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Her ghost in the fog Dawn discovered Her there Beneath the Cedar's stare Silk dress torn, Her raven hair Flown to gown Her beauty bared Was starred with frost, I knew Her lost I wept 'til tears crept back to prayer She'd sworn Me vows in fragrant blood "Never to part Lest jealous Heaven stole our hearts" Then this I screamed: "Come back to Me I was born in love with thee So why should fate stand inbetween?
The breeze stank of sunset and camphor My lantern chased Her phantom and blew Their Chapel ablaze and all locked in to a pain Best reserved for judgement that their bible construed Her ghost in the fog Her ghost in the fog 5. Bewinged, infested belfries Toll o'er the sobbing throng A writhe of lethargic, terrored nudes Whipped and welted neath the barbed windsong I am He The crowned and conquering darkness Satan robed in ecumenical filth Livid Bacchus sustained by bridal echelons of sylph This wintry eve when the snow glistens deep And sharpened turrets wed the jewelless skies I shrug off the shroud of preternatural sleep Enbroided by these words Malaresia scribed This catafalque night when awed stars report Their absence from the heavenly brow Crippled seraph shalt cower in illustrious courts Whilsts the cloaked maelstrom resounds throughout "How the storm it fulfills My heart though unhealed Celestial knifes ebonied And wild woods thrill Yet far fiercer still Her lustre eviscerates me" Carpathia Priapic lovers twist in concert with Her Covenants are struck, jagged lightning fellates The path towards the castle weary innocence takes I rule as Master here Where feral hordes impart my temper Love sank wounded when I, betrayed saw death etch cruelly, upon my lineage "Usher the spite seething Draconist And commit this world to thy ancient sovereignty" Erunescent veil descend Psalmed sunset thus portends And laid to rest, I now am blessed With this darkness Forever more Supreme Vampiric Evil 6.
For if I shall see thy Will be done Grant Me the Witchcraft of thy tongue" Three moondials froze in the shadow of six As another soul passed to the grasping Styx Clutching their trinket crucifix Bats blew from eaves in a dissonant surge Omens of corruption from within the church A fetid, dank oasis still clung to fool rebirth Alone as a stone cold altar The castle and its keep Like faerytale dominion rose A widow to the snow peaks Wherein reclined the Countess Limbs purring from the kill Bathed in virgin white and like the night Alive and young and unfulfilled Was it the cry of a wolf That broke the silver thread of enchanted thoughts?
Of Her life as a mere reflection As the moon's in narrow windows caught That opened like dark eyelids on The sigh of the woods that the wind fell upon Like a Siren weaving song From the lilt of choirs choking Where the vengeful dead Belong To the Sorceress and Her charnel arts She swept from ebon towers at the hour of Mars 'Neath a star-inwoven sky latticed by scars To unbind knotted reins that kept in canter, despair Shod on melancholy, fleet to sanctuary there, In netherglades tethered where onyx idols stared Was it the Kiss of the mist That peopled the air with the prowess of absinthe?
Lost souls begging resurrection From Gods upon their forest plinths Whose epitaphs read of re-ascending to win Remission from despair through a holocaust of sin In a tongue hilted in invective rectums Over signs and seals the sorceress prayed To Death, to rend the slender veil That Ancient Ones might rise again As shadows swelled The Countess fell To masturbating with Her dagger As the Witch gabbled spells Cumming heavy roses all the way to Hell As sudden thunder's grue harangue Announced two pincered worlds Exuding bane, something came With the stench of necrophiled graves To these clandestines Who shrank from glimpsing horror That the growls of mating houls inclined Resplendent In pendants Natal trophies torn from bellies of desanctified nuns A demons, bewinged, bedight In scum, prowled their circle seeking entry to run An arctic tongue upon Her vulva Where rubies smeared to alabaster thighs Glittered like a contract in the purse of a whore Receiving sole communion from the body of christ "If blood is what thou carves, foul fiend I will yield this witch to thee If thou wouldst draw a veil for Me O'er lengthening scars of age and grief" As the Demon slavered foetid vows And bore His prey away In talons itching to perpetrate The nausea of eternal rape The Sorceress screaming in His grasp Spat a final curse to stain The Countess with the promise That Her lord at war would be cruelly slain And She would rot.
