The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 35

blade drove deep into the
naked chest. The impact hurled them both to the ground and as Tara of
Helium sprang to her feet again she saw, to her horror, that the
loathsome head had rolled from the body and was now crawling away from
her on six short, spider-like legs. The body struggled spasmodically
and lay still. As brief as had been the delay caused by the encounter,
it still had been of sufficient duration to undo her, for even as she
rose two more of the things fell upon her and instantly thereafter she
was surrounded. Her blade sank once more into naked flesh and once more
a head rolled free and crawled away. Then they overpowered her and in
another moment she was surrounded by fully a hundred of the creatures,
all seeking to lay hands upon her. At first she thought that they
wished to tear her to pieces in revenge for her having slain two of
their fellows, but presently she realized that they were prompted more
by curiosity than by any sinister motive.

"Come!" said one of her captors, both of whom had retained a hold upon
her. As he spoke he tried to lead her away with him toward the nearest
tower.

"She belongs to me," cried the other. "Did not I capture her? She will
come with me to the tower of Moak."

"Never!" insisted the first. "She is Luud's. To Luud I will take her,
and whosoever interferes may feel the keenness of my sword--in the
head!" He almost shouted the last three words.

"Come! Enough of this," cried one who spoke with some show of
authority. "She was captured in Luud's fields--she will go to Luud."

"She was discovered in Moak's fields, at the very foot of the tower of
Moak," insisted he who had claimed her for Moak.

"You have heard the Nolach speak," cried the Luud. "It shall be as he
says."

"Not while this Moak holds a sword," replied the other. "Rather will I
cut her in twain and take my half to Moak than to relinquish her all to
Luud," and he drew his sword, or rather he laid his hand upon its hilt
in a threatening gesture; but before ever he could draw it the Luud had
whipped his out and with a fearful blow cut deep into the head of his
adversary. Instantly the big, round head collapsed, almost as a
punctured balloon collapses, as a grayish, semi-fluid matter spurted
from it. The protruding eyes, apparently lidless, merely stared, the
sphincter-like muscle of the mouth opened and closed, and then the

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