A READERS' COMPANION TO THE BARSOOMIAN
GHEK'S MANATORIAN MIND-GAMES
The Sixteenth Runner-Up in the Seven Wonders
Tara with Ghek and Rykor by Frank Frazetta
Part Five (Conclusion)
Woodrow Edgar Nichols, Jr.
“Corphal”: ancient Barsoomian superstition, obsolete except
in backwards part of the planet; in popular belief, a witch or wizard having
the power to command the spirits of the wicked dead in order to gain mastery
over the living; but according to ancient Barsoomian lore, Corphals only
entered into the bodies of wicked criminals of the lowest class; it is
also popular belief that no common man dare harm them and they may only
be slain by the hand of a jeddak with impunity; Manator is one of last
surviving places on Barsoom to believe actively and openly in Corphals.
We must briefly return to Tara of Helium for some essential facts before
we can get on with Ghek. When we last saw her, she had collapsed from malnourishment.
U-Dor takes the prisoner from O-Tar’s throne room, unhappy that she is
to be made a prize for common criminals and slaves at the next Jetan game
– where she will be gang-raped to death – instead of being his personal
sex slave. He recluctantly hands her over to the keeper of the Towers of
Jetan, the dwar A-Kor – the son of a slave girl, Haja, who had once been
a princess of Gathol, and O-Tar, the Jeddak of Manator. A-Kor makes insulting
remarks about his father’s justice in front of U-Dor when Tara collapses.
He will be punished for this.
He half carries Tara to the tower and hands her over to a Gatholian
slave girl, Lan-O. Tara discovers that the roads leading into Gathol –
which lies twenty-one degrees east of Manator – are the prime places Manatorian
go to kidnap slaves for their city. So far, no one has been caught and
the Gatholians are ignorant that Manator even exists. Meanwhile, E-Med,
a Manatorian warrior looking forward to winning Tara in the next game,
drops by to try out his new pair of shoes before buying them. Yes, once
again, Tara faces violent rape. A-Kor has been taken to the pits for his
insult to O-Tar, and E-Med is now in charge of the towers. As E-Med seizes
Tara in a passionate embrace, Tara unexpectedly slips her dagger into his
chest and kills him instantly. She is a chip off the old block when it
comes to killing people. She now has three notches on her dagger: two rykors
and one Manatorian.
She and Lan-O dispose of the body and then wait and see what happens.
Guards come and question them about the whereabouts of E-Med, but they
deny ever seeing him. She asks about Turan and the guard instead talks
about Ghek and how is suspected of being a Corphal.
When Tara lambasts him of gross superstition, contradicting the guard
about the lore of Corphals, the guard suspects that she knows too much.
He returns and makes his report and OTar then sends for Tara to appear
before him again.
Meanwhile Gahan, as Turan, has met the now prisoner, A-Kor, in the pits
and learned that he is the son of his own mother’s sister. He will prove
to be an immense help in Gahan’s ever evolving plan to escape. After a
while, guards approach and escort Turan to the throne room of O-Tar. And
poor I-Zav, the guard left behind to watch Ghek’s every move, is the reason
both Tara and Gahan have been summoned, as everyone is swift to learn.
Tara is led in first and forced to face the Jeddak:
“‘The laws of Manator are just,’ said
O-Tar, addressing her; ‘thus is it that you have been summoned here again
to be judged by the highest authority of Manator. Word has reached me that
you are suspected of being a Corphal. What word have you to say in refutation
of the charge?’
And spoken like a true daughter of John Carter, who almost single-handedly
wiped the evil religion of Issus from the face of the planet. Is it no
wonder that she was well-tutored in the priestcraft of religion? But again,
she responds in the sarcastic, haughty, tones of a teenager, and only with
help will she get through this ordeal.
