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Beasts of Gor
The Gorean Saga: Book 12
By John Norman
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1978 John Norman
All rights reserved.
"There is no clue," Samos had said.
I lay awake on the great couch. I stared at the ceiling of the room.
Light from a perforated lamp flickered dimly. The furs were deep and soft. My weapons lay to one side. A slave, sleeping, lay chained at my feet.
There was no clue.
"He might be anywhere," had said Samos. He had shrugged. "We know only that somewhere he is among us."
We know little about that species of animal called the Kur. We do know it is bloodthirsty, that it feeds on human flesh, and that it is concerned with glory.
"It is not unlike men," had once said Misk to me, a Priest-King.
This story, in its way, has no clear beginning. It began, I suppose, some thousands of years ago when Kurii, in internecine wars, destroyed the viability of a native world. Their state at that time was sufficiently advanced technologically to construct small steel worlds in orbit, each some pasangs in diameter. The remnants of a shattered species then, as a world burned below them, turned hunting to the plains of the stars.
We do not know how long their hunt took. But we do know the worlds, long ago, entered the system of a slow-revolving, medium-sized yellow star occupying a peripheral position in one of nature's bounteous, gleaming, strewn spiral universes.
They had found their quarry, a world.
They had found two worlds, one spoken of as Earth, the other as Gor.
One of these worlds was a world poisoning itself, a pathological world insane and shortsighted, greed-driven and self-destructive. The other was a pristine world, virginal in its beauty and fertility, one not permitted by its masters, called the Sardar, or Priest-Kings, to follow the example of its tragic sister. Priest-Kings would not permit men to destroy Gor. They are not permissive; they are intolerant of geocide. Perhaps it is hard to understand why they do not permit men to destroy Gor. Are they not harsh and cruel, to deny to men this pleasure? Perhaps. But, too, they are rational. And one may be rational, perhaps, without being weak. Indeed, is not weakness the ultimate irrationality? Gor, too, it must be remembered, is also the habitat of the Sardar, or Priest-Kings. They have not chosen to be weak. This choice may be horrifying to those of Earth, so obsessed with their individualism, their proclaimed rights and liberties, but it is one they have chosen to make. I do not defend it. I only report it. Dispute it with them who will.
"Half-Ear is now among us," Samos had said.
I stared at the ceiling, watching the shifting shadows and reflections from the small, perforated lamp.
The Priest-kings, for thousands of years, had defended the system of the yellow star against the depredations of the prowling Kurii. Fortunes had shifted perhaps dozens of times, but never had the Kurii managed to establish a beachhead on the shores of this beautiful world. But some years ago, in the time of the Nest War, the power of the Priest-Kings was considerably reduced. I do not think the Kurii are certain of this, or of the extent of the reduction.
I think if they knew the truth in these matters the code words would flash between the steel worlds, the ports would open, and the ships would nose forth, turning toward Gor.
But the Kur, like the shark and sleen, is a cautious beast.
He prowls, he tests the wind, and then, when he is certain, he makes his strike.
Samos was much disturbed that the high Kur, it referred to as Half-Ear, was now upon the surface of this world. We had discovered this from an enciphered message, fallen into our hands, hidden in the beads of a necklace.
That Half-Ear had come to Gor was taken by Samos and Priest-Kings as evidence that the invasion was imminent.
Perhaps even now the ships of Kurii flamed toward Gor, as purposeful and silent as sharks in the waters of space's night.
But I did not think so.
I did not think the invasion was imminent.
It was my surmise that the Kur, it called Half-Ear, had come to prepare the way for the invasion.
He had come to make smooth the path, to ready the sands of Gor for the keels of the steel ships.
He must be stopped.
Should he discover the weakness of the Priest-Kings, or construct a depot adequate to fuel, to shield, and supply the beaching ships, there seemed little reason to suppose the invasion would not prove successful.
Half-Ear was now upon the surface of Gor.
"He is now among us," had said Samos.
The Kurii moved now, at last, with dispatch and menace. Half-Ear had come to Gor.
But where was he!
I almost cried with anger, my fists clenched. We did not know where he might be.
There was no clue.
The slave at my feet stirred, but did not awaken.
I rose on one elbow and looked down at her. How incredibly beautiful and soft she seemed; she was curled in the furs; she was half covered by them; I lifted them away, that I might see her fully; she stirred; her hands moved a bit on the furs; she drew her legs up; she reached as though to pull the furs more about her but her hands did not find them; she drew her legs up a bit more and snuggled down in the furs; there is perhaps nothing in the world as beautiful as a naked slave girl; a heavy iron collar, with chain, was locked on her throat; the chain ran from a ring fixed in the bottom of the great couch, circular, and some twenty feet wide, around the circumference of the couch to the right and was lifted and coiled to one side, on the left. Her skin, she was very fair-skinned and dark-pelted, seemed very soft and reddish, subtly so, glowingly so, vulnerably so, in the light of the tiny perforated lamp. I found her incredibly beautiful. Her hair, dark and lovely, half covered the heavy collar that encircled her neck. I looked at her. How beautiful she was. And I owned her. What man does not want to own a beautiful woman?
