THE SNOW DEVIL
Steve Block and Brian Bevel
FADE IN FROM STANDARD INTRO:
EXTERIOR: BIRD’S-EYE SHOT — ASGARD – THE ICE PLAIN — AESIR WAR CAMP — DAY.
The camera zooms down to the Asgardian ice plain, finally zooming down to an encampment of several dozen crude tents. A group of warriors are squatting in front of the largest tent. As we zoom in, we see that one of the warriors is Conan. He is talking to about a dozen others, mostly Aesir, and a couple of Cimmerians. As he talks, he is running a length of fabric, a wisp of gossamer veil of a fineness and transparency no human weaver could achieve, through his fingers. The others stare at it as he talks.
There was 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. 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. It was all strange and weird – Gorm says it was Atali, the daughter of Ymir the Frost Giant.
The warriors murmer superstitiously. But one of them looks off screen.
Look! Here’s Niord.
Conan stuffs the fabric back into his beltpouch. Niord and some more Aesir walk into the picture. The squatting warriors all rise and exchange greetings with Niord and his companions, then everybody settles down as Niord begins to speak.
Well, it was a victory of sorts: the Vanir lost two bands, and we only lost one. But we can’t afford many more victories like that. We may have to pull back, to protect Springeborg.
The Aesir shake their heads and mutter in chagrin.
This is fell news. Maybe we could –
Is Conan here? Oh, there he is.
It is Ragnar, another Aesir warrior, entering the picture.
Conan, the guards have captured an old Vanirman. He just wandered straight into camp, and when we stopped him, he said he had to talk to the Cimmerian, Conan of Blackwater Creek. That’s you, right?
I don’t know any other Conans from my tribe. What did this Vanirman want?
He didn’t say, except he wants to talk to you. Says he has news of your grandfather.
I’d better go find out what this is about.
Niord makes a permissive gesture, waving Conan away.
EXTERIOR: ASGARD – THE ICE PLAIN — ELSEWHERE IN THE CAMP — DAY.
Ubbi is standing, waiting, with three Aesir guards watching him. Conan and Ragnar approach.
Three guards? He doesn’t look that dangerous.
He’s Vanir. You never can tell.
I’d like to talk to him alone.
(Ragnar looks doubtful.)
I’ll be all right.
Ragnar and the other three guards move away.
I’m Conan of Blackwater Creek. Who are you and what news have you of my grandfather?
I’m Ubbi, Ubbi One-eye these days. So you’re Conn’s grandson. I was with him during the last days of his life.
Conan registers the news of Conn’s death with narrowed eyes.
How did he die? And how came you to know him?
He rescued me from a band of Vanir who were going to take me to Bolverk Ymirsson. Alone, he wiped out an entire band of warriors. I was tied up and couldn’t aid him. But he needed no aid from me. Conan! Your grandfather was the Snow Devil!
I knew that.
(Disappointed at the lack of astonishment)
Hmmp. Well, after he freed me, I told him that I wanted to kill Bolverk, or at least challenge him.
You? A Vanirman?
Aye! Bolverk’s mad ambitions will be the death of the Vanir! He has led us into battle after battle, conquest after conquest, with never a chance to rest or regroup! We have left our dead scattered all across Nordheim and Pictland, and now he’s talking about conquering Cimmeria after Asgard, and then on to Aquilonia! He may be invincible, we may conquer the world under his leadership, but the Vanir will become extinct before he’s done! He must be stopped! I had hoped to at least bloody him in a challenge, even if I died in the process, just to show that he isn’t a demigod!
But then I met Conn, and after seeing him in action, I thought that here was a warrior who actually had a chance to defeat him. I led him to Bolverk, and on the way, I think we became friends. I learned that Conn was seeking death in battle.
(This gets Conan’s undivided attention)
He was fay, Conan! He courted death as a groom courts his bride, and it eluded him like a coy and fickle lover. But he seemed such an irresistible fighter, I thought he actually had a chance to defeat Bolverk. Ah, what a fight that was!
FLASHBACK: HIGHLIGHTS OF THE FIGHT BETWEEN CONN AND BOLVERK, DEPICTED IN MYTHIC SLOW MOTION.
