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A Pendent World







From: Pellucidar

The Mahars set me free as they had promised, but with strict
injunctions never to approach Phutra or any other Mahar city. They
also made it perfectly plain that they considered me a dangerous
creature, and that having wiped the slate clean in so far as they were
under obligations to me, they now considered me fair prey. Should I
again fall into their hands, they intimated it would go ill with me.

They would not tell me in which direction Hooja had set forth with
Dian, so I departed from Phutra, filled with bitterness against the
Mahars, and rage toward the Sly One who had once again robbed me of my
greatest treasure.

At first I was minded to go directly back to Anoroc; but upon second
thought turned my face toward Sari, as I felt that somewhere in that
direction Hooja would travel, his own country lying in that general
direction.

Of my journey to Sari it is only necessary to say that it was fraught
with the usual excitement and adventure, incident to all travel across
the face of savage Pellucidar. The dangers, however, were greatly
reduced through the medium of my armament. I often wondered how it had
happened that I had ever survived the first ten years of my life within
the inner world, when, naked and primitively armed, I had traversed
great areas of her beast-ridden surface.

With the aid of my map, which I had kept with great care during my
march with the Sagoths in search of the great secret, I arrived at Sari
at last. As I topped the lofty plateau in whose rocky cliffs the
principal tribe of Sarians find their cave-homes, a great hue and cry
arose from those who first discovered me.

Like wasps from their nests the hairy warriors poured from their caves.
The bows with their poison-tipped arrows, which I had taught them to
fashion and to use, were raised against me. Swords of hammered
iron--another of my innovations--menaced me, as with lusty shouts the
horde charged down.

It was a critical moment. Before I should be recognized I might be
dead. It was evident that all semblance of intertribal relationship
had ceased with my going, and that my people had reverted to their
former savage, suspicious hatred of all strangers. My garb must have
puzzled them, too, for never before of course had they seen a man
clothed in khaki and puttees.

Leaning my express rifle against my body I raised both hands aloft. It
was the peace-sign that is recognized everywhere upon the surface of
Pellucidar. The charging warriors paused and surveyed me. I looked
for my friend Ghak, the Hairy One, king of Sari, and presently I saw
him coming from a distance. Ah, but it was good to see his mighty,
hairy form once more! A friend was Ghak--a friend well worth the
having; and it had been some time since I had seen a friend.

Shouldering his way through the throng of warriors, the mighty
chieftain advanced toward me. There was an expression of puzzlement
upon his fine features. He crossed the space between the warriors and
myself, halt-ing before me.

I did not speak. I did not even smile. I wanted to see if Ghak, my
principal lieutenant, would recognize me. For some time he stood there
looking me over carefully. His eyes took in my large pith helmet, my
khaki jacket, and bandoleers of cartridges, the two revolvers swinging
at my hips, the large rifle resting against my body. Still I stood
with my hands above my head. He examined my puttees and my strong tan
shoes--a little the worse for wear now. Then he glanced up once more
to my face. As his gaze rested there quite steadily for some moments I
saw recognition tinged with awe creep across his countenance.

Presently without a word he took one of my hands in his and dropping to
one knee raised my fingers to his lips. Perry had taught them this
trick, nor ever did the most polished courtier of all the grand courts
of Europe perform the little act of homage with greater grace and
dignity.

Quickly I raised Ghak to his feet, clasping both his hands in mine. I
think there must have been tears in my eyes then--I know I felt too
full for words. The king of Sari turned toward his warriors.

"Our emperor has come back," he announced. "Come hither and--"

But he got no further, for the shouts that broke from those savage
throats would have drowned the voice of heaven itself. I had never
guessed how much they thought of me. As they clustered around, almost
fighting for the chance to kiss my hand, I saw again the vision of
empire which I had thought faded forever.

With such as these I could conquer a world. With such as these I WOULD
conquer one! If the Sarians had remained loyal, so too would the
Amozites be loyal still, and the Kalians, and the Suvians, and all the
great tribes who had formed the federation that was to emancipate the
human race of Pellucidar.

Perry was safe with the Mezops; I was safe with the Sarians; now if
Dian were but safe with me the future would look bright indeed.

It did not take long to outline to Ghak all that had befallen me since
I had departed from Pellucidar, and to get down to the business of
finding Dian, which to me at that moment was of even greater importance
than the very empire itself.

When I told him that Hooja had stolen her, he stamped his foot in rage.

"It is always the Sly One!" he cried. "It was Hooja who caused the
first trouble between you and the Beautiful One.

