Tarrid, The Green Man of BarsoomThe Therns were on their faces in worship as they were now before the very person they believed to be God. Tarrid did not bow but walked up to the Warlord and saluted him.
XI. BEFORE THE WALLS OF ZOR
“Tarrid, you old Calot!” the Warlord said, “My eyes are pleased to see you alive.”
“You came at the right time, my lord,” the green Thark said. John Carter came forward and put his hand on the green man's arm. The watching Therns were impressed.
“ Let us meet on my flagship, I see you have many wounded who need attention. I must talk with you about Valla and what happened to her.”
Tarrid nodded as Kortis came up to them and bowed deeply before John Carter.
“This is Kortis, Valla had no greater friend than Kortis,” announced Tarrid.
“We learned of your heroic actions in Valley Dor,” answered the Warlord, “I am in your debt, to you and the followers of the Seventh Cycle.” Carter gave the orders and the wounded were taken to the ship as a team of Helium's best medical men did what they could for them. In ten minutes the ship took off climbing to join a small flotilla of six powerful battleships.
Refreshments were provided and a meeting was held on the deck of the warship.
“Tarrid what has happened to my daughter? “ asked John Carter, “Last we knew she was kidnapped by undetermined enemies in Valley Dor and you and Kortis went after her.”
“This is true, sire,” answered the Green Man. “We have learned the outlaws were mercenaries hired by The Jeddak of Zor, He rescued her from the “outlaws” and took her to Zor where she was forced into a marriage to him.”
“Shalla Tanni, forced Valla to marry him?” said a shocked Warlord. His face became dark and angry. This excited Tarrid, there would be fighting soon.
“Yes, the Holy Hekkador himself performed the ceremony,” added Tarrid.
“The Tenth Cycle Therns have little love for me or Helium,” explained the Warlord.
“There is another thing you must know,” Kortis added. “Shalla Tanni had her chained at the wrists and ankles. Even as she was being married, she was so shackled.”
John Carter was staring off into space, silent, a tear came to his eye and ran down his cheek. Tarrid had never seen such a thing before. But then his expression changed to one of resolve and vengeance.
“Kantos Kan,” he ordered, “head the flotilla to Zor, and wire the fleet and Helium that Valla is found. She is a prisoner in the city of Zor. We go to recover the princess.”
“She now holds the title of Jeddara,” corrected Kortis, respectfully.
“We shall see about that!” snapped the Warlord. There was a tone of resolve, their would be an end to the mischief of Zor and her Jeddak.
“Tarrid”, ordered John Carter, “I must see you in my cabin.”
The green man thought he might be reprimanded for his inability to guard Valla. He followed the Warlord back to the stern of the ship to a door that lead to the spacious cabin. The Earthman closed the door and spoke to the big green Thark in a low voice.
“So what do you think of the Seventh Cycle cultists?” he asked a surprised Tarrid.
“They are fearless fighters, who almost welcome death. I have fought Therns before but none like these. They believe that to die fighting for you, means they will ascend to Sasoom, face judgment by someone named “Old Ben” and if worthy, enter Virginia and drink Mint Juleps.”
The Warlord smiled, and shook his head.
“Well, Old Ben was a good judge of people, and if there is one thing I miss about Sasoom it is a good Mint Julep.” He answered. “Do you think I am a god, Tarrid?”
“I do not know, But anyone who by sheer will can travel from one world to another is indeed godlike,” answered the green man. “And they have also came to the conclusion that that Dejah Thoris is the true re-incarnation of Issus. They point to an ancient statue of Issus that looks much like her.”
“I have heard of this stature, its in the Zorian Empire I believe,” answered John Carter, “This I can almost believe.”
“I have seen it, sire,” answered the Thark, “It is almost as if she posed for the thing. I am not a fan of art, I am just a fighting man, but even I was moved at the sight of the image.”
“When we have rescued Valla, I may check this image for myself,” commented the Warlord.
“Another thing I must tell you,” the Thark said in a low voice, “Valla has been beaten, as I have seen few slaves punished. It has effected her.”
“Someone will pay for this,” vowed the Warlord.
There was a knock on the wooden door and a member of the crew entered.
