There is perhaps no more
pragmatic Gorean on the face of the most matter-of-fact planet in
the known universe than Harold the Tuchuk.
We find within Harold the
eagerness and brashness of youth combined with the guile and experience
of a seasoned Tuchuk warrior. Tall and muscular, this blondish-haired
young Tuchuk with the piercing blue eyes is one of the more memorable
personalities among Mr. Norman’s alter egos.
Harold is found in dire straits
when we initially encounter this ever-practical Gorean. He lives
as he can amidst the Wagon People, for he is not considered by the
Tuchuks to be one of their own. Fortunately for Harold, an aged
Yearkeeper remembers his family’s name, and he is permitted
to live among the wagons. This allowance on the part of the Tuchuks
is a fortuitous turn of fate for Harold, as it is well known that
the Wagon People tend to slay strangers. He does what he can to
survive by helping to tend the bosk in exchange for a bit of meat,
for without the courage scar, the mark of a Tuchuk warrior, he can
own nothing. In the culture of the Wagon Peoples, it is impossible
to become a warrior without the red pigment of the dual chevrons
on each cheek, and so, before a warrior wears the courage scar he
…He was called Harold,
which is not a Tuchuk name, nor a name used among the Wagon Peoples,
though it is similar to some of the Kassar names. It was an English
name, but such are not unknown on Gor, having been passed down,
perhaps, for more than a thousand years, the name of an ancestor,
perhaps brought to Gor by Priest-Kings in what might have been the
early Middle Ages of Earth. I knew the Voyages of Acquisition were
of even much greater antiquity. I had determined, of course, to
my satisfaction, having spoken with him once, that the boy, or young
man, was indeed Gorean; his people and their people before them
and as far back as anyone knew had been, as it is said, of the Wagons.
The problem of the young man, and perhaps the reason that he had
not yet won even the Courage Scar of the Tuchuks, was that he had
fallen into the hands of Turian raiders in his youth and had spent
several years in the city; in his adolescence he had, at great risk
to himself, escaped from the city and made his way with great hardships
across the plains to rejoin his people; they, of course, to his
great disappointment, had not accepted him, regarding him as more
Turian than Tuchuk. His parents and people had been slain in the
Turian raid in which he had been captured, so he had no kin. There
had been, fortunately for him, a Year Keeper who had recalled the
family. Thus he had not been slain but had been allowed to remain
with the Tuchuks. He did not have his own wagon or his own bosk.
He did not even own a kaiila. He had armed himself with castoff
weapons, with which he practiced in solitude. None of those, however,
who led raids on enemy caravans or sorties against the city and
its outlying fields, or retaliated upon their neighbors in the delicate
matters of bosk stealing, would accept him in their parties. He
had, to their satisfaction, demonstrated his prowess with weapons,
but they would laugh at him. “You do not even own a kaiila,”
they would say. “You do not even wear the Courage Scar.”
I supposed that the young man would never be likely to wear the
scar, without which, among the stern, cruel Tuchuks, he would be
the continuous object of scorn, ridicule and contempt. Indeed, I
knew that some among the wagons, the girl Hereena, for example,
who seemed to bear him a great dislike, had insisted that he, though
free, be forced to wear the Kes or the dress of a woman. Such would
have been a great joke among the Tuchuks.
---Nomads of Gor, 8:67-68
Harold falls to Turian raiders
when he is but six years old and is taken as a slave to Turia and
made to work in the public baths. Put to work cleaning the pools,
it is there, as probably the only one of the Tuchuks, that he learns
to swim. When the cleaning is done the slaves are fastened together
with rope, as the humidity and water within the baths will cause
damage to the chains usually used to secure a work chain of slaves.
Harold chews through the rope after finding himself the last slave
on the chain and escapes. He hides in what we come to know is the
passage well of Turia. Harold comes across a break in the tiles
of the well’s side and discovers that the well is fed by an
underground stream through which he swims to his freedom.
Life among the Wagon Peoples
is hard for Harold as he arms himself with castoff weapons and teaches
himself their use, for no warrior will teach him. Even though he
is eventually judged competent with the weapons, no commander will
accept him as part of any raiding party without the courage scar.
There are, however, those among the wagons who know that within
this brash young man resides a true Tuchuk warrior, one deserving
of the chance to prove himself worthy of the courage scar.
Following the death of Kutaituchik,
Kamchak knows that Tarl Cabot will go to Turia to look for the purloined
egg of the Priest Kings, and speaks with the young Tuchuk warrior
before Tarl goes in search of Harold. Tarl finds Harold eating a
piece of bosk meat, and explains that he is going to Turia to look
for the egg of the Priest Kings. Harold in typical fashion offers
to accompany Cabot to Turia, claiming that he intends to try chain
luck in the pleasure gardens of Saphrar, Merchant of Turia, also
the man responsible for the theft of the egg. Cabot asks Harold
why he has not already made his journey to Turia if all he seeks
is a slave girl. Harold informs Cabot that Kamchak had asked him
to wait on Cabot.
