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ALARS
           The People   Genserix   Hurtha   The Birth   The Scars  
           The Camp    Trade    Warfare   Free Women   Slaves  

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ALARS

The People

"We were now within the laager of Genserix, a chieftain of the Alars, a nomadic, wandering herding people, and one well known, like the folks of Torvaldsland, for their skills with the ax."
"Mercenaires of Gor" page 43

"The wagons often move. There must be new grazing for the bosk. There must be fresh rooting and browse for the tarsk and verr. The needs of these animals, on which the Alars depend for their existence, are taken to justify movements, and sometimes even migrations, of the Alars and kindred peoples. Needless to day, these movements, particularly when they intrude into more settled area, often bring the folk of the laagers into conflict with other peasants and, of course, shortly thereafter, townsfolk and city dwellers who depend on the peasants for their foodstuffs. Also of course, their movements often, from a legal point of view, constitute actual invasions or indisputable territorial infringements, as when, uninvited, they enter areas technically within the jurisdiction or hegemony of given cities or towns.
Sometimes they pay for passage through a country, or pasturage within it, but this is the exception rather than the rule. They are a fierce folk and it would take a courageous town indeed to suggest the suitability or propriety of such an arrangement. From the point of view of the Alars, of course, they feel it is as absurd to pay for pasturage as it would be to pay for air, both of which are required for life. “Without grass the bosk will die,” they say. “The bosk will live,” they add. They often find themselves temporarily within the borders of a town’s or city’s lands, usually about their fringes, but sometimes, depending on the weather and grazing conditions, much deeper within them. Most often little official notice is taken of them, no war challenges being issued, and they are regarded merely as peripheral, unwelcome itinerants, uninvited guests, dangerous, temporary visitors with whom the local folks must for a time live uneasily. It is a rare council or citizenry that does not breathe more easily once the wagons have taken their way out of their lands."
"Mercenaires of Gor" page 43/4

"When there is weakness or chaos in an area, and when the ordinary structures of social order are disrupted, with the concurrent disorganization, failures of responsibility and discipline, it is natural for folks like the Alars to appear. They have a tendency to pour into such areas. Indeed, sometimes they can make them their own, settling within them, sometimes turning to the soil themselves, sometimes assuming the roles and prerogatives of a conquering aristocracy, and becoming, in their turn, the foundation of a new civilization. I had little doubt that it was the current weakness and disorder in this area, attendant on the Cosian invasion, which had drawn the Alars this far south. On the other hand, officially, as I had gathered from the driver with whom I had ridden on the Genesian Road, these Alars had been approached to serve as suppliers and wagoners to the troops. It was in this capacity that they were this close to the road. In accepting this arrangement, the Alars, of course, were in an excellent position to observe the course of events, and, if it seemed practical to them, take possible action. Here they could watch closely for opportunities, either monetary or territorial. Perhaps the men of Cos, no fools, had invited them inward that they might remain in this area, thus rendering more difficult its reoccupation by the forces of Ar. Perhaps, in virtue of gifts of lands, they hoped to make them grateful, pledged allies."
"Mercenaires of Gor" page 44/5

"“We do not really do much raiding. It does not make for good relations with the city dwellers.”
His remark made sense to me. The Alars, and such folk, can be aggressive and warlike in seeking their grazing grounds, but, if left alone, they are seldom practitioners of unrestricted or wholesale raiding."
"Mercenaires of Gor" page 55

"I supposed that she, in her upbringing, had felt a little affinity with the Alar women. Certainly it seemed she had not cared to identify with them. Perhaps, too, as she was not an Alar by blood, they never truly accepted her. Yet it seemed she had been, as is often the case with Alar children, raised with much permissiveness."
"Mercenaires of Gor" page 57/8

"The reckless and sometimes irrational temper of folks like Sorath, and it was a temper not unusual among the proud Alar herders, was something that they would be well advised to guard against. Too often it proves the undoing of such folks."
"Mercenaires of Gor" page 58

