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Title:      The Outlaws of Mars
Author:     Otis Adelbert Kline
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Language:   English
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Title:      The Outlaws of Mars
Author:     Otis Adelbert Kline


AS THE powerful car plunged up the mountain road, Jerry Morgan wondered
what sort of reception awaited him at the end of this drive. Would the
mysterious, eccentric man who was his uncle, and who lived in this
mountain retreat which his nephew had never been permitted to visit,
turn him away now?

It was not until he had reached the highest limit of timber growth that
he came upon a log habitation built against the mountainside which rose
steeply behind it, rugged and bare of vegetation. He stopped the car in
front of the log porch, off the road enough to avoid blocking it. No one
was around; no one appeared as he slammed the car door shut, climbed the
steps and crossed the veranda. No one answered his knock; the door swung
open at the impact and Jerry entered.

He found himself in a large living room, finished and furnished in
pioneer style, the walls decorated with trophies. Despite the chill at
this altitude, there was only cold, gray ashes mingled with bits of
charcoal in the fireplace. Jerry had the feeling that the place had not
been lived in for some time.

Exploration confirmed his initial impression. Shelves in the kitchen
were empty save for a few dishes and utensils. There was no sign of
food, and a thin film of dust had settled over everything, even the

Puzzled, he returned to the living room and seated himself on a birch
settee before the cold fireplace. Obviously, though this was the nominal
residence of his uncle, Doctor Richard Morgan did not really live here.
Where, then, did he live? As far as Jerry had been able to see in every
direction there had been no sign of a building of any kind, save this

As he sat there, reflecting on these mysteries, he suddenly heard the
door open, and turning, saw his uncle.

Like his nephew, Richard Morgan was tall and powerfully built. The
remaining black among the silver hair and beard was as jet as Jerry's,
and though he did not look like a military man, his presence radiated
authority. His forehead was high and bulged outward over shaggy eyebrows
that met above his aquiline nose; and he wore a pointed, closely cropped

"Glad to see you, Jerry," boomed the doctor in his resonant bass voice.
"I've been expecting you."

Jerry Morgan stared in amazement as he took his uncle's proffered hand.
"Expecting me? Why, I told no one--intended to surprise you. It sounds
almost like thought-transference."

"Perhaps you are nearer the truth than you imagine," replied the doctor,
seating himself.

Jerry brushed this aside, mentally, as he groped for the proper words
with which to frame his next speech. "I'm afraid you're not going to
like what I have to tell you, Uncle Richard," he began. "The fact is,
I've disgraced . . .

"I, know all about it, Jerry," said the doctor gently, and then
proceeded to give a detailed account of the episode the young man had
been about to tell. He ended with: "You knew the colonel would never
believe a story about your being framed in a manner reminiscent of
nineteenth-century melodrama, so you had no choice but to resign. What
you didn't know was that it was not Lieutenant Tracy, your rival, who
arranged the affair but Elaine herself."

"Impossible, uncle. . .

"Think, Jerry. Had you told anyone--anyone but Elaine--that you were not
going directly back to your quarters as usual, but were stopping at the
drugstore in town first? Someone had to know you would be in town at a
certain time that night in order for the plan to succeed. It couldn't
have worked in any other place, although it could have happened at a
later time. And Lieutenant Tracy was in the field that night, and could
not have been privy to it. In fact, he knew nothing of it at all."

"Then I misjudged them both--Tracy and Elaine."

"Not too badly in Tracy's case, I should say. He just wouldn't have done
it that way though. He couldn't have been as sure of the colonel's
reaction as the colonel's daughter was, you see. Well, don't fret about
them, my lad. They're two of a kind and they richly deserve each other...And
now will you believe me if I tell you I know everything you've
done since? Good." He stood up. "You have guessed that I don't live
here--that this place is only a dummy habitation to keep the folk who
live hereabout from prying into my affairs. Follow me."

He led the way through the kitchen, and thence down a stairway into the
garage. At the back was a tier of shelving. The doctor reached behind a
shelf and pulled. Instantly, the whole tier swung back from the wall,
revealing a dark passageway, hewn from the rock, leading into the

"Enter," said the doctor.

At the end of the tunnel they came to a sliding door, which the doctor
pushed back. Behind it was an automatic elevator. They entered; Morgan
touched a button and they rose noiselessly. At the end of the ascent,
they stepped out into a large, airy hallway, into which filtered
sunlight streamed through irregularly shaped skylights of frosted glass.

"Seen from the outside, those skylights simulate the drifts and ridges
of snow which surround us," said Morgan. "We are now at the peak of the
mountain, and this building is so constructed that, viewed from near or
far, it appears to be a part of it."

"Amazing!" exclaimed Jerry. "I pictured you in a little cabin, perhaps
with a small laboratory."

"I have other surprises for you," said the doctor. "In the meantime,
Boyd will show you to your room. He has already installed your luggage
and drawn your bath. I'm sure you will want to freshen up after your
journey. See you at breakfast."

"Before I tell you of my life's work," said Morgan, as they attacked the
viands before them, "let's talk about you. I know precisely how you
feel. You have lost your career and the woman you wanted, and you have
come to me for the rest of your patrimony, with which you expect to
embark on a certain desperate adventure. The odds are a thousand to one
against your coming out alive, but this means little to you the way you
feel now."

He proceeded to relate full details of Jerry Morgan's plans.

"You seem to read my innermost thoughts, uncle, as if they were a
printed page spread before you. I can't imagine how you know all this,
but you are right."

Morgan sighed. "If you are determined to go on with this, I'll do all in
my power to help you. Yet it is my hope that I may be able to offer you
a new interest in life--new adventures that will serve a most excellent
purpose, and beside which the one you have planned will pale to

"You have said, half in jest, that I appear to read your mind. I do; I
have always read your mind, since the death of, your parents put you
under my guardianship--which took place after I had perfected my
experiments with telepathy. Telepathy, one of the most remarkable powers
of the objective mind, is not affected by time or distance. It acts
instantly, once contact has been established.

"I started out trying to build a device which would pick up and amplify
thought waves. This led to contact with a man on Mars who was
experimenting in transmitting thought waves--but not the Mars of today,"
he added, seeing the expression on Jerry's face. "Lal Vak, the Martian,
spoke and still speaks to me from the Mars some millions of years ago,
when a human civilization did exist there. We found that personalities
could be exchanged between certain Martians and Earthmen who were nearly
doubles physically, and whose brain patterns were similar. Since that
time, we established contact with a Venusian, Vorn Vangal who is
contemporary with Lal Vak. I am presently in contact with both of these
men who, to our niche in space-time have been dead for millions of
years. I was able to send two Earthmen to Mars and two to Venus, through
personality exchange. The two men on Venus are still alive, and in
communication with me. Of the two I sent to Mars, only one remains; the
other, who was a criminal, was slain by his fellow-Earthman. This leaves
me with only one representative on Mars."

Had it not been for the demonstration he had already received in
relation to Morgan's intimate knowledge of his own affairs, Jerry Morgan
would have been far from credulous. Under the shock of what he had
learned, it seemed somehow believable. "It sounds interesting," he said,
trying not to be carried away. "How about sending my personality to

"Lal Vak, Vorn Vangal, and I have worked out improvements," Morgan said.
"I am now prepared to send you on a journey through time and space in
the flesh."

"Then you must have some sort of space-time vehicle."

"Follow me, and I will show you," replied the doctor, rising.


IN THE center of the high, dome-roofed shed stood a huge globe, more
than fifty feet in diameter. It was covered with thick asbestos, held in
place by a meshwork of steel cables. A circular metal plate, studded
with bolts, and apparently the lid of a doorway or manhole, was on the
side facing them.

"I am indebted to the people of Olba, a nation on Venus, for the
mechanism which makes this space-time vehicle possible," said the
doctor. "I do not pretend to understand it myself, and can only tell you
that it has made several trips successfully--though without any human
cargo. The power which propels it either comes from or is tapped by the
human brain, and what you may have heard of as telekinesis is as good an
explanation as any. I already have contact with the mechanism. Now watch
the metal plate and see what happens."

Jerry watched, then uttered an exclamation as it began to turn swiftly,
projecting farther and farther from the surface of the sphere with each
turn. It was threaded, and when it unscrewed itself for a distance of
about five feet, it suddenly fell forward with a loud click, and hung
suspended by a heavy metal hinge, revealing a dark hole in the sphere.
Then a ladder of flexible steel cable uncoiled itself from the dark
depths, and dropped to the ground.

Jerry sprang up the ladder and crawled into the hole. After following a
narrow passageway for about twenty feet he came to a small circular room
about ten feet in diameter. The walls, floor, and ceiling of the room
were thickly padded and suffused with soft light. He turned as a shadow
blocked the light from the tube.

"How do you like it?" asked Morgan.

"Fine," replied Jerry. "Why not let me start now?"

"I had that thought in mind when I brought you here. However, landing on
Mars will have difficulties because of the rarer atmosphere--not as rare
as the Mars of today, but noticeably more so than what you're accustomed
to. Because of this, and the lesser gravity, your heart and lungs will
have to make readjustments, and it will take time to become acclimated.
Go slowly, when you leave the sphere."

"How long will it take to get there?"

"I cannot calculate precisely, but it will not take long."

"And do you know on what part of the planet I will alight?"

Morgan nodded. "While you were crossing the United States by train, Lal
Vak was traveling from his home in the city of Dukor, to Raliad, largest
city of Mars. He is now housed in the imperial palace of Raliad, and is
in contact with meso the globe, directed by our minds, will travel
straight to the palace. When you arrive, he will be there to greet you,
and to teach you the language of Mars. After that, you will have to
shift for yourself."

"Fair enough. But what do you want me to do on Mars? I gather that I can
be of help to science, or something of the sort."

"If you succeed in living on Mars, you will be the first Earthman to do
so in the flesh. After that, my thought recorder will be in contact with
you, day and night, making a record of what you see and do. Alighting in
Raliad, greatest city of Mars, you will communicate much valuable
knowledge regarding this mighty city. From the moment you land, you will
be an explorer, automatically relating your adventures to us here."

The doctor raised the lid of a case which Jerry had previously noticed,
fastened against the wall. It contained a repeating rifle, a Colt
forty-five in a shoulder holster, a hunting knife, a camp axe, a
canteen, and a number of boxes of ammunition and provisions.

"For emergency," said the doctor, "just in case you should happen not to
alight at the imperial palace in Raliad." He closed the lid and secured
it. "Now let me strap you to the center of the floor, and you will be
ready to start."

A few minutes later, warm farewells had been made, the doctor departed,
and the outer door screwed into place.

The globe lurched unsteadily for a moment, then Jerry found himself
forced suddenly against the floor as it shot swiftly upward. Gradually
the intense pressure against his body grew less and was followed by a
feeling of lightness. This feeling lasted for only a few moments; then
he felt himself growing heavier, but the sensation was most peculiar.
For instead of pressing against the floor, his body was now pulling away
from it--tugging against the straps as if in an effort to rise toward the

The strange pressure of the straps gradually lessened. Then he felt a
slight jolt, and the floor began wobbling unsteadily beneath him.
Evidently the globe had landed--but on what?

Hastily unfastening his straps, he got to his feet, but the effort shot
him up against the ceiling of the cubicle. When he stood on the swaying
floor again he saw that the door was unscrewing itself. A moment later
it dropped down from the opening, and bright daylight came in through
the hole.

His first look outside convinced him that he had really landed on Mars.
The sun, though it appeared much smaller than when viewed from Earth,
blazed brightly with a peculiar, blue-white light. It hung just above a
horizon of weird and grotesque plant growths. Looking downward, Jerry
saw that the globe had alighted on the shallow, sandy margin of a small
lagoon, and its rocking was occasioned by the wash of waves driven by a
stiff breeze.

His heart pounded wildly as he gazed about him at this strange
landscape, and a giddiness assailed him. Believing this to be due to the
lessened gravity of the planet on which the globe now rested, he waited
for his circulatory system to adjust itself. Slowly, cautiously, he
inhaled the air. It was cool and sweet, but somehow it did not satisfy
him. He filled his lungs to capacity, again and again, but his heart
resumed its wild pounding; there was a feeling of pressure in his
eardrums. A gray haze obscured his vision, he fought against it, but to
no avail.

He fell back, gasping for breath, then all went black.


JERRY'S senses returned slowly.

His lungs ached from their unwonted exertions, his throat was dry and
parched, and his heart was drumming in his ears.

Slowly, cautiously, he sat up. His fingernails, he saw, were still quite
blue, evidence that he had escaped suffocation by a very narrow margin.
The sun had risen at least twenty degrees, proving that he had been
unconscious for more than an hour.

For some time he sat there, inhaling the cool, sweet air; then he got up
cautiously, and went back into the cubicle. Here he opened the case
which contained his weapons, equipment, ammunition and provisions. He
loaded the rifle and pistol, and filled his pockets with ammunition for
both weapons. The balance of the ammunition and provisions he placed in
a heavy canvas bag provided for the purpose, and fitted with straps so
it could be slung over his back.

After strapping the pistol, camp axe, knife, and canteen in place, he
slung the pack over his back, took up the rifle, and creeping through
the narrow passageway, turned and descended the ladder. The shallow
water at its foot only came to his ankles, and he splashed up onto the
sandy beach.

As he stood there, scanning the strange trees and shrubbery before him,
he heard a sharp click. The ladder had been withdrawn into the globe,
and the door was screwing itself into place. A moment more and it was
tight; then the globe rose, water dripping from beneath it. It soon
became a tiny speck which rapidly faded from view.

Resolutely he turned away, and climbing the sloping beach, strode in
among the strange, treelike growths which fringed the shore. Now Jerry
felt an exhilarating sense of lightness and freedom of movement. The
weight of his supplies, equipment and weapons was but trifling; and it
seemed as if the metal parts of his rifle were made of aluminum rather
than steel.

As he passed through the first fringe of trees, Jerry found that he had
stepped into a cultivated garden, laid out with paths of resilient,
reddish-brown material as springy as rubber, which wound among beds of
bright, weird blooms of grotesque forms and patterns, clumps of
shrubbery, and shady groves of trees.

After walking for a distance of about a mile he reached the edge of the
garden, bounded by a wall about fifty feet in height, which stretched in
a gradual curve to the right and left, as far as he could see. It was
constructed from immense blocks of translucent, amber-colored material,
fitted together so cleverly that the seams were all but invisible. At
regular intervals, curving stairways led up to the top of the wall, and
he made his way to the nearest one.

A short climb brought him to the top of the wall, which was more than a
hundred feet thick. He walked across it and peered over the edge, then
drew back dizzily. He was looking down on the busy streets of an immense
city, so far below him that the scurrying people and speeding vehicles
looked like tiny insects. The wall on which he stood edged the roof of
what was the largest building in sight, and the roof itself was covered
by the garden through which he had just come. As far as he could see,
there were other buildings formed from translucent blocks of various
colors, taller by far than the mightiest skyscrapers on Earth, and all
topped by roof gardens.

From his point of vantage, Jerry now surveyed the garden through which
he had just passed. He saw many scattered individuals at work, caring
for the plants and harvesting the fruits-muscular, nut-brown men who
were naked save for turbanlike headpieces, leather breechclouts, and
high boots with the tops rolled down below the knees.

Except for their strange apparel and the fact that their chests were, on
an average, larger than those of Earthmen, they did not show any marked
difference from terrestrial peoples. He descended to the garden once
more and walked in the direction where he had last seen the nearest

He had not gone far when he found himself face-to-face with a girl. She
was slight, slender and white-skinned, with large brown eyes,
raven-black hair, and an ethereal beauty of face and form. A fillet of
woven gold links set with polished bits of lapis lazuli bound her glossy
hair. A band of the same materials supported her small breast shields of
beaten gold. And from a belt of gold links powdered with amethysts,
depended a tight cincture of shimmering peacock blue fabric with a
texture like that of satin.

Though Jerry was merely startled at this sudden meeting, he saw by the
look in her eyes that the girl was frightened. She half turned as if
about to flee but evidently reconsidered, and once more faced him

Resolving to try to calm her fears, he said, "Good morning."

Then he smiled, and started what was meant to be a step in her
direction. But the result, instead of a mere forward step, was something
in the nature of a leap which landed him not two feet in front of her.

The effect of this performance on the girl was instantaneous. Before he
had recovered his equilibrium, she screamed and shrank back.

Scarcely had he regained his balance, when Jerry's attention was
attracted by a new sound--a terrific roar which came from a huge beast
that was bounding toward them along the path. With a yawning,
tooth-filled mouth as large as that of an alligator, a furry black body
fully as big as that of a lion, short legs, and a hairless, leathery
tail, paddle-shaped and edged with sharp spines, the oncoming monster
certainly looked formidable.

Jerry thought and acted swiftly. His first duty was to get the girl out
of the path of the charging monster.

Gripping his rifle in his left hand, he bent and encircled her slender
waist with his right arm. Then he leaped to one side, just in time to
avoid those gaping jaws. But the spring he male carried him clear over
the hedge, and into a carefully-tended bed of tiny flowering plants.

For the first time since he had landed on Mars, he realized the
tremendous advantage of his Earth-trained muscles. The short-legged
beast, unable to leap over the hedge, was crashing through it. So he
turned, and still carrying the girl beneath his arm, bounded away with
tremendous leaps.

The slender form of the girl was feather-light, and impeded him scarcely
at all. On Earth she would have weighed about ninety pounds; on Mars she
weighed about thirty-four.

Glancing back over his shoulder, he saw that although he had a good
start on the beast, it was following him with a speed that was amazing
in a creature with such short legs. Soon the stairway loomed before him,
and he bounded up it, five steps at a time. As soon as he reached the
top of the wall he put the girl down and turned to face their pursuer,
which had meantime reached the steps.

Snapping his gun to his shoulder, he took careful aim between the
blazing green eyes, and fired. Without a sound or a quiver, the beast
sank down on the steps.

At the sound of the shot the girl had sprung erect. For a moment she
peered down at the fallen beast. Then, her eyes flashing like those of
an enraged tigress, she turned on Jerry with a volley of words that were
unmistakably scornful and scathing.

Suddenly her hand flashed to her belt and came up with a jewel-hilted
dagger. Jerry noticed that the blade was straight and double-edged, with
tiny, razor-sharp teeth. For a moment he did not realize what she
intended doing; but when she raised her weapon aloft and lunged
straight for his breast, he caught her wrist just in time.

As he stood there holding her wrist to keep her from reaching him with
that murderous blade, he became aware that men were coming through the
garden, converging on them from all directions and scrambling up the
stairways. These brown-skinned men, whom he had previously seen working
as gardeners, were all armed with saw-edged, straight-bladed swords and
daggers, and heavy maces with disk-shaped heads.

There was no chance to escape, so he stood his ground, still clutching
the struggling girl's slim wrist with one hand, and leaning on his rifle
with the other.

Suddenly the girl wrenched her wrist from his grasp, and sprang nimbly
away from him. And in a moment he was surrounded by a circle of
menacing, saw-edged sword blades.


As HE stood there, ringed by hostile swordsmen, Jerry thought rapidly.
Obviously, the brown men understood that his rifle was a dangerous
weapon, for they were approaching him cautiously. Accordingly, he bent
and laid it at his feet. Then he unstrapped his other weapons piled them
on top of it, and raised his hands above his head in token of surrender.

Instantly two men leaped in and took possession of the weapons. A third
cast a loop of tough, flexible leather around his wrists and drew it

The girl spoke to one of the men, evidently an officer, who saluted her
by holding both hands before his eyes, and issued a sharp command to the
others. Then she turned and descended the steps to where the dead beast
lay. As his captors dragged him after her, Jerry was surprised to see
her stoop and throw her arms around the great shaggy neck. When she
arose, tears were trickling down her cheeks.

She led the way through the garden. Behind her, walking at a respectful
distance, was the officer; following him was the man who held the thong
which bound Jerry's arms. On each side of the Earthman strode a brown
warrior, sword in hand, and behind him walked two more, bearing his arms
and equipment. The others dispersed.

They followed a path of the resilient brown paving material which
presently led to the mouth of a tunnel which yawned from one side of a
tree-covered mound. At either side of the tunnel mouth stood a
white-skinned guard, who in addition to sword, dagger and mace, was
armed with a sheaf of wicked-looking multibarbed javelins.

At sight of the girl, these guards saluted respectfully. Then one
hurried into the tunnel and emerged a moment later, followed by a
vehicle which made Jerry gasp in astonishment. It moved smoothly and
silently on six pairs of jointed metal legs shod with balls of resilient
reddish-brown material like that used in paving. In lieu of seats, it
supported twelve saddles, set three in a row. And in the foremost row,
at the extreme right, sat the driver, who manipulated the multiped
conveyance by means of two vertical levers, on either side of his

The girl climbed into a saddle beside the driver, and Jerry was placed
in the central saddle of the next row, a guard on each side of him. The
man who held the thong that bound his wrists, and the two who bore his
equipment, seated themselves in the next row. The vehicle started as the
driver pushed the two levers forward.

The tunnel which they entered led downward in a steep spiral. It was
lighted by small globes filled with a thick, luminous liquid which he
later learned was derived from a radioactive substance called baridium.
They were suspended on short chains from the ceiling, and shed a mellow,
amber light. Swiftly they sped down that spiral ramp, and Jerry caught
flashes of small level platforms at regular intervals, leading to arched
doorways. Presently, the vehicle slowed down and came to a sliding stop
before one of them.

The girl sprang out onto the platform, and Jerry was dragged after her
by his captors. She led the way to a tremendous arched door before which
stood a score of armed and uniformed guards. These guards were white.
They saluted respectfully, and parted their ranks to let the party pass.

The splendor of the room they now entered left Jerry spellbound with
awe. It was a tremendous circular audience chamber, at least a thousand
feet in diameter, and as high as it was wide. Its ceiling of burnished
gold was supported by huge pillars, fifty feet in diameter, each
seemingly cut from a single piece of pale blue crystal.

The floor was of hexagonal, orange colored crystal blocks, between the
interstices of which molten silver had been poured, and the whole
polished to a mirrorlike luster. Suspended from the ceiling on thick
golden chains, and hanging about two hundred feet above the floor, were
huge light globes, twenty feet in diameter, filled with the luminous
liquid he had previously observed.

At spaced intervals around the circular wall, uniformed guards stood,
leaning on their tall spears.

In the center of the room, toward which they were walking, stood a
circular dais, consisting of three disks placed concentrically one above
the other. The top disk was of blue crystal, the middle one of orange
crystal, and the bottom one of black.

Suspended above the center of the highest disk, on four thick golden
cables, was a massive golden throne, upholstered in blue. And on this
throne, Jerry saw a big man, with handsome, regal features that were as
expressionless as stone. His thick, iron-gray beard had been braided
into five long plaits which hung down to his wide golden belt, in which
a thousand jewels sparkled. His arms and torso were bare, save for his
jeweled golden armlets and wrist guards, and a gem-encrusted medallion
which hung on his chest. A close-fitting casque of burnished gold was on
his head, and a single huge gem blazed above his forehead with a
blue-white light.

Two young white men wearing blue, one a blond and the other a brunet,
stood on the top disk at either side of the throne. Below these, on the
orange disk, stood a tall, broad-shouldered fellow with nut-brown skin,
his clothing orange trimmed with blue, and a girl slightly lighter
colored, who likewise wore orange and blue. Jerry saw that she was
slight, slender and beautiful.

On the lowest disk were a score of white-skinned men and women who wore
orange trimmed in black. And surrounding the disks were at least a
thousand more who exhibited a variety of colors, though the majority of
them wore black. But every one, other than the warriors from the garden
who had captured the Earthman, and the man and girl who stood on the
middle disk, was white-skinned.

Those who stood around the throne stepped aside and saluted respectfully
as the girl came up with the guards and prisoner. But she ran swiftly up
the steps and threw her arms about the monarch's neck, tears streaming
from her eyes.

The big man picked her up as easily as if she had been a doll, and
seated her on the wide throne beside him. For some time they conversed.
From time to time she looked at Jerry as she talked, and he knew the
conversation related to him.

Presently, in the midst of her story, the girl stepped down from the
throne and took Jerry's rifle from one of the brown guards. She brought
it to her shoulder, exactly as he had done, and he was alarmed to see
her finger on the trigger.

"Wait!" he cried, and sprang forward, to snatch the rifle away from her.
But at the moment the weapon went off. The girl was hurled backward by
the unexpected recoil of the heavy rifle, and fell to the floor. The
bullet struck one of the crystal pillars.

Instantly, pandemonium reigned. The girl was picked up by the monarch,
who hastily sprang down from his throne as she fell. Then, still holding
her feather weight in his arms, he issued a sharp command.

Jerry was astounded to see a circular section of the floor rising before
the throne, supported by three stout pillars. When it had risen to a
height of about twenty feet, another floor was disclosed beneath it. As
this one came to rest, three huge black men stepped from it, carrying a
large circular rug made from the resilient reddish-brown material. They
spread this on the floor.

Then two of them seized Jerry and dragged him to the center of the rug,
where they forced him to his knees. The third, who carried an enormous,
two-edged sword in a sheath strapped to his back, drew the weapon and
looked inquiringly at the monarch. The latter nodded.


HALF-STUNNED, Jerry waited for the executioner's keen blade to descend.
But at that instant the blond, blue-clad youth who had stood beside the
throne rushed up, sword in hand and struck aside the blade of the

A moment later, another man came running up--a white-haired man who wore
orange and black; and on his beardless countenance was a look of calm
benignity. He smiled encouragingly at Jerry, then turned and addressed
the poker-faced monarch. The latter issued an order to the two black
giants at the Earthman's sides, whereupon they permitted him to arise.

In the meantime the girl in the monarch's arms revived, and he put her
on the floor, where she joined in the discussion. Jerry noticed that
there was considerable wonder written on her face, as the white-haired
man talked to her and the ruler. Four others joined in the discussion
the two young men in blue who had stood at either side of the throne,
and the dark-skinned girl and man who had stood on the central dais.

Although he could not understand a word that was spoken, Jerry saw that
this latter personage was urging his execution. The girl, however,
evidently sided with the white-haired newcomer and the blond youth.

Presently, the ruler rumbled a curt order. The thongs were removed from
Jerry's wrists, and the white-haired man after saluting the ruler, took
the Earthman's arm and led him away.

"You are Dr. Morgan's nephew, are you not?" he asked in English.

"I am," gulped Jerry, "but how did you know? And who are you?"

"I am Lal Vak," was the reply. "I was unavoidably delayed. As I am a
stranger in Raliad, and there is a revolt in the provinces, I was
accused of being a spy. My arrest came this morning, and I had some
difficulty in clearing myself of the charge, despite my credentials from
the Vil of Xancibar. A stranger is usually accounted guilty until he is
proven innocent."

While they talked, they threaded numerous passageways, and Jerry noticed
that every one they met stared curiously at his army uniform.

Presently they came to a spiral runway, and Lal Vak, stepping out on the
signal platform, pulled a cord which unhooded a large light globe
overhead by drawing up the four quarters of its metal covering as the
petals of a flower open. A moment later one of the vehicles skidded to a
stop before the landing.

Then they climbed into the saddles, the scientist spoke a word to the
driver, and they shot swiftly upward. After passing eight platforms, the
vehicle came to a stop before the ninth, and they got out. Threading
another hallway, they came at length to a large door which an attendant,
on seeing Lal Vak, threw open for them.

They entered, and Jerry found himself in the central room of a large and
luxurious apartment, lighted by a single circular window that extended
from floor to ceiling, its crystal panes opening outward to admit the
afternoon breeze. The furniture, consisting of chairs, divans, and a
table, was legless, and suspended from the ceiling by flexible,
silk-covered cables.

"Let us sit on the balcony and talk," said Lal Vak.

Jerry stepped through the window and followed Lal Vak out onto the
balcony. He looked over the railing. Far below him was a broad street,
thronged with darting multiped vehicles and scurrying people. Other
balconies, he observed, jutted out above, below and around this one, and
from the buildings across the street.

Seating himself on the bench beside the scientist he mechanically took
out a cigarette and lit it. A look of astonishment crossed the features
of Lal Vak.

"What's wrong?" asked Jerry.

"For a moment I thought you were on fire," replied Lal Vak. "I remember
Dr. Morgan's telling me about this curious custom of Earth-people, but
it startled me. Tell me, why do you do it?"

"Just a habit, I guess. But a habit I won't have very long," said Jerry,
looking at his half-empty cigarette case, "as I don't suppose there is
such a thing as tobacco on Mars. May as well quit now." He was about to
toss the case ever the railing when Lal Vak caught his arm.

"Wait," he said. "Save those little white cylinders. They may prove
valuable to you."

"How?" Jerry wanted to know.

"As evidence of your advent from another world. The Vil of Kalsivar
suspects that you are an enemy spy, who arrived on the palace roof with
an outlandish costume and strange weapons in order to deceive him in
case of capture. It is thought that your purpose was to kidnap Junia,
daughter of Numin Vil."

