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Old Gods

"Kassau is the seat of the High Initiate of the north, who claims spiritual sovereignty over Torvaldsland, which is commonly taken to commence with the thinning of the trees northward. This claim, like many of those of the initiates, is disputed by few, and ignored by most. The men of Torvaldsland, on the whole, I knew, while tending to respect Priest-Kings, did not accord them special reverence. They held to old gods, and old ways. The religion of the Priest-Kings, institutionalised and ritualised by the castle of Initiates, had made little headway among the primitive men to the north."
"Marauders of Gor" page 26

"Sometimes, too, the religion of the Priest-Kings, under the control of the initiates, utilizing secular rulers, was propagated by fire and sword. Sometimes those who insisted on retaining the old ways, or were caught making the sign of the fist, the hammer, over their ale were subjected to death by torture. One that I had heard of had been boiled alive in one of the great sunken wood-lined tubs in which meat was boiled for retainers. The water is heated by placing rocks, taken from a fire, into the water. When the rock has been in the water, it is removed with a rake and then reheated. Another had been roasted alive on a spit over a long fire. It was said that he did not utter a sound. Another was slain when an adder forced into his mouth tore its way free through the side of his face."
"Marauders of Gor" page 26

Rune Priests

"We saw thralls, too, in the crowd, and rune-priests, with long hair, in white robes, a spiral ring of gold on their left arms, about their waist a bag of omens chips, pieces of wood soaked in the blood of the sacrificial bosk, slain to open the thing; these chips are thrown like dice, sometimes several times, and are then read by the priests; the thing-temple, in which the ring of the temple is kept, is made of wood; nearby, in a grove, hung from poles, were bodies of six verr; in past days, it is my understanding, there might have been there, in place of the six verr, six thralls; it had been decided, however, a generation ago, by one of the rare meetings of the high council of rune-priests, attended by the high rune-priests of each district, that thralls should no longer be sacrificed; this was not defended, however, on grounds of the advance of civilization, or such, but rather on the grounds that thralls, like urts and tiny six-toed tharlarion, were not objects worthy of sacrifice; there had been a famine and many thralls had been sacrificed; in spite of this the famine had not abated for more than four growing seasons; this period, too, incidentally, was noted for the large number of raids to the south, often involving entire fleets from Torvaldsland; it had been further speculated that the gods had no need of thralls, or, if they did, they might supply this need themselves, or make this need known through suitable signs; no signs, however, luckily for thralls, were forthcoming; this was taken as a vindication of the judgement of the high council of rune-priests; after the council, the status of rune-priests had risen in Torvaldsland; this may also have had something to do with the fact that the famine, finally, after four seasons, abated; the status of the thrall, correspondingly, however, such as it was, declined; he was now regarded as much in the same category with the urts that one clubs in the Sa-Tarna sheds, or are pursued by small pet sleen, kept there for that purpose, or with the tiny, six-toed rock tharlarion of southern Torvaldsland, favored for their legs and tails, which are speared by children. If the thrall had been nothing in Torvaldsland before, he was now less than nothing; his status was now, in effect, that of the southern, male work slave, found often in the quarries and mines, and, chained, on the great farms. He, a despised animal, must obey instantly and perfectly, or be subject to immediate slaughter."
"Marauders of Gor" Page 152

"The Spring Equinox, incidentally, is also used for the New Year by the Rune-Priests of the North, who keep the calendars of Torvaldsland. They number years from the time of Thor’s gift of the stream of Torvald to Torvald, legendary hero and founder of the northern fatherlands. In the calendars of the Rune-Priests the year was 1,006."
"Marauders of Gor" Page 58

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.
"Marauders of Gor" Page 229




Creation of Man

In Gorean legends the Priest-Kings are said to have formed man from the mud of the earth and the blood of tarns. In the legends of Torvaldsland, man has a different origin. Gods, meeting in council, decided to form a slave for themselves, for they were all gods, and had no slaves. They took a hoe, an instrument for working the soil, and put it among them. They then sprinkled water upon this implement and rubbed upon it sweat from their bodies. From this hoe was formed most men. On the other hand, that night, one of the gods, curious, or perhaps careless, or perhaps driven from the hall and angry, threw down upon the ground his own great ax, and upon this ax he poured paga and his own blood, and the ax laughed and leaped up, and ran away. The god, and all the gods, could not catch it, and it became, it is said, the father of the men of Torvaldsland."
"of Gor" Page ?


