Friday, June 24, 2011

*Spoiler Warning* Conan the Barbarian, By Michael Stackpole Part 5

*Spoiler Warning*

You have been warned

Chapters 24-33

Khaler lashes out at Marique, he blames her for their escape. She is weak he claims, far weaker than her mother. The two argue, and then marique turns on the surviving soldiers and levitates the mask from Khaler's hand to hover over the edge of the cliff. Instead of acting shocked or angry, he smiles and tells her how proud of her he is. Now becalmed, she gives the mask back to her father. But this family moment dosen't change that the quarry has escaped, and at this moment is sailing south down the black coast.

The plan is for Conan to head to Asgalun, and from there to Khor Khalba. Meanwhile Artus is to take Tamara to Vendhya and from there overland to Hyrkania. Conan sets off, but before long Tamara comes ashore as well. She wishes to give something to Conan. The two spend the night together, but the next day sorcery befalls them and Tamara is kidnapped. Conan sets off alone, he knows exactly who facilitated this, Marique. He also knows that the place he will find Tamara is also the place he will find Khalar Zym, Khor Kalba.

He first goes to Asgalun, he is searching for the thief Ela Shan. He finds him in a fetid watering hole in the back alleys of Asgalun. He tells the man he has come to collect the life debt he is owed. He needs to get into Khor Khalba, and there is no lock that Ela Shan cannot break. Reluctantly Ela agrees, and the two begin the trek to Khor Khalba. After picking their way through the hills the spires of Khor Khalba rear against the nights sky.

Slowly they worm their way into its deepest rooms. Dispatching any of Khaler's minions they come across, all except one supernatural horror they are incapable of defeating. The many tentacled water dwelling, Watcher (Seriously?, its called the watcher and it lives in water. Where have I read that before?) Ela shan manages to blind it with cobra venom encrusted knives, but it dosen't kill the beast. It begins to pull the fortress down in its fury, while the two men rush upstairs.

It may be too late, as Khalar has now put the girls blood on the mask, thus gaining all of its power. Conan rushes in just as Khalar puts the mask on. They hurl invective at one another, and then steel clashes with steel. The fight begins to turn against Conan, Khaler Zym's powers are far greater than he imagined. Stones pulled loose by the blinded watcher separate them, and just in time for Conan to save Tamara from the vindictive Marique.

With the daughter dead, only the father remains. But he is now filled with rage at the barbarian, and seems unstoppable. But suddenly reinforcements arrive. When Tamara failed to return to the ship, Artus and the rest of the pirates set off looking for her and Conan, after finding clues in Asgalun they set off to Khor Kalba, and just in the nick of time to save the day.

With Khalar Zym defeated, and the mask shattered, and buried under the ruined fortress, Conan parts ways with Tamara and sets off on what is sure to be further adventures.

The End.

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