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Volume 3375
Part Three (continued from ERBzine 3374)
The Tenth Runner-Up in the Seven Wonders of Barsoom
J. Allen St. John wraparound: Swords of Mars - 5 interiors
Woodrow Edgar Nichols, Jr.
D) Ur Jan, Chief of the Assassins Guild of Zodanga:

Ur Jan is a bit of an enigma, since at the beginning of Swords of Mars he is the main enemy of John Carter, whereas by the end he has sworn allegiance to the Warlord and placed his sword at his feet. We first meet him at his headquarters which John Carter, as Vandor the Panthan, has surreptitiously infiltrated by landing his flier on the roof and sneaking inside. He explores corridors until he hears the sound of voices:

“I knew that I was dealing with killers, expert swordsmen all; and I did not try to deceive myself into believing that I would be any match for a dozen or more of them.

“However, men who live by the sword are not unaccustomed to taking chances, sometimes far more desperate chances than their mission may seem to warrant.

“Perhaps such was the case now, but I had come to Zodanga to learn what I could about the guild of assassins headed by the notorious Ur Jan; and now that fortune had placed me in a position where I might gain a great deal of useful information, I had no thought of retreating because a little danger confronted me.” (SM/3.)

He enters a room where the sound of voices is loudest and discovers that they are coming from the room adjoining the small anteroom he has just entered. It contains a table, benches, and an old-fashioned cupboard. He places his ear against the door to the main room in an effort to overhear what is going on, but he can’t make anything out. Then he hears footsteps approaching. He hides behind the cupboard, which is at such an angle against the wall that he can see the door through a slim crack.
“Nor was I a moment to soon. The men in the corridor turned into the room almost immediately, so soon, in fact, that it seemed to me that they must have seen me; but evidently they had not, for they crossed directly to the door to the inner chamber, which one of them threw open.

“From my hiding place I could see this man plainly and also into the room beyond, while the shadow of the cupboard hid me from detection. 

“What I saw beyond that door gave me something to think about. There was a large room in the center of which was a great table, around which were seated at least fifty men – fifty of the toughest-looking customers that I have ever seen gathered together. At the head of the table was a huge man whom I knew at once to be Ur Jan. He was a very large man, but well proportioned; and I could tell at a glance that he must be a most formidable fighter.

“The man who had thrown open the door I could see also, but I could not see his companion or companions as they were hidden from me by the cupboard.

“Ur Jan had looked up as the door opened. ‘What now?’ he demanded. ‘Who have you with you?’ and then, ‘Oh, I recognize him.’
“‘He has a message for you, Ur Jan,’ said the man at the door. ‘He said it was most urgent message, or I would not have brought him here.’

“‘Let him come in,’ said Ur Jan. ‘We will see what he wants, and you return to your post.’

“‘Go on in,’ said the man, turning to his companion behind him, ‘and pray to your first ancestor that your message interests Ur Jan; as otherwise you will not come out of that room again on your own feet.’” (SM/4.)

The companion is, of course, Rapas the Ulsio, come to sell out John Carter and Fal Silvas. Rapas wants to become a member of the guild and calls Ur Jan the greatest man on Barsoom: 
“All men are susceptible to flattery, and oftentimes the more ignorant they are, the more susceptible. Ur Jan was no exception. One could almost see him preening himself. He squared his great shoulders and threw out his chest.

“‘Well,’ he said in a milder voice, ‘we’ll think it over. Perhaps we can use you, but first you will have to arrange it so that we can dispose of this Vandor.’ He glances quickly around the table. ‘Do any of you men know him?’

“There was a chorus of denials – no one admitted to knowing me.

“‘I can point him out to you,’ said Rapas the Ulsio. ‘I can point him out this very night.’

“‘What makes you think so?’ asked Ur Jan.

“‘Because I have an engagement to meet him later on at an eating-place that he frequents.’

“‘Not a bad idea,’ said Ur Jan. ‘At what time is this meeting?’

“‘About half after the eighth zode,’ replied Rapas.

“Ur Jan glanced quickly around the table. ‘Uldak,’ he said, ‘you go with Rapas; and don’t return while this Vandor still lives.’” (SM/4.)

Uldak and Rapas leave and Carter thinks he will have to wait until the meeting is over since the door is still open; if he leaves the assassins with see him. Fortunately, Ur Jan has someone else close the door and Carter escapes so he can duel with Uldak. He kills Uldak and then kills the next assassin sent after him, Povak. He avoids two more assassins sent to kill him and visits the guild once again. This time, he decides to forget about going inside and hiding behind the cupboard, electing instead to hover his flier overhead and lower himself by a line over the balcony outside Ur Jan’s conference room:
“I brought my flier to rest at the edge of roof directly above the room in which the assassins met; then I made a rope fast to one of the rings in her gunwale. 

“Lying on my belly, I looked over the edge of the roof to make sure of my position and found that I had gauged it to a nicety. Directly below me was the edge of a balcony before a lighted window. My rope hung slightly to one side of the window where it was not visible to those within the room.

