The Darklight


Daniel Thomas Andrew Daly

© 6177-6183 SC Noahide Books

On the outskirts of Never, lived the Kareesh. The Kareesh drank water from deep wells, water which came from the heart of creation. The Kareesh drank this water, and wandered far away from Never, into the desert land. Into the desert land.

Conan was old, and in many ways young again. King of Aquilonia in the power of Heaven’s Might, Conan had all he wished, and bedded any fair maiden which caught his eye.

But at the bottom of the well of Zamora, he entered the Never. And the Never cascaded into the wilderness beneath. The underground world.

The earth above was red, deep ocreish red, from the ‘Kraad’ sandstone, which took any meagre source of light brought to it and enhanced it, reflected it on eternally. A torch lit would light the realm e’er. Nobody doubted this.

Cept the Kareesh.

They believed in the darklight, which would dim the Kraad, and bring darkness again to the underworld. Yet not in Never did Darklight exist. So the Kareesh, on manhood, wandered to the desert, having drunk deep water, to search for the Darklight.

So they might once more sleep.

A wizard had cursed them, to wander forever, in search of the darklight. And until then they would never rest, for they had offended him greatly. And, in his own words, ne’er a Kareesh could yet find the Darklight anyway, yet surely it also must be their own.

Conan had fallen into the well, and was dead in the heart of Never. Yet a Kareesh took pity and brought him into his home and nursed him back to health.

Truly you are a brother to me,’ swore Conan. ‘I shall find the Darklight as your own, yet not.’

And he drank deeply of the water of Never.

And he searched….

And he searched…

And he found the darklight, beyond the wastelands, in the deepest hole of the deepest pit, a black majestic piece of crystal.

And he returned to his host.

And they placed the darklight in the heart of Never.

And the curse was broken.

And the Kareesh slept once more.

Yet the Wizard knew…

Yet the Wizard knew…

The End

The Darklight 2

The Wizard awoke.
'I'll curse that Conan. He shall wander the wastelands, till he is no more.' And the curse was wrathful.
Conan's blade fell from his side. 'Ho, why does it fall?' he queried, and looked at his scabbard. Rot had set in and the blade had fallen. He picked up the blade, and looked at it. It was covered in nasty green grime. He tried rubbing it off, but then started coughing.
A week later he was sick, fowl mooded, and in bed. The vomiting had not departed for the last 3 days.
'Ye are cursed,' said Zanzan.
'Curse you and your curse,' replied Conan to the Hyperborean.
'Tis the Wizard. His wrath is well known. Only slaying him will end the curse,' replied Zanzan.
Conan eyed Zanzan. 'Then a wizard's dead head I'll deliver ye.'
Conan, still sick, set out on his steed, but nobody knew where the wizard hid. And then he dreamed one night, and a Kareesh maiden said to him 'The Wizard dwells in Castle Vanity in the heart of Aquilonia.'
Conan travelled, and found Castle Vanity in the middle of a lake, and he swam the waters, and climbed into the tower.
But the wizard was gone, and the castle was bare, and Conan vomited once more.
On his travels a few days later he found an old wizard, one he knew from youth, who gave him an elixir, and the curse lifted, but his mood remained fowl.
'I know the wizard ye seek,' said Radfarr, the old wizard. 'He is a fowl student of mine, turned to darkness. Yet, I am afraid, you will not find him with ease. He knows the way of mystery, and dwells in illusion. A tired adventurer you will be before you track him down.'
'Then a tired adventurer I will be,' said Conan, and resumed his search.
But he searched Aquilonia in vain, and a trail to Cimmeria was a dead end, and Conan left off his wrath for the time being. For fair Cimmerian maidens beckoned him once more, and Conan being Conan........
But that is another story.

