Here are relevant references from the Books where Paga is mentioned.
It is not meant to be anything other than the facts of the matter.
Arrive at your own conclusions.
I wish you well,
This section does not include every random mention of the word Paga, for instance:
Then I encountered the girl in a paga tavern in Lydius; she had fallen slave.That quote really doesn't add any information about Paga.
This still leaves a huge amount of quotes about Paga.
And maybe not every reference I have listed below is completely descriptive, but hey, it's my website and you don't have to read all of it.
Go read your own books.
Jump down to Sul Paga
The Older Tarl and I may have drunk too much of that fermented brew concocted with fiendish skill from the yellow grain, Sa-Tarna, and called Pagar-Sa-Tarna, Pleasure of the Life-Daughter, but almost always "Paga" for short.
Tarnsman of Gor Book 1 Pages 60 - 61
I had little difficulty making out the tallest tower in Ar, the cylinder of the Ubar Marlenus. As I dropped closer, I saw that the bridges were lined with the celebrants of the Planting Feast, many perhaps reeling home drunk on Paga.
Tarnsman of Gor Book 1 Page 77
"May your tarn lose its feathers," he roared, slapping his thigh, bringing his tarn to rest on the perch. He leaned over and tossed me a skin bag of Paga, from which I took a long swig, then hurled it contemptuously back into his arms. In a moment he had taken flight again, bawling out some semblance of a song about the woes of a camp girl, the bag of Paga flying behind him, dangling from its long straps.
Tarnsman of Gor Book 1 Page 78
The next few days were among the happiest of my life, as Talena and I became a part of Mintar's slow, ample caravan, members of its graceful, interminable, colorful procession. It seemed the routine of the journey would never end, and I grew enamored of the long line of wagons, each filled with its various goods, those mysterious metals and gems, rolls of cloth, foodstuffs, wines and Paga, weapons and harness, cosmetics and perfumes, medicines and slaves.
Mintar's caravan, like most, was harnessed long before dawn and traveled until the heat of the day. Camp would be made early in the afternoon. The beasts would be watered and fed, the guards set, the wagons secured, and the members of the caravan would turn to their cooking fires. In the evening the strap-masters and warriors would amuse themselves with stories and songs, recounting their exploits, fictitious and otherwise, and bawling out their raucous harmonies under the influence of Paga.
"Is there no Paga Tavern near," I asked, "where I can find rest?"
"There are no Paga Taverns in Tharna," said the man, I thought with a trace of amusement.
After this Kamchak and I left the wagon and wandered about, stopping at one of the slave wagons for a bottle of Paga, which, while wandering about, we killed between us.
This year, as it turned out, the Wagon Peoples had done exceedingly well in the games of Love War, a bit of news we picked up with the Paga and about seventy percent of the Turian maidens had been led slave from the stakes to which they had been manacled. In some years I knew the percentages were rather the other way about. It apparently made for zestful competition. We also heard that the wench Hereena, of the First Wagon, had been won by a Turian officer representing the house of Saphrar of the Merchants, to whom, for a fee, he presented her. I gathered that she would become another of his dancing girls. "A bit of perfume and silk will be good for that wench," stated Kamchak. It seemed strange to think of her, so wild and insolent, arrogant on the back of her kaiila, now a perfumed, silken slave of Turians. "She could use a bit of whip and steel, that wench," Kamchak muttered between swallows of Paga, pretty much draining the bottle. It was too bad, I thought, but at least I supposed there would be one fellow among the wagons, the young man Harold, he whom the girl had so abused, he who had not yet won the Courage Scar, who would be just as pleased as not that she, with all her contempt and spleen, was now delightfully salted away in bangles and bells behind the high, thick walls of a Turian's pleasure garden.
Kamchak had circled around and we found ourselves back at the slave wagon.
We decided to wager to see who would get the second bottle of Paga.
"What about the flight of birds?" asked Kamchak.
"Agreed," I said, "but I have first choice."
"Very well," he said.
I knew, of course, that it was spring and, in this hemisphere, most birds, if there were any migrating, would be moving south. "South," I said.
"North," he said.
We then waited about a minute, and I saw several birds - river gulls flying north.
"Those are Vosk gulls," said Kamchak, "In the spring, when the ice breaks in the Vosk, they fly north."
I fished some coins out of my pouch for the Paga.
Inside the enclosure, over against one side, I saw the slave wagon. The bosk had been unhitched and taken elsewhere. It was open and one could go in and purchase a bottle of Paga if one cared to do so.
"One is thirsty," said Kamchak.
"I'll buy the Paga," I said.
Kamchak shrugged. He had, after all, bought the admissions.
When I returned with the bottle I had to step through, over, and once or twice on, Tuchuks. Fortunately my clumsiness was not construed as a challenge. One fellow I stepped on was even polite enough to say, "Forgive me for sitting where you are stepping." In Tuchuk fashion, I assured him that I had taken no offense, and, sweating, I at last made my way to Kamchak's side. He had rather good seats, which hadn't been there before, obtained by the Tuchuk method of finding two individuals sitting closely together and then sitting down between them. He had also parked Aphris on his right and Elizabeth on his left. I bit out the cork in the Paga and passed it past Elizabeth to Kamchak, as courtesy demanded. About a third of the bottle was missing when Elizabeth, looking faint at having smelled the beverage, returned it to me.
Kamchak reached across Elizabeth and dragged the Paga bottle out of my hand. Then he was wrestling with Aphris and had her head back, fingers pinching her nose, the neck of the bottle thrust between her teeth. She was struggling and laughing and shaking her head. Then she had to breathe and a great draught of Paga burned its way down her throat making her gasp and cough. I doubt that she had ever before experienced a drink stronger than the syrupy wines of Turia. She was now gasping and shaking her head and Kamchak was pounding her on the back.
"Why?" I again asked Elizabeth.
