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Here is an overview of the 24 chapters in Renegades of Gor:
1. The Road; The Slave
2. The Court; Chained Women
3. The Inn
4. The Baths
5. The Paga Room; I Shop at the Keeper's Desk
6. Some Things which Occurred One Night at the Crooked Tarn
7. The Attendant
8. I Take my Leave of the Crooked Tarn
9. The Camp of Cos
10. The Trenches; The Wall
12. The Cell; The Spy
15. We Leave the Cell
16. I Assume Command
17. Battle; We Will Withdraw to the Landing
18. The Landing
19. The Walkway
20. The Piers
21. The River
22. Publia, Slave
23. Claudia, Slave
24. Port Cos
The image below shows the most often used words and terms within Renegades of Gor. The larger the size, the more often the word or term occurs in the text.
In a sudden flash of lightning, showing the driving rain, the wagons, the crowd on the road, I saw ahead, above me, and to my left, about a half of a pasang forward, on its stony plateau, the inn of the Crooked Tarn.
"There is less than a pasang to go," said a man near me.
"They will have no places left," said another.
"You could not afford them, if they did," said the first man.
"We will camp on the lee side," said another, "and water the beasts in the moat."
"Wagons will already be circled there," said another.
When groups are traveling together the wagons are often arranged in a circle, end to end, tongues inward, narrowing gaps between the "sections" of the improvised rampart, and chained together, the front axle of one wagon chained to the rear axle of the next, the camp, and the draft animals, and any accompanying livestock, within the circle. This forms a wagon fort or laager. The circle contains more interior space than any other geometrical figure, so the camp is thus as large as possible, given the number of wagons. Too, as every point on the circumference is normally visible from, and equidistant from, the center, this facilitates defense, for example, the prompt and pertinent deployment of reserves. This arrangement, incidentally, is not common with the southern wagon peoples, such as Tuchuks, if only because of the vast numbers of wagons. There the wagons congregate almost to form wagon cities. It is fairly typical, however, with some of the less numerous wagon peoples of the north, such as the tribes of the Alars, particularly when separated from one another on the march, though there one might note the circle is often very large and as many as four or five wagons deep.
There was another flash of lightning, and an earsplitting crash of thunder.
Ahead, and on the plateau of the inn, I saw the large wooden sign, on its chains, jerked in the wind, striking about, pelted with rain. It was in the form of a malformed tarn, its neck crooked, almost vulturelike, the right leg, with its talons, much larger than the left, and outstretched, grasping. Such signs are not untypical of Gorean hostelries, as many Goreans, particularly those of the lower castes, cannot read.
Then again it seemed the world was plunged into darkness and there was little except driving rain and the creaking of wagons.
I had put my cloak over my head. The wagon I was walking beside was to my left. It kept, too, to the left side of the road. This is common with Gorean traffic. There is a point to this, having to do with keeping the weapon hand, or the usual weapon hand, as most men are right-handed, on the side of oncoming traffic. Who knows the intentions or nature of the approaching stranger? In Gorean, as in many languages, the same word is used for stranger and enemy.
The wagon was moving north on what, in this latitude, was usually called the Vosk Road, but farther south was generally known as the Viktel Aria. My cloak hung down from my head about my shoulders, and thence fell to my waist. I had shortened the straps of the sword sheath, hitching it high, the hilt now before my left shoulder, under the cloak. I kept one hand, from beneath my cloak, on the side of the wagon. In this way I was less likely to stumble in the darkness, and the cold, driving rain. The other hand, my right, held my cloak about my neck. My pack was in the wagon. To my right, in the line of traffic moving south, I suddenly heard cursing and the startled, protesting bellowing of a tharlarion. There were shouts. There was a creaking of wood, and the slick squeak of an engaged, leather-lined brake shoe pressing against the iron rim of a wheel. "Jump!" cried someone. There was then a sound of sliding, and then, after a moment, that of a wagon tipping heavily into mud. The tharlarion, probably thrown from its feet, was squealing in its harness. I pulled my pack from the wagon I was trekking beside and, feeling about, locating the side of the next wagon moving south, felt around it, and went to the side of the road. Another tharlarion moved past me. I reached out and felt its wet scales. In another flash of lightning I saw the wagon in the ditch, tipped on its side, its canvas-covered, roped-down load bulging against the restraining cover, the tharlarion also on its side, lying tangled in its harness, its feet flailing, its long neck craning about. A man thrust past me, holding an unshuttered dark lantern beneath his cloak. Rain was pouring over the broad brim of his felt hat. Two others were behind him. They slipped down the side of the ditch. "The axle is broken," said one of the men to the driver. The driver had another fellow with him, too. I stood on the road, at its edge. I felt about with my foot. There were missing stones there. That was probably where the wheel had missed the road. These, I supposed, had loosened, given the heavy traffic and the storm. The wagon, it seemed, had slipped down the embankment, dragging the beast after it. I stayed where I was for a moment. It seemed to me odd that three men, one with a dark lantern, should be so quickly upon the scene.
"Beware," cried the driver through the rain to the men below me, beside the wagon. "I carry a Home Stone in this wagon."
The three men looked at one another, and then backed away. They would not choose to do business with one who carried a Home Stone, even though they were three to two. It was as I had speculated. They were road pirates. Possibly the stones had been deliberately loosened.
"Gentlemen," I called down to them. "Lift your lantern."
They looked upward. I let my cloak fall to the sides so that they could see the scarlet of my tunic.
