Wilhelm von Horst
Muviro (and his Waziri warriors)
Dangar - warrior of Sari
Skruf of Basti - a warrior
Frug, chief of the Basti
La-ja - slave girl at Basti
Thorek - a Mammoth Man
Gaz - warrior of Lo-har
Torp, Gorbus chief
Durg - a Gorbus
Ah Ara, Ma Rahna - Old White, the Killer, a rogue tandor
Trog, sub-chief of the Mammoth Men
Mamth - Chief of the Mammoth Men of Ja-ru
Gorph - a Mammoth man
Truth - a Mammoth man
Mumal - Gorph’s wife
Grum - Gorph’s daughter
Lotai - Gorph’s daughter
Horg - Mammoth man
Daj of Lo-har
Brun - chief of Lo-har
Drovan - chief of the Ganaks (Bison Men)
Kru - new chief of the Bison Men
Herbivorous animals: ox-like creatures, red deer, sloths, mammoths, sheep
Trodons - Pterodactyls (marsupial reptiles)
Pteranodon of the Cretaceous
Hyracotherium - horse-like creatures of the Eocene
Tarag - saber-toothed tiger
Zarith - Tyrannosaurus Rex
Tandors - mammoths
Ryth - cave bear
Pistol & cartridge belt - von Horst’s
Wrist watch - von Horst’s
Hunting knife - von Horst’s
EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS'
Back to the Stone Age
The Members of ERBList
David Arthur Adams, Editor
David Bruce Bozarth, Managing Editor
Copyright © 2001
This novel was written in 22 chapters in 1935. It was first published as “Seven Worlds to Conquer” in six parts in Argosy Weekly, January 9, 16,23,30; February 6,13, 1937. The first book edition by by ERB Inc., September 15, 1937. [In September 1937 Hitler was impressing Mussolini in Munich, and by March of 1938 Hitler found his schedule of world conquest was up to into sending troops into Austria.) (During the writing of this novel Ed married Florence, and they had their honeymoon in Hawaii.)
The story is a flashback to the moment of the tiger-mammoth fight in Tarzan At The Earth’s Core. This time the focus is on Von Horst, and the reader is carried through his exploits up to and including the time of his discovery in the distant land of Lo-har by David Innes. By this time Von Horst has passed through a series of hair-raising perils raised by strange beasts and stranger men, has won the love of the beautiful La-ja of Lo-har, and has attained the chieftainship of La-ja’s tribe.”
CHAPTER ONE: LIVING DEATH
The story begins in flashback to the moment of the gigantic tiger-mammoth fight in Tarzan At The Earth’s Core. Wilhelm von Horst is separated from Gridley and Muviro and his Waziri warriors. Heading west instead of north to the main camp and the dirigible, von Horst comes upon Muviro and his warriors. They rest in a cave while von Horst goes hunting for a boar, and he gets lost again. He kills a large rodent and drinks its blood and eats its half-cooked carcass like a famished wolf. He sleeps, then searches for water down a game trail. At a little river, Von Horst is attacked by a pterodactyl-like reptile and carried away. He is carried in its belly pouch to its nest in the core of extinct volcano.
CHAPTER TWO: THE PIT OF HORROR
Paralyzed, Von Horst has been left with other paralyzed bodies as food for hatching marsupial reptiles. Everyone screams in terror except von Horst and another man named Dangar. Since there is no measure of time on Pellucidar, von Horst manages to learn Dangar’s language as they lie there. Von Horst is beginning to get some feeling back from the poison just as another Trodon hatches, moving toward Dangar.
CHAPTER THREE: THE ONLY HOPE
Von Horst shoots the Trodon hatchling just in time. He skins it for the meal of the next hatchling. Von Horst makes a 200 foot strap from the hide and snares the adult Trodon around the leg when it returns. He kills it just at the top of the crater, so the strap hangs down providing a means to climb out. Von Horst hoists the still paralyzed Dangar after he reaches the top. Then he carries him on his back to the valley below. For safety, he builds a walled and covered platform in the trees.
