The man and woman stood on the
edge of the precipice and gazed out into the infinite landscape. And the
landscape truly was infinite and unending; for this was Pellucidar, the
world within the Earth's hollow center. It was a world terribly vast, filled
with mighty oceans and continents, trackless jungles, imposing mountains,
From where the man and his mate stood, the
world stretched curved up and away in every direction, the fantastic tapestry
of great forests and lofty mountain ranges, interwoven rivers, and the
shining silver-grey of huge bodies of water ascending gradually upward
to be finally merged out within the blue-blurry hazes of the distance.
And, of course, there was
A sun that appeared many times
the size of its surface counterpart, shedding its perpetual light upon
this vast inner realm, giving life to its infinite multitudes.
The mighty jungle below sounded with the
eternal chorus of a teaming infinitude of seething primeval fauna. Mammals
birds and reptiles great and small, representing all the myriad ages of
surface prehistory teemed throughout the lost world's breadth. From somewhere
below came the mighty rumble from the throat of a ryth, the mighty cave
bear of the Pleistocene. And, as though in answering challenge, the sounded
from across the jungled gorge, a deep-throated roar, culminating in a scream
-- the roar of a tarag, the gigantic cave-tiger, one of the most ferocious
beasts of Pellucidar, and mortal enemy of the ryth since time immemorial.
And from above scream of a thipdar, one of
the giant pterodactyls of the inner-earth, caused the girl to glance up
in apprehension. For the flying reptiles were deadly predators to all but
the mightiest creatures within the hollow earth, including the human and
“Ohhhhh”, said the young woman.
“Clive, I am most thankful to the gods to be your mate, and that I have
you to protect me.”
The man tightened his grip about
her shapely shoulders. “I am the one most blessed. For I have you as a
mate. I could not have asked the gods for a more beautiful and magnificent
woman than you. And don't worry about that thipdar. He's probably just
warning other male thipdars out of his airspace. It's his way of telling
them it's his hunting grounds, and to keep away from his harem over in
those cliffs. Just like I won't let any other man come between us.”
“I know.” She murmured, pillowing
her child-like head against his shoulder. “I now realize that I love you
more than I could have any other man that might have had me, Clive. I know
that I am safe for you. Not only form the thipdars and other beasts, but
from the men that would take Jahlanna against her will. The world is so
full of such men.” She added this last with a soft tone of dread and apprehension.
“And from what I have seen and heard or such men, they are most of them
like Blorg, chief of the Mulag. They would treat a girl such as Jahlanna
very roughly if she refused to submit to their wiles. Perhaps Jahlanna's
great beauty is her curse.”
She did not sound it was a curse she
would willingly give up, though, and this made Clive laugh. “If you beauty
is a curse, then it's one I can live with.”
They embraced each other tightly, and still
locked within one anther's arms, kissed long and passionately.
The young woman -- or girl for she was hardly
more than that -- was the nubile eighteen-year-old princess of the Nu-al
tribe. She was a full-fledged Pellucidaran princess, and like most inner
world princesses, she was very comely. Few women of the outer crust could
come close to matching her in face and form, and Jahlanna's face out shown
the most celebrated Hollywood starlet to grace the Silver Screen. She was
the equal of any of Pellucidar’s princesses in shapeliness, and surely
surpassed most of them in voluptuousness when it came to hip size. Clive
had supposed the reason for this for that such as Jahlanna represented
a pure genetic lineage, uncorrupted by weakened civilized generations that
now teemed over the surface of the earth. His friend, the noted scientist
Alistair Simmons, offered a more precise explanation: that many of the
women of the inner world were possessed of striking beauty and femininity
because the need to attract a mate was so vital within the world inside
the earth. It brimmed over with ferocious primordial beasts and warring
tribes, and the lives of the careless was often terminated quickly. In
the race for survival, the rule was to procure a mate as swiftly as possible,
and the most comely women attracted the most mates. A fair face meant youthfulness
and vigor. Large hips and small waist indicted a girl coming of age
was fertile and receptive. Lust took the reins as men battled brutishly
to possess her. From there nature took its course.
