The Korsars overwhelmed Clive and his companions.
Noting Mogor’s absence, Clive cursed under his breath. Undoubtedly, the
burly gorilla-man had gone off in pursuit of Jahlanna. Clive strained against
his bonds, as fury built within him. It shocked him a bit that Jahlanna
had so suddenly declared that she hated him, merely because she suspected
that Valkara had affection for him. But he still loved her with all his
heart, and he would have done all within his power to rescue her. But once
again he was captured, and it could hardly do Jahlanna any good were he
to reveal that a girl was recently a member of this party. He hoped fervently
none had gotten a glimpse of her from their ship. If so, they would doubtless
comb the nearby forest for her.
This did not happen however, as they
were wrested aboard the boat, and no effort was made to search for others.
The boat rowed to the side of the fantastic galley. To Clive and Simmons,
the ship might have belonged to the pages of history—a magnificent antique
galley with billowing white sails, the mast emblazoned with the scarlet
dragon symbol, of the Korsars. How descendants of surface world Spanish
pirates came to be here within Pellucidar he couldn't begin to guess. Tarok
had spoken fearfully of the Korsars, and Simmons had known of their existence
from the works of the surface man called Burroughs. But he had been uncertain
he believed in their existence until now.
They were brought before
the Cid himself in short order. There were now merely three of them, their
original number. Tarok, that brave and stalwart warrior of Nu-al, and the
liberated slave-girl Valkara, were surely dead—and this horrid fact weighed
heavily on Clive’s heart. His spirits were somewhat maintained that his
mate Jahlanna yet lived, but it filled him with rage that Mogor was certainly
in pursuit of her—and until he escaped there was nothing he or his friends
The Cid turned out to be a huge
and burly man with a swarthy complexion, and a great bristling mustache
and beard, both of blue-black color. A clawed avian or reptile-bird rode
upon the magnificent man’s burly shoulder, and hissed and squawked raucously
as the guards brought them to the fore.
Clive merely chuckled with wry amusement,
for the bird struck him as a bizarre inner-earth substitute for pirate’s
“We found them on yonder
beach, possibly washed up upon the shore, my liege,” a guard said.
“What have we here?” the
Cid asked. “A strong warrior with red-hair, and elder man, and—“
Borak stopped as his gaze included
Jal-mar, the Barraboo. Apparently he not encountered a member of this particular
“—a furred monkey man with a tail? I have
heard of such beings, though I thought your race black-skinned and hairless.”
“Then you have not met my people.”
Jal-mar commented. “We live on a plateau, where no gilak or other race
can reach us. Those gilaks who do encounter us are made slaves.”
“Then why do you travel with two such
“They are not slaves. They are
friends. Together, they and I liberated the gilak slaves of my people.”
The Cid laughed. “I will ask no more
questions of that. But you will learn that here you will be the slave—as
will your two hairless companions.”
‘What do you intend to do with
us?” Clive demanded. “We are merely travelers who have lost our way. We
are searching for a land called Sari—“
“Sari!” Borak exclaimed. “That
is news indeed. My people are at war with that land. What do you know of
“Like your ancestors,” said Alistair
Simmons. “Clive and myself come from the world beyond Pellucidar, the same
as the emperor of Sari. We are attempting to—“
“Silence, old man!” roared the
Cid. “Clive? That is his name?”
Clive nodded. It was obvious
something about his name made the man furious, though he had no idea at
first what it was.
Borak’s eyes narrowed as
he examined the pale-skinned, red-haired man. He then looked at the guard
to his right. This was an oily-looked rat-faced fellow. “Does not that
name sound a bit familiar?”
The guard looked puzzled at first.
"It sounds a strange name to me."
“So it does. But is it not the
name of the warrior that the girl Jahlanna claimed was her mate who would
come to punish us?”
Rat-face--as Clive had already
mentally dubbed the man—was chortling approvingly. “Oh—you men the slim,
pretty girl with the large hips--who was borne off by Mogor, your traitorous
“Silence!” roared Borak.
Rat-face shut up.
The Cid glared back at
Clive, who returned him with a stony gaze. “Do you know of this girl who
calls herself princess Jahlanna.”
“Yes, she is
“Do you have
any idea of her whereabouts?”
“I had an understanding
that she was captured by you and your Korsars.” Clive said.