“Carefully I set the controls of my ship and then tied the end of a light cord to the starting lever. These matters attended to, I grasped the rope and slipped over the eaves of the roof, carrying the light cord in one hand.

“I descended quietly, and as I had left my weapons on my flier lest they clank against one another or scrape against the side of the building as I descended and thus attract attention to me.

“Very cautiously I descended; and when I had come opposite to the window, I found that I could reach out with one hand and grasp the rail of the balcony. I drew myself slowly to it and into a position where I could stand securely.

“Shortly after I had dropped below the edge of the roof, I had heard voices; and now that I was close to the window, I was delighted to discover that it was open and that I could hear quite well nearly all that was going on within the room. I recognized Ur Jan’s voice. He was speaking as I drew myself to the balcony.

“‘Even if we get him tonight,’ he said, ‘and he is the man I think he is, we can still collect ransom from the girl’s father or grandfater.’

“‘And it should be a fat ransom,’ said another voice.

“All that a great ship will carry,’ replied Ur Jan, ‘and with a promise of immunity for all the assassins of Zodanga and their promise that they will not persecute us further.’” (SM/9.)

Carter wonders what they are discussing and hears a rapping noise on a door inside. He next hears a door opening and the sound of men entering the conference room.
“‘Ah,’ exclaimed Ur Jan, clapping his hands together. ‘You two got him tonight! Two of you were too many for him, eh?’

“‘We did not get him,’ replied a surly voice.

“‘What?’ demanded Ur Jan. ‘Did he not come to the eating-place tonight?’

“‘He was there all right,’ said another voice, which I recognized instantly as that of Rapas. ‘I had him there, as I promised.’

“‘Well, why didn’t you get him?’ demanded Ur Jan angrily.

“‘When he left the eating-place,’ explained one of the other men, ‘we followed him immediately; but he had disappeared when we reached the avenue. He was nowhere in sight; and though we walked rapidly all the way to the house of Fal Silvas, we saw nothing of him.’” (SM/9.)

Fal Silvas demands to know if Vandor was suspicious, but Rapas assures him that he was not. Rapas tells him not to worry for Vandor is going to meet him again tomorrow night at the same place.
“‘Listen,’ said Ur Jan; ‘you must not fail me tomorrow. I am sure that this man is John Carter. After all, though, I am glad that we did not kill him. I have just thought of a better plan. I will send four of you tomorrow night to wait near the house of Fal Silvas. I want you to take John Carter alive and bring him to me. With him alive, we can collect two shiploads of treasure for his princess.’

“‘And then we will have to hide in the pits of Zodanga all the rest of our lives,’ demurred one of the assassins.

“Ur Jan laughed. ‘After we collect the ransom, John Carter will never bother us again,’ he said.

“‘You mean –’

“‘I am an assassin, am I not?’ demanded Ur Jan. ‘Do you think that an assassin will let a dangerous enemy live?’” (SM/9.)

Carter now has the big picture and determines that he will foil the plan by returning immediately to Helium to protect his princess, but instead he lingers on to hear the rest of the conversation.
“‘But,’ objected one of Ur Jan’s lieutenants, ‘even if you succeed in getting Dejah Thoris – ’

“‘There is no “even” about it,’ snapped Ur Jan. ‘It is already as good as accomplished. I have been preparing for this for a long time. I have done it very secretly so that there would be no leak; but now that we are ready to strike, it makes no difference. I can tell you that two of my men are guards in the palace of the princess, Dejah Thoris.’

“‘Well, granted that you can get her,’ objected the former speaker skeptically, ‘where can you hide her? Where, upon all Barsoom, can you hide the Princess of Helium from the great Tardos Mors, even if you are successful in putting John Carter out of the way?’

“‘I shall not hide her on Barsoom,’ replied Ur Jan.

“‘What, not upon Barsoom? Where, then?’

“‘Thuria,’ replied Ur Jan.

“‘Thuria!’ the speaker laughed. ‘You will hide her on the nearer moon. That is good, Ur Jan. That would be a splendid hiding-place – if you could get here there.’

“‘I can get here there all right. I am not acquainted with Gar Nal for nothing.’

“‘Oh, you mean that fool ship he is working on? The one in which he expects to go visiting around among the planets? You don’t think that thing will work, even after he gets it finished, do you – if he ever does get it finished?’

“‘It is finished,’ replied Ur Jan, ‘and it will fly to Thuria.’

“‘Well, even if it will, we do not know how to run it.’

“‘Gar Nal will run it for us. He needs a vast amount of treasure to complete other boats, and for a share of the ransom he has agreed to pilot the ship for us.’” (SM/9.)

Carter marvels over the details of the plan and decides that he cannot afford to waste another minute.
“As I started to climb the rope and swung away from the balcony, a part of my harness caught upon one of its iron ornaments; and when I attempted to disengage it, the thing broke loose and fell upon the balcony.