"Hold your places!" I called.
They stood where they were. I might pursue one. None of them cared to risk being that one.
I slipped down the embankment to join them.
I tossed my pack to the side on the slope.
I took the lantern from the fellow in the broad-brimmed felt hat, and handed it to the fellow of the driver. I did not draw my sword. It was not necessary.
"Unharness the tharlarion," I said to the driver. "Get it on its feet."
He went around to the front of the wagon.
I took the leader of the three men in hand. "You have a wagon nearby," I said to them. "You two fetch it."
The two fellows exchanged swift glances. "We have no wagon," said one. "That is true," said the other. "We have no wagon."
I flung the leader to his belly in the mud and put my foot on his back.
"Get the wagon!" he said.
They hurried away.
"Do you think they will return?" I asked.
He was silent.
I moved my foot to the back of his neck and pressed his face down into the muddy water. He pulled up, sputtering. "Yes!" he said. "Yes!"
He was correct. In a few Ehn the two fellows returned, leading a tharlarion drawing another wagon. As I had anticipated, it had not been far away. It would be near the trap, to save time, and off the road, that traffic not be blocked. And they would want it on this level to facilitate a transfer of lading from one vehicle to the other, doubtless anticipating that any vehicle which had succumbed to their trap might well be disabled.
"Empty your wagon out," I told the two. "And place the cargo of this wagon in what was once yours."
They did so. As I had anticipated the contents of their wagon was a miscellany of cheap loot, taken from other wagons, and from refugees moving south on the Viktel Aria from the vicinity of Ar's Station, on the Vosk.
The driver, his tharlarion freed, and on its feet, hitched it before the other beast, in tandem. It knew his voice, and would respond more readily as the lead beast.
"Give your purses to the driver," I said.
They did so.
I myself took the contents of a metal coin box removed from their wagon and emptied it into my wallet. It contained several coins, the loot, probably, of better than several days' work. To be sure, most of the coins there were small, such as would be likely to weight only a threadbare purse. The number, however, more than compensated for the generally unimpressive denominations. There must have been the equivalent there of seventeen or eighteen silver tarsks.
I located the stones which were missing from the edge of the road. They were in the ditch below their place, half sunk in the mud. Apparently they had been removed deliberately from the road, and might be replaced, thence to be removed again, at will, to again jeopardize the integrity of the road, their absence in the darkness in effect constituting a trap. The three fellows, with my encouragement, in the rain, replaced them.
I again took them to the bottom of the ditch, by the overturned wagon.
"Kneel there," I told the three of them, "between the wheels, with your backs to the bottom of the wagon."
They complied, kneeling with the bottom of the overturned wagon behind them. From this position it would be difficult for them to bolt.
"Take everything, but let us go!" begged the leader.
"I am thinking," I told him, "of tying you naked on your back, over the tongue of the wagon, and fastening your two fellows, on their backs, stripped, over the wheels. It might be amusing to spin them about."
They regarded one another, frightened.
"But you are not female slaves," I mused.
"Men would find us with the loot about, and impale us!" said the leader.
That was not improbable. Thieves are often dealt with harshly on Gor.
"Do not condemn us to death!" begged the leader.
"Strip," I ordered them.
I then tied their hands behind their backs. Ropes were found in the wagon and we tied them by the necks to the back of the wagon. Verr, too, and female slaves, and such, are often tethered to the back of wagons.
"In the south," said the driver, from the wagon box, "there are work gangs. We can probably get something for them there."
"Stay the traffic on the road, as you can, for an Ehn," I said to the fellow of the driver. "We will get the wagon on the road."
"I doubt even two tharlarion can pull this grade from the ditch, with this weight, with the footing," said the driver.
"Hurry to it," I said to the fellow of the driver. "We shall try it."
He scrambled up the embankment, the lantern in one hand, clutching at knots of wet grass with the other, slipping, sliding back, then regaining his feet, then reaching the surface. In the ditch we were ankle deep in water. The rain continued to pour down in torrents. It ran from the pitched surface of the road downward, in tiny rivers; it struck into the swirling ditch water, lashing it into foam, dashing it upwards, its impact registered in thousands of overlapping circles and leaping crowns of water. We saw the lantern, in the fellow's hand, at the surface, swinging. "Hold! Hold!" he cried in the storm. I think he then literally seized the harness of the next tharlarion. "Hold!" he cried.
"We will never make it," said the driver.
"Try," I said. "Besides we have three stout fellows here who can turn about and put their back into it."
"If the wagon slips," said the leader of the brigands, "we could be crushed, mangled beneath the wheels!"
"See that it does not slip," I said.
There were angry shouts now from the delayed line, moving south.
"Hurry," I said to the driver.
He moved about the wagon and climbed to the wagon box. I heard, in a moment, his shouting to the lead beast, and the crack of the tharlarion whip. The whip, incidentally, seldom falls on the beast. Its proximity, and noise, are usually more than sufficient. Too, it often functions as an attention-garnering device, a signal, so to speak, preparing the beast for the sequent issuance of verbal commands, to which it is trained to respond. Too, of course, like a staff of office, a rod, a baton or scepter, it is an authority device. To be sure, the device has its authority largely in virtue of what it genuinely stands for, and what it can do. Much the same, incidentally, can be said for the whip in the master/slave relationship. There, too, normally, it seldom falls on the woman. It is not necessary that it do so. She sees it, and knows what it can do. That is usually more than sufficient. She will have felt it at some time, of course, so that her understanding in the matter will be more than theoretical. She knows, of course, that if she is in the least bit displeasing or recalcitrant, it will be used upon her. Indeed, she knows that she might be, from time to time, placed beneath it, if only that she may be reminded that she is a slave. It is my belief that women have an instinctual understanding of the whip.
