For the equivalent of a about a month,
Clive Jahlanna, and their comrades spent their time in Sari, recuperating.
There was much to talk about, and many long tales to tell. There was some
speculation as to what became of Lu-gor, but everyone assumed he was dead
since the thipdar had carried him off. And that Jarn and Jarla were
therefore free to return to their homeland in peace. The Nu-al boy had
proven himself a true hero. Though the boy was known for his fabrications,
Clive and Jahlanna had been there to back it up, as they would when they
reached O-lar, and there was any question remaining over whether Jarn would
prove a worthy suitor to Jarla. The queen of O-lar would have no further
reason to trust Lu-gor, either. That Lu-gor had proven treacherous in the
extreme was something that both Jahlanna and her mate could attest very
well to. But excepting the small chance that the brutal caveman had somehow,
survived being devoured by the pterodactyl or fed to its squalling brood
of young, he was out of all their lives for good.
As for Zara, she had no real
desire to return to the land of Azeer. She had never gotten along with
Queen Zeera, or the even the other girls, given her rebellious nature.
She had, curiously, taken a certain liking to Hug-lo, and it seemed as
though a romance of sorts was starting to bloom between these two. Or perhaps
it was not so curious, as Zara, like all Amazon women of Azeer, was very
tall for a girl her age, and had she had grown some since her adventure
started, now practically reaching young womanhood.
Her newfound interest in Hug-lo had dissipated the jealousy she had
felt toward Jarn and Jarla, and now had become more teasing and friendly
with the boy.
Grunth, the bison man of ganakland had died,
and everyone who had fought alongside him remembered and mourned him. Tarok
and Valkara were officially wed in Sari, following the tradional tribal
custom of the Sarians, which was not unfamiliar to that of Nu-al, or most
other Pellucidaran tribes. They were uncertain, however, where they should
settle down. Remaining in Sari was one possibity, and returning to Nu-al
was another. At last, they decided that they would return to the North
and Valkara’s people, and see how it worked out. If it did not, they could
always choose to return to Nu-al, or somewhere else of their own choosing.
Throughout their time in Sari, Allistair
Simmons busied himself in pouring over the ancient records of the Mahar
race, which had been recovered long ago. Abner Perry, David Innes’ old
comrade, who had first suspected the existence of Pellucidar, was invaluable
in teaching him the writings of the Mahar. The two aged scientists got
along well. Perry revealed to Simmons that the records of Phutra indicated
that the Mahars had discovered a means of replicating themselves—what is
known now as “cloning”, taking the nuclei of adult cells form existing
Mahars, and injecting them into he developing eggs. This was their Great
Secret. Though the actually method was contained within their Book, the
references to it among the collected scrolls of the Mahar scientists were
many. Therefore, every female Mahar that had been birthed by the artificial
process was a genetic copy of another individual. But the scrolls also
revealed that they had since discovered a method of genetically altering
the DNA of each cell in order to create variance among their species. Since
a revolution of sorts had taken place since the Mahars were driven from
the empire, the Outcast males had returned. The Mahars were reproducing
sexually once again. This seemed to make them even more dangerous. Though
the technology behind the Great Secret had boosted the Mahar’s knowledge,
it had its foundations in ideology, and had left them genetically and reproductively
weak. Now that the males had returned, the seemed a greater threat then
ever, and it was through the intervention of male scientists, that the
reptiles had nearly whelmed and conquered Sari. However, Clive’s experience
with Ka-ul-na gave him hope that a resolution could indeed be reached.
No one trusted the winged reptiles completely, however, and scouts sent
by David Innes, would frequently scan the skies beyond Sari for sign of
the flying reptiles. The empire was safe for the moment, it seemed, and
the proposed invasion of the surface world at an end. But it was inevitable
that the interests of the Mahar and those of the Empire met sometime in
the future. It was only a question of when.
Clive and Jahlanna were made at home in the
palace of David Innes, and his own mate Dian the beautiful, a princess
in her own right, and quite as lovely as Jahlanna was. The two girls spoke
little to one another, perhaps to avoid mutual jealousy. The warrior Dangar,
also had a mate who was also a tribal princess, an African girl of the
surface. The story between her and Dangar’s meeting was quite a strange
one. All of them spent what must have been long ours in the comfortable
palace, telling retelling adventures, and sipping fermented wine brought
on trays by the palace serving girls.
At last, it came time
to depart for home.
Jarn, for one had made himself
quite at home in Sari, and had adjusted well to life in the city. He was
making fast friends with other lads, and had taken to a recent activity
among Sarian boys known as “street gambling,” in which the Nu-al boy had
beaten some of the others at their own game. Jarn had taken instantly to
the concept of money, something unknown through the remainder of Pelluicdar’s
tribes, and was quick finding skills on how to acquire it. But upon Jarla’s
desire to return to her homeland, the boy conceded—and found that he was
missing his own land Nu-al much as well, despite his love of discovery
and new lands.
So it was that Clive, Jahlanna, Simmons, Jal-mar,
and Jarn and Jarla were given a great tandor form the Imperial stables.
They bid their comrades fare well, and set out for the land of Nu-al, where
Clive desired to spend the remainder of his days with his princess. There,
he was certain, they would raise many fine sons and daughters.
As they rode off toward distant
Nu-al, Jahlanna held her warrior tightly, her lovely face pillowed against
his shoulder. She was safe at last, with the man she truly loved, as at
long last her homeland beckoned.