The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 71

faces
suddenly endowed him with the strength of ten warriors and the ferocity
of a wounded banth. It was Tara of Helium, fighting for her honor or
her life.

The warriors, startled by the unexpected appearance of a red man, stood
for a moment in dumb amazement, and in that moment Gahan of Gathol was
upon them, and one was down, a sword-thrust through its heart.

"Strike at the heads," whispered the voice of Ghek in Gahan's ear. The
latter saw the head of the fallen warrior crawl quickly within the
aperture leading to the chamber where he had seen Tara of Helium in the
clutches of a headless body. Then the sword of Ghek struck the kaldane
of the remaining warrior from its rykor and Gahan ran his sword through
the repulsive head.

Instantly the red warrior leaped for the aperture, while close behind
him came Ghek.

"Look not upon the eyes of Luud," warned the kaldane, "or you are lost."

Within the chamber Gahan saw Tara of Helium in the clutches of a mighty
body, while close to the wall upon the opposite side of the apartment
crouched the hideous, spider-like Luud. Instantly the king realized the
menace to himself and sought to fasten his eyes upon the eyes of Gahan,
and in doing so he was forced to relax his concentration upon the rykor
in whose embraces Tara struggled, so that almost immediately the girl
found herself able to tear away from the awful, headless thing.

As she rose quickly to her feet she saw for the first time the cause of
the interruption of Luud's plans. A red warrior! Her heart leaped in
rejoicing and thanksgiving. What miracle of fate had sent him to her?
She did not recognize him, though, this travel-worn warrior in the
plain harness which showed no single jewel. How could she have guessed
him the same as the scintillant creature of platinum and diamonds that
she had seen for a brief hour under such different circumstances at the
court of her august sire?

Luud saw Ghek following the strange warrior into the chamber. "Strike
him down, Ghek!" commanded the king. "Strike down the stranger and your
life shall be yours."

Gahan glanced at the hideous face of the king.

"Seek not his eyes," screamed Tara in warning; but it was too late.
Already the horrid hypnotic gaze of the king kaldane had seized upon
the eyes of Gahan. The red warrior hesitated in his stride. His sword
point drooped slowly toward the floor. Tara glanced toward Ghek. She
saw the creature glaring with his expressionless eyes upon the broad
back of

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