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Genserix

"Genserix, broad-shouldered and powerful, in his furs and leather, with his heavy eyebrows, his long, braided blond hair and long, yellow, drooping mustache, looked up from the fire, about which we sat."
"Mercenaires of Gor" page 43

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Hurtha

“Do not mind Parthanx and Sorath,” said a tall, broad shouldered fellow sitting cross-legged beside me. He, too, like Genserix, had long, braided hair and a yellow mustache. Too like Genserix, he was blue-eyed. Many of the Alars are fair in complexion, blond-haired and blue-eyed. “They jest. They are the camp wits,” he explained."
"Mercenaires of Gor" page 43

“I am Hurtha,” said the blond fellow beside me. “You must not think of us as barbarians. Tell us about the cities.”
“What would you like to know?” I asked. He would be interested, I assumed in such matters as the nature of their walls, the number of gates, their defenses, the strength of garrisons, and such.
“Is Ar as beautiful as they say?” he asked. “And what is it like to live there?” “It is very beautiful,” I said. “And although I am not a citizen of Ar, nor of Telnus, the capital of Cos, it is doubtless easier to live in such places than among the wagons. Why do you ask?”
“Hurtha is a weakling, and a poet!” laughed Sorath.
“I am a warrior, and an Alar,” said Hurtha, “but it is true that I am fond of songs.”
“There is no incompatibility between letters and arms,” I said. “The greatest soldiers are often gifted men.”
“I have considered going abroad, to seek my fortune,” he said.
“What would you do?” I asked.
“My arm is strong,” he said, “and I can ride.”
“You would seek service then with some captain?” I said.
“Yes,” he said, “and if possible with the finest.”
“Many are the causes on Gor,” I said, “and so, too, many are the captains.”
“My first appointments,” he said, “might be with anyone.”
“Many captains,” I said, “choose their causes on the scales of merchants, weighing their iron against gold. They fight, I fear, only for the Ubar with the deepest purse.”
“I am an Alar,” said Hurtha. “The cities are always at war with us. It is always the fields against the walls. No matter then which way I face, nor whom I strike, it would be a blow, against enemies.”
“ I am a mercenary, of sorts,” I said, “but I have usually selected my causes with care.”
“And one should,” agreed Hurtha, “for otherwise one might not improve one’s fortunes.”
I looked at him.
“Right,” said Hurtha, “if that is what you are interested in, seems to me a very hard thing to understand. I am not sure there is really any such thing, at all. I have never tasted it, nor seen it, nor felt it. If it does exist, it seems likely to me that it would be on both sides, like sunlight and air. Surely no war has been fought in which both sides have not sincerely claimed, and presumably believed, for one reason or another, that they were right. Thus, if right is always on both sides, one cannot help but fight for it. If that then is the case, why should one not be paid as well as possible for the risks he takes?”
“Have you ever tasted, or seen, or felt honor?” I asked.
“Yes,” said Hurtha. “I have tasted honor, and seen it, and felt it, but it is not like tasting bread, or seeing a rock, or feeling a woman. It is different.”
“Perhaps right is like that,” I said.
“Perhaps,” said Hurtha. “But the matter seems very complex and difficult to me.” “It seems so to me, too,” I said. “I am often surprised why it seems so easy to so many others.”
“Yes,” said Hurtha.
“Perhaps they are more gifted than we in detecting its presence,” I speculated.
“Perhaps,” said Hurtha, “but why, then, is there so much disagreement among them?”
“I do not know,” I admitted."
"Mercenaires of Gor" page 48/9

