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
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
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
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
“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
“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
The two men clapped one another on the back.
“I am certainly glad to have you back among us,” Clive
“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
‘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?”
“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.”