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Literature / The Pool of the Black One

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"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 captain's 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 starts to rush 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.

The Tropes of the Black One:

  • And the Adventure Continues: The story ends with Conan, Sancha, and the surviving crew sailing off for more plunder.
  • The Cavalry: The Crew consume fruit which puts them to sleep, Conan distracts the Black Ones, while Sancha wakes them up. The Black Ones 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.
  • Fanservice: Bored with being told to wait on the ship, Sancha decides to risk Zaporavo's wrath, takes off her kirtle and swims to shore. She spends the remainder of the story naked.
  • For the Evulz: The Black Ones torture then turn people into small figurines for no reason other than malice.
  • 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.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Sancha has grown fond of life as a pirate captain's plaything, even though he pretty much kidnapped her and made her his Sex Slave.
  • 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 torment the soul of a crewman. Its music is apparently only audible to the victim.
  • The Men First: Conan takes care that everyone leaves before him.
  • Megaton Punch: The pirates try to haze Conan with a brawl. Conan breaks the instigator's neck with one punch.
  • Murder Water: The pool, which turns people into tiny petrified dolls if they fall in it. Later it 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.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Sancha is noted to able to cuss with extreme proficiency, having been around pirates for quite some time. Later, Conan lets rip with some profanity that makes Sancha gasp.