With special thanks to Jim Cox
for his invaluable collaboration in the research and commentary
of this page.
are the Priest-Kings?" I asked.
father faced me, and he seemed troubled, as if he might
have said more than he intended. Neither of us spoke for
perhaps a minute.
said my father at last, "I must speak to you of Priest-Kings."
---Tarnsman of Gor, 2:28
speculation, however," said my father, "is that
the Priest-Kings are indeed men--men much as we, or humanoid
organisms of some type--who possess a science and technology
as far beyond our normal ken as that of our own twentieth
century would be to the alchemists and astrologers of the
---Tarnsman of Gor, 2:29
Thus are we introduced, via
Matthew Cabot's words to his son Tarl, to those who, we will learn
later, are responsible for moving Gor into the solar system, populating
it by importing men and other creatures to it and maintaining control
over its development by allowing certain areas and sciences to incredibly
advanced levels while very strictly limiting others.
father then explained to me something of the legends of
the Priest-Kings, and I gathered that they seemed to be
true to this degree at least--that the Priest-Kings could
destroy or control whatever they wished, that they were,
in effect, the divinities of this world. It was supposed
that they were aware of all that transpired on their planet,
but, if so, I was informed that they seemed, on the whole,
to take little note of it.
---Tarnsman of Gor, 2:30
We are told of Priest Kings
having knowledge of essentially all which happens on Gor although,
by Mathew Cabot's words, not actively interfering with the business
of Goreans. The exception to this 'letting live' attitude, according
to Cabot still, would be in the area of limiting technological advancement.
is at least one area, however," said my father, "in
which the Priest-Kings do take a most active interest in
this world, and that is the area of technology. They limit,
selectively, the technology available to us, the Men Below
the Mountains. For example, incredibly enough, weapon technology
is controlled to the point where the most powerful devices
of war are the crossbow and lance. Further, there is no
mechanized transportation or communication equipment or
detection devices such as the radar and sonar equipment
so much in evidence in the military establishments of your
the other hand," he said, "you will learn that
in lighting, shelter, agricultural techniques, and medicine,
for example, the Mortals, or the Men Below the Mountains,
are relatively advanced."...
---Tarnsman of Gor, 2:31
By the time Tarl
Cabot reaches the Sardar Mountains in his quest for the
truth about his vanished city of Ko-Ro-Ba, all he knows
of those who dwell within the Mountains, other than tales
and myths, is that they have the power to destroy entire
cities, the ability to strike down a man and bring death
as quickly as lightning flashes, and that none has ever
returned after entering the Sardar.
Priest-Kings," said my father, "maintain the Sacred
Place in the Sardar Mountains, a wild vastness into which
no man penetrates. The Sacred Place, to the minds of most
men here, is taboo, perilous. Surely none have returned
from those mountains."
---Tarnsman of Gor, 2:29-30
on Gor we destroy a city, selecting it by means of a random
selection device. This teaches the lower orders the might
of Priest-Kings and encourages them to keep our laws."
what if the city has done no wrong?" I asked.
much the better," said Misk, "for the Men below
the Mountains are then confused and fear us even more--but
the members of the Caste of Initiates, we have found, will
produce an explanation of why the city was destroyed. They
invent one and if it seems plausible they soon believe it.
For example, we allowed them to suppose that it was through
some fault of yours--disrespect for Priest-Kings as I recall--that
your city was destroyed."
of Gor, 16:123
came about late in the month of En'Kara in the year 10,117
from the founding of the city of Ar that I came to the Hall
of Priest-Kings in the Sardar Mountains on the planet Gor,
had arrived four days before on tarnback at the black palisade
that encircles the dreaded Sardar, those dark mountains,
crowned with ice, consecrated to the Priest-Kings, forbidden
to men, to mortals, to all creatures of flesh and blood.
tarn, my gigantic, hawklike mount, had been unsaddled and
freed, for it could not accompany me into the Sardar. Once
it had tried to carry me over the palisade into the mountains,
but never again would I have essayed that flight. It had
been caught in the shield of the Priest-Kings, invisible,
not to be evaded, undoubtedly a field of some sort, which
had so acted on the bird, perhaps affecting the mechanism
of the inner ear, that the creature had become incapable
of controlling itself and had fallen disoriented and confused
to the earth below. None of the animals of Gor, as far as
I knew, could enter the Sardar. Only men could enter, and
they did not return.
