The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 161

arc
of a great circle, gathering swift and terrific momentum from its own
weight backed by the brawn of the steel thews that guided it; he saw it
pass through the feathered skull of the Manatorian, splitting his
sardonic grin in twain, and open him to the middle of his breast bone.

As the dead hand relaxed its grasp upon Tara's wrist the girl leaped
forward, without a backward glance, to Gahan's side. His left arm
encircled her, nor did she draw away, as with ready sword the Gatholian
awaited Fate's next decree. Before them Tara's deliverer was wiping the
blood from his sword upon the hair of his victim. He was evidently a
Manatorian, his trappings those of the Jeddak's Guard, and so his act
was inexplicable to Gahan and to Tara. Presently he sheathed his sword
and approached them.

"When a man chooses to hide his identity behind an assumed name," he
said, looking straight into Gahan's eyes, "whatever friend pierces the
deception were no friend if he divulged the other's secret."

He paused as though awaiting a reply.

"Your integrity has perceived and your lips voiced an unalterable
truth," replied Gahan, whose mind was filled with wonder if the
implication could by any possibility be true--that this Manatorian had
guessed his identity.

"We are thus agreed," continued the other, "and I may tell you that
though I am here known as A-Sor, my real name is Tasor." He paused and
watched Gahan's face intently for any sign of the effect of this
knowledge and was rewarded with a quick, though guarded expression of
recognition.

Tasor! Friend of his youth. The son of that great Gatholian noble who
had given his life so gloriously, however futilely, in an attempt to
defend Gahan's sire from the daggers of the assassins. Tasor an
under-padwar in the guard of O-Tar, Jeddak of Manator! It was
inconceivable--and yet it was he; there could be no doubt of it.
"Tasor," Gahan repeated aloud. "But it is no Manatorian name." The
statement was half interrogatory, for Gahan's curiosity was aroused. He
would know how his friend and loyal subject had become a Manatorian.
Long years had passed since Tasor had disappeared as mysteriously as
the Princess Haja and many other of Gahan's subjects. The Jed of Gathol
had long supposed him dead.

"No," replied Tasor, "nor is it a Manatorian name. Come, while I search
for a hiding place for you in some forgotten chamber in one of the
untenanted portions of the palace, and as we go I will tell you briefly
how Tasor the Gatholian became A-Sor the Manatorian.

"It befell that as

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