The End

The Darklight 3
Conan looked at the Cimmerian maiden. She was not the most attractive of lasses he'd bedded, by no means. But she was neither plain. Of moderate to decent looks. Marni was, though, a solid sort. He had gotten to know her well over the last few weeks, on hiatus in Cimmeria before resuming his adventures. She was a reliable sort, and faithful to his presence - she was never far away, and seemed to hang on his every word. Very devoted. Men wanted that in a woman. Devotion. The loyal sort. The marrying sort. Naturally the breasts needed to be firm - and large - with good thighs and nice legs. They were requirements in the instinctive list Conan carried around in his head in his adventures for the one to settle down with. Perhaps this Marni could be as such.
'Yo, maiden. Where are you?' No sooner had Conan spoken those words than Marni came a running.
'Master,' she said, kneeling down at his feet.
'Will ye wash my feet,' he said. 'I have not bathed for a week, and they smell fowl.'
'Of course, my lord,' she replied. As she gathered a bowl and filled it with water, Conan watched her steady Cimmerian mannerisms. Noble. She was noble in the way she carried herself, as if she expected much from life and much from the people she associated with. And, perhaps, much in a husband. Yet she liked him, and looking at her, with her decent physique and acceptable looks, he wondered if he would ask her.
'Did you dream?' she asked him, as she washed his feet with the true gentleness and strength of a Cimmerian lady.
'I dreamt of fowl wizards, and strange creatures running around a lake,' he replied.
'Dreams are often portents. And lessons,' she said. 'They speak of what has been and what could be. In symbols and crypticity.'
'Do not baffle me with your fine words. Just wash.' And she smiled at him, and he smiled back.
The weeks turned to months, and he had not left the village, and had been working with the blacksmith to pay his way in the village community. Marni would come and visit him each day, bringing meat and bread, and he would relax at the midday meal, and look fondly upon her. For he had decided to act upon his impulse, for perhaps the time had come to settle down.
It is a shame, when a man has found love, that it is taken from him. For the wizard, the one who had cursed him, found the village, and learnt of Conan, and he found out of Conan's love for Marni. And, not being seen, he found Marni alone.
'You are his bitch,' he said.
Marni did not respond, but gazed with Cimmerian strength at her adversary.
'Then you will die,' said the wizard.
'Before you kill me, may I know your name?' asked Marni.
The wizard chuckled. 'Why, Merdak, the abominable.'
'Then, Merdak, I curse your name to the fowlest of hells.'
'My fate is sealed,' he said dramatically. 'But I am afraid yours is too.' And he fixed her with a glance, and spoke a word, and she fell over, writhing in pain, and soon it was too much, and the spirit departed.
Conan found his love later that day, and when she did not respond to his jesting prodding, he picked her up and looked at her. And then he knew she was dead. The villagers spoke to him, upon finding out, and they spoke of the wizard, and they told him it had been Merdak the Abominable. And that truth settled into the heart of Conan.
The hellfire which raged in his eyes would not be appeased any time soon.
The End

The Darklight 4
He tracked the wizard through heat. He tracked the wizard through snow. He tracked the wizard, through rain. He tracked the wizard through clear skies and sunny days. Radfarr rode alongside him as they searched, and the name of Merdak became well known in the world as the wrath of Conan the Cimmerian. And then, in the far frozen north, they heard word that a wizard lived in a castle in the frozen crags beyond the village, and apparently it was whispered he was Merdak the Abominable.
'Conan, ye are a savage, and I fear the pain Merdak shall suffer at your hands. So look in your heart, and just behead the fool and have done with it.'
But Conan just glared back at Radfarr the Wizard.
They found the castle, and Conan climbed, and then lowered a rope and dragged up Radfarr. They came inside, and there he was, drunk, sleeping on his throne. A sickly servant looked at them and yelled 'Merdak. Intruders!'
Merdak awoke, but his eyes were bloodshot, and he could do nothing as Conan closed in, dragged him to his feet, and held a knife at his throat.
'What do you say before I kill, you abomination?'
Merdak looked into the eyes of wrath, and bowed his head. 'I guess I'm getting what I deserve,' said the wizard, and said nothing more.
Conan looked at Merdak, and he thought of his beloved Marni, and her cruel death, and the torments he had been through, and he looked with hatred at the wizard, who did not resist. And then, deep in his heart, he heard a song of his mother, and remembered that his mother loved him. And looking at the wretched creature before him, he realized, in the end, this abomination too had a mother, who even now loved his son.
So Conan threw Merdak on his throne, and left the castle by its front entrance, and the name of Merdak the Abominable was heard of again no more.
'Aye, ye are a Cimmerian proud and true,' said Radfarr, as they journeyed homewards.
Conan's steely gaze was the only reply.
The End

