Friday, August 5, 2011

28. Bantam Conan # 5, Conan and the Spider-god by L. Sprague DeCamp, part 2

After several more days of riding, Conan finds himself before the gates of Yezud. He requests to speak to the man who does the hiring, but tonight the gates are closed. He is told to return tomorrow. He goes back to the town of Keshron and stays in the inn. Returning the next morning and soon finds himself employed as a blacksmith. He knows somewhat of the skill thanks to years spent helping his father. He also inherits the bellows boy from the previous smith, a young man named Lar, son of Yazdates, Who is eager to learn the smithing trade.

Since the town is not furnished with an inn, Conan makes arrangements to take his meals with the boys family. He learns the older sister is a temple girl, and asks the boy to take him to the temple one day. He needs to learn the rituals of Zath, as part of his job requires him to attend no less than thrice a month. Meeting the temple girls is a good by product as well. For now though, they must get back to work. Horses need shoeing and nails need making.

Later in the week, when Lars family attends temple, Conan accompanies them. Lar explains the various rituals of Zath worship to the smith, but the smith only has eyes for the giant gemstones embedded in the statue of Zath. He makes a few discreet inquiries about them, but isn't able to find out what mode of gem they are. He will just have to come back later and find out for himself. This evening he goes back to Keshron to wash the dust of the smith out of his throat with a few jacks of wine.

Weeks pass, the smithing trade is an easy one for a capable man of sound strength and Conan excels at it. He goes to temple on schedule, always learning more each time about the inner workings. Working towards his goal of the gems. On one occasion even learning how the oil fires are replenished through pipes from a central cistern. He also makes regular visits to Keshron to have his fill of ale. Perhaps too regular. On one occasion he is approached by a man who knows who he really is.

This man is Parvez, something of a diplomat from Turan. It seems that one of the emperors daughters has been kidnapped and is being held for ransom by the priests of Zath. Perhaps the rescue of the girl would get Conan back in Yildiz's good graces after the unpleasantness back in Agraphur. Conan agrees to do what he can, but demands 100gold coins in payment.. half now.. half later. He also bargains for a bauble which Parvez possesses. It's something of a magical lockpick, and will no doubt come in handy.

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