incidentally, in hostility or anger, and, always, in its attacks. It is apparently physiologically impossible for a Kur to attack without its
shoulders hunching, its claws emerging, and its ears lying back against the head. The nostrils of the beast drank in what information
it wished, as they, like its eyes, surveyed the throng. The trailing capacities of the Kurii are not as superb as those of the sleen, but
they were reputed to be the equal of those of larls. The hearing, similarly, is acute. Again it is equated with that of the  larl, and not
the sharply-sensed sleen. There was little doubt that the day vision of the Kurii was equivalent to that of men, if not superior, and
the night vision, of course, was infinitely superior; their sense of smell, too, of course, was incomparably superior to that of men,
and their sense of hearing as well. Moreover, they, like men, were rational. Like men, they were a single-brained organism, limited
by a spinal column. Their intelligence, by Priest-Kings, though the brain was much larger, was rated as equivalent to that of men,
and showed similar random distributions throughout gene pools. What made them such dreaded foes was not so much their
intelligence or, on the steel worlds, their technological capacities, as their aggressiveness, their persistence their emotional
commitments, their need to populate and expand, their innate savagery. The beast was approximately nine feet in height; I
conjectured its weight in the neighbourhood of eight or nine hundred pounds. Interestingly, Priest-Kings, who are not visually
oriented organisms, find little difference between Kurii and men. To me this seems preposterous, for ones so wise as Priest-Kings,
but, in spite of its obvious falsity, Priest-Kings regard the Kurii and men as rather similar, almost equivalent species. One difference
they do remark between the human and the Kur, and that is that the human, commonly, has an inhibition against killing. This
inhibition the Kur lacks.
“Fellow rational creatures!” called the Kur. It was difficult at first to understand it. It was horrifying, too. Suppose that, at some zoo,
the tiger, in its cage, should look at you, and, in its rumbles, its snarls, its growls, its half roars, you should be able, to your horror,
to detect crude approximations of the phonemes of your native tongue, and you should hear it speaking to you, looking at you,
uttering intelligible sentences. I shuddered.
“Fellow rational creatures!” called the Kur.
The Kur has two rows of fangs. Its mouth is large enough to take into it the head of a full-grown man. Its canines, in the front row
of fangs, top and bottom, are long. When it closes its mouth the upper two canines project over the lower lip and jaw. Its tongue is
long and dark, the interior of its mouth reddish.
“Men of Torvaldsland,” it called, “I speak to you.”
Behind the Kur, to one side, stood two other Kurii. They, like the first, were fearsome creatures. Each carried a wide, round shield, of
iron, some four feet in diameter. Each, too, carried a great, double-bladed iron ax, which, from blade tip to blade tip, was some two
feet in width. The handle of the ax was of carved, green needle wood, round, some four inches in diameter. The axes were some
seven or eight feet in height. The speaker was not armed, save by the natural ferocity of his species. As he spoke, his claws were
retracted. About his left arm, which was some seven feet in length, was a spiral golden armlet. It was his only adornment. The two
Kurii behind him, each, had a golden pendant hanging-from the bottom of each ear. The prehensile paws, or hands, of the Kurii are
six-digited and multiple jointed. The legs are thick and short. In spite of the shortness of the legs the Kur can, when it wishes, by
utilizing its upper appendages, in the manner of a prairie simian, like the baboon, move with great rapidity. It becomes, in running,
what is, in effect, a four-footed animal. It has the erect posture, permitting brain development and facilitating acute binocular vision,
of a biped. This posture, too, of course, greatly in-creases the scanning range of the visual sensors. But, too, its anatomy permits it
to function, in flight and attack, much as a four-legged beast. For short distances it can outrun a full-grown tarsk. It is also said to
possess great stamina, but of this I am much less certain. Few animals, which have not been trained, have, or need, stamina. An
exception would be pack hunters, like the wolves or hunting dogs of Earth.
“We come in peace,” said the Kur.
The men of Torvaldsland, in the assembly field, looked to one another.
“Let us kill them” I heard one whisper to another.
“In the north, in the snows,” said the Kur, “there is gathering of my kind.”
