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The Road of the Eagles

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"The Road of the Eagles" is a Conan novelette by L. Sprague de Camp based on an Ottoman Empire era Ivan Sablianka story of the same name by Robert E. Howard; it is usually credited to Howard and de Camp. The story was first published in the 1955 collection Tales of Conan and, under the title "Conan, Man of Destiny," in the December, 1955, issue of Fantastic Universe.

Plot SummaryEdit

Conan and his Red Brotherhood pirates are chased ashore by a Turanian general and while the general seeks an exiled prince to place on the throne, Conan seeks revenge.

Detailed SynopsisEdit

Conan's ship just barely survives an encounter with General Artaban of Shapur, sent by Turan's King Yildiz to destroy Conan's Red Brotherhood and other pirates on the Vilayet Sea. Conan's ship limps towards the shore. Meanwhile, Kurusk Khan and his horsemen attack Yuetshi vilages in the valley of Akrim to the east of the Vilayet Sea. When the Khan is killed by a lucky arrow, his men burn the entire village to the ground and kill every Yuetshi they find. One woman manages to escape, with several Hyrkanians behind her, and as she flees on stolen horse west into a canyon, she encounters Artaban and his remaining men. She recognizes him from the court of Aghrapur when she was a dancer and begs for help, whispering a name in his ear. When the pursuing Hyrkanians respond to Artaban's commands to halt with arrow fire, the soldiers respond in kind and the horsemen flee. Artaban turns to Roxana demanding answers - she had whispered the name of the imprisoned Prince Teyaspa. She knows where Teyaspa is held by Gleg the Zaporoskan. Arbatan reveals that he has been sent by King Yildiz on what amounts to a suicide mission, destroying the pirate strongholds on the Vilayet, in payment for his own savage acts of piracy he committed to pay off debts. He had nearly succeeded in destroying a pirate clan when the crew managed to steal one of his ships; in the ensuing battle, both ships were damaged and Artaban and his men came ashore intending to desert Turan and make new lives for themselves. Roxana then tells how she was hired by Gleg to dance for Teyaspa in an attempt to soften his spirit. When Yildiz seized the Turanian throne with the help of his manipulative mother Khushia (on account that Yildiz was the weaker, mor easily controlled son), his brother Teyaspa had fled to Iranistan to escape the inevitable purge of potential challengers. However, he was ultimately captured and sold to Gleg, who, under instructions from Khushia, kept Teyaspa alive and tried to break him. Roxana fell in love with the prince, but watched him sink into apathy. Arbatan decides to free Teyaspa and attempt to wrestle the Turanian throne from Yildiz and place Teyaspa on it.
Conan and his surviving pirates find Artaban's abandoned ship and after assigning some men to make it seaworthy leaves with the bulk of the men to chase down and kill Artaban. Unfortunately, they end up lost and weary in the canyons. They encounter Vinashko, former chief and now only survivor of the tribe raided by the Hyrkanians. He leads Conan to a hidden storage cave full of food and supplies - the Yuetshi's now unneeded secret horde. The walsl are honeycombed with ancient tombs, remnants, according to Vinashko, of an ancient sub-human race. Vinashko tells Conan where Artaban is camped, but warns him of the Turanian's superior numbers and arms. He reveals how he overheard Roxana and Artaban's plans to rescue Teyaspa and how he had made allies of the Hyrkanians. While the Hyrkanians attack Gleg's castle from the front, Artaban plans to lead his men through a hidden passage discovered by Roxana when she escaped in the back. Vinashko, however, knows a way to trap the Turanians, and leads Conan to a secret tunnel behind a waterfall. Taking a narrow path called the Road of the Eagles, they climb to the top of the gorge to look down on the valley. Conan can see the castle, the Hyrkanian encampment, the Turanian encampment, and even the Vilayet itself from his perch. Vinashko points out hiding places where Conan could ambush Artaban but both are surprised by the early attack of the Hyrkanians on Gleg's castle. They scramble back down to the waterfall and hide while the Turanians pass by and Vinashko races to get Conan's men.
Roxana, having sneaked back into the castle, attempts to rouse Teyaspa. Through the back entrance, she lets in Artaban and his men, accompanied by the Hyrkanian Dayuki. They watch as the Hyrkanians, acting as a distraction, confront Gleg and his forces on the bridge leading into the the front of the castle, Gleg soon falling into the chasm. Teyaspan is freed and the party heads back down the secret trail, only to be accosted by arrows - the ambush of Conan and his Red Brotherhood. The Turanians, decimated by the arrow volley, rush towards the pirates, and as the melee begins, Vinashko leaps upon Dayuki and the pair fall into the river and are swept away. Conan confronts Artaban, who, when he tries to flee, is cut down by Conan. Teyaspa meekly surrenders, and Roxana swiftly stabs the prince and turns the dagger on herself, to the shock of the vcitorious Red Brotherhood. Meanwhile, Conan sees a fresh army approaching - the Imperial forces of Aghrapur. The army chases Conan's men into the waterfall as the Turanian commander tells a dying Roxana that Yildiz is dead, and the army had hoped to install Teyaspa over Yeldiz's son Yezdigerd, but Roxana has ended those plans. Inside the tunnels, Conan slows down the pursuing Turanians. As he reaches the entrance, the cavern and men are overrun by feral cave creatures, brylukas, the true inhabitants of the tunnels, kept at bay by the lighted torches that had been put out in the scuffle. Conan turns and, with a few of the soldiers, manages to fight his way back through the tunnels towards the Turanian army, and, when he emerges from the waterfall he leaps onto the cliff wall and begins climbing, the Turanians firing their arrows at him uselessly. When he makes it to the top, he looks out to the Sea of Vilayet and sees Artaban's ship, now crewed by Conan's men, sail away. After a moment of anger, he shrugs and decides to continue his wanderings.

CharactersEdit

  • Conan
  • Artaban of Shahpur, Turanian general
  • Ivanos, Corinthian pirate
  • Hermio, pirate
  • Medius, pirate
  • Kurush Khan, Hyrkanian tribal chieftan*
  • Roxana, Zamorian dancer*
  • Vinashko, Yuetshi chief*
  • Teyaspa, Prince of Turan*
  • Dayuki, Hyrkanian warrior*
  • Gleg, Zaporoskan pirate*

* dies in this story

LocationsEdit

  • Southern coast of Vilayet Sea, at the mouth of the Zaporoskan River
  • Akrin River Valley and surrounding canyons south of Vilayet Sea

Continuity NotesEdit

  • As chieftain of this mongrel Red Brotherhood, Conan is more than ever a thorn in King Yildiz's sensitive flesh. That henpecked monarch, instead of strangling his brother Teyaspa in the approved Turanian manner, has been prevailed upon to keep him cooped un in a castle deep in the Colchian Mountains, southeast of Vilayet, as a prisoner of the Zaporoskan brigand Gleg. To rid himself of another embarrassment, Yildiz sends one of Teyaspa's strongest partisans, General Artaban, to destroy the pirate stronghold at the mouth of the Zaporoska River. This is does, but he becomes the aharried instead of the harrier. - Conan the Freebooter
Miller/Clark/deCamp Chronology
Previous Story:
"Shadows in the Moonlight"
"The Road of the Eagles" Next Story:
"A Witch Shall Be Born"
Robert Jordan Chronology
Previous Story:
"Shadows in the Moonlight"
"The Road of the Eagles" Next Story:
"A Witch Shall Be Born"
William Galen Gray Chronology
Previous Story:
Conan the Champion
"The Road of the Eagles" Next Story:
"A Witch Shall Be Born"

AdaptationsEdit

Publication historyEdit

GalleryEdit

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