“The Secret of the Crystal Skull”
Writer: Michael Fleisher
Artist: Ron Randall
Morgan and Shakira are in the town of Shalmander the furthest town on the known map of Skartaris. While there Morgan rescues a woman who is being robbed. The noble woman Ladah Panar is grateful and invites the two to her palace. Morgan needs rest and Panar offers to have her servants haggle for the supplies. So they get a tour of her collection of art which includes a rare diamond rumored to fit into a crystal skull. The other diamond is owned by the magistrate Imag Grann. So while they sleep a black cat comes and steals the diamond. Morgan thinks its Shakira but she denies it. Shakira does know who did it and finds a man named Daimon at the home of Grann. Daimon and Shakira have a romantic past and Daimon can also turn into a cat. Shakira convinces him to return the diamond but Grann comes and shoots an arrow into Daimon and takes the diamond.
Morgan comes and helps Shakira with the wounded Daimon. Then goes and confronts Grann who took the diamond to power up a crystal skull. With a helmet he also unearthed he now has powerful psychic abilities and attacks Morgan. Only Morgan manages to draw his pistol and put a bullet through his forehead. He then helps Shakira with the wounded Daimon. Meanwhile Machiste and Mariah are taken by the skeleton barge to the island of Unmschal. The warrior-priest there like to take survivors of the shipwrecks they cause so they can torture them.
This was an interesting issue. The big news is the introduction of a romantic interest for Shakira. Someone who comes from the same people as Shakira and turns into a black cat. A rogue who can be persuaded to do the right thing by Shakira. The story ends with it being uncertain if he will survive his wounds. At this stage I was neutral about the character. Neither liking or disliking him. I give Fleisher marks for trying to establish some sort of origin for Shakira but I think only Grell could do that story justice. The side plot with Mariah and Machiste has some interesting developments. What I didn’t like is the whining of Mariah. This is just not her character.