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           Beliefs about the Priest-Kings   The Sardar Mountains  
           Entering the Sardar Mountains   Climbing the Sardar Mountains  

           Meeting a Priest-Kings   The Male   The Mother   The Language of Priest-Kings  
           The High Council  

           The Hall    The Chambers    The Vestibule   The Mother's Chamber    Misk's Chamber   
           Tarl's Case    The Scanning Room   The Operating Chamber   The Dome   The Vivarium   

           Tola    Nest Trust    The Nest Council   

           The Flame of Death    Transportation Discs    Silver Tubes    Cloning    Teaching   

           Vika    The Muls   

           Matoks    Golden Beetle    Arthropods    Toos    Slime Worm   

Leaving the Sardar Montains  

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Beliefs about the Priest-Kings

"Who are the Priest-Kings?" I asked.
My father faced me, and he seemed troubled, as if he might have said more than he intended. Neither of us spoke for perhaps a minute.
"Yes," said my father at last, "I must speak to you of Priest-Kings." He smiled."
"Tarnsman of Gor" page 28

"'The Priest-Kings,' said my father, 'are immortal, or so most here believe.' 'Do you believe it?' I asked.
'I don't know,' said my father. 'I think perhaps I do.'
'What sort of men are they?' I asked.
'It is not known that they are men,' said my father.
'Then what are they?'
'Perhaps gods.'
'You're not serious?'
'I am,' he said. 'Is not a creature beyond death, of immense power and wisdom, worthy to be so spoken of?'
I was quiet.
'My speculation, however,' said my father, 'is that the Priest-Kings are indeed men - men much as we, or humanoid organisms of some type - who possess a science and technology as far beyond our normal ken as that of our own twentieth century would be to the alchemists and astrologers of the medieval universities.'"
"Tarnsman of Gor" page 29

"'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 29/30

"My father then explained to me something of the legends of the Priest-Kings, and I gathered that they seemed to be true to this degree at least - that the Priest-Kings could destroy or control whatever they wished, that they were, in effect, the divinities of this world. It was supposed that they were aware of all that transpired on their planet, but, if so, I was informed that they seemed, on the whole, to take little note of it. It was rumored, according to my father, that they cultivated holiness in their mountains, and in their contemplation could not be concerned with the realities and evils of the outside and unimportant world. They were, so to speak, absentee divinities, existent but remote, not to be bothered with the fears and turmoil of the mortals beyond their mountains. This conjecture, the seeking of holiness, however, seemed to me to fit not well with the sickening fate apparently awaiting those who attempted the mountains. I found it difficult to conceive of one of those theoretical saints rousing him self from contemplation to hurl the scraps of interlopers to the plains below."
"Tarnsman of Gor" page 30/1

"'There is at least one area, however,' said my father, 'in which the Priest-Kings do take a most active interest in this world, and that is the area of technology. They limit, selectively, the technology available to us, the Men Below the Mountains. For example, incredibly enough, weapon technology is controlled to the point where the most powerful devices of war are the crossbow and lance. Further, there are no mechanized transportation or communication equipment or detection devices such as the radar and sonar equipment so much in evidence in the military establishments of your world."
"'On the other hand,' he said, 'you will learn that in lighting, shelter, agricultural techniques, and medicine, for example, the Mortals, or Men Below the Mountains, are relatively advanced.'"
"Tarnsman of Gor" page 31

"It is said that the Priest-Kings know whatever transpires on their world and that the mere lifting of their hand can summon all the powers of the universe. I myself had seen the power of Priest-Kings which had twice carried me to this world; I had seen their power so subtly exercised as to alter the movements of a compass needle, so grossly demonstrated as to destroy a city, leaving behind not even the stones of what had once been a dwelling place of men. It is said that neither the physical intricacies of the cosmos nor the emotions of beings are beyond the scope of their power, that the feelings of men and the motions of atoms and stars are as one to them, that they can control the very forces of gravity and invisibly sway the hearts of human beings, but of this latter claim I wonder, for once on a road to Ko-ro-ba, my city, I met one who had been a messenger of the Priest-Kings, one who had been capable of disobeying them, one from the shards of whose burnt and blasted skull I had removed a handful of golden wire. He had been destroyed by the Priest-Kings as casually as one might jerk loose the thong of a sandal. He had disobeyed and he had been destroyed, immediately and with grotesque dispatch, but the important thing was, I told myself, that he had disobeyed, that he could disobey, that he had been able to disobey and choose the ignominious death he knew must follow. He had won his freedom though it had, as the Goreans say, led him to the Cities of Dust, where I think, not even the Priest-Kings care to follow. He had, as a man, lifted his fist against the might of the Priest-Kings and so he had died, defiantly, though horribly, with great nobility."
"Priest Kings of Gor" page 14

"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

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The Sardar Mountains

"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

"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

"The tarn, my gigantic, hawklike mount, had been unsaddled and freed, for it could not accompany me into the Sardar. Once it had tried to carry me over the palisade into the mountains, but never again would I have essayed that flight. It had been caught in the shield of the Priest-Kings, invisible, not to be evaded, undoubtedly a field of some sort, which had so acted on the bird, perhaps affecting the mechanism of the inner ear, that the creature had become incapable of controlling itself and had fallen disoriented and confused to the earth below. None of the animals of Gor, as far as I knew, could enter the Sardar. Only men could enter, and they did not return."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 7

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Entering the Sardar Montains

"It was not far to the fair of En‘Kara, one of the four great fairs held in the shadow of the Sardar during the Gorean year, and I soon walked slowly down the long central avenue between the tents, the booths and stalls, the pavilions and stockades of the fair, toward the high, brassbound timber gate, formed of black logs, beyond which lies the Sardar itself, the sanctuary of this world’s gods, known to the men below the mountains, the mortals, only as Priest-Kings."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 8

"I LOOKED DOWN THE LONG, broad avenue to the huge timber gate at its end, and beyond the gate to the black crags of the inhospitable Sardar Range."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 14

"At last I stood before the towering gate of black logs, bound with its wide bands of brass. The fair lay behind me and the Sardar before. My garments and my shield bore no insignia, for my city had been destroyed. I wore my helmet. None would know who entered the Sardar.
At the gate I was met by one of the Caste of Initiates, a dour, thin-lipped, drawn man with deep sunken eyes, clad in the pure white robes of his caste.
“Do you wish to speak to Priest-Kings?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said.
“Do you know what you do?”
“Yes,” I said.
The Initiate and I gazed evenly at one another, and then he stepped aside, as he must have done many times. I would not be the first, of course, to enter the Sardar. Many men and sometimes women had entered these mountains but it is not known what they found. Sometimes these individuals are young idealists, rebels and champions of lost causes, who wish to protest to Priest-Kings; sometimes they are individuals who are old or diseased and are tired of life and wish to die; sometimes they are piteous or cunning or frightened wretches who think to find the secret of immortality in those barren crags; and sometimes they are outlaws fleeing from Gor’s harsh justice, hoping to find at least brief sanctuary in the cruel, mysterious domain of Priest-Kings, a country into which they may be assured no mortal magistrate or vengeful band of human warriors will penetrate. I suppose the Initiate might account me one of the latter, for my habiliments bore no insignia.
He turned away from me and went to a small pedestal at one side. On the pedestal there was a silver bowl, filled with water, a vial of oil and a towel. He dipped his fingers in the bowl, poured a bit of oil on his hands, dipped his fingers again and then wiped his hands dry.
On each side of the huge gate there stood a great windlass and chain, and to each windlass a gang of blinded slaves was manacled.
The Initiate folded the towel carefully and replaced it on the pedestal.
“Let the gate be opened,” he said.
The slaves obediently pressed their weight against the timber spokes of the two windlasses and they creaked and the chains tightened. Their naked feet slipped in the dirt and they pressed ever more tightly against the heavy, obdurate bars. Now their bodies humped with pain, clenching themselves against the spokes. Their blind eyes were fixed on nothing. The blood vessels in their necks and legs and arms began to distend until I feared they might burst open through the tortured flesh; the agonized muscles of their straining knotted bodies, like swollen leather, seemed to fill with pain as if pain were a fluid; their flesh seemed to fuse with the wood of the bars; the backs of their garments discolored with a scarlet sweat. Men had broken their own bones on the timber spokes of the Sardar windlasses. At last there was a great creak and the vast portal parted a hand’s breadth and then the width of a shoulder and the width of a man’s body.
“It is enough,” I said.
I entered immediately.
As I entered I heard the mournful tolling of the huge, hollow metal bar which stands some way from the gate. I had heard the tolling before, and knew that it signified that yet another mortal had entered the Sardar. It was a depressing sound, and not made less so by my realization that in this case it was I who had entered the mountains. As I listened it occurred to me that the purpose of the bar might not be simply to inform the men of the fair that the Sardar had been entered but to inform the Priest-Kings as well.
"Priest Kings of Gor" page 16/7

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Climbing the Sardar

"The journey to the Hall of Priest-Kings was not as difficult as I had anticipated. At places there were well-worn paths, at others even stairs had been cut in the sides of mountains, stairs worn smooth in the millennia by the passage of countless feet.
Here and there bones littered the path, human bones. Whether these were the remains of men who had starved or frozen in the barren Sardar, or had been destroyed by Priest-Kings, I did not know. Upon occasion some message would be found scratched in the cliffs along the path. Some of these were obscene, cursing the Priest-Kings; others were paeans in their praise; some were cheerful, if in a rather pessimistic way. One I remember was: “Eat, drink and be happy. The rest is nothing.” Others were rather simple, and sometimes sad, such as “No food,” “I”m cold,” “I”m afraid.” One such read, “The mountains are empty. Rena I love you.” I wondered who had written it, and when. The inscription was worn. It had been scratched out in the old Gorean script. It had weathered for perhaps better than a thousand years. But I knew that the mountains were not empty, for I had evidence of Priest-Kings. I continued my journey.
I encountered no animals, nor any growing thing, nothing save the endless black rocks, the black cliffs, and the path cut before me in the dark stone. Gradually the air grew more chill and wisps of snow blew about me; frost began to appear on the steps and I trudged past crevices filled with ice, deposits which had perhaps lain as they were without melting for hundreds of years. I wrapped my cloak more firmly about myself and using my spear as a staff I forced my way upward.
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"
"Priest Kings of Gor" page 17/8

"Now hearing the growl of such a beast I threw back my cloak, lifted my shield and held my spear ready. I was puzzled that I might encounter a larl in the Sardar. How could it have entered the mountains? Perhaps it was native. But on what could it live among these barren crags? For I had seen nothing on which it might prey, unless one might count the men who had entered the mountains, but their bones, scattered, white and frozen, were unsplintered and unfurrowed; they showed no evidence of having suffered the molestation of a larl’s gnawing jaws. I then understood that the larl I had heard must be a larl of Priest-Kings, for no animal and no man enters or exists in the Sardar without the consent of Priest-Kings and if it was fed it must be at the hand of Priest-Kings or their servants."
"Priest Kings of Gor" page 19

"For some reason I did not fear death but felt only anger that these beasts might prevent me from keeping my rendezvous with the Priest-Kings of Gor. I wondered how many men might have turned back at this point, and I remembered the innumerable white, frozen bones on the cliff below. It occurred to me that I might retreat, and return when the beasts had gone. It seemed possible that they might not yet have discovered me. I smiled as I thought of the foolishness of this, for these beasts before me must be the larls of Priest-Kings, guardians of the stronghold of Gor’s gods."
"Priest Kings of Gor" page 21

"The place in which I found myself was considerably wider than the path on which I had trod, for the path had given suddenly onto a fairly large circular area in which I had found the chained larls. One side of this area was formed by the sheer cliff which had been on my right and now curved about making a sort of cup of stone; the other side, on my left, lay partly open to the frightful drop below, but was partly enclosed by another cliff, the side of a second mountain, which impinged on the one I had been climbing. The circular apertures into which the larls’ chains were being drawn were located in these two cliffs. As the chains were drawn back, the protesting larls were dragged to different sides. Thus a passage of sorts was cleared between them, but the passage led only, as far as I could see, to a blank wall of stone. Yet I supposed this seemingly impervious wall must house the portal of the Hall of Priest-Kings."
"Priest Kings of Gor" page 23/4

"I had not long to wait for only a few moments later, perhaps no more than ten Gorean Ihn, a section of stone rolled silently back and upward revealing a rock passage beyond of perhaps some eight feet square. I hesitated, for how did I know but that the chains of the larls might be loosed once I was between them. How did I know what might lie before me in that dark, quiet passage? As I hesitated that moment, I became aware of a motion inside the passage, which gradually became a white-clad rather short, rotund figure."
"Priest Kings of Gor" page 24

"With a start I noticed that the pupils of his eyes were red.
When I started a momentary flicker of annoyance crossed his features, but in an instant he was again his chuckling, affable, bubbling self.
“Come, come,” he said. “Come along, Cabot. We have been waiting for you.”
He knew my name."
"Priest Kings of Gor" page 25/6

