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Volume 1724a

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

.
Part XI

   The Korsars overwhelmed Clive and his companions. Noting Mogor’s absence, Clive cursed under his breath. Undoubtedly, the burly gorilla-man had gone off in pursuit of Jahlanna. Clive strained against his bonds, as fury built within him. It shocked him a bit that Jahlanna had so suddenly declared that she hated him, merely because she suspected that Valkara had affection for him. But he still loved her with all his heart, and he would have done all within his power to rescue her. But once again he was captured, and it could hardly do Jahlanna any good were he to reveal that a girl was recently a member of this party. He hoped fervently none had gotten a glimpse of her from their ship. If so, they would doubtless comb the nearby forest for her. 

    This did not happen however, as they were wrested aboard the boat, and no effort was made to search for others. The boat rowed to the side of the fantastic galley. To Clive and Simmons, the ship might have belonged to the pages of history—a magnificent antique galley with billowing white sails, the mast emblazoned with the scarlet dragon symbol, of the Korsars. How descendants of surface world Spanish pirates came to be here within Pellucidar he couldn't begin to guess. Tarok had spoken fearfully of the Korsars, and Simmons had known of their existence from the works of the surface man called Burroughs. But he had been uncertain he believed in their existence until now. 

      They were brought before the Cid himself in short order. There were now merely three of them, their original number. Tarok, that brave and stalwart warrior of Nu-al, and the liberated slave-girl Valkara, were surely dead—and this horrid fact weighed heavily on Clive’s heart. His spirits were somewhat maintained that his mate Jahlanna yet lived, but it filled him with rage that Mogor was certainly in pursuit of her—and until he escaped there was nothing he or his friends could do. 

     The Cid turned out to be a huge and burly man with a swarthy complexion, and a great bristling mustache and beard, both of blue-black color. A clawed avian or reptile-bird rode upon the magnificent man’s burly shoulder, and hissed and squawked raucously as the guards brought them to the fore. 

   Clive merely chuckled with wry amusement, for the bird struck him as a bizarre inner-earth substitute for pirate’s parrot. 

      “We found them on yonder beach, possibly washed up upon the shore, my liege,” a guard said. 

      “What have we here?” the Cid asked. “A strong warrior with red-hair, and elder man, and—“

     Borak stopped as his gaze included Jal-mar, the Barraboo. Apparently he not encountered a member of this particular race before.

   “—a furred monkey man with a tail? I have heard of such beings, though I thought your race black-skinned and hairless.”

     “Then you have not met my people.” Jal-mar commented. “We live on a plateau, where no gilak or other race can reach us. Those gilaks who do encounter us are made slaves.”

    “Then why do you travel with two such slaves?”

     “They are not slaves. They are friends. Together, they and I liberated the gilak slaves of my people.”

    The Cid laughed. “I will ask no more questions of that. But you will learn that here you will be the slave—as will your two hairless companions.”

     ‘What do you intend to do with us?” Clive demanded. “We are merely travelers who have lost our way. We are searching for a land called Sari—“

     “Sari!” Borak exclaimed. “That is news indeed. My people are at war with that land. What do you know of it?”

     “Like your ancestors,” said Alistair Simmons. “Clive and myself come from the world beyond Pellucidar, the same as the emperor of Sari. We are attempting to—“

     “Silence, old man!” roared the Cid. “Clive? That is his name?”

     Clive nodded. It was obvious something about his name made the man furious, though he had no idea at first what it was. 

      Borak’s eyes narrowed as he examined the pale-skinned, red-haired man. He then looked at the guard to his right. This was an oily-looked rat-faced fellow. “Does not that name sound a bit familiar?” 

     The guard looked puzzled at first. "It sounds a strange name to me."

     “So it does. But is it not the name of the warrior that the girl Jahlanna claimed was her mate who would come to punish us?”

     Rat-face--as Clive had already mentally dubbed the man—was chortling approvingly. “Oh—you men the slim, pretty girl with the large hips--who was borne off by Mogor, your traitorous first mate?”    

      “Silence!” roared Borak. Rat-face shut up. 

      The Cid glared back at Clive, who returned him with a stony gaze. “Do you know of this girl who calls herself princess Jahlanna.”

        “Yes, she is my mate.”

        “Do you have any idea of her whereabouts?”

        “I had an understanding that she was captured by you and your Korsars.” Clive said. 

