Warlord of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 20

thus
adorned, was a lesser thern, though from his harness I gleaned that
he had reached the Ninth Cycle, which is but one below that of the
Holy Therns.

As I stood for a moment looking at the gruesome havoc Woola had
wrought, there recurred to me the memory of that other occasion
upon which I had masqueraded in the wig, diadem, and harness of
Sator Throg, the Holy Thern whom Thuvia of Ptarth had slain, and now
it occurred to me that it might prove of worth to utilize Lakor's
trappings for the same purpose.

A moment later I had torn his yellow wig from his bald pate and
transferred it and the circlet, as well as all his harness, to my
own person.

Woola did not approve of the metamorphosis. He sniffed at me and
growled ominously, but when I spoke to him and patted his huge head
he at length became reconciled to the change, and at my command
trotted off along the corridor in the direction we had been going
when our progress had been interrupted by the therns.

We moved cautiously now, warned by the fragment of conversation
I had overheard. I kept abreast of Woola that we might have the
benefit of all our eyes for what might appear suddenly ahead to
menace us, and well it was that we were forewarned.

At the bottom of a flight of narrow steps the corridor turned sharply
back upon itself, immediately making another turn in the original
direction, so that at that point it formed a perfect letter S,
the top leg of which debouched suddenly into a large chamber, illy
lighted, and the floor of which was completely covered by venomous
snakes and loathsome reptiles.

To have attempted to cross that floor would have been to court
instant death, and for a moment I was almost completely discouraged.
Then it occurred to me that Thurid and Matai Shang with their party
must have crossed it, and so there was a way.

Had it not been for the fortunate accident by which I overheard
even so small a portion of the therns' conversation we should
have blundered at least a step or two into that wriggling mass of
destruction, and a single step would have been all-sufficient to
have sealed our doom.

These were the only reptiles I had ever seen upon Barsoom, but I
knew from their similarity to the fossilized remains of supposedly
extinct species I had seen in the museums of Helium that they
comprised many of the known prehistoric reptilian genera, as well
as others undiscovered.

A more hideous aggregation of monsters

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