Part 5 out of 5
whom I am betrothed--a fellow countryman, Djor Kantos."
"You mean, Tara of Helium," he cried, "that were it not for that
"Stop!" she commanded. "You have no right to assume aught else
than my lips testify."
"The eyes are ofttimes more eloquent than the lips, Tara," he
replied; "and in yours I have read that which is neither hatred
nor contempt for Turan the panthan, and my heart tells me that
your lips bore false witness when they cried in anger: 'I hate
"I do not hate you, Turan, nor yet may I love you," said the
"When I broke my way out from the chamber of I-Gos I was indeed
upon the verge of believing that you did hate me," he said, "for
only hatred, it seemed to me, could account for the fact that you
had gone without making an effort to liberate me; but presently
both my heart and my judgment told me that Tara of Helium could
not have deserted a companion in distress, and though I still am
in ignorance of the facts I know that it was beyond your power to
"It was indeed," said the girl. "Scarce had I-Gos fallen at the
bite of my dagger than I heard the approach of warriors. I ran
then to hide until they had passed, thinking to return and
liberate you; but in seeking to elude the party I had heard I ran
full into the arms of another. They questioned me as to your
whereabouts, and I told them that you had gone ahead and that I
was following you and thus I led them from you."
"I knew," was Gahan's only comment, but his heart was glad with
elation, as a lover's must be who has heard from the lips of his
divinity an avowal of interest and loyalty, however little tinged
by a suggestion of warmer regard it may be. To be abused, even,
by the mistress of one's heart is better than to be ignored.
As the two conversed in the ill-lit chamber, the dim bulbs of
which were encrusted with the accumulated dust of centuries, a
bent and withered figure traversed slowly the gloomy corridors
without, his weak and watery eyes peering through thick lenses at
the signs of passage written upon the dusty floor.
THE MENACE OF THE DEAD
The night was still young when there came one to the entrance of
the banquet hall where O-Tar of Manator dined with his chiefs,
and brushing past the guards entered the great room with the
insolence of a privileged character, as in truth he was. As he
approached the head of the long board O-Tar took notice of him.
"Well, hoary one!" he cried. "What brings you out of your beloved
and stinking burrow again this day. We thought that the sight of
the multitude of living men at the games would drive you back to
your corpses as quickly as you could go."
The cackling laugh of I-Gos acknowledged the royal sally. "Ey,
ey, O-Tar," squeaked the ancient one, "I-Gos goes out not upon
pleasure bound; but when one does ruthlessly desecrate the dead
of I-Gos, vengeance must be had!"
"You refer to the act of the slave Turan?" demanded O-Tar.
"Turan, yes, and the slave Tara, who slipped beneath my hide a
murderous blade. Another fraction of an inch, O-Tar, and I-Gos'
ancient and wrinkled covering were even now in some apprentice
tanner's hands, ey, ey!"
"But they have again eluded us," cried O-Tar. "Even in the palace
of the great jeddak twice have they escaped the stupid knaves I
call The Jeddak's Guard." O-Tar had risen and was angrily
emphasizing his words with heavy blows upon the table, dealt with
a golden goblet.
"Ey, O-Tar, they elude thy guard but not the wise old calot,
"What mean you? Speak!" commanded O-Tar.
"I know where they are hid," said the ancient taxidermist. "In
the dust of unused corridors their feet have betrayed them."
"You followed them? You have seen them?" demanded the jeddak.
"I followed them and I heard them speaking beyond a closed door,"
replied I-Gos; "but I did not see them."
"Where is that door?" cried O-Tar. "We will send at once and
fetch them," he looked about the table as though to decide to
whom he would entrust this duty. A dozen warrior chiefs arose and
laid their hands upon their swords.
"To the chambers of O-Mai the Cruel I traced them," squeaked
I-Gos. "There you will find them where the moaning Corphals
pursue the shrieking ghost of O-Mai; ey!" and he turned his eyes
from O-Tar toward the warriors who had arisen, only to discover
that, to a man, they were hurriedly resuming their seats.
The cackling laughter of I-Gos broke derisively the hush that had
fallen on the room. The warriors looked sheepishly at the food
upon their plates of gold. O-Tar snapped his fingers impatiently.
"Be there only cravens among the chiefs of Manator?" he cried.
"Repeatedly have these presumptuous slaves flouted the majesty of
your jeddak. Must I command one to go and fetch them?"
Slowly a chief arose and two others followed his example, though
with ill-concealed reluctance. "All, then, are not cowards,"
commented O-Tar. "The duty is distasteful. Therefore all three of
you shall go, taking as many warriors as you wish."
"But do not ask for volunteers," interrupted I-Gos, "or you will
The three chiefs turned and left the banquet hall, walking slowly
like doomed men to their fate.
Gahan and Tara remained in the chamber to which Tasor had led
them, the man brushing away the dust from a deep and comfortable
bench where they might rest in comparative comfort. He had found
the ancient sleeping silks and furs too far gone to be of any
service, crumbling to powder at a touch, thus removing any chance
of making a comfortable bed for the girl, and so the two sat
together, talking in low tones, of the adventures through which
they already had passed and speculating upon the future; planning
means of escape and hoping Tasor would not be long gone. They
spoke of many things--of Hastor, and Helium, and Ptarth, and
finally the conversation reminded Tara of Gathol.
"You have served there?" she asked.
"Yes," replied Turan.
"I met Gahan the Jed of Gathol at my father's palace," she said,
"the very day before the storm snatched me from Helium--he was a
presumptuous fellow, magnificently trapped in platinum and
diamonds. Never in my life saw I so gorgeous a harness as his,
and you must well know, Turan, that the splendor of all Barsoom
passes through the court at Helium; but in my mind I could not
see so resplendent a creature drawing that jeweled sword in
mortal combat. I fear me that the Jed of Gathol, though a pretty
picture of a man, is little else."
In the dim light Tara did not perceive the wry expression upon
the half-averted face of her companion.
"You thought little then of the Jed of Gathol?" he asked.
"Then or now," she replied, and with a little laugh; "how it
would pique his vanity to know, if he might, that a poor panthan
had won a higher place in the regard of Tara of Helium," and she
laid her fingers gently upon his knee.
He seized the fingers in his and carried them to his lips. "O,
Tara of Helium," he cried. "Think you that I am a man of stone?"
One arm slipped about her shoulders and drew the yielding body
"May my first ancestor forgive me my weakness," she cried, as her
arms stole about his neck and she raised her panting lips to his.
For long they clung there in love's first kiss and then she
pushed him away, gently. "I love you, Turan," she half sobbed; "I
love you so! It is my only poor excuse for having done this wrong
to Djor Kantos, whom now I know I never loved, who knew not the
meaning of love. And if you love me as you say, Turan, your love
must protect me from greater dishonor, for I am but as clay in
Again he crushed her to him and then as suddenly released her,
and rising, strode rapidly to and fro across the chamber as
though he endeavored by violent exercise to master and subdue
some evil spirit that had laid hold upon him. Ringing through his
brain and heart and soul like some joyous paean were those words
that had so altered the world for Gahan of Gathol: "I love you,
Turan; I love you so!" And it had come so suddenly. He had
thought that she felt for him only gratitude for his loyalty and
then, in an instant, her barriers were all down, she was no
longer a princess; but instead a--his reflections were
interrupted by a sound from beyond the closed door. His sandals
of zitidar hide had given forth no sound upon the marble floor he
strode, and as his rapid pacing carried him past the entrance to
the chamber there came faintly from the distance of the long
corridor the sound of metal on metal--the unmistakable herald of
the approach of armed men.
For a moment Gahan listened intently, close to the door, until
there could be no doubt but that a party of warriors was
approaching. From what Tasor had told him he guessed correctly
that they would be coming to this portion of the palace but for a
single purpose--to search for Tara and himself--and it behooved
him therefore to seek immediate means for eluding them. The
chamber in which they were had other doorways beside that at
which they had entered, and to one of these he must look for some
safer hiding place. Crossing to Tara he acquainted her with his
suspicion, leading her to one of the doors which they found
unsecured. Beyond it lay a dimly-lighted chamber at the threshold
of which they halted in consternation, drawing back quickly into
the chamber they had just quitted, for their first glance
revealed four warriors seated around a jetan board.
That their entrance had not been noted was attributed by Gahan to
the absorption of the two players and their friends in the game.
Quietly closing the door the fugitives moved silently to the
next, which they found locked. There was now but another door
which they had not tried, and this they approached quickly as
they knew that the searching party must be close to the chamber.
To their chagrin they found this avenue of escape barred.
Now indeed were they in a sorry plight, for should the searchers
have information leading them to this room they were lost. Again
leading Tara to the door behind which were the jetan players
Gahan drew his sword and waited, listening. The sound of the
party in the corridor came distinctly to their ears--they must be
quite close, and doubtless they were coming in force. Beyond the
door were but four warriors who might be readily surprised. There
could, then, be but one choice and acting upon it Gahan quietly
opened the door again, stepped through into the adjoining
chamber, Tara's hand in his, and closed the door behind them. The
four at the jetan board evidently failed to hear them. One player
had either just made or was contemplating a move, for his fingers
grasped a piece that still rested upon the board. The other three
were watching his move. For an instant Gahan looked at them,
playing jetan there in the dim light of this forgotten and
forbidden chamber, and then a slow smile of understanding lighted
"Come!" he said to Tara. "We have nothing to fear from these. For
more than five thousand years they have sat thus, a monument to
the handiwork of some ancient taxidermist."