“She was among
us.” Borak admitted. “She was to become my mate. But Mogor, my first mate,
a sagoth that I had the error of making my adopted son, stole her from
me, and made for shore. If you will agree to help me and my men track her
them down, I will spare your companions a terrible death.”
“I will do you no such thing,” Clive
“Very well,” answered Borak. “Take them away.”
Clive, Simmons and Jal-mar were
chained below deck. They were borne to the city of the Korsar. From thence,
they were marched through the streets of the teeming city to the Cid’s
palace, where they were imprisoned beneath in the dungeons.
Life there was, as all
three of them came to appreciate, unpleasant to say the least. Not the
least lovely aspect of this was the fact that the dungeon in which they
were imprisoned turned out to be infested with unwholesomely large vermin
which appeared to be an unlovely mixture of rat and lizard.
Professor Simmons identified them as
oligokyphus, a type of mammal-like reptile of the early Jurassic, but the
name by which the Pellucidarans knew them, as they were to find out later,
was slurrals. They were foul-smelling little beasts, over two feet long,
with scaly, green-gray skin, and sparse hair. They had semi-reptilian jaws
lined with strong teeth, and long rat-like tails.
Every few intervals the rat-faced little
guard came to bring them soggy, repulsive gruel. None of them cared to
guess the contents. Rat-face warned them repeatedly to agree to assist
the Cid in his pursuit and capture of the fugitive princess, or they would
stop feeding them.
Clive actually considered this in secret.
Though he hardly wanted to divulge his mates where abouts to the Cid, he
nonetheless feared mightily for her safety wherever she might be. The mere
thought of Jahlanana in the hands of the brutal Mogor gave him nightmares.
If a large party of Korsars were to assist them, they might stand a chance
of finding the girl, and punishing Mogor. But what could he do then, were
she to fall into Borak’s hands?
Rat-face informed them they were to be ushered to the city arena.
“What does he want us there for?” Clive
asked, thinking they were to be asked to fight for the Cid’s amusement.
“Merely to witness some entertainment.”
said the guard. “After all, are you not our special guests?”
Clive said nothing as he and his companions
were led through the streets of the ancient city to a small, deep arena.
The Cid himself was there, his position in huge ornate box. Borak was surrounded
by his servants, and harem girls, all prepared to enjoy the “entertainment.”
The three captives were given seats along side him. Rat-face sat down on
Borak’s other side, and grinned maliciously at them.
“What have you brought
us here for?” Clive inquired.
“Ah—you shall soon see.
I think you shall find this enlightening. I thought you should know what
should befall you, should you continue to withhold information of the girl’s
“I already told you -- I do not
know where she is. Though from what I’ve been told, she is doubtless Mogor’s
captive.” This last, Clive feared, was literally true. “Believe me, I should
like nothing better to win her back, but I do nothing to assist you her
The Cid grinned nastily.
“I think this spectacle will change your minds.”
A small door on the side
of the arena opposite from the Cid’s box opened, and a prisoner stepped
out. It was the figure of a young woman, Clive saw somewhat to his surprise.
Her head was covered with a veil and a shawl and her slim arms were bound
behind her back.
The rest of her, he noted,
was very nearly naked.
Clive could not help but notice
that she was a magnificent and well-formed girl, with thick shapely thighs,
and wide and sturdy hips, though these were not of course as accentuated
as those of Jahlanna of Nu-al. She was nonetheless voluptuous, this girl.
Her most eye-capturing feature, though were her two magnificent breasts.
Like heavy and pendulous fruits they were, capped with small dark-hued
nipples. The girl’s skin was swarthy and exotic, like those of the men-folk
of Korsar, and Clive guessed her to be one of their own women. What then,
was she doing in the arena, there to meet some ghastly and terrible
He looked questioningly at Borak, who
“The girl’s name is Nasheema.
She was a former favorite of mine. But she has recently scorned me repeatedly,
as my affections are now reserved firstly for the girl you call your mate.
For that, her death shall be terrible indeed, as you would do well to note.”
Clive was horrified. So it was this
unfortunate girl’s jealously for the girl he cherished and loved, that
had ended her here, in this arena!
Still, the girl appeared
to making a brave enough show of it. Though her head and face remained
covered, she held her chin up defiantly, and stood ready to receive whatever
the Cid had in store.
The door on the other
side of the arena drew up. And out onto the sands crept a terrible beast
from time's dawn!
