Towards the front of the temple, behind the rail, and even at the two doors of the temple, by the great beams which closed them, stood the men of Forkbeard. Many of them were giants, huge men, inured to cold, accustomed to war and the labor of the oar, raised from boyhood on steep, isolated farms near the sea, grown strong and hard on work and meat and cereals. Such men, from boyhood in harsh games had learned to run, to leap, to swim, to throw the spear, to wield the sword, to wield the ax, to stand against steel, even bloodied, unflinching. Such men, these, would be the hardest of the hard, for only the largest, the swiftest and finest might win for themselves a bench on the ship of a captain, and the man great enough to command such as they must be first and mightiest among them, for the men of Torvaldsland will obey no other and that man had been Ivar Forkbeard. Marauders of Gor, page 38
There was probably not one man at the thing-fair who took him truly to be of Ax Glacier; most obviously he did not have the epicanthic fold, which helps to protect the eyes of the men of Ax Glacier against extreme cold; further, he was much too large to be taken easily as a man of Ax Glacier; their diet does not produce, on the whole, large bodies; further, their climate tends to select for short, fat bodies, for such, physiologically, are easiest to maintain in the therostatic equilibrium in great cold; long, thin bodies, of course, are easiest to maintain therostatic equilibrium in great heat, providing more exposure for cooling. Lastly, his coloring, though his hair was dark, was surely not that of the far north, but, though swarthy, more akin to that of Torvaldsland, particularly western Torvaldsland. Only a madman, or a fool, might have taken seriously his claim to be of the Ax Glacier country. Much speculation had coursed among the contest fields as to the true identity of the smooth-shaven Thorgeir. Marauders of Gor, page 139
The Torvaldsland Salute
I looked to the man behind me, and to the others. They lifted their axes in their right hand. It was the salute of Torvaldsland. I heard their cheers. Marauders of Gor, page 43
Men were now running from the palisade and the fields down to the dock. There were bare-headed, and wore shaggy jackets. Some wore trousers of skin, others tunics of dyed wool. Marauders of Gor, page 81
I saw people running down the sloping green land, toward the water. Several came from within the palisade. Among them, white kirtled, collared, excited, ran bond-maids. These, upon the arrival of their master, are permitted to greet him. The men of the north enjoy the bright eyes, the leaping bodies, the squealing, the greetings of their bond-maids. In the fields I saw an overseer, clad in scarlet, with a gesture of his hand, releasing the thralls. Then, they, too, ran down towards the water. Marauders of Gor, page 82
“I am an outlaw,” said Ivar. “In a duel I killed Finn Broadbelt.”
“It was a duel,” I said.” Finn Broadbelt was the cousin of Jarl Svein Blue Tooth.
“Ah,” I said. Svein Blue Tooth was the high jarl of Torvaldsland, in the sense that he was generally regarded as the most powerful. In his hall, it was said he fed a thousand men. Beyond this his heralds could carry the war arrow, it was said, to ten thousand farms. Ten ships he had at his own wharves, and, it was said, he could summon a hundred more. Marauders of Gor, page 93
The Forkbeard, too, and his men, were armed. Blows are not to be struck at the thing, but not even the law of the thing, with all its might, would have the temerity to advise the man of Torvaldsland to arrive or move about unarmed. The man of Torvaldsland never leaves his house unless he is armed; and, within his house, his weapons are always near at hand, usually hung on the wall behind his couch, at least a foot beyond the reach of a bond-maid whose ankle is chained. Should she, lying on her back, look back and up she sees, on the wall, the shield, the helmet, the spear and ax, the sword, in its sheath, of her master. They are visible symbols of the force by which she is kept in bondage, by which she is kept only a girl, whose belly is beneath his sword. Marauders of Gor, page 141-142
Most of the men at the thing were free farmers, blond-haired, blue-eyed and proud, men with strong limbs and work-roughened hands; many wore braided hair; many wore talmits of their district; for the thing their holiday best had been donned; many wore heavy woolen jackets, scrubbed with water and bosk urine, which contains ammonia as it’s cleaning agent; all were armed, usually with ax or sword; some wore their helmets; others had them, with their shields, slung at their back. At the thing, to which each free man must come, unless he work his farm alone and cannot leave it, each man must be present, for the inspection of his Jarl’s officer, a helmet, shield and either sword or ax or spear, in good condition. Each man, generally, save he in the direct hire of the Jarl, is responsible for the existence and condition of his own equipment and weapons. A man in direct fee with the Jarl is, in effect, a mercenary; the Jarl himself, from his gold, and stores, where necessary or desirable, arms the man; this expense, of course, is seldom necessary in Torvaldsland; sometimes, however, a man may break a sword or lose an ax in battle, perhaps in the body of a foe, falling from a ship; in such a case the Jarl would make good the loss; he is not responsible for similar losses, however, among free farmers.Those farmers who do not attend the thing, being the sole workers on their farms, must, nonetheless, maintain the regulation armament; once annually it is to be presented before a Jarl’s officer, who, for this purpose, visits various districts. When the war arrow is carried, of course, all free men are to respond; in such a case the farm may suffer, and his companion and children know great hardship; in leaving his family, the farmer, weapons upon his shoulder, speaks simply to them. “The war arrow has been carried to my house,” he tells them.
