The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 128

Corphal and so you believe, too, that only the sword of a jeddak
may slay me, therefore your blades are useless against me. Offer harm
to any one of us, or seek to approach your jeddak until I have spoken,
and he shall sink lifeless to the marble. Release the two prisoners and
let them come to my side--I would speak to them, privately. Quick! do
as I say; I would as lief as not slay O-Tar. I but let him live that I
may gain freedom for my friends--obstruct me and he dies."

The guards fell back, releasing Tara and Turan, who came close to
Ghek's side.

"Do as I tell you and do it quickly," whispered the kaldane. "I cannot
hold this fellow long, nor could I kill him thus. There are many minds
working against mine and presently mine will tire and O-Tar will be
himself again. You must make the best of your opportunity while you
may. Behind the arras that you see hanging in the rear of the throne
above you is a secret opening. From it a corridor leads to the pits of
the palace, where there are storerooms containing food and drink. Few
people go there. From these pits lead others to all parts of the city.
Follow one that runs due west and it will bring you to The Gate of
Enemies. The rest will then lie with you. I can do no more; hurry
before my waning powers fail me--I am not as Luud, who was a king. He
could have held this creature forever. Make haste! Go!"



CHAPTER XV

THE OLD MAN OF THE PITS

"I shall not desert you, Ghek," said Tara of Helium, simply.

"Go! Go!" whispered the kaldane. "You can do me no good. Go, or all I
have done is for naught."

Tara shook her head. "I cannot," she said.

"They will slay her," said Ghek to Turan, and the panthan, torn between
loyalty to this strange creature who had offered its life for him, and
love of the woman, hesitated but a moment, then he swept Tara from her
feet and lifting her in his arms leaped up the steps that led to the
throne of Manator. Behind the throne he parted the arras and found the
secret opening. Into this he bore the girl and down a long, narrow
corridor and winding runways that led to lower levels until they came
to the pits of the palace of O-Tar. Here was a labyrinth of passages
and chambers presenting a thousand hiding-places.

As Turan bore Tara up the steps toward the

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