Jerry said, "Just a moment. Let me get this thing straight. I take it
that Numin Vil is the ruler, who sat on the throne."

"That's right. He is what you might call, the Emperor of Kalsivar,
mightiest nation of Mars."

"And that girl I rescued from the wild beast is his daughter?"

"She is. The Sovil, or Imperial Princess of Kalsivar. Unfortunately, you
did not rescue her from a wild beast. It seems that you met her on the
roof garden, and attempted to abduct her. Her favorite dalf came to her
rescue, and you slew the beast with one of your strange weapons."

"What's that? You mean the creature I killed was a pet?"

"Not only was it a pet, but she loved it almost like a member of the
family. She got that dalf when a cub, and raised it herself."

"Hm. Sort of watchdog, eh? I'll apologize to the lady, of course, and if
possible, get her a new dalf."

"Apologize, yes, but don't mention a new dalf. She has many, but to
speak of replacing this one would be almost equivalent to offering to
replace her brother after you had slain him."

"I think I begin to understand."

"You certainly succeeded in getting into plenty of trouble, and you are
far from out of it yet. With the assistance of Her Highness, Junia
Sovil, I was able to get you a forty-day stay of execution, but at the
end of that time you must stand trial. The Vil granted this clemency so
you would have time to learn the language, and thus be able to speak in
your own behalf, as well as to hear your accusers."

"What accusers?"

"I mean, in particular, Thoor Movil, Junia's cousin, who is head of the
spy system of Kalsivar. He is the tall, dark-skinned fellow who wore
orange trimmed with blue. Blue, on Mars, is the exclusive color of
royalty. A Vil, or his descendants of unmixed royal blood, may wear it
with gold. A noble, closely related to the royal family, may trim his
orange garments with blue. Thoor Movil is the son of Numin Vil's younger

"He appears to be of a different race," said Jerry.

"His mother was of the brown race," Lal Vak explained, "which is a
mixture of the black and white races, according to our ethnologists. It
is believed that Kalsivar was founded by a black race, which was later
conquered by a white race, that intermarriage occurred for many
generations, and the brown race resulted. A few of the blacks, however,
retained their racial purity. Within historical times, about five
thousand years ago, Kalsivar was reconquered by a white race which did
not intermarry with the other two, and whose leader was the founder of
the present dynasty."

"And this revolt you speak of. Who is fomenting it?"

"The origin of the leader is shrouded in mystery," replied Lal Vak. "For
at least a thousand years there has been a prophecy among the brown
people to the effect that a man of their own race, of the old royal
blood, would arise to lead them to victory over their white rulers. Less
than a year ago a stranger appeared among a large group of them, who had
gone into the desert to perform religious rites as is their annual
custom. This person wore a hideous mask, fashioned in the likeness of
the chief of their ancient gods, Sarkis the Sun God, and claimed that he
was the reincarnation of that god, returned to lead them to ultimate

"Many fell down and worshiped him, remaining to form the nucleus of a
rapidly growing army of outlaws, who raid our agricultural districts,
and harass our shipping. Many punitive expeditions have been sent out
against these outlaws, but they invariably break up into small bands
which scatter over the trackless desert, to re-form later at some
unexpected point for fresh raids. Their mysterious leader has come to be
known as Sarkis the Torturer.“

"Does this Sarkis constitute a menace to the present ruler of Kalsivar?"

"Decidedly," was Lal Vak's reply. "His ranks are being rapidly swelled by
deserters from the imperial army. And the roving desert tribes, many of
which are of the brown race, have unanimously espoused his cause."

At this moment a brown-skinned slave appeared in the window opening and
spoke with Lal Vak. Then the latter turned to Jerry. "I doubt not that
you are hungry, and our regular time for eating has arrived. Let us go

They went in and sat down on one of the swinging divans. The slave
brought a large bowl, mounted on a tripod, which he set before them. The
bowl was divided into six segments, and in each segment reposed a
different kind of food. Mounted on a single shaft in the center of the
bowl was a small, circular disk, on which stood a flask and two cubical
cups, all of gold, exquisitely carved and set with sparkling jewels.

The servant poured a steaming liquid into the cups. It was pink in
color, and gave off a fragrant aroma.

Lal Vak took up a cup and extended it to Jerry. "I believe you will find
it easy to like our favorite Martian drink, though you may find it
difficult to accustom yourself to some of our foods."

"What is it?"

"We call it pulcho," Lal Vak replied. "Taken in moderate quantities it
is a pleasant stimulant. When drunk excessively, it is intoxicating."

The Earthman took a sip, and found it as the scientist had said, both
pleasing and stimulating.

The brown-skinned servant hastened forward to refill his cup, and the
Earthman noticed that he took it up in such a way that for a moment the
palm of his hand was held over it.

The man handed him the brimming cup, but before he could raise it to his
lips, Lal Vak snatched it from him. Springing to his feet, he whipped
out his dagger and presented its point to the breast of the servant,
addressing a few sharp words to him.

With a trembling hand, the fellow took the cup and drained its contents
at a single gulp. A dull, glazed look came to his eyes. He slumped to
the floor, then lay still.

"I thought I saw him drop something into your cup," said Lal Vak, "but I
wanted to make sure. As you see, I was right."

"You mean that the fellow tried to poison me?"

"Precisely," Lal Vak replied. "He is only a tool, of course. You have
an enemy in Raliad, it seems, and one who occupies a high place."

"But who could it have been?"

"That is what we will try to find out--later," the scientist told him,
turning toward the door. "I go now to call the guard. Under the
circumstances, we had best keep our own council. I beg you, for your own
good to remember, after I have taught you our language, that this
impudent fellow had the bad taste to commit suicide in our presence."


STUDYING assiduously under the efficient tutelage of Lal Vak, Jerry
rapidly learned to read and write the Martian language.

The scientist also instructed him in Martian manners and customs, and
described to him the immense city without.

"Raliad," Lal Vak told him, "is truthfully called the 'City of a Million
Gardens.' Here every house, from the imperial palace down to the
lowliest hovel, has its roof garden. It is so immense that, within its
confines live more people than make up the entire nation of Xancibar,
whence I come. Its resident population is well over a hundred million,
and its floating population daily numbers at least twenty-five million
more. More canals verge here than in any other six cities on the planet,
and the canals are the main arteries of travel and commerce."

Some five days before the date set for his trial, Jerry was enjoying his
evening meal in company with Lal Vak, when the latter told him:

"I have arranged a surprise for you. Her Imperial Highness, the Sovil,
when I told her that you had mastered our language, and that you had a
petition for her ears, graciously consented to grant you an interview."

"Great! When do we start?"

"Patience, and finish your meal," smiled Lal Vak. "We have plenty of
time. A guard will be sent for you at the appointed hour, for you are
still a prisoner, you know. To show proper respect for Her Highness, I
think we had best dress you for the audience."

"This Army uniform is getting rather seedy looking," said Jerry.

"On Mars we dress according to our stations in life. I understand that
you are of noble blood."

"On the contrary," Jerry replied, "there are no nobles in the nation
from which I came. We have our great men--our leaders in finance, in war,
in science, and in the arts--but no nobility."

"That I know. Yet Dr. Morgan told me he was descended from the nobility
of another nation--Ireland, I believe he called it. This will entitle you
to wear orange, trimmed with black, on Mars."

"True. I had forgotten that my first American ancestor was an Irish
viscount. But he renounced his title, so that lets me out."

"It doesn't change the blood."

"That's true, but I think I'll be loyal to his ideas, just the same."

"Then you will have to wear the plain black of a commoner."

Lal Vak summoned a servant, and ordered that a suit of commoner's
clothes be brought. Some time later, Jerry surveyed himself in the
burnished gold mirror. He wore a cincture of glossy black velvet, which
left his legs bare. On his feet were black boots of soft leather.

There was a broad belt of woven silver links about his waist, from which
depended an empty sword scabbard on his left, and a dagger sheath on his
right. The weapons had been removed because of his status as a prisoner.
His arms and torso were bare, save for a pair of silver wrist guards, a
pair of armlets of the same metal, and a medallion which depended from
around his neck. On his head was a black turban, held in place by a band
and chin strap of finely woven silver links. This turban was made of a
tenuous but extremely strong and windproof material, which could be
unbound and dropped about his shoulders to form a cloak that would reach
to his knees.

A few moments later the guard flung open the door and a page entered.

"Her Imperial Highness, Junia, Sovil of Kalsivar, commands the presence
of Lal Vak and Jerry Morgan."

They returned his salute, and followed him out into the hallway, where
two armed guards fell in behind them.

The page led them to the nearest runway, where they took a multiped
vehicle to the second floor above them. Here they walked back along an
almost identical hallway, and Jerry realized, as they paused before a
blue-curtained door guarded by two warriors, that Junia's apartment was
directly above his own.

The page went in first, to announce them, then returned and bade them
enter. In a large, magnificently furnished room, Junia reclined on a
swinging divan of blue plush, surrounded by a bevy of her ladies.

As Jerry stood before her and rendered the royal salute by holding both
hands before his eyes, he caught his breath at sight of her loveliness.

"I shield my eyes in the glory of Your Highness's presence," he said.

She returned the salute by raising one slender hand before her eyes--the
salute rendered to those of other than royal blood. Then she turned to
Lal Vak.

"You have made a mistake, I believe," she said. "This afternoon you
requested an audience for a nobleman from another world, and I granted
it. Now you bring a commoner before me--an affront which even the Zovil,
my brother, would not have dared."

"I can explain in a few words, Your Highness," said Lal Vak. "Jerry
Morgan's noble ancestor renounced his title. Though nothing can rob him
of his noble blood, he hails from a country where there are no titles,
and so prefers to appear as a commoner."

"It is a churlish preference I should expect in him, after his actions
when first we met. It seems he would add insult to injury."

Lal Vak was about to reply, but Jerry forestalled him.

"I fear Your Highness misapprehends my intentions. Since I came to
apologize for those same blundering acts of mine, I wore the black of a
commoner in token of humility."

"Why, this is better," she said, with a faint smile. "I had not expected
so quick a wit in one whose blunders have been so lamentable."

"It is charitable of you to allow them to pass as blunders."

"Had I not accounted them so, you would not have been granted this
interview," said Junia.

"You lead me to hope that the forgiveness for which I have come to sue
will be granted."

"It is already granted."

"I am profoundly grateful," he said with almost undue eagerness.

She said no more, but her brown eyes dropped, and a slow blush suffused
the lovely features.

For a moment Jerry stood thus, unconscious of everything about him save
the allure of this maiden. Then Lal Vak touched his arm, and the spell
was broken.

"Come," he said softly. "The interview is ended."

As one in a daze, Jerry saluted and withdrew, accompanied by the
scientist and followed by the two guards.

Lal Vak speaking English so the two guards who followed would not
understand, said, "I saw that look which passed between you two. If you
would live, even to the day of the trial, you must never attempt to see
her again; never let any one know the depth of feeling which you have
betrayed and to which she involuntarily responded this evening.”

"To know that I should never see her again would be to lose all zest for
life. But why do you say I must put her from my mind?"

"Because to do otherwise will be to align yourself against forces that
can only compass your destruction. Already you have made one powerful
enemy, whose name I believe I can guess. And now, would you align Manith
Zovil, your friend and protector, and even the Vil himself against you?"

At this moment they entered their apartment, and the two guards took up
their positions before the door.

"As I have previously told you," Lal Vak went on, "Manith is the Zovil
of Nunt, one of the major powers of Mars with which Kalsivar is on
friendly terms. He was sent here by his father, Lom Harr, Vil of Nunt,
for the express purpose of courting Junia Sovil. And I have been given
to understand that the two young people are not at all averse to the

"That does put me in an awkward position. I can't prosecute my own
interests without interfering with those of my friend and benefactor."

"Precisely. And although we have not definitely discovered the identity
of your secret enemy, I believe that he will come out into the open very
shortly. Strangely enough, what he believes to be his own interests, are
opposed to those of Manith Zovil, as well as to your recently awakened

"And his name?"

"Thoor Movil, whose father was the Vil's brother, but whose mother was a
sovil of the ancient royal family of the brown race. He urged your
instant execution on the day Manith saved you. There are but two people
between him and succession to the throne of Kalsivar-Shiev Zovil,
Junia's brother, and Junia herself. If he could accomplish the death of
one and marry the other, his succession would be assured, save for one
thing--that no man of the brown race has occupied that throne since the
conquest by the white race, five thousand years ago. However, it appears
that Sarkis the Torturer is the tool of Thoor Movil, as he demands, that
Kalsivar shall be ruled by a man of the ancient brown royalty.

"The entire plot is clear enough to me, but Numin Vil would not believe
me. And Thoor Movil would quickly set his assassins on my trail if the
Vil should fail to act against me."

"And just where do I fit in?"

"I have tried to make it plain," said Lal Vak, "that Thoor Movil is both
fearless and unscrupulous. What, then, would happen to you if you were
to reveal your true feelings toward Junia, and such revelation were to
come to his ears? He would treat you as a pestiferous insect which one
crushes beneath his foot."

At this instant one of the guards at the door drew back a curtain and
announced: "A messenger from His Highness, Thoor Movil."

Lal Vak paled beneath his coat of tan. "It has come, and sooner than I
expected," he told Jerry in English. Then he spoke to the guard in the
Martian tongue: "Admit him."

A brown-skinned page entered.

"His Highness, Thoor Movil, is entertaining His Imperial Highness, Shiev
Zovil, at gapun," announced the page, "and commands the attendance of
Lal Vak and Jerry Morgan."

"Await us outside while we make ready," Lal Vak told the page. The
latter stepped out beyond the curtains, and the scientist spoke in
English: "Let me warn you, my son, that Thoor Movil bids you to a more
dangerous game than that of gapun. You will best be able to defeat him
by being scrupulously careful to offend no one, and by passing unnoticed
any insults save only those which may amount to an actual challenge, and
which no Martian gentleman may ignore and retain his honor."


AS HE and Lal Vak followed the page into Thoor Movil's large and
luxurious apartments, Jerry saw that the party was a small and select
one, consisting of about twenty men. Three of them, Shiev Zovil, Manith
Zovil, and Thoor Movil, wore the blue of royalty. The others, with the
exception of the Earthman, wore the orange of nobility.

Four gaming boards set on a large swinging table served the gapun
players. These boards contained numbered holes, and the game consisted
of rolling Martian money--small engraved pellets of gold silver, and
platinum--into the holes, the first pellet into the highest numbered hole
winning the entire stake from each roll.

Pulcho, which was being imbibed by the gamblers, was being poured by a
dozen brown slaves.

As Jerry knew Thoor Movil for his enemy, he was surprised when the
latter did them honor by rising to receive them. The brown prince found
a place for Lal Vak first, then he turned to Jerry with a sarcastic
smile, and said in the hearing of all the company: "You are our latest
and most distinguished gambler, since you wear the darkest clothing of
anyone present."

Jerry returned his sarcastic smile with a cheery one. "That I am the
latest is plain to be seen," he said, "but I protest that I am not the
most distinguished. You do me too great an honor."

"How so?" asked Thoor Movil.

"It is Your Highness who is our most distinguished gambler, since you
have the darkest skin of any present."

The two princes, Shiev and Manith, laughed uproariously and some of the
nobles ventured to smile, but most of them looked exceedingly grave. And
gravest of all was Lal Vak.

"Is it customary in your country for a guest to insult his host?" asked
Thoor Movil, fingering his sword hilt.

"On the contrary," Jerry replied, "I should say that it is as great a
rarity as for a host to insult his guest."

Thoor Movil's frown deepened, but Manith Zovil interposed. Taking
Jerry's arm with one hand, and that of the brown prince with the other,
he said, "Come. You two are delaying the game. Let us on with the play."

Before they could seat themselves, however, a tall, broad-shouldered
player who wore the orange and black of the nobility, rose and said: "I,
for one, do not care to play, so long as this commoner is present. His
appearance is offensive enough, but his manners are a stench and an
abomination to sensitive nostrils."

Jerry paused and regarded him coldly. "I have not the honor of your

At this, Lal Vak plucked at his arm, and said in English:

"Beware. This is the trap Thoor Movil has set for you. This man is the
most dangerous swordsman in all Kalsivar."

"I am Arsad, Rad of Dhoor," said Jerry's newfound enemy. "You are
standing in my way."

Recalling his preceptor's warning to avoid a quarrel at any cost, Jerry
stepped aside.

But again the fellow turned and faced him. "Have I not said that you
stand in my way?"

With this, Arsad struck the Earthman a sharp blow on the cheek with the
back of his hand.

Jerry saw red, and he struck out straight from the shoulder, his fist
landing full on the mouth of his adversary. Arsad stumbled backward and
crashed across the gaming table, sending the gapun boards flying. For a
moment he lay there as if dazed. Then he sprang up with a roar, spat out
three teeth and a mouthful of blood, and whipped out his sword.

Jerry felt a jeweled hilt thrust into his hand, Manith Zovil, Crown
Prince of Nunt, had again befriended him, this time by lending him his

Swiftly Jerry came on guard parrying a thrust for his heart. He found
his own return thrust parried with ease, and soon realized that he was
up against a master swordsman. But Arsad must have come to recognize
this at the same time, for he began to fence very cautiously.

Meanwhile, the spectators, who had formed a ring around the two
contestants, were treated to such an exhibition of swordsmanship as they
had not seen for many a day. For, though Arsad was known as one of the
best swordsmen on Mars, Jerry had likewise been regarded one of the best
swordsmen in the American Army.

Arsad had not exhausted all his tricks. And Jerry learned a new one just
after he had parried a particularly long lunge to his body. For the Rad
of Dhoor, in recovering, turned the edge of his saw-toothed blade
against Jerry's side, and as he drew it back, cut a deep gash from which
the blood spurted freely. It was a trick which could not have been
performed with any but a saw-toothed Martian blade.

Clutching his side to stanch the flow of blood, the Earthman now took
the offensive with such vigor that time and again his opponent was
forced to give ground in order to save himself. Still Arsad remained

But the Martian had, by this time, discovered that he was in danger of
losing his life. Snatching his turbanlike head-cloak from his head, he
hurled it into Jerry's face, blinding him for an instant. Then he

Jerry's earthly muscles saved his life by a split second, as he leaped
back a full ten feet. Then he brushed the blinding fabric aside and gave
a fierce leap forward, sword out, straight at the charging Arsad. In
sheer surprise the latter tripped and fell, an easy target for the
Earthman's point.

But instead of administering the coup de grace, Jerry struck the sword
from the hand of his tricky opponent, then presented his point to his

"Wait! Would you kill an unarmed man?"

"Unless you yield!"

But Arsad sprang backward, and to one side; he seized the weapon which
the Earthman had beaten from his hand, and coming up to catch Jerry with
his blade low, slashed swiftly for his neck.

Jerry dived straight forward, under that whistling blade, at the same
time extending his point. The sword of Arsad flashed harmlessly over his
back, but his own plunged clear through the body of the Martian,
projecting a full two feet from his back.

With a look of horrified unbelief on his face, the Rad of Dhoor dropped
his sword and slumped to the floor.

Two surgeons, who had been sent for at the beginning of the duel, now
came forward. One pronounced Arsad dead. The other dressed Jerry's wound
by drawing it together and covering it with a thick gum called jembal
which quickly hardened into a flexible, porous covering that was
antiseptic, permitted drainage, and kept out infection. A slave took the
bloody sword from Jerry's hand, cleansed it, and returned it to him.

His wound dressed, the Earthman returned the sword to the Zovil of Nunt.
"For the second time I am indebted to Your Highness."

"A trifle," Manith Zovil replied. Then taking a cup of pulcho from a
slave who waited nearby, he handed it to the Earthman. "Drink," he
commanded. "It will help to restore your strength. You have lost much

Jerry tossed off the beverage and felt refreshed. In the meantime, the
body of Arsad had been taken away, and all traces of the duel removed by
the slaves. The gapun boards were replaced on the table, and several of
the nobles resumed their interrupted gaming, drinking and laughter as if
nothing had happened.

Most boisterous of all was Shiev, Zovil of Kalsivar. The crown prince
was a slight, spare youth, and something of a fop. That he had drunk
overmuch pulcho was plainly evident.

"Come," he cried, beating on the board with a handful of platinum
pieces. "Let us on with the game. I would see if this black-clad
commoner can play gapun as well as he can fence."

"If it pleases your highness," said Jerry, "I should prefer not to play
tonight. I have lost much blood, and feel the need of repose."

Shiev flushed. "You refuse the honor--refuse to play with the heir to the
throne of Kalsivar? You are exceedingly impudent for a commoner."

"And you are exceedingly ungracious for a prince."

His words were like a bombshell in the room. The face of Shiev Zovil
went deathly white. His hand flew to his sword hilt, but ere he could
draw the weapon, Manith Zovil had interposed.

"Wait, Shiev," he said. "This man is from another world, and does not
know our customs."

"Then he needs teaching."

"Not with the sword," Manith answered. "He has demonstrated that on the
body of Kalsivar's greatest swordsman."

"Now, by the wrath of Deza!" exploded Shiev. "Are you intimating that I
fear to fight this clumsy oaf? Have a care how you presume on our
hospitality, or it may be that only your ashes will be back to Nunt."

"Do not presume too much on the fact that I have come to woo Her
Highness, your sister. I am your royal equal, and my sword shall answer
further insinuations from you."

At this, Shiev lurched drunkenly to his feet and whipped out his blade.
Manith Zovil drew his own weapon, but to Jerry's surprise, Lal Vak
stepped between them.

"Before you go on with this duel, Highnesses," said the white-haired
scientist, "I beg you to pause and consider the consequences. Many
things are done in the heat of anger that bring regret when the blood
cools. If you fight, one of you may be killed. You are both brave men
and fearless, and this does not weigh with either of you. But no matter
which one dies, there will be an immediate result--a war between Kalsivar
and Nunt that will cost millions of lives and use up the resources of
both nations."

At this, the nobles immediately sided with Lal Vak, and begged the two
princes to sheathe their swords. Jerry, who had joined those attempting
to cool the wrath of Manith Zovil, noticed there was one man in the room
who held aloof from all this--as soon as he saw that the swords were to
be sheathed, he added his voice to those of the others in crying for

The two princes were brought to the point of saluting each other, though
the eyes of both still flashed ominously. Then Manith Zovil saluted his
dark-skinned host, thanked him for his hospitality, and took his
departure. Jerry and Lal Vak did likewise, and came upon the prince as
he waited for a multiped vehicle on, the signal platform.

"Again I have Your Highness to thank for interposing in my behalf," said
Jerry. "Won't you join Lal Vak and me in our apartment for the rest of
the evening?"

"Sorry, but I am going now to take leave of Numin Vil and quit this
country," replied Manith. "Junia is glorious, worth fighting and dying
for, but I am not of the stuff that can brook these constant insults
from her popinjay brother.

"As for the obligation, my friend, there is none. I only did that which
any man worthy of the name might do under similar circumstances. This is
not the first time Shiev Zovil has insulted me, and I am convinced that
it is because his cousin has poisoned his mind against me.
Unfortunately, I can find no pretext for seeking a quarrel with Thoor."

At this moment, a multiped vehicle stopped at the platform. Manith Zovil
bade Jerry and Lal Vak farewell when they reached their platform, and
invited them to visit him in his own palace. He would be leaving, he
said, as soon as he could pay his respects to Numin Vil.

When they arrived at their apartment, followed by Jerry's two guards,
Lal Vak suggested that the Earthman retire immediately, as he would need
rest after losing so much blood. As for himself, he was going to visit a
friend in another part of the palace, and would probably return quite

The scientist gone, Jerry removed his head-cloak, and was about to do the
same with his other clothing, when a guard drew back the curtain and
announced: "A page from Her Highness, Nisha Novil."

Jerry replaced his headpiece, and said: "Let him enter."

A brown-skinned page stepped into the room, saluted, and said: "Her
Highness, Nisha Novil, commands the immediate presence of Jerry Morgan."

"Bear my excuses to Her Highness," replied Jerry. "Tell her that I am
weakened from loss of blood--that I . . .

"This is a command, Jerry Morgan. There can be no excuses."

Jerry pondered for a moment, and heartily wished that Lal Vak was here
to advise him what to do. Because Nisha Novil was the sister of Thoor
Movil, he sensed a trap of some sort. Yet the page would accept no
excuse--apparently had been so instructed.

He turned to the page, and said: "I am ready. Conduct me to Her


The roomy apartments of Nisha Novil were furnished with a splendor that
was almost barbaric, and Nisha herself was the most ornate object of
all. Lying on a swinging divan upholstered with alternate stripes of
orange and blue plush, she shot a languishing smile at Jerry from
beneath her long, curved lashes, as he was ushered in before her.

The only cloth upon her shapely body was a silken cincture of orange
trimmed with blue. Her small breast shields were of blue and amber
beads. By any standard she was undeniably beautiful.

With a wave of her hand she dismissed the page. Then she spoke, her
voice low, with a purring quality, like that of a kitten that is being

"You are prompt, Jerry Morgan, but why have you brought the bodyguard?
Were you afraid I might injure you? As you see, I am unarmed."

"Your Highness forgets that I am a prisoner under suspended sentence of
death. The guards . . .

"Yes, to be sure. I had forgotten." She addressed the two. "My slaves
will give you pulcho in another room. Wait there until I send for you. I
will be responsible for your prisoner."

With respectful salutations, the two guards followed a brown slave girl
through a curtained doorway. Then Nisha waved a slim hand, and the other
slave girls who stood in attendance behind her filed out of the room. As
soon as they were alone, the Princess rose with feline grace, and stood
before Jerry, smiling up at him beneath languorous lids. She was no
bigger than Junia, and much like her in appearance. Yet there was
something about her, an untamed feral something in her every look and

"Come," she said, taking Jerry's hand and leading him to the divan. "You
must be weary after your dual with Arsad. Come and rest here beside me
while we talk."

"I did lose some blood," Jerry replied. "That was why I was about to ask
Your Highness's indulgence. . ."

"But since I am dispensing with formality," she cooed, drawing him down
upon the divan, "you may rest here as well as in your own apartment. And
what I have to say cannot wait, for there are those who plot against
your life, and I would save you. Tomorrow will be too late."

"Your Highness is most generous to take an interest in my life."

She snuggled against him. "On the contrary, I am most selfish. From the
very day when I first saw you, standing before the throne of Numin Vil,
I have desired you.

"I heard of the suicide of the slave in your apartment, but did not
grasp the significance at the time. However, when I learned of your duel
with Arsad today, I knew that you had done something to displease my
brother, and that where Arsad failed, another of Thoor's tools would
eventually succeed. So I had a talk with my brother."

"I don't know what I ever did to him," said Jerry, "except that I turned
one of his own sarcastic remarks against him, this evening."

"That had some weight, but it is not the true reason for his bitterness
against you," she told him. "It began when our cousin, Junia, begged
your life from Numin Vil after you had slain her dalf. I may add that
those of whom Thoor becomes jealous never survive long."

"It seems that I have been exceedingly fortunate, then."

"Your skill with the sword saved you tonight," she answered, "but other
means of compassing your death have already been planned. Thoor Movil's
spies are everywhere, and when he heard of the look which Junia gave you
in her apartment today, you were marked for death.”

"And just what can you do about all this?" Jerry asked.

"Everything," she replied. “I have made a pact with my brother. Your life
is to be spared to me on condition that you never again cast your eyes
toward our fair cousin."

"So you have arranged the whole thing between you. Thoughtful of Your
Highness. But did it not occur to you that I might have some ideas of my
own on the subject?"

To his surprise, she flung her arms around his neck--pressed her warm
lips to his.

Had he never seen Junia, it is quite possible that the Earthman might
have capitulated. Gently he disengaged the clinging arms from around his
neck, and arose.

Nisha fell back on the divan, panting. Then she sprang straight for the
Earthman. Screeching curses, she beat upon his breast, scratched his
bare flesh until the blood welled forth. And through it all he stood
immobile, hands at his sides, teeth clenched in a grim smile.

Her fit of fury passed almost as suddenly as it had begun. With horror
in her eyes, she stood limply before him.

"Deza help me!" she moaned. "What have I done?"

"Have I Your Highness's leave to go?" he asked, with studied calm.

"No, wait! You must not leave me thus!"

She turned and ran into another room, reappearing a moment later with a
basin of water, a handful of soft moss, and a bottle of jembal. Jerry
stood like a statue while she washed away the blood and applied the
healing gum to the scratches she had inflicted. Her ministrations
finished, she looked up at him, tears swimming in her large black eyes
and pearling the long lashes.

"Forgive me, my dear lord," she begged, contritely. "Strike me! Break me
with those strong hands of yours! But do not leave me with anger in your
heart. Only say that you forgive me, and Deza will grant me strength to
go on, knowing that I may some day win your love."

