Conan spends the whole day in
bed. His mother, father, and grandfather keep checking in on him periodically.
Oddly enough, he doesn't feel sick. But these hallucinations of
people that he, apparently, only ever met in his dreams are very worrisome. His
mother is fussing over him like an old hen. Even his father refuses to allow
him to work the forge until he is well again. While it is great to be home, or
not be dreaming anymore, or whatever, Conan wants these hallucinations to stop.
They don't seem to bother him while he's at home, only while he's out in
public. So he stays at home most days, trying to recover from whatever this
strange illness is. While eating his midday meal one day, Conan's father comes
into the house with a great smile on his face. Conan looks up at his father,
expecting to hear some wonderful news, hopefully to do with his illness.
"What is it Father?" asks Conan, "What has made you so happy?"
"My son!" says his father, "I have the most wonderful news! A foreigner came into my smithy shop to get new shoes for her horse. As I was removing the horse's old worn out shoes, she and I began talking. The subject of your illness and the lingering hallucinations came up, and she says that she has an herb which may get rid of the hallucinations!"
"That's wonderful, father!" says Conan, "When can I meet this healer?"
"Soon," says his father, "First your grandfather has to help her collect some additional ingredients, so that the medicine can do its job."
"How much will this healer require in payment?" asks Conan, "We are hardly rich, and healing usually requires large amounts of gold."
"All she asked for was for me to shoe her horse for free," says his father.
"That is all?" says Conan, surprised.
"She does not administer healing simply for profit, so that only the fat and wealthy merchants can afford to be illness free," says the old blacksmith, "She became a healer to help the sick and injured, where ever she may find them. She gets compensated with room and board, as well as essential services such as I provide. That is how true healers should behave, at any rate. At least, I think so."
"As do I," agrees Conan, "Unfortunately, not many healers tend to agree."
"And how would you know this?" asks his father, "My worldly son, who has never set foot outside of Cimmerian lands?"
"You told me so yourself," says Conan.
"Ha-ha-ha! So I did!" laughs his father, "Well, at least you're no longer insisting you've been gallivanting around the world, fighting evil wizards!"
Grey Wolf is spending most of his time these past days looking through old tomes and scrolls in The Great Library of Xanthus, one of the greatest collections of knowledge in all of Hyborea. Specifically, he is researching illnesses that are known to cause hallucinations, and their cures. Some he doesn't like the looks of, as they all lead to madness and death. These illnesses have no known cures, through magic or science. However, Sasha and Meesha had told him he started out with a fever, and in these maladies the fever comes near the end of the disease's course. So he continues reading. There are several different illnesses which have been documented over the generations that have been known to cause hallucinations. Many of them have symptoms which clash with what he knows about his own illness. For those that have known herbal treatments, Grey Wolf writes the names of the disease, the list of herbs needed to brew an antidote, and the exact procedure for making the medicine, down onto a piece of parchment. On a separate piece of parchment, he writes the names of all the illnesses that have no known cures that he thinks he may have.
Grey Wolf then returns to his family's magical laboratory, where with the aid of his brother and sister, he brews the cures for many of the hallucinogenic maladies that he surmises that he may have become afflicted with. He gets as much rest as he can, often sleeping on a cot he had set up in the laboratory so that he may be close to his research. Sasha and Meesha make certain he gets his rest, by taking over his experiments and potions for him while he sleeps. Whenever the younger wizard is exhausted is when his hallucinations seem to get worse.
Days pass, and Grey Wolf has tried every remedy he could find to cure his disease. He would brew an antidote, drink it down, or apply it to his skin, or bathe in it, whatever the instructions tell him to do. Then after giving the remedy time to take effect, he would try going out into public. Everything would always start out fine. But then he would see Jezmine. Or Mesmira. Or Conan. Or Thundarr. Or Princess Ariel. Or Snagg, or any one of the many other people he dreamed he had met while adventuring around the world, searching for a cure for his siblings imagined lycanthropy. He has tried the last of the remedies the other day. And it had failed.
"Do not fret, little brother," says Sasha, "We will discover a cure for you."
