Exploring the Life and Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs
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THE NEW CITY
DAVID BRUCE BOZARTH
Copyright © 2003
Ras Thavas sat at the bedside of his only friend. "You are dying, Vad Varo. I can do nothing more to stop or reverse the aging of your Jasoomian body."
"There is nothing that can be done, Master," the white-haired man replied. "It is my natural time." The prince of Duhor's limbs were skeleton-thin beneath the warm covering of orluk furs. "Where is she?"
"In the garden, weeping." The master mind of Barsoom leaned close, pleading. "You must let me do the procedure! I cannot bear her grief, though I know she never shows that to you. She is grieving, dear Vad Varo. And," Ras Thavas added in a hushed whisper, "I, too, am grieving! I, who have lived a thousand years and will live another thousand because of you, find it impossible to believe an intellect as sharp and vibrant as yours will soon perish."
There was little strength in the collection of bones and tissue which was all that remained of Ulysses Paxton's body, but there was enough that he turned his face to the scientist. "We have spoken of this day for years, my mentor and friend. You know how I feel, you know my beliefs. I"
Ras Thavas laid a gentle hand upon the withered shoulder of his patient. "I do know and understand and I have worked day and night to find a solution." The handsome red man leaned close to urgently speak. "I have found a way to save you!"
Vad Varo's trembling claw-like hand reached up to grip Ras Thavas' neck. "What do you mean?"
Ras Thavas took Vad Varo's hand in his, gripping firmly with his conviction and excitement. "I have perfected the cloning of bodies from ordinary cells. I canand have!created physically perfect specimens which do not have brain or sentience. I can give you a new body as you once did for me. Your body would be more perfect than mine," the scientist said with downcast eyes, "because no living brain and life experience would be unjustly terminated. It was you who stirred my dusty thoughts and reminded me of what being human means.
"There is not a day which passes that I do not think of the poor soul I murdered to obtain the body I now wear. I know your horror of duplicating my unholy act merely to save your own life as your life comes to its natural end. I have thought of your horror for the last few years, and yet could not bear to lose you. Because of that I have bent every effort and expense to prolong your life and keep you free from my regrets."
Ras Thavas held his emotions in check, though his voice was an urgent whisper: "Vad Varo. I have done it! The body into which I might transplant your brain is human in all regards except that no brain or spark of life ever animated it!"
For a long moment Vad Varo lay with eyes closed, his breathing shallow. "Why do you do this?" the fragile voice asked.
Ras Thavas' eyes misted. "Because only you have been my friend and understood my scientific madnessand because you have forgiven my insanity of that time. I treasure our friendship beyond words. I cannot let you go!"
A thin smile touched the aged Vad Varo's face. "I, too, love you, master. You taught me many extraordinary things. Though I initially hated you I came to understand your intellect and bizarre experiments, even those which put human brains in animal bodies, or animal brains in human bodies. Your life, since Phundahl, has been exemplary. All Barsoom has benefitted from your knowledge and dedication. I have been very proud! But," Vad Varo struggled for breath, "Master, it is my time to depart the mortal coil and"
Ras Thavas gently shook his apprentice's bony shoulders with anguish. "Your light must not perish, Vad Varo! Barsoom itself will diminish if you do not take this chance. Worse," the master mind said in a choked voice, "I would not see Valla Dia take her own life rather than be parted from you. Poor girl! A lifespan of 1,000 years means nothing to her because the last 40 years have meant so much.
"Damn your Jasoomian body! Damn you for letting us love you! I am not so emotional as your princess, Vad Varo, but even I shall miss your wit and knowledge. I will not kill myself because you have died so prematurelybut it does tear at my heart to think of pure Valla Dia dead by her own hand should she choose to end her sorrow permanently."
The earthling's eyes grew wide, his mouth twisted with despair. "I have told her many times I am not ageless like John Carter. I"
Ras Thavas narrowed his eyes. His voice was unrelenting. "She has watched you age as no other Barsoomian has aged with as much frustration and sorrow as I have endured. Listen to me! Your determined acceptance of Jasoomian biological destruction because of a 'life span' will affect the lives of many who love and depend on youand may take the life of your princess! Can you peacefully expire with all that hanging on your head?" Ras Thavas forcefully repressed his distress, though his emotional strain was obvious. "I would gladly shake sense into you if such would not kill"
"Master?" Vad Varo's weak voice stilled the master mind's outburst.