"It is I who should ask forgiveness," Jerry told her, "since you have
only wounded my body. But I, it seems, have unwittingly wounded your

"You are generous, my lord," she cried, and flinging her arms around his
neck, crushed her lips to his. "Now go. But remember--Nisha loves you,
and will be waiting."

Without a word, he turned and left the room. He had taken the multiped
vehicle to his own floor, the one below, before he noticed that his two
guards were not following him. But he reasoned that they knew the way to
his apartment as well as he.

Passing into the apartment, he hooded all the baridium light globes but
one, preparatory to retiring. But, strangely enough, he no longer felt
tired or sleepy. Feeling that a breath of air would do him good, he
pushed open the two lower segments of the window, and stepped out onto
the balcony. The night was unusually cold, even for Mars at that season.

Jerry threw back his head and inhaled a great lungful of the cold, sweet
air. But he checked the inhalation with a gasp of amazement, for he saw,
looking down from the second balcony above him, the lovely face of
Junia. As she stood there, wrapped in her light, soft furs, he wished
that he might bridge the gap between them.

She smiled, and Jerry returned her smile. Then she turned away and he
saw her no more. But a plan had come to him. He could bridge that gap,
with the aid of his earthly muscles. Less than eight feet above his head
hung the tough coils of the vine which decked Nisha's balcony. And he
could see, by craning his neck outward, that the vines on Junia's
balcony hung even lower. 

A few moments later, he stood on Nisha's balcony. Fortunately for his
plan, the vines on Junia's balcony hung lower, and he was able to reach
the lower most of these by a vertical jump, thus avoiding the necessity
of running past the window.

The loop held and he easily made the balcony above. Like the other two,
it was edged with potted plants, and at first he did not notice the
figure standing at the opposite end in the shadow of an aromatic
sebolis. But as he crept over the railing, he noticed a slight movement
in the shadow, and his heart leaped to his throat. Could this be a
guard--and he unarmed?

Jerry was unable to more than make out a muffled form standing immobile
before him. Silently, he crept forward, and as silently sprang, flinging
one hand about the arms and body of the figure and clapping his left
hand over the mouth.

To his astonishment, he found that he clasped a woman. A muffled scream
came from the girl as he dragged her out into the full light of the
nearer moon.

"Junia!" he exclaimed, releasing her and standing shamefaced before her.
"I thought you were a guard."

"Just what are you doing on my balcony?" she asked. "And why would you
have attacked a guard of mine?"

"I had to see you. There was no other way to see you alone. Oh, Junia,
it seems that I am doomed to blunder each time I approach you--that the
fates have conspired to make you hate me."

"I-I don't believe I could ever bring myself to hate you, Jerry Morgan,"
she said softly. "But you are so clumsy. One scarcely knows what to do
with you or how to restrain you."

As she stood there looking up at him in the moonlight, Jerry reflected
that this girl could do more to him with her eyes alone than could Nisha
with her arms and lips--with her whole body.

"You have said that you had to see me," she told him presently. "Why?"

"Because I love you."

"You are bold to approach me thus, and bolder still to make such a
declaration," she said. But there was no hint of anger in her eyes.

"You are right, Highness," he said dejectedly, "With your leave I will
depart, and never trouble you more."

But as he turned away, she laid her hand on his arm. "Wait, Jerry
Morgan," she said. "What if I were to tell you that I also care?"

"Junia! You can't mean it."

"But I do, Jerry Morgan."

Gently, reverently, he took the tiny, fur-clad form in his arms. She
raised her lips.

A moment they stood thus--a moment during which, for Jerry, all time
stood still. Then she drew away.

"You must leave me, now. It grows late, and we may be discovered." There
was a catch in her voice that sounded like a stifled sob, as she added:
"May Deza keep you safe, and bring you back to me, unharmed."

Then she stepped into the darkness of her apartment.

For a moment Jerry stood there looking after her. Then he lowered
himself over the railing, went down the vines hand over hand.

He found the apartment deserted, just as he had left it. Going to the
door, he parted the curtains to see if his two guards had returned. They
had not, and he was about to turn back when a man wearing the blue of
royalty suddenly came running around a bend in the hall toward him. With
a start of surprise, he recognized Manith Zovil. The Prince of Nunt
carried a bloody sword in his hand, and blood was trickling from a wound
on his breast.

Springing forward, Jerry caught him and helped him inside.

"What has happened, Highness?" he asked. "Were you attacked?"

"Attacked, yes!" panted Manith. "I have just slain that drunken fool,
Shiev Zovil. For the love of Deza, help me get rid of this blood, or my
life will be forfeit, and there will be a war more vast and deadly than
Mars has ever seen before!"


WITH water and a handful of moss, Jerry cleansed the wound of Manith
Zovil. Then he closed it with jembal. As it was only an inch in width
and centrally located, the Prince of Nunt was able to hide it completely
with the heavy medallion which hung on his chest.

Having cleansed his benefactor's sword and returned it to his sheath,
Jerry mopped up several drops of blood from the floor, then went out
onto the balcony and flung the telltale moss over the railing, and far
out to his left, so no one below could accurately judge from which
balcony it had fallen.

This done, he returned to where Manith sat panting on a divan, and
poured him a cup of pulcho.

"Drink this, and try to compose yourself, Highness. There is no cause
for alarm, now. You and your weapons are free of blood, and your wound
is dressed and concealed. Rather a bad one, too. A little more to the
left, and you would not be alive."

Manith tossed off the drink and put down the cup.

"You are right, my friend," he said. "I met the drunken popinjay in the
hallway. He was carrying his sword in his hand, and evidently bound for
your apartment. As soon as I came near him, he lunged at me without a
word of warning, and before I had a chance to so much as grasp my hilt.

"As you see, his design failed. Having dodged away that treacherous
stroke, I drew my own sword and thrust him through the throat with as
little compunction as if he had been a dalf."

"And you are sure he is dead?"

"If not, he soon will be."

"But why should any blame attach to you? You killed him in a fair fight,
after an unprovoked assault."

"Because there were no witnesses. A duel with witnesses is legal;
without them, is it murder."

"Did you meet anyone in the hallway before or after the duel?"

"No one."

"Then you are safe. Only you and I know what occurred, and I pledge you
my word that I will never tell."

"I believe you, for though you wear the black of a commoner, you are a

"And now," continued Jerry, "the best thing for you to do is to go on as
if nothing had happened. You have taken your leave of the Vil, and were
about to depart for your own country. I suggest that you go on,
unhurriedly, as planned."

"In that case there should be no suspicion..."

He halted his speech suddenly, as the tramp of feet and the clank of
weapons sounded without. Then rising, he seized the pulcho flask, and
filling two cups, handed one to Manith and took up the other. Behind
him, he heard the steps of men entering the chamber, but disregarding
it, held the cup aloft, and said: "A safe and pleasant journey to you."

A sword flashed out from behind him, striking the cup from his hand and
spilling the contents on the legs of Manith Zovil. Turning, he looked
into the glittering eyes of Thoor Movil. Behind the brown prince stood a
dozen warriors, swords in their hands.

Jerry forced himself to smile at his enemy. "Rather a boisterous way to
announce your visit, Highness," he said, picking up the cup, "but you
are welcome, nevertheless. Manith Zovil and I were just drinking to his
safe and pleasant journey. Won't you and your men join us?"

"It comports with your every action since you first came to Kalsivar,
that you should choose to be facetious at a time like this."

"Since Your Highness chose to be playful, I merely fell in with your
mood," Jerry replied, still smiling. "Courtesy to a guest, you know."

"But I am not playful, as you will learn soon enough. I am in deadly
earnest. Where are your guards?"

"How should I know?" Jerry replied. "They were set to guard me, not I,

"What were you doing in the hallway a few moments ago?"

"Nothing. I have been in my apartment for some little time. Manith Zovil
and I have been sitting here chatting. He is leaving for Nunt, you know,
and dropped in to say farewell."

Thoor turned to the visiting prince.

"Did you notice anything unusual in the hallway when you came here?"

"Nothing," Manith replied. "Why?"

"Because Shiev Zovil has just been murdered there."

"Why, that's ghastly," said Manith. "I must tender my condolences to the
prince's father and sister. Who do you think did it?"

"I believe," said Thoor Movil, "that the spy who occupies this apartment
is the one who committed the crime."

"That would be impossible," said Manith. "He could not commit a murder
and sit here talking to me at the same time. And I believe you do him an
injustice in calling him a spy."

"How was the prince slain?" Jerry asked.

"Stabbed through the throat, as you well know," replied Thoor Movil.

"Perhaps you have not noticed that I am without weapons."

"True. But you may have a sword concealed about the apartment."

"I invite you to search it."

"We will do that without your invitation. Ho, men, see if you can find
the weapon for me."

The soldiers went to work peering behind all movable objects and ripping
upholstery, but the search was futile.

"Just as a matter of form," said Thoor Movil to Manith Zovil, "may I
look at the blades of your sword and dagger? I do not suspect you, of
course, but I must be thorough in the line of my duty."

"I understand perfectly," Manith replied, and tendered his weapons.

Thoor Movil examined the sword minutely, and returned it without
comment, gave the dagger a cursory glance, and handed it back, also.

"They are clean, and Your Highness is absolved," he said. "But there is
something suspicious about your friend, here. I go now to make further
search, but I will leave four men on guard. Would you care to go with

"Of course," Manith Zovil replied. "I must go back to his majesty the
Vil, at once, to offer my sympathy before I leave." He turned to Jerry.
"Farewell, my friend. I am sure you are innocent, and that His Highness,
here, is sure to find the guilty one and clear you."

He departed with Thoor Movil, and Jerry heard the dark prince post
guards outside. He sat down on the ripped and rumpled divan to think.

Unless he could find some way to escape from Kalsivar, Jerry reasoned
that nothing could save him except the intervention of Nisha in his
behalf. And he did not want to feel obligated to her.

There was one, however, in that vast nation, in whose good graces Jerry
particularly wished to remain. He felt sure that, sooner or later, Thoor
or his agents would go to Junia with insinuations regarding him. Best go
to her himself, he thought, ahead of any one else.

Once more, Jerry went out on the balcony. It had become colder as it
grew later. And the farther moon had risen in the east, while its
nearer, swifter companion, hurtled forward from the west to meet it, the
two making visibility much better than before.

He leaped up, caught the trailing vine, and pulled himself up to Nisha's
balcony. But scarcely had his feet touched the floor when a heavy cloak
was thrown over his head, strong arms pinioned his arms to his sides,
and he was half carried, half dragged through the window. He kicked and
struggled in an effort to free himself from his unseen assailants, but
in vain. His hands and feet were swiftly and skillfully bound, and with
the cloak still over his head, he was deposited on a divan.

Then something sharp pricked his side, and a gruff voice said: "If you
know what is good for you, you will remain quiet."


JERRY succumbed to the inevitable and gave up his struggles. Then
suddenly, to his surprise, he heard a throaty contralto voice that was
strangely familiar--the voice of Nisha.

"Remove the cloak, Jeth," she said, "and cut his bonds. My brother's men
have gone."

The cloak dragged from his head, Jerry blinked in the unaccustomed rays
of a light globe which hung above him, and flexed his numb limbs. He was
in a small chamber, evidently the dressing room of Thoor's sister.

A burly, brown-skinned guard stood beside him, and another stood watch
at the door. Nisha, herself, was looking down at him.

"I hope my men have not injured you," she said solicitously. "They acted
in the emergency, under my commands, in order to save your life. The
emergency has passed, but you are still in great danger. However, if you
are willing to do as I tell you, it may be that I will be able to save

"You have been most kind," Jerry told her. "What do you want me to do?"

"Thoor's men are searching the palace--in fact, the whole city--for you. I
guessed that you would try to escape by way of the balcony, and set my
two faithful men, here, to watch for you and bring you to me unharmed
but incapable of attempting to escape. And it is well that I did so,
because Thoor's soldiers came through my apartment a moment later and
searched the balcony. By telling them I had not seen you, which was true
enough, I prevented their searching this dressing room.

"I have planned an escape for you, but it will involve a complete change
in your appearance."

Going to a dressing table nearby, she selected two small flasks which
she handed to Jerry. "This," she said, indicating the first, "will dye
your hair jet black. And this," pointing to the second, "will make your
skin the same shade of brown as my guards'. I will go outside while they
help you."

As soon as she departed, the two men assisted Jerry to strip from head
to foot. Then one set about applying the black dye to his sandy hair,
while the other painted his skin with the brown liquid. Gazing into the
burnished gold mirror, Jerry was astounded at the transformation; he
was, to all appearances, a racial brother of the two brown men.

One of them brought him a coarse gray breechclout and head-cloak and a
pair of gray boots--the clothing of a slave. Quickly donning these, he
again surveyed himself in the mirror. He looked exactly like one of the
thousands of browned-skinned slaves he had seen employed in the palace.
A small blue and orange emblem, stitched to all of his garments,
announced that they, and their wearer, were the property of Nisha Novil.
After he had transferred the contents of the pouch attached to his
former belt to the plain gray pouch he now wore, he was ready.

One of the guards went out and a moment later Nisha entered the room.
She dismissed the other guard, and glanced at Jerry.

"Your disguise seems perfect," she said after a careful inspection.
"Your name is now Gudo. As Gudo, the slave, you'll shortly be conducted
hence in a band of fifty of my slaves, who go to work on the new canal
that Numin Vil is building. Every slaveholder in Kalsivar is required to
send one-tenth of his male slaves to work for one senil, or tenth of a
Martian year, on the project. It fortunately happened that they were to
leave tonight, to relieve the fifty who have been working there for the
last senil, and who will return to my service."

"Your Highness is most kind," said Jerry.

"At the end of the senil," she went on, "you will be returned to my
country estate on the Corvid Canal. I will be waiting there for you, and
together we will make plans for the future. Please understand that I am
not pretending altruism or a disinterested friendship. I would rather
see you dead than in the arms of another. You will have one senil in
which to think it over."

She spoke so calmly that Jerry could scarcely believe this was the girl
who had alternately caressed and clawed him a short time before. She
handed him a full flask of the black dye, one of the brown stain, and a
third which contained a clear liquid.

"You may find it necessary to change your disguise," she said. "A few
drops of this liquid added to a basin of water will make a solution that
will instantly restore your hair and skin to their natural color.

"In a moment more you must leave. You will be going into danger, perhaps
to your death, though Deza knows I have done everything possible for
your safety." She moved closer. "Can you--will you take me in your
arms--hold me for just a moment? Let me feel your lips on mine just
once--willingly? A senil is so long--and if fate should take you from me,
there will be, at least, this memory."

"I can and will, Nisha," he replied, suiting his actions to his words.
"I like your candor. You're a girl in a million. It is a pity that love
is not a thing we can command like a slave, or call to heel like a

"I know," she replied. Then she turned and called the guards. When they
entered she said: "You have your instructions, and will carry them out
at once."

"Come, Gudo," said one, taking Jerry's arm.

"Good-bye, Highness," said Jerry.

"Farewell. I will always love you," she replied, with a look of longing
in her eyes.

Then he passed out the door between the two warriors.

Jerry's conductors led him through a series of rooms and corridors into
a large chamber, where an aggregation of gray-clad, brown-skinned slaves
waited, guarded by a company of white warriors. A scribe took down his
assumed name and the name of his owner, and he was herded in with the

They were kept standing there for some time, their ranks constantly
swelled by newly arrived slaves. But presently Jerry noticed some sign
of activity at the other end of the hall. Then he saw that a group of
soldiers was painting a number on the forehead of each slave, with red
pigment, and thrusting them, feet first, into a hole in the wall.

He was greatly puzzled by this at first, but presently his own turn
came, and the riddle was solved. With the painted number still wet on
his forehead, he was thrust into the dark hole. Instantly he shot
downward at a steep angle, with a rapidly increasing acceleration, in an
incredibly slippery tube about four feet in diameter.

At first he descended in a series of spirals, but presently this changed
to a steep, straight incline. Then, gradually, this leveled out, slowly
checking his momentum, until he presently shot out under the roof of a
low shed, to land on a padded platform. Here two guards, waiting to
receive him, glanced at the painted number on his forehead and turned
him over to another guard, who conducted him to a place where a group of
his fellows waited.

By the dim light of the farther moon--for the nearer, brighter luminary
had now set--he saw that they were on a dock which fronted a canal.
Moored to the dock, directly in front of him, was a strange craft. It
was long and low, and roofed over in the manner of a whaleback steamer,
but with blocks of translucent material through which the rays from its
baridium globes shone forth. But the strangest thing about it was its
propulsive mechanism, the visible part of which consisted of eight pairs
of huge-jointed metal legs, each tipped with a webbed foot like that of
a duck. Obviously the craft actually swam on the surface of the canal
like a waterfowl.

He saw a demonstration of this a moment later when a similar boat
passed, and was astounded at the smoothness and speed with which these
mechanical legs could propel the craft over the water.

For some time he and his fellow slaves stood shivering on the dock. But
presently they were herded aboard the vessel and into several large
compartments, each of which was heated by a globular contrivance which
stood in the middle of the floor.

As soon as they entered there was a rush to get near the heating globe,
and those who succeeded lay down to sleep in its genial warmth. Jerry,
wearied by his adventures and exertions and weakened by his wound, was
glad to curl up against the outside wall and close his eyes.


JERRY was awakened by a sharp kick in the ribs. A guard was standing
over him. "It is time to eat, slave," he said gruffily.

Following the guard came a line of slaves bearing large trays of food
and drink. The food consisted of a stew in which were combined fish,
flesh and vegetables cut into small pieces and seasoned with a peppery
condiment. The beverage was the omnipresent pulcho. Jerry ate his stew
in the manner of his companions, by drinking the thin gravy and scooping
up the rest with his fingers. Then he slowly sipped his cup of pulcho,
and was ready with the others to hand cup and bowl back to the slaves
who came to collect the dishes.

The heating globe had been turned off, but its place was more than taken
by the sun, which was already halfway to the zenith.

Jerry arose and looked curiously out at the passing scenery. On one side
of the canal he saw a wall, topped by small buildings at regular
intervals, and patrolled by sentries. On the other side a series of
broad terraces led downward to another canal, and another series
progressed upward to a third. The terraces were covered with cultivated
gardens and orchards, and dotted here and there with cylindrical
buildings, evidently the dwellings of the Martian agriculturalists.

The purpose of these three canals in a single excavation was plain
enough. The two upper and outer canals each watered the system of
terraces below it. The total excavation was about fifteen miles in
width. Each canal was approximately a mile in width, and each system of
terraces six miles.

The canals were dotted with craft of various sizes and kinds. All of the
larger boats were propelled, like the one on which he rode, by
mechanical webbed feet, but some of the smaller ones had sails, and
others were paddled like canoes.

The smaller craft seemed mostly to be engaged in the occupation of
fishing, in which nets, lines, and spears were all employed. And Jerry
was startled to see some of the fishermen leave their boats, carrying
their spears or nets with them, and walk on the surface of the water.

Presently, when he came near enough to one to observe how it was done,
he saw that the fellow wore inflated, boat-shaped water shoes, on which
he glided about with the ease of a skilled terrestrial ice skater.

The sun had reached the zenith when the canal on which they were
traveling suddenly came to a junction with another. Jerry judged that
they must be quite near the equator, and verified this by looking at his
shadow, which had shortened to almost nothing. The junction of the
triple canals was effected by connecting the two upper channels of each
by means of four viaducts in the form of a square. These viaducts, each
fifteen miles in length and a mile in width, were supported on
tremendous arches high above the terraces and the two intersecting
drainage canals.

The boat on which they rode turned to the left in the farthest
transverse channel, and after skirting the wall for several miles drew
up at a dock. The doors were flung open and the guards herded the slaves
out onto the wharf, where they were turned over to a new group of guards
who had evidently been waiting to receive them. Here an officer took the
records and called the roll.

This done, they were marched through a tunnel in the thick wall. They
came out on a rather fragile wooden platform, fully two miles above the
ground. Directly below them was the waterless central channel of a great
triple canal, still under construction.

As far as Jerry could see, this tremendous excavation stretched
northward. He saw men at work on the terraces, evidently leveling them
off and getting them into shape. But the excavating, at this point, had
all been completed.

Supported and reinforced by thick steel cables, a causeway of the
resilient red-brown material used in paving, slanted down from the
platform to the bottom of the depression; on this some two-score
multiped vehicles waited. Under the direction of the guards, the slaves
mounted the saddles; when all were aboard, the vehicles scampered down
the swaying, trembling causeway.

Despite the skill of its driver, the one in which Jerry rode would have
been jounced off into the yawning abyss beneath had it not been for the
cables which formed a protecting railing on either side. He heaved a
sigh of relief when they were once more on solid footing. They were now
in the dry bed of the central drainage canal, which was composed of
solid rock, so smooth that it looked almost as if it had been planed.
And here, the multiped vehicles gave an example of the speed of which
they were capable. The banks of the canal, and the terraces with their
busy workmen, literally hurtled past them.

Mile after mile of dry channel and barren terraces reeled past them with
a monotonous sameness, until midafternoon. Then the vehicles suddenly
slowed down and Jerry caught his first glimpse of the digging of a
Martian canal.

At first he thought he saw two lines of huge beasts converging from the
center of the excavation in a huge, extended V, snapping and tearing at
the wall of earth, rock, and sand before them. But in a moment he saw
that they were not beasts, but machines, with jointed metal legs and
mighty steel jaws. These huge machines, each operated by a single slave
mounted in a saddle on its back, bit and swallowed until they had filled
their capacious interiors, then turned and climbed the banks to
disappear over the tops, while others returned empty and voracious once

Interspersed among the machines at regular intervals were armed
overseers, directing the work, each driving a small six-legged vehicle.

Behind the line of devouring metal beasts was another  with the same
type of body and legs, but with shovel-shaped, underslung lower jaws.
These jaws created a terrific din as, with sharp, rapid blows like those
of trip hammers, they planed off the jagged fragments. When filled, they,
like the others, backed away from the line and climbed the slope to get
rid of their loads, while other, empty machines scuttled in to take
their places.

Some distance behind the scene of operations and pitched upon the newly
planed terraces at either side of the central channel the work camp was
situated. It consisted of about a thousand large, round portable
dwellings with dome-shaped tops, made from furry pelts which would turn
back the heat at night.

The vehicle in which Jerry rode turned and scrambled up the bank to the
tent city at the right. It was followed by nine others. The remaining
machines climbed the left bank.

They came to a halt in front of a tent, before which a man wearing the
orange and black of nobility sat on a swinging divan. An officer handed
him a sheaf of papers, which he conned for a few moments. Then he
returned them and waved his hand.

Instantly, the guards ordered all the slaves out of the saddles. Then
they were drawn up in squads and marched through the camp, up the side
of the terrace to the very top. Here they crossed a temporary bridge,
stretched on steel cables across the empty upper channel. There were
four more similar bridges for the use of the digging machines, which
swarmed across them in endless chains. They emptied their loads of
rubble on the outer bank by the simple expedient of opening their metal
mouths, lowering them, and tilting their bodies up at the rear. This
done, they turned about and scampered back for more provender.

The Earthman and his companions were issued implements and put to work
at once, reducing and leveling the piles of rubble regurgitated by the
machines. The implement given Jerry was a heavy pole about eight feet in
length with a thick iron disk on one end. This was used like a rake or
hoe, to spread the material about. Then, with the shaft held
perpendicularly, it was employed to tamp and pack the surface.

It was hard work, even for Jerry with his Earth-trained muscles. And he
could realize how much more difficult it must be for the slaves around
him. The sun's rays beat down relentlessly upon them, and the guards
urged them on with spear points whenever they lagged.

Men who dropped from exhaustion and were unable to rise were kicked down
the embankment, to be buried beneath the constantly growing deposit of

Jerry worked at the end of his squad, every member of which was a brown
man. Next to him was a squad of white men, and one of them, a tremendous
fellow over seven feet tall and muscled in proportion, was his nearest
neighbor. This powerful giant made play of his work, laughing and
chatting with guards and workmen alike. Presently he called out to

"Ho, slave of Nisha Novil. At last you palace dalfs will have to do a
man's work."

Jerry grinned back at him. "It must be that you like it, since you call
it man's work."

"Not I," said the giant, "but because necessity compels..."

He paused in the midst of his speech and looked upward, a startled
expression on his face. At the same instant a shadow darkened the sun
above them. Then something struck Jerry behind the knees and he fell
backward into a large net with metal meshes. The giant turned to flee,
but the net caught him also, and he was swept back on top of the

As the two men sought to disentangle themselves, the ground receded
rapidly beneath them.

Looking up, Jerry saw that the net which held them hung from two chains
which depended from both sides of a grotesque flying monster with
membranous wings, a fur-covered body, long legs covered with yellow
scales, and a flat, ducklike bill armed with sharp triangular teeth.
The chains were fastened to the sides of a saddle of gray metal, on
which sat a brown warrior who was hurling javelins at the guards below.

A glance around showed that at least five hundred of these flying
monsters had attacked the camp, and all were now rising with slaves and
guards struggling in their nets.

"What is this? Where are they taking us?" Jerry asked his companion.

"A slave raid," the latter replied. "Deza help us, for we are in the
clutches of Sarkis the Torturer!"


THE raiding party flew rapidly away, its victims dangling helplessly in
the nets. "I have heard of this Sarkis the Torturer," Jerry said. "An
outlaw, I believe. But what can he want with us?"

"He wants fighting men, and victims for sacrifice. This raid will
provide both."

"How both?"

"The captives will be put to the test. Those who can use a sword and are
willing to join the outlaws and worship the Sun God will be spared. The
others will be reserved for sacrifice. But why do you ask all these
questions?" He glanced sharply at Jerry for a moment, then exclaimed:
"Ah, I see the reason now! You are a white man in disguise. Who are

Jerry looked down at his chest, and saw what had betrayed him. Two of
the strips of jembal applied by Nisha to the scratches she had made on
his body had been rubbed off in the scuffle. And along the edges of the
scratches his unstained white skin showed. "Since you know this much, I
may as well tell you all," he said. "I am Jerry Morgan of the planet
Earth, which you call Dhu Gong. I got into trouble in the palace, and
had to leave hurriedly in this disguise."

"I have heard of you," said the big man, a look of admiration in his
eyes, "and of your duel with Arsad, Rad of Dhoor. Since you slew the
best swordsman in all Kalsivar, I do not think you will have difficulty
qualifying for the service of Sarkis--that is, if you care to join the

"I hadn't thought of it," Jerry told him, "but it might not be a bad
idea. I'm an outlaw, myself, sentenced to be flayed alive and sprinkled
with fire powder, whatever that is."

"Fire powder is a material we use to light fires with," said the giant.
"It is made from baridium, the same substance used in manufacturing our
lights, and ignites when wet."

"Odd stuff," replied Jerry, "and scarcely a comfortable thing to have
sprinkled on one. But tell me, who are you, and how did you happen to be
doing a slave's work?"

"I am Yewd, the fisherman," said the giant, "and was accused of stealing
a boat. I was innocent, but an enemy brought false witness, and the
seven judges sentenced me to work a year on the excavations with the
band of felons you saw me with."

"Then I presume that you have no cause to love the government."

"You are a man of sound judgment and rare discrimination," laughed Yewd.
"In a nation where justice is a mockery, on what side should any real
man fight? But unfortunately, I have not the skill with the sword which
is likely to save me from becoming a sacrifice to the Sun God."

"Perhaps I can find a way to save you from that fate," said Jerry. "And
I hope you will be willing to forget that I am Jerry Morgan, and
remember that I am Gudo, the slave."

"That I will," said Yewd, heartily. "But what are you going to do about
those white streaks?"

"I'll fix them easily enough," Jerry told him. He took the bottle of
brown liquid from his pouch and stained all the white lines. "How does
it look?"

"A perfect match, Gudo," said Yewd. "That is great stuff if you want to
change your complexion. At present I am satisfied with mine."

His disguise completed once more, Jerry looked down at the landscape
beneath them. It was a vast rolling desert of ochre-yellow sand,
sparsely dotted by patches of thorny creepers with large red flowers.
"Wherever they are taking us," he told his companion, "it must be a long
way into the desert."

"The Torturer and his outlaws have many secret lairs," said Yewd, "and
some of them must be in the desert. But gawrs require much water, and
I'll wager that this time we are being taken to one of the wild marshes
of the district."


"Yes. The creatures that are carrying us. Have you noticed their webbed
feet? They swim as well as fly."

It soon became evident that Yewd's prediction was correct, for the flock
sailed over a sheer precipice which edged what had evidently once been
the shore of an ancient ocean. Now it was a sloping sandy beach which
led down to a marsh, in which a number of small lakes reflected the
slanting rays of the afternoon sun. Around the shores of several of
these lakes were the portable fur huts of a large armed encampment,
dimly seen through a haze of smoke from the thousands of cooking fires.

The lakes were dotted with swimming gawrs with their wings chained down
to prevent their flying away. Armed sentinels were posted on the bluffs
and in a wide circle all about the camp. And a score of them constantly
soared high overhead, keeping watch.

