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Volume 1723b

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

.
Part IX

        Jahlanna strode boldly the vast, continental forest. Like all forests within Pellucidar, this one was much similar to the ones surrounding her native village of Nu-al. Everywhere were the calls of birds and beasts. Feathered reptile-birds fluttered squawking through the branches, and strange rustlings of diminutive animals scurrying through the gloom sounded around her. She had not traveled far from the beach when it began to dawn on her that her Clive was not following. She looked back, but saw no sign of him. It occurred to her that she had expected him to follow, to come running after her, to beg her forgiveness. She waited several seconds longer. But still no Clive. 

    She briefly considered returning to the beach, but then she remembered her mate’s  affection for Valkara, and continued on. She kept walking, determined this time to keep her pride up, that she had been spurned, and Clive needed to understand that. 

    A small blue lizard suddenly darted onto the forest trail, directly in the girl’s path. It was bright blue, and immediately caught her attention. At that moment, a small shape glided down from the thicket’s canopy and pounced smartly upon the hapless reptile. Jahlanna looked hard at the diminutive avian predator. In all her young life around her home village, she had never glimpsed anything quite like it. Like its victim, it was perversely beautiful in a sense; it appeared half avian, have saurian, fashioned like a miniature of the great prehistoric reptiles of Jahlanna’s world, only sporting brilliant green and scarlet plumage, including a bright crested head, and what appeared to be actual wings, not only on its clawed forearms, but on legs as well—which explained how the creature was able to glide down upon its unsuspecting quarry. 

     The tiny killer turned its small head and hissed at Jahlanna, its eyes flaming red, though the girl was perhaps one hundred times its own bulk. It shocked her a bit, though she was unafraid of anything so small. 

    Then, as the Nu-al girl watched with grim fascination, the tiny feathered saurian tore ravenously into its victim, as bloodily efficient as a pack of utgors overwhelming a lidi. 

     It was then that it struck the girl: she was alone!

     Alone, hundreds of leagues from her native village, in an unknown portion of the continent. She was surrounded by leagues and leagues of dense forest and vast plains, inhabited by the most ferocious predators to ever live on earth. Worse, there were the innumerable human and quasi-human tribes, some of them unknown even in the tales and legends of her people. If the men of any one of those strange tribes were to even get a look at her, she would be forced to flee. And likely she would be eventually caught, and remain in bondage perhaps the rest of her life. Could she manage to avoid discovery until she reached her homeland? Her pride told her that she could, that the gods what not allow the capture and degradation of a tribal princess such as herself. But beneath that royal pride, she doubted it. She had already endured four periods of wrenching captivity. Of course, she had escaped each time, more than once through the intervention of her Clive. Surely, the gods themselves had delivered her into the arms of this strange red-haired warrior for whom she had such allure. 

    But this time was different. She had allowed herself, in her pride, her jealousy, to spurn him! But already, her heart was yearning to be reunited with him. Now that they were separated she wondered if she would ever see him again. If she did, she would throw her slim arms about him and forgive him. If she had some affection for the gold-tressed maiden—well, it had to be false. She was the one her Clive truly loved, and she had let her feminine anger blind her to that simple fact.    

     Oh! What a foolish, prideful thing she had been. Now she was alone in a vast savage wilderness far from home, a mere girl, with no man to protect her from the other men and terrible beasts that surrounded her. How could she make it, a mere youthful woman of eighteen outer-earth years? Like all Pellucidaran natives, the girl knew by instinct in which direction her homeland lay. But the incredible distance that stretched between her and Nu-al was staggering. 

      Her apprehension was suddenly followed by a fresh surge of hot, feminine fury. If Clive was not following her, then why not?  Could it really be that he no longer wanted her? It must. The Clive she had known before now would have rushed after her, and battled his way across the continent itself to save her were she abducted by a rival. But he had not pursued her. She wished terribly that she was wrong, but the evidence was before her. Again, Jahlanna found herself hating Clive. I never want to see him again. She vowed to herself. Not unless he proves his love for me. Only then will Jahlanna love him again in return.

    What was that?

    Jahlanna whirled around. Had she heard something or hadn’t she? A light breeze rustled the branches over her head. It sounded like someone or something was moving through the forest some distance in back of her, but she couldn’t be sure. It might be her imagination, already starting to work overtime. But it might not be. 

     “Clive...?” she called testily. She was answered by nothing. If she was being stalked, then the stalker had suddenly become silent. Which meant it couldn’t have been Clive of course, as he would not have made his presence a secret to her. Then she noticed something else: the forest around had grown silent. The hooting of apes, the squawking of birds the shrieks of winged saurians—all had ceased. The primeval princess knew hat meant only one thing: something was stalking something within the immediate vicinity. 

      Jahlanna continued on, her heart pounding within her royal breast. The girl walked on at a leisurely pace, attempting her best not to thing of what fiend might lurk in her wake. She focused her thoughts on home and the thought that her Clive had callously spurned her. But even these thoughts proved of little comfort, as the forest continued to remain eerily silent. 

    More than twenty paces behind the girl lurked Mogor.