“‘What was that?’ I heard Ur Jan’s voice demand, and then I heard footsteps coming toward the window. They came fast, and an instant later the figure of Ur Jan loomed before me. 

“‘A spy,’ he yelled, and leaped onto the balcony. “Were I prone to seek excuses of myself to explain the causes of misfortunes which overtake me, I might, at that moment, have inquired why Fate should throw her weight in favor of evildoers and against me. My cause was, unquestionably, a cause of righteousness, yet the trifling fact that an iron ornament upon a balcony in the city of Zodanga had been loose and that my harness had accidentally caught upon it had placed me in a situation from which it seemed likely that I could not escape with my life.’

“However, I was not dead yet; and I had no intention of resigning myself to the dictates of an unkind and unjust Fate without a struggle. Furthermore, in the idiom of a famous American game, I had an ace in the hole.

“As Ur Jan clambered out onto the balcony, I had swung away from it, clinging to the rope attached to my flier above; and, at the same time, I started to  climb.

“Like a pendulum I swung; and, having reached the end of my arc, I swung back again, seemingly directly into the arms of Ur Jan.
“It all happened very quickly, much more quickly than I can tell it. Ur Jan laid hold of the hilt of his sword; I drew my knees well up against my body; I swung toward him; then, as I was almost upon him, I kicked him with both feet full in the chest and with all my strength.

“Ur Jan swaggered back against another of the assassins who was following him onto the balcony, and they both went down in a heap.

“Simultaneously, I pulled on the light cord that I had attached to the starting lever of my motor. In response, the ship rose; and I rose with it, dangling at the end of my rope.

“My situation was anything but an enviable one. I could not, of course, guide the ship; and if it failed to rise rapidly enough, I stood an excellent chance of being dashed to death against some building as I was dragged across the city; but even this menace was by no means the greatest which threatened me, for now I heard a shot, and a bullet whirred past me – that assassins were attempting to shoot me down.

“I climbed as rapidly as I could toward my flier; but climbing a small rope, while swinging beneath a rising airship, is not an enviable situation, even without the added hazard of being fired at by a band of assassins.

“The ship carried me diagonally across the avenue upon which stood the building that harbored Ur Jan’s band. I thought surely that I must hit the eaves of the opposite building; and, believe me, I put every ounce of my strength and agility into climbing that rope, as I swung rapidly across the avenue. 

“In this instance, however, Fate favored me; and I skimmed just above the roof of the building.

“That assassins were still firing at me, but I imagine that most of their hits in the past had been scored with daggers or poison, for their pistol practice was execrable.

“At last my fingers closed over the gunwale of my ship, and a moment later I had drawn myself to her deck. Reaching for her controls, I opened the throttle wide and set her nose for Helium.” (SM/9-10.)

We don’t run into Ur Jan again until Carter, as Vandor, steals Fal Silvas’s ship and follows him to Thuria, where they are all captured by the invisible Tarids. Vandor finally meets Ur Jan when they are all dragged before the Jeddak and Jeddara of the Tarids. In the meantime Vandor has learned the Tarid language from Umka, the Cat-Man, and has learned to mentally break
through their telepathic suggestion so that he can see and hear them. After exchanging words with his incomparable princess, Vandor turns his attention to Ur Jan:
“Ur Jan’s expression revealed his surprise when his eyes fell upon me. ‘You!’ he exclaimed.

“‘Yes, I, Ur Jan.’

“‘What are you doing here?’

“‘One of the pleasures of the trip I am to be robbed of by our captors,’ I replied.

“‘What do you mean?’ he asked.

“‘The pleasure of killing you, Ur Jan,’ I replied.

“He nodded understandingly, with a wry smile.” (SM/18.)

Vandor’s attention is diverted by the Jeddak and Ozara, the Jeddara, who is sexually stimulated by Vandor. As they talk about the captives among themselves, Vandor turns to his companions from Barsoom:
“‘Can any of you see and hear anything that is going on in this room?’ I asked.

“‘Except for ourselves, I can see no one and hear no one,’ said Gar Nal, and the others answered similiarly.

“‘We are all the victims of a form of hypnosis,’ I explained, ‘which makes it impossible for us either to see or hear our captors. By the exercise of the powers of your own minds you can free yourselves from this condition. It is not difficult. I succeeded in doing it. If the rest of you are also successful, our chances of escape will be much better, if an opportunity for escape arises. Believing that they are invisible to us, they will never be on their guard against us. As a matter of fact, I could, this moment, snatch a sword from the fellow at my side and kill the Jeddak and the Jeddara upon their thrones before anyone could prevent me.’

“‘We cannot work together,’ said Gar Nal, ‘while half of us have it in our hearts to kill the other half.’

“‘Let us call a truce on our own quarrels, then,’ I said, ‘until we have escaped from these people.’

“‘That is fair,’ said Gar Nal.