“Tara of Helium could scarce restrain a sneer
as she answered the ridiculous accusation of witchcraft. ‘So ancient is
the culture of my people,’ she said, ‘that authentic history reveals no
defense for that which we know existed only in the ignorant and superstitious
minds of the most primitive peoples of the past. To those who are yet so
untutored as to believe in the existence of Corphals, there can be no argument
that will convince them of their error – only long ages of refinement and
culture can accomplish their release from the bondage of ignorance. I have
“‘Yet you do not deny the accusation,’
This is actually an amusing indictment of the criminal justice system in
America, with which ERB was well acquainted. In fact, not only in Chessmen,
but also in Girl from Hollywood, criminal trials take center
stage. One of the worst mistakes an innocent accused person can make is
to assume that because they are innocent they don’t have anything to worry
about. Actually, an accused person is 90% convicted almost immediately
and needs to really worry about it, hiring the most skilled attorney he
or she can afford.
“‘It is not worthy the dignity of a denial,’
she responded haughtily.
“‘And I were you, woman,’ said a deep voice at
her side, ‘I should, nevertheless, deny it.’
“Tara of Helium turned to see the eyes of U-Thor,
the great jed of Manatos, upon her. Brave eyes they were, but neither cold
nor cruel. O-Tar rapped impatiently upon the arm of his throne. ‘U-Thor
forgets,’ he cried, ‘that O-Tar is the jeddak.’
“‘U-Thor remembers,’ replied the jed of Manatos,
‘that the laws of Manator permit any who may be accused to have advice
and counsel before their judge.’
“Tara of Helium saw that for some reason this
man would have assisted her, and so she acted upon his advice.
“‘I deny the charge,’ she said, ‘I am no Corphal.’
“‘Of that we shall learn,’ snapped O-Tar. ‘U-Dor,
where are those who have knowledge of the powers of this woman?’
“And U-Dor brought several who recounted the
little that was known of the disappearance of E-Med, and others who told
of the capture of Ghek and Tara, suggesting by deduction that having been
found together they had sufficient in common to make it reasonably certain
that one was as bad as the other, and that, therefore, it remained but
to convict one of them of Corphalism to make certain the guilt of both.”
Sure, there are rules of evidence that are supposed to prevent undue
prejudice arising from certain facts or arguments, but there are also statutes
and jury instructions that allow in evidence of prior bad acts by a preponderance
of the evidence to prove that if the accused has done it before, he is
likely to have done it this time – allowing a prosecutor to essentially
argue like O-Tar above – which in fact undermines the law that you must
be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt for any specific crime of which
you can be deprived of life or liberty.
Let’s say, for example, that you have pled guilty in the past to misdemeanor
domestic violence – say you and your significant other got into a slap
fight...no bruises. Let’s say she finds out you cheated on her and falsely
accuses you of beating her up. This time, mysteriously, she sports several
dark bruises. This time it’s a felony, with a prior. Without a really good
lawyer, you are screwed.
Tara has already realized this, for history has taught that the only
way to beat a charge of witchcraft ended up in your death. You were bound,
thrown into a river, and if you sunk, you were not a witch, and if you
floated, you were. Whether convicted or acquitted, you were still dead.
And this was “just” in the eyes of the law of the time.
“And then O-Tar called for Ghek, and
immediately the hideous kaldane was dragged before him by warriors who
could not conceal the fear in which they held this creature.
This kind of long-winded narrative testimony occurs allof the time in a
trial, for it usually goes way beyond the question that was asked, and
calls for the “narrative” objection, which is almost always granted. One
other thing to note is I-Zav’s call upon Iss to engulf him if he lies.
This implies a belief in the religion of Issus, which was a step above
belief in Corphals, but not by much. Anyway, back to I-Zav’s account:
“‘And you!’ said O-Tar in cold accusing tones.
“Already I have been told enough of you to warrant me in passing through
your heart the jeddak’s steel – of how you stole the brains from the warrior
U-Van, so that he thought he saw your headless body still endowed with
life; of how you caused another to believe that you had escaped, making
him to see naught but an empty bench and a blank wall where you had been.’
