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Volume 3906
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A READERS' COMPANION TO THE BARSOOMIAN MYTHOS
GHEK'S MANATORIAN MIND-GAMES
The Sixteenth Runner-Up in the Seven Wonders of Barsoom

Tara with Ghek and Rykor by Frank Frazetta
Part Four (Continued from Part Three)
by
Woodrow Edgar Nichols, Jr.

NOTE: Strong sexual content in this chapter
There is a pregnant pause as our erstwhile travelers gather themselves after their remarkable escape from the land that no one is supposed to leave once there. That fact alone must have caused great cognitive dissonance in the brilliant mind of Ghek. For after all, he has become a nationless, independent warrior...a panthan – the first of his kind. And all for the love a song.

He has also become, like Jaime Lannister in G.R.R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” – one of my favorite characters – a Kingslayer. He has slain his maker, Luud, and taken his beautiful Adonis rykor for himself. He has become an outcast and outlaw from his own kind. 

Not only that, but the beautiful male rykor he now possesses has had carnal knowledge of the Princess, having had the exquisite privilege of deflowering Tara of Helium under the mental direction of Luud. Her scent is still on his flesh. Regardless of the fact that the rape scene can be interpreted more than one way, this will be the assumption of this writer from henceforth. Only thus can we see the true heroism of our characters in the face of cultural taboos that our brave trio will have to overcome. 

The first, as I have mentioned, is the male cultural bias that after a woman has lost her virginity, especially after being raped, she has somehow lost value in the overall culture. I’m sure Gahan of Gathol had cross feelings about Ghek taking over the kingly rykor since Luud had used it to violate the beautiful princess. Every time Gahan had to view Ghek’s rykor’s penis he must have had to choke back some very coarse emotions.

After all, he still suffers from Tara’s first opinion of him as a pompous rich fop, and has kept his true identity from her, hoping that posing as the panthan, Turan, he can win her favor.

Since that first day he met her during John Carter’s afternoon party, when he copped a feel and insulted the princess, he has fallen hopelessly in love with her.

This would cause even more heartache if every once in a while he caught Tara staring at the rykor’s magnificent penis in, perhaps, a fond kind of memory. Since jealousy is a human sentiment foreign to kaldanes, Ghek seems to be clueless to this possible behavior among the humans. But it appears that Gahan’s and Tara’s gift for moving on in the face of danger makes them true blooded Martians equal to the challenge of customary beliefs. The John Carter spirit of “We still live!’ is their battle cry. What doesn’t kill them makes them stronger.

Of course, Gahan still faces some major hurdles in winning Tara of Helium, and those would be half the men in Manator. It seems as our story progresses, that every male wants to copulate with Tara. However, we will try to stay focused on Ghek since he is the hero of this
article.

After their escape, they fly for three days and finally hunger brings them back to earth, near a city. Ghek has detached himself from his rykor, which he has strapped securely to the deck of the ship, allowing him to crawl about the ship like a spider. Gahan, as Turan, volunteers to go into the city at night to scout it out for possible allies and food. The inhabitants trick him by leading him into a trap. Meanwhile, the next day Tara and Ghek are discovered by a Manatorian patrol.

