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.Theman was called Conan, and the slanting rays of the setting sun reflectedfrom smoldering blue eyes framed by a thick, black square-cut mane thattouched wide, heavy shoulders.Conan wore the hastily tanned hide of awolf over his brawny back, short leathern breeches, and sandals withthongs that laced up around his muscular calves.The chilly mountain airnipped at the places where his skin lay bare, but he ignored the coldstoically.After the confinement of the vast underground system of theBlack Cave in which he and his then companions almost died a dozentimes, the open air was welcome, no matter what its temperature.He was bound for Zamora, for the wicked city of Shadizar, wherein heintended to ply what he hoped would be the lucrative trade of thief.It wassaid that a quick wit, a strong arm, and a sharp blade were all a manneeded to survive in Shadizar.Add to that a light touch and quick feet,and genuine prosperity could supposedly be had.Conan meant to find outif this was true.He was young, but his short life had given him a wealth ofexperience and he stood ready to add material wealth to his experience.The trip thus far had taken much longer than he had thought it would;the gods kept putting obstacles in his path, albeit that some of them wereattractive women, and his adventures had been more than a little perilous.Necromancers and wizards and monsters had bedeviled Conan—like mosthonest men, he had no use for magic—and between the beautiful desertwoman Elashi, the long-dead zombie woman Tuanne, and the evil witchmistress of the caves, Chuntha, his desire for women of late had been morethan slaked.He was alone again, and happy for it.The path took a sharp turning to the right a few steps below whereConan walked, and from around that turn came a noise.It was small, the sound barely enough for the Cimmerian's sharp ears todiscern, but he stopped his progress immediately and drew the ancientblued-iron sword ensheathed at his side.The blade was solid and heavy,the hilt unadorned leather wrapping over the metal tang, and it had costConan a bout with a long-dead warrior who had been reduced to a livingskeleton.The blade was of razor sharpness, kept so by Conan's applicationof whetstones after even the smallest usage.Gripping the sword in two hands, after the manner of the warriorpriests he had met in a mountain temple, Conan moved along the path,taking great care to avoid dislodging any of the small stones littering thehard ground.The sound could mean nothing, a rock contracting in thecold or a small animal scurrying about chasing an insect, but Conan hadnot survived this long in a dangerous world by taking foolish chances.Crom was his god, and Crom gave a man a measure of strength and wit atbirth, then left the rest up to him.Any of Crom's children who failed to useboth gifts properly need not waste breath trying to call for the god's help.Keeping close to the wall of rock that bounded the path on the right,Conan reached the edge of the turn.Raising the sword so that it would notbetray his presence, he quickly stepped around the corner and brought theblade down again, pointed at throat level.Just ahead the path widened considerably where the mountain hadbeen worn away by time and weather, and in the deep cleft of rock stood ahalf-naked woman with a long spear, her back to the stone, half-encircledby five man-sized dragons.A sixth dragon lay on its back nearby in a largepool of what Conan supposed was its own ichor.Clutched in its claws wasa scrap of cloth that seemed to match the breechclout that was now thespearwoman's sole garment.The cloth had been a costly trophy for the giant lizard, so it wouldseem.Conan's recent adventures were much in his mind, so much so that hisfirst thought upon viewing the scene in front of him was: Oh, no.Another woman.The greenish-gray-scaled dragons stood upright, had long tails, pointedsnouts and yellow eyes, and were not without peripheral vision.Thenearest one either saw or smelled or heard the Cimmerian and flicked aglance in the man's direction.So still was Conan that the thing lookedback toward its female prey, then snapped its attention to Conan a secondtime.It made a burbling hiss, drawing the gazes of the other dragons.Conan wondered how fast they were.Could he turn and flee withoutbeing caught? Well, likely not, the path being rather steep around theturn, and besides, there was the woman.Now that he looked closer, hecould see bloody gouges on one of her shoulders, doubtless put there bythe thing that had stolen her garment, and despite his danger, Conan hadtime to notice that the shoulder was well rounded and firm, and the breastnext to it also well rounded and firm.Indeed, the woman's torso was moremuscular than most women's he had seen, sinews shifting under thetanned skin as she shifted the spear in her grasp [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]