Authors: John Norman
Tags: #Science Fiction, #Fiction, #General, #Fantasy, #Adventure, #Erotica
By John Norman
She was quite beautiful.
She knelt near the small, low table, behind which, cross-legged, in the hall of Samos, I sat. At this table, too, cross-legged, sat Samos. He faced me. It was early evening in Port Kar, and I had supped with Samos, first captain in the council of captains, that congress of captains sovereign in Port Kar. The hall was lit with burning torches. It contained the great map mosaic.
We had been served our supper by the collared slave, who knelt near us.
I glanced at her. She wore a one-piece tunic of rep-cloth, cut high at the thighs, to better reveal them, her steel collar, which was a lock collar, and her brand. The brand was the common Kajira mark of Gor, the first letter, about an inch and a half in height and a half inch in width, in cursive script, of the expression ‘Kajira’, which is the most common expression in Gorean for a female slave. It is a simple mark, and rather floral, a staff, with two, upturned, frondlike curls, joined where they touch, the staff on its right. It bears a distant resemblance to the printed letter ‘K’ in several of the Western alphabets of Earth, and I suspect, in spite of several differences, it may owe its origin to that letter. The Gorean alphabet has twenty-eight characters, all of which, I suspect, owe their origin to one or another of the alphabets of Earth. Several show a clear-cut resemblance to Greek letters, for example. ‘Sidge’, on the other hand, could be cuneiform, and ‘Tun’ and ‘Val’ are probably calligraphically drifted from demotic. At least six letters suggest influence by the classical Roman alphabet, and seven do, if we count ‘Kef’, the first letter in ‘Kajira’. ‘Shu’ is represented by a sign which seems clearly oriental in origin and ‘Homan’, I speculate, may derive from Cretan. Many Gorean letters have a variety of pronunciations, depending on their linguistic context. Certain scribes have recommended adding to the Gorean alphabet new letters, to independently represent some of these sounds which, now, require alternative pronunciations, context-dependent, of given letters. Their recommendations, it seems, are unlikely to be incorporated into formal Gorean.
In matters such as those of the alphabet conservatism seems unshakable. For example, there is not likely to be additions or deletions to the alphabets of Earth, regardless of the rationality of such an alteration in given cases. An example of the conservatism in such matters is that Goreans, and, indeed, many of those of the Earth, are taught their alphabets in an order which bears no rational relation whatsoever to the occurrence pattern of the letters. That children should be taught the alphabet in an order which reflects the frequency of the occurrence of the letters in the language, and thus would expedite their learning, appears to be too radical and offensive an idea to become acceptable. Consider, too, for example, the opposition to an arithmetically convenient system of measurement in certain quarters on Earth, apparently because of the unwillingness to surrender the techniques of tradition, so painfully acquired so long ago.
“Do Masters desire aught else of Linda?” asked the girl.
“No,” said Samos.
She put her small hand on the table, as though to reach to him, to beg his touch.
“No,” said Samos.
She withdrew, head down. She picked up the small tray from the stand near the table. On it was the small vessel containing a thick, sweet liqueur from distant Turia, the Ar of the south, and the two tiny glasses from which we had sipped it. On the tray, too, was the metal vessel which had contained the black wine, steaming and bitter, from far Thentis, famed for its tarn flocks, the small yellow-enameled cups from which we had drunk the black wine, its spoons and sugars, a tiny bowl of mint sticks, and the softened, dampened cloths on which we had wiped our fingers.
I had eaten well.
She stood. up. She held the tray. The gleaming collar, snug and locked, was very beautiful on her throat.
I remembered her from several months ago when I had first seen her, when she had had about her throat only a simple collar of iron, curved about her throat by the blows of a metal worker’s hammer.
She looked at Samos, her lip trembled.
She had been the girl who had brought to the house of Samos the message of the scytale. The scytale had been a marked hair ribbon. Wrapped about the shaft of a spear, thus aligning the marks, the message had appeared. It had been to me, from Zarendargar, or Half-Ear, a war general of the Kurii, inviting me to meet him at the “world’s end.” My speculation that this referred to the pole of the Gorean northern hemisphere had proved correct. I had met Half-Ear there, in a vast northern complex, an enormous supply depot intended to arm and fuel, and otherwise logistically support, the projected invasion of Gor, the Counter-Earth. I think it likely that Half-Ear perished in the destruction of the complex. The body, however, was never recovered.
The girl who had served us this night, slender and blond, blue-eyed, of Earth origin, had delivered to us the scytale. She had not, originally, even understood it to contain a message.
How different she seemed now from what she had then been. She had been brought to the house of Samos still in the inexplicable and barbarous garments of Earth, in particular, in the imitation-boy costume, the denim trousers and flannel shirt of the contemporary Earth girl, pathologically conditioned, for economic and historical reasons, to deny and subvert the richness of her unique sexuality. Culture decides what is truth, but truth, unfortunately for culture, is unaware of this. Cultures, mad and blind, can die upon the rocks of truth. Why can truth not be the foundation of culture, rather than its nemesis? Can one not build upon the stone cliffs of reality rather than dash one’s head against them? But how few human beings can think, how few dare to inquire, how few can honestly question. How can one know the answer to a question which one fears to ask?
Samos, of course, immediately recognized the ribbon as a scytale. As for the girl, he had promptly, to her horror, had her clothing removed and had had her put in a brief rep-cloth slave tunic and a rude neck-ring of curved iron, that she would not escape and, anywhere, could be recognized as a slave. Shortly thereafter I had been invited to his house and had received the message. I had also questioned the girl, who had, at that time, spoken only English. I recalled how arrogant and peremptory she had been, until she had learned that she was no longer among men such as those of Earth. Samos had had her taken below and branded, and used for the sport of the guards, and then penned. I had thought that he would have sold her, but he had not. She had been kept in his own house, and taught the meaning of her collar, fully.
