Never in her life as a tribal princess
had Jahlanna of Nu-al been subjected to such indignity. The men had roughly
reated her on one of the planks of the wooden boats. Her captors had lashed
her slim arms roughly behind her, her delicate wrists secured with such
tightness it was painful. Mogor, and a burly human pirate grasped each
of the girls’ slim arms, as though to give added assurance that she could
not flee. If one of them attempted to caress her, or even brushed her too
coarsely, the girl jerked hatefully and shrieked. But they held her fast,
and there was no escaping. Could Clive and the other warriors have heard
her scream and rushed to her aide? Perhaps, but even had they, Jahlanna
realized that she was far beyond them now.
The men seated on the planks in front of Jahlanna
sneered at the princess as they rowed. They kept rowing until they reached
the side of the huge ship. To Jahlanna, the structure seemed frighteningly
huge. It was all the more remarkable to her in that it was a structure
meant to float across the water. She knew that it was not alive, though
she still thought of it as a wooden beast, for lack of a better term. Yet
she had heard that men such as these Korsars had some mysterious means—perhaps
magic—to make the wooden beasts obey them and carry them wherever they
wished across the water.
Rope ladders were rackled down to the waiting boats. The
men and Mogor clambered up, the sagoth with ape-like agility. One pirate
sliced through the ropes binding the girl’s wrists, though he was careful
to grasp those small wrists firmly, or she was liable to struggle free,
and venture making a swim for shore, rather than be hauled up among a boatload
of lustful men.
They had to haul the fiercely though feebly struggling girl out of the
boat, and it was an effort getting her up the ladder, and on board. This
caused the princess to topple over the rail and onto the hard wood-planked
deck in a most undignified manner. The men on the deck around her roared
and braved with raucous laughter. Two of them pulled the shamed princess
to her feet. Jahlanna kicked and struggled, but her girlish strength was
useless in the grip of the seasoned shipmates.
The princess gazed around herself in a dazed
fashion. The ship was filled with more of the rough-talking swarthy, hawk-nosed
men. Their laughter now died away as they examined the girl herself. Some
of them gasped or whispered in awed tones to one another.
The Korsars had seen many comely women in their travels
within the hollow earth, and found the women of Pellucidar’s native tribes
to be perhaps the loviest on earth or within it. But very few had they
seen as beautiful as Jahlanna of Nu-al. The delicate, childlike face of
the princess, with its arched eyes brows and lovely almond-shaped blue-violet
eyes fringed by dark silken lashes, as well as her full-red lipped mouth,
and dark ebon tress of luxuriant fullness and length—all these things held
The gazed at her nudity with an air of lust
that was almost palatable.
The girl regarded her leering captives with haughty
coldness. Jahlanna remembered that she was still a princess, even if she
were a captive of these ruffians. Whatever they did to her, they could
not change that.
“Where,” ventured one of the pirates, a dwarfish,
rat-faced man, “Did you find such a delicious prize as this?”
“I did not find her.” replied the Cid. “Mogor
did. And he shall be rewarded richly.”
“Rewarded?” replied rat-face. “Your liege
does not mean with the girl herself surely?”
"Of course not. The female is for myself alone.
What did you expect?"
“But surely your liege does not intend to enjoy
such a prize as this for himself alone. Surely there is enough of her to
“I certainly do intend to keep her for myself. No
one shall be mating with her other than me.” He turned to face the entire
gathering. “And any man who tries will end up thrown to the az-dyryths!
Is that understood?”
The men nodded and murmured. The Cid turned
his attention to Jahlanna. The princess looked away coldly. The Korsar
chieftain took her delicate chin in his callused fingers, and turned the
girl’s sweet face up toward his own hawk-like visage. “Do not try to be
pert with me, my dear. I have certain ways of persuasion that have turned
even spirited girls such as yourself, as you shall soon see.”
Jahlanna said nothing.
“Hold your tongue for now if you will, my willful
girl,” said the Cid, “But soon you will learn proper manners. You are a
harem girl now—you are in fact the prize girl of my harem—and a harem girl
always learns to behave as she is expected.”
“I am a princess!” exclaimed Jahlanna.
“No longer, my dear.” answered the Cid.
“Mogor! Take the girl to my chamber.”
The beast-man started toward her, but Jahlanna
said, “No! that sagoth shall not lay another finger on me!” She stared
with proud defiance into the Cid’s bearded face. “Jahlanna is your captive.
But if she must go to your chamber, she chooses to go on her own.”
The Cid smiled roughly at her. “That’s the good lass,
my comely jungle princess. I think you are starting to appreciate me already.”
“Jahlanna did not say she was ready to become
your mate, not will she ever!
“Oh, I think you will my dear. I think you will.
Come this way, lass.” The bird-reptile clinging to the burly captain’s
houlder hissed as though in agreement.
The Cid strode toward the ship’s cabin, the
mass of crewmen parting to allow him through. Jahlanna sauntered after
him at her own pace. The scrawny rat-faced fellow had the audacity to reach
out to slyly fondly the heavy flesh of her poasterior.The girl slapped
the man sharply on his wrist for his indignity.
“I’ll teach you to show us respect, “princess.”
The man sneered. But a backward scowl from the Cid held him in check.
“I only meant to remind her that she is our
captive.” whined the rat-faced man.
“Then see that you keep your hands to yourself—
you may end up losing them.”
“Of course, my liege.”
Jahlanna followed the Cid into the ships cabin,
and down a flight of wood stairs. They entered a hallway that went past
several rooms, bunkers, Jahlanna supposed for the crewmen, and entered
what had to be the privet quarters of the Cid himself.
There was a large and massive wood chair
and several cabinets stocked with rows of bottled liquor. There was a couch
covered with the thick furs of prehistoric beasts, and strew with colored
silken pillows. And standing or seated on the mats which covered the floor,
and lounging about on the couch and divans were the other girls in the
The Jahlanna looked upon them, feeling a renewed
sense of dread dissipate her pride. These girls were all comely, most of
them raven-haired white-skinned beauties of the gilak tribes. There were
a couple of dusky-skinned girls among them, and one yellow-haired maid.
There was one among them who was not quite human; she had a supple body,
firm, hard breast like the others, but her skin was a deep blue black,
and from behind her curled a long, hairless prehensile tail! Jahlanna had
only seen a tailed humanoid once, her mate’s friend and fellow warrior
Jal-mar. But this she did not appear to be of Jal-mar’s tribe, whose females
Clive had told her lacked any visible mammaries at all. Plus, Jal-mar was
sleekly furred and this female seemed to lack any hair upon her voluptuously
muscled body. There was also one girl whose soft skin was of a pale, jade-green
hue, that at first Jahlanna had though must be the result of some kind
of dye, though she had no idea why a girl would think dying herself green
would add to her beauty. The girl was alluring, but the color made her
look strange. But the more Jahlanna stared, the more she thought it was
actually her natural skin tone she was seeing. Her eyes were almond-shaped
and of an intense emerald that offset her skin color. Her hair was also
a vibrant emerald, like tresses of silken seaweed, as were the nipples
which capped her firm, pointed breasts. Her hips were slender, and nearly
boyish, so unlike Jahlanna’s own flaring ones. But what most drew the attention
of the princess was that the girl’s hands appeared to have webbing between
her slender digits. This girl’s eyes seemed to have a certain sadness in
them, and—if Jahlanna was not mistaken—a certain kindness too. If she were
to have any friends among these new companions of hers, she felt certain
it would be her.