He took Bolverk’s eye, and I thought he had him then, but where an ordinary man would have been shocked and paralyzed by the pain, Bolverk just fought back harder, and he killed your grandfather, Conan. By now, Conn’s head must be decorating a spear outside Bolverk’s tent.
DISSOLVE BACK TO CONAN AND UBBI.
As we were traveling, Conn told me about you, Conan: what a fierce and canny warrior you were, even young as you are. He told me how you broke the Gunderman shieldwall at Venarium, how you defeated an unkillable wizard.
(With earnest persuasiveness)
Conan, you must avenge your grandfather! And if you kill Bolverk, it will put an end to this war. With Bolverk dead, the Vanir will go home.
(Musing out loud)
I think Nordheim would be a duller place if the Vanir went home. For that matter, I would rather fight the Vanir in Nordheim than in Cimmeria. But that doesn’t matter. My grandfather’s death requires vengeance. (With emphatic determination) There is a blood debt to be paid, and Bolverk will pay it. And I am the one who will collect it. If you know where he is to be found, then lead me to him.
I know where his camp is, but you don’t want to go there, where he is surrounded by his men.
Did Bolverk not kill my grandfather in sight of his men?
Ubbi nods dumbly.
So I will kill Bolverk in the sight of his men.
Are Cimmerians all crazy? Or is it just your family?
Some people might say we’re crazier than most Cimmerians.
EXTERIOR: ASGARD – THE ICE PLAIN — AESIR WAR CAMP — IN FRONT OF NIORD’S TENT — DAY.
Conan, with Ubbi in tow, is talking with Niord.
… so I will have to leave for a while. I cannot rest until I have avenged my grandfather’s death. And Ubbi claims that Bolverk’s death will so dishearten the Vanir that they may well cease their invasion and return to Vanaheim.
While I’m not inclined to trust the word of a Vanirman, I do understand vengeance. I will not stand in your way. Indeed, I think I pity anyone who is so foolish as to stand in your way. (To Ubbi, sternly) Vanirman, if this is some kind of trick, I promise you will pay for any treachery.
It is Bolverk who will pay.
EXT. ASGARD – COUNTRYSIDE – DAY.
Conan and Ubbi are walking along, talking.
So you knew all along that Conn was seeking death?
(Curt; he’d rather not talk about it)
Then, if you don’t mind my asking, why are you so set on vengeance? Bolverk gave him what he wanted: death in battle.
Doesn’t matter. Bolverk killed my grandfather, and now Bolverk must die.
Well, it’s not as if I’m trying to talk you out of it.
(Looks carefully at the surroundings.)
Bolverk’s camp is on the other side of that little woods, there. Keep a sharp lookout for sentries.
I don’t see any sentries.
EXT. ASGARD – THE (DESERTED) VANIR ENCAMPMENT – DAY.
The camp is deserted. Nothing is left but trampled snow, random rubbish and blackened fire circles. To one side, in a different direction from that by which Conan and Ubbi arrived, a trampled swath leads into the woods.
(Gesturing at the trampled swath)
They won’t be hard to follow.
Right. Let’s go.
Conan immediately begins jogging down the swath. Ubbi jogs after him, with less speed and grace.
EXT. ASGARD – THE SNOWY CREST OF A HILL – DAY.
Viewing the crest of the hill, we see Conan’s helmet, then his head, then his shoulders, come into view as he jogs to the top of the hill. He reaches the top of the hill and stops. Breathing deeply but easily, he surveys whatever lies down the other side of the hill (behind the camera). A moment later, Ubbi comes up the hill, and stops next to Conan. He is wheezing with exhaustion.
Did we have to run all night? Would it have hurt to stop for a nap?
Actually, we’re not a moment too soon.
(He starts jogging down the hill.)
The camera swerves, and pans dramatically down the near side of the hill, to the ice plain below, where two armies are drawn up, facing each other. The larger army is a single unified mass, although not organized in any coherent way. The smaller army is divided into groups and bands of various sizes, which, again, are not organized in any coherent way.
As the camera zooms in on the armies, we see that the larger army consists of Vanir: a “national” army united under Bolverk. The smaller army consists of Aesir: Jarl Niord’s personal followers plus whatever other Aesir he was able to recruit on short notice.
