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At the Earth's Core

Chapter 5. Slaves
As we descended the broad staircase which led to the main avenue of Phutra I caught my
first sight of the dominant race of the inner world. Involuntarily I shrank back as one of
the creatures approached to inspect us. A more hideous thing it would be impossible to
imagine. The all-powerful Mahars of Pellucidar are great reptiles, some six or eight feet
in length, with long narrow heads and great round eyes. Their beak-like mouths are lined
with sharp, white fangs, and the backs of their huge, lizard bodies are serrated into bony
ridges from their necks to the end of their long tails. Their feet are equipped with three
webbed toes, while from the fore feet membranous wings, which are attached to their
bodies just in front of the hind legs, protrude at an angle of 45 degrees toward the rear,
ending in sharp points several feet above their bodies.
I glanced at Perry as the thing passed me to inspect him. The old man was gazing at the
horrid creature with wide astonished eyes. When it passed on, he turned to me.
"A rhamphorhynchus of the Middle Olitic, David," he said, "but, gad, how enormous!
The largest remains we ever have discovered have never indicated a size greater than that
attained by an ordinary crow."
As we continued on through the main avenue of Phutra we saw many thousand of the
creatures coming and going upon their daily duties. They paid but little attention to us.
Phutra is laid out underground with a regularity that indicates remarkable engineering
skill. It is hewn from solid limestone strata. The streets are broad and of a uniform height
of twenty feet. At intervals tubes pierce the roof of this underground city, and by means
of lenses and reflectors transmit the sunlight, softened and diffused, to dispel what would
otherwise be Cimmerian darkness. In like manner air is introduced.
Perry and I were taken, with Ghak, to a large public building, where one of the Sagoths
who had formed our guard explained to a Maharan official the circumstances surrounding
our capture. The method of communication between these two was remarkable in that no
spoken words were exchanged. They employed a species of sign language. As I was to
learn later, the Mahars have no ears, not any spoken language. Among themselves they
communicate by means of what Perry says must be a sixth sense which is cognizant of a
fourth dimension.
I never did quite grasp him, though he endeavored to explain it to me upon numerous
occasions. I suggested telepathy, but he said no, that it was not telepathy since they could
only communicate when in each others' presence, nor could they talk with the Sagoths or
the other inhabitants of Pellucidar by the same method they used to converse with one
another.
"What they do," said Perry, "is to project their thoughts into the fourth dimension, when
they become appreciable to the sixth sense of their listener. Do I make myself quite
clear?"
 
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