The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 26

the dim light which a single minute radium illuminator in
the centre of the roof diffused throughout its great dimensions. Here
and there polished surfaces of ruby, emerald, and diamond patched the
golden walls and ceiling. The floor was of another material, very
hard, and worn by much use to the smoothness of glass. Aside from the
two doors I could discern no sign of other aperture, and as one we knew
to be locked against us I approached the other.

As I extended my hand to search for the controlling button, that cruel
and mocking laugh rang out once more, so close to me this time that I
involuntarily shrank back, tightening my grip upon the hilt of my great
sword.

And then from the far corner of the great chamber a hollow voice
chanted: "There is no hope, there is no hope; the dead return not, the
dead return not; nor is there any resurrection. Hope not, for there is
no hope."

Though our eyes instantly turned toward the spot from which the voice
seemed to emanate, there was no one in sight, and I must admit that
cold shivers played along my spine and the short hairs at the base of
my head stiffened and rose up, as do those upon a hound's neck when in
the night his eyes see those uncanny things which are hidden from the
sight of man.

Quickly I walked toward the mournful voice, but it had ceased ere I
reached the further wall, and then from the other end of the chamber
came another voice, shrill and piercing:

"Fools! Fools!" it shrieked. "Thinkest thou to defeat the eternal
laws of life and death? Wouldst cheat the mysterious Issus, Goddess of
Death, of her just dues? Did not her mighty messenger, the ancient
Iss, bear you upon her leaden bosom at your own behest to the Valley
Dor?

"Thinkest thou, O fools, that Issus wilt give up her own? Thinkest
thou to escape from whence in all the countless ages but a single soul
has fled?

"Go back the way thou camest, to the merciful maws of the children of
the Tree of Life or the gleaming fangs of the great white apes, for
there lies speedy surcease from suffering; but insist in your rash
purpose to thread the mazes of the Golden Cliffs of the Mountains of
Otz, past the ramparts of the impregnable fortresses of the Holy
Therns, and upon your way Death in its most frightful form will
overtake you--a death so horrible that even the Holy Therns

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