Alone Insane. On the twisted nails of faith. Sickle constellations Stud the belts that welt the sky Whilst the bitter winter moon Prowls the cloud, dead-eyed Like shifting parent flesh Under silk matricide As devils bay concensus for the space to piss On your smouldering faith And the mouldering face Of this world long a paradise lost This is the end of everything Hear the growing chora that a new dawn shall bring Danse macabre 'neath the tilt of the zodiac Now brighter stars shall reflect on our fate What sick nativities will be freed When those lights burn black? The darkside of the mirror always threw our malice back I see the serpentine in your eyes The nature of the beast as revelations arrive Our screams shall trail to Angels For those damned in flames repay All sinners lose their lot on Judgement Day We should have cut our looses as at Calvary But our hearts like heavy crosses held the vain belief Salvation, like a promised nation Gleamed a claim away This is the end of everything Rear the tragedies That the Seraphim shall sing Old adversaries Next to Eve Now they're clawing back I smell their cumming As through webbed panes of meat Led by hoary Death They never left Dreaming sodomies To impress on human failure When we've bled upon our knees Tablatures of gravel law Shall see Gehennah paved When empires fall And nightmares crawl From the cradle to enslave This is the end of everything 8.
The scars will last until the stars Caught in Her train bewitched Fall into line and yeild the sign That Dawn in born to their eclipse For Our Inhumankind Comes an underdog day Sunrise Rippling with fire llike femaledition Wind amidst the flame I gazed out Tapped into the fog and shared her pain When in her mind she sought his leave And begged forgiveness I splintered Her coffin and lay on the floor Of a vault with Her clasped as the moon hugs the shore What treachery this that She breathed no more?
Christ you bastard! I wished Her back but the dead adored Her Even wild winds sang in chora for Her Saffron from my heart, from the start I swore We'd be together more Creation froze with the triumph of Death But still She stirred and awoke bereft Of concern save for the aeons left To lead the darkness She schemes of growing power and the lengths Sucked hard to get it I dream of being God but ever living to regret it Our fecund nature decrees that Jesus wept come for The Devil on Her knees To grant Her lows a remedy And mine desire's wish To taste thereof of Heaven's scent As sick and twisted as it is For Her corset laced with arsenic Hides snake curves within Her midst Whilst Her halo of white lies supplies Her temple to what God forbids.
I am assailed by a spectre profounder Than hatred and grief or the sum of their hideous crime I shalt suffer this confessional mime Awaiting the sun to set, crimsoning seas Only once it is dark doth my misery cease She died to a sky dressed in flame Eyes full of curses for her killers by choice Who fell to their god o'er her vision and voice "I am as dusk come to ravish the light" Steal me from their stares and mute christ into night "I will answer thy prayers" If thou Wouldst drink of my life All crimes should be treasured If they bring thee pleasure somehow Maleficent in dusky rose Gathered satin lapped Her breasts Like blood upon the snow A tourniquet of Topaz Glistened at Her throat Awakening, pulled from the tomb Her spirit freed eclipsed the moon That She outshone as a fallen star A regal ornament from a far flung nebular Her likeness hung in the black gallery Commanding unease Demanding of Death to breathe Midst the whirl and daylight fauna Of society at court Elizabeth bedazzled, Her presence sought applause Though Her torchlit shadow Thrown upon damp cellar walls Greeted nothing but despair from slaves Her nights enthralled Thirteen Winter solstices had shown Her path, that the dark Had marked its dominion Spaying the confessor Whose caresses she'd known, As whipcord in the House of Dog Her cold cunt meat on holy bone Raped of faith, She now embraced The narcissistic unrest frozen on the mirror's face With this disdain, inside these veins Highborn wanton that She was She sought to keep what age would claim Her soul was sold and for this toll Reeking pyres ever smouldered On the whims of one so in control Elizabeth, mysterious.