     The sagoth was now doubly on the alert. But he was no coward, and he did not even consider a retreat in the direction of where he’d left the others to be captured by the Korsars. It served the red-haired outlander right, after all, for claiming to be the mate of the one woman in all Pellucidar the gorilla-man desired as his own. No, he was here to capture the girl. And no giant predator, whether tarag, tah-ho, or some other monster form time’s dawn, was about to stop him. If some such were stalking them, well, he’d fight the beast to the death before he’d her it feast on the object of his desire and passion.    With the beautiful princess at his side, he would sire a new race, and a mighty tribe and nation. Mogor now hated both humans and his fellow sagoths, as his own people would never accept him now, and returning to the Cid’s island would mean certain death. This would be his glorious revenge on all of them. 

    He had purposefully fallen some distance behind the girl; doubtless the young female, having strode off in a huff, anticipated her mate to follow in her direction, to beg her to take her back. Females of any race were ever so easy for Mogor to discern. Only her mate would not be coming—Mogor knew that. Already, Clive and his companions were probably being manacled and hauled off as slaves of the Cid. Jahlanna was his now. If he could not impress the girl with his manliness, if she continued to refuse him, Mogor swore that his time he would force her to subject to him. He would have the girl one way or another, and if she would not cooperate, he would demonstrate how sagoths handled unruly females. Sagoth males of his tribe forced themselves on their shes regularly—it was their way of life. Some of the gilak tribes did too, but many gilaks were soft compared to his own people. Including, it seemed, this girl’s tribe. But that would change—oh, yes, that would change. She would soon learn she was no longer the “princess” she considered herself to be, but the humbled and debased slave of Mogor the Mighty.

     Mogor grinned inwardly to himself. He had not yet earned a title among the Korsars. But “Mogor the Mighty” sounded just fine to him. 

    Ahead of him, Jahlanna already sensed there was someone following her. She knew by instinct that it was not her beloved. 

    She ran ahead, but then realized she had little hope of outdistancing the man, whoever he was. She wished for the protection of Clive, but that was lost to her. So she changed her direction, going instead into a region that was very moist underfoot. Hopefully, there was a bog, or some other body of water nearby. She did not like traveling in the soft earth. The forest floor was moist and covered with decaying detritus into which her small, fine feet sank disgustingly. Her pursuer would still be able to follow her prints, but if she came to a marsh or a stream, she could cover her direction without difficulty. 

       She did not find a stream, however, nor did it appear to be a marsh, although the ground beneath her was slowly growing marshy. The whole forest, it seemed, was slowly growing into a vast dismal swamp around her. Soon, Jahlanna was wading in an icky, green-scummed soup. Gnats swarmed in thick clouds above the surface. Something whirred over her head, and she looked up to behold a dragonfly with a long tubular body, bottle-green, zooming on lightening-fast six-foot wings. The entire swamp was filled with bizarre bird cries and throaty croakings of unseen denizens. This swamp was probably created by the nearby Korsar Az seeping into the forested lowlands. Resting on logs half-submerged in the oozing greenish filth, she saw huge labrinthodont amphibians sunning themselves in the slanting golden rays of eternal noon that spear through the trees. 

       Sithics, she thought, for she recognized the creatures, though never before seen one. A huge, bloated-bellied sithic, with massive, alligator-like jaws was sunning itself, on a log, not more than a few feet away. Maybe it had caught enough prey to satiate it, and it was resting, she hoped. Perhaps. 

     Jahlanna started wading in the opposite direction. Behind her, Mogor kept venturing deeper and deeper into the primordial swamp. He had tracked the girl thus far but her trail was impossible to discern in the midst of the swamp, or salt marsh, if such it was. Unlike the girl, Mogor had little fear of the monstrous amphibians; he would battle one to the death if he had to. Still none of the sithics bothered him. 

     There was no sign of the girl; ordinarily, the sagoth would have relied upon his nearly animal sense of smell to locate her. But the scent of a female gilak was incredibly difficult to pick up here in this world of rich, cloying swamp scents.  He felt like calling out to her, but the fool girl would still only run from him, even in this danger-filled realm. 

    Unknown to Mogor, the girl had changed her direction, and he was now heading away into the depths of the morass. Here the swamp-steam rose from the surface in vast, billowing curtains, making the towering conifers appear like ghost-trees. Ahead of him, Mogor heard a splashing, like someone slogging through the marsh. 
   Unable to restrain himself, Mogor cried, “Ha! Girl! Do not run from me! I have you now.”

    He dashed forward, crashing though the water, only to stop short. There was no girl here. Instead, a gigantic, monstrous shadow, obscured by rising mist, towered fantastically before him. What he had assumed to be the dashing feet of his feminine quarry was in fact the slapping of a vast saurian tail against the greenish scummed water. The form that now rose gigantically before him, he saw now, was that of some gigantic saurian of the swamp, some primal dragon such as the sagoth warrior had never before encountered. The thing was bipedal in form, with a massive tail, hunched monstrously over the corpse of his kill—some huge duck-billed saurian that was of nearly the same size. 

