The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 69

cruel or vindictive.

"Since you cannot escape under any circumstances," he said, "I cannot
see the necessity for keeping you confined below. I will cut your
bonds and you may come on deck. You will witness something very
interesting, and as you never shall return to the outer world it will
do no harm to permit you to see it. You will see what no other than
the First Born and their slaves know the existence of--the subterranean
entrance to the Holy Land, to the real heaven of Barsoom.

"It will be an excellent lesson for this daughter of the therns," he
added, "for she shall see the Temple of Issus, and Issus, perchance,
shall embrace her."

Phaidor's head went high.

"What blasphemy is this, dog of a pirate?" she cried. "Issus would
wipe out your entire breed an' you ever came within sight of her
temple."

"You have much to learn, thern," replied Xodar, with an ugly smile,
"nor do I envy you the manner in which you will learn it."

As we came on deck I saw to my surprise that the vessel was passing
over a great field of snow and ice. As far as the eye could reach in
any direction naught else was visible.

There could be but one solution to the mystery. We were above the
south polar ice cap. Only at the poles of Mars is there ice or snow
upon the planet. No sign of life appeared below us. Evidently we were
too far south even for the great fur-bearing animals which the Martians
so delight in hunting.

Xodar was at my side as I stood looking out over the ship's rail.

"What course?" I asked him.

"A little west of south," he replied. "You will see the Otz Valley
directly. We shall skirt it for a few hundred miles."

"The Otz Valley!" I exclaimed; "but, man, is not there where lie the
domains of the therns from which I but just escaped?"

"Yes," answered Xodar. "You crossed this ice field last night in the
long chase that you led us. The Otz Valley lies in a mighty depression
at the south pole. It is sunk thousands of feet below the level of the
surrounding country, like a great round bowl. A hundred miles from its
northern boundary rise the Otz Mountains which circle the inner Valley
of Dor, in the exact centre of which lies the Lost Sea of Korus. On
the shore of this sea stands the Golden Temple of Issus

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