But Elizabeth, with her free left hand had seized the Paga bottle from Kamchak, and, to his amazement, had thrown back her head and taken, without realizing the full import of her action, about five lusty, guzzling swallows of Paga. Then, as I rescued the bottle, her eyes opened very wide and then blinked about ten times. She exhaled slowly as if fire might be sizzling out instead of breath and then she shook, a delayed reaction, as if she had been thumped five times and then began to cough spasmodically and painfully until I, fearing she might suffocate, pounded her several times on the back. At last, bent over, gasping for breath, she seemed to be coming around. I held her by the shoulders and suddenly she turned herself in my hands and, as I was sitting cross-legged, threw herself on her back across my lap, her right wrist still chained to her left ankle. She stretched insolently, as well as she could. I was astounded. She looked up at me. "Because I am better than Dina and Tenchika," she said.
"But not better than Aphris," called Aphris.
"Yes," said Elizabeth, "better than Aphris."
"Get up, Little She-Sleen," said Kamchak, amused, "or to preserve my honor I must have you impaled."
Elizabeth looked up at me.
"She's drunk," I told Kamchak.
"Some men might like a barbarian girl," Elizabeth said.
I hoisted Elizabeth back up on her knees. "No one will buy me," she wailed.
There were immediate offers from three or four of the Tuchuks gathered about, and I was afraid that Kamchak might, if the bids improved, part with Miss Cardwell on the spot.
"Sell her," advised Aphris.
"Be quiet, Slave," said Elizabeth.
Kamchak was roaring with laughter.
The Paga had apparently hit Miss Cardwell swiftly and hard. She seemed barely able to kneel and, at last, I permitted her to lean against me, and she did, her chin on my right shoulder.
"You know," said Kamchak, "the Little Barbarian wears your chain well."
"Nonsense," I said.
"I saw," said Kamchak, "how at the games when you thought the men of Turia charging you were prepared to rescue the wench."
"I wouldn't have wanted your property damaged," I said.
"You like her," announced Kamchak.
"Nonsense," I said to him.
"Nonsense," said Elizabeth, sleepily.
"Sell her to him," recommended Aphris, hiccupping.
"You only want to be First Girl," said Elizabeth.
"I'd give her away myself," said Aphris. "She is only a barbarian."
For no reason that I am quite sure of I unwisely purchased another bottle of Paga, perhaps for company in my lonely walk.
I was only about a quarter of the way through the bottle and was passing the side of a wagon when I saw a swift flicker of a shadow suddenly leap on the lacquered boards and by instinct I threw my head to one side as a quiva flashed past and buried itself three inches deep in the timber side of the wagon. Flinging the Paga bottle aside, a swirl of the liquid flying out of it, I whirled and saw, some fifty feet away, between two wagons, the dark figure of the hooded man, he of the Clan of Torturers, who had been following me. He turned and ran, and I, drawing my sword, ran stumbling after him but in less than a moment or two I found my pursuit cut short by a string of tied kaiila being returned after having been released to hunt on the plains. By the time I could manage to avoid their buffeting bodies and crawl under the rope that joined them, my assailant was gone. All I received for my trouble were the angry shouts of the man leading the kaiila string. Indeed, one of the vicious beasts even snapped at me, ripping the sleeve on my shoulder.
Angry I returned to the wagon and drew the quiva from the boards.
By this time the owner of the wagon, who was naturally curious about the matter, was beside me. He held a small torch, lit from the fire bowl within the wagon. He was examining, not happily, the cut in his planking. "A clumsy throw," he remarked, I thought a bit ill-humoredly.
"Perhaps," I admitted.
"But," he added, turning and looking at me, "I suppose under the circumstances it was just as well."
"Yes," I said, "I think so."
I found the Paga bottle and noted that there was a bit of liquid left in it, below the neck of the bottle. I wiped off the neck and handed it to the man. He took about half of it and then wiped his mouth and handed it back. I then finished the bottle. I flung it into a refuse hole, dug and periodically cleaned by male slaves.
"It is not bad Paga," said the man.
"No," I said, "I think it is pretty good."
It was toward dark when Kamchak and I reached the slave wagon to buy our bottle of Paga.
On the way we passed a girl, a girl from Cos taken hundreds of pasangs away in a raid on a caravan bound for Ar. She had been bound across a wagon wheel lying on the ground, her body over its hub. Her clothing had been removed. Fresh and clean on her burned thigh was the brand of the four bosk horns. She was weeping. The Iron Master affixed the Turian collar. He bent to his tools, taking up a tiny, open golden ring, a heated metal awl, a pair of pliers. I turned away. I heard her scream.
"Do not Korobans brand and collar slaves?" asked Kamchak.
"Yes," I admitted, "they do."
I could not rid my mind of the image of the girl from Cos weeping bound on the wheel. Such tonight, or on another night, would be the lovely Elizabeth Cardwell. I threw down a wild swallow of Paga. I resolved I would somehow release the girl, somehow protect her from the cruelty of the fate decreed for her by Kamchak.
"Are you not going to your wagon tonight?" he asked.
"I think not," I said.
"As you wish," said he, "but I have had it well stocked with Paga and Ka-la-na wines from Ar and such."
In Turia, even though we had much of the riches of the city at our disposal, there had not been much Paga or Ka-la-na wine. As I may have mentioned the Turians, on the whole, favor thick, sweet wines. I had taken, as a share of battle loot, a hundred and ten bottles of Paga and forty bottles of Ka-la-na wine from Tyros, Cos and Ar, but these I had distributed to my crossbowmen, with the exception of one bottle of Paga which Harold and I had split some two nights ago. I decided I might spend the night in my wagon.
Two nights ago it had been a night for Paga. Tonight, I felt, was a night for Ka-la-na. I was pleased to learn there would be some in the wagon.
At a Paga Tavern, one near the great gate, cheap and crowded, dingy and smelling, a place frequented by strangers and small Merchants, the Assassin took the girl by the arm and thrust her within. There were three musicians against one wall.
They stopped playing. The slave girls in Pleasure Silk turned and stood stock still, the Paga flasks cradled over their right forearms. Not even the bells locked to their left ankles made a sound. Not a paga bowl was lifted nor a hand moved. The men looked at the Assassin, who regarded them, one by one. Men turned white under that gaze. Some fled from the tables, lest, unknown to themselves, it be they for whom this man wore the mark of the black dagger.
