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Volume 1725a
Jahlanna of Pellucidar
A 175,000-word novel
by
Sean Edward Phillips
.
Part XIV

     Beneath the unblinking orb of eternal noon, a mighty conglomeration giant prehistoric beasts plodded. Only within Pellucidar, the incredible world within our own, could giant woolly pacadermic brutes of the Pleistocene be seen lumbering alongside grotesque saurian behemoths of the Jurassic. These were gargantuan herbivorous dinosaurs, with enormous long necks, reared upon which ridiculously small heads. The great slopping olive-green bulks of their mountainous backs each carried an entire troop of armored warriors. Amongst these strode additional warriors on mammoth back, all bearing swords spears and muskets. Their armor and helms flashed in the eternal sun. For these were Sarians, formerly a stone-age tribe like the vast majority of others within Pellucidar. But unlike the others, the Sarians now had a vastly advanced technology compared to their counterparts. 

      Upon the lead mammoth, a fine beast with a mighty domed skull and magnificent curling tusks, rode David Innes, formerly of the surface world, king of Sari and emperor, his armored breastplate bearing the Sarian Mammoth insignia. On the mammoth beside him rode Lieutenant Dangar. Behind him rode Clive Neville, Alistair Simmons and Jal-mar. 

     “I had never thought such things were possible,” the tailed warrior said. “I now realize that when you told me of the accomplishments of the Sarians, I only half-believed the truth of your words.”

     “What did I tell you?” said Alistair. 

    Clive nodded at the giant saurians plodding alongside them. “That’s one dinosaur species I’m already familiar with, Alistair. Brontosaurus, right? The biggest of them all. Only seeing them—they’re even more gigantic than I ever dreamed! I can’t believe humans have trained to ride on them.”

    “Actually, Clive my boy,” Said Alistair “I believe those brutes are actually of the species Diplodicus, rather than the Brontosaurus. They’re a bit longer in the body, I believe. And the shape of their skulls are most similar to the Diplodocus. The brontosaurus had a blunt, squarish muzzle, not unlike the closely related camarasaurus. But you’re not far off—the two species are really very similar.” 

      Dangar glanced back to them over his shoulder. “We know the great reptiles as lidi,” he said “Whatever name they go by in your own lands. The Thurians of the plains are the first humans to have managed to domesticate them for riding purposes. The Sarians merely copied the Thurians, once an allegiance was formed between our two peoples.”

    The great caravan continued “north.” Even the mightiest predators of the inner-earth steered clear of attacking such a vast assortment of men and beasts. They were hoping to uncover rumors of a hidden Mahar base located near the rim of Pellucidar itself—on the cusp of the polar opening. An actual invasion of the outer world seemed improbable—but still, they needed to know. 

    Before long, the lead warriors spotted something curious. They had entered region of open park-like forest. A man and woman, apparently fleeing for their lives, up a sloping incline to the side of the plain. And behind them—
     The beast pursuing the warrior and his mate was a gigantic carnivorous reptile of titanic proportions. It walked upright on two gigantic striding legs. Its forelimbs were abbreviated to the point of appearing almost comical. The thing’s head, appearing to consist of nothing but gigantic grinning reptilian jaws, reared fully twenty-five feet above the turf. 

    The fleeing couple’s tactic—that of gaining high ground at the expense of their gigantic pursuer, did seem to slow the monster some, but the beast continued in pursuit, hideous head lowered, jaws gaping to emit a thunderous hiss of anticipation. 

     “What manner of beast is that, Dangar?” Clive asked him. “I can’t quite recall the Pellucidaran name, but I believe I recognize it—a tyrannosaurus rex!”

     “I believe you are correct in identifying that beast,” said Alistair beside. “It does indeed appear to be a tyrannosaurus, or else something very like it.” 

    “It is a zarith,” said Dangar, his voice flat and ominous. “They are, fortunately, few in number, and seldom encountered by men, thank the gods. Else they should destroy all other forms of life within Pellucidar—as this one will destroy the man and woman, if we do not stop him in time.”