“‘Do you agree?’ I asked.

“‘Yes,’ he replied.

“‘And you, Ur Jan?’ I asked.

“‘It suits me,’ said the assassin of Zodanga.

“‘And you?’ demaned Gar Nal, looking at Jat Or.

“‘Whatever the – Vandor commands, I shall do,’ replied the padwar.

“Ur Jan bestowed a quick glance of a sudden comprehension upon me. ‘Ah,’ he exclaimed; ‘so you are also Vandor. Now I understand much that I did not understand before. Did that rat of a Rapas know?’

“I ignored his question. ‘And now,’ I said, ‘let us raise our hands and swear to abide by this truce until we have all escaped from the Tarids and, further, that each of us will do all in his power to the save the others.’

“Gar Nal, Ur Jan, Jat Or, and I raised our hands to swear.

“‘The women, too.’ said Ur Jan; and then Dejah Thoris and Zanda raised their hands, and thus we six swore to fight for one another to the death until we should be free from these enemies.

“It was a strange situation, for I had been commissioned to kill Gar Nal; and Ur Jan had sword to kill me, while I was intent on killing them; and Zanda, who hated them both, was but awaiting the opportunity to destroy me when she should learn my identity.” (SM/18.)

Then they are distracted because Ozara is convinced that Vandor can see and hear them and several tests are performed that convince the Jeddak that Ozara is imagining things as usual. They proceed with the hearing and the Jeddak determines that his father, the Fire God, wants Umka and four strange men in sacrifice but his father, the Fire God, has spared the women and
given them to his son. 

He orders the men removed to the holding cell of the Turquoise Tower and the women are consigned to the Tower of Diamonds. While in the Turquoise Tower Vandor explains to everyone what had happened in the throne room and that they have all been condemned as sacrifices to the Fire God.

“‘The Fire God?’ demanded Ur Jan. ‘Who is he?’

“‘The sun,’ I explained.

“‘But how could you understand that language?’ asked Gar Nal. ‘It cannot be possible that they speak the same tongue that is spoken upon Barsoom.’

“‘No,’ I replied, ‘they do not; but Umka, with whom I have been imprisoned ever since we were captured, has taught me the language of the Tarids.’

“‘What are Tarids?’ asked Jat Or.

“‘It is the name of the people in whose power we are,’ I explained.” (SM/19.)

They go back and forth like this for quite some time and Vandor finally has a chance to check out Gar Nal and Ur Jan in detail.
“Ur Jan, whom of course I had seen before, was just what one might have expected – a burly, brutal fighting man of the lowest type; but of the two, I thought then that I should have trusted Ur Jan farther than Gar Nal.

“It seemed strange to me to be confined here in such small quarters with two such bitter enemies; but I realized, as they must have also, that it would profit us nothing to carry on our quarrel under such circumstances, whereas if an opportunity to escape presented itself, four men who could wield swords would have a very much better chance to effect the liberty of all than if there were only two of us. There would not have been more than two, had we dared to continue our quarrel; for at least two of us, and possibly three, must have died in order to insure peace.” (SM/19.)

An opportunity soon arises when Ozara has Vandor shown to her quarters, where she plans on seducing him to help her escape. He hatches a plan with her and is soon returned to the holding cell:
“Jat Or voiced an exclamation of relief when he saw me enter the room. ‘When they took you away, my prince, I thought that I would never see you again; but now fate is growing kinder to me. She has just given me two prooofs of her returning favor – I have you back again, and when the door opened I saw the Tarids who returned with you.’

“‘You could see them?’ I exclaimed.

“‘I could see them and hear them,’ he replied.

“‘And I, too,’ said Gar Nal.

“‘And how about you, Ur Jan?’ I asked, for the more of us who could see them, the better chance we would have in the event that there was any fighting during our attempt to rescue the women and escape.

“Ur Jan shook his head gloomily. ‘I could see nothing or hear nothing,’ he said.

“‘Don’t give up,’ I urged; ‘you must see them. Persevere, and you shall see them.’” (SM/20.)

He has a long chat with Gar Nal about their spaceships. He informs Gar Nal that Fal Silvas’s ship is still hovering a hundred feet above the Tarid castle, but it has two Tarid warriors aboard.
“Ur Jan was sitting on a bench, glaring into space; and I knew that he was concentrating his stupid brain in effort to cast off the hypnotic spell under which the Tarid’s had placed him. Umka lay curled up on a rug, purring contentedly. Jat Or stood looking out one of the windows.

“The door opened, and we all turned toward it. I saw Ulah, the Jeddara's slave, bearing a large earthen jar of food. She set it down upon the floor inside the door, and stepping back into the corridor, closed and fastened the door after her.

“I walked quickly to the jar and picked it up; and as I turned back toward the others, I saw Ur Jan standing wide-eyed staring at the door. 

“‘What’s the matter, Ur Jan?’ I asked. ‘You look as though you had seen a ghost.’

