Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Tale of Sozho

All hail Sozho, King of the Gods, Ruler of the Universe, the Magnificent One! Today is His holy day!

Y'all be good now, okay? He is watching!


Sozho’s father was Korutuzho, God of Agriculture and King of the Gods. Since Korutuzho was afraid that His children would overthrow Him the same way He overthrew His own father, Korutuzho swallowed His children when They were infants. Korutuzho’s mother, however, saved Sozho from this fate and raised Him in secrecy. She was Kara, Goddess of Soil. She let Korutuzho swallow a rock wrapped in swaddling cloth.

Far off in a little valley deep in the mountains, Kara raised Sozho with the help of a nanny goat to suckle the infant god. Kara couldn’t be there very often, so as to not raise suspicion, so it fell upon the nanny goat to protect, feed, and care for Sozho throughout His youth. Much later, when Sozho was powerful and the nanny goat was about to die, Sozho turned her into a golden statue so she could live forever in His temple.

Before that, though, Sozho grew big and strong under the goat’s care. He could run so fast that He seemed to have wings on His feet. He learned the ways of war and battle from the best teachers Kara could find. They taught Him strategy and swordfighting, horse-riding and archery, and everything in between. Kara gave Him a metal cloak of scales like a snake, enchanted so it would always wrap around Sozho’s body and could never be broken.

Only then, when He was fully prepared, did Sozho confront His father. Sozho strode across Korutuzho’s throne room and, with one sudden stroke of His blade, slit Korutuzho’s belly open. Out spilled Sozho’s four siblings -- fully grown -- and the rock Kara had substituted for Sozho. Only then did Korutuzho realize Who the god before Him was. Korutuzho knew He had been tricked. Dripping divine blood from His wound, Korutuzho retreated from the throne room, calling His allies to Him.

Sozho and His siblings chased Their father outside. There, on the open field, the two sides squared off in a battle for control of the universe. Korutuzho’s army of demigods and demons was large and strong, but Sozho and His siblings quickly gained supporters, as well. Sozho loved war and the controlled chaos of battle; gods and demigods were drawn to His strength and magnificence.

With His magic shield, Sozho was undefeatable. He slaughtered Korutuzho’s demigods by the thousands. Sozho’s brother Pétíso, God of the Dead, had a helmet that turned Him invisible, so He too destroyed thousands of enemies who never even saw Him. Their other siblings -- Nuvíní, High Goddess of Earth; Vasataté, God of Oceans; and Voro, God of Hearth Fire -- all fought valiantly and successfully, as well.

Soon, Korutuzho’s army crumbled. The god Who once ruled the universe was forced to flee. Sozho strode into Korutuzho’s encampment and took hold of the Tablet of Destinies. He Who controlled the tablet, controlled the universe. Sozho was now King of the Gods.

In His first act as king, Sozho divided the universe with His siblings. Korutuzho had tried to rule everything, but that had not worked well. Instead, Sozho delegated the earth to His sister, Nuvíní; the oceans to His brother, Vasataté; fire to His brother, Voro; and the souls of mortals to His brother, Pétíso. Each gladly accepted His generosity. Sozho saved the air and the desert, and all in them, for Himself.

Furthermore, Sozho banished Korutuzho to endlessly wander the wilderness, forever out of the way. He also banished Korutuzho’s allies to the underworld, to be under Pétíso’s watchful eye, and rescued Korutuzho’s enemies from there, releasing them back to freedom. One of those ancient demigods granted Sozho with a thunderbolt in thanks. Thus the Magnificent One gained another weapon in His arsenal.

Along with identifying the Ruler of the Universe, the Tablet of Destinies also contained the entire history of every mortal and god who has lived and ever will live. Sozho read these destinies, but refused to ever tell them to anyone. He insisted that although our futures are written in stone, each one of us must have the illusion of free choice throughout life, or else we would go insane.

After settling in as King of the Gods, Sozho married Nuvíní and begat Nazhoro, God of Coldness; Rézhíní, Goddess of Plants; and Vuzhí, Goddess of Life. Since Nuvíní was so often pregnant, Sozho also begat children by other goddess. These are Vítí, Goddess of Ice; Píríuso, God of the Sun; and Tarénara, Goddess of Hunting. Sozho was an extremely prolific father and the envy of everyone.

Even when He was siring children with other goddesses, He always remained faithful to His wife, Nuvíní. Sozho made sure the other goddesses knew that She was His wife and that He would never leave Her. He mated with Them just to produce more strong offspring to help the powers of good guide the universe and defeat evil.

Sozho also fathered a unique race of yellow horses, who were so fast and light-footed that they never trammeled a single blade of grass and never left a hoofprint in the sand. They galloped across the land as if they had wings on their hooves, just like their father’s feet.

Although Sozho had given His siblings great responsibility and power, His brother Pétíso grew increasingly agitated at Sozho’s role as King of the Gods. As the days and years went by, Pétíso would occasionally challenge His brother to fight, only to have Sozho refuse.

