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Volume 2270
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Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter®of Mars

Volume 2270


70. "DAK KOVA'S PRIZE" -- (for Apr. 4, '43)
(read novelization

P1: Ancient Warhoon towered grimly over the dusty hunters as they moved through the lonely streets to Bar Koma's palace. 

P2: Bar Komas told Dak Kova: "Place him in the dungeons until I decide his fate." 

P3: But Dak Kova angrily shouted: "He is my prisoner and I choose to have him battle a wild thoat in the Great Games." 

P4: For this disobedience, Bar Komas struck his subordinate a mighty blow with his two right fists. 

P5: Then Bar Komas leaped upon Dar Kova, chocking and beating him savagely. 

P6: But suddenly Dak Kova buried his single mighty tusk in the Jeddak's chest and ripped open Bar Komas to the chin. 

P7: And so the new Jeddak of Warhoon dragged John Carter off to await death in the Great Games. 

P8: He was chained in an old dungeon betneath the palace and out of the darkness, evil glowing eyes stared at him. 


1. Compare 


Novelization of the JCB strip by Dale R. Broadhurst

John Carter slipped back into blissful unconsciousness. The green hag strapped the Earthman securely onto the thoat that had carried him hither, but now the old nurse occupied the saddle and from there attentended to the wounded human. Thousands of years of constant warfare had given the six-limbed giants plenty of time in which practice their therapeutic powers while on the run. Once again the caravan was in motion. The vastness of ancient Warhoon swallowed up the savage riders as they moved silently through its lonely, dilapidated avenues. Here and there campfires flickered amidst the ruins, where the green race lived as nomads among the deserted buildings and courtyards. Only the royal family and a handful of powerful nobles lived in dwellings that remotely resembled the habitations of civilized beings. 

One set of gigantic buildings still retained some semblance of archaic grandeur. This was the well guarded palace of the Jeddak of the hordes of Warhoon. And standing directly behind these impressive piles was a lofty citadel. Viewed together, these two clusters of prehistoric architecture were an imposing sight to behold. Here and there the remains of statuary and wall carvings offered a hint of the lost culture that once flourished within the ancient city. But the barbarian band moved past these monumental ruins without a sideward glance. They were headed for the Jeddak's ceremonial encampment in the great plaza of Warhoon 

In the short hour he spent under the green hag's care John Carter's wounds began to heal with amazing quickness. So effective were the applications and injections of the elderly female, and so deftly had she bound and plastered his injuries, that the Earthman awoke to find his pain greatly eased. His hunger and thirst were alleviated with a few gulps of cold meat stew provided by the nurse. It was the first and last resembling kindness that he ever witnessed among the Warhoon. 

Soon Dak Kova the Dreadful and his cortege reached the city center and the ring of sentinels guarding the Jeddak's array of huge tents, guardhouses, thoat pens and decaying trash heaps. The Warhoon nurse pulled John Carter from the thoat's back, splashed a pail of water over his blood-caked, nude figure and handed him a crutch. The walking-stick proved to be unnecessary and the injured Earthman managed to hobble through the darkness, closely following the Jed's dismounted lieutenants. At the entrance to the royal tent bonfires lit up a knot of evil looking guards, who paid their minimal respects by remaining silent and sullenly attentive as Dak Kova strode by. 

Inside the great tent a red slave appeared, bowed low before Dak Kova and then approached the throne at the far end of the tent, crawling upon his hands and knees. 

"Oh Majestic Lord of the Land! Mighty General and Commander! Bar Konas, Jeddak of Warhoon and Governor of all her Tributaries! The Jed of the Banth Horde seeks audience with Your Lordship!" 

Bright torches illuminated the spacious interior and furnished sufficient light for John Carter to scrutinize the seated figure of the Warhoon Jeddak even at a distance. Like Jed Dak Kova, he was frightfully scarred, and also decorated with the breastplate of human skulls and dried body parts which marks all the commanding royality and nobility among the Warhoon. Not even the feriocious Tharks (whom the Warhoon claim are a subordinate horde in rebellion to their authority) are so vicious as to suspend the rotting, detached arms of children, breasts of women, and intestines of male victims from their corpulent necks. 

Despite his many battle scars and larger mass, the Jeddak Bar Komas was obviously much younger than Jed Dak Kova and most of the other high-ranking giants at the ceremonial encampment. John Carter, standing to one side of his captor, comprehend at once the hatred and contempt that filled the Jed's dark heart. Dak Kova was clearly making an attempt to affront his superior, by omitting the obsequious salutations due the preeminent leader of the hordes. Instead he roughly pushed the bronze-skinned outlander before the ruler and loudly exclaimed, "I have captured this strange creature for exhibition in the Great Games. I found him in the stolen metal of a Thark, but he can run from an enemy faster than any Thark! He wasted my time and he will see a dastard's death!" 

"You dishonor the respect shown this throne by your fathers, Dak Kova! The little man will die as your jeddak, sees fit, if at all," replied the young ruler, in a carefully measured response. "Now place him in the dungeons until ..." 

"If at all?" roared Dak Kova. "He is my prisoner and he shall be meat for the wild thoats in the Great Games. We have no need for your weak indecision here -- it is time that Warhoon is ruled by warriors and not a water-hearted weakling who shames his grandfather's metal!" 

Before old Dak Kova could finish his treat -- to tear the metal from Bar Komas' harness with his bare hands -- the monster on the barbaric dais had hurled himself across the open space and struck his scornful subordinate terrific blows from his two right fists. It appeared to all that the jeddak's might had prevailed, but as he drew apart from the half-downed jed, Bar Komas teetered in his balance for an instant. It was all the opening that Dak Kova needed, and leaping upward from his knees the powerful giant buried his single good lower tusk in Bar Comas' groin and ripped the young leader open all the way to the chin. 

All of this occurred in less time than the telling of it takes. Not a single sword was raised in Bar Komas' defense and, until his lieutenants stepped forward to offer their support, not a finger in the great tent was moved to assist the rebellious jed. Bar Komas lay stone dead in his gore, and two shattered bones protruded from Dak Kova's blood-drenched hide. By custom he was now the uncrowned Jeddak of Warhoon. In a day or two, after his wounds had been treated, he would return to the tent to sever the unmoved corpse's head and hands. Then, by placing a foot upon the stub of a neck Dak Kova the Dreadful could assume the title and honors of his erstwhile ruler. 

The uncanny stillness was at last broken by wild and terrible laughter. The assembled nobles gathered their retainers about them and filed out of the tent behind the reeling but still conscious Dak Kova. The lights were extinguished; the guard disbanded and replaced by few of the new ruler's trusted clansmen. All John Carter could do was guess that such events were commonplace in uncivilized Warhoon, as he also followed the substitute jeddak's trail of blood out into the open plaza. Barely able to stand, the injured Earthman offered no resistance as rough green hands dragged him off to an old dungeon beneath the royal palace. While Dak Kova recovered from his impairment in barbarous comfort, ten floors above, the captive swordsman could lick his wounds, in the gloom and stench of a basement cell where he had been thrown -- to await certain death in the Great Games. 

The speed with which these latest events had transpired left the weakened fighting man dazed and exhausted. One scene blended into another as he struggled to remain alert. Along the way to his cell he overheard some Warhoon guards muttering in disappointment over some changes in schedule concerning a planned raid upon Thark. Captain Carter groggily wished he might somehow inform Tars Tarkas of the impending danger -- then there was a cold, slimy floor, a pile of bones for a pillow, and nothing else but deathly silence. 


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