At sight of the returning raiding party, a great shout went up from the
camp. Then a number of warriors caught up their spears and hurried to an
open space among the huts, where they formed a large ring. One of the
raiders dropped to the center of this ring until the net rested on the
ground, while the gawr hovered overhead.

Two soldiers, who had detached themselves from the ring, came forward
and ordered the three captives out of the net. One by one the gawrs
descended, hovered and flew away, until all the nets had been emptied.

The captured men were a motley group, consisting of white, brown, and
black men. But the spearmen who surrounded them were equally diversified
as to color, and more so as to their clothing and ornaments. Jerry
noticed, however, that they had one thing in common. Hanging suspended
on the chest of each was a clear crystal disk about six inches in

The Earthman nudged his giant companion. "What are those disks for?"

"Symbols of their religion," Yewd replied, "and magic instruments with
which they light their fires in the daytime. They are worshipers of
Sarkis, the Sun God. At night they must use fire powder like the rest of

Magic instruments--and for lighting fires. Jerry instantly recognized
them for large magnifying glasses, but he said nothing to his companion.
He noticed a stir in the crowd behind the spearman, and heard cries of:

"Way for His Holy Majesty! Shield your eyes from the blinding glory of
Sarkis, Lord of the Day and Vil of the Worlds."

A path opened up in the crowd of warriors, all of whom instantly raised
their hands before their eyes to salute a most repulsive-looking thing.
It was on a divan that topped a gilded platform, borne on the backs of a
score of slaves. The thing was obviously a man, large and muscular. But
his face was concealed by a most hideous mask of burnished gold,
fastened to a headpiece on which a thick mat of golden threads formed a
bristling, leonine mane.

The sharp hooked nose of the mask was covered with red lacquer, and the
lips were blue against a background of yellow fangs. From behind the
oval slits in the black-ringed eye sockets a pair of glittering eyes
looked forth. The garments were of royal peacock blue, and those parts
of the body which would normally have been exposed--torso, legs, arms, and
hands--were covered with a finely woven golden mesh. He wore a richly
jeweled, gold-hilted sword and dagger. And on his chest there hung a
large crystal disk, fully twelve inches in diameter.

At a sign from the masked figure on the divan, the slaves lowered the
platform to the ground and stood with folded arms on either side of it.

The Torturer rose, and standing in front of his divan, spoke in weird,
sepulchral tones that echoed hollowly in the golden confines of his

"The sacrifice comes first," he said. "Then we will make trial of the

At this, a number of the spearmen herded the prisoners back to a spot at
the left of the divan. Then a lane opened in the lines opposite it, and
through this came a hundred slaves, staggering under the weight of a
large metal platform on which five broad steps had been built. On each
step reclined a man, bound in place by chains tightly drawn around neck,
waist, and ankles. Suspended above them on two poles by means of short
shafts, which allowed it to be turned in any direction, was a tremendous
crystal disk.

This disk, as the slaves lowered their burden to the ground, had its
edge turned toward the sun. But as soon as the platform had been placed
in position, the Torturer raised his hand, and at this signal two men in
yellow robes sprang up beside the poles and swung the disk around,
manipulating it until they had focused the sun's rays in a brilliant
spot of blue-white light, on the floor of the platform just in front of
the lowest step.

This done, the masked figure raised both hands. Instantly the
surrounding multitude began a slow, eerie chant which reminded Jerry of
a dirge. The metal floor of the platform had already become red-hot at
the point where the light focused.

With an expression of horror on his features the man on the lowest step
watched the oncoming spot. As it drew close to him, his skin was seen to
redden from the heat it radiated. Suddenly he shrieked, as the white-hot
light touched his side. The chanting grew louder, and in a moment more
the agonized shrieking ceased, as the concentrated sun rays burned
through a vital spot.

The brilliant, blinding spot traveled onward. One after another the
remaining men shrieked and were silent. The chanting ceased. The smoking
platform with its grisly burdens was carried away.

The two yellow-robed men advanced so they faced both the masked figure
on the platform and the sun.

"Thus, O Sarkis, Lord of the Day and Vil of the Worlds, do thy humble
servants greet thee at thy rising, hail thee at thy meridian, and speed
thee at thy setting, in accordance with the ancient custom," they said,
raising their hands before their eyes.

The Torturer dismissed them with a gesture. "Now we will examine the
prisoners," he announced, seating himself once more upon the divan.

Four men, bareheaded and naked to the waist, emerged from behind the
platform. They stepped in front of the divan and saluted. Two were
white, one wearing an orange cincture trimmed with black, and the other
a plain black cincture. The third and fourth men were brown-skinned and
wore the gray of slaves. A short, squat black man, also wearing the gray
of a slave, now approached the man in orange and black, and held out to
him a sheaf containing a dozen swords. The fellow selected one, and
Jerry saw that its sides, instead of being saw-edged, were smooth and
dull, while its point was tipped by a small oval bulb. The black passed
similar swords to the other three men.

In the meantime, one of the captives, a brown slave, was marched up in
front of the Torturer. He saluted, and took a sword from the black.

The Torturer leaned forward and looked at him appraisingly.

"We have here swordsmen of the first, second, third, and fourth grades,"
he said. "If you would avoid the sacrificial altar you must defeat at
least a fourth-grade swordsman. This will make you a common warrior, and
you need go no farther. But if you are ambitious and would be an
officer, a barb, then you must defeat our swordsman of the third grade.
Defeat the swordsman of the second grade, and you will be made a jen.
And if you can best our swordsman of the first grade, you will be made a
jendus. Defeat at any stage will render you a victim for the sacrifice.
Which swordsman do you choose to fight first?"

"I choose the swordsman of the fourth grade, may it please Your Holy

And as soon as the two contestants had crossed their weapons Jerry saw
that there was good reason for the slave's diffidence. His antagonist
had him at the second thrust, marking him over the heart with a spot of
red pigment which squeezed out of the bulb on the end of the sword.

"To the sacrifice pens," ordered Sarkis, in his hollow, sepulchral
tones, "and bring the next prisoner."

Man after man was brought forward. Some were unable to defeat the
swordsman of the lowest grade, and so went to the sacrifice pens. Most
of those who won the first duel were satisfied to stop there and enlist
in the army of Sarkis as common soldiers. But there were a few who
aspired to higher honors. One of these became a barb, and stopped there.
Another aspired to be a jen, but was defeated by the swordsman of the
second grade.

When the fourth-grade swordsman had fought ten duels, he was replaced by
another. The swordsmen of the upper grades had so little fencing to do
that it was unnecessary to relieve them. Some fifty-odd men had fought,
and a sixth swordsman of the fourth grade was testing, when Yewd, who
stood just in front of Jerry, was called.

"Farewell, Gudo, my friend," he whispered. "If it were to be a spear or
javelin, I would have a chance. But with a sword I am all but helpless."

A shout went up from the crowd at sight of Yewd's giant thews, but as
soon as he had a sword in his hand, his unfamiliarity with that weapon
was instantly apparent. His brown-skinned opponent grinned, played with
him for a moment, and then marked him twice on the chest.

Jerry's turn was next. The surrounding warriors hooted him as derisively
as they had Yewd. But when he selected a weapon, tested its balance, and
whipped it about with the ease and grace of a practiced swordsman, they
grew silent.

The swordsman of the fourth rank advanced with weapon in readiness, but
Jerry held up his hand. "Wait. I would not waste the time of His Holy

"What is this, slave?" asked the masked figure on the throne.

"With Your Majesty's permission, I will engage only the swordsman of the
first grade. I have seen the fencing of these others, and they would
furnish but poor sport for me. But none has yet tried the mettle of this

"Why, this is bold talk," said Sarkis. "But braggarts who cannot make
good their boasting do not long survive among us. Have at him, then."


JERRY found his antagonist a swordsman of unusual talent. And as he
fought, there were many times when he was only able to save himself from
the touch that would have sent him to the sacrifice pen by the agility
which his Earth-trained muscles afforded him on Mars.

And it was this same factor which, in the end, gave him the advantage.
For his opponent, evidently fearful of the derision of the horde,
pressed so fiercely that he tired himself. Soon Jerry was only playing
with the man who had been the idol of the Torturer's warriors. But he
quickly put an end to it by marking the chest of the jendus just above
the heart.

The face of the latter was a study in mixed emotions--surprise, chagrin,
and hurt vanity. But Jerry's attention was distracted from him by the
voice of the masked man on the divan.

"You have made good your boast, slave," he said, "and we are ready to
appoint you a jendus in our army if you will prove your devotion to our
cause by truthfully answering any questions I may put to you. Fail to do
so, and there is still the sacrifice pens. What is your name?"

"Men call me Gudo, the slave."

"Slave of whom?"

"Of Her Highness Nisha Novil."

"Ah! And you mean to tell me that Her Highness would send a swordsman of
your ability to work on the canal?"

"That was where she sent me, Your Majesty."

"Are you of the brown race of Kalsivar?"

"If I am not," said Jerry with a smile, "what am I?"

"That is what I mean to find out--in a moment," said Sarkis. He turned to
a slave and issued a curt order. The latter dashed away, returning a
moment later with a large basin of water. The Torturer took a small
flask from his pouch, and uncorking it, poured several drops of a clear
liquid into the water. After stirring it with his dagger he beckoned to
Jerry. "Come and stand before me," he commanded.

The Earthman did as directed.

Taking the basin from the slave's hands, Sarkis commanded: "Remove our

As soon as he had complied, Jerry was drenched from head to foot by the
contents of that basin. To his surprise and horror, he saw that wherever
the water had touched, his skin had resumed its normal color.

"And now," said the Torturer, a note of exultation in his hollow tones,
"who are you?"

"I am Jerry Morgan of Earth."

"And not the slave of Nisha Novil?" 


"Nor yet a member of the brown race of Kalsivar. Nor do men call you
Gudo. You have lied to me, and you know the penalty. To the sacrifice
pens with him. And see that he is the first victim to greet the great
Lord Sun at his rising tomorrow."

Jerry was hustled away through the jeering crowd to the gate of a large
inclosure, surrounded by a stone wall thirty feet in height. A guard
opened the gate, and he was hurled through by his burly conductors.

A big hand reached out to help him. It was the hand of Yewd, the

"I did not think to see you here," said the giant, "and with your
rightful color restored. This Sarkis must be a wizard, in very truth."

"At least he is a good guesser," replied Jerry, "or what is more
probable, is someone who saw me at the court of Numin Vil.

"There may be some truth in that. I have heard that the Torturer spends
much time away from his army, and that he comes and goes alone in his
great metal flying machine. Each time he leaves, he flies straight
toward the sun until his craft is lost to view, and gives out that he is
returning to his home in the sun."

"I'm afraid he would need a better insulated suit and mask than the ones
he is wearing for a visit to the sun," said Jerry. "Can his people
actually believe he goes there?"

"Many of them do," replied Yewd. "Others, I am convinced, only pretend.
They have joined forces with him because he has always been victorious,
and because his raids afford much loot."

While they were talking the last of the victims from the raid was thrust
into the pen. And shortly thereafter, night fell with the suddenness
common to Mars, where there is little light refraction in the thin dry
atmosphere, and no perceptible twilight. The pen was plunged into
instant darkness.

In the deeper shadow of the wall, Jerry was carrying on a whispered
conversation with Yewd.

"You say the pen is on the edge of the lake, and that the gawrs swim
riderless only a short distance from the shore?" he asked.

"If they remain as they were before I was brought hither. But I don't
see how it will be possible for you to leap to the top of the wall."

"That is a detail you must take on faith. In any event, we are all
doomed men, and an attempt to escape cannot put us in worse case."

"You are right," agreed Yewd. "Let us then pass the word among the
others, and see who is willing to make the attempt with us."

"Tell them to take off their belts and give them to you," Jerry said,
"and I will do likewise. Twenty belts will easily reach over the top of
the wall and to the ground on the other side. I'll meet you here when we
have made the rounds."

A few moments later Yewd and Jerry collided in the darkness. "Have you
some belts?" asked the Earthman.

"More than we need," the giant replied. "I have twenty-seven."

"And I have thirty-two," Jerry told him. "We will construct two lines.
Every man is coming with us, and thus we will be able to get them over
the wall with more speed."

As soon as the two long chains of belts had been fastened together, Yewd
cleared a path for Jerry. Absolute silence had been enjoined upon all,
but there was a subdued murmur of wonder as they heard the Earthman run
and spring, and a moment later saw him outlined against the stars as he
drew himself up onto the wall.

The end of each chain of belts had been hooked to the back of his own
belt. But he left them there for a moment, as he paused to cast a swift,
cautious look around him. There were no guards between him and the
water's edge. Most of the campfires had burned down to beds of glowing
coals, but the sounds of revelry were loud and there was the mixed
medley of songs, and drunken quarrels.

Assured that the way was clear, Jerry swiftly unhooked the two chains of
belts, and lowered one on each side of him until ten belts had passed
each hand and he knew that the ground had been reached. Then he gave one
line a gentle shake, after which he gripped it with both hands and
braced himself on the opposite side of the wall. A heavy weight was
thrown on that chain of belts, but Jerry's powerful earthly muscles were
more than capable of supporting it. And in a few moments Yewd was on the
wall beside him.

Yewd jerked a signal to the men beneath him, and as soon as the line
grew taut, descended on the other side, where he grasped the ends of
both lines.

Retaining his seat on the top of the wall, Jerry directed operations by
signaling to those below each time a man had reached the top of the wall
on either line, until he had counted sixty, and the pit was emptied.
Then, drawing up the ends of the lines, he dropped them on the outside,
and letting himself down as low as possible by hanging on to the outer
rim of the wall, dropped after them.

Silently the men resumed their belts, and then, forming a great human
chain by clasping hands in the dark, they silently advanced to the
water's edge. Here they paused for a moment, while Yewd whispered the
final instructions.

"Remember, not a sound or a splash," he cautioned. "It may be that we
will become separated from one cause or another. If so, our place of
rendezvous will be the southern end of the Tarvaho Marsh. Pass the word
along, then swim out, seize the gawr nearest you, and fly straight

The human chain broke into its units, with the exception of Yewd and
Jerry. Because the latter knew nothing whatever about managing a gawr,
the two had decided to attempt to make their escape on the same

A short swim brought them to the side of a great bird-beast which
snorted and shook its head as the two men climbed to its back. Yewd,
seated in front, unsnapped the ends of the two chains which trammeled
the creature's wings by being hooked through perforations in the
membrane around one of the wing-bones. The double purpose of these
chains became evident to Jerry when, a moment later, the giant fisherman
snapped one to his own belt and the other to that of the Earthman.

"It is customary for a rider to attach both chains to his belt each time
he mounts a gawr," explained Yewd, "to prevent his falling to the ground
in case he slips from his saddle. But since there are two of us, we must
be content with one chain each."

There was a light rod, fastened at one end to a short rope which was
hooked around the gawr's neck, and at the other, to the pommel of the
saddle. The giant now raised the rod, whereupon the great bird-beast
swam swiftly forward, then took to the air with a mighty flapping of
wings. This was the signal which had been agreed upon for the others to
take off. And their advent into the air was followed by a mighty
splashing and flapping all about them.

It was followed, too, by shouts from several of the sentinels who had
heard the noise and thought the bird-beasts had been attacked by some of
the monster saurians which were known to inhabit the marsh.

But before the mounted guards had reached the remainder of the herd, the
sixty stolen gawrs were silently winging their way northward in the
darkness, high above the marsh. Pursuit parties were instantly
organized, to fly in all directions, as it was impossible to tell which
way the fugitives had gone.

In the meantime Jerry and his party flew steadily toward the north,
unable to see each other in the darkness and guided solely by the
blazing stellar constellations overhead, with which every Martian is

Presently, however, the nearer moon popped above the western horizon,
and by its light Jerry saw that the gawr which he and Yewd bestrode had
fallen quite a distance behind the other bird-beasts.

"Looks as if we are going to be late for the rendezvous."

"The creature has a double, nay a treble burden," replied Yewd. "I weigh
as much as two average men, and you are not small, by any means."

They lagged farther and farther behind until their fellow fugitives were
out of sight. Shortly thereafter the beast fluttered groundward despite
Yewd's frantic tugs at the guiding rod. Although they were now flying
over the desert, far to the north of the marsh where Sarkis was
encamped, the bird-beast had selected a small, tree-covered oasis at
which to land.

As soon as it alighted it folded its wings, ran in under the trees and
splashed into a shallow pool, where it knelt, taking sips of water and
refusing to rise or move.

Yewd unsnapped the ends of the chains from his and Jerry's belts--then
fastened them to the gawr's wings.

"We may as well dismount and get some rest, ourselves. It will not stir
from this place until it has fully recovered from its fatigue."

They accordingly got down from the saddle and stretched themselves out
on the sand beneath the thick canopy of trees. Scarcely had they done so
when Jerry saw baridium torches flashing overhead, and looking up, saw a
large party of flying warriors.

"Deza be praised!" exclaimed Yewd. "We have been preserved from capture
by the sudden weariness of our bird-beast, and the thick foliage above
this oasis. Had it continued to fly with us at the rate we were
traveling we should soon have been overhauled."

When the last of their pursuers had passed, Jerry settled down once more
in his bed of sand.

He was awakened by a slanting shaft of bright sunlight, which had
penetrated the surrounding foliage and shone directly in his face.
Sitting up and looking about him, he saw that Yewd had already arisen
and was standing beside the pool looking at the gawr, which had slumped
over in a most unnatural position.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"Come and see for yourself," Yewd told him. "We are in sore straits."

Hurrying to the giant's side, Jerry saw that the bird-beast was dead.
Blood had drooled down from the corners of its beak to form a
congealing, bluish red pool upon the bank.

"What killed it?" Jerry asked.

Yewd pointed to the place where neck and body joined. From this spot
several sharp spines projected through the skin.

"It swallowed a dagger fish. Must have been dying when we mounted it
back at the marsh. The wonder is that the creature carried us this far."

"Looks as if we'll have to walk the rest of the way," the Earthman

"It looks as if we are doomed. For between us and the Tarvaho Marsh is
an immense stretch of trackless desert, inhabited by fierce beasts,
hostile tribes, and deadly insects."


JERRY smiled grimly. "Last night we were in the sacrifice pen of the
Torturer," he said. "Every man in that pen considered himself doomed.
Don't give up hope."

"Although I can see no ray of hope, you somehow give me courage," said
Yewd. "At least we have weapons. There is a sheaf of javelins fastened
to the saddle. I modestly confess that few men are my equal with spear
or javelin. One has to be quick and accurate to spear fish."

He climbed up, removed the sheaf of javelins from the saddle, and after
passing one of the multibarbed weapons to Jerry, slung the rest over
his back.

"It is unfortunate that we have no water bottles to take with us," said
Jerry. "But we had best drink our fill from the pool before we start,
blood or no blood. And now shall we start?"

"I am ready," said the giant.

And so they set off across the rolling dunes of ochre-yellow sand.

When noon arrived both men were tired and thirsty, but there was no
sight of an oasis and pool.

Presently they came to a gently sloping hillside, strewn with gray
boulders, and by mutual consent, decided to pause for a rest.

Jerry sank down on one of the boulders, and to his surprise, found it
soft and yielding. With suddenly aroused curiosity he pricked it with
the point of his javelin and a clear viscous liquid welled forth.

"Look, Yewd!" he exclaimed. "Here is a stone that bleeds."

The giant looked, then dipped a finger into the sticky liquid and tasted

"Deza be thanked!" he exclaimed. "These are not stones, but fungoid
plants that we call torfals. Had you not made this discovery we might
have died from hunger and thirst in the midst of plenty. But this liquid
supplies a balanced ration of food and water."

Jerry tasted the liquid. It was sweet and slightly acid, with a syrupy
consistency, and a flavor that reminded him both of bananas and
muskmelons. Pressing on the skin around the incision he had made, he
drank his fill. Yewd, meanwhile, had tapped another torfal, and was
drinking thirstily.

When both had finished they arose, refreshed, and each taking as many
medium-sized torfals as he could conveniently carry, they plodded on
into the afternoon.

The sun was midway toward the horizon when suddenly, upon crossing an
unusually high ridge of sand they came to a large oasis where the waters
of a small lake gleamed among the tree trunks. With glad cries, they
hurried toward it. But they had scarcely entered its grateful shade,
when they heard shouts, cries, and the clash of weapons from some
distance beyond. They judged from the sounds that a considerable force
of men was engaged in some sort of cavalry battle, but because of the
intervening trees and shrubbery, were unable to see the contest. Here
was a serious situation for Jerry and Yewd. They were hidden for the
moment, but they were in grave danger of being discovered.

Cautiously Jerry and Yewd crept forward in the concealment of the
shrubbery, until Jerry, parting the branches ahead of them, saw two
parties of warriors, each numbering about a thousand men, in deadly

Those nearest the oasis were mounted on the backs of large, two-legged
creatures that were neither true birds nor reptiles. They stood about
five feet high at the shoulder, but their long necks, covered with
bright green scales, held their ugly reptilian heads to a height of ten
feet. These heads were much like those of large serpents, except that
they were tipped by crests of curling white plumes and there was a
sharp, straight horn on the snout of each. Their birdlike bodies were
covered with thick yellow down, and the legs, like the necks, were
armored with bright green scales. The wings were merely short bunches of
white plumes attached to tiny useless stubs.

They were fitted with saddles somewhat similar to those used on the
gawrs, and equipped with large quivers that held the javelins of the

The riders were obviously of the white race, though well tanned by the
sun. Their clothing consisted of cloaks, evidently made from the downy
hides of creatures like those which they bestrode, headdresses of the
white plumes, which were attached to the back of the head and spread
out, fanwise above the face, and cinctures and boots of leather. Their
thighs, arms, and torsos were protected by scaly plates, evidently made
from the leg coverings of their mounts. And in addition to javelins,
sword, dagger, and mace, each was armed with a long shaft like that of a
lance, but tipped with a pair of sharp tongs.

Their enemies were similarly mounted and armed, with the exception that
their mounts had black plumes instead of white, and they used these for
their headdresses. All the riders of both warring factions wore the
crystal disks which marked them as worshipers of the sun.

The battleground was strewn with dead and dying warriors, whose comrades
on both sides fought above them. Although they were using every type of
weapon, their favorite seemed to be the strange shaft tipped with tongs.
With these, riders on both sides seized their enemies and dragged them
from their saddles, the sharp points piercing them deeply.

The chief purpose of the things, as was plainly evident, was not to
kill, but to capture enemies. On each side, Jerry noticed a detail of
warriors guarding wounded prisoners who had been dragged from their
mounts to the back of the lines.

"Who are these people?" Jerry asked his companion.

"Wild desert lorwocks," Yewd replied. "They are ferocious fighters and
slave-raiders. Perhaps you have noticed that the tuzars, the long
weapons they carry, are admirably adapted for slave taking."

"Rather hard on the slaves, I should say. But when those things once
grip them, they have to come."

While they watched, the battle surged nearer and nearer the oasis.
Jerry's attention was attracted to one of the white-plumed lorwocks,
evidently the chief. And though his force was being driven steadily
backward by their black-plumed opponents, he charged again and again
into the lines of the enemy, each time dragging back a limp, bleeding
prisoner at the end of his tuzar, while he fended off hurled javelins
with his sword blade.

But presently, as he returned to the fray, a cloud of javelins descended
upon him simultaneously from many directions. Some he parried and some
he dodged, but there was one that pierced his neck, whereupon he went
limp in the saddle. His mount wandered erratically for a moment, then
turned and charged straight into the bushes where Jerry and Yewd were
concealed. They leaped aside just in time, but the thing stopped and
looked inquiringly at Jerry as if asking him to relieve it of its limp

Yewd sprang in and caught the guiding rod, while Jerry examined the
stricken chieftain. He was quite dead.

"Here are weapons, and a mount for one!" exclaimed Yewd. "If we only had
another rodal, we would not need to walk or fear to encounter armed

At this instant, another riderless mount dashed into the bushes. With a
swift spring, Yewd seized the guiding rod and leaped into the saddle.

"Come, let us be off before the warriors see us," he said.

"No, wait. I have a more ambitious plan," Jerry told him.

Swiftly he removed his own clothing, and stripping that of the dead
chieftain from him, donned it, along with his weapons. The tuzar had
been lost, but the other weapons were intact.

"By the power and glory of Deza!" exclaimed Yewd, when he had finished
and leaped into the saddle. "You seem a very lorwock chief. But come,
let us start before we are detected."

"I have a better plan," Jerry told him. "From what I have seen, I am
convinced that we could not travel far without being traced by these
tribesmen. But if we join them they may accept us as friends and allies.
Will you follow me into that battle?"

"With all my heart."

Jerry handed him all of the javelins but two from his own quiver.

"You prefer javelins--I the sword. Follow closely, keeping off enemies
from my sides and back. I will attend to those in front. Let us see if
we cannot turn the tide of battle."

By this time the black-plumed lorwocks had driven their closely pressed
adversaries into a defensive semicircle by executing an encircling
movement at each end of the line. And the horns of the great crescent
thus formed were swiftly drawing together.

One horn of the crescent had just reached the oasis when Jerry pushed
forward on the guiding rod. His rodal charged.

The Earthman steered his swift mount so that instead of charging with
the other white-plumed warriors, he was riding behind the attacking line
of black-plumes. As these warriors had their tuzars extended toward the
line of white-plumed warriors, they could not use them on him, but could
only turn in their saddles, snatching out their swords or javelins for

Some who thus turned their attention away from enemies in front of them
were instantly dragged from their saddles by the tuzars of the
white-plumes. Some fell beneath Jerry's flashing blade; the others were
pierced by the javelins of Yewd.

As a result, the line of black-plumes was thrown into confusion. In less
than five minutes the entire right horn of their crescent had been
shattered and put to rout. But Jerry continued on through the center and
around to the left horn, cutting and thrusting as he rode, while the
deadly javelins of Yewd kept off enemies from his sides and back.

The Earthman's unexpected coup completely turned the tide of battle and
won the day for the white-plumed lorwocks. With shouts of triumph they
pursued the shattered remnant of their fleeing enemies, dragging them
from their mounts with their tuzars, while others captured and herded
together the riderless rodals. Jerry estimated that at least
seventy-five per cent of the black-plumed warriors had been killed or
captured. The rest were fleeing for their lives.

When the last enemy and rodal had been rounded up, the white-plumed
warriors and their lesser officers crowded around Jerry and his giant
companion. Then one of the jens, who had evidently been constituted
spokesman by his fellow officers, said:

"Though we know not who you are nor whence you came, riding the rodal of
our jendus and wearing his garments, my comrades and I salute you and
your slave, and bid you welcome." So saying, he raised both hands before
his eyes, and all the others followed his example.

"There has been a prophecy among you that a fighting man would come to
lead you to victory," said Jerry. "An impostor, who hides his face
behind a mask, and blasphemously calls himself the reincarnation of
Sarkis the Sun God, has gathered a considerable following. But I tell
you now that I am he who has come in answer to your prophecy. I learned
the art of war on another planet; I am that leader for whom you have
been waiting."

When he had finished he calmly took out his cigarette case, selected a
cigarette, and lighted it. The effect on the lorwocks when they saw
smoke ensuing from his mouth and nostrils was instantaneous. To a man,
they clapped their hands over their eyes and bowed to their saddle

"As I told you," said Jerry, when the warriors ventured to look up once
more, "I do not claim to be the reincarnation of Sarkis. I am Jerry
Morgan of Dhu Gong, and will be so called. I have come to gather the
desert hordes beneath my banner. And those who ride after me now will
have the honor of being the first to do so. For the present, I ride

So saying, he wheeled his mount, and with Yewd following close after
him, rode away. To a man, the lorwocks fell in behind him with their
prisoners and captured rodals.


TWO DAYS after he had achieved command of the white-plumed lorwocks,
Jerry led them down the side of a steep declivity and across an ancient,
boulder-strewn beach, to the shore of a small lake at the southern end
of the Tarvaho Marsh.

"This," he told his jens, "will be our chief camp for the present. From
here we will send messengers to the desert hordes, announcing that a new
leader has come, and that the days of the Torturer are numbered."

At the opposite side of the lake, Jerry saw the gawrs that had been
captured by the escaped prisoners. And on the shore, in their improvised
camp, he saw the prisoners themselves. He called Yewd to his side. "Ride
around the lake," he commanded, "and tell our comrades to cross the lake
and join us."

A half hour later the two forces were joined, and Jerry found himself in
command of eight hundred mounted lorwocks, fifty-nine gawr riders, and
three hundred prisoners. After a conference with his jens, he called the
black-plumed prisoners together and addressed them, telling them he was
going to release them and send them as messengers of good will to the
black-plumed tribes, inviting them to join him.

After he had made his speech he smoked a cigarette to impress them, and
sent them on their way.