But the looks on the other girls’ faces, while
not openly hostile, were by no means friendly as they scrutinized their
latest member. Jahlanna had seen that manner of expression on females before.
She could tell the females were sizing her up as a rival. Already, she
could discern a budding jealousy among the Cid’s harem. She also noted
that not one among them was as beautiful as herself. Ordinarily that would
have been quite fine with her, but in her present situation, it only meant
trouble—save perhaps that she could count on the Cid’s protection, as the
man obviously did not wish his latest prize damaged. Still Jahlanna could
not help thinking back to her earlier captivity in Mulag. The Mulag women
had not treated her kindly. While many of them had been downright ugly,
and these girls were at least comelier, the jealousy was still there, and
Jahlanna did not have high hopes for herself among women who were not of
her own tribe.
“Welcome to my harem, Princess.” proclaimed
the Cid. He attempted to place one beefy hand one the girl’s delicate shoulder.
Jahlanna flinched at his touch, though only slightly. She managed to say
“Soon you will learn to loosen your tongue my sweet;
you will do well to.”
It was a strident, commanding feminine voice.
It had issued seemingly out of nowhere.
Jahlanna glanced in its direction, and met
eyes with a woman somewhat older than herself, dusky skinned and voluptuously
made. Her almond-shaped eyes were liquid pools that leapt with black fire.
Her eyebrows were elegantly arched; she plum-red lips as ripe, full, and
sensual as Jahlanna’s own. Her shoulders were shapely and rounded. Her
waist was small, her hips wide, full and sturdy, though not to the extent
of the Nu-al girl’s. Her breasts were quite developed. Plump and heavy,
and capped mummeries the rich color of wild berries, they rose and fell,
with her thrusting chest with each furious intake of breath. This girl
was indeed furious, that much Jahlanna could see. And her fury was aimed
squarely at the newcomer--herself. This girl, Jahlanna knew, was the “queen”
of Borak’s harem—the leader of the pack, so to speak. And she knew instantly
that she could expect no friendship from her of any sort.
“What have you done, Borak? Brought another
of your jungle hussies to take my place.”
“Calm down, Nahsheema!” Borak commanded
the girl. “Do not forget you are merely my slave! I have favored you as
my mate for long enough, I might add. And yes, I have found another member
for my harem. Only this time, I believe, I will favor her over you. She
is a prize unlike any other, as you can see for yourself.”
Nasheema glared at her new rival with undisguised
loathing and contempt. “A prize, indeed!” she raged, eyeing the jungle
girl’s hips, “She’s all hips and behind, nothing else!” Nasheema through
back her queenly head and gave a loud haughty laugh, then shot a seething
glare as though daring any among them to disagree.
"Think what you will of her," said Borak huskily.
“She is to my mate now, and you and your sisters shall not mar an inch
of pretty skin on her body for fear of your lives.”
Nahsheema narrowed her eyes into
hateful slits that fairly spit venom, as she glared at her master and former
mate. You dare” she said in quiet anger, “to reject Nasheema for some naked,
pathetic savage with the pouty face of a pubescent girl and oversized hips?
This time you have really gone too far, Borak. I have put up with enough.
I should leave you and your little hussy, and I should like to find a strong
handsome mate among the white tribes of this land.” Her magnificent breasts
heaved and quivered as she spoke.
Borak shrugged his burley shoulders. “Go then,
Nasheema, if it so pleases you.. What you do is no longer what concerns
It was obvious that Nasheema could barely restrain
her rage. Jahlanna sensed that the Korsar girl wished to claw and
tear at her lovely face with her nails. But at last Nasheema seemed strangely
enough, to compose herself. She assumed a haughty pose and glared down
at Jahlanna icily, as though the Nu-al princess were a mere annoying child.
She said. “Take your little jungle hussy then, Borak. And of course I shall
do her no harm. Why should I care about such a contemptible little nothing
as her? Let the little untutored savage share your bed all she wishes.
Who is Nasheema to stand in the way of your company, oh great chieftain
of the Korsars?”
The Korsar girl turned and sauntered out of the chamber
with sensual, pantherish grace.
Borak gazed down at Jahlanna, into his captive’s
lovely features. He lightly raised her chin. “You will learn to like it
here.” He said. “I will give you time to adjust.”
He left the chamber, shutting the door behind him.
The mighty sea of Korsar Az bucked and
tossed the small craft.
Clive, Simmons, Tarok and Jal-mar had
set out upon the breadth of the mighty ocean upon naught but a flimsy craft
they had painstakingly constructed from logs lashed together with heavy
vines. A hide sail, made form the stitched-together skins of recently slain
carnivores billowed out in the torrential gusts. They set out in the direction
of Korsar, the fortress-city of the Korsars of Pellucidar. The Korsar ship
that had borne off the Princess Jahlanna had long since departed. They
had agreed to stay as near to the mainland coastline as close as possible,
in order to avoid the advent of a storm, and to locate Korsar as soon as
possible. According to Simmons, Korsar lay some leagues form her
near the mouth of a great tributary. Their route would take them farther
form Sari, their original destination, but the only thing on Clive’s mind
at this point was to reprieve his lost mate.
A storm, it seemed, had already begun brew.
Thick clouds were building along to coastline. A
fierce wind was already blowing, though fortunately in the direction they
were traveling. The clouds were dark, roiling and ominous. Buffets of harsh
wind, and stinging salt spray assailed the explorers.
They were sidelining a stretch of coast that consisted
of almost nothing but basaltic rock. And this rock was absolutely covered
with swarms of seabirds with striking ebon and white plumage. Though such
seafowl were quite common along the coasts of the inner earth, Clive could
tell, even from the distance that these were seabirds of a new variety
heretofore unencountered by him or his comrades. These were not the familiar
gulls and herrings of the surface, nor were they the loon-like herperornis
and tern-like ichtyornis which were more common along the coasts of Pellucidar’s
oceans, and whose and toothed bills marked them as seagoing relatives
of the archaeopteryx. These were a great deal larger, and the massed Graak!
Graaak! sound of them, much more rouceous to what he was accustomed
to, somehow put Clive on edge. Sea-fowl were not ordinarily dangerous,
but something about these made him apprehensive.
“What are those birds?” he asked Jal-mar.
“I do not know, I have never seen such birds.
My people are not seafarers. Perhaps Tarok will know.”