     A monstrous reptilian head rose gigantically above the curtain of mist. It was the size of a small voksvagon, surmounted on scrawny yet powerful neck. The blunt, reptilian muzzle was stained deep crimson, its mighty jaws clutching a huge slab of dripping hadrosaur flesh. The small, wicked eyes, situated near the top of the head glittered hungrily down upon the small mammalian intruder. The mighty jaws bolted down the chunk of meat, the throat-sac bloating as it swallowed. Then the tiny reddish eyes focused again upon Mogor. The terrible jaws, set in a perpetual, ghastly grin as terrible as death, gaped as the creature bellowed titanticly, dispelling the marsh mist, and shaking the mighty conifers to their very roots. 

    Mogor, villain that he was, did not shake, even as the zarith’s roar drowned his very senses, for he was no coward. But he knew he had not a chance against the most feared monster in Pellucidar. 

   The gorilla-man turned and fled back the way he came. Giving went to another terrific bellow, like an insane locomotive, the zarith splashed after him. 

    Not more than a few feet away, Jahlanna of Nu-al crouched behind a half-submerged log. The frightened cave-girl peered above as the terrible monster crashed after Mogor, its titantic footfalls trembling the earth. 

     Jahlanna had heard of the zarith; they were the most dreaded predators within Pellucidar. Their armored hide no warrior’s spear could penetrate, and they feasted only upon the mightiest of herbivores. 

    At any even, this particular zarith, she was certain had taken care of Mogor. Jahlanna might have felt sorry, even for such a brute as he—Mogor had fought to save her from the plesiosaur, though it were for selfish reasons. But the thought of what fate awaited her in the presence of his apish lust drove all sympathy from her. 

    Far off in the mist, the zarith bellowed again. A half-simian scream followed. Good. The girl realized she was now safe from Mogor forever.      

      Still trembling, Jahlanna gazed about, silently praying the gods that no other such monsters were lurking here about, or even any smaller ones, such as the sithic, which were more apt to make a meal of a young girl. She whirled about frantically, magnificent tresses flying, as she gazed into the rising mists. She hard the croakings and screechings, and saw a few ghost-like forms of small pterosaurs flapping up into the mist, but nothing else. 

    Warily, the princess continued slogging through the marsh, away from the place where the zarith was feasting. The thoughts of serpents and other unpleasant things in the water revolted her—she had even heard tell of monstrous serpents big enough to swallow a thag infesting swamplands such as this. But she forced herself to concentrate on other thoughts like getting out of this marsh. Fortunately, the primitive girl knew by instinct how to survive in the wild, and she headed away from what she knew was deepest part of the marsh, that most near the ocean. Her instinct proved correct, as soon she was out of the slimy water, and tracking across blackish, unpleasant mud. Soon the icky mud gave way to mulch leaf-litter once more, and this the girl could stand. Soon all trace of the swamp gave way to thick, luxuriant jungle carpeted with thick blankets of moss and decaying mold. It was a forest not unlike the one Jahlanna had left upon entering the swamp. Huge russet boles of towering cryptomyria began to rise about her like the mighty supports of a natural cathedral. These ancient trees were encrusted with mold, lichen, and shelf-fungi—some of them huge and solid enough that Jahlanna could have stood upon them. Other of the mighty trees lay on their sides or upon the forest floor, overgrown with heaping layers of green moss, and sprouting here and there with vibrant clusters of multicolored mushrooms. Slanting rays, as of molten gold, pierced the canopy turning the deep greens of the forest realm into brilliant emeralds and soft jades. Soft, mysterious rustlings were everywhere. Lizards scuttled, hissing, over the moss-blanketed logs, hissing shrilly at the girl’s passage. Ungaily reptile-birds fluttered squawking through the rays of sun. 

    This forest was greatly to Jahlanna’s liking. In fact, it reminded her of home, the secret glades east of the village that were designatd as the girls’ only. It was like that here, deep, secluded and beautiful, and for once, the cave princess felt safe. There were no large and dangerous beasts in a forest such as this, and no men that hunted them either. That meant she was relatively safe as long as she stayed. She longed to be in Clive’s arms though, and wished fervently that he were her. Once again, she regretted leaving him, and hoped that he might find her. Strangely though, Clive didn’t seemed to possess the sense of direction that everyone she knew had, and seemed to relay mostly on the older man called Alistair, and his compass to show him the way. Which meant that if he suspected she were heading toward her homeland, he would have trouble following.

    Jahlanna had a sudden need to be rid of the cloying swamp-mud on her ankles. She headed down steam to where a stream would likely be located. Sure enough, soon the girl located a deep creek meandering though a forested gorge. There, she removed her slight hide bra and briefs, the new ones afforded to her in Az-al, and waded in. She bathed herself thoroughly wetting and wringing her thick lovely tresses. 

    When she had finished and she felt clean and pretty enough to her own satisfaction. She strode leisurely into the forest to sunbathe, and find a place to further preen her magnificent tresses once they dried. She did not bother to slip on her bra and briefs, as these garments were so brief the concealed almost nothing, and Jahlanna, primitive girl that she was, preferred being naked, since she felt she had nothing to hide about her own natural beauty. She remembered where they were of course, as once she started again in the direction of her country, it would be better if she were clothed, however slightly. She needed something to protect her lovely young breasts, after all. And the more nude she was, the more inviting to male human predators. 

