Once again, spoilers will be within.
THE ONE BLACK STAIN
It’s a poem. I am not a poet, so don’t expect a detailed investigation of meter, rhyme, or other poetic conventions. I can say that I do not generally enjoy poems, but this kept my interest and I could follow what was happening, which is more than most poems.
Apparently this is based on a historical incident, per Infogalactic. A man named Sir Thomas Doughty was exectued in 1578 and Solomon believes it was done unjustly.
THE BLUE FLAME OF JUSTICE
This was previously published as BLADES OF THE BROTHERHOOD
Begins with a duel over the honor of a woman named Mary. The duel is only to first blood, between a noble, Sir George, and a common person, Jack. Jack wounds Sir George, but wants to kill him. Sir George slandered Jack’s love and in Jack’s mind, only Sir Geroge’s death can end that dishonor. However, good sense prevails and Jack leaves the duel site.
While walking away and grumbling about the duel, he comes upon Solomon Kane, who is watching a ship in the distance. Solomon admonishes the young man for his hasty words and taking the Lord’s name in vain. During the conversation, it is revealed that this ship might belong to the infamous pirate “The Fishhawk”. However, the ship is too far from shore to properly identify, so the two go their separate ways.
Later that night, Jack is informed that the woman was captured by Sir George. Eager to save her, he rushes to Sir George’s estate. Unfortunately, he is knocked unconscious and captured. When he comes to in the cellar, he sees that Sir George and the pirate are in league with each other. They plan to kill Jack and sell Mary into slavery.
Suddenly, Solomon Kane appears at the top of the cellar stairs. He reveals that he has been hunting this pirate group due to what they did to a young woman a couple years back. He is about to shoot the Fishhawk in cold blood for his crimes against man and God, when the pirate appeals to Kane’s vanity and insists on a duel…with knives. Kane accepts, because he does not want anyone to ever say he was a coward. Shooting a man in cold blood could be perceived as cowardly. Solomon Kane is not perfect, despite his many skills and talents. He is still human.
Kane wins the knife fight and kills the Fishhawk. The other pirates scatter and in the confusion, Solomon, Jack, and Mary escape. However, from a secret passage, Mary is snatched. Thus, Solomon and Jack must find the remaining pirates to get her back.
They locate the pirates deciding whether or not bring Mary with them or kill her on the spot. Jack sees Sir George and recklessly attacks. However, Sir George is wearing steel under his clothes, so Jack’s attacks do not work. Wounded and tired, Solomon intervenes and duels Sir George. Solomon prevails and, despite the pleas of Jack and Mary, leaves with these parting words:
“…I work the will of God. While evil flourishes and wrongs grow rank, while men are persecuted and women wronged, while weak things, human or animal, are maltreated, there is no rest of me beneath the skies, nor peace at any board or bed. Farewell!”
If you ever play a paladin in a roleplaying game and the paladin would disagree with any part of the above statement, crumple up your character sheet, throw it in a shredder, and roll up something else. You are not fit for paladin-hood.
THE HILLS OF THE DEAD
The story begins with the return of the African voodoo man N’Longa. He speaks with Solomon and gives him a staff that he claims will save Solomon when guns and knives fail.
While wandering through the African grasslands, he saves a woman from a hungry lion with a single musket shot. He then attempts to escort her back to her village. However, it grows dark and he leads her into a cave to stay overnight. While at the cave, he is assaulted by two vampires and is only able to truly destroy them by using the staff. Upon seeing him defeat the vampires, the woman tells him that the land is crawling with these unnatural beings. She asks Solomon to get rid of them, because other than Solomon, the only thing to stop the vampires is fire.
He agrees and prays to God for assistance. Solomon is clearly conflicted about using a staff that seems to have been made with dark magic, however, the staff is the only weapon he has that works. After his prayer, the spirit of N’Longa speaks to Solomon and advises bringing the woman’s lover to the cave.
When the lover comes to cave, he is instructed to lay down and the staff is placed on him. N’Longa then possesses the body. Solomon and N’Longa go on the hunt for the vampires, leaving the staff behind to protect the woman and her lover.
A swarm of the vampires attack and Solomon tries to fight them in vain with this musket. Luckily, N’Longa summons a flock of seagulls and then the vampires ran so far…so far away.
It was a flock of vultures that decided dead man flesh would be delicious. Then N’Longa torched the grasslands that the the vampires were “living” in, thus removing the threat from the village. The two go back to the cave and N’Longa un-possesses the woman’s lover.
Once again, this is a story with minimal use of Solomon. He sets things up…but ultimately N’Longa does a lot of the heavily lifting. While cleverly using the vultures to eat the vampires, part of me wonders if this story would have been better if Solomon and the staff were more prominent in the resolution.
Sometimes, it seems like Robert E. Howard had a good idea for something weird or creepy and then thrust in Solomon Kane. I don’t enjoy the stories when Kane is not driving the action or is central to the resolution.