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

Part XXIV

      Dangar, Simmons Tarok, Jal-mar, and Hug-lo the Giant One approached the lands of Sari. They saw, in the distance, the series of flat towers, so far unique within the realm of Pellucdar that marked the city. And before them was a vast army, that of David Innes, who by this time had returned to his native land. 

    The army of emperor was magnificent and mighty. There were hundreds strong of the great war-tandors, and a fewer number of the even mightier lidi, the great long-necked herbivorous dinosaur known to science as the diplodocus of the Jurassic. To the fore of the great army ran at great armada of cavalry soldiers, each warrior mounted upon an ice-age forerunner of the modern stallion, their short, stiff manes betraying their recent wild origins. At the fore of the formation rode the runners, bearing the flags, bearing the Mammoth-stand of Sari. 

     One of the warriors approached Dangar’s mammoth. ‘”Ho, warriors! I bring greetings from David Innes!”

     “Ho, warrior,” said Dangar. “Tell him we are in is service!” 

   The great sea of warriors parted, and Dangar greeted his emperor, who was himself mounted upon a mighty mammoth. 

     “I bring friends to help defend Sari, some of whom we thought lost to the Mahrs.” Dangar explained. “They, and the great warrior called Hug-lo helped us fight off a tarag pack.

    “So I see,” said Innes. ‘Welcome warriors! But were is Clive.”

   “We have not seen him,” said Simmons. “It is a long story. But we are searching for Clive my friend and his mate. We believe he may be lost somewhere to the east.” 

     “Let us return to Sari.” said Innes. 

      The army returned to the city. There, they experienced hostpitaltity and exchanged stories of the adventures which had befallen them. For Alistair Simmons there was much to learn in the city of Sari, how the cave people of Pellucidar had thus progressed under the tutelage of Innes and his friend Abner Perry. Needless to say the two scientists at last met, and were delighted to at last converse with one another. 

      But the Mahars, it seemed, form newly constructed cites on the Dead World and elsewhere, and managed to enmasse a vast army, ripe for conquering Pellucidar. 

    Then about a sleep later, the great brass horns that served as signals sounded form all sides of the city. The warriors were again aroused. They mounted upon tandor and lidi, and ice-age horse. And they rode forth form the city gates out upon the broad plain. 

    Tarok and Jal-mar and Valkara now rode with them upon a single mammoth. Hug-lo strode alongside them. 

     In the distance, they saw at last, the mighty army of enemy. It was like nothing they had ever before beheld. 

        Unlike the Sarians, there was no cavalry among them. To the fore, strode a vast infantry of sagoth soliders, armed with long steel and bronze spears. This was very like how the Mahars used to send their subhuman servitors to subdue the gilaks. But the army was much vaster than before, consisting perhaps of literally scores of formally feuding sagoth tribes, all united against the common foe of humanity. 

     Tarok scanned the vast intimidating army for any sign of the loathsome groags, that had inhabited Zhuma. But he saw only sagoths, and assumed that the groag race must be confined to one single region of Pellucidar, unfortunately in the vicinity of Nu-al.  They were probably sensitive to the light beyond their darksome caverns. And anyway, the creatures were far too cowardly to make good soldiers, unlike the burly gorilla-men, who were always eager for battle, and whom, it must be admitted, were seldom cowards. 

     But there was more.  Beyond the front ranks, there ambled an armada of colossal reptilian monsters. Tarok recognized most of the species. There was the three-horned gyor, the spike-frilled grynk, the plate-backed, spike-tailed dyrodor, and many other species, including great plodding tank-like herbivores, not native to his region of Pellucidar, and for which he had no name, but which were known to science as ankylosaurs. And each of these great armored creatures pulled, in the manner of oxen, a great wheeled device, mounted upon which was a gigantic metal canon. 

     Tarok and Valkara and seen the manufacture of such, and though he knew not the precise function of the things, only that they supposedly amplified the Mahars’ own vast mental powers, he knew that they were some kind of terrible super-weapon, some sort of colossal engines of destruction. 