“‘Ah, O-Tar, but that is nothing,’ cried a young
padwar who had come in command of the escort that brought Ghek. ‘The thing
which he did to I-Zav, would prove his guilt alone.’
“‘What did he to the warrior I-Zav?’ demanded
O-Tar. ‘Let I-Zav speak!’
“The warrior I-Zav, a great fellow of bulging
muscles and thick neck, advanced to the floor of the throne. He was pale
and still trembling visibly as from a nervous shock.
“‘Let my first ancestor be my witness, O-Tar,
that I speak the truth,’ he began. ‘I was left to guard this creature,
who sat upon a bench, shackled to the wall. I stood by the open doorway
at the opposite side of the chamber. He could not reach me, yet, O-Tar,
may Iss engulf me if he did not drag me to him helpless as an unhatched
egg. He dragged me to him, greatest of jeddaks, with his eyes! With his
eyes he seized upon my eyes and dragged me to him and he made me lay my
swords and dagger upon the table and back off into a corner, and still
keeping his eyes upon my eyes quitted his body and crawling upon six short
legs it descended to the floor and backed part way into the hole of an
ulsio, but not far that the eyes were not still upon me and then it returned
with the key to its fetters and after resuming its place upon its own shoulders
it unlocked the fetter and again dragged me across the room and made me
to sit upon the bench where it had been and there it fastened the fetter
about my ankle, and I could do naught for the power of its eyes and the
fact that it wore my two swords and my dagger.” (CM/14.)
“‘And then the head disappeared down
the hole of the ulsio with the key, and when it returned, it resumed its
body and stood guard over me at the doorway until the padwar came to fetch
it hither.’” (CM/14.)
Ghek is involved in some very hilarious role reversal humor with I-Zav,
using the old Jedi mind tricks on the poor fellow, obviously setting the
stage for his next appearance before OTar, which is currently taking place.
“‘It is enough!’ said O-Tar, sternly.
‘Both shall receive the jeddak’s steel,’ and rising from his throne he
drew his long sword and descended the marble steps toward them, while two
brawny warriors seized Tara by either arm and two seized Ghek, holding
them facing the naked blade of the jeddak.
This is quite an intercession by Ghek. Even though he has humorous opinions
about his saviors, he takes on an almost Christlike role in their defense,
willing to give up his life so that his friends may live. He may not realize
it, but he has transformed, taking the same journey as Tars Tarkas and
Sola before him, overcoming culture to become truly human, knowing the
love of friends and the power of friendship.
“‘Hold, just O-Tar!’ cried U-Dor. ‘There be yet
another to be judged. Let us confront him who calls himself Turan with
these his fellows before they die.’
“‘Good!’ exclaimed O-Tar, pausing half way down
the steps. ‘Fetch Turan, the slave!’
“When Turan had been brought into the chamber
he was placed a little to Tara’s left and a step nearer the throne. O-Tar
eyed him menacingly.
“‘You are Turan,’ he asked, ‘friend and companion
“The panthan was about to reply when Tara of
Helium spoke. ‘I know not this fellow,’ she said. ‘Who dares say that he
be a friend and companion of the Princess Tara of Helium?’
“Turan and Ghek looked at her in surprise, but
at Turan she did not look, and to Ghek she passed a quick glance of warning,
as to say: ‘Hold thy peace.’
“The panthan tried not to fathom her purpose
for the head is useless when the heart usurps its functions, and Turan
knew only that the woman he loved had denied him, and though he tried not
even to think it his foolish heart urged but a single explanation – that
she refused to recognize him lest she be involved in his difficulties.
“O-Tar looked first at one and then at another
of them; but none of them spoke.
“‘Were they not captured together?’ he asked
“‘No,’ replied the dwar. ‘He is who is called
Turan was found seeking entrance to the city and was enticed to the pits.
The following morning I discovered the other two upon the hill beyond The
Gate of Enemies.’
“‘But they are friends and companions,’ said
a young padwar, ‘for this Turan inquired of me concerning these two, calling
them by name and saying that they were his friends.’
