THE TOWEL OF THE ELEPHANT
by
Steve (Ironhand) Block

Loosely based on
“Tower of the Elephant”
by Robert E. Howard

PROLOGUE

FADE IN:

P.O.V. VIEW FROM SPACE

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

VOICEOVER

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

(the morphing is complete)

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

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

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

(the view brightens again)

Reigning supreme in the dreaming west

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

Hither came Conan the Cimmerian,

(music builds to crescendo; partial fade to close-up of Conan, black-haired, sullen-eyed, towel in hand.)

Thief,

(Cut to Conan plucking jewel from an idol.)

Reaver,

(Cut to Conan in battle in full armor.)

Hero,

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

With deep melancholies and gigantic mirth,

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

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

(Crescendo fades to a more melodic, yet nonetheless ominous, theme. The view starts to zoom in on Aquilonia and Cimmeria, then veers Eastward to Zamora.)

In Conan’s veins flowed the blood of ancient Atlantis, swallowed by the seas eight thousand years before his time. Fresh from the Vanir-Aesir wars, Conan has bid farewell to the frozen North, and has traveled eastward and southward to Arenjun, the “City of Thieves”, where he hopes to turn his talents to burglary, hopefully a more profitable profession than endless raids and counter-raids across the frigid snows of Nordheim.)

(The view zooms down to Arenjun, a city of lofty towers and regal villas, imbedded in a sea of squalid hovels and noisome taverns, all lit by smoky torches. Our viewpoint zooms in on one of these taverns, just in time to see a tall, broad-shouldered youth, bronze of skin and wearing a threadbare tunic that barely contains his steely thews as they slide across his frame. The tunic is belted by a rolled-up, grimy towel fastened in place with a slip knot.

ACT I

CUT TO:

INTERIOR: ZAMORA — ARENJUN — A TAVERN — NIGHT.

A grimy tavern lit by smoky torches and a single lantern, noisy with shouted conversations, crude, eastern-sounding music, and cruder laughter, and occasional shrieks and curses. Serving wenches hustle back and forth, carrying drinks for the customers and deftly evading gropings and clutchings from the same customers. Other wenches, carrying nought but their own charms, seek out those gropings and clutchings. The customers themselves are so scurvy-looking they appear frightening. Thieves, pickpockets, burglers, strong-arm muggers, slavers and slayers, cutthroats and murderers — unshaven, unwashed, and unlaundered. One of the slavers is boasting loudly.

SLAVER
(Between gulps from his ale mug)
…Yes, I spotted her last week, staying at a high class inn with her father, a Brythunian merchant. I have it all planned – she will be mine tonight, and then I’ll be over the border with her by tomorrow night. A lovely young Brythunian lass like her is worth a fortune. I know lords in Shem who would give the Towel of the Elephant for such as her!

The tall, bronzed, shabbily dressed youth we saw entering the tavern earlier, suddenly focuses his attention on the slaver at mention of the famous Towel. He strides over to the table where the slaver is holding court.

CONAN
(Speaking Zamoran with an outlandish accent)
This Towel of the Elephant – I have heard others speak of it. What know you of this Towel?

SLAVER
(Eager to exploit any opportunity to display his knowlege, especially at the expense of another)
Hah! Every thief in Arenjun knows of the Elephant’s Towel! It is kept in the Tower of Yahoo the Wizard, who guards it with his own life, and with all his magic, because it holds the secret of his power. And there is not a thief in this city of thieves who would not give anything to be able to steal it!

CONAN
Then why has no one stolen it yet? I have seen the Tower of Yahoo – it appears to be unguarded, and is surrounded by gardens through which a thief could steal unnoticed, and a low wall that anybody could climb.

SLAVER
(To his companions, mockingly)
Ho! Listen to the country bumpkin! He would teach thievery to those who have been stealing for a living since before he was spawned.
(To Conan, arrogantly)
Listen and learn, boy! Yahoo’s guards reside inside the tower, and the surrounding gardens are guarded by guardians more terrible than any human guards.

CONAN
(Irritated by the slaver’s manner)
The human guards must be stationed at the base of the tower. They can be bypassed by scaling the tower from the outside.

SLAVER
(Getting angry)
What!?! And have you the wings of an eagle, that you can fly straight to the top of Yahoo’s tower? It is 150 feet high, and the sides are as slick as glass. And what of the deadly guardians in the garden through which you would have to pass to get to the tower?

CONAN
(Getting angry in turn)
Any Cimmerian could climb that tower! And as for the garden guardians, desire coupled with sufficient courage and determination can win past the greatest difficulties.

