The Gorean World



The movements of the men of the Tahari are, during the hours of heat, usually slow, almost languid or graceful. They engage in little unnecessary movement. They do not, if they can help it, overheat themselves. They sweat as little as possible, which conserves body fluid. Their garments are loose and voluminous, yet closely woven. The outer garment when in caravan, usually the burnoose, is almost invariable white. This color reflects the rays of the sun. The looseness of the garments, acting as a bellows in movement, circulates air about the body, which air, circulating, over the body, cools the body by evaporation; the close weave of the garment is to keep the moisture and water, as much as possible, within the garment, preferrably condensing back on the skin. There are two desiderata which are cruicial in these matters; the first is to minimize perspiration; the second is to retain as much moisture, lost through perspiration, as is possible on the body.
Tribesmen of Gor, page 73

"The noble Samos has been most kind," said Ibn Saran. "His hospitality has been most generous."
I extended my hand to Ibn Saran and he, bowing twice, brushed twice the palm of his hand against mine.
"I am pleased to make the acquaintance of he who is friend to Samos of Port Kar," said Ibn Saran. "May your water bags never be empty. May you have always water."
Tribesmen of Gor, page 21

I noted that Ibn Saran ate only with the right hand. This was the eating hand, and the scimitar hand. He would feed himself only with the hand which, wielding steel, could take blood.
Tribesmen of Gor, page 20

"Find Aya," I would tell her. "Beg her to put you to work." Aya was one of the slave women of Farouk.
Once she dared to say to me, "But Aya makes me do all her work!"
"Hurry!" I told her.
Of course Aya exploited her. It was my intention taht she should. But, too, Aya, with her kaiila strap, continued her lessons in Gorean. Too, she taught her skills useful to a Tahari female, the making of ropes from kaiila hair, the cutting and plaiting of reins, the weaving of cloth and mats, the decoration and beading of the leather goods, the use of the mortar and pestle, the use of the grain quern, the perparation and spicing of stews, the cleaning of verr and, primarily when we camped near watering holes in the vicinity of the nomads, the milking of verr and kaiila. Too, she was taught the churning of milk in skin bags.
"She is making me learn the labors of a free woman," once had complained Alyena to me.
I had gestured her to her knees. "You are a poor sort," I told er. "To a nomad I may sell you. In his tent the heavy labors of the free woman will doubtless be yours, in addition to the labors of the slave."
"I would have to work as a free woman," she whispered, "and yet be also a slave?"
"Yes," I said.
She shuddered. "Sell me to a rich man," she begged.
"I will sell you, or give you, or loan you, or rent you," I said, "to whomsoever I please.
Tribesmen of Gor, pages 72-73

Angrily Alyena.. took the tiny, triangular yellow veil, utterly diaphanous, and held it before her face, covering hte lower portion of her face. the veil was drawn back and she held it at her ears. The light silk was held across the bridge of her nose, where, beautifully, its porous, yellow sheen broke to the left and right. Her mouth, angry, was visible behind the veil. It, too, covered her chin. The mouth of a woman, by men of the Tahari, and by Goreans generally, is found extremely provocative, sexually. The slave veil is a mockery, in its way. It reveals, as much as conceals, yet it adds a touch of subtlety, mystery; slave veils are made to be torn away, the lips of the master then crushing those of the slave.
Tribesmen of Gor, page 69

When finished with her, I would cross Alyena's ankles and, with the walking chain, suitably shortened, chain them together. That way she could not stand. I would throw her her brief djellaba against the desert cold, and order her to a position of sleep. On the mat, toward morning, she would pull the hood over her face, fold her arms and pull up her legs, knees bent; the djellaba came far up her thighs.
Tribesmen of Gor, page 81

Once she stole a date. I did not whip her. I chained her, arms over her head, back against the trunk, to a flahdah tree. I permitted nomad children to discomfit her. They are fiendish little beggars. They tickled her with the lanceolate leaves of the tree. They put honey about her, to attract the tiny black sand flies, which infest such water holes in the spring.
Tribesmen of Gor, page 81

I lifted the bag, drinking deeply. I replaced the plug and put back the bag, wiping my mouth on my sleeve. . . In sharing their water I had made myself, by custom of the Tahari, their guest.
Tribesmen of Gor, page 143

Ibn Saran, not taking his eyes from Alyena, lifted his finger. From one side a slave girl, barefoot, bangled, in sashed, diaphanous, trousered chalwar, gathered at the ankles, in tight, red-silk vest, with bare midriff, fled to him, with the tall, graceful, silvered pot containing the black wine. She was veiled. She knelt, replenishing the drink. Beneath her veil I saw the metal of her collar. I had not thought to have such fortune. She did not look at me. She returned to her place wit the pot of black wine. Ibn Saran lifted another finger. From the side there hastened to him another girl, a fair skinned, red haired girl. She too, wore veil, vest, chalwar, bangles, collar. She carried a tray, on which were various spoons and sugars. She knelt, placing her tray on the table. With a tiny spoon, its tip no more that a tenth of a hort in diameter, she placed four measures of white sugar, and six of yellow, in the cup; with two stirring spoons, one for the white sugar, another for the yellow, she stirred the beverage after each measure. She then held the cup to the side of her cheek, testing its temperature; Ibn Saran glanced at her; she, looking at him, timidly kissed the side of the cup and placed it before him. Then her head down, she withdrew. I did not turn to look back at the first girl, she who held the silvered pot.
Tribesmen of Gor, pageS 88-89

The war kaiila, rearing on its hind legs, its claws, however, sheathed, lunged at the other animal, its clawed back feet thrusting with an explosion of sand away from the ground; the long neck darted forward, the long, graceful head, its fanged jaws bound shut with leather, struck at the man astride the other beast. He thrust the jaws away with the buckler, and, rearing in the stirrups of his high saddle, slashed at me with the leather-sheathed, curved blade. I turned the stroke with my own sheathed blade, it, too, in the light, ornamented exercise sheath.
The kaiila, both of them, with the swiftness, the agility of cats, spun, half crouching, squealing in frustration, and again lunged toward one another. With the light rein I pulled my kaiila to the left as we passed, and the man, trying to reach me, was, startled, off balance. With a backward sweeping cut the sheathed blade struck him, as he hung from his saddle, on the back of the neck.
He swept past me and spun his kaiila, then jerked it up short, back on its haunches in the sand.
I readied myself for another passage.
For ten days had we trained, for ten Gorean hours a day. Of the past forty passages eight had been divided, no blood adjudged drawn. In thirty-two I had been adjudged victorious, nineteen times to the death cut.
He pulled his sand veil, yellow, from his dark face, down about his throat. He thrust his burnoose back further over his shoulders. He was Harif, said to be the finest blade in Tor.
"Bring salt," he said to the judge.
The judge gestured to a boy, who brought him a small dish of salt.
The warrior slipped from his saddle, and, on foot, approached me.
I remained mounted.
"Cut the leather from the jaws of your kaiila," said he. Then he gestured to the boy, that the boy should remove the claw sheaths of the beast. He did so, carefully, the beast moving, nervous, shifting in the sand.
I discarded the exercise sheath, and, with the bared blade, parted the leather that had bound the jaws of the kaiila. The leather sprang from the blade. Silk, dropped upon the scimitar of the Tahari, divided, falls free, floating, to the floor. The beast reared, its claws raking the air, and threw back its head, biting at the sun.
I lifted the curved blade of the scimitar. It flashed. I sheathed it, and slipped from the saddle, giving the rein of the mount to the boy.
I faced the warrior.
"Ride free," he said.
"I will, "I said.
"I can teach you nothing more," he said.
I was silent.
"Let there be salt between us," he said.
"Let there be salt between us," I said.
He placed salt from the small dish on the back of his right wrist. He looked at me. His eyes were narrow. "I trust," said he, "you have not made jest of me."
"No," I said.
"In your hand," he said, "steel is alive, like a bird."
The judge nodded assent. The boy's eyes shone. He stood back.
"I have never seen this, to this extent, in another man." He looked at me.  "Who are you?" he asked.
I placed salt on the back of my right wrist. "One who shares salt with you," I said.
"It is enough," he said.
I touched my tongue to the salt in the sweat of his right wrist, and he touched his tongue to the salt on my right wrist.  "We have shared salt," he said.
He then placed in my hand the golden tarn disk, of Ar, with which I had purchased my instruction.
"It is yours," I said.
"How can that be?" he asked.
"I do not understand," I said.
He smiled. "We have shared salt," he said.
Tribesmen of Gor

I knew the light lance, and the swift, silken kaiila. I had learned these with the Wagon Peoples. But I did not know the scimitar. The short sword, now slung over my left shoulder, in the common fashion, would be of little use on kaiila back. The men of the Tahari do not fight on foot. A man on foot in the desert, in warfare, is accounted a dead man.
Tribesmen of Gor

"Mighty Haroun," said Baram, Sheik of Bezhad, "the command is yours! The Kavars await!"
"The Bakahs, too!" cried the pasha of the Bakahs. "The Ta'Kara!" "The Char!" "The Kashani!" Each of the pashas lifted their lances.
The veiled figure, robed in white, with the lance and pennon, nodded his head, accepting the command of these thousands of fierce warriors.
Haroun then turned in his robes. "Greetings, Suleiman," said he.
"Greetings, Haroun, high Pasha of the Kavars," said Suleiman.
"I heard your wound was grievous," said Haroun to Suleiman. "Why have you taken to the saddle?"
"Why of course to do war with you," said Suleiman.
"On grounds, or for sport?" asked Haroun.
"On grounds," said Suleiman, angrily. "Kavar raids on Aretai communities, the breaking of wells!"
 "Remember Red Rock!" cried a Tashid guard.
 "Remember Two Scimitars!" cried a man in the retinue of the pasha of the Bakahs.
 "No mercy is shown to he who destroys water!" cried a man, one of the Luraz.
 Scimitars were loosened. I shifted my wind veil about my face. There were Aretai present. They paid the little attention. I saw Shakar look once at me, and then look troubled, then look away.
"Look!" said Haroun. He pointed to the nude, tethered wretches, bound to his pommel. "Lift your arms, Sleen," he said to them.
The men lifted their arms, their wrists crossed, bound, over their heads.
"See?" asked Haroun.
"Kavars!" cried one of the Raviri.
"No!" cried Suleiman. "The scimitar on the forearm! The point does not face out from the body!" He looked at Haroun. "These men are not Kavars," he said.
"No," said Haroun.
"Aretai raided Kavar oases," cried a man, a guard among the Ta`Kara. "They broke wells!"
Suleiman's hand clenched on the hilt of his scimitar. "No!" he cried. "That is not true!"
There was angry shouting among the Kavars and their cohorts.
Haroun held up his hand. "Suleiman speaks the truth," said he. "No Aretai raided in this season, and had they done so, they would not destroy wells. They are of the Tahari."
It was the highest compliment one tribesman could pay to another.
"The Kavars, too," said Suleiman, slowly, clearly, "are of the Tahari."
The men subsided.
Tribesmen Of Gor


There was another reason I had brought Miss Blake-Allen, as we may perhaps speak of her for purposes of simplicity, to the Tahari districts. Cold, white-skinned women are of interest to the men of the Tahari. They enjoy putting them in servitude. They enjoy, on their submission mats, turning them into helpless, yielding slaves. Too, blue-eyed, blond women are, statistically, rare in the Tahari districts. Those that exist there have been imported as slaves. Given her complexion and coloring, I thought, and Samos concurred, we could get a good price for the wench in Tor, or in the interior, at an oasis market. We had little doubt that the men of the Tahari would pay high for the body and person of Miss Blake-Allen. It had entered my mind, too, that it might prove most profitable, under certain conceivable circumstances, to exchange her for information.
In Kasra I had learned the name, and father, of the boy who had found, in pursuing a kaiila, the rock on which had been inscribed 'Beware the steel tower'. His name was Achmed, and his father's name was Farouk, who was a Kasra merchant. I had failed to contact them in Kasra, as I had planned, but I had learned that they were in the region of Tor, purchasing kaiila, for a caravan to the kasbah, or fortress, of Suleiman, of the Aretai tribe, master of a thousand lances, Ubar of the Oasis of Nine Wells.
Tribesmen of Gor

I walked to the street of the weapon makers. I was anxious to make the acquaintance of the Tahari scimitar.
"There will be war between the Kavars and the Aretai," I heard a man say.
I walked to the street of the weapon makers. Lightly, in my right hand, I swung walking chains. They would look well on the slim ankles of the lovely Alyena, a slave girl I was having bearded and trained in the pens of Tor.
This night I thought I would have my supper at the Pomegranate. I had heard their dancers were superb.
Tribesmen of Gor

I saw, some hundred yards from the caravan, the riders reined up. With them I saw Farouk, conversing with their captain. The caravan guards, on nervous, prancing kaiila, were behind him. Lances were high, butts in the stirrup sheath, like needles against the hills.
I rode my kaiila out a few steps, toward the men, then returned it to the caravan.
"They are Aretai," said one of the drovers. The caravan, I knew, was bound for the Oasis of Nine Wells. It was held by Suleiman, master of a thousand lances. He was high pasha of the Aretai.
Several of the newcomers fanned out to flank the caravan, at large intervals. A cluster of them rode toward its head, another cluster toward its rear. Some twenty of them, with Farouk, and certain guards, began to work their way down the caravan, beast by beast, checking the drovers and kaiila tenders.
"What are they doing?" I asked a nearby drover.
"They are looking for Kavars," he said.
"What will they do with them if they find them?" I asked.
"Kill them," said the man.
Tribesmen of Gor

