The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 144


"Would you favor the friend of O-Zar?" asked Turan.

"Gladly!" exclaimed the other. "What may I do for him?"

"Make me chief of the Black and give me for my pieces all slaves from
Gathol, for I understand that those be excellent warriors," replied the

"It is a strange request," said the keeper, "but for my friend O-Zar I
would do even more, though of course--" he hesitated--"it is customary
for one who would be chief to make some slight payment."

"Certainly," Turan hastened to assure him; "I had not forgotten that. I
was about to ask you what the customary amount is."

"For the friend of my friend it shall be nominal," replied the keeper,
naming a figure that Gahan, accustomed to the high price of wealthy
Gathol, thought ridiculously low.

"Tell me," he said, handing the money to the keeper, "when the game for
the Heliumite is to be played."

"It is the second in order of the day's games; and now if you will come
with me you may select your pieces."

Turan followed the keeper to a large court which lay between the towers
and the jetan field, where hundreds of warriors were assembled. Already
chiefs for the games of the day were selecting their pieces and
assigning them to positions, though for the principal games these
matters had been arranged for weeks before. The keeper led Turan to a
part of the courtyard where the majority of the slaves were assembled.

"Take your choice of those not assigned," said the keeper, "and when
you have your quota conduct them to the field. Your place will be
assigned you by an officer there, and there you will remain with your
pieces until the second game is called. I wish you luck, U-Kal, though
from what I have heard you will be more lucky to lose than to win the
slave from Helium."

After the fellow had departed Turan approached the slaves. "I seek the
best swordsmen for the second game," he announced. "Men from Gathol I
wish, for I have heard that these be noble fighters."

A slave rose and approached him. "It is all the same in which game we
die," he said. "I would fight for you as a panthan in the second game."

Another came. "I am not from Gathol," he said. "I am from Helium, and I
would fight for the honor of a princess of Helium."

"Good!" exclaimed Turan. "Art a swordsman of repute in Helium?"

"I was a dwar under the great Warlord, and I have fought at his side in
a score of battles from The

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