We saw, too, many chieftains, and captains, and minor Jarls, in the crowd, each with his retinue. These high men were sumptuously garbed, richly cloaked and helmeted, often with great axes, inlaid with gold. Their cloaks were usually scarlet or purple, long and swirling, and held with golden clasps. They wore them, always, as is common in Torvaldsland, in such a way that the right arm, the sword arm, is free.Their men, too, often wore cloaks, and, about their arms, spiral rings of gold and silver, and , on their wrists, jewel-studded bands.
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. Marauders of Gor, page 172
“How many gather?” pressed Blue Tooth.
About his neck, from a fine, golden chain, pierced, hung the tooth of a Hunjer whale, dyed blue. Marauders of Gor, page 172
Though the hall of Ivar Forkbeard was built only of turf and stone, and though he himself was an outlaw, he had met me at its door, after I had been bidden wait outside, in his finest garments of scarlet and gold, and carrying a bowl of water and a towel. “Welcome to the hall of Ivar Forkbeard,” he had said. I had washed my hands and face in the bowl, held by the master of the house himself, and dried myself on the towel. Then invited within I had been seated across the hall, he had given me a long swirling cloak of the fur of the sea sleen; a bronze-headed spear; a shield of painted wood, reinforced with bosses of iron; the shield was red in color, the bosses were enameled yellow; a helmet, conical, of iron, with hanging chain, and a steel nosepiece, that might be raised and lowered in its bands; and, too, a shirt and trousers of skin; and, too, a broad ax, formed in the fashion of Torvaldsland, large, curved, single-bladed; and four rings of gold, that might be worn on the arm. Marauders of Gor, page 96
“Bid them welcome,” said the Blue Tooth, and he himself left the table, taking a bowl of water and towel to meet the guests at the portal. “Refresh yourselves,” said he to them, “and enter.”
Two men, with followers, acknowledged the greeting Svein Blue Tooth; they washed their hands, and their faces and they came forward. I stood. Marauders of Gor, page 281
On each side of the high seat were long benches. Opposite, on the other side of the table, too, were long benches. A seat of honor, incidentally, was that opposite the high seat, where one might converse with the host. The high seat, though spoken of as “high,” was the same height as the other benches. The men of Torvaldsland, thus, look across the table at one another, not one down upon the other. The seat is “high” in the sense of being a seat of great honor. There was, extending almost the length of the hall, a pit for a “long fire” over which food was prepared for retainers. On the long sides of the hall, on the north and south, there were long tables, with benches. Salt, in its bowls on the tables, divided men into rankings. Those sitting above the salt were accorded greater prestige than those sitting below it. If one sat between the salt and the high seat, one sat “above” the salt; if one sat between the salt and the en-trance to the hall, one sat “below” the salt. At the high-seat table, that at which the high seat sat, all counted as being “above the salt.” Similarly, at the tables parallel to the high-seat table, smaller tables flanking the long fire on both sides, the tables nearest the high seat counted as being above the salt, those farthest away being below the salt. The division, was made approximately at the third of the hall closest to the high seat, but could shift, depending on the numbers of those in attendance worthy to be above the salt. The line, so to speak, imaginary to be sure, but definitely felt as a social reality, dividing those above from those below the salt, was uniformly “drawn” across the width of the hall. Thus, it was not the case that one at a long side table, who was above the salt, would be farther away from the high seat than one at one of the center tables, who was “below” the salt. In Ivar Forkbeard’s hall, incidentally, the salt distinctions were not drawn; in his hall all being comrades in arms, all were “above the salt.” Svein Blue Tooth’s holdings, on the other hand, were quite large and complexly organized. It would not have seemed proper, at least in the eyes of Svein Blue Tooth and others, for a high officer to sit at the same table with a fellow whose main occupation was supervising thralls in the tending of verr. Salt, incidentally, is obtained by the men of Torvaldsland, most commonly, from sea water or from the burning of seaweed. It is also, however, a trade commodity, and is sometimes taken in raids. The red and yellow salts of the south, some of which I saw on the tables, are not domestic to Torvaldsland. The arrangements of tables, incidentally, varies in different halls. I describe those appointments characterizing the hall of Blue Tooth. It is common, however, for the entrance of the hall to be oriented toward the morning sun, and for the high seat to face the entrance. None may enter without being seen from the high seat. Similarly, none are allowed to sit behind the high seat. In a rude country, these defensive measures are doubtless a sensible precaution. About the edges of the hall hung the shields of warriors, with their weapons. Even those who sat commonly at the center tables, and were warriors, kept their shields and spears at the wall. At night, each man would sleep in his furs behind the tables, under his weapons. High officers, of course, and the Blue Tooth, and members of his family, would retire to private rooms. Marauders of Gor, page 187-188
