THE SNOW DEVIL
 – Rev. D –

by
Steve Block and Brian Bevel

FADE IN FROM STANDARD INTRO:

EXTERIOR: BIRD’S-EYE SHOT — CIMMERIA – NORTHWESTERN FOOTHILLS — THE “WINTER VILLAGE” OF CONAN’S TRIBE — NIGHT.

As the camera zooms down to a stockade- walled village of small log cabins in the foothills, the POV seems to become lost in a swirl of fog.

PROLOGUE

The fog clears, revealing

EXT. DREAM SCAPE FOREST – NIGHT.
Conn the Smith, dressed in full armor and carrying his ax at the ready, is wandering through a dark, misty dream landscape recognizable as a woods, but with weird, eerie music and lighting effects. Clouds chase across an enormous, blue-white full moon and the sound of the wind calls Conn’s name.

WIND
Connnn… Connnnnnnn…

Conn looks around, but can’t find the source of the windy voice.

Suddenly a group of thugs and barbarians seems to materialize out of the mist, and moves to attack Conn. Conn’s face lights up with joy, and he counterattacks savagely. They fight amid a clang of steel and a chorus of yells and screams. During the fighting, Conn loses his helmet. Each of the attackers disappears in a puff of smoke, one at a time, as Conn kills them, until only Conn remains, alone as before.

The voice is louder now.

WIND
Conn… Connnnn…


Conn’s face betrays dread and reluctance as he slowly hunts through the woods for the voice. As he hunts, the voice gets louder and more distinct, and Conn gets more and more reluctant, yet he keeps searching. Suddenly he freezes as he reaches the edge of a clearing.
Standing in the middle of the clearing the figure of a warrior is dimly seen. This is the source of the strange, windy voice.

WARRIOR
Connnn… come to me, Conn.

After a moment’s hesitation, Conn moves out into the clearing slowly and haltingly, as if with extreme reluctance.

CONN
(Muttering, almost pleading)
No… Nooo…
As Conn approaches the figure, it becomes more distinct: a generic barbarian warrior wearing a shirt of old-style scale mail over a tunic, and an unusual three-horned helmet, two of the horns on the sides, as usual, and the third sticking up from the center top of the helmet, which is decorated with baroque carvings. The mysterious warrior is tall and of athletic build under his armor, but his face is shrouded in shadow under the rim of his helm. His sword hangs loosely in one hand by his side, also cloaked in shadow.
(Music builds to a crescendo of tension and suspense)
Suddenly, the a shaft of moonlight breaks through the rushing clouds, falling across the warrior’s face. He is Cimmerian, beyond any doubt, but his face is deadly pale, and his cold eyes burn at Conn from under his beetled brow. His lips and fingernails are blue. The moonlight glints from his sword, a nicked and notched leaf blade of ancient design. The strange warrior lifts the blade, pointing it at Conn. Blood pours continually from the edge, as though from some vast wellspring of slaughter.
Conn rears back into a defensive stance in shock.

CONN
(Whispering in awe)
I know you!
(Defiant)
You’re MURDOC AC SEGWYN, Murdoc of One Thousand Battles, Bladebreaker, The Warrior’s Death.
(In a more normal tone)

So you’ve called me at last, Bladebreaker? I was wondering when you’d come. Well, I’m ready. At long last, I’m ready.

Conn relaxes and lowers his ax, but the grim Warrior’s Death only smiles sadly and raises his gory blade in salute. As he lowers the blade:

VOICE (O.S)
(Mocking)
No, warrior, it’s too late for him. I am come for you, old man.

Murdoc steps aside, fading into the mists, revealing a wizened and shriveled husk of a man. His skin is gray, and hangs loosely on what was once a mighty frame; his face is that of a mummy. Clad in rags, bits of straw cling to his hair, skin and clothes and swirl softly about him. The mist behind the old man coalesces into the ghosts of once-great warriors, moaning and swooping around Conn.

GHOST 1
Daughter, this gruel is too cold . . .

GHOST 2
My own sons scorn me! Mock me! Why, in my day . . .
(Dissolves into a hacking cough.)

GHOST 3
So tired, so tired . . .

GHOST 4
And weak. Another blanket against the cold, my daughter?

Horror beyond words dawns on Conn’s face.

CONN
(In a horrified whisper)
Ragraent, The Straw Death!

He looks desperately to Murdoc, The Warrior’s Death, but the spirit fades away into the distance, shaking his head sadly. Roaring, Conn swipes ineffectually at the cackling ghosts.

RAGRAENT
(Mocking)
Come mighty Conn, Conn the Slayer, isn’t that ax a bit heavy?

Conn pants and sways as though his strength has been sapped. His arm droops, his ax lowering. Lines and wrinkles inch across his face as he ages and weakens. Ragraent, The Straw Death, hobbles towards Conn, the vortex of straw around him speeding, feeding on Conn’s life force. With a roar of despair and rage, Conn charges the figure, ax raised with both hands and whirling viciously. He slashes at the figure, but his slash falls short, and only parts the rags. Underneath the torn rags is revealed, not human viscera and blood, or even dry bones, but dry, mouldering bunches of straw!

FADE TO BLACK.

CUT TO:
EXTERIOR: CIMMERIA – NORTHWESTERN FOOTHILLS – THE “WINTER VILLAGE” OF CONAN’S TRIBE – STOCKADE WALL – AUTUMN – DAY.

The stockade gate is wide open. The sentry stationed above it appears to be inattentive, but he suddenly perks up and calls to the village below.

SENTRY
Ho, Conan, scourge of the bears, comes!

Then he settles his elbows on the top of the wall, to watch.

CUT TO:
EXTERIOR: CIMMERIA — NORTHWESTERN FOOTHILLS — THE CLEARED AREA BETWEEN THE STOCKADE AND THE FOREST, AS VIEWED FROM THE STOCKADE — CONTINUOUS.

A distant figure trudges out of the forest, hauling a large travois bearing something large but unidentifiable at this distance.


CUT TO:
CLOSE-UP OF CONAN, WEARING BLOODSTAINED LEATHERS, HAULING THE TRAVOIS, TO WHICH IS LASHED THE GUTTED CARCASS OF A LARGE GRIZZLY BEAR.


The camera follows Conan as he approaches, then enters the village through the open gate. Inside are mostly small, sturdy log cabins grouped around the central green, all surrounded by the stockade. Two cabins are much larger: the Men’s Lodge and the Women’s House. As Conan approaches the Men’s Lodge, he is intercepted by a group of young men, about his own age, brandishing large knives and glaring angrily at Conan.

DUBH
We’re getting damned tired of bear meat!

KIEBHN
Aye! Bear sausage for breakfast, smoked bear for lunch, bear stew for supper – it’s more than mortal flesh can stand!

Conan shrugs off the harness, allowing the travois to thud to the ground. Fists planted on hips, he glares at the other young men for a long moment; then their control breaks. A lip quivers, somebody snorts, and the standoff dissolves into elbow-nudging, backslapping horseplay.

PADRUIG
Have you already taken the Hunter’s Portion, Conan?

CONAN
Aye, I ate the heart raw. Send the liver over to Conn’s cabin, along with five steaks. We’ll be having bear for supper. We’re not tired of bear meat!

KIEBHN
Go on home, Conan, you’ve done your part. We’ll take it from here.

With a wave, Conan turns and starts walking toward his parents’ cabin, as the crew begins to attack the bear, skinning and butchering the carcass.

CUT TO:
INT. VILLAGE – CONN’S SMITHY – DAY.
The smithy, with additions built on, is about half again as large as most of the other cabins.

CONAN
(Yelling as he slams through the front door)
Fresh bear meat tonight!


Then he stops as he notices a stranger seated on one of the benches, talking to his grandfather, Conn the Smith. Conn, a large, bulky, robust, exceptionally vigorous older man, with long white hair bound back in a pony tail and a neatly trimmed full white beard, looks up from his conversation with the stranger, an Aes, from Asgard in the North; as big and powerfully muscled as any Cimmerian, but with blond hair and beard instead of black.

CONN
Wulfhere, my friend, this is my grandson, Conan.
(To Conan)
Wulfhere is a war leader of the Aesir, and he has come here to ask our help.

CONAN
Any friend of my grandfather is a welcome guest in this house. I’ll tell the butcher crew to send over another steak. I hope you like bear.

Wulfhere runs an eye over Conan’s bloodstained leathers.

WULFHERE
(Speaking barbarously accented Cimmerian with a Scandinavian accent.)
Killed you a bear? How many hunters?

CONAN
Just me. Now that the bears are storing fat for the winter, I’ve been bringing in one almost every week. Smaller game is boring.

Wulfhere smiles a little at the boast. No single hunter takes bear single-handedly on a regular basis.

WULFHERE
Ah, yes, the mighty warrior must also a mighty hunter be. Conn has been telling me how you the Hero of Venarium became. I hope you will come to the meeting tonight.

CONAN
Meeting?

CONN
Aye, Wulfhere will address a meeting at the Men’s Lodge tonight.

CONAN
What’s it about?

WULFHERE
If you are curious, you must come to the meeting. There will you learn of a new chance for glory. In the meantime, bring on the bear!

CUT TO:
INT. THE VILLAGE — THE MEN’S LODGE — NIGHT.
The Men’s Lodge is the most impressive building in the village. Taller and wider than any other cabin, it is longer than four cabins placed end-to-end, although its construction is based on the same principles: a log cabin with a high-peaked, thatched roof. It is fronted by a roofed verandah as long as the Lodge itself. The interior of the lodge is one large room with stout wooden pillars holding up the beams that support the roof. There is a hearth equipped for cooking at each end of the Lodge, and a big fire pit in the middle; the hearths and the fire pit each having their own chimney. Only embers burn in them now, after supper. Pallets piled with hides and furs are arranged near the hearths, where the unmarried men sleep. Benches and stools are arranged around the central fire pit. This is the social and political arena, where the men sit to eat, drink, palaver, hold council, tell tall tales, and sing. The dividing line between social, political, and administrative activities ranges from thin to nonexistent, and it is not unusual for some or all of them to take place at the same time.
The men of the village are sitting or squatting around the central fire pit, with the most important men closest to the fire, and the younger men, including Conan, in the outermost ring. The single men who have eaten in the Lodge are mostly finished, and are noisily sucking bones, or their fingers. Family men who have eaten their suppers in their home cabins are arriving and settling down; as they enter at the door, they remove their weapons (not their eating knives) and hang them on hooks and brackets provided on a nearby section of wall. Ale is passing freely, and everybody is in a very good mood.
Finally, Dorbha the Headman, judging that enough men are present, stands up and pounds his spearbutt on the floor until the general roar dies down and he has the attention of a majority of the attendees.

