THE FROST GIANT’S DAUGHTER
by Robert E. Howard

(Transcribed for the screen by Steve Block)

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 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. The view zooms on northward, past the mountains that form the northern border of Cimmeria, to the ice fields and snow-covered plains that form the no-mans-land between Asgard and Vanaheim. As we zoom in closer, we see a battlefield, where approximately 80 mailed warriors have been locked in a death struggle. The snow is trampled and bloody. Many warriors are already dead, frozen where they fell in positions of agonized death. But many still live, and fight on amid shouts and curses, cries of pain and screams of agony; over all the clash of arms and the clang of steel. It is a mixed-up, disorganized melee, with no formations or lines of battle. But it is possible to see that in almost every case, blond warriors (Aesir) are fighting red-haired warriors (Vanir). The camera zooms in on the one exception: an Aesir and a black-haired warrior (Conan) are fighting back-to-back, surrounded by a circle of Vanir. An ax lashes inward from the circle, destroying Conan’s already badly damaged shield. As Conan tosses away the useless remnant of shield, his blond companion is cut down. Alone now, using his sword two-handed, Conan fights even faster and more furiously than before, dancing, spinning and lunging, slashing his sword in vicious circles and figure-eights, slaying Vanir as more of the red-bearded warriors close in, and the battle-noise rises to a crescendo.

FADE TO RED.

FADE IN:

EXT. SOMEWHERE IN VANAHEIM OR ASGARD — A SNOWCOVERED BATTLEFIELD — LATE MORNING.
Beneath a pale sun in a frosty sky, the snow-covered plain stretches in all directions. Purple, white-capped mountains line the horizon. The only sound is the blowing of the wind. In the immediate vicinity lie the hacked, bloody bodies of slain warriors. They are clad in torn chainmail, dented horned helmets, bloody leggings and furs. Some of them still grip swords or axes in their dead hands. Some of them are locked together, as if still engaged in hand-to-hand combat. All of the dead are either blond Aesir or red-haired Vanir.

Among the dead, only two tall, powerfully-built warriors remain standing. One is a red-bearded Vanirman. The other is a clean-shaven, black-haired Cimmerian. Their chainmail and furs hang from them in shreds, revealing glimpses of their scarred, muscular bodies. Both of them have lost their shields. Their swords drip red. They are standing at opposite ends of the battlefield, each surrounded by a ring of enemy bodies. They stand looking at each other for a long moment, then begin trudging slowly towards each other through the red-stained snow. Before they actually get within fighting range, the Vanirman calls out:

VANIRMAN
(Blustering, arrogant)

Man, tell me your name, so that my brothers in Vanaheim may know who was the last of Wulfhere’s band to fall before the sword of Heimdul.

CONAN
(Growling)
Not in Vanaheim, but in VALHALLA shall you tell your brothers that you met Conan of Cimmeria!

Heimdul roars and leaps at Conan, his sword flashing through the air at Conan’s neck. Conan tries to duck under the swing, but the sword strikes his helmet a glancing blow, striking sparks. Conan reels, lunges forward, and stumbles to one knee as he directs a two-handed thrust, putting all his weight behind it, into Heimdul’s sternum. Heimdul folds, and collapses to the snow in front of Conan.

Conan climbs laboriously back to his feet, turns away from Heimdul’s body, and takes a few unsteady steps away. But the world spins around him, and the whistling of the wind sounds as if it is coming from a great distance away. He sinks to his knees, starts to fall forward, but manages to support his upper body on one arm. He blinks and shakes his head, trying to clear his vision.

A silvery, feminine laugh is heard. Conan shakes his head again and looks up.

CUT TO:
EXT. THE BATTLEFIELD — CONAN’S VIEW — CONTINUOUS
A slender young woman is standing on the snow, watching Conan. She has wavy, billowy red-gold hair, intermediate between the hair color of Aesir and Vanir, and dancing blue-gray eyes. Despite the ice and snow, her perfect body is clad in nothing but a sheer, gauzy veil. She laughs mockingly at Conan.

CUT TO: THE BATTLEFIELD — WIDER VIEW — CONTINUOUS

CONAN
(Still on his knees)
Who are you? Whence come you?

ATALI
(Offhandedly cruel)
What matter?

CONAN

(Defiant, gripping his sword determinedly)
Call up your men. Though my strength fail me, yet they shall not take me alive. I see that you are of the Vanir.

CUT TO: CLOSE-UP OF ATALI’S FACE — CONTINUOUS

ATALI
(Amused)
Have I said so?

CUT TO: CLOSE-UP OF CONAN’S FACE — CONTINUOUS
His face is slack, his eyes are staring as if he were hypnotized.

CONAN
I cannot tell whether you are of Vanaheim and mine enemy, or of Asgard and my friend. Far have I wandered, but a woman like you I have never seen. Your locks blind me with their brightness. Never have I seen such hair, not even among the fairest daughters of the Aesir. By Ymir–

CUT TO:
THE BATTLEFIELD — WIDER VIEW — CONTINUOUS

ATALI
(Mocking)
Who are you to swear by Ymir? What know you of the gods of ice and snow, you who have come up from the South to adventure among an alien people?

