“The Kurii, now, allied with the Yellow Knives, and supported by the Flighted Ones, the Kinyanpi, could systematically search the Barrens, unimpeded in their search for Zarendargar, and if an entire people, the nation of the Kaiila, should stand in their way, then what was it to them, if this nation should be destroyed?” (Blood Brothers of Gor)
In the doorway, to one side that through which Karjuk had emerged, there loomed a white-pelted Kur, a large one. In its ears were golden rings. Its lips drew back from its fangs, a Kur’s sign of amusement or pleasure.
“Behold the Kur, my ally,” said karjuk. “It was he who attacked Ram, your friend, but was prevented from finishing him by the interference of yourself and the men of the village.” (Beasts of Gor)
“From what I have heard of your skills in the ice,” I said, “too, it did not seem likely that a beast would have slipped past you, or, if it did, that you, trailing it, would have taken so long to apprehend it.”
“You honor me,” said Karjuk.
“Considering all these things, and the obvious fraud of the severed head, which you purported was that of the infiltrating ice beast, it seemed clear that you were in league with Kurii, and that, indeed, you and the first beast had presumably been traveling together. You arrived almost at the same time in the vicinity of the camp.”
“You are clever,” said Karjuk. (Beasts of Gor)
“There are factions among Kurii” I said. “It is my feeling that this Kur may be our ally.”
“You are mad,” said Samos.
“Perhaps,” I granted.
“I shall release the Kur,” said Samos, “two days after you have departed Port Kar.”
“Perhaps I shall meet it in the Tahari,” I said.
“I would not look forward to the meeting,” he said.
I smiled. (Tribesmen of Gor)
“I know this Kur,” I said. It regarded it. “Can you understand me?” I asked.
It gave no sign that it could understand me.
“I had it freed from a dungeon in Port Kar,” I told Hassan. “In Tor, in a courtyard, several men waited to slay me. Havoc and slaughter was wrought among them, such that only a Kur might accomplish. In prison in Nine Wells, though strangely I could not see it, a Kur came to my cell. It could have killed me, I helplessly chained. It did not. I think it might have tried to free me. It was surprised by Ibn Saran and his men. It was nearly killed, trapped in the cell. It was much wounded. Ibn Saran told me the beast had been killed. It had not been. This is he. This is that Kur. I know him, Hassan. He is, if only for this moment, my ally. I think, Hassan, strange though it may see, that we hold a cause in common.” “A man and a Kur!” protested Hassan. “It is impossible!”
The Kur pointed to the dune country.
I turned to Hassan. “I wish you well, Hassan,” I said. (Tribesmen of Gor)
I did not know what he sought. Yet I admired him that he should so indomitably seek it. I did not think it an ill or unworthy thing to die in the company of such a beast.
At his side I sensed the will and nobility of the Kur. They were indeed splendid foes for Prist-Kings and men. I wondered if either Priest-Kings or men could be worthy of them.
Thus, natural enemies, a human and a Kur, in a strange truce in the desert, side by side, trekked. I knew not toward what. (Tribesmen of Gor)
A Kur had fought by my side to save the Gorean world. It was desired not only by men, it was desired too, by Kurii. (Tribesmen of Gor)
I saw more in this, of course, than the work of Cernus. I saw in his elevation a portion of the plan of Others being unfolded; with one o f their own on the throne of Ar, they would have a remarkable base in Ar for the advancement of their schemes, in particular the influencing of men, the recruitment of partisans in their cause; as Misk had pointed out, a human being, armed with a significant weapon, can be extremely dangerous, even to a Priest-King. (Assassin of Gor)
A gangplank was slid over the gunwale to the wharf. Then we saw Thorgard of Scagnar, cloak swirling, in his horned helmet, descend the gangplank. He was met by his men, and, high among them, by his holding’s keeper, and the keeper of his farms.
He spoke to them shortly and then, in the light of the lanterns, strode down the wharf.
The men did not follow him, nor did his men on the ship yet leave it.
I heard, too, the intake of breath of the Forkbeard, and of Gorm, and the oarsmen.