“I have heard of them,” the Nu-al said. “They are
called Az-tarns. Be ready with your weapon.”
“Why? Are they a danger?” Clive asked.
“Yes. They feed mostly on fish and squid, but they
will attack any creature they can overpower. Or so I have been told.”
Professor Simmons was only puzzled, for the fossil
remains of the the birds, known as osteodontornis of the Miocene, would
not be discovered until 1957.
Clive readied his pistol and all of them kept
a wary eye on the predatory avians. Some of the az-tarns were now aloft,
riding the currents in wide leisurely circles above the tossing waves.
And some were sweeping closer. Clive could see now that they were indeed
far larger than sea gulls, larger in fact than a surface albatross. Their
wings spanned nearly twenty feet across, and they looked big enough in
the body to reach half the height of an adult man. Clive watched as one,
and then another of the great birds dipped on the mighty currents to snatch
up a fish, squid, or some other scaly denizen from the briny waves. So
far, none of the birds had showed interest in them.
It was not until their craft had nearly passed beyond
the roosting area of the az-tarns, that one of the mighty avians hove toward
“Be ready.” Tarok cautioned. “An az-tarn comes.”
The mighty sea bird flapped toward them, then hovered in
front of the four two-legs, beating its gigantic spread of feathered pinions.
It had a bill shaped like a sword, and unflinching predatory eyes, and
it squawked raucously at the intruders into its water hunting grounds.
Unlike the lesser marine birds of Pellucidar’s oceans, the az-tarn lacked
any teeth, but the great bill was edged with a series of vicious-looking
dagger-like hooks, for the obvious purpose of snagging prey.
The super-gull remained hovering before them, still
refusing to strike. Clive was uncertain if the bird was merely curious,
was attempting to warn them out of its territory, or was sizing them up
as potential prey.
Then another of the giant avians plummeted
toward the craft. And then another. The birds were now surrounding the
humans and their raft, squawking horridly. Their harsh cries tore at the
More such birds, Clive now saw from the corner
of his eye, were now flapping across the waves, spiraling down to join
their comrades surrounding the raft.
And then they attacked.
The first of the az-tarns dove in, rear talons stretched.
Jal-mar swatted the bird with his wooden pole. The az-tarn plummeted back.
Two others hove in, their necks thrashing out, bills clashing. It was evident
now that the az-tarns saw the intruders as food. Clive had no choice; he
fired one round into the snowy breast of one of the birds, and it crashed
back into the waves. The others closed in a feathered mass of thrashing
pinions and stabbing dagger-bills. Clive was able to finish off another
three of their attackers. Tarok, Jal-mar, and even Simmons managed. Fending
off the flock with their oars as best they could, smashing their poles
into their feathered assailants. But more of the feathered monsters kept
coming. It was as if they lacked fear of self-preservation, the loss of
a few of the flock members not having any effect on the rest. Soon, Clive
thought, their strength would give out, and these sea gulls from hell would
feat upon them.
“Do not give up, Clive!” Tarok shouted. “Kill as
many as you can, before they finish us!”
Clive Neville felt a grim satisfaction well up within him,
that he and Tarok would die as comrades.
The air around them was filled with the thunderous flapping
wings and biting beaks of the az-tarns. There world had become a snowy
flurry of beaks and thrashing feathers.
And then something unexpected occurred.
The flock of shrieking feathered monsters parted.
The men gaped in wonder for a moment.
A few feet from the raft, there became visible the dark,
glossy hump which obviously belonged to some monstrous denizen of the Paleolithic
ocean. And then Clive saw, just beyond this, a multitude of secondary humps
identical in size and character to the first, many of them receding in
the distance, indicating a mighty, serpentine body, not unlike the classical
sea-serpents of yore. From their number, the monster was terribly vast,
well over one hundred feet in length. At the spot where the humps seemed
to terminate, a mighty tail flipped up out of the water; Clive noted that
it appeared, curiously, identical to that of a modern cetacean or whale.
A monstrous head rose up beside their raft.
The head was monstrous and lizard-like, sporting
massive, dragonish jaws not unlike that of a tylosaurus, yet smooth and
rubbery skinned and explicitly lacking of scales.
The az-tarns dispersed, tearing off into the sky,
The marine monster twisted its massive head, snapping one
of the giant sea-birds by the wing. The bird flapped screaming, thrashing
its twenty foot wings. The beast shook its prey savagely, then gulped down
its kill, feathers and all.
The rest of the flock took off, heading back
to the distant basaltic shore in a blizzard of white.
“Beware Clive, my friend. We may
now be safe form the az-tarns. But the beast that has driven them off may
“What is it?” Clive asked.
“It is an az-tarap, one of the most dreaded
predators of the sea. They are not reptiles, but are nearly as tenacious
of life as if they were. If it attacks, try to place a shot into the roof
of the thing’s mouth, the only vulnerable portion of the beast. That is
where I shall aim my spear.”
“I believe that beast that has just saved us
form those flying nightmares is a zueglodon, a type of primitive Eocene
whale. Notice the beast has a somewhat reptilian character, not unlike
the great saurians that preceded it during the Age of Reptiles. Its first
discoverer named it “basilosaurus”, mistakenly thinking the beast was a
holdover from the Mesozoic. Indeed, we believe it to be close kin to condylarths
such as the andrewsarchus, which natives here refer to as the tarap, and
is perhaps descended from them ”
Clive hardly cared at the moment. He only wanted to finish
the beast before it finished them.
And then the az-tarap struck! Its elongated snout plunged
into the water, sending up a shower of brine in the men’s faces. Then it
erupted from beneath the raft with the fury of a sub-sea volcano. The heave
logs of the rafts snapped like flinders. The men were hurtled headlong
into the churning waves.
As Clive was plunged beneath the water at the
mercy of giant serpent-whale, his last thoughts were those of his beloved
Things were going from bad to worse for the Jahlanna
of Nu-al. She found it difficult making friends among the Korsar’s harem
girls. They were not brutal towards as had been the women of Mulag. But
they tended to view her as a rival for the Cid’s affections. That the captain
had openly declared her as his new mate did not help things.
She did learn, however, that they had little love
for Nasheema, the captain’s former favorite. . Since she had been in the
Cid’s highest favor, the other girls made certain to stay within her favor
and not to displease her in any way. Now things had changed somewhat, now
that Jahlanna had seemed to have stolen Nasheema’s place.
It clear though, that Jahlanna, unlike Nasheema,
was more than reluctant to share the Cid’s bedchamber. She resisted his
wiles mightily, even though she was but an uncultured, half-nude savage,
which the other girls seem to think odd, as any of them would very willingly
have traded her place. It was true that she found the Cid’s bedchamber
a wonder to behold—she guessed it would be for any girl like herself who
had never before had contact with such men as these Korsars. The first
time the burly captain had come for her and led her directly to his private
cabin, Jahlanna had been amazed, and, though she was reluctant to admit
this, especially in light of her separation from Clive, pleasantly so.
