Warlord of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 65

have the dead of this fabled
land been carried to the Carrion Caves, that in death and decay they
might serve their country and warn away invading enemies. Here,
too, is brought, so the fable runs, all the waste stuff of the
nation--everything that is subject to rot, and that can add to the
foul stench that assails our nostrils.

"And death lurks at every step among rotting dead, for here the fierce
apts lair, adding to the putrid accumulation with the fragments of
their own prey which they cannot devour. It is a horrid avenue to
our goal, but it is the only one."

"You are sure, then, that we have found the way to the land of the
yellow men?" I cried.

"As sure as may be," he replied; "having only ancient legend to
support my belief. But see how closely, so far, each detail tallies
with the world-old story of the hegira of the yellow race. Yes,
I am sure that we have discovered the way to their ancient hiding
place."

"If it be true, and let us pray that such may be the case," I said,
"then here may we solve the mystery of the disappearance of Tardos
Mors, Jeddak of Helium, and Mors Kajak, his son, for no other spot
upon Barsoom has remained unexplored by the many expeditions and
the countless spies that have been searching for them for nearly
two years. The last word that came from them was that they sought
Carthoris, my own brave son, beyond the ice-barrier."

As we talked we had been approaching the entrance to the cave, and
as we crossed the threshold I ceased to wonder that the ancient
green enemies of the yellow men had been halted by the horrors of
that awful way.

The bones of dead men lay man high upon the broad floor of the first
cave, and over all was a putrid mush of decaying flesh, through
which the apts had beaten a hideous trail toward the entrance to
the second cave beyond.

The roof of this first apartment was low, like all that we traversed
subsequently, so that the foul odors were confined and condensed
to such an extent that they seemed to possess tangible substance.
One was almost tempted to draw his short-sword and hew his way
through in search of pure air beyond.

"Can man breathe this polluted air and live?" asked Thuvan Dihn,
choking.

"Not for long, I imagine," I replied; "so let us make haste. I
will go first, and you bring up the rear, with Woola between.
Come," and with the

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