    “I’m with you, Dangar,” said Clive. “Surely, your powerful enough to stop that beast.” 

    “I fear that incline will make it difficult, however,” said Dangar, as he urged his mammoth foreword to the rescue. 

   David Innes had already urged his beast in pursuit, however. The rest o the army was following. 

      The warrior and his mate had ascended a good distance beyond the tyrannosaurus, but still the beast seemed undaunted in his single-minded pursuit of the two mammalian morsels. 

     At last, the humans found themselves backed against a towering cliff. They turned to face the hulking carnivorous reptile, in a hopeless stand-off. The man and woman were still a good distance away from Clive and Simmons, but they could see that the man looked to be a lithe lean specimen of his race, in his early to mid twenties perhaps, and the girl about the same age. Both were garbed in primitive loincloths, and the man held a stone ax. He had a shock of wild brunette hair, and the girl was blonde. They were taking a valiant stand against the oncoming brute. But no stone-age weapon could hope to even flinch such an adversary as a zarith. 

     But the army of David Innes was far better armed than was the young couple. Already the mighty mammoths, bred for battle, were lumbering up the side of the hill. 

    The tyrant lizard, formerly confident that his prey could not hope to escape, now turned to face the army of advancing behemoths following its wake. Craning its monstrous head back, the zarith bellowed deafeningly, as though warning the army to stay back. 

    But Innes urged his tandor toward the enraged dinosaur. Dangar closed his mammoth upon the monster’s other flank. The remainder of the army followed suit. 

     Now the tyrannosaur swerved tremendously about in a face off. It through its head forward, and screamed mightily.  The two mammoths raised their massive trunks and trumpeted in answer to the zarith’s challenge. Now some of the Sarian cavalry galloped to the fore, swordsmen and riflemen. The soldier pointed their muskets at the towering form of the armored reptile. 

    The zarith held back, sizing up the approaching army of huge herbivores ridden by puny mammals, like the two mammals it had been engaged in pursuing. 

     The cavalrymen readied their rifles, aiming squarely at the whitish, unprotected belly of the behemoth. 

     “Fire!!” roared Innes. 

     The muskets cracked, releasing acrid plumes of smoke into the primal dawn-world air. 

    The zarith screamed mightily a the misty sky, but hardly fell dead. 

    It lumbered forward. 

   The cavalry soldiers galloped into two formations, surrounding the towering behemoth. 

   The zarith stopped and swiveled its Volkswagen-sized head about. The monster appeared more confused than anything else. 

     Again the riflemen fired, riddling the dinosaur’s hide with bullets. Some ricocheted harmlessly off the armor-plated hide, but some found weak portions in the dinosaur’s pebbled scales, folds of skin in the neck and belly, but even these seemed to cause the animal only minor discomfort. 

     The cavalrymen bearing spears cast these at the enraged brute. The tyrannosaurus screamed once more, then charged them. 

    The other squadron of cavalry closed in, casting their spears at the creatures flank. The beast swerved to attack as more warriors rode up and cast more spears, until the zarith’s hide bristled with metallic shafts. 

     Giving vent to strident battle-cries soldiers at the fore urged their steeds into a full-throttle gallop, charging directly at the dinosaur’s belly, as the beast snapped at those were currently spearing at its right flank. They drove their spears directly into the dinosaur’s belly, entering the beast's vitals. 

     The zarith uttered one last final scream at the ghastly heavens, and then tottered on its mighty hind-limbs, as he soldiers galloped at of the way. 

    The bullets and pears were finally have their effect on the towering behemoth. In fact, it was likely already dead, but that knowledge had yet to reach its brain. It uttered another weak cry, then toppled forward to crash to the spongy turf like a felled redwood. 

    The mounted soldiers rode up toward where the cornered man and woman had taken refuge. They were still poised for combat, believing doubtless, that these strange warriors were to be feared as they were of an unknown people. 

