Warlord of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 108

as it may, I have often won success while the thinker
would have been still at the endless task of comparing various
judgments.

And now celerity of action was the prime essential to the success
of the thing that I had decided upon.

Grasping my sword more firmly in my hand, I called to the red man
at the opening to the runway to stand aside.

"Way for the Prince of Helium!" I shouted; and before the astonished
yellow man whose misfortune it was to be at the fighting end of
the line at that particular moment could gather his wits together
my sword had decapitated him, and I was rushing like a mad bull
down upon those behind him.

"Way for the Prince of Helium!" I shouted as I cut a path through
the astonished guardsmen of Salensus Oll.

Hewing to right and left, I beat my way down that warrior-choked
spiral until, near the bottom, those below, thinking that an army
was descending upon them, turned and fled.

The armory at the first floor was vacant when I entered it, the
last of the Okarians having fled into the courtyard, so none saw
me continue down the spiral toward the corridor beneath.

Here I ran as rapidly as my legs would carry me toward the five
corners, and there plunged into the passageway that led to the
station of the old miser.

Without the formality of a knock, I burst into the room. There sat
the old man at his table; but as he saw me he sprang to his feet,
drawing his sword.

With scarce more than a glance toward him I leaped for the great
switch; but, quick as I was, that wiry old fellow was there before
me.

How he did it I shall never know, nor does it seem credible that
any Martian-born creature could approximate the marvelous speed of
my earthly muscles.

Like a tiger he turned upon me, and I was quick to see why Solan
had been chosen for this important duty.

Never in all my life have I seen such wondrous swordsmanship and
such uncanny agility as that ancient bag of bones displayed. He was
in forty places at the same time, and before I had half a chance
to awaken to my danger he was like to have made a monkey of me,
and a dead monkey at that.

It is strange how new and unexpected conditions bring out unguessed
ability to meet them.

That day in the buried chamber beneath the palace of Salensus Oll
I learned what swordsmanship meant, and to what heights of sword
mastery I could

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