As they approached more closely they saw that the lifelike
figures were coated with dust, but that otherwise the skin was in
as fine a state of preservation as the most recent of I-Gos'
groups, and then they heard the door of the chamber they had
quitted open and knew that the searchers were close upon them.
Across the room they saw the opening of what appeared to be a
corridor and which investigation proved to be a short passageway,
terminating in a chamber in the center of which was an ornate
sleeping dais. This room, like the others, was but poorly
lighted, time having dimmed the radiance of its bulbs and coated
them with dust. A glance showed that it was hung with heavy goods
and contained considerable massive furniture in addition to the
sleeping platform, a second glance at which revealed what
appeared to be the form of a man lying partially on the floor and
partially on the dais. No doorways were visible other than that
at which they had entered, though both knew that others might be
concealed by the hangings.
Gahan, his curiosity aroused by the legends surrounding this
portion of the palace, crossed to the dais to examine the figure
that apparently had fallen from it, to find the dried and
shrivelled corpse of a man lying upon his back on the floor with
arms outstretched and fingers stiffly outspread. One of his feet
was doubled partially beneath him, while the other was still
entangled in the sleeping silks and furs upon the dais. After
five thousand years the expression of the withered face and the
eyeless sockets retained the aspect of horrid fear to such an
extent, that Gahan knew that he was looking upon the body of
O-Mai the Cruel.
Suddenly Tara, who stood close beside him, clutched his arm and
pointed toward a far corner of the room. Gahan looked and looking
felt the hairs upon his neck rising. He threw his left arm about
the girl and with bared sword stood between her and the hangings
that they watched, and then slowly Gahan of Gathol backed away,
for in this grim and somber chamber, which no human foot had trod
for five thousand years and to which no breath of wind might
enter, the heavy hangings in the far corner had moved. Not gently
had they moved as a draught might have moved them had there been
a draught, but suddenly they had bulged out as though pushed
against from behind. To the opposite corner backed Gahan until
they stood with their backs against the hangings there, and then
hearing the approach of their pursuers across the chamber beyond
Gahan pushed Tara through the hangings and, following her, kept
open with his left hand, which he had disengaged from the girl's
grasp, a tiny opening through which he could view the apartment
and the doorway upon the opposite side through which the pursuers
would enter, if they came this far.
Behind the hangings there was a space of about three feet in
width between them and the wall, making a passageway entirely
around the room, broken only by the single entrance opposite
them; this being a common arrangement especially in the sleeping
apartments of the rich and powerful upon Barsoom. The purposes of
this arrangement were several. The passageway afforded a station
for guards in the same room with their master without intruding
entirely upon his privacy; it concealed secret exits from the
chamber; it permitted the occupant of the room to hide
eavesdroppers and assassins for use against enemies that he might
lure to his chamber.
The three chiefs with a dozen warriors had had no difficulty in
following the tracks of the fugitives through the dust of the
corridors and chambers they had traversed. To enter this portion
of the palace at all had required all the courage they possessed,
and now that they were within the very chambers of O-Mai their
nerves were pitched to the highest key--another turn and they
would snap; for the people of Manator are filled with weird
superstitions. As they entered the outer chamber they moved
slowly, with drawn swords, no one seeming anxious to take the
lead, and the twelve warriors hanging back in unconcealed and
shameless terror, while the three chiefs, spurred on by fear of
O-Tar and by pride, pressed together for mutual encouragement as
they slowly crossed the dimly-lighted room.
Following the tracks of Gahan and Tara they found that though
each doorway had been approached only one threshold had been
crossed and this door they gingerly opened, revealing to their
astonished gaze the four warriors at the jetan table. For a
moment they were on the verge of flight, for though they knew
what they were, coming as they did upon them in this mysterious
and haunted suite, they were as startled as though they had
beheld the very ghosts of the departed. But they presently
regained their courage sufficiently to cross this chamber too and
enter the short passageway that led to the ancient sleeping
apartment of O-Mai the Cruel. They did not know that this awful
chamber lay just before them, or it were doubtful that they would
have proceeded farther; but they saw that those they sought had
come this way and so they followed, but within the gloomy
interior of the chamber they halted, the three chiefs urging
their followers, in low whispers, to close in behind them, and
there just within the entrance they stood until, their eyes
becoming accustomed to the dim light, one of them pointed
suddenly to the thing lying upon the floor with one foot tangled
in the coverings of the dais.
"Look!" he gasped. "It is the corpse of O-Mai! Ancestor of
ancestors! we are in the forbidden chamber." Simultaneously there
came from behind the hangings beyond the grewsome dead a hollow
moan followed by a piercing scream, and the hangings shook and
bellied before their eyes.
With one accord, chieftains and warriors, they turned and bolted
for the doorway; a narrow doorway, where they jammed, fighting
and screaming in an effort to escape. They threw away their
swords and clawed at one another to make a passage for escape;
those behind climbed upon the shoulders of those in front; and
some fell and were trampled upon; but at last they all got
through, and, the swiftest first, they bolted across the two
intervening chambers to the outer corridor beyond, nor did they
halt their mad retreat before they stumbled, weak and trembling,
into the banquet hall of O-Tar. At sight of them the warriors who
had remained with the jeddak leaped to their feet with drawn
swords, thinking that their fellows were pursued by many enemies;
but no one followed them into the room, and the three chieftains
came and stood before O-Tar with bowed heads and trembling knees.
"Well?" demanded the jeddak. "What ails you? Speak!"
"O-Tar," cried one of them when at last he could master his
voice. "When have we three failed you in battle or combat? Have
our swords been not always among the foremost in defense of your
safety and your honor?"
"Have I denied this?" demanded O-Tar.
"Listen, then, O Jeddak, and judge us with leniency. We followed
the two slaves to the apartments of O-Mai the Cruel. We entered
the accursed chambers and still we did not falter. We came at
last to that horrid chamber no human eye had scanned before in
fifty centuries and we looked upon the dead face of O-Mai lying
as he has lain for all this time. To the very death chamber of
O-Mai the Cruel we came and yet we were ready to go farther; when
suddenly there broke upon our horrified ears the moans and the
shrieking that mark these haunted chambers and the hangings moved
and rustled in the dead air. O-Tar, it was more than human nerves
could endure. We turned and fled. We threw away our swords and
fought with one another to escape. With sorrow, but without
shame, I tell it, for there be no man in all Manator that would
not have done the same. If these slaves be Corphals they are safe
among their fellow ghosts. If they be not Corphals, then already
are they dead in the chambers of O-Mai, and there may they rot
for all of me, for I would not return to that accursed spot for
the harness of a jeddak and the half of Barsoom for an empire. I
O-Tar knitted his scowling brows. "Are all my chieftains cowards
and cravens?" he demanded presently in sneering tones.
From among those who had not been of the searching party a
chieftain arose and turned a scowling face upon O-Tar.
"The jeddak knows," he said, "that in the annals of Manator her
jeddaks have ever been accounted the bravest of her warriors.
Where my jeddak leads I will follow, nor may any jeddak call me a
coward or a craven unless I refuse to go where he dares to go. I
After he had resumed his seat there was a painful silence, for
all knew that the speaker had challenged the courage of O-Tar the
Jeddak of Manator and all awaited the reply of their ruler. In
every mind was the same thought--O-Tar must lead them at once to
the chamber of O-Mai the Cruel, or accept forever the stigma of
cowardice, and there could be no coward upon the throne of
Manator. That they all knew and that O-Tar knew, as well.
But O-Tar hesitated. He looked about upon the faces of those
around him at the banquet board; but he saw only the grim visages
of relentless warriors. There was no trace of leniency in the
face of any. And then his eyes wandered to a small entrance at
one side of the great chamber. An expression of relief expunged
the scowl of anxiety from his features.
"Look!" he exclaimed. "See who has come!"
THE CHARGE OF COWARDICE
Gahan, watching through the aperture between the hangings, saw
the frantic flight of their pursuers. A grim smile rested upon
his lips as he viewed the mad scramble for safety and saw them
throw away their swords and fight with one another to be first
from the chamber of fear, and when they were all gone he turned
back toward Tara, the smile still upon his lips; but the smile
died the instant that he turned, for he saw that Tara had
"Tara!" he called in a loud voice, for he knew that there was no
danger that their pursuers would return; but there was no
response, unless it was a faint sound as of cackling laughter
from afar. Hurriedly he searched the passageway behind the
hangings finding several doors, one of which was ajar. Through
this he entered the adjoining chamber which was lighted more
brilliantly for the moment by the soft rays of hurtling Thuria
taking her mad way through the heavens. Here he found the dust
upon the floor disturbed, and the imprint of sandals. They had
come this way--Tara and whatever the creature was that had stolen
But what could it have been? Gahan, a man of culture and high
intelligence, held few if any superstitions. In common with
nearly all races of Barsoom he clung, more or less inherently, to
a certain exalted form of ancestor worship, though it was rather
the memory or legends of the virtues and heroic deeds of his
forebears that he deified rather than themselves. He never
expected any tangible evidence of their existence after death; he
did not believe that they had the power either for good or for
evil other than the effect that their example while living might
have had upon following generations; he did not believe therefore
in the materialization of dead spirits. If there was a life
hereafter he knew nothing of it, for he knew that science had
demonstrated the existence of some material cause for every
seemingly supernatural phenomenon of ancient religions and
superstitions. Yet he was at a loss to know what power might have
removed Tara so suddenly and mysteriously from his side in a
chamber that had not known the presence of man for five thousand
In the darkness he could not see whether there were the imprints
of other sandals than Tara's--only that the dust was
disturbed--and when it led him into gloomy corridors he lost the
trail altogether. A perfect labyrinth of passages and apartments
were now revealed to him as he hurried on through the deserted
quarters of O-Mai. Here was an ancient bath--doubtless that of
the jeddak himself, and again he passed through a room in which a
meal had been laid upon a table five thousand years before--the
untasted breakfast of O-Mai, perhaps. There passed before his
eyes in the brief moments that he traversed the chambers, a
wealth of ornaments and jewels and precious metals that surprised
even the Jed of Gathol whose harness was of diamonds and platinum
and whose riches were the envy of a world. But at last his search
of O-Mai's chambers ended in a small closet in the floor of which
was the opening to a spiral runway leading straight down into
Stygian darkness. The dust at the entrance of the closet had been
freshly disturbed, and as this was the only possible indication
that Gahan had of the direction taken by the abductor of Tara it
seemed as well to follow on as to search elsewhere. So, without
hesitation, he descended into the utter darkness below. Feeling
with a foot before taking a forward step his descent was
necessarily slow, but Gahan was a Barsoomian and so knew the
pitfalls that might await the unwary in such dark, forbidden
portions of a jeddak's palace.
