Synopsis for “The Hand of Nergal!”
The legions of Munthassem Khan face the newest recruit into the army of King Yildiz of Turan, Conan. He fights through swaths of men, gaining the high ground, leaving a trail of corpses behind him. Unfortunately, the Turanians are attacked by giant bat-monsters, and Conan survives only by virtue of his seemingly harmless amulet, which frightens the creature away. Conan is the only survivor of the battle, and he stumbles away, coming across an unconscious girl. When she awakes, she reveals that she was in fact looking for him, sent by her master Atalis the Far-Seeing. Conan is wary, as Atalis lives in Yaralet, stronghold of the Khan he was just fighting, but since he seems to be out of a job, he decides to accompany the girl, Hildico. They enter the house just as Atalis and Prince Thann are discussing him. Atalis reveals that the Khan had all wizards in the city slain, but cursed the philosopher Atalis and Thann with bouts of pain and blindness. Khan had been a magnanimous ruler until he was given the Hand of Nergal, an object of evil that brought darkness to the lands. Only the bearer of the counter-talisman, the Heart of Tammuz, which Conan happens to have around his neck, can end the curse. All this Atalis has seen in his crystal ball. Conan accompanies Atalis and Thann into the sewers and into the Khan’s throne room, where the emaciated ruler lies in wait, grasping the Hand of Negral. The Khan sends wave of pain to the philosopher and the Prince, and then at Conan himself, who is unable to fight through the pain. Suddenly, Hildico runs from behind a pillar, snaps the amulet from around Conan’s neck, and hurls it at the mad Khan, hitting him in the face and causing him to drop the Hand. Conan, Atalis and Thann are immediately well again, and watch as the two artifacts release the essence of ancient colossal beings of light and darkness, who begin their eternal struggle anew. The being of light from the Heart of Tammuz wins the battle. After a week of relaxation, Conan itches to travel back to Turan again, but this time in the company of Hildico.