Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Tale of Zhoro

Today is the Holy Day of Zhoro, God of Heat, which might explain the temperature outside. He must be judging us. . .


Zhoro’s twin sister Rívorí, Goddess of Wildfire, clung tightly to Zhoro’s ankle when They were born. From Zhoro’s blue skin, it was obvious to Their mother Hívuítoví, Goddess of Rain, that Rívorí had held back Zhoro in an attempt to be born first. Despite the lack of needed air, Zhoro bested His sister, but He has blue skin to this day. While Rívorí held Him back in the womb, Zhoro’s hair grew thick. Much like His father Zhíanoso, High God of Fire, Zhoro’s hair is bright red.

Zhíanoso greatly favored His son over His daughter, for Rívorí continued to sabotage Zhoro’s efforts and Zhoro continued to overcome Her attempts. Zhoro was a great hunter Who could track a stag over miles of windswept terrain, while Rívorí remained at home, plotting ways to damage Zhoro’s bow, arrows, and even His sandals so He would fail on His next hunting trip. When Zhoro’s bow string snapped as He lined up a perfect shot, however, the blue-skinned young god quickly fashioned a slingshot from His belt and brought down His target with a single rock.

Every time Zhoro brought home His kill, Rívorí showed Her great disappointment by storming off and setting fire to anything She could find. Zhíanoso would reprimand His daughter for these actions, for it was an improper use of His fire, but She would not behave for long. Thanks to Rívorí’s reactions, Zhoro quickly learned that She had been sabotaging His tools, but He would not stoop to Her level by retaliating or having Her punished more than Their father already was doing.

For Zhoro’s fifteenth birthday, Zhíanoso arranged a grand celebration. All the gods were invited. Fireworks and a feast were prepared. Furthermore, Zhíanoso planned to give Zhoro a blessing, bestowing upon His eldest child great powers to control fire and volcanoes and to cast judgment upon souls. When Rívorí caught wind of this news, however, She devised a plan to gain that blessing for Herself. Sneaking into Zhoro’s bedchambers, Rívorí cast a sleeping spell upon Her brother. She then slipped into His clothing, affixed a red beard to Her chin, painted Her skin blue, and proceeded to attend the celebration as if She were Zhoro.

No one noticed. All the gods congratulated Rívorí, thinking She was Her brother. Hívuítoví toasted Her son while Rívorí soaked in the praise, becoming increasingly irate at this affection in Her brother’s name and not Hers. Rívorí kept Her anger contained, however, all the way through Zhíanoso’s blessing. The great fire god bestowed massive abilities with regards to fire and volcanoes upon His daughter, thinking She was Zhoro. He continued His blessing and gave Rívorí the power to judge souls at the end of time. Rívorí accepted these powers with a bow. The assembled gods erupted in applause.

The next morning, Zhoro awoke and immediately knew something was horribly amiss. First of all, it was morning and He knew He had missed the celebration. Secondly, His clothes were missing. He stormed out of His chambers, intent on discovering what had happened -- fully concluding that Rívorí had sabotaged Him again. In the corridor of Zhíanoso’s castle, servants pointedly ignored Zhoro’s nakedness and congratulated Him on His new powers. Enraged, Zhoro shattered Rívorí’s door and burst into Her chambers to find His sister toying with a little ball of fire in the air between Her hands. Furthermore, His clothes were lying on the floor. Clearly She had received the powers meant for Him.

Rívorí smiled at Her brother and hurled the fireball His direction. Zhoro ducked behind the door frame, swearing retribution. The fireball exploded against the corridor’s stone wall opposite the doorway. Knowing He couldn’t defeat Rívorí with Her new abilities, Zhoro raced to Zhíanoso’s great hall, where He found His parents breaking Their fast. He told Them what Rívorí had done and that He intended to kill Her, the first chance He got. Hívuítoví told Zhoro to calm down and go put some clothes on. Zhíanoso chuckled and said He could give Zhoro great powers, too, but not if He vowed to murder Rívorí. Zhíanoso also refused to take back His blessings upon His daughter, even though they were unintended.

The young god fumed at His parents, but asked what powers He would receive, now that Zhíanoso’s intended gifts were under Rívorí’s control. Zhíanoso promised to give Zhoro the ability to judge souls not just at the end of time, but during history as well; He promised to give His son control over fire, heat, weather, and lightning; He promised to give Zhoro the strength to protect justice and righteousness and guide revelations; but only if Zhoro swore to not harm His sister.

Since those were all wonderful powers that fit extremely well with Zhoro’s personality and desires, He agreed. Right then and there, Zhíanoso stood while Zhoro knelt before His father. Laying His hand on His son’s thick head of red hair, Zhíanoso blessed Zhoro will all the gifts He had just promised. Zhoro then stood and bowed to His father, the previous night’s ceremony finally completed properly.

