Clive and his companions were taken to the
center of Xunthrah, to the great thrown room of the Mahars.
In the center of the room was a massive dais.
On this dais were three huge cushions, apparently of something like silk.
And upon these sat the giant reptiles, the three who served as the rulers
of Xuthrah, and all other Mahars, as well as the sagoth servitors and human
Clive had seen these three before, in the amphitheater,
but this time he noticed something about them that had not before. These
three representatives of the Mahar race appeared to be larger than the
others he had seen—a good deal larger. Not only this, but while the other
Mahars were uniform in color, the tooth-edged beaks of these winged monsters
were of a vivid yellow ringed by three bands of red.
The sagoth guards, having addressed the
great Lords, were apparently in the midst of receiving the mental communication
with their masters—which would no doubt decide upon the fate of the captives.
The conversation between the great winged
reptiles lasted for what must have been several moments. Though neither
Clive nor the others were given direct communication with the reptiles,
Clive was able to sense the pulse of the powerful, uncanny vibrations which
hummed silently back and forth between the two gigantic sentient reptilians.
And though he could not have said exactly how or why, he sensed that the
exchange was bitter, angry, hostile. This perceived hostility seemed to
increase, as the fierce mental exchange began seemingly more violent. Clive
had the distinct impression that the two monsters were hurtling insults
at one another.
“I believe the Lords are having a quarrel,”
he ventured aloud.
“Silence, gilak!” a sagoth guard said.
“Do not speak so of the Lords!”
Clive said nothing more but he smiled
inwardly. The sagoth had not refuted his observation. That only gave credence
to the possibility that he had been correct. Perhaps these two Lords were
rivals for one another’s power. Or maybe, as the Mahars were ruled by a
technocracy, the two were scientists who were some kind of feud over rival
scientific theories. Clive had head such things happened among human scientists
of the surface world. But he and his fellow underlings were not supposed
be privy to it, of course, kind of like how professors who loathed each
other would take pains to conceal their animosity from students.
Alistair Simmons, noticing the difference
between the ruling class of Mahars and the others said, “Do you see that
these three appear to be of a slightly different species—or subspecies—than
the others of the Mahar race we have encountered?”
“Is that what you think, Doctor?”
“Actually I am not certain. Perhaps they are.
Or it may be that those born with the strikingly marked bills are of a
higher caste than the others, as these are the rulers of Zunah.”
“You may be right,” Clive said.
“But you know the most likely reason? I’ve
observed the same approximate different among the male and female of certain
pterosaur species here in Pellucidar. I’ve noticed, in fact, quite a similar
sexual dimorphism among the specimens of rhamphorynchus, the same species
from which the Mahars are the alleged descendants.”
“But the Mahars are female. Isn’t that what
you’ve told me?”
“Yes, that’s what I’ve read, what the natives have
told us, but….I don’t know. Mahar society consist of females only, as far
as we know. But they did not start out that way. Perhaps some males survived
or were driven off when the Mahars discovered their Great Secret. Here
on this isolated moon, the last males of the species could have survived,
and gone on reproducing the natural way.”
“You are correct, my friends,”
Clive looked at him. “How
do you know?”
“Because I have lived here
long, read much of their scrolls, and have learned the history of this
city. The last surviving males of the Mahar race were banished to the Dead
World, and other remote lands since time immemorial. They were scientists
too, and founded this city. It is ancient, this city, but not so much as
the Mahar cities of the surface. They, too, were scientists, and found
a chemical means to reproduce. Only in their case, they bred females as
well for obvious purposes.”
“How could they do this, if they had no eggs,
or even ovum, which to fertilize?”
‘The scrolls tell of this. Since I am a slave in
charge of the historical archives, I have been permitted to read of the
means. It is difficult to explain—but they have discovered the means to
take to living particles of any living thing, and reproduce them in their
seething chemical vats. I have seen living creatures, Mahar hatchlings,
grown live in these vats. They are nurtured by the thick chemical soup,
and fed through clear, hard tubes. Not only are the young of their species
created this way. Other animals are birthed as well—including humans, destined
to be the slaves of Xuthrah.”
Clive shuddered. He regarded Ug-na. Could the
old man himself have been born and bred in the vats? No—his name seemed
not like one bestowed on him by the Lords. But he thought of the other
humans within this hellish city. He thought too, of Tu-rah, the great Mahar
who had presided over the city of Zhuma. He had been milky white in color,
a pure albino, but his gigantic size led Clive to believe that he had been
a surviving male as well.
