Sunday, May 30, 2010

7. Tor Conan #22 - Conan the Formidable by Steve Perry. Part 1

Chapters 1-5

After encountering all manner of men and beasts, sorcerers, sages, monks and madmen, and a veritable menagerie of non human characters, the resourceful Cimmerian at last steps foot onto the Zamoran Plateau. He reflects on what an odd journey it has been thus far, the road level, his sandals in good shape, he hopes to make up for lost time on his road to Shadizar. But Alas, a peaceful journey is not in the cards for Conan.

Not more than a few days along his road, he is accosted by a group of bandits who wish any coin or valuables he has, and that the Six of them will be enough to force his hand. Conan reckons that they are six now, but that things change. And the fight is on, quickly becoming a route. When at the last, a huge spear buries itself in one of the bandits, and Conan looks up astounded to see, GIANTS!, Three of them.

These are friendly giants however, and one named Theyle promptly invites him back to her village, conveniently located along the road to Shadizar. Conan reckons Shadizar has waited this long.. surely another day or two wouldn't hurt. Teyle explains to Conan about their enemies, the Varg, and about their history as a people. Upon arriving in the Giant's village Conan begins to worry however due to some curious usage of language. Just as he is become convinced of something untoward, he is decked and knocked unconscious by Theyle.

Trouble unlooked for is also on its way to the giant's village. Dake and Kreg's traveling oddities are looking to acquire a Giant and a Varg or two. They need them for interbreeding purposes, since they already have a Wolfman and a Catgirl. This traveling menagerie enters the southern reaches of the swamp and finds its way to a Varg Village and succeeds in capturing one of the stunty mottled green creatures.

Raseri wakes Conan up, apologizes for the treatment, explains that no they do not plan to eat him. But they fancy themselves to be natural philosophers, and wish to know more about Conan. Theyle apologizes again for her trickery, but Conan isn't really in the mood to listen at the moment. Once left alone, he sets himself to the task of gaining his freedom. However, the hope of escape turns out to be nothing more than an illusion, a test of Conan's resourcefulness administered by Raseri.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

L. Sprague DeCamp Conan on Kindle

For those who need their Pastiche Fix but don't want to have to dive into used bookstores or amazon market place. Conan the Liberator and Conan and the Spider God are coming to Amazon's Kindle in December of 2010. I can't really see the alure or starting with these two tales as they are both pretty grotty. But its what Tor has chosen to make available, so as they say Like it or Lump it.

Conan and the Spider-God
Conan the Liberator

6. Tor Conan #21, Conan the Free lance - Part 5

Chapters 21-25

Kleg is nearly home free, but hes got some pretty ticked off Treefolk and one really ticked off Cimmerian hot on his heels. And they have some pretty perturbed Pili after them. All this is headed for a conflagration at Dimma's Fortress. The men of conan's group are enchanted by the Screeches singing, this nearly proves disastrous but quick thinking saves the day. While all of this is going on the dutiful, single minded Kralix is still hunting for Kleg. Which is now bringing it back to the fortress, as at this same time Kleg has made the western gate.

Kleg sends a small creature known as a Vund to find Dimma and alert him of his return. Just after his dispatch of the Vund, the Selkie castle guards engage in a battle with Conan and the tree folk. When suddenly the Kralix appears and begins to eat a hole through the wall of the fortress as the treefolk and Pili look on. The Vund has found Dimma and he goes to meet Kleg and retrieve the talisman and complete his re-incorporation into flesh.

A particular odor alerts Kleg as to his predicament... The Kralix is still after him! Thayla is plotting against her husband, Conan and the Treefolk are making their way through the labyrinthine corridors of the fortress and battling Selkies all the way. All of this commotion disrupts Dimma's concentration on his spell, with Pili, Selkies, Treefolk, a Bellowing Barbarian and a horrible lake monster all fighting outside your parlor door He has every right to be distracted.

Rayk, king of the Pili is slain by Thaylas Treachery, Kleg is devoured by the Kralix, Conan and the treefolk slaughter many more Selkies. Thayla maddened by Conan's presence slips and falls onto her own knife, and once more Dimma is distracted from completing his spell by the lumbering Kralix which in his anger he dispatches. With just Conan and the Tree-folk remaining of the multitudinous pursuers, the confrontation with Dimma is at hand. They interrupt him again, and with a cry of "Is there no end to this?!" he wraps the heroes in magic bonds. His concentration returned, he completes the spell and regains his fleshy form. But in doing so his magic bonds on Conan weaken and he is almost immediately slain. Bad guy slain, Treefolk talisman returned, Conan once more turns his sandled feet towards the road to his penultimate goal, Shadizar.


