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´╗┐Title: Fog of the Forgotten
Author: Wells, Basil
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Fog of the Forgotten" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

                         FOG OF THE FORGOTTEN

                            By BASIL WELLS

               The fog of their world matched the fog in
             their minds. Rebelling against science, they
              smashed it, dragged their people down into
             the ancient mists. But Ho Dyak wanted light.

           [Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from
                      Planet Stories Winter 1946.
         Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
         the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

The fog sea thinned before Ho Dyak, and he could see the dank rocks of
the cliffs he scaled a scant twenty feet beneath his feet. The network
of blue-veined pale vines that he climbed thinned even as the air
itself thinned. Far below him in the lowlands the mat of _agan_ vines
was three hundred feet in depth in many places.

Higher and higher climbed Ho Dyak, his long pale face, with its full
red lips and great thick-lidded purple eyes, drawn with pain. For the
air of the uplands was chill. As the fog thinned, so too dropped the

Ho Dyak gripped tighter the pouch of flayed _drogskin_, in which five
of the forbidden foot-long cylinders of metal skins nestled, as he
paused for a moment to rest. It was because of them, the forbidden
scrolls stored in a musty forgotten chamber of the Upper Shrine of
Lalal, the One God of Arba, that Ho Dyak was now climbing into the
frigid death of the cloudless uplands.

The ivory-skinned body of the man was swathed in layer upon layer of
quilted and padded garments of leather and fabric. His two feet, with
their webbed outstretched toes, and his short stubby middle limbs,
strong-fingered webbed hands at their ends, were encased in sturdy
mitten-like moccasins. Only his long upper hands were encased in stout
leather gloves with four divisions--one for the thumb and the other
three for his four-jointed fingers.

Over his grotesquely swollen bulk, for which his myriad garments were
responsible, Ho Dyak's sword belt and the filled sheath of javelin-like
darts were belted. To his crossed belts also were attached his
broad-bladed machete-like knife and the throwing stick for his dwarfish

No longer did he fear pursuit. The fighting priests, the dark-robed
_orsts_ of Lalal, had brought with them none of the warm garments Ho
Dyak wore. Their shouts and sacred battle cries had died away on the
slopes a mile or more beneath where he now perched. For the moment he
was safe from their vengeance.

"I will see what lies above the fog sea," said Ho Dyak to the
unresponsive ladder-like network of _agan_ he climbed. "Perhaps I can,
for a few short hours, see the vast plateaus that once my people ruled."

The _agan_ made no answer, as Ho Dyak had expected it would not, but
he bent his gaze more closely upon its smooth stems. A greenish tinge
lay upon them, a tinge that in the lowlands only the rocks or tarnished
metals bore. The man's heart beat faster despite the chilling cold. He
was approaching an unknown zone of life!

The fog sea split apart abruptly. His broad shoulders and then his
thickly padded middle came above the last remnants of the mist. And
he sensed a warmth that came from above--not a pleasant warmth, but a
strangely stinging heat. He turned his hooded eyes skyward and pain
filled his brain at the glaring redness of the lights that blazed
there. Three suns, one huge primary and its offspring, that hung in the
cloud-banked blue heavens overhead.

       *       *       *       *       *

Darkness dwindled into grayness and he could see. He was looking out
across a level rolling expanse of fleecy nothingness. A soft sea of
foggy mystery from which vagrant hills of vapor drifted upward lightly
and settled back again. Down beneath that impenetrable damp blanket, he
knew, lay the pleasant stone buildings and palaces of his people, and
further away out there rolled the gloomy steaming sea of Thol where men
fished and hunted for the mighty aquatic monsters of the deeps.

It was as though his homeland had never been, and he was a castaway
here on this sun-drenched vine-covered slope with the blood chilling in
his muscular squat body. He shivered.

He looked upward and his heart hammered new warmth into his muscles as
he saw that the rim of the mighty wall he ascended was but a score of
feet above. He swung himself upward swiftly.

Then he was standing upon a level expanse of grassy land beside
a slow-flowing brook. The stream was clogged with aquatic lush
vegetation, and further up along it he saw moving shapes, lizard-like
creatures and four-legged graceful animals that were covered with a
dusty golden fur. Beyond was a jungle of vine-linked growth, and far
beyond that a vast escarpment climbed, step upon step, upward to the
white-helmeted peaks of a mountain range.