      But even worse, high above the massive army there flew and flapped on thermal currents, the dreadsome forms of the mighty Mahars themselves. There seemed to be scores of the winged monsters, even more than he would have expected. Doubtless, these served as the real military captains. There appeared to be no captains or officers among the sagoth troups—the Lords themselves obviously filled this function, and were ready to command the attacking army at will via beams of metal contact. 

       The two armies surged forward. 

       The cavalry of David Innes fought fiercely. The soldiers of the Emorer sought left and right with their iron swords. But the sagoths had sheer numbers and bestial savagery on their side. They fought ferociously, often leaping onto the steeds and tearing the warriors to the ground. They killed not only with their spears, but with their teeth and brute strength a well. Then the great mammoths and lidi were among them. Gigantic though the giant steeds were, the gorilla-men and leaped and clambered upon the backs of gigantic prehistoric beasts with primate agility, fighting hand-to-hand with the warriors. Still the war Mammoths plunged among them, smiting with their gigantic tucks, tossing the sagoths with their mighty trunks. The giant lidi swung their tremendous tails, wiping out whole legions of sagoth warriors, in a single swipe. 

     And that was when the attack came. 

     A terrible sonic squeal emitted form the great canon, pulled by a lumbering triceratops. The great beam was directed against one mighty war mammoth. The soldiers riding upon it screamed and fell. The great mammoth collapsed, crushing fried and foe alike beneath its bulk. Then another canon sounded, and then another. One by one, lid and tandor collapsed on the battle field, insensible, crushing soldiers beneath the might of their bulk. Another canon beam aimed at the cavalry. To Tarok’s utter horror, he saw the men go mad turn on one another. Before his eyes, the mounted Sarians were slaying each other with their swords. 

      “Turn back.” said Tarok. “Prey that Dangar and Innes do the same, before they wipe us out.”

    He turned the great tandor back toward Sari. The surviving mammoth warriors and remaining cavalry did the same. The fell back wih in the city gates. The Mahar’s army did not siege the city. 

     But the Mahars were obviously biding their time. Playing a deadly game of cat and mouse before they lay siege to Sari and killed or captured all who lay within. 


      Clive and Jahlanna got to their feet and examined their surroundings. They had been seated on a series of wide stone steps which had been hewn out of the rock of the tunnel. 

    At the top were what appeared to be a pair of glass doors. 

    As they approached, examining them, the doors whooshed open. Jahlanna gave a little squeal of surprise. The corridor beyond was blindingly white and new. Warily they ventured within. It looked as if this part of Phutra had been preserved, or else it had been renovated or added on after the old city had been sacked. Whatever the reason, it was obvious this place was not in the state of decay as had been the tunnels they had traversed—far form it. 

     “I fear to go on,” said Jahlanna.

     “Just stay with me.” Clive told her. 

     They ventured on. The walls remained white and immaculate. The tunnel was brightly lit from gas-bulbs on either side. They passed a number of rooms. Though there was no person or being in them, these were obviously still in use. 

       One great chamber appeared to serve as a vast library. Clive and his mate stepped in and examined it. The shelves were filled with row after row of parchment scrolls. Clive took one down and examined it. The wring, in what appeared to be nautiled ink, was in a series of glyphic characters which he could not read. Jahlanna, being illiterate, as were all her tribe, could not either, and Clvie doubted even Alistair Simmons could discern any of it. It was different from the writing on the scrolls of the library of Az-al, and Clive rightly guessed it must be the written language of the Mahar. 

     “What are those strange markings?” Jhalanna asked. “You should not be looking at them, Clive. Surely they are some sort of curse. Perhaps the Mahars wish to put a spell upon us for trifling with their possessions.”

    “It’s no curse.” He told her. “It’s writing.”

   “Writing?” 

   “These marks stand for words. They have meaning, just as spoken words do. The Mahar communicate telepathically with one another, but they also seem to have a written language. My friend Alistair would give anything to be able to read this.”