---Priest-Kings of Gor, 1:7
Protected by what Tarl Cabot
refers to as a shield, the Priest-Kings, a race of highly intelligent
insect-like creatures who communicate through scent rather than
spoken words, survey the world they chose for their race and the
selected few they imported to it over
years of carefully planned voyages of acquisition.
so I smelled the passageway and to my nostrils, vague but
undeniable, there came an odor that I had never before encountered.
It was, as far as I could tell at that time, a simple odor,
though later I would learn that it was the complex product
of odors yet more simple than itself. I find it impossible
to describe this odor, much as one might find it difficult
to describe the taste of a citrus fruit to one who had never
tasted it or anything much akin to it. It was however slightly
acrid, irritating to my nostrils. It reminded me vaguely
of the odor of an expended cartridge.
there was nothing now with me in the passage it had left
knew now that I had not been alone.
had caught the scent of a Priest-King.
---Priest-Kings of Gor, 7:56
The unlikely description
its way it was very beautiful, golden and tall, looming
over me, framed in that massive portal. It was not more
than a yard wide but its head nearly touched the top of
the portal and so I would judge that, standing as it did,
it must have been nearly eighteen feet high.
had six legs and a great head like a globe of gold with
eyes like vast luminous disks. Its two forelegs, poised
and alert, were lifted delicately in front of its body.
Its jaws opened and closed once. They moved laterally.
its head there extended two fragile, jointed appendages,
long and covered with short quivering strands of golden
hair. These two appendages, like eyes, swept the room once
and then seemed to focus on me.
curved toward me like delicate golden pincers and each of
the countless golden strands on those appendages straightened
and pointed toward me like a quivering golden needle.
---Priest-Kings of Gor, 9:75-76
The general appearance of
these creatures is most certainly a far cry from what is expected
from beings possessing such powers. Priest-Kings are described as
what might sound like a giant golden praying mantis. Six legged,
3 feet wide and standing 18 feet tall, Priest-Kings are described
as moving with the grace of stalking predators. It appears they
moved about on four legs, and used the two most forward legs or
appendages as we would arms.
all its size it moved with a delicate, predatory grace.
It was perhaps very light for its bulk, or very strong,
perhaps both. It moved with a certain deliberate, stalking
movement; its tread was regal and yet it seemed almost dainty,
almost fastidious; it was almost as if the creature did
not care to soil itself by contact with the floor of the
walked on four extremely long, slender, four-jointed stalks
that were its supporting legs, and carried its far more
muscular, four-jointed grasping legs, or appendages, extremely
high, almost level with its jaw, and in front of its body.
Each of these grasping appendages terminated in four much
smaller, delicate hooklike prehensile appendages, the tips
of which normally touched one another. I would learn later
that in the ball at the end of its forelegs from which the
smaller prehensile appendages extended, there was a curved,
bladed, hornlike structure that could spring forward; this
happens spontaneously when the leg's tip is inverted, a
motion which at once exposes the hornlike blade and withdraws
the four prehensile appendages into the protected area beneath
---Priest-Kings of Gor, 10:80-81
We are also told
in great detail about the way Priest-Kings communicate through
scent rather than spoken words. The sense of smell and the
interpretation of the chemical makings of various odors
is used by Priest-Kings much as we would use our eyes and
ears, to read other's thoughts and words. It is said the
eyes of Priest-Kings, disk-like, compound and many-faceted,
are more of a secondary sensor, used to complete information
gathered through scent, their primary sensor.
The organ used for
smelling consists of two golden-haired appendages which
protrude from the creature's globelike head, just slightly
above the eyes. These appendages did have as well the ability
to interpret the vibrations made by sound albeit in what
seemed to be a limited fashion.
