Myth of the Month: Shang-Hsa (1998)

The Reign of SHANG-HSA, may his name be cursed

The path to liberation is fraught with temptation. The true masters taught to us the safe methods, and to wander from their advice even to do good is to err. The lives of MaoTzen show us this.

MaoTzen was a great student of Darudism. From his post of meditation he discerned that the mass of humanity were a miserable lot, always in danger of illness, violence, and theft. This knowledge kept him from advancing towards his liberation. He decided that the task of liberating the universe would be easier if he taught to those ignorant peoples the secrets which he had learned. Thus, he reasoned, they would no longer provide him the distraction.

MaoTzen sent his consciousness to Yothbedta’s Stream, where the souls of humans are sent upon the Clear Stream to the wombs of those who will bear them. MaoTzen told Yothbedta to send him to where he had discerned the worst suffering, and she did.

MaoTzen was born from the womb of a peasant in Hemkarba, where demons ruled. They called him Jerem, at first, but after he began performing his miracles and wonders he was called Great Rebel Gem. He taught people the way to move and sacrifice to make dragons friendly, and he taught them to understand draconic speech. Before MaoTzen left the land many dragons had wakened in it, attracted by the serenity and power he had opened.

MaoTzen then had Yothbedta have him born westward, where even more demons lived, in Hesezmedi. He was called Gilamdestau, and was the son of an exarch among them. But in Hesezmedi the people were so evil that even as a child they feared him, because they were slaves to Chelen the Doubter, and didn’t believe even what they saw. MaoTzen hid among robbers, whom he enlightened, and who helped him regain his father’s rights. As a leader, then, he helped some holy folk to conquer their foes, and he wrote several books, and so left his ideas to grow among them. But he was killed by a rival, before his plan was finished.

Then MaoTzen slipped from being tempted to being a demon. MoaTzen bypassed Yothbedta’s stream, and entered right into the womb of a woman, who was his own concubine, and so was reborn as his own son. He destroyed the actual child who had been there, and this assured MaoTzen of rebirth as an antigod, and so ever since that event we call him only by his evil name, ShangHsa.

In Hesezmedi he quickly proved himself to be a scholar, so he was called Wise Knowing Demigod. He promised his people great powers if they obeyed him, and they did, so he taught those antigods his draconic secrets, and after a century of preparation he led an army to Kralorela. ShangHsa showed the invaders where to plunder, who to slay, and what to gather together in one place for him. They assembled the secret parts of the Hidden Dragon, then rushed to where Emperor Yanoor was hiding. Dragon to Dragon, the very earth and sky shook, and Yanoor was caused to see a falseness in himself. Yanoor, blessed and divine, undertook utuma [ritual suicide, which was first the act that created the world] and took the frightened dead of Kralorela with him to the Summer Land.

ShangHsa used the assembled regalia to make himself the Dragon Emperor, and then commanded his tribe to worship him, to become dragons quickly. They did.

They were the antigod dragons, and ShangHsa was the antidragon god. They ruled over Kralorela for 352 years before they destroyed themselves.

Godunya was a young man who fled from Kralorela when the antigod dragons scoured the countryside to destroy all which was good. He was no country boy, and was enslaved by cruel lords from Ignorance. After years he escaped, and after many sorrowful hardships finally found refuge in the enemy land of Hemkarba.

Godunya was taken into one of their monasteries, living in the beggar’s corner and eating crusts. He was invited to meditate, and accepted.

Those monks had never been properly trained in this, and they still planned to become dragons, but Godunya’s presence, example and lessons changed them. After a while many people came to learn from him, even many of their own seers. But once the rulers of Hemkarba learned of this, and heard what he was saying, they tried to kill Godunya.

Godunya had already departed the monastery. And was so peaceful that no troops, spirits, or even dragons could find him. This proved his truth and power to many, and soon his students went to other temples and cities with their liberating ideas. After years some even returned to confront the ruling council. A schism between the two draconic powers grew increasingly violent until a true dragon was summoned, which promptly devoured the council which did not support Godunya’s teaching.

Godunya then went to meditate and to wake the dragons of Kralorela, to see who they would obey. The Earth Dragon made the earth shudder, the Water Dragon made the Suam Chow grow deeper, the Air Dragon knocked down half the cities with a typhoon from the east, and the Fire Dragon burnt off the crops and trees from northern provinces.

It culminated in the War in Heaven. ShangHsa, the Evil Dragon, summoned its forces, and all Glorantha watched as dragons woke through all the worlds and converged for war. All which was false was destroyed.

During all this Godunya remained meditating, in a distant and lonely place. When the burnt lands grew back overnight, and the Suam Chow withdrew, and the knocked down houses grew into gardens, and the broken earth revealed great treasures, then the Exarchs suspected the true emperor was alive. They spoke to the souls of the dead, who said they had no worries, for they saw their emperor who would take them to the Summer Land. The Exarchs sent out searchers everywhere until Godunya was at last found, sitting amid the ruins of dead giants. They brought him home, and he was honored to become the Emperor of Kralorela.

Greg Stafford

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