Real Name: Unrevealed, possibly Zug
Identity/Class: Uncertain, possible demon or deviant mutate
Group Membership: None
Affiliations: Worshipped by the Zugites
Enemies: Conan, Hobb of Anuphar, Red Sonja, Yasmela, Zula
Known Relatives: None
Aliases: Dweller in the Pit;
Thugra Khotan was believed to be the human incarnation of Zug
Base of Operations: The pit beneath the Ivory Dome of Kuthchemes
(mentioned) Weird Tales Volume 21, Number 6, Black Colossus (June, 1933); Savage Sword of Conan#2 (October, 1974)
(seen) Conan the Barbarian I#250 (November, 1991)
Powers/Abilities: Zug is an immense creature, at least 20-25' in diameter. It possessed dozens, if not hundreds, of eyes and tentacles. Each tentacle proved as strong as a human being, but they were still quite vulnerable to a swordslash. . It apparently slumbered beneath the Ivory Dome, able to exist without feeding for millennia. Due to its immense size, it was usually mistaken from the floor of a chamber. When disturbed, it would attack and consume any who stood too long upon it. It had a single mouth, with many large sharp teeth, to which its tentacles pulled its victims.
History: Zug's origins are unknown, other than it existed beneath the Ivory Dome of Thugra Khotan, in Stygia, @ 13, 000 BC. It may have been there for thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of years.
(Savage Sword of Conan#2/Conan the Barbarian I#247 (fb)-BTS) - Thugra Khotan locked himself inside his virtually impenetrable Ivory Dome, sealing the pit that contained Zug from the outside world as well.
(Savage Sword of Conan#2/Conan the Barbarian I#250-BTS) - Thugra Khotan was deified by the Zugites 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 Darkness.
(Conan the Barbarian I#250) - A group including Conan, Hobb, Red Sonja, Yasmela, Zula, and five Zugites traveled to the chamber beneath Thugra Khotan's temple. Motivations varied, but all involved witlessly dropped onto Zug and passed across him to the River of Darkness unmolested. The three Zugites were otherwise occupied, but the others made it back to the entrance to the chamber above. As they moved about, climbing the rope to the top one at a time, they awakened Zug. Hobb was the last to grasp the rope, and as the others tried to haul his bulk topside they were met by an even stronger force pulling from beneath. Despite his other (less than pleasant) feelings for Hobb, Conan could not leave anyone to perish "in that fiend's embrace," and so he leapt back down into the lower chamber, attacking Zug with his sword. Zug soon enwrapped Conan with its tentacles as well, at which point the others (who had since pulled Hobb to safety) began dumping Thugra Khotan's treasures onto the monster. Hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds of gold coins and jewelry rained from above pelting the monstrous Zug, distracting it enough for Conan to pull free and begin to scale the wall. As Conan made it out, Zula managed to take out a pillar in the chamber, causing the roof above to collapse on Zug as well.
Comments: Created by Robert E. Howard; Adapted by Roy Thomas and Mike Docherty.
Zug could be a demon, such as the Old Ones, as described under the Clarifications for the Elder Gods. Alternatively, it might have been a Deviant mutate. Or it could be an alien, or anything else.
There's no proof that Zug was killed in the attack, and he could well be hiding out in some subterranean cavern below Egypt (which Stygia eventually became).
There was an error in Savage Sword of Conan#2, in which Natohk took Yasmela from the battlefield to his temple in Kuthchemes, which was hundreds of miles away. In REH's Black Colossus, he took her instead to the ruins alongside the battlefield. In 1991, Conan the Barbarian I#249 corrected that error, but that meant that the treasures of Kuthchemes were laying open for anyone to grab...which led to the story told in Conan the Barbarian I#250.
The use of a coin to pay the ferryman for a trip across the River of Darkness is obviously derived from the Greek/Roman Myth of paying Charon to ferry the dead across the River Styx. The Hyborian era (16, 000 - 8, 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 Darkness.
No known connection to:
The Ivory Dome of Kuthchemes
Built at least 13000 BC, this dome was made the resting place of Thugra Khotan and his priests when the Hyborians overran Stygia. Once closed, the Dome proved impenetrable to the weaponry of the time. It could only be opened by a certain unlocking mechanisms, which could only be activated by pressing a series of stones in a specific order. The dome was built over the chamber which housed Zug. The chamber above Zug's also held Thugra Khotan's legendary wealth--an inordinate amount of gold.
--Weird Tales Volume 21, Number 6, Black
Savage Sword of Conan#2 (Conan the Barbarian I#247(fb), Savage Sword of Conan#2, Conan the Barbarian I#250
River of Darkness
Serving as a perhaps magical counterpart of the river Styx, which lay above ground, the River of Darkness served as the passageway to a realm of Death. The obsidian waters of the River of Darkness destroyed virtually anything that touched it--living or dead.
Only the boat of the Ferryman could abide its
waters. The Ferryman carried a scythe which served as both a
weapon and a prod to push the boat along the shallow waters. The
Ferryman would collect a Zugite coin in order to transport
passengers across the River. Those who could not pay were
refused, or met the end of his scythe if they tried to force
their way across.
The living who crossed the River were assailed by images of their loved ones, or perhaps even aspects of themselves, which attempted to drive the passengers into the destructive waters. Zula saw his long lost parents, and past friends, such as BÍlit. Conan, however, had to fight off first a younger version and then an older version of himself.
At the other side of the River of Darkness was
an immense skull with its mouth held open. Those who made it to
the other side were mentally drawn into its mouth, which then
suddenly slammed shut, insuring death, and transporting them to
an unknown location.
Any who passed back across the River of Darkness and attempted to escape the chamber had to face Zug himself, who wish to devour them.
--Conan the Barbarian I#250
The Zugites worshipped Zug as their God. Mistaking Thugra Khotan for the human incarnation of Zug--since he dwelled above Zug's chamber--they created a coin with Thugra Khotan's face upon it. This coin served as the currency to pay the Ferryman to carry the dead across the River of Darkness to the realm of the Dead.
Once learning that the Ivory Dome was open, five Zugites, including Shathrazan, Otanes, and Myrcinus (from left to right) coerced Hobb to lead them there, so that they could encounter their god. At the Dome they encountered Conan and his allies, and managed to take Sonja and Yasmela hostage to force the others to allow them to pass. They used a coin to pay the Ferryman to cross the River of Darkness, but once across, they fell under the spell of the giant skull, into which they walked. Out of which, they did NOT walk.
--(mentioned) Savage Sword of Conan#2; (seen) Conan the Barbarian I#250
Savage Sword of Conan#2 (October, 1974) - Roy Thomas (writer/editor), John Buscema (pencils), Alfredo Alcala (inks)
Conan the Barbarian I#247 (August, 1991) - Roy Thomas (writer), Gary Hartle (pencils), Mike DeCarlo (inks), Mike Rockwitz (editor)
Conan the Barbarian I#250 (November, 1991) - Roy Thomas (writer), Mike Docherty (pencils), Ernie Chan (inks), Mike Rockwitz (editor)
Last updated: 11/26/02
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