Beneath the unblinking orb of
eternal noon, a mighty conglomeration giant prehistoric beasts plodded.
Only within Pellucidar, the incredible world within our own, could giant
woolly pacadermic brutes of the Pleistocene be seen lumbering alongside
grotesque saurian behemoths of the Jurassic. These were gargantuan herbivorous
dinosaurs, with enormous long necks, reared upon which ridiculously small
heads. The great slopping olive-green bulks of their mountainous backs
each carried an entire troop of armored warriors. Amongst these strode
additional warriors on mammoth back, all bearing swords spears and muskets.
Their armor and helms flashed in the eternal sun. For these were Sarians,
formerly a stone-age tribe like the vast majority of others within Pellucidar.
But unlike the others, the Sarians now had a vastly advanced technology
compared to their counterparts.
Upon the lead mammoth,
a fine beast with a mighty domed skull and magnificent curling tusks, rode
David Innes, formerly of the surface world, king of Sari and emperor, his
armored breastplate bearing the Sarian Mammoth insignia. On the mammoth
beside him rode Lieutenant Dangar. Behind him rode Clive Neville, Alistair
Simmons and Jal-mar.
“I had never thought such things
were possible,” the tailed warrior said. “I now realize that when you told
me of the accomplishments of the Sarians, I only half-believed the truth
of your words.”
“What did I tell you?” said Alistair.
Clive nodded at the giant saurians
plodding alongside them. “That’s one dinosaur species I’m already familiar
with, Alistair. Brontosaurus, right? The biggest of them all. Only seeing
them—they’re even more gigantic than I ever dreamed! I can’t believe humans
have trained to ride on them.”
“Actually, Clive my boy,” Said Alistair
“I believe those brutes are actually of the species Diplodicus, rather
than the Brontosaurus. They’re a bit longer in the body, I believe. And
the shape of their skulls are most similar to the Diplodocus. The brontosaurus
had a blunt, squarish muzzle, not unlike the closely related camarasaurus.
But you’re not far off—the two species are really very similar.”
Dangar glanced back to
them over his shoulder. “We know the great reptiles as lidi,” he said “Whatever
name they go by in your own lands. The Thurians of the plains are the first
humans to have managed to domesticate them for riding purposes. The Sarians
merely copied the Thurians, once an allegiance was formed between our two
The great caravan continued “north.”
Even the mightiest predators of the inner-earth steered clear of attacking
such a vast assortment of men and beasts. They were hoping to uncover rumors
of a hidden Mahar base located near the rim of Pellucidar itself—on the
cusp of the polar opening. An actual invasion of the outer world seemed
improbable—but still, they needed to know.
Before long, the lead warriors spotted
something curious. They had entered region of open park-like forest. A
man and woman, apparently fleeing for their lives, up a sloping incline
to the side of the plain. And behind them—
The beast pursuing the warrior
and his mate was a gigantic carnivorous reptile of titanic proportions.
It walked upright on two gigantic striding legs. Its forelimbs were abbreviated
to the point of appearing almost comical. The thing’s head, appearing to
consist of nothing but gigantic grinning reptilian jaws, reared fully twenty-five
feet above the turf.
The fleeing couple’s tactic—that of
gaining high ground at the expense of their gigantic pursuer, did seem
to slow the monster some, but the beast continued in pursuit, hideous head
lowered, jaws gaping to emit a thunderous hiss of anticipation.
“What manner of beast is that,
Dangar?” Clive asked him. “I can’t quite recall the Pellucidaran name,
but I believe I recognize it—a tyrannosaurus rex!”
“I believe you are correct in
identifying that beast,” said Alistair beside. “It does indeed appear to
be a tyrannosaurus, or else something very like it.”
“It is a zarith,” said Dangar, his
voice flat and ominous. “They are, fortunately, few in number, and seldom
encountered by men, thank the gods. Else they should destroy all other
forms of life within Pellucidar—as this one will destroy the man and woman,
if we do not stop him in time.”