Breathing is done
through four small tubular mouths on each side of the Priest-King's
was at this time that I first saw how Priest-Kings breathed,
probably because Sarm's respiratory movements were now more
pronounced than they had been hitherto. Muscular contractions
in the abdomen take place with the result that air is sucked
into the system through four small holes on each side of
the abdomen, the same holes serving also as exhalation vents.
Usually the breathing cycle, unless one is quite close and
listens carefully, cannot be heard, but in the present case
I could hear quite clearly from a distance of several feet
the quick intake of air through the eight tiny, tubular
mouths in Sarm's abdomen, and its almost immediate expellation
through the same apertures.
---Priest-Kings of Gor, 11:88-89
The cerebral system
of these creatures much differs from our own, in both anatomy
and physiology. Priest-Kings, we discover, have eight brains.
These brains are located in various areas of the Priest-King's
thorax and head, and referred to by them as 'the ganglionic
is a Priest-King," said Misk, "and has eight brains,
modifications of the ganglionic net, whereas a creature
such as yourself, limited by vertebrae, is likely to develop
only one brain."
---Priest-Kings of Gor, 15:120
moved his forelegs in a strange parallel pattern, touching
himself with each leg at three places on the thorax and
one behind the eyes. "Here," he said, "is
the true source of our power."
then realized that he had touched himself at the points
of entry taken by the wires which had been infixed in the
young Priest-King's body on the stone table in the secret
compartment below Misk's chamber. Sarm had pointed to his
---Priest-Kings of Gor, 18:145
The race of Priest-Kings
is oviparous, which simply means they are born from eggs.
Much like many other types of insects, the majority of those
eggs contain asexual specimens, and it is only a precious
few which are in fact male or female eggs. In fact, the
basis for a large part of the plot of the Chronicles of
the Counter-Earth is the survival, or more appropriately,
the renewal of The Nest by the finding of the only remaining
held the torch high and looked at the Priest-King, who was
rather small for a Priest-King, being only about twelve
most astonished me was that he had wings, long, slender,
beautiful, golden, translucent wings, folded against his
... I looked at the long, golden wings of the creature.
"Is it a mutation?" I asked.
course not," said Misk.
what is it?" I asked.
male," said Misk. He paused for a long time and the
antennae regarded the inert figure on the stone table. "It
is the first male born in the Nest in eight thousand years."
you a male?" I asked.
said Misk, "nor are the others."
you are female," I said.
said Misk, "in the Nest only the Mother is female."
surely," I said, "there must be other females."
said Misk, "an egg occurred which was female but these
were ordered destroyed by Sarm. I myself know of no female
egg in the Nest, and I know of only one which has occurred
in the last six thousand years."
long," I asked, "does a Priest-King live?"
ago," said Misk, "Priest-Kings discovered the
secrets of cell replacement without pattern deterioration,
and accordingly, unless we meet with injury or accident,
we will live until we are found by the Golden Beetle."
old are you?" I asked.
myself was hatched," said Misk, "before we brought
our world into your solar system." He looked down at
me. "That was more than two million years ago,"
---Priest-Kings of Gor, 15:117-118
We learn through Misk's accounting
of the current Nest situation, that the only living female Priest-King,
mother of all Priest-Kings in the Nest, is dying and that unless
another male and female are found, the Nest will cease to exist
and the race of Priest-Kings will become extinct as they succumb
to the pleasure of the Golden Beetle, the only apparent cause of
death of these creatures.
In a plot to remain in control
of the Nest, Sarm, the first born, destroyed all male eggs as they
were found. This of course, prevents the current mother's ability
to produce more eggs, and hence more Priest-Kings.
Thus was a male egg hidden
and hatched in a secret chamber where Misk and others who believe
another Nest must be soon founded can oversee its development. The
survival of this male specimen however, cannot in itself ensure
the survival of the species as the mother's failing health will
soon result in the absence of a mate and egg producer.
Mother was hatched and flew her Nuptial Flight long before
the discovery of the stabilization serums," said Misk.