Leaving serpents in office Inside every gate To lick righteous holes Blinding Lords to the fate Of virgins forced naked To defile on rent knees Hacked and racked backwards Menses choking their pleas "More. Twitching make me wet with thee Carcass rub me raw" Nostalgia grows Now times nine or ten Within this vice den called a soul Dying resurrection I dig deep to come again The spasm of orgasm on a roll I live the slow serrated rape The bucks fizz of amyl nitrate Victims force fed thair own face Tear stains upon the drape I should compare them To a warm Summer's day But to the letter, it is better To lichen their names to a grave Counting My years on an abacus strung With labial rings and heartstrings undone Dub Me Lord Abortion, the living dead The bonesaw on the backseat On this bitter night of giving head A sharp rear entry, an exit in red Lump in the throat, on My come choke The killing joke worn thin with breath Horrorscopes My diorama A twelve part so far psychodrama Another chained I mean to harm Her Inside as well as out A perverts gasp inside the mask I'm hard, blow My house of cards All turn up Death, Her bleeding starts In brute vermillion parts Now I slither through the hairline cracks In sanity, best watch your back Possessed with levering Hell's gates wide Liberating knives to cut Humanity slack My ambition is to slay anon A sinner in the hands of a dirty God Who lets Me prey, a Gilles De Rais Of light where faith leads truth astray I slit guts guts and free the moistest facces Corrupt the corpse and seize the choicest pieces Her alabaster limbs that dim the lit carnal grin Vaginal skin to later taste and masturbate within "My heart was a wardrum beat By jugular cults in eerie jungle vaults When number thirteen fell in My lap Lips and skin like sin, a Venus Mantrap My appetite whetted, storm crows wheeled At the blurred edges or reason 'til I was fulfilled Whors d'oeuvres eaten, I tucked Her into A grave coffin fit for the Queen of Spades She went out like the light in My mind Her face an avalanche of pearl, of ruby wine And stare, and stare, and stare, and stare.
And yet H. Certainly, they seem less offensive now than they did forty years ago. Remarkable individuals often do have flaws commensurate with their stature. Imagine John Lennon beating the snot out of friend and fellow band member Stu Sutcliffe. Henry Ford was a notorious anti-Semite, as was Richard Wagner. Woodrow Wilson was an unreconstructed Southerner with all the racist views that went along with it. Thomas Edison had a reputation for unscrupulous business practices and cheating important colleagues like Nikola Tesla.
Narrowing our focus to notable literary figures, it is disconcerting to learn that Charles Dickens was a xenophobe who subjected his wife to extreme mental cruelty. Sylvia Plath, like many another writer, was suicidal --so much so that she took her life even though she was abandoning two small children. Oz creator L. Frank Baum once advocated the extermination of American Indians.
Both Hamsun and Pound were formally charged with treason. Possibly because there are no Cantos role-playing games. Unfortunately, Lovecraft is to some extent a victim of his own popularity and posthumous success. Lovecraft was in good --or bad-- company, depending on your point of view. Lovecraft would not be the same man, or the same writer, without the rough edges. And now for the big one. If this whole essay consisted of just this one point, it would be more than enough.
It really renders my first eight excuses superfluous. But the bottom line is this: what looms larger in the big picture? Is it tasteless comments and faulty reasoning expressed to friends and relatives? And, yes, the former does have something to do with the latter. Lovecraft routinely vents his spleen on more than just the usual suspects blacks and Jews.
Nor does he stop with the squalling Italians and jabbering Portuguese. Recognizing Lovecraft as a xenophobe does alter our estimation of him somewhat.