"I feel as though I am going mad," says Grey Wolf.
"You are not mad," says his sister, "You were ill. This is just a part of that illness. Once we know more . . ."
"I have read every medical book in the city's library," says Grey Wolf, "I have consulted with the wisest and most powerful wizards in Xanthus. And I have come up with exactly nothing."
"Meesha and I will not give up, little brother," she tells him, "Right now, our brother is contacting every healer in the known world, looking for a cure! He will find it!"
"He had best find it soon," says a distraught Grey Wolf, "Because at this rate, I may soon not have enough of a mind left to heal."
Thundarr and Ariel sit on their thrones as they oversee the day to day business of running a kingdom. It is quite obvious to Ariel that her husband has little patience for such things. He had always been more in favor of action than thought, but he had lost some of that after the wedding. Now he seems more like the Thundarr of old, who wouldn't even compliment her for her skill with magic or her beauty. Except for that last part of course. She hasn't had this much trouble keeping Thundarr's hands off of her since their honeymoon.
This afternoon, Thundarr and Ariel are mediating disputes between various individuals. This farmer blames another for stealing his goat. That fisherman blames another for tangling up his nets. Two rival merchants arguing over who should be allowed to set up shop where. Ariel can tell that Thundarr would rather just hand them each an ax and a shield and let them settle things in the ruins of BC Place Stadium, where Sabian used to make slaves fight each other in gladiatorial combat for his own twisted pleasure. That was one of the first things she and Thundarr put an end to when they took the kingdom back from Sabian. Perhaps the gladiatorial games needed a rebirth? Replace the shields and axes with bare knuckled fights? Settle disputes and entertain the populace all at the same time, with nonlethal competitions! She would have to discuss this with Thundarr later.
The next person seeking an audience with the king and queen is a representative of the barbarians from the mountains to the north. The guards show the barbarian in. Thundarr's jaw drops as he's looking upon the raven haired barbarian, whom he and Ariel had already met.
"Conan?" Thundarr asks.
"Sire?" asks the barbarian, "Have we met?"
"Of course we've met!" says Thundarr, "We fought the minions of Wrath-Amon side by side!"
The barbarian from the north gives King Thundarr a confused look, as does the queen and the rest of the court. Thundarr regards their confused expressions with confusion of his own.
"Wrath-Amon!" says Thundarr, in an attempt to shake loose the visitor's memory, "He sent shape shifting demons after us! You slew them with your Star Metal sword! The male demon nearly killed Queen Ariel! Remember?"
"I'm sorry sire," says Conan, "but I have no idea of the events you speak of. I have not met you before today."
Thundarr turns to his queen, "Ariel, he says, "surely you remember."
"I am sorry, My Love," says Ariel, "but I have never seen this man before in my life. Nor do I have any recollection of the events you speak of."
"But I . . . I remember it all so clearly," says the king, now very confused.
"Are you alright?" Conan asks him.
"No," replies King Thundarr, "Not alright. Not alright at all."
Thundarr gets up off his throne and walks off, leaving his court quite confused. Queen Ariel quickly quiets them all down.
"It's quite alright," she tells everyone, "The King has not been feeling himself lately. It shall soon pass."
She dismisses the court, then leaves to follow her husband. The guards shrug their shoulders and guide Conan from the audience hall. The Queen soon finds Thundarr in their bedchamber, staring at himself in the mirror as he leans wearily on her vanity table. She walks up behind him and places a gentle hand on his shoulder.
"What is it My Love?" she asks, "What is wrong?"
"Everything," sighs Thundarr, "It's all wrong. Us. This place. The whole thing."
"Aren't you happy here?"
"Of course I am," he replies, "I've never been happier. But I have no memory of us being together. Our victories over the wizards. Your stepfather. Our wedding. None of it!"
"Do you want this life to end?" She asks.
"Nay," says Thundarr, "I do not. But it isn't real."
"I'm real," she says, and she wraps her arms around his chest in a warm hug, "I've never been more real."
"I wish to The Lords of Light you were," he says, "but you are an illusion, just like everything else."
"Please," sobs Ariel, "Don't leave me."
