The flying creature was eager to be rid of the extra weight that
I was adding to his load. The air car with John Carter et al. aboard was
gaining on us rapidly preventing his escape.
It placed Tamla upon his back and drew a pistol which he attempted
to aim at me by firing upside down between his own legs. I jerked aside
at the last second causing him to wound his own tail but doing me no particular
harm. He was more successful with his second shot which was directed at
the pursuing flyer. The car dropped from the sky to come to a skidding
halt on the mossy plain below. I could see that none of the occupants were
injured from the crash, but it was also clear that their chase was at an
I attempted to call to Tamla, but my efforts were by necessity infrequent
as most of my effort was involved in merely hanging onto the flailing tail.
At a point when I thought that the creature was becoming tired enough
to have to put the two of us down, a strange feature appeared on the horizon.
It looked like a pillar made of clouds reaching high into the atmosphere.
As we approached the peculiar feature it resolved into a great, slowly
rotating whirlwind. It was not at all like the funnel storms that could
be seen on Earth, for this disturbance was both much wider and much slower.
It stood in one place churning up a circular cloud of dust.
Tamla cursed loudly and then called back to me, "It is the road to
Before I had a real chance to mull over the unusual statement, we
were sucked into the whirlwind. It was at that time that the flying creature
seized the opportunity to shake me free of his tail. Without warning, I
was falling freely through the air. Tamla held tightly to the winged monster
as he dove straight for the ground. I dove afterward knowing that my only
hope for staying alive was to once again grab onto the beast's tail or
some other part of him.
After a short time it occurred to me that we should have long since
hit the ground but we simply kept falling. The swirling storm around us
had grown progressively darker and its rotation ever slower. I realized
now that the sensation of plummeting was being replaced by one of floating.
In the distance, far below me I still could see Tamla astride her
abductor. To my horror, I observed her to pull a sword from her harness
and drive it to the hilt into the torso of the creature. This was an act
of insanity, plain and simple. Up until this time, at least she had had
a slim chance of surviving this strange ordeal, but now she had slain the
only thing in the air with us capable of independent flight.
Then something even stranger happened. Tamla kicked free of the creature
and started to rise upward toward me. I suddenly found myself disoriented
and dizzy. I had thought that she was below me, while now I seemed to be
sure that I was below her and we were both somehow rising although the
direction of our motion had not altered in the least.
Tamla slowly worked her way toward me until she was able to grasp
my hand. I asked her "What was that creature?"
"His name was Ranth Lankos. He was a jomad in the employ of
"I see," I said. It was an absolute lie, I had no conception of what
she was talking about. For the time, I brushed off that answer and asked
another question. "Do you know what is happening to us?"
"We are passing through the doorway to Dhaimira."
Before I could elaborate on my question, we suddenly burst into full
daylight. We were soaring into the sky above a rolling blue sea as might
be seen on earth but never upon dry Barsoom! We reached an elevation of
some five hundred feet before we started to fall toward the water. A fall
from such an altitude would surely have killed us on Earth, but under the
lesser gravity of Barsoom, which seemed lesser still in this particular
place, we only had the wind knocked from us as we struck the water of the
The dead body of the jomad precipitated into the water near us and
we were able to hang onto it for floatation while we got out bearings.
we both espied a nearby island and started to kick that we would propel
ourselves toward it. I was slightly surprised to see that Tamla was aquatinted
with the art of swimming which is an almost unheard of skill among the
children of dry Barsoom.
Upon reaching shore, we rid ourselves of the hideous corpse and then
both fell into an exhausted slumber there on that alien beach.
I knew not whether it was morning or afternoon when I awoke, for
the lighting was exactly the same as when I fell asleep. I surveyed my
surroundings while I sat. I looked out on a calm ocean which seemed to
have no horizon. Scanning the sky, I saw a number of colors which varied
quite a bit from the standard shades of blue and cloud. There were a great
variety of muted greens and browns which made me realize that it was land,
not sky that I looked out upon. It was another inside out world but notably
unlike either Vah-Nah or Pellucidar, both of whose vistas I was well familiar
Tamla was nowhere to be seen but she soon appeared with the body
of a small scaly, multi-legged animal that looked like it might well have
been a cross between a rat and a millipede. "Welcome to Dhaimira." She
said in matter of fact tones.
"Dhaimira. Within Barsoom?"
"Yes, another world sheltered within Barsoom."
I now looked upon Tamla of Helium carefully for the first time. I
knew her to be sixteen or seventeen (Earth) years of age, but she carried
herself with a sureness that belied her extreme youth. She was really quite
a beautiful girl, a quality that was in no way lessened by the fact that
she affected the harness and metal of a man. Along with a full sized sword,
she wore a dagger and a radium pistol like a warrior of old. In the days
some nine hundred years past when John Carter first appeared on Barsoom,
it was the manner in which all men accoutered themselves. Today, at least
in the great cities, most men would go about unarmed, which would have
been unthinkable in olden times.
