Vardanes was man of Zamora, who had spent his youth with a Shemite tutor. The tutor owned an ancient-looking Stygian book which Vardanes managed to look into one night, reading in it a referenced to the "devil-haunted Akhlat in the Red Waste, where power-mad sorcerers of yore called down a demon from beyond to their unending sorrow".
He was bribed, with 200 silver shekels, into an informant by the Turanian amir Boghra, who exploited Vardanes' hunger for vengeance over Conan. Vardanes had the Zuagirs set into a Turanian ambush, in a pass in Shan-e-Sorkh, the Red Waste.
When the column of riders entered the pass, Vardanes at his beginning spurred his horse to (possibly fearful of being deemed expendable by the Turanians, though Boghra Khan intended to keep his promise), and Boghra decided to start the attack, havingh his archers rain arrows over the Zuagirs. Boghra eventually had them stop, as the dust prevented from seeing much, and he thought continuing was just a waste of ammo. Using that respite, Conan rallied the horde of Zuagirs and defeating the Turanians.
Having a talk with the captured Boghra (whom he knew from his time in the Turanian military), Boghra interrogated him, but knew Vardanes was the traitor (as he had asked, unusual for him, to be the advance scout, and didn't make Boghra Khan betray him. Once Boghra was let to go, Conan and the Zuagirs were set on the trail of Vardanes.
Flight and death
Vardanes kept on a straight path southwest, into Shan-e-Sorkh, fleeing the "Death of five stakes" demanded by the Zuagirs' Code for those who betray their camarades, and which Conan intended to apply, having swore by Crom and Mitra. Vardanes would die, and ordering that none should rest until Vardanes did pay for his treason. As he entered Makan-e-Mordan, the "Place of Ghost", the Zuagirs began to fear. Fearing that his comrades would turn against Conan to flee this place, Gomer of Akkharia drugged Conan, and the Zuagirs left without him.
After five days of running away, the Zuagirs on his tale, Vardanes found himself forced to go on foot, as his horse couldn't support him anymore. Praying to Ishtar, Set, Mitra and many other gods, he eventually found himself before Akhlat, whom he recollected from his youth. He was captured by the city guards, and forced into Akhlat the Accursed. Conan himself was saved and brought to Akhlat by Enosh, who thought Conan to be the liberator of an ancient prophecy, who would slay the evil goddess ruling over Akhlat.
Vardanes was detained for days in the Black Temple of Akhlat, but was tended well, let to bath, fed suptously, causing him to suspect he was fattened for slaughter. Vardanes was later taken to the throne of the goddess, in a room full of apparent statues, in fact her victims. Vardanes attempted to steal her golden mask, but she woke up and opened her third eye to drain Vardanes'. Conan entered the room through tunnels, and witnessing Vardanes turning into a stone statue, he decapitated him from a single blow (either for revenge or mercy), causing his rock body to shatter. After defeating the goddess and freeing Akhlat, Conan departed with Vardanes' gold-full saddle-bags.
- 1 Appearances of Vardanes (Earth-616)
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- 1 Images featuring Vardanes (Earth-616)
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