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The mysterious Priest Kings are believed to be immortal and possibly gods. Extremely few people know the true nature of the Priest-Kings. Even almost all of the Initiates do not know their true nature. The Priest-Kings are worshiped by most Goreans, though the Lower Castes believe more in the divinity of the Priest-kings than do the High Castes. Many High Caste Goreans regard Priest-Kings not so much as masters but as potential allies. Gorean petitions and prayers to the Priest-Kings are very specific and practical.
The Priest-Kings maintain their Sacred Place deep within the foreboding Sardar Mountains. The Sardar Mountains are a wild vastness, both taboo and perilous. They are dark mountains, often crowned with ice, and nothing grows on them. A palisade of black logs encircles the Sardar, with a single towering gate of black logs bound with wide bands of brass. There is also an invisible force shield that prevents all animals from entering the mountains. The force field may affect their inner ear and cause them to lose control of their bodies. Some Goreans who are old or tired of life journey there. Sometimes young rebels go there to lodge protests, but none have ever returned.
Members of the Initiates stand guard at the gate to the Sardar. Male slaves must open the gate by wooden windlasses, a heavy burden. A huge, hollow metal bar tolls whenever someone enters the gate. The Initiates refuse few, if any, the right to journey into the Sardar. The path up the mountain is not difficult as there are well-worn paths and even stairs at points. There is even graffiti on the cliffs, left by previous visitors. It takes about four days to reach the primary entrance into the Sardar. This entrance is guarded by two white larls on chains. The chains can be shortened or lengthened by people inside the Sardar. A section of the mountain wall, about eight foot square, can roll silently back and upward to permit entrance. This entrance leads into the heart of the complex of the Priest-Kings.
The Priest-Kings are an alien race with vast technological powers. Priest-Kings brought the planet of Gor to our solar system over two million years ago. It is alleged that their own sun was dying and they needed to relocate to survive. This relocation may have been done several times in the past. At one time, the Priest-Kings were rich and filled with life. After that phase of their existence, they entered a time when their arts flourished. Then for a long time, their only passion was scientific curiosity. Now, even that lessens and they enter darker times. There are presently less than one thousand Priest-Kings on Gor.
For the most part, the Priest-Kings ignore most matters on Gor except for technology violations. They do protect both Gor and Earth from many of the predations of the Kurii. For thousands of years, the Priest-Kings have been using space ships to transport people and items from Earth to Gor. These journeys are called the Voyages of Acquisition. They have also been keeping an eye on Earth, checking to ensure that it never becomes a threat to them. They have the power to protect Gor from being observed by Earth. If Earth ever became a threat, the Priest-Kings might limit it, destroy it or leave the solar system. Before Gor came to our solar system, other alien species were brought from other worlds to Gor.
Priest-Kings resemble huge golden insects. They are nearly eighteen feet tall and about a yard wide. Like insects, they have six legs. Their two forelegs are lifted delicately in front of its body, almost level with their jaw, like hands. These forelegs are more muscular than its other four legs. They walk on four extremely long, slender, and four-jointed stalks. Priest-Kings move with a delicate, predatory grace. They can jump backward, up to forty feet. They can even walk on ceilings and walls. Each arm ends in four delicate, hooklike prehensile digits. The tips of these digits normally touch each other. There is also at the end of each foreleg, in a ball, a curved, bladed, hornlike structure that can spring forward. This is used as a weapon. There is also a small cleaning hook behind the third joint each foreleg that is used to comb its antennae.
They have a great head like a globe of gold with eyes like vast luminous disks. The head has two fragile, jointed appendages that are long and covered with short quivering strands of golden hair. Their jaws move laterally. Their blood is a greenish fluid. Priest-Kings breathe by muscular contractions in the abdomen that suck air into their system through four small holes on each side of the abdomen, the same serving as exhalation vents. Usually, breathing cannot be heard unless you are close to a Priest-King.