The Darklight 5

It is well known that the Well of Zamora leads to the world of the Never. Conan had fallen down there not too far past, and been healed by one of the Kareesh. And had found their Darklight. He was in the Never, at a wyrd place, were a large swampy region was rumoured to be inhabited by the dragon 'Rastakar', who had treasures from Zamora, when he flew up the well and went a hunting. Conan was deep in the swamp, on a sawmp raft he had borrowed from a Kareesh,and was searching. Alligators had been snapping at the boast, and he feared them little, so gave them a gentle prod and, upon summing up the size and strength of this Cimmerian Barbarian, they seemed to let things be, forget about their hunger, and return to their murky waters, letting that meal be. He found the island in the heart of the swamp he had been told of, and climbed into the crag of rocks. A cave - he found once, and with his torch lit, entered in. It smelled fowl, and he knew it the smell of dragons. He crept, and the light flickered on the walls of the cave, dark and mossy, with bugs of strange kind he'd not seen before, crawling up and down, surely many poisonous enough to even give crude bellyache to the King of Aquilonia himself. He entered the heart of the cavern, and beheld treasures and riches in abundance. 'By Crom's Beard. The mother load!' gasped Conan, sack in hand, ready to plunder. 'It will take more than Crom's beard to save your white skin barbarian,' said a voice, and fire burst at Conan, who, singed, drew up his shield, and beheld the beast. It had a claw missing, no doubt from a tangly encounter oe too many, but it lurched at him, and he fended it off, swiping at the other claw. It dodged thoough, and swiped its tail at Conan's feet, sending him tumbling. 'No fowl barbarian shall have my loot,' spoke the dragon proudly. 'A thief can not help but honour the King of theieves, replied Conan, finding his feet. The dragon lunged at him, but conan ducked, and with all the strength of Cimmeria in his bones, he plunged the head of his sword, the blunt end, down on the head of the dragon. The dragon yelled, stood up on its hind legs for a moment, then collapsed on the ground. He'd knocked it out. He thought on slaying the dragon, but took pity, for he was a older barbarian these days, and filled his bag, taking many a choice item, and quickly left the cave, happy enough with the hoarde of treasure he had earned for his troubles. As he pulled away in his boat, and put a a mile or so between him and the island, he noticed the dragon suddenly in the sky, circling the island, no doubt looking for Conan, but he kept to edges of the swamp, unseen, and as he paddled, the sight of the dragon fell away, and he grinned at his success, and the fine treasures the Aquilonian treasure room would soon be adding to its collection.

The End

The Darklight 6

Conan grabbed the sword from Aztak's hand. Aztak was gone for - the wound in his side was bleeding bad, and he looked up at Conan with a sigh. The slaying of a fellow Cimmerian was never a good thing, but when it is from the village of your birth it cuts to the bone. 'Avenge me,' said Aztak. Conan took the sword and looked at the gem of Darklight in its hilt. The darklight enshrouded him then, as he wielded it and turned and attacked Raskellar the dragon. Raskellar had a large chunk of its tail missing and breathed fire at Conan. Then the apeman Arbor jumped down from the dragon and started wrestling Conan. 'By Thoth Amon's ungodly stench, you smell bad Arbor.' 'Take it from me. When a wizard is transmogrified by the Kareesh into an ape we tend to lose our wizardly decorum. Come now barbarian scum,' said the apeman mage, as he wrestled Conan for control. 'Let's settle this civilly. Return Raskellar's sword, and we will let you leave in peace.' Conan shoved the sword down into Arbor's foot, who let out a animalistic screech, and punched Conan in the face, who duly dropped the sword, dazed. 'My Sword,' yelled the dragon. Arbor picked it up and held it, glaring at Conan. 'i should rightly run you through, but tell the Kareesh, for my mercy, to relinquish their curse. You have good favour with them.' Conan got to his feet, signaled a curse at Arbor, and looked at Aztak. The Cimmerian had died. 'Help me bury him wizard scum and I'll speak on your behalf.' The apeman shrugged, and when the final stone was in place, he left with the sword on the dragon's back. Conan kept his promise, and when he finally got home to Cimmeria, he gave Aztak's sister Aztak's shield and wallet, and said Crom would take his soul to paradise. And that seemed to set the Cimmerian maiden's heart at ease.


