Thundarr The Barbarian in The Wrath Of Crom

Chapter 22

After the defeat of the wizard Crom, the companions rejoice. They return to the ruins of Washington DC, where they celebrate with the villagers who dwell there. There is a great feast, with roasted meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, strong drink, music and dancing. Even Ookla tries to join in on the dancing, although his clumsiness causes him to trip and fall more often than not, much to the amusement of his friends. Moks are renowned for their great strength and being excellent archers, but they are terrible dancers. Ookla takes it all in stride and even joins them in their mirth.

Princess Ariel approaches Grey Wolf and his siblings, Sasha and Meesha, holding a pair of ancient wine bottles sealed with corks. She hands the bottles to the two wizards who had just been cured of their lycanthropy.

"Here," she says, "perhaps these will aid you in helping anyone else infected by that lycanthrus plant."

"What is it?" Grey Wolf asks.

"Water from the enchanted pool," replies Ariel, "Not enough to bathe in, I'm afraid. But perhaps you can use them to brew a magic potion."

"Thank you, Princess," says Meesha, "You are as generous as you are beautiful."

Ariel smiles and accepts the compliment with a polite bow. Conan walks up to the four spell casters.

"I don't suppose that water will do my family any good," he says.

"I don't know," replies Ariel, "I've only ever seen it work on curing lycanthropy, never petrification."

"Fear not, my friend," says Grey Wolf, "My brother, sister, and I will study this magical water in our wizard's laboratory back home. If it can be used to cure your family, we will do so."

"There may be other sources of power you can take back home with you to help your family though," says Ariel.

"What do you mean?" Asks Thundarr, who had just come over to see what his friends were discussing.

"Do you remember the magical pool of the Silicoids, last time we battled the wizard Gemini?"

"How could I forget?" asks Thundarr, "He was going to use it to turn me to stone."

"He was going to turn you to stone?" Conan asks, "Like Wrath-Amon did to my family?"

"Aye," says Thundarr, "But I fail to see how those waters can help someone already turned to stone."

"The same way that snake and insect venom are used to create antitoxins," says Ariel, "If Grey Wolf and his family can study the mystical waters in their laboratory . . ."

"Then they may be able to use it to find a cure," finishes Conan as he grasps the logic.

"Yes," says Thundarr, "Now I understand."

"The pool of the Silicoids is very far from here," Ariel explains to their new friends, "It will take many days of hard riding to get there. And we may run into trouble along the way."

"We are no strangers to trouble," says Jezmine, as she had arrived just in time to hear the last little bit of the conversation.

"And I will stay here as long as it takes, if that is what I must do to help my family," says Conan.

"And where my blood brother goes," says the approaching Zula, "I follow."

"Then it is settled," says Thundarr, "Tomorrow we travel south, to the lair of the Silicoids!"

"We should stop by the village of Beverly, Thundarr," says Ariel.

"Why?" asks the blonde barbarian.

"It's on the way to the lair of the Silicoids," explains the princess, "And we should stop by The Pool of Power."

"Why?" Thundarr asks again, "The Sunsword does not need to be recharged again. It's as mighty as ever."

"The magic liquid of the pool might aid Grey Wolf and his family in their research on how to restore Conan's family."

"Can this magical pool you speak of change stone to flesh?" Conan asks.

"Not that I know of," admits Ariel, "But it may be an important ingredient in creating a magical potion that will. I'm only guessing, but there's no harm in trying."

"Then I say we stop at this . . . Beverly, and acquire this magical liquid," says Conan.

"As you wish, my friend," says Thundarr, "When it comes to the ways of magic, I have learned to trust in Ariel's judgement."

"It's settled then," says Ariel, "First to Beverly. Then on to the Silicoids!"

"Aye," agrees Thundarr, "Then we should get our rest. We leave at first light."

The next morning the nine companions pack up their gear, mount up, and ride south. Despite their exhausted and hung over conditions, they manage to get an early start and make good time. The journey to Mexico, where the lair of the Silicoids is located, is blessedly uneventful. No new wizards had taken up residence in the lands between Washington DC and Mexico where Thundarr, Ariel, and Ookla had vanquished the ruling wizards years ago. And few bandits or mutants would willingly attack so large and well-armed a group. Indeed, with three well-armed warriors, four powerful sorcerers, a mok, an acrobat, and a baby phoenix, if any such groups were foolish enough to attack them, they wouldn't make the same mistake twice.