He had descended for what he judged might be three full levels
and was pausing, as he occasionally did, to listen, when he
distinctly heard a peculiar shuffling, scraping sound approaching
him from below. Whatever the thing was it was ascending the
runway at a steady pace and would soon be near him. Gahan laid
his hand upon the hilt of his sword and drew it slowly from its
scabbard that he might make no noise that would apprise the
creature of his presence. He wished that there might be even the
slightest lessening of the darkness. If he could see but the
outline of the thing that approached him he would feel that he
had a fairer chance in the meeting; but he could see nothing, and
then because he could see nothing the end of his scabbard struck
the stone side of the runway, giving off a sound that the
stillness and the narrow confines of the passage and the darkness
seemed to magnify to a terrific clatter.
Instantly the shuffling sound of approach ceased. For a moment
Gahan stood in silent waiting, then casting aside discretion he
moved on again down the spiral. The thing, whatever it might be,
gave forth no sound now by which Gahan might locate it. At any
moment it might be upon him and so he kept his sword in
readiness. Down, ever downward the steep spiral led. The darkness
and the silence of the tomb surrounded him, yet somewhere ahead
was something. He was not alone in that horrid place--another
presence that he could not hear or see hovered before him--of
that he was positive. Perhaps it was the thing that had stolen
Tara. Perhaps Tara herself, still in the clutches of some
nameless horror, was just ahead of him. He quickened his pace--it
became almost a run at the thought of the danger that threatened
the woman he loved, and then he collided with a wooden door that
swung open to the impact. Before him was a lighted corridor. On
either side were chambers. He had advanced but a short distance
from the bottom of the spiral when he recognized that he was in
the pits below the palace. A moment later he heard behind him the
shuffling sound that had attracted his attention in the spiral
runway. Wheeling about he saw the author of the sound emerging
from a doorway he had just passed. It was Ghek the kaldane.
"Ghek!" exclaimed Gahan. "It was you in the runway? Have you seen
Tara of Helium?"
"It was I in the spiral," replied the kaldane; "but I have not
seen Tara of Helium. I have been searching for her. Where is
"I do not know," replied the Gatholian; "but we must find her and
take her from this place."
"We may find her," said Ghek; "but I doubt our ability to take
her away. It is not so easy to leave Manator as it is to enter
it. I may come and go at will, through the ancient burrows of the
ulsios; but you are too large for that and your lungs need more
air than may be found in some of the deeper runways."
"But U-Thor!" exclaimed Gahan. "Have you heard aught of him or
"I have heard much," replied Ghek. "He camps at The Gate of
Enemies. That spot he holds and his warriors lie just beyond The
Gate; but he has not sufficient force to enter the city and take
the palace. An hour since and you might have made your way to
him; but now every avenue is strongly guarded since O-Tar learned
that A-Kor had escaped to U-Thor."
"A-Kor has escaped and joined U-Thor!" exclaimed Gahan.
"But little more than an hour since. I was with him when a
warrior came--a man whose name is Tasor--who brought a message
from you. It was decided that Tasor should accompany A-Kor in an
attempt to reach the camp of U-Thor, the great jed of Manatos,
and exact from him the assurances you required. Then U-Thor was
to return and take food to you and the Princess of Helium. I
accompanied them. We won through easily and found U-Thor more
than willing to respect your every wish, but when Tasor would
have returned to you the way was blocked by the warriors of
O-Tar. Then it was that I volunteered to come to you and report
and find food and drink and then go forth among the Gatholian
slaves of Manator and prepare them for their part in the plan
that U-Thor and Tasor conceived."
"And what was this plan?"
"U-Thor has sent for reinforcements. To Manatos he has sent and
to all the outlying districts that are his. It will take
a month to collect and bring them hither and in the meantime the
slaves within the city are to organize secretly, stealing and
hiding arms against the day that the reinforcements arrive. When
that day comes the forces of U-Thor will enter the Gate of
Enemies and as the warriors of O-Tar rush to repulse them the
slaves from Gathol will fall upon them from the rear with the
majority of their numbers, while the balance will assault the
palace. They hope thus to divert so many from The Gate that
U-Thor will have little difficulty in forcing an entrance to the
"Perhaps they will succeed," commented Gahan; "but the warriors
of O-Tar are many, and those who fight in defense of their homes
and their jeddak have always an advantage. Ah, Ghek, would that
we had the great warships of Gathol or of Helium to pour their
merciless fire into the streets of Manator while U-Thor marched
to the palace over the corpses of the slain." He paused, deep in
thought, and then turned his gaze again upon the kaldane. "Heard
you aught of the party that escaped with me from The Field of
Jetan--of Floran, Val Dor, and the others? What of them?"
"Ten of these won through to U-Thor at The Gate of Enemies and
were well received by him. Eight fell in the fighting upon the
way. Val Dor and Floran live, I believe, for I am sure that I
heard U-Thor address two warriors by these names."
"Good!" exclaimed Gahan. "Go then, through the burrows of the
ulsios, to The Gate of Enemies and carry to Floran the message
that I shall write in his own language. Come, while I write the
In a nearby room they found a bench and table and there Gahan sat
and wrote in the strange, stenographic characters of Martian
script a message to Floran of Gathol. "Why," he asked, when he
had finished it, "did you search for Tara through the spiral
runway where we nearly met?"
"Tasor told me where you were to be found, and as I have explored
the greater part of the palace by means of the ulsio runways and
the darker and less frequented passages I knew precisely where
you were and how to reach you. This secret spiral ascends from
the pits to the roof of the loftiest of the palace towers. It has
secret openings at every level; but there is no living
Manatorian, I believe, who knows of its existence. At least never
have I met one within it and I have used it many times. Thrice
have I been in the chamber where O-Mai lies, though I knew
nothing of his identity or the story of his death until Tasor
told it to us in the camp of U-Thor."
"You know the palace thoroughly then?" Gahan interrupted.
"Better than O-Tar himself or any of his servants."
"Good! And you would serve the Princess Tara, Ghek, you may serve
her best by accompanying Floran and following his instructions. I
will write them here at the close of my message to him, for the
walls have ears, Ghek, while none but a Gatholian may read what I
have written to Floran. He will transmit it to you. Can I trust
"I may never return to Bantoom," replied Ghek. "Therefore I have
but two friends in all Barsoom. What better may I do than serve
them faithfully? You may trust me, Gatholian, who with a woman of
your kind has taught me that there be finer and nobler things
than perfect mentality uninfluenced by the unreasoning tuitions
of the heart. I go."
* * * * *
As O-Tar pointed to the little doorway all eyes turned in the
direction he indicated and surprise was writ large upon the faces
of the warriors when they recognized the two who had entered the
banquet hall. There was I-Gos, and he dragged behind him one who
was gagged and whose hands were fastened behind with a ribbon of
tough silk. It was the slave girl. I-Gos' cackling laughter rose
above the silence of the room.
"Ey, ey!" he shrilled. "What the young warriors of O-Tar cannot
do, old I-Gos does alone."
"Only a Corphal may capture a Corphal," growled one of the chiefs
who had fled from the chambers of O-Mai.
I-Gos laughed. "Terror turned your heart to water," he replied;
"and shame your tongue to libel. This be no Corphal, but only a
woman of Helium; her companion a warrior who can match blades
with the best of you and cut your putrid hearts. Not so in the
days of I-Gos' youth. Ah, then were there men in Manator. Well do
I recall that day that I--"
"Peace, doddering fool!" commanded O-Tar. "Where is the man?"
"Where I found the woman--in the death chamber of O-Mai. Let your
wise and brave chieftains go thither and fetch him. I am an old
man, and could bring but one."
"You have done well, I-Gos," O-Tar hastened to assure him, for
when he learned that Gahan might still be in the haunted chambers
he wished to appease the wrath of I-Gos, knowing well the
vitriolic tongue and temper of the ancient one. "You think she is
no Corphal, then, I-Gos?" he asked, wishing to carry the subject
from the man who was still at large.
"No more than you," replied the ancient taxidermist.
O-Tar looked long and searchingly at Tara of Helium. All the
beauty that was hers seemed suddenly to be carried to every fibre
of his consciousness. She was still garbed in the rich harness of
a Black Princess of Jetan, and as O-Tar the Jeddak gazed upon her
he realized that never before had his eyes rested upon a more
perfect figure--a more beautiful face.
"She is no Corphal," he murmured to himself. "She is no Corphal
and she is a princess--a princess of Helium, and, by the golden
hair of the Holy Hekkador, she is beautiful. Take the gag from
her mouth and release her hands," he commanded aloud. "Make room
for the Princess Tara of Helium at the side of O-Tar of Manator.
