The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 80

eyes of deity were
appraising me.

Presently the thin wavering voice broke the stillness, repeating in a
singsong drone the words which for countless ages had sealed the doom
of numberless victims.

"Let the man turn and look upon Issus, knowing that those of the lower
orders who gaze upon the holy vision of her radiant face survive the
blinding glory but a single year."

I turned as I had been bid, expecting such a treat as only the
revealment of divine glory to mortal eyes might produce. What I saw
was a solid phalanx of armed men between myself and a dais supporting a
great bench of carved sorapus wood. On this bench, or throne, squatted
a female black. She was evidently very old. Not a hair remained upon
her wrinkled skull. With the exception of two yellow fangs she was
entirely toothless. On either side of her thin, hawk-like nose her
eyes burned from the depths of horribly sunken sockets. The skin of
her face was seamed and creased with a million deepcut furrows. Her
body was as wrinkled as her face, and as repulsive.

Emaciated arms and legs attached to a torso which seemed to be mostly
distorted abdomen completed the "holy vision of her radiant beauty."

Surrounding her were a number of female slaves, among them Phaidor,
white and trembling.

"This is the man who slew seven of the First Born and, bare-handed,
bound Dator Xodar with his own harness?" asked Issus.

"Most glorious vision of divine loveliness, it is," replied the officer
who stood at my side.

"Produce Dator Xodar," she commanded.

Xodar was brought from the adjoining room.

Issus glared at him, a baleful light in her hideous eyes.

"And such as you are a Dator of the First Born?" she squealed. "For
the disgrace you have brought upon the Immortal Race you shall be
degraded to a rank below the lowest. No longer be you a Dator, but for
evermore a slave of slaves, to fetch and carry for the lower orders
that serve in the gardens of Issus. Remove his harness. Cowards and
slaves wear no trappings."

Xodar stood stiffly erect. Not a muscle twitched, nor a tremor shook
his giant frame as a soldier of the guard roughly stripped his gorgeous
trappings from him.

"Begone," screamed the infuriated little old woman. "Begone, but
instead of the light of the gardens of Issus let you serve as a slave
of this slave who conquered you in the prison on the Isle of Shador in
the Sea of Omean.

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