DORBHA
Men of the Blackwater Creek Tribe, Conn the Smith, our war leader, would bespeak you. Attend his words.

(He sits)
Conn stands to take his place and speak.

CONN

Shield-brothers, when we moved against the Aquilonian outpost of Venarium this summer, we were able to bring nearly all our warriors against the enemy, stripping our village of most of its defenders. And the reason we dared to do that was that during our absence, our friends to the North, the Aesir, at our request, raided our enemies the Vanir almost continuously, forcing them to go on the defensive, and leaving them no time to raid Cimmerian villages. We owe the Aesir for that favor, and now the debt has come due. And here is my friend Wulfhere Skullsplitter, a war-chieftain of the Aesir, to call in the debt.

Conn gestures toward Wulfhere, and the blond giant rises to his feet.

WULFHERE
(In accented Cimmerian)
Warriors of the Blackwater Creek Tribe! This summer past did we raid the Vanir without mercy, as Conn has said. Much plunder did we gather, many thralls we took, and many Vanir warriors did we slay.
(Pauses while the Cimmerians cheer and stamp their feet.)
Now the Vanir hunger for revenge, and they raid us. They are led by the great and fearsome war-chief Bolverk, who has united the Vanir tribes. He is a giant of a man, and it is said that no one can stand against him in combat. Even worse, he is crafty and cruel in the arts of war. The vengeance-thirsty Vanir give us no rest and no peace, and under the leadership of Bolverk they defeat us at every turn. Warriors of Blackwater Creek, this summer we helped you, and now we need your help! I come to you to ask you to lend us brave young men to help us fight the Vanir! Will you help us, we who helped you this summer past?

With a roar of enthusiasm the younger men surge to their feet and jostle forward to enlist in Wulfhere’s cause. There is a struggle to see who will be the first to reach him, a struggle which is won by Conan, at the cost of some bruised ribs and insteps. Wulfhere grasps his hand and claps him on the shoulder, grinning with predatory glee as he repeats this rough ceremony with man after man.
Conn stands watching proudly until the crush dies down, then, while the young men mill around, noisily congratulating each other, he approaches Wulfhere himself.

CONN
(Confidently, as one granting a favor)
Wulfhere, I would be honored if you would permit me to lead this contingent of Cimmerians against the Vanir.

The grin drops from Wulfhere’s reddening face. He stammers momentarily, trying to find inoffensive words in a foreign language.

WULFHERE
Conn, my friend, it is not the leaders who have been dying, it is our young warriors, and it is young warriors that we need; we need young lions, not old foxes.

Conn stiffens and his blue eyes grow icy cold as his own face reddens.

CONN
Old, am I? Think you I am too old to fight? Would you like to try me?

His hand drops to his belt; there is no weapon there. He had hung his ax by the door, as all the men did with their weapons when they entered the Men’s Lodge.

CUT TO:
INT. THE MEN’S LODGE — THE WEAPON RACK BY THE DOOR — CONTINUOUS.
Close-up of Conn’s ax hanging on the rack.

CUT TO:
INT. THE MEN’S LODGE — MAIN AREA — CONTINUOUS.
Wulfhere spreads his hands.

WULFHERE

Please, Conn, my friend, it is as I have said. The other chiefs, and Niord, our Jarl, have asked for young men to replace our losses. They wouldn’t know what to do with another chief, and they might be jealous.

With icy dignity Conn draws himself up to his full height.

CONN
From what you said, they could use a few more old foxes. Bah!

His lips compressed with rage, he turns and strides for the door. Wulfhere and Dorbha, looking concerned, both put out hands as if to stop him, but he brushes by them, and grabs his ax as he storms out the door.

FADE OUT:

CUT TO:
INT. THE VILLAGE — CONN’S FORGE — NIGHT.
Conn slams in through the front door of the forge. His wife Marigan, and Brigidda, Connell’s wife, have already sought their respective beds, and the front room, a combined forge and living area, is deserted, lit only by a single flickering candle and by glowing embers in the hearth.
Conn opens a storage box and hauls out an ale jug. He throws himself down on a bench by the table, and begins swigging directly from the jug.

DISSOLVE TO:
IDENTICAL SCENE — HOURS LATER.
The scene has barely changed when Connell lets himself in quietly through the door. Conn holds out the jug to him, but Connell shakes his head, then sits down on the bench next to Conn.

CONN
(Anger, depression, despair)
They don’t want me. I guess they think I’m all used up. The Aesir are our friends, and Wulfhere is, or was, my friend, or I would have called him out for real!

CONNELL

I told Wulfhere he was making a mistake. They do need you. Just give me a little more time, and I think I can convince him that —

CONN
Don’t do me any favors. Wulfhere can go to hell. They can all go to hell!

CONNELL
Don’t fret yourself over it – just leave it to me.

As Conn continues muttering to himself, Connell gets up from the table and quietly goes out the door, looking freshly determined. Conn drains the last dregs from the ale jug, then goes to his own bedroom.
FADE OUT.

FADE IN.
EXT. DREAMSCAPE FOREST — NIGHT.
Conn the Smith, dressed in full armor and carrying his ax at the ready, is wandering through a dark, misty dream landscape recognizable as a woods, but with weird, eerie music and lighting effects. Clouds chase across an enormous, blue-white full moon and the sound of the wind calls Conn’s name.

WIND
Connnn… Connnnnnnn…

Conn looks around, but can’t find the source of the windy voice.

Suddenly a group of thugs and barbarians seems to materialize out of the mist, and moves to attack Conn. Conn’s face lights up with joy, and he counterattacks savagely. They fight amid a clang of steel and a chorus of yells and screams. During the fighting, Conn loses his helmet. Each of the attackers disappears in a puff of smoke, one at a time, as Conn kills them, until only Conn remains, alone as before.

The voice is louder now.

WIND
Conn… Connnnn…

Conn’s face betrays dread and reluctance as he slowly hunts through the woods for the voice. As he hunts, the voice gets louder and more distinct, and Conn gets more and more reluctant, yet he keeps searching. Suddenly he freezes as he reaches the edge of a clearing.

Standing in the middle of the clearing the figure of a warrior is dimly seen. This is the source of the strange, windy voice.

WARRIOR
Connnn… come to me, Conn.

After a moment’s hesitation, Conn moves out into the clearing slowly and haltingly, as if with extreme reluctance.

CONN
(Muttering, almost pleading)
No… Nooo…
As Conn approaches the figure, it becomes more distinct: a generic barbarian warrior wearing a shirt of old-style scale mail over a tunic, and an unusual three-horned helmet, two of the horns on the sides, as usual, and the third sticking up from the center top of the helmet, which is decorated with baroque carvings. The mysterious warrior is tall and of athletic build under his armor, but his face is shrouded in shadow under the rim of his helm. His sword hangs loosely in one hand by his side, also cloaked in shadow.
(Music builds to a crescendo of tension and suspense)
Suddenly, the a shaft of moonlight breaks through the rushing clouds, falling across the warrior’s face. He is Cimmerian, beyond any doubt, but his face is deadly pale, and his cold eyes burn at Conn from under his beetled brow. His lips and fingernails are blue. The moonlight glints from his sword, a nicked and notched leaf blade of ancient design. The strange warrior lifts the blade, pointing it at Conn. Blood pours continually from the edge, as though from some vast wellspring of slaughter.
Conn rears back into a defensive stance in shock.

CONN
(Whispering in awe)
I know you!
(Defiant)
You’re MURDOC AC SEGWYN, Murdoc of One Thousand Battles, Bladebreaker, The Warrior’s Death.
(In a more normal tone)
So you’ve called me at last, Bladebreaker? I was wondering when you’d come. Well, I’m ready. At long last, I’m ready.


Conn relaxes and lowers his ax, but the grim Warrior’s Death only smiles sadly and raises his gory blade in salute.

MURDOC
I am sorry, Conn. I have sent many
messengers for you. But you killed
them all!

He laughs ruefully and lowers the blade.

VOICE (O.S)
(Mocking)
No, warrior, it’s too late for him now. I am come for you, old man.

Murdoc steps aside, fading into the mists, revealing a wizened and shriveled husk of a man. His skin is gray, and hangs loosely on what was once a mighty frame; his face is that of a mummy. Clad in rags, bits of straw cling to his hair, skin and clothes and swirl softly about him. The mist behind the old man coalesces into the ghosts of once-great warriors, moaning and swooping around Conn.

GHOST 1
Daughter, this gruel is too cold . . .

GHOST 2
My own sons scorn me! Mock me! Why, in my day . . .
(Dissolves into a hacking cough.)

GHOST 3
So tired, so tired . . .

GHOST 4
And weak. Another blanket against the cold, my daughter?

Horror beyond words dawns on Conn’s face.

CONN
(In a horrified whisper)
Ragraent, The Straw Death!

He looks desperately to Murdoc, The Warrior’s Death, but the spirit fades away into the distance, shaking his head sadly. Roaring, Conn swipes ineffectually at the cackling ghosts.

RAGRAENT

(Mocking)
Come mighty Conn, Conn the Slayer, isn’t that ax a bit heavy?

Conn pants and sways as though his strength has been sapped. His arm droops, his ax lowering. Lines and wrinkles inch across his face as he ages and weakens. Ragraent, The Straw Death, hobbles towards Conn, the vortex of straw around him speeding, feeding on Conn’s life force. With a roar of despair and rage, Conn charges the figure, ax raised with both hands and whirling viciously. He slashes at the figure, but his slash falls short, and only parts the rags. Underneath the torn rags is revealed, not human viscera and blood, or even dry bones, but dry, mouldering bunches of straw!

It reaches out for Conn, its arms stretching to inhuman length. It embraces Conn and drags him to its bosom, burying Conn’s face in its straw. At first Conn screams and struggles violently, but his struggles weaken and become feeble, his cries sink to moans and coughs as he smothers in the dusty straw.

FADE OUT.

CUT TO:
INT. THE VILLAGE — CONN’S SMITHY — BEDROOM OF CONN AND MARIGAN — NIGHT.
Conn suddenly sits bolt upright in bed, gasping for breath, sweat pouring off his face, staring into darkness. Marigan stirs next to him and wakes up.

MARIGAN
(Sighs)
What is it? That nightmare again?

CONN
The Straw Death. It’s still hunting me. Closing in on me.

Marigan sits up and begins massaging his massive shoulders.

MARIGAN
It’s nonsense, you know. You’re still strong, a match for anyone. It’s your enemies who have cause to fear!

