“Do you know the delta of the Vosk ?” he asked.
“I once traversed it,” I said.
“Tell me about it,” he said.
“It is treacherous, and trackless,” I said. “It covers thousands of square pasangs. It is infested with insects, snakes and tharlarion. Marsh sharks even swim among its reeds. In it there is little solid ground. Its waters are usually shallow, seldom rising above the chest of a tall man. The footing is unreliable. There is much quicksand. It protects Port Kar from the east. Few but rencers can find their way about in it. Too, for most practical purposes, they keep it closed to traffic and trade.”

"..is a vast, disjointed mass of holdings, each almost a fortress, piled almost upon one another, divided and crossed by hundreds of canals. "

"In Port Kar, incidentally, there are none of the towers often encountered in the northern cities of Gor."

"...a mass of holdings, each individually defensible, room to room, each separated from the others by the canals which, in their hundreds, crossed and divided the city"

"The buildings lining the canals on each side were dark, but, here and there, in the side of one, near a window, was a torch. I looked at the brick, the stone, watched the patterns and shadows playing on the walls of the buildings of Port Kar."

"I passed iron doors, narrow, in the walls. These doors usually had a tiny observation panel in them, which could be slid back. The walls were sheer. They were generally windowless until some fifteen feet above the ground. Yards, and gardens and courts, if they exist, are generally within the house, not outside it."

The Canals and Walkways
"I trod the narrow walkway lining the canal."

"I trod a walkway beside a canal, my sea bag over my shoulder. The air was damp. Here and there small lamps, set in niches, high in stone walls, or lanterns, hung on iron projections, shed small pools of light on the sides of buildings and illuminated, too, in their secondary ambience, the stones of the sloping walkway on which I trod, one of many leading down to the wharves."

"There were pilings along the walkway, to which, here and there, small boats were moored. The walkway itself varied from some five feet to a yard in width."

"Somewhere I heard the squealing and thrashing of two of the giant urts fighting in the water, among the floating garbarge."

“There are some girls behind the paga taverns, on the northern shore of the Ribbon’s alley,” she said. I released her and she sank to her knees, gasping. The Ribbon is one of Port Kar’s better-known canals. A narrower canal, somewhat south of it is called the Ribbon’s alley. It was a bit past dawn and the paga taverns backing on the smaller canal would be throwing out their garbage from the preceding night. She-urts sometimes gather at such places for their pick of the remnants of feasts."

Mooring Lakes of Holdings (Huge Homes of Captains)
"The ships of the captains were usually moored, beyond this, within the city, in the mooring lakes fronting on their holdings and walled. And those who had used the open wharves did not seem to have suffered damage."

"My treasures were soon increased considerably, and the number of ships in my fleet, by captured prizes, was readically augmented, so much so that I could not begin to wharf them within the lakelike courtyard of my holding. With gold won by sword at sea I purchased extensive wharfage and several warehouses on the western edge of Port Kar."

"Outside the holding, on the broad promenade before of the holding, bordering on the lakelike courtyard, with the canal gate beyond, I ordered a swift, tharlarion-prowed longboat made ready."

The Great Hall
"I sat alone in the great hall, in the darkness, in the Captain’s Chair. The walls of stone, some five feet in thickness, formed of large blocks, loomed about me. Before me, over the long, heavy table behind which I sat, I could see the large tiles of the hall floor. The table was now dark, and bare."
"No longer was it set with festive yellow and scarlet cloths, woven in distant Tor: no longer did it bear the freight of plates of silver from the mines of Tharna, nor of cunningly wrought goblets of gold from the smithies of luxurious Turia, Ar of the south. It was long since I had tasted the fiery paga of the Sa-Tarna fields north of the Vosk. Now, even the wines from the vineyards of Ar seemed bitter to me."
"I looked up, at the narrow apertures in the wall to my right. Through them I could see certain of the stars of Gor, in the tarn-black sky.
The hall was dark. No longer did the several torches, bristling and tarred, burn in the iron rings at the wall. The hall was silent. No musicians played; no cup companions laughed and drank, lifting their goblets; on the broad, flat tiles before me, under the torches, barefoot, collared, in scarlet silks, bells at their wrists and ankles, there danced no slave girls.
The hall was large, and empty and silent. I sat alone."

"I looked about the hall, at the great walls of stone, the long table, the tiles, the narrow apertures through which I could glimpse the far stars, burning in the scape of the night."

