Thuvia, Maid of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 58

both
Thuvia and Carthoris suddenly noted a small orifice which grew in
diameter as the floor assumed more closely a funnel-like contour.

Now it became more and more difficult to cling to the dizzy
inclination of the smooth and polished marble.

Carthoris tried to support Thuvia, but himself commenced to slide
and slip toward the ever-enlarging aperture.

Better to cling to the smooth stone he kicked off his sandals
of zitidar hide and with his bare feet braced himself against the
sickening tilt, at the same time throwing his arms supportingly
about the girl.

In her terror her own hands clasped about the man's neck. Her
cheek was close to his. Death, unseen and of unknown form, seemed
close upon them, and because unseen and unknowable infinitely more
terrifying.

"Courage, my princess," he whispered.

She looked up into his face to see smiling lips above hers and
brave eyes, untouched by terror, drinking deeply of her own.

Then the floor sagged and tilted more swiftly. There was a sudden
slipping rush as they were precipitated toward the aperture.

Jav's screams rose weird and horrible in their ears, and then the
three found themselves piled upon the royal couch of Tario, which
had stuck within the aperture at the base of the marble funnel.

For a moment they breathed more freely, but presently they discovered
that the aperture was continuing to enlarge. The couch slipped
downward. Jav shrieked again. There was a sickening sensation as
they felt all let go beneath them, as they fell through darkness
to an unknown death.




CHAPTER IX

THE BATTLE IN THE PLAIN


The distance from the bottom of the funnel to the floor of the
chamber beneath it could not have been great, for all three of the
victims of Tario's wrath alighted unscathed.

Carthoris, still clasping Thuvia tightly to his breast, came to
the ground catlike, upon his feet, breaking the shock for the girl.
Scarce had his feet touched the rough stone flagging of this new
chamber than his sword flashed out ready for instant use. But
though the room was lighted, there was no sign of enemy about.

Carthoris looked toward Jav. The man was pasty white with fear.

"What is to be our fate?" asked the Heliumite. "Tell me, man!
Shake off your terror long enough to tell me, so I may be prepared
to sell my life and that of the Princess of Ptarth as dearly as
possible."

"Komal!" whispered Jav. "We are to be devoured by Komal!"

"Your deity?" asked Carthoris.

The Lotharian nodded his head. Then he pointed toward a low doorway
at

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