Another shape emerged from the darkness of the ship.
It moved swiftly, with an agility startling in so huge a builk. I heard the scrape of claws on the gangplank. It was humped, shaggy.
It followed Thorgard of Scagnar.
After it, then, came his men, timidly, those who had met Thorgard and those, too, from the ship. A wharf crew then busied themselves about the ship.
The Forkbeard looked at me. He was puzzled. “One of the Kurii,” he said.
It was true. But the beast we had seen was not an isolated, degenerate, diseased beast, of the sort we had encountered at Forkbeard’s Landfall, It had seemed in its full health, swift and powerful.
“What has such a beast to do with Thorgard of Scagnar?”
“What had Thorgard of Scagnar to do with such a beast?” smiled Ivar Forkbeard.
“I do not understand this,” I said. (Marauders of Gor)
“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 on 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. (Marauders of Gor)
Even more to our astonishment than the Kurii, and their numbers, about, was the presence of men, wearing yellow scarves, among them, men whom they did not attack. My fists clenched in rage. Kurii, as is often the case, had enlisted human allies. (Marauders of Gor)
“She had been in political command, under Kog and Sardak, of a force of approximately a thousand mercenaries, the human contingent accompanying Kog and Sardak, and their death squad, into the Barrens. (Blood Brothers of Gor)
“The white men were undoubtedly the mercenary soldiers of Alfred, the mercenary captain of Port Olni. With something like a thousand men he had entered the Barrens, with seventeen Kurii, an execution squad from the steel worlds, searching for Half-Ear, Zarendargar, the Kur war general….” (Blood Brothers of Gor)
“Once,” said Samos, “he sent you forth upon the ice, to be slain by another Kur.”
“He did his duty, as he saw it,” I said.
“And now you would render him succor?” asked Samos.
“Yes,” I said.
“He might slay you, instantly, if he saw you,” said Samos.
“It is true he is an enemy,” I said. “That is a risk I must take.”
“He may not even recognize you,” said Samos.
“Perhaps,” I said. This was, I supposed, a danger. Just as human beings often found it difficult to distinguish among various Kurii, so too, many Kurii, apparently, often found it difficult to distinguish among various human beings. On the other hand, I was confident that Zarendargar would know me. I had no doubt but what I would recognize him. One does not forget a Kur such as Half-Ear, or Zarendargar, one who stood above the rings, a war general among the Kurii. (Savages of Gor)
The beast returned from the cabinet with two glasses and a bottle.
“Is that not the paga of Ar?” I asked.
“Is it not one of your favorites?” he asked, “See,” he said, “It has the seal of the brewer, Temus.”
“That is remarkable,” I said. “You are very thoughtful.”
“I have been saving it,” he told me.
“For me?” I asked.
“Of course,” he said. “I was confident you would get through.”
“I am honored,” I said.
“I have waited so long to talk to you,” he said.
He poured two glasses of paga, and reclosed the bottle. We lifted the glasses, and touched them, the one to the other.
“To our war,” he said.
“To our war,” I said.
“I cannot even pronounce your name,” I said.
“It will be sufficient,” he said, “to call me Zarendargar, which can be pronounce by human beings, or, if you like, even more simply, Half-Ear.” (Beasts of Gor)
“We could hear the sounds of revels in the distance, where, together, Yellow Knives, soldiers and Kurii celebrated their victory.” (Blood Brothers of Gor)
A human female who falls to a male conqueror may sometimes, by submitting herself totally to him as a slave, save her life, at least until he determines whether or not she is sufficiently pleasing. Kurii, on the other hand, generally have little interest in human females except as food. (Explorers of Gor)
“I think I could not break you,” he said. “I think I could only kill you.”
“You are like a Kur,” he said. “That is why I like you.” He put a heavy paw on my shoulder. “It would be wrong for you to die in the machine of truth,” he said. (Beasts of Gor)
“The same dark laws which have formed the teeth and claws of the Kur have formed the hand and brain of man,” had said Half-Ear. (Beasts of Gor)
I smiled to myself. “Sometimes,” once had said Misk to me in the Nest, “I suspect only men can understand Kurii.” Then he had added, “They are so similar.”
