The fantastic airship floated through the upper air of
Pellucidar. On board were Clive Neville, and his companions, Alistair Simmons,
Tarok, his mate Valkara, the bison-man Grunth, the Barraboo Jal-mar, Ug-na,
and the giant Hug-lo.
There were a number of sagoth guards on board
They had left the alien world of Pellucidar’s
moon and were now drifting over a range of mountains. There were three
floor –to-ceiling windows on either side of the compartment. Through this
they could see the forms of giant flocks of thipdars that made these mountains
their home. By the side of the great craft, and offtimes visible through
the windows were the forms of the giant Mahars, one on each side. Clive
saw that these were the same male creatures who had sent them on their
mission, the great beasts with strikingly colored fanged beaks.
“Why are they accompanying
us?” Clive asked a sagoth guard.
“The Lords do not trust you,
“Are they going to remain with
us after we land?”
“They will keep you under surveillance,
so that you do not abandon your search for the gilak Lu-gor. You will not
always see them, but they will be there. They will also come to your aide,
if a beast attacks. Or if they spot the renegade human from them air, or
sense his thought patterns, as he will certainly seek the cover of the
forest. If that should happen, the Lords will signal you.”
Clive could not resist asking at that
point regarding his earlier observation regarding the two Mahar scientists/rulers.
“Forgive me,” he said. “I did not mean any disrespect when I spoke earlier,
but it seemed that they were having a disagreement. As it concerned us,
I would like to know what it is.”
The gorilla-man shot him a glance that Clive
took for outrage, though the facial expression of the ape-men were somewhat
different from a human. But to his surprise, the sagoth said, “One such
as yourself is not to be concerned with the affairs of the Lords. But yes,
there has been a feud of sorts between Ka-ul-na and Zu-ul-ka.”
“Those are the names of the Mahar rulers?”
“Yes. The two hate one another.”
“Zu-al-ka once maintained that the gilak species
was incapable of true rational thought, and that no such world as Pellucidar
exists. But it seems he has now been proven wrong, as the Lords are preparing
for conquest of the land of Sari, and possibly of your world as well, if
it truly exists. But Zu-al-ka still believes that the gilak species should
remain only as a source of food, resources, and experimentation of the
Mahar race. Granting them any sort of privilege would prove disastrous.
“And Ka-ul-na disagrees?”
“He believes that the gilak is a sentient species.
The expulsion from Phutra, and the empire of Sari have proven this—or so
he believes. He is for eliminating the use of gilaks in experiments and
as a food source.”
“So Ka-ul-na wishes my race and his to live
“Of course not.” the sagoth growled. “He at least
knows that your kind is not on the level of the Mahar. Once the forces
of Lords destroy the kingdom of Sari and retake what was stolen from them,
the gilak will be subjugated, as they should be. But Ka-ul-na wishes to
afford your kind exalted status nonetheless. Should Zu-ul-ka have his way,
experimentation upon your kind should continue unimpeded. He believes that
should the gilak be granted even meager freedom, the loss experiments would
harm Mahar medicine and science irreparably. Personally, hope that Zu-ul-ka
dos have his way. I cannot imagine the tunnels of Zunah free of their human
slaves. But unfortunately, it seems many of the Mahar have come about to
Ka-ul-na’s way of thinking. And worse, perhaps even other races will be
“Do your own people not wish to be free of the Lords?”
“Free?” the sagoth chortled bitterly. “The
Lords protect and favor us. If it happens, we sagoths will doubtless be
turned loose, back to our miserable feuding tribes. We will no longer be
favored by the Lords, and will no longer be able to trade with them. What
shall we do with our human prisoners, if the Lords will not accept them?”
“Perhaps you could turn them loose.”
“What purpose would that serve? Hah!
You are mad, human.”
“Perhaps if all our people could accept one
another as equals, there would be no need for slaves.”
“Even a gilak like you cannot believe that! A sagoth
would be enslaved at once by any gilak nation in Pellucidar. You gilaks
make slaves of each other all the time—as do we sagoths. There would be
no world without slaves, man.”
“You are saying that Ka-ul-na is either mad
“I am not saying that, gilak, because
to think such of a lord is forbidden. But if I could think it, then yes,
I would say that his beliefs are foolish indeed. But enough of your prattle,
Clive said nothing more,
though he considered the bitter rivalry between the two Mahars. He hoped
of course, that the ideas of Ka-ul-na would triumph. And it seemed, form
what the sagoth had told him that they were. Even here, amidst these inhuman
beings, a kind of social liberalism was taking place, as the Mahars discovered
more about their world, and the other races with which they shared it.
Of course, the humans of Pellucidar, and of the surface world, if the Mahars
truly succeeded in waging war with it, would be very much opposed to being
ruled, especially by a race of monsters, no matter how generous Ka-ul-na
thought his ideals were. Freedom was freedom. Men would give their lives
for it. He supposed the Mahar race had yet to consider this.
The ship passed through the great towering
peaks of the mountain range. The giant thipdars were in vast abundance
here, but none dared to attack the ship. Clive supposed it was because
the Mahars flapping on either side of the ship were using their mighty
mental powers to keep the non-intelligent flying dragons away.
At last the ship landed. The ramp opened and
the prisoners, prodded by their sagoth overseers filed out.
The two Mahars flapped down in front of them.
Clive tried to discern the difference between Zu-ul-ka, and Ka-ul-na. But
he could not tell them apart; both just looked like huge winged monsters
The Mahar nearest to them addressed him.
He supposed from the feel of the vibrations, that it was the same one who
had addressed him before, the one he assumed to be Ka-ul-na.
You will now begin your hunt
for the renegade. Recover our weapon. You are not free. Will will sense
your mental vibrations, and send sagoths on your trail if you attempt escape.
Do not disobey on peril of your life.
Will do. Clive thought back.
The two gigantic reptiles flapped off into
The sagoths began bearding the ship, their
services apparently no longer needed. The ship lifted off and rose slowly
toward the weird moon of Pellucidar.
After some matter of debate, the companions
decided that they should spit into two separate groups to search for the
princess and her abductor. One would consist of Tarok, the warrior
of Nu-al, and Valkara, Alistair Simmons and Jal-mar.
