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The Hall of the Dead

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"The Hall of the Dead" is a story that exists in two forms. The original is a 640 word synopsis for an unwritten Conan story by Robert E. Howard. The other is a novelette written by L. Sprague de Camp based on Howard's synopsis. De Camp's novelette was first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction for February 1967 and in book form in the collection Conan (Lancer, 1967). Howard's synopsis was first published in Fantasy Crossroads #1 (November 1974).

Plot SummaryEdit

The completed story has Conan exploring the haunted ruins of Larsha, an ancient Zamorian city west of Shadizar, in search of treasure. He is joined in his quest by a Gunderman mercenary captain who was originally sent by the king to capture or kill the young barbarian.

The Synopsis has the start and end details fairly clearly. It does not name the Zamorian city as Shadizar however, only calling it "...the nearest Zamorian city." It also does not use the name Larsha, only calling it "the deserted city of the ancients." It also does not name the monster that stalks the city, just how Conan dispatches it. The girl at the end is not named, but the Maul is named (capitalized by Howard).

Detailed SynopsisEdit

A group of soldiers from Shadizar, under the command of the Gunderman, Captain Nestor, hunt Conan on behalf of the rich citizens Conan has recently robbed, and the rich have made clear to Nestor's commanders that he will not be allowed to fail. Nestor is concerned that his soldiers are worthless and he is familiar with Conan's brawn, so he believes his prospects are dim. When he turns to berate his chatty men, he accidentally triggers a tripwire which brings a cascade of boulders on the soldiers, crushing them. Nestor escapes with only bruises, but more determined than ever to bring back Conan's head. Nestor slowly makes his way through the gorge, fully expecting Conan to ambush him, until he finds himself on a plateau facing the ancient ruins of Larsha. Conan himself is at the gate and Nestor rushes him, but the older mercenary is no match for the youthful barbarian, and Nestor is knocked unconscious. Conan decides he can't break down the bronze fate, so he searches for a way over the crumbling walls and enters the deserted city. He notes that his feet stick to the ground and to a dried substance that covers the streets. Occasionally, he thinks he hears sounds of movement, but can't be sure. Turning the corner, he encounters a giant fifty-foot long slug, the source of the dried mucus. He leaps out of the way just as the creature spits an acidic geyser in his direction. Conan races away, the slug in hot pursuit, and barely escapes by climbing the high walls of a temple. The slug begins to ascend the templs as well, but Conan pushes a stone gargoyle, and then several others, onto the monster until it lies dead, finishing it by scurrying down the walls and slashing at it with his sword. At that moment, Nestor appears, ready for another round with Conan. Conan manages to convince Nestor that they should work together and split the treasure, as Nestor, having lost his men, has nothing with which to return to Shadizar, and Nestory reluctantly agrees to assist Conan and split the loot. The two men light torches and head towards the central place. The rotting doors break easily as the two find the treasure room, guarded by seven giant mummified bodies. They flip a coin for the treasure, and Conan, winning the toss, desires seven green jewels fixed to a star carved into an altar. Nestor begins to shovel coins and jewels into a makeshift bag, and Conan decides to take a jade serpent statue. Before they can leave, the seven mummies begin to move and attack the men. In a panic the two run from the palace, and as the giants burst into the street, they crumble into dust. Conan and Nestor barely have time to catch their breath before the city itself begins to crumble around them. They run for the walls, and while Conan makes it safely over, Nestor does not. Conan searches briefly for his companion, then heads back to Shadizar. When he removes the jewels from his sack, however, they, too, turn to dust. The sack containing the jade statue begins to move, and just then the watch bursts through the doors to arrest Conan. When the commander opens the sack to see what Conan has stolen, a jade serpent curls around his arms and bites him. In the mad rush of surprise and panic, Conan steals away, figuring that Nestor had survived and ratted him out. He goes to their prearranged meeting place and sees Nestor sitting there. He himself had been captured but in his escape lost all the treasure save for two coins, one of which he offers Conan. The two men part as friends, Nestor to the east to Turan, and Conan heading west.

CharactersEdit

LocationsEdit

NotesEdit

  • The reference to Conan visiting a tavern in the Maul after leaving Larsha is an error, unless both Shadizar and Arenjun have a Maul.

ContinuityEdit

Miller/Clark/deCamp Chronology
Previous Story:
Conan the Invincible
"The Hall of the Dead" Next Story:
"The God in the Bowl"
Robert Jordan Chronology
Previous Story:
Conan the Invincible
"The Hall of the Dead" Next Story:
Conan the Fearless
William Galen Gray Chronology
Previous Story:
Conan the Invincible
"The Hall of the Dead" Next Story:
Conan the Fearless
Joe Marek Chronology
Previous Story:
"The Tower of the Elephant"
"The Hall of the Dead" Next Story:
"Rogues in the House"
Dale Rippke Chronology
Previous Story:
"The Tower of the Elephant"
"The Hall of the Dead" Next Story:
"Rogues in the House"


Publication HistoryEdit

de Camp's novelette Edit

Howard's synopsis Edit

Adaptations Edit

ReferencesEdit

GalleryEdit

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