It has been many days since the
companions have started their trek across The Dune Sea. If it weren't for Zula
and Conan's knowledge of the stars in the night sky, and Grey Wolf's and
Ariel's magic, Thundarr and Ookla could have easily become lost in this vast
desert. Despite the long journey, they still seem to be a long way from The
Hermit's home. They travel mostly by night, continuing on well into the morning
and not stopping to set up camp until the heat from the sun is too much for them
to bear. As they travel, they talk amongst each other. The more time that goes
by, the closer the traveling companions become. It isn't long before they have
developed deep friendships. Ookla begins teaching Zula and Jezmine to
understand the mok language. Between Zula's ability to communicate with
animals, simple sign language, and pantomiming, both the prince and the acrobat
become fluent enough to understand a few simple phrases in the mok tongue.
Ariel and Grey Wolf teach each other new spells, and Thundarr is not blind to
the attraction that they seem to feel for each other. He is unsure as to what
he thinks about this, as he can't help but feel a twinge of jealousy. For his
part, any ill feelings between himself and Conan have been forgotten. They find
each other to be excellent sparring partners, and both of their swordsmanship
skills have improved greatly in the short time they've been together. Conan
notices that Jezmine can't seem to take her eyes off of the blonde warrior. He
doesn't know why, but he feels a jolt of jealousy at the thought.
One night, when they're about halfway through the desert, the seven companions hear the sounds of battle coming from up ahead. They kick their mounts into a gallop and head towards the sound. As they crest the top of a sand dune, down below they see a group of three people, a man and two women, doing battle with at least a dozen or more of Wrath-Amon's soldiers. The man and the dark haired woman are battling their enemies with swords, while the blonde woman appears to be a sorceress, as she hurls flames and lightning from her fingertips. Conan draws his blade.
"Wrath-Amon's soldiers!" says the barbarian.
"Very brave when they outnumber their enemies, aren't they?" says Thundarr as he grabs his Sunsword and ignites the blade.
"What do you say we even the odds?" asks Ariel.
"I thought you'd never ask," replies Grey Wolf.
The seven of them kick their horses into a gallop and charge down the large dune. Zula whirls his bolas over his head. Jezmine takes her shurikens off of her bracer and gets ready to throw them. Ookla takes out his composite bow and readies a stun arrow. Grey Wolf takes off his cape and casts the spell to turn it into a flying carpet, and then he and Princess Ariel get on and fly up over head, prepared to launch their spells to aid their friends.
"Yaaaaa-heee!" shouts Thundarr, his infamous battle cry.
The three surrounded adventurers turn towards their saviors and smile at their 'timely' arrival. Glasya shield punches one of the soldiers in the back of the head, knocking him to the ground. Another soldier recovers from the shock of seeing the seven companions charging towards the fray and thrusts his spear at the woman warrior. Glasya slashes the spear with her enchanted blade, cutting the shaft in two. The serpent man looks at his spear shaft in astonishment, and Glasya knocks him out with a well-placed spin kick. A third serpent man charges her, his battle-ax held above his head in preparation to cut her down. She punches him square in the face, knocking him down to the sandy ground.
Meanwhile, Gideon is dancing about the serpent men, parrying their attacks with his rapier and then retaliating with a humiliating slap on the backside with his blade. Enraged, the serpent men attack with fury. The dashing swashbuckler simply laughs and avoids their clumsy attempts to hit him with the grace of a dancer. He then retaliates with more humiliating pokes and slaps of his rapier, never truly harming them but always making sure that they know that he could if he wanted to.
As the other two are engaging the serpent men in martial combat, Delilah keeps them busy with her spells. She hurls balls of energy at them, which explode all about the serpent men and forces them to hide behind their shields. She binds some of them in bands of magical energy. Others she hurls away with great gusts of magical wind. And if any of them get too close to her, she conjures an invisible wall of magical energy which deflects their attacks. As she's preparing to cast another spell, two of the serpent men she's battling are thrown face first into the sand. She looks and sees that Grey Wolf and Princess Ariel are riding the wizard's cape at top speed to come to her aid, the hands of the sorceress and the staff of the wizard crackling with magical energy.
Zula rides towards the snake men, whirling his bolas over his head. He throws the weapon at a pair of spear wielding soldiers, binding them together. The Star Metal weights of the weapon glows a bright blue in the close proximity of the hated snake folk. All of Wrath-Amon's soldiers who are near the bolas revert to their reptilian form, as the metal breaks the enchantment that maintains their human disguise. The blue glow of Zula's bolas spreads across the bodies of the two trapped snake people. A vortex opens up above their heads and they're sucked into The Abyss to rejoin their evil master, Set, leaving behind empty suits of armor. Still glowing blue, the Bolas fly back into Zula's outstretched hand.
As the two serpent men are being sucked into The Abyss, Jezmine hurls her shuriken at four more of the reptiles. Each Star Metal throwing star hits its intended target with pinpoint accuracy. Like Zula's bolas, the throwing stars glow a blue radiance when they're in close proximity to the snake men. Each shuriken digs deep into the bronze breast plates of the snake people's armor, covering their targets bodies with a bright blue glow, and then sending them to The Abyss to join their brethren. Once again they leave behind their empty suits of armor. Just as with Zula's bolas, Jezmine's shuriken fly back to their resting place on her magnetized bracer of their own accord.
