JUST ANOTHER RAID

(or:

CIMMERIANS NEVER, NEVER, NEVER SHALL BE SLAVES)

rev. F

Screenplay copyright 1998 Steve Block and Brian Bevel

FADE IN:

P.O.V. VIEW FROM SPACE

The Earth as seen from near space, as if from a satellite camera, to the accompaniment of a march, with emphasis on drums, trumpets,  and deep‑toned horns, suggesting the relentless tread of sandalled feet.  Clouds are carefully arranged to avoid obscuring continental outlines and other necessary details.  As continental Europe rotates into view, the Voiceover begins, and Europe slowly begins to morph into Robert E. Howard’s map of Hyborea;  an ice age intervenes; when the glaciers clear, we see the continental outlines of the Hyborean Age.

VOICEOVER

Know, 0 Prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of,

(the morphing is complete)

when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars —

(the continent darkens, as if by nightfall; points of light spring into being, one by one, representing the major Hyborian capitals, in the order given)

Nemedia, Ophir, Brythunia, Hyperborea, Zamora with its dark-haired women and towers of spider-haunted mystery, Zingara with its chivalry, Koth that bordered on the pastoral lands of Shem, Stygia with its shadow-guarded tombs, Hyrkania whose riders wore steel and silk and gold. But the proudest kingdom of the world was Aquilonia,

(the view brightens again)

 

Reigning supreme in the dreaming west

(all the capitals fade by “daylight”, except Tarantia)

Hither came Conan the Cimmerian,

(music builds to crescendo; partial fade to close—up of Conan, black—haired, sullen—eyed, sword)

VOICEOVER (CONT’D)

(in hand.)

Thief,

(Cut to Conan plucking jewel from an idol.)

Reaver,

(Cut to Conan in battle in full armor.)

Hero,

(Cut to Conan, semi—armored, freeing bound maiden from altar.)

With deep melancholies and gigantic mirth,

(partial fade to a Conan laughing in raucous tavern-fight, then back to the map.)

To tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

 

(Crescendo fades to a more melodic, yet nonetheless ominous, theme. The view starts to zoom in on Aquilonia and Cimmeria, then northward on to Cimmeria, then on northwestern Cimmeria, zooming down to a view of the rugged, pine-forested hills and snow-capped mountains of Cimmeria.)

In Conan’s veins flowed the blood of ancient Atlantis, swallowed by the seas eight thousand years before his time.

(The view zooms down to a stockade-walled village of small log cabins, in the foothills.  It is mid-winter; snow covers everything: houses, trees; only vertical surfaces are free of snow.)

Here Conan of Cimmeria spent his childhood, learning the necessities of survival.

(The snow, covering what would be the village green in warm weather, is trampled.)

As we zoom closer we see figures apparently engaged in battle, in individual single combats.

EXT. CIMMERIA — NORTHWESTERN FOOTHILLS — THE “WINTER VILLAGE” OF CONAN’S TRIBE — WINTER — MORNING

Figures stamp and maneuver in the trampled snow of the village green.  The sound is not the clash of steel, but rather the click of wood on wood, or the thump of wood on flesh.  The sizes of the figures are unequal; as if children were fighting grown men.  As we look closer, we see that that is exactly what is happening.  Boys of various sizes and ages, and various skill levels, are fighting grown men.  All are wearing, not armor, but heavy winter clothing, which is padding enough, since they are using blunt spears and wooden swords or axes.  The boys vary in skill from small boys barely past toddler age, flailing exuberantly at their elders, to subteens exhibiting considerable skill.  In some cases, subteens are fighting each other, under the watchful eyes of their elders.  Every once in a while, a fight will stop while an adult explains something to a child.

 

We zoom in closer to one of the pairs of fighters: a large, bulky, robust man with a neatly trimmed gray beard and long gray hair drawn back in a ponytail; and a boy of about ten, or perhaps a large eight, with an unruly mop of black hair and bright blue eyes sparkling with excitement.  The man is CONN, the village blacksmith; the boy is his grandson CONAN.  Conn appears quite relaxed, moving easily and without strain.  When he launches a blow, it appears to be a mere wrist-flick, yet the blows that land do so with resounding THWACKS!  Conan, carrying a small buckler as well as a sword, is putting his hips and shoulders into his blows, showing good form as he attempts to strike with full speed and force.

Conn flicks a series of vigorous taps at Conan’s head.  As Conan blocks the series of head blows, his shield drifts up, and Conn suddenly sneaks in a low blow which thuds against Conan’s leg sending him sprawling.

CONAN

(Shakes his head, a little dazed)

How did you do that?

CONN

(Inscrutable)

You tell me.

CONAN

(Stands and thinks for a moment.)

You aimed a bunch of head shots at me, again and again … and I kept moving my shield higher and higher … until you had an easy shot at my leg!

CONN

Very good!  Next time notice it while I’m doing it.  Your head is important, but don’t forget you have legs!  Ready?  Have at!

They resume.  Conan overreaches, trying to aim blows at Conn’s head.  Conn leans back and taps Conan lightly on the head.

CONAN

(Puzzled)

What?

CONN

You were so eager for my head that you offered me your own.

CONAN

On a platter?

CONN

(Grinning.)

Riiiiiight!

 

(Pauses to make sure the lesson has sunk in.)

Ready?  Have at!

They resume.  This time Conan attacks fiercely, maintaining his own defense, and varying his attacks: high, low, right, left, and blocking Conn’s counter‑attacks.  Conn speeds up until it looks like he is defending at full speed, and attacking at nearly full speed.  He looks happily impressed.  After a while, they pause to suck air.

CONAN

I’m getting hungry.  Is it lunch time yet?

CONN

If I was a Vanirman, would I politely stand aside so you could have a snack?

CONAN

(Grudgingly.)

No.

CONN

You know, you’ll have to fight when you’re hungry, or tired, or …

CONAN

(reciting an oft-repeated litany)

… or hurt, or half dead.

CONN

And more than that, you have to win. You want lunch, lad, you have to win. So ‑have at!

They resume.  After more blows are exchanged, Conn slips just a little, throwing his stance off just enough. Sensing the opening, Conan goes for a vicious backhand at Conn’s knee. Conn manages to block the blow with his blade when suddenly there is the loud CRACK of cracked wood.  Conan stares dumbfounded at the stub of a sword in his hand.  Conn raises his sword on high and yells in a truly bad Swedish accent ‑

CONN

Ha!  Victory be mine, now, ya sure!  You die, Cimmerian dog!

 

Conan’s jaw drops for an instant in shock, then, as Conn steps forward, sword swinging down, Conan throws his buckler away, and takes a short hop forward and to his right (putting himself inside Conn’s effective distance) as he sticks his broken-off stub of a sword in his mouth and bites down on it.  Then he makes a tremendous leap up and forward, colliding with Conn’s chest and grabbing hold of his jacket front with both hands.  As Conn stops and tries to shorten his swing without hitting himself, Conan climbs up Conn’s jacket front like a monkey until he reaches Conn’s shoulders, then he pulls his sword out of his mouth and jams the splintered end into Conn’s neck.

CONAN

(Fiercely triumphant)

Now YOU die, pig of a Vanirman!

For an instant, Conn stands flat-footed, totally flabbergasted, his face betraying complete surprise.  Then, still standing there, he begins to laugh.  Conan rides Conn’s bouncing belly for a couple of seconds, then he begins to laugh, too.  He slides down off Conn’s chest, and they both stand there laughing for a moment.