“‘It is enough,’ stated O-Tar, ‘all three shall
die,’ and he took another step downward from the throne.
“‘For what shall we die?’ asked Ghek. ‘Your people
prate of the just laws of Manator, and yet you would slay three strangers
without telling them of what crime they are accused.’
“‘He is right,’ said a deep voice. It was the
voice of U-Thor, the great jed of Manatos. O-Tar looked at him and scowled;
but there came voices from other portions of the chamber seconding the
demand for justice.
“‘Then know, though you shall die anyway,’ cried
O-Tar, ‘that all three are convicted of Corphalism and that as only a jeddak
may slay such as you in safety you are about to be honored with the steel
“‘Fool!’ cried Turan. ‘Know you not that in the
veins of this woman flows the blood of ten thousand jeddaks – that greater
than yours is her power in her own land? She is Tara, Princess of Helium,
great-granddaughter of Tardos Mors, daughter of John Carter, Warlord of
Barsoom. She cannot be a Corphal. Nor is this creature Ghek, nor am I.
And you would know more, I can prove my right to be heard and to be believed
if I may have word with the Princess Haja of Gathol, whose son is my fellow
prisoner in the pits of O-Tar, his father.’
“At this U-Thor rose to his feet and faced O-Tar.
‘What means this?’ he asked. ‘Speaks the man the truth? Is the son of Haja
a prisoner in thy pits, OTar?’
“‘And what is it to the jed of Manatos who be
the prisoners in the pits of his jeddak?’ demanded O-Tar, angrily.
“‘It is this to the jed of Manatos,’ replied
U-Thor in a voice so low as to be scarce more than a whisper and yet that
was heard the whole length and breadth of the great throne room of O-Tar,
Jeddak of Manator. ‘You gave me a slave woman, Haja, who had been a princess
in Gathol, because you feared her influence among the slaves from Gathol.
I have made of her a free woman, and I have married her and made her a
thus a princess of Manatos. Her son is my son, O-Tar, and though thou be
my jeddak, I say to you that for any harm that befalls A-Kor you shall
answer to U-Thor of Manatos.’
“O-Tar looked long at U-Thor, but he made no
reply. Then he turned again to Turan. ‘If one be a Corphal,’ he said, ‘then
all of you be Corphals, and we know well from the things that this creature
has done,’ he pointed at Ghek, ‘that he is a Corphal, for no mortal has
such powers as he. And as you are all Corphals you must all die.’ He took
another step downward, when Ghek spoke.
“‘These two have no such powers as I,’ he said.
‘They are but ordinary, brainless things such as yourself. I have done
all the things that your poor, ignorant warriors have told you; but this
only demonstrates that I am of a higher order than yourselves, as is indeed
the fact. I am a kaldane, not a Corphal. There is nothing supernatural
or mysterious about me, other than to the ignorant all things which they
cannot understand are mysterious. Easily might have I eluded your warriors
and escaped your pits; but I remained in the hope that I might help these
two foolish creatures who have not the brains to escape without help. They
befriended me and saved my life. I owe them this debt. Do not slay them
– they are harmless. Slay me if you will. I offer my life if it will appease
your ignorant wrath. I cannot return to Bantoom and so I might as well
die, for there is no pleasure in intercourse with the feeble intellects
that cumber the face of the world outside of Bantoom.’” (CM/14.)
It also gives us an insight into the fatalism that has developed inside
his great brain since his departure from his motherland. He may live for
a long time but his rykor only has a life span of ten years at best. And
unless he can come up with a vocation to match his wit and intellect, life
among the “brainless” would prove to be unbearable for him. But he has
a mission and that mission prevents him from spiralling down into deep
“‘Hideous egotist,’ said O-Tar, ‘prepare
to die and assume not to dictate to O-Tar the jeddak. He has passed sentence
and all three of you shall feel the jeddak’s naked steel. I have spoken!’