        “She was among us.” Borak admitted. “She was to become my mate. But Mogor, my first mate, a sagoth that I had the error of making my adopted son, stole her from me, and made for shore. If you will agree to help me and my men track her them down, I will spare your companions a terrible death.”

    “I will do you no such thing,” Clive answered.

   “Very well,” answered Borak. “Take them away.” 

     Clive, Simmons and Jal-mar were chained below deck. They were borne to the city of the Korsar. From thence, they were marched through the streets of the teeming city to the Cid’s palace, where they were imprisoned beneath in the dungeons. 

      Life there was, as all three of them came to appreciate, unpleasant to say the least. Not the least lovely aspect of this was the fact that the dungeon in which they were imprisoned turned out to be infested with unwholesomely large vermin which appeared to be an unlovely mixture of rat and lizard. 

    Professor Simmons identified them as oligokyphus, a type of mammal-like reptile of the early Jurassic, but the name by which the Pellucidarans knew them, as they were to find out later, was slurrals. They were foul-smelling little beasts, over two feet long, with scaly, green-gray skin, and sparse hair. They had semi-reptilian jaws lined with strong teeth, and long rat-like tails. 

    Every few intervals the rat-faced little guard came to bring them soggy, repulsive gruel. None of them cared to guess the contents. Rat-face warned them repeatedly to agree to assist the Cid in his pursuit and capture of the fugitive princess, or they would stop feeding them.

    Clive actually considered this in secret. Though he hardly wanted to divulge his mates where abouts to the Cid, he nonetheless feared mightily for her safety wherever she might be. The mere thought of Jahlanana in the hands of the brutal Mogor gave him nightmares.  If a large party of Korsars were to assist them, they might stand a chance of finding the girl, and punishing Mogor. But what could he do then, were she to fall into Borak’s hands?

        Then, unexpectedly, Rat-face informed them they were to be ushered to the city arena. 

    “What does he want us there for?” Clive asked, thinking they were to be asked to fight for the Cid’s amusement.

    “Merely to witness some entertainment.” said the guard. “After all, are you not our special guests?”

    Clive said nothing as he and his companions were led through the streets of the ancient city to a small, deep arena. The Cid himself was there, his position in huge ornate box. Borak was surrounded by his servants, and harem girls, all prepared to enjoy the “entertainment.” The three captives were given seats along side him. Rat-face sat down on Borak’s other side, and grinned maliciously at them. 

      “What have you brought us here for?” Clive inquired. 

      “Ah—you shall soon see. I think you shall find this enlightening. I thought you should know what should befall you, should you continue to withhold information of the girl’s whereabouts.” 

     “I already told you -- I do not know where she is. Though from what I’ve been told, she is doubtless Mogor’s captive.” This last, Clive feared, was literally true. “Believe me, I should like nothing better to win her back, but I do nothing to assist you her capture.” 

      The Cid grinned nastily. “I think this spectacle will change your minds.” 

      A small door on the side of the arena opposite from the Cid’s box opened, and a prisoner stepped out. It was the figure of a young woman, Clive saw somewhat to his surprise. Her head was covered with a veil and a shawl and her slim arms were bound behind her back. 

      The rest of her, he noted, was very nearly naked. 

     Clive could not help but notice that she was a magnificent and well-formed girl, with thick shapely thighs, and wide and sturdy hips, though these were not of course as accentuated as those of Jahlanna of Nu-al. She was nonetheless voluptuous, this girl.  Her most eye-capturing feature, though were her two magnificent breasts. Like heavy and pendulous fruits they were, capped with small dark-hued nipples. The girl’s skin was swarthy and exotic, like those of the men-folk of Korsar, and Clive guessed her to be one of their own women. What then, was she doing in the arena, there to meet some ghastly  and terrible fate? 

    He looked questioningly at Borak, who merely smiled. 

      “The girl’s name is Nasheema. She was a former favorite of mine. But she has recently scorned me repeatedly, as my affections are now reserved firstly for the girl you call your mate. For that, her death shall be terrible indeed, as you would do well to note.”

    Clive was horrified. So it was this unfortunate girl’s jealously for the girl he cherished and loved, that had ended her here, in this arena!

      Still, the girl appeared to making a brave enough show of it. Though her head and face remained covered, she held her chin up defiantly, and stood ready to receive whatever the Cid had in store. 

       The door on the other side of the arena drew up. And out onto the sands crept a terrible beast from time's dawn!