It had been night, when I had first suspected the nature of the trap, the sixth night after the joining of the caravan of Farouk by the escort of Aretai soldiers.
The lieutenant to the captain, high officer of the escort, came to my tent. It had been he who had suspected me of being a Kavar spy, who had urged the killing of me. We bore one another little good will. His name was Hamid. The name of the captain was Shakar.
He looked about himself, furtively, then sat himself in the tent, unbidden, on my mats. I did not wish to kill him.
"You carry stones, which you wish to sell to Suleiman, high Pasha of the Aretai," had said the lieutenant.
"Yes," I had said.
He had seemed anxious. "Give them to me," he said. "I will carry them to Suleiman. He will not see you. I will give you, from him, what they bring in pressed date bricks."
"I think not," I said.
His eyes narrowed. His swarthy face darkened.
"Go," he said to Alyena. I had not yet hobbled her.
She looked at me. "Go," I said.
"I do not wish to speak before the slave," he said.
"I understand," I said. Only too well did I understand. Did he find it essential to slay me he would do well not to perform this deed before a witness, be it only a slave.
He smiled. "There are Kavars about," he said, "many of them."
To be sure, I had seen, from time to time, over the past few days, riders, in small groups, scouting us.
When the guards or the men of our escort rode toward them, they faded away into the hills.
"In the vicinity," said Hamid, "though do not speak this about, there is a party of Kavars, in number between three and four hundred."
"Raiders?" I asked.
"Kavars." he said. "Tribesmen. And men of their vassal tribe, the Ta'Kara." He looked at me closely. "There may soon be war," he said. "Caravans will be few. Merchants will not care to risk their goods. It is their intention that Suleiman not receive these goods. It is their intention to divert them, or most of them, to the Oasis of the Stones of Silver." This was an oasis of the Char, also a vassal tribe of the Kavars. Its name had been given to it centuries before, when thirsty men, who had moved at night on the desert, had come upon it, discovering it. Dew had formed on the large flat stones thereabout and, in the light of the dawn, had made them, from a distance, seem to glint like silver. Dew, incidentally, is quite common in the Tahari, condensing on the stones during the chilly nights. It burns off, of course, almost immediately in the morning. Nomads sometime dig stones before dawn, clean them, set them out, and, later, lick the moisture from them. One cannot pay the water debt, of course, with the spoonful or so of moisture obtainable in this way. It does, however, wet the lips and tongue.
"If there are so many Kavars about," I said, "and Ta'Kara, you do not have enough men to defend this caravan." Indeed, in such a situation, militarily, so small an escort as a hundred men would seem rather to invite attack.
Hamid, lieutenant to Shakar, captain of the Aretai, did not respond to my remark. Rather he said, "Give me the stones. I will keep them safe for you. If you do not give them to me, you may lose them to Kavars. I will see Suleiman for you. He will not see you. I will bargain for you. I will get you a good price in date bricks for them."
"I will see Suleiman myself," I said. "I will bargain for myself."
"Kavar spy!" he hissed.
I did not speak.
"Give me the stones," he said.
"No," I said.
"It is your intention." he said, "to gain access to the presence of Suleiman, and then assassinate him!"
"That seems an ill-devised strategem to obtain a good price in date bricks," I said. "You have drawn your dagger," I observed.
He lunged for me but I was no longer there. I moved to my feet, and kicking loose the pole which held the tent, slipped outside, drawing my scimitar. "He!" I cried. "Burglar! A burglar!"
Men came running. Among them came Shakar, captain of the Aretai, blade drawn, and several of his men. Drovers, slaves, crowded about. Inside the fallen tent, struggling was a figure. Then the tent, as men held torches, at a sign from Shakar, was thrown back.
"Why," cried I in amazement, "it is the noble Hamid. For give me, Noble Sir. I mistook you for a burglar!"
Grumbling, brushing sand from his robes, Hamid climbed to his feet.
"It was clumsy to let a tent fall on you," said Shakar. He sheathed his scimitar.
"I tripped." said Hamid. He did not look pleased as, following his captain, looking back, he disappeared in the darkness.
"Set the tent aright," I told Alyena, who was looking up at me, frightened.
"Yes, Master," she said.
I then went to find Farouk. There was little point in his losing men.
Tribesmen of Gor

"It is my recommendation to you," said the Kavar, "to disarm yourself and dismount."
"It is my recommendation to you," I said, "that you, and your fellows, ride for your lives."
"I do not understand," he said.
"If you were Aretai," I asked, "would you have surrendered the caravan without a fight?"
"Of course not," he said.
His face turned white.
"Fortunately," I said. "1 see only dust rising in the east. I would not, however, strike due west. That would be the natural path of departure of surprised, startled men. Others may await you there. Considering the extent of the terrain, and the likely numbers that the Aretai can muster, it will be difficult for them to encircle you unless you permit them to close with the caravan. My own recommendation, though it may be imperfect, given that I have not scouted the terrain, would be to depart, with haste, south."
"South," he said, "is Aretai territory!"
"It seems unlikely they would expect you to move in that direction," I said. "You may always deviate from that course later."
He stood in his stirrups. He cried out. An officer rode up. Together they looked to the east. Dust, like the blade of a dark scimitar, for pasangs, swept toward us.
"Let us fight!" cried the man.
"Without knowing the nature and number of the enemy?" I inquired.
The officer looked at me.
"What are their numbers?" he demanded.
"I'm sure I do not know," I said, "but I expect they are ample to accomplish what they have determined to do."
"Who are you?" demanded the officer.
"One who is bound for the Oasis of Nine Wells," I told him.
The officer stood in his stirrups. He lifted his lance. Men wheeled into position.
Kicking the kaiila in the flanks, angrily, the officer urged his mount from the camp. The swirling burnooses of the Kavars and Ta'Kara left the camp.
They rode south. I regarded their leader as a good officer.
Tribesmen of Gor

"The names of leaders," said Hassan, "do not figure in the war cries of Aretai, nor of most tribes. It is the tribe, which is significant, not the man, the whole, not the part. The war Cry of the Aretai, as I am familiar with it, is 'Aretai victorious!'
"Interesting," I said. "Do the Kavars have a similar cry?"
"Yes." said Hassan. "It is 'Kavars supreme!' "
"It seems reasonably clear, then," said I, "that Aretai did not raid Two Scimitars."
"No," said Hassan, "Aretai did not raid Two Scimitars."
"How can you be sure?" I asked.
"A well was broken," said Hassan. "The Aretai are sleen, but they must be respected as foes. They are good fighters, good men of the desert. They would not destroy a well. They are of the Tahari."
"Who, then," I asked, "raided the oasis of the Sand Sleen, the oasis of Two Scimitars?"
"I do not know," said Hassan. "I would like to know. I am curious."
"I, too, am curious," I said.
Tribesmen of Gor


We did not have to wait long for the attack of the Kavars. It occurred shortly after the tenth hour, the Gorean noon, the following day.
Not much to my surprise the men of the escort of Aretai rushed forth to do battle, but, seeing the numbers of their enemy, which indeed seemed considerable, sweeping down from the hills, wheeled their kaiila and, abandoning the caravan, rode rapidly away.
"Do not offer resistance!" cried Farouk to his guards, riding the length of the caravan. "Do not fight! Do not resist!"
In a few moments the Kavars, howling, lances high, burnooses swirling, were among us.
The guards of Farouk, following his example, dropped their bucklers to the dust, thrust their lances, butt down, in the earth, took out their scimitars and, flinging them blade downward from the saddle, hurled them into the ground, disarming themselves.
Slave girls screamed.
With lances the Kavars gestured that the men dismount. They did so. They were herded together. Kavars rode down the caravan line, ordering drovers to hurry their animals into lines.
With their scimitars, they slashed certain of the bags and crates on the kaiila, determining their contents.
One Kavar warrior, with the point of his lance, drew a line in the graveled dust.
"Strip your women," he called. "Put them on this line." Women were hurried to the line. Some of them were stripped by the scimitar. I saw Alyena pulled by the arm from her kurdah and thrown to the gravel. As she knelt on her hands and knees in the gravel, looking up, terrified, a warrior, behind her, on kaiila, thrust the tip of his lance beneath her veil, between the side of her head and the tiny golden string, and, lifting the lance, ripped the veil from her, face-stripping her. She turned to face him, terrified, crouching in the gravel. "A beauty!" he cried. "Oh!" she cried. The steel, razor-sharp point of the lance was at her bosom. "Run to the line, Slave Girl," she was ordered.  "Yes, Master," she cried.
"Why have you not disarmed yourself?" asked a Kavar, riding up to me.
"I am not one of Farouk's guards," I said.
"You are a member of the caravan, are you not?" he asked.
"I am journeying with it," I said.
"Disarm yourself," he said. "Dismount."
"No," I said.
"We have no wish to kill you," he said.
"I am pleased to hear it," I said. "I, too, have no wish to kill you."
"Find Aretai," said the man, riding by. "Kill them."
"Are you Aretai?" asked the man.
"No," I said.
Tribesmen of Gor

The various prices and coins had totaled eleven tarn disks of Ar, and four of Turia. To his nine men, apiece, he had thrown a tarn disk of Ar. The rest he kept for himself. A gold tarn disk of Ar is more than many common laborers earn in a year. Many low-caste Goreans have never held one in their hand. His men, outside, waited, the reins of their kaiila in hand.
"And strangest of all," said the merchant, leaning forward, looking at us intently, "is the fact that the Aretai raiders were led by a woman!"
"A woman?" asked Hassan.
"Yes," said the merchant.
"And the war messengers have already been sent?" asked Hassan.
"To all the oases of the Kavars and their vassal tribes," said the merchant.
"Has there been talk of truce, of discussion?" asked Hassan.
"With those who have cost water?" asked the merchant. "Of course not!"
"And what word," asked Hassan, "has been heard from Haroun, high pasha of the Kavars?"
"Who knows where Haroun is?" asked the merchant, spreading his bands.
"And of his vizier, Baram, Sheik of Bezhad?"
"The war messengers have been sent," said the merchant.
"I see," said Hassan "
"The tribes gather, said the merchant. "The desert will flame."
"I am weary," said Hassan. "And I do not think it wise to be too publicly in Two Scimitars by daylight."
"Hasaad Pasha knows that raiders come to Two Scimitars," smiled the merchant. "It is useful to our economy. We are not on main trade routes."
"He does not know officially," said Hassan, "and I do not wish him to have to dispatch a hundred soldiers to ride about in the desert searching for us, to satisfy outraged citizens. I do not feel like a hard ride now, and doubtless, too, neither do the soldiers. Besides, if we actually encountered one another, it would be quite embarrassing to both parties. What would we do?"
"Ride past one another shouting wildly?" suggested the merchant.
"Perhaps," smiled Hassan.
"You would probably have to kill one another," said the merchant.
"I suppose so," said Hassan.
"At night," said the merchant, "you, and others, are always welcome in Two Scimitars."
"Welcomed by night, sought by day," said Hassan. "I think that I shall never understand honest men."
"We are complicated," admitted the merchant.
"I wish that the men of other oases were so complicated," said Hassan. "In many of them they would pay high to have my head on a lance."
"We of Two Scimitars," said the merchant, "cannot be held accountable for the lack of sophistication in such simple rogues."
"But to whom do you sell the goods I bring you?" asked Hassan.
"To such simple rogues," smiled the merchant.
"They know?" asked Hassan.
"Of course," said the merchant.
"I see," said Hassan. "Well, it will soon be light, and I must be going."
He rose to his feet, somewhat stiffly, for he had been sit cross-legged for some time, and I joined him.
"May your water bags be never empty. May you always have water," said the merchant.
"May your water bags be never empty," we rejoined. "May you always have water."
Tribesmen of Gor

"The names of leaders," said Hassan, "do not figure in the war cries of Aretai, nor of most tribes. It is the tribe, which is significant, not the man, the whole, not the part. The war Cry of the Aretai, as I am familiar with it, is 'Aretai victorious!'
"Interesting," I said. "Do the Kavars have a similar cry?"
"Yes." said Hassan. "It is 'Kavars supreme!' "
"It seems reasonably clear, then," said I, "that Aretai did not raid Two Scimitars."
"No," said Hassan, "Aretai did not raid Two Scimitars."
"How can you be sure?" I asked.
"A well was broken," said Hassan. "The Aretai are sleen, but they must be respected as foes. They are good fighters, good men of the desert. They would not destroy a well. They are of the Tahari."
"Who, then," I asked, "raided the oasis of the Sand Sleen, the oasis of Two Scimitars?"
"I do not know," said Hassan. "I would like to know. I am curious."
"I, too, am curious," I said.
Tribesmen of Gor