Could this creature be alive here in this city
as well? Possibly, somewhere in the crystal caverns below here. The great
albino matriarch—or patriarch, as it were—would need to keep away from
‘The Mahar were once a species ruled by males,”
Ug-na explained. “But there was a revolution, sorts, and the female triumphed,
the males banished to the unknown reaches of Pellucidar, and to the Dead
World. But after the outlander David Innes banished the Mahars form his
newly formed gilak empire, the females fled to cities such as this one.
But here, the patriarchy has returned.”
“The Lords wish to converse with you, Red-Hair,”
a sagoth guard told Clive, suddenly.
The Mahar in
the center, the largest one, gazed down upon him. The icy, reptilian orbs
burned into his from within their bird-like sockets. Clive realized suddenly
that he’d foolishly allowed himself to look directly into the monster’s
But he felt none of the paralyzing effect of
the hypnosis frequently employed by the winged reptiles, numbing his brain
and robbing his will. Instead, he felt clammy tendrils of cold, alien thought
probing deep into the corridors of his mind, penetrating deep beneath the
layers of his subconscious thought. The effect was dizzy and nauseous.
At last, though the weird tendrils withdrew. He then
felt a new wave of alien, reptilian thought press into him. One of the
Mahar rulers was speaking to him. It was the one the right, which had apparently
won the quarrel, if quarrel it had been. The other Mahar was now hunched
in a huff. At least that was as Clive supposed, though the creature’s face
was inscrutable. The words in Pellucidaran Common formed in his brain from
the Mahar’s mental patterns. Although the Mahar do not generally communicate
with mere humans, it seemed he had been singled out as one worthy to converse
with such as themselves.
You! You are the red-furred animal
who staged the slave revolt on Zhuma.
“That is correct.” Clive said, speaking
Zhuma has been sacked. But some of us
have already returned, hoping to salvage some of the valuable scrolls and
equipment that were not destroyed.
Clive said nothing.
I have delved deep into your mental records,
apeling. You really come from another world. Up until recently, most of
my kind regarded the existence world as beyond proof. But your entry through
the fissure in the distant lands of ice have shown us otherwise. We are
even now preparing to explore, and if profitable to the Mahar race, subjugate
Clive felt a knot grow in his stomach.
He and Simmons, then were responsible, at least in part, for allowing the
plans to invade the surface.
You killed many of us—including a valued scientist
you held prisoner in the Nu-al village, red-furred apeling. For that you
should die, in spite of your unwitting service to us, and the remarkable
specimen that you are.
“We now only wish to leave this city,”
said Clive. “And to search for a girl who is my mate. A slave named Lu-gor,
who claimed he was a favorite of yours, I believe to have fled with her.”
To his surprise, the Mahar said, That is known to
us. The one called Lu-gor was able to aide us in determining your whereabouts.
But it seems now his treachery has turned upon us, his Masters.
“That would serve you right,” Clive said.
A sudden metal tidal wave crashed though his brain.
With a shout, he fell backward. Simmons caught him. Clive rubbed his head
and sat up.
Do not be foolish, gilak! We are giving you
What is that?
We believe that the apeling called Lu-gor has
stolen something of great value to us, as well. The prototype of a new
thought-weapon. It is missing form its casement, and so is Lu-gor. One
of the guards had foolishly explained to him what the weapon was, and what
it can do. He doubtless plans on returning to the surface with it, to use
it for his own selfish designs.
Clive remembered the strange, futuristic weapon that Lu-gor had so brazenly
wielded. “What do you ask of me?”
What do you suppose, foolish
apeling? You want your mate. We want our weapon. We will allow you to track
the gilak Lu-gor down for us. If you agree, we will guarantee the freedom
of your comrades.
Clive considered his options. It was Lu-gor,
a cowardly brute, who had stolen the weapon. But it was a good thing that
it was out of the slimy talons of these conquering reptiles. Under any
other circumstances, to agree to return it would seem treasonous; for the
Mahars doubtless planed on using it for war on Sari, supplying like weapons
to squadrons of sagoth troops. But it was Jahlanna, the beautiful girl
who was the love of his life, who was now in Lu-gor’s savage hands—and
this thought was unbearable. This was undoubtedly the best option for escape.