Next comes a tearful scene which reinforces Ghek’s new found discovery
of friendship. Tara of Helium refuses to leave without him. She has become
the friend of a monster.
“He took another step downward and then a strange
thing happened. He paused, his eyes fixed upon the eyes of Ghek. His sword
slipped from nerveless fingers, and still he stood there swaying forward
and back. A jed rose to rush to his side; but Ghek stopped him with a word.
“‘Wait!’ he cried. ‘The life of your jeddak is
in my hands. You believe me a Corphal and so you believe, too, that only
the sword of a jeddak may slay me, therefore your blades are useless against
me. Offer harm to any one of us, or seek to approach your jeddak until
I have spoken, and he shall sink lifeless to the marble. Release the two
prisoners and let them come to my side – I would speak to them, privately.
Quick! do as I say; I would as lief as not slay O-Tar. I but let him live
that I may gain freedom for my friends – obstruct me and he dies.’
“The guards fell back, releasing Tara and Turan,
who came close to Ghek’s side.
“‘Do as I tell you and do it quickly,’ whispered
the kaldane. ‘I cannot hold this fellow long, nor could I kill him thus.
There are many minds working against mine and presently mine will tire
and O-Tar will be himself again. You must make the best of your opportunity
while you may. Behind the arras that you see hanging in the rear of the
throne above you is a secret opening. From it a corridor leads to the pits
of the palace, where there are storerooms containing food and drink. Few
people go there. From these pits lead others to all parts of the city.
Follow one that runs due west and it will bring you to The Gate of Enemies.
The rest will then lie with you. I can do no more; hurry before my waning
powers fail me – I am not as Luud, who was a king. He could have held this
creature forever. Make haste! Go!’” (CM/14.)
“‘I shall not desert you, Ghek,’ said
Tara of Helium, simply.
We next learn, as Ghek is led from the room, that O-Tar has lost face with
the Manatorians since he has been shown to be weak in front of the strangers.
U-Thor challenges his authority and his men and those of O-Tar draw swords
on each other, ending in a stalemate as UThor retreats to The Gate of Enemies.
“‘Go! Go!” whispered the kaldane. ‘You can do
me no good. Go, or all I have done is for naught.’
“Tara shook her head. ‘I cannot,’ she said.
“‘They will slay her,’ said Ghek to Turan, and
the panthan, torn between loyalty to this strange creature who had offered
its life for him, and love of the woman, hesitated but a moment, then he
swept Tara from her feet and lifting her in his arms leaped up the steps
that led to the throne of Manator. Behind the throne he parted the arras
and found the secret opening. Into this he bore the girl and down a long,
narrow corridor and winding runways that led to lower levels until they
came to the pits of the palace of O-Tar. Here was a labyrinth of passages
and chambers presenting a thousand hiding-places.
“As Turan bore Tara up the steps toward the throne
a score of warriors rose as though to rush forward to intercept them. ‘Stay!’
cried Ghek, ‘or your jeddak dies,’ and they halted in their tracks, waiting
the will of this strange, uncanny creature.
“Presently Ghek took his eyes from the eyes of
O-Tar and the jeddak shook himself as one who would be rid of a bad dream
and straightened up, half dazed still.
“‘Look,’ said Ghek, then, ‘I have given your
jeddak his life, nor have I harmed one of those whom I might easily have
slain when they were in my power. No harm have I or my friends done in
the city of Manator. Why then should you persecute us? Give us our lives.
Give us our liberty.’
“O-Tar, now in command of his faculties, stooped
and regained his sword. In the room was silence as all waited to hear the
“‘Just are the laws of Manator,’ he said at last.
‘Perhaps, after all, there is truth in the words of the stranger. Return
him to the pits and pursue the others and capture them. Through the mercy
of O-Tar they shall be permitted to win their freedom upon the Field of
Jetan, in the coming games.’” (CM/15,)
Meanwhile, Turan, still flushed from the arousal of the contact with
Tara’s body caused by grabbing her and taking her from the room, makes
him careless. He jumps Tara’s bones down in the pits, kissing her passionately.
