"I shrugged. Much of Gor was terra incognita. Few knew well the lands on the east of the Voltai and Thentis ranges, for example, or what lay west of the farther islands, near Cos and Tyros. It was more irritating, of course, to realize that even considerable areas of territory above Schendi, south of the Vosk, and west of Ar, were unknown."
"Explorers of Gor" page 16
"I could see, high on the map, Ax Glacier, Torvaldsland, and Hunjer and Skjern, and Helmutsport, and, lower, Kassau and the great green forests, and the river Laurius, and Laura and Lydius, and, lower, the islands, prominent among them Cos and Tyros; I saw the delta of the Vosk, and Port Kar, and, inland, Ko-ro-ba, the Towers of the Morning, and Thentis, in the mountains of Thentis, famed for her tarn flocks; and, to the south, among many other cities, Tharna, of the vast silver mines; I saw the Voltai Range, and Glorious Ar, and the Cartius, and, far to the south, Turia, and near the shore of Thassa, the islands of Anango and Ianda, and on the coast, the free ports of Schendi and Bazi. There were, on this map, hundreds of cities, and promontories and peninsulas, and rivers and inland lakes and seas."
"Tribesmen of Gor" page 7
MOUNTAINS OF GOR
"There are tiers of mountains, interlaced chains of them, both east of Torvaldaland and north of her. Ax Glacier lies in one valley between two of these chains. These chains, together, are sometimes called the Hrimgar
Mountains, which, in Gorean, means the Barrier Mountains. They are surely not a barrier, however, in the sense that the Voltai Mountains, or even the Thentis Mountains or Ta-Thassa Mountains, are barriers. The Hrimgar Mountains are not as rugged or formidable as any of these chains, and they are penetrated by numerous passes. One such pass, through which we trekked, is called the pass of Tancred, because it is the pass used annually by the migration of the herd of Tancred.
Four days after leaving the northern edge of Ax Glacier, we climbed to the height of the pass of Tancred, the mountains of the Hrimgar flanking us on either side. Below the height, the pass sloping downward, we could see the tundra of the polar plain. It is thousands of pasangs in width, and hundreds
in depth; it extends, beyond horizons we could see, to the southern edge of the northern, or polar, sea.
I think this was a moving moment for Imnak. He stopped on the height of the pass, and stood there, for a long time, regarding the vastness of the cool tundra.
"I am home," he said.
Then we eased the sled downward."
"Beasts of Gor" page 192
"The Priest Kings," said my father, "maintain the Sacred Place in the Sardar Mountains, a wild vastness into which no man penetrates. The Sacred Place, to the minds of most men here, is taboo, perilous. Surely none have returned from those mountains.' My father's eyes seemed far away, as if focused on sights he might have preferred to forget. 'Idealists and rebels have been dashed to pieces on the frozen escarpments of those mountains. If one approaches the
mountains, one must go on foot. Our beasts will not approach them. Parts of outlaws and fugitives who sought refuge in them have been found on the plains below, like scraps of meat cast from an incredible distance to the beaks and teeth of wandering scavengers."
"Tarnsman of Gor" page 29
"Like every man of Gor I knew the direction of the Sardar Mountains, home of the Priest-Kings, forbidden vastness into which no man below the mountains, no mortal, may penetrate. It was said that the Supreme Home Stone of all Gor lay within those mountains, that no man had looked upon a Priest-King and lived."
"Outlaw of Gor" page 45
"The Sardar Mountains, which I had never seen, lay more than a thousand pasangs
from Ko-ro-ba. Whereas the Men Below the Mountains, as the mortals are called,
seldom enter the mountains, and do not return when they do, many often venture
to their brink, if only to stand within the shadows of those cliffs that hide
the secrets of the Priest-Kings. Indeed, at least once in his life every Gorean
is expected to make this journey."
"Outlaw of Gor" page 47
"I wheeled the tarm in the sky, not wanting to approach more closely yet. I looked upon those mountains which I now saw for the first time. A chill not of the high winds which buffeted me on tarnback now crept into my body.
The mountains of the Sardar were not such a vast, magnificent range as the rugged scarlet crags of the Voltai, that almost impenetrable mountains vastness in which I had once been the prisoner of the outlaw Ubar, Marlenus of Ar, ambitious and warlike father of the fierce and beautiful Talena, she whom I
loved, whom I had carried on tarnback to Ko-ro-ba years before to be my Free Companion. No, the Sardar Range was not the superb natural wilderness that was the Voltai. Its peaks did not scorn the plains below. Its heights did not taunt
the sky nor, in the cold of the night, defy the stars. In it would not be heard the cry of tarns and the roar of larls. It was inferior to the Voltai in both dimension and grandeur. Yet when I looked upon it, more than the gloriously savage, larl-haunted Voltai, I feared it.