     What Jahlanna did not know, however, was that such predators were already in the area—human warriors of the nearby tribe of Ugag. 

   Two burly warriors of the Ugag tribe, named Gorag and Narak were bearing the freshly slain carcass of an oxyena toward there homeland, when a man’s intuition caused them both to stop and listen. The two men were brothers, Narak being the craftier of the two. Narak held up his hand to silence the other. At his signal, they crept unobtrusively through the thicket, and peered through the leafy boughs. 

    And thus they spied her. Each drew a collective breath, for she was quite a stunning sight. A lithe young female, stark naked, with glorious ebon tresses, a Junoesque figure, and small breasts firm with pubescent ripeness. Though she had the girlish shoulders, and delicate neck, and alluring face of a girl-princess, her hips were flaring and super-curved. Her superb rump, as they saw as the girl sauntered past, was as massive and mighty and its roundness as the divine curves of her hips suggested. 

     “A Girl!” whispered Garog to his companion.  

     “I can see that,” Narak whispered back. “And a very ripe one at that. More comely in every way than our own shes.”

    “Garog will make her his,” He started to creep toward the unsuspecting girl. 

    “No!” Narak whispered harshly. “We will share her, as we do all things. She will not be able to escape the two of us.”

    Gorag grinned moronically. “Yes brother…it is a good pan.”

     “Of course it is. Follow me, and this prize shall be ours.” They snuck around the forest to head the girl off. 

     As for the girl, she was unaware of the presence of the two men until both appeared on the path in front of her. She gave a startled little shriek of surprise. 

     “What have we here?” leered Narak. “A lovely thing like you should have a strong pair of warriors guarding her.”

      “I am Jahlanna!” she cried in sudden anger. “Princess of Nu-al. I need no warrior to guard me!”

       “We’ll see about that,” said Narak “When we take you back to Ugag as our slave.”

      “Jahlanna has a mate!”

      “Forget him. If he tries to save you, we will kill him. Now you shall have two mates—Gorag and I shall take turns pleasuring you. I promise you, “princess”—you have not been with a man until one of us has mated you. Come with us willingly, girl, and a fine new life awaits you in Ugag. If you resist, though, I warn you that we can be very harsh masters indeed.”

     “I’d rather die!” shrieked the mortified princess.

    “So be it,” Sneered Narak, a hideous grin on his features. The two repulsive, bow-legged warriors shambled toward the terrified girl. Jahlanna turned and fled, flying down the trail the way she’d come with antelopine grace, her ridiculously heavy rump presenting a comical picture to her bestial pursuers. Jahlanna was a strong young girl, and would have been a superb runner, if it wasn’t for the sheer mass of those hips. A wonder to sit upon, they now proved her undoing, as Gorag’s calloused hand snaked out and seized her by her fragile neck. His grip might easily have crushed it, had Narak not called out in the nick of time, “Stop, you fool! You’ll hurt the girl!”

    Her brutal captor seized her roughly under her slim arms and pulled her around, struggling. 

   Narak gloatingly touched Jahlanna beneath her delicate chin. The girl wrenched away fiercely. “Now, Now, “princess”,” he said. “We don’t want our sweet little prize to be damaged do we? Do not worry—Gorag was a bit rough, and none too bright, but I will see to it that you are uninjured.” 

      “Filthy forest swine! To talk to her this way! Jahlanna’s father shall have you spitted on his warriors spears. Your heads will decorate his hut!”

     “I think not, my prize. I have not heard of the country of Nu-al—that must mean it is far away.”

     “Jahlanna is not an object to be traded and bartered with!” she raged, twisting her delicate wrists vainly against Gorag’s grip. 

    “Oh, there will be no trading, my sweet,” sneered Narak. “You belong to us, fair and square. And Gorag and I have a way of sharing our prizes equally. Is that not right?”

     Gorag said, “Most certainly!”

     “Pigs!!!” Jahlannna shrieked. 

       The two bound the girl’s wrists with taught vines. Then they bore their fiercely struggling prize. For what seemed like leagues through the vast forest. When it came time to sleep, the men decided to make camp. They lay the girl down, and each of them made certain to keep watch on her. Narak, knowing his brother to be more impulsive and less intelligent than himself, had the other man go hunting while he kept watch over the girl. 

    Gorag returned shortly, bearing the slain carcass of a sinclairomaryx on his burly shoulders. They built them a small fire, keeping it low so as to avoid the attentions of any other hunters in the area, over which they roasted the deer-like ruminant.  The meat was soon sizzling pleasantly on the spit. 

      The two cavemen were soon chortling among themselves, gleefully bragging to each other upon the capture of the beautiful cave princess, and discussing their plans for her, talking as though Jahlanna was not even present, as they lustfully ripped the dripping flesh and fat with their course teeth. The girl tried to keep her dignity, though the men of her own tribe always took care never to subject her to such male courseness. 

     ‘Wait till the others get a look at the prize we are bearing home!” cried Gorag. “Gorag and Narak shall be the envy of the tribe.”

     “Do not brag too much, fool! Other men will all want to steal our prize from us.”

