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The Pool of the Black One

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"The Pool of the Black One" is a novelette by Robert E. Howard first published in Weird Tales 22 4 (October 1933).

Conan pool black one

Plot SummaryEdit

Detailed SynopsisEdit

1.
Conan climbs aboard the pirate vessel the Wastrel, awakening a lady, Sancha, who is lounging on the deck. He is confronted by the captain, Zaporavo, and admits to fleeing the outlaw encampment Tortage in the Baracha Islands. Conan talks his way into a position on the boat, and quickly gains the acceptance of the crew after he lays out a sailor who tried to confront him. Over time Conan becomes a popular and influential leader of the crew, and attracts the attentions of Sancha, who has been growing tired of Zaporavo. He seems to be withdrawn and sends the ship deeper into uncharted territory, looking for an island mentioned in the Book of Skelos. Eventually they do find an island, and while the men gorge themselves on fruit from the island, Zaporavo goes alone into the forest. Conan secretly follows, and a curious Sancha comes after. After a short time, Sancha comes across the body of Zaporavo, a gaping hole in his chest, and screams for Conan in terror.
2.
Conan had seen Zaporavo enter the woods, Conan followed intending on challenging the captain as leader, something he was unable to do in public. After a brief but savage battle, Conan kills Zaporavo, but as he cleans his blade sees an unnaturally tall black form carrying a white figure race through the trees. Curious, he follows and finds a green fortress. He enters the courtyard and chooses a tower to climb. When he reaches the balcony, which overlooks several separated courtyards, he sees a cluster of the giant, black, naked figures crouched around a pool in one of the courts. In the center of the pool, the youngest sailor on the Wastrel crouched in terror, having wandered too far and snatched by one of the black men. One of the creatures begins to play a mute sound on a set of pipes, which causes the boy to begin a convoluted, twitching dance. Then, the boy is thrust entirely into the pool. Conan ducks away to avoid being seen, and when he looks back the creatures are filing out, but the boy is not present. After a few moments, Conan races down to the pool, only stopping to observe shelves with dolls stacked on them. He finds the pool, but can see to the bottom and the boy is not there. Realization dawns on Conan when he recalls seeing one of the figures place something on the shelf as they left...
3.
Sancha's scream tears Conan away and he races up a ledge for a better view. He spies a black creature carrying Sancha to the pool courtyard. He ambushes the creature and kills it, but barely has time to catch his breath before more creatures approach, each carrying an unconscious crew member. Conan quickly tosses the body into the pool and watches as it shrinks into a the size of a doll. He then grabs Sancha and they flee to cover in a balcony alcove. The creatures drop the crewmen outside the courtyard, then all go in to hear one play tunes on his pipes. Conan and Sancha quietly sneak towards the unconscious crewman, and they realize the fruit they had been eating had been drugged. Conan tells Sancha to wake the crewmen while he distracts the creatures. He sneaks into the courtyard where the creatures sit transfixed, and in a burst of savage energy clubs three to death before they even know what happened, fleeing through another alcove.

CharactersEdit

* - dies in this story

LocationsEdit

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Continuity NotesEdit

  • Conan makes his way across the southern grasslands of the black kingdoms. Here he is known of old, and Amra the lion has no difficulty in making his way to the coast, which he had ravaged in his days with Belit. But Belit is now only a memory on the Black Coast. The ship that eventually heaves in sight off of the headland where Conan sits whetting his sword is manned by pirates of the Baracha Isles, off the coast of Zingara. They, too, have heard of Conan and welcome his sword and experience. He is in his middle thirties when he joins the Barachan pirates, with whom he remains for a considerable time. To Conan, however, accustomed as he is to the tightly organized armies of the Hyborian kings, the organization of the Barachan bands appears so loose that there is small opportunity to rise to leadership and its rewards. Slipping out of an unusually tight spot in the pirate rendezvous at Tortage, he finds that the alternative to a slit throat lies in an attempt to swim the Western Ocean. This he does with complete confidence and perfect aplomb. - Conan the Adventurer
Miller/Clark/deCamp Chronology
Previous Story:
"The Gem in the Tower"
"The Pool of the Black One" Next Story:
Conan the Buccaneer
Robert Jordan Chronology
Previous Story:
"The Gem in the Tower"
"The Pool of the Black One" Next Story:
Conan the Buccaneer
William Galen Gray Chronology
Previous Story:
"Conan and the Grim Grey God"
"The Pool of the Black One" Next Story:
Conan the Buccaneer
Joe Marek Chronology
Previous Story:
"The Vale of Lost Women"
"The Pool of the Black One" Next Story:
Red Nails
Dale Ripke Chronology
Previous Story:
"The Vale of Lost Women"
"The Pool of the Black One" Next Story:
"Beyond the Black River"

AdaptationsEdit

Publishing historyEdit

Believed complete --Ant 21:18, 28 May 2006 (UTC)


"The Pool of the Black One" (novelette) • Robert E. Howard


"The Pool of the Black One" (novelette) • Robert E. Howard • edited by L. Sprague de Camp

ReferencesEdit

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