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Rather, he was seriously troubled by a sense of fear and revulsion that was deeply rooted in the core of his personality. Possibly, he is more deserving of pity than contempt. No one is likely to mistake either of these for kindly gentlemen. Lovecraft, on the other hand, seems to me not truly a bigot, but a man with a bigot on his back. The notion of bigotry as a kind of personal demon is by no means exclusive to Lovecraft. We can admire individuals for their accomplishments without condoning everything they do. It is largely a matter of degree that determines how reprehensible the presence of racism is in an individual, since it is hard to do away with it completely.
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Everyone is prey to fear and insecurity, and these are the natural manure of intolerance. Nowhere is this more true than in regard to sex. Sex is the true litmus test for vestigial racism among basically tolerant, easy-going males. Howard, cuts to the heart of the matter in one of his reincarnation fantasies, making this bold statement: A man is no better and no worse than his feelings regarding the women of his blood, which is the true and only test of racial consciousness.
A man will take to himself the stranger woman, and sit down at meat with the stranger man, and feel no twinges of race-consciousness. It is only when he sees the alien man in possession of, or intent upon, a woman of his blood, that he realizes the difference in race and strain. So I, who had held women of many races in my arms, who was blood brother to a Pictish savage, was shaken to mad fury at the sight of an alien laying hands upon a woman of the Aesir.
Sounds like something touched a nerve. We also detect a little bit of a double standard here. I should point out that Howard, though he did make use of racial stereotypes, was also capable of portraying blacks and other ethnics sympathetically. In the thirties, this was a rather rare quality among Southerners, and even some New Englanders. I cite the paragraph above to call attention to a common, if not universal, male insecurity.
This particular prejudice is common to all males, regardless of their ethnicity. It has to do with competition for females, which reaches back to the dawn of time. It must, therefore, be regarded in some sense as innate and instinctive, as Howard seems to suggest in the above passage. Only social conditioning can serve to alleviate this tendency. I mention all this because it lies at the root of the concept of miscegenation. The term is not heard so much today, but it was bandied about freely in Nineteenth Century America.
Lovecraft was most definitely familiar with it. The Nazis got considerable mileage out of crude caricatures of troll-like Jews slavering over golden-haired Rhine maidens. Of course, the double standard decrees that women of other races are fair game. A white man lying with a black woman is having an adventure; a black man lying with a white woman threatens the pillars of civilization. This is no mere digression as far as HPL is concerned. However, he did buy heavily into the belief that miscegenation posed a ghastly threat to the white race and Western civilization.
They represent a nightmare of miscegenation. Readers will recall that the Innsmouth natives begin life as more-or-less normal looking humans. Finally, they complete their metamorphosis into full-blown Deep Ones, leaving the land behind to dwell in the depths of the ocean. Lovecraft considered the malign suspension of natural law the most terrible conception of the human brain. With the Deep Ones, we see evolution itself thrown into reverse. Life began in the oceans, slowly migrated onto land, and developed into complex organisms. The Deep One hybrids start out on land and return to the sea.
The life-cycle of natural amphibians begins with the water-breathing tadpoles that mature into air-breathing frogs and salamanders. The people of Innsmouth start out human, then devolve into sea creatures. The human fetus passes through an early stage in which vestigial gills are present, then vanish. The spawn of human and Deep One does not ultimately take after the human parent.
In the end, humanity is only made monstrous. But wait. These alien beings are possessed of an intelligence that is foreign to us, so much so that their mindset, objectives, and place in the universe are all utterly incompatible with our own. Sound familiar? To read Lovecraft is to evoke the gripping dread of paranoia. It was, therefore, germane to his art. For this reason, it should not be glossed over by scholars. Many commentators, due to their personal fondness for HPL, tiptoe around his xenophobia unless it is simply unavoidable. Intellectually, there is no need for such coyness.
