was not particularly surprised at finding a bit of rep-cloth
tied on the rence plant, for the delta is inhabited. Man
has not surrendered it entirely to the tharlarion, the UI
and the salt leach. There are scattered, almost invisible,
furtive communites of rence growers who eke out their livelihood
in the delta, nominally under the surzerainty of Port Kar.
The cloth I found had probably been a trail mark for some
---Raiders of Gor, p 6
in the marshes of the Vosk's Delta, hidden by the designs
and trappings of vines and the predators that fill its waters,
thrives a community of what the rest of Gor sometimes refers
to as the 'Highest of Peasants'; Rencers, their lives intricately
woven to the rushes they harvest and rely on for survival.
live on islands built of the same plant they use for most
everything, giant boat houses made in intertwined plants
and trees. Their land and homes are set deep into the intricate
marshes that snake for pasangs through the Vosk's delta.
one had been found who would guide me into the delta of
the Vosk. The bargemen of the Vosk will not take their wide,
broad-bottomed craft into the delta. The channels of the
Vosk, to be sure, shift from season to season, and the delta
is often little more than a trackless marsh, literally hundreds
of square pasangs of estuarial wilderness. In many places
it is too shallow to float even the great flat-bottomed
barges and, more importantly, a path for them would have
to be cut and chopped, foot by foot, through the thickets
of rush and sedge, and the tangles of marsh vine.
most important reason for not finding a p guide, of course,
even among the eastern rence growers, is that the delta
is claimed by Port Kar, which lies within it, some hundred
pasangs from its northwestern edge, bordering on the shallow
Tamber Gulf, beyond wich is gleaming Thassa, the Sea.
---Raiders of Gor, p 5-6
Their trade is paper
the make from the rence, a plant of a million purposes that
grows in the marshes.
The plant has many uses besides serving as a raw product
in the manufacture of rence paper. The root, which is woody
and heavy, is used for certain wooden tools and utensils,
which can be carved from it; also, when dried, it makes
a good fuel; from the stem the rence growers can make reed
boats, sails, mats, cords and the kind of fibrous cloth;
further, its pith is edible, and for the rence growers is,
with fish, a staple in their diet; the pith is edible both
raw and cooked; some men, lost in the delta, not knowing
the pith edible, have died of starvation the the midst of
what was, had they known it, an almost endless abundance
of food. The pith is also used, upon occasion, as a caulking
for boat seams, but tow and pitch, covered with tar or grease,
are generally used.
---Raiders of Gor, pp 6-7
A kind of paper is made from rence. The plant itself has
a long, thick root, about four inches thick, which lies
horizontally under the surface of the water; small roots
sink downward into the mud from this main root, and several
"stems," as many as a dozen, rise from it, often
of the length of fifteen to sixteen feet from the root;
it has an excrescent, usually single floral spike.
Rence paper is made by slicing the stem into thin, narrow
strips; those near the center of the plant are particularyly
favored; one layer of strips is placed longitudinally, and
then a shorter layer is placed latitudinally across the
first layer; these two surfaces are then soaked under water,
which releases a gluelike substance from the fibers, melding
the two surfaces into a single, rectangular sheet; these
formed sheets are then hammered and dried in the sun; roughness
in removed by polishing, usually with a smooth shell or
a bit of kailiauk horn; the side of a tharlarion tooth may
also be used in this work/ The paper is then attacked, sheet
to sheet, to form rolls, usually about twenty sheets to
a roll. The best paper is on the outside of the roll, always,
not to practice deceit in the quality of the roll but rather
to have the most durable paper on the outside, which will
take the most weathering, handling and genteral wear/ Rence
paper comes in various grades, about eight in all. The rence
growers market their product either at the eastern or western
end of the delta. Sometimes rence merchants, on narrow marsh
craft rowed by slaves, enter some pasangs into the delta
to negotiate the transactions, usually from the western
edge, that bordering the Tamber Gulf. Rence paper is, incidentally,
not the only type of writing material used on Gor. A milled
linen paper is much used, large quantities of which are
produced in Ar, and vellum and parchment, prepared in many
cities, are also popular.
