Clive and Jahlanna were this time
given their own cell. Clive reflected that perhaps the Mahars were waiting
to see if he would spare the life of his enemy once he was defeated. Doubtless,
they had witnessed many other gilak males engaged in mate battle, and were
eager to see what he, a peculiar specimen who had caused them loads of
trouble, would do.
Clive told the girl of the adventures
that had befallen him and his companions since they had been separated.
He told of their capture by the Korsars and their flight from the city
by Nasheema—though he left out the part about him saving the girl’s life.
He told of the legions of Sari, and their pursuit of the Mahar to the great
steppes of the north. He told her how the Mahar had apparently designed
weapons with which they could possibly conquer the empire—and possibly
the outside world as well. The Dead World itself was of fair proximity
to Sari, and he believed that they might launch their attack very soon.
She told him, often shudderingly, of the terrible
things that had befallen her—of how Mogor, the sagoth had pursued her,
and how she had been subsequently captured by the brutal caveman Gorag
and how Gorag had been impaled by the hideous gyrnk, and how Mogor had
captured her again, and then how the suffered captivity again at the hands
of the loathsome Wurg-gals of the Dead World, and how they had brought
They kissed longly and lovingly, many times.
They rested in each other’s comforting arms. And they mated. The first
time they had done so, they had both been captives of the Mahars in the
city of Zhuma. Now again, they were captive by the same inhuman enemies,
and somehow that made their lovemaking all the more fierce, like that first
For what may have been hours
on end Clive remained buried within the thrusting carnal might of Jahlanna
of the Dawn Age. On the surface, he had made love to a few women in his
college years—but nothing could approach what he felt mating with this
innocent, savage goddess. The first time it had been staggering, beyond
dreams, and thus it was once again. She worked her mighty hips and pygia
with massive power, sending waves of Heaven crashing over her lover, drowning
him in hot oceans of carnal bliss.
It was sometime later, after they had fallen asleep
in each others’ arms; there was a rap at the cell door.
Clive and the girl sat up.
The man rubbed his eyes as the two sagoth guards entered once more. “The
Great Ones once again request your presence in the arena.”
Clive was astonished. “Who am I to fight
this time?” he asked rather sarcastically.
“You do not need to participate. But
the Lords request that you and the girl be seated in the audience.”
Clive was about to argue, but then decided
that the request appeared to be an order. And they might as well get out
of this cell for a while. It might also me advantageous to see just what
the so-called Lords were up to now.
They were escorted to the arena of Xuthrah,
this time up a ramp that led to the stadium. Both Clive and the girl were
given the best view, the seats directly beneath the three monstrous rulers.
The tiers of the stadium, by the way, were not so much seats as in the
sports stadiums of the world Clive knew. They were only a series of stone
tiers for the audience to sit, and the Lords themselves to perch.
Did their position mean they were being accorded
a place of honor after what had occurred? He had earlier thought that the
reptiles were incapable of honor, but he did not really know. Of what import
were they here at all? Somehow Clive believed that it was not merely for
The arena door opened.
Out into the glare of the noonday sun strode a human
warrior. There was nothing in particular striking about the man, save his
He appeared to be over eight feet tall. At
first Clive supposed that he must have been subjected to the weird technology
of the Mahars, the same instruments that had transformed the cowardly Lu-gor
into a muscle-bound colossus. But as he continued to observe the man, it
seemed that his condition must be congenital. Clive remembered reading
of “giants’ of his own world, men who suffered form glandular disorders
whose growth hormones were massively over-productive. This man appeared
to be one of these. He was powerful and lean, strong muscled, but not grotesquely
so, as Lu-gor had been after his transformation. His proportions were that
of a normal warrior, only of stunningly gigantic dimensions. His thick
wild tresses and great shaggy beard were of the same midnight hue as was
typical of Pellucidar’s tribes. About his loins was a cloth that appeared
to be fashioned from the zebra-striped antelope of Pellucidar. And he carried
in one enormous fist a monstrous stone ax, identical to the weapon employed
by the average-sized cave-warrior, only of titanic dimensions.
On the surface this man might have been
considered a curiosity, even a freak. Here in Pelluicdar, however, his
giant size had undoubtedly proved to his advantage over his fellow men.
