Conan the Fearless is the first Conan novel written by Steve Perry, published in February 1986 by TOR books as a trade paperback with a cover by Kirk Reinert [top image]. The mass market edition was released in January 1987 with cover art by Boris Vallejo [bottom image].
Corinthia, North and West of Mornstadinos, in the secluded castle known as Slott, Sovartus of the Black Square summons the demon Djavul from Gehenna to do his bidding. Sovartus has abducted three children. He is searching for a fourth and binds Djavul to find the child for him. The Child of Fire.
At the Zamoran side of a pass through the Karpash Mountains to Corinthia, Conan rides a rich man's horse toward an inn.
Fresh from some thievery, his horse carries saddlebags filled with coins and he flips a gold one to the innkeeper for food, wine and a room with a locking door.
Early the next morning the Cimmerian kills three thieves who thought to surprise him while he slept. Wakened by the fight, the innkeeper and a merchant investigate.
Later, at breakfast, Logarno the merchant speaks with Conan. Learning the Cimmerian plans to take the northern fork of the pass, the merchant warns him that it is haunted. Conan scoffs at the warning and soon leaves on his journey.
Riding along a lake at the top of the pass, Conan's horse stops in its tracks and looks at the uniformly frozen water. Suddenly the surface of the lake starts to crack and heave in numerous places.
Completely white humanoids, shaped like apes, pour from under the ice. It soon becomes obvious that the creatures are either intelligent or guided by another's will, for instead of rushing toward Conan, the majority of the creatures rush to either side of his position, to block his escape.
With no other option, Conan vaults from his catatonic horse and charges the nearest of the creatures. Taking their measure, he manages to escape their trap, but his horse is not so fortunate. Unprotected, the unfortunate animal, and also Conan's supplies and his gold, is dragged down into the lake. Abandoning the doomed animal, Conan runs from the lake toward Corinthia.
After a day of running and then walking Conan reaches the foothills at the Corinthian mouth of the pass and glimpses the city of Mornstadinos, another day's travel ahead.
Closer to the city, Logarno stops by the roadside to magically speak with his mistress, Djuvula the Witch. He informs her that a man named Conan could be the physical specimen she has been searching for; an exceptional human heart capable of powering the flesh golem she is assembling; the heart of a truly brave man.
Unknown to Logarno or Djuvula, someone is eavesdropping on their conversation using a mechanical device called a storora. Lemparius, a politician holding a powerful position in the local government, seems mysteriously interested in the stranger, Conan. He is also revealed to be a were-panther.
Reaching Mornstadinos, Conan buys a loaf of hard black bread from an old lady and is directed to the Milk of Wolves Inn. The cheap wine he orders to wash the bread down takes the last of his money.
Sizing up the customers, he sees a group of thieves planning to rob an old man sitting with a early-teen-aged girl. The old man uses illusions to dissuade most of the thieves but when he baits the leader with a similar illusion, the man becomes enraged, throwing his winecup to the side and drawing steel to attack the pair.
As luck would have it, the winecup strikes Conan's loaf of bread, knocking it to the filthy floor. Conan kills the man before he can complete his attack on the girl and the old man.
Knowing that the city guard will not tolerate killing a man over a loaf of bread, the old man tells the innkeeper that Conan is their bodyguard; a position that Conan accepts, after some quiet discussion at their table.
Logarno, disguised as a priest, watches from the shadows.
Of a day, Conan is more grim than usual and Vitarius deftly draws him into a discussion of why. When Conan relates his confrontation with the ice-apes, Vitarius informs him that they are water spirits called undines and are rumoured to be under the control of an evil mage named Sovartus. Indeed, Sovartus is using those and other elemental spirits to isolate Mornstadinos. He is searching the city for someone or something and is trying to prevent them/it from escaping. Conan remarks that, mage or no, Sovartus owes him a horse, to which Vitarus counsels him to forgive the debt.
Cut to Logarno, dragged before Senator Lemparius, the latter of whom has arranged a demonstration for the former. Arming a condemned man and then setting him loose, Lemparius slays the man with ease. The Senator then tells Logarno that he knows of his mission for Djuvula and that, instead, he wants Logarno to bring Conan to him. Lemparius was once Djuvula's lover but was cast aside. Now that he is a were-panther, he wants another opportunity with Djuvula. He plans to use Conan, who Djuvula wants, as leverage to get such an opportunity. Caught between immediate death and only possible future death, Logarno agrees to be Lemparius' double agent.
Cut back to Conan watching over his employer during one of his "magic shows." Vitarius' finale involves a flash of bright light and a cloud of dense white smoke which thins to reveal a nine-foot, bright red skinned, huge-toothed demon. Eldia quietly but quickly tells Conan that Vitarius did not summon the creature. It is real!
The demon menaces Vitarius and demands to know where "she" is. Scanning the crowd, the demon turns and starts toward Eldia.
Conan confronts the demon and states his intention to protect her so the demon attacks him.
The battle is resolved by Vitarius who uses Eldia's elemental power to cast blue fire onto the Demon while it battles Conan. The demon flees, but not before Conan removes its hand. In the aftermath, Conan and Vitarius discover that Eldia has vanished.
The demon re-appears in the home of Djuvula, his half sister on his father's side, and asks the witch for aid in locating Eldia. Djuvula agrees in order to gain favor with Sovartus and because a man capable of taking her brother's hand would certainly be a truly brave man; her flesh golem still needs a heart.
Conan finds Eldia in the company of Eldia's older sister, come to rescue her from her abductors and take her home. Eldia vouches for Conan and the trio rejoin Vitarius for a more complete explanation, from the beginning, of what exactly is going on.
Vitarius explains that Eldia is one of a set of quadruplets born to her mother and Hogistum, a wizard of the Grey Square, in a successful attempt to link the power of the four elements to a human soul during conception. The children were separated at birth. Eldia stayed with her mother and the other three were sent into hiding. Kidnapped by agents of Sovartus, Eldia was saved by Vitarius of the White Square.
The other three children were not so lucky and are now in Sovartus' clutches.
Vitarius and Kinna resolve to free the other children and defeat Sovartus, but Conan declines on the grounds that he dislikes being lied to and likes sorcery even less. He accepts Vitarius' offer of his pay for the current day and a room for the night and retires, intending to continue his journey to Nemedia in the morning.
That night, Conan and Kinna are restless, both sensing something outside their respective shuttered windows. They meet in the hallway by coincidence and resolve to spend some quality time together in Conan's room, right after Conan checks outside the window of the room she shares with Vitarius and Eldia.
Unbeknownst to the troupe, using Luft's connection to the air element, Sovartus has conjured a tornado to collect her. Conan opens the shutters of Kinna's room to find the devil-wind tearing through the city toward the Milk of Wolves Inn.
Insisting that the tornado cannot turn quickly, Vitarius suggests they can survive if they manage to get behind it. As they flee the inn, Conan is attacked by thugs hired by Logarno to fulfill his commission for Lemparius. Dispatching the assailants, the small group flees the doomed inn. After a long torturous fight against the wind and flying debris, they manage to flank the tornado. Unable to turn around and follow, the wind dissipates.
Sovartus' Demon was following in the path of the tornado and, as the wind abates, spies Conan and the others as they navigate the aftermath of the storm. Instead of attacking however, he tells Vitarius his true name, threatens Conan and then disappears.
After taking stock of the day, Conan decides that Sovartus must die; he joins the group in their plan to defeat the mage. Destitute, except for what they managed to carry with them in their flight from the Inn, Conan decides to burgle the home of one of the wealthiest men in Mornstadinos to quickly obtain the wealth they need to outfit themselves for their assault on Sovartus' castle. His target: the home of Lemparius.
Meanwhile Logarno pulls his lone remaining kidnapper from the ruins of the Milk of Wolves Inn. With the promise of even more riches, the thug sets off once more to find and capture the barbarian.
Conan and his allies make their way to another Inn, The Smoking Cat, to secure lodging while they make their preparations to travel to Sovartus' castle. On the way, Conan performs a feat of strength to free a workman from a giant wooden beam that fell on his legs, just as they passed.
After their rooms are arranged at the new inn, Conan retires to sleep for a few hours before his coming nocturnal undertaking. Awakening to a thin haze of yellow smoke in his room, he finds himself filled with a powerful lust as a female voice bids him open the door. Standing in the hallway is Djuvula, wearing a silken blue robe. She enters, shuts the door and lets the robe drop to the floor, revealing her naked, perfect body.
Meanwhile, locating his prey at The Smoking Cat, Logarno's kidnapper decides to salve his wounded pride and kill the Cimmerian, alone, rather than gather a new gang and capture him. Seeing Conan go upstairs to his rooms after drinking three cups of wine, the kidnapper waits for a time and then proceeds upstairs, hoping to catch the barbarian sleeping it off.
In the midst of coupling with Djuvula, the door bursts open and the intruder attacks. Hurling the woman from him, Conan dives toward his sword, narrowly managing to evade the attacker's blade as it crashes down on the bed. Killing the man, Conan realizes that his beautiful bed-mate has fled and that the yellow smoke was probably some sort or sorcery to make him unable to refuse her advances.
That night, Conan invades the house of Lemparius, discovering it shockingly easy to do so. Finding a room filled with wealth, Conan takes a candle from the hall to light the room while he assembles his loot. As he turns to leave he is surprised by a voice behind him. Dropping the candle to draw his sword, he soon discovers that his adversary seems able to see in the dark, while Conan can make out little save the slit of light from under the closed door to the hallway.
