Real Name: Thugra Khotan
Identity/Class: Human (Hyborian Era) magic user
Occupation: former arch wizard of Kuthchemes; later led rebel/nomad forces against Khoraja
Affiliations: Set (god), Old Ones
(invoked for power); Bas-Tet (former lover); Katuman, Nomads and Rebels of Khoraja;
ape-demon, Yun-Yothga (former allies)
Enemies: Almaric of Nemedia (aka Malthom), Conan, Khorajans, Mitra, Red Sonja, Taurus, Count Thespides, Yasmela, Zula
Known Relatives: None
Aliases: Natohk, the Veiled One, the Mad Prophet, the Masked Prophet; believed to be the personification of Zug by the Zuggites
Base of Operations: Kuthchemes, Stygia (@ 13, 000 BC); deserts outside Khoraja (@ 10, 000 BC); HYBORIAN ERA
First Appearance: Weird Tales Volume 21, Number 6, Black Colossus (June, 1933); Savage Sword of Conan#2 (October, 1974)
Powers/Abilities: Thugra Khotan had a number of magical abilities, including physical transformations of himself and others, manipulations of the weather, and the ability to call on Set or the Old Ones for further power.
(Conan the Barbarian I#247 (fb)-BTS) <13, 000 BC> -Thugra Khotan was the arch-wizard of Kuthchemes, Stygia. He held many rituals where, by the hundreds, chained captives had their heads hacked off in honor of Set.
(Conan the Barbarian I#247 (fb)-BTS) <13, 000 BC> - The Hyborians began to overrun Acheron and later Stygia. They murdered Bas-Tet, who was Thugra Khotan's lover.
(Savage Sword of Conan#229-BTS/Conan the Barbarian I#247 (fb)) <13, 000 BC> - As the Hyborians overran Kuthchemes, Thugra Khotan and his priests hid out in a virtually impenetrable fortress. He took a potion that cast him into suspended animation that he might survive until a time when he could get revenge on those who had put Kuthchemes to the sword. Before he collapsed, he transformed one of the serpents into the fortress into an inanimate staff.
BTS - Thugra Khotan was deified by the Zuggites into the personification of their god, Zug. His image was placed on a coin which was placed in the mouths of the dead, to pay for their trip across the River of the Dead.
(Savage Sword of Conan#2) <10, 000 BC> - Shevatas the Thief learned of the riches contained within Thugra Khotan's Ivory Dome, and discovered how to open the secret locking mechanism to gain entrance to it. Once inside, he managed to slay the serpent that reformed from the staff, and found himself amidst a literal pile of gold. As he rejoiced in his newfound wealth, a shadow approached from behind and slew him.
(Conan#246 (fb)/Savage Sword of Conan#2 (fb)) - Natohk, the
Veiled One, arrived in the deserts outside Khoraja, on the back
of a black camel that sprouted wings and flew off into the night
after he dismounted. Natohk was joined by his ape-demon emissary
and then began to unite the nomads and other small city states
against Khoraja. To prove he had the power to enable them to
overcome the rulers (actually descended from Kothians who had
conquered Khoraja many years before), Natohk sent his emissary to
Fahim, a thief of Shumir, who was with one of the groups of nomads, saw Natohk's veil blow aside, and recognized his face as the same as the one from the Zuggite coins he had seen--and thus realized him to be Thugra Khotan.
(Conan#245-248-BTS) - Natohk continued to gather allies and struggle against the Khorajans through his emissaries and allies. Meanwhile, the Khorajans hired an army of Nemedians to defend them, including Conan, Red Sonja, and Zula.
(Savage Sword of Conan#2/Conan#249) - Natohk sought to claim
Yasmela, princess of Khoraja, as he believed her to be the
reincarnation of his long-dead lover, Bas-Tet. He began plaguing
her with nightmares. Yasmela sought aid by preying to the god
Mitra, who told her to walk out into the streets and make the
first man she encountered the leader of the Kingdom. Not too
surprisingly, the man she encountered was Conan, who thus
ascended from a captain among the mercenaries.
As the battle was engaged, Conan ordered his troops to fall back and maintain the high ground, rather than fall into an apparent trap of attacking a smaller group of nomads. Count Thespides mistook Conan's savvy for cowardice and led a group of the royal Khorajan army after the nomads. These men were slaughtered when Natohk appeared and hurled a handful of powder at the army, which caused them all to burst into flames and burn to death. With the trap sprung, Conan led the mercenaries to engage Natohk's forces, but Natohk himself left to pursue the unprotected Yasmela. He burst into her tent, and then carried her away on his chariot, pulled by the winged camel, Yun-Yothga, under the reins of the ape-demon.
Conan pursued Natohk in an effort to rescue Yasmela, and Zula called upon the magic of his Chthon Scroll to prevent Natohk from escaping. When Zula invoked the power and name of Chthon, the ape-demon broke his alliance with Natohk and hurled him (and Yasmela) from the chariot, into the ruins of Kuthchemes. Conan pursued him into the temple, where he revealed himself to indeed by Thugra Khotan. Feeling that lust for Yasmela had weakened his magic, he planned to renew his power by feasting on her soul. Khotan turned his staff into a giant serpent to hold off Conan while he did the deed, but the barbarian swiftly beheaded the snake. Khotan then summoned a dead black scorpion to kill Conan, but before he could even release it, Conan hurled his sword, skewering the wizard through the chest and killing him.
Comments: Created by Robert E. Howard. Adapted by Roy Thomas and John Buscema.
As discussed in Savage Sword of Conan, REH used numerous parallels from "Black Colossus" in the story of Xaltotun, "Hour of the Dragon." "Black Colossus" took place ten years earlier in Conan's lifetime.