On the wooden dais, draped in purple, set on the contest fields, in heavy, carved chairs, sat Svein Blue Tooth and his woman, Bera. Both wore their finery. About them, some on the dais, and some below it, stood his high officers, and his men of law, his counselors, his captains, and the chief men from his scattered farms and holdings; too, much in evidence, were more than four hundred of his men-at-arms. In the crowd, too, in their white robes, were rune-priests. Marauders of Gor, page 181-182
“This man,” called out Svein Blue Tooth, obviously impressed, “has earned in these contests six talmits. Never in the history of the thing has there been so high a winner.” Svein Blue Tooth was of Torvaldsland himself. He well understood the mightiness of the winner’s exploits. It was rare for one man to win even two talmits. Thousands entered the contests. Only one, in each contest, could achieve the winner’s talmit. “I distinguish myself, and enter into the history of our land,” said the Blue Tooth, “in being the high Jarl to award these talmits in the games. As we honor this man we, in doing this, similarly do honor unto ourselves.” This was cultural in Torvaldsland. One is regarded as being honored when one rightly bestows honor. It is not like one man taking something from another, so much as it is like an exchanging of gifts. To a somewhat lesser extent, it might be mentioned, this is also cultural in the south.
Svein Blue Tooth was obviously pleased that it had been in his Jarlship that six talmits had been won at the thing by a single, redoubtable champion. Marauders of Gor, page 182
The high rune-priest lifted the sacred temple ring.
“The peace of the thing,” said the Blue Tooth, “and the peace of my house, for the time of the thing, is upon you. This I have sworn. This I uphold.”
There was much cheering. The Forkbeard beamed. “I knew it would be so, my Jarl,” he said. The high rune-priest lowered the temple ring.
I rather admired Svein Blue Tooth. He was a man of his word. By his word he would stand, even though, as in the present case, any objective observer would have been forced to admit that his provocation to betray it, his temptation to betray it, must have been unusual in the extreme. In honor such a high jarl must set an example to the men of Torvaldsland. He had, nobly, if not cheerfully, set the example.
“By tomorrow night,” said he, “when the thing is done, be free of this place. My oath is for the time of the thing, and for no longer.” Marauders of Gor, page 189-190
Torvalsmark and runes
The passage extended beyond us, disappearing in the darkness beyond the light of our torches. It was about eight feet in height and width. It was carved from the living rock. Along its edges, spaced some twelve feet from one another, on both sides, were torch rings, with unlit torches, which might be lit. The piles of tinder and flint and steel, or iron pyrites, lay now behind us, or to one side. I lifted the torch to the borders, running linearly down the chamber, disappearing into the darkness before us. The lettering was in the high, angular script of the north; the pictographs seemed primitive.
“These are old runes,” said Ivar.
“Can you read them?” I asked.
“No,” said Ivar.
My hair rose on the back of my neck. I looked at one of the pictographs. It was a man astride a quadruped.
“Look,” said I to the Forkbeard.
“Interesting,” said the Forkbeard. “It is a representation of a man riding a mythological beast, doubtless an illustration based upon some saga with which I am unfamiliar.”
He continued on.
I lingered by the pictograph. I had seen nothing like it on Gor.
“Follow me,” said the Forkbeard.
I left the pictograph to follow him. I wondered on the man who had carved it. It was indeed old, perhaps ancient. It was drawn by one who had been familiar with a world unknown to Ivar Forkbeard. There was no mistaking the quadruped on which the rider was mounted. It was a horse.
The passage now enlarged. We felt lost in it. It was still squarish, some twenty feet in height and width. It was now much more decorated and carved than it had been, and, in the light of the torches, we could see that much color had been used in its decoration. Pictographs were much more numerous now, and, instead of being linearly bordered the walls were now decorated in columns of runes and designs, and pictographs. Torches, unlit, in wall rings, were still illuminated as we passed near them. Many of the columns carved, with painted surfaces, on the walls, reminded me of rune stones. These stones, incidentally, are normally quite colorful, and can often be seen at great distances. Each year their paint is freshened, commonly on the vigil of the vernal equinox, which, in the north, as commonly in the south marks the new year. Religious rune stones are repainted by rune-priests on the vigil of the fest-season of Odin, which on Gor, takes place in the fall. If the stones were not tended either by farmers on whose lands they lie, or by villagers in whose locales they lie, or by rune-priests, in a few years, the paint would be gone, leaving only the plain stone. The most famous rune stone in the north is that on Einar’s Skerry, which marks the northland’s southern border.