I took the tarn closer.
The mountains before me were black, except for the high peaks and passes, which showed white patches and threads of cold, gleaming snow. I looked for the green of vegetation on the lower slopes and saw none. In the Sardar Range nothing grew.
There seemed to be a menace, and intangible fearful effect about those angular shapes in the distance. I took the tarn as high as I could, until his wings beat frantically against the thin air, but could see nothing in the Sardar Mountains that might be the habitation of Priest-Kings.
I wondered - an eerie suspicion that suddenly swept through me - if the Sardar Mountains might actually be empty - if there might be nothing, simply nothing but the wind and the snow in those gloomy mountains, and if me worshipped,
unknowingly, nothing. What of the interminable prayers of the Initiates, the sacrifices, the observances, the rituals, the innumerable shrines, altars and temples to the Priest-Kings? Could it be that the smoke of the burning sacrifices, the fragrance of the incense, the mumbling of the Initiates,
their prostrations and grovellings were all addressed to nothing but the empty peaks of the Sardar, to the snow, and the cold and the wind that howled among those black crags?
Suddenly the tarn screamed and shuddered in the air!
The thought of the emptiness of the Sardar Range was banished from my mind, for here was evidence of the Priest-Kings!"
"Outlaw of Gor" page 179-180
"I am offering a libation," he said. "Ta-Sardar-Gor." "What does that mean?"
I asked, my words fumbling a bit, blurred by the liquor, made unsteady by my
fear. "It means," laughed Cabot, a mirthless laugh, " - to the Priest-Kings of Gor!"
"Outlaw of Gor" page 13
"It came about late in the month of En`Kara in the year 10,117 from the founding of the City of Ar that I came to the Hall of Priest-Kings in the Sardar Mountains on the planet Gor, our Counter-Earth.
I had arrived four days before on tarnback at the black palisade that encircles
the dreaded Sardar, those dark mountains, crowned with ice, consecrated to the
Priest-Kings, forbidden to me, to mortals, to all creatures of flesh and blood.
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 7
"Although no one may be enslaved at the fair, slaves may be bought and sold within its precincts, and slavers do a thriving business, exceeded perhaps only by that of Ar's Street of Brands. The reason for this is not simply that here is a fine market for such wares, since men from various cities pass freely to and for at the fair, but that each Gorean, whether male or female, is expected to see the Sardar Mountains, in honor of the Priest-Kings, at least once in his life, prior to his twenty-fifth year. Accordingly the pirates and outlaws who beset the trade routes to ambush and attack the caravans on the way to the fair, if successful, often have more than inanimate metals and cloths to reward
their vicious labors.
"This pilgrimage to the Sardar, enjoyed by the Priest-Kings according to the Caste of the Initiates, undoubtedly plays its role in the distribution of beauty among the hostile cities of Gor. Whereas the males who accompany a caravan are often killed in its defense or driven off, this fate, fortunate or not, is seldom that of the caravan's women. It will be their sad lot to be stripped and fitted with the collars and chains of slave girls and forced to follow the wagons on foot to the fair, or if the caravan's tharlarions have been killed or driven off, they will carry its goods on their backs. Thus one practical effect of the edict of the Priest-Kings is that each Gorean girl must, at least once in her life, leave her walls and take the very serious risk of becoming a slave girl, perhaps the prize of a pirate or outlaw.
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 12/3
"Some four days into the mountains I heard for the first time in my journey the
sound of a thing other than the wind, the sighing of snow and the groaning of
ice; it was the sound of a living thing; the sound of a mountain larl."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 18
"In the vicinity of the Sardar Mountains I had brought the tarn down on the quiet, flat, gray-metal, disklike surface, some forty feet in diameter, of the ship, some two miles above the surface of Gor. The ship did not move, but remained as stationary in the sun and the whipping wind as though it were fixed on some invisible post or platform. Clouds like drifting fogs, radiant with the golden sunlight, passed about it. In the distance far below, and to the right, I could see, through the cloud cover, the black, snow-capped crags of the Sardar."