The room was luxuriantly furnished, even more so than the chambers of the
harem girls that she now shared. There was a huge, soft bed in the chamber’s
center, with huge plump pillows, and covers of the finest silk, spun on
the looms of Korsar. The Cid then siezed her by the shoulders, and let
her know just what it was he wanted. The Pellucidaran tribes preferred
a bed of springy moss for their lovemaking, and Jahlanna had been uncertain
at first why she had been brought here. But she resisted fiercely once
she realized the Cid had brought her here only to mate with her. Borak
did not act violently toward her, as did Borak of Mulag, but he cast her
back among the harem nevertheless.
Most of the other girls, it seemed, were also of
the native tribes of Pellucidar. A few were of the Korsars’ own race, and
at least two were of some strange tribes Jahlanna had never seen nor heard
of. These strangers proved the friendliest members of the harem to the
Nu-al princess. The black-skinned girl with the long, pendulous tail, she
learned, was called Nawla. She belonged to a tribe of tree-dwellers, all
of whose members bore such appendages. They dwelled in the forests far
across the eastern breadth of the Korsar Az. She feared naturally, that
she would never see her native country again, but she had come to accept
life among the Korsars.
The girl with jade skin and emerald tresses was named
Lyeera. Jahlanna found this strange girl both entrancing, and a bit frightening
in her strangeness. But she possessed a soft voice, and her eyes spoke
of utter kindness. Her breast plates were of some actual kind of deep-sea
shell. And there really were stretches of translucent skin, richly veined,
webbing her fingers. Even more surprisingly, there were actual gill-slits,
like those of a shark or a ray, on either side of her slender throat. She
came from a race of beings who dwelled in a mighty coral palace beneath
Pellucidar’s oceans. They could breathe under water as well as above, though
there were scientists among her people who had built vast generators, machines
that kept their cities well supplied with air. Jahlanna was not certain
just what these “generators” were for her own experience as a princess
among the relatively primitive Nu-al had nothing to draw on for comparison.
But she wondered why Lyeera, if she had no trouble breathing beneath the
waves, did not simply leave the harem and swim back to her people.
“I might.” The sea-maiden replied, “If the
ship ever set its course toward the vicinity of my people. But it has not
for a long time. I simply could not swim the distance, not without great
risk from the predators of the ocean.”
Jahlanna felt rather foolish for asking; indeed there were azdryths,
and tandorazs, not to mention and all manner giant fish and sharks and
huge sea scorpions. The girl could not possibly make it all the way to
her undersea tribe; she was every bit as trapped as the rest of them.
Jahlanna was seated massively on the long wooden
bench in the back of the compartment reserved for the Cid’s harem. She
was combing her luxuriant hair. Jahlanna held up a mirror and admired her
lovely princess-face. It was no wonder men were so taken by her, Jahlanna
surmised; she looked even more ravishing in this mirror than ever. Very
often the princess had admired her pretty reflection in jungle pools, but
this! There were certain definite advantages, Jahlanna had to admit, that
came with being a member of the Cid’s harem. One was that the Korsar people
had certain inventions undreamed of by her own, among them utensils for
enhancing natural beauty. There were gold and ivory combs for one thing.
And mirrors! Jahlanna had never in her life seen a mirror before, but they
were marvelous. The other harem girls had shown her ways to shape and braid
her hair that she had not been familiar. Personally, she thought her hair
looked just fine the way that it was, but on the other hand, she always
wanted it to look the best that it possibly could. She spent a long time
experimenting with new ways of arranging her hair. She also tried different
styles of braiding. Some of these new styles were common among the women
of the tribes represented by the harem. Jahlanna enjoyed trying them out.
She wondered if any of the other girls of Nu-al could see her, what they
would think, and more importantly, what the boys and men would think.
She was currently admiring her hair on the bench
when Kyeera sat down on the bench alongside her.
“That style looks good on you, princess.” she said.
“Even though you are not among the Az-al. I’m certain that there are men
among my people who would appreciate you.”
Jahlanna said, “You think they would?”
“I am certain. Though I am less certain you would
appreciate our men-folk.”
“Oh? And why is that?”
“Because our men do not look comely to the eyes of
other gilaks. They are bestial in appearance, and have protruding fangs
like the sagoths of the surface.”
“Oh.” said Jahlanna. She did not think she would
care to meet Kyeera’s people.
“Still,” complimented Kyeera,”You should look fetching
enough to share the Cid’s bedchamber.”
“I told you,” said the princess, “I will never mate
“Why not? Forget about your former mate, whoever
he is. You will never see him or your homeland again. You may have been
a princess to your own people, but your life is now in Borak’s harem. Borak
is not an unpleasant man with which to mate. I have been with him more
than once, although he tends to prefer his own kind to Az-al girls. But
he clearly desires you. You might as well enjoy yourself.”
“I am flattered that he desires me.” said Jahlanna.
“But I will not have him. And he will not make me.”
Kyeera shrugged. “He will have you, princess.
Whether you desire him or not, he will. The Cid is kind to us for the most
part. But he also has a short temper with women who resist him. Do not
suppose you may resist him for very longer.”
Jahlanna remembered Blorg. The Mulag had treated her more
roughly than Borak had; in fact Borak seemed to have an honorable character
that seemed totally lacking in the brutal cave chief. Part of Jahlanna
actually half-admired the fierce Korsar chieftain. But she was still determined
to forever resist his thralls.
“Let him try to take me.” She said defiantly.
Kyeera fixed the Nu-al girl with a stern look.
“You should really be grateful, girl. The Cid has taken you under his protection.
I would be glad of that, in your position.”
“In my position?” asked Jahlanna heartily, though
current of apprehension shuddered through her at the girl’s words.
Kyeera sighed. “Perhaps I should not tell you this
Jahlanna of Nu-al, but as a friend I will. The other girls already feel
spiteful about you, because it is you Borak favors. And there is Nasheema.”
“What about her?”
“She does not like you, Jahlanna. I have seen it
in her eyes, and I am certain you have too. She is a terribly spiteful
and vengeful woman.”
“I have noticed. The other girls are afraid of her.”
Jahlanna trembled. “I have seen it.”
“Yes. But it is you who should be frightened the most.”
Just then a terrible scream sounded from the upper
The girls gazed quickly around toward the flight
of stairs leading to the upper deck. “What could it be?” Jahlanna trembled.
“I do not know.” Kyeera said. “it sounds as though
the ship may be under attack.”
Just then one of the burly shipmates rushed into
the cabins. “Git below, you perty females! There is a battle going on!”
“With who?” Kyeera asked. “I demand to know!”
“You demand nothing! It is not of women’s concern.
Get below, unless ye would risk capture!”
He usher them out of the chamber, and down a hall.
“What men are that would capture us?” Kyeera taunted. “Perhaps
we should prefer them to you!”