The eyes of Priest-Kings are compound and many-faceted, but they do not rely on them much. They are used as secondary sensors when information is not relayed by scent, their primary sense. Their antennae are their primary sensors. The antennae can also be used to detect sound vibrations but hearing is not of big importance. They do not draw a distinction between smelling and hearing. Thus they are not hampered by darkness. Priest-Kings have little or no scent of their own detectable by humans. But, there is an odor that follows them around. It is the residue of scent signals used by Priest-Kings in communicating with one another. The odor is slightly acrid, vaguely like the smell of an expended cartridge. The slightly acrid odor is a common property of all of their communications.
Communication by odor has its benefits and detriments. An odor can carry much farther to a Priest-King than a man's shout to another man. Messages can also be left if not too much time has passed. A problem though is that your messages are open to anyone. The Priest-Kings have various devices to record messages for longer times. The simplest method is a chemically treated rope of clothlike material that can hold a message scent for some time. The Priest-Kings also identify themselves by scent. They wear their rank, caste and station by scent. Their specially prepared synthetic scents can last for thousands of years. Scent dots are a form of writing that is arranged in rows making a square. They are read starting with the top row from left to right, then right to left, and then left to right and so on again. Their language has 411 characters. Their phonemes number seventy-three while English has only about fifty. Their language is thus quite complex.
Priest-Kings are usually sexless. Only the Mother of the Nest is female. In the last six thousand years, only one other female egg had been laid. The Priest-King called Sarm had destroyed all other female eggs prior to that time. A female egg resembles a gray rock, squarish but with the corners rounded. It is light and rather leathery, with a grained surface. Male Priest-Kings are only about twelve feet long, with long, slender, golden, translucent wings. In 10117 C.A., there is the first male born in eight thousand years. The Priest-king called Misk got the male egg about three hundred years ago. Male Priest-Kings have no names like the Mother, as he is seen as above such things as a name. He is not considered the Father either. There is never a Father of the Nest.
Priest-Kings have eight brains, modifications of the ganglionic net. Priest-Kings learn by the use of mnemonic plates. The information is instilled into them by machines. These plates are standardized by the Keepers of the Tradition, which once was led by Sarm. The Priest-Kings have a penchant for complexity, regarding it as more elegant than simplicity. Their basic math begins with ordinal and not cardinal numbers. Cardinal numbers are viewed as more limiting. Their syllabrary and language is complex and they won't simplify it because then they might lose some beautiful signs.
It is very difficult to slay a Priest-Kings with a sword. It would take many swings to do so. The best areas to strike are at the brain-nodes in the thorax and head. In the lower abdomen there is a dorsal organ which circulates the body fluids. But since the tissues are, on the whole, directly bathed in body fluid, injuring this organ would not produce death for at least a few Ehn. You must sever the ganglionic net to kill them. They can even regenerate lost limbs. Their own foreleg blades though can hurt other Priest-Kings. But, for over a million years, no Priest-King had ever killed another. This would change in the book Priest-Kings of Gor.
Priest-Kings can stand absolutely still, an unnerving sight. No part of their body will move at all. Their body movements though can show their emotional states. Impatience may be signaled by a tremor in the tactile hair on their supporting appendages. Boredom or a wandering of their attention may be shown by their unconscious movement of their cleaning hooks. When they are hungry, an acidic exudate forms at the edges of their jaws. When they are thirsty, there is a certain stiffness in their appendages that is evident in their movements. Priest-Kings also eat and sleep standing as they never lie down. Priest-Kings cannot tolerate the sun.
Priest-Kings spend a lot of time grooming themselves. Priest-Kings even clean each other. Their slaves may also groom them with a special grooming fork. They consider humans very unsanitary. Under the Sardar, humans are confined to certain areas of the tunnels for sanitary reasons. Priest-king slaves must bathe twelve times a day and this is called the "Duty of the Twelve Joys." They have washing booths, showers with a special washing fluid that contain a cleansing additive that is highly toxic to humans. These booths are found throughout the inside of the Sardar. It is interesting to note that the Kurii also enjoy grooming themselves.