SLAVER
(Outraged)
Now he boasts of superhuman abilities while mocking our courage!
(He shoves Conan)
Get along with you! We have no more time for you and your boastful prattlings!

Conan recovers from the shove and deals the slaver a powerful cuff to the head that knocks him from his chair and sends him rolling along the floor. As the slaver picks himself up, Conan growls at him:

CONAN
Just because you’re a “civilized”man, think you that you can mock me and manhandle me with impunity?

SLAVER
Barbarian cur! You’ll pay for that! I’ll flay you alive!

The slaver quickly unfastens the towel he wears baldric-like over one shoulder and brandishes it, snapping it viciously. He advances on Conan and launches a lethal towel-snap. Conan evades the towel as he rips his own towel from around his waist, but blunders into the table bearing the single lantern, knocking it over. In the confusion of semi-darkness and spreading flames, sight of the combatants is lost, but there is a sudden fusillade of whip-cracking towel-snaps of incredible speed and power, followed by a howl of agony.

When the flames have finally been extinguished, and light restored, the youth is gone. But the slaver is curled in a fetal position under a table, moaning and blubbering. His clothing is torn, and his face and body are covered with ugly red welts.

SLAVER
(Whining piteously)
Owwwwwww! Ohhhhhh! It hurts! It stings! It BURNS!

The crowd clusters around him, amazed and horrified.

THE CROWD
What happened to him?
I never saw anything like that before.
Why is he still carrying on like that? The pain should be fading by now.
(A gasp of surprise)
Look! There are salt crystals imbedded in the welts!
What does that mean?

At mention of the salt crystals, a fat, painted old pimp of indeterminate gender begins giggling and laughing crazily. The crowd turns toward the pimp.

RANDOM THUG
What are you laughing at, you old, uh, er, whatever?

PIMP
Hee, hee, hee, salt in the wounds, salt in the wounds!

As the crowd recoils in revulsion, the pimp suddenly stops laughing and leans forward, glaring from under shaggy, painted brows.

PIMP
(In a harsh whisper)
It is said that – THE TOWEL OF ATLANTIS – leaves salt in the wounds it creates!

FADE OUT.

ACT 2

CUT TO:

EXT. ZAMORA — ARENJUN — THE STREET OUTSIDE THE TAVERN — NIGHT

Conan bursts out of the tavern onto the street. Ignoring the commotion behind him, he quickly looks both ways, picks a direction, then starts trotting down the muddy street with the determined air of someone who knows exactly what he is leaving behind him. He disappears off the edge of the screen.

Moments go by, and the tavern quiets down a bit. Another man exits the tavern at a more sedate pace, somewhat stealthily. He is an Aesir, a gigantic blond warrior fully as big as Conan himself. He wears a leather loincloth, and a leather body harness which supports the only armor he is wearing: a set of large leather pauldrons on his massive shoulders.

SAVANN
(Musing to himself)
So, Conan of Cimmeria has come to Arenjun. He never saw me sitting in the back corner. And if I know him, the fool doesn’t even know he’s carrying the Towel of Atlantis. I’d love to bilk him out of it! He can have the Towel of the Elephant. None of that exotic stuff for me. The Towel of Atlantis is a fighting towel! I deserve to have it!
(He studies the muddy street.)
Hmmmm. Sandal prints. Big feet, heavy prints. He went that way.

Savann walks down the street in the same direction as Conan, following Conan’s tracks.

CUT TO:

EXT. ZAMORA — ARENJUN — THE AVENUE OF THE TEMPLES — NIGHT

Conan is walking down a broad avenue lined with temples glittering white in the starlight – snowy marble pillers and golden domes and silver arches. Overtopping all of them is a tower rising at the end of the avenue: a round, slim, perfect cylinder, 150 feet tall, gleaming silvery in the starlight, the rim at the top glittering with huge jewels. No windows are visible. It is surrounded by a low outer wall, behind which the tops of exotic trees can be seen. Conan takes off his sandals, ties them together, hangs them around his neck, and darts quickly to the wall, and presses himself to it, listening. A rhythmic, metallic jingling sound is heard, then dies away: the sound of a single armored man marching past Conan’s listening post.

CUT TO:
EXT. ZAMORA — THE OUTER GARDEN OF YAHOO’S TOWER — NIGHT.
A strip of trimmed lawn and low shrubs between the outer wall and an inner wall. An armored soldier marches, jingling, past the camera viewpoint.

CUT TO:
EXT. ZAMORA — THE STREET OUTSIDE YAHOO’S TOWER — NIGHT.
Conan waits a few minutes after the sound goes away, then jumps, getting both hands on the top of the wall; continuing the motion fluidly, he heaves himself to the top of the wall, where he lies flat and surveys the outer gardens: mostly trimmed lawn and low shrubs: poor cover; then an inner wall, taller than the outer.