“I am Hug-lo of Haglar, the Giant
One!” the man bellowed. “Who among the warrior slaves of the Mahar will
challenge, for the attentions of his female of choice?”
Clive heard some sighs of feminine admiration
go up from the crowd. He saw a gaggle of slave-girls off to his left a
few seats down, four typical brunettes, a blonde and a redhead, all comely.
They were cooing in admiration, each doubtless hoping that Hug-los’ mate
of choice would be herself. It is typical, especially in this world, for
the female to desire whichever mate affords her the most protection. And
who beter than this warrior, who looked as though he could halt a charging
But the Mahars were determined to allow
the warrior to demonstrate his skills anyway.
The gate of the arena lifted.
There followed several seconds of deep silence. Then—
A canapé of screeching and hissing issued form the
entrance. A pack of lean, swift bipedal reptiles poured forth form the
tunnel to dash out across the hard-packed sands, kicking up streamers of
dust with their clawed hind limbs. There were a dozen in all, each specimen
as tall as a man. Built upon the same general plan as the greater carnivorous
saurians, their lizard-like bodies scaled a sleekly brownish green, they
were incredibly fast, with powerful hind limbs, and strong, stiffly-held
tails. Though neither the surface-man of the early twentieth century, nor
the beauteous cave maid of the Dawn Age could have known it, they were
looking upon Deinonychus, a pack-hunting reptile of the late Jurassic,
a beast of savage ferocity and cunning reptilian intellect.
‘They are utgors,” Clive heard Jahlanna
say. “The great warrior is finished.”
“I would not be too sure.”
“You will see. The utgors are terrible killers.
They are not large, but they hunt in great packs. I have never seen one,
but I have heard they can slay a bull tandor.”
But in spite of the princess’s words, the giant
Hug-lo faced the charging pack of slavering reptiles unflinchingly, appearing
to challenge them to his might. As the first one attacked, the mighty man
was indeed ready. He clearly anticipated the manner of the attack, and
as the first utgor sprang, he delvers a shattering blow with the giant
ax. With a squealing cry the reptiles was sent flying across the arena
to lie writhing on the sand, its ribs shattered. The rest of pack attacked
Hug-lo in unison. The giant fended them off, smashing the beasts as they
flew at him, smashing ribs and spines. One of the reptiles landed upon
his massive shoulders. The giant merely reached back, and flung the hideous
thing to the ground then stomped down, messily crushing the saurian’s skull
to spurting ruin.
Soon the arena was littered with dead and dying utgors.
The last remaining pack member, seeing the fate of its brethren, thought
better of the attack and raced back within the tunnel.
“Ho ho!” roared the giant. “Is there anything else
the so-called Lords of Xuthrah wish to challenge my might?”
Clive wondered if the Mahars, cold and silent
as always, had caught the implied insult Hug-lo had hurtled at him.
Whether in response to this or not, once again the
arena door drew up, and once again a mighty monster form the vistas of
Time’s Dawn emerged forth.
This time it was a titanic, bellowing mammal, a mighty
bovine creature which Jahlanna told Clive was a gigantic plains-thag. It
was not of the same species as the common thag, which is synonymous with
the giant aurochs, the gigantic wild bull of the forests of primeval Europe.
Though referred to by the same name by the Pellucidarans, the beast which
was now pawing ferociously at the ground with a gigantic fore-hoof was
of the same species as the mighty long-horned bison of Pleistocene North
America, the monster once hunted by the ancient ancestors of the Cherokee
and the Apache. Its sweeping spread of horns was over twelve feet. Its
humped back loomed higher and heavier than that of a modern bull elephant.
When the creature bellowed, the deafening volume shook the Mahar amiptheater
to its foundations.
But again, Hug-lo stood his ground. Though
outbulked and outmatched by the monster, the giant, in what seemed a show
of pure bravado, tossed aside his giant ax. And awaited the beast’s charge.
While Clive had expected the caveman to attempt to fell the charging thag
with a single well-placed blow, what Hug-lo was now attempting seemed foolhardy,
even for a warrior of his incredible size.
“He is fool.” Jahlanna
murmured. “The thag shall crush him.”
Its mighty-horned head lowered,
the giant bison charged with a terrific bellow.
