“The Sword and the Serpent!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: John Buscema & Ernie Chan

Conan, Belit and Zula are escaping the palace in Luxor. They slaughter some guards and get to the secret underground passage. Only more guards are waiting since Neftha now King Ctesphon III knows of this passage. So Conan and company go down a passage that the guards are forbidden to enter. Thoth-Amon stopped the guards because he wants his minions to get Conan. Soon after Neftha assumed the throne he visits her and gets her support to make him her advisor. She will also cast down all the other wizards to make him supreme in Stygia. But first he has to kill Conan and his friends.

Conan and the group stop for a nap. During this time a giant snake with a medusa head uses hypnosis to lure Belit to it. Zula who has some wizard training is immune to the creature’s hypnosis. Zula kills it. Later a rockslide separates Conan. Belit and Zula come to rescue him but these are not his friends. They are serpent-men who can shape shift. Luckily Conan discovers this in time and kills them. When his real friends show up he has them say the magic words ‘Ka Nama Kaa Lajeramma!” Words from the time of Kull that no serpent-man can handle. Right after that they meet M’gora and the Corsairs. Only Conan knows they are fake and uses the words to drive them off. The three reach the surface next to the river Styx. A trade boat is nearby and hopefully the three can find passage to the sea.

Conan and company now have to escape from Luxor. Their first part of the journey is through the underground catacombs. Here they fight the various snake creatures of Thoth-Amon. Thoth-Amon has taken advantage of the new regime change to consolidate his own power. Also Zula finds out that the guy that sold him into slavery is in Shem with Belit’s uncle. So a convenient way to get out of the promise to go to Kheshatta. Roy has decided to get to the main quest for Belit’s vengeance and not bog down into another side trip in Stygia. An enjoyable story filled with excitement and intrigue in the Stygian court.

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