The Gods of Mars HTML version

Chapter 4. Thuvia
It was the sound of conflict that aroused me once more to the realities of life. For a
moment I could neither place my surroundings nor locate the sounds which had aroused
me. And then from beyond the blank wall beside which I lay I heard the shuffling of feet,
the snarling of grim beasts, the clank of metal accoutrements, and the heavy breathing of
a man.
As I rose to my feet I glanced hurriedly about the chamber in which I had just
encountered such a warm reception. The prisoners and the savage brutes rested in their
chains by the opposite wall eyeing me with varying expressions of curiosity, sullen rage,
surprise, and hope.
The latter emotion seemed plainly evident upon the handsome and intelligent face of the
young red Martian woman whose cry of warning had been instrumental in saving my life.
She was the perfect type of that remarkably beautiful race whose outward appearance is
identical with the more god-like races of Earth men, except that this higher race of
Martians is of a light reddish copper colour. As she was entirely unadorned I could not
even guess her station in life, though it was evident that she was either a prisoner or slave
in her present environment.
It was several seconds before the sounds upon the opposite side of the partition jolted my
slowly returning faculties into a realization of their probable import, and then of a sudden
I grasped the fact that they were caused by Tars Tarkas in what was evidently a desperate
struggle with wild beasts or savage men.
With a cry of encouragement I threw my weight against the secret door, but as well have
assayed the down-hurling of the cliffs themselves. Then I sought feverishly for the secret
of the revolving panel, but my search was fruitless, and I was about to raise my
longsword against the sullen gold when the young woman prisoner called out to me.
"Save thy sword, O Mighty Warrior, for thou shalt need it more where it will avail to
some purpose--shatter it not against senseless metal which yields better to the lightest
finger touch of one who knows its secret."
"Know you the secret of it then?" I asked.
"Yes; release me and I will give you entrance to the other horror chamber, if you wish.
The keys to my fetters are upon the first dead of thy foemen. But why would you return
to face again the fierce banth, or whatever other form of destruction they have loosed
within that awful trap?"
"Because my friend fights there alone," I answered, as I hastily sought and found the keys
upon the carcass of the dead custodian of this grim chamber of horrors.