In ten days, his forces augmented by thousands of desert tribesmen and
escaped slaves, Jerry made his first raid on the central camp of Sarkis.
Five thousand of his newly recruited men crossed the marsh with water
shoes in the dead of night. Then, while a number of the Earthmen's
lorwocks created a disturbance on the bluffs above the Torturer's camp,
Jerry's men mounted and escaped with five thousand gawrs. As he had
anticipated, Sarkis had placed a guard around the sacrifice pens, but
had thought his flying bird-beasts safe.

When the Torturer learned that it was Jerry Morgan's men who had raided
his camp, he swore that he would bring the Earthman and all of his
followers to the torture platform; and on learning of his camping place,
set out with a huge armed force to crush him.

But Jerry's flying scouts quickly reported the movement of Sarkis's
immense army, and when the Torturer reached the Tarvaho Marsh he found
it deserted.

The Earthman's forces reassembled at a new rendezvous, but not before
they had raided two of the Torturer's lesser camps, in one of which they
captured, in addition to many slaves and much rich loot of all
descriptions, fifty large metal flying machines. Each would accommodate
fifty warriors in addition to the pilot. The glazed windows could be
opened to admit the air, or covered with metal shutters to keep out
enemy projectiles.

When he reached his new rendezvous and distributed the loot, Jerry
found, among other things, several thousand suits of clothing. Among
these were many outfits of rich black material intended for sale to
wealthy commoners. The Earthman selected a number of outfits that suited
him as to size and cut, with appropriate silver-mounted weapons and
silver trappings. And though he might have worn the peacock blue of
royalty, he chose rather to be known as the Commoner.

He also caused pennons to be made of black material, each edged with
silver fringe and centered with a single silver star.

As the days passed, Jerry's army swelled rapidly. Not only was he joined
by the desert hordes, escaped slaves, outlaws, and deserters from the
Torturer's army; even the great nobles of Kalsivar, who were
dissatisfied with the policies of Numin Vil, began throwing in their lot
with him. The fame of his exploits spread rapidly, all over Mars.

But despite his rapid rise to power and unprecedented series of
victories, he was still an outlaw, with a price upon his head. Numin Vil
now believed the Earthman to be the murderer of his son, and even Junia
was convinced by the evidence Thoor Movil had brought forth, Jerry

Numin Vil, further angered by the desertions of many of his nobles, gave
orders that the army of the Earthman should be crushed, his followers
slain without quarter, and himself brought in, dead or alive.

Though he might have brought the expedition sent against him to grief,
Jerry rather chose to avoid it. Deep in his heart was the hope that some
day he might again be in the good graces of Junia--that he might be able
to prove to her that he was innocent of her brother's death.

The Torturer, who had no such scruples as Jerry regarding the imperial
forces, met and surrounded the first expedition, then annihilated it,
killing or capturing every man and officer present. In this battle the
Torturer kept himself well out of sight and ordered the black-and-silver
standards of the Commoner to be shown. Then, at the conclusion of the
battle he permitted several prisoners to escape to Raliad with the story
that the army had been crushed by the forces of the Earthman.

Among those in the imperial palace who listened with bated breath to the
recital of each new exploit of the Commoner, was Nisha Novil. The
Princess had never for a moment given up hope of making him her own.

Accordingly she ordered her luxuriously appointed flying machine one
bright morning, giving out that she intended to visit her estate on the
Corvid Canal. But before she started she had a brief conference with her
brother, Thoor Movil.

"I will make a bargain with you," she said. "Accompanied by your spy,
Wurgul, to show me the way as we had planned, I will visit this Commoner
in his main camp. If he accedes to my wishes I will spare his life. If
not, I will use my dagger. But in case I spare his life, you are to
intercede for him with the Torturer and the Vil. And when you have
become Vil of Kalsivar, you are to spare him. Do you agree?"

"On the one condition that you persuade him to give up his command and
go with you to your country estate. As long as he has an army at his
back he remains a menace."

"I will accept that condition. And now, farewell."

"Farewell, and may success reward your undertaking," said Thoor, rising
and walking to the door with his sister. But he smiled to himself, for
he had already issued special instructions to Wurgul, who was to conduct
her to Jerry's camp.

Nisha was amazed at the size and orderliness of the outlaw camp. It was
a city of portable huts, laid out around a central plaza from which all
streets radiated like the spokes of a wheel. And in the middle of this
plaza was a large hut of black fur.

As soon as the flier had passed over the bluff, two others out of a
score circling above the camp flew up and challenged them. When the
colors of the Princess were shown, her pilot was ordered to descend at a
cleared place on the edge of the camp.

The machine alighted, then came to a stop. The ladder was dropped, and
Nisha Novil stepped out, followed by Wurgul the spy. She was met by an
officer and a squad of men, who accorded her the royal salute. In answer
to her inquiries, they told her that the Commoner was in camp,
conferring with his jens, and summoned a multiped vehicle for her.

Accompanied by the officer and Wurgul, she rode along one of the streets
of the camp until they came to the central plaza. Here they were
challenged by a guard, who insisted that both the Princess and her
follower deposit their weapons with him before going farther.

Nisha protested, but when she saw that it would be impossible to proceed
without complying with this order, surrendered her jeweled dagger, and
ordered Wurgul to give up his sword, dagger, and mace.

A soldier raised the silver curtain which draped the central doorway of
the black hut. And the officer who had come with the two visitors,
announced: "Her Royal Highness, Nisha Novil."

Nisha swept into the room with Wurgul at her heels, and caught sight of
Jerry. Seated among his officers, his black clothing and plain silver
trappings contrasted oddly with their brightly colored garments and
their gold, platinum and flashing jewels. Yet, as he rose to greet her,
she saw that he was easily the most striking figure in that assemblage.

"This is an unexpected honor and pleasure, Your Highness," he said,
rendering her the royal salute. "May I present my nobles and officers?"

"Later, Jerry Morgan. At present I am wearied by my journey. And I have
a message for your ears alone."

"It shall be as Your Highness wishes," he told her. Then he addressed
his men: "The meeting is adjourned until I send a new summons."

The nobles and officers arose and filed out, each saluting the Princess
as he passed her. When the last man had gone, there remained only Jerry,
Nisha, and Wurgul. The Earthman looked significantly at the spy,
whereupon the Princess ordered him to wait outside the door for her.

"Won't you be seated and have some pulcho?" invited Jerry. He indicated
his own swinging divan and a small taboret beside it on which stood a
steaming flask of freshly brewed pulcho, surrounded by a dozen
jewel-encrusted platinum cups.

Nisha sat down and Jerry filled a cup for her. After she had accepted
and tasted it he filled another for himself, and stood before her.

"You need not be formal, Jerry Morgan. Come and sit here beside me."

"Indeed, I prefer to stand for a while," he replied. "I have been
sitting in conference all morning. And now won't you tell me in what way
I may be of service to you?"

"You-you make it so difficult for me, with your formal ways."

"I'm sorry," he answered. "My intentions are quite the reverse."

"When last we parted," she told him, "you were to think over a certain
matter, for the space of one senil. At the end of that time we had
arranged for a rendezvous at my country place on the Corvid Canal. But
the rendezvous was not kept, nor have you vouchsafed me an answer. I
have been so lonely for you--so hungry for even a small sight of you.

"Once more I offer you all that any man might desire--myself, my love,
and the wealth position and power which will fall to the lot of my
husband. Think, Jerry Morgan. Before another senil has passed I will be
sister to the Vil of Kalsivar. Give up this futile life of outlawry and
come with me to my country estate. There we can be quietly married, and
I can promise you that within a senil your power in Kalsivar will be
second only to that of the throne, itself, for you will be the
brother-in-law of the Vil."

"I hope you will believe me, Highness," replied Jerry, "when I say that
it grieves me more than I can say to decline your offer. As you say, I
am an outlaw, under sentence of death. And furthermore, I am indebted to
you for life itself. But somehow, marriage is a thing I have always
associated with love. And unfortunately, love is a thing which cannot be
coerced or commanded. Where love enters, it commands. We who are its
subjects can only obey, no matter where its dictates lead us."

At this Nisha's black eyes flashed and Jerry expected another outbreak.
But it did not come. Instead, she arose and said meekly: "Then this is
the end. It is farewell forever. Let us not part in anger."

Slowly she walked up to where he stood, arms outstretched.

"One last kiss," she whispered.

Her hand hovered above the silver-mounted hilt of his dagger. With a
sudden, snakelike movement she seized it, wrenched it from its sheath,
and lunged for his breast. But the Earthman was too quick for her. He
caught her wrist in a grip of iron, wrenched the weapon from her grasp.

In the meantime Wurgul, who had been standing outside the silver
curtain, engaged the guard who stood there in a conversation. While they
conversed, he managed to move against the curtain in such a way as to
push it back, permitting him a glimpse into the room. He saw that Jerry
was standing with his back to the doorway, holding the wrists of the
raging Princess.

For an instant, he fumbled in the folds of his head-cloak. Then, with one
hand still concealed, he raised the other and pointed skyward. "What
strange craft is that?"

As the guard looked up, Wurgul's other hand came out from beneath the
folds of his headpiece, clutching a short, straight dagger. The blade
flashed downward--plunged into the guard's back up to the hilt.

Wurgul turned, flipped back the curtain, and ran noiselessly up behind
the Earthman. Nisha saw him coming, but save for a widening of her eyes
made no sound or sign. He lunged straight for the unprotected back of
the Earthman.


AS JERRY held the raging little Princess away from him, he suddenly
noticed that her eyes had gone wide, as if she had seen something
startling behind him. He flung her back across the divan, and whirled
around just in time to see Wurgul lunging at him.

There was no time to seize a weapon, but Jerry blocked the stroke with
his left hand against the wrist of the assassin. Then he drove a
smashing right to the point of Wurgul's jaw. The spy slumped to the
floor, unconscious. At the same moment an officer and a half dozen
guards rushed into the room.

"This murderer just slew Shuvi, the guard," cried the officer. "Stabbed
him in the back."

"Put him in the prison pen. I'll attend to his case later."

As two warriors carried out the still unconscious Wurgul, Nisha came to
her feet. "I suppose I, too, must go to the prison pen," she said
defiantly. "Or perhaps you will order my execution at once."

Jerry smiled grimly down at her. "Neither," he answered. "You sought
only to take that which you once saved for me--my life. I have not
forgotten, and I am not ungrateful. You are free to go."

At this Nisha laughed bitterly.

"You are a generous fool, Jerry Morgan," she said. "If you were wise,
you would keep me here--make me your slave. I warn you that once I am
free, I will leave no stone unturned to compass your ruin."

Jerry turned to the officer, who stood with his four men, awaiting
orders. "You will conduct Her Highness to her flier."

Nisha walked out with head held high, and in her black eyes was the
feral gleam which the Earthman knew meant trouble.

Jerry sat among his officers, conferring on future plans of campaign
until a late hour. One thing they had all urged upon him was that he
should select from among his followers two men who would be his constant
companions night and day, in addition to the regular guard.

He chose Yewd, the giant fisherman, and a black dwarf named Koha, a
queer, misshapen creature whose brawny arms were longer than his legs,
and whose great shoulders were as broad as those of the giant. He could
throw daggers with deadly accuracy, and carried a heavy, long-handled
mace with which he had bested many a swordsman by the simple expedient
of smashing through guard and skull.

The Earthman had dismissed his officers, and was preparing to retire for
the night, with Koha stretched across his doorway, and Yewd standing
guard behind his divan, when a messenger came running up to the doorway.

"A herald has arrived from Sarkis the Torturer," he announced.

"Admit him," said Jerry.

With Yewd standing on guard at one side of his divan, and Koha at the
other, Jerry awaited the herald, who said: "I bear a challenge from His
Holy Majesty, Sarkis, Lord of the Day and Vil of the Worlds. Tomorrow
afternoon, when the great Lord Sun has spanned three-fourths of the sky,
His Holy Majesty will leave his entire army on the Heights of Lokar,
which overlook the Plain of Ling, and will ride along to the center of
the plain.

"If Jerry Morgan is the leader that he claims to be, he will leave his
own army on the Heights of Lokar, which overlook the plain from the
opposite side, and ride down alone to do battle with the Lord of the
Day. And there, within sight of the two hosts, let the issue of single
combat determine who is the true leader foretold in the prophecy, and
who the imposter."

"You will await my answer outside," said Jerry. Then, as the herald
passed through the curtained doorway, he turned to the giant fisherman.
"What think you of this, Yewd?"

"Though my poor wits fail to read the riddle," replied the giant, "they
plainly tell me that there is one. Perhaps this Sarkis honestly believes
he can beat you in single combat. But it is not his way to take such a

"And what think you, Koha?" asked Jerry, turning to the dwarf.

"I think the Torturer wishes to bring the two armies together so there
may be a great battle, which, by some trick, he is confident of winning,
though there be little difference in strength," said the black man.

"And yet," said Jerry, "I cannot do otherwise than accept this
challenge. To fail to do so would smack of cowardice."

"That is true," agreed Yewd.

"It would seem that the Torturer has put us in a position where we must
walk into his trap. Let the herald remain outside, and call a conference
of the officers."

This was done, and for some time Jerry was cloistered with his men. Then
he sent for the herald. When the fellow entered, he said: "Tell Sarkis
that Jerry Morgan accepts his challenge."

The herald saluted and departed. But as soon as he had gone, the camp
began to dissolve away in the moonlight. Piece by piece, the portable
fur huts came down, were rolled up and stowed on the backs of the
pack-rodals, along with all other camp articles and utensils.

Before the night was an hour older, a vast cavalcade, shadowed by a
flapping host of gawr riders, climbed up onto the plain, and started in
the direction of the Heights of Lokar.

"Always do what the enemy expects you not to do," Jerry bad told his
officers. "Sarkis will expect us to leave tomorrow morning, so we will
leave now. Thus, we will be the first on the field, and in a position
perhaps to thwart him, or to leave if a trap is revealed."

Jerry's army reached its objective without incident, and pitched camp.
Save for the sentinels on duty, all the men were permitted to sleep late
the following morning, so they would be fresh for battle. But to Jerry's
surprise, morning and noon came and went without a sign of the Torturer.

Presently, however, near midafternoon, his gawr sentinels announced the
approach of a vast horde. Shortly thereafter the army of the Torturer
took up its position on the Heights of Lokar, facing them across the
Plain of Ling, and the black cloud of gawr riders which accompanied it
settled to the ground.

After a delay of more than two hours, during which the Earthman watched
with bated breath, a lone warrior mounted on a rodal came trotting down
the hillside toward the center of the plain. The slanting shafts of the
late afternoon sun were reflected by the burnished gold of his mask.

Yewd had his rodal and weapons in readiness, and it was but the work of
a moment to mount and ride down the hillside at full charge toward the
gold-masked champion.

The latter, on seeing Jerry, halted his beast near the middle of the
plain and waited, evidently in no hurry to begin the engagement. He
carried a tuzar, but Jerry, who had not mastered this weapon, carried a
long, stout-shafted lance, instead.

As soon as the Earthman came within a hundred feet of his enemy the
latter lowered his tuzar and charged. Jerry couched his long lance, and
with it pointed at the breast of his adversary, urged his beast forward.

The masked rider, however, swerved his mount, and while Jerry's lance
encountered only empty air, the sharp points of the tongs clamped into
the Earthman's hips. He was jerked from the saddle, and his enemy rode
swiftly toward the enemy lines, dragging Jerry over the rugged ground.

A mighty cheer went up from the lines of Sarkis, at sight of this easy
victory for their champion.

In the meantime, Jerry seized the tongs and dragged himself to a
standing posture. Then, still clinging to a tong with his left hand, and
sailing over the ground with tremendous leaps, he unhooked his heavy,
saw-toothed mace from his belt and brought it down with all his strength
on the shaft of the tuzar.

The tough wood cracked, but the long fibers still held. Again and again
Jerry hacked at that stubborn shaft. It seemed ages before the last
fiber snapped, and he fell free, his mace flying from his hand, while
the tongs released their hold and clattered after him.

Half stunned and covered with blood, bruises, scratches, and dust, Jerry
lay on his back, breathing heavily. From the corners of his eyes he saw
his adversary wheel his mount, and flinging away his useless shaft, draw
a sharp, multibarbed javelin from the sheath at his back.

Cautiously, the masked man rode toward his fallen and motionless
antagonist, his javelin in readiness. Jerry was breathing more easily,
now, and felt his strength returning. Suddenly he saw the javelin arm
fly back--the deadly barbed missile hurtling straight toward him.

In a flash he had rolled over, just out of reach of that keen point. And
then, before his enemy had divined what he was about, he sprang to his
feet and bounded straight for the hideously masked figure. The mounted
warrior reached for another javelin but before he could withdraw it from
the sheath the Earthman had sprung up behind him and caught him with an
elbow crooked about his armored neck.

Now it was the turn of the masked man to be jerked from his saddle.
Jerry, while they fell, had released his hold on his enemy and alighted
catlike on both feet. He whipped out his sword and turned to face his
adversary. The latter got up and drew his own sword.

For some time both contestants fenced cautiously. Then Jerry, after a
swift feint, found the opening he sought, and lunged straight for his
opponent's breast. His point went true to the mark, but his blade bent
double and snapped in two. In an instant he realized that the masked man
wore a metal breastplate. With a triumphant laugh his enemy drove a
savage blow.

Jerry saved himself from death by a quick leap to one side. Then, before
the masked man could draw back from that lunge, he struck again with the
broken stump of his sword. But this time, he plunged it with unerring
accuracy, through the right eye-slit of the golden mask--through the eye
and into the brain of his enemy.

At this, a tremendous shout went up from the army of the Earthman. It
was answered by jeers from the army of the Torturer, and Jerry, looking
in the direction of this strange demonstration, saw the reason. For the
Torturer himself was being borne on his platform of state, straight down
toward the front of his own lines.

Jerry wrenched the stub of his sword from where it was wedged in the
bony orbit of his fallen foe. Then he tore the mask from the lolling
head. The dead face that looked up at him was that of the jendus he had
defeated in the Torturer's camp.

Hurling the hideous mask from him, Jerry turned and walked back toward
his own lines. Two riders dashed down to meet him, Yewd and Koha. The
white giant led a saddled rodal. The black dwarf brought him a new sword
and a flask of steaming pulcho.

After a copious draught from the flask, he mounted and rode back to his
headquarters. Here his chief surgeon awaited him, and cleansed and
dressed his wounds while he held conference with his officers.

Despite the furious anger of his men, however, Jerry ordered his
officers to hold the men in check.

"Have I not always counseled you," he said, "to do what the enemy
expects you not to do? If we go into battle with the army of Sarkis now,
we will be doing precisely what he expects us to do. We will sit quietly
for a time--and see what happens. When the time comes, we will make some
plans of our own."

Scarcely had he finished this pronouncement when one of his gawr scouts
came sailing down out of the sky. Dismounting, he ran up before the
Earthman and saluted.

"Numin Vil is coming up behind us with a vast host," he cried excitedly,
"which outnumbers our force at least two to one! We are trapped between
two mighty armies!"


THERE was consternation on the face of the officers, but Jerry, standing
in their midst, smiled confidently. "Just as I suspected. It is well
that we did not attack the army of Sarkis, for then, weakened by our
losses, we should have fallen an easy prey to the forces of Numin Vil."

As a matter of fact, this was the last thing Jerry had suspected. But
now he must think, and think fast, if his command was to be saved from
annihilation. He knew, also, that his men must be given something to do
to keep up their morale.

"Pack equipment," he ordered, "but do so in such a way that the enemy
will not notice. For the present, leave the huts standing. But have them
ready to pack at a moment's notice."

As his officers hurried away to carry out his orders, Jerry sat down and
poured himself a cup of pulcho.

"Why not march south or north?" suggested Yewd. "We are only hemmed in
from the east and west."

“You surprise me, Yewd. What do you think our enemies would be doing, in
the meantime?"

"I don't know."

"Nor do I. But I believe they could and would march south or north as
fast as we, in the meantime gradually converging upon us from both
sides. And they might corner us in a much worse place than this hilltop,
where we have some advantage of position."

"But even our lofty position will not avail us against such superior
numbers," said Koha.

"If it could, we should have no problem," Jerry said. "But since we have
a problem, I am seeking to solve it. Fetch me a gawr, and I'll have a
look about."

The dwarf waddled hurriedly away, returning a few moments later with a
saddled bird-beast. Jerry mounted, pulled up on the guiding rod, and
soared aloft. First he flew out over the Plain of Ling, and had a look
at the army of Sarkis. There was considerable activity among the hordes
of the Torturer.

He turned, and soaring higher, flew back across his own camp toward the
forces of Numin Vil. As he urged his great flapping bird-beast onward,
the sun dipped suddenly beneath the horizon, and the rolling desert
below him was lighted only by the pale rays of the farther moon.

Presently, he described the advancing army of the Vil of Kalsivar. It
was a formidable host, and he knew that it would be disastrous to pit
his smaller force against it. He calculated that, unless Numin Vil
struck with his aerial forces first, he would not be able to attack, for
at least a half hour. Accordingly, he turned and flew back to his own
camp as fast as his bird-beast would carry him.

Before he reached his headquarters the farther moon had set. But
campfires had been lighted both in his own camp and in that of the
Torturer, and by these he was able to locate his own hut, and descend.

Here he found his chief officers clustered, more panic-stricken than
before. But he had made his plans now.

First, he ordered all fires quenched. Then the huts were dismantled and
packed with the other equipment. As soon as this had been done, all in
pitch darkness and with a minimum of noise, he formed his little army
into a great triangle, with the pack-rodals in the center, the rodal
cavalry forming the three sides, and the gawr riders and metal fliers
flapping in wedge formation overhead. Though he might have ridden on a
gawr, or in one of the metal flying machines, he chose rather to lead
the main body of his army, and so rode at the point of the triangle
which faced the position of Sarkis, with Yewd riding close at his left,
and Koha at his right.

It was difficult for the men to see each other's positions in the gloom,
and there were some collisions as they charged straight for the position
of the Torturer. Scarcely had they crossed the plain when the vanguard
of Numin Vil appeared on the heights they had just deserted, carrying
his baridium torches.

Urging his men to greater speed, Jerry led them up the hill. At any
moment, he expected a countercharge from the forces of Sarkis, and was
puzzled when it was not forthcoming. The twinkling campfires were
burning as brightly as ever, and he could see men moving back and forth
before them. But as he drew closer, he saw the reason. Not one of the
vast city of huts which had been there that afternoon was standing, nor
were there any rodals in sight.

The giant Yewd saw the situation almost as soon as the Earthman, and
burst into noisy merriment.

"By the might of Deza! The Torturer played a neat trick on us. And had
you not decided to give him battle, we would now be back on the Heights
of Lokar, vainly striving against the powerful forces of the Vil."

"We haven't escaped yet," said Jerry. "Numin Vil is close behind us, and
the nearer moon is due to rise soon." He called to the officers who rode
nearest to him. "Pass the word along to break up into small groups, and
scatter. Let all lorwock warriors return to their own tribes, and remain
with their families and friends for the space of ten days. At that time,
our meeting place will be the Marsh of Atabah. Let those who have no
tribes or families to return to, live where they will in small groups
until the time for our rendezvous arrives.

"I go, now, to the Atabah Marsh, with my fliers."

He signaled a large airship which had been flying overhead, and it
settled swiftly to the earth before him. Then he dismounted and entered,
accompanied by Yewd and Koha.

Swiftly and quietly his orders were carried out. So that by the time the
forces of the Vil had passed the Heights of Lokar and the nearer moon
had risen, the trail they followed had split up into many, which spread
out fanwise, and gradually grew more tenuous as they advanced, until
there were a thousand small trails, no single one of which it would be
worth the while of an army to follow.

Jerry led his flying contingent straight to the Atabah Marsh. A few
portable buts which had been stowed in the airships were set up. But
most of the gawr riders bivouacked under the clear sky, wrapped in their
furs. Later, their pack-rodals, if uncaptured, would be in with the rest
of the huts and supplies.

As the Earthman sat in his hut, eating a meal which Koha had hastily
prepared, and sipping his pulcho, the more he thought about it the more
he was convinced that the Torturer had some purpose beyond that of
involving him in a battle with the forces of Numin Vil.

Accordingly, he called in the jen of his scouts, and ordered that a
hundred gawr riders take the air at once, flying in all directions, to
bring him news as to the locations of both Sarkis and Numin Vil.

As soon as the jen of scouts had gone out, he sent for his jen of spies.
After a brief conference it was decided that twelve spies, each starting
alone and leaving at irregular intervals, should fly to Raliad and
attempt to learn what was taking place there.

Early the following morning Jerry was awakened by the black dwarf, who
proffered him a cup of steaming pulcho, and said: "A spy has just
returned from Raliad with important tidings. Will you see him now?"

"Admit him," said Jerry.

A small, mild-mannered brown man in the garments of a slave entered on
Koha's invitation. "What have you learned, Eni?" asked Jerry.

"Sarkis is in Raliad."

"What! You mean he has been taken prisoner?"

"Far from it. While Numin Vil was pursuing our army, the Torturer led
his forces to the west gate of Raliad. His appearance was a signal for
those in sympathy with the revolution to fall upon the loyal soldiers
and guards who remained. The gates were thrown open to him by traitors,
and he marched straight to the palace with almost no opposition.

"All the members of the white nobility who were unable to escape were
either slain or made prisoners. The brown nobility have been assigned
their ranks, titles, and estates and the brown prince, Thoor Movil, has
been proclaimed Vil of Kalsivar."

"But Junia! What of her?"

"She is a prisoner in the palace. And the Torturer has offered her the
choice of marrying Thoor Movil, or dying under the burning disk."

"And has she made a choice?"

"That I have not heard."

"But what of Numin Vil?"

"He returned to Raliad late last night, but the gates were closed to
him, and the warriors of Sarkis manned the walls. He attacked
repeatedly, but each time was driven off with heavy losses. Early this
morning he withdrew his forces and pitched his camp on the Plains of
Lav, within sight of the city."

"You have done well, Eni," said Jerry, "and I will see that you are
suitably rewarded. Await my further orders outside."

As the spy saluted and backed out of the doorway, Jerry turned to his
two guards and counselors.

"At last we begin to see the depth of the Torturer's cunning," he said.

"This time it seems he has outguessed me, though I was able to defeat
part of his plans. It was his intention to dispose of me, to wipe out my
army, and to weaken the army of Numin Vil, all this while he was
capturing Raliad."

At this instant a guard drew back the curtain and announced: "Algo the
spy, from the camp of Numin Vil."

"Let him come in," said Jerry.

A tall, soldierly white man of middle age, dressed in the uniform of the
Palace Guard, entered and saluted.

"Eni has told me what befell last night," Jerry told him. "Who set Numin
Vil on our trail?"

"It was Nisha Novil," said the spy. "Yesterday afternoon she came
hurrying into the audience chamber, and asked for an immediate hearing
on a matter of grave importance. It was granted, and she told the Vil a
slave of hers, returning from her country estate on the Corvid Canal,
had flown near the Heights of Lokar on his gawr, and had seen your army
encamped there.

"Numin Vil sprang down from his throne, ordered a force assembled, and
set out at the head of it, bent on annihilating us."

"She said nothing about the force of Sarkis being encamped opposite us
on the Heights of Lokar?"

"Not a word."


Jerry sprang up from his divan.

"That will be all, Algo. You may return to the camp of the Vil, and
report in two days."

As Algo saluted and withdrew, Jerry turned to Koha.

"Fetch me the clothing of a palace slave, I am going to the imperial
palace in Raliad."


DISGUISED as a brown-skinned palace slave with the crystal disk of a
sun-worshiper on his breast, and mounted on a swift, sturdy gawr, Jerry
flew toward Raliad, unheeding the picturesque scenery which unrolled
swiftly beneath him.

On sighting the imperial palace, Jerry soared high above it in order to
select the best place for a landing. He saw that the Torturer had
stabled a number of his gawrs in the lagoons of the palace roof garden,
something Numin Vil had never permitted. However, this made it easier
for Jerry to reach his objective; he decided to land on the roof of the
palace itself.

He accordingly selected the lagoon which was nearest that side of the
edifice on which he knew Junia's apartments to be situated, and soared
down to the sloping beach. A brown-skinned attendant, who wore only a
leather breechclout, came hurrying up.

"You cannot alight here, slave," he said, gruffly. "Only the warriors of
Sarkis and Thoor Vil may stable their gawrs in these lagoons."

Without replying, Jerry untied and tossed him the thong which held the
end of the guiding rod to the saddle. Then he sprang to the ground.

"Have I not said that you cannot land here?" demanded the attendant.

"Fool!" said Jerry. "I'm the bearer of important tidings for His Holy
Majesty. Would you like it known that you have delayed me? For such as
you there is the burning eye of the Lord Sun."

"Forgive me, my lord," said the attendant, abjectly. "I did not know you
for a messenger of the Holy One."