Conan drops down inside the wall, landing silently in a flexible crouch. He draws his towel and lets it dangle loosely between his hands. He crouch-runs silently to the inner wall. Almost at the inner wall, he discovers a body: the body of the soldier we saw before, dead. Abrasions on his neck indicate he died by strangling. Conan stands over the body, looking around nervously. Suddenly his head jerks erect and his body freezes, motionless; he looks around in all directions, hyper-alert. His attention settles on a group of trees and shrubs. He glides silently towards the shrubbery, then freezes again before entering it. He starts to move into the shrubbery, just as another man jumps out, towel held in both hands, in the Summer Morning position. He is a large, muscular man gone to fat, wearing trousers and a leather vest over a bare chest and belly. Conan jumps straight up in the air in startlement. Both men scream in surprise.

CONAN
AAAAAHHHH!!!

STRANGER
AAAAAHHHH!!!

Both men jump backwards. Conan shifts his towel to the Sweet Death position. The stranger in turn maneuvers his towel into the Hungry Hedgehog position, while assuming the Desert Peony stance. Conan assumes the Skunk Cabbage stance, shifting his towel into the Inverted Flamingo guard, followed by the Whirling Towel of Dismemberment Kata.

STRANGER
(whispering)
Wait a minute! You’re no soldier – you’re a thief, just like me!

CONAN

(Also Whispering)
So, who ARE you?

STRANGER
Torus of Nemedia.

CONAN
I’ve heard of you. Men call you the Prince of Thieves.

TORUS
And who are you?

CONAN
I am Conan, a Cimmerian.

Both men relax and lower their towels.

CONAN
I came here seeking Yahoo’s Towel, the one men call the Towel of the Elephant.

TORUS
Hah! I had thought that I was the only thief daring enough to make that heist. Conan, I like your style; let’s cooperate. This attempt is risky enough to require our pooled talents.

CONAN
You’re on!

The two big men shake hands.

TORUS
Come. We still have to get through the inner garden, with its sentinels.

They proceed to the inner wall, where each leaps up, catches the top of the wall with his hands, and heaves himself to the top.

CUT TO:

EXT. THE AVENUE OF THE TEMPLES — THE STREET OUTSIDE THE TOWER OF YAHOO — NIGHT

Savann is still tracking Conan, but it is slower going now on the paved avenue. But he has followed muddy sandal-prints all the way to Yahoo’s Tower. He stops at the outer wall, and looks up in awe at the silvery tower gleaming in the moonlight.

SAVANN
(Whispering to himself)
By Ymir’s frost-bitten toenails! He’s really going to try it! Well, I’ll just stay out here where it’s safe. And if he succeeds, maybe I can steal both Towels from him. On the other hand, if Yahoo kills him, maybe I can make a deal with the wizard for the Towel of Atlantis – it’s no use to him. Maybe I could sell my soul to him. It would only be the sixth or seventh time – surely there’s still a little bit left.

FADE OUT.

ACT 3

FADE IN.

EXT. ARENJUN — THE TOP OF THE INNER WALL OUTSIDE YAHOO’S TOWER — NIGHT.

Conan and Torus are lying on top of the inner wall, surveying the inner garden. It is dark and shadowy, with shrubs and exotic trees barely visible. Conan sniffs the air and scowls. Torus notices this.

TORUS
Follow me. But stay behind me if you value your life.

Torus drops down into the inner garden, followed by Conan. Torus motions for Conan to stop and wait. They both stand immobile, watching the shrubbery by the Tower wall. Gradually, two glowing eyes become visible among the shrubs, then more pairs of eyes appear.

CONAN
(Whispering)
Lions!

TORUS
Yes. By day they are kept in subterranean caverns beneath the Tower. That’s why there are no guards in the inner garden.

CONAN
They’ll charge in a moment…

TORUS
Silence.

Torus fishes into a capacious pouch and pulls out half a dozen donuts. He tosses them toward the glowing eyes. Five lions slink out from the shrubbery and devour the donuts. One of the lions eats two. Immediately the lions open their mouths to roar, but no sound comes out. The lions begin wheezing and staggering in circles, then collapse. They twitch for a moment, then lie still.

CONAN
They died without a sound! Torus, what was in those donuts?

TORUS
(Whispering dramatically)
Death! Those donuts were glazed with the nectar of the Black Lotus, whose blossoms wave in the lost jungles of Khitai, where only the yellow-skulled priests of Yun dwell. Those blossoms strike dead any who smell of them. Obtaining the nectar was a feat which in itself was enough to make me famous among the thieves of the world. I stole it out of a caravan bound for Stygia, and I lifted it, in its golden vial, out of the coils of the great serpent which guarded it, without waking him. But come; let’s not waste the whole night in discussion.