“I’m with you, Dangar,” said Clive.
“Surely, your powerful enough to stop that beast.”
“I fear that incline will make it difficult,
however,” said Dangar, as he urged his mammoth foreword to the rescue.
David Innes had already urged his beast in
pursuit, however. The rest o the army was following.
The warrior and his mate
had ascended a good distance beyond the tyrannosaurus, but still the beast
seemed undaunted in his single-minded pursuit of the two mammalian morsels.
At last, the humans found themselves
backed against a towering cliff. They turned to face the hulking carnivorous
reptile, in a hopeless stand-off. The man and woman were still a good distance
away from Clive and Simmons, but they could see that the man looked to
be a lithe lean specimen of his race, in his early to mid twenties perhaps,
and the girl about the same age. Both were garbed in primitive loincloths,
and the man held a stone ax. He had a shock of wild brunette hair, and
the girl was blonde. They were taking a valiant stand against the oncoming
brute. But no stone-age weapon could hope to even flinch such an adversary
as a zarith.
But the army of David Innes was
far better armed than was the young couple. Already the mighty mammoths,
bred for battle, were lumbering up the side of the hill.
The tyrant lizard, formerly confident
that his prey could not hope to escape, now turned to face the army of
advancing behemoths following its wake. Craning its monstrous head back,
the zarith bellowed deafeningly, as though warning the army to stay back.
But Innes urged his tandor toward the
enraged dinosaur. Dangar closed his mammoth upon the monster’s other flank.
The remainder of the army followed suit.
Now the tyrannosaur swerved tremendously
about in a face off. It through its head forward, and screamed mightily.
The two mammoths raised their massive trunks and trumpeted in answer to
the zarith’s challenge. Now some of the Sarian cavalry galloped to the
fore, swordsmen and riflemen. The soldier pointed their muskets at the
towering form of the armored reptile.
The zarith held back, sizing up the
approaching army of huge herbivores ridden by puny mammals, like the two
mammals it had been engaged in pursuing.
The cavalrymen readied their
rifles, aiming squarely at the whitish, unprotected belly of the behemoth.
“Fire!!” roared Innes.
The muskets cracked, releasing
acrid plumes of smoke into the primal dawn-world air.
The zarith screamed mightily a the
misty sky, but hardly fell dead.
It lumbered forward.
The cavalry soldiers galloped into two formations,
surrounding the towering behemoth.
The zarith stopped and swiveled its Volkswagen-sized
head about. The monster appeared more confused than anything else.
Again the riflemen fired, riddling
the dinosaur’s hide with bullets. Some ricocheted harmlessly off the armor-plated
hide, but some found weak portions in the dinosaur’s pebbled scales, folds
of skin in the neck and belly, but even these seemed to cause the animal
only minor discomfort.
The cavalrymen bearing spears
cast these at the enraged brute. The tyrannosaurus screamed once more,
then charged them.
The other squadron of cavalry closed
in, casting their spears at the creatures flank. The beast swerved to attack
as more warriors rode up and cast more spears, until the zarith’s hide
bristled with metallic shafts.
Giving vent to strident battle-cries
soldiers at the fore urged their steeds into a full-throttle gallop, charging
directly at the dinosaur’s belly, as the beast snapped at those were currently
spearing at its right flank. They drove their spears directly into the
dinosaur’s belly, entering the beast's vitals.
The zarith uttered one last final
scream at the ghastly heavens, and then tottered on its mighty hind-limbs,
as he soldiers galloped at of the way.
The bullets and pears were finally
have their effect on the towering behemoth. In fact, it was likely already
dead, but that knowledge had yet to reach its brain. It uttered another
weak cry, then toppled forward to crash to the spongy turf like a felled
The mounted soldiers rode up toward
where the cornered man and woman had taken refuge. They were still poised
for combat, believing doubtless, that these strange warriors were to be
feared as they were of an unknown people.
