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The Ivory Goddess

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"The Ivory Goddess" is a short story written by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter, featuring Conan of Cimmeria, and first published in the collection Conan the Swordsman in 1978.

Plot SummaryEdit

Conan plans to use the dancing girl Muriela to impersonate the Puntian goddess Nebethet. Unfortunately, his plans collapse when the real Nebethet possesses Muriela and sends Conan on his way.

Detailed SynopsisEdit

In Punt, a message from Keshan arrives via drums warning Punt of a plague of strangers, expelled from Keshan, who are coming their way. The chief priest Zaramba takes the message to the palace. Meanwhile, the couple to whom the warning refers, Conan and the dancing girl Muriela, make their way through the forest. Days later they reach a locked marble shrine-temple to Nebethet. Although the door is barred, Conan climbs the walls and enters through an open window. They find the inner shrine to Nebethet, complete with an ivory statue to the goddess, and Conan reveals his plan to have Muriela decieve the locals by pretending she was the goddess, a plan that worked to some effect in Keshan. Unfortunately, the life-sized idol to Nebethet they find (and Conan hoped to remove and replace with Muriela) is far to large and heavy to move. Conan leaves Muriela in the idol chamber to search the grounds, and while Muriela waits alone, a skeletal hand reaches for her shoulder, and she faints in terror when she sees not only the creature it's attached to but the monstrous, hairy entity that materializes next to her and picks her up. When Conan, reacting to the scream, rushes back to the room, he finds it empty. Muriela awakens in a small stone chamber and calls for Conan. He hears her and rushes in the direction of her cries, but encounters a shriveled, almost mummified, child-size creature. While Conan processes this, a lumbering, hairy creature bursts into view and tackles Conan. The monster lashes at Conan with claws, and Conan flails and kicks wildly against the ape-like beast. Conan finally gets the better of the humanoid creature and stabs it repeatedly with his dagger until it dies. He soon finds Muriela, and although she wants to leave, Conan decides with the monster dead, the withered crone, who he assumes is a priestess of the shrine, commanded it can cause no harm, and this place is safer than the open road. Taking turns watching, they sleep for a day and a half. When Conan leaves to hunt some food, he sees a procession of horses approaching the temple. He decides to attempt the goddess con. Unfortunately, the procession from Punt includes Conan's recent enemy, Thutmekri. Thutmekri had been responsible for Conan and Muriela being run out of Keshan and, having also been chased from Keshan, had come to Punt to enlist King Lalibeha against the Keshans. The king, partly suspicious because of the recent drum warning, decided to seek the advice of the oracle at the very temple to Nebethet Conan and Muriela were hiding at. As Lalibeha's retinue perform their rituals and Zaramba asks for guidance, a voice from the statue arises and warns the king of the Thutmekri's treachery. The king's men begin to surround and close in on Thutmekri's small band while Thutmekri struggles to place the voice. When the voice recommends that Lalibeha make Conan a general in the Puntish army, as the barbarian strides calculatingly through a side portal, Thutmekri realizes what's going on and orders his men to kill Conan. At that moment the statue tumbles forward revealing a disguised Muriela behind it...but it is in fact the goddess Nebethet speaking through Muriela, and, after using her powers to kill one of Thutmekri's men by pointing at him, reveals to Lalibeha that both Thutmekri and Conan are rogues. She demands that Thutmekri be put to death immediately, but Conan be given two days to leave the kingdom, since he was kind to her host body. Thutmekri attacks Conan, but the barbarian cuts off the Stygian's head. Thutmekri's men flee the temple, but Lalibeha orders a pursuit, and soon the temple is abandoned once again. Conan remains behind to speak with Nebethet/Muriela. The goddess assures Conan that Muriela will be well taken care of, and suggests that he move next to Zembabwei before she changes her mind on Conan's freedom. Conan humbly takes leave but runs into the old crone, who curses him for killing her demon-spawned son. Before she can fully finish her curse, she falls dead, and Conan continues on his way.

CharactersEdit

  • Conan
  • Zaramba (Chief priest of Punt)
  • Muriela (Corinthian dancing girl)
  • Lalibeha (King of Punt)
  • Thutmekri (Stygian priest)


LocationsEdit

  • Punt

Continuity NotesEdit

Miller/Clark/deCamp Chronology
Previous Story:
"Jewels of Gwahlur"
"The Ivory Goddess" Next Story:
"Beyond the Black River"
Robert Jordan Chronology
Previous Story:
"Jewels of Gwahlur"
"The Ivory Goddess" Next Story:
"Beyond the Black River"
William Galen Gray Chronology
Previous Story:
"Jewels of Gwahlur"
"The Ivory Goddess" Next Story:
Conan and the Treasure of Python

AdaptationsEdit

Publication HistoryEdit

The Ivory Goddess
The Ivory Goddess
BlackhouserAdded by Blackhouser

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