Since at least some of his racist paranoia was sublimated into his art, it requires no apology. Later that same year he composed "The Call of Cthulhu," inaugurating the cycle of fully-realized cosmic horrors upon which his literary reputation rests. Interestingly, as Lovecraft's cosmic horror becomes more cogently expressed in fiction, his racist views begin to mellow and abate.
Rather, I see it as an example of anxiety and aggression being channeled into a positive creative outlet. And that should be enough to quiet the voices of indignation. Could Robert E. Could H. Better we never find out. This is possibly one of the most insightful dramatic works ever televised. In it, a teleportation accident splits Captain Kirk into two beings, one good and one evil. The latter is a marshmallow, unable to make the harsh but necessary decisions that enable him to command. Consider the result of a similar experiment on Lovecraft. I certainly do not take bigotry itself lightly.
You may be a woman or you may be a man. You may be a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, a non-believer, or something else. But whatever the case, I absolutely guarantee that there are plenty of other people out there who would be very happy to see you dead because of it. Joshi, H. See note No. Posted by Charles Hoffman at PM 3 comments:. Wednesday, January 20, Robert E. Howard's Big Book of Revenge. Friday, October 2, Return to Xuthal. Copyright by Charles Hoffman. Many years later, I do not clearly recall why I postponed reading it when I first purchased Adventurer. As it happened, I first met Robert E.
Lost cities have been featured in many works of adventure fiction, most famously those of H. Rider Haggard and Edgar Rice Burroughs. At the turn of the 20th Century, Africa was still very much the Dark Continent, and both Haggard and Burroughs imagined its unexplored vastness to be honeycombed with the last surviving outposts of vanished civilizations. Robert E. In both stories, the societies within the cities are in decline. Howard frequently expressed the thesis that civilizations carry the seeds of their own destruction.
Xuthal and Xuchotl are both microcosms that enable the author to portray a civilization in its death throes.
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Their cultural decadence is emphasized by being shown from the perspective of the wilderness-bred Conan. I have already acknowledged my personal sentimental reasons for liking the story. Fear and Loathing in Xuthal The first noteworthy element of the story is its very title. Surely this proved a liability that further hindered appreciation of the story over the years. The next point of interest is a mere line drop away. The story opens: The desert shimmered in the heat waves.
Conan the Cimmerian stared out over the aching desolation and involuntarily drew the back of his powerful hand over his blackened lips. He stood like a bronze giant in the sand, apparently impervious to the murderous sun, though his only garment was a silk loin-cloth, girdled by a wide gold-buckled belt from which hung a saber and a broad-bladed poniard. On his clean-cut limbs were evidences of scarcely healed wounds. At his feet rested a girl, one white arm clasping his knee, against which her blond head drooped.
Her white skin contrasted with his hard bronzed limbs; her short silken tunic, low-necked and sleeveless, girdled at the waist, emphasized rather than concealed her lithe figure. Starting with this image of a battle-scarred titan in a loincloth, Frazetta fine-tuned some details, such as substituting a more characteristic broadsword for the saber, and so created both his own most famous painting and the depiction of Conan that influenced every subsequent illustration of the character. The first two tales featured Conan as the middle-aged king of Aquilonia, an adventurer who seized the throne from a tyrant.
The Conan series was off and running. In the story, Conan and his female companion, Natala, are survivors of a defeated army whose flight leads them to the lost city of Xuthal.
Charles Hoffman: Essays and Fiction
Xuthal is located in a vast desert south of the proto-Egyptian realm of Stygia and the black kingdom of Kush. It is my opinion that in the Hyborian Age maps featured in various Conan volumes, the southern lands, Stygia and the black countries, are not to scale. Conan and Natala explore the eerie walled city, finding it seemingly deserted and haunted by some strange menace. The mysteries of Xuthal are explained when they meet a stunningly beautiful woman called Thalis.
Thalis is not a native of Xuthal, but a Stygian who arrived there as a young girl. The Xuthalians simply accept this gruesome state of affairs with a complacent fatalism.
