windows — on a coffee table before the settee, was a second manuscript, that which now follows. There was no note, no explanation.

Perhaps, as Tarl Cabot once remarked, 'The agents of the Priest-Kings are among us.'

Chapter Two: RETURN TO GOR

Once again, I, Tarl Cabot, strode the green fields of Gor.

I awakened naked in the wind-swept grass, beneath that blazing star that is the common sun of my two worlds, my home planet, Earth, and its secret sister, the Counter-Earth, Gor.

I rose slowly to my feet, my fibers alive in the wind, my hair torn by its blasts, my muscles each aching and rejoicing in their first movements in perhaps weeks, for I had again entered that silver disk in the White Mountains which was the ship of the Priest-Kings, used for the Voyages of Acquisition, and, in entering, had fallen unconscious. In that state, as once long before, I had come to this world.

I stood so for some minutes, to let each sense and nerve drink in the wonder of my return.

I was aware again of the somewhat lesser gravity of the planet, but this awareness would pass as my system accomodated itself naturally to the new environment. Given the lesser gravity, feats of prowess which might seem superhuman on earth were commonplace on Gor. The sun, as I remembered it, seemed a bit larger than it did when viewed from the earth, but as before it was difficult to be altogether sure of this.

In the distance I could see some patches of yellow, the Ka- la-na groves that dot the fields of Gor. Far to my left I saw a splendid field of Sa-Tarna, bending beautifully in the wind, that tall yellow grain that forms a staple in the Gorean diet. To the right, in the far distance, I saw the smudge of mountains. From their extent and height, as far as I could judge, I guessed them to be the mountains of Thentis. From them, if this were true, I could gather my bearings for Ko-ro-ba, that city of cylinders to which, years ago, I had pledged my sword.

So standing, the sun upon me, without thinking I raised my arms in pagan prayer to acknowledge the power of the Priest- Kings, which had once again brought me from Earth to this world, the power which once before had torn me from Gor when they were finished with me, taking me from my adopted city, my father and my friends, and from the girl I loved, dark- haired beautiful Talena, daughter of Marlenus, who had once been the Ubar of Ar, the greatest city of all known Gor.

There was no love in my heart for the Priest-Kings, those mysterious denizens of the Sardar Mountains, whoever or whatever they might be, but there was gratitude in my heart, either to them or to the strange forces that moved them.

That I had been returned to Gor to seek out once more my city and my love was, I was sure, not the spontaneous gesture of generosity, or of justice, that it might seem. The Priest- Kings, Keepers of the Holy Place in the Sardar Mountains, seeming knowers of all that occurred on Gor, masters of the hideous Flame Death that could with consuming fire destroy whatever they wished, whenever they might please, were not so crudely motivated as men, were not susceptible to the imperatives of decency and respect that can upon occasion sway human action. Their concern was with their own remote and mysterious ends; to achieve these ends, human creatures were treated as subservient instruments. It was rumoured they used men as one might use pieces in a game, and when the piece had played its role it might be discarded, or perhaps, as in my case, removed from the board until it pleased the Priest-Kings to try yet another game.

I noticed, a few feet from me, lying on the grass, a helmet, shield and spear, and a bundle of folded leather. I knelt to examine the articles. The helmet was bronze, worked in the Greek fashion, with a unitary opening somewhat in the shape of a Y. It bore no insignia and its crest plate was empty.

The round shield, concentric overlapping layers of hardened leather riveted together and bound with hoops of brass, fitted with the double sling for carrying on the left arm, was similarly unmarked. Normally the Gorean shield is painted boldly and has infixed in it some device for identifying the bearer' s city. If this shield were intended for me, and I had little doubt it was, it should have carried the sign of Ko-ro-ba, my city. The spear was a typical Gorean spear, about seven feet in height, heavy, stout, with a tapering bronze head some eighteen inches in length. It is a terrible weapon and, abetted by the somewhat lighter gravity of Gor, when cast with considerable force, can pierce a shield at close quarters or bury its head a foot deep in solid wood. With this weapon groups of men hunt even the larl in its native haunts in the Voltai Range, that incredible pantherlike carnivore which may stand six to eight feet high at the shoulder.

