The warriors traveled onward
upon the back of the mighty tandor. The giant Hug-lo strode beside them,
his head almost level with the eye of the tusker. They did not find Clive
at the appointed rendezvous. They traveled nearly the entire circumference
of the land of Awful Shadow, but no trace of the surfacelander, his mate,
or the rogue Lu-gor did they find.
However, as Dangar had told them, the
main Sarian army had returned and it was not long before they joined with
the main force. David Innes was astonished that Simmons and the others
had turned up. They made camp, and stories were exchanged. Innes suggested
that they return with them to Sari and once. Simmons and Tarok insisted
that they continue their search for Clive Neville and the girl. However,
Innes explained that a vast army was on the march from the north, and it
was liable to crush all with in its path. The best they could do right
now was to retreat back to Sari, and from there, hopefully bring in greater
and more well-armed forces. Finally Simmons and the others reluctantly
agreed. But still they wondered what could have happened to Clive? Had
he found Jahlanna or not? The Mahars were still out there, searching for
Clive and for the weapon that Lu-gor had stolen. Had Clive succeeded in
recovering the weapon or hadn't he? It was possible, as Simmons explained
to Innes, that Clive, and possibly his mate as well had once again fallen
captive to the Mahars, even borne back to the Dead World. It was a matter
which Simmons and Tarok did not care to contemplate, but which Innes promised
to look into, as soon as the Mahar forces were defeated or driven back.
“How did you get here?”
Clive Neville was asking Jarn. “You could not have followed us all the
way from Nu-al.”
“I am not alone.”
said the boy. “Jarla and another girl named Zara are with me. We made camp,
and I went off to kill something for us. I found you just as the gark was
“It's a good thing you did.” Clive
“Jarn fought the beast like a true
warrior.” said Jahlanna once again. Jarn, seeing that she truly meant it,
Clive noticed that the boy's developing
muscles were now harder and more steel-spring. And though he still had
that carefree look in his eyes, there was a harder, more serious, seasoned
glint there as well. Whatever had transpired since they had last seen Jarn,
it was obvious Pellucidar had done its part in transforming the lad in
the direction of true manhood.
“I’ll show you.” Jarn said. The
boy led the way to where he and the two girls were camped. Jarla and the
Azeer maid were astonished to see Clive and Jahlanna. They were especially
astonished by the color of Clive’s hair, for it is practically unknown
within the realm of Pellucidar. The girls were also astonished—and seemingly
a bit jealous—at how beautiful the Nu-al princess was. Zara had managed
to kill a phenocodus, which they roasted over an open fire. Clive found
its flesh to taste not unlike that of pork, though the species was millions
of years more ancient than that of a pig, and in no way related.
Clive and Jahlanna each told
of their adventures since departing the land of Nu-al, while Jarn listened
enraptured. The lad then recounted his won trials and tribulations excitedly,
boasting with youthful vigor in some choice parts. The girls sometimes
corrected him, and filled in parts were Jarn himself had not been present.
He told of his and Jarla’s flight form the wrath of the bully Lu-gor, their
capture by the Azeer, and Zara’s subsequent involvement, his humiliation
of Lu-gor, their flight across the sand of the Thara, the crossing of the
mountain peaks of Ator and the strange outlander, Preston, who dwelled
therein, and who had saved them from the subhuman sharkas. Clive
and Jahlanna were much impressed by how Jarn had saved Zara from a trodon.
They were surprised that all of them had the unpleasant run-ins with Lu-gor,
and speculated on what had occurred that the rogue of O-lar had become
a servant to the Mahar race. But as Lu-gor was a bully and coward, it was
certainly not unlike him to betray his own entire race for personal gain.
Clive exclaimed to the young people as best he could the nature of the
bizarre weapon which Lu-gor had stolen form the Lords, and which they demanded
gave it to the boy and allowed him and the girls to finger it. They were
naturally curious, as are all young people. They were a bit revolted though,
knowing that here was a weapon crafted by the mighty Mahars, designed to
be used against their own race. Lu-gor had apparently known how to use
it, though he might have been bluffing. Clive’s use of it on the gark,
after all had had minimal effect, only serving to further enrage the beast,
so he did not fully understand its powers himself. Her warned them not
to attempt to sue it, unless in the event of an emergency situation.
