The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 116

within the gates of Manator ever has survived ten games,"
replied the slave girl. "They are permitted to offer themselves into
perpetual slavery if they prefer that to fighting at jetan. Of course
they may be called upon, as any warrior, to take part in a game, but
their chances then of surviving are increased, since they may never
again have the chance of winning to liberty."

"But a woman," insisted Tara; "how may a woman win her freedom?"

Lan-O laughed. "Very simply," she cried, derisively. "She has but to
find a warrior who will fight through ten consecutive games for her and
survive."

"'Just are the laws of Manator,'" quoted Tara, scornfully.

Then it was that they heard footsteps outside their cell and a moment
later a key turned in the lock and the door opened. A warrior faced
them.

"Hast seen E-Med the dwar?" he asked.

"Yes," replied Tara, "he was here some time ago."

The man glanced quickly about the bare chamber and then searchingly
first at Tara of Helium and then at the slave girl, Lan-O. The puzzled
expression upon his face increased. He scratched his head. "It is
strange," he said. "A score of men saw him ascend into this tower; and
though there is but a single exit, and that well guarded, no man has
seen him pass out."

Tara of Helium hid a yawn with the back of a shapely hand. "The
Princess of Helium is hungry, fellow," she drawled; "tell your master
that she would eat."

It was an hour later that food was brought, an officer and several
warriors accompanying the bearer. The former examined the room
carefully, but there was no sign that aught amiss had occurred there.
The wound that had sent E-Med the dwar to his ancestors had not bled,
fortunately for Tara of Helium.

"Woman," cried the officer, turning upon Tara, "you were the last to
see E-Med the dwar. Answer me now and answer me truthfully. Did you see
him leave this room?"

"I did," answered Tara of Helium.

"Where did he go from here?"

"How should I know? Think you that I can pass through a locked door of
skeel?" the girl's tone was scornful.

"Of that we do not know," said the officer. "Strange things have
happened in the cell of your companion in the pits of Manator. Perhaps
you could pass through a locked door of skeel as easily as he performs
seemingly more impossible feats."

"Whom do you mean," she cried; "Turan the panthan? He lives, then? Tell
me, is he here in Manator unharmed?"

"I speak of that thing which calls itself Ghek the

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