six - fullKEEPERS of the TREASURE-CRYPT of LANJAUface

Membership: None identified

Purpose: Protecting and securing the Jade Serpent;

Aliases: "Great Ones," "Skeletons in Armor"

Affiliations: Unspecified gods (see comments);
    formerly Vammatar (and through her, Shuma-Gorath) and the Witchmen of Hyperborea (especially their leader,
Torumjumala) as well as the reanimated purple plague victims/zombies;
    originally associated with the Hyperborians and the people of Lanjau;
    it is unrevealed whether the dragon of Lanjau actually had any connection to the Keepers or the Crypt or Jade Serpent, or whether it was just a predator that happened to live and survive in the desolate Lanjau

Enemies: Army of Atilleos, Conan, unidentified Gunderman, unidentified priests of Mitra (and presumably Mitra), Gwenaldra, Hobb of Anuphar, Vammatar and the Witchmen of Hyperborea (especially their leader, Torumjumala) as well as the reanimated purple plague victims/zombies

Base of Operations: Treasure-Crypt of Lanjau, within the walled city Lanjau, in or near the nation of what would become Corinthia, Hyborian era (possibly 16,000 BC or before and extending to at least 10,000 BC)

First AppearanceConan the Barbarian I#8 (August, 1971)

Powers/Abilities: The Keepers were approximately 7' tall, and they superhumanly strong (enhanced human) and durable, although they could be incapacitated by bladed weapons. They could survive for millennia in stasis, and they presumably did not age or require food, water, or air; they did not seem vulnerable to the Purple Plague, and they may have been similarly immune to conventional disease, toxins, etc. 

    They were vulnerable to sunlight, which rapidly turned them to dust, unless they were protected by another magical source.

    They arrogantly considered gods from ages after theirs to be weak and young, and they also assumed themselves to predate any god with whom they were not familiar.

 

confronting Conan and Gunderman in the CryptHistory:
(Conan the Barbarian I#255 (fb) - BTS) - Lanjau was long ago the furthest southern outpost of the Hyperboreans.

(Conan the Barbarian I#256 (fb) - BTS) - The Jade Serpent was the most holy talisman of Lanjau.

(Conan the Barbarian I#8 (fb) - BTS) - Legends told that Lanjau was the richest of the ancient cities until the gods, in envy, drove its subjects mad.

    The Jade Serpent was kept, along with a massive wealth of jewels, gold, etc., within the Treasure-Crypt of Lanjau.

(Conan the Barbarian I#256 (fb) - BTS) - According to Torumjumala, the men who became the Keepers of the Treasure-Crypt were once men like the Witchmen of Hyperborea.

(Conan the Barbarian I#256 (fb) - BTS) - Six men/beings were slain and entombed as mummy-like beings to guard the Jade Serpent.

(Conan the Barbarian I#8 (fb) - BTS) - These were the Keepers of the Treasure-Crypt of Lanjau, allegedly placed their by those ancient gods. 

(Conan the Barbarian I#8) - Conan and an unidentified Gunderman entered the Treasure-Crypt. Ultimately, Conan claimed the Jade Serpent, which he placed in a sack. As he picked up the Serpent, Conan urged the Gunderman to haste, as he felt there were other eyes than the serpent glaring at him. 

(Conan the Barbarian I#8) - Conan's picking up the "Sacred Serpent" awakened the Crypt-Keepers.

