Fifth Hand, Fourth Day of the month of En’ Kara, Year 10162 Contasta Ar
I am far more suited to the backwoods — the rules of civil formalities elsewhere are simply too much trouble.
It is not that I am uncouth or barbaric. I am, I suppose, merely apathetic to certain “niceties.” It may also be that I am simply naive and ignorant of proper manners. I shall defend myself by arguing otherwise. The fact is that I tolerate that which others criticize or take offense — and this is known well to those that know me. Perhaps to those observing such it is seen as a flaw in my upbringing. That belief makes me laugh, and should make laugh those that know me well, as my upbringing remains a shrouded mystery. In any event, it bothers me little that I may fail to notice or take offense if a slave mistakenly greets a woman before myself or if she heels to the wrong side of an owner or if pub service falls short of perfection. Tanz, of course, notices these things far more than I and does not hesitate to point out flaws — not with malice, but with far more honorable reasons. And, her counterbalance to my disinterest demonstrates good arguments that in my approach I may be wrong — though I shall never admit it. The reasoning that favors her, though, is this. If others correct such things not in cruelty but to better the slave, to increase her worth to her owner, to avoid her future trouble and embarassment, and to make her better in what she wants to be then, of course, they act with honor to society, the owner, and the slave. I, on the other hand, am satisfied to receive my drink unpoisoned and absorb the loveliness of the comely creature bringing it. Perhaps in not being more exacting and demanding in her ways I failed my former kajira brynn — I do not know. Then, again, perhaps she simply was not meant or not ready to become kajira in its fullness. Word has come to me though I have not confirmed its truth — that brynn is no longer slave, but free. As I write this, I smile, for if that is the case, it is a sight someday I would like to behold.
* * *
Tanz and I left Gimli, and began to proceed vask (south) towards the Vosk. The slave we took did not last long in our company, and I was relieved to see this one settled with another that Tanz encountered on our journey. It had been my intent to take the wagon klim (west) along the Vosk towards Siba and reclaim the Serendipity, but unfortunately (and I am embarassed to admit this) we were misdirected along a road and found ourselves quite far rim (east) when we came upon the Vosk. As long as we were so far from our intended destination, I decided to travel by caravan further rim (east). When we were in Corcyrus I had read a book by Manus Candoit titled “Circumnavigation of Gor.” According to the author a secret water route along the Vosk river somewhere near Treve enabled one, by traveling rim (east) to reach the klim (west). I wanted to look to see if I could see some sign of anything that might lead me to accept his fabled tributary. I had another reason to head rim (east) as well. I had reason to believe a woman once dear to me dwelled in that area. It was hard for me to fathom the rumors of her residence there because according to it she lived amongst the scoundrels of Treve, a place known to be infested by assassins and thieves. As it was, I was impelled to learn the truth for myself.
And so we traveled, sometimes by the river bank sometimes away from it, for the most part avoiding the river ports and other civilization when possible, the better to enjoy each another’s company. Tanz is a constant surprise to me. She is well-read, and as I have just mentioned she knows well the rules that disinterest me. It is my guess she has a refined upbringing; I do not know for sure because I press her little more than she is willing to reveal. What is clear is that she has taken with little disagreement the ordeals of traveling days on dusty roads, living off the land, and the absence of more civilized life. But eventually such takes it toll on her and as we neared what must have been close to the end of the Vosk, we reached the Village of Minus and decided to spend the night there. It was my intent to seek further information on the way to Treve from this surprisingly large village. At the time, of course, I did not know its connection to the secret city of Treve.
No sooner had our caravan reached the dock and village entrance than a boat reached the dock as well. Off the vessel stepped a veiled woman, impecably dressed, accompanied by slave. I almost gave her no attention because she seemed the annoying haughty type and which many claim clearly beg to embrace a collar — were a man interested enough to make it happen. However, I did look towards her and notwithstanding the veil, immediately recognized her. How I knew her I cannot say — for I do not know. Perhaps it was by her shape or something about her eyes and hair — or perhaps it was her voice as she talked to her kajira. Whatever it was I knew immediately it was Payton, the same woman I knew in Siba and in Nadira — and thought to find in Treve. So, with exuberance I stopped the bosk and called out her name.
To say her reaction was unexpected would be an understatement. Indeed, at first there was no reaction, and I was sure I had erred in my identification. Since it might be she had not heard me, I called again. This time she gave some part of her attention to me — it is hard to ignore a large caravan pulled by a large bosk however one haughty one might be. Ultimately, and it almost seemed to me that within her a battle raged as to how she should react, she admitted, almost begrudgingly, both her name and that she knew me and, finally, that whatever memories of me she had fell to the positive rather than the negative side of the balance sheet. But I cannot say there was much emotion in her voice and manner for she remained aloof as if my presence was something of a nuisance to her affairs. Regardless, I made the appropriate introductions between her and Tanz and eventually she, joined by Tanz, made their way to the inn for a drink while I secured the caravan and found a place for Fredda to graze.