She shall dine as becomes a princess."
Slaves did as O-Tar bid and Tara of Helium stood with flashing
eyes behind the chair that was offered her. "Sit!" commanded
The girl sank into the chair. "I sit as a prisoner," she said;
"not as a guest at the board of my enemy, O-Tar of Manator."
O-Tar motioned his followers from the room. "I would speak alone
with the Princess of Helium," he said. The company and the slaves
withdrew and once more the Jeddak of Manator turned toward the
girl. "O-Tar of Manator would be your friend," he said.
Tara of Helium sat with arms folded upon her small, firm breasts,
her eyes flashing from behind narrowed lids, nor did she deign to
answer his overture. O-Tar leaned closer to her. He noted the
hostility of her bearing and he recalled his first encounter with
her. She was a she-banth, but she was beautiful. She was by far
the most desirable woman that O-Tar had ever looked upon and he
was determined to possess her. He told her so.
"I could take you as my slave," he said to her; "but it pleases
me to make you my wife. You shall be Jeddara of Manator. You
shall have seven days in which to prepare for the great honor
that O-Tar is conferring upon you, and at this hour of the
seventh day you shall become an empress and the wife of O-Tar in
the throne room of the jeddaks of Manator." He struck a gong that
stood beside him upon the table and when a slave appeared he bade
him recall the company. Slowly the chiefs filed in and took their
places at the table. Their faces were grim and scowling, for
there was still unanswered the question of their jeddak's
courage. If O-Tar had hoped they would forget he had been
mistaken in his men.
O-Tar arose. "In seven days," he announced, "there will be a
great feast in honor of the new Jeddara of Manator," and he waved
his hand toward Tara of Helium. "The ceremony will occur at the
beginning of the seventh zode* in the throne room. In the
meantime the Princess of Helium will be cared for in the tower of
the women's quarters of the palace. Conduct her thither, E-Thas,
with a suitable guard of honor and see to it that slaves and
eunuchs be placed at her disposal, who shall attend upon all her
wants and guard her carefully from harm."
* About 8:30 P. M. Earth Time.
Now E-Thas knew that the real meaning concealed in these fine
words was that he should conduct the prisoner under a strong
guard to the women's quarters and confine her there in the tower
for seven days, placing about her trustworthy guards who would
prevent her escape or frustrate any attempted rescue.
As Tara was departing from the chamber with E-Thas and the guard,
O-Tar leaned close to her ear and whispered: "Consider well
during these seven days the high honor I have offered you,
and--its sole alternative." As though she had not heard him the
girl passed out of the banquet hall, her head high and her eyes
straight to the front.
After Ghek had left him Gahan roamed the pits and the ancient
corridors of the deserted portions of the palace seeking some
clue to the whereabouts or the fate of Tara of Helium. He
utilized the spiral runway in passing from level to level until
he knew every foot of it from the pits to the summit of the high
tower, and into what apartments it opened at the various levels
as well as the ingenious and hidden mechanism that operated the
locks of the cleverly concealed doors leading to it. For food he
drew upon the stores he found in the pits and when he slept he
lay upon the royal couch of O-Mai in the forbidden chamber
sharing the dais with the dead foot of the ancient jeddak.
In the palace about him seethed, all unknown to Gahan, a vast
unrest. Warriors and chieftains pursued the duties of their
vocations with dour faces, and little knots of them were
collecting here and there and with frowns of anger discussing
some subject that was uppermost in the minds of all. It was upon
the fourth day following Tara's incarceration in the tower that
E-Thas, the major-domo of the palace and one of O-Tar's
creatures, came to his master upon some trivial errand. O-Tar was
alone in one of the smaller chambers of his personal suite when
the major-domo was announced, and after the matter upon which
E-Thas had come was disposed of the jeddak signed him to remain.
"From the position of an obscure warrior I have elevated you,
E-Thas, to the honors of a chief. Within the confines of the
palace your word is second only to mine. You are not loved for
this, E-Thas, and should another jeddak ascend the throne of
Manator what would become of you, whose enemies are among the
most powerful of Manator?"
"Speak not of it, O-Tar," begged E-Thas. "These last few days I
have thought upon it much and I would forget it; but I have
sought to appease the wrath of my worst enemies. I have been
very kind and indulgent with them."
"You, too, read the voiceless message in the air?" demanded the
E-Thas was palpably uneasy and he did not reply.
"Why did you not come to me with your apprehensions?" demanded
O-Tar. "Be this loyalty?"
"I feared, O mighty jeddak!" replied E-Thas. "I feared that you
would not understand and that you would be angry."
"What know you? Speak the whole truth!" commanded O-Tar.
"There is much unrest among the chieftains and the warriors,"
replied E-Thas. "Even those who were your friends fear the power
of those who speak against you."
"What say they?" growled the jeddak.
"They say that you are afraid to enter the apartments of O-Mai in
search of the slave Turan--oh, do not be angry with me, Jeddak;
it is but what they say that I repeat. I, your loyal E-Thas,
believe no such foul slander."
"No, no; why should I fear?" demanded O-Tar. "We do not know that
he is there. Did not my chiefs go thither and see nothing of
"But they say that you did not go," pursued E-Thas, "and that
they will have none of a coward upon the throne of Manator."
"They said that treason?" O-Tar almost shouted.
"They said that and more, great jeddak," answered the major-domo.
"They said that not only did you fear to enter the chambers of
O-Mai, but that you feared the slave Turan, and they blame you
for your treatment of A-Kor, whom they all believe to have been
murdered at your command. They were fond of A-Kor and there are
many now who say aloud that A-Kor would have made a wondrous
"They dare?" screamed O-Tar. "They dare suggest the name of a
slave's bastard for the throne of O-Tar!"
"He is your son, O-Tar," E-Thas reminded him, "nor is there a
more beloved man in Manator--I but speak to you of facts which
may not be ignored, and I dare do so because only when you
realize the truth may you seek a cure for the ills that draw
about your throne."
O-Tar had slumped down upon his bench--suddenly he looked
shrunken and tired and old. "Cursed be the day," he cried, "that
saw those three strangers enter the city of Manator. Would that
U-Dor had been spared to me. He was strong--my enemies feared
him; but he is gone--dead at the hands of that hateful slave,
Turan; may the curse of Issus be upon him!"
"My jeddak, what shall we do?" begged E-Thas. "Cursing the slave
will not solve your problems."
"But the great feast and the marriage is but three days off,"
plead O-Tar. "It shall be a great gala occasion. The warriors and
the chiefs all know that--it is the custom. Upon that day gifts
and honors shall be bestowed. Tell me, who are most bitter
against me? I will send you among them and let it be known that I
am planning rewards for their past services to the throne. We
will make jeds of chiefs and chiefs of warriors, and grant them
palaces and slaves. Eh, E-Thas?"
The other shook his head. "It will not do, O-Tar. They will have
nothing of your gifts or honors. I have heard them say as much."
"What do they want?" demanded O-Tar.
"They want a jeddak as brave as the bravest," replied E-Thas,
though his knees shook as he said it.
"They think I am a coward?" cried the jeddak.
"They say you are afraid to go to the apartments of O-mai the
For a long time O-Tar sat, his head sunk upon his breast, staring
blankly at the floor.
"Tell them," he said at last in a hollow voice that sounded not
at all like the voice of a great jeddak; "tell them that I will
go to the chambers of O-Mai and search for Turan the slave."
A RISK FOR LOVE
"Ey, ey, he is a craven and he called me 'doddering fool'!" The
speaker was I-Gos and he addressed a knot of chieftains in one of
the chambers of the palace of O-Tar, Jeddak of Manator: "If A-Kor
was alive there were a jeddak for us!"
"Who says that A-Kor is dead?" demanded one of the chiefs.
"Where is he then?" asked I-Gos. "Have not others disappeared
whom O-Tar thought too well beloved for men so near the throne as
The chief shook his head. "And I thought that, or knew it,
rather; I'd join U-Thor at The Gate of Enemies."
"S-s-st," cautioned one; "here comes the licker of feet," and all
eyes were turned upon the approaching E-Thas.
"Kaor, friends!" he exclaimed as he stopped among them, but his
friendly greeting elicited naught but a few surly nods. "Have you
heard the news?" he continued, unabashed by treatment to which he
was becoming accustomed.
"What--has O-Tar seen an ulsio and fainted?" demanded I-Gos with
"Men have died for less than that, ancient one," E-Thas reminded
"I am safe," retorted I-Gos, "for I am not a brave and popular
son of the jeddak of Manator."
This was indeed open treason, but E-Thas feigned not to hear it.
He ignored I-Gos and turned to the others. "O-Tar goes to the
chamber of O-Mai this night in search of Turan the slave," he
said. "He sorrows that his warriors have not the courage for so
mean a duty and that their jeddak is thus compelled to arrest a
common slave," with which taunt E-Thas passed on to spread the
word in other parts of the palace. As a matter of fact the latter
part of his message was purely original with himself, and he took
great delight in delivering it to the discomfiture of his
enemies. As he was leaving the little group of men I-Gos called
after him. "At what hour does O-Tar intend visiting the chambers
of O-Mai?" he asked.
"Toward the end of the eighth zode*," replied the major-domo, and
went his way.
* About 1:00 A. M. Earth Time.
"We shall see," stated I-Gos.
"What shall we see?" asked a warrior.
"We shall see whether O-Tar visits the chamber of O-Mai."