(Conan the Barbarian I#8) - While Conan and the Gunderman discussed their plans, they were interrupted by the Crypt-Keepers, who cursed them as wretched and advised them that their purloined wealth had bought them agony and death. As the two surprised men invoked their deities (Crom and Mitra, respectively), the Crypt-Keepers adised them them they would not help, as the Keepers were old when those gods were "a-borning in the heavens -- and we shall the sleep the deep sleep once more -- when they are dead and forgotten!" dustAs the two men fought their attackers, a Keeper mocked the Gunderman's use of a man-forged blade, but Conan skewered one of the Keepers through the neck, and, thusly advised by Conan, the Gunderman similarly struck down his attacker. As Conan tried to make a break for it, however, one of the Keepers struck him to the ground. The Gunderman advised Conan to flee with him before the other Keepers caught up to him, and Conan impaled another Keeper before rushing to the exit. The three remaining Keepers rushed after the thieves, and one of them urged the others to make the man-soawn pay with their very souls. However, as they emerged into from the building, the Keepers were turned to dust by the bright sun, after which Lanjau crumbled and collapsed. 

(Conan the Barbarian I#8 - BTS) - Conan escaped the city with the Jade Serpent in his bag, as well as with a bag of the Crypt's gems. Though the gems turned to dust, the Jade Serpent turned into a living serpent and fatally bit the magistrate of the Corinthian village Atilleos, after which Conan fled.

(Conan the Barbarian I#255 (fb) - BTS) - The Jade Serpent apparently reverted to its statue form and was kept suspended from the ceiling in a birdcage in the bar in Atilleos to which Conan had brought it.

(Conan the Barbarian I#255 - BTS) - Roughly 11 years later, a group of Menaloans en route to meet up with an battle rivals from the city-state Atilleos traveled though Lanjau and succumbed to an ultimately fatal "purple plague." Soon after the Army of Atilleos -- as well as Conan and his ally Hobb who had been conscripted into allying with the Corinthians in exchange for not being punished for the previous involvement in the death of the magistrate -- arrived in Lanjau as well and were confronted by Witchmen of Hyperborea. Conan slew one of the Witchmen, but the Corinthians subdued Conan for this seeming blasphemy and departed with Hobb (and with Conan their captive). 

(Conan the Barbarian I#255) - Aided by Vammatar, the Witchmen performed a spell that revived the six Keepers of the Treasure-Crypt of Lost Lanjau.reborn

    The Keepers, noting how the Earth had buried them for their failure to safeguard the Jade Serpent, asked the witchmen if they had revived them to lead them to the sacred talisman, which the witchman Torumjumala (their leader) confirmed. Vammatar's magic protected the Keepers from the sun as well as reanimating the Menaloans' purple corpses to fight alongside them. 

(Conan the Barbarian I#255/Conan the Barbarian I#256) - They were to form the nucleus of a mighty army to conquer all kingdoms south of Hyperborea.

(Conan the Barbarian I#256 (fb) - BTS) - The Witchmen ordered the Keepers to slay every man, woman, or child they encountered.

(Conan the Barbarian I#255) - The Witchmen, purple "zombies," and Keepers caught up with the Corinthians, who had begun to succumb to the plauge. Conan was freed the the tavern girl Gwenalda, and he attempted to hide out with her in a Mitrian temple. As one of the Keepers broke through the temple door, Conan had begun to succumb to the plague.

(Conan the Barbarian I#256) - The Mitraic priest barred the Keeper's path, insisting he would not enter the temple of Mitra, but the Keeper mocked this "upstart godling" as being no concern of his. The priest begged Mitra to forgive the Keepers for they knew not what they did, but as he slew the Keeper with his sword, the Keeper announced that they knew exactly what they were doing. As the Keeper lifted the weakened Conan, however, one of the Witchmen called him away as he was needed elsewhere at once; the Keeper tossed Conan away and followed the Witchman, slicing through any acolytes in his path. As one of the priests begged for mercy from this another Keeper who had been slaughtering them, but the Keeper told him that if they were men of the gods then the gods that now walked the Earth were weak. Permitting the Keepers to kill those that crossed their path, the Witchman instructed them not to step aside to pursue others, as they wished all six Keepers and the plague-zombies in the town center.

