Warlord of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 104

battle with the Okarian guard, and I
warrant that that ancient watchtower never looked down upon a more
hotly contested battle than took place that day within its own grim
walls.

The first inrushing wave of yellow warriors recoiled from the
slashing blades of ten of Helium's veteran fighting men. A dozen
Okarian corpses blocked the doorway, but over the gruesome barrier
a score more of their fellows dashed, shouting their hoarse and
hideous war-cry.

Upon the bloody mound we met them, hand to hand, stabbing where
the quarters were too close to cut, thrusting when we could push
a foeman to arm's length; and mingled with the wild cry of the
Okarian there rose and fell the glorious words: "For Helium! For
Helium!" that for countless ages have spurred on the bravest of the
brave to those deeds of valor that have sent the fame of Helium's
heroes broadcast throughout the length and breadth of a world.

Now were the fetters struck from the last of the red men, and
thirteen strong we met each new charge of the soldiers of Salensus
Oll. Scarce one of us but bled from a score of wounds, yet none
had fallen.

From without we saw hundreds of guardsmen pouring into the courtyard,
and along the lower corridor from which I had found my way to the
armory we could hear the clank of metal and the shouting of men.

In a moment we should be attacked from two sides, and with all
our prowess we could not hope to withstand the unequal odds which
would thus divide our attention and our small numbers.

"To the upper chambers!" cried Tardos Mors, and a moment later we
fell back toward the runway that led to the floors above.

Here another bloody battle was waged with the force of yellow men
who charged into the armory as we fell back from the doorway. Here
we lost our first man, a noble fellow whom we could ill spare; but
at length all had backed into the runway except myself, who remained
to hold back the Okarians until the others were safe above.

In the mouth of the narrow spiral but a single warrior could attack
me at a time, so that I had little difficulty in holding them all
back for the brief moment that was necessary. Then, backing slowly
before them, I commenced the ascent of the spiral.

All the long way to the tower's top the guardsmen pressed me closely.
When one went down before my sword another scrambled over the dead
man to take his place;

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