The battle of Red Rock, for which the oasis is named, took place more than seventy years ago, in 10,051 C.A., or in the sixth year of the reign of Ba'Arub Pasha. Since that time the Tashid have been a vassal tribe of the Aretai. Though there are some token tributes involved, exemptions for Aretai merchants from caravan taxes, and such, the vassal tribe is, in its own areas, almost completely autonomous, with its own leaders, magistrates, judges and soldiers.    The significance of the relationship is, crucially, interestingly, military alliance. The vassal tribe is bound, by its Tahari oaths, sworn over water and salt, to support the conquering tribe in its military endeavors, with supplies, kaiila and men. The vassal tribe is, in effect, a military unit subordinate to the conquering tribe which it, then, may count among its forces. Enemies conquered become allies enlisted. One's foe of yesterday becomes one's pledged friend of today. The man of the Tahari, conquered, stands ready, his scimitar returned to him, to defend his conqueror to the death. The conqueror, by his might and cunning, and victory, has won, by the right of the Tahari, a soldier to his cause. I am not clear on the historical roots of this unusual social institution but it does tend, in its practice, to pacify great sections of the Tahari. War, for example, between conquering tribes and rebellious vassal tribes is, although not unknown, quite rare, Another result, perhaps unfortunate, however, is that the various tribes tend to build into larger and larger confederations of militarily related communities. Thus, if war should erupt between the high tribes, the conquering tribes, the entire desert might become engulfed in hostilities. This was what was in danger of happening now, for the Aretai and the Kavars were the two high tribes of the Tahari. Not all tribes, of course, are vassal or conquering tribes. Some are independent. War, incidentally, between vassal tribes is not unknown. The high tribes need not, though often they do, support vassal tribes in their squabbles; the vassal tribes, however, are expected to support the high, or noble, tribes, in their altercations. Sometimes, it is made quite clear, by messenger and proclamation, whether a war is local or not, say, between only the Ta'Kara and the Luraz, who have some point of dispute between them. All in all, the relation of vassal tribe to conquering tribe probably contributes more to the peace of the Tahari than to its hostilities. It is fortunate that some such arrangement exists for the men of the Tahari, like Goreans generally, are extremely proud, high-strung, easily offended men, with a sense of honor that is highly touchy. Furthermore, enjoying war, they need very little to send them to their saddles with their scimitars loose in their sheaths. A rumor of an insult or outrage, not inquired closely into, perhaps by intent, will suffice, A good fight, I have heard men of the Tahari say, licking their lips, justifies any cause. It may be appropriate here to mention that the reason that Hammaran came to Red Rock seventy years ago is not even known, by either Aretai or Tashid. The cause of the war was forgotten, but its deeds are still recounted about the fires. There were seventy men in the bodyguard of Hammaran. When the battle was lost to him, Ba'Arub tried to reach him. It is said he came within ten yards.
Tribesmen of Gor


"Come, Slave," said the rider, he who now held the tether.
"Yes, Master!" said the man. Only too pleased was he that his tether no longer was looped about my pommel. The rider moved his kaiila away. He did not spare the wretch, who struggled to keep his pace. Behind the Kavar lines, among the tents, with the kaiila and other goods, the man would be chained, to await his disposition among masters.
To my right were the lines of the Aretai. The Aretai themselves, of course, with black kaffiyeh and white agal cording, held their center. Their right flank was held by the Luraz and the Tashid. Their left flank was held by the Raviri, and four minor tribes, the Ti, the Zevar, the Arani and the Tajuks. The Tajuks are not actually a vassal tribe of the Aretai, though they ride with them. More than two hundred years ago a wandering Tajuk had been rescued in the desert by Aretai riders, who had treated him well, and had given him water and a kaiila. The man had found his way back to his own tents. Since that time the Tajuks had, whenever they heard the Aretai were gathering, and summoning tribes, come to ride with them. They had never been summoned by the Aretai, who had no right to do this, but they had never failed to come. Usually an Aretai merchant, selling small goods, would visit the tents of the Khan of the Tajuks, the black kaffiyeh and white agal cording guaranteeing him safe passage, and, at the campfire of the Khan, after his trading, while drinking tea, would say, "I have heard that the Aretai gathering for war."
"At what place," would inquire the Tajuk Khan, as had his father, and his father before him.
The Khan would then be told the place.
Tribesmen of Gor

I could see that there was trouble on the left flank of the Aretai. The Tajuk riders were forcing their way to the front of the lines, between the Zevar and the Arani. Tajuks were accustomed to this position. They had held the front lines of the Aretai left flank for two hundred years. The left flank, incidentally, is the critical flank in this form of warfare. The reason for this is interesting and simple. The primary engagement weapons are lance and scimitar, and the primary defense is a small round buckler. There is a tendency, after the lines are engaged for each force to drift to its right. In a Gorean engagement on foot, incidentally, assuming uniform lines, this drift is almost inevitable, because each man, in fighting, tends to shelter himself partially, as he can, behind the shield of the man on his right. This causes the infantry lines to drift. A result of this is that it is common for each left flank to be outflanked by the opponent's right flank. There are various ways to counter this. One might deepen ranks in the left flank, if one has the men to do this. One might use tharlarion on the left flank. One might, if one has the men, use clouds of archers and slingers to hold back the enemy. One might choose his terrain in such a way as to impede the advancement of the enemy's right flank. One might abandon uniform lines, etc. This drift is much less pronounced, but still exists, in cavalry engagements. It probably has to do with the tendency of the fighters to move the buckler to the right, in shielding themselves. These considerations, of course, presuppose that some semblance of lines is maintained. This is much more difficult to do in a cavalry engagement than in a foot engagement. Tahari battles, at some time or another, almost always, the forces deeply interpenetrating one another, turn into a melee of individual combats. The left flank of the Aretai, in two hundred years, it was said, had not been tamed. It had been held by the fierce Tajuks, a culturally united but mixed-race people, many of whom were characterized by the epicanthic fold. Now, I gathered, the Zevar and Arani had prevailed upon the Aretai command to defend the front lines of the left flank, or perhaps the Tajuks had merely come late, to discover their position occupied by others. There was not good feeling between the Tajuks and the Zevar and Arani. "They are not even vassal to the Aretai," it had been charged. "Yet they are given prominence in the left flank!"
I could see a small group of riders hurrying from the Aretai center to their left flank.
It would scarcely do for the Tajuks and the Zevar and Arani to begin fighting among themselves. I realized, however, as must have the hurrying riders, that this was not at all impossible. The Tajuks had come for a war; at a word from their Khan they would, without a second thought, with good cheer, initiate this enterprise against the Zevar and Arani tribesmen. The Tajuks were a touchy people, arrogant, proud, generous, capricious. If offended, and not deeming it honorable to attack the allies of the Aretai, they might simply withdraw their forces and return to their own land, more than a thousand pasangs away. It was not impossible, in order to demonstrate their displeasure, that they would choose to go over to the Kavar side, assuming that they would be given prominence in the Kavar left flank. I respected the Tajuks, but I, like most others, did not profess to understand them.
One of the riders going to the left flank from the Aretai center was tied in his saddle. His body was stiff from pain. I recognized him. I was pleased. I saw that Suleiman, Pasha of Nine Wells, master of a thousand lances, lived. Rising from his couch, his wound, inflicted by Hamid, the would-be assassin not yet healed, he had taken saddle. Beside him, held in the hand of Shakar, captain of the Aretai, was a tall lance, surmounted by the pennon of command.
Before the Kavar center I saw another figure, robed in white, bearded. Near him a rider held the Kavar pennon of command. Another held the pennon of the, vizier, That man, I knew, must be Baram, a not uncommon name in the Tahari, Sheik of Bezhad, vizier to Haroun, high Pasha of the Kavars. Nowhere did I see the pennon of the high pasha himself. I did not know even if there were such a man.
About my neck, on a leather string, I wore the ring of the Kur, it containing the light-diversion device. I fingered the ring, looking down on the lines.
There was still much disturbance on the left flank of the Aretai, hundreds of riders angrily Milling about, Tajuks with Zevar and Arani mixed in. Suleiman, with his immediate retinue, was with them, doubtless expostulating.
I saw motion among the ranks of the Kavars and their vassal tribes. I heard the drums change their beat; I saw the lines of riders ordering themselves; I saw pennons, the pennons of preparation, lifted; I assumed that when they lowered the pennons of the charge would be lifted on their lances, and then that the lances would drop, and with them the lance of every rider in the Kavar host and that, drums rolling, the lines would then, in sweeping, almost regular parallels, charge.
It seemed a not inopportune time for Baram to commit his forces.
Tribesmen of Gor


The oasis of Two Scimitars is an out-of-the-way oasis, under the hegemony of the Bakahs, which, for more than two hundred years, following their defeat in the Silk War of 8,110 C.A., has been a vassal tribe of the Kavars. The Silk War was a war for the control of certain caravan routes, for the rights to levy raider tribute on journeying merchants. It was called the Silk War because, at that time, Turian silk first began to be imported in bulk to the Tahari communities, and northward to Tor and Kasra, thence to Ar, and points north and west. Raider tribute, it might be noted, is no longer commonly levied in the Tahari. Rather, with the control of watering points at the oasis, it is unnecessary. To these points must come caravans. At the oases, it is common for the local pashas to exact a protection tax from caravans, if they are of a certain length, normally of more than fifty kaiila. The protection tax helps to defray the cost of maintaining soldiers, who, nominally, at any rate, police the desert. It is not unusual for the genealogy of most of the pashas sovereign in the various eases to contain a heritage of raiders. Most of those in the Tahari who sit upon the rugs of office are those who are the descendants of men who ruled, in ruder days, scimitar in hand, from the high, red leather of the kaiila saddle. The forms change but, in the Tahari, as elsewhere, order, justice and law rest ultimately upon the determination of men, and steel.
It was late at night, in single file, over the sands, silvered in the light of the three moons, that we came to Two Scimitars.
Men rushed forth from the darkness, with weapons, encircling us.
Tribesmen of Gor

"We are attempting to dig out the rock, the sand," said the merchant.
Hassan's face was white.
It is difficult for one who is not of the Tahari to conjecture the gravity of the offense of destroying a source of water. It is regarded as an almost inconceivable crime, surely the most heinous which might be perpetrated upon the desert. Such an act, regarded as a monstrosity, goes beyond a simple act of war. Surely, in but a few days, word that Aretai tribesmen had destroyed, or attempted to destroy, a well at Two Scimitars would spread like fire across the desert, inflaming and outraging men from Tor to the Turian outpost merchant fort, and trading station, of Turmas. This act, perpetrated against the Bakahs at Two Scimitars, a vassal tribe of the Kavars, would doubtless bring full-scale war to the Tahari.
Tribesmen of Gor


"Kavars." he said. "Tribesmen. And men of their vassal tribe, the Ta'Kara." He looked at me closely. "There may soon be war," he said. "Caravans will be few. Merchants will not care to risk their goods. It is their intention that Suleiman not receive these goods. It is their intention to divert them, or most of them, to the Oasis of the Stones of Silver." This was an oasis of the Char, also a vassal tribe of the Kavars. Its name had been given to it centuries before, when thirsty men, who had moved at night on the desert, had come upon it, discovering it. Dew had formed on the large flat stones thereabout and, in the light of the dawn, had made them, from a distance, seem to glint like silver. Dew, incidentally, is quite common in the Tahari, condensing on the stones during the chilly nights. It burns off, of course, almost immediately in the morning. Nomads sometime dig stones before dawn, clean them, set them out, and, later, lick the moisture from them. One cannot pay the water debt, of course, with the spoonful or so of moisture obtainable in this way. It does, however, wet the lips and tongue.
Tribesmen of Gor

Rich and smooth were the variegated, glossy tiles, sumptuous the hangings, slender the pillars and columns, ornate the screens and carvings, brilliant and intricate the stylized floral inlays, the geometrical mosaics. High vessels of gold, some as tall as a girl, gleaming dully in the light of the lamps, were passed on our journey through the halls, into the upper rooms, too, great vases of red and yellow porcelain, many of which were as large as a man, imported from the potteries of Tyros. Beaded curtains did we pass, and many portals, looming and carved.
We did not soil the polished floors, nor bring sand within. At the foot of the great stairs, marble and spiraling, leading to the upper rooms, we, and our guards, those accompanying us, some dozen men, paused. Their desert boots were removed by kneeling slave girls, who then, with lavers and veminium water, and oils, pouring and cleansing, washed their feet. The girls were not of the Tahari, and so dried the men's feet with their hair. To make a Tahari girl, even though slave, do this, is regarded as a great degradation. As discipline, of course, what is routine for a girl not of the Tahari, in miserable Tahari enslavement, may be forced on a slave girl whose origin is itself the Tahari. When the men's feet were cleansed, they were fitted by the girls with soft, heel-less slippers, of the sort commonly worn indoors in permanent residences in the Tahari, with extended, curling toes. The feet of myself, and those of Hassan, too, were washed, and dried. The girl who cared for me had long, hair, almost black. She bent to her work. Once she looked up at me. She might once have been of high family in Ar. She was now only a Tahari slave girl. She looked down, finishing her labors. "In there," said the man who had led our captors. We had now stopped before a great portal, narrower at its bottom, then swelling, curving, gracefully expanding, outward and upward, then narrowing again, gracefully concluding in a point. It might have been in the design of a stylized lance, or flame or leaf. This portal lay at the end of our trek, through several balls, and up more than one flight of stairs.
There were men within, seated about a central figure, on rugs, on a dais. The men were veiled, in the manner of the Char.
Tribesmen of Gor


I stood in the stirrups. I could see the Kavar center, white. On the left flank were the pennons of the Ta`Kara and the purple of the Bakahs. On the right flank were the golden Char and the diverse reds and bright yellows of the Kashani.
Tribesmen of Gor

"The Bakahs, too!" cried the pasha of the Bakahs. "The Ta'Kara!" "The Char!" "The Kashani!" Each of the pashas lifted their lances.
The veiled figure, robed in white, with the lance and pennon, nodded his head, accepting the command of these thousands of fierce warriors.
Tribesmen of Gor


I saw the lance with its mighty pennon of the rider in white, veiled, dip and circle, and then dip and circle again. Riders, from both sides, moved their kaiila slowly toward the figure, their guards hanging behind them. There came to that parley in the center of the field the pashas of the Ta'Kara and Bakahs, and of the Char and Kashani; and, too, riding deliberately, strapped in the saddle, there came Suleiman, high Pasha of the Aretai, with him, Shakar, captain of the Aretai, and their guard, and, with them as well, the pashas of the Luraz, Tashid and Raviri, with their guards. Then, I saw the pasha of the Ti, with his guard, join them. Lastly, riding abreast, swiftly across the field, I saw the pashas of the Zevar and the Arani, and the young khan of the Tajuks, join the group, Behind the pashas of the Zevar and Arani, strung out behind each, in single lines, came their guard. No one rode behind the young khan of the Tajuks. He came alone. He disdained a guard.
Tribesmen of Gor