Hope surged through the master mind's breast. "Yes! No brain! A perfect cavity for your precious intellect! The functions are"
"Tell me later," Vad Varo sighed. "Tell me after you have done the procedure."
Ras Thavas, the most prominent mind on Barsoom, knelt by the bedside of Vad Varo and openly wept. Cradling the fragile bones of the earthman in his arms he said, "Tomorrow your life will be different. I promise!"
"I don't care if I am ugly, but perhaps Valla Dia might"
"You won't be, my fine fellow! This is not a hormad body but is cloned from a true son of Barsoom, a body that will carry you forward for a thousand years. Dar Tarus of Phundahl supplied the cells. You will be handsome!"
Vad Varo's raspy breath echoed in the hospital room for several moments. "He is a handsome man. Will I look like him? Will Valla Dia look upon me as she has these many years?"
"Vad Varo, please trust me. Dar Tarus supplied the basic material, but I have done all that I could to engineer this body to be as close to yours as I could. There are some differencessuch as green eyes rather than brown, and yellow hair rather than blackbut the strong nose, square chin, the high browthat came through. As for Valla Dia, she, like you once learned as you loved her in the pits of old Thavas, will love your heart and mind. That which is your heart will shine through regardless of what body you might wear. Tomorrow. Tomorrow is a new day for Vad Varo."
Ras Thavas kissed the cheek of Vad Varo as he waved technicians to enter the room. "Tomorrow!"
Ras Thavas looked upon the figure in the bed. The morning light filled the window as he shook the man's shoulder. "Wake up."
The patient's eyes opened. Rising to sit on the edge of the bed the man looked upon his hands, then his muscular body. He rose, standing on sturdy legs. The powerful figure was well over six foot in height. He flexed his arms and shoulders. "Functional," the strong voice stated. "Dexterous. How ugly am I?"
"There's a mirror over there," Ras Thavas gestured.
A moment later the young man turned to embrace the master mind. "Magic! It can only be magic you have done! I thought I had learned your secrets long ago..." Pressing his hands to his face, Vad Varo wept.
"You are a handsome man," Ras Thavas said, unsure of Vad Varo's reaction.
"Valla DiaI must see her. I"
"She is there, my friend. Behind you."
The man with the new face turned. His youthful body quivered as he looked upon the only woman he had ever loved. For a moment he was speechless. "Valla Dia," he croaked, clasping his hands in supplication.
The gorgeous princess of Duhor stepped forward. She took his hands in hers and gazed into his eyes. "It was never your body that I loved, Vad Varo, it was ever your heart and mind. I see you in your eyes and I"
"Just hold me," Vad Varo sobbed. "Just hold me!"
"This body should last a thousand years," Ras Thavas said as he put away his instruments following his final examination a month after the operation. He smiled, as did his patient.
"You are ever the master mind of Barsoom," Vad Varo said. "Though I appear a magician of medicine to the people of my nation, I will ever be the apprentice in your light."
Ras Thavas laughed. "Go to your woman. Love her. Go to your nation. Go!"
Vad Varo embraced his teacher with a smile. "I will. Thank you!"
Ras Thavas watched his friend leave the room, catch up his wife in strong arms, and run down the corridor. He added in a soft voice, "Go have a good life."
Vad Varo and Valla Dia returned to Duhor, which nation cheered to see their beloved master physician returned to full health. A year later there was an egg atop the royal palace. That same year Vad Varo's brilliant mind located the virus attacking the thoat herds of Duhor and created a vaccine to cure infestations.
My Dear Ras Thavas,
I cannot adequately say how grateful I am that you once shared your generous knowledge. Because of you I have been of service to my people.
Because of you I have a son and enough years to see him grow up. We named him in your honor. When Thavas Vad completes his education and takes his place in the Dance of Barsoom, I hope that you will be there to share our joy.
Ras Thavas wrote in return:
What I taught you was for selfish reasons. Some mysterious fate brought us together that I might teach you enough to fulfill a mad plan of mine. That same fate allowed you to teach me how vain and wrong was that plan. You are the best part of all my accumulated knowledge.
