Thundarr The Barbarian in The Wrath Of Crom

Chapter 10

The seven companions ride out across the desert. According to Conan's map, Wyrm Mountain lies on the other side of The Valley of Bones, in the heart of The Giant Wood. Watching the band going on their way, from on top of a great dune, is the demon queen Glasya and her cohorts. As the barbarians and their friends ride out of sight, the mighty succubus extends her wings, and with a few powerful flaps becomes air-born. Her two fellow demons follow suit, and the three of them are soon soaring through the night sky. As they fly overhead they look down upon their quarry, their demonic vision piercing the darkness with ease. Not far away, they spot a group of humans camping in an oasis for the night. They're obviously desert dwellers, as they don't bother traveling at night like foreigners.

The demons take a closer look. These humans aren't just desert nomads. They're slavers. Glasya swoops down and lands just outside the oasis, with the other two demons in tow. The three of them revert to their human forms and enter the brush. The slavers are all gathered around their campfires when the three demons enter the camp. The slavers all scramble to their feet and draw their weapons.

"Well," says the leader, "it looks like we've just found ourselves some new additions to our stable."

"The red haired one looks strong," says one of his men, "He'll fetch a fine price."

"And many men would pay handsomely to have wenches such as those in their harems," says another.

"Drop your weapons," says the leader to Glasya, "or we will cut you down where you stand."

"I think not," replies the succubus.

The slavers all advance on the three apparently outnumbered demons. As the men approach, Glasya's eyes begin to glow a hellish red. Then Delilah's eyes similarly glow. And then Gideon's. The slavers all stop in their tracks, their eyes glowing red as they're all hypnotized by the demonic stares of the three succubi.

"Now," says Glasya, "I have a little errand for you . . ."

Sometime later, the seven friends are still riding through the desert. They're still many hours from reaching the edge of the desert and entering The Valley of Bones. Riding point is Conan, on his mighty black stallion Thunder. Next rides Zula on his brown and white stallion. After the Wasai prince rides Princess Ariel on her chestnut mare. She's flanked on either side by Thundarr on his white stallion and Grey Wolf on his gray speckled mare. Just behind that trio is Jezmine on her brown mare with black legs. And finally, bringing up the rear is Ookla on his equart. Conan, Zula, Jezmine, and Ookla are all hyper-vigilant of any possible dangers. Ariel, however, has been acting depressed ever since she had allowed herself to be seduced by the incubus, Gideon. For their parts, Thundarr and Grey Wolf have been trying to get Ariel to let go of her feelings. They've been trying to convince the sorceress to take that shame and guilt she feels and turn it into righteous anger, which would then help fuel her spells when she finally confronts Gideon again.

"I know how you feel," Thundarr tells her, "I too succumbed to the temptations of the demons. Glasya and I made love while I was under her spell."

"As did I with Delilah," says Grey Wolf, "I am a wizard, and I fell prey to her enchantments just as hard as Thundarr and Conan did to Glasya's. Yet I feel no shame. Only anger."

"I appreciate what you guys are trying to do," says Ariel, "but I can't help what I feel. It's not just that I'm upset that I fell victim to a sorcerer's trick. Or that I allowed myself to be seduced by Gideon while under the influence of his spell. Or even that I tried to kill Jezmine when she tried to come between us. It's what he did to me while we were making love. What I allowed him to do to me. What I wanted him to do to me. He treated me like a common harlot, and he made me like it. I actually begged him for more. And now . . . now I'm disgusted with myself."

They ride in silence for several more minutes. After a while, Conan reins his horse Thunder to a stop. The others all reign in their horses as well.

"What is it?" asks Thundarr.

"There," replies Conan as he points ahead of them.

The others look to see what he's pointing at. There, up ahead, silhouetted against the moonlight, is a band of at least ten men mounted on camels. They are apparently waiting for something atop a large sand dune just ahead.

