The night had surprised the uncharted Pal-ul-don. The slender moon, curved low to the west, lied the white sides of the limestone cliffs in front of it with a soft, ghostly glow. Blacks were the shadows in Kor-ul, the Lionheart> where the tribe of the same name inhabited its chief under Es-Sat. From the opening near the ridge of the high slope, a hairy creature protruded, head and shoulders above, and numb eyes looked at the rock surface in every direction.
It was Es-sat, the chief. To the right and to the left and below, he stared as if to make sure he was not noticed; but no other creature moved on the side of the rock, no other hairy body extended from the mouth of such a cave, which in numerous numbers extended from the high abode of the chief to the dwellings of the lowest members of the tribe closer to the base of the rock. He then moved on to advance on the suddenly steep surface of the white lime wall. In the twilight of the childhood, it seemed as if a chubby woolly creature had moved along a perpendicular wall in some miraculous way; but a closer examination would have revealed that the rock had been struck by solid depressions thick in the man’s wrist, the ends of which protruded a little from the stone. Es-Sat’s four hand-limped limbs and his long flexible tail made it extremely easy for him to move wherever he wanted – like a giant rat on a huge wall. As he progressed, he avoided the caverns, going to the point of hitting either above or below.
These caves looked the same in appearance. An opening of eight to twenty feet long, eight feet high, and four to six feet deep was carved into the calcareous surface of the rock; this spacious opening was as if the porch of the home, and in the background was a three-foot-high opening apparently as a door to the inner shelter or even more of the inner closets. There were smaller openings on either side of this doorway, all the way through windows that let in light and air for the residents. Similar windows were densely visible on the rock surface between the exterior corridors as well, indicating that the entire rock side was concave into dwellings. From many such small openings, water trickled along the surface of the rock, and above the others the wall had blackened as if from smoke.
In this early environment, the great ape did not appear in the slightest disturbance, for he merged in other contexts, such as the trees humming on the rock ridge or the others who hid their roots in the moist fern underneath the gorge.
He stopped in front of an entrance to listen and then slid silently into the shadows of the outer porch as the moonlight shifted to the creeping streaks. With the doorway leading to his interior, he again stopped to listen until he calmly pushed aside the thick pulley covering the opening and stepped into the spacious protective ground that had been excavated into the rock. Light dimmed from the second doorway in the back wall. He sneaked towards this with extreme caution. His group hammer was fastened to his back from a strap hung around his neck. He removed it now and took it in his left hand.
From the second doorway began a corridor parallel to the rock wall. Here again were three passageways, one at each end and the third almost opposite that at which Es-sat stood. Light penetrated the chamber at the end of the corridor to his left. The flaming flame rose and fell in a small stone bowl on a spoon dug of the same substance; this was molded at the same time as the room was concave, rising steeply from the main floor of which it was a part.
In one corner, a stone knife about four feet wide and eight feet long was left behind the table. Soft hoists about a foot thick had been piled up here. On the edge of Lavitsa sat a young female waz-don. He held in one hand a thin toothed metal plate that appeared to be forged gold, and in the other a short stiff brush. With these, he suki his smooth, shiny fur, which remarkably resembled a seal fur. His yellow and black-striped lumbar garment was beside him on the bed, as well as gold-forged circular busts, so the rugged lines of his nudity manifested themselves in all their beauty, for though the creature was pitch black and covered with hair throughout, his beauty was not denied.
The greedy look on the master’s numb face and the acceleration of his breathing showed that he was lovely in Es-Sat’s eyes. He leaped into the room, and the young female creature looked up. His eyes immediately reflected the horror, and at the same time he snatched his lumbar garment, fitting it around with a couple of handy movements. As he took both of his breasts, Es-sat quickly stepped around the table to him.
“What do you want?” whispered another, though yes you knew.
“Pan-at-li,” said Es-sat, “your boss has come to pick you up.”
“Is that why you sent my father and both brothers out to spy on the people of
Kor-ul-Lul? I can’t stand you. Leave the cave of my ancestors.”
Es-sat smiled. It was the smile of a powerful and evil man who felt his power, and did not look pleasant at all. “I’m leaving, Pan-at-li,” he said; “but you go with me. – Es-Satin, the chief, to envy the women of Kor-ul-ya. Come.”
“Never!” shouted Pan-at-li. “I hate you. I’d rather agree to some homon than you, the beater of women, the murderer of little ones.”
