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Volume 0516
Jasoom  - Pellucidar - Caspak - Tarzana - Africa
BarsoomSasoomVanah - LunaAmtor - Cosoom
The Many Worlds of
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"The master of imaginative fantasy adventure...
...the creator of Tarzan and...
...the 'grandfather of science-fiction'"

Presents
At the Core of Mars
By 
Seth Kallen Deitch
Copyright 1999 S.K. Deitch


Chapter 6
Geography
 
In spite of the idyllic setting that my life now took place in, I could not forget that Savjoda was out there and planning the conquest of Barsoom.

Two more times, we witnessed the opening of roads to the surface world. Both openings were brief, too brief to allow a major invasion of the surface, but certainly things were happening. The most important thing was that these openings were reminders that Savjoda's plans moved forward while we did nothing.

In Dhaimira, as I have stated before, there are virtually no metals, yet somehow, we had to make the tools that would allow us to either escape this world or catch up with Savjoda. Barsoom is far older than Earth and the ways of the primitive much farther behind the Barsoomians than the inhabitants of Earth. It is for that reason that Tamla barely comprehended the concept of stone tools.

On Earth, even as recently as the reign of the Kalkars, men had chipped knives and axes out of flint, while Barsoom had lived in the age of steel for millions of years. Tamla reacted to my inept efforts of making tools from stone as if I had performed a magic trick.

It took me a few tries to make a useable axe-head, but I got quite a bit of practice due to the fact that they wore out quite quickly. The task of constructing a sturdy boat fell mostly to myself. Having been raised on the dry sea bottoms of Barsoom, the young princess understood little of the theory behind watercraft.

Over time, a seaworthy craft took shape. I cooked tree sap to pitch the hull and carved pegs to hold the boards together. The joined and pitched boards were then covered with animal hide as was a roofed enclosure inside the craft itself. I made a sail from large leaves sewn together. Tamla and I sailed on a few short excursions from our camp to survey the coast and work out problems with the boat's construction.

In spite of the fact that Keltrolna was quite small compared to any of Earth s continents, it was still of impressive size and variety. We spent some time exploring all along the western coast where we saw many wonders.

We had few really good choices for how we should proceed. Tamla thought that we should head into the South Polar region where she thought there might some sort of route into the Sea of Omean and from there we might reach the Sea of Korus. I, on the other hand thought that the course most likely to succeed would be to make for Savjoda s capital and wait to see if we could get back when he next opens a road.

We devoted ourselves to the study of what might be called Dhaimiran "astronomy." We had to create a clear map of our world but we were subject to the sorts of limitations that were usually faced by astronomers, that is the vicissitudes of the weather. We also had no telescope although that was not too much of a handicap. Dhaimira's diameter is approximately three thousand miles making it only slightly larger than Vah-Nah. The shell of Barsoom was rather thicker by proportion than that of Earth which encloses Pellucidar. The result of this was that the atmosphere was considerably easier to see through than that of Pellucidar. On the other hand, the sun effectively blanked out a larger portion of the sky than did the sun of Pellucidar. Luckily for us, our camp was located very near the equator and we were able to see both polar regions. We discovered two things. The first was that we could not tell with any certainty the direction of the planet s rotation, therefore, we remained unsure as to which pole was which. The second of which was the presence of land masses located over both poles making a direct sea passage to the surface unlikely.


This is a copy made from the first map we made in western Keltrolna. 
The land of Keltrolna can be seen to encircle all the other lands and waters, for this is how it appeared from our vantage.


This is the best surmise I could make of the actual shape of the lands of Dhaimira
if they were to be laid out flat. Geprodna is at the top of the map and Keltrolna is on the right hand side.

We reluctantly determined that seeking out Savjoda offered us the best chance of escape. We had, through our geographical explorations, found a place that we believed to be Savjoda's base of operations. It was almost on the exact opposite side of the world from us. This made me wonder why we entered Dhaimira where we did. Were there other plans for Tamla aside from those stated by the jomads?

I contrived a clock of sorts, really more like an ancient sand glass. It dribbled a stream of sand from one container to another over a period of approximately 4000 resting heartbeats. I arbitrarily decided to call a period where we reversed the containers 20 times a day and 30 of those periods a month. Both Tamla and I felt much better with a method of time-keeping, although now that we had one, we became aware of how fast the time was going by.

It took us half a month to prepare supplies for our voyage. They consisted of dried meats and wild vegetables and many skins filled with spring water.

The darmayoks had left us a vial of their water purification chemical, but we felt it was best to regard that as emergency stores. Also, the water skins made good ballast and helped keep the boat from rocking too far in one direction or the other.

We reluctantly determined that seeking out Savjoda offered us the best chance of escape. We had, through our geographical explorations found a place that we believed to be Savjoda s base of operations. It was almost on the exact opposite side of the world from us. This made me wonder why we entered Dhaimira where we did. Were there other plans for Tamla aside from those stated by the jomads?

I contrived a clock of sorts, really more like an ancient sand glass. It dribbled a stream of sand from one container to another over a period of approximately 4000 resting heartbeats. I arbitrarily decided to call a period where we reversed the containers twenty times a "day" and thirty of those periods a "month". Both Tamla and I felt much better with a method of time-keeping, although now that we had one, we became aware of how fast the time was going by.

It took us half a month to prepare supplies for our voyage. They consisted of dried meats and wild vegetables and many skins filled with spring water.

The darmayoks had left us a vial of their water purification chemical, but we felt it was best to regard that as emergency stores. Also, the water skins made good ballast and helped keep the boat from rocking too far in one direction or the other.

We set out on a calm sea using only the map we had prepared for navigation. Frequent overcast weather made our progress slow and before more than five days had passed, we were forced to land at the first island we saw to wait until we could get our bearings.

The island was lushly forested with the leafy cup trees, not unlike the one we made our escape from the jomads in, each with its own little pond. There was ample hunting and forage for us to eat well and replenish stocks as we needed.

Beyond the forest that lined the coast was a savanna interrupted by occasional trees and watering holes. The ground cover was both Earthly grasses as well as Barsoomian yellow moss, thus we were not overly surprised to see that the land was shared by elephants and wildebeest as well as wild thoats and zitidars. Here were also various beasts, which were of obviously Dhaimiran origin, some of which were too fleet of foot for us to get a clear look at. We also spotted lions and calots which convinced us that it would be better for us to return to the coastal forest.

After some time, we determined that we were on a large island that Tamla identified as Penshodai. This island sat at one end of an archipelago that reached all the way to Geprodna.

If we stayed in the region of these islands for our journey, we would always be near land and in shallow, warm waters, but we would also be more exposed to discovery by Savjoda s jomad minions. Even so, the limitations of our boat and our dependence on being able to see our destination militated against attempting a long voyage on the open ocean. Thus it was that we agreed to make our journey along the line of islands.


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To be continued in next week's ERBzine 0517
Chapter Seven
The Natives

Seth Kallen Deitch
Seth Kallen Deitch
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Volume 0516

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