The March to Klima
The Brine Pits
The Salt Ubar
The Salt Slaves
The Kennel Master
"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."
"Tribesmen of Gor" page 235
"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."
"Tribesman of Gor" page 238
The Salt Industry
Whereas salt may be obtained from sea water and by burning seaweed, as is sometimes done in Torvaldsland, and there are various districts on Gor where salt, solid or in solution, may be obtained, by far the most extensive and richest of known Gor's salt deposits are to be found concentrated in the Tahari. Tahari salt accounts, in its varieties, I would suspect, for some twenty percent of the salt and salt-related products, such as medicines and antiseptics, preservatives, cleansers, bleaches, bottle glass, which contains soda ash, taken from salt, and tanning chemicals, used on known Gor. Salt is a trading commodity par excellence. There are areas on Gor where salt serves as a currency, being weighed and exchanged much as precious metals. The major protection and control of the Tahari salt, of course, lies in its remoteness, the salt districts, of which there are several, being scattered and isolated in the midst of the dune country, in the long caravan journeys required, and the difficulty or impossibility of obtaining it without knowing the trails, the ways of the desert."
"Tribesmen of Gor" page 208
"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."
"Tribesmen of Gor" page 238
" (...) 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 desiccation by evaporation, which would otherwise occur almost immediately in the Tahari temperatures. Men do not last long in the open pits."
"Tribesmen of Gor" page 239
"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 be 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 centered 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 on. In many respects Klima resembles a community, save that it differs in at least two significant respects. It contains neither children, nor women."
"Tribesmen of Gor" page 239/240
"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 hand.
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 these 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."
"Tribesmen of Gor" page 245/6
The March to Klima
'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, 'as to reach the vicinity of Klima, your feet must be 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.'
"Tribesmen of Gor" page 124
"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."
"Tribesmen of Gor" page 220
"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."
"Tribesmen of Gor" page 231
The Brine Pits of Klima
"The judge, on the testimony of Ibn Saran, and that of two white-skinned, female slaves, one named Zaya, a red-haired girl, the other a dark-haired girl, whose name was Vella, had sentenced me as a criminal, a would-be assassin, to the secret brine pits of Klima, deep in the dune country, there to dig until the salt, the sun, the slave masters, had finished with me. From the secret pits of Klima, it was said, no slave had ever returned. Kaiila are not permitted at Klima, even to the guards. Supplies are brought in, and salt carried away, by caravan, on which the pits must depend. Other than the well at Klima, there is no other water within a thousand pasangs. The desert is the wall at Klima. The locations of the pits, such as those at Klima, are little known, and, to protect the resource, are kept secret by mine agents and merchants. Women are not permitted at Klima, lest men kill one another for them."
"Tribesmen of Gor" page 117/8
'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."
"Tribesmen of Gor" page 125
'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 carded 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."
"Tribesmen of Gor" page 242
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."
"Tribesmen of Gor" page 239/240
"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."
"Tribesmen of Gor" page 250
The Salt Ubar
"I had heard of the Salt Ubar, or the Guard of the Dunes. The location of his kasbah is secret. Probably, other than his own men, only some few hundred know of it, primarily merchants high in the salt trade, and few of them would know its exact location."
"Tribesmen of Gor" page 207/8
"Nominally a sheriff of the Tahari merchants, he, ensconced in his kasbah, first among fierce warriors, elusive and unscrupulous, possesses a stranglehold on the salt of the Tahari, the vital commerce being ruled and regulated as he wills. He holds within his territories the right of law and execution. In the dunes he is Ubar and the merchants bow their heads to him. The Guard of the Dunes is one of the most dreaded and powerful men in the Tahari."
"Tribesmen of Gor" page 209
"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."
"Tribesmen of Gor" page 243
The Salt Slaves
'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."
"Tribesmen of Gor" page 242/3
"One of the administrative penalties of he who is sent to the brine pits of Klima is commonly to be deprived of the sight of female bodies; there are no women at Klima; there is little but the salt, the heat, the slave masters and the sun; sometimes men go mad, trudging into the desert, trying to escape; but there is no water within a thousand pasangs of Klima; I would have liked to have seen a female slave, before being chained for the march to Klima; but I was not permitted this."
"Tribesmen of Gor" page 123
"I saw T'Zshal, who was riding past, leading his thousand lances. He reined in, and his men behind him.
'We are returning to Klima,' he said.
'But you have kaiila,' I said.
'We are slaves of the salt, slaves of the desert,' he said. 'We return to Klima.'
'The Salt Ubar is gone,' I said.
'We will negotiate with local pashas and regulate the desert, and discuss the prices of the varieties of salt,' said T'Zshal.
'The price of salt will soon rise,' I suggested.
'It is not impossible,' said T'Zshal.
I wondered if it were wise to have armed the men of Klima and put them in the saddles of kaiila. They were not typical men. There was none there who had not survived the march to Klima.
'Should you ever need aid,' said T'Zshal, 'send word to Klima. The slaves of the salt will ride.'
'My thanks,' I said. They would be fierce allies. They were desperate and mighty men. Each there had made the march to Klima. 'Things, now,' I said, 'I conjecture, will change at Klima.' I recalled that Hassan had warned me against taking a bit of silk, perfumed, into Klima. I had hidden it in the crusts. 'Men would kill you for it,' he had said.
T'Zshal looked about himself. Slave girls, in coffle, shrank back.
'We will need taverns, cafes, at Klima,' he said. 'The men have been too long without recreation.'
'With the control of much salt,' I said, 'you may have much what you wish.'
'We shall confederate the salt districts,' said T'Zshal.
'You are indeed ambitious,' I said. T'Zshal, I saw, was a leader. Haroun, sitting in court, in what had been the audience room of the kasbah of Ibn Saran, had invited T'Zshal, and his lances, to join his service. T'Zshal, and the others, had refused. 'We will return to Klima,' said he, 'Master.' T'Zshal, I knew, would serve under no man. 'I would rather be first at Klima than second in Tor,' he had said. He was a slave, true, but of no man, only of the salt, and the desert.
'I wish you well,' said T'Zshal.
'I wish you well,' I said."
"Tribesmen of Gor" page 347/8
The Kennel Master
'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 thinks from the world on the other side of the horizon. At Klima, you will find, as in all the world, there are those who hold 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" page 243/4