"I shall be there myself and if I see him I will know that he has
been there. If I don't see him I will know that he has not,"
explained the old taxidermist.
"Is there anything there to fill an honest man with fear?" asked
a chieftain. "What have you seen?"
"It was not so much what I saw, though that was bad enough, as
what I heard," said I-Gos.
"Tell us! What heard and saw you?"
"I saw the dead O-Mai," said I-Gos. The others shuddered.
"And you went not mad?" they asked.
"Am I mad?" retorted I-Gos.
"And you will go again?"
"Then indeed you are mad," cried one.
"You saw the dead O-Mai; but what heard you that was worse?"
"I saw the dead O-Mai lying upon the floor of his sleeping
chamber with one foot tangled in the sleeping silks and furs upon
his couch. I heard horrid moans and frightful screams."
"And you are not afraid to go there again?" demanded several.
"The dead cannot harm me," said I-Gos. "He has lain thus for five
thousand years. Nor can a sound harm me. I heard it once and
live--I can hear it again. It came from almost at my side where I
hid behind the hangings and watched the slave Turan before I
snatched the woman away from him."
"I-Gos, you are a very brave man," said a chieftain.
"O-Tar called me 'doddering fool' and I would face worse dangers
than lie in the forbidden chambers of O-Mai to know it if he does
not visit the chamber of O-Mai. Then indeed shall O-Tar fall!"
The night came and the zodes dragged and the time approached when
O-Tar, Jeddak of Manator, was to visit the chamber of O-Mai in
search of the slave Turan. To us, who may doubt the existence of
malignant spirits, his fear may seem unbelievable, for he was a
strong man, an excellent swordsman, and a warrior of great
repute; but the fact remained that O-Tar of Manator was nervous
with apprehension as he strode the corridors of his palace toward
the deserted halls of O-Mai and when he stood at last with his
hand upon the door that opened from the dusty corridor to the
very apartments themselves he was almost paralyzed with terror.
He had come alone for two very excellent reasons, the first of
which was that thus none might note his terror-stricken state nor
his defection should he fail at the last moment, and the other
was that should he accomplish the thing alone or be able to make
his chiefs believe that he had, the credit would be far greater
than were he to be accompanied by warriors.
But though he had started alone he had become aware that he was
being followed, and he knew that it was because his people had no
faith in either his courage or his veracity. He did not believe
that he would find the slave Turan. He did not very much want to
find him, for though O-Tar was an excellent swordsman and a brave
warrior in physical combat, he had seen how Turan had played with
U-Dor and he had no stomach for a passage at arms with one whom
he knew outclassed him.
And so O-Tar stood with his hand upon the door--afraid to enter;
afraid not to. But at last his fear of his own warriors, watching
behind him, grew greater than the fear of the unknown behind the
ancient door and he pushed the heavy skeel aside and entered.
Silence and gloom and the dust of centuries lay heavy upon the
chamber. From his warriors he knew the route that he must take to
the horrid chamber of O-Mai and so he forced his unwilling feet
across the room before him, across the room where the jetan
players sat at their eternal game, and came to the short corridor
that led into the room of O-Mai. His naked sword trembled in his
grasp. He paused after each forward step to listen and when he
was almost at the door of the ghost-haunted chamber, his heart
stood still within his breast and the cold sweat broke from the
clammy skin of his forehead, for from within there came to his
affrighted ears the sound of muffled breathing. Then it was that
O-Tar of Manator came near to fleeing from the nameless horror
that he could not see, but that he knew lay waiting for him in
that chamber just ahead. But again came the fear of the wrath and
contempt of his warriors and his chiefs. They would degrade him
and they would slay him into the bargain. There was no doubt of
what his fate would be should he flee the apartments of O-Mai in
terror. His only hope, therefore, lay in daring the unknown in
preference to the known.
He moved forward. A few steps took him to the doorway. The
chamber before him was darker than the corridor, so that he could
just indistinctly make out the objects in the room. He saw a
sleeping dais near the center, with a darker blotch of something
lying on the marble floor beside it. He moved a step farther into
the doorway and the scabbard of his sword scraped against the
stone frame. To his horror he saw the sleeping silks and furs
upon the central dais move. He saw a figure slowly arising to a
sitting posture from the death bed of O-Mai the Cruel. His knees
shook, but he gathered all his moral forces, and gripping his
sword more tightly in his trembling fingers prepared to leap
across the chamber upon the horrid apparition. He hesitated just
a moment. He felt eyes upon him--ghoulish eyes that bored through
the darkness into his withering heart--eyes that he could not
see. He gathered himself for the rush--and then there broke from
the thing upon the couch an awful shriek, and O-Tar sank
senseless to the floor.
Gahan rose from the couch of O-Mai, smiling, only to swing
quickly about with drawn sword as the shadow of a noise impinged
upon his keen ears from the shadows behind him. Between the
parted hangings he saw a bent and wrinkled figure. It was I-Gos.
"Sheathe your sword, Turan," said the old man. "You have naught
to fear from I-Gos."
"What do you here?" demanded Gahan.
"I came to make sure that the great coward did not cheat us. Ey,
and he called me 'doddering fool;' but look at him now! Stricken
insensible by terror, but, ey, one might forgive him that who had
heard your uncanny scream. It all but blasted my own courage. And
it was you, then, who moaned and screamed when the chiefs came
the day that I stole Tara from you?"
"It was you, then, old scoundrel?" demanded Gahan, moving
threateningly toward I-Gos.
"Come, come!" expostulated the old man; "it was I, but then I was
your enemy. I would not do it now. Conditions have changed."
"How have they changed? What has changed them?" asked Gahan.
"Then I did not fully realize the cowardice of my jeddak, or the
bravery of you and the girl. I am an old man from another age and
I love courage. At first I resented the girl's attack upon me,
but later I came to see the bravery of it and it won my
admiration, as have all her acts. She feared not O-tar, she
feared not me, she feared not all the warriors of Manator. And
you! Blood of a million sires! how you fight! I am sorry that I
exposed you at The Fields of Jetan. I am sorry that I dragged the
girl Tara back to O-Tar. I would make amends. I would be your
friend. Here is my sword at your feet," and drawing his weapon
I-Gos cast it to the floor in front of Gahan.
The Gatholian knew that scarce the most abandoned of knaves would
repudiate this solemn pledge, and so he stooped, and picking up
the old man's sword returned it to him, hilt first, in acceptance
of his friendship.
"Where is the Princess Tara of Helium?" asked Gahan. "Is she
"She is confined in the tower of the women's quarters awaiting
the ceremony that is to make her Jeddara of Manator," replied
"This thing dared think that Tara of Helium would mate with him?"
growled Gahan. "I will make short work of him if he is not
already dead from fright," and he stepped toward the fallen O-Tar
to run his sword through the jeddak's heart.
"No!" cried I-Gos. "Slay him not and pray that he be not dead if
you would save your princess."
"How is that?" asked Gahan.
"If word of O-Tar's death reached the quarters of the women the
Princess Tara would be lost. They know O-Tar's intention of
taking her to wife and making her Jeddara of Manator, so you may
rest assured that they all hate her with the hate of jealous
women. Only O-Tar's power protects her now from harm. Should
O-Tar die they would turn her over to the warriors and the male
slaves, for there would be none to avenge her."
Gahan sheathed his sword. "Your point is well taken; but what
shall we do with him?"
"Leave him where he lies," counseled I-Gos. "He is not dead. When
he revives he will return to his quarters with a fine tale of his
bravery and there will be none to impugn his boasts--none but
I-Gos. Come! he may revive at any moment and he must not find us
I-Gos crossed to the body of his jeddak, knelt beside it for an
instant, and then returned past the couch to Gahan. The two quit
the chamber of O-Mai and took their way toward the spiral runway.
Here I-Gos led Gahan to a higher level and out upon the roof of
that portion of the palace from where he pointed to a high tower
quite close by. "There," he said, "lies the Princess of Helium,
and quite safe she will be until the time of the ceremony."
"Safe, possibly, from other hands, but not from her own," said
Gahan. "She will never become Jeddara of Manator--first will she
"She would do that?" asked I-Gos.
"She will, unless you can get word to her that I still live and
that there is yet hope," replied Gahan.
"I cannot get word to her," said I-Gos. "The quarters of his
women O-Tar guards with jealous hand. Here are his most trusted
slaves and warriors, yet even so, thick among them are countless
spies, so that no man knows which be which. No shadow falls
within those chambers that is not marked by a hundred eyes."
Gahan stood gazing at the lighted windows of the high tower in
the upper chambers of which Tara of Helium was confined. "I will
find a way, I-Gos," he said.
"There is no way," replied the old man.
For some time they stood upon the roof beneath the brilliant
stars and hurtling moons of dying Mars, laying their plans
against the time that Tara of Helium should be brought from the
high tower to the throne room of O-Tar. It was then, and then
alone, argued I-Gos, that any hope of rescuing her might be
entertained. Just how far he might trust the other Gahan did not
know, and so he kept to himself the knowledge of the plan that he
had forwarded to Floran and Val Dor by Ghek, but he assured the
ancient taxidermist that if he were sincere in his oft-repeated
declaration that O-Tar should be denounced and superseded he
would have his opportunity on the night that the jeddak sought to
wed the Heliumetic princess.
"Your time shall come then, I-Gos," Gahan assured the other, "and
if you have any party that thinks as you do, prepare them for the
eventuality that will succeed O-Tar's presumptuous attempt to wed
the daughter of The Warlord. Where shall I see you again, and
when? I go now to speak with Tara, Princess of Helium."