“Hold yer tongue, ye green-skinned lass.” The pirate
cammanded. He opened a door at the end of the hall to reveal a flight of
low stairs leading deep into the bowels of the vessel. The man roughly
pushed Kyeera on her way, causing the girl to shriek and stumble. Jahlanna
“Az-codon!” Kyeera shot up at him.
The man only laughed and shut the door.
The muted sounds of battle sounded from above deck,
dimmed now by the layers in between. The distantly heard the rough curses
of the men, the clash of steel upon steal, and the thunk! of felled bodies
smacking heavily onto the deck.
The Jahlanna and Kyeera looked around them. They
were in the basement compartment of the vessel, in a room normally reserved
for supplies—and of course where looted treasure or valuables were stored,
away from the prying of rival brigands. That was what they were of course,
as comely females—valuable commodities. They saw that the other harem
girls had been herded in here too.
“Thank the gods you are safe, Kyeera, Jahlanna!”
said Nawla, the tailed, black-skinned girl, speaking in common. “I feared
they had taken you.”
“We did not know the ship was under siege until only
a few moments ago.” said Kyeera.
“But did you not know they were coming?” Nawla said.
“The men on deck began yelling at each other about men swimming through
the water to attack the ship. At first I did not believe it.”
“Nor I said another girl,” a raven-tressed Pellucidaran
girl named Shara. “But someone is fighting with men above ! Ooh, Jahlanna,
I feared they would take you.”
“Don’t be!” Jahlanna said. “They did not take me,
though perhaps I would be better if they did.”
“Do not be sure, Jahlanna,” Shara told her. “Most men not of
our tribes are harsh and cruel unless a girl pleases him very much. But
there is little to fear from Borak, our own sire. We’ve learned he’s better
than most men. You should not wish for what you no nothing of, Jahlanna.
Be thankful that Borak is a kind and fair master.”
“I am not his mate.” Jahlanna said. She was
growing a bit tried of other females suggesting she submit to a man she
“But I only want the best for you Jahlanna.” said
“I told her the same thing.” Kyeera said. “Only she
is too stubborn to listen.
Sudden anger flared within the eyes of the
jungle princess. Jahlanna half opened her mouth for what she intended as
a stinging reply.
But before she could, a sudden voice said, “Oh, so
you care for you, do you sea-vixens? You care for this little unclothed
savage! I should like to flay the skin form you backs, and hers as well.”
The voice seemed to fill the entire chamber with
harsh music. Nasheema, Borak’s mate, came sauntering haughtily through
the ranks of girls, all of whom parted to nervously admit her passage.
She strode majestically and with pantherish ease straight up to Jahlanna
of Nu-al, to stare the jungle maid squarely in the eyes.
Her eyes were jet-black pools of hot malevolence,
which fairly spat viperfish contempt. “You are stubborn, are you not, you
little she-jalok? You’re a stubborn little pampered princess, who’s too
spoiled to know what’s good for her!”
Jahlanna trembled at first, for she had never been
confronted directly by Nasheema before now. But then she remembered that
this pantherish female was only a Korsar’s harem girl, and that she WAS
a princess. She was one by birth and not even Borak could change that.
She returned Nasheema’s haughty stare for an imperious
one of her own. Her eyes of royal blazed down at the she-pirate. “Jahlanna
does not fear your master or you! Her mate will come for her, you will
see!” In the depths of the other girl’s, she thought she saw the
fires of Nasheema’s gaze waver a bit.
But the dusky girl stepped back and snorted. “Hffmph!
Then go on pretending, little girl! Keep on resisting Borak like the spirited
young lass that you are! Soon he will grow tired of patience, and Nasheema
will know her revenge.” She angerly turned and sauntered away to the rear
of the chamber. The other girls had fallen silent, but Jahlanna saw that
a few— four of them—joined ranks with Nasheema. The pantherish girls settled
herself onto a crate in the corner. The other four girls whispered to one
another and to her, and once Nasheema gave Jahlanna a pretty though thoroughly
nasty smile with her full lips.
The jungle girl turned away, trying to concentrate
on other matters—like the one at hand. Sounds were still issuing form above,
and battle seemed to have grown worse. The clashings were fiercer, and
least some of the fighting seemed to have spilled over into some of the
The other girls were gazing upward as well,
the fighting on all of their minds—even Nasheema’s.
The commotion above on the upper deck that had occurred
a few moments before, which Jahlanna and the other harem girls did not
see, had started when one of the crew members had sighted what appeared
to be a pod of strange sea-creatures not more than a half-league form the
ship. What the strange beasts were he could not at first guess. They were
leaping through the tossing whitecaps in same manner as a pod of dolphins
or ichthyosaurs, but these did not appear to be either.
As the man observed them, the creatures changed course,
and began leaping toward the ship. He saw now that they were a group of
man-shaped creatures—and were apparently aiming to attack the ship.
The man sounded the alarm, and the captain’s men
raced upon the deck. Borak was there, brandishing a huge, scimitar-like
cutlass of burnished steel. His narrow eyes squinted, as he surveyed the
“What manner of men are those?” asked the man who
had sounded the alarm.
“No men.” Growled the captain, a fierce light showing
his eyes. “They are Az-al—the girl Kyeera’s people. They doubtless know
we have her. I thought I had I know them well—and so do some of you. For
those who don’t, prepare for a battle royal.”
The first of the creatures clambered over the
Unlike Kyeera herself, the thing now facing
the massed Korsars was anything but lovely. Its skin was a light aqua-green,
as was that of the girl. But there the resemblance betwixt her and them
ended. The thing was entirely hairless, save for the coarse bristles on
either of its cheeks, not unlike that of a sea lion or walrus. It had loose,
flabby and sagging jowls, and two tusk-like incisors jutted beneath the
upper jaw. These reminded some of the men of the fangs of a tarag, but
they most closely resembled a short pair of walrus tusks. Their eyes were
goggling and a vivid oceanic blue. They resembled those of nothing else
precisely, those eyes, though they possibly resembled those of a fish or
a saurian a bit more than those of an aquatic mammal. A single high,
spiky fin crested the thing’s head, furthering the resemblance to the order
of reptilian. Its long and nearly apish arms were sleekly muscular, terminating
in large grasping hands equipped with fearsome, black talon-like claws.
And in one hand it clutched a long shaft of some strange coppery metal.
The spear was forked, in the manner of a Neptunian trident, but sported
only two fearsomely barbed tines, rather than three. The beast-thing, dribbling
water slimily onto the deck, glowered at the men, the fishy gill-slits
in its fatty neck contracting.
Then came the sounds of the creature’s fellows noisily
clambering at the rail. The amphibious beings began pouring over the rail.
With shrill hisses they fell upon the stunned crewmen.
The battle ensued. With savage cries, the Korsars
hacked and slashed at their amphibious foes, spilling their brimey blood
to soak the deck in rich crimson. The Az-al, though, were veteran fighters,
and knew well the tactics of those who had evolved on land. Not a few of
Borak’s Korsars ended up skewered like fish themselves on the Az-al spears.
