Caste of Bounty Hunters
Here are relevant references from the Books where the Caste of Bounty Hunters is mentioned.
While not specifically titled a Caste, this group is mentioned along with others that are.
I make no pronouncements on these matters, but report them as I find them.
Arrive at your own conclusions.
I wish you well,
Marcus and I moved very slowly, our faces darkened, on our bellies, through the grass, approaching the fellow's position from opposite sides. We had, the previous night, reconnoitered this area. There were five such positions, and a hut a few hundred yards to the back, where the bounty hunters kept their grisly trophies. Two nights ago, wading, we had reconnoitered the edge of the swamp. There, in the rence, near the delta's edge, we had found two bodies, half afloat, partly rotted, partly eaten, presumably by small fish and tharlarion. The bounty hunters would apparently discard the bodies in the swamp, after they had removed the heads, these to be presented for bounty fees. One of the bodies we had found had been that of a Cosian. Bounty hunters are not always particular about the heads they collect, and their paymasters usually, of course, have no way of telling the head of a fellow of Ar from that, say, of a Cosian or rencer.
We were both in garments removed from bounty hunters. They would need them no longer. The cloak of one, hooded, was about me.
"He is a bounty hunter," laughed a fellow.
"You will not have much of a chance to get your capture rope on her," said another.
"Every bounty hunter on Gor will seek her," said another.
"Where would she go? How would she escape capture?" asked another. "I wager she is already captured, and her hunter is pondering how he might get her safely to Ar."
"He may be negotiating for a better price, even now," said another.
Every bounty hunter on Gor, professional or amateur, would seek the Ubara.
"'Lady Portia Lia Serisia of Sun Gate Towers'," she suggested.
"That should draw in bounty hunters," I said, "like zarlit flies to honey, urts to cheese, sharks to blood."
"Woe to the slut," laughed a fellow. 'Thousands before, hundreds even now, of bounty hunters," said a man, "in hundreds of towns and cities, in hundreds of hamlets and villages, seek the former Ubara, Talena of Ar."
Bounty hunters are commonly low warriors, men without Home Stones, brigands, assassins, villains, thieves, reprobates, the recklessly impecunious, gamblers, the dishonored.
He then asked me, as he always did, if there was news of Talena of Ar.
"Very little that is definite, Master," I said. "I have heard that she has been seen in Tabor and Anango, and in Bazi, and in the valley of the Ua, and in far Skjern, and that she has been apprehended by a dozen bounty hunters who scheme to keep her capture secret, lest she be stolen from them, before she can be brought to Ar. And I have heard that four bounty hunters have already brought women to Ar, claiming them to be Talena. But I have heard, too, that she is protected, and safe, in Cos, received as a refugee by the glorious Lurius of Jad."
With the restoration of Marlenus of Ar and the bloody rising of Ar's vengeful citizenry, Talena's regime had crumbled, and Talena herself had disappeared. I recalled that an enormous reward had been posted for her capture, ten thousand tarns of gold, tarn disks of double weight. Should such wealth not suffice to purchase cities? At least it might form fleets and raise armies. Now, apparently, despite hundreds of bounty hunters and vast searches, she had arrived safely in Cos.
"Bounty hunters are plentiful, frustrated seekers are desperate, human sleen await scent, failed soldiers of fortune despair of their fees," said the beast. "Recruit them."
"Rumors have wings, even at sea," said the newcomer. "They soon reach far ports."
"What rumors?" asked Florian.
"Say," said the newcomer, "that Talena, the traitress Ubara, sought by the justice of Ar and a thousand bounty hunters, has been located."
Thus, I gathered, that the men of Seremides, including Vas of Anango, did not realize the importance of their rescued prisoner, did not understand that they had in hand the fabled, muchly sought Talena, sought by a thousand bounty hunters, she who had once been the Ubara of Ar.
"I had thought that she was safely housed in Cos, as the guest of her former ally, the Ubar of Cos, Lurius, of Jad."
"We generated that rumor, to slow or stop the search for her, to dismay and discourage hundreds of bounty hunters and gangs of bounty hunters, to keep her safer and to divert the search from the continent. Similarly, others had concealed her for a time at the World's End, where Bosk of Port Kar acquired her, and returned her to the continent."