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About Priest-Kings

"And so I smelled the passageway and to my nostrils, vague but undeniable, there came an odor that I had never before encountered. It was, as far as I could tell at that time, a simple odor, though later I would learn that it was the complex product of odors yet more simple than itself. I find it impossible to describe this odor, much as one might find it difficult to describe the taste of a citrus fruit to one who had never tasted it or anything much akin to it. It was however slightly acrid, irritating to my nostrils. It reminded me vaguely of the odor of an expended cartridge.
Although there was nothing now with me in the passage it had left its trace.
I knew now that I had not been alone.
I had caught the scent of a Priest-King."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 56

"It stood framed in the doorway.
In its way it was very beautiful, golden and tall, looming over me, framed in that massive portal. It was not more than a yard wide but its head nearly touched the top of the portal and so I would judge that, standing as it did, it must have been nearly eighteen feet high.
It had six legs and a great head like a globe of gold with eyes like vast luminous disks. Its two forelegs, poised and alert, were lifted delicately in front of its body. Its jaws opened and closed once. They moved laterally.
From its head there extended two fragile, jointed appendages, long and covered with short quivering strands of golden hair. These two appendages, like eyes, swept the room once and then seemed to focus on me.
They curved toward me like delicate golden pincers and each of the countless golden strands on those appendages straightened and pointed toward me like a quivering golden needle.
I could not conjecture the nature of the creature’s experience but I knew that I stood within the center of its sensory field.
About its neck there hung a small circular device, a translator of some sort, similar to but more compact than those I had hitherto seen.
I sensed a new set of odors, secreted by what stood before me.
Almost simultaneously a mechanically reproduced voice began to emanate from the translator.
It spoke in Gorean.
I knew what it would say.
“Lo Sardar,” it said. “I am a Priest-King.”
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 75/6

“How old are you?” I asked. “I myself was hatched,” said Misk, “before we brought our world into your solar system.” He looked down at me. “That was more than two million years ago,” he said.
“Then,” I said, “the Nest will never die.”
“It is dying now,” said Misk. “One by one we succumb to the Pleasures of the Golden Beetle. We grow old and there is little left for us. At one time we were rich and filled with life and in that time our great patterns were formed and in another time our arts flourished and then for a very long time our only passion was scientific curiosity, but now even that lessens, even that lessens.” “Why do you not slay the Golden Beetles?” I asked.
“It would be wrong,” said Misk.
“But they kill you,” I said.
“It is well for us to die,” said Misk, “for otherwise the Nest would be eternal and the Nest must not be eternal for how could we love it if it were so?”
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 118

"The Priest-Kings have eyes, which are compound and many-faceted, but they do not much rely on these organs. They are, for them, something like our ears and nose, used as secondary sensors to be relied upon when the most pertinent information in the environment is not relayed by vision, or, in the case of the Priest-Kings, by scent. Accordingly the two golden-haired, jointed appendages protruding from their globelike heads, above the rounded, disklike eyes, are their primary sensory organs. I gather that these appendages are sensitive not only to odors but, due to modification of some of the sensory hairs, may also transform sound vibrations into something meaningful in their experience. Thus, if one wishes, one may speak of them not only as smelling but hearing through these appendages. Apparently hearing is not of great importance, however, to them, considering the small number of hairs modified for this purpose. Oddly enough few of the Priest-Kings whom I questioned on this matter seemed to draw the distinction clearly between hearing and smelling."
"Priest Kings of Gor" page 77/8

"It was at this time that I first saw how Priest-Kings breathed, probably because Sarm's respiratory movements were now more pronounced than they had been hitherto. Muscular contractions in the abdomen take place with the result that air is sucked into the system through four small holes on each side of the abdomen, the same holes serving also as exhalation vents. Usually the breathing cycle, unless one is quite close and listens carefully, cannot be heard, but in the present case I could hear quite clearly from a distance of several feet the quick intake of air through the eight tiny, tubular mouths in Sarm's abdomen, and its almost immediate expellation through the same apertures."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 88/9

"He is a Priest-King," said Misk, "and has eight brains, modifications of the ganglionic net, whereas a creature such as yourself, limited by vertebrae, is likely to develop only one brain."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 120

"He moved his forelegs in a strange parallel pattern, touching himself with each leg at three places on the thorax and one behind the eyes. "Here," he said, "is the true source of our power."
I then realized that he had touched himself at the points of entry taken by the wires which had been infixed in the young Priest-King's body on the stone table in the secret compartment below Misk's chamber. Sarm had pointed to his eight brains."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 145

"I would learn to interpret the emotions and states of Priest-Kings by such signs. Many of these signs would be far less obvious than the ones now displayed in the throes of anger. Impatience, for example, is often indicated by a trembling in the tactile hair on the supporting appendages, as though the creature could not wait to be off; a wandering of attention can be shown by the unconscious movement of the clearing hooks from behind the third joints of the forelegs, suggesting perhaps the creature is thinking of grooming, an occupation in which Priest-Kings, to my mind, spend an inordinate amount of time; I might note, however, in deference to them, that they consider humans a particularly unclean animal and in the tunnels normally confine them for sanitary purposes to carefully restricted areas; the subtlety of these signs might well be illuminated if the indications for a wandering of attention, mentioned above, are contrasted with the superficially similar signs which give evidence that a Priest-King is well or favorably disposed toward another Priest-King, or other creature of any type. In this case there is again the unconscious movement of the cleaning hooks but there is in addition an incipient, but restrained, extension of the forelegs in the direction of the object toward which the Priest-King is well disposed; this suggests to me that the Priest-King is willing to put its cleaning hooks at the disposal of the other, that he is willing to groom it. This may become more comprehensible when it is mentioned that Priest-Kings, with their cleaning hooks, their jaws and their tongues, often groom one another as well as themselves. Hunger, incidentally, is indicated by an acidic exudate which forms at the edges of the jaws giving them a certain moist appearance; thirst, interestingly enough, is indicated by a certain stiffness in the appendages, evident in their movements, and by a certain brownish tarnish that seems to infect the gold of the thorax and abdomen. The most sensitive indicators of mood and attention, of course, as you would probably gather, are the motions and tensility of the antennae."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 85/6

"He himself, of course, did not use a washing-booth but groomed and cleaned himself in the age-old fashion of Priest-Kings, with his cleaning hooks and mouth. Occasionally after we got to know one another better, he would even allow me to groom him, and the first time he allowed me, with the small grooming fork used by favored Muls, to comb his antennae I knew that he trusted me, and liked me, though for what reason I could not tell."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 112

"The Priest-Kings shielded their antennae from the radiation of the sunlit heavens far above.
It sprang into my mind suddenly why they needed men, how dependent they were upon us.
Priest-Kings could not stand the sun!
I looked up at the sky.
And I understood as I had not before what must be the pain, the glory and the agony of the Nuptial Flight. His wings, she had said, had been like showers of gold."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 279

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"For all its size it moved with a delicate, predatory grace. It was perhaps very light for its bulk, or very strong, perhaps both. It moved with a certain deliberate, stalking movement; its tread was regal and yet it seemed almost dainty, almost fastidious; it was almost as if the creature did not care to soil itself by contact with the floor of the passage.
It walked on four extremely long, slender, four jointed stalks that were its supporting legs, and carried its far more muscular, four jointed grasping legs, or appendages, extremely high almost at the level with its jaw, and in front of its body. Each of these grasping appendages terminated in four much smaller delicate hooks like prehensile appendages, the tips of which normally touched one another. I would later learn that the ball at the end of its forelegs from which the smaller prehensile appendages extended, there was a curved, bladed, horn like structure the at could spring forward; this happens spontaneously when the leg's tip is inverted, a motion which at once exposes the horn like blade and withdraws the four prehensile appendages into the protected area beneath it."
"Priest Kings of Gor" page 80/1

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"I TURNED FROM THE RAILING to observe the great ramp which for pasangs in a great spiral approached the platform on which I stood.
Another Priest-King, mounted on a low, oval disk which seemed to slide up the ramp, was approaching.
The new Priest-King looked a great deal like Misk, save that he was larger. I wondered if men of my species would have difficulty telling Priest-Kings apart. I would later learn to do so easily but at first I was often confused. The Priest-Kings themselves distinguish one another by scent but I, of course, would do so by eye.
The oval disk glided to within some forty feet of us, and the golden creature which had ridden it stepped delicately to the ramp.
It approached me, its antennae scrutinizing me carefully.
Then it backed away perhaps some twenty feet.
It seemed to me much like Misk except in size.
Like Misk it wore no clothing and carried no weapons, and its only accouterment was a translator which dangled from its neck.
I would learn later that in scent it wore its rank, caste and station as clearly on its body as an officer in one of the armies of Earth might wear his distinguishing braid and metal bars."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 84

“Are you the leader of the Priest-Kings?” I asked.
“Yes,” said Sarm.
“No,” said Misk.
Sarm’s antennae darted in Misk’s direction.
“Greatest in the Nest is the Mother,” said Misk.
Sarm’s antennae relaxed. “True,” said Sarm.
“I have much to speak of with Priest-Kings,” I said. “If the one whom you call the Mother is chief among you, I wish to see her.”
Sarm rested back on his posterior appendages. His antennae touched one another in a slightly curling movement. “None may see the Mother save her caste attendants and the High Priest-Kings,” said Sarm, “the First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Born.”
“Except on the three great holidays,” said Misk.
Sarm’s antennae twitched angrily."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 87

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"To one side I saw a brownish Priest-King, very thin and angular, wearing the appearances of age but yet his antennae seemed as alert as those of any one of the golden creatures.
My arms and legs were bound with hands of steel to a flat, narrow, wheeled platform; my throat and waist were similarly locked in place.
“May I introduce the Priest-King Kusk,” said Parp, gesturing to the tall, angular figure who loomed to one side. So it was he, I said to myself, who formed Al-Ka and Ba-Ta, he the biologist who was among the first in the Nest."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 253

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The Male

"The room was apparently large, for portions of it were lost in the shadows from the torch. What I could see suggested paneling and instrumentation, banks of scent-needles and gauges, numerous tiered decks of wiring and copper plating. There were on one side of the room, racks of scent-tapes, some of which were spinning slowly, unwinding their tapes through slowly rotating translucent, glowing spheres. These spheres in turn were connected by slender, woven cables of wire to a large, heavy boxlike assembly, made of steel and rather squarish, which was set on wheels. In front of this assembly, one by one, thin metal disks would snap into place, a light would flash as some energy transaction occurred, and then the disk would snap aside, immediately to be replaced by another. Eight wires led from this box into the body of a Priest-King which lay on its back, inert, in the center of the room on a moss-softened stone table.
I held the torch high and looked at the Priest-King, who was rather small for a Priest-King, being only about twelve feet long.
What most astonished me was that he had wings, long, slender, beautiful, golden, translucent wings, folded against his back."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 117

"I looked at the long, golden wings of the creature. "Is it a mutation?" I asked.
"Of course not," said Misk.
"Then what is it?" I asked.
"A male," said Misk. He paused for a long time and the antennae regarded the inert figure on the stone table. "It is the first male born in the Nest in eight thousand years."
"Aren't you a male?" I asked.
"No," said Misk, "nor are the others."
"Then you are female," I said.
"No," said Misk, "in the Nest only the Mother is female."
"But surely," I said, "there must be other females."
"Occasionally," said Misk, "an egg occurred which was female but these were ordered destroyed by Sarm. I myself know of no female egg in the Nest, and I know of only one which has occurred in the last six thousand years."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 117/8

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The Mother

"The Mother was hatched and flew her Nuptial Flight long before the discovery of the stabilization serums," said Misk. "We have managed to retard her aging considerably but eon by eon it has been apparent that our efforts have been less and less successful, and now there are no more eggs."
"I don't understand," I said.
"The Mother is dying," said Misk."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 130

"Inching forward I saw, on the raised platform at this end of the room, the Mother.
For a moment I could not believe that it was real or alive.
It was undoubtedly of the Priest-King kind, and it now was unwinged, but the most incredible feature was the fantastic extent of the abdomen. Its head was little larger than that of an ordinary Priest-King, or its thorax, but its trunk was conjoined to an abdomen which if swollen with eggs might have been scarcely smaller than a city bus. But now this monstrous abdomen, depleted and wrinkled, no longer possessing whatever tensility it might once have had, lay collapsed behind the creature like a flattened sack of brownly tarnished golden ancient leather.
Even with the abdomen empty her legs could not support its weight and she lay on the dais with her jointed legs folded beside her.
Her coloring was not that of the normal Priest-King but darker, more brownish, and here and there black stains discolored her thorax and abdomen.
Her antennae seemed unalert and lacked resilience. They lay back over her head.
Her eyes seemed dull and brown.
I wondered if she were blind.
It was a most ancient creature on which I gazed, the Mother of the Nest.
It was hard to imagine her, uncounted generations ago, with wings of gold in the open air, in the blue sky of Gor, glistening and turning with her lover borne on the high, glorious, swift winds of this distant, savage world. How golden she would have been."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 213

"There was no male, no Father of the Nest, and I supposed the male had died, or had not lived long after her mating. I wondered if, among Priest-Kings, he would have helped her, or if there would have been others from the former Nest, or if she alone would have fallen to earth, to eat the wings that had borne her, and to burrow beneath the mountains to begin the lonely work of the Mother, the creation of the new Nest."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 213