“Can you not read these runes?” I asked Ivar, again
“I am not a rune-priest,” he said.
Ivar’s reply was not a little belligerent. I knew him able to read some rune markings. I gathered that these, perhaps because of antiquity or dialect, were beyond him. Ivar’s attitude toward reading was not unlike that of many of the north. He had been taught some rune signs as a boy, that he could understand important stones, for in these stones were the names of mighty men and songs of their deeds, but it had not been expected of him that he would be in any sense a fluent reader. Ivar, like many of those in the north, was a passable reader, but took care to conceal this fact. He belonged to the class of men who could hire their reading done for them, much as he could buy thralls to do his farming. It was not regarded as dignified for a warrior to be too expert with letters, such being a task beneath warriors. To have a scribe’s skills would tend to embarrass a man of arms, and tend to lower his prestige among his peers. Many of the north, then, were rather proud of their illiteracy, or seml-illiteracy. It was expected of them. It honored them. His tools were not the pen and parchment, but the sword, the bow, the ax and spear. Besides simple runes, the boy in the north is also taught tallying, counting, addition and subtraction, for such may be of use in trading or on the farm. He is also taught weighing. Much of his education, of course, consists in being taken into a house, and taught arms, hunting and the sea. He profits, too, from the sagas, which the skalds sing, journeying from hall to hall. In the fest-season of Odin a fine skald is difficult to bring to one’s hall. One must bid high. Sometimes they are kidnapped, and, after the season’s singing, given much gold and freed. I had not, of course, intended to insult the Forkbeard. Marauders of Gor, page 230-231
The carrying of the war arrow is of great importance in Torvaldsland and men respond in number, a man upon receiving it will touch it and pledge his loyalty to itand respond, "I will come.”
With us stood Bjarni of Thorstein Camp, and with him he who had in the formal duel carried his shield. At Bjarni’s shoulder, too, stood the young man, scarcely more than a boy, whom he had in that duel intended to fight. With the boy, too, was his friend, who would have carried the shield for him. The war arrow had been carried. It had been carried to the Inlet of Green Cliffs, to Thorstein Camp, from Ax Glacier to Einar’s Skerry; it had been carried to the high farms, to the lakes, to the coast; it had been carried on foot and by swift ship; a thousand arrows, each touched to the arrow of Torvald, had been carried, and where the arrow had been carried, men had touched it, saying “I will come.” They came. Captains and rovers, farmers, fishermen, hunters, weavers of nets, smiths, carvers of wood, tradesmen and traders, men with little more than leather and an ax to their name, and jarls in purple cloaks, with golden pommels on their swords. And among them stood, too, thralls. Their heads were not lower than those with whom they stood. Among them was the lad called Tarsk, formerly Wulfstan of Kassau, to whom Thyri had once been given for the night. In the night of the at-tack he, at the Forkbeard’s encampment near the thing field, with an ax, had slain a Kur. I remembered finding the carcass of the animal beneath the fallen, half-burned canvas of the Forkbeard’s tent. Thralls are not permitted to touch the war arrow, but they are permitted to kneel to those who have. Wulfstan had handed the Forkbeard the ax, disarming himself, and had then knelt before him, putting his head to his feet. Thralls may be slain for so much as touching a weapon. He had taken dirt from beneath the feet of the Forkbeard and, kneeling, had poured it on his head. “Rise, Thrall,” had said the Forkbeard. The young man had then stood, and straightly, head high, before the Forkbeard. The Forkbeard threw him back the ax. “Carry it,” said the Forkbeard. Marauders of Gor, page 230-237-238
Across the valley, there were others, men, waiting, too. The signal would be a shield signal, taking the morning sun, a flash, and then the attack. Hundreds of war cries would be mingled as men poured down the slopes. There were men here, too, even from Hunjer, Sjkern, Helmutsport and Scagnar itself, on whose cliffs Thorgard’s fortress ruled. Marauders of Gor, page 239
Ivar Forkbeard, followed by Tarl Red Hair and Wulfstan of Torvaldsland, heeled by the bond-maid, Hilda, picked his way toward the burned, looted tents of Thorgard of Scagnar. In the valley there burned, still, a thousand fires. Here and there, mounted on stakes, were the heads of Kurii. W stepped over broken axes, shattered poles, torn leather, from the lodges of the Kurii. We passed a dozen men emptying kegs of ale. It had become cloudy. We heard a ship’s song from two hundred yards to our right. We passed a group of men who had captured a Kur. A heavy block of wood had been thrust into its jaws and, with leather, bound there. It was bleeding at the left side of its face. Its paws had been tied together at its belly and its legs tied in leather ankle shackles. They were beating it back and forth between them with the butts of spears. “Down! Roll over!” commanded one of the men. It was beaten to its knees and then belly. Prodded by spears it rolled over. A girl fled past us, a sleen, brown and black, padding at her heels. I slipped once. The dirt, in many places, was soft, from the blood. We picked our way among bodies, mostly those of Kurii, for the surprise, the fury, had been ours. We passed five men, about fire, roasting a haunch of Kur. The smell was heavy, and sweet, like blood. In the distance, visible, was the height the Torvaldsberg. I saw Hrolf, from the East, the bearded giant who had joined our forces, asking only to fight with us, leaning on his spear, soberly, surveying the field. In a other place we saw a framework of poles set on the field. From the crossbar, hung by their ankles, were the bodies five Kurii. Two were being dressed for the spit; two, as yet had been untouched; blood was being drained into a helm from the neck of the fifth.