"Assassin of Gor" page 58
"I looked about myself. The forests of the northern temperate latitudes
of Gor are countries in themselves, covering hundreds of thousands of
square pasangs of area. They contain great numbers of various species of
trees, and different portions of the forests may differ considerably among
themselves. The most typical and famous tree of these forests is the lofty,
reddish Tur tree, some varieties of which grow more than two hundred feet high.
It is not known how far these forests extend. It is not impossible that they
belt the land surfaces of the planet. They begin near the shores of Thassa,
the Sea, in the west. How far they extend to the east is not known. They do
extend beyond the most northern ridges of the Thentis Mountains.
We found ourselves now in a stand of the lofty Tur trees. I could see broadly
spreading branches some two hundred feet or more above my head. The trunks of
the trees were almost bare of branches until, so far above, branches seemed to
explode in an interlacing blanket of foliage, almost obliterating the sky.
I could see glimpses of the three moons high above. The floor of the forest was
almost bare. Between the lofty, widely spaced trees there was little but a carpeting of leaves."
"Captive of Gor" page 130
"In some cities, Port Kar, for example, the long bow is almost unknown. Similarly it is not widely known even in Glorious Ar, the largest city of known Gor.
It is reasonably well know in Thentis, in the Mountains of Thentis, famed for her tarn flocks, and in Ko-ro-ba, my city, the Towers of Morning. Cities vary.
"Raiders of Gor" page 4
"Soon I smelled the frying of vulo eggs in a large, flat pan, and the unmistakable odor of coffee, or as the Goreans express it, black wine. The beans grow largely on the slopes of the Thentis mountains. The original beans, I suppose, had been brought, like certain other Gorean products, from Earth; it is not impossible, of course, that the opposite is the case, that black wine is native to Gor and that the origin of Earth's coffee beans is Gorean; I regard this as unlikely, however, because black wine is far more common on Earth than on Gor, where it is, except for the city of Thentis, a city famed for her tarn flocks, and her surrounding villages, a somewhat rare and unusual luxury. Had I known more of Gor I would have speculated that my masters might have sworn their swords to the defense of Thentis, that they were of that city, but, as I was later to learn, they were of another city, one called Ar."
"Slave Girl of Gor" page 73
"I regarded the vast map on the floor of the chamber. I could see, high on
the map, Ax Glacier, Torvaldsland, and Hinjer and Skjern, and Helmutsport, and lower, Kassau and the great green forests, and the river Laurius, and Laura and Lydius, and lower, the islands, prominent among them Cos and Tyros;
I saw the delta of Vosk, and Port Kar, and, inland, Ko-ro-ba, the Towers of the Morning, and Thentis, in the mountains of Thentis, famed for her tarn flocks; and, to the south, among many other cities, Tharna, of the vast silver mines; I saw the Voltai Range, and Glorious Ar, and the Cartius, and, far to the south, Turia, and near the shore of Thassa, the islands of Anango and Ianda, and on the coast, the free ports of Schendi and Bazi. There were, on the map, hundreds of cities, and promontories and peninsulas, and rivers and inland lakes and seas."
"Tribesmen of Gor" page 7
"I see," I said. The Boswell he had referred to, incidentally, was the same
fellow for whom the Boswell Pass through the Thentis Mountains had been
named. He was an early explorer in the Barrens. Others were such men, as
Diaz, Hogarthe and Bento.
"It is an awesome and splendid sight," I said. "Let us ride closer."
"But let us be careful," said Cuwignaka. Then, with a cry of pleasure, kicking his heels back into the flanks of his kaiila, he urged his beast down the slope.
Grunt and I looked at one another, and grinned. "He is still a boy," said Grunt."
"Blood Brothers of Gor" page 7
"Of course," I said. In my own concerns, in my own purposes in the Barrens,
to locate and warn Zarendargar of his danger. I had given too little thought
to the obvious rold of the fierce Kurii in the military politics of the vast
grasslands east of the Thentis mountains. Cuwignaka, as a matter of fact,
did not even know of my true mission in the Barrens. He thought me one who
merely dealt in trading, much like Grunt."
"Blood Brothers of Gor" page 272
"What is that I smell?" I asked.
"Black wine," said she, "from the Mountains of Thentis."
I had heard of black wine, but had never had any. It is drunk in
Thentis, but I had never heard of it being much drunk in any of the other cities.
