Read Nomads of Gor Online

Authors: John Norman

Tags: #Science Fiction, #Fiction, #General, #Fantasy, #Adventure, #Gor (Imaginary Place), #Cabot; Tarl (Fictitious Character), #Outer Space, #Nomads, #Outlaws

Nomads of Gor


by John Norman


"Run" cried the woman. "Flee for your life"

I saw her eyes wild with fear for a moment above the

rep-cloth veil and she had sped past me.

She was peasant, barefoot, her garment little more than

coarse sacking. She had been carrying a wicker basket con-

taining vulos, domesticated pigeons raised for eggs and meat.

Her man, carrying a mattock, was not far behind. Over his

left shoulder hung a bulging sack filled with what must have

been the paraphernalia of his hut.

He circled me, widely. "Beware," he said, "I carry a Home


I stood back and made no move to draw my weapon.

Though I was of the caste of warriors and he of peasants,

and I armed and he carrying naught but a crude tool, I

would not dispute his passage. One does not lightly dispute

the passage of one who carries his Home Stone.

Seeing that I meant him no harm, he paused and lifted an

arm, like a stick in a torn sleeve, and pointed backward.

'They're coming," he said. "Run, you fool Run for the gates

of Turia"

Turia the high-walled, the nine-gated, was the Gorean city

lying in the midst of the huge prairies claimed by the Wagon


Never had it fallen.

Awkwardly, carrying his sack, the peasant turned and

stumbled on, casting occasional terrified glances over his


I watched him and his woman disappear over the brown

wintry grass.

In the distance, to one side and the other, I could see other

human beings, running, carrying burdens, driving animals

with sticks, fleeing.

Even past me there thundered a lumbering herd of star-

tled, short-bunked kailiauk, a stocky, awkward ruminant of

the plains, tawny, wild, heavy, their haunches marked in red

and brown bars, their wide heads bristling with a trident of

horns; they had not stood and formed their circle, she's and

young within the circle of tridents; they, too, had fled; farther

to one side I saw a pair of prairie sleen, smaller than the

forest sleen but quite as unpredictable and vicious, each

about seven feet in length, furred, six-legged, mammalian,

moving in their undulating gait with their viper's heads mov-

ing from side to side, continually testing the wind; beyond

them I saw one of the tumits, a large, flightless bird whose

hooked beak, as long as my forearm, attested only too clearly

to its gustatory habits; I lifted my shield and grasped the long

spear, but it did not turn in my direction; it passed, unaware;

beyond the bird, to my surprise, I saw even a black larl, a

huge catlike predator more commonly found in mountainous

regions; it was stalking away, retreating unhurried like a

king; before what, I asked myself, would even the black tart

flee; and I asked myself how far it had been driven; perhaps

even from the mountains of Ta-Thassa, that loomed in this

hemisphere, Gor's southern, at the shore of Thassa, the sea,

said to be in the myths without a farther shore.

The Wagon Peoples claimed the southern prairies of GOR,

from the gleaming Thassa and the mountains of Ta-Thassa to

the southern foothills of the Voltai Range itself, that reared

in the crust of GOR like the backbone of a planet. On the

north they claimed lands even to the rush-grown banks of

the Cartius, a broad, swift flowing tributary feeding into the

incomparable Vosk. The land between the Cartius and the

Vosk had once been within the borders of the claimed empire

of Ar, but not even Marlenus, Ubar of Ubars, when master

of luxurious, glorious Ar, had flown his tarnsmen south of the


In the past months I had made my way, afoot, overland,

across the equator, living by hunting and occasional service in

the caravans of merchants, from the northern to the southern

hemisphere of GOR. I had left the vicinity of the Sardar

Range in the month of Se'Var, which in the northern hemi-

sphere is a winter month, and had journeyed south for

months; and had now come to what some call the Plains of

Turia, others the Land of the Wagon Peoples, in the autumn

of this hemisphere; there is, due apparently to the balance of

land and water mass on GOR, no particular moderation of

seasonal variations either in the northern or southern hemi-

sphere; nothing much, so to speak, to choose between them;

