Back to Pellucidar
Maria tried to turn the wheel many times before giving up.
“It serves me right,” she said. “I doubted that such a place could even exist now I am destined to travel to this new land.”
“If its any consolation, I am glad I have company for the return trip. And I must admit, that if there is one thing we need in Pellucidar its teachers.”
“I am not planning on staying!” she said, “just long enough to look around, get this thing refueled, and go back home.”
“I am sure my father will help you, but there might be sometime in getting that done.”
“Why,” she asked. “Hope you are not planning to keep me against my will!”
“Never,” I told her, “But, I do not know where the Mole will come up? It could be in Sari, my home, or someplace many sleeps away?”
“Sleeps?” she asked, “What do you mean?”
I spent the next few hours telling her all I could of the inner world and the many different peoples and animals that lived there. She was fascinated and I really doubt that she believed me. But that would come once she spent some time in the inner world. She then told me of her childhood and years in college and her school where she was a teacher. I discovered that her brother, the rebel leader was a college professor before becoming a revolutionary.
I told her of my life in Sari, growing up as the son of the Emperor and how it wasn't easy living in his shadow. I told him about Abner Perry who was my mentor and how he invented the Iron Mole. I also told him about how, in every instance his inventions never worked right the first time.
“I want to know what might happen if we come up under some great ocean?” she asked.
“Well, I don't like to think about that,” I told her. “In shallow waters like a lake, we might be able to swim for it, if we had time before the Mole flooded. But, if we should come up in deep water....”
“We are dead,” she finished my sentence.
“The good news is that there are fewer oceans in Pellucidar than on the surface. That is why Perry sent the Mole to arrive in Ohio.”
“And you came up in Central America!” she said, a tone of worry in her voice. I didn't answer her.
I noticed she spent many hours silent, her hands folded and chanting in her native language. I took this to be prayers to her gods. I knew the desperate feelings that haunted her -- I had them before but, I knew that nothing I could do could change things so I steeled myself for what ever outcome would present itself. I knew the dangers when I left Sari and I understood them all to well now.
The hours passed slowly now, the huge engines roaring along smoothly, I am glad Gridley oiled the machine well, and I believed it did sound better than it did before. Maria was silent, eating and drinking what we had packed, she did study the maps I had of the Inner world as well as asking me about the universal language spoken by most of the tribes in Pellucidar. I even taught her a few words and their meanings. She proved a good student, but in all of my instructions I felt she was doing this to keep from thinking about what might happen if we came up under one of the great seas. We slept several times as the mole kept on its unrelenting journey though rock and stone heading back to the world of my birth.
There was more instruction and what they call small talk before that wonderful sound, the drill spinning in open air! Not water, but air! We were back in Pellucidar! I opened the hatches and looked out on the landscape, the fresh air flowing in. Maria turned off the engine and she joined me at the open hatch. We were not far from a beach where waves crashed into the sand. There was jungle all about us and overhead, the noon day sun.
We looked at each other, we were lucky to come up here and not a few yard over, into the sea. But what sea was it?
It was only when we left the mole that we could observe the upward curving ocean, a sight so normal to me was utterly fantastic to Maria. Her eyes were wide as she looked up and up at the blue ocean and green islands.
“I didn't believe it!” she said under her breath. “Its true. There is an inner world.”
“I don't know where we are -- could be any number of seas,” I informed her.
“I see something, up there,” she pointed up at a speck of white. I went back to the Mole and came out with a pair of binoculars. I packed for the return trip –a gift from my godfather. I looked up and focused on the white thing. It was a large sailing ship. I identified it from pictures I had seen. I had only viewed one of them before with its white sails, high gilded prow and stern.
“She's a Korsar,” I said, “I can make out the red flag with the skull she flies.”
“Pirates?” She said, as I handed her the binoculars. She refocused them and looked.
“I have seen an example of one of her kind, with the big square sails.” I told her.
“A Galleon, from her lines, early 16th Century. I have seen paintings of them in museums. I have never seen one before with my own two eyes.”
“I hope she sails right on by,” I said. “The Korsars are a savage group, My father was captured by them for a time.”
“If they are decedents of 16th Century Pirates I do not doubt you -- they were savage barbarians.”
“One good thing,” I added. “We now know where we are, Korsar Az, the pirate seas. The only bad thing is we are far from the lands of my father. None of his ships sail these waters.”
“Maybe we should signal the galleon?” Maria asked.
“Maybe we should try to make a pet of a Thag?” as I saw the confused look on her face, I added: “That is what you call a saber toothed tiger.”
“Maybe they could help us?” She said.
“Korsars only help themselves. With the gleaming silver Mole sticking up you may get your wish. They will see it and investigate. We better hide unless you like slavery.”
“We have gold, if memory serves they will do anything for gold.”
“They could just take it,” I said.
“ We have a machine gun,” she said. “I know how to use it too.”
I wondered what look would cross their bearded faces when they first experienced one of the little bullet spitting guns. They would think they were being attacked by an army.
“We may not have a chance to think of a better plan,” I told her. I pointed up at the ship, from the wake of the sailing craft she was turning toward us.
“Get the medications you need and the gold bars, and any firearms you have in the Mole,” she instructed me.
“I will take any food we have as well. I have a rifle, but I left my revolver on the surface.”
I went to the mole and grabbed the medications and instructions and put them in the haversack, along with some supplies, and my canteen. I brought one for Maria too. I took the rifle and some ammunition as well as the Machine gun and ammunition. I also took a few things that might impress the Korsars. I brought the gold bars as well. I locked the door of the Iron Mole behind me and rushed to join Maria. Now the ship was close and I could see the gun ports were opening and the snouts of brass cannons were being rolled out and pointed in our direction.
