Erbzine.com Homepage
Official Edgar Rice Burroughs Tribute and Weekly Webzine Site
Since 1996 ~ Over 5,000 Web Pages in Archive
Volume 1724b

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

.
Part XII

   Things seemed to be going very well for Lu-gor of O-lar. 

   More well, in fact, than the brutish caveman would have been willing to admit. 

   Upon having been taking prisoner by the amazons of Azeer he had at first expected to be killed or enslaved. Instead, he found himself surrounded by adoring pubescent females. They massaged his shoulders, tucked fondly under his chin, gave him bowls of luscious fruit to eat. They told him over and over how terribly handsome he was, and how very strong and manly. Lu-gor might have indeed have been strong, but he was hardly handsome. But, not being overly bright, Lu-gor was not able to see it. With the drugged smoke form the braziers seeping into his nostrils, he soon slipped into deep and blissful slumber, where he remained for some indefinite time later. 

     Upon awakening, however, he found himself in a very different situation entirely. He was now strapped to heavy wood tabled, his wrists and ankles secured. He was in another of the Azeer huts, it appeared, but one larger than the rest. The warrior women of Azeer surrounded him on all sides. He saw that these were the seasoned warriors, not the maids who had tended to him. Zeera, the queen herself was there, as well as was Julaka. The latter was regarding him with a most unpleasant sneer on her lips. Julaka, Lu-gor correctly summarized, despised all males as fools and weaklings, but harbored a special hatred for him. It seemed worth it, to her, to have let Jarn escape so that Lu-gor could take his place as their prisoner. Lu-gor did not like what that forboded for him at all. 

      Zeera approached him, arrayed in her resplendent headdress. The Amazon gazed down at him in cold contempt. Then she raised a stone dagger. “Let the ritual commence!” she commanded. 

    Lu-gor lay bound and helpless. He expected her to plunge the dagger into his heart. But no, he realized suddenly. She was aiming too low. In fact, much too low. 

    The man let loose a scream of agonized horror. 

   “Wait!” cried Julaka. “Let him scream a while—I want to enjoy it!”

    A sneer curled on Zeera’s ripe lips, and she paused the descent of her knife. She looked gloatingly, for a mere moment, upon the cowering male prisoner. 

     At that moment, a curious thing occurred. Lu-gor had the most incredible sensation—like someone was probing his mind, intruding into his the thoughts, emotions and memories. That was not possible surely, yet that is what he felt, as though cold tendrils of alien thought were entering his crude and selfish brain. 

     Zeera said, “I understand, my sister. But remember—the ritual is the ritual. It must proceed as planned.”

    “Very well, my queen” Julaka said as she smiled horridly down at Lu-gor.  

     NO!

    The command was blast of pure mental thought. It was meant primarily for Zeera, but it so intense that it included the other women in the room, as well as the prisoner bound on the table. 

    Zeera was nearly bowled over by the blast. “What-what do you command---my Queen?”

     Queen? The perplexed Lu-gor had thought Zeera herself the queen here. And what mortal woman could communicate by speaking into the minds of others? 

       I have read the prisoners mind. I do NOT wish this man harmed. I command you to release him, whole and uninjured. 

     “We are to let him go?” cried Zeera. “But the ritual—“

     You can find other men. This one, I believe will prove useful to me and my kind. Relieve him of his bonds, and leave us. I would converse with him alone.

     Zeera reluctantly cut Lu-gor’s bonds. The women filed out, Julaka serving him one last glare of hate. 

    The smiled back tauntingly, but then remembered: he was to be left alone here in the hut with whoever it was who had spoken. Lu-gor felt his skin grow clammy as he sat up and faced the darkness at the other end of the hut. There was something there, he saw now—a vast ungodly shape in the thick shadows. The cowardly man felt his heart sink into this feet. 

    Then the thing emerged from the shadows. And what he beheld towering over him nearly caused him to vacate his bladder. 

      The thing was monstrous winged reptile, like a great reptilian vulture, with a beaked pterodactyloid head, lined with a terrifying array of teeth. 

     He knew it of course, for what it was. Of course! No other creature in Pellucidar was capable of what he had just experienced. 

     Immediately, Lu-gor fell upon his knees in a gesture of fawning sycophantry; the Mahars were a great and powerful race, that was all he knew, and though he had no more love of them than the average gilak this gesture seemed the most conducive to his own survival under the present circumstances. 

     I have read your mind, apeling. The voice within his skull said. And I see you have knowledge of a young member of your pathetic species named Jarn of Nu-al.

    That immediately captured Lu-gor’s attention. What interest could this reptilian monster possibly have with his beef with the Nu-al boy?