I will attend Thavas Vad's entrance to adulthood and reserve the right to spoil him with a gift extravagant.
I know now what I must do with the rest of my life. I am going to be of service to MY people. It is time to reclaim Thavas from the swamps and destruction.
The massive airship led two lesser vessels at low altitude over the western end of the Toonolian Marsh. Below the mighty keel a riot of vegetation choked the narrow waterways between dozens of tiny islands so overgrown to virtually render them invisible. At the bow, confident in the pilot's abilities to locate the island sought, stood Ras Thavas. At the master mind's side stood a small group of men; tall, intent, and masters of their respective fields.
"The eco-system has been damaged," a scientist observed. "The bombing and fire attacks destroyed too many of the natural controls. Weed has overrun the islands. The waterways are choked and stagnation has destroyed many areas. How shall we ever get started?"
"We shall do what is necessary," Ras Thavas replied. He looked upon the mass of vegetation with a sad frown, for what he saw below had been wrought by his hand sixty years earlier. The Island of Thavas had been the family home for thousands of years, but was destroyed by battle and fire to eradicate the hormad threat, a threat that might have destroyed Barsoom, and was a threat that occurred when Ras Thavas' experiments in artificial life had run amok.
The scientists, the ship's crew, and the squad of warriors watched the regal figure of Ras Thavas as he stood at the gunwale. For a long moment the master mind of Barsoom stood with bowed head. They knew the story. They knew why they were there. They also wondered what Ras Thavas might do, given the ugly terrain. They did not wait long because the master mind of Barsoom took a deep breath and turned.
"Small steps first, gentlemen." Beckoning, the scientists and padwar of the warriors approached. Ras Thavas spoke with confidence. "The ships will make a burn there, a quarter haad square. Tomorrow we pitch tents and off load supplies. Padwar, your men will establish a perimeter against beasts. You may need to return to Toonol or Phundahl for more panthans." A purse was handed to the lieutenant.
"As you command," the padwar replied.
"Fire will clear the immediate area," Ras Thavas spoke to the scientists, "but we need something more permanent to deal with the weed. I need natural controls, gentlemen. For Thavas to rise again–and endurewe dare not attempt artificial manipulation of the eco-system. Weed was controlled by natural means before the burn. We must make that happen again."
Two men stepped forward. "We know what you seek, master. A small flyer and two men to help us collect specimens from other parts of the marsh. We will re-introduce the animals and insects which feed on the weed spores. Adult growth must be cut down by hand. The cuttings can be shredded and turned into paper."
Ras Thavas glanced toward the ship's captain, who nodded. "A flyer and," the captain held up three fingers, "three thans. This will be slow work but will be more permanent. Meanwhile, we will burn as necessary."
The master mind of Barsoom let a small smile touch his lips. "Now that we are here, now that I have seen Thavas, I must confess, my friends, that my planas complete as I hoped it would beis deficient."
"Nay!" a voice cried. "We looked over the plan and"
Ras Thavas raised his hand with a laugh. "Thank you. But we forgot something."
"What?" someone asked.
"Calots. The beasts of the Toonolian Marsh are always hungry and senses better than our own are needed. Next supply run bring a half dozen calots."
Ras Thavas began anewa dozen tents on a bit of rock cleansed by fire. At Ras Thavas' side were dozens of the best minds of Barsoom. They implemented his vision and science. As the cleared area increased Vad Varo sent three companies of Duhorian warriors to help defend the reconstruction project against the natural dangers of the marsh as well as several attempts to annex the island by Toonol.
Land was reclaimed, waterways were cleared, endangered wildlife was revitalized, even the most dangerous and deadly. The people of Thavas began to return and the tent encampment evolved. Tents were replaced with thirty mud and stone buildings, then a more ambitious reconstruction of Thavas with a wall and gates fashioned from concrete was begun.
Ras Thavas often labored with the peoplehis hands were as dirty and his back as bent. A story circulated among the people was that when a man asked why Ras Thavas, the master mind of Barsoom, worked as ordinary labor the reply was: "It is my home. I hope it will be your home."