"Assassin of Gor" page 106
"Throughout the stands, startling those multitudes, unsettling the other birds being drawn by the homed tharlarion on the low carts, there was heard the sudden shrill, ringing challenge scream of a tarn, unhooded, a giant tarn, black, a wild mountain cry of one of Gor's fiercest, most beautiful predators,
that might have been heard in the sharp crags of the Mountains of Thentis, famed for its tarn flocks, or even among the red peaks of the lofty, magnificent Voltai itself, or perhaps in battle far above the swirling land below as tarnsmen met in duels to the death."
"Assassin of Gor" page 220
"In the distance I could see some patches of yellow, the Ka-la-na groves that dot the fields of Gor. Far to my left I saw a splendid field of Sa-Tarna, bending beautifully in the wind, that tall yellow grain that forms a staple in the Gorean diet. To the right, in the far distance, I saw the smudge of mountains. From their extent and height, as far as I could judge, I guessed them to be the mountains of Thentis. From them, if this were true, I could gather my bearings for Ko-ro-ba, that city of cylinders to which, years ago, I had pledged my sword."
"Outlaw of Gor" page 19/20
"I grinned, and washed down the eggs with a swig of hot black wine, prepared from the beans grown upon the slopes of the Thentis mountains. This black wine is quite expensive. Men have been slain on Gor for attempting to smuggle the beans out of the Thentian territories."
"Beasts of Gor" page 21
I considered the Barrens. They are not, truly, as barren as the name would
suggest. They are barren only in contrast, say, with the northern forests or
the lush land in river valleys, or the peasant fields or meadows of the
southern rain belts. They are, in fact, substantially, vast tracts of rolling
grasslands, lying east of the Thentis Mountains. I have suspected that
they are spoken of as the Barrens not so much in an attempt to appraise
them with geographical accuracy as to discourage their penetration, exploration
and settlement. The name, then, is perhaps not best regarded as an item of
purely scientific nomenclature but rather as something else, perhaps a warning.
Also, calling the area the Barrens gives men a good excuse, if they should
desire such, for not entering upon them. To be sure, the expression 'Barrens'
is not altogether a misnomer. They would be, on the whole, much less arable than much of the other land of known Gor. Their climate is significantly influenced by the Thentis Mountains and the absence of large bodies of water. Prevailing winds in the northern hemisphere of Gor are from the north and West. Accordingly a significant percentage of moisture-laden air borne by westerly winds is forced by the Thentis Mountains to cooler, less-heated air strata, where it precipitates, substantially on the eastern slopes of the mountains and the fringes of the Barrens. Similarly the absence of large bodies of water in the Barrens reduces rainfall which might be connected with large-scale evaporation and subsequent precipitation of this moisture over land areas, the moisture being carried inland on what are, in effect, sea breezes, flowing into low pressure areas caused by the warmer land surfaces, a given amount of radiant energy raising the temperature of soil or rock significantly more than it would raise the temperature of an equivalent extent of water.
The absence of large bodies of water adjacent to or within the Barrens also has
another significant effect on their climate. It precludes the Barrens from
experiencing the moderating effects of such bodies of water on atmospheric
temperatures. Areas in the vicinity of large bodies of water, because of the
differential heating ratios of land and water usually have warmer winters and
cooler summers than areas, which are not so situated. The Barrens, accordingly, tend to be afflicted with great extremes of temperature, often experiencing bitterly cold winters and long, hot, dry summers.
"Another possibility," Samos was saying, "would be a loan to the Sa-Tarna merchants, at a reduced rate of interest. Thus we might avoid the precedent of a direct subsidy to a sub caste. To be sure, we might then encounter resistance from the Street of Coins. Tax credits would be another possible incentive."
At the edge of the Thentis Mountains, in the driest areas, the grass is short. As one moves in an easterly direction it becomes taller, ranging generally from ten to eighteen inches in height; as one moves even further east it can attain a height of several feet, reaching as high as the knees of a man riding a kaiila. On foot, it is easier to become lost in such grass than in the northern forests. No white man, incidentally, at least as far as I know, has ever penetrated to the eastern edge of the Barrens. Certainly, as far as I know, none has ever returned from that area. Their extent, accordingly, is not known.
"The issues are complicated," said Samos. "I do not know, truly, how I should cast my vote."