      I read form your memory, that the boy stole a mate that you intended to take for your own. This boy if of the Nu-al—the same tribe who overthrew the mighty Mahars of Zhuma.

     Lu-gor gulped. He had been aware of the rebellion, though he knew little of it. 

    My race desires vengeance upon all of the Nu-al tribe. But most especially against the red-furred apeling and his mate, and the old man who he calls his companion. It was they who staged the raid upon our city, and drove the underlings to revolt. We also desire to punish the youngling Jarn, who wounded our matriarch Ta-ru, in escaping. Do you not wish to punish him also?  

      Lu-gor had never met Clive Neville or Alistair Simmons, so he truly did not care fig about them. But Jarn—if there was any chance he could wreck vengeance on him, then he would do whatever the slimy reptile asked of, never mind the Mahar were mortal enemies of all human kind. 

      “Yes! I would gladly skin the brat alive, and make Jarla watch me do it!” 

     Then you shall have your wish. IF you do as you are told, and IF our plan of using you to capture The red-fur and his aged companion are successful. Do you agree apeling?

      “You’ll….let me have my revenge.”

      As promised, apeling. The mighty Mahars always keep our word—even to foolish gilak manlings such as yourself.

       A great ugly smile formed on Lu-gor’s lips. But in the following instant, he gave vent to a yelp of astonishment!

     And fear, as the mighty reptile launched itself forward to embed her talons in his back and flapping her fantastic wings, bore him aloft. 

     Lu-gor saw now that the hut has a great opening in the ceiling. The winged reptile beat her wings  mightily, up and out into the horizonless mists of the inner earth. Up and up the winged monster bore her captive.  

    Lu-gor nearly lost his lunch as he saw the treetop village of Azeer weave and dwindle beneath his feet.  As the winged beast beat her mighty pinions, the whole mighty forest grew distant, beneath him, as the terrified man began to kick and cry out instinctively.

    Do not struggle gilak. Calm yourself. I will not be responsible if you make yourself fall. 

    Lu-gor forced himself to remain calm, though his teeth were chattering frightfully. The wind whipped his long hair as it whipped dizzingly at him. He struggled mightily to keep his gorge down. 

   The beast was now flying at full throttle. The Mahars were great and powerful reptiles, and this one was burdened only slightly by the weight of her captive. 

     League upon league of unmapped splendor passed beneath them. Lu-gor could see the isle of the ape-pymgies, the savage Gurats set like an emerald in the blue of the distant lake. Onward the great pterosaur flew with her human burden, now following the mighty curve on the inner earth. Mountains, and rain forests, mighty plains and the silver threads that were mighty rivers ascended with them into the mists in the distance. The upcurving landscape gradually materialized as they flew. Breathlessly, Lu-gor took it all in. He witnessed the azure blue of a mighty sea that was Korsar Az grow within his panoramic vision. The blue of its twin, the Lural Az, shown further up, and to what passed for “east.” Between the soaring, incredible peaks of mighty mountains they flew, the granite crests of these spearing toward the eternal blaze of the heavens. 

   Lu-gor saw then, what he had never before witnessed, but heard of in many a tale -- still far distant, yet growing steadily larger, at the edge of the great ocean, was a massive sphere suspended above a region of eternal blackness, the Land of Awful Shadow. That immense orb could only be the fabled Moon of Pellucidar, which the inhabitants named the Dead World. It soon become dreadfully clear that the monster was flying directly for it. 

    Once again, though he was by now fairly accustomed to this curious method of travel, that Lu-gor felt his cowardly heart shrivel within his craven breast. For men who were borne to the Dead World by the dreadsome Mahar, or so the elders of his tribe often told, never returned. He might then have forgonehis agreement with the monstrous inhuman—let Jarn and the other of the Nu-al be damned. 

      But it was too late now, as he was borne inexorably toward that titanic orb by the mighty sentient pterosaur. The Dead World loomed awesomely now filling up the stunned caveman’s entire view above the soaring mountain peaks. 

   And he saw the supposed Dead World had mountains, rivers, and forests of its own. He saw the tiny forms of mighty thipdars, soaring over those mighty peaks. The great flying reptiles, each one capable of carrying off bull bos, appeared tiny as insects. As they neared the orb, and were dizzyingly pulled into the weird gravity of the miniature moon, Lu-gor could see the flying dragons more clearly. Apparently these had colonized the dead World form the mountains below—or perhaps they had been imported by the Mahars who often used thipdars and other pterosaur species as bloodhounds. 