“There is a message from Helium,” he said, “the whole fleet has embarked, that included the ships of Dusar and other Allies. Dejah Thoris is accompanying the admiral – she wishes to see Valla.”
“Thank you,” the Warlord said, “I expected as much, she has been filled with worry since she vanished.”
“Well, the Seventh Cycle Therns are in for a treat, they will get to meet the re-incarnated Issus in person,” commented John Carter.
“They will be pleased,” commented the green warrior. “May I ask you a question sire?”
“What ever you want ,” replied the Warlord of Mars.
“What made you seek us in the ruined building?”
“When we got the message from Valley Dor we headed for the Temple, We saw the damage and was about to proceed on when we were signaled by a remarkable man, one Lutan Gortis, who served the Seventh Cycle and was also a guard in the service of the Jeddak.
He told us that you might be at these old buildings, he also gave an account of your actions in the games of Zor. Did you really take on three swordsmen armed with just a dagger?”
“The report is true,” answered Tarrid. “I also bested the largest Banth I have even seen, larger than the one at the zoo in Greater Helium. But, I didn't have just a dagger in that contest. “
“Lutan was impressed with that fight, as were many in Zor,” commented John Carter. “Still, he didn't tell me about Valla.”
“She was shackled even as she watched the games,” said the Thark. “The populace was not pleased with this and showed their displease by hissing and giving calls for her to be released.”
“My fight is with Shalla Tanni—not the people of Zor.” commented the Warlord.
There was a knock on the door and another officer entered.
“Sire, we are before the walls of Zor,” he said with a bow.
“Order all ships to stop. We will wait until the rest of the fleet arrives,” said the Warlord as he sat at a desk and wrote a simple message. He handed it to the officer.
“have this message sent to the Zorian Jeddak, using a small flyer under a flag of truce.”
The man saluted and left.
“The message reads simply, give up Valla of Helium and we shall leave,” said John Carter to Tarrid. The big green man nodded his head.
“That should start things,” answered the Thark, “Do you think they will send a response?”
“In time, they will but its impossible to know,” answered the Warlord. “Our ships could destroy what they have for a navy.” He walked out of the cabin and there before then was the walled city of Zor, flags were flying from every gate, and over the city hovered some fifteen warships painted in Zorian colors.
The whole crew and passengers who could stand were at the railings watching the warlike demonstration of the Zorians.
“I am impressed,” smiled John Carter, “they managed to send up an impressive welcoming party for us. But, look at their ships, not a one is newest than a decade. The one on the left is so old I have seen newer ships in the museum at lesser Helium.”
As they watched two men, took off in a flyer from the deck of the Flagship of Helium with the long pennant of the flag of truce. The rules of war are strict about such a flag. It can not be fired upon and it must be given passage back. The rules of war are almost sacred on Barsoom. The small ship made its way to the most impressive of the Zorian warships and flew up to her bow. The message was given to the crew at the Zorian bow gun and the small vessel returned to the flagship. Tarrid was so interested in the mission that he failed to notice that all the Therns were face down on the deck, hands out in worship towards John Carter.
“Up, I command you,” cried the smiling Warlord. “You must not give deference to me when ever I step out on deck. In battle I will need you on your two good feet and ready to fight!”
The Therns jumped up, saluting with their hand on the pommel of their sword.
“As you say, John Carter” cried Kortis, it was echoed by the others.
The small ship returned and was pulled onto the main deck. One of the men rushed forward and saluted.
“Sire, the Zorian officer said that no one by the name of Valla of Helium is in Zor. The Jeddak Shalla Tanni and his new bride, will come to make things clear to you.”
“This should be interesting,” commented the Warlord.
“He is right, Valla of Helium is no more,” commented the Thark, “ she is now Jeddara Valla Tanni of Zor.”
“He's splitting hairs.” commented The Warlord.
“What has hair got to do with it?” asked the green man. “I do not believe Valla has had her hair cut?”
“An old Sasoomian Term,” explained Carter, “He is using a title change as a reason to keep her but for what reason I can not fathom.”
“I seemed to recall a trade treaty?” asked Tarrid.