---Raiders of Gor, pp 6-7
the reader first encounters the Rencers, it is, for the
purposes of consolidating the normal chaos of Gorean chronology,
the year 10,119 Contasta Ar, that is, from the founding
of Ar. At this time the marshes are still under the power
and much at the mercy of Port Kar.
rence growers, in spite of the value of their product, and
the value of the articles taken in exchange for it, and
teh protection of the marshes, and the rence and fish which
give them ample substenance, do not have an easy life. Not
only must they fear the march sharks and the carnivorous
eels which frequent the lower delta, not to mention the
various species of aggressive water tharlarion and the winged,
monstrous, hissing, predatory UI, but they must fear, perhaps
most of all, men, and of these, most of all, the men of
As I have mentioned, Port Kar claims the suzerainty of the
delta. Accordingly, frequently, bands of armed men, maintaining
allegiance to on or the other of the warring, rival Ubars
of Port Kar, enter the delta to , as they say, collect tazes.
The tributes exacted, when the small communities can be
found, are customarily harsh, often whatever of value can
be found; typically what is demanded is great stocks of
rence paper for trade, sons for oarsmen in cargo galleys,
daughters for Pleasure Slaves in the taverns of the city.
---Raiders of Gor, pp 6-7
as we first encounter them then, lead mostly an isolated
life, their contact with others of Gor, highly limited to
the taking of wandering souls such as was Tarl Cabot among
them. Their world much revolving around the marshes and
what it allows them in terms of weapons, food and even cultural
rituals. Hunting and fighting was done with marsh spears
and throwing sticks, slave girls were unseen, free women
worked and lived alongside men, wild marsh gants were domesticated
to complete a diet of fish and rence paste, and trade, had
more to do with en enslavement of sorts, by those of Port
Kar, than it did an independant act.
there was a great cry from all sides, and, breaking through
the rushes and sedge, dozens of rence craft, bound with
marsh vine, thrust into view, each poled by one man, with
another in the prow, a two- or three-pronged marsh spear
uplifted. It was pointless to unsheath my sword, or to take
up a weapon. From the safety of the yards of marsh water
separating me from my enemies I could have been immediately
slain, lost in a thicket of the two- or three-pronged marsh
---Raiders of Gor, p 11
heard some domestic marsh gants making their piping call.
The wandered freely on the island, leaving it to feed, then
returning later. Wild marsh gants, captured, even as young
as gantlings, cannot be domesticated; on the other had,
eggs, at the hatching point, gathered from floating gant
nests, are sometimes brought to the island; the hatchlings,
interestingly, if not permitted to see an adult gant for
the first week of their life, then adopt the rence island
as their home, and show no fear of human beings; they will
come and go in the wild as they please, feeding and flying,
but will always, and frequently, return to the rence island,
their hatching place; if the rence island, however, should
be destroyed, they revert entirely to the wild; in the domesticated
state, it will invariably permit themselves to be picked
up and handled.
---Raiders of Gor, pp 15-16
to all things from the outside was a fierce one, rencers
being by nature, proud and highly suspicious of outsiders.
of the men of the rencers, with their small shields or rence
wicker, fought, but their marsh spears were not match for
the stell swords and war spears of Gor. When they offered
resistance they were cut down.
---Raiders of Gor, p 51
looked at the man who wore the headband of pearls of the
"With such a bow," he said to that man, "we
might live free in the marsh, free of Port Kar."
"It is a weapon of peasants," said the man with
the headband, he who had been unable to bend the bow.
"So?" asked Ho-Hak.
"I," said the man, "am of the Growers of
Rence. I, for one, am not a Peasant."
"Nor am I!" cried the girl.
The others, too, cried their assent.
"Besides," said another man, "we do not have
metal for the heads of arrows, nor arrowwood, and Ka-la-na
does not grow in the marsh. And we do not have cords of
strength enough to draw such bows."
"And we do not have leather," added another.
"We could kill tharlarion," said Ho-Hak, "and
obtain leather. And perhaps the teeth of the marsh shark
might be fashioned in such a way as to tip arrows."
"There is no Ka-la-na, no cord, no arrowwood,"
"We might trade for such things," said Ho-Hak.
"There are peasants who live along the edges of the
delta, particularly to the east."
The man with the headband, he who had not been able to bend
the bow, laughed. "You, Ho-Hak," said he, "were
not born to rence."