"I like your boldness," said I-Gos; "but it will avail you
naught. You will not speak with Tara, Princess of Helium, though
doubtless the blood of many Manatorians will drench the floors of
the women's quarters before you are slain."
Gahan smiled. "I shall not be slain. Where and when shall we
meet? But you may find me in O-Mai's chamber at night. That seems
the safest retreat in all Manator for an enemy of the jeddak in
whose palace it lies. I go!"
"And may the spirits of your ancestors surround you," said I-Gos.
After the old man had left him Gahan made his way across the roof
to the high tower, which appeared to have been constructed of
concrete and afterward elaborately carved, its entire surface
being covered with intricate designs cut deep into the stone-like
material of which it was composed. Though wrought ages since, it
was but little weather-worn owing to the aridity of the Martian
atmosphere, the infrequency of rains, and the rarity of dust
storms. To scale it, though, presented difficulties and danger
that might have deterred the bravest of men--that would,
doubtless, have deterred Gahan, had he not felt that the life of
the woman he loved depended upon his accomplishing the hazardous
Removing his sandals and laying aside all of his harness and
weapons other than a single belt supporting a dagger, the
Gatholian essayed the dangerous ascent. Clinging to the carvings
with hands and feet he worked himself slowly aloft, avoiding the
windows and keeping upon the shadowy side of the tower, away from
the light of Thuria and Cluros. The tower rose some fifty feet
above the roof of the adjacent part of the palace, comprising
five levels or floors with windows looking in every direction. A
few of the windows were balconied, and these more than the others
he sought to avoid, although, it being now near the close of the
ninth zode, there was little likelihood that many were awake
within the tower.
His progress was noiseless and he came at last, undetected, to
the windows of the upper level. These, like several of the others
he had passed at lower levels, were heavily barred, so that there
was no possibility of his gaining ingress to the apartment where
Tara was confined. Darkness hid the interior behind the first
window that he approached. The second opened upon a lighted
chamber where he could see a guard sleeping at his post outside a
door. Here also was the top of the runway leading to the next
level below. Passing still farther around the tower Gahan
approached another window, but now he clung to that side of the
tower which ended in a courtyard a hundred feet below and in a
short time the light of Thuria would reach him. He realized that
he must hasten and he prayed that behind the window he now
approached he would find Tara of Helium.
Coming to the opening he looked in upon a small chamber dimly
lighted. In the center was a sleeping dais upon which a human
form lay beneath silks and furs. A bare arm, protruding from the
coverings, lay exposed against a black and yellow striped orluk
skin--an arm of wondrous beauty about which was clasped an armlet
that Gahan knew. No other creature was visible within the
chamber, all of which was exposed to Gahan's view. Pressing his
face to the bars the Gatholian whispered her dear name. The girl
stirred, but did not awaken. Again he called, but this time
louder. Tara sat up and looked about and at the same instant a
huge eunuch leaped to his feet from where he had been lying on
the floor close by that side of the dais farthest from Gahan.
Simultaneously the brilliant light of Thuria flashed full upon
the window where Gahan clung silhouetting him plainly to the two
Both sprang to their feet. The eunuch drew his sword and leaped
for the window where the helpless Gahan would have fallen an easy
victim to a single thrust of the murderous weapon the fellow
bore, had not Tara of Helium leaped upon her guard dragging him
back. At the same time she drew the slim dagger from its hiding
place in her harness and even as the eunuch sought to hurl her
aside its keen point found his heart. Without a sound he died and
lunged forward to the floor. Then Tara ran to the window.
"Turan, my chief!" she cried. "What awful risk is this you take
to seek me here, where even your brave heart is powerless to aid
"Be not so sure of that, heart of my heart," he replied. "While I
bring but words to my love, they be the forerunner of deeds, I
hope, that will give her back to me forever. I feared that you
might destroy yourself, Tara of Helium, to escape the dishonor
that O-Tar would do you, and so I came to give you new hope and
to beg that you live for me through whatever may transpire, in
the knowledge that there is yet a way and that if all goes well
we shall be freed at last. Look for me in the throne room of
O-Tar the night that he would wed you. And now, how may we
dispose of this fellow?" He pointed to the dead eunuch upon the
"We need not concern ourselves about that," she replied. "None
dares harm me for fear of the wrath of O-Tar--otherwise I should
have been dead so soon as ever I entered this portion of the
palace, for the women hate me. O-Tar alone may punish me, and
what cares O-Tar for the life of a eunuch? No, fear not upon this
Their hands were clasped between the bars and now Gahan drew her
nearer to him.
"One kiss," he said, "before I go, my princess," and the proud
daughter of Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium, and The Warlord of
Barsoom whispered: "My chieftain!" and pressed her lips to the
lips of Turan, the common panthan.
AT THE MOMENT OF MARRIAGE
The silence of the tomb lay heavy about him as O-Tar, Jeddak of
Manator, opened his eyes in the chamber of O-Mai. Recollection of
the frightful apparition that had confronted him swept to his
consciousness. He listened, but heard naught. Within the range of
his vision there was nothing apparent that might cause alarm.
Slowly he lifted his head and looked about. Upon the floor beside
the couch lay the thing that had at first attracted his attention
and his eyes closed in terror as he recognized it for what it
was; but it moved not, nor spoke. O-Tar opened his eyes again and
rose to his feet. He was trembling in every limb. There was
nothing on the dais from which he had seen the thing arise.
O-Tar backed slowly from the room. At last he gained the outer
corridor. It was empty. He did not know that it had emptied
rapidly as the loud scream with which his own had mingled had
broken upon the startled ears of the warriors who had been sent
to spy upon him. He looked at the timepiece set in a massive
bracelet upon his left forearm. The ninth zode was nearly half
gone. O-Tar had lain for an hour unconscious. He had spent an
hour in the chamber of O-Mai and he was not dead! He had looked
upon the face of his predecessor and was still sane! He shook
himself and smiled. Rapidly he subdued his rebelliously shaking
nerves, so that by the time he reached the tenanted portion of
the palace he had gained control of himself. He walked with chin
high and something of a swagger. To the banquet hall he went,
knowing that his chiefs awaited him there and as he entered they
arose and upon the faces of many were incredulity and amaze, for
they had not thought to see O-Tar the jeddak again after what the
spies had told them of the horrid sounds issuing from the chamber
of O-Mai. Thankful was O-Tar that he had gone alone to that
chamber of fright, for now no one could deny the tale that he
E-Thas rushed forward to greet him, for E-Thas had seen black
looks directed toward him as the tals slipped by and his
benefactor failed to return.
"O brave and glorious jeddak!" cried the major-domo. "We rejoice
at your safe return and beg of you the story of your adventure."
"It was naught," exclaimed O-Tar. "I searched the chambers
carefully and waited in hiding for the return of the slave,
Turan, if he were temporarily away; but he came not. He is not
there and I doubt if he ever goes there. Few men would choose to
remain long in such a dismal place."
"You were not attacked?" asked E-Thas. "You heard no screams, nor
"I heard hideous noises and saw phantom figures; but they fled
before me so that never could I lay hold of one, and I looked
upon the face of O-Mai and I am not mad. I even rested in the
chamber beside his corpse."
In a far corner of the room a bent and wrinkled old man hid a
smile behind a golden goblet of strong brew.
"Come! Let us drink!" cried O-Tar and reached for the dagger, the
pommel of which he was accustomed to use to strike the gong which
summoned slaves, but the dagger was not in its scabbard. O-Tar
was puzzled. He knew that it had been there just before he
entered the chamber of O-Mai, for he had carefully felt of all
his weapons to make sure that none was missing. He seized instead
a table utensil and struck the gong, and when the slaves came
bade them bring the strongest brew for O-Tar and his chiefs.
Before the dawn broke many were the expressions of admiration
bellowed from drunken lips--admiration for the courage of their
jeddak; but some there were who still looked glum.
* * * * *
Came at last the day that O-Tar would take the Princess Tara of
Helium to wife. For hours slaves prepared the unwilling bride.
Seven perfumed baths occupied three long and weary hours, then
her whole body was anointed with the oil of pimalia blossoms and
massaged by the deft fingers of a slave from distant Dusar. Her
harness, all new and wrought for the occasion was of the white
hide of the great white apes of Barsoom, hung heavily with
platinum and diamonds--fairly encrusted with them. The glossy
mass of her jet hair had been built into a coiffure of stately
and becoming grandeur, into which diamond-headed pins were stuck
until the whole scintillated as the stars in heaven upon a
But it was a sullen and defiant bride that they led from the high
tower toward the throne room of O-Tar. The corridors were filled
with slaves and warriors, and the women of the palace and the
city who had been commanded to attend the ceremony. All the power
and pride, wealth and beauty of Manator were there.
Slowly Tara, surrounded by a heavy guard of honor, moved along
the marble corridors filled with people. At the entrance to The
Hall of Chiefs E-Thas, the major-domo, received her. The Hall was
empty except for its ranks of dead chieftains upon their dead
mounts. Through this long chamber E-Thas escorted her to the
throne room which also was empty, the marriage ceremony in
Manator differing from that of other countries of Barsoom. Here
the bride would await the groom at the foot of the steps leading
to the throne. The guests followed her in and took their places,
leaving the central aisle from The Hall of Chiefs to the throne
clear, for up this O-Tar would approach his bride alone after a
short solitary communion with the dead behind closed doors in The
Hall of Chiefs. It was the custom.
