“Jewels of Gwahlur” is one of the original short stories starring the fictional sword and sorcery hero Conan the Cimmerian, written by American author Robert E. Howard. Set in the pseudo-historical Hyborian Age, it concerns several parties, including Conan, fighting over and hunting for the eponymous treasure in Hyborian Africa. The tale was first published in the March 1935 issue of Weird Tales. Howard’s original title for the story was “The Servents of Bit-Yakin“.

The story

The story begins with Conan ascending the cliffs to the ancient, deserted city of Alkmeenon, seeking the fabled Teeth of Gwahlur. He encounters a mummified body holding a cryptic parchment in a cave, which hints at the mysteries surrounding the treasure and the ancient city.

Conan’s quest leads him to the palace of Alkmeenon, where he first encounters Muriela, a girl posing as the oracle of the goddess Yelaya, under the guidance of her Stygian master, Zargheba. Zargheba plans to use Muriela’s impersonation to control the kingdom of Keshan and lay hands on the treasure. However, Conan thwarts this plan, exposing Muriela’s true identity and forcing her to flee with him.

As they seek the treasure, they are pursued by the priests of Keshan, devout followers of Yelaya, and Gwarunga, a treacherous priest conspiring with Zargheba. The plot thickens with the introduction of the supernatural guardians of the treasure, the servants of Bit-Yakin, ancient beings protecting the secrets of Alkmeenon.

Conan and Muriela face numerous perils, including a near-death encounter with the servants of Bit-Yakin and the machinations of the priests. The climax occurs in the cavern where the Teeth of Gwahlur are hidden. Conan battles the monstrous servants and retrieves the treasure, but in a moment of crisis, chooses to save Muriela over securing the wealth.

The story concludes with Conan and Muriela escaping the valley, leaving behind the cursed treasure and the dark secrets of Alkmeenon. Conan, ever resourceful and undeterred by the loss of the treasure, plans a new adventure with Muriela by his side.

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  • Conan: The protagonist, a formidable warrior and adventurer seeking the Teeth of Gwahlur. His journey leads him into the heart of a sinister plot, pitting his wits and strength against various foes.
  • Muriela: A young, beautiful dancer involved in a scheme to deceive the priests of Keshan. She is coerced into impersonating the oracle Yelaya but becomes a reluctant ally to Conan.
  • Gorulga: The high priest of Keshan, deeply devout and ultimately a victim of the dark forces at play in the quest for the Teeth of Gwahlur.
  • Thutmekri: A Stygian prince and antagonist who schemes to obtain the Teeth for his own gain, using deceit and manipulation.
  • Zargheba: A Shemitish rogue involved in the plot with Thutmekri. He is responsible for orchestrating part of the deception involving Muriela.
  • Gwarunga: A servant of Bit-Yakin, part of the ancient and mysterious guardians of the secret of the Teeth. He plays a pivotal role in the unfolding of events within the story.
  • The Servants of Bit-Yakin: Mysterious and ancient beings who guard the Teeth of Gwahlur and the secrets of the temple, they are remnants of a long-forgotten era.
  • Yelaya: The preserved body of an ancient princess, worshipped as a goddess. Her oracle is central to the plot, with various factions seeking to manipulate her prophecies for their own ends.

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The L. Sprague de Camp edited version of this story appears in the following places: