The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 159

right
to deliver his message?"

"To whom would you deliver it?" asked the padwar of the guard.

"Saw you not him who just entered?" cried Gahan, and without waiting
for a reply urged his thoat straight past them into the palace, and
while they were deliberating what was best to be done, it was too late
to do anything--which is not unusual.

Along the marble corridors Gahan guided his thoat, and because he had
gone that way before, rather than because he knew which way Tara had
been taken, he followed the runways and passed through the chambers
that led to the throne room of O-Tar. On the second level he met a
slave.

"Which way went he who carried the woman before him?" he asked.

The slave pointed toward a nearby runway that led to the third level
and Gahan dashed rapidly on in pursuit. At the same moment a thoatman,
riding at a furious pace, approached the palace and halted his mount at
the gate.

"Saw you aught of a warrior pursuing one who carried a woman before him
on his thoat?" he shouted to the guard.

"He but just passed in," replied the padwar, "saying that he was
O-Tar's messenger."

"He lied," cried the newcomer. "He was Turan, the slave, who stole the
woman from the throne room two days since. Arouse the palace! He must
be seized, and alive if possible. It is O-Tar's command."

Instantly warriors were dispatched to search for the Gatholian and warn
the inmates of the palace to do likewise. Owing to the games there were
comparatively few retainers in the great building, but those whom they
found were immediately enlisted in the search, so that presently at
least fifty warriors were seeking through the countless chambers and
corridors of the palace of O-Tar.

As Gahan's thoat bore him to the third Level the man glimpsed the hind
quarters of another thoat disappearing at the turn of a corridor far
ahead. Urging his own animal forward he raced swiftly in pursuit and
making the turn discovered only an empty corridor ahead. Along this he
hurried to discover near its farther end a runway to the fourth level,
which he followed upward. Here he saw that he had gained upon his
quarry who was just turning through a doorway fifty yards ahead. As
Gahan reached the opening he saw that the warrior had dismounted and
was dragging Tara toward a small door on the opposite side of the
chamber. At the same instant the clank of harness to his rear caused
him to cast a glance behind where, along the corridor he had

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