"The only light in the huge high-roofed hall was furnished by a single brazier, whose coals, through the iron basket, now glowed redly.
Our footsteps sounded hollow on the tiles of the hall.
We had left the tarn outside on the promenade fronting on the lakelike courtyard."

Bosk's Holding (Once belonged to Surbus)
Not only the ships of Surbus had become mine, his men having declared for me, but his holding as well, and his assets, his treasures and equipments, and his slaves. His holding was a fortified palace. It lay on the eastern edge of Port Kar, backing on the marshes; it opened, by the means of a huge barred gate, to the canals of the city; in its courtyard were wharved his seven ships; when journeying to Thassa the great gate was opened and they were rowed through the city to the sea.
It was a strong holding, protected on the one side by its walls and the marshes, and on its others by walls, the gate, and the canals.

"While I made my five voyages my other six ships were engaged in commercial ventures similar to those which had occupied my first four voyages. I seldom returned to Port Kar without learning from Luma that my fortunes had been augmented even further in my absence....In the last two months, in my holding, I had been largely occupied with matters of business and management, mostly organizing and planning the voyages of others."

"Each night, in my hall, before my master's chair, she would kneel with her tablets and give me an accounting of the day's business, with reports on the progress of various investments and ventures, often making suggestions and recommendations for further actions.
This plain, thin girl, I found, had an excellent mind for the complicated business transactions of a large house."

"Some of the free men in the house, particularly of the scribes, resented that the girl should have a position of such authority. Accordingly, when receiving their reports and transmitting her instructions to them, I had informed her that she would do so humbly, as a slave girl, and kneeling at their feet. This mollified the men a good deal, though some remained disgruntled. All, I think, feared that her quick stylus and keen mind would discover the slightest discrepancies in their columns and tally sheets, and, indeed, they seemed to do so. I think they feared her, because of the excellence of her work and because, behind her, stood the power of the house, its Captain, Bosk of the Marshes."

"What of your leg?" asked one of the men-at-arms.
"It is all right," I told him.
I took another swig of paga.
I had found that I could stand on the leg. It had been lacerated but none of the long, rough-edged wounds was deep. I would have it soon treated by a physician in my own holding.

Samos of Port Kar's Holding
He led the way from the room. I followed him. We passed guards outside the door to the great hall. Samos did not speak to me. For several minutes I followed him. He strode through various halls, and then began to descend ramps and staircases.

At various points, and before various portals, signs and countersigns were exchanged. The thick walls became damp. We continued to descend, through various levels, sometimes treading catwalks over cages. The fair occupants of these cages looked up at us, frightened. In one long corridor we passed two girls, naked, on their hands and knees, with brushes and water, scrubbing the stones of the corridor floor. A guard, with a whip, stood over them. They fell to their bellies as we passed, and then, when we had passed, rose to their hands and knees, to resume their work.

The pens were generally quiet now, for it was time for sleeping. We passed barred alcoves, and tiers of kennels, and rooms for processing, training and disciplining slaves. The chamber of irons was empty, but coals glowed softly in the brazier, from. which two handles protruded. An iron is always ready in a slaver’s house. One does not know when a new girl may be brought in.

In another room I saw, on the walls, arranged by size, collars, chains, wrist and ankle rings. An inventory of such things is kept in a slaver’s house. Each collar, each link of chain, is accounted for. We passed, too, rooms in which tunics, slave silks, cosmetics and jewelries were kept. Normally in the pens girls are kept naked, but such things are used in their training. There were also facilities for cooking and the storage of food; and medical facilities as well.

As we passed one cell a girl reached forth, “Masters,” she whimpered. Then we were beyond her. We also passed pens of male slaves. These, usually criminals and debtors, or prisoners taken in war, then enslaved, are commonly sold cheaply and used for heavy labor.

We continued to descend through various levels. The smell and the dampness, never pleasant in the lower levels of the pens, now became obtrusive. Here and there lamps and torches burned. These mitigated to some extent the dampness, We passed a guards’ room, in which there were several slaver’s men, off duty. I glanced within, for I heard from within the clash of slave bells and the bright sound of zills, or finger cymbals. In a bit of yellow slave silk, backed into a corner, belled and barefoot, a collared girl danced, swaying slowly before the five men who loomed about her, scarcely a yard away. Then her back touched the stone wall, startling her, and they seized her, and threw her to a blanket for their pleasure. I saw her gasping, and, half fighting, half kissing at them, squirming in their arms.