The chief’s facial features twisted furiously. “Naarasjato!” he growled. “I will tame you! I will tame your guts! Es-sat, the chief, will take whatever he wants, and whoever dares to deny his right or oppose his slightest intention, he will first be tamed and then crushed like a shred of this,” and he took a stone plate from the table and folded it in their prone hands. “You should have been the first and most popular in the cave of the ancestors of Es-Sat; but now you must be the last and least, and after you have succeeded you may belong to all the men of the cave of Es-Sat. It to those who despise the love of their master.”
He stepped to grab the Pan-at, and feeling a rough hand touch, this hit him firmly in the temple with his golden badges. Without making a sound, the master sank to the main floor of the room. For a moment, Pan-at-li leaned over him, raising his temporary weapon to strike again if the oppressor showed signs of returning consciousness, and his silky-glossed chest rippled with accelerated breathing. Suddenly he bent down and removed Es-Sat’s acquisition, on which hung a sheath knife. He slid it on his own shoulders, hurriedly fastened his chest in place, and left his back above the room, keeping a watchful eye on the fallen chief.
In the closet of the outer room, just outside the doorway leading to the porch, were neatly stacked cylindrical pieces, eighteen to twenty inches. Choosing five of these, he would wrap them under the bottom of his flexible tail into a little bouquet and thus, carrying them, stepped to the outer edge of the porch. Making sure no one was seeing or blocking, he moved on to the pieces that were already on the rock wall, and climbed agilely like a monkey to the top row of pieces, which he followed to the lower end of the gorge for a hundred yards. There was a series of small circular holes above his head in three parallel rows of undercuts. Holding only his toes, he took two pieces of the bundle at his tail, one in each hand, and inserted them into the two opposite pits of the outer rows as far above him as he reached. Depending on these new fasteners, he now took a piece of the bundle from each of his legs again, still entwined to hold the fifth. Raising this member above him, he pressed that fifth piece into one hole in the middle row, and then alternately, depending on his tail, legs, or hands, he moved the pieces up into the new holes, thus taking his stairs with him as far as he rose.
At the foot of the rock, a curved tree had penetrated its time-frozen roots above the bare top holes, the last step from a steep vertical surface to a horizontal footing. This was the last way of salvation for the members of the tribe when the enemies oppressed them from above. There were three such emergency exits in the village, and at the risk of death it was forbidden to use them other than in a common emergency. Pan-at-li knew it well, but he also knew that it was worse than death to stay within the reach of enraged Es-Sat.
Upon reaching the top, the girl rushed through the darkness toward the nearest gorge, which cut the mountain’s mound a mile and a half behind Kor-ul-jan. It was Vesototko, Kor-ul-lul, to which Es-sat had sent his father and two brothers allegedly to spy on a neighboring tribe. There was a chance, a small chance, that he would find them; if he failed to do so, there was a deserted Kor-ul-Gryf several miles away, where he could desperately hide from people if he was able to dodge the horrible monster from which the gorge had taken its name; its stay there had for many generations made the local caves impossible to inhabit.
Pan-at-li sneaked stealthily along the shore of Kor-ul-Lul. He could not deduce where his father and brother should guard. Sometimes their spies stayed on the edge, other times they stared at the bottom of the gorge. Pan-at-li was puzzled what to do or where to go. He felt very small and helpless alone in the infinite darkness of the night. Strange noises hit his ears. They came from the rugged ridges of the mountains rising above him, from a valley invisible from afar, and from the nearest hilly lands, and once he thought he could hear the roar of a male griffin from afar. It came from the direction of Kor-ul-gryf. He shivered.
Then his exact ears separated the second voice. Something approached him along the edge of the gorge. It was coming from above. He stopped to listen. Maybe it was his father, or brother. It was getting thicker. He didn’t move – he could barely breathe. And then suddenly, two yellow-green spots of fire flashed on a black night, seemingly almost like a fire.
Pan-at-li was brave, but the darkness contained indefinitely horrors for him, as always for the primitive evolutionary people. Not just known horrors, but even more creepy unknowns. He had been severely tested tonight, and his nerves had strained to their extremes — they were rough, tight nerves, mild to excessive resuscitation from the slightest shock.
But this was not a minor shock. Hope for a meeting between father and brother and instead see death staring out of the darkness. Yes, Pan-at-li was brave, but he was not of iron. Brightening so that the hills echoed, he turned to flee along the shore of Kor-ul-Lul, and behind him was the devil-eyed lion of the mountains of Pal-ul-don.
Pan-at-li was lost. Death was definitely ahead. There could be no doubt about it, but it was intolerable to think of death as torn by the fear of such a species forever. There was an option. The lion was on his hocks and hitting him the next moment. Pan-at-li turned sharply to the left. Just a few steps away, he made it in that direction when he disappeared over the railing of Kor-ul-Lul. The lion, which was defeated, was able to barely stop at the edge of the abyss, straining all four of its paws into the black shadows.
