|Salome the Witch
(circa "A Witch Shall Be Born")
Medium Female Human
10th Level Sorceress
Hit Dice: 10d4 + 10 (50 Hit Points)
Initiative: +3 (dex)
Speed: 30 ft
AC: 14 (+3 Dex, +1 Dodge)
Attacks: Dagger +4 melee; Whip +9 ranged
Damage: Dagger 1d4 -1; Whip 1d2 (subdual)
Face/Reach: 5 ft by 5 ft/5ft
Special Attacks: Arcane spells
Special Qualities: Summon Familiar
Saves: Fort +7, Ref +6, Will +9
Abilities: Str 9, Dex 17, Con 13, Int 16, Wis 10, Cha 16
Skills: Alchemy +16, Concentration +14, Knowledge (Arcana) +16, Knowledge (Religion) +16, Spellcraft +16, Disguise +9.5
Feats: Dodge, Combat Casting, Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Whip), Great Fortitude, Iron Will
Challenge Rating: 10
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Advancement: by Character class
|It was a woman's head, small, delicately molded, superbly poised, with a high piled mass of lustrous black hair... a tigerish gleam of eye, a vindictive curl of lip. It was as if she gazed upon another Taramis, identical with herself in every contour of feature and limb, yet animated by an alien and evil personality. The face of Salome reflected the opposite of every characteristic the countenance of the queen denoted. Lust and mystery sparkled in her scintillant eyes, cruelty lurked in the curl of her full red lips. Each movement of her supple body was subtly suggestive... Salome was clad in the barbaric splendor of a woman of Shushan. Jewels glittered on her gilded sandals, on her gold breastplates and the slender chains that held them in place. A gem-crusted girdle supported a silk skirt so transparent that it was in the nature of a cynical mockery of convention.|
|~Robert E. Howard, "A Witch Shall Be Born"|
a wonderfully decadent villianess, corrupt and inhuman. She is the
twin sister of Queen Taramis of Khauran.
At birth Salome was carried into the desert to die because she bore the mark of the witch, a blood-red crescent between the upper parts of her firm breasts, the curse of the kings of Khauran. The first queen in Salome's and Taramis' line had traffic with a fiend of darkness and bore him a daughter. Each century thereafter a girl baby is born into the Askhaurian dynasty, with a scarlet half moon between her breasts, signifying her destiny. Each was named Salome.
But life in her was stronger than the life in common folk, partaking as it does of the essence of the forces that seethe in the black gulgs beyond mortal knowledge. She did not die, and a magician from far Khitai, returning from a journey to Stygia, found her and took her to purple-towered Paikang. She grew to womanhood under his teaching, learning his black wisdom and his powers of evil.
He eventually cast her out, calling her a mere harlot of darkness, not fit to command the mighty sorcery he would have taught her.
Salome simply was not interested in the deeper gulfs of cosmic sorcery, for the world contained all she desired: power, pomp, handsome men and soft women for lovers and slaves.
She is knowledgable about gods and goddesses of the night, even of a hideous and half-remembered antiquity. She instituted human sacrifice during her reign, and summoned a terrible monster known as Thaug in the crypts of the temple of Ishtar.
|Salome is skilled with a whip, esp. the Cat-O-Nine-Tails. She is fond of torture, and many of her spells are of that variety. She also can summon and command fiends to help her in combat (spells such as Gate can be cast at a lower level if the stars and/or circumstances are right).|
Constantius (the Falcon)
|Published in the December 1934 issue of Weird
Tales, this story has probably the most famous scene in the entire Conan
series. It is probably the most famous scene in all of Howard's
writing, and perhaps even in the entire genre of
fantasy. Anyone who has read "A Witch Shall Be Born",
while perhaps forgetting the characters and/or plot, will never forget
As Karl Edward Wagner put it, "Conan in agony, helpless, close to death-crushing the vulture's neck in his teeth-enduring the ordeal of the felling of the cross- impatiently ripping the nails out of his feet with his mangled hands- holding onto the saddle on a frenzied mount... the episode dominates the story and the series. Better than any other scene, it underscores Conan's barbaric vitality and indomitable soul. The scene overshadows the remainder of the story- and "A Witch Shall Be Born" is an excellent story. It is Conan at his best- defeated and condemned to a hideous death, fighting back through his barbaric strength and iron-willed determination, ultimately triumphant in the final battle, dooming his enemies to a just vengeance."
Karl Edward Wagner also said this of the story: "It is a measure of Howard's confidence in his mastery of the narrative that he no longer felt it necessary to waste pages describing various anatomy Conan can hack apart. After the crucifixion scene, we know Conan is tough."
|The story was given a Margaret Brundage cover featuring Salome torturing her sister Taramis with a cat-o-nine-tails, and a Hugh Rankin interior illustration (if anyone out there has a scan of this interior illustration, I would appreciate being emailed a copy).|
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