“Torvald,” I said to the Forkbeard, “is only a figure of legend. Each country has its legendary heroes, its founders, its discoverers, its mythic giants.”
“This,” said the Forkbeard, looking up at the sign, “is the chamber of Torvald.” He looked at me. “We have found it,” he said.
“There is no Torvald,” I said. “Torvald does not exist.”
“This,” said the Forkbeard, “is his chamber.” His voice shook. “Torvald,” said he, “sleeps in the Torvaldsberg, and has done so for a thousand years. He waits to be wakened. When his land needs him, he shall awake. He shall then lead us in battle. Again he will lead the men of the north.”
“There is no Torvald,” I said.
The Forkbeard looked within. “For a thousand years,” he whispered, “has he slept.”
“Torvald does not exist,” I said.
“We must waken him,” said the Forkbeard. Ivar Forkbeard, lifting his torch, entered the great chamber.
I felt grief. It seemed to me not impossible that, at the root of the legends, the sagas, of Torvald, there might be some particles of truth. I did not think it impossible that there had once been a Torvald, one who had come to this land, with followers perhaps, more than a thousand years ago.
He might have been a great leader, a mighty warrior, the first of the jarls of the north, but that had been, if it had ever been, more than a thousand years ago. There was now no Torvald. I felt grief at what misery, what disappoint ment, what disillusionment must now fall to my friend, the Forkbeard.
"Marauders of Gor" Page 138

"This chamber, I knew, had been built by men, and the passages carved from the very stone of the mountain itself. That must be accounted for. But it was not difficult to do so Perhaps there had once been a Torvald, hundreds of years ago. If so, it was not impossible that it had been his wish to be interred in the great mountain.
We stood, perhaps, within, or at the brink, of the tomb of Torvald, lost for long ages until now, until we two, fleeing from Kurii, from beasts, had stumbled upon it. Perhaps it was true that Torvald had been buried in the Torvaldsberg, and that the tomb, the funeral chamber, had been concealed, to protect it from the curious or from robbers. And, in such a case, legends might well have arisen, legends in which the mystery of the lost tomb might figure. These would have spread from village to village, from remote farm to remote farm, from hall to hall. One such legend, quite naturally, might have been that Torvald, the great Torvald, was not truly dead, but only asleep, and would waken when once again his land had need of him."
"Marauders of Gor" Page 138

“The chamber is empty,” said Ivar.
“No,” I said, “we are within it.” I put my hand to his shoulder. “It is not Torvald who must awaken in this cham-ber. Rather it is we. Here, hoping for others to do our work, we find only ourselves, and an arrow of war. Is this not Torvald’s way of telling us, from a thousand years ago, that it is we on whom we must depend, and not on any other. If the land is to be saved, it is by us, and others like us, that lt must be saved. There are no spells, no gods, no heroes to save us. In this chamber, it is not Torvald who must awaken It is you and I.”
I regarded the Forkbeard evenly. “Lift,’ said I, “the arrow of war.”
I stood back from the couch, my torch raised. Slowly, his visage terrible, the Forkbeard lifted his arm, the arrow in his fist
"Marauders of Gor" Page 140

"Torvald, said he, sleeps in the Torvaldsberg, and has done so for a thousand years. He waits to be wakened. When his land needs him, he shall awake. He shall then lead us in battle. Again he will lead the men of the north." ..."What is your true name? I had inquired. He looked at me, and smiled. It was strange what he said. My name, he said, is Torvald. Then he had turned away, I watched him return to the mountain. I thought of the stabilization serums, My name is Torvald, he had said."
"Marauders of Gor" page 232


"Though the hall of Ivar Forkbeard was built only of turf and stone, and though he himself was 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 from him in the place of honor.
"Marauders of Gor" page 57

