The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 103

a table standing upon
the dirt floor near the wall, and set in the wall several rings from
which depended short lengths of chain. At the base of the walls were
several holes in the dirt floor. These, alone, of the several things he
saw, interested him. Ghek sat down upon the bench and waited in
silence, listening. Presently the lights were extinguished. If Ghek
could have smiled he would have then, for Ghek could see as well in the
dark as in the light--better, perhaps. He watched the dark openings of
the holes in the floor and waited. Presently he detected a change in
the air about him--it grew heavy with a strange odor, and once again
might Ghek have smiled, could he have smiled.

Let them replace all the air in the chamber with their most deadly
fumes; it would be all the same to Ghek, the kaldane, who, having no
lungs, required no air. With the rykor it might be different. Deprived
of air it would die; but if only a sufficient amount of the gas was
introduced to stupefy an ordinary creature it would have no effect upon
the rykor, who had no objective mind to overcome. So long as the excess
of carbon dioxide in the blood was not sufficient to prevent heart
action, the rykor would suffer only a diminution of vitality; but would
still respond to the exciting agency of the kaldane's brain.

Ghek caused the rykor to assume a sitting position with its back
against the wall where it might remain without direction from his
brain. Then he released his contact with its spinal cord; but remained
in position upon its shoulders, waiting and watching, for the kaldane's
curiosity was aroused. He had not long to wait before the lights were
flashed on and one of the locked doors opened to admit a half-dozen
warriors. They approached him rapidly and worked quickly. First they
removed all his weapons and then, snapping a fetter about one of the
rykor's ankles, secured him to the end of one of the chains hanging
from the walls. Next they dragged the long table to a new position and
there bolted it to the floor so that an end, instead of the middle, was
directly before the prisoner. On the table before him they set food and
water and upon the opposite end of the table they laid the key to the
fetter. Then they unlocked and opened all the doors and departed.

* *

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