Witch Shall Born is one of the original novellas by Robert E. Howard about Conan the Cimmerian.
Witch Shall Born written in only a few days in spring of 1934 and first published in Weird Tales in December 1934. The story concerns a witch replacing her twin sister as queen of a city state. This brings her into conflict with Conan who had been the captain of the queen’s guard.
Themes of paranoia, and the duality of the twin sisters, are paramount in this story. But it also includes elements of the conflict between barbarism and civilization that is common to the entire Conan series.
The novella as a whole is considered an average example of the series. But one scene stands out. Conan’s crucifixion early in the story in the second chapter (“The Tree of Death”). This scene considered one of the most memorable in the entire series. A variation of this scene included in the 1982 film Conan the Barbarian with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Queen Taramis of Khauran awakens one day to find an identical twin sister, Salome, staring her in the face. As an infant, Salome was deemed a witch due to a crescent birthmark on her chest. This birthmark was believed to be a sign of evil, so she was left in the desert to die. However, a magician from Khitai (China) found her, brought her up, and instructed her in the arts of sorcery.