The men stirred uneasily. I listened intently. I knew that Kurii did not, for the most part, inhabit areas frequented by men. On the
other hand, the Kurii on the platform, and other Kurii I had encountered, had been dark-furred, either brownish, or brownish red or
black. I wondered if it were only the darker furred Kurii that roamed southward. But if these Kurii on the platform were snow-
adapted, their fur did not suggest this. I wondered if they might be from the steel ships, either recently, or within too few
generations for a snow-adaptation pattern to have been developed. If the Kurii were sufficiently successful, of course, there would
be no particular likelihood of evolution selecting for snow adaption. Too, it could be that, in summer, the Kurii shed white fur and
developed, in effect, a summer coat. Still I regarded it unlikely that these Kurii were from as far north as his words might suggest.
“How many gather?” asked Svein Blue Tooth, who was on the platform with the Kurii.
Blue Tooth was a large man, bearded, with a broad, heavy face. He had blue eyes, and was blond haired. His hair came to his
shoulders, There was a knife scar under his left eye. He seemed a shrewd, highly intelligent, competent, avaricious man. I thought
him probably an effective jarl. He wore a collar of fur, dyed scarlet, and a long cloak, over the left shoulder, of purple-dyed fur of the
sea sleen. He wore beneath his cloak yellow wool, and a great belt of glistening black, with a gold buckle, to which was attached a
scabbard of oiled, black leather; in this scabbard was a sword, a sword of Torvaldsland, a long sword, with a jeweled pommel, with
double guard.
“We come in peace,” said the Kur.
“How many gather?” pressed Blue Tooth.
About his neck, from a fine, golden chain, pierced, hung the tooth of a Hunjer whale, dyed blue.
“As many as the stones of the beaches,” said the Kur “as many as the needles on the needle trees.”
“What do you want?” called one of the men from the field.
“We come in peace,” said the Kur.
“They do not have white fur,” said I to Ivar Forkbeard, standing now beside me. “It is not likely that they come from the country of
snows.”
“Of course not,” said the Forkbeard.
“Should this information not be brought to the attention of Svein Blue Tooth?” I asked.
“Blue Tooth is no fool,” said the Forkbeard. “There is not a man here who believes Kurii to gather in the country of snows. There is
not enough game to support many in such a place.´
“Then how far would they be away?” I asked
“It is not known,” said the Forkbeard.
“You know us, unfortunately,” said the Kur, to the assembly, “only by our outcasts, wretches driven from our caves, unfit for the
gentilities of civilization, by our diseased and our misfits and our insane, by those who, in spite of our efforts and our kindness, did
not manage to learn our ways of peace and harmony.”
The men of Torvaldsland seemed stunned.
I looked at the great axes in the hands of the two Kurii who accompanied the speaker.
“Too often have we met in war and killing,” said the speaker. “But, in this, you, too, are much to blame. You have, cruelly, and
without compunction, hunted us and, when we sought comradeship with you as brothers, as fellow rational creatures, you have
sought to slay us.”
“Kill them,” muttered more than one man. “They are Kurii.”
“Even now,” said the Kur, the skin drawing back from its fangs, “there are those among you who wish our death, who urge our
destruction.”
The men were silent. The Kur had heard and understood their speech, though he stood far from us, and above us, on the platform
of the assembly, that platform cut into the small, sloping hill over the assembly field. I admired the acuteness of its hearing.
Again the skin drew back from its fangs. I wondered if this were an attempt to simulate a human smile. “It is in friendship that we
come.” It looked about. “We are a simple, peaceful folk,” it said, “interested in the pursuit of agriculture.
Svein Blue Tooth threw back his head and roared with laughter. I regarded him then as a brave man. Beside me, Ivar Forkbeard,
too, laughed, and then others. I wondered if the stomach or stomachs of the Kurii could digest vegetable food.
The assembly broke into laughter. It filled the field. The Kur did not seem angry at the laughter. I wondered if it understood
laughter. To the Kur it might be only a human noise, as meaningless to him as the cries of whales to us.
“You are amused,” it said.
The Kurii, then, had some understanding of laugher Its own lips then drew back, revealing the fangs. I then under-stood this clearly
as a smile.
That the Kurii possessed a sense of humor did not much reassure me as to their nature. I wondered rather at what sort of
situations it would take as its object. The cat, if rational, might find amusement in the twitching and trembling of the mouse which it
is destroying, particle by particle. That a species laughs bespeaks its intelligence, its capacity to reason, not its goodness, not its
harrnlessness. Like a knife; reason is innocent; like a knife, its application is a function of the hand that grasps it, the energies and
will which drive it.