CONN

You know, for a minute, there, I thought I was going to die!  I think I almost pity the poor Vanirmen who are going to face you.

Conan beams and seems to swell with pride at this incredible compliment.  Conn picks up the broken sword end and examines it.

CONN (CONT’D)

(Impressed.)

Hmmm… No flaw that I can see.

CONAN

Are we going to make a new one?

CONN

After lunch.

(Sternly)

And do you know what I’m going to do if you break another one?   

Conan looks worried as he wonders what Conn might do.  He shakes his head no.

CONN

 

I’ll have no choice but … to make you one out of steel.

Sheer delight shines in Conan’s eyes as the idea of being the first boy of his generation to bear a real steel sword. Conn rubs the boy’s head with a gruff laugh, then they turn and head across the trampled snow, toward the smithy, Conn’s hand on Conan’s shoulder.

CUT TO:

EXT. CIMMERIA — HILL-COUNTRY A DAY’S RIDE EAST OF CONAN’S VILLAGE — WINTER — LATE MORNING

A troop of mounted men ride through the snow heading north, towards Conan’s village. They are Hyperborean slavers: big, blonde men in armor, with a few exceptions. The first is the LEADER, a mysterious Stygian wizard-priest with a deep, melodious voice like the tolling of a great bronze temple bell, his face hidden beneath a large, ornate helm that features two snakes curving up from the sides like horns.  Beneath his heavy fur cloak we catch glimpses of black armor, intricately detailed with serpent motifs.

With him are a few Stygian subpriests and several gaunt slaves acting as porters, all clearly detesting the cold and snow.

The other exception is UBBI, the one-eyed Vanirman who had led two failed raids against Conan’s tribe before. (See BIRTH OF CONAN.) Ubbi is older and even more grizzled now, his face haggard and deeply lined with the hardships he has suffered. He is at the head of the column acting as a guide. The Stygian gallops up from behind to have a word with Ubbi.

LEADER

This land is cold, Vanirman. I like it not, nor do my men.

UBBI

We’re nearly there, milord. We should be in attack position by mid-morning tomorrow.

LEADER

We’d best be, Vanirman. And this barbarian smith best be all you say he is.

UBBI

(Interrupting)

 

I’m no fool, milord. You seek those who know the secrets of steel. I’ve wandered the world and have seen no one better than this smith or his father in the ten years since I left Vanaheim. No one, not even the bladesmiths of the Hyrkanian kings, match the skill of these Cimmerians. It is said they even know the secrets of the smiths of your own land.

LEADER

THAT is all the more —

They are interrupted as a pair of Hyperborean riders gallop up from the south, one dragging someone through the snow behind his horse.

The column halts.

RIDER #1

(Saluting)

Milord! We have the traitor!

LEADER

(Holds up his hand, signaling the column to halt.)

Bring him to me.

Rider #1 dismounts, unties the person his horse was dragging and pulls him before the Leader. The man is caked in snow, beaten and bloody, but his serpent-decorated robes and shaven head reveal him to be ZOLMAT, a subpriest like the ones in the Stygian’s retinue. Rider #1 grabs him by the back of his collar and violently pulls the priest up to a kneeling position.

LEADER

(Patronizing)

Ah, Zolmat. I’m glad the boys found you. It isn’t wise to go wandering in the wilderness. You see now how easy it is to lose your way.

ZOLMAT

(Coughing, teeth chattering)

Heh. I’m not the one who has lost his way.

LEADER

 

Fool! Did you think I didn’t know you are a spy for the Circle? Did you think you could hide your thoughts, your treacherous soul from ME?

ZOLMAT

Did you think you could hide thoughts from The Circle? Thoth Amon KNOWS. And you will fail, whether I die or not. You will fail!

LEADER

(Gazes at Zolmat for a moment.)

Such a waste. Feed him to the slaves. They could use a good meal.

UBBI

(Mildly concerned)

Milord, they may be slaves, but they’re not cannibals!

LEADER

They haven’t eaten in three days, Vanirman. If they aren’t cannibals by now, I’d be very surprised.

The Leader turns away and begins riding west again as Rider #1 and Rider #2 drag Zolmat to his doom. Ubbi pauses, watching them dispassionately over his shoulder as Zolmat screams defiance after the Leader. After a moment, Zolmat’s O.S. screams turn to horror and pain, nearly drowning out the slaves cries of “Food! Food!” Ubbi pales slightly, shudders, then turns and gallops west to assume his place at the head of the column.

INT. THE SMITHY — AFTERNOON

The family: Conn and Conan; MARIGAN, Conn’s wife and Conan’s grandmother; Conn’s son CONNELL and BRIGIDDA, Conan’s parents, are gathered around one of the workbenches, which has been cleaned off for lunch.  Brigidda is dishing out gruel into bowls.

CONAN

(Making a face.)

Gruel again?  We had gruel for breakfast.  And we had it yesterday, too!

After this moment’s hesitation, he begins shoveling gruel into his mouth with a spoon, as fast as he can.

CONNELL

 

(Slurping the gruel directly from the bowl.)

Good gruel!

CONAN

What’s for supper?

BRIGIDDA

Goat’s head stew.

CONAN

(Making an even worse face.)

Eeeewwwwww!

Conn, Connell and Brigidda are having a hard time keeping straight faces.

MARIGAN

(Sternly.)

Conan, you know this has been a lean winter!  We have to make do with what we have.  And you, young man, will eat gruel and goat’s head stew and be grateful you aren’t starving!

CONN

(Whispering to Connell.)

Wait for it…

CONAN

I’m on lookout duty on the mountain tomorrow morning.  I could take my sling and knock over a couple of rabbits.

BRIGIDDA

(Faux-serious)

Hmmm… Rabbits would be nice in the left-over goat’s head stew.

CONAN

(Failing to hide his disgust that anyone could be so stupid as to ruin perfectly good rabbits by throwing them into day-old goat’s head stew.)

What if I bring home TEN rabbits?

CONN

 

Surely the mighty hunter who brings home ten rabbits deserves to have rabbit for supper!

MARIGAN

We’ll have rabbit stew.  That way we can stretch it over two nights.

Conan looks gratified.

MARIGAN (CONT’D)

So I won’t make goat’s head stew tonight.

Conan cheers up immensely.

MARIGAN (CONT’D)

Instead we’ll have toasted gruel.

Conan is depressed by the black, inexorable unfairness of life.

MARIGAN (CONT’D)

With goat cheese.

Conan brightens up and the family settles down to the business of eating.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. THE SMITHY — EVENING

Supper is almost over.  It is dark outside, and the smithy is lit by the hearthfire and some candles.  The family members are carefully scraping up the last crumbs of toasted gruel, allowing nothing to be wasted.  Marigan and Brigidda gather up the dirty dishes and take them outside to scrub in the snow.  Conan brings his brand-new wooden sword to the table and fingers it lovingly.

Brigidda comes back in with a couple of buckets of snow which she dumps into a large kettle hanging in the hearth.

CONN

Now let’s see…, where was I?

CONAN

(Eagerly)

You were going to bribe that Stygian smith.

CONN

 

That’s right.  Stygians are the cleverest metalsmiths in the world.  They can do things that anyone else would think were magic.  You know, they have a trick for coloring brass so that it looks just like gold.

