After the sun rises, it soon
becomes too hot to continue on any further across the barren desert. Luckily,
the travelers come across a desert oasis where they can water their horses and
rest in relative comfort. As they're pitching their tents, Needle comes out of
his shield. The baby phoenix stretches and yawns, then sees the three new
additions to their group. The little phoenix squawks and flies over to Conan.
"Conan! Conan!" shouts Needle, "There bad people in the camp!"
"What?" says the black haired barbarian, "Where?"
"Over there!" says the little phoenix, "Setting up Star Girl's tent!"
"Hahahaha!" laughs Conan, "They are not bad people! They are enemies of Wrath-Amon. They are our new friends."
"Needle sense bad magic!" warns the phoenix, "Only bad people use bad magic!"
"What is the matter?" asks Glasya as she walks over to Conan and the magical bird.
"Needle here says he senses bad magic coming from you and your companions," explains Conan, "Though I don't understand how that can be."
"Mitra," gasps the succubus, in a very believable approximation of disbelief, "You have a baby phoenix?"
"Yes," says Conan, "He can be very useful, when he's not annoying everyone."
"Well I can assure you, little friend, that I am no more evil than Conan here," she says to Needle.
"Lies!" says the magical bird, "Lies! Lies! Lies! Just like Mesmira! She pretend to be Conan's friend then try to destroy Xanthus!"
"I have heard about that," says Delilah, now joining her queen, "Mesmira is a blight on all who study magic, and I would gladly challenge her to a duel if given half a chance!"
"More lies!" says Needle, "She and warrior woman surrounded in bad magic!"
"I have never known Needle to make a mistake about such a thing before, Conan," says Grey Wolf as he comes over to join his friends. He had overheard much of the conversation and it peeked his wizard's curiosity.
"Ah!" says Delilah, as though a thought had just occurred to her, "We all have acquired many magical trinkets from our battles with the snake men of Stygia. Many of my protective devices were created by evil wizards. Surely that must be the magic your little friend has sensed."
"Yes!" says Glasya, "My sword and my armor once belonged to a Stygian warrior woman. It was said that she was a favored champion of Wrath-Amon's, and that he had made them just for her, enchanted with the most powerful of magics. Certainly weapons and armor forged and enchanted by one such as Wrath-Amon would confuse even an adult phoenix's senses."
"The explanation does make sense," says Grey Wolf.
"Well," says the phoenix, "Maybe Needle is wrong. But Needle not think so."
"I agree with Grey Wolf," says Conan, "I think their explanation makes sense."
"Yeah, but you just big dumb barbarian," says Needle, "You not know anything about magic."
"But Grey Wolf does," says Conan, "And he doesn't think our new friends are evil either."
"Needle like gray wizard," says Needle, "But gray wizard been wrong before. Needle still not trust them."
"You don't have to," says Conan, "Just accept the fact that I do."
"Hmph!" says the phoenix, "Don't come crawling to Needle when big dumb barbarian finds out Needle was right!"
Then with that, the magical bird goes back into Conan's shield.
"My apologies," says Conan to the two newest additions to their party, "Needle can be a little . . . high strung at times."
"It's quite alright," replies Glasya, "Needle obviously cares a great deal about you. You should be glad to have such a companion."
"If only he weren't so irritating," growls the barbarian.
The two warriors and the two wizards all share a laugh at that. Over next to the spring of clean, clear drinking water in the oasis, Gideon is helping Jezmine pitch her tent. Once the shelter has been set, the rogue walks over to the acrobat with a mischievous grin on his face.
"So," he says, "What are the sleeping arrangements going to be?"
“I'll be sharing my tent with Princess Ariel," replies Jezmine, "Grey Wolf has agreed to loan his tent to your two lady friends. So you can either double up with Conan or Zula, or you can camp out under the stars with Thundarr and Ookla."
"And if I get cold?" asks the incubus.
"Throw another log on the fire," says Jezmine with a laugh.
"I prefer this kind of warmth," says Gideon, and he grabs the acrobat and kisses her passionately on the lips.
As Jezmine tries to push Gideon away, a red glowing energy escapes his mouth and enters hers. She pulls away from his grasp and then stands there, looking at him. She then grabs him and kisses him back, just as passionately. This time they separate more slowly. And as their lips part, a green glowing energy escapes Gideon's lips and slips in between Jezmine's.
"Perhaps we could rethink the sleeping arrangements," says Jezmine.
"Maybe later," says Gideon, "Tonight may be too soon."
"Very well, My Love," says Jasmine, "But don't keep me waiting too long."
After her near disastrous meeting with Needle, Glasya starts putting her plan into motion. She walks over to where Thundarr is building the campfire for the day’s meal. She kneels down next to him and places her hand on his muscular forearm.
"You said very little on the ride over here," she says, "Is everything alright?"
"Not really," says the blonde barbarian.
"What's wrong?" she asks, "Maybe I can help."
"What's wrong is the same on my world as it is on yours," says Thundarr, "Evil wizards always seem to ruin things for decent folk. No matter how many you vanquish, there always seems to be another one popping up a week later. There never seems to be an end to it."