The Mahar would doubtless eventually craft more such weapons anyway–though
it might take them longer. And Lu-gor would use his newfound power to no
good. He had to go along with the plan, he decided—at first. Then he had
to find some way to escape with the Mahar’s weapon. But how?”
So you agree?
“I do,” Clive said.
Remember, manling. We shall be tracing your thought
patterns from the air. If you attempt to flee with the weapon, you
“I understand,” Clive said. This time he forceably
suppressed any plans of not returning the weapon once it was recovered.
I am most pleased, apeling. You shall not regret
your decision. My servants shall escort you to one of the airships.
Clive and his companions were escorted
back through the twisted corridors of Xuthrah. They were then marched up
out of the city and into the thick, blue forests of the jungle moon. They
were led down a trail, obviously of artifical make, and to what was essentially
The sight of it drew cries of astonishment
from Clive and Simmons. There were several great ships that seemed somewhat
like dirigibles. Obviously the ships had been designed by the Mahars by
means of blueprints, and constructed by sagoth, human and Wur-gal slaves.
They resembled small zeppelins, only
of alien design, with flaring “wings” on the sides, and ornately embellished
on the sides with reliefs of pterosaurs. Each was capable of carrying a
handful of sagoth or human warriors. If the Mahars developed an armada
of such weapons, they could easily have advantage over David Innes.
What had given the scientists of Zunah the idea for
these? Possibly it was great zeppelin 0-220, which had reportedly transported
the fabled Englishman gone native in Africa, Lord Greystoke, better known
as Tarzan of the Apes, to Pellucidar long ago. The Mahars must have learned
of it, and sought to create such an airborne transport themselves.
The belly of one of the ornate airships opened
into a ramp. Once Clive and his companions boarded, the ship drew off the
ground and into the skies above the Dead World, bound for the teeming surface
The mighty thipdar flapped through the
misty “skies” of Pellucidar. At the reins of the great beast was
the cowardly Lu-gor. He was untrained in piloting the great reptile, and
the beast’s flight was erratic.
But Lu-gor’s breast swelled with confidence, for he had
captured the beautiful Jahlanna from beneath the nose of the strange red-haired
warrior. The girl protested loudly that no man not of her choice dare touch
her, though now she dared not struggle. But Lu-gor held her down firmly—a
good thing as they were now far above the reeling surface of Pellucidar.
But this also gave him opportunity to fondly the soft, sturdy flesh of
her massive rump with his course calloused paws. And for someone she hated,
as she did Lu-gor, this was an indignity beyond belief.
The awesome terrain of the inner earth reeled and
dipped below them. Jahlanna had been in such a situation before, of course,
when she had been abducted by Blorg of the Mulag, and taken to the cliff
With some difficulty, the caveman was able
to land the mighty pterosaur in a glade of thick, spongy grass in a copse
of trees. Not wanting anymore to do with the flying reptile, he hoisted
his struggling captive over one burly shoulder and fled into the trees.
Jahlanna was beating his rough back with her dainty fists, scratching at
him with her nails. But her strength was as of a child’s compared to that
of her burly captor.
At last, when the burst
into another clearing, Lu-gor through her roughly to the turf.
“Leave me alone!” Jahlanna shrieked.
“Never, my comely, large rumped she!” he smirked
at her. “You will now be Lu-gor’s mate! You will return with me to O-lar.
There the other males will see the beautiful mate of Lu-gor, and he will
be the envy of all males of his tribe!”
“You are a fool, then, as well as a coward,
to think that I would ever mate with you!”
Lu-gor tore away his loincloth. “I did
not ask for your permission, girl!”
The thought of him penetrating her girlhood
made Jahlanna want to retch. Before, she had had the hideous Skurg threaten
her like this—but this time Clive, whom she had then recently spurned,
had intervened and killed him. Now Clive was far away in the city of the
She tried to flee, but the brutal O-lar rushed
forward and slapped her heavily. With a shrieking sob, the girl fell to
the ground. The cave-man seized her wrists as she struggled and cried,
vainly attempting to defend herself.
“Now, “princess,” he laughed, “You will
learn to call Lu-gor master!”
“I will never give you pleasure!” the girl
hissed suddenly through her fine teeth.
Lu-gor chortled, forcing her down.
“I will give you pain!” With that, Jahlanna
brought up one massive thigh, slamming Lu-gor in the balls. The man screamed,
falling on his back, clutching at his ruined testicles, his mind exploding
with pain. Jahlanna had not just managed to whack him in the nuts—thanks
to the heaviness of her thigh, she had virtually squashed them.