When, after leaving Fredda, I reached them in the tavern it seemed to some extent Payton, or Lady Payton I should say, had become more agreeable. Though to say she was the Payton of old would be to say a shadow has a personality. To be sure I think she thought me, come from the trail and dusty, something of a vagabond. And, equally, I am sure she could not understand the reason for our travels — or that, for this journey’s leg, I had sought her out. She insisted upon paying for our stay in the inn, ignoring my protests. In fact, the only thing that seemed to brighten her features (since she was veiled perhaps only so I thought) was when she realized that Tanz and I were bonded by manner and not by contract nor of collar. After all, Payton had known of Eesha and me. But, just when I sensed the ice might soon be broken, Payton, claiming other matters were calling her away, left us and, left me to wonder at the chasm that yet remained. Tanz could tell from face my bewildrment and disappointment of the situation and, unprompted, insisted that Payton had acted in the way a civilized free woman is expected to conduct herself.
The situation was far different the next day when we chanced upon the other person I had hoped to see — a darling kajira known as rose. We were outside the village walls checking on Fredda. A tarn landed and there as if from heaven rose disembarked from a passenger bag beneath it. Almost immediately rose saw me and, at once, expressed much joy and love towards me — far more than her station as a slave requires. And I expressed in return much pleasure in seeing her. Her manner little different than the past and though much time had passed it seemed like I had last seen her only yesterday. As with Payton, rose I knew in Siba and in Nadira. And, as I introduced her to Tanz and Tanz to her and we spoke a bit before her duties called her away from us a thought quite obvious to some but not until then to me appeared. For the moment, I profess, I did not consider nor ask the wheres or whys of her arrival by tarn.
Two women — Lady Payton and rose. Payton, free, encumbered not just by her clothes and veil, but utterly restrained, her personality leashed, her emotions collared, the very essence of her soul controlled by society’s expectations. While, rose, the so-called slave, was uninhibited by all such burdens and requirements. She could display her charms and enjoy her very being. I began to wonder, under such circumstances, who is the captive and who the one released from captivity.
* * * *
A point to note. On our first night Tanz was called to minister medical aid and we took a ship along the Vosk. On the way back, I had the idea to have the Serendipty towed to Minus from Siba so we now have our vessel back. I cannot wait to give the ship a sail.
* * * *
Several times I have referred to Treve. There is more I need to write about it, but it will not been in this journal entry. Before I move in that direction, I think it best to consider the limits of what I know or think I know before I write it down. Besides I grow fatigued. But before I retire I must make some note of what I would call the incident of the bosk and the ravenous females. Unfortunately, the only one’s name I caught during the event was that of “Mona.” (I later heard that the others were named Wanita and Heaven, and that a fourth one named Asea joined them.)
As soon as rose left outside the village walls, several women in weary clothes began to approach Fredda, their eyes looking with what I mistook as admiration for our good-natured beast. As they neared, these women, at first three in number, began to talk of desires more murderous than pleasant. They talked of killing Fredda and butchering her for food. I warned them off but they approached unheeding my demands or claims of ownership. Tanz added her voice to our protests, but still they came, focused solely on the beast and the desire to carve her up. Their eyes seemed to glow red with bloodthirsty desire and they moved as if risen from the dead. I could have drawn my sword, but foolish me continued to think they would listen to reason and certainly not disobey my commands to stop their advance. Besides, I knew them not and I, not they, was the visitor to Minus and knew little of the laws and customs there. As those who read my journals know, Fredda had survived the interest of a kurii already, by my bargain. These women, I feared, would be more formidable than a mere kur.
As it would have it, Fredda seemed well able to take care of herself. Distracted by two of the women, the third approached the bosk with evil intent on her far side. Fredda turned her head and the woman, dodging the blow, nevertheless slipped on the ground. I offered her my hand to help her rise and implored her to keep her distance. These women three were joined by fourth also seemingly desirous of Fredda’s loins.
In the end, I managed to salvaged Fredda’s life and perhaps theirs as well by spending coin to bribe them off — almost as much as it might cost to buy a bosk.
To think of Fredda as I, and I think Tanz does, is foolishness. While true we could have engaged another beast and with our boat now docked in Minus I probably was making more of this than needed to be made. But I, and I believe I speak for Tanz, have grown quite attached to the bosk in our travels.