Priest-Kings have their own translators, small circular devices hung on their necks, that are more compact than Gorean ones. They can translate their language into Gorean and vice versa. Yet some Gorean words and actions do not translate easily for the Priest-Kings. Until Tarl Cabot came to the Sardar, Priest-Kings did not know what a laugh was. They now believe it may be like when a Priest-King shakes and curls its antennae. Priest-Kings don't have a word meaning friendship. There is "Nest Trust" but this is more of a communal notion. It is a sense of relying on the practices and traditions of an institution, accepting them and living in terms of them. Nest Trust means that Priest-Kings will not betray each other.
The Nest is the name for the lair of the Priest-Kings beneath the Sardar. The Mother is the Greatest in the Nest, the only female. The High Priest Kings, also known as the High Council of the Nest, are the first five Priest-Kings that were born to the Mother. The First Born of the Nest was Sarm though he is now deceased. The Fifth Born of the Nest is Misk. The other three have previously succumb to the Pleasures of the Golden Beetle. Misk is over two million years old. The Priest-Kings say that "Only the Nest Matters" and "The Mother is the Nest and the Nest is the Mother."
The Mother is unwinged and has a huge abdomen though a head and thorax of normal size. The abdomen, if it had been swollen with eggs, would be the size of a city bus. If it is empty, it would be collapsed and wrinkled. Her color is darker, more brown, with some black stains on her thorax and abdomen. Her antennae seem unalert and limp. The Mother at the time of the novel Priest-Kings of Gor was hatched before the stabilization serums were created so it has been difficult to retard her aging. She dies during this book.
No one may see the Mother except the caste attendants and the High Priest Kings, except on the three great holidays. But even then, only Priest-Kings can view her, not the lesser races. The three great holidays are the Nest Feast Cycle of Tola, Tolam and Tolama. These holidays are respectively the Anniversary of the Nuptial Flight, Feast of the Deposition of the First Egg, and the Celebration of the Hatching of the First Egg. They occur late in the En'Kara or soon after that month. Slaves do not have to work on these holidays.
On the Feast of Tola, Gur must be given to the Mother. Gur is a product originally secreted by large, gray, domesticated, hemispheric arthropods. In the mornings, these creatures feed on special Sim plants, vine-like plants with huge, rolling leaves. At night, they are milked by slaves. Gur for the Feast is kept for weeks in the stomachs of specially chosen Priest-Kings. The Priest-Kings hang upside from the ceiling, storing the Gur in their swollen abdomens. Eventually, the Gur is thrown regurgitated into golden vessels held by special humanoid slaves, the Gur Carriers.
The Gur Carriers have torsos smaller and rounder than a human. Their legs and arms seem extraordinarily long. Their hands and feet are unusually wide. Their feet also have no toes but are disk-like, fleshy cushions on which they pad silently. On their palms is a fleshy disk. Their hands and feet can exude a secretion that allows them to walk on walls and ceilings. Their eyes are very large, perhaps three inches wide, and are round, dark and shining. They are mutations bred long ago for service in the dark tunnels and now have been preserved for ceremonial purposes and tradition.
In the Nest, all humans are slaves and are called Muls. There are other nonhuman species that are also muls. Humans have shaved bodies, except for their eyelashes. They wear purple plastic tunics, ironically the color of Ubars. Few muls wear collars. It is considered the greatest joy of Muls to love and serve Priest-Kings. Friendship between Muls is forbidden. Theft, except for some salt, is unknown in the Nest.
The primary food for Muls is Mul-fungus. It is an extremely bland, pale-whitish, fibrous vegetablelike matter. The Priest-Kings eat a similar fungus and the main difference is the smell and maybe being a bit less coarse. Muls eat four times a day. The first meal is Mul-fungus ground and mixed in water forming a porridge of sorts. The second meal is fungus is chopped into rough two-inch cubes. The third meal is fungus minced with Mul-Pellets and served as a sort of cold hash. Mul-Pellets are some type of dietary supplement. Their final meal is fungus pressed into a large, flat cake and sprinkled with a few grains of salt.
