CHAPTER 22: "THE WIZARD"
Novelization by Dale R. Broadhurst
"One of the Wizards of Eo!" cried Sola, as the mechanical
mount and its two extraordinary riders leaped down from the sky.
Before John Carter could respond, the metal thoat and
its two odd passengers looped downward and landed beside them. The Earthman's
right hand instinctively reached for his long-sword, but its frozen fingers
were useless. So, instead, he gripped his short sword as best as he could
with the less afflicted left hand. Then John Carter advanced boldly.
"I have heard that the Wizards of Eo are great medical
geniuses. I beg you, sir, to help the Princess of Helium, if you can!"
Silently the wizard surveyed the Earthman. Only Vovo's
big eyes moved, gleaming weirdly in the moonlight. Then he mumbled low
commands into his mouthpiece and Oman helped him to the ground.
"There is but one Wizard of Eo: I am he and you may address
me as 'Master Vovo.' You wear a Barsoomian harness, but you are not of
this planet. Your arms and hands have been partly calcified and you are
in immediate danger of losing them. The body of this female is also afflicted.
Chances for any recovery are slender. You have brought nothing in payment
or trade for what I can offer. But, if you bring useful knowledge from
another world, we can talk."
John Carter pointed to the girl. "Strange gases in the
city of Go-La-Ra changed her body to stone. The same vapors are the cause
of my injury. I will tell you what happened..."
Impatiently the little wizard waved aside the explanation.
"I know!" he cried. "I know! Vovo knows all, sees all! There is nothing
you can tell me about Go-La-Ra, or the petrifying vapors that I do not
"Then help her. I am from the world you call Jasoom. I
am but a simple fighting man who has no great knowledge or riches to give.
But I will cooperate in any honorable way that you require. Just help,
her, for God's sake!"
"We have no gods here, Jasoomian. I already know as much
of your planet as I care to learn. But you say that this is the Princess
of Helium, do you? Perhaps I can help her, after all. Any way, I see that
there may be some profit for me in this. As for you, what reward might
there be for restoring your arms and hands."
John Carter straightened into a soldier's pose and stared
at the little green man. Then he spoke, with anger in his voice and fire
in his steel gray eyes.
"The only grand-daughter of the Jeddak of Helium has suffered
many perils. I serve her as a loyal companion. I know not what reward there
might be for me after she has been restored to her family, but you may
take it. I do not serve her out of greed but out of friendship and..."
"Yes, yes, I can see that!" Vovo muttered. "It may prove
useful for me to treat both of you -- but, I can do nothing for you in
this wild place. I must take the two of you to my laboratory -- from whence
no outsider have ever returned. The green girl and the calot are useless
to me. If they come any closer to Eo than this, that will be their end.
Do you understand?"
Neither of the travelers spoke, but on Mars as on Earth,
silence betokens assent.
"Load the statue upon the anti-gravity device," the little
man commanded his robot. "Handle her with care. I shall take her to my
tower and send the conveyance back for you and the Jasoomian shortly. Hurry,
time is of great importance in healing these sorts of infirmities."
With that the little green man summoned the robot to help
him mount the flying thoat and was soon gone. John Carter watched as the
odd contraption lifted the wizard and the poor princess up into the nighttime
sky and then out of sight.
"Can you speak?" John Carter inquired, once he and Sola
were alone with the mecho-man.
"I can hear. I can speak. I obey the transmissions of
Vovo. Vovo is great! Vovo is wonderful! Vovo knows all. Vovo sees all..."
Sola interrupted the monotonous reply: "Your master looks
like a Thark, but he does not speak in Tharkian idiom. What is he? Where
did he come from?"
"Master Vovo is very old. You are very young. Were you
very old, you could answer these questions," was all the response he gave.
"Oman," the Earthman began again, "did Vovo build you?
Are you his invention? Do you know the story of your origin? In all my
years I have never seen anything like you -- but I have heard of a mechanical
man in Europe, in a great clock, whose hammer strikes a bell every hour."
"Your questions have no answers. Master Vovo is very old.
I am very old. Vovo has blood in his body. I have oil and radium in my
body. I live to serve my Master. My origin I cannot tell you."
But then Oman's staccato voice softened and took on tones
that were almost human. His unblinking glass eyes looked downward for a
moment, and he finished his reply with a strange disclosure.
"My origin I cannot tell you, because I myself have forgotton
it. I recall a time when the land was covered in water and Eo was surrounded
by an ocean. That was long, long ago. It is my earliest memory. Master
Vovo sustains us. Master Vovo's will is our will. We obey none but Vovo.
Then the metal man fell silent, his eyes staring straight
ahead. The only comparison John Carter could think of was the silence of
a telegraph key after the end of a Morse code message.
"What do you think, Sola?" the Earthman asked.
"There are no dwarfs among my people," she replied. I
once saw a hatchling whose egg had opened late. The child had wandered
about for weeks, eating only moss, like a thoat. He was short and very
thin when we discovered him. Sarkoja shot him with a pistol and called
him a "banth morsel." I never saw another, but Vovo may be such an orphan.
Who might have raised him I cannot say."
John Carter made a move in the direction of Oman's pistol
holster and immediatly the metal man came to life. Just then the Earthman
saw the flying thoat returning through the moon-lit sky. He directed the
robot's attention to the sight.
"Now you go to Eo; the girl waits here. Your return is
indefinite; her wait will be indefinite."