They glide toward the Tower. Torus pulls a slim rope from around his waist; at one end it is fastened to a padded grappling hook. He whirls the hook, then with a mighty heave, throws it to the top of the tower. It soars up 150 feet, passes over the edge and disappears; a soft thud is heard. The rope does not fall down again.

TORUS
Made it on the first throw. What luck. I –

CONAN
Torus!


Torus whips around to see what Conan is looking at. It is a lion, charging full speed across the lawn at them.

TORUS
Damn! I’m out of donuts!

Conan steps in front of Torus, whips out his towel, and begins whirling it. Just as the lion is about to leap, Conan, with a mighty snap, strikes the lion exactly on the tip of its nose. With a squeal of pain, the lion turns tail and flees.
TORUS
(Amazed)
By the sticky fingers of Bel, god of thieves, never have I seen such a strike! But come, let’s be up this rope before he recovers his courage and returns! No need to ask a Cimmerian if he can climb.

Torus tugs on the rope to test the firmness of the grappling hook’s lodging, then begins walking up the Tower wall as he hand-over-hands his way up the rope. Conan follows him easily.

CUT TO:

EXT. THE AVENUE OF THE TEMPLES — THE STREET OUTSIDE THE TOWER OF YAHOO — NIGHT

Savann, watching the Tower, sees Conan and Torus climbing up the Tower.

SAVANN
What? There’s two of them! Conan has found an ally. If they both survive and escape, that could make it difficult for me to heist the Towel of Atlantis from Conan. Well, I’ll just have to drive a wedge between the two of them. If I can make Conan distrust his new friend, then he’ll be more likely to trust me.

FADE OUT.

ACT 4

CUT TO:

EXT – ARENJUN – THE TOP OF YAHOO’S TOWER – NIGHT.

The top of the Tower is a flat roof of dark blue set with flecks of gold, surrounded by a raised wall a few feet high, which slightly overhangs the sides of the Tower. The rim of the raised wall is set with huge gems – diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, turquoises, moonstones, all set in gleaming silver and glittering in the starlight. In the center of the roof is a small chamber, made of silver and adorned with designs worked in small gems. A single door is made of gold cut in a scale pattern and crusted with gleaming jewels. The lights of Arenjun glitter like jewels themselves all around below the Towertop, the tarnished tawdriness of their setting lost in darkness. At the edge of the roof we see the grappling hook caught under one of the large jewels, the taut rope disappearing over the top of the wall.

A hand appears over the rim of the wall, and grips the rim. A moment later Torus’s head heaves into view, then his shoulders and his other hand. He climbs over the wall, then turns and helps Conan over. They stand still for a moment, stunned by the profusion of mineral wealth.

CONAN
There is a fabulous fortune here, Torus.

TORUS
Come on! If we secure the Towel of the Elephant, these and all else will be ours!
(He looks at the grappling hook.)
Luck was with us again. One would think that our combined weight would have torn that stone out. Follow me; the real risks of the venture begin now. We are in the serpent’s lair, and we know not where he lies hidden.


The two men slink towards the golden door, towels drawn and at the ready. They stop at the door, and Conan watches as Torus carefully opens the door. An interior glow emanates from the crack of the partially opened door. Torus peeks through the crack, then looks back at Conan.

TORUS
Before we cut off our last retreat, go you to the rim and look over on all sides; if you see any soldiers moving in the gardens, or anything suspicious, return and tell me. I will await you within this chamber.

As Conan goes to rim, Torus slips inside the door and closes it after him. Conan carefully makes a complete circuit of the rim, carefully staying out of line of sight with anyone who might be in the gardens and looking up. He returns to the starting point shaking his head.

CONAN
Nothing, not even that one lion. Why would Torus have sent me away?

He starts toward the chamber

TORUS (O.S.)
AAAAARRRRGGGGH!

Conan leaps for the door, but it opens before he gets there. Torus stands swaying in the doorway, a horrible expression of pain and surprise on his face. He opens his mouth, but only makes a dry croaking sound. He catches at the door for support, and lurches out onto the roof, then, clutching at his throat, he falls headlong.

Conan looks in the door, but sees nothing but jewel-encrusted walls. As the door swings shut, there is a brief suggestion of a moving shadow inside. Conan bends over Torus. Torus’face is swollen and purplish-gray in color.

TORUS
(in a weak, croking voice)
Farewell, lad, I’ve tossed my last donut.
(his hands claw at his throat, he gurgles and slobbers, then stiffens and dies.)