As for Jahlanna herself, she enjoyed
most of the attention -- for the most part anyway. She had been the apple
her father's eye since her birth, when, even as an infant her bright blue
eyes, and glossy raven tresses were evident. She was coddled and dotted
upon growing up as a child. When she hit the equivalent of her teens, she
became the object of rapturous attention by the tribal men and boys. Most
of it was nice, she thought. But it frightened her that men would battle
brutishly for her possession. The though of bashed skulls and bloodied
limbs horrified her, and often she had pleaded for them to stop. When this
happened, she was either ignored or sharply reprimanded for the fact that
she was female and could not understand the matters of men. Of course,
such men were only being very foolish, and Jahlanna knew it. Only a warrior
brave enough to kill a dangerous predator and lay its head at her small
feet deserved to take her as a mate. She had refused all attempts to woo
her -- well, except for one which she accepted partly out of curiosity.
But immediately afterward came
the time when Blorg, and his warriors had abducted her. Jahlanna had endured
harsh treatment at the hands of Blorg and his cronies. The brutal war-chief
had slung the young girl over his brawny shoulder and carried her what
must have been for many leagues. She had remained bound with rough leather
thongs. While the others made camp or hunted. If any of Blorg's cronies
attempted to touch her, of course, the chief cuffed him hard. At least
one man was set to watch her, at least. It was during one of these intervals,
that Jahlanna managed to trick the dull-witted man on guard and escape.
The crafty girl was able to elude her pursuers, and one point hiding beneath
a fallen forest giant. She had nearly reached the borders of her own country,
guided by that uncanny homing instinct common to all Pellucidarans, when
a great beast of prey, a tarap, had set upon her. The tarap is a carnivorous
mammal of the order creodonta, and it is the size of a modern pachyderm,
and among one of the most feared predators among the fauna of the inner-earth.
It was then that the young princess
had crossed paths with the surface man Clive Neville, and his companions.
The girl had been startled by his strange appearance and mannerisms, and
his even stranger-seeming comrades. But the three strangers had successfully
slain the tarap. True, Clive had not actually hacked off the beast's head,
and presented it to her, but such a heroic feat caused her girlish heart
to flutter with admiration. She would gladly have given herself to him
even then, though she restrained herself from showing it. These were strange
men after all, and most definitely not of her people. The furred, tailed
man -- who called himself a Baraboo, and the young of whose tribe were
supposedly raised in pouches on their mothers’ abdomen -- —frightened her
a little. He had to be one of the many strange and unknown races that were
reputed to exist within the fastness of Pellucidar. Often she had gazed
into the far-off dreaming horizons of her world, and wondered what strange
lands and adventures awaited her out there. Doubtless many other peoples
bedsides her own and the Mulag, their hereditary foes.
But the other two men claimed
to have come from another world entirely!
Someplace beyond Pellucidar
where a smaller sun ruled the land in a vast blue heavenscape called the
sky. It travelled across the sky, then sank below the flat horizon, leaving
the land cloaked in darkness -- only to rise once more flooding the land
with its rays. She remembered there had been rumors of such a world before
among some of her tribal elders -- —though there were none who really took
it seriously. Ever since the Mahars had come into her country, there had
been rumors of other surface men -- men who had driven the Mahars out of
their native lands. It had spread from tribe to tribe -- and perhaps from
the Marhars, as some of her tribe had learned it while captives of the
Mulag -- that these strange men claimed herald from another world, one
that sounded similar to Clive's land. These men reputedly had knowledge
of weapons that could shoot fire and kill their enemies from a distance
-- similar to a remarkable weapon that Clive possessed. Rumor had spread
that in the far off land of sari, they were mass producing such weapons
of war. To Jahlanna and her tribe, the Mahars seemed indomitable with their
mighty jaws and wings and vast metal powers. But if there truly were such
men, and they were manufacturing such weapons, then truly the Mahar race
had foes worth reckoning.
But these rumors were very vague to say the
least. Most had learned the name of the far-off land of Sari, though not
the names of the men. And the whole concept of Clive Neville's surface
realm caused her mind to spin and reel. If her world was like a hollowed
out gourd, and his world was on the outside, then what kept its inhabitants
from falling off? Clive had once actually hollowed out a small gourd-like
fruit, and shown it to her as an example. It had later shown it to an audience
of village children. The youngsters had gasped in awe as Clive explained
carefully to them about the mechanics of the surface world. Jahlanna guessed
that the children accepted so willingly because they wanted to believe.
Older kids and adolescents mostly laughed, snickered, and turned away.
And adults stood back and appeared to consider it thoughtfully, but it
was obvious they too were very skeptical.