“Yes, that could be it, he's using Valla to get a better trade agreement. Its that or something else. Helium still has many enemies on Barsoom. Many nations would love to see the great John Carter humiliated.”
“Look, A ship approaches under a flag of truce,” cried one of the crew, pointing towards Zor.
A large ship was flying over the walls of the city heading towards the flagship. It was clearly the newest ship in the Zorian Fleet and was well armed and ornate, painted with many garish colors so beloved by the people of this land. On the main deck were two gold thrones. Tarrid saw one was occupied by Shalla Tanni and the Other by Valla, still shackled with gold chains. The ship slowed down as it maneuvered toward the flagship, until it pulled up close and lines lashed the two vessels together. A crewman invited the Warlord and his party to come aboard. The green man's eyes were focused on Valla, she sat stiffly, with a regal crown on her head and a shimmering dress of yellow, green and blue. The Jeddak was in his most elaborate harness, Tarrid had seen it before, it was the one Shalla Tanni wore at his wedding.
John Carter stepped onto the ship first, followed by several officers, he gestured for Tarrid and Kortis to join him. They moved to the two thrones, John Carter giving a simple curt salute.
“I am so glad you have brought Princess Valla to me so we can take her back to Helium,” started the Warlord. He could see tears running down Valla's cheeks.
“I am so happy you could come and enjoy our nuptials, John Carter.” answered the Jeddak of Zor. “It seems we are related, now. I am sure you will congratulate us on our recent marriage. It was all rather sudden....”
“Why is my daughter shackled?” demanded the Warlord.
“It is my will, that she wear these tokens, so she will know her place as Jeddara of Zor,” stammered the ruler, “I have decreed she wear them for life.”
“Valla, my daughter, do you agree to this travesty?” asked John Carter.
“I am his wife, I married him, I have made vows....” she said in a low voice looking down.
“You see, she agreed to be my wife and that is that,” cut in Shalla Tanni. “She is now Valla Tanni, Jeddara of Zor, and there is nothing you can do about it. We were married by the Holy Hekkador himself. You can ask your green man, he was a witness to the wedding. Did not Valla say the vows without threat?”
Tarrid, knew the Jeddak was right. He also knew that threats was there and the lash.
“In Helium, and all of Civilized Barsoom, a forced marriage is no marriage,” countered the Warlord. “Valla, if you should just come to me, I will carry you back to Helium, if it means war.”
“You would defy the flag of truce?” shouted the Zorian leader.
“Let us cut off your chains!” added John Carter.
“I... I shall wear them until death dissolves our union,” she said glancing at her husband.
“She and I will have many happy years together. It is hoped she will be the mother of my many sons, to firmly establish the Tanni Dynasty.” Shalla Tanni's tone was mocking, he liked seeing the mighty Warlord squirm before him.
“Father,” Valla said with deep emotion. “I beg you not to attack or bombard the innocent people of Zor. I am their Jeddara, I speak for them. The Zorians are a simple people and would be friends to mighty Helium. Let not this dispute, and my foolishness, cause more bloodshed. I want to beg your forgiveness for being a difficult daughter to both you and my mother. I now see all the arguments and rebellion as girlish foolishness. Forgive me, and forgive my husband and Zor. Father, I love you and all in Helium.”
Now John Carter turned away, tears in his eyes.
“This interview is over” announced the Jeddak of Zor. “Please leave my ship as we will be returning to the palace. We will continue tomorrow to negotiate a new trade treaty. In Helium you said Zor should have a 12% cut in trade profits, I believe things have changed and we now should get a 25% cut as well as military assistance to modernize our fleet in Zor.”
As the Warlord and his group left the ship the Jeddak laughed.
“It does my heart well to see you, Tarrid,” shouted Valla. The ship pulled away at a high rate of speed, back to Zor. Tarrid wondered if Valla's words might earn her another beating.
He looked to see John Carter, ashen and weakened. He had never seen the Warlord look so defeated, he never believed that the great, Godlike, John Carter could be so crushed by a foe.
Once on the flagship, the Warlord when to his cabin alone without saying a word and closed the door behind him.
“Shalla Tanni, should have been killed long before this.” whispered Kortis, the Thern.
