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R David Fulcher

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An Encounter with Conan
By R David Fulcher
Monday, June 04, 2012

Rated "PG13" by the Author.

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A short adventure set in the world of Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian.

Lord Chieng Lou-Dze's numb fingers clutched desperately on to his last bottle of Parthenian wine.  It had seemed only yesterday he had purchased the wine during his westwardly passage through the Parthenian Hills, yet in truth it had been three months ince his departure from the royal palace of Shu-Chen on the road to adventure.

Damn this foolish heart! he spat into the icy earth, and the spittle quickly froze into a coin-sized disc as a reminder of his circumstances.

It had been during a long night of rice wine and concubines in Paiking that suddenly he had felt the urge to seek adventure, the urge for the clash of steel against steel.

But out here in the Cold Wastes of the forgotten North Lou-Dze's fortunes had changed, and after being beset by bandits (of which not a few were dispatched by his blade before being knocked unconscious) he had been chained to this snowy chunk of rock with only one bottle of wine to warm him, and his long bow and six arrows for defense.

At least his captors had a sense of humor!

Below him the carcasses of three large timber wolves lay frozen in their last howls of fury. As a youth Lou-Dze had been conscripted into the Khitian Provincial Army as an archer, and his aim still proved true after all of these years.  Three arrows; three kills--but more wolves would come tonight, and sooner or later he would spend his last shot.

Suddenly Lou-Dze heard a commotion in the distance.  Not believing his eyes after days without food or water, Lou-Dze rubbed them and blinked for good measure.

The scene remained the same--a large warrior on a huge black war horse being pursued by five warriors also on horseback.

The warrior had a Cimmerian aspect, and the pursuers were dressed like Picts.  The black horse was laboring heavily, and it was clear that the Cimmerian would soon be overtaken.

As the party passed near the snowy road beneath Lou-Dze, he dropped the bottle of wine and nocked an arrow in his bow, hoping his stiff fingers could still hold the bowstring steady as he drew it back.  His arrows were precious, but the warrior code could not allow such unfair odds for the Cimmerian, no matter what crime had been committed in Pictland.

To retain the element of surprise as long as possible, Lou-Dze chose the rider at the back of the pack as his target.  The arrow pierced the rider's heart and both rider and horse were left behind in the snowy mist.  The second rider was dispatched in a similar manner.  Sensing that something was wrong, the third rider pulled back on the reins of his mount, but the arrow still found its mark as it punctured his throat.

Now the hunters and the hunted both wheeled around to see what was happening.  The two remaining Picts were dismayed to find themselves alone, now the quarry instead of the predators.  The Cimmerian wasted no time and charged them.  His axe sang through the crystal air, and before Lou-Dze could release his held breath both Picts lay crumpled and bleeding in the snow, their mounts trotting off into the distance.

Scanning the hillside, the Cimmerian quickly spotted Lou-Dze among the rocks.  He carefully guided his steed up the rocky slope.  Although not ugly, the number of scars criss-crossing the Cimmerian's bare chest and barrel-like arms caused Lou-Dze to tremble with fear.  The Cimmerian raised his axe, and Lou-Dze stood up straight for the blow, dreaming of the distant lantern-lined streets of Shu-Chen.  Steel struck steel and sparks flew.  Reaching down, Lou-Dze found himself suddenly freed from his chains.

The Cimmerian offered Lou-Dze one huge hand. "Get on.  I am a very important man in Aquilonia, and have a place for such a sure bow in my kingdom."

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Reviewed by Ronald Hull 6/5/2012
While I am not fond of fantasy, I enjoyed the tale of Conan the Barbarian as depicted in the movie. I'm not sure where this story is going, but I find that stories written based on original stories pale when compared to the original.


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