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The Language of Priest-Kings

"THE PRIEST-KINGS HAVE LITTLE or no scent of their own which is detectable by the human nostrils, though one gathers there is a nest odor by which they may identify one another, and that the variations in this nest odor permit identifications of individuals.
What in the passageways I had taken to be the scent of Priest-Kings had actually been the residue of odor-signals which Priest-Kings, like certain social insects of our world, use in communicating with one another.
The slightly acrid odor I had noticed tends to be a common property of all such signals, much as there is a common property to the sound of a human voice, whether it be that of an Englishman, a Bushman, a Chinese or a Gorean, which sets it apart from, say, the growling of animals, the hiss of snakes, the cry of birds."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 77 "I am told that the phonemes of the language of Priest-Kings or, better, what in their language would correspond to phonemes in ours, since their "phonemes" have to do with scent and not sound, number seventy-three. Their number is, of course, potentially infinite, as would be the number of possible phonemes in English, but just as we take a subset of sounds to be English sounds and form our utterances from them, so they take a subset of odors as similarly basic to their speech. The number of familiar, common English phonemes, incidentally, is in the neighborhood of fifty.
The morphemes of the language of Priest-Kings, those smallest intelligible information bits, in particular, roots and affixes, are, of course, like the morphemes of English, extremely numerous. The normal morpheme, in their language as in ours, consists of a sequence of phonemes. For example, in English 'bit' is one morpheme but three phonemes, as will appear clear if given some reflection. Similarly in the language of the Priest-Kings, the seventy-three "phonemes" or basic scents are used to form the meaning units of the language, and a single morpheme of Priest-Kings may consist of a complex set of odors."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 79

"I was told, incidentally, that the language of the Priest-Kings does possess more morphemes than English but I do not know if the report is truthful or not, for Priest-Kings tend to be somewhat touchy on the matter of any comparisons, particularly those to their disadvantage or putative disadvantage, with organisms of what they regard as the lower orders. On the other hand it may well be the case that, as a matter of fact, the morpheme set of the language of Priest-Kings is indeed larger than that of English. I simply do not know."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 80

"In fact, though I speak of hearing and smelling, I am not sure that these expressions are altogether meaningful when applied to Priest-Kings. I speak of them smelling and hearing through the sensory appendages, but what the quality of their experience may be I am uncertain. For example, does a Priest-King have the same qualitative experience that I do when we are confronted by the same scent? I am inclined to doubt it, for their music, which consists of rhapsodies of odors produced by instruments constructed for this purpose, and often played by Priest-Kings, some of whom I am told are far more skillful than others, is intolerable to my ear, or I should say, nose."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 78

"Communication by odor-signals can in certain circumstances be extremely efficient, though it can be disadvantageous in others. For example, an odor can carry, to the sensory appendages of a Priest-King, much further than the shout or cry of a man to another man. Moreover, if not too much time is allowed to elapse, a Priest-King may leave a message in his chamber or in a corridor for another Priest-King, and the other may arrive later and interpret it. A disadvantage of this mode of communication, of course, is that the message may be understood by strangers or others for whom it is not intended. One must be careful of what one says in the tunnels of Priest-Kings for one’s words may linger after one, until they sufficiently dissipate to be little more than a meaningless blur of scent.
For longer periods of time there are various devices for recording a message, without relying on complex mechanical devices. The simplest and one of the most fascinating is a chemically treated rope of clothlike material which the Priest-King, beginning at an end bearing a certain scent, saturates with the odors of his message. This coiled message-rope then retains the odors indefinitely and when another Priest-King wishes to read the message he unrolls it slowly scanning it serially with the jointed sensory appendages."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 78/9

"The longer I stayed in the Nest the more acute became my sense of smell, and it was an embarrassing revelation to me to discover how unaware I had become of these varied, rich sensory cues so abundantly available in my environment. I was given a translator by Misk and I would utter Gorean expressions into it and then wait for the translation into the language of the Priest-Kings, and in this way, after a time, I became capable of recognizing numerous meaningful odors. The first odor I came to recognize was Misk’s name, and it was delightful to discover, as I became more practiced and sensitive, that the odor was the same as his own.
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 110

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The Hall

"AS I FOLLOWED THE MAN who called himself Parp down the stone passage the portal behind me closed. I remember one last glimpse of the Sardar Range, the path I had climbed, the cold, blue sky and two snowy larls, one chained on either side of the entrance.
My host did not speak but led the way with a merry stride, an almost constant curl of smoke from his little round pipe encircling his bald pate and muttonchop whiskers and drifting back down the passage.
The passage was lit with energy bulbs, of the sort which I had encountered in the tunnel of Marlenus which led beneath the walls of Ar. There was nothing in the lighting of the passage, or its construction, to suggest that the Priest-Kings’ Caste of Builders, if they had one, was any more advanced than that of the men below the mountains. Too, the passage was devoid of ornament, lacking the mosaics and tapestries with which the beauty-loving Goreans below the mountains are wont to glorify the places of their own habitation. The Priest-Kings, as far as I could tell, had no art. Perhaps they would regard it as a useless excrescence detracting from the more sober values of life, such as, I supposed, study, meditation and the manipulation of the lives of men.
I noted that the passage which I trod was well worn. It had been polished by the sandals of countless men and women who had walked before where I now walked, perhaps thousands of years ago, perhaps yesterday, perhaps this morning. Then we came to a large hall. It was plain, but in its sheer size it possessed a severe, lofty grandeur.
At the entrance to this room, or chamber, I stopped, overcome with a certain sense of awe.
I found myself on the brink of entering what appeared to be a great and perfect dome, having a diameter I am sure of at least a thousand yards. I was pleased to see that its top was a sparkling curvature of some transparent substance, perhaps a special glass or plastic, for no glass or plastic with which I was familiar would be likely to withstand the stresses generated by such a structure. Beyond the dome I could see the welcome blue sky."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 27/8

"In this great dome there was nothing save that at its very center there was a high dais and on this dais there was a large throne carved from a single block of stone.
It seemed to take us a long time to reach the dais. Our footsteps echoed hollowly across the great stone floor."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 28

"I took the weapon and tossed it toward the foot of the dais. There was a sudden splintering burst of heat and I fell back, staggering. I shook my head to drive out the scarlet stars that seemed to race before my eyes. At the foot of the dais there was a bit of soot and some droplets of melted bronze."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 30

The Chambers

"I lay on my back on a large stone platform, some twelve feet square. Beneath me, twisted and tangled, lay heavy sleeping pelts, thick robes of fur, numerous sheets of scarlet silk.
A cushion or two of yellow silk lay randomly on the platform.
The room in which I lay was large, perhaps forty feet square, and the sleeping platform lay at one end of the room but not touching the wall. The walls were of plain dark stone with energy bulbs fixed in them; the furnishings seemed to consist mostly of two or three large chests against one wall. There were no windows. The entire aspect was one of severity.
There was no door on the room but there was a great portal, perhaps twelve feet wide and eighteen feet high. I could see a large passageway beyond."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 33

"The girl rose and carried the bronze laver to a drain in one corner of the room and emptied it.
She walked well.
She then moved her hand past a glass disk in the wall and water emerged from a concealed aperture and curved into the shallow bowl. She rinsed the bowl and refilled it, and then took another towel of soft linen from a carved chest against the wall. She then again approached the stone platform and knelt before me, lifting the bowl. I took it and first drank from it and then set it on the stone platform before me, and washed. I wiped my face with the towel. She then gathered up the shaving knife, the towels I had used, and the bowl and went again to one side of the room.
She was very graceful, very lovely.
She rinsed the bowl again and set it against the wall to drain dry. She then rinsed and dried the shaving knife and put it into one of the chests. Then with a motion of her hand, which did not touch the wall, she opened a small, circular panel into which she dropped the two towels which I had used. When they had disappeared the circular panel closed."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 34

"I arose and walked through the portal and found myself in a long stone passageway beyond it which stretched as far as I could see in either direction. It was lit with energy bulbs. In this passageway, placed regularly but staggered from one another, about fifty yards apart, were numerous portals like the one I had just passed through. From within any given room, one could not look into any other. None of these portals were hung with doors or gates, nor as far as I could see had they ever been hinged.
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 36

"Outside the chamber, carved over the portal, I saw something I had not noted before. In Gorean notation, the numeral “708” was carved above the door. I now understood the meaning of the numeral on the girl’s collar."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 37

"Stores of food were kept in concealed cabinets at one side of the room, which were opened in the same fashion as the other apertures I had observed earlier. At my command Vika demonstrated for me the manner of opening and closing the storage and disposal areas in her unusual kitchen.
The temperature of the water which sprang from the wall tap, I learned, was regulated by the direction in which the shadow of a hand fell across a light-sensitive cell above the tap; the amount of water was correlated with the speed with which the hand passed before the sensor. I was interested to note that one received cold water by a shadow passing from right to left and hot water by a shadow passing from left to right."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 44

"The food which Vika withdrew from the storage apertures was not refrigerated but was protected by something resembling a foil of blue plastic. It was fresh and appetizing.
First she boiled and simmered a kettle of Sullage, a common Gorean soup consisting of three standard ingredients and, as it is said, whatever else may be found, saving only the rocks of the field. (...)
The meat was a steak, cut from the loin of a bosk, (...). Vika seared this meat, as thick as the forearm of a warrior, on a small iron grill over a kindling of charcoal cylinders, so that the thin margin of the outside was black, crisp and flaky and sealed within by the touch of the fire was the blood-rich flesh, hot and fat with juice.
Beyond the Sullage and the bosk steak there was the inevitable flat, rounded loaf of the yellow Sa-Tarna bread.
The meal was completed by a handful of grapes and a draught of water from the wall tap. The grapes were purple and, I suppose, Ta grapes from the lower vineyards of the terraced island of Cos some four hundred pasangs from Port Kar."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 44/5

"Although it was late, according to the chamber chronometer, fixed in the lid of one of the chests, I prepared to leave the room. Unfortunately there was no natural light in the room and so one could not judge the time by the sun or the stars and moons of Gor. I missed them. Since I had awakened, the energy bulbs had continued to burn at a constant and undiminished rate.
I had washed as well as I could squatting in the stream of water which emerged from the wall.
In one of the chests against the wall I had found, among the garments of various other castes, a warrior’s tunic. I donned this, as my own had been torn by the larl’s claws.
Vika had unrolled a straw mat which she placed on the floor at the foot of the great stone couch in the chamber. On this, wrapped in a light blanket, her chin on her knees, she sat watching me.
A heavy slave ring was set in the bottom of the couch to which I might have, had I pleased, chained her."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 48

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The Vestibule

"After perhaps four or five minutes the elevator stopped and the Priest-King and I emerged.
The Priest-King rested back on the two posterior supporting appendages and with a small cleaning hook behind the third joint of one of his forelegs began to comb his antennae.
These are the tunnels of the Priest-Kings," it said.
I looked about me and found myself on a high, railed platform, overlooking a vast circular artificial canyon, lined with bridges and terraces. In the depths of this canyon and on the terraces that mounted its sides were innumerable structures, largely geometrical solids--cones, cylinders, lofty cubes, domes, spheres and such--of various sizes, colors and illuminations, many of which were windowed and possessed of numerous floors, some of which even towered to the level of the platform where I stood, some of which soared even higher into the lofty reaches of the vast dome that arched over the canyon like a stone sky.
I stood on the platform, my hands clenched on the railing, staggered by what I saw.
The light of energy bulbs set in the walls and in the dome like stars shed a brilliant light on the entire canyon.
"This," said the Priest-King, still grooming the golden hairs of his antennae, "is the vestibule of our dominion."
From my position on the platform I could see numerous tunnels at many levels leading out of the canyon, perhaps to other such monstrous cavities, filled with more such structures.
I wondered what would be the function of the structures, probably barracks, factories, storehouses."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 81/2

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The Plazza

"ON A MARBLE CIRCLE OF some half pasang in width, in the bottom of that vast, brilliantly lit, many-colored artificial canyon the oval disk diminished its speed and drew to a stop.
I found myself in some sort of plaza, surrounded by the fantastic architecture of the Nest of Priest-Kings. The plaza was crowded, not only with Priest-Kings but even more with various creatures of other forms and natures. Among them I saw men and women, barefoot with shaven heads, clad in short purple tunics that reflected the various lights of the plaza as though they might have been formed of some reflective plastic."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 89/90