"There is some relationship between Captain Bosk and Adraste," I said.
"Formerly," said Addison Steele. "She was once his Free Companion, but that was long ago, and the companionship is dissolved if not renewed annually. Too, slavery dissolves such a relationship. One cannot be both a Free Companion and a slave."
"Does Bosk still care for her?" I asked.
"I do not know," said Addison Steele. "She was cruel, arrogant, and an arch villainess. I am sure, however, that he does not wish her apprehended by bounty hunters and taken to Ar, to be subjected to lengthy tortures and the eventual impalement of what might then be left of her living body."
"At least," I said, "Adraste, or Talena, will now be safe."
"Do you think so?" he said.
"Certainly," I said. "Now secure, now honored, now cherished by her ally, Lurius of Jad, she need no longer fear recognition and seizure, the relentless pursuit of bounty hunters, the chains of guardsmen, the justice of Ar, the wrath of Marlenus, tortures and impalement."
"It is over," said Samos, "though many do not know it. Indeed, as soon as her capture becomes common knowledge, no longer will bounty hunters, and gangs of bounty hunters, in their hundreds, with swords and flaming brands, scour towns, cities, villages, and camps for the elusive Talena of Ar.
Port Kar was far from Ar and the major cities of Gor; it was also a polity which retained something of its former reputation as a dangerous den of pirates and thieves; might not a stranger then, say, a bounty hunter, find himself at risk in such a place; too, surely it would seem an unlikely place in which to seek the proud, regal Talena of Ar; too, who would suspect that a common, even if unusually beautiful, tavern girl, one so publicly displayed to the frank, lustful scrutiny accorded to such properties, might be identical with so desiderated a prize?
Unbeknownst to my men, or to Seremides at that time, other bounty hunters, including bestial Kurii, were attempting to locate Talena by means of tracking Seremides.
"How is it," I asked, "that the brilliant Seremides, swift with the blade, formidable in war, marvelous in strategy, captor of the fugitive Ubara, Talena, resides in a hovel, alone, limited in resources, seemingly destitute?"
"Destitute," he said.
"I do not understand this," I said. "It was you, of all the bounty hunters, who were successful. You pursued Talena relentlessly. A sleen, so tenacious in tracking, might have been shamed to compare itself with you. You generously expended time and effort. You courted danger. Yours were the months of seeking, even at the World's End. Yours were the labors, the risks, and perils, and the final triumph, the capture of Talena, and now I find you here, so reduced."
"I would suppose not," I said. "There must be many such. Surely there must remain hopeful, persistent bounty hunters, brigands and bandits unwilling to forget gold, reluctant to admit defeat, men unreconciled to the triumph of Cos, men willing to row swift ships, to swarm upon caravans, to watch the skies for wide-winged tarns."
Do you wish to attract the attention of every bounty hunter, thief, and rogue on Gor to the palace of our beloved and glorious Lurius, the wise, compassionate, and noble ruler of Cos?
"They must wait, too, in any event," said Xenon, "to let the wagons, a marvelous diversion and decoy, mysterious and well armed, move away from the coast, drawing bounty hunters after it like zarlit flies to honey."
"Aetius of Venna, the bounty hunter, he of the scar, encountered near the village of Red Stream, by the camp of the great caravan, will have brought the false Talena to Ar," said Xenon. "I do not think he will be well disposed towards us."
"When Marlenus posted the reward for Talena," said Seremides, "he could not have anticipated, of the thousands of bounty hunters seeking her, that she might fall into the grasp of Lurius of Jad."
I had feared he knew he who was Seremides of Ar, proscribed traitor to Ar, on whom there was a bounty of a hundred tarns of gold, of double weight. I guessed that even Lurius of Jad had not known with whom he dealt, but had only known Seremides as the promising bounty hunter, Bruno of Torcadino, whose efforts he had agreed to subsidize.
"Yes," said Seremides. "I well recall them. Addison Steele was allied, I thought, with a mysterious bounty hunter encountered in the marshes."
"The bounty hunter," I said, "was Pa-Kur, Master of the Assassins."