Their right flank was held by the Luraz and the Tashid. Their left flank was held by the Raviri, and four minor tribes, the Ti, the Zevar, the Arani and the Tajuks. The Tajuks are not actually a vassal tribe of the Aretai, though they ride with them. More than two hundred years ago a wandering Tajuk had been rescued in the desert by Aretai riders, who had treated him well, and had given him water and a kaiila. The man had found his way back to his own tents. Since that time the Tajuks had, whenever they heard the Aretai were gathering, and summoning tribes, come to ride with them. They had never been summoned by the Aretai, who had no right to do this, but they had never failed to come. Usually an Aretai merchant, selling small goods, would visit the tents of the Khan of the Tajuks, the black kaffiyeh and white agal cording guaranteeing him safe passage, and, at the campfire of the Khan, after his trading, while drinking tea, would say, "I have heard that the Aretai gathering for war."
Tribesmen of Gor


The Aretai themselves, of course, with black kaffiyeh and white agal cording, held their center. Their right flank was held by the Luraz and the Tashid. Their left flank was held by the Raviri, and four minor tribes, the Ti, the Zevar, the Arani and the Tajuks. The Tajuks are not actually a vassal tribe of the Aretai, though they ride with them. More than two hundred years ago a wandering Tajuk had been rescued in the desert by Aretai riders, who had treated him well, and had given him water and a kaiila. The man had found his way back to his own tents. Since that time the Tajuks had, whenever they heard the Aretai were gathering, and summoning tribes, come to ride with them. They had never been summoned by the Aretai, who had no right to do this, but they had never failed to come. Usually an Aretai merchant, selling small goods, would visit the tents of the Khan of the Tajuks, the black kaffiyeh and white agal cording guaranteeing him safe passage, and, at the campfire of the Khan, after his trading, while drinking tea, would say, "I have heard that the Aretai gathering for war."
Tribesmen of Gor


"Kavars." he said. "Tribesmen. And men of their vassal tribe, the Ta'Kara." He looked at me closely. "There may soon be war," he said. "Caravans will be few. Merchants will not care to risk their goods. It is their intention that Suleiman not receive these goods. It is their intention to divert them, or most of them, to the Oasis of the Stones of Silver." This was an oasis of the Char, also a vassal tribe of the Kavars. Its name had been given to it centuries before, when thirsty men, who had moved at night on the desert, had come upon it, discovering it.
Tribesmen of Gor


Some of the nomads veil their women, and some do not. Some of the girls decorate their faces with designs, drawn in charcoal. Some of the nomad girls are very lovely. The children of nomads, both male and female, until they are five or six years of age, wear no clothing. During the day they do not venture from the shade of the tents. At night, as the sun goes down, they emerge happily from the tents and romp and play. They are taught written Taharic by their mothers, who draw the characters in the sand, during the day, in the shade of the tents. Most of the nomads in this area were Tashid, Which is a tribe vassal to the Aretai. It might be of interest to note that children of the nomads are suckled for some eighteen months, which is nearly twice the normal length of time for Earth infants, and half again the normal time for Gorean infants. These children, if it is significant, are almost uniformly secure in their families, sturdy, outspoken and self-reliant. Among the nomads, interestingly, an adult will always listen to a child. He is of the tribe. Another habit of nomads, or of nomad mothers, is to frequently bathe small children even if it is only with a cloth and a cup of water. There is a very low infant mortality rate among nomads, in spite of their limited diet and harsh environment. Adults, on the other hand, may go months without washing. After a time one grows used to the layers of dirt and sweat which accumulate, and the smell, offensive at first, is no longer noticed.
Tribesmen of Gor


and four minor tribes, the Ti, the Zevar, the Arani and the Tajuks.
Tribesmen of Gor


and four minor tribes, the Ti, the Zevar, the Arani and the Tajuks.
Tribesmen of Gor


I looked up. With Ibn Saran were four men. One of them held up a tharlarion-oil lamp.
"Do you understand what it is," asked Ibn Saran, "to be sent to Klima--to be a salt slave?"
"I think so," I told him.
"There is the march to Klima." said he, "through the dune country, on foot, chained, on which many die."
I said nothing.
"And should you be so unfortunate," said he, "to reach the vicinity of Klima, your feet must he bound with leather to your knees, for you will sink through the salt crusts to your knees, and, unprotected, your flesh, by the millions of tiny, heated crystals, would be grated and burned from your bones."
I looked away, in the chains.
"In the pits," he said, "you pump water through underground deposits, to wash salt, with the water, to the surface, and repump again the same water. Men die at the pumps, in the heat. Others, the carriers, in the brine, must fill their yoke buckets with the erupted sludge, and carry it from the pits to the drying tables; others must gather the salt and mold it into cylinders." He smiled. "Sometimes men kill one another for the lighter assignments."
I did not look at him.
"But you," said he, "who attempted to assassinate our noble Suleiman Pasha, will not be given light assignments."
I pulled at the chains.
"It is the steel of Ar," he said. "It is excellent, brought in by caravan."
I fought the manacles.
"It will hold you quite well," said he, "--Tarl Cabot."
I looked at him.
"It will amuse me," he said, "to think of Tarl Cabot, laboring in the brine pits. As I rest in my palace, in cool of the rooms, on cushions, relishing custards and berries, sipping beverages, delighted by my slave girls, among them your pretty Vella, I shall think of you, often, Tarl Cabot."
I tore at the chains.
"The famed agent of Priest-Kings, Tarl Cabot," he said, "in the brine pits! Excellent! Superb!" He laughed. "You cannot free yourself," he said, "You cannot win."
I subsided in the chains, helpless.
"The day at Klima," he said, "begins at dawn, and only ends at darkness. Food may be fried on the stones at Klima. The crusts are white. The glare from them can blind men. There are no kaiila at Klima. The desert, waterless, surrounds Klima, for more than a thousand pasangs on all sides. Never has a slave escaped from Klima. Among the less pleasant aspects of Klima is that you will not see females. You will note that, following your sentencing the sight of such flesh has been denied you. But then you can always think of your pretty Vella."
In the manacles, my fists clenched.
Tribesmen of Gor

"You will begin a journey, with others, at dawn," said the man. "It will be a long journey, afoot. It is my hope that you will both arrive safely."
"What are you doing with us?" demanded Hassan.
"I herewith," said Ibn Saran, "sentence you to the brine pits of Klima."
We struggled to our feet, but each of us, by two guards, was held.
"Tafa, Riza," said Ibn Saran, to two of the girls, "strip."
They did so, to collar and brand. "You will be taken below, to the dungeons," said Ibn Saran to us. "There you will be chained by the neck in separate cells. In the cell of each, we will place a naked slave girl, she, too, chained by the neck, her chain within your reach, that you may, if you wish, pull her to you."
"Ibn Saran is generous," I said.
"I give Hassan a woman," said he, "for his audacity. I give you, too, a woman, for your manhood, and for we are two of a kind, mercenaries in higher wars." He turned to one of the girls. "Straighten your body, Tafa," he said. She did so, and stood beautifully, a marvelous female slave. "Chain Riza," said he to one of the guards, selecting the women who would serve us, by his will, "beside Hassan, this bandit, and Tafa by the side of this man, he of the Warriors, whose name is Tarl Cabot."
Metal leashes were snapped on the girls' throats.
"Regard Tafa, Tarl Cabot," said Ibn Saran. I did so. "Let Tafa's body give you much pleasure," he said. "For there are no women at Klima."
We were turned about and taken from the audience hall of the Guard of the Dunes Abdul, the Salt Ubar, he who was Ibn Saran.
Tribesmen of Gor

I took another step, and my right leg, to the knee, broke through the brittle crusts. The lash struck again across my back. I straightened in the slave hood, my head thrown back by the stroke. The chain on my neck jerked forward and I stumbled in the salt crusts. My bands clenched in the manacles, fastened at my belly by the loop of chain. My left leg broke through a dozen layers of crust, breaking it to the side with a hundred, dry, soft shattering sounds, the rupture of innumerable fine crystalline structures. I could feel blood on my left leg, over the leather wrappings, where the edge of a crust, ragged, hot, had sawed it open. I lost my balance and fell. I tried to rise. But the chain before me dragged forward and I fell again. Twice more the lash struck. I recovered my balance. Again I waded through the crusts toward Klima.
For twenty days had we marched. Some thought it a hundred. Many had lost count.
More than two hundred and fifty men had been originally in the salt chain.
I did not know how many now trekked with the march. The chain was now much heavier than it had been, for it, even with several sections removed, was carried by far fewer men. To be a salt slave, it is said, one must be strong. Only the strong, it is said, reach Klima.
In the chain, we wore slave hoods. These had been fastened on us at the foot of the wall of the kasbah of the Salt Ubar. Before mine had been locked under my chin I had seen the silver desert in its dawn. The sky in the east, for Gor, like the Earth rotates to the east, had seemed cool and gray. It was difficult to believe then, in the cool of that morning, as early as late spring that the surface temperatures of the terrain we would traverse would be within hours better than one hundred and fifty degrees Fahrenheit. Our feet, earlier, had been wrapped in leather sheathing, it reaching, in anticipation of the crusts, -later to be encountered, to the knees. The moons, at that time, had been still above the horizon. Rocks on the desert, and the sheer walls of the Salt Ubar's kasbah, looming above us, shone with dew, common in the Tahari in the early morning, to be burned off in the first hour of the sun. Children, and nomads, sometimes rise early, to lick the dew from the rocks. From where we were chained, I had been able to see, some two pasangs to the east, Tarna's kasbah. A useful tool had the Salt Ubar characterized her. She had not been able to hold Hassan and me. The Salt Ubar had speculated that be would enjoy better fortune in this respect. The collar was locked about my throat.
Tribesmen of Gor

The men of the Guard of the Dunes were fastening slave hoods on the prisoners of the chain. There were several men behind me. This slave hood does not come fitted with a gag device. It is not a particularly cruel hood, like many, but utilitarian, and merciful. It serves four major functions. It facilitates the control of the prisoner. A hooded prisoner, even if not bound, is almost totally helpless. He cannot see to escape; he can not see to attack; he cannot be sure, usually, even of the number and position of his captors, whether they face him, or are attentive, or such; sometimes a hooded prisoner, even unbound, is told simply to kneel, and that if he moves, he will be slain; some captors, to their amusement, leave such prisoners, returning Ahn later, to find them in the same place; the prisoner, of course, does not know if they have merely moved a hundred feet away or so, to rest or make camp, all he knows is that if he does move a foot from his place he may feel a scimitar pass suddenly through his body. In the hood, too, of course, the prisoner does not know who might strike or abuse him. He is alone in the hood, with his confusion, his ignorance, his unfocused misery, his anguish, helpless. The second major function of the hood is to conceal from the prisoner his location, where he is and where be is being taken, it produces disorientation, a sense of dependence on the captor. In the case of the march to Klima, of course, the hood serves to conceal the route from the prisoners of the chain. Thus, even if they thought they might live for a time in the desert, in trying to flee, they would have little idea of even the direction to take in their flight, The chance of their finding their way back to the kasbah of the Salt Ubar, and thence, say, to Red Rock, would be small, even if they were not hooded; hooded, on the Klima march, of course, the chance, unhooded, of finding their way back at a later time would be negligible. This disorientation tends to keep men at Klima: fewer of them, thus, die in the desert. The second two functions of the slave hood, relative to the march to Klima, were specific to the march. Mercifully, the hood tended to protect the head from the sun; one does not go bareheaded in the desert: secondly, the darkness of the hood, when the salt crusts were reached, prevented    blindness, from the reflection of the Tahari sun off the layered, bleak, white surfaces. These hoods, used on the march to Klima, have a tiny flap, closed and tied with a leather string, at the mouth, through which, several times during the day, opened, the spike of a water bag, carried by kaiila, is thrust. The men are fed twice, once in the morning, once at night, when the hood is opened, and thrust up some inches to permit eating. Food is thrust in their mouths. It was generally dried fruit, crackers and a bit of salt, to compensate for the salt loss during the day's march, consequent on perspiration. Proteins, meat, kaiila milk, vulo eggs, verr cheese, require much water for their digestion. When water is in short supply, the nomads do not eat at all. It takes weeks to starve, but only, in the Tahari, two days to die of thirst. In such circumstances, one does not wish the processes of digestion to drain much needed water from the body tissues. The bargain would be an ill one to strike.