In answer, the giant warrior
bellowed also, and stormed forward to meet the charge of the prehistoric
Incredible he met and
halted the charge of the super-bison in full force. Though the animal must
have been as powerful as a derailed locomotive, Hug-lo managed to seize
each of the thag’s spear-like horns. In the midst of charging down upon
the warrior, the beast was forced to a halt. It bellowed mightily, as the
bison’s giant hindquarters were thrown up and off its feet by the headlong
It roared and raged, in a made
effort to fell the giant and smash him with its hooves. But Hug-Lo managed
to hold on, his lean, gigantic muscles bulging and straining against the
full titanic strength of the bull thag. Sweat burst out upon the giant’s
heavy brow, as he continued to bulldog the prehistoric bison like a steer.
At last, Hug-lo the Giant One gave a
mighty, gigantic twist. There was a sound like a rifle-shot that rang throughout
the amphitheater, as the thag’s massive neck was snapped in two like a
Hug-lo tossed the limp bulk of the thag to one side.
The bison lay, eyes glazed, tongue lolling. The mighty man was shaken,
but triumphant. He stood over his kill, heaving. Then he turned up to the
grim assembly of winged reptiles that were his masters. “Hah! Did you really
think a puny thag could defeat Hug-lo?”
Again the arena gate disgorged a grim
denizen of the dawn-world. A mighty screech filled the arena. Hug-lo turned,
eager to meet the latest challenge the Mahars had summoned forth.
A full-grown allosaurus stood in the
gateway. At least, this is what Clive assumed it to be. It was similar
to the utgors, only much larger, its hideous head towering even above that
of Hug-lo. It had the same lizard-like body, monstrous jaws lined with
rows of serrated teeth. It sported even more powerful hind limbs, and a
thick kangaroo-like tail. It was far more colorful than the smaller saurians,
however. It main body was decorated with largish rosettes, edged in red,
with either black or bright yellow centers. The body was greenish in color,
fading to greenish white on the belly.
“That thing is called a Jalgor,”
Jahlanna said. “They are terrible killers. I would guess the warrior had
met his match. But he has proven himself admirably so far.”
“We shall see,” Clive said.
Hug-lo roared a mighty challenge himself.
The allosaur gave vent to another locomotive-like
scream, and bounded foreword on its himblimbs. The remarkable kangaroo-like
locomotion of the great lizard was almost comical, especially considering
its size—were it not clearly so efficient a killing machine.
For in the following instant, the beast had sprung
full upon Hug-lo, attempting to crush the warrior’s head in his giant jaws.
But Hug-lo, clearly a veteran warrior whom had faced and slain such monsters
before, had the foresight to seize the reptile by the loose skin of its
throat. The startled allosaurus gave a strangled squeal. Hug-lo heaved
up, using his full gigantic strength to hurtle the monster from him.
The roaring, screaming dinosaur landing
on its back, thrashing its mighty-taloned legs. In the next instant it
was on its feet, and surging to attack the giant once more.
But Hug-lo was now running away from the beast. He
seemed for a second to have turned coward, and Clive wondered what the
giant warrior was up to.
Hug-lo ran for a heavy wooden stake. This implement
had been run into the ground, and a steel clamp and chain affixed to it.
It was for the purpose of baiting a large beast—or possibly a human warrior—with
such as a pack of jaloks. It was unused at this time.
Hug-lo promptly uprooted this massive stake,
as the gigantic carnivorous reptile leapt toward him in a series of fantastic
Just as the hissing saurian bore down upon him, fore-claws
extended, and dripping jaws gaping wide, Hug-lo turned the stake. Though
the top of the stake was round and blunt, the base was taped to a massive
Carried by its own headlong inertia, the dinosaur
impaled itself upon the mighty wooden shaft. Hug-lo leapt and rolled out
of the way, as the agonized reptile writhed and clawed, screaming in mad
pain as the massive stake penetrated it heart. Already dead, the life-force
of the tenacious reptile made it continue to writhe and hiss, until finally
it collapsed in death.
The giant warrior rose mightily to his gigantic stature
and ginned triumphantly at his work.
He then strode to where his giant ax had fallen.