“Valla will not wear her chains much longer,” said a grim Tarrid. “She will be released from her vows with a long sword.”
“One thing is certain, Valla will not be harmed,” added the Thern, “If she should die in an accident now, the warlord would turn Zor into her funeral pyre.”
“I agree, she is safe for now,” commented the green man. “Now we must wait until John Carter comes up with a plan. I am sure he will.”
XII. A DESPERATE PLAN
Rations were served as each gun crew manned his weapon. The sun set and still the Warlord didn't leave his cabin. It was an hour into the night when, the door to the cabin slowly opened and John Carter gestured for his officers, Tarrid and Kortis to enter his opulent cabin.
Tarrid entered and smelled something he had almost forgotten, the odor of Tharkian food, The table was set with a number of dishes, some from Helium, other from the lands of the Tharks, there was even some of the ritual foods so loved by the Therns of Valley Dor.
“Be seated, I have taken the liberty of having a dinner served,” explained the Warlord. “I grow weary of the cuisine of Helium, preferring the simple fare of the green men. I have the spicy favorites of Helium as well as some of the foods of Valley Dor --I hope my cooks do it justice.”
The Thern Kortis bowed low, “You are most thoughtful, we Therns have many diet restrictions and preferences. I am sure it will be fit for the table of the Hekkador himself.”
All sat down and feasted as the Warlord helped himself and explained the reason for the meeting.
“I have been doing a great deal of thought about the strange meeting today,” he began. “I believe we need to act, and act tonight. My daughter princess Valla is still a stubborn child in many ways. She will follow honor and stay with the calot husband out of guilt and to keep the peace. When she makes a vow—she keeps it. If we kidnap her she will not go, even if we take her against her will she will do all in her power to escape and return to Zor.”
“Then what can we do?” asked one of the Helium officers.
“Remember her words, she is his wife until the bonds of matrimony are broken by death.”
“Then we kill Shalla Tanni!” said Tarrid, “My thought as well.”
“No, we must capture him alive and return him to Helium to stand trial,” corrected the Warlord.
“He must be tried for his attack on the station at Valley Dor. Such an attack is punishable by death. Kidnapping Valla is also a crime, as is striking a member of the royal house.”
“This to is punishable by death as well,” added the green Thark.
“When we take Shalla Tanni, we will take Valla as well,” said the warlord as he ate a large Thoat steak.
“But, what of Zor?” asked Kortis. “They will be leaderless.”
“Zor will be added to the Empire of Helium as a protectorate,” commented John Carter. “I will send a governor to rule them and military force to keep them quiet.”
“The Zorians are a fiercely independent people. They will not like this turn of events,” commented Kortis. “In a way it will be a forced annexation –that will be repugnant to them—just as a forced marriage is seen as barbaric to you.”
“I have made up my mind.” stammered John Carter. “I believe we must move tonight.”
He pushed away the bowls and plates and goblets and spread out a map of Zor. “I believe we sneak over the walls in small flyers, head for the palace and take our prizes before they can organize a defense.”
“I believe there is a better way, sire.” interrupted Tarrid. “There is a tunnel that runs under the walls, and other tunnels that lead to the palace. The Therns and smugglers built them to pass too and from the city.”
“Kortis, is this true?” asked John Carter.
“It is, and I know the tunnel system of the city,” he answered. “I can lead you to the palace itself and too the gilded prison where the Jeddara is held. I can lead you to the apartments of Shalla Tanni as well.”
“Perfect! We take them prisoner and fly at top speed back to Helium,” exclaimed the Warlord, “Lets see how Shalla Tanni likes wearing chains.”
“The palace will be well guarded,” added Kortis
“Good, I feel in the mood for a fight,” added John Carter.
“How many are you thinking of taking?” asked the green man.
“All at this table, and maybe ten of my guards,” explained John Carter.
“I would like to take two of my Therns as well,” asked Kortis. “Others of the Seventh Cycle might join us in the city.”
“That would be fine, We keep it to twenty and we can move fast,” said a smiling Warlord. “I will have a rocket with me, if we should need transportation, or reinforcements I will fire it off and that will be the sign for the fleet to move in, scatter the Zorians and take us off the roof of the palace and back to Helium.”