She stirred, and reached again for the furs, chilled. I took her by the arm and drew her beside me, roughly, and threw her on her back. She opened her eyes suddenly, startled, half crying out. "Master!" she gasped. Then I had her swiftly. "Master! Master!" she whispered, clutching me. Then I was finished with her. "Master," she whispered. "I love you. I love you." One has a slave girl when and as one wishes.
She held me closely, pressing her cheek against my chest.
Sex is an implement which may be used in controlling a slave girl. It is as useful as chains and the whip.
"I love you," she whispered.
Sex in a woman, I think, is a more complicated phenomenon than it is in a man. She, if properly treated, and by properly treated I do not mean treated with courtesy and gentleness, but rather correctly treated, as her nature craves, is even more helplessly in the grasp of its power than a man. Sex in a woman is a very subtle and profound thing; she is capable of deep and sustained pleasures which might be the envy of any vital organism. These pleasures, of course, can be used by a man to make her a helpless prisoner and slave. Perhaps that is why free women guard themselves so sternly against them. The slave girl, of course, cannot guard herself against them, for she is at the mercy of her master, who will treat her not as she wishes, but precisely as he wishes. Then she yields, as she must, and as a free woman may not, and her will is yielded in ecstasy to his. The needs of a woman, biologically, are deep; it is unfortunate that some men regard it as wrong to satisfy them. The correct treatment of a female, which is only possible to administer to a girl who is owned, is adjusted to her needs, and is complex and subtle. The least girl contains wonders for the master who understands her. Two things may perhaps be said. The correct treatment of a girl does not always preclude courtesy and gentleness no more than it always involves them. There is a time for courtesy and gentleness, and a time for harshness. The master must remember that he owns the girl; if he keeps this in mind he will generally treat her correctly. He must be strong, and he must be capable of administering discipline if she is not pleasing. Sex in a woman, as in a man, is not only richly biological but psychological, as well, and the words suggest a distinction which is somewhat misleading. We are psychophysical organisms, or better perhaps, thinking, feeling organisms. Part of the correct treatment of a woman is treating her as you wish; she has genetic dispositions for submission bred into every cell of her body, a function of both natural and sexual selection. Accordingly, what might seem brutal or quick to a man can be taken by a woman in the dimensions of her sentience as irrefutable evidence of his domination of her, her being owned by him, which thrills her to the core for it touches the ancient biological meaning of her womanhood. He simply uses her for his pleasure, because he wished to do so. He is her master.
I did not thrust her from me.
"May I speak your name, Master?" she begged.
"Yes," I said.
"Tarl," she whispered. "I love you."
"Be silent, Slave Girl," I said.
"Yes, Master," she whispered.
I watched the shadows on the ceiling. I sensed her lips softly kissing me.
You may judge and scorn the Goreans if you wish. Know as well, however, that they judge and scorn you.
They fulfill themselves as you do not.
Hate them for their pride and power. They will pity you for your shame and weakness.
Half-Ear stood somewhere upon Gor.
I did not know where.
Perhaps there was never a time for courtesy and gentleness with an owned woman.
The girl beside me, Vella, was an owned woman.
I laughed. I wondered if I had been tempted to weakness. She trembled then. Still she kissed me, but now frightened, trying to placate me.
How small and weak she was. And how beautiful. How I relished the owning of every bit of her!
I wondered if I had been tempted to weakness. Courtesy and gentleness for a slave? Never!
"Please me," I said. My voice was hard.
"Yes, Master," she whispered. She began to lick and kiss at my body.
In time I ordered her to desist and put her again to her back. I lifted aside the chain which ran to her collar.
"Oh," she said, softly, as I claimed her.
I felt her fingernails in my arms.
She looked up at me, her eyes filled with tears. How helpless she was in my arms.
Then she began to cry out, softly. "Please, please," she begged, "let me speak your name."
"No," I told her.
"Please," she begged.
"What am I to you?" I said.
"My master," she said, frightened.
"Only that," I said.
"Yes, Master," she said.
I did not let her speak further then, but forced the slave, as my whim had it, to endure the lengthy tumult of a bond girl's degradation, lying chained in the arms of a master who does not choose to show her mercy.
I had her as what she was, a slave.
In a quarter of an Ahn her beauty squirmed helplessly; my arms bled from her fingernails; her eyes were wild and piteous. "You may speak," I informed her. She threw back her head and screamed, jolting with spasms, "I yield me your slave! I yield me your slave!" she cried. How beautiful a woman is in such a moment! I waited until she drew tremblingly quiescent, looking at me. Then I cried out with the pleasure of owning her, and claimed her. She clutched me, kissing me. "I love you, Master," she wept. "I love you."
I held her to me closely, though she was a slave. She looked up at me. Her eyes were moist. "I love you, Master," she said. I brushed back hair from her forehead. I supposed one could be fond of a slave.
