THE THREE SISTERS
Real Names: Estregone, Mala and Ceres
Identity/Class: Extradimensional humanoid magic users
Occupation: Sorcereresses, confusers of men (but aren't all women to a certain degree?)
Affiliations: Conan (ally, employee, Mala's lover)
Enemies: Quiquayquod and his guardsmen
Known Relatives: unknown; Estregone, Mala and Ceres are all sisters (oldest to youngest)
Aliases: None known
Base of Operations: An unnamed otherwordly dimension (see comments)
First Appearance: Conan the Barbarian I#146 (May, 1983)
Powers: Estregone, the eldest of the sisters, possessed the ability to create cushions of power able to slow the descent of people falling, or (presumably) to deflect or block attacks. Estregone also demonstrated the power to teleport multiple individuals thousands of miles away at will, as well as draw them from distant places to her present location. It stands to reason she used some form of clairvoyance or psychic location in conjunction with this latter ability.
Mala, the middle child, demonstrated various creation type abilities that likely functioned on an energy to matter basis, the energy being drawn from a magical or unknown extradimensional source. Her powers of creation included manifesting living creatures such as venomous serpents. Mala could also create potions of various types with this ability, undoing their effects with an act of will.
Ceres, the youngest of the three sisters' powers were still as yet undefined, but Estregone mentioned it was likely she would grow to be the most powerful of them all. Ceres could create/project relatively harmless clouds of floating orbs of green energy, bright enough to dazzle an opponent. Also, by using a flute to focus her power, Ceres could perform a "rope trick", levitating a coil of rope into the air with enough strength to raise a two hundred and sixty pound man (like Conan) hundreds of feet into the air, but prolonged use of this power tired her.
There is nothing other than outward appearance to indicate the three sisters were human at all, or that their powers were magical in nature. It is entirely possible they were superhuman mutants of some kind (which makes Estregone's comment that Conan wouldn't fit in with the people back home even more appropriate). Whatever the source of their abilities, whether psychic, sorcerous, or otherwise, the sisters also had recourse to actual magic: chanting runes, using powders, and a giant mirror in order to create a doorway to the dimension of Quiquayquod's tower. (see comments)
History: An unspecified accident of sorcery trapped Estregone, Mala and Ceres in the Hyborian Era of Earth-616 for an unknown amount of time. One gets the impression from Ceres' buckskin bikini that it was long enough for her to outgrow her old clothes, having matured from a child into womanhood.
(Conan the Barbarian I#146)- Conan was just sitting by himself in a tavern, drunk, musing about how a city always deprived him of his gold, and staring morosely at his last tankard of ale, as Mala and Ceres watched him from the shadows. Having accidentally jostled a passerby in his drunken stupor, Conan found himself harassed by Ferdan, a local that disliked "hill bred scum" like Conan coming into town and consorting with their women. Jezvah, one of the tavern wenches who had time for Conan a day or two ago when he had money, tried to warn Ferdan he was making a mistake, angering Conan. Conan easily grabbed up Ferdan, and explained the situation to him: "Fellow... you talk too much. You look like a rat. And you just spilled half my ale. Go away!" then Conan promptly hurled him into a crowd of nearby drinkers before taking his seat again. Mala and Ceres decided Conan was exactly what they were looking for.
