I was fascinated by the Minunians. They were amazing
natural mathematicians and engineers. They were able to fix the flyer because
they had good metal tools and because they could crawl inside the works.
The leader of the rescue team, Kanadotokiahago, saw
to it that we were able to get into the air in a matter of hours.
It seemed like it was not too long before we were on
our way again to Savjoda's headquarters. The entire contingent of seven
Minunians and their mounts fit in the flyer quite comfortably with Fomas-67
The coast of the continent of Geprodna sharpened in
clarity as we approached and the towers of a city built for beings who
could fly came slowly into focus. Jomads flapped from high tower to rooftop
doorways over a network of catwalks and bridges that served as streets.
It was obvious that this city did not grow and evolve to meet the changing
needs of a growing people. It was the vision of a single planner, constructed
from the ground up as a whole concept. The industry, residences and transport
network surrounded a core that was almost all gleaming metal, more metal
than could be found in all of the rest of this world. Even from the air,
the machine's astounding complexity was apparent. It looked like a system
of gimbals, pivots and levers that controlled with minute precision the
position of a gigantic lens-shaped mass of gold colored metal. I could
just make out the hundreds of Minunian engineers whose job it was to constantly
make whatever adjustments were needed.
Fomas-67 brought our flyer to rest atop a wide tower
made of polished stone. The tower was directly adjacent to the machine
itself. "This is Savjoda s city home." Said Fomas-67.
Kanadotokiahago said, "His only home at the moment.
The jomads are protecting him. He cannot leave."
"Savjoda is being held under house arrest by his own
servants?" I asked.
"He should explain that himself." said Kanadotokiamuskas.
Fomas-67 and Kanadotokiahago led me into a great hall
that was dominated by an inlay map of all Dhaimira on the floor. The map
greatly resembled the first map made by Tamla and I on the Keltrolna coast
differing only in that this one was centered at this city. The walls were
filled from floor to ceiling with books of all types and from all worlds
written in every known language. The library of the jemdar's palace in
San Francisco did not contain as many volumes or as varied a selection.
In various places around the hall were some very black-skinned men who
were hard at work filing away or referring to several of the books. They
conversed softly in an obscure African tongue that Fomas-67 called Waziri.
These gentlemen all wore very formal clothing and had the bearing of college
There he stood upon the representation of the continent
of Bavkerna. He was a man of my own race who looked to be in very fit middle
age. His hair was worn brushed straight back and worn just short of shoulder
length. His expression was serious and his attitude conveyed the image
of great wisdom. The only other man who I had ever seen with this type
of demeanor was John Carter himself. He wore a suit of very ordinary cut,
but very rich fabric. The style seemed to be about a century out of date,
but in no way did it have the look of a costume. This was how the man was
used to dressing. Overall, he did not have the look of miscreant. He had
a simple nobility that took me a little off guard.
"Your Highness", he said, "I only wish that it was
more pleasant circumstances under which I were greeting you." He stepped
forward and extended his hand.
I ignored the proffered hand. "Where is Tamla of Helium?"
"Sadly, I do not know. She escaped from her captors."
"You are her captor, you swine!"
For only an instant, anger clouded Savjoda s noble
features, but with a deep breath, he restored himself to equanimity. Calmly
he responded, "I understand how distressed you must feel, but despite appearances,
I am only indirectly responsible for the tribulations that the princess
"I admit that I am the author of a situation which
is no longer under my control, and for that I beg the forgiveness of all
concerned. It is my greatest regret that all concerned are a number that
grows with each passing hour.
"Too much responsibility was placed in the hands of
the jomads, I understand that now. They are too simple-minded, too literal.
This is their city, I rule it, but it is more theirs than mine. I am more
their God than their head of government."
"I'm not sure I understand." I was skeptical, but willing
to let him have his say. Besides, I needed to learn as much as I could
"Of course, how could you? The jomads decided that
I should have my every wish. They have also taken an unwarranted concern
for my safety."
As the man spoke, he paced over the map crossing seas
and islands. He moved with uncommon grace and assuredness. There was an
economy in his gestures that reflected long practice. Very long practice.
Savjoda had been around a long time.
"Are you telling me that you did not kidnap Tamla?"
"Yes. I say in earshot of the jomads that I experience
loneliness, and they see to it that I have a suitable bride. I mention
that the planet would be better off with me in charge, and they invade
the surface. I say that Kivu has been in darkness too long and they destroy
"What are you talking about?!?"
"Kivu, the world within the planet Mercury. Two hours
ago, the jomads incinerated it by mishandling the dimensional doorway.
Millions died in a sudden flash. The jomads have controlled the machine
for creating the roads for many days now. They are on Barsoom, they are
in Pellucidar and they are on Amtor, Vah-nah and Earth."
Mercury destroyed? There had been a living world within
it? I was taken aback by the new information. To have a new world revealed
on its death day was strange and sad. All the human worlds menaced by the
"How did you come to gain and then lose control of
that kind of power?"