“We must consider Zulan Tith,” said Tarrid. “He is a Dwar now and commands the palace guard—I am told. He was the leader of the Mercenaries who attacked Valley Dor.”
“We shall want to capture him as well,” said the Warlord. “He can give testimony about Shalla Tanni's role in the attack.”
“He is also the one who lashed Valla!” added Tarrid.
“Lots of scores to settle tonight!” added Kortis. “It will be twenty against an empire.”
“Then let us move quickly and may our ancestors be with us!” Finished John Carter.
In a few moments, twenty warriors, were packed on a small flyer and took off with the Warlord at the controls. He flew low, without lights, to the place Kortis directed the buildings just outside the walls with the tunnel. They landed silently, with the Therns going first to alert their brethren of the raiding party.
After a time Kortis returned and with a salute he gave a whispered reported to John Carter.
“There is a festival at the palace, all the noble houses of Zor are represented. The Jeddak is celebrating his 'victory over John Carter' “
“His celebration may well be a bit premature,” added the Warlord dryly.
The Therns lead the group into the tunnel, with Tarrid at the end, in case they should be attacked from behind. The ancient corridors and ramps appeared as a maze to the green man, some were ancient pits, others storage areas and such. Once they came upon a Thern Temple, all underground, it was a place of worship for the forbidden Seventh Cycle. At the temple ten more Therns joined the party, some still wearing the insignia of the Tenth Cycle. The tunnels lead to one long passage that went to the palace in the center of Zor. Then the tunnels started to go up, into the pits. Tarrid recognized under the light of the radium torches the cell where was once held. Ever so slowly they started to ascend, but knowing there would be guards, Kortis lead them another way that lead to a deserted courtyard.
“From here we must clime to reach the Jeddara's quarters.” explained the Thern. He started to use the carvings to make the accent up the side of the palace, avoiding windows and balconies. Under the ever moving shadows of the twin moons the warriors slowly made their way up the side of the building. While the guards on the roof were focused on the sky as a possible source of attack, beneath them the raiding party climbed. John Carter was in the lead. He seemed tireless, driven by revenge. Behind him Tarrid, his four arms giving him an advantage as well. All were careful to not let their weapons strike the building and by making a sound endanger the mission. John Carter was focused on the balcony that gave access to the barred windows of the Jeddara's rooms, But as he drew nearer a shadow came to the balcony, there was a guard posted. If he had looked down, the raiding party would have been discovered. The Warlord redoubled his efforts and reached the balcony. His arm came up and seized the harness of the guard and pulled the Zorian over the edge of the balcony to an eight story fall to the stone flagged court below. The shocked guard let out a single cry before he hit the pavement. The Group were making there way over the guard rails and on to the balcony.
Valla was at the gold barred window, with a gasp she recognized her father and Tarrid.
“Father,” she said in a low tone, “What are you doing here? I can not go with you—I will stay with my... my … husband.”
“We are after Shalla Tanni for attacking the Valley Dor Station,” said her father, clutching the bars. “He must be tried in a court of law in Helium.”
“His apartments are across the building, on the other side,” she said. “can he be given a fair trial in Helium?”
By now alarms and gongs were sounded, people under stood that the palace was under attack. The men pulled at the window bars, Tarrid used his massive strength, and with the others, it was pulled away.
“I will lead you to another balcony that leads to the Jeddak's rooms but, I fear he may not be there,” explained Kortis. “He may be with the nobles below in the thrown room.”
“Yes, Shalla Tanni is there, now, celebrating....” added Valla.
John Carter turned toward Tarrid and two of the Therns. “Stay with her encase the Jeddak comes in.”
They slipped though the window and joined the Jeddara. As John Carter and Kortis went down the balcony around the building.
“I can not go with you,” added Valla. “I told father I am bound by my vows just as I am bound by these chains.”
“I came to give you something,” said the Green Man of Thark. He took his large radium pistol from its holster and handed it to her. “You are better with this than I am, and that is a hard thing for a Thark to admit.”
“I will just have to give it up to my ...Husband,” she said with a grimace at the mention of the Jeddak.