Retrieving his weapon, he strode to the dead reptile and with hammering
blows, hacked the grotesque head from its neck. He them pulled forth the
bloodied stake. He carried to the hole in which it had originally been
set and replaced, only this time with the top down, so that the end pointed
heavenward like a bloody spear. He then hoisted the ghastly, grinning head
of the slain allosaurus over his head, and roared like a titan. He rammed
the saurians’ severed head down onto the stake for all to see.
Screams of admiration went up form the female
gilaks in the stadium.
“Enough of the child’s play! Hug-lo will now choose
his future mate.”
“Me!” cried a female voice. “Pick me, oh great
“No, you, ugly slurrel! He deserves better!”
“No, I am fairer than either of you. Hug-lo desires
“Enough!” roared the giant. “Silence, shes! Hug-lo
has chosen! I pick her!”
And he thrust a giant finger directly at Jahlanna
Jahlanna gasped. There were cries of astonishment
and outrage from the other females, followed by murmurs of jealousy, as
they saw that the Nu-al princess was indeed very beautiful.
Clive, his gaze steely, rose from his
seat, prepared to meet Hug-lo’s challenge.
Jahlanna clutched his arm. “No! You cannot
fight that giant! He will kill you!”
“Then he will kill me,” Clive told her. “I
did not fight that coward Lu-gor only to abandon you another man’s lust.”
He leapt down into the arena.
A gasp of astonishment went up form the humans
and sagoth spectators.
Hug-lo himself appeared astonished. The giant blinked
down at Clive. Clearly the giant warrior had expected none in the arena
to challenge him. He had also clearly not seen a human like Clive before,
with pale, freckled skin, and a mane of red-hair, as rare within the Hollow
earth as his own gigantic stature. “Who are you, foolish warrior to dare
to challenge Hug-lo?” he boomed.
“My name is Clive Neville. Not that my name
means anything to you, which it does not. All that matters is that Jahlanna
of Nu-al, the girl you would take as your mate belongs to me.”
“Ho ho! No longer, red-hair! She belongs to
“I will fight you if I must.”
“Go away, small warrior! Hug-lo does not wish to
“Nor I you.” said Clive. “But if I must kill you
I must, if it means securing the girl’s freedom. But perhaps we can forget
this, if you will have the decency to choose another girl as your mate.”
“Ha! You are indeed a fool, small warrior!
The girl is mine. Hug-lo takes what is his.”
“She is not yours.”
“Hug-lo decides what is his, and whatever that is
he takes. But if you are determined to die, than Hug-lo shall oblige you.”
“Come then,” said Clive.
“Though surely you will not need that ax of yours against one such as me.”
“Of course not,” boomed the giant, throwing down
his massive ax. “Hug-lo shall crush you with his hands.”
The giant lurched forward, intending to seize
Clive in a bone shattering grip.
But the surface man outmaneuvered him. Clive ducked
low, then bounded upward. Aided by the decrease in gravitational pull,
he sent his right fist smashing into the giant’s face. Hug-lo bellowed
like an oz as his nose was squashed by Clive’s blow.
He clutched at his face.
“Give up?” asked Clive. “We do not need to
kill each other. We can still call this off.”
Roaring, Hug-lo charged him again.
Clive leapt out of the way. Then he barged against
Hug-lo’s massively knotted legs. The giant toppled, crashing to the arena
A moan of astonishment went up from the
The giant came roaring to his feet. He
glared murderously down at Clive. But the hulking giant was no longer so
overconfident. He regarded his opponent with a wary respect.
Clive charged in for another blow. But this time
the giant intercepted him. Moving with a speed that defied his mighty bulk,
Hug-lo seized up Clive in a bone-cursing grip. The huge face of the giant
one smiled in horrid triumph. “Now, puny red-hair—you die!”
Clive felt titanic pressure squeezing
upon his ribs. Though the low gravity had helped him, the giant’s strength
was increased in equal measure. It seemed he would die here. As his vision
wavered, then went brilliantly ochre, he heard Jahlanna scream.
Perhaps it was the cry of his princess that gave
Clive the strength that he so needed. For in that instance, he was able
to wrench one arm free. He sent his fist crashing into the giant’s visage.
Hug-lo howled in pain.