CONAN
(Whispering to himself)
What in Crom’s name killed him?

Conan runs his hands over the body, searching for a wound. All he finds is, near the base of the neck, between the shoulders, two small puncture wounds, blackened around the edges.

Conan straightens up, and cautiously, one step at a time, he steals toward the door. Towel dangling loosely in one hand, he opens the door and steps inside. Besides the jewel-encrusted walls, there is an eight-sided design in black in the center of the ceiling, with four small red gems glinting near the center. The rooom is furnished with three or four terry-cloth couches embroidered with gold in serpentine designs, and several silver-bound wooden chests, some locked shut, and some left open to reveal piles of luxurient, brightly colored towels.

As Conan gazes in awe on these treasures, he sees a shadow swoop across the floor. He instantly makes a great leap sideways, as a huge black spider swings through the space he had been occupying. A drop of poison from its fangs splashes on his bare shoulder. The drop of liquid bubbles momentarily, emitting a wisp of steam with a hissing noise. Conan himself hisses with pain through clenched teeth. He springs backwards, towel held in both hands now, as the pig-sized spider hits the floor and scuttles towards him. As it rushes him, he leaps high over it. It wheels and charges him again. He springs sideways, and snaps his towel at it as it passes, knocking one of its legs off. Not in the least inconvenienced by the loss of one eighth of its motive power, it scuttles over to a wall and quickly climbs to the ceiling, where it momentarily occupies the center, in which it had previously resembled an eight-sided design. It leaps for Conan again, this time trailing a sticky strand of spider-silk. Conan evades the leap, then has to duck frantically to escape the sticky trailing strand. He turns toward the door, but before he can reach it, the spider runs across the door, webbing it shut.

Now the spider begins running and leaping all around the room, laying sticky sticky lines of spidersilk as it goes, converting the chamber into a giant Conan-trap. Conan must avoid the spider, but he must also avoid being snared by the sticky strands, lest he become helplessly immobilized. He makes some abortive attacks with his towel, but can’t follow through for fear of entangling his only weapon in the sticky silk. Finally, the spider succeeds in wrapping a strand around Conan’s ankle. As the spider rushes toward the apparently helpless Cimmerian, Conan risks all on one last, desperate towel-snap. The whip-cracking tip of the towel catches the spider square in the center of its body, and it explodes with a sickening “sploit!”, spraying disgusting black goo in all directions.

Conan stands, panting for a minute, looking around suspiciously for more monsters. But nothing else makes an appearance, and he spends the next several minutes freeing his ankle from the sticky strand; next, he goes to the inner door and strips the strands from it. He opens the door, revealing a spiral flight of silver stairs going down. Conan starts down the stairs.

FADE OUT.

CHAPTER 5

FADE IN.
INT. ARENJUN — YAHOO’S TOWER — AN INTERIOR SPIRAL STAIRCASE — NIGHT.

Conan is proceeding silently down the silvery staircase; he is gripping his stained and encrusted towel gingerly. The staircase is dimly lit, from no obvious light source. After a full turn of the spiral, he finds an ivory door, set with bloodstones. Wisps of incense drift up from underneath the door. Conan presses cautiously against the door, and it swings silently open. Conan stands at the threshold, ready to fight or flee. He sees a large chamber with a golden-domed ceiling, walls of green jade, and an ivory floor partly covered with thick rugs. The incense smoke is coming from a brazier on a golden tripod in the middle of the room. Behind it, on a marble couch, sits an idol in the form of a man’s body with the head of an elephant, all green. The white tusks are tipped with golden balls; the eyes are closed as if in sleep.
Conan steals closer, when the eyes of the idol suddenly open. It is not a stone statue after all, it is alive. Conan freezes in horror. The monster takes a breath, and its trunk begins questing in the air. From the way it moves, and stares fixedly as it turns its head, it is apparent that the thing is blind. When Conan realizes this, he begins to back silently backwards toward the door. The trunk stretches towards him, and Conan freezes again when the thing speaks in a weird, inhuman voice.

YABBA DABBA BABBAR
Who is here? Have you come to torture me again, Yahoo? Will you never be done? Oh, Yabba Dabba Babbar, is there no end to agony?

Tears roll from its sightless eyes, and a closer inspection of the creature reveals broken limbs, and skin bearing the marks of fire, and the rack. As Conan takes this in, the expression on his face changes from horror to pity.

CONAN
(Voice soft and gentle)
I am not Yahoo. I am only a thief. I will not harm you.

YABBA DABBA BABBAR
Come near that I may touch you.

Conan steps close to the creature, his towel hanging forgotten from his hand. It runs its trunk over his face and shoulders.

