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The People of the Summit

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"The People of the Summit" is a short story written by Bjorn Nyberg and first published in the 1970 fantasy collection The Mighty Swordsmen. It was revised by L. Sprague de Camp and subsequently published in the 1978 Conan collection Conan the Swordsman.

Plot SummaryEdit

Having barely survived an ambush, Conan attempts to make his way through the Khozargi hills and encounters an ancient, savage race.

Detailed SynopsisEdit

Conan and the Turanian soldier Jamal, the only survivors of a treacherous Khozgarian ambush, make their way through the Khozargi hills back to safety. Conan fumes, recalling how he warned the Turanian emissary that the Khozgarians could not be trusted, and wishing the soldiers had the spines ti disobey the emissary's authority. His thoughts are put aside when he spots a figure darting through the crevices. He chases the figure, barely avoiding a swung club, and discovers his prey is a young woman. It turns out the woman is Shanya, daughter of a Khozghari chief, and Conan believes she will be a useful hostage in case they encounter any Khozgarians during their escape. As a shortcut, and to Shanya's horror, the small party begins to cross the Misty Mountains, home of the People of the Summit. The mist is thick, and while Shanya sees occasional movements in the cliffs, Conan is disturbed by the skeleton on display on two poles. Suddenly, a boulder dropped from above crushes Jamal, a noose lowered on a rope catches Shanya and pulls her up into the mist, and within seconds, Conan is alone. He feels another rope noose coming for him, and instantly dodges the trap but grabs onto the rope with his hands. He makes the sounds of a man struggling for breath, and the rope is raised with Conan ready for battle at the end. At the top of the cliff, still almost blinded by the mist, he swings his blade blindly and manages to cut down two figures before any others disappear into the night. Examining the bodies, Conan discovers they are in fact hairless apes. They give off a strong musty scent, strong enough for Conan to follow. Deciding he can't let Shanya remain in the custody of such foul creatures, he sets off to rescue her. The path is littered with ancient pyramidal burial structures, protected by spells and blessings of old, but eventually Conan reaches the end of the mountain pass -an ancient keep. Meanwhile, Shanya comes to in the company of an ashen man with entirely black pupils, who hoarsely tells her that she will be used as breeding stock to replenish the People of the Summit, who have been interbreeding for generations and only a handful are left. Shanya definately refuses, but the man tells her she will do as they bid, or they will give her to their ancient protector, and he gestures towards two iron doors behind which something large scuttles. Outside, Conan spies on the keep and takes the opportunity to shoot an hour at a human figure on the battlement, succesfully downing him. Minutes later, the doors to the keep burst open and a group of the hairless apes run forth to find the enemy attacking the keep. Conan shoots at them until he runs out of ammunition, and charges the rest, easily killing them all. He then kills another human at the door and notices he carries an odd mask made out of a material Conan has never seen before. He takes the mask and continues further into the keep. He finds the remaining People of the Summit gathered around a drugged Shanya. The leader brings forth an all consuming mist, but before the mist can fill the room entirely, Conan notices the People putting on masks like the one he stole. He quickly puts on his mask and realizes that he can see perfectly well in the mist now. The People, not realize he can see him, attempt to sneak to him for an easy kill, and he wipes them out. With his dying breath, the leader opens the iron doors, and a giant, ten legged, crab-spider monster rushes out. Conan grabs Shanya and runs with the creature giving chase. Conan, wildly searching for a weapon to fight the creature, grabs one of the blessed boulders from the burial mounds which actually damages the creature. Conan throws boulder after boulder until the pyramidal structure collapses and buries the creature under an avalanche of rock. When Shanya comes to, grateful to Conan for saving her from a fate worse than death, she agrees to lead him safely throuh Khozgari territory.


  • Conan
  • Jamal
  • Shanya


  • The Khozgari Hills near Turan.


Miller/Clark/deCamp Chronology
Previous Story:
"The City of Skulls"
"The People of the Summit" Next Story:
"The Curse of the Monolith"
Robert Jordan Chronology
Previous Story:
"The City of Skulls"
"The People of the Summit" Next Story:
"The Curse of the Monolith"
William Galen Gray Chronology
Previous Story:
Conan the Hero
"The People of the Summit" Next Story:
"The Curse of the Monolith"


Publication HistoryEdit

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