CHAPTER FOUR: SKRUF OF BASTI
Von Horst goes out hunting but a pteranodon swoops down and takes the antelope he was aiming at. He then saves a man, Skruf, from a Hyaenodon. They make friends, and Skruf tells him he has just escaped from the Mammoth Men. Von Horst kills a sheep, and together they return to the platform hut and Dangar. Skruf is anxious to return to Basti with the head of a tarag (tiger) in payment for his intended mate. Finally, Dangar looses his paralysis, and they head out for Basti together.
CHAPTER FIVE: INTO SLAVERY
On the journey to Basti with Dangar and Skruf, von Horst quickly adjusts to stone-age life. He fashions primitive hunting weapons to conserve his ammunition for genuine emergencies. Skruf and Dangar are both curious about his gun, but he insists that he is the only one who can operate it. Suddenly a tarag leaps in front of the three. Skruf hides while von Horst and Dangar manage to kill it, then Skruf cuts off the head as a trophy to win the hand of the woman he has been promised. Eventually they reach the village of Basti and are brought before Frug, the chief. Skruf proclaims that he killed the tarag and brought the other two to Basti as slaves. Astounded, von Horst and Dangar are taken up on the cliff wall to work on new caves with other slaves. They later speculate the Bastians might be cannibals.
CHAPTER SIX: LA-JA
A Bastian warrior directing the slave labor in one of the caves asks a young slave-girl to show von Horst how to do the work. He notes how beautiful she is. Talking to her, he learns she is La-ja, whom Skruf plans to take as his mate. She has no say in the matter since she is a slave. Von Horst feels a peculiar urge to help the girl. Skruf comes to claim her. Von Horst intervenes and kills a guard who responds to the commotion. Von Horst commands La-ja to get behind him, but this daughter of a chief takes orders from no man. Thus begins a romantic misunderstanding. The confrontation on the cliff face escalates and von Horst kills two more guards with one shot of his pistol. Dangar is at his side and they enlist the help of the rest of the slaves including a mammoth-man named Thorek. This fellow, however, refuses to take orders from von Horst until he is defeated in hand-to-hand combat. Using his skills as a boxer and wrestler, von Horst defeats the larger man.
CHAPTER SEVEN: FLIGHT OF THE SLAVES
by von Horst
The rest of the slaves defend their position on the cliff wall from the Bastians during the brief fight between von Horst and Thorek. Von Horst, now in charge, directs them a volley of rocks upon the enemy while ladders are lashed together to reach the cliff summit and freedom. The rickety ladders reach the top and the slaves quickly scramble up. La-ja however, refuses to go, still upset at von Horst’s manner toward her. His only recourse is a blow to the head, which renders her unconscious. He carries her up the ladder with the Bastians close behind. Reaching the top, they dislodge the ladders full of Bastians. Once Basti is far behind, the slaves stop their flight and hold council. They decide to each go their own way back to their homes. Von Horst travels with Dangar and La-ja, who use that unique Pellucidarian homing instinct to guide them. Eventually they must split up as Dangar’s path to Sari lies in a different direction from La-ja’s Lo-har, which leads straight into a gloomy, dense forest. Von Horst surprises them by announcing that he is going with La-ja.
CHAPTER 8: THE FOREST OF DEATH
La-ja's home lies in the direction of the somber and gloomy forest. She walks away; von Horst tells Dangar he cannot go to Sari because he must escort La-ja to Lo-har. Dangar agrees to blaze a trail for von Horst to follow later then leaves for Sari. Von Horst hurries after La-ja, who asks why he is following her. He replies he wants to protect her. She warns that Gaz, the mighty warrior of Lo-har, will probably kill him. She asks von Horst in which direction his home lies. He confesses he doesn't know. He cuts marks in tree trunks to find his way back to this spot after La-ja is delivered home. La-ja considers this a clever idea. La-ja remakrs this might be the Forest of Death which she has heard about, a vile unclean place inhabited by horrible people. Later, they hear shrieks and see a running naked man. But he is not quite a man; his skin and hair are white like an albino but he has canine tusks curving downward past his chin. The man is being chased by a small dinosaur resembling a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The raptor turns to attack von Horst and La-ja -- von Horts shoots, but it won't die. To protect La-ja, Von Horst attempts to distract the raptor, continuously firing, but it strikes his head and knocks him unconscious.