The camera pans to the Vanir army where Bolverk himself has been haranguing his troops. Rather than continuing to zoom in on Bolverk, we
CLOSEUP OF BOLVERK, SHOWING HIS HEAD AND UPPER BODY.
The camera is facing the Vanir army, and a rear view of Bolverk; he is facing his troops, and holding his hammer in his left hand a spear in his right. The view is close enough to Bolverk that we cannot see the spearhead. There is an enthusiastic shout from the Vanir, and Bolverk turns to face the camera, and the Aesir army, which is behind the camera. We see that he is wearing a crude patch over the eye that Conn destroyed. He takes a few steps towards the camera, and the Aesir, and addresses them in a hoarse bellow which is easily loud enough to be heard by the entire Aesir army.
Aesir! Your cause is hopeless! Your only hope of survival is to surrender. Do you think the “Snow Devil” will save you? He couldn’t even save himself! Look!
He brandishes his spear as the camera zooms back, revealing Conn’s grinning head impaled on the spearpoint. Bolverk shakes the spear, and Conn’s head, at the Aesir.
Here is your “Snow Devil”! He’s dead! I killed him!
There is a general gasp, and groan, from the Aesir, as the camera pans across them, showing their dismay.
I will give you one chance to avoid defeat and bloody death . One chance to escape your doom. Send a champion to fight me in single combat. If your champion wins, the Vanir will go home and leave you in peace. If I win, you will all surrender, and live, and become slaves, without further bloodshed.
JARL NIORD,SURROUNDED BY HIS OWN WARRIORS.
As his warriors watch, Niord nerves himself for a probably suicidal fight, and starts to march toward Bolverk and, presumably, his doom.
(Loud and clear)
I will fight you, Bolverk. I challenge you. It is my right.
The camera, and all eyes, pan across the battlefield to Conan, who has entered the battlefield from one side, with Ubbi mooching along behind him, unnoticed by anyone, as everyone was watching Bolverk and Niord.
Who in Ymri’s frozen hell are you?
I am Conan, Connell’s son and grandson of Conn, the man you killed. I claim bloodfeud!
Niord stops in his tracks.
(Hiding his relief)
I recognize this man. He is who he says he is, and I defer to his right to avenge his grandfather.
Very well. You can fight me after I kill the stripling, if you still have the stomach for it.
As Conan marches towards him, Bolverk tosses the spear, with Conn’s head still impaled on it, contemptuously aside. Conan’s eyes follow the spear and Conn’s head as they land in the snow. His eyes blaze with anger.
(Sneering as he taunts Conan)
So he was your grandfather, was he? You know, he screamed like a woman when I dealt him the fatal blow, and even as he lay dying, he begged me to spare him.
Conan stops dead in his tracks when he hears this, his face momentarily blank, then, so suddenly that he even surprises himself, a laugh bursts forth from his lips, the wild, gusty mirth of the untamed barbarian.
Conn’s head lying in the snow, grinning. Briefly and transparently superimposed over it is Conn’s living face, laughing after his victory over the Straw Death.
Bolverk. He goes white when he hears Conan’s laugh, so like Conn’s last laugh. Conan presses his advantage.
You may be a big fool, but I slew two fools who were even bigger than you. If you are truly the son of Ymir, then I guess they were your brothers. They were bigger than you, but not half so ugly.
Bolverk’s mouth drops open, and he shakes his head in disbelief.
(Sensing victory as he goes for Bolverk’s psychological throat)
They tried to keep me from Atali – oh! I guess she must be your sister! Anyway, they were going to lay my heart on Ymir’s banquet table. So after I slew her brothers, I … stole … a kiss from Atali.
Conan puts his bunched fingertips to his lips and kisses them with an expression of reminiscent appreciation as he rolls his eyes salaciously.
(He turns red with rage and advances a step towards Conan)
Conan reaches a hand into his belt pouch, and slowly, like a stage magician pulling a silk scarf out of a hat, draws from it a length of fabric, a wisp of gossamer veil of a fineness and transparency no human weaver could achieve. With a contemptuous flourish, he releases it, allowing it to flutter slowly to the snow.
Bellowing with rage, Bolverk charges.