At the bottom of Kor-ul-jan, Om-at led the way through the darkness towards the caves of his people. Behind him came Tarzan and Ta-den. They stopped at the base of a large tree growing near the rock.
“I’ll go to the cave of Pan-at first,” whispered Om-at. “Then I look for the cave of my ancestors to talk to my own family. It won’t take long. Wait here – I’ll be back soon. After that, we’ll go together to the people of Ta-den.”
He moved quietly to the base of the cliff, and soon saw Tarzan as he bounced up like a big fly on a wall. In the twilight, the monkey man did not separate the pieces sunk on the rock surface. Om-at moved gently. There had to be a security warrior in the lower cave floor. However, knowing the customs of his people, he knew to conclude with some certainty that the guard was asleep. Here he was not mistaken, but he still did not relax his caution in any way. Smoothly and expeditiously, he ascended toward the cave of Pan-at, with Tarzan and Ta-den watching from below.
“How does he get it done?” Tarzan asked. “I don’t see any leg support on the perpendicular surface and yet he seems to snatch as easily as possible.”
Ta-den explained the piece system. “You could get up lightly, too,” he said, “although the tail is a great help.”
They watched until Om-at was about to slip into the cave of Pan-at; until now there had been no sign that he had been noticed, and then at the same time they saw a head protruding from the opening of a lower cave. At the same time, it turned out that the peeper had seen Om-at, as he was pinting immediately up in pursuit. Without a word crocheting, Tarzan and Ta-den jumped toward the base of the cliff. The male monkey reached the wall first, and the monkey saw him jump into the lower knob protruding above him. At the same time, Tarzan saw other roughly parallel pieces in intricate rows along the side of the rock. He popped to grab one of these and pulled himself up with one hand until he reached for a new piece with his other hand; and when he was able to use his feet, he found that he was gaining a good momentum.
However, the monkey held his side well and soon pinched more and more bouncyly as the waz-don climbing above the Ta-den looked down and invented his reach just before the ho-don reached him. The silence of the gorge was immediately pierced by a dizzying cry, to which hundreds of wild threats at the same time responded as one warrior after another dived from his cave.
The alarmer had now entered the foyer of Pan-at-cave and stopped there, turning to fight Ta-Den.
Releasing his gavel from the back strap, he stood on the flat main floor of the vestibule, effectively blocking the rise of the Ta-den.
From all directions flocked Kor-ul-jan warriors towards the intruders. Tarzan, who had caught up with Ta-den, but a little to his left, saw that only a miracle could save them. Just to the left of the monkey man, among other things, an opening led to a cave that was either deserted or whose inhabitants had not yet woken up, as the porch was empty. The counselor was the vigilant mind of the Monkey Tarzan, and the fast had trained his muscles to respond to its influences. In the time you or I would spend punching the procedure, he did it, and though now only seconds separated him from his nearest opponent, he stepped into this vestibule in this short, moving moment, tangled open his long rope and leaning far outward, tossing the usual precisely loop threatening, who had already raised his sturdy club above Ta-den. The hand holding the rope stopped for a moment as the loop rushed to the target, then a quick jerk of the right wrist tightened it as it slammed into the victim’s neck, and now a powerful trick ensued, Tarzan grabbing the rope with both hands and throwing back with all the weight of his large body.
A horribly screaming waz-don derailed from the closet above Ta-den. Tarzan prepared to withstand the jerk of the falling body at the end of the rope, and as this happened, the spine grappled gratifyingly in the momentary silence that had followed the sentenced man’s departure. Unshaked by the abduction of a weight that suddenly stopped at the end of the rope, Tarza quickly pulled her body next to him, to detach the noose from his neck, for he did not agree to lose such a precious weapon.
For several seconds after the rope had been thrown, the Waz-Don warriors had remained unabashed, as if paralyzed with wonder or terror. Now one of them regained his voice and ability to think, and accusing words of slander against the strange intruder, he straight-headed rushed up to reach the ape man and at the same time demanded his companions to attack. That man was mostly Tarzan. Had he not been on the road, the monkey would have easily gotten next to Ta-den, as the latter urged. Tarzan lifted the body of a dead waz-don over his head, holding it in his cowhide while his face turned to the sky screamed the terrible challenge of the male monkeys of the Kertshak tribe, and with all the force of his giant limbs he threw a heavy body against the rising warrior. So harsh was the bump,
As those two bodies, living and dead, threw down at the base of the cliff, a great cry arose from the flock of waz-don. “Jad-guru-don! Jad-guru-don!” they shouted, and then, “Kill him! Kill him!”