The girl continued. "I have been here before. The opening we came
through was not there before, nor was the one that I accidentally was drawn
into it when I came too close attempting to investigate it with a flyer.
Savjoda has a method of opening a "road" as he calls them, almost wherever
he needs one. Four months I spent in this strange world and I discovered
that a plot of supreme evil was underway instigated by some of the inhabitants
of this unknown region.
Savjoda, "The Conqueror" as he arrogantly styles himself, has aroused
the Jomad tribes with the promise of untold riches on the surface world
of Barsoom. Dhaimira, as this inner world is known, has no metals. Even
a tiny scrap of iron is worth a king's ransom. The steel of my sword is
worth the entire treasury of a great nation in this world. Savjoda has
neglected, in a calculated fashion, to tell his jomad minions that Barsoom
regards water almost as highly as Dhaimira regards metal, for his true
goal is to rule both the inside and the outside of this planet!"
"Ha!", I said. "A small chance he will have against John Carter!"
"The blood of John Carter runs also in my veins! It has occurred
to me that I might solve this problem on my own without the help of the
I must admit that I found myself liking this feisty girl. She was
ready to take on a whole world on her own, so great was her craving for
adventure! Nonetheless, she was obviously more full of youthful exuberance
"Do you think that a young lass, even in the metal of a fighting
man, can stop this 'Savjoda' person?" The humor of it brought to me a welcome
laugh in this otherwise dire situation.
I instantly regretted my words when I saw the effect that they had
had on Tamla. Her cheeks flushed and her eyes ran with tears of anger.
She unbuckled her harness and cast it aside leaving herself wearing naught
but her flawless copper colored skin. Now I could see that beneath her
perfect and delightful feminine curves was a wiry musculature, which would
have served any warrior quite well.
"I will fight you hand to hand in only our skin and you shall see
what kind of a warrior this 'young lass' is!"
I was taken aback. "A gentleman would never deign to fight a lady
in such a way, certainly not a princess!" said I.
Her high pitched voice lowered to a growl. "You are a gentleman and
a prince. I am a lady and a princess. I am in every way your equal." And
then in a voice of command, "Strip!" The girl, it seemed, would feel dishonored
if I did not comply with her bizarre demand.
I removed my clothing and stood toe to toe with the girl who barely
reached my shoulder. I promised myself that I would treat her carefully.
I only needed to hold her down and that I should take care not to humiliate
her without necessity. I merely had to teach her a much needed lesson.
Before I was done thinking these thoughts, I found myself on my back in
the sand. she now straddled my supine form and rained blows upon my face
and chest. It was only with great effort that I was able to throw her off
the first time. Again we stood toe to toe now half squatting in a wrestler's
stance. I resolved to be more careful this time. She had obviously caught
me off guard. With lightning speed a heel made contact with my solar plexus
and I folded in the middle. As I gasped for breath another blow struck
me where my neck joined my head and I went face down on the beach. I found
I could not raise myself because the little slip of a girl now sat on my
back and was twisting my arm up behind my neck.
"Cry for mercy!" She ordered, but again I managed to throw her off.
I thought I had her pinned a few moments later, but a well calculated thrust
from her knee distracted me long enough for her to gain her freedom. While
I grappled with the girl I was constantly struck by the strange feeling
of the uncompromising strength of her muscles which rippled beneath her
soft and sweet smelling skin. In truth, I am sure that the prolonged contact
with that skin caused me more than once to lose a throw from lack of concentration.
And so it went for the better part of an hour, neither one of us
being able to best the other. At long last we both collapsed covered with
scratches and bruises and drenched in sweat. I think that each had a respect
for the other that had been lacking before. She was no longer just a silly
teenager to me and, I believe, I was no longer just a pampered prince to
her. The truth I had to face was that I was nearly twice her size and could
not best her. It was she who possessed the greater skill.
After we had caught our respective breaths, Tamla silently set herself
to gutting the small creature she had killed for dinner. She impressed
me by expertly striking fire with the steel of her sword and a pebble she
picked up from the beach. When cooked, the animal tasted like a combination
of lobster and mutton. Tamla said it was know here as a vrodak. It lived
the first part of its life like a fish in the sea, but it came out on land
to breed where it deposited its eggs in trees. This one was a hatchling,
a full grown one would be about the size of a sheep.
We stayed on the island for a period of time that would have been
a day and a night had the Sun ever set, but, like the luminous orb of Pellucidar,
it hung forever motionless at zenith.
On the second day I saw a flock of birds winging toward our island
and pointed it out to Tamla.
"There are no 'birds' in Dhaimira," She said. "Those are a party
Without any real conciousness of the act, we reached out and clasped
each other's hands as we watched them grow ever closer.