Neither were the Az-al above slashing with their own natural weapons, while
stabbing with their spears, their hooked and wicked talons ripping out
a Korsar throat hear, and slashing a carotid there. The men continued to
hack and slay, though the fishy smell of their foe’s breath nauseated them.
The floor of the deck soon ran with the vile mixture of the blood of man
and monster. Causalities of both sides soon flopped on the floor while
the battle continued to rage. A few tumbled to the lower decks.
Soon the Korsars grew battle weary. Borak himself,
scarred from many a land and sea battle, killed many of the things, whirling
his mighty cutlass in and shimmer arch of death. Left and right the magnificent
Korsar slashed many a Az-al throat, and sliced open more than one fatty
belly, spilling the guts of his Az-al foe’s onto the deck. But the Az-al
force kept on coming. More of the man-things were leaping through he waters
toward the Korsar vessel, a huge pod of perhaps hundred strong members.
“Fall back!” the captain ordered at last. “They have
us outnumbered! I know what these thing’s want and she is expendable. They
care nothing for treasure or wealth. It is only one the girls these things
seek. Were it the girl Jahlanna, perhaps I would fight these things to
the death. But it is not her whom these sub-men seek.”
The men backed up under Borak’s stern command. The
reminder of the Az-al now clambering over the side glowered at the captain
and his men. The first of the Az-als, who was still standing, and appeared
to be their leader glared at the Korsar chieftain. The two seemed to exchange
some mutual understanding. The Az-al leader then motioned to his followers.
They filed after him down the stairs of the vessel into the compartments
of the lower decks. Soon, horrified shrieks, belonging to feminine voices
wafted up from the chambers below. Soon the Meran returned with their prize,
the girl Kyeera. She was clearly not their prisoner. With a toss of her
emerald tresses, Kyeera threw the glowering captain one look of haughty
disdain before leaping over the side of the Korsar vessel to join her people.
During the next “sleep” during the voyage,
Jahlanna of Nu-al lay on the soft heap of furs the Korsar captain had lain
out for her. Even in her sleep she could feel the mighty toss and heave
of the boat upon the rolling waters. Kyeera, she knew was gone, and without
her, she felt all the more alone. Her mate Clive, she realized must be
somewhere out there searching for her at this very moment. Quite possibly
her had found the Korsars’ trail, but how would he ever be able to find
Suddenly, she felt slim, hard fingers clamp
over her mouth. Jahlanna’s eyes grew wide and she struggled to scream,
them to kick and flail. But slim yet steely strong arms held her. The girl
felt herself yanked up, and dragged to the floor. She had thought she had
heard the squeak of her cabin door swinging open, but she had taken it
for a half-imagined figment of her dreams.
“Not so proud now, are you little jungle girl?”
It was Nasheema’s voice, hot with viperish anger.
Jahlanna managed another muffled shrieked, and kicked
out all the more fiercely. But Nasheema was strong for a woman, and the
girl was as much her prisoner as though she had been in the grasp of one
of the male brigands. She kicked and fought, but still she was held fast,
as the Korsar woman was a veteran in subduing “lesser” members of her sex.
Nasheema laughed haughtily. “Try to calm down,
my dear young savage. There is no one to help you now.”
Jahlanna continued, futilely to resist, but Nasheema
dragged the struggling, crying Nu-al girl from her cabin and down the dimly-lighted
hall. They entered another cabin, the main chamber for Borak’s harem. All
the girls appeared to be here—or at least most of them. Jahlanna
looked around to find Nawla the tailed female, but saw no sign of her.
The girls in the room all had smiles of cruel triumph on their faces as
Nasheema dragged her fiercely resisting captive through the door. Jahlanna
felt all the eyes bore into her, felt the cruel mirth on their lips. She
knew then that these member’s of Borak’s harem all despised her as a rival,
or at least were too intimidated of Nasheema to intervene on her behalf.
She more than half-suspected that many of then despised Nasheema at least
as much, but were terrified to so much as raise a finger to her. Somehow,
she realized, her friendship with Kyeera had protected her, that the Korsar
girl was afraid to defy the Az-al, and thus left them both unmolested.
But now that Kyeera was gone….
Nasheema flung the princess to the rough wood floor.
Jahlanna choked back a sob. More of their femininely cruel laughter stung
her ears. She struggled to her feet. If she could make it through the cabin
door, perhaps she could find Borak or one of the men to protect her. She
nearly regretted not agreeing to mate with the captain—she would be sleeping
safely in his chamber if she had. But she saw one of the girls slide the
bolt into place.
Inwardly, the princess found herself hating them
all more than ever. Even those who were nice to her, such as Nawla, had
not bothered to show up in her defense. All these girls wanted to be on
Nasheema’s good side, as it was now more obvious than ever that the Korsar
girl wielded considerable clout among them. But could she really blame
them, if they wished to avoid being in her place, sometime in the future?
Nasheema’s mocking laughter again filled Jahlanna’s ears.
She whirled around, both fear and indignation showing in her eyes.
“So, “princess”, the Koarsar woman sneered, black
fire spitting from her pantherish gaze. “Now that your little green-skinned
friend isn’t here to protect you anymore, we’ll see how comely Borak will
find you after you have endured Nasheema’s wrath!”
“Don’t touch me!” Jahlanna shrieked.
Nasheema chortled purringly. “Or what? You’re not
a princess anymore, my sweet. Not here, you aren’t!”
“My men will come and kill you if you so much
as lay a finger on me!”
“Your men are far away! They do not know you
are here. They will never know what became of you.” A girl on Nasheema’s
left handed her a whip of az-dyryth hide.
Jahlanna felt cold terror well up inside her but
tired not to show it. “Borak! He will punish you if you harm me! He told
you he would!”
“Perhaps.” purred Nasheema. “But you would not have
him, remember? Already my master grows tired of you. It is true he has
not given you over to my wiles as of yet. But the captain is a fickle man.
He appreciates your beauty now, little savage, but he will soon forget
about you once you are less desirable to him. You think he will punish
Nasheema for damaging his prize, but you do not know him. Nasheema will
be his only desire once you are out of the way, and his punishment of me,
whatever it is, shall be slight.”
Nasheema cracked her whip for emphasis. Jahlanna shrieked,
her icy skin crawling horribly.
“First, “princess”! said Nasheema. “I suppose you
think all men will adore you just because you have a pretty face and an
overlarge behind? Let’s see it we can take some skin off that royal rump
Ordinarily, Jahalanna would have smugly replied
that yes, men did adore her for those things, but she realized she was
in no position to. She stifled a scream, terror choking her throat.
Nasheema nodded. Two of the harem girls seized Jahlanna
by her wrists.
“Secure her!” the Korsar vixen cried.
Jahlanna felt herself being bound to a beam with rope cords.
