|Conan the Barbarian #253|
|Title:||The Pit and the Parasite|
- Conan (previous appearance in CB-252; next appearance CB-255)
- Kulan Gath (previous appearance in CB-15; next appearance CB-256) resurrected sorcerer, "vizier" controlling of Zahmann after bewitching the Queen and her consort
- Hobb (previous appearance in CB-252; next appearance CB-255) Conan's companion, a Corinthian adventurer
- Queen Yaila (previous appearance in CB-250; possibly last appearance) ruler of Zahmann
- Lord Godrik (previous appearance in CB-250; possibly last appearance) Yaila's consort
- Imojen (first and final appearance) leader of the Kothian rebels searching for prince Borrin
- Talan (first and final appearance) a Kothian rebel
- Decoy of Prince Borrin (first appearance; mercy killed by Conan) a prisoner who was made to believe that he was Prince Borrin of Koth (see CB-266)
- Zahmann (previous appearance in CB-250; also called Zahmahn) an independent fortress city-state on the main pass between Koth and Corinthia
- A few days
Conan and Hobb enter Zahmann, requesting an audience with Queen Yaila and Lord Godrik, despite Hobb's previous "little jest" played on Conan and the royal couple which led to them almost killing each other.
They are taken to the palace, but find the Queen and her consort in a trance. A sorcerer flies into the throne room claiming to be Kulan Gath, who Conan had seen killed ten years before, and after arguing about it, Conan refuses to swear to kill Vammatar, so Gath orders the guard to throw him and Hobb into the Pit, on the authority of Queen Yaila as her "vizier". Hobb escapes, falling out the palace window, and Conan is eventually overpowered, almost killed by the guards only for Gath to intervene, saying he is more useful alive than dead and repeating his order to send him to the Pit.
Hobb is woken elsewhere by Kothian rebels, led by Imojen, looking for their prince who was brought to Zahmann by Kulan Gath for opposing King Strabonus. They saw Hobb "fight his way out" of the palace and propose to mount a joint rescue of Conan and the prince.
Conan finds himself in the bowels of a dungeon, with his hands and feet in pulpy apertures in the walls and floor. After struggling to free himself he notices that the blood on his arms from the fight has gone, and realises that the dungeon itself must be a living organism that feeds on it. He cries out to Kulan Gath to free him, and another voice in the dungeon answers him, claiming to be Prince Borrin of Koth, who says there's no escape.
Hobb and the rebels enter the palace, killing the guards, and Gath awakens while Conan still struggles to free himself. The rebels enter the throne room in darkness, and suddenly the fires light; Kulan Gath was waiting for them and bewitches half the rebels to attack the others.
Meanwhile Conan manages to free one foot and kicks the floor to rupture it, releasing his blood and freeing his other foot as the aperture that held it tries to drink up the lost blood instead. Conan uses his free feet to propel himself from the wall, and goes to rescue the other prisoner, despite his protestations that it's too late for him. Conan tears him free but finds his arms and legs have been completely sucked dry, leaving only skeletal extremities, and on his request kills him by breaking his spine. Conan goes to leave the dungeon, but, finding his sword and boots, decides to take revenge on the living dungeon, hacking at it until it eventually recedes.
In the throne room Imojen is fighting Hobb when the palace shakes from the death of the living dungeon, and Conan appears, threatening to shed Gath's blood. As Gath starts to chant Conan leaps at him only to be swept out the way by the skeletal wing of an animated pterosaur skeleton, which Gath climbs onto and flies away, saying though Vammatar has left Hyperborea and his deal with King Strabonus is void, he is certain he will meet Conan again.
Conan gives the news that Borrin is dead to the rebels, but Imojen in unconvinced by his description of the prince, and believes the prisoner was just a decoy. The Queen and her consort appear, also free from their enchantment, and Lord Godrik orders the rebels to leave the city at once, but Queen Yaila notices Conan among them, who vouches for them, and introduces Hobb (much to his worry, in anticipation of retribution for playing a prank on them previously, as at the start of the story), but only mentions his part in the rebels attack on Kulan Gath (the royals had not seen Hobb in person). As they leave to prepare a banquet, Hobb is left in a dilemma whether or not to attend the feast and risk being identified by one of the royal servants.
|Previous Appearance: Conan the Barbarian 252||Conan the Barbarian #253||Next Appearance: Conan the Barbarian 255|
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Conan the Barbarian #254