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Volume 1728
Jahlanna of Pellucidar
A 175,000-word novel
by
Sean Edward Phillips
Part XXII

      Clive and Jahlanna at last were reunited. At last the curvaceous stone-age girl was back with the red-haired stranger whom she truly loved. She felt very safe with him. The hideous memories of the corpse-people of the Land of Awful Shadow were now well behind her. And the brutal Lu-gor was almost certainly slain by now. 

    She clung to him as they ventured deep into the vast forest together. Clive held her slender waist tightly. “Do not worry, my love,” he told the girl. “You are safe.”

    “I know.” she said. “I know I shall always be safe so long as I am with you.” Clive realized how deeply he loved the beautiful cave-maid, and that he would sacrifice his life for her if need be. 

    As they ventured further, in the direction that Simmons’ party had taken, Clive scanned the heavens above the forest canopy, whenever a break presented itself. And once he did sight the circling forms of winged monsters. Jahlanna saw them too, and cried out. 

    “Mahars!”

   “Yes!” Clive said, realizing she was right. “It’s them! We must hide ourselves.”

    They took cover beneath some overhanging ferns. But Clive wondered—the flying reptiles could not reach them here easily, but they had doubtless sensed their presence through their thought patterns. “They are searching for us.” Clive told her. “They seek the weapon I took from Lu-gor.” 

    “It is a curious weapon.” The girl said. “What is it?”

    “It can kill a man by destroying his brain.”

    “Oooooh! Terrible are the strange weapons of the Mahars. I wish we had not taken it. I wish Lu-gor had kept it. Perhaps you should give it to them.”

      “They wanted me to.” said Clive. “But with weapons such as these, the Mahar race seeks to subjugate all of Pellucidar. Including your people.”

     “What can we do?” she said, clinging to his shoulder. 

      “I have an idea—try to think like a beast.” 

      They both tried not to think any coherent thoughts which would mark them as human. They concentrated only on base instincts and sensations, as a beast would. At last hey ventured to look, and the winged dragons were flapping away. They walked on, concentrating solely on instinct. The winged reptilians did not return. 

   As they continued, they kept on concentrating on instinct, and this served them well enough in Pelluicdar. They found a fresh stream and drank from it, found luscious wild fruits and ate hungerly. They found a deep shelter in a hollow, where they vigorously mated, and fell asleep nestled in one another’s arms. 

     It must have been hours later that Clive felt his shoulder being prodded. He came awake instantly, and the girl did also, Jahlanna giving a frightened gasp, her lovely violet eyes flying wide at the sight which greeted them. 

     Hulking over them with a malicious grin on his unlovely features, was none other than Lu-gor. 

     In one fist was the Mahar psy-gun, its muzzle pointed squarely at Clive’s chest. 

    The two lovers were so astounded they did not know what to do. But Clive inwardly cursed himself. He ought to have made the assumption that Lu-gor was still at large. Unless, of course, he had actually seen the man die, which he had not. And in Pellucidar, even seeing can be mistaken. 

      “Give me your she, Flame-Hair.” Lu-gor said. “And Lu-gor will let you live.” 

      Jahlanna was about to beg her mate not to allow the brutish man to take her—even death would be preferable. But it was only Clive the rogue caveman meant to kill “I…I will go with him.” she said. 

    Clive looked her wide fearful eyes, and saw that her decision betrayed no latent attraction for Lu-gor on her part. As much as she feared and despised the man, it was her fear for himself that she was doing this.

    Lu-gor seized up the princess. Jahlanna gave a shriek. 

    The rogue’s face twisted into a smile of diabolical triumph. “Now, Flame-Hair—you die!”

    “No!” Jahlanna shrieked. The girl, quick as a jungle-cat, sunk her fine, white teeth into Lu-gor’s arm. The man swore in Common and spat, back handing the princess. The girl shrieked and fell back, but not before Clive seized upon the opportunity that his mate had afforded him. He pounced upon Lu-gor sending his right fist smashing in the other’s jaw. The Mahar weapon fell from his grasps. Both men dove for it. Clive was there first, but Lu-gor was upon him, the skulls of primitive men being terribly hard. The men grappled and groaned, muscles straining, as they fought for possession of the gun—and the girl. 

