Thuvia, Maid of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 98

Carthoris, Prince of Helium!" came in low tones
from the doorway.

Vas Kor turned to see the panthan he had recruited at his son's
house leaping across the floor toward him. The fellow brushed past
Astok with an: "After him, you--calot!"

Vas Kor wheeled to meet the charging man.

"What means this treason?" he cried.

Astok, with bared sword, leaped to Vas Kor's assistance. The
panthan's sword clashed against that of the noble, and in the first
encounter Vas Kor knew that he faced a master swordsman.

Before he half realized the stranger's purpose he found the man
between himself and Thuvia of Ptarth, at bay facing the two swords of
the Dusarians. But he fought not like a man at bay. Ever was he
the aggressor, and though always he kept his flashing blade between
the girl and her enemies, yet he managed to force them hither and
thither about the room, calling to the girl to follow close behind
him.

Until it was too late neither Vas Kor nor Astok dreamed of that
which lay in the panthan's mind; but at last as the fellow stood
with his back toward the door, both understood--they were penned in
their own prison, and now the intruder could slay them at his will,
for Thuvia of Ptarth was bolting the door at the man's direction,
first taking the key from the opposite side, where Astok had left
it when they had entered.

Astok, as was his way, finding that the enemy did not fall immediately
before their swords, was leaving the brunt of the fighting to
Vas Kor, and now as his eyes appraised the panthan carefully they
presently went wider and wider, for slowly he had come to recognize
the features of the Prince of Helium.

The Heliumite was pressing close upon Vas Kor. The noble was
bleeding from a dozen wounds. Astok saw that he could not for long
withstand the cunning craft of that terrible sword hand.

"Courage, Vas Kor!" he whispered in the other's ear. "I have a
plan. Hold him but a moment longer and all will be well," but the
balance of the sentence, "with Astok, Prince of Dusar," he did not
voice aloud.

Vas Kor, dreaming no treachery, nodded his head, and for a moment
succeeded in holding Carthoris at bay. Then the Heliumite and the
girl saw the Dusarian prince run swiftly to the opposite side of
the chamber, touch something in the wall that sent a great panel
swinging inward, and disappear into the black vault beyond.

It was done so quickly that by

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