Thundarr turns and wraps her in a hug, resting his cheek against the top of her head.
"Whether we are in this illusion or in reality," he tells her, "I will never leave you."
Conan is sitting at the dining table of his family's home, eating his mother's venison stew, when his grandfather returns.
"Great news everyone!" he says, "I have all of the necessary ingredients for Conan's cure!"
"Excellent!" says Mother, "I shall go fetch the healer at once!"
"No need," says Grandfather, "I've brought her with me."
A mysterious cloaked figure enters the house, following Grandfather. She throws back the hood of her cloak, revealing her long braided, dark brown hair and beautiful face.
"Jezmine!" says Conan with excitement, leaping to his feet with such enthusiasm that he knocks over his chair and spills the contents of his bowl.
"Ummmm . . . Do I know you?" she asks.
"It's me!" he says, "Conan! We fought Wrath-Amon's minions together! My father forged your throwing stars!"
"I'm sorry . . . Conan, is it? But I have never seen you in my life."
"You see how sick our son is," says Conan's mother to the newcomer, "He believes he knows you."
"If I've never met her before," says Conan, "then how did I know her name?"
"Your grandfather must have mentioned it," says Mother.
"No," replies Conan, "I'm quite certain he did not."
"Your father then," suggests Grandfather.
"No," says Conan, "He didn't either."
"Then I must have introduced myself," says Jezmine.
"You never said a word until I stated your name!" exclaims Conan, now very upset, "By Crom, someone tell me what's going on here!"
"You're very upset by your nightmares and hallucinations," says Conan's father in a soothing tone, "Why don't you rest in your room while your mother and Jezmine brew up your cure?"
"NO!" shouts Conan, "This is all wrong! You're all not real! None of this is! This is some trick of Wrath-Amon's to keep me from finding a cure!"
"Calm down, my son," says Father.
"Don't call me that!" screams Conan, "You are not my father!"
With that, Conan runs over to the hearth and grabs his father's sword from the mantle. His father reaches to restrain the enraged barbarian, but Conan drives the blade into his father's chest. His father stares at him with a look of utter shock as he collapses to the floor, in a growing pool of his life's blood. Grandfather steps protectively between Conan and his mother, but the barbarian doesn't hesitate. He slashes his grandfather through the chest, knocking him into his mother. Conan's mother tries desperately to crawl away, but Conan stands over her and stabs down with his father's sword, impaling her through the back. Jezmine stands there, dumbfounded. She turns and attempts to flee, but Conan throws the sword as though it was a spear. The blade digs deep into the girl's back, dropping her to the floor. Conan looks around at the carnage left in disbelief.
"Crom's tears! What have I done?"
He runs over to Jasmine, who is the only one moving at all, and cradles her in his arms.
"Jezmine!" says Conan, "Jezmine! What did I do?"
"You . . ." whispers the acrobat, ". . . won."
Then she dies in Conan's arms. He clutches her dead body to his chest, and all goes black.
Grey Wolf sits alone in the family's study, doing his best to try and keep away from other people. For some reason, his illness always seems to worsen when he's out among people. So he stays away from people. Whatever is causing his hallucinations, Grey Wolf doesn't want it to get worse before he can find a cure. Sasha brings her younger brother a cup of herbal tea, meant to ease his symptoms. Just then, a very excited Meesha comes running into the study, followed by a mysterious cloaked figure that seems to glide at a leisurely pace.
"Sasha! Grey Wolf!" says Meesha excitedly, "I have great news!"
"You have found a cure?" asks Sasha.
"Close!" he says, "I have found a healer who claims to have a cure!"
"At this point, I'm willing to try anything," says Grey Wolf.
"Allow me to introduce . . ." says Meesha, as his guest removes her hood.
"MESMIRA!" shouts Grey Wolf in disgust as he sees who his brother had brought back with him.
"You know of me?" asks a very confused Mesmira.
Grey Wolf turns to his siblings. "Surely you cannot ask this of me?" he says "By Mitra, she's the one who turned you into wolves!"
"But Grey Wolf," says Meesha, "That was just a dream. A nightmare brought on by your fever."