Thundarr rides his white stallion into a throng of serpent men, his Sunsword flashing back and forth furiously. While the Sunsword may not be able to send these snake men into The Abyss where they belong, the way the weapons of Conan and his friends can, Thundarr was able to render most of this group weaponless. For after just that one pass, most of those snake men have their weapons lying at their feet in two pieces. Thundarr had cut through their swords, spears, and axes as though they were made of paper.
As the serpent people are distracted by the blonde barbarian, Ookla rides by on his equart and jumps off, tackling the group to the ground. The mok gets back up, grabbing two of Wrath-Amon's soldiers by the scruffs of their necks and slamming their heads together, rendering them unconscious. Three more of the reptiles make the mistake of charging Ookla. The mok grabs them up in a mighty bear hug and squeezes them until they stop struggling. Once they go limp, he throws them into another group which Thundarr had not disarmed, knocking them all to the ground. The mok then takes up his bow and fires stun arrows once, twice, three times. Each projectile hits a snake man, rendering him unconscious.
Grey Wolf and Princess Ariel ride the wizard's cape over to Delilah. They leap from the magical garment and stand next to the sorceress, prepared to cast their spells in her defense. A group of three snake men try to rush the three spell casters, but Grey Wolf sends them flying away with a magical whirlwind. Two more snake men charge them, but Ariel casts a spell at the ground under their feet. The sand starts swirling about like a whirlpool, sucking the serpent men into the ground until they're buried up to their necks.
Conan rides his mighty stallion, Thunder, into the fray and swings his mighty sword with great fury. Every time his star metal blade so much as touches the flesh of the snake men, a vortex opens up and the servants of Set are dragged into The Abyss to join their dark master. Then he and Thundarr both leap from the backs of their mounts and join up with the red haired swashbuckler and his chainmail clad lady-friend. Then, standing shoulder to shoulder, the four of them charge at the scaly soldiers. The woman and her companion's skill are admirable, but their weapons don't compare to the star metal weapons of Conan and his friends, or to the Sunsword.
Those who don't fall to Conan and Thundarr's blades turn tail and run. Ookla fires after them with his composite bow, and Zula and Jezmine throw their star metal weapons after them. As these are evil serpent men, none of the companions harbor any ill feelings about striking them from behind. Those struck by Jezmine's shuriken and Zula's bolas are banished to The Abyss. While those struck by Ookla's stun arrows are knocked out momentarily. Long enough for Conan to walk up to their unconscious forms and send them all to The Abyss. When the battle is over, Conan and Thundarr walk over to these new travelers.
"We thank you for your help," says the Glasya, "Wrath-Amon may have been able to defeat us that time had it not been for your timely arrival."
"Any enemies of that slime dweller is a friend of ours," replies Conan.
"You fight well," says Thundarr, "for a female."
"It takes more than just muscle to swing a sword, barbarian," replies the woman warrior.
"Your weapons," says Delilah, "by Mitra, I have never seen anything like them."
"They are made of Star Metal," explains Grey Wolf, "Any serpent man touched by them is sent straight into The Abyss."
"To join their evil snake god, Set," adds Zula.
"Amazing," says Gideon.
"Who are you?" asks Princess Ariel, "And why did Wrath-Amon send his soldiers after you?"
"My name is Glasya," replies the warrior, "With me is our clever rogue, Gideon, and the mighty sorceress, Delilah. As for why Wrath-Amon wishes us destroyed? We've all sworn vengeance against him for the many evils he had committed. Apparently he grows tired of our constant interference in his plans."
"Well met Glasya," says Conan, "I am Conan of Cimmeria. These are my friends, Jezmine the circus acrobat, Zula of The Wasai, and the wizard Grey Wolf of Xanthus. And then these others are Thundarr, a fellow barbarian, though not of my tribe. The girl is Princess Ariel, a sorceress. And their big hairy friend is Ookla, a mok."
"And where are they from?" asks Delilah.
"From another world," answers Ariel, "One very similar, but still very different, from this one."
"So why do you fight Wrath-Amon?" asks Thundarr.
"We all have our reasons," replies Glasya, "We've all lost loved ones to that sorcerer's evil. I lost my husband and my little girl."
"How?" asks Jezmine.
"My husband, Kalidor, was the finest swordsmith in all of Aquilonia," she says, "People came from miles around just to purchase one of his blades. One day, Wrath-Amon came and demanded that Kalidor return to Stygia with him to forge weapons for his soldiers. Kalidor refused. When my husband said 'no', Wrath-Amon cast an evil spell, turning him to stone."
"Crom," says Conan, "He cast the same spell upon my own family."
"My daughter, Sonja, ran out to her father before I could stop her," continues the raven haired warrior woman, "and the remaining mist from his spell turned her to stone as well. In anger, I took up one of my husband's blades and attacked the wizard. His guards were too many, and I was taken captive and forced into slavery."