“U-Dor, dwar of the 8 th Utan of O-Tar, Jeddak of Manator, rode back in the early dawn toward Manator from a brief excursion to a neighboring village. As he was rounding the hills south of the city, his keen eyes were attracted by a slight movement among the shrubbery close to the summit of the nearest hill. He halted his vicious mount and watched more closely. He saw a figure rise facing away from him and peer down toward Manator beyond the hill.
“‘Come!’ he signalled to his followers, and with a word to his thoat turned the beast at a rapid gallop up the hillside. In his wake swept his twenty savage warriors, the padded feet of their mounts soundless upon the soft turf. It was the rattle of sidearms and harness that brought Tara of Helium suddenly about, facing them. She saw a score of warriors with couched lances bearing down upon her. 
“She glanced at Ghek. What would the spiderman do in this emergency? She saw him crawl to his rykor and attach himself. Then he arose, the beautiful body once again animated and alert. She thought that the creature was preparing for flight. Well, it made little difference to her. Against such as were streaming up the hill toward them a single mediocre swordsman such as Ghek was worse than no defense at all.
“‘Hurry, Ghek!’ she admonished him. ‘Back into the hills! You may find there a hiding-place;’ but the creature only stepped between her and the oncoming riders, drawing his long-sword.
“‘It is useless, Ghek,’ she said, when she saw that he intended to defend her. ‘What can a single sword accomplish against such odds?’
“‘I can die but once,’ replied the kaldane. ‘You and your panthan saved me from Luud and I but do what your panthan would do were he here to protect you.’
“‘It is brave, but it is useless,’ she replied. ‘Sheathe your sword. They may not intend us harm.’
“Ghek let the point of his weapon drop to the ground, but he did not sheathe it, and thus the two stood waiting as U-Dor the dwar stopped his thoat before them while his twenty warriors formed a rough circle about. For a long minute U-Dor sat his mount in silence, looking searchingly first at Tara of Helium and then at her hideous companion.
“‘What manner of creature are you?’ he asked presently. ‘And what do you before the gates of Manator?’
“‘We are from far countries,’ replied the girl, ‘and we are lost and starving. We ask only food and rest and the privilege to go our way seeking our own homes.’
“U-Dor smiled a grim smile. ‘Manator and the hills which guard it alone know the age of Manator;’ he said; ‘yet in all the ages that have rolled by since Manator first was, there is no record in the annals of Manator of a stranger departing from Manator.
“‘But I am a princess,’ cried the girl haughtily, ‘and my country is not at war with yours. You must give me and my companions aid and assist us to return to our own land. It is the law of Barsoom.’” (CM/10.)
It seems odd to me that if this is really the law of Barsoom, then it is obviously the law that is universally broken over the face of the planet. In fact, ERB will have a lot of fun with this idea of every city-state of Barsoom believing that they have the power to keep all comers to their lands from escape, especially in the last authentic Barsoomian novel, Llana of Gathol. But back to our narrative:
“‘Manator knows only the laws of Manator,’ replied U-Dor; ‘but come. You shall go with us to the city, where you, being beautiful, need have no fear. I, myself, will protect you if O-Tar so decrees. And as for your companion – but hold! You said “companions” – there are others of your party then?’
“‘You see what you see,’ replied Tara haughtily.
“‘Be that as it may,’ said U-Dor. ‘If there be more they shall not escape Manator; but as I was saying, if your companion fights well he too may live, for O-Tar is just, and just are the laws of Manator. Come!’
“Ghek demurred.
“‘It is useless,’ said the girl, seeing that he would have stood his ground and fought them. ‘Let us go with them. Why pit your puny blade against their mighty ones when there should lie in your great brain the means to outwit them?’ She spoke in a low whisper, rapidly.
“‘You are right, Tara of Helium,’ he replied and sheathed his sword.
“And so they moved down the hillside toward the gates of Manator – Tara, Princess of Helium, and Ghek, the kaldane of Bantoom – and surrounding them rode the savage, painted warriors of U-Dor, dwar of the 8th Utan of O-Tar, Jeddak of Manator.’ (CM/10.)
I will forbear the great descriptions of Manator found as they enter the city, referring the reader to ERBzine #3303, “The Jetan Field at Manator,” the Sixth Wonder of Barsoom, for such things. Prior to this point, the narrative had been driven by two points of view: Tara’s and Gahan’s. Now a third point of view will be a key part, that of Ghek’s. This is likely why ERB broke from his typical first person – that of John Carter’s – point of view to the third person. It allowed him more freedom and the ability to be more godlike in the way he could weave plot lines.

Our adventurers are led into the city, down a broad avenue, and into the palace, where they are confronted by a long hall with mounted statues of great heroes of Manator’s past, the “Hall of Chiefs,” into a square chamber with a dozen live mounted warriors lolling in their saddles.