     “Ugh! Let hem try! Gorag will crush the skulls of all who would steal her!” 

     The men took their turns sleeping, and guarding Jahlanna. First Gorag slept. Then Narak, though he cautioned him not to allow the female to use her “honeyed tongue” on him. 

    But Jahlanna had stopped cursing her captors, and had remained silent for some time. Even though it was clear that Narak was on to her, she had decided that using her tongue was still her best bet under the circumstances. Since she was no match for the men’s strength, she would have to outthink the pair—and Gorag was obviously the less wily of the two. 

     For what she assumed must be half of Gorag’s watch, she pretended only to pout. Then she ventured, in a sweet, feminine voice. “Gorag.” 

      Gorag turned his mocking gaze upon her “What do you want, my royal princess-girl? Do your pretty little feet need massauging?”

       “It is my wrists,” said Jahlanna, delicately, in an imploring childish voice. “You are such strong, brave man, Gorag. Could you not loosen them for me, if only slightly?” 

     The caveman grinned awfully. “Narak says your bonds remain tight. You try to fool Gorag. But no cunning she can outsmart him.”

       “Do you always do as Narak tells you? Really Gorag, if you are as smart as you say, you would not let him treat you as he does.”

    Gorag’s piggy little eyes narrowed under his shelf-like brow. “What do you mean, girl? Do not presume to know a warrior’s ways. You are our captive, not our chief.” 

      The girl swallowed. “Jahlanna knows that Narak is only using you.”

      “We are brothers. Narak has always shared with Gorag. We share our kills our women. Now be quiet, girl, or I shall cuff you!” 

      Jahlanna laughed loud and haughtily-a princess laugh. “Then Garog is a fool after all! And I thought him so smart. He says he shares everything with you. But does he? Who gets the choicest parts of the kills?”

     Gorag appeared to think about that. 

     Jahlanna realized that she had him. Typical—Narak had not shared all things equally with his brother. 

    “And what about myself? Does Gorag think that his brother will allow him to share me with him equally. NO! Do you not see? He wants me for himself. He wants Jahlanna to make love to him on the ryth-skin of his cave, and share nothing with his brother!”

      Gorag appeared to consider this. Then he glowered hatefully at the sleeping form of his brother. “Hold your serpent-tongue, girl.”

     “But if Gorag releases her, Jahlanna will be his, his forever!”

     Gorag said nothing. But it was evident that he liked this possibility. Finally he said, “I thought that you called us pigs and slurrels, and hated us both.”

      “It is true, I hate both of you.” said Jahlanna, mixing in some more truth to her deception. “But of the two of you, I much prefer Gorag. He is far stronger and handsomer than his brother! If Jahlanna must be a slave to one of you, Gorag is her choice.”

       To her surprise, Gorag’s face split into a wide, moronic grin. He had been won over completely with that statement. “That is what I wanted to hear! Jahlanna is a very perceptive girl! Gorag will free her!”

     “Yes! Free me, and we will be away together, you and I! If you only take me away from him, Jahlanna will be forever grateful! She will give him pleasures he never dreamed!”

     “So you will princess.” Chortled Garog, as his thick fingers undid her bounds. “And Gorag will show Jahlanna what a man truly is! You are most fortunate girl, to be spared mating with Narak—he is foolish weakling, as he has been since we were cubs. I promise, girl, you will want no man, once Gorag has mated you!” 

    Jahlanna had been right—there had been rivalry between these too after all, for all their pretense of brotherly affection. And that smoldering hate had liberated her. Only now—how to escape Gorag?

     The cave princess and her would-be mate fled, leaving Narak snoring noisily by the fire. After they had run a good distance, the girl turned. “You have saved me from Narak. Jahlanna is grateful.” 

     Gorag leered at her. “She will be even more grateful in a moment—come girl, show Gorag how you appreciate him.”

     Jahlanna ran a short distance, then wagged her finger at him. “Maybe I will, Gorag—if you can catch me first,” she said sweetly.” She hoped the man would take it for what it was supposed to be—coy flirtatiousness. 

     The grinned idiotically and chased after her; Jahlanna saw that her plan was working. 

      The girl dashed into a dense grove of trees. Gorag followed. Pretending to play a lover’s game of hide-and-seek, Jahlanna ran in and out of the tree trunks. 

  Then, as Gorag rounded a gnarled bowl, he saw that Jahlanna had vanished. 

     “Where are you girl?” he called, his tone suddenly wary. “Do not think to hide from me—you cannot fool Gorag! Show yourself, or he will have to beat you!”

     “I am here, Gorag my sweet!” called Jahlanna, her voice sweet music. 

     Gorag relaxed again. He grinned. The girl had to be hiding through the screen of leaves just ahead. He made ready to pounce, the imitation of a tarag’s warning rumble sounding playfully deep in his throat. 

      And then white-hot pain burst thunderously through his thick skull!

     For the cunning girl had stolen up behind him and rammed a sizeable rock full against the back of the man’s head. Like a felled tree, Gorag pitched forward, burying his unlovely face in the mulch.

     Jahalanna stepped back, trembling. And nearly screamed. 