"I know what you are going through," says Conan, "But you cannot lose hope. You may yet be able to save your family."
"Nay, barbarian," says Glasya, "There is no hope for my family. For I was not an obedient slave, and I defied my masters at every opportunity. Then one day, Wrath-Amon delivered the worst possible punishment. I was forced to stand and watch as he destroyed the stone statues that were my husband and daughter, along with any chance I had of breaking their curse."
"Mitra," says Jezmine in horror.
"Wrath-Amon did with one stroke of his black ring what no amount of lashes with a whip could achieve. He broke my spirit."
"That . . . That is terrible," says Grey Wolf, "You have my deepest sympathies."
"It was then that I was sent away to build one of his accursed pyramids," she continues, "some months later, a couple of the slaves organized a revolt, and all of the slaves sailed free."
"How long ago was this?" asks Zula.
"About a year ago," replies Glasya.
"That was about the same time we met, my blood brother," Zula says to Conan, "It could very well be the very revolt we started that granted her freedom."
"If it was," says the dark haired woman, "then once again, I thank you."
"And what of your friends?" asks Thundarr, "Why do they battle Wrath-Amon?"
"I was once a soldier in the Zamoran army," says Gideon, "I was the finest scout in the whole nation. None could find a trail, or slip through the wilderness unseen, as well as I. I was barely more than a boy, but I was praised by all the officers for my skills with sword and stealth. Then one day I returned to my home village for a visit, only to find it in ruins. There was no sign of any living thing in the whole area. Everyone who was there were either taken captive, or killed. My parents. My brother. My sisters. They were all gone. Among the wreckage I had found a Stygian war banner. It was Wrath-Amon's troops who attacked my village, and I swore revenge. Ever since I have been relieving any Stygian snake lover I see of their valuables, them and their allies. I keep only what I need and give the rest to the poor peasants who can barely feed themselves."
"So you're a thief," says Conan.
"Technically," says Gideon with a shrug, "But the only thing I'll steal from a non-Stygian, is the heart of a beautiful woman."
With that, Gideon kisses Princess Ariel's hand, causing the sorceress to giggle and blush. The incubus in the form of a man does not miss the frowns that he receives from Thundarr and Grey Wolf as he does this. He simply smiles and gives a graceful bow to the beautiful spell caster. She giggles again, and then gives the dashing rogue a curtsy in reply.
"And how about you, my lady?" Grey Wolf asks Delilah, "What is your story?"
"I was the apprentice of the great war wizard, Sulimon Morphela," says the blonde succubus.
"Sulimon Morphela?" says the wizard, "I have heard of him! He is said to be one of the greatest war wizards who ever lived! But, no one has heard from him for years."
"Yes," says Delilah, "And now thanks to Wrath-Amon, no one ever will again. You see, my master had grown so famous for his skill at magical combat that everywhere he went some young upstart sorcerer would challenge him to a duel. He eventually tired of fighting and sought seclusion, so he left the world of civilization behind. I wanted to learn magic from the very best sorcerer around, so I sought him out. It took a great deal of time and effort on my part, but I finally managed to track him down. Apparently this impressed him, for he granted my request to study under him. He became like the father I never had. Then one day Wrath-Amon showed up, challenging my master to a duel. While still a mighty wizard, he had not fought a real battle in years. He lost. Wrath-Amon left me alone. I suppose he felt that a mere apprentice wasn't worth the effort of destroying. I continued my studies alone, without my master's guidance. I scoured every tome, every scroll, tried every wand in that tower, until I had learned all that I could in my master's sanctum. Ever since then I have been scouring the globe, learning all I can of sorcery, and attacking Wrath-Amon's snake men where ever I find them."
"The three of us just sort of bumped into each other one day," says Gideon, "And once we had learned that we're all on pretty much the same mission, we decided to join forces. We've been pretty much inseparable ever since."
"So what are you three doing out here in the middle of the desert?" asks Zula, "With no horses and no supplies, only the clothes on your backs?"
"We had camels," replies Glasya, "but they were chased off by the snake men. I fear that we will never find them now."
"Then come join us," says Conan, "We're on our way to deliver a crippling blow to Wrath-Amon, and to Set."
"Are you sure you can spare the supplies?" asks Delilah.
"As long as Ookla keeps himself from eating everyone else's share of the food, there should be plenty," says Ariel with a laugh.
"Very well then," says Glasya, "We accept your offer."
The seven companions help their three apparent new allies onto their horses. Glasya rides behind Conan on Thunder. She wraps her arms tightly around his muscular torso, and doesn't miss the look of jealousy on Jezmine's face when she sees the succubus resting her head comfortably on the back of Conan's shoulder. Gideon rides behind Jezmine on her horse, and is fully aware of the jealous look in Conan's eyes as the incubus gently caresses the acrobat's hips. And Delilah rides behind Grey Wolf on his horse, noting the distrusting look she's receiving from Princess Ariel. Then the seven adventurers and the three demons ride off across the desert.