It was at this moment that Ho Dyak became aware of the ragged roaring
sound from overhead. He squinted his eyes and was careful not to
look into the terrible flare of light that was the suns. The sound
increased. After a moment he saw a dark speck low down to the western
horizon, a speck that grew into a long stub-winged shape with vapor
flaring like smoke from its rear.

At first Ho Dyak thought that some living monstrous thing was diving
upon him, and then he saw the fixed rigidity of the boatlike elongated
craft. This was a man-made thing, a ship that rode noisily through the
air even as the great canoes of the fisherfolk sailed upon the hot
waves of mighty Thol.

It was thus that the ancestors of his race had ridden in the long-dead
ages before the fog seas shrank downward from the mountains and
plateaus. This was one of the machines that his embittered race had
destroyed after cataclysmic disaster swept their world. He had thought
that only in these precious stolen scrolls was there any record of that
mighty civilization; yet here before his eyes a mighty thing of metal
dropped swiftly.

Then the winged thing seemed to explode and crumple as it nosed into
the green expanse of tangled grasses near him. Flames licked out from
the rear of the craft!

       *       *       *       *       *

Three days had passed there upon the plateau shelf above the fog sea.
And Ho Dyak had not returned to the welcome warmth of the lowlands
of Arba. Instead, he had found a great spring of boiling water in
the rocky valley not far from the crashed ship of the sky, and about
this he had built a sturdy dome of clay-plastered stones. Within this
comfortably damp and well-heated den Ho Dyak sprawled and talked
through the slitted doorway that was closed with triple hides of giant
upland lizards.

"I do not understand," said the lanky sandy-haired man who sat,
sweating, outside the steaming mud-daubed mound, "why your people, with
their marvelous control of telepathy and their one-time control over
all this world, are content to live in savagery along the narrow strip
of beach they now possess."

Ho Dyak did not move his lips as he answered. Unlike the Earthman from
the _Lo_, he did not need to speak aloud to transmit his thoughts. His
hasty schooling of the two men and the girl he had rescued from the
battered _Lo_ had been designed to afford immediate communication.
Later he would impress upon their brains the process of speechless

"Inventions, mechanical knowledge, brought about the downfall of
Arba, Glade Nelson. Lest any further destructive device do away with
our last zone of liveable atmosphere all mechanical knowledge and
experimentation is forbidden."

The Earthman snorted. "I know that, Hodiak," he said, using his own
word for the squat ivory-skinned man, "but with pressure cities,
transparent domes you know, and heated suits like the space suit we
gave you, there's no reason why your ancient lands should remain

"I agree with you, Earthman. Some of the wisest men of Arba have felt
the same. But the priests of Lalal have branded them, branded them
with blindness, and driven them out into the _agan_ jungles. They are
content with the barbaric simplicity of the lowlands."

"Perhaps," said Glade Nelson, "now that you have escaped with your life
and your vision you can help your people in spite of themselves."

Ho Dyak shook his big square head. The broad curly tendrils that
sprouted yellowly from his skull half-covered the delicate sharp tips
of his upthrust thin ears.

"The power of Lalal over the common people is no light thing."

The thoughts of the Earthman were confused for a moment and then Ho
Dyak heard, through the ears of Nelson, the frantic screams of the
Earthwoman, the dark-haired sister of Nelson's employer, hairy, stocky
Albert Gosden.

       *       *       *       *       *

Nelson snatched his high-powered rifle and raced away toward the sound.
Ho Dyak sprang to his feet as well and slipped swiftly into the space
suit that Nelson had provided him. He set the heat controls for a
comfortable 200 degrees and pushed aside the hide curtains.

He went racing after the Earthman. Although unhampered by the
cumbersome space suit Ho Dyak wore and fleet of foot, Nelson saw the
ivory man go racing by him and he marveled at the strength and vitality
of the squat Arban. Then they were at the stream, beside a swampy lake,
dotted here and there with tree islets and banks of reeds, searching
for the girl.

