At the last minute, Princess Aura realizes she loves Barin and rescues both the Prince of Arboria and Flash from the clutches of her father. Together with Dale and Zarkov, they all escape the arena together. Barin and Aura make for Arboria while the Earthers make for their (miraculously...) repaired rocket ship and blast off. Unfortunately, their ship runs out of fuel in the upper atmosphere of Mongo, and they're forced to set down again in dangerous territory.
That territory turns out to be the kingdom of Tropica, a land that looks like "The Garden of Eden" and is run by luscious Queen Desira and her major domo, Brasnor. Brasnor is hot for Desira, even though they're cousins. Also, Brasnor is planning an insurrection to seize the kingdom...
Flash, Dale and Zarkov are captured by Desira's men; basically armed guards in purple berets who ride horned beasts called gryphs. But Brasnor pulls a fast one, and stands idly by while a "tree dragon" attacks his queen. Flash saves Desira, and then Brasnor reveals his hand, taking everyone captive and imprisoning them in his mountain fortress.
"This is one prison that even Flash Gordon cannot escape," Brasnor cackles. When Flash does manage an escape with Desira and his friends, Brasnor bitterly observes that "the Earth man has more lives than a Mongo cat." Indeed.
The fugitives climb down the castle wall and into a cave, which is "honeycombed with abandoned passages from older ruins." They pause to take sustenance from a "bread tree" (a delicacy in these parts...), and then face a new danger from "rock termites," over-sized ants which eat everything in their path, including stones.
To escape the ants, Flash and his buddies jump into a river, but soon find themselves being pulled into a tunnel, as if by a magnet. "But where is it taking us?" queries a worried Dale Arden.
We won't find out till next week...