KING OF THE FORGOTTEN PEOPLE

Real Name: Barlonius of Nemedia

Identity/Class: Hyborian Age magic/technology user, possible reincarnatino of a Hykarian conqueror

Occupation: Formerly a nobleman of Nemedia, later ruler of the Lost City and would-be world conqueror

Group Membership: None

Affiliations: King Nimed of Nemedia (former counselor to), Lady Annia, Lala (concubine), Hykanian horsemen, warrior slaves, and mutated spiders under his control, unnamed demons and hired assassins

Enemies: Conan, demon horde, perhaps also the true Khengor

Known Relatives: Lady Annia (wife)

Aliases: Khengor the Warlord, the Second Khengor, the Reborn Khengor, Khengor the Conqueror, Khengor Reborn, Khengor the Dark, Khengor the Mighty, and so on, and so forth...

Base of Operations: formerly a villa in Numalia, a city of Nemedia; later the Lost City (possibly known as Khor, see comments), hidden in the Karamun Desert amid the Hyrkanian Steppes

First Appearance: Conan Annual#6 (1981)

Powers: Barlonius possessed no actual superhuman powers per se, but he did utilize both the sorcery so seemingly common in the Hyborian Era and advanced scientific knowledge far less common to the day and age. If it was indeed sorcery, Barlonius had the power to generate deadly, lifelike illusions, powerful enough to kill the victim if theyĎbelieved in them. However, it is also just as likely Barlonius' sorcerous illusions were the controlled effects of a powerful hallucinogenic gas, discovered along with the other scientific advances in the Lost City. Barlonius was also sufficiently familiar with the concepts of electrical conductivity to string and power a potentially lethal electrified chain around his hidden city. In addition, while exploring the Lost City, Barlonius discovered potions that allowed him to breed and/or create controllable giant mutant spiders.

Barlonius possessed a keen intellect, and likely vast knowledge of the recorded history of the Hyborian Age (especially so as he comes from Nemedia, renowned for its scholars and historians ala the Nemedian Chronicles, which recorded the history of Conan's rise to power amongst other things). Barlonius, in his capacity as the reincarnated Khengor, had skill with a sword far in excess of what would otherwise be expected from a scholarly nobleman, enough so to hold his own against Conan himself, recognized as one of the preeminent swordsman of the Hyborian world. Likely Barlonius also had access to aspects of Khengor's military and tactical genius as well. Due to his fulfilling the legend/prophecy surrounding Khengor and his hidden city, it is possible that if Barlonius had not lost the power of the giant pearl and been slain, he would have been immortal.

History: (Conan Annual#6 (fb,BTS))- Born to Hyrkanian peasants an indeterminate number of centuries before Conan began his career as an adventurer, Khengor swiftly rose to become the terror of both the Eastern and the Western Hyborian world. Leading vast armies of horsemen, Khengor sacked and conquered city after city with the ultimate goal of becoming undisputed ruler of all the lands between Khitai, Vendhya, and the Vilayet Sea. It is uncertain what halted Khengor's march of conquest, but after receiving a huge pearl in tribute from some vassal nation, and building his hidden city amidst the cliffs of the Hykanian Wastes, the warlord faded from the scene, likely dying either in battle, or of some disease without an heir to succeed him.

(Conan Annual#6 (fb))- Years, most likely centuries, later Barlonius, a nobleman and scholar of Nemedia, pondered his own mortality, and sought the means to live forever. Recalling legends that whosoever discovered the meditation chamber in Khengor's Lost City, and whose face was a twin to that of Khengor's would live forever, and fulfill the Hykanian conqueror's original quest to rule the Hyborian continent.

(Conan Annual#6 (BTS))- Ostensibly setting out for Khitai, Barlonius left Nemedia and his wife Annia in search of Khengor's lost city. Upon discovering it Barlonius unearthed not only the meditation chamber wherein he found a statue of Khengor identical to his own visage, but stores of vast arcane and scientific lore with which he planned to begin his march of conquest.

Four years later, with no word from her husband, Lady Annia hired Conan the Mercenary to discover what had become of Barlonius. Conan hired a guide and presumably some other sellswords using an advance given to him by Lady Annia, and head out into the Hykanian Steppes. Conan's caravan was attacked one day at dawn by a band of squat nomads mounted on shaggy horses. After a brief battle, Conan was the only suriving member of his group, and if it were not for a sudden sandstorm he might have shared their fate.