Tribesmen of Gor

He lifted the scimitar before me, in salute. "March then," said he, "to Klima." He resheathed the blade, swiftly. He turned his kaiila. He rode down the line, the burnoose swelling behind him.
Hamid, who was lieutenant to Shaker, captain of the Aretai, now in the red sand veil of the men of the Guard of the Dunes, stood near.
"I ride with the chain," he said.
"I shall enjoy your company," I said.
"You will feel my whip, " he' said.
I saw the kneeling kaiila of the guards, the guards now mounted, lifting themselves, to their feet. I surveyed the number of kaiila which bore water. "Klima is close," I said.
"It is far," he said.
"There is not enough water," I said,
"There is more than enough," said he. "Many will not reach Klima."
"Am I to reach Klima?" I asked.
"Yes," said Hamid, "should you be strong enough."
"What if difficulties should arise, unanticipated, on the journey," I asked.
"Then," said Hamid, "unfortunately, I shall be forced to slay you in the chain."
Tribesmen of Gor

We trudged, climbing, chained, and hooded, half dragged, tortuously, up the long slope. Time seemed measured insteps, the blows of the whip, the slow turning of the sun, over the Ahn, from one shoulder through the heat to the other.
For twenty days had we marched. Some thought it a hundred. Many had lost count. More than one man raved, insane in the chain. We had begun with some two hundred and fifty men. The chain was heavier now. Lengths had been removed from it. But still was it heavier. We did not know how many now carried the chain, or the remaining lengths.
Normally one does not move on the desert in the day, but the march to Klima is made in the sun, that only the strong will survive. We were given little to eat, but much water. In the desert, without water, even the strong die swiftly.
"Kill us! Kill us!" one man kept screaming.
At the crest of the slope we heard a man call "Hold!" The chain stopped.
I sank to my knees, the crusts about my thighs. The inside of the slave hood seemed bright and granular. Even within it I closed my eyes. I held my hands, my neck, as still as possible, for the least movement would shift the collar, the manacles, the chain at my waist, and stir burning iron in the raw, abraded flesh. I did not wish to lose consciousness. Too many I feared who had lost it had not regained it. The guards of the chain did not see fit to dally overlong with the inert.
The salt clung to my body.
The sun was the sun of the late spring in the Tahari. The surface temperature of The crusts would be in the neighborhood of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. The air temperature would range from 120 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The marches to Klima are not made in the Tahari summer, only in the winter, the spring and fall, that some will survive them.
I lifted my head to the sun, and shut my eves against the redness, the heat and refulgence that seemed to fill the hood. I put down my head. Even in the hood I sensed the reflected heat radiating from the crusts.
It pleases Kurii, I thought, that Tart Cabot will serve at Klima. How amusing they would find that. There was a bit of silk, now doubtless bleached by the sun, thrust and wrapped in my collar. Doubtless another, too, would be pleased that I served at Klima.
A kaiila moved swiftly past me, its paws scattering salt. I felt it in the marks on my back, and in the chain sores.
"Kill us! Kill us!" the man screamed again, from somewhere in the chain behind me, several collars away.
Another kaiila moved past me, moving toward the front of the chain. My fists clenched.
I wondered if I could endure another day. I knew that I could. I had much to live for. There was a bit of silk, wrapped, fastened in the collar I wore.
"Kill us! Kill us!" screamed the man.
"There are too many," I heard one of the guards say.
"Alternate collars," said a voice.
"No!" a voice screamed. "No!"
The guards knew the water. We did not.
It seemed a long time we knelt in the crusts. After some Ehn I heard men afoot near me. They were moving down the chain. I tensed in the hood. Suddenly the chain before me, jerked. I heard no sound. Then the chain pulled down. I struggled to my feet, pulling against the chain with my neck, wild, not able to see. "Kneel," said a voice. I knelt. I tensed. I could not see in the hood. I knelt, a chained captive in the crusts. I could not lift my hands before my body. I was helpless, absolutely. "No," I heard a voice cry, "No!" The chain at my throat, from behind, shook, and sprang taut. I heard feet, scraping in the crusts, slipping. There was a cry, and I felt, through the chain, a drag, and shudder. Then the men continued on their way.
"I misjudged the water," I heard Hamid say.
"It does not matter," said someone.
We knelt in the crusts. Somewhere, a few feet from me, I heard a man singing to himself.
Another man came down the chain. I heard him open the collars on either side of me.
I heard, a short time later, wings, the alighting of one or more large birds. Such birds, broad-winged, black and white, from afar, follow the marches to Klima; their beaks, yellowish, narrow, are long and slightly hooked at the end, useful for probing and tearing.
The birds scattered, squawking, as a Kaiila sped past. The birds are called zads.
"On your feet, Slaves!" I heard. The lash struck me twice. I did not object to it. I could feel it. The blood coursed through my body. The Pain was sharp, rich, and deep, and keen. I did not object to the pain, for I could feel it. Elation coursed through me, fierce, uncontrollable, for I was alive. The lash struck again. I laughed, struggling to my feet. I stood straight. "March, Slaves!" I heard, and I began again the march, moving first with the left foot,
then the right, that the march be uniform, that the chain be carried evenly. It was heavier than before, but I carried it lightly, for I was alive. No longer did I object to the salt in my flesh, the heat. It was enough that I lived. How foolish it seemed then, suddenly, that one should want more. How should one want more, save perhaps health and honor, and a woman, slave at one's feet? I marched onward again, brushing through feeding zads, once more toward Klima. I hummed to myself a simple tune, a tune I had never forgotten, a warrior tune from the northern city of Ko-ro-ba.
Tribesmen of Gor

Four days later, on a crest, the voice again called "Hold!" and the chain held.
"Do not kill us! Do not kill us!" screamed a voice. I recognized it. It was the voice of the man who, through much of the march, had cried for us to be killed. He had been silent since the noon halt of four days ago. I had not known whether he had survived or not.
Kaiila moved past us.
I heard collars being opened. For the hood I could not see. The silk, which was tied in my collar, was removed. It was tied, by order of Hamid, who rode near, about my left wrist, under the manacle. I felt the silk in the circular wrist sore. A heavy key was then thrust in the lock of my collar. The lock contained sand and salt. In the heat the metal was expanded. The lock resisted. Then the key, forced, with a heavy snap, turned, freeing the lock bolt. The collar was opened. The collar was jerked from my throat, and dropped, with the chain, in the crusts. The man then moved to the next prisoner.
No man fled from the chain.
"We may not take kaiila in," said a man.
We stood for some minutes. I felt the blood and salt in the split shreds of the leather wrappings on my legs. I took care not to move the manacles and chain.
I felt a key inserted in the lock of the slave hood. To my surprise it was thrust up, and jerked from my head. I cried out in sudden pain, the unbelievable white light, hot, fierce, universal, merciless, shuddering in the scalding air of the encircling, blazing crusts, from horizon to horizon, exploding, stabbing, searing like irons at my face and eyes. "I'm blind," cried a man. "I'm blind!"
Kaiila moved along the line. It would be long minutes before we could see.
We heard chains being looped and gathered. More kaiila passed me.
My limbs felt weak, and ached. I was dizzy. I could scarcely move. I could scarcely stand.
"Take salt," said a voice. It was Hassan!
"You live!" I cried.
"Take salt," he said.
He fell to his knees, and thrust his face into the salt. He bit at the crusts. He licked crystals from them.
I followed his example. We had not had salt in four days.
"Look," cried one of the guards. We lifted our heads. We struggled to our feet. We gritted our eyelids, to shut out the heat, the blinding light.
"Water!" cried a voice. "Water!"
It was a man, come from the desert about. He had not been in the chain. He wore no manacles.
"Water!" he cried. He staggered toward us. He wore a bit of cloth. His body moved awkwardly. His fingernails were gone. His mouth and face seemed split, like dried crust.
"It is an escaped slave from the desert," said Hamid. He unsheathed his scimitar, and loped toward the man. He bent down easily from the saddle, the blade loose, but he did not strike, but returned to the other guards, The man stood in the crusts, looking after the rider, stupidly. "Water.." he said. "Please, water."
"Shall we have sport?" asked Hamid of two of his fellows.
"The trek has been long," grinned one, "and there has been little diversion."
"The head?" asked one. "The left car?"
"Agreed," said the other. They loosened their lances.
"Water," said the man. "Water."
The first man, kicking the kaiila forward, missed his thrust. The gait of the kaii1a in the crusts was not even. The mark, too, was not an easy one. To strike it would require considerable skill.
The haggard man stood in the crusts, stupidly.
"The right ear," said the next man, grasping the long, slim lance, eight feet Gorean in length, marked with red and yellow swirling stripes, terminating in an extremely narrow point, razored, steel, some eleven inches in length, and lanceolate, as the leaf of the flahdah tree.
All the time he had not taken his eyes from the target.
"Water!" cried the man. Then he screamed as the lance struck him, turning him about.
The second rider had been skillful. The blade had penetrated below the helix and opened the ear, lifting and parting, in its upward movement, the helix.
The man staggered back in the crusts, he lifted his hand. The first rider cursed. He had charged again. This time, the man, stumbling, trying to turn away, had been struck on the left arm, high, just below the shoulder. I was startled that there was so little blood, for the wound was deep. It was as though the man had no blood to bleed. There was a, ridge of reddish fluid at the cut. I watched through narrowed eyelids, grimacing against the light. To my horror I saw the man press his mouth to the wound, sucking at the bit of blood. He did not move, but stood in the crusts, sucking at the blood.
Hamid, easily, on the kaiila, his scimitar still light in his hand, rode behind the man. I did not watch, but turned away.
"The point is to Baram," said Hamid. Clearly the second rider had been the finest.
"We may not take the kaiila in," said one of the guards.
"We have water sufficient for the return trip," said another, "moving at an unimpeded pace."
To my amazement I saw one of the guards unlocking the stomach-chain and manacles of one of the prisoners. Already the man's slave hood had been removed. And we had, already, been freed of the neck chain.
I looked about, through half-shut eyes. I stood unsteadily. I counted. There were twenty prisoners standing in the crusts. I shuddered.
Hamid rode to my side. He had wiped his blade in the mane of his kaiila. He resheathed the blade. I felt the heat. We stood on a crest, overlooking a broad, shallow valley.
Hamid leaned down. "There," he said, pointing into the broad valley. "Can you see?"
"Yes," I said.
In the distance, below, perhaps five pasangs away, in the hot, concave, white salt bleakness, like a vast, white, shallow bowl, pasangs wide, there were compounds, low, white buildings of mud brick, plastered. There were many of them. They were hard to see in the distance, in the light, but I could make them out.
"Klima," said Hamid.
"I have made the march to Klima," said one of the prisoners. He cried out, elatedly, "I have made the march to Klima!" It was the man who had, for many of the days, cried out for us to be slain. It was he who had, since the noon halt of four days ago, been silent.
I looked at the prisoners. We looked at one another. Our bodies were burned black by the sun. The flesh, in many places, had cracked. Lighter colored flesh could be seen beneath. There was salt on us, to our thighs. The leather wrappings about our legs were in tatters. Our necks and bodies were abraded, raw from collar and chain. In the last days we had been denied salt. Our bodies were cruel with cramps and weakness. But we stood, all of us, and straight, for we had come to Klima.
Twenty had come to Klima.
The first prisoner, whose bonds had been removed, was thrust in the direction of the compounds. He began to stagger down the slope toward the valley, slipping in the crusts, sometimes sinking in to his knees.
One by one the prisoners were freed. None attempted to flee into the desert. Each, as he was freed, began to trudge toward Klima. There was nowhere else to go.
The man, who had cried out, "I have made the match to Klima!" was freed. He staggered toward the compounds, running, half falling, down the long slope.
Hassan and I were freed. Together we trudged toward Klima, following the straggling line of men before us.
We came upon a figure, fallen in the salt. It was be who had run ahead, who had cried out, disbelievingly, joyously, "I have made the march to Klima!"
We turned the body over in the salt. "He is dead," said Hassan.
Together, Hassan and I rose to our feet.
Nineteen had come to Klima.
I looked back once, to see Hamid, he who was in the fee of the Guard of the Dunes, the Salt Ubar, who was supposedly the faithful lieutenant to Shakar, captain of the Aretai. He turned his kaiila, and, with a scattering of salt, following the others, disappeared over the crest.
I looked up toward the merciless sun. Its relentless presence seemed to fill the sky.
I looked down.
About my left wrist, knotted, bleached in the sun, was a bit of slave silk. On it, still, lingered the perfume of a slave girl, one who, purchased, had been useful to Kurii, who had testified falsely against me at Nine Wells, who had, contemptuously, insolently, cast me a token of her consideration, a bit of silk and scent, to remember her by, when I served at Klima. I would not soon forget pretty Vella. I would remember her well.
I looked up at the sun again, and then, bitter, looked away. I put the wench from my head. She was only a slave girl, only collar meat.
The important work was that of Priest-Kings. Hassan and I had not found the steel tower. We had failed.
I was bitter.
Then I followed Hassan, who had trudged on ahead, wading in the salt, following him toward Klima.
Tribesmen of Gor