     The rock fell from her nerveless fingers, as she saw the cave men slowly rise to his feet to glower at her horribly. The Ugag, it seemed had skulls as thick as iron. The blow would have taken out a normal man easily. But not Gorag. 

     Jahlanna screamed as Gorag lurched toward, throwing out his gorilla-like arms. “You tricked me!! You scheming little jackel!

    The girl turned and fled, Gorag in hot pursuit. “Come back, you lying she-jalok!”

    Again, Jahlanna’s hips hindered her flight, but this time she had the advantage. Though the girl’s meager strength had proved insufficient to actually take out Gorag, she had managed to give the man a mammoth headache. As a consequence, Gorag blundered after his prize, cursing her, while the agile young she raced ahead. 

    Jahlanna was succeeded in outpacing her brutal pursuer, when abruptly she ran out into a clearing. The sight that greeted her drew a scream from her pretty lips. 

    In the center of the clearly stood a gargantuan reptile, one of the monster-lizards which ruled Jahlanna’s world. Though the cave-princess had never before encountered this particular species of saurian, she was able to recognize it at once. Simmons would have identified it as a styracosaurus of the Lower Cretaceous Period. The girl knew it only as a gyrnk, or spike-shield a smaller, but no less aggressive cousin to the gyor. Unlike those giant, three-horned denizens of the plains, the gyrnk possessed a single, gigantic curved horn on its beaked snout. From the collar of its neck there grew a great boney shield, or tranverse crest, along which sported a multitude of long, spiked horns. The great crest as a vibrant lilac purple in color, the rest of the face an eye-stinging chartreuse, save for the bands of dull crimson encircling the eyes. The nose and shield horns were of ivory. The massive, pebble-hided body was of a greenish olive, fading to a muddy yellow on the belly and underside of the tail. The beast’s vibrant embellishments told Jahlanna it was a male gyrnk, possibly in heat. 

     And as is the case with bull elephants of the surface world during the rutting season,  grynks in heat can become irrational, and charge without provocation. 

     Jahlanna saw the beast paw at the thickly-grassed turf. 

     The girl cast her beautiful gaze about frantically. The monster was about to charge, and though there were trees surrounding the clearing, none close enough were there that she could safely haul up her voluptuous form, and wait the beast out. So she fled, heading off in a completely new direction, hoping to confuse the dim-sighted behemoth by weaving in and about the trees. 

     At her back, she heard the beast crashing though the thicket like a living hurricane.  Knowing that outmaneuvering such a large animal was the only sure way to defeat it, she angled to the right, then to the left. It seemed to be working. The monster seemed to be slowing, having to make such abrupt turns after its small quarry in the dense cover. 

    Jahlanna slowed her pace as the dinosaur’s enraged bellowing began to grow faint. In the next moment a terrible, hulking shape threw itself directly in front of her, eliciting another scream of terror form the girl’s lips. 
    It was Narak. The hulking man leered at her. 

   “So, my cunning little she-jalok. You thought to escape you, did you? Narak’s stupid brother may have been easy for such a sly harlot as you to beguile. But you not find me that easy.” He seized the girl by her arm.

    Jahlanna fought savagely. “Let me go!”

   “I think not! It’s time you learned who your master is, girl!” he twisted his hand in Jahlanna’s thick mane of tresses. The girl cried out at the pain. He pulled her hair, knocking Jahlanna  to the ground. “Now I shall have you back to Ugag, girl, if I am forced to drag you all the way.”   

     “Narak!”

     The scream seemed to have come out of nowhere. Jahlanna and Narak both turned to see Gorag, not ten paces away. He was snarling at them, fuming. Blood still trickled from the deep gash Jahlanna had opened in the man’s forehead. He was clutching his stone-bladed ax, glowering at his brother in open hatred. “Stay away fro her! The girl is Gorag’s—Gorag shall kill Narak!”

     “Fool! You allowed the lying she-jalok to trick you!”

     “You lie! You want her for yourself—you just said so!”

     The other crimsoned slightly at this observation. Then killing lust blazed into Narak’s eyes, as they both glowered at each other. Then he released Jahlanna, and charged his foe.  

   The girl rolled over onto her side to observe the battle, her lovely, thick-lashed yes dazed with the horror of the male’s conflict. They crashed into each other, smashing with their stone axes wielded by their massive, gorilla-like arms. 

    Jahlanna remained stunned for a moment. Then, she realized her chance. Not waiting to witness the outcome of the Titanic duel, the girl gained her feet and fled, racing deerlike deep into the forest. 

      Jahlanna ran and ran, hoping again to put as much space between her and her would-be captors as possible. But by now she was exhausted. She collapsed against the bole of a huge tree, unable to run further. 

    And then a horrid figure emerged from the forest in front of her. The girl’s eyes flew wide—but her throat was too raw to scream again. 

    Though she certainly would have, for the figure was that of Gorag, the victor of the battle to claim her — blood-matted, with one side of his face completely sheered away by Narak’s ax, exposing, red-veined muscular tissue. The bulging exposed eyeball on that side of his ruined visage trained unmercifully on the girl. The other side of his apish, heavy-bowed face was washed with blood, the other piggy little eye nearly swollen shut by a mammoth purple bruise bulging from his right brow-ridge. His mouth now formed a horrible, rictus-like grin of malevolent lunacy. 

