Warlord v1 #25

Sep 79

This Sword for Hire
17 pages

Writer/Penciller: Mike Grell
Inker: Vince Colletta
Letterer: Ben Oda
Colourist: Adrienne Roy
Editor: Jack C. Harris
Cover: Mike Grell

Travis Morgan, Tara, Mariah, Machiste, Atalus, Chakal, Balfoosh, Ashir

At an oasis on the edge of the great desert, Tara, Mariah and Machiste are resting. Machiste and Mariah keep watch over Tara, who mourns for the loss of her son and being abandoned by Morgan.

A hundred leagues to the south, Morgan has joined up with a band of mercenaries, but it’s not a perfect fit. One of them, Atalus, tries to kill him in personal combat only to lose his life, and another, Chakal, is openly hostile. The leader Balfoosh returns and breaks up the tense moment. Chakal is still angry. Before Morgan arrived he was second in command.

Balfoosh has their next mission, to find the thief Ashir for Prince Kali. The band sets out on horseback to the southwest and the Mountains of the Sun. A narrow mountainside trail winds high up into the mountains. Rocks block the trail, and Morgan barely has time to comment that this is the perfect place for a trap before an avalanche of rock comes sliding down the mountain, taking almost all the mercenaries with it. Morgan, Balfoosh and Chakal survive.

Higher into the mountains they go, only to be set upon by a huge blue snow giant in search of man meat. The colossal fist of the titan crushes Balfoosh with one blow, spooking the other two men’s horses. The giant reaches for Chakal next, but the wily warrior uses his axe to chop off one of the giant’s fingertips. Shocked by the sudden pain the giant backhands Chakal off his horse and he lands on snow-covered rocks.

Morgan leaps into action and drives his longsword through the snow giant’s ear and straight on through his head. The beast topples over with a thunderous crash, dead.

Morgan continues on to find Ashir, thinking of the reward and that he has nothing better to do. Further up the narrow trail, Morgan’s horse trips a cord strung across the path and a branch whips out unhorsing Morgan. Dazed, Morgan looks up as a brightly-clothed man leaps down upon him, dagger in hand. Morgan cannot be taken that easily and he flips Ashir who nearly goes over the mountainside. Morgan pulls him up, but Ashir is not done fighting. He pulls his sword and repart&eactue;e, extolling his virtues – that he is the second-best thief in Skartaris after Harrando – but Morgan still beats him easily and intends on taking Ashir back to Prince Kali.

Ashir says he stole a woman, but she went with him willingly, and then left when the gold ran out. Ashir asks why Morgan continued after the rest of his party had been killed. Morgan says for the money. Ashir may be a rogue but he knows someone like himself when he sees them. They do it for the adventure. A life without regrets.

Morgan, however, is not so carefree. His regrets are few, he says, but they are great.

He is about to leave Ashir to his own devices, abandoning the reward, when Chakal appears. Holding a drawn bow on Ashir, he intends on taking the thief prisoner. Morgan promptly shoots Chakal dead with his pistol. Ashir asks Morgan where he is heading, and says he could use a man like him to help find the the Eye of Truth, a great jewel.

Meanwhile, in darkness, Morgan is being watched through a crystal ball, a gnarled hand resting atop the glass globe.

The first appearance of Ashir.

Harrando, formerly the best thief in Skartaris, died in issue Warlord v1 #24.

If you think I’m using the phrase ‘in search of man meat’ to be mocking, please see page 8, panel 5. eom

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