“You will be slain
in Turia,” said Harold, finishing his meat and wiping his
mouth in Tuchuk fashion on the back of his right sleeve.
“You do not even know
how to enter the city,” he said.
“That is true,”
“I can enter Turia
when I wish,” he said. “I know a way.”
suggested, “I might accompany you.”
granted, carefully wiping the quiva on the back of his left sleeve.
“When are you going
to Turia?” I asked.
I looked at him. “Why
have you not gone before?” I asked.
He smiled. “Kamchak,”
he said, “told me to wait for you.”
---Nomads of Gor, 15:187
It is during the dynamic
duo’s journey into Turia that we truly see the intrepid Tuchuk’s
personality manifest itself.
Tarl and Harold follows Harold’s
original escape path in reverse to enter Turia. Swimming against
the current they find themselves at the bottom of the passage well
and as they exit the well, they are captured by Turian soldiers.
Taken before Saphrar, they are sentenced to death in the yellow
pool of Turia, a living being whose body is a gelatinous liquid
that solidifies around its captives and dissolves their bodies.
Tarl and Harold escape the pool and fight their way out of the House
of Saphrar. Our redoubtable Tuchuk surprises Tarl by informing him
that he must visit the pleasure gardens to capture a slave girl
before they left Turia.
His cavalier attitude as
to his plans to get out of Turia cause Cabot to wonder seriously
if there is an idiocy scar among the Wagon Peoples for Harold has
not, upon entering Turia, formed his plan for escape. His solution
to the problem of exiting Turia causes Cabot to speculate that the
young man has completely taken leave of his senses, for he decides
that they will steal tarns, the fierce saddle birds of Gor. Cabot,
being a tarnsman, knows full well that riding a tarn is not something
that just anyone can do for it is said that the tarn knows who is
a tarnsman and will kill those who are not.
Harold’s cunning is
in evidence again when he confronts the slave he intends to steal
from Saphrar’s pleasure gardens. The slave, it might be mentioned,
is the girl Hareena, raised by the Tuchuks to stand as a fitting
prize in the games of love/war between the Wagon Peoples and Turia.
She had tormented Harold before being won by a warrior of Turia
and taken to the pleasure gardens. His plan to thwart her from giving
them away shows the simple yet effective way this young Tuchuk operates.
The girl Hareena, not wishing
to become Harold’s slave, informs him she will simply scream
to summon the guards. With a smile, Harold tells her to put her
plan into action. As soon as the girl lifts her head and opens her
mouth to scream, Harold pushes one of three scarves he has brought
deep within her mouth. Before the bewildered girl can understand
what has happened, he has her bound hand and foot with the remaining
scarves. Tossing her over his shoulder, he informs her that his
counter plan is obviously superior to hers.
Harold’s bravery and
courage manifest themselves when he and Tarl achieve the tarn roost
at the top of the tower and Harold intimidates a tarn into allowing
him to ride, and especially when it seems that the Tuchuks have
turned the wagons away from the siege of Turia. Harold’s approach
to the gate, his wagon loaded down heavily with boulders, causes
the fall of Turia and wins for Harold the courage scar and the title
Commander of a Thousand--the highest honor among the warriors of
the Wagon Peoples and just under that of Ubar.
His bravery and courage are
never more apparent than in the defending of the Tuchuk wagons against
the entire army of the Paravaci. He along with Tarl Cabot bring
from Turia a scant two thousand warriors and stand off the Paravaci
long enough for the Kataii and Kassars to come to the aid of the
At that moment there was
a long, wailing cry of horror from the wall above. “Tuchuks!”
The guards suddenly looked about themselves startled. Then two more
people on the wall took up the cry, pointing wildly out over the
wall. “Tuchuks! Close the gates!”
The officer looked up in
alarm, and then he cried out to the men on the windlass platform.
“Close the gates!”
“I think you will find,”
said Harold, “that my wagon is in the way.”
Suddenly understanding, the
officer cried out in rage and whipped his sword from his sheath
but before he could raise his arm the young man had leaped to him
and thrust a quiva into his heart. “My name,” he said,
“is Harold—of the Tuchuks!”
---Nomads of Gor, 21:244
A particularly apparent example
of Harold’s personality is the way he acts the buffoon from
the moment he and Tarl enter Turia until their departure. His seeming
to play the fool perhaps keeps Tarl from thinking about and realizing
that Harold is there to spy on Cabot for Kamchak. His apparent lack
of concern for the dangers they face well mask the true reason for
his accompanying Cabot, and in this trust of the brash young Tuchuk,
Kamchak shows his confidence in Harold’s abilities.
In the bold, flirtatious,
youthful, exuberant Tuchuk warrior we see the essence of those who
live upon the plains in the fierce wilds of the southern continent
of Gor. His bravery, courage, and the zest with which he assails
life show us a deep rich full character worthy of the courage scar
of the Wagon Peoples.