It was a zorag, one of the great
carnivorous beasts such as they had encountered shortly following the abduction
of Jahlanna by Mogor, which Simmons identified as a probable ancestor of
the whale. It was a gigantic, otter-like beast with a sleek coat of seal-like
fur, and a massive, crocodile-like muzzle.
The zorag proclaimed his entrance into
the harsh sunlight with a loud croaking bellow. Then the beast caught notice
of the helpless female in its path. Roaring, it scuttled like a monstrous
lizard, at speed which belied its great size, toward the condemned prisoner.
At that precise moment, Clive
was galvanized into action. He did not know nor care who the defenseless
girl was; only that she was utterly without means to fend off the predator.
In a flash, the surface-man seized the spear carried by the little rat-faced
man, and leapt down into the arena before the other had time to react.
He landed, catlike, upon the blistering
white-gold arena sands. Before entering this savage world at the earth’s
core, Clive Neville had not been of a particularly heroic physic, though
his previous adventures in the far corners of the world had left him no
weakling. Even then, though he would have likely have attempted something
close to the course of action he was now taking if it meant securing a
helpless female from harm—and if he had been up against such as a zorag,
he almost certainly would have perished. But life heretofore in Pellucidar
had found him as seasoned as most of the inner world’s native warriors.
He scarcely had time to note that Jal-mar,
too, had landed upon the sand beside him, having wrested a spear from the
other astonished guard.
Spear in hand, the surface man
charged the onrushing monster. The zorag was hideously swift. Jaws agape
to seize and rend, the proto-cetacean had almost reached the girl, who
stood still, her head still covered. Though she could thankfully not witness
the terrible doom rushing upon her, the girl had doubtless heard the mighty
roar of the animal. That she did not scream was a mute testament to her
Clive’s spear caught the zorag in the
section where its throat joined with its body. He jammed the haft of the
weapon into the thick fatty tissue in hopes of penetrating the creature’s
This managed merely to enrage the monster,
as it began thrashing about. The beast flung itself to one side, throwing
Clive off balance. The man lay on his back in the dust, the wind knocked
forcibly out of him, the shaft of his spear still protruding from the neck
of the beast, in front of the right shoulder blade.
A new prize, and one which had
dared to wound it, was now presented to the animal. The zorag turned its
gaping jaws upon Clive Neville.
The girl, meanwhile, had recovered
near enough to hear the zorag bellow in agony and realize something had
gone amiss with her intended execution. Clive turned his red-maned head
to see that she had torn off her veil, and was now gaping in horror at
his peril, rather than her own. He could see that she was well-above average
in comeliness, with high-cheekbones, and exotic slanted almond eyes of
a dusky green hue which complimented the swarthy tint of her skin. Her
face was not as enchanting as that of his beloved Jahlanna, but still….
At that self-same instant, Jal-mar
was hurtling toward the roaring monster, all the while uttering a marrow-freezing
shriek that caused a chill to settle over the massed audience. The Baraboo
acted with the cat-like quickness of his kind. In a flash, he had positioned
himself between Clive and the monster, spear point ready.
Carried by its own headlong inertia,
the zorag screamed it death-agonies. Jal-mar’s weapon tore clean thought
the upper jaw of the proto-whale penetrating its primitive brain. Already
slain, the head of the monster crashed down onto the fur-pelted warrior,
pinning him beneath. The great, elongated body of the proto-whale thrashed
and writhed, as though possessed of a near-reptilian vitality, though clearly
the beast had fur and was a mammal.
Above them, among the tiers of
the arena, the crowd was cheering thunderously causing their ears to smart.
Apparently the unexpected outcome of the entertainment had found favor
Dazed for a second, Clive gained his
feet, and pulled the Baraboo clear.
“My thanks, friend Clive,” he said.
“Don’t mention it,” said Clive. “If
you hadn’t been there, he would have had me.”
They turned to address the girl. Clive
gaped. She was indeed an exotic raven-haired beauty, and of alluring proportions.
“Leave her,” Friend Clive, he heard
Jal-mar say. “I leapt into the arena to save your life, not hers. She is
one of the women of this strange tribe to whom you and I are prisoners.
Therefore, she is an enemy. I would have allowed the zorag to eat her.”
“But the Cid, our captor, wanted
“Then that is his business, my friend.
Ours is to save ourselves. We may now end up as food for more such beasts.”