They saw her flailing away at a swarm of scaly black lizard things,
young seven and eight foot-long _drogs_, with a leafy branch. She was
safe enough from them as she sat in the crotch of a moss-hung jungle
giant at the lake's green-scummed rim. But Ho Dyak saw the ripples
that were converging on the girl from other portions of the pool, and
he reached down to the weapons belted now about his dull-sheened space

"Albert's dead!" Marta Gosden sobbed, thwacking away. There was a
bloody broken thing, or rather, things, that some of the young _drogs_
quarreled over in the thick muddy shallows.

Ho Dyak was busy now with his copper-tipped javelins. He was killing
as swiftly as his throwing stick could contact the sturdy butts of the

"Kill them," he flashed at Nelson, "for the grown monsters come."

But the lanky man with only two arms did not heed his order. In
the excitement of the moment Nelson had reverted to the use of his
ears--his mental receptive powers were as yet too untrained. Ho Dyak
fought alone while Glade Nelson shouted to the girl to climb down a
drooping limb toward him.

Ho Dyak drove the crawling lizard-beasts back until he stood beneath
the tree. He held up his two upper arms, and the girl dropped her leafy
useless club before she slid down the loose rough bark of the trunk.
Then Ho Dyak turned and raced with her in his arms away from the lake.

Nelson roared with sudden fear. Almost upon Ho Dyak's heels a huge
mouth gaped suddenly from the murky water and then a scaly six-legged
monster came charging up over the low marshy bank. Behind the first
_drog_ came another, and then another. All of them were over twenty
feet in length and their pace was not slow. They were overhauling the
burdened ivory man.

[Illustration: _Ho Dyak put her down and turned to face the drog._]

Ho Dyak put the girl down. He gave her a push in the direction of the
wrecked ship and with the same motion turned to face the _drog's_
gaping maw. His stout double-edged sword was in his hand. He could feel
its welcome pressure through the insulated layers of _siladur_ that
sealed out the chill air of the plateau.

His sword flicked up toward the eye of the huge dragon. He pressed the
button that released the needle-like extension from the weapon's tip,
and his prolonged weapon ripped through the huge reddish eyeball. The
monster roared with rage, and whistling with its blasting breath, swung
its head. Again the sword flashed and the blinded monster dashed itself
against a huge smooth-boled tree. Its legs crumpled for a moment and
then it was up ripping ferociously with great nails and rending jaws at
the unresisting wood.

By now Nelson had taken a hand. His rocket projectiles were shattering
the armor-plated _drogs_. They were down upon the swampy turf, their
mighty bulks crimsoned and torn, and yet they hissed and growled while
their dead limbs shredded the dank black muck.

The Earthman turned his weapon upon the unseeing lizard thing and blew
its head from its ugly scaly neck. Even then the legs continued to
strip bark from the great tree, nor did the great body collapse for
several long minutes.

Ho Dyak cleaned his sword-tip and pressed it back upon the spring at
its base. Then he went to Nelson and the girl. She had come back when
she saw the _drogs_ were down. Nelson was holding the girl in his arms,
talking softly to her. He could see in their unguarded minds that they
loved one another.

So it was that he turned abruptly away and went back to his comfortable
steam-heated igloo of stones. Memories of Mian Ith, she of the rioting
pinkish-brown tendrils and the full-breasted slim young body, came
to him. Memory of the Earthman's words came to him and his full lips
smiled. Yes, he could rebel and lead others.

"Tomorrow," he told himself, "I will go again to the Place of Lalal.
There I will find others of the precious scrolls of the ancients. And
when I return I will bring with me Mian Ith."

With the knowledge of the Earthman coupled with his own he might indeed
restore to his people the empire they had lost when the fog seas shrank

       *       *       *       *       *

Glade Nelson, the Earthman, walked as far as the rim of the lower
plateau with Ho Dyak. And, before he swung down into the foggy lake
that hid the lowlands and the sea of Thol, he told the Earthman that he
might not return.

"If I do not come back," he said, "there is a possibility that you can
return to Earth."

Nelson laughed half-heartedly. "Not in the _Lo_," he said.