The other would be Clive, Grunth, Hug-lo,
They would each skirt the edge
of the vast forested in opposite directions, searching for sign that the
thipdar had landed, and what direction the flight of Lu-gor and his fair
captive had taken.
As they set off, Clive looked about.
The heavens showed no sign of the flying monsters Zu-ul-ka and Ka-ul-na,
but he knew that the two rival Mahars were circling up there somewhere,
and he had no doubt their progress would be monitored.
As he strode along at his side Clive
felt himself about Hug-lo, their giant companion. Doubtless, the man suffered
from a glandular disorder which here and Pellucidar had gained him a great
advantage over his fellow cavemen. But it also might mean that he would
not live long. The man looked like he had lived the equivalent of at least
thirty years, which was older, Clive thought, than his surface counterparts.
Perhaps the sun had something to do with that. He remembered how David
Innes seemed not to have aged since his entrance to this world. Still,
it was possible that the life of the giant would be cut short by the same
disorder that had made him a mighty and feared warrior. The thought was
a tragic one, for the giant had proven himself an honorable warrior, though
both he and Clive sought the princess as his mate. The Mahar race, Clive
thought suddenly, might provide and answer to Hug-lo’s problem. They were
scientists and physicians. Could they have found a way to fix Hug-lo’s
glandular problem? It was possible, and he realized that there might well
be more than a little good to come out of the reptiles’ experiments, maybe
even the unethical ones. Perhaps they had even discovered secrets of medicine
that remained unknown to the scientists of the surface world. If the humans
did manage to triumph into their war with the Mahar race, it would do well
to remember that. It might be hard to convince other humans of that, as
the gilaks of Pellucidar feared and hated the Mahar, and for good reason.
They would doubtless wish to only to kill the reptilian overlords, and
destroy their devil-machines. He and Simmons would find it difficult to
convince the others of the potent ial for good represented by the Mahar
technology. Even such as Tarok would doubtless prove hard-headed on this
point. But Clive realized that they had to try.
At last, they
came upon a great beast, a giant ryth, or Pleistocene cave bear, standing
above the corpse of its kill. They were at first prepared to go around
the beast, to give it wide birth, When Clive noticed something; the beat’s
kill was a thipdar, and it was
Unusual indeed that the giant bear could have managed to bring down
one of the flying reptiles. Then they saw that the dead pterosaur bore
bridle and reins.
The observed the great shaggy brute form a
safe distance. They could see that the ryth himself bore the scars of rakings
from the clawed wings of its victim. It was obvious that a brief but titanic
battle had ensued, and that the ryth, now engaged in feasting upon the
remains of winged reptile, had triumphed. The thipdar, being a trained
specimen, had not immediately taken to the air, but had waited for its
rider to return—which of course had not happened.
They waited for the
giant bear to finish gorging itself. Once the monster, satiated, had lumbered
off, they searched the entire area around the remains of the flying dragon.
Soon enough they found the great splay-footed prints of the renegade man
of O-lar. They were impressed fairly deep into the earth, which indicted
that he was still carrying his captive. The path led them into the forest.
The trail here was far more discernible in the thick mulch carpeting the
forest floor. The heavy prints of the caveman continued until they reached
a clearing. Here some struggle had taken place; Lu-gor had thrown down
his captive. Lu-gor had doubtless intended to ravage her. But there were
some spots of blood, and prints made by the knees of the caveman. This
indicated that Jahlanna had managed to injure her abductor, and the thought
of what appeared to have taken place made Clive smile in triumph at his
From here, the dainty prints of the girl were
in evidence, as they led from the clearing and it was obvious Jahlanna
had managed to escape. The prints of L-gor were impressed over the fleeing
prints of the girl. They followed the tacks through the vast forest over
and under fallen logs and around the boles of might trees. At last they
emerged into an open park-like forest.
The girl’s prints continued for a few more spaces—then
“What could have happened?” Clive said.
“Do you not know?” Hug-lo chided bitterly. “I would
guess that you have not lived all your life in Pellucidar.”
Clive looked at him curiously.
“We have often found the tracks of warriors end thus.
It almost always means one thing. They have been seized by a hunting thipdar.”
Clive felt his heart shrink and shrivel within
him. No! he wanted to scream.
“There is nothing any of us can do to save
your princess now.”
“I fear he is correct,” said Ug-na. “It is
all too common to fall to the fangs and claws of a thipdar. If it were
a mere man, even of my tribe, it would only be life as usual. But the loss
of such a young and lovely she is cause for special grief.”
“She’s got to be alive!” Clive turned toward the
distant mountains. They were the mountains of the thidpars, the same range
they had passed through before they landed. Some of the great winged shapes
were gliding distantly on thermal currents. “We don’t know she’s dead.
Even if you won’t help me, and going to look for her. I will not give up
until I find her remains.”
“It is useless, my friend,” said Hug-lo in
his great voice. “I sought to claim the girl myself, but she is lost
to both of us. But you may seek her if you wish.” He seemed to pause for
thought. “Perhaps there is a chance, though it has never happened before
that I know of. You may need Hug-lo’s strength.”
Clive knew that Hug-lo merely wanted
to claim Jahlanna for himself once she was rescued. But he was right. He
might need the giant’s strength, particularly upon entering the domain
of the great winged saurians.
“What about the Lords?” objected Grunth.
“You are both fools if you insist on rescuing a mate who is doubtless dead
by now. The thipdars would pick you off the cliffs before you even got
close. Besides, the Lords are watching us. I know them. Just because they
are invisible does not mean they are not there. Disobey them, and they
will surely kill you or worse.”
“I fear he is right,” said Ug-na. ‘We must
find the weapon and return it to them.”
“Screw the Lords and their weapon!” Clive
shouted. ‘What do you think they plan to do with it anyway? They only want
to use it to kill more gilaks!” he looked at Grunth. “And ganaks too. Do
you want those filthy bird-things to retake the Empire, and make you their
Clive would doubtless have set off in
pursuit with or without them. But Ug-na said suddenly, “Look here!”
All of them crowded around.
