For more than seven years I have wondered at the mysteries concealed in those dark recesses. I have wondered about the Priest-Kings and their power, their ships and agents, their plans for their world and mine; but most importantly I must learn why my city was destroyed and its people scattered, why it is that no stone may stand upon another stone; and I must learn the fate of my friends, my father and of Talena, my love. But I go to the Sardar for more than truth; foremost in my brain there burns, like an imperative of steel, the cry for blood-vengeance, mine by sword-right, mine by the affinities of blood and caste and city, mine for I am one pledged to avenge a vanished people, fallen walls and towers, a city frowned upon by Priest-Kings, for I am a Warrior of Ko-ro-ba! I seek more than truth in the Sardar; I seek the blood of Priest-Kings!

But how foolish it is to speak thus.

I speak as though my frail arm might avail against the power of Priest-Kings. Who am I to callenge their power? I am nothing; not even a bit of dust, raised by the wind on a tiny fist of defiance; not even a blade of grass that cuts at the ankles of trampling gods. Yet I, Tarl Cabot, shall go to the Sardar; I shall meet with Priest-Kings, and of them, though they be the gods of Gor, I shall demand an accounting.

Outside on the bridges I hear the cry of the Lighter of Lanterns. 'Light your lamps,' he calls. 'Light the lamps of love.'

I wonder sometimes if I would have gone to the Sardar had not my city been destroyed. It now seems to me that if I had simply returned to Gor, and to my city, my father, my friends and my beloved Talena, I might not have cared to enter the Sardar, that I would not have cared to relinquish the joys of life to inquire into the secrets of those dark mountains. And I have wondered sometimes, and the thought awes and frightens me, if my city might not have been destroyed only to bring me to the mountains of the Priest-Kings, for they would surely know that I would come to challenge them, that I would come to the Sardar, that I would climb to the moons of Gor itself, to demand my satisfaction.

Thus it is that I perhaps move in the patterns of Priest- Kings — that perhaps I pledge my vengeance and set out for the Sardar as they knew that I would, as they had calculated and understood and planned. But even so I tell myself that it is still I who move myself, and not Priest-Kings, even though I might move in their patterns; if it is their intention that I should demand an accounting, it is my intention as well; if it their game, it is also mine.

But why would Priest-Kings desire Tarl Cabot to come to their mountains? He is nothing to them, nothing to any man; he is only a warrior, a man with no city to call his own, thus an outlaw. Could Priest-Kings, with their knowledge and power, have need of such a man? But Priest-Kings need nothing from men, and once more my thoughts grow foolish.

It is time to put aside the pen. I regret only that none return from the Sardar, for I have loved life. And on this barbaric world I have seen it in all its beauty and cruelty, in all its glory and sadness. I have learned that it is splendid and fearful and priceless. I have seen it in the vanished towers of Ko-ro-ba and in the flight of a tarn, in the movements of a beautiful woman, in the gleam of weaponry, in the sound of tarn drums and the crash of thunder over green fields. I have found it at the tables of sword companions and in the clash of the metals of war, in the touch of a girl' s lips and hair, in the blood of a sleen, in the sands and chains of Tharna, in the scent of talenders and the hiss of the whip. I am grateful to the immortal elements which have so conspired that I might once be. I was Tarl Cabot, Warrior of Ko-ro-ba.

That not even the Priest-Kings of Gor can change. is toward evening now, and the lamps of love are lit in many of the windows of the cylinders of Tharna. The beacon fires are set upon her walls, and I can hear the cry of distant guardsmen that all is well in Tharna.

The cylinders grow dark against the darkening sky. It will soon be night. There will be few to note the stranger who leaves the city, perhaps few to remember that he was once within their walls.

My weapons and my shield and helmet are at hand.

Outside I hear the cry of the tarn.

I am satisfied.

I wish you well,

Tarl Cabot

Вы читаете Outlaw of Gor
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату