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Volume 4126
Presents
James Killian Spratt's Graphic Interpretation of 
Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars 

Part III
CHAPTER 24b
(click panels for full-screen size).

Page 330 
Tars Tarkas was silent for a few moments,
gazing afar at some vision that only he could see, 
but no longer demurred to go before Tal Hajus.

“Then we shall go, John Carter,” he said quietly, 
“but first I would share a few words with Sarkoja. 
Come with me.”
 


All this was momentous news 
to the women of Tars Tarkas’ house. 
Least surprised was Zephira, Captain of Household, 
his oldest ward, who had herself known Gozava. 

Zephira knew well 
Tars Tarkus’ exceptional kindness toward women 
and had occasionally suspected something of the sort. 

She also feared what Sarkoja might do 
once she got this stunning news, 
and knew she must strike first.


Page 331
Zephira addressed her sisters: 
“Our master Tars Tarkas goes to see Sarkoja 
on the matter of Gozava and Sola. 

I can see no good to come of this
—Tars Tarkas may not kill Sarkoja,
but she will see to the ruin of this house if she is able. 
We need to assure that her lips are sealed, forever, 
ere she tattles her half-truths to Tal Hajus. 
Who is with me?”


The senior women in Tars Tarkas’ house knew 
that neither threats nor reason 
would prevent Sarkoja from running to tell Tal Hajus
of their master’s alleged guilt. 
Tars Tarkas would be tortured and killed, 
as would Sola, and they, 
with Tars Tarkas gone, 
would be separated out to other, 
less happy houses.

With very little discussion or argument,
five set out for Sarkoja’s quarters 
with steel at their hips and blood in their eyes.


Page 332:

A short walk brought us to Sarkoja’s quarters, 
and the look of venomous hatred 
she gave me was almost recompense
for any future grief
this accidental return to Thark might bring me.
 
 



 
 

Tars Tarkas spoke: 
“Sarkoja, forty years ago
you were instrumental in 
the torture and death of a woman 
named Gozava.”


Page 333

He continued, 
“I have just discovered that the warrior 
who loved her has learned of 
your complicity in her death. 

By our custom he may not kill you, 
but nothing would prevent him tying a strap
around your neck, 
with the other end tied to a wild thoat, 
merely to test your fitness to survive 
and help perpetuate our race.”


“Having heard that 
he would do this on the morrow, 
I thought it only right and just to warn you. 
The River Iss
is but a short pilgrimage, Sarkoja. 
Come, John Carter.”


Page 334:

Without further words 
Tars Tarkas and I departed, 
and hastened to the Jeddak’s palace 
to face Tal Hajus.

As we later learned, 
Zephira’s war-party had just arrived. 
She put her ear to an open window,
covered within by a mere cloth hanging, 
and could hear Sarkoja cursing vehemently.



 “Tars Tarkas!—Gozava’s lover! 
I KNEW it was him!!”  Sarkoja crowed. 
“That arrogant son of a calot! 
How DARE that criminal affront me thus!”

Transcendant with cold rage she hissed
“But at last I shall be rid of him—
Gozava’s partner in degeneracy! 
Tal Hajus will torture
the illegitimate whelp’s name 
from the mighty Tars Tarkus, 
and make an agonized end of both of them! 
Come, we must make haste 
while the whole Council may hear as one!”


Page 335:
 
Sarkoja and her underlings 
set out for Tal Hajus’ palace 
at a rapid pace, 
with gleams of self-righteous triumph 
in their wicked eyes, 
savoring the prospect of bloody vengeance 
against those who had so long eluded 
and defied them.
With bared blades 
Zephira and her party charged,
intent upon assassination. 


 Unnoticed by either of the groups 
destined to momentarily meet in anger
was Woola, who, out of a natural curiosity, 
considerable fondness and an 
habitual skulking, stalking, predatory nature,
had followed Zephira’s band
to Sarkoja’s quarters. 
Of all upon Barsoom,
the things Woola despised most 
were banths, ulsios, firearms and Sarkoja, 
who had hunted him surreptitiously,
yet unsuccessfully, 
many times over his four decades.

 
 Page 336:
Over the period of Woola’s residence among the Tharks, he and Sarkoja had cultivated a relationship of delicious mutual loathing.  In the occasional attempts of Sarkoja and her cronies to exterminate him, Woola gloried in goading them to fury by racing away at his top speed just as they brought their pistols to bear, as impossible to hit as he was impossible to see. Sarkoja, of course, could not ignore Woola’s gleeful impudence.

Woola had also witnessed in his time more than a few Thark-to-Thark shootings, and, having few real friends among them, seldom cared about the outcomes. But here was Sarkoja, making the same loud, ugly noises at his friends that she commonly directed at him, with her hand on her pistol. Woola instantly charged.

Page 337:
 
As her cowardly cohorts
dropped their weapons and ran, 
Sarkoja, caring not at all about
the dishonor of replying 
to blades with bullets, 
but intent on winning at any cost, 
cleared leather and 
pointed her pistol at Zephira,
only to have her target blocked 
y the body of Woola, 
moving at such a speed 
as to barely register in her vision 
as a blurry streak, coming straight at her. 

Sarkoja felt a brief,
light tug on her gun-hand, 
then with all the hatred in her heart,
repeatedly pressed her trigger
fast and hard as she vengefully tried 
to empty her pistol into Woola, 
Zephira and the rest of her deputation. 
But she heard no shots. 
Puzzled--

Page 338:

--Sarkoja looked down 
at the stump of her gun-arm, 
fountaining blood. 
Comprehending and enraged beyond fury, 
she swung her sword wildly
at two of her despised foes, 
coming on swiftly with their blades
flashing in the moonlights.
 



She barely felt the impacts 
of the blades upon her scrawny neck, 
but watched in stunned disbelief
as the world spun in her vision, 
the pavement leaped up and 
slammed her hard in the face, 
and all went black.

 
 Page 339:

In the blink of an eye Woola had torn away Sarkoja’s pistol, along with the hand that had held it. He ran a short way then stopped and dropped his grisly morsel, and looked back to see that Sarkoja would never hunt him again. 


Neither would her cowardly accomplices.  Nightfall had brought a new army, of dangerous scavengers, which they had noticed just a little too late.

CHAPTERS
Intro | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 15a | 16 | 16a | 17 | 17a | 18 | 19 | 19a | 19b | 20 | 20a | 20b
| 21 | 21a | 21b | 21c | 22 | 22a | 23 | 23a | 24 | 24a | 24b |

CONTENTS


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