They were the prints of Lu-gor. The man had fallen to his knees in the
thick grass, probably in terror of the thipdar’s attack. Clive was absolutely
disgusted. Even with the weapon, the man had not even tried to save the
girl. But then he noticed that Lu-gor’s prints, as Ug-na pointed out, did
not end here or retreat, but continued on. They followed them, and saw
that Lu-gor appeared to be headed in the direction of the peaks of the
thipdars…and the Land of Awful Shadow.
And if Lu-gor held some hope that the girl
was still alive, Clive realized that he had to do the same. They all headed
in the direction the man had taken…….
Through the eerie perpetual night
of the Land of Awful shadow, the corpse-men carried the semi-conscious
form of Llana of Nu-al. Mercifully, the girl could not see her captors.
At last they came to a village, here in this land
of endless night. It resembled innumerable other villages throughout Pellucidar,
with its flat, thatched-roof huts. The logs that comprised these buildings
were made of the giant mushrooms that thrived within this land of darkness.
But the strange difference lay among the inhabitants.
Aside from their cadaverous appearance was the eerie and total absence
of any female member among them.
They approached the largest dwelling, which
was a bizarre edifice indeed. It was a hut like the rest, only much larger;
a complex of buildings seeming stitched together, which somehow did not
match the construction of the rest.
The heavy front doors of the dwelling parted, and
a figure came forth.
He was a diminutive man, smaller by far than the
other corpse-men, shorter even then Jahlanna. He had a repulsive face,
and a short, skinny, but limber frame, and his strides were powerful and
purposeful. He was dressed in an elaborate headdress of feathers and spines.
His skin was yellowish and jaundice-like as were Jahlanna’s captors, though
he did not appear as corpse like as did they.
At the sight of him, the other corpse men kneeled
and bowed down.
“God!” cried the leader of the corpse-men. “Great
exulted one, bestower of long life upon our people, we bring top you the
young, ripe she who has had the misfortune to wander into our land.” He
lay the unconscious girl at the feet of the scrawny “deity”.
The personage looked at the goddess-like
nude form lying before him, peering with detached scrutiny. The girl moaned.
The man called god grinned, displaying
a set of repulsive, badly corroded teeth. “You have done well my servants.
She will prove useful to us all.”
Again Jahlanna moaned. She stirred tossing
her head. “Clive….Clive is that you, come to rescue me? Where…?”
The lilac of the beautiful princess
flew upon. Above her was the repulsive man leering at her. Jahlanna covered
her mouth to stifle a scream of horror. The girl regained her feet in an
instant as her plight flooded through her. The horrid memories came flooding
back, memories that ought to have been a nightmare, but weren’t.
She saw the legions of corpse-men, gathered
around her, all with horrid rictus like grins on their horror-movie faces.
She screamed wildly. In a horrid paroxysm
of terror the girl through herself into the spindly arms of the God-man.
He was, though his appearance, too, was horrid, the most normal-looking
of those present. “Save me!” the girl cried. Her action and words were
instinctive impelled by sheer terror.
The small man gripped her hard, and she shrieked.
He was far stronger than he appeared, and Jahlanna supposed, in her wild
terror, that some strange sorcery was at work here. How else would the
men of this strange tribe be walking dead men?
The little man through her to the ground. Jahlanna
lay there sobbing . She turned her beautiful, tearful face up at “God”.
Jahlanna was used to having men gaze upon her
unclothed form and face with awe and admiration. And she saw there on the
man’s exaggerated face the merest flicker of what might have those qualities.
But it was instantly replaced by an expression of rage and sick disgust,
as though what he beheld revolted him. “You are an unclean vessel girl—an
engine of men’s destruction! Only an evil god formed one such as you, in
an attempt to waylay pious men! I have no doubt that foolish, idiotic males
of this infantile world have fought for you, maybe even killed themselves
for you in brainless battles! But rest assured that will not happen here.”
Jahlanna turned frightfully at the mass of
cadaver folk. She saw at once that the man—she supposed he was a chief
of some sort—was wrong. His followers were not like him. Some of them were
gazing at her in lust even now. The girl shakily regained her feet, though
she backed away. They would not come close to her, though—the chief, if
such he was, would not permit it. That much she knew. The corpse-men looked
in fact like few of them had ever seen a girl before, or at least not one
as comely as she. Females, for some mad reason, were extremely rare in
this dreadful land. But their lust was the stupid lust of prepubescent
boy. Some, she noticed with a shudder, were even peering at her firm young
breasts, and at her region of Love, as though curious about how she differed
“Oh, some of these pathetic creatures
would doubtless mate with you if I were to let them,” the man said, as
though sensing her thoughtless. They are as stupid as any other males,
much as I have tried to convert them. You are a harlot, a vessel of lust,
and they know it. But I have a way to make you make up for your evil nature.”
Jahlanna whirled to face him, then shrank back. Some
of the corpse-folk chortled at her terror. The innocent, savage girl knew
not what a “harlot” was, but the word could mean nothing good. “Who
are you?” she wept.
The little man laughed, a weird, high-pitched
sound. “Who am I? I am god! God of these people. I am immortal, or nearly
so, and I have made these wretched people immortal as well, in exchange
for their service to me. But it is young rip females like you—the very
tools of Evil—that I have been able to do it, as you shall find out before
you serve your purpose!”
“You are mad!” the girl screamed suddenly.
“”Am I?” chortled the insane dwarf. “We shall
see, harlot, we shall see!”
The God-man called to his corpse-like servitors “Bind
The corpse men swarmed over Jahlanna. The girl
screamed, and once again lapsed into a swoon, “God’s” laughter ringing
in her ears.