       Such was the shambling apparition that advanced upon the helpless young girl. 

     “Girl….” He breathed at her. “Girl is….Gorag’s….he take her…..he take her now…”

     Jahlanna backed up, her rump knocking into the tree. He had trapped her. The very thought of Gorag-now transformed into this thing—even touching her soft skin filled her with such nausea and revulsion as she had never known. She had a brief, hopelessly longing vision—that her Clive was her, was holding her, saving her from this thing—which was then gone, gone forever. Why, why had she ever left him? 

    And then Jahlanna found that she could scream after all—and she did. She screamed long and loud, a scream of absolute, pure feminine terror, as the monster that had once been Gorag closed over her. 

      And as the face of Horror stared full into the face of Beauty, and Beauty screamed, so did Horror smile—a dreadful smile of malice which crossed Gorag’s demolished features, as though savoring for a moment the girl’s helpless terror. 

     But the savoring was short-lived.  For in the next instant Gorag, too, screamed—a scream of terrible agony which drowned out that of his intended victim. 

    The pretty eyes of the young princess flew wide as she saw her assailant lifted from her. 

     Gorag’s body twitched, shuttering spasmodically. The girl now saw to her astonishment that Gorag was spitted like a roast fowl on the mighty nasal horn of the grynk!

      The monster bellowed terrifically shuddering the copse of mighty trees to their roots. With a toss of its grotesque head, the giant saurian flung the ruined corpse of the caveman from him like some bothersome insect. But still filled with battle-lust, the huge dinosaur then turned its attention upon the defenseless girl….

      Jahlanna realized that she was finished. But she had never been so relieved. The horned monster had saved her from a fate far worse than death. The thought of having that thing so much as touch her had been intolerable. Had Gorag ravaged her, as he intended…and even worse, captured her, if she had been made a slave of that thing, her world would have been plunged into howling madness. 

   But the dinosaur would afford her a clean death. The girl did not even try to escape, as the monster pawed the earth, and readied itself for a final, fatal charge. 

      A sudden yell rent the air. The styracosaur wheeled its tanklike body around as if in sudden annoyance. Jahlanna’s eyes fluttered wide once more. Someone had leapt to her rescue. She dared to believe that it was Clive — but she knew otherwise. 

     She hear another cry.  The girl could see a  figure in front of the enraged beast.

     It was Mogor!

   The sagoth had somehow survived his encounter with the zarith.

   The spike-shield bellowed. She heard the sagoth scream some high pitched taunts at the beast. 

    The monster charged, nose-horn leveled at the gorilla-man.

    Jahlanna saw the gorilla-man scurry up and swing himself into the agility of a gibbon, though one arm appeared to be badly injured.  The styracosaurus, impelled by its headlong inertia, crashed headlong into the great tree, lodging its mighty horn deep in the bowel. 

       The sagoth then lept to the earth, seized a broken limb, and drove the point of it deep into the beast’s eye!

        Jahlanna ran until the sounds of the bellowing dinosaur faded in the distance. But the gorilla-man was savage and swift. Before long he had caught up with her. 

        He bore her to the ground, then stood up to gaze gloatingly down upon the young princess. 

      “Mogor! I thought you had been killed!”

   Mogor laughed savagely. “Did you, my sweet? Ah, because you waylaid me in the great swamp so that the zarith would eat me.”

    “What happened? I heard you scream.”

     “The beast caught me, yes. She seized me in her jaws and bore me off to her nest.”

    Jahlanna gasped as she noticed for the first time that the sagoth’s left arm was nearly unhinged at the socket and crudely bandaged in a makeshift sling. 

    “The monster seized by this arm, then lifted me, carrying me into the mists. I wondered why she did not finish me; I expected to be gulped down any second. I was in terrible pain, but I heard the squealing of the great reptile’s young; I saw then that she had carried back toward her kill. I knew then that the beast was female, for her loathsome offspring were gathered there feasting. Now I realized why she had captured me when there was enough meat on her kill; she wanted a live plaything for her young to practice on.

    Jahlanna understood. She had heard of female panthers and tarags capturing live prey for their cubs to hone their skills upon. It was the way of nature, she was told, but it disgusted her all the same.

    She released me among the vermin. The little beasts swarmed over me. I was weak and faint, even for a strong warrior as myself; but survival instinct gave me the strength I needed to fight them off, though my one arm was badly mangled. They were incredibly strong for infants; nearly the seize of adult utgors. One pounced upon me with slashing talons, and I threw it from me. Then I raced off. The mother reptile bellowed but did not give chase, her offspring had to learn. But I raced deep into the forest to loose them, yet they came hot upon my heals. They would snap and tear at me whenever close enough. But I remembered I still had my ax strapped to my girdle. With ax in hand, I slew the first zarith infant to reach me. It died in a squeal of pain. The next suffered the same fate as its sibling. The rest of the brood fell back. I then heard the mighty roar of mighty mother, and heard the tremor of her footfalls as she started after me, sensing the plight of her young. But I raced on, now deep in the cloaking mists. I zigzagged form side to side, and eventually I lost her. I was now deep within the swamp, and I fought off many other deadly swamp denizens before I found solid ground at last. I then backtracked through the forest, instant on recapturing you. 

