Warning: This blog post contains plot spoilers for this 1970s comic. Read further at your own risk, and may Mitra have mercy on your soul!
Marvel Comics "Conan The Barbarian" Issue 45 sees our hero in the city of Shadizar. The Cimmerian is having a bad day, missing his friend Red Sonja, and all the ale he's drinking doesn't help him feel better. When a blond-haired minstrel starts singing, he listens to the man's song, as the melancholy lyrics match his mood.
Not everyone in the tavern is a music lover. When his fellow drinkers interrupt the song, and give the man a hard time, Conan rises and rebukes them for disrespecting the musician.
As his verbal rebukes are swiftly followed by a fist-fight and swordplay, Conan and the minstrel are thrown in jail. At least the cell proves the perfect setting for the man to continue his song undisturbed. Then the musician produces a weapon secreted in his instrument, and the two escape their cell.
Conan has no pressing engagements, so he accompanies the man back to his homeland. It seems the minstrel fled home one night because a dying woman warned him to beware the local lord, who devoured the souls of men. When Conan and the minstrel reach the Dark Valley, they discover frightened farmers still paying their lord tribute.
A beautiful young servant leads the farmers' sacrifices away. The two men watch a many-tentacled monster devour the cows. Then the minstrel attacks and kills the monster, only to watch the young woman age rapidly. Before she dies, she tells him that she was his mother, and that the monster was (You guessed it) his father.
As you can imagine, this doesn't exactly make the minstrel's day.
"The Last Ballad of Laza-Lanti" reminds me of four important truths.
1) When I'm feeling down, drinking alcoholic beverages probably isn't the best way to raise my spirits.
2) Always stand up for minstrels. Music is good for the soul.
3) Keep working at those difficult family relationships, or those misunderstandings will only worsen. Others may seem like monsters, but focusing on the issues that separate you, rather than on the love you share, can lead to words or actions that damage or destroy the relationship. And finally,
4) Love is the best anti-aging remedy.
Thanks Conan (and Roy Thomas, John Buscema and company) for reminding me of these timeless truths!