"It was Hooja who betrayed our trust, and all but caused our recapture
by the Sagoths that time we escaped from Phutra.

"It was Hooja who tricked you and substituted a Mahar for Dian when you
started upon your return journey to your own world.

"It was Hooja who schemed and lied until he had turned the kingdoms one
against another and destroyed the federation.

"When we had him in our power we were foolish to let him live. Next
time--"

Ghak did not need to finish his sentence.

"He has become a very powerful enemy now," I replied. "That he is
allied in some way with the Mahars is evidenced by the familiarity of
his relations with the Sagoths who were accompanying me in search of
the great secret, for it must have been Hooja whom I saw conversing
with them just before we reached the valley. Doubtless they told him
of our quest and he hastened on ahead of us, discovered the cave and
stole the document. Well does he deserve his appellation of the Sly
One."

With Ghak and his head men I held a number of consultations. The
upshot of them was a decision to combine our search for Dian with an
attempt to rebuild the crumbled federation. To this end twenty
warriors were despatched in pairs to ten of the leading kingdoms, with
instructions to make every effort to discover the whereabouts of Hooja
and Dian, while prosecuting their missions to the chieftains to whom
they were sent.

Ghak was to remain at home to receive the various delegations which we
invited to come to Sari on the business of the federation. Four
hundred warriors were started for Anoroc to fetch Perry and the
contents of the prospector, to the capitol of the empire, which was
also the principal settlements of the Sarians.

At first it was intended that I remain at Sari, that I might be in
readiness to hasten forth at the first report of the discovery of Dian;
but I found the inaction in the face of my deep solicitude for the
welfare of my mate so galling that scarce had the several units
departed upon their missions before I, too, chafed to be actively
engaged upon the search.

It was after my second sleep, subsequent to the departure of the
warriors, as I recall that I at last went to Ghak with the admission
that I could no longer support the intolerable longing to be personally
upon the trail of my lost love.

Ghak tried to dissuade me, though I could tell that his heart was with
me in my wish to be away and really doing something. It was while we
were arguing upon the subject that a stranger, with hands above his
head, entered the village. He was immediately surrounded by warriors
and conducted to Ghak's presence.

The fellow was a typical cave man--squat muscular, and hairy, and of a
type I had not seen before. His features, like those of all the
primeval men of Pellucidar, were regular and fine. His weapons
consisted of a stone ax and knife and a heavy knobbed bludgeon of wood.
His skin was very white.

"Who are you?" asked Ghak. "And whence come you?"

"I am Kolk, son of Goork, who is chief of the Thurians," replied the
stranger. "From Thuria I have come in search of the land of Amoz,
where dwells Dacor, the Strong One, who stole my sister, Canda, the
Grace-ful One, to be his mate.

"We of Thuria had heard of a great chieftain who has bound together
many tribes, and my father has sent me to Dacor to learn if there be
truth in these stories, and if so to offer the services of Thuria to
him whom we have heard called emperor."

"The stories are true," replied Ghak, "and here is the emperor of whom
you have heard. You need travel no farther."

Kolk was delighted. He told us much of the wonderful resources of
Thuria, the Land of Awful Shadow, and of his long journey in search of
Amoz.

"And why," I asked, "does Goork, your father, desire to join his
kingdom to the empire?"

"There are two reasons," replied the young man. "Forever have the
Mahars, who dwell beyond the Lidi Plains which lie at the farther rim
of the Land of Awful Shadow, taken heavy toll of our people, whom they
either force into lifelong slavery or fatten for their feasts. We have
heard that the great emperor makes successful war upon the Mahars,
against whom we should be glad to fight.

"Recently has another reason come. Upon a great island which lies in
the Sojar Az, but a short distance from our shores, a wicked man has
collected a great band of outcast warriors of all tribes. Even are
there many Sagoths among them, sent by the Mahars to aid the Wicked One.

"This band makes raids upon our villages, and it is constantly growing
in size and strength, for the Mahars give liberty to any of their male
prisoners who will promise to fight with this band against the enemies
of the Mahars. It is the purpose of the Mahars thus to raise a force
of our own kind to combat the growth and menace of the new empire of
which I have come to seek information. All this we learned from one of
our own warriors who had pretended to sympathize with this band and had
then escaped at the first opportunity."

"Who could this man be," I asked Ghak, "who leads so vile a movement
against his own kind?"

"His name is Hooja," spoke up Kolk, answering my question.

