The Diamond of Ashair
1934 Radio Serial Synopsis:
Week 8: Eps 22-24
As the Tarzan Gregory expedition forges ahead through the jungles of the Belgian Congo, Helen Gregory mysteriously disappears from her tent in the midst of the encampment. Tarzan goes in search of her. After an absence of eight days he rejoins the expedition without having found a trace of the missing girl. In an argument over Magra, Thome is about to kill Wolf when Tarzan separates the combatants and the little camp settles down on the edge of the jungle before venturing out over the vast expanse of sun-baked rock culminating in the volcanic cone of Tuen Baka. D’Arnot takes up his post as sentry. Magra accompanies the Frenchman and admits to him, her love of Tarzan. In the midst of her remarks she suddenly screams. Swinging slowly toward them in the branches of the tress is a terrifying phosphorescent death’s head. As Tarzan arrives in answer to D’Arnot’s call, the gruesome apparition speaks an ominous warning.
Just as Tarzan goes to investigate, the fearsome face fades away. D’Arnot warns everyone to stay together so there will be no more disappearances. Although he hadn’t heard the voice from the mask, Thome guesses that it was Egyptian. Tarzan returns. He has discovered nothing but is positive that the apparition is not of the jungle and has been sent from Ashair to frighten them.
The little group composed themselves to sleep about the campfire. Far down in the black velvet sky hangs the ghost of a waning moon. Crickets thicken the air with their shrilling and quiet waiting like sheeted death steals over the forest. Above the sleeping camp on a giant limb, Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle, keeps his lonely vigil through the long hours. Ears that can hear histah the snake pass through the grass, eyes that like a cat see in the dark – his every jungle trained sense is alert to catch some unusual sound. At the first long slit of daylight Tarzan awakes his friends and as if sleep were an unnecessary waste of time for him, goes directly about the business at hand.
Tarzan insists that they lighten the load in their packs even more before embarking on their journey across the hot, desolate volcanic plain. They follow a glass-smooth, perfectly straight road, which slopes gradually upward, as they approach the distant volcano. Around a bend the road is suddenly fringed by vertical cliffs and their sense that they are being watched becomes even more pronounced. Seeing an inscription on an upper ledge, Tarzan and Thome climb the cliff to investigate. While Thome studies the inscription, Tarzan enters a cave where he discovers scraps of cooked meat and fragments of cloth from Helen’s leggings. To their amazement the encounter a giant beast which Thome identifies as a Tyrannosaurus – a dinosaur commonly believed to be extinct. The monster attacks.
Tarzan leads his party through the jungle to a point where all vegetation ceases. Before them lies a dreary vista of black and red lava rock gradually rising to form the volcanic rim of Tuen Baka, the “Mountain of Sunrise.” Tarzan discovers a road over the desolate terrain worn smooth by the sandled tread of millions of feet and he and his friends set out over this centuries old highway across the barren waste. The road plunges into a deep rocky gorge and Tarzan and Thome ascend a narrow path to a smooth ledge above the road where they discover a cave and close to its mouth a bit of Helen Gregory’s clothing. As they are about to enter the cavern to look for further evidence of the missing girl, a great scaly four-legged creature of prehistoric origin rushes out to meet them. Snorting and roaring its challenge, it advances straight toward Tarzan.
Ignoring Thome’s warning to run for his life from the dinosaur, Tarzan attacks the beast. Screaming “Kreegah” he leaps onto the neck of the monster and plunges his knife repeatedly and without effect into the animal’s thick armour. A glancing blow from the animal’s tail throws him into a position where he is able to sever the exposed jugular vein. The monster goes into its death throes and finally lies still. Tarzan places a foot on the carcass and vents the victory cry of the bull ape: “Taaarmaaan-gaaaneee”.
Thome and D’Arnot identify the beast as a carnivorous dinosaur that lived before the Pleistocene age – 25-500 thousand years ago! (sic). Tarzan has found evidence that Helen and her captors have recently passed along the ledge: a morsel of cooked meat and a piece of Helen’s legging. Tarzan senses that they are being watched but orders the party to follow Helen’s trail. Larson’s warning shout draws their attention to a strange four-legged flying creature, which D’Arnot identifies as a pterodactyl. Thome eases the party’s nervousness by quoting an ancient Chinese proverb: “Let today be free from tomorrow’s care.”
Farther along they come upon more sinister carved death-head markers along the side of the trail. Noting Thome’s fascination with the hieroglyphic inscriptions on the carvings, Tarzan suspects that the oriental may be able to decipher their meaning. They make camp nearby at the base of a cliff.
