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 to use 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 arranged for Bunda Chand's assassination in order to lead an army across the mountains and conquer Vendhya in the resulting turmoil. His contact with the Black Seers, Khemsa, has fallen in love with Gitara, the devi's maid. The two decide on abandoning their previous agenda, execute the captured hillmen, follow Queen Yasmina, and kill her as well.
Conan escapes into an Afghuli village near the Zaibar Pass and Himelian Mountains (Hyborian equivalents of the
As they escape, the two encounter the Turanian army in battle with Conan's tribe of hillmen (who blame him for the death of their fellow captives). Despite their attitude, Conan feels obliged in assisting his tribe. However, he cannot abandon the Devi. His problem is resolved when a Vendhyan army, invading the mountains to rescue their Queen, arrives. Together, Conan with his Afghulis and Yasmina with her cavalry, they defeat the Turanian army. Conan leaves with the hillmen and Yasmine returns to her country.
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