But rather than leaping to freedom, Clive threw one
arm about the giant’s thick neck. He through himself back over Hug-lo’s
vast shoulder—and squeezed. He pressured his arm tighter, and tighter cutting
off the giant’s air. The giant fought to fling him off, but Clive clung
with all the might he could muster.
Hug-lo roared and sputtered, but he was unable to
reach Clive, and tear the clinging surface man from him.
At last, giving a strangled cry, Hug-lo toppled backwards like
a felled timber. Only then did the surface-man spring to freedom.
The giant lay, beaten an unmoving, his breath
coming in ragged gasps.
Battle-weary, Clive stood over him.
Applause like thunder rose from the humans in the
audience. Before they had been howling in blood-lust doubtlessly expecting
to see Clive crushed to a pulp by the mammoth Hug-lo. Now they cheered
Jahlanna leapt heavily to the arena sands.
The princess ran forward into his arms.
“Oh, my beloved.” she wept. “That giant—oh, I thought certain
you will be killed.”
“Easy, girl” Clive comforted her. “I will see that
no man lays his hand on you—besides me.”
“You should not have done that.” She told him.
“He might have killed you. But…..thanks anyway, my warrior.”
As Clive held her, two massive Mahars flapped
down into the arena. The reptiles seized the fallen giant in their talons,
and flapped away with him.
The two sagoth gasurds elpt into the arena and approached
Clive and his mate. “Back to your cell, Red-Hair. You have done enough.”
“Hug-lo expected a challenge. I gave it to
“So you did,” said the guard. “Though personally,
I wanted to see you killed.”
Clive ignored this. “What will become of Hug-lo?”
“He will be attended to by the physicians.”
Clive and Jahlanna were herded back to their
cell, where Clive rested, the girl secure in his arms. After a while, once
Clive’s strength had returned, they again made love. Jahlanna was particularly
vigorous in her mating this time, knowing that Clive had not only fought
for her, but that he had actually defeated the giant.
It was sometime after their hours
of vigorous lovemaking, and Clive and Jhalanna were asleep in each other’s
arms, that there was a loud booming knock at their door.
Clive sat bolt upright.
Jahlanna, her eyes wide with frightened apprehension,
clutched his shoulder.
The booming continued, until, to their amazement, the cell door
burst inward off its hinges, crashing into the room. The two sagoth guards
fell forward to lie insensible upon the floor.
Clive rose to his feet. The girl rose after him,
frightened and crouching behind him, though not in an attempt to hide her
nudity, for the primitive girl loved her nude form and took pride in it.
Jahlanna gave a small shriek, as she saw through
Clive gaped. It was the gigantic form of Hug-lo
the Giant One. He had either killed or knocked out the two sagoth guards,
but with the giant’s huge strength, Clive couldn’t tell.
The Giant One grinned at Clive with his huge
features, a smile that did not seem unfriendly. “Ho, little warrior. Are
you and your woman ready to escape?”
“Why are you here?” asked Clive.
“You fought well against Hug-lo, red-hair.
Better in fact than any other. It is in fact the first time Hug-lo
has ever been defeated. But still you did not kill me. For that, I have
come to help you escape.”
This was welcome news indeed! A warrior of
such colossal strength would be needed if they were ever to get out of
Xuthrah. Still, Clive did not entirely trust Hug-lo.
“How do I know you are not merely trying to
steal the girl?” Clive asked.
“Ho, ho! You are well to be wary of Hug-lo.
I would indeed take the comely princess from you, as perhaps I will once
we are away from this cursed city, and it is between the two of us.”
Jahlanna gripped her lover more tightly, and
ducked lower behind him. Obviously, the princess feared the attention of
the Giant One of Haglar.
“But,” continued Hug-lo, “while we are both
prisoners of the Mahar, I believe it is beast they we do everything we
can to gain our freedom from the accursed reptiles.”
“If that is your true intent,” said Clive.
“Than I am more than with you.”
Hug-lo grinned. His mighty bulk was too vast
for him to fit through the meager door entrance, and the giant face was
crouched down, on level with Clive’s. “Let us go then.”
Clive and Jahlanna came out of the cell
tentatively. Clive was still wary, in case the giant tried anything treacherous.
