At the Earth's Core

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 81

rushed in I found myself facing two of the
Mahars. The one who had been there when we entered had been occupied
with a number of metal vessels, into which had been put powders and
liquids as I judged from the array of flasks standing about upon the
bench where it had been working. In an instant I realized what I had
stumbled upon. It was the very room for the finding of which Perry had
given me minute directions. It was the buried chamber in which was
hidden the Great Secret of the race of Mahars. And on the bench beside
the flasks lay the skin-bound book which held the only copy of the
thing I was to have sought, after dispatching the three Mahars in their
sleep.

There was no exit from the room other than the doorway in which I now
stood facing the two frightful reptiles. Cornered, I knew that they
would fight like demons, and they were well equipped to fight if fight
they must. Together they launched themselves upon me, and though I ran
one of them through the heart on the instant, the other fastened its
gleaming fangs about my sword arm above the elbow, and then with her
sharp talons commenced to rake me about the body, evidently intent upon
disemboweling me. I saw that it was useless to hope that I might
release my arm from that powerful, viselike grip which seemed to be
severing my arm from my body. The pain I suffered was intense, but it
only served to spur me to greater efforts to overcome my antagonist.

Back and forth across the floor we struggled--the Mahar dealing me
terrific, cutting blows with her fore feet, while I attempted to
protect my body with my left hand, at the same time watching for an
opportunity to transfer my blade from my now useless sword hand to its
rapidly weakening mate. At last I was successful, and with what seemed
to me my last ounce of strength I ran the blade through the ugly body
of my foe.

Soundless, as it had fought, it died, and though weak from pain and
loss of blood, it was with an emotion of triumphant pride that I
stepped across its convulsively stiffening corpse to snatch up the most
potent secret of a world. A single glance assured me it was the very
thing that Perry had described to me.

And as I grasped it did I think of what it meant to the human race of
Pellucidar--did

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