This volume has extensive references to the previous two Steve Perry books and "The Thing in the Crypt" which makes for a nice bit of continuity, Unfortunately it suffers from the same problems I had with the other Steve Perry books.. too many creatures which some how can talk..not to mention another obscenely large cast, at least a dozen characters and four story lines were running concurrently by chapter 3.. It's simply too busy for such a short novel.. It is however despite these problems a better book than Indomitable.. though that's not hard to achieve. This one seems to serve a purpose, where as Indomitable only purpose was to clutter up Conan's route to Zamora.. and roughly provide a way to mostly get through the mountains. This also roughly follows the same storyline as the other two perry books, Magical object on the lose, multitude of different interested parties, huge cluster of competing story lines which all comes to a frothing spitting boil-over in the last 2 chapters. This one has an especially ironic ending however.. so that's at least a plus.

I don't really want to use the word Naive to describe Perry's Conan, but he does come across as being very much like a 15 year old.. He's game for just about whatever comes his way and is not yet cynical enough to not want to help those who ask it of him. A Marked contract from some of the Conan stories... However, the scenes in which Thayla extorts sex out of the Barbarian, and then Rapes him when he is under the power of a drug are extremely revolting to me. Had it been a role reversal, It no doubt would have engendered no small amount of animosity towards Steve Perry and I wonder if Tor would even have published it.

I will give this one, *

Locations - Corinthia/Zamoran Border, Mount Turio, Crater Lake, The Pili Desert, Sargasso Sea, the magic forest,
Towns/cities - Dimmas Castle, The Treefolk Village, The Village of Karatas.
Characters - Dimma The Mist Mage, Kleg the Selkie, Seg the Witchwoman, Conan The Cimmerian, Cheen the Medicine Woman, Tree Folk: Vares, Tair, Hok, Pili: Rayk and Theyla, King and Queen of the Pili And Stal the Border Warden. Karatas the Nightwatch, Seihman the swineherd.
Languages Spoken - Cimmerian, Aesir, Hyperborean, Brythunian, Zamoran

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

6. Tor Conan #21, Conan the Free lance - Part 4

Chapters 16-20

The Tree-folk and Conan climb the walls of the village, and interrogate a few curious bystanders. They learn that the Selkies had been their, but hadn't been seen since a large creature attacked. During their entrance into the village over a side palisade, they are observed by Thayla and her cohort. She feels it necessary to dispatch Conan lest he should run into her husband. Both sides however are too late as Kleg and the swineherd are hiding in the village, Kleg bargains with the man who had found the seed over the location of it. The man of course does not know, but before Kleg can dispatch him it becomes apparent that the village is on fire. All of the parties, Tree-folk and Pili and Selkies make a run for it to avoid the burning.

Dimma, observing this conflagration from his tower shows some concern in regards his servant Kleg. Not however for his well being in so much as if he is going to manage to bring the seed back unharmed. The two fleeing groups commandeer boats to get across the lake and away from the flames, while Kleg along with the recently recovered talisman begins to swim his way across the selfsame lake.

While on the lake, Conan expresses sympathy that the Tree-folk's talisman couldn't have survived the conflagration. But Cheen expresses her knowledge that it hasn't, but is in fact below them in the lake. The Hunt still on, Conan rows towards the further shore. Thayla stumbles upon Rayk and embrace, then set out to find the selkie who has the talisman. Likewise do Conan and the tree-folk set about their journey to Dimma's Castle.

Monday, May 24, 2010

6. Tor Conan #21, Conan the Free lance - Part 3

Chapters 11-15

Hok and Conan have made their escape and reunited with the other tree folk, they cross a large oasis in the desert where they take a rest. Cheen inquires as to how Conan performed the rescue, and in exchange for telling he asks how she hopes to find the seed, to which we learn she is magically attuned.. if she can but get close enough to it she can track it anywhere. Conan recommends not staying too long at the oasis as he rightly assumes Thayla is not the type to just let them leave.