The wagon lurched ahead.
It would attempt its rendezvous with the road by an ascendant diagonal. The brigands were jerked forward, by the neck, behind it. One lost his footing and was dragged for a few feet, through the ditch water, part way up the slope.
"Put your backs to it," I told the captives.
"Look out!" cried someone from the road, above, perhaps a fellow come forward, inquiring concerning the delay, dismounted from one of the other wagons.
"Look out!" cried another.
"It is tipping!" cried the leader of the brigands in terror.
I tried to set myself on the slope, but slipped back, and the wagon slid sideways toward me, the wheels tearing lines in the grass, tilting. Then I got solid footing and, my hands pressing against the side of the wagon, righted it.
"Who is down there?" called a fellow from the surface of the road.
I saw lanterns lifted, above, on the road.
"There is a gang of five men on the other side of the wagon," said a fellow. "It is all right now. They have righted it."
The first tharlarion now had its heavy, clawed feet on the stones of the road. I heard its claws on the stone. Some other men, too, came to the second tharlarion, hauling on its harness, and others, too, seized the wagon sides and the forward wheels, lending their efforts to getting the wagon on the road. This was done in part in the camaraderie of the road, but, too, men were anxious to be on their way. It was not now safe in the north, in this area, particularly for refugees from the vicinity of Ar's Station.
"I see only one fellow down there," said a man from the road. I went to retrieve my pack from where I had cast it on the embankment. It was soaked through. I was sweating, in spite of the cold and the rain. Too, I had been very afraid, for a moment. I had feared the wagon would tip. I saw it now above me, mostly on the road, though, tilting, the left wheels were still over the edge of the stones. The darkness and the traffic on the other side made it hazardous to pull fully across the road. Harnesses might be fouled. Men can be trampled by tharlarion, wagons can be torn apart.
I ascended to the surface of the road. I put my pack at the back of the wagon.
"It is one of the scarlet caste," said a fellow to another.
"Hold the lantern here," I said to the fellow of the driver, who had now, having arrested the progress of the following tharlarion, released his hold on the beast's harness.
"That is Andron, the brigand!" suddenly said a man, pointing to the leader of the brigands.
There were angry shouts.
"Put their necks under the wheels!" said a man.
"Impale them," cried another!
"Tie their feet together and drag them behind the wagons," said another.
"Kneel," I suggested to the brigands. There was a large number of people here and I was not sure I could protect them. I had not counted on them being well known. "Put your heads down," I encouraged them. "Look as harmless as possible."
"Chain them and hang them in iron collars at the inn!" said a fellow. Sometimes a man lasts two or three days in this fashion.
"Chain them on the boards," cried another. That is a similar form of punishment. In it the victim is fastened, by collars and shackles, on structures of parallel, upright boards, vertical platforms, in effect, mounted on posts. These structures are most common in harbor cities, near the wharves. The fellow who had made the suggestion was probably from the river port of Ar's Station. In the country, impalement is often used, the pole usually being set up near a crossroads.
"Let them be trampled by tharlarion," said a fellow.
"No, let them be torn apart by them," said another. In this fashion ropes are tied separately to the victim's wrists and ankles, these ropes then attached to the harnesses of two different tharlarion, which are, of course, then driven in opposite directions.
"Yes, that is better," agreed the first.
If one shares a Home Stone with the victim, of course, the punishment is often more humane. A common punishment where this mitigating feature obtains is to strip the victim, tie him to a post, beat him with rods and then behead him. This, like the hanging in chains, the exposure on boards, and such, is a very ancient modality of execution.
I saw a knife leave a sheath in the driving rain. "There is no time," said a man. "I will cut their throats now."
There were murmurs of assent.
The brigands looked up, bound, from their knees.
"There is no time to waste," said a man. "If the storm ceases, and the cloud cover scatters, the tarnsmen of Artemidorus may strike at the columns." Artemidorus was a Cosian, the captain of a band of flighted mercenaries.
"In a few Ahn it will be morning," said a man.
The fellow with the knife stepped forward, but I blocked his path.
"These prisoners are mine," I said.
"They are known in this area," said the man with the knife.
"Step aside," said another. "Let justice be done."
"Move the wagons!" called a fellow in the back.
"There are many of us here," said the fellow with the knife, not pleasantly.
"The wagon is still off the road," I said, indicating the left wheels. "Let us move the column forward."
"To cut three throats will take but three Ihn," said the fellow.
"Help me get the wagon to the road," I said.
"You are clever," said the fellow in the rain. "You would enlist our support, and thus have us be your fellows, and thus deny us our will."
"You will not help?" I said.
"Get ten men to help," said he. "I will not be deterred."
"Move the wagons!" called a man from behind him. I heard tharlarion snorting and bellowing, even in the rain. There were some five lanterns where we were. I could see others lit, farther back in the arrested line.
"I myself am prepared to cut throats if we do not move in two Ehn," said a fellow. "I have a companion in my wagon, and two children. I would get them to safety."
"You will not help?" I asked the fellow with the knife.
"No," said he.
"Stand back," I said. I then bent over, and backed under the rear of the wagon.
"Do not," said the fellow of the driver, who held one of the lanterns.