Sign of the hammer

"The Forkbeard himself now, from a wooden keg, poured a great tankard of ale, which must have been of the measure of five gallons. over this he then closed his fist. It was the sign of the hammer, the sign of Thor. The tankard then, with two great bronze handles, was passed from hands to hands among the rowers. The men threw back their heads and, the liquid spilling down their bodies, drank ale. It was the victory ale."
"Marauders of Gor" page 82

"Standing on the broken fragments of the circle, Ivar Forkbeard cried out, his act lifted, and his left hand, too, “Praise be to Odin!” And then, throwing his axe to his left shoulder, holding it there by his left hand the turned and faced the Sardar, and lifted his fist, clenched. It was not only a sign of defiance to Priest-Kings, but the fist, the sign of the hammer. It was the sign of Thor."
"Marauders of Gor" page 47


"The wergild must be high," I speculated. The Forkbeard looked at me, and grinned. "It was set so high," said he, "out of the reach of custom and law, against the protests of the rune-priests and his own men, that none, in his belief, could pay it." "And thus," said I, "that your outlawry would remain in effect until you were apprehended or slain?"| "He hoped to drive me from Torvaldsland," said Ivar. "He has not succeeded in doing so," I said. Ivar grinned. "He does not know where I am," said he. "If he did, a hundred ships might enter the inlet." "How much," asked I, "is the wergild?" "A hundred stone of gold,'' said Ivar.
"Marauders of Gor" page 94

The Frenzy of Odin

“Look upon Rollo,” said the Forkbeard. The veins in the neck, and on the forehead, of the giant bulged, swollen with pounding blood. His head was bent to one side. I could not look upon his eyes. He bit at the rim of his shield, tearing the wood, splintering it with his teeth. “It is the frenzy of Odin,” said the Forkbeard. “It is the frenzy of Odin.”
"Marauders of Gor" page 245


"I studied the board before me. It was set on a square chest. It was a board made for play at sea, and such boards are common with the men of Torvaldsland. In the center of each square was a tiny peg. The pieces, correspondingly, are drilled to match the pegs, and fit over them. This keeps them steady in the movements at sea. The board was of red and yellow squares. The Kaissa of the men of Torvaldsland is quite similar to that of the south, though certain of the pieces differ. There is, for example, not a Ubar but a Jarl, as the most powerful piece. Moreover, there is no Ubara. Instead, there is a piece called the Jarl's Woman, which is quite powerful, more so than the southern Ubara. Instead of Tarnsmen, there are two pieces called the Axes. The board has no Initiates, but there are corresponding pieces called Rune-Priests. Similarly there are no Scribes, but a piece, which moves identically, called the Singer. I thought that Andreas of Tor, a friend, of the caste of Singers, might have been pleased to learn that his caste was represented, and honored, on the boards of the north. The Spearmen moved identically with the southern Spearmen. It did not take me much time to adapt to the Kaissa of Torvaldsland, for it is quite similar to the Kaissa of the south. On the other hand, feeling my way on the board, I had lost the first two games to the Forkbeard. Interestingly, he had been eager to familiarize me with the game, and was abundant in his explanations and advice. Clearly, he wished me to play him at my full efficiency, without handicap, as soon as possible. I had beaten him the third game, and he had then, delighted, ceased in his explanations and advice and, together, the board between us, each in our way a warrior, we had played Kaissa."
"Marauders of Gor" pages 56/7

"The Forkbeard's game was much more varied, and tactical, than was that of, say, Marlenus of Ar, much more devious, and it was far removed from the careful, conservative, positional play of a man such as Mintar, of the caste of Merchants. The Forkbeard made great use of diversions and feints, and double strategies, in which an attack is double edged, being in effect two attacks, an open one and a concealed one, either of which, depending on a misplay by the opponent, may be forced through, the concealed attack requiring usually only an extra move to make it effective, a move which, ideally, threatened or pinned an opponent's piece, giving him the option of surrendering it or facing a devastating attack, he then a move behind. In the beginning I had played Forkbeard positionally, learning his game. When I felt I knew him better, I played him more openly. His wiliest tricks, of course I knew, he would seldom use saving them for games of greater import, or perhaps for players of Torvaldsland."
"Marauders of Gor" pages 56/7