     Then a scream from the girl resounded, followed by a mighty roar which shook the centuries-old forest giants to their roots. 
    Both men looked up to see a gigantic saurian, one of the ancient reptiles from Time’s Dawn which ruled Pellucidar, amble massively into the clearing. Jahlanna was cringing by a massive, moss-covered log. The thing was roughly twenty feet long from mailed snout to lashing tail. It was lizard-like in the body. sporting four, splay-clawed feet. Its head was bunt-snouted and lizardish, with a gaping maw bristling with fang-like, irregular teeth. It was covered in greenish pebbly scales from snout to tail tip. But most spectacular about the beast was the gigantic, bone-ribbed sail which rose up from its back. Modern science would have recognized the beast as the dimetrodon, the great sail-back precursor to the mammal-like reptiles, the flesh-eating Terror of the bygone Permian age. Here, within the realm of Pelluicdar the great fin-back carnivore is known as the Gark.

      LU-gor screamed and scrambled to his feet, thinking now only to escape the predator, his conflict with the red-hair and his mate forgotten. The gark hissed, red-tongue flicking out between tooth-lined jaws. And then it surged forward, Lu-gor’s flight attracting it. The monster stormed passed the startled surface man, in pursuit of its fleeing victim. Clive seized the weapon and fired on the beast. It seemed the only decent thing to do, not to stand by and allow a fellow human, even one such as Lu-gor, be mauled by the predator. In any event, the psychic ray had little effect upon the huge dimetrodon. The gark shrieked and bellowed in  anger, then turned and stormed down upon Clive. 

     “NO!” screamed Jahlanna, and Clive heard, in the girl’s cry terror mixed with anger, and he realized he was cursing what she saw as his stupidity for trying to save Lu-gor. 

      In any event, he was too late. Clive tried to flee, but the reptile caught him. And he found himself pinned beneath the monster’s splay-clawed foot. The dimetrodon appeared to be gloating over his kill. The fanged jaws opened. The small, wicked eyes of the primordial reptile glared into those of the trapped human balefully. 

    This, thought Clive, Is the end. 

     But it did not come. The great sail-back reptilian through back its ugly snout, hissing and screaming in agony. A small, lithe form flew down upon the great reptile, and thrust a spear into the monster’s pebble-hided flank. 

     Clive, dazed and still pinned beneath the gark’s claw, was uncertain at first if he really had seen, or heard the youthful warrior’s yell that had accompanied it. But the dimetrodon’s foot lifted off him as the finback terror turned upon it tormentor. 

    Clive sat up. And he saw to his astonishment that the human attacking the great finback was a mere boy—and he recognized him!

     Jarn of Nu-al! 

     But how was it possible, here, so many leagues from the boy’s native land?

    Jarn, for indeed it was he, leapt lithely to one side as the monster charged him. He screamed boyish taunts and insults at the gark, questioning the reptile’s parental origins. Though the great gark could not have possibly understood, much less cared, the words seem to have their desired effect, and reptile was driven to further heights of rage. Again, the mighty beast charged the boy roaring like the engine of primal destruction the he was. Again, the sassy cave-boy outmaneuvered the colossal engine of death and shot in again and again, like a mongoose wearing down the strength of a striking cobra. The boy knew exactly which portion sof the beasts’ mailed hide were vulnerable and could cause injury. 

     The mighty gark, now bleeding from many spear wounds, began to weaken and stagger. His charging became slow and labored. At last, Jarn charged in from the front, driving his spear directly between the beast’s hissing, distended jaws, up into the primitive brain. He then leapt and rolled away. The reptile collapsed, and writhed mightily for several more seconds before at last collapsing in true death. 

        Clive helped the boy to his feet. Jhalanna approached and they both regarded him. He boy beamed up at them. 

     “Jarn…” the girl said faintly.” You saved both our lives.”

    “I know.” Jarn said. The boy was exhausted, covered with dust, but clearly proud as could be. After all, he had slain a gark single-handedly. Jahlanna was very much in awe of him. 

     “I have only seen seasoned warriors make a kill such as that one.” The princess told him. 

     Jarn bowed to her, in good-natured jest. “Jarn will do anything to serve his princess.”

     “I believe he would.” Clive said. He realized how Jahlanna had told him how the young boy had once felt about her, and he realized that had Jarn been a bit older, he might have proven a serious rival for her affection. 