CONAN
(Angry)
By the dark gods of my own race! Though I am not of the golden-haired Aesir, none has been more forward in swordplay! This day I have seen fourscore men fall, and I alone have survived the field where Wulfhere’s reavers met the wolves of Bragi. Tell me, woman, have you seen the flash of mail across the snow plains, or seen armed men moving upon the ice?


ATALI
I have seen the hoarfrost glittering in the sun. I have heard the wind whispering across the everlasting snows.

CONAN
(Shaking his head)
Niord should have come up with us before the battle joined. I fear he and his fighting men have been ambushed. Wulfhere and his warriors lie dead … I had thought there was no village within many leagues of this spot, for the war carried us far; but you cannot have come a great distance over these snows, naked as you are. Lead me to your tribe, if you are of Asgard, for I am faint with blows and the weariness of strife.

ATALI
My village is farther than you can walk, Conan of Cimmeria!
(She spreads her arms wide, swaying sensuously as she displays her charms.)
Am I not beautiful, O man?

CONAN
(Burning-eyed, husky-voiced)
Like dawn running naked on the snows.

ATALI
Then why do you not rise up and follow me?
(Mockingly)
Who is the strong warrior who falls down before me? Lie down and die in the snow with the other fools, Conan of the black hair! You cannot follow where I would lead!

Blue eyes blazing, Conan heaves himself to his feet with an inarticulate growl. He sheathes his sword and plunges through the snow at her, fingers spread to grip. With a shriek of laughter she leaps back, turns and runs, laughing at him over her shoulder. Conan gives chase.


As Atali flees, she dances and floats over the snow like a feather, not even leaving footprints. Meanwhile Conan, breaking through the frozen crusts, forges after her with sheer brute strength.

On and on she leads, and Conan follows as the day wears on.

CONAN
(Shouting after the distant Atali)
You cannot escape me! Lead me into a trap and I’ll pile the heads of your kinsmen at your feet! Hide from me and I’ll tear the mountains apart to find you! I’ll follow you to Hell itself!

As her maddening laughter floats back to him, he starts foaming at the mouth. Hours go by, indicated by the lengthening shadows, and they leave the snow plain behind them, as they pass into the foothills of a range of towering mountains, whose eternal snows are blue with distance and pink in the rays of the blood-red setting sun.

As the sun sets, the Aurora Borealis covers the sky with flaming sheets of color, and still the chase goes on. Atali runs towards two small hills of snow, which suddenly rise up to bar Conan’s way. As the snow crumbles away, it reveals two gigantic figures, each taller and bigger than Conan. They wear scale mail that is white with hoarfrost; their helmets and axes are covered with ice; their hair and beards are spiked with icicles. Atali dances between the two giants.

ATALI
Brothers! Look who follows! I have brought you a man to slay!
(Exultant)
Take his heart, that we may lay it smoking on our father’s board!


The giants roar and raise their glittering axes, but before they can advance on Conan, he hurls himself at them. He barely dodges an ax-blow that flashes past his face, and reposts with a sword-stroke that shears through the knee of one of the giants. As the victim falls with a groan, the other giant hits Conan a glancing blow on his left shoulder, parting the mail links there. Although the chainmail saved Conan’s life, he is knocked down by the force of the blow. On his back in the snow, Conan sees the remaining giant with ax poised high for a killing blow. As the ax falls, Conan snap-rolls aside and leaps to his feet, and the ax blade sinks through the snow and deep into the frozen earth. The giant roars and wrenches his ax free, even as Conan’s sword slashes down. The giant sinks slowly into the snow, gushing blood from his half-severed neck.

Conan wheels, and sees Atali standing a short distance away, staring at him in wide-eyed horror.

CONAN
(In a TOWERING rage, gesturing so fiercely with his sword that drops of blood fly from the blade)
Call the rest of your brothers! I’ll give their hearts to the wolves! You cannot escape me…

With a cry of fright, Atali turns and flees for her life. Conan slogs through the snow after her at top speed, but she draws away from him, dwindling in the distance under the Northern Lights, getting smaller and smaller until she is a dim blur in the distance.

Conan continues forging through the snow, never slowing. He begins to close the distance, and the running figure of Atali grows larger as he overhauls her. Slowly, foot by foot, the space narrows. Atali is running with effort now, and we can hear her panting. There is fear in the looks she casts over her shoulder.

With an inhuman roar, he closes in on her, just as she wheels with a haunting cry and flings out her arms to fend him off. He drops his sword and crushes her to him, bending her backwards as she fights with desperate frenzy. Conan’s face registers surprise as his fingers sink into her flesh.

CONAN
Cold! You are as cold as the snows! I’ll warm you with the fire of my own blood…

With a scream and a desperate wrench, she slips from his arms, leaving her single gossamer garment in his grasp.
(Brief glimpse of her nude body)

CUT TO:
EXT. CLOSE-UP OF ATALI’S HEAD, SHOULDERS, AND UPPER CHEST.
She springs back and faces him, her golden hair in disarray, her bosom heaving, her eyes blazing with terror.