It had been a joke. But I did not think it was false.
Unfortunate though it might be, I doubted and, I think realistically, that Priest-Kings, those large, golden creatures, so gentle and delicate seeming, so content to mind their own affairs, truly understood their enemy, the Kurii. The persistence, the aggression, the fevers of the blood, the lust, the territoriality of such beasts would be largely unintelligible to them. There was little place in the placid, lucid categories of Priest-Kings for comprehending the bloods and madnesses of either men or Kur. They, Kurii and men, understood one another better, I suspected, than the Priest-Kings understood either. (Tribesmen of Gor)
“Kill it,” said Hassan.
“It is a rational beast,” I said. “It needs water.”
“Desist in this madness!” cried Hassan.
I lifted the shaggy head, more than a foot wide. Between the rows of fangs, the bag over my shoulder, I thrust the spike of the water bag.
The paws of the beast reached up, slowly, and placed themselves on the bag. I saw them indent the bag, the spread of the digits was more than fifteen inches in width. There were six digits, multiply jointed, furred. I saw the golden ring, heavy, strangely set, it seemed with a tiny square of silver, against the brown leather of the bag. It did not seem a normal ring. “This morning,” I said, “before dawn, it could have killed us and taken the water. It did not do so.”
Hassan did not speak. (Tribesmen of Gor)
“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.” (Marauders of Gor)
“What will you pay,” asked Svein Blue Tooth, “for permission 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 Tooth. I saw spear points lifted among the crowed.
“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 bonds-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, “that 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?
(Marauders of Gor)
“It approached me, and took me in its arms. It pressed its great jaws against my face and, from its storage stomach, brought up water into its oral cavity, from which, holding it there, and rationing it out, bit by bit it gave me of drink. It gave me then, similarly, a soft curd of meat, brought up, too, from the storage stomach. I fought to swallow it, and did.” (Blood Brothers of Gor)
Suddenly, shortly before dawn, I awakened.
It was standing there, in the pelting sand, looming, looking down upon us.
“Hassan,” I cried.
He awakened immediately. We struggled to our feet, our feet buried in sand, swept into the ditch, our backs suddenly cut by the lash of the storm.
It opened its great mouth, turning its head to the side. It was seven feet in height, bracing itself against the wind. Sand clung in its fur. It looked upon me. It raised one long arm. It pointed to the dune country.
“Run!” cried Hassan. We leaped from the ditch, rolling from it into the storm, scrambling to our feet. We crouched down, trying to keep our balance, the ditch between us and the standing beast. It swayed in the wind, leaning into it, but did not attempt to approach us. It regarded me. It pointed to the dune country.
“The water,” said Hassan. “The water!”
He stood over the ditch, to protect me as he could. I slipped into the ditch and slowly, in order not to provoke the beast to attack, lifted the two bags to the surface. Hassan took them and, when I was clear of the ditch, we backed away from the beast, watching it. The wind and sand whipped about us. The beast did not move but remained, its eyes, half-shut, rimmed with sand, fixed upon me, its great arm pointing towards the dune country.
Hassan and I turned and, stumbling, carrying the water, fled into the desert. Once, briefly, I lost sight of Hassan, then again saw him, no more than a yard from me in the darkness, in the pelting, driven sand. Together we fled. The beast did not pursue us. (Tribesmen of Gor)
“I know this Kur,” I said. It regarded it. “Can you understand me?” I asked.
It gave no sign that it could understand me.
“I had it freed from a dungeon in Port Kar,” I told Hassan. “In Tor, in a courtyard, several men waited to slay me. Havoc and slaughter was wrought among them, such that only a Kur might accomplish. In prison in Nine Wells, though strangely I could not see it, a Kur came to my cell. It could have killed me, I helplessly chained. It did not. I think it might have tried to free me. It was surprised by Ibn Saran and his men. It was nearly killed, trapped in the cell. It was much wounded. Ibn Saran told me the beast had been killed. It had not been. This is he. This is that Kur. I know him, Hassan. He is, if only for this moment, my ally. I think, Hassan, strange though it may see, that we hold a cause in common.” (Tribesmen of Gor)
The Kur was an incredible animal. Without it I would not have survived.