"Naturally," Ho Dyak flashed back, "but your helicopter, that you
planned to use for exploration on that other planet--"

"Mars," supplied Nelson. "Gosden financed the trip and purchased the
ship for me. I'd had experience with submarines and aircraft during the
Second War, and Gosden knew me then. His sister stowed away aboard. We
were several thousand miles out into space when we discovered her. We
turned back to Earth then; our supplies were insufficient."

Ho Dyak smiled. "When was it," he wanted to know, "that you realized
something was so terribly wrong--that this was not your home planet?"

"Almost as soon as we had sighted your world of Thrane," said Nelson.
"Then we saw the three suns and the two extra planets of your system."
He lighted one of his last cigarettes. "Just how did we get here?"

"Probably hit a space-time-material eddy. Our scientists created an
artificial eddy, a sort of gateway you might say, between parallel
worlds. That's how we lost our dense protective atmospheric envelope.
The vibrational gateways, in the course of many years' usage, became
permanent. Our ancestors no longer could seal them shut by cutting off
the power.

"And so our precious atmosphere drained off into a dozen parallel
dimensional worlds. Fortunately the gateways were on the upper plateaus
and so a thin envelope of denser air remains. But one of those doors
leads through to Earth! Maybe several of them."

Nelson gripped Ho Dyak's bulky shoulder.

"You mean," he gasped, "this is really Earth? Only changed?"

Ho Dyak agreed. "Something like water and sand," he explained, "when
they're mixed together. They're distinct but occupy the same space." He
turned toward the sea of fog and stepped down into it.

       *       *       *       *       *

He slipped through the sheltering upper layer of _agan_ vines, their
huge disc-shaped leaves of blue-veined yellow as a protective screen
about him. Here, three hundred feet above the mucky soil, the thick
rubbery coils were not matted together into a solid wall as they were
much lower.

He was soon approaching the seacoast city of Gorda, capital and chief
city of the priest-ruled nation of Arba. He saw where the floor of
writhing pale vegetable stems dropped away abruptly to the mile-wide
clearing that the heavy blades of convicted criminals kept cleared
away. The shouts of the men, as they hung back on their ropes and hewed
at the thick fleshy wall of growth, came faintly to his ears from the
fog-shroud off to his left.

The sound of the booming surf came now from the right. He could not see
further away than fifteen feet, although his heavy-lidded purple eyes
were sharper than the majority of his people, but by the muffled sounds
of the city below and the steady throb of the surf's drumbeat, he
knew that he was nearing the forgotten twin spikes of a ruined tower.
Directly opposite this tower the Place of Lalal heaped its thirty
levels, terrace upon terrace, into the eternal thick mistiness of the
fog sea.

Then he saw the tips of the tower, two man-made juts of metal ten feet
apart and covered with great orange and golden knobs of wrinkled warty
fungi. The round holes of _sliran_ tunnels gaped beside the vine-buried
dome of the ruined tower--the many-legged blue-scaled snaky lengths
of those hideous monsters had kept open a rounded tube something over
three feet in diameter.

Ho Dyak had been here before. He drew his sword and lowered himself
into the steep slanting hole. As he descended he heard from above the
increasingly louder voices of men--some of the workers and their guards
were passing. He had entered the _sliran_ burrow none too soon. And
now, if he did not encounter a _sliran_ in the vine-walled tube, he
would shortly be inside the helmet dome of one-time silvery metal that
capped the deserted tower.

A moment later he stepped from the tunnel into the moist thick heat of
the broken dome. The broad phosphorescent band of light that was built
into the walls of all Arban architecture, waist-high, was dimmed by the
slime of ages. But he could see. The dome's interior was not occupied
by any of the huge stubby-legged snakes. The _slirans_ spent most of
their lives in the muddy pools and root caverns at ground level.

He turned down the ramp that wound into the depths. A forgotten
stone-walled passage led under the city walls into the heart of the
massive stone pile that was the Place of Lalal. And there, in the
pleasant upper-level quarters of the One Orst, the high priest of
Lalal, lived the daughter of the One Orst, Mian Ith!

       *       *       *       *       *

From his leather jerkin and his weapons, some time later, Ho Dyak wiped
the slime and encrusted mud. He was hidden in a deserted apartment upon
the fourteenth level, the same level that housed the children and mates
of the One Orst. Thus far had his dark robe, the garment of a fighting
priest who now lay trussed-up with his own harness on the second level,
brought him.