(Conan the Barbarian I#256 - BTS) - Meanwhile, Conan and Gwenalda made their way back to the taven where the Jade Serpent was hanging, where they found Hobb hiding. After they reasoned that and then acted upon consuming raw meat could cure and prevent the plague, they were assaulted by Corinthian purple plague victims who had perished but were revived by the Witchmen. As he started to recover, Conan leapt from a railing and grabbed the birdcage, ripping it open, and causing the Jade Serpent to fall to the ground beside him. hefting plague-ridden Conan

(Conan the Barbarian I#256) - Conan then rushed outside and confronted the gathered Crypt-Keepers and Witch-Men, taunting them with his possession of the Jade Serpent. As Conan headed away, the Witchmen ordered the Crypt-Keepers back, but the Keepers -- noting that the words of Torumjumala or even Vammatar slaughtered all but Torumjumala.

    Conan then rushed back into the tavern, throwing the Jade Serpent to Hobb, leading the Crypt-Keepers to mow down the reanimated purple plague victims (including Hermios) menacing Hobb and Gwenalda. At Conan's urging, Hobb then tossed the Jade Serpent back to him, and Conan led them into the path of the purple dead. The Keepers denounced Conan and his allies as "Blasphemers of a latter age -- to play children's games with the most holy talisman of lost Lanjau." Another Keeper urged his brethren to kil them for their desceration.

    When Torumjumala tried to order the Crypt-Keepers to ignore the Jade Serpent, the Crypt-Keepers expressed how they had to take it back to Lost Lanjau to atone for their long-ago failure. Torumjumala told them the Jade Serpent was a relic of a dead era and of no importance to Vammatar,  and he tried to order them -- presumably backed by the power of Vammatar -- to march back to Hyperborea. They instead advanced on Conan to reclaim the Serpent, which Conan threw to Torumjumala; as the Witchman triumphantly announced he would melt down the talisman to end any talks of returning it to Lanjau, a Crypt-Keeper attacked and slew Torumjumala to prevent him from harming their sacred talisman.

    As the dying Witchman dropped the Jade Serpent, Conan grabbed it and rushed away, telling them he was taking it back to Lanjau for them. The Crypt-Keepers pursued Conan, who rode a horse to death to stay in front of them, and then raced on foot until he reached a "nigh-bottomless" yawning crevasse. As the Crypt-Keepers arrived, Conan -- despite their protests -- hurled the Jade Serpent into the crevasse, and the Crypt-Keepers all leapt in after it.

(Conan the Barbarian I#256 - BTS) - Long after their departure and having heard nothing hit bottom, Conan finally allowed himself the luxury of wondering if they would survive intact to begin the laborious climb up again.

Comments: Created by Roy Thomas, Barry Smith, Thomas Palmer (and/or Tom Sutton).

   I would think it likely that the Jade Serpent had some connection to Set, or perhaps one of his many offspring, races, etc...the fact that the Keepers of the Crypt repeatedly referred to the likes of Mitra and others as upstart, young gods, but fit with their being associated with the much Elder God Set...
    I'm not really sure what sort of gods Vammatar was into...it's unclear whether Vammatar has/had any connections to the Jumala (Finnish gods), although
one of the Witchmen of Hyperborea was named Torumjumala; regardless, it is hard to believe this race of gods was older than Mitra, who was worshipped at least as early as 13,000 BC.
    We know Vammatar at least sought power from Shuma-Gorath, so perhaps the Great Old Ones were the source of the Jade Serpent's power.
    One of the Witchmen invoked "The Great God Borri," who has some sort of ties to the Asgardian gods, at least Buri or Bor...the Hyperboreans are descended from the Hybori, who were named for their deified chief, Borri.
    They mocked both Crom and Mitra as upstart young gods. Crom was around "millennia before the Great Cataclysm" (which occurred 18,000 BC). Mitra was known at least 13,000 BC.
    The Keepers acted as if they themselves were older than any of the gods referenced. If they were around 15,000-16,000 BC, certainly they could have preceded Mitra...but not Crom. More likely, they just were unfamiliar with the names of these gods and assumed they predated them...possibly Mitra, but certainly not Crom, unless the Keepers housed spirits of beings from prior to the Great Cataclysm.
    The world may never know...