Besides Muls, there are other non-human creatures in the Nest that are not considered slaves. They are called Matoks, a designation for a creature that is in the Nest but is not of the Nest. One type of Matok is the Slime Worm. This is a long, whitish, wormlike animal that is eyeless. It has a small red mouth on the underside of its body, and inches its way along hugging the angle between the wall and floor. It was designed to be used as a sewerage device but has not done so for thousands of years. It presently scavenges on the kills of the Golden Beetle. Another Matok is the Toos, a crablike creature covered with overlapping plating. It lives on discarded fungus spores. There are some diseased Muls who have diseases that won't affect the Priest-Kings. These diseases are also considered Matoks.
One of the most unique and dangerous creatures in the Nest is the Golden Beetle, that lives in the unlit caverns beneath the Sardar caves of the Priest-Kings. This is an insect the size of a rhinoceros. Its back seems divided into two thick casings which once long ago might have been horny wings but which have fused into a thick, immobile golden shell. It has glowing eyes and its head can almost withdraw beneath the shell. It can still use its jaws when its head is beneath the shell. It has two multiple-hooked, hollow, pincer-like extensions that meet at the tips about a yard beyond its body. These suck a creature's fluids out. Its antennae are very short, curved and topped with a fluff of golden hair. There are also several long, golden strands that extend from its head over its domed back and fall almost to the floor behind it. Its bite has a paralytic venom. It hisses and can move fast but only for a brief time. Its greatest weapon is that it exudes an odor, somewhat oppressive, that induces sleep in people nearby. This is even effective on Priest-Kings. Its primary food is Priest-Kings. It lays its eggs, each about the size of a fist, in a host. The egg has leathery shell and the baby is the size of a child's turtle. The host will not die if the eggs are removed before they hatch.
The Priest-Kings consider it a great crime to kill one. Priest-Kings will not resist the lure of the Golden Beetle and many have died by them over millions of years. Some Priest-Kings who tire of living seek out the Beetles to meet their final fate. During the Nest War, a large number of Beetles were released and they killed numerous Priest-Kings, including Sarm.
The Priest-Kings possess fantastic technological marvels. They have had millions of years to research and develop such items. Their technology is greater than that of the Kurii. The Priest-Kings have been able to hold off the Kurii from conquering Gor and Earth for about twenty-thousand years. It should be noted though that the present Kurii are not as technologically advanced as they once were. The apex of their technology was about forty twenty thousand years ago and was largely destroyed during their internecine wars.
Priest-Kings discovered the secret of cell replacement without deterioration. This is similar to the Gorean stabilization serums but much better. Unless they meet with injury, accident or the Golden Beetle, they cannot die. Some Priest-Kings are over one million years old. The oldest Gorean on the other hand is at best about five hundred years old. Priest-Kings do not believe in an afterlife. They know the Nest will go on though so they do not fear death. They do not even want to live forever because they feel that then the Nest would be eternal and it could not be loved the same.
One Priest-King, Kusk, has discovered ways to create humans. In one method, he synthesized a human, forming it molecule by molecule over a period of two hundred years. It was built during his leisure from his serious biological investigations. Genetic manipulation, artificial control and alteration of the hereditary coils in gametes can also be used to create humans. They consider it immoral though to synthesize a Priest-King.
The Priest-Kings use manned and unmanned spaceships for a variety of reasons. Some are used in their voyages of acquisition. Others are used to defend the planets from the ships of the Kurii. Others are used to monitor Gor and Earth. Their spaceships are different from the Kurii ships. Priest-King ships are larger and silver colored. Kurii are smaller and black colored. And, Kurii ships have observation apertures which Priest-King ships lack.
Priest-Kings have a brain scanner that can record the patterns of your brain and your memories on a metal plate. It actually records three-dimensionally the microstates of the brain. If it is done well, the result becomes better than a fingerprint. They have even developed a partially gravitationally resistant metal. This is used to create transportation disks for within the Nest.
The Priest-Kings even have some incredibly deadly and destructive weapons stored away. One such weapon is a silver tube that is a charged, cylindrical weapon that uses principles like the Flame Death mechanism. They had been encased in plastic quivers for centuries. But once opened, they were as ready to use as if they were new. They were used by Sarm and his allies in the Nest War. Another weapon used during the Nest War involved gravitational disruption. This is forbidden even to Priest-Kings as it could destroy the planet. That type of weapon almost destroyed Gor.