The girl bolted into the trees. Behind
her, she heard Lu-gor’s screams of pain and rage. She realized that she
might well have ruptured the balls of Lu-gor’s manhood. Good. She
told herself. She fled deeper into the forest. Birds and diminutive flying
reptiles flapped about her. Diminutive orthopi, and small scurrying lizards
fled from her path.
She heard a roar of rage from a man’s throat. It was far behind
her, but she knew it was Lu-gor. The man had recovered enough to pursue
The girl began to zigzag in her flight, hoping against
hope to throw the man off. She turned one way in the maze of thickets,
fled for a distance, then veered off in a new direction.
Behind her, the brutal Lu-gor doggedly pursued. Silently,
the outraged man vowed that he would beat her very soundly once he caught
her. The spoiled princess needed the fight taken out of her, if she was
to be his pleasure slave—and he fully intended to make her just that. The
girl’s trail was a fairly easy one to follow—the prints of her small toes
easily discernible in the soft mulch. His flight was slow and stiff, however,
as his testicles were badly swollen, bulging and red. The pain in them
had begun to subside though, and soon, he would overtake the girl.
Abruptly, Jahlanna burst
out of the forest onto an open, parklike land. There were clusters of trees,
ginkos, acacias, and Jurassic conifers, dotted here and there. The girl
When her pursuer emerged form the forest, he
could just make out the girl’s fleeing form ahead of him. His strength
recovered, the man roared and charged after her. Now the man was closing
the gap. Jahlanna, hampered by the size and weight of her hips, was slowly
losing ground to her brutal pursuer. As he began closing the gap between
Jahlanna and himself, a shadow fell over Lu-gor.
The man looked up—and screamed.
Above them was a huge and mighty thipdar, one
of those great flying dragons of the Dawn Age. It was a gigantic specimen,
its wingspread more than forty feet. It was not one of the beasts used
by the Mahars or those who served them. This was undoubtedly a wild beast
seeking fresh game—which it had found.
The Nu-al princess whirled her lovely face
to the heavens, and she, too, screamed.
It was Lu-gor however, who reacted in the most
sensible fashion given the circumstances, though he had done so out of
cowardice. He through himself, quaking, to the ground, burying his ugly
face in the grasses and moaning piteously.
Jahlanna, however, ran on, heading at once,
for the nearest cluster of trees where the grasping talons of the flying
lizard would be unable to reach her. But the voluptuous girl had slowed
considerably in her flight, and presented an easy target to the aerial
The winged beast hove in for her, its primitive
brain discounting Lu-gor, as it cupped its mighty wings in the manner of
an eagle swooping upon a fleeing hare, stretching its bird-clawed talons
for the girl. Jahlanna whirled and screamed in the last instant before
the reptile seized her around her slender torso. Then, vast leathern pinions
churning mightily, the monster lifted off, bearing with it its shrieking,
Lu-gor, hearing the monster’s wing beats grow
faint, along with the screams and cries of the girl, realized that he was
no longer the monster’s prey.
He watched helplessly,
as his prize was borne off, doubtless to serve as either a meal for the
hideous flying reptile, or for its brood of hideous young. Either way,
it was a terrible waste of superb girl-flesh, and despite his cowardice,
Lu-gor did not intend to give it up.
He saw then that the beast was flying in the
direction of the land of Awful Shadow.
Lu-gor began to lope in pursuit. If there was
some chance that Jahlanna might survive, however slim, he would be the
one to claim her.
As Jahlanna was borne aloft, the world reeled
about her. As terrified as the young princess was, part of her realized
that it was doubtless better this way, for she feared the vile manhood
of Lu-gor far more than even the talons of mighty winged reptile. Of all
the hideous captivities the lovely princess had thus far endured, the present
one, horrific as it was, was bound to be the most merciful in the end.
Then she saw where the monster
was bearing her, and her mind reeled with a new and fresh horror, which
up until now, she did not realize she was capable of experiencing.
The thipdar was flying in the direction of the Land
of Awful Shadow, that dreadsome country beneath the Dead World, forever
entrenched in everlasting darkness. Though it lay many leagues from her
homeland, she had heard many dreadsome tales of it. No man seemed to know
just what lay beneath the grim shadow of Pellucidar’s moon. And so speculation
gave way to wild fantasy. There were tales of a world ruled by monsters,
of a land where the spirits of dead men stalked the living. Jahlanna had
often shuddered to here those tales, told by the warriors of her father’s
tribe, often at times when, as a child she listened in to what her ears
were not meant to hear, when none of the grown ups expected. It had filled
the young girl-child, and future princess with a shuddersome delight that
was enjoyable within the grand hut of her father.
