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When Vernia, empress of Reabon, mightiest land of all Venus, was kidnapped by the strange marauders of the sea, it presented the Earthman, Robert Grandon, with his greatest challenge. On a world replete with terrifying beasts and unearthly antagonists, Grandon had already achieved fame for his swordplay and courage, but the search for Vernia would take him against foes beyond all he had previously encountered. Otis Adelbert Kline’s concluding novel of Venusian adventure, amply demonstrates his high skill with fast-action science-fiction.
245 pages, with a reading time of ~3.75 hours (61,372 words), and first published in 1932. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, 2016.
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Perhaps the furniture and decorations of the personal apartment of Robert Grandon would have appeared bizarre to earthly eyes. Its paneled walls were hung with strange weapons and still stranger trophies of the battlefield and chase–prized treasures of a soldier and a hunter. Skins of marmelots, fiercest cats of the Zorovian fern forests, and tremendous bear-like monsters known as ramphs, magnificent specimens all, were flung on the floor. Cloud-filtered sunlight entered through two immense windows that reached from floor to ceiling, opening on a private balcony which overlooked the palace gardens.
A marmelot, carved from red wood and supporting a round top of polished crystal formed a table in the center of the room. Around it, in chairs carved in the representation of kneeling giants holding scarlet cushions which formed both seats and backs, were four men.
“The power of the Huitsen must be broken, and broken forever,” cried Aardven, brawny, bull-necked ruler of Adonijar. And he banged his huge fist on the table for emphasis, causing the kova cups to dance and rattle.
Robert Grandon, former Chicago clubman who had fought his way to the throne of Reabon, mightiest empire of Venus, grimly nodded his assent, as did his two other guests, Ad, ruler of Tyrhana, and Zinlo, ruler of Olba. For the sake of privacy and comfort, he had dispensed with the rigid formality of the throne room, and received them in his own drawing room.
Ad of Tyrhana stroked his square-cut, jet black beard meditatively. Then he turned to Grandon. I fear we have disturbed you at a most inopportune time. A man about to start on a honeymoon should not be annoyed with affairs of state. It was only after we learned of the latest outrage perpetrated by the yellow pirates, that Aardvan and I, who were awaiting Zinlo’s return to Olba, decided to hurry here in one of his swift airships.
“When he heard that one of my ships of war, crippled by a storm and half sinking, was set upon by these yellow fiends, part of its crew massacred and the rest carried off prisoners, and my daughter Narine taken to I know not what fate, we felt that something must be done, and done quickly.”
“And I heartily agree with you,” said Grandon. “The imperial navy of Reabon is at your disposal. Do you have any plan of action to suggest?”
“I felt sure you would come in with us,” said Ad, “especially after my talk with Zinlo this morning. As I have intimated previously, we must make our plans in secret, and carry them out as unobtrusively as possible. The Huitsenni have spies everywhere. They have the treasure to hire the vile traitors among our people who will sell their honor for personal gains, but because of their peculiar physical characteristics they can do no eavesdropping among us themselves.”
“We should have two main objectives: to sink or capture every pirate ship that sails the seas of Zorovia, and to find and take the secret port of Huitsen. It is a port of missing ships and treasure, of slaves who were once citizens of our own and other lands, a port of peril to every man, woman, and child on this planet.”
“Have you any idea where to look for this hidden port?” asked Grandon.
“We have no definite knowledge of its location, but the belief that it lies to the south has arisen from the fact that pirate fleets, leaving a scene of pillage, have almost invariably been observed to sail southward.”
“I believe my flyers can locate it,” said Zinlo, toying with his kova cup.
“It’s a big world,” boomed the gruff Aardvan, “and it will take a deal of flying, sailing, and marching to explore it all.”
“Perhaps Mernerum will help us,” suggested Ad.
“I take it,” replied Grandon, “that you are unaware of the strained, or rather severed relations between Mernerum and Reabon. This morning I ordered diplomatic relations severed with Zanaloth of Mernerum, because of his affront to my wife when she passed through his dominions some time ago.”
“We can do well enough without that dissolute old rake,” said Zinlo. “But we’re keeping you from that honeymoon trip, Grandon. I understand that your expedition was ready to march when Ad and Aardvan arrived.”
“We’ll give it up,” Grandon assured them. “I’m sure Vernia won’t mind for such, a worthy cause.”
“See here,” Ad protested. “We don’t want any such sacrifice. Allow us to take a few of your ships for the present, and perhaps some warriors and munitions in case a landing party is required. Go on your honeymoon. Later, when we’ve discovered the port of peril, we’ll notify you, and let you in at the kill.”
“But your daughter has been stolen. Every man on this planet, worthy of the name, should be willing to assist in the search.”