I saw the brand on her thigh. Although the brand was the first letter, in cursive Gorean script, of the most common Gorean expression for a slave girl, ‘Kajira’, its symbolism, I think, is much richer than this. For example, in the slave brand, the ‘Kef’, though clearly a Kef and in cursive script, is more floral, in the extended, upturned, frondlike curls, than would be the common cursive Kef. This tends to make the mark very feminine. It is at this point that the symbolism of the brand becomes more clear. The two frondlike curls indicate femininity and beauty; the staff, in its uncompromising severity, indicates that the femininity is subject to discipline; the upturned curves on the frondlike curls indicate total openness and vulnerability. It is a very simple, lovely brand, simple, as befits a slave, lovely, as befits a woman.
Incidentally, there are many brands on Gor. Two that almost never occur on Gor, by the way, are those of the moons and collar, and of the chain and claw. The first of these commonly occurs in certain of the Gorean enclaves on Earth, which serve as headquarters for agents of Priest-Kings; the second tends to occur in the lairs of Kurii agents on Earth; the first brand consists of a locked collar and, ascending diagonally above it, extending to the right, three quarter moons; this brand indicates the girl is subject to Gorean discipline; the chain-and-claw brand signifies, of course, slavery and subjection within the compass of the Kur yoke. It is apparently difficult to recruit Goreans for service on Earth, either for Priest-Kings or Kurii. Accordingly, usually native Earthlings are used. Glandularly sufficient men, strong, lustful, and vital, without their slave girls, would find Earth a very dismal place, a miserable and unhappy sexual desert. Strong men simply need women. This will never be understood by weak men. A strong man needs a woman at his feet, who is truly his. Anything else is less than his fulfillment. When a man has once eaten of the meat of gods he will never again chew on the straw of fools.
“You may withdraw,” said Samos to the girl.
“Master,” she begged him, tears in her eyes. “Please, Master.”
A few months ago she had not been able to speak Gorean. She now spoke the language subtly and fluently. Girls learn swiftly to speak the language of their masters.
Samos looked up at her. She stood there, lovely, holding the tray before her, on which reposed the vessels, the tiny cups and glasses, the bowls, the spoons, the soft, dampened cloths on which we had wiped our hands. She had served well, beautifully, effacing herself, as a serving slave.
“Master,” she whispered.
“Return the things to the kitchen,” he said. I saw, from her eyes, that she was more than a serving slave. It is interesting, the power that a man may hold over a woman.
“Yes, Master,” she said. When she had knelt facing Samos, she had knelt in the position of the pleasure slave. When she had knelt facing me, she had knelt in the position of the serving slave. Samos, it was said, was the first to have brought her to slave orgasm. It had happened six days after she had first been brought to his house. It is said that a woman who has experienced slave orgasm can never thereafter be anything but a man’s slave. She then knows what men can do to her, and what she herself is, a woman. Never thereafter can she be anything else.
“Linda begs Master’s touch,” she said. The name ‘Linda’ had been her original Earth name. Samos had, after it had been removed from her, in her reduction to slavery, put it on her again, but this time as a slave name, by his will. Sometimes a girl is given her own name as a slave name; sometimes she is given another name; it depends on the master’s will. She spoke freely before me of her need for his touch. She was no longer an inhibited, negatively conditioned Earth girl. She was now open and honest, and beautifully clean, in her slavery, in her confession of her female truths.
Seeing the eyes of Samos on her she quickly went to the door, to leave, but, at the door, unable to help herself, she turned about. There were tears in her eyes.
“After you have returned the things to the kitchen—” said Samos.
“Yes, Master,” she said softly, excitedly. The small, yellow-enameled cups moved slightly on the tray. She trembled. The torchlight glinted from her collar.
“Go to your kennel,” said Samos, “and ask to be locked within.”
“Yes, Master,” she said, putting her head down. I thought she shook with a sob.
“I hear from the chain master,” said Samos, “that you have learned the tile dance creditably.”
The tiny cups and glasses shook on the tray. “I am pleased,” she said, “if Krobus should think so.”
The tile dance is commonly performed on red tiles, usually beneath the slave ring of the master’s couch. The girl performs the dance on her back; her stomach and sides. Usually her neck is chained to the slave ring. The dance signifies the. restlessness, the misery, of a love-starved slave girl. It is a premise of the dance that the girl moves and twists, and squirms, in her need, as if she is completely alone, as if her need is known only to herself; then, supposedly, the master surprises her, and she attempts to suppress the helplessness and torment of her needs; then, failing this, surrendering her pride in its final shred, she writhes openly, piteously, before him, begging him to deign to touch her. Needless to say, the entire dance is observed by the master, and this, in fact, of course, is known to both the dancer and her audience, the master. The tile dance, for simple psychological and behavioral reasons, having to do with the submission context and the motions of the body, can piteously arouse even a captured, cold free woman; in the case of a slave, of course, it can make her scream and sob with need.
“I hear that you have worked hard to perfect the tile dance,” said Samos.
“I am only a poor slave,” she said.
“The last five times you have performed this dance,” said Samos, “Krobus tells me that he could not restrain himself from raping you.”
She put down her head. “Yes, Master,” she said, smiling. “After you have been locked in your kennel,” said Samos, “ask for a vessel of warm water, oils and a cloth, and perfume. Bathe and perfume yourself. I may summon you later to my chamber.”
“Yes, Master,” she said, delightedly. “Yes, Master!”
“Slave!” he said.
“Yes, Master,” she said, turning quickly.
“I am less easy to please than Krobus,” he said. “Yes, Master,” she said, and then turned and fled, swiftly, from the room.