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Wolves Beyond the Border

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"Wolves Beyond the Border" is a fragment of a non-Conan story set in the Hyborian Age by Robert E. Howard.

It was re-written and completed as a Conan story by L. Sprague de Camp.

Synopsis Edit

1.
Gault Hager's Son wakes from his hiding place in the forest to the sounds of drums beating. He creeps towards the sounds and sees a war party of fifty Picts of the Hawk Tribe and one light-skinned man assumed to be a Ligurean surrounding a fire and war shaman. A captive Raven Tribe Pict is brought forward and tied to an altar. Presently, a monstrous serpent slinks down from the trees and hovers above the captive. The shaman's dancing reaches a crescendo, and in the smoke of the fire, the captive and snake seem to merge...and suddenly it is over, both creatures lie still. The man is cut free and he awakens, trying to slither away on his belly, and the snake attempts to stand up...their souls have traded places, Gault realizes to his horror. Both are beheaded to the delight and cries of the Picts, and the shaman takes his mask off, revealing himself to be Tenayoga, who had burned alive a friend of the skulking witness. Feeling a wave of vengeance, he shoots an arrow directly into Tenayoga's chest, and the light-skinned man turns revealing himself to be a Hyborian. The Picts race into the forest and Gault flees, trying to understand how a Hyborian could become a welcome guest of the Picts and view their most sacred rituals. One Pict manages to catch him, but a lucky thrust from Gault's knife kills the Pict. Gault races towards Fort Kwanyara.
2.
Reaching the fort's domain, Gault encounters the guard Otho Gorm's Son, and learns that the Baron of Torh, head of the Conawaga province is taking advantage of the civil war to expand into Schohira. Gault heads into the village of Schondara, looking for the commander of the fort, and when he finds Haken Strom's Son he tells him he bears a message from Brant Drago's Son, governor of Thandara - the province stands with Conan, and has repulsed the Numedides-aligned Baron Attelius. Haken is worried that the loyalist Lord Brocas of Conawaga will march on Schohira, and in fact the Lord is only ten miles away across Ogha Creek. Gault informs Haken that 150 rangers from Thandara stand ready to assist Fort Kwanyara and the two, after a quick drink, head to the fort itself to inform Haken's brother, Dirk, the commander of the forces. Gault wonders why the Picts seem to be of no concern, and is told Lord Valerian has managed to force a truce with the local tribes. When they enter the taproom, Haken points out Valerian, and to Gault's astonishment it is the white man from the night before. When Gault accuses Valerian of consorting with Picts, Valerian draws his sword but is tackled by Gault. In the struggle, Valerian tears off Gault's neck cloth. The villagers pull them apart and see the remnants of Pict war paint on Valerian's chest. Uncertain of all the implications, Hakon has Valerian taken to the gaol and locked up as Gault is taken to Dirk Strom's Son. The situation is explained to the commander, who grimly takes in the news about Valerian but is pleased of the offer of troops from Thandara. Gault returns to the tavern for a well-deserved rest.
3.
The next morning, Gault is attacked in his bed by a chaken, a humanoid forest-creature. He manages to kill the beast, and notices it clutching the piece of cloth Valerian had taken from him. He and Hakon rush to the gaol but find only a dead guard and a terrified drunkard in the cell. The drunkard tells of how last night a woman came, bewitching and killing the guard, and freeing Valerian. Hakon realizes it was Kwarada, a half-Pict, half-Leguran known as the witch of Skandaga, and he organizes a group of men to head to her hut on Lynx Creek. As they approach Hakon kills a Schohiran sentry and he and Gault sneak to the hut's window. They see a dozen Schohiran and Gunderman with Valerian and Kwarada, discussing an alliance with the Picts to take the province. They are joined by a party of Picts led by Tenayoga, whose chest is bandaged from the arrow Gauly shot him with earlier. Tenayoga tells Valerian that though the Hawk, Wildcat, and Turtle tribe will assist the fight, there will be no truce without the Wolfmen tribe, as the other tribes fear the Wolfmen attacking their villages while the men are away. Valerian decides to travel to Ghost Swamp, where the Wizard who dwells there may be the only one to convince the Wolfmen to join the truce. At that point, Hakon retrieves the rest of his men and they light the cabin on fire as they pour arrows into the windows. The men inside flee in a panic only to find the front door guarded by Hakon and a handful of his rangers ready for them. Hakon's men managed to slay a number of men, and only loses two himself, but Valerian and the witch get away and a good amount of the others scatter to the woods. Hakon sends some men to warn Dirk and prepare for an attack, and he and Gault take two more and head for the Ghost Swamp.
4.
The four men cross into Pictish territory and after a couple of hours reach come across three sentries on the trail. They attempt to sneak around but a wild elephant charges directly into them. The Picts are alerted and attack and after a short battle, the three Picts and two rangers are dead.
5.
Gault and Hakon find the Pict encampments at the Ghost Swamp but and split up to scout but Gault, exhausted after the day's travails, is captured. He is taken to the Wizard, who is council with Valerian and the chiefs of the four tribes. He sees Hakon also captured and bound. The two are tied to a stake while the chiefs decide what to do with them. Ultimately the Wizard decides they are to be sacrificed after the successful campaign and gifts the Picts a bag of demons that will attack any man on his feet. They are left tied to the stakes all night as the Picts sleep and the next morning, the truce successfully negotiated, the tribes head off for war, leaving only the Wizard and two guards. The Wizard casts some bones and sinks into a trance. The two guard decide they would rather join the fighting than babysit two bound prisoners and leave, and after several hours of work Gault manages to break free of his bonds. The wizard still sits unmoving, so Gault sneaks up to him and begins to choke him. The Wizard snaps out of his trance and fights back, but he is weak and elderly and Gault slays him. Gault releases Hakon and with only a hunting knife and a bow chase after the Picts.
6.
They find the Pict camp outside Schondara, preparing for attack. The villagers have retreated to the fort and are making their own preparations. Hakon spies the bag of demons on a pole, and tells Gault to get closer and shoot the bag. Gault prepares to take the shot but the Pictish drums start beating and the attack begins. Gault looses his arrow and punctures the bag, and he and Hakon dive to the ground as hundreds of demons pour from the sack and attack the Picts, only a few remembering to fall flat. The massacre takes only minutes, and when the demons dissipate and the surviving Picts stumble back to the forest, Hakon and Gault rise, find Valerian's head torn from its body, and take it to the fort to be hailed as heroes. To add even more to the victory, news comes that Numedides has been slain and Conan has been crowed king.