Marigan sprinkles a handful of herbs into the simmering kettle.

CONN

You’d never know the difference ’til you tested it.  There’s a lot of ignorant people who think that Stygians can turn base metal into real gold, but it’s not real, it’s just metalcraft.  A Stygian would rather die than reveal the secrets of his craft to an outsider, because what the priests would do to him would be even worse.  But I took that Kothian treasure I had highjacked, converted it to gems, and took it to Stygia with me.

Then I stayed in an inn in Khemi while I looked for a likely smith.  Stygia is a strange place — they worship Set, the Old Serpent, and revere all snakes.  It’s against the law there to kill any snake.  Vipers, cobras, and big constrictors, are as common as vermin in the streets of Khemi, and if one of them wants to kill a person, nobody dares interfere on pain of death.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. STYGIA — STREET SCENE IN KHEMI — DAY

 

A much younger Conn is walking along a sun-baked street in Khemi, Stygia.  Mud hut dwellings for the populace contrast with monumental, cyclopean, egyptoid, black stone architecture.   Egyptoid-looking people in egyptoid-looking garments (sheer pleated linen, folded multiply over strategic areas) are walking in the streets. The women wear their black hair long; the men either have shaven heads, or neatly trimmed pageboys. There are also robed priests and corseleted soldiers in evidence.  These latter regard the gigantic foreigner with suspicious looks.  Snakes of various descriptions are slithering through the streets; the people both ignore and avoid them.  People go out of their way to avoid getting in the way of a snake.  A huge python confronts a pretty young woman; looking terrified, she tries to step out of its way but it blocks her path as it draws closer to her.  Conn stops to watch.  The python launches itself at the woman, throwing its coils around her.  She screams and struggles, but the Stygian civilians take great pains to ignore the whole incident, averting their eyes and even crossing the street to avoid the struggle.  But the priests hurry over to the scene, where they kneel a safe distance away and offer prayers of praise to mighty Set as His child feeds.  As the python squeezes the life out of the woman, Conn puts his hand on his sword and makes as if to interfere, but as he does so, the passers-by look at him with fear and horror much more pronounced than they are turning on the snake.  As Conn tries to decide what to do, he notices a squad of soldiers watching him intently, while they ignore the python and the woman.  That decides him; with his hand still on his sword-hilt and an angry, disgusted expression on his face, he stalks swiftly away, looking away from the python and the rapidly disappearing girl.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. STYGIA – KHEMI – THE STREET OF THE SMITHS — MOMENTS LATER.

Conn seems to wander casually down the Street of the Smiths, looking at various wares in outside booths – goldsmiths, silversmiths, coppersmiths, bronzesmiths, blacksmiths.  The cries of vendors lend a certain music to the scene.  He stops briefly at various booths, displaying token interest in the items being shown.

CONN

(At a goldsmith’s stand)

How much is this necklace?

GOLDSMITH

(Eagerly)

Ahh, because I like your face, my northern friend, I will let you steal it for a mere 75 Talents, even though it means starvation for my seven children!

CONN

75!  Too rich for my blood!

The goldsmith makes a rude noise as Conn wanders on without even trying to haggle.  Then he stops at a bronzesmith’s stand.

CONN

(Examines a golden necklace)

 

I swear by Ishtar this looks like real gold!

He cocks a skeptical eye at the bronzesmith.

BRONZESMITH

Ah, my northern friend, I see that despite your barbaric appearance, you are too sophisticated to be fooled by the Stygian art of metal coloring!  In truth it is made of a type of brass.  Only 12 Talents, because I can see you are far too clever to waste your time dickering over the sort of inflated prices my competitors might demand.

Conn puts down the necklace and picks up a bronze-hilted dagger whose blade appears to be made of a greenish metal.  He holds it delicately by the hilt, places the blade near his ear, and flicks it with his fingernail, listening to the sound.

CONN

It looks like Akhbitanan steel, but it doesn’t sound like steel.

BRONZESMITH

(Laughing jovially)

Aha, ha, ha!  Your wit is as sharp as one of my daggers.  It is bronze, colored green by smithcraft.  For you, because I like your style, a mere 20 Talents!

Conn laughs, shakes his head ruefully, and wanders off again.  The bronzesmith casts a few mild insults after him, but is quickly distracted by another customer ‑ a priest. The priest haggles half-heartedly, paying more attention to Conn as he wanders over to a bladesmith’s stand, and examines the swords and knives.  They all have a silvery white, mirror-bright finish.  As the smith comes over to make a sale, Conn turns away and resumes his promenade.  The priest abandons the nervous (priests take, never buy) bronzesmith and follows.  Now Conn is concentrating on blacksmiths and bladesmiths.  He examines the blades at another stand, showing real interest in some knives and swords with a dark, mottled finish.  The smith, a gruff, heavily muscled, grizzled Stygian, comes over.  The priest watches from the shadows of a nearby basket-weaver’s stall.

BLACKSMITH

Help you?

 

CONN

(Indicating the merchandise)

Did you forge these yourself?

BLACKSMITH

Humph! I’m no merchant who buys for resale, I’m a craftsman!  All of this is my own work!

CONN

(Diffidently)

I have a business proposition to discuss with you.  Perhaps we could go into your shop?

The blacksmith, looking slightly suspicious, gestures Conn into his shop. The priest gives a sneer of contempt and disappears into the crowd.

INT. — A MUD-BRICK SMITHY — CONTINUOUS

Conn and the Stygian blacksmith enter the smithy, which is larger, cleaner, and considerably more elaborate than Conn’s simple forge. Conn lowers the wooden awnings over the front counter and draws the large barn-type doors shut after them. The blacksmith is even more suspicious now, and casually picks up a hammer from a bench, just in case Conn tries something.

CONN

I am Conn, from Cimmeria.

BLACKSMITH

(Blunt, almost to the point of being rude.)

Never heard of it.

CONN

It’s far to the north of even the Hyborean kingdoms.  I am a blacksmith, like you.

The Stygian snorts and looks slightly amused, as if no northern barbarian could possibly be a smith like himself.

CONN

 

I’ve come here because I’ve heard that Stygian blacksmiths know an art of making a blade out of more than one type of steel, and that such a blade is stronger than if it had been made of the strongest single steel.

BLACKSMITH

True enough, barbarian.

CONN

I want to learn this art.  Would you consider taking me as your apprentice?  I already have some knowledge of smithcraft, I’m very strong, and I can pay well for instruction.

BLACKSMITH

(Suspicious and slightly hostile.)

Are you mad!? It would mean my death to reveal our secrets to a foreigner.  I’m taking a risk just letting you back here, I couldn’t possibly ‑

Conn pulls a pouch from his belt.

BLACKSMITH (CONT’D)

‑No! Do not imagine I would risk this for any amount of ‑

Conn opens the pouch and spills a few large, sparkling gems out on a workbench.

BLACKSMITH (CONT’D)

(A little stunned by this display of wealth.)

‑uh…

CONN

Any one of these gems would pay for five of your swords.  All I ask is for you to hire me to work for you, perhaps to perform tasks requiring a strong back and a

(Chuckles)

weak mind.

BLACKSMITH

Wellll… perhaps I could use a porter to haul in charcoal and raw iron and things like that… And … umm, you could sleep in the shop at night.

