The Chessmen of Mars HTML version

Chapter 19. The Menace Of The Dead
THE night was still young when there came one to the entrance of the banquet hall where
O-Tar of Manator dined with his chiefs, and brushing past the guards entered the great
room with the insolence of a privileged character, as in truth he was. As he approached
the head of the long board O-Tar took notice of him.
"Well, hoary one!" he cried. "What brings you out of your beloved and stinking burrow
again this day. We thought that the sight of the multitude of living men at the games
would drive you back to your corpses as quickly as you could go."
The cackling laugh of I-Gos acknowledged the royal sally. "Ey, ey, O-Tar," squeaked the
ancient one, "I-Gos goes out not upon pleasure bound; but when one does ruthlessly
desecrate the dead of I-Gos, vengeance must be had!"
"You refer to the act of the slave Turan?" demanded O-Tar.
"Turan, yes, and the slave Tara, who slipped beneath my hide a murderous blade.
Another fraction of an inch, O-Tar, and I-Gos' ancient and wrinkled covering were even
now in some apprentice tanner's hands, ey, ey!"
"But they have again eluded us," cried O-Tar. "Even in the palace of the great jeddak
twice have they escaped the stupid knaves I call The Jeddak's Guard." O-Tar had risen
and was angrily emphasizing his words with heavy blows upon the table, dealt with a
golden goblet.
"Ey, O-Tar, they elude thy guard but not the wise old calot, I-Gos."
"What mean you? Speak!" commanded O-Tar.
"I know where they are hid," said the ancient taxidermist. "In the dust of unused corridors
their feet have betrayed them."
"You followed them? You have seen them?" demanded the jeddak.
"I followed them and I heard them speaking beyond a closed door," replied I-Gos; "but I
did not see them."
"Where is that door?" cried O-Tar. "We will send at once and fetch them," he looked
about the table as though to decide to whom he would entrust this duty. A dozen warrior
chiefs arose and laid their hands upon their swords.
"To the chambers of O-Mai the Cruel I traced them," squeaked I-Gos. "There you will
find them where the moaning Corphals pursue the shrieking ghost of O-Mai; ey!" and he