Warlord of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 33

me for a moment while he thrust
at my unprotected breast.

When he thrust, however, I was not there, for I had fought with
therns before; and while none had ever resorted to precisely that
same expedient, I knew them to be the least honorable and most
treacherous fighters upon Mars, and so was ever on the alert for
some new and devilish subterfuge when I was engaged with one of
their race.

But at length he overdid the thing; for, drawing his shortsword,
he hurled it, javelinwise, at my body, at the same instant rushing
upon me with his long-sword. A single sweeping circle of my own
blade caught the flying weapon and hurled it clattering against
the far wall, and then, as I sidestepped my antagonist's impetuous
rush, I let him have my point full in the stomach as he hurtled
by.

Clear to the hilt my weapon passed through his body, and with a
frightful shriek he sank to the floor, dead.

Halting only for the brief instant that was required to wrench
my sword from the carcass of my late antagonist, I sprang across
the chamber to the blank wall beyond, through which the thern had
attempted to pass. Here I sought for the secret of its lock, but
all to no avail.

In despair I tried to force the thing, but the cold, unyielding
stone might well have laughed at my futile, puny endeavors. In fact,
I could have sworn that I caught the faint suggestion of taunting
laughter from beyond the baffling panel.

In disgust I desisted from my useless efforts and stepped to the
chamber's single window.

The slopes of Otz and the distant Valley of Lost Souls held nothing
to compel my interest then; but, towering far above me, the tower's
carved wall riveted my keenest attention.

Somewhere within that massive pile was Dejah Thoris. Above me I
could see windows. There, possibly, lay the only way by which I
could reach her. The risk was great, but not too great when the
fate of a world's most wondrous woman was at stake.

I glanced below. A hundred feet beneath lay jagged granite boulders
at the brink of a frightful chasm upon which the tower abutted; and
if not upon the boulders, then at the chasm's bottom, lay death,
should a foot slip but once, or clutching fingers loose their hold
for the fraction of an instant.

But there was no other way and with a shrug, which I must admit
was half shudder, I stepped to the window's outer sill and began
my perilous ascent.

To my

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