But Clive addressed the girl. She was
still gaping at him, seemingly out of fear and incredulity at his and Jal-mar’s
feat, though she somehow appeared the haughty, imperious type. “Are you
all right, Miss?”
“W-why did you save me?” she
asked. “To defy Borak is certain death!”
“Maybe. But we are already his
prisoners, and he may well kill us anyway. I could not just let you die
now, could I?”
Her eyes grew then into hateful,
catlike slits. “Then, red-haired warrior you are a fool. You would have
done well to listen to your ape-like friend! You should have let the zorag
have me. I shall be killed anyway, for I no longer wish to please the Cid.
You have given your life for nothing.”
Clive was about to retort to the girl’s
sneering reply, when his found his arms roughly seized. Two guards had
been summed at Borak’s command, and had leapt down into the arena. They
now had Clive’s and Jal-mar’s arms pinned behind their backs.
But the sound of hoarse, rough laughter
caused Clive to glance up at the spectator’s box. To his astonishment,
Borak was not glaring at them in fury, as he would have supposed, but was
laughing uproariously. What it was about the incident that had struck the
man as funny, he did not know. Soon he and his companions were once more
dragged thither and locked within their cells.
They remained there, until some
indeterminate time later, during their sleep period, they were awakened
by a rapping at the cell door. Thinking it was the guard, Clive got to
his feet and looked out.
He was surprised to see the beautiful,
dusky face of Nasheema starring in at him.
“Psst! Come here!” the girl whispered
Clive approached the door. “Why
are you here?”
“Because of you and the monkey-man, Cid has
decided to spare my life. That means I twice owe it to both of you. But
especially you—for you are brave and handsome, unlike him. What is your
name my warrior, and from what tribe do you hail?”
“My name is Clive Neville. This
is Alistair Simmons” he indicated the aged professor. “The furred warrior
is named Jal-mar, and I would thank him. It was he, not myself, who slew
the zorag and saved your life.”
“True.” She murmured. “But if not for
you, the beast would have killed me, as even Jal-mar was content to let
Clive said nothing for she was correct
in this much, at least.
“I hate the Cid. I was once his
favorite harem girl. But he has become obsessed with certain savage girl
who has managed to escape him—a stuck-up, spoiled hussy, all thighs and
hips and a pouty little face! Even now, the man thinks only of her! The
last time he reminded me of him I spit in his face, and he struck me! Then
I cursed him, and all who would spring form his loins. It was then he decided
he had tired of me, and had me fed to beasts in the arena! But for you,
my handsome stranger of an unknown tribe, Nasheema should be dead! Promise
you will stay with her, and allow her to please you, and I will lead you
Clive did not entirely trust this cunning
vixen of a girl. By her own admission she was jealous, spiteful, and capable
of treachery. And though she might be attractive, he had no desired to
betray Jahlanna. Still, if they remained here their chances of survival
were slim at best.
“Do you know the way out?”
“Nasheema does! There is
a secret tunnel from this palace that leads inland. Few slaves and harem
girls know of it, as sometimes goods such as ourselves are brought into
the city by this means, to avoid roving war parties!”
“Then show us the way out!” Clive hissed.
“Answer me first, red-hair! Will you
be mine, to have and to hold, once we are free?”
“I will do anything you ask.” Clive
said. “Only get us out of here.”
Nasheema’s full lips curled up in a
wry smile. “I knew you were a man of intelligence as well as looks and
bravery. Soon you will be free and we shall be safely beyond Korsar.”
Nasheema unlocked the cell. They followed
out and into the maze of tunnels beneath the city. Nasheema knew where
there were guards posted, and she looked warily about in order to avoid
them. Then they came to a wood door, the entrance to a tunnel.
“This is it,” she informed them.
She opened the door—it proved unlocked—and
ushered them inside.
They found themselves in a rectangular
stone and mortar as were all the rest. Here there were some
sticks for torches and barrel of pitch, situated here for the purpose of
ushering slaves and cargo to and from the city.
Shortly, each of their torches was
ablaze with burning pitch. With Nasheema in the lead, they plunged, all
four of them, into the waiting tunnel.
Here the walls were of rough stone, and there
were no torches or braziers lighting the way, other then those they carried.
Naked, squawling slurrals skittered out of their passage, eyes shining
redly in the light of their blazing brands.
At last, they came to a
dead end in the tunnel. A series of rusty iron rungs ascended upward.