Clive Neville and his companions approached
the realm of darkness which was known to the Pellucidarans as the Land
of Awful Shadow. Its appearance was foreboding, but they strode within
and set off following Lu-gor’s prints. The land grew steadily darker as
they pressed on. The ground began to grow carpeted with some kind of strange
mold resembling lichens. A forest of grotesque trees began to grow up around
them. Clive was reminded of the pictures in natural history books of the
primeval vegetation of the Devonian age, the first plants ever to grow
on land. But these, he knew, were like nothing ever unearthed by surface
world paleobotanists, nothing like anything that ever evolved outside of
this strange shrouded ecosystem. They were some kind of weird lichen-trees,
related to the stuff now carpeting the ground in thick layers. Too, there
were strange guni and molds, some also having attained the size and stature
of trees. Some of these gave off a weird, multi-colored florescence, which
bathed the darkened world in a multi-hued, alien glow. The most spectacular
among these were huge mushroom-trees with huge umbrella-like caps.
The whir of giant wings sounded in the
strange forest. They caught sight here and there of huge gigantic insects,
monstrous dragonflies perhaps, like those which infested the jungles of
the carboniferous period. They were size of hawks and eagles, and may well
have served the same ecological function. For there was indeed prey in
this shrouded other world. Clive saw squirming things like worms or caterpillars
crawling through the mulch, dumbly feeding upon its rich nutrients.
All at once, a bizarre and formidable
creature reared up monstrously in their path. Even Hug-lo seemed a bit
startled, though the creature was diminutive compared to him.
It resembled a vast multi-legged arthropod,
not unlike a millipede, but fully as long as station wagon. The thing reared
up, wriggling its astounding multiplicity of legs, and clacking its fearsome
pincer-like jaws. Not one of the companions knew what the monster was besides
a weird denizen of this bizarre shadow-realm. Clive guessed that the giant
arthropod must have evolved here in this alien ecosystem. But had Professor
Simmons had been present among them he might have recognized the thing
as an arthorpleara of the Silurian, the largest arthropod ever to exist.
He could also have informed them of its vegetarian habits.
But the warriors stood firm, uncertain if the monster should
prove dangerous. As it was, the great segmented creature, clacked its mandibular
jaws as a threat them lowered itself to moldy floor to scuttle off harmlessly.
They breathed a sigh of relief and continued on.
They were passing through a narrow gorge with high rocks
on either side, when they heard a sharp hissed. They looked up. Above them
on a rock was a large and extraordinary-appearing reptile. It might have
been as long as a python, and was shaped in a like manner. Only this snake-like
had tiny, almost vestigial legs, which enabled it to clamber over the rocks.
Its mouth gaped open to reveal two enormous front fangs like those possessed
by a rattlesnake or King Cobra. They appeared to drip a clear, translucent
fluid that was indisputably venom. Again, they had no idea what the creature
was, and opted to stand at the ready in case of attack. Had Alistair Simmons
been present he might have surmised that the beast was some kind of creature
descended from tanystropheus, an extraordinarily long-necked reptile from
the Triassic age. The species still existed in fact, along the shores of
Pellucidar’s Paleolithic oceans, there, the long-necked reptiles preyed
upon the myriads of fish which swarmed therein. But the necks of those
bizarre reptiles, longer by half then their lizard-ish bodies, were as
stiff and unfeasible as a fishing rod.
The beast now threatening the men had a neck also elongated
beyond belief. But it was as supple and coiling as that of giant a boa
constrictor. Somehow the beast had evolved form the tanystropheus into
a serpentine hunter of land prey. And unlike the giant millipede, this
was no vegetarian.
Clive supposed that a party of armed warriors would be
enough to deter the beast; he was wrong. The monster sprang. The warriors
leapt back banishing their spears. But the serpent-beast had already singled
out Ug-na, who was undoubtedly the oldest and weakest among their number.
The reptile might well have killed and devoured the old man, were it not
for Hug-lo. The giant intercepted it, seizing the serpent’s fanged head
in his giant hand. He held on to the hissing reptile, as it lashed the
coils of its hideous length about the Giant One. The coils were thick and
strong, like a thick cables of steel. But unlike the python of the surface
world, the bizarre reptilian possessed the additional advantage of its
four taloned feet, which it hooked into the giant of Haglar with primal
But mighty though was the
strength of the great reptile, the strength of Hug-lo the Giant One proved
mightier still. Holding the serpent-monster’s supple neck in his powerful
grip, the gargantuan human twisted the coiling length, until the beast
hissed furiously, and sweat broke out upon Hug-lo’s brow. There was a dry,
thick snapping sound as the creature’s spine was severed. The mighty coils
relaxed, and Hug-lo battered the twitching thing against the rock walls,
until at last it lay as limp as a broken toy. He kicked it away contemptuously.
They went on.
Clive could not helped be reminded of a similar
scene he’d remembered from King Kong he’d seen at the local theatre as
a boy—the scene where the giant ape crushed a constrictor-like dinosaur
in just the same fashion. At the time he and his boyhood friends thought
the creatures were the most realistic they’d ever seen, and could hardly
believe they were fake models only inches long.
Here in Pellucidar though, the memories of what he’d
seen at the local cinema in that other world seemed as hopelessly artificial
as they were.
They had not ventured much further into bizarre
realm, when yet another terrifying monster confronted them. This was a
monstrous black spider, resembling a huge tarantula. It was covered with
coarse, jet-black hair, and sported four pairs of hellishly green compound
eyes, above hideous, tarantula-like fangs, oozing a greenish venom. Though
spiders the size of human infants did once infest the forests of the Silurian,
this creature was something newly evolved in this strange realm. It was
monstrously huge, the size of large dog.
The men stopped again readied their spears. Hug-lo raised
his giant Ax, prepared for another life-death battle. But the monster,
though undoubtedly a predator, appeared to think better of attacking the
armed party, and scuttled off into the gloom of the forest in search of
The continued, ever on the alert. This country
was infested with weird and terrible life-forms that much they had learned,
and here, as elsewhere within Pellucidar, they had no choice but to remain
Clive began to notice huge flying forms above
the flaring tops of the mushrooms. They were not insects. They pale in
color, and flapped on huge, membraned wings. He guessed that the might
be some sort of huge bat, having evolved in this world of gloom. As they
continued on however, and the mushroom forest began to grow sparse, some
of the flying shapes swooped in unnerving near.
They gripped their spears, in case the creatures
should prove dangerous.
“They look like urths,” Ug-na said.
“What are urths?” Clive asked.
The others looked at him like he was stupid.