“I can read a name painted on the prow of the Galleon,” said Maria as she studied the craft.
“It says La Victoria -- the victory.”
“The Korsars speak the universal language of Pellucidar but they have a mysterious tongue no one can understand.”
“I believe its Old Spanish,” she answered. “I may well be able to speak with them.”
That might impress them, I had to admit.
“Lets take up a position on the hill behind the Iron Mole,” I said pointing. “We can conceal ourselves and it could offer up some protection from their firearms.”
Maria nodded her head and together we made our way up the rise, I handed her the short machine gun and she quickly loaded it with a smooth action that betrayed her expertise at handling the weapon.
“How many clips do we have?” She asked. “The long things with bullets.”
“Six, and some loose ammunition. Will it be enough?”
“It will have to be.” She said with a smile. “You know, I am glad I came long.”
We found a spot behind a great log where we could observe the ship and the beach, and watched the galleon with our binoculars. I could see now the Korsars were also observing the islands with a long spyglass. I wondered if they had seen us. They were a colorful lot, I could see with sashes full of pistols and knives, large floppy hats with white feathers, swords, and high topped boots. A few were almost naked wearing only striped trousers and sashes. Almost every one wore a beard, a few were women wearing skirts, sashes and hats, they all had a hard look to them and I expected no mercy from this lot. I noticed one of the men, wore a fancy jacket with gold buttons. Unlike his comrades, he didn't have a beard and was broad shouldered and wore a hat folded on the sides. I could see him yelling orders and pointing, and the other men and women were quick to obey him.
“The younger man, with no beard,” I informed Maria, “I believe he is their leader.” I handed her the binoculars and she studied the ship and her crew. I counted some thirty-seven of them but their may well be more below decks.
“He must be their captain,” she said. “He looks like the only one who seems to have taken a bath recently.”
As we watched the hairy crew went up rope ladders and lowered the sails, rolling them up. As the ship drifted into a sort of cove, near the Iron Mole, they dropped a heavy iron anchor. We kept down as they slowly lowered a small boat and some nine men manned the craft, including the clean shaven captain. They rowed ashore as the rest of the crew watched from the deck. I noticed they did roll out a cannon and loaded the thing. They were not taking any chances. But in Pellucidar that is a rather common practice.
We watched as the small boat was beached and the tall leader of the Korsars stepped out into the surf and onto the sand. He was holding a small musket with a bell shaped mouth. He was looking both right and left and saw our track in the sand. He was looking at the Iron Mole -- this seemed to fascinate them as they had never seen such a thing before.
They walked up to the craft and walked all around it, the captain even tried to open the door and found it locked. He now started to follow the footprints up the hill.
“Give me the sack of gold bars,” asked Maria. I handed the heavy metal to her. I had the medications now so the gold was of little value to me.
She stood up and threw the sack down the hill, It was heavy but they came to rest a few feet in front of the Korsars, spilling open with two bars rolling out to gleam in the noonday sun.
“Oro” she yelled down to them! She followed that word with many others in her strange language. The gold and speech stopped them cold. A few drew pistols but most were stunned.
The metal bars and talk impressed them.
The young captain yelled back a few sentences up to us that I could not understand. Even Maria couldn't follow all the words.
“Its old Spanish,” she said. “I can make out most of the words.”
One of the Korsars, a hard-bitten fellow with half an ear, pointed his pistol toward us, but the captain had him lower it with a single command. Who ever the leader, he commanded the respect and fear of his men.
“The captain is named Rey and the ugly fellow he just rebuked is called Brujo,” explained Maria. “I told them we wanted to talk. We have a proposal for them.”
“Trying to deal with these Korsars never works out well,” I warned her. “Be on your guard.”
“I am,” she said. “I am only hoping their love of gold and the promises of more might keep them in line -- at least to get a conference.”
“Where will we get more gold to appease them?” I asked.
“Would your father pay to get you and the medications?”
“Yes, he would.” I had to admit.
“This might be the only way to keep these ruffians from enslaving us -- and get us a quick voyage to Sari.”
The men below were talking among themselves, then the leader, Rey called up to us.
“They are asking what we want for the gold, and how much more we can offer.”
She called down to them and this got a response from the Korsars. They started to yell and shake there heads.
“What did you tell them?” I asked.
“I said we wanted them to sail us to Sari and they would get ten times the amount of gold they have -- and that they could keep the gold we offered them. Now they want us to comedown and surrender ourselves to them and they promise to not kill us. ”
“Be ready, they may try to rush us.” I warned her. She had her machine gun set.
“Lets give them a demonstration of what we can do,” she said, cocking the weapon and letting loose a short burst, that churned up the sand in front of the captain.
This brought silence and wonderment from the men below. Maria then shouted down more words to the men. One raised his pistol, but the younger captain seized his arm and pulled it down. He must have understood that we could easily have killed them all with another burst. With that I could see he was the smartest of the men from the ship, that must be why he commanded them. I didn't doubt these were brave men but, they were a savage lot who held life as a cheap commodity.
The captain now proceeded to give a long speech that was augmented by hand signs and smiles. I got the feeling he was up to something. Just then a shot was fired from the ship anchored off the coast.
All looked that direction and saw the figures moving across the sky, flapping their great winds and coming right towards us. They were Thipdars! The flying predators of Pellucidar.
I counted seven of the huge creatures and they were coming in fast. They flew over the Korsar ship heading towards the beach. More shots were fired but with little effect. One came in low, its goal to seize a man with hits huge talons.
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