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"The Phoenix on the Sword" begins with a middle-aged Conan of Cimmeria attempting to govern the turbulent kingdom of Aquilonia. Conan has recently seized the bloody crown of Aquilonia from King Numedides whom he strangled upon his throne; however, things have not gone well, as Conan is more suited to swinging a broadsword than to signing official documents with a stylus. The people of Aquilonia, who originally welcomed Conan as their liberator from Numedides' tyranny, have gradually turned against him due to his foreign Cimmerian blood. They have built a statue to Numedides' memory in the temple of Mitra, and people burn incense before it, hailing it as the holy effigy of a saintly monarch who was done to death by a red-handed barbarian.

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