I think I need a much better Conan-vocabulary.
Howard’s writing vocabulary was much, much different than mine. (My writing and working vocabulary far more naturally resembles Tolkien’s than Howard’s.) Of course I do not want to write my Conan story exactly as Howard would. Howard had a very unusual and heavily-imagined (the kind you almost never hear used in real life) and even stilted vocabulary, which makes his books fun to read (in one sense) but also extremely pulpish and juvenile and self-limiting (in another sense).
I want to maintain the overall uniqueness of Howard’s vocabulary and phrasing without directly imitating him and without the self-limited nature of his construction and terminology.
What I actually want to do is to produce a Conan story that is obviously by me, yet similar enough to Howard’s Conan to be instantly recognizable and enjoyable and fun to read. So whereas I don’t want to directly imitate Howard’s language, I do want to pay homage to it. The same with the way I write Conan himself. There is much to admire about Howard’s Conan but much I would also change or discard or at the very least alter and modify. Sometimes even radically so.
So I am setting out to intentionally do those very things with this story. I think of it in this way, I am writing a Conan Story which one might consider as written by an entirely different chronicler (me) and which stresses certain aspects of Conan’s character and personality but pays little attention to other aspects of his personality. Or even intentionally ignores certain traits.
Still, I think that I need a much better “Conan-vocabulary” to pay homage to the character in the way I wish. I have recently been reading Robert Jordan’s Conan books and his interpretation of the character and find it superb, both in the way he mimics Howard’s vocabulary without becoming stifled and artificial, and as far as his overall interpretation of the character. Which I actually prefer to Howard’s Conan in many respects.
On the other hand I think my story’s plot is actually far superior to most of Howard’s story-plots and may even be superior to much of Jordan’s plottings. So, we’ll see how that goes.
Below are some fragments of the story I have been producing so far. Since I am writing this in the month of October I am not only making this a Conan adventure story, I am also making it a true horror story as well.
This shall be the introductory quote to my Conan short story of The Vengeance of Tôl Karuţha:
“Of all the truly dangerous things in the world the least dangerous is this – a reckless and unwary man. The most dangerous is a crafty and cunning woman.”
Engraven upon the Guile-Stone of Khawarish
* * *
Her dark mouth became a bloody and open wound. A demonic and fearsome gash of portentous witchcraft which no human face should have been able to contain.
Conan stepped back in caution and concern, slowly unsheathing his sword in wonder at the sight, but in his heart he yearned not to comprehend how but only to strike. He was already well past any further desire to endure these continued onslaughts of strange sorcery and weird warlockery. Yet although this woman still fascinated him and some part of him deeply pitied her he was also frightened of her as he had never before feared any sorceress or witch. She was simply too unpredictable and too uncanny not to fear.
Something unnatural, disturbing, and horrific hovered around her as if some unnamed, ancient, and uncontrollable god, long vanished, broiled within her.
Suddenly Conan felt cold to his very marrow and he knew immediately that this was no act of nature – not of this world and not of his own. He struggled to breathe, his great chest heaving as if on fire but sluggish as if being slowly frozen by death. His throat slaved to remain open and his escaping breath snaked outwards and coiled like a glittering and ghostly Stygian serpent. Then, with a tremendous crush of agony, he felt the the bone in his lower left leg break apart and he fell like an unbending oak that had been shattered by the unforeseen summer lightning of a still distant but savage storm.
* * *
From the man’s appearance he seemed dangerous. Conan was certain of his own prowess but he had long ago learned to never underestimate any other man. Even women, or at least certain women, could be mortally dangerous for they could be crafty, cold-blooded, and quick. Conan therefore had become doubly suspicious for he now faced both man and woman, and both seemed warily guarded and preternaturally unknown.
“Who are you?” Conan asked in the Shemitic language for that was the speech in which he had just been addressed. He knew little of it, but could still carry on a basic conversation in the harsh tones of the tongue.
“I am Tôl Karuţha,” replied the man confidently, but Conan was instantly doubtful for he had heard some of the lore surrounding the name. Back when he had traveled the far reaches of the East. ”And this black wench is Jerabela, of the Kengan tribe of the Kushites. She is my slave and consort.”
Conan did not fully understand every word that had been said, though he understood slave well enough, having once been one. However he did quickly and unmistakably notice that the woman’s eyes had subtly narrowed with both anger and disdain at the way in which the tall and powerful man had named and described her, though she controlled herself with admirable reserve.
Conan studied her as carefully as he could in such a short space of time. She was tall, athletic, lithe, and for a woman powerfully built. Far more powerfully built than most women Conan had ever encountered, save a very few, such as the Pirate Queen. Despite the tan man’s claim she was not possessed of the bearing and comportment of slave, but rather her demeanor was proud and her stance fully erect and alert.