YABBA DABBA BABBAR
No, you are not Yahoo, nor of the Zamoran race. The clean, lean fierceness of the northern wastelands marks you. I know, I smell. And you carry a towel of great power.

CONAN
(Clutching his towel possessively)
This was my father’s towel! And I haven’t washed it since the day he gave it to me!

YABBA DABBA BABBAR
(Sniffing with its trunk)
I can tell. I know, I smell. It is the Towel of Atlantis.

CONAN
(Amazed, disbelieving)
How could you know that?

YABBA DABBA BABBAR
I may be blind and crippled, but I’m not stupid! The breath of the Sea wafts itself to me through the bloodstains and the ruststains and the sweatstains and the lion snot and the spider goo. To the magic in that towel I can add my own magic, and avenge myself on Yahoo at last! Listen, Man, I know I look monstrous to you! And you would look as strange to me, if I could see you. There are many worlds beyond this earth, and life takes many shapes. I am neither god nor demon, but flesh and blood like yourself, though the form be cast in a different mold. I am very old, O Man of the wastelands. Long ago I came to this world from the green planet Barbidol, which circles forever in the outer fringe of this universe. We swept through space on mighty wings which drove us through the Cosmos quicker than light, because we had warred with the kings of Barbidol and were defeated and cast out. But we could never return, for on earth our wings shrunk to uselessness. Here we abode apart from earthly light, and watched man grow from the ape, and build the first cities. We saw the oceans rise and engulf Atlantis and Lemuria, and the isles of the Picts, and the shining cities of civilization. We watched the survivors of Pictdom and Atlantis build their stone-age empires and go down to bloody ruin. We saw new savages drift southward in conquering waves from the Arctic Circle to build a new civilization, with new kingdoms called Nemedia, and Koth, and Aquilonia, and their sisters. We saw your people, O Man, rise under a new name from the abysmal savages that had been Atlanteans. We saw the descendants of the Lemurians, who had survived the cataclysm, rise through savagery and ride Westward, as Hykanians. And we saw this race of devils, survivors of the ancient civilization that was before Atlantis sunk, come once more into culture and power — this accursed kingdom of Zamora! All this we saw, and one by one we died, for we of Barbidol are not immortal, though our lives are as the lives of stars and constellations. At last I alone was left, worshipped as a god by an ancient race among the ruined temples of jungle-lost Khitai. Then came Yahoo, versed in dark knowlege handed down through the days of barbarism, since before Atlantis sank. First he sat at my feet and learned wisdom. But he was not satisfied with what I taught him, for it was white magic, and he wished evil lore. I would teach him none of the black secrets I had accidentally gained through the eons. But his magic was deeper than I had guessed; with guile gotten among the dusky tombs of dark Stygia, he tricked me, and trapped me, and enslaved me! Ah, gods of Barbidol, my cup has been bitter since that hour!
(Tears run down from the creatures ruined eyes.)
He brought me here from the lost jungles of Khitai. No longer was I a god to kindly junglefolk — I was slave to a devil in human form. He pent me in this tower, which at his command I built in a single night. By fire and rack and strange unearthly tortures he mastered me. In agony I would long ago have taken my own life, if I could. But he kept me alive, mangled, blinded, and broken, to do his foul bidding. And for 300 years I have done his bidding from this marble couch. Yet not all my secrets has he wrested from me, and my last gift shall be the sorcery of the Blood and the Towel. For the end of my time draws near. You are the hand of Fate. I beg of you, take your towel from around your waist.

Conan unwraps his towel and holds it out towards Yabba Dabba Babbar.

YABBA DABBA BABBAR (cont’d.)
(In a rising crescendo)
Now for the great magic, the mighty magic, such as earth has not seen before. By my life-blood I conjure it, by blood born on the green breast of Barbidol, dreaming far-poised in the great, black vastness of Space. O Man, on the wall behind me hangs a knife, that Yahoo used to torture me. Take that knife and cut out my heart, then wrap it in your Towel, and squeeze it. Then go you down these stairs and enter the ebony chamber where Yahoo sits wrapped in lotus dreams of evil. Speak his name and he will awaken. Then say, “Yabba Dabba Babbar gives you a last gift and a last enchantment”and toss the towel at him.