“You may well need it tonight,” added the Green Man. He saw fresh marks on her back and shoulders. “Were you beaten again?”
“I am getting used to them.” she said dryly.
“Let us block the secret door,” ordered Tarrid to the Therns. “It is right over here, and watch for traps that fall from the ceiling.”
Trunks and other furniture was placed before the hidden door.
“I fear the main door to my rooms is locked from the outside.” added Valla.
“This is a prison,” observed the Green Man. “A fancy one, but still a prison. With luck John Carter will capture Shalla Tanni and we can leave for Helium.”
“Only if you capture him, will I go,” whispered the Jeddara. “It is good to see you alive Tarrid, knowing you were out there still fighting for me, kept me hoping for rescue of some type.”
“One thing, I know, 'never give up hope,' “ Tarrid said. “Your father taught me this, Kortis reminded me of this fact.”
They heard fighting in the hallway outside of the apartment, then the door was unlocked and Zorian Guards fell into the room, descending on the Therns. It was an uneven battle and in a few moments they had all started their long journey to Sasoom. Tarrid held back, defending Valla, The Zorian guards, and there were not many of them, parted and into the rooms came Kulan Tith, and the Jeddak of Zor, in his fancy harness.
“So you have a radium pistol my wife,” he asked Valla. “Are you planning to shoot me?”
“No,” she answered. “I am your wife, my vows forbid me to harm you in any way.”
“Give us the pistol then, Its too large for you anyway,” mocked Kulan Tith.
She deliberately pointed the weapon at the Dwar.
“Kulan Tith,” responded the Jeddara of Zor, “I didn't marry you, don't flatter yourself that my vows protect you. In fact just the contrary.”
“What do you mean, good wife?” asked Shalla Tanni.
“The laws of Zor and Helium deem it is death to strike a member of the nobility,” she said.
“But... but I gave him permission to punish you, my headstrong wife.”
“True, sire,” she answered. “But when I was first captured, while on the Outlaw ship, Kulan Tith beat me severely. I was not your wife then, so his actions were his own and he should pay for them.”
“She has you there, Kulan,” said the ruler of Zor to his Dwar.
“Give me the weapon,” said the mercenary as he took two steps toward Valla.
“Move not Kulan Tith,” warned Valla.
He rushed her to seize the pistol, believing she would not fire in the presence of the Jeddak.
Before he advance a foot, she fire quickly three times. Three red dots appeared on his chest in a triangle. There was a look of shock on his face, then it froze in death as he fell forward on to the marble floor.
“Nice grouping of shots, Valla,” commented Tarrid.
“Are you going to shoot me too?” asked the Ruler of Zor.
“As I said, you are my husband, I can not break my vows to you even if I wished.”
“But, I am not your wife!” boomed Tarrid. “Remember Shalla Tanni, in the arena I challenged you to a duel—I want that satisfaction now.”
“You know Green Man, at the arena I almost came down to take your challenge,” admitted the Jeddak. “You are a good swordsman, but I believe I am better. Let us find out who is the best man between us!” he drew his long sword and faced Tarrid, who did the same.
“This is the first sign that your a true Jeddak,” said the Thark as they face each other watching each other before swords crossed.
“Killing you will the best thing I can do tonight,” he added. “We have John Carter trapped in my old apartments, now your body will cap off my celebration. Maybe I will ransom the Warlord? What do you think your father is worth, wife of mine? Two ship loads of gold?”
Tarrid lunged and the two long sword clashed in battle. The Jeddak was smiling in a cruel way, but it was no less than the smile on the Thark's face. The swords flashed with arcs of death as the two dueled. Tarrid was forced to step back under Shalla Tanni's mad advance. The Jeddak had not been boasting, he was a good swordsman. The green man fought now with all the skills he knew and every trick he had ever learned.
“You were trained in Zoldanga,” said the Thark, “I can tell that much in your style.”
“I won the prize in fencing in the Zodangan Games once,” informed the Jeddak. “Your style is that of Helium, Green Man. You try to use your long reach and power win for you. I am here to tell you that will not work with me.”
At that, he lunged and nicked the big Thark on the shoulder.
