Warlord of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 120

both made a rush for the
boarding-ladder.

Thurid was the first to reach it, and with the agility of a monkey
clambered swiftly to the boat's deck, where a touch of the button
controlling the buoyancy tanks sent the craft slowly upward, though
not with the speed that marks the well-conditioned flier.

I was still some hundred yards away as I saw them rising from my
grasp.

Back by the city of Kadabra lay a great fleet of mighty fliers--the
ships of Helium and Ptarth that I had saved from destruction earlier
in the day; but before ever I could reach them Thurid could easily
make good his escape.

As I ran I saw Matai Shang clambering up the swaying, swinging
ladder toward the deck, while above him leaned the evil face of the
First Born. A trailing rope from the vessel's stern put new hope
in me, for if I could but reach it before it whipped too high above
my head there was yet a chance to gain the deck by its slender aid.

That there was something radically wrong with the flier was evident
from its lack of buoyancy, and the further fact that though Thurid
had turned twice to the starting lever the boat still hung motionless
in the air, except for a slight drifting with a low breeze from
the north.

Now Matai Shang was close to the gunwale. A long, claw-like hand
was reaching up to grasp the metal rail.

Thurid leaned farther down toward his co-conspirator.

Suddenly a raised dagger gleamed in the upflung hand of the black.
Down it drove toward the white face of the Father of Therns. With
a loud shriek of fear the Holy Hekkador grasped frantically at that
menacing arm.

I was almost to the trailing rope by now. The craft was still
rising slowly, the while it drifted from me. Then I stumbled on
the icy way, striking my head upon a rock as I fell sprawling but
an arm's length from the rope, the end of which was now just leaving
the ground.

With the blow upon my head came unconsciousness.

It could not have been more than a few seconds that I lay senseless
there upon the northern ice, while all that was dearest to me
drifted farther from my reach in the clutches of that black fiend,
for when I opened my eyes Thurid and Matai Shang yet battled at the
ladder's top, and the flier drifted but a hundred yards farther to
the south--but the end of the trailing rope was now a good thirty
feet above the ground.

Goaded

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