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Chapter 20 Tarzan: The Lost Adventure by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Billy and Hanson buried poor Small in a shallow grave beside the trail. then, forcing Wilson to the forefront, they drove him through the jungle. They were uncertain of the proper direction to Ur, but Hanson tried his best to pursue his original intent, hoping it was accurate.

After a few hours, Billy spotted spoor that led them to a wide trail in the jungle. It was a well-traveled trail, and obviously not merely by animals; this trail, they could tell, was regu1arly cleared by tools, not just the pounding feet of trodding animals.

They had gone only a little bit farther when they broke off the trail and onto the road that led to Ur. Here they found the warriors Tarzan had slain. Out in the field they saw three hobbled zebras, and nearby, they found a couple of chariots.

"We could travel into Ur in style," Hanson said, pointing at the chariots.

"And when the Urs see us," Dilly said, "they kill us in style. Better to be so sneaky-like."

"Good point," Hanson said.

Billy hustled up the three zebras. He used the harness from the chariots to fashion crude bridles, and in minutes, the three of them were mounted, heading down the road toward Ur.

* * *
Kurvandi, freshened by his blood bath, rinsed clean by clear water, and was dressed in his finest purple robes and sheepskin sandals. His magnificent headdress was made of soft leather and plumes of brightly colored birds, which nodded majestically as he walked. He was an extraordinary specimen. Nearly seven feet tall, muscular, handsome. He walked with the black lions at his side, a leash in either hand. He looked very regal and noble as he entered the throne room. He took his place on the. throne, and the lions lay at his feet.

His servants came forward to fan him with great leaves. Officers of the court stood nearby, ready to respond to his every beck and call. After a moment of basking in his power, Kurvandi said: "The arena. Is it ready?"

A little man with crooked legs wearing bright-colored clothing wobbled forward. "Yes, my king. It is ready."

"Then bring this bronze giant to me for examination," Kurvandi said.

There was a low murmur in the room.

"Well," said Kurvandi. "What is it?"

"He is very dangerous, my lord," said the man with crooked legs. "He might harm you. He is quite the savage. Perhaps, my king, it is best you see him in arena."

Kurvandi wrinkled his brows. "Hurt me? The king? Me, Kurvandi. Are you suggesting that be is more powerful than your king?"

The little man with the crooked legs swallowed hard. His body trembled. "Oh, no, my king. He is a fly to you. But he is a savage, and if you were to kill him, or maim him, it would spoil the great delight you would have watching him torn limb from limb by Ebopa."

Kurvandi considered this. "Very well."

The little man was visibly relieved. "Thank you, my king."

"Miltoon," Kurvandi said to the little man. "Go stand against that wall."

"My king?" said Miltoon.

"Must I, the King of Ur, repeat myself?"

"No," Miltoon said, and wobbled on his crooked leg toward the wall.

"Good," said Kurvandi. He waved his hand at one c his guards, an archer. "Bring me a bow and arrow."

The guard rushed forward, removing his bow from it place on his back, puffing an arrow from his quiver.

Kurvandi stood up and strung the arrow to the bow. "Do we have a piece of fruit? Something round that will rest on Miltoon's head?"

A large yellow fruit was found and the bearer of the fruit practically galloped the length of the room toward Miltoon and placed it on the frightened little man's head.

"Stand still now," Kurvandi said. "Let us see if you were lying. I want to know if you truly believe I am more deadly than this bronze giant."

"Please, your majesty," said Miltoon. "You are all powerful. Everyone in Ur knows that."

"Just Ur?" Kurvandi said, puffing the arrow back to hi ear, taking aim.

"Everywhere!" Miltoon said. "They know it everywhere."

"Shhhhhhhh," Kurvandi said. "You are shaking the fruit. Now hold your breath. The truth will come out when I fire this arrow. Am I not part god?"

Miltoon held his breath.

Kurvandi let loose the arrow

Miltoon took the shaft in the right eye. His head knocked against the wall and the fruit fell forward, and Miltoon slid to a sitting position on the floor. The fruit in his lap.

"Lying," Kurvandi said. He tossed the bow back to its owner. "Run and check the fruit."

The archer bolted across the floor and recovered the yellow fruit from Miltoon's lap.

"Is the fruit bruised?" asked Kurvandi.

The archer examined it. "No, my king."

"Is there blood on it?"

"No," said the archer.