Weaving his sword in continuous arcs he manages to make his way to the door unscathed, yanks it open without dropping his swag or sword, and leaps into the hallway. Finding it empty, he sprints toward the store-room where he entered the house, only to find the hallway blocked by a dozen men with swords and pikes.
Turning back he discovers a lone man, standing with a relaxed pose, armed with only a curved dagger. The man introduces himself as Lemparius. They begin a duel, with Lemparius whistling for assistance from his men-at arms when it becomes apparent that he cannot dispatch Conan as easily as he had first thought. Lemparius cannot withstand Conan's assault and falls to the floor, but before the Cimmerian can deal the killing stroke, the summoned guards appear. Distracted by their attack, Conan is knocked unconscious by a recovered Lemparius.
He awakens in a cell, clad only in, "...brief underbreeks, and above that his belt and purse, nothing more." Eventually Lemparius comes to gloat at the irony that, despite his fruitless efforts to capture Conan in the past days, the barbarian delivered himself into Lemparius' hands without prompting. Soon after, Djuvula arrives demanding to see Conan. Conan uses the distraction to kick his captor in the genitals and is then clubbed back into unconsciousness by Lemparius' men.
When next he awakes, Conan is bound hand and foot with soft tight straps, laying on padded bed. Pretending to still be asleep, he listens to Lemparius and Djuvula verbally spar over whether, now that he has become a werepanther, Lemparius has the vigour to once again share her bed. Djuvula relents, giving him three days to recover from the injury Conan recently dealt him, otherwise Conan's heart will animate her Prince of the Lance, instead.
Refusing to be sacrificed to her foul sorcery, Conan breaks his bonds and battles Lemparius for his freedom, learning in the process that the man is are werebeast. Using Lemparius' own enchanted dagger against him, Conan escapes.
Making haste for the Inn, Conan collects Vitarius, gathers his companions and their supplies from the outfitter's shop by bartering for a single Emerald from Lemparius' treasure room that was missed when his men emptied the Cimmerian's money pouch. Together they quit the city ahead of Morstadinos' City Gaurd.
- Sovartus - Mage of the Black Square, student and son of Hogistum
- Djavul - demon from Gehenna, half brother to Djuvula the witch
- Atena - Child of Water; child imbued with the elemental essence of water
- Jord - Child of Earth; child imbued with the elemental essence of earth
- Luft - Child of Air; child imbued with the elemental essence of air
- Eldia - Child of Fire; Flameweaver; child imbued with the elemental essence of fire. Female assistant to Vitarius. Approximately 13.
- Hogistum - Mage of the Grey Square. Father to Sovartus, murdered by him as well [mentioned by name only]
- Undines - creatures resembling white apes in size and movement, smooth as polished crystal. composed of water, inhabiting the frozen Lake Spokesjo.
- Logarno - merchant of Corinthia with "interests" in Koth
- Djuvula the Witch - half demon sister of Djavul. Hedonist.
- Lemparius - Center Strand of the Senate's Treble Whip. Were-panther.
- Arsheva of Khemi - leader of a group of thieves in Mornstadinos
- Vitarius - Mage of the White Square, student of Hogistum. White haired conjuror/entertainer. Hires Conan to be his bodyguard for approximately 1 month.
- Kinna - Older half-sister to Eldia. Approximately 18.
- Patch - Zamoran kidnapper who talks like a Barachan pirate. Hired by Logarno to capture Conan
- Castle Slott, Corinthia
- Pass through the Karpash mountains between Zamora and Corinthia
- Spokesjo Lake - haunted lake on the northern fork of the Corinthian road, near the summit of the pass.
- Mornstadinos - Jewel of Corinthia. Small city in northeast Corinthia.
- Bloddolk Forest - "A place of strange fauna and stranger flora. It lies away from the Corinthian road, to the north, along a side path." Four days ride from Mornstadinos.
- Dodligia Plain - barren wasteland where Sovartus' castle stands. Lies on the far side of Bloddolk Forest.
Mystic Items Edit
Parchment of Slicreves - contains the The Seven Words that enables (along with various other preparations) a mage of the Black Square to summon the demon Djavul.
Thing of Power - a magical beast with the power of the four elements, capable of being brought into being through control of the Square's Four Corners by controlling the four children imbued with their essence. Its creation is rumoured to be, "...such a monstrous happening that even the gods would turn their faces away from it."
Storora - a.k.a. the "magic ear". Stygian designed device that can eavesdrop on mages (and their agents) as they communicate across great distances.
Continuity Notes Edit
Most Conan chronologies place this story immediately after the deCamp pastiche "Hall of the Dead" and before Howard's "The God in the Bowl".