CONAN
(Frowning in concentration as he tries to repeat the message)
Yabba Dabba Blabba… uh… Yabla Dlabla… uh… Yabba Blabba Bla Bla…

YABBA DABBA BABBAR
(Wrapping his ears forward so they plaster themselves around the front of his head.
Stop! Cease! Desist!
(He relaxes as Conan falls silent.)
Fear not. You will be able to pronounce my name when the time comes. Then get you from this Tower quickly; the way will be made clear. The life of a man is not the life of Barbidol, nor is human death the death of Barbidol.
(Rises toward a crescendo)
Let me be free of this cage of broken, blind flesh, and I will once more be Yabba Dabba Dumbo of Barbidol, with wings to fly, and feet to dance, and eyes to see…
(sinks to an almost subsonic growl)
… and hands to break!

Conan goes to the wall and takes down a large knife from a bracket. He approaches Yabba Dabba Babbar uncertainly, and the latter uses his trunk to indicate a spot on his chest. Conan grits his teeth and strikes quick and deep. Yabba Dabba Babbar convulses, then goes limp.

CUT TO:
CLOSE-UP OF CONAN’S HEAD AND SHOULDERS AND UPPER ARMS, AS HE CARVES YABBA DABBA BABBAR’S OFF-SCREEN BODY.
He squints his eyes as blood spurts up into his face.

CUT TO:
FULL SHOT OF CONAN BACKING AWAY FROM THE BODY WITH THE STILL-BEATING HEART IN HIS HAND.

Conan wraps the bloody heart in his towel and squeezes it. Blood soaks the towel with an expanding red stain. As the edge of the red stain approaches the edge of the towel, an area in the center of the towel grows white. The white area, in turn, spreads to the outer edges of the towel, until the entire towel is pure white. Conan gazes in amazement at the fluffy, snowy-white towel.

CONAN
Crom’s knobby knees, it’s Whiter than White!
(He presses his face into the towel and takes a deep breath, then lowers the towel.)
And it smells good, too – so clean and fresh!

He opens the crumpled towel and examines the reverse side: there is now a picture of Walt Disney’s Dumbo the Elephant embroidered in green thread. He turns and exits the room by the same door through which he entered, and resumes his descent of the silvery steps.

FADE OUT.

CHAPTER 6

FADE IN.
INT. ARENJUN — YAHOO’S TOWER — AN INTERIOR SPIRAL STAIRCASE — NIGHT.

Conan is exiting from Yabba Dabba Babbar’s chamber. Behind him we catch a glimpse of the creature’s body – it seems to be involved in some kind of movement – not so much as if it were actually moving, but rather as if it were morphing, but Conan closes the door before we can get a good look.

Conan continues down the steps, until he comes to an ebony door. He pushes the door open and looks into a chamber of ebony and jet, lit by the flames of tall black candles. Yahoo the sorceror, a tall, spare man, lies on a black silken couch, apparently in a trance, inhaling yellow fumes from a nearby incense brazier.

Conan steps into the room.

CONAN
(In a dramatic voice)
Yahoo! Awaken!

Yahoo returns to alertness instantly. He springs erect, towering even over Conan, his expression cold and cruel.

YAHOO
(His voice is a menacing snakelike hiss)
Dog! What do you here?
(He seems arrogantly confident, not the least bit fearful at having been surprised by a large, armed barbarian warrior.)

CONAN
(Displaying the Towel)
He who sent this Towel bade me say “Yabba Dabba Babbar gives a last gift and a last enchantment.”
(His delivery is perfect and portentious. Then he does a double-take as he realizes that he didn’t stumble over the alien name.)

Yahoo recoils, but Conan tosses the Towel at him. As it flies through the air, it expands to the size of a beach towel. It seems to fly through the air under its own power, expanding until, by the time it settles over Yahoo’s form, it is as big as a tablecloth. Yahoo screams, and the Towel heaves and flutters in response to the struggles of the form trapped within its folds. But the struggles are futile. The solid form trapped beneath the Towel seems to shrink, becoming shorter and smaller. Yahoo’s screams become high, thin, and tinny. Finally the Towel, reduced to its original size, settles flatly to the floor, as if there was nothing under it at all, no lumps, no screams. Conan watches this process, frozen in his tracks. Then, his face a mask of trepidation, he steps tensely to the towel, stoops, and picks it up by an edge. He holds it up, looking now at the underside, where Dumbo had been embroidered.

CUT TO:
CLOSE-UP OF THE TOWEL, HELD IN CONAN’S HANDS.

Walt Disney’s Dumbo is not in evidence. Instead, the underside of the Towel seems transparent, like a glass window. On the other side of the window is, not the rest of the room, but another world. Yahoo stands in that other world, looking around bewilderedly. Then into the Towel comes another figure, green, shining, with the body of a man, no longer crippled, and the head of an elephant, no longer blind. The ears of the elephant’s head have expanded into vast pinions, bearing the figure through what passes for air in that other world. It flies straight for Yahoo, who throws up his arms and flees in a stumbling, desperate, hopeless run.