     They left the chamber and continued on until they found an even larger chamber which strongly resembled the one they had quit back on the lower level. It appeared to be a breeding chamber. Only this one was new-looking and immaculate. The only thing was: the place had been desecrated. The artificial womb-sacs had been forcibly ripped open, the dead fetal Mahars laying eviscerated in pools of fluid. In the hatching chamber, they found some of the Mahar eggs smashed and broken.

     “But what could have done this?” Jahlanna wondered. “Perhaps one of the animals that has made this city its home?”

    “I don’t think so,” Clive said. “This has been done recently. I think Jarn has been here.”

    “You think it was him?”

    “If so, he is in trouble. Notice he didn’t finish his work here.” 

     The crept on into yet another chamber—and found themselves overlooking a vast nursery!

    Below, waddling throughout the chamber were little Mahar fledglings. This, was where the just matured hatchlings were taken. There were intricate playthings set up around the nursery, some obviously designed to teach the science of mathematics, and too hone the young reptiles’ calculative and analytical skills. One such consisted of bronze cubes, spheres and pyramids arranged on a series of wires. The young retiles seemed to enjoy their play and were engaged in the various games and puzzles. It was startling to come upon a species of reptile which showed every sign of sentience. 

     But Clive noticed that among these young, though most appeared to be female, there were a few larger specimens which already bore the markings of the male members of the Mahar species. 

    Clive and Jahlanna left before they were discovered. They kept on traversing the chambers in the weird city, but came upon no sign of the boy Jarn—or the girls either, if they had been through here. They saw no sign of Mahar or sagoth, but it was clear by now that the city was very much inhabited by something. Someone, for example had to be caring for those Mahar young, and someone had to have renovated this portion of the city. That it appeared abandoned form the outside had to have been a ruse. That meant, very likely that the Mahars were using this particular city—long thought destroyed—as a secret scientific base. 

     Then, form somewhere ahead, they heard a murmur of massed voices.

    “Clive..!”

    “I hear them.”

   They made in the direction of the voices, but remained ready for an unwelcome encounter. They rounded a corridor and made their way down a great hall, lined with small bronze releifs Mahars. 

    They reached the area from which the throng of voices was issuing. They stepped through an entrance and onto a wide balcony overlooking a startling scene. Below were a mass of sagoths, all chanting weirdly and in unison before a three great bronze idols representing Mahars. There were made not just to represent the Mahar race in general; they were idols representing the three ruling Lords of the Mahar technocracy. Simmons had told Clive once that the Mahars had once been ruled by a single matriarch, but apparently the old order had been overturned. 

      “Hold it! You two! Gilaks!”

   The sharp command had issued behind them. Clive and Jahlanna turned to see four burly gorilla-men. Clive still had his weapon, but he did not intend to use it on the guards unless he had to.  “Run!!” he cried. They ran. Out the side entrance and back down the corridor. 

     “Get them!!” bellowed an order. 

     Jahlanna and Clive ran and ran, but they knew not where. They heard the shouts of more of the sagoth guards. They seemed to be everywhere now. Hearing the approach of a party of guards hey found a small alcove and crouched there hiding. 

     “There are two gilaks on the loose.” came a voice. 

    “The three we captured earlier—they have not escaped?”

     Jahlanna nearly cried out when she heard this, for they both knew whom they meant. 

     “No.” came the answer. “A red-haired man and a girl. We found them observing the ceremony form the balcony.”

      At that moment, a great burly sagoth leaped in front of them. Jahlanna shrieked. The guard had been sneaking up on them.

     “Move it, gilaks!” he snarled. “The Lords will see you now.” 

    Clive and Jahlanna were prodded through the streets of the underground city to great chamber which was doubtless located near the surface. It was remarkably similar to chamber of the lords he had experienced on the Dead World. 

     A great panel in the ceiling drew back, and down into the chamber flapped the great forms of two of the rulers of the Mahars. 

     Clive recognized them at once, though Jahlanna did not. They were Ka-ul-na, and Zu-ul-ka, the two mighty males. The great winged reptiles settled their bulks upon the the massive cushions which served as their thrown. 

     The sagoth guards bowed in reverence.

      Clive felt the stab of telepathic thought enter his mind. So red-furred apeling—you dared to defy us. We have read your intent, and it was not to return the weapon prototype to us as we had ordered you.