     It was a zorag, one of the great carnivorous beasts such as they had encountered shortly following the abduction of Jahlanna by Mogor, which Simmons identified as a probable ancestor of the whale. It was a gigantic, otter-like beast with a sleek coat of seal-like fur, and a massive, crocodile-like muzzle. 

    The zorag proclaimed his entrance into the harsh sunlight with a loud croaking bellow. Then the beast caught notice of the helpless female in its path. Roaring, it scuttled like a monstrous lizard, at speed which belied its great size, toward the condemned prisoner. 

     At that precise moment, Clive was galvanized into action. He did not know nor care who the defenseless girl was; only that she was utterly without means to fend off the predator. In a flash, the surface-man seized the spear carried by the little rat-faced man, and leapt down into the arena before the other had time to react. 

    He landed, catlike, upon the blistering white-gold arena sands. Before entering this savage world at the earth’s core, Clive Neville had not been of a particularly heroic physic, though his previous adventures in the far corners of the world had left him no weakling. Even then, though he would have likely have attempted something close to the course of action he was now taking if it meant securing a helpless female from harm—and if he had been up against such as a zorag, he almost certainly would have perished. But life heretofore in Pellucidar had found him as seasoned as most of the inner world’s native warriors. 

    He scarcely had time to note that Jal-mar, too, had landed upon the sand beside him, having wrested a spear from the other astonished guard. 

     Spear in hand, the surface man charged the onrushing monster. The zorag was hideously swift. Jaws agape to seize and rend, the proto-cetacean had almost reached the girl, who stood still, her head still covered. Though she could thankfully not witness the terrible doom rushing upon her, the girl had doubtless heard the mighty roar of the animal. That she did not scream was a mute testament to her bravery. 

    Clive’s spear caught the zorag in the section where its throat joined with its body. He jammed the haft of the weapon into the thick fatty tissue in hopes of penetrating the creature’s spine. 

    This managed merely to enrage the monster, as it began thrashing about. The beast flung itself to one side, throwing Clive off balance. The man lay on his back in the dust, the wind knocked forcibly out of him, the shaft of his spear still protruding from the neck of the beast, in front of the right shoulder blade.

     A new prize, and one which had dared to wound it, was now presented to the animal. The zorag turned its gaping jaws upon Clive Neville. 

    The girl, meanwhile, had recovered near enough to hear the zorag bellow in agony and realize something had gone amiss with her intended execution. Clive turned his red-maned head to see that she had torn off her veil, and was now gaping in horror at his peril, rather than her own. He could see that she was well-above average in comeliness, with high-cheekbones, and exotic slanted almond eyes of a dusky green hue which complimented the swarthy tint of her skin. Her face was not as enchanting as that of his beloved Jahlanna, but still….

     At that self-same instant, Jal-mar was hurtling toward the roaring monster, all the while uttering a marrow-freezing shriek that caused a chill to settle over the massed audience. The Baraboo acted with the cat-like quickness of his kind. In a flash, he had positioned himself between Clive and the monster, spear point ready. 

    Carried by its own headlong inertia, the zorag screamed it death-agonies. Jal-mar’s weapon tore clean thought the upper jaw of the proto-whale penetrating its primitive brain. Already slain, the head of the monster crashed down onto the fur-pelted warrior, pinning him beneath. The great, elongated body of the proto-whale thrashed and writhed, as though possessed of a near-reptilian vitality, though clearly the beast had fur and was a mammal. 

     Above them, among the tiers of the arena, the crowd was cheering thunderously causing their ears to smart. Apparently the unexpected outcome of the entertainment had found favor with them. 

    Dazed for a second, Clive gained his feet, and pulled the Baraboo clear.

    “My thanks, friend Clive,” he said. 

    “Don’t mention it,” said Clive. “If you hadn’t been there, he would have had me.”

    They turned to address the girl. Clive gaped. She was indeed an exotic raven-haired beauty, and of alluring proportions. 

    “Leave her,” Friend Clive, he heard Jal-mar say. “I leapt into the arena to save your life, not hers. She is one of the women of this strange tribe to whom you and I are prisoners. Therefore, she is an enemy. I would have allowed the zorag to eat her.” 

     “But the Cid, our captor, wanted her killed.”

    “Then that is his business, my friend. Ours is to save ourselves. We may now end up as food for more such beasts.” 