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The Birth

"I heard the sudden, hesitant, choking cry of the newborn infant. (...)
The sound came from one of the wagons.(...)
The bawling was now lusty.
“It will live,” said one of the men, a sitting warrior near us. Genserix shrugged. That would remain to be seen. (...)
“It is a son,” said one of the women coming from the wagon, nearing the fire. “Not yet,” said Genserix. (...)
The woman who had come to bear tidings to Genserix now turned about and returned to the wagon. (...)
I could hear movement in the nearby wagon. A woman climbed into it carrying cloths and water. I heard the child crying again. (...)
A woman now descended from the wagon, carrying a small object. She came near to the fire and Genserix motioned for her to put the object down, to lay it on the dirt before him, between himself and the fire. She did so. He then crouched down near it, and gently, with his large hands, put back the edges of the blanket in which it was wrapped. The tiny baby, not minutes old, with tiny gasps and coughs, still startled and distressed with the sharp, frightful novelty of breathing air, never again to return to the shelter of its mother’s body, lost in a chaos of sensation, its eyes not focused, unable scarcely to turn its head from side to side, lay before him. The cord had been cut and tied at its belly. Its tiny legs and arms moved. The blood, the membranes and fluids, had been wiped from its small, hot, red, firm body. Then it had been rubbed with animal fat. How tiny were its head and fingers. How startling and wonderful it seemed that such a thing should be alive. Genserix looked at it for a time, and then he turned it over, and examined it further. Then he put it again on its back. He then stood up, and looked down upon it.
The warriors about the fire, and the woman, and two other women, too, who had now come from the wagon, looked at him.
Then Genserix reached down and lifted up the child. The women cried out with pleasure and the men grunted with approval. Genserix held the child up now, happily, it almost lost in his large hands, and then he lifted it up high over his head.
“Ho!” called the warriors, standing up, rejoicing. The women beamed.
“It is a son!” cried one of the women.
“Yes,” said Genserix. “It is a son!”
“Ho!” called the warriors. “Ho!”
“What is going on?” asked Feiqa.
“The child has been examined,” I said. “It has been found sound. It will be permitted to live. It is now an Alar. Too, he has lifted the child up. In this he acknowledges it as his own.”
“I rejoice in your happiness,” I said to Genserix, who had now resumed his place by the fire.
Genserix declined his head briefly, smiling, and spread his hands, expansively. (...)
“Let rings be brought!” called out Genserix. (...)
Rings were then brought, heavy rings of silver and gold, large enough for a wrist or arm, and Genserix distributed these to high retainers. From the same box, he then distributed coins among the others. Even I received a silver tarsk. There were treasures among the wagons, it seemed. The tarsk was one of Telnus. In this small detail I suspected there might be found evidence of the possible relationship between the movements of Cos and the coming of the Alar wagons to the Genesian Road."
"Mercenaires of Gor" page 43/50

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The Scars

"Genserix then handed the child to one of the warriors. He then drew his knife. “What is he going to do?” gasped Feiqa.
“Be quiet,” I said.
Genserix then, carefully, made two incisions in the face of the infant, obliquely, one on each cheek. The infant began to cry. Blood ran down the sides of its face, about the sides of its neck and onto its tiny shoulders. “Let it be taken now,” said Genserix, “to its mother.”
The woman who had brought the child to the side of the fire now took up the blanket in which it had been wrapped, and, wrapping it again on its folds, took it then from the warrior, and made her way back to the wagon.
“These are a warrior people,” I said to Feiqa, “and the child is an Alar. It must learn to endure wounds before it receives the nourishment of milk.”
Feiqa shrank back, frightened to be among such men.
On the face of Genserix, and on the faces of those about us, the males, were the thin, white, knife-edge lines, the narrow scars, by which it might be known that each had, in his time, undergone the same ceremony. By such scars one may identify Alars."
"Mercenaires of Gor" page 47

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The Camp

"The laager of the Alars, like that of similar folks, is a fortress of wagons. They are ranged in a closed circle, or concentric, closed circles, draft animals, and women and children within. Also, not unoften, depending on the numbers involved, and particularly when traversing, or sojourning in, dangerous countries, verr, tarsk, and bosk may also be found within the wagon enclosure. Sewage and sanitation, which might be expected to present serious problems, do not do so, because of the frequent moving of the camps."
"Mercenaires of Gor" page 43