“We were not always simple farmers,” said the Kur. It opened its mouth, that horrid orifice, lined with its double rows of white,
heavy, curved fangs. “No,” it said, “once we were hunters, and our bodies still bear, as reminders, the stains of our cruel past.” It
dropped its head. “We are by these,” it said, and then it lifted its right paw, suddenly exposing the claws, “and these, reminded
that we must be resolute in our attempts to overcome a sometimes recalcitrant nature.” Then it regarded the assembly. “But you
must not hold our past against us. What is important is the present. What is important is not what we were, but what we are, what
we are striving to become. We now wish only to be simple farmers, tilling the soil and leading lives of rustic tranquility.”
The men of Torvaldsland looked at one another.
“How many of you have gathered?” asked Svein Blue Tooth again.
“As many,” said the Kur, “as the stones on the beaches, as many as the needles on the needle trees.”
“What do you want?” he asked.
The Kur turned to the assembly. “It is our wish to traverse your country in a march southward.”
“It would be madness,” said the Forkbeard to me, “to permit large numbers of Kurii into our lands.”
“We seek empty lands to the south, to farm,” said the Kur. “We will take only as much of your land as the width of our march, and
for only as long as it takes to pass.
“Your request seems reasonable,” said Svein Blue Tooth. “We shall deliberate.”
The Kur stepped back with the other Kurii. They spoke together in one of the languages of the Kurii, for there are, I understood, in
the steel worlds, nations and races of such beasts. I could hear little of what they said. I could detect, however, that it more
resembled the snarls and growling of larls than the converse of rational creatures.
“What crop,” asked Ivar Forkbeard, who wore a hood, of the platform, “do the Kurii most favor in their agricultural pursuits?”
I saw the ears of the Kur lie swiftly back against its head. Then it relaxed. Its lips drew back from its fangs. “Sa-Tarna” it said.
The men in the field grunted their understanding. This was the staple crop in Torvaldsland. It was a likely answer.
Ivar then spoke swiftly to one of his men.
“What will you pay us to cross our land?” asked one of the free men of Torvaldsland.
“Let us negotiate such fees,” said the beast, “when such negotiations are apt.
It then stepped back.
Various free men then rose to address the assembly. Some spoke for granting the permission to the Kurii for their march, many
against it. Finally, it was decided that it was indeed germane to the decision to understand what the Kurii would offer to obtain this
permission.
I, in this time, now came to understand that Torvaldsland stood, in effect, as a wall between the Kurii and the more southern
regions of Gor. The Kur, moreover, tends to be an inveterate land animal. They neither swim well nor enjoy the water. They are
uneasy on ships. Moreover, they knew little of the craftsmanship of building a seaworthy ship. That now, suddenly, large numbers of
Kuru were conjoined, and intent upon a march southward could not be a coincidence in the wars of such beasts with Priest-Kings. I
supposed it quite probable this was, in effect, a probe, and yet one within the laws of the Priest-Kings. It was Gorean Kurii that
were clearly, substantially, involved. They carried primitive weapons. They did not even use a translator. In the laws of Priest-Kings
it was up to such species, those of Kurii and men, to resolve their differences in their own way. I had little doubt but what the Kurii,
perhaps organized by Kurii from the steel worlds, were to begin a march in Torvaldsland, which might extend, in a generation to the
southern pole of Gor. The Kurii were now ready to reveal themselves. At last they were ready to march. If they were successful, I
had little doubt that the invasion from space, in its full power, would follow. In their mercy or disinterest, Priest-Kings had spared
many Kurii who had been shipwrecked, or shot down, or marooned on Gor. These beasts, over the centuries grown numerous and
strong, might now be directed by the Kurii of the steel worlds. Doubtless they had been in contact with them. I expected the
speaker himself was of the steel ships painfully taught Gorean. The Kurii native to Gor, or which had been permitted to survive and
settle on Gor, would sure-ly not be likely to have this facility. They and men seldom met, save to kill one another.