Suddenly he crouched behind a massive chest of hammered silver. The
apartment's oval stone door-slab was swinging inward! Ho Dyak's sword
cleared the leather of his sheath silently. He recognized the voice of
the woman who entered the room--Mian Ith! And behind her came a man,
a blue-robed priest, one of the seekers after wisdom pledged to the
celibate life of a thinker. He wondered why the woman he adored came
stealthily to this musty, empty place with this dreamy-eyed seer of the
mysteries of Lalal.

"My darling!" cried Mian Ith, her arms going about the slight body of
the thinker. "It is so long since we were together!"

"I feared," answered the seeker, his soft high-pitched voice more
feminine than Mian Ith's, "that Ho Dyak would persuade your father
that you should be his mate. He, like you, wore the red robes of the
priestly rulers."

Mian Ith laughed. "The great muscled fool," she sneered. "He thought
that I loved him. He told me of his studies in the forbidden books of
the Ancients. Iiiy! but did he reveal his twisted unbelieving soul to
me! It was a little matter to lay a trap for him--to rid myself of him

Ho Dyak felt his lips curl back from his teeth with scorn and hatred.
This, this--woman! Say, rather, this female _sliran_. She had betrayed
him to the priests of Lalal that she might be free to continue her
forbidden trysts with this puny seeker! It was true. He could read the
woman's unshielded mind now. He had never attempted to do so heretofore.

Two slashes of his keen-edged bronze sword and he would be avenged.
And yet Ho Dyak shook his head even as the thought came to him. He was
well rid of the false-tongued Mian Ith and the dreamy-eyed seeker he
despised. Better had Mian Ith chosen a stalwart black-robed warrior or
yellow-robed toiler for her lover.

The man and the woman moved into the other room, their four arms
interlocked and their soft head tendrils mingled in that half-embrace.
And Ho Dyak slipped from the outer door into the corridor beyond. A
half-ruined ramp within the walls, a ramp sealed off ages past and
revealed to the boy, Ho Dyak, by a dislodged block of masonry, opened
off the ramp a level above. In this way had Ho Dyak climbed in the
bygone years to the Upper Shrine of Lalal and taken from the thousands
of inscribed metal scrolls those he wished to study.

He would go to the Upper Shrine, fill his pouch with other slim metal
skin records of the past, and take as well certain small mysterious
objects sealed in crystalline spheres. The Earthman might know their

And so Ho Dyak ascended the ramp and squeezed through the shadowed
opening so familiar to him.

Later, Ho Dyak turned for a last look about the Upper Shrine. He saw
crystal-walled cases and unrusting metal devices of the Ancients. Here
was static knowledge and machinery that might make Arba the mightiest
nation upon the shores of the Sea of Thol. He touched lightly the pouch
where nine more of the precious metal scrolls nested. Perhaps after all
these centuries the wisdom of the forgotten ages would come to life
beneath his four hands' clumsy touch.

It was then that the javelins came from the grayness of the Shrine's
further corners.

       *       *       *       *       *

The One Orst had laid a trap here for Ho Dyak, that profaner of the
sacred place, should he ever return!

One javelin pierced his side and another passed completely through the
upper muscles of his left middle arm. A third keen-tipped miniature
spear struck the handle of his sword and its copper point blunted

From the gray twilight that was all the day men knew beneath the
fog sea, there poured a dozen black-robed fighting men. Swords they
carried, some of them two and three, and many of them bore the barbed
nooses of woven _droghide_ with which they bound prisoners before they
were driven, blinded, from Gorda.

Ho Dyak rushed through the panel of stone into the ancient sealed
rampway. He paused long enough here to tear the javelin from his side,
and was relieved to find that it had ploughed shallowly across his
ribs. Then he raced down the dimly lighted narrow way.

This time he did not attempt to use the opening on the fifteenth level.
The corridors of the Place of Lalal would be swarming with black-robed
warrior-priests and poorly armed yellow-robed toilers. Instead he raced
on down the ramp into the dank stench of the lower levels. For the
unused ramp led into the same great underground storage cave that he
had entered from the rocky tunnel beneath the city walls.

