Warlord v1 #12

Apr/May 78

17 pages

Writer/Artist: Mike Grell
Editor: Larry Hama
Cover: Mike Grell

Travis Morgan, Machiste, Mariah, Aton

In the port of Bakwele, Morgan, Machiste and Mariah are taking a break from the road. While Mariah and Machiste are happy to relax, Morgan is in Crazy Earl's pub drinking and brawling. While Machiste admires him for it, Mariah is less than impressed. She wonders why she followed him to Skartaris, and doesn't like Machiste's comment that Morgan is a man and she's a woman.

Machiste, a king in his own land, tells Mariah why he follows the Warlord. After the gladiators had escaped the school, Morgan taught the men discipline and gave them the concept of liberty. One day before a battle, a boy named Aton tries to join Morgan's army, inspired by the stories of the Warlord's fight for liberty, justice and equality. Morgan kindly tells the boy that the life of a warrior is a short one and he should be not in any hurry to grow up. He sends Aton on his way, but before he's gotten a hundred feet away, a hungry dinosaur tries to make a meal of him.

Morgan and Machiste dash in trying to kill the carnivore. It turns its attention on Morgan, and while it's distracted Aton cuts the beast's hamstring with a slice of his sharp sword. Morgan and Machiste quickly finish it off. Morgan reconsiders Aton and rewards him with a helmet, a flag with the Warlord's crest on it and a magnificent warhorse. He tells the boy to be his herald and to return to his village to carry word of the dream. Morgan, ever the warrior, returns to the battle.

Mariah considers the story, trying to fit in with her impressions of the man. She remembers her own experience with him, shortly after he brought her to Skartaris. She tells Machiste that they were watching a beautiful unicorn standing in a clearing. Suddenly, its life is cut short as an arrow piereces its heart. Three savage natives of Skartaris, oblivious to the mythical wonder of the creature have killed it for its horn.

Morgan's equally savage reaction is immediate. Seconds later the three savages lie dead, victims of Morgan's deadly sword. Morgan's rage subsides and he weeps inconsolably over the unicorn's still body. Mariah cannot understand how he can be an inhuman savage one moment, and a vulnerable man the next.

Before Machiste can answer Mariah, one of Morgan's combatants in the pub comes flying between them. Morgan, now finished with his exercise, tells Mariah to forget trying to figure him out. Even Morgan himself does not have the answer. He acknowledges the thrill of being a warrior and adventurer. To be sure, life is short at best but this is the life to live.

The first appearance of Aton, who grows up to become a prominent character later in the series.

In flashback, Morgan appears in his original costume. eom

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