We were soon on the lowest level of the pens, in an area of maximum security. There were trickles of water at the walls here and, in places, water between the stones of the floor. An urt slipped between two rocks in the wall.

Samos stopped before a heavy iron door; a narrow steel panel slipped back.
We stopped before the eighth cell on the left. Samos signaled to the two guards. They came forward. There were some ropes and hooks, and heavy pieces of meat, to one side.

They then slid back the observation panel in the solid iron door and, after looking through, unlocked the door, and swung it open. It opened inward. I waited with Samos. The two guards then, reaching upward, with some chains, attached above the door, lowered a heavy, wooden walkway to the surface of the water. The room, within, to the level of the door, contained water. It was murky and dark. I was aware of a rustling in the water. The walkway then, floating, but steadied by its four chains, rested on the water. On its sides the walkway had metal ridges, some six inches in height, above the water. I heard tiny scratchings at the
metal, small movements against the metal, as though by numerous tiny bodies, each perhaps no more than a few ounces in weight."

The Arsenal
"Fire has always been regarded as the great hazard to the arsenal. Accordingly many of her warehouses, shops and foundries are built of stone, with slated or tinned roofs. Wooden structures, such as her numerous sheds and roofed storage areas tend to be separated from one another.

Within the arsenal itself there are numerous basins, providing a plenitude of water. Many of these basins, near which, in red-painted wooden boxes, are stored large numbers of folded leather buckets, are expressly for the purpose of providing a means for fighting fires.

Some of the other basins are large enough to float galleys; these large basins connect with the arsenal's canal system, by means of which heavy materials may be conveyed about the arsenal; the arsenal's canal system also gives access, at two points, to the canal system of the city and, at two other points, to the Tamber Gulf, beyond which lies gleaming Thassa.

Each of these four points are guarded by great barred gates. The large basins, just mentioned, are of two types: the first, unroofed, is used for the underwater storage and seasoning of Tur wood; the second, roofed, serves for heavier fittings and upper carpentry of ships, and for repairs that do not necessitate recourse to the roofed dry docks."

"The damage to the arsenal, which I had seen with my own eyes, and had taken statistical reports on from the scribes, had not been particularly serious. It amounted to the destruction of one roofed area where Ka-la-na wood was stored, and the partial destruction of another; one small warehouse for the storage pitch, one of several, had been destroyed; two dry docks had been lost, and the shop of the oarmakers, near the warehouse for oars, had been damaged; the warehouse itself, as it turned out, had escaped the fire."

Swing Bridges
"The larger canals in Port Kar, incidentally, have few bridges, and those they have are commonly swing bridges, which may be floated back against the canal’s side. This makes it possible for merchant ships, round ships, with permanently fixed masts, to move within the city, and, from the military point of view, makes it possible to block canals and also, when drawn back, isolate given areas of the city by the canals which function then as moats. The swing bridges are normally fastened back, except from the eighth to the tenth Ahn and from the fifteenth to the seventeenth Ahn."

"We are passing a market," said Samos. "You had better close the window slats."
I glanced outside. The smell of fruit and vegetables, and verr milk, was strong. I also heard the chatter of women.

Dozens of women were spreading their blankets, and their wares, on the cement. There are many such markets in Port Kar.

Men and women come to them in small boats. Also, of course, sometimes the vendors, too, will merely tie up their boats near the side of the canal, particularly when the space on the cement is crowded. The markets, thus, tend to extend into the canal itself."

"Verr milk, Masters!'' I heard called. "Verr milk, Masters!"

I opened the slats a tiny crack. I wished to see if she were pretty. She was, in her tunic and collar, kneeling on a white blanket, spread on the cement, with the brass container of verr milk, with its strap, near her, and the tiny brass cups. She was extremely lightly complexioned and had very red hair.

"Verr milk, Masters," she called. Slaves may buy and sell in the name of their masters, but they cannot, of course, buy and sell for themselves because they are only animals. It is rather for them to be themselves bought and sold, as the masters might please."

The Place of the 25th of Se'Kara
"The only fully floating market authorized by the Council of Captains occurs in a lakelike area near the arsenal. It is called the Place of the Twenty-Fifth of Se’Kara, because of the monument there, rising from the water. On the twenty-fifth of Se'Kara in Year One of the Sovereignty of the Council of Captains, the year 10,120 C.A. Contasta Ar, from the Founding of Ar, a sea battle took place in which the fleet of Port Kar defeated the fleets of Cos and Tyros. The monument, of course, commemorates this victory. The market forms itself about the monument."

