CHAPTER 5: "SENTENCE OF DOOM"
Novelization of the JCB strip by Dale R. Broadhurst
The inclinations and motivations of the green men
of Mars pass all human logic. Had it been not for the chance happening
of some fighting breaking out at the other end of the plaza, the comrades
of the dead Sojat Azad might have delighted themselves in tearing John
Carter apart, bone by bone, then and there. But the uproar of a conflict
between warriors is irresistibly attractive to the giant barbarians. The
better part of the crowd turned their attention to the new brawl and no
Thark who remained nearby interfered with the Earthman on the podium. Even
Tars Tarkas sauntered off to investigate the new commotion, leaving the
human captives practically unrestrained. Only a handful of disinterested
guards continued to watch the two smaller beings.
"I witnessed the destruction of your airships," said
John Carter as he offered a piece of cloth to staunch the flow of blood
from her nostrils. "It was a contemptible ambush upon peaceful visitors
and am sorry to have watched it. When I saw him strike you I could stand
The red maiden rose to her feet, straightened her
disheveled hair and wiped the remainder of the blood from her face. Then
Dejah Thoris eyed the stranger intently.
"Why did you do it?" she asked. "You ignored my signal
when first I saw you! And now you risk your life and kill one of your companions
for reasons I cannot understand. What strange manner of man are you, who
lives among the green barbarians and wears their vile insignia? Your form
is that of my race, while your color is pallid and your speech is as inapt
as that of a hatchling. Tell me, are you human, or are you -- are you something
"It is a strange tale," Captain Carter replied. "I
can hardly believe it myself. But know that I would be your friend, and
your servant if you will allow that. We are both held here against our
wills and it seems that will continue for a while at least."
"So you are also their prisoner, even though you
bear arms and the regalia of a Tharkian warrior? What is your name? Where
"My name is John Carter, and I claim Virginia as
my home. Whether you can believe it or not, I come from that blue star
which shines brightly even after sunrise. Why I am permitted to carry the
weapons of the Thark I killed a few days ago I do not know. But the leader
of these giants has extended me unusual trust and also what passes here
Their conversation was interrupted by one of the
guards who had overheard what they were saying. With a few grunts he indicated
that the dead one's arms, accouterments and ornaments now belonged to John
Carter. A young Thark female stripped him, bundled the belongings and then
dragged away the lifeless body, leaving a trail of his blood behind her.
A few yards away Sola sat with John Carter's calot watching. The Earthman
half smiled when he caught a few of her thoughts. She was already calculating
how to trim down Sojat Azad's harness to human size.
The two humans noticed that Tars Tarkas had returned.
His eyes rested upon them in a most quizzical manner. Finally he addressed
"I see you have found one of your own size with whom
you can speak the tongue of Barsoom. The red women are talkative. She almost
had me convinced that we should help them make new air and water. Hah!
Let her carry her pleas to Tal Hajus herself!
"You have just slain our youngest chieftain," he
continued. "We must offer an account of your actions to my master, Jed
Lorquas Ptomel, and if he wills it, also an account to his master, Jeddak
Tal Hajus. In the meanwhile, Dotar Sojat, you have made yourself a chieftain
among the Thark. Chieftains protect their retinues and the horde." Then,
glancing at Dejah Thoris, he added, "and it seems you have just added one
more to your retinue!"
The required interview with Lorquas Ptomel, Jed among
the Tharks of Barsoom, produced no change in their situation. Tars Tarkas
made preparations to transfer the two captives to the far off city of Thark,
where Tal Hajus would determine their ultimate lot. Before the journey
commenced John Carter asserted his new authority and assigned Sola to watch
over Dejah Thoris. His repeated acts of kindness in her behalf had won
him Sola's loyality, while behavior modled by the red princess taught the
green girl what it meant to be a friend.
After Tars Tarkas and his company arrived at the
ancient metropolis of Thark the green man came close, on several occasions,
to freeing John Carter entirely. It has become obvious to the giant warrior
that the Earthman would find a way to escape, sooner or later, and when
that day came the captor's life would be worth no more than his former
captive's. But the Thark's sense of loyality to his Jeddak prevailed and
he eventually conducted the humans to the audience chamber of Tal Hajus,
Jeddak of all the Thark hordes. And so Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium,
and John Carter, gentleman of Virginia, followed by the faithful Woola,
passed into the palace and throne room, ready to learn their fate.
"O mighty Tal Hajus," began Tars Tarkas, after the
traditional tokens of subjection had been rendered, "I present to you these
two little captives -- a princess of Helium who begs a treaty with Thark
and a man of some similar race who slew the chieftain Sojat Azad, in personal
combat, for the sake of this girl."
The floor of the throne room was thronged with green
chieftains, but upon seeing the princess Tal Hajus dismissed them all with
a wave of his hand.
"Leave us, Tars Tarkas. Take the strange man and
his calot away. I will see to his judgment later. If Helium seeks intercourse
and alliance with the green men, I will consumate it here, after I speak
with this princess -- alone!"
The one who issued these commands was the most hideous
beast the red girl had ever put her eyes upon. He had all the cruel, terrible
features of the green warriors, but accentuated by signs of animal passions
exceeding those of the usual Thark. His great protruding eyes gloated upon
the lines of her beautiful figure as his dissolute mind ejaculated forth
a stream of insults and lewd insinuations.
"Princess of Helium, eh? Know you not that treaties
among our hordes last only so long as a single battle campaign? Know you
not that in our alliances the jeds exchange their long-swords, their necklaces,
and their females? Oh yes, I will give you a treaty, Princess of Helium
-- a treaty with ten days of pleasure to show you all the love I harbor
for your race. Is your heart big enough to accommodate my great passion?
I shall see. If not, word of that fact shall go forth to Tardos Mors, that
he may grovel upon the ground in the agony of his sorrow. Open a place
within your heart now to contain what I have to implant there and I will
hold back my more blistering passion until tomorrow. Disappoint me and
my torture of your red race will commence tonight. Either way, thou art
Tal Hajus'; come join me in my furs and silks, wench!"