THE KEEPER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Real Name: unknown

Identity/Class: alien or demonic being living beneath the Kothian Plains of the Hyborian Era

Occupation: Guardian/overseer/ruler of the alien eco-system it inhabits

Affiliations: the Beast beneath the clearing, oasis, and the land in between, in whose organs and intestines it resides (host organism), the green tentacled servitors of the Keeper’s domain were either its slaves or its charges

Enemies: Conan the Barbarian, Mad Simeon

Known Relatives: none known, though the Keeper could quite possibly be related either symbiotically or by evolutionary origin to the green servitors working in its subterranean eco-system.

Aliases: none known

Base of Operations: A self contained alien eco-system beneath an oasis near the Kothian plains of the legendary Hyborian Era

First Appearance: Conan the Barbarian#192 (March 1987)

Powers: The Keeper possesses a large body composed out of powerful tentacles collected into four arms, legs, and a tail, as well as a fifth appendage behind the openable chestplate of its chitinous armor. The pronounced fangs on the Keeper’s weirdly shaped head could conceivably be used as weapons. The Keeper seems fairly resistant to damage and possesses peak human to enhance human strength as well as a certain degree of agility. Though not shying from physical combat the Keeper seems to prefer to use its fifth appendage, connected to the back of a victims head, to initiate a deadly psychic attack. Once the connection is made, the Keeper’s victim slumps unconscious only to awaken in an illusory world drawn from the victim’s own memories. The attack is meant to break down the victim’s mental defenses and be consumed by their own fear, hypocrisy, and guilt. Presumably after this is accomplished the Keeper consumes the , intellect, psychic energies, or perhaps very soul of his prey. Given that it is mentioned the Keeper thrives upon fear, envy, covetousness, and hypocrisy, it is likely the monster was some kind of empath that fed upon negative emotions. The Keeper also possessed enhanced or alien senses to some degree, tracking Conan through the bowels of the Beast by smell as it did.

In addition to his own powers and abilities the Keeper could speak its own language (which based on the lettering I’ll guess sounds like weird clicks and guttural noises) as well as some dialect of a Hyborian language Conan could understand. Also the Keeper possessed great expertise at riding and controlling the flying purple slabs that are periodically seen hurtling down the corridors of the Beast at incredible speeds.

History: (Conan the Barbarian#192) After collecting his demented acting companion, Mad Simeon, from a Kothian army outpost a half dozen leagues north of Syreb, Conan and his comrade set off to reach the next army checkpoint across the Kothian Plains. Conan warns Simeon to stay out of the woods due to wandering bands of rogue Kushites known to frequent them. Simeon ignores him saying he knows a shorter route to the next checkpoint and that all the Kushites have gone fishing. An exasperated Conan goes along with this idiocy and sure enough! They get attacked by a rogue band of Kushites. Fleeing from the Kushites they ride their horses up a hill onto an odd clearing in the middle of the forest, and suddenly the seemingly victorious Kushites flee back into the forest. Just as Conan suspects something is very wrong tentacles shoot up from out of the ground, seizing Simeon and his horse. Despite Conan trying to cut him free Simeon is dragged down through the seemingly porous ground. Just as Conan is about to beat a hasty retreat the tentacles get a hold of him as well.

(CTB#192) Hurtling down a tentacle filled, throat-like gullet Conan cuts himself loose and lands amidst slime, refuse, and human bones. Conan hears Simeon’s voice rapidly fading in the distance and looks up to see strange purple slabs of unknown matter hurtling along, just above his head. Rather than face the slimy tentacle which have decided to make another grab for him Conan jumps up and latches onto one of the flying slabs. The insanely fast slabs carry him down the tunnel and Conan leaps off the slab just before it explodes upon impact with some sort of giant membranous wall. Conan is stunned by his rough landing and rises to find he has been discovered by a group of strange, warty green humanoids with tentacles for arms.

The sudden trauma of Conan’s fall and his entrance into the strange labyrinth take their toll and Conan collapses unconscious. The servitor beings take Conan through a fold in the fleshy, sweaty walls of the giant subterranean creature’s body and deep into its catacomb-like passages. Unfortunately they don’t get far enough before sensing monstrous danger approaching. It is the Keeper and it has come for the strange man from the world above! The servitors (as good a name as any other I guess!)seek to take him deeper into the bowels of the beast, but the Keeper is upon them! It has the scent of it’s prey and knows where they are trying to take Conan. Of course, Conan awakens dazed and groggy just as the Keeper is upon him, but he doesn’t manage to fight it off for a change. The Keeper’s chest cavity opens and extends a mass of tentacles ending in a starfish-shaped appendage it fastens to the back of the Cimmerian’s head.

(CTB#192) Conan suddenly finds himself in his old garb and back upon the surface in the midst of a storm. Worse, the Demon Wolf of Nostume’s Isle which he had already escaped once before is closing in on him. Not knowing if it is trickery or illusion Conan takes no chances and hacks the beats one good time, knocking it off of an outcropping. Racing up to make sure the beast isn’t playing dead Conan suddenly discovers his slain brother in arms, Delmurio the Zingaran, who had himslef died at the hands of the Demon Wolf. Grappling hand to hand after his sword is swatted away (one would guess due to surprise since this kind of thing doesn’t often happen to Conan) the Zingaran accuses Conan of leaving his friend to die. As he goes to deliver a blow Conan angrily yells that Delmurio was never his friend and then pauses. He is choking Tetra, the beautiful young girl that loved Conan and whom he rejected. The girl that was forever doomed by the dark magic on Nostume’s Isle, which had set her on the path to become the evil Witch-Queen of Shem. She says she loved Conan and he tells her she was just a girl. Tetra holds out her arms to embrace Conan.

