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9. CHAPTER IX : THE BATTLE IN THE PLAIN (continued)
Carthoris stepped between Thuvia and the banth, his sword ready to contest the beast's victory over them. Thuvia turned toward Jav.
"Is this Komal, your god?" she asked.
Jav nodded affirmatively. The girl smiled, and then, brushing past Carthoris, she stepped swiftly toward the growling carnivore.
In low, firm tones she spoke to it as she had spoken to the banths of the Golden Cliffs and the scavengers before the walls of Lothar.
The beast ceased its growling. With lowered head and catlike purr, it came slinking to the girl's feet. Thuvia turned toward Carthoris.
"It is but a banth," she said. "We have nothing to fear from it."
"I did not fear it," he replied, "for I, too, believed it to be only a banth, and I have my long-sword."
Jav sat up and gazed at the spectacle before him--the slender girl weaving her fingers in the tawny mane of the huge creature that he had thought divine, while Komal rubbed his hideous snout against her side.
"So this is your god!" laughed Thuvia.
Jav looked bewildered. He scarce knew whether he dare chance offending Komal or not, for so strong is the power of superstition that even though we know that we have been reverencing a sham, yet still we hesitate to admit the validity of our new-found convictions.
"Yes," he said, "this is Komal. For ages the enemies of Tario have been hurled to this pit to fill his maw, for Komal must be fed."
"Is there any way out of this chamber to the avenues of the city?" asked Carthoris.
"I do not know," he replied. "Never have I been here before, nor ever have I cared to do so."
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