At the Earth's Core

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 112

engage them with sword and shield. The clumsy spears of the Sagoths
were no match for the swords of the Sarian and Amozite, who turned the
spear thrusts aside with their shields and leaped to close quarters
with their lighter, handier weapons.

Ghak took his archers along the enemy's flank, and while the swordsmen
engaged them in front, he poured volley after volley into their
unprotected left. The Mahars did little real fighting, and were more
in the way than otherwise, though occasionally one of them would fasten
its powerful jaw upon the arm or leg of a Sarian.

The battle did not last a great while, for when Dacor and I led our men
in upon the Sagoth's right with naked swords they were already so
demoralized that they turned and fled before us. We pursued them for
some time, taking many prisoners and recovering nearly a hundred
slaves, among whom was Hooja the Sly One.

He told me that he had been captured while on his way to his own land;
but that his life had been spared in hope that through him the Mahars
would learn the whereabouts of their Great Secret. Ghak and I were
inclined to think that the Sly One had been guiding this expedition to
the land of Sari, where he thought that the book might be found in
Perry's possession; but we had no proof of this and so we took him in
and treated him as one of us, although none liked him. And how he
rewarded my generosity you will presently learn.

There were a number of Mahars among our prisoners, and so fearful were
our own people of them that they would not approach them unless
completely covered from the sight of the reptiles by a piece of skin.
Even Dian shared the popular superstition regarding the evil effects of
exposure to the eyes of angry Mahars, and though I laughed at her fears
I was willing enough to humor them if it would relieve her apprehension
in any degree, and so she sat apart from the prospector, near which the
Mahars had been chained, while Perry and I again inspected every
portion of the mechanism.

At last I took my place in the driving seat, and called to one of the
men without to fetch Dian. It happened that Hooja stood quite close to
the doorway of the prospector, so that it was he who, without my
knowledge, went to bring her; but how he succeeded in accomplishing the
fiendish thing he did, I cannot guess, unless

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