"See that my mount is well fed and watered, and hold him here in
readiness for my coming, as I may be leaving soon, in a hurry."

"I hear and obey, my lord," replied the attendant, saluting

Jerry swaggered away in the direction of the nearest vehicle tunnel. But
as soon as a turn in the walk took him out of sight of the attendant, he
slipped off through the shrubbery toward the thick wall that edged the
roof. Here he mounted a stairway, and, going to the edge of the wall,
peered over the balustrade.

It took him but a moment to identify the balcony of Junia, which was in
the upper row, by the swinging divans with their golden chains and
cushions of peacock blue, flanked by taborets of gold inlaid with lapis
lazuli, which could only adorn the apartments of the Vil or his
immediate family.

Reaching beneath his head-cloak, Jerry now took out a coil of light,
tough rope. Going to a point directly above one end of Junia's balcony,
he made one end of the rope fast and dropped the coil. It fell among the
potted shrubs, and the Earthman noted that it reached all the way, with
a good twelve feet to spare.

After a swift glance around, to make sure that he was not observed, he
swung over the balustrade and slid down the rope, alighting on the
balcony without a sound. Cautiously, he made his way among the plants to
a point opposite the window, and peered between them into the apartment.

His heart pounded wildly as he caught sight of the girl who meant more
to him than life itself. Junia was seated before a small taboret, loaded
with a variety of dainties. A brown-skinned slave girl was urging her to
eat, but she would only sip a little pulcho from a tiny jeweled cup.

As he crouched there in the shrubbery, deliberating as to the best way
to approach her, he suddenly saw a look of loathing come over her
features. She was gazing toward another part of the room which he could
not see. Someone had entered--an armed man, evidently, for he distinctly
heard the clank of weapons.

Then Jerry recognized the hollow, sepulchral tones of Sarkis the

"I have come for your decision, Princess. The great Lord Sun nears the
zenith, and the time for the noon sacrifice is near at hand. You will
give me your word, now, that you will wed with Thoor Vil at once, or you
will go beneath the burning eye."

Again there was the clank of weapons, and the Torturer stepped into view
before Junia. Behind him came two burly black warriors.

The girl stood up, and said defiantly: "You have asked for my answer.
Take it then, nameless one who hides behind a mask lest his face be
identified with his own evil deeds. I will not marry the false Vil, my
cousin, and your puppet. You have offered me two choices, but Deza
presents a third."

So saying, she suddenly turned and sprang through the window.

"Seize her!" shouted the Torturer. Before she was halfway across the
balcony one of the burly blacks had her.

At this Jerry whipped out his sword and sprang from his hiding place. A
single bound brought him directly in front of the astounded guard, and a
sweeping cut sheared through the fellow's head from crown to chin.

"Courage, Highness," he said, as Junia jerked her arm free. He whirled
to confront the second warrior, who ran at him with his point extended.
Deftly the Earthman parried the thrust, then caught the charging black
on his blade.

The masked Torturer was now running toward the door which led to the
hallway, bawling for the guard. Jerry snatched his mace from his belt
and hurled it with all his might. It flew straight to the mark, smashing
into the rear of the golden helmet and flattening the Torturer upon the

Leaping over his foe, Jerry reached the door and shot the bolt, just as
a considerable body of men came rushing up from the outside. When they
found the door locked they began hacking at it with their weapons, but
Jerry knew it would be some time before they could break through.

Sheathing his sword, he caught up his mace and replaced it in his belt.
He was tempted to tear the mask from the face of the recumbent Torturer,
but knew that he must make every second count in order to carry out his
plans. Snatching a blue-and-gold curtain from a doorway, he ran out onto
the balcony. Junia was standing near the railing.

"Who are you?" she asked. "Don't come near me or I'll jump."

For answer, he cleared the space between them at a single bound and
flung the curtain over her.

"I know you now, Jerry Morgan," she said, "for there is no other man on
Mars who can jump like that. Release me."

"You must trust me, Highness," he said, bundling the fabric more tightly
about her slender figure, "for I have come to save you. If you resist
you will only put us both in peril."

"How can I trust the murderer of my brother?"

But Jerry had no time to reply. Flinging his bundle over his shoulder,
he hurried to where the rope trailed on the balcony. With his dagger he
cut off a twelve-foot length, and quickly made a sling by which he swung
the girl across his back. He could hear the door of the apartment
splintering as he started to climb, hand over hand, toward the
balustrade above.

The attendant, seeing the strange bundle upon his back, looked
surprised, but Jerry said, sharply: "Bring me my mount quickly, fellow!
Can't you see I'm in a hurry?"

Evidently still puzzled, yet afraid not to obey him, the man waded into
the shallows and led the great bird-beast out onto the sand.

Jerry climbed into the saddle, made the thong of the steering rod fast,
and, unhooking the safety chains from the gawr's wings, hooked them
through the rings in his belt. At this instant there was a shout from
the nearest tunnel mouth, and a group of warriors came running out.

"Stop him!" called an officer. "Stop that slave! He has stolen the

The Earthman lifted the guiding rod and the huge bird-beast, after
running clumsily along the beach a few feet, spread its great wings and
took to the air.

As soon as he was out of javelin range above the palace roof, Jerry
turned his mount's head toward the Plains of Lav beside the Corvid
Canal, where he had heard that Numin Vil was encamped. He planned to
restore Junia to her father, then escape before his identity was

Scarcely had he flown across the palace area when a score of warriors
mounted on gawrs rose in pursuit. The Temple of Mercy lay directly in
his path, and on this he saw that one of the Torturer's immense burning
glasses had been placed. This was surrounded by a group of yellow-robed
priests, who were encircled by a company of brown warriors, some of whom
led gawrs.

As he flew straight toward them, one of the warriors chanced to look up.
Instantly he called the attention of his companions, and in a moment
they had mounted and soared aloft to head off the Earthman.

Jerry was now faced with the necessity of flying across the city, almost
at right angles to the course he would have chosen. Some time passed
before they flew over the great wall which marked the edge of Raliad.
Jerry knew that sooner or later, with his doubly laden bird-beast, he
would be overtaken and slain unless he could reach a body of his own
flying warriors. Accordingly he tried, by turning the head of his mount
a little at a time, to steer a course toward the Marsh of Atabah.

He had flown thus for some time when he suddenly noticed that the sun no
longer beat down upon him. Looking up, he was astounded to see that it
was obscured by the upper fringe of an immense, red-dish-brown cloud
which, trailing backward and downward like a ragged, twisted garment,
reached clear to the ground.

Never, in all his experience on Mars, had Jerry seen a cloud but he had
been told of the terrific sandstorms which sometimes swept the face of
the planet.

There could be little question but that the cloud now bearing down upon
him with such amazing speed was a cloud of sand and other debris picked
up from the surface of the land by tremendously powerful winds. He saw a
ragged streamer creep up on his pursuers. It caught them. For a moment
they were tossed about like leaves in a gale, then the cloud swallowed
them up.

Swiftly Jerry let down his head-cloak and drew the transparent, flexible
mask with which it was equipped across his face. Tucking the cloak down
around the precious bundle on his back, he awaited the onslaught of the
storm. He noticed that his mount dropped a transparent inner eyelid over
each eyeball, and a thinly perforated membranous flap over each nostril.

There was a roaring, rumbling noise behind him now, that swiftly
increased in volume until the sound was deafening. Then the storm

At the first impact of that giant force the gawr turned completely over,
and for a moment Jerry hung from his safety chains. Whirling, hurtling
particles of sand beat against his clothing and mask, sifting into the
interstices and getting into his eyes, ears, and nostrils. The gawr
righted itself, and he dragged himself back to the saddle, gripping the
horn and clinging with all his strength.

The world above, below and around him was blotted out by a maelstrom of
flying sand.

Hours passed thus, and still the storm showed no sign of abating.
Presently the gawr began fluttering weakly, and turning over and over,
sank rapidly groundward.

Suddenly it struck a solid object with a terrific impact. Jerry was
hurled forward with such force that the safety chains tore out his belt


WHEN Jerry regained consciousness someone was shaking him, calling his

"Jerry Morgan, speak to me! O Deza, grant that he still lives!"

He opened his eyes and looked up into the frightened face of Junia,
bending over him as he lay on his back in the sand. The slanting rays of
the afternoon sun shone brightly down from a clear sky.

"Junia!" he exclaimed. "Are you all right?"

"Yes. And you?"

He sat up and his head throbbed painfully. Exploration with his fingers
revealed a lump that was sore, but not dangerous.

"Apparently I collided with something as hard as my head," he said,
getting dizzily to his feet, "but there are no permanent injuries."

Junia did not reply. As soon as she had learned that he was not badly
hurt her manner had altered perceptibly. And Jerry guessed the reason.
She could not feel other than antagonistic toward the supposed murderer
of her brother.

"Highness," he said, "I wish I could prove to you in some way that I am
not guilty of the-the crime which you seem to think I committed."

At this she turned on him and said, almost fiercely: "I wish to Deza
that you could! But mere assertion proves nothing."

He walked over to where the bird-beast was lying, half-buried beneath a
drift of sand. It was breathing heavily, with its great membranous wings
outspread, and its head stretched out upon the ground. He pulled up on
the guiding rod, but when he released it the head dropped back as

With the flat head of his mace he scooped the sand away from one side.
Suddenly he noticed blood in the sand around the wing, close to where it
joined the body. An examination revealed the fact that the bone was
snapped asunder. The gawr would never fly again, and he realized that it
must be suffering horribly.

Resolutely he walked to where the head lay on the ground anal, raising
his mace, drove the keen saw-teeth down through the creature's skull
into its brain. "We will have to walk," he called to Junia.

"Apparently," she replied, "since you have just destroyed our only other
means of transportation."

"If you will look at the gawr's left wing, you will see the reason."

At first she seemed determined to do nothing of the sort, but presently
her curiosity got the better of her, and she walked over and looked.

"Oh, the poor creature!" she cried. "And you slew it to end its
suffering. Forgive me, Jerry Morgan."

"Willingly," he answered. "And now have you any idea where we are?"

"I'm afraid I can be of no help," she said, "for this terrain is as
strange to me as to you. And the desert, after all, is much alike all
over Mars."

He removed the sheaf of javelins from the saddle of the bird-beast and
slung it over his shoulder. Then he rolled up the hanging in which he
had carried the girl, wrapped the rope about it, and slung it beside the

"Come on," he said. "Let us climb to the highest sand dune we can find.
Perhaps we will be able to sight something besides desert."

The highest dune in sight lay to the northwest of them, and toward this
they plodded through the soft sand. Upon mounting to its top they made
out, far to the south, a chain of low hills sparsely dotted with
vegetation. In every other direction there were only barren dunes of
ochre-yellow sand.

"Where there is vegetation there may be food and water," said Jerry.
"Our best plan will be to go south."

A walk of some five miles brought them to the foot of the hills they had
descried from a distance. On close inspection they did not look so
inviting. The sparse clumps of vegetation were mostly thorny shrubs that
offered neither food nor shelter. And there was no sign of water.

They reached the top after a short climb, and Junia cried out in pleased
surprise at the sight which lay before them. They were looking down into
a green valley, through which a narrow stream meandered. Here was water,
and perhaps food, for plants and shrubs which grew along the banks of
the stream made it probable that there would be edible fruits or nuts.

With renewed hope in their hearts they hurried down the hillside, and
made straight for the stream. Rinsing his folding cup, Jerry offered it
to Junia. But she declined it, and drank from her cupped hands. They
remained beside the stream for some time, drinking and bathing their
faces in the cold water. Then Jerry arose.

"I think we had best be going," he said. "The sun is low, and as yet we
have found neither food nor shelter."

Without a word she arose and followed him along the river bank.
Presently, he noticed a fin cleaving the water near the shore. He drew a
javelin from his sheath and cautiously stalked it. Presently it came
close under the bank, and he drove the multibarbed weapon straight down
through the water in front of that fin. It struck something solid.

But scarcely had he driven the point home when the haft was wrenched
from his hand. An immense and hideous head on a long scaly neck reared
itself high above him, taking the javelin with it, and he saw that he
had speared the neck of a huge saurian.

The giant water lizard opened an immense mouth that was armed with a
triple row of sharp, back-curved teeth, and, with a loud hiss, darted
straight for this thing which had had the presumption to annoy it with a

For a moment Jerry stared, too astounded to move. But when he saw it
darting toward him his Earth-muscles carried him straight back in a
tremendous flying leap to where Junia stood.

The saurian floundered up out of the water on two immense flippers,
hissing angrily, and dragging an amazingly huge body out onto the bank.

Jerry caught Junia up as if she had been a child and, turning, sprinted
away at his best speed. The saurian turned back toward the river, still
hissing its anger and shaking its neck to dislodge the annoying javelin.

When he had placed a good mile between himself and his pursuer, Jerry
stood Junia on her feet once more, and paused for a short breathing

"I thought I had speared our dinner," he said, "but I came near
furnishing a dinner, instead. What do you call that thing?"

"It is a histid," she replied. "They are quite common in wild marshes
and lakes."

"Well, this histid has made a vegetarian out of me," said Jerry. "I no
longer have the craving for fish that I had a few moments ago."

They moved on once more, following the curving bank of the stream.
Presently the ground grew soft and boggy beneath their feet, the water
oozing up around them at each step. Then suddenly, with a peculiar
sucking sound, a round trapdoor in the bog flew open just in front of
Jerry, and a long, slimy thing as large as a boa constrictor darted out.
At the end of the thing was a white sucking disk, which clamped itself
to the Earthman's chest. He was lifted off his feet, then dragged
downward to the very rim of the hole beneath the trapdoor, which was
about three feet across.

Jerry bridged himself across that hole. The slimy thing that had seized
him threshed about beneath him, almost tearing the skin from his chest
in its efforts to drag him down. Then he heard a scream from Junia.

Supporting himself with his knees and left hand, he snatched his long
dagger from his belt with his right. Then, with the keen edge, he cut
through his slimy enemy, just below the sucking disk, and sprang erect.
Junia was being fought over by two of the things, which had seized
her simultaneously.

Transferring his dagger to his left hand, Jerry whipped out his sword
with his right, sprang forward, and simultaneously severed the two snaky
necks. Then he sheathed his dagger and, throwing Junia over his
shoulder, ran across the sucking ooze toward the higher ground.

The two severed disks still clung to Junia, one on each side of her
waist. Drawing his dagger, he slit one from side to side with the point,
then peeled it away. Beneath it, the blood had begun to ooze through a
thousand little punctures in the soft white skin. Swiftly he removed the
other, and then slashed and ripped off the one that clung to his own

Taking a bottle of jembal from his belt pouch, he applied the antiseptic
gum to her wounds. Junia was pale and trembling.

"Once again you have saved my life, Jerry Morgan," she said. "If only..."

Yes, I know. Somehow, some day, I'm going to prove to you that I am

"Deza speed the day!" she said. "And now, let me dress your wound."

She took the bottle from his hand and deftly applied the liquid gum. She
had finished dressing his wounds and was handing him the bottle when
suddenly her eyes went wide.

"Look! Look behind you!" she exclaimed.


AT JUNIA'S cry Jerry whirled around, then gave a low whistle of
amazement. A monstrous thing was wading toward them across the narrow
stream. As he gazed, it emerged upon the bank, a gigantic and hideous
bird, fully forty feet in height.

Its long lean neck and scrawny body were leathery and bare of feathers.
On its huge head was a waving crest of plumes. Its beak, which was four
feet in length and two in width at the base, was hooked like that of an
eagle. The short wings were covered with sharp spines in lieu of
feathers. The long scaly legs were adaptable either for wading or
swimming, and there were leathery webs between the toes, which were
armed with immense, sickle-shaped talons.

"What is it?" Jerry asked.

"A koroo," Junia told him. "The aquatic cousin of the koree, the great
man-eating bird of the desert. Like its desert relative, it is fond of
human flesh. But the koroo is much larger and considered far more

"It's certainly big enough," he replied. "We would just make about one
mouthful apiece for it. Do you think it has seen us?"

"I think not. Let us move away as slowly and quietly as possible, and
seek a place of concealment."

Slowly, cautiously, they crept up the stony bank. Jerry, meanwhile, kept
a sharp watch on the monster, which raised its plumed head to its full
height and cocked an eye in the direction of the fleeing couple. At
sight of them its crest rose and its horny wings, which had been hanging
at its sides, were suddenly elevated to a horizontal position. Then,
with a peculiar booming cry, it charged swiftly toward them.

"It sees us!" said Jerry excitedly. "We may as well spring for it, now."

He caught up Junia, flung her over his shoulder, and started up the
hillside with huge leaps that almost matched the giant strides of the

Jerry ran as he had never run before. But the fifteen-foot legs of the
monster koroo shortened the distance between them with alarming
rapidity. Soon the Earthman could hear its stertorous breathing behind
him. Then he noticed a dark hole in the hillside, just in front of him.
Like a hunted animal seeking cover, he plunged into it.

He took his baridium torch from his belt and unhooded it, flashing it
about to assure himself that there was no formidable creature lurking
there. He was in a roughly circular cave, about thirty feet in diameter,
with a twelve-foot ceiling. Swiftly he ran to the opposite side of the
cave and faced about.

The koroo was now peering into the hole, its head cocked to one side.
Seeing its intended prey standing in the back of the cave, it lunged
forward. But its long neck would only negotiate about half of the
distance, and the opening was not large enough to admit its shoulders.

Temporarily baffled, the monster backed out and began scratching and
tearing at the opening with its immense talons. After it had enlarged
the hole considerably, it again lunged forward. This time its shoulders
passed through.

Jerry took a javelin from the sheaf he carried and, running up close to
the hideous head, plunged it into one huge, glaring eye.

With a squawk of pain the koroo backed out of the cave, shaking its head
and clawing at the shaft of the weapon in an effort to dislodge it. The
barbs held, but the shaft was snapped off like matchwood. Blinded in one
eye, the man-eater again hurled itself into the hole. Once more Jerry
ran forward, and this time threw a javelin with all his strength into
the other eye.

Again the giant bird backed out, shaking its head and clawing at the
shaft. Then it lost its balance and rolled end over end down the steep
hillside, loosening a small avalanche of stones and gravel. About
halfway down it brought up against a huge boulder with a crash, and lay

Drawing his sword, Jerry half slid, half ran, down the hillside to where
the koroo lay. He pricked it with the point, but it did not respond.
Sheathing the larger weapon, he took out his dagger, and, after laying
back a section of the leathery skin on the breast, cut out a large slab
of meat. With this he returned to where Junia waited in the cave mouth.

"At last we have food," he said, depositing the meat on a flat boulder.

"I have never heard of anyone eating koroo," she said.

"Nor I," replied Jerry, "but I'm hungry enough to eat crushed rock."

Swiftly he gathered a pile of dry brush and dead leaves, and powdering a
small quantity of the latter, lighted them by focusing the rays of the
setting sun on them with his crystal disk. Soon he had an efficient
cooking fire crackling, and when it had burned down to a bed of glowing
coals, grilled several slices of the meat.

Politely he passed the first slice to Junia. She attempted to bite off a
piece, but was unable to so much as dent it with her teeth. Jerry tried
another with similar results. It tasted like a slab of sole leather
flavored with fish oil, and was neither palatable nor chewable.

"There seems to be an excellent reason why you never heard of anyone
eating koroo," he told Junia.

"Apparently," she replied. "Yet the flesh-flies seem to enjoy it."

She nodded in the direction of the carcass, and Jerry, following her
gaze, saw that virtually nothing remained but the picked skeleton. A
half dozen huge insects still walked about it, as if looking for stray

"They are welcome to my share," he said. "After all, I believe I should
prefer to tackle crushed rock. But if we may not eat, we can at least
sleep. The sun is low, and we had best make our preparations for the

When Jerry awoke in the morning his first thought was of Junia. How
little and helpless she looked, sleeping there wrapped in her blue
curtainl A fiercely protective feeling surged up in him as he turned to
face this strange and hostile world.

Cautiously he removed a stone or two of the barrier he had erected the
night before, and peered out. But there were no enemies in sight, so he
soon had the opening cleared out.

The sound of his labors awakened Junia, and she quickly joined him.
Together they went down to the stream to drink and wash.

"Shall we hunt upstream or down?" Jerry inquired. "I think we would do
well to keep near the water."

"Down," Junia voted. "We would be going in the general direction of

Their hopes rose as they rounded a bend in the little stream, for it
emptied into a large river. In the middle of the river was a very
sizable island, and Jerry scanned the shore attentively.

"Junia, does that look to you like a boat?"

"I believe it is."

"That means human beings, and food. I'll swim across and find out."

"Don't leave me behind!" she pleaded; she followed him into the water,
leaving the curtain robe behind.

They struck out firmly for the island, breasting the slight current, and
landed near the object they had spied from the other shore. It proved
indeed to be a boat, wide, flat and wooden. In it lay two wooden
paddles, a net, and a multipronged fishing spear. And there was the
remnant of a narrow path leading up from the shore, where the ground was
so packed by footsteps that the weeds which had grown over it were

"Maybe the people who left this boat here also left an empty dwelling we
can use," said Jerry. "Shall we investigate?"

"By all means," Junia replied. "It will be bitterly cold after sunset,
and neither of us is equipped for it. If there is a dwelling of some
sort, we can at least build a fire and keep warm."

They were suddenly startled by a terrific roar, followed by a crashing
in the underbrush. Then a huge black dalf burst into view, and charged
at them with bared fangs.

Stepping in front of Junia, Jerry whipped out his sword and awaited the
beast. But when it came quite near him, it stopped suddenly, sniffing in
his direction and growling softly. Then he noticed that it had a
tarnished, gold-plated collar around its neck, on which was the

Neem, the dalf of Thaine

Evidently, thought Jerry, this beast was half minded to be friendly.

"Quiet, Neem," he said.

The great beast pricked up its ears and ceased growling.

"Come here, Neem," Jerry went on, lowering his sword and holding out his

The dalf came forward slowly, evidently still suspicious. Then Junia
spoke to him, at the same time stepping from behind Jerry. As soon as he
saw her, Neem gave violent manifestations of an exuberance of joy. Soon
she was rumpling his head, while Neem stood, leaning lightly against
her, with his eyes half-closed, the picture of contentment.

"I must resemble his former mistress," said Junia. Then she went on
musingly: "I wonder who this Thaine could have been."

"Perhaps we can solve the riddle if we find the house of Thaine," said
Jerry. "The sun is due to set in a very short time. Let us start

He led the way up the path, with Junia and the dalf following closely
behind. But presently, when he emerged in an open glade in the center of
the wood, the trail disappeared entirely. And a careful look around
disclosed no sign of a house.


AS JERRY and Junia stood in the little sunlit glade, Neem, the great
black dalf, stood between them, gazing up at, first, one and then the
other. Apparently he wondered why they had stopped.

"No sign of a house here," said Jerry.

At the word "house," Neem pricked up his small ears. Then he seized a
fold of the head-cloak which Junia wore, and began tugging gently.

"Go ahead. Show us the house, Neem," she said, encouragingly.

At this, the beast turned and trotted toward a vine-covered mound, his
flat, spiked tail proudly elevated. He led them through a small opening
in a leafy screen of tangled vines, and behind it they saw a door cut in
the supposed mound, which turned out to be an irregularly shaped house
covered with vines and creepers.

"The place is certainly well concealed," said Jerry. "Thaine must have
been hiding for some reason."

Rearing up, the dalf pressed on the latch with one huge paw, then
shouldered the door open and went in. Jerry and Junia followed him into
a large room, comfortably furnished with swinging chairs and divans.
There were three circular doorways cut in the walls, leading to the
other rooms. And at one end was a large fireplace, around which were
various utensils, and beside which a shelf held a number of dishes,
cups, and the like, all of which were of gold, skillfully engraved and
set with jewels. A shelf on the other side held a number of covered
jars, such as the Martians use for the storage of foods.

"Evidently the lady was quite wealthy," said Jerry. "Those dishes and
jars look as if they came from a palace."

"They did. On each is the mark of the royal house of Xancibar. It must
be that Thaine had some connection with the house of Miradon Vil."

"Or perhaps with a gang of burglars. In any case, we eat!"

And eat they did. It was some time before they troubled to examine the
three other rooms. One was obviously the sleeping room of a man--a mighty
huntsman, judging from the weapons and the collection of trophies.

The second room was used for storage. In it they found considerable
quantities of dried and preserved provisions, as well as boxes of
clothing, sleeping furs, fire powder, and other necessities.

The remaining room was unmistakably the boudoir of a girl, with its many
chests of feminine apparel, and its dainty jeweled boxes of cosmetics.
There were weapons here, also, but smaller and lighter than those in the
sleeping room of the man.

Junia immediately took possession of this room, and Jerry retired to the
room of the hunter. He bathed, then took the bottle of depilatory which
he had long since substituted for his razor and went to the mirror to
remove his beard. Putting down the depilatory, he returned to his belt
pouch, and getting the bottle of clear liquid, filled a jeweled gold
basin with water at the bath box, added a few drops of the chemical, and
removed the dye from his skin and hair.

He got out the bottle of black hair dye, and with it redyed his hair and
eyebrows and stained his beard jet black. Then he opened several chests
until he found what he wanted--boots, cincture and head-cloak of brown,
pliable leather like those worn by huntsmen. These he speedily donned.

His toilet completed, Jerry opened the door to the living room and saw,
to his surprise, that Junia was there before him. She had kindled a fire
in the grate, and had a pot of fragrant pulcho brewing. Like Jerry, she
had chosen huntsman's leather in preference to the blue and gold raiment
which was at her disposal. She was bending over close to the fire,
preparing a pot of hunter's stew, a mixture of dried meats, berries, and

Hearing the sound of his footsteps behind her, Junia turned, took one
look at him, and uttered a piercing scream. Instantly, Neem the dalf,
who had been lying stretched near her, sprang up with a roar, and
plunged straight for the Earthman.

Neem, after charging up to within three feet of Jerry, suddenly stopped,
sniffing the air. Then he hung his head, the bristles on his back
receded, and with a most crestfallen manner he returned to his place by
the fire.

"Sorry to have startled you," said Jerry. "I thought I made sufficient
noise coming into the room.

"It wasn't the noise, but the change in your appearance," Junia said. "I
should never have known you.

"Then perhaps my plan will work," Jerry told her, continuing: "Junia, I
want to take you back to your father, and when I do, I would like to
remain and help him. Without my help, and that of my army, it is
probable that he not only will never be able to retake Raliad, but that
the Torturer may completely crush his army."

"Just what is your plan?"

"I would go as I am, disguised as a huntsman from Xancibar, who found
you in this marsh. As a reward, your father should be glad to give me a
post in his army. I am a soldier by profession--have made a study of the
art of war. With my help, and that of my warriors, who I am sure I could
persuade to reinforce the Vil's army, your father will be able to drive
the Torturer from Raliad and retake his empire."

"I suppose you realize," she said, "that if my father should recognize
you, or if you should be betrayed by someone else, he would have you put
to death without compunction. And even with the-the barrier that stands
between us, I should not want that to happen."

"I know," he agreed. "And for a crime I did not commit."

"That remains to be proved," she reminded him. "And I have prayed every
night that you may prove your innocence."

"Bless your heart!" For a moment Jerry laid his large brown hand over
her small one.

They sat there before the fire, toying with their pulcho cups and making
their plans for the morrow.

"I found a map which shows our location," said Junia. "We are in the
midst of the Takkor Marsh, on the rim of which is situated Castle
Takkor. The Raddek of Takkor is within the Empire of Xancibar, and
subject to its ruler."

"Then how far are we from Raliad?" asked Jerry.

"I have computed the distance at four thousand jahuds," she replied.

"May I see the map?" he asked.

She rose and went into her room, presently reappearing with a roll of
waterproof silk, which she spread on the taboret. "Here is our location
in the center of the marsh," she said, pointing to a tiny red dot on a
small island.

He looked at the map more closely. "It appears that we are about two
hundred jahuds from the Corvid Canal," he said. "That will take us
straight to Raliad. We are five hundred jahuds from Dukor, capital of
Xancibar, and only fifty from Castle Takkor. Why not go to the castle
and ask the Rad for the loan of a couple of gawrs?"

"I am surprised at you, Jerry Morgan," she said. "Have you forgotten
that Sarkis is in Raliad, and that Thoor has been named Vil?

"We know not what treaties may have been concluded between Kalsivar and
Xancibar during our absence. It may be that the Rad of Takkor would
place us under arrest and send us to Raliad. Perhaps Thoor and Sarkis
have offered a fabulous reward for our return."

"I bow to your superior judgment," he said, "and apologize for being so
thick-witted. Naturally, if it would not be wise to go to Castle Takkor,
it would be equally unwise to go to Dukor. But if we go straight to the
Corvid Canal, disguised as a huntsman and his sister, it may be that we
can take passage on one of the boats for Raliad."

"Have you thought of the matter of passage money?"