Tornadoes and booming, crashing thunder can characterize the Barrens. In the winter there can be blizzards, probably the worst on Gor, in which snows can drift as high as the mast of the light galley. The summers can be characterized by a searing sun and seemingly interminable droughts. It is common for many of the shallow, meandering rivers of the area to run dry in the summer. Rapid temperature shifts are not unusual. A pond may unexpectedly freeze in En'Kara late in Se'Var, a foot or two of snow may be melted in a matter of hours. Sudden storms, too, are not unprecedented. Sometimes as much as twelve inches of rain, borne by a southern wind, can be deposited in less than an hour. To be sure, this rain usually runs off rapidly, cutting crevices and gullies in the land. A dry river bed may, in a matter of minutes, become a raging torrent. Hail storms, too, are not infrequent. Occasionally the chunks of ice are larger than the eggs of vulos. Many times such storms have destroyed flights of migrating birds.
"What do you think?" asked Samos.
I once shared paga with Zarendargar," I said.
"I do not understand," said Samos.
"Savages of Gor" page 64/5
I lifted my shield and grasped the long spear, but it did not turn in my direction; it passed, unaware; beyond the bird, to my surprise, I saw even a black larl, a huge catlike predator more commonly found in mountainous regions; it was stalking away, retreating unhurried like a king; before what, I asked myself, would even the black tarn flee; and I asked myself how far it had been driven; perhaps even from the mountains of Ta-Thassa, that loomed in this hemisphere, Gor's southern, at the shore of Thassa, the sea, said to be in the myths without a farther shore."
"The Wagon Peoples claimed the southern prairies of Gor, from the gleaming
Thassa and the mountains of Ta-Thassa to the southern foothills of the Voltai
Range itself, that reared in the crust of Gor like the backbone of a planet. On
the north they claimed lands even to the rush-grown banks of the Cartius, a broad, swift flowing tributary feeding into the incomparable Vosk. The land between the Cartius and the Vosk had once been within the borders of the claimed empire of Ar, but not even Marlenus, Ubar of Ubars, when master of luxurious, glorious Ar, had flown his tarnsmen south of the Cartius.
In the past months I had made my way, afoot, overland, across the equator, living by hunting and occasional service in the caravans of merchants, from the northern to the southern hemisphere of Gor. I had left the vicinity of the Sardar Range in the month of Se'Var, which in the northern hemisphere is a winter month, and had journeyed south for months; and had now come to what some call the Plains of Turia, others the Land of the Wagon Peoples, in the autumn of this hemisphere; there is, due apparently to the balance of land and water mass on Gor, no particular moderation of seasonal variations either in the northern or southern hemisphere; nothing much, so to speak, to choose between them; on the other hand, Gor's temperatures, on the whole, tend to be somewhat fiercer than those of Earth, perhaps largely due to the fact of the wind-swept expanses of her gigantic land masses; indeed, though Gor is smaller than Barth, with consequent gravitational reduction, her actual land areas may be, for all I know, more extensive than those of my native planet; the areas of Gor which are mapped are large, but only a small fraction of the surface of the planet; much of Gor remains to her inhabitants simply terra incognito."
"Nomads of Gor" page 2
"We stood on the wall near the main gate of Turia, through which I had entered the city some four days ago, the morning after the departure of the Tuchuk wagons for the pastures this side of the Ta-Thassa Mountains, beyond which lay the vast, gleaming Thassa itself."
"Nomads of Gor" page 240
"Whether, after we had moved the wagons and bosk some pasangs away, we should
remain there, or proceed toward the pastures this side of the Ta-Thassa
Mountains, or return toward Turia, was not decided. In the thinking of both
Harold and myself, that decision was properly Kamchak's. The Kataii main force and the Kassar main force camped separately some pasangs from the Tuchuk camp and the field and would, in the morning, return to their own wagons."
"Nomads of Gor" page 252
"I was somewhere in the Voltai Range, sometimes called the Red Mountains,
south of the river and to the east of Ar. That would mean that I had unknowingly passed over the great highway, but whether ahead of or behind Pa-Kur's horde I had no idea. My calculations as to my locale tended to be confirmed by the dull reddish color of the cliffs, due to the presence of large deposits of iron oxide.
"Tarnsman of Gor" page 144
"No, the Sardar Range was not the superb natural wilderness that was the Voltai. Its peaks did not scorn the plains below. Its heights did not taunt the sky nor, in the cold of the night, defy the stars. In it would not be heard the cry of tarns and the roar of larls. It was inferior to the Voltai in both dimension and grandeur. Yet when I looked upon it, more than the gloriously savage, larl-haunted Voltai, I feared it."
