"Damned if we couldn't use Morgan Smith to help us fight old Malachi Score," stated the white-haired old man, sitting at the bar.
Several others nearby nodded in agreement. A young man, Jason Nash, sitting on a seat nearby turned to the white-haired elder in puzzlement. "I've heard that name before, but I can't remember where or when. Who is this man, Morgan Smith?"
"Smith," the old one, downing the last of his ale, "is a man who fights evil for reasons an ordinary man can understand. He's not some prancing nobleman, looking for glory, but a man fighting for his own life and soul."
"No one knows much of his early life," continued another old sod, totally bald but with a thick, gray moustache, "but there's a story that claims he's the son of an Arabic wizard and an English mother. A son who was promised to some demon-god worshipped by that wizard. The monster intended to use Smith's living body as a vessel to walk the Earth in the body of a man."
"Aye," and now the bartender, a heavy man with a chest the size of a sea cask, "but Smith had a mind of his own. He had mystic powers inherited from his father. His soul was pledged to the demon god, but he could resist. A strong man, and a devil with a sword, he fled his father's palace the day before the unholy transformation was to take place. He's been on the run ever since, aye Paddy?"
"That was a hundred years ago," said the original speaker. "Smith doesn't age like a normal man. The ring he wears, a mystic sigil known as the Seal of Nyarlathotep, keeps him young and gives him powers beyond human keen. But, it's the same ring that betrays his location to the demon god."
"What nonsense" laughed the young man, who had sat listening without a sound. "Why wouldn't this Smith just discard the ring and be free of the monster's curse?"
"Without the ring, Smith would grow old and die, just like the rest of us," answered Paddy. "Smith's a brave man and a deadly fighter. But, he fears death. And he fears what lies beyond the grave."
"And what does this great hero look like?"
"I've never seen him but I've heard described so often that I would recognize him instantly if I saw him." Paddy peered into the young man's eyes. "He stand several inches over six feet tall and he weighs near two-hundred and fifty pounds."
"Little of that fat, I'll wager," chimed in the bartender.
"His shoulders are wider than any ordinary man's and his arms are muscled like those of a blacksmith. Still, it's his face that makes him easy to recognize. Sharp beak nose and arching brow and features that could be cut out of cold marble. Eyes that burn black with a hellfire all their own. A black, square cut black beard covers his lower face, showing the power of his jaw."
"Proud as the devil, I've heard," said the bald sailor. "He's know as a harsh man, but never a cruel one."
"He's a quiet man," came a low voice from a booth in the rear of the tavern. "He favors black clothing for it gives him a certain dignity. He speaks five languages fluently and knows a little of three others. He's a master of black magic and often uses such in his battle with the dark powers."
"You seem to know a great deal about this miracle worker," laughed the young man. "Can't you tell us more?"
"Surely," came back that same soft voice. "He's traveled throughout England and Europe fighting evil in its many shapes and forms. He's even been to the colonies once. Smith appreciates good wine and fine women, but he's no libertine. and has even been to the Colonies once. Morgan Smith appreciates a good wine and a fine woman, but he is no libertine, merely a man who appreciates life's finest pleasures. He's grim, but has a cynical sense of humor. He finds fools, like yourself, amusing. No man living can match him in strength and he is the devil's master with a sword."
"You seem to admire this man greatly," declared the young man, rising from his chair. He placed one hand on the hilt of his sword. Wine slurred his speech. "I do not take kindly to being called a fool."
"Take it or be damned," said the stranger, as he emerged into the light. A huge, gigantic figure, there was death in his eyes and only the hint of a smile on his face. "Draw your sword and it will be the last move you ever make."
Trembling, the young man dropped back onto his chair. He might be slightly drunk, but he wasn't crazy. "You-you are Morgan Smith."
"That's my name, I won't deny it," said the big man, his black cloak swirling about him like gigantic wings. He stared at the white-haired man, Paddy. "You mentioned one who calls himself Malachi Score. I've encountered him before, using other names. He and I have an old debt to settle. With your leave, I'll right the wrong he did to you and your friends at the same time?"
"With thanks," said Paddy, his voice trembling with emotion. "With all of our thanks, both living and dead."
Smith smiled. And, then, like a wild, ice-cold wind, the man in black was gone. Gone, into the night.
*originally published in MS 74 (# 8) (May74 mailing)
The Morgan Smith Stories:
The Crushing Death
The Damned Dance in Hell M
The Dark One
The Dead Land
The Drinker of Souls
Drums of Death
The Feaster of Souls
The Flying Horned One
From Beyond the Lake of Shades
Hunter Out of Chaos
It Sleeps Beneath the Sands
The Little Ones of the Hills
Master of Shadows
Power of Stone
Ring of the Demon God
A Statue of Unknown Origin
They Drink Blood
The Haunted Palace
The Thing from the Sea
A Thing of Bones
The Twelve Coins of Confucius
Wings of Darkness
Return to My Life with Morgan Smith.
From Beyond the Lake of Shades.
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