“They are not native to my own country,” Clive explained.
“Urths are small winged reptiles,” said Hug-lo. “They
feed on the blood of huge animals like tandor and lidi. Normally they are
very small. But these are the hugest I’ve ever seen.”
One of the giant urths swooped in low, and hung in
the air before them. Clive was astounded. He saw now that the thing was
indeed reptilian in nature. Its wingspread must have been nearly six feet.
It was a pterosaur of some sort, but its head was small and blunt, batrachian-like.
The snake-like mouth opened to an unbelievably wide angle, nearly ninety
degrees, to reveal a pair of elongated fangs. But these were not those
of serpent, but more like the hollow incisors of a vampire bat. Its
leathery skin was a pale dead-white, ghostlike. Neither Clive nor his companions
realized that they were looking upon an evolved form of Jelopterus, a tiny
winged reptile of the Triassic age, which would not be unearthed by surface
world paleontologists until the Twenty-first century.
With a hideous screech, the vampiric pterosaur launched
itself-directly at Hug-lo!
The giant intercepted the winged monster, seizing it by
its wildly thrashing pinions. The reptilian vampire shrieked and hissed,
clashing its fangs, seeking the Giant One’s throat. Its hooked, hawklike
talons trashed futilely Hug-lo did not have problem with this creature,
though. The Giant One snapped the fragile bones of the pterosaur’s wings
like stems, and ripped the vineed membranes to shreds. He flung the creature’s
remains to the ground.
But the rest of the swarm was now attacking.
Flapping and shrieking like a horde of hellish reptilian
bats, the jelopterus flock closed in.
“Don’t let them get close!” Hug-lo warned.
They stabbed with their spears, and smote with their
axes. The giant Hug-lo seized more of the thrashing reptiles from out of
the air, tearing the screeching horrors to pieces. Clive managed to fir
off his pistol, killing a number of the things. They crashed to the forest
floor like tattered kites.
At last, the remainder of the flock took flight,
swarming off above the land in search of easier prey.
The companions allowed themselves a collective sigh
The prints of Hug-lo remained discernible in
the thick mold. Then they came to spot where there were suddenly a great
number of other prints, seemingly those of men.
Apparently a party of human warriors had confronted
Lu-gor, and had captured him. But what manner of strange men infested this
In any event, the followed the prints until at last
a village appeared in the distance. It appeared to be a typical Pellucidaran
village, save that there was some commotion going on.
lay on her back on a concrete slab. The girl’s wrists and ankles were tightly
bound. The shriveled little personage known as “God” to the cadaver people
was leering over her. The girl was in a delirium, not knowing what to expect.
She had been taken to a strange room in the complex, sort of like a cross
between a sacrificial chamber and a laboratory. Sealed jars full of leaves,
tubers, molds and fungi lined the shelves above. There were other things
contained in the jars too, fluids, bones, organs, preserved animal
fetuses. And —other unidentifiable things. There were tables lain out with
a variety of bizarre tools and utensils, like the instruments of a mad
surgeon. These looked fashioned out of bone, possibly both human and animal.
There were also bundles of strange fungi and herbs littered everywhere,
and scrolls of parchment, the like of which Jahlanna had never seen, save
in the Mahar cities, for her people had never mastered the art of writing.
Then there were the grotesque specimens that were hung form the roof, like
the ingredients of some loathsome witch’s brew. These included small large
insects and small reptiles, all undoubtedly native to the Land of Awful
Shadow. Among these were some grotesque, bat-like flying lizard, which
Jahlanna half recognized as a species of urth, though she was much too
frightened to give her bizarre surroundings much thought.
The girl was bound to a stone table which looked
rather like an alter. Beneath this was a great rug made form the beautiful
rossetted the coat of varath , a species of leopard-like saber-tooth feline.
The man examined the girl’s body. Formed like that
of a white goddess it was. But the girl would no longer enrapture men lead
them into the poison of corruption. “Fear not, oh, Beautiful One,” said
God in his squeaking, unnatural voice. “For your death shall give life
to our race. He bent over the face of the prostrate girl, holing in his
grip a sharp, gleaming instrument that a surface-worlder would have recognized
instantly as a hypodermic syringe. Only this hypodermic was a crude one,
was fashioned from pulp, wood, and the hollowed out fang of a viper.
He held the instrument close to the girl’s
fine cheekbone. Jahlanna could only watch, sobbing, her violet eyes brimming
with tears of terror. He was about to inject her in this place. When there
was a sudden crash.
God leaped back. The doorway had crashed in. In the
frame stood a man. For a bewildered second , Jahlanna thought that it was
her mate, Clive Neville, come to save her, and she mouthed his name, dreamily.
But the form in the doorway was huge, hulking, and almost misshapen. She
saw a tangled matt of red-black hair, and almost unlovely face.
“Who are you, to dare disturb the work of God?” God demanded.
“My name is Lu-gor,” said Lu-gor. “I have come for
“You may not have her! She is the future of
Lu-gor laughed. And then he raised the crystal-powered
weapon of the Mahars. “Are you chief here?” he asked.
“Chief? I am God!”
Lu-gor laughed. “Then there is a new God here. May
the old God die!”
The man was clearly still unafraid of Lu-gor, accustomed
to having his own will unchallenged. But when the caveman fired his weapon,
God gave a tortured scream, and collapsed.
Lu-gor entered and gazed down gloatingly
upon the nude and bound form of Jahlanna. The girl gazed up at him with
loathing. Lu-gor had undoubtedly saved her life. Still, she knew full well
what the man intended, and what God would have done almost seemed merciful.
“Are you not going to thank your new mate,
“Jahlanna thanks you,” She said coldly “We shall
both leave—but not together.”
‘”Lu-gor. Is now king of these Dead Men. Jahlanna
will be his queen!”
“Queen of these people? In this land
of darkness, with you? Never!” cried Jahlanna. “Id’ rather die!”
Lu-gor laughed. “I see that you are trussed up nicely,
my she-tarag. I have business to attend to—then I will see to you.” Lu-gor
left the chamber. From without came the sounds of combat.
Clive Neville and his comrades approached the village
of the cadaver folk. It appeared at first like an ordinary cave village.