The Darklight 7

'By the Sword of Skelos, what is your problem woman?'

Conan glared at the maiden. She was young, nubile, and a King of Aquilonia really should know better at his age.

'We've been in this 'Never' for weeks now, and you keep on promising me we are on a grand quest of grand adventure with grand reward, and passionate encounter. You've barely looked at me.'

'Nay, woman. The moment and its timing of things is not right for such activities,' replied Conan. Suddenly a giant spider came down out of the forest tops and landed on Conan's head, grappling him. Conan pulled out his sword and started hacking at the spider.

'I am a maiden or quite serene and noble desirability,' continued the maiden. 'The King chose me for I was far and away more fit and proper to be the consort by his side at this grand historical time, when there is movement in Aquilonia of curious and interesting affair.' She glanced at Conan as he continued hacking at the spider. 'I want to be entertained Conan.'

Out of the woods, suddenly, burst a large wildebeast, and hacked at Conan's boots with his fangs. Conan pushed the carcass of the spider away, which began crawling back into the forest and turned his attention to the wildebeast, hacking at it's head also.

'Excitement, Conan. I need excitement,' said the Maiden, and picked up some of the now decapitated fangs of the spider, examining them with quite unmaiden like curiousity, actually. 'Do not bore me so much as you have been doing for days now.'

The wildebeast continued biting into Conan's boot, and Conan reached down, grabbed it, and threw it against a tree trunk. It whimpered and retreated.

'You claim to be a great hero, yet I am bored to bits,' said the maiden, glaring at Conan.

An arrow suddenly flew past Conan's face, and hit a tree. Conan turned, and a centaur with a bow and arrow came charging at him. He jumped at the Centaur, brought him to the ground, and started wrestling him.

'I would have thought,' continued the maiden, pulling the arrow out of the tree. 'That a Cimmerian barbarian, of all people, would have an exciting life. But, nay. The King's consort, and the biggest thrill I get is milk turned sour in my tea. You hardly live up to your reputation oh Conan the brave.'

Conan got a lucky kick in on the Centaur's groin, who whimpered, and got to his feet, raised them up at Conan in defiance, and took off, back into the forest.

'You are hardly a man,' said the maiden, sitting down in her original spot, staring at Conan.

Conan, feeling his new bruises, sat down, looked around for a while to see if his adversaries were up for new action, but with them groaning in the forestscape, he stoked the fire, and looked at the maiden. 'We are bloody hard to please, aren't we, Aquilonian princess.'

The maiden smiled, and put the spider fang into the fireplace. 'I'm sure this will taste fine when baked properly.'

'Indeed,' replied Conan, as another evening passed in the underworld of the Never.

The End

The Darklight 8

Zanzan picked up the blade, examining it. 'It's lame guelge iron,' said the barbarian.

'Nay, can be used well enough with skill,' replied Conan, picking up the sword. 'Though it be hardened wood, it cuts heads well enough.'

'Lame,' replied Zanzan, and started rifling through the bag.

'Nothing but goblets of tin,' said the Maiden Gennavere. 'He drags me from the throneroom of Aquilonia for tin goblets. He is no King of Glory. He is a common scoundrel and thief. Daring adventure? Hardly.'

'Conan has had his days of glory,' said Zanzan, examining the goblets. 'These are fine Kareesh goblets, in actuality. Rastakar again, you say? He will be very annoyed at you by now. His tail has grown back, you know. Just like a lizard to do that.'