        “My loyalty is to my mate and to my own kind.” Clive said aloud. He could not tell the two reptiles apart by looking at them, but he somehow assumed the one addressing him was Zu-ul-ka. 

        That is unfortunate indeed. We keep our bargains, even with such lowly lifeforms as yourself. But for disobeying the Lords you and mate shall die.

   “You won’t kill us if I can help it.” Clive said. 

     We will soon decide you fate. But first let us show you how the Mahars are conquering the Empire of Pellucidar. 

     The sagoths proceeded Clive and Jhalanna through an arched doorway, down a hall with a great vaulted ceiling, and into an even larger chamber. Zu-ul-ka and Ka-ul-na followed waddling on their web-clawed feet. Since Zu-ul-ka, onstibly the one less sympathetic to the plight of the gilak race within Pelluciar had been the one addressing him, Clive was certain, would dud Ka-ul-na think about all this? Thus far, the other reptile had not addressed him. 

       In this chamber were four great banks of complicated machinery, covered with levers, switches, dials, and blinking points of light, formed and arranged like pillars, each one running floor-to ceiling. Arranged about each machine were chair-like perches. Upon each one was a Mahar. The great winged reptiles were each “wired in” to the machine. Each had a pair of goggles over its bird-socketed eyes, and bizarre metal “helmet,” from which ran a multitude of copper wiring, fastened to nodes on the machine. 

    More wires then branched off form the top of each of the machines to a consol-like device in the front of the chamber. This somewhat resembled a great control panel. More Mahrs were seated on stools, pushing buttons and pulling levers. And in front of them, making up the entire wall, were a series of vast screens. Showing different regions of Pellucidar. One was obviously a scene of the city of the Dead World. Another showed another Mahr city, Clive and Jahlanna had never seen nor heard of, in some unknown region of Pelluicdar. But three of the screens showed different scenes of the same region. And they witnessed what was taking place. The pictures changed periodically, showing different angles and close-ups, not unlike in the manner of a motion picture. Clive had seen motion pictures at the local cinema as a boy. All that was now a world away. He remembered how he and his friends would pay a nickel at the afternoon matinee, where he’d first seen King Kong, a movie that made a great impression on him at the time, and helped to influence his interest in a career as an explorer with National Geographic. Now, of course King Kong, with its jerky stop-motion critters, seemed as hopelessly artificial as it was. 

        But unlike those cinema pictures, this screen was in vivid color—partly, some part of Clive guessed, because they were somehow the result of direct metal projections form the reptiles brains! But the scene itself was very real, of that he was certain. The Mahars were somehow mentally recording a battle that was actually taking place, even as they watched. 

      On the screens was a mighty city, consisting of a series of great circular towers, and smaller communal buildings. The city Clive guessed correctly, was Sari, home of David Innes, Emporer of Pellucidar himself. The city appeared to be well fortified, but it was obviously under siege from a vast conquering army—the army of the Mahars. 

       Just how they had managed to repel the great army of mammoth-warriors, Clive was uncertain, but the armed sagoths were besieging the city in mighty droves. Already, they had thrown grappling hooks over the wall, and were descending enmasse upon the hapless Sarians. A few warriors mounted on lidi and mammoth back were attempting to ward off the invaders outside the city, but it was obvious that they were fighting a losing battle. Then, to Clive’s amazement, one of  the great war-mammoths toppled over, human warriors spilling to the ground to be butchered to the enemy. Then the scene changed. And they saw now the apparent cause. Here were the great psy-canons mounted on wagons pulled by lumbering prehistoric beasts. Each time a sagoth would order a canon to fire a mammoth or lidi would fall. 

    You see, my apeling friend, came the insidious telepathic voice of Zu-ul-ka, The siege of Sari is nearly complete. The empire which once drove us form our rightful lands is at an end. The weapon you have now returned to us—willingly or not—will not be needed. But once the weapon prototype can be perfected, it will be short measure to train an entire sagoth army to use them. And then, perhaps, your surface world as well, shall fall to us. O, yes, we know by now that your surface world does very much exist, apeling. It will provide much raw material for the Mahar race. A rich world waiting for us to explore and conquer! And filled of course, with myraids of experimental subjects. 