Then Clive told them
all about the two Mahar scientists who were the twin rulers of the Technocarcy,
Ka-ul-na, and Zu-ul-ka. They were ones who had sent him to retrieve the
weapon Lu-gor had stolen. Of the two, he explained, Ka-ul-na seemed the
most honorable, for anted to achieve a sot of peace with the gilaks race,
so long as they agreed to submit to Mahar rule, and he believed that humans
should at least be treated humanely. Not so Zu-ul-ka, who believed gilaks
were fit merely for food and experimentation.
Jarn opined that he doubted
that any of the slimy reptiles could be trusted, and that he would never
agree to be subjected to Mahar rule, even a humane one. The boy was perhaps
a bit prejudiced, Clive conceded, though, that he could hardly blame him
after what the Mahars had done to his Jahlanna’s people, but on Jarn’s
last point, at least, he had to agree.
They decided to set out for the spot
where Clive had agreed to meet the others. After their sleep period, Clive,
Jahlanna and youngsters continued on their way.
warned them that the Mahar scientists were still seeking to recover the
stolen psy-weapon prototype, and warned them to mask their thoughts to
avoid discovery; one common mistake the Mahars often made regarding the
gilak race was to underestimate them. They kept a wary eye aloft.
But no further sign of the winged reptiles did they see.
It was not long, however
before they came upon an unfamiliar region, dominated by a species of tall
grass, terminating in gorgeous blue flowers which is common throughout
some regions of Pellucidar, giant fern-trees and mighty conifers.
And some distance in front of
them, there rose into the humid atmosphere two gigantic rearing pylons
of crystal-white stone.
“I believe it is a Mahar city.” The girl said. “Most of their cities lie
buried underground. Perhaps this is one.”
“I think you are right.”
said Clive. “We are in the region where Phutra, one of the original cities,
is located, according to Simmons.”
“Perhaps this is it.” said Jahlanna.
“If so, we should not go near it. Let us flee!”
“If this is Phutra,” said Clive,
“Then surely it is abandoned.”
“Then let it remain so. We should
begone from here.”
Clive had to agree. Part of him
wanted explore the ancient city, find out any possible weaknesses the Mahar
race might have. Perhaps this was where their “Great Secret” was stored,
and there might well be other revelations stored within the city’s library.
But at the same time, he was not eager to find out what horrors might be
lurking within the confines of the ancient city.
They traveled on, at last making
camp in some foothills at distance form the ancient city. Still, there
were no sign of the Mahars patrolling the skies above them, and Clive assumed
that the city truly was abandoned.
It was sometime after they had fallen asleep that Clive found himself prodded
awake by Zara’s spear. “Awake, Red-Hair!”
Clive wearily got to his feet.
He noticed immediately that Jarn was missing.
“That fool boy had gone off to
explore the city of Phutra!” she said.
“How are you sure?” he
“I have been with him long enough
to know. He has risked our lives on occasion because of his foolishness.
Though I have to admit he had saved us as well, ever since he saved me
from the trodon. That is why we must find and rescue him form his won stupidity.”
“I have to admit that she is
probably right.” Jarla admitted with a heavy sigh.
Clive realized that the boy was
still as hotheaded as ever, even though his warrior’s skills had matured.
He did not like the idea of having to search a possibly dangerous region
for the lad, at the possible risk of three girls, one of whom was his own
mate. But he was not about to leave Jahlanna by herself in this savage
wilderness, prey to whatever beast or man happened along, so all of them
set out for the city.
Zara and Jarla,
though a bit younger than the Nu-al princess, were both seasoned warrioresses.