Ras Thavas had learned that his brilliance and knowledge was not all encompassing. His time with Vad Varo, and later with John Carter, had given the ageless intellect new insight. Ras Thavas could not ignore the renewed vitality of his new body and each breath reminded him of his one time insane selfishness. Ras Thavas knew he was not the master mindmerely a skilled old man who had managed to acquire a new body, a body whose brain he had discarded and destroyed.
Dear Vad Varo,
I have lived beyond my time. I murdered a man for my benefit. I know that in my late years I facilitated many wrongs and deaths for recompense and research. I forced you to put my brain in the body of an innocent. Years ago we reconciled in this regard, but of late I am more troubled. I do not sleep well. I cannot forget the man nor the brain I murdered to give me new life! How can I forget, or forgive myself, or justify that insane action?
There is no justification. Ever. All I can do is make amends and always serve Barsoom.
I shall do this. The Isle of Thavas is recovering. We accept all refugees from Toonol's harsh government, and weed out the criminal element afterward. Mu Tel, after the turnover of rulers in Toonol, has proved to be as inflexible as Vobis Kan. Meanwhile, I treat the wounds and infection of those fleeing the regime, but I do not offer new life by transplantyou and I have agreed on the irrationality of that!and some have died. Those who respond to treatment are the most hardworking of all the new citizens, for Thavas is not just a place to live, it is something new on Barsoom, a place where all are equal if they are equal to commonsense and common desire: health, happiness, and home.
Your warriors have been our salvation. Even as I write this letter in my study the Duhor padwars are training our people. Soon we will have three hundred trained to defend Thavas. I know how I might thank the Duhor commander. He has his eye on one of the girls we rescued from the outer islands. If he makes the proposal and she accepts would it be inappropriate if I gift the gold chains and collars of marriage? I ask this because regardless of my intellect and knowledge, I have never married. I never gave much notice of people. I now realize I led a very austere and inflexible life. I am fascinated by the continual forming of relationships and families among the people. Why had I never observed that before?
You would not recognize the island, dear friend! Water channels have been restructured and three islands have been connected by dredge and transport. The weed is in decline. The aquatic life is returning. Twenty-thousand men, women, and children. Has it been ten years since I embarked on this venture? I will never again need a conscience since the one I have now gives me nightmares.
Your nightmares need subside. I know you will never forget, but you should also remember that your work has been for the benefit Barsoom for nearly a thousand yearswith a brief span of madness that even I can understand. You now have another thousand years to continue your efforts. I will do my part for whatever time I have, but I depend on you to lead us. Gold chain appropriate. The rebuilding sounds exciting! Valla Dia and I will come to visit.
There is a girl for you, master. Sometime in the future. Now that you have learned to see them!
The construction on the Isle of Thavas was heroic. The people loved him, especially those who fled the oppressive city/states in the region to take haven in the city of Thavas. The master mind welcomed all who wished a new life in a new place, but never offered more than that. "We have an opportunity," he said to all seeking asylum, "to live in peace and prosper. Our laws are simple: Do good and live in peace. Love your family and friends. We war with no nationbut will fight if attacked."
Fifty years later, seven of the nearest islands had been consolidated with the city nation of Thavas, mostly by bridge and causeway. Thavas had a population of 350,000 and was a major trade partner with Duhor, Helium, and Phundahl. Three towers rose on the main island, centers of learning. Two towers, one dedicated to defense and the other dedicated to Marsh management were built on other islands of the interconnected group. The defense tower was Thavas only, the Duhor contingent having long ago been sent home with honor and gratitude. The Marsh tower had one purpose: to maintain the eco-system upon which Thavas, Toonol and Phundahl depended.
Trade with Toonol vanished after the assassination of Mu Tel. Thavas watched the borders and waters between the two nations, for Thavas was a prize rich if it could be plucked. Ras Thavas was so concerned by the breakdown of relations that he, though he trusted his defense commanders, made a trip to Helium.
As a head of state Ras Thavas was given swift audience to the Warlord. "Thank you for seeing me, sir."
John Carter greeted Ras Thavas and addressed the issue in an instant. "How may we help you?"