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Trade

“At a time of such happiness,” said a fellow, his long dark hair bound back with a beaded leather talmit, “you need not even be killed for having come to our camp uninvited.”
“Hold,” I said, uneasily. “I was told in the camp of the wagoners, some of those in the supply trains of Cos, that there might be work here for me.” One or two of the men struck each other about the shoulders in amusement. “I gather that is not true,” I said.
“Shall we kill him anyway?” asked a fellow.
“Surely folks come often to the wagons,” I said. (...)
“Many folks come to the wagons, as you know, informers, slavers, tradesmen, metal workers, craftsmen, peasants who will barter produce for skins and trinkets, and so on. If this were not so we could not easily have the goods we have, nor could we keep up as well with the news. If it were not so, we would be too cut off from the world. We would consequently be unable to conduct our affairs as judiciously as we do.”
I nodded. Folk like the Alars tended to move in, and about, settled territories. They were not isolated in vast plains areas, for example, as were certain subequatorial Wagon Peoples, such as Tuchucks and Kassars. The fellows identified as Parthanx and Sorath shoved at one another good-naturedly, pleased with their joke."
"Mercenaires of Gor" page 47/8

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Warfare

"Besides the ax Alars are fond of the Alar sword, a long, heavy, double-edged weapon. Their shields tend to be oval, like those of the Turians. Their most common mount is the medium-weight saddle tharlarion, a beast smaller and less powerful, but swifter and more agile, than the common high tharlarion. Their saddles, however, have stirrups, and thus make possible the use of the couched shock lance. Some cities use Alars in their tharlarion cavalries. Others, perhaps wisely, do not enlist them in their own forces, either as regulars or auxiliaries. When the Alars ride forth to do battle they normally have their laager behind them, to which, in the case of defeat, they swiftly retire. They are fierce and redoubtable warriors in the open field. They know little, however, of politics, or in siege work and the taking of cities. In the cities, normally one needs only to close the gates and wait for them to go away, compelled eventually to do so by the needs of their animals."
"Mercenaires of Gor" page 45

"“Too,” he said. “I purchased this splendid sword,” He unsheathed it and swung it about. He handled it lightly. It nearly decapitated a passing wagoner. It was a long, cutting sword, of the sort called a spatha among the wagons. It is more useful than the gladius , from the back of a tharlarion, because of its reach. He also carried among his things the short, stabbing sword, similar to gladius, and doubtless related to it, called by his people the sacramasax. It is much more useful on foot, particularly in close combat."
"Mercenaires of Gor" page 66

"Hurtha threw his things into the wagon. Among them was the heavy, single bladed Alar war ax. In the dialect of the Alars, if it is of interest, this particular type of ax is called the francisca. Among those, too, who have learned to fear it, it is often referred to by that name.
"Mercenaires of Gor" page 71