"No," said Ho-Hak. "That is true."
"But we were," said the man. "We are Growers
of the Rence."
There was a murmur of assent, grunts and shiftings in the
"We are not Peasants," said the man with the headband.
"We are Growers of the Rence!"
There was an angry cry of confirmation from the group, mutterings,
shots of agreement.
Ho-Hak once again sat down on the curved shell of the great
Vosk sorp, that shell that served him as a throne in this
domain, an island of rence in the delta of the Vosk.
---Raiders of Gor, p 20
end of Raiders, their reluctance to the use of the great
bow has been won over by the apeal of greater independance.
too, lifted my hand, acknowledging their salute. And I lifted
my hand, too, to Ho-Hak, the rencer. I saw how his men used
their bows. I had little doubt that having been taught the
might of the great bow in the marshes, when I had freed
them from the slavers in the barges, they had traded for
the weapons and now had made them their own, and proudly,
as much as the peasants. I did not think the rencers would
any longer be at the mercy of the men of Port Kar. Now,
with weapons and courage, perhaps for the first time, they
were truly free men, for they could now defend their freedoms,
and those who cannot do this are not truly free; at best
they are fortunate.
---Raiders of Gor, p 300
the foot of the keep we met Thurnock, Clitus and Ho-Hak.
We embraced. "You have learned the lesson of the great bow
well, I said to Ho-Hak. "You well taught it to us, Warrior,"
said Ho-Hak. Thurnock and Clitus, with Thura and Ufa, had
gone for aid to the rencers, traditionally enemies of those
of Port Kar. And the rencers, to my astonishment, had come
to risk their lives for me.
---Raiders of Gor, p 301
do not think it wise for Rencers," said Ho-Hak, "to be over
long in Port Kar. Under the cover of darkness we shall depart."
"My thanks to you and your people," said 1. "The rence islands,
now confederated," said Ho-Hak, are yours." "I thank you,"
I said, "Ho-Hak." "We can never repay you," he said, "for
having once saved many of us from those of Port Kar, and
for having taught us the lesson of the great bow."
---Raiders of Gor, p 301
only 8 books later, in the midst of the Ar vs Cos war, that
Tarl returns to the marshes. By then, the great bow of peasants,
has not ony been accepted among the marshes, but had become
a trademark of those who live there, allowing them to establish
an indeppendance from the tyranny of Port Kar and allow
them a status of trade.
the last few years, the use of the peasant bow, beginning
in the vicinity of the tidal marshes, had spread rapidly
eastward throughout the delta. The materials for the weapon
and its missiles, not native to the delta, are aquired through
trade. Long ago the rencers had learned its power. They
had never forgotten it. By means of it they had become formidable
foes. The combination of the delta, with its natural defenses,
and the peasant bow, made the rencers all but invulnerable.
---Vagabonds of Gor, pp 127-128
important element of change in the Delta over the years,
would be the status of women. It is said in the first encounter
with Rencers, that their women somehow escaped the Gorean
basic philosophy of male domination, at least in apearance.
women of rence growers, when in their own marshes, do no
veil themselves, as is common among Gorean women, particularly
of the cities. Moreover, they are quite capable of cutting
rence, preparing it, hunting for their own food and, on
the whole, of existing, if they wish it, by themselves.
There are few tasks of the rence communities which they
cannot perform as well as men. Their intelligence, and the
work of their hands, is needed by the small communities.
Accordingly they suffer little inhibitiion in the matters
of speaking out and expressing themselves.
---Raiders of Gor, pp 17-18
passages of Vagabonds of Gor, confirm that slave girls were
not present in the Delta. This of course makes much sense.
At the time of Tarl Cabot's first stay in the land of Rencers,
we are looking at a community that is isolated from all
other Gorean cultures and has little to no contact with
the rest of Gor. How then, would rencers aquire slave girls?
We do see that they make Tarl slave, at his own request,
to escape the death habitually reserved to those who wander
passed the blood mark.
now noted another bit of white re-cloth tied on the rence
stem, larger than the first. I assumed it was another trail
mark. I continued on. The calls of marsh gants, a kind of
piping whistle, seemed more frequent now, and somewhat closer.
I looked behind me, and to the sides. Yet, not surprisingly,
because of the rence, the rushes and sedge, I could not
see the birds.