CHAPTER 9: THE CHARNEL CAVES
Von Horst awakes, his head on La-ja's lap, which she strokes gently. She explains he killed the young zarith and he was very brave. He tells La-ja that he likes her "a lot," but she replies that she does not like him because he is sick in the head (a reference to von Horst's constant puns and humorous asides), he is not a member of her tribe, and he orders her around as though she belonged to him. He asks if she could ever learn to like him. La-ja says "No, you will be dead before I could have time." Von Horst manages to rise to resume their journey. The ground is continuously uphill through dense forest. Eventually they encounter an insurmountable fifty foot cliff and catch a glimpse of another white-skinned figure. They continue, but feel they are watched. Exhausted, they come to the mouth of a cave. Von Horst needs sleep. The two enter the cave and fall asleep, to awaken in pitch darkness. The cave entrance is blocked by a boulder. La-ja uses fire stones to ignite a torch. They explore the cave, which turns into a tunnel leading to a chamber with stacked dead human bodies. A different passageway seems to lead up to fresh air. As they approach the exit, hands reach out and grab La-ja and von Horst.
CHAPTER 10: GORBUSES
The two are dragged into a vast subterranean room illuminated by torches, revealing several hundred strange albino humans (white skin and hair, pink and red eyes). Their faces are bestial. Von Horst and La-ja, bound hand and foot, lie side by side. The Gorbus leader, Torp, suggests their new captives need fattening before being eaten. Another, named Durg, interrupts and says the strangers saved his life when he was chased by a zarith and should be set free. Durg and Torp argue; Durg uses two English words, "cleaver" and "dagger." Von Horst is mystified upon hearing these words. Von Horst and La-ja are placed in a small cave for fattening. La-ja asks von Horst why he doesn't use his "peestol" to kill the Gorbuses. Von Horst explains he has only a few bullets left, but assures her he will use them all before allowing her to die. Durg enters their small cave and speaks with von Horst. Durg cannot explain how he knows the words "cleaver" and "dagger." He also knows "blue clothes" and "shiny buttons." Durg explains that his memories fade and he doesn't know much except that all the Gorbuses have killed something but he doesn't know why. His words imply that this strange albino tribe are being punished in a hellish forest for their bad deeds. Two new prisoners are dragged to the fattening cave, one a big blustering fellow and the other a small cowardly man. Von Horst recognizes Frug and Skruf.
CHAPTER 11: FATTENED FOR SLAUGHTER
In the darkness, Frug blusters, and von Horst taunts him using humor. Frug says he talks like a fool. La-ja and von Horst are bound back to back, so they untie each other. Von Horst gets Frug and Skruf to realize that they need to pool their strength to escape, and they agree, so he unties them. Frug promises not to kill him until the next time they meet. A great length of time passes, and they get fatter. Finally, when the inhabitants are asleep, and they all escape to the top of the escarpment and follow it, passing through the dark forest to find an open, sunlit plain. Exhausted, the four find a ledge on the cliff to sleep under, and von Horst rests while La-ja keeps guard. Von Horst awakens to find all three gone. Frug and Skruf abducted La-ja, but had kept their promise not to kill him.
CHAPTER 12: MAMMOTH MEN
Von Horst takes up the trail of La-ja and her presumed abductors which skirts the Forest of Death. After an interminable journey the forest ends and he enters a land with rolling hills, plains, and a winding river. As he tops a hill he encounters a mammoth moaning and trembling with pain as it lies on its side by the river. Sharp bamboo stakes pierce the mammoth’s foot pads, which makes walking agonizing and impossible. There is a patch of white hair on the left jowl. Von Horst’s sympathy is aroused. He removes the stakes. As von Horst moves away he is overtaken by the mammoth and is lifted by its trunk. To his surprise, instead of trampling him, von Horst is positioned on the mammoth's right side. There he find stakes embedded in the mammoth's flank which he removes. He sets out on the trail again. The beast lumbers in the opposite direction. Von Horst sees men riding mammoths coming toward the river. He discovers glowing embers of a campfire and the foot prints of La-ja and the two cavemen going into the river. Filled with rage, von Horst plunges in and swims across. As he waits, concealed behind bushes, he hears a shout and sees the Mammoth men charge after something. Peering over a hillock, the sight brings von Horst’s heart into his mouth.
