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"Rogues in the House" is a novelette by Robert E. Howard first published in Weird Tales 23 1 (January 1934).

Plot Summary[]

Conan is drawn into a feud between a priest and a nobleman in Corinthia, and ends up trapped in a house and hunted by a beast.

Detailed Synopsis[]

  • 1.
    When the Red Priest Nabonidus smugly delivers a human ear to the Corinthian aristocrat Prince Murilo, the young man gets the hint and begins to plot how to take out the priest before the priest gets to him. He visits an imprisoned Conan, who was captured after killing a priest of Anu who had ordered the hanging of a Gunderman companion of the barbarian's. Murilo, having bribed the guard, offers Conan his freedom if he kills Nabonidus, and the Cimmerian agrees, but asks for a full meal first. Murilo returns to his house, but is horrified to learn that the bribed guard, Athicus, has been arrested and Conan remains in his cell. Imagining that his plot has been discovered, he decides to slay Nabonidus himself and scales the wall to the priest's home. Once inside the garden, he finds the remains of the guard dog he was expecting to fight, and when he gets in the house discovers it has been torn apart and the body of Nabonidus's servant lies dead. Prince Murilo then finds the priest sitting in his chair, but as he creeps closer, the figure suddenly stands and faces the young aristocrat, who drops his sword and lets out a single cry before silence falls again on the house.
  • 2.
    Back in his cell, Conan hungrily devours his platter of food and ale, unaware that Athicus is being arrested for corruption unrelated to his deal with Murillo. When the new jailer makes his rounds he discovers Conan's cell unlocked, the barbarian himself unchained and working his way through a leg of beef. When the surprised jailer steps into the room, the Cimmerian brains him with the bone and takes his weapon. After escaping, he decides to fulfill his part of the bargain with Prince Murillo, but before he goes to kill the priest, he visits the woman who turned him in. After killing her latest lover, he takes her and drops her into a cesspool, then decides to slay Nabonidus.
  • 3.
    Prince Murillo awakens in a pitch black corridor and feels his way down the stone walls. Soon, he senses a figure in front of him; luckily it turns out to be Conan. Murillo tells Conan of Cimmeria that it was a demonic, hairy monster that he encountered earlier, and he shares his suspicions that Nabonidus is a were-creature, which Conan finds plausible. Unfortunately, the sewer grate that Conan used to enter the abode has collapsed, so the two are forced to search for another exit. A bit further along they come across the stirring body of Nabonidus, who reveals that the creature wearing his gown and sitting in his chair is Thak, an ape-like humanoid from Zamora, who Nabonidus had taken in as a cub, but retained enough intelligence to attack and overthrow his master. Realizing his life is in Prince Murillo and Conan's hands, he agrees to keep the Corinthian Prince's possibly treacherous dalliances from the king in return for safety. The priest shows the others a system of mirrors through which they observe Thak, who sits blocking the only exit. As they observe through the mirrors, they see a group of rebels led by a nationalist named Petreus attempt to sneak up behind Thak, who leaps up and pulls on a rope, entrapping the rebels behind a glass barrier and releasing a poison gas that drives the rebels to tear each other apart to Thak's delight. Nabonidus is impressed the creature had the memory and ability to activate the trap, but Murillo and Conan are stunned. Thak begins to reset the trap, and the three men take the opportunity to attempt to flee by him. They are not quick enough, and the beast emerges at the end of a curtained corridor. Conan hides behind a curtain, and with Prince Murillo as bait, leaps out onto Thak's back. The fight is tremendous, and only goes Conan's way when Murillo hits the beast with a chair, distracting it long enough for Conan to plunge his sword in its heart. As Murillo and Conan prepare to leave, they realize that Nabonidus has reached the poison gas trap trigger and was preparing to spring it on the other two. Conan swiftly throws a stool at the priest's head and kills him. As the two men exit the house, Conan decides it's time to leave the city.


  • Conan
  • Nabonidus, Red Priest
  • Murilo, nobleman
  • Athicus, prison guard
  • Petreus, rebel nationalist
  • Thak, ape-man



Miller/Clark/deCamp Chronology
Previous Story:
"The God in the Bowl"
"Rogues in the House" Next Story:
Conan and the Sorcerer
Robert Jordan Chronology
Previous Story:
Conan the Champion
"Rogues in the House" Next Story:
Conan the Victorious
William Galen Gray Chronology
Previous Story:
Conan the Warlord
"Rogues in the House" Next Story:
Conan the Victorious
Joe Marek Chronology
Previous Story:
"The Hall of the Dead"
"Rogues in the House" Next Story:
"The God in the Bowl"
Dale Rippke Chronology
Previous Story:
"The Hall of the Dead"
"Rogues in the House" Next Story:
"The Hand of Nergal"

Publication history[]

  • "Rogues in the House" (novelette) • Robert E. HowardWeird Tales 23 1 (January 1934)
  • Terror by Night anthology (Selwyn and Blount, 1934, ed. Christine Campbell Thomson)
  • Skull-Face and Others (Arkham House, 1946)
  • The Coming of Conan (Gnome Press, 1953)
  • More Not at Night anthology (Arrow Books, 1961, ed. Christine Campbell Thomson)
  • Conan (Lancer, 1967, later reissued by Ace Books)
  • Rogues in the House (Donald M. Grant, Publisher, Inc., 1976)
  • The Conan Chronicles (Sphere Books, 1989)
  • The Conan Chronicles, Volume 1: The People of the Black Circle (Gollancz, 2000)
  • Conan of Cimmeria: Volume One (1932-1933) (Del Rey, 2003).