“Now we will see who almost became
the zarith’s meal,” Dangar said.
Clive, still on Dangar’s mammoth, said
nothing, but could not help but wonder—he could almost swear that he recognized
the young warrior and his mate! But no, that could not be possible. Those
people he thought he recognized were dead--they had to be. This was in
another part of Pellucidar, besides, a good distance from the shore of
the Korsar Az.
a sudden signal to Dangar, who returned it, and then signaled the remainder
of the troops. “We will make camp now.” He told Clive and his friends.
“Let us hope the rescued warrior and his mate will prove our allies.”
Once camp had been made,
and the tents set up, Dangar told Clive and Alistair. “ I have word of
the man and woman whom we rescued from the zarith’s jaws.”
‘What of it?”
“The warrior’s name is Tarok of Nu-al.
Is he the same warrior of whom you spoke?”
Clive, Simmons, and Jal-mar were dumbfounded
by the news. “He must be” said Clive, “For surely there is no other Tarok
of Nu-al. In fact, I thought I may have recognized him. But I do not know
he could have survived.”
“If it is he, then I imagine
he has quite a tale to tell you.”
“Then bring him!”
In a moment, Tarok and Valkara—for
or course it was they—arrived in the tent.
“Clive…?” Tarok wondered, as he recognized
his red-haired friend.
“Clive!” cried Valakra, her large blue
eyes going wide. “I…we feared you were dead!”
“Tarok! And Valkara…!” Clive exclaimed.
“We thought that you were! We saw that shark eat you—swallow you whole!”
“Tarok’s hard face smiled grimly. “That
it did, my friend. But it takes more than one overgrown shark to finish
a warrior of Nu-al.”
The two men clapped one another on
“I am certainly glad to have you back among
us,” Clive said.
“As am I. I never thought I would see you
All of them sat down on the floor of
the tent, as they listened to Tarok’s and Valkara’s tale. They told of
how they escaped—literally from the belly of the az-zarith, of their capture
and escape from the race of jalok-headed men, how they discovered their
desire for one another, and of their encounter with the tyrannosaurus.”
“So these are men of Sari,” Tarok said.
“When Simmons told us of them, I had no idea what they were really like
I never pictured anything like this—spears that flash in the sun, sticks,
like the thing you call “pistol”, that speak thunder and smoke, and able
to tame the great behemoths of the plains!”
‘”Tell us again of those beasts
that captured you,” Simmons said. ‘They were humanlike you say, with the
heads of hyeanodons?”
Tarok shrugged. “That is how best I
can describe them. We had not seen their like before, or heard of them.”
“I have heard of them,”
Dangar said. “From your descriptions, and the country you were in, I believe
that they are called “Snarks.” Indeed they are a savage and bestial race.
I myself have never encountered them, nor do I wish to. Prisoners taken
by them are said never to return.”
“We are indeed fortunate to escape.
But Valkara—who is now my mate—is a brave and resourceful warrior maid.
We battled our way to freedom. The things were very ruthless, and without
apparent honor. You should have seen how they set upon the tarask with
their teeth and claws.”
‘Where is Jahlanna, the
princess who was supposed to be in love with you.” Valkara asked Clive.
“Do not tell me she found a new mate!”
“She is…not here,” said Clive
sadly. He told here their adventures since they had last parted. “The Sarians
have agreed to let us search for her. We were hoping to come upon her somewhere
in this area. But Innes’ army is headed north on a mission. There is rumor
that the Mahars are building a power-base in the north. Innes plans to
find out of the reports from that region are true.”
“Then you are headed towards
the lands of my people,” said Valkara.
“Do you know of any strange activity
in your country?” asked Dangar.
“No. But I left my people long ago. I do
not know what has taken place in my country since then.”
“If we are headed there, so much
the better,” opined Tarok. “We have already found Clive, and I am looking
forward to meeting with your people.”