“As U-Dor and his party entered the room, the warriors came quickly erect in their saddles, and formed a line before another door upon the opposite side of the wall. The padwar commanding them saluted U-Dor who, with his party, had halted facing the guard.
“‘Send one to O-Tar announcing that U-Dor brings two prisoners worth of the observation of the great jeddak,’ said U-Dor; ‘one because of her extreme beauty, the other because of his extreme ugliness.’
“‘O-Tar sits in council with the lesser chiefs,’ replied the lieutenant; ‘but the words of U-Dor the dwar shall be carried to him,’ and he turned and gave instructions to one who sat his thoat behind him.
“‘What manner of creature is the male?’ he asked of U-Dor. ‘It cannot be that both are of one race.’
“‘They were together in the hills south of the city,’ explained U-Dor, ‘and they say that they are lost and starving.’
“‘The woman is beautiful,’ said the padwar. ‘She will not long go begging in the city of Manator,’ and then they spoke of other matters – of the doings of the palace, of the expedition of U-Dor, until the messenger returned to say that O-Tar bade them bring the prisoners to him.
“They passed then through a massive doorway, which, when opened, revealed the great council chamber of O-Tar, Jeddak of Manator, beyond. A central aisle led from the doorway the full length of the great hall, terminating at the steps of a marble dais upon which a man sat in a great throne-chair. Upon either side of the aisle were arranged rows of highly carved desks and chairs of skeel, a hard wood of great beauty. Only a few of the desks were occupied – those in the front row, just below the rostrum.
“At the entrance U-Dor dismounted with four of his followers who formed a guard about the two prisoners who were then conducted toward the foot of the throne, following a few paces behind U-Dor. As they halted at the foot of the marble steps, the proud gaze of Tara of Helium rested upon the enthroned figure of the man above her. He sat erect without stiffness – a commanding presence trapped in the barbaric splendor that the Barsoomian chieftan loves. He was a large man, the perfection of whose handsome face was marred only by the hauteur of his cold eyes and the suggestion of cruelty imparted by too thin lips. It needed no second glance to assure the least observing that here indeed was a ruler of men – a fighting jeddak whose people might worship but not love, and for whose slightest favor warriors would vie with one another to go forth and die. This was O-Tar, Jeddak of Manator, and as Tara of Helium saw him for the first time she could not but acknowledge a certain admiration for this savage chieftan who so virily personified the ancient virtues of the God of War.” (CM/11.)
We must never forget that even though Tara has a human Earthly father, she is still a Martian at heart, and the martial spirit rules on Mars. Now, as I read it, there is a lot of testosterone in this scene. From the warriors rising “erect” in their saddles, to the Jeddak sitting erect on his throne, to Tara’s female appreciation of O-Tar’s virile form – the fact that the people are all naked heightens the suggestivity of the scene. O-Tar is obviously well-endowed.
“U-Dor and the jeddak interchanged the simple greetings of Barsoom, and then the former recounted the details of the discovery and capture of the prisoners. O-Tar scrutinized them both intently during U-Dor’s narration of events, his expression revealing naught of what passed in the brain behind those inscrutable eyes. When the officer had finished the jeddak fastened his gaze upon Ghek.
“‘And you,’ he asked, ‘what manner of thing are you? From what country? Why are you in Manator?’
“‘I am a kaldane,’ replied Ghek; ‘the highest type of created creature upon
the face of Barsoom; I am mind, you are matter. I come from Bantoom. I am here because we were lost and starving.’
“‘And you!’ O-Tar turned suddenly on Tara. ‘You, too, are a kaldane?’
“‘I am a princess of Helium,’ replied the girl. ‘I was a prisoner in Bantoom. This kaldane and a warrior of my own race rescued me. The warrior left us to search for food and water. He has doubtless fallen into the hands of your people. I ask you to free him and give us food and drink and let us go upon our way. I am a granddaughter of a jeddak, the daughter of a jeddak of jeddaks, the Warlord of Barsoom. I ask only the treatment that my people would accord you or yours.’