Characters Edit

  • Gault Hager's Son
  • Tenayoga, Pictish shaman of the Hawk Tribe
  • Otho Gorm's Son
  • Hakon Strom's son
  • Lord Valerian *
  • Kwarada, The witch of Skandaga
  • The Wizard *

* - dies in this story

LocationsEdit

  • Aquilonia
    • Province of Schohira
      • Fort Kwanyara
      • Village of Schondara
  • Pictland
    • The Ghost Swamp


Continuity NotesEdit

The revolution progresses with hurricane speed. While knights and sergeants in gleaming mail clash in charge and counter-charge on the Aquilonian plains, civil war rages along the Pictish frontier between the partisans of Conan and those of Numedides. The Picts, naturally, see their opportunity. Here is a tale of some of the events of that strife-torn land, as told by one of the survivors of the conflict; for the Hyborian Age was a time of stirring events in many times and places, not merely those in which Conan was present. - Conan the Usurper

  • This story takes place two years after the destruction of Fort Tuscelan.
Miller/Clark/deCamp Chronology
Previous Story:
"The Treasure of Tranicos"
"Wolves Beyond the Border" Next Story:
Conan the Liberator
Robert Jordan Chronology
Previous Story:
"The Treasure of Tranicos"
"Wolves Beyond the Border" Next Story:
Conan the Liberator
William Galen Gray Chronology
Previous Story:
"The Treasure of Tranicos"
"Wolves Beyond the Border" Next Story:
Conan the Liberator
Joe Marek Chronology
Previous Story:
"The Treasure of Tranicos"
"Wolves Beyond the Border" Next Story:
"The Phoenix on the Sword
Dale Rippke Chronology
Previous Story:
"The Servants of Bit-Yakin"
"Wolves Beyond the Border" Next Story:
"The Phoenix on the Sword

Publication historyEdit

AdaptationsEdit

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