Thuvia, Maid of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 95

Gorgeous were they in their splendid cloaks of orluk and
apt. Fierce, formidable fighters from the hothouse cities of the
frozen north.

And from the distant south, from the sea of Omean and the cliffs
of gold, from the temples of the therns and the garden of Issus,
other thousands sailed into the north at the call of the great man
they all had learned to respect, and, respecting, love. Pacing the
flagship of this mighty fleet, second only to the navy of Helium,
was the ebon Xodar, Jeddak of the First Born, his heart beating
strong in anticipation of the coming moment when he should hurl his
savage crews and the weight of his mighty ships upon the enemies
of the warlord.

But would these allies reach the theatre of war in time to be of
avail to Helium? Or, would Helium need them?

Carthoris, with the other members of the crew of the Thuria, heard
the gossip and the rumours. None knew of the two fleets, the one
from the south and the other from the north, that were coming to
support the ships of Helium, and all of Dusar were convinced that
nothing now could save the ancient power of Helium from being wiped
for ever from the upper air of Barsoom.

Carthoris, too, loyal son of Helium that he was, felt that even
his beloved navy might not be able to cope successfully with the
combined forces of three great powers.

Now the Thuria touched the landing-stage above the palace of Astok.
Hurriedly the prince and Vas Kor disembarked and entered the drop
that would carry them to the lower levels of the palace.

Close beside it was another drop that was utilized by common
warriors. Carthoris touched Kar Komak upon the arm.

"Come!" he whispered. "You are my only friend among a nation of
enemies. Will you stand by me?"

"To the death," replied Kar Komak.

The two approached the drop. A slave operated it.

"Where are your passes?" he asked.

Carthoris fumbled in his pocket pouch as though in search of them,
at the same time entering the cage. Kar Komak followed him, closing
the door. The slave did not start the cage downward. Every second
counted. They must reach the lower level as soon as possible after
Astok and Vas Kor if they would know whither the two went.

Carthoris turned suddenly upon the slave, hurling him to the opposite
side of the cage.

"Bind and gag him, Kar Komak!" he cried.

Then he grasped the control lever, and as the cage

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