They alit smoothly hitting the beach at a run. Both
Tamla and I were well trained in meeting strangers and put on our most
regal poses. Were we not of the ruling class of our respective worlds?
About fifty feet from us they slowed to a walk and
the two at the outermost flanks drew pistols but didn't point them at us.
The winged men were dressed in tight fitting trousers
with wide leather belts. From those belts were suspended a variety of weapons
and tools, not all of which I could easily identify and none of which were
made from metal. In fact, they wore no metal save for some tiny pieces
that were set like jewels in bone, wood or ceramic ornaments. When standing,
the wings of the jomads folded neatly against their backs giving them the
look of having a curiously elongated torso. The tails were held aloft with
the fin at the tip being pressed into service as a sunshade. They stood
about 10 feet tall each and showed a clear relationship to the green men
of the surface world in the general structure of their faces and bodies.
The face of the jomads had the same large side positioned eyes and tube
like ears as the green men as well as their slot like nostrils. The major
difference was that their tusks pointed outward sideways from their faces
or, as was the case with two of those in this group, downward and curled
like a ram's horns. This was, in fact, the style of tusks worn by the one
who addressed Tamla.
"Tamla of Helium. You have been returned to us, but
you seem to have a new aspect about your person." The language was perfectly
Tamla eyed the jomad with an arched brow. "You will
find that I am not merely the soft and frightened girl you remember, Jos
Gantos. I am a warrior now."
The jomad gave a deep and resonant laugh. "Savjoda
will be pleased! He will acquire a little warrior as well as a wife!"
"Wife!" I exclaimed.
"So he might wish." Said Tamala in a deeply sarcastic
"And Savjoda, the conqueror of Dhaimira, and very soon,
Barsoom, gets what he wishes." He then looked about the beach. "Where is
"He has been repaid for the many insults he chose to
favor me with." The princess lip was curled in contempt.
The jomad turned his eyes toward me. "You will be executed
for killing a member of Savjoda's guard."
"Pardon?" I queried. I wondered just how quickly the
sentence was to be carried out.
"It was I," said the princess, "that ran a blade through
the brute's heart."
The jomad looked puzzled. This is the time I chose
to speak up. "She killed him because he abducted her from the city of Helium
against her will!"
The winged man struck me across the face and I fell
to the ground. "Never." He said. "Never presume that Savjoda acts other
than properly! If he commands the presence of any person, then that person
must be brought into his presence."
With that, Tamla and I were lifted from the ground
and into the sky by the band of jomads. Tamla was cradled in the arms of
one of them while I was merely dangled by my wrists.
Thankfully the trip was only a few miles to a neighboring
The island was smaller than the one that we first landed
on but much more densely populated. The tiny piece of land, less than a
square mile, I estimated, had several hundreds of jomads milling around
We were placed down among a knot of the flapping and
shouting creatures. Most of them differed significantly from the members
of the party which had picked us up. They were obviously female and many
of them were pregnant. In this regard, they were different from all other
humans on Barsoom which typically laid eggs which hatched almost fully
developed young. Many of the jomad females had something that was never
seen on this world, that being helpless infants at the breast.
Tamla and I were placed into a cage that had bars made
from a very dense wood behind one of the tents that the jomads used for
homes. We were both stripped of every metal object on our persons which
left me having to hold up my trousers by hand for lack of a belt buckle
and my shoes were now held on with twisted lengths of twine. Tamla, on
the other hand was left virtually nude. Actually, I think in this case
"naked" is the more appropriate term. She looked helpless and terrified
without her harness and weapons and sat hugging herself in a corner of
the cage. For the first time, she really looked like a young girl in need
of my protection. The feisty posturing was gone.
"Tamla," I said. "The situation looks hopeless, we
are the prisoners of a band of grotesque horrors! Furthermore, all of Barsom
is soon to be overrun by the armies of this Savjoda person and no one on
the surface even suspects that they exist! The only force at work to stop
them is a pampered prince and a girl barely more than a child, both of
whom are imprisoned in this cage whose fates are virtually sealed! I will
most likely be killed and you shall be forced into a life of concubinage!
" I rolled my eyes and hung open my mouth in a comic imitation of utter
fear. "What would John Carter say in a situation like this?"
The girl looked up at me and cracked a slight smile
through her tears. I smiled back and that was all it took for her to laugh
out loud. "I still live!" she proclaimed grandly. We both laughed then,
the emotional tension of our situation somewhat eased, at least for the
The jomads milled about and fought over the pieces
of metal which they had stolen from us. At one point a couple of rather
ugly brown fish which were distinguished by having two tails each were
tossed into our cage. They were uncooked and we were hungry enough not
I asked Tamla to fill me in on as much as she could
about Dhaimira and what was going on here.