 

Conn grins and offers his hand.  The Stygian, after a moment, grins reluctantly and takes Conn’s hand.

CONN (V.O.)

The gems were enough to turn that smith, Mentep was his name, and he took me as his apprentice.  He wasn’t such a bad sort.  But somehow, we were soon discovered, perhaps an informer sold us out…

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. THE STYGIAN SMITHY ‑ NIGHT

Conn and the Stygian are stripped to the waist, cleaning up after a long day of working at the forge. Suddenly the front door bursts open and a Stygian officer in a corselet and a tunic bearing the serpent emblem of Set, and a shaven—headed Stygian priest in robes barge in through the door.  A squad of bare—chested Stygian soldiers crowds in after them.

PRIEST

(Stating, not questioning.)

You are Mentep the Blacksmith.

MENTEP

(Almost groveling in submission and obsequiousness.)

Aye, your holiness.

PRIEST

You have committed treason by revealing Stygian secrets to this foreign dog of a spy!  You will both surrender at once!

Mentep groans and sinks to his knees, trembling.  The soldiers are paying no attention to any of this; it is all a boring routine to them.  Nobody ever resists.

PRIEST (CONT’D.)

(To the Stygian Officer)

Seize them!

CUT TO:

INT. CIMMERIA — CONN’S SMITHY — CONTINUOUS

 

Connell has come in with a frosty jug.  He takes a couple of leather jacks down from a shelf, and pours out some ale.  He gives one to Conn and keeps one for himself.

CONN

Thank you, son.

Conan looks longingly at the ale as Brigidda gives him a steaming cup of tea from the kettle.  Conn sips some ale and continues with his story.

CONN (CONT’D)

So I grabbed my sword and…

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. STYGIA — MENTEP’S SMITHY — CONTINUOUS

Conn draws his sword and charges the officer, pressing him back into the soldiers, who are so crowded together they hardly have room to draw their own swords, much less fight.  While the soldiers try to untangle themselves, Conn slays the officer, then begins hewing into the packed soldiers.  While all this is going on, Mentep, the brawny, muscular Stygian smith, cowers on his knees in a corner, horrified.  As Conn cuts down the last soldier, the priest reaches into a pouch and pulls out a small tube, similar to a fat drinking straw.  As Conn turns on the priest, his sword whirling down in a killing stroke, the priest blows through the tube and a cloud of dust flies from it into Conn’s face.  As the scene fades to black, we see both Conn and the priest start to fall.

FADE TO BLACK.

FADE IN.

The scene brightens again and we see Conn reclining on the floor of the Stygian smithy, his shoulders partly supported by Mentep, who is shaking him.  Otherwise the floor is littered with corpses and big puddles of blood, including that of the priest.

CONN

(Slurred slightly)

Wha… what happened?

MENTEP

(Distraught)

Lotus dust. Lucky for you it wasn’t one of the poisonous ones, or the kind that leaves you permanently insane.

 

Mentep seems about to say something else, but holds back.

CONN

(Struggling to his feet)

I think I hear a “but” coming.

MENTEP

Why did you do that?! For treason or spying, the torture would have been minimal before we died.  But for killing a priest, we’ll still be alive a year from now ‑ praying for death! If we still have lips to pray with! Why did you do it? Why?!

CONN

(Shaking his head as he attempts to come fully alert.)

It’s not time for me to die yet.  But if the jig’s up, then it IS time for me to get out of Stygia!

MENTEP

(Desperate)

Take me with you!  You owe me that much!  It’s your fault I’m branded a traitor!

CONN

Then start packing!  How long before they’re missed?

MENTEP

Not until morning.

CONN

Not much of a head start, but we’ll take what we can get.

MENTEP

What about the bodies?

CONN

Leave ‘em be. Their bosses will know where they went, why waste time hiding them? The sooner we get out of here, the sooner we get out of Stygia.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. MENTEP’S SMITHY — LATER

 

Conn and Mentep are fully dressed and  packing hurriedly.  They wrap up a bunch of luggage and supplies and dump it all in a heavy wheelbarrow, usually used to haul charcoal or pig iron.

MENTEP

What do we do now?

CONN

Head for the docks.  You lead the way; I’m just the porter.

They go out the door onto the street.

EXT. KHEMI — STREETS — PRE-DAWN.

The streets are dark, lit only by occasional flambeaus, nearly deserted except for prostitutes, footpads, and snakes.  Prostitutes and footpads alike are warned off by the fierce scowl on the big Cimmerian’s face.  And no snake would attack two humans walking so closely together.   Mentep is leading the way, Conn is following him with the loaded wheelbarrow, closely enough that they can talk without raising their voices.

CONN

So, do you want to go north or south?

MENTEP

(Distracted from his frantically circular thoughts)

What?

CONN

(Patiently)

Do you want to take a ship bound north or south?

MENTEP

Set!  I don’t know!  You’re the expert on this sort of thing, you tell me!

CONN

Well, I’ve no further business in the south, so I’m for the north.

MENTEP

Fine, we’ll go north.  Where north?  Cimmeria?

CONN

 

(A little taken aback by Mentep’s ignorance.)

Uh, I don’t think you’d like it in Cimmeria.  Maybe Argos.  Shem is too close to Stygia.  Yes, Argos.  I’ll wager they’d love to hire a Stygian smith in Argos.  We’ll look for a northbound Argossean ship; it will certainly be planning to dock at Messantia.

EXT. STYGIA — KHEMI — DOCKSIDE — EARLY MORNING

Conn and Mentep are standing on the docks, looking at the many sailing vessels docked in the busy, ship-filled Khemi harbor.  The presence of armed patrols of Stygian marines is not unusual.  Stygian harbor regulations are harsh and severely enforced; the purpose of the marines is to keep foreign sailors intimidated and on their ships, and to control smuggling.  Mentep looks scared and bewildered; Conn is trying to look like a stupid, mindless porter/bodyguard. 

CONN

(Whispering)

Look, Mentep, you’re going to have to do some of this yourself.  After all, you’re the master and I’m just your porter.  We’ll just amble along the dockside and gawk at the ships.  I’ll recognize any Argossean ship by its banner.  Try to look confident.  If there are no Argosseans in port, any foreign ship will do.  Most foreign captains will be helpful; they hate the Stygian authorities, and love to thumb their noses at them.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. KHEMI — DOCKSIDE — THE ARGOSSEAN TRADING VESSEL SEA PARTRIDGE — ON DECK — MORNING

Conn and Mentep and the wheelbarrow are on the deck of the Argossean ship Sea Partridge.  Conn is talking fast and persuasively to the master of the ship, a stocky, grizzled old salt named Grolio.

CONN

 

…And you know how intolerant the Stygian priests are.  Just because my friend, uh, Puntsit, here, was associating with a foreigner, namely me, they were going to accuse him of heresy.

Grolio eyes Conn and Mentep suspiciously.

CONN

And so we decided we both need to get out of Stygia for the sake of our continued health.  For all we know, the authorities may already be looking for us.

GROLIO

Well lads, I’d love to help ye, but being as the Stygian Harbor Master might…

CONN

We can pay our way.

He discretely displays a large, sparkling gem for the captain.  Grolio squints at the gem skeptically, then back at Conn equally skeptically.  With a pained expression, Conn somehow causes a second gem to materialize in his fingers.

