Second in the Venus series. Carson Napier begins this episode in the Room of the Seven Doors. He can leave any time he wants, but six of the seven doors lead to hideous deaths; only one is the door of life. After navigating his way out of this logic puzzle, Carson continues his quest to rescue the planet’s fairest princess. He pursues this with singlemindedness, even though more terrible dagners lie ahead; even though the princess wishes neither his help or his affection; even though her people will execute him if he enters their country! Such is the honor of an Earthman’s pledge.
266 pages, with a reading time of ~4.25 hours (66,673 words), and first published in 1933. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, 2017.
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Leading my captors, but taking no part in the capture, were Moosko, the Ongyan, and Vilor, the Thorist spy, who had together conceived and carried out the abduction of Duare from aboard the Sofal.
They had reached the mainland, carried there by the flying angans, those strange winged humans of Venus. (To make the story simpler to understand, I am abandoning the Amtorian plural prefix, “kl” or “kloo,” and am forming the plural of nouns in the regular Earth fashion—by adding “s.”) The pair had left Duare to her fate when the party was attacked by the hairy wild men from whom I had fortunately been able to rescue her with the aid of the angan who had so heroically defended her.
But now, though they had abandoned her to almost certain death, they were furious with me for having caused her to be carried from their clutches back to the deck of the Sofal by the last survivor of the angans; and having me within their power, after some one else had disarmed me, they became courageous again and attacked me violently.
I think they would have killed me on the spot had not a better idea suggested itself to another member of the Thorist party that had captured me.
Vilor, who had been unarmed, seized a sword from one of his fellows and set upon me with the evident intention of hacking me to pieces, when this man intervened.
“Wait!” he cried. “What has this man done that he should be killed swiftly and without suffering?”
“What do you mean?” demanded Vilor, lowering the point of his weapon.
This country in which we were was almost as strange to Vilor as to me, for he was from the distant mainland of Thora proper, while the party who had assisted in my capture were natives of this land of Noobol who had been induced to join the Thorists in their world-wide attempt to foment discord and overthrow all established forms of government and replace them with their own oligarchy of ignorance.
As Vilor hesitated, the other explained. “In Kapdor,” he said, “we have far more interesting ways of disposing of enemies than spitting them on a sword.”
“Explain,” commanded the Ongyan, Moosko. “This man does not deserve the mercy of a quick death. A prisoner aboard the Sofal, with other Vepajans, he led a mutiny in which all the ship’s officers were murdered; then he seized the Sovang, liberated her prisoners, looted her, threw her big guns into the sea, and sailed away upon a piratical expedition.
“In the Sofal, he overhauled the Yan, a merchant ship on which I, an ongyan, was a passenger. Ignoring my authority, he opened fire upon the Yan and then boarded her. After looting her and destroying her armament, he took me prisoner aboard the Sofal. He treated me with the utmost disrespect, threatening my life and destroying my liberty.
“For these things he must die, and if you have a death commensurate with his crimes you shall not go unrewarded by those who rule Thora.”
“Let us take him back to Kapdor with us,” said the man. “There we have the room with seven doors, and I promise you that if he be an intelligent being he will suffer more agony within its circular walls than any prick of a sword point might inflict upon him.”
“Good!” exclaimed Vilor, handing his sword back to the man from whom he had borrowed it. “The creature deserves the worst.”
They led me back along the coast in the direction from which they had come, and during the march I discovered from their conversation to what unfortunate chance I could attribute the ill fortune that had befallen me at the very moment when it seemed possible that Duare and I might easily return to the Sofal and our loyal friends.
This armed party from Kapdor had been searching for an escaped prisoner when their attention had been attracted by the fight between the hairy wild men and the angans who were defending Duare, just as I had similarly been attracted to the scene while searching for the beautiful daughter of Mintep, the jong of Vepaja.
As they were coming to investigate, they met Moosko and Vilor fleeing from the engagement, and these two had accompanied them back to the scene just as Duare, the remaining angan, and I had sighted the Sofal off shore and were planning on signaling to her.
As the birdman could transport but one of us at a time, I had commanded him, much against his will, to carry Duare to the ship. She refused to desert me, and the angan feared to return to the Sofal, from which he had aided in the abduction of the princess; but I at length compelled him to seize Duare and fly away with her just as the party of Thorists were upon us.
There had been a stiff gale blowing from the sea; and I was much worried for fear that the angan might not have been able to beat his way against it to the deck of the Sofal, but I had known that death beneath the waters of the sea would be far less horrible to Duare than captivity among the Thorists and especially in the power of Moosko.