Bricked-up and partially sealed was its end, and for this reason he had
not ascended that way. Signs of his passing must have shown in a litter
of chipped cement and displaced yellowish slime had he done so. But now
he could shove the wall outward and race toward freedom. What matter,
now, if they found a gaping hole in an apparently solid supporting
pillar of masonry?

He put his eye to the broken wall as he reached the great basement cave
in this part of the underground citadel beneath the Place. Apparently
no guards had been posted here as yet. He lunged against the wall
and it clattered down. Then he darted across the slippery muck and
sprouting toadstool growth to the hidden entrance to the tunnel leading

Even then he heard the rasp of the scaly black plates of hunting
_drogs_, the domesticated long-limbed smaller lizards that the warriors
of Arba use in hunting upon the _agan_ jungle's upper terrace for the
bat-winged wild lizards and white-fleshed, tender, legless serpents so
prized on Arban tables. The black-robed ones had turned their swift
_drogs_ upon his trail! His only safety lay in flight.

Almost had he reached the abandoned tower when the hunting _drogs_ were
upon him. Even as they reached his heels Ho Dyak cast a despairing
glance upward--and saw one of the ancient ventilating shafts that
supplied air to this buried way.

He sprang upward and his fingers closed upon a tough _agan_ root. A
moment later all four of his hands were gripping other roots and he was
climbing carefully up through a rounded shaft.

Below him the hunting _drogs_ leaped high into the air and fell back
again, whistling, growling and screaming in their saurian stupid way.
Twenty feet he had climbed before a solid mat of _agan_ blocked further
upward progress. Ho Dyak clung to the huge hairy white roots and peered
about him.

Meanwhile the Place's warriors came swiftly up with their six-limbed
lizard beasts. A cry of triumph came up to Ho Dyak.

"Come down, Ho Dyak!" one of them shouted, "and we will not permit the
_drogs_ to destroy you."

Ho Dyak laughed shortly. "It is you who will destroy me," he said, "and
not the _drogs_. I prefer the _drogs_."

"Surrender, Ho Dyak," cried the man menacingly, "at once, and the One
Orst may but take from you your eyes. Delay, and his tame _drogs_ will
eat your limbs, one by one, as you yet live."

"I prefer a javelin," mocked Ho Dyak. "The death is clean and merciful."

"Then take it!" shouted the man, drawing back his throwing stick.

But even as a hail of javelins hummed upward Ho Dyak was in motion.
He had swung on his shaggy ladder of roots into a ragged crevice in
the side of the shaft. And so the javelins buried themselves only in
the rubbery coils of _agan_. A howl of rage rolled up through the old
ventilating shaft.

Ho Dyak crawled further into the narrow crevice. At every instant he
expected to find that the probing roots or stems of the fleshy _agan_
had closed this last hope of escape, but as time passed and the way
widened he began to hope. Other tunnels branched off from time to time
and he crawled through tepid pools of foul water in which he sensed
the wriggling of hideous alien things with scaly-finned limbs and
tails. The blackness was total. He groped onward.

       *       *       *       *       *

And then he fell forward into a blackness that was not total and found
himself squatting in the shallow muck of a sullen underground river. Or
perhaps that lightless roof overhead was but the matted stems and roots
of the sunless vines of the fog seas. He saw a faint luminous glow
that came from the river. Thousands of tiny light-producing aquatic
plant-animals swarmed in the depths.

He saw a raft of tied buoyant _agan_ stems, huge two-foot sections
ten and eleven feet long, and poling it along with a tough spear of
hide-bound bone, was a woman in a scant, ragged tunic. At the same
instant she saw him.

"In Lalal's name," she demanded, "why do you sit in the water so? Are
not there few enough warriors in the two caves of the Outcasts without
offering yourself thus freely to the water _slirans_?"

[Illustration: _"In Lalal's name," she demanded, "why do you sit in the
water so?"_]

Ho Dyak realized that this was one of the blinded Outcasts, turned out
to die in the jungles because they dared question the rule of the One
Orst and his priestly underlings.

"I am Ho Dyak," he said, "who is hunted by the black-robed ones, the

"We have heard of you, Ho Dyak," the blind girl said, "and we welcome
you to the poor sanctuary of our caves." She poled the raft nearer. "I
am Sarn Vod, daughter of Dra Vod."