"There will be," says Glasya, "We just have to take care of one wizard at a time. Eventually both of our worlds will run out."
Then Glasya kisses Thundarr passionately on the lips. Like with Gideon and Jezmine, a red glowing energy escapes the succubus' lips and enters Thundarr's mouth.
"Wh-what?" says the barbarian.
"Forgive me," says Glasya, "But I have not been with a man since Wrath-Amon took my Kalidor away from me. And you are so very much like my husband. Big, strong, courageous. I . . . I just couldn't help myself."
"I didn't say I didn't like it," says Thundarr, and this time he kisses her. As before, when their lips part, a green energy goes out from between her lips and enters through his.
"Can I join you in your tent tonight?" Thundarr asks her.
"Not tonight," says Glasya, "It will be too crowded. But soon."
"I will wait for you, My Love," says the barbarian.
"Of course you will," replies the succubus queen with a sly smile.
On the other side of the spring, Grey Wolf is washing away the dirt from his face when Delilah approaches him. She kneels down next to him and gently lays her hand upon his shoulder.
"You seem troubled, friend," she says with false concern in her voice, "Is there anything I can do to help?"
"No, dear lady," replies the wizard, "There is nothing anyone can do. My brother and sister were turned into wolves from the thorns of a lycanthrus plant. I have searched the world for a cure. And I will continue to search until the end of my days until I find it."
"Was it Wrath-Amon who did this terrible deed to your family?" asks the succubus.
"Nay. It was Mesmira, Queen Of Stygia, who did that foul deed. But she is as evil and wicked as Wrath-Amon, and nearly as powerful of a sorceress as well."
"My heart breaks for you," says Delilah, "We both have known such terrible suffering, such great loss."
With that, she kisses Grey Wolf passionately on the lips. As they pull apart, red glowing energy slips from Delilah's mouth and into Grey Wolf's. Then the wizard kisses the succubus back, just as passionately. This time when they part, a green magical glow slips from the mouth of the succubus into that of the wizard.
"Stay with me tonight," begs Grey Wolf.
"Nay, not tonight," replies Delilah, "I fear we would be taking advantage of our emotional state. But soon, if our feelings do not fade."
"I'm sure they will not," says the wizard.
"I'm sure you're right," replies the demon with a sly smile.
As the sun sets, the ten champions pack up their camp, mount their horses, and then continue on with their journey. The riding arrangements were the same as they were the day before, with Glasya riding behind Conan, Gideon riding behind Jezmine, and Delilah riding behind Grey Wolf. Princess Ariel notices that Thundarr seems to be glaring at the dark haired barbarian and his passenger, though she hardly understands why. She thought the two barbarians had put their differences aside. Jezmine and Gideon have been getting along very well, giggling all along the ride like a couple of love struck teenagers. The same could be said for Grey Wolf and Delilah. She's not sure why, but this strikes Ariel as being very wrong for some reason. They ride through the night with no incidents from Wrath-Amon's snake men. And few bandits would willingly attack such a large and formidable group as this. When the sun rises over the eastern horizon, they find that they have made very good time. Unfortunately there is no oasis nearby this time, so they have to camp out in the open. Luckily there is at least a bunch of boulders which can be used to help protect them from any winds which might kick up. So once again the ten companions set up camp to wait out the day's blazing sun. Conan sits and keeps watch as the others take their rest in the shade of their tents. As he's keeping watch, Glasya comes up behind him and lays a gentle hand upon his shoulder. Conan spins about with his hand on the hilt of his sword before realizing that it is just his new found friend.
"Crom's teeth, woman!" exclaims the barbarian, "You should know better than to sneak up on a barbarian like that!"
"My apologies, Conan," says the succubus queen, "I was just having difficulty sleeping in this heat."
"I don't blame you," says Conan, "By Crom it gets hot out in this desert."
"I wanted to talk to you," says Glasya, "We have so much in common, you and me."
"Yes," agrees Conan, "Wrath-Amon has hurt us both very badly."
"And we both fight very well," says Glasya.
"Aye," says Conan, "You fight better than many of the men in my tribe."
"And you are a much better fighter than any Stygian soldier," she says.
"Why, thank you."
"And you are very handsome."
"Thank you again," says the barbarian, beginning to feel a little uncomfortable.
"Do you find me attractive?" asks the succubus.
"A man would have to be an absolute fool, both deaf, dumb, and blind, to not find a woman such as you attractive," he says.
As he says that, Glasya kisses him passionately. As with Thundarr the day before, a red glow slips from her mouth into his. Conan stands there, dumbfounded for a moment, and then kisses her back. As their lips part a second time, a green glowing energy slips from her mouth into his.
"I . . . I haven't done that since Kalidor," says Glasya.
"I approve," says Conan, "Shall we retire to your tent?"
"It would be a little crowded in there with you, me, and Delilah," she replies, "perhaps after we get out of this gods forsaken desert, and we can finally be alone."
"Yes," says Conan, "Until then."
"Until then," says Glasya, and she slips away with an evil grin on her face.