The Assassin turned to the man in a black apron, a fat, grimy man, who wore a soiled tunic of white and gold, stained with sweat and spilled paga.
"Collar," said the Assassin.
The man took a key from a line of hooks on the wall behind him.
"Seven," he said, throwing the Assassin the key.
The Assassin caught the key and taking the girl by the arm led her to a dark wall, in a low-ceilinged corner of the sloping room. She moved woodenly, as though numb. Her eyes seemed frightened.
There were one or two other girls there, kneeling, who drew back, with a sound of chain.
He thrust the dark-haired girl to her knees by the seventh collar and snapped it about her neck, turning the key, locking it. It gave her about a two-foot length of chain, fastened to a slave ring bolted into the stone. Then he looked down on her. Her eyes were lifted to his, frightened. The yellow of her livery seemed dark in the shadows. From where she knelt she could see the low-hanging tharlarion oil lamps of the main portion of the Paga tavern, the men, the girls in silk who, in a moment, belled, would move among them, replenishing the paga. In the under a hanging lamp, there was a square area, recessed, filled with sand, in which men might fight or girls dance. Beyond the area of the sand and the many tables there was a high wall, some twenty feet or so high, in which there were four levels, each containing seven small curtained alcoves, the entrances to which were circular, with a diameter of about twenty-four inches. Seven narrow ladders, each about eight inches in width, fixed into the wall, gave access to these alcoves.
She saw Kuurus go to the tables and sit cross-legged behind one, a table against the wall on her left, that there might be no tables behind him, but only the wall.
The men who had been at that table, or near it, silently rose and left the area.
Kuurus had placed his spear against the wall behind him, and he had taken from his left shoulder his shield, his helmet and the sheathed short sword, which blade he had placed at his right hand on the low table.
At a gesture from the proprietor, the grimy man in the tunic of white and gold, one of the serving slaves, with a flash of her ankle bells, hurried to the Assassin and set before him a bowl, which she trembling filled from the flask held over her right forearm. Then, with a furtive glance at the girl chained at the side of the room, the serving slave hurried away.
Kuurus took the paga bowl in both hands and put his head down, looking into it.
Then, somberly, he lifted it to his lips and drank.
Putting the bowl down he wiped his mouth on his forearm and looked at the Musicians. "Play," he said.
The three Musicians bent to their instruments, and, in a moment, there were again the sounds of a paga tavern, the sounds of talk, of barbaric music, of pouring paga, the clink of bowls, the rustle of bells on the ankles of slave girls.
"It is Hup the Fool," said someone.
The little thing, misshapen with its large head, scrambled limping and leaping like a broken-legged urt to the counter behind which stood the man in the grimy tunic, who was wiping out a paga bowl. "Hide Hup!" cried the thing. "Hide Hup! Please hide Hup!"
"Be off with you, Hup the Fool!" cried the man slapping at him with the back of his hand.
"No!" screamed Hup. "They want to kill Hup!"
"There is no place for beggars in Glorious Ar," growled one of the men at the tables.
Hup's rag might once have been of the Caste of Potters, but it was difficult to tell. His hands looked as though they might have been broken. Clearly one leg was shorter than the other. Hup wrung his tiny, misshapen hands, looking about. He tried foolishly to hide behind a group of men but they threw him to the center of the pit of sand in the tavern. He tried, like a frantic animal, to crawl under one of the low tables but he only spilled the paga and the men pulled him out from under the table and belabored his back with blows of their fists. He kept whimpering and screaming, and running one place or the other. Then, in spite of the angry shout of the proprietor, he scrambled over the counter, taking refuge behind it.
But his laugh died in his throat as he looked into the eyes of Kuurus, he of the Caste of Assassins.
Kuurus, with his left hand, pushed to one side his bowl of paga.
"I am of the opinion," said the man, "that it is a good thing we have those in the black tunic back amongst us."
Kuurus nodded, accepting the judgment.
"Bring paga!" called the paunchy man imperiously, impatiently, to one of the girls, who hastened to obey him. Then he turned again to Kuurus, and smiled ingratiatingly. "It has been hard in Ar," said the man, "since the deposition of Kazrak of Port Kar as Administrator of the City, and since the murder of Om, the High Initiate of the City."
Kuurus lifted his paga bowl and drank.
"What has this to do with me?" he asked.
"For whom do you wear on your forehead the mark of the black dagger?" queried Portus discreetly.
Kuurus said nothing.
"Perhaps I could tell you where to find him," proposed Portus.
"I will find him," said Kuurus.
"Of course," said Portus. "Of course." The heavy man, sitting cross-legged, opposite the Assassin, began to sweat, fiddled with the damp blue and yellow silk covering his knee, and then with a nervous hand lifted a shaking bowl of paga to his lips, spilling some down the side of his face. "I meant no harm," he said.
Further, in order to gain Players, the master, if wise, occasionally loses a game, which is expensive at the normal odds; and the game must be lost subtly, that the amateur must believe he has won. I had once known a Warrior in Ko-ro-ba, a dull, watery-eyed fellow, who boasted of having beaten Quintus of Tor in a Paga Tavern in Thentis. Those who play the game for money have a hard lot, for the market is a buyer's market, and commonly men will play with them only on terms much to their satisfaction. I myself, when Centius of Cos was in Ko-ro-ba, might have played him on the bridge near the Cylinder of Warriors for only a pair of copper tarn disks. It seemed sad to me, that I, who knew so little of the game, could have so cheaply purchased the privilege of sitting across the board from such a master. It seemed to me that men should pay a tarn disk of gold just to be permitted to watch such a master play, but such were not the economic realities of the game.
In spite of having the respect, even to some degree the adulation, of almost all Goreans, the Players lived poorly. On the Street of Coins they found it difficult even to arrange loans. They were not popular with innkeepers, who would not shelter them unless paid in advance. Many were the nights a master would be found rolled in robes in a Paga tavern, where, for a bit of tarsk meat and a pot of paga, and an evening's free play with customers, he would be permitted to sleep.
