Roscoe’s Burden – A Conan Story

The first thing I felt was pain. Pain racked my entire body, and I could not hide from it. I was bathing in it. Yog had embraced me. I could taste dirt, and feel the grit of the sand that coated my ears. The sand. That was the next thing that came to the forefront of my mind. It was everywhere. I was bound somehow to a cross. Yog would be disgusted. I shifted my eyes downwards and saw my naked body. A sheet of parchment was nailed to my chest. It read “Roscoe Forn,” the rest of the text was too small to make out, as it was upside down. Even keeping my eyes open was a struggle.

I watched grains of sand slide across my chest, too weak to even lift my head up. The constant shifting of wind made a strange ever changing portrait all around me. It was then that I saw Him. I stared into his Cimmerian eyes as a stranger. He opened his mouth and spoke, but I could not hear him. All I heard was the anguish of my body, and a quench for thirst that ticked my throat. He seemed to pass into black shadows and appear again, or I did.

I felt my weight start to shift to my right as my shoulder slid out of socket. I was too exhausted to even make a whimper. When I hit the ground I was confused, but the sand I collided with put my shoulder back into place. I could see Him walking away as I opened my eyes. A specter. In front of me lay a water skin. Any port in the storm. I greedily lapped up the two mouthfuls of warm leather and sand tainted water. I laid there for an undisclosed amount of time before I managed the strength to roll onto my back. I felt the sand rolling over my body, trying to entomb me.

I watched the immersive clouds swim across the sky. They were like little puffs of cotton. If they could keep moving against an endless tide, then so could I. I found resolve in the most unexpected place. I rose to my knees. The sand left my body like locust fleeing a flame. I pulled two curled nails out of my chest that had embedded the parchment. I turned the parchment over to see my crimes again. As I read them aloud I could feel the lashes on my back screaming in pain. It had been over a month since the last beating.

“Breaking an Oath, Strangling a money lender, Pick pocketing.” It was all over a misunderstanding about a sacrifice to Yog. It wasn’t his money that I wanted after all. I starred at the Hyborian name they chose for me. Roscoe. It beats Shael. If I was going to start over, I would be starting over correctly. I dropped the parchment. I watched as the desert sands claimed it as their own. I felt liberated. He had saved my life. The man of legend. Conan.

I started down the stone path, swearing that I would finally atone to Yog. The God of my father, and his father before him. I would conquer this land and proclaim his glory to all, and if they resisted, they would be sacrificed.

I was given a second chance here in these Exiled Lands, and I will claim everything for my own.

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