The Chessmen of Mars HTML version

Chapter 14. At Ghek's Command
TURAN the panthan chafed in his chains. Time dragged; silence and monotony
prolonged minutes into hours. Uncertainty of the fate of the woman he loved turned each
hour into an eternity of hell. He listened impatiently for the sound of approaching
footsteps that he might see and speak to some living creature and learn, perchance, some
word of Tara of Helium. After torturing hours his ears were rewarded by the rattle of
harness and arms. Men were coming! He waited breathlessly. Perhaps they were his
executioners; but he would welcome them notwithstanding. He would question them. But
if they knew naught of Tara he would not divulge the location of the hiding place in
which he had left her.
Now they came--a half-dozen warriors and an officer, escorting an unarmed man; a
prisoner, doubtless. Of this Turan was not left long in doubt, since they brought the
newcomer and chained him to an adjoining ring. Immediately the panthan commenced to
question the officer in charge of the guard.
"Tell me," he demanded, "why I have been made prisoner, and if other strangers were
captured since I entered your city."
"What other prisoners?" asked the officer.
"A woman, and a man with a strange head," replied Turan.
"It is possible," said the officer; "but what were their names?"
"The woman was Tara, Princess of Helium, and the man was Ghek, a kaldane, of
"These were your friends?" asked the officer.
"Yes," replied Turan.
"It is what I would know," said the officer, and with a curt command to his men to follow
him he turned and left the cell.
"Tell me of them!" cried Turan after him. "Tell me of Tara of Helium! Is she safe?" but
the man did not answer and soon the sound of their departure died in the distance.
"Tara of Helium was safe, but a short time since," said the prisoner chained at Turan's
The panthan turned toward the speaker, seeing a large man, handsome of face and with a
manner both stately and dignified. "You have seen her?" he asked. "They captured her
then? She is in danger?"