From this amnesty only the silver masks of Tharna were excepted. Blood was high in the streets of Tharna after the revolt and angry men, both rebels and defenders, joined in the brutal hunt for silver masks. These poor creatures were hunted from cylinder to cylinder, from room to room.

When found they were dragged forth into the street, unmasked, cruelly bound together and driven to the palace at the point of weapons, their masks hanging about their necks.

Many silver masks were discovered hiding in obscure chambers in the palace itself and the dungeons below the palace were soon filled with chains of fair, lamenting prisoners. Soon the animal cages beneath the arena of the Amusements of Tharna had to be pressed into service, and then the arena itself.

Some Silver Masks were discovered even in the sewers beneath the city and these were driven by giant, leashed urts through the long tubes until they crowded the wire capture nets set at the openings of the sewers. Other Silver Masks had taken refuge in the mountains beyond the walls and these were hunted like sleen by converging rings of irate peasants, who drove them into the centre of their hunting circles, whence, unmasked and bound, they were herded to the city to meet their fate.

Most of the silver masks however, when it was understood their battle had been lost and the laws of Tharna were irrevocably shattered came of their own free will into the streets and submitted themselves in the traditional fashion of the captive Gorean female, kneeling, lowering the head, and lifting and raising the arms, wrists crossed for binding.

The pendulum in Tharna had swung.

I myself had stood at the foot of the steps to the golden throne when Lara had commanded that the giant mask of gold which hung behind it be pried by spears from the wall and cast to the floor at our feet.

No more would that cold serene visage survey the throne room of Tharna. The men of Tharna watched almost in disbelief as the great mask loosened, bolt by bolt, from the wall, leaned forward and at last, dragged down by its own weight, broke loose and plunged clattering down the steps of the throne, breaking into a hundred pieces.

'Let it be melted,' Lara had said, 'and cast into the golden tarn disks of Tharna and let these be distributed to those who have suffered in our day of troubles.'

'And add to the golden tarn disks,' she had exclaimed, 'tarn disks of silver to be formed from the masks of our women, for henceforth in Tharna no woman may wear a mask of either gold or silver, not even though she be Tatrix of Tharna herself!'

And as she had spoken, according to the customs of Tharna, her words became the law and from that day forth no woman in Tharna might wear a mask. In the streets of Tharna shortly after the end of the revolt the caste colours of Gor began to appear openly in the garments of the citizens. The marvelous glazing substances of the Caste of Builders, long prohibited as frivolous and expensive, began to appear on the walls of the cylinders, even on the walls of the city itself. Graveled streets are now being paved with blocks of coloured stone set in patterns to delight the eye. The wood of the great gate has been polished and its brass burnished. New paint blazes upon the bridges.

The sound of caravan bells is longer strange in Tharna and strings of traders have found their way to her gates, to exploit this most surprising of all markets.

Here and there the mount of a tarnsman boasts a golden harness. On market day I saw a peasant, his sack of Sa-Tarna meal on his back, whose sandals were tied with silver straps.

I have seen private apartments with tapestries from the mills of Ar upon the walls; and my sandals have sometimes found underfoot richly coloured, deeply woven rugs from distant Tor.

It is perhaps a small thing to see on the belt of an artisan a silver buckle of the style worn in mountainous Thentis or to note the delicacy of dried eels from Port Kar in the marketplace, but these things, small though they are, speak to me of a new Tharna.

In the streets I hear the shouting, the song and clamour that is typically Gorean. The marketplace is no longer simply some acres of tile on which business must be dourly conducted. It is a place where friends meet, arrange dinners, exchange invitations, discuss politics, the weather, strategy, philosophy and the management of slave girls.

One change that I find of interest, though I cannot heartily approve, is that the rails have been removed from the high bridges of Tharna. I had thought this pointless, and perhaps dangerous, but Kron had said simply, 'Let those who fear to walk the high bridges not walk the high bridges.' One might also mention that the men of Tharna have formed the custom of wearing in he belt of their tunic two yellow cords, each about eighteen inches in length. By this sign alone men of other cities can now recognise a man of Tharna.

On the twentieth day following peace in Tharna the fate of the silver masks was determined.

They were herded, roped throat to throat, unveiled, wrists bound behind their backs, in long lines to the arena of the Amusements of Tharna. There they would hear the judgement of Lara, their Tatrix. They knelt before her — once proud silver masks, now terrified and helpless captives — on the same sparkling sand that had so often been stained with the blood of the men of Tharna.

Lara had thought long on these matters and had discussed them with many, including myself. In the end her decision was her own. I do not know that my own decision would have been so harsh, but I admit that Lara knew her city and its silver masks better than I.

I recognised that it was not possible to restore the old order of Tharna, nor was it desirable. Too I recognised that there was no longer any adequate provision — given the destruction of Tharna' s institutions — for the indefinite shelter of large numbers of free women within her walls. The family, for example, had not existed in Tharna for generations, having been replaced by the division of the sexes and the segregated public nurseries. And too it must be remembered that the men of Tharna who had tasted her women in the revolt now demanded them as their right. No man who has seen a woman in Pleasure Silk, or watched her dance, or heard the sound of a belled ankle or watched a woman' s hair, unbound, fall to her waist can long live without the possession of such a delicious creature.

Also it should be noted that it was not realistic to offer the silver masks the alternative of exile, for that would simply have been to condemn them to violent death or foreign enslavement.

In its way, under the circumstances, the judgement of Lara was merciful — though it was greeted with wails offrom the roped captives.

Each silver mask would have six months in which she would be free to live within the city and be fed at the common tables, much as before the revolt. But within that six months she is expected to find a man of Tharna to whom she will propose herself as a Free Companion.

If he does not accept her as a Free Companion — and few men of Tharna will be in a mood to extend the priveleges of Free Companionship to a silver mask — he may then, without further ado, simply collar her as his slave, or if he wishes he may reject her completely. If she is rejected she may propose herself similarly to yet another of the men of Tharna, and perhaps yet another and another.

After the six months, howver — perhaps she has been reluctant to seek a master? — her initiative in these matters is lost and she belongs to the first man who encircles her throat with the graceful, gleaming badge of servitude. In such a case she is considered no differently, and treated no differently than if she were a girl brought in on tarnback from a distant city.

I effect, considering the temper of the men of Tharna, Lara' s judgement gives the silver masks the opportunity, for a time, to choose a master, or after that time to be themselves chosen as a slave girl. Thus each silver mask will in time belong to a beast, though at first she is given some opportunity to determine whose yellow cords she will feel, on whose rug the ceremony of submission will take place.

Perhaps Lara understood, as I did not, that women such as silver masks must be taught love, and can learn it only from a master. It was not her intention to condemn her sisters of Tharna into interminable and miserable bondage but to force them to take this strange first step on the road she herself has traveled, one of the unusual roads that may lead to love. When I had questioned her, Lara had said to me that only when true love is learned is the Free Companionship possible, and that some women can learn love only in chains. I wondered at her words.

There is little more to tell.

Kron remains in Tharna, where he stands high in the Council of the Tatrix Lara.

Andreas and Linna will leave the city, for he tells me there are many roads on Gor he has not wandered and

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