     Though the voice of the reptile seemed cold and emotionless, Clive swore he could discern a sneer in the telepathic wave. Hot rage boiled up within him. 

    Yes apeling. But the siege of sari is not finished. Notice how the sagoth warriors are now retreating? 

    Clive looked and saw that it was so. 

    If you are puzzled as to why, watch and learn. 

    Again, the screen switched to another scene. It showed the wide, grassy plain beyond Sari. On the horizon there appeared a rising dust-cloud. Clive continued to stare in a daze. What was it? Another army? 

     Then he saw. It was a vast army of gigantic prehistoric beasts, all stampeding toward the city. There was the mighty tandor, the great maj, the flat-skulled mastodon, the Y-horned sadok, and many others he could not name or classify, including gigantic hornless rhinos, and great elephantine beasts with downward curving tusks. But following these were an even vaster number of reptilian behemoths. He saw the giant lidi, the gigantic stegosaurus, or dyrodor, and the great triceratops, known as the gyor, and spike-sheilded grynk, or styracosaurus. And there were carnivores too—the mighty zarith, or tyrannosaurus rex, the leaping jalgor, the smaller allosaurus, the horned xarg, or ceratosaurus. Then their were packs of smaller, sickle-toed meat-eaters known to the Pelluicdarans as utgors. Above a mighty flock of gigantic thipdars flew, in a vast formation like a squadron of enemy aircraft. 

    All were headed inexorably toward Sari. 

    Clive wondered—were the beasts being driven by fire? No — they were not just stampeding madly, or fleeing something. There was something purposeful about this stampede—purposeful and unnatural. 

      Then he saw them--- a formation of psy-canons arranged on either side of the charging behemoths. He knew then that the canons were not just weapons—they were used to control the minds of giant creatures. 

      Somehow the horde of hulking primordial behemoths was purposfully controlled by the vastly amplified thoughts waves. 

     Yes, gilak, you have guessed correctly. Came the telepathic voice of Zu-ul-ka. One other time, we attempted use the great beasts to lay siege to Sari. But our sound canons proved far less effective. The new devices amplify our own metal strength through the power of crystals. We have perfect control over each individual beast — watch, my primitive mammal friend, and learn the power of the Dead World’s crystals, and the doom of your pathetic species!

         Clive and Jahlanna watched, horrified. Just as Zu-ul-ka said the remainder of Innes’ army was either crushed, or retreated back with in the wall. The mighty dinosaurs lay siege to the city, acting in contrary to their natural instinct. The utgors, rather than attacking the abundance of natural prey species bore down upon the valiant human defenders of Sari. They leaped over the wall, into the city itself. The great gyors and grynks ramed their horned shields against the wall like living battering rams. Two great ankylosaurs smashed the masonry with their clubbed tailed. The great lidi, the diplodicus, heaved their giant swaying bulks over the wall, stomping it to pieces, smashing their way in. And from above their swooped the hordes of giant thipdars, bearing down upon the besieged city, to seize hapless warriors in their talons, and let them fall to their deaths. 

    The scene changed again, and Clive and Jahlanna were treated to something more startling still. Behind the horde of gigantic, dawn-age behemoths, came yet more — a herd of giant dinosaurs, these larger then even Clive had ever dreamed. They great long necked herbivores, similar to the lidi, only at least twice as gigantic, their forequarters far larger than their hindlimbs. Had professor Simmons been present he would have identified the super-behemoths as the brachiosaurus, the largest sauropod dinosaur currently known to science. 

      “Those are tordons,” Clive heard Jahlanna murmur. “I have heard of them. They are the greatest beasts the gods have ever created. They are found upon a great forested-pain beyond Thuria. They will destroy Sari. Nothing can withstand a stampede of them.”

     Your mate is quite correct. This time Clive was CERTAIN that a sneer was discernable in the Mahar’s telepathic voice. The gilak race within Pelluicdar is doomed, and it is time you realized it, before we send you and your mate to the dissection chamber. 
     “Great Lords!” came a voice. 