"Dra Vod is your father!" cried Ho Dyak. "I have heard of him. He built
a machine powered by the sap of pressed _agan_ for his boat!"

"Aye," agreed the girl, "and his reward was blindness. Of the three
hundred Outcasts in our rocky caves a hundred are sightless."

"You can see!" Ho Dyak burst out. He was looking into the beautiful
slim face of the girl. She was more beautiful than Mian Ith had
ever been. From that moment Ho Dyak forgot the faithless One Orst's

"Of course," agreed the girl, laughing. "I was born after my father was
taken into the hidden village of the Outcasts."

They sat close together, then, in the raft, and Ho Dyak opened his mind
to the mind of the girl. She in turn opened her mind to him. It was
not long that they sat thus but when Sarn Vod took up the pole of bone
again they had found that they loved one another.

Never before had Ho Dyak allowed another to probe into the remoter
recesses of his brain. But he knew that she could be trusted. Her
childlike acceptance of him even before he opened his thoughts to her
convinced him of that.

"I will go with you to the camp of the Earthman," she told Ho Dyak
softly, as they neared the upreared hillock of soft gray rock from
which their two cave homes had been laboriously scraped.

"It is good," agreed Ho Dyak, "and later, when we have found a secure
place, I will come back for your people. The Outcasts will be the first
to share with us the wisdom of the Ancients."

Sarn Vod flashed him a quick mental caress as the raft grounded in the
shelter of an overhanging ledge. He stepped to take her in his arms,
and halted as a giant of a man groped toward them. Where his eyes had
been there were now but empty sockets.

"My father," said the girl, "Dra Vod!"

"And my father as well," said Ho Dyak, leaping to the blind man's side,
and his two middle arms locked with the elbows of Dra Vod's short
middle arms.

Dra Vod's own powerful webbed fingers gripped Ho Dyak's elbows in
return as their minds interlocked in greeting for a brief moment.

So it was that two days later Ho Dyak and his mate, Sarn, climbed the
chill slopes above the lowlands and came to the highlands. With them
came two of the Outcasts, young hunters who wished to see the world
above the fog sea.

Ho Dyak wore the space suit that he had cached far below in a rocky
cliff's creviced wall, and Sarn and the two Outcasts wore as many and
more garments than Ho Dyak had worn long days before.

As they came through the last shreds of the watery vapor that flooded
the bowl of the Sea of Thol, one of the young Outcast warriors was
in the lead. Suddenly he uttered a short, choked cry and fell,
toppling back into the mist. And the rocks around them rattled with
copper-tipped javelins.

"Quick!" shouted Ho Dyak. "It is the black-robed ones, the priests!
They have been lying in wait for us!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Back into the welcome protection of the fog sea the Outcasts plunged,
but now there were only three of them. For one thing was Ho Dyak
grateful: the thinning network of _agan_ afforded no safe footing for
the hunting _drogs_.

"We die?" questioned Sarn quietly, and Ho Dyak laughed back at her.
They were resting for a moment, listening.

"Not so long as my sword arms last," he said, "and of arms I have four."

"But they will follow us along the rim," objected Sarn. "When we climb
upward again they will see us."

"They are cold and hungry," Ho Dyak told her, "and there are none too
many of them. If we can reach the plateau safely we can fight them off,
until we reach the rocket ship of the Earthman."

"We will be safe with the rocket rifle of Nelson to protect us," agreed

Ho Dyak started along the thick stalks of _agan_ again, his arms
gripping the interlacing of rubbery greenish stems on his right. And
behind him came Sarn and the young Outcast.

By nightfall they had moved a matter of two miles further along the
left wall of the barrier cliffs. The lone moon of Thrane had not as yet
lifted above the horizon and so they climbed silently upward into an
almost complete darkness. Out of the fog sea they made their way, and
safely into the dense jungle growth spreading at this point.

