Later, while the young pharaoh was returning with Tarzan across the desert, wild fear was sweeping through the palace. 'The MONSTER has escaped!" the commander of the guard reported to the queen. "You shall die as a bearer of fearful news unless you bring me the monster's head by morning," said Nikotris. But the legend of the monster's dread power had so far filled the country that even the officers of the guard quaked in terror when they were ordered to capture him. Hours later they found the great black who was stationed outside the queen's apartment lying as if dead on the threshold. The queen awoke from a troubled sleep and cried out. The monster was reaching toward her.
The shadow of the monster had first been seen by the guards stationed in the prison yard. Then it appeared to a priest of Thoth within the palace. Panic started when it loomed suddenly in the banquet hall. The commander of the guard had seen it before reporting to Queen Nikotris. When the soldiers rushed into the queen's chamber to defend her, they found the bed empty. The monster flashed before them and disappeared -- the queen in its arms.
Meanwhile Tarzan was returning across the desert with the young pharaoh. Down wind to his keen nostrils came a strange scent. He looked and saw an odd shadow. But it was not until he and Tutamken returned to the palace that they learned the queen had vanished and the monster was loose. Ignoring a wild jumble of rescue plans, Tarzan set off alone to the place where the strange scent had attracted his attention. Searching were he had seen the shadow, he came upon a spoor of human footprints in the sand.
Tutamken, in anguish over the disappearance of his sister, the queen and the escape of the monster, directed all forces in the search. Through the dread night, crowds gathered in fear. Nobody felt safe. In front of the statue of Moloch, the priests offered sacrifices.
Alone in the desert, Tarzan followed the strange spoor. Far along he found a piece of silk. Had it been torn from the garments of the queen? As he neared the distant cliffs, he was puzzled to see dainty sandalled footprints beside those of the monster. But the spoor was lost in the rocks at the foothills of the mountains. The ape-man hastened his pace, certain that the monster had continued in the direct line he had followed across the desert. He stopped in sudden amazement as he saw in front of him -- the queen. A sphinx-like smile played about her lips. Suddenly the great form of the monster loomed in front of her. Then the ape-man was felled by an unseen force.
KAMUR: For centuries the Ibeks, a tribe of fierce mountaineers, had maintained their independence. Then in the days of the old pharaoh, with the rise of their gigantic Prince Kamur, they dared risk open warfare with the Egyptians. Almost single-handed Kamur put the Egyptian army to rout. Spreading terror, Kamur invaded the palace. But at the sight of Nikotris, he halted, spellbound by her beauty. As the price of peace he demanded of pharaoh the hand of the young princess. Readily he agreed to dismiss his army while terms of peace were discussed.
Then, when he was alone and unarmed, the Egyptians seized him. While he languished in a dungeon, the legend of his terrific strength grew in the land He was THE MONSTER. On festival days he was shown, chained and unkept, to the people. When, after the old pharaoh's death, Kamur finally escaped, he carried Nikotris, who had since become queen, off in his arms. It was Kamur who felled Tarzan with an unsean blow when he discovered the ape-man on his trail. Now he seized the ape-man's knife to strike the death-blow.
FOR THE LOVE OF THE QUEEN: When Kamur raised the knife over Tarzan for the death-blow, Nikotris rushed toward him crying out frantically. "The man you want to kill has saved my life," she said. "I will give my life to spare his."
Kamur knelt and offered her the knife, "Your life is the only thing in t he world I treasure," he said. "Your love is the only thing for which I live." With his giant's strength he seized her and pressed her to him, smothering her with kisses. Nikotris freed herself and struck with the knife he had given her. As she saw Kamur fall, a long suppressed compassion for the Barbark prince welled in the queen's heart. Tenderly she bound the wound she herself had inflicted.
The prince looked up at her and smiled. "With my last breath Oh my queen. I shall love you," he said. Through the long night Nikotris watched and prayed by the two wounded men. The dread silence was broken by strange cries from the beasts that prowled in the foothills. She did not see the stealthy form of sheeta, the panther, as he crept toward her. But suddenly the beast's yellow eyes gleamed at her through the darkness. Then sheeta sprang for the kill!