"No," Jerry admitted. "And I suppose the boatmen won't take promises.
Perhaps we'll have to steal a boat."

"Fortunately not," she replied. "I found a well-filled purse in the
bottom of a chest in Thaine's sleeping room." She put a small,
gold-embroidered silk bag on the taboret, and opening it, disclosed a
considerable sum of gold and platinum pieces stamped with the mark of
the Vil of Xancibar.

"Take the purse," she went on, "and if we succeed in reaching my father
I will learn the whereabouts of this Thaine, and reimburse her."

Jerry pushed the purse back to her. "You take charge of it," he said.
"And now, how about what I asked you? Will you permit me to assist your
father in my character as a huntsman?"

"I'll sleep on that," she told him, rising and yawning prettily. "Good


THE EARTHMAN arose early, and went down to the bank of the stream to
prepare the wooden boat for their journey across the marsh.

The fragrant aroma of boiling pulcho greeted him as he opened the door,
and Junia cheerily called him to breakfast. This consisted of several
kinds of dried fruits, which she had stewed, and the inevitable pulcho.

Their breakfast over, they carefully selected the provisions and
supplies which they would take with them, with a view to keeping their
packs as light as possible, for they would have to walk across the
desert a distance of about seventy miles before reaching the Corvid
Canal. Then it might be necessary to walk ten or fifteen miles farther
before reaching a boat station.

When they had loaded and strapped on their packs, with a rolled
sleeping fur attached to each, Jerry went into the huntsman's sleeping
room and got his weapons. After replenishing his supply of javelins from
a large sheaf on the wall, and pouching a half dozen bottles of fire
powder, he was ready.

Neem accompanied them down to the boat, and when they were ready to push
off, Jerry called to him. But instead of getting in with them, he took
the tie-rope in his mouth, and plunging into the water with it, pulled
them out into the middle of the stream, then stopped, looking back at

"Why, I believe the beast wants to tow us!" exclaimed Jerry.

"Of course," Junia told him. "That is what all marsh-reared dalfs are
trained to do. I'll guide him."

She sat down in the front of the boat, and unrolling the map, spread it
over her dimpled knees.

"To the right, Neem," she said.

The dalf obediently turned and started away, dragging the boat after him
with a speed which Jerry could never have equaled with a paddle.

A two hours' ride through the marsh brought them to a wide sandy beach
strewn with boulders, behind which towered a row of rugged, frowning

"The desert starts at the edge of those cliffs," said Junia, glancing at
her map. "And a hundred and forty jahuds beyond lies the Corvid Canal."

They left the boat on the beach, and shouldering their packs, climbed up
among the boulders to the base of the cliff. Here they consumed a
laborious hour in scaling the precipice, then emerged into the desert.

After a brief rest, they started off across the ochre-yellow sands.
Presently, a growl from Neem attracted Jerry's attention, and he looked
in the direction toward which the dalf was gazing. He saw that several
rodals were coming swiftly toward them.

They were riderless, and had obviously run thus for some time. It was
apparent that these were the survivors of a clash between desert
tribesmen. The rodals came to a halt a short distance away from the
travelers. Jerry turned to the girl.

"Suppose you wait here with Neem to guard you, and I'll see if I can
catch a couple of rodals. I'm accustomed to handling them."

The nearest rodal had stopped at a patch of sand flowers about half a
mile away, and Jerry walked slowly toward it. As he drew near, he saw
that it was engaged in hunting the large insects and small rodents and
reptiles which make up the diet of these desert steeds. It raised its
plumed, snaky head at his approach, and stood staring at him. At this,
Jerry made a sound used by the desert lorwocks to call their mounts,
while he continued to saunter closer.

The rodal was puzzled. It looked around several times, as if half minded
to sprint away. Again Jerry called. This, and his slow, careless
approach seemed to reassure it. Almost before the creature was aware of
it, the Earthman had his hand on the guiding rod, and had vaulted into
the saddle.

Once on the rodal's back, Jerry was in complete command. And the matter
of capturing a second mount for Junia was easily accomplished. Soon they
were speeding across the sands on their tireless desert steeds, with
Neem loping along beside them.

At noon they halted in a small oasis for rest, food, and pulcho. Then
they pressed onward, and late that afternoon sighted the black stone
wall which, topped by sentry towers at intervals of one jahud, or
approximately a half mile, guarded the Corvid Canal.

They now took a course parallel to the wall, and just out of sight of
the sentries, until they came to a tower above which was a small replica
of a ship. This indicated that it was a station where boats stopped for
passengers and freight. Here they abandoned their rodals and waited
until sunset.

A short walk in the dim moonlight brought them to an arched opening in
the wall. A sentry on the wall above the gate flashed his baridium torch
in their faces and challenged them.

"Who are you, and what do you want?"

"I am Jandar the Hunter, with my sister Thaine, and her dalf. We have
left our hut in the Takkor Marsh, to seek passage for Raliad."

"Have you passage money?"

"We have saved a little from the sale of our furs," replied Jerry, "and
would see the wonderful sights in the greatest city of all Mars."

The sentry called to someone below him, and a moment later the two
massive doors beneath the archway swung outward. A voice called:

They went in side by side, with Neem trailing at their heels, and
traversed the dimly lighted passageway which led through the wall. This
brought them up before a corpulent, red-faced officer in the uniform of
Xancibar, at whose back stood two stalwart guards. The officer sat on a
swinging chair before a taboret, with a baridium torch dangling above
his head. A scroll of waterproof silk was unrolled before him. Beside it
was an ink pot, and in his hand was a writing brush.

"Name?" he rasped at Jerry.

"Jandar the Hunter."


"Takkor Marsh."

Dipping the brush into the pot of ink, he made the entry on the scroll.
Then he turned to Junia with the same questions. She replied that she
was Thaine the Huntress, also from the Takkor Marsh.

Having entered this, he glanced at the name plate on the dalf's collar,
and wrote it down on the scroll. This done, he said:

"It is not strange that there should be two dazzlingly beautiful Thaines
in Xancibar, nor yet that there should be two black dalfs named Neem.
But that there should ever have been two such Thaines, each with a black
dalf named Neem, is passing strange. Also, I have heard it said that Her
Highness, the Vil's adopted daughter, lost her black dalf Neem in the
Takkor Marsh some time ago. I wonder if this could be the same beast."

"I see nothing strange in the fact that my sister was named after Her
Highness, nor that she should name her black dalf after the beast which
belonged to the Vil's adopted daughter," said Jerry. "And," he
continued, laying his hand on the hilt of his sword, "I resent the
insinuation of theft which your words seem to imply. I wait to hear you
retract them."

"You take a strange tone for a mere hunter," said the officer, looking
the Earthman over with the practiced eye of a military man. And though
the officer was not accounted a bad swordsman, the cool self-assurance
of the young man who stood before him did not make him at all anxious to
press matters further. He sat down heavily, and continued: "But after
all, hunters have their rights, as does every citizen of Xancibar,
however humble, under the just role of our mighty Vil. And as His
Majesty's representative, it is my duty to see that you get justice. I,
Hazlit Jen, retract the insinuation, and wish you and your sister a
pleasant trip to Raliad. Shortly after the rising of the nearer moon a
large passenger boat going your way will dock here. In the meantime,
there is a small cabin boat tied at the wharf. If you care to pay the
price, it might be that you could charter it for the trip."

Jerry removed his hand from his hilt and saluted. "We are beholden to
you for your kindness. Come, sister. Let us interview the boatman at the

At this, the bulky officer arose.

"Permit me to interview Padrath for you," he said. "I know the fellow.
If he thinks you are in a hurry, he will want to charge you double or
perhaps treble fare."

Intuition instantly told Jerry there was something amiss. "Don't trouble
yourself. If we find the boatman unreasonable, we will wait for the
passenger ship."

"Ah, but I insist," wheezed the officer, crowding past them and waddling
down to the dock, where a small narrow craft with a cabin of iridescent
crystal was moored.

With a whispered warning to Junia to remain quiet and keep the dalf with
her, Jerry softly stepped upon the deck, and tiptoeing to the cabin
door, crouched there, listening. For the most part, the conversation was
indistinguishable, but he did make out the words: "Junia, Crown Princess
of Kalsivar," "Thoor Vil," and "a reward of ten thousand platinum

Noticing that one of the bulky shadows inside had gotten up, he quickly
stepped back to the dock.

A moment later, the door opened and the red-faced officer squeezed

"All is settled," he wheezed, "and at a great bargain for you. I,
myself, am going with you and will pay half of the charge, which my
friend Padrath has made very nominal for my sake. I had intended going
tomorrow, but tonight will do as well. Bear with me but a moment, and I
will be with you."

He waddled off hastily in the direction of the tower.

"What did you hear? What does it all mean?" asked Junia.

"It means," replied Jerry grimly, "that the fat, red-faced jen has
recognized you, and has conspired with the boatman to take us to Raliad,
that they may collect the reward of ten thousand platinum tayzos which
Thoor Vil has offered for your return."

“And knowing this, you mean to go with them?"

"We have no choice in the matter. To attempt an escape over the wall,
patrolled as it is, would be extremely dangerous and would only put us
back where we started if successful. This way the danger will be equally
great, but at least we will have the satisfaction of knowing that we are
drawing nearer to our destination. And some opportunity for escape may
present itself before we reach Raliad."


SO FAR as physical comforts went, Jerry and Junia were pleasantly
installed on a pile of cushions in the cabin of Padrath's swift little
boat. The boatman himself sat in the front of the cabin on a saddlelike
seat, manipulating the two driving levers which controlled both the
speed and direction of the craft. The corpulent, red-faced officer
occupied a cushion across from them, and Neem, the black dalf, snoozed
at their feet.

Under any other circumstances it would have been pleasant to glide
swiftly and smoothly over the placid waters of the canal, leaving a wake
of ripples that sparkled in the mellow light of the farther moon.

Presently, some time after the nearer moon had risen, Jerry said: "You
are weary, little sister. Close your eyes and sleep."

"And what of you, big brother?"

"I would watch this strange scenery," he told her.

"It is no more strange to you than to me, and not a bit less

Near midnight, Hazlit Jen brought a pan of charcoal, ignited it with a
pinch of fire powder and a splash of water, and brewed pulcho. After
passing a cup to the boatman and one to Junia, he filled one for Jerry
and handed it to him. But the Earthman noticed that before he picked it
up, he held the palm of his hand over it for a moment. Accordingly, he
held the cup without tasting it, and then as the officer filled his own
cup, said:

"A whim of mine, Hazlit Jen. Among huntsmen it is a custom for good
friends to exchange cups." He pressed the cup into the officer's left
hand and took the one he had poured for himself.

The man's face grew redder, and he flashed a suspicious look at Jerry.

"To a swift journey and a safe arrival," said the Earthman.

Having gone this far, Hazlit Jen was forced to raise the cup which Jerry
had handed him. But as he slid so, it slipped from his hand.

"Clumsy of me," he wheezed, catching up the cup and hurling it through
the porthole as if his temper had got the better of him. Then he filled
another cup.

Shortly thereafter, Hazlit Jen settled back among his cushions and was
soon snoring lustily.

"We must get some sleep," Jerry whispered to Junia, "for a long journey
lies ahead of us. You sleep first, and I will watch. Then, when you
awaken, I will get some sleep."

When the Earthman awoke, the sun was at the zenith. And Junia was busily
engaged over the charcoal pan, preparing their noon meal. The appetizing
odors made Jerry ravenous, and he did full justice to the meal, paying
extravagant tribute to the skill of the cook.

They invited Padrath and Hazlit Jen to join them, but both declined,
saying that they were not hungry, and would prepare their own food

After they had eaten, Jerry and Junia went out on deck where Neem was
basking in the sunlight, and fed him the remainder of the anuba steaks.
Then they sat down to enjoy the sunshine and the scenery that was
slipping past them.

Far below them was the drainage canal, swarming with boats and
fishermen. And across the thirteen-mile chasm was the other irrigation
canal which watered the opposite terraces, its larger craft plainly
visible in the clear air.

At intervals of about two hundred jahuds, cross canals bridged the chasm
on tremendous arched structures of metal and stone, connecting the two
upper canals and making it possible for boats to cross directly from one
to the other without using the slower systems of locks which occurred at
equal distances, and connected both with the lower drainage canal.

The sun was low in the west when Padrath turned in to one of these
transverse channels and crossed to the irrigation canal on the opposite

As they turned into the other canal, the sun set, and night fell
suddenly with its blaze of sparkling stars in a black velvet sky, and
the pale farther moon preparing to follow the sun beneath the western

Lights flashed on in the teeming craft that swarmed on the canal, the
houses that dotted the terraces, and the watchtowers upon the wall. And
Padrath unhooded the baridium torch that lighted the small cabin. The
boatman then rose, and turning over the control levers to Hazlit Jen,
sauntered out upon the deck, closing the door after him.

For a time he stood looking at the passing towers and stroking his bushy
beard. Then he said: "We should make the border of Kalsivar before the
farther moon sets. I suppose you two have passports."

"Why, no, we haven't," replied Jerry. "I didn't know they would be

"They are. But a few platinum pieces will serve as well. I know an

"How much will it cost?" asked Jerry.

"Five tayzos should be enough."

"My sister carries our money," said Jerry. Then he turned to Junia. "Pay
the boatman five tay..." he began. But at that instant something
descended upon his head with terrific force, felling him to the deck.
Fortunately for him, he had coiled the leather lasso inside his
head-cloak to conceal it, and this saved him a crushed skull.

Almost as soon as the blow fell, there was a low growl from Neem. Then
the big dalf, with a quickness that was surprising in a creature of such
great bulk, leaped straight over the fallen Earthman, There was a
muffled shriek, and a crunch of shattered bone. Then Padrath fell to the
deck with the dalf on top of him, his head crushed like an eggshell.

Jerry sprang dizzily to his feet, and grasping Neem by the collar,
pulled him off his fallen assailant. A single glance told him that the
boatman was beyond all human aid.

Feeling sure that Hazlit Jen, who had tried a more subtle method of
assassination only a few hours before, was in on the plot, Jerry tiptoed
to the cabin door and softly opened it. The officer sat at the controls,
looking straight out through the front windows and piloting the craft
through the canal traffic with undiminished speed.

Jerry quietly closed the door. Then he returned to where the corpse lay,
and tearing off a piece of the head-cloak, heaved it into the water. With
the fabric he mopped up the blood, then dropped it overboard.

He turned to Junia.

"I am going into the cabin to try to learn the plans of Hazlit Jen," he
said. "First give me five tayzos. I will leave the door open. If you see
me raise my hand to my head, rush into the cabin, saying that Padrath
has snatched your purse with a thousand tayzos in it, and leaped

"But what are you going to do? He may kill you."

"Have no fear, and trust me," said Jerry, pressing her hand as she
passed him the money. "Is all clear?"


Jerry went to the cabin door, and opened it noisily. Then he walked in,
and toward the front.

"I dislike to trouble an officer with what must seem a most trivial
matter," Jerry began, "yet to a poor hunter a matter of five tayzos is
of considerable importance. To me it represents many dangerous hunts,
and many trips to the City of Takkor, where the grasping fur merchants
pay us less than a tenth of the prices they receive from the tanners in
Dukor. I hope that you understand."

"I understand fully, my poor fellow," said Hazlit Jen. "Go on."

"I have not forgotten that you warned me against the cupidity of our
boatman," continued the Earthman. "Just a moment ago he approached me
and asked if we had passports. Since we had none, he said he would have
to have five tayzos with which to bribe the officials at the border in
order that we might pass into Kalsivar. He claimed he was well
acquainted with one of the officers, and could arrange everything for

"The amount he mentioned was correct. But if he told you he could
arrange things with the officials, he lied. Only I can do that. And it
is to me that you must pay the money."

"Indeed I am glad I consulted you in this matter," Jerry told him,
handing over the five platinum pellets with a look of relief.

The officer dropped the money into his belt pouch. "Leave everything to
me, and you will be safe and sound in Raliad before sunup."

Jerry raised his hand, as if to adjust his head-cloak. This movement was
followed by a most convincing scream from Junia. Then she rushed into
the cabin.

"What happened? What's wrong?" asked Hazlit jen, paling.

"The boatman!" she panted. "He snatched my purse and leaped overboard.
Our life savings--our thousand tayzos--are gone with him."

Jerry sprang to his feet, simulating anger, but the anger of the
red-faced officer was not simulated. Moving both levers back to neutral,
he turned and asked: "Where is the scoundrel?"

"He must be on shore, and well away with the loot by this time," said

Hazlit Jen plunged across the cabin, through the door, and out upon the
deck. Jerking his baridium torch from his belt, he flashed it over the
placid waters.

"Gone!" he wheezed angrily. "Gone with a thousand platinum tayzos! Oh,
the blackguard!"

"After all," said Jerry dryly, "there are more platinum pieces where
those came from. The fool has only cheated himself."

"Eh? What do you mean?"

"Since the low-born villain has decamped, there is no reason why two
officers and gentlemen should not be perfectly frank with each other,"
said Jerry in a confidential tone. "Let us drop all pretense. I realized
that you had recognized Her Highness, from the start. What you have
evidently not realized is that I am in the employ of His Majesty, Thoor
Vil. Of course she doesn't know that. And I thought it best not to tell
her until we arrive. She might offer absurd objections, or attempt to

"Quite right," said Hazlit. "But what of the reward?"

"I'll split it with you" Jerry told him. "I had intended dividing with
you and the boatman. But since he took the purse, there remain larger
portions for both of us. It is he who is the greatest loser."

"Why, so he is," said the officer. He was still holding his baridium
torch, unhooded, and the rays were shining on the deck. For a moment,
the little piglike eyes paused and widened at sight of a small, red

Jerry saw it too, and quickly looked up to see if the jen had noticed
it. But the officer looked away unconcernedly.

"Let the fool boatman go with his ill-gotten gains," he said. "We will
have ten thousand tayzos to divide between us."

He hooded his baridium torch, and replacing it in his belt, started
toward the cabin.

During this conversation, the boat had been drifting slowly forward
under its own momentum, the driving mechanism having been set at

"We are almost at the Kalsivar border," said Hazlit Jen, resuming his
seat between the two control levers. "You two had best remain in the
cabin. I will dock the boat and attend to interviewing the officers,

He pushed both levers forward a little way. A cunning look came into his
eyes as he smoothly guided the boat up to the international dock. He
drew the levers back to neutral, and stood up.

"Await me here," he said, "and leave everything to me. I won't be long."


JERRY kept his place among the cushions in the cabin when Hazlit Jen
went out to moor the boat. But he had no intention of leaving the
officer unwatched.

The Earthman watched through a porthole while Hazlit Jen tied the boat
to the dock and walked to the tower doorway. As soon as the officer
entered, Jerry strolled unconcernedly out on the deck and across the
dock after him. Guards were stationed at regular intervals along the
dock, as well as upon the black wall, and in the open windows of the
tower. And there were four swift patrol boats of Kalsivar anchored at
equidistant points across the canal, facing four similar boats belonging
to Xancibar.

Instead of entering the tower doorway, Jerry paused just outside it, and
a little to one side. Hazlit Jen, with his back toward him, was standing
before the commander of the border guards, who sat on a swinging chair
with writing materials on a taboret before him.

"The hunter murdered the boatman," Hazlit Jen was saying, "and threw his
body into the canal. Then he told me his victim had robbed his sister
and leaped overboard. I will take the girl on to Raliad, for she is
innocent, but I should like to have you hold this assassin here until I
come back. Then I will return him to Dukor in chains, to stand trial for

"I don't know why you wish to leave him with me, instead of the Xancibar
officer," said the commander, "but since you have paid me five tayzos, I
can see no objection to holding the assassin for you." He turned to a
soldier who stood behind him. "Take six men and arrest the hunter on the
small boat at the dock," he ordered.

Jerry waited to hear no more. Springing across the dock, he whipped out
his sword, slashed the tie-rope, and leaped aboard the boat. Then he
plunged into the cabin, seized the two control levers, and pushed them
forward as far as they would go. The boat tore away from the dock with a
rush, just as the two nearest guards came running up.

Jerry kept his eyes ahead and his hands on the control levers, while
Junia watched from the rear deck.

"The patrol boat is drawing up to the dock," she said, "and Hazlit Jen
is getting aboard. Now they are starting after us."

It looked as though their capture would be only a matter of minutes,
when Jerry, who had noticed the farther moon just ready to settle below
the western horizon, suddenly thought of a plan. Zigzagging through the
traffic toward the outer bank, he presently reached a position only a
few feet from shore. By this time the patrol boat was but two hundred
feet behind them, its prow lined with warriors ready to leap upon their

Presently the moon dipped below the horizon. Instantly Jerry hooded the
baridium torch that lighted the cabin, plunging the boat into darkness.
Then he set the levers so the craft would turn about in a narrow circle.
Grasping Junia's hand, he hurried her out onto the deck.

The dark bulk of the shore loomed beside them, and the boat began
curving away from it. Gathering the girl in his arms, Jerry jumped, his
Earth-trained muscles easily carrying him beyond the water's edge.
Swiftly he ran up the bank in the darkness. And a moment later, he knew
that part of his plan had worked out, for there was a terrific crash,
and the shouts of men struggling in the water, as the small boat,
turning in a circle, rammed the large craft amidships.

There were stairways for the use of defending warriors at regular
intervals along the inner side of the wall, and Jerry presently groped
his way in the dark to one of these. Climbing it without noise, he saw a
guard approaching, outlined against the sky. At this moment, Jerry, who
had completely forgotten Neem the dalf, felt a wet muzzle pressed
against his arm.

"Get him, Neem," he whispered.

While Jerry and Junia crouched in the shadow, the great shaggy beast
crept over the edge of the wall. The guard saw him and raised his
javelin. But ere he could draw it back for a thrust, the furry body shot
through the air, the huge jaws closed on his head with a single crunch,
and the sentinel expired without a sound.

Jerry caught up Junia once more and ran to the edge of the wall.
Uncoiling the rope beneath his head-cloak, he passed it around her
slender waist and let her over the edge. The lasso did not grow slack
until most of its length had been paid out so he knew there was a drop
of about thirty feet beneath him.

"Release the rope," he called down to Junia softly.

She instantly complied, and fastening it around Neem, he pushed the
beast over the edge, snubbing the lasso on the parapet in order to hold
the great weight of the dalf.

As soon as the beast had alighted, Jerry let himself down as far as he
could by hanging from both hands, then dropped, alighting in the soft
sand without injury.

Recovering the rope, he caught up Junia and hurried away.

For some time the darkness favored them. Then the bright nearer moon
suddenly popped above the western horizon, almost at the point where the
farther moon had set, flooding the desert with light. By this time they
were more than a mile from the wall, and Jerry found that by keeping to
the hollows behind the sand dunes, they could travel without danger of
being seen by the enemy.

The bright nearer moon was high in the heavens when a black shadow
suddenly swept across its face and fell upon the fugitives. It was
followed by another and another, and Jerry, looking up, saw that a party
of a hundred gawr riders was passing high overhead.

Junia, who had also been watching the fliers, clutched his arm. "They've
seen us! What shall we do?"

"I'm afraid there is nothing we can do," he replied. "It is too late to
hide, we can't outrun them, and it would be hopeless to try to fight a
hundred warriors."

The sound of flapping leathery wings grew louder as the flying warriors
spiraled lower, and in a few moments they had landed in a circle
completely surrounding the fugitives.

Stationing himself in front of Junia, Neem bristled up, and ominous
rumblings issued from his cavernous throat.

Then suddenly the leader of the warriors flung himself down from his
steed. He was short and bow-legged, with long apelike arms and
tremendously broad shoulders. Instead of a javelin, he carried a heavy,
long-handled mace.

"Koha!" Jerry exclaimed.

"I hoped it would be you, master," the black dwarf cried, saluting. He
turned to the others, whirling his mace aloft. "Ho, warriors! It is the

At this a cheer broke from the throats of the entire company.

"We have been searching for you day and night, since your disappearance,
master," continued Koha.

"The lady with me is Her Imperial Highness of Kalsivar," said Jerry.
"You will salute her, and provide a gawr for each of us."

Instantly the entire company sprang from their saddles, rendering the
imperial salute to Junia and proffering their mounts. Jerry selected one
for the Princess and another for himself.

Mounted on their swift bird-beasts, it took them less than a half hour
to reach Jerry's camp, where he and the Princess received a tremendous
ovation. Here, after providing Junia with a portable hut, and
recommending that she get some sleep, the Earthman called his officers

"It is highly probable," he said, "that there will be desperate fighting
for all of us in a few days. And strange as it may appear to you, we
will probably be fighting as allies of Numin Vil. As you all know, the
Torturer is in Raliad, and has put the dark-skinned prince on the throne
for his puppet. By joining forces with Numin Vil, we will be assisting
him in combating a mutual enemy, and if we win, there will be suitable
rewards for all. Are there any questions or objections?"

No one spoke.

"There being no objections," Jerry continued, "you will send out riders
at once to summon the tribesmen, and the other units of our army that
are in hiding. Let the Atabah Marsh be the rendezvous, and be ready for
matching orders by tomorrow. I go now to inspect the work of our
armorers and smiths."

Rising, he strode through the circle of officers, followed by Yewd and
Koha, and crossing the sandy, boulder-strewn beach to the base of the
cliff, entered a dark doorway.

Unhooding his baridium torch, he followed a winding passageway deep into
the cliff. He emerged in a tremendous natural cave, where a night shift
of two thousand men was at work, forging and welding small octagonal
metal turrets, each large enough to hold one man. The turrets were
fitted with thick crystal panels, each of which could be opened or
closed by a lever in the hands of the occupant.

"How many are ready?" Jerry asked.

"Eight hundred are finished," Koha replied. "And there will be two
hundred more by morning."

"Good! And now let us see what the workmen in the next cave have

As they passed through the huge workshop, Jerry paused from time to time
to inspect a turret or say a few words to a workman. A second passageway
led them into another tremendous cave, where five thousand workers, men
and women, were busy. The men were molding hollow metal shells of cast
iron. The women were filling them with measured quantities of fire
powder, and inserting small, stoppered globes of water. Some of these
were fitted with percussion plungers which would break the globes on
contact, and others with tiny clockwork mechanisms that would jerk the
stoppers from the glass globes in from one to ten seconds, depending
upon how they were set.

"You made the tests as I ordered?" Jerry asked, turning to Yewd.

"All of them," replied the giant. "The large globes, when dropped,
excavate holes in the ground that will contain a hundred mounted men.
The smaller ones make craters proportionate to their size."

"How many are finished?" Jerry asked.

"A hundred thousand of the small, and ten thousand of the large."

"You have done splendidly, all of you," said Jerry. "Keep it up, and if
nothing happens to prevent, I will return tomorrow. I go, now, to return
the Princess to her father, and to perfect our alliance with him."

Yewd said: "Deza grant that you may find Raliad a safer place this time
than you ever have before."


AS HE drew near his own camp, some hours later, Jerry saw that the
preparations for war which he had ordered were well under way. Already
the city of portable huts had grown to thrice its former size, and his
forces were still being swelled by large companies of rodal cavalry, and
by thousands of flying warriors. The lakes were black with swimming
gawrs, and the entire end of the marsh had been turned into a vast
community of fur-covered dwellings.

Challenged by a strange flying guard, Jerry gave the password, "On to
Raliad," and was permitted to alight in the square before his hut. Here
the guards and officers recognized his disguise, and rushed up to greet
him. Among them was Yewd.

"You are back sooner than we expected you, my Viljen," said the giant.

"Find Koha," Jerry replied, "and bring him to me. I would hold council
with you two."

Two guards parted the silver curtains that veiled the doorway of the
black hut, and Jerry went in. Since the need for his disguise was at an
end, he removed it, and exchanged his huntsman's garments for a
commoner's black and silver. A slave brought pulcho, set it on a taboret
at his elbow, and withdrew. And a moment later Yewd strode in with Koha
waddling behind him.

"What news, master?" asked the dwarf. "Do we join the Vil's army today?"

"Not today, or ever," replied Jerry dejectedly, pushing the pulcho flask
toward his two sturdy henchmen. "I have failed in my mission--failed
miserably and completely. The Vil would have none of me as an officer.
He has made an alliance with Manith Zovil, marital as well as martial.
And to top it all, my disguise was penetrated by one of his courtiers,
so that I barely escaped with my life--he still deeming me the murderer
of his son."

"Why, then, that leaves us free to harass the Torturer in our own way,"
said Yewd, drinking deeply. "And with the new weapons we should be able
to more than hold our own."

"You forget that the Torturer and his puppet sit in Raliad," said Jerry.
"He is no longer an outlaw, but the power behind the throne. Numin Vil,
if he does not retake his capital, will himself be the outlaw. And even
with the help of Manith Zovil, I do not believe he can do it. With our
assistance it might be done, but he would renounce his kingdom forever
rather than accept my aid."

"If we could only find the man who slew Shiev Zovil," said Koha, "the
rest should be easy."