"We have managed to retard her aging considerably but
eon by eon it has been apparent that our efforts have been
less and less successful, and now there are no more eggs."
don't understand," I said.
Mother is dying," said Misk.
of Gor, 16:130
The language of
happens through sound and what we would refer to as non-verbal
modes. Impatience, for example, is often indicated by a
tremor of the tactile hairs of the legs, somewhat seeming
as though the creature is anxious to go. The antennae of
Priest-Kings, for example, are the subject of much attention
and use. They move in the direction of the one being addressed
as well as survey the surroundings almost continuously.
Those antennae, incidentally, are subject to what seems
to be an inordinate amount of time spent grooming. Priest-Kings,
with their cleaning hooks, jaws and tongues, often groom
one another as well as themselves.
am told that the phonemes of the language of Priest-Kings
or, better, what in their language would correspond to phonemes
in ours, since their "phonemes" have to do with
scent and not sound, number seventy-three. Their number
is, of course, potentially infinite, as would be the number
of possible phonemes in English, but just as we take a subset
of sounds to be English sounds and form our utterances from
them, so they take a subset of odors as similarly basic
to their speech. The number of familiar, common English
phonemes, incidentally, is in the neighborhood of fifty.
morphemes of the language of Priest-Kings, those smallest
intelligible information bits, in particular, roots
and affixes, are, of course, like the morphemes of English,
extremely numerous. The normal morpheme, in their language
as in ours, consists of a sequence of phonemes. For
example, in English 'bit' is one morpheme but three
phonemes, as will appear clear if given some reflection.
Similarly in the language of the Priest-Kings, the seventy-three
"phonemes" or basic scents are used to form
the meaning units of the language, and a single morpheme
of Priest-Kings may consist of a complex set of odors.
I was told, incidentally, that the language of the Priest-Kings
does possess more morphemes than English but I do not know
if the report is truthful or not, for Priest-Kings tend
to be somewhat touchy on the matter of any comparisons,
particularly those to their disadvantage or putative disadvantage,
with organisms of what they regard as the lower orders.
On the other hand it may well be the case that, as a matter
of fact, the morpheme set of the language of Priest-Kings
is indeed larger than that of English. I simply do not know....
---Priest-Kings of Gor, 10:79-80
are the tunnels of the Priest-Kings," it said.
looked about me and found myself on a high, railed platform,
overlooking a vast circular artificial canyon, lined with
bridges and terraces. In the depths of this canyon and on
the terraces that mounted its sides were innumerable structures,
largely geometrical solids--cones, cylinders, lofty cubes,
domes, spheres and such--of various sizes, colors and illuminations,
many of which were windowed and possessed of numerous floors,
some of which even towered to the level of the platform
where I stood, some of which soared even higher into the
lofty reaches of the vast dome that arched over the canyon
like a stone sky.
stood on the platform, my hands clenched on the railing,
staggered by what I saw.
light of energy bulbs set in the walls and in the dome like
stars shed a brilliant light on the entire canyon.
said the Priest-King, still grooming the golden hairs of
his antennae, "is the vestibule of our dominion."
my position on the platform I could see numerous tunnels
at many levels leading out of the canyon, perhaps to other
such monstrous cavities, filled with more such structures.
wondered what would be the function of the structures, probably
barracks, factories, storehouses.
---Priest-Kings of Gor, 10:8-821
The Nest of Priest-Kings,
comprised of tunnels and chambers deep within the black mountains
known to Goreans as the Sardar, is home and kingdom to all that
are left of this once numerous race. Within the Nest can be found
chambers of various uses, holding cells for Muls, the slaves of
Priest-Kings, the tunnels where Matoks, species living in the Nest
but not of the Nest, roamed freely, the chambers of The Mother and
the area of the Nest where concepts as complex as gravity can be
controlled with precision beyond anything human can imagine.
did not object to the time I spent with Sarm, however, for
he taught me far more of the Nest in a much shorter time
than would have otherwise been possible. With him at my
side I had access to many areas which would otherwise have
been closed to a human.
of the latter was the power source of the Priest-Kings,
the great plant wherein the basic energy is generated for
their many works and machines.
this is spoken of as the Home Stone of all Gor," said
Sarm, as we walked the long, winding, iron spiral that clung
to the side of a vast, transparent blue dome. Within that
dome, burning and glowing, emitting a bluish, combustive
refulgence, was a huge, crystalline reticulated hemisphere.
