Camerius (Ar)
Selnar (Ko-ro-ba)
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Passage Hand
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Year 10,174 Contasta Ar


Sardar Mountains



This is my narrative and relevant references from the Books where the Sardar Mountains are mentioned.
I make no pronouncements on these matters, but report them as I find them.
Arrive at your own conclusions.

I wish you well,
Fogaban




Every man of Gor knows the direction of the Sardar Mountains. Every compass needle points there. Everyone knows it is the home of the Priest-Kings. It is The Sacred Place to the minds of most men and is taboo and perilous.

The Sardar Mountain range is not a superb natural wilderness similar to the Volti. While still snowcapped, its peaks are nowhere near as tall as the Volti. Its heights do not taunt the sky.

There is no green vegetation on the lower slopes. In fact, nothing grows in the Sardar Range.

Actually, except for those snowcapped heights, the mountains are ominous, black and sheer. They are cold, full of recesses, frozen escarpments and is a forbidden, wild vastness. There are no animals, nor any growing thing, nothing save the endless black rocks and black cliffs.

There is only one way into the Sardar Mountains because they are encircled by a timber palisade wall of black logs, sharpened at the top. At the end of the central avenue of the Fair there is a towering double gate of black logs bound with wide bands of brass mounted on giant wooden hinges.

It is impossible to fly a tarn or ride any animal into the mountains due to the invisible barrier that is evidence of the Priest-Kings.

The barrier is regarded by the untrained Gorean mind, particularly that of a low caste individual, as evidence of some supernatural force, as some magical effect of the will of the Priest-Kings. It is, for certain, a field of some sort, which perhaps acts on the mechanism of an animal’s inner ear, resulting in the loss of balance and coordination.

If one approaches the mountains, one must go on foot. Sometimes when men are old or have had enough of life, they assault the mountains, looking for the secret of immortality in the barren crags. Other times outlaws and fugitives have sought refuge in the mountains but parts of them have been found on the plains below, like scraps of meat cast from an incredible distance.

Surely none have returned from the Sardar Mountains.

Should one seek the mysteries of the Priest-Kings, one approaches the huge double gate and speaks to one of the Caste of Initiates.

The Initiate calls for the gate to be opened which is done by blinded slaves operating two windlasses.

And then there is the tolling of a huge, hollow metal bar which stands some way from the gate. This tolling signifies that yet another mortal has entered the Sardar Mountains.

It is a depressing sound.



Supporting References

"The 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."
. . .

"Idealists and rebels have been dashed to pieces on the frozen escarpments of those mountains. If one approaches the mountains, one must go on foot. Our beasts will not approach them. Parts of outlaws and fugitives who have sought refuge in them have been found on the plains below, like scraps of meat cast from an incredible distance to the beaks and teeth of wandering scavengers."
. . .

"Sometimes," said my father, his eyes still faraway, "when men are old or have had enough of life, they assault the mountains, looking for the secret of immortality in the barren crags. If they have found their immortality, none have confirmed it, for none have returned to the Tower Cities."
Tarnsman of Gor     Book 1     Pages 29 - 30


I kept my course by the luminescent dial of my Gor compass, the needle of which pointed always to the Sardar Mountain Range, home of the Priest-Kings.
Tarnsman of Gor     Book 1     Pages 73 - 74


in the cold recesses of the Sardar Mountains
Tarnsman of Gor     Book 1     Page 215


Like every man of Gor I knew the direction of the Sardar Mountains, home of the Priest-Kings, forbidden vastness into which no man below the mountains, no mortal, may penetrate.
Outlaw of Gor     Book 2     Page 45


The Sardar Mountains, which I had never seen, lay more than a thousand pasangs from Ko-ro-ba. Whereas the Men Below the Mountains, as the mortals are called, seldom enter the mountains, and do not return when they do, many often venture to their brink, if only to stand within the shadows of those cliffs that hide the secrets of the Priest-Kings. Indeed, at least once in his life every Gorean is expected to make this journey.
Outlaw of Gor     Book 2     Page 47


"And where are you off to?" asked Andreas lightly.