THE IBEK HORDE: The screams of Nikotris aroused Tarzan as the panther sprang. The ape-man met the animal in mid-air. But the swift impact of the plunging beast threw him back. The great cat clawed for Tarzan's throat. Suddenly the panther gasped and fell, an arrow protruded from its heart! It was an arrow of the master bowman -- the pharaoh Tutamken, who had sought his sister and Tarzan all night with a company of soldiers. The pharaoh barked an order. A soldier rallied his sword over the head of Kamur, still unconscious from the knife-thrust Nikotris had given him.
Nikotris cried out in alarm and grasped the soldier's sword-arm even as it descended. "Do not kill him! I love him!" she exclaimed. The queen threw herself at the pharaoh's feet and pleaded for Kamur's life.
But Tutamken was unmoved. "THE MONSTER must be destroyed!" he said. At the pharaoh's order, the soldier again raised his sword. Then the silence of the breaking dawn was shattered by a loud shout form many voices. An answering roar came from close beside them. It was Kamur, now awake, returning the wild war-cry of the fierce and terrible Ibeks! Wandering warriors of Kamur's tribe had spied the Egyptian soldiers. Driven to a frenzy as they recognized their long-lost ruler, the Ibek horde uttered their blood-curdling yell and charged!
The battle-cry of the great apes burst from Tarzan's throat as the Ibeks charged. It rallied the Egyptians and grimly they waited, for the Ibeks outnumbered them two to one. Behind them the Pharaoh Tutamken, drawing his sword, rushed upon Kamur.
"Die, Monster!" he shouted.
But Nikotris threw herself before the Ibek prince so that the Pharaoh could not strike.
"Do you turn against your people, O traitorous Nikotris?" cried Tutamken.
"No Pharaoh," she answered. "For Kamur alone can save us!"
The Ibek giant softened before her gaze. Quietly Nikotris spoke to him, at once he faced the charging Ibeks and roared a single word. The horses reared and plunged as the Ibeks checked their mad advance. Fiercely they glared at the Egyptians, but they would not disobey their prince.
Kamur grasped Nikotris by the hand. "The Princess comes with me, Pharaoh," he said. "It is that --- or death for all!"
"Death then it is!" cried Tutamken, "And the traitoress Nikotris shall be the first to die!"
The Ibeks shouted in savage joy of battle as they heard his words. As the warriors raised their spears to strike, Tarzan suddenly called to them to halt. The Ibeks hesitated before his commanding presence.
"All need not die, O Pharaoh!" said Tarzan. "Let the Ibeks choose the strongest man among them. Let me -- alone -- fight him to decide the issue!"
"Well said, man of the apes!" said Kamur. "I, Prince Kamur, shall be the champion of my people. Let us fight -- to the death!"
"To the death!" shouted Tutamken. "Tarzan, great shall be your reward!"
Quickly the warriors formed a ring. The giant Kamur smiled as Tarzan faced him. "Ask no quarter, man of the apes!" He said and slowly the two advanced, their hands tensed for the death-grip, their feet braced for the spring.!
The barbaric tribesmen shouted in anticipated triumph as their champion, Prince Kamur, rushed upon the ape-man. But Tarzan ducked and met the giant with a deadly blow. Kamur staggered breathless and the ape-man leaped upon his back, locking him in the steely grip that had broken the back of Numa the lion. Nikotris, torn between love and duty, could desire neither defeat for Kamur, who fought for her love, nor defeat for Tarzan, who fought for her people. As she saw her barbaric lover quiver with pain when Tarzan increased the fearsome pressure, she cried out for the ape-man to stop. But Tarzan did not loose his grip until Kamur lay like a wilted thing on the ground. Then, placing his foot on the Ibek's chest, he roared the victory cry of the bull ape at the kill. The battle was over so quickly that the watchers stood stunned to silence, all but Nikotris, who clasped Kamur to her and implored him to speak.
The Pharaoh called upon Tarzan to name his own reward for the victory.
"I ask no reward for myself, O Pharaoh," said the ape-man. "I ask it for Nikotris. Yield her in marriage to Prince Kamur." The Egyptians cried out in horror at the request. But the Pharaoh said, "So be it. I have promised only if my sister weds Kamur, she dies to me and mine. And you Tarzan, stand forever banished from my kingdom."
Nikotris pleaded for her brother's blessing, but the Pharaoh turned his back upon her and led his soldiers back across the desert. Nikotris quivered with fear as the uncouth Ibeks gathered around her and she sought the protection of Tarzan's arms. Swiftly Tarzan took command.