“We are now out of the city,” Nasheema
told them. The others doused their torches. Holding her torch aloft, she
ascended into the gloom. Clive went next, followed by Jal-mar, and then
Simmons. The shaft seemed to go on for a good many feet before at last
they heard Nasheema bang the flat of her hand against a kind of metal covering.
For a fearful second Clive wondered if the exit was sealed. But Nasheema
strained upward, and managed to push off the cover. Daylight of Pellucidar
poured in, nearly blinding them
The girl crawled through, and put out
her firebrand. Once they were all out and blinking in the daylight, she
told them. “Come, I will lead all of you away from the city. Borak may
know of our escape by now, and may be sending his guards in pursuit.
They saw they were now in the midst
of a dense jungle, though even here the light seemed very fierce. But once
their eyes had time to adjust, they made haste in following the girl.
Before they had traversed very further, however,
it seemed that they had little to worry them as far as the possibility
of pursuit. A cracking roar rent their eardrums, a sound seldom heard within
Glancing back at the towers and spires of
Korsar, visible over the trees, they saw that some huge projectile had
evidently rammed into the huge wall surrounding the city.
Clive scented something he knew well,
the acrid odor of gun power. There was then another deafening boom, followed
by the cries of men, seemingly both from behind the wall and without. Most
surprisingly there followed the deafening roars of beasts, the bellowing
of some unknown, but evidently huge behemoth, and the shrill trumpeting
Evidently, Korsar was under siege by
some unknown and powerful foe, evidently possessing technology unguessed
by the other tribes of the inner earth, superior even to that of the Korsars.
“It is the men of Sari!” Nasheema cried.
“Only they possess the weaponry to stage an attack on Korsar!”
Clive heart leapt in his throat. “You
... you mean it is the Sarians who are attacking the city?”
Nasheema nodded. “Indeed, my
warrior. The Sarians possess strange and powerful weapons, unlike the other
tribes. Borak will not pursue us now. But we must be certain we do not
risk being captured by the Sarians.”
“Why must we fear them?”
“The same reason we must fear any people
other than our own. Do not be foolish. ”
Clive said nothing.
“But we are far from the country
of the Sarians,” Alistair Simmons said. “Remember the map I showed you?
It lies upon the opposite side of the Korsar Az.”
“Then what are they doing staging an
attack upon a city so far from their own.”
“Your guess, my boy, is as good as
The forest had begun to peter out into
a park-like area. Not far off, open plains could be glimpsed. From there
they heard the noise as of a vast army.
“Well, we might as well make
contact with them.” Clive said.
“The girl does not trust them.” Jal-mar
said. “And though I have little love for her, I suspect she may be right.
They are an enemy tribe, after all, and must possess powerful weapons indeed
to attack such a tribe as that of our recent captors. Are you certain we
can trust them?”
“I assure you we can.” said Simmons.
“The Sarians are not like Pellucidar’s other tribes, though they once may
have been. You will understand shortly, my friend.”
They crept to the edge of the forest,
where it merged into open grassland. The sight which greeted them was astounding.
A vast army of mighty behemoths
were lumbering over the mighty plain. The largest were gigantic long-necked
dinosaurs of the sauropod variety. Their deep-toned bellows were the same
as Clive had heard earlier, and had been unable to identify. But most astonishingly,
the great plodding behemoths each bore upon its mighty humped back a full
squadron of armed human warriors. Some of these carried spears of metal,
but others carried what looked to be long rifles. All the men wore some
manner of steel armor which flashed in the sun, unlike the fur and leather
garments worn by most of Pellucidar’s tribes. Too there were great shaggy
tandors, more numerous than the sauropods, with mighty curling ivory tusks.
These mighty beasts, too, carried human warriors upon their broad sloping
backs. But also there were ground troops. An armada of human foot soldiers
marched ahead of the mounted soldiers. These too, were armed with spears
and guns. And there was cavalry as well, galloping alongside the great
beasts of war. The horses they rode were modern in that they were full-sized
Equs, but resembled the wild horses of Ice Age Eurasia more than any domestic
It was a vast, stunning and incredible
sight, even within this lost world of marvels.
“Let us flee before we
are seen,” Nasheema said.
“There is no need to fear, my
girl,” Alistair told her. “The Sarians are a peaceful tribe.”
The girl shot the old man a scornful
look. “Peaceful? Hah! What do you know old man? No tribe is peaceful. Is
that why they are making war upon their foes, even as we are observing?”