(Conan Annual#6)- Proceeding further into the desert, Conan nursed the last few drops of water in his canteen. Suddenly, his horse began to buck and whinny, and Conan grumbled about it seeing a ghost-- only to look up at the nearby rock face and see a hairy, shadowed form scuttling form sight. Then the nomads were once again upon Conan's heels, and he spurred his horse forward, whether it were wolf, panther, or demon that might lie in wait ahead. Conan raced madly through the dusty canyons and ravines, wondering that there was no pursuit after awhile, only to look ahead and see his path was blocked by more of the horse nomads. Conan and his horse dodged a hail of arrows, and the barbarian managed to break through, only to discover a chasm ahead which he forced his horse to jump.

Once again, the horsemen found him and Conan, knowing there were less ahead of him than behind, made a pragmatic choice, and charged at them headlong, engaging them in swordplay. Pushed to the edge of a precipice, Conan and his mount fell into the river far below, where they were swept miles downstream before they both swam free of the water. After a brief rest, Conan once again set out into the arid wastes.

Off in the distance, the dust of the approaching nomads could be seen once more. Conan realized the river had carried him back towards the spot where he saw the hairy thing, but had no time to worry about it, climbing up into a good spot from which to pepper the nomads with arrows. Just as he was about to make his first shot, a gigantic spider fell upon the foremost rider, killing him. The other nomads fled in terror. The spider, detecting Conan's presence, sought to make a meal of him as well. Conan remarked that this spider was even bigger than the one he had killed in Zamora (in the Tower of the Elephant) just before filling it full of arrows. Discovering more of them approaching, Conan beat a hasty retreat upon his horse. Finding an old man-made path winding dizzily upward, Conan led his steed to the gates of an abandoned city with towers and walls carved from white marble. Conan realized he had found the Lost City natives claimed to be hidden in the hills and ravines of the area, when he was startled by the voice of a man. Instinctively drawing his sword, Conan's leg brushed against a heavy chain stretched across the gateway to the city and his brain exploded in a shower of red sparks, followed by the dark oblivion of unconsciousness. When Conan awoke, he found himself confronted by the man he had been searching for, Barlonius!

Conan asked if Barlonius was some sort of wizard to live in a lost city surrounded by giant spiders, and to sear his soul the way he had. Barlonius explained to the "primitive" Conan that he was rendered unconscious by the elektros channeled though the chain he was touching. Conan in turn explained who he was and why he had come seeking Barlonius. Barlonius showed Conan the meditation chamber containing the jade idol of Warlord Khengor, and explained to the barbarian the myth of the man who would come to inherit Khengor's destiny.

Barlonius went on to explain his plans for world conquest, and how Conan would bring Annia to him in the Lost City. Barlonius' concubine Lala was angered by his plotting to put her aside for his "pale-skinned wife", especially when "it was she who.." Barlonius smacked Lala down before she could say any more, and this angered Conan. Barlonius summoned his guards, but even bare-handed, Conan made short work of them (three panels short). Conan resumed his menacing approach, planning on dragging Barlonius back to Nemedia by his neck if he had to. Barlonius unleashed some unnamed power upon him, warping Conan's perceptions, and rendering him unconscious.

Conan awoke in chains, but Lala was already freeing him. Lala sought to lead him out of the Lost City, but shortly, they were confronted by a demonic ape-like creature. Conan discerned the creature was an illusion, and thus dispelled it into swirling mist. Faced with an image of Barlonius threatening to destroy them, Conan and "the faithless wench" Lala headed the other way. The creeping mist found them again, and Conan urged Lala to escape some other way, just before he was assaulted by a phantasm of hurled boulders and raging storms. Angrily, Conan cried out that perhaps Barlonius could fool the backwoods folk with his illusions, but that he had met mages to which Barlonius was but a child. Conan fought his way through illusory floods and flesh and blood swordsmen, until he finally reached Barlonius' meditation chamber once more. Barlonius and Conan crossed swords even as the megalomaniac conjured even more images of fire and death around the Cimmerian. Lala, also tricked by Barlonoius' illusions, wound up in the meditation chamber as well, seeking to climb to the top of the idol of Khengor, but whether to hide, or to steal the sacred pearl atop the idol, it is hard to guess.

