Son of Samson and the Witch of Endor
- "We desperately need the help of Samson's son. As you have seen, Lod is under a dark cloud, and its people are suffering! We want the serpent staff of Moses returned to Shiloh so Lod can be spared the wrath of the Hebrew God!"
- ―Aziza and Jareb ask Branan to help them steal the bronze serpent from Amalek's citadel
The prologue offers a comic book dramatization the story of Moses and serpent staff recorded in Numbers 21:4-9. En route to the promised land of Canaan, the Israelites recently emancipated from their servitude in Egypt grumble against their leader Moses and complain about their various hardships in the desert. To rebuke the people for their ingratitude, the Lord sends venomous snakes into the camp to bite the Hebrews.
Aware that the Lord has sent the snake plague as punishment for the Israelites' murmurings, the people cry out to Moses to intercede on their behalf with the Lord. God then directs Moses to fashion a serpent staff out of bronze and tells Moses that anyone who's been bitten and looks up at the staff will receive mercy and healing.
Chapter 1: "The Heavy Hand of God"Edit
Branan enters the unsavory town of Lod one night looking for food and shelter. While Branan refreshes himself with venison stew at the local inn, some thieves approach Uzal to rifle through Branan's camel packs. In typical style, Uzal spits a moutful of cud at the scoundrels, who then quickly decide to leave the camel be and make off with Branan's bundles instead. Using a clay pot, Branan bowls the robbers over and retrieves his belongings.
Back at the inn, the proprietor apologizes for the bad behavior of his fellow citizens and declares that Lod has suffered under a curse ever since Lord Amalek of the Philistines returned with the sacred serpent staff of the Israelites a month ago. Later that night, Branan wakes up to find demonic ogres lurking the streets, helping themselves to baskets of food the terrorized villagers have left out to pacify the creatures.
The next morning, a gang of ruffians claiming to represent the municipal transportation guild accosts Branan for money as he prepares to leave town. In the middle of the confrontation, a woman named Aziza intervenes and assures Branan that her brother Jareb's ambush was merely a test. Aziza sits down with Branan and Jareb at the inn and explains that she needs Branan's help to purloin the serpent staff from Amalek so she can return it to the temple priests at Shiloh. However, she warns that the powerful Witch of Endor also covets the bronze snake, believing it is magic and will grant her eternal life. Aziza also reveals that the demonic creatures that have been prowling Lod's streets every night scavenging for food are, in fact, the Witch's minions.
Unsure whether or to not to help Aziza with her mission, Branan agrees at least to accompany Jareb after dark to survey Amalek's citadel. But before the scouting party can get much spying done, the Witch's fiends emerge from their underground lair next to the citadel to begin their nightly sweep of the town. When Branan and Jareb return home, they discover that the witch's minions have abducted Aziza.
Chapter 2: "Ashtoreth Offering"Edit
Jareb hires Branan and some other men to help Jareb extract Aziza from the ancient catacombs beneath the city. The bravest of the bunch, Branan is the first to climb down the rope into the pit leading to the city's underground cemetary. While searching the subterranean caverns, the rescue party discovers Aziza bound to an altar in an underground shrine dedicated to the goddess Ashtoreth.
After freeing Aziza, the adventurers run into a band of cave-dwelling ogres, who are clearly the creatures skulking the streets of Lod at night. As the monsters menacingly surround Branan and his companions, Branan swings his mighty mallet and knocks the fiends out cold. Jareb then throws his torch at the remaining cave-dwellers so that he, Aziza, and Branan can escape. The three ride a stream of water back to the entrance.
Chapter 3: "The Witch and the Warrior"Edit
The next day, Aziza and Jareb review their plan to filch the bronze snake with Branan before heading out to Amalek's citadel. When they finally reach the fortress, Branan takes several moments to pray before busting through the large cedar gate protecting the facility. He and his comrades then engage the sentries on the first level of the stronghold before scurrying up the stairs to the next level of the place.
On the second level, Branan encounters and wrestles with a large black bear, ultimately neutralizing the beast with the trusty mallet. Branan hurries up the next flight of stairs and crosses swords with Amalek's three elite sentinels, the Warrior Maidens of Goshen. Branan's fierce brawl with the Amazons ends when he tosses a table at them and knocks them over.
When Branan reaches the top level of the citadel - Amalek's personal residence - Branan spies the serpent staff on the altar, just as Aziza foretold. Also there on his deathbed lies the pitiful and wizened Lord Amalek, who implores Branan to restore the bronze staff to the Hebrew priests at Shiloh and thus break the curse on the people of Lod.
Just as Branan promises he will do so, Aziza - the real Witch of Endor - screens herself behind a curtain and conjures up an apparition of Branan's father Samson. When "Samson" commands Branan to slay Amalek and entrust the serpent staff to Aziza, Branan perceptively smells a rat. While Branan is thus distracted with the apparition, Jareb steals the bronze snake from Amalek's altar and surrenders the staff to Aziza. The Witch of Endor triumphantly raises the staff in praise of Ashtoreth, who (Aziza believes) has just granted her immortality.
At that very moment, a divinely aimed lightning bolt strikes the roof of the stronghold, setting the whole citadel ablaze. Thinking quickly, Branan escapes the inferno grabbing the serpent staff and jumping off the roof of the fortress, miraculously landing unhurt. Branan then watches blithely from a distance while the citadel collapses and all his enemies perish within.
A few days later, Branan leaves Lod with many thanks (and much food) from the townsfolk, who are now no longer being terrorized by Aziza's demonic night creatures.