Daily business along the canals
"It was now shortly after dawn. We were making our way through the canals of Port Kar. Here and there, on the walks at the edges of the canal, men were moving about. Most were loading or readying small boats, or folding nets.

I saw, through the small, slatted window near me, a slave girl drawing water from the canal, with a rope and bucket."

"I saw a man outside on the walk, a few yards away, mending a net. Ovoid, painted floats lay beside him."

"On a gently inclined slope of cement leading down to the canal, the water lapping at her knees, there knelt a slave girl doing laundry. She wore her steel collar. Her tunic came high on her thighs."

Open Slave Market
We were now passing an open slave market. The merchant was chaining his girls on the broad, tiered, cement display shelves.

One girl lay on her stomach, on her elbows, her head down.... another girl, a blonde, sat on her shelf with her knees drawn up, her ankles crossed, her arms about her knees; ....another girl, a long-haired brunet, on all fours, faced me, with glazed eyes.... several girls, standing, awaited their chaining...more than one of them shaded her eyes against the morning sun; it would be a long day for most of them, chained in the sun, on the hard, granular surfaces of the hot cement shelves.

The women were chained nude, of course, for that is the way that slave girls are commonly displayed for their sale, particularly in low markets, and, indeed, even in a private sale from one of the purple booths in the courtyard of a rich slaver there will come a time when the slave, even an exquisite, high slave, must put aside her silks and be examined raw, as though she were a common girl. "

Urt Hunter
"I looked over the low roof of the barge's cabin to the canal beyond. A hundred or so feet away there was the small boat of an urt hunter. His girl, the rope on her neck, crouched in the bow.

This rope is about twenty feet long. One end of it is tied on her neck and the other end is fastened on the boat, to the bow ring. The hunter stood behind her with his pronged urt spear.

These men serve an important function in Port Kar, which is to keep down the urt population in the canals. At a word from the man the girl, the rope trailing behind her, dove into the canal.

Behind the man, in the stern, lay the bloody, white-furred bodies of two canal urts. One would have weighed about sixty pounds, and the other, I speculate, about seventy-five or eighty pounds.

I saw the girl swimming in the canal, the rope on her neck, amidst the garbage. It is less expensive and more efficient to use a girl for this type of work than, say, a side of tarsk. The girl moves in the water, which tends to attract the urts and, if no mishap occurs, may be used again and again.

Some hunters use a live verr but this is less effective as the animal, squealing, and terrified, is difficult to drive from the side of the boat. The slave girl, on the other hand, can be reasoned with. She knows that if she is not cooperative she will be simply bound hand and foot and thrown alive to the urts.

This modality of hunting, incidentally, is not as dangerous to the girl as it might sound, for very few urts make their strike from beneath the surface. "

"Some free girls, runaways, vagabonds, girls of no family or position, live about port cities, scavenging as they can, begging, stealing, sleeping at night in crates and under bridges and piers. They are called the she-urts of the wharves. Every once in a while there is a move to have them rounded up and collared but it seldom comes to anything."

"She went then, as not noticing me, to the basket of garbage. She tried to saunter as a she-urt. Steeling herself she thrust her hand into the fresh, wet garbage. She looked up at me. She saw I was still watching her. In her hand there was a half of a yellow Gorean pear, the remains of a half moon of verr cheese imbedded in it. She, watching me, lifted it toward her mouth. I did not think it would taste badly. I saw she was ready to vomit.
Suddenly her wrist was seized by the girl, a tall, lovely girl, some four inches taller than she, in a brief white rag, who stood with her at the basket.
“Who are you?” demanded the girl in the white rag.
“You are not one with us.” She took the pear from her, with the verr cheese in it.
“You have not laid with the paga attendants for your garbage,” she said. “Get out!

"I saw her with several other girls, behind the rear court of the Silver Collar. They were fishing through wire trash containers. These had been left outside until, later, when the girls had finished with them, when the residues would be thrown into the canals. It was not an act of pure kindness on the part of the attendants at the paga tavern that the garbage had not been flung directly into the canals."

"In a few moments, beside one of the canals leading down to the wharves, in the vicinity of the Spice Pier, we came on four she-urts. They were on their bellies beside the canal, fishing for garbage."