"It took a long time and luck, both good and bad, played
"I was born just over one thousand years ago on Earth
of a family from a place called England. I was lucky enough to be born
into the privileged class and unlucky enough to be orphaned from it at
a very early age in a strange land.
"I was adopted and raised by a family of what you would
consider beasts and I grew to manhood unaware of my own humanity. I had
books but no human companionship. I could read and write before I could
speak. As a result of that upbringing, I have much of the savage within
me. Although I was highborn in what was then Earth's greatest empire, in
my heart I was lord of something greater, and at the same time more intimate,
the deep and wild jungle. Not until I had attained manhood was I acquainted
with the niceties of civilization, and never did I become wholly comfortable
Savjoda paced back and forth nervously as he spoke.
"Although I was born with a name and a title, my adopted
family called me white skin, in the doyak language it is rendered as savjoda
. For the greater part of my life, it has been the only name I have been
"As I grew more experienced, I discovered that there
was little to envy in my own race. We were a people who sought to dominate
rather than cooperate with nature. In the fullness of time, which included
love, loss, riches and the attainment of power, it became apparent that
I was not aging as others of my kind do. I had heard of one other such
man, John Carter the Earth-man who had become Warlord of Barsoom.
"When the Kalkars came, I discovered a new mission
in my life, that of saving Earth's noblest creatures from their abattoirs.
"Their conquest of Earth was swift and complete, but
my home was in a remote location. It was several months before I saw my
first Kalkar. I fought them with every thing I had within me and calling
upon every resource at my command, but it was a forgone conclusion that
they must eventually win."
"What did you do?" I asked.
"I started transporting animals into Pellucidar. I
had obtained a machine which could drill a tunnel all the way into the
inner world. With the help of that device and other like minded people,
I was able to preserve some of Earth'c grandest creatures."
The Kalkars, thankfully, never discovered the existence
of Pellucidar. For most humans after the Kalkar conquest, it became little
more than a myth. It was a hundred years after they were driven from power
that Pellucidar was rediscovered, but, by then I was already in Dhaimira."
The Waziri scholars had abandoned their books to listen.
Apparently, Savjoda did not relate this story frequently.
"I was piloting an airplane on the day the sun went
out in Pellucidar for the first time. The road led me to the city of the
doyaks in Dhaimira."
Savjoda gestured toward Fomas-67. "Their world was
in trouble. The internal worlds don't hold together environmentally as
well as the external ones. The numbers of the doyaks were thinning and
resources were diminishing. They had developed an amazing science and industry
in spite of the fact that they had little metal. Almost all that they had,
had been obtained by trading with a race from the surface of Barsoom known
as the Kaldanes. They saw that my work at saving what I could of my own
world was actually working to some degree and they sought my help.
"It wasn't the first time. It was the doyaks who brought
John Carter to Barsoom. They caused the peculiar accidents that brought
Carson Napier to Amtor and Julian 5th to Vah-nah. The doyaks are the master
planners. They are the ones who knew what was needed where and at what
time. Their methods have not always been painless. It was also the doyaks
who indirectly caused the death of my human parents.
The man seemed to have lost awareness that there was
even anybody listening to his tale.
"I needed help and they made available to me the notebooks
of Ras Thavas as well as some addenda of their own. I took quite some time,
but I finally was able to design and create the first jomads based on the
Mastermind's hormads but able to reproduce themselves and combining characteristics
of Terrestrial and Martian life. They have served me with extraordinary
devotion. They built this city and followed the instructions of the doyaks
to the letter in order to construct this transport machine. My every random
thought, they treat as holy writ.
"It is true that I said that the worlds of the Solar
System would be better off if I were in charge. It is true that I have
felt borne down with the loneliness of my life, but I did not instruct
the jomads to abduct Tamla of Helium to become my wife although I do find
her to be a feisty and engaging young woman. I did not instruct the jomads
to invade other worlds."
Savjoda s voice took on an ironic tone. "The jomads,
in their wisdom, have sought to free me of the burden of day to day decision
making. They also decided that I would be safer if I did not leave my residence."
He indicated the Waziri scholars and Kanadotokiahago.
"The Waziri and the Minunians , and of course, the doyaks have all been
working on a way to free me without agitating the jomads too much. They
are already out of control, if they were to think that I had abandoned
them, any semblance of control would be lost."
I stood there close to despair. The man I thought was
my enemy, the penitent author of the greatest menace mankind had ever faces,
was also the only person who could help bring it to an end. We needed more
help and we needed it very soon.
Looking Savjoda in the eye, it was easy to see that
his desire to end this situation was desperate. This man who was once lord
of the jungle, now lord of a world met my gaze evenly. I said, "I know
who you are and who you were. There is no situation that you cannot make
better. Only your loss of faith in yourself can prevent it. Savjoda, I
must find and free Tamla of Helium. To do that, I require your cooperation."
All present nodded their heads in agreement save for
Fomas-67 who performed a peculiar gesture which may or may not have meant
the same thing.