'I did notice it,' replied Conan. 'Sleeping there, too caught up in his dreaming fantasies to notice a Cimmerian and an Aquilonian steal in to steal away with his treasures.'

'Barely worth the effort,' stated Gennavere. 'The dragon was exciting though. Proud looking creature.'

Gennavere looked out through the window of the keep. They were on the upper level of a Kareesh keep in the heart of the Never, were guests paid money for residency, and drank Kareesh ale.

'They rested, it seems,' said Conan. 'But the Darklight only persisted a while, for they quenched it. Why is that?' Conan asked Zanzan, who had been in the Never a while since leaving Conan after the humiliation of the wizard Merdak.

'The Darklight is not neglected at all. There are – other – reasons they sought the Darklight Conan. It is redemption of sorts, not merely quenching the pains of their dark curse. It is something about the Darklight which is power in the Never. It builds this realm. It strengthens it and extends it in a way which seems unending. New worlds grow out beyond the deserts and the swamp lands. New worlds and lands which seemingly go on forever. And to twist and turn through that Never in adventure, verily I say, it would not end. All that could be the Darklight has within it in this place. It is a power in the Never which gives it its glory, which is what Merdak knew, and hid it from the Kareesh as he investigated its powers. But it would not work for him, the Kareesh told me, for it is eternally linked to the Never and not the world above.'

'So the Never is to be roamed,' said Conan.

'And where you lay your head is home, for it is an unending mystery,' replied Zanzan.

'Such is the meaning of life,' said Conan, and looked at Gennavere. 'Passion, you say? You are after some passion.'

'Oh, Conan. I thought you would never get around to it.'

But get around to it that evening Conan did, and he dreamed later of his precious Gennavere, but also of the Never, and its unending mystery, and the power the Darklight obviously gave to this strange and mysterious netherworld.

The End

The Darklight 9

'Run, Conan,' said the eery voice.

'Away with you wisp,' retorted the barbarian.

'We will catch you and drain your soul of its life essence,' said the wisp. 'And you will collapse and sink the remains of your soul down into the never, to rest forever.'

'Begone!' yelled Conan again, and the wisp retreated.

Conan continued his quick march through the Never, sure he had lost the Ape-like creatures in the swampy terrain. He'd found the creatures, and followed them at a distance, and when they were in the centre of their village around a fireplace, celebrating, he examined what appeared to be one of their shrines, a temple of sorts. A vulgar statue of an Ape was in the centre of the temple, but at its foot were skulls of gold, and Conan took two of them into his sack. But as he retreated back into the never swamps, their voices yelled at him, so he ran. And then the wisps started mocking him, yet again, tormenting him as he retreated to his campsite. He looked back and waited a while - in the distance he could hear them yelling, but they were far off. They had lost the trail. He continued on, and the glow in the world of the Never lit his way. Coming to a stream he sat, sipped some water, and took the skulls out of the sack.

'Ho, what strange mystery is this?' he quipped, looking at the skulls, which had turned a deep shade of red. 'These are hardly golden objects.' As he examined the skulls he noticed them gradually turning a deeper and deeper shade of red, till they were burgundy and eventually deep black. He could hear the sounds of the apes shouting in the distance, but they were no closer. Suddenly the skulls started speaking. One spoke:

'You are barbarian. This could be fun adventure.'

'He's probably an idiot,' said the other skull. 'We'll be bored witless with tales of his lustings and barbaric slayings.'

As Conan watched the two skulls spoke to each other, often mocking Conan and his barbarian ways.

'Enough of you two,' said Conan, and shoved the skulls back in the sack. He looked at the stream, thought briefly he would toss the skulls in there to get rid of them, but, nay. He had come this far on this sojourn, so would not return empty-handed for his troubles. He kept the skulls and, listening out for the apes, continued on his way, heading back to the keep, a lusty night with Gennavere, and a conversation with Zanzan about his two new, albeit weird, acquisitions.

The End