“The Blood of Bel-Hissar!”
Writer: Roy Thomas based on “The Blood of Belshazzar” by Robert E. Howard
Artist: John Buscema
Conan has ridden south of doomed Makkalet. He comes on a huge Khaitain beating on a woman so he intervenes. The man is Turghol a mute. The two start to fight but the arrival of Turanians force the three to flee. They find shelter in a castle that is inhabited by brigands. Their leader is Skol Abdur the Butcher. He is in charge because he holds the Blood of Bel-Hissar. A giant ruby that was found by a pearl diver back in ancient Acheron. The jewel is supposed to be cursed and Skol Abdur plays off the brigands against each other to stay in power. Later at night the girl he rescues drugs his drink and he wakes up on the floor. He goes searching and finds Skol murdered. The brigands think he did it and the arrival of the girl accusing Conan seals their suspicion. So a fight ensues and Conan is rescued by Turghol. They flee the castle and Turghol shows Conan that he has the jewel. The woman he was beating was his wife and she treacherously tried to steal the jewel but Turghol managed to take it. Conan decides the jewel is bad luck and rides off leaving Turghol.
So another story that was a Crusader non-Conan story written by Howard. It fit perfectly in Conan. Once again we see the brilliance of Howard with his unique story of treachery and various hostile factions. The woman was not innocent. Turghol was a character that I believe shows up again in the future. He had potential. A good story to kick off Conan’s return to wandering the world.