The Birth and Childhood of Iuz
Date: Sun, August 12, 2001
Topic: Myths & Legends
Feared and hated across the northern Flanaess, the demonic god Iuz's history is shrouded heavily in myth, speculation, and outright falsehoods. His true story may never be known.
The Birth and Childhood of Iuz
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Iggwilv was the Old Witch of the North, a shadowy, omnipresent threat whispered of by Perrenlander mothers to their husbands and children whenever they left the frail securities of the home for the mountains and wild woods. She was queen of covens, binder of storms and ghosts; the air around her hut swam with unnatural colors and visions, the sight causing miscarriages and curdling milk.
Graz'zt was an old demon, beloved by witches. Often he would come at their beckoning, the beautiful six-fingered lord of shadows, and teach them the secrets of magic and delight. Like vast webs, strong yet tender, loving but cruel, an aesthetic masterpiece, a beautiful perversion of the natural order, his empire stretched through the Abyss and the Oerth's hidden places among black wizards, dark elves, and the sly lamiae of old Baklun. When Iggwilv decided she would have need of a son, she knew that for a sire none but Graz'zt would do.
Deep in a cave selected for the strong magical currents that flowed through it as they passed between the worlds, she drew a circle on the floor carved with stories of longing and innocence on the edge of corruption.
She stood up and she was beautiful, a girl of sixteen who had come to Iggwilv's hut eager to learn what she could. Iggwilv had devoured her instead, and because she held her soul she could use it to make a mask that would fool even a demon king. "Graz'zt," she whispered, "come to me."
And Graz'zt was there.
He stood tall and powerful in the darkness, his perfect ebon body nude, his six-fingered hands nimble and strong.
Iggwilv shivered girlishly. "King Graz'zt," she quavered, as the real girl once had in Iggwilv's hut, "You're the only one who can help me regain what I have lost. My father's dead, and his wife won't stand even the sight of me."
"Yes," breathed Graz'zt, his voice youthful, with the air of a satisfied house cat. "Graz'zt will show you all you need to know."
Iggwilv bore the night grimly, without pleasure. She crept out of Graz'zt's arms as the demon fell into the witch-sleep her contingency spells ensured. In the dark and sleep she bound him with deva's sinews consecrated to his rivals; the names of Orcus and Pazuzu she whispered into them, and they held their captive tight; she bound him with rituals inherented from Keoghtom and Lum, from Xodast and Tzunk, from the arch-magi of the Bakluni and the Warlocks of Ur. Assuming her true crone's form, she waited for her lover to wake.
The expression of shock on Graz'zt's face was predictable, but still entertaining. "Welcome to your new Abyss," Iggwilv cackled. "I have chosen you, O demon king, to bear my child. I hope you realize what an honor that is." Spirits came and flew Iggwilv away, the rushing wind drowning out Graz'zt's howls of rage.
Iuz was born from Graz'zt's flesh as he lay imprisoned within Iggwilv's ring of torment.
All night long the caves rang with the howls of the demon king, his beautiful body convulsing and twisting until, at last, with a shower of gore the cambion was free, gnawing his way out of his father's belly.
He resembled a human child, but with six fingers on each hand, six toes on each foot, and skin the same deep red as Graz'zt's blood. For three days he squatted on his father's chest, suckling on his awful wound and keeping it from healing.
Iggwilv returned on the third day, a small casket clutched in her left hand and a maiden's thighbone in her right, the juicy meat not yet completely gnawed off. She set these down and took her son in her arms, deftly avoiding the young one's fangs. The infant's eyes glowed as if burning with all the fires of the Abyss. "Run, mother, run," Iuz squealed, "Run back to your hut, for if you continue on this path yours and Graz'zt's positions will reverse."
With disgust, the witch cast her babe into the box. "Think you that Iggwilv can be wyrd-bound by such as you, youngling?" She spat at her child, her spittle running green down his face.
"Young am I?" asked Iuz mildly, his smile making his cat's teeth shine. "No, mother, I am old. I am old as darkness, old as lies, and old as the doom of all."
"Then I am the mother of doom, the mother of lies, and the mother of darkness," Iggwilv waved a bony hand as a ghost picked up her son's casket and flew with it deep into the wastes, loosing a new bogeyman into the unprepared Flanaess.
Graz'zt, his eyes flashing hatred, held his peace as his wound slowly stitched itself back up.
* * *
The airy dead dropped Iuz on the blasted heath and left him. The infant rose unsteadily on his newborn legs, took a step, and fell down. He concentrated, and his limbs were long and hooved. He stood up again and, like a young elk, began to run.
Rumors began to circulate in the cold north of a boy with eyes old as the Howling Hills, accompanied by drooling dire wolves and black-winged carrion birds. Soon, the stories and their subject grew, describing a lithe man with blood-red skin and satyr's horns who raided settlements, killing the men and raping the women. Sometimes he was a trickster, appearing as a wandering cleric of St. Cuthbert or a wild horse before stealing his victims' lives or souls. When an entire keep was lost to the apparition, special forces were sent from the Malachite Throne, battle-mages and imperial exorcists. They were never heard from again.
In the latter half of the fifth century the rulers of Perrenland grew weak and superstitious, creating an opening for Iggwilv and her daughter Drelzna to claim the throne there as their birthright. For the first time in centuries, she called Iuz to her side. Like a piece of the northern landscape, the cold and wild in humanoid form, Iuz lurked in wood and plain, hill and mountain, and beneath the lakes Whyestil and Quag. And, as all wild things must, he came to Iggwilv's call and stood before her veiled throne.
"My son," she said, "I have a task for you at last. You are to be my enforcer in this kingdom of ours."
"Cantonate," corrected Iuz.
"No," Iggwilv said sternly. "This is a monarchy now, and I am its monarch."
"It will not last," Iuz assured her. "But still, I will do as you suggest." His form shifted, and he was enormous, fat, his body more obviously humanoid and his face more obviously demonic.
"Don't I look like Orcus?" he said to his mother.
"Your father was Graz'zt," said Iggwilv, looking at the son she had created curiously.
"Whichever," said Iuz with a yawn.
"If you cross me, I will destroy you," Iggwilv warned him. "I can unmake you as easily as I made you."
"I'm sure," said Iuz, bowing deep.