Tuesday, August 16, 2011

30. Tor Conan #8, Conan the Valorous by John Maddox Roberts, part 2

Nemedia now dwindling into the distance behind him, Conan enters the Border Kingdom. It's a Kingdom in name only, the only law present is what steel buys. He comes across the smoldering remains of a village, barely enough left even for crows to fight over. Soon, he is hailed by a woman, a warrior chieftain named Aelfrith. Those were her people who were slaughtered, though many escaped to her fastness. She offers Conan hospitality for the night, and he accepts and follows her and her band back to the fortress.

Conan tries to avoid becoming embroiled in her conflict. He thanks her for the food and shelter, and heads north the following day. Less than a day's ride he comes across a group of slavers, he overhears them talking about kidnapping a person he assumes to be Aelfrith. Knowing this he heads back to her fortress, upon ariving he finds out that the slavers had already struck, but not to take Aelfrith. They were paid by another chieftain to steal her daughter. She hopes to convince Conan to help her rescue the girl.

Conan agrees, he feels he owes her that much at least for the meal, and he has a special enmity towards child stealers. The two set out towards this rival chieftain's camp, splitting up and sneaking inside. Aelfrith quickly gets captured and brought in front of the man who has her daughter. While this is going on, Conan tries to formulate a plan to get them all out alive. Things go well for a while but quickly turn south. Before the day is out Conan has to fight his way through a score or more of warriors, and a rampaging bull.

Thankfully though he has some experience in dealing with bulls, and upon dispatches the beast effects his rescue of Aelfrith and her child. The three then head back to Cragfall fortress, and Conan sets about planning out his departure and return to Cimmeria.

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