Finally on their way to defeat the dark magician and his demon cohort, Conan, Vitarius, Eldia and her sister Kinna have ridden some way from the Corinthian city of Mornstantadinos. On their wanderings, Conan recounts his recent journeys to the young girl Eldia to entertain her.* Interupting his tall tale telling, Kinna mentions they will have to leave the road soon and make their way through the mysterious Bloddolk Forrest.
They make camp for the night. Conan wonders if the Witch will pursue him this far from the city, and decides the likelihood is good. They begin to traverse the forest in the morning, and are espied by the woodsmen who make it their home. They make fairly good time, all the while learning of the flora which is native to the forest but seldom found elsewhere. After a hard day of trail blazing they reach a clearing and decide to camp.
That night, Conan awakes to muffled screams, the Demon he had behanded earlier and who's sister was the Witch who attempted to murder him in Mornstandinos had caught up to them. Two nights of camping was obviously too much. The Demon disarms Conan, and plans to play with his prey before the kill, but Vitarius the mage throws Conan a new weapon. The Mummified and preserved hand of the Demon. Conan uses it too great effect, and sends the creature back to whence it was summoned. Somewhere, Djuvala the Witch wakes in a cold sweat, her brother is no more. She will have to deal with the troublesome barbarian herself, once and for all.
After the previous nights escapades, the party packs early and begins once more their journey through the forest. After some hours have passed they stop for a bite and Conan learns somewhat of the nature of Vitarius magic. The old man continues talking while they pack up and leave the clearing behind them. Theres still a good bit of daylight left, and unbeknown to them the more miles they cover, the more they have between them and the pursuing Djuvala.
As they continue on, they come to the edge of Sovartus' Holdings in the Dodlinga plains. In the center of this vast land stands the Castle Slott, Sovartus' keep. And it is there that he has the other three Children of the Elements held captive. They accidentally trigger a ward, laid by Sovartus around his domains alerting him to their presence. He comes and makes off with Elidia, the last elemental child he needs and her sister takes off after her. To make matters worse, their head start proves to be insufficient as Djuvala falls on Conan and Vitarius in the night, Vitarius is slain buying Conan time to escape, but he manages to do severe damage to the witch and hold her off so Conan can make his way to Castle Slott. The time of reckoning is near, and Conan feels that no man worth his salt lets a debt slide without repaying it.
* This is a brilliant thing, Though a throw away line no doubt, It's going to allow us to put all of the bizarre adventures Conan has had in the previous 4 Steve Perry books and even maybe the re-animated king from 'The Thing in the Crypt' into a rough new framing sequence. He's making them up to amuse a child, every bit as much as Cimmerians would no doubt have done on dark nights to amuse themselves. Suddenly it all makes sense. Especially when one takes into account that, Conan having fought demons and their like before.. this story is not particularly out of place. It's certainly not got selkies and talking bats in it.. but childrens stories would have those things.. This of course is probably not the authors intent, but when one is dealing with material that is, at its hear, effectively nothing more than published and authorized fan-fiction.. I feel that a great deal more latitude can be taken when confronting it than when one is dealing with the original authors words. But I don't know, is this a track that should be followed or ignored when it comes time for me to craft my new chronology at the end of this project?