CHAPTER 13: CAPTURED
Leaping out of concealment von Horst races to overtake La-ja and her abductors. Frug strikes La-ja with a heavy switch as Skruf drags her toward some trees to escape the charging Mammoth Men. Enraged, von Horst confronts and fights with Frug. The Mammoth Men separate and make them prisoners. La-ja and Skruf escape into the forest. Mounting the prisoners on their mammoths, the party spot a huge mammoth with a white patch on the left jowl, whom they call “Ah Ara, Ma Rahna ,” Old White, the Killer. It is the same mammoth from which von Horst had removed the stakes! Attempting to herd the beast, Trog, the leader of the Mammoth Men, places his warriors and their mammoths abreast. Old White charges the assembled line and bowls over two beasts. He grasps a rider and tramples him and then continues majestically on his way. Later, the mammoth-men arrive at their caves and von Horst is sent to awaken chief Mamth after other tribe members refuse from fear of being killed. Trog becomes enraged when ridiculed and tries to stab von Horst in the back. He is thrown over von Horst’s shoulder and lies insensible. Mamth demotes Trog from sub-chief. Von Horst is placed in the custody of the warrior Gorph and Frug in the custody of the warrior Truth.
CHAPTER 14: “HE DIES!”
Gorph orders von Horst up a ladder toward his cave. He jabs him in the back with his spear. Turning with rage, von Horst grabs Gorph by the head and swings him around and around before releasing him. Von Horst is introduced to Gorph’s wife Mumal, his older ugly daughter Grum and his younger attractive daughter Lotai. In conversation with Lotai, von Horst learns that Mumal is from Sari; Lotai knows and likes Thorek; and that Lotai can’t marry until Grum has a mate. He also learns that a warrior may fight another warrior without the use of lethal weapons over an unmarried female. The loser has to take the girl for his mate. At the first meal Gorph denies von Horst food and is punched in the jaw and knocked senseless. After many days of captivity, von Horst discovers Grum wants Horg for her mate and that she knows of a way of escape. Von Horst bargains with Grum to get Horg as her mate, and she agrees to show him how to escape. A gathering of laughing tribal members signify the return of Thorek. A karoo, a celebration, is to be held. Mamth decrees that von Horst will be taken to the little canyon to die.
CHAPTER 15: THE BRIDEGROOM
Despite the death sentence, von Horst and Frug join in the karoo. After a fermented brew is consumed, Grum makes known her desire to have Horg as her mate. To his consternation and dismay, von Horst finds himself battling the giant Horg. After a few punches to the jaw, a leaping double foot kick to the face, and a jujitsu throw over the shoulder, Horg lies defeated. Von Horst learns the karoo is to celebrate the capture of Old White. Later he finds Grum who tells him that his escape route is through a small opening that drops into a tunnel in the rear of Gorph's cave. The tunnel leads to the little canyon. By following a path at the far end of the canyon he can escape. Unfortunately tarags are at the end of the tunnel and remain there until prisoners are taken to the little canyon.
CHAPTER 16: OLD WHITE
Old White’s training is to commence. Von Horst accompanies Thorek to observe. Old White is chained with one leg to a log. Trained mammoths prevent him from seizing their riders. A rider mounts Old White, and he seems trained in record time. His demeanor is docile and resigned. When the other mammoths withdraw, Old White seizes his rider and tramples him. Another mounted warrior is grabbed and hurled across a gorge. Mamth realizes the futility of trying to train Old White, and the group withdraws from the gorge. Von Horst tells of Lotai’s love for Thorek. Thorek ask Mamth for Lotai as his mate but is denied and is informed that Mamth desires Lotai. Von Horst and Thorek discuss escaping to Sari with Lotai and Mumal. He also reveals the escape route through Gorph’s cave. Later, von Horst tells Lotai and Mumal of the escape plan. Messengers arrive and summon Lotai to Mamth’s cave. Lotai hides in the tunnel in the cave. The tribe gathers along with the prisoners from Amdar, Go-hal and Lo-har, and starts for the little canyon. Von Horst signals Thorek that Lotai agrees to escape. Mumal stays at the caves feigning sickness.