Thalis opines that this is not so different from the human sacrifices practiced in her native Stygia. Wry comments such as this are much more typical of latter day heroes such as James Bond or Dirty Harry. Howard delineated a new type of hero —cool, supremely confident, with more than a hint of ruthlessness and sinister menace.
Tough and lethal, ever ready for a brawl, the badass has more in common with the hard, dangerous enemies he fights than any candy-ass types he might end up protecting. It comes as no surprise that Thalis, having tired of her city-bred lovers, is attracted to Conan. She therefore attempts to get rid of Natala --but not before tying her up and whipping her. To the readers of Weird Tales , Thalis the Stygian was the first femme fatale to appear in a Conan story.
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Thalis, on the other hand, is a jaded sophisticate, and the femmes fatale who subsequently appear in the series —Akivasha, Salome, and Tascela- are brunette sybarites who resemble her so closely that they could all be members of the same clique. In fact, the next of these ubervixens Howard wrote of, Akivasha, so nearly mirrors Thalis that she, too, is a Stygian princess.
She was tall, lithe, shaped like a goddess; clad in a narrow girdle crusted with jewels. A burnished mass of night-black hair set off the whiteness of her ivory body…The Cimmerian had never seen such a woman; her facial outline was Stygian, but she was not dusky-skinned like the Stygian women he had known; her limbs were like alabaster. Her ivory skin showed her to be Stygian of some ancient noble family, and like all such women she was tall, lithe, voluptuously figured, her hair a great pile of black foam, among which gleamed a sparkling ruby.
The provocative dream-like image of an alluring woman framed in a doorway or passageway, as though poised on some mysterious threshold, seems uncannily resonant. Compared to Natala, heroines like Octavia and Sancha are like Amazons. Wandering through Xuthal with Conan, Natala is at all times timid and easily spooked. When they discover food and drink, Natala worries that they may anger someone by helping themselves, even though she and Conan are dying of hunger and thirst. A sex kitten character like Yasmela may not be much help to Conan, but Natala is explicitly shown to be a downright hindrance.
Early in the story, when they are stranded in the desert, Conan actually considers putting Natala to death as an act of kindness: [Conan] had not come to the limits of his endurance, but he knew that another day under the merciless sun in those waterless wastes would bring him down. As for the girl, she had suffered enough. Better a quick painless sword-stroke than the agony that faced him. Interestingly, Thalis, like Conan, also regards Natala as less than an equal in terms of her fitness to survive. Rather than the wilderness, however, it is the urban perils of Xuthal that Thalis declares Natala unfit to face.
They will put her through paces she never dreamed of! This point is emphatically reinforced. She resisted weakly. Natala, the fair, is meek but good-hearted. Thalis, the dark, is haughty and cruel. In the whipping scene, they represent different sides of the same coin: top and bottom, dominant and submissive. With a Stygian host on its heels, it had cut its way through the black kingdom of Kush only to be annihilated on the edge of the southern desert… From that final slaughter…Conan had cut his way clear and fled on a camel with the girl.
Behind them the land swarmed with enemies; the only way open to them was the desert to the south… For days they had fled into the desert, pursued so far by Stygian horsemen that when they shook off their pursuit, they dared not turn back. He and all his warriors perished in the desert, but one, before he died, placed me on a camel and walked beside it until he dropped and died in his tracks. The beast wandered on, and I finally passed into delirium from thirst and hunger, and awakened in this city.
There the similarities between the two women end. Twisting her head, Natala saw Thalis unhook a jewel-handled whip from where it hung on the wall, near the ring. The lashes consisted of seven round silk cords, harder yet more pliant than leather thongs. With a hiss of vindictive gratification, Thalis drew back her arm, and Natala shrieked as the cords curled across her loins. The tortured girl writhed, twisted and tore agonizedly at the thongs which imprisoned her wrists…Every stroke evoked screams of anguish. The whippings Natala had received in the Shemite slave-markets paled to insignificance before this… 22 This may seem strong stuff for a magazine sold over the counter in Nevertheless, this very scene was depicted in full color on the September Weird Tales cover.
