Friday, June 24, 2011

*Spoiler Warning* Conan the Barbarian, By Michael Stackpole Part 4

*Spoiler Warning!*

You have been warned.

Chapters 19-23

Tamara is preparing to leave the monastery on her quest to find Conan. None too soon it seems as Fassir is brought word of an army approaching. He beseeches Tamara to go, and not to look back. Only finding Conan can she right the evils that are being committed. Only Conan can save the world. So reluctantly the girl departs on her long and lonely quest.

Some time later, the monasteries defenses having been breached, Khalar Zym approaches Fassir. They are acquaintances of old and have a past together. It seems in a former life, before finding religion, Fassir had slain dozens of men, women and children who were descendants of the Acheroneon kings of old. All but one. Tamara. And it is her that Khalar Zym needs to finally revive the mask. He needs but a drop of her blood to finish the task, and he aims to get it.

Conan has reached the Shaipur pass, he feels a strange lethargy come over him. Some sort of sorcerer's ward to keep him from entering the red wastes. It's not painful, so it just takes willpower to continue on. He has that in spades. But before he makes it too far into the desert a carriage comes hurtling past him. It's being pursued by a dozen or more men all bearing the sign of Acheron. Conan sets off in pursuit of them and after a running battle finally succeeds in dispatching the riders. He approaches the occupant of the carriage, a girl, who upon seeing him explains to him that it is now his destiny to escort her to Hyrkania.

Conan at scoffs at this. He explains he dosen't plan to run, but to stand and wait for Khaler to come for the girl. Then he aims to finish what he started years ago. He dosen't have to wait long before he and Tamara are beset by Zym's forces. Khaler's Daughter Marique summons a sand-lich to slay the barbarian. While Tamara engages the liches Conan dives straight at Khalar Zym. The two banter back and forth, and realization dawns on Khaler who this madman is. The same boy he let escape years ago. He calls up his archers, screaming at them to wound the girl and kill the Barbarian.

His foes however had enough time to lay a trap. They have laced the shaipur outpost with pots of oil, and left trails of the stuff spiderwebed out. Conan shouts to Tamara and they begin to run for the sheer cliff face over looking the sea. They light the oil and then as the fire is ripping through the outpost leap over the cliff into the sea. This was the plan all along, Conan had left Artus waiting on him, and the two swim to his ship the Hornet.

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