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Weird Tales

January, 1925

Arhl-A of the Caves

By C.M. Eddy Jr.

Author of "The Ghost-Eater," "With Weapons of Stone," etc.

WHEN Arhl-a opened her eyes, darkness had settled over the universe. The tough cords of reindeer sinews which bound her hands and feet cut deep into her fleshy and her wrists and ankles were raw and bleeding from her futile struggles to free herself from the bonds. The flickering light of the fire at the entrance of the cavern caused the shadows to dance on the limestone walls in a ghostly, ever-changing glow. Silhouetted against the background of the fire loomed the huge body of Zurd, his eyes fastened intently upon her.

Ugh! how she hated him! She spat between her clenched teeth, and her tortured wrists strained anew at their fastenings as her gaze rested upon him. Never would she become his mate of her own free will! Better far that she should bury the keen blade of the stag-handled stone dagger, that lay hidden away beneath her garment of doeskin, clean to the hilt in her bosom than to suffer such insult at the hands of the human monster who had stolen her from her chosen one.

Zurd, the Coward! How well he was named! How different he was from Wagh, the Mighty, the man whom she loved. She could picture him now as she lay there, his tall, lithe, sinewy frame scarred from head to foot by the claws and teeth of the mighty beasts he fought and overpowered. He even wore a necklace made from the very teeth and claws that had inflicted those wounds, trophies she had strung together for him with her own hands and hung about his neck when it was finished. His broad head with its shock of jet-black hair, his powerful hands that could tear apart the jaws of the mighty cave-lion! He was a man, indeed!

She looked again at the squat figure still watching her from the mouth of the cave. His low, receding forehead with its heavy overhanging brow, his massive jaw, his short grotesque arms and legs, reminded her of the ape people that still roamed the forests and warred against her kind.

Zurd, the Coward! He was even afraid of her, a woman! He had sprung upon her from behind, and even now that he had spirited her many miles away from her own people he dared not loose her bonds. She thought of the day to come, when Wagh should trail Zurd to his hiding place. Then lie would take him in his two hands and break him like a stick of wood across his knee.

Zurd rose and crossed the floor of the cavern to the helpless girl, with loping, swinging strides. He did not stand erect, his knees being slightly bent, and his similarity to a huge monkey was more marked than before. He gave the girl a vicious prod with his foot and spoke to her. His tone was harsh and guttural, not at all like her own—low, liquid and musical. Indeed, he spoke more with his eyes and his gestures than with his lips, for language was then in its infancy and speech a powe...

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