Suddenly the party hears the sounds of an animal braying off to their left. They turn and see another band of at least ten men on camels cresting the top of another sand dune to the side.

Another noise draws the group's attention to the right, where yet another group of camel riders has crested the dune to that side. And finally, they hear the sounds of camels riding towards them from behind.

"I have a bad feeling about this," says Jezmine.

"What do you suppose they want?" asks Thundarr.

"Whatever it is," replies Zula, "I don't think they have our best interests at heart."

They then hear a sudden 'twanging' sound from all four directions.

"Archers!" cries Thundarr.

No sooner does he say it than Ariel raises her hands and conjures a sphere of yellow energy which covers the entire group. A split second later they hear the clattering of dozens of arrows bouncing off the magical energy shield and falling to the ground. The camel riders draw their scimitars and kick their camels into a gallop, charging the group from all angles.

"Demon Dogs!" cries Thundarr as he grabs his Sunsword from his bracer and ignites the blade, "Everyone! Into BATTLE!"

Ookla takes out his mok bow and starts firing stun arrows at the advancing horde. Each stun arrow he shoots hits its mark and knocks a rider off of his mount and out cold. Conan draws his mighty Star Metal sword. Zula begins twirling his Star Metal bolas over his head. Jezmine snatches her throwing stars from her bracer and prepares to throw them. Grey Wolf holds up his magic staff, the Star Metal Claw of Heaven attached to the end crackling with power. Then he and Princess Ariel dismount so that they may use their horses as cover, and cast their spells from relative safety.

"Yaaaaa-heee!" cries Thundarr as he spurs his white stallion to charge forward.

"Crom!" shouts Conan, and he turns Thunder about and spurs him into a gallop, charging the slavers who had flanked them from the right.

Zula and Jezmine both charge the slavers who had flanked them from the left. And when the slavers attacking from the rear get too close for Ookla to effectively use his composite bow anymore, he drops the weapon and charges the camel riders on his equart. He leaps from the back of his mount at the nearest slaver, tackling the man off his camel's back. Ookla quickly springs to his feet, launching himself at the camel of the next rider. Before the beast or its rider could even react, the mok grabs the mount in a headlock and wrestles it to the ground, throwing the rider face first into the sand. Then Ookla picks the camel up over his head and throws it at the next nearest rider, knocking him off his mount. The camel soars past its brother and collides with yet another camel, throwing the rider hard to the ground.

Thundarr charges into the slavers with his Sunsword blazing. The slavers try attacking the blonde barbarian with their scimitars, only to find their quarry's reflexes to be much quicker than they had thought possible. Thundarr swings, and slashes, and parries, and dodges. And when he is finished, all of the slavers are holding the useless hilts of their weapons as the blades of their scimitars litter the ground. Undeterred, the slavers pull out wooden clubs and heavy nets and make another charge at their prey. Once again, Thundarr is slashing and parrying with his mighty Sunsword, cutting through the flimsy wooden clubs and heavy rope nets. The mighty barbarian also slashes through the straps of the slavers' saddles, causing several of them to fall from their mounts.

One slaver rides his camel straight towards Thundarr with the intent to ram him and his mount. Thundarr stands on the back of his white stallion and leaps at the slaver, tackling him off of the camel's back. Another slaver drives his camel straight for the blonde barbarian in hopes of trampling him underfoot. In a surprising move, Thundarr charges straight at the camel, hauling off and leveling the beast with one mighty punch to its head. As its rider tries to get to his feet, Thundarr runs up and kicks the slaver in the face knocking him unconscious.

Conan drives his great black stallion into the throng of charging slavers. Like Thundarr seconds ago, the Cimmerian slashes and parries madly with his Star Metal sword. The steel blades of the slavers' scimitars shatter as they collide with the superior Star Metal of Conan's sword. Some of the slavers attempt to cast nets over the raven haired barbarian, but his mighty blade slashes through their ropes as though they were made of parchment. Conan drives Thunder into one of the slavers' camels, ramming the beast and toppling it into another camel. All three mounts and their riders tumble to the ground. Conan recovers first, grabs the two slavers by the scruffs of their necks and slamming their heads together. The two slavers fall to the barbarian's feet, out cold.