Ras Thavas bowed his head. "Thank you, John Carter. Your understanding makes what I ask seem less than a desperate request. My people have worked hard and we have done well. We have had the help of Duhor's military to get our own defenses established. We have opened trade with Helium for agriculture and products from Thavas. We have been successful so far."
Carter spoke next. "Even so, the sons of Vobis Kan of Toonol have increased pressure and brought in new airships and test your borders. In all cases Thavas wins, but the attrition of good men lost is unacceptable."
Ras Thavas offered a bitter smile. "I see your agents keep you well informed. We have treaties, political and trade, but my people may not be able to honor all if we are overrun. My friend Vad Vado would send us a million men at an instant but I fear such a force would inflame the tensions. I have learned that the life of one man is too much to expend. Please help me save that one man. In return I will"
Carter raised his hand. In silence the Warlord led the master mind from his inner office to the banquet hall. He said, "If you will not reveal the secrets of brain transfer I know what you need."
Ras Thavas scowled. "I made that promise to you nearly eighty years ago, John Carter."
"Yes," Carter instantly replied, "you did. I respect that commitment. I have a solution, but first, please join my wife, Tara, and Carthoris at dinner. Tan Hadron and Tavia are also guests this evening."
The meal was excellent and the conversation afterward was illuminating. John Carter raised a glass toward a handsome man in harness. "You've been waiting for an opportunity. Thavas has need of an Odwar. Would you consider relocating?"
Tavia eagerly gripped her husband's arm, then almost as quickly composed herself. Tan Hadron chewed his lower lip for a moment. He leaned close to his wife's ear and whispered a question. Her eyes sparkled in reply, though nothing could be heard by ear.
Hadron of Hastor placed his elbows on the table and folded his hands. "I assume I will lose my position in the navy of Helium if I accept."
Carter minced no words. "Of course, and your nationality as well. There can be no conflict of interest. You would be Odwar of Thavas, supreme commander of that nation's navy and a prince of that realm. To Thavas would be your allegiance. Do you understand?"
Before Tan Hadron replied to Carter he spoke to Ras Thavas. "I am a minor prince of Helium. Many consider me..." the man blushed "...suffice it to say that few think I will amount to anything. I will speak truthfully, Ras Thavas. I have no future in my nation. There are seven brothers and two sisters with more claim to the throne of Hastor. Yet, I am a capable commander. I know airships. I even know a few things that even the Warlord does not know in detail." Hadron offered a smile which was returned. He continued. "My wife and I are willing to pledge true to Thavas. John Carter," Tan Hadron added, "I hope that Thavas and Helium remain tied by treaty and interest, else I will protect Thavas. I know you do not speak lightly–nor do I!"
John Carter spoke next. "Ras Thavas, I cannot send ships or warriors, though if your nation wishes to purchase ships we are ameniable. To do more would destabilize the region. You knew that already when Vad Varo offered to send an army and you refused. What I can suggest is my blessing that one of the most able commanders in Helium join your service."
Ras Thavas enthusiastically raised his glass. "Thavas would be honored, Odwar Tan Hadron!"
During the next fifty years a half dozen skirmishes and one war was fought. The seventy ship fleet of Thavas never lost a battle under the command of Tan Hadron. At the end of the war the Isle of Thavas acquired a mainland port from Toonol which facilitated trade and commerce. The port was ingress for hundreds of students seeking access to the immense library at Thavas, many of which made Thavas their home. Physicians from all nations sought training in all manners of healingsave the secrets of transplanting brains from one body to another.
In the 120th year of the rebuilding of Thavas, however, Ras Thavas began to realize that his existence was incomplete, lonely. Though surrounded by scientists from many nations, only Vad Varo could match him in conversation, and those conversations were decades apart.
One morning, years after the peace between Thavas and Toonol, Ras Thavas exited the city gate to engage in recreational hunting of marsh monsters, a ritual of exercise and instruction to the population that dangers still lurked outside the walled city. Ras Thavas greeted the early dawn with eyes less than eager because his people needed him less. A short sword hung at his waist. He carried a bow. The guard at the gate sketched a bare salute. At his side a hunting calot walked, sometimes near, sometimes far.