But never in her young life did the princess ever
believe that she would be borne to that awful region against her will in
the talons of a dreadful monster of Time’s Dawn. The very thought caused
the girl’s mind to reel toward madness.
She was now far
above the upcurving surface of the world, and if the monster released her
would mean instant death. The beast flew onward, burdened by the weight
of its voluptuous captive. It was now nearly within the darksome shadow
cast by the globular planetoid looming vastly above. It was, the girl’s
terror dazed mind recognized, flapping its mighty wings in the direction
of a crest of mountains within the perimeter of the shadow-blanketed land.
They speared up mightily, soaring towers of stone. She could see other
winged shapes, the forms of other thipdars. There were, she saw thick multitudes
of the great reptiles flapping about the huge pinnacles of rock.
The thipdar, propelled by the titanic
strokes of its mighty wings, made toward a particular cliff, in a high
and lofty wall of granite. The girl could see that there were many great
nests there. Nests belonging to the great flying reptiles. She could make
out the squabbling forms of the hideous reptilian young awaiting the bounty
of their monstrous parents’ hunting forays. Jahlanna’s heart suddenly felt
a strange calm. Soon it would be over. She prayed to the gods of her people
that her spirit might be united with that of her flame haired warrior when
they met in the afterlife.
There was abruptly, another scream, also from a predatory
saurian of the skies.
The captive girl twisted her slender neck about,
and saw, coming in her direction, another giant flying saurian, this one
a bit smaller than the one that held her, but large enough.
Her thipdar gave an answering scream, and Jahlanna
knew the two beasts were about to clash in awful combat.
And the prize of the death-duel, to be fought
hundreds of leagues above the surface of the land of Awful Shadow, was--
The challenging pterosaur, though not so large
as the giant pteranodon, in whose awful grasp the Nu-al princess was helpless,
was nevertheless of awesome size. Its broad beak was heavy and blunt-shaped,
less elongated than the thipdar’s. It was filled with a terrible number
long sharp teeth. Like the Mahar, it was long-tailed. This was a dimorphodon
of the Triassic, or grakor, a species of flying reptile which shared the
mountain heights with the thipdar, and oft times competed with them for
prey and nesting space.
Uttering an ear-splitting screech, the dimophodon
hove to the attack. The thipdar released one of is talons, as it prepared
to meet the challenger, holding the cavegirl in one talon. The grakor dove
upon its enemy, talons outstretched. The two great flying reptiles clashed
giving vent to shattering screams, raking with their claws and fangs. The
din of their giant wings boomed in the girl’s ears, as she was rocked dizzyingly
back and forth, still in the pterosaur’s awful grip.
The flying beasts flapping out of one another’s
reach. They circled, veering widely, then closed in again for the attack.
Again thipdar and grakor clashed, rending the air with their screams of
combat, ripping at each other with fang and talon.
The great pteranodon, its huge wings ripped
and slashed by its aerial assailant, beat frantically at the air, losing
precious altitude. The grakor gave a croaking squawk, and attacked the
wounded giant once more. This time, as the two pterosaurs clashed, the
thipdar was forced to release its captive. The cave girl plummeted.
Jahlanna screamed as the land below rushed
up to crush her.
The dimorphodon wasted not a moment’s
time. The grakor hurtled itself into a dive to intercept the hurtling princess.
Claws shot out. Jahlanna found herself suddenly yanked to a halt in mid
The grakor had caught her!
Wings beating like thunder, the pterosaur flapped
toward its own nesting site.
But even now, the wounded thipdar, flapped
to intercept the pirate pterosaur. The gakor raced to outdistance its larger
pursuer. But the thipdar’s mighty jaws seized the left wing of its foe.
The grakor gave a squawk of defiance, as the other beat yanked it off balance,
nearly tearing the wing from its socket. The grakor’s talons released
The girl fell.
As the wounded pterosaur flapped furiously
its injured wing to keep itself aloft, the girl was hurtling down and down,
beyond the reach of either of the winged beasts. The dazed impression she
had of the land below was a weird, otherworldly jungle of alien vegetation.
