Baskets of food had been brought in. Offered in tribute to something or other. To whatever-the-fuck was going on here. And was that a tray of jewels the people had put down before the ghostly apparition?. If it was thankful, it didn’t show. All the time Conan was aware of the glare behind that painted wooden mask. Bearing down on him. Sizing him up. TOUCHING HIM UP!
His villager guards had been replaced. Conan was kept down on his knees .. a pair of leather-clad muscle-heads with clubs loomed over him. That other conceited fucker that Conan still owed .. he had devoted himself to accepting the tributes. Disdainfully directing where to place it. And then with a dismissive sweep of his hand banishing the villagers from the shrine. No one, Conan noticed, was reluctant. They all scuttled away. Whatever went on here, it had these arseholes from the village running scared.
The thought popped into his head. In an instant Conan started to react. He was no man’s fucking sacrifice. He barged back against one of muscle-headed guards .. surprising him .. making him step back. Almost in the same moment, a club struck Conan across the back of his neck. He fell to one side. Not his moment to escape. Not yet …….
Conan was dropping smoothly down a hole in the ground. The mob that had grabbed him had been sent scurrying from the shrine. But not before they had dragged in baskets of food. And had offered a large tray full of jewels. Their gifts accepted. But their presence no longer wanted. Sent scuttling away.
Bound hand and foot, Conan could only struggle when Leather-man’s henchmen dragged him towards the gaping mouth. A rope was fastened to his tied ankles. Then the rope was yanked, Conan fell, he plumped down hard on his arse. Before he knew it, he was up in the air, swinging upside down, hung by his feet.
Being lowered. Inside that yawning mouth was a hole in the rock floor. A gaping black hole. For a moment he sensed panic. Quickly his head twisted and turned .. to understand. Briefly glancing a pair of leather-clad men turning a drum. Lowering him .. the rope on his feet .. upside down .. lowering Conan into some hole in the ground.
Then they disappeared .. beyond the rim of the hole. Tense, Conan craned his neck back .. looking downwards. Descending .. lowered upside down into this chute in the ground. Nothing below. Nothing visible. Darkness. Utter blackness beneath him. Swallowing him up.
He tensed. A sacrifice! Feeling the rope biting into his ankles .. slowly lowering him. To what? The dimness of light above gradually disappearing. The blackness beneath enveloping him.
He was trying to piece this together …. Something about the “lunar sacrifice”. Recalling the nervousness of his captors .. wanting to get away. . They’d waylaid him, they had offering him up .. their offering as lunar sacrifice. But the way they’d scuttled away …… they’d been scared. Something here frightened them. Fearful of what it was they were condemning him to …..? Afraid it might come for them….? What monster could have them so afraid?
Slowly .. with ominous certainty .. Conan kept being lowered. What was down there? What had them frightened? What was lurking in the darkness .. about to pounce on him. Defenceless, trussed up like a chicken for the pot. The veritable lamb to the slaughter.
Totally enveloped in blackness. Nervousness knotted in his gut. He’d face anything down. But like this ….? Nothing above. Nothing around. But something scary below. Craning his neck backwards, Conan saw below only gaping blackness. The “lunar sacrifice” was being offered into total darkness. Sacrificed to what? What-the fuck! What the hell!