The next day the water was gone.
To my surprise, though the Kur had pointed to the dune country, he led me in a path parallel to the dunes, through more normal Tahari terrain. I realized then that he had been pointing to his destination, whatever it might be, which lay within the dune country, as though I might know what it was, but that the route which he wisely selected would parallel the dune country, until he reached a given point, at which point he would strike out overland, into the forbidding dunes, to reach whatever objective it was within them which might concern him, or us.
“The water is gone,” I told him. I held the bag in such a way as to show him that no fluid remained within it. After his first drink, near the shelter trench, he had not had water.
The Kur watched the flight of birds. He followed them, for a day. He found their water. It was foul. We gratefully drank. I submerged the water bag I carried. We killed four birds and ate them raw. The Kur caught small rock tharlarion, and on this plenty, too, we feasted. Then we continued our journey. (Tribesmen of Gor)
We went a day without water.
In a place, on the next day, we found flies, swarming, over parched, earth. There, with his great paws, slowly, painfully, the Kur dug. More than four feet below the surface he found mud. We strained this through the silk I had had tied to my wrist, into his cupped paws. He gave me almost all of this water. He licked from his moistened palms only what I had left. In another place, that night, we found a narrow channel of baked mud, the dried bed of a tiny, vanished stream, of the sort which in the winter, should it rain, carries water for a few days. We followed this to a shallow, dried pool. Digging here we found dormant snails. In the moonlight we cracked the shells, sucking out the fluid. It stank. Only at first did I vomit. Again the Kur gave me almost the entire bounty of this find. Then we could find no more. (Tribesmen of Gor)
The beast turned away from me and bent his head over his cupped hands. When he again turned to face me I saw, in the black cup of his paws, a foul fluid. I thrust my face to his hands, and, my own hands trembling, holding his cupped hands, drank. Four times did the beast do this. It was water from the last large water hole we had visited, where the half-eaten tabuk had been found, held for days in the beast’s storage stomach. It was water, in a sense, from his own tissues he gave me, releasing it now, not into his own system, but yielding it to me, that I might not die. Again did the beast try to give me water, but then there was none left. He had given me the last of his water. Now again, from his mouth and lips, and body, he scraped salt. He took it, too, from the bloody crusts of his wounds. I took it, with the sand, licking at it, now able to swallow it. He had given me; it seemed an inexplicable gift, water and salt from his own body. ---------------------------- But the beast motioned now that I should res. Then he stood between me and the sun and, in the shade of his body, as he moved from time to time, I slept. (Tribesmen of Gor)
“In here,” said the man in the brown and black livery of those men in the service of the Kurii. He indicated the metal door. (Beasts of Gor)
“But they would only use humans,” I said.
“Certainly,” said Misk. “Eventually humans would be used only as slaves and feed.”
“Feed?” I asked.
“The Others,” said Misk, “unlike Priest-Kings, are carnivorous.”
“But the humans are rational creatures,” I said.
“On the ships,” said Misk, “humans, and certain other organic creatures, are raised for meat.”
I said nothing.
“The Others,” said Misk, “see humans, and most other creatures, either as feed or tools.” (Assassin of Gor)
“Neither of you,” said Samos, “have been lost, or destroyed.” He smiled. “Both of you are whole,” he said, “and human.”
“Very human,” I said, “too human.”
“In fighting the Others,” said Samos, “one cannot be human enough.”
I was puzzled that he should have said that. (Raiders of Gor)
“Do you surmise, Samos,” I asked, “that the beast killed for hunger?”
“Speak,” said Samos to the rencer.
“The beast,” he said, “had been seen earlier, twice, on abandoned, half-rotted rence islands, lurking.”
“Did it feed?” I asked.
