I'm trying to remember a Conan story where an antagonist is killed when he opens a treasure chest trapped with a poisoned fang or tooth In the chest's decorations. I'm wondering if it's not the inspiration for the classic poison needle trap in D&D and countless similar games, and would like to reread the story to compare it to the genre convention.

1 Answer 1


I remembered! It is The Hour of the Dragon by REH (of course).

Here is the passage I wanted to reread:

Along the rim of the lid seven skulls were carved among intertwining branches of strange trees. An inlaid dragon writhed its way across the top of the lid, amid ornate arabesques. Valbroso pressed the skulls in rumbling haste, and as he jammed his thumb down on the carved head of the dragon he swore sharply and snatched his hand away, shaking it in irritation.

"A sharp point on the carvings," he snarled. "I've pricked my thumb."

He pressed the gold ball clutched in the dragon's talons, and the lid flew abruptly open.


"The dragon's fang!" shrieked Zorathus. "Steeped in the venom of the black Stygian scorpion! Fool, fool to open the box of Zorathus with your naked hand! Death! You are a dead man now!"

  • Without having read the source material, I can't help but imagine Zorathus spends all his free time crouched in a room with his box, just so he can yell at people who poison themselves trying to open it.
    – Dan J
    Dec 2, 2017 at 2:12

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