Conan sidesteps, drawing his sword, and slashes at the back of Bolverk’s knees as he runs past, but Bolverk is running too fast, and Conan’s slash misses. In the ensuing fight, it is apparent that although Bolverk is much bigger and heavier than Conan, he is surprisingly fast. But Conan is even faster. He doesn’t use the collected, energy-conserving style of his grandfather, but instead fights with an extended, profligate style that burns energy at a furious rate. And unlike his grandfather, he doesn’t tire. Without hope, or intention, of blocking the irresistible swings of Bolverk’s massive hammer, Conan jinks and dodges, evading the hammerblows by mere inches, or even fractions of an inch, at times jumping around like a demented grasshopper, and counterattacking at every opportunity. He manages to inflict some minor cuts on Bolverk, but nothing significant.
Conan counterattacks even faster and more furiously, forcing Bolverk to give ground. At one point, Bolverk blocks a sword-blow with the head of his hammer, and Conan’s sword shatters on impact with the hammerhead, leaving Conan in possession of the hilt, and a shard of the blade. He stares in dismay at the sword-shard in his hand. Bolverk raises his hammer to smash Conan to jelly.
EXT. CIMMERIA — NORTHWESTERN FOOTHILLS — THE “WINTER VILLAGE” OF CONAN’S TRIBE — WINTER — MORNING.
Conan flashes back to when he was eight years old, at one of his childhood training sessions with his grandfather.
You want lunch, lad, you have to win. So ‑have at!
They resume sparring. After more blows are exchanged, Conn slips just a little, throwing his stance off just enough. Sensing the opening, the eight-year-old Conan goes for a vicious backhand at Conn’s knee. Conn manages to block the blow with his blade when suddenly there is the loud CRACK of cracked wood. Conan stares dumbfounded at the stub of a sword in his hand. Conn raises his sword on high and yells in a truly bad Swedish accent ‑
Ha! Victory be mine, now, ya sure! You die, Cimmerian dog!
Conan’s jaw drops for an instant in shock, then, as Conn steps forward, sword swinging down, Conan throws his buckler away, and takes a short hop forward and to his right (putting himself inside Conn’s effective distance) as he sticks his broken-off stub of a sword in his mouth and bites down on it. Then he makes a tremendous leap up and forward, colliding with Conn’s chest and grabbing hold of his jacket front with both hands. As Conn stops and tries to shorten his swing without hitting himself, Conan climbs up Conn’s jacket front like a monkey until he reaches Conn’s shoulders, then he pulls his sword out of his mouth and jams the splintered end into Conn’s neck.
Now YOU die, pig of a Vanirman!
For an instant, Conn stands flat-footed, totally flabbergasted, his face betraying complete surprise. Then, still standing there, he begins to laugh. Conan rides Conn’s bouncing belly for a couple of seconds, then he begins to laugh, too. He slides down off Conn’s chest, and they both stand there laughing for a moment.
You know, for a minute, there, I thought I was going to die! I think I almost pity the poor Vanirmen who are going to face you.
THE PRESENT FIGHT BETWEEN CONAN AND BOLVERK, cont.
As Bolverk’s hammer begins to descend, Conan sticks his sword-shard between his teeth and clenches down on it; then he makes a tremendous leap at Bolverk, getting inside the hammer-swing, which misses him completely. He lands on Bolverk’s chest, clamping his long, powerful legs on Bolverk’s ribcage, and grabbing the hair on the back of Bolverk’s head in both hands.
CLOSEUP OF CONAN’S HEAD AND FACE.
His face is a demon’s mask of snarling hatred; the sword-shard is still clamped in his teeth; trickles of blood are running down from the corners of his mouth where the sword-shard cut his lips.
CLOSEUP OF BOLVERK’S FACE.
Bolverk knows fear, and his face reflects it, for perhaps the first time in his life.
FULL SHOT, SHOWING BOTH MEN AS THEY STRUGGLE.
Conan releases Bolverk’s hair with one hand, yanks the sword-shard out of his own mouth, and jabs it into Bolverk’s neck. Blood spurts as Conan begins sawing away at the tough tendons of Bolverk’s massive neck.
Bolverk roars in pain and rage as he staggers around in circles. He is losing enough blood to kill two ordinary men, but he claws at Conan’s back.