They eventually reach the lair of the Silicoids. Collecting liquid from the Pool of Power was a relatively easy affair. Collecting the liquid from the Silicoids' pool is somewhat trickier. Princess Ariel has to use her magic to fill empty wine bottles with the mystical liquid. She also uses her magic to insert the corks, so as not to risk touching the liquid and that part of her body turning to stone. Now their three wizard friends have two bottles of liquid from each of the three pools, to study and hopefully find cures for the curses of Wrath-Amon and other dark wizards.

It is now finally time for Conan and his friends to return home. They say their final farewells to their new friends. Thundarr and Conan clasp wrists in the brotherhood of warriors.

"Farewell," says Thundarr, "If ever you have need of me, and you can find a way to contact me, I will gladly fight by your side any day."

"And I you," replies Conan. Thundarr's white stallion whinnies, and Conan strokes the animal’s mane. "He is a magnificent animal," remarks Conan, "You should find him a name."

"Perhaps I will," says Thundarr, "Any suggestions?"

"My horse's name is Thunder," says Conan, "Why don't you name yours Lightning?"

"Lightning," ponders Thundarr out loud, "I like the sound of that."

Jezmine gives Ariel a hug goodbye. "I'll miss you," she says.

"I'll miss you too," replies Ariel, "I've never really had any girlfriends before."

"That's what happens when the open road is your home," admits Jezmine. She looks over to see Thundarr saying his goodbyes to Zula. "He really loves you, you know," she whispers to her, indicating Thundarr with a nod of her head.

"I know," says Ariel, "He has his own way of showing it, but I know."

Zula walks up to Ookla and scratches him behind the ear. "I shall miss you, my animal brother," he says. Ookla howls a reply and scoops the Wasai prince up in a great bear hug. "I couldn't have said it better," he gasps in reply.

"Thank you again for these magical liquids," Grey Wolf says to Ariel.

"I only hope they prove useful," she replies.

"I'm sure they will," says the gray wizard, "I have a very good feeling about them."

"Then use them well," she says as she gives him a warm hug and a kiss on the cheek.

"Farewell, barbarian," Jezmine says as she gives Thundarr a hug around the neck and a friendly kiss on the cheek. She looks over at Ariel as the sorceress is saying goodbye to Grey Wolf's brother and sister. "You take good care of that girl," she whispers to him as she pokes her finger into his muscular chest, "or you'll have to answer to me."

"I tremble at the thought," says Thundarr with a smile, "But I give you my word. No harm will come to Ariel so long as I am there to protect her."

"Be sure that it doesn't," replies the acrobat.

Finally it is time for Conan and his friends to leave. They have all said their goodbyes and shared promises to meet up again should the fates allow it. Princess Ariel points the World Wands at a clearing and says, "The courtyard of the city of Xanthus in Hyborea!"

Red beams of energy shoot out of the red crystals on the tops of the wands. A large ring of red glowing energy forms in the clearing. In the center of this ring is the image of the courtyard of the city of Xanthus. Conan, Grey Wolf, and their friends ride towards the red ring, as Thundarr, Ariel, and Ookla wave goodbye. They ride their mounts through the ring and vanish, reappearing in the image of Xanthus' courtyard. As soon as they do, Princess Ariel closes the gate. Once the gate is closed, she tosses the twin wands upon the ground. Thundarr takes out his Sunsword and ignites the blade, then brings it down upon the wands. There is a great explosion, which knocks all three of them from their feet. When they look to where the wands had been, there is nothing left but a black mark scorched upon the earth. Thundarr extinguishes the Sunswords fiery blade and places it back upon its bracer.

"They're home," says Ariel.

"And The World Wands are no more," adds Thundarr.

"Do you think Conan will find a cure for his family?" Ariel asks.

"I hope so," replies the barbarian, "We are kindred spirits, he and I." He walks over to his white stallion and starts stroking its mane. "Lightning," he says again, "I like it. It is a good name for a good and loyal steed."

"I shall name my horse too," says Ariel as she strokes her mare's coat, "I think I'll call her Chestnut."

"Chestnut?" Thundarr says, "It's your horse. I suppose you can call it whatever you want."

Ookla howls something in his bestial tongue.

"Comet?" Thundarr asks, "Why name your equart Comet?"

Ookla howls a reply.

"Aye," says the barbarian, "I suppose there would be no equarts if there were no comet two thousand years ago."

"And no moks either," adds Ariel.

The three of them mount their newly named mounts. Thundarr gets Lightning to rear up on his hind legs.

"Ariel! Ookla! RIIIIDE!"