Jahlanna herself, though raised pampered favorite among her father's tribe,
nonetheless knew survival skills and how to wield spear, ever since her
ordeal with the men of Mulag. Those facts relieved Clive’s fears a little
as they approached the towering white obelisks.
Jarn’s trail led directly to this spot. The lad hadn't even attempted to
cover his act of “bravery.”
“What did I
tell you, Flame-Hair?” Zara said. “The brat practically left us roadmarks.”
“It seems he
did.” Clive agreed.
“If we're captured
by Mahars or sagoths,” Zara vowed, “Remind me to kill him.”
“I am inclined to
help you.” Jarla said. Both girls liked Jarn, but both seemed to hate the
lad as well. Part of Zara’s contemptuous attitude toward the boy, Jarla
knew, sprung from her jealously over herself and him. But times like this
curiously united Zara and herself.
The entrance to the city
gaped ominous and black before them.
Warily, they entered. Oddly
enough, the strange power source which had illuminated the Mahar city appeared
to be still functioning, though dimly, and they could still see their way.
The stone walls and floor, however, were now covered over with mold and
mosses. Massive vines had torn through the walls and floor. Stagnant puddles
were everywhere. Weird chirpings and croakings sounded throughout the tunnel.
When they came to a place where the
tunnel bisected another, they agreed to split up in their search for Jarn,
Zara and Jarla taking one branch, and Clive and Jahlanna the other. Jahlanna
clung to her mate's shoulder, as they made their way stealthily down the
corridor. Clive kept the psy-weapon of the Mahars raised. They came to
a great chamber the bulk of which was screened off from them by thick glass
in the manner of a zoo exhibit. And like such, there was a great rocky
island in the center surrounded on all sides by a deep moat. On the zoos
of the surface world the enclosure would have been inhabited by frolicking
sea lions or penguins or such. But all they knew what it was—they had already
witnessed its like on the Dead World. They had entered the Temple area,
and it was unmistakably a Mahar Feeding Pool. Only now there was not a
Mahar in sight. But the enclosure really did resemble a sort of prehistoric
zoo, in the local wildlife had taken over. The murky water was now greenish
and scummed with algae fed in from a local swamp. Schools of small, jawless
fish rippled through the water, and larger coelacanths, and other lobe-finned
fish. The amphibious bulks of labyrinthodons cruised massively through
the water preying on the shoals of fish, and lounging lazily on the rocks,
sun-warmed by the filters of light from the ceiling windows. The thick
glass had long since cracked and splintered, and there were gaping holes
in the masonry. Water had seeped in and Clive and Jahlanna were wading
in a pool of stagnant swamp water. The massive amphibians croaked and bellowed
mating calls to one another.
“Oooh, Clive!” said the
girl. “I do not like this place. Even with the Mahars gone, it is dreadful.”
“I don’t care for it either.”
Clive said. “But we’ve got to find the boy.”
‘Yes,” she agreed. “Even though Jarn
is foolish, he risked his own to save us from the gark, and he once tried
to rescue me from the caverns of Mulag.”
“We’ll find him.” Clive assured
At that moment, from a gaping
hole in the floor there reared up and into the tunnel the scaled bulk of
an amphibious monster. It was similar to the labyrinthodons, only it looked
more primitive, a type of monstrous predatory fish that was just beginning
to acquire the attributes of living on land. It heaved itself toward them
with its mighty lobbed fore fins, its gaping jaws hissing.
Jahlanna screamed. Clive
turned the psy-gun on the beast. There was kind of a subsonic squeal emitted
by the weapon this time. The beast seemed confused and annoyed by whatever
beams the gun emitted. It writhed massively and withdrew back into the
gap in the floor.
The girl trembled.
“What manner of beast was that?” Clive
“I do not know.” said the girl. “There
are all manner of monsters here. Clive, I am afraid!”
“Stay close.” he cautioned her.
On they went. They passed several
rooms that might have once been used for experimentation, but had now fallen
into decay. They peered in each, but did not enter any of them. The carpet
moss and mold was now thicker and even more stagnant. The entire city,
it seemed, had been reclaimed by almighty Nature.
