is a mighty warrior. You will see. He will come and punish you all!”

    “I doubt it.  We will be a long way from here before he even notices your absence. Mogor, bring her!”

    The men turned away. Mogor and his captive joined them. They company went back in the direction of the river, then followed it to the mouth of an open cove. The vast blue of the Korsar sea stretched beyond. Four boats were encamped there. Jahlanna could see the bulk of the great wooden beat some distance off shore. The fiercely struggling girl was forced into one of the boats. The men began rowing. Mogor seated himself in front of her, to keep an eye on the lovely captive.

   Jahlanna looked away, not wanting to meet his gaze. She turned toward the shore with its lush forsts and soaring mountains beyond. She was a helpless captive now, and she would never again her mate. If only Clive knew of her situation, perhaps he could save her. But he no way of knowing. And the land was receding ever further into the distance.


    After Jahlanna did not return to camp, the men set out to look for her. They found the girl’s feminine footprints leading in the direction of the easily enough. It appeared that she had headed back to camp after bathing, when she had happened upon danger; they found a set of her returning footprints before they reached the stream--and something far more disturbing. The tracks of some large predatory beasts, whose gait was evidently sprawling in the manner of a gigantic lizard, but whose clawed prints left the impressions of webbing, indicating a partially aquatic. The size of the predator, as it was, was stupefying.

    “You have any idea what manner of beast that is, doctor?” Clive asked Simmons.

    “I’m not entirely sure. I would say it was some large reptile, except the indentation of the claws look to be a mammalian in character…”

       Tarok bent on one knee, examining the prints. “These are the tracks of a zorag.” he announced gravely.

     “A what? Whatever manner of beast a zorag is, I don’t believe we’ve encountered one yet.”

     “And you should be thankful for that, friend Clive.” said Tarok. “They are terrible creatures, the most deadly predators of the river, worse than sithics.” The sithic was a monstrous species of amphibian endemic to the coastal marshes and rivers. “Your aged friend is correct. It is no reptile, but a mammal. They are ferocious fighters, and cannot be killed without terrible risk. The princess has had the misfortune to run across one, so it seems.” He glared briefly at Clive, as though in anger, then turned back to follow the girl’s trail.

    From the flash in the warrior’s steely eyes, Clive realized that Tarok held him at least partially responsible for the princess’s peril. Clive felt a stab of guilt into his already mounting fear for the girl’s safety. It was true that the girl would not be in any danger if it were not for him.

    They found that the girl’s prints now led back in the direction of the river, only now it was apparent from the prints that she was running, with the beast waddling in pursuit. They followed the sets of tracks down to the river and along its bank. They had gone far when they were greeted by a surprise.

    A huge carcass, undoubtedly that of the creature that had been pursuing Jahlanna, lay sprawled upon the bank. Its massive jaws lay open, still leaking hot gore. The beast had been slain only very recently, for scavenging birds and pterosaurs had only just discovered the carcass, and were beginning to light and rip their beaks into the beast’s flesh.

    So that’s a zorag, Clive thought. He had never seen or heard of such a beast, not even in paleontology books. Like an enormous furred crocodile it was, crossed in some unlikely manner with a giant otter or platypus. But it was concern his mate that occupied his mind at the moment.

     The girl was nowhere within sight. Apparently the monster had not eaten her, or there would have been evidence of it. Something had obviously killed the beast. But what? Another beast would have been noisily devouring the carcass. Could the princess herself have lured the beast into a trap and managed to slay it? No. Jahlanna was plucky enough, but the girl had no spear with her, nor any other weapon. That left someone else, a warrior, probably a man from one of the tribes of this region. They found that the beast had been slain with a heavy spear-thrust into the spinal chord, confirming this theory. Clive felt his fear for his beloved rise once more, albeit now for a different reason.

      The girl was undoubtedly still alive, that much he could be thankful for.

    A growling bellow sounded from the river.  Clive turned in the direction of the noise.

    More beasts like one slain were now clambering out of the water. There were at least four of the giant brutes, with more coming. They waddled massively up the bank. Clive soon saw they weren’t interested in the puny human prey but were heading for a far more sumptuous feast, the carcass of their slain relative.

   He and others backed up in order to afford the monstrous beasts room. The few leather-winged scavengers pecking away at the flesh flapped off squawking. As the men watched in awe, the monstrous pod of proto-whales fell upon the carcass of their slain member, and began ripping out bloody steaks, swallowing them in heavy gulps.

     “I’ve never seen such beasts before.” the professor murmured.

     “Really?” Clive asked him in surprise. “You’re supposed to know all there is about prehistoric woldlife.”