The master mind had long since learned there was only so much he could suggest in thought or deed once the people who loved Thavas had learned to work together. There was pride in the peace of Thavas. There was pride in the productivity and happiness. There was a growing confidence among the leaders that Thavas had arrived as a nation on Barsoom. There was that little sadness when Ras Thavas thought that perhaps he had wrought so well he was no longer needed.
Outside the walls, on the path leading directly to the marsh where hunting was most likely, Ras Thavas affectionately thumped the calot's ugly head. "I know what I can do, I also know what I must not do. Between those extremes I do nothing. Vad Varo was right. This second life I wanted is nowhat's that? What did you find?"
The calot led Ras Thavas off the path. Under the fronds of a glorestra bush the master mind found a new born human infant, a female just emerged from the shell. Though the egg had apparently been abandoned, the mother had given as much care as possible by placing it in the dense foliage and humus of the island. Ras Thavas wondered why the mother would do such a thing, the infant after hatching would have been nothing more than fodder for the beasts of the
The child came to him.
"Seeking your kind?" His voice was soft as he lifted the girl into his arms. Ras Thavas settled the excited calot by hand rather than mental control, understanding without parental experience the child might not be able to handle such a broadcast command.
"Whose are you?" he asked.
His voice soothed the girl. The trust she gave in return touched the master mind's heart as it had never been touched before. "No matter," he said. "Your name is Thasa Ras and you are my protege."
Ras Thavas lavished his new born affection and immense mentality upon raising the girl, who proved to be quick of mind and physically perfect. Within ten years she was more elegant in grace and manner than any princess of Barsoom, and intellectually more than a match for half of the planet's savants and scientists.
"Teach me more, father," Thasa Ras pleaded each year. Though she knew he was not her father it pleased them both she called him that. Each year Ras Thavas imparted more of his knowledge, continually stunned by the young woman who blossomed so fully before his eyes.
In her twenty-eighth year she came into his bed chambers one sultry night. From that moment on it was "Teach me more, my chieftain!"
The knowledge of Ras Thavas encompassed a thousand or more years of research and study. There were many pleadings, many happy nights for Ras Thavas, and more pleadings. Her brilliant mind absorbed all that the master mind shared, and soon began independent studies of her own design.
"Teach me more, my love."
By the time Thasa Ras was 51, she had obtained, in distilled fashion, 500 years of Ras Thavas' research and experience, but her physical affection with her husband had dwindled proportionately in return.
"Come to bed," Ras Thavas might plead on any night.
"A moment, my love. I need but a moment..."
The master mind would observe the bent head, the busy fingers, the intricate experiments on-going in Thasa Ras' personal laboratory. He would wait that moment then, disappointed, returned to their chambers and the unshared sleeping silks and furs.
More secretive became his wife's experiments, her laboratory was now secured by personal locks and guarded by panthans of her own hire. More often she was absent from their apartments high above the radiant city Ras Thavas had created from the destruction of his family's ancestral home.
Ras Thavas privately asked his city manager to monitor the activities of Thasa Ras. Over the ensuing months the various requests for materials and equipment, labor, and funds suggested a possibility that disturbed Ras Thavas. He did not wish to believe what the reports suggested.
As the year came to a close Ras Thavas could no longer ignore the facts. One evening he steeled himself to confront Thasa Ras in her laboratory. At the locked entrance of his wife's laboratory Ras Thavas was met by two stalwart warriors.
"Stand aside. I wish to speak to Thasa Ras."
"She does not wish to be disturbed." The men drew their swords.
With great sadness, the master mind responded in kind, saying: "Then die."
Ras Thavas had eventually mastered the art of arms as completely as he mastered the sciences. The master mind regretfully dispatched the panthans. His super brain almost negligently overrode the intricate locks Thasa Ras had created to secure her laboratory. Upon entering the chamber within, Ras Thavas saw his wife in the arms of an impressively handsome young manand noted the recently opened vat at the back of the laboratory.
"I had to see this for myself. I did not wish to believe you would so brazenly turn my knowledge against me for your own personal ends." Without warning, Ras Thavas' sword stroke decapitated Thasa Ras' lover.
Thasa Ras screamed. "You old fool! Did you expect anything else? Your thoughts, your mind, your very being is as hoary as the crumbling walls of the dead city of Horz! You disgust me!"