Another slaver charges Conan, waving a heavy wooden club. In one smooth movement, the Cimmerian ducks the slaver's swing and slashes the strap of his camel's saddle with his sword, causing the rider to fall heavily off his mount. Another mounted slaver rides his camel straight at Conan. In a surprise move, Conan runs straight at the camel. With one mighty punch, he knocks the camel to the ground. Before its rider even hits the ground, the Cimmerian leaps up and punches him in the face, knocking him out cold.

Jezmine and Zula charge on their horses towards the slavers. The young acrobat hurls her shuriken at them, one after the other, each one striking a man in his sword arm and causing him to drop his weapon. The Wasai prince lets loose with his bolas, which wrap around a slaver's head and knocks him from his camel. The two companions quickly recall their Star Metal weapons back to their hands, so that they may be used again.

They throw their weapons a second time, disarming four more slavers and knocking another from his mount. Soon, the slavers are upon Zula and Jezmine and their weapons are far less effective at such close range. However, the acrobat and the dark skinned warrior are far from helpless. Zula uses his bolas as a flail, bludgeoning any slavers who venture too near. Jezmine, with her incredible dexterity, leaps from her horse's back and tackles a slaver from his mount, knocking him to the ground. She springs to her feet and kicks him in the face, rendering him unconscious. Another slaver charges Jezmine on his camel in an attempt to trample her. She dives under another slaver's camel at the last second, causing the two of them to collide and collapse in a heap on the ground. Another slaver charges her, his club raised to strike her down. Zula charges his horse at the camel rider, ramming into the beast and knocking them both to the ground. He quickly punches the slaver in the face, knocking him out. Another slaver rides by and tries to ensnare the Wasai prince with a net. Zula ducks under the net, grabbing it as it swings overhead, and pulls it and its wielder from the camel, giving Jezmine the opportunity to knock the slaver out with a well-placed kick to the head.

Princess Ariel and Grey Wolf aid their companions with their spells whenever and where ever they can. Grey Wolf conjures a tornado, which picks up a group of the slavers battling Zula and Jezmine and carries them high up in the air, then dropping them hard onto the ground. Ariel hurls exploding energy balls at the slavers attacking Thundarr. Those struck are knocked out cold. Grey Wolf knocks several of the slavers attacking Conan off of their mounts with powerful energy blasts from his magic staff. Ariel sees that several of the slavers have flanked Ookla, while the mok is busy swinging one of them by his ankles and using him like a club to bash the others. The sorceress casts a spell on the ground at the slavers' feet, causing them to sink into the sand, and then turning the sand into solid glass.

The slavers who are able turn tail and run. The camels that had lost their riders scatter across the desert. Those slavers who are still mounted ride away as hard and as fast as they can. The seven companions regroup as their attackers depart.

"Who do you suppose sent them?" asks Jezmine.

"I can hazard a guess," replies Ariel.

"Wrath-Amon?" asks Conan.

"Ultimately? Yes," says Grey Wolf, "But more immediately, I'd say this was the work of Glasya and her minions."

"Right," says Ariel, "And Wrath-Amon is likely the one who sent them to destroy us."

"Enough talk!" says Thundarr, "We have lost precious time. It will be dawn soon. We should continue on now."

"Thundarr is right," says Conan, "If we push on through to morning, we should reach The Valley of Bones by mid-day."

"Then by all means, let us make haste," says Zula.

Ookla roars his agreement to that sentiment.

"It's agreed then," says Thundarr with a laugh, "we push on until we reach The Valley of Bones."

Then they all mount their horses and ride on, with Conan once again in the lead with his map.

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