The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 70

in the Land of
the First Born. It is there that we are bound."

As I looked I commenced to realize why it was that in all the ages only
one had escaped from the Valley Dor. My only wonder was that even the
one had been successful. To cross this frozen, wind-swept waste of
bleak ice alone and on foot would be impossible.

"Only by air boat could the journey be made," I finished aloud.

"It was thus that one did escape the therns in bygone times; but none
has ever escaped the First Born," said Xodar, with a touch of pride in
his voice.

We had now reached the southernmost extremity of the great ice barrier.
It ended abruptly in a sheer wall thousands of feet high at the base of
which stretched a level valley, broken here and there by low rolling
hills and little clumps of forest, and with tiny rivers formed by the
melting of the ice barrier at its base.

Once we passed far above what seemed to be a deep canyon-like rift
stretching from the ice wall on the north across the valley as far as
the eye could reach. "That is the bed of the River Iss," said Xodar.
"It runs far beneath the ice field, and below the level of the Valley
Otz, but its canyon is open here."

Presently I descried what I took to be a village, and pointing it out
to Xodar asked him what it might be.

"It is a village of lost souls," he answered, laughing. "This strip
between the ice barrier and the mountains is considered neutral ground.
Some turn off from their voluntary pilgrimage down the Iss, and,
scaling the awful walls of its canyon below us, stop in the valley.
Also a slave now and then escapes from the therns and makes his way
hither.

"They do not attempt to recapture such, since there is no escape from
this outer valley, and as a matter of fact they fear the patrolling
cruisers of the First Born too much to venture from their own domains.

"The poor creatures of this outer valley are not molested by us since
they have nothing that we desire, nor are they numerically strong
enough to give us an interesting fight--so we too leave them alone.

"There are several villages of them, but they have increased in numbers
but little in many years since they are always warring among
themselves."

Now we swung a little north of west, leaving the valley of lost souls,
and shortly I discerned over our starboard bow

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