    But Clive addressed the girl. She was still gaping at him, seemingly out of fear and incredulity at his and Jal-mar’s feat, though she somehow appeared the haughty, imperious type. “Are you all right, Miss?”

     “W-why did you save me?” she asked. “To defy Borak is certain death!”

     “Maybe. But we are already his prisoners, and he may well kill us anyway. I could not just let you die now, could I?”

     Her eyes grew then into hateful, catlike slits. “Then, red-haired warrior you are a fool. You would have done well to listen to your ape-like friend! You should have let the zorag have me. I shall be killed anyway, for I no longer wish to please the Cid. You have given your life for nothing.”

    Clive was about to retort to the girl’s sneering reply, when his found his arms roughly seized. Two guards had been summed at Borak’s command, and had leapt down into the arena. They now had Clive’s and Jal-mar’s arms pinned behind their backs. 

    But the sound of hoarse, rough laughter caused Clive to glance up at the spectator’s box. To his astonishment, Borak was not glaring at them in fury, as he would have supposed, but was laughing uproariously. What it was about the incident that had struck the man as funny, he did not know. Soon he and his companions were once more dragged thither and locked within their cells. 

     They remained there, until some indeterminate time later, during their sleep period, they were awakened by a rapping at the cell door. Thinking it was the guard, Clive got to his feet and looked out. 

    He was surprised to see the beautiful, dusky face of Nasheema starring in at him. 

     “Psst! Come here!” the girl whispered shortly. 

     Clive approached the door. “Why are you here?”

   “Because of you and the monkey-man, Cid has decided to spare my life. That means I twice owe it to both of you. But especially you—for you are brave and handsome, unlike him. What is your name my warrior, and from what tribe do you hail?” 

     “My name is Clive Neville. This is Alistair Simmons” he indicated the aged professor. “The furred warrior is named Jal-mar, and I would thank him. It was he, not myself, who slew the zorag and saved your life.” 

    “True.” She murmured. “But if not for you, the beast would have killed me, as even Jal-mar was content to let it.”

    Clive said nothing for she was correct in this much, at least. 

     “I hate the Cid. I was once his favorite harem girl. But he has become obsessed with certain savage girl who has managed to escape him—a stuck-up, spoiled hussy, all thighs and hips and a pouty little face! Even now, the man thinks only of her! The last time he reminded me of him I spit in his face, and he struck me! Then I cursed him, and all who would spring form his loins. It was then he decided he had tired of me, and had me fed to beasts in the arena! But for you, my handsome stranger of an unknown tribe, Nasheema should be dead! Promise you will stay with her, and allow her to please you, and I will lead you to freedom.”

    Clive did not entirely trust this cunning vixen of a girl. By her own admission she was jealous, spiteful, and capable of treachery. And though she might be attractive, he had no desired to betray Jahlanna. Still, if they remained here their chances of survival were slim at best. 

    “Do you know the way out?”

      “Nasheema does! There is a secret tunnel from this palace that leads inland. Few slaves and harem girls know of it, as sometimes goods such as ourselves are brought into the city by this means, to avoid roving war parties!”

    “Then show us the way out!” Clive hissed. 

    “Answer me first, red-hair! Will you be mine, to have and to hold, once we are free?”

    “I will do anything you ask.” Clive said. “Only get us out of here.” 

    Nasheema’s full lips curled up in a wry smile. “I knew you were a man of intelligence as well as looks and bravery. Soon you will be free and we shall be safely beyond Korsar.” 

    Nasheema unlocked the cell. They followed out and into the maze of tunnels beneath the city. Nasheema knew where there were guards posted, and she looked warily about in order to avoid them. Then they came to a wood door, the entrance to a tunnel.

    “This is it,” she informed them. 

   She opened the door—it proved unlocked—and ushered them inside. 

    They found themselves in a rectangular chamber, of stone and mortar as were all the rest. Here there were some sticks for torches and barrel of pitch, situated here for the purpose of ushering slaves and cargo to and from the city. 

    Shortly, each of their torches was ablaze with burning pitch. With Nasheema in the lead, they plunged, all four of them, into the waiting tunnel. 

   Here the walls were of rough stone, and there were no torches or braziers lighting the way, other then those they carried. Naked, squawling slurrals skittered out of their passage, eyes shining redly in the light of their blazing brands.  

      At last, they came to a dead end in the tunnel. A series of rusty iron rungs ascended upward. 