At last, they came to vast room
which might have once served as a laboratory. There were rows and rows
of glass compartments. They appeared to be what one might call artificial
wombs. In each was what appeared to be a fetal pterosaur, its clawed wings
folded over its underdeveloped snout. There were a series of tubes running
into each. The other half of the room was given over to what looked like
chemical vats. This must some manner of breeding chamber, how the Mahar
race reproduced itself after the institution of their Great Secret. But
it was now in a state of vast disrepair. The walls were green with alga
and lichen, and the far end was flooded with water which was pouring in
from a multitude of cracks in the masonry.
Clive and Jahlanna entered
and gazed about in wonder at the shattered remnants of the Mahar breeding
chamber, if such it was. They were standing at the edge of where the floor
had caved in when there was a mighty surge from the scummed water.
A hideous shape erupted from the frothy
depths. It rocketed toward the Nu-al princess, hardly giving her time to
scream. The giant, pincer-clawed shape seized her by the ankle and yanked
her into the filthy depths.
Clive, realizing the Mahar weapon
would likely do no good underwater. Seized his knife, and leaped in after
the princess. The murky depths nearly blinded him as he plunged beneath
the water, but he saw the greenish-brown form of the massive-carapaced
sea-scorpion as it dragged his beloved down to the depths of it s lair
with intent of rending and devouring her. The princess screamed silently
in the awful grip of the primordial Terror.
But Clive had grown powerful and swift
by his long struggle with the horrors of the inner earth. He had been a
fair swimmer in his surface world years, but now and flashed through the
water intent on rescuing his mate. Reaching her, the man drew his stone
knife, plunged it down into the compound eye of the pterygotis. Weird,
greenish ichor erupted from the wounded arthropod. The massive sea-scorpion
thrashed wildly, releasing the princess as it did so. Clive seized Jahlanna
in his arms and with powerful strokes, bore the dazed princess to the surface.
The girl hacked and coughed as her
mate bore her to the shore. She collapsed, and they sat there coughing
for several moments. Then Clive took the princess in both his arms and
carried her limp form through the moss-slimed hallways seeking the tunnels
which led upward.
At last they reached a relatively safe
and dry spot, on a brief series of wide stone steps where he set the girl
gently down. There they sat together. He held her, and she held him. The
girl shuddered, and he held her like the primal child that she was.
“Oh Clive,…”she murmured.
“It is all right
now,” he told her, enfolding her slim shoulders in his grip.
Zara and Jarla were venturing
further into the abandoned city of Phutra. They, too, had entered a region
were water from the local sea and swamp had seeped through the decaying
masonry and now flooded the hall. Small fish and amphibians swarmed through
the newly created ecosystem below their passage. The girls kept their spears
at the ready.
And for good reason. Abruptly, directly
in front of them the waters frothed and erupted. A torpedo-like shape hove
toward them, and a monstrous form rose out of the water jaws agape.
The girls shrieked, but Zara held her own,
and plunged with her spear directly into the thing's gaping jaws, and into
what passed for its brain. The creature writhed and died.
The Azeer girl stepped back and examined
“What manner of beast is it?” Jarla
“I do not know.” Zara said. “It resembles
a sithic, but I have never seen its like before.”
“Let us hope there are not more
“Let us just hope we can find
your foolish male, Jarn, and be gone from here.”
The two females exchanged jealous glances,
and continued, ever watchful for more dangers.
At length they came to place were the
brackish water receded, and the tunnel though still damp, and lichen-encrusted
with relatively dry. Zara realized that she must have had some feminine
intuition, for though Jarns trail had become indiscernible in the tunnel,
this was the direction he had taken. He had come this way, and not long
ago at that.
For the boy's muddy footprints were
plainly visible leaving the water and leading up the tunnel.
“We have him,” Zara grinned mischievously
to her not-so-companionable companion
‘Then let's find him before something
“As you wish.” Zara agreed haughtily.