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The Processing Room

"The room in which we found ourselves was substantially empty, and not too much different in size and shape from the room in which my processing had been initiated. There was, however, no observation screen and no wall disks.
The only object in the room other than ourselves was a heavy, globelike contrivance, high over our heads, attached to a set of jointed extensions fastened in the ceiling of the chamber. In the floor side of the globelike contrivance there was an adjustable opening which was now of a diameter of perhaps six inches. Numerous wires extended from the globe along the metal extensions and into a panel in the ceiling. Also, the globe itself bristled with various devices, nodes, switches, coils, disks, lights. (...)
A panel to the side slid open and two plastic-clad Muls entered. Leaning forward they were pushing a large, flat circular disk. The disk floated on a thin gas cushion. They placed the disk directly under the globelike object in the ceiling. On the disk there was mounted a narrow, closed cylinder of transparent plastic. It was approximately eighteen inches in diameter and apparently constructed so that it might be opened along its vertical axis, although it was now securely locked. In the cylinder, save for her head which was held in place by a circular opening in the top of the cylinder, was a girl, clad in the traditional robes of concealment, even to the veil, whose gloved hands pressed helplessly against the interior of the cylinder. (...)
The attendants now busied themselves with their work. One of them climbed onto the disk beside the plastic cylinder. The other went to a panel at the side of the room and by pushing certain buttons and turning a dial, began to lower the globe object down toward the girl’s head.
I pitied her as she turned her head up and saw the large object, with an electronic hum, descend slowly towards her. She gave a long, frantic, terrified, wild scream and squirmed about in the cylinder, her small gloved fists striking futilely at the strong, curved plastic walls that confined her. The attendant who stood on the disk then, to her horror, pushed back the hood of her garment and the ornate, beautiful veils that masked her features, face-stripping her as casually as one might remove a scarf. She trembled in the cylinder, pressing her small hands against it, and wept. I noted that her hair was brown and fine, her eyes dark and longly lashed. Her mouth was lovely, her throat white and beautiful. Her final scream was muffled as the attendant adjusted the heavy globe over her head and locked it in place. His companion then snapped a switch at the wall panel and the globe seemed to come alive, humming and clicking, coils suddenly glowing and tiny signal lights flashing on and off.
I wondered if the girl knew that a plate of her brain traces was being prepared, which would be correlated with the sensors guarding the quarters of a Chamber Slave.
While the globe did its work, and held the girl’s head in place, the attendant at the cylinder unlocked the five latches which held it shut and swung it open. Swiftly and efficiently he placed her wrists in retaining devices mounted in the cylinder and, with a small, curved knife, removed her clothing, which he cast aside. Bending to a panel in the disk he took out three objects: the long, classic, white garment of a Chamber Slave, which was contained in a wrapper of blue plastic; a slave collar; and an object of which I did not immediately grasp the import, a small, flat boxlike object which bore the upraised figure that, in cursive Gorean script, is the first letter in the expression for ‘slave girl”.
On the latter object he pressed a switch and almost immediately, before I became aware of it, the upraised portion turned white with heat.(...)
The attendant on the disk had now broken open the blue plastic wrapper that held, fresh and folded, the garment of a Chamber Slave. This, with its clasp on the left shoulder, he fastened on the girl. He then sprung her wrists free of the retaining devices and reclosed the plastic cylinder, locking her inside once again. She was now contained precisely as she had been originally save that she had exchanged the thick, multitudinous, ornate Robes of Concealment, the proud, cumbersome insignia of the free woman of Gor, for the simple garment of a Chamber Slave and a burning wound on her left thigh.
The globelike object which had been fastened over her head now stopped humming and flashing, and the attendant on the disk opened it, releasing the girl’s head. He shoved the globe up and a foot or so to the side and then with a quick movement reclosed it in such a way that once again its floorside aperture described an opening of approximately six inches in diameter. The attendant at the wall panel then pressed a button and the entire apparatus raised on its extension arms to the ceiling.
As well as she could, sobbing and trembling, the girl looked downward through the transparent top of the plastic cylinder and regarded herself. She now saw herself in a strange garment. She touched her left hand to her thigh and cried out in pain.
She shook her head, her eyes bursting with tears. “You don’t understand,” she whimpered. “I am an offering to the Priest-Kings from the Initiates of Ar.”
The attendant on the disk then bent down and picked up the slender, graceful metal collar. (...)"
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 154/5

"THE ARMS OF THE METAL device seized me and I found myself held helplessly by the arms suspended some feet above the floor.
Behind me the panel had slid shut.
The room was rather large, bleak and coated with plastic. It seemed to be bare except that at one end there were several metal disks in the wall and, high in the wall, there was a transparent shield. Viewing me antiseptically through this shield was the face of a Priest-King.
“May you bathe in the dung of Slime Worms,” I called to him cheerfully. I hoped he had a translator.
Two circular metal plates in the wall beneath the shield had slid upward and suddenly long metal arms had telescoped outwards and reached for me.
For an instant I had considered scrambling out of their reach but then I had sensed that there would be no escape in the smooth, closed, carefully prepared room in which I found myself.
The metal arms had locked on me and lifted me from the floor.
The Priest-King behind the shield did not seem to notice my remark. I supposed he did not have a translator.
As I dangled there to my irritation further devices manipulated by the Priest-King emerged from the wall and extended towards me.
One of these with maddening delicacy snipped the clothing from my body, even cutting the thongs of my sandals. Another deftly forced a large, ugly pellet down my throat.
Considering the size of a Priest-King and the comparatively small scale of these operations I gathered that the reduction gearing on the mechanical appendages must be considerable. Moreover the accuracy with which the operations were performed suggested a magnification of some sort. I would learn later that practically the entire wall which faced me was such a device, being in effect a very large scent-reinforcer. But at the time I was in no mood to admire the engineering talents of my captors.
“May your antennae be soaked in grease!” I called to my tormentor.
His antennae stiffened and then curled a bit at the tips.
I was pleased. Apparently he did have a translator.
I was considering my next insult when the two arms which held me swung me over a metal cage with a double floor, the higher consisting of narrow bars set in a wide mesh and the lower consisting simply of a white plastic tray.
The metal appendages which held me suddenly sprang open and I was dropped into the cage.
I sprang to my feet but the top of the cage had clicked shut.
I wanted to try the bars but already I felt sick and I sank to the bottom of the cage.
I was no longer interested in insulting Priest-Kings.
I remember looking up and seeing its antennae curling.
It took only two or three minutes for the pellet to do its work and it is not with pleasure that I recall those minutes.
Finally the plastic tray neatly slid out from beneath the cage and swiftly disappeared through a low, wide panel in the left wall.
I gratefully noted its departure.
Then the entire cage, on a track of some sort, began to move through an opening which appeared in the right wall.
In the following journey the cage was successively submerged in various solutions of various temperatures and densities, some of which, perhaps because I was still ill, I found exceedingly noxious.
Had I been less ill I would undoubtedly have been more offended.
At last after I, sputtering and choking, had been duly cleansed and rinsed several times, and then it seemed several times again, the cage began to move slowly, mercifully, between vents from which blasts of hot air issued, and, eventually, it passed slowly between an assortment of humming projection points for wide-beam rays, some of which were visible to my eye, being yellow, red and a refulgent green.
I would later learn that these rays, which passed through my body as easily and harmlessly as sunlight through glass, were indexed to the metabolic physiology of various organisms which can infect Priest-Kings. I would also learn that the last known free instance of such an organism had occurred more than four thousand years before. In the next few weeks in the Nest I would occasionally come upon diseased Muls. The organisms which afflict them are apparently harmless to Priest-Kings and thus allowed to survive. Indeed, they are regarded as Matoks, in the Nest, but not of the Nest, and are thus to be tolerated with equanimity.
I was still quite ill when, clad in a red plastic tunic, I rejoined the two slaves in the hall outside the door."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 106/8

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The Scanning Room

"It is said below the mountains that Priest-Kings know all that occurs on Gor."
"Nonsense," said Misk. "But perhaps I shall show you the Scanning Room someday. We have four hundred Priest-Kings who operate the scanners, and we are accordingly well informed. For example, if there is a violation of our weapons laws we usually, sooner or later, discover it and after determining the coordinates put into effect the Flame Death Mechanism."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 125

"I looked about the room. It was an exceedingly long chamber and built on four levels, almost like steps. Along each of these levels, spaced a few feet from one another, were the observation cubes, which resembled cubes of transparent glass, and were approximately sixteen feet square. I was told by Sarm that there were four hundred such cubes in the room, and monitoring each, I could see a Priest-King, tall, alert, unmoving. I walked along one of the levels, gazing into the cubes. Most of them were simply filled with the passing scenery of Gor; once I saw a city, but what city it was I could not tell."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 136

"Patterns of small ships, not satellites, invisible from the ground and remotely controlled, carry the lenses and receptors which beam information to the Sardar. I suggested to Sarm that satellites would be less expensive to maintain in flight but he denied this. I would not have made this suggestion at a later time but then I did not understand the Priest-Kings” utilization of gravity.
The reason for observation within the atmosphere," said Sarm, "is that it is simpler to get more definition in the signal because of greater proximity to its source. To get comparable definition in an extra-atmospheric surveillance device would require more refined equipment.
The receptors on the surveillance craft were equipped to handle patterns of light, sound and scent, which, selectively collected and reconcentrated, were beamed to the Sardar for processing and analysis. Reconstituted in large observation cubes these patterns might then be monitored by Priest-Kings. Provisions were available also, as you might suppose, for taping the transmissions of the surveillance craft."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 135

"You are seeing through the eyes of an Implanted One," said Sarm.
I gasped.
Sarm's antennae curled. "Yes," he said. "the pupils of his eyes have been replaced with lenses and a control net and transmitting device have been fused with his brain tissue. He himself is now unconscious, for the control net is activated. Later we will allow him to rest, and he will see and hear and think again for himself."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 136

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Operating Chamber

"I looked about the room, turning my head painfully, and saw that the room was some sort of operating chamber, filled with instrumentation, with racks of delicate tongs and knives. In one corner there was a large drumlike machine with a pressurized door which might have been a sterilizer."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 253

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The Dome

"I did not object to the time I spent with Sarm, however, for he taught me far more of the Nest in a much shorter time than would have otherwise been possible. With him at my side I had access to many areas which would otherwise have been closed to a human.
One of the latter was the power source of the Priest-Kings, the great plant wherein the basic energy is generated for their many works and machines.
"Sometimes this is spoken of as the Home Stone of all Gor," said Sarm, as we walked the long, winding, iron spiral that clung to the side of a vast, transparent blue dome. Within that dome, burning and glowing, emitting a bluish, combustive refulgence, was a huge, crystalline reticulated hemisphere.
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 143/4

"At last we had reached the very apex of the great blue dome and I could see the glowing, bluish, refulgent, reticulated hemisphere far below me.
Surrounding the bluish dome, in a greater concentric dome of stone, I saw walkway upon walkway of paneling and instrumentation. Here and there Priest-Kings moved lightly about, occasionally noting the movements of scent-needles, sometimes delicately adjusting a dial with the nimble, hooklike appendages at the tips of their forelegs.
I supposed the dome to be a reactor of some sort."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 144/5

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Mother's Chamber

I followed these scents and soon found myself peering into an immense chamber. Its ceiling was only perhaps a hundred feet high but its length and width were considerable and it was filled with golden Priest-Kings, garlanded in green and wearing about their necks that shining, jangling circle of tiny, silverish tools.
There were perhaps a thousand Priest-Kings in the Nest, and I supposed that this might be almost all the Priest-Kings in the Nest, save perhaps those that might be essentially placed at a few minimum posts, such as the guard at the steel barricade and perhaps some in the Scanning Chamber or, more likely, the Power Plant.
Much of the business of the Nest, of course, even relatively technical matters, was carried on by trained Muls.
The Priest-Kings stood motionless in great circling, tiered rows which spread concentrically outward as though from a stage in an ancient theater. To one side I could see four Priest-Kings handling the knobs of a large scent-producer, about the size of a steel room. There were perhaps hundreds of knobs on each side and one Priest-King on each side with great skill and apparent rhythm touched one knob after another in intricate patterns.
I had little doubt but that these Priest-Kings were the most highly regarded musicians of the Nest, that they should be chosen to play together on the great Feast of Tola.
The antennae of the thousand Priest-Kings seemed almost motionless so intent were they on the beauties of the music."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 212

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Misk's Chamber

"Indeed, it seemed to me far more luxurious than the appointments in Misk’s own chamber, which seemed utterly bare except for the feed trough and numerous compartments, dials, switches and plugs mounted in one wall. The Priest-Kings eat and sleep standing and never lie down, except perhaps it be to die.
The bareness of Misk’s chambers was, however, as it turned out, only an apparent bareness to a visually oriented organism such as myself. Actually the walls, ceilings and floor were covered with what, to a Priest-King, were excruciatingly beautiful scent-patterns. Indeed, Misk informed me that the patterns in his chamber had been laid down by some of the greatest artists in the Nest."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 110

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Tarl's Case

My case was a transparent plastic cube of perhaps eight feet square, with ventilation holes and a sliding plastic door. There was no lock on the door and thus I could come and go as I pleased.
Inside the cube there were canisters of Mul-Fungus, a bowl, a ladle, a wooden-bladed Fungus-Knife; a wooden-headed Fungus-Mallet; a convenient tube of Mul-Pellets, which discharged its contents one at a time following my depressing a lever in the bottom of the tube; and a large, inverted jar of water, by means of which an attached, somewhat shallow, watering pan was kept filled. In one corner of the case there was a large, circular padding a few inches deep of soft, rough-cut, reddish moss which was not uncomfortable and was changed daily.
Adjoining the cube, reached from the cube by sliding plastic panels, were a lavatory facility and a washing-booth.
The washing-booth was remarkably like the showers with which we are familiar except that one may not regulate the flow of fluid. One turns on the fluid by stepping into the booth and its amount and temperature are controlled automatically. I had naturally supposed the fluid to be simply water which it closely resembled in appearance, and once had tried to fill my bowl for the morning meal there, rather than ladling the water out of the water pan.
Choking, my mouth burning, I spat it out in the booth.
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 110/1

