A Princess of Mars HTML version
Thirty days after the capture of Dejah Thoris, or about the time of our coming to Thark,
his vessel had reached Helium with about ten survivors of the original crew of seven
hundred officers and men. Immediately seven great fleets, each of one hundred mighty
war ships, had been dispatched to search for Dejah Thoris, and from these vessels two
thousand smaller craft had been kept out continuously in futile search for the missing
Two green Martian communities had been wiped off the face of Barsoom by the
avenging fleets, but no trace of Dejah Thoris had been found. They had been searching
among the northern hordes, and only within the past few days had they extended their
quest to the south.
Kantos Kan had been detailed to one of the small one-man fliers and had had the
misfortune to be discovered by the Warhoons while exploring their city. The bravery and
daring of the man won my greatest respect and admiration. Alone he had landed at the
city's boundary and on foot had penetrated to the buildings surrounding the plaza. For
two days and nights he had explored their quarters and their dungeons in search of his
beloved princess only to fall into the hands of a party of Warhoons as he was about to
leave, after assuring himself that Dejah Thoris was not a captive there.
During the period of our incarceration Kantos Kan and I became well acquainted, and
formed a warm personal friendship. A few days only elapsed, however, before we were
dragged forth from our dungeon for the great games. We were conducted early one
morning to an enormous amphitheater, which instead of having been built upon the
surface of the ground was excavated below the surface. It had partially filled with debris
so that how large it had originally been was difficult to say. In its present condition it held
the entire twenty thousand Warhoons of the assembled hordes.
The arena was immense but extremely uneven and unkempt. Around it the Warhoons had
piled building stone from some of the ruined edifices of the ancient city to prevent the
animals and the captives from escaping into the audience, and at each end had been
constructed cages to hold them until their turns came to meet some horrible death upon
Kantos Kan and I were confined together in one of the cages. In the others were wild
calots, thoats, mad zitidars, green warriors, and women of other hordes, and many strange
and ferocious wild beasts of Barsoom which I had never before seen. The din of their
roaring, growling and squealing was deafening and the formidable appearance of any one
of them was enough to make the stoutest heart feel grave forebodings.
Kantos Kan explained to me that at the end of the day one of these prisoners would gain
freedom and the others would lie dead about the arena. The winners in the various
contests of the day would be pitted against each other until only two remained alive; the
victor in the last encounter being set free, whether animal or man. The following morning
the cages would be filled with a new consignment of victims, and so on throughout the
ten days of the games.