“Ivar Forkbeard!” cried the man holding the helmet. He lifted the helmet to Ivar. Over the helmet Ivar doubled and held his fist, making the sign of Thor. Then he drank, a handed to me the helmet. I poured a drop from the helm to the reddish, muddied earth. “Ta-Sardar-Gor,” said I, “the Priest-Kings of Gor.” I looked into the blood. I saw nothing. Only the blood of a Kur. Then I drank. “May the ferocity of the Kur be in you!” cried the man. Then, taking the helmet back, and throwing his head back, he drained it, blood running at the side of his mouth, trickling to the fur at the collar of his jacket. Men about cheered. “Come,” said Ivar to us. “Look,” said a man nearby. He was cutting, with a ship’s knife, a ring of reddish alloy from the arm of a fallen Kur. The knife could not cut the ring. He lifted it, obdurate and bloody. It was the only ornament the beast wore. “A high officer,” said Ivar. “Yes,” said the man. Be hind him stood a blond slave girl, naked, her hair falling to her waist. I gathered she belonged to him. “We are victorious!” said the man to her, brandishing the ring. Over her iron collar she wore a heavy leather Kur collar, high, heavily sewn, with its large ring. He thrust her two wrists, before her body, into the ring he had cut from the Kur. He then tied them inside, and to, the ring. He then, from his belt, took a long length of binding fiber and, doubling it, looped it, securing it at its center to the ring, leaving two long ends. He then threw her, on her back, over the body, head down, of the fallen Kur. He took the two loose ends of the binding fiber and, taking them under the body of the fallen Kur, dragged her wrists, elbows bent, over and above her head; he then, bending her knees, tied one of the loose ends about her left ankle, and the other about her right. It was the Gorean love bow. He then, regarding her, cut the Kur collar from her throat with the ship’s knife. He threw it aside. She now wore only one collar, his. She closed her eyes. She moved, lying across it, on the body of the Kur. It was still warm. “It is we who are victorious,” said he. She opened her eyes. “It is you who are victorious, Master,” she said. Already her hips were moving. “I am only a slave girl,” she wept. With a roaring laugh he fell upon her. Marauders of Gor, page 260-261
Hilda, naked, in her collar, knelt to one side and behind the Forkbeard. She covered herself with her hands as best she could, her head down.
The Forkbeard gestured to the several captive slave girls, loot from Thorgard’s tent, kneeling, wrists bound behind their backs, in their brief, mired silk, in throat coffle, those girls Olga, light-heartedly, had secured for him. “Take them to the pen,” he said to Olga. Olga slapped her switch in the palm of her hand. “On your feet, Slaves,” she said. The girls struggled to their feet. “To the pen, hurry!” she snapped. “You will be given to men!” The girls began to run. As each one passed Olga, she, below the small of the back, was expedited with a sharp stroke of the switch. Then Olga, much pleased, laughing, trotting beside them, herded the running, weeping, stumbling coffle toward the pen.
Now the Forkbeard returned his attention to Thorgard of Scagnar, who regarded him evenly.
“Some of his men escaped,” said Gorm. Then Gorm said, “Shall we strip him?”
“No,” said the Forkbeard.
“Kneel,” said Gorm to Thorgard of Scagnar, roughly. He prodded him with the butt of a spear.
“No,” said the Forkbeard.
The two men faced one another. Then the Forkbeard said, “Cut him loose.”
It was done.
“Give him a sword,” said the Forkbeard.
This, too, was done, and the men, and the girl, too, Hilda, stepped back, clearing a circle for the two men. Thorgard gripped the hilt of the sword. It was cloudy. “You were al-ways a fool,” said Thorgard to the Forkbeard.
“No man is without his weakness,” said Ivar.