"Outlaw of Gor" page 180
"The spires of Ar, depending on the weather, can normally be seen quite clearly from the nearer ranges of the Voltai, or the Red Mountains, the greatest mountain range of known Gor, superior to both those of Thentis and the Sardar itself. We flew for perhaps an Ahn and then, following a lead tarnsman, dipped and, one at a time, the others circling, landed on a rocky shelf on the side of a steep cliff, apparently no different from dozens of other such shelves we had already passed, save that this shelf, due to an overhang of the cliff above
tended to be somewhat more sheltered than most."
"Assassin of Gor" page 95
"So is Dietrich of Tarnburg, of the high city of Tarnburg, some two hundred pasangs to the north and west of Hochburg, both substantially mountain fortresses, both in the more southern and civilized ranges of the Voltai, was well-known to the warriors of Gor. His name was almost a legend. It was he who had won the day on the fields of both Piedmont and Cardonicus, who had led the Forty Days' March, relieving the siege of Talmont, who had effected the crossing of the Issus in 10,122 C.A., in the night evacuation of Keibel Hill, when I had been in Torvaldsland , and who had been the victor in the battles of Rovere, Kargash, Edgington, Teveh Pass, Gordon Heights, and the Plains of Sanchez."
"Mercenaries of Gor" page 31
"In leaving the thing field I saw, in the distance, a high, snow-capped mountain, steep, sharp, almost like the blade of a bent spear.
I had seen it at various times, but never so clearly as from the thing field. I suppose the thing field might, partly, have been selected for the aspect of this mountain. It was a remarkable peak.
"What mountain is that?" I asked.
"It is the Torvaldsberg," said Ivan Forkbeard.
"The Torvaldsberg?" I asked.
"In the legends, it is said that Torvald sleeps in the mountain," smiled Ivar Forkbeard, "to awaken when, once more, he is needed in Torvaldsland."
Then he put his arm about my shoulder. "Come to my camp," said he. "You must still learn to break the Jarl's Ax gambit."
I smiled. Not yet had I mastered a defense against this powerful gambit of the north.
"Marauders of Gor" page 180
"It is time," said Ivar Forkbeard, turning away from me, "to go to the Torvaldsberg."
He strode from his camp. I followed him.
It was shortly past noon, on the snowy slopes of the Torvaldsberg.
I looked down into the valley. We could not make out clearly the lineaments
of the Kurii pursuing us. They moved rapidly.
They were perhaps a pasang and a half away. They carried shields, axes.
"Let us continue our journey," said Ivar.
"Shall we meet them here?" I asked
'No," said Ivar, "let us continue our journey "
I looked up at the looming crags of the Torvaldsberg. "It is madness to attempt to climb," I said. "We do not have ropes, equipment. Neither of us are of the mountain people. I looked back. The Kurii were now a pasang away, on the rocky, lower slopes, scrambling upward. They had slung their shields and axes on their backs. When they came to a sheet of steep ice they did not go around it but, extending their claws, climbed it rapidly. The Forkbeard and I had lost several Ehn in circling such obstacles. In snow the Kurii, spreading their large, six-digited appendages, dropped to all fours. For their weight, they did not sink deeply. It had taken the Forkbeard and me an Ahn, wading through crusts of snow, to reach our present position. Kurii, it was evident, would accomplish the same distance in a much shorter time.
When snow gave way to patches of rock they would pause, momentarily, nostrils
lowered, reading signs that would have been undetectable to a human. Then they
would lift their heads, scan the rocks above them, and proceed swiftly.
Ivar Forkbeard stood up. There was no cover now for us between our present
position and the beginning of the steeper heights.
Below us we heard Kurii, seeing him, howl with pleasure. One pointed us out to a fourth who had not yet seen us. Then all of them stood below, leaping, lifting their arms.
"They are pleased," I said.
The Kurii then. with redoubled speed, began to move to-ward us.
"Let us continue our journey," suggested the Forkbeard.
My foot slipped, and I hung by the hands, from the rocky ledge. Then I had my footing again.
The sun struck the cliff. My fingers ached. My feet were cold from the ice,
the snow. But the upper part of my body sweated.
"Move only one hand or a foot at a time," said Ivar.
It was now the twelfth hour, two Ahn past the Gorean noon. I would not look down. A rock struck near me, shattering into the granite of the mountain, scarring it. It must have been the size of a tarsk. Startled I almost lost my grip. I tried to remain calm. I heard a Kur climbing below me.