But then they saw them inhabitants. They were
shambling toward them, in a weird shuffling gait, all with axes and spears.
They were clad in naught by filthy animal hides. But the most striking
thing about them is that they resembled an army of the living dead. Their
skins was a yellowish white, the color of jaundice. Their limbs elongated,
boney and sickly in appearance. Their faces, like those of a month old
corpse, just experiencing the effects of rot, were the most horrific. And
to add to the picture they moaned a broken, slurred form of the common
tongue. “Strangers..kill them…for God! The new God…slayer of the Old God….we
kill for his name!”
Clive readied his pistol
and fired off another cartridge. One of the corpse things went down. He
was right—these things weren’t really walking dead, they couldn’t be. But
just what were they? Whatever they were, he had proven they could be killed.
The horde of the corpse men stopped. The starred
at their dead companion, then began mumbling amongst them selves, something
about how there were more then two gods in the world.
Then Clive remembered:
that had been his final round. He hastily checked his cartridge in his
belt. No—not one more left. But the corpse men did not know that.
‘What are you waiting for!” shouted a strident
voice. Clive though he recognized it.
The corpse-men parted, and through the pack stepped
Lu-gor, and arrogant grin stretching his features from ear-to-ear. He looked
a bit intimidated at the sight of the Giant One, but only for a moment.
He still clutched the proto-type weapon he had stolen, which was undoubtedly
how he was able to control these people—if people they were. “Red-hair!”
he cried. “So you came after you mate did you?”
“Where is she?” Clive demanded.
Lu-gor through back his head and laughed. “In
a safe place, I assure you. You need not fear for her safety.”
“What have you done to her?”
“Nothing, of course,” said Lu-gor with mock
innocence. “Why should I wish to harm my own mate?”
Clive was tempted to hurtle himself at the caveman
at that moment, but held himself in check. “She is not yours.”
Lu-gor laughed uproariously. “Capture them!” he
The cadaver-men shuffled forward, but seemed hesitant,
knowing the power displayed by Clive’s weapon they looked from Clive to
Lu-gor, not knowing what to do.
“What are you waiting for? Capture them and take
them to God’s hut! I have a special surprise in store for these “guests!”
The corpse-men shambled forward, spears and axes
at the ready. Still they were cautious, but Clive’s weapon refused to speak
its voice of death. The companions raised their weapons. Then, seeing that
the medicine of the New God was apparently far greater then the power the
red-haired stranger possessed, the horde attacked.
They flew howling upon them, weapons raised.
“Do not kill them!” shrieked Lu-gor. “Not yet!”
The horde swarmed over them. The companions,
under no such obligation, killed and smote at the corpse-monsters. The
Giant One swung his mighty ax with incredible force, until the ground was
littered with smashed corpses of the corpse folk. But at length, the numbers
of the corpse-like foes proved overwhelming. They swarmed over them like
maggots, and even Hug-lo was dragged beneath their revolting numbers. The
last thing Clive heard was Lu-gor’s arrogant laughter ringing in his ears
as a stone ax smashed into his skull, rendering him unconscious.
Clive awoke with a rather
bad headache in the chamber of God. The first thing he noticed were that
his companions had all been bound with him. Lu-gor was not present. The
place looked like some kind of weird laboratory. There were vials filled
with herbs and fluids, and dozens of dried and preserved specimens, some
of them hanging grotesquely form the ceiling.
Clive looked and saw the beautiful face and form
of Jahlanna, the girl he had traveled so far to rescue.
The girl was bound on the floor as he and his companions.
“Jahlanna!” he exclaimed.
“Clive!” she cried. “You’ve come to rescue me at
“What did that Lu-gor do to you?”
“Oh! It was dreadful. He is a terrible man. He took
me on the thipdar, while you were fighting the Mahars of Xuthrah. I escaped
him in the forest, after we landed.” She explained how she had then been
captured by the wild thipdar, and how she fell into this weird land of
darkness, and then ran afoul of the corpse-people.
“Then—Lu-gor did not bring you here?”
“No! he must have followed me.”
“Was it he who bound you in this chamber?”
“No, it was—“
She gave a slight shriek, and they all looked to see the
pathetic form of “God,” crawling across the floor, one of his frail arms
“Who is that?” asked Clive.
“It was he who brought me here! He is the chief
of these people, and he is a madman. They call him god, but he is only
an insane man. He tied me on the alter, and was about to do something dreadful,
when Lu-gor found us. I thought that Lu-gor had killed him with the weapon
he stole from the Mahars, but he still lives.”
Clive asked the man, “Who are you?”
“He lies.” said Jahlanna. “Gods do not bleed.”
“Do not speak, harlot!” the little man said.
“I am still God.”
“The girl is right.” Clive told him. “You are
no god, only a pathetic little man.”
Somehow, the psychic beam had left the
man crippled. Lu-gor did not know exactly how to use the weapon yet.
“It looks as though you might need
our help.” Clive said. “You will recover form the weapon, but the man called
Lu-gor is now ruling your people. He is their god now. We can stop him
if you untie us.”
The little man’s viperfish little eyes shown with
defiance at first. But then he nodded. “Perhaps…you are right, outlander.”
The little man untied all their bonds. But still they made no move to escape
their prison. “God” was still weak, and they wanted to give him time to
recover before they dealt with Lu-gor.
“Okay.” The small, yellowish skinned
man said, as he sat down amongst them, “I shall tell you my story. No,
I am not truly a god, although until the man you call Lu-gor shot me, I
almost believed myself to be one. The common tongue of the gilak is not
my native language. No, I am not even from your world. Though you will
not believe it, I am not from Pellucidar at all, but from a land where
the sun does not remain still in the sky and travels across the heavens,
then vanishes from sight leaving the land in darkness, then rising on the
other side of the world to begin its journey anew.”
Clive smiled. “I believe you.”
“You mock me.” the small man said.
“I come from that world as well. I entered
through the north polar opening.”
“Hmmmm. Perhaps then, you speak the truth. I have
lived long within Pellucidar, and have yet to see a tribe with your precise
hair coloring. But then, I have seen no such a person in my own world either.”