"Ah, but the irony of fate prevents even that!" exclaimed Jerry.

Then what are we to do?"

"Do? Why, I will found a city of outlaws, here on this spot, that will
defy all the armies of Mars. So long as Thoor remains Vil of Kalsivar
with the Torturer pulling the strings, we shall be a thorn in their
sides. We will. . ."

He was interrupted by a guard, who drew back a silver curtain and said:
“Algo the spy is here with an important message."

"Admit him," said Jerry.

The spy, resplendent in his uniform of the imperial guards, hurried in.

"What news, Algo?" Jerry asked.

"The Princess has been abducted."

"What!" Jerry sprang to his feet. "When? By whom?"

"Only a short time ago. And by agents of the Torturer."

"Impossible! Wasn't Neem the black dalf with her? And was she not
surrounded by the Vil's army?"

"Neither," Algo replied. "She was circling above the camp on the swift
gawr you gave her, accompanied by two guards. Suddenly four brown
warriors plunged down from high above them. Three slew the guards with
their javelins. The fourth dropped a noose around the neck of her
Highness's gawr, so that it was forced to follow his bird-beast or
strangle. Then he flew off in the direction of Raliad, followed by his
three companions. I managed to bring you this message by pretending to
follow the abductors."

"Back to your post, then, Algo," said Jerry. "And from now on you rank a
jendus for bringing this news."

The spy saluted smartly and departed.

The Earthman whirled on Koha.

"Have the saddles been prepared with the chains and hooks, as I

"They have, master; four thousand of them."

"Good. See that the gawrs are saddled, and their riders ready. And have
two thousand more flying warriors prepared to join them."

As Koha waddled away, Yewd asked: "What are you going to do?"

"First I will lead a raid upon the canal excavating crew," he said. "Then
our watchword shall become our war cry: 'On to Raliad!'"


SEATED in his black hut, Jerry summoned his officers and called for a
scroll, brush, and ink. Then he wrote the following note:


Today, when the sun reaches the zenith, my army will enter Raliad
through the Gate of Victory, march down the Avenue of Triumph, and take
over the Imperial Palace. All citizens are warned of the danger of
congregating at any of these places at that hour.


"Cause five hundred copies of this notice to be made," he told his
jendus of fliers, "and see that they are dropped along the Avenue of
Triumph and upon the roof of the Imperial Palace, at once."

"I hear and obey, my Viljen," replied the officer, saluting.

Jerry turned to his jendus of cavalry. "Mobilize all riders at once, and
start for Raliad. By hurrying, you will be able to meet the flying
contingent in front of the Gate of Victory, shortly before noon. See
that the riders who carry grenades are in the front ranks."

"To hear is to obey, O Viljen," the officer answered.

Having given detailed instructions to his other officers, Jerry went out
on a brief tour of inspection. The turrets which had been manufactured
in the cave were being rolled out into the sunlight and stacked.
Fire-powder grenades were being issued to both flying warriors and
members of the first contingent of rodal cavalry. The heavier bombs were
passed out to a picked group of fliers, who were also given a few small

His inspection completed, Jerry mounted his gawr, took his place at the
head of the raiding party, and set off for the canal work-camp. An
hour's flight brought them directly above their objective.

As soon as the party of raiders was sighted a general alarm was sounded.
The digging machines stopped work and their drivers were ordered off of
them and into the work-camp, where they were surrounded by the guards,
for it was believed that this was a slave raid. It suited Jerry's
purpose to let them think so. And so he continued to circle until all of
the slaves had been herded into the compound with their guards massed
around them.

Then he swooped down, and with a thousand riders armed with grenades,
formed a line between the camp and the abandoned machines. Another
thousand riders dismounted behind them, and each ran to a machine.
Meanwhile, the four thousand remaining riders maneuvered until four
gawrs hovered above each machine. Then the riders each dropped two hooks
suspended on heavy chains fifty feet in length. The men on the ground
swiftly fastened the hooks to the sides of the digging machines.

As soon as the guards realized what the raiders were about, they charged
the line of warriors which Jerry had posted on guard. But a few
fire-powder grenades hurled among them wrought such havoc that they beat
a hasty retreat.

Before they could rally, a thousand of the machines were dangling high
above their heads, each carried by four gawrs. And in a moment more the
rest of the raiders, led by Jerry, had taken to the air.

Straight back to the camp they flew. Here the machines were lowered to
the sand, their supporting gawrs still hovering above them, and were
swiftly fitted with the turrets which had been built to their exact
dimensions to protect the drivers.

In less than a half hour every turret was in place with its shelves
lined with grenades and an experienced driver in the saddle.

And now, at a command from the Earthman, the entire flying force took to
the air. Jerry flew in the lead, flanked on either side by Yewd and
Koha, and immediately followed by the contingent of fliers who carried
the heavy bombs. Those who carried the converted digging machines were
in the center,  guarded on either side and at the rear by
warriors armed with grenades. Behind these came the large metal flying
machines carrying foot soldiers.

The sun was two-thirds of the way to the meridian when Jerry caught up
with his cavalry, about two jahuds from the Gate of Victory. As he had
anticipated, a heavy force of the Torturer's fliers circled above the
gate. And the walls were lined with warriors, ready for the attack.

The Earthman sent his flying orderlies to carry his final commands to
his various officers, then urged his bird-beast forward. Instantly,
those who carried heavy bombs fell in behind him, forming an immense
triangle in the sky. About five hundred feet above them, and leading
them by approximately the same distance, flew a similar triangle of
those who carried grenades.

At this, the flying warriors of the Torturer formed a single wedge, much
larger than either of his, and came hurtling toward them. In accordance
with their instructions, Jerry's men in the upper wedge did not throw
their grenades until the foremost enemy was within javelin range. Then
they began hurling them with deadly accuracy. The fire powder exploded
with sharp detonations like those of cordite, and the havoc wrought
among the enemy fliers was appalling.

There was, however, a drawback to this mode of warfare in the air. Some
of the shell fragments did considerable damage in his own ranks. He was
about to order his warriors to cease throwing grenades and use their
javelins when the command was made unnecessary by the enemy warriors
themselves, their swift charge was turned to an ignominious and
disastrous rout.

A moment more and Jerry was passing above the Gate of Victory at a
height of about two thousand feet. The force above him still retained
its V formation, but the bombers now drew together in a long, straight
line, with the Earthman at the head. As he had expected, the Torturer
had virtually packed the Avenue of Triumph with his cavalry and
foot soldiers arranged in succession so he could hurl them in alternate
waves at any enemy that might be able to pass the gate.

He flew on, his bombers strung out behind him at intervals of about five
hundred feet, following the Avenue of Triumph straight to the palace.

In the meantime, the Torturer's flying force continued its disorderly
retreat, until it reached the palace, where Sarkis himself was waiting.
Jerry saw the glint of his jeweled golden mask and armor on the roof,
and a moment later saw him take the air on the back of a gawr.

He instantly re-formed his forces, but Jerry had attained his objective.

Unhooking a bomb from its rack in the front of his saddle, he dropped it
to the packed street below, then awaited the result. It struck between
two warriors. There was a terrific detonation, and the warriors,
together with those around them, disappeared in a cloud of dust, smoke,
and debris.

The concussion was quickly followed by a series of similar explosions,
which, in the space of a few seconds, traveled clear back to the Gate of
Victory. And when the smoke and dust cleared away, no living thing,
either man or beast, was left on the entire length of the avenue. There
were only huge craters in the paving where the bombs had struck.

Leaving his bombers to hold their position above the Avenue of Triumph,
Jerry now soared upward to lead the other contingent against the hosts
of the Torturer. But this time he cautioned his warriors to fly above
the foe.

There was a brisk, sharp engagement, and again the forces of Sarkis were
broken up. But the main body was driven back to the palace roof, and
with them was the Torturer himself. Jerry hurled a grenade at him, but
he forgot to set the time mechanism; it struck the neck of Sarkis's
mount, it bounded off and rolled harmlessly to the roof.

A moment later the Torturer dismounted and disappeared into the mouth of
one of the tunnels which led to the lower levels, followed by several
hundred of his officers and men. Others of his force found haven in
other tunnel mouths. But at least half of those who alighted on the roof
never lived to reach them.

Leaving the main body of his men to guard the room and tunnels, Jerry,
accompanied by Yewd, Koha and a score of his best fighters, flew
straight to the balcony of Junia. As his bird-beast came to rest on the
balcony, he heard the scream of a girl in mortal terror.

Springing from the saddle, he sprinted through the open window just in
time to see Junia carried through the door on the back of a hideous,
masked figure, clothed in woven gold links. The door slammed shut, there
was the sound of a bolt sliding into place, followed by the noise of
retreating footsteps in the hallway.

Yewd and Koha came through the window, and the other warriors began
crowding in after them. But Jerry ordered them all back. Then, standing
just outside the window, he hurled a percussion grenade at the door, and
dropped below the sill. There was a sharp explosion; when the Earthman
raised his eyes above the sill he saw that a jagged hole had been blown
in the door. Dashing forward, he plunged through that hole, followed by
Yewd, Koha, and the other warriors.

In the meantime, back at the Gate of Victory, Jerry's officers were
carrying out his orders. As soon as the last heavy bomb had exploded,
clearing the avenue of the Torturer's warriors, a small squad of gawr
riders flew low over the gate and adjacent walls, hurling grenades which
swiftly wiped out the massed defenders.

Following them came the gawrs carrying digging machines at the ends of
long chains. These were set down in the street, four abreast, and the
hooks released.

Behind them, two huge flying machines discharged foot soldiers upon the
walls and into the gate towers. These quickly drove out the remnants of
the defenders, and taking charge of the control levers, swung the gates
wide just as the sun reached the zenith. At this, Jerry's fierce desert
tribesmen, mounted on their rodals, poured through. Half of them
followed the converted digging machines in their march along the Avenue
of Triumph to the palace.

Sarkis had stationed warriors in the windows and upon the roofs of the
buildings on either side to hurl javelins down upon the army of the
Commoner. But as fast as these showed themselves they were treated to
grenades, hurled by the Earthman's fliers.

The other half of the rodal cavalry split in two parts, and accompanied
by the large metal flying machines containing the foot soldiers, began a
systematic circuit of the wall, killing or capturing the guards who did
not flee, and installing the men of the Commoner in their places.

Swiftly, the blood-red pennon of the Torturer was torn down from each
captured gate tower. And in its place was hoisted the black standard of
the Commoner, with its single silver star. At the points where the
numerous canals entered the city, solid walls were built up from the
terraces to a common level, and there were tremendous barred gates which
could be dropped in the channels to block navigation.

All these had to be captured and invested, as well as the land gates and
sentinel towers.

As the last armed rider passed through the Gate of Victory, the jen in
charge ordered it closed. Then, chancing to look out of the tower
window, he uttered an exclamation of surprise and turned to the warrior
who stood at the control levers.

"Look, Tarjus!" he exclaimed. "A vast host approaches across the Plains
of Lav! And the sky above it is black with gawrs! Who do you think that
could be? Now who could that be?"

Tarjus looked out of the window for a moment, then cried out in dismay.
"We are in for it now, Deza help us!" he exclaimed. "A force the size of
that one can be none other than the combined armies of Numin Vil and
Manith Zovil!"


WHEN the first cross street was reached by the improvised tanks, there
was a fierce charge of rodal cavalry from both sides against the
advancing machines. The drivers of the machines hurled grenades into the
foremost ranks of enemy cavalry, then made a swift countercharge.

The huge steel jaws which had been designed to bite through solid rock
now snapped like living animals at the fighting men and their mounts.
Warriors were bitten completely in two, and a single snap was sufficient
to kill or maim a rodal. Around the edges of the melee the flying
warriors of the Commoner continued to hurl their grenades, harmless to
the men in the metal turrets.

The sanguinary engagement was soon ended, with the scattered remnants of
the Torturer's forces dashing off down the side streets.

At the next cross street a charge of foot soldiers met the advancing
forces. But these were even more easily scattered than the cavalry.
After that there was no more opposition until the palace was reached.
Here Sarkis had concentrated the bulk of his most seasoned fighting men.

The army of the Commoner did not attack at once. Instead, it split into
two columns, which went to the right and left, circling the palace until
it was completely surrounded. Now a thousand metal fighting machines
faced the building from all sides.

When all was in readiness, the machines advanced first. Some of them
charged up to doorways, others straight up to the wall. But no matter
what was in front of them, they went to work to remove it, biting out
and swallowing great chunks of the wall, and eating away the tremendous
arches that framed the metal doors.

Swiftly, machines excavated tunnels through the base of the wall. And as
rapidly, others tore away the door frames and arches. Presently one
machine ripped out a huge metal door, and charged through into a closely
packed mass of defenders. Behind it came Jerry's foot  soldiers, hurling
grenades as they went. As soon as they were through the doorway, the
rodal cavalry charged in after them and deployed to the right and left.
At almost the same time other machines were breaking through the walls
and tearing down the doors, to encounter similar resistance and employ
like measures. And soon the greatest battle ever fought in all Kalsivar
was raging within the huge palace itself.

In the meantime Jerry, followed by Yewd, Koha and a score of his
warriors, met with a check as he plunged through the hole in the door of
Junia's apartment in pursuit of her masked abductor. For Sarkis had
posted a considerable body of fighting men in the corridor, and these
outnumbered the Earthman's little band at least five to one.

Jerry, wielding his sword, was in the front and center as the two forces
clashed. At his side was the giant Yewd, using by preference in these
close quarters, a short, thick-shafted spear. At Yewd's left, Koha the
black dwarf swung his huge mace with great, smashing blows that snapped
sword blades, crushed skulls like eggshells, and bit through bone and
sinew alike. Behind them the small squad of the Earthman's picked
fighters used such weapons as best met the emergency or suited their

Fully half of their number were cut down before the Sarkis warriors
realized that it was sure death to step in front of the spear of the
white giant, the sword of the Commoner, or the mace of the black dwarf.
But once this realization came to them, they fled more swiftly than they
had come to the encounter a short time before.

Bleeding from half a dozen small wounds, and panting from his exertions,
Jerry paused and leaned on his dripping sword, while one of his warriors
applied jembal to his injuries. Yewd and Koha also had their wounds
dressed. Then his eyes chanced to fall on one of the brown warriors who
had been felled by the mace of Koha.

Apparently it had only struck him a glancing blow, for he was moaning
and attempting to rise. "Fetch me that warrior," Jerry ordered.

Two of his men removed the fellow's weapons, picked him up, and laid him
at the feet of the Earthman.

"Give him pulcho," said Jerry.

A soldier produced a flask and put it to the man's lips. He drank deeply
and brightened perceptibly.

"Get up," the Earthman ordered.

He got to his feet, swaying unsteadily.

"Where has the Torturer gone?"

"I don't know."

"You lie!" grated Jerry. "Throw him on his back and open his mouth."

Swiftly, the warriors carried out his orders. Jerry took a small bottle
of fire powder from his belt pouch, and standing over the prisoner,
leisurely removed the stopper.

"A few grains in the eyes might make you talk," he said. "I will try
that first. If it fails then the mouth."

Jerry let a single grain of the powder fall upon his perspiring cheek.
It flared up, and the man screamed as it seared his skin.

"Stop! Wait! I'll tell you!" he shrieked.

"Ah, that is better," Jerry told him. "I am more than just, for I am
merciful. If you tell me the truth this time, you will be spared."

"Before he went," said the prisoner, "I heard the Lord Sarkis tell our
jen to meet him in the central audience chamber."

"Is that all he said?" asked Jerry.

"He said that in case the battle went against us, he had a hostage for
the sake of whose safety the Commoner would grant us all our freedom."

Jerry corked the fire powder and replaced it in his belt pouch.

"To the central audience chamber," he said, "and bring the prisoner with
us, until we make sure he has told us the truth."

When they reached the main floor platform, they heard the sudden
deafening clamor of battle. Jerry went cautiously to the door to
reconnoiter, and saw that his fighting machines had broken into the
palace. Behind them, his foot soldiers were hurling grenades into the
massed defenders, creating fearful carnage among them. And a moment
later his rodal cavalry charged in. From that time on, only cold steel
was used.

In a moment the wave of battle had reached the door where the Earthman
stood, as the forces of the Torturer fell back before the fierce
onslaught of the desert tribesmen. Foot by foot, the forces of the
Torturer were cut down or forced back, until Jerry's men were at the
very doors of the audience chamber, and the remnant of Sarkis's army was
inside it.

Suddenly the clarion notes of a trumpet sounded from the center of the
vast room. In the military language of Mars, they were a request for a

Looking up, Jerry saw the herald standing on the lower step of the
central dais. But at the top stood the masked Torturer. He was
supporting Junia with his left arm. And in his right hand gleamed a

Instantly the Earthman called for a herald, and when he came running up,
ordered him to sound the "Truce granted."

As the silver tones broke over that vast assemblage, the din of battle
ceased as if by magic. Then the sepulchral tones of the Torturer floated
across the room to Jerry, sitting his rodal in the doorway.

"Desperate situations call for desperate remedies. We do not ordinarily
sacrifice women with the dagger, but the moment one armed enemy sets
foot within this room, Junia Sovil dies."

"My men will respect the truce so long as yours do," said Jerry. "What
do you want?"

"Freedom," replied the Torturer. "You will immediately order that a gawr
for me, and one for each of my men be saddled, provisioned and made
ready on the palace roof at once. And in earnest of your own good
intentions you will lay down your arms and join my other prisoner, to be
kept as a hostage until we are ready to depart."

"Release the Princess now, and I pledge you my word that you and your
warriors shall all go free and unharmed," said Jerry.

"Do you take me for a fool?" the Torturer roared. "I am not so gullible
as all that."

"Very well," said Jerry, "I will accept your terms. But if you attempt
any tricks, you and those with you will never leave this palace alive."

Vaulting down from his saddle, he removed his weapons and handed them,
one by one, by Koha and Yewd. While he did so he rapidly issued
instructions to them. Then, as he handed his dagger to the black dwarf,
a courier came running up.

"What is it?" asked Jerry.

"Numin Vil and Manith Zovil are at the Gate of Victory with a vast
army," said the messenger. "They demand that we immediately throw the
gates open to them, and say that failing in this, they will take the
city by assault and slay all of us."

"Tell them," the Earthman replied, "that pressing business here at the
palace prevents my meeting them and escorting them hither. Tell them I
have weapons that would destroy their armies as easily as they did that
of the Torturer. But say that I invite them to come here and meet me for
a friendly conference, guaranteeing them safe conduct. Then, if they
consent to come, bring them in my swiftest metal flier. But see that
none of their flying warriors are permitted to pass above the walls."

Jerry whispered a final, "Don't forget the signal," to Yewd and Koha.
Then he turned and marched weaponless through the doorway.

The Torturer's warriors opened their ranks to let him pass, and
fearlessly he strode up to the dais.


AS JERRY walked up to the dais on which the Torturer stood with Junia,
he saw that the Princess was tightly bound, hand and foot.

Sarkis greeted him with a chuckle from the depths of his hideous mask.

Now I have you both where I can kill you. I will die content."

"What do you mean?" asked Jerry. "Do you think you could do that and get
out of here alive?"

"Since this defeat, I have nothing left to live for," said the Torturer.
"I lured you here only for the purpose of revenge. First you shall see
your beloved die; then you shall share her fate."

He raised his dagger aloft, clutching the Princess by her glossy black
hair as she struggled in his grasp. At the same instant Jerry lifted his
hand to his head--a signal his men would understand. Then he sprang
straight for the top of the dais.

The Earthman's remarkable jumping powers were something Sarkis had
overlooked; the startled Torturer turned to defend himself. As Jerry
alighted he gripped the dagger wrist of Sarkis with his left hand, and
with his right dealt him such a buffet on the side of the head as must
have made his ears ring inside the golden helmet.

The Torturer released the girl and focused all his attention on the
Earthman. The two struggled for a moment on the narrow top of the dais,
then lost their balance at the edge, and toppling, rolled over and over
to the floor.

At the same instant pandemonium broke loose within that vast chamber.
Jerry's men opened hostilities by hurling grenades into the packed mass
of their foes. Then they charged. At this, some of the Torturer's men
turned and ran toward the dais. But to their utter astonishment they saw
that a square section of the floor, supported on four metal shafts, had
risen in front of the throne. Through the opening squirmed a white
giant, followed by a black dwarf.

And after them poured a steady stream of the Commoner's fierce fighting

In a few seconds the dais was completely surrounded by a ring of Jerry's
soldiers, whose numbers were constantly augmented by those who poured
through from beneath. And now, the pitiful remnant of the Torturer's
army threw down their arms and surrendered.

Not so the Torturer. He wrenched himself free from Jerry's grasp and
with his dagger aimed a blow at his heart.

But the Earthman kicked the weapon from his hand and sprang back.

"Give me a sword," he told Koha, "then cut the Princess free and stand
guard over her. But see that no one molests the Torturer. He is mine
alone to deal with."

As the black dwarf pressed his sword into the Earthman's hand, Sarkis
drew his own weapon.

"Some days ago," said Jerry, "you challenged me to a duel, but did not
appear. Though I slew your substitute, I do not consider the affair
settled. What is your opinion?"

"It will be settled when I have killed you," grated Sarkis, lunging.

Jerry deflected the lunge with ease then before his opponent could
recover, raked him across the chest with his point, cutting a long gash
in his garment of golden mesh and revealing an expanse of shining steel

"Ah, a breastplate!" said Jerry. "We must remove it."

Again they engaged, and again Jerry slit his enemy's golden covering, so
that one corner hung down. A third slash, and Sarkis wore a golden apron
which flopped about his legs as he moved.

But Jerry had only begun. Systematically, he began undressing his
opponent with his point. At the fourth slash, the Torturer was plainly
revealed as a brown-skinned man. With his golden disguise cut away from
him, his torso was naked save for the breastplate. Then the Earthman cut
the straps that held it and it clattered to the floor.

At this Jerry heard a hearty laugh behind him, and turning for an
instant, saw Manith Zovil, who had just come up with Numin Vil. The Vil
was clutching the collar of a great black dalf, who was growling
thunderously and seemed anxious to leap forward to the aid of the

"Back, Neem," said Jerry quickly.

Though the Torturer fought desperately, he was now badly hampered by his
heavy golden garments, which he was compelled to hold up with one hand
to keep them from slipping down around his legs and tripping him.

Suddenly Jerry avoided a lunge, and springing in, struck upward so that
his pommel caught beneath the hooked nose of the hideous mask. It flew
off revealing the features of Thoor Movil. Before his enemy could
recover, Jerry turned and brought his blade down upon that of the brown
prince with such force that the weapon was knocked from his grasp.

At this sudden revelation of the identity of the Torturer there were
cries of amazement from the onlookers, and shouts of "Kill the false
Vil! Slay the Torturer! Pierce his rotten heart!"

"Yield or die," said Jerry, presenting his point to his enemy's breast.

"I yield," replied Thoor Movil.

"Take charge of the prisoner," said Jerry, sheathing his sword. Two of
his warriors sprang forward to do his bidding, and he turned to salute
his royal guests. Junia had joined her father, and the Vil stood with
his arm around her slight figure, while she fondled the head of Neem,
the dalf.

Manith Zovil smiled broadly as he acknowledged Jerry's salute.

"That was rare entertainment you just afforded us, my friend," he said.
"I'm glad you invited us here to witness it.

"But I didn't," replied Jerry. "I hoped to have it over with by the time
you arrived."

"Then Deza be thanked that you miscalculated. I wouldn't have missed it
for a million tayzos."

Numin Vil was more brusque. "Now that you have seized my capital, what
do you intend doing with it?"

"I believe you offered the hand of your daughter to the man who would
recapture it for you," Jerry replied.

"That offer was made to my friend Manith Zovil, and not to the murderer
of my son," thundered the Vil.

"One moment, majesty," interrupted Manith Zovil. "It seems that between
us we have done my friend Jerry Morgan a grave injustice. He did not
kill your son."

"Then who did?"

"I slew Shiev Zovil in self-defense," replied the prince. "I met him in
the corridor near Jerry Morgan's apartment, and he lunged at me without
a word of warning, when my sword was sheathed. I leaped back, and only
the fact that the point was stopped by my breastbone saved my life.

"Then I drew my own weapon, and we had it out."

The poker face of Numin Vil showed nothing of his feelings, but his
rumbling voice grew suddenly tremulous. "I cannot understand why Shiev
attacked you thus."

"I can explain that, also," replied Manith Zovil. "Thoor Movil poisoned
his mind against me. He wished to marry Junia himself, and after putting
you and the crown prince out of the way, to make himself Vil of
Kalsivar. As you see, his plans underwent some slight changes through
circumstances, but his central purpose has ever been the same."

"It seems," rumbled Numin Vil, turning and fixing the prisoner with his
expressionless eyes, "that my nephew is responsible not only for the
death of my son, but for all of our troubles and misunderstandings. Were
he my prisoner . . ."

"He is your prisoner, majesty," interrupted Jerry. "I wish to turn him
over to you, along with your capital and your empire, which I will tell
you frankly that I do not want. All I ask is that you legally free those
of my followers who have been slaves, pardon those who have broken your
laws, and permit us all to go in peace."

"Then you have no ambition to rule Kalsivar?"

"None whatever."

The Vil again regarded his treacherous nephew. "Thoor Movil," he said,
"I sentence you. . ."

At this moment there was an interruption. No one had paid any attention
to the slight, brown-skinned girl attired in a gray slave habit, who had
unobtrusively wormed her way through the crowd to a position behind
Thoor Movil. Jerry's first inkling of what was taking place was when he
saw the glint of light on the blade of a dagger which she slipped into
the prince's right hand.

The feel of that weapon galvanized the desperate prince to sudden
action. Before the two warriors who stood guard at either side of him
had any idea what was taking place, he sprang forward, seized the Vil by
his braided beard, and raised his dagger to plunge it into the monarch's

To all save Jerry this development was so unexpected, that they could
only stand, gasping and helpless. But the Earthman had caught the glint
of the dagger just in time. And so, when Thoor Movil leaped, Jerry was
but a fraction of a second behind him. With a single, sweeping motion,
his sword flashed from its scabbard and described a glittering arc. One
moment the bystanders saw the brown prince standing with dagger raised
for the death thrust; the next, they saw the upraised arm and sneering
head leap upward and fly through the air, both severed by the same
terrific blow.

Behind him Jerry heard a female voice screaming--cursing. He turned and
saw Nisha Novil, wearing the gray of a slave girl, struggling in the
grip of two of his warriors.

"What is this?" thundered Numin Vil. "Has my niece become a slave?"

"It was she who passed the dagger to Thoor Movil, majesty," volunteered
one of the men.

"Then she shall have the sentence I intended for her traitorous
brother," rumbled the monarch. "Nisha Novil, you are stripped of your
royal rank, your wealth and lands. You have chosen to wear the habit of
a slave girl as a disguise. Wear it now as your future apparel. And
tomorrow you go on the auction block."

He waved his hand, and the two warriors dragged her away, still kicking,
cursing, biting and scratching.

"Deza help the man who buys her," said Manith Zovil dryly.

The Vil turned to the Earthman.

"Jerry Morgan," he said, "you have not only restored my daughter and my
empire, but have saved my life. The rewards which I promised you on the
Plains of Lav shall now be yours. A million tayzos and the Raddek of

At this Jerry's heart turned bitter within him. For a moment he was
minded to hold the empire which lay within his grasp--to make Junia his
own, despite the evident reluctance of the Vil to give his daughter to a
commoner. But he remembered that the Princess had agreed to marry Manith
Zovil, and he did not want the empire; it was only Junia he wanted--Junia
and his freedom.

"I care not for your riches nor your titles," he said. "The free,
adventurous life of your deserts and marshes suits me better than your
crowded city existence. I would sooner sleep beneath the jeweled vault
of heaven than in a palace with a golden roof set with the most precious
gems; would rather watch the sun rise over the sand dunes or through the
morning mists that hang over the Atabah Marsh, than over the most ornate
building in your vast city. I want to go back to my wild tribesmen--to
ride and hunt and live and. . ."

"And love?" asked Junia, coming quickly to his side and looking up at
him with starry eyes, eloquent with a meaning which he could not

"And love!" he replied, taking her in his arms and possessing himself of
her eager, upturned lips.

"Then take me with you, my Commoner," she murmured.

He looked up at the Vil.

"On my world," he said, "it is a custom for outlaws to say, 'Your money
or your life!' You know that I hold all Kalsivar in the hollow of my
hand. And I, the outlaw of Mars, now say to you, 'Your empire or your
daughter!' It is up to you to choose."

For a moment the Vil glared at him, speechless. Then the suspicion of a
twinkle came to his usually expressionless eyes as he replied: "Since
she, herself, has chosen you, take her, my boy, and may Deza bless you

So Jerry Morgan, though he had renounced the throne of the greatest
empire on all Mars, was very well content.


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