|Conan the Barbarian Annual #10|
- Baron Shamir (First and only appearance to date).
- Baroness Numballa (First and only appearance to date).
- unnamed Jester (First and only appearance to date).
- Redondo (First chronological appearance; next appearance in CB-176).
- General Hakim (First and only appearance to date).
- Seka (First and only appearance to date).
- Province of Ahlmet
- Two days
Two years ago, at the dual celebration of the sixty-ish Shamir's 29 years as baron of Ahlmet and his wife Numballa's 22nd birthday (a fact that doesn't go unnoticed by either the Baroness's repulsed friends and the Baron's jealous ones), the court jester snaps at one too many insults from the Baroness and insults her, causing her to have him taken away by the guards to have his tongue cut out. They take him to the dungeons and do so, and he survives to crawl into a treasure room where he finds a clay tablet inscribed with runes... In the present day, the soldier Redondo tries to impress the shield maiden Seka as he explains to her how, for two years now, Shamir has neglected the tribute to King Yildiz and has retreated behind his castle walls. Redonodo is called to a conference General Hakim and when Redondo balks, Conan, now a mercenary in the Turanian army, kicks Redondo into the tent. He turns his attentions to Seka, and makes plans to meet with her that night while also warning her to stay away from Redonodo. At the war council, Hakim reveals the king has demanded the castle be taken by sunrise, so he has come up with a plan- several of the men will attempt to scale the back wall while the bulk of the army attacks the front gates. Redondo thinks the plan is crazy, but later that evening finds himself with Conan throwing ropes up the wall. The party ascends as Hakim sends battering rams at the gates, but they are spotted by the mute jester, who Conan has seen on the ramparts before. The jester takes an ax and cuts one of the ropes, and the sound alerts the remaining guards to the invasion. They fire arrows down but four men manage to make it over the wall and take out the guards. The jester runs and Redondo chases him, literally bumping into an officer and quickly slaying and beheading him. Redondo takes the uniform and makes his way freely through the castle until he finds Shamit sitting catatonic on his throne, not moving or even speaking. Redondo hides when he hears approaching footsteps, and he overhears soldiers inform the king of the breach of their walls. The king suddenly becomes animated and orders the soldiers to find the interlopers in his castle, but when the soldiers leave he returns to a catatonic state. Redondo catches a glimpse of someone slipping away behind a curtain and he follows. Meanwhile, Conan has made his way to the dungeon, leaving a trail of bodies behind him, and opens a door to a group of men he assumes are political enemies of Shamir. He offers to free them in return for service, but they have no interest in being arrow fodder, except from the back, Numballa emerges begging Conan to take her with him. Shamir is under a spell, she claims, but Conan has no interest in her stories or assistance. Suddenly, the door slams shut and the jester appears at the barred window. Conan is not imprisoned for long, as Redondo appears and rescues him. Conan is upset that Redondo disobeyed orders, but is stopped when a tentacle bursts through the ground and pulls Redondo under. The prisoners race for the door as Conan takes Numballa deeper into the dungeons where she says the jester was originally imprisoned. Conan surmises the jester found some eldritch power which allowed him to take over the castle. They find the treasure, and the jester floating in the air. Conan leaps towards him but finds the ground beneath him insubstantial as he plummets into a lake in a cavern where Redondo is busy drying off. Numballa hurls a torch at the jester, distracting him, and he flees again with Numballa chasing him. Down below, Redonodo points out that the lake they fell in seems to be a gigantic eye, with the iris floating in the center. Conan swims out to the eye and prepares to stab it. Outside, Hakim begins to believe his plan has failed when the dissidents throw open the doors from the inside monstrous tentacles burst from the castle. Conan is flung away and barely grasps a castle turret while Redondo squirms free back in the treasure room.
- The Chronicles of Conan 23 - Well of Souls and Other Stories
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