Myth of the Month: Shargash the Destroyer (1998)

Shargash is the celestial God of War. He is a great god, with power in all the worlds. In the sky, he is the Red Planet of War. On the earth he is the God of Alkoth. In the Underworld, he is the God of the Dead.

Shargash is a son of Yelm, one of the eight who was created before time began. When the first trouble began he was the one who bore the fighting power to defend the Golden Empire. Shargash is living trouble and was always ready to bring his violence against any foe who dared bring their own form of trouble into the peaceful Golden Land. Shargash was always eager to mix his troubles up against with another. But for a long time he was delayed, because the Golden Age was the Age of Peace. The Golden Emperor, our Lord of Peace, could foresee what would occur if his Empire of Stability used the principles of instability for self defense. But the Emperor was not omniscient, though he seemed to be so. He did not foresee the inevitability of instability, and so he was eventually crushed by his own lack of preparation.

Shargash was not unprepared when violence began. He had been ready to fight against the Dragon, and the Serpent, and the Red Goddess, and the Bird People, and the Dragonewts, and the Ice Gods, and the Black Eater, and the Too-many. But he had been forbidden at every opportunity, by order of the Emperor of Peace. So he kept practicing and preparing, and got better and better, even though his skills remained untested. Yet at each refusal Shargash was not discouraged, and each time he studied more, and learned from watching what had gone before, and so he was always keen in all knowledge of war and destruction. In the days when the storms were just starting, many deities were similar to Shargash, and had trained and worked to learn of violence and conflict as sports and as play.

Despite his perfect preparations, the Good Emperor fell prey to his light. He could not see a shadow, for he was the Source of Light. He was unjustly murdered in a most cowardly manner: a swarm of the Many surrounded the Emperor, all of whom were known but unrecognized; a traitorous goddess blinded him with her bat wings, a goddess held his legs so he could not flee, a small god clapped a hand over his mouth, and yet another cruel war lord struck ten times with the first sword ever made, forged from no metal, but from the power of Death. The Golden Emperor died, and went to the realm ruled by Kazkurtum, the Dead God.

Without the Emperor, Shargash was released at last. When he learned of his father’s murder he accoutered himself in his armor and glory, brandished his weapons, and rushed off to fight with Orlanth, the Ultimate Rebel, who wielded the First Sword. Shargash defeated Orlanth, whose sword had been stolen by others. Shargash pursued relentlessly. He demanded to know who was friend or foe.

Many beings sought to dissuade the sky god, others to simply delude and exploit him, others to resist actively. Shargash threw down every obstacle, seeking Death from whomever might have it and defeating all enemies without effort. The defeated include Orlanth and Kargzant, Zorak Zoran and Magasta. Yet none of them had Death, having passed it on to others.

Shargash at last met Death at the place in the Underworld which is called the Boneyard, which lies beneath clouds of flies and vultures, populated by packs of red rats and grey wolves. There were the corpses of Yelm and of his court, and before them all Kazkurtum himself, from whom Death had come, threw himself onto the bones and begged for mercy from Shargash. All the Dead bowed to him.

“Great One, like Fire to Fuel,” pronounced the god. Shargash bared his chest to Kazkurtum, and the bony god took from therein the burning Janata, the Killer Bolt. This freed the pure energy of Dispersion for Shargash to use. Kazkurtum remained his slave after that. No being, before or after, has been able to wield the Janata except Shargash.

Shargash was then able to fully express his true nature, spreading violence for peace and destruction for life. Among the many gods Shargash was called the Red Destroyer, and he alone was unbeatable. Barbarian gods and foreign magics had no effect upon him. The Storm Age did not defeat Shargash.

Shargash wished to protect his most loyal humans during these wars. Thus he took his ring (sometimes also said to be a bead, an arm band, or his Girdle) and he put it upon the earth around his people. This created the space called the Enclosure. This divine object is now the wall of Alkoth, our city, which has never been broken or breached. [By the way, another myth says that the walls were made when Shargash laid down this huge ornament to save the city from the flood sent by Oslira. Yet a third says that it was made to protect the people from the flood of poisonous blood which spewed from body of Burburstus.]

