Literature / The Pool of the Black One

"The Pool of the Black One" is a Conan the Barbarian story by Robert E. Howard. First published in October, 1933.

Conan joins a group of pirates after swimming over to their boat in shark infested waters. The crew take a liking to him, as does the captains concubine, Sancha. The captain however doesn't trust Conan, and with good reason, as Conan seeks to usurp his position.

The captain sails their ship far out to sea, and lands them on an uncharted island, hoping to find untold of riches. As the crew nap on the shore, Conan challenges the captain to a duel, which Conan wins. As he basks in his victory, he notices one of his crew members being carried off by mysterious black figures.

After witnessing them perform a horrifying ritual involving a mysterious pool, Conan rushes back to his new crew, only to realize that they have already been captured by the Black Ones. Conan returns to the Black Ones lair to rescue his crew and Sancha, and hopefully escape with their lives.

It has been adapted by Marvel Comics in their Savage Sword of Conan magazine.

Tropes included

  • And the Adventure Continues: The story ends with Conan, Sancha, and the surviving crew sailing off for more plunder.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: There's no real explanation for why the Black Ones do what they do to the crew unless it's For the Evulz.
  • The Cavalry: The Crew consume fruit which puts them to sleep, Conan distracts the Black ones, while Sancha wakes them up. The Black one's and the crew fight it out, and despite being half awake/drunk, the crew triumphs with superior numbers.
  • Cower Power: Thrown to the ground, Sancha cowers.
  • Damsel in Distress: Sancha doesn't even make it ten minutes on the island before getting captured.
  • Distressed Dude: The young crewmember who is captured by the Black Ones and turned into a figurine by the power of the pool.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Black Ones are humanoid varieties. The pool itself also qualifies, as it appears to be conscious and, after the Black Ones are defeated, actively malicious as it propels itself after Conan and his crew, chasing them all the way to the shoreline.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Conan shakes Sancha until she agrees to help
  • Klingon Promotion: Conan kills the old captain and takes his place, as is the code among pirates. No one would miss the old one anyway.
  • Magic Music: The Black ones use a magic flute to steal the souls of the crew. Its music is apparently only audible to the victim.
  • The Men First: Conan takes care that everyone leaves before him
  • Murder Water: The pool, which turns people into tiny petrified dolls if they fall in it. Later tries to chase down the crew as they escape.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: The Black Ones. They are described as being several feet taller than a full grown man, with long taloned fingers and coal black skin.