It was possible that all these surface
world tales were nonsense, and Clive was sick in the head. Maybe a branch
had fallen on him in his youth and done him permanent damage. But Jahlanna
was beyond caring. Clive had done more for her than save her from the tarap.
He and his friends had braved the Mulag cliff-city to ensure her safe return.
He had fought and killed Blorg in battle when the Mahars had pitted them
against each other. It was a feat Jahlanna would have scarcely thought
possible, even after the incident with the tarap. She would have been scared
out of her wits for him -- but Clive had accomplished it and that was more
than enough for her to accept him was a rightful mate. Then she and Clive
had been forced into a maze of death at the whim of the Mahar scientists
of Zhuma, where man and girl were forced to battle a fierce, hunger-crazed
varg, a long extinct gigantic counterpart to the modern wolverine. Clive
had tricked to beast into escaping and venting its fury on its masters.
Then they led a revolt against the reptilian lords of Zhuma, and overthrew
both them and the cruel Mulag. The captives of Zhuma were liberating and
Jahlana had returned home to her people, only now with a mate to call her
Her father, chief of the Nu-al, had given
Clive and herself her blessing, and they were “married” through a primitive
ceremony. There was much feasting and revelry among the Nu-al, both in
the defeat and overthrowing of not just one but two powerful enemies, but
the wedding of the tribal princess as well. Clive and Jahlanna spent the
aftermath of the celebration lovemaking in a special ceremonial hut --
though they had already made love many a time while they were both captives
of the Mahars.
Now Clive and his
friends planned to leave Nu-al behind and travel upriver into the vastness
of Pellucidar. From the rumors and tales told by the warriors of Nu-al,
Clive and Simmons knew in what direction Sari was supposed to lie, and
Simmons believed that he had pinpointed its location on his makeshift map.
Though Jahlanna's father offered to send forth his mightiest warriors to
guide them, Clive assured him that it would not be necessary for him to
risk the lives of any of their people.
“But you would risk my daughter, then,
the one Nu-al most precious to me.”
Clive blushed slightly. He had assumed, of
course, that since she was with him, Jahlanna would be safe. But it did
seem foolish to take fragile young girl along with him on what would undoubtedly
be a most peril-fraught journey.
“But I wish to go with him, father!”
cried Jahlanna, rushing to Clive, and grasping his arm. “You owe him so
much, since he saved me and liberated our people. ‘I owe you my daughter,
the most precious thing in the world to me!’ Those are you words, father.
That's what you said. Why shouldn't I go with my own mate when I wish it.
I am a grown woman now, father!”
Chief Morag scowled thoughtfully
at them. “You always had a way of persuasion, girl. It is against my better
judgment, but you are correct. It is not only that you use my own words
against me. By tribal law you must obey your new mate.” Then a fierce light
came into the chief's eyes, hardening his gaze. “Accept when it goes
against the wishes of the chief! I am still the chief, and both of you
must stay here! Besides, Clive Neville, we have need of such as you here.
The war with the Mahars may not be finished yet. Some may return and wreck
havoc on our village.”
“Alistair and I have instructed
your men what to do in the event that happens.” Clive answered. “But Nu-al
is not my home. We need to push on into other lands. I do not wish to endanger
your daughter. If she wishes, she may stay here. But she had expressed
her wish to accompany me, and I do not wish to leave here without her.
I believe you should let her decide. If she decides to accompany us, I
can assure you she will be under my protection, not to mention that of
my two companions, and we have more than proven ourselves in battle.”
The chief glowered at Clive, but appeared
to consider how his daughter might regard him if he did not allow her to
remain with the man she had fallen in love with. Finally, he said gruffly,
“Jahlanna, my daughter, feel free to go with your new mate. I would not
keep you from your newfound happiness with him.”
Jahlanna ran to her father and
like a child kissed him. “Oh, father, father, thank you!” He embraced her
tenderly, then returned her to Clive. Then he glared at the red-haired
man sternly. “But is anything at all should befall my daughter while she
is under your care -- I shall have your head impaled on spear to decorate
the village square, and your body will be thrown to the dogs!”
“I'll remember that.” Clive assured
Now, as they stood together on
the cliff edge, observing the majestic panorama sweeping out before them,
Jahlanna said, “if my father had refused, I would have run off with you.”
“Don't think for a moment I would have
left without you.” he assured her.