The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 120

he demanded, "why I have been made prisoner, and if other
strangers were captured since I entered your city."

"What other prisoners?" asked the officer.

"A woman, and a man with a strange head," replied Turan.

"It is possible," said the officer; "but what were their names?"

"The woman was Tara, Princess of Helium, and the man was Ghek, a
kaldane, of Bantoom."

"These were your friends?" asked the officer.

"Yes," replied Turan.

"It is what I would know," said the officer, and with a curt command to
his men to follow him he turned and left the cell.

"Tell me of them!" cried Turan after him. "Tell me of Tara of Helium!
Is she safe?" but the man did not answer and soon the sound of their
departure died in the distance.

"Tara of Helium was safe, but a short time since," said the prisoner
chained at Turan's side.

The panthan turned toward the speaker, seeing a large man, handsome of
face and with a manner both stately and dignified. "You have seen her?"
he asked. "They captured her then? She is in danger?"

"She is being held in The Towers of Jetan as a prize for the next
games," replied the stranger.

"And who are you?" asked Turan. "And why are you here, a prisoner?"

"I am A-Kor the dwar, keeper of The Towers of Jetan," replied the
other. "I am here because I dared speak the truth of O-Tar the jeddak,
to one of his officers."

"And your punishment?" asked Turan.

"I do not know. O-Tar has not yet spoken. Doubtless the games--perhaps
the full ten, for O-Tar does not love A-Kor, his son."

"You are the jeddak's son?" asked Turan.

"I am the son of O-Tar and of a slave, Haja of Gathol, who was a
princess in her own land."

Turan looked searchingly at the speaker. A son of Haja of Gathol! A son
of his mother's sister, this man, then, was his own cousin. Well did
Gahan remember the mysterious disappearance of the Princess Haja and an
entire utan of her personal troops. She had been upon a visit far from
the city of Gathol and returning home had vanished with her whole
escort from the sight of man. So this was the secret of the seeming
mystery? Doubtless it explained many other similar disappearances that
extended nearly as far back as the history of Gathol. Turan scrutinized
his companion, discovering many evidences of resemblance to his
mother's people. A-Kor might have been ten years younger than he, but
such differences in age are scarce accounted among a people who seldom
or never age outwardly after

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