Sarn was chilled to the bone, and the young warrior's thick lips were
blue with cold. The temperature of the lower plateau had dropped to
almost a hundred degrees with the coming of dusk, ninety degrees below
that of the lowlands. And so Ho Dyak followed a small stream, warmer
than the usual upland streams, up to a rocky bluff where steaming
water rolled white vapor into the growing moonlight of the jungle
clearing. By some good fortune the hot spring gushed up in the heart
of a small cavern and the two Outcasts were not forced to lie in the
almost-boiling water.

With morning they marched eastward to the jungle meadow where the
spaceship's shattered bulk lay. The spaceship was empty. Ho Dyak saw
that the helicopter was gone from the cargo hold, and with it many
supplies. Nelson and the girl had thought he was not returning and gone
in search of the ancient gateway that might pierce through to Earth!

Ho Dyak turned his eyes toward the mud-daubed hut of stones he had
abandoned. His eyes widened at the sight of steam rising from its dome.
Could they be--? No, it was impossible. Shattered though it was, the
spaceship afforded better protection for Nelson and Marta than the
igloo. Then who--?

Immediately, Ho Dyak knew the answer. The black-robed _orsts_ had taken
over the igloo! And they were not yet aware of the presence of the

He returned to the hidden Outcasts, his mate and the young warrior, but
with him he carried a rocket rifle that Nelson had thoughtfully left

"Come," he told the warrior, "we will drive the black-robed ones from
our hut. With the Earthman's gun they will be helpless before us."

They marched side by side, two warriors from the fog sea, toward the
rocky dome from which the plumes of white steam jetted. At last the
priests saw them and came pouring from their warm shelter.

"Go back to the Place of Lalal," ordered Ho Dyak.

The black-robed, thick-padded bodies of the seven priestly fighting men
shook with laughter. These two outcasts ordered them to retreat! They
plunged ahead.

The rocket gun whirred and an explosion ripped two of the
priest-warriors into tatters. Ho Dyak reloaded and fired, and a third
warrior dropped. And then the tiny battery that fired the rocket shell
went dead! The third rocket shell did not blast into the attacking men.

Ho Dyak flung down the useless weapon and drew his sword. Javelins
could not pierce his space suit, only a sword could crush through to
his body. His other hand was busy with his throwing stick and javelins,
and he cursed the two limbs of the Earthmen that prevented his middle
pair of arms from being used.

Four of the enemy faced the two of them at the last, and their weapons
clashed together. Ho Dyak fought with the strength of despair, and
downed one of the black-robed ones, but then he was battling three
swordsmen. The young Outcast had fallen.

Suddenly a shadow fell upon the fighting men from above. An explosion
sounded and a priestly warrior fell, and then another. The sole
survivor raced madly away toward the fog sea's welcome shelter and
Ho Dyak was glad to let him escape. He would carry the word of the
terrible weapons of Earth to the watchers along the rim.

The spaceship's helicopter settled slowly to the ground. Ho Dyak
hurried toward the little ship's cabin and at the same time he saw Sarn
come stumbling from the jungle toward them.

"Nick of time," grinned Nelson, and behind him Ho Dyak could see Marta
Gosden's startled bloodless face.

"Right you are," Ho Dyak assured the Earthman. "And how did the search
for a gateway to Earth go?"

"We're not worrying about that for the present," said Nelson. "You need
us, Ho Dyak, and I think we need you too. We're staying here on Thrane
for a long time."

"I am glad," Ho Dyak flashed. "In centuries to come all Thrane will
bless you."

"That's so much jet dust," scoffed Nelson. "But we did find a canyon,
several miles deep, Ho Dyak, a sort of fog lake, where you may be able
to live normally, and above it, on the second plateau we found an ideal
spot for our own home."

He squeezed Marta's shoulder as she slipped past him. Then he was
beside her as she greeted Sarn. Ho Dyak smiled as he felt the friendly
spirit that was instantly kindled between these women of two strange

"She is lovely!" cried Marta to Ho Dyak and Nelson, "and so miserable.
Run to the ship, Glade, and bring another space suit."

Yes, thought Ho Dyak, with the knowledge of two races his ivory-skinned
race might once again spread up over the fertile chill plateaus of
Thrane. Already he loved the mighty vistas of clear air here above
the fog sea. Never again would he be satisfied with the circumscribed
grayness of a fog-bound world....

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Fog of the Forgotten" ***

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