The Lavalite World by Philip Jose Farmer. Chapter 13, 14, 15, 16

Anana looked down the beach for other guards. She couldn’t see any, but she was certain there would be others stationed along the edge of the woods. For all she knew, there might be one just one of eyesight.

She waited until he had gone past her in the direction of McKay. She rose from behind the bush and walked up behind him. The soft sand made little sound. The flat of her axe came down against the back of his head. He fell forward with a grunt. After waiting for a minute to make sure no one had heard the sound of the axe against the bone, she turned the man over. She had to bend close to him to distinguish his facial features. And she swore quietly.

He was Obran, a warrior of the Wendow.

He wasn’t going to regain consciousness for quite a while. She hurried back to McKay, who was sitting on his mount, holding the reins of her beast.

He said, “Man, you scared me! I didn’t think you’d be coming back so quick. I thought it was one of them Indians at first.”

“Bad news. Those’re Trenn’s people. They must have come after us after all.”

“How in hell did they get by us without us seeing them? Or them Indians?”

“I don’t know. Maybe they went by the Indians last night without being detected and then decided to trail them in hopes of getting a trophy or two. No, if they did that they wouldn’t be sleeping here. They’d be stalking the Indian camp now.

“I don’t know. It could be that they held a big powwow after we escaped and it took all day for them to get the nerve up to go after us. Somehow, they passed us while we were up in the pass without them seeing us or us seeing them. The point is, they’re here, and we have to get by them. You bring the grewigg up to the guard and make sure he doesn’t wake up. I’ll go ahead and take care of the other guards.”

That job lasted fifteen or so minutes. She returned and mounted her beast, and they rode slowly on the white sand, reddish in the light, past another fallen man. When they thought they were out of hearing of the Wendow sleeping in the woods, they galloped for a while. After ten minutes of this, they eased their animals into a trot.

Once more they had to detect the guard before he saw them; Anana slipped off the gregg and knocked out three Amerinds stationed at wide intervals near the edge of the woods.

When she came back, McKay shook his head and muttered, “Lady, you’re really something.”

When they had first been thrown together, he had been rather contemptuous of her. This was a reflection of his attitude toward women in general. Anana had thought it strange, since he came from a race which had endured prejudice and repression for a long time and still was in 1970. His own experience should have made him wary of prejudice toward other groups, especially women, which included black females. But he thought of all women, regardless of color, as inferior beings, useful only for exploitation.

Anana has shaken this attitude considerably, though he had rationalized that, after all, she was not an Earth female.

She didn’t reply. The grewigg were ridden to where the last unconscious sentinel lay, and they were tied to two large bushes where they could feed. She and McKay went into the woods on their bellies and presently came on the first of the sleepers, a woman with a child. Luckily, these people had no dogs to warn them. Anana suspected that the Amerinds probably did own dogs but, judging from their leanness, the tribe had been forced to eat them during the journey to the sea-land.

They snaked through a dozen snorers, moving slowly, stopping to look at each man closely. Once, a woman sat up suddenly, and the two, only a few feet behind her, froze. After some smackings of lips, the woman lay back down and resumed sleeping. A few minutes later, they found Red Ore.

He was lying on his side within a circle of five dead-to-the-world men. His hands were tied behind him, and a cord bound his ankles together.

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