Suddenly, crying with rage, his beard wild behind him, Thorgard of Scagnar, a mighty foe, now armed, rushed upon the Forkbeard, who fended away the blow. I could tell the weight of the stroke by the way it fell on the blade, and how the Forkbeard’s blade responded to it. Thorgard was an immensely strong man. I had little doubt that he could beat the arm of a man to weakness, and then, when it was slowed, tired, no longer able to respond with sureness, with reflexive swiftness, in a great attack, he would hack through to the body. I had seen such men fight before. Once the sheer weight of the attacker’s blows had turned and driven, inter-posed, his opponent’s sword half through the man’s own neck. But I did not think the Forkbeard would weary. On his own ship he, not unoften, drew oar. He accepted the driving blows, like iron thunderbolts, on his own blade, turn-ing them aside. But he struck little. Hilda, her hand before her mouth, eyes frightened, watched this war of two so mighty combatants. Too, of course, the weight of such blows, particularly with the long, heavy swords of Torvaldsland, take their toll from the striking arm, as well as the fending arm.
Suddenly Thorgard stepped back. The Forkbeard grinned at him. The Forkbeard was not weakened. Thorgard stepped back another step, warily. The Forkbeard followed him. I saw stress in the eyes of Thorgard, and, for the first time, apprehension. He had spent much strength.
“It is I who am the fool,” said Thorgard.
“You could not know,” said the Forkbeard.
Then Ivar Forkbeard, as we followed, step by step, drove Thorgard back. For more than a hundred yards did he drive him back, blow following blow.
They stopped once, regarding one another. There seemed to be now little doubt as to the outcome of the battle.
Then we followed further, even up the slope of the valley, and to a high place, cliffed, which overlooked Thassa.
At last, his back to the cliff, Thorgard of Scagnar could retreat no further. He could no longer lift his arm.
Behind him, green and beautiful, stretched Thassa. The sky was cloudy. There was a slight wind, which moved his hair and beard.
On Thassa, some hundreds of yards offshore, were ships. One of these I noted was Black Sleen, the ship of Thorgard. Gorm had told us that some of his men had escaped. They had managed to flee to the ship, and make away.
Beside me, agonized, I saw the eyes of Hilda.
“Strike,” said Thorgard.
It would have been a simple blow. The men of Ivar Forkbeard were stunned.
Ivar returned to us. “I slipped,” he said.
Gorm and others ran to the cliff. Thorgard, seizing his opportunity, had turned and plunged to the waters below. We could see him swimming. From Black Sleen we saw a small boat being lowered, rowing toward him.
“It was careless of me,” admitted the Forkbeard.
Hilda crept to him, and knelt before him. She put her head softly to his feet, and then lifted her head and, tears in her eyes, looked up at him. “A girl is grateful,” she said, “—my Jarl.”
“To the pen with you, Wench,” said the Forkbeard.
“Yes,” she said, “my Jarl! Yes!” She leapt up. When she turned about, the Forkbeard dealt her a mighty blow, swift and stinging, with the flat of his sword. She was, after all, only a common bond-maid. She cried out, startled, sobbing, and stumbled more than a dozen steps before she regained her balance. Then she turned and, sobbing, laughing, cried out joyfully, “I love you, my Jarl! I love you!” He raised the weapon again, flat side threatening her, and she turned and, laughing, sobbing, only one of his girls, fled to the pen. Marauders of Gor, page 264-266
The ax drew back to the termination of its arc, ready for the flashing, circular, flattish sweep that would cut me in two. Then the beast stopped, puzzled. Scarcely had it seen the flash of Tuchuk steel, the saddle knife, its blade balanced, nine inches in length, which had slipped from my sleeve, turned, and, hurled, struck him. It tottered, eyes wild, not understanding, then understanding, the hilt protruding from its chest, stopped only by the guard, the blade fixed in the vast eight-valved heart. It took two steps forward. Then it fell, the ax clattering on the stone. It rolled on its back. Long ago, at a banquet in Turia, Kamchak of the Tuchuks had taught me this trick. Where one may not go armed, there it is well to go armed.
The huge chest shook. I saw it rise and fall. Its eyes turned toward me.
“I thought,” it said, “humans were honorable.”
“You are mistaken,” I said.
It reached out its paw toward me. “Foe,” it said. “Yes,” I said. The paw gripped me, and I it. Long ago, in the Sardar, Misk, the Priest-King, had told me that Priest-Kings see little difference between Kurii and men, that they regarded them as equivalent species.
The lips of the Kur drew back. I saw the fangs. It was, I suppose, a frightening expression, terrifying, but I did not see it that way.
It was a Kur smile.
Then it died. Marauders of Gor, page 274
“I would speak!” called Svein Blue Tooth, rising to his feet, lifting a horn of mead. “Outlawry,” said he, “once pro-claimed by the hall of Blue Tooth against the person of Ivar Forkbeard, he of Forkbeard’s Landfall, is herewith, in this hall, in this place, in the name of Svein Blue Tooth, Jarl of Torvaldsland, lifted!”
There was a great cheer.
“Charges appertaining thereto,” roared the Blue Tooth, spilling mead, “are revoked!”