Ghak and I looked at each other. Relief was written upon his
countenance and I know that it was beating strongly in my heart. At
last we had discovered a tangible clue to the whereabouts of Hooja--and
with the clue a guide!

But when I broached the subject to Kolk he demurred. He had come a
long way, he explained, to see his sister and to confer with Dacor.
Moreover, he had instructions from his father which he could not ignore
lightly. But even so he would return with me and show me the way to
the island of the Thurian shore if by doing so we might accomplish
anything.

"But we cannot," he urged. "Hooja is powerful. He has thousands of
warriors. He has only to call upon his Mahar allies to receive a
countless horde of Sagoths to do his bidding against his human enemies.

"Let us wait until you may gather an equal horde from the kingdoms of
your empire. Then we may march against Hooja with some show of success.

"But first must you lure him to the mainland, for who among you knows
how to construct the strange things that carry Hooja and his band back
and forth across the water?

"We are not island people. We do not go upon the water. We know
nothing of such things."

I couldn't persuade him to do more than direct me upon the way. I
showed him my map, which now included a great area of country extending
from Anoroc upon the east to Sari upon the west, and from the river
south of the Mountains of the Clouds north to Amoz. As soon as I had
explained it to him he drew a line with his finger, showing a sea-coast
far to the west and south of Sari, and a great circle which he said
marked the extent of the Land of Awful Shadow in which lay Thuria.

The shadow extended southeast of the coast out into the sea half-way to
a large island, which he said was the seat of Hooja's traitorous
government. The island itself lay in the light of the noonday sun.
Northwest of the coast and embracing a part of Thuria lay the Lidi
Plains, upon the northwestern verge of which was situ-ated the Mahar
city which took such heavy toll of the Thurians.

Thus were the unhappy people now between two fires, with Hooja upon one
side and the Mahars upon the other. I did not wonder that they sent
out an appeal for succor.

Though Ghak and Kolk both attempted to dissuade me, I was determined to
set out at once, nor did I delay longer than to make a copy of my map
to be given to Perry that he might add to his that which I had set down
since we parted. I left a letter for him as well, in which among other
things I advanced the theory that the Sojar Az, or Great Sea, which
Kolk mentioned as stretching eastward from Thuria, might indeed be the
same mighty ocean as that which, swinging around the southern end of a
continent ran northward along the shore opposite Phutra, mingling its
waters with the huge gulf upon which lay Sari, Amoz, and Greenwich.

Against this possibility I urged him to hasten the building of a fleet
of small sailing-vessels, which we might utilize should I find it
impossible to entice Hooja's horde to the mainland.

I told Ghak what I had written, and suggested that as soon as he could
he should make new treaties with the various kingdoms of the empire,
collect an army and march toward Thuria--this of course against the
possibility of my detention through some cause or other.

Kolk gave me a sign to his father--a lidi, or beast of burden, crudely
scratched upon a bit of bone, and be-neath the lidi a man and a flower;
all very rudely done perhaps, but none the less effective as I well
knew from my long years among the primitive men of Pellucidar.

The lidi is the tribal beast of the Thurians; the man and the flower in
the combination in which they appeared bore a double significance, as
they constituted not only a message to the effect that the bearer came
in peace, but were also Kolk's signature.

And so, armed with my credentials and my small arsenal, I set out alone
upon my quest for the dearest girl in this world or yours.

Kolk gave me explicit directions, though with my map I do not believe
that I could have gone wrong. As a matter of fact I did not need the
map at all, since the principal landmark of the first half of my
journey, a gigantic mountainpeak, was plainly visible from Sari, though
a good hundred miles away.

At the southern base of this mountain a river rose and ran in a
westerly direction, finally turning south and emptying into the Sojar
Az some forty miles northeast of Thuria. All that I had to do was
follow this river to the sea and then follow the coast to Thuria.

Two hundred and forty miles of wild mountain and primeval jungle, of
untracked plain, of nameless rivers, of deadly swamps and savage
forests lay ahead of me, yet never had I been more eager for an
adventure than now, for never had more depended upon haste and success.

I do not know how long a time that journey required, and only half did
I appreciate the varied wonders that each new march unfolded before me,
for my mind and heart were filled with but a single image--that of a
perfect girl whose great, dark eyes looked bravely forth from a frame
of raven hair.

It was not until I had passed the high peak and found the river that my
eyes first discovered the pendent world, the tiny satellite which hangs
low over the surface of Pellucidar casting its perpetual shadow always
upon the same spot--the area that is known here as the Land of Awful
Shadow, in which dwells the tribe of Thuria.