“Alistair has studied the Sarian
race,” Clive told her. “I would guess if the Sarians are attacking Korsar,
they have some good reason to do so. They are almost certainly not the
As they looked on, they witnessed
some of the Sarians pulling canons at the fore of the horde. There were
more explosions as the missiles blasted the wall of the city.
“It would not be wise to interrupt
them in the heat of battle,” Jal-mar observed.
Clive and Simmons had to assent that
he might be right, so they simply stayed their ground while the battle
As it turned out, the battle was a
short one. The cannon-blasts ceased, and the Korsars appeared to have surrendered.
The army paused.
At that moment, some of the troops
in the rear appeared to have noted them. They gave excited shouts. One
of the great tandors lumbered massively in their direction.
Jal-mar cautioned them to flee, but
Alisatair assured them that all would be well. They all emerged out in
full view of the army.
Clive himself had some doubts as the
mammoth beast approached. Nasheema did not flee, but stood bravely facing
them, though she clung securely to Clive’s arm.
The warrior in command
of the mammoth reined it to a stop. He wore the armor of sari, emblazoned
with the Sari Tandor emblem on the front. But he was unmistakably a stone-age
warrior, with a shock of black hair, and a stern but not unhandsome face,
much like Tarok of Nu-al. He was a youthful man also, who appeared to be
in his mid-twenties by surface-world standards. His fierce blue eyes examined
them coldly. “A red-haired, pale-skinned warrior, an old man, a warrior
of a race of which I am not familiar, and a girl of the same race as Korsar.
Who are you, and what are you doing in our land?”
“We are travelers who have lost
our way.” Alistair Simmons explained. “We were searching for the land of
Sari, which was founded, so I have read by a surface man like ourselves.
The young man and myself are from the surface. Jal-mar is a member of tailed
race that inhabitants an isolated plateau, far from here. The girl—Nasheema
is her name—helped us recently to escape from the city of Korsar.”
The warriors gaze studied each
of them. He lingered the most upon Nasheema, though it was clear this was
not because she was an attractive female, but because, from the apprehension
that shown in his eyes, he recognized this girl as somewhat not entirely
At last, however, he appeared satisfied
that they were, as a group, a trustworthy bunch. “I am Dangar of Sari,”
The warrior informed them. “This army hails from the land you seek. But
we are far from there. If you are seeking Sari, how came you here, to the
land of the Korsars?”
“We were searching for a young
woman, the mate of my friend Clive Neville, who was abducted by the Korsars.
It is a rather long story, but the girl ended up captured by another fugitive,
and we ourselves wound up as the Cid’s prisoners."
The warrior smiled in grim
amusement. “If you agree, I shall take you to see Emperor Innes. He is
the surface man of whom you speak.”
“He is here now.”
“Indeed he is. He will be interested
in hearing more of your tale, as am I.”
Dangar ordered the great beast to lower
itself, and admit the four travelers aboard.
Shortly thereafter, the entire Sarian army
turned around, their business with Korsar, whatever it had been, apparently
Some distance out upon the plains,
the army settled down to camp. Danger led them to the tent occupied by
David Innes, Emperor of Pellucidar.
They found him seated upon a folding
chair. He was a relatively young-looking man of indeterminate age, though
he had been in charge of what was now a mighty empire for what must have
amounted to many years since he had first discovered this lost world at
the earth’s core, along with his friend, the scientist and inventor, Abner
Perry. His hair was fair, and shortly cropped in military fashion, unlike
Dangar who still retained his savage locks.
“These travelers I discovered
at the edge of the Korsar nation.” said Dangar. “I think you might want
to hear their story.”
“I am very pleased to finally
meet with your acquaintance, Mr. Innes.” Alistair Simmons said. He extended
his hand in friendship.
Innes looked stunned. He extended
his hand tremblingly. “My thanks,” He regarded the older man and then Clive.
“Are you men from the surface?”
“We are,” Clive told him.
“Than I am most interested
to meet you. Can you tell me what you are doing here, and how you came
to be in Pellucidar.”
“That’s a rather long story,” Simmons
They all sat cross-legged in the tent.