I stopped short, for tied to a rence plant before me now
was a sheaf of red cloth.
I then knew that the two pieces of cloth I had encountered
earlier had not been simple trail marks but boundary signs,
warnings. I had come into an area of the delta wehre I was
not welcome, into a territory that must be claimed by some
small community, doubless of rence growers.
---Raiders of Gor, p 8
told however, that visitors are usually simply killed.
I asked, "what is to be my fate?"
"We did not ask you here," said Ho-Hak. "We
did not invite you to cross the line of the blood mark."
"Return to me my belongings," I said, "and
I shall be on my way and trouble you no longer."
The girl beside me laughed, and so, too, did the man with
the headband, he who had not been able to bend the bow.
Several of the others laughed as well.
"Of custom," said Ho-Hak, "we give those
we capture who are of Port Kar a choice."
"What is the choice?" I asked.
"You will be thrown bound to the marsh tharlarion,
of course," said Ho-Hak.
"The choice," said Ho'Hak, "is simple."
He regarded me. "Either you will be thrown alive to
the march tharlarion or, if you wish, we will kill you first."
I struggled wildly against the marsh vine, futilely. The
rence growers, without emotion, watched me. I fought the
vine for perhaps a full Ehn. Then I stopped. The vine was
tight. I knew I had been perfectly secured. I was theirs.
The girl beside me laughed, as did the man with the headband,
and certain of the others.
"There is never any trace of the body," said Ho-Hak.
I looked at him.
"Never," he said.
---Raiders of Gor, p 21
Rencers have contact with the outside world only through
those who wander into their territory by accident, it would
make sense that they would be unfamiliar with slave girls.
Indeed it would be unlikely for a branded girl or a free
woman to go off on a boat ride by herself and get lost.
Free women, on Gor, dd not travel alone. Slaves on Gor,
did not take vacation. Runaway slaves, such as were Ho-Hak
and Telima, may be taken in by the Rencers and become one
of them, by the simple fact that they shared with them the
hate of Port Kar.
seem that Rencers cared little about what status one had
before they came to the marshes, especially if this status
was one recognized by Port Kar. Invariably then, it is likely
that one who was a slave in Port Kar would be given favorable
prejudice, and one of high status in Port Kar, thrown to
the marsh sharks.
sat upon a giant shell of the Vosk sorp, as on a sort of
throne, which, for these people, I gather it was... There
was a rusted, heavy iron collar riveted about the neck of
Ho-Hak, with a bit of chain dangling from it. I gathered
that the rence growers did not have the tools to remove
it. Ho-Hak might have worn it for years. He was doubtless
a slave, probably escaped from the galleys of Port Kar,
who had fled to the marshes and been befriended by rence
growers. Now, years later, he had come to a position of
authority among them.
---Raiders of Gor, pp 13-14
time Tarl Cabot returns to the marsh, it seems the treatment
of women has begun to change albeit not evenly, not only
with the discovery and aquisition of slave girls, but also,
in the role of the free women of Rencers.
had not known, incidentally, that the rencers now made use
of slave hoods. They perhaps obtained them through trade,
as well as additionnal women. Many things had changed since
I had been in the marsh, long ago. Some rencers even charged
tolls to freight moving through the marsh. Also, it was
not always easy to transport female slaves through the marsh
now. Rencers had apparently discovered their delights.
---Vagabonds of Gor, p. 243
have seen slaves", he said.
"There are slaves in your village?" I asked.
"No", he said, "but I was once taken to Ven
by my father. There I saw slaves."...
are some slaves in the Delta", he said, "here
and there, but I have not seen them".
"Your mother would not approve?" I asked.
"No", he said.
"Perhaps there are some in the village of Tanrum?"
"The women there", he said, "are all kept
slaves. It was done to them two years ago."...
need more such as she, only true slaves, in the delta,"
are you thinking of?" I asked. "Nothing,"
he said. "Do you care to speak of it?" I asked.
"I was thinking of my father and mother," he said.
"Oh?" I said.
"And how my father is held in, inhibited and frustrated,
by my mother."...
are thinking," I said, "of how she would look
at your father's feet, branded and in a collar."
"I love her very much," he said, "but it
is where she belongs."