   “Stay away from me.”

    “Never again!” 

   The sagoth lunged toward her. Jahlanna tried to flee but in a flash Mogor caught her. Even with one arm, he was incredible swift and strong. He hefted her with his one good arm, while his fair captured hammered his back uselessly with her fists. 



 
Jahlanna, once again a captive, felt her mind reel with despair as Mogor carried further and further through the primeval jungle. With every mighty stride the gorilla-man bore the jungle princess further from her homeland. Clive had abandoned her, or so it seemed.  

    They were heading deeper into untraversed wilderness, the sagoth deliberately bearing her away from the vicinity of any tribes that might interfere with them. 

    Jahlanna then noticed something; there seemed to be a kind of pall cast over the land. She turned her face heavenward, and realized the source of the effect through the canopy. 

    Above, a vast spherical shape blotted out the curvature of the land. Though she had not realized it earlier, they were heading in the direction of the Land of Awful Shadow. The titanic orb above was none other than the Dead World, Pellucidar’s moon. The girl had often seen it form afar, and small sphere positioned near the dreamy blue, of the Sojar Az, for Nu-al was a very great distance form this country. But now it was so vast and awesome that it brought a shudder though her despite her current predicament. Did the beast-man actually intend to bear her to the country of Awful Shadow, that dreadsome nocturnal country beneath that lifeless sphere? 

     The girl’s horror at the terrible possibility was such that she actually fainted. 

,   But it was not long before Mogor put her down, and Jahlanna reawakened in an instant. 

    Mogor smiled terribly at his beautiful captive. “We are far from any land or people,” he said. “Mogor knows. We are near the land of Awful Shadow and no other people dwells here abouts. You had your fun with that other red-haired gilak. But now Mogor will show what real pleasure is.”

     Jahlanna shrieked and drew back. Naturally Mogor assumed it was from himself, but in truth the princess had discerned what Mogor himself was unaware of; namely that this country was not as uninhabited as he had supposed. 

    A smallish humanoid figure was stealing up behind him. As nearly as the girl could see, the figure had small spindly arms and legs, and a grotesquely inflated cranium; in height it stood about three or four feet in height. It seemed naked save for a brief red tunic apparently of woven cloth girdling its loins. Its skin color, impossibly, appeared to be lime-green. But even more astonishing, a pair of wings sprouted form its shoulders. 

    Then she saw another materialize from the forest, and then a third and a fourth. 

   She cried out, but the sagoth did not heed her warning, and the little beings attacked!     They launched themselves into the air, and struck the mighty sagoth. Caught off guard, Mogor snarled and fought his diminutive attackers. They seized him by the arms and legs. The beings had faces that almost appeared infantile; let those same features appeared dreadfully evil; there was something about their cast that radiated diabolism. Their mouths the girl now saw, were filled tiny piranha-like teeth. These they sank viciously into Mogor’s flesh. The sagoth bellowed with pain and rage, a he swatted at his diminutive green attackers. 

     Two of the creatures bore stout, blunt-headed cubs. They began smashing them repeatedly into Mogor’s thick skull, until their victim crashed to the ground. They chattered viperishly as they did this, and the sound of their voices chilled Jahlanna horribly.

    Then they turned on her. The girl screamed as they seized her by her slim arms. She struggled fought and kicked, and did manage to send one of her attackers flying across the clearing to snack against a tree trunk. But more creatures were now pouring out of the trees. Their hideous giggling, like that of the demonic children they appeared filled her ears. They were far stronger then one might have guessed, fiendishly strong despite the spindliness of their limbs, and soon they had the girl secured by both arms and legs. Beating their miniature pinions, they bore the struggling female heavenward—toward the sky-dominating orb of Pellucdair’s moon. 

   Jahlanna nearly swooned again as the forest and the world grew distant beneath her. Her captors might be small, but they were indeed powerful. 

    Past towering escarpments they bore Jahlanna. The girl could see the gliding shapes of thipdars among the craggy peaks. 

   Up and up further still flew the flock of weird creatures, bearing the dazed girl with them. The titanic orb of the Dead rose mightily before her vision; and Jahlanna saw then that the so-called dead World was not dead at all, but a world unto itself. Huge mountains vast forests, and silver threads that were in fact mighty rivers filled her vision as they approached the mighty orb. 

    Her head swam and her ears rung as the Moon asserted its gravitational pull. Down they swept, and now Jahlanna could see weird forests of strange blue-green trees, not unlike the mighty conifers of her own world, but much taller and more pointed, due to the small gravity. She saw animals two, great ox-like things, only with what looked like six-legs, and zarith-like reptilian bipeds bearing vibrant crests, and two sets of arms, obviously hunters stalking the herds of herbivores. 

    Too, there were huge flying reptiles, smaller than thipdars. They were long-tailed rhamphorycoid pterosaurs, like the small insectivorous species found in forest glades. Jahlanna recognized even from a distance of course—they were Mahars. 
 

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