    “We are now out of the city,” Nasheema told them. The others doused their torches. Holding her torch aloft, she ascended into the gloom. Clive went next, followed by Jal-mar, and then Simmons. The shaft seemed to go on for a good many feet before at last they heard Nasheema bang the flat of her hand against a kind of metal covering. For a fearful second Clive wondered if the exit was sealed. But Nasheema strained upward, and managed to push off the cover. Daylight of Pellucidar poured in, nearly blinding them

    The girl crawled through, and put out her firebrand. Once they were all out and blinking in the daylight, she told them. “Come, I will lead all of you away from the city. Borak may know of our escape by now, and may be sending his guards in pursuit. 

    They saw they were now in the midst of a dense jungle, though even here the light seemed very fierce. But once their eyes had time to adjust, they made haste in following the girl. 

   Before they had traversed very further, however, it seemed that they had little to worry them as far as the possibility of pursuit. A cracking roar rent their eardrums, a sound seldom heard within Pellucidar. 

   Glancing back at the towers and spires of Korsar, visible over the trees, they saw that some huge projectile had evidently rammed into the huge wall surrounding the city. 

    Clive scented something he knew well, the acrid odor of gun power. There was then another deafening boom, followed by the cries of men, seemingly both from behind the wall and without. Most surprisingly there followed the deafening roars of beasts, the bellowing of some unknown, but evidently huge behemoth, and the shrill trumpeting of mammoths. 

    Evidently, Korsar was under siege by some unknown and powerful foe, evidently possessing technology unguessed by the other tribes of the inner earth, superior even to that of the Korsars. 

    “It is the men of Sari!” Nasheema cried. “Only they possess the weaponry to stage an attack on Korsar!”
    Clive heart leapt in his throat. “You ... you mean it is the Sarians who are attacking the city?”

     Nasheema nodded. “Indeed, my warrior. The Sarians possess strange and powerful weapons, unlike the other tribes. Borak will not pursue us now. But we must be certain we do not risk being captured by the Sarians.”
    “Why must we fear them?”

    “The same reason we must fear any people other than our own. Do not be foolish. ”

    Clive said nothing.

     “But we are far from the country of the Sarians,” Alistair Simmons said. “Remember the map I showed you? It lies upon the opposite side of the Korsar Az.”

    “Then what are they doing staging an attack upon a city so far from their own.”

    “Your guess, my boy, is as good as mine.” 

    The forest had begun to peter out into a park-like area. Not far off, open plains could be glimpsed. From there they heard the noise as of a vast army. 

     “Well, we might as well make contact with them.” Clive said. 

    Simmons nodded. 

    “The girl does not trust them.” Jal-mar said. “And though I have little love for her, I suspect she may be right. They are an enemy tribe, after all, and must possess powerful weapons indeed to attack such a tribe as that of our recent captors. Are you certain we can trust them?” 

    “I assure you we can.” said Simmons. “The Sarians are not like Pellucidar’s other tribes, though they once may have been. You will understand shortly, my friend.”

    They crept to the edge of the forest, where it merged into open grassland. The sight which greeted them was astounding. 

     A vast army of mighty behemoths were lumbering over the mighty plain. The largest were gigantic long-necked dinosaurs of the sauropod variety. Their deep-toned bellows were the same as Clive had heard earlier, and had been unable to identify. But most astonishingly, the great plodding behemoths each bore upon its mighty humped back a full squadron of armed human warriors. Some of these carried spears of metal, but others carried what looked to be long rifles. All the men wore some manner of steel armor which flashed in the sun, unlike the fur and leather garments worn by most of Pellucidar’s tribes. Too there were great shaggy tandors, more numerous than the sauropods, with mighty curling ivory tusks. These mighty beasts, too, carried human warriors upon their broad sloping backs. But also there were ground troops. An armada of human foot soldiers marched ahead of the mounted soldiers. These too, were armed with spears and guns. And there was cavalry as well, galloping alongside the great beasts of war. The horses they rode were modern in that they were full-sized Equs, but resembled the wild horses of Ice Age Eurasia more than any domestic breed. 

    It was a vast, stunning and incredible sight, even within this lost world of marvels. 

      “Let us flee before we are seen,” Nasheema said. 

     “There is no need to fear, my girl,” Alistair told her. “The Sarians are a peaceful tribe.”

    The girl shot the old man a scornful look. “Peaceful? Hah! What do you know old man? No tribe is peaceful. Is that why they are making war upon their foes, even as we are observing?”