CONN

Maybe I’m too strong. Maybe I’ve lived beyond my time. But no one can live forever. It’s been hunting me for years; I could sense it. At Venarium I sought the warrior’s death: I stormed a fortress and went up against the Gunderman Phalanx, and all I got was an arrow in the arm. If battle-death keeps eluding me, then there’s naught but the Straw Death waiting for me at the end of my years. This evening I thought my chance had come. The Vanir are pressing our allies, the Aesir, and Wulfhere is recruiting Cimmerian warriors to help in the war. I tried to volunteer, but Wulfhere said I was too old!

MARIGAN
(Vehemently, as she rubs Conn’s shoulders even harder)
The fool! You could slay a dozen Vanir with your right hand and a dozen Aesir with your left!

CONN
(laughs)
Ha! Too bad you weren’t there to speak up for me! In the Men’s Lodge!
(He laughs again, at the absurdity of the idea.)
Connell is trying to speak for me, but I think that will come to naught.

He suddenly surges to his feet, and stands next to the bed, breathing hard. Then he reaches out and gently touches Marigan’s cheek.

CONN
It’s not that I want to leave you, my love. But I fear I’d live too long. I can’t stand the thought of you waiting on me hand and foot, feeding me and cleaning me, as I languish in a bed of straw!

CUT TO:
CLOSE-UP OF MARIGAN — CONTINUOUS.
A tear trickles down her cheek.

MARIGAN
I’d do it, you know.

CUT TO:
FULL SHOT OF CONN AND MARIGAN — CONTINUOUS.

CONN
Well do I know it.
(He stares into the darkness for a long moment.)
At Venarium, in a moment of weakness, I made Conan promise to cut my life short, if ever I was dying the Straw Death. A fine Cimmerian warrior I’d be, inflicting such pain and such a burden on those I love most in all the world!
(He snorts, and straightens.)
And that is why this old wolf must go on one last hunt while he still can!

He turns from the bed, but Marigan grabs his wrist and yanks hard, dragging Conn down onto the bed.

MARIGAN
Just a minute, Old Wolf, this old bitch wants one last go-round with you!

They kiss and embrace.

DISSOLVE TO:
IDENTICAL SCENE — LATER.
Conn is moving decisively about the room, gathering clothing, weapons, and armor, by feel and familiarity, in the darkness, as Marigan looks on from the bed.
FADE OUT.
FADE IN.
INT. CIMMERIA — BLACKWATER CREEK VILLAGE — CONN’S SMITHY — FRONT ROOM — MORNING.

A fire burns in the hearth, but the forge is cold. Marigan, seen in full light for the first time, is a large-framed, white-haired woman with a stern face and the typical ice-blue eyes of a Cimmerian. Her hair, which had been loose the night before, is now bound up in a bun. She is sitting at a table with Connell’s wife Brigidda, a black-haired woman who is still beautiful as she enters early middle age. They are picking at breakfast with wordless concentration.
Connell bangs in through the front door.

CONNELL
(Happy)
Father! Good news! …Father?

He stands in the doorway to the forge, looking around for Conn.

MARIGAN
(Listlessly, not looking up from her breakfast)
He’s not here.

Frowning, Connell comes all the way into the room, as Conan and Wulfhere, both grinning, crowd through the door.

WULFHERE
(Shouting as he looks around the room.)
Conn! Where is that old fox? Conn!

Marigan looks up abruptly, fixing a cold gaze on Wulfhere.

CONAN
(To the women)
We’re here to ask Grandfather to come with us to Asgard.

WULFHERE
Yes. I have been … made to realize…
(looking at Connell and Conan momentarily)
that we have need of Conn’s ax, and his experience, in our war with the Vanir.


MARIGAN
He’s out hunting.

The men look at her with bewilderment and dismay.

MARIGAN
(contd.)
He may be gone for days. When I see him …
(Pauses)
… I’ll tell him you asked after him.


The men react with even greater dismay. Wulfhere scowls.

WULFHERE
(To Conan)

We can’t wait. Gather the warriors. We leave immediately!

As he hurries out the door, Wulfhere turns back to Marigan.

WULFHERE
(cont’d.)
Yes, when you see him, tell him I changed my mind. He would have been welcome to join us. Still is.

Conan remains standing in place after Wulfhere
and Connell leave. He locks gazes with Marigan.

CONAN
What is Grandfather hunting? Wolves, with his bare hands? Or…
(sudden realization)
Vanirmen!?!

MARIGAN
(Her eyes burning into Conan’s)
I know what Conn said to you at Venarium. You will tell no one what you know.

Still holding Conan’s gaze, she slowly and deliberately picks up a knife, and begins sawing off a hank of her own hair.

CONAN
I will tell no one.

He exits.


FADE OUT.
FADE IN.
EXT. THE EIGLOPHIAN MOUNTAIN RANGE — BORDER BETWEEN CIMMERIA AND ASGARD — DEMONSONG PASS — DAY.
SUBTITLE CAPTION: EIGLOPHIAN MOUNTAINS — DEMONSONG PASS.

From a distant view, the camera rapidly zooms in on the pass, zooming in on a a tiny, distant figure which is revealed to be Conn the Smith. He is climbing through a narrow, boulder-strewn notch in the Eiglophian Mountains, known as Demonsong Pass for the eerie wails and screeches made by the icy northern air as it pours southward into Cimmeria. Squinting against the bitter blast, Conn the Smith trudges over the crest of the Pass. After scrambling down a few dozen yards, he pauses in the face of the wind to survey the icy plains of Asgard as they spread out below the north side of the mountain wall.

CUT TO:
EXT. EIGLOPHIAN MOUNTAINS — DEMONSONG PASS — LONG SHOT OF THE NORTHERN BASE AND FOOTHILLS OF THE EIGLOPHIANS AS SEEN FROM THE DIZZYING HEIGHTS — CONTINUOUS.
The POV zooms down the mountain slopes in a sickening swoop, finally zooming in on a battle between a band of red-haired Vanir and a band of blonde Aesir. The view of battle is brief, and the sounds are faint and faraway.

CUT TO:
EXT. DEMONSONG PASS — CLOSE-UP OF CONN — CONTINUOUS.
As Conn scans down the mountainside from his position in the frigid, lonely pass, his bulky body wrapped in multiple layers of linen and wool under his chain mail, with silvery snow leopard furs over all, he seems to loom superhumanly large, and grim, and gray, as his fur cloak snaps in the fierce wind.

CONN
(Musing to himself)
This war is at least partly my fault – it was my idea to have the Aesir attack the Vanir last summer. And if I find the Warrior’s Death while I repay the Aesir for their help – well, it’s a good way to die.

His downward route decided, he begins to carefully pick his way down the steep slope. He missteps and slides out of control for a few feet, then catches himself and resumes his careful descent.

CONN
(To himself.)
Hmmph. The Warrior’s Death is one thing, but I’ve no intention of dying the careless idiot’s death – not when battles await.

FADE OUT.
FADE IN:
EXT. NORTHERN CIMMERIA — SOUTHERN FOOTHILLS OF THE EIGLOPHIAN MOUNTAINS — DAY.


Twelve Cimmerians, and Wulfhere the Aes, stand in a semicircle facing a rocky slope where the southern foothills of the Eiglophian mountains merge with the mountains proper.

WULFHERE
There are three ways through the mountains: Demonsong Pass, Desolation Pass, and Frostbite Pass. We will enter my homeland by way of Frostbite.



EXT. ASGARD — LATE DAY.
A small band of about a dozen red-haired Vanir warriors is jogging along in the snowy plain, their eyes tracking methodically from right to left and back again.
Conn, under a light dusting of fresh snowflakes, lies on his belly just below the crest of a snow-covered ridge, helmet off, his eyes barely peeking over the crest, watching the Vanir jog by. Amidst the muffling effect of the snowfall, the sound of their feet, and the jingling of their armor, does not reach him. Conn waits immobile as the flakes continue to fall. Sure enough, after a few minutes a lone Vanirman comes jogging along behind them: a rear guard positioned to discover or trap an ambush. As the rearguard passes below, Conn dons his helmet, rolls over the ridgetop and slides down the slope on his back. He lands on his feet behind the rearguard and begins trotting after him, a little faster than the jog the Vanir were maintaining. He unhurriedly unships his ax with his right hand, and rests it on his right shoulder as he overhauls the lone Vanirman. As he draws closer, he matches his paces to those of the Vanirman, merely keeping a longer stride, so the sound of his footfalls is masked by those of his prey; his wrappings of snow-leopard fur keeps his own armor from rattling. As he passes the Vanirman, a deceptively lazy swing of his ax takes the victim in the back of the neck. The Vanirman sprawls soundlessly in the snow, as Conn passes him without breaking stride.
The back of the trailing runner of the Vanir column emerges from the falling snowflakes as Conn, keeping to the pace he has established, catches up with the rest of the warriors. Again, his ax licks out almost casually as he passes, slicing into the back of the runner’s neck. Taking his time, Conn overhauls and soundlessly slays the Vanirmen one at a time.

DISSOLVE TO:
EXT. ASGARD — FRONT POINT OF THE VANIR COLUMN — DUSK.
The leader of the band emerges from the snowflakes. A moment later, the second man jogs into visibility. It is Conn! He overhauls the leader, and cuts him down as he did all the others.

Only after killing the leader does Conn stop and allow himself to gasp for breath. After he regains his wind, he begins working his way back down the line of corpses, systematically looting them of food, extra furs, and other needful supplies. He comes upon one living Vanirman, paralyzed below the neck, but with blue-gray eyes flickering frantically. In response to the mute pleading in those eyes, Conn draws his knife, kneels, and carefully slits an artery in the Vanirman’s neck. Once his packs are full, Conn jogs off into the snow without a backward glance.
FADE OUT.

FADE IN.
EXT. SOMEWHERE IN NORDHEIM — DAY.
From a distance we see a lone figure trudging through the snow. At first the figure is unrecognizable. As the camera zooms in closer, we see the figure is wrapped in ragged clothing and scruffy furs – definitely not Conn. Instead, the figure is reminiscent of – The Straw Death!
FADE OUT.

FADE IN.
EXT. ASGARD — DAY.
Under a bright blue sky, Wulfhere and his Cimmerian recruits survey a long, single-file line of dead Vanirmen in the midst of a harsh white plain of snow-covered ice.

WULFHERE
Every one felled by a single blow to the back of the neck, except the one who was bled out – a mercy stroke I’m guessing. No sign of struggle; prints wiped out by last night’s snowfall.

CONAN
This is Conn’s work.

WULFHERE
Conn? Here? But his wife said he had gone hunting.

