One by one the remaining brutes stretched themselves upon the bubbling decomposition that covered the mass of bones upon the floor of their den, until but a single apt remained awake.
To this end Thuvan Dihn placed himself close against the cave's wall, beside the entrance to the eighth chamber, while I deliberately showed myself to the guardian apt as he looked toward our retreat.
Quickly we glanced into the eighth chamber--not an apt had moved.
Finally the apt relaxed, sighing, as with the passing of a bad dream, and resumed the regular respiration of deep slumber.
At other times they roam singly or in pairs in and out of the caves, so that it would have been practically impossible for two men to have passed through the entire twenty-seven chambers without encountering an apt in nearly every one of them.
All were clothed in magnificent furs--the six in the black and yellow striped hide of the orluk, while he who approached alone was resplendent in the pure white skin of an apt.
"And death lurks at every step among rotting dead, for here the fierce apts lair, adding to the putrid accumulation with the fragments of their own prey which they cannot devour.
The bones of dead men lay man high upon the broad floor of the first cave, and over all was a putrid mush of decaying flesh, through which the apts had beaten a hideous trail toward the entrance to the second cave beyond.
Then, within the eighth cave, we came upon a lair of apts.
To attempt to pass through the midst of that fierce herd seemed, even to me, the height of folly, and so I proposed to Thuvan Dihn that he return to the outer world with Woola, that the two might find their way to civilization and come again with a sufficient force to overcome not only the apts, but any further obstacles that might lie between us and our goal.
From where we stood we saw that the fighting among the apts was growing less, and that many that had been feeding had ceased and lain down to sleep.
We were afterward to learn that but once a month is it possible to find all the apts of the Carrion Caves in a single chamber.