As for the
object of their search, Jarn had ventured into a region of Phutra, which
was had ceased to be moss covered and decayed. In fact, the tunnels which
the boy now found himself were free of the clinging moss and appeared dry,
clean and undecayed. The tunnel had sloped upward, and at last he found
himself at the base of at set of broad stone stairs. At the top of these
were a massive pair of clear glass doors. Whatever lay behind these appear
brightly lit. As the cave boy approached the doors, to his surprise whooshed
Jarn entered. He was now in a
tunnel very like the ones through which he had just traversed. Only these
were spotless and immaculate, of brilliant white crystal stone. He was
now well above the water table, but it as obvious that this portion of
the city — wherever it was — had been kept up on purpose. Still, the tunnel
seemed deserted. There were no voices, no sign of life anywhere — yet.
Eager to explore, the possibility of
danger thrumming in his blood, Jarn continued on.
He passed several rooms that
seemed to be laboratories of some sort, and functioning, but empty of any
occupants. Then he came to a room very like the one that Clive and Jahlanna
had found that resembled a breeding chamber. Within it were scores of huge
chemical vats. Only these were seething and burbling, and very much in
use. The room led into a larger one filled with back sand backs of glass-covered
artificial wombs. To the boy's horrified wonder, each one held the fetally-curled
miniature of one of the mighty Mahar race in various stages of development.
This, the boy, thought,
must be how the foul creatures reproduced themselves. He had heard the
monsters were only female. Though that had been a hard one to swallow,
especially in the case of such hideous, cold terrors as the Mahars, it
must be true that they reproduced in some foul unnatural manner. How they
managed to grow themselves in these pods, Jarn did not, and could not know,
but he was revolted by it all the same.
All at once, Jarn was overcome
by his intense hatred of the Mahars. He remembered how the winged monsters
had allied themselves with the Mulags, the sworn enemy of his own people,
and how the slimy bird-lizards had used the Nu-al as slaves and worse.
Gripping his spear, Jarn plunged it into the nearest artificial sac. It
was not heard like glass after all, but was of some thick, jelly-like substance.
The sac ruptured, fluids leaking out. To Jarn’s revulsion, the fetal Mahar
actually came awake and cried shrilly at him, as though in indignation.
Sickened, the boy plunged his spear into it. He then did the same to the
next womb-sac, and the next, until every miniature winged reptile in the
chamber was destroyed.
He then stepped into the next chamber.
It was filled with rows and rows of Mahar eggs, their leathery shells warmed
by backs of florescent lights overhead. With a wild yell, Jarn fell to,
stomping and crunching the eggs, determined that the winged monsters would
never again harm another human.
The boy whirled around. Behind
him stood Zara and Jarla.
“You fool!” cried the Azeer girl.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
“Destroying their eggs!
What does it look like? We have to wipe them out, or they'll go on enslaving
and killing us!”
“Jarn, this is the most stupid
thing you've done yet!”
“Jarla, don’t you see? The Mahars are
our enemies! We have to kill them! We must, Jarla! Remember what they did
to your people? It's the only way!”
“Jarn, I'm afraid I have to agree with
her.” Jarla said. “What you’re doing is stupid. Can't you see that if they
catch us here — ?"
Suddenly, as though in
answer to Jarla’s observation, a giant voice boomed out, filling the chamber
with thunder. “Who dares disturb the egg chamber of the Lords!”
Four huge burly sagoths
entered. “Two gilak shes. And a boy! A gilak brat, destroying the eggs
of the great Lords!” The words were spoken with a mixture of disgust and
incredulity at Jarn’s impossible desecration. To do such a thing as willingly
destroy the eggs of the Masters was a horror almost beyond belief, and
for a lowly, verminous gilak to do so worse still.
“Kill him!” shouted another
guard. “Kill him at once!”
“Yes, the boy must die!”
“NO!” shouted the first
guard. “Capture them first. Bind them! Allow the Lords to decide their
fate. We can be assured that the fate of the boy, in particular, will be
Then, gloatingly, the guards
fell upon them.