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|Out of Time's Abyss||Edgar Rice Burroughs|
|Page 2 of 13||
As the Wieroos approached the figure upon the dais, they leaned far forward, raising their wings above their heads and stretching their necks as though offering them to the sharp swords of the grim and hideous creature.
"O Thou Who Speakest for Luata!" exclaimed one of the party. "We bring you the strange creature that Fosh-bal-soj captured and brought thither at thy command."
So this then was the godlike figure that spoke for divinity! This arch-murderer was the Caspakian representative of God on Earth! His blue robe announced him the one and the seeming humility of his minions the other. For a long minute he glared at Bradley. Then he began to question him--from whence he came and how, the name and description of his native country, and a hundred other queries.
"Are you cos-ata-lu?" the creature asked.
Bradley replied that he was and that all his kind were, as well as every living thing in his part of the world.
"Can you tell me the secret?" asked the creature.
Bradley hesitated and then, thinking to gain time, replied in the affirmative.
"What is it?" demanded the Wieroo, leaning far forward and exhibiting every evidence of excited interest.
Bradley leaned forward and whispered: "It is for your ears alone; I will not divulge it to others, and then only on condition that you carry me and the girl I saw in the place of the yellow door near to that of Fosh-bal-soj back to her own country."
The thing rose in wrath, holding one of its swords above its head.
"Who are you to make terms for Him Who Speaks for Luata?" it shrilled. "Tell me the secret or die where you stand!"
"And if I die now, the secret goes with me," Bradley reminded him. "Never again will you get the opportunity to question another of my kind who knows the secret." Anything to gain time, to get the rest of the Wieroos from the room, that he might plan some scheme for escape and put it into effect.
The creature turned upon the leader of the party that had brought Bradley.
"Is the thing with weapons?" it asked.
"No," was the response.
"Then go; but tell the guard to remain close by," commanded the high one.
The Wieroos salaamed and withdrew, closing the door behind them. He Who Speaks for Luata grasped a sword nervously in his right hand. At his left side lay the second weapon. It was evident that he lived in constant dread of being assassinated. The fact that he permitted none with weapons within his presence and that he always kept two swords at his side pointed to this.
Bradley was racking his brain to find some suggestion of a plan whereby he might turn the situation to his own account. His eyes wandered past the weird figure before him; they played about the walls of the apartment as though hoping to draw inspiration from the dead skulls and the hides and the wings, and then they came back to the face of the Wieroo god, now working in anger.
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|Out of Time's Abyss
Edgar Rice Burroughs
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