"I have business with the Priest-Kings," I said.

"Ah!" said Andreas, and was silent.

We faced one another under the three moons. He seemed sad, one of the few times I had seen him so.

"I'm coming with you," he said.

I smiled. Andreas knew as well as I that men did not return from the Sardar Mountains.
Outlaw of Gor     Book 2     Page 171


Some four days after I had recovered the tarn, we sighted in the distance the Sardar Mountains. Had I possessed a Gorean compass, its needle would have pointed invariably to those mountains, as though to indicate the home of the Priest-Kings.
Outlaw of Gor     Book 2     Page 179


No, the Sardar Range was not the superb natural wilderness that was the Voltai. Its peaks did not scorn the plains below. Its heights did not taunt the sky nor, in the cold of the night, defy the stars. In it would not be heard the cry of tarns and the roar of larls. It was inferior to the Voltai in both dimension and grandeur.
. . .

The mountains before me were black, except for the high peaks and passes, which showed white patches and threads of cold, gleaming snow. I looked for the green of vegetation on the lower slopes and saw none. In the Sardar Range nothing grew.
Outlaw of Gor     Book 2     Page 180


Suddenly the tarn screamed and shuddered in the air! The thought of the emptiness of the Sardar Range was banished from my mind, for here was evidence of the Priest-Kings!

It was almost as if the bird had been seized by an invisible fist.

I could sense nothing.

The bird's eyes, perhaps for the first time in his life, were filled with terror, blind uncomprehending terror. I could see nothing.

Protesting, screaming, the great bird began to reel helplessly downward. Its vast wings, futilely, wildly, struck out, uncoordinated and frenetic, like the limbs of a drowning swimmer. It seemed the very air itself refused any longer to bear his weight. In drunken, dizzy circles, screaming, bewildered, helpless, the bird fell, while I, for my life, desperately clung to the thick quills of his neck. When we had reached an altitude of perhaps a hundred yards from the ground, as suddenly as it had come, the strange effect passed. The bird regained his strength and senses, except for the fact that it remained agitated, almost unmanageable.
Outlaw of Gor     Book 2     Pages 180 - 181


What had happened would have been regarded by the untrained Gorean mind, particularly that of a low caste individual, as evidence of some supernatural force, as some magical effect of the will of the Priest-Kings. I myself did not willingly entertain such hypotheses.

The tarn had struck a field of some sort, which perhaps acted on the mechanism of his inner ear, resulting in the loss of balance and coordination. A similar device, I supposed, might prevent the entry of high tharlarions, the saddle lizards of Gor, into the mountains. In spite of myself I admired the Priest-Kings. I knew now that it was true, what I had been told, that those who entered the mountains would do so on foot.
Outlaw of Gor     Book 2     Page 182


Outside the camp of Targo, Lara and I climbed a small hill and stood on its crest. I could see before me, some pasangs away, the pavilions of the Fair of En'Kara, and beyond those the looming ridges of the Sardar, ominous, black, sheer. Beyond the Fair and before the mountains, which rose suddenly from the plains, I could see the timber wall of black logs, sharpened at the top, which separated the Fair from the mountains.
Men seeking the mountains, men tired of life, young idealists, opportunists eager to learn the secret of immortality in its recesses, would use the gate at the end of the central avenue of the Fair, a double gate of black logs mounted on giant wooden hinges, a gate that would swing open from the center, revealing the Sardar beyond.
Even as we stood on the hill I could hear the slow ringing of a heavy, hollow tube of metal, which betokened that the black gate had opened. The sad, slow sound reached the hillock on which we stood.
Outlaw of Gor     Book 2     Page 211


Five days from now I shall stand before the black gate in the palisades that ring the holy mountains.

I shall strike with my spear upon the gate and the gate will open, and as I enter I will hear the mournful sound of the great hollow bar that hangs by the gate, signifying that another of the Men Below the Mountains, another mortal man, has dared to enter the Sardar.
Outlaw of Gor     Book 2     Page 245


I 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.