“‘I saw her!’ he exclaimed. ‘I saw her. Ghost or no ghost, I saw her.’ 

“‘Good!’ ejaculated Jat Or; ‘now we are all free from that damnable spell.’

“‘Give me a good sword,’ growled Ur Jan, ‘and we’ll soon be free of the castle, too.’

“‘We’ve got to get out of this room first,’ Gar Nal reminded him.” (SM/20.)

To fully appreciate this scene, as I have stated many times before, the reader must remember that everyone is naked on Barsoom and Thuria. (See, “Nakedness on Mars,” ERBzine #3177.) Thus, the first Tarid that Ur Jan could see was a beautiful,  a blue-haired, sexy, naked, slave girl bending over. No wonder Jat Or answered Ur Jan’s exclamation with an ejaculation. Ozara has hidden files in the earthen jar so that they can get rid of the iron bars that cover the windows. They quickly go to work on the bars and soon they can remove them at any time. Vandor concentrates his mind on the mechanical brain in Fal Silvas’s spaceship and maneuvers it toward the Turquoise Tower:
“And then, across the sky I saw a great black hulk moving slowly toward me out of the night.

“For just an instant the reaction left me weak; but I soon regained control of myself and pulled aside the three bars that we had cut.

“The others, who had evidently been watching the window from where they either sat or stood, now pressed forward. I could hear smothered exclamations of surprise, relief, elation. Turning quickly, I cautioned them to silence.

“I directed the brain to bring the ship close to the window; then I turned again to my companions.

“‘There are two Tarid warriors aboard her,’ I said. ‘If they found the water and the food which she carried, they are still alive; and there is no reason to believe that starving men would not find it. We must therefore prepare ourselves for a fight. Each of these men, no doubt, is armed with a long sword and a dagger. We are unarmed. We shall have to overcome them with our bare hands.’

“I turned to Ur Jan. ‘When the door is opened, two of us must leap into the cabin simultaneously on the chance that we may take them by surprise. Will you go first with me, Ur Jan?’

“He nodded and a crooked smile twisted his lips. ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘and it will be a strange sight to see Ur Jan and John Carter fighting side by side.’

“‘At least we should put up a good fight,’ I said.

“‘It is too bad,’ he sighed, ‘that those two Tarids will never have the honor of knowing who killed them.’

“‘Jat Or, you and Gar Nal follow immediately behind Ur Jan and me.’ And then, in his own language, I told Umka to board the ship immediately after Jat Or and Gar Nal. ‘And if the fighting is not all over,’ I told him, ‘you will know what to do when you see the two Tarid warriors.’ His upper mouth stretched in one of his strange grins, and he purred contentedly.

“I stepped to the sill of the window, and Ur Jan clambered to my side. The hull of the craft was almost scraping the side of the building; the doorway was only a foot from the sill on which we stood.

“‘Ready, Ur Jan,’ I whispered, and then I directed the brain to draw the doors aside as rapidly as possible.

“Almost instantly, they sprang apart; and in the same instant Ur Jan and I sprang into the cabin. Behind us, came our three companions. In the gloom of the interior, I saw two men facing us; and without waiting to give either of them a chance to draw, I hurled myself at the legs of the nearer.

“He crashed to the floor, and before he could draw his dagger I seized both his wrists and pinioned him on his back.

“I did not see how Ur Jan handled his man; but a moment later, with the assistance of Jat Or and Umka, we had disarmed them both.

“Ur Jan and Gar Nal wanted to kill them offhand, but that I would not listen to. I can kill a man in a fair fight without a single qualm of conscience; but I cannot kill a defenseless man in cold blood, even though he may be my enemy.” (SM/20.)

Thus spake John Carter, the killer moralist. Of course, as we have seen from his many adventures, sometimes the Warlord is willing to bend his own rules. As the story progresses, Carter takes command of the ship and lands it next to Gar Nal’s spaceship. Gar Nal will thus fly parallel to Carter with their side doors open, allowing Gar Nal to cross into the room and the three women to escape from the Tower of Diamonds. All is going according to plan as Carter pilots his ship next to the window of the Tower of Diamonds, which Ozara has marked with a red scarf.
“The discovery of the scarlet scarf flying from the window had not wholly reassured me, as I was full conscious of the fact that it might have been placed there as a lure; but the presence of the three women in the chamber appeared reasonable evidence that Ozara had carried our her part of the agreement loyally.

“As the ship came closer to the sill, I prepared to leap into the room beyond; and just as I jumped I heard a voice raised in alarm and warning far below me at the base of the tower. We had been discovered.

“As I alighted from the window of the chamber, Dejah Thoris voiced a little exclamation of happiness. ‘My chieftan!’ she cried. ‘I knew that you would come. Wherever they might have taken me, I knew that you would follow.’

“‘To the end of the universe, my Princess,’ I replied.

