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Random Conan Fanfic

Conan stared into the campfire, his forehead contracting into a deepening frown. He didn't know what had prompted this captain to dismount here and lecture the men on the battle that awaited them at dawn ... but judging by the high shine on the Hyrkanian's armor, he would be surveying most of the battle from high on the bluff where the generals' tents squatted.

Somehow, the captain's morale-building speech had turned to the subject of esprit de corps, and how it didn't befit warriors of The Living Tarim to "lurk rudely in tattered scales, wielding half-broken weapons." This last remark had been a direct comment on the greatsword across Conan's lap: six inches had snapped off the end of the blade in the day's battle, and Conan had opted to keep using it rather than go hand perfectly good silver to the quartermaster for a replacement weapon. He planned to "find" a better weapon on the field in the morning anyway.

"You!" said the captain, strutting up to Conan. "Look at you, you're a mess! Is this how you represent your god on the battlefield?"

Conan's eyes rolled up to the captain, but otherwise he didn't move. "The Tarim is your god," Conan said, "not mine. I'm a mercenary."

"I should have known," sneered the captain. "Nothing but a sellsword. And a foreigner, to boot. Tell me, do you even have a god?"

"I have Crom," said Conan.

"Oh yes? And tell me of this 'Crom.' Give him burnt offerings by moonlight, do you?"

"No," said Conan. "There wouldn't be any point, Crom doesn't listen."

"Ignorant savage," said the captain. "What's the point of a god who doesn't listen? The Living Tarim laughs at your god! He causes the sun to shine and the crops to grow! The Tarim is the source of all that is good and worthy, a shining wonder! No wonder you're so useless, with a pitiful god like that!"

Faster than the eye could follow, Conan was on his feet -- and the captain was flat on his back and spitting teeth from where the Cimmerian had given him a backhanded blow. Looming over the Hyrkanian, Conan gave a crooked grin and said, "Funny, the Living Tarim wasn't much help to you there, was he?"

-The Gneech

(x-posted to swordandsorcery)


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 10th, 2005 06:57 pm (UTC)
I am reminded about barbarians and politeness; the captain thought civilization would protect him.

Is it any coincidence that the captain's god was an anagram of Conan's other god?

===|==============/ Level Head
Oct. 10th, 2005 07:02 pm (UTC)
Heehee. :) Yup, straight out of "Tower of the Elephant." Nice catch!

Actually, Mitra wasn't technically "Conan's" god either, but the predominant god of Aquilonia. Presumably, Conan just picked up the habit of swearing "Mitra!" from time to time the way a Jew raised in the U.S. might say, "Jesus!"

What relation the Living Tarim might have to Mitra, I don't know. Strictly speaking, I'm not positive the Tarim was ever mentioned in Howard's original work, or if it was an invention of Roy Thomas (who was the head writer for Marvel's "Conan the Barbarian" comics from the '70s).

-The Gneech
Oct. 10th, 2005 07:22 pm (UTC)
What relation the Living Tarim might have to Mitra, I don't know.

Perhaps third cousin or so, about the relationship Franklin Delano Rooseveldt had to Teddy. ];-)

I think I last read that story about the year you were born. I've read a few Conan tales since then, after reading a dozen or so novels at the time. ];-)

Hey, just looking around for a list of the old novels, I discovered this "card game" page. Do-it-yourself Conan adventures!

===|==============/ Level Head
Oct. 10th, 2005 07:28 pm (UTC)
And it was already 40 years old by that point! Just shows the staying power of a strong writer. ;)

The card game looks interesting, I'll have to check it out. :)

FWIW, there was only one actual Conan novel written by REH, which was Hour of the Dragon. The rest were all short stories.

Oct. 10th, 2005 07:39 pm (UTC)
Yes, the Cimmerian, Freebooter, Usurper, et cetera collections. They were novel to me, despite my imprecise use of the term. ];-)

I've just read a bit about Howard; apparently, he made quite a lot of money from his writings, making him (during the Depression) a wealthy man in his town.

It is clear from his case, and countless others, that money is no guarantee of happiness. I'm not even certain that there is a strong correlation; it almost seems negative.

===|==============/ Level Head
Oct. 10th, 2005 07:49 pm (UTC)
He was fairly well-off for a while, but his main venue (Weird Tales) kept getting later and later with the payments...

Probably, if he'd lived and really started going big with the boxing tales (which is what he was moving into at the time of his suicide), he'd have had a lucrative career for some years to come. Alas, he was a pretty classic manic depressive ... and such things as therapy and St. John's Wort were not really to be had in Cross Plains, TX of 1930.

-The Gneech
Oct. 10th, 2005 09:05 pm (UTC)
I just stumbled across this site -- a nice layout of the Conan series, the stories within, and the cover art. It is bringing back memories.

===|==============/ Levle Head

Oct. 11th, 2005 02:10 am (UTC)
Keep in mind, that's the L. Sprague DeCamp version, which is not without its detractors.

I'm something of a moderate on the Howard Purism scale -- I prefer his originals, but I don't foam at the mouth at the existence of others. ;)

My favorite Conan novel, The Flame Knife, was actually not a Conan novel at all. It was written by Howard about one of his other heroes (El Borak, I think, but I haven't read the original); DeCamp repackaged it as a Conan story -- so while the story and most of the words are Howard's, the book is not, if you see what I mean.

-The Gneech
Oct. 11th, 2005 05:25 pm (UTC)
Understood. It's a bit like music made famous by (and associated with) one artist but actually written by another. In this instance, I grew up with the LSDC stories. (Not LSD stories, I don't think...)

I read one by Howard, years later. Not a Conan, but a ... Kull, was it? It seemed more campy than deCampy, so to speak. It would be interesting to pursue his work further.

===|==============/ Level Head
Oct. 11th, 2005 06:00 pm (UTC)
Kull is certainly moodier than Conan. :) The Kull stories were written earlier than the Conan stories were, sort of a proto-Conan.

My personal faves are actually the tales of Solomon Kane, which where written when Howard was in his late 'teens to early twenties, but already had a terrific command of the language.

At the risk of pluggery, may I recommend...

The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane (pretty much all of the Solomon Kane stories)

The Coming of Conan (includes "The Frost-Giant's Daughter" and "Tower of the Elephant," two of the most famous stories, and "Queen of the Black Coast," which is the story of Conan's great love, Bélit)

The Bloody Crown of Conan (includes Hour of the Dragon)

A new one in this line, The Conquering Sword of Conan, is due out in November and presumably will include "Beyond the Black River," source of the infamous "barbarism is the natural state of mankind" speech (which is not actually given by Conan, although many people assume it is).

There was also a decent paperback collection of the Kull of Atlantis stories about ten years back, but it's a little hard to find now. I presume Wandering Star and Del Rey will be publishing a new collection of Kull sooner or later ... their most recent non-Conan REH collection has been Bran Mak Morn, whose stories I could never much get into.

Howard also published stories in the Cthuhlu cycle, but these tend to have a racist streak that puts me off. (Much as I admire him, he did have his problems.)

-The Gneech
Oct. 11th, 2005 06:21 pm (UTC)
Your "pluggery" is certainly welcome.

===|==============/ Level Head
Oct. 10th, 2005 08:30 pm (UTC)
Very nicely done.
Oct. 11th, 2005 02:10 am (UTC)
Thanks! :)

-The Gneech
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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