     “Alistair has studied the Sarian race,” Clive told her. “I would guess if the Sarians are attacking Korsar, they have some good reason to do so. They are almost certainly not the aggressors.”

     As they looked on, they witnessed some of the Sarians pulling canons at the fore of the horde. There were more explosions as the missiles blasted the wall of the city. 

     “It would not be wise to interrupt them in the heat of battle,” Jal-mar observed. 

    Clive and Simmons had to assent that he might be right, so they simply stayed their ground while the battle raged. 

    As it turned out, the battle was a short one. The cannon-blasts ceased, and the Korsars appeared to have surrendered. The army paused.

    At that moment, some of the troops in the rear appeared to have noted them. They gave excited shouts. One of the great tandors lumbered massively in their direction. 

    Jal-mar cautioned them to flee, but Alisatair assured them that all would be well. They all emerged out in full view of the army. 

    Clive himself had some doubts as the mammoth beast approached. Nasheema did not flee, but stood bravely facing them, though she clung securely to Clive’s arm. 

      The warrior in command of the mammoth reined it to a stop. He wore the armor of sari, emblazoned with the Sari Tandor emblem on the front. But he was unmistakably a stone-age warrior, with a shock of black hair, and a stern but not unhandsome face, much like Tarok of Nu-al. He was a youthful man also, who appeared to be in his mid-twenties by surface-world standards. His fierce blue eyes examined them coldly. “A red-haired, pale-skinned warrior, an old man, a warrior of a race of which I am not familiar, and a girl of the same race as Korsar. Who are you, and what are you doing in our land?”

     “We are travelers who have lost our way.” Alistair Simmons explained. “We were searching for the land of Sari, which was founded, so I have read by a surface man like ourselves. The young man and myself are from the surface. Jal-mar is a member of tailed race that inhabitants an isolated plateau, far from here. The girl—Nasheema is her name—helped us recently to escape from the city of Korsar.”

     The warriors gaze studied each of them. He lingered the most upon Nasheema, though it was clear this was not because she was an attractive female, but because, from the apprehension that shown in his eyes, he recognized this girl as somewhat not entirely trustworthy. 

    At last, however, he appeared satisfied that they were, as a group, a trustworthy bunch. “I am Dangar of Sari,” The warrior informed them. “This army hails from the land you seek. But we are far from there. If you are seeking Sari, how came you here, to the land of the Korsars?” 

     “We were searching for a young woman, the mate of my friend Clive Neville, who was abducted by the Korsars. It is a rather long story, but the girl ended up captured by another fugitive, and we ourselves wound up as the Cid’s prisoners."

      The warrior smiled in grim amusement. “If you agree, I shall take you to see Emperor Innes. He is the surface man of whom you speak.”

    “He is here now.”

    “Indeed he is. He will be interested in hearing more of your tale, as am I.”

    Dangar ordered the great beast to lower itself, and admit the four travelers aboard. 

   Shortly thereafter, the entire Sarian army turned around, their business with Korsar, whatever it had been, apparently finished. 

    Some distance out upon the plains, the army settled down to camp. Danger led them to the tent occupied by David Innes, Emperor of Pellucidar. 

    They found him seated upon a folding chair. He was a relatively young-looking man of indeterminate age, though he had been in charge of what was now a mighty empire for what must have amounted to many years since he had first discovered this lost world at the earth’s core, along with his friend, the scientist and inventor, Abner Perry. His hair was fair, and shortly cropped in military fashion, unlike Dangar who still retained his savage locks. 

      “These travelers I discovered at the edge of the Korsar nation.” said Dangar. “I think you might want to hear their story.”

      “I am very pleased to finally meet with your acquaintance, Mr. Innes.” Alistair Simmons said. He extended his hand in friendship. 

     Innes looked stunned. He extended his hand tremblingly. “My thanks,” He regarded the older man and then Clive. “Are you men from the surface?” 

     “We are,” Clive told him. 

      “Than I am most interested to meet you. Can you tell me what you are doing here, and how you came to be in Pellucidar.”

    “That’s a rather long story,” Simmons said. 