   Some of the winged saurians, he saw were now unnervingly huge, but none attacked them: perhaps the Mahars mind control served to steer them away. As they hove over the swaying landscape, he saw other winged shapes, less familiar, and beasts lumbering on the surface as well apparently native to this world-within-a world-within a world. 

     The jungles, he now saw, were of weird, bizarre foliage, the product of a separate evolution contained within Pellucidar’s moon. And rising out of strange bluish vegetation there rose a strange stone city. 

    Now Lu-gor of O-lar had never seen stone architecture before, but even an archeologist of the surface would have been unable to identify it, for it precisely resembled no other work done by man—and it had not, in all likelihood, been the creation of any human race. 

     But most astounding were the innumerable green fluttering things which were swarming over the ruins like a horde of green blowflies. At first, Lu-gor supposed them to be some native species of winged reptile. But as they swooped nearer the ruins, seemingly as was the intent of the Mahar, he saw to his great astonishment, that they were actually some weird race of green-skinned winged humanoids. Their hairless shin-green bodies were diminutive, with grotesquely enlarged craniums, somewhat like infants, but more evil looking than any human infant ever conceived. 

   The sight of the swarming little horrors so near them caused Lu-gor’s skin to chill. The weird beings chattered as a vast throng, terrifying him. Then he realized that his mighty winged captor had sent an all-encompassing mental message to the horde. For as they continued their labored flight, a portion of the horde of infantile beings now accompanied them, flying along side, making obscene grins, and chittering in what Lu-gor unpleasantly supposed was a type of perverted laughter. He saw, too, that the strange beings, though nearly naked, wore slight blue or red clothes about their loins, and bore short curved swords wrought of some manner of metal. 

     Now a new sight rose into view above the blue tangle of alien jungle; two enormous, soaring pylons of white, quartz-like stone, mighty pillars which marked the entrance to a Mahar city, or colony, as this one surely was. 

    Lu-gor had never seen a Mahar city before, but he had heard that they were always below ground, or else deep in the bowls of mighty cliffs, as was the nearby city of Zhuma. Pillars such as these marked their location and entrance. It seemed at bit curious perhaps, that a race of winged reptilians should choose as their preferred dwellings underground chambers, but such was always the case. 

    They were hoving the air close to the moon’s surface now, as they glided toward the pillars. 

    The Mahar released Lu-Gor, and the man toppled gratefully to the ground. He lay there panting for several long moments—then he got to his feet. Something had changed. He felt…..lighter. 

   And in truth he was, for although Lu-gor could not have known that he was feeling the effects of the moon’s much diminished gravitational pull. That of Pellucidar and the surface world are roughly equal, but that of the Dead World is incredibly slight—which meant, although Lu-gor did not at first realize it, that his won abilities were vastly increased. 

    The horde of chittering creatures were now land around them. Some of them were pointing at Lu-gor and laughing at him, making what were surely unkind remarks in their language, which was nothing like Common. Suddenly enraged at being so apparently mocked after his terrible ordeal, the man kicked one of the things in the swollen paunch. 

    To his vast surprise, the blow sent the bizarre being hurtling across the clearing to smack into a large grayish boulder. The being toppled to the mossy turf. It was apparently uninjured, though greatly annoyed—it hissed wrathfully at Lu-gor and its companions approached, scowls on their faces. 

    But the hulking caveman was unafraid—his strength seemed to have vastly increased! But having no knowledge of the laws of gravity and such, he merely assumed that great powers had been bestowed upon him—by the Mahar most like, in return for his pledge of servitude!

    Lu-gor grinned, and beckoned to remainder of the horde, daring them to take him on. 

    He then felt a terrific mental blast from his new Lord. 

    NO! You must not ever strike a Wur-gal! They are the servants of the Mahars, and this world’s original inhabitants. Do it again, and my fangs shall rend you.

   “What is a Wur-gal?”

   They are Wur-gals. The small winged apelings who serve the Mahars. You shall respect them, gilak. Even they are above such as yourself.

   “Forgive me, my lord.” said Lu-gor his servile attitude returning. 

   Follow, me apeling. I shall take you to your new accommodations. 

   The great pterosaur, tent-like wings folded across her scaley back waddled deep into the entrance, and down into a bewildering array of tunnels, lighted at intervals by weird phosphorescent globes set into the limestone walls. Lu-gor followed like a brute beast, the horde of Wur-gals accompanying them. 

     Lu-gor did not enjoy their company much, and he did not enjoy the thought of what might await him down in this city of horror. Once again, he bitterly resented his bargain with the winged reptile, but he released that he might have ended up killed or castrated by the Azeer, and anyway, there was little else he could do. But even as he walked, Lu-gor, could feel himself nearly springing off the rough floor; his strength and even natural abilities had vastly increased. It much be a sign of the Mahar’s favor—how else could it be explained. And if so, the Mahars would surely reward him with much power and revenge if he proved a worthy instrument of vengeance. 