"Among them, even more than in the south, Kaissa is a passion. In the long winters of Torvaldsland, when the snow, the darkness, the ice and wintry winds are upon the land, when the frost breaks open the rocks, groaning, at night, when the serpents hide in their roofed sheds, many hours, under swinging soapstone lamps, burning the oil of sea sleen, are given to Kaissa. At such times, even the bond-maids, rolling and restless, naked, in the furs of their masters, their ankles chained to a nearby ring, must wait."
"Marauders of Gor" pages 56/7

Or Dance

"Then the Forkbeard himself drained the remains of the tankard, threw it to the foot of the mast, and then, to my astonishment, leapt from the ship, onto the moving oards. Then men sang. The Forkbeard then, to the delight of those on the bank, who cheered him, as the serpent edged into the dock, adressed himself delightedly to the oar-dance of the rover of Torvaldsland. It is not actually a dance, of course, but it is an athletic feat of no little stature requiring a superb eye, fantastic balance and incredible coordination. Ivar Forkbeard, crying out, leaped from moving oar to moving oar, proceeding from the oars nearest the stem on the port side to the stern, then leaping back onto the deck at the stern quarter and leaping again on the oars this time on the starboard side, and proceeding from the oar nearest the stern to that nearest the stem, and then, lifting his arms, he leaped again into the ship, almost thrown into it as the oar lifted. He then stood on the prow, near me, sweating and grinning. I saw cups of ale, on the bank, being lifted to him. Men cheered. I heard the cries of bond-maids."
"Marauders of Gor" pages 82

The Thing Fair

“I have an appointment with Svein Blue Tooth,” said Ivar Forkbeard. He kicked the captive with the side of his boot. She uttered a small noise, but made no other sound. “The Thing will soon be held,” he said.
"Marauders of Gor" pages 120

"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 termerity to advise the man of Torvaldsland to arrive or move about unarmed."
"Marauders of Gor" pages 141

"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 holidy 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 works 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. 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."
"Hunters of Gor" Page 142

"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."
"Hunters of Gor" Page 142

"In the crowd, too, much in evidence, were brazen bond-maids; they had been brought to the thing, generally, by captains and Jarls; it is not unusual for men to bring such slaves with them, though they are not permitted near the law courts or the assemblies of deliberation; the voyages to the thing were not, after all, ventures of raiding; they were not enterprises of warfare; there were three reasons for bringing such girls; they were for the pleasure of men; they served, as display objects, to indicate the wealth of their masters; and they could be bought and sold."
"Hunters of Gor" Page 143

"We saw thralls, too, in the crowd, and rune-priests, with long hair, in white robes, a spiral ring of gold on their left arms, about their waist a bag of omens chips, pieces of wood soaked in the blood of the sacrificial bosk, slain to open the thing; "
"Hunters of Gor" Page 152

“Let us watch duels,” said the Forkbeard. The duel is a device by which many disputes, legal and personal, are settled in Torvaldsland. There are two general sorts, the formal duel and the free duel. The free duel permits all weapons; there are there are no restrictions on tactics or field. At the thing, of course, adjoining squares are lined out for these duels. If the combatants wished, however, they might choose another field. Such duels, commonly, are held on wave-struck skerries in Thassa. Two men are left alone; later, at nightfall, a skiff returns, to pick up the survivor. The formal duel is quite complex, and I shall not describe it in detail. Two men meet, but each is permitted a shield bearer; the combatants strike at one another, and the blows, hopefully, are fended by each’s shield bearer; three shields are permitted to each combatant; when these are hacked to pieces or otherwise rendered useless, his shield bearer retires, and he must defend himself with his own weapon alone; swords not over a given length, too, are prescribed. The duel takes place, substantially, on a large, square cloak, ten feet on each side, which is pegged down on the turf; outside this cloak there are two squares, each a foot from the cloak, drawn in the turf. The outer corners of the second of the two drawn squares are marked with hazel wands; there is this a twelve-foot-square fighting area; no ropes are stretched between the hazel wands. When the first blood touches the cloak the match may, at the agreement of the combatants, or in the discretion of one of the two referees, be terminated; a price of three silver tarn disks is then paid to the victor by the loser; the winner commonly then performs a sacrifice; if the winner is rich, and the match of great importance, he may slay a bosk; if he is poor, or the match is not considered a great victory, his sacrifice may be less. These duels, particularly of the formal variety, are sometimes used disreputably for gain by unscrupulous swordsmen. A man, incredibly enough, may be challenged risks his life among the hazel wands; he may be slain; then, too, of course, the stake, the farm, the companion, the daughter, is surrendered by law to the challenger. The motivation of this custom, I gather, is to enable strong, powerful men to obtain land and attractive women; and to encourage those who possess such to keep themselves in fighting condition. All in all I did not much approve of the custom. Commonly, of course, the formal duel is used for more reputable purposes, such as settling grievances over boundaries, or permitting an opportunity where, in a case of insult, satisfaction might be obtained.