Alarm Bar Ringing
"I soon hurried my steps, for an alarm bar had begun to ring.
I heard steps running behind me, too, and I turned about. A black seaman ran past me, he, too, heading toward the wharves. I followed him toward the pier of the Red Urt."

Built by slaves
"Not one stone could be placed in either way or tower by a man or woman who was not free. The only city I know of on Gor which was built by the labor of slaves, beneath the lash of Masters, is Port Kar which lies in the delta of the Vosk."

"No, I said to myself, Port Kar could be held a hundred years. And even should she, somehow, fall, her men need only take ship, and then, when it pleased them, return, ordering slaves again to build in the delta a city called Port Kar."

"The men of Port Kar may permit slaves to build their house and their walls, but they do not permit them to build their ships."

No Formal Free Companionship
"Port Kar does not recognize the Free Companionship, but there are free women in the city, who are known simply as the women of their men."

Port Kar does not celebrate Kajuralia
" The Kajuralia, or the Holiday of Slaves, or Festival of Slaves, occurs in most of the northern, civilized cities of known Gor once a year; The only exception to this that I know of is Port Kar, in the delta of the Vosk."

But, we do have a celebration / parade on the first of En'Kara, the Gorean New Year.

"The next matter for consideration was the negotiation of a dispute between the sail-makers and the rope-makers in the arsenal with respect to priority in the annual Procession to the Sea, which takes place on the first of En'Kara, the Gorean New Year. There had been a riot this year. It was resolved that henceforth both groups would walk abreast. "

Caste of Thieves
"In Port Kar," said I, "there is a caste of thieves. It is the only known caste of thieves on Gor."

'There is even, in Port Kar, a recognized caste of Thieves, the only such I know of on Gor, which, in the lower canals and perimeters of the city, has much power, that of the threat and the knife. They are recognized by the Thiefs Scar, which they wear as a caste mark, a tiny, three-pronged brand burned into the face in back of and below the eye, over the right cheekbone."

"It was a tiny, three-pronged brand, burned into the face over the right cheekbone. I had seen it several times, once on one who worked for the mysterious Others, a member of a crew of a black ship, once encountered in the mountains of the Voltai, not far from great Ar itself."

" The caste of thieves was important to Port Kar, and even honored. It represented a skill which in the city was held in high repute. Indeed, so jealous of their prerogatives were the caste of thieves that they often hunted thieves who did not belong to the caste, and slew them, throwing their bodies to the urts in the canals."

"Indeed, there was less thievery in Port Kar than there might have been were there no caste of thieves in the city. They protected, jealously, their own territories from amateur competition."

"Ear notching and mutilation, common punishment on Gor for thieves, were not found in Port Kar. The caste was too powerful. On the other hand, it was regarded as permissible to slay a male thief or take a female thief slave if the culprit could be apprehended and a caste member, was to be remanded to the police of the arsenal."

" If found guilty in the court of the arsenal, the male thief would be sentenced, for a week to a year, to hard labor in the arsenal or on the wharves; the female thief would be sentenced to service, for a week to a year, in a straw-strewn cell in one of Port Kar’s penal brothels."

" They are chained by the left ankle to a ring in the stone. Their food is that of a galley slave, peas, black bread and onions. If they serve well, however, their customers often bring them a bit of meat or fruit. Few thieves of Port Kar have not served time, depending on their sex, either in the arsenal or on the wharves, or in the brothels."

Whip Knife
The whip knife is a delicate weapon, and can be used with elegance, with finesse; it is, as far as I know, unique to Port Kar.

"To my surprise I noted, coiled at the side of his saddle, in four loops, was a whip knife, of the sort common in Port Kar, a whip, but set into its final eighteen inches, arranged in sets of four, twenty thin, narrow blades; the tips of whip knives differ; some have a double-edged blade of about seven or eight inches at the tip; others have a stunning lead, which fells the victim and permits him, half-conscious, to be cut to pieces at the attacker's leisure; the whip knife of Menicius, however, held at its tip the double-edged blade, capable of cutting a throat at twelve feet."

Garbage Death
"In Port Kar," I said, "a girl who is not pleasing is not unoften bound hand and foot, and thrown naked, as garbage, to the urts in the canals." "I will try to be pleasing," she smiled."