     They were now deep within the underground city. It structured remarkable similar to the city of Zhuma. There were other gilak slaves about, doubtless imported from the surface. There were a few sagoths here as well. But by far the most numerous were the tiny winged Wur-gals, waddling like obscene parodies of gilak children in the shadow of their monstrous overlords. 

    It was here that something—or rather someone— caught the hulking caveman’s immediate attention. 

    Another gilak captive—and a rather recent arrival, as this one still seemed vibrant and rebellious—was being herded along a corridor in the opposite direction as Lu-gor and his captors. 

     This captive happened to be a young, curvaceous, and very beautiful girl. 

    She was entirely naked, as was the case upon the moment of her capture. Lu-gor found himself stunned by the fantastic flare of the girl’s hips, which swung extravagantly beneath her lithe waist with her every stride. She had a proud aura about her, entirely unashamed of her nudity. She held her small and queenly head high upon her slim and elegant neck, chin rose in the air above her slim softly rounded shoulders and ripely plump pubescent breasts. Her face was like that child-like princess, though possess full and sensuous lips of soft crimson, and exotic almond-slanted eyes of a deep violet fringed with thick dark lashes. 

    The gaggle of waddling Wur-gals did not appear to appreciate the girl’s beauty, however. They herded her along, was though she were chattle. The tallest amongst them were as high only as her waist.. Like unsightly children they were, sneering at her, and making what must have been mocking or obscene comments in their own strange tongues. Even Lu-gor, bully that he was, found himself a bit revolted by them. The one behind the girl jabbed her unkindly in the rump with his sword, at which point the girl gave out a little squeal of offended dignity. She stopped to kicked out at the guilty creature, her pride blemished. The Wur-gal scuttled out of the way, smirking, as the girl glared at him, whilst rubbing her smarting fanny. 

     The remainder of the creatures burst into a chorus of chittering , which Lu-gor assumed must pass for laugher. They kept on herding the girl, as she attempted to shield her precious posterior form further injury—a most comical sight indeed. It was particularly trying, as the whole gabble of hideous dwarf-creatures had not joined in the fun of poking her prodigious rump. 

     “ Nergaht Stitz!”

     One of the little creatures herding Lu-gor snarled up at him. The unsightly caveman glared back, but went on walking, no longer looking at the girl who was obviously a prisoner.

    But he kept thinking about this girl. In fact, he was already obsessed with her. Gods, she was a magnificent one! And here in the city with him. All thoughts of recapturing Jarla and revenging himself on Jarn faded from Lu-gor’s none-too bright mind. Let the brat keep her. 

   This was the girl he wanted!

    The great winged reptile was still waddling ahead of them. 

    “Mahar!” Lu-gor cried. “Lu-gor has changed his mind—I no longer want the reward you promised me. I have another request instead!”

     What thing do you desire, apeling? Came the numbing pulse of the thing’s brain. Do not try my patience!

     Lu-gor gulped at this, but he said. “I want the female we just passed. I want her for my mate!”

     There was a pause. Then: What female? There are many gilak captives here. Most are destined for our experiments. Some are for the feeding pool. If she passed going the other way, I believe that is where they are taking her.

   “What? No! I want her!”

   The great reptile abruptly turned and sent a mind-numbing waving of pure thought crashing into him: Silence!
  Lu-gor crashed to the floor. The Wur-gals skittered and drew back in fright. 

    “For-forgive me, o master!” Lu-gor muttered in a deeply subservient tone. 

     Good. But do not worry. The gilak female is yours IF you prove useful to us. I will arrange to have the  female spared.

     Jahlanna of Nu-al—for of course this was young beauty Lu-gor had so admired, was by now more than a bit tired of being kidnapped. These new green-skinned bat-things revolted her the most so far. There was something about them that was simply abhorrent. They were like grotesque parodies of human children, their hissing slits if mouths, and razory piranha like teeth being particularly unsettling. That they did not seem to show any real lust toward her, as a male of he own species would have,  relieved the girl a bit. But their treatment of her—and that they seemed to be making fun of her like a pack of grubby little boys,  and seemed to have no regard for her beauty—less even than a human child would have—made her furious. 

     At length, the pack of foul little green-things poked and prodded her through a door in the wall. She gave a few defiant shrieks in their direction, before, giggling, they shut her in. 

    Little monsters! The cave-princess muttered to herself, as she rubbed the heavy flesh of her injured posterior, which by now was covered over with undignified sore places. 