"I have no doubt about it," I said.
"Perhaps I shall speak to my father," he said.
"The decision, of course, is his." I said.
"If women were there," I said, it would certainly
be easier for their sons to become men."
"True." he said.
in Tharna, of course, are kept as slaves. Indeed, they are
not merely kept as slaves; they are slaves.
---Vagabonds of Gor, p 355
comment that pertains to Tharna at the end of this quote,
is of interest because it seems to indicate that societies
where a form of equality has existed, turn to the Gorean
mindset of male domination with almost a vengeance. The
words of the young Rencer about the rence island of Tanrum
and the condition of the women there, oddly ressembles the
total turn about of Tharna, post Silver mask rule.
complete reversal of status is at odds with the well known
fierceness of Goreans to defend their own women. You will
seldom find in your readings, situations where men enslave
women of their own home/City/Culture. As a rule, it is the
women of the ennemy who are enslaved, it is women of other
areas and Cities who will serve them. But as the Rence changes
and wakes to the principles known to Goreans as 'the order
of things', they, like Tharna, as if waking from a long
sleep, seem intent on ensuring the past will never be repeated,
literally removing free women from their reality by enslaving
in the Delta
the stem of the girl's rence craft, she poling the craft
from the stern, I knelt, cutting rence. It was late in the
year to cut rence but some quantities of the rence are cut
during the fall and winter and stored on covered rence rafts
until spring. These stores of rence are not used for adding
in the making of rence paper, but in the weaving of mats,
for adding to the surface of the island, and for the pith,
used as a food.
"Cut there," said the girl, moving the rush craft
into a thicket of rence.
One holds the stem of the plant in the left hand and, with
the right, with a small, curved, two-inch knife makes a
diagonal upward stroke.
We were towing a small rence raft and there was already
much rence upon it.
We had been cutting since before dawn. It was now late in
I cut again, dropping the tufted, flowered head of the rence
stem in the water, and then I tossed the stem onto the raft
of rence, with the piles of others.
---Raiders of Gor, p 26
paper is the item of trade Rencers bring to the Gorean world,
the rence plant to them, is much more.
what their land is built of literally. What the Rencers
call island, is in fact what might be best described as
a huge pontoon of woven plants. These Islands, movable in
defense situations albeit not easily hidden.
rence islands, on which the communites of rence growers
dwell, are rather small, seldom more than two hundred and
fifty feet. They are formed entirely from the interwoven
stems of the rence plants and float in the marsh. They are
generally about eight to nine feet thick and have an exposed
surface above the water of about three feet; as the rence
stems break and rot away beneath the island, more layers
are woven and placed on the surface. Thus, over a period
of months, a given layer of rence, after being the top layer,
will gradually be submerged and forced dower and lower until
it, at last, is the deepest layer and, with its adjacent
layers, begins to deteriorate.
To prevent an unwanted movement of the island, there are
generally several tethers, of marsh vine, to strong rence
roots in the vicinity. It is dangerous ot neter the water
to make a tether fast becasue of the predators that frequent
the swamp, but several men do so at a time, once man making
fast the tether and the others, with him beneath the surface,
protecting him with marsh spears, or pounding on metal pieces
or wooden rods to drive away, or at least to disconcert
and confuse, too inquisitive, undesired visitors, such as
the water tharlarion or the long-bodied, nine-gilled marsh
When one wishes to move the island the tethers are simply
chopped away, and the community divides itself into those
who will handle the long poles and those who will move haead
in rence craft, cutting and clearing the way. Most of those
who handle the poles gather on the edges of the island,
but within the island there are four deep rectangular wells
through which the long poles may gain additional leverage.