“If you are from the surface, how did you get here?”
“My true name is Yendi. I came from a great surface
great continent called Africa. My home then, perhaps hundreds or even thousands
of years whence, was a deep valley within a vast and mighty jungle . My
people then were a tribe known as the Kavuru. We were the only white men
on the continent south of Great Desert, save for a few scattered colonies
of vanished civilizations. The origins of our own people were lost in antiquity,
save that we came from somewhere to the north, beyond the Desert. We were
a race of celibate priests, who had discovered the secret of immortality.
I myself have lived for perhaps a thousand or more years.”
“He is mad.” said Jahlanna.
“You know nothing, harlot!”
“Do not speak to her as you did!”
Clive snarled at him.
Yendi drew back in involuntary
fright. “The great ancestors of my people discovered an elixir or eternal
youth,” he continued. “The potion required many ingrediants -- special
herbs, the spinal fluids of leopards, which we bred for that very purpose.
But the most vital ingredient of all was the glands of young women, the
very vessels of sin! This potion solidified into pellets or pills that
gave us long life once ingested. But these had to taken on a regular basis.
That is why we were forced to lure young women to our village. Mostly our
victims were of the black tribes who surrounded us. Sometimes we would
capture a girl who chanced somehow to wonder into our land from the dusky-skinned
peoples to the north or east, and occasionally from the lost colonies.
Once, we managed to capture a female specimen of a strange race from a
distant country. She was as beautiful as any of the young maids we had
snared--though Kavuru are not supposed to notice this! –she had a silky
coat of fur, and a long silky furred tail!
“Her name, I remember was To-ro, which
meant “purple blossom,” and she came from a land where all men were tailed,
in a valley ringed by a vast swamp that was said to be the domain of strange
monsters as well, including a giant three-horned dragon, greater than a
bull elephant! At any rate, that was when the trouble began for myself
and the high priest, a surely fellow named Kavandvanda. I was second in
command you see, and to be honest, I was ambitious, and wished to secure
my place as ruler. We were both youthful, muscular, handsome men in those
days, thanks to the pellets of longevity. I should still be so, but
wait till you here my tale! Kavandavanda and I were both bitter rivals
of one another. But I knew his one weakness, and used it to my advantage.
In spite of all his talk of the perils of feminine flesh, it was suspected
that occasionally the High Priest would take a fancy to one of our captured
females, and kept her a while as his pet, before tiring of her, or fearing
discovery, and had her killed. He always insisted that the female escaped,
or course, so it had not been proven yet. But Kavandavana had taken a liking
to this To-ro, it seemed. I suspected it, for he kept on delaying the creation
of the pellets. Finally, I did some spying, and caught Kavandavanda attempting
to rape the girl in his royal chamber. I told him I would rouse all our
fellow Kavuru, and have him killed.
But at that moment, someone hit me on the back
of the skull with a cudgel. I learned later that it was the girl’s lover,
a tailed warrior of her race, come form the lost land to rescue her. I
do not know what became of To-ro, but apparently she and her mate fled
back to the land of tailed men and three-horned dragons. But when I awakened,
and found myself bound and gagged.
Kavandvanda--curse his soul!—had told the Kavuru that it was I who
had allowed the girl’s escape, and that we would now go another month without
the replenishing our youth. I was to be thrown to the leopards. I still
remember Kavandvana’s gloating face! But I was able to escape my captors,
and flee the land of the Kavuru. I knew that I could never return, so I
fled across the continent, through dark and deadly jungles. The black tribes
saw me for the hated Kavuru, and would attempt to kill me on sight. I learned
to avoid them. But my nearest brush with death came from a party of white-skinned
warriors form the City of Cathne, of the valley of Onthar. There
race bore weapons of steel, and drove lion-driven chariots.
“It seemed that a certain Cathnean noble, one
Caldor by name, had a young niece who had been abducted and slain by the
Kavuru. When their patrol spotted me, they gave chase. I was able to loose
them in thick jungle, but Caldor was not about to give up, and set his
parties of men in search of me.
While hiding from Caldor’s soldiers, I stumbled
into a vast cave. Not to eager to risk capture, I lighted a torch, and
ventured deeper and deeper within. Finally I realized I was in a vast passage
which spiraled down and down to unguessable depths in the earth. Not having
anything better to do, and with Caldor’s forces still searching for me,
I went exploring. Imagine my surprise, then when I at last emerged into
this impossible realm of eternal day and boundless horizons. At first,
I assumed I’d gotten turned around and wound up back in Africa. My second
thought was that I had gone mad, for no such place as this could exist.
Only later did I surmise that this world was contained within the earth
itself, like the inside of a coconut shell. But it was a different world
than the one I had left behind, that much I knew. It absolutely teemed
with life, far more than did the jungles of my homeland. The canopy of
sound of deafening to my unaccustomed ears, but with time, I grew used
to it. There were gigantic, predatory monsters at every turn. But I was
keen and swift, and soon learned to climb and to hide to avid the mighty
beasts of this realm. But my youthful vigor would not last, I knew, in
the absence of the Kavururan elixir.
“There were other humans here as well. They were
primitive all, living in tribes, though all the savages I encountered here
were white. I experienced many adventures throughout what might have been
years, but with the sun always in the center of the heavens, who knew?
I narrowly evaded death, many times, not only from beasts but from men
as well. The tribes soon came to know me as a schemer not to be trusted.
But eventually, I amassed a strong and loyal following among outcast men
of various tribes. They were all brutal loutish, primitive sort, despised
by their fellow men. Over time, I was able to convince these fellows, though
my gifts of persuasion, of the faith of the Kavuru. I told them I could
make them gods that they could live forever. But first they had to procure
the ingredients that I would need to make the elixir. It was not difficult
to do, it turned out. There were native plants here that were closely enough
in relation to their African counterparts for then to suffice as replacements.