Home Stone
"And what of Port Kar?" I asked.
"She has no Home Stone," said one of the men.
I smiled. It was true. Port Kar, of al the cities on Gor, was the only one that had no Home Stone. I did not know if men did not love her because she had on Home Stone, or that she had no Home Stone because men did not love her.

Knotted Ropes Insignia
"About his left shoulder, in the manner of his city, he had worn the knotted ropes of Port Kar; his garment had been simple, dark and closely woven;"

"He carried, in the crook of his left arm, a helmet, bearing the crest of sleen hair that marks a captain of Port Kar." Raiders

Death of Blood and Sea
"After the death of Surbus, the woman had been mine. I had won her from him by sword right. I had, of course, as she had expected, put her in my collar, and kept her slave. To my astonishment, however, by the laws of Port Kar, the ships, properties and chattels of Surbus, he having been vanquished in fair combat and permitted death of blood and sea, became mine; his men stood ready to obey me; his ships became mine to command; his hall became my hall, his riches mine, his slaves mine. It was thus that I had become a captain in Port Kar. Jewel of gleaming Thassa."

Port Kar Weather

Early Spring
At the second Ahn, long before dawn, the herald of Samos had come to the lake like courtyard of my holding in many-canalled Port Kar, that place of many ships, scourge of Thassa, that dark jewel in her gleaming green waters. Twice has he struck the bars of the sea gate, each time with the Ka-la-na shaft of his spear, not with the side of its broad tapering bronze point. The signet ring, of Samos of Port Kar, first captain of the council of captains, was displayed. I would be roused. The morning, in early Spring, was chilly.
"Does Tyros move?" I asked blond-haired Thurnock, that giant of a man, he of peasants, who had come to rouse me.
"I think not, Captain," said he.
The girl beside me pulled the furs up about her throat, frightened.

"It is early," she whispered.
"Yes," I said.
"It is very cold," she said.
"Yes," I said. The coals in the brazier to the left of the great stone couch had burned out during the night. The room was damp, and cold, from the night air, and from the chill from the courtyard and canals. The walls, of heavy stone, too, saturated with the chilled, humid air, would be cold and damp, and the defensive bars set in the narrow windows, behind the buckled leather hangings. On my feet I could feel the dampness and moisture on the tiles.

Early fall , in the marshes just east of Port Kar
It was the fourth day of the sixth passage hand, shortly before the Autumnal Equinox, which in the common Gorean calendar begins the month of Se'Kara. In the calendar of Ko-ro-ba, which, like most Gorean cities, marks years by its Administration of my father, Matthew Cabot. In the calendar of Ar, for those it might interest, it was the first year of the restoration of Marlenus, Ubar of Ubars, but, more usefully for the purposes of consolidating the normal chaos of Gorean chronology, it was the year 10,119 Contasta Ar, that is, from the founding of Ar.

It was late in the afternoon, the fourteenth Gorean Ahn I would have guessed. Some swarms of insects hung in the sedge here and there but I had not been much bothered: it was late in the year, and most of the Gorean insects likely to make life miserable for men bred in, and frequented, areas in which bodies of unmoving, fresh wather were plentiful.

I awakened stiff in the cold of the marsh dawn, hearing the movement of the wind through the dim sedges, the cries of an occasional marsh gant darting among the rushes. Somewhere in the distance I heard the grunting of tharlarion. High overhead, passing, I heard the squeals of four Uls, beating their way eastward on webbed, scaled wings. I lay there for a time, feeling the rence beneath my back, staring up a the gray, empty sky.

Later fall, in Port Kar
My steps took me again to the paga tavern where I had begun this night.
I was alone, and miserable. I was cold. There was nothing of worth in Port Kar, nor in all the worlds of all the suns.

We came to the roof, and there, near its edge, holding Surbus between us, we waited. The morning was cold, and damp. It was about daybreak.
And then the dawn came and, over the buildings of Port Kar, beyond them, and beyond the shallow, muddy Tamber, where the Vosk empties, we saw, I for the first time, gleaming Thassa, the Sea.

Already I could see the sleek, wet muzzles of urts, eyes like ovals of blazing copper, streaking through the dark waters toward the bag.
I leaped into the cold waters, the knife between my teeth.

Se'Kara (October)
It was fall, and the wind was cold whipping across the water. Clouds scudded across the sky. In the north there was a darkness lying like a line against the horizon. We had had a frost in the morning.