"I come to avenge," I said, "Tarl Cabot, he of Ko-ro-ba."
There were cries of astonishment from the men-at-arms. I smiled to myself. I had little doubt but that in an Ahn the story would be in all the Paga taverns of Ar, on all the bridges and in all the cylinders.
A Builder, whose robes were stained with thrown fruit, hastily strode by. "You had better be indoors," said he, "on Kajuralia."
Three male house slaves stumbled by, crowned with odorous garlands woven of the Brak Bush. They were passing about a bota of paga and, between dancing and trying to hold one another up, managed to weave unsteadily by. One of them looked at me and from his eyes I judged he may have seen at least three of me and offered me a swig of the bota, which I took. "Kajuralia," said he, nearly falling over backwards, being rescued by one of his fellows, who seemed fortunately to be falling in the opposite direction at the same time. I gave him a silver coin for more paga. "Kajuralia," I said, and turned about, leaving, while they collapsed on one another.
Flaminius looked at me, with a certain drunken awe. Then he rose in his green quarters tunic and went to a chest in his room, from which he drew forth a large bottle of paga. He opened it and, to my surprise, poured two cups. He took a good mouthful of the fluid from one of the cups, and bolted it down, exhaling with satisfaction.
"You seem to me, from what I have seen and heard," I said, "a skilled Physician."
He handed me the second cup, though I wore the black tunic.
"In the fourth and fifth year of the reign of Marlenus," said he, regarding me evenly, "I was first in my caste in Ar."
I took a swallow.
"Then," said I, "you discovered paga?"
"No," said he.
"Where is the Paga?" I demanded of one of the girls. Startled, I saw, now that she stood forth from the shadows, that she had no nose.
"There, Master!" said she, pointing to a basket of bottles under the large cutting table in the center of the room.
I went to the basket and took out a bottle, a large one.
"It is Kajuralia," I said to him, simply. I held the bottle to him. "Kajuralia? he asked.
"Yes," I said.
He began to laugh, softly, hoarsely. "I was right," he said, "I was right."
"I do not understand," I said.
He began to suck at the bottle. There were few teeth left in his mouth; most had rotted and, apparently, snapped away, or had been broken off by him and discarded.
I forcibly drew the bottle from his mouth. I had no wish that he kill himself on the paga. I did not know what its shock would be to his system, after apparently months of torture, confinement, fear, poor food, the water, the urts. "I was right," he said, nodding his head.
"About what?" I asked.
"That today was Kajuralia," said he.
I let him have another small swig at the paga bottle. "Somedays," he said, "I was not sure that I marked the wall, and then I would forget; sometimes I feared I had marked it twice."
"You were accurate," I said, regarding the carefully drawn scratches, the rows methodically laid out, the months, the five-day weeks, the passage hands.
I counted back the rows. Then I said, pointing to the first scratch, "This is the first day of En'Kara before the last En'Kara."
The toothless mouth twisted into a grin, the sunken eyes wrinkled with pleasure. "Yes," he said, "the first day of En'Kara, 10,118, more than a year ago."
"It was before I came to the House of Cernus," I said, my voice trembling.
I gave him another drink of the paga.
"Your calendar is well kept," I said. "Worthy of a Scribe."
"I am a Scribe," said the man. He reached under himself to hold forth for my inspection a shred of damp, rotted blue cloth, the remains of what had once been his robes.
I watched the dancing girl of Port Kar writhing on the square of sand between the tables, under the whips of masters, in a Paga tavern of Port Kar.
"Your paga," said the nude slave girl, who served me, her wrists chained. "It is warmed as you wished."
I took it from her, not even glancing upon her, and drained the goblet.
She knelt beside the low table, at which I sat cross-legged.
"More," I said, handing her back the goblet, again not deigning to even glance upon her.
"Yes, Master," she said, rising, taking the goblet.
I liked paga warm. One felt it so much the sooner.
It is called the Whip Dance, the dance the girl upon the sand danced.
She wore a delicate vest and belt of chains and jewels with shimmering metal droplets attached. And she wore ankle rings, and linked slave bracelets, again with shimmering droplets pendant upon them and a locked collar matching.
She danced under ships' lanterns, hanging from the ceiling of the paga tavern, it located near the wharf bounding the great arsenal.
I heard the snapping of the whip, her cries.
The dancing girls of Port Kar are said to be the best of all Gor. They are sought eagerly in the many cities of the planet. They are slave to the core, vicious, treacherous, cunning, seductive, sensuous, dangerous, desirable, excruciatingly desirable.
"Your paga," said the girl, who served me.
I took it from her, again not seeing her. "Go, Slave," said I.
"Yes, Master," she said and, with a rustle of chain, left my side.
I drank more paga.
So I had come to Port Kar.
I took another drink of paga.
The men who had come to the tavern were roistering but order, to some extent, had been restored. Two of the ship's lanterns had been broken. There was glass, and spilled paga about, and two broken tables. But the musicians were again playing and again, in the square of sand, the girl performed, though not now the Whip Dance. Nude slave girls, wrists chained, hurried about. The proprietor, sweating, aproned, was tipping yet another great bottle of paga in its sling, filling cups, that they be borne to the drinkers. There was an occasional scream from the alcoves, bringing laughter from the tables. I heard the flash of a whip somewhere, and the cries of a girl.
I threw a silver tarsk, taken from what we had obtained from the slavers in the marsh, to the proprietor of the paga tavern, and took in return one of the huge bottles of paga, of the sort put in the pouring sling, and reeled out of the tavern, making my way along the narrow walk way lining the canal, toward the quarters taken by men, Thurnock and Clitus, with our slaves.
I had pounded on the beamed door of our quarter "Paga!" I had cried. "I bring paga!"
Thurnock took down the beams from the door, at swung it open.
"Paga!" he shouted, pleased, seeing the great bottle.
That night, the girls in our arms, we feasted, lifting many cups of paga.