CLOSEUP OF CONAN’S BACK AS BOLVERK FINGERS CLAW AT IT.
The riveted links of Conan’s chainmail shirt part with metallic pinging noises as Bolverk’s huge, strong fingers claw at it. His nails shred the underlying tunic, and plow red furrows in Conan’s muscled back.
FULL SHOT OF THE STRUGGLE.
Through it all, Conan continues hacking industriously away at his opponent’s neck amid great gouts of spurting blood. Finally, Bolverk’s bellows weaken, his arms flail discoordinatedly, and he sinks to his knees.
Conan lands on his feet, one hand still locked in Bolverk’s hair. He begins taking great slicing slashes at Bolverk’s neck, releasing still more blood. Bolverk is greatly weakened. His arms are hanging limply and he is supported in an upright kneeling position more by Conan’s grip on his hair than by his own strength. Conan pauses for breath and looks over at his grandfather’s head lying in the snow. He releases Bolverk, who collapses backward into the snow. Conan and Bolverk are both covered with blood.
ONE OF THE WARRIORS IN THE VANIR ARMY.
This warrior is an archer. Angered beyond endurance by his leader’s plight, he draws and nocks an arrow, fits it to his bow, and takes aim. One of the other Vanir warriors grabs him to stop him, but too late. The archer looses his arrow.
THE ARROW IN FLIGHT TOWARDS CONAN.
Ubbi has been jittering around near the fight. He sees the arrow and runs to intercept. He manages to interpose his body, takes the arrow in his chest, and sinks to his knees.
CONAN, STANDING OVER BOLVERK.
He sees Ubbi’s action. Conan and Ubbi lock eyes, and Conan nods in acknowlegement of Ubbi’s sacrifice. Ubbi nods back, then collapses into the snow.
While Bolverk lies gasping his last, Conan walks over to the spear with Conn’s head impaled on the point. He tenderly removes Conn’s head from the point, and gazes into its eyes for a moment. Then, with the head tucked under one arm, and carrying the spear in his other hand, he marches back to where Bolverk lies wheezing in the snow. He looks down at Bolverk, holding Conn’s head so it can also gaze down at Bolverk.
That laugh … you sounded … just like … him. How…?
Why don’t you ask him – when you meet him in Hell!
(As he plunges the spear into Bolverk’s body)
The Aesir warriors erupt in a deafening roar.
EXT. – CIMMERIA – BLACKWATER CREEK VILLAGE – EVENING.
A group of figures is trudging through the village as the sun sets. As the camera slowly zooms in on them, we see they are young Cimmerian warriors. As they walk, first one, then another, splits off from the main group, accompanied by muted farewells or other comments, and go their separate ways. One particular warrior leaves, and the camera follows him and zooms in even closer, revealing the warrior to be Conan, in light armor, looking older and harder.
He makes his way to the smithy, and the camera follows him inside.
INT. CIMMERIA – BLACKWATER CREEK VILLAGE – THE SMITHY – EVENING.
As Conan enters, Connell is bending hot iron in the forge, Brigidda is stirring something in a pot on the hearth, and Marigan is patching clothes. They all look up as Conan enters. Connell’s and Brigidda’s faces light up; Marigan pauses in her sewing and simply waits. Conan’s mother and father rush to him and embrace him as they express their joy in his safe return. Connell pounds him about the back and shoulders with blows that would cripple a normal man, but Conan seems to enjoy it. Then it is time for him to face Marigan.
Conan fumbles at a bag attached to his belt. It is of a size and shape to suggest that it might hold a human head. Marigan stares at the bag, and her eyes get big as a look of horror comes over her face. Conan doesn’t notice this, as he is busy untying the bag; finally he gets it open and dumps the object within out onto the earthen floor; it hits with a thud. It is Bolverk’s head, the face contorted in a grimace of pain. Marigan actually relaxes as a look of relief washes over her face. Connell and Brigidda look at Conan questioningly.