Then she was crashing through it, her limp form hurtling through layers
and layers of canopy.
The shock caused her to reach out to grab at the
branches and vines that whipped past her. As she pulled at them, she had
some success at breaking the rate of her fall. But the vines snapped and
broke as she plummeted on.
At last she broke through a thick layer of vegetation
to smack thickly into a soft, spongy, and yielding surface. Though the
impact was by now much reduced, the shock of the abrupt landing caused
the girl to momentarily black out.
When she next awoke, following some indeterminable
time, Jahlanna sat up. She had landed she discovered, on a vast and pliant
bed of some kind. There were others of these "beds” all about her. It was
a great soft mushroom that she had landed upon. It was huge and soft, and
actually quite comfortable, the ideal thing to stop her death-plunge.
The gods, Jahlanna thought. Even after all she had
endured, the gods still had to be watching over her to provide her with
this forest of giant mushrooms, right below where the pterosaurs had battled.
The girl slid off the growth. She gazed all around
herself in awe and wonder.
All about her grew a veritable forest of monstrous
fungi, rising gigantically about her in an incredible forest. Their
stems were as thick and big around as tree trunks. Their caps, a dull crimson,
spotted with yellow, were broad enough to hide the surface of the Dead
World far above.
Yes, the Dead World. Jahlanna realized now, with
a thrill of horror, that she was now trapped within the Land of Awful Shadow,
that dreadsome and weird country of legend and myth. And not a single warrior
was here to protect her.
Everything about her was swathed in gloom.
The only light, she now saw, was provide by the weird fungi themselves,
whose broad caps gave off uncanny illumination. Their stems glowed as well,
giving the girl enough light for her to make her way.
She still knew in which direction her homeland lay. But
would she ever escape the dreadful country of Awful Shadow?
Jahlanna began walking. And as
she did so, someone else was spying on the helpless girl from afar. This
was being done with a strange technology far beyond the jungle girl’s imagining.
The unseen observer was examining her through a powerful telescopic lens
from somewhere within the confines of the Land of Awful Shadow.
Jahlanna had not ventured far,
gazing about herself in eerie wonder, when the moldy ground in front of
her suddenly erupted. The primeval maid sprang back with a shriek. Something
grayish pushed itself through. It was hideous, and formed like a man. When
Jahlanna saw it, she screamed.
It rose up, hideously, in front of her, moldy
dirt showering from its broad and sloping shoulders.
The girl was horrified and rooted to the spot,
her slim white arms flung out helplessly in front of her. Another scream
was slowly building within her windpipe, threatening to burst into a full-throat
shriek of feminine terror at the sight of the thing.
It appeared to be the animated corpse of a
man in the early stages of decay. The grayish-yellow skin that covered
the thing was like parchment, and appeared to be peeling and rotting away
at the edges. The things’ face was the worst. The cheeks were sunken and
one hideous eye looked swollen and swiveled about, the one small pupil,
training upon the terrorized girl. It leered hideously at the girl. The
other eye was a mere crease or slit. The lips seemed to have rotted away
form the mouth, leaving teeth and gums exposed like the grimace of a skull.
It seemed to grin horribly at Jahlanna as it shambled foreword on bony
legs, its boney arms, equipped with talon-like nails, extended.
The girl did scream then, long and loud.
But as the cave-princess whirled to flee, she saw, with
a shriek, another hideous zombie-thing burst through the moldy dirt in
front of her. The zombie-thing gazed up at her in horrid undead lust on
its horrible countenance.
Jahlanna whirled around,
shielding her eyes form the sight, only to be greeted by another zombie
thing…and another…and another.
The things were emerging from the ground on all sides
of the frenzied girl. Jahlanna threw up her arms to ward them off, but
it would do no good. They were closing in on her. Thin, desiccated beings
they were, with long boney arms and limbs. Oddly enough, they wore loincloths,
like those of true men about their scrawny thighs. These were of dirty
As if the girl was not terrorized enough,
she heard them being to mumble and then to speak. And, gods, help her,
she could understand the words!
“Ours….girl is ours….ours to keep forever…and
“Take…girl…lovely girl…make her ours…..”
The words were in some broken form of
Pellucidaran Common, slow, slurred, and gloating. They knew the girl could
not possibly escape.
“Girl. Lovely. Make her mine….make
She was gripped in such horror
as she had never experienced, not even in the tunnels of the groags.