Profile by Snood.

CLARIFICATIONS:
The Keepers of the Crypt of Lanjau no known connections to:



Lanjau - tallLanjauLanjau

(Conan the Barbarian I#255 (fb) - BTS) - Lanjau was long ago the furthest southern outpost of the Hyperboreans.

(Conan the Barbarian I#256 (fb) - BTS) - The Jade Serpent was the most holy talisman of Lanjau.

(Conan the Barbarian I#8 (fb) - BTS) - Legends told that Lanjau was the richest of the ancient cities until the gods, in envy, drove its subjects mad.

    The Jade Serpent was kept, along with a massive wealth of jewels, gold, etc., within the Treasure-Crypt of Lanjau.

(Conan the Barbarian I#256 (fb) - BTS) - Six men/beings were slain and entombed as mummy-like beings to guard the Jade Serpent.

(Conan the Barbarian I#8 (fb) - BTS) - These were the Keepers of the Treasure-Crypt of Lanjau, allegedly placed their by those ancient gods. 

(Conan the Barbarian I#8) <10,000 BC> - Conan came across the ruins of Lanjau. Though the gate to the city was rusted/stuck shut, Conan entered through a partially collapsed section of the walled city. He swiftly encountered and slew a giant lizard, and then entered the building containing the Treasure-Crypt. He was joined by a Gunderman he had previously fought, with both men agreeing to work together in case there were other guardians about. They entered the Treasure-Crypt, and when Conan picked up the Jade Serpent, the Keepers came to life and attacked them. After a short battle, Conan and the Gundermen fled, and the Keepers turned to dust upon following them into the sunlight. A massive earthquake then struck the city, collapsing it into rubble; Conan made it out to escape the collapse, but the Gunderman did not. 

(Conan the Barbarian I#255 - BTS) - Roughly 11 years later, a group of Menaloans en route to meet up with an battle rivals from the city-state Atilleos traveled though Lanjau and succumbed to an ultimately fatal "purple plague." Soon after the Army of Atilleos -- as well as Conan and his ally Hobb who had been conscripted into allying with the Corinthians in exchange for not being punished for the previous involvement in the death of the magistrate -- arrived in Lanjau as well and were confronted by Witchmen of Hyperborea. Conan slew one of the Witchmen, but the Corinthians subdued Conan for this seeming blasphemy and departed with Hobb (and with Conan their captive). 

(Conan the Barbarian I#255) - Aided by Vammatar, the Witchmen performed a spell that revived the six Keepers of the Treasure-Crypt of Lost Lanjau. Vammatar's magic protected the Keepers from the sun as well as reanimating the Menaloans' purple corpses to fight alongside them. 

(Conan the Barbarian I#256) - Conan recovered the Jade Serpent from the Corinthian village Atilleos and led the Keepers back to Lanjau, and then dropped the Jade Serpent into a seemingy bottomless crevice into which the Keepers leapt to follow it.

--Conan the Barbarian I#8 (255-256

dragon-frontdragon - caudolateral obliqueDragon of Lanjau

    This creature resembled a giant (
30' from nose to tail and perhaps 6' tall at its shoulder) gila monster. It was obviously carnivorous with sharp teeth and claws ("...each tooth a spear, each talon a man-rending scimitar), and it had dense scales dorsally, but also had a relatively soft underbelly.

     Conan suspected the creature had survived by feeding on rabbits and bush-rats.

   Shortly after Conan entered the city of Lanjau, the dragon confronted and advanced on him.

    Certain his sword would not pierce its scaly hide, Conan fled, scaling a nearby tower. The creature pursued him up the tower, and Conan dropped a large rick into its mouth, causing it to lose its grip on tower and fall down on its back.