"Savjoda has told me some things and I have picked
up other parts of the story from some of the jomads.
"Dhaimira is, in many ways, a new world. Over a million
years ago, the Orovars discovered it and made contact with its native civilization.
The entrance at that time was beneath one of the oceans and a special ship,
on which was equipped to travel underwater, was used to cross from Barsoom
into Dhaimira. An Orovar general named Donak Jotar decided to make himself
Jeddak of all Dhaimira and moved a great force of men into the interior
world. Over a period of one hundred years, Donak Jotar's army wiped out
the civilization which ruled the islands of this world. His brutality was
legendary and the Orovars exiled him to Dhaimira never to return to the
surface of Barsoom. Without the metals and technology of the surface world,
Jotar's people fell into savagery and lost the ways of farming. All they
could do to support themselves was catch fish which they had to do by hand
because they had no metal hooks. As time went on, the fish learned to avoid
the waters closest to the islands inhabited by these people and they were
forced to swim farther and farther out to sea to catch their food. Those
who could not perfect great swimming skills drowned, while those who did,
lived to have many children. After many thousands of years, these people
came to have webbed hands and feet and the ability to actually breath underwater.
after somewhat longer, they stopped returning to land altogether. Their
descendants are now known as the darmayoks or fish men. They were the only
people on Dhaimira up until five hundred years ago.
"Savjoda came into Dhaimira around that time. He is
a Jasoomian like John Carter and like the Jeddak, he is also ageless. He
once told me that because of peculiarities of his up bringing, the specifics
of which he never aquainted me with, he had never been fully comfortable
with his own kind. He came here, and using the knowledge of great scientists,
engineers and doctors of the past, he set out to create a world which would
be his and his alone.
"He populated the islands with animals from the surface
and also with animals brought from Jasoom. There are islands where the
browse side by side with elephants and where tigers compete
for the same prey as banths. He has an almost Barsoomian rapport with animals.
I do not believe that he actually possesses our telepathic ability, but
I think he has something just as good. Even a maddened zitidar will do
his bidding when he calmly asks it. To help him maintain things in this
world, he used an ancient technology perfecting the work of the great Ras
Thavas to create a synthetic race of caretakers, the jomads. For the first
century or so, every other jomad child was a horrible monster, but ceaseless
experimentation finally led him to a strain that bred true. In time he
created two other races to help him build this world.
"He would visit the surface every so often to find
out about the affairs of men, but rarely stayed too long, mostly because
he could not afford to have John Carter find out that he was here on Barsoom
and discover the existence of Dhaimira."
The girl was now becoming animated in her narrative.
"I m sure that at first, his motives might have been noble, but at some
point, he became consumed with his own power in this world. All in Dhaimira
answered to him and he had to answer to no one. Savjoda is the god of this
How did this Earthman come to be on this world? How
was it that men from my planet had come to have such impact on the history
of Barsoom? First John Carter, then the great warrior and surgeon Vad Varo
and now, it seems that this man called Savjoda has called Barsoom his home
for centuries. If we could not break the bars of this cage I would soon
Breaking free was the problem of the moment and the
solution presented itself in an unexpected form. One of the fish which
had been our meal had a length of tough sinewy fiber running along its
spine. Tamla saw this and extracted it discovering in the process that
no amount of pulling would part it. Stretched to its full length and pulled
taught, it took on all the characteristics of a piano string.
When the lucky jomad who had become the owner of her
sword came by to check on us, he saw Tamla lying supine clutching her stomach.
I called to him. "Help! One of the fish must have been poisonous! Please
"This is just a trick," said the jomad.
At this point I was called upon to do some of my best
acting. "Yes. Of course, why should care? She is Savjoda's bride, not yours."
I saw all of his thought processes reflected in an instant on that ugly
face. He had a very clear idea as to what form Savjoda's wrath might take.
He cautiously reached in through the bars to poke Tamla gently with the
sword. It was at that moment Tamla sat up and threw the length of fish
gut with one end weighted with a bone from the fish to loop around the
jomad's arm. I grabbed the other end and both Tamla and I pulled with all
The jomad's hand, sword and all, was neatly severed
from his wrist which started fountaining blood. His bellow of shock and
pain was cut short when I picked up the fallen sword and ran it through
As quickly as we could, we chopped through the bars.
In a short time, we both stood again unrestrained on the ground. As I had
lost my belt buckle, I found it convienient to discard my trousers and
in their place fashioned a short kilt from the fabric of my shirt. My shoes,
also useless without their buckles, I threw out as well. I was now almost
as naked as Tamla, but what little garment I had, I could move in without
danger of tripping.
Our next problem would be to find our way off the island
before the jomads noticed that we had gotten free.