"Carry your Prince upon your shields," he ordered. And he followed with Nikotris as the Ibeks led the way to their mountain kingdom.
Instead of the barbaric welcome that had been prepared for the victorious return of Prince Kamur, there was grim silence among the Ibeks as he was borne home upon the shields of his soldiers. A group of Ibek women came forward to greet Nikotris and they led her away to a tent that had been prepared for her. The elders of the tribe escorted Tarzan to an adjoining tent. Around both tents soldiers were placed on guard. It was not until flat refusal met her demand to see Prince Kamur that Nikotris realized the Ibeks had made her a prisoner. In another tent the medicine men were attending to Prince Kamur. They shaved off his beard and anointed his wounds. In his delirium he kept calling for Nikotris, but his father, King Gornak, had ordered strict enforcement of the law of the tribe; the bridegroom must not see his bride again before the wedding. And King Gornak swore there would be no wedding ... for he would not have his son mate with a hated Egyptian. Nikotris bided her time and won the friendship of a handmaiden she could trust. Through her she tried to send a message to Kamur. The message was intercepted but no punishment was meted out. But when Nikotris attempted to send a message to Tarzan the girl was seized and brought before King Gornak.
"A hundred lashes!" the king ordered. As the girl's screams filled the air, Tarzan, in his prison tent heard another woman shrieking wilding. It was Nikotris calling for him. "Tarzan! Help me!"
Fearing reprisals for the imprisonment of Queen Nikotris, the Ibeks sent mounted scouts to watch for the Egyptians. The queen, meanwhile, in her prison tent was subjected to the insults of the fierce tribes women. As one of them brandished a knife in her face Nikotris shrieked for Tarzan's aid.
The ape-man hearing her voice, did not hesitate. Cutting his way through the prison-tent he hurtled past the guard outside, dashed up the side of the tent, and dropped down through the opening in the top.
"Who dares disturb the peace of Prince Kamur's bride?" Tarzan demanded as the guards surged into the tent. The Ibeks, overawed, fell back as the ape-man shouted, "Make way for the Queen Nikotris!"
Some of the scouts were returning just as Tarzan led the queen out of the tent. One of them dismounted and the ape-man saw his chance. Seizing Nikotris, he leaped upon the horse's back. He was off before the Ibeks realized what had happened. The horsemen were swift in pursuit!
A QUEEN IN PERIL: The call to arms sounded as Tarzan fled with the Princess Nikotris. Swiftly, the Ibek horsemen joined in the chase. Tarzan was well in the lead, but ht e two Ibeks who were first in pursuit were rapidly closing the gap. Ahead of the ape-man yawned a deep abyss in the rocks. At the brink of the precipice, Tarzan's horse reared in terror. The Ibeks were now close upon him, Tarzan swung his horse and charged directly between them. One of the Ibek's, unable to stop his mount, plunged deep into the abyss.
The other dashed after the ape-man. But, as Tarzan started off in the new direction, the full force of the Ibek horsemen came swooping down toward him. The ape-man turned again and headed direct for the precipice. The lone Ibek horseman stood between him and his goal. Tarzan escaped the Ibek's spear and rode full toward the chasm. As he reached it he lifted his mount for the desperate leap by which the other horseman had met his death.
Foiled by Tarzan's desperate leap, the Ibek horsemen reined in suddenly at the very brink of the precipice, while Tarzan's horse scrambled for a footing on the other side of the ravine. The ape-man hurled the Princess Nikotris to the firm ground ahead, then leaped himself and with his giant strength pulled the horse up on the bank. As he mounted and made off with Nikotris again, a shower of spears swept by them. But the attack ceased suddenly as a courier arrived from t he old Ibek king. The flight of Nikotris fitted into King Gornak's plan to prevent her marriage to his son. He smiled as Prince Kamur, still delirious, called vainly for Nikotris.
Meanwhile Tarzan, thinking the Ibeks would continue the pursuit, raced his mount into the jungle. In the jungle the ape-man felt secure. He slackened pace and led the tired horse through the thickets of the unblazed trail. He was bringing the princess -- exiled by her own people, scorned by the tribesmen of the man she loved -- to the hut he had built in the trees which was now her only home. As they entered the hut, both stopped, startled. A boy was lying there asleep.
The Egyptian Saga
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