"He is mad," said another.
"Look!" cried another.
I straightened up, slowly, lifting the laden wagon. I looked at the man with the knife. The wheel of the wagon, that to my right, spun slowly, free, the rain glistening in the lantern light on its iron rim. The men were quiet in the rain. I moved to my left, inch by inch. I then slowly, observing the man with the knife, lowered the wagon to the road. It settled on the blocks of fitted stone.
I emerged from beneath the end of the wagon. Painfully I straightened up. I looked down at the fellow with the knife.
He stepped back. He resheathed his knife. "They are your prisoners," he said.
"Get to the wagon box," I said to the fellow of the driver. "Lose no time. Get out of here. When you can I would hood the prisoners, coarse sacking, cloth, anything, and tie it down securely about their necks. Do not let them be recognized for a hundred pasangs. If they are slain on you they will fetch little from the master of a work gang."
"Our wagon was that of Septimus Entrates," he said.
"Very well," I said. That meant nothing to me.
"I wish you well!" he said, hurrying around the wagon.
"I wish you well," I said after him, and drew my pack from the back of the wagon. In a moment I heard the snap of the whip, and the cries to the beast. Other men, too, hurried back to their wagons. The heavy wagon trundled away. I stood on the road, watching it leave, my pack in hand. Some men hurried after it, to strike and kick at the prisoners, who were only too willing to hurry after the wagon. They had been brigands, accumulating loot. Now, in a way, they themselves were loot, and would bring something good, at long last, to honest men, their captors. I continued to look after them, for a time. Yes, they were now themselves loot, as much more commonly were women.
"Perhaps you will now permit us to proceed," said a man.
"In a moment," I said. I wanted the wagon to get a bit down the road. With the slow going, and the storm, and its start, it was not likely another wagon would catch up quickly with it.
"Had some of you lost goods to those fellows?" I asked.
"I have," said a man.
"Most of a wagonload of loot," I said, speaking in the rain, "was emptied out down there, by the ditch. Perhaps you fellows would like to see if you can reclaim anything."
"The loot of Andron!" cried a man.
"Perhaps the tracks of the wagon, too, might lead to some cache, or hideaway," I said.
Men lifted lanterns.
"There is something down there," said a man. Almost immediately he began to descend the embankment. Two other men followed him. "Take the wagon ahead," said another man. "I will catch up with you later." He then followed the others. I moved to one side as the wagons, then, began to pass. "The loot of Andron," I heard someone say. "Where?" asked another. "Where those men are," said another. Two more men left the road. The wagons continued to move by. The fellow who had had the knife looked at me. "Is there really anything down there?" he asked. "Yes," I said. "Well," said he, "perhaps I shall get something for the evening, after all." He slipped down the embankment, to join the others. I went then again to the left side of the road and, when a wagon trundled by, unknown to the driver, I put my pack in it, and, again, as I had before, held to its right side with my left hand, to keep from falling in the road.
I thought the storm might have abated a bit but the rain was still heavy. Too, from time to time, lightning shattered across the sky, suddenly bathing the road and countryside in flashes of wild, white light, this coupled almost momentarily, sometimes a little sooner, sometimes a little later, with a grinding and explosion of thunder.
"It seems the Priest-Kings are grinding flour," laughed a man near me.
"It would seem so," I said.
This was a reference to an old form of grinding, for some reason still attributed to Priest-Kings, in which a pestle, striking down, is used with a mortar. Most Sa-Tarna is now ground in mills, between stones, the top stone usually turned by water power, but sometimes by a tharlarion, or slaves. In some villages, however, something approximating the old mortar and pestle is sometimes used, the two blocks, a pounding block strung to a springy, bent pole, and the mortar block, or anvil block. The pole has one or more ropes attached to it, near its end. When these are drawn downward the pounding block descends into the mortar block, and the springiness of the pole, of course, straightening, then raises it for another blow. More commonly, however, querns are used, usually, if they are large, operated by two men, if smaller, by two boys. Hand querns, which may be turned by a woman, are also not unknown. The principle of the common quern is as follows: it consists primarily of a mount, two stones, an overhead beam and a pole. The two stones are circular grinding stones. The bottom stone has a small hub on its upper surface which fits into an inverted concave depression in the upper stone. This helps to keep the stones together. It also has shallow, radiating surface grooves through which the grindings may escape between the stones, to be caught in the sturdy boxlike mount supporting the stones, often then funneled to a waiting receptacle or sack. The upper stone has two holes in it, in the center a funnel-shaped hole through which grain is poured, and, near the edge, another hole into which one end of the turning pole is placed. This pole is normally managed by two operators. Its upper portion is fitted into an aperture in the overhead beam, which supplies leverage and, of course, by affording a steadying rest, makes the pole easier to handle. The principle of the hand quern is similar, but it is usually turned with a small wooden handle. The meal or flour emerging from these devices is usually sifted, as it must often be reground, sometimes several times. The sifter usually is made of hide stretched over a wooden hoop. The holes are punched in the hide with a hot wire. Most Goreans, incidentally, do not attribute lightning and thunder to the grinding of the flour of Priest-Kings. They regard such things as charming myths, which they have now outgrown. Some of the lower castes, however, particularly that of the peasants, and particularly those in outlying villages, do entertain the possibility that such phenomena may be the signs of disunion among Priest-Kings and their conflicts, the striking of weapons, the rumbling of their chariots, the trampling of their tharlarion, and such. Even more sophisticated Goreans, however, if not of the Scribes or Builders, have been noted to speculate that lightning is the result of clouds clashing together in the sky, showering sparks, and such. Few people, I suppose, see the unity of such phenomena as lightning and the crackling in the stroked fur of a hunting sleen.