Thome confide to Magra that he can indeed read the hieroglyphics and that they present an ominous warning: “Advance and thou bringest upon thine house the curse of the eater of souls of Ashair.” He warns her to keep this knowledge a secret.
Even Tarzan, tireless as he is, welcomes the cool darkness of night. The others, completely worn out by their long march over iron-hard road beneath the intense rays of the blazing sun, drop at once into the sleep of utter exhaustion.
At the end of his watch Thome awakens Wolf and reports no sign of any living thing. The German, only half awake, drops wearily to a seat on a boulder close by. He leans against the cliff wall – his rifle across his knees. Drowsily he ruminates upon the death heads carved in the stone wall of the causeway and the shrines. In imagination he beholds those great hollow eye sockets fastened upon him in a baleful glare. He tries to struggle to his feet. Desperately he fights in the clutch of an awful nightmare. He tears open his eyes. An icy chill runs over him as he realizes he is not dreaming. In his ears is a strange weird wailing. He lifts his head and stares directly into two great gleaming orbs.
Wolf screams to Tarzan for help!
Leaving the jungle, Tarzan and his little party enter the volcanic region of Tuen Baka on their way to the Forbidden City of Ashair. A livid gleaming death’s head appears mysteriously to Magra and D’Arnot and evaporates into thin air after speaking to them in a strange tongue. On the trail, Tarzan comes upon evidence of Helen Gregory whom he believes to have been captured by the Hesiharians. Then the apeman is attacked by a dinosaur which he kills. During the early morning hours of Wolf’s watch over their camp, he falls asleep dreaming of the carved death’s head masks. In the midst of his nightmare he is awakened and stares up directly into two great gleaming eyes.
Tarzan answers Wolf’s cries for help and finds him surrounded by Chief Hakiru and his warriors of Hesiharia. Tarzan explains that they are searching for the Gregorys and mean no harm. The chief says they will escort them to Ashair where their arrival is being awaited by the all-knowing King and Queen. In the first light of dawn’s the warriors appear to be skeletons with faces like the death masks they have seen so often on their journey. Even though they have been allowed to keep their weapons, the party fear that they will soon be prisoners of Ashair.
From a dull grey, the heavens in the east begin to show crimson and yellow pennants streaking the blue-black sky with the forerunners of sunrise. D’Arnot stares at the forms and features of their escort beginning now to become visible -- thirty men, all with the faces of death. Their grinning, awesome features are surmounted by a mop of long coarse black hair falling to their shoulders. Long voluminous white robes completely cover their silently moving figures. With an odd feeling of relief, the Frenchman realizes that what he had at first assumed to be the true features of this ghostlike company are merely cleverly constructed masks, effectually concealing the faces of the wearers.
Tarzan asks the chief if Helen Gregory has been brought to Ashair lately. D’Arnot becomes upset when the chief responds that strangers are not welcome in Ashair and then refuses to answer any more questions about the Gregorys. Chief Hakiru believes that Thome is a chief as “Atan” means chief in the language of the Hesiharians. Thome explains that the name Atan has been handed down to him from his Egyptian ancestors. The oriental takes the opportunity to ask about the existence of talking apes. He learns that the “Great Hairy Men of A-al who speak” are the guardians of Ma-at-chu – the Eye of the Sun – the Father of Diamonds. The language of the hairy men is understood only by the priests.
As they approach the volcano they see two parallel rails of brass-like material running up the side of the mountain. They are told it is the track of the Sinoot which will transport them to the rim via a decorated, boat-like vessel.
With the sinking of the sun behind the distant horizon, Tarzan and his friends and their strange phantom-like escort arrive abruptly at the end of the roadway. Beyond, towering several thousands of feet above the surrounding rocky plain, the almost perpendicular walls of the Mountain of Sunrise thrust their formidable black ramparts high into the darkening sky.
From the cliff wall directly above and behind Akuru, who is well in advance of the party and their escort, a huge python-like reptile drops down upon great widespread wings to land on the rocky floor within a few feet of the Hesiharian. Its coal black body is over 20 feet long – 12-18 inches through the middle between the web-like wings. It flashes toward Akuru. Great black coils enfold him in a crushing embrace. The long, narrow head with its dead-black eyes moves back – the mouth opens, exposing dagger-like fangs inwardly curved. Hissing loudly, the loathsome monster begins to tighten its gigantic coils about the body of the helpless man. The head stops swaying – in preparation to strike.
“By the gods of Haer! It is a winged argot! I am doomed! Aaaauggghhhh!
DIAMOND OF ASHER ~ SERIAL SUMMARIES
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