     “Now we will see who almost became the zarith’s meal,” Dangar said.

    Clive, still on Dangar’s mammoth, said nothing, but could not help but wonder—he could almost swear that he recognized the young warrior and his mate! But no, that could not be possible. Those people he thought he recognized were dead--they had to be. This was in another part of Pellucidar, besides, a good distance from the shore of the Korsar Az. 

        Innes gave a sudden signal to Dangar, who returned it, and then signaled the remainder of the troops. “We will make camp now.” He told Clive and his friends. “Let us hope the rescued warrior and his mate will prove our allies.” 

      Once camp had been made, and the tents set up, Dangar told Clive and Alistair. “ I have word of the man and woman whom we rescued from the zarith’s jaws.”

    ‘What of it?” 

    “The warrior’s name is Tarok of Nu-al. Is he the same warrior of whom you spoke?”

    Clive, Simmons, and Jal-mar were dumbfounded by the news. “He must be” said Clive, “For surely there is no other Tarok of Nu-al. In fact, I thought I may have recognized him. But I do not know he could have survived.”

     “If it is he, then I imagine he has quite a tale to tell you.”

    “Then bring him!” 

    In a moment, Tarok and Valkara—for or course it was they—arrived in the tent. 

    “Clive…?” Tarok wondered, as he recognized his red-haired friend. 

    “Clive!” cried Valakra, her large blue eyes going wide. “I…we feared you were dead!”

    “Tarok! And Valkara…!” Clive exclaimed. “We thought that you were! We saw that shark eat you—swallow you whole!”

    “Tarok’s hard face smiled grimly. “That it did, my friend. But it takes more than one overgrown shark to finish a warrior of Nu-al.”

    The two men clapped one another on the back. 

   “I am certainly glad to have you back among us,” Clive said. 

   “As am I. I never thought I would see you again.” 

    All of them sat down on the floor of the tent, as they listened to Tarok’s and Valkara’s tale. They told of how they escaped—literally from the belly of the az-zarith, of their capture and escape from the race of jalok-headed men, how they discovered their desire for one another, and of their encounter with the tyrannosaurus.”

    “So these are men of Sari,” Tarok said. “When Simmons told us of them, I had no idea what they were really like I never pictured anything like this—spears that flash in the sun, sticks, like the thing you call “pistol”, that speak thunder and smoke, and able to tame the great behemoths of the plains!” 

     ‘”Tell us again of those beasts that captured you,” Simmons said. ‘They were humanlike you say, with the heads of hyeanodons?”

    Tarok shrugged. “That is how best I can describe them. We had not seen their like before, or heard of them.”

      “I have heard of them,” Dangar said. “From your descriptions, and the country you were in, I believe that they are called “Snarks.” Indeed they are a savage and bestial race. I myself have never encountered them, nor do I wish to. Prisoners taken by them are said never to return.” 

     “We are indeed fortunate to escape. But Valkara—who is now my mate—is a brave and resourceful warrior maid. We battled our way to freedom. The things were very ruthless, and without apparent honor. You should have seen how they set upon the tarask with their teeth and claws.” 

      ‘Where is Jahlanna, the princess who was supposed to be in love with you.” Valkara asked Clive. “Do not tell me she found a new mate!”

     “She is…not here,” said Clive sadly. He told here their adventures since they had last parted. “The Sarians have agreed to let us search for her. We were hoping to come upon her somewhere in this area. But Innes’ army is headed north on a mission. There is rumor that the Mahars are building a power-base in the north. Innes plans to find out of the reports from that region are true.”

     “Then you are headed towards the lands of my people,” said Valkara.

    “Do you know of any strange activity in your country?” asked Dangar.

   “No. But I left my people long ago. I do not know what has taken place in my country since then.” 

     “If we are headed there, so much the better,” opined Tarok. “We have already found Clive, and I am looking forward to meeting with your people.”
 

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