     “Jarn is surely a warrior now.” Jahlanna told him. “Even our warriors can no longer deny it.” She touched the boy’s cheek in affection. 

     “That’s nice,” Jahlanna.” said Jarn, sounding a bit more mature than she remembered. “But….I have someone.”

    Jahlanna was about to inquire who, when she as interrupted.

    “You!!” 

    The voice was directed at Jarn. They all turned to see Lu-gor, having again recovered the psy-gun, was now leveling it at them once again. His features were a mixture of hatred and triumph.

       “How very conveniant for Lu-gor! So, brat, we finally meet again! Perhaps I should thank you for saving the girl for me. Now I can kill you and the flame-haired one, and take her for myself!”

         “You know him?” Clive asked the boy in surprise. 

         “We go pretty far back.” Jarn answered. 

       Lu-gor prepared to squeeze the trigger. But he never got the chance. So intent on gloating was he that he did not notice until too late the great shadow falling across him. Only then did he look up—and saw the gigantic shape of a monstrous thipdar, one of the mighty flying dragons of the dawn, bearing down upon him. Lu-gor screamed, releasing the weapon. 

    It might have been the same thipdar which bore off Jahlanna to the Land of Awful Shadow. Or it might have been another. In any event, what happened was the same. The beast’s monstrous talons fastened onto the shoulders of the startled caveman. With a flurry of mighty wingbeats, it bore the struggled Lu-gor aloft. 

     Clive, Jahlanna, and the boy Jarn watched in awe and horror as the flying reptile bore the struggling caveman off in to the mist-shrouded skies of the inner world. 

   Up and up the gigantic pteranodon bore Lu-gor. On and on toward the range of peaks which bordered Awful Shadow. There it swooped down upon its nest, a great cup-shaped affair made of branches and caked mud. Within, its’ hideous, starving brood of monstrous chicklets squawks and squabbled eager for their parent’s gift of flesh. Lu-gor as released directly into the midst of the horde. He gave one last terrorized scream of horror before the ravening horde of winged fledglings fell upon him with tooth and claw. 

        Simmons, Jal-mar, Tarok, and Valkara had traversed the edge of the great Pellucidaran forest in what passed for an easterly direction for five wakes and sleeps, and still no sign of the princess or her abductor. At last deciding that they must lie in the direction that Clive and the others took, they began to circle around to complete the agreed roundevous. 

    They passed through a vast stretch of sparsely wooded grassland teaming with all manner of gigantic herbivora. And preying upon these were the mighty predators, the tarag, the ta-ho, the ryth, the tarap the numerous species of giant carnivorous reptile. 

       Soon that they came upon a gigantic tandor bearing mighty tusks that were great curlicues of ivory. The mammoth was embattled with a mighty pack of ravening tarags. The giant tigers had surrounded the bull, and were slinking toward him upon every flank, snarling thunderously. Others had joined the fray, and were leaping and slashing the bull with their saber-teeth, feinting and attacking again. Already, the flanks of the great bull were matted crimson. But this was no ordinary battle for survival, though such battles within Pellucidar are very commonplace. 

     For, as the men recognized at once, this was no ordinary tandor, but one of the mighty war-mammoths of imperial Sari. On the beast’s broad, sloping back fought armored warriors. They jabbed steel spears at the leaping cats, doing their best to fend them off. And to the fore, just behind the ravening pack, rode a warrior they all recognized; Dangar of Sari! The young captain was the only man armed with a musket. He fired shell after shell into the ravening pack, but was apparently having little success. A few of the great cats lay dead in the turf, apparently from Dangar’s musket wounds. But tarag packs numbered a hundred or more strong in order to overwhelm their giant prey species, so their numbers seemed endless, and they did not appear intimidated in the least by the death of their fellows. And Dangar’s bullets would not last…

      “It’s Dangar!” said Simmons. “We have to help them.”

       “How?” asked Jal-mar. “If we try, we too, will fill the tarag bellies.” 

      “Nonetheless, we cannot simply, abandon them!” Tarok said. The NU-al warrior had grown evermore to appreciate the meaning for friendship, and the mammoth riders were powerful allies. Yet still he did not see a way ….

    “Wait!” cried Valkara “Look there, Tarok, on the next hill!”