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Hospitality

"I did not strike him hard enough to break the vertebrae. He slipped to his knees, vomiting, and then, stunned, half paralyzed, fell forward. I then stood behind him, the handle grasped at the ready, near its end. From such a position one can, rather with impunity, with an unarmed handle, break the neck to the side or crush the head. Had the handle been armed, of course, one might, from such a position, sever the backbone or remove the head. Sorath was fast. I was faster.
“Do not kill him!” said Genserix.
“Of course not,” I said. “He is one of my hosts,” I stepped back from Sorath. “You fought very well,” said Genserix.
“Sorath is very good, don’t you think?” asked Hurtha.
“Yes,” I said. “He is quite good.”
“Your prowess proves you well worthy to be a guest of the Alars,” said Genserix. “Welcome to our camp. Welcome to the light and heat of our fire.”
“Thank you,” I said, tossing aside the handle.
“Thank you,” I said. “I am grateful for your welcome. I thank you, too, for the food and drink I have received here, for the heat and light of your fire, and for your fellowship. I thank you for your hospitality. It is worthy of the best things I have heard of Alars. I would now like, if I may, in my own way, and of my own free will, as it will now be clearly understood, to do something for you, something that will help, in a small way, to express my appreciation.”
Genserix and his warriors looked at one another, puzzled.
I turned to Feiqa. “Strip,” I said.
“Master?” she asked.
“Must a command be repeated?” I inquired.
“No, Master!” she cried. In an instant she was bared.
“Stand,” I said. “Lift your arms over your head.” Instantly she complied. She was then very beautiful, standing thusly in the light of the fire, before the barbaric warriors of Genserix, in the Alar camp.
“Such women,” I said, “may be purchased in the cities.” There were appreciative murmurs as the men drank in the fire-illuminated beauty of the naked slave.
“Dance,” I told Feiqa.
“I do not know how to dance, Master,” she moaned.
“In every female there is a dancer,” I said.
“Master,” she protested.
“I know you are not trained,” I said.
“Master,” she said.
“There are many forms of dance,” I said. “Music is not even necessary. It need not even be more than beautiful movement. Move before the men, and about them, Move as seductively and beautifully as you can, and as a slave, saying, crawling, kneeling, rolling, supine, prone, begging, pleading, piteous, caressing, kissing, licking, rubbing against them.”
“Do I have a choice, Master?” she asked.
“No,” I said, “absolutely not.”
“Yes, Master,” she said.
“Would you prefer your pretty flesh to be lashed from your bones?” I asked. “No, Master!” she said.
“And as the evening progresses, and as men might desire you,” I said, “you will please them, and fully.”
"Mercenaires of Gor" page 59/60

"Feiqa danced.
The men cried out with pleasure, many of them joining in the song, and keeping time with their hands. I was incredibly proud of her. How joyful it is to own females and have absolute power over them! Seldom, indeed, I imagined, did the rude herders of the Alars have such a vision of imbonded loveliness in their camp, and in their arms. Such delicious females were not allowed in their camps, I gathered. The free women did not permit them. They probably had them hidden in wagons, until they could be sold off, or killed."
"Mercenaires of Gor" page 60

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Free Women

“I have seen tharlarion who could handle an ax better than that,” she said. Sorath reddened, angrily. It was apparently a free woman of the Alars, only she was not dressed as were the other women of the camp, in their coarse, heavy, ankle-length woolen dresses. She wore rather the garmenture of a male, the furs and leather. At her belt there was even a knife. She was strikingly lovely, though, I supposed, given her mien and attitude, she would not have taken such an observation as a compliment. She was about the same size as Feiqa, though perhaps a tiny bit shorter, and like Feiqa, was dark-haired and dark-eyed. I thought they might look well together, as a brace of slaves."
"Mercenaires of Gor" page 53

“Fight, Sorath,” taunted the woman. “He is an outsider. Are you not an Alar?” “Be silent, woman,” said Genserix, angrily.
“I am a free woman,” she said. I may speak as I please.”
“Do not seek to interfere in the affairs of men,” said Genserix.
She faced the group, standing on the other side of the fire. Her feet were spread. On her feet were boots of fur. Her arms were crossed insolently upon her chest. “Are there men here?” she asked. “I wonder.”
There was a rumble of angry sounds from the gathered warriors. But none did anything to discipline the girl. She was, of course, free. Free women, among the Alars, have high standing.
“Do you think you are a man?” inquired one of the warriors.
“I am a female,” she said, “but I am not different from you, not in the least.” There were angry murmurs from the men.
“Indeed,” she said, “I am probably more a man than any of you here.”
“Give her an ax,” said Genserix.
An ax, a typical Alar ax, long handled, armed with its heavy iron blade, was handed to the girl. She took it, holding it with difficulty. It was clear it was too heavy for her. She could scarcely lift it, let alone wield it. “You could not use that blade, even for chopping wood,” said Genserix.
“What is your name?” I asked her.
“Tenseric,” she said.
“That is a male’s name,” I said.
“I chose it myself,” she said. “I wear it proudly.”
“Have you always been called that?” I asked.
“I was called Boabissia,” she said, “until I came of age, and chose my own name.”
“You are still Boabissia,” said one of the warriors.
“No!” she said. “I am Tenseric.”
“You are a female, are you not?” I asked.
“I suppose so,” she said, angrily. “But what is that supposed to mean?”
“Does it mean nothing?” I asked.
“No,” she said. “It means nothing.”
“Are you the same as a man?” I asked.
“Yes!” she said.
There was laughter from the warriors about the fire. “It takes more than fur and leather, and a dagger worn pretentiously at one’s belt, to make a man.” I said.
She looked at me with fury.
“You are a female,” called one of the men. “Be one!”
“No!” she cried.
“Put on a dress!” called another of the men.
“Never!” she cried. “I do not want to be one of those pathetic creatures who must wait on you and serve you!”
“Are you an Alar?” I asked.
“Yes!” she said.
‘No,” said Genserix. “She is not an Alar. We found her, years ago, when she was an infant, beside the road, abandoned in blankets, amidst the wreckage of a raided caravan.” (...)
“We took the child in, and raised it,” said Genserix. “We named it Boabissia, a good Alar name.”
“You are not then really of the wagons,” I said to the girl. “Indeed, you are quite possibly a female of the cities.”
"Mercenaires of Gor" page 54/5