on the other hand, Gor's temperatures, on the whole, tend to

be somewhat fiercer than those of Earth, perhaps largely due

to the fact of the wind-swept expanses of her gigantic land

masses; indeed,` though GOR is smaller than Barth, with con-

sequent gravitational reduction, her actual land areas may

be, for all I know, more extensive than those of my native

planet; the areas of GOR which are mapped are large, but

only a small fraction of the surface of the planet; much of

GOR remains to her inhabitants simply terra incognita.*


*For purposes of convenience I am recounting directions in English

terms, thinking it would be considerably difficult for the reader to

follow references to the Gorean compass. Briefly, for those it might

interest, all directions on the planet are calculated from the Sardar

Mountains, which for the purposes of calculating direction play a

role analogous to our north pole; the two main directions, so to speak,

in the Gorean way of thinking are Ta-Sardar-Var and Ta-Sardar-Ki-

Var, or as one would normally say, Var and Ki-Var; 'Var' means a

turning and 'Ki' signifies negation; thus, rather literally, one might

speak of 'turning to the Sardar' and 'not turning to the Sardar', some-

thing like either facing north or not facing north; on the other hand,

more helpfully, the Gorean compass is divided into eight, as opposed

to our four, main quadrants, or better said, divisions, and each of

these itself is of course subdivided. There is also a system of latitude

and longitude figured on the basis of the Gorean day, calculated in

Ahn, twenty of which constitute a Gorean day, and Ehn and Ihn,

which are subdivisions of the Ahn, or Gorean hour. Ta-Sardar-Var

is a direction which appears on all Gorean maps; Ta-Sardar-Ki-Var,

of course, never appears on a map, since it would be any direction

which is not Ta-Sardar-Var. Accordingly, the main divisions of the

map are Ta-Sardar-Var, and the other seven; taking the Sardar as

our "north pole" the other directions, clockwise as Earth clocks move

(Gorean clock hands move in the opposite direction) would be, first,

Ta-Sardar-Var, then, in order, Ror, Rim, Tun, Vask (sometimes spoken

of as Verus Var. or the true turning away), Cart, Klim, and Kail,

and then again, of course, Ta-Sardar-Var. The Cartius River inciden-

tally, mentioned earlier, was named for the direction it lies from the

city of Ar. From the Sardar I had gone largely Cart, sometimes Vask,

then Cart again until I had come to the Plains of Turia, or the Land

of the Wagon Peoples. I crossed the Cartius on a barge, one of

several hired by the merchant of the caravan with which I ww then

seeing. These barges, constructed of layered timbers of Ka-la-na wood,

are towed by teams of river tharlarion, domesticated, vast,herbivo-

rous, web-footed lizards raised and driven by the Cartius bargemen,

fathers and sons, interrelated clans, claiming the status of a cast

for themselves. Even with the harnessed might of several huge thar-

larion drawing toward the opposite shore the crossing took us several

pasangs downriver. The caravan, of course, was bound for Turia. No

caravans, to my knowledge, make their way to the Wagon Peoples,

who are largely isolated and have their own way of life. I left the

caravan before it reached Turia My business was with the Wagon

Peoples, not the Turians, said to be indolent and luxury-loving; but

I wonder at this charge, for Turia has stood for generations on the

plains claimed by the fierce Wagon Peoples.

For some minutes I stood silently observing the animals

and the men who pressed toward Turia, invisible over the

brown horizon. I found it hard to understand their terror.

Even the autumn grass itself bent and shook in brown tides

toward Turia, shimmering in the sun like a tawny surf

beneath the fleeing clouds above; it was as though the unseen

wind itself, frantic volumes and motions of simple air, too

desired its sanctuary behind the high walls of the far city.

Overhead a wild Gorean kite, shrilling, beat its lonely way

from this place, seemingly no different from a thousand other

places on these broad grasslands of the south.

I looked into the distance, from which these fleeing multi-

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