The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 184

it if he does not visit
the chamber of O-Mai. Then indeed shall O-Tar fall!"

The night came and the zodes dragged and the time approached when
O-Tar, Jeddak of Manator, was to visit the chamber of O-Mai in search
of the slave Turan. To us, who may doubt the existence of malignant
spirits, his fear may seem unbelievable, for he was a strong man, an
excellent swordsman, and a warrior of great repute; but the fact
remained that O-Tar of Manator was nervous with apprehension as he
strode the corridors of his palace toward the deserted halls of O-Mai
and when he stood at last with his hand upon the door that opened from
the dusty corridor to the very apartments themselves he was almost
paralyzed with terror. He had come alone for two very excellent
reasons, the first of which was that thus none might note his
terror-stricken state nor his defection should he fail at the last
moment, and the other was that should he accomplish the thing alone or
be able to make his chiefs believe that he had, the credit would be far
greater than were he to be accompanied by warriors.

But though he had started alone he had become aware that he was being
followed, and he knew that it was because his people had no faith in
either his courage or his veracity. He did not believe that he would
find the slave Turan. He did not very much want to find him, for though
O-Tar was an excellent swordsman and a brave warrior in physical
combat, he had seen how Turan had played with U-Dor and he had no
stomach for a passage at arms with one whom he knew outclassed him.

And so O-Tar stood with his hand upon the door--afraid to enter; afraid
not to. But at last his fear of his own warriors, watching behind him,
grew greater than the fear of the unknown behind the ancient door and
he pushed the heavy skeel aside and entered.

Silence and gloom and the dust of centuries lay heavy upon the chamber.
From his warriors he knew the route that he must take to the horrid
chamber of O-Mai and so he forced his unwilling feet across the room
before him, across the room where the jetan players sat at their
eternal game, and came to the short corridor that led into the room of
O-Mai. His naked sword trembled in his grasp. He paused after each
forward step to listen and when he was almost at the door of the
ghost-haunted chamber, his heart

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