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The Vivarium

At last we came to an opening which gave onto something of the sort for which I was looking, a rather small complex of buildings, where I saw several Muls at work but no Priest-Kings.
I also noted, against the far wall of the brilliantly lit area, tiers and tiers of plastic cases, much like the one I had occupied in Misk’s compartment. Some of these cases were occupied by Muls, male or female, sometimes both. Unlike the case in Misk’s compartment and others I had seen, these were apparently locked.
Fungus, water and pellets, and whatever else was needed, were apparently administered to the occupants of these cases from the outside by the Muls who attended them.
I was reminded a bit of a zoo with its cages. Indeed, as I spied through the grille I saw that not all of the cases were occupied by humans but some by a variety of other organisms, some of the types with which I was familiar in the Nest but others not, and some of the others were, as far as I could tell, even mammals.
There was, I could see, a pair of sleen in one case, and two larls in another pair of cases, with a sliding partition between them. I saw one humanoid creature, small with a receding forehead and excessively hairy face and body, bounding about in one case, racing along and leaping with his feet against the wall and then with the momentum established dashing along the next wall of the case and then dropping to the floor to repeat again this peculiar circuit. In a vast low case, on the floor of which apparently grew real grass, I saw a pair of shaggy, long-horned bosk grazing, and in the same case but in a different corner was a small herd, no more than five adult animals, a proud male and four does, of tabuk, the single-horned, golden Gorean antelope. When one of the does moved I saw that moving beside her with dainty steps were two young tabuk, the first I had ever seen, for the young of the tabuk seldom venture far from the shaded, leafy bowers of their birth in the tangled Ka-la-na thickets of Gor. Their single horns were little more than velvety stubs on their foreheads and I saw that their hide, unlike that of the adults, was a mottled yellow and brown. When one of the attendant Muls happened to pass near the case the two little tabuk immediately froze, becoming almost invisible, and the mother, her bright golden pelt gleaming, began to prance away from them, while the angry male lowered his head against the Mul and trotted in a threatening manner to the plastic barrier.
There were several other creatures in the cases but I am not sure of their classification. I could, however, recognize a row of brown varts, clinging upside down like large matted fists of teeth and fur and leather on the heavy, bare, scarred branch in their case. I saw bones, perhaps human bones, in the bottom of their case.
There was a huge, apparently flightless bird stalking about in another case. From its beak I judged it to be carnivorous.
In another case, somnolent and swollen, I saw a rare golden hith, a Gorean python whose body, even when unfed, it would be difficult for a full-grown man to encircle with his arms.
In none of these cases did I spy a tarn, one of the great, predatory saddle birds of Gor, perhaps because they do not thrive well in captivity. To live a tarn must fly, high, far and often. A Gorean saying has it that they are brothers of the wind, and how could one expect such a creature to survive confinement? Like its brother the wind when the tarn is not free it has no choice but to die.
As I gazed on this strange assemblage of creatures in the tiered cases it seemed clear to me that I must be gazing upon one of the vivaria of which I had heard Sarm speak."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 190/1

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"What are the three great holidays?" I asked.
"The Nest Feast Cycle," said Misk, "Tola, Tolam and Tolama."
"What are these feasts?" I asked.
"They are the Anniversary of the Nuptial Flight," said Misk, "the Feast of the Deposition of the First Egg and the Celebration of the Hatching of the First Egg."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 87

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Retaining Gur

“It is near the Feast of Tola,” said Sarm, “and it is a time of pleasure and hospitality in the Nest of Priest-Kings, a time in which Priest-Kings are well disposed to all living things, whatever be their order.”
“I am pleased to hear this,” I said. “What are the duties of Misk which keep him from his chamber?”
“In honor of the Feast of Tola,” said Sarm, “he is now pleased to retain Gur.”
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 131/2

I FOLLOWED MUL-AL-KA AND MUL-Ba-Ta into a damp, high, vaulted chamber, unlit by energy bulbs. The sides of the chamber were formed of some rough, cementlike substance in which numerous rocks of various sizes and shapes inhered as in a conglomerate mass.
At the entrance to the chamber, from a rack, Mul-Al-Ka had taken a Mul-Torch and broken off its end. Holding this over his head he illuminated those portions of the chamber to which the light of the torch would reach.
“This must be a very old portion of the Nest,” said Mul-Al-Ka. (...)
Clinging to the ceiling of the chamber were numerous dark, distended shapes, apparently Priest-Kings but with abdomens swollen grotesquely. They did not move.(...)
We listened carefully and in the distance it seemed we heard, incredibly enough, the mournful singing of human voices, as though of many men, and the sound was as we determined by listening for a minute or two gradually nearing. (...)
The singing grew louder.
It was a sad song, mournful and slow, almost a dirgelike chant.
The words were in archaic Gorean which I find very difficult to understand. On the surface it is spoken by none but the members of the Caste of Initiates who use it primarily in their numerous and complex rituals. As nearly as I could make it out the song, though sad, was a paean of some sort to Priest-Kings, and mentioned the Feast of Tola and Gur. The refrain, almost constantly repeated, was something to the effect that We Have Come for Gur, On the Feast of Tola We Have Come for Gur, We Rejoice For on the Feast of Tola We Have Come for Gur.
Then, as we crouched in the darkness of the far side of the chamber, the doors opposite us swung open and we observed two long lines of strange men, marching abreast, each of whom carried a Mul-Torch in one hand and in the other by a handle what resembled a deflated wineskin of golden leather.(...)
The men who came through the door in the long mournful procession may have been of the human kind or they may not have been. They were shaven and clad in plastic as are all Muls of the Nest, but their torsos seemed smaller and rounder than those of a human being and their legs and arms seemed extraordinarily long for their body size and the hands and feet seemed unusually wide. The feet had no toes but were rather disklike, fleshy cushions on which they padded silently along, and similarly on the palms of their wide hands there seemed to be a fleshy disk, which glistened in the blue light of the Mul-Torches. Most strange perhaps was the shape and width of the eyes, for they were very large, perhaps three inches in width, and were round and dark and shining, much like the eyes of a nocturnal animal.
I wondered at what manner of creature they were.
As more of them filed abreast into the room the increased torchlight well illuminated the chamber and I quietly warned my companions to make no movement. I could now see the Priest-Kings clearly where they clung upside down to the ceiling, the great swollen abdomens almost dwarfing their thoraxes and heads. Then to my amazement, one by one, the strange creatures, disdaining the bars near the door began simply to pad up the almost vertical walls to the Priest-Kings and then, astonishingly, began to walk upside down on the ceiling. Where they stepped I could see a glistening disk of exudate which they had undoubtedly secreted from the fleshy pads which served them as feet. While the creatures remaining on the floor continued their mournful paean, their fellow creatures on the walls and ceiling, still carrying their torches, and scattering wild shadows of their own bodies and those of swollen Priest-Kings against the ceiling, began to fill their golden vessels from the mouths of the Priest-Kings. Many times was a golden vessel held for a Priest-King as it slowly yielded whatever had been stored in its abdomen to the Muls.
There seemed to be almost an indefinite number of the Muls and of clinging Priest-Kings there were perhaps a hundred. The strange procession to and fro up the walls and across the ceiling to Priest-Kings and back down to the floor, continued for more than an hour, during which time the Muls who stood below, some of them having returned with a full vessel, never ceased to chant their mournful paean.
The Muls made no use of the bars and from this I gathered that they might have been placed where they were in ancient times before there were such creatures to serve Priest-Kings.
I assumed that the exudate or whatever it might be that had been taken from the Priest-Kings was Gur, and that I now understood what it was to retain Gur.
Finally the last of the unusual Muls stood below on the stone flooring.
In all this time not one of them had so much as glanced in our direction, so single-minded were they in their work. When not actively engaged in gathering Gur their round dark eyes were lifted like dark curves to the Priest-Kings who clung to the ceiling far over their heads.
At last I saw one Priest-King move from the ceiling and climb backwards down the wall. His abdomen drained of Gur was now normal and he stalked regally to the door, moving on those light, feathery feet with the delicate steps of one of nature’s masters. When there several Muls flanked him on either side, still singing, and holding their torches and carrying their vessels which now brimmed with a pale, milky substance, something like white, diluted honey. The Priest-King, escorted by Muls, then began to move slowly, step by majestic step, down the passage outside of the chamber. He was followed by another Priest-King, and then another, until all but one Priest-King had departed the chamber. In the light of the last torches which left the chamber I could see that there remained one Priest-King who, though emptied of Gur, still clung to the ceiling. A heavy chain, fastened to a ring in the ceiling, led to a thick metal band which was locked about his narrow trunk between the thorax and the abdomen. It was Misk."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 165/8

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"It is near the Feast of Tola," said Sarm, " and it is a time of pleasure and hospitality in the Nest of the Priest-Kings, a time in which Priest-Kings are well disposed to all living things, whatever be their order."
"I am pleased to hear this," I said. "What are the duties of Misk which keep him from his chamber?"
"In honor of the Feast of Tola," said Sarm, "he is now pleased to retain Gur."
"I don't understand," I said."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 131

"In the morning, after the hour of the first feeding, Sarm entered Misk’s compartment, where I was waiting for him. To my surprise his head was crowned with an aromatic wreath of green leaves, the first thing green I had seen in the Nest, and about his neck there hung, besides the invariable translator, a necklace, perhaps of accouterments, perhaps of pure ornaments, small pieces of metal, some shallow and rounded like tiny scoops, others rounded and pointed, others slender and bladed. His entire person I also noted was anointed with unusual and penetrating scents.
“It is the Feast of Tola--the Feast of the Nuptial Flight,” said Sarm. “It is fitting that your work should be done today.”
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 147/8

“Why,” I asked, “are you adorned as you are today?”
“It is the Feast of Tola,” said Sarm, “the Feast of the Nuptial Flight.” “Where did you get green leaves?” I asked.
“We grow them in special chambers under lamps,” said Sarm. “They are worn on Tola by all Priest-Kings in memory of the Nuptial Flight, for the Nuptial Flight takes place above the ground in the sun and there on the surface there are many things which are green.”
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 149

"Sarm’s foreleg touched the metals dangling from his necklace.
“These, too,” he said, “have their significance.”
“They are an ornament,” I suggested, “in honor of the Feast of Tola.”
“More than that,” said Sarm, “look at them closely.”
I approached Sarm and regarded the pieces of metal. Some of them reminded me of shallow scoops, others of awls, others of knives.
“They are tools,” I said.
“Long ago,” said Sarm, “in Nests long before this one, in times of which you cannot conceive, it was by means of these small things that my people began the journey that led in time to Priest-Kings.”
“But what of the modifications of the ganglionic net?” I asked.
“These things,” said Sarm, “may be even older than the modifications of the net. It is possible that had it not been for them and the changes they wrought in an ancient form of life there might have been no such modifications, for such modifications might then have been of little practical utility and thus, if they had occurred, might not have been perpetuated.”
“Then it might seem,” I proposed, somewhat maliciously, “that from one point of view, contrary to your suggestion of yesterday, that these tiny pieces of metal--and not the modifications of the ganglionic net--are the true and ultimate source of the Priest-Kings’ power.”
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 149

"As the musicians continued to produce their rhapsodic, involute, rhythms of aroma on the scent-producer, one Priest-King at a time, one after the other, would slowly stalk forward and approach the Platform of the Mother.
There, from a great golden bowl, about five feet deep and with a diameter of perhaps twenty feet, setting on a heavy tripod, he would take a bit of whitish liquid, undoubtedly Gur, in his mouth.
He took no more than a taste and the bowl, though the Feast of Tola was well advanced, was still almost brimming. He would then approach the Mother very slowly and lower his head to hers. With great gentleness he would then touch her head with his antennae. She would extend her head to him and then with a delicacy hard to imagine in so large a creature he would transfer a tiny drop of the precious fluid from his mouth to hers. He would then back away and return to his place where he would stand as immobile as before.
He had given Gur to the Mother.
I did not know at the time but Gur is a product originally secreted by large, gray, domesticated, hemispheric arthropods which are, in the morning, taken out to pasture where they feed on special Sim plants, extensive, rambling, tangled vine-like plants with huge, rolling leaves raised under square energy lamps fixed in the ceilings of the broad pasture chambers, and at night are returned to their stable cells where they are milked by Muls. The special Gur used on the Feast of Tola is, in the ancient fashion, kept for weeks in the social stomachs of specially chosen Priest-Kings to mellow and reach the exact flavor and consistency desired, which Priest-Kings are then spoken of as retaining Gur.
I watched as one Priest-King and then another approached the Mother and repeated the Gur Ceremony."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 214/5

