The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 58

voice alone lacked all authority to influence her. It was not like
the eyes. She heard the creature whistle and knew that it was summoning
assistance, but because she did not dare look toward it she did not see
it turn and concentrate its gaze upon the great, headless body lying by
the further wall.

The girl was still slightly under the spell of the creature's
influence--she had not regained full and independent domination of her
powers. She moved as one in the throes of some hideous
nightmare--slowly, painfully, as though each limb was hampered by a
great weight, or as she were dragging her body through a viscous fluid.
The aperture was close, ah, so close, yet, struggle as she would, she
seemed to be making no appreciable progress toward it.

Behind her, urged on by the malevolent power of the great brain, the
headless body crawled upon all-fours toward her. At last she had
reached the aperture. Something seemed to tell her that once beyond it
the domination of the kaldane would be broken. She was almost through
into the adjoining chamber when she felt a heavy hand close upon her
ankle. The rykor had reached forth and seized her, and though she
struggled the thing dragged her back into the room with Luud. It held
her tight and drew her close, and then, to her horror, it commenced to
caress her.

"You see now," she heard Luud's dull voice, "the futility of
revolt--and its punishment."

Tara of Helium fought to defend herself, but pitifully weak were her
muscles against this brainless incarnation of brute power. Yet she
fought, fought on in the face of hopeless odds for the honor of the
proud name she bore--fought alone, she whom the fighting men of a
mighty empire, the flower of Martian chivalry, would gladly have lain
down their lives to save.



CHAPTER VII

A REPELLENT SIGHT

The cruiser Vanator careened through the tempest. That she had not been
dashed to the ground, or twisted by the force of the elements into
tangled wreckage, was due entirely to the caprice of Nature. For all
the duration of the storm she rode, a helpless derelict, upon those
storm-tossed waves of wind. But for all the dangers and vicissitudes
they underwent, she and her crew might have borne charmed lives up to
within an hour of the abating of the hurricane. It was then that the
catastrophe occurred--a catastrophe indeed to the crew of the Vanator
and the kingdom of Gathol.

The men had been without food or drink since leaving Helium, and they
had been hurled about and buffeted in their lashings

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