 

 

"Lies! All lies!" Conan roars, "Your deceit fails, monster! Show me your true face - - !" The Keeper complies and the true battle begins in earnest. The Keeper grapples Conan’s face with his claws, intent or breaking the mask of Conan’s icy facade and see the true face beneath. The Keeper cracks open Conan’s face, proving victorious yet again. But then it sees Conan for who he is - - Conan. The face underneath is the same as the mask the Keeper destroyed. There is no deceit or hypocrisy in Conan. He is everything he appears to be and therefor cannot be destroyed. The Keeper thrives on jealousy, deceit, envy, covetousness, and therefor has nothing to feed on form Conan’s soul. The Keeper finds itself overwhelmed by the iron will of Conan’s towering self image (like all good hero’s Conan has a HUGE ego) and vanishes in a flash of blinding light.

(CTB#192) Conan suddenly awakens the severed starfish-like appendage from the Keeper’s chest still atached to the back of his head. Conan, stands and removes the appendage, and then suddenly the servitors that watched over his sleep flee. The Keeper returns. The Keeper tells Conan that he has succeeded in saving his miserable life and to flee while he has the chance. Conan says he will not leave without Simeon and the Keeper had best return him or face death. Outraged by the threat to his person the Keeper blusters until Conan tells him to save his threats and seizes him by the throat. Conan says he is slave to neither man nor demon and he will have the Keeper pay for his crimes. Once again the Keeper employs his patented psychic chest appendage, but this time seeks to smother and blind Conan rather than psychically attack.

Conan seizes one of the flying purple slabs that are again racing overhead. As they battle Conan and the Keeper clamber aboard one as they grapple. Conan tells the Keeper to return Simeon or have it’s neck broken. The Keeper refuses and then tells Conan to leap off the slab. They approach the Great Barrier. They must leap off or die upon impact. Conan has lost! He must jump away to save himself! The Keeper will escape before impact it says. Simeon is his forever! Leap off, fool! If the Keeper dies then Conan dies too! "Then we die together!" is the Cimmerian’s typically grim response.

BAM! The hit the Great Barrier in an explosion of weirdling energies. Conan finds himself not dead, but underwater. Swimming to the surface he finds Simeon waiting for him at the edge of an oasis. Conan is surprised, asking him how he escaped the Keeper. Simeon doesn’t know what Conan is talking about. The beast that lives under the oasis ingested him and then thought better of it and spat him back out. Simeon guesses he wasn’t tasty enough. He never saw a thing as he kept his eyes closed during his nightmare ride through the monster’s belly. Simeon asks Conan if he missed anything to which Conan replies, "No, Simeon. You didn’t miss a thing."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments: Created by James C. Owsley and Val Semeiks.
It is my understanding that Jim Owsley is a pseudonym for Christopher Priest (the writer of Black Panther--you better be reading it!!!)--Snood

Like all good monsters from the movies the Keeper rises from the waters of the oasis for one last good scare. However it is never seen again. One can assume it either continued it’s pursuit of weak willed, corrupt souls to feed upon in the surface world, or simply returned to the world inside the beast. The Keeper, the Beast, and the servitors (or their modern descendants) could all easily still be living somewhere beneath the surface of the modern day world - - most likely somewhere beneath Asia Minor or Northern Africa. For my money the Keeper was one of the coolest evil monsters to come down the pike in awhile. Yet another great monster/villain used once and then thrown away! GAH! I really wish Marvel would give me a job!

Note the similarities in the Keeper and the Scarlet Personage ‘s goals and methods of attack, most especially the illusory battleground drawn from the victim’s memories.

Given that one end of the Beast was filled with food-procuring tentacles and the other end dumped out on what appears to be a verdant and very fertile oasis, I’d guess that Conan’s little adventure occurred in the gullet and bowels of a gigantic beast, and finally dumped him unceremoniously out its ass end. That would make the Great Barrier what? A giant kidney? And the Keeper and the servitor symbiotic parasites? In any case, a pretty cool concept all around. It reminds me of that old video game Life Force!

Clarifications: The Keeper from the belly of the Beast should not be confused with:
The Keeper of Earth-Guardians of the Galaxy, an alternate future counterpart of the Silver Surfer,
@ Guardians of the Galaxy#23

The Keeper of the Underworld from Terry Goodkind’s Wizard’s First Rule, The Stone of Tears, or any of the other novels in his superb sword and sorcery series "The Sword of Truth".

Any of the hundreds of other figures from books and comics called the Keeper of... (fill in blank with thing or place of your choice).

Profile by: Greg O’Driscoll


Mad Simeon was the one who got Conan into the whole mess involving the evil Keeper, due to his idiotic tomfoolery. Even worse he didn’t even have to fight the monster! Since he didn’t jump off of the purple pod he landed on he went straight through the Great Barrier and landed in the oasis. First Tetra and Delmurio sleep through the Scarlet Personage’s attack and now this! What’s next? Conan gets gang raped by demons while Red Sonja watches and eats popcorn? Good help must be hard to find in the Hyborian Age.

Last updated: 08/02/02

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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