The Torvaldsberg is, all things considered, an extremely dangerous mountain. Yet it is clearly not unscalable, as I learned, without equipment. It has the shape of a spear blade, broad, which has been bent near the tip. It is some-thing over four and a half pasangs in height, or something over seventeen thousand Earth feet. It is not the highest mountain on Gor but it is one of the most dramatic, and most impressive. It is also, in its fearful way, beautiful.
I followed, as closely as I could, the Forkbeard. It did not take me long to
understand that he knew well what he was doing. He seemed to have an uncanny
sense for locating tiny ledges and cuts in the stone which were almost invisible from even two or three feet below.
Kurii are excellent climbers, well fitted for this activity with their multiple
jointed hands and feet, their long fingers, their suddenly extendable claws, but they followed us, none-the less, with difficulty. I suspected why this was.
It must have been about the fourteenth Ahn when Ivar reached down and helped me to a ledge.
I was breathing heavily.
"Kurii," he said, "cannot reach this ledge by the same route."
"Why?" I asked.
"The hand holds," said he, "are too shallow, for their weight.
"Hand holds?" I asked.
"Yes," said he. "Surely you have noticed their convenience."
I looked at him. More than once I had almost slipped down the escarpment.
"And you have noticed how they have become shallower?"
"I noticed the climbing was more difficult, " I admitted. "You seem to know
the mountain well," I told him.
It had been no accident that he had seemed to have an uncanny knack for
locating an ascent path, where none seemed to promise.
"You have been here before," I told him.
"Yes," he said. "As a boy I climbed the Torvaldsberg."
"You spoke of hand holds," I said.
"I cut them," he said.
It then seemed to me no wonder that he had moved with such confidence on the
escarpment. I had suspected earlier that he knew the mountain, this facilitating our ascent, and that this explained why the pursuing Kurii, natively better climbers than men, could do little better than keep our pace, if that. I had not suspected, however, that the Forkbeard was taking advantage of a previously wrought path, and one which, in part at least, he had made for himself in years past. The Forkbeard leaned back, grinning. He rubbed his hands. His fingers were cold. We heard, some sixty feet below us, a Kur scraping with its claws on the mountain below us, feeling for crevices or chinks.
"This ledge," said the Forkbeard, "is a Kur trap. In my youth I was hunted by a
Kur in this vicinity. It had trailed me for two days. I took to the mountain. It was sufficiently unwise to follow me. I chose, and cut, a path which it might follow, to the last twenty feet; for the last twenty feet I cut shallow holds in the surface, adequate for a man, climb-ing carefully, but too shallow for the fingers of a Kur."
Below us I heard a snarl of frustration.
"As a boy, thus," said Ivar, "I slew my first Kur." He rose to his feet. He went to a corner of the ledge where, heaped, there were several large stones. "The stones I then gathered are still here," he said. "I found several on the ledge, some I found higher."
I did not envy the Kur below.
I looked over the edge. "It is still climbing," I whispered. I drew my sword.
It would not be difficult to prevent the animal from reaching the ledge by any direct route.
"It is stupid," said the Forkbeard.
Behind the first Kur, some feet below, was a second. Two others were far down the slope, where it was less sheer. The two closest to us had left their weapons below, with the others.
The first Kur was some eight or ten feet below us when, suddenly, it slipped
on the rock and, with a wild shriek, scratching at the stone, slid some four
feet downward and then plunged backward, turning in the air, howling, and,
some five Ihn later, struck the rocks far below.
"The hand holds," said Ivar, "were not cut to be deep enough to support the weight of a Kur."
The second Kur was some twenty-five feet below. It looked up, snarling. The rock hurled by Ivar struck it from the almost vertical wall of stone. It, like its confrere, fell to the rocks below.
The trap, laid for an enemy by a boy of Torvaldsland many years ago, was
still effective. I admired Ivar Forkbeard. Even in his youth he had been
resourceful, cunning. Even as a boy he had been a dangerous foe, in guile
and wit the match even for an adult Kur.
The other two Kurii crouched below on the slopes, looking up. They carried
their shields, their axes, on their back
They made no attempt to approach us.
Our position was not, now, a desirable one. We were isolated on a ledge.
Here there was not food nor water. We could, with some climbing, obtain ice or snow, but there was no food. In time we would weaken, be unable to climb well. As hunters Kurii were patient beasts. If these had fed well before taking up our pursuit, they would not need food for days. I had little doubt they had fed well. There had been much available meat. There was little possibility of leaving the ledge undetected. Kurii have superb night vision. Furthermore, it would be extremely dangerous to attempt to move on the Torvaldsberg in the night; it was extremely dangerous even in full daylight.