    Conan leapt down atop the creature and sliced open its soft, white underbelly.

    It heaved and convulsed violently until bleeding out sufficiently, and then gave a final twitch before lying still.

--Conan the Barbarian I#8

Note: The creature was not named...Conan called it dragon, monster, and slimy son of a serpent. The narrative referred to it both as dragon and as great reptile. It was referred to as a dragon four times, so that's the title I went with.

    It is unrevealed whether the dragon of Lanjau actually had any connection to the Keepers or the Crypt or Jade Serpent, or whether it was just a predator that happened to live and survive in the desolate Lanjau.
    It  seems a little hard to believe that a reptile of this massive size could survive on rats, rabbits, etc. Perhaps it was mystically sustained and drawn to the city to help prevent others from discovering the Treasure-Crypt..but there isn't any real evidence to support that.


crypt - from abovecrypt-internal viewTreasure-Crypt of Lanjau

(Conan the Barbarian I#255 (fb) - BTS) - Lanjau was long ago the furthest southern outpost of the Hyperboreans.

(Conan the Barbarian I#256 (fb) - BTS) - The Jade Serpent was the most holy talisman of Lanjau.

(Conan the Barbarian I#8 (fb) - BTS) - Legends told that Lanjau was the richest of the ancient cities until the gods, in envy, drove its subjects mad.

    It's most holy talisman, the Jade Serpent, was kept, along with a massive wealth of jewels, gold, etc., within the Treasure-Crypt of Lanjau.

(Conan the Barbarian I#256 (fb) - BTS) - Six men/beings were slain and entombed as mummy-like beings to guard the Jade Serpent.

(Conan the Barbarian I#8 (fb) - BTS) - These were the Keepers of the Treasure-Crypt of Lanjau, allegedly placed their by those ancient gods. 

(Conan the Barbarian I#8) <10,000 BC> - Conan came across the ruins of Lanjau. Though the gate to the city was rusted/stuck shut, Conan entered through a partially collapsed section of the walled city. He swiftly encountered and slew a giant lizard, and then entered the building containing the Treasure-Crypt. He was joined by a Gunderman he had previously fought, with both men agreeing to work together in case there were other guardians about. They entered the Treasure-Crypt, and when Conan picked up the Jade Serpent, the Keepers came to life and attacked them. After a short battle, Conan and the Gundermen fled, and the Keepers turned to dust upon following them into the sunlight. A massive earthquake then struck the city, collapsing it into rubble; Conan made it out to escape the collapse, but the Gunderman did not. 

--Conan the Barbarian I#8

images: (without ads)
Conan the Barbarian I#8, pg. 6, panel 3 (ruins and dragon);
            panel 6-7 (dragon face and full oblique view);
        pg. 8, panel 8 (tall view of city);
        pg. 10, panel 6 (Treasure-Crypt - view from above);
        pg. 11, panel 1 (Treasure-Crypt - ground view);
        pg. 13, panel 1 (Keeper, face);
            panel 2 (towering over Conan and the Gunderman);
        pg. 16, panel 2-4 (turned to dust by the sun)
    #255, pg. 15, panle 7 (reborn)
    #256, pg. 2 (hefting Conan);
        pg. 16, panel 1 (all six, full view)


Appearances:
Conan the Barbarian I#8 (August, 1971) - Roy Thomas (writer), Barry Smith (penicler), Thomas Palmer and Tom Sutton (inkers), Stan Lee (editor)
Conan the Barbarian I#255 (April, 1992) - Roy Thomas (writer), Mike Docherty (penciler), Alfredo Alcala (inker), Mike Rockwitz (editor)
Conan the Barbarian I#256 (May, 1992) - Roy Thomas (writer), Mike Docherty (penciler), Dell Barras (inker), Mike Rockwitz (editor)


Last updated: 03/22/15.

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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