Clitus, after returning to our quarters, had left and returned with four musicians, bleary-eyed, routed from their mats well past the Twentieth Hour, but, lured by the jingling of a pair of silver tarsks, ready to play for us, past the dawn if need be. We soon had them drunk as well and though it did not improve their playing, I was pleased to see them join with us in our festivities, helping as to make our feast. Clitus, too, had brought two bottles of Ka-la-na wine, a string of eels, cheese of the Verr, and a sack of red olives from the groves of Tyros.
We greeted him with cheers.
Telima had prepared a roast tarsk, stuffed with suls and peppers from Tor.
There were great quantities of the yellow Sa-Tarna bread, in its rounded, six-part loaves.
We were served by the Kettle Slave, Telima. She poured paga for the men, and Ka-la-na for the women. She tore the bread for us, broke the cheese, ribboned the eels and cut the tarsk. She hurried from one to the other, and the musicians as well, scarcely serving one before being summoned to another. The girls commanded her as well as the men. She was only Kettle Slave and thus, they were of a higher sort than she. Further, I gathered, on the islands, Telima, with her beauty, her skills and arrogance, had not been popular, and it pleased them no little that she should be, in effect, slave for them as well as their masters.
I sat cross-legged at the low table, quaffing paga, my left arm about the shoulders of Midice, who, kneeling, snuggled against me.
I found myself alone in the darkness. It was about an Ahn, I conjectured, before daylight. I trod the narrow walkway lining the canal. Then, suddenly, falling to my hands and knees, I threw up into the dark waters. I heard one of the giant canal urts twist in the water somewhere beneath me. I threw up again, and then stood up, shaking my head. I had had too much paga, I told myself.
I could smell the sea, but I had not yet seen her.
The buildings lining the canals on each side were dark, but, here and there, in the side of one, near a window, was a torch. I looked at the brick, the stone, watched the patterns and shadows playing on the walls of the buildings of Port Kar.
Somewhere I heard the squealing and thrashing of two of the giant urts fighting in the water, among the floating garbage.
My steps took me again to the paga tavern where I had begun this night.
I was alone, and miserable. I was cold. There was nothing of worth in Port Kar, nor in all the worlds of all the suns.
I pushed open the doors of the paga tavern.
The musicians, and the dancer, had gone, long ago I supposed.
There were not so many men in the paga tavern now t and those there were seemed mostly lost in stupor. Here and there some lay among the tables, their tunics soiled with paga. Others lay, wrapped in ship's cloaks, against the wall. Some two or three still sat groggily at the tables, staring at goblets half-filled with paga. The girls, saving those who served still in the curtained alcoves must have been somewhere chained for the night, probably in a slave room off the kitchen. The proprietor, when I entered, lifted his head from the counter, behind which hung a great bottle of paga in its pouring sling.
I threw down a copper tarn disk and he tilted the great bottle.
I took my goblet of paga to a table and sat down, cross-legged, behind it.
I did not want to drink. I wanted only to be alone.
I felt the folded sweep of Clitus' net behind me and I thrust back my hand, and hooked my fingers into its mesh. Bleeding and choking, shivering with cold, I was drawn from the water. In moments, trembling, half supported by two men-at-arms, I was conducted back to the investing wall. There, in the heat of a watch fire, I stripped away my clothes and took a cloak from Thurnock. Someone gave me a swallow of paga from a leather bota.
Suddenly I laughed.
"Why do you laugh!" asked one of the men-at-arms.
"I am pleased to find myself alive," I said.
The men laughed. Thurnock clapped me on the shoulders. "So, too, are we, my captain," said Thurnock.
"What of your leg?" asked one of the men-at-arms.
"It is all right," I told him.
I took another swig of paga.
In this very afternoon the formal presentations and accountings of the victory and its plunder had taken place in the chamber of the Council of Captains.
I rose to my feet and lifted my goblet of paga, acknowledging the cries of my retainers.
The goblets clashed and we drank.
Now, at my victory feast, I drank more paga. That, I told myself, letting a boy train with weapons, had been a moment of weakness. I did not expect I would allow myself more such moments.
I observed the boy bringing in yet another roasted tarsk.
No, I told myself, I should not have showed such lenience to a slave.
I would not again allow myself such moments of weakness.
I fingered the broad scarlet ribbon and the medallion, pendant about my neck, bearing its tarn ship and initials, those of the Council of Captains of Port Kar.
I was Bosk, Pirate, Admiral of Port Kar, now perhaps one of the richest and most powerful men on Gor.
No, I would not again show such moments of weakness.
I thrust out the silver paga goblet, studded with rubies, and Telima, standing beside my thronelike chair, filled it. I did not look upon her.
I looked down the table, to where Thurnock, with his slave Thura, and Clitus, with his slave, Ula, were drinking and laughing. Thurnock and Clitus were good men, but they were fools. They were weak. I recalled how they had taken a fancy to the boy, Fish, and had helped him with his work in weapons. Such men were weak. They had not in themselves the stuff of captains.
I sat back on the great chair, paga goblet in hand, surveying the room.
It was crowded with the tables of my retainers, feasting.
To one side musicians played.
There was a clear space before my great table, in which, from time to time, during the evening, entertainments had been provided, simple things, which even I upon occasion found amusing, fire eaters and sword swallowers, jugglers and acrobats, and magicians, and slaves, riding on one another's shoulders' striking at one another with inflated tarsk bladders tied to poles.
"Drink!" I cried.
And again goblets were lifted and clashed.
I looked down the long table, and, far to my right, sitting alone at the end of the long bench behind the table, was Luma, my slave and chief scribe. Poor, scrawny, plain Luma, thought I, in her tunic of scribe's cloth, and collar! What a poor excuse for a paga slave she had been! Yet she had a brilliant mind for the accounts and business of a great house, and had much increased my fortunes. So indebted to her was I that I had, this night, permitted her to sit at one end of the great table. No free man, of course, would sit beside her. Moreover, that my other scribes and retainers not be angered, I had had her put in slave bracelets, and about her neck had had fastened a chain, which was bolted into the heavy table. And it was thus that Luma, she of perhaps greatest importance in my home, saving its master, with us, yet chained and alone, apart, shared my feast of victory.
"More paga," said I, putting out the goblet.
Telima poured me more paga.