CONAN
Aye. Hunting Vanir. I promised my grandmother I wouldn’t tell anyone, lest someone seek to interfere, but I see now that he is beyond interferance. Conn is a craftsman, a perfectionist. How else should one old man kill a dozen young warriors, other than with perfect craft?


WULFHERE
(Spits an Asgardian expletive.)
I curse myself, that my clumsy words drove Conn away from us, rather than wooing him to help us. Conan, if Conn suffers mischance on this lone hunt of his, it is partly my fault, and I will owe your family weregild.

CONAN
Talk of that can wait until the war with the Vanir is settled.

WULFHERE
Then let’s go. I’d like us to get to my steading before nightfall.

As Wulfhere and his Cimmerians jog away from the scene of the carnage, the camera pans to show Conn settling back down behind the ridgecrest from which he has been observing them; he rolls himself up in his fur cloak, and goes back to sleep.

FADE OUT.
FADE IN.
EXT. ASGARD — DAY.
Under a bright blue sky, a Vanir war party of about two dozen warriors surveys the long, single-file line of dead Vanirmen in the midst of the harsh white plain of snow-covered ice.

VANIR WAR-LEADER
The cowardly, stinking Aesir must have ambushed them! Every one was slain from behind.

VANIR WARRIOR
Here are their footprints. Looks like they milled around for a while after killing our brothers. Their tracks lead off that way.
(Points)

VANIR WAR-LEADER
After them! We must avenge our brothers.

The new Vanir party moves out at a trot, along the trail of Wulfhere’s band.


Conn waits a few minutes after the new Vanir war party leaves. When he is certain they do not have a rearguard, he rolls over the top of the ridge, slides down the slope, and takes off after them at an unhurried lope.

FADE OUT

FADE IN.
EXT. SOMEWHERE IN NORDHEIM — DAY.
From a distance we see a lone figure trudging through the snow. At first the figure is unrecognizable. As the camera zooms in closer, we see the figure is wrapped in ragged clothing and scruffy furs – definitely not Conn. Instead, the figure is reminiscent of – The Straw Death!

FADE OUT.

FADE IN.
EXT. ASGARD — DAY.
Wulfhere and Conan are jogging through the snow, followed by the rest of the Cimmerians. One of the Cimmerians, Padruig, who is a little younger than Conan, trots up to the front to speak with the leaders.

PADRUIG
Somebody’s following us.

WULFHERE
Who? How many?

PADRUIG
I couldn’t see the color of their beards, but there’re about twice as many of them as us.

WULFHERE
Go back to the rear. We’ll just keep jogging along. If they want to attack us, they’ll have to put on a burst of speed, and be that much more tired when they engage us.

As Padruig lets himself drop back to the rear, Conan accompanies him. From the rear of the band, he can just barely see a large party of warriors trailing them. Wulfhere’s recruits maintain a steady pace, and the pursuers gradually draw nearer, until, finally, Conan (and the audience) can distinguish their red hair and beards.

CONAN
(yelling)
VANIR!

CUT TO:
EXT. THE HEAD OF THE CIMMERIAN COLUMN — CONTINUOUS.

WULFHERE
(Without breaking stride or even looking back)-
Ready yourselves for combat! On my command, stop and turn to face the enemy, and form a line.

CUT TO:
EXT. THE REAR OF THE CIMMERIAN COLUMN — CONTINUOUS.

CONAN
(To Padruig, who is jogging alongside of him)
That seems kind of simple-minded. I’m sure Conn wouldn’t just let us keep jogging along while a larger force overtook us.

PADRUIG
(Shrugging as he jogs)
Wulfhere’s the leader.

Conan draws his sword from its scabbard and shakes his shield down onto his left forearm, as do the other Cimmerians, depending on how they are armed.
Slowly, the Vanir drew closer, until Conan, looking over his shoulder, can see the color of their glaring eyes, and the bared teeth in their snarling mouths.
Without warning, Wulfhere’s voice rings out over the ice:

WULFHERE
TURN! FORM A LINE!

The Cimmerians barely have time to turn and brace themselves for the impact of the charging Vanir.

Instantly, the air is filled with the sounds of conflict: the shouts of contesting warriors, the ring of steel on steel, and the chunk of steel on iron-bound wooden shields. As the supernumerary Vanir move out to flank the Cimmerian line, Conan does not wait to be passively surrounded. He hurls himself at the Vanir, his sword a whirlwind of slashing steel as he dodges and spins and smites. Now blood and screams fill the air as Conan penetrates the Vanir formation, such as it is, and the Vanir and Conan’s Cimmerian comrades begin taking their toll of each other. Meanwhile Conan, although now completely surrounded by Vanir warriors, is dodging and jinking with such speed and unpredictability that the Vanir weapons can barely do more than glance off his armor.
As Conan’s latest opponent falls, a huge figure covered in mottled silver-gray fur looms behind the collapsing Vanirman. Conan cocks his sword to smite this new adversary, when he suddenly recognizes the gleaming visored helmet and the white beard issuing from beneath it.

CONAN
Grandfather!

CONN
Well met, Conan.

Conn turns to decapitate a Vanir warrior. Before Conan can exchange further words with his grandfather he is engaged by a pair of Vanirmen, and by the time he has disposed of these new foes, Conn is nowhere in sight.
Now the tide of battle turns. There are no longer enough Vanir left to engage all the Cimmerians, and as the latter begin to mob the former, the fighting becomes hopelessly uneven, and almost before the survivors realize what has happened, the Vanir are all lying motionless in the bloody snow.

DISSOLVE TO:
EXT. ASGARD — THE BATTLEFIELD — A LITTLE LATER.
Conan is kneeling in the snow, rubbing snow over his sword to wash off the blood. Wulfhere walks up to him.

WULFHERE
Conan, who was that fighting with you in the Vanir rear?

CONAN
Conn.

WULFHERE
(Gaping at Conan in astonishment, then looking at the corpses in the snow.)
Where is he now? I don’t see his body.

CONAN
In the heat of battle, I lost him. Don’t try to follow him. If Conn doesn’t want to be found, we won’t find him.

WULFHERE
But why doesn’t he want to join up with us?

CONAN
(Finishing the snow-wash and carefully drying his sword)
Well, you gave him quite an insult. Rather than arguing with you, he seems to have picked this way to show you your error.

WULFHERE
(Shaking his head ruefully.)
Now you Cimmerians will be wroth with me because I abused your great warchief, and my own chief, Niord, will be wroth with me because I insulted an ally.

Conan rises, sheaths his sword, and claps Wulfhere on the shoulder with affectionate humor.

CONAN
Don’t tell your chief. Keep it between us. And in the meantime, maybe some Vanirman will slay you, and then you won’t have to worry about it.

WULFHERE
(laughing)
Ha! That’s what I like about you, Conan – always looking on the bright side! Now let us gather up our dead, and take them with us to my steading. We will cremate them there.

FADE OUT.

FADE IN.
EXT. ASGARD — WULFHERE’S STEADING, WULFHERESHOLM — NIGHT.
An initial long shot shows Wulfheresholm in a valley between two low, snow-covered hills. Smoke exits from a chimney of a longhouse; except for a warm, flickering light at one of the windows, all is dark. The outbuildings are likewise dark. There are a few fences, sufficient to restrain herd-beasts, but not active men. The camera pans to one of the hills, and over the hilltop to the reverse slope, the side away from the steading. As the camera zooms in, we see humped shapes huddled under trees and among bushes. The camera continues to zoom in as it pans back to the hilltop, and the two shapes atop the hill resolve into two men – Vanir warriors wrapped in furs over their armor.


DISSOLVE TO:
EXT. ASGARD — THE HILLTOP OVERLOOKING WULFHERESHEIM — CLOSE IN SHOT OF THE TWO VANIR WARRIORS — NIGHT.

SVEIN (THE SECOND-IN-COMMAND)
(Whispering)
So, tell me again, Bjorngrim, how Bolverk Ymirsson’s plan is supposed to work.

BJORNGRIM HAAKONSSON (THE LEADER)
(Whispering)
Stupid! Weren’t you listening when Bolverk explained it?

SVEIN
It was so complicated – I can’t hold it all in my head.

BJORNGRIM
Hmmph! Very well, it’s like this. We’re hiding here after our all-night trek. Meanwhile, Wyklaf Blacktooth and his warriors should have reached that hill on the opposite side of the steading by now. At first light, our two bands will fall on the steading simultaneously. Wyklaf’s group will make a lot of noise, and sleepy warriors will come running out of the longhouse. While Wyklaf’s band engages them, we will rush the door, get inside, and kill the slower warriors. We set the longhouse on fire to force the women and children out, and then we run back out to help Wyklaf. The fighting will be bloody but swift, and we will have a new crop of Aesir slaves to take back to Bolverk.

SVEIN
It is a good plan!

BJORNGRIM

Of course it is! Bolverk’s plans are sometimes complicated, but they always work. Now go you back to our shield-brothers and tell them to be ready to charge over the hill and down on the steading on my signal. Then return here.

SVEIN
Aye, Bjorngrim!

Svein turns and eels his way through the snow, down the hill towards Bjorngrim’s followers.
Bjorngrim waits. And waits. Finally, frowning impatiently, he turns back to see what has happened to Svein and the other warriors. His first thought, on viewing the shapes huddled in the snow, is that his men have done a good job of concealing themselves. Then, he becomes aware of a wrongness: the shapes somehow seem to be lying too low, too flat, too perfectly motionless. Svein is nowhere to be seen. He crawls back to investigate, and comes upon a body, face down in the snow. He turns the body over, and it is Svein, leaking blood.
Suddenly a huge figure, armored and swathed in silver-gray fur, and carrying a gleaming ax on its shoulder, looms in front of him. Now Bjorngrim notices the dark stains spreading in the snow beneath the bodies of his men. A freezing chill seems to flow through his veins, turning his blood to icewater. As he surveys the grim shape towering over him, its eyes glittering icily from within the darkness of a visored helm, the lower part of its white-bearded face betraying no emotion except determination, the superstitious fear of the barbarian holds him paralyzed.

BJORNGRIM
(In mortal terror)
Slay me not, O Ymir, I am Your servant!

CONN
(Voice harsh and angry)
You dare call me by that Name?

BJORNGRIM
Are You not Ymir the Frost Giant? You are bigger than any mortal, and You slew my entire band without a sound! What have we done to anger You, O Ymir? We are loyal followers of Your son Bolverk.

The shape stands silent for a moment, staring at Bjorngrim, then speaks:

CONN

Go! I will spare you. Tell your shield-brothers that Bolverk is no son of mine, and I am no friend of his!

BJORNGRIM
(Bewildered)
What? But – but…

The horrific figure seems to swell with rage.