CHAPTER 17: THE LITTLE CANYON
Von Horst is lowered by rope to the canyon floor thirty feet below. Frug and three other prisoners are lowered and spears and knives thrown down to them. Von Horst learns from Daj of Lo-har that La-ja is the daughter of the chief, Brun. Daj kills Frug in a spear fight. Five tarags and five tandors are released into the canyon. Von Horst kills a sabertooth by impaling the beast as it leaps onto his planted spear. The other prisoners escape from the canyon by fleeing to the end of the canyon and climbing the path leading away. Old White saves von Horst from a charging sabertooth by grasping the beast and hurling it among the cave dwellers. He grasps von Horst and places him on top of his neck. Old White then charges the lower end of the canyon that is blocked by logs. With a crash and splintering, von Horst and Old White are free, making their escape from the little canyon.
CHAPTER 18: BISON-MEN
It seems a miracle that Von Horst is saved by the savage mammoth whose life he himself had saved earlier. Riding away, Von Host wants first to find La-ja, then he will make his way to Sari, thence to the outer world and home. To pass the time, he teaches the mammoth new tricks/skills; the beast proves to be a very apt pupil and a great friend and protector for Von Horst. In the course of his journey Von Horst happens upon his former adversary, Skruf, who has captured La-ja and is now being attacked by the bison-men. Now a skilled archer, Von Horst intervenes, killing some of the attackers. La-ja escapes into a forest. Riding Old White, Von Horst pursues her, but in vain.
CHAPTER 19: KRU
Von Horst pushes into the forest and enters a small canyon where he is trapped by the Ganaks - the bison-men of Pellucidar. He is taken to their "village," as a captive. There, he finds La-ja, who rejects him. Von kills Drovan, chief of the Ganaks, with an arrow, and helps Kru become chief. Kru then enslaves Von Horst and La-ja, soon deciding to kill both of them.
CHAPTER 20: THE BELLOWING HERD
The Ganaks drink a strong brew as they anticipate killing Von Horst. However, Von Horst and La-ja make a break for freedom. As they run, Von Horst throws his cartridge belt into a fire in an effort to frighten the primitive but ferocious Ganaks. Soon trapped by the pursuing bison-men, they are rescued by a mad mammoth -- once again, it is Old White to the rescue.
CHAPTER 21: DESERTED
Old White lifts Von Horst and La-ja onto his back and heads towards Lo-har. La-ja tells him what has befallen her since last they met. Von Horst wants to go to Lo-har with La-ja, but once again, she rejects and reviles him. When von Horst sleeps, La-ja leaves him. Upon awakening, he finds a mighty bear, a ryth, examining him. Feigning death, the bear leaves him but attacks Daj, who just happens by. To Daj's surprise, von Horst kills the bear with his bow and arrow. Daj agrees to take Von to Lo-har.
CHAPTER 22: GAZ
Brun, chief of Lo-har and father of La-ja, goes in search of his daughter. Gaz, a frightening brute who wants La-ja, proclaims himself chief, and goes off in pursuit of La-ja. Von Horst arrives in Lo-har, then pursues Gaz and La-ja. Finding them, von Horst fights and kills Gaz: “You’re the man I’ve crossed a world to kill.” He claims La-ja as his mate. She says, “I have been yours almost from the first, but you were too stupid to realize it.” They return to Lo-har. La-ja persuades her people to accept von Horst as their new chief. Reports soon come to Lo-har of the approach of a band of warriors armed with strange and frightening weapons. Von Horst picks fifty of his men, and goes to find and identify this approaching band. When they meet he sees they are from Sari and are led by David Innes. With them is Brun, father of La-ja. David invites von Horst to return to Sari with him--Jason Gridley might send another expedition to Sari and then take him safely back to the outer world. Seeing La-ja, von Horst turns to David and says that he is not so sure that he wants to return to the outer world.