Priest-Kings of Gor details Tarl Cabot's visit with the Priest-Kings and the Nest War that occurs at that time. There is a rivalry between two of the High Priest-Kings, Sarm and Misk. Misk is hiding a male Priest-King, the first one born in 8000 years. Sarm would kill the male Priest-King if he knew where he was. The Mother is dying and the Nest is endangered. There is a female egg that has been hidden away as well. Sarm would like to seize control of the Nest. The Mother wants Tarl to help the Nest by locating the female egg that is now outside the Sardar. After her death, the War of the Nest begins as Sarm and his allies attempt to destroy Misk and his allies. Misk is greatly outnumbered at first but the Muls and Gur Carriers ally with Tarl and Misk. Sarm uses ships with gravitational disruptors, releases diseases and unleashes over two hundred Golden Beetles to destroy Misk. Sarm is eventually defeated but not before he tries to destroy the Power Plant and all of Gor. Sarm is killed by a Golden Beetle.
After the Nest War, there are few slaves in the Sardar, except for those who betrayed Misk during the war. The Scanning Chamber is inoperable for a time. The Priest-Kings are weakened and though rumors reach the Kurii, the rumors are not fully believed. The Priest-Kings must rebuild much and it is unknown their present status.
Priest-Kings prefer humans to live in isolated communities. This makes it easier to observe men and prevent the development of science that could become a threat. Sometimes, the Priest-Kings destroy a random city to teach the might of the Priest-Kings and to encourage obeying their laws. The Priest-Kings also enforce their Technology and Weapon Laws to control Gor. They have a series of spaceships that monitor the surface of Gor for violations. If they locate a violator, he receives the Flame Death. A blue flame disintegrates that person.
Though the Priest-Kings protect the Earth from the Kurii, they feel that the Earth will destroy itself within a one thousand years. It is difficult to recruit Gorean men to work on Earth so natives are used by Priest-Kings and Kurii. It is unknown why the Priest-Kings did not do more to limit Earth's technological development. It may have been a matter of inadequate resources, not enough to monitor two planets.
On Gor, the Priest Kings have numerous agents working for them. Most do not know many other of the agents as a security precaution. The majority of agents are engaged in surveillance and intelligence. The house of Samos in Port Kar is a headquarters which many agents report to. It also coordinates and directs agents. It is a clearing house for information which goes to the Sardar. There are likely other such headquarters, with lower profiles. The primary purpose of these agents is to monitor Gor. This monitoring is to protect against the Kurii, technology violations and much more. Tarl Cabot is the most famous of their agents though currently the Priest-Kings wish him captured for unknown reasons.
People say that the Priest Kings bring a warrior to Gor every thousand years to change the world. Tarl Cabot was brought to Gor to do so. He was tested by being sent against Ar and then tested again by being asked to recover the female egg of the Priest-Kings. He has also fought against several plots of the Kurii. But, out of honor and the camaraderie of warriors, he chose to warn a Kur general of an assassin squad out to kill him. That caused concern amidst the Priest-Kings and they asked for Tarl to be brought to them, calling him a traitor. That storyline has yet to be resolved.
Partial Description of Areas in the Nest
1. Most of the Nest is lit by energy bulbs for the non-Priest-Kings in the Nest. Priest-Kings do not require lights.
2. The primary entry hall leads to a large, plain room. The ceiling has a perfect dome, at least one thousand yards in diameter. It is made of an unknown transparent substance and the sky can be seen above the dome. In the room is a high dais, with nine steps, and on this is a large throne carved from a single block of stone. A tile ring surrounds the throne. The ringed has a force field that burns with a great heat. A spear thrown at it explodes in a burst of heat and all that is left is some soot and drops of melted bronze. There is a secret passage behind the throne.
3. Three gongs are rung to signify nighttime in the Nest. At that time, the energy bulbs are dimmed and the Priest-Kings walk the halls. This is a frightening time for some of the muls.