“A lucky, break,” said Tarrid. He then attacked but found that Shalla Tanni's defense was good and he was beaten back. The smiling Jeddak then attacked again, hitting the Green Man on the other shoulder. At that Valla gasped and Tarrid was forced back.
“You see, I am the better man,” mocked the ruler. But his arrogance proved his undoing as he left an opening in his guard, and the Thark flashed his blade in and cut the man on the chest and harness. The ornate harness kept the blow from being serious.
“You have a few tricks, guard,” admitted Shalla Tanni. At that he used his free hand to draw his short sword. Tarrid saw this and did the same. Now the swordplay increased as a swirl of blades flew about both of the two duelists. The Jeddak managed to break though the Green Man's defense and cut him on the thigh with the short sword.
“That move won me the award in Zodanga,” said Shalla Tanni with no small pride.
“And this one bested John Carter once,” replied Tarrid as his long sword found a weakness and sent the blade in and nicked the ruler's neck.
“A nice move, Thark,” admitted the Jeddak of Zor. “I think we should have dueled before this. I haven't have this much fun since my wedding night.”
“Which one?” asked the Green Man. But the comment distracted him and the Zorian penetrated his defense and cut him on the stomach. It was painful but not serious.
“Valla, would you shoot this calot?” requested the Jeddak to his wife.
“I see you are evenly matched. By the rules of dueling I can not intervene—nor can your guards. If they should, will will be obliged to shot them.” She glanced at the Jeddak's guards, none of them seemed interested in joining the fray—they seemed generally fascinated with the duel.
“I should have known that the daughter of John Carter would know all the rules of dueling,” commented Shalla Tanni with a smile.
“I have even studied the rules they have in Zor,” she added. “I have had much time to read in my golden prison.”
“The ancients believed women should never be permitted to learn the art of reading,” commented the ruler as he beat back another attack. “I am now inclined to agree with them on this.”
Tarrid saw an opening and cut the ruler on the arm, above a bracelet he wore
“Getting tired, sire?” the Green Man asked as the Jeddak redoubled his defense.
“Not in the least,” he answered as he launched a new attack.
The duel was perhaps the best one that Valla had ever seen. Even duels when she watched her father were not as exciting. She had to admit that Shalla Tanni was a good duelist. Still, with all his attacks, he couldn't bring the match to an end. Even the guards were fascinated, watching the bout. Valla could see that the Jeddak was starting to weaken. He was fighting more and more on the defense with fewer attacks.
Tarrid broke though and cut the Jeddak on the shoulder again. This seemed to do something to the Zorian.
He took his short sword and threw it at the green man. Tarrid blocked it with his long sword, then cast away his short sword to keep the match fair. He then pressed his attack home on the ruler.
“One good thing about being Jeddak,” said the ruler, “You get to write the rules.”
He then drew his radium pistol and shot Tarrid's hand! Causing it to explode and sending the long sword flying. Even the guards hissed at this breach of the dueling rules. Shalla Tanni, fired again, hitting Tarrid in the chest . Then again, hitting the green man's other arm. Rage filled the Tharks face. With one of his arms he drew his dagger and rushed the Jeddak. He cried only two words: “John Carter”. He rushed forward plunging the dagger deep into the rulers chest, all the way to the hilt. A look of shock and surprise filled Shalla Tanni's face as the two fell on the blood stained floor. The guards rushed in.
“The Jeddak is dead,” announced one. Valla was at Tarrid, still a spark of life lingered in his huge frame.
“Tarrid,” she said, tears rolling from her eyes. “Don't leave me.”
“Sasoom calls me,” he said, “before I go, know that I love you Valla.”
“And I love you green man.” she answered. In a moment his eyes closed for ever and he was gone.
“Jeddara,” asked a guard, “What are your orders?”
She sat on the floor, wiping away the tears with her sleeve.
“You, tell all in the palace, all fighting must stop. By order of the Jeddara.”
She turned to another guard. “Have servants and guards come her and carry the bodies of the Jeddak and Tarrid to the thrown room. Carry the ruler with all the respect you can. He was the rightful ruler of Zor and deserves your respect.”
Valla stood up, blood stained her dress. She clapped her hands. “Servants, attend me.” Almost as if by magic, the servant girls appeared bowing.