In a interview, Mrs. Although this was the first Brundage Weird Tales cover to depict a whipping scene, it was not the last. Lurid pulps like Terror Tales and Thrilling Mystery featured covers and stories that depicted grotesque acts of sadism in the tradition of the Grand Guignol Theater of Paris. His collection also included small press publications that could be considered soft-core erotica, such as An Amateur Flagellant: Experiences of Flagellation and A History of the Rod.
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A listing of additional titles for sale such as Painful Pleasures and Presented in Leather was found among his papers. This does seem to indicate something more than academic interest. Considering that REH was a physically vigorous young male with no regular sexual outlet and possessed of one of the most vivid imaginations on the planet, it would actually be surprising if he possessed no kinks whatsoever. Returning to the perils of Natala, we find things going from bad to worse.
Before long Thog returns for Natala: …A dark tentacle-like member slid about her body, and she screamed at the touch of it on her naked flesh. It was neither warm nor cold, rough nor smooth; it was like nothing that had ever touched her before, and at its caress she knew such fear and shame as she had never dreamed of.
All the obscenity and salacious infamy spawned in the muck of the abysmal pits of Life seemed to drown her in seas of cosmic filth. And in that instant she knew that whatever form of life this thing represented it was not a beast. To Howard, however, this sequence represents a kind of ultimate perversity. Boneless, Thog is a creature composed entirely of hungry flesh, essentially a monstrous roaming appetite. Dreaming or waking, their lives are filled with exotic ecstasies, beyond the ken of ordinary men.
However, Thog is also a step above the Xuthalians on the food chain, devouring and defiling them in the manner of a natural predator. We have already seen that Howard was ahead of the curve when it came to introducing sadomasochistic elements into pulp fiction. In depicting Natala being violated by Thog, he was a good half-century ahead of his time.
The only thing even remotely resembling this in the pulps was to be found in the science fiction magazines. And again, this could not have influenced Howard. Mort Weisinger introduced the bug-eyed monster format when he became editor of Wonder Stories which then became Thrilling Wonder Stories with the August issue. Howard was dead by the time it appeared. All things considered, Natala was perfectly justified regarding her many forebodings of dread concerning Xuthal. And here too we see how Howard was ahead of his time as a purveyor of popular entertainment.
When Conan and Natala first enter the city, they find the gatekeeper lying motionless in the courtyard. Cold and lifeless upon examination, the supposedly dead man rises and attacks moments later. Later, Conan finds himself under attack by twenty swordsmen of Xuthal. Unskilled and inexperienced, they are no match for Conan as he slices through them and escapes. Taking this observation further, it is worth noting that the battle of a lone protagonist against numerous multiple attackers is the chief scenario of modern video games.
Though seemingly hopelessly outnumbered, the hero is possessed of great prowess while his opponents are comparatively lousy. The latter are like the walking dead in George Romero-type zombie movies —another modern violent entertainment—in that they are not all that dangerous one-on-one, but potentially lethal en masse.
In the end, of course, Conan prevails and rescues Natala. In other instances, however, Howard may have felt that he had failed to do justice to ideas with greater potential. In both stories, he is a member of the kozaks , marauders of the wastelands who prey on civilized outposts. However, in the former story, the power of the kozaks has been broken and Conan is first seen as a hunted fugitive hiding in swamps. In the latter tale, Conan is the chieftain of all the kozaks and a thorn in the side of the king himself. Here we see Howard reworking the story to give it more of a punch.
Howard could also revamp the concept of a previous story to create a purer subtext. In both stories Conan is a youthful thief at odds with civilized society. The action of each story takes place mostly indoors, within some sort of bizarre edifice where a strange creature is on the loose.