Then I recalled that she had once betrayed Priest-Kings, and had pointed me out to my enemies. She had served the Kurii in the Tahari. She had smiled at me when in a court at Nine Wells she had testified falsely against me. Once, from a window of the kasbah of the Salt Ubar she had blown me a kiss and tossed me a token to remember her by, a scarf, perfumed and of slave silk, to taunt me, when I was to be marched chained to the pits of Klima. I had returned from Klima and had made her my slave. I had brought her back with me from the Tahari to the house of Bosk, captain, and merchant, of Port Kar.
I kept her in the house, slave. Much work was she given. Sometimes, as this night, I let her sleep chained at my feet.
"I love you, Master," she said.
I looked angrily to the slave whip upon the wall.
She trembled. Would I use the lash on her? She had felt it more than once.
Suddenly I lifted my head a bit. I smelled the odor of sleen.
The door to my chamber which, in my house, I did not keep locked, moved slightly.
Instantly I moved from the couch, startling the chained girl. I stood, bent, tensed, beside the couch. I did not move.
The snout of the beast thrust first softly through the opening, moving the door back.
I heard the girl gasp.
"Make no sound," I said. I did not move.
I crouched down. The animal had been released. Its head was now fully through the door. Its head was wide and triangular. Suddenly the eyes took the light of the lamp and blazed. And then, the head moving, its eyes no longer reflected the light. It no longer faced the light. Rather it was watching me.
The animal was some twenty feet in length, some eleven hundred pounds in weight, a forest sleen, domesticated. It was double fanged and six-legged. It crouched down and inched forward. Its belly fur must have touched the tiles. It wore a leather sleen collar but there was no leash on the leash loop.
I had thought it was trained to hunt tabuk with archers, but it clearly was not tabuk it hunted now.
I knew the look of a hunting sleen. It was a hunter of men.
It swiftly inched forward, then stopped.
When in the afternoon I had seen it in its cage, with its trainer, Bertram of Lydius, it had not reacted to me other than as to the other observers. It had not then, I knew, been put upon my scent.
It crept forward another foot.
I did not think it had been loose from its cage long, for it would take such a beast, a sleen, Gor's finest tracker, only moments to make its way silently through the halls to this chamber.
The beast did not take its eyes from me.
I saw its four hind legs begin to gather under it.
Its breathing was becoming more rapid. That I did not move puzzled it.
It then inched forward another foot. It was now within its critical attacking distance.
I did nothing to excite it.
It lashed its tail back and forth. Had it been longer on my scent I think I might have had less time for its hunting frenzy would have been more upon it, a function in part of the secretions of certain glands.
Very slowly, almost imperceptibly, I reached toward the couch and seized one of the great furs in my right hand.
The beast watched me closely. For the first time it snarled, menacingly.
Then the tail stopped lashing, and became almost rigid. Then the ears lay back against its head.
It charged, scratching and scrambling, slipping suddenly, on the tiles. The girl screamed. The cast fur, capelike, shielding me, enveloped the leaping animal. I leaped to the couch, and rolled over it, and bounded to my feet. I heard the beast snarling and squealing, casting aside the fur with an angry shaking of its body and head. Then it stood, enraged, the fur torn beneath its paws, snarling and hissing. It looked up at me. I stood now upon the couch, the ax of Torvaldsland in my hand.
I laughed, the laugh of a warrior.
"Come my friend," I called to it, "let us engage."
It was a truly brave and noble beast. Those who scorn the sleen I think do not know him. Kurii respect the sleen, and that says much for the sleen, for its courage, its ferocity and its indomitable tenacity.
The girl screamed with terror.
The ax caught the beast transversely and the side of its head struck me sliding from the great blade.
I cut at it again on the floor, half severing the neck.
"It is a beautiful animal," I said. I was covered with its blood. I heard men outside in the hall. Thurnock, and Clitus, and Publius, and Tab, and others, weapons in hand, stood at the door.
"What has happened?" cried Thurnock.
"Secure Bertram of Lydius," I said.
Men rushed from the door.
I went to fetch a knife from my weapons. They lay beside and behind the couch.
I shared bits of the heart of the sleen with my men, and, together, cupping our hands, we drank its blood in a ritual of sleen hunters.
"Bertram of Lydius has fled," cried Publius, the kitchen master.
I had thought this would be true.
I had looked into the blood, cupped in my hands. It is said that if one sees oneself black and wasted in the blood, one will perish of disease; if one sees oneself torn and bloody, one will perish in battle; if one sees oneself old and gray one will die in peace and leave children.
But the sleen did not speak to me.
I had looked into the blood, cupped in my hands, but had seen nothing, only the blood of a beast. It did not choose to speak to me, or could not.
I rose to my feet.
I did not think I would again look into the blood of a sleen. I would look rather into the eyes of men.
I wiped the blood from my hands on my thighs.
I turned and looked at the naked girl on the furs, half tangled in her chain, it running about her ankle and leg, looped, and lifting to the ring on the heavy collar. She shrank back, her hand before her mouth.
Excerpted from Beasts of Gor by John Norman. Copyright © 1978 John Norman. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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