The guests had all filed through The Hall of Chiefs; the doors at
both ends had been closed. Presently those at the lower end of
the hall opened and O-Tar entered. His black harness was
ornamented with rubies and gold; his face was covered by a
grotesque mask of the precious metal in which two enormous rubies
were set for eyes, though below them were narrow slits through
which the wearer could see. His crown was a fillet supporting
carved feathers of the same metal as the mask. To the least
detail his regalia was that demanded of a royal bridegroom by the
customs of Manator, and now in accordance with that same custom
he came alone to The Hall of Chiefs to receive the blessings and
the council of the great ones of Manator who had preceded him.
As the doors at the lower end of the Hall closed behind him O-Tar
the Jeddak stood alone with the great dead. By the dictates of
ages no mortal eye might look upon the scene enacted within that
sacred chamber. As the mighty of Manator respected the traditions
of Manator, let us, too, respect those traditions of a proud and
sensitive people. Of what concern to us the happenings in that
solemn chamber of the dead?
Five minutes passed. The bride stood silently at the foot of the
throne. The guests spoke together in low whispers until the room
was filled with the hum of many voices. At length the doors
leading into The Hall of Chiefs swung open, and the resplendent
bridegroom stood framed for a moment in the massive opening. A
hush fell upon the wedding guests. With measured and impressive
step the groom approached the bride. Tara felt the muscles of her
heart contract with the apprehension that had been growing upon
her as the coils of Fate settled more closely about her and no
sign came from Turan. Where was he? What, indeed, could he
accomplish now to save her? Surrounded by the power of O-Tar with
never a friend among them, her position seemed at last without
vestige of hope.
"I still live!" she whispered inwardly in a last brave attempt to
combat the terrible hopelessness that was overwhelming her, but
her fingers stole for reassurance to the slim blade that she had
managed to transfer, undetected, from her old harness to the new.
And now the groom was at her side and taking her hand was leading
her up the steps to the throne, before which they halted and
stood facing the gathering below. Came then, from the back of the
room a procession headed by the high dignitary whose office it
was to make these two man and wife, and directly behind him a
richly-clad youth bearing a silken pillow on which lay the golden
handcuffs connected by a short length of chain-of-gold with which
the ceremony would be concluded when the dignitary clasped a
handcuff about the wrist of each symbolizing their indissoluble
union in the holy bonds of wedlock.
Would Turan's promised succor come too late? Tara listened to the
long, monotonous intonation of the wedding service. She heard the
virtues of O-Tar extolled and the beauties of the bride. The
moment was approaching and still no sign of Turan. But what could
he accomplish should he succeed in reaching the throne room,
other than to die with her? There could be no hope of rescue.
The dignitary lifted the golden handcuffs from the pillow upon
which they reposed. He blessed them and reached for Tara's wrist.
The time had come! The thing could go no further, for alive or
dead, by all the laws of Barsoom she would be the wife of O-Tar
of Manator the instant the two were locked together. Even should
rescue come then or later she could never dissolve those bonds
and Turan would be lost to her as surely as though death
Her hand stole toward the hidden blade, but instantly the hand of
the groom shot out and seized her wrist. He had guessed her
intention. Through the slits in the grotesque mask she could see
his eyes upon her and she guessed the sardonic smile that the
mask hid. For a tense moment the two stood thus. The people below
them kept breathless silence for the play before the throne had
not passed un-noticed.
Dramatic as was the moment it was suddenly rendered trebly so by
the noisy opening of the doors leading to The Hall of Chiefs. All
eyes turned in the direction of the interruption to see another
figure framed in the massive opening--a half-clad figure buckling
the half-adjusted harness hurriedly in place--the figure of
O-Tar, Jeddak of Manator.
"Stop!" he screamed, springing forward along the aisle toward the
throne. "Seize the impostor!"
All eyes shot to the figure of the groom before the throne. They
saw him raise his hand and snatch off the golden mask, and Tara
of Helium in wide-eyed incredulity looked up into the face of
Turan the panthan.
"Turan the slave," they cried then. "Death to him! Death to him!"
"Wait!" shouted Turan, drawing his sword, as a dozen warriors
"Wait!" screamed another voice, old and cracked, as I-Gos, the
ancient taxidermist, sprang from among the guests and reached the
throne steps ahead of the foremost warriors.
At sight of the old man the warriors paused, for age is held in
great veneration among the peoples of Barsoom, as is true,
perhaps, of all peoples whose religion is based to any extent
upon ancestor worship. But O-Tar gave no heed to him, leaping
instead swiftly toward the throne. "Stop, coward!" cried I-Gos.
The people looked at the little old man in amazement. "Men of
Manator," he cackled in his thin, shrill voice, "wouldst be ruled
by a coward and a liar?"
"Down with him!" shouted O-Tar.
"Not until I have spoken," retorted I-Gos. "It is my right. If I
fail my life is forfeit--that you all know and I know. I demand
therefore to be heard. It is my right!"
"It is his right," echoed the voices of a score of warriors in
various parts of the chamber.
"That O-Tar is a coward and a liar I can prove," continued I-Gos.
"He said that he faced bravely the horrors of the chamber of
O-Mai and saw nothing of the slave Turan. I was there, hiding
behind the hangings, and I saw all that transpired. Turan had
been hiding in the chamber and was even then lying upon the couch
of O-Mai when O-Tar, trembling with fear, entered the room.
Turan, disturbed, arose to a sitting position at the same time
voicing a piercing shriek. O-Tar screamed and swooned."
"It is a lie!" cried O-Tar.
"It is not a lie and I can prove it," retorted I-Gos. "Didst
notice the night that he returned from the chambers of O-Mai and
was boasting of his exploit, that when he would summon slaves to
bring wine he reached for his dagger to strike the gong with its
pommel as is always his custom? Didst note that, any of you? And
that he had no dagger? O-Tar, where is the dagger that you
carried into the chamber of O-Mai? You do not know; but I know.
While you lay in the swoon of terror I took it from your harness
and hid it among the sleeping silks upon the couch of O-Mai.
There it is even now, and if any doubt it let them go thither and
there they will find it and know the cowardice of their jeddak."
"But what of this impostor?" demanded one. "Shall he stand with
impunity upon the throne of Manator whilst we squabble about our
"It is through his bravery that you have learned the cowardice of
O-Tar," replied I-Gos, "and through him you will be given a
"We will choose our own jeddak. Seize and slay the slave!" There
were cries of approval from all parts of the room. Gahan was
listening intently, as though for some hoped-for sound. He saw
the warriors approaching the dais, where he now stood with drawn
sword and with one arm about Tara of Helium. He wondered if his
plans had miscarried after all. If they had it would mean death
for him, and he knew that Tara would take her life if he fell.
Had he, then, served her so futilely after all his efforts?
Several warriors were urging the necessity for sending at once to
the chamber of O-Mai to search for the dagger that would prove,
if found, the cowardice of O-Tar. At last three consented to go.
"You need not fear," I-Gos assured them. "There is naught there
to harm you. I have been there often of late and Turan the slave
has slept there for these many nights. The screams and moans that
frightened you and O-Tar were voiced by Turan to drive you away
from his hiding place." Shamefacedly the three left the apartment
to search for O-Tar's dagger.
And now the others turned their attention once more to Gahan.
They approached the throne with bared swords, but they came
slowly for they had seen this slave upon the Field of Jetan and
they knew the prowess of his arm. They had reached the foot of
the steps when from far above there sounded a deep boom, and
another, and another, and Turan smiled and breathed a sigh of
relief. Perhaps, after all, it had not come too late. The
warriors stopped and listened as did the others in the chamber.
Now there broke upon their ears a loud rattle of musketry and it
all came from above as though men were fighting upon the roofs of
"What is it?" they demanded, one of the other.
"A great storm has broken over Manator," said one.
"Mind not the storm until you have slain the creature who dares
stand upon the throne of your jeddak," demanded O-Tar. "Seize
Even as he ceased speaking the arras behind the throne parted and
a warrior stepped forth upon the dais. An exclamation of surprise
and dismay broke from the lips of the warriors of O-Tar.
"U-Thor!" they cried. "What treason is this?"
"It is no treason," said U-Thor in his deep voice. "I bring you a
new jeddak for all of Manator. No lying poltroon, but a
courageous man whom you all love."
He stepped aside then and another emerged from the corridor
hidden by the arras. It was A-Kor, and at sight of him there rose
exclamations of surprise, of pleasure, and of anger, as the
various factions recognized the coup d'etat that had been
arranged so cunningly. Behind A-Kor came other warriors until the
dais was crowded with them--all men of Manator from the city of
O-Tar was exhorting his warriors to attack, when a bloody and
disheveled padwar burst into the chamber through a side entrance.
"The city has fallen!" he cried aloud. "The hordes of Manatos
pour through The Gate of Enemies. The slaves from Gathol have
arisen and destroyed the palace guards. Great ships are landing
warriors upon the palace roof and in the Fields of Jetan. The men
of Helium and Gathol are marching through Manator. They cry aloud
for the Princess of Helium and swear to leave Manator a blazing
funeral pyre consuming the bodies of all our people. The skies
are black with ships. They come in great processions from the
east and from the south."
And then once more the doors from The Hall of Chiefs swung wide
and the men of Manator turned to see another figure standing upon
the threshold--a mighty figure of a man with white skin, and
black hair, and gray eyes that glittered now like points of steel
and behind him The Hall of Chiefs was filled with fighting men
wearing the harness of far countries. Tara of Helium saw him and
her heart leaped in exultation, for it was John Carter, Warlord
of Barsoom, come at the head of a victorious host to the rescue
of his daughter, and at his side was Djor Kantos to whom she had
The Warlord eyed the assemblage for a moment before he spoke.