Jahlanna shivered, as though expected at any second the giant man to snatch
her into his embrace. But Hug-lo only said “Come. I know a way out of this
place. There is a place were the Mahars keep stabled thipdars. Sagoths
have been trained to ride upon them. They also have great machines that
can fly through the air the same as a winged lizard.”
“How did you escape?” Clive asked.
“After our duel,” Hug-lo explained. “The Lords
had me taken to what they call their physicians. The reptiles treated my
injuries. But I pretended that I was much more injured in the duel than
I was. Apparently, I was able to fool them. At the right moment I attacked
the Mahar physicians and killed two of them. Then I captured a sagoth guard,
and had him take me to your cell.”
“There are other captives in this city who
are my friends.” Clive said. “I will not leave without them.”
"But we may rouse the entire city to stop us."
“We might,” Clive agreed. “But we will need more
warriors if we are to fight our way to freedom.”
“Good, then,” agreed Hug-lo. “If we kill as
many of the foul monsters as we can than so be it. Hug-lo loathes the Lords
and all who serve them. It was they who brought me from my native land
to participate in the games for their amusement.”
Clive was relieved to hear this. The other
man, Lu-gor, proudly boasted of being a favorite of the so-called Lords,
and seemed to have no qualms about serving them. But he was an obvious
bully and coward. Hug-lo at least, though he clearly lusted after Jahlanna,
seemed the honorable type.
He showed Hug-lo the way to Ug-na’s cell. The giant
had no trouble in breaking in the door. The old man was astonished to see
them again, and gasped at the sight of the Giant One. This caused Jahlanna,
who had gotten over most of her initial feat of Hug-lo, to giggle girlishly.
Ug-na was grateful for his freedom, or course, and seemed very grateful
to see that the girl was still alive and unharmed—even though she was in
the arms of another man.
“Do you know the way out of here, old man?”
Clive asked him.
“I do,” said Ug-na. There is the place where
the mighty airships of the Lords are kept.”
“Airships?” asked Clive astonished.
Ug-na nodded. “Great vessels used for transport—and,
I fear, for war. They are invented by the Mahars of Zunah.”
“Do you know where they are kept?”
“I shall show you.”
“We must find the other prisoners first.”
Searching for the other prisoners took some
time. But at length they did it. They ran afoul of a party of armed sagoth
guards. During a brief battle Hug-lo killed two of their number, and captured
a third. The other two guards ran, doubtless to inform the Lords that prisoners,
including the Giant One, were loose and roaming the halls. Again, the giant
forced the sagoth to tell them where the other outlanders were kept. Simmons,
Tarok and Valkara they found in one cell. Grunth they found in another.
Jal-mar the Baraboo was missing.
But the ganak informed them that the Mahars had taken
him to a room where they were planning to run some experiments on him,
after which he was to be given over to the taxidermy shop to be skinned
They made haste to rescue the tailed warrior.
They burst into a room, in which the Baraboo warrior lay
flat out on a metal table, steel clamps about his wrist and ankles.
Over him, a Mahar scientist was preparing to anesthetize
him; a hypodermic-like device was clutched the sentient reptiles’ taloned
claw. The needle of the instrument was poised over the Barraboo’s left
In another time, another world, Clive might
have reflected that the scientist of Xuthrah—this one, at least—were at
least humane with their lesser captives. But it was clear that the captives
were still treated as beings far lesser than the Mahars themselves, and
at the moment, the peril of a comrade was all that he could see.
Clive and his small army burst into the door.
Caught off guard, the Mahar scientist turned
at them and gave a hissing screech form her toothed jaws.
Then she came at them launching herself into
the air with mighty strokes of her leathern wings, the instrument still
clutched in her talon, prepared to use it in defense. But The giant Hug-lo
slammed into her with his mighty ax, sending the winged reptiles crashing
back into a tangle of tubes and machinery. Grunth, Clive and Tarok leapt
forward, driving home the spears they had wrested for the sagoth guards.
The winged saurian gave a weak cry, and collapsed
They freed Jal-mar. The marsupial warrior leapt off
the table, and rubbed his wrist.” “My thanks, friend Clive,” he said. “I
did not think to see you again.”
“Nor I you.”
“What will we do now?”
Clive clamped his friend’s furry shoulder.
“We will fight our way to freedom.”
