Perverse Osmosis

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The Vale of Lost Women

June 29th, 2015

Now here is gutter Conan; this story wasn’t published in any form until 1967 and for good reason. About the only positives for Conan in “Vale” are he does drink a fairly heroic amount and “saves” Livia. Otherwise, Conan [and Howard] don’t come off looking too good in this one. Onto the violence:

Conan rose, still smiling, as if to reach into a near-by cooking pot—then quick as a cat he struck Aja a terrible blow with the heavy bone.

She saw his sword flash, and men went down around him. Now a struggling knot swept around a fire, and she glimpsed a fat squat shape writhing in its midst. Conan ploughed through and was hidden from view by the twisting black figures. From the midst a thin squealing rose unbearably. The press split for an instant, and she had one awful glimpse of a reeling desperate squat figure, streaming blood.

And then the girl, watching that devilish battle as in a nightmare, saw the black-winged thing waver and stagger in mid-air; there was a threshing beat of crippled wings, and the monster had torn clear and was soaring upward to mingle and vanish among the stars.

Total carnage:

1 war chief: 90 XP

1 tribal chief: 115 XP

1 type 3 demon [defeated, not killed: 1640 XP]

Iron Shadows in the Moon

June 28th, 2015

“Iron Shadows” isn’t the best Conan yarn going, but Olivia is a capable sidekick [and daughter of the King of Ophir], there is a gigantic ape, and we do get to hear about Conan eating raw musk-rats: standard week in the life of our sullen hero.

This was no longer battle, but butchery, frantic, bloody, impelled by an hysteria of fury and hate, in which culminated the sufferings of battle, massacre, torture, and fear-ridden, thirst-maddened, hunger-haunted flight.

A louder clash of steel, a sliding rasp, a choking cry from the pirate horde a fierce yell split the morning as Conan’s sword plunged through their captain’s massive body.

But as Conan tugged vainly at his sword, wedged deep in the hairy body, the frothing jaws snapped spasmodically shut, an inch from the Cimmerian’s face, and he was hurled to the sward by the dying convulsions of the monster.

Fairly low carnage count:

1 Shah of Akif [7th-level fighter: 600 XP]

1 pirate captain [4th-level fighter: 310 XP]

1 grey ape [300 XP]

Rogues in the House

June 25th, 2015

Conan’s fight with Thak is the Frazetta drawing that festooned a thousand dorm rooms and sold ten thousand Lancer paperbacks. A modified version of it also happens in Conan the Destroyer.

But the Cimmerian fled, and learning in devious ways of the priest’s treachery, he entered the temple of Anu by night and cut off the priest’s head.

The jailer was so upset that he made the mistake of entering the cell alone, without calling guards from the other parts of the prison. It was his first mistake in the line of duty, and his last. Conan brained him with the beef bone, took his poniard and his keys, and made a leisurely departure.

A beastlike snarl was the last thing he heard in life, as the monster lurched against him and a keen blade ripped through his belly. He gave one gasping cry and slumped down limply on the stairway.

The chair glanced from Thak’s slanted black skull; but the stunned monster momentarily relaxed his rending grasp, and in that instant Conan, gasping and streaming blood, plunged forward and sank his poniard to the hilt in the ape-man’s heart.

Too quickly for the sight to follow, Conan caught up a stool and hurled it. Nabonidus instinctively threw up his arm with a cry, but not in time. The missile crunched against his head, and the Red Priest swayed and fell facedown in a slowly widening pool of dark crimson.

Total carnage:

1 priest of Anu [unknown level: 210 XP]

1 high-level priest [590 XP]

1 jailer [note to self: don’t be a jailer: 23 XP]

1 thug in the wrong place with the wrong woman [13 XP]

1 Zamoran ape [with an assist from Murilo: 260 XP]

 

The Pool of the Black One

June 23rd, 2015

Pirates, pirate lasses, black lotus, evils from the outer void, men turned to statues: this Conan guy has quite a life.

The Barachan’s movement was too quick for the eye to follow. His sledge-like fist crunched with a terrible impact against his tormentor’s jaw, and the Zingaran catapulted through the air and fell in a crumpled heap by the rail.