"Considering the number of Priest-Kings and the time it took for each to give Gur to the Mother, I conjectured that the ceremony must have begun hours ago. Indeed, it did not seem incredible to me at all that the giving of Gur might well last an entire day.
I was already familiar with the astounding patience of Priest-Kings and so I was not surprised at the almost total lack of movement in the lines of that golden pattern, formed of Priest-Kings, which radiated out from the Platform of the Mother. But I now understood as I observed the slight, almost enraptured tremor of their antennae responding to the scent-music of the musicians that this was not a simple demonstration of their patience but a time of exaltation for them, of gathering, of bringing the Nest together, of reminding them of their common, remote origins and their long, shared history, of reminding them of their very being and nature, of what they perhaps alone in all the universe were--Priest-Kings.
I looked at the golden rows of Priest-Kings, alert, immobile, their heads wreathed in green leaves, about their necks dangling the tiny, primitive, silverish tools telling of a distant, simpler time before the Scanning Chamber, the Power Plant and the Flame Death.
I could not to my emotional satisfaction conjecture the ancientness of this people on which I gazed, and I could but dimly understand their powers, what they might feel, what they might hope of dream, supposing that so old and wise a people were still akin to the simple dream, the vagrant, insuppressible perhaps, folly of hope.
The Nest, had said Sarm, is eternal."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 215

"The rows of the Priest-Kings separated forming an aisle down the middle of the chamber and the Priest-Kings now stood facing this aisle, and down the aisle together came Sarm and Misk.
I gathered that perhaps this was the culmination of the Feast of Tola, the giving of Gur by the greatest of the Priest-Kings, the First Five Born, save that of that number there were only two left, the First Born and the Fifth, Sarm and Misk. As it turned out later I was correct in this surmise and the moment of the ceremony is known as the March of the First Five Born, in which these five march abreast to the Mother and give her Gur in inverse order of their priority.
Misk of course lacked the wreath of green leaves and the chain of tools about his neck.
If Sarm were disturbed at finding Misk, whom he thought to have had killed, at his side, he gave no sign to this effect. Together, in silence to human ears but to the swelling intensities of scent-music, in stately, stalking procession the two Priest-Kings approached the Mother, and I saw Misk, first, dip his mouth to the great golden bowl on its tripod and then approach her.
As his antennae touched her head her antennae lifted and seemed to tremble and the ancient, brownish creature lifted her head and on her ready tongue from his own mouth Misk, her child, delicately and with supreme gentleness placed a glistening drop of Gur."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 216

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Nest Trust

"One English expression for which no natural “word” in their language exists is, oddly enough, “friendship”, and certain of its cognates. There is an expression in their language which translates into English as “Nest Trust”, however, and seems to play something of the same role in their thinking.
The notion of friendship, it seems to me, has to do with a reliance and affection between two or more individuals; the notion of Nest Trust, as clearly as I can understand it, is more of a communal notion, a sense of relying on the practices and traditions of an institution, accepting them and living in terms of them."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 80

"“Let there be Nest Trust between us,” I said.
“But you are not of the Nest,” said Misk.
“Nonetheless,” I said, “let there be Nest Trust between us.”
“Very well,” said Misk, and he bent forward, extending his antennae towards me. I wondered for a moment what was to be done but then it seemed I sensed what he wanted. I thrust the torch I carried into a crevice in the wall and, standing before Misk, I raised my arms over my head, extending them towards him.
With extreme gentleness, almost tenderness, the Priest-King touched the palms of my hands with his antennae.
“Let there be Nest Trust between us.”
It was the nearest I could come to locking antennae."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 116

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The Nest Council

"Sarm is the First Born." said Misk, "whereas I am the Fifth Born. The first five born of the Mother are the High Council of the Nest. The Second, Third and Fourth Born, in the long ages, have, one by one, succumbed to the Pleasures of the Golden Beetle. Only Sarm and I are left of the Five."
"Then," I suggested, "he wants you to die so that he will be the only remaining member of the Council and thus have absolute power."
"The Mother is greater than he," said Misk.
"Still," I suggested, "his power would be considered augmented."
Misk looked at me and his antennae had a certain lack of resilience and the golden hairs had seemed too lose some of their sheen.
"You are sad." I said.
Misk bend down until his long body was horizontal and then inclined downward yet more towards me. He laid his antennae gently on my shoulders, almost as though a man might have put his hands on them.
"You must not understand these things," said Misk, "in terms of what you know of men. It is different."
"It seems no different to me," I said.
"These things," said Misk, "are deeper and greater than you know, than you can know or understand."
"They seem simple enough to me," I remarked.
"No," said Misk. "You do not understand." Misk's antennae pressed a bit on my shoulders. "But you will understand," he said.
The Priest-King then straightened and stalked to my case. With his two forelegs he gently lifted it and moved it aside. The ease with which he did this astonished me for I am sure its weight must have been several hundred pounds. Beneath the case I saw a flat stone with a recessed ring. Misk bent down and lifted this ring."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 113/4

“If I had my wish,” said Sarm, “he would be sent to the vivarium or the dissection chambers.”
“But that is not the wish of the Mother,” said Misk.
“I see,” said Sarm.
“Thus,” said Misk, “it is not the wish of the Nest.”
“Of course,” said Sarm, “for the wish of the Mother is the wish of the Nest.” “The Mother is the Nest and the Nest is the Mother,” said Misk.
“Yes,” said Sarm, and the two Priest-Kings approached one another, bowed and gently locked their antennae."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 92

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“Do Priest-Kings believe in life after death?” I asked.
“Of course,” said Misk, “for after one dies the Nest continues.”
“No,” I said, “I mean individual life.”
“Consciousness,” said Misk, ‘seems to be a function of the ganglionic net.”
“I see,” I said. “And yet you say you are willing to, as you said, pass.”
“Of course,” said Misk. “I have lived. Now there must be others.”
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 121

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Control of technology

"From Sarm's point of view of course your utilization there was simply to curtail the spread of the Empire of Ar, for we prefere humans to dwell in isolated communities. It is better for observing their variations, from the scientific point of view, and it is safer for us if they remain disunited, for being rational they might develope a science, and being sub rational it might be dangerous for us and for themselves if they did so."
"That is the reason then for your limitations of their weaponry and technology?"
"Of Course," said Misk, "but we have allowed them to develop in many areas - in medicine, for example, where something approximating the Stabilization Serums has been independently developed."
"What is that?" I asked.
"You have surely not failed to notice," said Misk, "that though you came to the Counter-Earth more than seven years ago you have undergone no significant physical alteration in that time."
"I have noticed, I said, and I wondered on this. Of course, said Misk, their serums are not as effective as ours and sometimes do not function, and sometimes the effect wears off after only a few hundred years."
"Priest Kings of Gor" page 123

“It is said below the mountains that Priest-Kings know all that occurs on Gor.”
“Nonsense,” said Misk. “But perhaps I shall show you the Scanning Room someday. We have four hundred Priest-Kings who operate the scanners, and we are accordingly well informed. For example, if there is a violation of our weapons laws we usually, sooner or later, discover it and after determining the coordinates put into effect the Flame Death Mechanism.”~
"Priest Kings of Gor" page 125

“But much of our knowledge comes from our implants,” said Misk. “We implant humans with a control web and transmitting device. The lenses of their eyes are altered in such a way that what they see is registered by means of transducers on scent-screens in the scanning room. We can also speak and act by means of them, when the control web is activated in the Sardar.”
"Priest Kings of Gor" page 126

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The Flame of Death

"Occasionally on Gor we destroy a city, selecting it by means of a random selection device this teaches the lower orders the might of the Priest Kings and encourages them to keep our laws." "but what if the city has done no wrong?" I asked. "So much the better," said Misk, "for the men below the Mountains are then confused and fear us even more--but the members of the Caste Of Initiates, we have found, will produce an explanation of why the city was destroyed. They invention and if it seems plausible they soon believe it. For example, we allowed them to suppose that it was through some fault of yours--disrespect for Priest Kings as I recall--that your city was destroyed."
"Priest Kings of Gor" page 123

“I once saw a man die the Flame Death,” I said. “Is that mechanism also in this room?”
“Yes,” said Sarm, indicating with one foreleg a quiet-looking metal cabinet to one side possessing several dials and knobs. “The projection points for the Flame Death are located in the surveillance craft,” said Sarm, “but the coordinates are fixed and the firing signal is relayed from this room. The system is synchronized, or course, with the scanning apparatus and may be activated from any of the control panels at the observation cubes.”
"Priest Kings of Gor" page 135/6

"The Priest-King monitoring the observation cube touched a knob on his control panel.
"Stop!" I cried.
Before my horrified eyes in the observation cube the man seemed suddenly to vaporize in a sudden blasting flash of blue fire. The man had disappeared. Another brief incandescent flash destroyed the primitive tube he had carried. Then once again, aside from the blackened grass and stone, the scene was peaceful. A small, curious bird darted to the top of the stone, and then hopped from it to the blackened grass to hunt for grubs."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 138/9

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Transportation Discs

“Mount the disk, Tarl Cabot of Ko-ro-ba,” said Misk, gesturing with his foreleg to the flat oval disk which had brought Sarm to our level.
I hesitated.
“He is afraid,” said Sarm.
“He has much to fear,” said Misk.
“I am not afraid,” I said.
“Then mount the disk,” said Misk.
I did so, and the two Priest-Kings stepped delicately onto the disk to join me, in such a way that one stood on each side and slightly behind me. Scarcely had they placed their weight on the disk when it began to smoothly and silently accelerate down the long ramp which led toward the bottom of the canyon. The disk moved with great swiftness and it was with some difficulty that I managed to stand on my feet, leaning into the blast of air which rushed past me. To my annoyance both of the Priest-Kings seemed immobile, leaning alertly forward into the wind, their forelegs lifted high, their antennae lying flat, streaming backwards."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 89

"Part of the time we rode on a transportation disk, and he showed me how to operate it. The disk flows on a tread of volatile gas and is itself lightened by its construction from a partially gravitationally resistant metal, of which I shall speak later. Its speed is controlled by the placement of the feet along double accelerator strips which lie flush with the surface of the disk; its direction is controlled by the rider who bends and turns his body, thereby transmitting force to the lightly riding disk, the principles involved being no more unusual than those employed in such homely devices as roller skates or the now vanishing skate boards once popular with Hearth children. One stops the disk by stepping off the accelerator strips, which brings the disk to a smooth halt depending on the area available for braking. There is a cell in the forward portion of the disk which casts an invisible beam ahead and if the area for stopping is small, the stop is accordingly more abrupt. This cell, however, does not function as the accelerator strips are depressed. I would have thought that some type of cells for avoiding collisions when the accelerator strips are depressed might have been useful or that a bumper of gas, or a field of some sort, might have been practical improvements but Sarm felt that such refinements would be excessive. “No one is ever injured by a transportation disk,” he told me, “except an ocasional Mul.”
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 134/5

“Would it not be useful at times,” he asked, ”if the armored transportation disk could fly?”
I thought he joked, but I said, ”Yes, at times it would be very useful.”
“Then we shall do it,” said Misk, snapping his antennae.
“How?” I asked.
“Surely you have noted the unusual lightness of the transportation disk for its size?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said.
“It is,” he said, ”built with a partially gravitationally resistant material.”
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 239

"In the fourth week of the War in the Nest our ship was outfitted and armored. I am afraid it was rather primitive, except that the principles on which it operated were far more advanced than anything now available to Earth’s, as I now understand, somewhat painfully rudimentary science. The ship was simply a transportation disk whose underside was coated with cage plastic and whose top was a transparent dome of the same material. There were controls in the forward position of the ship and ports about the sides for silver tubes. There were no propellers or jets or rockets and I find it difficult to understand or explain the drive save that it used the forces of gravity against themselves in such a way that the amount, if one may use so inept an expression, of gravitational Ur, which is the Gorean expression for the gravitational primitive, remains constant though redistributed. I do not think force, or charge, or any of the other expressions which occur to one’s mind is a good translation for Ur, and I prefer to regard it as an expression best left untranslated, though perhaps one could say that Ur is whatever it was that satisfied the gravitational equations of Misk. Most briefly the combined drive and guidance system of the disk functioned by means of the focusing of gravitational sensors on material objects and using the gravitational attraction of these objects while in effect screening out the attraction of others. I would not have believed the ship was possible but I found it difficult to offer the arguments of my old world’s physics against the fact of Misk’s success."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 240/1

"The flight of the disk itself is incredibly smooth and the effect is much as if the world and not yourself were moving. When one lifts the craft it seems the earth moves from beneath one; when one moves it forward it seems as though the horizon rushed toward one; if one should place it in reverse, it seems the horizon glides away. Perhaps one should not expatiate on this matter but the sensation tends to be an unsettling one, particularly at first. It is much as if one sat still in a room and the world whirled and sped about one. This is undoubtedly the effect of lacking the resistance of gravitational forces which normally account for the sometimes unpleasant, but reassuring, effects of acceleration and deceleration.
Needless to say, although ironically, the first transportation disk prepared for flight was a ship of war."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 241

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Silver Tubes

"After the death of the Mother, Sarm an those who followed him, most of the Priest-Kings for he was the first Born, fled from the chamber to fetch, as it was said, silver tubes.
These were charged, cylindrical weapons, manually operated but incorporating principles much like those of the Flame Death Mechanism. Unused, they had lain encased in plastic quivers for a matter of centuries and yet when these quivers were broken open and the weapons seized up by angry Priest-Kings they were as ready for their grim work as they had been when first they were stored away. I think with one such weapon a man might have made himself Ubar of all Gor."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 229

