The Black Stranger
|"The Black Stranger"|
|Media type||Print (|
"The Black Stranger" is a
The original version of the story was later rewritten by
Howard's original version of the story was first published in 1987 in
The story begins with
Coinciding with Conan's attempt at looting the treasure is the main plot of a character named Count Valenso Korzetta, a former nobleman from Zingara. Vanlenso has fled his homeland to escape a demon whom he double-crossed, only to end up on the western shores of the Pictish territory. With his entourage are his niece, the Lady Belesa, and her handmaiden, Tina, along with other soldiers and retainers. The Count is stunned when he learns that a
The buccaneers are both bitter enemies and bring their
Conan's scheme ultimately fails, and the sailors find themselves trapped by Picts surrounding the rocky crag. The pirates once again declare a truce to combat a common foe. Once the pirates escape the crag, it is a race to the Count's stronghold with the Picts in hot pursuit. The story ends with the defeat of the stronghold by the Picts as well as the deaths of the Count, Strombanni, and Black Zarono. However, Conan himself manages to escape across the fortress wall in the ensuing chaos, carrying both Belesa and Tina with him to safety.
"The black stranger" referred to in the title proves out to be a vengeful stygian mage whose services Valenso has utilized but then betrayed and deceived. The now chaotic political situation in Zingara causes that Valenso have no king or other to protect him. Hence he must flee the land, not knowing that his sea captain have his own plans - and a map leading to the treasure of Tranicos. When little Tina tells of a strange black man that she has seen arriving to the shore Valenso reacts violently, indeed insanely, if not shooting so at least brutally beating up the messenger. De Camp did identify this unnamed stygian mage with Thoth- Amon.
A rather terrible aspect of this story is that at Most 12- year old Tina was originally a sex-slave of the said captain. She was rescued from this by Belesa to whom Tina, wise beyond her age, is totally devoted. Another unpleasant aspect is the undeniable racism we meet in this story.
Howard's version of the story pointed toward a new piratical career for Conan; one of de Camp's major changes was to make it lead instead into the revolution that would bring the Cimmerian to the throne of