     Clive and Jahlanna turned around to see four sagoth guards enter. They bore with them three familiar prisoners; Zara of Azeer, Jarla of Olar, and Jarn of Nu-al. “This is the jalok-whelp we caught in the egg-chamber, destroying the first-born. He has also the one who slew all of the others in the Life-chamber, the future lords created from YOUR cells, o great Zu-ul-ka.”

      Good, said Zu-ul-ka  You have brought them as I requested. Now we can dispose of all of them at once. I will take personal pleasure in the destruction of the young male. There are some vital experiments which involve pain-response in primates. I believe that he shall serve nicely. 

      “Perhaps the red-hair and his mate would care to watch you slice open the youngsters, before it their turn.”

      I had the same in mind, Targ. said Zu-ul-ka, addressing the sagoth But the fate of the prisoners does not concern you.

    “Yes, of course, my lord.” Targ bowed in apology, and he and his friends left. 

    Then, to the astonishment of all, Jarn did something totally unexpected. He  kneeled and fell upon his belly in apparent supplication. This was difficult, as the lad’s hands were tied. 

      What is this? Zu-ul-ka demanded. 

       “Great Ka-ul-na,” the boy said, in a pleading, sycophantic voice, and they saw that he was addressing the other Mahar. “Forgive me, Great Lord, if my actions have not pleased you. I only did as you commanded me!” 

      Speak, Ka-ul-na! What does this vermin mean?

  I know nothing of what he says!

    Clive could now hear nothing of the conversation flashing back and forth between the two reptiles. But the very air within the chamber seemed to ripple with telepathic hate. He could tell, sure as his soul, that Jarn’s pretense had enraged the two winged saurians—Zu-ul-ka in particular. He did not, however, yet know what the boy was up to. 

       “O, Ka-ul-na,” pleaded Jarn. “Have mercy on your lowly slave! I only acted as you told me—to wipe out the seed of your rival, stupid and ugly Zu-ul-ka. I obeyed so that YOU, not stupid Zu-ul-ka, might rule over the Lords, and set my own people the lowly gilaks, free to live as equals to the Mahar in all ways — "

          That was enough for Zu-ul-ka. He launched himself at his hated rival beaked jaws distended and clawed wings slashing. The two gigantic pterosaurs clashed, slashing with their webbed hindclaws and ripping with their terrible battery of teeth. They crashed into a bank of machines, causing sparks to fly. One of the screens went black and the Mahars at the control posts flapped off into the other chamber. 

     The two reptiles continued to battle in primal saurian combat. They were ripping each others veined wings to shreds. Zu-ul-ka, it seemed was gaining the advantage. Both reptiles were wounded, and their slimy reptilian gore was befouling the stone floor. But it seemed Ka-ul-na was loosing the most. 

     Clive, now having undertood Jarn’s ruse, aimed the psy-weapon at Zu-ul-ka, and squeezed the trigger. It had the desired effect. The pterosaur screamed in agony as the mental bolt assaulted his brain. Ka-ul-a saw the opening he needed and attacked. The Mahar seized his rival by the other’s scrawny throat. 

     “Hold him, Ka-ul-na!” Clive commanded. He aimed the weapon directly at Zu-ul-ka’s pterodactyline skull. 

     “Your work is finished here, Zu-ul-ka!” 

      Never, apeling!

     Clive ignored him. “Now listen to me. I want you to do something about those beasts attack Sari. Make them turn around!”

     Fool primate! I can do nothing to stop them!

    He lies. This was the voice of Ka-ul-na. The beasts CAN be stopped. All I need to do is order it. The rest of the Lords that you see in this room are linked with the others flying above the battle. And it is they who are controlling the sagoths who man the weapons that in turn control the beasts. 

   “Will you do it, then?” Clive asked Ka-ul-na. 

    “I shall.” The Mahar scientist send a telepathic message to Mahars hooked up to the machines. And slowly, they saw the horde of rampaging dinosaurs retreat. Thought he outer ramparts of sari had already been breached, the city itself, and her citizens had been spared. 