Beginning that morning, Zhoro began training to use His new powers. With Zhíanoso’s tutelage, Zhoro started fires large and small, He called forth the winds to flatten forests, and He tossed lightning with amazing accuracy. Zhoro excelled at bringing forth heat, making summer out of winter and deadly scorchers out of pleasant days. He could use the heat to kill His enemies but also to aid His allies who needed His warmth. Zhíanoso and Zhoro travelled the length and breadth of the universe, fighting for justice from the beginning of time till its end, wherever They were needed. Throughout the lands, Zhoro became known as the Lord of the Storm for His ability to unleash deadly sand storms and lightning upon His enemies.

During Their travels, Zhoro suggested that Zhíanoso should create a race of beings to assist the gods so that They did not have to work so hard controlling the universe. Zhíanoso saw this as a good idea and thus created human beings. We are in this world to worship the gods, do the gods’ bidding, and maintain control over all the lesser beings in the world. This lets the gods focus on what is important in the universe and live the life of leisure that They deserve.

Once, when Zhoro traveled to the distant past, He saw great suffering. At that time, the universe was ruled by Kérasa, High Goddess of Water, and Her favorite demon Kínoko, Who Kérasa had created with the singular intent of destroying the universe. Kérasa, after all, was evil. She waged war upon the other gods and all creatures of goodness and light. Kínoko’s demon armies laid waste to their adversaries upon every battlefield. Evil was about to completely obliterate all goodness and love. Zhoro had to stop Them.

Upon the demon Kínoko’s chest was the Tablet of Destinies, which proclaimed Kérasa to be the Ruler of the Universe because She owned it. Since the tablet was intended to last the length of the universe, it was indestructible. Kínoko, therefore, was able to deflect all blows as He rained His terror upon all. Therefore instead of shooting an arrow at the demon, Zhoro leapt upon His back and grabbed Kínoko tightly around His chest. Through the demon’s thick skin, Zhoro could feel His heart. Zhoro could feel the demon’s malice. He could feel Kínoko’s great sins.

The demon had to die. Judgment was passed. Zhoro flew backwards from Kínoko, meanwhile hurling a gout of lighting into the demon’s heart. Before Kínoko, Kérasa, or any of Their demon allies could do a thing, Kínoko’s body filled with flame and burst into a thousand scorched bits. The Table of Destinies lay on the blackened earth, unharmed. Screeching, the hundred-headed Kérasa swept down and snatched up the tablet.

Even from afar, Zhoro could feel Kérasa’s evil heart. He could sense the strength of Her malevolence and hatred. He knew She had to die.

Zhoro cast a net over Kérasa, ensnaring Her hundred heads and Her scorpion claws. Quickly, before She could move the Tablet of Destinies to shield Herself, Zhoro unleashed an arrow. It shot through Her fish skin and impaled Her evil heart. As the dragon goddess howled in pain, Zhoro called forth the winds and blew Her into a million pieces.

Once again, the Tablet of Destinies remained unharmed. Zhoro picked it up and presented it to Sorosotuzho, God of the Atmosphere, Who was the leader of the opposing army. All the assembled gods hailed Zhoro as the Heavenly Kingmaker and Sorosotuzho as the Ruler of the Universe. Zhoro bowed to the new King of the Gods and departed for another corner of the universe and history.

The Heavenly Kingmaker soon discovered, however, that Sorosotuzho was not as good a king as everyone had suspected. Although Sorosotuzho had, at first, shared responsibilities for running the universe with two of His sons, and this system worked exceedingly well for Them -- since human beings had not yet been created and thus the gods had more responsibilities -- Sorosotuzho soon began to grab power back from His sons. The more responsibilities He took, the worse the universe became, with chaos and violence spreading wide, which Sorosotuzho blamed on His sons, so He took more power from Them, and so on.

Zhoro declared this cycle had to stop. As Zhíanoso watched, Zhoro administered an ordeal of twenty-five tests to Sorosotuzho. The King of the Gods withstood intense heat to His each of His organs, He raced through flames, and He crossed the desert baked by a constant noonday sun, but when Zhoro commanded Sorosotuzho to focus on a candle flame until He lost sight of the rest of the universe, the bull-headed god couldn’t comply. Instead He stomped His feet and proclaimed the whole ordeal to be nonsense. Zhoro, however, had His answer. Sorosotuzho could not complete the tests and therefore was not a worthy soul -- certainly not good enough to rule the universe.

Our blue-skinned god thus took the Tablet of Destinies from Sorosotuzho and presented it to the air god’s son Korutuzho, God of Agriculture, Who was pleased and surprised to suddenly become the Ruler of the Universe. Zhoro watched Korutuzho for several years thereafter. Once satisfied that the new king performed well, Zhoro accepted His duty was complete and returned to the His travels through time

Not even the King of the Gods was above Zhoro’s judgment, so neither shall you be. Beware how you live, for the Restorer of Balance will test you as surely as He tested Sorosotuzho, Kínoko, and Kérasa. The Heavenly Kingmaker will feel your heart and know your sins. You must pray toward the fire, pray toward the sun, focus your thoughts, focus your devotions on righteousness, justice, and Zhoro. He is the warmth and light that helps us grow; He is the heat that keeps us alive. The Lord of the Storm shall be your protector, if only your heart is pure.

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