Ras Thavas staggered under the young woman's accusations because the strident tone was palpable, but also because there was a deeply inherent truth to her words. "I made my mistake and learned from it," Ras Thavas said with bitter sadness. "I had hoped that among the things I taught you was that mistake and that you would have learned from it as well."
Grimly, the master mind approached Thasa Ras, his sword point down and to one side. "You knew of the pact that Vad Varo and I made as regards the growing of bodies. No brain, no conscience, no sentiencea vessel merely and then only under the most dire necessity. I do not fault your opinion of me, for I am aged long past my natural time and am an abomination among men in that regard, but I cannot allow you to continue, for your actions indicate that you have no sense of propriety and honor. If you should leave this place your talent and skills could cause irreparable harm to the nations of Barsoom."
There was no remorse or regret in the woman's voice. Thasa Ras imperiously faced her husband with a sneer. "You have spent your second life healing the sick and building a city, and turning your back on your greatest knowledge. The more I learned the more I knew what you had become: a coward. You could rule this planet with me at your side but have chosen to waste your talent and power out of some misguided guilt." She laughed. "What are you going to do now, Ras Thavas, my chieftain? Kill me?"
Ras Thavas exited the city for his usual recreational morning hunt. At his side, trotting on five pairs of short, powerful legs, was a massive calot. At his side was a short sword. He carried a bow.
The guard sketched a bare salute. Ras Thavas looked up as one of Tan Hadron's patrol craft passed overhead. A flock of birds with no voice erupted from a gloresta bush. The sky was clear, the sunlight bright.
The calot protected the master mind of Barsoom with amazing dedication should any of the monsters of the Toonolian Marsh attack. The creature fetched any kill by Ras Thavas with equal alacrity. The calot never left the side of the master mind of Barsoom. A most determined and amazing beast!
Some in the marvelous city on the Isle of Thavas wondered at the gentle hand their most prominent citizen used with the savage calot. Some wondered that the calot seemed so devoted. A few speculated upon the coincidence of the calot's name to the name of the missing wife of Ras Thavas.
But never in his presence!
Comment by Nkima
A neat little fairy tale. Tangor suggested there were both Freudian and Jungian aspects in this story. The Freudian one is obvious and incestuoushe married his own daughter. However, since this is a fairy tale, much more can be made of it, and a more thorough Jungian interpretation is in order.
A man who killed another to gain immortality is plagued by guilt and must pay the price of his crime. His life is spent in atonement, but he never resolves the nagging guilt. When he finds his “daughter” newly hatched from an egg, he names her his protege, or in Jungian terms, his “soul,” and she is the answer to his life-long problem. In the Jungian sense this marriage is not incestuous, but natural and necessary; however, the man does not recognize this arrangement is merely another aspect of his own hubris. She turns out to be his old self, prone to his wicked ways, and in the end he must turn her into a beast. She serves him as such at his side, for in his deepest being he is still the animal despite all his cosmetic changes of heart. The soul must recognize the existence of the “shadow” in Jungian termseven after a person has achieved perfection, or “individuation,” according to Jung. This calot/beast is the dark side of the personality that is always with us.
The fairy tale rings true in the end because the animal nature of the soul serves the Master when it is recognized for what it truly is. Humans are not angels of light no matter how perfect they may think themselves to be. There is always that shadow, that animal being that follows one throughout life. The victory of Ras Thavas is in that the calot serves him faithfully when it is allowed to be what it is and not falsely taken as a wife.
The story is a good one, Tangor, and is a warning to those of us who think we have achieved our perfection, which never really comes in this life. We always have the beast at our side no matter how lovely we may think we are. This is my Jungian reading of this story, but like all good fairy tales, there are many others possible, which may be equally relevant. You have written well, my friend.
Nkima nailed the aspects inserted in Ras Thavas: THE NEW CITY. His final thoughts work for me; however, the transfer of Thasa Ras' brain to the calot was written as an O.Henry twist and prelude for other Ras Thavas and the calot stories.
Thasa Ras' devotion is entirely selfish, for if the master mind dies she can never be returned to her human form. Though she occupies the body of the most successful predator on the face of Barsoom she dare not injure her salvation. And from that premise many stories can be told!
One day, some day. Perhaps tomorrow!
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