Red Sonja and Zula were ret-conned into Black Colossus. As best as I understand, REH's Red Sonja (Sonya) was not actually around in the Hyborian era, but instead was a closer contemporary to Solomon Kane, around the 16th Century. Zula is, I believe, a Marvel creation entirely. Neither of them were in the Savage Sword of Conan story, but were weaved into the extended version told in Conan#246-249, @ 1991.
The use of a coin to pay the ferryman for a trip across the River of the Dead is obviously derived from the Greek/Roman Myth of paying Charon to ferry the dead across the River Styx. The Hyborian era (16, 000 - 18, 000 BC) obviously predates the Greek and Roman Civilization, but it makes sense for the Hyborian version to have simply continued into the later legend, especially given the location of the real River Styx (Stygia, which became Egypt) in the Hyborian Era, and its connection to the underworld's River of the Dead.
Zula held the Chthon Scroll, a precursor of the bound Darkhold, which he had used against Varnae just a few issues before, @ Conan#245.
As detailed by Roy Thomas, the Conan the
Barbarian series had reached the point in Conan's chronology of
"Black Colossus," but wanted neither to skip nor simply
retell the story already told in Savage Sword of Conan#2. Thus Conan#246-249
expanded and elaborated on the back story behind the war against
Khoraja, and the histories of Thugra Khotan, his emissary,
Katuman, and others, while also bringing Red Sonja and Zula into
the picture to fill it out further.
In addition, in Savage Sword of Conan#2, the name Amalric was changed to Malthom, to avoid confusion with the similarly named Amalrus, king of Ophir. Almaric of Nemedia revealed himself to be sometimes called Malthom in Conan#246, and Roy Thomas explained the reasoning on the letter page of Conan#249. see also Clarifications.
Natohk/Khotan. This predates Namor/Roman by well over a decade.
It's probably just my desire to tie all kinds of things together, but I see the ape-demon/thing, the various carnivorous monster-apes of the Hyborian era, and any other similar creatures from any era to be potentially tied to the ape-god Hanuman. Maybe someday I'll work out a nice list, similar to the Cockroach Conspiracy...uh...the Ape ASavage Sword of Conaniation...or the Simian Squadron...the Gorilla Guard?
Not to be confused with:
Amalric of Nemedia, aka Malthom, should be distinguished from:
She was Thugra Khotan's lover (and presumably a Stygian) @ 13, 000 BC. When they Hyborians overran Kuthchemes, they killed her.
--Conan the Barbarian I#247
The ape-demon (or ape-thing) is an agent of unknown gods/demons. He, along with Yun-Yothga, came into alliance with Natohk, apparently against his wishes, as he had no particular love for the Veiled One. The ape-demon worked secretly with the Khorajan rebels (natives of old Khoraja), in hopes of slaying the government and the army of mercenaries hired by them. The ape-demon brought a number of icons to the rebels, which would be placed in the barracks of the mercenaries and would then release a lethal gas. This plot was discovered and foiled by Conan, Red Sonja, and Zula, and the Ape-Demon fled with the icon.
Later, the ape-demon drove Natohk's chariot as
he abducted Yasmela. In an effort to stop Natohk, Zula began to
read from the Chthon Scrolls. At the mention of Chthon-one of the
gods older than the gods--the spell binding the ape-demon to
Natohk was broken, and it cast him from the chariot, broke its
alliance and fled.
The ape-demon then commanded the winged camel to assume its true form, as Yun-Yothga, and to fly them back out to the "Black Suns which devour light." Before they could get too far, Red Sonja leapt aboard the chariot and attacked him, and Zula followed her. As they struggled, the ape-demon snagged the Chthon scrolls from Zula and declared his intent to use them to achieve power that Thugra Khotan never dreamed of. However, as it boasted, Zula skewered it through the chest. While even this, seemingly mortal, wound still couldn't kill the ape-demon. It did weaken it long enough for Zula to hurl the ape-demon into Yun-Yothga's mouth. When the dragon bit down on the Chthon scrolls in the ape-demon's hand, they were both obliterated by the magical energy released.
Zula recovered the unharmed scrolls.
(Journey Into Mystery I#627 (fb)) - The emissary attended the Devil's Advocacy to talk about the Serpent (Cul)'s actions on Earth.
--Black Colossus, Savage Sword of Conan#2 (Conan the Barbarian#246 Savage Sword of Conan#2/Conan the Barbarian#249, Journey into Mystery I#627
According to the ape-demon, this winged dragon was "birthed among the dark stars." It took the form of a camel while it served Natohk, but after his defeat it returned to its dragon form. It tried to assist the ape-demon in fighting off Red Sonja and Zula, but was instead tricked into biting down on the Chthon Scrolls, which destroyed both the dragon and the ape-demon.
--Black Colossus, Savage Sword of Conan#2 (Savage Sword of Conan#2/Conan the Barbarian#249
Savage Sword of Conan#2 (October, 1974) - Roy Thomas (writer/editor), John Buscema (pencils), Alfredo Alcala (inks)
Conan the Barbarian I#245-247 (June-August 1991) - Roy Thomas (writer), Gary Hartle (pencils), Mike DeCarlo (inks), Mike Rockwitz (editor)
Conan the Barbarian I#248-249 (September-October, 1991) - Roy Thomas (writer), Mike Docherty (pencils), Ernie Chan & Gerry Talaoc (#248) (inks), Mike Rockwitz (editor)
Savage Sword of Conan#229 (January, 1995) - Roy Thomas (writer), Mike Docherty (pencils), ER Cruz (inks), Richard Ashford (editor)
Journey Into Mystery I#627 (November, 2011) - Kieron Gillen (writer), Richard Elson (art), Ralph Macchio (senior editor)
First Posted: 10/31/2002
Last updated: 08/16/2012
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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