King of Fang and Claw

Bob Byrd


Book One of Ka-Zar of the Beasts King of Claw and Fang
by Bob Byrd
Originally Copyrighted by Manvis Publishing, Inc. in 1936. No notice of renewal.
Through the menacing brooding jungle stalked the mighty white youth Ka-Zar discovering, fighting, conquering beasts, savages and white men who came to kill, and steal the golden treasures from this primeval heart of the Congo.

CHAPTER I
Heart of Darkness
THE Congo--heart of darkest Africa--two degrees south of the Equator.
Abruptly the sun was blotted out and a sudden deluge descended from the heavens. It fell steadily in a silver sheet for five minutes, then as abruptly stopped. It was the first rain, marking the beginning of the rainy season.
The brassy sun showed its molten face again, hotter than before. From the floor of the primeval jungle a miasmic mist steamed slowly upward. The air was sullen, brooding, oppressive.
From a thousand giant trees, matted and festooned with an impenetrable tangle of vines, the lemurs scolded querulously at one another. Vividly plumed birds screamed hoarsely as they flitted from tree to tree. And the beasts of the earth snarled and spat at each other as they wrangled over their kill
Darkest Africa, where Nature had been prodigal and profligate. She had peopled this, her richest land, with a myriad of living things--plant, beast, bird and fish. And then, as if regretting her generosity, she had pitted the one against the other. Let the Law be that of Claw and Fang; let the strong survive.
Suddenly, above the teeming noises of earth and air, a mighty roar reverberated between the trees. As if blasted by an evil curse the jungle was hushed.
Then, a moment later, with a majestic stride a mighty lion pushed through the brush and stepped into a small, open clearing that bordered a lake of cerulean blue.
Zar the Mighty paused a moment on the edge of the clearing. Slowly, disdainfully he swung his massive head from side to side as he surveyed his domain. His tawny mane was ruffed; his tufted tail switched nervously from side to side.
Again he tilted back his head. Again the rumbling bass note of his defiance filled the clearing. But there was no one who dared answer his challenge.
Zar snorted contemptuously, lashed his tail once more and proceeded slowly down to the water's edge. This respectful silence that greeted his coming was fitting to his might and dignity. For wasn't he Zar the Mighty--Lord of the Jungle?
He drank, long and deeply. But minutes before he had his fill his head snapped up. A snarl rumbled in his throat; his leather lungs expanded and the talons of his fore-paws arched.
From high over head came an angry, droning buzz that grew louder, more insistent with every moment's passing. Zar threw back his head and looked up between the trees. What fool of a bird was this who dared challenge the might of his claw and fang?
And then he saw it, first as a speck looming out of the south. It advanced rapidly, with incredible speed, flying low; and the roar of its coming put even Zar's stentorian bellow to shame.
This was not Pindar the Eagle or Kru come to the vulture's feast. Zar had never seen such a bird before--one with such an incredible spread of wing--one that screamed its defiance as it flew like an arrow.
However, he felt no fear in its presence. His muscles simply bulged in anger.
From slitted, amber eyes he watched the strange bird as it soared above the clearing. It cleared the far side, then suddenly, without warning, a jet of black smoke belched forth from its side.
Zar's snarl rose on a higher note. He held his ground but crouched low. What trick was this? What strange method of attack from this strange bird?
Then, still watching, he saw the winged thing stagger in mid-air, pivot around on its mighty spread of shining wings and glide down for the clearing where he stood.
Zar ruled the jungle because of his cunning as well as his strength. Confronted by the unknown for the first time in his life, he decided to stalk this new enemy. With one bound he cleared the shore of the lake; with another he was crouched low in the tangle of brush that bordered the clearing.
Above him he heard a rushing roar of air that made him think of the times when the jungle trees bent to the storms fury. And high above this sound came an eerie wail that grated down the long length of his supple spine.
Crouching low he looked up. The bird was swooping down headed straight for him. Smoke still jetted from its belley. It was clearing the trees now at the far side. He watched with a fascination tempered by awe. Then abruptly he tensed. One wing of this new, fantastic creature had carelessly brushed the outflung
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