GROLIO

(ENTHUSIASTICALLY, WITH GUSTO)

May all the gods of the sea forbid that the filthy Stygians should get their bloody claws on a couple of fine, honest lads like yerselves!

He squints over their shoulders behind them, then discretely gestures for them to look down the pier. A Stygian priest, accompanied by an officer and a squad of marines, is questioning some Stygian stevedores on the dock.  The stevedores point at the Sea Partridge.

GROLIO

Now I think I see more bloody soldiers about than usual, so perhaps you lads had better get below with yer, ah, wheelbarrow.  Hurry, now!

(Shouting at the crew)

 

All right me hearties, up anchor! Up gangplank! Out oars! Up sail! Shake them barnacles off your asses and move smartly now!

The officer and the marines start trotting towards the Sea Partridge, the priest following at a more sedate pace.  As Grolio shouts orders at his crew, the Argossean sailors hustle about the ship as if their lives depended on it.  The ship casts off just before the marines reach its former berth.  The officer shouts something inaudible at the ship, then he and his marines sprint for a long, low, sail-less black galley, basically a big racing canoe with 20 oars on each side, with oarsmen whose job is to wait around all day until some Stygian official needs them.  The officer, the marines, and the priest pile into the galley, which immediately casts off and begins stroking after the Sea Partridge.

The wind is beginning to fill the Sea Partridge’s sails, but even with her crew pulling at her own oars, the plump merchant vessel is no match for the speed of the galley, which is rapidly overhauling them. 

GROLIO

(To Conan and Mentep)

Lads, we haven’t a chance in hell of outdistancing that galley.

(He looks regretfully at the gems he is still holding in his hand.)

GROLIO (CONT’D)

I can’t risk my ship and my life and my men’s lives for a couple of sparklers.

He tries to return the gems to Conn.  Conn pulls a pouch off of his belt and opens it, displaying its contents to the captain.

CONN

Half these “sparklers” are yours if we get out of here alive.  And we’ll help defend the ship.

The shipmaster hesitates, greed warring with fear across his features.

CONN

On the other hand, if we’re captured, I’ll tell the Harbormaster that you helped me steal these from the Stygian Royal Treasury.

 

Grolio snarls something rude, spins on his heel and shouts more orders at his crew.

GROLIO

Oarsmen, more speed!  Watch that sail!  All of yez what ain’t manning oars nor sail, grab yer weapons and man battle stations!

Despite the best efforts of the crew, the Stygian galley overhauls the Sea Partridge just as she is about to exit the bay of the harbor.  When the galley is even with the ship, the officer stands up in the galley and shouts up to the ship.

OFFICER

Heave to!  By order of the Harbormaster of Khemi!  You are commanded to hand over two fugitives from Stygian justice: Mentep the Smith, and Kong the Barbarian!

Conn winces at the mispronunciation.  He and Mentep look at each other.

CONN

He must have the wrong ship.  I’m, uh, Njall, and he’s Puntsit.

GROLIO

(Shouting down to the officer)

We’ve no passengers with those names, yer lordship!

The priest says something to the officer.

OFFICER

Then you won’t mind if we come up and look about!

Without waiting for a reply, one of the marines throws up a large grappling hook attached to a rope ladder.  The hook lodges in the railing of the ship.  The officer, a couple of marines, and the priest climb the ladder to the ship.

Grolio looks apologetically at his two passengers before the Stygians reach the deck.

GROLIO

 

I’m sorry, lads, I can’t very well repel them, or I’ll have the whole bloody Stygian navy chasing me.

The Stygian officer, the two marines, and the priest reach the railing and climb over.  As soon as the priest is on deck he points at the fugitives.

PRIEST

That’s them!  Mentep and Kong!  Seize them!

Mentep, who has been trying ineffectively to look innocent, cringes.

More marines begin climbing the ladder.  Conn draws his sword and charges the priest.  The officer and his two marines, however, are much more alert than the sleepy City Guards were the night before; they move to intercept Conn with drawn swords.  As Conn battles the officer and the marines, the priest pulls something out of a pouch at his belt and starts to move in on Conn from the side.

Mentep sees this.  Conflicting emotions war across his face, then Mentep’s emotions crystallize into agonized determination.

MENTEP

NOOOOOOOooooooo!

Moving awkwardly, as if his muscles were trying to seize up on him, he nevertheless quickly moves in behind the priest, wraps his arms around the priest’s arms, pinioning them, lifts him bodily off the deck, and carries him over to the railing, kicking and yelling.

PRIEST

Put me down you blasphemous fool!

Sobbing, Mentep lifts the priest over the railing and drops him into the sea, knocking the second contingent of marines off the rope ladder.

Meanwhile, Conn has cut down the Stygian officer and his two marines.  He strides to the railing and cuts the rope ladder with two chops of his sword, then moves to the wheelbarrow, upends it, dumping its contents onto the deck, and picks it up in both hands.  Then he carries the wheelbarrow, held over his head, to the railing, and casts it down onto the galley, breaking the back of the fragile boat.

The priest floats, stunned.  The marines and the oarsmen flounder around in the water.

 

CONN

(To Grolio, exasperated)

Well, you weren’t all that helpful.  But my offer stands.  And now, if you don’t want the whole bloody Stygian navy pulling your ship down around your ears, you’d better get out of here!

GROLIO

(To his crew)

Stroke for your lives, lads!  Shift that sail!  We’re for the open sea!

DISSOLVE

TO:

EXT. GULF OF KHEMI — ABOARD THE SEA PARTRIDGE — ON DECK — LATER

Conn and Mentep are standing in the stern of the Sea Partridge.  The sails are billowing, the waves are foaming, the ship’s wake is sparkling in the sun.  They are watching Khemi Harbor recede in the distance.

MENTEP

Puntsit?

CONN

The Stygian priesthood has a long arm.  How would it be if some Stygians came nosing around in Messantia asking after Mentep the Blacksmith?

MENTEP

Puntsit.  Well, at least no one in Messantia knows what Puntsit means in High Stygian. 

(Suddenly gives Conn a hard look.)

Do you?

CONN

(Disingenuous)

Crom, no!  I was, uh, improvising ‑ you know, spur of the moment sort of thing.

MENTEP

 

That’s good.  Because if I thought you knew what it meant, I would have to kill you, and I would hate to have to do that.

Conn looks at Mentep, and begins to snicker.  The snicker grows to a gale of full-bodied laughter, and Mentep joins him.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT.  OPEN SEA — ABOARD THE SEA PARTRIDGE — DAY

Conn and Mentep are standing in the bow of the Sea Partridge.  Conn is pointing out dolphins and flying fish to Mentep.

CONN (V.O.)

We became friends on our trip to Argos, and why not?  We were brothers in craft, if not in blood.  He said that when we finally got to Messantia, he would teach me everything he could, for free.  He was really grateful to me — not just for getting him away from the Stygian authorities — that was my fault in a way — but after we left Khemi, he was on his own for the first time in his life, got a taste of freedom, saw what he’d been missing all his life — said he felt like he’d been reborn, and to hell with the priests of Set!  That made me feel good, like I’d turned a slave into a Man.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. CONN’S SMITHY — NIGHT

Conan and his father and grandfather are still seated at the table.  His mother and grandmother are sitting by the hearth, repairing clothing.

CONN

…But it’s getting late.

CONAN

But what happened to Mentep?

BRIGIDDA

That’s a tale for another night, lad. You need your sleep.