In the wagon ahead, briefly illuminated, I saw, swinging from its strap, slung over a hook on the rear axle housing, a narrow, cylindrical, capped "grease bucket," the handle of the brush protruding through a hole in the cap. Such accessories are common on Gorean wagons. The "grease" in such a container is generally not mineral grease but a mixture of tar and tallow. Applied with the brush it is used, as would be mineral grease, were it more commonly available, to lubricate the moving parts of the wagon, in particular the axles, and where the rare wagon has them, metal springs, usually of the leaf variety. Some Gorean "coaches," and fee carts, not many, are slung on layers of leather. This gives a reasonably smooth ride but the swaying, until one accommodates oneself to it, can induce nausea, in effect, seasickness. This seems to be particularly the case with free women, who are notoriously delicate and given to imaginary complaints. It is interesting to note that this "delicacy," this pretentious fragility, or what not, and such "complaints," usually disappear as soon as they have been enslaved. That is probably because they are then where they belong, in their place in nature. Too, looking up from their knees at their master they may realize he has little patience for such things. Similarly, circumstances can apparently make a great deal of difference. For example, it has been noted that the same woman who makes a disgusting spectacle of herself as a free person traveling one way on a leather-slung fee cart is likely on the return journey, if then a slave, perhaps tied in a sack, or placed hooded, and bound, hand and foot, on the floor of such a cart, between the feet of the passengers on opposite benches, is likely to remain orally continent, even desperately so. If she does not, of course, she, within the sack or hood, bears the consequences of her own actions, after which she is likely to be kicked or struck while still inside the sack, or beaten while still in the hood, after which the sack might be hung over the back of the fee cart or she herself bound vulnerably on her stomach, her upper body over its rear guard rail. Afterwards, too, of course, eventually, she will clean both herself and the sack, or hood, thoroughly, before crawling back into the sack, to again become its prisoner, or having the hood again drawn over her head and having it fastened on her. She seldom has the same accident twice. To be perfectly fair, however, most Goreans, and not just free women, will prefer the simple, jolting progress of a springless wagon to the often more rapid progress of a leather-slung fee cart. In the flash of lightning in which I had seen the "grease bucket" on its hook I had also seen, under the same wagon, ahead of that to which I clung, two children in a large, suspended hide. They were peeping out, frightened. Their eyes seemed very large. Such hides are not unusual under Gorean wagons. It is unusual, however, to carry children, or any passenger, or even a slave, in them. They normally serve to carry fuel, which is collected here and there along the route. The children were there now, doubtless, to shelter them from the storm.
In the next flash of lightning I did not see the children any longer. They had apparently decided to pull their heads in. I did not much blame them. I recalled the brigands, now in the custody of the driver and his fellow, those who had been of the wagon of "Septimus Entrates." Perhaps that had been the driver's name, or the name of the owner of the original wagon, that which had fallen into the brigands' trap, where the stones had been removed, that which had slid into the ditch and overturned. Its axle had been broken. I had not, as far as I could recall, heard the name before. It was an unusual name. It suggested the sorts of names not uncommon in many of the Vosk towns, however, names reflecting the cultural mixtures of many such places, reflecting influences as diverse as those of the island ubarates, such as Cos and Tyros, on one hand, and those of southern cities, such as Venna and Ar on the other. The brigands' loot wagon substituted for their own incapacitated vehicle the fellows, their load transferred, had continued on their way. They had seemed like good fellows. I recalled that the brigands, after having descended to prey upon them, had been prepared to withdraw, hearing that the wagon carried a Home Stone. Those with a Home Stone in their keeping are commonly formidable adversaries. Few men will knowingly interfere with the progress of such a person, let alone threaten or attack them. Warning them that he carried a Home Stone indicated that the driver suspected their intentions. It had been that announcement, too, which had encouraged me to enter into the matter. I wondered if the driver had actually been carrying a Home Stone or if his assertion had been merely a trick to discourage predation. At any rate the driver and his fellow were now better off than they had been. They had an extra tharlarion, three extra purses and three fellows, hurrying behind them, naked and bound, ropes on their necks, whom they could now sell to the master of a work chain, perhaps for as much as a silver tarsk apiece. Hopefully, if the driver and his fellow wanted to get the brigands to such a master, they would have them hooded by the time it grew light. If they were recognized they might be treated to summary justice. It had been a narrow thing a few Ehn ago, back on the road. I did not think a little hard labor would hurt the brigands. There were one or more work chains, I knew, in the neighborhood of Venna, to the south. She was repairing her walls. I had heard, as I had come north, that Ionicus of Cos, the master of several such chains, was currently buying. Such chains, incidentally, are regarded as politically neutral instruments. Thus, Venna, an ally of Ar, might employ such a chain, even though its master was of Cos. I supposed that if the Cosians did not mind, there was no point in Venna, who could use cheap labor, becoming exercised about the matter either. It is not universal, but it is quite common, incidentally, for Goreans to strip prisoners. There are various reasons for this. It humiliates the prisoner, and pleases the captor. It shows the prisoner that he is now in someone else's power. Too, it makes it difficult to conceal weapons. Too, there is no generally utilized type of clothing or garb for prisoners on Gor, few "prison uniforms," or such. Accordingly, the marking out of prisoners, identifying them as prisoners, the alerting of others as to their status, etc., which in one culture might be achieved by such garb is often, on Gor, achieved by the absence, or near absence, of clothing. The nudity, or semi-nudity, of the prisoner is likely to alert all who observe it to his status. Too, even if the prisoner should escape his bonds, he then faces the additional problem of locating clothing, and of a suitable type. It might also be mentioned, of course, that most Goreans