At least he gets farther with the Princess than E-Med did, but again, the
Princess is insulted by his boldness. Their confrontation is broken up
by the Old Man of the Pits, the one responsible for embalming the dead
heroes of Manator displayed in the Hall of the Chiefs. He leads them into
a trap, wanting them to remain with him. Tara is captured but tricks the
guards so that Turan might escape. He does, organizing a Jetan team consisting
of mainly Gatholian slaves. He will play for Tara of Helium. And what a
game he plays, using a move that will thereafter be known as the Gatholian
Gambit. Again, the reader may review the story and the move at ERBzine
#3303 and #3313.
At the end of the match, Turan, acting as U-Kal of Manataj, is exposed
by the Old Man, named I-Gos – who recognizes him as Turan from the pits.
He reports this to O-Tar, who orders his capture.
A Manatorian warrior kidnaps Tara and almost rapes her before Gahan,
now back as Turan, saves her along with Tasor, posing as A-Sor, a friend
of Gahan’s youth. Turan finally has a moment alone with Tara, and she breaks
down and forgets her culture and upbringing, spending a long time with
Turan in a lover’s embrace. You may have guessed what my take is on this
scene. After all, Tara was no longer a virgin. Turan does some scouting,
leaving Tara in what he believes is a safe place, but it isn’t.
When he returns, Tara is missing, having been forcibly kidnaped by I-Gos.
Turan hears strange noises, but they end up only being made by Ghek who
has been trying to locate Tara.
“A moment later he heard behind him the
shuffling sound that had attracted his attention in the spiral runway.
Wheeling about he saw the author of the sound emerging from a doorway he
had just passed. It was Ghek the kaldane.
The plot from henceforth is too complicated to briefly summarize, however,
at the very end, Ghek still plays a major role in the successful revolution
of Manator. This is summed up by John Carter himself at the end, during
what I call a John Carter Epiphany, where he appears to a fake Edgar Rice
Burroughs on Earth to recount his adventures. The fake ERB asks John Carter:
“‘Ghek!’ exclaimed Gahan. ‘It was you in the
runway? Have you seen Tara of Helium?’
“‘It was I in the spiral,’ replied the kaldane;
‘but I have not seen Tara of Helium. I have been searching for her. Where
“‘I do not know,’ replied the Gatholian; ‘but
we must find her and take her from this place.’
“‘We may find her,’ said Ghek; ‘but I doubt our
ability to take her away. It is not so easy to leave Manator as it is to
enter it. I may come and go at will, through the ancient burrows of the
ulsios; but you are too large for that and your lungs need more air that
may be found in some of the deeper runways.’
“‘But U-Thor!’ exclaimed Gahan. ‘Have you heard
aught of him or his intentions?’
“‘I have heard much,’ replied Ghek. ‘He camps
at The Gate of Enemies. That spot he holds and his warriors lie just beyond
The Gate; but he has not sufficient force to enter the city and take the
palace. An hour since and you might have made your way to him; but now
every avenue is strongly guarded since OTar learned that A-Kor had escaped
“‘A-Kor has escaped and jointed U-Thor!’ exclaimed
“‘But little more than an hour since. I was with
him when a warrior came – a man whose name is Tasor – who brought a message
from you. It was decided that Tasor should accompany A-Kor in an attempt
to reach the camp of U-Thor, the great jed of Manatos, and exact from him
the assurances that you required. Then U-Thor was to return and take food
to you and the Princess of Helium. I accompanied them. We won through easily
and found U-Thor more than willing to respect your every wish, but when
Tasor would have returned to you the way was blocked by the warriors of
O-Tar. Then it was that I volunteered to come to you and report and find
food and drink and then go forth among the Gatholian slaves of Manator
and prepare them for their part in the plan that U-Thor and Tasor conceived.’
“‘And what was this plan?’
