Monday, August 15, 2011

30. Tor Conan #8, Conan the Valorous by John Maddox Roberts, part 1

After the failed attempt to acquire the treasure of the Blood Stained God, Conan has headed east. He is now in Khorshemish, one of the major cities in Koth. He's been there about a month, slowly gambling away the remains of his Turanian gear and even his horse Ymir bought before his run in with the cult of Zath. It is at a low rent inn where his newest adventure begins. While sitting drinking wine, Conan is approached by a sultry woman. He can tell from her dress and the eye makeup she wears that she's a Stygian. She has a quest for him. Return to his homeland, travel to a certain mountain and there complete a spell. The only problem is, this particular mountain is Ben Morgh, the home of Crom. Cursing at her, he tells her he will go.

After agreeing and the woman leaves, Conan is approached by an aged Khitian fortune teller. The man explains to him that though he thinks himself a free agent, the hand of the gods are moving the chess pieces this time. The Khitian gives Conan an amulet which he claims will keep him safe, Conan laughs about it, and runs the man off. The next day he goes to the market and spends some of his payment on a new sword and a new horse. It's a long trip to Cimmeria, and he must be well prepared for any eventuality. Having been gone from his homeland for several years now its difficult to say what may have changed.

While this is happening he is also being watched, Several Vendhyans also have plans to make it to Ben Morgh, but their road is different than Conan's. They plan to head to Argos, and from there take a boat up the coast to Vanirheim. Vanirmen raid Cimmeria all the time, and they will just pay some Vanirmen to take them to Ben Morgh. It's a race, and they aim to get to Ben Morgh before Conan can.

The following day Conan sets out at first light. Conan realizes almost at once that he is being followed. The trap takes several days to spring however, and then he is in the fight of his life. He slays an Argosian and a Turanian with little effort, though he takes a wound to his shoulder. Their Gunderman captain however is a different story, and that battle lasts some time. Eventually he bests his foe, and sets off. Several more days pass before Conan, his wound now infected, makes his way through the gates of Belvarus.

He goes to see a leech, who cleans and poultices the wound. The man is afraid that some sorcery is preventing the laceration from healing and may be aiding the infection. There is only so much he can do, It's now that Conan thinks back to the Khitian fortune teller, and the amulet the man gave him. It may indeed have been the only thing that kept the noxious sorcery at bay long enough for him to make it to Nemedia and get help.

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