“Wait!” said Tarok. “The Mahars are making weapons
here—strange, unnatural weapons with which they hope conquer all Pellucidar.
Can we do nothing to stop them?”
“I believe that we can.” Clive said. He turned to
Ug-na. “Old man, do you know where the Mahar are making their weapons of
“Yes. But it is far from here.”
“Show us the way.”
Ug-na led them through a bewildering network
of corridors. They encountered a few gaurs, and these they easily overpowered.
It was clear that they were winding deeper and deeper within the Mahr city,
going far below the surface of the Dead World.
At last they heard the faint but
steady chinking of axes and hammers far below.
“You hear that, my friends?” said
Ug-na. “It is the sound of thousands of sagoths and Wur-gals, mining the
innards of the Dead World itself for the crystals. It is from these crystals
that they power the mighty war-canons.”
“Where are these canons being built?” asked
Clive. “You agreed to show us.”
Ug-na led them to the entrance of a vast room the
walls and floor of which appeared to be of some metallic substance like
chrome steel. Inside were weapons of destruction, like they had seen in
the city beneath the Pellucidaran steppes. They were mighty canon like
devices. And through another entrance, teams of sagoths drew forth carts
filled with glass, dark red gemstones. These, Clive knew, were the crystals
which augmented the projected mental powers of the Mahars, and powered
the mighty psychic canons.
Led by the giant Hug-lo, Clive
and his army barged into the room. Taken by surprise, the sagoths were
ill- prepared for battle. Most of them fled. Those that did attack were
quickly overcome. The Wur-gals were bolder, and attacked en masse. But
the giant was able to swat them from him.
The Mahar scientists tried to summon more guards
to their defense, but again Hug-lo and Clive attacked, felling two of the
winged monsters. The others escaped through a shaft in the ceiling.
They took to destroying the war-weapons. Hug-los
massive strength made short works of the them. His giant fists smashed
and his great ax descended crumpling metal, and causing sparks to shower.
At last, surveying the wreckage, he said. “The devil-weapons of the Mahars
Ug-na shook his head. “There are many more
such weapons, in other rooms below this one. We have destroyed but
Clive realized that the old man was doubtless
correct. They had to escape from Zunah, and this had merely gained the
Mahars more time to rouse their forces against them.
They were far below the surface, and possibly
“I know the way out,”said Ug-na. “There is
a tunnel not far from here, that leads to the surface of the Dead World
through one of the craters.”
At that moment, there burst into the vast room
a great assembly of armed sagoths and a few of the dwarfish Wur-gals wielding
their curved blades of bronze. The mighty gorilla men glowered at them.
But what most astonished Clive was at head
of the guards was human figure he recognized at once.
The unlovely caveman leered directly at him. Obviously,
the bullying O-lar had a score to settle. From what Jahlanna had told him,
it was partially of Lu-gor’s design that the Mahars were able to find and
capture himself and Tarok. Clive had supposed the human traitor had fallen
into disfavor with the ones he served however, after his recent defeat
in the arena. He had even allowed himself to feel some measure of sympathy
for the man, as he might have been subjected to the reptiles cruel experiments,
or wound up stuffed in their museum dioramas.
But whatever had transpired after their
duel, Lu-gor was here, and prepared to settle the score here and now. And
most frighteningly, the smirking caveman held in his grasp strange weapon,
something like the sagoths had had used to on them in the northern city—only
It looked for all the world like some kind of futuristic
He saw Lu-gor’s ugly visage fall momentarily, as
the cowardly O-lar caught sight of the giant Hug-lo. But he soon recovered.
“Capture them!” Lu-gor ordered. “In the name
of the Lords!”
The horde of sagoths surged forward. Clive
thrust Jahlanna behind them, trying his best to protect the girl. He and
Tarok and Valkara met the sagoths, and returned blow for blow. Hug-lo’s
mighty ax did its work, as the giant smashed through the attacking gorilla
men. His ax smote right and left, leaving a trail of crushed and bleeding
bodies. Grunth and Jal-mar joined in the fray, thrusting with their foes
with sword and spear.
But there too many.
The horde of sagoths pressed their attacked. Some of the guards were equipped
with thin metal rods. They struck the giant Hug-lo with these. Though the
giant was able to hurtle many of his smaller foes across the room, the
numbing effect of so many of the rods eventually drove the giant to his
knees. The sagoths then secured the weakened giant in bonds.
