Warlord v1 #10

warlord010
Dec 77/Jan 78

Tower of Fear
17 pages

Credits
Writer/Artist: Mike Grell
Letterer: Ben Oda
Colourist: Liz Berube
Editor: Larry Hama
Cover: Mike Grell

Characters
Travis Morgan, Mariah, Machiste, Tanea, Ashiya, Deimos

Synopsis
The intrepid trio of Morgan, Machiste and Mariah are travelling on horseback when they spot a comely maiden tied to a cross about to be sacrificed by men in hooded purple robes. As usual, Morgan takes exception to this behaviour and gallops in to cut them to pieces with his sword, which he does rather effectively.

After Morgan frees the girl, she tells him her name is Ashiya. Her people had been conquered and the Mask of Life, a symbol of her nation, was taken as a prize. Ahiya was to be sacrificed as payment for returning the mask. Morgan says that her people should fight for it, but Ashiya tells him that her people's warriors are not mighty enough to retrieve it from the Tower of Fear.

The sleek ebon tower rises high above the jungle that surrounds it. Unguarded, its presence is legendary. None who enter ever return. This is perfect for the trio of adventurers. Mariah bets that she can reach the top of the tower before the men, and they readily agree to the wager. As they enter the base of the tower, Morgan doesn't play fair and locks Mariah out. The menfolk, firmly in control, begin ascending the long curved stairwell built into the wall of the tower.

There is dark magic awork here, and a green, luminous, transparent tentacled thing materialises and grabs onto Morgan and Machiste, hoisting them off the stairs and towards its bluntly fanged mouth. Morgan, ever furious, hacks off the tentacle that binds him and pierces the creature's sole magenta eye and dispatches it back to the netherworld it came from.

They continue to the summit of the tower unmolested. At the top, the stairs end and a bridge carries them to the opposite side of the tower. As they cross, a swirling red ethereal gate opens, spewing demons. Morgan and Machiste hack their way past them. When they open the wooden door at the end of the bridge, the sunlight dispatches the unholy creatures. Closing the door quickly, the two men take a breather, happy to have survived. They find Mariah already there, lounging, twirling the Mask of Life in one hand.

Morgan and Machiste had failed to notice that the statues at the base of the tower were floating on discs. When Mariah removed the heavy statue, the disc floated her to the top of the tower. Their task accomplished, the trio hop onto the disc and under their combined weight it descends gently to the ground. A grateful Ashiya takes the mask and Mariah collects her winnings on the bet by having Machiste shave his head bald. Morgan, unscathed, vows to not underestimate Mariah, or bet with her anytime soon.

Meanwhile, Ashiya has returned to her lair, where she dispels the illusion that made her a beautiful young woman. She gloats over the fact that she has duped the Warlord, her master's greatest enemy. Now an ugly old crone, she places the Mask of Life upon the face of the dead man lying on her table. The air is filled with crackling energy and the body rictuses. He pulls the mask from his face revealing a livid red scar where Morgan had cleaved his head nearly in two, and Deimos lives again!

Notes
First appearance of Machiste bald, now his trademark look.

The revival of Deimos is reminiscent of R'as al Ghul's in Batman #243. eom

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