And the three of them ride off into the sunset.

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Conan, Jezmine, Zula, Grey Wolf, Sasha, and Meesha all arrive safely in Xanthus. They turn towards the portal and wave goodbye to their new friends one last time before it closes. As the gate disappears, Grey Wolf turns to the others.

"We should go immediately to my family's palace," he says, "The sooner we can begin studying these liquids in our laboratory, the sooner we can . . ."

The wizard is cut off by the anguished screams of his brother and sister. Grey Wolf turns to see the two of them holding their sides in agony. Both wizards fall from their horses and land hard upon the cobble stones. There's a loud crash as the bottles of magical liquid in their packs shatter.

"Sasha! Meesha! Noooo!" Grey Wolf cries.

The two wizards' fingernails become black claws. Their teeth become fangs. Their hands and feet become paws. Gray fur sprouts all over their bodies. Their clothes become shredded rags. And in moments, they are wolves once more.

"The magic of the pool," says Grey Wolf, "It must not have been able to permanently cure them."

"Ariel did say that lycanthropy of her world might be very different from ours," says Zula.

"What of the bottles?" Conan asks, "Did any of the bottles survive the fall?"

Grey Wolf looks through his siblings packs, and sadly shakes his head.

"I am sorry my friend," he says, "They are all broken. And their contents are contaminated. Even with the aid of our water wizards, they cannot be salvaged. Any help they may have provided your family has been lost."

"Perhaps," says Conan, "But you had succeeded in curing your family at least, if only for a little while. I suppose we should be glad of that."

"I suppose you're right," says Grey Wolf, "And I will not stop looking for a cure. For my family, or for yours."

"Of that, my friend," says Conan, "I have no doubt."

"Then let us rest here," says the wizard, "We can resume our quest in the morning."

"I second that," says Jezmine.

"Agreed," adds Zula.

"The morning then," agrees Conan.

"Come," says Grey Wolf, "We will stay at my family's palace. There's plenty of room for all of us."

The four companions head off towards the wizard's home with the two wolves, Sasha and Meesha, in tow for a good night’s rest.

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Glasya sits upon her throne in Hell, fuming over her defeat on Hyborea. It was bad enough to be beaten by a mere mortal. But by an ignorant barbarian? That was insufferable! The other Demon Lords of Hell already consider her to be beneath them in stature, even while they desire her for their beds. Now she's a virtual laughing stock. She may never be able to live down this humiliation. Demons have long memories, very long indeed. Just then, her lieutenant Gideon arrives. He bows before his mistress in respect and fear. The she-demon struggles between the desire to flay the flesh from the incubus' bones and ravishing his body. Ever does her lust for blood mingle with her lust for flesh. And with her current mood, the lust for blood is rapidly becoming dominant.

"What do you want?" She demands.

"I bring thee a gift," says the incubus, "One that I'm sure thou shall be pleased with."

"I am in no mood for your games Gideon," growls Glasya, "Speak plainly!"

"As you wish, my queen," replies the demon.

Gideon motions behind him with his arm and corresponding bat-like wing. Through the smoke of the eternal fires of Hell come two succubi. Held between them is the limp form of what appears to be a man. He wears the robes of a wizard, ripped, torn, and filthy. His exposed flesh is cut, bruised, and swollen in a dozen places. His skin is a sickly gray. At first Glasya thought him to be dead. Then she realizes that he was born with gray skin. This is a mortal stranded in Hell. Normally, such a morsel wouldn't last more than a few minutes in that infernal plane of existence. The fact that this one lived was somewhat of a minor miracle. However, as much as Glasya enjoyed torturing mortals, they were frail creatures. Even if this one could survive to live out the rest of his natural life, he would die of old age long before her century of banishment was over.

"It's a mortal," she comments, "So?"

"So this is the wizard Crom," says Gideon, "The very same wizard that sent the barbarian Thundarr and his companions to Hyborea. Had it not been for him, Wrath-Amon may very well never have summoned us to do his bidding."

"Is he?" says the demon queen, "Is he indeed?" If there was one thing that Glasya loved more than sex, it was vengeance. "Tell me Crom," she says, "Tell me everything you know about the barbarian Thundarr and his friends. The more you talk, the longer you're likely to live."

The Queen of the Succubi laughs evilly as the wizard Crom cowers at her feet, beaten and afraid. He bows his head and begins to sob, causing the demon queen to laugh all the harder. Her minions join in her mirth, and begin crowding around the helpless mortal.

THE END

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