“The Rats Dance at Ravengard!”
Writer: Roy Thomas adopted from novel “Kothar and the Conjurer’s Curse” by Gardner F. Fox.
Artist: John Buscema
While riding to Phalkar, Stefyana gets Conan to talk about his youth in Cimmeria. He tells how on his fifteenth birthday he was send out in winter to survive with nothing but his sword and a fur coat. Conan manages to kill some wolves and find shelter on his first day. He decides to explore the nearby mountains that are forbidden. There he meets a beautiful woman with two polar bears for companions. The woman named Ursla takes him in and turns the young Conan into a man. As they continue on they come on Torkal Moh, the Baron of Ravengard. He demands tribute from Conan. Conan naturally refuses but is overwhelmed by numbers. He is knocked out and wakes staked out on the ground. The baron likes Conan’s defiance and puts a gourd of water in his hand. As he leaves the rats come out.
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: John Buscema & Dick Giordano
Red Sonja rides through the forest of Darkwood in Nemedia. She turns a corner and gets caught up in a giant spider web. A giant spider then tries to eat her. Fortunately some Kushites come and save her. They take her to their master’s castle. The master Vincentius is overjoyed at Sonja’s presence and offers her ale. The ale turns out to be drugged and she finds herself tied to an alter. Vincentius also has a blonde warrior named Hunwolf tied up. He plans to sacrifice them to his dark gods. Sonja manages to grab him with her legs and take his knife. Vincentius refuses to surrender and gets killed for his efforts. She frees Hunwolf who then starts a fight with the Kushite slaves. Later Sonja finds out Hunwolf killed a friend and takes revenge.
So we get the second half of the story that was supposed to be in last issue. A great story about Conan’s youth and his first experience with a woman. Nice to get some glimpses of his youth in Cimmeria. Also he continues to be a badass by taunting Torkal Moh and knowing Conan I’m sure he’ll get his revenge.
To fill the second half of the issue they give us a quality Red Sonja story and not some hokey reprint from the fifties. This was also an excellent story. I love how Sonja was going to spare Vincientius since she had no quarrel with him, other than him trying to kill her. Sonja sure is forgiving and Vincentius should have taken advantage of it. But he was too dumb and got what he deserved. An enjoyable issue with two great stories.