The Maker of Universes Book 1 of The World of Tiers Series by Philip Jose Farmer. Chapter 1, 2, 3, 4

She shrugged and said, “The Lord may have told me a long time ago. But I’ve forgotten. I’d even forgotten he told me that Earth was round.”

Wolff took the leather belt off, slid the scabbards off it, and picked up an oval black rock weighing about ten pounds. He slipped the belt through the buckle and then placed the stone within the loop. After piercing a hole near the buckle with the point of his knife, he tightened the loop. He had only to buckle the belt, and he was armed with a thong at the end of which was a heavy stone.

“You get behind and to one side of me,” he said. “If I miss any, if one gets in past me, you push while he’s off-balance. But don’t go over yourself. Do you think you can do it?”

She nodded her head but evidently did not trust herself to speak.

“This is asking a lot of you. I’d understand if you cracked up completely. But, basically, you’re made of sturdy ancient-Hellenic stock. They were a pretty tough lot in those days; you can’t have lost your strength, even in this deadening pseudo-Paradise.”

“I wasn’t Achaean,” she said. “I was Sminthean. But you are, in a way, right. I don’t feel as badly as I thought I would. Only . . .”

“Only it takes getting used to,” he said. He was encouraged, for he had expected a different reaction. If she could keep it up, the two of them might make it through this. But if she fell apart and he had a hysterical woman to control, both might fall under the attack of the gworl.

“Speaking of which,” he muttered as he saw black, hairy, gnarled fingers slide around the corner of the cave. He swung the belt hard so that the stone at its end smashed the hand. There was a bellow of surprise and pain, then a long ululating scream as the gworl fell. Wolff did not wait for the next one to appear. He got as close to the lip of the cave ledge as he dared and swung the stone again. It whipped around the corner and thudded against something soft. Another scream came, and it, too, faded away into the nothingness of the green sky.

“Three down, seven to go! Provided that no more have joined them.”

He said to Chryseis, “They may not be able to get in here. But they can starve us out.”

“The horn?” He laughed. “They wouldn’t let us go now even if I did hand them the horn. And I don’t intend for them to get it. I’ll throw the horn into the sky rather than do that.”

A figure was silhouetted against the mouth of the cave as it dropped from above. The gworl, swinging in, landed on his feet and teetered for a second. But he threw himself forward, rolled in a hairy ball, and was up on his feet again. Wolff was so surprised that

he failed to react immediately. He had not expected them to be able to climb above the cave and let themselves down, for the rock above the cave had looked smooth. Somehow, one had done it, and now he was inside, on his feet, a knife in hand.

Wolff whirled the stone at the belt-end and loosed it at the gworl. The creature flipped its knife at him; Wolff dodged but spoiled his aim of the stone. It flew over the furry bumpy head; the thrown knife brushed him lightly on his shoulder. He jumped for his own knife on the floor of the cave, saw another dark shape drop into the cave from above, and a third come around the corner of the mouth.

Something hit his head. His vision blurred, his senses grew dim, his knees buckled.

When he awoke, a pain in the side of his head, he had a frightening sensation. He seemed to be upside down and floating above a vast polished black disc. A rope was tied around his neck, and his hands were tied behind his back. He was hanging with his feet up in the empty air, yet there was only a slight tension of rope around his neck.

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27