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
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.
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
“We are to let him go?” cried Zeera. “But the
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
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
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
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
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
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
“Forgive me, my lord.” said Lu-gor his servile attitude
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
“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
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
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
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!