     They looked and saw three more men they recongized. One was a hulking giant.

     The men Valkara had recognized were none other than Hug-lo the Gaint One, Grunth, the bison-man and the aged Ug-na. The two parties moved to greet one another. 

    There was a brief period of greeting and back slapping, but it did not last long. “What can we do to aide the warriors of Sari?” Tarok asked Hug-lo. 

     “They are not of my people.” said Hug-lo. “We shall leave them.”

     “No!” said Tarok “They are warriors of the land of Sari. They are valuable allies against the ones you know as the Lords.”

    The Giant One grinned. “Are you certain of this, small warrior.”

    “Yes. We marched with them on the Mahar city in the north.” 

    “Then we shall fight.” Tarok knew that the giant Hug-lo had every reason to despise the so-called Lords of Pellucidar. “Come, little man. I shall carry you”

     Hug-lo strode mightily into battle, wielding his great spear and mighty war-ax. Tarok, bearing his own spear and ax, rode upon his shoulder. Grunth, the bison-man trundled at the side of the giant. The ganak warrior was armed with his own natural weapons-- his animal-like speed and cunning, his razor-sharp horns and his clawed nails. 

    Hug-lo smote right and left with his ax, deliver blow after shattering blow to each snarling, striped juggernaut that attacked him. Each of the immense cats weighed more than a hereford bull, but to the giant they were merely the dimensions of large lynx. Fortunately, the Giant One possessed the strength and quickness of his smaller brethren. Tarok, too, much his savage blows from his perch. And by his side, the ganak grunth attacked and smote with his horns and claws. Once, he confronted a leaping tarag head on, lauhcing himself at the snowy breast of the leaping saber-tooth, impaling himself in the beast’s chest cavity. The tarag screamed and collapsed. Grunth tore himself loose, pelt matted with blood. He shook himself, flecks of crimson flying to bellow like a bull in triumph before goring the next attacking feline. But as he did so, a third attacking tarag caught the bison man at his vulenerable side and sunk his saber-fangs deep. Grunth bellowed the cry of the mortally wounded, and down he went, apparently finished. 

      Hug-lo and Tarok continued to hack and slay, until at long last, the remainder of the tarag pack fled. They strode up to the warriors on mammoth-back in greeting. Valkara, Simmons, and the others followed. Dangar, who had not seen Hug-lo before, was at first puzzled that this strange giant warrior had come to their defense. But then he recognized Tarok and his mate, and the others. 
    “Greetings, Dangar, of Sari.” Tarok said to him. 

    “Greetings, Tarok of Nu-al.” said Dangar. “Our thanks for your intervention. Who is your large friend who fought so valiantly?” 
     “I am called Hug-lo, the Giant One.” said Hug-lo the Giant One. 

    “I have not heard of you.” Dangar said. “But we are glad to claim you as a friend. The empire of Sari is in peril.”
    “What from?” inquired the giant. 

   ‘The Mahars have massed a great army to march against us.” 

    “If you fight against the Mahars,” said Hug-lo “Then I am with you.” 

   They discovered then, that the ganak warrior, Grunth lay wounded on the turf.  The bison-man was wounded, and near death. 

    “I am proud to have fought alongside you.” Grunth said to Tarok. “But now I must go to join my tribal ancestors…”

     “Farewell, my friend.” said Tarok, who had seen many another warrior die within the struggle for existence that was Pellucidar. 

     “Perhaps we can save him.” Dangar suggested. “there are men in Sari who have great knowledge of healing.” 

     But Grunth’s wounds proved far too deep, and the bison-man had already slipped out of this world and into the next. They buried him on the spot where he had fallen, with a rude monument saying

GRUNTH 
BRAVE WARRIOR OF THE GANAK PEOPLE
SLAIN IN BATTLE AS HE WOULD HAVE WISHED

   The party, mourned the loss of Grunth, regrouped, and continued in direction they had been heading. Dangar revealed that he and his fellow warriors had retruned to Sari, only to hear that a large scale invasion by the Lords was immenant. They had set forth once more to seek the location of the Mahar power base. Dangar and his soldiers had been searching when the tarag pack had set upon them. Now realizing that Clive and his companions had escaped the Mahars on the Dead World, they headed toward the rendezvous point in hopes of locating him and his missing princess. 

 

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