Synopsis for “The Blood of Bel-Hissar!”
Conan’s journey away from Makkalet is stalled when he comes across a woman being attacked by burly desert man. Conan leaps to her rescue, but the battle is interrupted by Yezdigerd’s men. Conan grabs the girl and escapes on his horse, with the desert man riding behind him. They come across a fortress in the desert, and a gate opens to let them in, slamming shut on the Turanian riders. A horde of armed men greet Conan, who wisely decides surrender is the best option. Conan, the desert man (a mute from Khitai named Turghol) and the woman, who turns out to be Turghol’s slave, Suwaan, are taken to a feast hall where they discover all the men here are outcasts and bandits under the rule of the outlaw Skol Abdhur. The mere fact a woman is in the area ignites passions, and a fight breaks out that is fatally ended by Abdhur, who tolerates no disrespect. Abdhur is friendly with Conan and explains he keeps the men in check with a ruby, the Blood of Bel-Hissar. Should another man slay him and take it, that man would become a target, so the outlaws are content to let Abdhur play them against each other. That night, Conan hopes to spend the evening with Suwaan, but she drugs him, and when he awakens, he finds Abdhur and his men dead and the ruby missing. Conan leads a group of outlaws deep into the fortress, where they find the girl; to Conan’s surprise, she fingers him as the thief. Conan fights his way through the crowd, and is pulled through a secret passage by Turgohl. The mute leads Conan outside the fortress and they make their escape. Conan is confused until Turghol pulls the Blood of Bel-Hissar from his pocket. Conan realizes that Suwaan had intended to betray them both, but Turghol had managed to snatch the ruby for himself. Suwaan, however, remains at the mercy of outlaws who have not seen a woman for some period of time. Conan contemplates fighting Turghol for the ruby, but decides it’s not worth the trouble and takes his leave.