“‘U-Thor has sent for reinforcements. To Manatos
he has sent and to all the outlying districts that are his. It will take
a month to collect and bring them hither and in the meantime the slaves
within the city are to organize secretly, stealing and hiding arms against
the day that the reinforcements arrive. When that day comes the forces
of U-Thor will enter the Gate of Enemies and as the warriors of O-Tar rush
to repulse them the slaves from Gathol will fall upon them from the rear
with the majority of their numbers, while the balance will assault the
palace. They hope thus to divert so many from The Gate that U-Thor will
have little difficulty in forcing an entrance to the city.’
“‘Perhaps they will succeed,’ commented Gahan;
‘but the warriors of OTar are many, and those who fight in defense of their
homes and their jeddak have always an advantage. Ah, Ghek, would that we
had the great warships of Gathol or of Helium to pour their merciless fire
into the streets of Manator while U-Thor marches to the palace over the
corpses of the slain.’ He paused, deep in thought, and then turned his
gaze again upon the kaldane. ‘Heard you aught of the party that escaped
with me from the Field of Jetan – of Floran, Val Dor, and the others? What
“‘Ten of these won through to U-Thor at The Gate
of Enemies and were well received by him. Eight fell in the fighting upon
the way. Val Dor and Floran live, I believe, for I am sure I heard U-Thor
address two warriors by these names.’
“‘Good!’ exclaimed Gahan. ‘Go then, through the
burrows of the ulsios, to The Gate of Enemies and carry to Floran the message
that I shall write in his own language. Come, while I write the message.’
“In a nearby room they found a bench and table
and there Gahan sat and wrote in the strange, stenographic characters of
Martian script a message to Floran of Gathol. ‘Why,’ he asked, when he
had finished it, ‘did you search for Tara through the spiral runway where
we nearly met?’
“‘Tasor told me where you were to be found, and
as I have explored the greater part of the palace by means of the ulsio
runways and the darker and less frequented passages I knew precisely where
you were and how to reach you. The secret spiral ascends from the pits
to the roof of the loftiest of the palace towers. It has secret openings
at every level; but there is no living Manatorian, I believe, who knows
of its existence. At least never have I met one within it and I have used
it many times. Thrice have I been in the chamber where O-Mai lies, though
I knew nothing of his identity or the story of his death until Tasor told
it to us in the camp of U-Thor.’
“‘You know the palace thoroughly then?’ Gahan
“‘Better than O-Tar himself or any of his servants.’
“‘Good! And you would serve the Princess Tara,
Ghek, you may serve her best by accompanying Floran and following his instructions.
I will write them here at the close of my message to him, for the walls
have ears, Ghek, while none but a Gatholian may read what I have written
to Floran. He will transmit it to you. Can I trust you?’
“‘I may never return to Bantoom,’ replied Ghek.
‘Therefore I have but two friends in all Barsoom. What better may I do
than serve them faithfully? You may trust me, Gatholian, who with a woman
of your kind has taught me that there be finer and nobler things than perfect
mentality uninfluenced by the unreasoning tuitions of the heart. I go.’”
“‘And Ghek? What became of Ghek?’ I insisted.
“‘After leading Val Dor and Floran to Tara’s
disabled flier which they repaired, he accompanied them to Gathol from
where a message was sent to me in Helium. He then led a large party including
A-Kor and U-Thor from the roof, where our ships landed them, down a spiral
runway into the palace and then guided them to the throne room. We took
him back to Helium with us, where he still lives, with his single rykor
which we found all but starved to death in the pits of Manator. But come!
No more questions now.’” (CM/22.)
Personally, I imagine Ghek setting up a detective agency allowing him to
make money off his exceptional brain. I also see him working on a long
term plan that would allow him to return to Bantoom every ten years with
sufficient force to barter for a new king’s rykor when his old one wears
out. With the most beautiful male body on Barsoom, I also imagine him quite
the ladies man, especially if he were able to develop a nonfreakish mask
Anyway, our next Runner-Up will be the
Epiphanies of John Carter and Fake Autobiographies of ERB.