Kurvandi was disappointed. "Very well. Bring it here."

The archer once again bolted across the floor, handing the fruit to his king.

Kurvandi took the fruit and the archer bowed and moved away. Kurvandi carefully examined the fruit..

The archer was correct. No blood.

Kurvandi ate it anyway.

As Miltoon's body was dragged from Kurvandi's view, he considered the bronze giant. No use taking chances.

"Let us proceed to the arena," he said. "Miltoon was right about one thing. I would not want to injure our entertainment."

Even as Kurvandi was being carded toward the arena on a litter by slaves, his lions being led by servants, the word was passed that the giant and the captive white woman, as well as others, were to be brought to the arena.

The dungeon where Tarzan, Jean, and Nyama were held received word first, and when the husky jailer opened the door, followed by half a dozen warriors who were to provide escort for the prisoners, they were surprised.

It was a brief surprise, and far from pleasant. Its only positive element was that it was quick. As the jailer entered the dungeon and the light from the hallway flooded inside, the chain Tarzan held whipped out like a snake, and like a snake, it struck. Its fangs were the hard links that made up the chain. The impact shattered the jailer's head like an overripe fruit, and the contents of this fruit sprayed the guards and the messenger, and in that instant, a blinking of an eye really, Tarzan swung the chains, one in either hand, fast and rhythmically, taking out heads and knees. In less than an instant, four men lay dead and two were bolting out of the dungeon and down the hall. Before the one in the rear could make it to the stairs and freedom, Tarzan dropped the chains and took up a spear from one of the dead guards, and flung it. The spear struck the man in the back and passed almost completely through him, punching out of the breastplate armor he wore like a darning needle punching through cardboard.

The man fell, hit on the extended spear, did a pirouette, and went down. Tarzan realized one man had escaped. He cursed his reflexes. He felt that the time he had spent away from the jungle had affected him. None of them should have escaped.

The women grabbed spears. Tarzan kept one length of chain, looped it around his waist, found a spear and a short sword, and started up the stairway.

Had little Nkima been human, he might have spent a moment praying, thinking of the fates, whatever, for when the crocodile closed its jaws, it looked as if for Nkima the world was about to end.

But then, totally by accident, a gift from the gods, his little hand grasped a floating stick and he struck out with it. The strike was no good. Very clumsy. Which was exactly what saved Nkima's life. The stick went into the croc's mouth and lodged its jaws open. The croc, in pain, unable to snap the stick, began to thrash. Finally, the pressure of its powerful jaws did in fact splinter the wood, but by then it was too late for the croc to enjoy its meal. Nkima had thrashed toward the city wall and made it; he scampered halfway up and stopped on an outcropping of stone to look down on the crocodiles.

What Nkima most wanted to do was to yell and curse the crocodiles and tell them what a brave and courageous monkey he was, and what cowards they were, but even Nkima, who was not strong on reason, determined that this was not the thing to do.

It was important for him to be quiet. Be quiet and enter into Ur in search of his master, Tarzan.

He went nimbly up the wall and over and into the city, right between two guards marching away from each other along the wall's walkway. Neither saw him.

Nkima leapt to the ground below, sniffed the air, and proceeded.

The one who escaped Tarzan was the messenger who had carried word for Tarzan and the two women to be brought to the arena. When he raced out of the dungeon, he began to yell for help. By the time Tarzan and the two women made it to the top of the dungeon stairs, the room was filled with warriors.

Tarzan stabbed with the spear, then as quarters closed in, he fought with the sword until it snapped. Then he broke the spear in half and fought with the bladed end in one hand and the remains of the broken shaft in the other. He whacked and poked and the warriors fell. Few got up again.

Jean and Nyama fought bravely as well. Bodies began to pile up, but the ape-man and the women were forced backwards; down the length of the great hall toward an arch. They fought through the arch and down a long row of steps, and discovered to their dismay that they were being pushed backwards into a tunnel made of stone. No sooner had they been forced past the mouth of the tunnel than a metal grate was dropped, and they were trapped.

They turned and ran down the length of the tunnel toward the light, but even before they reached the source of illumination, Nyama realized where they were and said: "The arena."

They stepped onto a large field closed off by walls. It was not actually the arena proper, but instead, a waiting station. Above the walls, seated on tiers of seats, was the populace of Ur. They had been waiting, and Tarzan grimaced, knowing he had allowed himself and his companions to be herded exactly where they were meant to go. He tossed aside the broken spear in disgust.