do not approve of criminals. Accordingly, they have no objections to depriving them of clothing, and such. It says to them that they have been caught, and may now expect to be treated as they deserve. These remarks, incidentally, pertain primarily to free criminals, and not to prisoners of war or slaves. The stripping of prisoners of war, if it is done, is generally a temporary matter, having to do with marking them out, as many Gorean soldiers, particularly mercenaries, do not have distinctive uniforms, and preventing the concealment of weapons. Whether the slave is clothed or not is at the discretion of the master. In the houses of slavers and in slave markets, beautiful women, for example, are almost always kept nude. In another stroke of lightning, I caught sight, again, of the swinging "grease bucket," it filled presumably with tar and tallow, hanging on its strap from the axle housing of the wagon ahead of me. I thought the brigands, all things considered, would be just as happy to go south to a work gang. Perhaps, in time, they would even be released, in two or three years perhaps, when it was thought they had earned out several times their purchase cost, and if it were thought they had been exemplary prisoners, hard-working and suitably docile. Because of the storm, the rain and wind, another method of dealing with such fellows had not been suggested back there on the road, but it is not unknown. It is sometimes done as part of what is known as "wagon justice." I will not go into detail, but the method involves the tar and tallow, and fire. Goreans, as I have suggested, do not much approve of criminals.
I withdrew my pack from the wagon beside which I was walking and let it pass me, and then, following diagonally behind it for a moment, crossed to the left side of the road. Another vehicle passed me, then, behind me. I looked up. In a new flash of lightning I saw the stony plateau, much closer now, surmounted by the inn of the Crooked Tarn. The wind and rain lashed at the right side of my head and body. I stepped from the road. There was a graveled wide place here, connected with the inn. It was at least fifty yards deep and wide, affording room where even wagons pulled by ten tharlarion might turn. A lantern was hung on a post ahead of me. I made toward it. In other flashes of lightning I saw roads wending about the plateau. There there would be flat places, where wagons might camp. I could see several wagons crowded together on the side of the plateau to my left, the lee side. Some other wagons were more ahead of me, turned away from the rain. I felt the gravel of the turn yard beneath my sandals. I paused by some of the wagons. Then I made my way again toward the lantern. It surmounted a post which was at the right corner of the wagon bridge, over the moat, ascending toward the inn gate above me. In a flash of lightning, I saw two girls peeping out from under a tarpaulin on one of the wagons. In the same instant, frightened, they had seen me. When the sky was again lit the tarpaulin was down. I had seen little but their eyes, but I did not doubt but what they were kajirae. They had the look of women who had well learned that men were their masters. I trod the wet gravel toward the left side of the wagon bridge. I paused there to look across the moat. It was some forty feet in width. The ground approaching it sloped down, gently, toward its retaining wall, only some inches in height, too low to allow a man cover behind it. In this wall, at its foot, there were openings every twenty feet or so to allow for water from the outside to drain into the moat. This pitch of the land, too, incidentally, makes it difficult to drain the moat. It could be done, of course, by men working under a shed, to protect them from missile fire, arrows, lead sling pellets, and such, or, say, more safely, and less exposed to sorties, by siege miners, through a tunnel. Either project, of course, would require several men, be costly in time and would constitute an engineering feat of no mean proportion. There are, of course, various other approaches to such problems, for example, attempting to bridge the moat, perhaps using dugout pontoons, having recourse to rafts on which one might mount siege ladders, and even attempting to fill it. Starvation of a garrison is usually ineffective, incidentally, for various reasons. There is usually a large amount of supplies laid in, often enough for one or two years, and water is generally available in siege cisterns within, if not from rain or the moat itself. Similarly, after a time the besiegers tend to exhaust the food supplies available in the countryside and may well themselves suffer from hunger before the besieged. Maintaining a siege indefinitely generally requires an extensive and efficient apparatus of logistics, arranging for the acquisition, transportation, and protection of supplies. To be sure, much depends on the numbers of the besiegers and besieged, the nature of the defenses, and such. For example, if the besieged do not have enough men to man the extent of their walls, their lines must be thinned to the point where in a multipoint attack penetration is invited. Still, statistically, sieges are almost always unsuccessful. That is why cities have walls, and such. Usually, too, within a city, there will be a citadel to which defenders may withdraw, which is likely to be next to impregnable. They are likely to be safe there even if the city is burned about them. If it is of interest, sieges usually do not last very long, seldom more than a few weeks, before the besiegers, not seeing much point in the matter, and generally feeling the pinch of short rations, or possibly even because the captain's war contract has expired, or the men's enlistment agreements are up, will withdraw. Indeed, sometimes the soldiers, particularly if they are levied citizen soldiers, may wish to return home simply to attend to their own business, such as gathering in the harvest. More towns and cities, I think, have fallen to trickery and bribery than frontal assaults. A good besieging captain is usually aware of the political dissensions within a polity and attempts to exploit them, a promised consequence of his success supposedly being to bring one party or another into power. The traitorous party then, and perhaps honestly enough in its own mind, is likely to hail the conqueror as a liberator. Dietrich of Tarnburg, one of the best known of the mercenary captains on Gor, is legendary for his skill in such matters. He has doubtless taken more towns with gold than iron. The gold expended, of course, may be later expeditiously recouped from the public treasury, and the sale of goods, such as precious plate, rugs, fine cloths, tapestries, inlaid woods, silver and gold wire, art objects, jewels, tharlarion, tarsks, and women. Indeed, such gains may be levied as a "liberation fee," which fee it will be then incumbent on the party in power to welcome with good grace and vigorously justify to the people.