These deep center wells, actually holes cut in the island,
permit its movement, though slowly when used alone, without
exposing any of its inhabitants at its edges, where they
might fall easier prey to the missile weapons of foes. In
times of emergency the inhabitants of the island gather
behind wickerlike breastworks, woven of rence, in the area
of the center wells; in such an emergency the low-ceilinged
rence huts on the island will have been knocked down to
prevent an enemy from using them for cover, and all food
and water supplies, usually brought from the eastern delta
where the water is fresh, will be stored within; the circular
wickerlike breastworks then form, in the center of the island,
a more or less defensible stronghold, particularly against
the marsh spears of other growers, and such.
it is not of much use against an organized attack of well
armed warriors, such as those of Port Kar, and those against
whom it might be fairly adequate, other rence growers, sledom
attack communites like their own. I had heard there had
not been general hostilities among rence growers for more
than fifty years; their communities are normally isolated
from one another, and they have enough to worry about contending
with "tax collectors" from Port Kar, without bothering
to give much attention to making life miserable form one
another. Incidentally, when the island is to be moved under
siege conditions, divers leave the island by means of the
well and, in groups of two and three, attemp to cut a path
in the direction of escape; such divers, of course, often
fall prey to underwater predators and to the spears of enemies,
who thrust down at them from the surface. Sometimes an entire
island is abandoned, the community setting it afire and
taking to the marsh in their marsh skiffs. At a given point,
when it is felt safe, several of these skiffs will be tied
together, forming a platform on which rence may be woven,
and a new island will be begun.
---Raiders of Gor, pp 12-13
what builds their dwellings:
followed me into the hut. It was eight feet long and five
feet wide. Its ceiling was continuous with its wall, and
in its curve, stood not more than four feet from the rence
surface of the island. The rence hut is commonly used for
little else than sleeping. She struck together, over a copper
bow, a bit of steel and flint, the sparks falling into some
dried petals of the rence. a small flame was kindled into
which she thrust a bit of rence stem, like a match. The
bit of stem took the fire and with it she lit a tiny lamp,
also sitting in a shallow copper bowl, which burned tharlarion
oil. She set the lamp to one side.
Her few belongings were in the tiny hut. There was a bundle
of clothing and a small box for odds and ends. There were
two throwing sticks near the wall, where her sleeping mat,
of woven rence, was rolled. There was another bowl and a
cup or two, and two or three gourds. Some utensils were
in the bowl, a wooden stirring stick and a wooden ladle,
both carved from rence root. The rence knife, with which
I had cut rence, she had left in the packet in her rence
craft. There were also, in one corner, some coils of marsh
---Raiders of Gor, p 32
what they feed on, what they feed in, what they feed with
and what they drink:
such times there is drinking of rence beer, steeped, boiled
and fremented from crushed seeds and the whitish pith of
the plant; singing; games; contests and courtship, for the
young people of the rence islands too seldom meet those
of the other communities.
---Raiders of Gor, pp 17
the past of rence!" cried the girl. "Unbind his
ankles. Take these ropes from his neck."
A woman left the group to bring some rence paste, and two
men removed the marsh vine from my neck and ankles. My wrists
were still bound behind my back.
In a moment the woman had returned with a double handful
of wet rence paste. When fried, on flat stones it makes
a kind of cake, sprinkled with rence seeds.
"Open you mouth, Slave," said the girl.
I did so and, to the amusement of those watching, she forced
the wet past into my mouth.
"Eat it," she said. "Swallow it."
Painfully, almost retching, I did so.
---Raiders of Gor, p 24
what they wear:
wore a brief, sleeveless garment of yellowish-brown rence
cloth; it was worn well away from both shoulders to permit
her freedom of movement; the brief skirt had been hitched
up about her thighs that it might in no way bind her in
her hunting. Her hair was tied behind her head with a strip
of purple cloth, dyed rep-cloth.
---Raiders of Gor, p 9
He wore a sleeveless tunic of rence cloth, like most of
the rence growers.
---Raiders of Gor, p 15
one point the girl stopped the craft, and the others did
too. She, and one or two of the others, then put back their
heads and uttered a kind of piping whistle, the call of
the marsh gant. This answered from various points about
us, most of which were several yards away. Soon other rence
craft, with their curved prows and sterns, had joined us.
The rence growers, I had learned, communicate by means of
such signals, disguised as the cries of marsh gants.