The spinal fluid of leopard also was available, though killing the mighty
leopards of this realm took some skill. There is a species of saber-toothed
feline, the great varath, that turned out to work just a well, and we eventually
bred these felines, just as my original people did with leopards. Eventually
we settled in a small valley just as my people had. There we made our pellets,
and bred our varaths. But though we were held in superstitious dread by
the black tribes of the surface, here the tribes simply hated us. A great
warrior name Ko-lar led a great army, composed of tribes who had banded
together to destroy us. We were vastly outnumbered, and forced to flee.
We fled here, to the Land of Awful Shadow, where no man of Pellucidar dare
“Now at last, we had found a safe region to continue our
work. Or so we thought. Again we were able to brew the potion of rate elixir.
But in this darksome region, I was forced to use substitutes for the herbs.
The plants of this dark realm were strange, and though I knew the manner
of preparation, I was not certain of the effect. We had brought tamed varaths
with us, and were able to breed them. We could still lure young females
here by means of our pipes. For a long while we persisted. But the effect
of our potion was different. It kept us immortal, but transformed us into
the shambling horrors that you now see. The effect was somewhat different
on the Pellucidarans than on myself. I became stunted, weak, and
grotesque. I was no longer the handsome youth I had been for ages. The
others became gaunt and cadaverous, the appearance of the walking dead.
We tried then to return to the world of eternal sunshine, but we could
not. We discovered, to our utter horror, that the sun was no deadly to
us. Once we ventured into the glare of the unblinking orb, or yellowed
skins would begin to flake and crumble, as though we were truly dead!
Ever since, we have been confined to this realm of eternal
darkness, living always, but as monstrous creatures of the dead, despised
by all. The others seem to have forgotten their former lives in the realm
of sunlight. But any she that we lure here, or has the misfortune to become
lost, as was the case with your ripe young mate, becomes our prey!”
“She is your prey no longer,” said Clive. He wanted
to strangle the repulsive little monster right then and there. But he knew
that they were all at the mercy of Lu-gor and the corpse-people. They had
to escape somehow—then he would see to Yendi.
“A man called Lu-gor is the one who is
now self-proclaimed God of your people,” Clive explained to him. “He is
our enemy as well. If we steal his weapon, we can defeat him. Will you
not help us?”
Yendi seemed to consider this. Finally he nodded.
“I will help you.”
It was not long before Lu-gor returned
to the hut to gloat over his captives. All of them still appeared to be
bound. But his eyes were only on the girl.
“So my beautiful she,” he said. “Are
you now ready to accept Lu-gor the God-Killer your mate? That is what they
call me now. An apt title, is it not?”
“Lu-gor is mighty only in his words,” she said, glaring
at him coldly.
Lu-gor approached the girl. “You shall soon
change your mind about me, girl--"
Lu-ogr’s words were abruptly cut off as a sharp blow
felled him. The caveman crashed to the floor.
Yendi, whom Lu-gor had assumed was dead, had
remained hidden until the right moment, then struck him with a rod of iron.
Clive sprang up and seized the Mahar weapon
form the fallen Lu-gor.
“I have seen Lu-gor use that,” Jahlanna
said. “It is truly a terrible thing.”
“But it just might prove our ticket out
of here.” Clive told her. He turned to Yendi, leveling the weapon at him.
“Now—show us they way out of your land.”
“Why should I?”
In a flash, Clive seized the former Kavuru,
and held him in an unbreakable grip.
“Release me!” Yendi commanded, his spindly
legs kicking. “I am God! You must not hold me so!”
Clive held the Mahar weapon to Yendi’s
sunken cheek. “Show us the way first. I do not want any trouble from your
Clive and the others left the hut
of God. When the cadaver people saw their former God being held by the
outlander, they moaned in awe and worship. They saw no sign of Lu-gor,
Killer of God, so they assumed that the red-haired stranger and his companions
had killed him.
That meant that this new god wielded even more power,
as he now wielded the strange God-weapon. As for Yendi, he had obviously
lost face, for though he was still alive, he was clearly at the mercy of
the red-haired usurper.
“You are god now,” the leader of
the corpse-men told him. “Remain here as our leader.”
“We wish only to return to our own lands,”
Clive said stridently. “We have no wish to rule over you.”
“But you are God, and we your people.”
“Your people must look after yourselves. So
commands your God. You must also allow us to pass.”
The masses of hideous corpse-like men
parted. Clive and his companions passed warily through their grotesque
ranks. At last they reached the edge of the vast mushroom forest. Still,
Clive, not trusting Yendi, did not relax his grip on his small wiry captive.
They had gone almost a league before Clive decided
to let the small man loose. “Go back to your people.”
“You will not kill me?”
“No. You are unarmed and I shall let you go.”
“Then you are a fool, red-hair. I shall return
with an army of my people. We shall destroy you and recapture your she.”
“We will be long gone by then. Now, move,
before I change my mind.”
Yendi continued at him for a second---then
A gigantic thing like a monstrous
caterpillar with huge, mandibular jaws shot out of the ground and seized
the hapless God –man in its incisors. The small man scream, kicking furiously.
The beast retreated back beneath the moldly earth of the weird jungle.
So perished Yendi of the Kavuru after what
might have been countless ages.
The continued on through the world of gloom,
menaced occasionally by the weird forms of life indigenous to this realm.
Once, a monstrous reptilian beast, somewhat like a huge primitive crocodile
attacked. It might have been a relative of postosuchus of the Triassic
age, but the huge lizard-like body was milky white in hue, and the eyes
were completely covered by skin. It still seemed capable of “sight,” after
a fashion, perhaps sensing the party of warm-bloods by means of its gruesome,
flicking tongue. Hug-lo the giant one had managed to fend the huge reptile
off, without having to slay it.
At last they reached the edge of the Land of Awful
Shadow. The emerged, blinking yet grateful, back into the glare of eternal
sunlight which bathed the rest of Pellucidar.
From there they decided to split up in order to search
for the other party of warriors who had recently gone searching for Jahlanna.
Hug-lo and the others would go east to the plains region. Clive and his
mate would take the forest.
Most importantly, Clive and Jahlanna both needed
time together. The surface man took the savage girl in his arms after they
had parted company with the others.
“I thought I might never see you again, love,”
They embraced, and kissed for an immeasurably
long time, before journeying forth into the vast, waiting forest.