The water in the moat, from the inpourings from the land about, the drainages, dark and roiling, was almost to the foot of the bridge.
The lantern to my right, to the side, on its post, at the right side of the bridge, swung wildly in the rain and wind.
I looked up. There was a blast of lightning. This illuminated starkly, for a moment, the palisade at the height of the plateau.
Lightning burst again across the sky.
The boards of the bridge were slick with water. It was about eight feet wide. Two wagons could not pass on it. It led upward to a covered gate, which, probably, had a covered, walled hall and another gate beyond it. The two gates, the inner and the outer, are seldom open at the same time. In the covered way, like an enclosed hall between the gates, there would doubtless, both above and to the sides, be arrow ports. Two massive ropes, better than eight inches in diameter, sloped down from the gate structure to the bridge, which allowed for the raising and lowering of a portion of it at will. When the section was raised, pulled up against the gate, further protecting it, the inn would be, in effect, sealed off, an island in its small sea. Such inns can serve as keeps or strongholds, but they seldom do so. For example, one can simply come to them, and buy entrance and lodging. In that sense they are open, though it is not unusual for them to be closed at night. They can, however, as I have suggested, serve as keeps. More than once such inns have served rural areas as a place of refuge from foragers or marauders. They have been seized, too, upon occasion by the remnants of defeated forces, as places in which to make desperate, perhaps last, stands. Too, such places, particularly in remote, restless or barbarous districts, may be used as outposts, strongholds from which a countryside may be pacified. Within the palisade there would be room for several wagons. In this place I did not know how many. Too, though I did not think it was now lit, there might be a sheltered tarn beacon somewhere, usually under a high shed. This signifies not only the location of the inn, and its amenities, but also a safe approach, one unimpeded by tarn wire, for a tarnsman, or a tarnsman with tarn basket. One brings the bird in to the left of the light, of course. By custom, as noted, Gorean traffic keeps to the left. We suggested earlier certain considerations, practical and lexical, which might bear on this practice.
There was a wagon to the left of the bridge. Its canvas cover was drawn down. The rain poured from it. Under the wagon there was a small, huddled figure, a tarpaulin clutched about its head and shoulders. Within the wagon, then, I supposed, there might be a fellow and his free companion. Doubtless, unless it had been displeasing in some way, the location of the small figure beneath the wagon, huddling there in misery and cold, was a consequence of the presence of the free companion within it. I did not doubt but what the small figure was far more beautiful and attractive than the free companion. That was suggested by what must be its status. Free women hate such individuals and lose few opportunities to make them suffer. I wondered if the fellow in the wagon had acquired the individual under it merely for his interest and pleasure, or perhaps, too, as a way of encouraging his companion to take her own relationship with him more seriously. Perhaps, if his plan worked, in such a case, he might then be kind enough to discard the individual beneath the wagon, ridding himself of it, its work accomplished, in some market or other. I crouched down. I could then see the heavy chain passed through the ring under the wagon. One end of it went between the folds of the tarpaulin clutched about the figure's throat, probably to be padlocked there, about its throat, or attached to a collar. The other end went behind the figure and downward, probably to fasten together its crossed ankles. Seeing my eyes upon it, the small figure knelt under the wagon, and, its hands coming from the tarpaulin, their palms now on the gravel, put down its head, rendering obeisance.
"Oh!" she said, softly, as I lifted the tarpaulin back. She looked up from all fours. The chain which passed through the ring was wound twice about her neck, where it was padlocked. From her neck, through the ring, lifting, and thence descending, it served also to secure her ankles, which were, as I had anticipated, crossed and chained closely together. This makes it so that the prisoner cannot walk. It is common to chain female prisoners so that they cannot rise to their feet. In this there is not only a security but a symbolism, one that bespeaks their rightful place. Beneath the tarpaulin I saw that she was naked, and, as I had thought she might be, beautiful.
She looked up at me, from all fours. Her body now was streaked with the slanted rain. Her hair, apparently from before, was wet and very dark. It fell about her shoulders. Her knees were on the tarpaulin, within which she had huddled, over the gravel. I knelt her back, and then took her hands in mine. They were small, beautifully delicate and feminine. They were also cold. I rubbed them for a time. Then I put them on her thighs. I touched her body, gently, rubbing the rain about it. She shuddered, her shoulders and breasts wet now, and slick, with the rain.
"You are helpless," I said to her, "and will make very little noise."
"My ankles are chained," she whispered.
I put her to her back, a bit more under the shelter of the wagon. The chain moved a little through the loop ring above us. I heard the wagon creak a little, too, above us. Someone had stirred in it, or was moving, it seemed. The fellow who owned the wagon, I supposed, was turning in his sleep, or was addressing himself to his companion. But it then seemed quiet, and there was little noise except for the wind and rain, and the distant rumble of thunder.
My face was close to hers. "You are slave," I whispered.
Suddenly there was a great burst of lightning and crash of thunder.
