|Lady Belesa of
(circa "The Black Stranger")
Human Female Aristocrat
Hit Points: 8
Speed: 30 ft.
Attacks: Masterwork Dagger -1
Damage: Masterwork Dagger 1d4-1
Face/Reach: 5 ft. by 5 ft./5 ft.
Saves: Fort +0, Ref +0, Will +3
Abilities: Str 8, Dex 10, Con 10, Int 12, Wis 13, Cha 12
Skills: Craft (embroidery) +7, Diplomacy +5, Innuendo +5, Perform (Dance) +5, Sense Motive +7
Feats: Skill Focus (Craft), Skill Focus (Sense Motive)
Climate/Terrain: Zingara, Pictish Wilderness
Challenge Rating: 0
Alignment: Lawful Good
Advancement: by Character class
The Black Stranger
Count Valenso Korzetta
Strom the Barachan
Black Zarono the Buccaneer
Galbro the Senschenal (Valenso's Cohort)
|"The door opened behind her and she whirled, snatching up a jeweled dagger. The Count stood in the door… and his eyes stared in a way that roused fear in her bosom. She lifted the dagger. 'If you touch her again,' she whispered from dry lips, 'I swear before Mitra I will sink this blade in your breast'."|
|~Robert E. Howard, "The Black Stranger"|
|Lady Belesa is the
niece of Count Valenso. She has a soft spot for troubled people, and
took in Tina, an abused servant girl, from her cruel master. Belesa,
after the events of "The Black Stranger", returned to Zingara with a pouch
of jewels given to her by Conan.
Belesa is characterized by kindness and determination. She loves Tina as a child, and will fight to defend her.
|Lady Belesa fights with a jeweled dagger.|
|Robert E. Howard completed twenty-one Conan
stories during the four years that he wrote them. Of these,
seventeen were published in Weird Tales. The other four,
rejected by Farnsworth Wright, the editor of Weird
remained unpublished until many years after Howard's suicide. "The
Black Stranger" is one of these four completed stories.
After it was rejected, Howard made an unsuccessful attempt to salvage the story as a pirate yarn, substituting his pirate hero, Black Vulmea, for Conan, and calling it "Swords of the Red Brotherhood."
L. Sprague de Camp later found the original draft of the Conan version of the story and severly edited it so that the story would fit better into his personal idea of Conan's chronology. This rewrite was titled "The Treasure of Tranicos." De Camp changed the ending of the story: In the original, Conan decides to take up piracy again. In De Camp's alteration, some Aquilonian nobles divine Conan's location and go there to pick him up so he can lead a revolt against the King of Aquilonia. De Camp also changed the identity of the Black Stranger, changing it unnecessarily from a demon from the outer dark to Thoth Amon. He further changed the names of some characters. Strom became Strombanni in De Camp's recension.
Howard's original tale, unedited, was first published in paperback in 1987 in Karl Edward Wagner's "Echoes of Valor". It has since been published in Millenium Press' "Conan Chronicles Volume 2", which was recently released and is still in print.
|The artwork above for "Echoes of Valor" is by Ken Kelly and features Conan, Belesa, and Tina against the picts. This has got to be one of the worst examples of Mr. Kelly's art I have ever seen. The main trio seem static and posed and do not look threatened or scared or worried or... well, they don't really display any emotion at all. Really a shame, since I know Mr. Kelly can do better than this. His covers for the three Berkley/Putnam Conans were incredible, as were his artwork for the El Borak series by Howard. His Frazetta-like art works a lot better than his Boris imitations.|
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