"Woe is upon our land and our people!" cried the Princess Nikotris. The multitudes, come to mourn by the fallen statue of Thoth, echoed her cry.
"The wrath of the gods can be averted only by the return of Tarzan and the apes," the high priest announced after consulting the oracles. So Tutamken princely brother of the beasts, was commissioned to go forth and hunt for the ape-man. Lightly he swung into the trees over the palace wall, accompanied by his pet monkeys. He was stopped by his companions in his swift flight through the jungle. They shrieked a warning for him not to dare go on. Dhiti, his favorite, clung to him.
"That sound means death!" cried the monkey.
Deep in the jungle came the steady beat of apes upon the earthdrum. Tutamken went on alone, but fear filled his heart. The apes themselves had warned him of the fate that awaited any human who came within sight of their secret rites. And he was puzzled by the strange red glare in the forest. The sacred apes had gathered within their brothers of the jungle. They awaited their king. Within the hollow of a tree. Tarzan hid his weapons. And Tutamken, high in the forest looked down upon a scene that few mortals have ever witnessed. The apes were whirling fiercely in the death dance of the dum-dum, and Tarzan was one of the leaping horde.
The land, rich in crops and cattle, had long been blessed with peace and plenty. Then one night, a vagabond made his fire against the cold wind. The sparks caught in the wheat-fields and the flames spread, driving panic-stricken families from their homes. As the Princess Nikotris looked out from her tower in the palace it seemed that the whole country was on fire. By the statue of the fallen ape-god Thoth, people clung together in fear of impending doom. Presently Tutamken's monkeys returned without their master. It was an evil omen and the high priest confirmed the belief of people that unless Tarzan returned with the sacred apes, the land was indeed doomed.
Deep in the jungle, Tutamken waited until dawn when the apes, weary from the death dance, were going off to sleep. Then he swung noiselessly to the tree where Tarzan slept. "The anger of the gods is upon us," said Tutamken. "Only you and the apes can save us." But Tarzan would not return to the palace where his brother-apes were murdered.
When Tutamken reported the failure of his mission the Princess Nikotris consulted the oracles and announced, "It is the will of the gods that I myself go to Tarzan and bring him back to save our people."
Blessed by the high priest, the Princess Nikotris set out upon her journey to bring Tarzan back to the desolated land. Her barge was brought to the edge of the jungle in the river where the crocodiles swarmed. There she dismissed her attendants and entered into the wilds, accompanied only by her brother Tutamken as guide and Von Harben as interpreter. The journey was long and the delicate lady unused to the wilds grew almost too weary to go on. Presently her brother had to carry her. High in a tree, Ptok, the great ape, watched, hatred of the tarmangani in his heart. Swift was his attack, leaping from the trees, he landed upon Von Harben and knocked him senseless. Then, with ferocious strength, he felled Tutamken and wrenched Nikotris from her brother's grasp. In his arms he lifted the princess. High into the trees he carried her. Deep in the jungle Tarzan heard the woman's blood-chilling, frenzied screams. And then the more terrible cry of the great ape, as the woman fainted in his arms.
When Tarzan heard the cry of the princess, he raced to save her. The great ape, Ptok, who had carried Nikotris high into the trees, saw the ape-man coming. As Tarzan swung after him, Ptok, raced with his victim to the topmost branches. There the great ape lifted the princess high above his head and hurled her from him. But even as she fell, Tarzan caught a branch of the tree and swung toward her. He grasped her with one arm but the branch broke and the ape-man and princess whirled through the air in a swift crashing descent. Tarzan, ape-like, reached out and broke their fall as he caught hold of a long hanging vine. But as he swung safely with the princess in one arm, above him he heard the challenging battle cry of Ptok. Swiftly Tarzan leaped to the ground, but even as he landed, close in back of him came the wild roar of numa, the lion, about to attack his prey.
As numa prepared to spring, Tarzan turned swiftly -- the princess in his arms. Knowing the beast would be confused by the flying draperies Tarzan whirled the princess around in the lion's face. Taking swift advantage of numa's hesitation, the ape-man leaped for the trees. Then the lion sprang. . . and caught Nikotris' draperies. But Tarzan wrenched her free and dashed up the branch. Above him he heard the challenging cry of Ptok the great ape. Answering the challenge with mocking taunts Tarzan swiftly ripped shreds from the garments of the princess. Improvising a rope, he tied her to the trunk of the tree so he would be free for combat. Then he swung himself in front of her, and stood defiant, daring the great ape to come on. As Ptok leaped for him, Tarzan prepared to spring. He dove under the great ape, intending to seize his hind leg. . . but missed. Ptok landed on the branch and in a moment was tearing at the bonds by which Nikotris was held.
Tarzan caught the next branch and whirled around in a giant swing. He landed on Ptok's back. As the great ape tore at the bonds that held the Princess Nikotris. Ptok turned quickly and caught the ape-man off his guard. While they battled in the trees numa the lion stood below waiting for the first to fall. Suddenly Tarzan caught Ptok by leg and arm. . . swung him high above his head. . . and dashed him down toward numa's gaping jaws. But, as Ptok dropped unconscious at a blow from the lion's sledge-hammer paw. . . Tarzan, blood brother of the apes, unwilling to see even an enemy-ape destroyed before his eyes, hurled himself through the air and fiercely attacked the king of the beasts.