CONAN

 

But Ma, I’m not tired!

BRIGIDDA

(Firm)

Bed, Conan. Now.

Conan stomps off in disgust at such a fate.

FADE OUT:

FADE IN:

EXT. CIMMERIA — A MOUNTAINSIDE JUST WEST OF CONAN’S VILLAGE — MORNING

Conan is trudging up the mountainside.  He reaches a ledge, and walks around and examines the flat area.  There are some old hides heaped over something by the edge of the ledge.  Conan pulls back the hides to inspect what is underneath — branches, sticks and tinder laid out for a fire.  He re-covers the fuel with the hides.  Standing on the edge, he looks around, then looks down toward his village.  We get a view over his shoulder.  From this height the village is a collection of tiny model houses, the villagers appear smaller than ants.  Conan’s (and our) view scans the territory around the village, and we spot a small group of ants some distance to the east, climbing the slopes toward the village.  It is possible to tell that they are men mounted on horses.  Conan pulls a steel mirror out of his coat, then looks at the gray skies.

He pulls the hides off the firewood again, and finds some flint and steel that was placed with the firewood.  Striking sparks, he ignites the fire.  When it is burning well, he throws some snow on the fire, causing it to give off smoke.  Coughing, blinking, and squinting, he begins flapping one of the fur blankets over the fire.

CUT TO:

EXT. CIMMERIA — NORTHWESTERN FOOTHILLS — THE “WINTER VILLAGE” OF CONAN’S TRIBE — WINTER — DAY

A boy runs up to the Village Headman, pointing excitedly at the mountain.

BOY

Headman!  Look!

 

The Headman looks up at the mountain, to where he knows Conan is stationed.  We can see puffs of smoke.

The Headman squints and mumbles, reading the smoke signals to himself. He is startled.

HEADMAN

Riders from the East!  Must be Hyperborean slavers!  

(Puts hands to mouth, turning in circles so everyone hears him shout.)

Alert!  Alert!  To arms!  To arms!  Riders approaching the village!  To arms!  To the wall!

CUT TO:

EXT. THE FOOTHILLS EAST OF CONAN’S VILLAGE — CONTINUOUS

A column of cavalry in black armor is trotting uphill through the snow, towards Conan’s village.  Near the head of the column, one of the riders is carrying a standard bearing the coiled serpent emblem of Set.  One of the riders, Ubbi, moves alongside to join the leader.  He points out the smoke signals on the mountainside.  The Leader sees them and nods.

LEADER

It seems we won’t arrive unannounced.

UBBI

They’re smart. You wouldn’t want them if they weren’t.

LEADER

True. But they best be all you said they are, Vanirman.

UBBI

Oh, they are. remember, you get the smiths, I get the rest as slaves. With them I can buy off Bolverk’s wrath and finally go home.

LEADER

I don’t care what you do with them, as long as I get the smiths.

UBBI

 

I warn you, they won’t be pushovers. Many of your men will die.

LEADER

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

With that the Leader spurs his mount on, leaving a disturbed Ubbi in his wake. The Leader motions over his shoulder and the column speeds up to a canter. After a moment, Ubbi follows.

CUT TO:

EXT. CIMMERIA — A MOUNTAINSIDE JUST WEST OF CONAN’S VILLAGE — MOMENTS LATER

Conan sees villagers scurrying to man the stockade walls, and is satisfied that his message has been received.  The faint notes of alarm horn calls drift up to him.  He finishes gathering a pile of small, round stones, and loads them into a leather sack at his belt.  Then he starts running down the mountain slope, leaping and bounding like a young mountain goat, letting gravity add to his speed.

CUT TO:

EXT. CIMMERIA — THE “WINTER VILLAGE” OF CONAN’S TRIBE — OUTSIDE THE STOCKADE — MOMENTS LATER

The riders arrive at the village, but are stymied by the wooden stockade wall.  They gather to confer out of bowshot of the wall, then begin riding around the village, looking for a weak point.  They take ranging shots at the stockade; their Japanese-style longbows are superior to the Cimmerians’ shortbows and slings; they definitely have the range on the villagers, and kill a few of the Cimmerians until the latter start taking advantage of the cover their stockade provides. 

CUT TO:

EXT. CIMMERIA — THE “WINTER VILLAGE” OF CONAN’S TRIBE — ON THE INNER PARAPET OF THE STOCKADE — CONTINUOUS

Conn is crouched on the parapet, behind the sharpened tops of the stockade timbers.  Suddenly his face assumes an expression of shocked surprise and then deep, unhappy concern.

CONN

The banner of Set!  What the hell is that doing in Cimmeria?

 

The riders retreat from the cleared area around the village, to the nearby woods, where they dismount and quickly fabricate makeshift ladders from local trees, and rope they have brought with them.  They remount, and, carrying their ladders, charge the wall, suffering very few losses from Cimmerian archery.  Hyperborean archers force the Cimmerian archers to keep their heads down while the troops storm the wall.  But it is not an easy task: villagers brave the incoming Hyperborean arrows to sling and throw stones at the attackers trying to climb the ladders; they use poles to push the ladders over from inside; and what few Hyperboreans reach the parapet find themselves severely outnumbered by angry, well‑armed and armored Cimmerians, and are quickly cut down.  Conn and Connell easily clear their section of parapet of boarders, then haul the ladder up and throw it down inside, where it can’t be re-used.

CUT TO:

EXT. CIMMERIA — THE “WINTER VILLAGE” OF CONAN’S TRIBE — THE WOODS OUTSIDE THE STOCKADE — CONTINUOUS

At the edge of the woods to the west of the village, we see Conan moving stealthily among the trees, where he can watch both the village and the invaders.  He cheers silently as he sees attackers being thrown from the walls.  Then he sneaks over to a large rock concealed among the trees, dragging a fir bough behind him to help erase his tracks through the snow.  He grasps one edge of the rock, and lifts, revealing that it is hollowed out and conceals a hole in the earth beneath it.  He climbs down into the hole and carefully lowers the hollow rock shell after him to its original position.

CUT TO:

INT. AN UNDERGROUND TUNNEL — MOMENTS LATER

In the dimly lit tunnel we see Conan crouch-walking through the tunnel.

CUT TO:

EXT. CIMMERIA — THE “WINTER VILLAGE” — BEHIND ONE OF THE CABINS — MOMENTS LATER

A round section of earth pivots up.  Conan climbs up out of the tunnel and heads for the eastern stockade, which is where the Hyperboreans are congregating.

CUT TO:

 

EXT.  THE “WINTER VILLAGE” — THE PARAPET OF THE STOCKADE — MOMENTS LATER

Conan climbs a ladder up to the parapet and goes over to the section where Conn and Connell, in armor, are watching the enemy.  He squirms in between them to look over the wall.

CUT TO:

P.O.V. LOOKING AT THE THREE DEFENDERS FROM THE OUTSIDE IN — CONTINUOUS

CONAN

(Extremely excited)

Need another slinger?  I brought stones.  Who are they?  Hyperboreans?  That was neat the way you were throwing them off the wall!  What banner is that?  What’s that on the banner?  You got an extra spear for me, for the next time they try to climb over the wall?

CONN

(Rolls his eyes, a little exasperated with Conan’s sudden verb-arrhea.)