“‘Helium,’ repeated O-Tar. ‘I know naught of Helium, nor does the Jeddak of Helium rule Manator. I, O-Tar, am Jeddak of Manator. I alone rule. I protect my own. You have never seen a woman or a warrior of Manator captive in Helium! Why should I protect the people of another jeddak? It is his duty to protect them. If he cannot, he is weak, and his people must fall into the hands of the strong. I, O-Tar, am strong. I will keep you. That –’ he pointed at Ghek – ‘can it fight?’
“‘It is brave,’ replied Tara of Helium, ‘but it has not the skill at arms which my people possess.’
“‘There is none then to fight for you?’ asked O-Tar. ‘We are a just people,’ he continued without waiting for a reply, ‘and had you one to fight for you he might win to freedom for himself and you as well.’
“‘But U-Dor assured me that no stranger ever had departed from Manator,’ she answered.
“O-Tar shrugged. ‘That does not disprove the justice of the laws of Manator,’ replied O-Tar, ‘but rather that the warriors of Manator are invincible. Had there come one who could defeat our warriors that one had won to liberty.’
“‘And you fetch my warrior,’ cried Tara haughtily, ‘you shall see such swordplay as doubtless the crumbling walls of your decaying city never have witnessed, and if there be no trick in your offer we are already as good as free.’” (CM/11.)
O-Tar gives a knowing grin and Tara knows then that he is up to no good. Her thoughts turn to Turan the panthan, who reminds her more than ever of her own father, the greatest fighting man on two planets, who even taught her many sword tricks. She begins to realize that she misses Turan less for his sword than for herself.
“‘Where is Turan, my warrior?’ she demanded.
“‘You shall not lack for warriors,’ replied the jeddak. ‘One of your beauty will find plenty ready to fight for her. Possibly it shall not be necessary to look farther than the jeddak of Manator. You please me, woman. What say you to such an honor?’
“Through narrowed lids the Princess of Helium scrutinized the Jeddak of Manator. From feathered headdress to sandaled foot and back to feathered headdress.
“‘“Honor’”!’ she mimicked in tones of scorn. ‘I please thee, do I? Then know, swine, that thou pleaseth me not – that the daughter of John Carter is not for such as thou!’” (CM/11.)
We must remember that Tara is still a teenager, not very skilled in diplomacy. Surely, she did not play her cards well as this reception.
“A sudden, tense silence fell upon the assembled chiefs. Slowly, the blood receded from the sinister face of O-Tar, Jeddak of Manator, leaving him a sickly purple in his wrath. His eyes narrowed to two thin slits, his lips were compressed to a bloodless line of malevolence. For a long moment there was no sound in the throne room of the palace at Manator. Then the jeddak turned toward U-Dor.
“‘Take her away,’ he said in a level voice that belied his appearance of rage. ‘Take her away, and at the next games let the prisoners and the common warriors play at Jetan for her.’
“‘And this?’ asked U-Dor, pointing at Ghek.
“‘To the pits until the next game,’ replied O-Tar.
“‘So this is your vaunted justice!’ cried Tara of Helium; ‘that two strangers who have not wronged you shall be sentenced without trial? And one of them is a woman. The swine of Manator are as just as they are brave.’
“‘Away with her!’ shouted O-Tar, and at a sign from U-Dor the guards formed about the two prisoners and conducted them from the chamber. 
“Outside the palace, Ghek and Tara of Helium were separated.” (CM/11.)
Tara is taken to the Towers of Jetan, where she collapses from lack of nourishment. Ghek is taken down into the pits. 
“While Tara of Helium was being led to the Towers of Jetan, Ghek was escorted to the pits beneath the palace where he was imprisoned in a dimly-lighted chamber. Here he found a bench and table standing upon the dirt floor near thewall, and set in the wall several rings from which depended short lengths of chain. At the base of the walls were several holes in the dirt floor. These, alone, of the several things he saw, interested him. Ghek sat down upon the bench and waited in silence, listening. Presently the lights were extinguished. If Ghek could have smiled he would have then, for Ghek could see as well in the dark as in the light – better, perhaps. He watched the dark openings of the holes in the floor and waited. Presently he detected a change in the air about him – it grew heavy with a strange odor, and once again might Ghek have smiled, could he have smiled. 

