The Phoenix on the Sword
|"The Phoenix on the Sword"|
|Publisher||Rural Publishing Corporation|
|Publication date||December 1932|
"The Phoenix on the Sword" is one of the original
It is noteworthy that the very first Conan story depicts him as a king—which means that when writing later stories placed earlier in Conan's life, as a thief, pirate, mercenary etc., Howard (and his readers) already knew that the character was ultimately destined to become a king.
"The Phoenix on the Sword" begins with a middle-aged Conan of Cimmeria attempting to govern the turbulent kingdom of
Conan has recently seized the crown of Aquilonia from King Numedides after he strangled the tyrant upon his throne. However, his rule over Aqualonia is nonexistent, as Conan is more suited in swinging his broadsword than signing official documents with a stylus. The citizens of Aquilonia, who originally welcomed Conan as their liberator from Numedides' tyranny, have gradually turned against him due to his foreign Cimmerian blood. They have constructed a statue to Numedides' memory in the temple of Mitra, and priest burn incenses before their slain king, hailing it as the holy effigy of a saintly monarch who was done to death by a red-handed barbarian.
Desiring to give the Aquilonian crown to someone of royal blood, a daring band known as the Rebel Four is formed: Volmana, the dwarfish count of Karaban; Gromel, the giant commander of the Black Legion; Dion, the fat baron of Attalus; and Rinaldo, the hare-brained minstrel. The Rebel Four recruit the services of a southern outlaw named Ascalante. However, in secret, Ascalante plans on betraying his employers and claiming the crown for himself.
Ascalante has a slave named
The story revolves around the conspirator's attempt in assassinating King Conan when he is unprepared and defenseles. However, two unforeseen events ultimately thwart their plan. Conan is forewarned of an impending coup by the arrival of a long-dead sage named Epemitreus, who marks Conan's sword with a mystical
Ascalante, seeing his goal within reach, moves to finish off the wounded king. But before Ascalante can strike, he is set upon and killed by Thoth-Amon's demon, which is then slain by Conan with the shard of his enchanted sword.