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“Can you guess,” asked Sarm, “which one has been synthesized?”
I must have given quite a start.
Sarm’s antennae giggled.
“Yes,” said Sarm, “one was synthesized, beginning with the synthesis of the protein molecules, and was formed molecule by molecule. It is artificially constructed human being. It is not of much scientific interest but it has considerable curiosity value. It was built over a period of two centuries by Kusk, the Priest-King, as a way of escaping in his leisure hours from the burdens of his serious biological investigations.
I shuddered.
“What of the other?” I asked.
“It too,” said Sarm, “is not without interest and is also bestowed upon us by the avocational whims of Kusk, one of the greatest of our Nest.”
“Is the other also synthesized?” I asked.
“No,” said Sarm, “it is the product of genetic manipulation, artificial control and alteration of the hereditary coils in gametes.”
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 94

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I puzzled on the machine in the room, the wiring that seemed to feed into the young Priest-King’s body at eight points. “What are you doing to him?” I asked. “I am teaching him,” said Misk.
“I don’t understand,” I said.
“What you know - even a creature such as yourself -” said Misk, “depends on the charges and microstates of your neural tissue, and, customarily, you obtain these charges and microstates in the process of registering and assimilating sensory stimuli from your environment, as for example when you directly experience something, or perhaps as when you are given information by others or you peruse a scent-tape. This device you see then is merely a contrivance for producing these charges and microstates without the necessity for the time-consuming external stimulation.”
My torch lifted, I regarded with awe the inert body of the young Priest-King on the stone table.
I watched the tiny flashes of light, the rapid, efficient placement of disks and their almost immediate withdrawal.
The instrumentation and the paneling of the room seemed to loom about me. I considered the impulses that must be transmitted by those eight wires into the body of the creature that lay before us."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 118

“Who decides what he learns?” I asked.
“Customarily,” said Misk, “the mnemonic plates are standardized by the Keepers of the Tradition, chief of whom is Sarm.” Misk straightened and his antennae curled a bit. “As you might suppose I could not obtain a set of standardized plates and so I have inscribed my own, using my own judgment.”
“I don’t like the idea of altering its brain,” I said.
“Brains,” said Misk.
“I don’t like it,” I said.
“Do not be foolish,” said Misk. His antennae curled. “All creatures who instruct their young alter their brains. How else could learning take place? This device is merely a comparatively considerate, swift and efficient means to an end that is universally regarded as desirable by rational creatures.”
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 119

“Will he remember learning these things?” I asked.
“No,” said Misk, “for his external sensors are now being bypassed, but he will understand that he has learned things in this fashion for a mnemonic disk has been inscribed to that effect.”
“What is he being taught?” I asked.
“Basic information, as you might expect, pertains to language, mathematics, and the sciences, but he is also being taught the history and literature of Priest-Kings, Nest mores, social customs; mechanical, agricultural and husbanding procedures, and other types of information.”
“But will he continue to learn later?”
“Of course,” said Misk, “but he will build on a rather complete knowledge of what his ancestors have learned in the past. No time is wasted in consciously absorbing old information, and one’s time is thus released for the discovery of new information. When new information is discovered it is also included on mnemonic disks.”
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 121

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"She was comely to look on. Her hair was very light, the color of summer straw; it was straight and bound simply behind the back of her neck with a small fillet of white wool. Her eyes were blue, and sullen. Her full, red lips, which could have torn the heart of a man, seemed to pout; they were sensuous, unobtrusively rebellious, perhaps subtly contemptuous.
She knelt beside the platform.
Beside her, on the floor, rested a laver of polished bronze, filled with water, a towel and a straight-bladed Gorean shaving knife.
I rubbed my chin.
She had shaved me as I slept.
I shivered, thinking of the blade and my throat. “Your touch is light,” I said. She bowed her head.
She wore a long, simple sleeveless white robe, which fell gracefully about her in dignified classic folds. About her throat she had gracefully wrapped a scarf of white silk.
“I am Vika,” she responded, “your slave.”
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 33/4

"So she was a slave girl.
But on her collar there was not written the name of her owner and his city, as I would have expected. Instead I had read there only the Gorean numeral which would correspond to “708”.
“You may do with me what you please,” said the girl, turning to face me. “As long as you are in this room I belong to you.”
“I don’t understand,” I said.
“I am a Chamber Slave,” she said.
“I don’t understand,” I said.
“It means,” she said, irritably, “that I am confined to this room, and that I am the slave of whoever enters the room.”
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 35/6

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The Muls

“I see human beings here,” I said to Misk. “Are they slaves?”
“Yes,” said Misk.
“They wear no collars,” I pointed out.
“It is not necessary to mark a distinction between slave and free within the Nest,” said Misk, “for in the Nest all humans are slaves.”
“Why are they shaven and clad as they are?” I asked.
“It is more sanitary,” said Misk.
“Let us leave the plaza,” said Sarm.
I would learn later that his agitation was principally due to his fear of contracting filth in this public place. Humans walked here.
“Why do the slaves wear purple?” I asked Misk. “That is the color of the robes of a Ubar.”
“Because it is a great honor to be the slave of Priest-Kings,” said Misk. (...)
At that moment a human girl walked near and wide-eyed circled us, looking at me. Although her head was shaved she was pretty and the brief plastic sheath she wore did not conceal her charms."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 90

"Hardly had his delicate foot touched the button than a panel slid aside and two handsome men, of the most symmetrical form and features with shaven heads and clad in the purple, plastic tunics of slaves, entered the room and prostrated themselves before the dais.
At a signal from Sarm they leaped to their feet and stood alertly beside the dais, their feet spread, their heads high, their arms folded.
“Behold these two,” said Sarm.
Neither of the two men who had entered the room had seemed to notice me.
I now approached them.
“I am Tarl Cabot of Ko-ro-ba,” I said to them, extending my hand.
If they saw my hand they made no effort to accept it.
I assumed they must be identical twins. They had wide, fine heads, strong, broad bodies, and a carriage that suggested calmness and strength.
Both were a bit shorter than I but were somewhat more squarely built.
“You may speak,” said Sarm.
"I am Mul-Al-Ka," said one, "honored slave of the glorious Priest-Kings."
"I am Mul-Ba-Ta," said the other, "honored slave of the glorious Priest-Kings."
"In the Nest," said Misk, "the expression 'Mul' is used to designate a human slave."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 94

"Yes," said Sarm, "one was synthesized, beginning with the synthesis of the protein molecules, and was formed molecule by molecule. It is an artificially constructed human being. It is not of much scientific interest but it has considerable curiosity value. It was built over a period of two centuries by Kusk, the Priest-King, as a way of escaping in his leisure hours from the burdens of his serious biological investigations."
I shuddered.
"What of the other?" I asked.
"It too," said Sarm, "is not without interest and is also bestowed upon us by the avocational whims of Kusk, one of the greatest of our Nest."
"Is the other also synthesized?" I asked.
"No," said Sarm, "it is the product of genetic manipulation, artificial control and alteration of the hereditary coils in gametes."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 94/5

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Muls' Food

"It is not hard to get used to Mul-Fungus, for it has almost no taste, being an extremely bland, pale, whitish, fibrous vegetablelike matter. I know of no one who is moved much in one direction or the other by its taste. Even the Muls, many of whom have been bred in the Nest, do not particularly like it, nor despise it. It is eaten with much the same lack of attention that we normally breathe air.
Muls feed four times a day. In the first meal, Mul-Fungus is ground and mixed with water, forming a porridge of sorts; for the second meal it is chopped into rough two-inch cubes; for the third meal it is minced with Mul-Pellets and served as a sort of cold hash; the Mul-Pellets are undoubtedly some type of dietary supplement; at the final meal Mul-Fungus is pressed into a large, flat cake and sprinkled with a few grains of salt.
Misk told me, and I believe him, that Muls had occasionally slain one another for a handful of salt."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 109

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Muls' Tunics

Then all three of us turned to watch the girl, who was now no more than a bluish speck under the energy bulbs far down the hall.
“Why is she running?” I asked.
“The journeys between portals are timed,” said the first slave, “and if she dallies she will be given a record-scar.”
“Yes,” said the other, “five record-scars and she will be destroyed.”
“A record-scar,” I said, “is some sort of mark on your records?” “Yes,” said the first slave, “it is entered on your scent-tape and also, in odor, inscribed on your tunic.”
“The tunic,” said the other, “is inscribed with much information, and it is by means of the tunic that Priest-Kings can recognize us.”
“Yes,” said the first slave, “otherwise I am afraid we would appear much alike to them.”
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 103/4

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Duty of the Twelve Joys

"Washing-booths, incidentally, are found in all Mul-cases and often, for convenience, along the tunnels and in public places, such as plazas, shaving-parlors, pellet-dispensaries, and fungus commissaries. Since I was a Matok I insisted that I should be exempted from the Duty of the Twelve Joys, as it is known."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 111

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The Matoks

"What is a Matok?" I asked.
"A creature that is in the Nest but is not of the Nest," said Misk."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 92

The Golden Beetle

"The Golden Beetle was not nearly as tall as a Priest-King, but it was probably considerably heavier. It was about the size of a rhinoceros and the first thing I noticed after the glowing eyes were two multiply hooked, tubular, hollow, pincerlike extension that met at the tips perhaps a yard beyond its body. They seemed clearly some aberrant mutation of its jaws. Its antennae, unlike those of the Priest-Kings, were very short. They curved and were tipped with a fluff of golden hair. Most strangely perhaps were several long, golden strands, almost a mane, which extended from the creatures head over its domed golden back and fell almost to the floor behind it. The back itself seemed divided into two thick casings which might once, ages before, have been horny wings, but now the tissues had, at the points of touching together, fused in such a way as to form what was for all practical purposes a thick, immobile golden shell. The creature’s head was even now withdrawn beneath the shell but its eyes were clearly visible and of course the extensions of its jaws."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 180

"The creature seemed to be puzzled and made no move to attack. Undoubtedly in its long life it had never encountered anything like this in its tunnels. It backed up a bit and withdrew its head further beneath the shell of its fused, golden wings. It lifted its hooked, tubular jaws before its eyes as though to shield them from the light.
It occurred to me then that the light of the Mul-Torch burning in the invariably dark tunnels of its domain may have temporarily blinded or disoriented the creature. More likely the smell of the torch’s oxidation products suddenly permeating its delicate antennae would have been as cacophonous to it as some protracted, discordant bedlam of noises might have been to us."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 180

"The exudate which forms on the mane hairs of the Golden Beetle, which had overcome me in the close confines of the tunnel, apparently has a most intense and, to a human mind, almost incomprehensibly compelling effect on the unusually sensitive antennae of the Priest-Kings, luring them helplessly, almost as if hypnotized, to the jaws of the Beetle, who then penetrates their body with its hollow, pincerlike jaws and drains it of body fluid."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 257

“I myself was hatched,” said Misk, “before we brought our world into your solar system.” He looked down at me. “That was more than two million years ago,” he said.
“Then,” I said, “the Nest will never die.”
“It is dying now,” said Misk. “One by one we succumb to the Pleasures of the Golden Beetle. We grow old and there is little left for us. At one time we were rich and filled with life and in that time our great patterns were formed and in another time our arts flourished and then for a very long time our only passion was scientific curiosity, but now even that lessens, even that lessens.”
“Why do you not slay the Golden Beetles?” I asked.
“It would be wrong,” said Misk.
“But they kill you,” I said.
“It is well for us to die,” said Misk, “for otherwise the Nest would be eternal and the Nest must not be eternal, for how could we love it if it were so?”
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 118/9

"Then to my amazement when the Beetle neared Sarm the Priest-King sank down on his supporting appendages, almost as if he were on his knees, and suddenly plunged his face and antennae into the midst of the waving mane hair of the Golden Beetle.
I watched the pincerlike jaws grip and puncture the thorax of the Priest-King.
More rock dust drifted between me and the pair locked in the embrace of death. More rock tumbled to the dome and bounced clattering to the debris below.
The very globe and walkway seemed to lift and tremble but neither of the creatures locked together above me seemed to take the least notice.
Sarm's antennae lay immersed in the golden hair of the Beetle; his grasping appendages with their sensory hairs caressed the golden hair; even did he take some of the hairs in his mouth and with his tongue try to lick the exudate from them.
“The pleasure,” came from Sarm's translator. “The pleasure, the pleasure.”
I could not shut out from my ears the grim sound of the sucking jaws of the Beetle.
I knew now why it was that the Golden Beetles were permitted to live in the Nest, why it was that Priest-Kings would not slay them, even though it might mean their own lives.
I wondered if the hairs of the Golden Beetle, heavy with the droplets of that narcotic exudate, offered adequate recompense to a Priest-King for the ascetic millennia in which he might have pursued the mysteries of science, if they provided an acceptable culmination to one of those long, long lives devoted to the Nest, to its laws, to duty and the pursuit and manipulation of power.
Priest-Kings, I knew, had few pleasures, and now I guessed that foremost among them might be death."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 275/6