Nasheema sneered at the naked princess, flexing the supple coils of
her whip. The other girls in the chamber had fallen silent. All were watching
grimly their pack leader, as she prepared to deal “justice”, to her helpless
victim. She drew it back, meaningfully. “Now, my sweet –taste the
lash of Nasheema’s wrath.”
Nasheema meant to deliver a lashing stroke of fury across
the rump of her rival, certain she could not miss so prominent a target.
Jahlanna squeezed her eyes shut . She felt the tight skin of her massive
buttocks tense in anticipatory dread.
But the blow never fell.
Nasheema felt her wrist locked in a sudden and fiercely
steely grip. Her former cheerleaders gasped in unison.
“Oooooh!” cried Nashseema, her voice turned abruptly
hot with feminine indignation. “Who dares?”
“I do” said a voice. It was not that of Borak, but the
Korsar girl recognized it immediately. The other girls were now murmuring
and backing out of the way.
Nasheema glared angrily up into the simian face
of Mogor, Borak’s second in command.
“Release me, beast-man! Or I shall tell Borak you
laid your hairy paws upon his beloved?”
“His beloved?” the sagoth’s guttural voice was now one
of mocking amusement. “I believe it was Nasheema who was seeking to damage
to the beloved of our captain.”
The dusky-skinned girl fairly seethed with rage.
“Ooooh! You filthy ape-thing! Release Nasheema, or I’ll tell Borak you
tried to force yourself upon her.”
“I think not, Nasheema.” replied Mogor calmly. The
captian knows what a curling tongue his former mistress has. Lay down your
whip, and leave this girl alone.”
Nasheema did so, and the sagoth tossed it away. Mogor
relaxed his grip on her, and she tore herself fiercely away. “Why?” she
demanded. “Why does Borak’s second in command stand up for a stuck-up little
hussy like her? Does he truly care for her? Or is he merely following his
This last was spoken with open mockery, but
the sagoth regarded the girl with wry amusement. “I am rescuing her because
the girl is no longer the captain’s she.”
“What?” Nasheema gasped. “You mean he has already
cast her off?”
“No. I mean, that I have chosen her as a mate. The
girl and I are stealing one of the boats, and will be far away before the
waking period. And neither you nor the captain will interfere.” He began
untying the captive princess.
Nasheema was about to reply that he would risk
being killed if he ever desired the captain’s mate of choice, but then
she said, the fury in her voice having at last died away, “Oh…alright then,
Mogor. If that is what you want. Do not let Nasheema stop you. I am certain
you and girl will be very happy together. She is a princess after all.”
“No!” Jahlanna shrieked, as the burly beast
man hefted her casually across his shoulder.
He strode to the door, and down the hall, toward
the staircase, bearing his writhing, struggling captive with him. In her
ears, Jahlanna heard the Korsar girl’s mocking voice, and giggling of her
massed cohorts. “Farewell, “princess” Nasheema bids you a long and fruitful
life with your “lover”! Her laughter was loud and haughty as it followed
Jahlanna and her captor up the flight of stairs and out upon the deck.
Jahlanna had been at first grateful for Morgor’s intervention, but as relieved
as she was to have been spared the female Korsar’s fury, she dreaded the
attentions of the gorilla-man just as much.
There was a bright and nearly cloudless “sky.”
The mighty vista of the inner earth was very clear, making it nearly possible
to discern the continents upon the opposite side of Pellucidar. The dark
forms of thipdars and other pterosaurs wheeled distantly above the elevated
mountain ranges that marched upward into the distance.
Mogor undid one of the wooden row boats. He bound together
his captive’s wrists, then heaved her into the boat. He then clambered
in himself, and lowered then to the water. Jahlanna thought about crying
out, to alert the captain or crew, but then considered that this would
only mean renewed captivity with Borak. And then that meant that she could
only succumb to the captain’s wiles, or fact the wrath of Nasheema. As
much she feared and loathed the gorilla-man, at least there was some possibility
of escape if she remained his captive; he would undoubtedly take them to
shore somewhere, and she would have a chance to work loose her bonds and
to slip away during the next sleep period.
Mogor settled his captive, her slim arms bound
fast behind her back, down onto one of the planks. The gorilla man seized
the oars and began rowing away from the ship. Jahlanna, facing the sagoth
where she was massively seated. Her pretty face glared at him. Fire fairly
spat from the princess’s almond-shaped eyes.
“Do not struggle, my lovely,” said the beast-man
to the girl. “I know you are planning to escape. But you shall not escape
“Nor shall Jahlanna mate with you.”
Mogor laughed, a deep guttural sound. “You did an
admirable job of resisting Mogor’s captain, girl. But you will find Mogor
far less tolerant of spirited females such as yourself. If you willfully
displease him, you will find him a rough and harsh master. But you need
not fear me, girl—that is your choice. Perhaps you have no likeing for
my kind, but Mogor can make you learn to appreciate him far more than the
weakling gilak males you are used to. Please Mogor, and you will find him
both generous and caring.”
Jahlanna could not suppress a shudder of open
revulsion at the mere thought of the sagoth’s course and hairy arms fondling
her soft flesh. But perhaps it would be beast to humor him until a time
to escape presented itself.
“Jahlaana thanks Mogor for saving her,” she
said. “From the zorag, and again from Nasheema. But I am curious. How is
it that a sagoth would take interest in a human girl? Does Mogor not desire
a mate among his own shes?”
“Perhaps Mogor would have.” the brute replied.
“Had he grown up among his own. But Mogor’s tribe was slaughtered by another
tribe of sagoths. Mogor was taken along with the other young males of his
tribe, to be bartered as slaves. I was traded to the Korsars in exchange
of gems and spices not found in our region. Borak bought be, and rasied
me as his own son. He taught me the ways of the sea, and made me his second-in-command
when I came of age. I lived with him before then in the city of the Korsar,
many leagues from here. In all that time, I grew to appreciate the females
of the gilak race. I lived among the gilak, and was tutored in all their
ways. And even their women. But never before has Mogor desired a woman
among the gilak such as yourself. We will flee into the jungles far from
here, and Borak and his men will never find us. In time you will appreciate
me, girl. I do not know if females of the gilak race and males of my own
can produce offspring, but if so, we will the founders of a new race, you
and I. You will bear Mogor many strong warrior-sons, and we will sire a
Jahlanna was starting to feel nauseated
when a something enormous exploded out of the water to the right of the
The girl and her captive gasped as a sleek
and impossibly long neck rocketed up to tower over them. An elongated,
reptilian muzzle gaped to reveal rows of wickedly barbed teeth, and a writhing,
snakelike tongue. The thing released a deafeningly hissing shriek. Jahlanna
recognized the beast instantly as a tandor-az, or sea-mammoth, one of the
most dreaded of all the predators of Pellucidar’s oceanic realms. Often
she had heard the beast described in shuddersome detail in her tribes tales
and legends. But the girl herlself had glimpsed the sea only in the hazy
distance, and never seen a living creature until this moment. A surface
scientist would have catalogued the beast as an elasmosaurus, the largest
known species of plesiosaur, a family of marine saurians possessing extravagantly
long, serpentine necks.