The wind was very cold now, and, the Dorna shook in it, the windward waters striking at her hull. We had both the stern and stem anchors down.

There is usually a water gourd kept at the masthead, for the lookout. I uncorked the gourd and took some of the water. There had been a light film of ice in it. Some of the crystals melted in my mouth.

I glanced to the north. Then I opened the glass and studied the waters to the north. I snapped shut the glass. Above the waters to the north there was now a towering blackness. Overhead the white clouds swept past, like white, leaping Tabuk fleeing from the jaws of the black-maned lart.
It was late in the season.
I had not counted on Thassa herself, her swiftness and her moods.
I was cold in the basket, and I chewed on another piece of dried tarsk meat. The water had now frozen in the gourd, splitting it.

The sea was now growing high, and the darkness in the north was now half the sky, looming like a beast with wild fur rooting and sniffing for its prey.

The sleet struck down cutting my face.

At this time, before their numbers could have been well ascertained by the enemy, before the enemy could be much aware of anything more than the unexpected flanking attacks, I, followed by the tarnsmen, with the picked seamen, darted through the sleeting, windy skies over the locked fleets.

I slipped on the sleet-iced deck of the stern castle and parried Chenbar's blade from my throat.

I drew on the one-strap and the tarn, against the wind, took flight and Chenbar of Kasra, Ubar of Tyros, the Sea Sleen, in the manacles of a common slave, swung free below us, helpless and pendant in the furies of the wind and the sleeting rain, the captive of Bosk, a captain of Port Kar, admiral of her fleet.

When we struck the icy, wind-driven decks of the Dorna my men rose at their benches and, cheering, waved their caps.

I stood on the icy, wind-struck deck of the Dorna, my back turned to the storm. My admirals cloak, brought with my returning men from the round ship, was given to me and I wrapped it about my shoulders. A vessel of hot Paga was brought, too.
Meanwhile, the starboard oars, under the call of the oar-master began swinging the vessel about, to bring her stern into the wind. The wind struck the side of the hull and the ship heeled to leeward. The deck was suddenly washed with cold waves, and then the waters had slipped back. The two helmsmen strained with their side rudders, bringing the ship about. Then the wind was at the stern and the oar-master began his count, easing the ship ahead until the storm sail was caught by the blasts. When it was it was like a fist striking the sail and the mast screamed, and the bow, for a terrible moment dipped in the water and then, dripping the cold waters, the bow leaped up and tilted to the sky.
"Stroke!" called the oar-master, his cry almost lost in the sleet and wind "Stroke! Stroke!"
The beating of the copper drum of the keleustes took up maximum beat.
The tiny storm sail, swollen with the black wind and sleet, tore at the yard and the brail ropes. The Dorna knifed ahead, leaping between the waves that rose towering on either side.

When the storm abated, whether in hours or in one or two days, the fleet would put about and return to Port Kar.

Then I had water brought for the tarn, in a leather bucket, the ice broken through that coated the water like a lid. It drank.

The bird was buffeted by the storm, but it was a strong bird. I did not know the width of the storm, but I hoped its front- would be only a few pasangs. The bird could not fly a direct line to Port Kar, because of the wind, and we managed an oblique path, cutting away from the fleet. From time to time the bird, tiring, its wings wet, cold, coated with sleet, would drop sickeningly downward, but then again it would beat its way on the level, half driven by the wind, half flying.
The boy, Fish, cold, numb, wet, his hair and clothing iced with sleet, clung to the rope dangling beneath the bird.
Once the bird fell so low that the boy's feet and the bottom of the rope on which he stood splashed a path in the -churning waters, and then the bird, responding to my fierce pressures on the one-strap, beat its way up again and again flew, but then only yards over the black, rearing waves, the roaring sea.
And then the sleet became only pelting rain, and the rain became only a cruel wind, and then the cruelty of the wind yielded to only the cold rushing air at the fringe of the storm's garment.
And Thassa beneath us was suddenly streaked with the cold sunlight of Se'Kara, and the bird was across and through the storm. In the, distance we could see rocky beaches, and grass and brushland beyond, and beyond that, a woodland, with Tur and Ka-la-na trees.

Even though Telima wore her own cloak, I opened the great cloak of the admiral, and enfolded her within it, that we both might share its warmth. And then, on the height of the keep, looking out across the city, we watched the dawn, beyond the muddy Tamber gulf, softly touch the cold waters of the gleaming Thassa.

