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

Anana watched Urthona, yelling, his face red, hauling back on the reins, being carried off toward the pass. McKay had let loose of his moosoid as soon as it bolted. He stood there, watching her. Evidently he was waiting to see what she would do. She decided to run for the mountains. She looked back once and saw the black man following her. Either he had orders from her uncle not to let her out of his sight or he trusted her to do the best thing to avoid danger and was following her example.

Possibly, he was going to try to get the Horn from her. He couldn’t do that without killing her. He was bigger and stronger than she, but she had her knife. He knew how skilled she was with a knife, not to mention her mastership of the martial arts.

Besides, if he attempted murder in sight of the tribe, he’d be discrediting her story that they were sent by the Lord. He surely wouldn’t be that stupid.

The nearest mountain on this side of the channel was only a mile away. It was one of the rare shapes, a monolith, four-sided, about two thousand feet high. The ground around it had sunk to three hundred feet, forming a ditch about six hundred and fifty feet broad. She stopped at the edge and turned. McKay joined her five minutes later. It took him several minutes to catch his normal breathing.

“It sure is a mess, ain’t it?”

She agreed with him but didn’t say so. She seldom commented on the obvious.

“Why’re you sticking with me?”

“Because you got the Horn, and that’s the only way to get us out of this miserable place. Also, if anybody’s going to survive, you are. I stick with you, I live too.”

“Does that mean you’re no longer loyal to Urthona?”

He smiled. “He ain’t paid me recently. And what’s more, he ain’t never going to pay me. He’s promised a lot to me, but I know that once he’s safe, he’s going to get rid of me.”

She was silent for a while. McKay was a hired killer. He couldn’t be trusted, but he could be used.

“I’ll do my best to get you back to Earth,” she said. “I can’t promise it. You might have to settle for some other world. Perhaps Kickaha’s.”

“Any world’s better than this one.”

“You wouldn’t say that if you’d seen some of them. I give you my word that I’ll try my best. However, for the time being, you’ll pretend to be in my uncle’s employ.”

“And tell you what he plans, including any monkey business.”

“Of course.”

He was probably sincere. It was possible though, that Urthona had put him up to this.

By then some of the tribe had also gotten to the base of the mountain. The others were mostly riders who hadn’t so far managed to control their beasts. A few were injured or dead.

The stampede was over. Those animals still on their hooves or paws had scattered. There was more room for them on the plain now. The birds covered the piles of carcasses like flies on a dog turd.

She began walking down to the channel. The tribe followed her, some talking about the unexpected bonus of meat. They would have enough to stuff themselves silly for two days before the bodies got too rank. Or perhaps three days. She didn’t know just how fastidious they were. From what she’d seen, not very.

Halfway to the channel, McKay stopped, and said, “Here comes the chief.”

She looked toward the pass. Coming down the slope from it was Trenn. Though his gregg had bolted and taken him into the valley itself, it was

now under control. She was surprised to see that the heavy black clouds over the sea-country were fading away. And the lightning had stopped.

A minute later, several other grewigg and riders came over the top of the rise. By the time she got to the channel, they were close enough for her to recognize them. One was her uncle. Until then, the moosoids had been trotting. Now Urthona urged his into a gallop. He pulled the sweating panting saliva-flecked beast up when he got close, and he dismounted swiftly. The animal groaned, crumpled, turned over on its side and died.

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