BJORNGRIM (CONTINUED)
Yes, yes, I’m going, going now, Lord Ymir!
(In desperate, slavish haste)
See how quickly I obey You, Lord Ymir!

He scurries away through the snow, away from the figure, and away from the Aesir steading, as speedily as he can.

FADE OUT.
FADE IN.
EXT. ASGARD — NEAR WULFHERESHOLM — DAY.
Wulfhere and the surviving Cimmerians are trudging through the snow. Three of them are pulling an equal number of fur-wrapped man-sized bundles on travois.
Conan points at a column of smoke rising from the other side of a snowy ridge.

CONAN
Look, Wulfhere, see that column of smoke?

Wulfhere squints in the direction Conan is indicating.

WULFHERE
(Concerned)
That’s my steading! Come on! It’s over the next rise.

He begins running through the snow, and the Cimmerians, burdened as they are by the bodies of three of their comrades, run after him. As they crest the snow-covered hill, they stop to catch their breath and survey the damage.

CUT TO:
EXT. ASGARD — FRONT SHOT OF WULFHERE STANDING ON THE TOP OF THE RIDGE — CONTINUOUS.
He actually looks relieved as the Cimmerians catch up to him and stop on the ridgetop.

WULFHERE

In truth, it’s not as bad as I feared.

CUT TO:
EXT. ASGARD — LONG SHOT OF THE STEADING.
Two outbuildings are burning, but the rest, including the main house, are undamaged. Aesir are wandering around, cleaning up debris, tending their wounded, and building funeral pyres for Aesir dead. Vanir corpses are lying untended in the blood-splashed snow.
Wulfhere plunges down the hill, followed by the Cimmerians. Several of the Aesir in the steading notice him, and one hastens to meet him.

WULFHERE
Hrolof, what happened here?

HROLOF
The Vanir attacked as the sun came up, but we beat them off. Actually, we killed most of them, but a few escaped. Your wife and children are safe, and we saved most of the animals.

Wulfhere surveys the dead Vanir, making a rough count.

WULFHERE
You say you killed most of them? This seems an insufficient number to attack a steading this size.

HROLOF
Yes, the attack seemed strangely weak. Of course, the … Ah . . . the snowdevil helped.

WULFHERE
(Skeptical)
Snowdevil?

HROLOF
(Growing more excited as he tells the story.)

Yes! He appeared almost at the same time that the Vanir attacked. Ten feet tall he was, covered with silvery white fur, and moved with the speed and reach and power of a cave lion! He wielded a thunderbolt in the shape of a great battle-ax, and whenever he smote a Vanirman, that Vanirman died! I saw it with my own eyes!

Wulfhere stares at Hrolof, his jaw dropping, then turns to look at Conan, who has turned his back on both men. His arms are folded out of sight, and his shoulders are shaking.

HROLOF
Is something wrong?

WULFHERE
(Distracted)
He’s, ah, worried about his grandfather. The old man may have gotten lost going through one of the Eiglophian passes.

Conan’s shoulders shake even harder.

HROLOF
(Compassionate concern)
Oh. Well, I hope you find him before the Vanir do.

CONAN
(In a strangled voice)
Thank you.

WULFHERE
(Loudly, to the Cimmerians)
Come, you can cremate your dead along with our own, and we will spend the night in my longhouse.

As the others commence their tasks,Conan takes a moment to survey Wulfhere’s longhouse.

CONAN
(Expressing wonder)
What a fine house. And it’s as big as the Men’s House in our village.
FADE OUT.
FADE IN.
INT. ASGARD — MAIN VANIR ENCAMPMENT — THE TENT OF BOLVERK YMIRSSON — NIGHT.

Bolverk Ymirsson, self-styled son of Ymir the Frost Giant, is storming around his outsize, gloomy tent. Ulf Bjarnisson kneels quaking on the hide-strewn floor of that tent, his face pressed to the ground, a most unnatural position for a proud Vanir warrior. Bolverk, a huge ogre of a man, his seven-foot-tall frame covered with muscles that are enormous almost to the point of deformity, crosses the space to the kneeling warrior in a single stride, grabs him one-handed by his braided red hair, and yanks him upright. His face mere inches from that of the warrior, he bellows at full power in a voice too deep and powerful for a normal human frame to produce.

BOLVERK
What are you saying? By Ymir my Father, I will cut the lying tongue out of your lying mouth! Tell me again why the raid on Wulfhere’s steading failed!

ULF
(his eyes squinting and his face clenched as if facing into a high wind, manages to gasp out)
I do not lie, mighty Bolverk. When we attacked the steading, just before dawn, as you ordered, we were in turn attacked by a snow devil. He was ten feet tall and covered with white fur. His battle-ax flashed and flickered like lightning, and no one could stand against him. I survived only because I was knocked senseless by a glancing blow, and when I awoke, I was buried beneath the heaped and bloodied bodies of my comrades. The snowdevil was gone, and I stole away while the Aesir were tending their own wounded.

BOLVERK
What of Bjorngrim Haakonsson and his band?

ULF
They never appeared. I don’t know what happened to them. Perhaps they were destroyed by the snowdevil. Perhaps it is this same snowdevil who dogged those other two bands, and slew them to the last man!

Bolverk scrutinizes the warrior for a moment.

BOLVERK
(Purring silkily, in marked contrast to his earlier manner)

So tell me, Ulf, do you fear this snowdevil more than you fear me? Hmmm?

Ulf turns ashen as he stares helplessly into Bolverk’s eyes, much as a songbird stares into the eyes of the serpent that is about to devour it.

ULF
N-no, great Bolverk! There is nothing in this world or the next that I fear as much as I fear you! I will always do your bidding! I will not fail again – I promise!

Bolverk releases his grip on Ulf’s braid. Ulf staggers momentarily as his weight is suddenly supported only by his own legs. But Bolverk does not entirely release Ulf; his huge hand remains on top of Ulf’s head, the spread fingers entirely enclosing the crown of Ulf’s skull. In a ghastly mockery of affection he rolls Ulf’s head around on his neck.

BOLVERK
Very well. Wait outside. I will devise a task for you that will give you a chance to restore your honor — if you survive!

ULF
Yes, Bolverk. Thank you, great Bolverk!

Ulf stumbles backwards, then turns and scurries out of the tent.
Bolverk turns to a figure that had been lurking almost invisibly in a shadowed corner of the tent: Offi, an emaciated shaman wearing stained black robes.

BOLVERK
I must stop this business of snowdevils, ice-demons, or whatever, or it will rot the courage out of my army! I can’t have my warriors fearing bogeymen more than they fear me. I will…

He is interrupted by a guard sticking his head in the entrance to the tent.

GUARD

Lord Bolverk, Bjorngrim Haakonsson has returned from the raid on Wulfheresholm.

BOLVERK
(Growling in a voice like boulders rolling down a mountainside.)
Send him in.

DISSOLVE TO:
INT. ASGARD — MAIN VANIR ENCAMPMENT — THE TENT OF BOLVERK YMIRSSON — MOMENTS LATER.

When Bjorngrim enters the tent he finds Bolverk sitting in an ornately carved wooden chair, his massive war hammer across his knees.

BOLVERK
(glowering dangerously)
I already know of the raid’s failure. Give me your report.

Bjorngrim falls to his knees. Sweat starts out on his face and forehead.

BJORNGRIM
O great Bolverk, we had no chance of success — Ymir Himself warred against us!

Bolverk springs to his feet, his face aghast, anger forgotten in bewilderment and disbelief.

BOLVERK
WHAT!?! WHAT ARE YOU SAYING?

BJORNGRIM
He was ten feet tall, His hair and beard were white, and He wore white furs and silvered mail. His great battle-ax glittered with the fires of the Northern Lights, and His eyes – His eyes turned my bones to water. He slew my entire band without a sound, before I even noticed He was there! And He spoke to me!

BOLVERK-
(Voice now dangerously low and smooth, his war hammer now hangs, seemingly forgotten, from one hand.)

What did he say to you?

All color drains from Bjorngrim’s face as his eyes bug, and his mouth works, as he fully realizes, perhaps for the first time, exactly what his message is, and to whom he is delivering it.

BJORNGRIM
(In a despairing whisper)
He said – He said – –
(almost sobbing as the rest comes out in a rush)
He said that you are no son of His, and He is no friend of yours.

With an incoherent bellow of rage and disbelief, Bolverk twitches his huge war hammer — so massive that a strong man would be able to wield it only with difficulty, even two-handed — through the space occupied by Bjorngrim’s head. The hammer doesn’t even slow.

CUT TO:
CLOSE-UP OF BOLVERK’S HAMMER OCCLUDING OUR VIEW OF BJORNGRIM’S HEAD — CONTINUOUS.

CUT TO:
A spray of shattered bone and pulped brain spattering against the far side of the tent.

CUT TO:
Bjorngrim’s headless corpse toppling to the ground.

CUT TO:
FULL VIEW INSIDE THE TENT — CONTINUOUS.
Bolverk spins back to Offi, his anger unassuaged.

BOLVERK
I have to find this snowdevil – this accursed impostor – find him and kill him! And you: find out what people Bjorngrim already spoke to, and take whatever steps are necessary to make certain that his story does not spread. Meanwhile, if I can find and destroy this “snowdevil”, I won’t need to worry about rumors. The rumors will die with the “snowdevil”. Can you use your magic to learn anything about it, or tell me how to find it?


Offi shuffles over to the wall of the tent and sniffs at the blood and brains lately splattered on the hide wall.

OFFI
I can fuel some small magic with the blood of a recent sacrifice. And the brain, being the seat of the senses, will enable me to perform a scrying.

From his robes he pulls a small, stained knife, and a polished stone bowl with a charred interior, and begins carefully scraping the nauseating mess off the hide wall and into the bowl. When he thinks that Bolverk isn’t looking, he surreptitiously dips a finger in the bowl and tastes the contents. Mumbling to himself, he carries the bowl over to a brazier near Bolverk’s chair, places the bowl on the ground next to the brazier, then uses a tongs to drop a hot coal into the bowl. As a puff of b lack smoke rises from the bowl, to the accompaniment of a loud hissing noise, the shaman’s mumbled incantation rises almost to audibility. The weird, unnatural syllables would strike horror into any ordinary man, but Bolverk only glares impatiently. As the smoke continues to rise from the bowl, it coalesces into a gray cloud hovering in the middle of the tent. The cloud quivers and billows, puffing out in some places and indenting itself in others; gradually it assumes a definite shape, a humanoid shape: the shape of a large bulky man wearing mail and furs, his upper face concealed by a visored helm. A full beard partially hides the lower part of his face. All is smoky gray, without color. Lightning seems to play within the cloud, and suddenly the cloud flushes with color: the man is wearing snow leopard fur over his mail, the helm is polished steel, the beard is white, and the eyes within the visored eye slits flame frosty blue. The skin is bronzed rather than pale or ruddy like a Nordheimer. Despite the white beard, there is none of the infirmity of age about the man; his posture is erect but flexible, his limbs are muscular, and there is an air of grim, irresistible determination about him. He almost resembles an elder war god, but Bolverk senses the difference.