The girl’s scream drew the attention of sea-beast.
Jaws gaping wide, the tandor-az lunged down upon her. Jahalanna screamed
Mogor was upon the beast in a shining black flash.
Gripping the heavy ax at his side, the gorilla-man brought in down in one
furious stroke into the plesiosaur’s neck. The monster shrieked deafeningly,
clashing reptilian fangs inches from the terrified girl. Its distended
jaws spraying the girl in a fine coat of saliva, its cry drowning out her
own. Slimy, reptilian blood deluged the boat.
But the monster, far from dead and enraged at the
puny mammal that so dared towound it, reared fantastically into the
sky again, carrying the sagoth with it, while Jahlaana looked on with mute
stunned horror. Her arms still tied, the jungle maid could do nothing but
watch helplessly, as her bestial defender, now her only hope for her survival
much as she detested him, was flung with way and that by the monster’s
Mogor, his burly arms and legs fastened about the
monster’s gleaming neck, was plunged beneath the waves before her horrified
gaze. Then the beast heaved up into the misty sky once more. It brought
its wedge-shaped head down again, with terrific force—straight toward the
The craft splintered with a mighty explosion, and
Jahlanna was flung wide. She felt herself plunged beneath the waves, the
air forced from her lungs.
Jahlanna twisted and struggled, in a blind
attempt to free herself. But Mogor had secured her well, and even her savage,
youthful strength was not enough. She felt herself sinking, as water filled
her lungs, her world growing green and black. Mogor was doubtless dead
by now, slain by the tandor-az. And even if had managed to survive he was
surely passed helping her.
Even so, Jahlanna was startled to fell strong, agile
hand grip her, bear her up. But she knew instantly that it was not Mogor.
She felt the hands grip her shoulders, spin her around to their owner’s
face. That face was Lyeera’s……
When Clive was plunged underwater,
he assumed he and his companions would be easy pickings for the az-tarap.
But as his head broke the surface, he saw four sleek, terrible shapes gliding
through the water. Their dorsal fins cut the surface in the manner of a
shark, but while many shark species abounded within these seas at the earth’s
core alongside the great marine reptiles, Clive knew almost instantly that
these were not amongst them. These were another variety of saurian, and
from their general outline beneath the waves, the surface man thought that
he recognized them from books on paleontology. Professor Simmons would
doubtless have identified them as a species of ichthyosaur, the great fish-lizards
of the prehistoric deep. The Pellucidarans knew them as az-dyryths, or
sea-sloths, regarding them as the marine counterpart of the dyryth the
herbivorous but ill-tempered megatherium or giant sloth. But the az-dyryths
were no placid herbivores, as were their land counterparts but among the
most frightful and aggressive or Pellucidar’s maritime denizens. Over thirty-feet
long, nearly half of that enormous, beaklike jaws packed with bristling
fangs, the az-dyryth was predator to be dreaded. The beasts, he had heard
would not hesitate to attack a small solitary craft such as their own.
But at moment, the az-dyryths had arrived on
the scene at a most fortunate timing. They showed no interest in the puny
human morsels, and seemed intent on attacking the az-tarap. That beast
was even more monstrous than they, and of fantastic length. But the az-dyryths,
each one formidable enough on its own, had the serpent-whale outnumbered
four to one. They swam to the attack, converging on the az-tarap on all
sides. The prehistoric cetacean reared back its toothsome maw and hissed
a thunderous challenge.
The jaws of the surrounding reptiles gaped in unison.
But rather then attacking the beast, each ichthyosaur disgorged a squadron
of smaller sea-creatures from its jaws!
Clive and his companions, now dog-paddling
on the surface, their gaze in the direction of the scene, gaped with astonishment.
The creatures swarmed up over the serpentine body of the az-tarap. Clive
saw now that they were man-like and man-sized creatures, apparently some
kind of sentient race native to Pellucidar’s seas. Man-like the beings
were in general shape, they sported long ape-like arms, and high-crested
dorsal fins. Clive thought he remembered actually seeing one of them before
as a captive in the Mahar city of Zhuma. Only here the creatures were with
their own tribe. Each one bore as a weapon a long metallic shaft terminating
in a double-fork. With military-like efficiency, they surrounded their
foe, stabbing him repeatedly with their weapons. The beast bellowed in
agony, then sank into the blood-frothed waves. The trained ichthyosaurs
fell upon the mortally wounded az-tarap in a savage feeding frenzy. They
began tearing the serpent whale to blood shreds, u till the waves became
a bloody welter of deep crimson.
Then their masters fell upon the humans and Baraboo.
Clive found himself seized in the surprisingly powerful
arms of the creature, whose strength he guessed might well have equaled
that of a sagoth. It secured something squarely over his mouth with a webbed
and slimy paw. Clive was plunged under the waves in his captor’s grasp.
It was with a shock that the man realized he could
actually breathe underwater!
It must be whatever his captor had placed over his
mouth, for a frothy stream of bubbles was rising form it. Clive then saw
his companions, Tarok, Simmons and Jal-mar, each one in the grip of these
strange, aquatic beings. He guessed that perhaps they should not bother
struggling; they were over a mile from land, their boat destroyed. These
beings were within their own element, so it seemed futile to resist. They
had might as well discover in time where their captors were taking them.
Clive and other aquatic beings bearing his friends swam
in the direction of one of the az-dyryhs. The reptiles had by now finished
off the az-tarap’s carcass, leaving the beasts’ remains to the scavengers.
The apparent leader of the beings lifted a curious whistle-like object
to his blubbery lips, and blew. There must have been some sound from it,
even beneath the water, though apparently out of range of human hearing.
For the great az-dyryth turned in their direction. The beast swam up to
greet them, them its mighty beaked jaws swung wide.
Clive and his companions were borne within.
The mammoth jaws closed. Blackness closed over them.
The briny water rushed out was through a mighty sieve, leaving them marooned
in a snug, dark, fleshly cavern. Clive felt a pulpy though solid enough
“ground” beneath his feet. He felt his it squirmed slightly—perhaps the
az-dyrtyh’s tongue, by its cold, wet slickness. An eerie, blue-green
light illumed their surroundings.
Clive and his comrades gazed about in wonder. The
walls of their new prison were red and wet—the hollow of the beast’s throat.
The light issued from the tip of the rods the creatures
held up. Two of the strange beings were conversing in would seemed to be
their own tongue.
“Who are you?” Clive asked in native Pellucidaran.
“We are the Az-al.” Answered one of the creatures,
in that tongue. “You gilaks are now our prisoners. You will be taken to
“I do not understand. Why are we your prisoners?”
“Take you will find out soon enough, outlander.”
the creature said. “When you meet with our king.”