The Kuriu, I gathered, did not wish to fight their way to more fertile lands south, but to reach them easily, thus conserving their
numbers and, in effect, cutting Torvaldsland from the south. There was little to be gained by fighting an action the length of
Torvaldsland, and little to be lost by not doing so, which could not be later recouped when power in the south had been
consolidated. I had strong doubts, of course, as to whether a Kur invasion of the south was practical, unless abetted by the strikes
of Kur ships from the steel worlds. The point of the probe, indeed, might be to push Kur power as far south as possible, and,
perhaps, too, for the first time, result in the engagement of the forces of Priest-Kings to turn them back. This would permit an
assessment of the power of Priest-Kings, the extent and nature of which was largely unknown to the Kurii, and, perhaps, to lure
them into exposing themselves in such a way that a space raid might be successfully launched. All in all, I expected the invasion of
the south was, at this point, primarily a probe. If it was successful, the Priest-Kings, to preserve men on the planet might be forced
to intervene, thus breaking their own laws. If the Priest-Kings did not do this, perhaps for reasons of pride, their laws having been
given, then, in effect, Gor might become a Kur world, in which, given local allies, the Priest-Kings might finally be isolated and
destroyed. This was, to my knowledge, the boldest and most dangerous move of the Others, the Kurii, to this date. It utilized large
forces on Gor itself, largely native Kurii in its schemes. Kurii from the ships, of course, as organizers, as officers, might be among
them. And doubtless there would be communication with the ships, somehow. This march might be the first step in an invasion, to
culminate with the beaching of silver ships, in their thousands, raiders from the stars, on the shores of Gor.
It was possible, of course, that the Kurii would attack Torvaldsland when well within it, without large forces marshaled against them.
Once within the country, before an army could be massed against them, they might cut it to pieces, farm by farm.
It was possible, too, of course, that the Kurii had become gentle beasts, fond of farming, renouncing their warlike ways, and turning
humbly to the soil, and the labors of the earth, setting perhaps therein an excellent example for the still half-savage human animals
of Gor, so predatory, so savage, so much concerned with wars, and their codes and honor. Perhaps we could learn much from the
Kurii. Per-haps we could learn from them not to be men, but a more benign animal, more content, more bovine; perhaps they could
teach us, having overcome their proud, restless natures, to become, too, a gentler, sweeter form of being, a more pleasant, a
softer, a happier animal. Perhaps, together with them, tilling the soil, we could construct a more placid world, a world in which
discipline and courage, and curiosity and adventure, and doing what pleases one, would become no more than the neglected,
scorned, half-forgotten anachronisms of remote barbarians. We would then have over-come our manhood, and become one with
the snails, the Kurii and the flowers.
“What will you pay,” asked Svein Blue Tooth, “for per-mission to traverse our land, should that permission be granted?”
“We will take little or nothing,” said the Kur, “and so must be asked to pay nothing.”
There was an angry murmur from the men in the field.
“But,” said the Kur, “as there are many of us, we will need provisions, which we will expect you to furnish us.”
“That we will furnish you?” asked Svein Blue rooth. I saw spear points lifted among the crowd.
“We will require,” said the Kur, “for each day of the march, as provisions, a hundred verr, a hundred tarsk, a hundred bosk, one
hundred healthy property-females, of the sort you refer to as bond-maids.”
“As provisions?” asked the Blue Tooth, puzzled.
Among the Kurii, in their various languages, were words referring to edible meat, food. These general terms, in their scope, included
human beings. These terms were sometimes best translated as “meat animal” and sometimes “cattle” or, sometimes, simply “food.”
The human being was regarded, by Kurii, as falling within the scope of application of such terms. The term translated “cattle” was
sometimes qualified to discriminate between four-legged cattle and two-legged cattle, of which the Kurii were familiar with two
varieties, the bounding Hurt and the human.
“Yes,” said the Kur.
Svein Blue Tooth laughed.
The Kur, this time, did not seem amused. “We do not ask for any of your precious free females,” it said.
The soft flesh of the human female, I knew, was regarded as a delicacy among the Kurii.
“We have better uses for our bond-maids,” said Svein Blue Tooth, “than to feed them to Kurii.”
There was great laughter in the field.
I knew, however, that if such a levy was agreed upon, the girls would be simply chained and, like the cattle they would be given to
the Kurii march camps. Female slaves are at the mercy of their masters, completely.
But I did not expect men of Torvaldsland to give up female slaves. They were too desirable. They would elect to keep them for
themselves.
“We will require, too,” said the Kur, “one thousand male slaves, as porters, to be used, too, in their turn, as provisions.