This was Bolverk Ymirsson, the warlord of the Vanir. He was thought to be invincible in battle; it was said that no human being could defeat him. Grandfather fought him and died. But before that happened, Grandfather was almost single-handedly destroying the Vanir army, hunting down band after band of Vanir, and wiping out whole bands all by himself. They developed a superstitious fear of him, and dubbed him “The Snow Devil”. He and Bolverk had a tremendous fight, and Grandfather took his eye before Bolverk slew him. After killing Grandfather, Bolverk carried his head around as a trophy. Two weeks later I slew Bolverk in front of both armies, in a bloodfeud challenge, using a trick that Grandfather himself taught me when I was a boy. And that was the end of the Aesir-Vanir War.
Marigan almost seems to glow with happiness and pride as Conan speaks of Conn’s heroism. When he tells of Bolverk killing Conn, she gets up and spits on Bolverk’s head. Connell and Brigidda nod approvingly as he talks about killing Bolverk.
You did well, Conan. Were you able to administer last rites to Father?
I never found his body. But I cremated his head,
EXT. ASGARD – THE ICE PLAIN – THE AESIR ARMY GATHERED AROULND A FUNERAL BIER – NIGHT.
Conan stands alone near the burning funeral bier; Aesir warriors are drawn up in respectful ranks at a distance. Conn’s head is set at the “head” of the bier. Gold and jewels and fine weapons and furs and fabrics are heaped on the bier below Conn’s head. At the foot of the bier, Bolverk’s headless body lies sprawled. As the bier burns, Aesir nobles and chiefs, dressed in their finest armor and clothing, pace solemnly in from the sides to stand next to Conan. Conan’s voice continues V.O. throughout the scene.
CONAN (Cont., V.O.)
with all of Bolverk’s possessions as a funeral offering. The Aesir army watched, and Aesir jarls and war chiefs stood vigil with me to honor him.
FULL SHOT OF CONAN.
Jarl Niord stands next to Conan.
THE SMITHY – PRESENT.
Marigan relaxes. Her closure is complete.
The camera zooms in to Conan’s face, then suddenly swerves and reverses to suggest that we are seeing a Conan’s-eye-view of the room. Everything looks drab and colorless and shabby; the walls and furnishings press in on Conan; it is so cramped and crowded there is barely room for Conan and his family. Although they are talking to him, their voices seem tinny and faraway, and yet some words seem to reverberate unnaturally.
Well, now that things are back to normal, normal, normal with Father gone I need help with the forge, forge, forge. I can use your strong arms with the work, work, work.
And with a good trade, trade, trade of your own, you’ll be able to settle down, settle down, settle down, down, down with a nice girl, girl, girl.
Conan winces, and squirms uncomfortably.
Actually, I wanted to talk to you about that. Last summer I traveled south to the Aquilonian border, and I’m just back from soldiering all over Asgard, and the thing is, I don’t think I’m ready to settle down. I want to see the rest of the world that Grandfather told me all those stories about.
Connell and Brigidda are nonplused. Marigan is not surprised.
I knew it. I knew this would happen. I knew that all those stories would give him the wanderlust, just like … (hesitates, voice catches)… his grandfather.
Brigidda looks like she would like to protest, but she takes a long look at Conan, and when Connell begins talking she sits down with a resigned sigh, looking bleak.
(Solemn, but mostly hiding his disappointment)
I know that young men have to do this sometimes. Where are you going to go?
I thought I would go south, where the sun is warm and life is easy and wealth abounds.
Due south would take you right into Aquilonia. Cimmerians must be pretty unpopular there right now. In fact, I bet they would just love to get their hands on a lone Cimmerian.
Well then, I think I’ll head east first, through Hyperborea or the Border Kingdom.
How will you live?
I can hunt, I know how to live off the wilderness, and when I get to a city, I’ll think of something. And if I can’t find a way to live in a city, well, I can always leave again.
Come on, let’s have supper, and then we’ll help you pack.
EXT. CIMMERIA – BLACKWATER CREEK VILLAGE – IN FRONT OF THE SMITHY – EARLY MORNING.
The sun isn’t up yet, but there is a preliminary glow in the eastern sky. Conan, a small pack on his back, wearing the same light armor as in the last scene, exits the smithy, followed by his family. They exchange hugs.
I’ll be back … sometime.
Conan starts walking out of the village. As he leaves, the camera pans after him to view him striding jauntily into the rising sun.
“Conan” ©Copyright, Conan Properties, Inc. “Conan The Mighty” ©Copyright 1996, William Galen Gray.