There were more cheers among the ashes, the blackened, fallen timbers, of the Blue Tooth’s razed hall, amidst which the benches and tables of the feast were set. Many were the lamps, bowls on spears, which burned, and torches, too. And brightly glowed the long fire in the hall, over which tarsk and bosk, crackling and glistening with hot fat, roasted, turned heavily on spits by eager, laughing bond-maids.
“Svein Blue Tooth and I,” said Ivar Forkbeard, rising, spilling Hilda from his lap, “have had our differences.”
There was much laughter. The Forkbeard had had a price on his head. The Blue Tooth had sought his life.
“Doubtless,” said he, “it is possible we shall have them again.”
There was again much laughter.
“For a man, to be great, needs great enemies, great foes.” The Forkbeard then lifted his mead to Svein Blue Tooth. “You are a great man, Svein Blue Tooth,” said he, “and you have been a great enemy.”
“I shall now,” said the Blue Tooth, “if it be within my power, prove to be so good a friend.”
Then the Blue Tooth climbed to the table’s top and stood there, and the Forkbeard, astonished, climbed, too, to the surface of the table. Then the men strode to one another, meeting one another and, weeping, embraced.
Few eyes, I think, in the ruins of that hall, under the torchlight, beneath the stars, the height of the Torvaldsberg in the distance, illuminated in the light of the three moons, were dry.
Svein Blue Tooth, his arms about the Forkbeard, cried out, hoarsely. “Know this, that from this day forward, Ivar Forkbeard stands among the Jarls of Torvaldsland!?’
We stood and cheered the fortune, the honor, that the Blue Tooth did unto the Forkbeard.
Ivar, no longer outlaw, now stood among the Jarls of the north.
Spear blades rang on shields. I stood proudly, strong in my happiness for the fortune of my friend. Marauders of Gor, page 279-280
She lifted the hem of her kirtle of scarlet wool about the ankles of her black shoes and turned away. She looked back, briefly, once. She indicated the kneeling slaves. “Kirtle their shame,” she said. Then strode away, followed by several men-at-arms.
“Kirtle your shame!” cried the Forkbeard.
His girls, quickly, frightened, tears in their eyes, drew about them as well as they could their kirtles. They covered, as well as they could, their bodies, having been shamed by the free woman. It is a common practice of free women, for some reason, to attempt to make female slave ashamed of her body.
“Who was that?” I asked.
“Bera,” said he, “companion of Svein Blue Tooth.”
My heart sank.
“He should put her in a collar,” said the Forkbeard. I was scandalized at the very thought.
“She needs the whip,” he said. Then he looked at his girls. “What have you done?” he asked. “Drop your kirtles, and hitch them up!”
Laughing, once more proud of their bodies, the girls of the Forkbeard insolently slung their kirtles low on their hips, and hitched them high over their calves, even half way up their delightful thighs. Marauders of Gor, page 157
“Yes,” she said, drawing herself up, beautifully. I wondered if she were wise, to stand so beautifully before a Gorean warrior. Marauders of Gor, page 271
I rose to my feet and regarded Telima. She stood some ten feet away, her hand before her mouth.
“I have something for you,” I told her. From my pouch I withdrew the golden armlet which had been hers. It had been that which, presented to me in Port Kar, bloodied, had lured me to the north, seeking to avenge her.
She placed the golden armlet on her upper left arm. “I shall return to the rence,” she said.
“I have something else for you,” I told her. “Come here.
She approached me. From my pouch I drew forth a leather Kur collar, with its lock, and, sewn in leather, its large, rounded ring. “What is it?” she asked, apprehensively. I took it behind her neck, and then, closing it about her throat, thrust the large, flattish bolt, snapping it, into the locking breech. The two edges of metal, bordered by the leather, fitted closely together. The collar is some three inches in height. The girl must keep her chin up. “It is the collar of a Kur cow,” I told her.
“No!” she cried. I turned her about and, taking a pair of the rude iron slave bracelets of the north, black and common, which bond-maids are commonly secured locked her wrists behind her back. I then, with the bloodied Quiva, the Tuchuk saddle knife, cut her clothes from her Then, by a length of binding fiber, looped double in the ring of her collar, tied her on her knees to the foot of the Kur Then, with the knife, I knelt at the Kur’s throat. Marauders of Gor, page 274-275
Free Woman of Torvaldsland
Notes on Habiliment
She wore rich green velvet, closed high about her neck, trimmed with gold.
She took the next vial, which I had opened for her. “No,” she said, handing it back to me.