I extended the paga goblet to Telima and, again, she filled it.
I rose to my feet, lifting the goblet, and my retainers, as well, rose to their feet, lifting their goblets.
"There is gold and steel!" I said.
"Gold and steel!" cried my retainers.
"And songs," said the blind singer.
The room was quiet.
I looked upon the singer. "Yes," I said, lifting my goblet to him, "and songs."
I held out my paga goblet, but it was not filled. I looked about, angrily.
I called out to a passing slave girl. "Where is the slave Telima?" I demanded.
"She was here but a moment ago," said a slave girl.
"She went to the kitchens," said another.
I had not given her permission to leave.
"I will serve you paga," said Sandra.
"No," I said, holding the paga goblet away from her. I addressed myself to one of the slave girls. "Have Telima beaten," I said, "and sent to my side. I would be served."
"Yes, Master," said the girl, speeding away.
Sandra looked down, angrily, pouting.
"Do not fret," I said to her, "or I shall have you beaten as well."
"It is only, Master," said she, "that I wish to serve you."
I laughed. She was indeed a wily wench.
"Paga?" I asked.
She looked up at me, suddenly, her eyes bright, her lips slightly parted. "No," she said, "wine."
"I see," I said.
There was a rustle of chain and the Lady Vivina, to the pleasure of the tables, was conducted before me.
I heard a movement at my side and saw that Telima now stood again where she had before. There were tears in her eyes. I did not doubt that she now had four or five welts on her back from the switch of the kitchen master. The thin rep-cloth tunic provides little protection from the kitchen master's switch. I held out the paga goblet, and she refilled it.
"Paga!" I cried and held back the goblet and Telima filled it.
I regretted only that Midice and Tab were not with me to share my triumph.
I stood drunkenly, holding to the table. I spilled paga. "Paga!" I cried, and Telima again filled the goblet. I drank again. And then, again, wildly, shouting, crying out, I threw gold to all the corners of the room, laughing as the men fought and leaped to seize it.
I drank and then threw more coins and more coins about the room.
There was laughter and delighted cries.
"Hail Bosk!" I heard. "Hail Bosk, Admiral of Port Kar!"
I threw more gold wildly about. I drank again, and again. "Yes," I cried. "Hail Bosk!"
Samos put down a cup of paga. "How do you suppose matters in the city will proceed?" he asked Tab.
Tab looked down at the table. "The Ubars Eteocles and Sullius Maximus," he said, "have already fled with their ships and men. The last holding of Henrius Sevarius has been abandoned. The council hall, though partly burnt, is not destroyed. The city, it seems to me, is safe. The fleet will doubtless return within four or five days."
"Then," said Samos, "it seems that the Home Stone of Port Kar is secure." He lifted his goblet.
We drank his toast.
She leaped to her feet and ran to him, where he shook her head roughly, and unbound her. "Fetch me paga," he said. "Yes, Master," she said.
I went to the wagon to fetch a large bota of paga, which had been filled from one of the large jugs.
Lana and Ute, too, went to the wagon, to fetch other botas, so commanded by other guards.
Soon I returned to the firelight, the heavy bota of paga, on its strap, slung over my shoulder, Ute and Lana, with theirs, behind me.
The grass felt good to my bare feet. It seemed I could feel each blade. I felt the rough fabric of the camisk on my body as I moved, the pull of the strap on my shoulder, the heavy, swaying touch of the bota as, in the rhythm of my walk, it touched my side.
Beyond the fire, in the distance, like an irregular margin, a torn, soft, dark edge hiding the bright stars of Gor, I could see the lofty, still blackness of the borders of the northern forests. Far off, I heard the scream of a hunting sleen. I shivered.
Then I heard the laughing of the men, and turned again toward the fire.
Back away toward the compound, here and there on the meadow, I could see other fires, and clusters of wagons. This was a night for paga, for celebration. Tomorrow, Targo, and his men and his merchandise, would make their way to Laura and, crossing the river there, begin their long, overland journey to Ko-ro-ba, called by some the Towers of the Morning, and from thence to luxurious Ar itself. The journey would be not only long and hard but dangerous.
"Paga!" called the guard.
I hurried to him.
"Let Lana dance," whimpered Lana.
The guard handed me a piece of meat and I took it in my teeth kneeling beside him, where he sat cross-legged, I lifting and squeezing the bota of paga, filled from one of the large jugs, guiding the stream of liquid into his mouth. I bit through the charred exterior of the meat, into the red, hot, half-raw, juicy interior.
The guard, with one hand, gestured that he had had enough.
I laid the bota aside on the grass.
"Thurnock," I said, "let us now have that cup of paga, and then let us retire. We must rise early, for the Dorna, and the Venna, and the Tela are to be inspected."
"Yes, my captain," said Thurnock. "Yes!"
"May I serve, Masters?" she asked.
"Paga," said Samos, absently, looking at the board.
"Yes." I said.
With a flash of slave bells, she withdrew. As she left, I noted that she passed by the kneeling male slave, flanked by his guards. She passed him as a slave girl, her head in the air, insolently, taunting him with her body.
I saw rage flash in his eyes. I heard his chains move. The guards took no note of him. He was well secured. The girl laughed, and continued on, to fetch paga for free men. "Guard your tarnsman," said Samos.
Instead I swept my Ubar to Ubar's Tarnsman One.
I looked into Samos' eyes.
He turned his attention again to the board.
He had a large, squarish head, short-cropped white hair. His face was dark from the sun, and wind-burned, and sea-burned. There were small, golden rings in his ears. He was a pirate, a slaver, a master swordsman, a captain of Port Kar. He studied the board.
He did not take the Ubar's Tarnsman with his spearman. He looked up at me, and defended his Home Stone by bringing his Scribe to Ubar One, whence it could control his Ubar's Tarnsman Three, controlling as well the killing diagonal.
"Talena, daughter of Marlenus of Ar, I learn, has been taken as slave to the northern forests," I said.
"Where did you obtain this information?" he asked. Samos was always suspicious.
"From a female slave, who was in my house," I said, "a rather lovely wench, whose name was Elinor."
