Sunday morning and Conan and I are at Cracker Barrel a little before sunrise. I'm having the pancake breakfast and Conan, as usual, is having one of everything.
“How can you eat so much?” I say.
Conan doesn't answer. He merely glowers at me from beneath bushy brows and stuffs an entire pancake into his mouth.
The elderly couple at the table next to us are stealing nervous glances at my dining companion. He is clad in leather kilt and sandals. His broadsword leans against a wall.
Catching my eye, the elderly lady says, “Where is that boy's coat?”
I smile. It's something my grandmother would say when I would breeze in during 30 degree weather in my shirt sleeves. “Where is your coat, son?”
“He's from Cimmeria,” I say. “It's cold there all the time.”
The lady looks dubious but goes back to her breakfast. Conan jams three sausage links into his mouth and says, “You've never been to Cimmeria, have you?”
I shake my head. Conan says, “It's a dark land. The trees are packed so close and the mountains loom so high that sunlight never touches parts of the ground. Somber hills and leaden gray skies. In the winter it snows and in what passes for summer it rains.”
“A hard land,” I say, just to be saying something.
“In my memory I see only the clouds that pile forever on the hills and the dimness of the everlasting woods.”
“Next time I'm bringing Red Sonja to breakfast,” I say. “She's not as depressing as you and she looks a lot better in chain mail.”
“Aye,” Conan says, grinning. “That she does.”