Clive, Simmons, and occasionally Jal-mar, each told their parts of how
they had come to be in this incredible inner world. They told of Clive’s
work for National Geographic, of how they had entered Pellucidar through
the polar opening. They told of their capture by Jal-mar’s people, and
their subsequent flight and liberation. They told of how they had rescued
princess Jahlanna of the far off country of Nu-al, and of the battle with
the thipdar-riding Mulag. Innes seemed especially interested in the account
of the fugitives of the Mahar race, and how they had used the Mulag to
pray upon them. He seemed unaware of the existence of either of these two
tribes however, nor of the strange race called the groags, who were endemic
to that region.
They told of their quest for
Sari, of the abduction of Clive’s new found mate by the Korsars, and of
their capture and imprisonment by the seagoing Az-al. They told of their
escape form that city, during which two of their friends, the Nu-al warrior
Tarok and the slave-girl Valkara had apparently ended their lives in the
belly of a zarith-az. They told of the disappearance of Jahlanna and the
sagoth Mogor, and their own recent capture and flight from the city of
Innes mused over the lengthy
tale thoughtfully. Then he said, “If you are still searching for the missing
girl, I will do all in my power to help you search for her. Pellucidar
is a vast land, but one full of surprising coincidences, as I myself have
discovered. As to the two companions you lost at sea—are you certain they
are now dead?”
“I am afraid so.” said Alistair sadly.
“I would not be completely sure. One
never can be in Pellucidar. Perhaps they will turn up in some unexpected
fashion—sometimes even seeing can be mistaken. I will allow you to remain
with us, until we return to Sari. Then I will see to it, that a means can
be arranged to return you to the surface. But until then, my army has other
business to take care of.”
“Why were your men attacking
Korsar?” Clive asked.
“While were camped during our
last sleep period, the Korsars took captive four of our men, in hopes to
wrest from them the secret of our gun powder. It is the sort of trick they
have tried before. We would have torn the city apart if the Cid had not
agreed to my demands that they be released. But now the men have been safely
“Then you are not here to make
war upon the Cid?”
“Not at all. Though I have little
doubt he would conquer us, had he the chance. No, we are here on a rather
special mission. And I believe perhaps you may be able to assist us.”
“How is that possible?” asked Alistair.
“You see, word has traveled form tribe to
tribe that survivors of the great war with the Mahar race have built a
city in the region of ice, to the north of here. The slimy winged reptiles-forgive
me, I have long-standing bias against them—are believed to have developed
a fantastic new weapon, with which they hope to once again subjugate the
entirety of Pellucidar. It is a kind of weapon similar to the sound
cannon. Only instead of sonic vibrations, it somehow amplifies the natural
mental powers of the Mahars themselves.”
“Phenomenal.” said Alistair. “I would
like to discover if it is true, and find study principles of such an extraordinary
Innes’ eyes grew hard. “I hope
sincerely, that it is not true. It might well mean the enslavement of Pellucidar’s
other sentient races if it is.” He paused. “There are even rumors of actual
plans to conquer the surface world as well.”
The claim was stunning. “Surely
they are merely rumors,” Clive said.
Innes shrugged. “They may well be.
I do not want to cause you alarm. But the Mahars appear to now know a great
deal of about the surface, far more than they once did. And it is because
of tapping into the minds of men such as you and me. I’m afraid I share
the most blame. I mistakenly took one of them to the surface once—Tu-ul-sa,
Queen of Phutra, at the time of the Great War. She spared my life and that
of my mate, which I cannot help but remain grateful. But she undoubtedly
learned more of the surface than is healthy for its inhabitants. And if
such a weapon is possible, then the implications are staggering. But since
you have encountered the Mahars since they fled the empire, perhaps you
can help us. I am especially interested in this new Mahar queen. I have
never heard of her, but it is possible that she or another like her is
the one planning to invade Sari with these new weapons. ”
“Where is this new city of theirs?”
“North of here, like I said.
But it is concealed form human eyes. There are also rumors of another power
base on the Dead World. This one, my lieutenant, Dangar, has confirmed
as true. It is the city which he and his mate once escaped from. It is
where the sound-canons were built. But we cannot reach it because no vehicle
we have can travel high enough, not even a hot air-balloon. We do
not wish to risk the lives of a search party either. But my friend Abner
Perry is at this moment working on a new kind of zeppelin, in which a party
of armed warriors may able to reach the moon of Pellucidar without difficulty”
“We will be of service if we
can,” Clive told him solidly.
Suddenly Jal-mar said, “The girl!
She is gone! I warned you not to trust her!”
They looked around. Sure enough,
Nasheema had vanished!