"That El-in-or," he asked, "who is now the property of Rask of Treve?"
"Yes," I said. I smiled. "I got one hundred pieces of gold for her," I said.
Samos smiled. "Doubtless, for such a price," he said, "Rask of Treve will see that she repays him a thousand times that price in pleasure."
I smiled. "I do not doubt it." I returned my attention to the board. "Yet," said I, "it is my suspicion that between them there is truly love."
Samos smiled. "Love," he asked, "for a female slave?"
"Paga, Masters?" asked the dark-haired girl, kneeling beside the table.
Samos, not looking at her, held forth his goblet. The girl filled the goblet.
I held forth my goblet, and she, too, filled mine. "Withdraw," said Samos. She withdrew.
We took a table, an inconspicuous one, near the rear of the paga tavern, yet one with an unimpeded view. The short-bodied girl was indeed superb. Aside from her chains, confining her wrists and ankles, she wore only her collar.
There was a flash of slave bells at my side and a dark-haired, yellow-silked girl, a paga girl, knelt beside us, where we sat cross-legged behind the small table. "Paga, Masters?"
"For three," said I, expansively. "And bring bread and bosk, and grapes."
"Go to the wall," I said.
She put down her vessel of paga, and rose lightly. I saw the beauty of her body beneath the silk. She went to the wall, where Tendite had been chained.
Her fists clenched in the slave bracelets. She was indeed that now, simply an unimportant, lowly paga slave in Lydius. I regarded her beauty.
"What are you going to do with me?" she asked.
"I have paid the price of a cup of paga," I told her.
I regarded her in the shadows of the small alcove, lit by the tiny lamp, its draft carried by the tiny ventilating hole above it.
She still wore the chains I had put her in. The bit of yellow silk, crumpled, soaked with sweat, lay to one side. "How does it feel to be a paga slave?" I asked. She turned her head to one side.
I had exacted the full performance of the paga slave from her.
"You are angry," she said, "because I fled from you. Now you take your vengeance on me."
"I merely used you as the paga slave you are," I told her. It was true. I had treated her no worse, or better, than such slaves are commonly treated. Moreover, she knew that. She knew I had forced her to serve precisely as a paga slave, no more nor less.
"We shall open only this bottle," I said. "The others we may enjoy later."
They would not become drunk. One bottle of Ka-la-na among ten men is nothing. Ka-la-na is not paga or the strong beer of the north.
"Speak to me," I said, "of what took place in this camp, and tell me what you know of the doings and intentions of the men of Tyros."
"We know nothing," said one of the girls. "We are only slaves."
In the pouring of paga, I knew, they would have heard much.
"It is my wish," I said, "that you speak." My eyes were not pleasant.
"Similarly," said Thurnock, "took she the key from the mate of the Rhoda and, when the ships were tied together, and the men of the Rhoda and Tesephone were drunk with her body and the vessels of paga she poured them, she brought it to us. We freed ourselves, and put those who had been our captors in chains."
"Well done," said I, "Thurnock."
"We put them in the hold of the Rhoda," grinned Thurnock. "In the morning doubtless they will be surprised to find themselves in chains. Their heads, too, sore from the paga, will most likely cause them some displeasure."
"I would have paga," I said. "And bring me the red meat of bosk."
Henrius and Clitus left the table.
The sword was brought. It was a fine blade. It had been carried on the 25th of Se'Kara. Its blade was figured, its hilt encrusted with jewels.
I took the goblet, filled with burning paga. I had not had paga since returning from the northern forests.
"Ta-Sardar-Gor," said I, pouring a libation to the table. Then I stood.
"He is standing!" cried Luma. "He is standing!"
I threw back my head and swilled down the paga. The meat, red and hot, was brought, and I tore it in my teeth, the juices running at the side of my mouth.
The blood and the paga were hot and dark within me. I felt the heat of the meat.
I threw from me the goblet of gold. I tore the meat and finished it.
Samos turned away from the girl. He indicated to me a man who sat at a far end of one of the low tables. He did not drink wine or paga. The man, rare in Port Kar, wore the kaffiyeh and agal. The kaffiyeh is a squarish scarf, folded over into a triangle, and placed over the head, two points at the side of the shoulders, one in back to protect the back of the neck. It is bound to the head by several loops of cord, the agal. The cording indicates tribe and district.
We went to the man. "This is Ibn Saran, salt merchant of the river port of Kasra," said Samos.
"Paga," called a man.
I hurried to him, carrying the large bronze vessel of paga, on its strap about my shoulder.
"Sul paga!" cried Thurnus, pounding on the small table with his great staff.
"Be quiet," said a fellow at a nearby table. He was drinking with some five companions.
"Sul paga!" shouted Thurnus, pounding on the table.
"Be silent!" said some fellow at another table.
"Sul paga! Sul paga!" cried Thurnus. The great staff banged on the table.
Busebius rushed to the table. "Master," said he, "we have many pagas, those of Ar and Tyros, and Ko-ro-ba, and Helmutsport, and Anango, and Tharna!"
The pagas mentioned by Busebius were all, of course, Sa-Tarna pagas, of various sorts and localities, varying largely in the blend.
"Sul paga!" demanded Thurnus. Sul paga, as anyone knew, is seldom available outside of a peasant village, where it is brewed. Sul paga would slow a tharlarion. To stay on your feet after a mouthful of Sul paga it is said one must be of the peasants, and then for several generations. And even then, it is said, it is difficult to manage. There is a joke about the baby of a peasant father being born drunk nine months later.
"Sul paga!" shouted Thurnus.
"Silence!" cried a brawny fellow, some two tables away.
"Please, Master," said Busebius, "we do not have Sul paga here."
The beast returned from the cabinet with two glasses and a bottle.
"Is that not the paga of Ar?" I asked.
"Is it not one of your favorites?" he asked. "See," he said. "It has the seal of the brewer, Temus."
"That is remarkable," I said. "You are very thoughtful."
"I have been saving it," he told me.
"For me?" I asked.
"Of course," he said. "I was confident you would get through."
"I am honored," I said.