I rubbed my hands together, and blew on them. My feet too, were cold. The sweat in my shirt, now that I was not climbing, was frozen. The shirt was stiff, cold. In the night on the Torvaldsberg, even in the middle of the summer,
without warm garments, a man might freeze. The wind then began to rise,
sweeping the ledge. From where we stood we could see the black ruins of Svein Blue Tooth's hall and holdings, the desolated thing fields, the sea, Thassa, with the ships at the beach. I looked at the Forkbeard.
"Let us continue our journey," he said.
"Let us descend and meet the Kurii, while we still have strength," I said.
"Let us continue our journey," he said.
Moving carefully, he began to climb. I followed him. After perhaps half an Ahn, I looked back. The two Kurii, by a parallel route, were following.
That night on the Torvaldsberg we did not freeze.
We huddled on a ledge, between rocks, sheltered from the wind, shivering with cold, miserable, listening for Kurii.
But they did not approach.
We had chosen our ledge well.
Twice rocks rained down to the ledge, but we were protected by an overhang.
"Would you like to hear me sing?" asked Ivar.
"Yes," I said, "it might drive the Kurii away."
Undeterred by my sarcasm, brilliant though it was, Ivar broke into song. He knew, it seemed, a great many songs.
No more rocks rained down to the ledge.
"Song, you see," said Ivar, "soothes even Kurii."
"More likely," I said, "they have withdrawn from ear-shot."
"You jest delightfully," acknowledged the Forkbeard, "I had not thought it in you.
"Yes," I admitted."
"Marauders of Gor" pages 219/224
"Here," he said, moving a bit, "here." He crouched over the mosaic where it delineated the sea, an arm of Thassa, crescentlike, extending northward and eastward, tangent upon the polar shores. The sea in this area was frozen for more than half the year. Winds and tides broke the ice, crushing and piling it in fantastic shapes, wild, trackless conformations, the sport of a terrible nature at play, the dreaded pack ice of the north.
Samos put the lamp down on the floor. "Here," he said, pointing. "It lies somewhere here."
"What?" I asked. Nothing was indicated on the map.
"The mountain that does not move," he said.
"Most mountains do not move," I smiled.
"The ice mountains of the polar sea," he said, "drift eastward."
"I see," I said.
Samos referred to an iceberg. Some of these are gigantic, pasangs in width,
hundreds of feet high. They break from glaciers, usually in the spring and
summer, and drift in Thassa, moving with the currents. The currents generally
moved eastward above the polar basin. Gorean has no expression specifically for an iceberg. The same expression is used for both mountain and iceberg. If a reference should he unclear the expression is qualified, as by saying, "ice mountain." A mountain is a mountain to Goreans, regardless of whether it be formed of soil and stone, or ice. We tend to think of mountains as being land formations. The Gorean tends to think more of them as being objects of a certain sort, rather than objects of a certain sort with a particular location.
In a sense, English does, too, for the expression 'berg' is simple German for
'mountain', and the expression 'iceberg', then is a composite word which, literally translated would yield 'ice mountain' or 'mountain of ice'. 'Berg', of course, in actual German, would be capitalized, for it is a noun. Interestingly, Goreans, although they do not capitalize all nouns do capitalize many more of them than would be capitalized in, say, English or French. Sometimes context determines capitalization. Languages are diverse and interesting, idiosyncratic and fascinating.
I will generally use the expression 'iceberg' for it is easier for me to do so.
"There is here an iceberg," said Samos, pointing to the map, "which is not
following the parsit current." Samos had said, literally, of course, 'ice mountain'. The parsit current is the main eastward current above the polar basin. It is called the parsit current for it is followed by several varieties of migrating parsit, a small, narrow, usually striped fish. Sleen, interestingly, come northward with the parsit. their own migrations synchronized with those of the parsit, which forms for them their principal prey. The four main types of sea sleen found in the polar seas are the black sleen, the brown sleen, the tusked sleen and the flat-nosed sleen. There is a time of year for the arrival of each, depending on the waves of the parsit migrations. Not all members of a species of sleen migrate. Also, some winter under the ice, remaining generally dormant, rising every quarter of an Ahn or so to breathe. This is done at breaks in the ice or at gnawed breathing holes.
"An iceberg which does not drift with the current, which does not move with its
brothers," I said."
Beasts of Gor" page 37/8