CUT TO:

EXT. CLOSE-UP OF CONAN.
For an instant, Conan stands frozen, awed by her terrible beauty.

CUT TO:
EXT. CLOSE-UP OF ATALI AS BEFORE.

ATALI
(Flings her arms toward the sky.)
Ymir! O my father, save me!

CUT TO: WIDER VIEW.
Conan leaps forward, arms spread to seize her. Suddenly, with a tremendous thundercrack, the whole sky is filled with blue-white fire. Atali’s body is suddenly enveloped in blue fire. Conan throws up his hands to shield his eyes, as the scene flickers in and out of negative images. For an instant, the skies and the surrounding hills are bathed in crackling white flames, blue darts of icy light, and frozen crimson fires.

Conan staggers and cries out. The snow is empty and bare; the girl is gone. The Aurora still flames madly overhead; a rolling thunder, as of a gigantic war chariot, is heard.

The Aurora, the snowy hills, and the blazing heavens reel. A fiery sky full of exploding stars wheels around Conan’s head. The snowy hills seem to heave up like a wave, and Conan crumples into the snow to lie motionless.

FADE TO WHITE.

FADE TO BLACK.

BLACKNESS.

The screen is totally black, but distant echoing voices are heard, speaking in Scandinavian accents.

VOICE #1
He’s coming to, Horsa. Hasten — we must rub the frost out of his limbs, if he’s ever to wield sword again.

VOICE #2
He won’t open his left hand. He’s clutching something —

FADE IN.


EXTERIOR: A VIEW OF DAYLIT SKY, OBSCURED BY EXTREMELY BLURRY HUMAN HEADS.

As one of the heads speaks, they come into focus, as blond Aesir warriors.

VOICE #1 (NIORD)
Conan! You live!

CONAN (V.O.)
(raspy, croaking)
By Crom, Niord! Am I alive, or are we all dead and in Valhalla?

CUT TO:

EXTERIOR: A VALLEY, SURROUNDED BY HILLS, ALL COVERED WITH SNOW — DAY.

Conan is lying in the snow, partially covered with someone’s fur cloak. Several Aesir warriors are clustered around him, some kneeling or squatting, including Niord, who is cradling Conan’s head and shoulders. Another Aes is rubbing Conan’s feet. More Aesir are standing around nearby.

NIORD
We live.
(As if he can scarcely believe it himself.)
We had to fight our way through an ambush, or we had come up with you before the battle was joined. The corpses were scarce cold when we came upon the field. We did not find you among the dead, so we followed your spoor. In Ymir’s name, Conan, why did you wander off into the wastes of the North? We have followed your tracks in the snow for hours. Had a blizzard come up and hidden them, we had never found you, by Ymir!

ONE OF THE NEARBY WARRIORS
(Muttering fearfully)
Swear not so often by Ymir. This is his land, and legends say the god bides among yonder peaks.


CONAN
(Still hazy)
I saw a woman. We met Bragi’s men in the plains. I know not how long we fought. I alone lived. I was dizzy and faint. The land lay like a dream before me; only now do all things seem natural and familiar. The woman came and taunted me. She was beautiful as a frozen flame from Hell. A strange madness fell upon me when I looked at her, so I forgot all else in the world. I followed her. Did you not find her tracks? Or the giants in icy mail I slew?

Most of the Aesir stare at Conan as if they think he’s crazy.

NIORD
(Shaking his head)
We found only your tracks in the snow, Conan.

CONAN
(dazedly)
Then it may be that I am mad. Yet you yourself are no more real to me than was the golden-locked wench who fled naked across the snows before me. Yet from under my very hands she vanished in icy flame.

One of the other Aesir speaks, an older man, GORM, with wild, weird eyes.

GORM
(declaiming)

Not so! It was Atali, the daughter of Ymir, the frost giant! To fields of the dead she comes and shows herself to the dying! Myself when a boy I saw her, when I lay half slain on the bloody field of Wolfraven. I saw her walk among the dead in the snows, her naked body gleaming like ivory and her golden hair unbearably bright in the moonlight. I lay and howled like a dying dog because I could not crawl after her. She lures men from stricken fields into the wastelands to be slain by her brothers, the ice giants, who lay men’s red hearts smoking on Ymir’s board.
(All the men stare at Gorm.)
The Cimmerian has seen Atali – the Frost Giant’s Daughter!

HORSA
(Skeptically)
Bah! Old Gorm’s mind was touched in his youth by a sword cut on the head. Conan was delirious from the fury of the battle; look how his helmet is dinted. Any of those blows might have addled his brain. It was hallucination he followed into the wastes. He is from the South, what does he know of Atali?

CONAN

You speak truth, perhaps. It was all strange and weird –
(He breaks off, stearing at the object clenched in his left fist.)
– BY CROM!

The others gape silently at the wisp of gossamer veil he holds up, of a fineness and transparency no human weaver could achieve.

END

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

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