Kleg has made it to relative saftey and is nearly back to Dimmas fortress but is taking too long for Dimma's Liking. Good thing for Kleg that Dimma dosen't know he's stopped for a bite to eat and a few refreshing beverages. As Dimma has invoked some magic and called to him several mermaid like skreeches and The seamonster-esque Kralix to find Kleg and escort him back at once. Though this escort will not arrive too soon for dimmas liking, it is possible Kleg wishes it was already here. After his night of revelry the Pili under Rayk's command attack the city he is in.

Following hot on the trail of Conan and the treefolk are Thayla and her pursuit party, acknowledging that Humans have to drink water or die, they know they will stop at the oasis. Though instead of attacking them there, she opts to move on through the desert and lay an ambush for them. It is a well set ambush, exactly as Thayla wanted, but she hadn't counted on the uncanny abilities of the Cimmerian who spots three Pili crouched on the hillside a few moments before the trap is sprung.

Back at the city, Kleg is desperately trying to find a way out of his predicament. And then the Cavalry Arrives, the Pili now have to contend with The Kralix and Skreeches. Kleg though is unsure what this portends, not knowing if these creatures are friends or foes, he decides to flee during the confusion. As he prepares himself to leave, he realizes that the talisman is gone and despairs. Little does he know but a local wine sop has found the gem and plans to sell it, but before he can he to loses it.. It seems the sacred seed is now well and truly lost.

Due to Conan's warning the ambush is mostly foiled and devolves into a fairly straightforward battle. One which the Pili are on the losing end of it. Her party along with the treefolk break up after the battle and independently encounter the earlier fight between Rayk's pili and the group which Kleg had left to stall them. And the groups are now headed towards Karatas, the village which Kleg has returned to in the hopes of finding some evidence of the Sacred Seed.

Friday, May 21, 2010

6. Tor Conan #21, Conan the Free lance - Part 2

Chapters 5-10

Tair and Conan are doing their best to fight off the invaders, and to ascertain what their mission is. But the mission becomes clear all too soon when the shout goes up that the Sacred Seed has been stolen!. And with it missing, the trees of the grove will wither and the tree folk will surely perish. Kleg's hostage taking is as yet unknown to the tree folk, only being noticed after the theft of the seed itself has been discussed. The race is on to retrieve the Seed and Rescue Hok, and Conan is up for the task. The Rescue will not come too soon either, as at this very moment Kleg is bartering Hok in exchange for passage across the Pili desert.

Dimmas new found cohesiveness fades as he in the middle of enjoying an exceptionally fine Aqulionian Vintage, He fumes and curses the wizard who cursed him and Kleg for taking so long. The leader of the Pili who allowed the Selkies passage in exchange for Hok is named Stal and he is at this moment being showered with praise for his thoughtful gift.. Thayla takes interest in the new present, promising to free Hok in exchange for information.. however once its been tendered she revokes her promise and plans to sacrifice him in four days time. But Conan and a Dozen Treefolk are hot on the trail of Kleg and find the meeting place where the exchange happened.

One hundred Pili and fifty Korga are assembled to strike at the Selkies before they can deliver the Sacred Seed to Dimma, Unknown to this force they are observed heading East by Conan..He has chosen to go north to rescue Hok, rather than East to retrieve the seed, letting the other members of his group have that chore. Conan has a brief skirmish with a few outriders of the main force, but quickly gets past them and back on the trail of Hok. Thayla, Queen of the Pili is restless for the day of sacrifice to come, hoping the great dragon will reverse the misfortunes of her people in exchange for the gift..

Conan reaches the Cave of the Pili, and sneaks in stealthily even while tamping down his misgivings.. considering his recent adventures in a similar cave system.. with other foul creatures. But he came to rescue Hok, and he would do it or die trying. He is however observed by Thayla, who takes an instant liking to the Barbarian and plots to have him for herself. So she devises a way to trap him and does so.

The Pili attack force catches up with the Selkie raiding party, Kleg dispatches some dozens of his selkies to stay and fight them, promising food and females for the victors who return. Conan awakens in the same cage as Hok, Thayla interrogates him as to his purpose.. and intimates that for the proper form of payment she would be willing to let Hok go. After a time Thayla approaches and Conan awakens in the cage, they converse and he agrees to her demands without really knowing what they are. She blows a powder into his face and the next thing he remembers is awakening with Thayla standing over him intimating that he has made the payment she wanted, but under the power of a drug, Essentially speaking, she has slipped Conan a rophynol and then raped him.