---Raiders of Gor, p 12
Festival and the
unusual dance of marsh free women
as I may have mentioned, these communities are isolated
from one another, but it was now near the Autumnal Equinox,
and the month of Se'Kara was shortly to begin.
rence growers, the first of Se'Kara, the date of the Autumnal
Equinox, is a time of festival. By that time most of the
year's rence will have been cut, and great stocks of rence
paper, gathered in rolls like cord wood and covered with
woven rence mats, will have been prepared. Between Se'Kara
and the winter solstice, which occurs on the first of Se'Var,
the rence will be sold or bartered, sometimes by taking
it to the edge of the delta, sometimes by being contacted
by rence merchants, who enter the delta in narrow barges,
rowed by slaves, in order to have first pick of the product.
first of Se'Var is also a date of festival, it might be
mentioned, but this time the festival is limited to individual,
isolated rence islands. With the year's rence sold, the
communities do not care to lie too closely to one another;
the primary reason is that, in doing so, they would present
too inviting a target for the "tax collectors" of Port Kar.
Indeed, I surmised, there was risk enough, and great risk,
coming together even in Se'Kara. The unsold stores of rence
paper on the islands at this time would, in themselves,
be a treasure, though, to be sure, a bulky one.
Raiders of Gor, p 16
is Festival," she said...
I had been aroused at dawn by Telima, and unbound, that
I might help in the preparations for festival.
In the early morning the other rence islands, four of them,
which had been tethered close by, were poled to the one
on which I was kept, and now, joined by flat rence rafts,
acting as bridges, they had been tied to one another, now
forming, for most practical purposes, a large single island.
I had been used in the fastening of the bridges, and in
the drawing up and tying of rence craft on the shore, as
other rencers, from distant islands, arrived for festival.
I had also been used to carry heavy kettled of rence beer
from the various islands to the place of feasting, as well
as strings of water gourds, poles of fish, plucked gants,
slaughtered tarks, and baskets of the pith of rence.
Then, about the eighth Gorean hour, Telima had ordered me
to the pole, where she bound me and placed on my head the
garland of rence flowers.
I had stood at the pole the long morning, subject to the
examination, the stares, and the blows and abuse of those
who passed by.
Around the tenth Gorean hour, the Gorean noon, the rencers
ate small rence cakes, dotted with seeds, drank water, and
nibbled on scraps of fish. The great feast would be in the
Around this time a small boy had come to stare at me, a
half-eaten rence cake in his hand.
"Are you hungry?" he had asked.
"Yes," I had told him.
He had held the rence cake up to me and I bit at it, eating
"Thank you," I had said to him.
But he had just stood there, staring up at me. Then his
mother ran to him and struck him across the side of the
head, scolding him, dragging him away.
The morning was spent variously by the rencers. The men
had sat in council with Ho-Hak, and tehre had been much
discussion, much argument, even shouting. The women who
had men were busied with the preparation of the feast. The
younger men and woman formed opposite lines, shouting and
jeering at one another delightedly. And sometimes one or
the other boy, or girl, would rush to the opposite line
to strike at someone, laughing, and run back to the other
line. Objects were thrown at the opposite line, as well
as jocose abuse. The smaller children played together, the
boys playing games with small nets and reed marsh spears,
the girls with rence dolls, or some of the older ones sporting
with throwing sticks, competing against one another.
It was now about the twelfth Gorean hour, well past noon.
I had been examined earlier by the girls who would compete
Ho-Hak, with Telima, had summoned them away for the contests.
Most of these took place in the marsh. From where I was
bound, over the low rence huts and between them, I could
see something of what went on. There was much laughter and
shouting, and cheering and crying out. There were races,
poling rence craft, and skill contests maneuvering the small
light craft, and contests with net and throwing stick. It
was indeed festival.
At last, after an Ahn or so, the group, the girls, the men
watching, the judges, turned their several rence craft toward
the island, beaching them and fastening them on the woven-mat
Then, the entire group came to my pole, with the exception
of Ho-Hak, who went rather to speak with some men carving
rence root and talking, on the other side of the island....
...Now go and help the women to prepare the feast -- Slave!"
I turned away, and, as they laughed, went to help the women
in their work, preparing food for festival.
It was now late on the night of festival, and most of the
feast had been consumed.
Torches, oiled coils of marsh vine wound about the prongs
of marsh spears, thrust butt down in the rence of the island,
burned in the marsh night.
The men sat cross-legged in the outer circles, and, in the
inner circles, in the fashion of Gorean women, the women
knelt. There were children about the periphery of the circles
but many of them were already asleep on the rence. There
had beeen much talking and singing. I gathered it was seldom
the rencers, save for those on a given island, met one another.