At last we had reached the very apex of the great blue dome
and I could see the glowing, bluish, refulgent, reticulated
hemisphere far below me.
the bluish dome, in a greater concentric dome of stone,
I saw walkway upon walkway of paneling and instrumentation.
Here and there Priest-Kings moved lightly about, occasionally
noting the movements of scent-needles, sometimes delicately
adjusting a dial with the nimble, hooklike appendages at
the tips of their forelegs.
supposed the dome to be a reactor of some sort.
---Priest-Kings of Gor, 18:143-145
From this fortress,
the Holy Priests of Gor keep a watchful eye on their planet
and those who live on it.
It is believed by
most Goreans that the Priest Kings of Gor are aware of everything
that occurs upon the surface of the planet. This is but
yet another of the many misconceptions that humans have
of Priest Kings. The surveillance capabilities of the Priest
Kings is formidable to be sure but not all seeing, all knowing.
is said below the mountains that Priest-Kings know all that
occurs on Gor."
said Misk. "But perhaps I shall show you the Scanning
Room someday. We have four hundred Priest-Kings who operate
the scanners, and we are accordingly well informed. For
example, if there is a violation of our weapons laws we
usually, sooner or later, discover it and after determining
the coordinates put into effect the Flame Death Mechanism."
of Gor, 16:125
reason for observation within the atmosphere," said
Sarm, "is that it is simpler to get more definition
in the signal because of greater proximity to its source.
To get comparable definition in an extra-atmospheric surveillance
device would require more refined equipment."
---Priest-Kings of Gor, 17:135
Within the Nest, the scanning
room is a highly specialized room which would equate most closely
with Mission Control Center on Earth. There are over four hundred
Priest-Kings who monitor the system that gives them most of their
information about the goings on of the Men Below the Mountains.
Hundreds of scent screens line the chamber walls where the eyes
of the watchers survey all that happens upon the surface of Gor
as well as the area of space within the vicinity of the system of
The scanners of Priest-Kings
are actually a network of monitors upon the surface and small ships,
not satellites, invisibly orbiting Gor. The network is a two-fold
control system consisting of the ships in orbit and certain humans
whose eyes have been surgically altered to enable the Priest-Kings
to literally see through their eyes. The information gathered by
the implanted control webs is transmitted to the orbiting ships
and thence to the scent screens. The control webs also allow the
Priest-Kings to communicate through the 'implanted ones as well
as control their actions.
are seeing through the eyes of an Implanted One," said
antennae curled. "Yes," he said. "the pupils
of his eyes have been replaced with lenses and a control
net and transmitting device have been fused with his brain
tissue. He himself is now unconscious, for the control net
is activated. Later we will allow him to rest, and he will
see and hear and think again for himself."
---Priest-Kings of Gor, 17:136
The scanning room
is also the origination point of the flame death, that horrible
penalty the Priest-Kings exact for the breaking of their
relatively few simple rules. The projection apparati are
located in the surveillance crafts in fixed orbit in the
heavens above Gor. The entire system is synchronized with
each of the scanning devices, both implants and ships in
space, allowing the flame death to be deployed from any
of the observation cubes.
Priest-King monitoring the observation cube touched a knob
on his control panel.
my horrified eyes in the observation cube the man seemed
suddenly to vaporize in a sudden blasting flash of blue
fire. The man had disappeared. Another brief incandescent
flash destroyed the primitive tube he had carried. Then
once again, aside from the blackened grass and stone, the
scene was peaceful. A small, curious bird darted to the
top of the stone, and then hopped from it to the blackened
grass to hunt for grubs.