BOLVERK
(Rumbling meditatively)
A man. A mortal human. I can kill him. I will kill him!
FADE OUT.

FADE IN.
INT. ASGARD — WULFHERESHOLM — WULFHERE’S LONGHOUSE — GREAT HALL — NIGHT.

A feast is being held in the torchlit great hall of Wulfhere’s lodge. Conan and his fellow Cimmerians have been seated at places of honor near the head of a long table, and they are having the time of their lives. In contrast to the rather austere Cimmerian tradition, the Aesir believe that anything worth doing is worth celebrating. Roast reindeer meat and strong brown ale are bestowed freely on the honored allies. And the tall, blonde Aesir women seem minded to bestow themselves equally freely on the guests. Conan himself has aroused much interest among them, but it seems that Helga Wulfheresdottir, a girl about Conan’s own age, has the inside track. Conan and Helga are whispering to each other and feeding each other tidbits of reindeer meat when Wulfhere interrupts the entertainment by making a speech.

WULFHERE
(Stands up at his place at the head of the table, and gesturing freely with a mostly full ale mug.)
I am honored to welcome our Cimmerian allies to Asgard, and to Wulfheresholm. We helped them last summer, and now they are here to help us repel the stinking Vanir scum who are trying to destroy our homeland and enslave us. Please help me show them what Aesir hospitality is like!

Conan, immersed in Aesir hospitality and enjoying every minute of it, has never heard of the concept of modesty as a virtue, but even if he had, he knows that this is neither the time nor the place for it. He rises, takes one last swig of ale to wash down the last mouthful of reindeer meat, and replies to Wulfhere with the extravagance of someone who is feeling neither pain, nor modesty, nor much of anything in the way of inhibitions.

CONAN
Your people and my people have been fighting the Vanir since the beginning of time. You kept the Vanir off our backs last summer so that we could drive the Aquilonians out of our land, and now it is our turn to help you drive the Vanir out of your land. And by Crom, we will send them running back to Vanaheim as if all the demons of Hell were chasing them! And our descendants will sing songs for a thousand years about our deeds of daring and courage, when the Aesir and the Cimmerians helped each other!

Aesir and Cimmerians roar and howl, stamp their feet and pound the table, as Conan drains his ale cup. His only problem is choosing from among all the full ale cups that are suddenly thrust at him.
FADE TO BLACK.

WULFHERE’S V.O.
(UNSEEN)
Time to get up, Cimmerian. Kiss the girls good-bye, for today we go to meet Niord, my Jarl.

FADE IN:
INT. ASGARD — WULFHERESHEIM — WULFHERE’S LONGHOUSE — GREAT HALL — MORNING.
Conan is lying on the floor, against a wall, surrounded by empty ale cups. His tunic is rumpled and stained. Wulfhere is standing near Conan’s feet, munching on a loaf of bread. With no sign of grogginess, Conan sits up.

CONAN
(Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed)
What’s for breakfast?
FADE OUT.

FADE IN.
EXT. SOMEWHERE IN NORDHEIM — NIGHT.
From a distance we see a lone figure trudging through the snow. At first the figure is unrecognizable. As the camera zooms in closer, we see the figure is wrapped in ragged clothing and scruffy furs – definitely not Conn.
As the figure passes near a copse of firs, a group of Vanir warriors step out from the trees to intercept and encircle the figure.

WARRIOR #1
Who’s this?

For the first time, the camera pans to the figure’s face, and we can see that it is our old friend Ubbi, from “Birth of a Hero” and “The Raid”. The years have not been kind to him. He wears an eyepatch over his empty eye socket; his hair is graying and his features are haggard. His clothing is unkempt, and he has the gaunt look of someone who hasn’t eaten well in a long time.

UBBI
Just an old Vanirman on his way home from his travels.

One of the warriors comes up close to Ubbi and scrutinizes his face.

WARRIOR #2
I know him. This is Ubbi. He used to be a warrior in Bolverk’s own village. Bolverk outlawed him, and he disappeared.
(To Ubbi)
So, old man, did you think you could elude Bolverk’s wrath forever?

UBBI
(Too tired to be fearful)
I just want to go home. If Bolverk is still angry with me, I will die sooner than otherwise, but at least I will die among my own folk.

WARRIOR #1
We can’t have him wandering around in the middle of a war and getting in everybody’s way. Holmund, get you some rope; bind his wrists and take care of him. We’ll take him to Bolverk. Maybe a present will cheer him up; he’s been in a nasty mood lately.

Ubbi seems to collapse in on himself on hearing this. But he is too tired and hopeless to protest.
Warrior #2, Holmund, binds Ubbi’s wrists with a length of rope, and holds the other end in his hand. When the band sets off, Holmund gives a yank on the rope to start Ubbi moving. Ubbi follows Holmund without struggle or protest.

FADE OUT.

FADE IN:
EXT. ASGARD — COUNTRYSIDE — LATER THAT NIGHT.
Tne Vanir band, still with Ubbi in tow, are picking their way through a copse of snow-laden fir trees. As the trees open out a little, they suddenly halt as a shaft of moonlight picks out a lone figure standing in their way. As details become more apparent, the figure is seen to be a large bulky man wearing mail and furs, his upper face concealed by a visored helm. A full beard partially hides the lower part of his face. Moonlight gleams frostily off his helm, and the edges of the two-handed ax he holds.


Some of the Vanir start to fan out to encircle the stranger, but they move hesitantly and uncertainly; others, instead of joining the encirclement, huddle together, muttering fearfully. Holmund releases Ubbi, who moves a short distance to a tree, where he stands watching.

FEARFULLY MUTTERING WARRIORS
It’s the Snow Devil!
We can’t fight it!
We’re all going to die.

Yelling as much in despair as in battle-rage, the Vanir leap at the stranger in a poorly-coordinated attack. The stranger springs into action, dodging and spinning as his ax whirls in deadly circles of flickering moonlit fire. In a few short moments, all the Vanir lie unmoving in the blood-splashed snow. Breathing hard, the stranger prowls among the bodies, looking for loot and finishing off survivors. He spots Ubbi, still standing under the tree. The stranger strides quickly over to Ubbi, his ax poised for a lethal blow.

CUT TO:
CLOSE-UP OF THE TRAPPED SURVIVOR’S FACE — CONTINUOUS.
The survivor is barely recognizable as our old acquaintance Ubbi. The years have not treated him kindly. He wears an eye patch over his missing eye, his hair is gray, his face is gaunt and lined. In the uncertain light, he bears an uncanny resemblance to The Straw Death of Conn’s dream.
When the stranger gets a good look at Ubbi, he gives a great start and jumps back a step, shifting to a defensive position. Then he peers closer, and the Straw Death-looking creature, upon clearer observation, is seen to be old Ubbi. The stranger raises his ax again.

STRANGER
I mistook you for The … for someone else. But you’re just an old Vanirman. Resist or not, you die now.

UBBI
(Blurting it out in panic)
I know you!

CUT TO:
FULL SHOT — CONTINUOUS.
The stranger remains poised, ax uplifted.

STRANGER
Do you?

UBBI
You’re no snowdevil! You’re Conn, Conn the Smith, from Blackwater Village in Cimmeria!

CONN
So, you know me. (Laughs)
(Continuing in a droll tone of voice)
I guess that means I’ll have to kill you.

UBBI
(Urgently)
No! Don’t! I can help you! And you can help me!

CONN
(Impatient)
Of course I can help you. If I was feeling helpful enough, I guess I wouldn’t kill you. But who are you and how can you help me?

UBBI
I’m Ubbi, Ubbi One-Eye, thanks to Bolverk Ymirsson, and I can lead you to him.

Conn steps back, and lowers his ax from a position of imminent threat to a normal guard position.

CONN
Why would you do that? Aside from the hope that it might save your life. Revenge for your lost eye?

UBBI
Because he’s going to destroy my people!

CONN
(Skeptically)
Say on.

UBBI

He’s insanely ambitious! For years he’s wanted to take control of all Vanaheim, then conquer Asgard and Cimmeria. The attacks of the Aesir last summer gave him the excuse he needed to assume leadership of the entire Vanir nation and attack the Aesir in turn. Then he will turn on Cimmeria. But it’s too much! Vanaheim can’t support that kind of war. He will stretch us thin and destroy us, in his mad attempt to conquer all the North! I was on my way back to face him and challenge him. Oh, I knew I had no chance of killing him, but I thought… if I could just draw blood before he killed me… it would show the others that he’s not invulnerable. But I just watched you wipe out an entire Vanir warband single-handed. You and I together, we can stop him!

CONN
So you hate Bolverk. Is that why they tied you up?

UBBI
They knew that Bolverk and I don’t get along, and they were going to present me to Bolverk as a gift.

Conn lowers his ax, pulls out a knife, and cuts the rope binding Ubbi’s wrists.

CONN
(Musing as he cuts Ubbi’s bonds)
I guess any enemy of Bolverk is a friend of mine. And how will we accomplish Bolverk’s downfall?

UBBI
There are oak groves in Asgard that are sacred to Ymir. We can lure Bolverk to one of those groves and ambush him.

Ubbi is free now, rubbing his wrists while Conn muses, entranced with his own ideas.

CONN
Hmm, Bolverk the Mighty, Bolverk the Invincible… Why bother with this business of sacred groves and ambushes? You can lead me to Bolverk’s camp, and I will fight him in front of his own men.

Ubbi is first incredulous, then horrified.

UBBI

You’re mad! You’re as mad as Bolverk! He really is invincible. He’s a monster! Bigger than you are! You can’t beat him in open combat! No one could! And you propose to just walk into his camp?!? His men will kill you before Bolverk gets the chance!

CONN
(Cheerfully confident)
No they won’t. They all think I’m a snowdevil, or even Ymir Himself. They won’t dare interfere. And no matter what happens, I’ll win!

Ubbi, not perceiving the deeper meaning behind Conn’s rambling, is nevertheless despairing.

UBBI
Madness! But I have to help you. You’re my only hope of stopping Bolverk.

CONN
(Cheerful)
That’s the spirit!

FADE OUT.