The 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 a 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     Book 3     Page 7


At last I stood before the towering gate of black logs, bound with its wide bands of brass. The fair lay behind me and the Sardar before. My garments and my shield bore no insignia, for my city had been destroyed. I wore my helmet. None would know who entered the Sardar.

At the gate I was met by one of the Caste of Initiates, a dour, thin-lipped, drawn man with deep sunken eyes, clad in the pure white robes of his caste.

"Do you wish to speak to Priest-Kings?" he asked.

"Yes," I said.

"Do you know what you do?" he asked.

"Yes," I said.

I would not be the first, of course, to enter the Sardar. Many men and sometimes women had entered these mountains but it is not known what they found. Sometimes these individuals are young idealists, rebels and champions of lost causes, who wish to protest to Priest-Kings; sometimes they are individuals who are old or diseased and are tired of life and wish to die; sometimes they are piteous or cunning or frightened wretches who think to find the secret of immortality in those barren crags; and sometimes they are outlaws fleeing from Gor's harsh justice, hoping to find at least brief sanctuary in the cruel, mysterious domain of Priest-Kings, a country into which they may be assured no mortal magistrate or vengeful band of human warriors will penetrate. I supposed the Initiate might account me one of the latter, for my habiliments bore no insignia.

He turned away from me and went to a small pedestal at one side. On the pedestal there was a silver bowl, filled with water, a vial of oil and a towel. He dipped his fingers in the bowl, poured a bit of oil on his hands, dipped his fingers again and then wiped his hands dry.

On each side of the huge gate there stood a great windlass and chain, and to each windlass a gang of blinded slaves was manacled.

The Initiate folded the towel carefully and replaced it on the pedestal.

"Let the gate be opened," he said.

The slaves obediently pressed their weight against the timber spokes of the two windlasses and they creaked and the chains tightened. Their naked feet slipped in the dirt and they pressed ever more tightly against the heavy, obdurate bars. Now their bodies humped with pain, clenching themselves against the spokes. Their blind eyes were fixed on nothing. The blood vessels in their necks and legs and arms began to distend until I feared they might burst open through the tortured flesh; the agonized muscles of their straining knotted bodies, like swollen leather, seemed to fill with pain as if pain were a fluid; their flesh seemed to fuse with the wood of the bars; the backs of their garments discolored with a scarlet sweat. Men had broken their own bones on the timber spokes of the Sardar windlasses.

At last there was a great creak and the vast portal parted a hand's breadth and then the width of a shoulder and the width of a man's body.

"It is enough," I said.

I entered immediately.

As I entered I heard the mournful tolling of the huge, hollow metal bar which stands some way from the gate. I had heard the tolling before, and knew that it signified that yet another mortal had entered the Sardar. It was a depressing sound, and not made less so by my realization that in this case it was I who had entered the mountains. As I listened it occurred to me that the purpose of the bar might not be simply to inform the men of the fair that the Sardar had been entered but to inform the Priest-Kings as well.
I looked behind myself in time to see the great gate close. It shut without a sound.
The journey to the Hall of Priest-Kings was not as difficult as I had anticipated. At places there were well-worn paths, at others even stairs had been cut in the sides of mountains, stairs worn smooth in the millennia by the passage of countless feet.
Here and there bones littered the path, human bones. Whether these were the remains of men who had starved or frozen in the barren Sardar, or had been destroyed by Priest-Kings, I did not know. Upon occasion some message would be found scratched in the cliffs along the path. Some of these were obscene, cursing the Priest-Kings; others were paeans in their praise; some were cheerful, if in a rather pessimistic way. One I remember was; "Eat, drink and be happy. The rest is nothing." Others were rather simple, and sometimes sad, such as "No food," I'm cold," "I'm afraid." One such read, "The mountains are empty. Rena I love you." I wondered who had written it, and when. The inscription was worn. It had been scratched out in the old Gorean script. It had weathered for perhaps better than a thousand years. But I knew that the mountains were not empty, for I had evidence of Priest-Kings. I continued my journey.
I encountered no animals, nor any growing thing, nothing save the endless black rocks, the black cliffs, and the path cut before me in the dark stone. Gradually the air grew more chill and wisps of snow blew about me; frost began to appear on the steps and I trudged past crevices filled with ice, deposits which had perhaps lain as they were without melting for hundreds of years. I wrapped my cloak more firmly about myself and using my spear as a staff I forced my way upward.
Priest-Kings of Gor     Book 3     Pages 15 - 18