---Priest-Kings of Gor, 17:138-139
forward I saw, on the raised platform at this end of the
room, the Mother.
a moment I could not believe that it was real or alive.
was undoubtedly of the Priest-King kind, and it now was
unwinged, but the most incredible feature was the fantastic
extent of the abdomen. Its head was little larger than that
of an ordinary Priest-King, or its thorax, but its trunk
was conjoined to an abdomen which if swollen with eggs might
have been scarcely smaller than a city bus. But now this
monstrous abdomen, depleted and wrinkled, no longer possessing
whatever tensility it might once have had, lay collapsed
behind the creature like a flattened sack of brownly tarnished
golden ancient leather.
with the abdomen empty her legs could not support its weight
and she lay on the dais with her jointed legs folded beside
coloring was not that of the normal Priest-King but darker,
more brownish, and here and there black stains discolored
her thorax and abdomen.
antennae seemed unalert and lacked resilience. They lay
back over her head.
eyes seemed dull and brown.
wondered if she were blind.
was a most ancient creature on which I gazed, the Mother
of the Nest.
was hard to imagine her, uncounted generations ago, with
wings of gold in the open air, in the blue sky of Gor, glistening
and turning with her lover borne on the high, glorious,
swift winds of this distant, savage world. How golden she
would have been.
---Priest-Kings of Gor, 27:213
days gone by
are the three great holidays?" I asked.
Nest Feast Cycle," said Misk, "Tola, Tolam and
are these feasts?" I asked.
are the Anniversary of the Nuptial Flight," said Misk,
"the Feast of the Deposition of the First Egg and the
Celebration of the Hatching of the First Egg."
---Priest-Kings of Gor, 11:87
The Feast of Tola, as mentioned
above, is the holiday of Priest-Kings which celebrates the Anniversary
of the nuptial flight. On this day, Priest-Kings, adorned in ceremonial
garb, give Gur to the Mother in what appearss to be a gesture of bonding
Gur is a secretion milked
from a variety of herd arthropod, kept within the Nest for this
purpose, which is produced after ingestion and ripening in the social
stomachs of certain Priest-Kings for a number of days prior to the
feast. The arthropods feed from Sim plants and are literally milked
for Gur. The Gur then, retained by those Priest-Kings who are important
enough within the Nest to do so, is regurgitated into golden vessels
during the actual feast, and collected by Gur carriers, a form of
The culmination of
the Feast of Tola is the giving of Gur by the greatest of
the Priest-Kings, the First Five Born. This moment is known
as the March of the First Five Born, in which these five
march abreast to the Mother and give her Gur in inverse
order of their priority.
from a great golden bowl, about five feet deep and with
a diameter of perhaps twenty feet, setting on a heavy tripod,
he would take a bit of whitish liquid, undoubtedly Gur,
in his mouth.
took no more than a taste and the bowl, though the Feast
of Tola was well advanced, was still almost brimming. He
would then approach the Mother very slowly and lower his
head to hers. With great gentleness he would then touch
her head with his antennae. She would extend her head to
him and then with a delicacy hard to imagine in so large
a creature he would transfer a tiny drop of the precious
fluid from his mouth to hers. He would then back away and
return to his place where he would stand as immobile as
had given Gur to the Mother.
did not know at the time but Gur is a product originally
secreted by large, gray, domesticated, hemispheric arthropods
which are, in the morning, taken out to pasture where they
feed on special Sim plants, extensive, rambling, tangled
vine-like plants with huge, rolling leaves raised under
square energy lamps fixed in the ceilings of the broad pasture
chambers, and at night are returned to their stable cells
where they are milked by Muls. The special Gur used on the
Feast of Tola is, in the ancient fashion, kept for weeks
in the social stomachs of specially chosen Priest-Kings
to mellow and reach the exact flavor and consistency desired,
which Priest-Kings are then spoken of as retaining Gur.
watched as one Priest-King and then another approached the
Mother and repeated the Gur Ceremony.
---Priest-Kings of Gor, 27:214-215
Slaves of Priest-Kings
am Mul-Al-Ka," said one, "honored slave of the
am Mul-Ba-Ta," said the other, "honored slave
of the glorious Priest-Kings."
the Nest," said Misk, "the expression 'Mul' is
used to designate a human slave."