And now Tarzan stood in the closet next to Ta-den. “Jad-guru-don!” repeated the latter with a smile, “Terrible man – Terrible Tarzan! They may kill you, but they will never forget you.”
“They’re not sur— what now?” Tarzan’s thought of what “they” were doing was interrupted by a sudden exclamation as two creatures locked in a deadly embrace flickered from the cave door to the porch. One was Om-at, the other his own species, but the hairs of the coarse blanket protruded like stiffs outward, while Om-at’s skin cover was smooth instead. Those two were apparently of equal size and equally apparently both of them achieved murder. They struggled almost silently, except that one or the other with an occasional growl acknowledged the new bruise.
Following the natural influence to help his ally, Tarza jumped forward to join the melee, but was stopped by Om-at’s roaring disbelief. “Back!” he ordered. “This fight is mine alone.”
The monkey man understood and stepped aside.
“It’s a gund-bar, ” Ta-den explained, “the battle of the chief . That man must be Es-sat, the chief. If Om-at kills him without help, then Om-at may become chief.”
Tarzan smiled. It was the law of his own jungle — the law of the Kertshak tribe as a male monkey — the ancient law of primitive man, who needed only the refining influences of civilization to bring forth the hired dagger and poison cup. Then his attention turned to the outer edge of the hall. Some Es-Sat warrior raised his hairy face over it. Tarzan jumped against the man, but Ta-den still beat him. “Back!” shouted ho-don to the newcomer. “It’s a gund-bar.” The man searched those two fighters, then turned his face down toward his tribesmen. “Back!” he shouted; “it is a gund-bar between Es-Sat and Om-at.” He turned again to look at Ta-Den and Tarzan. “Who are you?” he asked.
“We are friends of Om-at,” Ta-den replied.
The man nodded. “We’ll take care of you afterwards,” he said, disappearing from the edge of the porch.
The struggle in the foyer continued relentlessly fiercely, and Tarzan and Ta-den were only able to work hard to stay out of the way of the controversial partners who tore and forged each other with their hands and feet and fluttering tails. Es-sat was unarmed – thanks to Pan-at-lin – but a knife waved in the sheath of Om-at, which he didn’t even try to expose. It would not have suited their wild and primitive notions of glory, for the chief battle had to be resolved with the weapons of nature.
At times, they parted ways, just to attack each other again frantically and almost as powerfully as the mad bulls. Then one struggled upside down the other, but in that convulsive embrace he couldn’t fall alone – Es-sat pulled Om-at with him, swaying like a closet. Tarzankin held his breath. In it, they dangerously rumbled back and forth for a moment, and the result was necessary — in a murderous squeeze, the two spun down from the edge and disappeared from the monkey man’s sight.
A suffocated sigh came from Tarzan as he was attached to Om-at, and then he and Taden stepped to look over the edge. Far downstairs, the stream of two unadulterated figures was kept breathless in the dim dawn of the approaching dawn; but to the astonishment of Tarzan, his eyes did not face such a sight at all. On the contrary, those two fighters were still full of life and rushing just a few feet below him. Always depending on the pieces with two grips – hand and foot or foot and tail – they seemed to wrestle on a vertical wall as easily as on the flat main floor of the porch closet, but the methods had changed slightly; each seemed especially to punch his opponent out of his grip, to knock him down to certain death. It soon became apparent that Om-at younger and tougher was on the winning side. The commander now remained almost content with the defensive. Holding his enemy’s belt with his other hand, Om-at pushed him straight out of the rock, quickly twisting open Es-Sat’s grips with one hand and one foot alternately, while always stepping up his efforts on holiday with dull blows to his opponent’s abdomen. Es-sat was quickly getting tired, and the knowledge of a like death — as happens to every coward and reveler in similar circumstances — faded the outer gloss of the gossip, which had long been allowed to manifest in his manhood, and with it collapsed his honor. Now Es-sat was no longer the chief of Kor-ul-jan – he was a squeaky coward fighting for his spirit. By sticking to Om-ati,
Tarzan saw, and just as Es-sat got the knife pulled out of his sheath, he would drop cat-like on the pieces next to the fighters. Es-Sat’s tail had retreated back for a miserable, fatal pounding. Now several others noticed its deceit, and the wild throats echoed with the roar of rage and disgust; but as the blade rumbled toward the target, the monkey grabbed the waving furry limb, and at the same time pushed Om-at Es-Sat’s body away from him so violently that its weakened grips subsided and thanked him down to death, a momentary meteor of screaming fear.