Meanwhile, the Brythunian Ferdan had expected the Conan to replenish the three flagons of the tavern's finest wine he spilled while crashing into their table, and quick. Too bad for him Jezvahl, who was holding his purse for him, had disappeared. The Brythunians tossed him into the next table down the line, and chaos ensued! Luckily the town constabulary showed up: "Everyone who's creating a disturbance is under arrest! Let's get the ringleaders first! Where shall we begin!" The constable pointed at Conan: "Let's start with that fellow who isn't joining in! I've never seen such a suspicious character in my life!" The tone for the rest of this story is pretty well set. Mala and Ceres leapt from the shadows to Conan's aid, each grabbing an arm: "Sorry, boys! We can't let you do that! We've been seeking a man like Conan for a long time." (What? A guy that gets drunk and then sits out a riot he accidentally started? Greg the Confused)
Mala, Ceres, Conan, table and all suddenly teleported away in a flash of light: "Maybe we'd better start with someone else. I told you he was a suspicious character!" Reappearing in a green nimbus, Mala and Ceres greeted Estregone as they divested themselves of their cloaks. Estregone seemed displeased in their choice of a champion, asking if they wished to spend the rest of their lives in a godforsaken land. Mala conjured a flagon of magic ale that made Conan more sober as he drank it, and soon he was deigning to notice he was on a mountainside outside the sisters' cavern home instead of inside a raucous tavern. Mind you, he wasn't so sober that he didn't promptly snatch up and proceed to grope Ceres, whose shock gave way to delight rather quickly. (Good ol' Conan! He has a way with the chicks, don't he?) Mala and Estregone managed to pull Ceres free and Estregone commented that she was quite convinced Conan was aggressive enough (and simpleminded enough) for their purposes. Afraid to leave Ceres alone with Conan, Estregone left Mala to convince the barbarian to join their cause while she and Ceres went to prepare the way. Conan promptly shagged Mala on the side of the mountaintop. Chanting runes and firing powders, Ceres and Estregone prepared the passageway to their destination. Estregone sent Ceres out to see how Mala was doing, and got an eyeful, deciding to come back in a few minutes.
Entering a large mirror enchanted by Ceres and Estregone, the unlikely quartet entered a hellish dimension in order to find the castle of the great wizard Quiquayquod. The path was perilous, and fraught with danger, thus it was Conan's job to ensure they reach their destination safely. "If it's so perilous, why are we going? I don't like meddling with wizards. They're a tricky, dangerous lot." "Quiquayquod has a fabulous treasure beyond price. We intend to steal it." "That's different. Just so there's enough loot to split four ways."
The group was swarmed by relatively harmless clouds of tiny green flying reptiles. Ceres became irritated with them, and scared them off with some flashing globes of energy. Mala was attacked by green tentacles which sprouted from the ground a moment later. Conan hacked at them with his sword, but they were invulnerable to his blows, breaking the blade. Conan pried the tentacles away from his recent bedmate by hand, only for them to suddenly vanish, replaced by a purple pterodactyl which flew off with Ceres in its talons. Conan leapt from a cliff and hopped aboard. Mala yelled for Conan to hold out his hand and catch, and suddenly a sword materialized in his hand. A quick slice caused the reptile to drop Conan and Ceres, but it was up to Estregone's magic to save them, cushioning their fall and bringing them to the ground.
Finally the four reached the tower of Quiquayquod (which looked an awful lot like a stalagmite). Conan noted the only unbarred entrance was a window close to the top. Mala decided that Ceres would handle getting them up to it. Because of Ceres' youth, her sisters were unsure exactly what her powers would be, but she could do one neat little trick with a coil of rope. Producing a flute, Ceres played a tune upon it, causing the rope (with Conan clinging to it) to rise up into the air. Conan reached the window and clambered in to find a vast treasure horde. "Crom's teeth... riches. Enough to buy a city...or a kingdom...or a continent. Yes, King Conan! I like the sound of that! And I'll have a wench for every day of the year...and every night...and gold armor for my soldiers, and..." Conan's daydreaming was rudely interrupted by a voice informing him he had riffled through the treasure for long enough.
Conan swung open the door to the treasure chamber to find his female companions in the custody of Quiquayquod and his guardsmen without. Quiquayquod said Conan should be grateful he allowed him to spend over twenty minutes enjoying his pretty daydreams-- long enough for the sisters to be captured. The wizard told Conan to not feel too bad, after all, they were going to betray him (of course!). It was a pity he was their dupe, since now he would have to die with them.