FADE IN:
EXT. ASGARD — COUNTRYSIDE — DAY.
Wulfhere and Conan, the Cimmerians, and about twice as many Aesir, are slogging through the snowy waste. The trail they are following leads between some snow drifts, and then into a copse of snow-laden fir trees. After they have entered the copse, Conan suddenly begins looking around nervously.

WULFHERE
What’s wrong?

CONAN
This is a perfect spot for an ambush. And somebody’s already been here.

Wulfhere begins looking around.

WULFHERE
It doesn’t matter. We’re ready for anything.


Conan’s attention zeroes in on a tree trunk. The camera zooms in on the tree trunk, and we see a smear of red on the bark. Conan touches the red mark with a finger, and his finger comes away red. He looks at Wulfhere and silently mouths the word “blood”. Wulfhere makes a gesture, and the entire column halts in its tracks. Everyone draws their weapons and begins looking around vigilantly. Conan, moving in slow motion, sword at the ready, picks his way one step at a time into the trees as Wulfhere stands watching him. Suddenly Conan freezes, then gestures to Wulfhere to join him. Wulfhere carefully moves toward Conan. As he reaches Conan, the camera zooms past Conan to show us what he is looking at. It is a dead Vanirman lying in the snow, his face frozen in a grimace of pain and horror. As the other Aesir move up to join Conan and Wulfhere, the camera pans past them to reveal an entire company of dead Vanir, all bearing mortal wounds, their clothing and armor rent and battered. Conan looks meaningfully at Wulfhere. The other Aesir start murmuring superstitiously among themselves

AESIR WARRIORS
… The Snowdevil…
… He fights for us…

They seem uneasy, disturbed. Wulfhere appears to reflect the same emotions.

CONAN
(Quietly, to Wulfhere alone)
Come on, Wulfhere, lets keep moving. We can’t rely on my grandfather to do all our fighting for us.

WULFHERE
(To the entire party)
All right! We’ve seen enough. There’s nothing more for us to do here. Let’s go.

The entire party gets back into marching
order and continues on its way.

DISSOLVE TO:
EXT. ASGARD — COUNTRYSIDE – NIGHT.
Conn and Ubbi are tramping through the moonlit snow. Conn has been talking; his voice fades in.

CONN

… so while everybody else was running around like chickens with their heads cut off, Conan walks up to this shaman with his bloody magic sword, and as the shaman is getting ready to kill him, Conan tosses his own sword away, way up in the air over his shoulder, and while the shaman is gaping at it, Conan just walks up to him and punches his lights out! (Laughs) Broke his nose with the first blow and his neck with the second. But the accursed shaman wouldn’t stay dead! Kept trying to get up again, all the while screeching dire threats about how he was going to feed all our souls to Set. But my grandson grabbed that accursed magic sword and nailed him with it, all the way through his body and into the earth! And even that didn’t kill him, although it did keep him from getting back up. So we burned Venarium down on top of him! (Laughs again)

Ubbi has been listening enthralled the whole time.

UBBI
You’re quite the storyteller! When you get too old to fight, you’d make a superb bard!

To Ubbi’s surprise, Conn reacts angrily to this compliment. He swings around in front of Ubbi to stop him and confront him.

CONN
(Yells)
Whaddayou mean, “get too old to fight”? I’ll never get too old to fight!

Ubbi studies Conn. His face shows dawning realization, then a mixture of horror and pity as he slowly nods his head.

UBBI
Now I understand. You’ve gone fay!

CONN
“Fay”? I don’t know that word.

UBBI
Fay … is when a man has made up his mind to die. It’s not the same as being berserk. Someone who is fay can be patient, can be crafty, can lay plans; but he has made up his mind that he is going to die, that he is not going to survive, so survival doesn’t enter into his plans. And that’s you, Conn. You expect Bolverk to kill you. (Suddenly impassioned) Dammit, Conn! I want Bolverk to die, not you!

CONN
(Calmer)
Don’t worry, Ubbi, if Bolverk can be killed by mortal man, I will kill him.

Conn faces forward and they resume their walk.
FADE OUT.


FADE IN.
EXT. ASGARD — VILLAGE OF SPRINGEBORG — DAY.

Wulfhere and Conan’s party enter through a stockade gate into a village of houses and buildings made mostly of frozen mud or logs, with thatched roofs. They pass through narrow, muddy streets, eventually approaching the village citadel, a smallish walled keep made of stone. Conan gapes at the crenellated stone wall, behind which a stone tower keep is visible.

CONAN
What is that?

WULFHERE
(Proudly)
This is the keep of Jarl Niord.

CUT TO:
EXT. ASGARD — VILLAGE OF SPRINGBORG — NIORD’S KEEP – COURTYARD – CONTINUOUS.

They continue past sentries and into the muddy courtyard, which is crowded with Aesir warriors.

CONAN
Is a jarl like a king?

WULFHERE
(A little bit surprised to find himself lecturing Conan on such elementary matters.)
Well, a jarl isn’t as high as a king. We Aesir don’t usually have kings, and when we do they usually don’t last very long. But if this Vanir war continues, the other jarls might unite behind Niord and make him king.

CONAN
(Nodding wisely)
Ahh!
(Looking around in awe)
This is very grand. Grander even than Venarium!

Wulfhere looks strangely at Conan, but decides to keep quiet.

CUT TO:
INT. ASGARD — NIORD’S KEEP — ENTRYWAY — CONTINUOUS.

They enter the keep itself, and are ushered into the greathall.

CUT TO:
INT. ASGARD — NIORD’S KEEP — GREATHALL — CONTINUOUS.

At the far end, a man in a fur cloak sits on an elevated chair. His hair is bound with a simple metal circlet. There are a couple of groups of warriors ahead of Conan and Wulfhere and their group. Wulfhere’s group patiently waits its turn. There is a general hubbub of voices.

DISSOLVE TO:
SAME SCENE — A LITTLE LATER.
Wulfhere’s group has reached Niord.

` WULFHERE
Hail Niord, Jarl! Here are some Cimmerian warriors come to fight with us against the Vanir. And here is Conan, their leader.

Conan is momentarily surprised to hear his “promotion” made official, but he rises to the occasion.

CONAN
Hail Niord, Jarl! We are honored to fight alongside you.
(grins)
And grateful for an opportunity to slay Vanirmen!

NIORD
(Pleased)
Well met, Wulfhere! Hail, Conan of Cimmeria!
(Brief burst of music: this is the first time that Conan has ever been referred to as “Conan of Cimmeria”.)
(To Wulfhere and Conan)
Go and eat and rest,
(He indicates another part of the hall, where warriors are seated at tables, eating and drinking.)
and I will talk to you later, when we discuss our plans.

DISSOLVE TO:
INT. ASGARD — NIORD’S KEEP — GREATHALL — LATER.

Niord, Conan, and company are seated at one of the previously indicated tables, finishing up a meal, washing down the last bits of food with the dregs of their ale. Their attention is not on their food, however, they are watching something else. The camera pans to show what they are watching Niord, further down the table, standing over a hide that is nailed to the table with four mismatched knives. He is sketching on the surface of the hide with a piece of charcoal.

NIORD
(Talking as he sketches)
Here is Springeborg, where we are, and up here, by the foothills to the west and a little to the north, is where we think that Bolverk and the Vanir make their main camp. We expect them to be foraging and pillaging in our direction, with a group of warriors in the van who call themselves The Wolves of Bragi. So we will go and meet them first. You and your reavers, Wulfhere, with our Cimmerian friends, are still girded for travel. Don’t unpack; get some fresh rations from the kitchen and head out at dawn, try to intercept their vanguard. Don’t engage them directly, just harass them and try to slow them down, delay their advance. I will follow as soon as I have finished gathering warriors here. Then I will join you, and we will deal the marauders a mighty blow, then fall on the Vanir main encampment and put an end to these invaders and their jumped-up leader for good.

Niord leaves the table to confer with his own warriors, leaving the map on the table for Wulfhere and Conan to study.

CONAN
(Impressed)
Your jarl can not only read maps, he can draw them, too. I guess that’s an important thing for a leader to be able to do.

WULFHERE
Didn’t … Conn … use maps?

CONAN
He didn’t need to. In Cimmeria we know where everything is. When we attacked Venarium, we used Aquilonian maps we had stolen.
(He leans over the map to examine it.)
So, how many day’s marches is it to these foothills where Bolverk’s camp is supposed to be?

WULFHERE
About four or five days, if we were just hiking unopposed. But we’ll meet those marauding Vanirmen, the Wolves of Bragi, before then.

Conan reaches for a jug of ale to refill his jack.


CONAN
We’ll be ready for them. In the meantime, since we may be dead in a few days, let’s have some more meat and ale now.

FADE OUT.

FADE IN.
EXT. ASGARD — WOODS NORTHWEST OF SPINGEBORG – DAY.
Conan and Wulfhere, and some of Conan’s Cimmerians, with enough of Wulfhere’s men to make the total number up to about 40, are marching through the woods. Since they are still in Springeborg territory, they are moving fairly fast, not tracking or guarding against ambush. They reach the edge of the woods and look northwest over an icy, snow-covered plain. Wulfhere points across the plain towards a distant mountain range.

WULFHERE
The Vanir army of which Niord spoke is in that direction. We’ll meet them somewhere between here and those mountains.

CONAN
Let’s go.

The group leaves the woods and starts trudging across the snow.
FADE OUT.

FADE IN.
EXT. ASGARD — WOODS — JUST OUTSIDE OF BOLVERK’S CAMP — DAY.
From the concealment of the woods, Conn and Ubbi have a view of the camp and are watching one of the sentries.

CONN
Decide now. Do you want to come into the camp with me or do you want to watch from the woods?

Ubbi stares at the camp with a mixture of longing and fear.

UBBI
I … will stay and watch from here.

CONN
Very well. Once I kill Bolverk, it will probably be safe for you to come into camp.

Conn melts into the woods. Moments later, he emerges silently behind the sentry. He has, in the meantime, donned his visored helmet.

CONN
(In a deep, portentious voice)
Take me to Bolverk.

The sentry jumps straight up in the air, does a midair 180, and lands in guard position, facing Conn. His mouth is open and his eyes are wide.

SENTRY
(Fearful)
You – you …

CONN
I have come for Bolverk. Take me to him.

The sentry masters his fear, straightens, nods stiffly.

SENTRY
(Strained)
Follow me.

He turns and begins marching toward the camp, looking terrified as he realizes that Conn is following behind him.

As they continue into the encampment, Vanir warriors move aside, and draw together into small clots and clusters, muttering uneasily to each other. Conn paces regally after the sentry, ignoring the other warriors. The sentry points to a large tent towering over its neighbors.

