These are relevant references from the Books where a Torture Rack is mentioned.
I make no pronouncements on these matters, but report them as I find them.
Arrive at your own conclusions.
I wish you well,
The man on the rack near me screamed in agony.
The two slaves near me bent to the rack windlass. There was a creak of wood, the sound of the pawl, locking, dropping into a new notch on the ratchet, a hideous scream.
I gestured for the two slaves at the rack windlass to again rotate the heavy wooden wheels, moving the heavy wooden pawl another notch in the beam ratchet. Again there was a creak of wood and the sound of the pawl, locking, dropping into its new notch. The thing fastened on the rack threw back its head on the cords, screaming only with his eyes. Another notch and the bones of its arms and legs would be torn from their sockets.
"What have you learned?" I asked the scribe, who stood with his tablet and stylus beside the rack.
"It is the same as the others," he said. "They were hired by the men of Henrius Sevarius, some to slay captains, some to fire the wharves and arsenal." The scribe looked up at me. "Tonight," he said, "Sevarius was to be Ubar in Port Kar, and each was to have a stone of gold."
"What of Cos and Tyros?" I asked.
The scribe looked at me, puzzled. "None have spoken of Cos and Tyros," he said.
This angered me, for I felt that there must be more in the coup than the work of one of Port Kar's five Ubars. I had expected, that very day, or this night, to receive word that the fleets of Cos and Tyros were approaching. Could it be, I asked myself, that Cos and Tyros were not implicated in the attempted coup?
"What of Cos and Tyros!" I demanded of the wretch fastened on the rack. He had been one who had, with his crossbow, fired on the captains as they had run from the council. His eyes had moved from his head; a large vein was livid on his forehead; his feet and hands were white; his wrists and ankles were bleeding; his body was little more than drawn suet; he was stained with his own excrement.
"Sevarius!" he whispered. "Sevarius!"
"Are not Cos and Tyros to attack?" I demanded.
"Yes! Yes!" he cried. "Yes!"
"And," I said, "what of Ar, and Ko-ro-ba, and Treve, and Thentis, and Turia, and Tharna and Tor!"
"Yes, yes, yes!" he whimpered.
"And," I said, "Teletus, Tabor, Scagnar!"
"Yes, yes!" he cried.
"And," I said, "Farnacium, and Hulneth and Asperiche! And Anango and Ianda, and Hunjer and Skjern and
Torvaldsland! And Lydius and Helmutsport, and Schendi and Bazi!"
"Yes," he cried. "All are going to attack."
"And Port Kar!" I cried.
"Yes," he raved, "Port Kar, too! Port Kar, too!"
With disgust I gestured for the slaves to pull the pins releasing the windlasses. With a rattle of cord and chain the wheels spun back and the thing on the rack began to jabber and whimper and laugh. By the time the slaves had unfastened him he had lost consciousness.
"Let the testimony of slaves be taken," said the judge.
The red-haired girl on the rack cried out in misery. The testimony of slaves, in a Gorean court, is commonly taken under torture.
Two brawny male slaves, stripped to the waist, spun the two handles on the racks.
The red-haired girl, she who had been one of the matched set of slaves, who had had in her charge the tray of spoons and sugars, wept. Her wrists, and those of the other girl, as the long wooden handles turned, were pulled up and over her head. The red-haired girl writhed on the cords. "Master!" she wept.
Ibn Saran, in silken kaftan, and kaffiyeh and agal, strode to the rack.
"Do not be frightened, pretty Zaya," he said. "Remember to tell the truth, and only the truth."
"I will, Master!" she wept. "I will."
At a sign from the judge the handle moved once, dropping the wooden pawl into the ratchet notch. Her body was now tight on the rack; her toes were pointed; her hands were high over her head, the rough rope slipped up her wrists, prohibited from moving further by its knots and the wide part of her hands.
"Listen carefully, little Zaya," said Ibn Saran. "And think carefully."
The girl nodded.
"Did you see who it was who struck noble Suleiman Pasha?"
"Yes," she cried. "It was he! He! It was he, as you, my Master, have informed the court." The girl turned her head to the side, to regard me. "He!" she cried.
"Hamid it was!" I cried, struggling to my feet. "It was Hamid, lieutenant to Shakar!"
Hamid, standing to one side, did not deign to look upon me. There were angry murmurs from the men assembled in the court.
"Hamid," said Shakar, not pleased, standing near, "is a trusted man." And he added,
"And he is Aretai."
"Should you persist in accusing Hamid," said the judge, "your penalties will be the more severe."
"He it was," said I, "who struck Suleiman."
"Kneel," said the judge.
The judge signaled again to the slave who controlled the handle of the red-haired girl's rack. "No, please!" she screamed.
