The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 163

is little doubt but that he would command you to devote your
talents and your prowess to the rescue of the Princess Tara of Helium,"
he said, meaningly. "And he possessed the knowledge I have gained
during my captivity he would say to you, 'Go, Tasor, to the pit where
A-kor, son of Haja of Gathol, is confined and set him free and with him
arouse the slaves from Gathol and march to The Gate of Enemies and
offer your services to U-Thor of Manataj, who is wed to Haja of Gathol,
and ask of him in return that he attack the palace of O-Tar and rescue
Tara of Helium and when that thing is accomplished that he free the
slaves of Gathol and furnish them with the arms and the means to return
to their own country.' That, Tasor of Gathol, is what Gahan your Jed
would demand of you."

"And that, Turan the slave, is what I shall bend my every effort to
accomplish after I have found a safe refuge for Tara of Helium and her
panthan," replied Tasor.

Gahan's glance carried to Tasor an intimation of his Jed's
gratification and filled him with a chivalrous determination to do the
thing required of him, or die, for he considered that he had received
from the lips of his beloved ruler a commission that placed upon his
shoulders a responsibility that encompassed not alone the life of Gahan
and Tara but the welfare, perhaps the whole future, of Gathol. And so
he hastened them onward through the musty corridors of the old palace
where the dust of ages lay undisturbed upon the marble tiles. Now and
again he tried a door until he found one that was unlocked. Opening it
he ushered them into a chamber, heavy with dust. Crumbling silks and
furs adorned the walls, with ancient weapons, and great paintings whose
colors were toned by age to wondrous softness.

"This be as good as any place," he said. "No one comes here. Never have
I been here before, so I know no more of the other chambers than you;
but this one, at least, I can find again when I bring you food and
drink. O-Mai the Cruel occupied this portion of the palace during his
reign, five thousand years before O-Tar. In one of these apartments he
was found dead, his face contorted in an expression of fear so horrible
that it drove to madness those who looked upon it; yet there was no
mark of violence upon him. Since then the quarters of O-Mai have been
shunned for the

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