We can always use slingers.  Yes, those are Hyperboreans.  And that is the serpent banner of Set — it means there’s a Stygian priest or nobleman with the Hyperboreans, Crom knows why.  And forget about spears — if they come up at us again, you make yourself scarce!

CONAN

(Scowls.)

I know how to use a spear!  You taught me!

CONN

Conan!  A warrior doesn’t argue with his leader in the face of the enemy!

CONAN

(Somewhat abashed)

Yes, Grandfather.

CUT TO:

EXT.  OUTSIDE THE VILLAGE — CONTINUOUS

 

The Leader of the raiders, who until now has been concealing his face within the visor of his helm, and only functioned in an advisory capacity in the raid, now takes a hand.  At the edge of the woods he dismounts, and from a nest of padding in his saddlebag he pulls a glass jar containing an oily fluid.  He removes the stopper from the jar and replaces it with some rags, then inverts the jar until the rags are soaked with the fluid.  Ubbi and the other raiders become very nervous at this example of Stygian sorcery, shrinking back and muttering among themselves.  Then everyone mounts up, the riders in a loose cluster around the Stygian to screen him from the stockade.  They light torches, and one of them hands a torch to the Stygian.  They all ride toward the stockade, but instead of charging directly at it, they skirt it.  The Stygian touches his torch to the rags protruding from the neck of the jar, and immediately hurls the jar at the wall.  Trailing thick, oily smoke and fire, the jar strikes the wall and explodes into flames, and the wall starts burning furiously.  They toss the rest of their torches at, or over, the wall to create some diversions, then withdraw to a safe distance to watch. 

CUT TO:

EXT. THE STOCKADE INNER PARAPET — CONTINUOUS

Smoke and flames curl up over the top of the stockade.

CONNELL

Conan!  Get out of here!

CONAN

But —

With one hand, Connell picks up Conan by the scruff of his coat, swings him out over the inner edge of the catwalk, and drops him the twelve feet to the ground.  Conan lands on the ground below on all fours, like a cat.  He looks up indignantly at his father, then springs to his feet and runs for the smithy.

CUT TO:

EXT. THE STOCKADE INNER PARAPET — MOMENTS LATER

 

Cimmerians are dumping water over the edge of the stockade, as incoming arrows sail overhead.  We see Conan hurrying along the catwalk with a bucket of water, which he hands to an adult, then immediately grabs an empty bucket, turns, jumps off the parapet to the village ground below, and heads back to the smithy.  But the efforts of the Cimmerians are to no avail.  The section of wall that was ignited by the incendiary jar resists all attempts by the villagers to extinguish the flames with water.  The villagers retreat from the flames, jumping down from the parapet.

CUT TO:

EXT. OUTSIDE THE VILLAGE — MOMENTS LATER

After the wall burns through, the flames die down, and the riders charge at, and through, the breach.  They are now exactly where they wanted to be all along: surrounded by Cimmerians.

CUT TO:

EXT. IN THE VILLAGE — CONTINUOUS

Now begins a disorganized brawl extending throughout the village.  The advantage the invaders ought to possess from being mounted is partially neutralized by the relatively close quarters inside the village stockade; there is no room for concerted charges.  The Cimmerians hurl stones, javelins, and makeshift missiles at the riders, knocking some of them off their mounts and panicking the horses.

Conan, carrying a sack stuffed with stones, climbs to the peaked roof of one of the cabins and begins distracting, and sometimes stunning, the attackers with slung stones.

Other riders are dragged off their horses bodily or with nets or ropes.  On the ground, the invaders are almost evenly matched with, but outnumbered by, the hardy, combative Cimmerians.

CUT TO:

EXT. IN THE VILLAGE — CONTINUOUS

Conn finds himself in a fight with a muscular, mustachioed Hyperborean armed with a massive hammer. 

CONN

(Grinning as he fights.)

Using a hammer against a smith?  Big mistake!

And indeed, the huge hammer is no match for Conn’s flashing, whirling battle-ax.  There is no hope of parrying the gigantic mallet, but, dodging and making slashing counterattacks, Conn soon cuts the hammer-wielder down.  He stoops to pick up the enormous hammer and hefts it, trying its weight and balance.  Its mass strains even his great strength. 

 

CONN (CONT’D)

(Sniffs disdainfully)

Ugly weapon!

He drops it onto the chest of the downed Hyperborean, turning away.  A “crunch-splat” sound is heard as blood fountains up to shoulder height.

CUT TO:

EXT. IN THE VILLAGE — CONTINUOUS

Connell is in a swordfight with another invader, a big, muscular shirt-less man with long, flowing blonde hair and an elaborately serrated two-handed falchion.  Although Connell is stronger, the invader is the more skilled swordsman and has many tricky, flashy moves.  Soon Connell is on the defensive, when the slick swordsman makes a mistake. Knowing he is better than Connell, he goes for a big, dramatic kill, spinning on the ball of one foot in a huge sweep to cleave Connell’s head from his neck.  As he spins for the kill, Connell steps inside the Hyperborean’s reach and slides his blade between his foe’s ribs.

CUT TO:

EXT. IN THE VILLAGE — CONTINUOUS

Conan manages to save some Cimmerian lives.   We see some of his stones distract invaders at critical instants that turn the tide of some individual combats.  Other boys soon join him on the rooftops and the invaders are made miserable as they have to contend with a hail of slingstones while they fight the adults.  A Hyperborean archer sees what the boys are up to and aims an arrow at Conan.  Conan makes faces and mocks the archer as the archer looses, and as the arrow whizzes toward him; then he does a back-flip off the ridgepole of the cabin as the arrow passes through the space he had occupied a moment earlier, just as his feet disappear behind the ridge-pole.  An instant later, Conan lands on his feet behind the house, then runs off to find another cabin to climb.

CUT TO:

EXT. IN THE VILLAGE — CONTINUOUS

 

Nor are the male Cimmerians the only ones who are defending the village.  The women are fighting, too, usually striking from ambush or ganging up on isolated intruders.  One Hyperborean chases Conan’s mother Brigidda into the front door of the smithy.  A loud clang is heard, followed by a man’s scream and the rattling thud of an armored body falling to the floor. 

CUT TO:

EXT. BEHIND THE SMITHY — CONTINUOUS

Brigidda and Marigan drag the Hyperborean’s body out the back door of the smithy and unceremoniously dump it on top of two enemy bodies that were already cooling in the snow.

CUT TO:

EXT. IN FRONT OF THE SMITHY — MOMENTS LATER

Brigidda leaves by the front door, and begins wandering aimlessly through the snow.  A Hyperborean spots her and chases her back to the smithy.  Loud banging, clanging noises are heard, and the invader flees out the door, chased by Conan’s grandmother Marigan wielding a smith’s hammer and beating him about the head and shoulders.  Hot on her heels is Brigidda, carrying a large knife.  Once out in the open again, the invading warrior turns to confront the two women with his sword.  While Marigan holds his attention, Brigidda sneaks around behind him, jumps on his back, wraps her legs around his ribcage, and, with one arm hindering his swordarm, begins stabbing him in the throat and chest from behind, with the knife held overhand.  The warrior drops his sword and staggers in circles, trying to grab Brigidda’s knife hand and dislodge her.  Marigan throws herself at his legs and wraps her arms around them.  He topples face down in the snow.  Now Brigidda is sitting on his back, stabbing him in the shoulders and neck. 

BRIGIDDA

(Gasping between shrieks.)