"Prior to his winning the swimming he had won talmits for climbing the “mast”, a tall pole of needle wood, some fifty feet high, smoothed and peeled; for jumping the “crevice”, actually a broad jump, on level land, where marks are made with strings, to the point at which the back heel strikes ther earth; walking the “oar”, actually, a long pole; and throwing the spear, a real spear I am pleased to say, both for distance and accuracy; counting the distance and the accuracy of the spear events as two events which they are, he had thus, prior to the swimming, won five talmits."
"Marauders of Gor" page 140

"He had done less well in the singing contest, though he much prided himself on his singing voice; he thought, in that one, the judges had been against him; he did not score highly either in the composition of poetry contest nor in the rhyming games; “I am not a skald,” he explained to me later; he did much better, I might mention, in the riddle guessing; but not well enough to win; he missed the following riddle; “What is black, has eighty legs and eats gold?”; the answer, though it might not seem obvious, was Black Sleen, the ship of Thorgard of Scagnar; the Forkbeard’s answer had been Black Shark, the legendary ship of Torvald, reputed discoverer and first Jarl of Torvaldsland; he acknowledged his defeat in this contest, however, gracefully; “I was a fool.” He grumbled to me. “I should have known!”
"Marauders of Gor" page 140

"About my forehead were bound two talmits, one which I had won in wrestling, the other in archery."
"Marauders of Gor" page 181

“This man,” called out Svein Blue Tooth, obviously im-pressed, “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 con-tests. 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 some- thing 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."
"Marauders of Gor" page 182


"The talmit of skin of sea sleen is mine!" he laughed. The talmit is a headband. It is not unusual for the men of Torvaldsland to wear them, though none of Forkbeard's men did. They followed an outlaw. Some talmits have special significance. Special talmits sometime distinguish officers, and Jarls; or a district's lawmen, in the pay of the Jarl; the different districts, too, sometimes have different styles of talmit, varying in their material and design; talmits, too, can be awarded as prizes."
"Marauders of Gor" page 139


"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 rnust 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

Bat and ball

"Perhaps the most serious incident of the contests had occurred in one of the games of bat and ball; in this contest there are two men on each side, and the object is to keep the ball out of the hands of the other team; no one man may hold the ball form more than the referee's count of twenty; he may, however, throw it into the air, provided it is thrown over his head, and catch it again himself; the ball may be thrown to the partner, or struck to him with the bat; the bat, of course, drives the ball with incredible force; the bats are of heavy wood, rather broad, and the ball, about two inches in diameter, is also of wood, and extremely hard; this is something like a game of "keep away" with two men in the middle. I was pleased that I was not involved in the play. Shortly after the first "knock off," in which the ball is served to the enemy, Gorm, who was Ivar's partner, was struck cold with the ball, it driven from an opponent's bat; this, I gathered, is a common trick; it is very difficult to intercept or protect oneself from a ball struck at one with great speed from a short distance; it looked quite bad for Ivar at this point, until one of his opponents, fortunately, broke his leg, it coming into violent contact with Ivar' s bat. This contest was called a draw. Ivar then asked me to be his partner. I declined. "it is all right," said Ivar, "even the bravest of men may decline a contest of bat-and-ball."
"Marauders of Gor" page 140


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