"Lay down your arms, men of Manator," he said. "I see my daughter
and that she lives, and if no harm has befallen her no blood need
be shed. Your city is filled with the fighting men of U-Thor, and
those from Gathol and from Helium. The palace is in the hands of
the slaves from Gathol, beside a thousand of my own warriors who
fill the halls and chambers surrounding this room. The fate of
your jeddak lies in your own hands. I have no wish to interfere.
I come only for my daughter and to free the slaves from Gathol. I
have spoken!" and without waiting for a reply and as though the
room had been filled with his own people rather than a hostile
band he strode up the broad main aisle toward Tara of Helium.
The chiefs of Manator were stunned. They looked to O-Tar; but he
could only gaze helplessly about him as the enemy entered from
The Hall of Chiefs and circled the throne room until they had
surrounded the entire company. And then a dwar of the army of
"We have captured three chiefs," he reported to The Warlord, "who
beg that they be permitted to enter the throne room and report to
their fellows some matter which they say will decide the fate of
"Fetch them," ordered The Warlord.
They came, heavily guarded, to the foot of the steps leading to
the throne and there they stopped and the leader turned toward
the others of Manator and raising high his right hand displayed a
jeweled dagger. "We found it," he said, "even where I-Gos said
that we would find it," and he looked menacingly upon O-Tar.
"A-Kor, jeddak of Manator!" cried a voice, and the cry was taken
up by a hundred hoarse-throated warriors.
"There can be but one jeddak in Manator," said the chief who held
the dagger; his eyes still fixed upon the hapless O-Tar he
crossed to where the latter stood and holding the dagger upon an
outstretched palm proffered it to the discredited ruler. "There
can be but one jeddak in Manator," he repeated meaningly.
O-Tar took the proffered blade and drawing himself to his full
height plunged it to the guard into his breast, in that single
act redeeming himself in the esteem of his people and winning an
eternal place in The Hall of Chiefs.
As he fell all was silence in the great room, to be broken
presently by the voice of U-Thor. "O-Tar is dead!" he cried. "Let
A-Kor rule until the chiefs of all Manator may be summoned to
choose a new jeddak. What is your answer?"
"Let A-Kor rule! A-Kor, Jeddak of Manator!" The cries filled the
room and there was no dissenting voice.
A-Kor raised his sword for silence. "It is the will of A-Kor," he
said, "and that of the Great Jed of Manatos, and the commander of
the fleet from Gathol, and of the illustrious John Carter,
Warlord of Barsoom, that peace lie upon the city of Manator and
so I decree that the men of Manator go forth and welcome the
fighting men of these our allies as guests and friends and show
them the wonders of our ancient city and the hospitality of
Manator. I have spoken." And U-Thor and John Carter dismissed
their warriors and bade them accept the hospitality of Manator.
As the room emptied Djor Kantos reached the side of Tara of
Helium. The girl's happiness at rescue had been blighted by sight
of this man whom her virtuous heart told her she had wronged. She
dreaded the ordeal that lay before her and the dishonor that she
must admit before she could hope to be freed from the
understanding that had for long existed between them. And now
Djor Kantos approached and kneeling raised her fingers to his
"Beautiful daughter of Helium," he said, "how may I tell you the
thing that I must tell you--of the dishonor that I have all
unwittingly done you? I can but throw myself upon your generosity
for forgiveness; but if you demand it I can receive the dagger as
honorably as did O-Tar."
"What do you mean?" asked Tara of Helium. "What are you talking
about--why speak thus in riddles to one whose heart is already
Her heart already breaking! The outlook was anything but
promising, and the young padwar wished that he had died before
ever he had had to speak the words he now must speak.
"Tara of Helium," he continued, "we all thought you dead. For a
long year have you been gone from Helium. I mourned you truly and
then, less than a moon since, I wed with Olvia Marthis." He
stopped and looked at her with eyes that might have said: "Now,
strike me dead!"
"Oh, foolish man!" cried Tara. "Nothing you could have done could
have pleased me more. Djor Kantos, I could kiss you!"
"I do not think that Olvia Marthis would mind," he said, his face
now wreathed with smiles. As they spoke a body of men had entered
the throne room and approached the dais. They were tall men
trapped in plain harness, absolutely without ornamentation. Just
as their leader reached the dais Tara had turned to Gahan,
motioning him to join them.
"Djor Kantos," she said, "I bring you Turan the panthan, whose
loyalty and bravery have won my love."
John Carter and the leader of the new come warriors, who were
standing near, looked quickly at the little group. The former
smiled an inscrutable smile, the latter addressed the Princess of
Helium. "'Turan the panthan!'" he cried. "Know you not, fair
daughter of Helium, that this man you call panthan is Gahan, Jed
For just a moment Tara of Helium looked her surprise; and then
she shrugged her beautiful shoulders as she turned her head to
cast her eyes over one of them at Gahan of Gathol.
"Jed or panthan," she said; "what difference does it make what
one's slave has been?" and she laughed roguishly into the smiling
face of her lover.
* * * * *
His story finished, John Carter rose from the chair opposite me,
stretching his giant frame like some great forest-bred lion.
"You must go?" I cried, for I hated to see him leave and it
seemed that he had been with me but a moment.
"The sky is already red beyond those beautiful hills of yours,"
he replied, "and it will soon be day."
"Just one question before you go," I begged.
"Well?" he assented, good-naturedly.
"How was Gahan able to enter the throne room garbed in O-Tar's
trappings?" I asked.
"It was simple--for Gahan of Gathol," replied The Warlord. "With
the assistance of I-Gos he crept into The Hall of Chiefs before
the ceremony, while the throne room and Hall of Chiefs were
vacated to receive the bride. He came from the pits through the
corridor that opened behind the arras at the rear of the throne,
and passing into The Hall of Chiefs took his place upon the back
of a riderless thoat, whose warrior was in I-Gos' repair room.
When O-Tar entered and came near him Gahan fell upon him and
struck him with the butt of a heavy spear. He thought that he had
killed him and was surprised when O-Tar appeared to denounce
"And Ghek? What became of Ghek?" I insisted.
"After leading Val Dor and Floran to Tara's disabled flier which
they repaired, he accompanied them to Gathol from where a message
was sent to me in Helium. He then led a large party including
A-Kor and U-Thor from the roof, where our ships landed them, down
a spiral runway into the palace and guided them to the throne
room. We took him back to Helium with us, where he still lives,
with his single rykor which we found all but starved to death in
the pits of Manator. But come! No more questions now."
I accompanied him to the east arcade where the red dawn was
glowing beyond the arches.
"Good-bye!" he said.
"I can scarce believe that it is really you," I exclaimed.
"Tomorrow I will be sure that I have dreamed all this."
He laughed and drawing his sword scratched a rude cross upon the
concrete of one of the arches.
"If you are in doubt tomorrow," he said, "come and see if you
A moment later he was gone.
JETAN, OR MARTIAN CHESS
For those who care for such things, and would like to try the
game, I give the rules of Jetan as they were given me by John
Carter. By writing the names and moves of the various pieces on
bits of paper and pasting them on ordinary checkermen the game
may be played quite as well as with the ornate pieces used upon
THE BOARD: Square board consisting of one hundred alternate black
and orange squares.
THE PIECES: In order, as they stand upon the board in the first
row, from left to right of each player.
Warrior: 2 feathers; 2 spaces straight in any direction or
Padwar: 2 feathers; 2 spaces diagonal in any direction or
Dwar: 3 feathers; 3 spaces straight in any direction or
Flier: 3 bladed propellor; 3 spaces diagonal in any direction or
combination; and may jump intervening pieces.
Chief: Diadem with ten jewels; 3 spaces in any direction;
straight or diagonal or combination.
Princess: Diadem with one jewel; same as Chief, except may jump
Flier: See above.
Dwar: See above.
Padwar: See above.
Warrior: See above.
And in the second row from left to right:
Thoat: Mounted warrior 2 feathers; 2 spaces, one straight and one
diagonal in any direction.
Panthans: (8 of them): 1 feather; 1 space, forward, side, or
diagonal, but not backward.
Thoat: See above.
The game is played with twenty black pieces by one player and
twenty orange by his opponent, and is presumed to have originally
represented a battle between the Black race of the south and the
Yellow race of the north. On Mars the board is usually arranged
so that the Black pieces are played from the south and the Orange
from the north.
The game is won when any piece is placed on same square with
opponent's Princess, or a Chief takes a Chief.
The game is drawn when either Chief is taken by a piece other
than the opposing Chief, or when both sides are reduced to three
pieces, or less, of equal value and the game is not won in the
ensuing ten moves, five apiece.
The Princess may not move onto a threatened square, nor may she
take an opposing piece. She is entitled to one ten-space move at
any time during the game. This move is called the escape.
Two pieces may not occupy the same square except in the final
move of a game where the Princess is taken.
When a player, moving properly and in order, places one of his
pieces upon a square occupied by an opponent piece, the opponent
piece is considered to have been killed and is removed from the
The moves explained. Straight moves mean due north, south, east,
or west; diagonal moves mean northeast, southeast, southwest, or
northwest. A Dwar might move straight north three spaces, or
north one space and east two spaces, or any similar combination
of straight moves, so long as he did not cross the same square
twice in a single move. This example explains combination moves.
The first move may be decided in any way that is agreeable to
both players; after the first game the winner of the preceding
game moves first if he chooses, or may instruct his opponent to
make the first move.
Gambling: The Martians gamble at Jetan in several ways. Of course
the outcome of the game indicates to whom the main stake belongs;
but they also put a price upon the head of each piece, according
to its value, and for each piece that a player loses he pays its
value to his opponent.