Sunday, July 25, 2010

10. Ace Illustrated Conan #2: Conan the Mercenary by Andrew J. Offutt, part 2

Making towards Khaurun, Conan is conversing with Khashtris who is explaining the reason which Khaurun is known as the land of the unhappy queens. Ages ago she explains, a Queen Ialamis of Khauron bedded a demon and every so often one of her descendants will bring forth a child bearing the mark of this demon. An event which has just happened, the queen gave birth to twin girls and had the one bearing the mark taken to the desert to die of exposure.. ensuring the throne for the unmarked child, the princess Taramis, who will be informed of the fate of her sister in five or so years. He confers to her the tale of his recent exploits in the "employ" of Hissar Zhul, and that if he is able to get a crowned person to break the mirror then his soul will be returned to him..and she assures him that her cousin Ialamis will do this.

During this night their camp is beset upon by the brigands who followed them from Shadizar, Shubal and Conan soundly defeat them saving Khashtris any further problems. With bloody swords the three troupe into Khaurun, and into the presence of the queen and her court. Her Daughter Taramis, court adviser Arkhaus, City governor Acralides and his son Kraladese, Sergiadus son of the duke of Tor in Nemedia. Khashtris regales the court with her adventures, and explains Conan's mission to reclaim his soul. Acralides expresses concern that it could be a trick, but the queen has faith in her cousin and shatters the mirror, Returning Conan's soul to his body with a shock like lightning.

After this, Conan and Shubal are dismissed to do their worst upon the city of Khauran and they head straight for a tavern of ill repute to do it in. During their repast of fiery sausages and alfalfa beer Conan continues to gather small bits of information, he and Shubal felt intently uneasy about the Nemedian duke's son in the royal court and wishes to know more about him. Not much is gathered except to confirm Conan's suspicions that he isn't all he makes himself out to be. On their way out of the Tavarn Shubal stops to converse with a girlfriend of sorts and one thing and another eventually leads to a minor revelation, something to do with a place known as Korveka, a breakaway barony of Khauran who's ruler wears a talisman exactly the same as the one which the noble Sergiadus is sporting in the royal court. But time enough for that another day they decide and off to find their beds for the night.

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