       “Very good.” Said Clive. “Now---I want myself and my mate, and the three younger gilaks to go free.”

     There is no need to order. Ka-ul-na responded. But first we need to take care of him. Make certain that he does not interfere. 
       It took Clive a moment to realize that he was talking about Zu-ul-ka. 

      He cannot attack your minds so long as I have hold of him. Ka-ul-na said. But I suggest that he is bound and that you take care to cover his eyes. 

   Jarn fetched some cords of rope, and they bound Zu-ul-ka tightly. They lashed the jaws of his fanged beak together securely, and covered his eyes with a cloth. Even so, Clive could almost sense the almost palpable hate that seethed from the Mahar’s brain. It was very obvious that Zu-ul-ka would kill them all the second it was in his power. Clive was going to make certain that would never happen. 

      Perhaps I should thank you, gilak. Ka-ul-na spoke to Clive. Zu-ul-ka was a hated rival. But he will trouble your species no more. I am the ruler of the Lords now. 

       “Does this mean that there will be peace between the gilaks and the Mahar.” Clive asked. Jahlanna was clinging to his arm, as they faced the terrifying reptile. 

       I would never suppose that the gilak is on the intellectual par with ourselves, Ka-ul-na said. But I realize your species has the capacity to reason, perhaps nearly as much as ourselves. Those such as Zu-ul-ka, are supposed to be scientists, but continue to cling to theories long since proven false. 

      “The gilak race may yet surprise you.” Clive said. “But for now, we merely wish to leave here and to return to our people? 

      Where are your people? 

     Clive told him about his friends, and that he was uncertain at the moment just where they were. 

      The warrior known as Dangar rides with Sari. The ones you know as Huglo and Tarok are also there. 

     “Then that is where we wish to go.”

     If you and your mate do not object, then we shall take you. 

      The next moments were among the dizziest Clive had experienced. Great Ka-ul-na bore him aloft and out over the stretch of mountains, forests, verdant plains and vast glimmering oceans, which stretched up and as far as the eye could see. The Mahar ruler ordered his subordinates to transport the others. Another great winged reptile bore Jahlanna, while three others carried, Jarla and Zara, and Jarn. Under almost other circumstances, the experience should have been an utterly terrifying one. The girls were instinctively frightened anyway. Here they were in the grip of the dreadsome flying monsters who used humans for food and experimentation, whom they had been terrified of all their lives! Jahlanna, though she comforted herself in knowing that her mate trusted the flying dragons, dreaded at any moment their transporters would make toward the Dead World, or to some other Mahar city. 

      But Ka-ul-na kept his word, and at last the city of Sari appeared far below. 

     The sagoth army had departed mysteriously, and the Sarian forces were slowly recovering. Many of the men were startled to see the great flying dragons hurtling out of the heavens. Some of the warriors raised the spears, but then they saw that the monsters were bearing humans who appeared to be prisoners. Not knowing what was about to transpire, David Innes commanded the warriors to halt. 

   When the monsters released their catives and settled to the ground they found that the humans were those they most wanted to find--Clive Neville, his mate Jahlanna, Jarla of O-lar, and Jarn of Nu-al. The did not recognize the Azeer girl Jarla, but welcomed her all the same. 

     Clive explained the situation to them. Though they were still understandably nervous by the presence of the Mahars, Ka-ul-na, spke with David Innes as well. he explained that the war open Sari had ended—for now at least. He explained that he would seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict between the Mahars and the Empire. 

       I and my associates shall take up this matter with Tah-ru, the great Patriarch, Ka-ul-na explained.

      “Tah-ru,” said Clive. “Is he a male too?”

      He is, returned Ka-ulna. When the survivors of my race fled the Empire, we came to him for leadership once more. He had been living as an outcast himself for ages. Some of us did not even realize his identity as the last male Mahar, we had survived for so long as a race of she only. 

      From then, a truce was called. Ka-ul-na, and the other Mahars flapped up into the sunny heavens in the direction of Phutra. 
 
 

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