“Let them replace all the air in the chamber with their most deadly fumes; it would be all the same to Ghek, the kaldane, who, having no lungs, required no air. With the rykor it might be different. Deprived of air it would die; but if only a sufficient amount of the gas was introduced to stupefy an ordinary creature it would have no effect upon the rykor, who had no objective mind to overcome. So long as the excess of carbon dioxide in the blood was not sufficient to prevent heart action, the rykor would suffer only a diminution of vitality; but would still respond to the exciting agency of the kaldane’s brain.

“Ghek caused the rykor to assume a sitting position with its back against the wall where it might remain without direction from his brain. Then he released his contact with its spinal cord; but remained in position upon its shoulders, waiting and watching, for the kaldane’s curiosity was aroused. He had not long to wait before the lights were flashed on and one of the locked doors opened to admit a half-dozen warriors. They approached him rapidly and worked quickly. First they removed all his weapons and then, snapping a fetter about one of the rykor’s ankles, secured him to the end of one of the chains hanging from the walls. Next they dragged the long table to a new position and there bolted it to the floor so that an end, instead of the middle, was directly before the prisoner. On the table before him they set food and water and upon the opposite end of the table they laid the key to the fetter. Then they unlocked and opened all the doors and departed.” (CM/12.)

The scene switches to Turan, who is just as imprisoned, being harrassed by the ulsios, huge Martian rodents, as well as the psychological mind-fuck of having the key to his fetters within sight but out of reach at the end of his table. However, Ghek’s adventures with the ulsios and the key are very different and more rewarding.
“When the warriors had departed from the prison in which Ghek was
confined, the kaldane crawled from the shoulders of the rykor to the table. Here he drank a little water and then directed the hands of the rykor to the balance of it and to the food, upon which the brainless thing fell with avidity. While it was thus engaged Ghek took his spider-like way along the table to the opposite end where lay the key to the fetter. Seizing it in a chela he leaped to the floor and scurried rapidly toward the mouth of one of the burrows against the wall, into which he disappeared. For long had the brain been contemplating these burrow entrances. They appealed to his kaldane tastes, and further, they pointed a hiding place for the key and a lair for the only kind of food that the kaldane relished – flesh and blood.

“Ghek had never seen an ulsio, since these great Martian rats had long ago disappeared from Bantoom, their flesh and blood having been greatly relished by the kaldanes; but Ghek had inherited, almost unimpaired, every memory of every ancestor, and so he knew that ulsio inhabited these lairs and that ulsio was good to eat, and he knew what ulsio looked like and what his habits were, though he had never seen him nor any picture of him. As we breed animals for the transmission of physical attributes, so the kaldanes breed themselves for the transmission of attributes of the mind, including memory and the power of recollection, and thus have they raised what we term instinct, above the level of the threshold of the objective mind where it may be commanded and utilized by recollection. Doubtless in our own subjective minds lie many of the impressions and experiences of our forebears. These may impinge upon our consciousness in dreams only, or in vague, haunting suggestions that we have before experienced some transient phase of our present existence. Ah, if we had but the power to recall them! Before us would unfold the forgotten story of the lost eons that have preceded us. We might even walk with God in the garden of His stars while man was still but a budding idea within His mind.” (CM/12.)

Here we are given a unique insight into the metaphysical thinking of ERB. The idea of genetic memory must have intrigued him. It also provides strong evidence that ERB was not an atheist, though it can be said clearly that he was not a religious man. Of course, this tells us nothing of Ghek’s belief in a God. He could very well be an atheist. To him the supreme being is an unencumbered mind.
“Ghek descended into the burrow at a steep incline for some ten feet, when he found himself in an elaborate and delightful network of burrows. The kaldane was elated. This indeed was life! He moved rapidly and fearlessly and he went as straight to his goal as you could to the kitchen of your own home. This goal lay at a low level in a spheroidal cavity about the size of a large barrel. Here, in a nest of torn bits of silk and fur lay six baby ulsios.
“When the mother returned there were but five babies and a great spiderlike creature, which she immediately sprang to attack only to be met by powerful chelae which seized and held her so that she could not move. Slowly they dragged her throat toward a hideous mouth and in a little moment she was dead. 
“Ghek may have remained in the nest for a long time, since there was ample food for many days; but he did not do so. Instead he explored the burrows. He followed them into many subterranean chambers of the city of Manator, and upward through the walls to rooms above the ground. He found many ingeniously devised traps, and he found poisoned food and other signs of the constant battle that the inhabitants of Manator waged against these repulsive creatures that dwelt beneath their homes and public buildings.
“His exploration revealed not only the vast proportions of the net-work of runways that apparently traversed every portion of the city, but the great antiquity of the majority of them. Tons upon tons of dirt must have been removed, and for a long time he wondered where it had been deposited, until in following downward a tunnel of great size and length he sensed before him the thunderous rush of subterranean waters, and presently came to the bank of a great, underground river, tumbling onward, no doubt, the length of a world to the buried sea of Omean. Into this torrential sewer had unthinkable generations of ulsios pushed their few handfuls of dirt in the excavating of their vast labryinth.” (CM/12.)
What we have here is another veiled reference to the River of No Return – the River Iss – or at least one of her mighty tributaries. The River Iss runs for a thousand miles underground. Like the real Mars, ERB’s Barsoom’s water is mostly under the surface of the planet.
“For only a moment did Ghek tarry by the river, for his seemingly aimless wanderings were in reality prompted by a definite purpose, and this he pursued with vigor and singleness of design. He followed such runways as appeared to terminate in the pits or other chambers of the inhabitants of the city, and these he explored, usually from the safety of a burrow’s mouth, until satisfied that what he sought was not there. He moved swiftly upon his spider legs and covered remarkable distances in short periods of time.

