The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 97

doomed maids.

Many had gone down on both sides, but by far the greater havoc had been
wrought in the ranks of the guards of Issus. I could see messengers
running swiftly through the audience, and as they passed the nobles
there unsheathed their swords and sprang into the arena. They were
going to annihilate us by force of numbers--that was quite evidently
their plan.

I caught a glimpse of Issus leaning far forward upon her throne, her
hideous countenance distorted in a horrid grimace of hate and rage, in
which I thought I could distinguish an expression of fear. It was that
face that inspired me to the thing that followed.

Quickly I ordered fifty of the prisoners to drop back behind us and
form a new circle about the maidens.

"Remain and protect them until I return," I commanded.

Then, turning to those who formed the outer line, I cried, "Down with
Issus! Follow me to the throne; we will reap vengeance where vengeance
is deserved."

The youth at my side was the first to take up the cry of "Down with
Issus!" and then at my back and from all sides rose a hoarse shout, "To
the throne! To the throne!"

As one man we moved, an irresistible fighting mass, over the bodies of
dead and dying foes toward the gorgeous throne of the Martian deity.
Hordes of the doughtiest fighting-men of the First Born poured from the
audience to check our progress. We mowed them down before us as they
had been paper men.

"To the seats, some of you!" I cried as we approached the arena's
barrier wall. "Ten of us can take the throne," for I had seen that
Issus' guards had for the most part entered the fray within the arena.

On both sides of me the prisoners broke to left and right for the
seats, vaulting the low wall with dripping swords lusting for the
crowded victims who awaited them.

In another moment the entire amphitheatre was filled with the shrieks
of the dying and the wounded, mingled with the clash of arms and
triumphant shouts of the victors.

Side by side the young red man and I, with perhaps a dozen others,
fought our way to the foot of the throne. The remaining guards,
reinforced by the high dignitaries and nobles of the First Born, closed
in between us and Issus, who sat leaning far forward upon her carved
sorapus bench, now screaming high-pitched commands to her following,
now hurling blighting curses upon those who sought to desecrate her
godhood.

The frightened slaves about

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