|June 1979 / July 1979: Merchant of Unshib|
|Writer & Artist||Dave Sim|
Cerebus, travelling alone in a week-old blizzard, heads south towards Iest. Almost out of food, he tracks a rabbit but runs into Red Sophia, who offers him a dinner of "bunny burgers." Cerebus refuses, but Red Sophia tells him she is tracking an intact Black Blossom Lotus. Cerebus is intrigued because, as he states, "there hasn't been an authentic fragment discovered in nearly fifty years." They go to her tent.
Sophia relates that her husband, Tanes Feras, is dead because "she will only give herself to one who has defeated her in battle," and Tanes didn't survive the last battle. She starts to tell Cerebus how she learned about the lotus while trying--and failing--to seduce him (he did defeat her in battle, in issue 3). She plans to sell the lotus to the head of the Palnu Council for 40 gold pieces.
Her original confederate, Meirgen, appears, mistakes Cerebus for a Khaiven, and tries to kill him. Once Cerebus knocks him out, Sophia says he is the son of the lotus's previous owner, a T'Capmin jeweler in Ress. A merchant from Unshib bought the lotus from Meirgen's father, who didn't realize its value, and is now transporting it to Palnu.
The three go to reconnoiter the merchant's caravan. They notice that it is guarded by twenty-year veterans of the T'Capmin border guards, known for their tenacity, short tempers, and devotion to duty. A guard comes from behind and surprises them. Sophia brazenly tells Throgo (the guard) they want to steal the lotus. He agrees to throw in with them but demands two shares and a "fringe benefit": Sophia. Miergen objects. To safeguard the plan, Cerebus has to injure him.
They find a bridge. The original plan, as conceived by Cerebus, is to collapse the bridge while the caravan crosses it and "pick the lotus out of the rubble that lands at the bottom." Cerebus suggests that he shadow the caravan while Throgo weakens the bridge and Miergen heals. Because of the cold, he borrows Throgo's furs ...
... which is part of his own plan. He finds the caravan and screams that Khaiven sorcerers have "changed" him. The guards rush off to the bridge to find the "sorcerers," leaving "Throgo" behind to guard the merchant alone. Cerebus quickly convinces the merchant to hand over the lotus and vanishes into the night.
- Cerebus (last seen in issue 9; next appearance in issue 11)
- Red Sophia (last seen in issue 3; next appearance in issue 57)
- Meirgen of Ress
- Throgo, a "twenty-year" Tcapmin guard
- a merchant of Unshib
- Khaidoge the Ungovernable, mentioned only, no appearance
- Tanes Feras, mentioned as dead
Miriad #6, winter 1981
Dave: "Issue 10 was the first one where I started doing that, using a Hunt 102 pen nib and using series 4 Windsor Newton brushes. I've expanded into other brushes and other pens and whatnot since then, but that's really sort of the bulwark of it."
- (page 3) Sophia's offer of "bunny burgers" would indicate that her vegetarian inclinations (issue 3, page 12) seem to have vanished. (Alexx)
- (page 5) Almost fourteen months have passed since her marriage to Tanes, so the anniversary she mentions happened only a few weeks before this story. (Alexx)
- (page 8) The "council head in Palnu" is never identified by name. We never learn who wanted the lotus or why (see next issue).
- (page 13) Throgo seems to make a mistake when calculating his share, but no one corrects the only man with a crossbow. (Alexx)
- The coins being wagered here appear triangular in shape. These may be triangular wedges of larger denomination round coins. (Alexx) They may be chips/chits/counters of some kind.
- The merchant, the title character, never speaks, and only his hand appears. It's unknown if he's appeared since. (Alexx)
- The narrator mentions Henrot (Sophia's father) and Tanes Feras in passing.