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?"
(x-posted to swordandsorcery)