“And if all this be granted to you,” asked Svein Blue Tooth, “what will you grant us in return?”
“Your lives,” said the Kur.
There was much angry shouting. The blood of the men of Torvaldsland began to rage. They were free men, and free men of Gor.
Weapons were brandished.
“Consider carefully your answer, my friends,” said the Kur. “In all, our requests are reasonable.”
He seemed puzzled at the hostility of the men. He had apparently regarded his terms as generous.
And I supposed that to one of the Kurii, they had indeed been generous. Would we have offered as much to a herd of cattle that
might stand between us and a desired destination?
I saw then the man of Ivar Forkbeard, whom he had earlier sent from his side, climbing to the platform. He carried a wooden bucket,
and another object, wrapped in leather. He conferred with Svein Blue Tooth, and the Blue Tooth smiled.
“I have here,” called Svein Blue Tooth, “a bucket of Sa-Tarna grain. This, in token of hospitality, I offer to our guest.”
The Kur looked into the bucket, at the yellow grain. I saw the claws on the right paw briefly expose themselves, then, swiftly, draw
within the softness of the furred, multiple digited appendage.
“I thank the great Jarl,” said the beast, “and fine grain it is. It will be our hope to have such good fortune with our own crops in the
south. But I must decline to taste your gift for we, like men, and unlike bosk, do not feed on raw grain.”
The Jarl, then, took, from the hands of Ivar Forkbeard´s man, the leather-wrapped object.
It was a round, flat, six-sectioned loaf of Sa-Tarna bread.
The Kur looked at it. I could not read his expression.
“Feed,” invited Svein Blue Tooth.
The Kur reached out and took the loaf. “I shall take this to my camp,” it said, “as a token of the good will of the men of
Torvaldsland.”
“Feed,” invited Svein Blue Tooth.
The two Kurii behind the speaker growled, soft, like irritated larls.
It made the hair on my neck rise to hear them, for I knew they had spoken to one another.
The Kur looked upon the loaf, as we might have looked on grass, or wood, or the shell of a turtle.
Then, slowly, he put it in his mouth. Scarcely had he swallowed it than he howled with nausea, and cast it up.
I knew then that this Kur, if not all, was carnivorous.
It then stood on the platform, its shoulders hunched; I saw the claws expose themselves; the ears were back flat against its head;
its eyes blazed.
A spear came too close to it. It seized it, ripping it from the man, and, with a single snap of its teeth, bit the shaft in two, snapping it
like I might have broken a dried twig. Then it lifted its head and, fangs wild, like a maddened larl, roared in fury. I think there was
not a man in the field who was not, for that instant, frozen in terror. The roar of the beast must have carried even to the ships.
“Do we, free men of Torvaldsland,” called our Svein Blue Tooth, “grant permission to the Kurii to traverse our land?”
“No!” cried one man.
“No,” cried others.
Then the entire field was aflame with the shouts of angry men.
“A thousand of you can die beneath the claws of a single Kur!” cried the Kur.
There were more angry shouting, brandishing of weapons. The speaker, the Kur, with the golden spiral bracelet, turned angrily
away. He was followed by the two others. Marauders of Gor, Chapter 11
On this platform stood Svein Blue Tooth, with two high
men, officers, lieutenants, to the jarl
the thing, its head lifted, surveyed the assembly of
free men. The pupils of its eyes, in the sunlight, were
extremely small and black. They were like points in the
yellowish green cornea. I knew that, in darkness, they
could swell, like dark moons, to fill almost the entire
optic orifice, some three or four inches in width.
Evolution, on some distant, perhaps vanished world,
had adapted this life form for both diurnal and
nocturnal hunting. Doubtless, like the cat, it hunted
when hungry, and its efficient visual capacities, like
those of the cats, meant that there was no time of the
day or night when it might not be feared. Its head
was approximately the width of the chest of a large
man. It had a flat snout, with wide nostrils. Its ears
were large, and pointed. They lifted from the side of
its head, listening, and then lay back against the
furred sides of the head. Kurii, I had been told,
usually, in meeting men, laid the ears back against the
sides of their heads, to increase their resemblance to
humans. The ears are often laid back, also,
This research is done on the series of books written by John Norman, the comments in italics are mine and my point of view.
Woman of Gor
All rights reserved.
Kurii
Encounter with Kurii