“Fetch for me my best dress and jewels, I must address the nobles of Zor.” Some of the servants were staring at the body of the Jeddak. None showed any remorse for the ruler who had their tongues ripped out.
They bowed and began to find just the right apparel, Others brought a basin of water to wash away the tears and blood.
Valla turned to the last guard.
“Tell, the nobles that are assembled in the throne room that I will speak to them. Make sure they know that Shalla Tanni, died in a legal duel with the green man. Go now! At once!”
“Yes, Jeddara,” he said with a salute and rushed out of the room.
XIII. THE JEDDAH OF ZOR
Dressed in her finest, Valla of Helium left the golden prison, she had her servants follow her down the ramp into the opulent chamber where she was married. The room as packed, The bodies of both Tarrid and Shalla Tanni were on the floor before the dais. The chains still drug as she crossed the floor. The nobles were speaking in a low voice as soon as she entered. She took the stage and raised her hands.
“Someone tell, my father, John Cater, to come here, but with sheathed swords. I command no more bloodshed this night.” at that some of the nobles clapped.
“I offer you a choice, people of Zor.” she said in a loud voice. “ You can be taken into the the Empire of Helium, as my father would like, there would be many advantages as part of the vast empire of Helium, rich trade, defense and the protection of the fleet of Helium. Or, I offer you another choice. I can rule as your Jeddara … I will try...”
She didn't get a chance to explain further as the cries of “rule us! Our Jeddara,” and other positive calls.
“I agree with your choice and I will do all I can to rule wisely. I would like the help of an elected council of nobles, 100 member to help me. From your ranks would be most helpful.”
Just then John Carter and a few others entered, Kortis, went to the body of Tarrid, His hands pressed to his temples in the style of the prayers of the Seventh Cycle. Even John Carter was moved. He noticed that his hand was shot away—in a clear violation of the rules of dueling.
“Enjoy your Mint Julep, my friend,” he said.
“I decree that from this day on both Seventh and Tenth Cycle Therns shall worship in Zor,” pronounced the Jeddara. There will be freedom of religion to all Zorians. I command Kortis to build a legal temple for his followers.”
“We shall name it for Tarrid,” said Kortis, “We would like to intern his remains within the temple.”
“Granted,” said the ruler.
“I would like to propose that Helium contribute to the restoration of the Temple of the eternal Issus that was bombed,” Said the Warlord, “It is a treasure to all Barsoom.”
“Zor, will help with the restoration as well.” said the Jeddara. “Now, summons the armorer here—I wish to be rid of these chains.” At this some of the nobles clapped.
A small man came with a box of tools and began to cut away the chains at her ankles.
“Father, I have been thinking. I believe that when Shalla Tanni asked for a 25% cut in the trade treaty that was a bit excessive. I believe 20% would be fare.”
“Granted,” answered, John Carter, “and the military assistance as well.” At that moment the chains fell away from her ankles.
The Jeddara turned to the armorer. “I would like you to cut away the chains from my wrists. But leave on the welded cuffs. I wish to wear them to remind me of my bondage and all who died to protect and free me. I have another decree, from this day on forced marriages are banned in Zor.” Some of the nobles clapped, mostly women.
“My servant girls, who were with me though my ordeal, and suffered having their tongues ripped out, I will ask my father to communicate with the medical genius, Ras Thavas, to see if there tongues can be restored in someway. He is perhaps the only person who could perform such an operation.” The girls clapped at this.
“I decree, three days of mourning for the Jeddak, and that he be buried with full honors in his family crypt. He was of Zor and should be honored by this subjects.” Some clapped, other hissed at this name.
“I further decree that a treaty of alliance with Helium be signed—as equals. You will find that you can learn much from Helium, and Helium can learn much from Zor.”
“She left Helium a headstrong girl,” commented John Carter to Kortis, “Now she has become a true Jeddara. I believe Zor is lucky to have her.”
“I believe you are right, sire,” answered the Thern.
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Ch. I and II
Ch. III and IV
Ch. V and VI
Ch. VII and VIII
Ch. IX and X
Ch. XI and XIII
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