Scribes in Action in Port Kar

Investigating & Reporting
"I am going to the arsenal," I said. I turned to one of the captains. "Have scribes investigate and prepare reports on the extent of the damage, wherever it exists. Also have captains ascertain the military situation in the city. And have patrols doubled, and extend their perimeters by fifty pasangs."

Responsible for City & Council Documents
"Individual trees, not in the perserves, which are claimed by Port Kar, are marked with the seal of the arsenal. The location of all such trees is kept in a book available to the Council of Captains."

"Gather up and guard the book of the Council," I told the Scribe who had been at the great table.
"Yes, Captain," said he, leaping to seize it up.

"Candles were lit on several of the tables. Papers were strewn about. There were few scribes or pages there. Of the usual seventy or eighty, or so, captains of the approximately one hundred and twenty entitled to sit in the council, only some thirty or forty were present.
And even as I entered some two or three left the hall.
The scribe, haggard behind the great table, sitting before the book of the council, looked up at me."

Representing the Ubars
"The Ubars were represented on the council, to which they belonged as being themselves Captains, by five empty thrones, sitting before the semicircles of curule chairs on which reposed the captains. Beside each empty throne there was a stool from which a Scribe, speaking in the name of the Ubar, participated in the proceedings of the council. The Ubars themselves remained aloof, seldom showing themselves for fear of assassination."
"Now, crying to come before the council, was the mad, half-blind shipwright Tersites, a scroll of drawings in his hand, and calculations.
At a word from the scribe at the long table before the thrones of the Ubars, two men put Tersites from the chamber, dragging him away."

Council Meetings
"A scribe, at a large table before the five thrones, was droning the record of the last meeting of the council."
"I now ask the table scribe," said Samos, "to call the roll of Captains."
"Bejar," called the scribe.
"Bejar accepts the proposals of Samos," said a captain, a dark-skinned man with long, straight hair, who sat in the second row, some two chairs below me and to the right.
"Bosk," called the scribe.
"Bosk," I said, "abstains."
Samos, and many of the others, looked at me, quickly.
"Abstention," recorded the scribe."

Heading Committees
"Several committees were formed, usually headed by scribes but reporting to the council, to undertake various studies pertaining to the city, particularly of a military and commercial nature. One of these studies was to be a census of ships and captains, the results of which were to be private to the council. Other studies, the results of which would be kept similarly private to the council, dealt with the city defenses, and her stores of wood, grain, salt, stone and tharlarion oil. Also considered, though nothing was determined that night, were matters of taxation, the unification and revision of the codes of the five Ubars, the establishment of council courts, replacing those of the Ubars, and the acquistion of a sizable number of men-at-arms, who would be directly responsible to the council itself, in effect, a small council police or army. Such a body of men, it might be noted, though restricted in numbers and limited in jurisdiction, already existed in the arsenal."

Getting Information from Captives
"I gestured for the two slaves at the rack windlass to again rotate the heavy wooden wheels, moving the heavy wooden pawl another notch in the beam ratchet. Again there was a creak of wood and the sound of the pawl, locking, dropping into its new notch. The thing fastened on the rack threw back its head on the cords, screaming only with his eyes. Another notch and the bones of its arms and legs would be torn from their sockets.
"What have you learned?" I asked the scibe, who stood with his tablet and stylus beside the rack.
"It is the same as the others," he said. "They were hired by the men of Henrius Sevarius, some to slay captains, some to fire the wharves and arsenal."
The scribe looked up at me. "Tonight," he said, "Sevarius was to be Ubar of Port Kar, and each was to have a stone of gold."

"Then Samos addressed himself to the Scribe near the rack. He gestured toward the other racks. "Take down these men," he said, "and keep them chained. We may wish to question them further tomorrow."

Keeping Tally on Raids

Side note- Warriors (a sort of "tax-collector") from Port Kar on barges enter the marshes, firing crossbows upon the rencers on the islands to drive them into their nets.

"Near the oar pole to which I had been bound, some yards from what had been the circle of the dance, a number of rencers, stripped, men and women, lay bound hand and foot. They would later be carried, or forced to walk, to the barges. From time to time a warrior would add further booty to this catch, dragging or throwing his capture rudely among the others. These rencers were guarded by two warriors with drawn swords.
A scribe stood by with a tally sheet, marking the number of captures by each warrior."

All quotes on Port Kar taken from the site  & provided by salina{Sabre}