“Not on those of the marshes,” said the man.
“It had opportunity?” I asked.
“As much or more as when it made its strike,” said the man.
“The beast struck onece, and once only?” I asked.
“Yes,” said the man.
“Samos?” I asked.
“The strike,” said Samos, “seems deliberate. Who else in the marshes wore a golden armlet?”
“But why?” I asked. “Why?”
He looked at me. “The affairs of the worlds,” said Samos, “apparently still touch you.” (Marauders of Gor)
“I want passage to Torvaldsland,” I said. “I hunt beasts.”
“Kurii?” He asked.
“Yes,” I said.
“You are mad,” he said. (Marauders of Gor)
“Why did you come to Torvaldsland?” suddenly asked Ivar Forkbeard.
“On a work of vengeance,” I told him. “I hunt one of the Kurii.”
“They are dangerous,” said Ivar Forkbeard.
“One has struck here,” said Ottar, suddenly.
Ivar looked at him.
“Last month,” said Ottar, “a verr was taken.”
I knew then that it could not be the one of the Kurii I saught.
“We hunted him, but failed to find him,” said Ottar.
“Doubtless he has left the district,” said Ivar. (Marauders of Gor)
Men and the Kurii, where they met, which was usually only in the north, regarded one another as mortal enemies. The Kurii not unoften fed on men, and men, of course, in consequence, attempted to hunt and slay, when they could, the beasts. Usually, however, because of the power and ferocity of the beasts, men would hunt them only to the borders of their own districts, particularly if only the loss of a bosk or thrall was involved. It was usually regarded as quite sufficient, even by the men of Torvaldsland, to drive one of the beasts out of their own district. They were especially pleased when they had managed to harry one into the district of an enemy. (Marauders of Gor)
The eyes of the leader of the Kurii, whom I knew to be my enemy, blazed upon me. His horror, seeing his fallen brother of the killing blood, had now become rage, outrage. I, one of the herd, of the cattle, had dared to strike one of the master species, a superior form of life. A Kur had been killed. (Marauders of Gor)
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 of 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 another place we saw a framework of poles set on the field. From the crossbar, hung by their ankles, were the bodies of 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, and handed to me the helmet. I poured a drop from the helm to the reddish, muddied earth. “Ta-Sardar-Gor,” said I, ‘to 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. (Marauders of Gor)
The Blue Tooth shrugged. “Several,” he said, “but I think the men of Torvaldsland now need fear little the return of any Kur army.”
I thought what he said doubtless true. Single, or scattered, Kurii might, as before, forage south, but I did not think they would again regroup in vast numbers. They had learned and so, too, had the men of Torvaldsland, that men could stand against them. This fact, red with blood of both beasts and men, had been demonstrated in a remote valley of the north. I smiled to myself. The demonstration would not have been lost, either, on the advanced Kurii of the steel worlds. (Marauders of Gor)
I looked at the huge, somber, shaggy head of the Kur, mounted on its stake, some eight feet from the ground. I wondered if men, truly, knew how great their enemies were. And I wondered if men, in ways so weak, so puny, were adequate to such foes. The Kur, it seemed to me, in virtue of its distant, doubtless harsh evolution, was well fitted to be a dominant form of life. It would prove indeed to be a great foe. I wondered if man could be so great a foe, if he in his own terribleness, his ferocity, his intelligence, could match such a beast. On his own worlds, in a sense, man had no natural enemies, save perhaps himself. I regarded the huge, somber head of the Kur. Now he had one, a predator, a foe. Could man be a match for such a beast? I wondered on what might be the magnitude of man. (Marauders of Gor)
I thought of the Kurii. They were terrible foes. Suddenly, incredibly, I felt love for them. I recollected the head of the giant Kur, mounted on its stake, in the ruins of the hall of Svein Blue Tooth. One cannot be weak who meets such beasts. I laughed at the weaknesses instilled into the men of Earth. Only men who are strong, without weakness, can meet such beasts. One must match them in strength, in intellect, in terribleness, in ferocity. (Marauders of Gor)