    She observed her new surroundings. She was not in another room, but a huge chamber. Though Jahlanna could not have known this, it resembled greatly an exhibit in one of the zoos of the surface world zoos—a simulated habitat enclosure. The Wur-gals had ushered her through a back entrance—one which the keepers would use, if this had in fact been a zoo exhibit. She saw she was stranded upon a miniature rocky island made of simulated stone. Away from the wall, the island was surrounded on all sides by water. To the fore of the chamber she could discern a great sloping pane of transparent glass-like material, similar to that of the cell she and Clive had been imprisoned in Zhuma. She could see the traffic in the city “streets” actually moving beyond the glass pane—the small waddling green things, and the great hunched forms of their masters. 

    But in the enclosure….

     There were other humans like herself on the island. They were obviously of Pellucidaran tribes from the surface of the inner earth. Most had the ebony tresses as were the most common in Pellucidar, though some had blond, auburn, or even dark red hair. All were lithe tanned and handsome men and women, obviously a recent capture. But they all appeared in a state of deep apathy sitting or standing around on the rocks. And plying the water were the great forms of the Mahars, the self-proclaimed lords of Pellucidar. 

    Jahlanna had never in her life seen a place such as this before. But she knew at once what it was of course.

    A Mahar feeding pool.

     “Ah, A new arrival.” She heard a voice say. “A pretty young thing…such a shame her life must end here, with the rest of us.”

      Jahlanna turned, her ebony tresses whirling, as she took notice of a fellow prisoner she had not seen at first. 
     He was a very old man with a long and silken-looking white beard and hair. His face was deeply lined, and his eyes were large watery-looking and wide, though he seemed in a state of despair, just were the others here. He was sitting on nearby slab of stone. The girl saw that his limbs were frail and wasted in appearance. 

     “Hello…” Jahlanna ventured, surprised. “My name is Princess Jahlanna…of Nu-al. Who are you? What…what is this awful place?” Though in fact, she knew already. 

     “My name is Ug-na, and this is a Mahar feeding pool. Most of the captives that are not killed in their experiments end up here. I have lived most of my life in this accursed city. I learned the art of writing from the Lords, so they permitted to live as a record-keeper. But I made the mistake of interceding on the behalf of a fellow prisoner, and at last my time is come.”

      “Writing, what is that?” the girl asked. 

    “A skill I learned from the lords, the Mahars. But it will do me no good now—for I am doomed. It does not matter much for me—I am tired of living. But it is unfortunate indeed one so beautiful and young as yourself should end up here.”

     A flush of anger filled the princess. “Why? Will you not fight back! I am a princess, and I will not be eaten by slimy reptiles!”

     Ug-na laughed mirthlessly. “Then how will you escape, my girl?”

     “I will fight them!” Jahlanna cried, filled suddenly with hot feminine fury. She turned form the old man at the despondent forms of the others gilak prisoners. 

      “Alas, my pretty she, there is no escape.” Ug-na told her. 

     “You!” She cried at them. “You worthless, flea-beaten jalok-curs! What’s wrong with you? Fight them! Do not allow yourselves to become food for these slimy-bird things! Get up! Fight!” 

          “No! Come back, girl!” The cry was a warning. 
               
      It was then that the princess felt a hideous wave of alien thought pass through her brain. And she whirled around, making the mistake of looking. 

    Before her, a few feet away, one of the hideous winged reptiles had selected a victim—her.  

    Her lips parted in an “O” shape, her almond eyes widening in pure terror. The inhuman reptile orbs burned deeply into her brain. Her lovely violet-hued eyes became dull and glazed, as the girl’s previously strong will fled her. 

    The Mahar rose up before her, like a monstrous reptilian demon, rivulets of water sluicing off its scaly hide. It was larger then most of the Mahar race, some part of her was aware. And broad bands of scarlet and yellow ringed its hideous beak. 

    But these were thoughts that floated absently though her half-awareness, as the girl strode helpless foreword to her waiting doom. Thoughtlessly, princess Jahlanna slipped into the water, wading in until she was up to her heavy thighs and broad hips. 

         The winged monster paused, as though to savor for a moment its victims helpless enthrallment. 

         Then it struck!
 

BACK TO NOVEL CONTENTS PAGE


BILL HILLMAN
Visit our thousands of other sites at:
BILL & SUE-ON HILLMAN ECLECTIC STUDIO
ERB Text, ERB Images and Tarzan® are ©Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.- All Rights Reserved.
All Original Work ©1996-2006 by Bill Hillman and/or Contributing Authors/Owners
No part of this web site may be reproduced without permission from the respective owners.