At Klima, and other such areas, salt is an industry. Thousands serve there, held captive by the desert. Klima has its own water, but it is dependent on caravans for its foods. These food stores are delivered to scouted areas some pasangs from the compounds, whence they are retrieved later by salt slaves. Similarly, the heavy cylinders of salt, mined and molded at Klima, are carried on the backs of salt slaves from storage areas at Klima to storage areas in the desert, whence they are tallied, sold and distributed to caravans. The cylinders are standardized at ten stone, or a Gorean "Weight," which is some forty pounds. A normal kaiila carries ten such cylinders, five to a side. A stronger animal carries sixteen, eight to a side. The load is balanced, always. It is difficult for an animal, or man, of course, to carry an unbalanced load. Most salt at Klima is white, but certain of the mines deliver red salt, red from ferrous oxide in its composition, which is called the Red Salt of Kasra, after its port of embarkation, at the juncture of the Upper and Lower Fayeen.
In Gor's geologic past it seems that the salt districts, like scattered puddles of crystalline residue, are what remains of what was once an inland salt sea or several such. It may be that, in remote times, an arm of Thassa extended here, or did extend here and then, later, in seismic dislocations or continental rift became isolated from the parent body of water, leaving behind one or more smaller salt seas. Or it may be that the seas were independent, being fed by rivers, washing down accumulated salt from rocks over millions of square passangs. It is not known. In the salt districts salt is found either in solid form or in solution. Klima, among the salt districts, is most famous for its brine pits. Salt can be found in solid form either above or below ground.    With the subsidence of, the sea and the shifting of strata, certain cubic pasangs of salt, in certain areas, became pressed into granite-like formations, through which one may actually tunnel. Some of these deposits are far below the surface of the Tahari. Men live in some of them, for weeks at a time. In other areas, certain of these solid deposits are exposed and are worked rather in the manner of open mining or quarries. In places these salt mountains are more than six hundred feet high. At Klima, however, most of the salt is in solution. It is the subterranean residue of portions of the vanished seas themselves, which have slipped through fissures and, protected from the heat, and fed still by the ancient seeping rivers, now moving sluggishly beneath the surface, maintain themselves, the hidden remnants of oceans, once mighty, which long ago swelled upon the surface of Gor itself. The salt in solution is obtained in two ways, by drilling and flush mining and, in the deeper pits, by sending men below to fetch the brine. In the drilling and flush mining, two systems are used, the doublepipe system and the separate-pipe system. In the double-pipe system fresh water is forced into the cavity through an outer pipe and the heavier solution of salt and water rises bubbling through the second pipe, or inner pipe, inserted within the larger. In the separate-pipe system, two pipes, separated by several yards, are used, fresh water being forced through one, the salt water solution, the salt being dissolved in the fresh water, rising through the other. The separate-pipe system is, by most salt masters, regarded as the most efficient. An advantage of the double-pipe system is that only a single tap well need be drilled. Both systems require pumping, of course. But much of the salt at Klima comes from its famous brine pits' These pits are of two kinds, "open" and "closed." Men, in the closed pits, actually descend and, wading, or on rafts, negotiate the sludge itself, filling their vessels and later, eventually, pouring their contents into the lift sacks, on hooks, worked by windlasses from the surface. The "harvesting" vessel, not the retaining vessel, used is rather like a perforated cone with a handle, to which is attached a rope. It is dragged through the sludge and lifted, the free water running from the vessel, leaving within the sludge of salt, thence to be poured into the retaining vessels, huge, wooden tubs. The retaining vessels are then emptied later into the lift sacks, a ring on which fits over the rope hooks. In places, the "open pits," the brine pits are exposed on the surface, where they are fed by springs from the underground rivers, which prevents their dessication by evaporation, which would otherwise occur almost immediately in the Tahari temperatures. Men do not last long in the open pits. The same underground seepage which, in places, fills the brine pits, in other places, passing through salt-free strata, provides Klima with its fresh water. It has a salty taste like much of the water of the Tahari but it is completely drinkable, not having been filtered through the salt accumulations. It contains only the salt normal in Tahari drinking water. The salt in the normal Tahari fresh water, incidentally, is not without its value, for, when drunk,
it helps to some extent, though it is not in itself sufficient, to prevent salt loss in animals and men through sweating. Salt, of course, like water, is essential to life. Sweating is dangerous in the Tahari. This has something to do with the normally graceful, almost languid movements of the nomads and animals of the area. The heavy garments of the Tahari, too, have as two of their main objectives the prevention of water loss, and the retention of moisture on the skin, slowing water loss by evaporation. One can permit profuse perspiration only where one has ample water and salt.
Besides the mines and pits of the salt districts, there are warehouses and offices, in which complicated records are kept, and from which shipments to the isolated, desert storage areas are arranged. There are also processing areas where the salt is freed of water and refined to various degrees of quality, through a complicated system of racks and pans, generally exposed to the sun. Slaves work at these, raking, stirring, and sifting. There are also the molding sheds where the salt is pressed into the large cylinders, such that they may be roped together and eventually he laden on pack kaiila. The salt is divided into nine qualities. Each cylinder is marked with its quality, the name of its district, and the sign of that district's salt master.
Needless to say, Klima contains as well, incidental to the salt industry entered there, the ancillary supports of these mining and manufacturing endeavors, such as its kitchens and commissaries, its kennels and eating sheds, its discipline pits, its assembly areas, its smithies and shops, its quarters for guards and scribes, an infirmary for them, and so many respects Klima resembles a community, save that it differs in at least two significant respects. It contains neither children, nor women.
When we had approached Klima Hassan had said to me. "Leave the bit of silk about your wrist in the crusts, hiding it."
"Why?" I had asked.
"It is slave silk," he said, "and it bears, still, the scent of a woman."
"Why should I leave it?" I asked.
"Because, at Klima," he said, " men will kill you for it."
I hid the bit of silk in the crusts, at the edge of one of the low, white plastered buildings.
The man who spoke was T'Zshal, Master of Kennel 804. "You are free to leave Klima whenever you wish," he said. "None is here held against his will."
He stood before us.
We sat on the floor of the shed, naked, together. We were tied together by the neck, by a light rope. It would have sufficed, truly, to hold only girls. Yet none of us parted it; none tore it from him.
"I do not jest," said the man.
We had been four days now at Klima. We had been well watered and adequately fed. We had been kept in the shade. The rope had been placed on us when we had straggled in from the desert, to keep us together. We were told not to remove it; we did not remove it. Four men, however, had been cut from it. They had died of exposure, from the march to Klima. Thus, in the end, all told, only fifteen had survived the march.
"No," laughed T'Zshal. "I jest not!"
He wore desert boots, canvas trousers, baggy, a red sash; in the sash was thrust a dagger, curved. He was bare-chested, and hairy; he wore kaffiyeh and agal, though of rep-cloth, the cording, too, of rep-cloth, twisted into narrow cord. He was bearded. He carried a whip, the "snake," coiled, symbol of his authority over us. Behind him, armed with scimitars, stood two guards, they, too, bare-chested, in flat rep-cloth turbans. Light entered the kennel from an aperture in the ceiling.
He approached us. Several shrank back. He drew the curved dagger and slashed the light rope from our throats.
"You are free to go," he said.
He strode to the door of the kennel and thrust it open. Outside we could see the sun on the crusts, the desert beyond.
"Go," he laughed. "Go!"
Not one of the men moved.
"Ah," said he, "you choose to remain. That is your choice. Very well, I accept it. But if you remain you must do so on my terms." He suddenly snapped the whip. The crack was loud, sharp. "Is that understood?" he asked.
"Yes!" said more than one man, swiftly.
"Kneel!" barked T'Zshal.
We knelt.
"But will you be permitted to remain?" he asked.
Several of the men cast apprehensive glances at one another.
"Perhaps, yes. Perhaps, no," said T'Zshal. "That decision, you see, is mine." He coiled the whip. "It is not easy to earn one's keep at Klima. At Klima the cost of lodging is high. You must earn your right to stay at Klima. You must work hard. You must please me much." He looked from face to face.
He did not ask if we understood. We did.
"We may, however," asked Hassan, "leave Klima when we wish?"
T'Zshal regarded him. Clearly he was wondering if Hassan were insane. I smiled. T'Zshal was puzzled. "Yes," he said.
"Very well," said Hassan, noting the point.
"There is little leather at Klima," said T'Zshal. "There are few water bags. Those that exist are of one talu. They are guarded."
Water at Klima is generally carried in narrow buckets, on wooden yokes, with dippers attached, for the slaves. A talu is approximately two gallons. A talu bag is a small bag. It is the sort carried by a nomad herding verr afoot in the vicinity of his camp. Bags that small are seldom carried in caravan, except at the saddles of scouts.
"Is it your intention," inquired T'Zshal of Hassan, "to purloin several bags, fill them, battling guards, and walk your way out of Klima?"
Even, of course, if one could obtain several such bags, and fill them with water, it did not seem likely that one could carry enough water to find one's way afoot out of the desert.
Hassan shrugged. "It is a thought," be said.
"You must think you are strong," said T'Zshal.
"I have made the march to Klima," said Hassan.
"We have all made the march to Klima," said T'Zshal.
We were startled, that he had said this.
"There is none at Klima," said T'Zshal, "who has not made that march." He looked at us. "All here," said he, "my pretties, are slaves of the salt, slaves of the desert. We dig salt for the free; we are fed."
"Even the salt master?" asked Hassan.
"He, too, long ago, once came naked to Klima said T'Zshal. "We order ourselves by the arrangements of skill and steel. We, slaves, have formed this nation, and administer it, as we see fit. The salt delivered, the outsiders do not disturb us. In our internal affairs we are autonomous."
"And we?" said Hassan.
"You," grinned T'Zshal, "are the true slaves, for you are the slaves of slaves." He laughed.
"Did you come hooded to Klima?" asked Hassan.
"Yes, as have all, even the salt master himself," said T'Zshal.
This was disappointing information. Hassan had doubtless had in mind the forcing of a guard, or kennel master, perhaps T'Zshal himself, to guide him from Klima, could he obtain water. As it now turned out, and we had no reason to doubt the kennel master, none at Klima could serve in this capacity.
We knew, generally, Red Rock, the kasbah of the Salt Ubar and such, lay northwest of Klima, but, unless one knows the exact direction, the trails, this information is largely useless. Even in a march of a day one could pass, unknowingly, an oasis in the desert, wandering past it, missing it by as little as two or three pasangs.
Knowledge of the trails is vital.
None at Klima knew the trails. The free, their masters, had seen to this.
Moreover, to protect the secrecy of the salt districts, the trails to them were not openly or publicly marked. This was a precaution to maintain the salt monopolies of the Tahari, as though the desert itself would not have been sufficient in this respect.
T'Zshal smiled, seeming human for the moment, and not kennel master. "None, my pretties," said he, "knows the way from Klima. There is thus, in the desert, no way from Klima."
"There is a way," said Hassan. "It need only be found."
"Good fortune," said T'Zshal. With his whip he indicated the opened door of the kennel. "Go," be said.
"I choose to stay, for the time," said Hassan.
"My kennel is honored," said T'Zshal, inclining his head. Hassan, too, bowed his head, in Taharic courtesy acknowledging the compliment.
 T'Zshal smiled. "Know this, though," he said, "that should you leave us our feelings would be injured. that our hospitality be rejected. Few return to Klima. Of those that do, few survive the pits of discipline, and of those who do, it is to dig in the open pits." He lifted the whip, noting its graceful curve. It was the snake, many fanged, tiny bits of metal braided within the leather. "Klima," said T'Zshal, slowly, "may seem to you a fierce and terrible place. Perhaps it is. I do not know. I have forgotten any other place. Yet it is not too different, I think, from the world on the other side of the horizon. At Klima, you will find, as in all the world, there are those who bold the whip, and those who dig, and die." He looked at us. "Here," he said, "in this kennel, it is I who hold the whip."
"How," I asked, "does one become kennel master?"
"Kill me," said T'Zshal.
Tribesmen of Gor