Despite the agitations of His brother, Sozho remained focused on bringing law and justice to the world. Like an oak tree growing strong and wide, a sturdy order to the universe brings the shelter of peace to all. To better execute His duties as Ruler of the Universe, Sozho would often fly across the world on a broomstick, an eagle at His side. From high above the world, He could see the actions of all. He sees the good. He sees the evil.

One of the evils which Sozho spotted rather quickly was the action of the demigod Vétsalasíoso. Far below Sozho, in His favorite temple, Vétsalasíoso stole the golden incarnate of the goat who had raised Sozho. The King of the Gods swooped down on His broomstick, chasing Vétsalasíoso back to the demigod’s home. Sozho’s eagle dove between Vétsalasíoso and his front door, stopping the thieving demigod out in the open.

Sozho alighted in the yard as Vétsalasíoso’s wife and daughter came running outside, screaming what was the matter. In a bellowing voice, Sozho informed all the world that Vétsalasíoso had stolen Sozho’s golden goat from His temple. The demigod had no defense, since he still held the statue in his hands. He admitted his thievery and said the statue was just so beautiful that his wife should have it.

The Ruler of the Universe corrected Vétsalasíoso. The golden goat was His statue and therefore only He should have it. Vétsalasíoso begged forgiveness, but Sozho refused. Repentance is only used by those who have wronged; instead of being forgiven, they should be punished. Sozho turned Vétsalasíoso and his wife into stone statues, right where they stood, as permanent symbols of what happens when one steals from a god.

The eagle plucked the golden goat from the stone Vétsalasíoso’s grasp and flew with Sozho back to the temple to place Sozho’s dear goat where she belonged. Thinking the matter settled, Sozho resumed traversing the world, bringing law and order to all.

When Sozho next returned to His castle, though, Pétíso accosted Him once more. Pétíso claimed that turning Vétsalasíoso and his wife to stone was excessive punishment for their crime. Although Sozho knew that Pétíso was merely upset that He would never be receiving the demigods’ souls, Pétíso claimed that this incident was definitive and clinching proof that Sozho was an unfit king.

Pétíso drew His sword and pointed it at His brother, challenging Him so insistently that Sozho could no longer ignore Him. Reluctantly, Sozho stood from His throne and descended the dais steps to the floor of the great hall. He gave a grave sigh and unsheathed His own blade.

The two brother gods faced off, preparing for battle. Pétíso put upon His head the Helm of Darkness, rendering Himself invisible, even to Sozho. Sozho wrapped his magic cloak around His body and was instantly thwacked in the back by Pétíso’s sword. Sozho spun around and tossed a lightning bolt where His brother had stood. The lightning exploded against the stone wall, missing Pétíso completely.

Pétíso struck Sozho again in the back, doing the King of the Gods no damage. Sozho quickly slashed His sword through the air behind Him. His blade received no resistance, and yet it must have nicked His invisible brother. Small drops of blood spattered on the floor, leaving a path wherever Pétíso moved.

Sozho watched the trail of crimson drops as His brother tried to get behind Him again. Pétíso kept moving, but didn’t strike since Sozho always faced Him. Deciding to end the duel and the challenge to His power, Sozho shot another lightning bolt. This one didn’t miss. The lightning slammed into the invisible god, blowing His helmet to the ceiling and completely obliterating Pétíso’s chest. The God of the Dead collapsed to the floor, He Himself now dead.

Sheathing His sword, Sozho returned to His throne. No one else would dare challenge Him for control of the universe. Sozho’s wife, Nuvíní, reconstructed and resurrected Their brother, Who shamefully retreated to His underworld castle, never to be seen by the living again.

Once that unpleasant situation was finished, Sozho and His eagle resumed soaring through the skies, watching over all. Far away in a desert kingdom, Sozho discovered a good and prosperous people. They were governed by King Vélasívésé, a wise man who had ruled for many years. Sozho landed His broomstick near the castle and spoke to King Vélasívésé in private.

As a symbol of the peace and order that Vélasívésé brought to his subjects, Sozho planted a fully grown oak tree in the middle of castle’s yard. He explained to the king that the tree would never need watering, but would remain strong and healthy as long as justice prevailed in the kingdom. Vélasívésé thanked the Magnificent One and promised to continue ruling well.

Many years later, King Vélasívésé lay on his deathbed. The oak tree was thicker and stronger than ever, with nary a rotten limb. Sozho returned to pay the king a visit. Upon seeing the healthy tree, Sozho knew that Vélasívésé had remained righteous and just. He offered to reward Vélasívésé by transforming him into an eagle upon his death. The king gladly accepted, becoming the king of the birds. To further the reward, Sozho transformed King Vélasívésé’s wife into a vulture, to forever be a good omen to the mortals of the desert.

To this day, Vélasívésé flies beside Sozho and His other eagle wherever He travels, offering his wisdom whenever Sozho wants it. If you ever see two eagles fly overhead, look for the glimmer of a god between them. Sozho is always watching you, whether you see Him or not. If you are good and righteous, He will reward you as He rewarded King Vélasívésé. If you are evil and degenerate, He will punish you as harshly as He punished the demigod Vétsalasíoso. Whatever you do in life, be sure you never cross the Magnificent One!

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