Festival was important to them.
Before the feast I had helped the women, cleaning the fish
and dressing marsh gants, and then, later, turning spits
for the roasted tarsks, roasted over rence-root fires kept
on metal pans, elevated about the rence of the island by
metal racks, themselves resting on larger pans...
...I had carried about bowls of cut, fried fish, and wooden
trays of roasted tarsk meat, and roasted gants, threaded
on sticks, and rence cakes and porridges, and gourd flagons,
many times replenished, of rence beer...
...Then, suddenly, the crowd stopped clapping and singing.
There was silence.
Then there came a drumming sound, growing louder and louder,
a man pounding on a hollowed drum of rence root with two
sticks, and then, as suddenly as the singing and clapping,
the drum, too, stopped.
And then to my astonishment the rence girls, squealing and
laughing, some protesting and being pushed and shoved, rose
to their feet and entered the clearing in the circle.
The young men shouted with pleasure.
One or two of the girls, giggling, tried to slip away, fleeing,
but young men, laughing, caught them, and hurled them into
the clearing of the circle.
The the rence girls, vital, eyes shining, breathing deeply,
barefoot, bare-armed, many with beads worn for festival,
and hammered copper bracelets and armlets, stood all within
The young men shouted and clapped their hands.
I saw that more than one fellow, handsome, strongfaced,
could not take his eyes from Telima.
She was, I noted, the only girl in the circle who wore an
armlet of gold.
She paid the young men, if she noticed them, no attention.
The rence communities tend to be isolated. Young people
seldom see one another, saving those from the same tiny
community. I remember the two lines, one of young men, the
other of girls, jeering and laughing, and crying out at
one another in the morning.
Then the man with the drum of hollow rence root began to
drum, and one fellow had bits of metal, strung in a circular
wire, and another a notched stick, played by scraping it
with a flat spoon of rence root.
It was Telima who began first to pound the woven rence mat
that was the surface of the island with her right heel,
lifting her hands, arms bent, over her head, her eyes closed.
Then the other girls, too, began to join her, and at last
even the shiest among them moved pounding, and stamping
and turning about the circle. The dances of rence girls
are, as far as I know, unique on Gor. There is some savagery
in them, but, too, they have sometimes, perhaps paradoxically,
stately aspects, stylized aspects, movements reminiscent
of casting nets or poling, of weaving rence or hunting gants.
But, as I watched, and the young men shouted, the dancers
became less stylized, and became more universal ot woman,
whether she be a drunken housewife in a suburb of a city
of Earth or a jeweled slave in Port Kar, dances that spoke
of them as women who want me, and will have them. To my
astonishment, as the dances continued, even the shiest of
the rence girls, those who had to have been forced to the
circle, even those who had tried to flee, began to writhe
in ecstasy, their hands lifted to the three moons of Gor.
It is often lonely on the rence islands, and festival comes
but once a year.
The bantering of the young people in the morning, and the
display of the girls in the evening, for in effect in the
movments of the dance every woman is nude, have both, I
expect, institutional roles to play in the life of the rence
growers, significant roles analogous to the roles of dating,
display and courtship in the more civilized environments
of my native world, Earth.
It marks the end of a childhood when a girl is first sent
to the circle.
Mostly these girls, saving for a moment or two to humiliate
me, danced their beauty for the young men of the cicles,
that they might be desired, that they might be much sought.
After a time I saw one girl leave the circles, her head
back, hair flowing down her back, breathing deeply, and
scarcely was she through the circles of rencers, but a young
man followed her, joining her some yards beyond the circle.
They stood facing one another in the darkness for an Ehn
or two, and then I saw him, gently, she not protesting,
drop his net over her, and then, by this net, she not protesting,
he led her away/ Together they disappeared in the darkness,
going over one of the raft bridges to another island, one
far from the firelight, the crowd, the noise, the dance.
Then, after some Ehn I saw another girl leave the circile
of the dance, and she, too, was joined beyond the firelight
by a young man and she, too, felt a net dropped over her,
and she, too, was led away, his willing prize, to secrecy
of his hut.
dance grew more frenzied.
girls whirled and writhed, and the crowd clapped and shouted,
and the music grew ever more wild, barbaric and fantastic.
---Raiders of Gor, pp39-47