---Priest-Kings of Gor, 12:94
All humans living within
the Nest of Priest-Kings are slaves. For sanitary reasons, these
Muls are shaved and must submit themselves to a number of rituals
to ensure cleanliness, among them the requirement to shower 12 times
daily. Priest-Kings consider humans as an extremely dirty species,
carrier of organisms which are dangerous to their fragile nature.
Most of the slaves within
the Nest do not wear collars. As Misk explains, there is little
need for this token of bondage as all humans living within the Nest
are slaves. Chamber slaves such as Vika was, reserved to the service
of guests/prisoners, wear numbered collars. Muls within the Nest
are dressed in tunics of a purple plastic-like material. It is explained
to Tarl that this color, used on Gor to identify the highest positions,
reflects the fact that Muls are the highest of all slaves, as the
service of Priest-Kings is indeed considered to be the greatest
A number of Muls are engineered
within the Nest itself through cloning and mutation which allows
the development of features necessary to their specific purpose.
said Sarm, "one was synthesized, beginning with the
synthesis of the protein molecules, and was formed molecule
by molecule. It is an artificially constructed human being.
It is not of much scientific interest but it has considerable
curiosity value. It was built over a period of two centuries
by Kusk, the Priest-King, as a way of escaping in his leisure
hours from the burdens of his serious biological investigations."
of the other?" I asked.
too," said Sarm, "is not without interest and
is also bestowed upon us by the avocational whims of Kusk,
one of the greatest of our Nest."
the other also synthesized?" I asked.
said Sarm, "it is the product of genetic manipulation,
artificial control and alteration of the hereditary coils
of Gor, 12:94-95
The tunics of Muls are inscribed
with scent codes which allow Priest-Kings to read their history,
identification, and all other information which might be pertinent.
Misbehaviors and errors are recorded on the tunics as record-scars,
a certain number of which will result in the slave's destruction.
The diet of Muls consists
of a fungus which is grown in farm-type settings within the Nest,
a rather bland and tasteless product which, of course, serves the
sole purpose of ensuring nutrition in a healthy if not quite enjoyable
is not hard to get used to Mul-Fungus, for it has almost
no taste, being an extremely bland, pale, whitish, fibrous
vegetablelike matter. I know of no one who is moved much
in one direction or the other by its taste. Even the Muls,
many of whom have been bred in the Nest, do not particularly
like it, nor despise it. It is eaten with much the same
lack of attention that we normally breathe air.
feed four times a day. In the first meal, Mul-Fungus is
ground and mixed with water, forming a porridge of sorts;
for the second meal it is chopped into rough two-inch cubes;
for the third meal it is minced with Mul-Pellets and served
as a sort of cold hash; the Mul-Pellets are undoubtedly
some type of dietary supplement; at the final meal Mul-Fungus
is pressed into a large, flat cake and sprinkled with a
few grains of salt.
told me, and I believe him, that Muls had occasionally slain
one another for a handful of salt.
of Gor, 14:109
is a Matok?" I asked.
creature that is in the Nest but is not of the Nest,"
of Gor, 12:92
Creatures which live within
the Nest but are said to be not of the Nest are referred to as Matoks.
Tarl Cabot was a Matok to those of the nest; he was a human not
of the Nest, who was not a Mul. Matoks as a rule though, were not
humans, as we have learned earlier that all humans within the Nest
were slaves. The creatures we meet within the tunnels of Priest-Kings
are usually insects of extraordinary proportions, each serving a
purpose within the Nest food chain. Matoks are listed and described
on the Matok feature page.
Can you imagine endless
days? Day following day following day, ad infinitum? Weeks,
months, years, decades, centuries?
life spans are, to humans, without measure. The serums allowed
to men are but pale comparisons to those which sustain the
Priest Kings. Men measure the life spans of the Priest-Kings
in centuries. Men cannot fathom the days without end that
comprise the life of the Priest-Kings. This longevity brings
about a mind-numbing boredom that would drive men insane.