“His search not being rewarded with immediate success, he decided to return to the pit where his rykor lay chained and look to its wants. As he approached the end of the burrow that terminated in the pit he slackened his pace, stopping just within the entrance of the runway that he might scan the interior of the chamber before entering it. As he did so he saw the figure of a warrior appear suddenly in an opposite doorway. The rykor sprawled upon the table, his hands groping blindly for more food. Ghek saw the warrior pause and gaze in sudden astonishment at the rykor; he saw the fellow’s eyes go wide and an ashen hue replace the copper bronze of his cheek. He stepped back as though someone had struck him in the face. For an instant only he stood thus as in a paralysis of fear, then he uttered a smothered shriek and turned and fled. Again was it a catastrophe that Ghek, the kaldane, could not smile.

“Quickly entering the room he crawled to the table top and affixed himself to the shoulders of his rykor, and there he waited; and who may say that Ghek, though he could not smile, possessed not a sense of humor? For a half-hour he sat there, and then there came to him the sound of men approaching along corridors of stone. He could hear their arms clank against the rocky walls and he knew that they came at a rapid pace; but just before they reached the entrance to his prison they paused and advanced more slowly. In the lead was an officer, and just behind him, wide-eyed and perhaps still a little ashen, the warrior who had so recently departed in haste. At the doorway they halted and the officer turned sternly upon the warrior. With upraised finger he pointed at Ghek.
“‘There sits the creature! Didst thou dare lie, then, to thy dwar?’
“‘I swear,’ cried the warrior, ‘that I spoke the truth. But a moment since the thing groveled, headless, upon this very table! And may my first ancestor strike me dead upon the spot if I speak other than a true word!’
“The officer looked puzzled. The men of Mars seldom if ever lie. He scratched his head. Then he addressed Ghek. ‘How long have you been here?’ he asked.
“‘Who knows better than those who placed me here and chained me to a wall?’ he returned in reply.
“‘Saw you this warrior enter here a few minutes since?’
“‘I saw him,’ replied Ghek.
“‘And you sat there where you sit now?’ continued the officer.
“‘Look thou to my chain and tell me then where else might I sit?’ cried Ghek. ‘Art the people of thy city all fools?’
“Three other warriors pressed behind the two in front, craning their necks to view the prisoner while they grinned at the discomfiture of their fellow. The officer scowled at Ghek 
“‘Thy tongue is as venomous as that of the she-banth O-Tar sent to the Towers of Jetan,’ he said.
“‘You speak of the young woman who was captured with me?’ asked Ghek, his expressionless monotone and face revealing naught of the interest he felt.
“‘I speak of her,’ replied the dwar, and then turning to the warrior who had summoned him: ‘return to thy quarters and remain there until the next games. Perhaps by that time thy eyes may have learned not to deceive thee.’
“The fellow cast a venomous glance at Ghek and turned away. The officer shook his head. ‘I do not understand it,’ he muttered. ‘Always has U-Van been a true and dependable warrior. Could it be – ?’ he glanced piercingly at Ghek. ‘Thou hast a strange head that misfits thy body, fellow,’ he cried. ‘Our legends tell us of those ancient creatures that placed hallucinations upon the mind of their fellows. If thou be such then maybe U-Van suffered from thy forbidden powers. If thou be such O-Tar will know well how to deal with thee.’ He wheeled about and motioned his warriors to follow him.
“‘Wait!’ cried Ghek. ‘Unless I am to be starved, send me food.’
“‘You have had food,’ replied the warrior.
“‘Am I to be fed but once a day?’ asked Ghek. ‘I require food oftener than that. Send me food.’
“‘You shall have food,’ replied the officer. ‘None may say that the prisoners of Manator are ill-fed. Just are the laws of Manator,’ and he departed.” (CM/12.)