Shargash shared his powers with whomever sacrificed to him. He loved to receive human lives, and so when human lives were sacrificed to him before a battle Shargash was more likely to grant victory so that he could have more lives afterwards.

Many of Shargash’s victories are known and retold in other myths. His most important conquests are listed among his Names, the victims of Ruthless Courage: Umatum, Kargzant, Elmalus, Lesilla, the Thunders. He defeated the deities whose defeats had been deferred when Yelm, the Emperor, had been alive: Burburstus the Dragon, Oslira the Serpent Goddess, Sedenya the Red Goddess, Vrimak the Bird Lord, Lord Dragonewt, Himel and Valind, Black Eater, and the Too-many. He also defeated the Selfish God [Orlanth], the Cruel God [Zorak Zoran], and the Devourer [Derdromus] as parts of his routine life.

Shargash also fought against a third array of enemies which are generally not known to most other mythologies, for most gods were dead or in hiding when the Shargash, the South [Courageous] God alone stood against many evils. Those terrible powers had humbled emperors, queens, and deities but fell before Shargash. Then he fought the hordes of Dromakus. These were all terrible, evil, and monstrous things such as the Seven Monster Generals, the Two Not Twins, the Slime Dread Panic, the zakki insects, and the Sky Horror.

Anything which was peaceful was destroyed in those wars, and Shargash slew everything which was good in order to bring it within his Enclosure.

The greatest battle which Shargash ever fought was against the demon called Dromakus. It was the death of death, but Shargash the Destroyer destroyed himself to overcome this thing.

Dromakus was a chaos monster which was invisible to Shargash. In Dara Hapan philosophy, Dromakus was the Other of Shargash, wherein the Other is a weakness which is invisible to the viewer. In almost every case of a fire god falling prey to a foe, it can be interpreted as falling prey to its own Other. This is explained to be because a deity of light is incapable of seeing the shadows it casts, never mind its own shadows. So they all fell. Yet Shargash did not.

Dromakus was clever and had the power to take any shape. He tried to have himself killed too, so that he could come into the Enclosure. Dromakus disguised itself, changed itself, and attempted many deceits to enter the Enclosure. But he never did, for Shargash is a power which can not be tricked.

Shargash sat in the center of the world and called his enemy to him. Dromakus, devourer of the universe, rushed up like a monster with many heads and mouths. It bit and mangled, but was incapable of tearing Shargash apart. The mighty god threw himself into one of the maws, and into the maelstrom of chaos he fell, yet caught himself fast when he reached the belly of Dromakus. It couldn’t swallow him. Inside its belly Shargash saw a sky full of stars. Shargash then burned his own way out of the demon, which was cruelly hurt but not enough to die.

Then Shargash took the Janata and slew himself and thereby found refuge inside his own Enclosure. Himself in himself, Shargash dissolved. Then, within the confines of the Silence, Shargash trained and rearranged his forces. They did the first Cremation Rites there, and out of the thick smoke marched warriors to fill the ranks of Shargash’ army. When all was ready, Shargash pledged his word to his dead lord and received blessings, then went forth again to the Battlefield.

Dromakus was ready with a new army of his own, and the fight was fierce until Shargash threw down Dromakus. Shargash found the wound he had made when he crawled out of Dromakus, and with his strong arms tore is apart even wider. The stars flew out of its belly, along with a horde of smaller monsters too. Shargash’ army fell upon those monsters and slew them all.

Now once again Shargash proved his divine power and wisdom. Shargash did not slay the evil god Dromakus, but instead cut him into pieces. Out of each piece crawled the remains of some being, who were taken into the Healing Enclosure until they were cured by the White Goddess. Then later they rejoined the Creation in the new world.

Shargash placed the various parts of Dromakus in various containers, which were hidden around the universe with guards and magics protecting each part. Then Shargash went to the Stronghold, and from there he released the imprisoned animals and plants, so that the world was renewed again. Before the witness of the whole world, Shargash strode forth upon the heavens and made it right again, and all of life followed him.

He returned to the sky, and prepared it for the Dawn.

Greg Stafford

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