“The warning cry from below that told me that we had been discovered left no time left for greeting or explanation, nor would either Dejah Thoris or myself reveal to strangers the emotions that were in our breasts, I wanted to take her to my heart, to crush her beautiful body to mine, to cover her lips with kisses; but instead I only said, ‘Come, we must board the ship at once. The guard below has raised the alarm.’

“Zanda came and clutched my arm. ‘I knew you would come, Vandor,’ she said.” (SM/21.)

Carter takes time to muse over the fact that Zanda seems ignorant of his true identity, giving him time to make the stupid mistake that will lead to the suspense of the battle of the Tower of Diamonds. This is how you write a cliffhanger. Carter’s stupid mistake will give the Tarids time to foil the rescue. His stupid mistake was not to have commanded the brain to remain at the window. Instead it drifts away and by the time Carter has the women ready, the ship is not there, creating the scenario for the greatest swordfight – next to the battle of the Tower of Kadabra – in the series:
“The three women shared my consternation.

“‘The ship!’ exclaimed Dejah Thoris.

“‘Where has it gone?’ cried Ozara.

“‘We are lost,’ said Zanda, quite simply. ‘I can hear armed men running up the stairway.’

“Suddenly I realized what had happened. I had directed the brain to approach the window, but I had not told it to stop. I had jumped, and it had gone on before my companions could follow me; and Gar Nal, not knowing what had occurred, had continued on with it, following me as I had directed.

“Instantly, I centered my thoughts upon the mechanical brain and directed it to bring the ship back to the window and stop there. Self-reproach was now useless but I could not help to be cognizent of the fact that my carelessness had jeopardized the safety of my princess and those others who had looked to me for protection.

“I could now plainly hear the warriors approaching. They were coming swiftly. From the window I could see both ships turning now. Would they reach us before it was too late? I commanded the brain to fly at the highest speed compatible with safety. It leaped forward in response to my wishes. The warriors were very close now. I judged that they were approaching the next level below. In another moment, they would be at the door.

“I carried the long sword of one of the Tarid warriors that we had overpowered in the cabin of the craft, but could a single sword for long prevail over the many that I knew must be coming?

“The ships drew closer, Gar Nal’s almost abreast of mine. I saw Jat Or and Ur Jan standing in the doorway of Fal Silvas’s ship.
“‘The alarm has been raised and warriors are almost at the door,’ I called to them. ‘I will try to hold them off while you get the women aboard.’

“Even as I spoke, I heard the enemy just outside the door of the chamber. ‘Stay close to the window,’ I directed the three women, ‘and board the boat the moment it touches the sill;’ then I crossed the room quickly to the door, the Tarid long sword ready in my hand.

“I had scarcely reached it, when it was thrown open; a dozen warriors crowded in the corridor beyond. The first one to leap into the room leaped full upon the point of my blade. With a single, piercing scream he died; and as I jerked my steel from his heart, he lunged forward at my feet. 

“In the brief instant that my weapon was thus engaged, three men forced themselves into the room, pushed forward by those behind. 

“One thrust at me, and another swung a terrific cut at my head. I parried the thrust and dodged the cut, and then my blade clove the skull of one of them.

“For a moment I forgot everything in the joy of battle. I felt my lips tense in the fighting smile that is famous in two worlds. Again, as upon so many other fields, my sword seemed inspired; but the Tarids were no mean swordsmen, nor were they cowards. They pushed forward into the room over the bodies of their dead companions.

“I think that I could have accounted for them all single-handed, with such fierce enthusiasm did I throw my whole being into the defense of my princess; but now from below I heard the tramp of many feet and the rattling of accouterments. Reinforcements were coming!

“It had been a glorious fight so far. Six lay dead upon the floor about me; but now the other six were all in the room, yet I would have felt no discouragement had I not heard the thunderous pounding of those many feet leaping rapidly upward from below.

“I was engaged with a strapping fellow who sought to push me back, when one of his companions attempted to reach my side and distract my attention, while another edged to my opposite side. 

“My situation at the moment was embarrassing, to say the least, for the man who engaged me in front was not only a powerful fellow but a splendid swordsman; and then I saw a sword flash at my right and another at my left. Two of my adversaries went down, and in the next instant a quick glance showed me that Ur Jan and Jat Or were fighting at my side.

“As the three remaining Tarids bravely leaped in to take the places of their fallen comrades, the van of their reinforcements arrived; and a perfect avalanche of yelling warriors burst into the apartment.

“As I finally succeeded in spitting my antagonist, I snatched a momentary opportunity to glance behind me.

“I saw the three women and Umka in the room and Gar Nal standing upon the sill of the window.

“‘Quick, Gar Nal,’ I cried, ‘get the women aboard.’

“For the next few minutes I was about as busy as I can remember ever having been before in my life. The Tarids were all around us. They had succeeded in encircling us. I was engaged constantly with two or three swordsmen at a time. I could not see what was taking place elsewhere in the room, but my thoughts were always of Dejah Thoris and her safety; and suddenly it occurred to me that if all of us who were fighting there in the room should be destroyed, she would be left in the power of Gar Nal without a defender.