SENTRY
There is Bolverk’s tent.

The sentry moves away from Conn, fading back into a nearby group of Vanir warriors. Conn strides on alone until he reaches Bolverk’s tent. There he takes up a position opposite the entrance to the tent, but a couple of body lengths away.

Additional warriors are arriving continually from all directions, encircling Conn, and Bolverk’s tent, but keeping a “safe” distance, obviously intending to be spectators, not participants.

Conn stands tall, radiating confidence, charisma, and authority as he faces the entrance.

CONN
(Projecting his voice for maximum
volume without straining)

BOLVERK! YOU WHO CALL YOURSELF YMIRSSON! COME FORTH FROM YOUR HIDING PLACE!

For a moment, nothing happens. The gathered warriors fall dead silent.

CUT TO:
CLOSEUP OF UBBI, OUTSIDE THE CAMP.
He can hardly believe what he is witnessing, but beneath the disbelief, a terrible anxiety shows on his face.

CUT TO:
EXT. THE VANIR ENCAMPMENT – OUTSIDE BOLVERK’S TENT.
The silent moment stretches unbearably, then an angry Bolverk suddenly erupts from the entrance of the tent. He is even bigger than Conn. He is carrying his huge hammer in his right hand, and a big sword in his left, and he is ready to attack.

BOLVERK
YOU! The “snowdevil”! The imposter! After I kill you I will strip your body and exhibit it to my men to show them that you’re only human! Your skull will decorate the entrance to my tent.

Conn grins, looks Bolverk up and down, and laughs contemptuously.

CONN
Well, you’re a big one, aren’t you? The time for talking is over, Bolverk. Your time in the world
of men ends now.

With a roar, Bolverk charges Conn, hammer and sword swinging. Conn sidesteps and the fight begins. It becomes apparent that Bolverk is incredibly fast for his size, and hideously strong, but clumsy. At the outset of the fight, Conn is even faster, and fights with grace and superb timing, using a collected style designed to conserve energy. He makes no attempt to parry the hammer; instead, he dodges the irresistible hammer blows.

From time to time in the course of the fight, the camera cuts to the watching warriors. They are watching the fight with rapt attentiveness and professional appreciation, but it is hard to tell whom they are rooting for. It is as if they are afraid to root. The camera also cuts to Ubbi, watching from his hiding place outside the camp. There is no doubt whom he is rooting for; but still his face betrays unbearable tension and anxiety.


As the fight progresses, it becomes apparent that Conn is tiring. He begins panting, then wheezing, and his movements become more conservative. Bolverk, however, is tireless, never slowing down or taking a break.

Then, a counterslash from Conn’s ax shears through the shaft of the hammer, and the hammerhead goes flying off in a random direction.

CUT TO:
EXT. THE VANIR ENCAMPMENT – LONG SHOT OUTSIDE BOLVERK’S TENT.
The hammar-head lands among the surrounding warriors. They jump back to avoid it, and it kicks snow and dirt across their shins as it impacts the ground.

CUT TO:
EXT. THE VANIR ENCAMPMENT – OUTSIDE BOLVERK’S TENT.
Bolverk freezes in surprise for an instant, staring in dismay at the headless shaft. Conn sees his chance, and, grimacing with effort as he makes a supreme, all-or-nothing effort, leaps at Bolverk, slashing at Bolverk’s head with his ax.

Bolverk recovers from his surprise and flinches back, almost escaping unscathed… except… for the ax-edge that slices through his eye. He drops the useless hammer handle and claps the empty hand to his ruined eye as he continues to back-pedal. Blood and fluid leak out from under the hand; roaring with pain and rage, he resumes the attack, counterattacking with the sword in his other hand, wielding it as lightly as if it were a wand. Conn fights gamely, but he is staggering with fatigue, and a sudden slash from Bolverk’s sword strikes him in his hip and groin, penetrating Conn’s armor and cutting tendons and blood vessals. Conn collapses to the ground.

CUT TO:
CLOSEUP OF UBBI.
Grief and despair etch his face. He turns heavily and shuffles into the woods.

CUT TO:
FULL SHOT OF BOLVERK STANDING OVER THE PROSTRATE CONN.
The camera pans in on Bolverk’s face as he speaks.

BOLVERK
(Looking down contemptuously at Conn)

Hmmp! Not a fatal wound. I could get Offi to stop the bleeding and patch you up. You’d be crippled for life, of course. And I could drag you around with me, put you on display as a living example of what happens to all who oppose me. What say you, Cimmerian? Do you want to live? Shall I save your worthless life?

FADE OUT.

FADE TO:

CONN’S DREAM, JUST BEFORE HIS CONFRONTATION WITH THE TWO DEATHS.

Conn’s face betrays dread and reluctance as he slowly hunts through the woods for the voice. As he hunts, the voice gets louder and more distinct, and Conn gets more and more reluctant, yet he keeps searching. Suddenly he freezes as he reaches the edge of a clearing.
Standing in the middle of the clearing the figure of a warrior is dimly seen. This is the source of the strange, windy voice.

WARRIOR
Connnn… come to me, Conn.

After a moment’s hesitation, Conn moves out into the clearing slowly and haltingly, as if with extreme reluctance.

CONN
(Muttering, almost pleading)
No… Nooo…
As Conn approaches the figure, it becomes more distinct: a generic barbarian warrior wearing a shirt of old-style scale mail over a tunic, and an unusual three-horned helmet, two of the horns on the sides, as usual, and the third sticking up from the center top of the helmet, which is decorated with baroque carvings. The mysterious warrior is tall and of athletic build under his armor, but his face is shrouded in shadow under the rim of his helm. His sword hangs loosely in one hand by his side, also cloaked in shadow.
(Music builds to a crescendo of tension and suspense)
Suddenly, a shaft of moonlight breaks through the rushing clouds, falling across the warrior’s face. He is Cimmerian, beyond any doubt, but his face is deadly pale, and his cold eyes burn at Conn from under his beetled brow. His lips and fingernails are blue. The moonlight glints from his sword, a nicked and notched leaf blade of ancient design. The strange warrior lifts the blade, pointing it at Conn. Blood pours continually from the edge, as though from some vast wellspring of slaughter.
Conn rears back into a defensive stance in shock.


CONN
(Whispering in awe)
I know you!
(Defiant)
You’re MURDOC AC SEGWYN, Murdoc of One Thousand Battles, Bladebreaker, The Warrior’s Death.
(In a more normal tone)
So you’ve called me at last, Bladebreaker? I was wondering when you’d come. Well, I’m ready. At long last, I’m ready.

Conn relaxes and lowers his ax, but the grim Warrior’s Death only smiles sadly and raises his gory blade in salute.

MURDOC
I am sorry, Conn. I have sent many
messengers for you. But you killed
them all!

He laughs ruefully and lowers the blade.

VOICE (O.S)
(Mocking)
No, warrior, it’s too late for him now. I am come for you, old man.

Murdoc steps aside, fading into the mists, revealing a wizened and shriveled husk of a man. His skin is gray, and hangs loosely on what was once a mighty frame; his face is that of a mummy. Clad in rags, bits of straw cling to his hair, skin and clothes and swirl softly about him.

CONN
(In a horrified whisper)
Ragraent, The Straw Death!

He looks desperately to Murdoc, The Warrior’s Death, but the spirit turns away and walks toward the surrounding woods, shaking his head sadly.

CUT TO:
CLOSE-UP OF CONN, WITH AN EXPRESSION OF INCREDULITY AND OUTRAGE ON HIS FACE.
He turns to look at the Straw Death shambling towards him, then turns back to the receding figure of the Warrior’s Death.


CONN
NOOOOoooooo!!!!

He hurls his ax at the Warrior’s Death.

CUT TO:
CONN’S AX, TUMBLING AND SPINNING THROUGH THE AIR.
The ax barely misses the Warrior’s Death, and continues past him some distance before burying its blade in the ground.

CUT TO:
CONN, THE EXPRESSION ON HIS FACE CHANGING TO FEROCIOUS DETERMINATION.
Conn sprints after WD, tackles him from behind, and brings him to the ground. They roll around on the ground, wrestling viciously, gouging, biting, kicking, punching, grunting with effort. Finally, Conn gets on top, and begins pounding WD with his fists, with such violence and power that it is plain that any single blow might kill an ordinary man. WD grunts from the force of the blows, but doesn’t seem to be experiencing much in the way of pain or damage.

CONN
(Grunting with effort)
I won’t let you cheat me! I won’t stand for it!

WD struggles to gain the upper hand, but finally gives up.

MURDOC
All right (oof), enough (ugh), you win! I cannot deny you any more. (laughs) You’ve earned the warrior’s death. Now let me up!

Conn gets off WD and helps him to his feet; they are both laughing. WD pulls Conn’s ax out of the ground and hands it to Conn.

MURDOC
Here, you’ll need this where you’re going.


Conn hears something, spins around, and spies Straw Death sneaking up on him. He crushes SD with one blow of his ax; as SD collapses to the ground, Conn, in a berserk rage, keeps slashing at him with whirling blows of his ax, until nothing is left of SD but rags and wisps of straw on the ground. The straw bursts into flame. Conn, by a trick of the camera, seems to grow taller and bigger as he stands over the bonfire. He throws his head back and laughs, the wild, gusty laugh of the untamed barbarian.

CUT TO:
EXT. THE VANIR ENCAMPMENT – OUTSIDE BOLVERK’S TENT.
Bolverk is standing over Conn, awaiting the latter’s reply to his “offer”.

BOLVERK
Well, Cimmerian, what will it be? I grow
impatient.

Conn, on his back, suddenly bursts out in a wild, gusty laugh, the laugh of the untamed barbarian, spraying blood all over Bolverk. Bolverk recoils in shock and disgust, as Conn dies with a grin on his face.
FADE OUT.

* * *

EPILOG

EXT. ASGARD – SOMEWHERE NORTHWEST OF SPRINGEBORG – DAY.
Wulfhere and Conan and their group are trudging across the limitless snow-swept plain of northern Asgard.

WULFHERE
I don’t understand it. We’ve been following Vanir tracks for days, but we’ve yet to see a single Vanirman, not even a sentry. And why hasn’t Niord caught up with us?

CONAN
I wonder if we’re being drawn into a …

Suddenly dozens of Vanirmen erupt from the snow where they had buried themselves. Yelling, they charge the Aesir.

CONAN
… trap!

The Vanir close with the Aesir, in a formless melee with no resemblance to formal military tactics. Soon Wulfhere and Conan are fighting back to back against a crowd of encircling Vanir.

FADE TO RED.

END OF PART I

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

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