Lala, dreaming of incalculable wealth now that her heart had been broken, seized the pearl, and held it aloft. Barlonius cried out in anger and rage, but before Conan could press the advantage against his distracted foe, the dagger held in the idol's hand plunged down, and skewered the Nemedian. With Barlonius' death, the idol and the Lost City around it began to crumble. With Lala in his arms (of course!) Conan fled the devastation, and breathed a sigh of relief upon leaping past the deadly chain at the gate. Turning back to the crumbling city, Conan and Lala were confronted with a titanic vision of demons and devils, unlike any prior illusions, and in their hands, holding the doomed and damned Barlonius. Conan speculated much of the Nemedian's magic came from a pact with the very demons which had once served Khengor, and now they had come to claim their due. Lala said that she loved Barlonius, and Conan smiled, saying she would get over it. He knew she would be fine when he saw her go for the pearl amid all the carnage. (That Conan! What a charmer!) Wandering off in each others arms, Conan said he'd need to come up with a good tall tale to tell a grieving widow. (Holy Heart of Darkness rip-off, Conan!)

Comments: Adapted and significantly altered from a Robert E. Howard story set in the modern era, entitled "King of the Forgotten People" by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane.

This story is worth checking out more for the fantastic horse chase in the first few pages (about the best one in any issue of Conan I have ever seen) than the unusual adaptation of the original Howard story.

In the original story, one Jim Brill was the hero, searching in an uncharted portion of the Gobi desert for Richard Barlow (Barlow, Barlonius, get it?), the husband of his unrequited love, Gloria. Instead of just having an affair with the woman he loved, Jim Brill sought to discover whether Barlow was dead or alive after disappearing in Asia to determine whether or not he could pursue his feelings for Gloria. Richard Barlow was a physically imposing specimen and a famous scientist and explorer, having traveled to Asia in order to be free of the moral restrictions the American scientific community was imposing upon him back home. Discovering a lost city populated by the descendants of the Mongols and their slaves, Barlow became first the power behind the throne of Khitai Khan (Khitai being also the name of a proto-Asiatic country in the Hyborean Era) and later, the ruler known as "Khan" (White King) after Khitai's death. Thought to be a sorcerer due to the camel loads full of scientific equipment he brought with him, Barlow was considered to be a priest of the dark god Erlik by the inhabitants of the city. Barlow used electrified equipment, serums for creating giant spiders, and hired assassins much in the same way Barlonius did, but Barlow also perfected potions that could regress men to an ape-like state, amongst other scientific discoveries. Also, Barlow's advanced weapons were the result of his own genius, and not discoveries found in the lost city, as with Barlonius. Further, in the original story, Ghengis Khan's meditation chamber was built of greenish glowing bricks cut from a fallen meteor, possessed of psychic properties, recording the thoughts and dreams of the rooms' inhabitant like a type of stone camera film. Prolonged exposure to this chamber was causing a physical and mental change in Barlow, literally transforming him into the resurrected Ghengis Khan. Unlike Barlonius, who was slain by the living idol of Khengor, Barlow met his death at the hands of his jealous lover Lala Tzu (analogous to Lala in the comic adaptation). In the original tale, the Lost City was called Khor,and its people were the Khoranese; it is possible, though never specifically mentioned, that this was the name of Barlonius' hidden city as well.

Appendix reader Christopher Hetherington notes: "Assuming that they were trying to use Mongolian words, Khan (more correctly romanized as 'Khaan'--'Khan' is a feudal provincial leader, but Khaan is almost always romanized as just Khan) means 'king' (not 'white king'--that'd be Tsagaan Khan), Khitai is a word in no conventional Mongolian dictionary and is probably just a name without conventional Mongolian etymology, and Khor means 'poison'. "

by Greg O'Driscoll

Clarifications: Barlonius should not be confused with:

Khengor should not be confused with:

Lady Annia has no no known connections to:

Lala should not be confused with:


Lady Annia, Nemedian noblewoman, was Barlonius' devoted wife, eager for Conan to find word of the megalomaniacal scholar's whereabouts, or his ultimate fate. Likely, Conan told her some story that cast Barlonius in a more sympathetic light when he returned to Nemedia. -Conan Annual#6














 

 


Lala was Barlonius' jealously possessive concubine. She betrayed her master, and sought to free Conan, if only he would leave, and never tell Lady Annia of her husband's location. She seemed to have genuine affection for Barlonius, but indirectly caused his death, seeking to assuage her broken heart by stealing the legendary giant pearl of Khengor. -Conan Annual#6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Last updated: 05/10/04

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