Warlord of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 16

strife. And so I gripped my long-sword the
tighter as I replied to Lakor.

"I believe that you will see the wisdom of permitting me to pass
unmolested," I said, "for it would avail you nothing to die uselessly
in the rocky bowels of Barsoom merely to protect a hereditary enemy,
such as Thurid, Dator of the First Born.

"That you shall die should you elect to oppose me is evidenced by
the moldering corpses of all the many great Barsoomian warriors
who have gone down beneath this blade--I am John Carter, Prince of
Helium."

For a moment that name seemed to paralyze the two men; but only
for a moment, and then the younger of them, with a vile name upon
his lips, rushed toward me with ready sword.

He had been standing a little behind his companion, Lakor, during
our parley, and now, ere he could engage me, the older man grasped
his harness and drew him back.

"Hold!" commanded Lakor. "There will be plenty of time to fight if
we find it wise to fight at all. There be good reasons why every
thern upon Barsoom should yearn to spill the blood of the blasphemer,
the sacrilegist; but let us mix wisdom with our righteous hate.
The Prince of Helium is bound upon an errand which we ourselves,
but a moment since, were wishing that we might undertake.

"Let him go then and slay the black. When he returns we shall still
be here to bar his way to the outer world, and thus we shall have
rid ourselves of two enemies, nor have incurred the displeasure of
the Father of Therns."

As he spoke I could not but note the crafty glint in his evil
eyes, and while I saw the apparent logic of his reasoning I felt,
subconsciously perhaps, that his words did but veil some sinister
intent. The other thern turned toward him in evident surprise, but
when Lakor had whispered a few brief words into his ear he, too,
drew back and nodded acquiescence to his superior's suggestion.

"Proceed, John Carter," said Lakor; "but know that if Thurid does
not lay you low there will be those awaiting your return who will
see that you never pass again into the sunlight of the upper world.
Go!"

During our conversation Woola had been growling and bristling
close to my side. Occasionally he would look up into my face with
a low, pleading whine, as though begging for the word that would
send him headlong at the bare throats before him. He, too, sensed
the villainy behind the

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