"What fever?" asks Grey Wolf, "I remember no fever!"
"You were sick," says Sasha calmly, "We took care of you. Remember?"
"Then how did I know immediately who Mesmira was?" asks the younger wizard, "You told me I had never even met her! That she had never set foot within Xanthus!"
"Please Grey Wolf," pleads Mesmira, "I am only here to help."
"Stay back, witch!" shouts Grey Wolf, "I wouldn't let you near me, even if the entire city were at stake!"
"If your illness is contagious, it could very well be," she replies.
"NO!" screams Grey Wolf, and he takes up his magic staff and hurls a powerful gust of wind at the sorceress.
Mesmira is caught directly by the magical attack, taking its full force. The wind attack throws her into the stone wall of the study with devastating force. There's a loud crack as she hits the wall, then slides down to the floor, leaving a red smear against the wall. Sasha runs over to the fallen sorceress to check on her condition.
"You killed her," she says, "You crushed her skull against the wall and killed her."
"Are you mad?" asks Meesha, "She was here to help you!"
"Mad?" says Grey Wolf, "Nay, I am quite sane. All this time I have been accepting your story that I've been ill. That everything that has happened to me since having met Conan was all a fever induced nightmare. A trick of the mind. But this is the trick. You two are the illusion. And if I am to help my real brother and sister, I am going to have to end this illusion. NOW!"
Grey Wolf immediately conjures a miniature tornado, which picks up his sister and carries her up to the chandelier at frightening speed. Before she can even react, Sasha's head gets tangled in the ropes which hold the chandelier from the ceiling. The tornado dissipates, dropping the wizard to be hanged by her neck. Meesha quickly hurls a Bolt of Flames at his younger brother, which Grey Wolf promptly blocks with a Sphere of Force. He then retaliates with a Shock Wave, which throws Meesha against the wall. Dazed, but not dead, Meesha casts a Fan of Flames spell at his little brother. Grey Wolf tumbles out of the way, and comes up with a Blast of Wind spell. This slams his brother's head into the wall with stone crushing force. Like Mesmira before, his skull shatters, splattering his brains all over the wall. Grey Wolf drops to his knees, covers his face with his hands, begins to sob, and then all goes black.
Thundarr picks Ariel up in his strong arms and carries her over to their bed. He lies her down on their silken sheets and kisses her gently on the lips. He slips his hand behind her neck and unbuttons her dress. Then he slides it down to her hips, and peels it off of his queen. The barbarian king then slips out of his own garments, and lies down on top of his beloved Ariel. He kisses her again, working his way down the sorceress's body. He stops at her ample bosom and nibbles on her nipples, eliciting a moan of pleasure from the queen. He kisses his way down her abdomen, stopping and flicking his tongue at her navel, causing her to laugh out loud as she's ticklish there. He continues to kiss her all the way down to her groin, where he stops and spends the next several minutes giving her oral pleasure. She grabs the pillows and arches her back, moaning, as her whole body tingles with pleasure at her king's touch. Then she grabs him by the hair and cries out in ecstasy as she climaxes.
Thundarr then slowly starts kissing his way back up her body, once again stopping to tickle her navel with his tongue. Then he kisses, sucks, and nibbles upon her breasts. Then he kisses her, deeply and passionately. He then slides his erect manhood up inside her womanly folds. They move together in harmonious rhythm, moaning, sweating, and staring lovingly into each other’s eyes. Faster and faster they move, wildly grinding their hips together, until they simultaneously climax with dual primal screams. Thundarr collapses into Ariel's arms, utterly spent. Ariel lies there, holding the barbarian in her arms. Then Thundarr gets up onto his knees, wraps his hands around Ariel's throat, and begins to squeeze. Ariel grasps the Barbarian's wrists, her eyes wide in shock and disbelief. Thundarr fights back the wave of emotions telling him to stop and continues squeezing. In what seems to Thundarr to take hours, but in truth was only a few moments, Ariel lies dead in their bed. Thundarr pulls her naked body against his, holds her head to his shoulder, lies back, and closes his eyes. Then all goes black.