I held the line coiled, in my left hand, it tied to the handle on the metal, perforated cone, swinging in my right.
It was cool in the pit, on the large raft. At each corner of the raft, mounted on a pole, was a small, oil-fed lamp. It was dark in the pit, save for our lamps, and those of other rafts. I could see two other rafts, illuminated in the darkness, one some two hundred yards away, the other more than a pasang distant over the water. In places we could see the ceiling of the pit, only a few feet above our head, in others it was lost in the darkness, perhaps a hundred or more feet above us. I estimated our distance beneath the surface to be some four hundred feet. The raft, in the dark, sluggish waters, stirred beneath our feet.
I flung the cone out from the raft, into the darkness, allowing the line to uncoil from my left hand, following the vanishing, sinking cone.
I shared the raft with eight others, three, who handled cones as I, the "harvesters," four polemen and the steersman. Harvesters and polemen, periodically, exchange positions. The raft is guided by a sweep at its stern, in the keeping of the steersman. It is propelled by the polemen. The poles used are weighted at the bottom, and are some twenty feet in length. One of the poles, released in deep water, will stand upright in the water, about a yard of it above the surface. The weight makes it easier to keep the pole, which is long, submerged. It may thus be used with less fatigue. The floor of the brine pit, in most places, is ten to fifteen feet below the surface of the water. There are areas in the pits, however, where the depth exceeds that of the poles. In such areas, paddles, of which each raft is equipped with four, near the retaining vessels, are used. It is slow, laborious work, however, moving the heavy raft with these levers. The raft is some twelve feet in width and some twenty-four or twenty-five feet in length. Each raft contains a low frame, within which are placed the retaining vessels, large, wooden salt, tubs, each approximately a yard in height and four feet in diameter. Each raft carries four of these, either arranged in a lateral frame, or arranged in a square frame, at the raft's center. Ours were arranged laterally. The lateral arrangement is more convenient in unloading; the square arrangement provides a more convenient distribution of deck space, supplying superior crew areas at stem and stern. From the point of view of "harvesting," the arrangements are equivalent, save that the harvesters, naturally, to facilitate their work, position themselves differently in the two arrangements. If one is right-handed, one works with the retaining vessel to the left, so that one can turn and, with the right hand, tip the harvesting vessel, steadying it with the left band.
I allowed time for the cone to sink to the bottom.
The retaining vessels are, at the salt docks, lifted from the rafts by means of pulleys and counterweights. The crew of a given raft performs this work. When the retaining vessels are suspended, they are tipped, and the sludge scooped and shoveled from them into the wide-mouthed, ring-bearing lift sacks. These, drawn and pushed on carts, fitted onto wooden, iron-sheathed rails, are transported to the hooked lift ropes. These ropes run in systems to the surface and return. Men at windlasses on the surface lift the sacks, which, when emptied, return on the slack loop. The weighted loop cannot slip back because each hook, in turn, preceding the sack being emptied, engages one of several pintles in the machinery, which is so geared that it can turn in only one direction. There are twelve of those pintles, mounted in a large circle; when a given hook drops off one, freed by gravity, another hook is already engaged on another, held there by the weight of the ascending lift sacks. Empty sacks are placed on slack hooks, below the machinery, to be returned to the pit.
The steersman, when not attending to his sweep, carried a lance. We were not alone in the pits.
Hand over hand, I drew the cone through the sludge toward the raft.
I had been amazed to learn that the brine pits, in effect a network of small subterranean marine seas, were not devoid of life. I had expected them to be sterile bodies of water, from the absence of sunlight, precluding basic photosynthesis and the beginning of a food chain, and the high salt content of the fluid. A human body, for example, will not sink in the water. This is one of the reasons, too, it is particularly desirable, in this environment, to weight the raft poles, to help counter the unusual buoyancy of the saline fluid. In my original conjecture, however, as to the sterility of these small seas, I was mistaken.
"Look there," called a harvester.
I saw it, too. The other men came to my side of the raft, and we noted it, moving in the water. The steersman dropped the point of the lance toward the water, watching, too.
I slowly drew up the metal, perforated cone. Water drained from it, in tiny irregular streams, spattering back into the sea, and onto the boards of the raft. Then I lifted the cone and deposited the sludge in the retaining vessel, the large wooden tub behind me and to my left. I did not again coil and cast the line. I, too, watched the water.
The light of our lamps flickered on the surface, yellowly, in broken, shifting refractions.
"There!" said one of the men.
Lefts are often attracted to the salt rafts, largely by the vibrations in the water, picked up by their abnormally developed lateral-line protrusions, and their fernlike craneal vibration receptors, from the cones and poles. Too, though they are blind, I think either the light, or the heat, perhaps, from our lamps, draws them. The tiny, eyeless heads will thrust from the water, and the fernlike filaments at the side of the head will open and lift, orienting themselves to one or the other of the lamps. The lelt is commonly five to seven inches in length. It is white, and long-finned. It swims slowly and smoothly, its fins moving the water very little, which apparently contributes to its own concealment in a blind environment and makes it easier to detect the vibrations of its prey, any of several varieties of tiny segmented creatures, predominantly isopods. The brain of the left is interesting, containing an unusually developed odor-perception center and two vibration-reception centers. Its organ of balance, or hidden "ear," is also unusually large, and is connected with an unusually large balance center in its brain. Its visual center, on the other hand, is stunted and undeveloped, a remnant, a vague genetic memory of an organ long discarded in its evolution. Among the lefts, too, were, here and there, tiny salamanders, they, too, white and blind. Like the lefts, They were, for their size, long-bodied, were capable of long periods of dormancy and possessed a slow metabolism, useful in an environment in which food is not plentiful. Unlike the lefts they had long, stemlike legs. At first I had taken them for lelts, skittering about the rafts, even to the fernlike filaments at the sides of their head, but these filaments, in the case of the salamanders, interestingly, are not vibration receptors but feather gills, an external gill system. This system, common in the developing animal generally, is retained even by the adult salamanders, who are, in this environment, permanently gilled. The gills of the lelt are located at the lower sides of its jaw, not on the sides of its head, as is common in open-water fish. The feather gills of the salamanders, it seems, allow them to hunt the same areas as the lelts for the same prey, the vibration effects of these organs being similar, without frightening them away, thus disturbing the water and alerting possible prey. They often hunt the same areas. Although this form of salamander possesses a lateral-line set of vibration receptors, like the left, it lacks the craneal receptors and its lateral-line receptors do not have the sensitivity of the lelt's. Following the left, not disturbing it, often helps the salamander find prey. On the other hand, the salamander, by means of its legs and feet, can dislodge prey inaccessible to the lelt. The length of the stemlike legs of the salamander, incidentally, help it in stalking in the water. It takes little prey while swimming freely. The long lees cause little water vibration. Further, they enable the animal to move efficiently, covering large areas without considerable metabolic cost. In a blind environment, where food is scarce, energy conservation is essential. The long, narrow legs also lift the salamander's head and body from the floor, enabling it, with its sensors, to scan a greater area for prey. The upright' posture in men delivers a similar advantage, visually, in increasing scanning range, this being useful not only in the location of prey, but also, of course, in the recognition of dangers while remote, hopefully while yet avoidable. But it was not the lelts nor the salamanders, which explained our interest in the waters.
"There!" cried the man. "There it is again!" But then it was gone. I had not seen it.
In the pits there is no light, save that which men bring there. Without light, there cannot be photosynthesis. Without photosynthesis there cannot be the reduction of carbon dioxide, the formation of sugar, the beginning of the food chain. Ultimately, then, food is brought into the pits, generally in the form of organic debris, from hundreds of sources, many Of them hundreds of miles distant; this debris is carried by the fresh-water feeds, through minute faults and fissures, and even porous rock, until it reaches the remains of the ancient seas, now sunken far beneath the surface. On and in this debris, breaking it down, are several varieties of bacteria. These bacteria are devoured by protozoons and rotifers. These, in turn, become food for various flatworms and numerous tiny-segmented creatures, such as isopods, which, in turn, serve as food for small, blind, white crayfish, felts and salamanders.
 These latter, however, do not stand at the top of the food chain.    Sometimes one picks up the lelts and salamanders in the cones. It was not these that had excited the interest of the men.
"Is it the Old One?" asked one of the men.
"I cannot tell," said another. The steersman stood ready with the lance.
"There!" cried one of the men, pointing.
I saw it then, moving in, slowly, then turning about. The lelts and salamanders vanished, disappearing beneath the water. The thing disappeared. The waters were calm.
"It's gone," said one of the men.
"Was it the Old One?" asked one of the men.
"I do not know," said the steersman, with the lance. The Old One had not been seen in the pit for more than a year.
"It is gone now," said another of the men.
"Look!" I cried. This time it was close, surfacing not ten feet from the raft. We saw the broad, blunt head, eyeless, white. Then it submerged, with a twist of the long spine and tail.
 The steersman was white. "It is the Old One," he said. On the whitish back, near the high dorsal fin, there was a long scar. Part of the dorsal fin itself was rent, and scarred. These were lance marks.
"He has come back," said one of the men.
The waters were still.
At the top of the food chain in the pits, a descendant, dark-adapted, of the terrors of the ancient seas, stood the long-bodied, nine-gilled salt shark.
The waters were calm.
"Let us gather salt," said a man.
"Wait," said the steersman. "Watch."
For more than a quarter of an Ahn we did nothing.
"It is gone," said a man.
"We must make our quotas," said one of the harvesters.
"Gather salt," said the steersman.
Again we took our ropes and cones, and bent to the labor of dredging for salt.
"The lelts have not returned,'' said the steersman to me.
"What does this mean?" I asked.
"That the Old One is still with us," he said, looking at the dark waters. Then he said, "Gather salt." Again I flung out the rope and cone.
It was growing late.
The oil in the lamps, on the poles at the comers of the raft, grew low.
On the surface it would be dusk.
I wondered how one might escape from Klima. Even if one could secure water, it did not seem one could, afoot, carry water sufficient to walk one's way free of the salt districts. And, even if one could traverse the many pasangs of desert afoot, there would not be much likelihood, in the wilderness, of making one's way to Red Rock, or another oasis. Those at Klima, by intent of the free, their masters, knew not the trails whereby their liberty might be achieved. I remembered, too, the poor slave who had encountered the chain on its march to Klima. He had been the subject of sport, then slain. None, it was said, had come back from Klima.
I thought of Priest-Kings, and Others, the Kurii, and their wars. They seemed remote.
It came very suddenly, from beneath the water, not more than five feet from me, erupting upward. I saw the man screaming in the jaws. The head was more than a yard in width, white pits where there might have been eyes. The raft tipped, struck by its back, as it turned and, twisting, glided away into the darkness.
"Poles!" screamed the steersman. "Poles!" The poleman seized the poles, lowering them into the water.
One of the lamps sputtered out.
Tribesmen of Gor