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"At that moment to my horror a large, perhaps eight feet long and a yard high, multilegged, segmented arthropod scuttled near, its eyes weaving on stalks.
"It's harmless," said the Priest-King.
The arthropod stopped and the eyes leaned toward us and then its pincers clicked twice.
I reached for my sword.
Without turning it scuttled backwards away, its body plates rustling like plastic armor."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 82

"I did not know at the time but Gur is a product originally secreted by large, gray, domesticated, hemispheric arthropods which are, in the morning, taken out to pasture where they feed on special Sim plants, extensive, rambling, tangled vine-like plants with huge, rolling leaves raised under square energy lamps fixed in the ceilings of the broad pasture chambers, and at night are returned to their stable cells where they are milked by Muls."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 215

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"I swung the transportation disk in a graceful arc to one side of the tunnel to avoid running into a crablike organism covered with overlapping plating and then swung the disk back in another sweeping arc to avoid slicing into a stalking Priest-King who lifted his antennae quizzically as we shot past.
"The one who was not a Priest-King," quickly said Mul-Al-Ka, "was a Matok and is called a Toos and lives on discarded fungus spores."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 142

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Slime Worm

We had not walked far when we passed a long, wormlike animal, eyeless, with a small red mouth, that inched its way along the corridor, hugging the angle between the wall and the floor.
Neither of my guides paid the animal any attention.
Indeed, even I myself, after my experience with the arthropod on the platform and the flat, sluglike beast on its transportation disk in the plaza, was growing accustomed to finding strange creatures in the Nest of the Priest-Kings. (...)
“What do you call it?” I asked.
“Oh,” said one of the slaves. “It is a Slime Worm.”
“What does it do?” I asked.
“Long ago it functioned in the Nest,” said one of the slaves, “as a sewerage device, but it has not served that function in many thousands of years.” “But yet it remains in the Nest.”
“Of course,” said one of the slaves, “the Priest-Kings are tolerant.”
“Yes,” said the other, “and they are fond of it, and are themselves creatures of great reverence for tradition.”
“The Slime Worm has earned its place in the Nest,” said the other.
“How does it live?” I asked.
“It scavenges on the kills of the Golden Beetle,” said the first slave."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 104/5

"What approached was not another Golden Beetle, though I supposed there might have been several in those tunnels, but another inhabitant of those dismal passages, the whitish, long, slow, blind Slime Worm."
"Priest-Kings of Gor" page 189

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Leaving the Sardar Montains

"Even from where we stood I could smell the innumerable fires of their sacrifices, the burning flesh of bosks, smell the heady fumes of the incense they burned in brass censers swinging on chains, hear the repetitious litanies of their pleas, observe their continual prostrations and grovelings by which they sought to make themselves and their petitions pleasing to Priest-Kings."
"Priest Kings of Gor" page 293

"As soon as I reached the gate I placed Vika on her feet. Before the gate, facing me, I saw the astonished throng. I knew that never before in the history of the planet had a man been seen to return from the Sardar.
The Initiates, hundreds of them, knelt in long lines to the crags of the Sardar, to the Priest-Kings. I saw their shaven heads, their faces dis-traught in the bleak white of their robes, their eyes wide and filled with fear, their bodies trembling in the robes of their caste.
Perhaps they expected me to be cut down by the Flame Death before their very eyes.
"Priest Kings of Gor" page 293

"(...) and the men in that crowd were of all castes , and even of castes as low as the Peasants, the Saddle Mak-ers, the Weavers, the Goat Keepers, the Poets and Merchants, but none of them groveled as did the Initiates; how strange, I thought--the Initiates claimed to be most like Priest-Kings, even to be formed in their image, and yet I knew that a Priest-King would never grovel; it seemed the Initiates, to their efforts to be like gods, behaved like slaves.
One Initiate stood on his feet.
I was pleased to see that.
“Do you come from Priest-Kings?” he asked.
He was a tall man, rather heavy, with bland soft features, but his voice was very deep and would have been quite impressive in one of the temples of the Initiates, constructed to maximize the acoustical effects of such a voice. His eyes, I noted, in contrast with his bland features, his almost pudgy softness, were very sharp and shrewd. He was no man’s fool. His left hand, fat and soft, wore a heavy ring set with a large, white stone, carved with the sign of Ar. He was, I gathered, correctly as it turned out, the High Initiate of Ar, he who had been appointed to fill the post of the former High Initiate whom I had seen destroyed by the Flame Death years earlier.
“I come from the place of the Priest-Kings,” I said, raising my voice so that as many could hear as possible. I wanted to carry on no private conversation with this fellow, which he might later report as he saw fit.
I saw his eye furtively flit to the smoke of one of the sacrificial fires.
It was now ascending in a gentle swirl to the blue sky of Gor.
He knew!
He knew as well as I that the gravitational field of the planet was being re-established. “I wish to speak!” I cried.
“Wait,” he said, “oh welcome messenger of Priest-Kings!”
I kept silent, waiting to se what he wanted.
The man gestured with his fat hand and a white bosk, beautiful with its long, shaggy coat and its curved, polished horns, was led forward. Its shaggy coat had been oiled and groomed and colored beads were hung about its horns.
Drawing a small knife from his pouch the Initiate cut a strand of hair from the animal and threw it into a nearby fire. Then he gestured to a subordinate, and the man, with a sword, opened the throat of the animal and it sank to its knees, the blood from its throat being caught in a golden laver held by a third man.
While I waited impatiently two more men cut a thigh from the slain beast and this, dripping with grease and blood, was ordered cast upon the fire.
“All else has failed!” cried the Initiate, weaving back and forth, his hands in the air. Then he began to mumble prayers very quickly in archaic Gorean, a language in which the Initiates converse among them-selves and conduct their various ceremonies. At the end of this long but speedily delivered prayer, refrains to which were rapidly furnished by the Initiates massed about him, he cried, “Oh, Priest-Kings, let this our last sacrifice turn aside your wrath. Let this sacrifice please your nostrils and now consent to hear our pleas! It is offered by Om, Chief among all the High Initiates of Gor!”
"Priest Kings of Gor" page 293/4

"“No!” cried a number of other Initiates, the High Initiates of various other cities. I knew that the High Initiate of Ar, following the policies of the high Initiate before him, wished to claim hegemony over all other Initiates, and claimed to possess this already, but his claim, of course, was denied by the other High Initiates who regarded themselves as supreme in their own cities. I surmised that, pending some form of military victory of Ar over the cities or some form of large-scale political reordering of the planet, the Initiate of Ar’s claims would remain a matter of dispute.
“It is the sacrifice of all of us!” cried one of the other High Initiates."
"Priest Kings of Gor" page 294

"At that moment I suddenly realized I was ringed by Initiates.
Their codes forbade them to kill but I knew that they hired men of other castes for this purpose."
"Priest Kings of Gor" page 297

"I had hoped that I might have used those moments, that priceless opportunity, before the men of Gor realized the restoration of gravity and normal conditions was occurring, to command them to give up their warlike ways and turn to the pursuit of peace and brotherhood, but the moment, before I realized it, had been stolen from me by the High Initiate of Ar, and used for his own purposes.
Now as the crowd rejoiced and began to disband I knew that I was no longer important, that I was only another indication of the mercy of Priest-Kings, that someone--who had it been?--had returned from the Sardar.
At that moment I suddenly realized I was ringed by Initiates.
Their codes forbade them to kill but I knew that they hired men of other castes for this purpose.
I faced the High Initiate of Ar.
“Who are you, Stranger?” he asked.
The words for ‘stranger” and “enemy” in Gorean, incidentally, are the same word. “I am no one,” I said.
I would not reveal to him my name, my caste, nor city.
“It is well,” said the High Initiate.
His brethren pressed more closely about me.
“He did not truly come from the Sardar,” said another Initiate.
I looked at him puzzled.
“No,” said another. “I saw him. He came from the crowd and only went within the ring of the palisade and wandered towards us. He was terrified. He did not come from the mountains.”
“Do you understand?” asked the High Initiate.
“Perfectly,” I said.
“But it is not true,” cried Vika. “We were in the Sardar. We have seen Priest-Kings!”
“She blasphemes,” said one of the Initiates.
I cautioned Vika to silence.
Suddenly I was very sad, and I wondered what would be the fate of humans from the Nest, if they should attempt to return to their cities or the world above. Perhaps, if they were silent, they might return to the surface, but even then, probably not to their own cities, for the Initiates of their cities would undoubtedly recall that they had left for, and perhaps entered, the Sardar.
With great suddenness I realized that what I knew, and what other knew, would make no difference to the world of Gor.
The Initiates had their way of life, their ancient traditions, their given livelihood, the prestige of their caste, which they claimed to be the highest on the planet, their teachings, their holy books, their services, their role to play in the culture. Suppose that even now if they knew the truth--what would change? Would I really expect them--at least on the whole--to burn their robes, to surrender their claims to secret knowledge and powers, to pick up the hoes of Peasants, the needles of the Cloth Workers, to bend their energies to the humble tasks of honest work?
“He is an impostor,” said one of the Initiates.
“He must die,” said another.
I hoped that those humans who returned from the Nest would not be hunted by Initiates and burned or impaled as heretics and blasphemers.
Perhaps they would simply be treated as fanatics, as daft homeless wanderers, innocent in the madness of their delusions. Who would believe them? who would take the word of scattered vagrants against the word of the mighty Caste of Initiates? And, if he did believe them, who would dare to speak out that he did so?
The Initiates, it seemed, had conquered.
I supposed many of the humans might even return to the Nest, where they could live and love and be happy. Others, perhaps, to keep the skies of Gor over their head, might confess to deceit; but I suspected there would be few of those; yet I was sure that there would indeed be confessions and admissions of guilt, from individuals never within the Sardar, but hired by Initiates to discredit the tales of those who had returned. Most who had returned from the Sardar would eventually at least, I was sure, try to gain admittance in new cities, where they were not known, and attempt to work out new lives, as though they did not keep in their hearts the secret of the Sardar.

"Priest Kings of Gor" page 297/9

"I stood amazed at the greatness and smallness of man.
And then with shame I realized how nearly I myself had come to betraying my fellow creatures. I had intended to make use of that moment myself, pretending to have come with a message from Priest-Kings, to encourage man to live as I wished him to live, to respect himself and others, to be kind and to be worthy of the heritage of a rational animal, and yet of what worth would these things be if they came not from the heart of man himself, but from his fear of Priest-Kings or his desire to please them? No, I would not try to reform man by pretending that my wishes for him were the wishes of Priest-Kings, even though this might e effective for a time, for the wishes that reform man, that make him what he is capable of becoming, and has not yet become, must be his own and not those of another. If man rises, he can do so only on his own two feet.
And I was thankful that the High Initiate of Ar had interfered.
I thought how dangerous might be the Initiates if, intertwined with their superstitious lore and their numerous impressive ceremonies, there had been a truly moral message, something that might have spoken to the nobility of men.
The High Initiate of Ar gestured to the others who crowded about, pressing in on me. “Stand back,” he said, and he was obeyed.
Sensing that he wished to speak to me I asked Vika to withdraw somewhat, and she did so. The High Initiate of Ar and myself regarded one another.
Suddenly I did not feel him as an enemy any longer and I senses that somehow he did not regard me either as a threat or foe.
“Do you know of the Sardar?” I asked him.
“Enough,” he said.
“Then why?” I asked.
“It would be hard for you to understand,” he said.
I could smell the smoke from the burning thigh of the bosk as it hissed and popped on the sacrificial fire.
“Speak to me,” I said.
“With most,” he said, “it is as you think, and they are simple, believing members of my caste, and there are others who suspect the truth and are tormented, or who suspect the truth and will pretend--but I, Om, High Initiate of Ar, and certain of the High Initiates are like none of these.”
“And how do you differ?” I asked.
“I--and some others--” he said, “wait for man.” He looked at me. “He is not yet ready.” “For what?” I asked.
“To believe in himself,” said Om, incredibly. He smiled at me. “I and others have tried to leave open the gap that he might see it and fill it--and some have--but not many.” “What gap is this?” I asked.
“We speak not to man’s heart,” said Om, “but only to his fear. We do not speak of love and courage, and loyalty and nobility--but of practice and observance and the punishment of the Priest-Kings--for if we so spoke, it would be that much harder for man to grow beyond us. Thus, unknown to member of my caste, we exist to be overcome, thus in our way pointing the way to man’s greatness.”
I looked at the Initiate for a long time, and wondered if he spoke the truth. These were the strangest things I had heard from the lips of an Initiate, most of whom seemed interminably embroiled in the rituals of their caste, in the arrogance and archaic pedantry of their kind.
I trembled for a moment, perhaps from the chill winds sweeping down the Sardar.
“It is for this reason,” said the man, “that I remain an Initiate.”
“There are Priest-Kings,” I said at last.
“I know,” said Om, “but what have they to do with what is most important for man?”
I thought about it for a moment. “I suppose,” I said, “--very little.”
“Go in peace,” said the Initiate, stepping aside.
"Priest Kings of Gor" page 297/9

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