“Jat Or was fighting near me. ‘The princess!’ I called to him; ‘she is alone on the ship with Gar Nal. If we are both killed, she is lost. Go to her at once.’

“‘And leave you, my prince?’ he demanded.

“‘It is not a request, Jat Or,’ I said; ‘it is a command.’

“‘Yes, my prince,’ he replied, and fought his way to the window.

“‘Help him, Ur Jan,’ I commanded.

“The three of us managed to cut a path for Jat Or to the window, and as we stood with our backs to it, I saw something which filled me consternation. At one side, struggling in the grip of two warriors, was Ozara, the Jeddara of the Tarids.

“‘Save me, John Carter,’ she cried. ‘Save me, or I shall be killed.’

“There was nothing else that I could do. No other path would be honorable. Ozara had made it possible for us to escape. Perhaps her deed had already succeeded in saving Dejah Thoris. My own stupidity had placed us in this position, which now had beome a definite threat to the life of the Jeddara.

“Jat Or, Ur Jan, and I had succeeded in cutting down the warriors that immediately faced us; and the others, probably the least courageous of the band, seemed to hestitate to engage us again immediately.

“I turned to my companions. ‘On board with you, quick,’ I cried, ‘and hold the entrance to the ship until I bring the Jeddara aboard.’ 

“As I started toward the warriors holding Ozara, I saw Umka at my side. He had given a good account of himself in the fight, although he had carried no sword, which, at the time, I did not understand because there was a plentiful supply of weapons aboard the craft; but later I was to learn that it is not the manner of the Masenas to fight with swords or daggers, with the use of which they are wholly unfamiliar.

“I had seen in this encounter how he fought; and I realized that his powerful muscles and the terrible jaws of his lower mouth were adequate weapons against even a swordsman, aided as they were by the catlike agility of the Masena.

“Umka had received a number of wounds; and was bleeding profusely, as, in fact, were all of us; but I thought that he looked about finished and ordered him back to the ship. He demurred at first, but finally he went, and I was alone in the room with the remaining Tarids.

“I knew that my position was hopeless, but I could not leave to her death this girl who had aided me.

“As I sprang forward to attack her captors, I saw another contingent of reinforcements burst into the room.

“My case was now, indeed, hopeless.

“The newcomers paid no attention to me; they ran straight for the window where the ship lay. If they succeeded in boarding her, the doom of Dejah Thoris would be sealed.

“There was only one way in which I could circumvent them, though it definitely spelled the end for me.

“The two men holding Ozara were waiting for me to attack them, but I paused long enough to hurl a mental order to the mechanical brain in the nose of Fal Silvas’s ship.

“I cast a glance back at the craft. Ur Jan and Umka stood in the doorway; Jat Or was not there; but at the very instant that the ship started to move away in obedience to my command, the young padwar sprang into view.

“‘My prince,’ he cried, ‘we have been betrayed. Gar Nal had fled with Dejah Thoris in his own ship.’

“Then the Tarids were upon me. A blow upon my head sent me down to merciful unconsciousness.’” (SM/21.)

Thus begins Carter’s exciting adventure with Ozara; escaping across the river; spending the night in each other’s arms in a Masena nest high in the trees; getting captured by a Masena tribe; being rescued by Umka in the nick of time; being returned to the spaceship which Zanda has finally learned how to control.
“None of the three on the ship had noticed our approach, and we were quite close to her before they discovered us. They greeted us enthusiastically as two returned from the dead. Even Ur Jan was genuinely pleased to see me.

“The assassin of Zodanga was furious with Gar Nal because he had broken his oath; and now, to my astonishment, the fellow threw his sword at my feet and swore eternal fealty to me.

“‘Never in my life,’ he said, ‘have I fought shoulder to shoulder with such a swordsman, and never shall it be said that I have drawn sword against him.’ 

“I accepted his service, and then I asked them how they had been able to maneuver the ship to this point.’

“‘Zanda was the only one who knew anything about the mechanism or its control,’ explained Jat Or; ‘and after a little experimenting, she found that she could operate it.’ He looked proudly at her, and I read much in the smile that passed between them.” (SM/24.)

Zanda and Carter have their moment for her Zodangan revenge, but it all passes in a moment of humor. They sadly return Ozara to Domnia, and, getting a tip from the Domnians that Gar Nal and Dejah Thoris are in Ombra, they sail off. But their ship mysteriously picks up a mind of its own and flies them back to Fal Silvas’s hangar in Zodanga. They meet up with Rapas the
Ulsio who tells them that Fal Silvas is at the house of Gar Nal, and Carter has Rapas guide them there:
“It was half after the eighth zode, or around midnight earth-time, that we reached Gar Nal’s. Rapas admitted us and led us to the third level of the house, up narrow ramps at the rear of the building where we met no one. We moved silently without speaking, and at last our guide halted before a door.