I think there was no man on the raft that evening who bad not lost at least one comrade, recently or long ago, to the Old One.
"We hunt the Old One," T'Zshal had said. He bad visited various pits, some open, some sheltered, the warehouses, the refining vats. "We hunt the Old One," he had said. And they bad followed him. Even in the shadow of Klima's Keep itself, the squarish, stout, fortresslike building which houses the weaponry, domicile and office of the Salt Master himself did we recruit our crew. On the height of the keep I saw, tight in the bright, hot wind, under the merciless sun, defiant to the pits and desert itself, the Rag of Klima, the whip and scimitar. None bad been ordered; not one upon the raft had, under the uplifted whip coil, nor upon the advice of unsheathed steel, been commanded. Many were older men, sober and mature, many blackened by the sun. Each was slave, but each came not as a slave, but came unbidden, as a man. "We hunt the Old One," had said T'Zshal. He said this in the pits, the warehouses, among the refining vats. "We hunt the Old One," he said. And men had followed him.
I think there was no man on the raft that evening who had not lost at least one comrade, recently or long ago, to the Old One.
"Awaken me," bad said T'Zshal, "when the lelts have gone."
Far into the pit, distant from the salt docks, we slowed the raft, and steadied it with the long poles, holding it as nearly as we could in place. He who bad been steersman with us yesterday, during the attack of the Old One, held the sweep that governed the movements of that open, sluggish platform which constituted our vessel. Beside he, only Hassan, on the other side, and myself, of yesterday's crew, accompanied T'Zshal. At the comers of the raft burned four lamps, mounted on poles. Torches, however, stood ready, to be lit from these, and held over the water, should there be need.
"Awaken me when the lelts have gone," had said T'Zshal. "I will sleep now."
He had then lain down, behind the frame within which the salt tubs are stored, aft, and had slept. Beside him lay the long lance, some nine feet in length.
"Will you not use poison on the blade?" had asked a man at the salt dock. No one of those who accompanied T'Zshal had asked the question.
"No," had said T'Zshal.
I wondered if he had once been of the Warriors.
I observed T'Zshal as he slept, the bearded head on one arm. I wondered why it was that none killed him, to become kennel master in his place. How was it, he holding the precarious sovereignty of our kennel, that he dared to sleep among slaves, who might win his kaffiyeh and agal, though they were only rep-cloth, so simply as the dagger, slipped from his sash, might enter his throat? The kennel master, though slave, too, is Ubar, with power of life and death, in the squalor of his domain. How is it, I wondered, that such a man can survive a night, that such a man dare turn his back upon the fierce, envious sleen among whom, with whip, and laughter, he walks. His will, his word, in the kennel decrees law. He may, if he choose, stake out, or whip or slay a man who fails his quota of gathered salt, or strikes a fellow, administering fierce, dread discipline as the whim may seize him, and yet, should he himself be slain, his slayer is not punished, but accedes to his authority and, in his place, becomes master of the kennel. How is it, I wondered, that men survive at Klima, and that they do not die at one another's throats?
I looked at the heads of the lelts, and, scattered among them, the heads of the pale salamanders, thrust from the dark water, attracted by the movement, or the awareness of the light or heat, of the lamps.
They had been with the raft now for better than an Ahn, appearing some quarter of an Ahn after we had steadied the sluggish vessel in place.
It is difficult to bespeak the darkness of the pit.
T'Zshal slept.
Beside him lay the lance; in his reddish sash was thrust the dagger of his office.
"The lelts remain with us," said one of the men near me, he, too, with a pole.
I looked upon the lelts, and, among them, here and there, the salamanders. Their blunt, whitish heads protruded from the water, curious, each head oriented toward one or the other of the four lamps on the raft. I knelt down on the raft, and, quickly, scooped, holding it, one of the lelts from the water. It was enclosed in my hand. It struggled briefly, then lay still. The lelt is a small fish, long-bodied for its size, long-finned. It commonly swims slowly, smoothly, conserving energy in the black, saline world encompassing its existence. There is little to eat in that world; it is a liquid desert, almost barren, black, blind and cool. It swims slowly, conserving its energy, not alerting its prey, commonly flatworms and tiny-segmented creatures, predominantly isopods. I turned the lelt, looking at the small, sunken, covered pits in the sides of its head. I wondered if it was capable, somehow, of a dim awareness of the phenomenon of light. Could there be some capacity, some genetic predisposition for the recognition of light, like an ancient, almost lost genetic memory, buried in the tiny, simple, linear brain at the apex of its spinal column? It could not be possible I told myself. The tiny gills, oddly beneath and at the sides of its jaws, closed and opened. There was a minute sound. I lowered my hand and let the lelt slip again into the dark water. It slipped from sight. Then I saw it again, a few feet from the raft. Again its head protruded from the water, again oriented to the same lamp at the corner of the raft.
"Why did you not eat it?" asked the man near me.
I shrugged. Some salt slaves eat the lelt, raw, taken from the water, or gleaned from their harvesting vessels. The first bite is taken behind the back of the neck.
I regarded the fish.
Perhaps they have some dim awareness of light. Perhaps it is only the heat that draws them. I suppose, in the salt pit, one of our small lamps might seem to those who had in their lives known only darkness like the glory of a thousand suns. We know little about the lelt. We do know it will come from the darkness and lift the blind pits of its eyes toward a source of light.
"You could have given it to me," said the man near me.
"I did not think of it," I told him.
We know little about men, too, I thought. We do know they will seek the truth. I do not know if they can see it. Perhaps if they touched it, they would die, burning in its flames. Perhaps we cannot see truth. Perhaps nature has denied us this gift. Perhaps we can sense only its presence. Perhaps we can sense only its heat. Perhaps to stand occasionally in its presence is sufficient.
"The lelts have gone," said the man.
The waters were dark, seemingly empty. The lelts, the salamanders, had gone.
"Waken, T'Zshal," said the man. The hair rose on the back of my neck.     Suddenly then I understood the institution of the kennel master, and the dark laws governing his tenure, how they regulated and ordered behavior at Klima.
"The lelts have gone," whispered a man.
I glanced at T'Zshal, his heavy head, bearded, resting on his arm, the lance beside him.
I had wondered why men did not kill T'Zshal, and the other kennel masters, why the societal arrangement was as stable as it was. I now knew. It was because the killer then, in turn, would be kennel master.  The dread responsibility would then be his to bear. His then would be the fearful burdens of autonomy, of freedom. One must speak carefully whose words becomes law. It is not easy to be master at Klima. Too, he would be the next to die. It is a high price to pay for the whip. One must think carefully before slaying a kennel master, for the reasons for which one performs this action, if sufficient to justify his slaying must, too, be sufficient to justify the slaying of his successor. There are two major controls on the office of kennel master, one on the men, the other on the master. The control on the men is that the killer of the kennel master must assume the office of his victim, with its vulnerabilities and hazards. The control on the kennel master is the incipient rage and menace of his desperate charges. If he does not govern shrewdly and well, if be does not do rough justice, he invites the lesions of resentment, which among the grim, trapped men of Klima must, sooner or later, culminate in the moment of insurrection. He cannot be easy with the men, of course, for he himself is subject to the sanctions of his superiors, in particular in connection with the salt quotas imposed upon his kennel. Men do not wish to be kennel master. But yet one must be sovereign; one must accept the burden. It is steel alone, and will, which prevents catastrophe and slaughter. The whip must be held. Who will be courageous enough, strong enough, to lift it among the savage, condemned beasts of Klima? Who will be bold enough, generous enough, to accept the dreadful office of kennel master at Klima?
"Waken T'Zshal." whispered a man near me.
I went to the recumbent figure of the kennel master. I put my hand on his shoulder. "Awaken, T'Zshal," said 1. "The lelts have gone."
T'Zshal opened his eyes. He sat up. With his fingers, and some fresh water, from a skin, he rubbed his eves. He took a drink. He stretched, and stood up on the raft. He studied the waters about the raft, black and quiet. He removed his shirt, and his boots.
The waters were quiet.
He was bare-chested. He wore the kafflyeh and agal. He was barefoot. The dagger was thrust in his sash. He examined the long blade of the lance, running his finger along the edge of the blade. The blade was bound in the shaft by four rivets. From his sash he took a long, narrow lacing of rawhide, which he bound about the base of the lance blade, where it was riveted in the shaft, thus, for about six inches, reinforcing the shaft. He then took fresh water from the skin and soaked the lacing. He then laid the lance over the tops of two of the large retaining vessels, the salt tubs, on the raft.
There was no stirring, or movement, near the raft.
None of the men spoke.
T'Zshal was the first to see it. We saw it only after we sensed his movement, slight.
It was some forty feet away, aft on the starboard side. Then it disappeared.
T'Zshal took the lance, holding the point down. He gripped it in both hands.
"Stand back from the edge of the raft," he said.
We moved back.
I felt exhilarated. Gone from my mind suddenly were the brooding on realities and truths that might not be disclosed to men. It is enough to know they exist. One need not stand forever, one's face pressed against a wall that may not be penetrated. One must turn one's back in time upon the impenetrable wall, One must laugh, and cry out, and be a man. Man can think; he must act. In the midst of impenetrable mysteries, not caring for him, beyond him, he behaves, he chooses, he acts. Wisdom decrees that the tree of thought must not be planted where it cannot bear fruit. A man may starve trying to feed on the illusion of nourishment. There are realities, truths, which lie open to man. These are those of his species, of his kind of being, of his realm of animal. To know these truths he needs little more than his brain, his blood, his eyes and hands. He listens overmuch to what does not speak to him, to what cannot speak to him. Within the boundaries of his own being, in that bright realm, let him claim the supremacy which is his; it will remain vacant, unless he seize upon it. It is his; he may take it or not. The choice is up to him. All else is the night and darkness. Music he will make among the stones and silence. He will sing for his own ears; the justification is himself and the song. To what must he be true, if not himself? To what else should he be true? He is born a hunter. Let him not forget the taste of meat.
It erupted from the water not a yard from the raft, hurtling upward, ten feet into the air, towering over the boards and T'Zshal, with a cry of rage, and joy, and I, too, screamed, thrust the lance deep into the body and it turned twisting in the air jaws teeth rows like hooks back bent triangular the gills beneath the jaw the pits in the side of the great head a yard more I could not tell across and then fell back into the water and twisted under the surface and circled away, the dorsal fin, sail-like, scarred from years before, tracing its angry circle.
"Greetings, Old One'' cried T'Zshal. He held the bloodied lance in his hand, fluid thick, black under the lamps, on the blade.
The Old One now again faced the raft. It scarcely moved in the water. It seemed to be watching us.
"It is not pleased," said a man. "You have angered it," said another.
My heart pounded. I thought not then of our comrades of the day before, those slain by the monster in the water. I thought then rather of the beast, the foe, and the bunt. I feared then only that it might forsake the fray.
But I needed not fear, for it was the Old One with whom we dealt.
"Ah, Old One," crooned T'Zshal, softly across the water, "we meet again."
I wondered that he had said this.
"Protect the lamps." said T'Zshal, softly, to us. "Cover them when the water is high."
If the lamps were lost, and the torches unlit, I did not think it likely we would return to the salt dock.
I saw the water near the tail of the Old One begin to stir. It was moving its tail back and forth. Then it slipped beneath the surface.
"Hold to the salt tubs," said T'Zshal.
We felt the great body of the Old One twist under the heavy beams of the raft. Then the raft lifted, to an almost forty-five degree angle as the monster humped beneath it, thrusting it upward. Men slipped, some fell, but none entered the water. Four times the Old One tried to turn the raft. Before we had left the salt docks we had filled the salt tubs with salt. He could not turn the raft. We retained the light on the poles. The Old One circled away and again lay out from us in the water, some fifty to sixty feet distant, seeming to watch.
Then he again slipped from sight. We did not see him for more than a quarter of an Ahn.
Then, suddenly, at the port side, aft, he erupted from the water a dozen feet away and fell back, spattering torrents of water over the raft.
"Cover the torches," cried T'Zshal. "Protect the lamps!" The lamp at the aft, port corner of the raft, drenched, was extinguished. Men covered the torches with their bodies. The Old One had again disappeared.
"Perhaps he is gone now." said one of the men.
"Perhaps." said T'Zshal. The men laughed.
"Aiiii!" cried a man. The Old One rose, twisting, near him, near the forequarter on the port side. He leaped back. The Old One turned, its vast sicklelike tail snapping across the beams. It caught the man's leg between itself and the salt tub, breaking the leg, turning it suddenly oddly inward below the knee. But it had not been the man, we surmised, that the Old One had wanted. The tail, like a twig, had struck loose the lamp pole, hurling it, spinning, flaming oil spilling, yards away into the circle of darkness outside the ring of lamplight, on the dark, briny water.
"Bring the lamps to the center of the raft," said T'Zshal. "Stand within the frame of the salt tubs."
Bits of oil burned briefly on the water scattered from the struck lamp. Then they went out.
I saw the man whose leg was broken. He clung to the side of the salt tub, the salt on the side of his cheek, his arms and chest. He made no sound.
"You were clumsy," said T'Zshal.
The Old One circled the raft four times, sometimes stopping, seeming, to regard us.
"If you want us, you must come for us," said T'Zshal, calling across the water. "Come, little one. Come to T’Zshal. He waits for you."
I saw the water begin to move about the tail of the Old One. The pits of its eyes seemed to rest even with the water.
"Beware," I said to T'Zshal.
"He's coming!" cried one of the men.
The long, vast body hurtled through the water, tail switching. Almost at the edge of the raft the great body lifted in the water, turning to its side, jaws dropping open, lunging, falling, biting, onto the beams, thrashing. T’Zshal thrust the long lance, almost bead-on, toward the monster, and it cut, slicing, a long wound, a yard in length, along its side. The teeth caught the wide cloth of the trouser, turning T'Zshal, spinning him, tearing away cloth to the hip. T'Zshal struck again with the lance, driving it into the tail of the monster as it twisted off the raft.
"Light a torch. Lift it high," said T'Zshal.
He held the lance ready. On the left leg of T'Zshal, where the cloth had been torn away, I could see, white and wide, jagged, descending, a long, irregular scar. It almost encircled the leg and ranged from a half of an inch to two inches in width.
"We are old friends, Old One," called T'Zshal, across the water. "Come, call again."
I had not seen the scar before. I then had no doubt that at some time in the past, T'Zshal and the Old One had become acquainted.
"Come, Old One," whispered T'Zshal. "Come, Old One." He held the lance ready.
T'Zshal, and the Old One, as he had said, were old friends. I wondered how many men of T'Zshal had been killed by the Old One. I suspected it was not few.
In the lamplight, on tile raft, on the dark water, among us, waiting, he held the lance ready.
We did not speak.
None of us suspected it. It came by surprise, from the back, from beneath the surface, then without warning men screaming wood splintering amongst us seeing it striking me others too tumbling gone then men crying out arms in the water one lamp only tiny alive in that blackness.
"Light torches," I cried. From the lamp torches were lit. We saw the Old One emerge from the water, rising up, more than a dozen feet of that great, mighty body rearing upward, Water streaming from it, in its jaws the body of T'Zshal.
I leaped from the raft, striking the surface of the water. I reached the side of the Old One before I realized fully the possibilities of my action. The teeth of the Old One, like that of the long-bodied sharks of Gor, and related marine species, as well as similarly evolved forms of Earth, bend rearward; each bite anchors the bitten material, which can be dislodged conveniently only in the direction of the throat. In short, the Old One could not easily release its quarry. Further, the reflex instinct of the beast would be to hold, not to release the quarry. Even for the Old One, in the black, almost barren waters, food would be scarce. In such an environment one would expect the holding instinct would be as near to inflexible as such an instinct could be. I seized the lateral fin on the right side of the beast. It dove, and rubbed itself, twisting, in the salt at the bottom of the pit. I did not release my hold. I thrust my hand toward the jaws. They were open, clenched on the body of T’Zshal. I could not reach into the jaws. Then the beast swept upward and I, clinging to the fin, erupted with it, eyes and nostrils stung with salt, half blinded, more than ten feet into the air. I was aware of torches across the water on the raft, men crying out, then the fish, I clinging to it, fell into the water, thrashing. As the fish fell back into the water it rolled, lifting me into the air. I shook my head and released the fin, lunging for the jaws which were held open by T’Zshal’s body. My arm entered the jaws. The fish rolled. I lost my grip. I seized T'Zshal's body. Again I reached my arm into the jaws, grasping. I got my hand on the hilt of the dagger. The fish leaped again from the water and I had the dagger free, plunging it, ripping, into the gill tissue below its jaw, one of the salt-adaptations of marine life in the pit. I did not know the number of its hearts or their location. These vary in Gorean sharks. Too, the heart is deep within the body. I did not think I could reach it with the blade at my disposal. But the gill tissue is delicate, like layers of petals, essential for drawing oxygen from the environment. Madly did the great marine beast thrash; its jaws distended, trying to disgorge its victim, but it was held by the teeth; it tried to bite through the body in its jaws but the body was wedged well within the jaws and it could exert little leverage. Then the thrashing grew weaker. The Old One was still alive when I was drawn away from it, pulled by Hassan and another man to the surface of the raft. I could not release the dagger. Hassan pried it from my fingers with his hands. I lay on my back on the beams of the raft. Near me lay T'Zshal. I crawled to my hands and knees and went to him.
"You let the Old One seize you," I told him.
"I was clumsy," he smiled.
Flesh hung, ripped from his body. I tried to press together the wounds.     "The Old One?" asked T'Zshal.
"Dead," I said.
The carcass lay in the water, whitish, buoyed by the salt. It was longer than the raft itself.
"Good," said T'Zshal. Then he closed his eyes.
"He is dead," said one of the men.
"Find the lance head," said I, "take the lacings from the blade. Bring me the dagger."
"You cannot save him," said Hassan. The beams beneath the body of the kennel master were drenched with blood. My forehead was drenched with sweat. I saw the wounds in the shifting torchlight above and behind me. There was salt on my hands, blood. I pressed together, as I could, the serrated flesh.
"I did not know there could be so much blood in a man," said one of the men behind me.
"Bring me what I asked for," I said.
The lance shaft broken, was found floating near the raft. The lacings which had reinforced the head were removed. The dagger was thrust in the wood beside me.
"Help me," said I, "Hassan."
"Be merciful," said Hassan. "Kill him."
"Help me." I said.
"There is no hope," said he.
"We have shared salt," I said.
"I will help you," said Hassan.
Using the dagger as an awl, punching through the flesh, and the long lacing from the lance head, while Hassan held together the edges of the ripped furrows, I crudely sewed together the rent, bloodied meat before me.
Once T'Zshal opened his eyes. "Let me die," he begged.
"I thought you once made the march to Klima," I said.
"I did," said T'Zshal.
"March again to Klima," I told him.
The fists of the kennel master clenched. A bit later be slept.
I leaned back from the body of T'Zshal. "You would not qualify as one of the caste of physicians," said a man behind me.
"I myself," said Hassan, "would not admit him to the leather workers."
We laughed. T'Zshal slept.
"What of the Old One?" asked one of the men.
"Leave him," I said. The lelts, as yet, had not even dared approach the shifting, buoyant carcass of the Old One. In time their hunger would bring them, nosing and nibbling, to its bulk, and the blind feast in the black waters would begin.
"Return to the salt docks," I said.
The men picked up their poles. The great raft turned and began to make its way back toward the docks.
Tribesmen of Gor