I saw her eyes, and pressed down upon her, holding her head, raping her lips with the kiss of the master.
I drew back.
There was another great flash of lightning and I saw her eyes, looking up at me, wild, frightened, needful. "Yes," she whispered intensely, helplessly, "I am a slave! I am a slave!" Then she lifted her body and seized me in her arms and pressed her lips eagerly, needfully, gratefully to mine.
I put her to her back.
Then I caressed her, and she squirmed, writhing on the wet tarpaulin over the gravel, beneath the wagon, in the flashes of lightning, in the explosions of thunder.
She was small, naked and cuddly. Her thigh, as I determined, in turning her about, and caressing her, first, by feel, and then in a flash of lightning, wore the common Kajira brand, the small, delicate "Kef," for "Kajira," sometimes called the staff and fronds, suggesting beauty subject to discipline. On her neck, beneath the coils of the heavy, padlocked chain, was a common, close-fitting Gorean slave collar.
"Alas," she wept softly, in misery, in frustration, "my ankles are chained!"
I gathered she might not have been a slave long.
"Oh!" she cried, softly.
I thrust up her legs and slipped between them, and then her legs were tight about me, I within their chained circuit. I lifted her up, and lowered her. "Ohh," she said, softly. She clutched me.
The storm was fierce.
Then, after a time, I lifted her up and slipped back, freeing myself.
There are various ways, of course, to use a woman whose ankles are bound. I had utilized one of them.
"If a question comes up," I said to her, "you were warned to silence, and were helpless." To be sure, this was even true. "You were merely utilized by a casual passer-by," I said. Such things, incidentally, are not that unusual with female slaves, particularly if they are put out, without an iron belt, in effect for the taking. Slave rape, though it can be a civic nuisance, is at worse a peccadillo. There are few slave girls who have not experienced an occasional slave rape. After all, must they not expect such? Are they not slaves?
"I cannot believe the feelings I had," she whispered.
"You must endure such feelings, and more," I said, "when men choose to impose them upon you."
"Yes, Master," she whispered, in awe.
The extent and nature of such feelings, I think, are largely a function of the individuals involved. To be sure, they are usually, too, a function of many other factors, as well. For example, in this particular case, I suspected that her chaining might have been a factor. Restraining the female, sometimes symbolically, sometimes in fashions which are literally physically coercive, making her absolutely helpless, for various reasons, psychological and physical, intensifies her orgasm. This sort of thing, I suppose, is largely unknown to free women, though many seem to suspect it, dimly or otherwise. Its reality, of course, can become clear to them, for example, as they might find themselves on their knees, bound, kissing a man's whip. The most significant restraint, of course, is the condition of bondage itself, in which the woman knows that the male is dominant over her and that she must submit to him, that she is owned, and must, in fear of very life, be obedient, and pleasing. Slavery institutionalizes, in an organized, social, civilized context, the natural biological relationship between men and women. It also, of course, as one would expect, by means of various devices, legal and otherwise, clarifies it and renders it more efficient.
"Oh, buy me, Master! Buy me!" she begged.
"Only a slave," said I, "begs to be bought."
"I am a slave," she said. "That was taught to me weeks ago by the slaver who captured me!"
"You are probably not for sale," I said.
"My master does not care for me," she said. "He bought me only to anger his companion, who is terribly cruel to me. During the day, when my legs are open, he even rents me out to strangers for a tarsk bit!"
"Does his companion grow more attentive and concerned?" I asked.
"I think not," she said.
"Perhaps it should be she who is chained beneath the wagon," I said.
"She is a free woman!" protested the girl, in horror.
"Your master charges a tarsk bit for your use?" I asked.
"Yes," she said.
"Open your mouth," I said.
She did so, and I drew forth a tarsk bit from my pouch, this one not a separate coin in the sense of a round or square coin, but a piece of such a coin, a narrow, triangular, chopped eighth of a copper tarn disk, and placed it in her mouth.
"That is for your master," I said. Many Goreans, particularly those of low caste, on errands and such, carry a coin or coins in their mouths. Most Gorean garments, a notable exception being those of artisans, lack pockets.
She looked at me.
I pulled the tarpaulin up about her, as it had been before, to protect her from the storm.
In placing the coin in her mouth, I had not only, having discovered he was interested in such things, and the price was not too much, compensated her master for her use but had precluded further importunities on her part.
I kissed a little at her face. I had thought the streaks there might have been rain, but they had a salty taste.
I moved from beneath the wagon and picked up my pack.
She looked up at me. She understood, the coin in her mouth, that she was now to be silent.
I looked up to the height of the stony plateau, and the palisade. In a flash of lightning, illuminated clearly for a moment, I could see, over the palisade, hanging from its chains, from the crosspiece on the high pole, swinging in the storm, the huge sign with its emblematic representation of a bird, that with the vulturelike neck and the distorted, grasping right leg and talons, the sign of the Crooked Tarn.
I looked back to the girl.
She was still looking at me.
I pointed to the gravel before her, under the wagon.
Immediately, kneeling, she lowered her head to the gravel, in obeisance.
I then turned away, and began to ascend the bridge, leading up to the gate. I put the girl from my mind. She was, after all, a slave, and her use had been paid for.
Here is a cover gallery showing all the editions and printings of Renegades of Gor, sorted by year of publication. Click on any cover to see the book.
Here is a cover gallery showing all the editions and printings of Renegades of Gor, sorted by edition. Click on any cover to see the book.