Tarzan, Jean, and Nyama, covered in the blood of their enemies, returned to the cool darkness of the tunnel and without so much as a word, sat down and rested.

Tarzan said simply, "Do not give up. Remember. It is not over yet. We still live."

Beyond the walls, there soon came sounds. Sounds of cheering from the seats, sounds of men, women, and wild animals engaged in combat. Never had Jean heard such horrid screams. She began to tremble, but then she remembered her vow. She was going to die with as much dignity as such a situation would allow. And if the only dignity she could muster was a brave death, then so be it.

She looked at Nyama. Nyama did not appear frightened at all. She held her head up, chin lifted high, ready t face whatever came. Jean assumed that Nyama had been preparing for this day for some time, and perhaps she saw this not so much as an end to life, but an escape by death to freedom.

After a time, the arena grew quiet.

A door across from the trio opened, and in came a dozen warriors armed with bows and arrows. Their arrows were strung, their bows bent. They dropped to their knees and aimed the arrows at the three, then spoke and gestured.

"They want her," Nyama said, translating; nodding to Jean. "It is her turn."

The woman who had brought Jean to the dungeon and terrified her with the executioner's sword and the lions, broke through the ranks of archers, smiled, and pointed at Jean. She crooked her finger.

"It's as I thought," Jean said. "She was saving me for herself."

"Her name is Jeda. She hates outsiders," Nyama said.. "She especially hates white skins. And you she hates because you are a woman and not a warrior. She hates weakness."

"We should rush them," Tarzan said. "Die together. Keep them from their sport."

"No," Jean said, touching her hand to Tarzan's chest. "It is my turn. It will give you more life."

"Now or twenty minutes from now," Tarzan said. "It is all the same."

"I want to fight her," Jean said. "I can't win. I know that. But if I'm to die, let me do it fighting her. She has insulted me. They have killed my father and my friend Billy. It is the last thing you can do for me, Tarzan. The very last."

Tarzan nodded, not wishing to argue, but he had already begun to formulate a plan. It was nothing terribly strategic, but it was a plan.

The Urs were becoming impatient. Beyond the wall came a roar of disapproval from the viewers. The wanted action and blood.

Jeda began to beckon frantically at Jean; Jean, head held high, walked toward her. A moment later, two of the archers grabbed Jean by the arms and pulled her through the doorway. The others followed, and the door was bolted behind them.

"She has no chance," said Nyama. "Jeda is one of the greatest warriors of Ur. When your turn comes, what will you do?"

I shall fight to the death. I shall kill as many as I am capable of killing."

"Of course you will," Nyama said. "I knew that without asking. I am nervous. You will kill as many as there are stars in the heavens, as there are blades of grass on the veldt. And so shall I."

Tarzan looked at her and smiled. "Will you be disappointed if I kill only half that many?"

Nyama smiled nervously, tried to keep the spirit in her voice when she said: "Only a little bit."

Hunt and Jad-bal-ja hurried along the low and narrow tunnel, Hunt on his hands and knees, Jad-bal-ja slouched so as not to scrape his back on the low ceiling.

Behind them they could hear the thing attempting to scuttle through the hole, which was almost too small for its head. Almost. The dirt and rock around the opening was starting to crumble, and Hunt could bear the creature pushing its way through.

The thought of the thing behind them, coming for them, caused Hunt to push harder. The rocks scuffed and cut his knees and the palms of his hands, but he kept going. He could not see an arm's length in front of him- a hand's length, but still he pushed on, the hot breath of the lion on the back of his neck.

There came a wild and dreadful shriek from the back of the tunnel, and Hunt recognized it as a wail of both triumph and rage. The thing had pushed its way into the tunnel, and now, on its hands and knees- if those hooks could be called hands, those strange hunks of flesh and bone or chitin could be called knees- it rushed forward, bouncing off the sides of the cavern walls as

it came, snapping its jaws with a sound akin to a giant cutter slamming through wet construction paper. Its smell permeated the air, and as Hunt breathed, he imagined he was pulling that foul odor into his lungs, and that in a way, that appalling thing was becoming a part of him.

It was at this point that Hunt considered pulling loose his spear fragment, turning, and having a go at the monster. At least, that way he would die with the wounds on the front of his body, not on his back like some craven coward.

But then he saw the light.

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