    The professor shook his head. “Not all prehistoric beasts have been discovered.” he replied, continuing to gaze at the feeding frenzy in awe-struck wonderment.  “But I do believe these monsters represent something truly phenomenal! They appear to be a link between the land-dwelling hooved condylarths, such as the andrewsarchus, and the true cetaceans or whales! Science has long speculated that such beasts must have existed at some period of earth’s prehistory, but they have thus far managed to elude us in the fossil record. But here in the lost world of Pellucidar, I have found the living link!  My comrades back at Harvard will never believe this. If only I had my camera. I’d give the blighters all the blamed proof they wanted, I would!”

    As for himself, Clive cared not a fig about the beasts’ alleged ancestors or possible descendents. He only felt relieved that Jahlanna had managed to escape this one.

    Leaving the horde of ambuloceteans to their meal, they easily located the fleeing girl’s trail once again, only this time she was fleeing form a different pursuer with a different intent. For imposed over the fine, dainty toe-prints of the running girl were the large, course prints of a hulking male warrior who had to be of considerable height and girth to make prints of such indentation in the loam. But the prints had not been made by any human warrior; they were far too large and brutishly shaped for even the most primitive cave tribesmen. Also there were opposable thumbs. They all agreed that the girl’s pursuer had be a member of the sagoth race.

   At length, the discovered what Clive had most feared they would. The girl’s prints vanished, replaced only by those of the beast-man. And his prints were now sunk deeper into the spongy loam, indicating that he was now bearing a burden, which could only be the princess herself.

      Clive felt a mixture of fear for his princess and rage at her adductor rise within him.

      They followed the prints expecting them to be joined by other sagoth prints, or else to lead to some secluded spot where the beastman could subdue and ravish his captive. But instead they led to clearing where they were almost obliberated by the tracks of many men—booted tracks that did not appear to belong to any of the human tribes, who customarily went barefoot.

     “Do you suppose these are surface men?” Clive asked the professor.

    “I don’t have a way of guessing.” Simmons replied. “It’s possible that there are other surface here—or that we were followed.” He paused thoughtfully. “I seem to recall though, that in Burroughs “records” of this lost world, transmitted to him via the Gridley wave, there was mention of a race of seafarers, originally from the surface. He called them the Corsairs, I think.”

    “You mean your classic Buccaneer pirates, here in Pellucidar.”

   “The Korsars.” said Tarok abruptly. “Your friend is right, Clive. There is such a race of men. They have strange weapons--some of which can kill from a distance, not unlike that thing you carry. They sometimes come on land to steal women. If they have taken Jahlanna captive, she is far beyond rescuing.”

     Clive felt sudden anger at Tarok’s words. “We’ll see about that!”

     They followed the sets of tracks, including those of the sagoth who seemed to be either allied with the men or was taken captive by them while fleeing with his lovely prize. They led eventually to an open cove on the edge of a vast ocean. The Korsar Az. There they found the tracks of four boats leading to the water. But there was no sign of a boat or ship for as far as they could see in the hazy blue.

     Clive felt his heart sink. He noticed that Tarok, as well, was keeping his gaze in the distance, and felt that the Nu-al warrior felt as hopeless concerning their discovery as he did. Once again, he felt shared comradery with the warrior.

    “What manner of men have taken her?” Clive asked him.

    “It is as we feared. Our Jahlanna has fallen captive to the Korsars.”replied Tarok in a defeated tone.

    “Who are they, exactly?” Clive asked him.

    “The Korsars: a fierce tribe of bearded warriors who travel upon the water, in great wooden beasts. We will never see the princess again. Nor can any of us return to Nu-al, or Zog will have our heads for allowing his daughter to be taken.”

    “What?!” demanded Clive. “Tarok, you don’t mean you’re not even going to try to save her?”

    Tarok shrugged. “There is nothing we can do. I will morn the loss the girl for as long as I live, and I would have battled bravely for her, had we found her intime,  friend Clive, even though it is you to whom she gave her love. But the she is lost to us.”

    “To hell with that!” snapped Clive. “We’re going after her!”

    “Then you have gone mad, Clive Neville. How can we cross the great ocean?”

    “Do you know where the Korsars live?”

     Tarok nodded. “Their City is called Korsar. I have heard of it. But it is said it is surrounded by water.”

    “Then we’ll build a boat, a raft! Anything that will float. Then we’ll find her.”

     “My people are not skilled in boat craft.” said Tarok.  “And Korsar is many leagues across the great water.”

     “Alistair!” said Clive. “You showed us how to build a raft, we did it before. Let’s get started…”
 
 

Jahlanna of Pellucidar: Contents ERBzine 1720



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