From the distance and the elevation of the highlands where I stood the
Pellucidarian noonday moon showed half in sunshine and half in shadow,
while directly be-neath it was plainly visible the round dark spot upon
the surface of Pellucidar where the sun has never shone. From where I
stood the moon appeared to hang so low above the ground as almost to
touch it; but later I was to learn that it floats a mile above the
surface--which seems indeed quite close for a moon.

Following the river downward I soon lost sight of the tiny planet as I
entered the mazes of a lofty forest. Nor did I catch another glimpse
of it for some time--several marches at least. However, when the river
led me to the sea, or rather just before it reached the sea, of a
sudden the sky became overcast and the size and luxuriance of the
vegetation diminished as by magic--as if an omni-potent hand had drawn
a line upon the earth, and said:

"Upon this side shall the trees and the shrubs, the grasses and the
flowers, riot in profusion of rich colors, gigantic size and
bewildering abundance; and upon that side shall they be dwarfed and
pale and scant."

Instantly I looked above, for clouds are so uncommon in the skies of
Pellucidar--they are practically unknown except above the mightiest
mountain ranges--that it had given me something of a start to discover
the sun obliterated. But I was not long in coming to a realization of
the cause of the shadow.

Above me hung another world. I could see its mountains and valleys,
oceans, lakes, and rivers, its broad, grassy plains and dense forests.
But too great was the distance and too deep the shadow of its under
side for me to distinguish any movement as of animal life.

Instantly a great curiosity was awakened within me. The questions
which the sight of this planet, so tantalizingly close, raised in my
mind were numerous and unanswerable.

Was it inhabited?

If so, by what manner and form of creature?

Were its people as relatively diminutive as their little world, or were
they as disproportionately huge as the lesser attraction of gravity
upon the surface of their globe would permit of their being?

As I watched it, I saw that it was revolving upon an axis that lay
parallel to the surface of Pellucidar, so that during each revolution
its entire surface was once exposed to the world below and once bathed
in the heat of the great sun above. The little world had that which
Pellucidar could not have--a day and night, and--greatest of boons to
one outer-earthly born--time.

Here I saw a chance to give time to Pellucidar, using this mighty
clock, revolving perpetually in the heavens, to record the passage of
the hours for the earth below. Here should be located an observatory,
from which might be flashed by wireless to every corner of the empire
the correct time once each day. That this time would be easily
measured I had no doubt, since so plain were the landmarks upon the
under surface of the satellite that it would be but necessary to erect
a simple instrument and mark the instant of passage of a given landmark
across the instrument.

But then was not the time for dreaming; I must devote my mind to the
purpose of my journey. So I hastened onward beneath the great shadow.
As I advanced I could not but note the changing nature of the
vegetation and the paling of its hues.

The river led me a short distance within the shadow before it emptied
into the Sojar Az. Then I continued in a southerly direction along the
coast toward the village of Thuria, where I hoped to find Goork and
deliver to him my credentials.

I had progressed no great distance from the mouth of the river when I
discerned, lying some distance at sea, a great island. This I assumed
to be the stronghold of Hooja, nor did I doubt that upon it even now
was Dian.

The way was most difficult, since shortly after leaving the river I
encountered lofty cliffs split by numerous long, narrow fiords, each of
which necessitated a considerable detour. As the crow flies it is
about twenty miles from the mouth of the river to Thuria, but be-fore I
had covered half of it I was fagged. There was no familiar fruit or
vegetable growing upon the rocky soil of the cliff-tops, and I would
have fared ill for food had not a hare broken cover almost beneath my
nose.

I carried bow and arrows to conserve my ammunition-supply, but so quick
was the little animal that I had no time to draw and fit a shaft. In
fact my dinner was a hundred yards away and going like the proverbial
bat when I dropped my six-shooter on it. It was a pretty shot and when
coupled with a good dinner made me quite contented with myself.

After eating I lay down and slept. When I awoke I was scarcely so
self-satisfied, for I had not more than opened my eyes before I became
aware of the presence, barely a hundred yards from me, of a pack of
some twenty huge wolf-dogs--the things which Perry insisted upon
calling hyaenodons--and almost simultaneously I discovered that while I
slept my revolvers, rifle, bow, arrows, and knife had been stolen from
me.

And the wolf-dog pack was preparing to rush me.





Next: From Plight To Plight

Previous: Surprises



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