Soon after, Zula comes out to relieve his blood brother of his guard duties. He sits and watches the dunes, seeking any sign of trouble, when a soft hand gently touches his arm and causes him to jump. There, standing next to him, is the lovely sorceress Delilah. Her daringly cut red gown looks even more enticing from the gentle desert breeze.
"You should not sneak up on me like that, my lady," says Zula, "You could get hurt."
"I'm sorry," says Delilah, "I didn't mean to startle you. I just couldn't sleep, and thought you could use a bit of company."
"Two sets of eyes can often see more than just one," agrees Zula, "Especially if one of those sets is aided by magic."
"I'll take that as a 'Yes' then," says the succubus with an innocent sounding laugh.
"I hope you do not intend to try and confront Wrath-Amon in a battle of magic when you meet him," says Zula, "If he destroyed your master, who was amongst the very best of battle wizards, I fear you would not fare much better."
"While I respect my master's accomplishments," says Delilah, "he was old and out of practice. He had not fought a wizard's duel in many years. While his spells were strong, his reflexes were slow and his skills rusty. I, however, am in the prime of my youth. I have learned his lessons well, and I have studied every scrap of parchment in his library. While I am hardly up to the task of facing Wrath-Amon in a magical duel, yet, my spells and my skills are not going unused and I grow more powerful every day. And every time I meet a new wizard, like your friends Grey Wolf and Ariel, I take it upon myself to learn all I can from them for as long as I'm in their company."
"I am sorry, my lady," says Zula, "I meant no offense."
"No offense is taken," says Delilah, "If I sounded harsh, it's only because of my deep hatred of that damned Wrath-Amon."
"I completely understand," replies Zula.
"Forgive me?" she asks.
"As you said, there is nothing to forgive."
"Thank you," says Delilah, and with that she kisses Zula passionately on the lips. As she and the dark skinned prince pull apart from one another, a red glowing energy escapes Delilah's mouth and enters Zula's. Then the prince kisses her back, just as passionately. They hold their embrace for many moments before they release each other. This time when they part, a green glowing energy slips from Delilah's mouth into Zula's.
"Come to my tent with me," says Zula.
"Not now," says Delilah, "It is too crowded. There are too many of us, and too few tents. When we reach civilization, you and I will be together.
"I can hardly wait," says Zula.
"Nor I," agrees Delilah.
Later in the day it is Princess Ariel's turn to stand watch. As she's keeping an eye out for trouble, trouble silently walks up behind her in the form of the handsome Gideon. He gently lays a soft hand upon her bare shoulder, causing the sorceress to jump in surprise.
"Gideon!" she hisses, "Don't do that! You startled me!"
"I'm sorry, Your Highness," says the incubus, "I sometimes forget how softly I tread. It is an occupational hazard."
"What are you doing out here?" asks the sorceress, "Why aren't you in bed?"
"Does a gentleman need to have a reason to seek the company of a beautiful woman?" asks Gideon.
"In this day and age?" replies Ariel, "Yes."
"To be honest," he says, "there is something that I've been wanting to do since the very moment I had laid eyes on you."
"And what's that?" asks Ariel suspiciously.
"Only this," he replies, and he grabs the sorceress around the waist and kisses her passionately upon the lips.
As the sorceress pulls herself away from the incubus' embrace, a glowing red energy slips from his mouth and into hers. Then she kisses him back, even more passionately. This time their embrace lasts much longer. When Ariel finally comes up for air, a green glowing energy escapes Gideon's mouth and enters hers. She looks up at him with loving eyes.
"Come back to my tent with me," she says.
"And what of Thundarr?" asks Gideon.
"To Hell with Thundarr," says Ariel, "You're the one I want."
"Later," says the incubus, "when things aren't quite so . . . cramped."
"Promise?" asks Ariel coyly.
"Absolutely," agrees Gideon as he turns and walks away, grinning like the proverbial cat that ate the canary.
Later on, while it is Glasya's turn on watch, the Queen Of The Succubi slips away from the camp. Once she's out of earshot and is certain that she had not been followed, she draws her sword. She looks into the mirror like reflection of her blade and concentrates on messaging Wrath-Amon. In a moment, the evil wizard's image appears in the blade.
"Well?" asks the wizard, "Report!"
"Everything is in motion," whispers Glasya, "The humans have all been enchanted with spells of lust and envy."
"What?" cries Wrath-Amon, "You were supposed to destroy them, not make them fall in love!"
"Oh, they will be destroyed, Your Greatness," says the succubus, "Over time, they will become obsessed with the persons of their desires. They will become insanely jealous, and destroy anyone who they see as an obstacle between them and those they desire. Even if that person is their best friend. Within a few days . . . They will destroy each other."
Wrath-Amon throws his head back and begins laughing at this. How gloriously cruel. He only wishes he had come up with something so truly twisted and evil. When his laughter subsides, he glares at the succubus.
"Clever," he says, "But be sure you do not fail me, demon queen. For the torments of Hell are nothing compared to the tortures I have planned should you fail me!"
And with that, the image of Wrath-Amon vanishes from the sword blade. Glasya sheaths the weapon and walks back to camp to return to her position as 'guard'. There she sits, and she waits.