Klegs plan for dealing with the lizards backfires horribly when he realizes they are using poisoned Darts, he quite smartly legs it. He curses the lizardmen all the while running for his life, his sense of self preservation some how crosses the void and alerts Dimma to his predicament.. While this is happening, Now that the queen's lust is satiated, she sleeps. Conan slips from the room, reacquires his sword, slays two guards, retrieves Hok from the cage and begins to make his escape from the lair of the Pili.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

6. Tor Conan #21, Conan the Free lance - Part 1

Conan the Free Lance, By Steve Perry - Part 1


10 million years before the birth of the first man in the mountain chain which would become the Karpash mountains, The Border between Corinthia and Zamora. It was in these mountains which a large meteorite impacted and formed Crater lake. And in the a castle on the shores of this lake was Dimma the Mist Mage and his hand crafted cohort, Kleg The Selkie. At this very moment plotting to steal some materials of value from the treefolk who dwell to the south. Materials useful for reversing the curse laid upon Dimma by an aged wizard, a Curse which makes him immaterial, literally made from mist.

Chapters 1-4

The Man was Named Conan, and he is glad to be in the open air again after his time spent in the Caves networks which dot the Karpash Mountains. His destination is the same as it has been for months, Shadizar, City of the Wicked. But his trip has taken much longer than he thought it would, He has adventured these past few months with a Woman named Elashi. Monsters, Wizards and Necromancers have bedeviled his path at every step. But he is alone again now, and happy for it, eager to make up for lost time on the long road to his terminus. But it's not to be...

A few miles further down his path, Conan comes across a woman being guarded by five dragon like creatures. The woman informs him these are Korga, the hunting dogs of the Pili. Since they aren't apt to let him pass he opts to slay them, and does so relatively easily considering they are dragons. The woman introduces herself as Cheen, the medicine woman of the Tree Folk, and then explains the Pili, who are relatives of the Korga of a sort, and explains her purpose for being in the hills, Mushroom picking. After a nights rest the two continue on their path, a path that has now taken him over the mountains into Zamora.

The Next Day, Cheen takes Conan to her village. A village in the trees, where people are born, live and die in the trees. At about this same time Kleg is heading south across the Pili infested Aranza Desert, Obviously on a collision course for Conan's new found friends the treefolk. After the treefolk's treasure also are King Rayk and Queen Theyla of the Pili, masters of the Korga beasts Conan recently slew. Concurrently Dimma has one of his rare periods of corporeality and takes the opportunity to hastily consume a meal, and copulate with his mistress Seg the witch woman.

Kleg stops his small army a few hours march from the Treefolks fastness, debating his next move. Conan is introduced to some of the other tree folk, Vares the old woman, as well as Tair and Hok, Brothers of Cheen. Theyla laments her desire to have a human male, and also her desire to extend her empire out of the scrubby desert it currently occupies.

Conan attends a ceremony for Hok, and is treated to a drugged concoction which causes him to hallucinate an instructive visit with his god Crom. This night is also the night which Kleg chooses to attack the treefolk but of course hadn't counted on Conan being there. So he resorts to taking Hok hostage, planning to use him to escape Tair and Conan, and then trade him to the Pili for safe passage. Having fulfilled his mission he flees, to return victorious to Dimma.

Monday, May 17, 2010

5. Tor Conan #20, Conan the Indomitable part 7

Chapters 22-26

Several hours later, Conan awakens from his subterranean rendezvous with Chuntha.. collecting his clothes and trying to be as silent as possible, contemplating how to get past the worms which are guarding her chamber door. He decides to bluff his way past by speaking a little Hyperborean, His ruse works on the simple creatures and he makes good his escape. Running into Wikkel and Deek on his way out, they approach him about an alliance.

Meanwhile Katamay Rey is interrogating Elashi, Lalo offers up information to prevent the torture of the girl, It just happens to be false information. Katamey leaves off to go and ascertain the veracity of lalo's information, giving a brief respite to our captured heroes. Shortly after his departure Elashi manages an escape, and begins to rummage through Rey's belongings looking for some implement with which to free the others.

Chuntha awakens to find her new toy gone, dispatching the worms which fell for his earlier bluff for their incompetence (only worms after all.. geeze) she sets off to find Conan. While this is happening, Rey is still about his fact finding, and Wikkel and Deek are explaining their plan to Conan for the dispatch of the two sorceress loons rampaging around. A series of coincidences occurs which maneuvers the wizard and witch to their unique demises and the heroes along with Wikkel and Deek ponder the meaning of all this. The four humans then leave the cave, and don't look back.