One can already begin to see the wheels turning in the genius mind of Ghek. The information he has just received will prove to be a gold mine in the psychological warfare Ghek is about to wage. The Manatorians are beginning to believe that Ghek is a dark wizard, and, in a way, that he will prove to be. 
“No sooner had the sounds of their passing died away in the distance than Ghek clambered from the shoulders of his rykor, and scurried to the burrow where he had hidden the key. Fetching it he unlocked the fetter from about the creature’s ankle, locked it empty and carried the key farther down into the burrow. Then he returned to his place upon his brainless servitor. After awhile he heard footsteps approaching, whereupon he rose and passed into another corridor from that down which he knew the warrior was coming. Here he waited out of sight, listening. He heard the man enter the chamber and halt. He heard a muttered exclamation, followed by the jangle of metal dishes as a salver was slammed upon a table; then rapidly retreating footsteps, which quickly died away in the distance.

“Ghek lost no time in returning to the chamber, recovering the key, relocking the rykor to his chain. Then he replaced the key in the burrow, and squatting on the table beside his headless body, directed its hands toward the food. While the rykor ate Ghek sat listening for the scraping sandals and clattering arms that he knew soon would come. Nor had he long to wait. Ghek scrambled to the shoulders of his rykor as he heard them coming. Again it was the officer who had been summoned by U-Van and with him were three warriors. The one directly behind him was evidently the same who had brought the food, for his eyes went wide when he saw Ghek sitting at the table and he looked very foolish as the dwar turned his stern glance upon him.
“‘It is even as I said,’ he cried. ‘He was not here when I brought his food.’
“‘But he is here now,’ said the officer grimly, ‘and his fetter is locked about his ankle. Look! it has not been opened – but where is the key? It should be upon the table at the end opposite him. Where is the key, creature?’ he shouted at Ghek.
“‘How should I, a prisoner, know better than my jailer the whereabouts of the key to my fetters?’ he retorted.
“‘But it lay here,’ cried the officer, pointing the other end of the table.
“‘Did you see it?’ asked Ghek.
“The officer hesitated. ‘No but it must have been there,’ he parried.
“‘Did you see the key lying there?’ asked Ghek, pointing to another warrior.
“The fellow shook his head negatively. ‘And you?’ and you?’ continued the kaldane addressing the others.
“They both admitted that they never had seen the key. ‘And if it had been there how could I have reached it?’ he continued.
“‘No, he could not have reached it,’ admitted the officer; ‘but there shall be more of this! I-Zav, you shall remain here on guard with this prisoner until you are relieved.’
“I-Zav looked anything but happy as this intelligence was transmitted to him, and he eyed Ghek suspiciously as the dwar and the other warriors turned and left him to his unhappy lot.” (CM/12.)

Ghek knows he has spooked the Manatorians to the core of their fears. Plus he has learned the whereabouts of the Princess. As we will see in Part Five, Ghek is in a perfect place to wreck havoc upon Manator.
(Continued in Part Five)
THE SEVEN WONDERS OF BARSOOM SERIES
7 WONDERS: I | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII

RUNNERS UP: I.a | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII | VIII.2.2b.3a.3b | IX | X.2.3.4
XI.2.3.4.5.6.7 |.XII.2.| XIII.|.XIV.|.XV.2.3.4.5.6.7.| XVI.2.3.4.5.



 
WEB REFS
www.johncarterofmars.ca
www.cartermovie.com
A Princess of Mars
Gods of Mars
Warlord of Mars
Thuvia, Maid of Mars
Chessmen of Mars
Mastermind of Mars
A Fighting Man of Mars
Swords of Mars
Synthetic Men of Mars
Llana of Gathol
Skeleton Men of Jupiter
John Carter and the Giant of Mars



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