Synopsis for “The Lurker Within!”
Conan comes across a spoiled woman, Lady Aztrian, under attack by wolves. He chases the animals off and, in order to safely pass through Numalia’s city gates, accompanies the woman as her chariot driver. After a brief run-in with the owner of the Hall of Relics, Kallian, and the guardsman Dionus, Aztrian reveals she has heavy gambling debts, and asks Conan to break into the Hall of Relics and steal a treasure recently brought to the city by Stygians for Karanthes, priest of Ibis. Conan is intrigued and that night sneaks into the museum only to find Kallian dead and the golden bowl, which contained the treasure, empty. Conan is discovered and held by Arus, a watchman at the House of Relics, who quickly summons the guard. Demetrio and Dionus of the guard arrive, and soon Aztrian as well, and she wastes no time in blaming Conan for the mess. A scream interrupts everything as a broken, maddened, and dying Arus stumbles out of an adjoining room. The others rush into the locked room, and find it in shambles. A golden mask on the wall with snakes for hair entices Aztrias to approach it, and the mask, in reality the face of a gruesome serpent, bursts from the wall. Demetrio and Aztrias are killed, and as Conan fights the beast, he realizes the Stygians had discovered this “god in the bowl” and sent it to destroy the priest of Ibis, a plan ruined when Kallian peeked inside the bowl and released the creature early. Conan finally bludgeons the monster to death and steals a look inside the bowl himself. He sees the frightening visage of Thoth-Amon staring back at him. Unnerved, Conan flees Numalia.