"She looked at me in fury. “I am an Alar,” she said.
Some of the warriors laughed.
“It seems more probable to me that you are a woman of the cities,” I said.
“No!” she said. “No!”
“Consider your coloring,” I said, “and your shortness, and the darkness of your hair and eyes. Consider, too, the suggestion of interesting female curvatures beneath your leather and fur.” Most of the Alar women are rather large, plain, cold, blond, blue-eyed women. “You remind me of many women I have seen chained naked in slave markets.”
"Mercenaires of Gor" page 56/7

"I have never seen you in a dress before," he said.
“So?” she asked.
“It is nothing,” he said. “It is only that I am surprised to see you thusly.” Boabissia was not in furs and leather. She now wore one of the simple, corded, belted, woolen, plain, widely sleeved, ankle-length dresses of the Alar women. It was brown. She had belted it snugly, and had, too, drawn its adjustment cording snugly from its loop about the back of her neck down to her breasts where she had crossed it and then taken it back, both cords, between and under her breasts, again to her belt, tying it closely at the sides of her body. This is not uncommon among Alar women. Even though they are free they are apparently not above reminding their men that they are females. It is a simple arrangement, but not unattractive. It covers almost everything, with seeming modesty, but in such a way, that it is likely to lead a man to think in terms of removing it. Boabissia, however, was presumably unaware of these things. From her point of view, she had probably done nothing more than to garb herself in the accustomed manner of the Alar woman. Even so, however, putting herself in a dress, in itself, seemed to represent some sort of considerable change in her. She wore, too, as she had last night, her dagger in her belt."
"Mercenaires of Gor" page 72

"Are you wearing that dress in the manner of the Alar woman?" he asked. “Yes,” she said, reddening.
It was not winter now, but only Se’Kara. Accordingly all she now wore would be the dress. Beneath it she would be naked."
"Mercenaires of Gor" page 74

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Slaves

“Are there such women as these in the cities?” asked Hurtha, indicating Feiqa. “Thousands,” I informed him.
“Surely we should study siege work,” smiled Hurtha.
Feiqa shrank back a bit.
“Such women may be bought in the cities,” I said, “in slave markets, from the houses of slavers, from private dealers. Surely you could have such among the wagons, if you wished. You could have strings brought out to be examined, or accepted, on approval. I see no problem in the matter.” Interestingly, I had noted few, if any, slaves among the wagons. This was quite different from the Wagon Peoples of the far south. There beautiful slaves, in the scandalously revealing chatka and curla, the kalmak and the koora, tiny rings in their noses, were common among the wagons. “You mentioned, as I recall, that slavers among others, came occasionally to the wagons.”
“Yes,” he said, “but usually to buy our captures, picked up generally in raids or fighting.”
“Why are there so few slaves among the wagons?” I asked.
“The free women kill them,” said Hurtha."
"Mercenaires of Gor" page 50

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