Crom, I need a stiff drink.

Location - Near the Border between Corinthia, Brythunia and Zamora, and a massive underground cavern complex.
Characters - Conan, Elashi, Lalo, Harskeel, Katamay Rey The Wizard, Wikkel The Cyclops, Chuntha The witch, Deek The Worm, Tull the hobo,
Languages Known - Cimmerian, Aesir, Brythunian, Zamoran, Hyperborean

Review -

I cannot believe I'm saying this only five stories in, but I'm having doubts about my ability to complete my proffered mission on this blog.. this book is bad.. really bad.. and I'm having a really hard time reading it.. Steve Perry should be ashamed of himself for having cashed the check for it.. and whoever the editor was, they should be ashamed for having let it slip across their desk at Tor.

I really hope if I have any readers out there you realize what I sacrificed to bring this review to you.. the idea I've got more Steve perry books to read in this chronology fills be with dread and loathing beyond imagining.. this is one of the worst books I have ever read and cannot even imagine how they could get worse... but I'm sure Mr. Perry will figure out how. It's amazing this is the same guy who wrote for The Real Ghostbusters and Batman the Animated Series..

The whole book is filled with bizarre stuff, beyond the Fishboat.. theirs the Harskeel.. and Lalo the cursed.. Sexual Plants, talking worms, spiders and bats.. a cavern society of Cyclopses... all of this makes the much maligned Satyrs in "Conan the Liberator" seem downright normal.

Though it is interesting that my way of thinking in regards to the Necromancer in Conan The Defiant being awfully similar to the Witch queen in Legions of the Dead. With Katamey and Chunthus minions speaking Hyperborean, its obvious that in Steve Perry's mind the taint of Hyperborea stretches a considerable distance down the Mountainous regions which separate the kingdoms of the north east. The White worms are also apparently a recurring group of species from the north as well, perhaps related to the giant White worm from Clark Ashton Smiths Hyperborean story "The Coming of the White Worm". Though all of thats only my speculation of course. The Steve Perry books I've read so far make up the first two in a Quadrilogy which fills in the gap between Conan's escape from Slavery to his time as a thief in Zamora. It's really a shame that they are so bad. Perry has introduced a huge number of Sapient species into the Conan Mythos which REH never even hinted at, and with the rate that all these various animals can talk it is beginning to feel a lot like a Disney movie. Between the Stith in "Conan the Defiant", the White Worms, The Cyclopses, The Blood Bats, the Spiders, The Sexual plants.. That makes six species apart from Man which are capable of independent thought and critical thinking skills. This whole thing seems to be really out of place in Hyborea.

All of this book also further negates the possibility of "Conan the Hunter" actually taking place during this time period. There is absolutely no room for it to take place between Defiant and Indomitable.

I can't even rate this one with a star and be honest.

One slight bit of good news is, only two more of these to get through and I get a brief glimpse of quality with one of my favorite REH tales.. I'm sure it will read all the better when compared to this..

Up Next Conan the Free-Lance by Steve Perry *Shudders*

Sunday, May 16, 2010

5. Tor Conan #20, Conan the Indomitable part 6

Chapters 17-21

Talking Bats, Talking Worms, Talking Spiders and Hermaphroditic bandit Leaders.. not to mention an evil dark lord or two all stand between Conan and the Witches Chamber full of Gems. Conan's Plan was Simple, and I see no reason to blather on about it. Naturally Elashi has her doubts, but whats a snarky shrew character for except to harp about stuff the Man does.. Conan takes a moment to remind the reader, of the Giant Fish.. The Dreaded Fishboat of my nightmares.. which only was finally dispatched 20 pages previously.. obviously Steve Perry had ideas on turning Conan the Indomitable into a Multi-Tome Epic.. but then thought better of it and abridged it heavily.. Part of me is still wondering what exactly Lalo has been doing this whole time, Part of me thinks there is a story But thus far we have been spared hearing it.

Though with typical brevity, the group slashes their way through the denizens of the underground caverns and finds the Witches Trove, Several large worms tree Conan and Tull, but instead of attacking ask Conan to Come down.. He dosen't but instead showers them with boulders, crushing two of them. It is very interesting they speak a variation of the Language of the Hyperboreans. It makes sense even that Conan can speak it, what with having been a slave in Hyperborea, It yet again shows how much Perry drew from DeCamp and Carter's "Legion of the Dead" and "The thing in the Crypt". Why is it that Pastiche writers seem to build on other pastiche writers instead of on the original author?