The beautiful young princess could stand no
more. Mercifully, she collapsed into a swoon, just as the horrors closed
over her. The swarmed over the prostrate girl, fingering her soft, firm
flesh. Jahlanna gave a low moan of horror, some part of her still aware
of the numbing awfulness that had engulfed. It was the moan of a sweet
young thing trapped in nightmare loathsome beyond her comprehension
The zombie things were laughing and croaking, gloating
in foul derision.
“No!” commanded another. “To not touch her, Torag…we
are not to mate with her…at least not yet!”
“Torag will mate this girl!”
“No—we take her to God!”
“Yes…God…God!” said Torag, apparently his lust temporarily
“God! God God!”
The gurgled cry went up form the massed zombie men, as
they lifted the princess, and bore her voluptuous young form away into
the darkness of the mushroom forest.
Lu-gor approached the Land of Awful Shadow.
When he reached of that strange country, he hesitated. As the brutal O-lar
had long lived within the glare of Pellucdar’s noontime sun, the dark land
before him seemed very foreboding. Ordinarily, the cowardly man would not
have dared venture within, for there were told of strange men and monsters
who resided there.
But from afar he had seen the pterosaurs
battle for the possession of the cave-princess. And he had also seen the
small form topple from one to be seized by the other. The aerial battle
had them receded to behind a wall of cliff from Lu-gor’s perspective, and
the he had lost sight of it. But there raised the hope that the girl could
have survived, and if so, he would be the one to claim her.
He strode boldly into the shadowed country
and headed in the direction he had seen the duel between aerial monsters
Here the lush grasses ended, and a barren,
rocky terrain began. But slowly, in the absence of the more familiar plant
life, strange, alien forms began emerge. The ground was carpeted with a
lichen-like mold, sparsely at first, and then in a tick layer. Small weird
growths that appeared to be varieties of fungi began to spring up. There
were those of the more familiar mushroom and toadstool family. Then there
were other weirder forms, some like strange, colorless ferns.
The riot of mold and fungi slowly grew into
a dense jungle of alien vegetation. Though Lu-gor could not have understood
the science of it, these flourished here in the absence of light because
they lacked chlorophyl and relied on other means to persist in this world
of gloom. Strange fauna existed here as well, and Lu-gor saw unnervingly
huge insects and spider-like things cross his path.
There was a rustle to his side.
The caveman whirled around. He saw emerging
form the gloom of the weird stalks an army of things that looked like men.
They were surrounding him. By their shambling gate and weird form, they
were no normal men. Lu-gor gasped in horror as the first one came into
the shallow light.
Its appearance was hideous, like one that was
dead. The man—if that was indeed what it was—had a visage that was indescribably
hideous. Its cheeks were sunken, its skin like the parchment on a mummy.
It appeared as one whose features had rotted away. Its eyeballs swiveled
hideously in their sockets in a strange imitation of life. The thing shambled
forward on boney, elongated legs. The lips appeared to have rotted completely
away form the teeth and gums, leaving a skull-like and ghastly grin. Its
arms, too, were of a hideously boney appearance. The chest cavity was sunken,
and the skin had the awful appearance of decayed jaundice. A few scraggly
wisps of blackish hair persisted on the skull.
Lu-gor gave a wild scram and tuned to run. But he
was now surrounded by the things. They were closing in on both sides of
He did not even think to fire the weapon in
his possession. Instead he reeled back. And more by accident than design,
his thumb squeezed the trigger on the Mahar weapon. And a beam, invisible
to the naked eye, shot forth, killing one of the zombie folk.
The strange beings drew back, muttering
in their own tongue.
Lu-gor, trembling, dared to look.
The zombie-things were glancing form
their fallen comrade to him, muttering to themselves. He realized that
he could understand them. They were speaking a dialect of Pellucidaran
Common, but one more crude then the one he spoke, indicating that it was
perhaps a degenerate form.
The man on the ground was indeed very dead. The others
were prodding him to make certain of this, but he did not move.
So these were not spirits of the undead, after
Nor were they the dead themselves come back
through some primitive sorcery, as was his second thought. In spite of
their appearance, Lu-gor realized they were flesh and blood beings like
himself, and that they could be harmed.
What’s more, they were now
regarding him with what could only be called abject worship. At a motion
form the one who appeared to be their leader, the zombie-men kneeled down
in front of him. The prostrated themselves, moaning in their strange archaic
And a slow, crafty smile crossed Lu-gor’s lips.