Clive and others were subdued as well. Clive
realized then that their orders had to be to capture, rather than to kill.
Strangely enough, though, Lu-gor
was not among them.
At first, Clive thought little of this. But
then he noticed that Jahlanna had vanished as well!
Jahlanna of Nu-al had shrunk back
form the battle of the men. But seeing her lover embattled against the
inhuman foes, the brave cavegirl had seized up a spear of her own. The
princess had not been trained in the warrior’s arts—that was not the Nu-al’s
way. But the hardships that she had endured since she was the pampered
sweetheart of her tribe, had changed her somewhat. She had assumed the
role of a warrioress in defense of her mate before in Zhuma, when the Mahars
had loosed the slavering Varg upon them. And as the varg is a savage prehistoric
wolverine, fully the size of an adult Kodiak bear, the task was hardly
a mean one.
She saw one of the sagoth guards prepare to
deliver a stunning blow to the back of her mate’s head. At that instant
the girl struck, as deadly as she was beautiful. She skewered the sagoth
through the back. The beast-man gave a gurgling gasp and died.
But in that selfsame instant, rough burly
hands clasped over her beautiful face. The girl kicked and struggled furiously.
But she was dragged from the battle, away from the shouts and death-cries
of the enbattled warriors. She felt herself being tossed over a burly shoulder,
and borne off.
Her abductor raced off up the tunnel, carrying
his beautiful prize with him. And Jahlanna knew. Lu-gor! The brutal coward
had captured her, and was bearing her off to a fate she knew to well. But
they were still deep within Zunah. Surely her beloved could find them and
But the princess’s hopes were soon to
Lu-gor stopped in front of a large metal door. Two
burly sagoth guards stood on duty. “Stop, gilak!”
“Let us through,” he commanded.
“No one is allowed in here, unless the
Lords authorize them.”
“Do as I say.” Lu-gor said,
leveling the Mahar weapon at them.
They rushed into the room, and Jahlanna then
saw that this was where the thipdars, the mighty pterodactyls were stables.
There were rows of the gigantic crested flying reptiles, all bearing bridles
reins and bits, as were those ridden by the warriors of Mulag.
Jahlanna guessed, correctly, that the sagoths
had been taught by their masters to ride the winged monsters, just as the
warriors of Mulag had been taught by the Mahrs of Zhuma. And apparently
Lu-gor had too—or else the hulking O-lar had managed to steal one of the
mind-crystals used to control the great reptiles, and this was the first
time he had tried to ride one of the fantastic aerial steeds—yes, the man
was wwearing one of the crystal pendants, such as the Mulag used!
Lu-gor mounted the nearest of the great flying
reptiles. He clasped the crystal around pendant about his neck and held
out the crystal. The pteranodon squawked and beat its vast wings. Then
it rose, mightily, from its perch.
Taking off, it launched itself powerfully down a
long vast tunnel that had obviously been designed with the titanic wingspan
of a thipdar in mind. The wall of the tunnel itself appeared to be composed
of the myriads of dark red crystals that composed the innards of the Dead
World. They glowed with eerie radiance, as the flying beast zoomed through
its vast length, carrying the caveman and his beautiful captive.
At last they soared out into the eternal sun.
Jhalnna blinked. She had not realized how long she had gone in its absence.
Lu-gor roared curses at his monstrous steed, and
pulled the reins. The Mahar beat its leathern pinions. Up and up, into
the air above the lush alien forests of the Dead-World they soared. The
thipdar beat its wings—up and up they few, until at last, they felt the
grip of the Dead-Worlds pull weaken and diminish.
To Jahlanna, the princess lying thrown
rudely across the saddle, her round and generous behind pressed down by
her captor’s greedy paw, the effect was dizzying.
“You are mine, now, girl,” Lu-gor was telling her.
“Mine at last. The red-hair will never find us—not where I am taking you.”
The vast panaorama of the inner
earth reeled before the beautiful gaze of the princess. But as beautiful
as was the sight, the girl felt her heart sink agonizingly within her noble
breast, as her brutal captor bore her off, toward lands unknown.