As the guards moved in for the kill, Conan gave Ceres a meaningful look. Taking the hint, Ceres cast her harmless green spheres everywhere. The guards flipped out, thinking it was a deadly enchantment, desperately trying to keep away from them. Conan sprung into action, illustrating his sword was far deadlier. The other sisters pitched in, with Mala conjuring giant poisonous snakes and Estregone teleporting two of her attackers to Vendhya. Ceres dazzled the remaining soldiers with her green glowing spheres as the plucky group fled through a nearby door which Conan promptly barred. Conan doubts it would hold the soldiers out for long, to which Estregone responded it wouldn't have to-- they had found the treasure they were seeking: the Power Ring of Quiquayquod! "You're joking! What good's that old hoop to anyone?" It turned out the Power Ring of Quiquayquod had the power to transport anyone anywhere they wished to go in this world, or any other. Conan promptly proposed they sell it, and became plenty angry when he realized the three sisters needed it to go home, and planned on leaving him empty-handed. Conan approached Estregone threateningly, prompting Mala to undo her sobriety potion. Being hit by the aftereffects of ten flagons of ale all at once slowed Conan down a bit.
Ceres felt sorry for Conan and, just like a little girl with a puppy, asked if they could take him with them when they return home. Mala seconded the idea-- he's awfully nice. "Now, girls. Don't be selfish. You know Conan would never fit in with the people at home. He'd hate it there. Say farewell to your barbarian and let's be off." Ceres joined with Estregone in channeling power into the ring: "Bye, Conan." Mala put a large bag into Conan's hand: "Conan, I'm so sorry things have worked out like this. I hate to leave you with nothing. Here, take this. It's only gold, but it seems to be worth something in this silly world." Conan responded: "But gold is all I ever--" Mala silenced him with a kiss: "Oh, you big wonderful barbarian! I'm going to remember you forever!"
Conan cames to mounted on his horse outside of town with the sack full of gold in his hand. How did he get there? How did he spend last night? He couldn't remember. But that's how it is with cities. They leave you alone and with an aching head. But this time he left with a purse full of gold, deciding to quit while he was still ahead.
Comments: Created by Mary Jo Duffy and John Buscema.
Possibly one of the funniest damned issues of Conan I have ever read. Kind of like the Barbarian meets Bewitched. Pretty nutty. A nice change of pace from the blacker humor prevalent throughout Conan, working because of its rarity in the series overall.
A few conjectures can be made about the dimension of the three sisters' origin: it is accessible by magical artifacts, many if not most people are possessed of strange powers much like their own, and gold is either very common or for some other reason is of little value to them. Whoever they are, and wherever they came from (whether goddesses, mutants, sorceresses, immortals, from the future or another dimension) it is more than possible for Estregone, Mala, and Ceres to reappear whenever and wherever a writer should choose to take an interest (however unlikely). As far as it is known they still possess the Power Ring of Quiquayquod which allows them to travel to any world of their choosing. Personally, I like to imagine the story ending on the order of Mala getting home to find out she has a barbaric bundle of joy on the way who grows up to be a sullen, black-haired youth exasperated with all the crazy magical goings-on of his relatives, and preferring his sword training to learning how to use his special powers.
In addition, as noted by Changeling:
In that that old Dr Who program the Daemons: The Doctor is referred to as "the wizard Quiquayquod" by Mrs Hawthorne, but this is all a ruse to win the villagers over to their side. Whether Mrs Hawthorne (a white witch) knew of Quiquayquod and used his name or just came up with it on the spot to get the Doctor out of a mess we shall never know. One thing Marvel's writers and Doctor Who's have in common is their ability to throw the continuity out the window whenever it suits them, so it kind of makes sense that Marvel would do a Doctor Who comic!
Quiquayquod possessed the Power Ring, the artifact the Three Sisters required in order to return home. He kept his castle underground, in what appeared to be a stalagmite, and was served by an army of faithful henchmen. He was one of the few wizards to have the distinction of not ending up on the pointed end of Conan's sword. In theory he is still out there somewhere, at least during the Hyborian Era. Maybe he wants his Power Ring back, maybe he's just happy to have escaped with his skin, who knows? - Conan the Barbarian I#146
Quiquayquod should not be confused with...
Albert Einstein, though once you get a look at him you might understand how he could...
by Greg O'Driscoll
The Three Sisters-- Estregone, Mala and Ceres-- should not be
Ceres, Roman goddess, alias of Demeter, Unless she is the goddess of the same name which seems highly improbable.
Estrogen, that wonderful hormone which allows women to develop those delightful secondary sex characteristics guys like myself are so enamored of
Last updated: 08/01/02
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