Filthy slaver! … You picked the wrong village! … No slaves here!…

He struggles furiously, but Marigan clings to his legs with the tenacity of a starving python, and his struggles weaken and cease, as blood stains the snow beneath him.  Both women lie motionless for a few moments, panting, then they climb to their feet, moving stiffly and carefully as if all their joints hurt.

MARIGAN

Oof!  I’m getting too old for this!  Do me a favor, lass, and don’t bring any guests to the cabin for a few minutes.

 

Marigan returns to the cabin, but Brigidda picks up the dead warrior’s sword.  She looks up as she hears a cry.

CONAN

(Grinning and waving  from a rooftop perch.)

Hey Ma! — Good fighting!

BRIGIDDA

(Yelling up at him.)

You be careful up there!  Don’t you fall off!

CONAN

(As if she ought to know better than that.)

Aww, Ma!

Brigidda turns and trudges off through the snow with her new sword.  Her blood is up and she is looking for somebody to slay.

CUT TO:

EXT. IN THE VILLAGE — CONTINUOUS

The tide of battle has definitely turned.  The raid Leader is stumbling aimlessly through the snow, weaponless, helmetless, muttering dazedly to himself. 

LEADER

No … Noooooo!  This can’t be happening … it wasn’t supposed to be like this … They promised … I was supposed to WIN … The Prophecy! I could have been a Messiah! … Where is that Vanirman? I’ll KILL him!

In his wanderings, he encounters Brigidda.  She approaches him, sword raised to strike. 

The Leader stares into her eyes intently, the expression on his face gentle, almost loving, but the irises of his eyes are now jet black, like a shark..  She stops; this wasn’t the reaction she expected.  Before she realizes what is happening, something foul dances in the Leader’s predator eyes and his charismatic gaze has overpowered her will.

LEADER (CONT’D)

(To himself.)

 

It’s not too late, is it my child?  I could still pull it off.  With your help.  You will help me, won’t you, child?

Slowly, Brigidda’s sword sinks to her side.  He extends his hand; slowly, she starts to lift the sword to hand it to him.  Just then, Conn and Connell come along.  Before they can do anything, the Stygian turns his gaze on them, exerting all his power.  They struggle to resist, but although the Stygian is trembling and sweating with strain, he is able to hold them with his will—devouring spell. 

CONN

(Muttering through stiff lips.)

Magic … no!

Conn’s axe trembles, his muscles bulge with strain, veins stand out on his temples, but the Stygian’s spell is too much even for him.  The Stygian Leader takes the sword from Brigidda’s outstretched hand, keeping his eyes fixed on Conn and Connell the whole time.  He raises the sword, and …

Suddenly a stone clangs viciously off the back of his cuirass.  He whirls to face the new attack, just in time to receive a second stone right between the eyes.

CUT TO:

EXT. THE VILLAGE — A ROOFTOP — CONTINUOUS

Conan is again standing on a rooftop.  His face is contorted with fury, but there is icy cold determination in his eyes.  His sling is dangling from his right hand as he fishes in his pouch with his left hand for a third stone.

CUT TO:

EXT. IN THE VILLAGE — CONTINUOUS

 

The Stygian Leader sways, stunned.  The spell is broken, and Conn and Connell suddenly regain control over their bodies.  They separate and glide forward like stalking lions, their eyes riveted to the priest, their faces contorted with hatred, their weapons raised, as they flank the wizard.  Brigidda, weaponless now, sees what is happening and gets out of the way.  The priest, his hands to his face, is in his own little world of agony.  The camera zooms in on, then past, the priest, so we see Conn and Connell, but not the priest.  Conn whirls his ax in a circle, then brings it down, overshooting our viewpoint.  Blood sprays into the frame.  As Conn withdraws his bloody ax with an effort, Connell steps in, swinging his sword down.

The screams begin.

Father and son fall into a rhythm, their weapons alternately rising and falling, accompanied by the sound of meat being chopped by blades, as blood and pieces of gore continue to spurt into the frame.  Their angle of attack changes as they follow their target down to the ground and the screams fade to a bubbling sigh.

FADE TO RED:

FADE IN:

EXT. THE VILLAGE — LATER

Cimmerians are moving around in the village, cleaning things up.  They are dragging enemy bodies out through the gate, making quick‑and‑dirty makeshift repairs on the breach in the stockade, butchering dead horses, confining live horses, sorting reusable debris and burning unusable debris.  A small group of dejected prisoners is under guard.  The looks that some of the villagers are giving the prisoners make it plain that the guards are there to protect the prisoners.

CUT TO:

EXT. THE VILLAGE — IN FRONT OF THE HEADMAN’S CABIN — CONTINUOUS

Conn and the Headman and the village elders are in front of the Headman’s cabin, standing around a table, conferring on the damage done to the village, and necessary repairs.  The top of the table appears to be painted as a chess-type gaming board, and there are small piles of vari—colored pebbles on the board.  Conan is watching at a respectful distance.  As the men talk, the Headman moves pebbles around on the board.

HEADMAN

How many men dead?

CONN

(Grave)

Nine.  Rork, Fionn, Klanssi, Balli, Fliann, Harah, Shawnssi, Mair, and Durm.

The Headman sweeps nine gray pebbles off the board.

HEADMAN

Six widows.

 

He separates six pink pebbles from a larger group, then separates those into two piles.

HEADMAN (CONT’D)

 

Three of them are young enough to take their chances with our own young men.  The other three get first choice — How many prisoners?

CONN

Five, and ten freed slaves, although they likely will head for their homelands once their strength is up.

HEADMAN

(Slides five black pebbles next to a pile of three.)

First choice of the prisoners for thralls.  We’re no slavers:  we’ll let them go when they’ve worked off the blood debt. Any orphans? 

ELDER #1

Kathla, Balli’s wife was killed.  That leaves their three children.

HEADMAN

(Slides three white pebbles into the center of the board.)

They’ll have to be fostered.  The family or families that take them get the rest of the prisoners for thralls. How’s the food situation?

ELDER #2

They never got to the main stores.  We lost the food that was in the houses that burned down.  And a lot of goats were killed, burned, or lost.  Don’t know how many, yet.

CONN

On the other hand, we have a couple of thousand pounds of horsemeat to smoke or salt.  And that’s after the Victory Feast and Wake tonight.  And lots of armor and weapons and live horses to trade to our neighbors for food or anything else we might need.  I still have to clean and inventory the armor.  And repairs …

HEADMAN

 

Well, we’re not in too awfully bad shape.  Now, we all have work to do.  We’ll finish this up tomorrow morning.

They all head off in various directions.  Conan joins Conn as he leaves.

CONAN

Were you scared during the fighting, Grandfather?

CONN

Nah!  It was just another raid.

CUT TO:

EXT. CIMMERIA — HILL-COUNTRY SOUTH OF CONAN’S VILLAGE — WINTER — CONTINUOUS

A dejected, bedraggled, angry and confused Ubbi rides slowly south across a snowy hilltop. He pauses at the apex, staring back over his shoulder, past the Cimmerian village to the vast mountains of Vanaheim. Unimaginable despair and longing crosses his face, then he turns, shoulders slumped, and rides for the south and relative safety.

FADE OUT

THE END

“Conan” ©Copyright, Conan Properties, Inc. “Conan The Mighty” ©Copyright 1996, William Galen Gray.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email