Once more the handle moved and the pawl slipped into a new notch on the ratchet. Her body, now, was lifted from the network of knotted ropes and hung, suspended, between the two axles of the rack.
"Masters!" she cried. "Masters! I have told the truth! The truth!"
The pawl was moved yet another notch. The girl, now hurt, screamed.
"Have you told the truth, pretty Zaya?" inquired Ibn Saran.
"Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!" she wept.
At a signal from the judge the handle was released. The axle of the windlass at the girl's head spun back and her body fell into the network of knotted ropes. One of the slaves removed the ropes from her wrists and ankles. She could not move, so terrified she was. He then threw her to the side of a wall, where another slave, pushing against the side of her neck, fastened a snap catch on her collar, securing her by a chain to a ring in the floor. She lay there, trembling.
"Let the testimony of the second slave be taken," said the judge.
Her wrists were already over her head. She was stripped. She looked at me. She wore a collar.
"Think now, my pretty," said Ibn Saran. "Think carefully, my pretty."
She was the other girl of the matched set, the other white-skinned wench, who had had in her charge the silvered, long-spouted vessel of black wine.
"Think carefully now, pretty Vella," said Ibn Saran.
"I will, Master," she said.
"If you tell the truth," he said, "you will not be hurt."
"I will tell the truth, Master," she said. Ibn Saran nodded to the judge.
The judge lifted his hand and the handle on the girl's rack moved once. She closed her eyes. Her body was now tight on the rack; her toes were pointed; her hands were high over her head, the rope tight, taut, on her wrists.
"What is the truth, pretty Vella?" asked Ibn Saran.
She opened her eyes. She did not look at him. "The truth," she said, "is as Ibn Saran says."
"Who struck noble Suleiman Pasha?" asked Ibn Saran, quietly.
The girl turned her head to look at me. "He," she said. "He it was who struck Suleiman Pasha."
My face betrayed no emotion.
At a signal from the judge the slave at the handle of the girl's rack, pushing it with his two hands, moved the handle. When the pawl slipped into its notch her body was held, tight, suspended, between the two axles of the rack.
"In the confusion," said Ibn Saran, "it was he, the accused, who struck Suleiman Pasha, and then went, with others, to the window."
"Yes," said the girl.
"I saw it," said Ibn Saran. "But not I alone saw it."
"No, Master," she said.
"Who else saw?" he asked.
"Vella and Zaya, slaves," she said.
"Pretty Zaya," said he, "has given witness that it was the accused who struck Suleiman Pasha."
"It is true," said the girl.
"Why do you, slaves, tell the truth?" he asked.
"We are slaves," she said. "We fear to lie."
"Excellent," he said. She hung in the ropes, taut. She did not speak.
"Look now again, carefully, upon the accused."
She looked at me. "Yes, Master," she said.
"Was it he who struck Suleiman Pasha?" asked Ibn Saran.
"Yes, Master," she said. "It was he."
The judge gave a signal and the long handle of the rack, fitting through a rectangular hole in the axle, moved again. The girl winced, but she did not cry out.
"Look again carefully upon the accused," said Ibn Saran. I saw her eyes upon me. "Was it he who struck Suleiman Pasha?"
"It was he," she said.
"Are you absolutely certain?" he asked.
"Yes," she said.
"It is enough," said the judge. He gave a signal. The handle spun back. The girl's body fell into the network of knotted ropes. She turned her face to me. She smiled, slightly.
The ropes were removed from her wrists and ankles. One of the male slaves lifted her from the rack and threw her to the foot of the wall, beside the other girl. The slave there took her by the hair, holding her head down, and, between the back of her neck and the collar, thrust a snap catch, closing it. He then, roughly, burning the side of her neck, slid the catch about her collar, to the front; there he jerked it against her collar; the chain then, which fastened her, like the other girl, to a ring in the floor, ran to her collar, under her chin. She kept her head down, a slave.
I saw that Miles of Argentum did not wish to have Susan subjected to judicial torture, perhaps tormented and torn on the rack, even though it might validate her testimony and strengthen his case.
"Are you an ally, or an enemy?" asked Cabot.
"An ally," said Peisistratus, "but I have no intention of dying on a flame rack to convince you of my position in these matters."
To be sure, a slave is seldom subjected to any grievous torture, as it might lower her value. An exception is when her testimony is to be taken in a court of law. Then any slave, male or female will be placed on the rack, the theory being that this will guarantee a veracious testimony, even from the lips of a slave. What it commonly guarantees is that the slave, howling in misery or screaming through tears, will tell the judge whatever he wishes to hear.
"I fear," said Hemartius, "we must call for the rack."
In Gorean law the testimony of slaves is commonly taken under torture, the theory apparently being that this will encourage veracity.
"Dismiss the wear and tear on the ropes," I said. ''My title in the matter is clear."