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A Princess of Mars

My introduction to these cruel and bloodthirsty people was but an index to the scenes I
witnessed almost daily while with them. They are a smaller horde than the Tharks but
much more ferocious. Not a day passed but that some members of the various Warhoon
communities met in deadly combat. I have seen as high as eight mortal duels within a
single day.
We reached the city of Warhoon after some three days march and I was immediately cast
into a dungeon and heavily chained to the floor and walls. Food was brought me at
intervals but owing to the utter darkness of the place I do not know whether I lay there
days, or weeks, or months. It was the most horrible experience of all my life and that my
mind did not give way to the terrors of that inky blackness has been a wonder to me ever
since. The place was filled with creeping, crawling things; cold, sinuous bodies passed
over me when I lay down, and in the darkness I occasionally caught glimpses of
gleaming, fiery eyes, fixed in horrible intentness upon me. No sound reached me from the
world above and no word would my jailer vouchsafe when my food was brought to me,
although I at first bombarded him with questions.
Finally all the hatred and maniacal loathing for these awful creatures who had placed me
in this horrible place was centered by my tottering reason upon this single emissary who
represented to me the entire horde of Warhoons.
I had noticed that he always advanced with his dim torch to where he could place the
food within my reach and as he stooped to place it upon the floor his head was about on a
level with my breast. So, with the cunning of a madman, I backed into the far corner of
my cell when next I heard him approaching and gathering a little slack of the great chain
which held me in my hand I waited his coming, crouching like some beast of prey. As he
stooped to place my food upon the ground I swung the chain above my head and crashed
the links with all my strength upon his skull. Without a sound he slipped to the floor,
stone dead.
Laughing and chattering like the idiot I was fast becoming I fell upon his prostrate form
my fingers feeling for his dead throat. Presently they came in contact with a small chain
at the end of which dangled a number of keys. The touch of my fingers on these keys
brought back my reason with the suddenness of thought. No longer was I a jibbering
idiot, but a sane, reasoning man with the means of escape within my very hands.
As I was groping to remove the chain from about my victim's neck I glanced up into the
darkness to see six pairs of gleaming eyes fixed, unwinking, upon me. Slowly they
approached and slowly I shrank back from the awful horror of them. Back into my corner
I crouched holding my hands palms out, before me, and stealthily on came the awful eyes
until they reached the dead body at my feet. Then slowly they retreated but this time with
a strange grating sound and finally they disappeared in some black and distant recess of
my dungeon.
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