Conan Acheronian Edition
Child of Nergal
A creature of darkness the Nemedians bought an audience with
A creature of darkness and the night, the vampire stood six feet tall with an arrogant unease. His skin had taken a pale tone and golden glow played in his dark eyes. His personal capabilities remain unknown, but he obviously knew much about the secret shadows of the world.
“And so the word came southward. The night wind whispered it, the ravens croaked of it as they flew, and the grim bats told it to the owls and the serpents that lurk in hoary ruins. Were-wolf and vampire knew, and the ebon-bodied demons that prowl by night. The sleeping Night of the World stirred and shook its heavy mane, and there began a throbbing of drums in deep darkness, and the echoes of far weird cries frightened men who walked by dusk. For the Heart of Ahriman had come again into the world to fulfill its cryptic destiny.”
“From death to death it came, riding on a river of human blood. Blood feeds it, blood draws it. Its power is greatest when there is blood on the hands that grasp it, when it is wrested by slaughter from its holder. Wherever it gleams, blood is spilt and kingdoms totter, and the forces of nature are put in turmoil.” (Hour of the Dragon, REH)
In the city of Eruk in Shem, the Nemedians seeked information about Nefertari and the strange marks they had received in their inn room. They were directed to the temple of Nergal, the god of death. The whispering priests arranged a night meeting in an oasis outside the city walls for a small amount of gold. They warned that the person they would meet – “a Child of Nergal” – would require further payment for information.
In the desert night the Nemedians met and parlayed with a creature of darkness. He was not interested in gold or silver. Thus they gave him the seeds of an emerald lotus they had encountered in Stygia in exchange for information. The Child immediately recognized the marks of Yajur. He told the Nemedians how they had been warned by the Red Hands of Yajur. In a month they would be attacked by the cult assassins, which would spend the time till then to observe their marks for weaknesses. On a whim, Noam asked the creature of Thoth Amon, a reputed prince of wizards. Of the dread sorcerer, even the Child dared not to speak, fearing he would hear the mention of his name.
Of the Cult of the Golden Lord he knew some, but dared not to tell all. With a whispering voice, the Child told how the Golden Masks had slowly made their way from the distant east to the Hyborian kingdoms. Swiftly they changed hands, but a strange and destructive will guided their way all the way from Khitai. Men and women wearing the gold were but puppets for the will behind the masks. The Child knew Nefertari or had at least heard of her. He laughed a cold, dead laugh as the Nemedians suspected her to be part of the cult. Nefertari serves none but herself, the Child explained and is a lone wolf driven by strange ambitions. She was a very dangerous adversary, but hampered by her utter arrogance and belief in her invincibility.
Finally the Nemedians asked of the war they had partaken – of Xaltotun and the strange sacrophagus they had seen onboard the Stygian galley. Smiling, the vampire burst in to a monologue about the Heart of Ahriman, an artifact of an ancient power and how all creatures of the night sensed when it returned to the world. Xaltotun, he explained, had been stolen from his final resting place under the Black Pyramids by Zamoran thieves. They all perished to the curses, but managed to deliver the sarcophagus to their employers. Then the fell sorcerer was brought back to life with the Heart of Ahriman. Now the Heart had disappeared from the world again, having spread chaos once more. Yet one day, perhaps…
The Nemedians left the Child of Nergal standing in the desert, a manic gleam in the eyes and the Heart of Ahriman in his mind.