Wednesday, July 13, 2011
26. Ace Conan #2.1 "The Curse of the Monolith" by Lin Cart and L. Sprague DeCamp
Having attained the rank of Captain in the Turanian army, Conan has been tasked with delivering a diplomatic letter from King Yildiz. He is taking it to the eastern kingdom of Kusan, to deliver it to their monarch. For the first time in month's he is traveling alone. Juma, his friend of many adventures has acquired a coveted post in the royal palace. All Conan got was another dangerous mission.
After hundreds of leagues, crossing deserts, skirting the foothills of the Talakma Mountains. Conan and his men had finally arrived in the land of Kusan, a kingdom to the west of Khitai. They had been receive warmly by the king, and also been given a positive reply to Yildiz's offer for a treaty of trade and friendship.
However this doesn't really sit well with Duke Feng, one of the kings Khitan advisers. The Duke wishes to dispatch the Barbarian emissary, keeping Kusan tightly bound to Khitai. The Duke feigns friendship with Conan, taking him to see the sites. He takes him to view a mound, making sure to drop plenty of hints about vast stores of treasure inside it. Seeing the interest in the barbarians eyes, he knows he has him hooked.
That night Conan returns and as he ascends the mound he feels himself being inextricably pulled towards the monolith that crowns it. soon he is stuck fast to the black stone. Soon the Duke arrives, and explains the monolith is a giant lodestone, and will hold any metal. He then pulls a small flute from his pocket and plays a note. Before long a giant gelatinous monstrosity appears, dripping acid, heading towards the monolith.
It doesn’t take Conan long to cut through the leather straps of his outfit. Leaving him free of any metal and freedom of movement also. He grabs duke feng and hurls him into the gelatinous goo. Then he strikes a fire at the base of the monolith and burns both the master and the pet. Thus ending the curse of the monolith.
Not a great tale by any stretch of the imagination, but not horrible either. It's about on par with DeCamp, and easily better than the previous story, "People of the Summit". It's nice to have a bit of closure about what happened to Juma however, he was a character that despite only showing up in one short story and one novel, I quite liked. It's really a shame that DeCamp didn't just put his effort towards writing stories about Juma, we could use a few more black Sword and Sorcery heroes. We are told that it's been about a year since Conan first entered the service of Turan, that makes him about 22.