Men simply commit suicide to relieve themselves of these
feelings. Priest-Kings cannot make use of this most cowardly
of human frailties. It is simply beyond their abilities
to choose to kill themselves.
To compound the monotony
of the centuries of their lives, the Priest-Kings have no
natural enemies. There exist, however, creatures that prey
upon the Priest-Kings, the golden beetles which haunt the
catacomb of tunnels that runs throughout the mountains surrounding
the Nest. Resembling beetles of Earth, these goliath creatures
carry a mantle of thick hair on their backs that exudes
droplets of a substance that is capable of rendering humans
unconscious, and has the effect of a powerful narcotic upon
To kill a beetle
is unthinkable to a Priest-King. Alone in the presence of
a golden beetle, a Priest-King is doomed. The narcotic odor
fills the Priest-King with a euphoria that cannot be resisted.
A Priest-King will go to the beetle, perhaps knowing it
means his death, and thrust his face into the mane of hair,
reveling in the elated feeling of pleasure no human being
long, I asked, does a Priest-King live?
ago, said Misk, Priest-Kings discovered the
secrets of cell replacement without pattern deterioration,
and accordingly, unless we meet with injury or accident,
we will live until we are found by the Golden Beetle.
old are you? I asked.
myself was hatched, said Misk, before we brought
our world into your solar system. He looked down at
me. That was more than two million years ago,
I said, the Nest will never die.
is dying now, said Misk. One by one we succumb
to the Pleasures of the Golden Beetle. We grow old and there
is little left for us. At one time we were rich and filled
with life and in that time our great patterns were formed
and in another time our arts flourished and then for a very
long time our only passion was scientific curiosity, but
now even that lessens, even that lessens.
do you not slay the Golden Beetles? I asked.
would be wrong, said Misk.
they kill you, I said.
is well for us to die, said Misk, for otherwise
the Nest would be eternal and the Nest must not be eternal,
for how could we love it if it were so?
---Priest-Kings of Gor, 15:118-119
to my amazement when the Beetle neared Sarm the Priest-King
sank down on his supporting appendages, almost as if he
were on his knees, and suddenly plunged his face and antennae
into the midst of the waving mane hair of the Golden Beetle.
watched the pincerlike jaws grip and puncture the thorax
of the Priest-King.
rock dust drifted between me and the pair locked in the
embrace of death. More rock tumbled to the dome and bounced
clattering to the debris below.
very globe and walkway seemed to lift and tremble but neither
of the creatures locked together above me seemed to take
the least notice.
antennae lay immersed in the golden hair of the Beetle;
his grasping appendages with their sensory hairs caressed
the golden hair; even did he take some of the hairs in his
mouth and with his tongue try to lick the exudate from them.
pleasure, came from Sarm's translator. The pleasure,
could not shut out from my ears the grim sound of the sucking
jaws of the Beetle.
knew now why it was that the Golden Beetles were permitted
to live in the Nest, why it was that Priest-Kings would
not slay them, even though it might mean their own lives.
wondered if the hairs of the Golden Beetle, heavy with the
droplets of that narcotic exudate, offered adequate recompense
to a Priest-King for the ascetic millennia in which he might
have pursued the mysteries of science, if they provided
an acceptable culmination to one of those long, long lives
devoted to the Nest, to its laws, to duty and the pursuit
and manipulation of power.
I knew, had few pleasures, and now I guessed that foremost
among them might be death.
---Priest-Kings of Gor, 31:275-276
Even as the pincer- like
jaws of the golden beetle close around and pierce the armor-like
skin of the Priest-King, and begin to drain away his life-giving
body fluids, the Priest-King will know only a pleasure whose euphoria
eases his ultimate death.
Perhaps the most heinous
of Sarm's crimes against the Nest was that of releasing the beetles
from their tunnels into the Nest itself. If not for the Muls and
other human beings within the Nest and loyal to the faction of Misk,
the Mother would have died in vain. Priest-Kings began after that
time to travel with humans who could fight off the beetles and keep
them from succumbing to the pleasure of the golden beetles.