Well, having a column of my own on WarCry certainly has it’s perks. As I write this on my laptop, I’m sitting in the jacuzzi of a very nice suite in a very nice hotel on The Strip in Las Vegas. WarCry sent me here as a reward for a job well done on my first column. Nice of them! When I got to the lobby and told them who I was and who I worked for, the manager came running out to tell me there’d been a mistake. My booking had been through a travel agency and they (the hotel) hadn’t realized who I was or that I wrote for WarCry. Once they realized, they bumped me up to a much nicer suite. Wow!
Oops! Hold on, someone at the door…
Back now. That was the Bell Captain with a bottle of complementary champaign and $5,000 in complementary casino chips.
Anyway, where was I. Oh, right. Conan. Hyboria. There have been interviews with Gaute, with Jorgen and with others from Funcom. But I wanted to go after the BIG scoop! The man himself! And I must say, it took some doing but I got it! That’s right. Crom! What follows is my interview with Crom himself!
Let me begin by saying this interview was not easy to get. Most people, when they hear that someone from WarCry wants to talk to them are so flattered that they melt into a puddle of compliance. Like just a couple of weeks ago. I was out bar hopping, cruising for chicks with Janet Reno and Hillary Clinton and Hillary wouldn’t stop talking to me about doing an interview with her for WarCry. “Election this” and “election that”! I had to get a little terse with her and point out that nobody cares about politics when Age of Conan is getting so close to release!
Darn it! Hold on. Door again…
Back…but hold on, changing suites again.
I’m back. They upgraded my suite again. And I have to say, there is a great view of the lights of The Strip from here! And from the whirlpool no less! Oh, and say hello to my new friends Melinda and Debbie. Melinda and Debbie say “Hi!”
Let’s see…oh, right. Crom.
Well as you can guess an interview with the big guy himself wasn’t easy to get. He’s never been what you would call “involved” and has been much less so in the last 10,000 years. I had to use clues found in all of Howard’s writings and even some from the works of H.P. Lovecraft to find out where Crom’s mountain is. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you the exact location. Crom made me promise. And one thing you don’t do is break a promise to Crom!
So, after several hours of grueling research on the Internet to get the location and a transatlantic charter jet flight (courtesy of WarCry), I ended up in the Alps. I won’t say what country. A guide and mountaineering team was waiting for me, again, at WarCry’s expense. Those guys really know how to setup an expedition!
With an crew of 12 men, our guide figured we could get into the area I’d indicated in a day or two. The first leg would be by helicopter as far in as we could go. Then it would be hiking and in the end, climbing.
Naturally, the rest of the folks didn’t know what I hoped to find. All they knew and, frankly, all the needed to know is that WarCry thought it was important.
Once we were within what I guessed to be a day’s climb from Crom’s Gate, I decided that it would be best to press on alone. My guide tried to talk me out of it. He said it’d be suicide, that no normal man could live in these mountains alone. I told him that a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do and started on my way.
He grabbed me and tried to stop me, for my own good. While I admired and appreciated his loyalty, I had no choice but to knock him out with a manly right cross to his chin. He’d have a sore jaw when he woke up…but he’d be alive.
I pressed on.
I won’t bore you with the (frankly heroic) journey I made from the base camp to Crom’s Gate, but, after a superhuman effort and several side adventures (I’ll have to show you my new bear skin rug some time), I finally found it!!! Crom’s Gate! It looked just like I expected. Tall, jagged mountain peaks. Snow caps. Low clouds and rolling thunder. And cold! Biting, bitter cold!
But nothing could prepare me for what I found inside!
So, freezing, exhausted, I got up to this huge, stone double door. Must be 30 feet high! Icy sleet was driving down and I was getting soaked and frozen. I saw a chain hanging by one side of the door…I’m not sure what it was hanging from because of the weather, but it was the only thing that looked like a doorbell so I gave it a yank.
The door opened on a great, stone hallway. Looked like it was carved out of the native rock. And who do you think opened the door? Can you guess? Conan!!! That’s right! Freaking Conan the Freaking Barbarian!!! Conan the Freaking King of Aquilonia!!!
And if that weren’t enough to leave me standing in the icy sleet, slack jawed, picture this: He was wearing tennis shorts, a polo T, Adidas, and was carrying a tennis racket. He even had those little white wrist bands.
That’s when I began to realize that Crom’s afterlife might not be exactly as we’d been led to believe.
So I’m standing there like an idiot with cold sleet running down my back and Conan (Freaking CONAN!!!!) is standing inside the doorway, looking at me with those hard, volcanic blue eyes and says “Well, are you just going to stand there in the sleet, jackass?” When I didn’t respond he said “You know, you took me away from my set. I’ve got people waiting!”
Finally, when I still didn’t say anything, he grabbed me by the front of my parka and yanked me inside. The huge, stone doors closed with a deep “thud” behind us.
I can’t really tell you much about the hallway or passages. I was a bit overwhelmed. I mean common! I was walking down a hallway in Crom’s Freaking Mountain with King Freaking Conan!!! Well…ok, more like I was being dragged down the hallway by the front of my shirt while Conan swore at me under his breath. But still…
Finally I started to mentally catch up to where I was. And I’d probably never get an opportunity to talk to Conan again! I have to admit, though, that I was pretty flustered and didn’t do much credit to myself as an interviewer. Still, for what it’s worth, here’s my conversation with Conan, as well as I remember it.
Me: “You, uh, play tennis?”
Conan (Freaking CONAN!!!): “Crom started watching it on TV a few years back when Bjorn Borg was champion. Crom liked the name Bjorn Borg. Good warrior name, he said. After that, we all started getting into it. Some of the newer guys had played it in life.”
Me: “You…play tennis?” Conan wasn’t dragging me anymore, now that I’d recovered enough to walk on my own. But he gave me an exasperated look that I could have done without.
Conan (Freaking CONAN!!!): “Yes. I play tennis.”
Me: “Um, uh…who do you play with?”
Conan: “Well, right now I’m playing a doubles match. Me and Belit are playing against Patton and Genghis Khan.” Conan chuckled. “Between you and me, Khan cheats!” He laughed some more. “But that’s ok, so does Belit! The clever, little minx!”
Me: “Genghis Khan? And Belit? And…who?”
Conan: “Patton. George Patton. Crom, have you forgotten World War II already? Crom always liked George. Me too, for that matter. He always has good whiskey! Not sure where he gets it, up here.”
By this time we had come to a room or a cavern or…I’m not sure what you would call it. We were still inside the mountain, but the place was as big as a sports stadium.
Conan faced into the room and said, “You need me for anything else?”
A deep voice that sounded like the groaning of stone in an earthquake and filled the entire cavern boomed, “Nah. I’m cool. Thanks Big C.”
Conan turned and walked away. That’s the last I saw of him.
Which is a real bummer since I had finally recovered enough composure that I was going to ask him where the jewels of gwahlur might be found.
… to be continued in the next column: Interview with Crom, Part II …
So Sayeth Urfang
Bare Shaman of the Snowhawk Clan
(No, it’s not a typo…)
We at WarCry don’t know what the heck Urfang is talking about. We DO NOT send people to Las Vegas (or elsewhere) as far as any of you know. Nor do we admit to any funding of archeological expeditions in the Alps or anywhere else!
Frankly, we think Urfang is a crazy man and wouldn’t even publish his stuff except for his undeniable coolness.