Some four days into the mountains I heard for the first time in my journey the sound of a thing other than the wind, the sighing of snow and the groaning of ice; it was the sound of a living thing; the sound of a mountain larl.
. . .

Now hearing the growl of such a beast I threw back my cloak, lifted my shield and held my spear ready. I was puzzled that I might encounter a larl in the Sardar. How could it have entered the mountains? Perhaps it was native. But on what could it live among these barren crags? For I had seen nothing on which it might prey, unless one might count the men who had entered the mountains, but their bones, scattered, white and frozen, were unsplintered and unfurrowed; they showed no evidence of having suffered the molestation of a larl's gnawing jaws. I then understood that the larl I had heard must be a larl of Priest-Kings, for no animal and no man enters or exists in the Sardar without the consent of Priest-Kings and if it was fed it must be at the hand of Priest-Kings or their servants.
Priest-Kings of Gor     Book 3     Pages 18 - 19


Vika and I, clad in robes cut from the pelt of the snow larl I had slain, set out for the great black gate in the somber timber palisade that encircles the Sardar.
. . .

Whereas it had taken four days for me to climb to the lair of Priest-Kings in the Sardar it was on the morning of the second day that Vika and I sighted the remains of the great gate, fallen, and the palisade, now little more than broken and uprooted timbers.
Priest-Kings of Gor     Book 3     Page 292


In the distance far below, and to the right, I could see, through the cloud cover, the black, snow-capped crags of the Sardar.
Assassin of Gor     Book 5     Page 58


And, after all, who knows much of Priest-Kings, other than the obvious fact that they exist. The invisible barrier about the Sardar is evidence of that, and the policing, by flame death, of illegal weapons and inventions.
Marauders of Gor     Book 9     Page 29


The Gorean compass points always to the Sardar, the home of Priest-Kings.
Marauders of Gor     Book 9     Page 56


I watched him press on through the crowds, toward the looming palisade which ringed the Sardar Mountains, black and snow-capped, behind it.
Beasts of Gor     Book 12     Page 43


I looked up, beyond the crowds and platforms. From where I stood I could see the great palisade, and the black, snow-capped mountains of the Sardar.
Beasts of Gor     Book 12     Page 55


I climbed the stairs to the platform. I would look upon the Sardar in the morning light. At this time, particularly in the spring, the sun sparkling on the snow-strewn peaks, the mountains can be quite beautiful.

I attained the height of the platform and found the view breath-taking, even more splendid than I had hoped. I stood there very quietly in the cool, sunlit morning air. It was very beautiful.
Beasts of Gor     Book 12     Page 82


The dark, palisaded Sardar itself, the abode of Priest-Kings, is sealed away. It is sacred, and forbidden.
Swordsmen of Gor     Book 29     Page 78


I have gathered that much of this has to do with the rulings of your gods, called Priest-Kings, reigning from the dark, palisaded Sardar.
Conspirators of Gor     Book 31     Page 8


"Yes," said Desmond of Harfax, "though their nature is little known. We think them to be much like men. Kurii perhaps think them much like Kurii. Their power makes clear their existence, for example the Flame Death, selectively used, usually to enforce the weapon and technology laws, the policing of the skies, to seek out and destroy intruding ships, the inability of tarns to fly over the palisaded Sardar, and such things.
Conspirators of Gor     Book 31     Page 513


I did know that the Gorean compass needle always pointed to the Sardar Mountains.
Conspirators of Gor     Book 31     Page 570

























 



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