“‘He is in there,’ he whispered.

“‘Open the door,’ I said.

“He tried it, but it was locked. Ur Jan pushed him aside, and then hurled his great bulk against the door. With a loud splintering of wood, it burst in. I leaped across the threshold; and there, seated at a table, I saw Fal Silvas and Gar Nal – Gar Nal, the man whom I had thought imprisoned in the city of Ombra on the nearer moon.

“As the two men recognized Ur Jan and me, they leaped to their feet; their evil faces were studies in surprise and terror.

“I sprang forward and seized Gar Nal before he could draw his sword, and Ur Jan fell upon Fal Silvas. He would have killed him offhand, but I forbade it. All that I wanted was to learn the fate of Dejah Thoris, and one of these men must know the truth concerning her. They must not die until I knew.

“‘What are you doing here, Gar Nal?’ I demanded. ‘I thought that you were a prisoner in Ombra.’

“‘I escaped,’ he replied.

“‘Do you know where my princess is?’



“A cunning look entered his eyes. ‘You would like to know, wouldn't you?’ he asked with a sneer; ‘but do you think Gar Nal is fool enough to tell you? No, as long as I know and you don’t, you will not dare to kill me.’

“‘I’ll get the truth out of him,’ growled Ur Jan. ‘Here, Rapas, heat a dagger for me. Heat it red-hot.’ But when we looked around, Rapas was not there. As we had entered the room, he had made good his escape. 

“‘Well,’ said Ur Jan, ‘I can heat it myself; but first let me kill Fal Silvas.’

“‘No, no,’ screamed the old inventor. ‘I did not steal the Princess of Helium; it was Gar Nal.’

“And then the two commenced to accuse one another, and presently I discovered that after Gar Nal’s return from Thuria, these two master inventors and great scoundrels had patched up a truce and joined forces because of their mutual fear of me. Gar Nal was to hide Fal Silvas, and in return Fal Silvas was to show him the secret of his mechanical brain.

“They had both been certain that the last place in the world that I would look for Fal Silvas would be in the house of Gar Nal. Gar Nal had instructed his servants to say that he had never returned from his trip with Ur Jan, giving the impression that he was still upon Thuria; and he was planning to leave that very night for a distant hiding-place.

“But all this annoyed me. I did not care about them, or their plans. I wanted to know but one thing, and that was the fate of Dejah Thoris.

“‘Where is my princess, Gar Nal?’ I demanded; ‘tell me that, and I will spare your life.’

“‘She is in Ombra,’ he replied.

“‘Then I turned upon Fal Silvas. ‘That is your death warrant, Fal Silvas,’ I told him.

“‘Why?’ he demanded. ‘What have I to do with it?’

“‘You keep me from directing the brain that operates your ship, and only thus may I reach Ombra.’

“Ur Jan raised his sword to cleave Fal Silvas’s skull, but the coward went down upon his knees and begged for his life.

“‘Spare me,’ he cried, ‘and I will turn the ship over to you and let you control the brain.’

“‘I can’t trust you,’ I said.

“‘You can take me with you,’ he pleaded; ‘that will be better than death.’

“‘Very well,’ I said; ‘but if you interfere with my plans or attempt to betray me, you shall pay for your treachery with your life.’” (SM/24.)

Carter shares his plans with the rest of them and Jat Or and Zanda agree to return with Carter and Fal Silvas to Thuria to rescue Dejah Thoris:
“‘And I,’ growled Ur Jan, ‘but first, my prince, please let me run my sword through the heart of this scoundrel,’ and as he spoke he advanced upon Gar Nal. ‘He should die for what he has done. He gave you his word, and he broke it.’

“I shook my head. ‘No,’ I said. ‘He told me where I could find my princess; and in return for that, I have guaranteed his safety.’

“Grumbling, Ur Jan returned his sword to its scabbard; and then we four, with Fal Silvas, moved toward the door. The others preceded me. I was the last to pass out into the corridor; and just as I did so, I heard a door open at the opposite end of the room we were just leaving. I turned to glance back; and there, in doorway across the room stood Dejah Thoris.

“She came towards me with arms outstretched as I ran to meet her. 

“She was breathing very hard and trembling as I took her in my arms. ‘Oh, my prince,’ she cried, ‘I thought I should not be in time. I heard all that was said in this room, but I was bound and gagged and could not warn you that Gar Nal was deceiving you. It was only just this instant that I succeeded in freeing myself.’

“My exclamation of surprise when I first saw her had attracted the attention of my companions, and they had all returned to the room; and as I held my princess in my arms, Ur Jan leaped past me and ran his sword through the putrid heart of Gar Nal.” (SM/24.)

That’s actually the real ending of Swords of Mars. When you consider the amount of sword fighting that takes place in this novel, you can see why it is thus titled. One thing you can say about Ur Jan, he would come in mighty handy if you found yourself one pitch black night in a dark alley in a bad side of town all alone.
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.

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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