The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 34


"Yes; release me and I will give you entrance to the other horror
chamber, if you wish. The keys to my fetters are upon the first dead
of thy foemen. But why would you return to face again the fierce
banth, or whatever other form of destruction they have loosed within
that awful trap?"

"Because my friend fights there alone," I answered, as I hastily sought
and found the keys upon the carcass of the dead custodian of this grim
chamber of horrors.

There were many keys upon the oval ring, but the fair Martian maid
quickly selected that which sprung the great lock at her waist, and
freed she hurried toward the secret panel.

Again she sought out a key upon the ring. This time a slender,
needle-like affair which she inserted in an almost invisible hole in
the wall. Instantly the door swung upon its pivot, and the contiguous
section of the floor upon which I was standing carried me with it into
the chamber where Tars Tarkas fought.

The great Thark stood with his back against an angle of the walls,
while facing him in a semi-circle a half-dozen huge monsters crouched
waiting for an opening. Their blood-streaked heads and shoulders
testified to the cause of their wariness as well as to the
swordsmanship of the green warrior whose glossy hide bore the same mute
but eloquent witness to the ferocity of the attacks that he had so far

Sharp talons and cruel fangs had torn leg, arm, and breast literally to
ribbons. So weak was he from continued exertion and loss of blood that
but for the supporting wall I doubt that he even could have stood
erect. But with the tenacity and indomitable courage of his kind he
still faced his cruel and relentless foes--the personification of that
ancient proverb of his tribe: "Leave to a Thark his head and one hand
and he may yet conquer."

As he saw me enter, a grim smile touched those grim lips of his, but
whether the smile signified relief or merely amusement at the sight of
my own bloody and dishevelled condition I do not know.

As I was about to spring into the conflict with my sharp long-sword I
felt a gentle hand upon my shoulder and turning found, to my surprise,
that the young woman had followed me into the chamber.

"Wait," she whispered, "leave them to me," and pushing me advanced, all
defenceless and unarmed, upon the snarling banths.

When quite close to them she spoke a single Martian word in low but
peremptory tones.

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