North for the Winter?
Nomadic peoples, Tuchuks migrate seasonally to ensure lush grazing lands for the bosk which are the key to both their culture and their survival. Since they live below the equator, Tuchuks must actually migrate North to reach more hospitable climates—a reversal of the usual “South for the winter” concept.
“In the past few months I had made my way, afoot, overland, across the equator… from the northern to the southern hemisphere of Gor…and had now come to what some call the Plains of Turia, others the land of the Wagon Peoples…” – Nomads, 2-3
This migration covers vast distances. After all, we are told that “The Wagon Peoples claimed the southern prairies of Gor, from the gleaming Thassa and the mountains of Ta-Thassa to the southern foothills of the Voltai range itself, that reared in the crust of Gor like the backbone of a planet. On the north they claimed lands even to the rush-grown banks of the Cartius, a broad, swift tributary feeding into the incomparable Vosk” (2). Migration is clearly a central aspect of Tuchuk life. As such, it is also an important aspect of our lives in Maze Tuchuk Camp, presenting us with a chance to role-play with a great level of authenticity and fun. During our online migration throughout the Plains of Webmaze and other chat sites, we often have the opportunity to visit the city of Turia and Kataii, Kassar, and Paravaci camps to add to the flavor of realism. Let us now see what John Norman has to say about migration:
“I looked in the distance, from which these fleeing multitudes, frightened men and stampeding animals, had come. There, some pasangs distant, I saw columns of smoke rising in the cold air, where fields were burning. Yet the prairie itself was not afire, only fields of peasants, the fields of men who had cultivated the soil; the prairie grass, such that it might graze the ponderous bosk, had been spared.
“Too in the distance I saw dust, rising like black, raging dawn, raised by the hooves of innumerable animals, not those that fled, but undoubtedly by the herds of the Wagon Peoples.
“…Then I began to feel, through the soles of my sandals, the trembling of the earth. The hair on the back of my neck seemed to leap up and I felt the hair on my forearms stiffen. The earth itself was shaking from the hoofs of the bosk herds of the Wagon Peoples.
”They were approaching.
“Their outriders would soon be in sight.”—Nomads, 4
“I was surprised at the distance I had been from the herds, for though I had seen the rolling dust clearly, and had felt and did feel the shaking of the earth, betraying the passage of these monstrous herds, I had not yet come to them.
“But now I could hear, carried on the wind blowing to distant Turia, the bellowing of the bosks. The dust was now heavy like nightfall in the air. The grass and the earth seemed to quake beneath my tread.
“I passed fields that were burning, and burning huts of peasants, the smoking shells of Sa-Tarna granaries, the shattered, slatted coops for vulos, the broken walls of keeps for the small, long-haired, domestic verr…
“Then for the first time, against the horizon, a jagged line, humped and rolling like thundering waters, seemed to rise alive from the prairie, vast, extensive, a huge arc, churning and pounding from one corner of the sky to the other, the herds of the Wagon Peoples, encircling, raising dust into the sky like fire, like horned glaciers of fur and horn moving in shaggy floods across the grass, towards me.
“And then I saw the first of the outriders, moving toward me, swiftly and yet not seeming to hurry.”-Nomads, 10
“Soon the animals would be turned in on themselves, to mill together in knots, until they were stopped by the shaggy walls of their own kind, to stand and graze until morning. The wagons would, of course, follow the herds. The herd forms both vanguard and rampart for the advance of the wagons.”—Nomads, 21
“I had hoped to go to Turia…but it was not to be, at least until the spring…
“The herds would circle Turia, for this was the portion of the Omen Year that was called the Passing of Turia, in which the Wagon Peoples gather and begin to move toward their winter pastures; the second portion of the Omen Year is the Wintering, which takes place far north of Turia, the equator being approached in this hemisphere, of course, from the south; the third and final portion of the Omen Year is the Return to Turia, which takes place in the spring, or as the Wagon Peoples have it, in the Season of Little Grass. It is in the spring that the omens are taken, regarding the possible election of the Ubar San, the One Ubar, who would be Ubar of all the Wagon, of all the Peoples.
“I did manage, however, from the back of the kaiila, which I learned to ride, to catch a glimpse of distant, high-walled, nine-gated Turia.
“It seemed a lofty, fine city, white and shimmering, rising from the plains.”—Nomads, 55
“The winter came fiercely down on the herds some days before expected, with its fierce snows and the long winds that sometimes have swept twenty-five hundred pasangs across the prairies; snow covered the grass, brittle and brown already, and the herds were split into a thousand fragments, each with its own riders, spreading out over the prairie, pawing through the snow, snuffling about, pulling up and chewing the grass, mostly worthless and frozen. The animals began to die and the keening of women, crying as though the wagons were on fire and the Turians upon them, carried over the prairies. Thousands of the Wagon Peoples, free and slave, dug in the snow to find a handful of grass to feed their animals. Wagons had to be abandoned on the prairie, as there was no time to train new bosk to the harness, and the herds must needs keep moving.
“At last, seventeen days after the first snows, the edges of the herds began to reach their winter pastures far north of Turia, approaching the equator from the south. Here the snow was little more than frost that melted in the afternoon sun, and the grass was live and nourishing. Still farther north, another hundred pasangs, there was no snow and the peoples began to sing once more and dance about their fires of bosk dung.”—Nomads, 58
“I had enjoyed the Wintering, but now it was done. The bosk were moving south with the coming of the spring. I and the wagons would go with them.”—Nomads, 82
"The afternoon among the wagons was a busy one, for they were preparing to move. Already the herds had been eased westward, away from Turia toward Thassa, the distant sea. There was much grooming of wagon bosk, checking of harness and wagons, and cutting of meat to be dried hanging from the sides of moving wagons in the sun and wind. In the morning the wagons, in their long lines, would follow the slowly moving herds away from Turia."--Nomads, 183-184
“The wagon began to tilt forward and then I knew we were moving down the slope toward the river bank. I could also tell that the wheels were slipping in the mud, and I heard the creak of the heavy brake being thrown forward, backing the shoe against the left front wheel rim. Then, bit by bit, releasing it, the wagon, jolting, slipped and slid forward and downward.”—Captive, 79