After pilfering some jewels and beating an escape just as Wikkel and Deek show up to inspect the dead worms. Strange voices begin to haunt Conan as they go through the tunnels, apparently converting his own arm chair psychoanalysis of his companions into aural hallucinations. But upon reflection this made no sense to Conan. You are not alone my friend, as it makes no sense to me either.

The Pot boils over, The Harskeel and the Bats catch up to the Barbarian crew. A terrible fight, Conan looks sure to be slain, the harskeel begins to chant the spell which combined with Conan's blood will surely make one, two again. But just as they have achieved their goal, they run afoul of Katamay Rey.. and wind up as stinking puddles of ooze.

Conan Recovers from the minor blood loss, but begins to hear the voices again.. then he sees her.. Chuntha the Witch.. enchanting him to be her lover, never mind her last one didn't even survive and Hour. While he is enthralled to the Witch, Tull, Lalo and Elashi run into Katamay Rey. He seems to recognize Lalo from some where, and insinuates that he has a Brother Mombaya Rey with a penchant for curses like the one lalo Suffers from. Things do not bode well for our Heroes.


Friday, May 14, 2010

5. Tor Conan #20, Conan the Indomitable part 5

Chapters 13-16

Wikkel and Deek are still trying to find a way out of the cave while Conan and Elashi and Tull are attacked by the Harskeel's goons and it's giant bat allies. This fight is not going to plan so the Harskeel resorts to sorcery, throwing what it thinks is a flash vial at Conan to blind him. The Harskeel throws the wrong vial and creates an over all aura of darkness rather than only incapacitating Conan.

The Adventurers run past the harskeel down the tunnel, The Cyclops and Worm find they are stuck in another dead end and return the way they came, reaching the entrance of their tunnel just as Katamay Rey is coming ashore on their side of the sunless sea. The two comiserate together how this bodes ill for both. When suddenly the three wanderers burst out of the tunnel directly in front of Katamay Rey. They are captured, and this is observed by the latecomer to the party, Chuntha the Witch.

The Adventurers Captured, the Cyclops and Worm consider their options, both are failures and thus unable to return to their respective masters. due to an unlikely set of coincidences the Trio manage to escape and leave the Wizard, Witch and Bandit Leader once again angry and confused. They run into the water where their is a conviently placed fog bank.. and who should they run into but Lalo the cursed minstrel who hasn't been heard of since Chapter 2.

The Burgeoning group of explorers begin planning how to escape from the fecundity of villians chasing them. Wikkel and Deek have resolved to sow a revolt composed of the joint Cyclops and Worm forces against the various villians in the underground cave network. Katamey Rey is left wondering what hand Chuntha had in his loss of the the prisoners, Chunthu is deciding how to further her own plans and the Harskeel is left wondering where his moronic Bat allies have buggered off to.

The explorers set off to lay seige to the Witches quarters and hopefully pocket a few gems. Meanwhile the Worm and Cyclops are gathering allies for their self liberation, and the blasted bats have taken their sweet time returning. Chuntha sets off in her worm-ship and dispatches a giant hornet to scout the tunnels looking for her prey.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

5. Tor Conan #20, Conan the Indomitable part 4

Part 4. Chapters 9 - 12

Our band of adventurers are still floating in their fishboat on the underground sea, not really doing much.. so we are treated to a "meanwhile" with a lot of discussion between Deek and Wikkel about their various concerns. Harskeel and Sorcerer and Witch all continue their own paths after the heroes with some really strange introspection..

Wikkel and Deek build themselves a boat and set out on the underground sea, the Harskeel's bandits are still at war with the cave bats, Conan, Elashi and Tull are heading down a river which branches off from the sea.

The Harskeel has now bribed the bats to be its minions, our adventurers abandon their fishboat to continue on shore, and Chuntha and Rey have now found their way to different parts of the sunless sea.

Only shortly on shore, Wikkel and Deek catch up to the adventurers, and the first of the Harkseels bat scouts reports they are just around the bend, everyone seems to be congregating at the same time. And on top of all that a killer plant tries to lure Conan in with the promise of easy sex.