Her hair, long, was braided. It was tied with golden string. Marauders of Gor, page 112
Her hands wore many rings. About her neck she wore, looped, four chains of gold, with pendants.On her wrists were bracelets of silver and gold.Marauders of Gor, page 114
My assistant and I knelt before her, at her feet. She wore, beneath her green velvet, golden shoes. Marauders of Gor, page 115
The freewoman was a tall woman, large. She wore a great cape of fur, of white sea-sleen, thrown back to reveal the whiteness of her arms. Her kirtle was of the finest wool of Ar, dyed scarlet, with black trimmings. She wore two brooches, both carved of the horn of kailiauk, mounted in gold. At her waist she wore a jewelled scabbard, protruding from which I saw the ornamented, twisted blade of a Turian dagger; free women in Torvaldsland commonly carry a knife; at her belt, too, hung her scissors, and a ring of many keys, indicating that her hall contained many chests or doors; her hair was worn high, wrapped about a comb, matching the brooches, of the horn of kailiauk; the fact that her hair was worn dressed indicated that she stood in companionship;the number of keys, together with the scissors, indicated that she was mistress of a great house. She had gray eyes; her hair was dark; her face was cold, and harsh. Marauders of Gor, page 154 to 156
Near him, beside the high seat, sat his woman, Bera, her hair worn high on her head, in a kirtle of yellow wool with scarlet cape of the fur of the red sea sleen, and, about her neck, necklaces of gold. Marauders of Gor, page 194
This is a wooden walkway, about five feet wide and one hundred feet long. On the walkway, back and forth, smiling, looking one way then the other, turning about, parade stripped bond-maids. They are not for sale, though many are sold from the platform. The platform is instituted for the pleasure of the free men. It is not unanalogous to the talmit competitions, though no talmit is awarded. There are judges, usually minor Jarls and slavers. No judge, incidentally, is female. No female is regarded as competent to judge a female’s beauty; only a man, it is said, can do that. Marauders of Gor, page 153
Free women view the platform with stern disapproval; on it, female beauty is displayed for the inspection of men; this, for some reason, outrages them;perhaps they are furious because they cannot display their own beauty, or that they are not themselves as beautiful as women found fit, by lusty men with discerning eyes, for slavery; it is difficult to know what the truth is in such matters; these matters are further complicated, particularly in the north,by the conviction among free women that free women are above such things as sex, and that only low and loose girls, and slaves, are interested in such matters; free women of the north regard themselves as superior to sex;many are frigid, at least until carried off and collared;they often insist that, even when they have faces and figures that drive men wild, that it is their mind on which he must concentrate his attentions; some free men, to their misery, and the perhaps surprising irritation of the female, attempt to comply with this imperative; they are fools enough to believe what such women claim is the truth about themselves; they should listen instead to the dreams and fantasies of women, and recall, for their instruction, the responses of a free woman, once collared, squirming in the chains of a bond-maid. These teach us truths which many women dare not speak and which, by others, are denied, interestingly, with a most psychologically revealing hysteria and vehemence. “No woman,” it is said, “knows truly what she is until she has worn the collar.” Some free women apparently fear sex because they feel it lowers the woman. This is quite correct. In few, if any, human relationships is there perfect equality. The subtle tensions of dominance and submission, universal in the animal world, remain ineradicably in our blood; they may be thwarted and frustrated but, thwarted and frustrated, they will remain. It is the nature of the male, among the mammals, to dominate, that of the female to submit. The fact that humans have minds does not cancel the truths of the blood, but permits their enrichment and enhancement, their expression in physical and psychological ecstasies far beyond the reach of simpler organisms; the female slave submits to her master in a thousand dimensions, in each of which she is his slave, in each of which he dominates her.
In the lowering of the woman, of course, a common consequence of her helplessness in the arms of a powerful male, her surrenderings, her being forced to submit, she finds, incredibly to some perhaps, her freedom, her ecstasy, her fulfillment, her exaltation, her joy; in the Gorean mind this matter is simple; it is the nature of the female to submit; accordingly, it is natural that, when she is forced to acknowledge, accept, express and reveal this nature, that she should be almost deliriously joyful, and thankful, to her master; she has been taught her womanhood; no longer is she a sexless, competitive pseudoman; she is then, as she was not before, female; she then finds herself, perhaps for the first time, clearly differentiated from the male, and vulnerably, joyfully, complementary to him; she has, of course, no choice in this matter; it is not permitted her; collared, she submits; I know of no group of women as joyful, as spontaneous, as loving and vital, as healthy and beautiful, as excited, as free in their delights and emotions, as Gorean slave girls; it is true they must live under the will of men, and must fear them, and the lash of their whips, but, in spite of these things, they walk with a sensuous beauty and pride; they know themselves owned; but they wear their collars with a shameless audacity, a joy, an insolent pride that would scandalize and frighten the bored, depressed, frustrated women of Earth.
“I do not approve of the platform,” said the free woman, coldly.
Forkbeard did not respond to her, but regarded her with great deference.
“These females,” she said, indicating the Forkbeard’s girls, who knelt at her feet, their heads to the turf, “could be better employed on your farm, dunging fields and making butter.”Marauders of Gor, page 155, 156