That stroke was instantly followed by a thrust with such terrible drive behind it that the sharp point ripped through chain-mail and ribs like paper, to transfix the heart beneath. Zaporavo’s lips writhed in brief agony, but, grim to the last, he made no sound. He was dead before his body relaxed on the trampled grass, where blood drops glittered like spilt rubies in the sun.

The giant wheeled, and his eyes flared as he saw the bronzed avenger rushing toward him. In the instant of surprize his cruel grip relaxed and Sancha wriggled from his hands and fell to the grass. The taloned hands spread and clutched, but Conan ducked beneath their swoop and drove his sword through the giant’s groin. The black went down like a felled tree, gushing blood,

And as a tiger leaps and strikes among his prey, Conan leaped and struck: thrice his blade flickered before any could lift a hand in defense; then he bounded from among them and raced across the sward. Behind him sprawled three black figures, their skulls split.

The giant who barred his way went down cloven to the middle of the breast-bone, and the pirate was outside their closing ring before the blacks to right and left could come to their stricken comrade’s aid.

As the blacks glared in amazement, Conan yelled stridently and struck them like a razor-edged thunderbolt. They fell like ripe grains beneath his blade, and the Zingarans, shouting with muddled fury, ran groggily across the court and fell on their gigantic foes with bloodthirsty zeal.

They kicked and tore at the Barachan and dragged at their writhing comrade, but Conan’s teeth were set desperately in his throat, and the pirate clung tenaciously to his dying shield.

 

Total carnage:

1 Zingaran renegade [15 XP]

1 Zingaran renegade leader [95 XP]

6 giants [type undetermined: 1400XP*6=8400XP]

However many dead giants thunderbolt and ripe grain equal [4*1200XP=4800XP]

Xuthal of the Dusk

June 17th, 2015

A fair amount of slaughter happens in Xuthal. Between Thog claiming an occasional victim and Conan cutting his way to freedom, there are more than a few corpses to be found. Also, poor Natala feels the kiss of the whip, and I would bet that helped sell a few copies. That and the killing.

Conan cursed amazedly, but wasted no time in conjecture. He met the hurtling attacker with a slashing cut of his saber that sheared through flesh and bone. The fellow’s head thudded on the flags; the body staggered drunkenly, an arch of blood jetting from the severed jugular; then it fell heavily.

A snarl of bloodthirsty gratification hummed in his bull-throat as he leaped, and the first attacker, his short sword overreached by the whistling saber, went down with his brains gushing from his split skull. Wheeling like a cat, Conan caught a descending wrist on his edge, and the hand gripping the short sword flew into the air scattering a shower of red drops.

A yell of dismay went up at this mischance, and Conan allowed himself a short bark of laughter as he bounded aside from a whistling cut and slashed under the guard of yet another man of Xuthal. A long spurt of crimson followed his singing edge and the man crumpled screaming, his belly-muscles cut through.

Three men confronted him at the foot of the marble steps, and he struck them with a deafening crash of steel. There was a frenzied instant when the blades flamed like summer lightning; then the group fell apart and Conan sprang up the stair. The oncoming horde tripped over three writhing forms at its foot: one lay face-down in a sickening welter of blood and brains; another propped himself on his hands, blood spurting blackly from his severed throat veins; the other howled like a dying dog as he clawed at the crimson stump that had been an arm.

The impact sent Conan crashing against the wall; the other, the saber torn through his body, fell headlong down the stair, ripped open to the spine from groin to broken breastbone. In a ghastly mess of streaming entrails the body tumbled against the men rushing up the stairs, bearing them back with it.

He lay there watching the hurtling glow dwindling and dwindling until it vanished into a dark shining surface that seemed to surge upward to meet it. For an instant a dimming witchfire glimmered in those dusky depths; then it disappeared and Conan lay staring down into the blackness of the ultimate abyss from which no sound came.

Total carnage:

1 ancient god [presumed dead: 9304XP]

7 men of Xuthal, brave but clumsy [12XP*7=84XP]