The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 70

you to liberate her, will you take me with you?"

Gahan of Gathol eyed the weird creature from crown to foot--the perfect
body, the grotesque head, the expressionless face. Among such as these
had the beautiful daughter of Helium been held captive for days and

"If she lives and is unharmed," he said, "I will take you with us."

"When they took her from me she was alive and unharmed," replied Ghek.
"I cannot say what has befallen her since. Luud sent for her."

"Who is Luud? Where is he? Lead me to him." Gahan spoke quickly in
tones vibrant with authority.

"Come, then," said Ghek, leading the way from the apartment and down a
stairway toward the underground burrows of the kaldanes. "Luud is my
king. I will take you to his chambers."

"Hasten!" urged Gahan.

"Sheathe your sword," warned Ghek, "so that should we pass others of my
kind I may say to them that you are a new prisoner with some likelihood
of winning their belief."

Gahan did as he was bid, but warning the kaldane that his hand was ever
ready at his dagger's hilt.

"You need have no fear of treachery," said Ghek. "My only hope of life
lies in you."

"And if you fail me," Gahan admonished him, "I can promise you as sure
a death as even your king might guarantee you."

Ghek made no reply, but moved rapidly through the winding subterranean
corridors until Gahan began to realize how truly was he in the hands of
this strange monster. If the fellow should prove false it would profit
Gahan nothing to slay him, since without his guidance the red man might
never hope to retrace his way to the tower and freedom.

Twice they met and were accosted by other kaldanes; but in both
instances Ghek's simple statement that he was taking a new prisoner to
Luud appeared to allay all suspicion, and then at last they came to the
ante-chamber of the king.

"Here, now, red man, thou must fight, if ever," whispered Ghek. "Enter
there!" and he pointed to a doorway before them.

"And you?" asked Gahan, still fearful of treachery.

"My rykor is powerful," replied the kaldane. "I shall accompany you and
fight at your side. As well die thus as in torture later at the will of
Luud. Come!"

But Gahan had already crossed the room and entered the chamber beyond.
Upon the opposite side of the room was a circular opening guarded by
two warriors. Beyond this opening he could see two figures struggling
upon the floor, and the fleeting glimpse he had of one of the

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