CUT TO:
FULL SHOT OF CONAN, STARING AT THE TOWEL.
He suddenly averts his eyes from the towel, then throws it to the floor. He turns and flees from the chamber, down the silver stairs. As he runs down the winding stairs, the Tower begins to emit groaning and rumbling noises, and dust sifts down from above. As the stairs and walls begin to vibrate, he reaches the foot of the stairs and bursts into a large chamber with jewel-encrusted walls. The chamber is full of soldiers in silver armor, armed with fine towels ornamented in patterns of gold and black, and he freezes momentarily, ready for a fight. A closer look shows that the soldiers are sprawled in chairs, across a table, and on the floor. Their eyes are open and staring glassily at nothing; they are dead. Meanwhile the walls and ceiling are beginning to shake more violently. Chunks of masonry begin to join the dust falling down from the ceiling.

CUT TO:

EXT. THE AVENUE OF THE TEMPLES — THE STREET OUTSIDE THE TOWER OF YAHOO — NIGHT
Savann is still loitering outside the Tower. He takes notice as the tower begins to groan and rumble and shake.

SAVANN
Oh-oh! I know what that means. Conan and his buddy must have killed Yahoo. So I need a plan for bilking Conan out of one or both of the magic Towels. Of course, Conan may have been killed as well. In that case I’ll have to search the Tower for treasure.
(Disgustedly)
Yeah, right! Me and a couple of hundred other thieves.
But wait! What wight from yonder tower breaks?

As the Tower collapses with a roar, Conan comes pelting Hell-for-leather out of the crumbling pile.

CUT TO:
CLOSE-UP OF CONAN, HIS TEETH CLENCHED WITH EFFORT, SPRINTING AT FULL CONAN SPEED OUT OF THE TOWER AS IT COLLAPSES BEHIND HIM.
CUT TO:
SAVANN AT THE OUTER WALL.

SAVANN
(Grinning)
Yesss!

He yanks off his towel and hurriedly conceals it in some shrubs. Then he waves at Conan to attract his attention.

SAVANN
(Yelling)
Conan! Over here!

Conan spots Savann and changes direction towards him. When he reaches the relatively low outer wall, he jumps to get his hands on the top, and vaults over it in one smooth, continuous motion.

CONAN
(Panting a little)
Savann! What are you doing here?

SAVANN
They told me at the tavern that you were talking about robbing Yahoo, so I tried to catch up with you in case you needed some help.
(He gestures at his bare waist, naked of towel.)
Somehow, I lost my towel as I was hurrying here. I don’t suppose you…
(He notices that Conan has no towel.)
You don’t have a towel either!

CONAN
(Gestures back over his shoulder)
I left mine back there with Yahoo… or maybe Yahoo is with it…


CUT TO:
CLOSE-UP OF SAVANN’S FACE AS HE LOOKS AT THE RUINS OF THE TOWER.

CUT TO:
THE RUINS.
The Tower has by no means finished self-destructing. Random explosions of multi-colored smoke and random bursts of multi-colored lightning bolts are still erupting from the ruins. Every once in a while an explosion sends a chunk of masonry soaring into the air, only to fall back and shatter into shrapnel.

CUT TO:
CLOSE-UP OF SAVANN’S FACE AS HE CONTEMPLATES SEARCHING THE RUINS FOR TREASURE: FAT CHANCE!

CUT TO:
FULL SHOT OF CONAN AND SAVANN.

SAVANN
(Sincerely disappointed)
So neither one of us has a towel. That could be dangerous.
(He glances at the shrub where he concealed his own towel, and begins sidling in that direction.)

CONAN
Did I say I didn’t have ANY towels?

Conan reaches into a pouch and pulls out a fine towel ornamented in a gold and black pattern. Several huge, sparkling gems that had been trapped in folds of the towel pop out and fall to the ground.

CONAN
Oops!
(He thrusts the towel at Savann, practically in his face.)
Here.

As Savann takes the towel from Conan, Conan squats and rapidly scoops up the gems and returns them to his pouch. As he stands up, he pulls another gold and black towel out of the pouch. Grinning at the still blinking Savann, towel swinging negligantly in his right hand, he drapes his left arm over Savann’s shoulders.

CONAN
I didn’t get the Big One, but I got enough of this little stuff to pay for a couple of weeks’worth of carousing in a better class of tavern.
(He starts walking in the direction of the “entertainment district”, forcing Savann to accompany him.)

As Conan, Savann, and the sound of Conan’s voice fade in the distance
CONAN
We can reminisce about killing Vanirmen. The drinks are on me, but you’ll have to get your own girls…

FADE OUT.

THE END

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

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