"I have waited so long to talk to you," he said.
He poured two glasses of paga, and reclosed the bottle. We lifted the glasses, and touched them, the one to the other.
"To our war," he said.
"To our war," I said.
I smiled. "Of course not," I said. "Do you have the paga of Ar, of the brewery of Temus?"
"Woe," smiled Shaba. "We have here only Schendi paga, but I think it is quite good. It is, of course, a matter of taste."
"I will use the one in that alcove," I said to Tasdron, flinging down a tarsk bit on the stained counter.
"She is yours," said Tasdron, wiping a paga goblet with a large, soft cloth.
"Once I was captain in Port Cos," he said. "Indeed it was I who once drove the band of Policrates from the vicinity of Port Cos." He looked up at me. "But that was long ago," he said. I no longer remember that captain. I think he is gone now."
"What occurred?" I asked.
"He grew more fond of paga than of his codes," he said. "Disgraced, he was dismissed. He came west upon the river, to Victoria."
"Zarendargar may need my assistance," I said. "I may be able to aid him."
"But why, why?" he asked.
How could I explain to Samos the dark affinity I shared with one whom I had met only in the north, and long ago, with one who, clearly, was naught but a beast? I recalled the long evening I had once spent with Zarendargar, and our lengthy, animated conversations, the talk of warriors, the talk of soldiers, of those familiar with arms and martial values, of those who had shared the zest and terrors of conflict, to whom crass materialisms could never be more than the means to worthier victories, who had shared the loneliness of command, who had never forgotten the meanings of words such as discipline, responsibility, courage and honor, who had known perils, and long treks and privations, to whom comfort and the hearth beckoned less than camps and distant horizons.
"Why, why?" he asked.
I looked beyond Samos, to the canal beyond. The urt hunter, with his girl and boat, rowing slowly, was taking his leave. He would try his luck elsewhere.
"Why?" asked Samos.
I shrugged. "Once," I said, "we shared paga."
A comment, or two, might be in order on this list of prices. First, it will be noted that they are not typical. In many inns, depending on the season, to be sure, and the readiness of the keeper to negotiate, one can stay for as little as two or three copper tarsks a day, everything included, within reason, of course, subject to some restraint with respect to paga, and such.
For purposes of comparison, in many paga taverns, one may have paga and food, and a girl for the alcove, if one wants, for a single copper tarsk.
"Paga and bread are two tarsks," she said. "Other food may be purchased from three to five tarsks."
"Is the paga cut?" I asked.
"One to five," she said.
"I do not suppose," I said, "that if one orders the porridge, the bread and paga comes with it?"
"No," she said.
In a few moments she returned through the door bearing a tray. She knelt near the table, put the tray on the floor, unbidden performed obeisance and then, as though submissively, put the tray on the table, and put the paga, in a small kantharos, and the bread on its trencher, before me. Then she put the bowl of porridge, with a spoon, before me. She then withdrew, taking the tray, put it to the side, on the floor, again performed obeisance, unbidden, and then knelt back, as though in attendance. There had been something false in her subservience.
I looked at her, narrowly.
She did not meet my eyes.
I took a sip of paga, and then sopped some bread in it, and then ate it.
I did not raise my eyes but appeared to be concerned with the paga. I heard him make a sound of contempt. I wondered if he noted that my hand closed more tightly upon the base of the kantharos. I should try to control that. I think I myself might have noticed it, in the movement of the upper arm. He stood there, a few feet away. I began to feel insulted. Heat rose in my body. I controlled myself. Surely that is what Dietrich of Tarnburg would have done. I did not look up.
Warriors, of course, are trained to rely upon peripheral vision. If he approached me too closely, coming within a predetermined critical distance, I could dash the paga upward into his eyes and wrench the table up and about, plunging one of the legs into his diaphragm. Then in a moment I could have him under my foot or upon my sword. Some authorities recommend breaking the kantharos into shards on the face, taking the target above the bridge of the nose with the rim. This can be even more dangerous with a metal goblet. Many civilians, I believe, do not know why certain warriors, by habit, request their paga in metal goblets when dining in public houses.
"Let slaves present themselves!" called the fellow, lifting his vessel of paga.
"The parade of slaves!" called a man. "The parade of slaves!"
"Yes, yes!" called others.
"Come here," he said, indicating a place on the dirt before him. She did not dare to rise to her feet. She went to her hands and knees that she might crawl to the spot he had specified.
"Hold," I said, rising.
All eyes turned toward me, startled.
"She is serving me," I said.
There were cries of astonishment.
"Beware, fellow," said a man. "That is Borton!"
"As I understand the common rules of a paga tavern, under which governances I understand this enclosure to function, I have use of this slave until I see fit to relinquish her, or until the common hour of closing, or dawn, as the case may be, unless I pay overage. Alternatives to such rules are to be made clear in advance, say, by announcement or public posting."
"She was not serving you!" said a fellow.
"Were you serving me?" I asked the slave.
"Yes, Master," she said.
"And have I dismissed you from my service?" I asked.
"No, Master," she said.
My master extended his cup to me, and I, kneeling, filled it with Sul paga. I pressed my lips to the cup, and handed it to him. My eyes smarted. I almost felt drunk from the fumes.
Sul paga is, when distilled, though the Sul itself is yellow, as clear as water. The Sul is a tuberous root of the Sul plant; it is a Gorean staple. The still, with its tanks and pipes, lay within the village, that of Tabuk's Ford, in which Thurnus, our host, was caste leader.
"Excellent," said my master, sipping the Sul paga. He could have been commenting only on the potency of the drink, for Sul paga is almost tasteless. One does not guzzle Sul paga. Last night one of the men had held my head back and forced me to swallow a mouthful. In moments things had gone black, and I had fallen unconscious. I had awakened only this morning, ill, miserable, with a splitting headache, chained with the other girls.
"Give me of drink," said Thurnus to me.
"Yes, Master," I said. I took the flask of Ka-la-na to him.
Thurnus looked at me, and grinned. "I said, 'Give me of drink,' small beauty," he said. He emphasized the word 'drink.'