The People of the Black Circle
"The People of the Black Circle" is one of the original
It's set in the pseudo-historical
The death of Bunda Chand, emperor of Vendhya, (via a curse channeled through Chand's soul with a lock of his own hair) leads to the ascension of his sister, Devi Yasmina, who vows to exact vengeance on his killers, the Black Seers of Yimsha. Meanwhile, Conan has become chief in a tribe of Afghuli hillmen. Seven of his warriors have been captured by the Vendhyans and Yasmina intends on using the hillmen as collateral to force Conan into killing her enemies. However, Conan infiltrates the fortress where his men are imprisoned and kidnaps Yasmina instead (with the intent of exchanging her for his seven men). Inside his subterranean temple, Yimsha agrees on an alliance with Kerim Shah, a mercenary working for King Yezdigerd of Turan, who had arranged for Bunda Chand's assassination so he could conquer Vendhya in the resulting turmoil. However, a man named Khemsa, who was Kerim Shah's contact with the Black Seers, has fallen in love with the devi's maid Gitara. These two abandon their previous agenda, execute the captured hillmen, and pursue Queen Yasmina to kill her as well.
Conan escapes into an Afghuli village near Zhaibar Pass and the Himelian Mountains (Hyborian equivalents of
Soon after, Kerim Shah and a tribe of Irakzais (
Though they are strongly attracted to each other, the affair between Conan and Yasmina never gets beyond some kissing. Their respective roles pull them in opposite directions - she is Queen of Vendhiya, he's leader of nomadic hillmen engaged in constant robbery against Yasmina's domain. In the original Howard stories, they never meet again. In the 1957 novel