The jungle rang with Tarzan's victory cry -- the wild cry of the bull ape a the kill -- as numa lay dead at his feet. deep in the jungle the horde heard the shout of their king and came hastening to him. Tarzan meanwhile had swung into the tree where he had -- for her own safety -- left Nikotris tied. When the tribe had gathered, Tarzan instructed them that Nikotris was his she-ape, and it meant death to anyone who touched her. He leaped from the tree with Nikotris in his arms and landed in the midst of the tribe. Not pausing, he raced for water to revive the unconscious princess. As he came to the river a great shout of joy went up from the barge. The Egyptians thought the gods had answered their prayers in sending Tarzan and the apes back to them. But when Tarzan had delivered the princess to her handmaidens, he turned to go. Desperately the Egyptians pleaded with him to stay, but he understood no word.
After her physician had revived her, the princess demanded to be led to the ape-man. She clung to him and said, "It is the command of the gods that you remain with us always. Our people need you. The gods have spoken."
While the princess clung to Tarzan pleading with him in the tongue that he did not understand, to return to the city. . . within the temple, the high priest prayed that Nikotris would succeed in bringing the ape-man back. . . and the prayer was echoed by the crowds around the fallen statue of the apogee Thoth.
In the jungle, Tutamken, recovered from the blow with which the great ape PTO had felled him, was leading the wounded Von Harben through the unmarked trail. It was not until Von Harben came to the royal barge and acted as interpreter that Tarzan understood the pleas of the Egyptians. They believed they could never avert the wrath of the gods unless he returned with the sacred apes. In compassion for the suffering people Tarzan agreed to return and called the apes to him. When the barge reached the palace, word spread rapidly that the ape-man had returned. There was dancing in the city streets for joy at the good omen. The granaries closed against famine, were opened to the eager crowds. In the palace, a festival was started to end the days of mourning. The high priest led Tarzan and the apes into an enormous bare room. Once they were all inside the high priest closed the door on them and had it sealed up. He vowed to hold Tarzan and the apes prisoners for life lest by their escape they cause the anger of the gods to fall again on the Egyptians.
Above the chamber in which Tarzan and the apes were imprisoned was the only opening, a trap door, that was constantly guarded. Through it daily food was thrown. One day, Tarzan, looking up, saw the Princess Nikotris there with his friend, Von Harben -- to Von Harben he was able to communicate a plot to mystify the Egyptians. Acting under Tarzan's directions and guided by the princess, Von Harben found in the palace library a great roll of papyrus paper. Secretly Nikotris dyed it to flaming red. On her next visit to the prison she too the roll of papyrus that she had hidden beneath her robe and tossed it through the trap door. When Tarzan received it he fashioned it about himself into the shape of the statue of the God-Thoth.
After Nikotris knew that the ape-man had transformed himself, she hastened to her father, the pharaoh, and cried "Hasten! The ape-man has disappeared. The god Thoth is in prison in his stead. She led her father to the trap door over the dungeon and there she pointed out the god of the apes. . . and suddenly the palace echoed the wild frenzied cry of Tarzan. . . the cry of the bull-ape at the kill. "We have imprisoned the god Thoth himself!" cried the princess. "He calls to us to free him."
In haste, pharaoh ordered men to break open the sealed door of the chamber where Tarzan as confined. That night the ape-man, in the guise of Thoth appeared walking on the palace steps. . . while pharaoh and his court gazed on in wonder.
When news spread that Tarzan had been transformed into the god Thoth, excited crowds celebrated in the city streets. The ape-man wearing the godlike disguise he had fashioned, walked unhindered from the palace. The populace cheered and prayed when he appeared in the streets. On the palace roof, the Princess Nikotris gave thanks for the success of the stratagem by which Tarzan had been freed. Everywhere was rejoicing, except in the quarters of the priests of Thoth. The high priest , suspicious of the transformation of Tarzan into Thoth, denounced the action of the pharaoh in releasing the apes and their leader. Then he led the priests through the secret underground tunnels that connected the temple with the city. He was waiting and confronted Tarzan in the market place when the ape-man appeared in the guise of Thoth.
"If you be Thoth, the real Thoth, you will go through the ordeal by fire," the high priest announced, brandishing his torch. But Tarzan understood not -- until the priest applied the torch to the papyrus disguise in which the ape-man was concealed. Like Ara the lightning, Tarzan tore the flaming papyrus from him. "Behold, the stranger has deceived you!" cried the high priest. "I call upon all the faithful to rise and destroy him as an impostor!"
In frenzy, the high priest urged the mob to destroy the ape-man. They advanced shouting, "Death to the impostors!"
Then Tarzan commanded the apes to attack. At the slow advance of the great anthropoids, the mob retreated. The people shrank back in terror as Tarzan and the apes went through the city streets. The high priest cried out in helpless rage, as, from the temple roof, he saw the ape-man pass unharmed out of the city across the desert.
The Egyptian Saga
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