Indeed, the Gorean spear is such that many warriors scorn lesser missile weapons, such as the longbow or crossbow, both of which are not uncommonly found on Gor. I regretted, however, that no bow was among the weapons at my disposal, as I had, in my previous sojourn on Gor, developed a skill with such weapons, and admittedly a fondness for them, a liking which had scandalised my former master-at-arms.

I recalled him with affection, the Older Tarl. Tarl is a common name on Gor. I looked forward eagerly to seeing him again, that rough, Viking giant of a man, that proud, bearded, affectionately belligerent swordsman who had taught me the craft of arms as practised by the warriors of Gor. I opened the leather bundle. In it I found the scarlet tunic, sandals and cloak which constitute the normal garb of a member of the Caste of Warriors. This was as it should be, as I was of that caste, and had been since that morning, some seven years ago, when in the Chamber of the Council of High Castes I had accepted weapons from the hands of my father, Matthew Cabot, Administrator of Ko-ro-ba, and had taken the Home Stone of that city as my own.

For the Gorean, though he seldom speaks of these things, a city is more than brick and marble, cylinders and bridges. It is not simply a place, a geographical location in which men have seen fit to build their dwellings, a collection of structures where they may most conveniently conduct their affairs.

The Gorean senses, or believes, that a city cannot be simply identified with its natural elements, which undergo their transformations even as do the cells of a human body.

For them a city is almost a living thing, or more than a living thing. It is an entity with a history, as stones and rivers do not have a history; it is an entity with a tradition, a heritage, customs, practices, character, intentions, hopes. When a Gorean says, for example, that he is of Ar, or Ko-ro-ba, he is doing a great deal more than informing you of his place of residence.

The Goreans generally, though there are exceptions, particularly the Caste of Initiates, do not believe in immortality. Accordingly, to be of a city is, in a sense, to have been a part of something less perishable than oneself, something divine in the sense of undying, Of course, as every Gorean knows, cities too are mortal, for cities can be destroyed as well as men. And this perhaps makes them love their cities the more, for they know that their city, like themselves, is subject to mortal termination. The love of their city tends to become invested in a stone which is known as the Home Stone, and which is normally kept in the highest cylinder in the city. In the Home Stone — sometimes little more than a crude piece of carved rock, dating back perhaps several hundred generations to when the city was only a cluster of huts by the bank of a river, sometimes a magnificent and impressively wrought, jewel- encrusted cube of marble or granite — the city finds its symbol. Yet to speak of a symbol is to fall short of the mark. It is almost as if the city itself were identified with the Home Stone, as if it were to the city what life is to man. The myths of these matters have it that while the Home Stone survives, so, too, must the city.

But not only is it the case that each city has its Home Stone. The simplest and humblest village, and even the most primitive hut in that village, perhaps only a cone of straw, will contain its own Home Stone, as will the fantastically appointed chambers of the Administrator of so great a city as Ar.

My Home Stone was the Home Stone of Ko-ro-ba, that city to which I had seven years ago pledged my sword. I was now eager to return to my city. In the bundle, wrapped inside the tunic and cloak I found the shoulder belt, sheath and short sword of the Goreans. I took the blade from its sheath. It was well balanced, vicious, double-edged and about twenty to twenty-two inches in length. I knew the handle, and I could recognise certain marks on the blade. It was the weapon I had carried at the siege of Ar. It felt strange to hold it again in my hand, to feel its weight, the familiar grasp of the hilt. This blade had fought its way up the stairs of the Central Cylinder of Ar, when I had rescued Marlenus, embattled Ubar of that city. It had crossed with that of Pa-Kur, master assassin, on the roof of Ar' s Cylinder of Justice, when I had fought for my love, Talena. And now again I held it in my hand. I wondered why, and knew only that the Priest-Kings had intended it so.

There were two items I had hoped to find in the bundle which were not there, a tarn-goad and a tarn-

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