4. There are Chamber Slave rooms that are about forty feet square. Each such room contains a slave who must remain in the room. Outside each room is a number which is the number on the slave's collar. She is the slave of whoever is in the room. They wear long white gowns. The rooms include a stone sleeping platform, about twelve feet square, with sleeping belts, sheets of silk and a couple silk cushions. The walls are of plain dark stone with energy bulbs. At least one of the bulbs contains a spying device to monitor the room. There are no windows or doors. There is only an open portal about twelve feet wide and eighteen feet high. Each side of the portal has three rounded red domes, each about four inches wide. When a slave in the room gets to within a yard of the portal, the domes glow. If the slave tries to pass through the portal, she will die horribly. The domes can even detect through metal. But, they can be smashed and broken so they won't work anymore. There are usually two or three large chests in the room. There is a drain in one corner. A glass disk in the wall operates the water. When you move your hand past it, water emerges from a concealed aperture. The speed of your hand determines how much water you get. You get hot water by moving your hand left to right and cold water the other way. You can also wave your hand to open a circular panel where dirty towels are placed. There are storage areas for food similarly hidden and opened. Food is stored in a foil of blue plastic.
5. The Hall of the Chamber Slave rooms is lit with energy bulbs. The rooms are about fifty yards apart and staggered so the girls cannot see each other. Most of the rooms are usually empty.
6. There is an elevator on the first level of the complex that descends to the tunnels of the Priest-Kings. The elevator travels for four to five minutes. It ends on a high, railed platform overlooking a vast circular artificial canyon lined with bridges and terraces. In the canyon and on the terraces are many geometrical structures of various sizes, colors and illuminations. Some have windows and others have many levels. There are many tunnels that lead out of the canyon. This area is the beginning of the Nest. A great ramp spirals down from the elevator to the canyon floor.
7. The scent-tape room is a long room and its walls are covered with thousands of tiny illuminated knobs. Priest-Kings pull out the knobs, which are attached to slender cords, and pass them between their antennae. They then can read the messages there.
8. The dissection chambers are the place where slaves go to die as punishment. For certain offenses, muls are given a record scar. If you acquire five scars, you are sent to be destroyed. The scar is put on your scent tape and an odor on your tunic.
9. The Hall of Processing is used to protect the Nest from contamination. There are several doors down the hall, each with the outline of a certain creature. There are scent dots on the top of each of those doors to identify the type of creature that must go through that door. Each door is for a different species. When you step through a door, the first room you encounter is a large, bleak chamber coated with plastic. It is bare except for several metal disks in the wall at one end and a transparent shield. A Priest-King watches through the window, the disks slide upward and metal arms come out. The metal arms grab and hold you while other arms strip your clothes and force a laxative pellet into your mouth. You are then put into a metal cage with a double floor. The higher one consists of narrow bars and you sit on wide mesh. The lower has a white plastic tray. Within two or three minutes, your bowels void into the white tray. The tray is then taken away. Your cage is then moved on a track through an opening in the right wall. The cage is submerged in various solutions of various temperatures and densities. It is then blasted with hot air. Finally, it is bathed in wide-beam rays of colored lights which kill various organisms that can infect the Priest-Kings. The last known instance of these organisms though was four thousand years ago.
10. In the Scanning Room, a few hundred Priest-Kings man the scanners to watch over all of Gor. Patterns of small ships, not satellites, invisible from the ground, beam information to the Priest-Kings. The ships are in the atmosphere which helps their reception rather than a satellite from space. They do random scanning patterns. The Flame Death equipment is also kept in this room. This room is a long chamber and built on four levels.
11. There is a vivarium there, a zoo of Gorean animals and creatures from other planets. Some of these creatures are specially bred here.
12. The Fungus Chambers and the Pastures are where mul-fungus is grown and processed as food for everyone in the Nest.
13. The power source of the Nest is a great machine where the basic energy for the Priest-Kings is generated. It is a great transparent blue dome housing a huge, crystalline reticulated hemisphere. It emits a bluish, combustive refulgence. The dome is surrounded by walkways of paneling and instrumentation that are adjusted by the Priest-Kings.