The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 126

where the five passageways met, I might wait with some assurance
for the return of the warriors with Tars Tarkas. My knowledge of their
customs lent colour to the belief that he was but being escorted to the
audience chamber to have sentence passed upon him. I had not the
slightest doubt but that they would preserve so doughty a warrior as
the great Thark for the rare sport he would furnish at the Great Games.

But unless I could find my way back to that point the chances were most
excellent that I would wander for days through the awful blackness,
until, overcome by thirst and hunger, I lay down to die, or--What was
that!

A faint shuffling sounded behind me, and as I cast a hasty glance over
my shoulder my blood froze in my veins for the thing I saw there. It
was not so much fear of the present danger as it was the horrifying
memories it recalled of that time I near went mad over the corpse of
the man I had killed in the dungeons of the Warhoons, when blazing eyes
came out of the dark recesses and dragged the thing that had been a man
from my clutches and I heard it scraping over the stone of my prison as
they bore it away to their terrible feast.

And now in these black pits of the other Warhoons I looked into those
same fiery eyes, blazing at me through the terrible darkness, revealing
no sign of the beast behind them. I think that the most fearsome
attribute of these awesome creatures is their silence and the fact that
one never sees them--nothing but those baleful eyes glaring
unblinkingly out of the dark void behind.

Grasping my long-sword tightly in my hand, I backed slowly along the
corridor away from the thing that watched me, but ever as I retreated
the eyes advanced, nor was there any sound, not even the sound of
breathing, except the occasional shuffling sound as of the dragging of
a dead limb, that had first attracted my attention.

On and on I went, but I could not escape my sinister pursuer. Suddenly
I heard the shuffling noise at my right, and, looking, saw another pair
of eyes, evidently approaching from an intersecting corridor. As I
started to renew my slow retreat I heard the noise repeated behind me,
and then before I could turn I heard it again at my left.

The things were all about me. They had me surrounded at the
intersection of two corridors.

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