    They all sat cross-legged in the tent. Clive, Simmons, and occasionally Jal-mar, each told their parts of how they had come to be in this incredible inner world. They told of Clive’s work for National Geographic, of how they had entered Pellucidar through the polar opening. They told of their capture by Jal-mar’s people, and their subsequent flight and liberation. They told of how they had rescued princess Jahlanna of the far off country of Nu-al, and of the battle with the thipdar-riding Mulag. Innes seemed especially interested in the account of the fugitives of the Mahar race, and how they had used the Mulag to pray upon them. He seemed unaware of the existence of either of these two tribes however, nor of the strange race called the groags, who were endemic to that region. 

     They told of their quest for Sari, of the abduction of Clive’s new found mate by the Korsars, and of their capture and imprisonment by the seagoing Az-al. They told of their escape form that city, during which two of their friends, the Nu-al warrior Tarok and the slave-girl Valkara had apparently ended their lives in the belly of a zarith-az. They told of the disappearance of Jahlanna and the sagoth Mogor, and their own recent capture and flight from the city of Korsar. 

     Innes mused over the lengthy tale thoughtfully. Then he said, “If you are still searching for the missing girl, I will do all in my power to help you search for her. Pellucidar is a vast land, but one full of surprising coincidences, as I myself have discovered. As to the two companions you lost at sea—are you certain they are now dead?” 

    “I am afraid so.” said Alistair sadly. 

    “I would not be completely sure. One never can be in Pellucidar. Perhaps they will turn up in some unexpected fashion—sometimes even seeing can be mistaken. I will allow you to remain with us, until we return to Sari. Then I will see to it, that a means can be arranged to return you to the surface. But until then, my army has other business to take care of.”

     “Why were your men attacking Korsar?” Clive asked. 

     “While were camped during our last sleep period, the Korsars took captive four of our men, in hopes to wrest from them the secret of our gun powder. It is the sort of trick they have tried before. We would have torn the city apart if the Cid had not agreed to my demands that they be released. But now the men have been safely recovered.” 

     “Then you are not here to make war upon the Cid?” 

     “Not at all. Though I have little doubt he would conquer us, had he the chance. No, we are here on a rather special mission. And I believe perhaps you may be able to assist us.”

    “How is that possible?” asked Alistair.

   “You see, word has traveled form tribe to tribe that survivors of the great war with the Mahar race have built a city in the region of ice, to the north of here. The slimy winged reptiles-forgive me, I have long-standing bias against them—are believed to have developed a fantastic new weapon, with which they hope to once again subjugate the entirety of Pellucidar.  It is a kind of weapon similar to the sound cannon. Only instead of sonic vibrations, it somehow amplifies the natural mental powers of the Mahars themselves.”

    “Phenomenal.” said Alistair. “I would like to discover if it is true, and find study principles of such an extraordinary weapon.”

     Innes’ eyes grew hard. “I hope sincerely, that it is not true. It might well mean the enslavement of Pellucidar’s other sentient races if it is.” He paused. “There are even rumors of actual plans to conquer the surface world as well.”

     The claim was stunning. “Surely they are merely rumors,” Clive said.

    Innes shrugged. “They may well be. I do not want to cause you alarm. But the Mahars appear to now know a great deal of about the surface, far more than they once did. And it is because of tapping into the minds of men such as you and me. I’m afraid I share the most blame. I mistakenly took one of them to the surface once—Tu-ul-sa, Queen of Phutra, at the time of the Great War. She spared my life and that of my mate, which I cannot help but remain grateful. But she undoubtedly learned more of the surface than is healthy for its inhabitants. And if such a weapon is possible, then the implications are staggering. But since you have encountered the Mahars since they fled the empire, perhaps you can help us. I am especially interested in this new Mahar queen. I have never heard of her, but it is possible that she or another like her is the one planning to invade Sari with these new weapons. ”

     “Where is this new city of theirs?”

     “North of here, like I said. But it is concealed form human eyes. There are also rumors of another power base on the Dead World. This one, my lieutenant, Dangar, has confirmed as true. It is the city which he and his mate once escaped from. It is where the sound-canons were built. But we cannot reach it because no vehicle we have can travel high enough, not even a hot air-balloon.  We do not wish to risk the lives of a search party either. But my friend Abner Perry is at this moment working on a new kind of zeppelin, in which a party of armed warriors may able to reach the moon of Pellucidar without difficulty”

     “We will be of service if we can,” Clive told him solidly. 

     Suddenly Jal-mar said, “The girl! She is gone! I warned you not to trust her!”

     They looked around. Sure enough, Nasheema had vanished! 
 

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